Twin flames past editions

TWIN FLAMES ALL EDITIONS
Who is Your Conductor Today? by Sebastian

As a conductor I’m often preparing and studying scores in my free time (although, I must confess that my brain is automatically ‘studying’ all day) and as I’ve dived deeper into analyzing, deconstructing, and understanding the compositional elements that made masterpieces so effective at communicating, I realize how powerful music is… and how lucky we are to be surrounded by it every day.

THE ORIGIN OF MUSIC

Thomas Fretwell, Christian author, tell us how the Bible has registry of music existing even before the creation of the world. Music comes from God; it was heard when the foundations of the earth were laid and “the morning stars sang together” (Job 38:7). The throne room of God is full of angelic choirs and the sounds of songs from the heavenly hosts (Revelation 14:2-3). Just as the angelic hosts sang when Christ was born, we too are exhorted to “sing for joy to the Lord” (Psalm 95:1) and “to make music from your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). Music is a gift from God, one that is an overflow of His nature, and a beautiful way for us to praise Him. It testifies to the fact that God is Himself beautiful. Musical instruments and songs feature heavily throughout the pages of Scripture in conjunction with the worship of God.

This explains why Christianity has given rise to such an amazing array of musical creativity throughout history. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than with the classical composers of the Baroque period (1600-1750). This period gave rise to new styles such as the oratorio, the concerto, and the sonata. Composers such as Bach, Handel and Vivaldi gave us some of the most beautiful music the world has ever heard. People have often made the connection between classical music and the spiritual, which is not surprising given the ecclesiastical origins of such music. There is an old saying, reportedly from the outside of a German opera house:

"Bach gave us God’s Word; Mozart gave us God’s laughter; Beethoven gave us God’s fire. God gave us music that we might pray without words."

Whose spirit cannot be stirred by listening to J.S. Bach’s "Passion of St. Matthew," as he skillfully uses music to take the listener on an emotional journey through the Gospel story. There is a reason why Classic FM lists this as the number one piece that will change your life. Or what about the great "Hallelujah Chorus" of Handel’s "Messiah Oratorio," that once brought a king to his feet and still captivates audiences 250 years after his death. Or Mozart’s "Requiem," written on his deathbed, a composition with such intensity that it seems to transport the listener to the impending death of its author.

THE CHIEF MUSICIAN

Until just this past September 2019, the world record for the largest orchestra was 8,076 musicians, achieved by Christian Television System and Music Home Orchestra, at Gocheok Skydome, Seoul, South Korea, on December 16, 2017.10 No matter how large the orchestra, it still needs a conductor to direct the music. It is the conductor’s job to bring to life the composer’s vision. Without him, there is no harmony to the music.

Life can be a little like this. Often, we like to be our own conductors, yet this path often leads to chaos, not harmony. King David repeatedly addressed his Psalms to the chief musician. A prophetic picture of Jesus Christ who is the chief conductor, orchestrating the countless members of the body of Christ around the world into a beautiful harmony as He brings to life the Father's will on earth.

Who is your conductor today?

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Family Ministry Fun by Erin

Normally at this time of year, I would be sharing with you about what our church’s youth and children did to celebrate Halloween, gearing up for our Fall Retreat at Camp Indianola, and advertising for our annual Turkey Bowl football game. But as we all are aware and experiencing, we’re still not yet back to “normal times”.

Even with the restrictions we follow to keep us safe, our children and youth ministries are carrying on as best we can in this abnormal season of ministry. At the end of October, Family Ministries hosted a Family Night Out at Whidbey Farm & Market (on Monroe Landing, across from the Blue Fox Drive-In). The families that joined us enjoyed roasting hot dogs and s’mores over the fire pit, exploring the market store, climbing the hay pyramid, and finding their way through the corn maze in the dark. We have not yet been ready to resume our full Wednesday night programming, but the Youth Group is regularly meeting in the Youth Room on Wednesdays from 6:30-8:00 for games, conversation, and Bible study.

While we don’t have as busy an event calendar as we have in the past for this time of year, we are still looking forward to a few events as we approach the holiday season. On December 5, the second Sunday of Advent, Family Ministries will host our annual Adventure to Christmas. This is a gathering for all ages, and will take place in Centennial Hall immediately following a shortened worship service. We will have several different stations offering crafts and activities for people to engage with and enjoy.

Our staff and leaders are planning a variety of events leading up to Christmas this year, so look for more information coming soon through the Sunday announcements and Thursday email.

