Devotionals / Newsletters

July 2019 Free to Become

Thoughts about freedom are in the air even more than usual this time of year. More than just the celebration of Independence Day in the U.S. (July 4), demonstrations for freedom are occurring all over the world. I can’t help but believe that the passion for freedom is part of God creating us in his image (Genesis 1:26-27). Something deep within us longs to be free to create and decide.
 

June 2019 Love the Family

When Peter tells us to “love the family of believers,” he doesn’t mean that the church ought to talk a lot about being a family. He doesn’t mean that we should call each other “brother” and “sister” at church and then go about the rest of our weeks as if our sisters and brothers don’t exist.
 

April 2019 Spring is in the Air

 
Signs of spring are all around us.  The temperatures are finally warming, trees are beginning to bud; the grass is even starting to look greener.  Soon the flowers will be in full bloom and the trees will be completely leafed out.  Spring is on its way!
 
 

March 2019 Lent

 
The first Wednesday of March begins our season of Lent.  Lent is a 40 day period (excluding Sundays) that will eventually lead us to an open tomb and the wonderful Good News of Easter.  However, before that day arrives we must journey down a path that will remind us of Jesus’ last days, and the last hours of his earthly life.   For Christians this is a time of, “renewal” as we reflect on all God has done for us through Christ Jesus.
 

February 2019 28 Pillows

 
28 Pillows!  That’s right 28!  Yesterday afternoon (which happened to be the coldest day of the year with temperatures in the negative digits and wind chill at -30) Micah and Eli were home for daycare and preschool.  I was in the kitchen working on music for Wednesday Evening Fellowship and I happened to notice the house was quiet.
 

January 2019 Epiphany

 
Very soon our Christmas season will come to an end.  Now some are a little eager to get all the wrappings and décor put into boxes and the tree stored for next year, but hold on.  The Christmas season doesn’t end until January 6th.  We still have 12 days to celebrate Christmas!
 

November 2018 Autumn

Autumn is a special time to celebrate all the wonderful changes of nature.  The temperature drops and there is a “freshness or crispness” in the air.  The leaves reveal their hidden beauty. The cornstalks have turned from green to brown and the fields give up their golden grain.  And we even rejoice as we see those first beautiful snowflakes fall from the sky.
 
 

October 2018 Make Smooth the Rough Places

 
A few weeks ago the streets in Selma were resurfaced.  The pavers came in and ground off about an 1” to 1 ½” of surface material and ground out the deeper holes (it was quite noisy).  The large dump trucks made constant trips hauling out the old material (seemed like they all passed my house).  Finally, the paver put down the new asphalt making the streets look new and “smooth.
 

September 2018 A Fresh Start

 
It’s hard to believe that two months have passed since my family and I have moved to Selma and became your pastor.  What a great time we are having as we come to get to know you better and our community.  Last week we experienced our first “Bluebird Days!”  What a fun and great experience that was!
 
We got to see and visit with several people from both churches as we walked through the fair and experienced the talent in the Lion’s Club building.  We have a lot of talented folks in our community and churches.
 

August 2018 Whatever you do…

 
What a joy this past month has been!  It has been such a blessing moving to Selma and New Burlington!  You have made my family and I feel so welcomed!  I especially want to thank you for the thoughtful cards and words of encouragement.  And thank you for the many gifts and special ways you have reached out to me and my family!
 

July 2018 Introduction

 

I just wanted to say, “Hello” and introduce myself.  I’m Pastor Andy Martin and on July 1st I’ll begin my appointment to Selma and New Burlington.  My wife, “Susan” and I are very excited about our appointments and the possibilities God has in store for us all.  

Susan will be serving the Redkey UMC ¾ time as their pastor.  We’ve been a “Clergy couple” for almost thirty years.  In this time we’ve been able to do some wonderful ministry together, but our main focus is always the church we are appointed to.
 

June 2018 Transitions

 

A famous cartoon shows a caricature of a well known painting of Adam and Eve fleeing from the garden driven by an overarching angel with a flaming sword in his hand, gates closing behind them.  Adam is saying to Eve, “Eve, we are living in a time of transition.” We all know that transitions can be bad, as for Adam and Eve, but transitions are also good.  Transitions are a time for moving forward, accepting new challenges, and growing in Christ. Above all, for Lana and me, it is a time for remembrance as we fondly look back to all our times together.

 

May 2018 Not Alone

 

A man stopped by a house with a sign out front that said, “Talking Dog For Sale.” The owner directed him to the backyard to see the dog. He was pretty skeptical and called out, “You talk?” “Yep,” the mutt replied. The man then said, “So, what’s your story?” The dog looked up and said, “Well, I discovered this gift when I was young and I wanted to help the government so I went to work for the CIA. I jetted around from country to country. I’ve spied on world leaders because no one ever figured a dog could eavesdrop.

I was one of their most valuable agents. I uncovered some incredible secrets and was awarded a bunch of medals. I had a wife, a mess of puppies, and now I’m just retired.”
 

March 2018 Not about the Rabbit?

 

A Family Circus comic strip shows the children of the family on Easter morning. One asks, “Who laid all these eggs?” The reply of another child is, “The Easter Bunny.” “Who colored them?” Again the reply, “The Easter Bunny.” The first child asks again, “Who gave us the jelly beans?” The reply, “The Easter Bunny.”

