The Blog of Gordon Pruitt the Pastor of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in Richmond Virginia
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Finally got around to reading my December issue of Fast Company and the book review this month was on "A Perfect Mess." The book claims and has research to back it up that "moderately disorganized people, institutions, and systems frequently turn out to be more efficient, more resilient, more creative and in general more effective than highly organized ones." The only unanswered question is am i moderately disorganized or completely disorganized? If someone from the church paid someone to come in to help you get organized is it possible to be only moderately disorganized? Anyway i see this as good news for me and my fellow slobs. Say amen if you can!
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Our church is taking a special Christmas Eve offering. All the money that is given we go to help a man in Goochland County get running water. It’s hard to believe but there are about 20 homes in Goochland without running water. You have to dig a well, have a drainage field, the plumbing and some other stuff. We are calling this, “It’s Not Your Birthday Offering” because its not our birthday so why should we get all the gifts?
On Thursday I got to meet the person whom we are doing this for. I was excited about meeting him but I left the meeting discouraged. He is a 47 year old man who appears to be in good health and in his right mind. Yet he does not have a job and does not appear to be too worried about it. I just had a bad vibe about it. As we were leaving I felt surely there has to be someone that is more deserving than this man.
Later that night as I was reflecting on the situation I felt God speak to me in that still small voice, “what if I gave you what you deserved? What if I failed to extend to you my grace and love because of your laziness or lack of gratefulness?” Also I don’t know everything about this guy’s story and my assumptions could be way off. Wow was I convicted. And as I was reminded, if anybody in this world is in need of grace it is me. It is amazing to me how easily I fall into the sin of judging others while failing to look at my own self. As Tim Keller says, “we are more sinful than we ever dared to believe and we are more loved than we ever dared to imagine.”
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
For Advent this year I am stealing, borrowing, a sermon series from Michael Slaughter of Ginghamsburg Church. The idea of the series is to finish the sentence, "all I want for Christmas is" from the prospective of Jesus.
I thought that was an awesome idea so we are using it.
At Ginghamsburg these were his sermons:
"all i want for Christmas is for you"
to love one another
to have full term faith
to remember the poor
to remember the child
At St. Matthew's this is what we are going to do:
"all I want for Christmas is for you"
to remember who and what Christmas is about
to have full term faith
to remember the poor
I am still praying and thinking about what the other 2 sermons will be. If you were to finish the statement from Jesus' perspective what would some of your answers be?
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Last March I signed up for a physical fitness program called Seal Team PT. Seal Team is a fitness program created by former Navy Seal John McGuire. It is an awesome program and it hard to believe that people pay money to be worked to death at 5:45 in the morning. It's not unusual at the end of a workout to have done over 200 push ups and dips and to have ran a minimum of 2 miles. But that is exactly what over 150 people do everyday.
Three weeks ago while jumping on a trampoline with an 8 year old, John fell off and broke his neck. Today he left the hospital 3 weeks ahead of schedule and while he has a long way to go he expects to make a full recovery. Here is a story about John from today's Richmond Times Dispatch. John you continue to be in my prayers and look forward to seeing you soon.
Posted by Gordon Pruitt at 4:48 PM
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
After more than a month of not snacking, i fell off the wagon today. I had survived Halloween and was continuing to cruse along. Than around 4 PM while sitting in my office i began to smell the aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies from the church kitchen. There was no turning back, i had 6 cookies.
Posted by Gordon Pruitt at 10:35 PM
Friday, October 27, 2006
I was doing my normal pastoral duties today and I was paying a visit to a young lady from our church that had surgery earlier this week. As I was entering the house their dog bit me! I quickly recovered and continued on with my visit. Nothing like a battle wound for the Lord! I'm not going to say whose dog it was, but his initials are HH, he lives in Rockville and he has canceled Bible study this Tuesday in honor of Satan's holiday.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
I was reading 1 Peter and came across 4:1 and it stopped me in my tracks, "therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because those who have suffered in their body are done with sin."
It struck me struck me that I have never suffered in the body for Jesus. Now I am sure that Peter had something different in mind than what I came up with but I realized that when it comes to eating I have never denied myself. I eat what I want when I want. I don’t deny myself in that area and whenever we don’t deny ourselves in any area, eating, sleeping, beer, or whatever it is has the potential to become god in our lives. As silly and as dumb as this sounds a truth was revealed to me: I was a slave to my body when my body should be a slave to Jesus.
So as a result of this “revelation” my first step was to stop snacking and only 3 meals a day, which translates, "no snacks at all." For the last 3 weeks I have done this. The most surprising part is how easy this has been. Sometimes at night, (I’m a night owl) I’ll get hungry but it has not killed me like I figured it would. Don’t know how long I'll continue to do this but I will keep at it for awhile. The next step in the progression is to fast and maybe make fasting a regular part of my life. Jesus says in the Bible, “when you fast”, not “if you fast,” and John Wesley fasted a minimum of one day a week. I have fasted in the past but I always knew I could pig out the next day and it was never a regular spiritual discipline.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Thursday thru Saturday I addend the UMerging Colloquy at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City, Kansas. Below are the highlights and lowlight of the trip.
