Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Bible in 90 Days

I plan to be off of this blog for a while so that I can focus my efforts on our church-wide journey through the Bible in 90 Days.  That doesn't mean I won't be blogging.  I will be posting over at  This time, I won't be alone.  University's Directing Pastor, Charles Anderson; West Campus Pastor, Adam Knight; North Campus Pastor, Laurinda Kwiatkowski; and Shepherding Pastor, Leslie Tomlinson will all be blogging through the series with me.

Stop by and check it out and considering joining us for the journey.



Monday, September 12, 2011

We are working on that

It has been a while since I have actually tackled the topic of discipleship on this blog about discipleship.  It is that time of the year when I tend to tackle some difficult questions.  Fall is generally the time of the year the we ask people to commit to some of the longer term growth opportunities including Pathway to Discipleship options like Disciple Bible Study.  If I am counting correctly, this is my ninth year through Fall registration time and I think that it gets harder every year.  There is a clearly a culture shift that was well under way when I started and continues to move.  People are busier and busier, schedules are crazier and crazier and long-term commitment is harder and harder to come by.  The following statement/question is made up but it reflects a bunch of similar questions that I tend to hear.

"I am looking for an in-depth Bible study but I really don't have a lot of time.  I need something that meets for under a half-hour and my calender is crazy so I need something that doesn't go more than 3 weeks and I might have to miss some.  But I want to go deeper.  I don't want another superficial study. Oh, it would be great if there was no homework. Do you have anything like that?"

Of course!  We meet for fifteen minutes every third week for three weeks on your schedule and if you can't come, that is fine too!  There is no homework but be prepared to go deep!

Now this is hyperbole, but it is not too far off.

Here is where the difficult line of thinking comes in.  There is one school of thought that says we need to meet people where they are and offer things that reflect the busy world we live in.  There is another school of thought that says that we need to encourage people to push back on the business of their lives, revisit their priorities and make time for what is important.  There are other schools of thought that say that the answer is in between and others that say that the answer is both.

What do you think?



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

9-11-11 - Updates

This Sunday marks ten years since the world changing events of September 11, 2001.  I, along with many other preachers around the country, have spent a lot of time discussing what exactly to do this Sunday.  My initial thoughts when we started thinking about here at University were, "I think a lot of people may come to church that Sunday but they might not know exactly why."  I am not sure we know what to do with this day now much more than we knew what to do in the aftermath of the tragedy.

I am grateful to my sanctuary worship team.  They are much more creative than I am.  They thought of something to mark the day that I believe is profoundly appropriate.  When we didn't know what to do in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 so many people did the only thing they could think to do.  They helped.  They helped in small ways, the helped in big ways.  They helped in simple ways, they helped in courageous ways.  People lined up to give blood, people sent money, people prayed, some people with specific skills stopped everything and went to New York to bring skills and machinery and rescue animals.  When people didn't know what to do, they reached out to their neighbors.  So as we remember ten years later and still wonder what to do, we are going to help.

This Sunday, as part of our time of worshiping and remembering we are going to reach out to our neighbors in need.

Update: Due to the extreme need related to the devastating fires in the Bastrop area, this Sunday we will be collecting supplies for the families displaced by the fires.  We will continue our support of CAM including during our upcoming Thanksgiving Food Drive. 
  • water and gatorade
  • personal care essentials (like feminine hygiene products, toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc.)
  • packaged snacks and nonperishable canned goods.  homemade snacks CANNOT  be accepted at this time.
  • $20 gift cards for HEB or Walmart
Bring them right into worship with you.  On the South Campus we will be bringing them to lay at the altar.  You can bring them forward when you arrive.  We will have a time at the end to pray over them and pray for the victims and those fighting the fire. Our North Campus and West U worship congregations will be collecting items as well.

 I hope you will join us in worship, remembrance and this chance to respond by reaching out to our community.



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And we are back...

