From time to time we like to share with you some resources and things to enrich your life and faith walk. Some of it is stuff that you will have no use for, and some of it is stuff that could change your life. And some of it will prompt you to share stuff with us: please do! We would love your suggestions and feedback.
I had only had the three children in my care for a short time when I brought them to the Department of Children and Families office in the Asa Bloomer building in Rutland to meet their mother who was, understandably, anxious to see and touch her children again. We went into the office waiting room and waited until a concerned social worker could meet us to escort us to a room further inside the offices where we sat and waited.
The children looked around speculatively, trying to decide which of the tattered toys they’d like to fight over first. The rooms reflect the fact that DCF cares. Efforts have been made to furnish them with a wide range of safe toys and furniture conducive to family interaction. They have been painted in cheerful and pleasant colors.
No family ends up in that room without there having been considerable heartache and grief to bring them there. The time spent in that room will be the high point or the low point of someone’s week; and sometimes both at once. And if families are important so are the spaces where “family” is permitted to happen.
DCF Work Project
We want to honor the work that DCF is doing and the families for whom they are doing it by making sure that these emotionally significant places fully reflect the way we all feel about what happens in them. Our Office of the Department for Children and Families in Rutland County has given us the opportunity to renovate and refurnish their two visitation rooms, the places where children in custody can have supervised interactions with their families. We are going to replace old, tired toys and furniture and redecorate the rooms so that they will be positive places where fractured families can maintain connection with dignity. And we need your help. Find out more here.
The other thing we've been given an opportunity to help with is the "store" that DCF maintains with clothing, toiletries, and other items that would be helpful to families with children in custody as well as foster families and all those in need. DCF is in need of help with sorting and stocking items and would be grateful for assistance with staffing the room.
When their mother came in I felt a lot of feels. I ached for her and for the children. I felt insecure. I felt hopeful. And I felt more than a little out of place. But I can only imagine what she and the kids felt in that moment. Since then, I’ve logged hours in those two rooms and others like them, and I know that there will always be a need for rooms like this until Jesus comes back.
But, speaking of Jesus coming back, do you know what he’s doing in preparation for his return? He is preparing a place for me in heaven. He is getting rooms ready for when a family fractured by sin can be reunited with the Father in heaven. If that’s how Jesus is spending this time, it feels really appropriate for us to spend that time in much the same manner: getting rooms ready so that fractured families can be together in a gracious and well appointed place.
If you are interested in joining us in this effort (or in helping us to staff and stock DCF’s “store”) please follow this link to the page on our website where you will find more information and a chance to sign up.
By Joel Tom Tate
It’s been quite the month or so in the pulpit of Furnace Brook Wesleyan Church. We’ve been preaching through 1 Corinthians and it turns out that Paul has a lot to say on the topic of human sexuality. (Listen to some of this month’s sermons here.)
This Month We've Talked About Sex a Lot.
So we have squirmed and laughed uncomfortably and held our breath together. It’s been good, but it’s been . . . uneasy.
We’re aware that there is a caricature of the church as a finger-wagging place where everyone is hung-up on sex. “It’s all sex, sex, sex with them. They need to just move on.” We know this is a thing that people think and say and, implicitly, we hear that the more mature you are the more “over it” you will be.
And the church does not want to seem ridiculous or immature. We don’t want to confirm the stereotype and push people away. And the result, sadly, is that a child is more likely to hear about drag queens at the local library than an adult is to hear about married sex at church, regardless of how much the Bible has to say on the topic.
And the Bible has a lot to say on the topic. From the Old Testament law to Jesus’ instruction in the Sermon on the Mount to Paul’s letters to the various churches, the Bible is remarkably frank and explicit about human sexuality (2 Corinthians 12:21, Ephesians 5:33, Galatians 5:19, Genesis 2:24, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Corinthians 6:18). It’s strange how much more prim and cautious churches are than is the Bible which those churches preach.
In many of our churches, we have effectively ceded discussion of the topic to an aggressively mistaken and hostile culture in an act of self-censorship. It amounts to a crisis of self-confidence. We might fear God enough to practice his teaching, but we fear the world too much to preach it.