The family is then shown going to church. In church, the minister is preaching, and asks, “They came to the tomb and saw the stone rolled back, ‘Who could have done this?’ ” And the child in the congregation yells out, “The Easter Bunny!”
 

February 2018 An Act of Love

 

February – Valentine’s Day.  As you’re taking in all the Cupids, hearts, and chocolates, and Valentine festivities take another look at the calendar – February 14 is also Ash Wednesday, the traditional start of Lent.  Easter or Resurrection Sunday is only six weeks away.   Lent is generally that season of the year when people have chosen to give up some favorite treat or vice. One man said his children traditionally gave up something like candy for Lent.

Last year, however, he urged them to go beyond that to giving up some habit or sin that they knew was bad for them. About halfway through Lent he asked the children how they were doing with their Lenten promise. His youngest son had promised to give up fighting with his brothers and sisters during Lent.
 

January 2018 Who We Are

 
Some of you will remember the “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip. In one strip, Calvin and Hobbes are talking about the New Year. Calvin says, “I’m getting disillusioned with these New Years. They don’t seem very new at all. Each New Year is just like the old year. Here another year has gone by and everything’s still the same. There’s still pollution and war and stupidity and greed. Things haven’t changed. I say what kind of future is this? I thought things were supposed to improve. I thought the future was supposed to be better.”
 

December 2017 Slow Down

I swore I would never do it. I had always said I would never go out shopping on “Black Friday” but Staples had a good deal on something at which I had been considering.  I thought, “Heh.  Join the rush.  Get in on the excitement. I’ll go, and I’ll go early.  After all, who’s going to be shopping at Staples. And so I went.  When I arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  It was as if everyone in town was there.  The lines were 25 deep and three registers were open. I said to myself, “This is crazy.”  And I walked out.  I traveled a little further down McGalliard, and cars went flying by me.  I could see them in the review mirror weaving in and out of traffic.

 

November 2017 Give Thanks

Psalms 106:1  “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.  His love endures forever.”  Psalm 100:1-5 “Make a joyful shout to the Lord all you lands.  Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before His presence with singing.  Know that the Lord, He is God.  It is He who has made us and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him and bless His name.”
 

October 2017 Go.

The sights and smells of the season:  burning leaves, damp woods, pumpkins in the field, cornfields ready for picking, the color of the leaves. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. It’s also a time for homecomings, celebrations, and so much more.  I hope that you take part in each of them as we celebrate homecoming and also our 175th anniversary as a congregation in Selma.

 

 June 2017 Don’t take Tomorrow for Granted

There is a silly story about two men sitting on a river bank. The night was still except the sound of a chorus of crickets. One of the men said, “Crickets sure do sing.” The other answered, “Yep, they sure do.” As he was saying this he heard the sounds of a church choir rehearsing nearby. “Sure is beautiful music, isn’t it?” he said. The first man, still thinking about the crickets replied, “And to think they do it by rubbing their legs together.”

 

 April 2017 Christ is Risen

Dr. John Trent in Christian Parenting Today tells about a wedding video he once saw. The video was shot from the back of the church looking up the aisle toward the bride and groom. Because of the camera angle, you could see several members of the congregation. Suddenly, during the vows, a man jumped up from his pew and yelled, “Yes, Yes, Yes!” as he pumped his fist. Then he froze and slid down into his seat–and sheepishly took off his headphones. It turned out he had been listening to the Auburn-Alabama football game, and his favorite team had just scored.

 

February 2017 Coming to the Rescue

My brothers … whom I love and long for, my joy and crown’ (Phil. 4:1)

Back in the days when Paul authored those words, the Greeks were sports mad.  In fact, things haven’t changed much.  Even as I write this, millions of avid sports fans are anticipating the upcoming Super Bowl where the Patriots and Falcons are gearing up for a Super Bowl ring.

 

January 2017 Personal Experience

It’s 2017!  Who would have thought?  As I think about another new year I think about those laudable New Year’s resolutions which we all make but by the second week of January have given up.  There is one resolution, however, that I pray we keep ever before us.  The Apostle Paul who was a very focused individual.  His goal was to keep “pressing on.”  (Philippians 3:12, 14)

December 2016 That first Christmas

That first Christmas was quite messy. A young girl becomes pregnant before the marriage is consummated.   Before the birth is approaching they are forced by an authority way beyond her control to travel to another town to register for a census and taxes.  Their trip takes them 80 miles on the back of a donkey. When they finally arrive, probably late at night, Mary already is in labor and they cannot find a place to stay except someone’s stable. Can you hear her crying out into the night? Can you hear her crying while all around her is the bustle of the town which is teeming with life and energy? Does she feel alone and isolated, abandoned and forgotten?

 

November 2016 Thanksgiving

What?  It’s almost Thanksgiving?!  Well, everyday ought to be a day of Thanksgiving, but yes, the DAY of Thanksgiving is a few weeks away.  It’ll be a time for families, for gathering, for eating, and for TURKEY.   And just think … if you burn your turkey there is still cause for thanksgiving.  According to Craig Boldman and Pete Matthews, authors of Every Excuse in the Book: 714 Ways to Say “It’s Not My Fault”, even if you burn the Thanksgiving turkey, there are several reasons to be thankful: