January 18, 2021
“Thy Word is a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105
I’ve always thought of the Word of God as something that shows me where to walk as I journey through life and it is. Hebrews 4:12 says: “The word of God is living and active.” Isaiah 55:11 says that God’s word is purposeful and will accomplish our Heavenly Father’s will and purpose. God’s Word is God’s self-revelation, showing us the very heart, character and nature of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There’s a country and western song whose lyrics say, “There might be some dust on the cover….” and then the rationale that the singer still believes. He may or might not believe. Perhaps the illusion of believing is just that, an illusion. In this illusion there are words but no passion, interest but no devotion, optimism without commitment, options not essentials.
What do you believe? In biblical times as well as our own, the Word of God is our north star. It leads us and guides us. It shows us the way. It is a THE LIGHT in the darkness. It is not optional. It deserves our devotion, passion, and commitment. It places us in a reality that is eminently faithful, hopeful and mysterious to those who do know the One who inspires it.
There are those who are faithful to its message. These are the ones who survive exile, persecution, and social trends. These faithful followers face uncertain futures with prayer and trust. Many faithful become martyrs. Martyrs become inspiration and role models for others. The Light of God cannot be extinguished except by our choosing to dwell in darkness. The Light shines to show us where to walk and where not to walk. The Light of The Word becomes our constant companion as we journey through joys and sorrows, over hills and through valleys as well as through uncertain times. Faithful followers walk in the light. Jesus said, “…whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going.”
Regardless of where others are going, WHERE ARE YOU GOING? In uncertain and troubled times those who know where they are going provide stability, confidence and hope. They can lead others because they can clearly see where they are going. Others can then come to the Light too. Together, we will walk into the days before us, confident in the one who leads us in His glorious Light.
I hope to see you soon.
January 11, 2021
According to the online Urban Dictionary, the top definition of “Snow Day“ is “a Gift from God.” Other definitions of “Snow Day” include: an unexpected break, an unexpected escape from it all, a day to relax, not a day to catch up on work. Snow Days are rare in our part of Texas and that makes them even more special. The beauty of the snow is equally matched by joy of so many appreciating this rare occurrence. This week, many young people were amazed as they saw deep snow for the first time. Others remembered “deep snow” experiences from past years or other places and their hearts were warmed as if sitting by a fireplace. Snow days are indeed a gift from God! Thank you, Lord. Amen.
I am also overjoyed and grateful for the financial faithfulness of our members. 2020 was a difficult year. We applied for and received a government PPP loan for $46,500.00 which has been forgiven so that it cost the church nothing. Without the PPP our church would have had to make some extremely difficult choices. Because of your faithfulness and the faithfulness of others, we are beginning 2021 with hopeful optimism and our financial feet on solid ground. Giving is always to the Lord but it is given in and through our beloved church home. I’m praying for an end to the Covid virus and for the health of our congregation. Even though six months have passed since I arrived in Center, I’m still not sure what a normal life for this congregation looks like. What I do know is that we will continue to strive to be the church that we are called to be in Jesus Christ. I hope to see you soon!
December 28, 2020
The new year is here! Only a few days until we bid a fond farewell to the year that was and welcome the year to be. 2020 date planners were pretty much a useless item as were vacation plans, family reunions and regular church activities. AND YET, 2020 gave us the wonderful gift of time. Time to idle down and time to take stock of what’s really important. Time to enjoy what we had and time to pray for those who were suffering. Time to rejoice in the beauty of what’s right around us and time to get creative right where we were. 2020 also brought us “bad news fatigue.” Those who capitalize on bad news had a tremendous year of sharing their un-redeemed Scrooge character with all of us. May the good Lord have mercy on all of us and those who dwell in darkness when the light of Christ has so brilliantly shone into world and into our very souls. We bask in that light. We carry that light within us. We radiate that light through us into the darkness that has yet to comprehend the amazing and redeeming grace that God has released in Jesus. I’m looking forward to more light and less darkness in 2021. I will try to let more light shine through me because I will do my best to spend more time basking in the marvelous, soul changing light of Christ.
Let’s join together in a meaningful beginning to the new opportunities before us. Let’s commit to growing our own faith and to making the world a better and happier place because we are shining so brightly with the love and grace of God Almighty through Jesus Christ the redeemer within us. This commitment is not an intellectual idea. It is to choose how we will live in a world that loves the darkness. They love the darkness because they don’t know The Light. In the easy times and difficult times of the coming year, let’s all remember that God is with us and we are never alone. Brilliant!!
