Monday, October 17, 2016

The Rich, Poor Church!

          Seven Churches of Revelation Series
                       Sermon 2: Smyrna
Intro.    Watch this clip: (kids discuss how much money it takes to
be rich.)

A.   How much money would you say a person has to have to be        considered rich?

B.   Today, we will look at some rich, poor people, and
hopefully, we will see what "Rich" really means!

                          Rev. 2:8-11

I.   Smyrna: The City and Its Background.
A.   Smyrna was a large and wealthy city 36 miles north of              Ephesus. (BKC)

B.   Like Ephesus, Smyrna was also a seaport. (BKC)  It was         also a great trade center.

C.   Politically, it was pro Rome.  Even when Rome was              young, Smyrna was for her.

D.   Religiously, Smyrna practiced Emperor worship.  In 195         B.C., a temple was built for emperor worship.

E.   Apparently, the local Jewish synagogue was called the              Synagogue of Satan! (BKC)  Also see Rev. 3:9.

II.  Smyrna, The Church.
A.   Commendation: (vs. 9)
1.   Although materially poor, they had remained rich                    in Spirit!
a.   It is possible that their poverty was a                        result of Jewish conniving; the Jews in this                   city would tell lies to people to keep the                     Christians from getting jobs etc.
b.   Also, property was confiscated by order of                     emperor Domitian; again, Jews could tell who                   Christians were and demand that they bow down                 and worship the emperor, and when they
                   refused, they lost all!
2.   Christ commends them for holding on and keeping                     Spiritually rich when it would have been so easy                   to give up!

B.   Reprimand: 
1.   There is no reprimand to Smyrna.
2.   Smyrna is one of only two of the seven churches                     who receives no reprimand!
3.   This was a model church!

C.   Exhortation:  (vs. 10a)
1.   To prepare for new suffering which will be for a                    short time.
a.   Tribulation.
b.   Prison.
c.   Even death.

2.   Whatever they face, Christ exhorts them not to                 give up!

D.   Promise:  (vs. 10b)
1.   To those who were true, a crown of life!
2.   Even if they gave their lives, it would be worth                    the cost!  They would have the rewards of Christ!
3.   They would really be rich, if they didn't let                  their poverty cause them to compromise and do as                   the Jews in Smyrna had done.

III. Smyrna's Message to Marble Hill UMC.
A.   To thank God for our riches, both
1.   Materially.
2.   Spiritually.

B.   To realize the meaning of "Rich."
1.   If we spend our lives seeking material "Riches"                     and we find them, are we rich?  Do we feel
2.   People that are "Rich" are those who find a    
meaningful life in Christ!  That satisfies!

C.   To never become like the pious Jews.
1.   They prevented those different from them from                  becoming a part of them.
2.   We must never make anyone feel like they do not                     belong.
a.   It is easy to only associate with those who                         are exactly like us.
b.   Let's be careful to reach out to all people.

D.   To live our lives richly, anticipating the time when we   receive our crown of life.
1.   No Christian should have a defeated outlook; we                     are on the winning side!
2.   We have a reason to be rich, even when we are                  having hard times.
3.   Let Christ's promise of life help us live this                 life more richly!

A.   Have we let the tone of today's world get us down and              discouraged? I don’t know about you, but I needed this one!

B.   Let's ask Christ to help us see the blessings and find         out how rich we really are!

                      Time of commitment.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Church That Left It's First Love!

             Seven Churches of Revelation Series.
                     Sermon One:  Ephesus
            "The Church That Left It's First Love."

          Play Clip: Donny Osmond, some of you will remember!

A.   How many can remember your first "puppy love?"
B.   It is said our first love is never forgotten because it is our first bout with love and its pitfalls.
C.   A new Christian's experience with Christ is almost like
D.   We will see today that we need to mature to greater  depths but never loose that joy and zest Christ gives us when we begin our journey.

