Done, Over and Finished

2018 is done, over and finished. You cannot go back and have do-overs for your mistakes, regrets and bad choices. But you don’t need to. God has pronounced that you get a brand new beginning because every one of your mistakes, regrets and bad choices is done, over and finished. So before you make any 2019 resolutions you’ll probably break before the end of January, make the one New Year’s resolution that really matters. Resolve to live every moment of every day as a Jesus-follower in the power of God’s amazing grace.

Breaking free
Jonesboro ministry helps men conquer their vices

Men from the Breaking Bonds program pose for a group photo after working with Arkansas State University in Jonesboro for the day. || Photo provided by Casey Turner

According to pastor Casey Turner, there are two ways to look at the past mistakes in your life.

“You can either look at it as a curse and allow it to keep you where you are, or you can look at it as a blessing and training to minister to those who have not yet hit rock bottom,” Turner said.

Turner is the director of Breaking Bonds Ministry in Jonesboro. Together, with his wife Tiffanie, Breaking Bonds help the community and Craighead County in breaking free from addictions such as drugs, alcohol, anger, and food.

“God put it into our hearts to start a ministry that not only taught the freedom that is in Christ but also to help others by teaching life skills through the word of God,” Turner said. “…We truly desire to teach people that there is a better way.”

Breaking Bonds Ministry is a dual treatment facility through their outreach ministry and their residential ministry, which began about a year and a half ago.

“My husband and I have the desire to those that are struggling and are at a point in their lives where they want to turn their lives around, but just don’t have the resources for that,” Tiffanie Turner said. “We have both gone through an addiction, and we know what it is like to be at rock bottom and not have the tools you need or to not have the resources available to help you pull out of that.”

Casey Turner said he and his wife met in 2009, at the end of a long season of drug abuse.

“Tiffanie was in drug court, battling to keep her freedom, and I was still in my addiction,” Casey said. “We were together a year when we turned our lives over to Jesus Christ, and that’s when everything began to change.

“As we grew together in the Spirit, we felt called to be testimonies of what the Lord can do in your life when you surrender all to him.”

Today, the couple has two children, and Casey serves as a pastor at First United Methodist Church in Jonesboro and is a business developer for “one of the largest glass manufacturers in the United States.” He said he and his wife just bought their first home and he recently received his driver’s license back after 13 years.

“I can tell you this, what it took me 26 years to destroy, only took God five years to repair,” Casey said. “God is mighty for tearing down the strongholds of bondage that we carry in our lives.”

The group gathers for a regular Bible study at the Breaking Bonds house. || Photo provided by Casey Turner

The residential ministry for Breaking Bonds is a seven-month program, during which, men go through discipleship training. The men must come to a Tuesday night worship service and interview to be received into the ministry.

“They are learning how to be a part of the church and becoming productive members of society by learning life skills here,” Casey said.

Part of the program includes life skill training, such as parenting classes, financial classes, marriage classes, resume training, work skills training, and business classes. By the last month, Tiffanie and her husband work with the men on an exit plan.

“We have found, they can complete a program, but if they don’t have a positive atmosphere to go back to, they aren’t successful,” Tiffanie said. “So we try to put that in place before they ever leave.”

Tiffanie, who serves as the chief operating officer for Breaking Bonds, said the residential program is for men, 18 years or older, but the Turners said they are working toward having a women’s facility in the future.

“It is an opportunity to show the grace we have been given,” Tiffanie said. “And that’s what we really try to do. We try to be their accountability and teach them a new way to live.”

Tiffanie estimates in the almost two years since the program started there have been 80 to 100 participants. She said one of their first graduates is now in seminary in Kentucky.

“We are helping the poverty-stricken communities in Craighead County break through to a better way of life,” Casey said. “By helping them find jobs, develop positive life skills and give assistance where it is most needed.”

For Breaking Bonds Ministry, the outreach program is an opportunity to minister and “to be His hands and feet.”

“People who have been in church, but have drifted away for whatever reason, we have seen them get plugged back in,” Tiffanie said. “And those who didn’t ‘fit in,’ we have seen them come into a service and end up staying.”

Part of their outreach includes a free meal every Tuesday night before worship services at the church, a feed the hungry outreach about four times a year, where the ministry provides hot dogs, passes out Bibles and prays with people.

