30 June 2011

Blessed be the (Renewed) Ties That Bind!

Greetings to our new church family!  Or is it our old church family?  Since the news of our appointment change came down May 11 it's been difficult to keep everything together mentally, physically, and in every other way!  We are so grateful to the Oak Lawn church family for the gracious welcome we have received.  I have enjoyed reuniting with long-term staff members, as well as getting to know those who came on board after we left Oak Lawn eight years ago.  We are very excited to be a part of this community once again and look forward to many years of ministry together.

For those of you who were not around between 1998-2003, here are some  "getting to know you" items about the Drenner family:

* Christy and I have been married fourteen years.  We met at the United Methodist student ministry at SMU.  James (9) was baptized here at Oak Lawn.  Miles (6) and Linus (3) came later.  The biggest boys will attend Brentfield Elementary (Richardson ISD- 4th and 1st grades); Linus will attend Arapaho UMC's preschool.

* Christy has two degrees from SMU: a BBA in Finance, and a BA in Religious Studies.  I have a BA in History from Sam Houston State, a Master of Divinity from Perkins, and a Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC

* Christy claims both Austin and El Paso as home; I grew up in Bay City, south of Houston.

* We have served a variety of appointments: Oak Lawn as intern and Associate Pastor; Methodist churches in England for a year; and the last eight years as lead pastor in congregations in Denison, Duncanville, and Prosper.  Christy works at Christ's Foundry United Methodist Mission as its Financial Officer.

* My passion in ministry is making disciples through prayer and study.  It is always a joy to see God shaping an individual into a new creation!  I love teaching and preaching.  I love sharing in the lives of others.  My least favorite part of ministry is meetings.  A favorite line from a book I read years ago: "Jesus never said, 'Go and serve on a committee.'"

* My hobbies include Pez collecting- come by my office sometime and check them out- baseball, and movies.

I am thrilled to see how the Oak Lawn church has embraced its community's diversity over the years.  I love the many social justice ministries our church offers.  In fact, let me must say how proud I am of Oak Lawn UMC.  Many years ago our church made a commitment to stay here on this corner in this historic building.  I was thinking the other day about how our church is the only one with Oak Lawn in its name.  We are not Uptown UMC.  We are not Just North of Downtown UMC.  And we are not Generic UMC located in Oak Lawn.  We are proudly, boldly, unashamedly Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, located within one of the most exciting and interesting neighborhoods in all of Dallas!

It's going to take some getting used to being back here.  The Pez are not located in Milton/Justin/Mike/Derrick/Katherine's office, but mine.  I'll say something about dreams and deja vu in the message this morning, so for now let's say, as unbelievable as it sounds: "We're back!" And we are thrilled.  We  left eight years ago and much has happened and changed over that time, but many things are unchanged.  New things will happen as we serve together, and we look forward to sharing all of them with you!

28 June 2011

A Farewell Gift from a Parishioner at Prosper UMC

Heavenly Father, we thank you today for your work in creation and the abundant blessings that we have as Your children.
We thank you for the glorious gospel; the gift of your Son Jesus Christ as the one mediator between God and man.
Thank you for the church, the company of the redeemed, and for the local church where believers gather to express their faith and obedience such as we do here at Prosper United Methodist Church.
Thank you for the gift of Pastor Drenner, which your Word says you gave to your church "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12, 13).
Thank you for Pastor Drenner and his faithfulness to your cause, for the Bible says, "it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:2).
Thank you for his personal commitment to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and to the Word of God.
Thank you for the love he has for his wife and family demonstrating a stable and healthy family.  For the Scripture says of church leadership, "he must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect" (1 Timothy 3:4). Please continue to bless and protect James, Miles, and Linus; We pray that they will grow up with a positive impression of church ministry.
Thank you for his thoughtful exposition of your Word, as he heeds your call to "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction" (2 Timothy 4:2).
Thank you for his leadership in our church services and the orderly manner in which he leads us, seeking to fulfill the Biblical call that "all things be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40).
Thank you for his interest in the flock under his care and the burden that he carries for your people.
Thank you for Christy and her compliment to his leadership and her service and thoughtfulness as well.  Please continue to bless her ministry and protect her daily.
May you continue to confer your richest blessing upon this ministry couple as they seek to fulfill their call amongst us and thus bring You glory.

In the powerful name of Jesus Christ we pray, AMEN.

(posted by michale hewlett.  she said to not credit it her with since it's not all original to her.  so i'll just say thank you and you are awesome michale!)

18 June 2011

Thanks and Vacation Plans!

Last Sunday was a wonderful day for our family!  We are so thankful for the many ways PUMC folk have expressed their gratitude to us for our ministry here.  We have enjoyed many meals, the iPad we were given Sunday has been a major joy-- no I have not shared it yet with the boys, and they have been surprisingly patient-- and the love offering was very generous.  All of us feel overwhelmed by your appreciation.  Thank you! 

