Monthly Archives: August 2014

All Possible Means

This was my pastor’s letter for the August newsletter from Clarks Mills UMC.n2014-08a

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I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.

  — 1 Corinthians 9:23 (NIV)

      The Clarks Mills church has a long history of using creative ways to get God’s message of love out to people.  We’ve held Vacation Bible School’s using themes and dressed up as angels, or island natives, or weird animals. Throughout the years, we’ve used flannel boards, stuffed animals, soloists, special music groups, choirs, instruments, dramas, games, computers, videos, audiobooks, stories, and interactive events like ‘Night in Bethlehem’ and ‘Journey to the Cross.’

Some may wonder “Why?” Why not just preach sermons and teach regular Sunday School classes? Why do we have to do all these other things? Well, we got the idea from the Bible.

We all know the Bible shows people lecturing or preaching pretty often, but the Scriptures are also filled with examples of people using stories and parables to get the message to their listeners. Jeremiah used pottery, Ezekiel acted out the siege of Jerusalem,  Jesus made up stories to illustrate his points (parables), Paul talked of wrestlers and racers, and John describes dragons, beasts, scrolls, and  seals. God even had the prophet Hosea choose a wife based on God’s need to teach the people a lesson using Hosea and Gomer as an example! They used whatever means necessary in order to get the message of God out to people.

No matter how different it might appear, no matter how many times something might have been done before, the prophets and teachers in Scripture assessed what their situation was in their setting and, under the direction of God’s Holy Spirit, used the means necessary to proclaim the unchanging truth of God’s word.

At Clarks Mills UMC, we want to get the message out in whatever way we can. Come and join us… you may meet a weird animal, hear the word acted out like a reader’s theater, see a Jewish High Priest (Caiaphas), or hear angelic voices… but you’ll definitely hear the word.

Pastor Dayton


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Filed under Church Leadership, Newsletter

“Only What We Can Handle”?

A couple of weeks ago I again heard someone claim “I know God won’t give me more than I can handle, but I wish He didn’t trust me so much!” This person was a good Christian, but they’re not alone… Christians (especially American Christians) often make reference to this belief that God won’t give you more than you can handle.

The problem, of course, is that it’s NOT true and it’s NOT even in the Bible!

If God only allowed what we could handle on our own, then we would NEVER NEED GOD!

As humans, the only times most of us remember to even seek God’s help is when we ARE overwhelmed… THAT’s when we need God the most!

I started thinking about all of this the other day when I stumbled upon an entry in a day by day kind of guide that highlights events on any given day.

JULY 28 (1960)

American Trappist monk Thomas Merton confesses in a letter, “I can depend less and less on my own power and sense of direction—as if I ever had any. But the Lord supports and guides me without my knowing how, more and more apart from my own action and even in contradiction to it.”

— from This Day in Christian History by William D. Blake (Barbour:2011), entry for “July 28.”

As I read it, I immediately thought of what the Bible DOES say… and I turned to the Apostle Paul’s words in Phillipians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (NKJV)

When I feel like I’ve been given too much to handle, THAT’s proof that God is still trying to woo and draw me closer to Him! He’s deliberately allowed all the stuff of life to build up and start to overwhelm me so that I can remember that I NEED His help!

The question is: “Will I turn to Him and ask for His help or will I try to ‘handle it’ all by myself?”

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Filed under Bible, Church Leadership, Response