                          Rev. 2:1-7

I.   Comments about interpretation of Revelation.
A.   There are three basic methods of interpreting Revelation.   They are:
1.   Post millennial - it's all historical. (Barr)
2.   Pre millennial  - it's all prophetical. (Barr)
3.   Al-millennial view - Symbolical.  The seven churches represent seven kinds of churches that  exist in any age and any time. 
(Barr - "New Testament Story" pg. 269)
B.   If we view it as either Historic or Symbolic, we can take what Jesus says to these churches and apply it to today.
C.   That is what we want to do the upcoming weeks.

II.  Ephesus: The City and Its Background.
A.   The importance of Ephesus.
1.   Commercially.
a.   It was the home of a fine seaport which accommodated vast trading enterprises.  (N.T., Hester pg. 297)
b.   Three great roads came and left Ephesus.
c.   A great trade center.  Sooner or later every  important person in Asia came to Ephesus.
2.   Politically.
a.   Ephesus was the capital of Asia. (Hester)
b.   Also, the leading city of all Asia Minor. (Hester)
c.   Here was the seat of the imperical proconsul and the center of the Asiarchate, the union of the chief cities of the province.                                             (Hester)

3.   Religiously.
a.   Home of the goddess of fertility, Diana  (Artemis) and her temple.
b.   Which is one of the seven ancient wonders of   the world.
c.   It was the center of sexual perversion, in the name of religion.
B.   Ephesian people were known for their evil deeds:
cheating, lying, murder, and sexual immorality.

III. Ephesus the Church.
A.   Commendation:  (vs. 2&3)
1.   Accomplished genuine Christian works - "he knew their works."
2.   They couldn't bear that which was evil!  They were  good people.
3.   They rejected false prophets.
4.   They practiced a patient endurance amongst the evil culture.
5.   They hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans!
(def. Make believe Christians [Nelson Bible])
AThe Nicolaitans taught that Christians were free to
eat food offered to idols and to practice
fornication in the name of religion.@
(Mercer Bible Dict.)
B.   Reprimand:  (vs. 4)
1.   They had lost their first love!
2.   Perhaps, they had been so busy heresy hunting that  they had lost sight of love and forgiveness!
3.   Perhaps, they were so busy with doctrine and creed that they had forgotten the real value of love!  They had gotten so caught up in straightening people out that they forgotten to Love!
4.   Perhaps their enthusiasm and joy of working for Christ was gone.

C.   Exhortation:  (vs. 5)
1.   Remember:  What God had done and was doing for them.  Remember how it once was between you & Christ!
2.   Repent:  Godly sorrow for their loss of their  first love.
3.   Do:  get back to a life made different by Christ's  love!

D.   Promise:
1.   Remove lampstand if they do not repent and regain their Love.  (vs. 5)
2.   If they do repent, the tree of life and the
              paradise of God. (vs. 7)

IV.  Ephesus' message to Marble Hill UMC.
A.   To be:
1.   Patient and enduring.

a.   Always ready to love people with the same love that God loved us.
b.   Ready to avoid discouragement. (enduring  without discouragement)
2.   Always seeking the truth.

B.   To remember our first love.
1.   Never to let the warm love of Christ escape us.
2.   To serve each other because we really care and desire to do so.

C.   To beware, lest we grow bitter and worn, cold and indifferent and our lampstand be removed!  We must have an enduring first love to be worthy of Christ!

A.   If there is anyone who has never known this first love or any Christian who has let that love grow cold let's let Christ forgive our sins and replace the guilt with  God's love.
B.   Let's also pray that the Spirit would help us to always stay true to God, "Our First Love!"

