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Showing posts from 2014

Unbroken

Warning: there may be spoilers here, depending on how you define "spoiler." The movie opens December 25, but the book has been out for several years. I will not divulge any secrets of the movie (there really aren't any), but I will highlight important differences from the Laura Hillenbrand book, as well as overall impressions of the film.

Another note: sometimes at advance screenings viewers are forbidden to post their reactions before the release date. Aside from "keep your mobile phone in your pocket," no such admonitions were given.



The other night I was invited to attend a special screening for the new Angelina Jolie directed film Unbroken(I also learned from the end credits that Joel and Ethan Coen wrote the script, with others-- this was a surprise. I am huge fans of those guys). Let me say from the beginning this is one of the best books I have ever written-- I know that is a cliche, but here it is true. It is a thrilling, nearly unbelievable true story o…

Join the Conspiracy!

(I'm a week late in posting this, but here you go.)

True story: several years ago when I served at a church in Duncanville, I visited a family in their home for a funeral visit. In the middle of the summer, a Christmas tree graced the living room. It was this family's practice to never take their tree down. The son of this couple met a young woman, and was going to her parents' home for the first time. She warned him: "You might think this is weird, but my parents keep their Christmas tree up all year long." "Mine too!", he thought. You knew the relationship was off to a good start!

Admit it: you love Christmas that much too. Maybe not enough to keep your tree up or lights on year round, but you dig the holiday. So do I. To get us in the spirit of things, let's count down our favorite Christmas cliches:

1. It's too commercial. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $600 billion this holiday season. FYI, that more than

A Remembrance of John Oestmann

Note: this sermon was shared at the funeral for John Oestmann today. I offer it here for those unable to attend the service, but also for anyone who has struggled with an untimely loss of a loved one. 
I first met John Oestmann when I became the pastor at Prosper United Methodist eight years ago. And did this guy make an impression! It isn’t often that I am made to feel small around others—but John was a giant in every way you can imagine. People always say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, that was never truer than when one considers our husband, father, brother, son, and friend, John. Many of us might have crossed the street when we saw this large, tattooed, sometimes Mohawked man approaching us. And if we did cross that road, we would miss out on knowing one of the best, most genuine, most dependable men we would ever meet. But the lasting impression John gave had little to do with his appearance and everything to do with the way he lived his life. One of my favorite lines f…

How Far Would You Go For Love?

Last Friday I enjoyed a double feature at the Alamo Drafthouse: John Wick (an old school revenge shooter type movie) and Interstellar the latest Christopher Nolan movie starring Matthew McConaughey. There is a ton of buzz around the movie, and I'll leave the "does it live up to the hype?" argument to others. 

There are two huge quotes from McConaughey's character that had huge impacts on me:

"We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt."
"We were born here, but never meant to die here."
The first quote is a feeling I share, regret of the loss of the manned space flight programs. Yes, they were expensive and dangerous, but when we stop exploring we stop evolving. Just this morning a probe landed on a comet, and that is an exciting achievement, but it's not the same as astronauts going to the moon or Mars. The second quote is the mission statement of the movie. Earth…

All Saints Day: A Litany to Honor Women

(from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals)

All Saints Day, observed November 1, is a day to celebrate the lives of the departed faithful. That being said, All Saints is also about God's sanctifying grace, giving us the hope of being transformed into saints in this life. The mothers of Plaza de Mayo and Alice Walker are still living; their witness echoes that of the other women listed here.

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We walk in the company of the women who have gone before, mothers of the faith both named and unnamed, testifying with ferocity and faith to the Spirit of wisdom and healing. They are the judges, the prophets, the martyrs, the warriors, the poets, lovers and saints who are near to us in the shadow of awareness, in the crevices of memory, in the landscape of our dreams.

We walk in the company of Deborah, who judged the Israelites with authority and strength.

We walk in the company of Esther, who used her position as queen to ensure the welfare of her people.

We walk in the comp…

Prayer and Reflection for Domestic Violence Month

Please note: this prayer and reflection was shared during the prayer time in worship today at Custer Road. October is Domestic Violence awareness month. As an act of prayer this morning, we unite our hearts and minds with those who suffer brokenness within their most intimate relationships. We know God’s own heart breaks at every sign of violence and pray that the compassion of Jesus may shine forth through the hurt and pain of so many. The statistics regarding domestic abuse are overwhelming:
·95% of the victims of domestic violence are women·One in four married women suffer abuse from their partners—this number is too low because most abuse goes unreported·Most abuse occurs on Sundays·Family violence is the leading cause of death for women aged 15-44.·Boys who witness domestic violence in the home are 1500% more likely to commit it themselves·70% of children of abused women are physically abused, and 20% are sexually abused·Number of Texas family violence incidence in 2012: nearly 200…

A More Excellent Way

Leaders and staff in the church are often faced with the challenging task of creating rosters of folk to fulfill the needs of a given ministry. For example, the outreach at the school may need 50 volunteers to make it happen. Well, how do we go about filling those needs? Often we resort to the way we have always done things: announcements, emails, even reaching out to fellow staff or leaders to help us out.
Now, I am sure these are wonderful, fulfilling opportunities, and certainly part of our calling as Christians is to serve. But offering a more biblical approach to staffing ministry may be more fruitful. As the Apostle Paul said, I want to show you "a more excellent way" (1 Corinthians 12:31).
I picked up on the idea of creating a “so that” statement for ministry from Dr Lovett Weems when I was working on my doctorate. We offer X ministry so that... I am involved in the X ministry so that... It's basically a purpose or mission statement. It's really fun when all…

