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A Gospel of a Different Color

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I've been teaching the Gospel of John in various formats and churches for two decades. Last year I had the inspiration to compile all of those lessons into a book. I would call it A Gospel of a Different Color, a reference to my 94-year old grandfather, who would say, "Well that's a horse of a different color!" whenever someone would make a surprising play during a game of cards. John became a gospel of a different color for me when I first noticed how different it was from the other gospels. The book is dedicated to my grandfather, Don Guffey.



Over the past eighteen months or so I wrote out my manuscript, attended a Christian writer's workshop at Princeton Theological Seminary, struggled with writer's block, and, worse, writer's insecurity (who's going to read it???). But I was able to overcome those doubts, and the dream of a book is now a reality!

Who would enjoy reading the book? Anyone with a curiosity about the Bible and the personality of Jesu…

Two Stacks

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Thanks to everyone who made Grace's Healthy Church Initiative Weekend so successful. The HCI team, which worked together for more than a year, each had their own roles, but a large number of the congregation as a whole chipped in. Let's use the common United Methodist parlance and see how it applied to the HCI weekend:

Will you support Grace United Methodist Church with your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness?
Prayers: We had an HCI prayer team that upheld the process for many, many months. Over the weekend, every meeting/gathering/listening session was grounded in prayer. Check. Presence: People showed up! A handful of individual leaders and staff met with the consulting team for one-on-ones Friday, roughly sixty people participated in the Saturday workshop, and around 130 were present for the one worship service on Sunday. Check. Gifts: Financial support made possible the delicious lunch on Saturday-- the papusas and tacos were a major hit-- thank you La Placita! Ch…

Black Panther Review

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Christy and I took our boyos, and a couple of Miles' buddies, to see Black PantherSunday afternoon for his 13th birthday party. Just about everyone knows I grew up, and continue to be, a rabid Star Wars fan. So much that I never had time/energy/interest for anything else, including comics. So beyond Captain America: Civil War a couple of years ago my knowledge of this character was nil. I loved Civil War, but what made it brilliant for me was Black Panther. So when the movie was announced, including a nearly all-black cast and director, I could not wait. Walking out of the cinema, I had this reaction:
#BlackPanther#WakandaForever AMAZING movie!! See it!! — Pastor Frank (@revfrankdrenner) February 19, 2018
And let me add a side note to the Alamo Drafthouse: I always enjoy their signature pre-screening show, as opposed to most cinemas who make you sit through commercials, bad music, or boring trivia. For Black Panther it was outstanding.

First of all, let me say: Black Panther is mo…

Grace UMC Perscriptions

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Introduction
We, the Healthy Church Initiative Consultation team, would like to thank Rev. Frank Drenner, staff, lay leadership, and the congregation of Grace United Methodist Church, for the invitation to consult with this body of Christ. The following observations and prescriptions are the result of this team studying the following information: a) Grace UMC’s self-study document provided by its leaders, b) completion of the on-line congregational survey by the church members, c) interviews with the staff and leaders, d) input from focus groups, e) a MissionInsite demographic report of the area’s population, f) input from the Faith Perceptions Mystery Guest Worshipper Report, and g) input from the Saturday workshop.

Our prayer is that God will use this consultation report to help Grace UMC more effectively make
disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the community and the world.

Strengths
According to what we have heard you tell us, Grace UMC’s greatest areas of strength a…

We Believe; Help Our Unbelief

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Last night was a weird combination of observances: Ash Wednesday fell on Valentine's Day. To commemorate the day, I purchased a half dozen Valentine's balloons and some sweet treats. Most of the treats were gone by the end of the night. Ultimately, I decided it was best to offer these outside of the worship space-- I liked the juxtaposition of Valentine's stuff in the hallway and a stark, simple altar table in the Celebration Center:



My plan for the service was to speak of God's love for all of us, specifically referring to the father and son in Mark 9:14-29. This was the theme text of the first lesson in our excellent small group study going on at Grace right now, Embracing the Uncertain(yes, there are still copies available in the office if you'd like one). The grief and desperation of the father in the story was very close to my own heart as I heard the news of another mass school shooting, this time near Miami. He pleas with Jesus: "If you can do anything,…

Transfiguration of the Heart

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Every year on this Sunday, the Transfiguration of the Lord, I remember one of the worst sermons I ever preached. It happened eighteen years ago at Upper Ettingshall Methodist Church during the year Christy and I served in England. I stood before the congregation of seventy or so people and confessed that I didn't have a sermon. Instead, I asked them to close their eyes and imagine the story as I read one of the most mysterious, and glorious, of all Bible stories.

Mark 9:2-9

The Transfiguration of Jesus is impossible to interpret. It is impossible to explain. Even this week, eighteen years after the sermon fail in England, I found myself reading sermons online. They all stunk. It just can't be done. Traditional preaching doesn't work.

Somehow, and I am not sure how this happened, I found myself on YouTube, watching videos of one of my favorite Christian writers, Frederick Buechner. None of them specifically dealt with the Transfiguration, but an Easter sermon really spoke to…

Wesley Pilgrimage in England

This summer will be a memorable one for me: for my annual required continuing education/spiritual formation work, I will participate in a Wesleyan Pilgrimage in England, July 9-19. This experience is offered through the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church. It is led by a Wesley scholar and a leadership/evangelism professor at Asbury Seminary. Recently the General Board announced layoffs to the agency as a result of the declining budget of the World Service apportionment. Thankfully, the trip was not impacted; however individual and family lives will be, including one of the trip leaders. I invite you to be in prayer for their time of transition.

Christy and I served in England for nearly a year in 1999-2000, and we returned there for a week of "holiday" in 2007. This will be the first time I've traveled there by myself! The family was welcome to go, or join me after my pilgrimage, but other commitments did not allow for it. Christy will take my p…

When the Calendar Messes with Us

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Happy Groundhog Day Everybody! Evidently Pax Phil saw his shadow today, so get ready for more six additional weeks of mornings like today! Brrrr!

I have seen my shadow !! SORRY FOLKS!! 6 MORE WEEKS OF WINTER!#6MoreWeeks#GroundhogDay — Punxsutawny Phil (@PunxsatawnyPhil) February 2, 2018
Looking beyond Feb 2, our next holiday is Valentine's Day, Feb 14. Every now and then, the church calendar intersects with the secular calendar. This year, Feb 14 is not only Valentine's Day; it is also Ash Wednesday. Those of you who give up chocolate and sweets for Lent: How do you deal with that??? Even sillier, Easter Sunday is April 1. No Foolin'! This is the first Easter on April Fool's Day since 1956. It'll next happen in 2029.

Yes, you are right to feel like Christmas just wrapped up. You still have a handful of neighbors with their exterior Christmas lights up-- and even turned on at night! Your church staff and leaders are still wiped out from Christmas, and now we have to…