"Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth."
(John Wesley letter to Alex Mather, August 6, 1777)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Seasons March 4, 2012
Sermon Title: “Ruts”
Scripture: Mark 2:23-3:6
Pastor Bill Knobles

When I was growing up in Stockdale and I was in elementary school, we rode the bus to school most of the time. We lived out in the country east of town. The farm to market road we lived on was paved, but most of the bus route was on dirt or gravel roads. When it rained, it wasn’t long before the road was rutted up pretty bad. The wheels packed the dirt and gravel in the ruts, while pushing up dirt, gravel and mud to the sides. Now, as long as the ruts weren’t too deep, we were ok. The driver would just drive along keeping the wheels in the ruts. But if it rained too much, the ruts got deeper and deeper and eventually we would get stuck out on those dirt roads. And then the older boys would have to get out and push, and you can just imagine how well that worked. Nothing good happens when a big ole school bus gets stuck in the mud.

The Pharisees in today’s Scripture were deep in a rut and they were stuck in the mud. They were spinning their theological wheels and mud was flying everywhere and they were going nowhere. And like the stuck school bus, nothing good was happening in their lives. We all remember the law they were struggling with.

Deuteronomy 5:12-15: Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

For a former slave people, a day of rest was an unbelievable gift. It was grace on an unimaginable scale to someone who had previously been required to work hard each and every day under the whip of their Egyptian masters. And notice how God’s grace is meant for everyone. Not just for the Jewish people-- the people of the law, but also all the folks around them. Their children, their servants, the strangers in town and even the livestock. All got a day each week for precious rest from their labor. But as years went by, the Jews had perverted the law. They turned a beautiful gift into a burden. Like good lawyers, they took a pretty simple law and added subparts, whereases, addenda and fine print until the intent and meaning of the law could no longer even be understood.

For instance, Jewish law said that you could not plant, plow, reap, carry, gather, thresh, winnow, sort, purify, grind, sift, Knead, cook, bake, shear, scour, dye, spin, make 2 loops, weave, separate 2 threads, make a fire or extinguish a fire on the Sabbath.. and the list goes on and on. In fact, there were 39 basic things prohibited on the Sabbath, and they argued over dozens of additional applications.

Was plucking heads of grain to eat one of the prohibited activities? Maybe. It could be argued both ways. But the simple fact is that the disciples must have been hungry as they walked along. Their mission was important and they knew time was short. So rather than going home for a meal that Sabbath day, they hit the fast food walk through and grabbed a few heads of grain for a meal. I don’t know if the grain was wheat or barley, but it wasn’t the carefully prepared meal usually set aside for the Sabbath. Just something to chew on and satisfy an empty stomach. And, the Pharisees were watching them as Jesus and the disciples were making their way to the synagogue there in Capernaum. And when the Pharisees accused Jesus of not controlling his disciples, Jesus reminded them that even beloved King David broke the rules a little when his men were hungry. Jesus reminded them that when King David was on the run from Saul, he had entered the synagogue, the holy place, and took the priest’s bread for his men. Good bread. Holy bread. Bread for hungry people.

And here, the Pharisees were fussing about a handful of uncooked grain? It was such a little thing, but for people who didn’t welcome change, little changes had a way of turning into big changes. And that would not do. That would not do at all. So they watched.

You remember the last time Jesus had been in the synagogue at Capernaum? It was a memorable occasion. Jesus was teaching and the people were amazed at his depth of understanding. But then came the scene as a person possessed by an unclean spirit started crying out, interrupting the church service. “Have you come to destroy us?” That was what the unclean spirit asked. When Jesus exorcised that unclean spirit, Scripture says that his fame spread throughout the region.
• And with that fame came jealously.
• With that fame came resentment.
• And with that fame came fear.

Because when that unclean spirit asked if Jesus was going to destroy them, some concluded that Jesus just might do exactly that. The Pharisees decided that this itinerant Rabbi ought to be watched.

Now, Jesus was back in the church. And they were watching. What would happen this time? And as we watch the Pharisees as they watch Jesus, we wonder just how deep of a rut they had slipped into. There was a man in the church there in Capernaum. He had a withered hand. Could have been a birth defect, or from an injury. We don’t know. But we know this. All of the Pharisees and their laws hadn’t healed that hand. The first time Jesus was in that church, what Jesus did was a surprise. Not this time. There was a sense of expectation.

