Pastor’s Message – August 16, 2022

Isaac & the Acorn

Years ago, I was on a long, morning walk with Isaac the dog when I noticed he was limping. I stopped, knelt down, and examined his paws. Finding no stickers or scrapes or cuts, I stood and told him to shake it off. He tried. But then he stopped again and lifted his front left paw off of the ground. He looked up and spoke with his eyes: ”The problem is this paw. Look again.”

So I held the paw and carefully looked between each toe. I spread the pads of his paws and scraped away the dirt. And there it was. Tucked into the crevices of his paw was an acorn.

I carefully removed the acorn and placed his paw back on the ground. He hesitantly put his weight back on it. Realizing all four feet were back in working order, he took off with tail wagging, dragging his surgeon behind him. I know that was his bow-wow way of saying, “Thanks.”

Isn’t it amazing how something so small can have such a big impact? Isaac’s whole body was affected by adjustments he was having to make from one, small, unnecessary thing.

James 3 is all about the power of our words. He reminds us that words can be like a rudder that “propels a ship” or a spark that “sets a forest ablaze.” Words can seem as small as acorns, but if we’re not careful with them, they can cause harm.

The good news is that our words can also be a great help! Acorns that are not stuck in a dog’s paw can be a great benefit in their proper place. So it is with our words. How will you steward your speech today? Will you build one another up and sing praise to our God with them?

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian (and Dog-tor Isaac)

Pastor’s Message – August 9, 2022

Monthly Days of Prayer

Ten years ago today (August 7), I began what has become a monthly practice of setting aside one day per month to devote to prayer. This day is separate from my weekly sabbath and takes place on a usual work day. It is not a vacation or an extra day off to get housework done or to work from home. It requires me to plan ahead since I step away from the office and routines of pastoral work to focus on spiritual work.

It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and repeating it monthly all these years is worth the effort. Their timing and structure has changed slightly over the years, but the purpose has remained the same: to pull aside with the Lord for one work day for the purpose of prayer for our church. There are some similarities to the monthly prayer days, but each one is also unique because the Holy Spirit leads a little differently each time.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places ~ Ephesians 6:12

We often hear the phrase that prayer is powerful, and how true this is. It’s powerful because, as Paul says in this verse from Ephesians, there is a spiritual battle in this world that we must fight on our knees.

When do you pray daily, monthly, and weekly?

What might you commit to adding to your prayer life?

And how might I pray for you?

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Message from Staff Parish Chair

Members of the FUMC West Point Congregation,

A few weeks ago, I spoke to the congregation during the Glory Sightings Moment. I took the time to highlight our wonderful group of youth and youth volunteers. Our youth are the future of not only our congregation, but also of our community, state, and world. Supporting our youth is vitally important to supporting our church.

As most of you know, we have been searching for a Director of Youth Ministries since the beginning of the year. Despite efforts by the committee members, no viable candidates have been identified. Throughout the history of the church, leaders have emerged from what seems like unlikely places. Think of Jesus’ Disciples and the early leaders of the church! As we talk with the youth and the parents, the perfect leader isn’t someone of a particular age or someone with a particular degree. Our youth need someone who has a strong love of Christ and someone willing to share that with them. They need someone to support them in their growth as young adults and young Christians. They need someone to plan activities and lessons to help them build on their faith and take it to others in the community.

As you pray for our youth and the search for a Director of Youth Ministries, I also ask that you go beyond asking for someone else to step up. Do you know of someone who loves the Lord and wants to share that excitement with our amazing youth? Are you that person who is willing to share your love and support? The Staff Parish Relations Committee is dedicated to this search, and we welcome all the prayers, suggestions, and leads. Our youth are worth all the efforts!

Laura Tinsley, Chairman SPRC

Pastor’s Message – July 26, 2022

Worship in August: The Return of Revival

For many years our congregation has observed a ‘camp meeting’ style of worship during the month of August with one worship service at 11am. We are so excited about the guest preachers, special music, and glorious moments that await us.

When we describe our worship services during camp meeting, it’s easy to reduce them to how we dress (we see a lot of blue jeans) and what we sing (pull out the old Cokesbury hymnal). However, historically the camp meeting was a time and place set aside for spiritual revival. Such revivals lasted for days, and the services went on for hours. John Wesley referred to such a revival as ‘personal holiness,’ when we invite God to send his Holy Spirit to awaken us from spiritual lethargy and fill us with fresh energy from on high. With our hearts rekindled for Jesus, our first love, we can’t help but love our neighbor a little better, too.

Would you join me in this old and beautiful prayer as we pray for our church to experience a return of revival? If you know the tune, I hope you’ll sing it:

Revive us again; fill each heart with Thy love
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Revive us again.