See ya soon,
December 14, 2020
Dear Church Family,
I pray you are expiring the joy of Advent but like most of this year, this is a highly unusual Advent season. It’s been difficult for many people. We are not celebrating with our traditional parties and gatherings. We are not shopping as usual and we are worried about many things in our nation and
world. We need a star. We need some light…. WHOA! WAIT! STOP!!!
We have a star, we have the Light of the World and we have the gifts of God’s grace, love and His very presence in our lives. Think about it, we are asking for gifts that have already been given. Perhaps we can look at things differently by examining all the things around us in the Light of Christ. Then, we can see the world around us differently. We can see clearly what truly matters and that which is only decoration. We can begin to see how, just maybe, the Lord can use us to encourage and bless others. WE ARE ALIVE FOR A TIME SUCH AS THIS!!
SHINE because many around us need the light and love that we can share.
See ya soon, maybe at “Come and Go Communion” this Sunday evening (5:30-6:30) or at Christmas Eve Candlelight on the Square (6:00PM), or maybe online or in person. You are blessed to be a blessing, so bless!
November 3, 2020
Dear Church Family,
Do I wait until after the election is over to write a newsletter article? This is the question on my mind and heart. Undoubtedly there will be winners and losers. The system is designed for this very purpose. So, I guess the better question is, “How will we respond to election results?”
First, I suggest we do what we are called to do. Pray for those in authority. Pray for their well-being and pray that their decisions will be divinely inspired to bring peace to the nation and justice for all.
Secondly, we have been given a responsibility by virtue of our citizenship to work together for the good of everyone. Do your part to influence those in power to be servant leaders on behalf of all people.
Lastly, make sure that your personal life is one which reflects the biblical mandate shared by the apostle Paul to the Christians in Ephesus. “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” See ya soon.
October 19, 2020
Dear Church Family,
Each family or member of our church was mailed a pledge card to help us plan for the coming year. We need to plan for next year because this year’s plans went out the window in March. Everything is different and nothing is the same: EXCEPT the Lord. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
Why would the author of Hebrews tell us that Jesus is unchanging? I believe that there are at least two substantive reasons for this. The first is that the relationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son is established in the unchanging nature of God as referenced in the old Testament through Malachi 3:6 “I the Lord do not change.” The very nature of the being of God is steadfastness.
The second reason the author of Hebrews tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” is because everything else in our world is constantly changing. We need a North Star. We need solid ground. We need the knowledge that we are safe and secure in the arms of the one who created us. We need to feel the security of His touch and the comfort of His voice. We need what God is offering. The world around us needs what God is offering.
On a superficial level it’s easy to ignore the Lord. At a deeper level, when we are alone with ourselves, we feel the need for God’s presence. Our mission is to help others find what God is offering in the undying love of Jesus, that they too might share in the joy of Jesus both now and forever. Financial faithfulness is one way in which we all participate in our mission. Please prayerfully consider your response to help us, as a church, to carry out our mission. You are invited to bring your response card with you to church this Sunday or to bring it by the office. You may also mail in your card.
Giving is deeply personal for all of us but our mission is not private-rather it is very public. It is our faith community working together at its finest. See ya soon!
September 29, 2020
The term “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” is found in Nehemiah 8:10. It’s after the children of Israel returned to Jerusalem from exile. They were listening to the law being read, were overcome with condemnation, and were weeping, yet this statement of joy was pronounced over the people of God.
Feeling tired, worn out, run down, fed up, anxious? Remember that Psalm 136 tell us plainly that the love of God is an everlasting love. The people were weeping because they realized that they were “living far from God” even though they had returned to Jerusalem from exile. As they heard the word of God read to them, their hearts were broken because they realized the depth their need for God in their lives. Any time (every time) we turn to the Lord our God; He is gracious to us, forgives us our sins and cleanses us from our unrighteousness. (John 1:9) What he cleanses, He can fill. What he fills, He can use!
Whenever we turn to God for answers; declaring our need for His grace and help, He breathes his peace into every part of our lives, and this gives him great joy. His joy then becomes our strength as we trust him more and more. Indeed, “The joy of the Lord IS OUR STRENGTH!” I hope to see you in church this Sunday at 10:00 AM for our combined worship service and all church luncheon following worship.
If Covid keeps you away, please keep us in your prayers, even as you are in ours. Please be mindful of others and make sure you are healthy if you are out and about. If you have any doubts about your heath, please avoid being around others until you are sure you are well! If you are in an at-risk group, please keep yourself safe!