Pastors shouldn’t seem strangely intent on working it into every sermon, but neither should they seem reluctant to mention it, as is often the case. Recovering a good balance starts with understanding why we might be reluctant to cover the topic and why we should do it anyway.
Why Do Christians Avoid the Topic of Sex in Church?
Two reasons why we wouldn’t want to discuss sex in church:
1. Hot button, divisive issues.
Some of the reluctance to inject delicate and politically charged issues like “marriage equality” and transgenderism into the worship service is not only understandable, but admirable. If our goal is to reach lost people for Jesus why would we put stumbling blocks in their way? Taking a “Jesus first, social issues second” approach makes more sense than a “social issues first, Jesus second” approach (starting with the social issues will often mean going no
further.) But the problem with this approach is that you can not separate Jesus the Lord from Jesus’ teaching on human relationships, including human sexuality. You can no more lead with Jesus and defer social issues to some
conversation in the distant future, than you can entice someone to consider broccoli with an appeal to its nutrition, while putting off to some later date a consideration of its taste and texture. (And, yes, I know that how you feel about
my comparing Jesus to broccoli will depend a lot on how you feel about broccoli.)
2. Sexual Fatigue.
Ironically, living in a sex-saturated culture does not necessarily stoke the flame of passion to a roaring flame. In fact, it can suffocate the libido in the same way that an all-you-can-eat buffet kills the appetite. Imagine living at the Golden Corral, waking up there, going to bed there, feeling bloated and queasy all the time, and imagine how you would groan if once a week you had a chance to go outside and enjoy a break from the sizzles, scents, and clinking of cutlery and on one of those occasions someone tried to talk to you about food. This, I think, is a real problem for us and one that Paul did not have to deal with in his cultural context. It doesn’t mean we should give people a break from talk of sex, but we might have to bring it up in a manner that is different from Paul’s.
Why Should Christians Talk About Sex in Church?
While those reasons to not talk about sex in church are well and good, I think it’s important that we discuss sex in church anyway. Here are four reasons why:
1. To not is to surrender.
My grandfather once took me out in the middle of Lake Champlain in an old rowboat that was both leaky and low enough in the water that even mild waves might lap a little over. We had two coolwhip bowls and I was almost constantly employed in the business of bailing. When I expressed my frustration with the bailing he told me that I could easily lose the war against the water but I could not win it, except by getting safely back to the shore. Neither the leaking water nor the pervasive culture will take a break just because we do, and if we fail to bail out each other's boats we are consigning each other to dreadful swampings. Not discussing sex in Church surrenders the discussion to the world, whose beliefs do not line up with God’s design for sexuality.
2. It is pertinent and of interest to everyone.
The topic of human sexuality applies to every person, regardless of age and situation, and most people have a lot of questions on the topic. If people are concerned and curious that’s an “in” the church can’t afford to ignore.
3. Scriptural fidelity
If all scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching and edification (2 Timothy 3:16), then our preaching content should be roughly proportional to scriptural content. If God felt it was worth revealing we should, in humility, consider it no less worthy of proclaiming.
4. Romantic hope
If you listen closely you will hear that a lot of our cultural language about sex is tinged with a sad cynicism. Real romance has been a casualty of our sexually permissive and libertine culture. And the church can create space for real romantic hope for longing people by restoring a biblical approach to sexuality wherever we can. Where people follow God’s heart for human sexuality there is more sexual joy and romantic delight. As Christians, we should be aiming to understand and apply God’s word in all aspects of our lives (Colossians 3:16), including (but not limited to) sex and romantic relationships (2 Timothy 2:15).
Written by Joel Tate
This past Sunday (8/25) Pastor Joel talked about building a faith that would survive the fire (listen to the full sermon here.)
If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.
- 1 Corinthians 3:12-14
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? - 2 Corinthians 13:5
Paul’s metaphor of building a house reminds us that our faith, like a house, requires a strong foundation, sound materials, careful workmanship, and ongoing maintenance.
