21-22 Pastor's Page

June Message: 

Dear Congregant,

 

What another special Day and Joyful Season to celebrate! As I mentioned in my Easter Article, I don’t know about you, but it’s all Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy in my heart, Joy in my heart to stay! Do you have Joy in your heart? I prayerfully hope you do, because both Easter and Pentecost Seasons are definitely meant to reignite and saturate the spirits of all believers with exceeding Joy and great celebration of our God’s exceptional Power and Sovereignty demonstrated in both events! Yes, we serve a God to whom not only the heaven and earth testify to His glory, but even the first believers witnessed and attest to His Almighty power that defied the grave and death by raising His begotten Son to life on Easter morning. Moreover, God in Christ’s faithful promise never to leave or abandon his disciples, (John 14:18), but would send them a Helper, (John 15: 26-27), was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost with the coming of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, descending in the form of flames of fire on the one hundred- twenty disciples locked behind closed doors in Jerusalem! (Luke 3:22).

 

St. Luke, the Author of the Gospel of Luke and the Epistle of Acts, further describes the Holy Spirit’s arrival and the miraculous events that accompanied said arrival. “But the Helper will teach you everything and cause you to remember all that I told you. This Helper is the Holy Spirit that the Father


will send in my name.” (John 14: 26; Acts2: 1-13). The presence of the Holy Spirit breathed new life into the frightened and almost dead followers of Jesus. As the result of the Holy Spirit’s resuscitating presence, the believers’ faith was renewed, and they were fully equipped with Divine Power, and under the guidance the Holy Spirit, give birth to that which we refer to as the Church today!

Fellow believers, if these wonderful and momentous events are not good and enough reasons for all believers to be joyful and celebrate, then, I certainly don’t know what else would!

 

One thing I know, our faith journey in this world will never be successful, fruitful, let alone Joyful without the leaning on the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance. The Apostle Paul reminds us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood- human beings, but against the rulers, against powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12).

The reality, we live a world does offer us nothing but uncertainties, anxieties, and insurmountable hardships.

 

Therefore, our only source of true and eternal Joy is total dependence on Jesus Christ’s promised and Fulfilled “Helper,” the Holy Spirit! Don’t let the world and its evil forces steal your Joy! Invite the Holy Spirit, the Divine Helper, into your life and allow Him to guide your paths and thoughts every step along this journey of life and faith.

 

A Blessed Pentecost Season!

 

 

May Message:

JOYFILLED EASTER

 

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your Joy may be full! (John 15: 9-11 ESV).

 

Church Family and Friends,

 

Belated Easter greetings to you and your family in the name of the Risen Christ, our Lord and Savior.  I pray that the Joy of Easter Morning experience would abide with you throughout the season and beyond.

 

When I think of the daunting events such as the forty days of devotion to fast-abstaining from one’s favorites food, drinks etcetera as well as constant prayers- daily communication with one’s Creator-God, all leading to the moment of EASTER Morning, words aren’t enough to fully express my joy of the burdens lifted! I don’t know, and I certainly don’t intend to question how involved and intense your observance and spiritual journeys during Lent/Holy week Season each year are, but I consider them the most challenging and that often times make me feel totally out of my comfort zone as far as guided-spiritual practices are concern. I don’t consider myself a “Spiritual Giant,” let alone one who gets it all, but I continue to strive daily toward reaching those goals, trusting the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, during Lent- Holy Week Season, I don’t ever have enough patience to wait for the dawn of Easter Morning!  Thank God Almighty who has always walked alongside us every Lent/Holy Week Season onto a Glorious and Joy-filled Easter morning!

 

My friends, I have no doubts that Easter is the day all Christian Believers, then and now, remember and celebrate the glorious Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, from the dead just as he had promised! Testifying to this monumental event that totally changed the world, the Angel at the tomb said: “He is not here, He is Risen!” (Luke 24: 6-7). What an exceeding Joy, especially for the first Christian disciples that were gripped by fears of undeserved persecution and genuine doubts! Even though their Master, but the news of the rising of a human being that was crucified, dead and buried in anyone’s presence would surely generate a sense of unbelief. Prior to the Resurrection, there appears to have been nothing about which the first disciples would be joyful! However, when they persevered and waited patiently in obedience to Jesus’ commands, at God’s appointed time, Divinely inspired Joy overpowered their fears and their hearts were filled with unspeakable JOY on Easter Morning at the news of Jesus Christ’s Rising!

 

My friends, the first Easter Joy that the first disciples experienced and enjoyed upon hearing the news of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection from the dead is still present and available to all believers /disciples, you and me, as well as all who may believe and accept him as Lord and Savior.  “Why,” one may ask? 1st. Scripture reminds us and we believe: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever! (Heb. 13:8). And 2nd. Jesus faithfully promised when we keep his father’s commandments and abide in his love, the words he speaks will be in us, and our Joy will be made FULL or Complete. (John 15: 8-12)

Given the challenges, difficulties and level of uncertainties in our world today, it’s hard, if not impossible, to talk about “JOY,” let alone believe it in the true sense of the word. 

