Ferris Bueller's Day of Reckoning
The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart. -- Psalm 15:2

In the mid-eighties, I went to see a movie called Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I loved it! Matthew Broderick played Ferris Bueller, a charming, highly intelligent, off-the-charts popular high school senior who lives in an affluent neighborhood in suburban Chicago. Ferris is also a highly manipulative kid who is about to graduate. He sees that it is one of those beautiful mid-May Illinois days infecting everybody with spring fever and he decides to skip school. He recruits two of his friends to join him for a day of adventure in downtown Chicago. The movie revolves around all the things they do that day and all the clever strategies Ferris employs to both get his way and to get away with it.

A few days ago, I watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off again. I would still recommend it – it’s still a charming and distracting movie. But thirty years is a long time and today, I see Ferris’s character in a very different light. When you set aside the charm of his character, you have a disobedient rebel who cheerfully flouts the rules. The writers and producers of the movie depict authority figures as either legalistic dupes, (the principal at the high school), incredibly boring (Ben Stein’s character is stellar!) or as loving and accomplished, but utterly clueless when it came to their kids (Ferris’s parents). I found myself wondering what might have become of Ferris Bueller had he been a real person. He would be about fifty years old today and speculation could take us in a couple of different directions – he could have become a gifted leader in industry, the military
or politics. The kind of leader whose charisma and intelligence enables him to inspire folks to greatness. Or he could be a tax cheat facing prison time over fraud charges. He could be a loving husband and an example to his children, (He clearly adored and cherished his high school girl friend in the movie), or he could be on marriage number three or four, due to his serial philandering, a total stranger to his children. Who knows.

Here’s what I do know: as followers of Jesus, we should be aware of the fact that there is a little of Ferris Bueller in all of us. We all want to have our own way and, if left to our own devices, we, like Ferris, would be willing to manipulate people or circumstances to get what we want. I know that I would. The outdated, but still all-too relevant term is sin. As followers of Jesus, we know that we live in a fallen world and we are all sinners. We should know that when we make light of our sin, or try to minimize it, we set ourselves up for some really big problems. Most of us give at least lip-service to this spiritual reality. But too many of us tend to see God in the same light as Ferris sees his parents; loving and accomplished, somebody he’s proud of, but also as utterly clueless when it comes to his schemes. I assure you; God is anything but clueless and it is we who are clueless when we act as if God doesn’t see, or doesn’t care about our sins. He sees. And trust me, He
cares. To carry this metaphor a bit further, if there is a sequel to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, it might be Ferris Bueller’s Day of Reckoning. But as intimidating as the sequel sounds, it still can have a happy ending. When God’s day of reckoning comes to us, it’s not about God punishing us, it’s not about God “putting the hammer down” because we’ve stepped out of line. It’s simply that the moral books must balance. As a result, we are forced to live out the consequences of our sin every time. God hates sin! There is no question about it. But what might not be as clear is the “why” of it. God hates sin not nearly so much because it’s an affront to Him and His character. (even though it most definitely is) It’s more that God loves us so much that he hates to see what sin can do to us. If there is a metaphorical sequel to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, I think a huge theme of it would be this: God’s people try to manipulate circumstances to their own advantage, their deeds catch up with them, God gives them a way out. That way out is Jesus. That truth is God’s grace. It works every time.

Blessings,
Pastor Jeff

Kyra Clark
Youth Bake Off and Lunch!

Since it was so much fun the 1st time, our youth are again holding a Bake-Off and Auction to raise funds for 2 major projects this year.

So mark your calendar and the fun will begin!

  1. You can bake! Bake your favorite pie, cookies or cake to enter the Bake-Off. A prize winner in each category will receive a beautiful, silver spoon (and bragging rights) to acknowledge this great accomplishment. We ask that each baker pay a $10 entry fee!
  2. You can bake! Bake your favorite pie, cookies or cake to donate for our Auction! Baked treats will be auctioned off to raise funds for our youth projects! Your baked good is your donation!
  3. You can eat! You can come and enjoy a light lunch to prepare you to eat and judge the baked treats to help us select our winners! We ask that you donate to or youth fund for your lunch and the privilege of judging our Bake-Off Contest!
  4. You can spend! After you enjoy your lunch, your great dessert and some wonderful fellowship, you an participate in our Baked Goods Auction and take home a delicious homemade pie, fresh baked cookies or a yummy cake.