It is a good faith practice to regularly audit your faith life, or have a ‘building inspection’ for your faith building. Are there materials at your disposal that you didn’t have when you first started building your house? Have you used some building materials that are worn out or unsturdy? Regular faith examination can be painful, but is an important part of spiritual health.
Consider asking yourself some hard questions about your faith life. Determine how sturdy your building is, and do the hard work of making repairs where needed. Below is a list of questions to help you do a ‘building inspection’ for your faith.
John Wesley’s list of 22 Questions for Self-examination that you may adapt to the purpose of a “building inspection”:
Prayerfully consider each of these questions, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you anything that you may need healing in, that you may need to repent of, or that you are unaware of. Contact the church office if you have any questions or would like to discuss the questions above. You can email the office at: email@example.com, or call (802)483.2531.
How to be a Good Building Inspector
Self-examination is important, but we all have blind spots and gaps in our knowledge. Building inspectors are tasked with intentionally seeking out faults in a home in order to strengthen the whole structure. This can be a painful process for the homeowner, but is beneficial to the longevity and usefulness of the home.
Christians have a role to play in building each other up. This is no easy task, and should be done prayerfully and delicately. Below are some guidelines for how to lovingly assist your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Principles for building inspectors:
We are all being built up in the faith, and came to Jesus broken and sinful. The beauty of our Savior is that he has saved us (past tense), but is also actively saving us (right now!) in our daily lives by building us up to be more like him. It is our privilege to grow our faith in Him daily, and to reach out to those around us to know him more deeply. As a church we are committed to making more and better disciples: more by sharing our faith and blessing our community, and better by encouraging and equipping each other in the faith daily.
Questions? Would you like to have a ‘Building Inspection’ done? Contact the church office. You can email the office at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (802)483.2531.
Furnace Brook is blessed with many things, one of which is our Pastoral Intern Abigail Elliott. Abbey has been focusing her efforts at the Brandon Campus this summer, but will be transitioning to a more to the Pittsford Campus as the Brandon service winds down this fall.
Below is an update on Abbey as it pertains to her Ministry and our Church.
Your Pastoral Intern is still alive. Life is crazy but I wanted to take some time to update you with some things going on in my life. I finished my undergrad at Castleton in December. Since then, I’ve started my second construction season with the Agency of Transportation and started working at Head Start preschool. I’m loving both jobs. The fall sports season is underway; I’m coaching cross country at Otter Valley and cheer on the Rutland Raiders because Cody [Abigail's boyfriend] coaches football.
On top of that I started my Masters of Divinity program at Wesley Seminary in June and started my second semester a week ago. It’s a crazy, exciting, and stressful journey. I’m excited for what God has in store for us.
This past summer, Furnace Brook held a service in the Brandon Town Hall. It was an amazing growing experience. I loved the less formal environment, the interactive teaching, and taking communion every week. Unfortunately, we were a smaller group than I intended it to be, but I believe God planted seeds for better things to come.
Here are some things you might want to know about what is happening in my life:
1. I am currently attending Weslyean seminary at Indiana Wesleyan.
I'm passionate about sharing the Gospel, and I'm excited to see how God is going to seminary experience to bless my community. It’s exciting to be excited about something. My undergrad classes were interesting but I wasn’t eager to learn. My seminary material is thought provoking, applicable to my current ministry content, and it’s encouraging. My classes so far have focused on spiritual health and changing the culture of evangelism in the church. These things are essential for a healthy church so I’m looking forward to sharing my findings with you all.
2. I'm staying in the Word and feeding myself spiritually with blogs, devotional, and podcasts.
Here are some of my favorites:
My time reading is consumed by seminary material and construction specification manuals. Work work work. If I have free time, I enjoy reading DCF books, Jane Austen, and running/health books. I like short and sweet because I’m rather impatient.
3. God is teaching me through leadership experience, and growing me in ways I didn't expect.
I can’t do everything and not everything is going to work. It has been extremely difficult to let things die so that better things can be born. It seems to be a season of praying and waiting. As I mentioned before, the Brandon Campus did not go as well as I hoped it would. As a result, we have decided to take a break from meeting at the Brandon Town Hall to enter into a season of prayer and evaluation. It’s hard to stomach but I’m confident God will carry us through. And honestly, perhaps less stress will be good for me ;) . Zechariah 4:6 says, ‘“Not by strength or by my might, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord of Armies.’ God has ample strength and I’m grateful for the strength He gives me.
