Bismarck Calvary United Methodist
Monday, November 30, 2015
A United Methodist Congregation




The sermons for September 2015 will be:

November 1 - "Purposeful Living" 1 Timothy 2  (Daylight Saving Time Ends)
November 8 - "Were You There?" Matthew 26 - Communion (CAT during 10:30 service)
November 15 - "Christian Vegetators" 2 Timothy 2  Appreciation Sunday & Potluck @ noon
November 22 - (Worship) This is a change from the Newsletter
November 25 - "A Sacrifice of Thanksgiving"  1 Thessalonians 5 & Psalms 116 (Thanksgiving Eve) 7 pm
November 29 - "Terrible Times" 2 Timothy 3
December 6 - "The Crowning" 2 Timothy 4


     This committee has requested that I inform the congregation of Calvary as to just what their responsibilities are.  So I turned to the “Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church” for the complete answer.  It comes from paragraph 258.

     First, everyone on this committee is to be a professing member of the local church.  This section first addresses the character and habits of committee members.  It says, “People serving on this committee must be engaged in and be attentive to their Christian spiritual development as to give proper leadership in the responsibilities with which the committee is entrusted”.  A booklet on this subject suggests that this means, “S/PPRC members should be Christian spiritual leaders who demonstrate regular worship attendance, small group participation, Bible study, and regular generous giving.  These practices are essential for committee members to bring integrity to the leadership of this ministry.” 

     The committee’s duties are spelled out over three plus pages in the “Discipline”.  I share their duties here in an abbreviated form:

  1. Encourage, strengthen, nurture, support, and respect the pastor and staff and their families.

  2. Promote unity in the church.

  3. Confer with and council the pastor and staff on the matters pertaining to the effectiveness of ministry; relationships with the congregation; the pastor’s health and self-care, etc.

  4. Confer with, consult, and counsel the pastor and staff on matters pertaining to priorities in the use of gifts, skills, and time and priorities for the demands and effectiveness of the mission of the congregation.

  5. Provide evaluation at least annually for the use of the pastor and staff in an ongoing effective ministry and identifying continuing education needs and plans.

  6. Communicate and interpret to the congregation the nature and function of ministry in the UMC regarding open itinerancy, the preparation for ordained ministry, etc.

  7. Develop and approve written job descriptions and titles for staff in cooperation with the senior pastor.

  8. Consult with pastor and staff concerning continuing education, work-life balance, dimensions of personal health and wellness and spiritual renewal and arrangements for necessary time and finances for these occasions,

  9. Enlist, interview, evaluate, review and recommend annually to the charge conference lay preachers and persons for candidacy for ordained ministry.

  10. Interpret preparation for ordained ministry to the congregation.

  11. Confer with pastor or other staff if it should become evident that the best interests of the charge and pastor or staff will be served by a change.

  12. Recommend to the church council, after consultation with the pastor, the professional and other staff positions needed to carry out the work of the church.

  13. Recommend to the charge conference, when the size of the employed staff of the charge makes it desirable, to establishment of a personnel committee.

  14. Educate the congregation on the value of diversity…… 

  15. Keep themselves informed of personnel matters in relationship to the Church’s policy, professional standards, liability issues, and civil law.

  16. Consult on matters of pulpit supply, proposals for compensation, travel expenses, vacation, health and life insurance, pension, housing and other practical matters affecting the work and families of the pastor and staff, and to make annual recommendations regarding such matters to the church council.

  17. Encourage, monitor, and support clergy and lay staff pursuit of health and wholeness.


         I hope this gives everyone an idea of what this committee’s responsibilities are.  Following the church’s charge conference, we will inform you as to who the members of this committee are for 2016.


"P. A. F"

     Today's thoughts focus on three very important qualities.  I hope they encourage us to do likewise.

"P" - Priorities:

     A woman bought a parrot to keep her company but returned it the next day, "This bird doesn't talk," she told the owner.

     "Does he have a mirror in his cage?" he asked. "Parrots love mirrors.  They see their reflection and start a conversation."  The woman bought a mirror and left.

