Change your thinking about your thinking
By Bishop Gary Mueller
All too often we Christians manifest a thinking problem that causes us to get stuck, feel hopeless, and make poor decisions. But, when we change our thinking about our thinking, God does amazing things.
When we think that the only way we can solve problems in our beloved UMC is to adopt some plan at General Conference, we descend into chaos and despair.
But, when we think differently about our church, we begin to ask a question that can change the trajectory of our future. Let’s ask, “What can General Conference do to ensure there are many faithful and vital congregations making disciples of Jesus Christ?”
When we think the UMC is going to continue to decline, we give up and just go through the motions. But, when we think differently and believe that prayer changes things, then we begin fervently praying for a great awakening that always brings Jesus into the lives of people both in the church and the mission field.
When we think men’s ministry is always going to struggle to reach younger men, we’re always going to fail to reach young men. But, when we think differently and realize that it’s not our mission, but a mission given to us by God, then we are propelled into the lives of young men who want to engage in a deeper discipleship alongside other men.
When we change the way we think, we change the questions we ask. When we change our questions, we change our conversations. And when we change our conversations, we experience God doing amazing things in our lives and the lives of those around us.
Bishop Gary Mueller, vice-president
Be faithful in all things
By the Rev. Rickey Haynes
“In the beginning . . .”
Well, it was not the immediate beginning, but soon after God created human beings, a spirit of rebellion entered the world.
Thousands of years later we are still in the same mess.
We would like to blame this mess on the first human beings for rebelling against God, or we would like to blame God for allowing it to happen. However, our reasoning is critically flawed.
That kind of thinking results in our desire to continue in a rebellious state.
Yes, we are a rebellious people. We can see that even in the little things
We say “no” to the limits that authorities establish for the good of the whole. For instance, if I drive the speed limit most people will pass me. Regardless of the speed limit, 35 or 75, a large number of people will disobey.
And when was the last time you completely stopped at a stop sign?
These small things will not cause you to lose your soul. I’m certainly not insinuating that possibility. But, Luke 16:10 says: “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities” (NLT).
This applies to all things.
Men, when we are rebellious in the little things what does that say to those around us, especially our wives, children, and fellow church members?
Can we be trusted to be faithful in the bigger things?
A very silly thought? Maybe. But let me place it in another setting.
- Have you been faithful to the vows you made at your baptism? Have you reviewed those vows recently?
- What have you done lately with your response for Christ through your vocation?
- Are you using the resources that God has blessed you with for God’s glory to the fullest?
- What or who are you making disciples for with your words and actions?
How faithful have you been in your prayer life?
- Has your prayer life included a true and honest time of confession and repentance?
- Has it included a time of seeking God’s future direction for your life?
- Has it included a time of stillness in the presence of God?
Can we, the men of the family called by the name Methodist, be trusted with the little things of God? If not, why should we ever expect to be trusted with the larger things?
Maybe today we can start by coming to a complete stop –– no not the one at the intersection, (even though would be a great idea). The one I am referring to is the one urging us to pause in God’s presence and look closely at our life before we proceed.
Make certain the way is clear to move along the path God is calling us to travel.
The Rev. Rickey Haynes
Superintendent of the Senatobia District
Mississippi Annual Conference
Substituting for Bishop James Swanson
This may be one of the last articles I will write as the general secretary of the commission. As you may know, I had planned to retire this fall, but there are some additional tasks that I feel I need to complete prior to retiring. I am still hoping my original schedule will work; but I am also committed to “ending well.”
There is a limit to the number of years you can serve in this position, and there is also an age limit. I reach both right after the first of 2022, but I wanted to leave this fall so my replacement would have plenty of time on the job before the next General Conference.
Sher and I will be staying in the Nashville area. We bought a home for “the long run” and it is close to the lake (for my kayak) and close to the airport (to see our son and his family) and is the right configuration for us at this time and in the future.
I have been reminded that this journey started in the early 1990s when I was elected president of the Texas Conference UM Men. My first trips to Nashville, predate the 1996 creation of the commission.
I have had great company on this journey, and I am forever blessed to be part of this movement.
I want you to know that I am particularly thankful to you for the last 12 years. You have been very patient with me, and very generous with the way you have helped me lead this vital agency forward to expand men’s and scouting ministries.
I am thankful for every member of the staff who has been part of this journey. Each is a great individual, but collectively they are amazing. We have the best, most imaginative staff of any place I know. I am better at what I did because they each made me better.
I am especially thankful for those who have served as volunteer leaders of the UM Men Foundation, the National Association of Conference Presidents, and the General Commission on UM Men. I personally know of the time you have spent away from family and work to complete the work of this commission. There were costs of time and resources. You took on homework and countless meetings. You changed your schedules to meet ours and had to explain to others at work and at home.
Thank you for your gifts of personal time, talent, and treasure.
Through this journey, your support has been inspirational. Even when hard decisions were made due to budget constraints, you supported the direction we were going. You were patient with me when you heard me say, “Let’s try this . . .”
You embraced my excitement over:
- Class Meetings on Zoom
- Use of deployed staff
- Virtual meetings (even before the pandemic)
- Reaching out to Pan Methodists and leaders of denominations
- New materials accessible on computers
- The creation of Give Day
- The challenge of asking “good men” to change the culture that promotes violence against women
- Welcoming effective affiliates to better serve your local church, district, and conference.
Your skills and grace have been key to the successes we have had over the last 12 years. It has been my honor to serve with you as we collectively serve God.
Thank you, as you continue to be available to God’s leading in these transformational ministries.
Please continue your efforts so that the youth we serve, and the men we serve, will have an on-growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
For more than 40 years, Methodist Men have supported the prayer ministry of the Upper Room.
In 1996, General Conference created the General Commission on United Methodist Men and the new agency joined the National Association of Conference Presidents and the United Methodist Foundation in support of the Upper Room Prayer Center by providing funds for a toll-free telephone line and hosting regional call-in centers.
In 2017, the “800” toll line was replaced an online “prayer wall” that now accepts prayer requests from people around the world.
While the process of receiving prayer requests has changed, the basic need is the same. There are people in need of prayer, and UM Men around the world have made a commitment to pray for these people. Since the change in technology, there have been some men who once operated remote prayer lines are hesitant of the change.
Essentially though, nothing has really changed. People are still contacting The UMC asking for prayer. The only new thing is that each man, men’s unit, district, or jurisdiction now has the ability to pray for and leave the prayer on the prayer wall. Men can and do still gather in groups and pray for people who have requested prayer.
If you have questions or wish additional resources, please contact the Center for Men’s Ministries (615/620-7077).