Saturday, July 17, 2021

Celebrating Twenty-Five Years in Holy Orders

 At the recent District Assembly of the Southwest Indiana District, in Bedford, Indiana, Bishop David Graves ordained seven elders.  Twenty-five years ago (July 17, 1996) our District Assembly was held in Evansville, Indiana.  There were some differences between the two Assemblies, for sure:  location, the length of the Assembly, full participation of the elders in the laying on of hands (this year, we are still taking some COVID cautions), and the presiding bishop (general superintendent) for that Assembly was

The Rev'd. Dr. James Diehl
Dr. James Diehl.  Another difference was that during that assembly, I was one of the candidates who knelt at the altar rail while hands were laid on me as I was ordained an elder (presbyter/priest) in the Church of God according to the Church of the Nazarene.

I was thankful that I was able to attend this year’s Assembly.  For one thing, it was just good to get together with sisters and brothers from across the district.  The sermons from Dr. Graves and the report from my district superintendent, Dr. Timothy Crump, were fantastic!  -  But, of course, I couldn’t help but reflect upon my own ordination twenty-five years earlier.

There were some familiar things that took place during that service.  Per tradition, we sang Holiness Unto the Lord as the ordinands processed in.  (I love that hymn!)  Then there was the charge given to those who would be ordained.  It was the very same charge that Dr. Diehl gave us. Of course, back then, it was pronounced over each individual as they were being ordained.  It seems that in recent years, the general superintendents have pronounced it once over all of the candidates together, prior to the individual acts of ordination.

The charge is based upon the charge that Paul gave to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4.  It has been interesting, as I have looked up videos of ordination services from other denominations, how many give a similar charge or read this passage of Scripture.  -  The charge given to us goes like this: “I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ: preach the Word; watch, thou, in all things; endure afflictions; do the work on an evangelist; make full proof of thy ministry; take, thou, authority to administer the sacraments; and take, thou, responsibility in the Church of Jesus Christ” 

Every time that charge is repeated, it is renewed in the lives of those who have been ordained.  That has been the case at this year’s Assembly, as well.

I am thankful for the calling that God has placed upon my life and for the opportunity to serve in ordained ministry over these last twenty-five years.  Over those years I have had the privilege of serving as pastor to five churches: Greencastle Church of the Nazarene (where I was serving when I was ordained), Grace Church of the Nazarene (Evansville), Centenary United Methodist Church (New Albany), Heartland Church of the Nazarene (Floyds Knobs), and Main Street United Methodist Church (New Albany), where I currently serve.  -  I am thankful for the good people of God in all of these congregations; for their love and grace toward me and my family.

 I find myself, over the course of the last couple of years, being in a state of transition.  I serve the Main Street Church in a part-time situation.  And, I am thankful for the opportunity to teach at Wesley Seminary as an adjunct faculty member, as well.  However, I am seeking God’s direction for the future.  As my wife, Bobbie, says, we are in a place of waiting on the Lord.  -  In that regard, it was very good to listen, once again, the sermon Dr. Diehl preached during my ordination.  -  It was a powerful service.

Twenty-five years is a long time (as I watched the video, many of us had hair back then, and it was dark, too!), but, as long as it has been, God’s calling has not come to an end, yet.  It is my desire to be faithful in ministry to the end . . . to the glory of God!   -  For the last few years, I have looked at the possibility of planting a church.  Perhaps, that is what God is leading me to at this time.  -  Time will tell!  In whatever the future may hold in terms of ministry, may God receive all glory and honor and praise! 

Thank you, Lord, for your call into Christian ministry and for my ordination twenty-five years ago!  Thank you for giving me a wonderful wife who has been a faithful ministry partner!  Thank you that you have promised to be with us to the end!  In all things, may God be glorified!

(Yeah, I know, what a difference twenty-five years makes!)

Saturday, June 26, 2021

A Celebration of Grace

 I am so thankful for the episcopal leadership of the Church of the Nazarene and for our global denomination!

In case you missed the global service "A Celebration of Grace," you can join in with the video, below.  In the service, you will hear from each of our bishops as they talk about our journey of grace, and you will hear music performed from around the world.

Thank you, Board of General Superintendents!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

A Prayer To Be Prayed By Those in the Wesleyan Tradition

 Here is my most recent YouTube video.  It introduces a prayer that I think is a great prayer for anyone in the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition to pray.  I would especially encourage those who are a part of the Wesleyan-Anglican Society to take this prayer up during the Daily Office.

Almighty God, in a time of great need you raised up your servants John and Charles Wesley, and by your Spirit inspired them to kindle a flame of sacred love which leaped and ran, an inextinguishable blaze.  Grant, we ask you, that all those whose hearts have been warmed at these altar fires, being continually refreshed by your grace, may be so devoted to the increase of scriptural holiness throughout the land that in this our time of great need, your will may fully and effectively be done on earth as it is in heave; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

(My YouTube channel can be found, here.)

