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    Entries in Jesus (20)


    A New Resource for the Lenten Season

    Back in December I signed on with First Methodist Church of Mansfield, Texas to develop a series of Lenten devotional readings that would progress through the Gospel of Luke. Lent begins this Wednesday, March 1. My writings will be featured at First Mansfield's Daily First 15. If you would like to receive the readings in your email inbox you can visit their website and sign up by clicking "subscribe" in the upper right hand corner.

    It has been a pleasure to work with the team at First Mansfield, particularly with Pastor David Alexander. Pastor David has a passion for the local church, for teaching the Scriptures, and for evangelism. It has been good to speak and correspond with him about how best to serve his congregation. Our mutual aim has been for the people of God to be equipped with the knowledge necessary to live faithfully to Jesus.

    Pastor David invited me to join his team in January to film a couple of videos for Mansfield's Lenten sermon series and to speak a little about the devotional series and a small group resource that we developed in tandem. Here is the first video:

    Ben Talks about Super Series from First Methodist Mansfield on Vimeo.

    After working with Mansfield in the fall, Pastor David and his team discovered that people wanted to know who I was, and in an effort to help make a connection, we filmed a second video where I shared a little about my family and vocation:

    Meet Ben from First Methodist Mansfield on Vimeo.

    Many thanks to Pastor David and his team for granting me the opportunity to serve Christ alongside them as a partner in ministry.

    If you have enjoyed reading my stuff and are looking for a resource to help you grow during the Lenten season, I encourage you to visit First Mansfield and sign up for the Daily First 15.

    Through Luke, I hope you meet Jesus, know him a bit better, and follow him in daily life.


    The Task of Christian Leadership

    In The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen writes:

    It is not the task of the Christian leader to go around nervously trying to redeem people, to save them at the last minute, to put them on the right track. For we are redeemed once and for all. The Christian leader is called to help others affirm this great news, and to make visible in daily events the fact that behind the dirty curtain of our painful symptoms there is something great to be seen: the face of Him in whose image we are shaped.

    Rest. Not anxiety or nervousness. Confidence in the Redeemer. Confirmation of the gospel, so that others might affirm it, as well as witness to another reality called "kingdom" (even in the face of this mess we call the world and ourselves). Intimacy with Jesus, into whose likeness we are being conformed, as we are being made new each day.

    2 Corinthians 4:16 reads:

    So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.

    The Christian leader is set free to love their neighbor. To set aside their fears. To invite others into God's presence. To announce good news. And to be honest about themselves.

    Too often, we think that is our task to redeem. Instead, it is to be redeemed, and live into the fullness of everything that means, not only in our proclamation, but in our life.


    Bringing Up the Rear

    This past week our kids participated in Vacation Bible School at First United Methodist Church, Waco. One of the songs for the week was "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus." Everything old is new again. It was good for Paul and Slias; it's good enough for me. And for you, too.

    At the dinner table, my son David broke the silence and said, "We follow Jesus."

    "Mommy, you follow Jesus."

    "Joy, you follow Jesus."

    "And Daddy, you follow Jesus."

    We nodded.

    He continued, "I will go first. Joy, you are behind me. And Mommy, you are behind Joy. And Daddy, you are behind Mommy."

    A little child shall lead them.

    And that's me, way at the back, bringing up the rear.

    As long as we are following Jesus, that's alright.


    The Friendly Beasts: A Meditation

    Click on over the UBC Advent Devotional blog. There, you can read my meditation on the classic carol, "The Friendly Beasts."

    I hope you enjoy.


    What Makes a Great Church?

     photo credit: Thin blue line via photopin (license)

    What makes a great church? Not its size or buildings or heritage or preacher or quality of its membership. What makes a church great is the real-as-life presence of Christ and its faithful living of the story. What gave rise to Christianity? It was not the disciples' superior moral precepts. It was their proclamation that Jesus rose from the dead and was in some form still alive in them. This is what birthed the church, and what still holds a Jesus community together. Not rules. Not fear. Not causes. Not programs. Grace--the free gift of love and mercy that makes us participants in the divine nature--is the glue of Me/We solidarity.
    - Leonard Sweet, Me and We: God's New Social Gospel

    What, indeed, makes a great church?

    Dr. Sweet says that it is grace, a grace evidenced by the presence of Christ at work among his people, guiding the church by the Spirit into a faithful and fresh living of the story of God's people across time.

    Christianity arose, and is alive and well, where the gospel of Jesus' resurrection is proclaimed, and testimony is given in word and deed that in his resurrection, there is life. Christ reigns in heaven and on earth, and in us, forever.

    Often we believe that the greatness of a church is determined by size, influence, or fame. We mistakenly believe a church is great because of what we have made it. We envy a leader, a preacher, a budget, a facility, a programmatic innovation, and think, "If only we could have that here."

    But there is only one church, and it is great because of what God has made and is making it through Christ. Whenever we, made part of that church, experience the presence of Christ, give testimony to his life in us, share the gospel truthfully, or live the story faithfully, then there is only one proper response: humble praise.

    The very thing that makes the church great, Jesus the Christ, is available and accessible to all believers, in any time, at any place.

    We are invited to trust him, and open ourselves to his work in our midst. May his glory be revealed in his church, in all times, and in every place.