4. I am praising God for his work, and seeing the fruit of the Holy Spirit in my ministry.
I started discipling two women who are young and eager in their faith. I’ve been praying for discipleship opportunities for about 6 months as the initial people that I wanted to disciple fell through. Discipling these women happened organically and is totally providential. I’m thrilled and humbled to be able to disciple these women. Both women see spiritual formation as an essential ingredient in their spiritual lives.
Discipleship is so important to me because I care deeply for the spiritual health of the people around me. Spiritual maturity isn’t something we can do ourselves. During discipleship we implement spiritual disciplines like Bible reading, scripture memorization and time alone with God. This process of spiritual formation creates a life lived with intentionality. As we work through the tough stuff, the Holy Spirit reveals to us our purpose and calling. As a result of this maturing process we become rooted and grounded in love which leads to a desire to share and invest in other people. It is an internal process with an external reaction.
I can’t wait for the time in the life of Furnace Brook where every person is either discipling or being discipled. Please be praying for us!
Please Pray for me.
Please be praying for time management: having the proper priorities,and patience. During my busy days I can lose sight of what is important or sometimes I take on more than I can handle. Please be praying that I prioritize the things God wants me to be dealing with rather than what I deem as important.
Abbey Elliott, Pastoral intern
Looking for a good read to challenge, expand or inform your faith journey? Consider some of the books your Ministry Leaders are reading right now! Got a great book to share? Comment below!
Below are the books the Ministry Leaders are reading during this season.
1. John McDonald, Care Ministry Leader
As the Care Ministry Leader, John coordinates visits for the sick of the congregation, as well as prayer, meals and similar assistance for those who are ill. In addition, John is a member of the Prayer Ministry. Contact John at: email@example.com.
What John's reading:
Banding Together: A Practical Guide for Disciple Makers by Jon Weist
Not sure if you're up to the challenge of discipleship? Check out this intuitive guide on Band Meetings by Jon Weist. Jon's guide is the result of research on the Methodist revival, and the success of Band Meetings. This guide is designed for those looking to lead a Band, but has useful information for anyone who isn't familiar with Band Meetings: including a framework for disciplemaking, and how to disciple outlined step-by-step.
2. Barry Tate, Forest Dale Supply Pastor
Barry is the Supply Pastor at Forest Dale. He leads the Forest Dale service on Sunday's at 6pm, 1895 Forest Dale Rd. He is passionate about Furnace Brook's Mission of Making More and Better Disciples in our Brandon community. Contact Barry at: P.O Box 189, Benson, VT, 05731.
What Barry's reading:
Henry Moorehouse: the English Evangelist by John MacPherson
This book chronicles the life of Henry Moorehouse, a buisnessman turned English preacher whose ministry drew large crowds.
The Minor Prophets by Charles L. Feinberg
If you've ever had questions about some of the less knows prophets like Haggai or Zepheniah this is a great book to check out! The third of three volumes, this is a scholarly exegetical and expository commentary.
3. Ed Hackett, Growth Group Leader
Ed is a member of the Prayer Team, and also leads the Men's Band on Tuesday mornings (resumes September 10th, 5:45am, Pittsford Campus). Ed is eager to support men to live and love like Jesus. Contact Ed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Ed's reading:
The Relational Disciple: How God uses Community to Shape Followers of Jesus, by Joel Comiskey
The Relational Disciple analyzes Jesus's disciple making process with a relational lense, noting implications for disciple makers and those looking to deepen their relationship with Jesus today.
Groups that Thrive, by Joel Comiskey
What make some groups successful and others fall flat? In this book, researchers , Joel Comiskey and Jim Egli analyze their research of 4800 small group participants across four continents. The authors summarize their findings in 8 conclusions and practical advice on how to create a thriving small group.
Ed's thoughts: "Solid insights and great encouragement!"