 

However, we serve a God whose power supersedes and subdues every power both in heaven and on earth. Most importantly, this God’s love and compassion for us are unconditional. If God can offer his sinless child, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins, and subsequently demonstrate his power over death by raising him from dead, God can do for us more wonderfully than we can ever imagine! The “Risen Christ” has faithfully offered to make our Joy complete and full!  I am ready for a FULL and COMPLETE JOY! Aren’t you?

 

As a child, one of my favorite Sunday School songs was: “ I’ve got Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy... Joy- in my heart, Joy -in my; Joy in- my heart to stay…!”  Do you have JOY in your heart? 

If not, cast all your burdens of doubts, worries and cares at the feet of the “Risen Christ,” and leave them there! (1Pet. 5:7). Let the good news of the resurrection of our Redeemer and Lord fill, overflow your heart and raise you above all of your burdens and make your Joy complete in the Risen Christ!

You have a very blessed and JOY-FILLED EASTER SEASON!

Easter Blessings,

Rev. Jakes

 

April Message

Beloved in the Risen Christ,

 

Easter greetings to you and your respective family in the name of Jesus, our Risen Lord and Savior. I pray for the faith that has kept us strong and courageous through these forty days, not merely observing, but imitating our Lord Jesus’ challenging and difficult Lenten Journey toward obtaining our freedom and salvation would continue to sustain us all into the joyous Easter Season marking His Rising.

You may agree with me that our journey together in this life has always been faced with challenges and difficulties. The last three years of the global pandemic have been no exception to the fact. I cannot tell you enough how many times I curled in my bed and offered tearful prayers for God’s intervention so that normal life would return to us as a Church family, a community, and the world.  During those moments of expressing deep inner and physical sorrows, I’ve often turned and found hope in the words of the Psalmist: “Weeping may come through the night, but joy comes in the morning!” (Psalm 30:5b).   No doubts, the consoling power of the Psalmist words lies in the fact, and makes sense to me only because, I know and believe that “Christ is Risen! (Matt. 28:6-KJV). You would notice the present tense “Is” in the proclamation. This suggests that though a historical event, Christ’s resurrection is not a thing in the past, but an ever –present happening that is the foundation of our Christian faith and discipleship. My life and entire being believe in the “Risen Christ!” Yes! He is alive, watching, walking and

 

guiding each of us and our respective family every step with the hope of transforming ours and the lives of all believers in ways that bring glory and honor to the Triune God.  

My friends, as we shout, “Christ Is Risen, Hallelujah,” on Easter Sunday Morning, let’s remember that it is not and should never be understood as a mere slogan that is an end in itself. It is the mantra and battle cry for Christ’s Disciples as they witness to his cross of human redemption and freedom from all forms of oppressions, yea the Good News. I encourage all of us to remain committed to our call and rededicate ourselves to proclaiming this extraordinary news for the transformation of lives in the name of our Resurrected Lord and Savior, “The Risen Christ!” 

 Finally, don’t let Satan steal your joy, including Easter Joy!  “Christ is Risen,” and is with each of us in our particular life’s circumstances today, tomorrow and always into eternity! Christ is Risen indeed! Alleluia! He did it all for you and me! What have you to do for His sake?

Easter Blessings,

Rev. Jakes

 March Message: 

The Lord said, “I have seen the troubles my people have suffered in Egypt, and I have heard their cries when the Egyptian slave masters hurt them. I am concerned about their pain, and I have come down to save them…!“  (Exodus 3:7–9 — NCV).

 “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost but have eternal life.  God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17-NCV).

Co-servants in our Lord’s Service…

Lenten greetings to you and your family in our Savior’s name.

Again, we are entering another important season on our Faith Journey. No doubts, we are living in such uncertain times, full of concerns both for seen and unforeseen challenges as they relate to our safety, health and well beings. Amidst such complex challenges, we are often pushed and pulled in every direction, seldom having a chance to even catch our breath, and yet comes the Lenten Season. Just as each season of our Faith Tradition requires some sort of actions of us, so does the Lenten Season. Traditionally, Lenten Season requires that we give up something in order to devote ourselves, our energy and our time to Christ’s ministry and mission entrusted to our care. Wonderfully said, yet honestly speaking, some of us often fail and fall along the wayside! 

 

Therefore, during this Lenten Season, I’m not asking you to fast forty days like Jesus did in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11); pray three times daily like our Jewish Ancestors; or give up your favorite meals and snacks including candy bars, and coffee.

