United Methodists: It is Time to Stop and Pray.

The battle over sexuality rages with new energy. The Just Resolution decision instead of a trial for Rev. Olgetree (this 80 year old retired clergy presided at the same-sex wedding for his son, and fellow clergy filed charges against him) has ignited a firestorm of separatist talk, exposing more fully the deep divisions among us. IT IS TIME TO STOP. It is time to stop and pray the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples when they asked him, “teach us to pray.” IT IS TIME . . . To stop and acknowledge that only God is holy. To stop and ask, with…

The Freshness and Fragrance of the Gospel: Pope Francis and the UMC

In an interview published today, Pope Francis said the church should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings. Yes, he sounds very much like Jesus. I wonder how long he’ll last as Pope. I’d like to think a long time. But I doubt it. And it would be nice if the leaders of The United Methodist Church could also figure this out. Another quote from the interview:  “We have to find a new balance,” the pope continued, “otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall…

Four Months, Fourteen Days

On December 31, 2013, I will say “good-bye” to a life and work I have simply loved.  That day will be my last day to serve as Senior Pastor at Krum First UMC, and my last day as an Elder in active service in The United Methodist Church.  The next day, I officially take on the status of “Retired.” I can carefully describe the methodical reasoning and name the logical steps I took to reach the decision to retire.  I can even sum them up in one sentence:  it is the best decision for me personally and for the church I serve and love.…

A Time to Feast and a Time to Fast

If every day were Christmas, we’d be miserable.  We’d be stuffed, bored, broke and fractious.  Irritations would win the day and gloom and unfulfilled expectations would slather everyone with despondency. Adults would desperately turn to TV, youth and teens to video games, as a way to disconnect from person-to-person contact.  Children, surrounded by piles of overly-stimulating toys, would resort to whining, “Is that all there is?” as a way to remove themselves from their mental and emotional chaos. Christmas is special because it comes just once a year. But no one can stay in a fever pitch of excitement for long. Instead,…

From Barren to Baby, Hope After Tragedy

As did many clergy, I faced a dilemma with this Sunday’s message after the events of Friday’s massacre of children. For Advent this year, I had decided to do a series I called “From Barren to Baby” and speak of some of Jesus’ ancestors, particularly those whose stories started with the barren woman scenario.  I learned long ago that when a passage in the Bible begins to speak of a woman unable to have children, it is code for, “Pay attention!!!  Something important is about to happen!” So, we’ve looked at the Abraham-Sarah-Hagar saga and then at the very strange story of…

On Earth As It Is In Heaven, Initial Reflections on “Everything Must Change” Clergy Retreat

I read this New York Times Magazine article with fascination, drawn into the beauty of the life of people on a Greek island.  The writer has been seeking to find the key to their extraordinarily long lives. Their food is simple, homegrown, primarily vegetarian, and herbal teas and homemade wines are consumed daily.  Exercise is just a normal part of life, and everyone gets plenty of sleep.  However, the researcher affirmed the impossibility of just importing their food, sleep and exercise habits as a solution to the diseases of civilization that plague us in more developed countries.  He writes, As soon as…

Ten Commandments for the Political Season

I can’t get through this week without commenting on the political campaigns. Two weeks, two National Conventions, and the airways spew impossible promises, nastiness, low blows and the usual mud-slinging.  Yet both parties claim to be full of decent human beings and aiming for the most upright of principles. Ten things I find useful to keep in mind.  Perhaps they will help others. 1. The President is NOT the Messiah or the Savior.  He (and perhaps someday, she) is and always will be an ordinary mortal with human limitations.  The President has minimal power to actually fix anything. Effective change in a…

Dead Soil Produces Dead Souls: Thoughts on the Toxic Church

I hear the word “toxic” bandied about all the time, both applied to people and to churches.  The word means poisonous, of course.  Poison is “a substance with an inherent property that tends to destroy life or impair health” (from dictionary.com).  So if we are in a “toxic” relationship or toxic church, we are in a situation that promotes the opposite of what most of us want to experience, which is life and health. Not too long ago, this question popped up in an online discussion board primarily for United Methodist clergy: “Why do so many conferences allow problem churches to continue…

Biblical Ignorance and the Delegates to General Conference

I have been reading blog after blog about what is happening at General Conference, taking particular interest in the ones that supported the now dead legislation that would taking language out of the Book of Discipline that condemns homosexual practices. I have numerous thoughts here. The thing that hits me the hardest here is the utter biblical ignorance that is being expressed by those who oppose the full inclusion of our GLBT brothers and sisters into the life of the church. They pick up a few verses from Scripture and use them to condemn or go with that disgusting “Hate the sin,…

The “Do-Over”

I was recently reading some material about learning to face the things that scare us the most while being reminded again of how difficult real life-change is. We stay stuck in destructive habits and relationships, soul-draining jobs, and unhealthy bodies. We live enlarging our separation from the Holy One because facing the pain of change so frightens us that we choose to stay stuck. The author of the work I was reading also suggested strongly that unless we are scarred by life, we have never really lived. We offer more when scarred, beat up, missing a limb or two, full of memories…