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Rev. Ben Strength

Take time to pray ...


When do you take time to pray, reflect and let God’s spirit speak to you? I hope that you find time each day for God to fill your hearts with His love and guidance. I do take the time, almost every morning. I find that my soul is at rest and peace, even in the midst of the difficulties of day-to-day living, if I make time to talk to God. I need His presence in my life in order to maintain my sanity and my spiritual condition as a follower of Christ. I know that I need to be aware of God every day of my journey towards eternity in His presence.
           I do love to wake up early enough in the morning to see the world wake up around me. If mornings aren’t your “thing”, and I do know that early mornings are not for everyone, you could try a short prayer in the morning and save your serious prayer and reflection for the evenings. There is a natural rhythm to pausing either at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day’s work and activities. Or you could do what I sometimes do and use daybreak and dusk as a chance to talk to the Father.
           I especially need these times alone with God during these difficult times for our church. The United Methodist Church is still precious to me. I chose to be a United Methodist Minister. I was first licensed to preach as a Southern Baptist and graduated from Samford University in 1970. I was led by the Spirit to become a United Methodist minister. I have never regretted my decision and choice. I feel, and have felt, much sorrow over the current state of the United Methodist Church.
           The UMC has had difficult periods before. We went through the strife and turmoil of racial integration and the changes that brought about in our society. However, the church survived and thrived when we began to be aware that God does not care about the color of one’s skin. I also remember when women were allowed (they had never been forbidden in our church) to be ministers in the church. There was – probably still is – some resentment among male clergy and laity to this development. I welcomed the change; who am I to say that God cannot call one of His daughters to be His servant? Female clergypersons bring a personality and skill set to churches that men generally do not have. We are all richer for these changes.
           What I have learned over my 53 years of ministry is that God gives talent and ability where He places it, and that He chooses who to call into ministry. Whenever we listen to and obey God the church always becomes what His will wants us to be. Is God’s will always plain? No! Is God’s will always popular with His people! Again, no!
           I want to serve God in His church. I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet, but I am confident that God is working in the midst of our current disunity. What will emerge from our times of doubt and discomfort? I do not know. I do know that if we are faithful to God, seek His will and wait, He will continue to work in the church of Jesus Christ our Lord.
           Now back to my original question. Do you have a daily time and plan to seek God’s presence and will? If you do have such a time, keep it up. If you do not have such a time in your life, begin one. After all, one reason we are called “Methodists” is that John Wesley followed a daily routine of prayer and worship. Life is often too hard and difficult, and the way unclear, to not continue to seek God’s presence and will daily.

 I hope to see you in church Sunday!

Grace and Peace, Ben  

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