Instead, I’m inviting you to join me in remembering the invaluable essence of Lent through this brief reflection. It will remind us of God’s compassionate, self-giving and unconditional love embedded in God’s plans, and later demonstrated in His Redemptive Mission in response to the cries of his suffering people through Jesus Christ in this depraved and estranged world.  God’s ardent and ultimate goal has always been and continues to be that His redeemed people, you and me, would eventually seek to reconnect and live out His divine purpose in daily life. The problems, the redeemed people have become rebellious and alienated from their Creator and subsequent Redeemer! (Romans 3: 23). “How can the realignment of such broken and estranged relationships be possible?” one may ask! Well, each Lenten Season does not only remind us of Jesus Christ’s sufferings, death and resurrection, but also points us to the way forward. Those events serve as the only bridge of reconciliation and reconnection to the Creator, God, and once Redeemed, but estranged People. In light of such new relationships, every reconciled and reconnected person, believer, is being offered an opportunity to “GROW!”

“GROW “ is an ACRONYM meaning as follow:

 

 

 

G- God,

R - reaching,

O – out to

W – win over his rebellious, suffering/straying people to himself. 

 

This year’s Lenten Season requires and invites each of us to seek intentionally and sincerely to “GROW CLOSER TO AND IN JESUS CHRIST!”

 Much like Moses whom God sent to free His suffering people in Egypt, God came down in person of Jesus Christ and sacrificed His sinless life as a ransom for our redemption from sin and its consequences. (Matt. 20:20-27; Mark 10: 35-45).  

My friend, God is always looking and reaching out for you and me! Are you reaching out to Him? This Lenten Season could be your last opportunity! You will agree with me that observing Lent with abstinence in any form or shape without a strong connection to, and growth in Jesus Christ, is totally unproductive and meaningless! The Apostle Paul reminds all believers of all ages and generations thus: “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 anyone would boast…. (Ephesians 2: 8).

I pray that the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, would guide our steps, our thoughts, our spirits, and heal us, our family, our congregation and our nation as we together walk and grow in Jesus Christ throughout and beyond this Lenten Season to the glory and honor of his own name!

Have a blessed Lent,

Rev. Jakes

 

February Message

A LIFE OF UNWAVERING FAITH IN THE MIDST OF CHALLENGING TIMES

 

 

 

Dear Family and friends of Racine 1st UM Congregation, greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Christ.  Giving our current reality, I pray that this message brings hope and strength in whatever condition of life in which it may find you and your family.

 

Again, to say we are living in very strange and challenging times is like singing to the choir! However, let’s not forget that the temptations and challenges with which we are faced today are not unique to us in human as well as our faith history. One doesn’t have to go too far into the history of pandemics to realize that there have been global pandemics such as polio, multiple variants of flus, leprosy, measles and in recently, the Ebola Pandemic.

 

As a people of faith, let me draw our attention to the Apostle Paul’s admonishment about the history of temptations and sufferings along our faith journey: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1Corinthians10: 13 – NIV)

One of the hard truths, we live in a world that has always been bent on destroying itself! 

However, in the midst of all of those destructive behaviors as well as natural causes that often lead to human sufferings and deaths, one thing remains constant, i.e. God’s  promises

 

to be present with, and to save his suffering people and nations. Here’s the Prophet Isaiah’s vision of God’s promised rescue plans: “Fear not, I will help you!” When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they do not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” ( Isaiah 41:13; 43: 2). 

Yes! While it is true that this  promised vision was originally meant for the suffering Jewish Community, it is ours today through Faith in our Redeemer and Reconciler Jesus Christ!

 

My friend, make no mistakes, I’m not oblivion to the tragic and sad impacts this deadly Covid-19 Pandemic has had and is having on the lives of families both in our immediate and distant communities, neighborhoods, nation and the world. Many have lost loved ones, some are currently infected and struggling to recover. I’m also aware that there are some who have fully recovered, while others who have recovered, but still struggling with the side effects of this deadly disease.

It is in the midst of such complexities of our conditions that I try to remind and encourage us of the need to firmly hold onto our Faith in Jesus Christ! Our Faith is the only hope that has both brought us thus far, and will surely grant us safe anchor through these very challenging and difficult times. Now, please carefully read another quote from the Apostle Paul about the role of sufferings on our Faith journey:          

“… since we have been justified through faith, we] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we] boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5: 1-4 NIV).

Remember, as believers, our faith is the motivating force behind our decisions and actions in all circumstances of life.

