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Pastor's Blog

November 2015

November 2015

Dear Christ UMC,

As I have been out and about in the stores shopping, I have seen in recent years the push for earlier and earlier Christmas shopping. I know at one store during the month of September, Christmas items were already on display. I even think they had the Christmas displays on the TV home shopping stations in September as well, maybe even in August or July! There is nothing necessarily wrong with preparing well in advance, I just think that because of it, Thanksgiving seems to get overlooked. It seems to me that our world goes from Halloween (or the 4th of July) straight to Christmas. The thought seems to be, “and oh by the way, then there is Thanksgiving,” if mentioned at all. So as people of God, let us do everything we can to promote this wonderful day in which our nation has set aside to give thanks to God for all of His abundant blessings given to us!

One way of giving thanks to God is to make sure that we are the best stewards that we can be in terms of all the blessings we have been given personally and in our church life. This includes being good stewards of our time, talents, treasures, gifts and service. This also means making sure that we are sharing our faith with others and telling them about how good God has been to us. This also means that we use our time, talents, treasure and resources for building relationships with others and especially new people. This also means that we evangelize and do all we can to tell them about Jesus and lead people to Him.

We evangelize so that we can make and mature disciples for Him for the transformation of the world. For some the word “evangelize” has negative connotations because of various reasons but we need to get past that and learn to embrace that word again. It is one of the keys to not only making disciples for Jesus but also for growing our churches as well. If we are not growing, the question for each of us is, "When was the last time you witnessed and told someone about Jesus?" Other questions are as follows: "When was the last time you invited someone to church?" "When was the last time you went to pick up the person(s) you invited and brought them yourself to church?" We will be sharing more information about these things later.

I hope you all come out each Sunday of course but especially our Stewardship Thanks-Giving NOW! Sunday on November the 15th. We also look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving Sunday which is November 22nd with Juan Ramirez and the congregation of First Hispanic UMC during our 11:00 a.m. service, with a meal to follow. Don’t forget about our Charge Conference this year at the Cleveland Convention Center on Saturday, November 7th from 9:30 to 11:30. All are invited!!!!! In addition to the business we have to do, there will be a special national guest speaker to talk to us about church growth and putting plans in place, etc…. May God bless you all and I hope that you have a great Thanksgiving! Please remember to call, visit or send a card to our shut-ins (See the church office manager for a list). Peace!

Be Encouraged In Jesus!!
Pastor Darlene

September 2015

September 2015

Dear Christ Family,

The reality that summer is almost over is slowly but surely being realized. I already see a
few leaves turning brown and falling off of trees. I think for me this has been one of the
shortest summers ever. Meteorologist are already saying things like, “We will experience falllike temperatures in the 50’s. Better take a jacket.” Most of the children went back to school in August. Some even went back as early as July. I understand that they are a part of a year round school program. My youngest child just graduated from high school in May and has also started college. Yahoo!!! Praise the Lord! I have said all of this to say, “Welcome Back to Church!!!!!!!!” (or welcome back to all of our activities, programs and ministries that had taken a break for the summer).

We should all be looking forward to the wonderful ways that we will encounter and
connect with God this coming church year. If we would continue to pray, believe, trust, serve,worship, study his Word and depend upon him we will connect with him in ways that will strengthen not only our faith but our church as well. We will then become a “disciple making and maturing machine” and a place for people to come to realize that hope is available for them and their families!

As we continue to plan for the future, we will continue with our vision and planning
meetings and move forward as we read the book entitled, Get Their Name: Grow your Church by Building New Relationships by Bob Farr, Doug Anderson and Kay Kotan. If you need a copy, please call the office. Some of us are scheduled to attend a workshop based upon the book and will be led by one of the authors, Kay Kotan. I am looking forward to bringing back what we will learn and how it is that we can implement some of the strategies that the book talks about that will help us to reach out and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ!

