Showing posts from August, 2017

Prayers of Safety and Comfort for Those Suffering from Natural Disasters

People suffering from Harvey have probably had about enough of images like this. But these prayers may offer comfort and assurance in the midst of their suffering. Please share!

A Prayer of Confession All: Almighty God, we confess our need of you.
We take so much of our lives for granted, but in the end
we cannot rely on our own strength or that of others.
All: Almighty God, we confess our need of you.
We have enjoyed the blessings of self-reliance, but in the end
we cannot rely on our own selves to do what is right or good.
All: Almighty God, we confess our need of you.
We have built cities, and levees, and power grids to overcome the power of nature,
but in the end we cannot rely on even the best things we have built.
All: Almighty God, we confess our need of you. We can rely only on you.
Into your hands we commend our lives,
for you are our Rock and our Redeemer.
Have mercy on us, Lord. Have mercy.

Popsicles Are a Means of Grace

Last Saturday night was going to be an amazing evening. Months ago, Janet Hayes and I reserved the Splash at Fairview Park as a Back to School event for families in Sherman. This would be a free event, a gift to bless the kids of our community. I created an event page on Facebook. This was just meant to communicate that it was happening. It was not a paid advertisement. Surprisingly, 349 people said they would attend (the place only holds 400!), and 1,500 people indicated they were interested. 1500! About three hours before the event was to begin, thunder rolled and lightning crashed. Eventually the City of Sherman closed the water park and the event was cancelled.
I was not in a great mood for several hours. This was the kind of gift I had dreamed of the church offering the community. As I posted the news on Facebook, people said things like, "Thank you and bless you. This was a great idea." I hope we do something like this again next summer.

On Monday of this week, a doze…

My Approach to Preaching

I received many comments after yesterday's sermon, following the events of this past weekend in Charlottesville, VA. Thank you to everyone for your support and feedback! You can listen to the audio recording of the sermon here.

The experience of writing and delivering that sermon has me thinking this morning about the nature of Christian preaching as I understand it. Preaching is deeply personal and relational between:
preacher and Godpreacher and the local congregation/community/parish one servespreacher and the denomination s/he represents, when applicable Every preacher has their own models for sermon development, and ministry in general. Some preachers consider preaching the least important part of their work; they are more caregivers, for example. Others see preaching as a mode for teaching, so the sermon has more of a lecture style. From the beginning of my ministry, I decided preaching best fit my gifts, and had the capacity to deliver the gospel to the most people. When I w…

A Christian Response to White Supremacy

My sermon from August 13, 2017, following the events of this weekend in Charlottesville, VA
Matthew 14:22-33
The other night, Christy and I took Linus to Dilligham Intermediate School to get his new schedule and meet his teachers. There are nine elementary schools in Sherman, which go from K-4th grade. Then all 5-6th graders attend the same school. It's not the way I would have drawn up the school system, but it is what it is, at least for now.

Anyway, as we walked through those halls, it was very evident to me what it looks like when one takes every kid from every school and puts them together in one school. The kids and their families were beautifully diverse: immigrants speaking a second language. Second generation kids. African American kids. Latino kids. Caucasian kids. You get the picture. As I looked around at the different faces and heard different accents and even languages of kids and families who will share the same space as my son, I did not feel threatened or isolated.…

Prayers of Peace for Korea and the World

With all the talk of war this week, including outlandish claims by a Dallas pastor I will not repeat here, I found these prayers for peace and the unification of Korea hopeful & comforting:

A Call to Prayer for a Just Peace from the General Secretary of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society (issued August 9, 2017)

On this day, 72 years ago, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki – just three days after dropping one on the city of Hiroshima. It is estimated that over 150,000 people were killed over those three days.

Fast forward to present day, the last few months have been met with anxiety and tension around threats of nuclear weapons and warfare. Leaders in North Korea continue to isolate their country as they threaten Creation with nuclear missiles. Leaders in the United States agitate and provoke with threats of destruction. It is during times like these when we must join together in a call for the exhaustion of all diplomatic effor…

Recent Summer Movie Reviews

It's been a while since I wrote some movie reviews. So let's catch up! But first, congrats to Wonder Woman, which I reviewed here. That film is 2017's #1 summer movie, bringing in $400 million. It's still in wide release two months on, so check it out if you haven't!

The Big Sick

Christy and I have been watching Silicon Valley this summer, and Kumail Nanjiani is hilarious. The Big Sick is a true story of how his relationship with his wife began. It is a sweet, funny romantic comedy with great supporting performances. It's also honest about the struggles of immigrants dealing with a new culture. Christy and I both loved this movie and we are so happy for its success. It started very small-- it's a low budget, independent movie. It has expanded its release almost every week. Go check it out.
Spiderman: Homecoming

Honestly, I was not excited about this movie. I loved Spiderman in last year's Civil War, but with all the recent Spiderman movies (six in sixteen y…

Life Lessons from Matthew

We've had a great summer here at Grace! I've been very impressed with our worship attendance. Thank you for your faithfulness in worship participation! We experimented this summer with a sermon series and special Bible study both focused on the Book of Genesis. I think the dual focus helped attendance in both the class and worship. The sermon series ends this week with the completion of the Joseph narrative (Genesis 45); the Bible study ends in a couple of weeks.

Our next worship series kicks off on Back to School Sunday, August 13: "Life Lessons from Matthew." Here's an outline:

August 13: Matthew 14:22-33
August 20: Matthew 15:10-28
August 27: Matthew 16:13-20
September 3: Matthew 16:21-28
September 10: Matthew 18:15-20
September 17: Matthew 18:21-35
September 24: Matthew 20:1-16

One of my favorite Christian authors is John Ortberg. Years ago he wrote a fun book called If You Want to Walk on Water You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. It recalls the amazing s…