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An Update from our Treasurer

As we prepare for our annual Stewardship Drive, which leads to our 2022 Annual Budget, I wanted to give you an update on the finances of the church. We are a very giving church and have always been able to cover our cost of operations. However, since July, Operating Income (which we call Current Expense Income) has declined significantly. Unfortunately, we are trending in the wrong direction. Our budget deficit is $15,000 through November with two months left in the year. We have asked Pastor David and the staff to keep spending at a minimum as we end this budget year. 

As Treasurer, I am concerned not only for the remainder of 2021, but also our financial stability as we move forward into 2022. Shortly, we will be asking for pledges and preparing the church’s operating budget for 2022. I ask you to prayerfully consider FUMC in your finances this holiday season, and again in the coming year. Thank you for all the ways you have sustained this church during trying times. We all love our church family and want to see us prosper again into good times!  

Blessings to all,

Jim Slowik, OHFUMC Church Treasurer

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Extravagant Generosity by Pastor David Parker

“Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can”

John Wesley

 

Beloved Friends,

 

The generous life is described by attributes such

as grateful, humble, selfless, content, sharing, caring, hopeful and concerned

(just to name a few). A person’s heart that has been shaped for generosity is

more likely to give out of every “account” found in their life. Their time,

talents, treasures, and testimonies are all arenas within which God calls us to

His benevolent, generous life.

 

John Wesley’s words of stewarding our life to

maximize “ALL” means, ways, places, times, and people for the greater good of

all is Heaven’s clarion call to stewardship (the planned and proactive

management and deployment of resources).

 

You and I will soon be receiving an opportunity to

make a pledge (“giving estimate”) for our 2022 operating budget and other

designated giving. This will help our Finance/Stewardship team to plan and

prepare our 2022 budget. It will be presented and ultimately adopted at our

regularly scheduled Church Council meeting on January 24, 2022, 7:00 pm. The

whole church is always welcome to attend these meetings.

 

At FUMC, one of our five chosen core values is extravagant

generosity. Generosity, in a Christian stewardship context, is all about the

desire (and deep satisfaction) that comes from investing our lives in the

things of God. Deploying our gifts for the Lord’s purposes is the will of the

Father. Doing those things with a great sense of excited joy, partnership, and

fulfilling adventure is the personally excited, “Extravagant Generosity”

portion.

 

As it turns out, extravagant generosity is much

more about the size of the heart than the size of the gift. It’s all about the

privilege of sharing in the Master’s ministry. Paul spoke of the Macedonian

Christians as a deeply joyful people who loved to be extravagant! “Their

overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity” (2

Corinthians 8:2). What’s more, their commitment was neither casual nor

circumstantial. They didn’t wait for a need (or a campaign) to give to arise.

Paul reminds us, “Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the

privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people” (2 Corinthians 8:4).

This is extravagant generosity in its purest form.

 

Covid-19 global pandemic

has shaken our world and our church. Many noble saints have held the line and

sustained the ship through our perilous passage. Others have left our church

for singing congregations. This is a deep sadness for us all. We have “trimmed

the sails and battened down the hatches,” and we are not likely done making

significant adjustments to a new season of ministry. This is not the first time

this church has known a season of “tight financial pinch.” The Lord is calling

us all to work together, minister, pray, serve, and sacrifice

financially—together, that His kingdom ministry can continue through our church

family.

 

As we approach the coming year, the David Parker

family commits our support to a FIRST FRUITS lifestyle of giving our gifts and resources

to God. We believe that our full tithe belongs in our local church, just as the

Bible says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse (the

treasury room of the sanctuary), that there may be food in my house”

(Malachi 3:10). When everyone does that, it ensures that our operating budget will be

strong and uncompromised by designated giving. May God challenge us and

stretch us all in our faith and discipleship as together we seek to become

faithful disciples of Jesus Christ!

 

Excelling in this grace TOGETHER!

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Evaluate to Elevate! by Pastor David

"Unless the Lord Build the House,

they labor in vain who build it"

Psalm 127:1

 Friends, it’s that time of year again when we begin to focus in on annual appraisal reviews. We start with the pastor at the end of the year and then move to the staff in February. Annual reviews can be nerve-racking and generate anxiety around possible difficult discussions. They can also be empowering, re-focusing, reinforcing and a catalytic force for breakthrough growth.

Every year, we as a church family get to participate (if we choose) as important voices and “stakeholders.” We hope you will offer credible, positive, constructive, and helpful feedback about (and to) all our staff as to how things are progressing within our church family and ministries. Your discernment and prayerful input is invited and important.