Well, get ready all for Fall!! Let’s all get on one accord and trust God and know and
believe that He is able to continue to bless us and keep us and help us do some wonderful ministry in this place and outside of this place all in the matchless name of Jesus Christ! Souls need to be saved, our faith needs to be shared, people need to be fed both physically and spiritually and we are the ones that God has chosen to use for such a time as this. It is time for some of us to get out of our comfort zones and be in and do ministry here inside the building, outside the building, in the neighborhood of the church, in your neighborhood where you live and/or wherever God has called you to go, be or do.

Also, thank all of you for your time, energy, finances and prayers. Keep up the good
work because God is counting on all of us to be his hands, feet and heart in this world!
Blessings to you all!

We are moving forward in faith!
Pastor Darlene

July/August 2015

July/August 2015

Dear Christ Family,

I must begin this letter with a reminder for all of us to keep in our prayers the families of
the 9 African-American victims who were killed and the one that was wounded in June at their Wednesday evening bible study in Charleston, South Carolina. We now know that they were killed by a young male who admitted that he went there in their church to kill them because of their race. How very, very, very tragic, sad and extremely disturbing that still in the year 2015 racism rears its ugly head! It is always discouraging when racism shows up at all but especially in a situation that ends with deadly force and lives lost.

May God bring comfort to all but especially the families and friends of the 9 whose lives
were so brutally taken away from this world. We should also, although I know for some it is hard to do, pray for the young male who committed the crime. Some of the family members of the victims have already exercised their Christian principles by extending forgiveness to him.

Wow….. how awesome is that! Let’s pray for his salvation first of all and then for him to b
delivered from the sin of hatred and racism and others like him also.

Well, our 2015 East Ohio Annual Conference has come and gone. Please go to the website and click-on the 2015 Annual Conference website if you would like to see some of what happened in June. You may want to watch the Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning worship services in particular that have Bishop Jonathan Holston from the South Carolina Conference as the guest speaker. He is a powerful preacher and had most of us laughing hysterically with his stories! I think you will enjoy him as well.

On Wednesday, we were blessed to go through a church growth training lead by Rev. Dr.
Jim Ozier who is the Director of New Church Development and Congregational Transformation for the North Texas Conference. He is responsible for starting new churches in the fastgrowing Metroplex area and throughout North Texas. He shared with us a few steps from his book entitled, Risking Hospitality In Your Church. I even got an autographed copy, Yea! His talk focused on the 3 R’s of Reaching new people, ways to have them or what to do when they Return and asking people what would they Recommend about your church. I also hope that you would watch the Thursday morning worship service with the now retired Rev. Dr. Charles Yoost from Church of the Saviour UMC in Cleveland Heights, Ohio speaking. He gave an awesome message that all of our churches need to hear and adhere to. Thanks to Ruby Cunningham and Gerald and Dee Dee Rencehausen for being there as well!

Well, enjoy the rest of your summer. Please don’t forget about our sick and shut-ins. Also,
since summer is upon us and many of you will be traveling, please don’t forget about our
church with you presence, tithes and/or offerings. Bills still have to be paid, etc…etc….etc…. and, numbers still have to be reported to the conference. Yet, we know that the most important thing to do besides the number counting is making and maturing disciples for Jesus Christ. So make sure that you are sharing your faith and telling others about Jesus and inviting/bringing them to church. Also, come on out for our Vacation Bible School on Thursdays in July. Classes for children, youth and adults are available.

May God bless you all! Be safe and may God grant all of us who will be traveling, traveling mercies. Oh yea, and I finally have another vehicle!

Be Encouraged in Christ,
Pastor Darlene

May 2015

May 2015

Dear Christ Family,

While driving back home from Virginia in April, we traveled on the Pennsylvania turnpike. The Pennsylvania turnpike is one that, to me, is a mixed blessing. It is a beautiful drive during the day when you get to see the mountains and how wonderful and majestic they are. It can also be looked at as a scary drive because at some points of the turnpike, if you look over the guardrails, you will see that it is a long way down to the bottom. So, of course the prayer is, “Jesus take the wheel and don’t let me get into any kind of accident and go over these guard rails (which I think should somehow be better than the ones there or somehow improved).” This mixed blessing reminded me of the following scripture from Deuteronomy 30:19-20a “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life…..”