4. John Solie, Discipleship Ministry Leader
John heads up the Discipleship Ministry. He is eager to see lives transformed in the pursuit of Jesus, and for the faith to be multiplied in the small group context. Contact John at: email@example.com.
What John's reading:
Miracles by Eric Metacas
Do miracles happen today? Are miracles valid or can science explain them? Metacas analyzes miracles using scientific and anectotal evidence which speaks to the skeptical and the passionate believers.
5. Carla Peck, Events Ministry Leader
Carla heads the Event Ministry which coordinates and exectues Furnace Brook events such as the Blood Drives, and Bonfire Nights. Contact Carla at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Carla's reading:
The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly
"I like crime/detective novels and especially his Harry Bosch series" says Carla. Check out Connelly's book for a good summer read.
6. Stephanie and Frank Rue, Worship Ministry Leaders
Stephanie and Frank lead the Worship Ministry at Furance Brook. They are enthusiastic about expressing praise and worship through song, and ushering others into the presence of God. Contact the Rues at: email@example.com
What Stephanie's reading:
Worship Words by Debra & Ron Rienstra
Rienstra's work examines the importance of language in worship. Curious about worhip or looking for some appreciation of words in worship? Check out this book to gain some appreciation for using words in worship intentionally.
The Worship Architect by Constance M. Cherry
Cherry delves into the nitty gritty of worship in her work, outlining a worship blueprint for worship leaders.
What Frank's reading:
Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
How can contemporary Christians stay Holy? If we're set apart, how do we stay apart? Bridges delves into the role of the Holy Spirit and staying holy as Christians.
When Forest Dale Wesleyan Church merged with Furnace Brook Wesleyan it wasn’t just our congregations and affairs that merged. We became one church with one mission: making more and better disciples for Jesus.
Since then our commitment to that mission has led to us adopting lots of different strategies for Forest Dale:. We have tried different worship times, worship styles, and leadership arrangements. We’ve remodeled the sanctuary and tinkered with the branding.
Through all of that experimentation the people who have been committed to worshiping at Forest Dale have been admirably resilient.
And considering how flexible they proved to be and how committed we all were to the mission it’s been hard to understand why nothing has met with the success we expected to have. It’s been hard at times not to feel discouraged, and all the more so as attendance continued to grow and we continued to rejoice in salvations and life transformation in the context of the ministry at the Pittsford Campus. And all of that brings us to the latest interesting and promising arrangement for Forest Dale.
New Forest Dale Arrangement
Since March, Rev. Barry Tate, the father of our lead pastor, Joel Tate, has been leading a gathering at Forest Dale at 9:30am. The idea was that it would be something more than an adult Bible Study but less than a full church service; something that would give people an opportunity to go on getting some worshipful edification in a location they had come to love, but which would not prevent them from joining their fellow Furnace Brookers for worship at the 11:00 service at the Town Hall in Brandon.
Since then the 9:30 service at Forest Dale has enjoyed some modest growth in numbers and in depth of fellowship with Rev. Barry Tate coming to have a very special place in the hearts of the people meeting there. So when Pastor (Joel) Tate led the evaluation on the services at Forest Dale and the Town Hall, the colleagues with whom he consulted encouraged the board to consider committing to worship services at Forest Dale through the summer if his father was going to be available to lead them. And they encouraged the board to consider giving the services at Forest Dale a distinct identity, while remaining committed to the idea that Furnace Brook is one church in however many places.
Because Rev. Barry Tate has a longstanding commitment to preaching at the West Haven Baptist church from June through September, the people of Furnace Brook who enjoy worshiping at Forest Dale cheerfully agreed to a 6:00pm worship time to accommodate him and Barry Tate is now at least as busy in retirement as he ever was in full time ministry.
This will be the first Sunday for Forest Dale Worship at 6:00 and what it will end up being is still somewhat in flux as everyone is figuring out what will work best there. But we do know a few things about this service of Furnace Brook:.
What You Should Do About It
Regardless of the location where you attend we encourage you to be sold out for the mission, and lifting the church up in prayer.