This year, for the Pastoral position, I am asking for a special focus, with a few deeper, perhaps difficult, and decidedly more important evaluative questions. At each church I’ve served, annual reviews are a potentially helpful way to gain my bearings and perspective on what works in any congregation and community. After a season of time, some deeper observations can also be made.

Completion of a full five years of ministry at OHFUMC has represented for me a special juncture of both accomplishment and retrospective reflection. From this vantage point, we are able to embrace some deeper reflections on the larger relationship that we have shared, not just on my performance in this past year. Like any relationship, it takes time to live through the full seasons of life’s dynamics with all the many highs and lows that can be experienced. Only when you have been really excited and truly disappointed, have you arrived at the place of the possibility of full spectrum analysis.

I usually ask, at this juncture, that the SPPR make a special effort to include some larger questions of the congregation and staff. I realize this may be a difficult time to do that, but maybe it is also the right time with the coming denominational restructuring (some would label as a divide). Even though asking and answering these questions does not guarantee perfect, predictable outcomes, they can open up windows of awareness, learning, and reflective analysis that may be helpful for us all as we head into the next chapter(s) of our lives (whatever they may be).

·        What have these last five years shown us about the health of our church’s relationship with Pastor David and his with us?

·        Are his style, leadership approach, preaching, vision, and theological convictions in alignment with who we see ourselves becoming as we move into the future?

·        Does our church need this type of pastor at this time? Do we need David specifically for our future transition through these many “sea changes?”

·        Is there an analysis or angle of this relationship that nobody has mentioned, brought up, addressed or even been aware of, that our church should consider?

These can be scary and divisive questions if approached with partisan spirits. Humble, graceful, and loving honesty can be a gift to all people in this relationship. My only goal has always been for a healthy “marriage” and “vital ministry” for the whole family (the congregation, and myself and Cara). Please send your answers to these questions to SPPR chair Linda Jury at jury@oakharbor.net. All submissions will remain confidential and summarized with others. I look forward to prayerfully discerning with you where we are heading and how our church might best be served, to God’s glory and neighbor’s good, as we move into our future.

May God be with us on this holy quest!

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Trees of Life by Erin

Fall is my favorite season, so I love this time of year. The changing colors of nature, the crunch of leaves on the ground, the crispness of the air getting cooler, and of course baked goods filling the house with smells of delicious spices!

As the weather gets cooler and the nights come earlier, there are fewer people out enjoying nature at this time, but this is when I especially love it. The signs of autumn and the fact that there are not as many people outside mean that I can experience some meaningful solitude in nature, taking in the world our creative God made. It’s a time when I often feel closest with God, and it is good.

 

“The land produced vegetation – all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.” – Genesis 1:12 (NLT)

 

Trees are an awe-inspiring part of creation. They grow older, taller, and bigger than anything else on earth, and they’ve been on earth since the beginning. Here in Oak Harbor, some of those truly special trees – and some that contribute to the seasonal changing colors and crunchy leaves – are the protected Garry Oaks. In a few weeks, Laura Renninger from the Garry Oak Society will be with us at Youth Group to share about these special trees and weave together the history and biology with the spirituality of them.

In his book Reforesting Faith: What Trees Teacher Us About the Nature of God and His Love for Us, Dr. Matthew Sleeth takes a journey through a trail of trees in scripture. He notes, “Christianity is the only religion that weaves trees from one end of its sacred text to the other. Every important character and every major event has a tree marking the spot. There is a tree in the first and last chapter of the Bible, in the first psalm, and in the first gospel.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Garry Oak trees and connecting nature to our relationship with God, you’re welcome to join us for Youth Group that night: Wednesday, October 27 from 6:30-8:00pm.

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Digital Media V by Sebastian

The following is the last installment of reflections by Professor of Communication Quentin J. Schultze. He, in a very critical and academic way discusses the complex implications of technology in church culture. I hope these can intrigue you and help you find ways to stay aware and engaged with how our church can be relevant in the times we live in.

 

How do religions groups learn about each other in this digital cosmos? Religious stereotypes exist in a mass-mediated world. As Walter Lippmann said in his groundbreaking book Public Opinion, humans act in the real world on the basis of the perceptions created increasingly for us by the media’s pseudo-environment. Now cyberspace is creating new pseudo-environments that mediate between religious groups. Virtually anyone with a theological axe to grind or a stereotype to promote can have his or her stage in the digital limelight. Perhaps the digital changes are also opening up new opportunities for cross-denominational collaboration. In a world in which different groups are one hyperlink away from each other online, the church might be able to foster fellowship and coordinate projects across the ethnic, racial, geographic and denominational canyons.