 

Finally, I would like to gratefully acknowledge and thank you for your faithfulness in supporting the Ministry and Mission of our congregation in these trying times. Our congregation won’t be able to continue its ministry and mission without your commitment to supporting her with your prayers, talents, and money. Deeply appreciated! The following are some of the ministry and mission your generous gifts are accomplishing: Regular Sunday worship service and Bible Study both of which livestreamed on Facebook, YouTube and the church’s Website; contributes funds to the work of our community’s charitable programs such as HALO, North Pointe Food Pantry, Hospitality Center, UMCOR, Annual Conference’s Special Sundays as well as build a four bedroom home for destitute family in Kakata city, Liberia/West Africa, just name a few.

Thanks so much, and may God richly bless you, your and all of as we together serve our community for the transformation of lives in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

Stay faithful, safe and warm!

Blessings,

Rev. Jakes

January Message

TROUBLED, BUT NOT DESTROYED!!

We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We do not know what to do, but we do not give up the HOPE of Living. (2Corinthians 4: 8 - NCV)

 

My Dear Family and Friends in the Lord,

 

Belated Merriest Christmas and the Happiest New Year in the name of the One in whom we hope, live and have our being. I prayerfully hope you and your family had a wonderful and Christ-centered Christmas Experience as we merge into the New Year, 2022. Let me hasten to acknowledge the fact that life’s experiences have never been, and possibly, never will it be the same for everyone until the return of our Risen/Ascended Lord and Savior, Jesus, the King of kings, Lord of lords! It is my considered opinion that every age and generation has had and dealt with its own challenges at that particular time. The degree and magnitude of those trials, difficulties and challenges may vary, but they still adversely impact lives.

 

We read from the above passage, the Apostle Paul encouraged the troubled Church at Corinth by reflecting on his trials, suffering and near-death experiences at hands of the Jews only for preaching the Gospel of freedom in the city of Lystra. (Acts 14: 19). Paul and his companions were daily beset by all sorts of misfortunes, but they never allow those trials and challenges to compromise their faith in the Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

 

and his ministry/mission entrusted to their care!

 

My friend, one may feel it’s very redundant to keep reminding ourselves about the current reality, i.e. COVID-19, and that’s Okay! However, my question is how we forget and stop talking about the deadly Virus when after grossly infecting millions of people the world over, taking away our rights to freely gather, worship/socialize grossly and has killed millions in addition to leaving most of those who survived its claws of death with lifelong disabilities.

 

Like the Apostle Paul, I write to both gratefully acknowledge and thank for your unwavering faith that have been tried and proven to be strong from the onset of this COVID-19. Each of you is the True Hero/Heroine of Faith such trying times. Our congregation is being blessed by the fact that you still hold membership in community in such trying and difficult times. We will continue to count on Your prayerful perseverance, resilience and encourage you to continue as we crossover into New Year-2022 and beyond.

 

Finally, as believers, we will face our own trials just like the past and unborn generations. The good news, God can use any types of trials, challenges, and difficult circumstances to strengthen His people. God’s glory is made manifest through broken vessels, believers who endure trials by total dependence and reliance on God. I pray that all of us will continue to rely on the Power of the Almighty God that has brought this far to guide us as we sail into the New Year. Keep the Faith, for by Faith we are “Troubled, But Not Destroyed!” God’s Word is eternal, Light and life! Happiest New Year in His Name!!

 

Blessings

Rev. Jakes

 

December Message

PREPARE, WATCH AND WAIT

 

Dear Fellow servants in the Lord.

 

Advent greetings to you and your family in the name of the One who was, who is, and yet to come.

 

As usual, whenever the Advent Season is upon us, we cannot ignore the call of God’s chosen forerunner, John the Baptist. The Prophet John begins with a call: “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near.” John justifies his call by referencing its origin to God’s message through the Prophet Isaiah saying: “A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight a path for him.” ( Matt. 3:1-3 NIV). Advent, by concise definition means “Coming or Arrival!” It announces “The Christ” coming in human form, the event now known and celebrated as “Christ-mas Day.” It further refers to and invites us to prepare, watch and wait expectantly for the glorious and joyful return of the Ascended Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to usher in the Fullness of God’s Kingdom on earth which we often mention whenever we pray the prayer he taught his disciples.

The call to prepare for the simultaneous observance of the Lord’s birthday and to watch, wait for his return requires both individual’s self-examination as well as the body of Christ, the community of believers. In either case, the simple question is, are we ready? Firstly, as individuals, preparations for Christ’s birthday entail our readiness to recognize his presence, receive, invite him in our plans and at our Christmas tables. Lest we forget, Christmas is not your, mine and any of our loved one’s birthday! It’s the birthday of “The Christ Child,” period!  All believers must keep their hearts and minds open to satisfying the needs and aspirations of our Guest of Honor, “The Christ Child!” Once this first step is well done, we would have satisfied the second requirement: Watch and Wait Expectantly for the Coming of the Ascended Savior and Lord. The two requirements are expected of both the individual member and the body of Christ, “ the Church!” What if the Ascended Lord

 

were to appear in your Church Edifice during this Advent Season. Will you recognize and

welcome him or will he walk away unnoticed? Will he walk in, or walk by?

