About Me

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Storms and Summons

I haven't preached in a while at church, but am in the midst of preaching three straight weeks before I head to Duke for some continuing education. Right now I'm working on the lectionary text for this week, which is Jesus walking on water and Peter doing it for a little while.

I'm not quite sure where I'm headed yet for Sunday, but a strong possibility is that Jesus summons us, encouraging us for service in the kingdom by seeing possibilities in us that most people don't. It seems to me that in the history of Jesus' relationship with Peter is a constant calling, both a constant affirming of Peter's potential for leadership and a calling to risk-taking leadership that Peter, even the bold Peter, could never come up with on his own.

Reflecting on this text reminds me to be grateful for the many people in my life who did that for me - who both saw gifts in me that I didn't in myself and who challenged me to walk towards Jesus even when I wasn't quite sure the way or what the results would be. I also hope that I have done that for some people that I have come to know.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Return - With a Culinary Gift

It's been too long, so I thought I would at least bring a gift with a return to the blog. We are currently staying at a friend's condo at the lake while our house recovers from flooding, so perhaps inspired by the lake views and the life without lawn maintenance, I chose to bake some catfish. I found a recipe off the web and went to work. It was so simple and so good that even I can make it and will again.

First, procure catfish.

Next combine vegetable oil, garlic salt, dried thyme, and paprika in a bowl and then place it on the fish. (For a spicier version you can add cayenne pepper and hot pepper sauce.)

Then put the fish into the oven and bake for 10-13 minutes at 450 degrees. Finally, add some vegetables and bread to look like a champion husband.

The Ingredients:
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons garlic salt
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 8 oz catfish fillets

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Saturday Afternoon Special

I once won a preaching award, not so much because of my own skill, but because a friend of mine nominated me for it.

I take preaching very seriously. I think it is critical, as a former mentor said, the best hearing the church gets is on Sunday morning. Before I was a pastor, I was one of those people who would tell you that if the sermon wasn't any good, then church wasn't any good. I know, it's petty, it's an unfortunate characteristic of the 21st Century Consumer Culture, but it is, what it is. The sermon matters.

And because I believe that the sermon matters, a large part of my week is spent preparing for my sermon. Now, of course I do pastoral care, and I teach Bible study, and I pray and I visit and I do all those things, but I do believe that a large part of my job is in my sermon preparation and execution.

And then there is Holy Week. As Debbie wrote, it only became Holy Week after the Resurrection, and most of the time it is not particularly fun for pastors, particularly those in small churches without much help. There is Holy Thursday, and there is Good Friday, and then there is getting ready for Sunday, two services for us and most people I think. And to top off my first Holy Week in Greystone, we lost a saint on Sunday, and so Monday night I was preaching a funeral and Tuesday morning assisting at a graveside.

Because of my poor planning, and the other things that came up, I have yet to write my Easter sermon. It's Saturday morning and I'm just beginning. I have my ideas. So, Mary Magdalene and I are doing the same thing - working and watching, waiting and hoping. She will receive the risen Lord. I'm hoping my congregation will receive a sermon worthy of such an event.

Come Holy Spirit.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Parable of Common Sense

Further proof that David Brooks is one of the most astute observers of our society.

As a pastor, what he describes about the government rings way too true in our houses of worship.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


It's been quite a bit stressful over here of late. The wife-to-be has been out of work and is having to job hunt in the worst economy of our lives without really being able to know where to focus the hunt. We are trying to sell a Decatur condo in the midst of a housing recession, and of course, like all UMCers under appointment, are waiting on pins and needles to see if we are staying or going while also trying to explain increases in health and pension costs to our churches, who live in a county facing 15-20 percent unemployment.

So, in the midst of all this, I took half a day off Monday and went to Johnson City to get my haircut. This might surprise some of you, but I really haven't been able to replace my Salon Red cut easily in the land of the farm. So, I went to the mall to get the cut and started talking to the young hairdresser. She was telling me about her boyfriend, all of 19, who she had been dating for six months. For four of the six months he has been serving in Afghanistan and recently told his girlfriend that he wanted to make a career of it in the military. Awesome.

It turns out my problems aren't so bad.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It Finally Happened

I've been making my way through some form of ministry with people (monks, students, religious professionals, country church folk)for the better part of two years now. I had been able to put it off for this long, but finally I decided to dive back in - not to the blog, but to theological reading.

For the better part of two years now I have done my best to really avoid the theological reading. I have read some of the Spiritual classics, I've read some for a seminary class I helped with last year and some for the commissioning papers (although to be honest, my brain has been joined with the spirit of Wesley's for some time now). But for the most part I have stuck to history, fiction and useless blogs and facebook (Best reading in this realm: Run by Ann Patchett, Juliet Naked, Nick Hornby's new one, and of course, David McCullough's 1776.)

But the other day I decided it was time to dig in. When you are tillin' souls out here in the country, you don't have a whole lot of time for theological reflection. You are running from the hospital to some old lady's house, from Bible Study preparation to District meetings, and sometimes all you can manage is a quick breath before you try to remember what who you are going to say and what particular need or ailment brought you here.

And as I have been trying to not set the church ablaze for a few months now, I have noticed that I need some helping thinking about just what I am doing and how I am supposed to go about doing it. Out here on the edge of the district, I don't run into a bunch of budding theologians. I talk to friends and mentors on the phone and try to make the best of it, but I also came to realize that I needed to start relying again on the wisdom of the saints who have gone before - you know, to help me focus how I am spending my time so I can try somehow in the midst of all this mess of counting people in the seats and surviving charge conference to proclaim and live into the kingdom.

I'm a little far away from Sister Cassell and Candace, Joshua and Parker, Penniman and the Methodist Trinity, Pugh and Sister Beth and the rest of my crew, so I decided, with the help of the Cokesbury gift card, to begin some conversations again.

I was a little bit like an addict returning to the bar, but I went to work, efficiently and with a 30 percent discount. So, I started with Barbara Brown Taylor and then went to Wally B, I booked a table with Richard Foster and dessert with Dallas Willard. Niebuhr and I will sit down for coffee, H. Richard, not Reinhold, of course, and I'll probably try to dive back into God's Ambassadors, to remember how we've done this thing for so long and remember how much fun reading E. Brooks was back in the day.

So, I'll let you know how it goes. But for now, here's my dance card for the next couple of weeks.

An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor
The Word that Redescribes the World, Walter Brueggemann
Longing for God, Richard Foster and Gayle Beebe
The Responsibility of the Church for Society, H. Richard Niebuhr
Knowing Christ Today, Dallas Willard

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

And it's four months

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead.