Identity, Dignity, and Security

On his very last night with his disciples, before He celebrated the Passover and instituted the Last Supper sacrament, 
Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. Then he commanded them (and us) to do the same. What was it about Jesus that allowed him to humble himself and serve his disciples even in the face 
of their denial and his imminent death?

You can read about Jesus’ actions in John 13. As you read, please note three crucial factors behind this encounter with Our Christ:

  • Jesus knew that His hour had come when He should depart from the world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world. Jesus loved His disciples until the end.

  •  Jesus knew that the devil had gotten into the heart of Judas Iscariot and had convinced Judas to betray Him.

  •  Jesus knew that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that He had come forth from God, and that he was going back to God.

Before he washed a single foot, Jesus was aware of His true identity, His true dignity and His true security. He knew that He wasn’t from Nazareth of the child of an unwed Mom—no, He was sent by God. He wasn’t a penniless, homeless carpenter—he was worth everything His Father had. His final destination was not the cross or a tomb—he was returning to His Father. In a sense Jesus was pre-equipped (just like an astronaut going into space) with this three-compartment “backpack” that enabled him to not only survive in a hostile place—but to thrive!

The great news is that we are equipped in the same way that Jesus was. 

John 1:12 promises that “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” That means that we two are children of God—our true identity.

Ephesians 1:3 proclaims, “Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places with Christ.” (We are blessed with every spiritual blessing—that’s the source of our true worth and dignity.)

Romans 8:38 famously affirms “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nort height, nor depth, nor any created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Our relationship with God provides us with an unequal level of security.

As a maker of disciples, we are called to wash others’ feet. When we focus on our true identity, dignity, and security, we are free to consider others ahead of ourselves. We can be feet washers for Jesus.

Ed Diaz, 71:17 Ministries
Pastors Message
About Us

8002 U. S. Highway 301 South, Riverview, FL  33578  813-677-5995

The First Steps to Change
UM Men have varying reactions to the enormous number of issues facing the church and society. Some men are paralyzed by the complexity; they don’t know where to start, so they do nothing. Others, who have served in men’s ministry for many years, are tired; they feel it’s time for someone else to act.

Galatians 6:9a reminds us, “And let us not grow weary of doing good.” Whether we are confused or tired, as Christian brothers, Got still calls us to be agents of change in our own lives, our church, and our community. The first step is to act on that calling. 

Loren Eiseley tells the story of an older man watching a young boy throw starfish back into the ocean. “See the thousands of starfish,” said the man. “There is no way you can make a difference; there are too many.” The little boy looked at the man, picked up another starfish and said, “It made a difference to that one!” (Adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley).

In his book, The Three Simple Rules, A Wesleyan Way of Living, Bishop Rueben Job reminds us that we are to “Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.” Each of these statements requires action.
In your church and community GO and do no harm, GO and stay in love with God, and GO and do good. God needs you to bring hope and change to your church and community.

Rev. Dr. Rick Vance, 
Director of Men’s Ministry
General Conf. of UMM
Covenant, Justice, Unity
This fall I have used a simple drawing of three circles to portray something about where we are as a church in the present moment. The three circles are covenant, justice and unity.

Covenantal people greatly value the promises we have made to God and to each other in baptism, in ordination and in consecration. They seek greater public accountability when our covenants are broken.

Those in a search for justice participate in a history that gives greater rights and offers God’s grace and blessings to more people. This history includes the abolition of slavery, the recognition of women in ministry and now the inclusion of the LGBTQ community in the full life of the church.

Those who value unity have the conviction that covenantal people and justice seekers can live together in the church. They do not see the present LGBTQ conversation as a church-dividing issue; and they live in the tension, often at the congregational level, amidst differences that reflect the beauty and complexity of the one body.

My own calling is to seek to expand or grow the space where these three circles overlap. I share passions of justice, covenant, and unity with friends across my own annual conference and the global church. The shared space where justice, covenant and unity overlap is not a mushy middle! It is the complex place where many faithful people live.

The Vision of the Commission on a Way Forward is to “design a way for being church that maximizes the presence of a United Methodist witness in as many places in the world as possible, that allows for as much contextual differentiation as possible, and that balances an approach to different theological understandings of human sexuality with a desire for as much unity as possible.” I understand this to be the generative work of our denomination in this present moment.

In his “Recapturing the Wesleys’ Vision,” Paul Chilcote describes our tradition as a “place” that is not “either/or” but “both/and.” “The Wesleyan method”, he writes, “can be called conjunctive because it seeks to join things together, rather than permitting them to be pulled apart” (16). And, so he speaks of faith and works, personal and social, heart and head, Christ and culture, piety and mercy.
Look again at the visual image of the three overlapping circles. Picture a person, a follower of Jesus, whom you might associate with one of the circles. Now think of a different person in a different circle. And another. This is The United Methodist Church in its most local and global expression. At our best we are connected to each other for a purpose: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. This mission includes keeping covenant, loving justice, and seeking unity. And it is about growing, expanding, and honoring the space where these three values can be joined together

Rev. Dr. Ken Carter, Bishop
Florida Conference, United Methodist Church

Let's Keep Doing Good!

We are in the middle of October, 
the pumpkins have arrived and 
our Fall festivals and events are 
underway. Now that we are on 
the other side of Hurricanes 
Harvey, Irma, and Maria we are 
breathing a "sigh of relief". 

  As I think back over the last 
month, I have seen the pastors 
and laity of our District engage 
in ministry and mission in 
amazing ways. We responded 
to the hurricane relief work with 
generous donations and a 
willingness to help those in 
need. We prayed for the grieving families impacted by the tragic shooting in Las Vegas. We continue to journey with those experiencing grief and loss within our congregations and community and nation. 

Responding to back to back storms, tragedies, grief, and crisis can take its toll on us resulting in us becoming weary and tired. It's ok to pause and say "I am weary or I'm just tired". It's ok to "exhale and catch your breath". I find in my moments of honest expression of my own weariness the promises of Galatians 6 come to my mind and heart. 9 Let's not get tired of doing good, because in time we'll have a harvest if we don't give up. 10 So then, let's work for the good of all whenever we have an opportunity, and especially for those in the household of faith. After we pause and catch our breath and support each other through our weariness—what happens next? We keep doing good because in time God will manifest a "harvest" for us and those we help if we don't give up. 

Let's Keep doing Good!
Rev. Dr. Candace Lewis, District Superintendent
Gulf Central District