3 Keys to Perseverance

Nothing truly significant in our lives gets accomplished without perseverance.  The ability to be tenacious, steadfast, and work through challenges without giving up is an important quality to develop and an essential quality for building our Christian character.  The challenge is that everyone needs and wants the quality of perseverance, but nobody enjoys going through the struggles and trials required to build perseverance into our lives.   James 1:2-4 tells us to consider it “joy” when we encounter trials because this is a testing of our faith designed to produce perseverance in us.  James goes on to say that perseverance must complete its work in us so that we might become mature.  Listen to the April 22 sermon, “The Perseverance Test.”

Let me offer three keys to perseverance: 

  1. First, remember that there will be storms and struggles in life.  We often fail to persevere because we have unrealistic expectations that life should be easy or relatively trouble free.  Jesus tells us just the opposite, “in this world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33).  Accepting that life will be difficult and that there will be struggles helps us prepare to persevere.  Paul tells Timothy to “endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).  We don’t have to be pessimistic, but we should be realistic about the storms and struggles of life.
  2. A second key is to remember that the purpose of life is to grow mature in our faith and character.  Perseverance helps us with that (James 1:2-4).  God is more interested in our maturity level than our comfort level, so there will be periods of our lives where we will need to deal with uncomfortable circumstances and challenges.  God intends to work it all for good (Romans 8:28), but we must remember that the purpose of life is growth, and growth requires struggle, and struggle requires perseverance.
  3. A final key is to remain confident in God’s power. Ultimately, we do not persevere on our own, we persevere through the power of Christ at work within us (Philippians 4:13).  We can and should be confident that the Lord who began a good work in us will bring it to completion and we will be witnesses of His power and goodness in our lives (Philippians 1:6).

Pastor Mark Miller

Finding Joy When Life is Hard

During our 40-Day Joy Challenge this Lent, we had the most involvement of any church-wide study we have done in the past few years. “The Joy group has been an amazing outlet for me to communicate with other parents and share stories about things we are experiencing with our children. Being able to read the devotional and then apply it to my life has been life changing for me.” — Kristin Sheely. “40 Days not only gives us Paul’s recipe for the Joyful Life that Christ promises to all of us but the author, Tommy Newberry, provides us with the roadmap for “training our brains” to take on a more heavenly perspective in every aspect of our lives and, particularly, difficult and challenging times. Each lesson has brought meaningful discussion in our class about God’s joyful plan for all of us. We have literally run out of time each week as we delve into this more God-centered way of thinking.” – Aldersgate Class

Highlights include:

  • 475 Joy devotional books distributed
  • 2916 Joy page views on the website; 968 are from new folks (more than any other pages on our website other than homepage)
  • 834 visits to the Joy series Sermon Weekly Guide on the Mobile App (one mobile app user is in the Caribbean, and one is in China!)
  • 7 new Joy Small Groups (some of these are unique formations such as: a mom and her 3 adult daughters, a facebook group, visitors from Maryland who are listening to the sermons and watching the videos with their family)
  • Many new folks joined existing Life Groups and Sunday School classes to participate in the Joy Group discussion questions (one Sunday School class has had 8 new folks in 2 weeks; the High School Joy Group had 22 in attendance one Sunday)
  • 3 of the Joy Groups are continuing to meet and are now discussing the James sermon series!


Most families will agree that today there is a bigger emphasis on running around and getting things done than there is on making time to connect with others. Thanks to our recent church-wide study based on Tommy Newberry’s 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life, some in our church family are working to change that situation. Several members opted to participate individually in the study while others chose to organize a group to share the experience. One such group is the one that Rebecca and Karl Boggs were a part of. Sometimes feeling that their spiritual journeys were like solo endeavors, Rebecca acknowledged that they “needed something more, another outlet with more consistency and more accountability.”

Most of the group members already knew each other before the class began, and Rebecca adds that it was “nice to be part of a team whose members were in the same phase of life or stage of parenting.” In other words, they were searching for the energy of relationships to provide inspiration and motivation. Rebecca liked the format of the class: read, discuss, and then watch the video to usher in the next week’s discussion. She also praised the church staff for encouraging everyone to get involved and the pastors for providing continuity between the lessons and their sermons.

As the 40-day study drew to a close, participants agreed that they had benefited from the course and wanted to continue on their spiritual journey together. Now they meet on Sunday evenings when their youngsters are in Crew meetings. However, they have made one small addition: a little fellowship time at the beginning of the meeting to compare notes on how their life journeys are unfolding.    