 

My friends, let’s not forget our Lord Jesus’ warning that no one, not even the angels, know the hour or day, of his return, as it would be like a thief coming at night! (Matt.  24: 36-44). Just as the day or hour of the Lord’s return are not known, so it is with his identity, form and the places he might appear. He may appear in the form of a total stranger, a downtrodden in the trenches, street corner or seated by the roadside.

 

How then can one ever really be prepared and ready to recognize and joyfully receive our Lord! Two suggestions: 1. Recognize the presence of Jesus Christ, the Ascended Lord, in every person you encounter and treat them as you would Jesus. He said, whatever you did or didn’t  for the least among us impacts your relationship with him. ( Matt. 25:40). And 2. All believers must learn to live life this very hour as though the Lord would arrive the next minutes! In other words, there is no vacation and leave when it comes to our call to be prepared, Watch and Wait expectantly for the coming of our Ascended Lord.  You can’t afford to be taken unaware and unprepared!

 

Finally, you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving Day, a very blessed Advent Season and a MERRIER CHRIST-MAS in the name of the Christ Child!

 

SHALOM,

Rev. Jakes

Pastor   

NOVEMBER MESSAge

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast
love endures forever! 1 Chronicles 16:34 (ESV).


Racine 1st UMC’s Families and Friends,
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s always my
prayer that every edition of our Newsletter would meet you and your
family in good health and safety.
As you are probably aware, the month of November isn’t just the 11th
Month of the year, but also a month of remembrances. As it is true for all
of life journeys, some of those memories we recall in November each year
are joyful, while others are painful. For instance, many, if not all,
Christians observed “All Saints Day” in the month of November.
Amongst the honored saints and Christian Martyrs might be a loved one of
some us. By the way, our “All Saints Day” will be observed on Sunday
14th November 2021 @ 10 am during regular Worship Service.
After the week of “All Saints Day”, the entire nation begins to focus on
observing the following special days in November: 1. Veteran Day –
November 11th 2021 that recalls the end of World War 1 in 1918. 2.
“THANKSGIVING DAY” on November 25th. This day recalls the
Plymouth Colonists and the Wampanoag Native Americans first joint
Autumn Harvest Feast in 1621. While Thanksgiving Day is a secular
holiday, it does have some very important components in relation to our
Faith Journey. The pages and chapters of the Holy Bible are replete with
calls for believers to give thanks to the God who not only created them, the
world and all therein, but continue to protect and provide for their every
need. We read from both the Old and New Testaments’ priests, prophets,
disciples, evangelists as well as ordinary believers the calls and invitations:
“Give thanks to the LORD GOD, for he is good; and His steadfast
Love endures forever {1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 107} !. The

Apostle Paul caps those calls when he says: “ Do not
be anxious about anything, but in everything by
prayers and Thanksgiving let your request be made
known to God! (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV). In other
words, the Believers’ Thanksgiving must be more
than their petition to God, for a thankful heart is a
grateful heart! Now, with grateful hearts, Believers
would be surely prepared to hear and joyfully receive
the Good News as revealed in the 3rd and final
celebration in the month of November 2021. I.E. The
“ADVENT SEASON” -Sunday 28thth November
2021 marks the beginning of the announcement of
Jesus’ Birth and His second coming. The fact is, this
call is meant to be more prepared in the Spirit, heart
and mind. However, the global response of symbolic
Christmas Decorations with wreath, dramas,
evergreen trees, lights, parties etcetera attest to the
importance of this Season to the world.
My friends, I have said all of the above to help us
begin to think and ask ourselves two simple questions:
1. In the midst of this very deadly pandemic, how
have we made it into the 11th month of 2021? And 2.
What do I owe the source(s) of my safety and
survival? I do know that each of us has his or her own
opinion when it comes to the above questions, and I
definitely respect that. However, I’m here to testify
that I have made it thus far by faith in the three
inseparable “O’s” – natures and power of God made
manifest in the life and work of our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ. The three inseparable “O’s” nature of our
God are: 1. God’s Omnipresent- (everywhere at the
same time) assure me of his presence in every
circumstance of life. 2. God’s Omniscient (All
knowing) guides me through challenging and difficult
times; and 3. God’s Omnipotent- (All powerful)
rescues me from every danger, seen and unseen.
While I do appreciate the scientists, health workers
and other experts that continue to provide us vaccines
and guidance to help keep us safe from the deadly
pandemic, I whole heartily give God-Almighty
Thanks and Glory for keeping us alive and safe up to
this point in time. YES! God’s grace has made it
possible and to Him Be the glory and honor for the
great and marvelous things He has done and continue
doing in our lives.
As we enter the new month, November, that bring
about mixed feelings and reactions around the
memories we share, let us not forget that the same
God who has kept and shielded us through these
uncertain times is still on the throne and will surely
see us through every circumstance of life. As we
approach all the events of November and beyond,
let’s not forget to do so with Faithful Prayer, Hope,
and heartfelt Thanksgiving to our God as symbolized
by the above Prayer Hand and the three burning
candles.
May God richly bless you, your family and us all in
Jesus’ Name.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY AND A BLESSED
ADVENT SEASON
Rev. Jakes