"Color: God's Intention for Diversity"

Below is a video of a really good conversation about race.  It is a conversation between the Rev'd. Dr. Daniel Gomis, Director of the African Region of the Church of the Nazarene, and the Rev'd. Dr. Carla Sunberg, General Superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.  It is moderated by Rev'd. Stuart Williams.  The conversation is a preview of the upcoming book, "Color: God's Intention for Diversity," co-authored by Dr. Gomis and Bishop Sunberg.

Not only is race and racism a huge issue in our American setting, but so too is the promotion of a proposed solution known as Critical Race Theory.  Many in the academy and leadership within the Church have embraced (uncritically?) Critical Race Theory.  Others have completely rejected CRT as being antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  So, I was looking forward to listening to this conversation to hear if one of our episcopal leaders would be taking up the CRT banner or not.  What I heard was refreshing and gospel centric.

I have already pre-ordered the book, and I am looking forward to getting it when it is available.  -  You can order the book, here.

Thank you, Bishop Sunberg and Dr. Gomis!

Friday, May 28, 2021

Experiential Joy of Knowing Christ

 Here is one of the Wesley hymns that I sang during Morning Payer.  It expresses the experiential joy of knowing Christ by grace through faith.

O How Happy Are They

O how happy are they
Who the Saviour obey,
And have laid up their treasure above!
Tongue can never express
The sweet comfort and peace
Of a soul in its earliest love.

That sweet comfort was mine,
When the favor divine
I first found in the blood of the Lamb;
When my heart first believed,
What a joy I received, 
What a heaven in Jesus' Name!

'Twas a heaven below
My Redeemer to know,
And the angels could do nothing more,
Than to fall at His feet,
And the story repeat,
And the Love of sinners adore.

Jesus all the day long
Was my joy and my song:
O that all His salvation might see!
"He hath loved me," I cried,
"He hath suffered and died,
To redeem a poor rebel like me."

O the rapturous height
Of that holy delight
Which I felt in the life-giving blood!
By my Saviour possessed,
I was perfectly blest,
As if filled with the fullness of God.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Aldersgate Day

 Today is the day that all good Wesleyans/Methodists celebrate! Today is Aldersgate Day! Now, it may be that a few of the readers of this blog may be unfamiliar with Aldersgate. And, of course, it is a strange name, thus, it is not easy to discern what it is about. So, what is Aldersgate Day?

In a nutshell, it is the anniversary of John Wesley's "Evangelical Conversion." As the United Methodist Book of Worship puts it, "On Wednesday, May 24, 1738, John Wesley experienced his 'heart strangely warmed.' This Aldersgate experience was crucial for his own life and became a touchstone for the Wesleyan movement."

Aldersgate Memorial in London
So, why is it called "Aldersgate"? Well, the name refers to Aldersgate Street, the location of the Society meeting where Wesley experienced his strangely warmed heart.

Prior to this Aldersgate experience, Wesley had sought assurance of his sins forgiven, but he was unable to obtain it through his many pious works.

During his trip to Georgia, where he would serve as a missionary, the ship on which he was sailing encountered a terrible storm . . . right in the middle of their time of worship. But the thing that caught Wesley’s attention was that, while the English on board were screaming for fear of their lives, the Germans simply continued singing.

Wesley asked one of them, “Weren’t you afraid? Weren’t your women and children afraid?” The man simply said, “Thank the Lord, we were not afraid; we are not afraid to die.”

Later, Wesley met with one of the German pastors for advice. The pastor asked him, “Do you have the witness within? Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?” Wesley was caught off guard (not something that happened very often). And so the pastor asked, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” Wesley said, “I know he is the Savior of the world.” The pastor replied, “That’s true, but do you know he has saved you?” Wesley said, “I hope he has died to save me.” “But do you know?” And then comes those powerful lines from John Wesley, “I said, ‘I do.’ But I fear they were vain words.”

This marker is located at the probable
site of Wesley's Aldersgate experience
However, what was to happen to Wesley on May 24, 1738 would forever change his answer, and forever change the world.

John Wesley, himself, describes what took place that evening in his journal as follows: "In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."

Another marker in memorial of John & Charles'
"Evangelic Conversions"
Wesleyan/Methodists remember and observe Aldersgate Day, because it not only shaped the life and ministry of John Wesley, but also the entire Methodist movement from that time until today. It not only marks the spiritual experience of Mr. Wesley, but it calls us to worship the God who still "strangely warms the hearts" of all who place their trust in Christ alone as Lord and Savior. This experience illustrates so well the Biblical doctrine of Assurance.

We can, by grace through faith, know our sins forgiven. We can, by grace through faith, have an assurance that Christ has "taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." As the apostle Paul says, "For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, 'Abba! Father!' it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God . . ." (Romans 8:15-16, NRSV). - Praise be to God!!