1. Get excited about the mission! We are all about making more and better disciples, as one church body in many locations.Pray about our mission, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grow closer in your relationship with Jesus. Ask yourself the hard questions about what your discipling looks like, and who you could be discipling. If you are not in a Growth Group or discipling relationship, we encourage you to get plugged in (more information can be found on the church website).
2. Be in prayer for everyone at Forest Dale as we embark on this next chapter. Please be praying for your church regularly. Pray that Jesus is glorified in all of our buildings. Pray that our leadership has Godly wisdom and counsel. Pray for unity and love within the members. Pray for our church goers to grow in their relationship with Jesus. Pray to be challenged personally in your ministry and daily life. Pray for our ministry to impact our community in such a way that people are brought to a saving relationship with Jesus. Pray that each and every person who walks through our doors feels the love of Jesus. Pray that we are one church making more and better disciples.
By: Joel Tom Tate
“All truth is God’s truth.” As a freshman at a Christian college I was being asked to read a book by an atheist, and I was suspicious. The professor refused to apologize that the assigned text was from a nonbeliever, insisting that God’s grace extended even to the New York Times best sellers list.
It’s a simple and fairly obvious idea: not everything is true, but everything that is true is true regardless of who said it. It’s not hard to grasp, but it can be hard to accept.
How Can Christians Know Truth in Today’s World?
Every day, it seems, we read about some campus dust-up over the removal of another book from the curriculum. Works of literature get tossed in the memory hole because the author, it turns out, held beliefs which, however conventional at the time, are now considered politically incorrect. And whether you cheer that as a principled stand or condemn it as another step down the slippery slope to George Orwell’s “1984” depends on where you line up in the culture wars.
But it’s a universal impulse. We all have a tendency to quarantine the things we fear might carry their author’s infection. But should we? If it’s true that all truth is God’s truth do we need to fear that good and true things may carry some hidden contamination?
A former pastor of a midwestern megachurch has been in the news lately because of new, sensational accusations. He had already been fired from the church he started because of financial improprieties and a leadership style that has been described as “bullying.” But add to the long list of accusations about him the new bombshell coming from two different people that he tried finding a hitman to kill someone who he felt posed a threat to his ministry.
Judging by the people I know to still be among the living, this is not a widespread practice among pastors, most of whom remain stubbornly committed to the more biblical if less gratifying approach of “killing them with kindness.”
It’s not surprising at all that this pastor lost his pulpit. It makes complete sense that he has been disinvited from speaking engagements and that his calendar has freed up. But what’s interesting is that bookstores have stopped carrying the books he has written, and publishers have stopped publishing them. And it’s not because there is no longer a market for these books or because anything he wrote is untrue. People are still buying them and reading them and, presumably, benefitting from them.
I have one of those books on my shelf. I read it several years ago and it made a real impact on me at a critical point in my ministry. It breathed fresh air into my preaching and my commitment to the church. It still informs my thinking.
How to Sift for Truth Biblically in a Fallen World
I’m having a tough time reconciling the author of that book with the man who asked his bodyguard to “take care of” a problem for him. And I’m wondering if a book that no longer has a place on the shelves of Christian retailers should have a place on the shelf of my study.
Regarding how to sift through books (as well as movies, music, television, celebrities, memes, etc.) these are some of the conclusions I’ve come to:
Now there have been entire books written on this topic and by better authors than this one. And, as the Teacher says in Ecclesiastes, “of the writing of many books there is no end.” So a blogpost like this one may be of limited value.
But it’s my hope that Christians in an intolerant culture and an incurious age would be set apart by their confident discernment and Holy Spirit led appropriation of all the truth they can get their minds on while carefully spitting out all the nasty stuff before it gets swallowed.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8.
Written by: Joel Tate
As part of the Wesleyan denomination, our Church meets annually to discuss the past year and take the opportunity for members to vote on board positions.
The theme for our annual meeting this year (2019) was “the proper time,” a reference to Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
2019 Annual Meeting: The Proper Time
In God’s wisdom this is the proper time for our church to do some fun and wonderful things. It is the proper time for growing in numbers and scope as we fulfill our mission of making more and better disciples for Jesus. More and more people are attending services at one of our locations and subsequently praying for salvation, getting baptized, and engaging in discipleship.