     Closing Hymn

Monday, November 30, 2015

Pastor's Report


Marble Hill UMC
Meeting at New McKendree UMC (South Campus) at 2 p.m.
South East District Superintendent Rev. Fred Leist

Nov. 15, 2015


Mike Hargraves

We are still enjoying being here at Marble Hill UMC! Marble Hill UMC is a good church. Marble Hill has a history of paying their district and Conference apportionments in full, and we are on track to do it again this year. This is in part because Marble Hill is a missional church who sees the importance of paying their apportionments as a way of fulfilling Christ’s commission to go into all the world with the gospel. By paying their apportionments, they take part in the connectional ministry of the church in fulfilling the great commission. This missional identity continues in the way that Marble Hill ministers to the community. They see themselves as existing to serve their community, so at the Marble Hill church, many community things happen throughout the week: PEPP (Positive Education Parenting Program), Relay for Life meetings, Red Cross Blood Drives, County Extension Office meetings, Fire Department training, City Meeting for Missouri Rural Waste Water, Hunter Education Classes, Optimist Club meetings, many community baby and wedding showers, and funeral bereavement dinners for people inside and outside of the church. The Marble Hill church sees all of these things as ways to be in the community and offer Christ!

We continue to work on our “Marble Hill Growth plans for 2013 and forward.” This plan provides us with a vision and a goal to shoot for. Some of the highlights of what we have done this year toward these goals are as follows. We continue to work on our hospitality. We have had several first time visitors continue to come and make Marble Hill their church home. One of our members has recently taken on the hospitality/refreshment table as her personal ministry and is doing some great things with it. Our Nursery and Children’s Church ministries have undergone some changes. A couple ladies have taken on the ministry of the Children’s Church, one takes a month then the other takes a month. They are trying to make it more like a Children’s worship time, and they are trying to bring some continuity to this ministry. The Nursery continues to be served by volunteers. We have had a couple more people Safe Sanctuary certified this year to help with these Children’s ministries! A Care Team has been developed to help care for our shut-ins; several folks are calling or visiting our shut-ins, one of which is a retired pastor who has made Marble Hill his home church. It is good to have these resources in the church. The youth went on a mission trip to Sikeston to box up food at the Sikeston Food Bank this year. A trailer has been donated by one of our members to use for emergency response and some work has been done toward stocking it. Some work has been done toward developing a new directory, but this has been put on hold since our county is in the process of getting new 911 addresses. We have three young people who have started leading our Contemporary Song of Praise at the beginning of the service. This has really helped to enrich our worship and help people to participate in this song of praise, making the worship of our awesome God more passionate. There has even been some work toward looking into building the new addition mentioned in Phase IV of our growth plan, but for now that has been tabled until we can grow some more. The people of Marble Hill are eagerly working toward the mission of the church and God’s Kingdom! They are a good group of people! That growth plan is attached to this report!

Marble Hill has a website that one of our young people helped to set up, We have been doing some work to keep it updated and information posted on it about upcoming activities. During this year, someone logged unto it in Utah who used to live in the Marble Hill area. She saw what we were doing with youth in the area and contacted us by an email she found on the site. Since then, she has significantly been supporting our youth ministry on a monthly basis.
Marble Hill’s worship takes place at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday morning. Marble Hill has blended worship with elements of contemporary as well as traditional to meet the needs of all people in our geographic area. The people really begin to gather at about 9 a.m. for a time of fellowship around the hospitality table before Sunday School. The laity take an active part in worship: Marble Hill has a choir that leads us in traditional music with excellence. The choir has experienced some growth; we’ve had one lady move back and join the choir who sings and helps out with the organ as needed. Our Tech team includes a couple of very committed youth! Marble Hill is blessed with musical talent and several people share specials during worship; we have even discovered some new talent this past year! Praise God! Laity lead the Children’s time each week; after which, the children are dismissed to the nursery or Children’s Church which is also served by our laity. Marble Hill endeavors to offer passionate worship where people can encounter God and find their place in the Kingdom of God.

