Pastor Daniel Thueson
What is Orthodoxy?
Growing up I learned one way to live in the faith. I was always taught to follow the rules. If I didn’t, God would see me and I would be punished. This proved true in the sense that somehow my mother always knew when I had snuck an Oreo from the cookie jar.
Later, in Bible College, I learned another way to live the faith. I learned that I could do things for Jesus, that I could use the gifts that God had given me to share how God loves us and wants us to follow Jesus. In following Jesus, life is better. Yet, the idea of following the rules was reinforced. Otherwise, if something bad happened to you, it was because of uncorrected sin in your life.
Life was very black and white when it came to right and wrong. I had no room for the gray tension that lies between definite good and definite evil.
Then, life began to show me that my understanding of good happening to good people and bad things happening to bad people wasn’t always how life worked. This became especially relevant when my wife left me and despite my best efforts to reconcile, we divorced. Subsequently, the church I was serving said I was no longer fit for pastoral ministry.
A few years later I attended seminary. During this time, I had the opportunity to break down my faith and examine its weaknesses and inconsistencies. This reformation allowed me to build a more consistent, coherent, and resilient faith. Coincidentally, I found myself falling in love with Wesleyan/Methodist theology. I discovered God’s grace in a deeply life changing way. I hold this experience dear to my heart.
The Wesleyan/Methodist faith is an orthodox faith. Orthodox means right belief. Ortho comes from the ancient Greek for right or proper and doxa meaning belief or opinion. We find the outline for Christian orthodoxy in the Nicene and Apostles’ Creed. This is what we believe.
We believe in God as trinity the three in one. We believe in God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a perfect sinless life, full of love and grace, that he died on the cross and truly, physically, rose from the dead.
We believe that he ascended into heaven and will come again in glory.
We believe that God sent us the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus. The Holy Spirit invites us into God’s grace, convicts us of sin, and leads us into righteousness through sanctification.
We believe that we receive salvation by faith through grace when we profess Jesus as Lord and Son of God. By which, we receive the Holy Spirit into our lives to empower us to share the good news of God’s presence, grace, and love. That we bear fruit and live a life following Jesus by picking up our own crosses and surrendering our will to God’s will.
This is the essence of our orthodox belief.
Here’s the thing, orthodoxy cannot live alone. It must be engaged with its sisters, orthopraxy and orthocardia. That is right practice and right heart. In other words, we must act and when we act, whatever it is we do, it must not be out of fear or deceit or selfishness or comfort. Instead, it must be out of faith, love, service, sacrifice, and done in worship of God. In other words, Paul said living in the spirit produces fruit that demonstrates love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22–23)
So, before we take that next step, before I take that next step, before you take that next step, ask yourself these questions.
Am I acting out of faith or fear?
Am I acting out of love and service or for self-recognition?
Am I acting out of sacrifice or comfort?
This means when I follow Jesus, I ask myself, is what I’m about to say or do worshipful to Christ? Is how I treat the person angry with me, or the person I’m angry with, an act of love? Am I choosing to go this direction because it’s more comfortable for me or because it’s comforting to someone else?
I pray that we, you and I, are producing fruit of the Spirit with both words and actions so that people will know we are God’s children, followers of Christ, and will want to become part of God’s Kingdom as we make life better and You better at life through Jesus Christ.
Happy Valentine's Day Church Family!
By Rita Billbe
The ER nurse knelt at my side. “They’re giving him CPR,” she said. At first I couldn’t comprehend what she meant. Surely my only son Shawn wasn’t about to die.
On Shawn’s prom night in 1999, the phone rang at 2:00 am—a precursor to every mother’s nightmare. Shawn’s friend Webber said, “Rita, Shawn’s been in a wreck.”
“Is he okay?” I said.
“The doctors won’t tell us.” I hurriedly donned an old pink sweat suit, one Shawn hated, for a shared laugh later.
