Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dear Gulf Breeze UMC Family,

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance”
—George Bernard Shaw

I love this quote from George Bernard Shaw. Talk about family skeletons; he had several! But, don’t we all?! I haven’t found the skeletons yet, but I continue to enjoy meeting new friends at GBUMC. Your kindness, compassion and consideration of my family overwhelms us, and we appreciate your genuine and sincere nature in welcoming us into the community.

Please continue to be patient. God is making our skeletons dance, though we may not all have the rhythm as yet!

Worship Matters

Another Wonderful Sunday! Last week, nearly 2,400 people experienced the power and presence of The Holy Spirit at one of our three unique campuses.

GBUMC Fairpoint not only celebrated the wonderful Vacation Bible School that saw over 500 children present on our campus last week, but we also acknowledged the powerful and blessed ministry of Neil and Ashley Epler. Neil and Ashley finished their service at GBUMC this week and now relocate to Enterprise, AL where Neil becomes the Senior Pastor for St. Luke UMC. Of course, we wish Neil and his family the best during this transition and thank him for his generous, gifted service to GBUMC.

Coming Up…Jack is in the fourth week of a powerful series on “The Shack” at GBUMC W@W. Be sure to check out the W@W Facebook page for a wonderful video discussion on The Shack. Also, coming soon, Jack and I share an interview about the deeper meaning of The Shack and how each of us can confront that place most difficult in our lives through God’s grace.

At GBUMC Soundside, Scott teaches on making our way through the wilderness and discovering the real “promised land” by recounting the story of the Israelites’ own journey to the land God had promised to their ancestors.

And, at GBUMC Fairpoint, I teach from 1 Samuel 17 and the familiar story of David and Goliath. What does it mean for us to “Face our Giants”? I believe God’s goal is not just that we survive, but that we prevail and provide a witness for God’s strength and grace in a hurting world.

We are so blessed to have a variety of worship styles through six different, but powerful worship opportunities at GBUMC. Truly, everyone has a place!

Movies and Moving In!

The next sermon series is entitled, “Blockbusters”. Beginning the first Sunday in July, GBUMC Fairpoint and Soundside will use various blockbuster movies to teach God’s enduring truths.

Upcoming sermons include clips from Titanic, Forrest Gump, Independence Day, The Patriot, and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

And, Bo Parker joins the staff of GBUMC on July 1st as the new Executive Director for Worship Ministries. Many of you have had the chance to meet Bo and his wonderful family. As the day for Bo to begin his ministry with us draws near, please continue to pray for him, his family and for GBUMC. We know that God has great things in store!

The LiFE Plan: Check it Out!
Each week at GBUMC Fairpoint, a LiFE Plan is available for your continued study and reflection. LiFE stands for “Living in Faith Everyday”. The plan includes questions specific to the previous week’s sermon but also a daily challenge that includes daily bible readings, prayer, fellowship and service opportunities.

Go to to check out the latest edition or find a copy located in the Sunday Information Bulletin.

New Ministry Structure: The Congregational Care Team
Last week I mentioned the new ministry/staff structure approved by the Church Council. This new ministry design provides wonderful opportunities for focusing our ministry objectives around common tables and growing forward.

Over the next weeks, I will provide descriptions and objectives related to each ministry area. Of course, if you have questions concerning these or other issues, please do not hesitate to email me at

The Congregational Care Team. Ruth Knights will continue to lead our Congregational Care Ministry Area. Congregational Care Ministries provide care, concern, prayer and support for families and individuals at various stages, places and circumstances of life and to engage the congregation in service and community for one another. Gail Eggimann will serve as the Associate Executive Director for Congregational Care.

The focus of the Congregational Care Team is to respond to the care and support needs of the congregation and to engage the congregation in the ongoing spiritual, physical, emotional and relational expression of living faithfully within the Body of Christ. Ministry departments include:

Christian Counseling Center
Stephen Ministry
Inactive Members Follow-up
Prayer Ministry
Support Groups
Congregational Care Support
Senior Adult Ministry

Next week, I will introduce you to the specifics of the Compassion Ministries Area.

What am I reading?

Several of you have asked what I am currently reading--- besides a lot of church reports!. Well, frankly, my usual love of reading has taken a backseat to moving, transition and two book manuscripts.

However, I recently had the chance to finish a great, “quick read” that, although it has an unusual title, impressed me with its genuine nature and real world wisdom for the church.

“Killing Cockroaches” by Tony Morgan was a delightful surprise written by a pastor leading his church through transition, change and various new ministry opportunities. His honest and forthright writing style impressed me as he shared his dreams and fears from finding God’s grace even in our starts and stumbles. The book is real, funny, poignant and powerful, and I highly recommend it—though I had to tear the cover off in order for my mother to read it! Don’t tell her!

Speaking of Books…
As my church family, I need your support and prayers with two writing projects currently on the horizon.

First, I am finishing edits on A Positive Life, which is mine and Pokey’s memoir. Zondervan will release it next February (2010). Please pray that it will be honest, genuine and helpful. It is hard to tell all of your story. But, if God can use it, so be it!

Second, I am currently finishing a manuscript entitled, You Can’t Do Everything… So Do Something. I don’t usually say this, but I love this book. It is about serving God and how God can use each of us in our own special ways to be the “hands and feet of Jesus in our world”. Please pray that God unveils the joyful, powerful nature of serving and allows me to use the right words for the right folks. I want the book to make a difference. Abingdon Press releases the book next May.

Friends, I write late at night or early in the morning, so praying for a good dose of stamina and adrenaline would be nice. Also, pray for wisdom and the flow of words that always makes the process easier.

Ministry Podcasts

Making Life Matter: “Jesus’ Red Letter Words: Follow”

Salt and Light (hosted with Herb Sadler): “Lessons I Learned Yesterday About Tomorrow, Part II”

2009 Leadership Summit

GBUMC Soundside is honored to, once again, serve as satellite host for the 2009 Leadership Summit presented by Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. This year’s summit will be held August 6-7th, 2009. Willow Creek is one of the largest, most innovative churches in the country.

Speakers include Bill Hybels, David Gergen, Jessica Jackley, Bono, Tony Blair (former UK Prime Minister), Patrick Lencioni, Tim Keller and Wess Stafford.

For more information or to register, see

We are very blessed to be part of this important time for look forward and learning to “Lead Where You Are”… More to come!

Most important… God is doing a wonderful work in the life of our congregation. We are many folks in many places with many approaches to ministry… but we proclaim one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Praise God.

I love you all.

Be Salt and Light… You matter.

1 Corinthians 15: 58

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