Here are some details of what to anticipate. Be sure to check out the inside of the newsletter for more information on the music! We look forward to worshiping with you and hope you will bring a friend to this year‘s revival.

August 7: Holy Communion and Blessing of the Backpacks

August 14: Promotion Sunday and Presentation of Bibles to 3rd Graders

August 21: Dr. Bob Rambo, preaching

August 28: Guest preacher to be announced

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – July 19, 2022

Enjoying the Present, Anticipating the Future

Many of us are still celebrating the summer season with vacations, sleeping late, and as the kids frequently remind us on Sunday mornings, lots of swimming and sno-cones. I have especially loved returning to day trips on my day off to meet out-of-town friends for a meal. Summertime can especially be good for the soul!

We’ve had some wonderful opportunities as a congregation, as well, to experience God’s presence this summer. We’ve had Vacation Bible School, Sunday School at Dugan Nursing Home, chancel choir, children learning & leading a worship song, to name a few.

While we enjoy the present season, we also anticipate the next season. As this year moves forward, ways to become involved in & make a difference in the life of the congregation will only increase. I invite you to be in prayer before the Lord about where He wants for you to be involved. We will begin the process of nominating church leaders for 2023. A new children’s Sunday school schedule will be assembled. The youth group will need adult volunteers for their weekly gatherings. We will resume having a monthly, churchwide family meal beginning in August (schedule coming soon!).

Of course, none of this possible without you. (Stop and read that last sentence again) We need your teaching gifts, cooking gifts, singing gifts, ordering gifts… And each of us has those gifts to offer!

Where do you feel God calling you to serve in our congregation?

I look forward to hearing your answers in the months ahead. There is no better time to be a part of First UMC in West Point than now—and tomorrow, too!

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – July 12, 2022

Why We Call Ourselves ‘Methodist’

Over the past month, Ralph Weems and I have spoken with many of you about happenings in our United Methodist denomination at June’s Wednesday Night Supper and in Sunday school classes. Thank you for all of your good questions and your listening ears. If you weren’t able to attend any of these conversations and have some questions, please reach out to me, and we can fill you in.

This week is the 2022 Session of the Mississippi Annual Conference in Tupelo. Ralph and I will attend as your representatives, and we look forward to sharing with you what we learn. This will be Bishop Swanson’s last year to preside at our Annual Conference. While he still plans to retire, he has agreed to remain as our bishop in Mississippi through the end of December. In November, elections for new bishops will take place. Bishop Swanson agreed to stay a bit longer than he originally planned to ensure a smooth transition for our next bishop at the start of 2023. Please keep Bishop & Mrs. Swanson in your prayers as they continue to lead us. This is about the 3rd time he has delayed

When brothers John and Charles Wesley began meeting in small groups for further study and prayer with theology students, people called them, “Methodist,” as a term of derision. People made fun of all their ‘methods’ in their small gatherings. But with time, and the realization of how powerful these small groups were, the term transformed into a good one, admired and respected.

Yes, we have a lot of ‘methods,’ especially when it comes to the business of our Church at Annual Conference. But isn’t it comforting and encouraging to know that the Holy Spirit moves and transforms our methods into something even better when we ask Him to do so? Let us pray together that all our methods will be used for God’s glory.

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – June 28, 2022

The Origin of “All Good Things”

Those who are taught the Word should share all good things with their teacher.
— Galatians 6:6 (Common English Bible)

Some of you may have noticed that I always sign anything requiring a signature with the phrase, “all good things.” I can’t remember if I’ve shared the origin story of that closing blessing and thought now would be a good time to do so.

In August of 2011, I attended a weeklong workshop at the Collegeville Institute in Minnesota entitled, “Writing and the Pastoral Life.” Shortly after returning home, I kept gushing about my experiences. Have you ever traveled somewhere that had such beautiful sights and memorable moments that you struggled to describe them to people who weren’t there?

That’s how I felt when I tried to write about my time at the institute. The phrase that kept coming to me was “all good stuff.” Then one week I read the above verse from Galatians and the phrase, “all good things,” shined from the page.

I had spent a week sharing all good things with fellow teachers and preachers of the Word. We had taught one another, and “all good stuff” became “all good things.” There is so much in life that we can call “good.” For all that stuff and those things, we thank the Source of goodness.

The origin of “all good things” is not only one verse of Scripture. It’s not one workshop in Minnesota. The origin of all good things is the One who declared this world, “good,” with the words of creation. No matter how evil or tumultuous our world may seem at times, let us remember that God is good. God loves us. God created us to do good and to love each other.

And that is why, every chance I get, I wish all good things to each of you.
Dr. Darian

Lectionary for Sunday, July 3, 2022
2 Kings 5:1-14
Psalm 30
Galatians 6:1-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Pastor’s Message – June 21, 2022

What’s Bringing Us Joy in June

Every month I like to take a moment and share what I’ve been reading, watching, or listening to that has brought me joy over the past month. The hope is that in sharing what has lifted my spirit, you will take time to ask God what has lifted your spirit as well.

