Just kidding. But we are in the equally circulated Goochland Gazette!
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The Blog of Gordon Pruitt the Pastor of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in Richmond Virginia
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
In chapter 2 of Scot McKnight's the Blue Parakeet, Scot suggests that there are 3 ways to approach the Bible.
1. Reading to Retrieve. "We return to the times of the Bible in order to retrieve biblical ideas and practices for today". If Moses or Peter tell us something then we do because it says so. Some try to retrieve all and some seek only what can be savaged. A. J. Jacobs humors book The Year of Living Biblically is a great example of this and also a great Christmas gift to give or to ask for! Scot makes the point that God spoke in Moses' day is Moses' way and God spoke in Paul's day in Paul's way and we are called to carry on that pattern in our world today.
2. Reading through tradition. His point here is that "ordinary people need to learn to read the Bible through tradition or they will misread the Bible and create schisms in the church. Scot points out the positive and the negative of reading through tradition with the terms "Great Tradition" and traditionalism.
The Great Tradition is how the church everywhere has always read the Bible. Examples are the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed. These point us toward where God has led the church and see the churches most important doctrines.
Traditionalism is the "inflexible, don't-ask-questions, do-it-the-way-it-has-always-been-done approach to Bible reading." Reading through tradition like this means that it is impossible for renewal and adaptation.
Scot gives 6 steps to traditionalism and i think its important that we come to know these so we can recognize them.
1. We read the Bible
2. We confront a current issues and we make a decision about an issue- (like baptizing infants or adults or woman preachers)
3. We fossilize our decision and it becomes a tradition. Somewhere around here we become absolutely convinced our tradition is a perfect interpretation of the Bible.
4. We are bound to our tradition forever. It is now traditionalism.
5. We are bound to read the Bible through our tradition.
6.Those who question our tradition are suspect or, worse yet, kicked out of our church.
Scot makes the point that the Bible points us away from traditionalism. "They went back to the Bible so they could come forward into the present."
3. Reading with tradition. "We need to go back to the Bible so we can move forward through the church and speak God's Word in our days in our ways." We are to remember, "honor" the past without giving the past the final authority. This brings us back to the process of renewal.
Monday, December 01, 2008
You know you are a lame blogger when you blog a record amount of times in October and follow that up with a single blog post in November. The good news is that it is now December! The December book of the month is the same as the November!
Here we go.
Scot McKnight's, The Blue Parakeet starts off with his journey of reading the Bible and I think its a journey that many of us can relate to, i know i can. One thing Scot encountered was the claim, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it for me!" What this is saying is that
1. We believe everything the Bible says, therefore....
2. We practice whatever the Bible says...
and then Scot adds his own response..
This leads to his question and the premise of the book, "how, then, are we to live out the Bible today?"
To back up this point he gives examples of how "all" Christians "pick and choose."
SABBATH- The Bible says no work from Friday night to Saturday night (Exodus 20:9-10) but few to no Christians follow this.
TITHING- Same thing, Bible says we are to do this yet only 3 percent of Christians tithe.
FOOT WASHING- After Jesus washes the disciples' feet, he tells them to do the same.
CHARISMATIC GIFTS, SURRENDERING POSSESSIONS.
We do all pick and choose.
Look at some of the issues the church deals with today.
War, homosexuality, abortion and etc. I know good Godly people who i deeply respect and love who differ on what the Bible says about this issues.
Do you agree that when it comes to reading the Bible we all "pick and choose?"
How would you answer the question, "how, then, are we to live out the Bible today?"