Arriving at the ER waiting room full of weeping kids, I identified myself and went to a private room where the doctor questioned me. I explained about Shawn’s weakened heart and gave the name of his cardiologist, thinking all would be well as soon as they conferred. Relieved, I smiled. The doctor frowned. “There’s nothing to smile about. Your son has a ruptured aorta. He could die.”
The impact of those words didn’t pierce my frazzled brain, but fear clutched my heart. I called my mother-in-law, who lived nearby, to come. My husband Mike was in Arkansas building our retirement home and I wasn’t ready to worry him yet. I phoned my sister’s house and reached my niece Jana, who was like a sister to Shawn. Speaking slowly, I asked for her mom. My sister said they’d be right there.
My mother-in-law arrived and we held each other. Later the nurse came and knelt at my side. Within a few minutes the doctor returned and began to explain. Not waiting for the words, I simply asked, “Is he gone?” He nodded and said they’d done all they could do.
The next few days were a blur. Discovering a drunk driver had killed our son was difficult enough to bear; but how do you plan a funeral for your child? Somehow we did and hundreds of supporters attended where Shawn’s friends paid tribute with funny poignant stories.
Cards poured in, many with tales of our son’s charismatic personality: the gals at the flower shop where he “made their day” each time he bought bouquets for his girlfriend, the little boys he coached in community flag football who called him “My Shawn,” the kids he stood up for when they were bullied.
More difficulties lay ahead, however. The court proceedings for the drunk driver began and we saw him for the first time in the courtroom. How could he be alive after smashing his car into Shawn’s while our son lay in a cemetery?
Grief’s work progresses slowly and cannot be rushed. I told my mother about uplifting notes from students who received our scholarship money in memory of our son. My mother’s words carried more weight than the average person because she too had lost a child. She said, “Maybe some good will come out of this.”
I didn’t want to hear it. What good could come from my heart breaking each day? What about the wonderful future Shawn had? Sadness ruled while I wallowed in the mud of despair, wondering if life would ever be the same.
Cleaning out Shawn’s room created a trip down memory’s bittersweet road. I gave my 3 nieces first dibs on his belongings. Oddly Jana chose a tube of his favorite Eternity lotion. I didn’t understand why.
We retired and moved to our dream home on Arkansas’s White River. There remained a daunting task--the completion of the trial for the drunk driver. During the next 31 months we drove 7 times back to court in Oklahoma, the proceedings often delayed; until finally he was imprisoned.
When you lose a child, you worry about him being forgotten. My mindset changed when I heard about a church service where a young man testified to a teenage life full of drugs and turmoil. Then he said, “But what changed me was Shawn Billbe’s funeral and my life will never be the same.” Stunned, I could only marvel how my son’s existence had impacted another person for the better. Slowly, I began to see the blessings that Shawn’s life created.
Healing remained tenuous until an email arrived from Kathy, a former teacher under my leadership as a high school principal. She’d transferred to her home district where her daughter attended. At prom time, she lectured her teenager about its inherent dangers. The girl resented her mother’s efforts until a Victim’s Impact panel gave a school program. Kathy wrote, “And there on that stage was a picture of your beautiful boy.” Shawn’s prom girlfriend spoke to the kids. The students wept and gathered in small groups afterwards hugging each other. Her daughter came to Kathy’s classroom and threw herself in her mother’s arms like a small child.
“I get it, I get it now, Mom; and I promise I’ll be careful.”
“There were no accidents or problems that night,” Kathy wrote. “And even though it’s small comfort to you and Mike, I wanted you to know what a difference Shawn’s story made in the lives of those kids.”
I began to intuit a pattern emerging. Shawn’s life and love remained victorious. Another unusual email arrived. A young woman and her family were driving home from vacation. A car ahead drove erratically creating uneasiness. She cautioned her husband to stay back. Shawn’s name popped into her head. She couldn’t understand and then looked online. Suddenly she knew the significance. She wrote, “I stopped to help at the accident that claimed your son’s life. I held his hand and assured him everything would be okay. I am a woman of faith and I wanted you to know that his memory lives on.”