Jesus called to the man. And while the man was coming forward, Jesus asked those who were watching. Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath? To save a life? They had no answer, even though they certainly knew the answer. But the man with the withered hand didn’t care. He knew that this Jesus who called him forward, who was waiting for him to approach-- this man called Jesus could change his life. So he came forward with his withered hand. His heart was beating faster with every step. Then he got there. He was standing next to Jesus, who said “Stretch out your hand”. While the man was lifting his hand in wonder and amazement, and seeing it whole and healthy for likely the first time in a long time, or maybe the first time ever, the Pharisees were turning their eyes away in anger. They were slipping out, not even bothering to look. In fact, they left the church not to proclaim the miracle, but to conspire with the Herodians on how to get rid of Jesus.

Jesus had done the thing they could never do, and that power to change lives threatened their power to rule over lives. The time of watching was over. The time for action was coming. Jesus told them a truth that day that they could not, would not, hear. He reminded them that the Sabbath was made for man. Man was not made for the Sabbath. The Pharisees could not accept that truth. Somewhere along the line, they had lost the joy of Sabbath rest. They had lost the ability to change. To appreciate the good that change can bring.

Did Jesus deliberately provoke the Pharisees? Did Jesus want to shake things up a little? You bet he did. We might climb down into our ruts, But Jesus loves us too much to let us stay in them. In Texas, we have a law called the Uniform Commercial Code. Chapter 2 has a provision that allows us to sell used goods AS IS, WHERE IS and WITH ALL FAULTS.

AS IS. In is present condition.

WHERE IS. Its current location.

WITH ALL FAULTS. Just as messed up as it might be.

People can be the same way. AS IS, WHERE IS and WITH ALL FAULTS. Stuck in a rut and without the will to climb out. Maybe afraid to climb out. After a while, that rut starts looking and feeling like home. And even when someone shouts a truth at us, and puts down a ladder for us to climb out with, we just stay. We like our ruts. May not be much, but it is ours. You ever been stuck in a rut? Spinning your wheels. I have. And I know that it can be pretty scary to crawl out. To try something new. To have a look at my life, and the priorities I had set, and see what needed to be changed. I was very comfortable being a full time lawyer. As Is, Where Is and with my share of Faults. And, as far as ruts go, mine wasn’t too bad. But God had something different in mind for me. Something that, down in my rut, I didn’t see. I was too busy to examine possibilities. But Jesus loved me way too much for me to stay AS IS, WHERE IS and WITH ALL FAULTS. It was time to shake things up a little. And I am so glad that he did.

Lent is a time to consider what might be changed in our lives. To get out of our ruts. For some of us, to get out of the mud we are stuck in. Frankly, we don’t usually get stuck on the hard pavement. Our wheels don’t slip when we are on firm ground. Just when we are in the mud slipping and sliding, seeing those ruts get deeper and deeper. Lent is a time of new possibilities. A time of hope. A time when change is possible. And those changes might start small. Like plucking a few heads of grain for a meal on the go rather than having a hot meal at home. Because, the Pharisees were right, you know. Give Jesus an inch and he will take a mile. Allow him to work a little in your life, and he will change your whole life. Because Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath; the Lord of each of our days.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Taizé Sermon October 5, 2011

1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. (Psalm 1)

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of this drought is the loss of so many trees. Wherever we go we see trees under drought stress. Trees that are dead or dying, with their leaves turning brown and their limbs breaking off. And when the trees suffer, all of God’s creation suffers. Besides being beautiful and a delight to behold, trees provide food for people and animals. They generate oxygen in the air we that we breathe. They give us shade from the hot sun and a home for God’s creatures. Ancient trees mark boundaries and stand as sentinels to the passage of time.

But all living things need water to thrive. It is the moisture that carries the nutrients up from the earth through the roots, up the tree and then to the leaves. And there in the leaves, God has created the miracle of photosynthesis as those nutrients, water, carbon dioxide and sunlight are converted into food for the tree. From the leaves, the moisture then carries the food throughout the tree, sustaining it and giving it life.

Arborists tell that the signs of drought stress begin in the crown of the trees, as the leaves turn brown and fall. Then, the limbs furthest from the roots begin to die and break. Eventually, the whole tree will die if doesn’t rain. The arborists say that a drought damaged tree takes years to recover. They also tell us that the young trees are most susceptible to drought damage-- trees whose root systems have not developed. The trees that have been damaged by pests or disease are also in danger during a drought, as are trees where we have paved over the root system.