All of the money raised from the Bake-Off and Auction will go toward our mission trip to Chattanooga, TN in June and the digging of 3 new wells in Burkina Faso, Africa. Please pray
about these two very important projects and how you can participate and support our youth!

Thank you! We hope to see you at our Bake-Off and Auction!

Kyra Clark
VBS Food Allergy Announcement

Game On for Vacation Bible School is going to be great! We can't wait! But in order to make sure it stays great, we're going to be careful about our snacks we provide. Please take note of the following:

Remington United Methodist Church and Remington First Christian Church will naturally take all precautions to provide a safe environment for all of our children, especially those with peanut allergies. While we will take all necessary precautions, we cannot guarentee a totally peanut free environment. Therefore, we will make sure that we provide snacks that are peanut free and appropriately labeled as such for those like your grandchildren who suffer from these issues. We will also make sure our volunteers are alerted so that they will be asking the right questions when children come for snacks. We ask that folks who are planning to donate food items for VBS this summer to be aware of this issue so that when they donate, they can be mindful of the need to label them so as to avoid any potential medical problems.

Finally, we recommend to any parent who has a child that is afflicted with these allergies to excerise all due caution by working with us closely so that we are fully aware of their issues. In so doing, you will be helping us help them.

Kyra Clark
Bible Study Hiatus

Bible study has become an important part how we see ourselves here at Remington United Methodist Church. And the tradition continues. We’ve recently completed a twelve-week study called Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. In the words of one participant, “It was transformative.” We will do it again some time in the future.

This summer we will have a brief hiatus, but we will be starting a new women’s bible study in August. In addition, we are excited to announce that we will be offering another Financial Peace University class by Dave Ramsey starting on Thursday, September 13th. Further details will be available soon. Please keep checking in with us.

Kyra Clark
You Asked For It
“After three days, they found [Jesus] in the temple courts .... asking questions.” -- Luke 2:46

A few months ago, I received a great suggestion that I haven’t gotten around to acting on. It seems there are some questions about who our board members are and that folks would like to know. Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. At the end of this article, the board members and their roles will be listed. In addition, beginning in June, we will profile one of the board members each month so that you can know a little bit more about them and what their roles on the board are. But before we get to that, the notion of asking questions struck a chord with me. Chances are good that no matter how seasoned a saint or inexperienced a seeker, you probably have questions about God’s Word, or the nature of God Himself, or ..... well, whatever. I know I have questions and I’m your pastor! For example, the Book of Revelations is pretty much a mystery to me. So, if you could hear a sermon preached on any topic that would satisfy, or at-
tempt to anyway, your curiosity, what would that be? So, here’s what I propose; on May 10th, Rhonda Budzynski will send out a message on the email prayer request line which will invite you to ask any question you’d like to know more about when it comes to God, the bible or any other spiritual topic. In addition, you can fill out a questionnaire that will be in the back of the church beginning May 1st. We will tabulate all the responses and the top five will represent a sermon series called: “You Asked For It”. I look forward to hearing from you on what it is that you’re most curious about.

Oh, and before I forget; here are our board members and their positions on the board:

  • John Budzynski and Wilma Clark: pastor parish team and co lay leaders.
  • Jim Stringfellow: pastor parish team leader.
  • Dave Miller: finance team leader.
  • Bob Clark: trustees team leader.
  • Robyn Stark: finance team and recording secretary.
  • Norma Alberts: finance team.
  • Dallas Johnson and Denny Miller: trustees team.
  • Sandra Longest: pastor parish team

When you get a chance, thank these people for their hard work and leadership in serving our church. Last thought: remember that anyone is welcome to attend our board meetings. With some exceptions, the vast majority of what we talk about is open to the public and it doesn’t matter whether you are a member or not. We’d love to have you there.

Kyra Clark
New Member Classes

What does it mean to be a member of a church? Some folks join churches because they think that they’ll get a break when it comes to using the church building for special occasions like weddings. In some churches, I’m told that’s true. Not so here at Remington United Methodist Church. If you’ve been regularly attending and you consider RUMC to be your church home, then you’re family. Like most families, we consider all who belong to this one as special and irreplaceable. But as with most families, there are some who bear more of the responsibility than others. In the United Methodist Church, that’s really what being an official member means. That’s what it means when you officially join the church.

Unlike the old American Express commercial which says; “Membership has its privileges,” we at Remington UMC understand that a little differently: “membership has no privileges, only responsibilities.” If you’re not officially a member of Remington UMC, would you consider the possibility that God is calling you to become one. Perhaps God is speaking to your spirit to go deeper in your level of commitment.

