Dr. Jeren Rowell, NTS board of trustees chair and Kansas City District Superintendent, reminds pastors of our chief role during a contentious election season.
Leadership, Holiness and Worship through the Lens of Confession Rev. Deanna Hayden reflects on the corporate spiritual practice of confession: an especially timely word during this penitential season of Lent.
In February 2013, Father Greg Boyle, who works for transformation and redemption among gang members in the LA area, told an interviewer that 'Now Here This' had become his new 'mantra' following a cancer diagnosis. The middle word of that 'mantra' (spelled here as opposed to hear) reminded him to be present in the moment whenever a kid walked into his office to talk or whenever a person was standing right in front of him.
Share your Scars There is a little boy in our church who has no filter. The first time I met him, he told me all about the “swear jar” that they have at home – and how he gets the money when his parents say bad words. I’m sure his parents would cringe if they knew everything he has shared, but I love his openness and honesty. What you see is what you get with this guy.
Desert Spirituality The Lord did not lead Israel out of slavery directly into the Promised Land. Instead, the Lord guided the newly liberated people around in the desert with a cloud by day and fire by night. John the Baptist did not go straight to prophesying, “Prepare the way of the Lord,”1 whenever he became of age but went and remained “in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.”2 After his baptism by John, Jesus did not go straight to Galilee to begin healing the sick, casting out demons, and declaring the good news of the Kingdom of God. On the contrary, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.”3 Even the great Apostle Paul did not immediately become a great missionary after Ananias laid his…
Full of Darkness and Hope: An Advent Reflection Luke 1: 46-56 John starts his Gospel by telling us that the “light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.” It seems to me that, in part, Advent represents a time in the church in which we reflect upon darkness. This, of course, rarely happens. Our American sensibilities are much too eager to dismiss the pain, grief, and hard work that come with naming the darkness. We would much rather equate the Advent season with shopping, decorating, Christmas parties, and attending charity events. This has been how we prepare for the coming light that dispels darkness, not by naming the darkness, but by ignoring it. Darkness, however, doesn’t retract through neglect. And there remain times when darkness is so pervasive that it can no longer be ignored. The end of 2015 feels like such a moment. We are…
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see…. My Dad turned 80 this past year. Although Dad definitely has a softer, more compassionate side, he tends to be a rather gruff and grouchy guy - and especially during the holidays. While the rest of my family likes all the gift giving, candy making, tree-decorating hubbub of this time of year, my Dad dreads it. Scrooge is not an inadequate word to describe him. To my Dad’s credit though, a part of the reason why he dreads Christmas is because he hates the excess and the consumerism. But more than that, Dad is not unaware of the great needs in our country and in our world. He often feels guilty when he receives all those gifts he doesn’t really need and when he eats far too much at…
The greatest leadership principle I was taught I learned when I was a teenager. At an event geared for teenagers called Jesus Northwest speakers and music groups challenged us into a deeper relationship with God. Speaker Becky Tirabassi challenged us to pray 10 minutes a day for the rest of our lives. From that moment my life has never been the same.I stood to my feet to acknowledge that was a commitment I wanted to make and have been faithful to and grown in that commitment over the last twenty-five years. That challenge to pray and stay in the Word was given again the night of my ordination by Dr. Larry McKain. I'll never forget what he whispered in my ear in a noisy room, "Those who stay close to God make it in ministry, those who don't, don't make it very long." What I know now having served as…
Give us this day our daily bread. -Matthew 6:11 I miss making bread. A few years ago my friend and mentor, Helen, took the time to teach me how to knead a lump of yeasty dough into a delicious, edible loaf. Helen made the dough from a starter that she’d been ‘feeding’ for decades (literally). Her kitchen was filled with the smell of yeast, dough and bread. Most days, you could spot a trace of flour on her counter-tops or there would be some other tell-tale sign that bread making was a central activity in this hearth and home. Helen’s bread never failed to delight me. The smell, coming fresh out of the oven, was euphoric, and the taste, even more delightful. Eating this slightly sweet, hearty bread was immensely satisfying and I never tired of making it or eating it. It became a part of me.
After about 10 years of marriage, Ben and I have discovered the benefit and enjoyment of sharing a lot of things. We share the parenting responsibilities of disciplining and playing and teaching and discipling, and each have our turn with the kids when the other is out of town for a few days. We share the cooking. We share the planning of vacations and date nights. The only thing I’ve found over the years I can’t share are my Snickers bars. I mean, really. There are just some things I need, you know? One of the things we share that we try to split down the middle is the house cleaning.
Except for a few short intervals, I have been teaching senior adult Sunday school classes for almost 50 years. Most of the students in those classes have been long time Nazarenes. As I reflect on that experience, I have a number of perceptions. One of the most positive is that these folk, by and large, are very appreciative of the attempt to lead them into a deeper knowledge of the scripture. Only a relatively few have had the privilege of formal study in theology and bible and thus have not been exposed to modern methods of biblical study or perspectives that are essential to biblical study with integrity. This poses one important challenge to the teacher.
Imagine with me that we are gathered together in church on a Sunday morning. The melodic sounds of the people singing together in worship are ending. As I look around, it is a beautiful sight. The people of God are bearing each other’s countless joys and many wounds. We may be singing, praying, lifting our hands in surrender or sitting in silence. We may be in awe of or wrestling with the One who is the Wounded Healer. Depending on the particular “brand” of church I am in, either the music stops or the piano plays in the background as the scripture is read. The people of God join their voice in unison with either a hearty “Amen” or a mellow “Thanks be to God.” As I stand up and begin to walk to the pulpit, the sanctuary becomes silent. All I can hear is the sound of my “good…
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