But our Scripture tonight gives us a different image of trees. These trees are healthy and if close our eyes, we can see those trees standing by the edge of the water. Perhaps the trees we remember from tubing down the Comal, or on the Frio River at Garner State Park. The Scripture compares people with trees planted by streams of water.

These are the people who delight in the Lord, and his commandments. These are people who, like those trees, have deep roots of faith. Just as the leaves of those trees do not wither, the faithful prosper and bear fruit in their season. And the water they are planted by is not just any water. It is living water. Water that forever quenches thirst and carries the nutrients of God’s love throughout those trees.

This prosperity, this living water, is not just for them. Because their joy is in sharing this good news with others. Their joy is in providing rest for others and perhaps a little shade for those having a hard time. And as God’s people who have been nourished by that living water, we must be watchful. We must stand guard. Because there are those young trees out there that are at risk in this world. They need special care because their roots haven’t had time to develop. They aren’t planted close enough to the living water. Their trunks are not yet strong enough to withstand the hurricanes of life. Our job, as the faithful, happy people of God is to carry the living water to them so they too can grow strong. To protect them as best as we can from the strong winds of this world.

Then, there are those people, who are like trees that are sick or damaged. They suffer from the diseases of addiction, the ravages of idolatry, the pestilence of sin or the storms of hate that threaten to uproot them. More than anything, they need to know how much God loves them. They need to know about grace and forgiveness. They need to know that others care about them and are willing to help.

And finally, there are those people who are like trees whose roots have been paved over by worry and loneliness, and who are starving for a kind word. They just need some tender care, someone to help tear away the hardtop that life can lay down.

There is also a message of self care here for the workers of God. For you and for me. Drought can come into our lives as we work so hard to care for others. Don’t stray far from the living water. As John Wesley said, attend to all of the means of grace. Be in and of the Holy Scripture. Read and ponder the Living Word of God each day. Be fed by the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Worship together, and draw strength from each other. My friends, there is work for those of us who are like those trees in the Psalm; for those of us nurtured in faith, there are these others that we are to care for. There is too much to be done for us to allow a drought to weaken us.

All as we wait for that glorious time, when the tree of life has come full circle from the Garden of Eden, to its place in the New Jerusalem.
As we close, hear these words of assurance from Chapter 22 of the Revelation:

"1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever."


Thursday, April 28, 2011


It has been too long since my last post. Christmas and Easter have come and gone. A birthday went by. We have served more than a few clients at the law office and I have assisted most every Sunday in worship. Meantime, I have been reading, reading and reading some more in preparation for Course of Study this summer. Besides that, my clergy mentor has a reading list that I am working through.

One disappointment this Spring was that the Conference decided to put the new church start on “hold”. The area where we were going to plant has suffered from the economic turndown. The businesses and homes that were projected for the area are on the shelf for now, and the Conference decided that the time was no longer ripe to plant the church. As much as I am disappointed, I recognize that the Conference has likely made the right decision. So, we continue to build a ministry in the mission field, knowing that in God’s time, we will plant his church.

Even so, there is so much to do. I have asked for more responsibility as a certified lay minister and the church has been glad to allow me to serve. As a CLM, you simply have to carve out your ministries and demonstrate that you are responsible, capable and when called upon, you will do what is asked. And we can be confident because the CLM training is really good and prepares us for the work. I am getting to preach more often and help plan worship. There are large numbers of details that need attention, and I am learning to get them on my punch list.

One bit of advice would be for you to read and study as much as possible regarding pastoral care. That was a big hole in my education, but it is a huge part of what a pastor and a CLM does. The 4 Modules were a good start, but a better understanding of how and why people hurt, and what might be done to help, is really important. Even if I were not a clergy candidate, I would be studying pastoral care texts. So far, I have put some of what I have learned to work and was glad I better understood the issues. If anyone would like a list of the books, I am happy to share.

The next steps for me are licensing school in May, hopefully an appointment in June, and then off to Perkins Course of Study School in July. I am still working at the law office and that little oil play we call the Eagle Ford shale is keeping us busy there. Of course, there is my beloved church and every moment I get to spend there as a CLM is a blessing.



Friday, November 12, 2010


Dear Friends:

This month represents a small milestone in my ministry. It has been one year since my certification as a lay minister and assignment to serve at First United Methodist in Seguin. I started my certified lay ministry website early on so that others would have access to the CLM forms and materials, along with some commentary about the process. I hope that some of you have found the materials useful. I sure hope that my work has made the process work more smoothly for you. Has serving as a CLM been all that I thought it would be? How do the facts compare with the theory? One year later, I have some thoughts about that.