September 23, 2020
I once heard that you should always check under the sofa cushions for small change. It turns out that small change IS often found under sofa cushions. There was a time in my life when small change made all the difference. This was true as a youth and even more important in those lean college years. Small change actually made a BIG difference. I also know that if I make small changes that affect my spirit and my faith that my spirit and my faith will make a BIG difference in my life and to those around me.
Rather than failing at reading your bible every day, why not succeed in reading it today. Break that Bible’s binding and flip the pages; click until you’ve arrived. Find that devotional and let it speak to your soul. Succeed once, then succeed again. Little successes lead to bigger things. It seems that bigger things are always comprised of smaller things.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 In other words, we are moving from glory to glory… ever increasing in our love of God and in our faith in God. We are moving forward in our transformation as Christians who represent well the Savior of the World in the world today! See ya soon!
September 7, 2020
I pray you had a relaxing Labor Day doing whatever it is you most wanted to do. (Pretty much like every other day.) I like the movies where the “Sensei,” teacher, instructs the student to choose wisely. Making choices about what we do, is something we do constantly. Choosing wisely about what we do is a bit more difficult. But choosing wisely is a trait that is revealed as a good thing in the bible.
Proverbs 3:5-7 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Perhaps the most wisdom we can show in our living is that we are faithful in all our choices. Faithful to the Lord and faithful to each other. Loving of God and loving of each other. Supportive of God and supportive of each other…. and the list goes on. Choose wisely my friends. See ya soon!
August 24, 2020
Dear Church Family,
Are you blessed? If so, how? Why are you blessed? I believe that we are all blessed by in God in countless ways, beginning with what we Methodists call “Prevenient Grace.” This is God’s grace preceding in our lives even before we are aware that it is God’s grace bestowing blessings upon us. This grace is very much like the aroma of bread baking in the oven or popcorn popping and filling the air with its wonderful delicious fragrance. God’s grace leads us toward him.
As we recognize God in our lives, we begin to recognize that we are blessed. Blessings are not the good times or the bad times. They are not our things or the things we don’t have. Our blessing is in knowing that God is with us and we are not alone. God is within us in the storm and in the calm. He is with us in our abundance and in our scarcity. He is with us in our family and in our relationships. He is with us as we walk on our faith journeys, together. Let’s all make the effort to see the best in and around us as a blessing from God among us. Friends, with storms and fires, Covid, confusion, and the chaotic world we live in, we are not alone, God is with us! … He IS with us and the best IS yet to be because we are indeed a blessed people! See ya soon.
August 17, 2020
Dear Church Family,
What a great day. Today is not great because of the weather or the people or the events of the day, or even the blessings we’ve already encountered. Today is great because it is a gift given to us by our Father in heaven. This great gift will unwrap minute by minute and hour by hour.
This day and in the coming days, some of us will need to receive lots and lots of love because of unimaginable grief. There are days when sorrows threaten to overwhelm us. The greatness in days like these, comes from the love and grace of God being expressed in countless ways to those who are in desperate need of experiencing the depth of God’s compassion.
On days like these, those of us who are blessed with an abundance of “not suffering” need to arrange our affairs to be living answers to others’ heartfelt prayers; prayers which are being poured out in an hour of need. God’s provisions will always exceed our needs. God has prepared each of us in advance so that the prayers of others can be answered sooner rather than later.
If the Lord places someone in your path or in your heart, and you can see a need that you can meet, do not hesitate or delay in responding. It is for times like these that God has invested so deeply in our lives. It is when we respond to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit, doing the right thing, at the right time, with the right motive that God receives a magnificent return on the investment which he has poured into each of our lives. Love and Grace have been invested – glory to God will be the return. May your life bring glory to God each and every day. See ya soon!
August 14, 2020
Dear Church Family,
Breaking News: Covid Continues.
Somewhere between running around with our arms waving in the air like we are on fire and a person who so is simpleminded and imperceptive as to care nothing at all, is the great multitude of most of us. We did what “they” said, and here we are months and months later, planning for this thing to go on well into the foreseeable future. YUCK. We didn’t do what they said and here we are months and months later, planning for this thing to go on well into the foreseeable future. YUCK. I don’t believe that “THEY” have the solution. So, what’s the solution?
