Pastors Page by Rev. Matt Stengel

When the storms of life are raging, stand by me;
When the world is tossing me like a ship upon the sea,
Thou who rulest wind and water, stand by me.
C.A. Tindley 1906 (UM Hymnal #512)

Dear Friends;
People have noticed that I am a little frazzled from time to time as I try to get used to a new church, a new town, a new house, and a new living situation. There is a lot to know and a lot to learn. I have to find my way around the streets and roads; I have to learn new names; I have to learn what committee does what, and which key opens which door. I don’t even know what I don’t know yet – although I am learning what questions to ask. Occasionally, someone will ask me, “Are we overwhelming you?”

The answer to that question is : “No,” - not because I am hyper-organized, not because I am physically and emotionally strong, but because I trust in one who is strong for me when I am weak, who cares for me when I don’t care for myself, who is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. The key Bible verse for our Vacation Bible School this year is Ephesians 6:10, …”Be strong in the Lord and in the power of God’s strength.” God will give us the “armor” we need to be strong, courageous, loving, justice-loving disciples. Because I believe that too, and try to live that advice, I may be frazzled, but I am not overwhelmed (see 2 Corinthians 4: 7-9). I have always had people to remind me of this, so if I ever have trouble remembering, they are there for me. I have already begun to experience this here, as people have told me they are praying for me. To be overwhelmed is to have the wave knock you over and drag you out to sea. To be overwhelmed is to have the flood waters finally go up over your head.

To be overwhelmed is to have lost the struggle. Being overwhelmed is what the disciples were afraid of when they were out on the sea and a storm blew up. Jesus, who was with them, chided them for not trusting that he would keep them safe, but then he calmed the waters and made them safe (Mark 8: 35-41). I may be frazzled from time to time, but because I know that God is with me, I am not overwhelmed.

Many of you are dealing with problems that are far more taxing and far more dangerous than my current struggles. As the “waves” get higher and more violent, it is harder to trust that anyone, even God, will be able to get you through. Yet we are assured that nothing, not even death, can separate us from God’s great love in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8: 38-39). If you need help believing this, or need some help remembering, don’t hesitate to come to me, or ask me to come to you. I may be frazzled, but I have time for you. I look forward to the days ahead, as we begin to sail out together on the waters of ministry. I hope that we can strengthen, reassure, and bring joy to one another, whether it is smooth sailing or the storms of life are raging.

In Christ’s love,

Matt

Pastor Matt Stengel