NOVEMBER, 2016

A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of Root Beer and he started his journey.
When he had gone about three blocks, he met an elderly man. The man was sitting in the park just feeding some pigeons.
The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the man looked hungry, so he offered him a Twinkie.
The man gratefully accepted it and smiled at boy. His smile was so pleasant that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered him a root beer. Again, the man smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.
As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the man, and gave him a hug. The man gave him his biggest smile ever.
When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy?
“He replied, “I had lunch with God.” But before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? God’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”
Meanwhile, the elderly man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home. His son was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked,” Dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?”
He replied, “I ate Twinkies in the park with God.” However, before his son responded, he added,” You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”
As we enter this month of feast, friends and family, let’s remember those who may have an abundance of need. We can then take the opportunity to share the blessings we have received, and we may find a glimpse into the face of God and a good way to say thanks for all God has given to us!

Blessings
Charlie

OCTOBER, 2016

A few years ago the Birmingham, Alabama, paper had a headline on the sports page: “The Most Exciting Moment Of My Life.” It showed a picture of Jack Nicklaus writing out a $5,000 check for charity. As a matter of fact, it was second $5,000 check that day. It happened because of a game of golf he lost.
A man by the name of Charley Boswell lives in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1937. He was the captain of the Alabama football team that played in the 1938 Rose Bowl. In World War II he was a captain in the infantry. He stepped on a land mine and blew his eyes out. Charley Boswell is stone cold blind! But for nine holes of golf he can shoot par golf. He hits a ball he can’t even see. The caddy rattles the pin in the cup, and the noise tells him where to putt. How does he do that? He said, “Holding mental pictures.”
Jack Nicklaus went to Birmingham to help raise money for a Boys’ Ranch and gave $5,000. They had a banquet to honor Nicklaus for helping the fund-raiser and for his $5,000 check. Halfway through the meal, Charley Boswell stood at a table in the back of the room. “Mr. Nicklaus, they tell me you play a little golf.” There was silence. “Yes, I’ve been known to play a round or two.” “So do I, and I think I can beat you! I’ll play you nine holes of golf. If you can beat me, I’ll give $5,000 to the Boys’ Club. And, if I beat you, you give another $5,000. And to make the contest fun, exciting, and fair, you choose the course where we play, and I’ll choose the time we play.”
Guess what time Charley chose? Night, of course. The Birmingham paper had a full length picture of Nicklaus writing out his second $5,000 check. The headline said “The Most Exciting Moment Of My Life.” Someone asked him about that headline. Why had he made that statement? “You have won every trophy, award, honor, accolade. Why would this be so exciting?” Nicklaus replied “I met a person today who refuses to let fear control his life.
Psalm 27 states: 1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?” It is amazing what we can overcome when we do not let fear reign in our life, but we trust in the one whose light will break up any darkness we face!!
Blessings,
Charlie

SEPTEMBER 2016

An anonymous writer tells the story: “A man who was commissioned to paint a picture of the Prodigal Son. He went into his work fervently, laboring to produce a picture worthy of telling the story. Finally, the day came when the picture was complete, and he unveiled the finished painting. The scene was set outside the father’s house, and showed the open arms of each as they were just about to meet and embrace. The man who commissioned the work was well pleased, and was prepared to pay the painter for his work, when he suddenly noticed a detail that he had missed. Standing out in the painting above everything else in the scene, was the starkly apparent fact that the father was wearing one red shoe and one blue shoe. He was incredulous. How could this be, that the painter could make such an error? He asked the painter, and the man simply smiled and nodded, assuring the man, “Yes, this is a beautiful representation of the love of God for His children.” “What do you mean?” he asked, puzzled. “The father in this picture was not interested in being color-coordinated or fashion-conscious when he went out to meet his son. In fact, he was in such a hurry to show his love to his son, he simply reached and grabbed the nearest two shoes that he could find. “He is the God of the Unmatched Shoes.’”

The Good News for us is that God loves all His children, not because we have earned it, not because we deserve it but because He is an awesome and gracious God. I personally think that this would be a great picture of God, unmatched shoes and all!!

Blessings, Charlie

Pastor’s Note – August, 2016

PASTOR’S NOTE

Yes, you will notice that the picture is different than what it has been in the past. There is a new kid, I wish, on the block. I am grateful to be here, and I am grateful for the welcome that I have received since I moved here. I look forward to some exciting things that we will be doing together.