Today I am ending my two month, unannounced, self-mandated blog sabbatical. It started around my vacation and I just decided that it needed to continue. I am not exactly sure what brought it about. I didn't really think it through. I just stopped and continued to decide to not start again. Does that make sense? Looking back, I don't think that it was because I didn't have anything to write. In fact, I have many notes in Evernote where I sketched out an idea for a new blog post. I just never finished them or posted them.

This isn't the first time I have stopped blogging but this is really the most intentional I have ever been. I posted my first blog post on July 28, 2004 on my blog at Oak Hill UMC in Austin. I have run in waves of consistency and inconsistency. I think I have finally (took me long enough!) learned something. The idea of writing and posting something on a regular basis with no planned break from it is pretty crazy for a normal person. I think I need to just pick a couple of times of year where I will plan a self-imposed blog sabbatical. If I am correct, the rest of the time will be much more fruitful.

This isn't new. This biblical concept of sabbath and sabbatical tell us that God wants a rhythm for our lives, a rhythm of work and rest. That idea should flow through every part of our lives if we want to be productive in a way that honors God and honors the life and creativity God gives us.

Is there an area in your life that might benefit from some sabbath?



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Some References from Sunday's Sermon

I was moving pretty fast on Sunday morning, so I thought I would post a list of the scriptures I referenced and information about some of the other things I spoke about.


Ephesians 2:8-10 (I also referenced some other parts of that chapter, beginning in verse 2.)
Romans 3:23
Romans 7:15-20
Romans 6:23

Books I quoted:


John Wesley, Sermon 43, "The Scripture Way of Salvation" - Available in numerous forms including free, online at:



Monday, June 20, 2011

The Sunday Homework

I mentioned during Sunday's sermon that I would post a place to reply to the four questions I offered to begin writing down your own faith story. I hope you might consider sharing them in the comment section below. You don't necessarily share your answer to every question though you are welcome to. In sharing some of your story, you might help others to better connect with their own.

Here are the four questions:

1. When was the first time you saw Jesus?
2. When was the most meaningful time you saw Jesus?
3. When was the most recent time you saw Jesus?
4. Where do you already see Jesus in the person you are praying for?

If you missed Sunday (or don't live in San Antonio) and want the context for the questions. The sermon will be posted later this week at



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Honey, shouldn't we be packing?

This week, I officially begin my fourth year under appointment at University United Methodist Church, San Antonio. I am really excited that I get to continue my ministry here but it feels a little strange. Although I worked part time on staff first, my clergy appointment at Oak Hill in Austin only lasted two years. I spent the next three years in Corpus Christi at Grace before being appointed here at University. For the first time moving into year four, we are actually started to get settled in.

Thinking back, this might be the longest I have lived in the same house since I was 17. When I first felt called to ministry, I was warned that one of the hardest things was itineracy - that pastors under the authority of the bishop can be and are moved from place to place on a regular basis. I asked "how often?" The answer was - usually only as often as every three years and sometimes pastors stayed in the same place for decades. I said, "Sounds like stability to me." Now the radio business, that is itinerant. I just pulled up my resume from my days in radio. From 1991 to 2001 (when I left the business) I worked for six radio stations and one programming company. That included living in one village, one borough and three cities and stretched across three states. In that time, I lived in (about) eight different houses/apartment/rooms, etc. So, just saying, this all feels kind of stable.

Without stirring an entire debate about the value and cost of itinerant ministry, let me just say, as a pastor, there are pros to staying and pros to moving. Right now, staying seems to hold a lot of value. University UMC is a large, complex church. It took me a couple of years just to find my way around. I think it tool me longer to hit my stride here than it has in other churches. I also hit the ground here with a big project before me: The Pathway to Discipleship. It took most of the first couple of years to really get it launched and we have much work still to do.

This is all a long way of saying thank you to Bishop Dorff for seeing fit to appointment me to University for another year and thank you to University for agreeing to keep me.