Dee Swanson

How to Deal with TestsTest

Life is full of tests.  The purpose of a test is to reveal, to educate, to evaluate.   Tests may not always be enjoyable, but they are helpful tools.   We will be tested in this life through circumstances, challenges, problems, struggles and opportunities.  We will be tested in this life because life is a school.  Listen to the April 15 sermon, “This is a Test.”

The New Testament Epistle of James is a helpful book to study because it is full of wisdom for taking on the tests of life.  James deals honestly with some of the biggest issues that we all face, issues like perseverance, temptation, dealing with anger, treating other people graciously, expressing anger in a healthy way, and living out our deepest values when it is difficult or inconvenient.

I encourage Christians who are serious about living out their faith to make a serious study of the book of James.  It is helpful, challenging and motivating.  Worth the time and effort to read and study for anyone who wants to do well in the tests of life.

Pastor Mark Miller

Financial Peace University

At the beginning of 2018, we offered the Financial Peace University (FPU) Class here at Virginia Beach United Methodist.  Our class just ended in March with 16 participants and 4 facilitators. 

Dave Ramsey’s nine-week course, Financial Peace, highlights budget challenges early in the class when he encourages participants to “live like no one else, so you can later live like no one else.” Classmate Lee defined the challenge as “making sacrifices that few in our society are willing to make over an extended period of time” and concluded that “if you stay the course, you come out way ahead.”

Rachel, another classmate, is grateful for the “useful cash flow plan” which “has given me a boost in my confidence and enhanced my feeling of being in control of my finances. I have begun to teach my daughter what I am learning in an effort to assist her in creating her future financial wealth.”

Seldom do we have an opportunity to sit in a classroom with folks ranging in age from 20-something to 70-plus- something to discuss a common problem: our financial futures. How encouraging to be able to do so knowing we are not alone in our journey. All of us acknowledged, rather embarrassingly at times, the poor choices we had made in the past. Rather than be discouraged, though, we found good-humored Dave Ramsey to be a champion of specific steps to get our family finances on the road to a more peaceful conclusion. Anyone, whether 20 or 70, who is looking for a great structure for family finances will benefit from this important course. To quote the famous chess master Charles A. Jaffe, “It’s not your salary that makes you rich; it’s your spending habits.” This class will not teach you how to become rich, but it will teach you how to save and spend wisely.

Rachel’s sentiment is one shared by all the participants: “Thank you to VBUMC and our talented instructors for providing this class and giving us tools to grow and become better stewards of the resources that God has given us.”

– Dee Swanson, VBUMC Member

Below are some insights from the participants, in case you are thinking about taking an FPU class in the future:

Did you experience any God-moments or have insights about how your beliefs can/do influence your financial life?

handle money save money

  • Always – without God, I cannot imagine
  • I gave direct to the church for the first time
  • The ability to give more by managing and getting rid of debt; I have more to give by paying off mortgage
  • Stewarding my finances in a way that is pleasing to God and allows me to leave an inheritance to my children
  • Underscored the necessity of always tithing

 What one concept or insight from this class was most helpful to you?

  • Insurance (cancer)
  • Monthly budgeting
  • Benefits of working and saving for college
  • Getting out of debt and evaluate insurance coverage
  • Live life now in a mindful way so I can enjoy life later on
  • Dave says, “Children should not start their lives at their parents’ level. (Social/Economic)

“Every person’s financial situation is unique depending on their choices in life.  We all relate!  I learn something new every time we offer the course.”  – Joanne Griggs



Faith-Based Women’s Retreat 2018

101 women attended the annual Women’s Retreat this year on March 9-11 at the Ramada Plaza at Nags Head, NC. Many women said they liked making new friends, bonding with wonderful Christian women, sharing thoughts and fears, and just having time away to focus on being a child of God. One of the main take-a ways was that everyone is dealing with some type of journey, everyone has troubles, and we are all the walking wounded. One attendee said, “The important thing to remember is that each person is placed in my life for me to connect with God. God works through community, and that can be anywhere and anytime.”

Other women commented:

Women's Retreat 2018 group

  • “The women’s retreat was a wonderful time to check out of my agenda and check (totally) in with God. It was such a special weekend with an unforgettable message from Rhonda Vandyke. Buen Camino!” – Jenny Davis, 1st Time Attendee
  • “I had never attended a women’s retreat, and I admit that I felt slightly nervous.  Once I arrived, listened, learned, and prayed, I no longer felt nervous.  Our speaker was dynamic and offered many spiritual insights.  I left the retreat with a certain peace and feeling even closer in my faith.”  – Carol Buckler

We offer this Women’s Retreat every spring, so check back here this fall for Spring 2019 dates and information!