     The next day she returned; the bird still wasn't talking.  "How about a ladder? Parrots love ladders.  A happy parrot is a talkative parrot."  The woman bought a ladder and left.

     But the next day, she was back. "Does your parrot have a swing? No?  Well, that's the problem.  Once he starts swinging, he'll talk up a storm."  The woman reluctantly bought a swing and left.

     When she walked into the store the next day, her countenance had changed. "The parrot died," she said.  The pet store owner was shocked.

     "I'm so sorry.  Tell me, did he ever say a word?" he asked.

     "Yes, right before he died," the woman replied, "in a weak voice, he asked me, 'Don't they sell any food at that pet store?'"

     Sometimes people forget the main thing.              Leadership

"A" - Accountability:

     One day, when I was a 14-year-old high school freshman, school was dismissed early for a teachers' meeting.  I conveniently neglected to tell my parents about the change and arranged to bring my girlfriend over to my house.  We weren't planning to study.

     As we were going up the steps, my neighbor, Mrs. Nolan, poked her head out of a window and said, "You're home awfully early, Jerome."

     "Yes, Ma'am," I said, improvising a lame story about how we had planned to review algebra problems.

     "Does your mother know you're home this early," Mrs. Nolan persisted, "and do you want me to call her?"

     I gave up.  "No, Ma'am. I'll go inside and call her while Kathy sits on the porch."

     Mrs. Nolan saved our careers that day.  If Kathy had gotten pregnant, she might not have become the doctor she is today.  And my father had warned me that if I made a baby, the mutual fund he set up for me to go to college or start a business would have gone to the child.  I'm glad Mrs. Nolan was at her window, looking out for me.                  Jawanza Kunjufu in Restoring the Village

"F" - Faithfulness:

     While I was preaching one Sunday, an elderly woman, Mary, fainted and struck her head on the end of the pew.  Immediately, an EMT in the congregation called an ambulance.

     As they strapped her to a stretcher and got ready to head out the door, Mary regained consciousness.  She motioned for her daughter to come near.  Everyone thought she was summoning her strength to convey what could be her final words.  The daughter leaned over until her ear was at her mother's mouth.

     "My offering is in my purse," she whispered.                    Eric Hulstrand, Binford, North Dakota



     Members of Calvary:  Have you looked around yourselves lately?  We have an extremely large percentage of SENIORS in our midst.  Are we ministering to their needs and are they doing anything in service to the Lord our God?  Yes, some are serving the Lord and we may be meeting the spiritual needs of some through worship, Sunday school and choir (which is in need of a director if it is going to continue).  But, a much larger percentage of our “mature seniors” are sitting on the sidelines. 

     We need a vital SENIORS MINISTRY.  A ministry that meets the spiritual needs of these not so young individuals and couples who truly do still have XYZ (Xtra Years of Zest) left, if only it was tapped.    

     I would like to have a discussion of the possibilities of what we can do to utilize the many gifts of these Seniors for the Lord as well as meet their spiritual, emotional and physical needs within and even outside our congregation as these Seniors reach out to others (like all the condo and townhouse dwellers who live near the church).  What is it that you would like to see happen?  What spiritual exercise would you like to get involved in?  How can we bring excitement into the lives of our Seniors?  How can we help them to reach out into our community with the love of Christ?

     Let’s talk about it:                        Friday, September 11, 2015

Calvary United Methodist Fellowship Hall (Basement)

12:00 pm (Noon) Potluck Lunch (to meet our physical need)

     Come with a potluck item to share and ideas of what we can do to meet the need in our midst.  You might also come with some name ideas for this group to give us a new start.  Hint: My suggestion for a name is somewhere in this article.



     What is happening for youth at Calvary?

     Sunday school is starting up again on Sunday, September 13, 2015 beginning at 9:15 am with a snack in Fellowship Hall.  There will be singing, lessons, videos and maybe even hand bells, depending on the age group that each child is in.  There are also plans for a Christmas Program, and visits to the Pumpkin Patch, Polar Patch, sledding, caroling and who knows what else.  Do not miss out.