As the church, we ducked down, covered up and waited. Now is the time to admit that we are no longer panicked and that after a lengthy time of doing precautionary little, it is time for us to rise up and say, “Here I am Lord, use me.” Let’s not say use me if it’s safe or not safe, but rather say “Lord, USE ME”. Lord USE ME, I’ll be safe. I’ll do the right things. I’ll do the expected things and the things asked of me. I’ll consider others as I consider myself and I will use, apply and share my life and faith as YOU GUIDE ME.
Friends, I’m asking you, “What are you doing to encourage and lead OTHERS to the Shalom (Peace) that Jesus offers? I truly believe this is our time to lead in our community. As Christians, our expertise is in faith. Let’s let others lead in their areas of expertise. Let the doctors be doctors and let us be faithful in faith. Let us lead others to faith in the never-failing love and grace of God in Christ Jesus. Like the song says, “Lead on O King Eternal, the day of march has come!” See ya soon!
August 2, 2020
It’s only August, but it seems that summer is almost at an end. School starts in a few weeks and there appears to be a mad rush for more summer outings as well as getting ready for back-to-school. The store shelves are already stocked with fall merchandise and other than the sweltering heat, you would think that fall is only days away.
FUMC is partnering with several other local churches to create a B2SB (Back to School Bash) for Jr. and Sr. High youth. This will take place on Sunday, August 16th at 4pm. Faythe and Chris are working together to make this an amazing event. Faythe has arranged for a speaker from Houston to come, share and help our kids in their faith journeys. Lots of food, games and fun will round out the event. Thank you both!!!
I think it’s marvelous for churches to work together. I love it when we show the world that being a Christian is more than being the member of a certain church. Our church is special, but so are other churches. I’m glad that God has called you, me and all of us toFUMC Center. Together we will love God and share the love. Together we will see God advance His “Kingdom on Earth!”
Together, it’s such a great word. Integrated, unified and joined together in grace are the people of God. We are living in times bursting with opportunity to both show and share our faith. Thank God for the interesting times and the journey forward. See ya soon!
July 28, 2020
Last Sunday, we ended our worship time by singing “Blessed Assurance Jesus is Mine.” What a wonderful thought. It’s wonderful because our faith is a possession. Our faith is a gift from God and because it is a gift from God it is a good gift that brings only good with it.
Our gift includes The Giver himself. As Fanny Crosby says in the lyrics, “O what a foretaste of glory divine!” Our faith is supposed to be so much more than a crutch to use when we are limping. The gift of our faith is to provide the very presence of the God in our daily living. Of course, having faith in the grace of God requires us to live out our faith. This means living intentionally. We choose to be “those people.” The ones who know that rainbows are gifts after the storms. The ones who see the good in others. The ones who forgive as we have been forgiven. And of course, we are ones who go counterculture in that we don’t simply get all we can for us. We give as we have received. We give not for good feelings or in the hopes that by giving we will get back. We simply give because God has first given to us. We simply respond because we are created in the very image of the giver of life, the giver of faith! You can’t so much give away your faith as you can share it. So, share it generously!
Please join us at church as we worship here on Sunday or worship with us online (https://www.facebook.com/FUMCCenterTexas/), but please join us here or there. This way we can truly be one in faith, one in hope and one in love.
Holy Communion: This Sunday, August 2nd, we will be having communion. For those who are able to attend in-person worship, we will pass out individual juice cups with wafer included. We hope you can join us at the 8:30 or 11:00 am in-person worship service. For those who are unable to be at the in-person worship, please come by the church office and pick up your cup and wafer and wait until you attend the 11:00 am live service to take your elements. For those who are unable to pick up your elements, we can bring them to you. Call the church at (936) 598-2707 if you have questions. The communion offering will go to the Pastor’s Care Fund.
See ya soon!
July 21, 2020
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
The grace of God is an awesome gift. It’s actually amazing, this grace thing. Grace is a gift, a good gift, a free gift. We can’t earn it and we can’t buy it. God, in his exalted wonderfulness, saw fit to renew his mercy and love within us by applying his grace into our lives through his son Jesus!
In last Sunday’s message, I mentioned that having received such a gift, our natural response is to feel we must respond by doing something. How we act, think and speak is how we respond. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
We can’t engender more love or grace from God (because his grace and love are infinite), but we can surely live for him and proclaim his glory among the nations, beginning right here, right where we are! If we are going to brag about anything in our lives, let’s brag about the joy of Jesus and the grace of God. See ya soon.
July 14, 2020
My first few weeks in Center and at first UMC Center have been wonderful. Teresa and I are already beginning to feel at home. We might not be able to give a tour of the area, but we can certainly sing the praises of all the people we have met since we arrived.
