The Year of Living Biblically

The Year of Living Biblically

Published October 22, 2019

20th Sunday after Pentecost in Ordinary Time/October 23, 2019

Just these lines, my friends …

… to say that what a wondrous day of worship we had on Sunday. I’ve already heard from several of you who were watching by live-stream. Thank you for taking advantage of this helpful technology tool. In case you missed being with us on Sunday, you can watch here.

The days have been full since I’ve last written my Just These Lines. This past week included:

  • Thursday (October 17) … Pastor Brad preached a sermon in the Chapel for the Global Impact Team as a part of his Duke Divinity School doctoral studies. One of the poignant moments in the sermon was the line, “I am constantly amazed in the ways God takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary.” Pastor Brad’s big idea: The ways we are spiritually formed while we serve.I didn’t get to hear it, but I understand from several sources that he preached the paint off the wall. Smile!
  • Friday (October 18) … It was BBQ day with our friends at Mt. Moriah. Thank you to so many of you who were able to go by and support them in this annual fundraiser for the church.
  • Saturday (October 19) … I wish you could have seen the energy in the Choir Room and Sanctuary. Over 30 members of our Sanctuary Choir were cleaned up the space and gave it a fresh look. Thank you to Craig Estep for mobilizing these wonderful folks to serve.
  • Sunday (October 20) … We commissioned Sid Riddick and Carol/Fred Goolsby who were representative of a group of persons (Wayne Clark, Karen Fisher, Harlan Hambright, Brenda/Tom Haughney) who are headed (October 20 – October 26) to do disaster relief in Savannah, GA. They are going to repair damage done left from hurricanes, tornados and flooding. Let’s hold them close in our prayers.
  • Sunday (October 20) … I attended our Laity Celebration of United Methodist churches in the Charlotte Metro District at the North Davidson Church. We were engaged by a lively, spirited worship service that honored lay persons all over our area. I was so pleased to see Germán AlenCastro, Carolyn Pollack and Grant Overbey recognized and affirmed for their outstanding leadership given in and through Matthews United Methodist.
  • Sunday (October 20) … We celebrated our precious friend, Judy Suarez, for her nearly 20 years of faithful service on our staff community and decades of remarkable service in and through the life our church. 
  • Sunday (October 20) … 18 persons joined the ranks of our transforming community. Candidly, I’ve not been sure — given our denominational struggles — whether anyone would want to share life with us. Thanks be to God for the following persons who have committed to sharing the Adventure with us: Darian Bouley, Alan and Amanda Greer (Lauren, Connor), Ann Hasselbacher, Charles and Judy Henion, Larry and Linda Thompson, Ted and Susan Smith, Terrie Grose (Bradley), Ben and Debbie Hopper, Eddie Johnson, Henry and Dori Peterman (Jacob, John), and Don and Kathy Remley.

I hope you’ll be intentional in inviting friends, neighbors and family to come and worship with us.

The 30-Day Gratitude Challenge

I do hope you are considering participating in our 30-Day Gratitude Challenge beginning on October 30. We are asking you to write a note of gratitude every day for 30 days (concluding on Thanksgiving day).

Here are some ideas:

  • Thank someone whom you are long overdue in saying “thank you” to in your life.
  • Thank an individual who is doing something, regardless of how small, to make a difference in your life.
  • Thank a family member.
  • Show your appreciation with someone you have taken for granted.

Some Bible verses:

  • “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)
  • “And whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)

Some Gratitude quotes:

  • “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” (Cynthia Ozick)
  • “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.” (Denis Waitley)

Join us this year in making connections between gratitude and generosity.

The Year of Living Biblically

A few years back, I read a hilarious book by Esquire columnist A.J. Jacobs called The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. Jacobs, a self-avowed agnostic, sought to spend a whole year following every command in the Bible — more than seven hundred total, by his count.

Doing so impacted every aspect of his life, often with comical results, like when he “stoned” an adulterer in a public park with a handful of pebbles (Leviticus 20:27). Or when he carried a folding chair everywhere to avoid sitting on chairs used by women who had just had their period (Leviticus 15:20). Or when he stopped wearing T-shirts and jeans because they were made of “mixed fibers” (Leviticus 19:19). Despite the hilarity, Jacobs’ efforts were both earnest and respectful, sharing several poignant experiences throughout the book.

Well, on one such occasion he made his decision to start tithing. After researching numerous charitable organizations, he went online to make the first of several contributions that would, over the course of the year, add up to ten percent of his salary. After sending money to his first agency through the internet, he wrote:

“When the confirmation e-mails ping in, I feel good. There’s a haunting line from the film Chariots of Fire. It’s spoken by Eric Liddell, the most religious runner, the one who carries a Bible with him during his sprint.” He says: ‘When I run, I feel His pleasure.’ And as I gave away money, I think I might have felt God’s pleasure. I know: I’m agnostic. But still – I feel His pleasure. It’s a warm ember that starts at the back of my neck and spreads through my skull. I feel like I am doing something I should have been doing all my life.”

To share any more of Jacobs’ story would spoil the book for those interested in reading it. Suffice it to say, it led me to think about what it would mean for us to take the Bible just as seriously, particularly in the area of financial stewardship.

