Rev. Roy Crawford…

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Rev. Roy Crawford was my pastor in Chicago during my still-impressionable years from age ten to seventeen.  He and his wife have made an indelible imprint on my heart.  On my life.  They set powerful and practical examples for a couple in ministry living in a parsonage.  Time would not allow me to share even a fraction of the help they have been to me.

 

I recently was blessed to attend a ‘farewell’ for Rev. Crawford prior to his recent move from Illinois back to his home state of Ohio.  I was double blessed because he was asked to give a ‘word’ to the crowd in attendance.

 

I share his godly wisdom for life with you:

 

  • Keep God’s Word at the core of life – read, study, memorize and live it.
  • Be an authentic Christian.
  • Get involved in life and community that reflect your values.
  • Live with eternity in view keeping a loose hold on things of this life.
  • Live in anticipation of Jesus’ return and what still lies before us.
  • Be God-driven in the things we stand for by way of morality and purity.
  • Love God. Support His servants.
  • Walk in Obedience to God.

 

Rev. Crawford’s wife died three years ago.  He himself has Parkinson’s.  He is downsizing and moving when he would rather have life stay as it is.  However, he is living the faith he believes and God is blessing his life for it.

 

I still have so much to learn from him.

Blessings,

Phyllis Dickinson

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Facebook…

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I have a Facebook Account that my husband set up for me a few years back.  Here’s the thing, I never use it.  Because I do not use it, I am out of the social loop.   Facebook was originally created for use by college students back in 2004.  It is now available for anyone over thirteen.  It is an easy way to keep in touch by words, photos and links to various resources.  I do enjoy ‘second-hand’ information because my spouse shares comments and photos with me that he thinks I would be interested in…but receiving first-hand information from friends and family via Facebook is not happening.

 

This I do, however: I go face to face with The Book of all books, the Bible, each day.  In there I am kept in touch with all that I really need to know for living a wonderful and fulfilling life.  “Your Words (God) are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me, and keep me from stumbling.”  (Psalm 119:105 Living Bible)  Therefore, I will do what Timothy was urged to do “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing (rightly handling and skillfully teaching) the Word of Truth.”  (II Timothy 2:15 Amplified)

 

I have managed to do e-mail and texting.  One day I may even get on Facebook.  But for now, I do know what I need to do in my life of the things that will be most helpful to me.

 

Have you Facebooked God today?

 

Blessings,

Phyllis Dickinson

 

Does Jesus Care?

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I have often heard the question asked, “If God is so loving, why does He allow suffering?”  To ask that is to indicate that we have missed something very basic and loving.  God gave us free will as a gift.  He gave us life and made us in His Image.  Because He gave us free will we have power over our choices.

If we do not know the story of Adam and Eve we have missed something extremely significant …and basic.  God’s first created people.  Their home was perfect.  They were custom-designed and selected for each other.  All their needs were met.  But their free will, a precious and priceless gift, was used as the precursor to sin.  Disobedience was and is a choice.  For Adam and Eve, for us who are Adamic in nature, it was a cave-in to the seduction from the enemy that their life could somehow be more complete if they chose to sin.

Our sin, and God says that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 KJV) leaves us in a broken and fallen world of much pain and heartache.  I hate to say it, but we brought it on ourselves.  And even if we personally feel that we are not guilty, God says otherwise.  “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  (I John 1:8 KJV)

The remedy, of course, is that we need someone to save us from our sin.  He has already come!  And guess what?   He went through the same stuff we experience.  “Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”  (Hebrews 2:18  NIV)  “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to The One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission…He learned obedience from what He suffered.”  (From Hebrews 5:6-8 NIV)

Not only does Jesus care, He teaches us what we can do with our free will.

And that choice for obedience saves us from death…here and now and for all eternity.  What a gift!

Blessings,

Phyllis Dickinson

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Scarlet Oak…

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I bought a Scarlet Oak tree in early fall.  It was only about eighteen inches tall and all its leaves were green.  I dug a hole for it.  I planted it.  I watered it faithfully.  I supported it with string and stake, redoing it once already.  It has grown.  Even in two months time, it is nearly three feet tall.  Gradually the leaves changed from green to the scarlet promised in the name.  It is gorgeous and it is going to be so tall and strong one day.  I planted it where I can see it on our front lawn.  I walk by it every time I go to the church which is next door to our parsonage.  I feel connected to this particular tree of all the trees on the property because I have invested into it.

I did not intend for it to be symbolic.  But…it has become to me a symbol of healing and growth in my own life.  For many, many years I fell victim to what seemed an effort to overwhelm and crush my spirit by others.

But the Tender Gardener showed me that He intended better and more for me.  He brought me The Good News and told me that He was for anyone in my condition of affliction. He told me He wanted to heal me and set me free.  He told me His job was vengeance, not mine.  He told me He would show me favor.  He told me that I could get a happy spirit in exchange for my broken, downhearted one.   He intended that I should be “an oak of righteousness (lofty strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God), the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”  (Read the powerful Chapter 61 of Isaiah which is only eleven verses long.)

God invested in me.  I feel so connected to Him.