As of the writing of this report, the average attendance since this time last year at Marble Hill is 96 which is down from the 104 reported last year, but we have had some severe sickness in the church this year, and when you look at those who are missing with that consideration and add back those affected by that, you realize we have still grown. There are still people here who were not here last year. I believe that average may increase before the end of the year since many of those folks are back with us. The average attendance for 2013 was 85. We have had a total of 2 professions of faith who joined the church since the first of the year! Praise God! Marble Hill is alive and well, and moving forward for Christ, striving to make a positive difference in our community and the world. Marble Hill participated in Serve again this year with around 50 something taking part in doing service for our community in such ways as a mobile food pantry on our church parking lot, soup and food taken to the elderly and less fortunate, visits in the nursing home by our children’s group, highway and community clean up, and other work projects in the community. Marble Hill is a working church who takes seriously the Wesleyan emphasis on doing something because of your faith! Marble Hill is made up of people of just about any age, from many faith traditions. Marble Hill is really a regional church, having people come as far as Jackson, Patton, and the surrounding areas to worship here!

Marble Hill actively supports many local mission projects. Marble Hill actively supports The Amen Center, a local shelter with the mission of providing a place for people who are trying to help themselves get back on their feet. The Amen Center is housed in an old school building near a neighboring town. Besides supporting the Amen Center financially, folks from Marble Hill went to the Amen center to help paint and fix the property up at its beginning. Marble Hill also supports the local food pantry. Marble Hill sent an increase in food boxes, Hygiene kits, Dental kits, and cash donations to the Festival of Sharing this year! Again, Marble Hill has a heart for mission! Marble Hill UMC is one of the main churches people turn to for help in times of need because Marble Hill has a Benevolence fund and is known as a church who cares and who will help! That is not a bad way to be known!

The United Methodist Men at Marble Hill are preparing for their Annual Fish Supper. It is a big deal and many participate to make it happen. It is a time when I get to meet and invite several people to come and be a part of the church. It is a real good opportunity to get the church into the community! We are again planning for our annual Trunk or Treat. Again, it is a great opportunity to invite people to church and for people to receive information about the church in their treat bags! Marble Hill church had an Advent walk-through and for the first time in several years the Easter Passion Play production on the church grounds. Marble Hill uses all of these events as bridge events between the community and the church. For many, this may be their first exposure to the church. It is my job to work the crowd and meet people. This is another example of how the Marble Hill church is in the community and the community is in the church. There are many other ways, some of which I have surely missed, that Marble Hill is in the community, but hopefully, this is enough to convey the idea of just how vital a ministry the Marble Hill church offers in the Southeast district of Missouri.

Besides being in the community, Marble Hill also supports several missions beyond our community. Marble Hill church is in mission in Africa. Marble Hill has a long history of supporting “Heart of Africa.” Marble Hill supports this mission financially but has also sent people personally to be a part of this mission work in Africa. Marble Hill has supported Gideons International, Mozambique flooding, the PET project, Ferguson Church, Haiti Clean Water Project, Operation Christmas Child, and Heifer international this year. Marble Hill regularly sends out mission teams; one of the plans on the above mentioned growth plan is to prepare an emergency response trailer. Keep up the good work Marble Hill Church as you continue to make disciples in the uttermost parts of the world!

Marble Hill offers several faith building opportunities as well. Marble Hill offers Sunday School classes for all ages. We have four adult Sunday School classes and 4 children’s and youth classes. There are small group Bible Studies that take place from time to time. We have a youth group that meets each Wednesday night called “EPIC” to offer a short lesson, food, and fellowship. We also have a younger children’s group that meets on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday evenings called “JAMS” to offer the same to our children. JAMS has just undergone some changes with new people stepping up to lead this ministry. We have a good group of very creative children and youth leaders! We have a few laity who lead small group Bible Studies from time to time, and I lead Methodist 101 as needed.

My hope in providing this report is that those who read it will get a better sense of the vital ministry of the Marble United Methodist Church in a way that cannot always be detected when looking at stats. This is not a complete report of all the ways Marble has done ministry this year but is meant to celebrate some of the highlights of the year and to give the reader a flavor of the Marble Hill church. Marble Hill is one of a few congregations who are really making a difference in our world today, and I think that is worth celebrating! May God Bless you as we serve together!      

