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A Gospel of a Different Color

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…

Who's The One?

Last Sunday Grace overwhelmingly voted, 53-1, to accept the Healthy Church Initiative prescriptions. We'll begin the work of forming those teams after Easter, and we'll establish timelines for not only beginning the work, but deadlines for finishing and reporting. It'll be a long process, but I hope we are sufficiently excited about the possibilities for new ministry.

Almost immediately after the vote, people started asking themselves: "Who's the one?" Several people spoke to me this week, claiming they knew the one: a person they were sitting near, they overheard a comment in the hallway, etc. It's impossible for every one of those people to be right. And I hope "The One" remains anonymous-- not because we do not need dissenting voices; we do-- but because the guessing game is fun. And we've voted and are moving forward. I hope The One sees the merit of the process and becomes an enthusiastic supporter.

But we must move on! Holy Week is upo…

Family Promise

When I served at Custer Road, one of the many ministries in which we participated was Family Promise of Collin County. Family Promise is a nation-wide ministry to homeless families. Churches host families, who live in the building for a week at a time, four times a year. During the day, the adults in the families pursue permanent housing or job training, while the kids attend school. In the evening everyone returns to the church building for a meal, showers, and sleep.

One night I was there for the evening meal to offer prayer and spend some time getting to know some of the people. A young girl either mentioned Ereckson Elementary school (Allen ISD) or she was wearing an Ereckson shirt-- I can't remember-- but it caught my attention. That was our son James' school. She knew James-- she was in one of his classes. She embarrassingly asked me not to tell him she was sleeping at the church. That encounter really struck me. We think the face of homelessness is the person standing a…

Death Becomes Us

One of the hardest days of my life was when I preached at the funeral of my cousin Ron. He died fourteen years ago, aged 33-- this past Monday was his birthday. Ron and I were born five weeks apart. He and I spent weekends together our first eighteen years-- it seems like every weekend we were at his house, or mine, or just as likely, we were both at our grandparents'. To this day I still don't know the official cause of his death, and honestly I don't need to know. An old adage says, "Death ends a life, not the relationship," and I know it's true. I think about Ron nearly every day. He even shows up occasionally, very much alive, in my dreams from time to time.

The fear of death plagues just about all of us at one time or another. We worry about the end of our lives, what the next life is like, if it is even real or just a fantasy. Will we see this person or that beloved pet or will our loved ones look as we remember them-- or as they remember themselves? Ho…

Lent in the Fast Lane

So how's your Lent going?? We're halfway through the annual forty days of spiritual preparation leading up to Easter. Can you believe it? Good Friday is three weeks from today. I still feel like I am recovering from Christmas. Last Sunday we celebrated the Lord's Supper-- first Sunday of March. You may not know this, but our Book of Worship has two communion liturgies for Lent: one for early, and one for late. It was the third Sunday of Lent. The next first Sunday of the month is Apirl 1, Easter Sunday. So which one should I choose? I went with the early one, because even though we're halfway through Lent and we had an amazing Ash Wednesday service, it feels like we/I haven't really started. Maybe it's the Healthy Church Initiative process. We've been gearing up to this point for a year and a half... and now it's here-- the vote is a week from Sunday. I'm thankful for everyone who has brought us to this place, but honestly for me it seems like Lent …

Recent Movie Reviews + Oscar Reflections

I caught a few movies recently:

 Here was my immediate reaction:
#Annihilation is.. well, I'm not sure what it is. Ten hours later I still need to process. It's an experience, for sure. I kept thinking about the last 30 mins or 2001. Visually beautiful, the sound is UNBELIEVABLE, haunting. See it in a cinema! — Pastor Frank (@revfrankdrenner) February 23, 2018
Now that I've had a couple of weeks to think about this movie, I really appreciate it. It's been compared to an all-female Alien movie, but the best comparison I've seen is to Arrival, my pick for the best movie of 2016. Arrival is more cerebral and plausible; it's almost a documentary in how the military/government would respond to extra-terrestrial visitation. Annihilation, on the other hand, is all emotion. It's a metaphor about transformation-- in the case of Natalie Portman's character, she is changed as much by her grief over her missing/lost husband by any encounter with the supe…

Two Stacks

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

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…