     CAT (Children’s Activity Time) will also be back every second Sunday during the 10:30 am worship service in which the children will have their own time downstairs in the Fellowship Hall. They always have a lot of fun.

     Calvary Computer Club will not have a class this fall, but the next class is going to begin in September 2016.  Look forward to enrolling in this exciting program.

     Confirmation Class is going to be put on the back burner until we can have a larger group of young people.  Thus, the class will be scheduled for the fall of 2017 when we should be able to at least have a class of six to eight young people.

     AWANA will begin again on Wednesday, September 16, 2015.  Supper will again be offered for the young people and leaders of AWANA beginning at 5:30 pm, come and join us.  AWANA will then begin as usual at 6:00 pm.  There will be a few changes in the program as well as helpers this year and so we are looking forward to another great year.  If you would like to help out with AWANA in any way, please contact Pastor or Beckie Dronen.  We will have an AWANA training session for ALL LEADERS on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at 6:30 pm.  See you then.

     Pastor’s Note:  I will also be teaching a Sunday school class beginning on September 20, 2015 in the Sanctuary.  The class will be guided by the book “The Call” by Adam Hamilton and covers the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul.  Sign up in the church entry if you would like to have a book for this class (book in not required to attend).


      Personal integrity or character is a virtue that daily seems to be under attack.  More and more people seem to lay it aside in order to attain some personal advantage (either real or perceived).  A survey by the Ethics Officers Association and the American Society of Chartered Life Underwriters and Chartered Financial Consultants revealed that (48) forty-eight percent of American workers admit to taking unethical or illegal actions in the past year.  USA TODAY listed the five most common types of unethical/illegal behavior that workers say that have engaged in because of pressure: 

                     *Cut corners on quality control 

                     *Covered up incidents 

                     *Abused or lied about sick days 

                     *Lied to or deceived customers 

                     *Put inappropriate pressure on others.

      Just how close to home does this kind of thing come?  We are no different than any other community - for this lack of character and personal integrity can be found here as well.  Oh, we tell ourselves that the infractions are small like getting a bulletin from another church while out of town to keep our perfect attendance for Sunday School, but once we have the bulletin we don't need to stay for the whole service. 

      But small infractions always lead to great things.  Take, for instance, the report in US TODAY that says that scientists now say that a series of slits, not a giant gash, sank the Titanic.  The opulent, 900-foot cruise ship sank in 1912 on its first voyage from England to New York.  Fifteen hundred people died in the worst maritime disaster of the time.  The most widely held theory was that the ship hit an iceberg, which opened a huge gash in the side of the liner.  But an international team of divers and scientists recently used sound waves to probe the wreckage, buried in the mud under two-and-a-half miles of water.  Their discovery?  The damage was surprisingly small.  Instead of the huge gash, they found six relatively narrow slits across the six watertight holds.  Small damage, invisible to most, can sink not only a ship but a great reputation.

      Proverbs 10:9 says, "He who walks in integrity walks securely, but, he who perverts his ways will be found out."  It is true, just like six small slits sunk the Titanic so will the small things we do eventually be found out.  Oh, it seems that some people can get away with it forever. I personally get so frustrated when I see individuals fooling most of the people in their lives.  But they will not fool the Lord.  Some day they will be found out - I pray that it not be too late for them to rectify the damage.

      Andrew Entwistle, a captain in the U.S. Army, said, "Integrity is like virginity - once you lose it, it's gone for good..."   What he said is true.   Once integrity is gone you will have to live with the consequences of that the rest of your life.  But what he didn't say, is that in Jesus Christ our integrity can once again be restored.  Jesus is forgiving, and our sins can be washed away and buried forever.  But, people are usually not divine in their forgiveness.  To them, our restored integrity will have to be proved over time.  So let us guard our integrity and be fully aware that there are those around us who seek to deceive.



     Graduation exercises have now passed us by.  It is always exciting to have finished one accomplishment and looking forward to another.  But, just what is the direction to now take can be a most trying decision.

     One Sunday a preacher told how, sitting in his garden, he had watched a caterpillar climb a painted stick that was for decoration.  After reaching the top, the caterpillar reared itself, feeling this way and that for a juicy twig to feed on, or some way to further progress.  Finding nothing, it slowly returned to the ground, crawled along till it reached another painted stick, and did the same thing all over again.  This happened several times.

