Michael W. Smith’s “Sky Spills Over”

Music videos have become powerful storytelling tools. The new video of Michael W. Smith’s “Sky Spills Over” single is no exception. I’ve been listening to Michael W. Smith since my own youth group days (remember “Friends” – the song that was used for every senior goodbye?).

The music video has a Lord of the Flies feel to it. Smith stumbles upon a camp of children who seem to be oppressed by a wild beast. Smith, in a Sword in the Stone kind of way, is able to use the sword lodged in a tree to kill the beast and the children rejoice!

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Book Review: Kingdom Come

41gf7itj8wLKingdom Come: Why We Must Give Up Our Obsession with Fixing the Church – and What We Should Do Instead, Reggie McNeal, Tyndale Momentum, 2015.

Reggie McNeal sets out to do exactly what the subtitle suggests. The fist half of Kingdom Come explains why the church must give up fixing the church. While the second half deals with the what the church should do instead along with practical ways to do just that. The thesis of this approachable book is summarized in this statement by McNeal, which he repeats often:

“The church is not the point of the Kingdom; the Kingdom is the point of the church.”

The book is divided into two sections. One focusing on McNeal’s theory that in order for the Church to survive in this new day and age, it must refocus on the Kingdom. The second half gives practical examples and practical steps to achieve that. While the first half of the book is Pastor McNeal, the second half is Leadership Consulant McNeal.

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5 Movies on Netflix Worth Watching

Here are five movies currently streaming on Netflix that you might find worth watching.

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Day of Prayer Confession

In the Virginia Conference, today (Pentecost Sunday) is a Day of Prayer. Bishop Cho has asked the churches to be in prayer for renewal and revival for the church.  I tailored the prayer of confession in today’s traditional services for the occasion:

Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have done harm when we should have done good. We have not stayed in love with you. We have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy. Forgive us. Renew us. Free us to be the church you have called us to be. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, transform us and shape us so that we may make disciples for the transformation of the world.

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American Sniper (2014)

AmericanSniper_PosterNo matter where you stand on the war in Iraq debate, American Sniper is a film worth watching. I was torn when the film was released. Did we need another war film? Did we need a film before we were out of Iraq telling us whether the war was good or bad?

So I waited for the film to come out on DVD and Blu-ray, which happened this week, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

I was surprised at how good the film was. I know, I know, it was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor in a  Leading Role (Bradley Cooper).  (It only won Best Achievement in Sound Editing). American Sniper is not an analytical film about war, instead war is the reality of the narrative. It is the story of a father, a husband, and a service man, Chris Kyle (Cooper).

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Deacon’s Call: Mike Friedrich

I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  In this post you will hear from Mike Friedrich is a provisional deacon serving as the Emerging Ministries Specialist to the Bridges District of the California Nevada Conference..  Here are Mike’s words: 

Here’s the short version:  I stood in a church one day and out of the blue said to myself, “I gotta be part of this!”

I think you’ll find the longer version is more interesting.  Here it is:

I was raised in a practicing and faithful Roman Catholic family and was personally active spiritually and religiously while attending my Jesuit college. Yet, I fell out of practice when I discovered all the local churches I knew were into families and I was a single 20-something guy.  There was no welcome space for me.

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Sermon: Called to Go

This is the sermon I preached on May 17, 2015 at Peakland United Methodist on Acts 1:1-11. You can also listen on iTunes by clicking here.

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Deacon’s Call: Barbara Ward

I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  In this post you will hear from Barbara Ward who is an ordained deacon, retired, in the Virginia Annual Conference.  Here are Barbara’s words: 

Standing before the Bishop to be ordained as one of the first Virginia Conference Deacons in Full Connection was, for me, the answer to an impossible dream.

I was just sixteen years old when I received a calling to ministry. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I sat alone in the choir loft of my church, waiting for others to arrive for the Youth Choir Rehearsal. I was gazing idly at the empty church balcony when I was drawn to what looked vaguely like a blue cloud.

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Deacon’s Call: Laura Douglass

I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  This post you will hear from Laura Douglass who is an ordained deacon currently serving as  Minister of Music at Asbury United Methodist Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Here are Laura’s words: 

The journey into music ministry began as a child surrounded by a loving Baptist family and lots of hymn singing. My early piano lessons did not bear much fruit until I discovered hymns, and it didn’t take long to figure out that I could delay washing dishes by practicing them immediately after dinner. Before age ten, hymns became a path to the Spirit in the midst of many emotions. I remember praying for my Methodist cousins who “hadn’t seen the light.”

As an undergraduate majoring in music education I concentrated on piano, but also studied voice, strings and organ. During my final semester I took lessons with the new organ instructor whose energy and support were to open unimagined doors.

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Deacon’s Call: Brenda Laws

I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  In this post you will hear from Brenda Laws who is an ordained deacon currently serving as  an ID Case Manger for the Eastern Shore Community Service Board on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Her secondary appointment is at Horntown Charge UMC on the Eastern Shore District. Here are Brenda’s words: 

When I saw her on stage with the bishop I heard a voice within my spirit say, “You will be where she is.” Ha Ha I thought that was a good joke. “I am a 19 year old single mom and that will never happen,” I thought. That day was at Annual Conference of June 1980 in Richmond. It changed my vocation in life. It changed who I was and it redefined who God was in my life.

I didn’t even know who that lady was on the conference stage, I just know she had set an example for me when she was consecrated a diaconal minister. My new quest in life was to find out about the diaconal ministry.

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