 

October Message

Families and Friends of Racine 1st, welcome to a new and very beautiful Autumn also known as Fall Season in the name of Jesus Christ. When I gaze at the beauties and wonders of God’s creations, I’m deeply inspired by the truth and accuracy of the Psalmist when he says: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies announce what his hands have made. (Psallm19:1NCV).  

In the same vein as the heavens declare God’s glory, so do all of God’s creations including the wonderful seasons of each year and the messages each declares concerning its Creator-God. No doubts,  our God is an AWESOME GOD! I strongly believe God didn’t make anything at random, without purpose, but that all the creatures may declare his Glory!  This holds true for the four seasons in each year. They all differ in temperatures and how they impact our daily lives. Let’s take a brief look at the symbolic meanings of the Fall Season as someone once wrote in the “Busted Newsletter,” and how they impact us. First of all, let’s remember that the Fall Season marks a transitional period from a warmed and hot summer into the cold winter Season.  Now, here are the seven lessons the Fall Season represents and how they relate to our faith journey:

 

 1st.  Change- Heraclitus, the Greek Philosopher is quoted as saying, “The only Constant is CHANGE!”   Autumn /Fall Season help us pay attention to the changes taking place in our bodies and surroundings when temperatures begin to drop. Our surroundings look different as the flower, garden plants whither and the leaves on the trees begin to take on different colors and eventually fall off.  Jesus told his disciples to learn from the fig tree that had lost its leaves by teaching a lesson: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but his word will never pass away pass away!” (Matt. 24: 35 NIV). My friends, the message is clear, every created thing in this life, including power, and life itself, is temporary, transient, and thus unreliable!

 

 

2nd. Mystery- the changing nature of all created things in life each and every day reveals and presents us with more mysteries of the Creator

 

and his creations. This is an example of the unfathomable wisdom of God, except by faith!

 

3rd. Preservation- autumn reminds us of the need and importance of preserving life. This is evidence by the preparations often made by all living creatures, humans, other animals –large and small (ants, squirrels, etc.) as the winter season approaches. Along with other animals, we often recondition our dwelling places; gather enough food stuffs and other basic necessities of life before winter due to the uncertainty of winter weather. This reminds me of Jesus’ parable of his return and his call upon us to be prepared for this second coming. Paul says, the Lord may come like a thief, i.e., when one least expects. (Matt. 24:43; (1Thessalonians 5:2). We must be on the alert!   

 

4th. Protection – as we enter fall, our dress codes change from light to more thicker/heavy fabrics, foot wears from sanders and slippers to shoes and other feet wears that keep the toes warm. Dead leaves are constantly raked to keep the surroundings clean throughout the season.  As someone has said:   “Cleanliness is next to holiness!” You will agree that being a believer / Christian puts one at enmity with Satan; the principalities, powers and rulers of the dark world. It is in this light that the Apostle Paul warns us to protect ourselves by putting on the whole armor of God. ( Eph. 6:11-18).

 

5th. Comfort – Like preservation and protection, the Fall Season heightens our need for comfort.   In the midst of dropping temperatures, we seek comfort in most cases by creating serene and well insulated spaces. It also gives us a chance to learn, value and cherish what makes us feel warm and safe.  This in line with the Apostle Paul’s teaching on contentment. As believers, we must learn to be content in all of life’s circumstances! (Philippians 4:11).  

 

6th. Balance – during autumnal equinox, the length of day and night same to be the same.  This is the reason ancient cultures have always associated this time of year with the concept of balance. Autumn grants us an opportunity to harmonize with the Earth and tap into the balance within us. The need for balance is also true for our Spiritual journey in  life. There must be a balance between the believers’ faith and actions, words and deeds!

7th. Letting Go- does the phrase: “ let go and let God” sounds familiar? Well, we watch temperatures rise and drop to the tune of leaves falling. As usual, we might prefer a certain temperature on a particular over another, yet we don’t have the ability to sustain it. Autumn illustrates the beauty of letting go no matter what. Our inner egos and patterns of greed and pride can never change the course of nature. Letting go also stresses the truth of the temporary nature of everything around us! Applying this concept of “Letting Go,” to our spiritual life, every potential convert to our Lord and Savior makes a voluntary and conscientious decision to forsake and repent (Let go) of his or her sinful, old ways of life in acceptance of the new and vibrant life found only in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul says, anyone in Christ, he or she is a new Creation (person)…. (2Cor. 5:17).  You and I are members of the community new creation in Jesus. 