Astonished I re-read the letter, tears streaming down my face. Did this memory of our son keep her family safe that night? Does God work that way? No answers returned to me but the letter created affirmation and peace.
My niece Jana, now married with two small boys of her own, taught them how to fish. She showed them fishing pictures of Shawn and her. The older boy said, “Oh I know him. I’ve swung with him in my dreams.” The story sent shock waves throughout our family. How could a boy who had never met Shawn provide such a story? A sense of hope crept into my soul.
Reflecting on all these events, I wondered if I’d finally reached the plateau where I saw the blessings my Mother predicted.
I wasn’t sure until I spoke with Jana recently. For 20 years she had kept Shawn’s lotion on a closet dresser surrounded by pictures of them. She discovered that her boys had used it. She cried, then chastised them. They told her they were sorry and then said, “But we just wanted to know what he smelled like.”
I could have told them. He smelled like wild flowers picked at age 4 for his mom, like the biggest catfish in the pond caught one hot summer’s day, like a reeking football outfit left in the garage till laundry time, like salty tears shed after a girlfriend’s breakup.
He smelled like love.
Chili Cook-off & Dessert
A Huge Success!
What an amazing night of food, fun and fellowship we had! Thank you to all who participated in this event by making chili, making desserts, buying desserts, or just being present! Kudos to Tom Merry and all the students for a wonderful night! A special shoutout to Kylie Andrews, our student MC/Auctioneer. She did a wonderful job!
We raised $6,281.00 for our Student Ministries! Thank you for your generosity and support of the young people in our church!
Confirmation is an initiation into the Christian faith. In confirmation students learn about why we believe in God, what we believe about God, our faith as a United Methodist, and how this all applies to our life. Confirmation classes will start the week of February 12th. Confirmation will end in time for Confirmation Sunday on May 21st.
Pastor Daniel will be reaching out to eligible students/parents with details since we have had to cancel the last 2 Wednesdays due to inclement weather. If you do not recieve an email from Pastor Daniel and you feel that your student is eligible, feel free to reach out to Pastor Daniel by phone or email for the paperwork needed to get your student into class before February 12th.
For more infomation visit:
Sunday, February 19th from 4:00-6:00pm
Bible Exploration will be Sunday, February 19th from 4:00-6:00pm. This is for children who received their 3rd grade bibles from the church in the Fall of 2021 or 2022. We will spend some time with the children talking about what a wonderful Book the Bible is and showing them some tools for finding their way around the Bible. Our prayer for these kids during this event is that it sparks a life-long love of reading the Bible. We will supply a snack during the event.
How Do I Respond?
from Pastor Daniel
I recently received a question that I related to on a deep level because it broke my heart to know how your heart is breaking. The question was “How do I deal with people who are or were friends who have left our congregation?” It’s no secret that some of our beloved have chosen to leave our beautiful and amazing community of faith, not because of what is happening here, but because of some incidences within the denomination across the country.
Here’s my response. You love them. You pray for them. (Matthew 5:44) You hold onto the fact that no one calls Jesus Christ Lord without the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3) You bless them on your way and be enthusiastic about the love of God in your life so you may share it with others. (Romans 12:9–21) As some would say, kill them with kindness.
I’ll cut straight to the chase. It’s not easy to do this. Some have spoken evil against us – woe to them. (Romans 10:6–13) Some are trying to create division and burn the house down as they leave – woe to them. (1 Peter 5:8, John 10:10, Romans 16:17–18)
Some people have been courageous enough to straight out tell me they cannot serve in ministry with people they disagree with. They cannot serve God alongside someone who is gay. That’s between them and God.
However, some have sacrificed their faith and integrity. When the human sexuality argument didn’t build the momentum they wanted, they resorted to attacking our faith. One person recently wrote a letter to some people in our congregation, but not to me, that was full of biased rhetoric and untruths. They really hurt some people. Woe to them. Nevertheless, we remain orthodox in our faith and in our church. Other people have come to me believing and repeating lies told to them. God won’t tell you to leave without giving you a place to go and the blessing to go.
