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: http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umhistory/wesley/sermons/43/



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 media.uchurch.tv.



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.



Saturday, June 4, 2011

Books from this week's sermon

I mentioned a few good books in this week's sermon. I thought I would post them all now in case you are interested.

A book I quoted from without mentioning the title:

Also, in you would like more information on my upcoming class, Invitation to Prayer, here it is:

Mondays June 20th and 27th - 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

This two-week course covers obstacles to prayer, takes a biblical look at prayer, and offers practical methods to help you begin or deepen your conversation with God. This is an elective course in The Pathway to Discipleship.

The course is free. To register, contact Elizabeth



Thursday, June 2, 2011

Review - Why? Making Sense of God's Will

In my last review of an Adam Hamilton book (When Christians Get it Wrong) I wrote,

I really like Adam Hamilton’s books for one main reason: while Hamilton is not one to break much new ground, he has the gift of writing with exceptional clarity. I rarely read his work and think “I had never thought of that.” Instead, I read it and think, “I never thought to put it like that.” I have to think that this is what has made him such a successful pastor; he has the ability to take complex and controversial ideas and clearly and lovingly explain them.

I share that again here because Adam Hamilton's latest, Why? Making Sense of God's Will, has hit that mark again. In Why? Hamilton takes on one of the toughest issues of our faith, something we call theodicy, our attempt to reconcile our belief in all-loving and all-powerful God with the fact that there is still evil and suffering in the world.

This issue of theodicy is complex. Hamilton has found a way to frame the issue and open the discussion in a way that is understandable but not simplistic. He runs through four main topics in four chapters (it is a short book): Why Do the Innocent Suffer? Why Do My Prayers Go Unanswered? Why Can't I See God's Will for My Life? and why God's Love Prevails.

Here are two reasons you might want to read this book: One, you are struggling with these topics in your own life. Perhaps you are struggling with things and wondering where God is in the midst of your suffering. Maybe you want to see God as loving but can't see his hand in your life right now. This book might give you some hope and direction. Two, you might not be in a place like that right now, but you do encounter people who face questions like this. This is most of us. This is why most of us should read this book: too often, when we encounter people who are facing suffering, loss and other things that make them struggle with the role of God in their lives and world, we are tempted to offer shallow, unhelpful answers. In my journey as a Christian, in the midst of loss, I have heard some of the worst, unhelpful, unbiblical, theologically tenuous words of "comfort" come from the mouths of Christians. Why? can give us some better vocabulary, or better yet, the ability to say, "I don't know."

I am sure someone will try to poke some holes in Hamilton's theology of suffering. When they do, I will try to remind them that this is not a systematic theology book. It is an attempt to take a complex topic and put it in the hands of the people who most need it. In that attempt, I believe it is a success. I am told that some group study materials to go along with the book are forthcoming. It would make a great topic for discussion in small groups and Sunday schools.

If you are around our main University campus, we have copies of Why? in The Word Store.