     The preacher said: "There are many painted sticks in the world - those of pleasure, wealth, power, fame.  All these call to man and say, 'Climb me to find the desire of your heart, fulfill the purpose of your existence, taste the fruit of success, and find satisfaction, but they are only painted sticks'."

     Solomon tried to find the purpose of his life in the world's painted sticks.  He gave his heart to seek wisdom, but learned that it was "vanity and vexation of spirit" (Ecclesiastes 1:15).

      He then turned to the pleasures of the world for meaning in life.  He built great houses, gardens, and pools.  He had servants and maidens; in fact, all that a man could desire.  Solomon's comment on pleasure as a true source of happiness, however, was, "all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

     After trying all that the world could offer, Solomon's final decision was, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  fear God, and keep His commandments:  for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

     This came oh so clear some years ago to a young graduate who reported to a law office for training or apprenticeship.  The senior lawyer who hired him quickly indoctrinated him in the office routine.  Then the young lawyer sat at his desk and carried on this conversation with himself:

            "What are you going to do when you finish your apprenticeship?"

            "Hang out my shingle and practice law, of course!"

            "What then?"

            "Why, make a lot of money!"

            "What then?"

            "When I get rich I shall retire."

            "What then?"

            "Well, I'll die."

            "What then?"

     His whole body trembling, Charles G. Finney rushed out of the office and ran to a park some few hundred yards distant.  He remained there in prayer, vowing that he would not return to his office or to his room until he had settled his life's work.  He saw himself as he was - selfish, ambitious, and sinful.  And he gave himself to the Lord for Him to use.  Leaving the park, Finney stepped forth, in faith in God, to a life of usefulness rarely paralleled in the last two centuries.

     Are you in the days ahead going to be chasing "Painted Sticks?"  Or will you find something much more beneficial to do with your life?

(Charles Finney (1792–1875) was an American Presbyterian minister and leader in the Second Great Awakening in the United States.)



            Did you consider the church membership responsibilities and expectations from Adam Hamilton’s book, “Leading Beyond the Walls” that I shared last month? Let me refresh your memory:
“1) Attend worship every weekend unless you are sick or out of town (members who travel out of town are encouraged to attend services in the location they are visiting).
 2) Participate in at least one activity each year aimed at helping you grow in your faith apart from worship attendance (Sunday school, Bible study, retreats or other short-term classes we offer).
 3) Give your time in Christian service at least once each year through the ministry of the church.
 4) Give financially in proportion to your income with the goal of tithing.”
            In this book Adam asked another very important question, “To Whom Does Our Church Belong”? He says that until we get the answer right we will always struggle as a church.
            It may surprise you to learn that the church does not belong to the bishop, the denomination, the pastor, the church staff, the lay leadership or even the trustees. The church does not even belong to the church members. In fact, Adam says the church belongs to Jesus Christ – He is it’s owner.

            Since Jesus is the owner we need to do things that Jesus wants us to do and that obviously is “seek out and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). In order for us to know what that means for us as a church means that we must seek out Christ in prayer, in fact, everything we do as a church must be surrounded by prayer in order that we may be fulfilling God’s will for us as a church. If every member of our church followed through with prayer, we would have a church with strong vital signs. Are we not only ready to be the member that God wants us to be but also have a passion to do what Jesus wants us to do?


"God's Working"

     How often do we recognize God at work?  It should be an everyday occurrence, but many times it probably is not.  It happens in every day affairs.

     Some men were once repairing high-tension lines after a storm.  The new poles they were using were "green" and thus able to conduct electricity.

     While working in the rain, they hoisted such a support where it could be dropped into the hole dug for it.  Trying to be helpful, one man thoughtlessly seized the end in order to guide it.

     Suddenly one of the workers made a run for him and knocked him sprawling.  He arose from the sloppy street - muddy and ready for a fight.  But his attacker pointed aloft to where the damp wooden shaft had contacted the power line carrying 33,000 volts of electricity.

