Augusta District

 

Augusta District Newsletter, 8-16-17

1.  HealthQuotient

If you are on the conference group insurance plan, now is the time to log in to do your annual HealthQuotient.  It will save you dollars in your deductible next year!  Deadline – September 30th.

www.wespath.org, and log in at the bottom of the page to HealthFlex/WebMD 

2.  Attached - Atlanta Vision Day.  Learn how Fresh Expressions can work in your community. 

3.  Attached – UMM, Igniting Faith Retreat 

4.  Tate Welling at the Wesley Foundation at GSCU has a gifted student who is seeking the role of part time worship leader.  Call Jeff Skinner at 404 667 4587. 

5.  From Rev. Lindsey Solomon, re: the UMCH: 

We have some exciting news to share from The United Methodist Children’s Home.  We are opening a new office right here in the Augusta area.  We are having our very first information session on September 5 at Quest Church from 6:30 to 8:30.  This meeting is for people who want to be foster parents, want to volunteer to support foster families, or simply want to learn more.  To sign up, go to fosterrsvp.com

I am here to be a partner in ministry with you as we together fulfill the mission of restoring children and families from trauma through Jesus Christ.  Give me a call if you’d like to discuss how your church can become involved in this impactful ministry.  I am happy to come and preach, or bring a presentation to Sunday school classes, youth groups, men’s/women’s groups, or Wednesday night programming.  Give me a call at 706-993-9158 or email me at lsolomon@umchildrenshome.org

6.  From the DS 

From the Set-up Meeting, a sermon for the year ahead: 

Genesis 26:12-15, 18-19

“12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.

18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.  19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of flowing water there." 

Isaac’s story is a story of a second generation experiencing growth and prosperity - sort of like the Methodists in America. 

Genesis says that Isaac planted crops and reaped a 100 times over…because the Lord decided to bless Him.  The writer then repeats the next part three times -

“The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy.”  In Hebrew, three repetitions is the max! 

(You know the stats of the Methodists in America, right?  From a few thousand in the days of the Revolution until, by 1850, two thirds of all Protestants on the continent were Methodists.  You could say we were blessed…back then!  We are not in the same position, percentage-wise, today.) 

But then, Isaac was attacked by envious enemies. They don’t attack his servants, his crops, or his herds. They went deeper; they blocked his wells. In that arid climate, water was life. It does not matter how many sheep you have, or how lush your gardens grow – if you can’t water it, you are doomed.           

 

A branch, broken off from the vine, is good for nothing but kindling. 

Isaac knew this was an immediate threat.  He did not sleep on, blind to the danger!  He was awake, alert…and active. And he knew that the first thing he had to do was to unclog the wells his father had dug, which his enemies had blocked. Yes, down the line, he and his servants would dig NEW wells, and the first one they dug was an artesian fountain, “living water” springing up from the ground.  That is so rare even in our land, even rarer in Israel…I see in this a miracle, another sign of God’s blessing! 

But before that, Isaac had to re-dig the wells of his family just to survive. 

Is there hope for the United Methodist Church?   I believe, even now, that there is. I believe that if we turn and repent and seek the face of God, even now God will use us to bless the nation and the world.  Even more glory will go to God’s name because we are not acting out of days of prosperity, but out of adversity. If the dry bones live, that is a miracle! If the parched land is flush with life, the Spirit has moved!

But…before we can dig our own wells, we need to retrace our steps, and find the wells the enemy has filled with dirt, and unclog those.  

I am tempted today to list all the things the enemy has used to block the flow of living water.  Hardened hearts, seared consciences, being pleasers of human beings rather than pleasers of God, idolatry… 

For now, just listen to the voice of God, from Jeremiah 2:

"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”  

So…How do we unclog the wells of our Methodist forebears?  What wells did they dig? 

Recently, I read through the “Minutes of the Methodist Conferences” from the 1700’s.  As John Wesley grew older, many of the Methodist societies declined.  So in 1770 and 1780, the preachers gathered and asked this question: 

“What can be done in order to revive the work of God where it is decayed?”

A good question! 

There followed page after page about how to seek revival.  Here are the prime methods they laid out: 

Prayer

“Appoint prayer-meetings,” the Minutes record, and particularly on Fridays…especially focus on intercessory prayer.  We talk about prayer a lot, but a lot of it is lip service; do we get on our knees, on our faces, seeking God? 

John Wesley’s Journal, Sep 8, 1784:  “After preaching to an earnest congregation at Coleford, I met the society. They contained themselves pretty well during the exhortation; but when I began to pray, the flame broke out. Many cried aloud, many sunk to the ground, many trembled exceedingly; but all seemed to be quite athirst for God, and penetrated by the presence of his power….” 