Last week at the service of ordination for the North Texas Conference, Rev. Morris Matthis, who was once a mentor pastor to me, mentioned a conversation he had once with the bishop who ordained him.  They were words Morris never forgot: "Every church you serve will be better than you deserve."  He challenged the ordinands, and other pastors in attendance, to remember that throughout their ministry.  Prosper, and Oak Lawn, for that matter, are certainly better churches than I deserve!  What a privilege and gift to serve in ministry!  

This has been the easiest, most seamless transition I have ever experienced-- both on Prosper's end, as well as Oak Lawn.  Pastor Chris and I have talked, chatted on Facebook, or texted nearly every day since May 11, and Rev. Katherine Glaze Lyle, interim pastor at Oak Lawn, has been very gracious in filling me in on goings-on there, as well as inviting me to participate in a day-log staff retreat.  It's great to have everything moving forward in every way!  We covet your prayers during this time of transition, not only for ourselves but for Pastor Chris and his family, and all families and churches going through changes this summer.   

Early Sunday we'll pack up the van for an old-school, cross-country family vacation (hello, portable DVD!).  We're going to San Diego to check out the world famous zoo, Lego Land, and other fun activities.  The boys have been excited about this trip for many months, and we are happy it is here!  We'll return the following Sunday, the 26th.  Then it's on to the business of moving to the new house.

10 June 2011

Time to Reboot!

I am a movie fan-- no surprise there.  I am always fascinated at just how unoriginal Hollywood can be sometimes.  Several summers ago there were two movies about giant asteroids coming to destroy the earth.  This summer it's all about super hero movies: Thor.  Green Lantern.  Captain America.  X-Men.  One trend that continues is the "reboot" of franchise: meaning taking a formula that has worked well before and restart from an earlier point.  The Batman franchise rebooted itself in 2005 with Batman Begins, which was excellent, then spurred off 2008's epic sequel, one of the best all time, The Dark Knight.  I am already excited for next summer's The Dark Knight Returns.

Other recent reboots have been three Star Wars movies (1999, 2002, 2005); 2009's great Star Trek; and even new Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street movies.  (I don't recommend those.)  Last week a good movie buff friend and I went to see X-Men: First Class, a reboot.  It was very good.  One thing you know about Hollywood: if the formula works (read: $$$), it will keep with it!

The reboot idea got me thinking a little about this Sunday.  It's Pentecost Sunday, the day we celebrate the beginning of the movement that would become the Church.  We wear red on Pentecost, remembering the fire of the Holy Spirit, which came upon the disciples as they gathered together in Jerusalem.  In a sense, this became a reboot.  A chance to start over with a boldness, a newness of life, vision, and purpose, that helped to transform the world forever.  As the Spirit led them, they went about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ (read Acts 2 and beyond).

Also this week we'll wrap up the Three Simple Rules series, with Wesley's third General Rule: "Stay in love with God."  Attend to those disciplines of the faith (regular worship, prayer, study, service, fellowship, support of the overall ministry) that help us to continually grow in Christ.  The text we'll use is Galatians 5:16-26.  Paul sets up an interesting sort of "before and after" picture of the Christian: Put away the "before Christ" attitudes and actions (there are a bunch of them)-- things like strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, etc.  Instead, put on the "after Christ" characteristics-- what we commonly call the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

We sang it together last week in worship: "They'll know we are Christians by our love."  Love is evidence of the Spirit.  Pentecost is about the gift of the Spirit to the Church.  The Spirit transforms our thoughts and actions, if we allow it.  We stop being angry, jealous, creating factions and dissension.  We start having joy, show faithfulness, and promote kindness and peace within the church and community.  The Spirit reboots us-- gives us a fresh, clean start.  A chance for renewal.  Like the disciples, we must say YES to the Spirit's work.  So: let's make it very simple: Look over the events of the past week.  Think of the conversations you've had, the emotions you have felt, your attitudes.  Is your life evidencing the work of the Spirit this week?  The things you have done and said this week: reflecting Christ or not?

I hope to see you Sunday, not just because it's our last Sunday at PUMC, but because Pentecost is about the universal Church for all time.  Wear something red to reflect your knowledge and understanding of the Spirit in your life.  And may all of us live according the work of the Spirit in us.  Put an end to the negativity you see in yourself and others.  It blocks the Spirit-- it's all people will see.  Instead, put on the fruit of the Spirit-- let everyone see how God has changed your life-- and how you are using your "reboot" to make your family, the church, and your community better.  Live love, joy, and peace.  Live patience, kindness, and generosity.  Live faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Live in the Spirit!

03 June 2011

Ten Years And Counting!