-missed my first flight because of traffic in I 95. Still made it to the conference in time!
-on the connecting from Dulles to Chicago I was asleep before we took off and did not wake up until we landed. That is the way to travel!!
-got to hear Adam Hamilton and Brian McLaren speak. Hamilton was OK but McLaren was great!! I’ve heard him speak several times and he usually confuses me, but this was the best I have heard from him. For some notes from the talk click here.
-I helped lead worship for the first time in years (since I’ve had children). This is a real stretch as my friend Andrew really lead it, I stood beside him pretending to strum my guitar. Thank you Daniel for asking me to do this. Daniel by the way is the Hispanic Adam Hamilton.
-Was part of a group of 60 United Methodist for the UMerging Colloquy that had a “conversation” about the emerging church. Meet some cool people who are doing some really awesome stuff including this one pastor who has a fight club Bible Study in a Tattoo parlor!
-Our UMerging Colloquy meet in the basement of the COR amongst the food pantry and donated computers. My first thoughts were this is lame but after reflecting it was the perfect place to meet.
-Had our church web site inadvertently put with other churches that are considered emerging. This was very funny as I am sure that our church is not any where close to be emerging, not that it is a bad or a good thing. I asked for it to be taken down and it was quickly. That you Susan!!.
-Had to read a great article by Hal Knight professor from St. Paul Seminary in Kansas City about how the UMC and the Emerging Church fit.
-Had breakfast on Saturday morning with Rev. Mark Holland, friend who is serving the poor in Kansas City. Pray for him and his ministry, and that he would become a Yankee fan.
Friday, September 22, 2006
I had a meeting in Northern VA this morning and had to be back in Richmond by 2 for a wedding rehearsal. I left later than planned and stopped by 7-11 because of the time crunch for lunch. As i was going in a saw a sign that said Big Bites 2 for $1.99. I'm cheap and that sounded like a good deal. So i fixed the hot dogs up and got back into the car. Midway through the first Big Bite i knew i had made a mistake. That was my first and last "Big Bite."
What food does you in?
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
One of my highlights each week is when i get my Sports Illustrated. This week Pat Tillman was on the cover. Pat Tillman was the much celebrated professional football player who left the millions of dollars on the table to enlist in the army so he could join the fight against terrorism. A couple of years latter he was killed in a Afghanistan by friendly fire. The article was about what happened the day he died and the controversies surrounding it.
The bummer of the article for me was that Tillman was an atheist. At his memorial service his brother said, "Pat's not in heaven with God, Pat's f*****g dead."
I could not move beyond that quote and have thought about it everyday since.
He's saying that this is the end. Pat is no more and he's not in a better place, he is died. We will not be reunited with him someday, its over, death is the end.
How sad it must be for people who live it that reality. That death is indeed the end. We really would have reason to be sad if that was the truth.
But the good news of the gospel is that it does not have to be that way. One of the many promises God has given us is the hope of the resurrection. Jesus said "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me even though they die, yet shall they live."
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Leigh Ann and I are pleased to announce to birth of our 3rd child and daughter Chloe Grace. She was born on August 23, 2006 weighing 7lb 13 oz. Chloe and Leigh Ann are doing great. Jordan and Karis love their new sister.
In each of our girls' room we have a Bible verse. In Chloe's room we have parts of Luke 18:16&17. "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly i tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."
The reason we picked these verses is that I heard Dallas Willard teach on this and he explained these verses in a way that i have never heard before. Willard said that a child is utterly dependant upon others for their existence. And for us to experience the kingdom of God to the fullest we have to have that same utter dependence upon Jesus. This really spoke to me. Am I utterly depended upon God? The utterly part is the problem. In the same way that Chloe is entirely dependant on my wife and I, we are to be just as dependant on God.
On our recent youth mission trip the small group of teens that I got to work with spent 2 days building a wheel chair ramp. This was huge for me because of my ungiftedness in that area, i usually have to paint. While it was not pretty, it worked!! After 2 days of working on the ramp in the 100 heat we were done and very proud of ourselves. As we went in the house to tell the family that the wheel chair ramp was ready we got a less than enthusiastic response. You could sum it up by saying, "thanks and don't let the door hit you on the way out." Our emotions went from being pumped to being bummed to being angry in a matter of moments.
How often do we (or at least I) do something and expect something in return? I know I do this a lot. This something in return that you might expect could be a verbal thank you, a constant stream of praise the next several times you see this person or maybe some kind of equal action back. And if we don't get this "praise" it changes our opinion of the other person or persons.
Matthew 6:1-4 says "Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness in front of others, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
This speaks to what happened on our youth mission trip and it also speaks to one of my lingering sins and struggles; "the need to be praised by others."
The praise we should be worried about is not others, but God's. When we get this order mixed up we are committing idolatry and we stifle our relationship with God. I think pastor's (including myself) really struggle with this praise. We want to be liked, we want to have big churches so other pastors and people will like us and seek us out. It is so easy to shift our focus from Jesus to other people's approval. And this is not just true for pastors but for everyone.
