Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Lenten parable

"Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death —
even death on a cross."
- Philippians 2:5-8 (NRSV)

One Sunday in worship, a congregation received a rather large family as visitors.

After the service, the family spoke with the pastor, explaining that they had been members of another neighborhood congregation but were looking for a new church home that would serve their needs. They proceeded to begin asking the pastor various questions about the ministry and life of her congregation.

The pastor interrupted them by asking questions about their family and their activities, both in and out of church. “I’m not sure that our congregation is the place for you,“ the pastor told them, “for when it comes to joining our fellowship, we are far more interested in those who are willing to serve than those who are willing to be served.”

Friday, March 26, 2010

Best Jesus movies

1 - Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

2 - Ben Hur (1959)

3 - The Passion of the Christ (2004)

4 - The Miracle Maker (2000)

5 - King of Kings (1961)

6 - The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)

7 - Intolerance (1916)

8 - Jesus (2000)

9 - Jesus (1979)

10 - Mary, the Mother of Jesus (1999)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

20 Most Important Methodist Theologians

Jonathan Marlowe has started a great series of posts on the "20 Most Important Methodist Theologians". John Meunier has started an aggregate page to collect the links.

Jonathan Marlowe's write-ups and his blog, "The Ivy Bush", can be read here.

John Meunier's aggregate list can be read here.

hat tip to Allan R. Bevere

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thanking God for Dick Burns

The Rev. Richard "Dick" Burns, who passed away this week, had been a part of my life for nearly 30 years...though not many people know about our connection.

Dick Burns was a giant man of God. Few pastors of the Western PA Conference, I'd wager, have had his impact not only on our Conference but more importantly on Kingdom work in western Pennsylvania. So many people found Jesus through Dick's ministry, and countless more saw their faith deepened because of Dick. He has left a lasting impact for Jesus, and will be sorely missed.

In his younger days, Dick was very active in our Conference camping program, and was also a leader of the charismatic movement in our denomination. These passions combined years ago with Dick's involvement at Jumonville (one of the UMC's premiere camps) and specifically of the now defunct "One Way Camp", a camp which did many of the typical "camp" things but with a keen eye on developing strong relationships with Jesus while sensitive to the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit. I began attending One Way Camp after Dick had already moved on to other ministry opportunities, but his legacy remained with that event for years to come. I (first) surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus kneeling at the altar in the chapel at Jumonville in June of 1983, at age 12. Again, while Dick wasn't present, leaders of the camp had been impacted so strongly by his ministry that I have considered Dick in many ways to be my "spiritual grandfather".

Years later, I served my first appointment in a lovely little town called Big Run, PA. Dick had recently retired and lived just up the road in Dubois, PA. I was blessed to get to know him a bit, and extremely blessed when he was able to lead a series of revival meetings at the church I was serving in Big Run. His love for Jesus, for people, and for the moving of the Spirit were so infectious that the joy he brought has remained with me ever since.

As I continued in our Conference, I was inspired by Dick's spiritual leadership and example, thrilled watching this wise friend elected to serve as a delegate to our General and Jurisdictional Conferences. I was truly humbled to receive from Dick and Aldersgate ministries (along with the rest of my probationary class) a brass vial of anointing oil prior to my ordination. His prayer that night meant the world to me; the oil is in use on the altar of Jefferson UMC.

My clearest image of Dick - the one I will carry with me till we meet again - is of morning at Annual Conference in Grove City. By the second or third day of our annual gathering, most folks are tired and grumpy. Breakfast is often sparsely attended, and usually only by those desperate for morning coffee. Yet, it never failed. Dick would enter the dining hall harnessing his loudest "preacher voice" proclaiming, "It's a beautiful morning! Hallelujah! Jesus is king!" Dick understood the blessings and opportunities the Lord brought with each day...and he was excited by those opportunities!

Today, along with so many others, I am praising the Lord for Dick Burns, his life, ministry, and legacy of love and power. I am in prayer for his lovely wife Wilma Jean (one of my wife Robyn's favorite people) and for his children and grandchildren. And I am already looking forward to breakfast in the Kingdom Come, when I hear again Dick's booming voice of praise, and am once again inspired by his never-dying passion for Jesus.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

3rd Sunday in Lent Year C

"Hey, all who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come! Buy and eat! Come! Buy wine and milk without money and without cost!

Why pay money for something that will not nourish you? Why spend your hard-earned money on something that will not satisfy? Listen carefully to me and eat what is nourishing! Enjoy fine food!

Pay attention and come to me! Listen, so you can live! Then I will make an unconditional covenantal promise to you, just like the reliable covenantal promises I made to David.

Look, I made him a witness to nations, a ruler and commander of nations.

Look, you will summon nations you did not previously know; nations that did not previously know you will run to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he bestows honor on you.

Seek the LORD while he makes himself available; call to him while he is nearby!

The wicked need to abandon their lifestyle and sinful people their plans. They should return to the LORD, and he will show mercy to them, and to their God, for he will freely forgive them.

Indeed, my plans are not like your plans, and my deeds are not like your deeds, for just as the sky is higher than the earth, so my deeds are superior to your deeds and my plans superior to your plans."
- Isaiah 55:1-9 (NET, adapt.)