Let us pray: Almighty God, in a time of great need you raised up your servants John and Charles Wesley, and by your spirit inspired them to kindle a flame of sacred love which leaped and ran, an inextinguishable blaze. Grant that all those whose hearts have been warmed at these altar fires, being continually refreshed by your grace, may be so devoted to the increase of scriptural holiness throughout the land that in this our time of great need, your will may fully and effectively be done on earth as it is in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

(Prayer by Fred D. Gealy, as printed in the UMBW.)

(The pictures in this post were taken during my trip to England for the 2001 World Methodist Conference.)

*This post was copied from a previous post

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

An Interview with Bishop Filimao Chambo

 Below is a video of an interview with one of the bishops of the Church of the Nazarene.  The Rev'd. Dr. Filimao Chambo was born in Mozambique.  He was elected to the office of general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene in June 2017.  He was director of the Africa Region at the time of his election, a post he had held since 2009.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Worship at Main Street UMC on Easter Sunday

 Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Join us for this Easter Sunday service of worship.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Evening Prayer on Good Friday

Join me in Evening Prayer on this Good Friday.  The prayer service can be downloaded here.

An Episcopal Message of Hope for Easter

 Here is an Easter message (I know, a little bit early!) from the bishops of the Church of the Nazarene.

An Easter Message from the Board of General Superintendents from Church of the Nazarene on Vimeo.

In the Pursuit of Holiness

 Today is Good Friday.  As with each Friday (and Wednesday), it is a day when, in addition to the Daily Office, I pray The Litany from the Book of Common Prayer.  During this prayer time, there was a line in the prayer, just prior to the concluding prayer, that stood out to me.  Actually, it often stands out to me, but today it stood out in a particular way.

The prayer asks that the Father would grant that we may ". . . evermore serve thee in holiness and pureness of living . . ."  (I am using Wesley's version, thus the "thee.")  This brought to my mind Hebrews 12:14, which says (in the NRSV) "Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord."  The words that stood out in the verse for me, as I prayed were pursue and holiness.  

This, too, reminded me of Philippians 3:12-14:

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

What stood out for me in this verse was the idea of straining forward and press[ing] on toward the goal.

All of this reminded me of something that a friend and colleague, Rev'd. Jared Henry, once said.  (Paraphrasing) he said that there is a world of difference between the person who tries to avoid sin and the person who is pursuing holiness.

I want to be one who pursues holiness and evermore serves the Lord in holiness and pureness of living, to the honor and glory of our God!  -  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

Two Hymns & Three Prayers for Good Friday

 As we observe the sacrifice and crucifixion of our Lord in order to take away our sin and redeem us, I commend the following two Wesley hymns followed by the prayers for Good Friday from the Book of Common Prayer.

Would Jesus Have the Sinner Die?
Would Jesus have the sinner die?
Why hangs He then on yonder tree?
What means that strange, expiring cry?
Sinners, He prays for you and me:
"Forgive them, Father, O forgive!
They know not that by Me they live!"
Adam descended from above
Our loss of Eden to retrieve,
Great God of universal love,
If all the world through Thee may live,
In us a quick'ning Spirit be,
And witness Thou hast died for me.
Thou loving, all-atoning Lamb,
Thee - by Thy painful agony,
Thy sweat of blood, Thy grief and shame,
Thy Cross and passion on the tree,
Thy precious death and life - I pray:
Take all, take all my sins away.
O let me kiss Thy bleeding feet,
And bathe and wash them with my tears!
The story of Thy love repeat
In ev'ry drooping sinner's ears,
That all may hear the quick'ning sound,
Since I, e'en I, have mercy found.
O let Thy love my heart constrain!
Thy love for ev'ry sinner free,
That ev'ry fallen soul of man
May taste the grace that found out me;
That all mankind with me may prove
Thy sov'reign, everlasting love
O Love Divine, What Hast Thou Done?
O love divine, what hast Thou done?
Th'immortal God hath died for me!
The Father's co-eternal Son
Bore all my sins upon the tree;
Th'immortal God for me hath died
My Lord, my Love is crucified
Behold Him, all ye that pass by,
The bleeding Prince of life and peace!
Come, sinners, see your Maker died
And say, was ever grief like His?
come, feel with me His blood applied;
My Lord, my Love is crucified.
Is crucified for me and you,
To bring us rebels back to God.
Believe, believe the record true;
Ye all are bought with Jesus' blood.
Pardon for all flows from His side;
My Lord, my Love is crucified.
The let us sit beneath His Cross
And gladly catch the healing stream.
All things for Him account but loss
And give up all our hearts to Him.
Of nothing think or speak beside:
My Lord, my Love is crucified.
Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross, who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified; Receive our supplications and prayers which we offer before thee for all estates of men in thy holy Church, that every member of the same, in his vocation and ministry, may truly and godly serve thee, through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.
O Merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted, and live; Have mercy upon all who know thee not as thou art revealed in the Gospel of thy Son, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of they Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, One God, world without end.  Amen.
Epistle:  Hebrews 10:1-25
Gospel: John 19:1-37

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Evening Prayer: Wednesday of Holy Week

 You can join in the service and pray along with me by downloading the liturgy from the 2019 Book of Common Prayer, here.