As I was driving, I decided that it was best to choose the blessing of enjoying the beautiful scenery that God created instead of being fearful and thinking about the scariness of the turnpike. In life we all have to make choices. It is my hope and prayer that you would choose those things that promote life instead of death and choose those things in life that promote blessings instead of cursing. Choose courage over fear. Choose love over hate.

Choose to not complain over complaining. Choose not to gossip over gossiping. Choose compassion over non-compassion. Choose to speak life into people with kind, encouraging and supportive words instead of cursing and belittling them. Choose to speak positive words about and to yourself instead of guilt-ridden condemning statements. Choose to speak words that will build up your church and the Kingdom of God instead of words that will help to tear it down and destroy it. Choose Jesus over the world. He is our life!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of our moms! Let us also look forward to celebrating Pentecost Sunday, which is the day we set aside to recognize the birthday of the Church universal!! Let us also take time to remember all of our deceased loved ones, however, especially those who lost their lives in the military as we approach the Memorial Day weekend. May God bless you all and remember to choose life!!

Be Encouraged In Jesus!!
Pastor Darlene

April 2015

April 2015

We have finally reached our destination as we have been on a Journey to the Cross this Lenten season. Easter is Sunday, April 5!!! Resurrection Sunday is a great time to celebrate and worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s victory over death, hell, defeat and all the destructive forces of evil. What a mighty God we serve!

There was a story on the news recently about a police officer and a little boy named “Ray-Ray”. The story is told and we were able to see it unfold because of the new police cameras that some officers have to wear now. The police officer was called to a home that was on fire. As the officer enters the home, there is an older woman who was trying to go back and get her grandson. The officer would not let her go back in but instead goes in himself to find the child, without any protective equipment and not waiting for the fire truck. The camera shows us his frantic search for the child. We hear him coughing as he tries to find the child in the smoke filled house. We hear the stress in his voice because he CANNOT find this precious child of God. He even uses some of the clothing he finds in one of the bedrooms to cover his mouth and nose so that he can continue to search for the child. However, praise God, he finally found the little boy in another room in the house and they both were able to get out alive!

This is a type of Christ experience that we can celebrate! Just like this police officer was the rescuer of the little boy, so is Jesus our Rescuer in life. Through his work on the cross he has rescued us from the penalty of unforgiven sin in our lives. He has rescued us from the smoke filled destructive forces of our lives. He has given us the victory over sickness, depression, low self -esteem, the “woulda, shoulda, coulda's” of life, the "good things will never happen to me" thinking or the "I’m too old to do this or that" thinking, even though God has called us to do it.

Jesus can rescue us from remaining in severe situations of grief too long where one has been somewhat paralyzed to the point of not being able to function. This grief can be from the death of a loved one, the death of a relationship like divorce, or from a boyfriend or girlfriend or other friendship. Jesus is our Rescuer! Let us celebrate this Easter His victory which ultimately is our victory in life through Him! I encourage you to let Him rescue you from whatever situation you need to be rescued. Happy Easter to all!

Be Encouraged In Jesus!!
Pastor Darlene

September 2016

Well, I don't know about you but it seems like another summer has flown by EXTREMELY fast!  We have "sweated it out" over these past summer weeks since Christ UMC and Simpson UMC do not have air conditioning. So in some ways it is good that we will soon be moving into the fall season where the cooler weather will prevail.  So see you later summer until next year, Lord willing!  We say hello to September and look forward with great anticipation our return to ministries that have taken a break over the summer. 

I recently bought at a very deep, deep discounted price an electronic device called a TrackR Bravo.  The TrackR Bravo is a round device a little bigger and thicker than a quarter.  It is designed to help you find misplaced or lost items that are attached or connected to the TrackR Bravo.  For example, if you put it on your key chain you can locate misplaced or lost keys with an app that has been put on your phone.  You can find a misplaced or lost phone for the most part by pressing a little button on the TrackR Bravo on your key chain.  Once you press the button, your phone will ring and therefore the idea is that you will hear it ringing and consequently your phone will be found.

