The Heart in Transformation: The Life of David

Rev. Dr. Mark Raeburn Johnston

– one –

A Life Purposed by Divine Design

Later this month we hope to re-open our church for Sunday fellowship. Of course, we will observe the necessary protocols to ensure the safety, health and well-being of each congregant and those guidelines will be published in advance of our first Sunday meeting.

Because we will not have the privilege of worshiping together in our beautiful sanctuary over the next few weeks, I am posting a series of devotionals entitled; The Heart in Transformation: The Life of David. This series can be read on our Facebook and Web sites and I hope these messages will bring some measure of comfort and inspiration to readers.

I am calling the first devotional, A Life Purposed by Divine Design which is meant to reassure each of us that the living God knows us and has a wonderful plan for our lives.

When Michelangelo sculpted his magnificent 17 foot, marble statue of David, he claimed that he simply chipped away until David emerged from his stony captivity. Michelangelo believed that the image of David “had been trapped inside the block of marble.”

After three years of intense labor, that image was set free for all the world to view.  Concerning the move of the six-ton statue, Michelangelo wrote in his diaries “it took forty men five days to move it. Once in place, the statue was a warning…whoever governed Florence should govern justly and defend it bravely…

Michelangelo’s message in stone was that those who would presume to lead a people are accountable to both God and man.

This ties us into the larger story of David, a study of faith and accountability of a man who was a shepherd and king, a son and a father, a husband and friend, a warrior and a worshiper.

According to First Samuel, chapter 13 verse 14, ‘David was a man after God’s own heart’ which means that David looked to God for guidance on a daily basis. As a consequence, David’s life was a life purposed by divine design! The realization of divine purpose occurs within the framework of faith.

To better understand David we must remember the story of his great-grandmother, Ruth, a Moabite woman of faith.  Ruth teaches us that accountability to God begins by walking in obedience with the Lord, Who brings us from famine to feast, from failure to victory, from alienation to family.

We learn that faith in God shapes our futures with unimagined possibilities. We are liberated from the prisons of doubt, low self-esteem and uncertainty when the Sculptor of our destiny is the living God! We walk with the promise that God can do something wonderful with our lives when we place our trust in Him!

A friend once told me that the wealthiest place in any community is not the bank, not the stock-market, nor any other institution, but rather, the local cemetery.

Buried in every graveyard are the marvelous inventions, the wonderful cures and amazing discoveries that should have come into the world but were never realized because of a lack of self-confidence and reliance upon the Lord. How many of us have ‘buried’ our talents and gifts? Who among us has forgotten the inspired dreams that promised so much but never materialized because of some criticism?

May I suggest that no matter your age, level of education of social standing, “you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you” (Philippians chapter 4 verse 13).

In other words, those who actively seek the Lord are better postured to realize the divine purpose of God in this life. In this manner, shepherds have become kings.

Because the eye of the Sculptor sees something in each of us, what we might call ‘our potential’ or the ‘what could be’ factorour lives are open ended with incredible possibilities that can honor God while blessing others!

However, this requires that His skilled hands chip away the unnecessary stone that so often traps and hinders our potential. Such processes are always difficult and sometimes painful.

But the polished result becomes a witness to the entire world!

From dust and stone emerges the eternal image of His grace! His Holy Spirit convicts, guides and counsels us while transforming our hearts as children of God.

As we search for Scriptural truths about this beloved shepherd king named David, let’s also search our own hearts and stand ready for the touch of God, our heavenly Sculptor! Then let’s commit our lives in service to God and others.

The most beautiful heart is the heart sculpted by God

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

(Second Corinthians chapter 3 verse 18)

All  in-person gatherings are suspended through May 20

Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, released this statement regarding the latest guidance in response to the coronavirus pandemic in our state:

South Carolina United Methodists continue to fulfill our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world in remarkable and groundbreaking ways in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

You are maintaining and spreading hope in spite of unprecedented restrictions on established ways of doing ministry.

You are standing steadfast in spite of this extended period of isolation we are all living through.

You are creatively staying connected with your communities, even as we continue to observe social distancing and other safety advice from health experts.

In consultation with The Cabinet, and in compliance with the most recent information shared by public health officials, I am strongly recommending that leaders of each local church continue to suspend in-person worship services – and all gatherings, meetings and events – through May 20, 2020. Conference leaders will continue monitoring developments in the pandemic, and we will share our recommendations about events planned beyond May 20 in the coming weeks.

My friends, we serve a loving God whose word is a light that brightens our path even when it is difficult for us to see. The time will come when we will be together again physically. Together in worship. Together in service. Together in fellowship. We will pass the peace again. We will stand shoulder-to-shoulder again, praising our Savior in word and song.
In the meantime, I know that you will remain persistent in finding ways to be in community with your sisters and brothers in Christ. Our regularly updated collection of resources to help local churches through this unprecedented time can be found at

And please meet me each morning – on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and at – as we continue to pray for those affected by the coronavirus, for those experiencing stress and anxiety and financial uncertainty, for medical professionals treating and caring for patients, and for those working to ensure a healthier future for all of us.

Grace and peace,

L. Jonathan Holston
Resident Bishop

April 25, 2020

In this challenging environment, we are all questioning what is happening and how we will get through these difficult times.  Our expectations and hopes are suspended between the hard facts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the hopeful promises of God’s Word.

Our FUMC webpage includes devotionals, bible studies and other news that instructs, inspires and brings encouragement in our daily walk with God! We invite you to visit with us this Sunday to hear the message, “Are You a Stranger to Jerusalem?”


Volunteer Opportunities to Support COVID 19 Response with the

Pee Dee Region Public Health Reserve Corps

4-23-2020Nurses – Support Epidemiological Call Center, contacting people who have been in contact with someone diagnosed as positive for COVID 19 to ensure they are tested and self – isolate as needed.  Need volunteers in or near Horry County who can commit to at least three days per week for several weeks/months. Shifts are 8:30 to 5:00 pm, seven days a week.

Nurses and Non-Medical – Logistics Support – Assist with movement of supplies or other items as needed.

Specimen Transport – When scheduled, drive to designated Health Department to pick-up lab specimens for delivery to State public health lab.

Point of Dispensing (POD) Support – During a mass vaccination/distribution operation, provide vaccinations, logistical or administrative support as needed at a local POD site.

Non Congregate Care Support – Provide support as needed to people housed in non-congregate care settings.


Sign up at

Call Jenny Latour at 843-331-7575 for more information



Easter 2020

The Cross at the Amphitheater behind First United Methodist Church, BENNETTSVILLE – where a few gathered at 0900 this morning – practicing social distancing, meditated, sang and prayed, to the Glory of God and our risen Savior – Glory Be To God ! Amen. Thanks to Elaine Crowe for the Easter Lily and white cloth.