Speaking of togetherness, my esteemed District Superintendent, Terry Harter, included his story in this book, “Perceptions” Volume 2: “I am absolutely fascinated by one of our national treasures, the great redwood trees on the west coast. The huge redwood trees in California are considered the largest living things on earth and the tallest trees in the world. Some of them are 300 feet high and are over 2500 years old. One would think that trees so large would have a tremendous root system reaching down hundreds of feet into the earth. The redwoods actually have a very shallow system of roots, but they all intertwine. They are locked to each other. When the storms come or the winds blow, the redwoods stand. They are locked to each other, and they don’t stand alone, for all the trees support and protect each other. Just as the great redwoods weren’t designed to stand alone, neither are we so designed. We have been created to be in relationship-relationship with God, and relationship with each other! No person is an island. We need the support and care of one another.”

Considering what we have heard and seen in the news over the past several weeks, it seems apparent that the winds are blowing and the storms are hitting us pretty hard. I believe the story gives us wise advice. It is time for us as a nation, as Christian’s, as people in a very hurting world to intertwine ourselves. To seek unity to work together to throw away division and differences and do whatever we have to link ourselves with God and one another and begin to work for love and peace! Philippians 4:4-9 tells us (NIV) 4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8. Finally, brotherd, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God peace will be with you.” Linked with God, our Lord, and one another let us seek what is good, and find God’s peace.

Blessings,

Charlie

INTRODUCTION TO REVEREND CHARLES MCDONALD

Hello!

My name is Pastor Charlie McDonald. I am coming from the Rantoul, IL First United Methodist Church, where I have served for the past 2 years.

I am originally from Edwardsville, IL. I graduated from McKendree College and graduated from seminary at Methodist Theological School in Ohio. I served several charges during seminary. During my 40 years in ministry I have served several charges. When coming back to Illinois, I served the Shipman Charge, Ramsey Charge, the Irvington and Richview churches, the Immanual United Methodist Church in Olney; and was interim pastor at Marshall and Gillespie. I served the First United Methodist Church of Fairbury for six years and served the Fairfield First UMC for 3 years before serving at Rantoul First UMC for the past two years.

At the conference level, I serve on the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Bishop’s Task Force for Conflict Transformation.

At 61 years old, I am a divorced father of three daughters-Elise lives in Bloomington, IL; Jessica lives in Olney, IL; and Jennifer lives in Columbus IN. I have two grandchildren Zoey and Eli, and a grandchild on the way.

I believe I am a very relational person. I enjoy being with people; being involved in community activities and organizations. I have a heart for mission and outreach, Bible study, being creative in my preaching and worship styles; working as a team in ministry and administration; and helping church leaders grow and develop.

I enjoy traveling, fishing, golf, walking, bike riding, and most importantly, being a Grandpa!

I am looking forward to this new appointment, and I hope we can serve many years together in ministry for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Reverend Charles McDonald

PASTOR’S NOTE: JUNE, 2016

As many of you know, I will be retiring at the end of this month so this will be my last note to you. The impending arrival of that new chapter in my life and ministry has led me to put together some reflections on retirement.
There’s a verse (Mark 10:29-30) I like where Jesus says, “anyone who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children…for me and for the good news will receive a hundred times more houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children…” To me that verse has always meant that itinerant ministry is more about addition than subtraction. Yes, we give up many attachments to people and places by moving around so much, and yes we lost a little of ourselves to every place we serve, but we also gain something of each of them; each of you, and in the end we come out more than ahead. I have found it so. I now have friends in many places, including here, who I would have never met, much less known, if not for the ministry. For that I will forever be grateful.
Thinking back, I could have missed all that. I say that because I always hated public speaking, or more truthfully, feared it. But my pastor, when I was in college, told me, “If you have something important enough to say, God will help you find a way to say it.” For 45 years God always has, because there is nothing I can think of which is more important to say than the gospel.
Speaking of those 45 years, they have gone by way, way too fast! It seems like only yesterday when I started and in some ways, I wish I were at the first of them again rather than the last of them. But then again, retirement is a new beginning, and I don’t believe God is through with me yet. I like to write, and of course throughout my ministry we’re often writing on short deadlines, leaving the end result a little less organized than we might prefer. It reminds me of Hawkeye Pierce’s description of their operations on the old “MASH” television series as “meatball surgery”, meaning the best they could do given the urgency of the situation. Now with a little more time, I’d like to go back and rework some of my own “meatball sermons and such”.
Barb and I will be moving to Lake St. Louis, Missouri, near where our son and his family live. Thank you for what you have given me of you to take with us. What I leave of myself, I leave gladly.