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Chapter 6 and the Epilogue of Jesus Wants to Save Christians closes out the book as any Christian book should, with hope. The title of this chapter is Blood on the Doorposts of the Universe, an obvious reference to the Passover. Rob and Don connect the Passover Meal, to the last supper, to Jesus on the cross, to the mission of the Church. The solution to Exile, because of God’s grace is Eucharist. Eucharist (sounds like a body part that can be removed) is best translated and described as good gift. “Jesus is God’s good gift to the world.” The Eucharist is the meal that Jesus shared with his disciples before he was betrayed. Passover becomes Eucharist, it is the blood on the door. Jesus’ death is what brings all the world together. Just as Jesus is God’s good gift to the world, so are we to be God’s good gift to the world by dying with Christ. It is this death that unites us, which leads to resurrection and Pentecost.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Our November book discussion will be Scot McKnight's new book, The Blue Parakeet. Scot is one of my favorite theologians and also the author of my favorite blog. We will do a few chapters a week starting next week. This is form the back cover.
Why Can't I Just Be a Christian?"
Parakeets make delightful pets. We cage them or clip their wings to keep them where we want them. Scot McKnight contends that many, conservatives and liberals alike, attempt the same thing with the Bible. We all try to tame it.
McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet has emerged at the perfect time to cool the flames of a world on fire with contention and controversy. It calls Christians to a way to read the Bible that leads beyond old debates and denominational battles. It calls Christians to stop taming the Bible and to let it speak anew for a new generation.
In The Blue Parakeet, McKnight again touches the hearts and minds of today’s Christians, this time challenging them to rethink how to read the Bible, not just to puzzle it together into some systematic theology but to see it as a Story that we’re summoned to enter and to carry forward in our day.
In his own inimitable style, McKnight sets traditional and liberal Christianity on its ear, leaving readers equipped, encouraged, and emboldened to be the people of faith they long to be.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Chapter 5 of Jesus Wants to Save Christians is not the feel good chapter of the book. Rob and Don start off reminding us of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus who were with Jesus everyday but still did not recognize him. They make the connection that Christianity in the West, particularly in America have fallen into this mindset. We think we are following Jesus, and in many ways we are, but are we missing the central message of Jesus? I believe Rob and Don think we are missing the central message of Jesus and they spend most of this chapter making their case and its convincing. We (America) are an Empire (like the Egyptian Empire, Babylonian Empire, Persian Empire, Assyrian, and the Roman Empire before) and most of us are not even aware of this.
“Most of the Bible is a history told by people living in lands occupied by conquering superpowers. It’s a book written from the underside of power. It’s and oppression narrative. The majority of the Bible was written by a minority people living under the rule and reign of massive, mighty empires…”Rob and Don go on to teach about the Revelation of John and at least to me a new way of interpreting it (that was very thought provoking) which furthers the case for what we as Christians need to do to break from the pattern of Empire.
I want to conclude this summery with a few paragraphs from Scot McKnight’s review of the book. You can read the full review here. McKnight is able to put into words the issues that this chapter raised in my mind
Finally, this message addresses Empire. Here Rob plays the politics card, and I don’t think he does this as carefully as needs to be done. But, let’s begin with America as Empire: war, money, power, and the empire whose power creates poverty elsewhere. OK, I can live with critique of America. But there’s more to Empire than America: Is not Iraq empire? Is not Saudi Arabia empire? Is not Sudan empire? Is not South Africa empire? In other words, we take the blame that is ours but ours is not the blame of the world. I read this week that Sudan has enough supplies to care for its own, but it is shipping food supplies to other countries … and we need not get into all of where the money is going. The point is this: yes, oppression deserves to be denounced, but let’s be fair — if we want to use “empire” as an ideology to be denounced, let’s denounce wherever empire oppresses.
Comparing Empire then and Empire now must be done with care. We are dealing with a pagan powerful nation — Rome — and a post-Christian nation whose constitution embodies ideals hammered out through a Christian history. Is the problem for Paul or Jesus Rome? All secular kingdoms and governments are Empire to me; now what? Some who critique the USA as Empire are expecting a Constantinian reality from the State. I don’t. I expect all governments to be Empire-ish; my hope is in the God of the gospel and in the God of the church, local and global. My hope is that the Church will embody that countercultural and counter imperial gospel.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
One of the things I love about Rob Bell’s preaching is how he connects dots where you did not even know there were dots to be connect to, particularly dots from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The 4th chapter of Jesus Wants to Save Christians connects many dots and brings clarity, and deeper understanding to Biblical passages that I have read many times before but had often skipped important details about these stories.