In fact, the whole group proceeding with disaffiliation does so built on a lie. The Book of Discipline, the UMC’s book on doctrine, states in ¶ 2553 you may disaffiliate only if you disagree with the UMC Book of Discipline’s stance on human sexuality. Except, the Book of Discipline hasn’t changed, and our church hasn’t changed. Yes, some churches out there and some pastors out there are breaking the discipline. That frustrates me. Nevertheless, none of it has changed. We are an orthodox and traditional church who takes Jesus mandate to love everyone seriously.
When someone shows me in the Bible where Jesus tells us to leave the church when we disagree, or even switch denominations, then maybe we will have space to stand on the sidewalk in self-righteous judgment. (Matthew 9:9–13)
There are two stories that come to mind. The first is, the banana that leaves the bunch is the first that gets pealed. The second is the story of the man tending the fireplace. A hot coal falls out and its fire quickly goes out. It is extinguished. Yet, as soon as it is returned to the fire pit, it reignites and burns once again serving its purpose of creating light and warmth.
At FUMC Mountain Home, we will keep loving everyone. The only way we can make life better and you better at life through Jesus Christ - so that we can change hearts, lives, communities, and the world - is to love people into a relationship with Jesus. Fear doesn’t work. Threats don’t work. Neither of those methods are Methodist or how Jesus works. Essentially, they’re not actions formed in faith. Once we’ve welcomed someone, we allow the Holy Spirit to do its work of sanctification. We help by walking alongside them and working on our own sanctification with awe and humility.
It's not always easy to stay. Sometimes, it would be easier to go off on our own or someplace where everyone thinks like me. Yet, that's not where Jesus leads us. When I stand before God, I'm going to fall on my knees having given every ounce to love, offer every bit of patience, and all the mercy and grace I could muster, all that was shared to me, so that my cup will have been emptied in an attempt to win every soul possible to Christ.
Inclement Weather Info
In the event of inclement weather, please look for closings and cancellations on KTLO, the church website fumcmh.org or our Facebook page.
Ash Wednesday Service
The Season of Lent Begins
What is Lent?
Why are we marked with a cross made of ashes?
Luke: Jesus and the Outsiders Outcasts and Outlaws
Lenten Sermon Series
In the Gospel of Luke, we find stories of Jesus’ ministry with “Outsiders, Outcasts and Outlaws.” As we explore Jesus’ life through Luke’s stories, we’ll meet the ordinary, even unexpected, people who Jesus chose to be his friends and do his work – people who aren’t perfect, may be struggling, and don’t yet have their acts together – people just like us. This Lent, we invite you to read along in the Gospel of Luke and to worship with us each weekend as we meet Jesus, who loves us whoever we are.
For 2023 Graduates
The FUMCMH Scholarship Program exists to offer financial help to deserving young members or constituents of FUMCMH who plan to attend an accredited college or vocational school. Currently, we are serving students in the freshmen year only. Constituents (non-members) need a recommendation by the Youth Director
The scholarship amount for this academic year is $800.00 to be paid in two equal amounts of. $400.00 each semester. Checks for the scholarship sum will be made out directly to the recipient 's school and mailed to the registrar of the designated school.
• Be enrolled full time (academic load of 12 credit hours or more)
TO APPLY: Submit the completed application form to the Church Office by July 1st, or by MAY 1st IF APPLICANT WISHES TO HAVE THIS AWARD ANNOUNCED AT SCHOOL AWARD CEREMONIES.
For more infomation visit:
United Methodist Higher Education Foundation
Paying for college can be stressful. For many families, affording higher education is the number one factor when deciding which school a student will attend. Applications are now open for scholarships from The United Methodist Higher Education Foundation. UMHEF scholarships help make it financially possible for students attending United Methodist-related institutions to obtain higher education.