Blessings

Phyllis Dickinson

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Fun Christianity

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The news and media always shows the more serious side of Christianity, and not always in a positive light. They also have a tendency to show a more extreme Christianity and every now and then an uplifting story makes it in.  If your exposure to Christianity was from a strictly media view, you would think that Christians are sticks in the mud and ready to force you to their view.

So often the Love is left out of the media’s representation of Christianity, but even more so you miss the fun. Sometimes the best way to minister is through laughter and smiles. I’ve seen this in recent months in our church.  The response to the tailgate party for the first high school home game was amazing, and there was no brow beating or agendas, just sharing God’s love with the community.  Hamburgers, music, a bouncy house, and Christians with love in their heart is what the community met that day.

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Then you had the fall festival where the church came together to once again have fun and share their faith. The response was amazing and families that don’t attend our church arrived and left with smiles and love in their hearts.  God’s love was shared with a smile and cheerful heart leaving an impression on those that attended.

Then the youth had an event for their groups and encouraged the youth to bring friends. It was a grand messy event leaving the family life center in layers of goop, but I heard the young adults talking as I arrived about the event, laughing, joking, and having fun. In fact when I arrived, the young adults were out being hosed down from the antics. I joking made the comment to a few people that instead of a car wash they were having a kid wash.  The hearts they touched with that fun ministry and the love that was left with them will stay with them well beyond the mess.

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How you reach people is through understanding, caring, love, and most definitely laughter. When people leave with a smile in their heart they are sure to remember that feeling for a long time. That is God’s message working within these beautiful walls. When people are able to leave with a smile or with a feeling a hope in their hearts, we have done our job of representing Christ in my opinion.  That is what I see in our church – the ability to accept, love, adapt, and care.
When you think of the beautiful messages coming from the people within the church from its leaders and staff to the beautiful members, you realize what an amazing place this really is. People helping the homeless, caring for children, praying for others, and sharing the beautiful laughter, love, and hope of Christ with others is what it is about. To give of ourselves to make others better, that is our truest calling. That seed of hope, laughter, or love grows from the moment it is planted and you never know where it will go from there.

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Christ said the greatest commandment was Love. I truly believe that and I see it within the walls of our church.  Thank you for being such beautiful people and representing Christ in such an amazing way.

A great president once said “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.  I think if we asked not what Christ can do for us, but what we can do for Him that might change things. When we remember to have Faith in his way, Hope that things will be better, and Love for ALL our brothers and sisters, we can change the world.

With kindness,

Tyrone Castle

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Milburn Crossing Pavilion Fun

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Two major events at our Milburn Crossing Pavilion drew good crowds.  Our “home grown” written, and produced production “Make A Difference” combined fun, a variety of music and humor with a message for all.  The second was a Country and Western Concert, “A Touch of Country.”  Free food was enjoyed at both events.  These activities were designed to be fun for our present congregation and to increase our footprint in the community around Milburn Crossing.

It took 30 plus volunteers to pull these outreach opportunities together.  A big thanks to all who helped!  A special nod is due to Denny Cowden who keeps the pavilion area mowed and looking pristine.  He also provided hayrack rides for the concert.

Make A Difference had about 50 in attendance at both presentations in spite of the oppressive July heat.  The show helped O’Fallon First UMC connect with our neighbors and remind us of the tremendous potential of the pavilion and park area at Milburn Crossing.

Dr. Toby Curtwright did an amazing job of pulling together a very professional group of performers for the “Touch of Country Concert.”   It was a joy to see our new Contemporary Worship Coordinator, Dimitri Heaggans, heavily involved in both productions.  Around 115 present enjoyed an awesome concert, food and fellowship.  The music was great!  There was hotdogs, ice cream, hayrack rides and lots of beautiful weather and scenery on the beautiful September Sunday afternoon.  The kids enjoyed being free to listen to the music, dance, go for a hayrack rides, run and play in our spacious park.  Some more “mature” folks took to line dancing in the background or riding the hayrack with the kids.  It was an awesome day.

There will be more to come in the spring of 2016 and beyond.  Remember the pavilion is available to church groups for picnics and other outings.  Please check with the church office for availability.

Blessings,

Pastor Joel Catlin

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From Our Window…

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The red of the newly-planted Scarlet Oak, the variegated green-orange-red of the Chinese Maple and the blazing orange of the Sugar Maple leaves can be seen out our parsonage front-facing windows.  How we love the brilliance of the fall color.  But as the cooler temperatures take over and the winds blow, we have seen the leaves coming down and turning to brown and crunching underfoot.  The rotational, seasonal cycle is happening this very day.  It is moving us closer to that National Holiday of Thanksgiving.

We always have choice.  We can complain and have pain.  Or we can thank and fill our tank.  Our heart is hugely affected by our choices.  God ordains praise and Thanksgiving.  But not one, single place in His Word does He anoint and accept complaints as part of His Plan.

“In everything give thanks for this is  the Will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thess. 5:18) If you pray the Lord’s Prayer where we say, “May Thy Kingdom come, may Thy Will be done”…guess how that happens?  It is up to you and me to choose to do what God says.  And you know what the result will be?  YOU WILL BE HAPPY THAT YOU CHOSE TO GIVE THANKS to The One we can never thank enough.

Happy, Holy, Hopeful Thanksgiving to you,

Ron and Phyllis

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