     Said the rescued man, "Had my friend not taken such quick action I would have been a goner.  Yes, Slim saved my life, but he had to knock me over to do it."

     So too, the Lord often has to strike down sinners, as He did Saul, to get them to listen to His voice.  Has God been working in your life, even having to go to the point of some rough treatment in order to get your attention?

      Of course, God also works through other people to accomplish the necessary in our lives.

     There is an old Sufi story about a blind man and a crippled man who stumbled into each other in a forest.

     They were both lost, and they struck up a conversation sharing their sad stories.

     The blind man said, "I cannot see to find my way out."

     The crippled man nodded and responded, "I cannot get up to walk out."

     As they sat there sadly talking, the crippled man cried out, "I've got it!  You hoist me up onto your shoulders and I will tell you where to walk."  Together, they found their way out of the forest.

     "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!'  And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!'.... If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it" (I Corinthians 12:26-27).

     All of us are like the two men in the forest.  We need help from time to time.  The pressures of the world, the discouragements of life, and the sin that entangles get us down.  We struggle to find out way back to the light - back to the right way.  We need help!  That's why God gives us a church family.  Each of us has a gift to share to build up the body of Christ.  Each of us can offer an encouraging work to a discouraged or struggling member.  Each of us can live our faith as a witness to the world.  I can't do it myself.  You can't do it by yourself.  But, together, we can make a difference!

     The Lord still needs your gifts!  Yes, there are things that need to be done here at Calvary.

     We have all of the following positions immediately available for anyone to carry out ministry for the Lord here at Calvary United Methodist Church:

Ø  Church Offering Counters - Call the office.

Ø  Prayer Partners – Just come to the Prayer Room on Sunday before church.

Ø  Christian Education Coordinator & Assistant Christian Education Coordinator & Teachers for 3 year-olds to 5th grade. Without these there will be no Sunday school for children.  Please contact the church office.

Ø  AWANA leaders and listeners are needed. Please contact the church office, Pastor or Beckie Dronen, our Commander.

Ø  Worship Leaders and Worship Team Members to help out in the services.

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list of what we need to make an impact for our Lord in our community through our church.  Is the Lord calling you?

     The Dakotas Conference this year sparked a lot of thought like, do I want to lead a dying congregation or a vital and growing congregation?  Well, of course, the latter but that means things are going to have to change because anything growing changes constantly.  To stay the same is to die a slow death.

     With this in mind, I have been reading our main speaker’s book, “Leading Beyond the Walls”.  It has some very interesting concepts.  I would like to share a couple.

     For one thing, to grow as a church he says that we need to pay close attention to the little things.  A visitor begins to form impressions of us before they even get out of the car as they view the appearance of our church, the grounds, the signs and even the availability of visitor parking close to the entrance.  Cheerful and caring greeters and ushers are also a vital necessity to make sure visitors are welcomed and know where to go as they enter the building.  Is everything clearly marked?  The narthex needs to be appealing and have a special information station (even better if it is manned). The entry should be appealing and bathrooms neat and clean.  Above all, are paint, carpet and walls in good condition and is everything well lit and cheerful?

     Second, I find his ideas on church membership intriguing.  He says that church membership comes with responsibilities and expectations.  He says the first expectation is that once someone becomes a member they are no longer allowed to park near the church or in visitor parking, but leave those spaces for visitors.  He says that like marriage, membership is a sign of commitment.  What does that mean?  It means fulfilling the membership vows we take as Methodists “to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness”.  That means that as a member of the church we make the following commitment:

“1) Attend worship every weekend unless you are sick or out of town (members who travel out of town are encouraged to attend services in the location they are visiting).

2)   Participate in at least one activity each year aimed at helping you grow in your faith apart from worship attendance (Sunday school, Bible study, retreats or other short-term classes we offer).

3)   Give your time in Christian service at least once each year through the ministry of the church.

4)   Give financially in proportion to your income with the goal of tithing.”

     If every member of our church followed through on these responsibilities, we would have a church with strong vital signs.  But if we don’t, we will struggle to even have life.  Are we ready to be the member that God wants us to be?