Every year UMHEF awards $2 million + to students attending one of the 100+ UM related colleges, universities and seminaries across the country. Don't let finances get in the way of achieving your dreams of a quality education. Apply by March 1st.
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Hello Kids & Parents!
It’s hard to believe that January is already over! It's unfortunate that we have had to cancel the last 2 Wednesdays due to inclement weather. I've sure missed seeing your kids and their smiling faces!
This month we will have our Bible Exploration Event. Kids who recieved their 3rd grade bibles this past Fall or the prior year are invited to participate. This is a time when we teach the kids a little about their bible and how to use it in a fun and exciting hands-on way. The hope is that it sparks a life long love of God’s word for these kids! The event is Sunday, February 19th from 4:00 to 6:00pm and we will serve a snack.
Our church has adopted the conference Safe Gatherings policy and process. This takes the place of our previous Safe Sanctuary policy & process. This includes a criminal background check, child maltreatment check and for drivers a driver's check. I will be sending invitations and instructions to all my volunteers via email in the upcoming weeks. Thank you to all my First Kidz current volunteers! You are greatly appreciated!
I'd like to give a shoutout to our children and youth acolytes for their comittment to service. This is a great way for our younger generation to serve, which we all know is an important part of our Christian faith and our discipleship path. Another important aspect of your kids acolyting is that they experience the traditions of our faith. Children are trained to acolyte beginning is 3rd grade. Our hope is that they continue to serve our church in this manner on into High School (at least through 10th grade). I'm so very proud of all of you! Parents, please remember to have your kids dress in traditional Sunday attire on the days they acolyte. I know our teenage boys are often most comfortable in shorts, but we would prefer them to wear long pants when they acolyte.
The kids in Sunday School as well as on Wednesday afternoon have been itching to feed Geno, our offering monster. They are invited to bring an offering to church with them on Sundays and/or Wednesday to feed Geno. He eats both coins and bills. This is a fun way to teach the kids about giving and tithing.
We are starting to look at Easter Extravaganza ideas now! The date will be April 8th and we will need adult volunteers. More details will come next month! And you you know what that means! VBS will be right around the corner and plans are already in progress. We’re going to Babylon this year! We have done this Holy Land Adventure in the past but it was many years ago and our current kids have yet to experience it. I’m so excited!! We will need lots of youth and adult helpers! How would you like to help? Let me know!
God bless & have a safe and warm February!
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The beginning of February brings a hope of changed weather for us here in Mountain Home. The last 2 weeks we have been forced to cancel Wednesday activities which unfortunately keeps us apart.
We have started a new Youth Group series were we are studying different people and groups of people from the New Testament. In February we will do a series on Old Testament people starting with woman from the Lineage of Grace book. This has proven to be quite educational for us.
We ended January with a hugely successful Chili Cookoff and Dessert Auction. What a great turnout from the congregation! The youth can't thank people enough for giving so generously and donating over $6,200 for youth missions! This is amazing and will be so helpful in expanding the kingdom work for our youth. Some will be used immediately to help send some youth to Veritas on March 3-5.
We have been planning on a talent show I'm hoping we can still get it together for the middle of February and that the recent weather hasn't derailed anything. Stay tuned for more on that!
Finally for 7th-8th graders confirmation planning is under way. A meeting with parents and youth to come to get a final start date!
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Meet Bella Chance
Bella is a 7th grader at Pinkston Middle School.
She is a cheerleader that also ran cross country this year. One of her many talents is painting. She has some of her masterpieces on display down in the youth room. She manages to complete a new one every week on Wednesdays. I love her heart for praying to God when you don't know what else to do.
You will see her on Sundays at the 11am service with her Nana. Please stop and tell this amazing young lady hi sometime!
January Memorials and Honorariums
If you wish to add a concern to our list, please contact the church office at 425-6036. You can also submit prayers to the prayer wall on the church app.