I like what I've heard Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC say, "I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe and I am more accepted and loved than I ever dared hope." That statement describes me to a fault. Remember who you are doing it for. Help me Jesus!
Friday, July 28, 2006
On July 23rd we had one of the best services that we have had since I've been at St. Matthew's. We had a gospel band, "The Barkers" lead us in worship. I did not think I liked old school gospel but I connected with God through their music. It was awesome. My sermon was on Baptism as we were going to a have an adult baptism after the service. I talked about 3 dimensions of Baptism. First we have to die to self, second we have to bury our selves, and third we then experience new life. What helped me the most during preparation was how often I don't bury my sins. If you don't bury something, the stench is going to get you. I put my sins away but i will put them in a place where i know if i need them, or want them, or desire them, i can get to them. This is dangerous. What we need to do to experience the new life, and abundant life Christ offers us is with the help of the Holy Spirit is to bury our selves and our sins, not just put them away. Because if you just put them away they will eventually get you. At least that has been true in my life. After the sermon we had a remembering your baptism service and at both services many people came forward.
After the service we drove over to a church members' house who has a lake in their backyard and we had the baptism there. I was my first time doing an immersion baptism and it was cool. We hope to do this again. I hope to post some pictures of Serena's baptism in the upcoming days. Serena gave a testimony before she was baptised. She read Proverbs 3:5-6 which says, "trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight." I thought what i perfect baptism verse. When we die to our selves we have to put our trust in Jesus and trust not our understanding. If not we won't get to experience what he has in store for us.
Monday, July 17, 2006
On Sunday I wanted to people to leave thinking about their life mission. I believe that God has a mission for each and every one of us and this mission could be a multitude of things. Competing against our God mission is what i call a shadow mission. A shadow mission could be, television, Internet, a sport, a child, a spouse, popularity, wealth, and even blogging! Your shadow mission has the potential to keep you form realizing your God given mission. Many people go through their whole life only knowing their shadow mission. Many believers go through their life and spend more time, energy, and resources focusing on their shadow mission than they don on their God given mission. I wanted people to leave thinking about both their shadow mission and their God mission and be able to identify them, (one of the many flaws in the sermon was that i should follow this up with some kind of guidance on how to go about finding your God mission.)
My shadow mission is what i would call spiritual procrastination. I spend a lot of time reading, studding, and doing God's work. But when it comes to spending time in God's presence I believe i have much room for improvement. Say i sit down at my desk tomorrow and there is no urgent matter. I could easily take a moment like that to pray and be in God's word. What i usually do it that situation is find some kind of administrative work, make a phone call, or read something that's not of the devotional sort. This has been my shadow mission since i entered the ministry. My best defence against this has been mutual accountability. My former accounability partner Chris, (he moved several weeks ago) and I would hold each other accountable to this. We had to spend a minimum of an hour a day in prayer, Bible study, and jounaling. If not, we had to pay the other a 1$ for each day we failed to do this, (for the record no money ever excanged hands). This worked really well. Its amazing what accountability can do.
My God mission at this time is discipleship. I want people to realize that their is much more to Christianity than getting to heaven. We can experience God's Kingdom here and now but so many people don't know this. I believe my mission is to share and show this to others.
So, what is your shadow mission and what is your God mission?
Friday, July 14, 2006
The Holy Land?
My first Blog, i hope i do this right. For the first time in my life I am in Boston and as a result I have now experienced two parts of the baseball stadium trinity; Yankee Stadium and as of last night Fenway Park. Only Wriggly Field is left. I will make it some day.
Although i am a Yankee fan, Fenway Park is sacred ground. And as blasphemous as it sounds, I had a Holy experience. It was awesome.
Props to my main man Bob Welby for hooking us up in a first class way! You enable me to have one of the best experiences of my life. If anyone needs a new car get a Nissan. This picture is for you!!
I am in Boston as one of 25 young clergy from across the nation selected to be one of the Lewis Fellows. While this is a big honor the truth is there are only about 35 young clergy, (under 35) in the entire country. Slight exaggeration but not as much as you would think. While i am in Boston, my wife Leigh Ann, 8 months pregnant, and 2 daughters, 3 year old Jordan and almost 2 year old Karis are in Richmond Virginia. My wife is the joy of my life and i thank her being such a blessing to me and for encouraging me to come to Boston.
I am preaching about Esther this week. A great book if you have never read it. Esther is also my favorite Veggie Tales video. I heard a sermon by John Ortberg where he talks about your "shadow mission". A "shadow mission" is anything that gets in way of your real God created mission. An example of a shadow mission could be something like.....blogging!..... or sports......or television! Any thing that is taking you away from what God might what you to do. Kind of scary don't you think? I'm not saying we can't have hobbies or do things for fun but when they become our main focus or obsession they can and do take us way from our God given mission. In the story of Esther the characters have to decide if they are going to follow their God mission or their shadow mission. What might possible be your shadow mission.
If any of the one person that reads this (hi Ben) has any thoughts or opinions about this let me know. I guess i am now a member of the blogging universe!!