On Sunday, April 15th and Sunday April 22nd, at 7:00 each evening, we are having new member classes and I would like to invite you to come if you are ready to go deeper in your commitment to your church family. Please RSVP on the famous back table next time you’re in the sanctuary or call the church office to confirm your interest.

Blessings,

Pastor Jeff

Kyra Clark
Easter People and 8th Day Living
"Simon, son of John, do you truly love me? -- John 21:16

When Dorothy and her dog Toto find themselves in the Land of Oz, a place very, very different than where they come from, Dorothy looks at Toto and says: “It looks like we’re not in Kansas anymore.” As Christians, in a spiritual sense at least, we can kind of relate to young Dorothy. The world we live in is not the same as the one we are ultimately destined for and every spring, we set aside some time so that we might get a glimpse of that world. Easter Sundays are a special time when we recognize that like Dorothy, we are not in Kansas anymore. We might live in this world. But Easter reminds us that it is not our home. On Easter Sunday, we are reminded that we are “Easter People.”

Unfortunately for us, Easter Sundays are followed by what we might call Kansas Mondays. On Easter Sunday, Easter people are fearless because they know that death has been conquered and they know they need never fear anything ever again. But Easter Sunday becomes “Kansas” Monday when we immediately start to worry about the economy; we worry about jobs; we worry about the cost of higher education for our kids and grandkids; we are not so filled with totally selfless love for “the other”. On “Kansas Mondays” we go back to being overly anxious about things. This is not to pick on Kansas but rather to simply demonstrate that the world we live in is a very seductive and distracting place.

By the time many of you read this, Easter Sunday will have come and gone for 2018. I hope that your Easter experience on April 1st was truly a blessed one. But on these “Kansas Mondays” that are to follow, my prayer for you is a simple one. May we all understand more clearly what it is to live as eighth day people. An eighth day person is someone who has not simply experienced the seven days of Holy Week. Rather they are a person who has understood that because of Easter Sunday, every day for the rest of our lives is an eighth day – Holy Week plus one. Eighth day people live life a little differently from others. They are people who know with an astonishing degree of conviction that while battles against sin rage on, the war is won. Easter people living in the eighth day understand that it is just a matter of time now that Jesus has met his destiny at the cross and the mouth of an empty grave. Easter people are free people because they know that nothing else matters.

Blessings,

Pastor Jeff

Kyra Clark
Why Didn't Jesus Do More?
“Therefore, I tell you do not worry.”  -- Luke 12:22 

As we approach Easter, I am reminded of an article I once read by Rev. Geoff Surratt. I bring an abridged version of it to you for this month’s pastor’s perspective and I hope you find them to be as much a blessing to you as they were for me: 

“I am amazed at all Jesus didn’t do while he was on earth. His public ministry lasted only three years, and in those years, his scope of ministry was incredibly narrow. He is God after all, it seems like he could broaden his scope a little. Think about the things Jesus didn’t do: 

He didn’t reform the government. 

He didn’t solve orphan care. 

He didn’t wipe out poverty. 

He didn’t improve medical care. 

“He could have ended abuse by the Romans, he could have launched a system of compassionate care for orphans, he could have ended poverty, or he could have instituted medical practices that would save millions of lives. 

“But he didn’t. 

“Though Jesus had the opportunity, resources and the ability to meet those needs, he limited himself to a very narrow mission: ‘to seek and save the lost.’ Everything he did pointed to that one succinct task. He knew that in this fallen world there would always be hundreds of desperate needs screaming for attention, but only one can be most important. Although he healed people, fed crowds and occasionally raised the dead, Jesus didn’t make any of those the focal point of his time on earth. He knew the more time he spent focusing on secondary issues, no matter how desperate or urgent, the less time he had for the main thing.” 

Powerful words, eh? Surratt goes on to suggest that there are always the many things that comprise the business of our days, weeks and years that he refers to as “the Whirlwind.” But he then goes on to ask what would happen if our churches patterned their ministries and their purpose on the very narrow vision of Jesus and developed that one “Wildly Important Goal”. 

