Friday, January 28, 2011


New life in Christ is more than just obeying these commandments, as important as they are. New life in Christ comes as we accept the gift of God's justifying grace through Jesus Christ. February is a time for all United Methodists to affirm that gift and to offer it to everyone.

Long-term relationships go through cycles: ups and downs, hills and valleys, good times and bad. That's true in our spiritual life, too. For many of us, our spiritual life begins with a very powerfully personal relationship with Christ. We can feel like we are on top of a mountain and have laid claim to the most important thing in all the world. And that strong and powerful feeling can stay with us and propel us for months and even years.

But I don't think I have ever found anyone who has said that they have been able to maintain that state of spiritual ecstasy throughout the entire course of their life. Sooner or later, we find ourselves in a spiritual valley.

I talked to a woman the other day who explained her situation exactly like that. 'Yes, it's true,' she said, 'I've been away from church for a long time. But you know, it goes deeper than that. I've not really had much of a spiritual life for a good number of years now. I don't know why. I used to be on fire for the Lord. I couldn't get enough of church. I read the Bible all of the time and prayed all the time too. I found ways to serve Christ every single day. But I guess the 'newness' of it all wore off and I just lost interest.'

But then she said, 'I feel something stirring in me again. Could it be the Holy Spirit? And I feel like I want to come back and start walking on my spiritual journey again.'

She really put into words what all of us experience if we enter into a relationship with the Lord. It doesn't stay on the mountaintop forever. There are valleys and great stretches of desert. We could very well 'drop out' and even move in a different direction.

But those down cycles don't last forever and more often than not there come brand-new stirrings in the heart. What would it mean for you to 'fall in love all over again' with the One whom Revelation 2:4 calls our 'first love'? This is a great time to come back home to the Lord, your first love, and renew at an even deeper and more seasoned level the most important relationship any of us will ever have in life.
-Norman Neaves, 'The Church of the Servant,'
Oklahoma City, in Thrust, August 12, 1998

The confirmation class originally scheduled for February 6 has been moved to February 13.

One of the first flowers of spring, the daffodil is the symbol of hope. Make a donation and receive beautiful daffodils for yourself or share them with someone special. Contact Bonnie Crook, 828-8750, of Pat Haning, 842-2790. Orders must be placed by Monday, February 14th.

Make SHARE a part of your new year. SHARE is a nonprofit food buying organization that offers good, nutritious products at a reduced cost through a volunteer-run, community-based distribution system. Everyone is welcome to participate. There are no membership fees or income eligibility requirements. SHARE offers tasty, nutritious grocery packages (including meats, produce, and other grocery items) at half the retail cost in exchange for 2 hours of volunteer service in the community. Choosing where you volunteer is up to you – any good deed qualifies. Food is ordered and picked up monthly. For more information on registration and food pickup dates as well as other information about the program contact Cora Rathmel at 641-828-7017 or visit the website at

A free bowling party for all our friends and neighbors will run from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 20th at the Fairlane Bowling Alley in Knoxville “Home of the Big Pocket”. The FUN committee has reserved all of the lanes at Fairlane Bowl.

Coaches vs. Cancer is a fundraising game at Knoxville High School. It is the 3rd annual event at KHS aimed at raising awareness and money for the American Cancer Society through the promotion of one of Knoxville’s home basketball games. The event will take place on Saturday, February 5th at the KHS vs Carlisle game. Please consider being a part of this event by attending February 5th as we pack the gym in PINK in support of this fundraiser or donating something for the silent auction the night of the game. Contact Jim or Angie Uitermarkt at 641-842-5546, 641-891-0066, or 641-218-8437 if you have questions or would like to donate for the silent auction.

The Board of Church and Society of The Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is conducting an essay contest and will present three $500 scholarships. The is open to students who are high school juniors or seniors during the current school year (2010-2011) and who live in Iowa or attend an Iowa high school. Students need not be members of a United Methodist Church nor any other religious body. "Immigration Reform" is the topic for this year's essay contest. Essays must me less than 1,000 words and sent to Paul Linn by e-mail at before Mach 21, 2011. Also include a brief summary of activities that you have participated in your school or community including efforts for social justice. Awards will be presented during Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in June of 2011.