The central passage for this chapter was Acts 8:26-40 commonly called Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. This Ethiopian and his story is central to what the New Exodus is all about. First the Ethiopian was not Jewish, second he was a eunuch which means practicing Jewish people would see him as damaged goods and according to the law would not have been allowed into the assembly. Third after Philip explained the Isaiah passage the Ethiopian desired to be and was baptized. These are important because under the old system the man would not have been allowed simply because of who he was, but because of what Jesus did, the bringing of the New Exodus everyone now has the opportunity to become a new creation. Lastly the Ethiopian is leaving Jerusalem and is headed back to Ethiopia and is taking with him the Gospel. Some of Jesus last words were to take the gospel to the “ends of the earth” and that is what this man is doing. My favorite chapter so far.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Last night St. Matthew's had a table at the Goochland County Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. I went to this event last year and i thought what a cool thing it would be for us to be represented. There were over 60 businesses there and we were the only church. For me the main objective was to get our name out and let people in our community know what St. Matthew's is doing and i believe we did this. Though our church has been around since the 1850's most people in this small county (17,000) have no idea where we are, (we don't have a visible church or highly trafficked street). We handed out several fliers about the Neighbors Food Pantry and I must have told 20 people where we are located.
We also met a few people who for whatever reason have dropped out of church but were looking to get back to going. We gave them information about the church and also some sermons i had downloaded to cds which i said were good if you were having trouble sleeping.
Posted by Gordon Pruitt at 10:29 AM
Monday, October 13, 2008
We are continuing our discussion of the new book Jesus Wants to Save Christians. Chapter 3 starts with the Israelites back in Jerusalem, but things are not well. The current superpower, the Rome Empire is the occupying force. The Israelites are in Jerusalem but are captive like they were in Egypt and Babylon. After 400 years or so like this, Jesus is born and he fulfills all the prophecies of the prophets, he is a Son of David, he knows what he is doing, he is a servant, he heals, and he debates the religious leaders. The scripture that Rob and Don use is the Walk to Emmaus story found in Luke 24:13-35. The key verses for them is v25-27, "Jesus said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." Everything that Israel has been looking and waiting for is found in Jesus. This quote sticks out to me,
"In Jesus' day, people could read, study, and discuss the Scriptures their entire lives and still miss its central message. In Jesus' day, people could follow him, learn from him, drop everything to be his disciples, and yet find themselves returning home, thinking Jesus had failed."Our world has changed a lot in 2000 years, but in many ways it is still the same.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Chapter 2 of Jesus wants to Save Christians begins with the Israelites in exile in Babylon. They cry out and God as God always does hears their cry. They write "because it's when we're fully present in our pain, when we're willing to sit in our tears, that we're ready to imagine a different kind of tomorrow." This is what happens in exile. They start to reimagine a new exile, like the ones they had from Egypt, a new exodus. Only this new exodus would be different, it would be a new way, a new marriage with a new covenant, a new city, with a new temple that would be big enough for everyone, not just the Israelites. Moses was the leader of the first exodus, who or what would the leader of the new exodus look like? This person would be a prophet like Moses, a servant, a prince of peace, and a son of David.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Here we go. Chapter 1 of Jesus Wants to Save Christians starts with an introduction to New Exodus theology. The chapter is broken into 4 parts:Egypt, Sinai, Jerusalem, Babylon.
Egypt- The Jewish people are in Egypt, enslaved and oppressed to the superpower of their time. They cry out and God hears their cry. This is central to this book and is central to the character of God. "God always hears the cry of the oppressed." God not only hears, God acts.