Pastor Dan

PASTOR’S NOTE: MAY, 2016

This is the time of year when those of us with inside jobs envy those with outside ones. Sitting in cramped offices while nature blooms is not only confining, it just feels unnatural. It seems we were made for spring. Something within us is too big to be kept indoors forever.

All of which makes me think that Pentecost, which comes this month, is kind of the soul’s equivalent of spring, because just as God sent his Spirit to push the disciples out of their locked rooms into a world primed to burst into new life, I believe God’s Spirit is still enticing us out of the small spaces in which we, unfortunately, spend far too many of our days, and into a world poised to blossom and bloom with God’s new growth.

In effect, the Spirit asks us if we would rather continue breathing the stale air of self-centeredness or enjoy the wonderful expansiveness of a loving and generous life? Are we really happy confining ourselves within the small perimeters of prejudice or do we want to learn to embrace all the offspring of the Father and Creator of this earth? Do we want to limit ourselves to speaking a language only people who think like us understand, or are we eager to find a to communicate in a language every human heart can comprehend?

Like the disciples at the first Pentecost, we might be surprised at how good it feels to open our closed doors and follow the movement of God’s spirit outside. Then others can envy us until they, too, join us in a world springing with God’s new life all around us!
Pastor Dan

PASTOR’S NOTE: APRIL, 2016

In the recent Academy Awards, Leonard DeCaprio won “Best Actor” honors for his role in the movie “The Revenant”. I haven’t seen the picture yet, but the title alone intrigues me. That’s because “revenant” means “one who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead”, which the main character in the movie does.
I find that intriguing because it makes me think that “The Revenant” is a title which could also apply to the story of early Christianity after Easter! That’s because another “revenant”, namely Jesus Christ, returned from the dead; only in his case it wasn’t “supposedly”. Instead Christ returned from death’s domain to shock a world which had assumed they had seen the last of him and his followers. They were wrong about that in both cases. Jesus proved it first of all by appearing to his disciples in unexpected ways and places over the first few weeks after his resurrection, and the disciples confirmed the fact by continuing his work and claiming him courageously in the years to come. Doing so, they and “the revenant’s” followers since have changed our world forever!
Even that however was not the end of the story of Easter’s “revenant”. The best part of all is that all of us can be “revenants”, too! Because of Christ’s resurrection, death can’t keep us from returning any more than it could the original “Revenant”.
So go watch the movie “The Revenant” if you want. I hear it’s a good one. But if you want to be a “revenant” come to church and meet the “Revenant” who can make you a “revenant”, too.

Pastor Dan

MARCH 2016 PASTORS NOTE

If you’ve looked ahead on the calendar, you know that Easter comes early this year; in fact as early as it will be until the year 2035. This is because, unlike some of our other holidays, such as Christmas or Valentine’s day for example, Easter has no fixed date. Instead it varies anywhere from March 22nd to April 25th. The reason for that is more complicated than I want to go into for now. However, I think one of the unintentional benefits of its variability is that it matches the real life experience of Jesus’ first disciples!

I say that because for them, too, Easter did not occur on the same day. Mary Magdalene and the other women saw the risen Lord early on Sunday morning. Peter, John and other disciples saw him later that same day; but Thomas’ Easter didn’t come, we are told, until a week later. For still others, the book of Acts describes a forty day period in which Jesus revealed himself before he ascended. Even after that, Paul had to wait several more years for his own Easter on the Damascus Road.

All of which ought to tell us that for ourselves, too, Easter will depend less on when the calendar says it ought to be and more on when we personally encounter the living Lord in our own lives. For some of us who have already met him, those two dates may coincide. However, if for some reason in your case they don’t and Easter delays past when this year’s early date says it should be, don’t be discouraged. The important thing is that early or later, it one day arrives. I believe someday you will meet the living Lord, too. When you do, whatever date the calendar says it is, that day will be your Easter.

I hope it is sooner but whenever it is, Happy Easter! The Lord is risen indeed. Yes, he is.

Pastor Dan