The Revival at Custer Road

Word is starting to get out about a special event we have coming to Custer Road at the end of this month, September 28-30: a Revival. Our guest preacher will be Robert E. Hayes, Jr., resident Bishop of the Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Indian Conferences. Bishop Hayes was the preacher at the Opening Worship of Annual Conference in 2013, and at the Ordination Service of Annual Conference in 2007 (held at Custer Road). Please make plans to join us for the worship services: 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning, and 7:00 p.m. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings.
I have known Bishop Hayes for twenty years. I first met him at senior high church camp. I was a counselor, he was the Houston Southwest District Superintendent. We sat across the table from one another at breakfast. I immediately found him engaging, funny, and a lively spirit. Later that summer, I attended the Walk to Emmaus. On those three days away from my work and ministry (I was a part-time youth director and a full-time History te…

The Face of Evil

Today marks the 13th anniversary of September 11, 2001 attacks on our country (read my sermon from the tenth anniversary, Sunday, September 11, 2011, here). Many friends have changed their Facebook profile pictures to images from that day, or like the one above, from our recent trip to New York City. #NeverForget, #911Anniversary, #Remember911, and #September11 are all trending on Twitter. It's a day forever etched into our national memory.

Today, the face of evil has a new name: ISIS, or ISIL. They are terrorists, perhaps more evil than the ones who attacked the US (the group was even condemned by Al Qeada for its brutality). We have all been horrified and saddened by the very public beheadings of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Both were men of faith: Foley a Christian and Sotloff a Jew. Following these killings and many more innocents, folk began calling upon President Obama to respond. I saw many posts from folk angry about what they perceived was post…

BOYHOOD, First Days, and Every Day Following

Today was, obviously if you have a Facebook account, the first day of school. Not only was it that for our boys, but it was another first day in a new school. We've had all summer to contemplate this day, since we made the decision to buy a house in Allen. We tried to comfort James with the reality that every other 7th grader would be new at the school too, but of course many of them have previous relationships from other schools. Thankfully James has some church friends there. This will be Miles’ (4th grade) fourth school, and Linus (2nd) second school. Yeah, we are hoping for some school stability! I was excited to hear first day reports—including James’ first experience riding the yellow dog to school—and the good news is everyone had a good day.
Christy and I recently watched Boyhood, the new film from director Richard Linklater. You may have heard about because of its unique nature. Richard Linklater spent twelve years filming two actors, one of whom was his own daughter. Th…

Faith: Of or In Christ?

Ever have one of the moments where you leave a discussion and on the drive home you think of an amazing point you could have contributed? That happened to me the other night in Bible study. We are studying Romans and the material referenced Martin Luther's incredibly impactful changing of a single word in his translation of Romans-- a change that shifted Christian theology. Luther changed the word of in Romans 3:22 to in:

Romans 3:22

New Revised Standard Version translation: "...the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ..."Common Englsh Version: "God's righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him." We talked about this change and its significance, not only for what the Bible says but how it effects the mission of the church, for quite some time, to the point where one or two basically said, "There's really not much difference. Let's move on." I was ready to move on too!
But on the d…

New York, New York

Last week we took the boys on their first-ever flights, to New York City. Each day started fairly cool and ended warm and sunny-- about 85-87 degrees. Christy has visited New York several times; for me this was the second time-- the first was only a weekend five or so years ago. We flew on Southwest, still constricted by the Wright Amendment, meaning we had to stop in St Louis on the way up and Nashville and New Orleans on the way back. We arrived at La Guardia, which, compared to the airports above, and especially Love Field, is way too small and crowded. The plan was to take the bus and subway to the hotel, but for some reason neither our credit card nor debit card worked (we fixed it later)-- and the machines did not take cash. So we hired a mini van! Like our every day life!

We stayed in a hotel in MidTown, near Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. Checking in around 4:00 p.m., we picked up some hot dogs and giant pretzels from a street cart and headed to Times Square, where we…

Our Need to be Fully Known

Ferguson, Missouri is roughly the same size as my home town of Bay City, Texas. Police in riot gear shooting tear gas into peaceful protesters is impossible for me to imagine where I grew up. But it has happened every day this week near St Louis. Protests erupted after Michael Brown, an unarmed, young African-American man (18 years old) was killed by police. The police responded with aggression and tactics WAY out of scale with what was happening in their community-- including gassing members of the media and destroying their equipment. #mediablackout is now trending on Twitter.

Across the country, those communities who have felt threatened by, rather than protected by, the police have made their voices heard. Many years ago I participated in an anti-racism training with other pastors and layfolk from North Texas. The material referenced this perspective, although I have forgotten the source: "To African-Americans, even a black man in a blue uniform is a white police." Thes…

Amazing New Friends, and New Faith

Last week I tweeted a couple of seemingly random messages:

Absolutely amazed by God's grace. Gotta learn Farsi.. @CusterRoadUMC
— frankdrenner (@revfrankdrenner) July 24, 2014
(Farsi is also known as Persian, one of the predominant languages of Iran.)

Then the next day:

آیا می خواهید برای گرفتن تعمید
— frankdrenner (@revfrankdrenner) July 24, 2014
آیا می خواهید برای گرفتن تعمید means, in Farsi, "Do you want to get baptized?" (thanks, Google translator).

Why the interest in Farsi? Well it's kind of a complicated story with several characters. Every Sunday I spend a few hours "mugging" folks-- meaning a visit I make to every first time guest of Custer Road on the day they worship with us. I bring them a CRUMC coffee mug as a welcome gift. A few weeks ago I mugged Marci, who lives less than a mile from my house. She and her family came to America fourteen years ago from Iran. I met Marci's husband and son. Marci and her daughter are both baptized Christian…