"Think about your life. What are the moments that have shaped you the most? If you were to pick just a couple, what would they be? Periods of transformation, times when your eyes were opened, decisions you made that affected the rest of your life. How many of them came when you reached the end of your rope?"
God, as God always does, hears the cry of the oppressed, and sends Moses to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt. The Jewish people are lead out of Egypt and freed. But the story does not end here.
At Sinai, God speaks. Though Moses, God tells the people "you yourselves have seen what i did to Egypt, and how i carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself." It is by God's love and grace that they were delivered, redeemed, freed, from Egypt. God calls the people to be a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation". To be a priest is to show the world who God is and what God is like. I like how Rob and Don (no i don't know them) say "God is looking for a body" and this is what the 10 commandments is about. They have a choice, to obey God fully or not.
Jerusalem. Many years later, the group of former slaves are now living in the land that they were promised. Things are posh as my daughters like to say. Jerusalem gains a global reputation. They have been blessed, but do they remember Egypt, and how they were delivered? How God's grace brought them out? Do they remember God's words at Sinai? Before long the king, Solomon is building a temple to the God who freed the slaves, WITH SLAVES. "In just a few generations the oppressed have become the oppressors." They have completely forgot their own story.
Babylon. When you forget that God hears the cry of the oppressed, when you forget that God is searching for a body, when you forget this you miss what God had in mind. "At the height of their power, Israel misconstrued God's blessings as favoritism and entitlement. They became indifferent to God and to their Priestly calling to bring liberation to others."
This is exile. When you forget your story, when you find yourself a stranger to the purposes of God. Israel is no longer interested in being God's body as they chose not to listen to God's prophets. Jerusalem falls apart and before you know it, the people that were slaves in Egypt, and became slave owners in Jerusalem, were once again slaves in Babylon.
Monday, September 29, 2008
I am 0-2 at book reviews/discussions but like they say the 3rd times a charm! Starting Monday Oct. 6 we will begin a discussion on Rob Bell and Don Golden's new book Jesus Wants to Save Christians. Here is a brief description of the book. "There is a church not too far from us that recently added a $25 million addition to their building. Our local newspaper ran a front-page story not too long ago about a study revealing that one in five people in our city lives in poverty. This is a book about those two numbers."
This book i believe is based off a sermon series the two preached at Mars Hill Church. The plan is to do 2 chapters a week, one on Monday the other on Thursday. I will give a brief review and then ask a few questions. Hope you can join me in this!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
For the 3rd time in the last 6 months we have had someone become part of our church family largely because of our podcast. In one case a lady that Leigh Ann and I knew through preschool had over time found out that i was a pastor and goggled my name. Which led to the blog and then to the church website, then to the sermons online. Before they ever came to the church she had listened to several of my sermons through the podcast.
In another instance a couple that had recently moved to the area was driving around and found our church. We have our website address on the church sign.
From the website they found the sermons and before they came to worship they had heard a few of my sermons and had even attended a Tuesday night small group.
The most recent case a man saw another one of our church signs (this was a directional sign that says the church is down the road) googled the church name, found the website and listened to the podcast before coming. This man decided to join our church family largly through the information he got through our website and podcast.
We get about 40 downloads a week (and yes most are my mom). We are a small church, about 220 a week in worship, and the podcasts have been an effective way of letting people know about our church as well allowing people to stay connected when they miss a Sunday. I bought 2 things to get our podcast ministry started, a digital recorder and Podcasting for Dummies which i give to one of our youth who is a tech guru, (you rock Austin) and he did the rest. The last 2 weeks we have put together a short video kind of as a sermon tease, Austin has also put this online as a podcast.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Richard Foster who perhaps has written one of the best books ever, Celebration of Discipline was interviewed in the latest issue of Christianity Today. One thing that really stuck out to me was his response to the question, "how did spiritual formation effect your early ministry?"