Overall, it works okay and I don't want to give it a bad report since I only really know how to work it a little bit.  However, there are a few downsides that I have found.  One is that the battery in the TrackR Bravo could die and since there is no power, you can't find your phone.  Another downside is that you can't find your phone or keys if they are misplaced, lost or stolen together (unless there is a way to track it on a computer and I haven't investigated that yet). Well, you know, God is like a TrackR Bravo but only much better and without the downsides.  He knows exactly where we are in life physically, mentally and spiritually.  He locates the lost and extends his love to the lost by "wooing" them as John Wesley so aptly put it, to come to Him.  He also uses all of us, as Christians, to help reach out to the lost and hurting.

We can reach out to the lost by sharing our testimonies and our faith by telling them about Jesus, as well as, doing the best we can to lend a helping hand.  Jesus is the best TrackR Bravo of all but He also needs us to be His hands and feet in this world.  Romans 10:14-17 from the Message bible reads like this, "But how can people call for help, if they don't know who to trust?  And how can they know who to trust, if they haven't heard of the One who can be trusted?  And how can they hear, if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?"

We have been called and sent for such a time as this.  As we move forward together let us remember our mandate in every aspect of everything we do here at the church and in our lives.  Our mandate is from Matthew 28:18-20, which says this, "Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  So let's do our very best to go, make, help mature and baptize disciples for Jesus Christ!  We are sent into the world filled with the fire of God! 

Be Encouraged in Jesus!!

Pastor Darlene Robinson

February 2015

February 2015

Dear Christ Family,

I have been having major car issues as many of you already know. I did get a replacement vehicle for my van(s) but it also has had many problems. It recently stopped on me again while driving. Ughh!!! It is fixed again and hopefully this will take care of the problem. Well, anyway the story I want to share is not necessarily about my car situation but about some of the events that transpired during my 3 hour wait for a tow truck to come! I was on a side street that crossed 130th Street.

During my wait time there were quite a few people that just didn’t drive around me after realizing that my car was disabled, but they stopped to ask if they could be of some help. A couple of times I wanted to say, “Yes, you can help by buying me a new car!”, but of course I didn’t. I don’t know if quite a few stopped because it was daytime (between about 2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. ) and/or because I was female. Either way, I was and still am very grateful!

There were at least two men that actually didn’t first ask if I needed help, they stopped, parked and then came over and asked what was wrong with my car. Both unfortunately couldn’t get the car started but they tried. One man’s name was Jeff and the other was Luis. Jeff actually pushed my car back out of the street as much as he could. I was hoping he didn’t hurt himself. Luis was quite tickled, surprised and seemed pleased to find out that I was a pastor. I gave him one of my business cards and invited him to church. I hope he comes one of these days! It will make my 3 hour wait worth it. Did I mention I had to wait 3 hours! There is more to my 3 hour wait story but I’ll share that later.

June 2017

Dear Christ UMC Familiy,

My last letter to you. Wow! I really can't believe that our time together as pastor and congregations will be coming to an end so soon. I really had thought that I would be here longer than just 4 years. Well, once again, welcome to the United Methodist Church pastoral appointment system. It has some good and not so good qualities about it. Anyway, there are so many thoughts running through my mind in terms of all the things I should say and want to say and what I need to say but may forget to say. I had plans for so many other things that we can do in terms of ministry together and making and maturing disciples for Jesus Christ.

Many of you know that we had plans in the works, etc... and things that we needed to complete. Oh well, enough of that. What is done is done and it just is what it is. However, our "just is what it is" is covered in the sovereignty of God, He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version) "'For I know the plans I have for you' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" These plans for a future and a hope that He has is for all of us. This includes you, me, your new pastor, Rev. Dianne Covault and the church where she is currently serving, as well as, the church that I will be going to and also their pastor that I will be following and the new churches that he will be serving!

I guess I will just end with saying thank you! First of all thanks be unto God for His awesome blessings bestowed upon Christ and Simpson United Methodist Churches! Thanks be unto God for allowing me the awesome honor and privilege of being allowed to serve as your pastor. Thanks to all of you for your help, assistance, patience, grace, love, gifts, support, forgiveness for any mistakes that I made knowingly or unknowingly and so much more throughout these past four years with me and my family. Thanks for your unending service to the Lord. So thank you, all of you for whatever you have done to move the ministry forward and build up the Kingdom of God!