 

Finally, my friends, welcome to the beautiful Autumn/ Fall Season. May you and your family enjoy the amazing changes, mysteries of God’s creations, preservation, protection, comfort, physical/spiritual balance and let go and let God to his glory in the name of Jesus Christ.

Blessings,

Jakes   

 

September Message

 RETREAT, BUT REASSEMBLE:

“We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.

(2Corinthians 4:8-10-GNT)

Dear Families and Friends of Racine 1st U.M Church,

 

Greetings in the blessed name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. As always, I prayerfully hope you and your respective family are safe, healthy- even if not 100%, as well as staying cool in this hot and often humid summer weather.

 

My friends and Co-workers in our Lord’s vineyard, I can’t agree enough with you when it comes to how much challenges and difficulties we’ve endured, and still experiencing one way or another. The fact that the level of impacts this global deadly Pandemic COVID-19 has had and possibly is having, varies from one individual, family and community to another cannot be denied. For some it has been either oneself or a loved one mildly infected, treated and recovered. At the same time, for another, it’s either oneself, a loved or an entire neighborhood that was severally infected, treated and survived, but suffered and still struggling with some kind of side effects, while another may have sadly lost a closed loved one! Again, whatever has been either your personal experience, family’s or community’s  experience through these strange and difficult times, rest assured that you haven’t been, not for a second, alone! There was and still someone somewhere holding you all in his or her prayers! Most importantly, as a child and friend of Jesus Christ, you can count on his faithful promise: “ I will not leave you as orphans,” (John 14:18), and surely, he’s been present and will continue to do so even now until the end!

 

Remember, as a believer, physical separation, and at times isolation, from the assembly of other believers negatively impacts very essential parts of our life in ministry and mission together.  Some may argue, truly so, that

 

 

 

distance is not a Barrier to God’s power, presence and special blessings wherever and whenever the needs arise.

While the above argument is true, I would still like to extend a “Pastoral Invitation” to you, your family, relatives and friends: A warmed “Welcome Back To Church!”

 

Yes, it is true that our God is present with us in all places, in all circumstances and all of the time, but that does not diminish the importance of the need for the assembling of all believers. Alongside his call upon the struggling believers to persevere, the author of the Book of Hebrews writes: “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not NEGLECT our meeting together as some are doing.” (Heb. 10:23-25- NIV).

The Apostle Paul also reminds members of Corinthians Church that was very troubled and engulfed by internal and external conflicts not to give up, but keep holding firm to their faith, for the Lord would bring them the desired healing at his appointed time. (2 Cor. 4:8-10) In other words, just as gold is refined by fire in order to bring out its best, so are challenging and tough times we go through as believers in this life. They serve as tests of our faith so that once we remain steadfast and firm, the authenticity of our faith becomes an indisputable witness to help strengthen those with either weak or untested faith, as well as  a motivation for those who haven’t come to believe and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to do so.

 

My friends, how about we think of our being alive today as the gracious act of God keeping a Remnant, like he did with the Israelites, in order to continue spreading the Good News! (Romans 11: 1-5- ESV). Frankly, with all due respect to all the health professionals and the protocols, let’s not ever forget that you and I are alive today only by the Grace of God! We need to continue trusting Him with our safety as we gather for “In-Person Worship” in the days and months ahead.  

Now, trusting God to help us continue to keep ourselves and others safe, I’m please to present the schedule for the events marking our congregation’s formal “Welcome Back To Church

 

Sunday September  12, 2021- Special Coffee Hour (meet and greet), with a special Cake. Like “FRANC Sunday,” anyone may bring a favorite Snack to pass at the fellowship table following the worship Service.  Please invite and bring along a Guest!

 

In conclusion, we definitely missed each of you and would love to get back to our “In-Person” style of Worship.  However, while it is true that “In- Person Worship” has huge benefits to our faith journey including Christian socialization, Spiritual Growth and Witness, I would also encourage you to pray and follow God’s guidance in your choice of worship style. There is no pressure on anyone to join the “In-Person Worship!”

 

Thanks to all of you for your prayers, committed services and financial gifts to our congregation. Your gift in any kind enables the Lord’s ministry and mission through our congregation.  Deeply appreciated!

Finally, let’s stay prayerful, safe, and healthy in Jesus’ Name.

 

Blessings,

Rev. Jakes 

 

NOTE:  We will NOT HAVE THE REGULAR “FFRANC BREAKFAST” on September 5th.  As stated above, we will be celebrating “Welcome Back to Church” Sunday with refreshments following the worship service on September 12th.

