Showing posts from January, 2007

tower of babble

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."
So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From th…

preaching as pastoral care

last sunday i preached on the classic text from the gospel of john, Jesus' first miracle. Jesus, his mother, and his disciples all attended a wedding at cana. when the wine ran out, mary mentioned it to Jesus. after some posturing, Jesus pointed out the six 30-gallon jars lying over there in the corner, instructing the servants to fill them with water. somehow the water became wine, wine that was so rich the chief steward said to the groom, slightly paraphrased from the version in your bible, "dude, you've got it backwards. serve the good stuff first, then the cheap stuff after everyone is hammered!"

i said Jesus could have offered to fill everyone's glass for one last toast to the happy couple, but he did not do that. he produced nearly 200 gallons of the best wine anyone could ever drink. i said this story is really a parable about grace. it shows us in a powerful way how God's grace works in our lives. God never gives us enough love to just get thr…

change happens

note: this article will appear in trinity's monthly newsletter for february. please forgive the use of capital letters.

Wow, when God decides to unleash changes in the church, they come quickly! Think about the changes in our church over the past year: new website, new worship experiences, new paint, new ministry structure, new passion for mission, new excitement and possibility. It’s almost too much change to deal with. Then I am sitting in a Washington, D.C. classroom on the first morning and my phone rings, my District Superintendent. Change happens quickly!

As we prepare for upcoming changes in our life, I wanted to reflect for a moment on the issue of change. Christy, the boys, and I spent much of last weekend trying to de-clutter our home, getting it ready to put on the market. We began with the boys’ toys, sorting out what they no longer played with, what they were too big for, and various toy parts—parts to which toys we have no idea. Each toy had its own accompanying memory…

recon mission

two weeks ago, on the morning i preached at calvary baptist in washington, christy, her mom, and the boys went on a secret trip to prosper for reconnaissance. there were there right as church was letting out, but assured me no one saw them. she reported seeing many young families streaming out.

the sanctuary was built in the 1920s, a very small and intimate place for worship. prosper has two worship services, "contemporary" at 8:30 and "traditional" at 10:45. (just as a side note i don't like those labels. just about everyone uses them, and few know what it means. in a study of the theology of worship i led at trinity a couple of years ago, several different movements in worship throughout Christian history were listed, and the excellent question was asked: which of these was contemporary or traditional in its time?).

there is a lovely education building that was built about four years ago. walking through it, you can sense the laughter and play of children (the …

live long and prosper

at about 10:30 a.m. on my first day of class in washington, my phone rang. it was an unfamiliar 214 number. i answered it. it was my district superintendent, with a big surprise.

a couple of hours later i learned i would become the new pastor at prosper united methodist church. prosper is 5 miles north of frisco, directly in the path of one of the largest housing booms this nation has ever seen. there is incredible potential for dynamic growth. the area is extremely young. it is exactly the kind of appointment i have always dreamed of and prayed for. christy will be able to stay home with the boys. all of these factors added together mean it is a great opportunity for us.

we were introduced to prosper's staff-parish relations committee monday night, and tuesday i began the difficult task of informing trinity church folk that i would be leaving after a tenure of slightly more than two years. their response was universal: happy for my family and me, sad for the church, unsure of the a…

mlk: the voice of the people

words cannot describe my admiration for dr. martin luther king, jr. as a memorial this year i borrow a series of quotes from

ON NONVIOLENCE (From Birmingham jail, 1963): "In your statement, you asserted that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of the Crucifixion?"

ON BLACKS IN AMERICA (From Birmingham jail, 1963): "Before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched across the pages of history the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence, we were here. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands."



news flash: Jesus Christ's long-promised second coming has been delayed, due to freezing rain in the dallas-ft. worth area. stay tuned right here for the latest updates. now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

after two weeks of relatively balmy weather in washington, weather in dallas is a complete mess. my flight was 90 minutes late friday night, due to heavy rain in the area, which ushered in a cold front. yesterday, today, and possibly tomorrow we have encountered ice on the trees and freezing rain. there have been hundreds of accidents. last night we decided to cancel saturday worship and our sunday early service, as well as a couple of fellowship events scheduled for sunday. but we were going to keep 11:00 going. after all, we have a faithful witness to proclaim, rain, snow, sleet, or heat.

that changed this morning. i arrived at church safe and sound, but it was raining and only 32 degrees. a new band of sleeting showers is called to come through our area right arou…

calvary baptist church

i had a unique experience today, preaching at calvary baptist church in downtown washington. the pastor, amy butler, is a colleague in the doctoral program. she invited me to preach the last time we were together, back in may. since then i have looked forward to today with a mixture of joy and dread. i had never preached in a baptist church, although more than one of the good folk at trinity church have accused me of sounding like a baptist! is that a compliment or not?

calvary is an historic congregation, started in 1862. its sanctuary is just awe inspiring. it really is an amazing place. they have undergone a great deal of renovation recently, with more to come, so much of the building is still empty or underused. but the people were very friendly and welcoming. pastor amy has been at calvary for four years, moving there from new orleans, where she served as an associate pastor (she went to college at baylor and seminary in zurich). calvary is an american baptist congregation, mean…

a boy's life

i just sat at starbucks for two hours, finishing bill bryson's latest work of genius, the life and times of the thunderbolt kid. this guy is a classic. i was first exposed to him when christy and i lived in england seven years ago. he wrote a book called notes from a small island, an account across the british isles that is universally adored by the english. i bought it at a london bookstore and on the train home embarrassed christy to no end, laughing until red in the face, tears running.

bryson has written several books, many of them travel books from europe, australia, the u.s., and, i discovered last night, africa. gotta find that one. he's also written about the literal changing of the american landscape and walking the appalachian trail. he's even written about language and science. the guy's brilliant and funny.

mom gave the book to me for Christmas. she had no idea i knew of bryson, this despite having seven of his works on my bookshelf at home! she bo…

the other side of the curtain

dearest readers (both of you): all i can say is i am sorry for the two month sabbatical and HAPPY NEW YEAR! it would be cliche to say my new year's resolution is to be more faithful to blogging, right?

i write from washington d.c., where i returned today for two weeks, resuming my doctoral work. my roommate, gerhardt, a pastor from maine, asked me if i flew in. i somehow resisted the urge to say, "yeah, and my arms sure are tired!"

but what an experience i had: i flew first class! thank you for the 1000th time, john and mary! this was my first time on the better side of "the curtain." i have to admit that i enjoyed the indulgences. when the flight attendant asked folk to please use the lavatory in their own section of the plane, i quietly smiled. when a guy in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops (excuse me, it was 35 degrees this morning!) came forward from the other section to use our bathroom i regarded him with suspicion. the steward let him use the fir…