Early on we were moving into a building program. And we did the various studies and so on and so forth, so I really could justify it. But I was also learning about prayer at that time. I remember Dallas asking, "Have we really prayed about it?" I realized we really hadn't.I think at times I am like Foster, I get too caught up in wanting to be a successful pastor instead of a follower of Jesus. This is a good reminder of what my focus should be.
I remember calling a meeting, a worship gathering on a Sunday night, to pray over this building project. We had all the approvals, and we were about ready to launch the fund drive. In a Quaker context, there's an open meeting for worship. So singing would happen, silence would happen, Scripture would be read, different things like that.
During the meeting, nobody ever said we ought to do it or not do it—that was not the spirit at all. The service lasted a couple of hours. I went into that meeting feeling that we probably should do the building, and I came out of it sure we shouldn't. During worship, my heart was revealed to me—that a big building and a big church would have been for me signs that I was a successful pastor. If anybody had actually said that to me beforehand, I would have denied it. But that night, learning to die to that was important. I'm not against buildings, but for me, it was crucial to give that up.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Today is a big day in the life of St. Matthew's Church as the Neighbors Food Pantry opens today at 5 PM. One thing that we are doing to make this food pantry different is to create community by inviting all food bank participants to come to the Wednesday night dinner to share a free meal with others from the church. Often when we serve the poor we unintentionally do it in a way that you have little to no interaction with the participants. Our hope is that this will provide opportunities where community can be created. Please be in prayer for us as we enter into this new ministry. Who knew that there is Spam Lite?
We were blessed to have donated to us some nice shelves and 3 refrigerators.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I was coming home from work yesterday when my car just shut off. Had it towed this morning. Hopefully this is not the end of the 94 Civic.
Please pray for us.
PS Jordan is doing great at Kindergarten and Leigh Ann and I are as we!
Monday, August 25, 2008
Today at 7 AM our oldest daughter departed for kindergarten. While i am excited as is Jordan, i was surprised how emotional it was for me. I figured it would be for Leigh Ann, but not for me. How is she going to know where to go? How is she going to survive 2 hours on the bus? Who is going to help her with her lunch? What if someone is mean to her? We get to wait 9 hours, thats right, she will be gone from 7-4! Please pray for Jordan and more importantly for her parents!
Posted by Gordon Pruitt at 8:02 AM
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Here is a devotion from my friend and mentor Rev. Dennis Dorsh about the 4th of July. Enjoy. “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore.” Frederick Douglass wrote (about 1855): And, for today at least, a final comment by theologian Krister Stendahl: “The Sermon on the Mount is actually a rebellious manifesto which gives to disciples of Christ the right to break the Law in the name of Christ. But it is important to remember that it is subversive, and that the disciple must be prepared to pay the price for such action…The license…can only be appropriated in faith, and will always threaten the equilibrium of God’s created world.” Yours & His, DED
More thoughts on the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence. Refer to Matthew 23:23-39, preferably in the NRSV or the New Jerusalem Bible. American history and the history of God’s people are not the same. We Americans are usually not aware that for several hundred years, the British considered that they were the people of the New Jerusalem, indeed, that they were the new People of God, the new Israel. At the time of the American Revolution, that thinking was held by many of the British people who populated the American colonies, and after the Revolution, that thinking began to grow. The whole notion of “manifest destiny” was an extension of that type of thinking.
The Christian Church does not view the American Revolution as a major event in the life of the church. Jesus, in Matthew 23, was speaking of ancient prophets and not of the heroes of the Revolutionary War, but his words may well apply to our celebration of their achievement.
John Adams wrote to his beloved wife Abigail on July 3, 1776, after the Congress voted to pass the Declaration of Independence [we switched the celebration to the day of the signing rather than the day of approval]:
“What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parades and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.”
James Madison weighed in with the comment: “The most common and durable source of faction has been the various and unequal distribution of property."
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore.”