During these days you will receive your generosity/stewardship materials for 2020 in the mail. The materials contain:

  • An inspiring letter from two of our church leaders — Scott Putnam, Lay Leader, and Grant Overbey, Administrative Council Chair — and an update on our year-to-date finances from Lynn Robertson (Executive Director of Finance and Operations);
  • A letter from me, which includes the 2020 Commitment card; and
  • A reminder for you bring it to church with you on November 17 to place in the Joash Chest. We will also have The Chest open on November 18 and November 25.

Once again, we remind you that every pledge is between you and God and will make a huge difference for our church’s ministries in the upcoming year. If you have never filled out a pledge, we encourage you to do so for the first time. If you have turned in a pledge card in years past, thank you! We invite you pray about increasing your pledge for next year. And if you are not tithing 10% of your income, we encourage you to take a step in that direction.

I have a pastor friend who is fond of saying, “You can’t have God first in your heart but not in your wallet. Everybody wants God in the heart, with their kids, in the schools, and in our nation, but the last place we want God is in our wallets.”

And if an agnostic like A.J. Jacobs could discover the joy of tithing to God, you can, too!

Our Generosity FAQ

I’ve tried my hand at answering a number of questions many ask about generosity and stewardship. Questions like the following:

  • Why did Jesus link our spiritual life so closely to financial matters?
  • Why should a follower of Jesus be financially generous?
  • According to the Bible, how am I to give?
  • How much should I give?
  • Where should I give my tithe?
  • Are members and attendees of MUMC expected to make a financial commitment?
  • Why is tithing different from other Old Testament laws Christians don’t follow?
  • If budgets are tight, can time be considered part of the tithe?
  • If I volunteer or give to other worthy causes, is that part of my tithe?
  • Can I skip tithing and still be a good Christian?
  • How do I tithe if my spouse is not a Christian?
  • What if I can’t tithe this year?
  • This looks like a big church. Does it really need my support?
  • What is this thing called the Joash Chest at MUMC?
  • Can I give stocks, securities or other assets?
  • Can I give electronically?

You can find my response to these questions here on our website.

Some Sanctuary Work Being Done

We will be having some work done inside and outside of our Sanctuary in the days ahead. Although we don’t think the work will cause issues for us when it comes to Sunday worship…as always, we thank you for your wonderful patience.

This work includes:

  • Re-lamping the Sanctuary lights – This is an annual effort made to make sure all our ceiling lights are working properly.
  • Drainage issues – We’ve had a long-standing drainage issue with our exterior doors on the piano side of the Sanctuary near the Chancel area. During heavy rains water seeps under these doors.
  • New Carpet – Once the drainage issue has been addressed, our much-needed new carpet will be installed.
  • Steeple – At some point, in the next few weeks, the Steeple will be temporarily removed for a roofing repair to correct a leak into our facility.

We hope that all of this work can be done by the time we launch into the Advent season.

Upcoming Dates

If you will, please consider putting an “X” on the calendar for these upcoming dates:

  • High Impact Servant (H.I.S.) Meeting on Monday, October 28, 7:00 pm in The Commons: The HIS Meeting is a quarterly gathering of staff, lay leaders serving in a ministry area, and all other interested church members for the purpose of worship, fellowship, and sharing information about what’s going on in and through the ministries of MUMC.
  • Annual Charge Conference, Tuesday, November 5, 7:00 pm in the Chapel: The Annual Charge Conference is a business gathering where we officially approve all Charge Conference requirements of the Western NC Conference for the 2020 calendar year. Anyone is welcome to attend.
  • Operation Christmas Child, November 17: Operation Christmas Child boxes are available in The Commons, The Children’s Area and at the Welcome Center. Please return filled boxes to the hallway outside the Front Office by November 17. For a little inspiration about OCC, please watch here.
  • Joash Chest Sunday, November 17: This is our annual Sunday when our families make their financial commitments for 2020. These are some of the holiest moments we share each year. I love watching you stream forward to make your commitments.

This Sunday (October 27) in Worship

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you in worship on Sunday as we conclude our worship series titled The Spirited Life. This Sunday we will explore the 9th fruit of the Holy Spirit – generosity.

You can’t imagine the joy that is my heart for the privilege that is mine to be one of your pastors. By the way …

I’m Choosing Faithfulness,

Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know that Julie Curtis and Lisa Martin — along with a team of 26 other women — participated in a One Day Epiphany, a ministry for incarcerated youth at Stonewall Jackson Youth Detention Center? The team of volunteers spent the day loving on, feeding (both physically and spiritually) and teaching young men.

Did you know that several youth in our church are volunteering with the 3 & 4-year-olds on Sunday mornings in the Nursery and Deep Kids Small GroupsThank you, Abby Holt, Chloe Smith and Lillie Wetmore!

Did you know that Heather Iler is the wonderful volunteer that assembles and restocks the Sunday Sack bags each week? (Remember to let your child pick up a bag from the wicker basket across from the Welcome Center before worship, then return it to the labeled basket after the service.)

Did you know that the nursery caregivers who work on weekdays help with clerical odds and ends as they wait for children to arrive…and that they sometimes take things home to organize?

Did you know that Dan Meyer leads a group of committed youth who come twice monthly to lead the Preteen Deep Kids in worship and song?