I leave with you a few thoughts. One is from John Wesley and his thoughts on Methodism. He stated the following: “Thoughts Upon Methodism” : "I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out."

The other thought comes from the Breakthrough Prayer Initiative series that I am concluding our time together with on Sunday mornings. The series is based up the book, “Flood Gate: Holy Momentum For a Fearless Church” By Sue Nilson Kibbey and forwarded by our own Bishop Gregory Palmer. The Breakthrough Prayer is used to open the flood gates of powerful, spirit-driven movement by training and leading the congregation to pray together via a simple style that requests God to open up new possibilities.

"This ignites unprecedented and miraculous impact. Breakthrough prayer is asking God to do new works. New miracles we cannot do ourselves, without limits. It does not replace any other forms of prayer. It is additive. And yes, there are results. Sue Kibbey basically states that she has "…celebrated as incredible creativity and prayer passion have risen up. Enthusiasm and faith have surged forward. Hearts have been changed, willingness to dream again renewed!”

I implore you, please don't become a dead sect like John Wesley wrote above. Please don't give up in believing in new miracles and about what God can or cannot do. I implore you to stay open and/or move toward staying open in Holy Spirit Power! Please be willing to dream again and keep your faith renewed as to what God can do with your own life, as well as, the life of the church! Remember our mandate from Matthew 28: 19-20, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Please don't forget about our sick and shut-ins! Love you! I will miss you greatly and you will always be in my prayers!

Be Encouraged in Jesus!

Forgive, Live, Love, Laugh and Prayer! Pastor Darlene and family Dasan, David, Little Dennis and Mother Emma Robinson

November 2014

I know that I keep saying that this year is flying by and I will say it again! It is already November!! I am still waiting to enjoy my summer. LOL!!! Oh well…..anyway, this is truly a time to give thanks. Thanks to God for allowing many of us to see this time of the year once again. We have so much to be thankful for even if we haven’t had the best year so far. This is a time to count our blessings. We have had a very full year of ministry, activity and great blessings from the Lord. We look forward to more of what God has in store for us during the remainder of this year and well into the future. So Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Please enjoy this poem:

Lord, We Are Grateful
Lord, we are grateful for all You've given;
shelter and clothing, good food and health. All these are gifts we rarely do treasure.
We are most wealthy, thanks to Yourself.

Lord, we are grateful for those who love us;
those we call family, those who are friends. Loved, we can face the pressures life sends us. Through those we cherish, Your love descends.
Lord, we are grateful for Your creation;
trees in fall splendor, dark stormy skies. Nature reminds us of Your strong power.
Majestic beauty dazzles ours eyes.

Lord, we are grateful for Your rich mercy,
fresh as the morning, new every day. Sin is forgiven. Guilt has been buried.
Gone is the debt we never could pay.

Lord, we are grateful that we can worship,
often and freely here in this place. Harvest our praises, hear our thanksgiving
as we reflect on Your awesome grace. Copyright 2003 by Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos

Have a blessed and great November in the Lord!!!

Be Encouraged In Jesus!!

September 2014

Dear Christ UMC Family,

“What’s going on? Somebody tell me …what’s going on?” These are a few lyrics from a song appropriately titled, “What’s Going On?" I believe that this is a question that is also being asked at Christ United Methodist Church. Well, I guess a basic one word answer is this: Change. Yes, the word change!

For some, the word “change” evokes the most negative of emotions. For others the word change evokes just the opposite. It is looked upon as an opportunity for growth, transformation and excitement! I am not sure which side you favor but either way change can be difficult, challenging, disruptive and stressful.

Change has obviously occurred at Christ. About a year ago, Christ was given a new pastor and now this September we should have a new choir director since Matt relocated to another state.

I must caution you about the trap of destruction and divisiveness that the enemy of our souls, the devil, will try to put in our way during this and other times of change. We can fall into this trap by only focusing on the negative aspect of change. We can also fall into this trap and help to cause the downfall of our church by sharing in malicious gossip and other forms of unhealthy and ungodly communication. We have to learn to be patient during times of change.