The simple fact is that certified lay ministry has been more than I thought it would be. It has been a joy most all of the time. Juggling my work as an attorney with my service to the church has been a challenge at times. One critical thing I have learned is to compartmentalize the two as best as I can. When I am at the church, I try not to think about the law office. As I work with the pastors, staff, other laity and the folks in the congregation, I have to “be there”, and not distracted. On the other hand, when I am working as an attorney, I have to do the best I can for my clients and that requires that I focus and use my time well. Still, even at the law office, I find so many opportunities for ministry. Besides, and paraphrasing my friend Wes, no matter where I am or what I am doing, my true job is to be the best reflection of Christ that I can. I try to do just that.

There is a tab on the website “How Can A Lay Minister Serve?” The materials under this tab come from the GBOD Lay Ministry web page, and offer many different ways a CLM can be in ministry. My experience includes several of those ways, and one that I really did not expect. For instance, I expected to work in the care ministry. I enjoy the nursing home ministry and helping to better organize the care ministry for our members who are in nursing and assisted living facilities, or simply can’t easily leave their homes was a natural step for me. It was fairly easy because our “care ministers” have a real heart for the work. I am delighted and humbled by their dedication and service. They visit all of our members (and some folks who are not members) and take Holy Communion to those who will receive it.

Working on the new church start at Clear Springs is a blast. I realize that few (too few) people get that opportunity. I went to the New Church Leadership Institute (“NCLI”) and the Church Planters Boot Camp to help prepare me for that work. I would urge any of you involved in a church plant to attend NCLI and boot camp if you can, as those educational opportunities greatly enhance the CLM training. We are early in the church planting out at Clear Springs, but I can testify that the work we do in the CLM program is really good preparation for helping with a new church start.

Because of my background, I fully expected the senior pastor to use my administrative skills, and he has. I help write grant applications, do the contract work and generally assist the staff with various projects. I don’t know what other CLMs have experienced in their assignments, but I have been so blessed by the acceptance of the pastors, staff and congregation at my church. I had hoped that I would be allowed to actually help with worship and worship planning to some small degree. Instead, the pastors and staff have allowed me to serve in worship and planning most every week. That includes regularly assisting in worship on Sundays, as well as other worship events, such as our Taiźe service. I believe that the GBOD envisioned that a CLM would serve like that in smaller churches, but perhaps not in the larger churches. Of course, I am sure that the church would function just fine without me, but I would like to think that I have brought a distinctive voice to worship that is helpful. Besides serving in worship, each pastor has made sure that I get to help with other ministries in the church in an effort to round out my experience. I thank God every day for these folks and their willingness to include me in their work.

Then, there is that one thing I really did not expect. Serving as a lay minister has deeply affected my walk with Christ. Seeing ministry up close and experiencing the transforming work of God in the lives of people has changed me. When I originally started down the path of CLM, I assured myself that I was answering God’s call in a most satisfactory way. That serving as a CLM would be enough. I was wrong about that and earlier this year I began the discernment process as a step towards becoming a licensed, local pastor. I am now a declared candidate and hope to be in licensing school next year and then on to the Course of Study. In some ways, CLM has allowed me to better understand what serving as clergy would be like. Whether it is something I enjoy enough to pursue it. I don’t know if the GBOD thought that certified lay ministry would prove to be useful in that way. In my case, it was. You might find the same thing, or you might be perfectly happy in your work as a CLM.

I am going to continue my efforts to expand certified lay ministry and will remain the coordinator in my district for that purpose. As such, I will maintain this website and be an advocate for you and all others who want to pursue CLM. There are places in the process that could be easier for CLM candidates, and I am encouraging those who make those decisions to reconsider/streamline some of the steps. I really want to enhance the educational opportunities for CLM both in regard to the Four Modules, as well as for our continuing educational requirements. In short, I want to share the joy of serving as a CLM with everyone that feels called and help make the process as efficient as possible. If you have any questions at all, or just want to talk about CLM, just give me a call.


Bill Knobles

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Boot Camp

We survived Church Planting Boot Camp. There were no push up exercises; however, considering the amount of food we had, we probably should have done something along those lines. Instead, we met early until late for most of a week and learned about how to, and how not to, start a new church. The primary presenters were Jim Griffith and Don Smith. Jim got his church planting start with Bill Hybels. He went on to plant six churches, and then he started generally consulting with various denominations on new church starts. Don planted Stonebridge United Methodist Church, a very successful church in the Houston area, and later began working with Jim. Both serve as coaches for new church start pastors and both have “autopsied” failed church plants. In short, these guys know their business.

