WHILE NOT COMING DIRECTLY FROM A BIBLICAL SOURCE, Benjamin Franklin offered some wonderful advice concerning the foray into a New Year, advice that does contain a great deal of truth that can and should affect all part of our lives, especially as relates to our attempts to be faithful to Christ. Mr. Franklin is quoted as making the following observation:

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better [person.]

On this second Wednesday of 2019, I think it would be wise of us all to not only let the wisdom of this statement fill our mind, but to allow it to permeate every fiber of our beings. Imagine what transformational work might arise if we, indeed, allowed ourselves to live out these suggestions.


  • What if, rather than throwing up our hands and saying, "Well, that's just who I am, and there's no changing it at this point," we instead determined that we will do our best to let go of whatever vices may be grabbing our hearts and souls, robbing us of the joy of living the life to which Christ has called us?
  • What if, rather than continuing to let resentment, fear, hatred, and other negative thoughts and attitudes fester in us towards our neighbor, we instead turned to a way of thinking that allows us to give our neighbor the benefit of the doubt? What would a world look like where you allowed God's peace to reign in your heart, mind, and soul, not because of anything you might get out of it, but rather because it is the attitude that Christ exemplified in thought, word, and deed?
  • What is it, here and now, that we are doing in our lives to put ourselves in position to be a better person on December 31, 2019, as compared to who we are today, January 9, 2019? What habits do we need to embrace, what habits do we need to shed, what relationships do we need to heal, what attitudes do we need to release, what grudges and resentments do we need to ditch, so that we may find ourselves better overall because we are no longer held hostage by these things?
Friends, nothing is likely to change in our lives and/or the lives of those around us if we do not take hold of every moment we have been given to allow God to manifest within us a new creation, one born of the freedom that comes from accepting and sharing the Word made Flesh, Immanuel, God with us.


Grace and Peace, Lamar


P.S. You may download an electronic version of our January newsletter now from this page on our website.

In our November newsletter, you saw an article concerning the Council of Bishops’ Commission on A Way Forward along with a notice about a conversation that our Resident Bishop, Cynthia Fierro Harvey, was hosting at FUMC-Lake Charles. The evening with Bishop Harvey was most informative, and those who went learned a great deal about the specifics of General Conference 2019 and the implications of various scenarios that will be under consideration.
As promised in that article, we will be hosting a congregation-wide conversation led by our pastor to explore the who, what, when, where, and why of the special session of General Conference that will be held in St. Louis at the end of February. Understanding there is no possible way in which every concept and every proposal could be covered in a no-more-than-90-minute gathering, our goal for this local conversation is to give an overview of what is going on with respect to these issues, along with a personal word from our pastor, as you, the people of FUMC-DeRidder, deserve to know where your pastor stands on the major issues many are allowing the church to be consumed with these days.
You may have or you may yet read some things online or see things in the media concerning these matters. Please understand NO ONE - not a bishop, not a pastor, not any one individual or special interest group - speaks for The United Methodist Church EXCEPT the General Conference at its regular and special sessions. This is vital because it may be easy to see a particular bishop, pastor, church, or other body take stands or make proclamations about this or other issues. 
To close, let us remember that anyone who has been part of our congregation since before 1968 has not been a lifelong member of First United Methodist Church - DeRidder. We were founded as part of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South; in 1939 we became First Methodist Church; in 1968 we became First United Methodist Church. Whether anything changes or not as a result of the work of 2019, our work remains the same - to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We have been around through the War to End all Wars, the war that came after that, the great depression, the great recession, the civil rights era, and a whole host of other changes...and God continues to use us to do the Lord’s work to this day and beyond, no matter what might be thrown our way. 
TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2019 @ 6:00PM
For more information:
General Conference 2019 - http://bit.ly/GC2019UMC
About the Council on a Way Forward - http://bit.ly/COWF-ABOUTUS 
Council on a Way Forward Final Report - http://bit.ly/COWF-FINALREPORT 
Council on a Way Forward Videos - http://bit.ly/COWF-VIDEOS 
Council on a Way Forward News - http://bit.ly/COWF-NEWS

Whether physical or rhetorical, there is no denying that violence seems to be pretty prevalent in many parts of society, including those spaces that we thought were off-limits like schools and churches. There are times it seems we get hit day after day with some sort of hatred at work - and may begin to feel as though we are either powerless to stop it, or that we have played no role in the corrosiveness of our culture. Over the next couple of months, we are going to wade through some of the wisdom shared with the Christian community in the first generations of church. We will learn a little bit more about our responsibilities in the world in which we live; how our thoughts, actions, & attitudes towards ourselves, our fellow church members & others within the Christian community, those who may have differenting political, social, & moral views matter more than we realize; and how we are called not only to not participate in this corrosive mindset, but to be and to set an example of how to live as people who truly love God with everything they have and their neighbors as themselves.

Grace is Given, Not Earned • Ephesians 3:1-12 (PODCAST)


The Holy Spirit is to be Shared • Acts 8:14-17


It’s About the Giver, Not the Gift • 1 Corinthians 12:1-11


Get Over Yourself • 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a


What is Love? • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13


Tell the Story. Period. • 1 Corinthians 15:1-11


It’s Not About You - Stop It! • Luke 6:27-28


Don’t Be Shy About It • 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

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