Protected: My Concerns About the Wesleyan Covenant Assocation

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Protected: Why I Joined the Wesley Covenant Association

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Colin Kaepernick and the Future of Freedom

Because I’m far and few between in actually writing post, you likely are well aware of the protest by Colin Kaepernick (and other athletes) during the National Anthem and the backlash it has created. It certainly brings up a lot of strong emotions. Kaepernick, in his own words explains why he is protesting,

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”( 8/28/16)

Kaepernick is protesting the injustices that the African-American and Latino communities face. These injustices have only been exacerbated by several high profile shootings during 2016, most recently the shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, OK. It should be noted that Kaepernick is not refusing to support our military men and woman; nor is he saying that America is a terrible place- he is speaking out against  the systemic racism that is prevalent (and has been prevalent) in our nation.

Because of our 1st Amendment rights, Kaepernick has the right to say what he wants and to protest what he wants to protest. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. But it troubles me when I hear discussion about how he should be “shipped out of the country” or he “doesn’t deserve to live here” because those expressions are a denial of our 1st Amendment rights to free speech. Do I think Kaepernick could protest in a better way- certainly, but I won’t criticized his decision to stand up and say what he believes.

This is where the church comes in. What happens when we move away from our freedoms grounded in the Constitution and our Amendments? Suppose we mandate all citizens honor the flag/country/constitution/etc. and take away someone’s free speech. How much longer will it be before we begin to lose our freedom of religion and require all those who do not conform to the norm to be “shipped out?” By protecting the free speech of everyone, including those we disagree with, protects everyone and gives us the freedom to speak out against injustice and the abuse of power when we see it. By protecting the freedom of religion of all people protects everyone who practices religion in our country.

Your turn: Is our flag/anthem more important than the freedoms our Constitution provides? If we prevent people from free speech aren’t we putting all of our freedoms in jeopardy? (Comments that are not inclined to dialogue and civility will be deleted.)

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What’s In a Name?


As a United Methodist pastor, I currently serve two churches. I am beginning my 7th year at Hope Church and my 2nd year at Magnolia Church. This past June, the leadership of our churches took a risk and agreed to start worshipping together in Magnolia (about 8 miles south of Hope’s previous location). There are a lot of reasons that led us to this point (including a lot of Holy Spirit guidance!), but ultimately we believe that we can be better together in worship, discipleship, and outreach that we could be apart. We are working towards a church merger that would birth a new church all together.

Our leaders have been meeting diligently all summer to work towards this end. One of our discussions is on the value of a good name. Looking at our churches, landing on a name that communicates our vision and invites people to learn more about our church may be the largest hurdle we face. But names are very important and should the focus of some great conversation.

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1

“Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you! Song of Songs 1:3

Just from these two passages we see that a good name and a good reputation is very valuable. It takes a lifetime to build a name, and a minute to destroy it.

That has never been more clear than the Ryan Lochte saga at the 2016 Olympics when it was exposed that he lied about being held up and robbed at gun point. Lochte is a twelve time medalist in the Olympics with endorsement deals from four companies. In one night Lochte’s reputation changed. Now, rather than describing Lochte as a multi-medal winning athlete, we are tempted to think of him in regards to his untrue story and the saga it created.

As we consider the identity of the church that is being birthed in Magnolia, we are reminded that our identity is grounded in the name of Jesus. In Jesus we are no longer slaves, but sons and daughters of the King. We are to live, as Paul reminds us, “Whatever your do, whether in word or dead, do it in the name of God…”


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When Everything Goes Wrong

It was one of those mornings yesterday. And by yesterday, I mean Sunday morning which, as a pastor, is a big day. In short, it seemed like everything that could go wrong could.

  • I left my church keys at home and didn’t realize it until I got to church- meaning I had to drive home and then back to church.
  • The AC wasn’t working in our nursery. It was a balmy 81 degrees in there.
  • Our mp3 recorder (for recording service) mysteriously didn’t work after working perfect last week.
  • One hour before worship, I realized that I deleted our entire cloud-based projection files-leaving no time to recreate them before worship.
  • My wireless mic battery died just as worship began
  • Of course, all of this just put me in a frustrated mood.

Now, on the grand scheme of things, none of these things impacted the morning beyond me. It was another lesson that even when things go wrong (or not as we intend) that God is still God. God is still faithful. God is still at work.

During worship I saw our church rally around our mission team in prayer; passion for orphan-care; and celebrated the return of one of our members from a six month deployment.

I am thankful for the many ways that God continues to work even in, what I think are, less than desirable circumstances. Even when everything seems to go wrong, God is still at work. I can’t wait to see what God does this week!

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Praying The Scriptures: Colossians

Family Praying

One of the best ways that we can pray is to pray the Scriptures. After all, they are the Word of God. We can pray these truths in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. In particular, I think it’s important to pray the promises of scripture over our children. I am teaching through the book of Colossians. It’s actually a letter from Paul to the church at Colossae- and it contains the typical components of an ancient letter. One of those components is a prayer in 1:9-14. Paul prays:

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

How do we pray this over someone- especially our children?

Almighty God,

Fill your child with the knowledge of your will through the gift of your Spirit. May this knowledge lead (child’s name) to live a life completely committed and pleasing to you. May his/her life and faith bear fruit every day as they grow in their knowledge of you and as they are strengthened to endure every attack the enemy might engage in. Fill (child’s name) with joyful thanksgiving as we remember that you have rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of Light, the Kingdom of your Son in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of our sins. We pray these things in the name of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Being Reconciled

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:16-21, NIV)


When I would read this passage I would often center in on the word ambassador. For me, an ambassador was someone who represented a country and it’s government in a foreign land. As Christians, we are called to be ambassadors of Christ and our message and our mission is reconciliation. We are called to engage the world and implore it to be reconciled to Christ and to one another. Again, for me, this took on the tone of me speaking.

While I still believe in my understanding of an ambassador and that an ambassador takes time to engage in the ministry of reconciliation by speaking- I have come to see that the primary role of the ambassador, and thus a Christian, is listening. An ambassador to a nation has to study the customs, and the habits in order to know where the ministry of reconciliation intersects the culture. An ambassador is a student of the culture. I believe a good ambassador knows the story of the people he/she has been sent to because they have listened well and taken the time to walk with the people they have been sent to. Knowing the stories of our community draws us deeper into relationships and further along in the process of reconciliation.

If we are to engage in the ministry of reconciliation as Christ’s ambassadors, then we must become engaged listeners of the stories of those we are sent to.

In our 24 hour news twitter-verse we (and our congregants) are more apt to shout out our beliefs rather than sitting across from one another listening to each other’s stories over coffee. I believe that sitting across from one another knee-to-knee and listening ultimately leads us to stand shoulder-to-shoulder doing the work of the kingdom: Reconciliation.

The community I grew up in did not have a lot of racial diversity. I heard every kind of slur and, regretfully, I used every kind of slur in arguments and on the playgrounds. My perception of people who were different than me were based on caricatures and stereotypes. Because of this, I was/am broken and sinful in my views of the other. I began to experience reconciliation through various people in my life who loved me, got to know me and allowed me to get to know them, and rather than the caricature I was able to see the unique, made-in-God’s-image individuals that we all are.

I am grateful for the people in my life who have invited me into their story given me the opportunity to listen and understand.  I am honored by the role we have as clergy to listen to those who are searching for God and to invite them to be reconciled as we are given permission to enter their lives. If we hope to experience reconciliation in our communities then we must learn to listen to one another’s stories and experiences in order to seek understanding.

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