Hope Always: How to Be a Force for Life in A Culture of Suicide by Matthew Sleeth, M.D. (book): You’ve heard me share a powerful quotation from Hope Always the past two Sundays, but what I did not share is that it is about suicide. I’ve been slowly reading this powerful book in the morning alongside the Scriptures. Though the subject matter is heavy, the insights are worth it. This is not only a wonderful resource for people touched by suicide but also for grief, mental health, and the role of the Church in this crisis.

Val (documentary): Raise your hand if you have seen Top Gun: Maverick? I haven’t yet but hope to carve out the time soon to do so! What I did take the time to watch is a documentary about one of the original Top Gun stars, Val Kilmer. It’s mostly composed of his own videos from a huge library spanning decades, and it reminded me of how complex people can be. Kilmer has had some serious health issues in recent years, and how he handles them with gratitude is very inspiring.

The Hymn of Heaven Tour with Phil Wickham and Josh Baldwin (music): A year ago I shared how much I loved worship leader’s Phil Wickham’s latest studio album, Hymn of Heaven. I knew then that if he went on tour and came to a nearby city, I would go. Not only did he come to Memphis a couple of weeks ago, but on tour with him was another worship leader, Josh Baldwin, whose music also ministers to me. I am still smiling from this worship night that was far more than a concert and listening to the songs once again on repeat.

I’d love to hear what’s bring you joy this month and all year long!

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Lectionary Texts for Sunday, June 26, 2022
2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Luke 9:51-62

Pastor’s Message – June 14, 2022

Called, Chosen, and Set Apart

One of my favorite books on pastoring is This Odd and Wondrous Calling by Lillian Daniel and Martin Copenhaver. What makes the book so lovable and relatable is that both authors are pastors who don’t dole out advice or offer 5-point plans for success. Instead, they are story tellers trying to give words to a vocation that deals with life’s greatest mysteries.

Twelve years ago today (June 13, 2010) was a significant day in my own ‘odd and wondrous calling’ as I was ordained an elder in The United Methodist Church. For 15 years I’ve worked in the local church, and I’m still learning how to tell the glorious story of what pastoring is, for it is rich and beautiful but also hard to describe sometimes.

I’m delighted to walk alongside all of you as I begin my seventh year as your pastor this month. Let us keep in our prayers our brothers and sisters throughout Mississippi Methodism who are experiencing changes in leadership. Next month, Ralph Weems and I will attend the Mississippi Annual Conference as your representatives, July 13-15. We welcome your prayers for the Annual Conference as well as our whole United Methodist denomination. Ralph and I are currently visiting Sunday school classes to share information about current events in the Church, and we will also share at the Wednesday Night Supper this week. Please don’t hesitate to contact either of us with questions.

Let us remember this week that we are all called as the Church to live as a set apart and holy people who fear the Lord and uphold one another in the faith. As 1 Peter 2:9 reminds us, “9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

all good things to each of you,

Dr. Darian

Lectionary Texts for Sunday, June 19, 2022
1 Kings 19:1-15a
Psalm 42
Galatians 3:23-29
Luke 8:26-39

Pastor’s Message – June 7, 2022

                                                                                                        Quilting Our Prayers: Practices & Patterns

Two of my great-grandmothers loved to quilt, and while I’ve never taken up the craft, their work has taken care of me over the years. For as far back as I can remember, a quilt with a butterfly pattern that one great-grandmother made for me has been in my room or on my bed. Each square is unique with its patterns and colors, but the basic butterfly pattern is the same.

The other quilt, made by a great-grandmother I never knew, was an unusual bear-claw pattern, and each square was made from my mom’s and aunt’s childhood clothes. Up until ten years ago, it was simply a ‘quilt top.’ We needed to add padding and have it stitched appropriately to become a ‘real quilt.’ It is one of my favorite things to show people when they come to the house!

I don’t know a lot about quilting, but I do know it is an art that requires practice and patterns. I also know that great beauty emerges from those times spent in detail with each square. The same is true for our prayer lives. The ways we can pray are numerous and creative, and the Scripture is full of patterns that we can follow. The Holy Spirit brings the vibrant colors to our lives.

For the months of June and July, in worship we will be talking about our prayer patterns and practices, growing spiritually in how we talk with God and intercede for the world’s needs. When we bring each of our ‘squares’ of prayer to God’s house, what a beautiful piece emerges! I look forward to worshipping with you this summer.

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

Lectionary Texts for Trinity Sunday, June 12, 2022
Proverbs 8:1-4
Psalm 8
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15