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thank you from your Pastor!

Thank you for your support of all the ministries of Marble Hill UMC. Thank you for your generous support of our monthly missions like Rainbow Network and the Christmas Shoe Boxes above and beyond your tithes and offerings to the church.

Your regular tithes and offerings support the behind the scenes but expected ministries and everyday functions of the church. Your regular tithes and offerings:

  1. Pay the staff to have a church office that you can come to for ministry needs throughout the week, and as a resource for much of what happens in the church.
  2. Provide for a pastor that can minister to you and lead the church in reaching out into the community.
  3. Insure that when you come into the church and flip a switch the lights come on and the ac/heat is there for your comfort as well.
  4. When you turn on a faucet the water flows.
  5. There is ample parking for members and visitors.
  6. The grass is mowed and the place is kept looking nice for visitors as well as regulars.
  7. Pay for the song books you use, the computers we use, the Sunday school literature that you use!
  8. Pay for a janitor to do some of the clean up for us as our building is used for ministry.
  9. Pay for general upkeep up our facility so that it is an attractive place for visitors and from which to do ministry.
  10. Pay for some of the administrative costs, building costs, and misc costs of doing much of the ministry we do in the community to provide a spiritual home for our community (as our mission statement says).

We don't talk about all these rather hidden costs much of the time, but your support makes all this happen every day and every week. Thank you for your support of all the ministries of our church. It is nice, as your pastor, to not have to be standing up here begging for money to do the ministry of the church!

Pastor Mike

Monday, October 5, 2015

From the blogger!

I offer these written outlines as versions of my sermons I do in the church where I serve at Marble Hill UMC.  My hope is that people who miss in attendance might be able to engage in the Lord through reading these.  I also offer them to you who may not ever attend Marble Hill UMC because of distance to the church or other reasons as an extended ministry of the church in the hope that they might touch you with the Love of God as well. I would like to offer a word of explanation. Sometimes the page set up and formatting is off; well, maybe most the time.  That is because, when I copy and past from my word processor programs, the formatting does not always transfer well.  I have found that to be a big job to go through and fix, so I usually do not.   Just read line by line and bear with me;  I think you will get the point.  May God bless you as you follow my blog!

                                                                                                   Pastor Mike

P.S.  You'll also find newsletter articles and other misc. entries I choose to post here from time to time.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Marble Hill UMC Growth Plans for 2013 and forward!

Phase I (now) (In no particular order!)
Work on Hospitality!
Revitalize Hospitality team to work on welcoming, connecting new people,
tracking visitors, and tracking absentees.

1. Develop from among us a worship leader to lead the contemporary music at the beginning of the service.
2. Work on ways the youth can take part.
3. Start Children’s Church after Children’s time. (Children do specials from time to time for the congregation, that will be worked up during Children’s church.)

Faith Development!
1. New Sunday School classes for groups between 19 & 30 yrs. old.
2. Continue working on youth ministries.
3. Start Nursery as needed.
4. Methodist 101 and Confirmation as needed.
5. Form a Care Team.

1. Work on mission activities for youth and adults.
2. Anoint with oil to send people out for mission!
3. Prepare emergency response trailer to send out with our VIM teams to places where tragedy strikes!

New Directory!

Phase II Hire, if still needed,  a contemporary worship leader to lead us in a couple songs at the beginning of the service and to work toward Phase III.

Phase III When we reach about 130 - 140 regularly, start two worship services.

1. Traditional service; around 8:30 a.m.  (Include more traditional elements such as Apostles Creed, Gloria Patri, etc.)
2. Sunday School; 9:30.
3. Contemporary Worship: 10:30 a.m.

Phase IV At this point, when we feel we are able,
1. Build addition, including Gym/multi-purpose room (can be used for additional fellowship space and worship space), bathrooms with showers, washer and dryer, and class rooms.
2. Put up new electronic sign.
3. Hire associate pastor/youth leader.