For us here at Remington United Methodist Church, our one Wildly Important Goal, (WIG) is to build bridges so that those who know Jesus either not at all or very little can come to know him intimately. As we gain momentum moving deeper into the year 2018, I think we should challenge ourselves to be creative and focus on how we can accomplish our WIG. The questions we could ask ourselves might look like this: 

  • What is the one thing our church absolutely must accomplish in 2018? 
  • How will we know when we’ve accomplished it? 
  • How will we measure progress and keep score? 
  • How will we hold each other accountable to the one thing? 

Friends, very few churches have this kind of discipline. Very few have this kind of focus. But those that do are changing the world. I’d like for us to be one of those churches. 

Blessings, 

Pastor Jeff 

Kyra Clark
A Whopper of a Fish Story

Have ever felt like there was a distance between you and God?  A distance that made you uncomfortable?  Or maybe it’s just that you have this overwhelming sense that something is missing from your life and that there has to be something more.  There is something in the bible that might help.  And it’s a whopper of a fish story.  Interested?

There are sixty-six books in the bible and perhaps the most polarizing is the Book of Jonah.  You might remember the story.  Jonah is a prophet of God who has served faithfully in the past, but he balks at his next assignment.  Rather than do what God has asked, evangelize the hated city of Nineveh, Jonah jumps on a ship heading in the opposite direction.  His clear and unambiguous intention is to get as far away as possible from the place God was sending him.  But God has a very unique way of bringing Jonah back to the task at hand.  This is where the Book of Jonah gets its reputation as just a big fish story.  This is where the story becomes polarizing among believers.  For some folks, the Book of Jonah is an historical account of a wayward prophet.  For others, Jonah is a metaphor or a parable some ancient rabbi used to teach a timeless truth.  That polarization comes from whether or not the mode of transportation God used to place a prophet back on the path was really a big fish, the inside of which served as Jonah’s home for three days.  This debate can detract from or minimize the lessons Jonah might otherwise teach us.  

How unfortunate!  You see, the Book of Jonah is so much more than a whopper of a fish story.  It has a lot to say about the subject of obedience.  But even that’s not the main point of the story.  The main point of the story is that God will go to extremes to draw people back to Himself – all people!  From pagan Ninevites to a disobedient prophet named Jonah and even 21st century Americans.  

So, are you feeling distant from God, or have you ever been in that place?  The thing is that God is still going to extremes to bring people back to himself.  He demonstrated that by sending His Son Jesus to fetch us.  That’s what the Easter story is all about.  Just like Jonah is so much more than a fish story, Easter is so much more than a Christian event that happens every spring.   In fact, you could consider Jonah a precursor of the story of Jesus and his mission.  Here at Remington United Methodist Church, we are serious about helping people find their way back to Jesus.  This Easter season, we’re going to use Jonah’s not so fishy story alongside the Gospel of Mark to help us do just that.  

So, if you’ve ever felt distant from God, especially if you’re feeling that way right now, we have an invitation for you: Sunday, February 18th marks the beginning of a sermon series designed to help people find their way back to God, past, present or future.  We hope you can join us.

Either way, blessings to you and yours in this upcoming Easter season.

- Pastor Jeff Smith

Kyra Clark
Moving Forward in Faith

By faith, the people passed through the Red seas as if on dry land.

Early on in the Book of Exodus, we see God tasking Moses and his brother Aaron with leading His chosen people out of bondage in Egypt. What God was asking was a pretty tall order. Egypt was a wealthy and powerful nation; a force not to be trifled with. While Moses was no coward, he was understandably reluctant. But eventually, Moses said “yes” to God and a people were set free. While those are the basic facts of the Exodus story, the amazing part of the tale is in the middle. On that journey to freedom, Moses, his brother Aaron, and the Hebrew people learned something about themselves, about who God is, and about their relationship with God. And learn they did! Within a generation, those ragtag, Hebrews went from being slaves in Egypt to a great nation in their own right; a nation and a people with a powerful message to share with other nations; a message from a powerful God. The Book of Exodus describes one of the most powerful stories of
human transformation in all of recorded history. 

But it’s not simply a compelling bible story. The story of the Exodus has lessons to teach us to this day. It has a lot to say about faith and moving forward in faith. Moving Forward in Faith; sounds like a great title for a sermon series doesn’t it? As a matter of fact, it is the title of a sermon series; one that starts on January 14th. I find the story particularly relevant for us here at Remington UMC as we are about to make some big decisions on who and what we are as a people of God, and to discern where God is taking us. Please join us for the series; as many of them as you can. Come and see what God may well have in store for us through the story of what He had in store for the people of Israel.

Blessings,

Pastor Jeff