Frederick Douglass wrote (about 1855):
And, for today at least, a final comment by theologian Krister Stendahl:
“The Sermon on the Mount is actually a rebellious manifesto which gives to disciples of Christ the right to break the Law in the name of Christ. But it is important to remember that it is subversive, and that the disciple must be prepared to pay the price for such action…The license…can only be appropriated in faith, and will always threaten the equilibrium of God’s created world.”
Yours & His,
Dan Kimball has a great post on his blog about how the organ created controversy in its early days. The next time you hear someone complain about the current status of church music it would be good to remember a few of the stories from this post.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Great post today on Jesus Creed concerning the comments James Dobson made about Barack Obama. In case you missed it, Dr. Dobson sharply criticized Senator Obama yesterday on the “Focus on the Family” radio program. Among other things, Dr. Dobson said of Obama, “He’s deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology.” Dobson says that Obama is “dragging biblical understanding through the gutter.”
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Chloe, our 21 month old and i went to visit a family that came to church today. The family broke out some old school toys, the original Fisher Price Little People, just like the ones i had growing up, the hospital and the school. Chloe starting bringing the Little People to me, and she brought this one to me, and said, "daddy!" What do you think? Does it look like me?
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Earlier in the year I decided to pursue my Doctor of Ministry degree and finished my first set of classes last week. I had an awesome time. I am sad to say this but for the first time in my academic career, (high school, college, seminary) I wanted to learn. In the past it was a means to an end. Better late than never. Over the next several days I hope to blog about some of the really cool things that took place during the 2 weeks. Today I want to spend a few moments talking about track i chose and the people i got to spend 2 weeks with.
I am taking the Missional Evangelism track at Wesley Theological Seminary. I choose this because of the topic, the professors, and the location (Washington DC). One thing I have always loved about Wesley has been its diversity, and this class was no different. Here are some of the unofficial stats:
Korean Methodist- 1
Gender and Ethnicity
5 white women (serving in DL, MD, OK, Germany, Russia)
3 African American men (serving in VA, 2 NC)
3 white men (serving in TX, FL, VA)
2 African American women (serving in Maryland)
1 Ethiopian (serving in VA)
1 Korean (serving in VA)
Monday, April 28, 2008
Thought i would share my devotional reading today from Proverbs 6:16-19. I particularly like the 2nd part of verse 19.
16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up dissension in the community.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The General Conference of the Untied Methodist Church starts today in Dallas Texas. Here are a few things for you to check out if you are interested.
-General Conference Home Page
-Article from Tom Berlin
-Article from the Dallas Morning News,
-A daily Blog by my friend Mark Holland
Monday, April 14, 2008
"let's say I confessed to you my disgust with someone who annoyed me and how hopeless I felt about ever loving this person. What if instead of trying to make me feel better by saying, 'Nobody's perfect,' you said you believed in God's power to transform me into a radical person who pays loving attention to those who annoy me? What if you prayed for me about this? What if later that day you encountered an annoying person and without thinking, treated that person with kindness and attentiveness-partly because of the transforming effect of our conversation about the kingdom personality?"From the devotionals Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice, based on Dallas Willard's Renovation of the Heart.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
This week I preached a sermon on the hospitality and here is a quote i used from Bishop Robert Schnase's new book The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. He is talking about the decline of the mainline church.
"People getting mad and leaving is not the cause of our decline. Members simply grow old and die, and no one takes their places. The church as a “front door” problem rather than a “back door” problem. People are not entering into the life of the church at a rate that matches or exceeds the number maturing and dying. In many cases, we have not passed along the faith ot our won children and grandchildren.Say Amen if you can!
To become a vibrant, fruitful, growing congregation requires a change of attitudes, practices, and values. Good intentions are not enough. Too many churches want more young people as long as they act like old people, more newcomers as long as they act like old-timers, more children as long as they are quiet as adults, more ethnic families as long as they act like the majority in the congregation."
