A bi-monthly e-letter by agency officers and staff
of the General Commission on UM Men
Living in the light
By Bishop Gary Mueller
The light shines in the darkness. But the darkness has not overcome the light. John 1:5 (NIRV)
You know what it’s like to become overwhelmed by darkness because a pandemic has turned life upside down. You also know darkness when you are deeply hurt or someone you love dies.
Sadly, you also know that you live in a world enveloped in a more insidious darkness that is the result of humanity living in ways which are fundamentally opposed to God’s will.
But here’s the Good News:
You don’t have to live in fear of this darkness––whether it’s personal or part of the human condition.
That’s because Jesus, the light of the world, has come smack dab into the middle of the worst possible darkness to light it up. And nothing is ever going to dim his light that illuminates everything in a brand new way.
There’s something you need to know about Jesus’ light. It does not just brighten what’s around you, it lights you up from the inside-out. No wonder Jesus wants you to keep it shining in your life.
By living with light in all the things you do every single day––changing diapers, mowing the lawn, helping those in need, cooking dinner, dealing with office politics, and spending time with your family.
Of course, this shouldn’t be a surprise since Jesus’ light transforms real life as well as gives eternal life. But because it does, a miracle will occur––you will glow brighter and brighter and brighter.
Bishop Gary Mueller, vice president
General Commission on UM Men
‘Closest’ or ‘Closet’
By Gil Hanke
My handwriting and my spelling have not improved with age. Each Wednesday at 6:45 a.m., I participate in a “reunion group,” a wonderful group of men who meet via Zoom.
Each week, we report on a template of ways we respond to Christ.
One of those ways falls under the category of “Closest to Christ.”
For some reason my scribbled notes look more like “closet” than “closest.”
That mistaken scribble raises two interesting questions:
“Do you feel close to Christ only when you are in a prayer closet?”
“Do you keep Christ in a closet?”
Men are often guilty of compartmentalizing Christ or God by saying, “There are things I do in the world and there are other things I do to be close to Christ.”
The Bible has many examples of men thinking they could escape from God’s presence or believing they had to be in a certain place or condition to be in God’s presence.
There is a song I sang as a child (apparently, so did Elvis Presley): “God is so high you can’t over Him, so wide you can’t get around Him . . .”
This simple song raises two questions “Does my Sunday behavior differ from other days?” and “Does my weekday behavior include actions I avoid on Sunday?”
Yes, I admit there are places where it is easy to feel God’s presence. Some call those “thin” places. These places may be in your church sanctuary, favorite park, or retreat center.
But we are always close to Christ.
That is not something to fear, but something to embrace in each and every situation, and in each and every location.
What helps you feel close to God in any setting?
Gil Hanke, chief executive officer
General Commission on UM Men
Lessons from John Wesley
By Dr. Rick Vance
“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.”
–– John Wesley
I encountered this quote in a devotion last week, and I pondered how the quotation relates to how we do men’s ministry.
Most of us want to receive the finest training and be engaged with the most up-to-date technologies.
While outreach and training are important, Wesley said that the most important component is our willingness to be holy and desire God’s best in our life.
Following his death and resurrection, Jesus instructed his trained disciples to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28).
In other words, take your training and act on it.
Going out and building relationships with men who are not part of our ministry is at the core of our mission to “Coach men to THRIVE through Christ!”
John Wesley once said: “Beware you be not swallowed up in books! An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.”
The way we show love is through our relationships with other men who are on a spiritual journey and with those who have not yet begun.
All of this requires that we leave our meeting places and go into the mission field (the world) to love, serve, and coach God’s children.
Wesley said: “Get on fire for God and men will come and see you burn.”
May we be so bold to go into the world and allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn in us, that men will come and see.
The commission has many resources to help you reach out into your community and local church. Please give us a call.
The Rev. Dr. Rick Vance, director of the Center for Men’s Ministries
General Commission on UM Men
Dig around the roots
By Steven Scheid
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
––Luke 13:6-9 (NIV)
The parable of the barren fig-tree seems irrelevant to an urban or suburban life. Our trees are seldom used to provide fruit.
The lessons are still powerful.
There is an expectation for a tree to bear fruit.
Ministry is to bear fruit. God’s orchard is to be full. The harvest is to be plentiful.