“We do jailhouse stocking for the inmates every year at Christmas,” Casey said. “The bags include socks, Bibles, information about the ministry and stamped envelopes so they can write their families.”

Tiffanie said they make almost 400 stockings every year.

Casey said they rely entirely on donations to “continue to offer such a refuge for men with addiction.”

“We truly need support from the community,” Casey said.

For more information, visit www.bbministriesinc.org.

A Sunday Prayer 12/30/18

Lord,

Your love shines brightly in real life and real time.

.May it shine on us every moment overcome our fear, show us Your way, warm our hearts and fill us with Your hope.

May it shine in us so we can share it with others by living with joy, sharing Your grace, reaching out in acts of mercy and compassion, striving for justice and helping others experience Your ultimate hope.

May it shine through us as a reminder that it’s not about us, but how You have blessed us to be a blessing to others.

We pray this in the name of Your Love for the world, Jesus.

Amen.

Praying Can Be Risky

“I’ll pray for you.” You’ve uttered these words more times than you can count. But saying them carries a heavy responsibility because you’re now linked to that person, have a responsibility to them and are putting yourself in a position for God to go to work in ways that will do unexpected things in your life. So go ahead and tell that person who’s hurting, “I’ll pray for you.” It’s what Jesus-followers do. But beware. Praying can be risky because God uses it to take you to a brand new place.

Council of Bishops’ letter to the global LGBTQ community

To the People of the United Methodist Church:

Grace and Peace to you in these days of Christmas, and at the conclusion of a calendar year.

At the fall meeting of the Council of Bishops at St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, bishops approved a motion to send a pastoral letter to the Global LGBTQ community. A writing team, composed of a bishop from each central conference and jurisdiction, completed this task, on behalf of the Council. The letter follows.

We share this letter with you as an expression of our desire to strengthen the body of Christ. We confess our participation in the harm we have done to one another and to the LGBTQ community. In offering this letter we bear witness to the light of Jesus Christ, which enlightens everyone and is coming into the world (John 1: 9). And we pray that in the days ahead we will, with him, grow and become strong, that we will be filled with wisdom, and that the favor of God will rest upon us (Luke 2: 40).

The peace of the Lord,
+Ken Carter
Resident Bishop, Florida Conference President, Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

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Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

Friday, December 28, 2018

To our Global LGBTQ Kin in Christ,

The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church recognizes the ways in which the convening of the Special Session of General Conference creates a time and space of harm for you and members of your family. To be the focus of attention, discussion and debate is hurtful.

Demeaning and dehumanizing comments and attacks on LGBTQ persons in conversations related to the upcoming February Conference are a great tragedy and do violence to hearts, minds, and spirits. When you suffer, the whole body of Christ suffers. Together, we need to work to resist hate, violence, and oppression of persons. In these attitudes and actions, great harm is done throughout the community, to the offended and the offender.

As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12: We cannot say to a part of the body, “I have no need of you.” We belong to each other. In our Baptism, we are incorporated into the Church, the body of Christ, and made one in Christ. The Church pledges to every baptized member: ‘“Your joy, your pain, your gain, your loss, are ours, for you are one of us.”’ (The UMC Book of Worship, pg. 83). Our Book of Discipline clearly states that all people are of sacred worth.

As leaders of the church, we are brokenhearted by conversations that dishonor, objectify and dehumanize. We confess, as Bishops of The United Methodist Church and as we attempt to honor our convictions, that our actions and words have not always been life-giving or honoring of the LGBTQ community. Amid our sorrow, we seek to learn and grow in grace. To that end, we commit ourselves to helping people who disagree with each other to have conversations that include, honor, and respect people with different convictions. We are a diverse group of leaders—conservative, centrist, progressive—however, we are unified in our commitment to work together in ways that will give you and all God’s children strength, comfort and hope for better and more merciful tomorrows.

As the Special Session of General Conference approaches, we pray that the Holy Spirit will draw us together. May we see the image of God in one another, treat one another with tenderness, and love one another fiercely. Bearing Christ’s love in these ways, we pray to be God’s faithful witnesses.

The Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

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Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops The United Methodist Church

mmulenga@umc-cob.org
202-748-5172