This week I received a letter from our Bishop's office congratulating me on the 10th anniversary of my ordination.  Wow.  In the hustle and bustle of moving and everything else, it slipped my mind earlier this week.  Ten years ago Christy and I had no kids and lived in an apartment in a hip, young couples type of area.  Ten years ago life was very different.  And ten years from now will be different from today.  And I am OK with that.

I've never been one to mourn the past.  As I heard someone say recently, "Your past is the only thing in your life you cannot change."  Yet so many of us choose to live there.  As Billy Joel once sang, "The good ol' days weren't always good, and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems."  What is it in your life today that needs reconciling?  What can you decide today to leave in the past where it belongs and embrace the future God has for you?

Two weeks ago the media, Facebook, Twitter, everywhere people got together someone was talking about the world ending.  And we woke up the next Sunday anyway.  Maybe, as some of those "Rapture" folk claim now, God gave us another chance.  By the way, you know the whole "Rapture" theology of the Left Behind books, etc. never existed before 300 years ago, right?  Time to leave that in the past too.  But suppose for a second they are right and God has given us another chance to get things right.  How will you embrace today?  And the future?  With fear, pessimism, anxiety?

The day after the world was to end, in the sermon I mentioned Jesus visiting a place where folk in need of healing would gather around pools of water (John 5).  The tradition was if the waters of the pools were stirred God would send an angel to heal the faithful.  As we sang that day, "God's a-gonna trouble the water."  When Jesus arrived at Bethzatha that day, he approached someone and asked directly: "Do you want to be made well?"  After hearing the man's awful story, the next words Jesus said were: "Stand up, take up your mat and walk."  And for the first time in 38 years, this guy walked right out of Bethzatha.  Gone.  Forever.  Just like that.

Maybe your last ten years-- fifty years-- month-- however long-- has been spent waiting for a divine intervention.  Maybe you're stuck in a yesterday or yesteryear place and the world has moved on.  Time to get up and walk out!

I will never forget the night of my ordination.  It had been a long, difficult, exhausting, expensive process-- but also rewarding, exhilarating, and thrilling.  As Christy and pastors who had served as mentors surrounded me, laying hands on me, the Bishop said those amazing words that still bring chills: "Frank, take thou authority as an Elder in the Church."  A wonderful moment in my life.  But I could not stay in the Sanctuary of First UMC Houston's West Campus forever.  Since then I became a Dad, a better husband, pastor, and human being.  I am determined to believe my "glory days" are ahead of me and not behind-- and when I experience them I will anticipate more.

Let's all hear the words of our Savior: "Do you want to be made well?"  Well-- do you?  What is it you need to leave behind in the past?  Illness?  Bitterness?  Hurt?  Fear of a new reality?  "Stand up, take up your mat and walk."  Walk right out of that yester-place and into God's bold new future!

02 June 2011

Thank You to the PUMC Family

So... how was your month?  Any life changing news come to your household?  Christy and I have been buzzing since May 11, but things are finally falling in to place.  House-- check: North Dallas area.  School-- check: Bowie Elementary (Richardson ISD). Movers-- check.  Moving date-- sort of check.  Pastor Chris is going through the same sort of checklist, although having a parsonage to move in to makes things somewhat easier.  I was thrilled to hear the news that Chris was coming to Prosper-- he's a very good friend.  In fact he and I were at a Rangers game in late April talking about moves and feeling sort of comfortable since we had not been called.  And so the world turns!  He will be great for the church.
Appointment changes are effective July 1, meaning I will be the PUMC pastor until June 30, even though our last Sunday in worship here will be June 12.  We were already planning a family vacation to California in June, and I am grateful to  Samantha Parson, who has agreed to provide emergency coverage while I am away.  Here's how worship will look for June:
June 5 & 12: Pastor Frank preaching, finishing the Three Simples Rules series
June 19: Sherri Williams, certified lay speaker, preaching
June 26: JoAnne Pounds, preaching
July 3: Pastor Chris' first Sunday at PUMC
I began passing on experiences, notes, history, and dreams to Reverend Chris immediately upon hearing of his appointment.  He will come to Prosper with much knowledge, not just of my tenure here, but of its long history.  I know the church will welcome your new parsonage family with the same love and support with which we were greeted upon our arrival here in February, 2007.
There will be ample opportunities for Christy and I to express our gratitude for our service among you, but in case some are not around for the reception June 12 I'll say a general word of thanks here.  Thank you for your encouragement, your love of our family, the many opportunities to respond to church fire alarms in the middle of the night, the ever-present threat of tarantulas (haven't mentioned that to Chris yet!), wasps in the Sanctuary, hundreds of smiling faces at VBS, snow deep enough to toss kids around, prayer, laughter, and study around Disciple tables, carpet and bathroom tile in the parsonage (no we are not taking it with us), and so much more.
We extend to PUMC and Pastor Chris and family all of our best wishes going forward. It has been a privilege to be your parsonage family.