For the farmer (who has watched over the ministry for years) the thought of cutting down the tree is painful. He pleads with the owner, “Leave it alone for one more year.”
This plea is not left without a promise. The farmer commits to dig around and fertilize the tree.
What parts of our ministry need to be loosened? Are the roots bound and in need of a good “digging” to open them?
What are we willing to invest to feed the ministry?
Get back to the roots. The fruit is waiting to grow.
Steven Scheid, director of the Center for Scouting Ministry
General Commission on UM Men
Thanks to everyone
By Herman Lightsey
We can truly do all things through Christ who gives us the strength, the ability, and the desire to do great things for His purposes.
––based on Philippians 4:13
A successful NACP meeting was the result of a true team effort. Special thanks to the commission staff, especially Dr. Rick for keeping me and the meeting on task.
During this pandemic, God has given us new ways to reach men and their families.
We had a good attendance, but we are not reaching men in our local churches.
I challenge you to leave your comfort zone and reach out to men with whom you do not normally communicate––men of all ages, color, social status, and people who may not agree with your views (pick a subject).
We will be offering next-step training in coming months. When you receive the dates and links, please share them with men in local churches.
Thanks to God, our country and world are beginning to open up. We trust that our next NACP meeting (March 3-6, 2022) will be held in person. We will continue to live cast that meeting so more men can participate.
I offer three prayer suggestions:
Pray this ministry will be pleasing to God.
Pray for new ways to reach men for Christ.
Pray for strength and wisdom to seek His guidance and act on it.
Remember, this ministry is not about where or if men and their families attend church, this ministry is about where men and their families will spend eternity.
Grace and peace,
Herman Lightsey, president
National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men
The UMM Foundation supports Scouting
By Steve Nailor
There is a father absence crisis in America. According the 2020 U.S. Census, 18.3 million children live without a biological father in the home. Since 1920, the UMC has supported Scouting programs which help youth through mentoring, life-long learning, enriching faith, serving others, healthy living, and building character.
In 1981, it appeared the UMC was about to drop Scouting. Leaders of UM Men then created the UM Men Foundation to ensure the ministry would continue.
That 40-year tradition has continued, and for the last six years the foundation has annually contributed $114,500 for the Office of Scouting Ministry. Our board of directors, meeting in March, 2021, agreed to continue the same level of support for the 2021-2024 quadrennium.
While that 10-year annual gift is significant, it does not cover the rising costs related to this ministry.
There is a need for increased funds to build a larger and stronger base to support current and future programming.
How can you become involved in helping to build these funds for the Scouting Ministries?
There are three simple ways for you to give to this vital ministry: monthly, annually, or through estate planning.
As an example, if you choose to fast one meal a day, each week for an entire year, at $10 per meal, you would be able to give $520 each year. The interest derived from these funds is the only money used in ministry. The foundation is striving to raise sufficient funds to secure the future for the scouting program and other ministries for decades to come.
Personally speaking, I receive the biggest blessing in life when I help others through my ability to provide opportunities to change the lives of young men and women.
I pray the UMM Foundation grows to a point where it can make major differences in the lives of many families through Scouting. The future of God’s kingdom belongs with our children (Mark 10:14).
Will you consider making a difference in their lives today?
Steve Nailor, president
UM Men Foundation
Ignorance is no excuse
By Mark Lubbock
At age 16, I took a motorcycle trip to Denver.
In that mile-high city, I was frustrated by a long stoplight, so I cut through a gas station. Immediately, a police officer pulled me over.
“I didn’t know that was illegal,” I said.
He handed me a ticket.
“I guess you know now,” he said. “I’ll bet you never forget!”
Ignorance of the law is apparently not a valid excuse.
Will you try to plead ignorance about knowing God’s plan for your life?
We might want to claim we had no access to God’s word, but that excuse is lame when electronic Bibles are easily accessible and there is free access on the Internet.
Yet, reading and understanding are two different things. We need help on the journey to discipleship.
John Wesley understood the challenges of understanding of God’s standards and how to live them out. He came up with two methods to teach us how to live as disciples of Jesus.
The Class Meeting teaches us about the practice of daily living, and the Band Meeting helps us through the rough spots. Together these two small-group methods help us become joyful disciples.
The commission can provide training about these Wesleyan tools.
Contact me or any staff member for information.
Mark Lubbock, deployed staff member
General Commission on UM Men