Fasting

They named specific dates where they all fasted together. In the early days, Wesley believed that all his lay preachers should fast every Wednesday and Friday.  In later life Wesley himself fasted every Friday; He would fast from sundown Thursday night until Friday At 3pm. 

Take heed to your doctrine

Especially, the Minutes say, avoid Calvinism…because that made them lazy about seeking holiness.  Doctrine is what you believe, because what you believe impacts how you behave…and where you spend eternity. 

William Faulkner , in “Light in August,” wrote, “That which is destroying the Church is not the outward groping of those within it, nor the inward groping of those without, but the professionals who control it and who have removed the bells from the steeples.” 

“Be diligent” in two things - morning preaching (5am), which Wesley called that “the glory of the Methodists,” and field preaching.

For them, that meant going where the people were.  At 5am, people rose and went to work; it was a GREAT time to gather the people.  And in the fields…no malls, no TV, no internet…most buildings could not hold the crowds anyway.  The fields were ideal!

This is all about being out there where the people are, and being bold with your witness out there.  Fresh Expressions is a way of weighing these two questions!   Where are the people?  Are we bold in our witness? 

For decades in America we thought that if we built buildings, the people who come to us. Those days are gone, and that model is a model of death.  The people are at the gym, or Starbucks, or the Waffle House, or Hardees - get out there!  Be a city set on a hill!  Or else…. 

Visit from house to house

When I was ordained I pledged to do this, and I thought it meant pastoral care for the sick, visiting members or potential members, talking about the weather or how ‘bout that local sports team!  I never knew that the Minutes go on for pages about what we are to do in these visits!  This is about training the laity, face to face, about our beliefs and the practices of our faith and praying with them. 

Spend an hour a week with the children...whether you like it or not.

Again, the minutes are very detailed on this…because behind this was Susanna Wesley, took an hour each week to talk to every one of her children about the relation of their heart toward God! 

Take heed to your singing

Congregational singing is the key barometer of worship.  Not the choir, not the band, not the director…but the people singing their hearts to God.  It easily becomes a mere formality – drop three hymns in the bulletin; it is done without devotion or enthusiasm, and done with a slooooow tempo. 

I have to share this from the Minutes…

“The repeating the same word so often, the horrid abuse which runs through the modern church-music, as it shocks all common sense, so it necessarily brings in dead formality, and has no more of religion in it than a Lancashire hornpipe…” 

Read.

Wesley said, “Let all the preachers be active in dispensing books.” 

Read what?

Well, the Bible for starters.  Wesley was “a man of one book.”  But he also read more.  He insisted that the preachers read “The Life of David Brainerd.”  And people should read Wesley’s sermons. 

“It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people. ” ― John Wesley 

(Letter to a pastor, John Premboth, on reading, on August 17, 1760:

What has exceedingly hurt you in time past, nay, and I fear to this day, is want of reading. I scarce ever knew a preacher read so little. And perhaps, by neglecting it, you have lost the taste for it. Hence your talent in preaching does not increase. It is just the same as it was seven years ago. It is lively, but not deep; there is little variety, there is no compass of thought. Reading only can supply this, with meditation and daily prayer. You wrong yourself greatly by omitting this. You can never be a deep preacher without it, any more than a thorough Christian.  O begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises. You may acquire the taste which you have not: what is tedious at first, will afterwards be pleasant.  Whether you like it or no, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way; else you will be a trifler all your days, and a petty, superficial preacher. Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer. Take up your cross and be a Christian altogether.)

 Read Philip Yancey’s brief article, “The Death of Reading is Threatening the Soul,” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/07/21/the-death-of-reading-is-threatening-the-soul/?utm_term=.577b8023f66d 

Finally… 

Strongly and explicitly exhort all believers to go on to perfection.

The Minutes say, “seek it gradually and expect it instantaneously.” 

Bishop Sue recently attended the CME church conference, meeting in Augusta, and she witnessed their ordination service.  Like us, they asked these questions:

“Are you going on to perfection?

Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?”

But then they add this:

“Are you groaning for it?” 

Well, pastors – are you? 

Yours for the Kingdom, 

Terry Fleming

Augusta District Superintendent

PO Box 204600
Augusta, GA  30907

Office:  706-651-8621

Fax:  706-651-8622

Cell:  678-447-6034 

"Mockers can get a whole town agitated, but the wise will calm anger."  Prov. 29:8

 


 
 

 

District Superintendent


Terry Fleming
(706) 651-8621
terry.fleming@ngumc.net
View Bio

Administrative Assistant

Tina Lancaster
(706) 651-8621
agst@ngumc.net

Contact Information

Office Address:
3332 West Cliffe Court
Augusta, GA 30907

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 204600
Augusta, GA 30917

(706) 651-8621 Phone
(706) 651-8622 Fax

agst@ngumc.net
http://www.ngumc.org/agst