Greetings to our SUMC Family & Friends – Beloved Children of God,

I normally love the holiday season, it is that time of year when people seem to be a bit kinder, when people begin to focus on what the important things are in life. I love that time of year because it seems to be a time that brings even the part-time Christian back into the fold and open the opportunity to meet Jesus once again as an innocent baby born in obscurity-but a meeting that just by chance might spur a renewed relationship. Yes, I usually love the holiday season—but this past one was so much different.

That Sunday morning a few weeks before Christmas as I awoke preparing to head to church early as I do most every Sunday, I knew something was amiss. Monday afternoon when the severe pain hit in my lower back it just confirmed that indeed I needed to get this checked out. Off to the emergency room in Sedona, a routine CT Scan to see if I had a kidney stone. I knew in the voice of my doctor (talking out in the hallways) while not being able to make out the exact words of the doctor, the spirit in the delivery of those words he shared with the nurses gave me reason for pause.

Yes, as suspected I had a kidney stone and we can treat that—But the scan also showed a mass, in fact two masses, one on each kidney. Maybe it was just me, but the words I was hearing seemed to be more of a terminal message than the opportunity for healing. What made things worse was that I had just finished reading a book someone had given me entitled “23 Minutes in Hell”, a book I must say scared the “Hell” right out of me. Right then and there, I threw myself at the feet of my savior pledging to never let an opportunity pass to share the good news we have in relationship with Jesus Christ. I knew that a life that promised “everlasting” was something everyone needed to know about.

I began to read everything I could find on heaven, life everlasting, resurrection, and the hope that could be found through relationship with Jesus Christ. I began to trust anew, and my attitude quickly turned from dread to hope. It was truly amazing how things began to fall into place, appointments usually taking weeks to secure scheduled within days which provide a very different outlook, one of healing and hope. Worries began to melt away replaced instead with an amazing feeling of knowing all was in God’s hands and no matter what the outcome God had this. Reassurance from Dr. Rick, my surgeon, and oncologist. What I had was treatable and it was highly likely I might even see complete healing.

Times like these, at least for me, serve as times of deep reflection—and I have had much time in communion with God to reflect in recent months. You know I am a very sentimental and spiritual person. I deeply care for people—ALL people and I often times reflect on the state of our communities and most assuredly the soul of our great nation. I am so often saddened to hear voices offering words of unity and hope and love only to see “actions” that display disunity, dread, and outright hatred for those who do not think, act, or believe alike. This is affecting not just strangers but friends and even family members. Conflict affecting long-term relationships, people of all ages (especially the young), groups of all kinds including people of faith.

The enemy is a great-divider—The enemy uses every tool and weapon at his disposal. Our foundation (our defense) as people of faith is God’s Word, especially the gospel of Jesus Christ! The greatest battle in the history of this world is being waged against “The Word of God”. It’s been watered down, abused, manipulated and changed. With so much stacked against us today, we often lose sight and have trouble believing it means today what it meant when God originally inspired it. So many have trouble, either consciously or not, believing that the shed blood of a savior named Jesus 2000 years ago is still relevant for us today.

But what if it is still true—every word? What if it is just as relevant today as it was the day Jesus overcame the tomb and rose again. What does it mean for us. What does it require of us? What difference can it make in our world today? These are BIG questions—deep questions—important questions, but questions I believe we need to ponder anew. Jesus called believers “Salt”, “Light”, and the “Hope” of this world—But are we? Can we? Will we?

I want to invite you to journey with me as we enter our summer season in the church to embark on a journey in which we ponder the question—“What If It Is True”. What if every single word of this story (God’s Word) is absolutely true and I can trust it? What if the King of the universe is calling directly to me through the inspired words of—His words? And if it is true for me, how should I respond?

I invite you—I implore you— to join in this journey beginning June 6th as we follow the life and ministries, the teachings and the miracles, the compassion and the grace of Jesus Christ that can and will serve as the healing balm for our wounded and wandering hearts.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Fred