Is the church uncritically adopting the public rhetoric about the so-called "digital revolution"? Cyberspace creates a fine line between science fiction and popular theology, especially eschatology. Surely the millennial spirit has captivated many believers. Are Christians also carriers of the misplaced utopian rhetoric? Perhaps we face new kind of religious syncretism that combines digital fever with the worship of Creation.

At the same time, we should question knee-jerk criticisms of cyberspace, especially when we baptize secular critiques with quasi-theological rhetoric. Revolutions are never wholly good or bad. And new media forms never replace older ones. Printing did not replace conversation, and electronic media did not eliminate printing or in-the-flesh worship. Cyberspace will not eclipse the Eucharist or destroy Protestant hymnody, although it might frustrate a lot of liturgists and composers!

History suggests that the real revolution -- if we should call it that -- is far more subtle and profound: new media forms change how people use earlier media forms. If I am remotely correct, people in a digital world may read, preach, converse and publish more or less differently, but they will not refrain from these earlier practices, We might learn to read aloud instead of just silently, to write oral sermons instead of academic lectures (and there is a difference), to illustrate our lectures with slides as well as blackboard scribbles, and to dialogue with students instead of just lecturing. But we will not stop communicating through earlier media forms.

Instead, we must figure out new ways of building collective religious identities and nurturing spiritual disciplines, "using all of the means reasonably at our disposal," to paraphrase Aristotle. We are intimacy-seeking creatures, predisposed to reach out to others and to learn. We forge new media today as we have always done as part of the unfolding of God’s Creation.

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More of Jesus, Less of Me. by Amy

This month I want to share something a bit more personal that was inspired by this Hope is Here series in an unexpected way. My stories tend to come out a little disjointed, so my apologies ahead of time!

Sitting here in the church office, I tend to keep music on. This morning a song came on that always brings memories of a particular moment. That song is "Pure & Holy" by Motion Worship. During what the youth of my day (kind of) lovingly call "The Mission Trip From Hell" there are times for lessons & bonding set aside and the last night is always super emotional. Now, the motto for the trip was "More of Jesus, Less of Me" which is why this song in particular strikes a chord. The moment I am reminded of is when the youth leaders went around and washed the feet of their youth, like Jesus with His disciples - Anyone who knows me well enough KNOWS I absolutely cannot deal with people touching my feet. Always hated it, don't know why. So as I am watching, and absolutely dreading my turn.. I just had to keep telling myself "More of Jesus, less of me." over and over. I let Hunter (our youth pastor at the time) wash my feet. I cried. Granted, everyone was crying because it is a humbling experience ESPECIALLY in today's culture.

This act that Jesus performed comes into focus. Jesus was physically showing the disciples that unless their sins are washed away that they can have no part with Him. The disciples, even at this late stage of Christ’s time with them still did not grasp what Christ’s mission on this earth was truly all about. They were still seeking an earthly, physical kingdom, not realizing that His kingdom was not of this earth, but was spiritual. This simple act was to show that unless they be washed away of their sins, they cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

My personal point is, I still did it. Did it suddenly cure me of my foot phobia? No. Did it show me that I'm capable of getting through difficult situations when I focus on Jesus? Absolutely. When we take the time to put Jesus ahead of ourselves and force the selfish parts of our humanity aside -the parts that are within this earthly, physical kingdom- we can feel His power, love, mercy, and hope working in us and through us.

I want to challenge everyone who has read my story to comment with a moment that you put Jesus first even though it may have been so very hard. Share your moments to give others who are struggling Hope through Him. If you don't want your story on the internet, or you want to ask me why this mission trip has this particular nickname, I welcome you to set up an appointment to chat with me about it.

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Introducing our ETHNOS Team by Pastor David

Fellow Pilgrims,

 The word Ethnos appears 151 times in the New Testament. The word is most frequently translated as nation in English but conveys much more the sense of a distinct people group, ethnicity or nationality. As you can clearly see, ethnos is where we derive our word ethnicity.

At the very center of the mission of Jesus Christ, in the saving of humanity from sin, is his healing work of reconciliation. He came to “…create one new person out of the two groups, making peace” (Ephesians 2:15b CEB). That is why our new Ethnos team has affirmed this statement as a grounding foundation for all of our work:

“We believe that the essence of our identity as Christ followers is in the Lord Jesus alone and so we shall love our neighbors as we love God and ourselves.” 

