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  • Pastor Don Zlaty

First Connection August 2023

Consumers, Practical Atheists, and Followers of Jesus . . . . . . . . A note from Pastor Don


In America, over 220 million people claim to follow Jesus Christ. That amounts to almost 61% of our entire country’s population. This should be good news and yet only about 20 percent of this number attend a church service at least once a month. Christianity today has lost its way. Many people have forgotten how to live through the teachings of Jesus; they have forgotten that they are to die to their old selves only to pick up a new life through Christ. Christians today fall into three categories: The practical atheist, the consumer, and the genuine followers of Christ. Two of the three categories are spectators of the Christian faith while those who follow Christ are doers of the faith. As a Christian, we should be aware of how our actions quantify the way we experience our faith. Here is a brief breakdown of the characteristics of each category.


Practical Atheists:

The practical atheist declares that they believe in God. They may also say they believe in Jesus as well. Sadly, that is as far as they go in terms of living out their faith in Christ. The practical atheist can melt into any gathering, demonstrate an appropriate level of worship and Christian fellowship, and say what people want to hear concerning their position on things like grace, salvation, God, etc… What is missing is that there is no divine evidence of transformation in their lives. They live as they wish, do what they want, treat people however is advantageous to them or their agenda, and they do this all under the guise that they are “Good Christians.” When confronted, the practical atheist will be insulted or devoid of the ability of spiritual accountability. Many practical atheists are men. Men struggle with the idea of submitting to God. Many men have grown up being taught the “tough guy” lessons of showing strength at all costs and suppressing one’s emotions as much as possible. Following Jesus is difficult because it requires us to be vulnerable to God; to submit ourselves to Christ, and to follow the directions of the Holy Spirit.


The Consumers:

Consumers are the largest segment of Christians in America. Consumers will take portions of the faith they like and discard the things they find uncomfortable to deal with. Consumers find all sorts of worldly excuses as to why they cannot participate fully in their faith. They are too busy, too tired, too something or another. This consumer mentality extends to what a person believes as well. For example, Christian consumers pick and choose how to interpret God’s word and how to obey Christ’s commands. We have seen this happen in our own churches in this very district. All of this “consumeriz-ing” has left us scattered and broken apart. When a consumer decides they don’t like something, they simply move somewhere else that provides their desires. This is dangerous as accountability often chases the consumer away. Spiritual growth stops when we pick and choose God’s lessons.


Followers of Christ:

Only two percent of Christians in America today follow Jesus with all their hearts, minds, and strength. This is about 880,000 people. A follower of Christ loves like Jesus, serves like Jesus, has empathy and compassion like Jesus, are selfless like Jesus, generous like Jesus, and they embrace the transformation that comes to them through the Holy Spirit. Followers of Jesus know peace, have hope, experience joy, and share the love that only knowing Jesus can bring. A follower of Jesus gives of their time, talent, and treasure because it is an honor to serve our Lord and Savior. Followers of Jesus change the world around them through their witness and commitment to Christ.


As members of First UMC, I pray that we all seek to be followers of Christ. No matter what we start off as we can always turn to the Holy Spirit to help us change. My challenge to all of you brothers and sisters of Christ is that you look into the spiritual mirror of your faith and assess what group you belong to. Once this is done, ask God to guide you to where he wants you to be. Remember that you are loved and belong to God.


In His service always,

Pastor Don


 

MISSIONS


Second Sunday Giving for August is C’ville Blessing Boxes. Items needed are canned food, soup, crackers, boxed potatoes & creamy peanut butter. Items will be placed in the Blessing Boxes throughout the community and must be non-perishable. These items are used by families in need and also homeless people in search of something to eat. Please keep this in mind when you donate your items.


 

THANK YOU:

I want to thank my church family for all the cards, calls and visits during the last couple of months. I’m feeling better and my family is taking good care of me.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Saranne



Thanks to all who helped me celebrate my birthday with cake and many cards. And, on a sad note, all who sent condolence cards and came to the calling and service of my sister-

in-law, Martha B. Wicker.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jim



A huge thank you to George and Carol Henry, Nate and Rachel Pfeiffer and Tara and Jason

Madden for finding a solution to clear out the clinic rooms! All the medical equipment, supplies, and furniture were donated to FAME, a world-wide Christian organization that provides medical evangelism. FAME was thrilled with the donation and we know that it will be used to help with medical needs and show the light of Christ.


Thank you also to the Trustees, Pastor Don and Jackie for all your help.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gina and Steve

 

· NEEDED: Volunteers to serve the community meal provided the second Sunday of each month. If you are interested but would like someone else to help, please contact the church office and Ava will be happy to help coordinate this effort. This is an important part of our church outreach! Sign-up sheets are located at the back of the sanctuary.

· We are collecting aluminum cans to help sponsor a fundraiser for our local Cancer Society. Bagged cans may be dropped off by the sign at his residence 725 W. 29th Street.

· NEEDED: Volunteers to host the Hospitality Room on Sunday mornings. Just need to bring breakfast snacks i.e., donuts, fruit, cookies, muffins…….. Sign- up sheet is located on the table in the Hospitality Room.

· Women of Faith: Formerly known as the UMW, are accepting GOOD, GENTLY USED items for their next indoor/outdoor sale. If you have things that you don’t use anymore, please consider donating them. Proceeds from the sale help support their mission projects. Items may be brought to the church throughout working hours.

· The Franklin County Retired Teachers Association are once again trying to build their scholarship funds by collecting gently used shoes. The shoes will be boxed and shipped elsewhere for distribution to needy families. In return, the FCRTA will receive funds for however many pounds of shoes that are shipped. These shoes may be any style, baby shoes, flip flops, heels to boots. If you have any questions, please contact our office at 765-825-8506 The shoes may be dropped off at the church.

· Teacher Bonanza is August 12th from 9:00am till Noon, on the parking lot of the church. If anyone would like to volunteer to help hand out supplies, please contact our office.




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