 

 

BORDERS

 “Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”

 

As a human being and Christian, one of the teachings and practices of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that deeply appeals to me is the “Golden Rules: In everything, treat others as you would have them treat you, for this fulfills the law and prophets!” (Matt. 7:12). No doubt, every human being, irrespective of race, geographical location, societal status, etcetera, belongs to the same origin according to both our Biblical Creation Story and secular history’s “Homo Sapiens Species” theory.  Ultimately, we are products of a loving and compassionate God who created us in his own image. “So, as we have opportunity, let US DO GOOD TO EVERYONE,” says the Apostle Paul. (Gal. 6:10a-ESV).

 

In view of the above historical facts and many more, the founder of our  United Methodist Denomination, John Wesley, is widely known and quoted, as seen above, as a proponent of RANDOM ACTS OF EXTRAGANT GENEROSITY! Like Jesus, Wesley encourages all believers, especially United Methodist Christians, to be fully involved with Random Acts of Kindness throughout their lives! In other words, Jesus and John not only agreed, but also taught by examples that extending hands of Random Acts of Kindness to other needy brothers and sisters in order to help them realize their full God-given potentials in this life is one of the best ways for all believers to translate their faith into actions.

In light of all of the above, I would like to call your attention to one of the many “Random Acts of Extravagant Kindness” the Racine 1st United Methodist Congregation is currently undertaking in Kakata City, Republic of Liberia/ West Africa.

 

I believe this unique opportunity to do good in such a turbulent time must be a “Divine arrangement!” It began during my three weeks’ vacation to Liberia in May 2021. While in Kakata City, the Spirit led me to a middle-aged woman, Annie Kwita Dolo. Annie is married to Dolo and a mother of three children: Ernest, James and Grace. Like majority of Liberians,  Dolo

 

and Annie are unemployed! As seen in the above photos, this family of five lives in a “Mud-dubbed and palm thatched hut.” Conversing with Annie, the family’s deplorable living condition immediately caught my attention, and I was really devastated by her story to the point that I couldn’t get it out of my mind! At that moment, it became clear to me that the Lord wanted me to do something for this family. So, I promised the family that I would share their story upon my return to the United States in order to find help to raise the walls and complete their six-year-old foundation.

 

On Sunday 6th June 2021, my first day in the pulpit following my vacation, I did make the announcement, and later included the story in our monthly newsletter, declaring “SHELTER FOR ANNIE AND FAMILY” as a Mission Project for our congregation. As a pastor with very little or no knowledge in construction, I blindly estimated the cost of the building and asked for a $2,000.00 donation. Amazingly, by God’s providential power, members of our congregation have contributed $3,500.00 to this date! TO GOD BE THE GLORY!   Words are not enough to fully express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the kindhearted and generous members of our congregation! Yet, I say thanks to each and all of you!

 

Please take a moment to view the photos of the level of progress being made on the “Mission Project! Step 1 - describes the initial encounter with the family and identifies their present living condition. Step 2- shows what is needed to be done to help improve their living condition, i.e., raise the walls and roof the building. Step 3- demonstrates how much has been done in terms of our desired Missional Goal to provide a better and safe “Shelter for Annie and Family.” There stands a new building roofed with corrugated metal sheets! Again, to God be the Glory for the wonderful things he’s doing and accomplishing through you, me and all of us together! Indeed, we are PREACHING JESUS’ TRANSFORMATIVE GOOD NEWS and SHARING HIS COMPASSIONATE LOVE WITHOUT USING WORDS!  THIS IS A CLEAR DEMONSTRATION OF PRACTICAL FAITH IN ACTION!

 

While we’re celebrating the first three steps, let’s continue to pray for the remaining steps that will make the new home fully ready for them to live in. The steps are as follow:  Step 4- Cement to plaster the walls and lay floor; Step 5: Install six doors and five windows and Step 6: Possibly assist the family with transition into their new home.

 

I know some of you might be feeling this is too much more than initially thought, and you are right! I didn’t figure that out from the beginning too! However, do I feel sad and overwhelmed? Not at all!  In fact, I’m always very excited to be a little part of something bigger that God does that touches, nurtures and transforms lives to the glory of his own name! We have put our hands into this plow to give hope to a needy family, our sisters and brothers in Christ, let’s not be tempted to look back in despair and dash their hope. Remember, the God who called and presented us this mission never runs out of resources. As usual, He will surely provide the needed resources for the last three steps to complete this “Mission Project!” Remember, you and I are blessed to be blessings to others in the name of God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!

 

Thanks, and let’s stay prayerful, safe and well in Jesus’ name.

 

Blessings, Rev. Jakes