Saturday, April 05, 2008
I am behind in my sermon prep this week. My wife and i celebrated our 6th anniversary by going to Myrtle Beach for a few days and I did not start working on my sermon until yesterday. And it is not going to well. So i started doing what i do when my sermon is not going well. I've prayed more than normal, I've called up a few friends and asked for old sermons or illustrations, (got hold of one friend but the stuff he gave me is not going to work). Today i want to a preaching website, www.preachingtoday.com and i did a search for my topic, (hospitality) and the response was: SERVER IS TOO BUSY. I guess i'm not the only one!!
Anyway got to have the sermon done before the final four starts tonight.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
E. Stanley Jones, from, Conversion (1959)
"Building the Kingdom" depicts the unsurrendered self thinking it can build the Kingdom by its own efforts. But "receiving the Kingdom" depicts the surrendered, receptive self with emptied hands accepting God's gift of grace, forgiveness, conversion, new birth, and this is the point--introducing him to the most exciting fact of the universe, the Kingdom of God....
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
A group from St. Matthew's went to hear Tony Campolo speak tonight. He was awesome as usual. Tony has been a great influence in my life and ministry and a great source for illustrations. Best line of the night, "you know your old when your wife asks you to come upstairs for sex and you say, 'honey, I can't do both."
Friday, March 07, 2008
Before you take this quiz that was designed by Scot McKnight,
which of the following 3 categories do you think you view of the Bible will fit..
Conservative, Moderate, or Progressive?
After you take the quiz go here to see what it means and in the comments let me know what you thought you were, and what the quiz said you were and do you agree. Mine are in the comments.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Below is a portion of an article from the United Methodist News Service that actually excites me about our church. I will have a few comments afterwards.
My thoughts/ questions:
A new agenda
Weary of decades of the church's top legislative meeting being consumed by debate over homosexuality and other hot-button issues, the Council of Bishops and other denominational leaders have shaped a new churchwide agenda with the overarching purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The agenda includes four areas of focus: developing principled Christian leaders for the church and the world; creating "new places for new generations" by starting new churches and renewing existing ones; engaging in ministry with the poor; and fighting the killer diseases of poverty such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
Church leaders believe this approach will help United Methodists unite to address the world's core needs, reclaim the church's Wesleyan heritage, start a movement and, as a bonus, reverse decades of declining membership trends.
It also is hoped that, when the nearly 1,000 delegates leave General Conference to return to their home districts and churches, they will know the four areas of focus by heart and, with a new clarity about "what my church is doing," spread that vision and sense of identity to the people in the pews.
Delegates at the briefing said it's time for Jesus Christ to "do a new thing with our church."
"I'm not hearing as much about the more controversial issues so far," said the Rev. Henry Frueh, a second-time delegate from the Troy Annual (regional) Conference in New York. "There's more talk about the church positioning itself to be more effective in the world. I think there's a sense that if we don't change the way we do church, we're going to lose the opportunity," he told United Methodist New Service.
The Rev. Tom Berlin, a delegate from Herndon, Va., said many people in his generation (ages 30 to 45) are disenchanted by past General Conferences that have focused on discordant social issues that "are so predictable in their outcome"--and not enough on substantive issues of need in the world. The result, he said, is that ordained and lay leaders are tempted to cocoon themselves in their local churches "because it's just not worth the emotional energy."
"Friends, we're going to have to lay down our arms on these other issues if we want to deal with the (new) ones," Berlin told one panel group.
1. I love the 4 areas of focus that deal with the true mission statement of the UMC "make disciples of Jesus Christ": engaging in ministry with the poor, fighting the killer diseases, creating and building leaders, and starting and renewing churches for new generations. It would be like actually doing what Jesus called us to do. What a crazy thing to do? If the general conference was to get behind this agenda i believe the church could change course. I know it would chance my perception and attitude. Rev. Tom Berlin hit the nail on the head when he said "that ordained and lay leaders are tempted to cocoon themselves in their local churches because it's just not worth the emotional energy."