Summertime is definitely here, it is hot, hot, hot! The A/Cs are running for all they are worth and being outside for too long is surely taking your life into your own hands. If heat killed the Coronavirus, it would have long been gone. But apparently, it does not kill the virus. So, be careful of both.
Do you remember when Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah,” meaning that Jesus was sent to set people free.
Jesus didn’t end slavery, but he set those enslaved free. He didn’t end poverty, but he set the poor free. He didn’t end illness, but he set the sick free. He didn’t end a lot of things or situations, but he changed the condition of things for everyone. How did he do this? By changing the hearts of all who came to him. Sure, many received physical or emotional healing and to be sure, many that were hungry were fed a meal, but his mission was to set people free. He freed the heart. He showed a better way. He brought “heart” to the religion and life to the ritual. Jesus cared about the heart.
Anyone can be religious, especially Methodists. It’s in our name. If we do the same thing the same way twice it becomes a tradition or ritual, or at the very least, “The way we’ve always done it.” We must be careful about our faith and religion. The heart of matter matters most to the heart of God.
What do you need to be freed from in order to be free in Christ? Jesus cares about your heart. Where or what does your heart need healing from? John’s gospel tells us that Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!” (John 8) When he said this, he was telling the people that they will have a forever place as a child of God when they listen and follow him. My prayer is that we always allow the Lord to free us from those things that bind us. When we are free from . . . We are free to . . . to love, show mercy, share grace and to lead others to well spring of joy that it is the Kingdom of Heaven.
See ya soon.
July 7, 2020
Dear New Church Family
Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the gracious hospitality you have shown to Teresa and me as we have joined with you in your amazing, joy, grace and loved filled journey with Jesus. We are truly grateful for the many ways in which you have demonstrated your support as we have arrived. You have “Pounded” on us, Meal Trained us, and offered countless kind words. We are humbled and give thanks to God for your expressions of love. Your deeds of kindness speak deeply of love of Jesus.
As I assume the role of pastor at Center FUMC, I do so knowing that many have gone before me. Please keep Pastor Karen and all your former pastors in your prayers, even as you pray for me and Teresa. The best way for us to get to know your names is for you to continue to tell us your names…. (for the foreseeable future.) Last evening, as I lay down to go to sleep, I started trying recall the names of those we have met in the last week or so. I can associate about 25 names and faces are already. Please continue to tell us your names. Of course, the best way for us to remember names is for us to share events and activities together.
This coming Sunday we will be looking at the beautiful words from Psalm 119:105-112. Many years ago, Amy Grant had a very popular song from this song, “Thy Word is a Lamp unto my Feet.” In a crazy world it’s nice to have a north star. The Word of God is constant and amazing as we see God reveal himself to all who will receive him. Join us Sunday as we celebrate in worship. If you’re not comfortable joining with us in-house, be sure and join with us online at 11:00 AM.
June 25, 2020
Dear Church Family,
I’ve always advised youth who are graduating high school and moving off to go to school, to look for the “Cross and Flame.” Those people in those churches are family. If you need friends, go there. If you need a church home while away from home, go there. If you need help, go there. I would tell them to tell the people that they meet, where they are from and that they are part of the Methodist family.
I’m originally from Rosenberg Texas, grew up attending First United Methodist Church of Rosenberg and graduated from Lamar CISD High School. I continued my education at the University of Texas at Arlington as a business management major. After the closing of our family business, I returned to school and received my BSW in preparation for ministry. After receiving my degree, I enrolled at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky where I earned my Master of Divinity Degree.
I began in ministry as a short-term missionary in Kobe, Japan. After Japan, I began local ministry as a youth director and as a Local Pastor in Arlington, Texas. After graduating seminary, and returning to the Texas Annual Conference, I was ordained a Deacon in 1993 and as an Elder in full connection in 1995. One of my many ministry highlights include serving as the founding president of Habitat for Humanity in Orange, Texas, and building a neighborhood of 30 homes. I was involved with clown ministry for many years as a clown named, “Whoso Ever.”
Teresa and I recently celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. Teresa is an educational professional with over 30 years of combined experience in administration and in the classroom. She is a native of Roseto, a tiny Italian town near the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania and is still adjusting to the “Methodist” way of doing things. Together, we have four children and two grandchildren. Whew, enough about us. We’ll get to know each other better soon enough.
Teresa and I are giving thanks to God for what has been, what is and for what is yet to come! We look forward to meeting you soon.
Pastor Malcolm Monroe