23 June 2008

The Big 3-0!

I have officially entered my fourth decade of existence! I celebrated the ending of my 20s and the beginning of my 30s yesterday with a delicious steak from Texas Roadhouse and a piece of four-layer chocolate/chocolate cake from Margie's.

Thank you to all of you who sent cards and/or gifts. I thank you for not stocking our cupboards with Geritol or Fibercon as well.

I pray that my 30s bring me closer to my family, closer to my Lord, and further along in my ministry in the name of Jesus Christ.


Prayer Request

Please pray for Custer Road UMC in Plano. There was a terrible car accident on Sunday involving a family that was greatly connected to the ministry of that church.

Please pray for the clergy and staff as they handle many calls, visits, and questions about processing the grief that the congregation will undoubtedly express over the next few weeks - and even months.

Please pray for Rev. Ron Henderson, senior pastor at CRUMC, as he leads the congregation through this time of trial.

Please pray for my friend, Rev. Leslie Herrscher, associate pastor at CRUMC, as the day of this accident was her first Sunday at Custer Road.

Please pray for the friends and family of the Hart family.

Please pray for the driver of the car who hit the Hart family and survived the wreck.

Please pray.

06 June 2008

Good Stuff From a "Noble" Man

I think I just found inspiration for my first few staff meetings here and here. Read them both - you won't regret it! And be sure to read the scripture he references too!

Thanks Perry!

05 June 2008

Three Simple Rules, Part 3

And the last General Rule is "stay in love with God" or as Wesley originally put it, "attend upon all the ordinances of God..."

This is the rule that holds everything together. This is the rule that needs to be maintained most diligently if rule one and rule two are to have any chance of making a difference in your life. This is the rule that challenges us to use spiritual disciplines on a daily, weekly, monthly, AND yearly basis.

Wesley taught that the "ordinances of God" were: public worship of God, the Lord's Supper, private and family prayer, searching the Scriptures, Bible study, and fasting. The list doesn't seem that long or difficult, but how many times have you intentionally fasted in the past year? I know I can only think of one time that I have fasted in the past 12 months.

Public worship of God - I'll admit that this in my lifeblood. I love to worship. I love being in worship. I love singing. I love preaching. I love watching God move in the congregation. And I am sad when churches have worship services that are listless and boring, because I want God to be honored by his children, not bored.

Lord's Supper (Communion) - At Trietsch I had the opportunity to take Communion once a week during the early service and once a month at the other services. I also gained new insight into this sacrament after teaching the Communion Class that Trietsch put together.

Private and Family Prayer - This is a staple in our house. We pray before every meal and snack and before Caitlyn goes to bed. I pray for Debbie each day and she returns the favor. Our prayer times are special and sacred moments for us as a family.

Searching the Scriptures - My morning routine usually includes readings from both the Old and New Testaments, with a Psalm or Proverb mixed in. I use a reading program that will guide me twice thru the NT and once thru the OT every year.

Bible Study - I love to teach Bible studies, so this is something I am very passionate about. I wish I could spend more time teaching the Bible, but now that I am a Senior Pastor, I will need to allow others that high privilege.

Fasting - I am not very good at fasting (I think it has something to do with my love for food, but who knows!). It takes intentional effort on my part to fast. I need to incorporate this discipline into my yearly routine on a larger scale.

I hope you have enjoyed this quick journey through Three Simple Rules!

What spiritual disciplines give you the most energy? What disciplines take the most effort for you to keep?

04 June 2008

Three Simple Rules, Part 2

Yesterday I talked about the first General Rule of the United Methodist Church, so today I want to reflect on the second - "do good."

More completely, the second General Rule says, "...by doing good; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity; doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all...." (Book of Discipline, para. 103)

It seems to me that this second rule would be even harder to keep than the first. It is one thing to consciously avoid harming someone, it is quite another to continuously be on the lookout for ways to do good for others.

For me, the most surprising thing about this second rule is that the "good" that Wesley is talking about doing is not necessarily a good thing for me individually. Luke 6:27-28 comes to mind when I think about pursuing what is good for others above what may be good for me. How many times (a day) are we told by the world that we have to look out for ourselves? How many times (a day) do we take that advice to the detriment of the ones we love? or the ones we'll never meet?

The words of Jesus and of Wesley suggest that doing good is a universal command.
This is, doing good is not limited to those like me or those who like me. Doing
good is directed at everyone, even those who do not fit my category of "worthy"
to receive any good that I or others can direct their way. This command is also
universal in that no one is exempt from it. (37)

Again, Job calls doing good "proactive living" in the face of a reactive culture and world. Doing good is more than responding to the cries of the world - it is actively seeking out opportunities to be in service to the world.

What about self? What about doing good for yourself? Job calls it "healthy self-denial," but I'll let you read the book to find out more about that! Tomorrow: the third General Rule!

03 June 2008

Three Simple Rules

Today I will finish Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living by Ruben P. Job and I have to highly recommend this book to anyone who is of the "Wesleyan persuasion" in their thinking or theology.

Job does a great job of unpacking each of Wesley's General Rules (Book of Discipline para. 103) and helping a new audience understand the impact that living to 1) do no harm, 2) do good, and 3) stay in love with God, can have on the world.

The first General Rule says, "...by doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced." What would our world look like if we all took the time to consider the possible harmful impact our actions might have on others before we acted? How much pain, misery and suffering might we avoid by choosing to think of others before ourselves? How much more like Christ would we be?

"Doing no harm" does not just involve intentional harm that we inflict on each other, but the unintentional harm as well - the careless word choice, the unprovoked outburst, or the thoughtless non-verbal dismissal.
What would it mean if we took this first simple rule seriously? First of all, it would mean an examination of the way we live and practice our faith....To do no harm is a proactive response to all that is evil - all that is damaging and destructive to humankind and God's good creation, and therefore, ultimately destructive to us. (30)

Obviously there are tons of applications wrapped up in these three words - "do no harm," but if we sought to live under this rule, would it truly draw us closer to Christ? What implications are put on our life if we choose to embrace this rule?

02 June 2008

Saying Goodbye

Today the full-time pastoral and program staff headed to Lake Texoma for Day One of the Staff Retreat. And I didn't go with them. I have cleared out my office, said my goodbyes, and set my eyes upon the ministry of University UMC in Wichita Falls.

I am sad not to be with my friends on the Trietsch staff, but I knew this day was coming. Still, that doesn't make it any easier to not be with my friends right now.

As I reflect on my time as a member of the Trietsch family, I am brought to tears thinking about all the great things the church is doing in the name of Christ. I can hardly wait to read about the VBS team welcoming 1,000 kids to this year's sessions or the 7,000+ meals that will be distributed this summer by Kids Eat Free. I am proud to have my name associated with such a great church and I will truly miss worshiping, serving, and being part of the action there.

Godspeed to all of you! I will be praying for you!