2. Can this happen? I think so. I've talked with a few others and they don't share my optimism. I am an eternal optimist so i think this can work. Will the very conservative and the very liberal be able to give up ground i think is the real question. Can we "lay down arms?" Are there enough people/delegates in the extreme center where i believe i am? I believe that is more and more the case and more and more people are getting frustrated with the current system. Say amen if you can.
3. Tom Berlin, is not only the skinniest pastor in America (I'm not mocking, I'm jealous) he is a great leader who is going to help the future of our church and i am pumped that he is co leading the VA conference delegation. This is what can happen when great church pastors/leaders and given the opportunity to work with the broader church. Of the 15 clergy
elected to general conference only 4 were serving churches at the time of election.
4. What do you think and what can we do to help make this vision/focus a reality?
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Karis had her kidney removed. Hard to believe its been 2 years. i did not even realize it until Leigh Ann told me. Karis had something called nephroblastomatosis. I could be wrong but from what i understand/remember nephroblastomatosis is when the kidney continues in its embryonic state and continues to grow at a rapid rate. Her kidney should have been about 4 cm but hers was 14 so they had to remove it. Though it might sound strange this ended up being a blessing. Our urologist thought it was cancer after the first tests. We were also told to expect cemo after surgery even if it was not cancer. That did not happen either. Karis is a normal as normal can be and with the exception of playing football she should be able to anything she wants. Below is a picture of her a few days post surgery and one from Christmas
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
First of all the Cowboys choked. The Giants won and I believe wanted it more. The better team won. The frustrating thing about the game was how poorly the Cowboys executed.
Here are some examples:
Patrick Crayton 1. Two dropped passes, one on a third down where he would have had a huge huge gain.
Poor Tackling. The Giants first score was the result of 3 miss tackles.
Special Teams. After the Cowboys go up 17-14 The G Men return the kickoff to the Cowboys 49. The Giants do not score. End of 3rd quarter, Cowboys punt, Giants return it 30 yards to the Cowboys 33. Missed tackles galore. This time the Giants score and go up for good 21-17.
Penalties- After Dallas went up 14-7 with 28 seconds left a face mask moves the Giants for the 45 to the 23. Two 3rd downs the Giants failed to convert but the drive was continued because of off side penalties. Both of these results in scores. 3rd and 7 from the Giants 11 Flowcale Adams gets one of his 2 offside penalties thus making it a 3 and 12.
Offensive Line. The Giants either figured out something or everybody got tired on the O line. In the fourth quarter Romo was hit on just about every play with the exception of the time he threw it away for no good reason.
Patrick Crayton 1 A 3rd and 14, Romo runs around a pass a perfect pass that would have procuded huge yardage, only problem is Crayon drops it.
Anthony Fasano- First drive of the second half, on a 2nd and 7 from the Giants 11 Floano is hit in the chest and drops it in the end zone.
Andre Gurode,- Had a horrible time snapping the ball. They would just kind of float in the air for a long time. This has led to an offside penalty with 31 seconds left in the game.
Time Outs- Cowboys wasted 2 timeouts in the 2nd half. One on a punt return and the other to keep from getting a delay of game. This would have really helped the Cowboys on their last drive.
Crayton part 2. This is the killer, - 21 seconds left Crayton stops on his route. Had his guy beat and the throw was there. Crayton could be the hero .
Tony Romo- On a 1st and 10 from the Giants 47 Romo takes a huge sack to brings up a 2nd and 24. Same drive, 1st and 10 threw it away for no reason and takes a intentional grounding bring up a 2nd and 20.
Under threw Owens twice in the 4th quarter.
He was frustrated like I’ve never seen him before. He was yelling at everyone and he is usually cool as can be.
Thanks for letting me vent.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
This article by John "Jr." Feinstein was in Monday's Washington Post, a day or so before Gibbs retired. Though i am a cowboy fan and therefore don't think much of the redskins i've always admired Gibbs for his coaching and also for the way he lives his faith. This article talks about Gibbs faith in a not so positive light. What are your thoughts?