Attica United Methodist Church will be holding its annual soup supper on Thursday, February 17 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Oyster and potato soup will be available as well as chili and homemade pie. A free will donation will be accepted.

The next Education Cluster meeting will be on Thursday, February 10th at 6:30p.m. in the conference room.

Good Friday Day Camp for ages preschool through 5th grade Friday April 22. More details to come next month.

VBS has been tentatively set for Sunday, July 24 through Thursday, July 28. Please consider signing up to be a volunteer for this great event. More information will be available in the next couple of months.


Please plan to join us for a Family Fun Night full of family friendly entertainment on Friday, February 18 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. We will be starting off the evening with a light meal served from 6:00-6:45p.m. in West Fellowship Hall. Then we will take the fun upstairs to the sanctuary where the children will sing a song or two just before 7:00p.m. At 7:00 p.m., Jim Austin will take the stage with his Comedy Magic Show. All of this food and entertainment is for a Free Will Donation! There will also be a goodie basket fundraiser to help support the work of MSPS. Please invite family members, neighbors, and anyone else to this great family event.

Enrollment for the 2011/2012 school year will be opened up to the public on March 1st. Classes will be offered for 2 year olds, 3 year olds, and 4/5 year olds. Class ages are determined by the age the child is on September 15, 2011. If you or someone you know is interested in preschool please stop by MSPS or call 842-2193.

Condolences to the family of Betty McLaughlin who passed away on January 4, 2011.

Condolences to the family of Marvin Brooks and Helen Stevenson on the death of their brother.

Condolences to the Dick Cushman family on the passing of his father.

Condolences to the Melinda O’Field family on the passing of her grandmother.

Condolences to Gary Mason and family on the passing of his sister.

Condolences to the Mary Bellamy family who passed away on January 16, 2011.

Condolences to the Sharon Rigg family on the passing of her uncle.


We had a total of 456 people ringing in Knoxville from 23 different churches and 8 organizations for a total of 650 hours. First United Methodist Church had a total of 70 people ringing for 131 hours of these hours. Thank you so much for generously giving of your time and money. We are truly blessed and our community will be helped in many ways. Total raised in Marion County for 2010 is $37,394.95! Ninety (90%) of this money comes back to Marion County. The other ten (10%) goes for disaster relief.

For years the Ingathering Board prayed that each year when the different sites reported how many kits and the total value of everything on Ingathering Day it would be valued at 1 million dollars! This past year we came so close to that goal, $984,916. They were excited that maybe next year we will be able to meet that goal! We reach so many people that need our kits. Thank you for supporting this mission project. It makes a difference in their lives. Sincerely, Loretta Kono

February 5-6
Isaiah 58:1-9a Psalm 112:1-10 1 Cor. 2:1-12 Matt. 5:13-20

February 12-13
Deut. 30:15-20 Ps. 119:1-8 1 Cor. 3:1-9

February 19-20
Lev. 19:1-2, 9-18 Ps. 119:33-40 1 Cor. 3:10-11, 16-23 Matt. 5:38-48

February 26-27
Is. 49:8-16a Ps. 131 or Ps. 62:5-12

Friday, April 8 –Saturday, April 9 Volunteers In Mission Work Weekend No cost, free will donation. Come for the day to help out with work projects around the camp. Evening sessions with Des Moines area missions.

Sat., June 4 - Summer Kick-Off
No cost, free will donation taken at meals. Bring the whole family to start the summer off right! Enjoy games, camp activities, a BBQ dinner and worship service lead by our 2011 summer staff.

Sat., July 20 - Wesley Woods-stock
No cost, free will donation taken at meals. All youth are invited for a day of games and local Christian bands. Our first year ever for this event!

Fri., Oct. 21-Sat., Oct. 22- Women’s Retreat
$55/person. Enjoy a relaxing weekend with an interspiritual speaker, energizing worship, good food, and great fellowship.

John Wesley on Justifying Grace and New Life in Christ
Henry H. Knight IL

SUPPOSE YOU HAD A TERMINAL ILLNESS but did not know it. You would think everything is normal because everything seems normal, until at some point you looked at your life from an entirely different angle. Then, what once seemed so nat¬ural would be seen for what it really is: symptoms of a sickness unto death.