We also believe that our three core functions are to help the people of our church family learn how to appropriately engage their life of discipleship in…

“FIGHTING HATE ~ TEACHING LOVE ~ SEEKING JUSTICE”

We recently met with Kristina Gonzalez (via Zoom). She is the Director of Innovation for an Inclusive Church Innovation Vitality Team from our PNW annual Conference headquarters. She has helped us to establish some reflective pathways for self- awareness and learnings as our team (and church) prepare for more intentional, relational, community engagement.

Down the road, we will be offering the ‘Are You Ready’ self-reflection on readiness of the congregation to move into community in new ways, as well as ‘Cultural Self-Awareness’ as a template for reflecting on culture as the gateway to intercultural competency. ‘Emotional Intelligence’ provides a helpful pattern of thinking about our internal and external responses to all difference, ethnic or otherwise. We will also be reading the book “Waking Up White,” by Debbie Irving, which offers a fresh perspective on our bias, stereotypes, manners, and tolerance.

It is our missional goal to engage, support and cultivate three life-giving, transforming experiences on our discipleship journey as a church family. Awareness is all about becoming intellectually engaged through the informed self-work of closely examining the ingredients that lead to bias, injustice, blind spots and racist cultural assumptions and practices. Relationship is all about becoming emotionally engaged in connecting purposefully with ethnically, racially different people than ourselves. It is to discover likeness, love and our common humanity as children of God. Commitment is all about becoming strategically engaged in calendared pursuits, actions and approaches that reinforce the bridge-building, reconciling ministry of Jesus Christ in our own community.

This team is open to all people who wish to participate. We meet every other Thursday, from 3:30 – 4:30 pm on Zoom. Suzan Schopf is our convener and you can receive Zoom links from her by email: susan.schopf@gmail.com.

“Pastor David, why this and why now? Hasn’t there been way too much focus on race relations? Can we just get back to normal?” My friends, I have thought that most of my life. I have enjoyed the security and protection of a culture that is largely invisible to me, because I am a part of it. I have been learning many things about our history, our laws and structures, our cultural assumptions and dominant-culture practices that I assumed blessed and benefitted everyone.

I have come to understand through my many readings and documentaries, there are three core truths I need to embrace to follow Jesus well in my context:

1.   RECOGNIZE – Racism as an historic, systemic, pervasive injustice to humanity and an egregious offense to the heart of God who names us all His children.

2.   REALIZE - We have been complacent, complicit and content in our own “majority culture” story while others have languished in harm and hate sustained by many blind spots.

3.   RESOLVE – To own and act on our Christian responsibility to dismantle racism and work to reverse the long-standing injustices that have held our siblings in bondage to white supremacy.

 

Let this be our holy path to aliveness—TOGETHER!

Pastor David 😀

 

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Difficult Truths by Amy

Difficult Truths


As of late, I have had a few pills that are hard to swallow. I’m sure we all have had moments in our life where we understand that we need to change something within ourselves to move past survival and into living a full and faith-filled life. Let’s go through some of the hard truths and read about what God says about some of these so-called pills?

You Can’t Predict Life. Unexpected death, unexpected injuries, unexpected breakups, unexpected job changes. In life, you can only control how you react. In the story of Job we see a man who has done only God’s will, and still bad things happen to him. God understands that we are human, full of emotion. So (because Job Remained Faithful) the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.

Admitting You’re Wrong. This is a huge pill for a lot of people to swallow, they would much rather blame others or make excuses rather than admit fault and take responsibility. 2 Kings 22:19-20 “You were sorry and humbled yourself before the Lord … You will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city.’

Nobody Cares About You More Than They Care About Themselves. Very, very rarely does anyone actually care about your insecurities. Your coworkers are not going home to their families talking about how this loser at work wore the same shirt twice this week. You are a side character to everyone else. This one has a positive side though: You get to stop being so self-conscious.

Good Intentions Don’t Always Turn Out Good. You don’t get to decide that you aren’t a jerk. Sometimes you do things that hurts people you care about even when you have good intentions. As perfectly stated in Galations 5:17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

A Book Will Always Be Judged By Its Cover. You are judged immediately on your gender, appearance, dress, voice, height, fitness, race, socioeconomic status… Some of those things you can control to your benefit. Mostly you cannot. And there is nothing you can do about it. 1 Corinthians 11:31 But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way.



None of these pills are bad, they are simply difficult, as is the world we live in. God knows our struggles, but He also Knows our hearts. Have faith in God & you will be rewarded.

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