Making it through the Storm

B. Mike Alexander, Jr.

Tuesday, September 11, was already a difficult day for me. My heart was heavy. Many of you remember what we experienced in this great nation on September 11, 2001. However, during the day on this September 11, I thought I might just experience firsthand a monster hurricane of the century, Hurricane Florence. With all that was being said in the media, I became anxious and worried. My heart was heavy once again.

“Should we stay or should we leave?” were the questions Betsy and I asked each other. We stayed glued to the television as this hurricane swirled its way toward us. I kept wondering and worrying about our beautiful church. I wondered if our house would survive. “Where do we go?” I wondered where I would be spending the night in the nights ahead. “Did you get the important papers?” Betsy asked. I responded, “What about those things important to you?”

We did decide to leave. Frankly, I didn’t feel good about that. If there had been a major disaster, I determined that being alive could mean that I would be more helpful after I returned. If I stayed and got hurt, I would be helpful to no one, only harmful to others. I would never want to take first responders away from others who may be in a greater need.

Well, most of us here made it through the storm, although there are some nearby, some in adjacent counties, and some in southeast North Carolina who are struggling at this very moment. Walter and I have been doing all that we can this week to identify places where we as a church might be of help. In the days ahead, we’ll keep you posted. 

The howling winds and rains did work on structures and land in the Murrells Inlet community. I imagine those of you who stayed pleaded with God for safety, reprieve, and encouragement. Some prayers were answered. Some were not.

Now after the storm I find myself asking, “Why? Why does life have to be so hard, Jesus?” The questions prompt an honest assessment of where I have been putting my trust. The depth of my worry and anxiety revealed I had misplaced it. When the storms rage and the winds blow, and they will continue to do so for the rest of my life, I realize my faith needs to be in Jesus, not in the outcome of my circumstances.

Today, if circumstances and worry and anxiety are tossing you about, cast your burdens on Jesus and pray for the faith to believe that his promises are true. God is powerful enough to help you address the storms in your life and keep you safe.

Many of you have asked about whether we are going to respond or not to Hurricane Florence victims in our area and in southeastern North Carolina. This SUNDAY, we shall pray for those whose lives have been disrupted by this recent hurricane. We shall give those who worship with us an opportunity to make a special offering. All monies collected will STAY for LOCAL recovery! Please make your plans now to be generous this Sunday morning, keeping in mind that this storm could have devastated the lives of many in our church family.

Our church schedule has been interrupted this past week because of the hurricane. We’ve kept some meetings; others have been postponed. We attempted to keep people aware of cancellations via email, but I know some do not have email. I just hope you have not been inconvenienced.  

I am excited about a new Bible study for men & women: THE ROCK, THE ROAD, AND THE RABBI. This 6-week study begins on Monday, September 24, 6 PM, in the Family Life Center. There is still time for you to register. Call Jane Sparks at 843.357.5185.

Monday evening is full at the church, and United Methodist Men will be meeting at 6:30 PM. This is an open invitation for anyone who would like to receive some valuable information from our Endowment Team. Endowment intends to offer a number of presentations in the months ahead to help inform our congregation about the purpose of the Endowment and to report our Endowment balance. Consider coming Monday evening!

Our focus for the future is to help us CONNECT, GROW IN FAITH, AND SERVE. Thursday, September 27, 5PM – 6:15 PM, you’ll have a chance to connect with others who come to THE GATHERING, a fellowship dinner. The cost is minimal so plan now to join the church family for a great meal and fellowship. Make reservations by Monday, September 24. Make your reservation online or contact Brandy Streett, 843.357.5180.

November 3 is our BELIN BBQ & FALL FESTIVAL. In the next few weeks, you will have an opportunity to VOLUNTEER for this special mission. All proceeds will go to the Belin Outreach Team, helping local families in need. Remember: I keep telling you that you have to be involved in order to be happy here at Belin. I’ve discovered that those who are not happy are those who are not involved. Remember: it’s about CONNECTING, GROWING, AND SERVING.  

These days are passing quickly. Fall is here, and there are exciting months ahead for all of us. I want to tell you how thankful I am for all of you, and I’m privileged to serve as your senior pastor. Walter Cantwell and I talk often and discuss how you are a blessing to us. Indeed, you are a blessing to many. When I think about it, I realize you know that you have been blessed in order to bless others. And you do that well!

Blessings on you,
Mike

Fruit of the Spirit

B. Mike Alexander, Jr.

I have enjoyed working with the Reverend Walter Cantwell since his arrival to Belin Memorial in June 2016. Walter has added so much to our staff, helping us in many ways to be creative and cohesive. Some time ago Walter challenged me to join him in preaching a sermon series on Fruit of the Spirit. Lately, he and I have been doing some serious reading on this subject.  

Just before Jesus left the earth, he told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem. He told them that he would send the Holy Spirit: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

To this day the Spirit continues to be a force to be reckoned with as the Spirit moves us, comforts us, and fills us with power. Paul describes the Spirit’s work and its impact on our lives as the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.”

For the next three weeks, whether you worship in The Harbor or The Sanctuary, we’ll be taking a look at the fruit of those who have the Holy Spirit in their lives. This Sunday we’ll specifically look at love, joy, and peace. What are ways that you love unconditionally? Where is the joy in your life? Are you at peace with God and one another? If not, what can you do about it? Think on these things. And you continue to pray that the Holy Spirit might work in our lives as we move into weeks and months ahead.

Heads-up! This is a reminder that we’ll have a special offering this Sunday for Epworth Children’s Home. Located at 2900 Millwood Avenue, Columbia, SC, Epworth Children’s Home is a ministry to children and families in need. There are about 76 children, ages 4 – 18, who reside on campus. However, there are a number of children who live off campus and are helped. Let’s do our part to be family to them.

I’m delighted to welcome youth and adult leaders from St. John’s UMC, Rock Hill, to our campus for their retreat this weekend. They will be staying in the Family Life Center, and they will be attending The Harbor Sunday morning. For years, Austin Bond has helped us develop a special relationship with St. John’s. Annually, our Belin youth stay in St. John’s facilities when they are on their Charlotte Mission Trips. So we certainly welcome them this weekend.

Confirmation Orientation is this weekend, and I want to encourage youth and their parents to attend the session on Sunday morning, September 9, 10 AM. The meeting will be held in our worship center (the gym). If you are coming to the The Harbor for the 11 AM service, let me remind you that the doors will NOT open until 10:45 AM.

The Gathering on Thursday, 5:00-6:15 PM, September 13, will give you an opportunity to join the church family for dinner. There are a number of church meetings that evening, so I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to eat in the Family Life Center before your meeting. This Gathering helps us get back in touch with one another after a full summer. Make a reservation by Monday, September 13. Call Brandy at 843.357.5180 or email her at brandys@belinumc.org.

 Monday, September 24, is a busy evening at Belin Memorial. United Methodist Men, meeting at 7:00 PM, will host a meal and program for anyone who wants to know more about the Belin Memorial Endowment. As well, a new Bible study for men & women will begin that evening at 6:00 PM. You’ll hear more about these events and others in the near future. Just save the date!

I spoke at our Adult Senior Luncheon this past Wednesday, and I said, “I can’t believe I let Walter talk me into a series on the Fruit of the Spirit.” Of course, I was teasing! I’m excited about this sermon series, and I’m so grateful to be part of a church where the Holy Spirit is at work!

Blessings on you, 
Mike