Perhaps, if you found yourself in this condition, you could mitigate the symptoms and try to live as healthy a life as possible under the circumstances. But you cannot cure the disease. To do that, you need outside help—you need a physician.

This is our spiritual condition as seen by John Wesley. Sin is not only in our intentions and in our actions; it is a disease that has infected our very being. Though we have been created in the loving image of God, sin corrupts that image in such a way that it touches every aspect of our lives. When we come to realize that the things which seem so normal in our culture—possessing more than we need while ignoring the needs of others, centering our lives on things rather than on God, choosing self-gratification instead of self-giving—are but symptoms of this fatal disease of sin, we recognize our need for a physician.

Our problem is worse yet, for we are alienated from the very physician who can cure us! We have, after all, ignored many of the warning signs. We have tried to pretend we were all right, even when there were indications to the contrary. Like a person who doesn't want a physical for fear of what he or she may find, we would rather keep the doctor at a distance and pretend all is well.

Fortunately, we have a physician who is not content to see us destroy our lives— and those of our neighbors—in this way. This physician takes the initiative: "God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). It is here that the analogy breaks down. At this point, we have to speak of the wonder of a love almost beyond imagining. Charles Wesley put it this way:

O Love divine: What hast thou done!
The' immortal God hath died for me!
The Father's co-eternal Son bore all my sins upon the tree.
The' immortal God for me hath died,
My Lord, my love is crucified.

We may be sinners standing before a holy God. We may be creatures standing before our Creator. But we are loved by God, even unto death on a cross. Our lives have an infinite worth because an Infinite God has loved us so much.

Through the cross, we are justified and forgiven. John Wesley calls justification a rel¬ative change, a change in our relationship with God. The gap separating us from God has been bridged. We accept this gracious gift through faith, trusting in what God has done for us in Christ for our justification. Our relationship with the physician is restored.

Just as we might walk through the door of a clinic, trusting in the physician, so we walk through the door of justification, trusting in Jesus Christ. It is then that the Holy Spirit can begin to cure the disease of sin. The resulting transformation that turns us in the direction of ever-increasing health is the new birth, the restorative process is sanctification, and the sign of health is a growing love for God and our neighbor. Wesley calls this a real change, an inward renewal by the power of God, the beginning of new life.

A Time to Call for Commitment to Christ
Bishop Coyner
THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY often includes Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the season of Lent. It also includes the Valentine's Day celebration in our U.S. culture, which we can affirm as United Methodists, but our Wesleyan tradition challenges us to expand our concept of "true love." As followers of Jesus Christ, the Shema of the Old Testament expresses our true love: "You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength" (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). This is the first of the Ten Commandments, and it reminds us that we owe our first love to God.

The Wesleyan revival in England and America was a call to individuals to make their commitment to Christ in what Wesley understood to be the "justifying grace" of God, which restores our relationship with God. Our Wesleyan way of discipleship affirms that God's grace saves us and begins our process toward sanctification or wholeness. Becoming a follower of Christ is not our doing; it is our response to what God has done for us in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Many United Methodist congre¬gations begin Lent by placing a large, rough-hewn wooden cross in the sanctuary. Such a stark reminder of the sacrifice of Christ is a call to receive God's justifying grace.

February is a month when United Methodists can offer this new life in Christ to all who stand outside of a relationship with God. For some congregations, this might include an Ash Wednesday worship service that reminds us we are "dust" and we need to "repent and believe the gospel." For other congregations, the month of February can be a time for revival services, for Lay Witness Missions, or for other times of repentance and renewal.

February is a good time to teach the Ten Commandments to our children and youth and to use them in worship services for all ages. Elton Trueblood has written those commands in a helpful, positive style:

Above all else love God alone;
Bow down to neither wood nor stone.
God's name refuses to take in vain;
The Sabbath rest with care maintain.
Respect your parents all your days;
Hold sacred human life always.
Be loyal to your chosen mate;
Steal nothing, neither small nor great.
Report with truth your neighbor's deed;
And rid your mind of selfish greed.

New life in Christ is more than just obeying these commandments, as important as they are. New life in Christ comes as we accept the gift of God's justifying grace through Jesus Christ. February is a time for all United Methodists to affirm that gift and to offer it to everyone.

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