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May 3, 2019, 1:06 PM

The Good News in May, 2019 ~ A Message from the Pastor

I did something last Friday that I had not done in 40 years; I played volleyball. I played competitive volleyball for 90 minutes straight. It was an amazing experience. I loved it. I loved it until Saturday morning when I got out of bed. My legs were aching. I am sure you noticed that on Sunday also as I gingerly walked down the steps to do the prayers of the people. I am sure you noticed on Sunday where my smile may have seemed forced at times. I am sure you noticed it Sunday when I may not have been as interactive as I normally am.
I tried doing something that I used to do years ago. How would that statement work in our faith life? What did you do years ago that you have not done lately? Voraciously read scripture? Spend time in silent prayer? Spend time in spoken prayer? Go to a Sunday school class? Go evangelize? Feed the hungry? Give water to the thirsty? Clothe the naked? Visit those in prison? If you did those things, would your “religious muscles” ache because they had not been used in a while?
Ecclesiastes tells us that for everything there is a season, but it does not say that once that season is over, it is over forever. Spring follows winter every year. A season of your faith life that has passed may be coming back around as another season in the future. How can you prepare for that return? What exercises are needed to prepare? What tired old muscles need to be awakened to use again?

Suppose it hurts to exercise those muscles? Will we stop after one time, or will we try again? Me? You guessed it; I will play volleyball again this coming Friday night. I am hoping the muscles will loosen up with repetitive use. Now, about our faith life, how will you finish the sentence, “I will…”
Reverend Tom Ficklin

April 1, 2019, 4:00 PM

The Good News in April, 2019 ~ A Message from the Pastor

Rick Warren, in the Purpose Driven Church, proposed that church leaders ask of themselves, “What is our purpose?”, “Why do we do what we do?”, “What should we be doing?”, and “How will you do that?”.
He believes that churches will grow, maybe not necessarily in size, but in commitment if they will follow the following principles (definitions in parenthesis):
 To become warmer through FELLOWSHIP (to love each other more)
 To become deeper through DISCIPLESHIP (to help us become more like Jesus)
 To become stronger through WORSHIP (to tell Jesus how much we love Him)
 To become broader through MINISTRY (to meet people’s needs)
 To become larger through EVANGELISM (to bring people to Jesus)
What would church look like if we put those five words, and only those five words, on the agenda of every meeting we had? What if we did the right things for the right reasons as it pertains to every one of these? What would we stop doing that we are currently doing? Could we be using our energy in The Kingdom in much saner and healthier ways? What do we do, outwardly or inwardly, intending for self-preservation, where that energy could be better used if we focused on The Realm of God? Perhaps even in the nature of, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!”
Each one of those bullet points begins with, “to become.” Each one assumes an action towards a goal of warmer, deeper, stronger, broader, and larger. Not one mentions maintaining the status quo or current satisfaction. What does that say to you, to you about your current service in The Kingdom, The Realm of God?

Reverend Tom Ficklin

March 3, 2019, 9:47 AM

The Good News in March, 2019 ~ A Message from the Pastor

I am in one of those times where I want to read, but I simply do not have time to read a book. So, I have been reading articles.
I recently read an article about Easter Outreach. Forgive me, but as post resurrection Christians, Easter Outreach should be an everyday activity. But is it? But do we? And as much as I caution you not to ask “why”, I am going to ask you, “why don’t we do more outreach?”
Obviously, you do not have to answer my question, but how would you answer Jesus if He asked you, or scarier, when He asks you, “Why didn’t you do more outreach to my other beloved children?” “Why didn’t you talk to them about The Kingdom?” “What did you do for the least of these?”
I also have read a couple of articles on children in church. Should they be in worship or should they not be in worship? From those articles, I have formulated a question, “How did we, the church, participate in Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennials not coming to church now?” From these two articles it seems when we created children’s church, we told children that worship was not important. Now, the church family is surprised that they do not want to come to worship.
Again a “why.” Why were children removed from worship? Because the sermon was boring? I do a lot of things in a week that are boring for 20 minutes. Because the children cannot behave? I think we all realize what 6-year olds are like. I think we all realize what teenagers are like. I think we realize what every age in between is like. Is that really a reason to remove children from worship?
Both of these examples are about exclusion; someone is being excluded from The Kingdom and from worship. Who else do we exclude? What will it take for us all to become more inviting and accepting and graceful and merciful? Lent, leading up to Easter, is a great time to think this all through.

Reverend Tom Ficklin

February 15, 2019, 3:40 PM

The Good News in February, 2019 ~ A Message from the Pastor

Nothing in seminary taught me what to expect, nor how to navigate our last two years. We moved locations in January 2018 and then we moved rooms in September 2018. I am quite sure it has been tough on folks who do not like changes. What we did / are doing, is certainly not easy. We are making ourselves uncomfortable to be able to make others comfortable. The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks to altruism:
“I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was:
‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’
But by the very nature of this concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question:
‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’
The good Samarian engaged in a dangerous altruism.”
Altruism is the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others. I would suggest it is very hard to be altruistic too often. At best, we can probably manage for a spouse, a child, or a grandchild. Beyond that, selfless concern is hard. That being said, my question becomes, “How do our numbers speak to our situation?” Only two or three of our folks attend Sunday school. About seven or eight attend the weekly prayer times. Attendance in worship has declined to about fourteen on average. How are we answering the question, and the call?
We still worship well, even if it is with someone else. We maintain regular meeting schedules. We continue to love each other immensely. Our giving continues to hold up. I still worry about our attendance.
We did lose four amazing people this year – Dick Long, John Long, Evelyn Talley, and Claude Talley. We baptized no one. We led no one to Christ. My fear is we, as a church, are not as active in this area as we could be, or should be. How can we live more fully into our calling as heard in the Great Commission?

Reverend Tom Ficklin

January 4, 2019, 1:26 PM

The Good News in January, 2019 ~ A Message from the Pastor

What were you doing this time last year? God was doing a new thing with Southampton. As a body, we were preparing for the final service at 7521 Comanche and anxiously anticipating what worship at Woodland Heights would be like. We said goodbye grandly to a place that we will always hold in our hearts and in our memories. That place will always mean so much to so many.
Our move to Woodland Heights was comfortable as we established our new routine. We always worshipped well, and we continued that tradition. The people around us could not have treated us any better than they have. It doesn’t take very many minutes with any of them to realize how kind they are. They have welcomed all who wish to participate in all the various ministries that they do without making us feel like second class citizens or outsiders. There is enough work in God’s Kingdom for all of us, and each of us.
We fell in love with the chapel at Woodland Heights. It is just the right size and just the right environment for a body of our number. And then we heard God say there was yet another new thing that needed to be done by Southampton. We were called out of the comfort of the chapel to come along side Woodland Heights in worship AND in ministry. God loves us to worship well, but as we heard in a recent sermon, our work during the week must match our worship on Sunday.
Doing a new thing involves action. The mission of God (mission Dei) is to reconcile all of creation unto Himself. He depends on each and every person to participate in His mission. All these “new things” that God does have a purpose, and being asked to be obedient Christians, requires each of us to participate. What area(s) of service are you being called to serve God in 2019? How will your weekday service match your Sunday service? The Kingdom is counting on you! Reverend Tom Ficklin

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