But it is also the proper time for facing some challenges. We have strategically positioned ourselves for this growth by adding personnel, systems, and worship services. We are confident that these decisions have been vindicated and that we are going to be very grateful in the long run. But, in the meantime, we have to fund them and that means finding ways to operate within a constrained budget.
And our annual meeting highlighted all of this in the ways that make Furnace Brook special. Jesus was front and center. We operated transparently and told bracing truths to each other with candor. And all of this was discussed without any rancor, as becomes the mission-driven sons and daughters of the God whose peace passes understanding.
For a copy of the Pastor’s report follow this link, and you can listen to the recording of the annual meeting here.
The officers who were elected for the upcoming year are as follows:
Vice Chairman - Calleen Brosse
Treasurer - Dan Tilden
Secretary - Wendy Wood
Members at Large - Susan Hibbard, Tim Elliott, Tom Valach
Lay Delegate to District Conference - Dick Brosse
If you have questions about the annual meeting, please contact the office: firstname.lastname@example.org; (802)483.2531. Board members are also available to answer questions.
Written by: Joel Tate
One of the best things about the account of the resurrection in the Gospels is the various reactions of the disciples and others. Those reactions range from ecstatic fist pumping on the end to consternation and scheming on the other.
But no one shrugged. Because no one, not even Jesus’ disciples saw it coming.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”- Mark 16:6
God Is Surprising
The best thing about God is that he loves us.
The second best thing about God is that, loving us, he made a way through his Son, Jesus, to save us.
But somewhere down that list of wonderful things about God we come to the fact that he is surprising. It is delightful to have a surprising God, a God who “upsets the world’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:19.)” It is good to have a surprising God. Don't be surprised if God surprises you.
As we celebrate Easter again remind yourself of the benefits and responsibilities of following a surprising, confounding, upside-downing sort of Savior.
How to Respond to a Surprising God
1. Act surprised
God is surprising you for a reason. He wants to you to experience more of him, a fresh revelation of his nature, and his love for you. Resist the temptation to play it cool. If God goes to the trouble of blowing you away, have the decency to be visibly, demonstrably blown away. And, along the way, enjoy the ways that God surprises you.
2. Don’t give up on certainty
But wear your certainty like a winter coat, something you get the benefit of in the cold, but which you remove the moment you step into a warm foyer. Be really certain about what you’re certain of, right up to the point where God takes your certainty away. Be certain that people who get a diagnosis of terminal illness invariably die of that illness . . . right up to the point where God miraculously heals.
3. Know where the surprise won’t come from
While it’s true that he makes all things new, it’s also true that God himself never changes. He does not break faith, there is no sin in him, and his character is always, invariably, a matter of love.
4. Be God’s co-conspirator
Sometimes in my friendship with a non-believer I imagine that, having been given access to my friend’s life, I have been recruited to be God’s “inside man.” I find a window in the house of my friend’s life and make a point of leaving it unlatched that God might sneak in and surprise my friend someday by jumping out from behind his furniture. I hope that’s less creepy than it sounds.
The point is that, being grateful for the way in which God has surprised me, I want to make it possible for God to surprise my friends in the same way.
5. Add an asterisk to everything else
In humility, be aware that having a surprising God and being a human with limited insight means that the next surprise could come from just about any direction. And that surprise could mean a change in my politics or in my circumstances or in my heart. And while I can’t know ahead of time what shape that surprise will take, I can trust the God who’ll spring it on me.
6. Be the surprising servant of a surprising God
Let your neighbors and friends find you just as delightfully surprising as the God that you serve (1 Peter 4:4.) We are God’s prank on a world that he wants to save. Play your part with mischief and grace.
7. Know God is never surprised
While God often works in ways we find unconventional, remember he is never surprised. Adam's sin didn't surprise him, and Jesus was ready to die and rise on our behalf. He is never caught off guard, and he knows your yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Written by Joel Tom Tate
Furnace Brook Wesleyan Church Blog