Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sermon Player Added

I just figured out how to add the sermon player from the website I use to post my sermons on this blog.  You will now find the sermon player at the bottom of this blog. 


Going Missional

At Catawba UMC we have been in a series called Going Missional.  It's been all about serving others and seeing church not just as what happens within the walls of a building on Sunday morning, but who we are as a community of people led by the Spirit of God. 

This Sunday the title of the message is More than Words.  I'm excited to share the message and a powerful video that I think brings home the point.

The culmination of the series is the beginning of a new chapter of service in the life of Catawba UMC.  We are starting a ministry called First Serve Staurday.  On Saturday April 9th the people of Catawba will gather together for a brief time of prayer then be sent out to serve the community at four different venues.

I'm scared and excited at the same time.  Questions arise: Will we have enough people?  Will we have too many people?  Will the leaders be prepared?  Have I communicated clearly and effectively?  Will this be something that we can keep going?  

These are all questions based on fear.  They're real and raw and honest and while I deal with them, I am not guided by them.  I am guided by the truth that when the church strives to truly be who God calls her to be, He will bless her and guide her in a way that makes these fears nothing more than my own insecurities.

I am excited about what God is doing and about what God is going to do. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Favorite Comment

A fellow colleague of mine posted my favorite comment yet.  I had blogged on how I did not pass the Board of Ordained ministry to complete the process of ordination (you can read the blog here and it just means I will have to wait until next year to try again).

Here was his comment:

I am so sorry to hear this, and I've been away from blogs I follow for a while so I'm sorry I'm late to comment, but I'll do it anyway.

I did not pass on my first time through the commissioning process. I didn't pass the Call and Discipline life part. I had to go back to seminary, with all my friends who just went through their processes and tell them I did not pass. I passed what I was suppose to know (theology). I passed what I was suppose to do (preaching). But I didn't pass who I was. It hurt and it cut deep.

People always wanted to say, "it is just a year, don't worry it will go by quickly and it will only be a blip on the screen." "God has a plan, don't worry." Both of those things, and more, I did not want to hear. It sucked. It $*!@#(^) sucked! And I was comforted more by the people who let it suck.

My prayer for you is that as it sucks people will name that and just let it be. All the other stuff is true and now, 10 years later it does feel like a blip, but even now it still sucks.

I stand with you in this time, not to wash it away or to try to make you feel better. I stand with you in the midst of the sucking because that is where Christ is as well.

Peace be with you.

It's my favorite comment thus far because it is the essence of what pastoral ministry is all about.  Pastoral ministry is first and foremost incarnational.  It's presence.  It's not about having the right words.  It's not about offering glib platitudes.  It's not about saying something cliche just to say something because you don't know what else to say.  It's not about trying to fix someone.  It's about letting a person be where they are and letting them know that you are with them.

Thanks for the comment Jim Parsons...and as a thank you I would ask you to check out his blog found here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Anthony Robles

I would like to introduce you to Anthony Robles.  I do not know him personally, but his story is amazing.

He recently won the NCAA national wrestling championship in the 125lb weight class.  His record for the season was 36-0.

While that is quite an accomplishment, what makes it even more special is that he only has one leg.

So next time you think you can't do something because you have a handicap or a weakness, just remember Anthony Robles. 

Oh, and you can remember 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 as well:

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I led my first Ash Wednesday service yesterday evening.  To be honest, I did not look forward to doing it.

I'm not sure why. 

It could've been the fear of the unknown.  I had never done the imposition of the ashes.  

It could've been the more liturgical nature of the service.  I probably go too far on the side of "non liturgical" than I do "too liturgical."

It could've been the theological implications of self-examination and confession.  Who likes to do that?  It's absolutely necessary, but often scary and painful.

Whatever reason for not wanting to do it, it ended being a very powerful experience for me and I think for those who attended.

I am so thankful that God is a master at turning something we often don't want to do into an experience that draws us closer to Him.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Love Wins

It's not often that I get excited about a new book.  I have three favorite authors and when one of them drops a new title it goes straight to the top of my reading list.

The three authors are Donald Miller, Yann Martel and Rob Bell.

Rob Bell has a new book coming out called Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of every Person who ever Lived.  The book and it's promo video (which you can watch here) has already stirred quite a bit of discussion and controversy. 

The reason it has gotten so much attention (besides Rob Bell's popularity) is the subject of the book.  Some people have prematurely labelled Rob Bell as a universalist (the idea that everyone is saved regardless of whether or not they recognize Christ as Lord and Savior). 

At this point it's an unfair label.  The book has not even released yet. 

However, even if Rob Bell does turn out to be a universalist that's his perogative.   It doesn't change the fact that God has used him in my life and in the life of thousands of other people to bring us closer to God.

For a fair blog post that says more about universalism and Rob Bell, check out Scot Mcknight's post here.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

From Knowing to Experience

I completed the Master of Divinity program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2004.  Most seminaries do not require the extensive work in Greek and Hebrew for the general M.Div. like Gordon-Conwell does. 

At GC 1/3rd of your classes will be working with the Greek and Hebrew languages if you pursue an M.Div.  You are required to take two classes to learn Greek, then one to learn how to use it, then two more classes to show you can actually put what you have learned to work (called exegesis).  That's five classes just in Greek.  Then you have to take two classes to learn Hebrew and two more to show that you know how to use it.  That's four classes in Hebrew. 

That's 9 classes that you will be working with either the Greek or Hebrew languages at Gordon-Conwell.  If you pursue an M.Div. full time at GC most semesters you will be working with Greek or Hebrew.

I did not enjoy those classes.  They were hard and I did not have either a natural like of them nor a natural gift of them.  I'm proud to say that I got a C- in Greek 2 which was a blessing (because if you get a D at GC you have to take the class over).

Even though I didn't like the work, I knew doing it was important.  I knew that learning those languages was an essential skill to studying and understanding the Bible in a way that was faithful to God and to the original authors.   

Here's where what I knew turned into practical experience. 

I was recently reading a book that said a Hebrew word is used in Genesis 2:7.  I was carefully excited.  I was excited because what the author was saying would've fit my sermon for this Sunday perfectly. 

However, when I looked it up in several different resources I found that the author is absolutely 100% wrong.  It is not a subjective wrong either, the word he said that was used in the original Hebrew language is not the word in that text.  I even e-mailed a friend to confirm because I couldn't believe this author would make such a big mistake.

I am no scholar with the Greek or the Hebrew languages.  In fact, I would say my ability with each of them at this point is elementary.  However, because of the language requirements as part of the M.Div. at Gordon-Conwell I know enough to be able to maintain language integrity and it kept me from sharing something from the pulpit that would not be biblically accurate.

I am so thankful for when knowing becomes experience.