There must have been 75 people at the conference. New church start pastors and their teams, including the senior pastors of the parenting churches. There was time for us to discuss what we were learning and both Jim and Don encouraged questions. Our team was really busy. Not only were we at camp, we were also finishing the planning of our first neighborhood event in our new church start area. That Sunday, we were going to host a “Blessing of the Back Packs” out in the mission field; the only problem was that we did not have a place to hold it. Not quite, anyway. We were waiting for the “go ahead” from the management group of the homeowner’s association to use the local pavilion area and that was a process. The nice folks at the subdivision sales office had put us in touch with the right people, but getting the final permission took more time than we had planned for. Praise God, by Tuesday we had the needed permission and our team back in Seguin got the door hangers out, the food prepared and all of the detail work that goes into planning an event. It was a wonderful success.

Boot camp is actually divided up into two major parts. The first was advice for the planting church. Jim and Don stressed how critical it is to take care first of the needs of the parent church, keeping it healthy and informed. Just like any good parenting relationship, the goal is to nurture the daughter church and bring it along with support, prayer, resources, encouragement and love. We talked about transparency in finances, proper reporting procedures, spiritual development and the mission mindedness that is required to plant a church. The second part of boot camp was the nuts and bolts on how to get it done. How to establish a reasonable time schedule, put the funds together, meet and learn from the folks in the mission field, find what is needed and present the most excellent worship opportunity that we can. Not surprisingly, the music and child care has to be absolutely top notch. The preaching has to be relevant. The worship experience has to help people build a sound relationship with God. Worship has to be exciting and motivating.

The last afternoon we were given big sheets of paper and pads of those little sticky notes. Based on what we learned, we were to each write down critical things that had to be done as we moved towards the church plant. Things like signage, parking attendants, hospitality, equipment, personnel, facility rentals, small groups, making contacts, dress rehearsals, preview services, stewardship, greeting, hiring child care, launch team meetings, etc. We made at least 100 little notes and then we all went around to the other churches and saw what they had written. That accounted for at least 50 more things that we had forgotten. If you go by Pastor Diana’s office, she is organizing those little notes into an action plan.

We surely learned that we have a great deal of work to do. Joyful and exciting work that allows us to be in mission as we tell people the Good News and build a new worshiping congregation. Church planting is an awesome work done in a blessed partnership between clergy, laity and the Holy Spirit. There are certainly opportunities for our lay speakers and certified lay ministers to serve. Our education and training in planning worship, leading worship, leading prayer, teaching classes, helping with the care ministry and coordinating program ministries not only takes a load off of the new church start pastor, but also helps set a standard of “excellence” for the new church.

Please add your prayers for Clear Springs United Methodist Church. The baby has not yet been born, but God has plans. Wonderful plans to prosper a new ministry.



Saturday, August 14, 2010

Push Ups

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart". Hebrews 12:1-3

We are headed to “boot camp” tomorrow. The proper name is “Church Planting Boot Camp” and some folks from our church will be in Plano, Texas to learn more about the best ways to go about planting a new worship community in Clear Springs, Texas. Of course, the vision I get about “boot camp” comes from watching too many movies. Young recruits in a row doing pushups until they collapse, or marching in rows with full packs or standing at attention as a drill instructor yells at them. I never served in our military, so I have no real idea about what happens there. I sense it is not very pleasant, though, and is a tough physical and mental test. But, I wonder if the recruits ever think about the men and women who have served before them? The heroes and heroines whose names are legends, like General George S. Patton, Lt. Annie Fox, General Douglas MacArthur, Jimmy Doolittle, Jacqueline Cochran and Lt. Audie Murphy. Perhaps more likely, the recruits think about fathers, mothers, grandfathers, brothers and sisters who honorably answered our nation’s call. Those thoughts, examples and witnesses very well may help them survive boot camp, and then inspire them as they serve.

Although the schedule looks demanding, our “boot camp” will not physically challenge us in that way. That is just as well since it has been a few years since my last push up exercise. We will probably just drink way too much coffee and wear ourselves out trying to absorb all of the material being offered. But just as our soldiers may be inspired by those who served before them, we will be inspired by that “great cloud of witnesses” who have faithfully served Christ before us. In the early history of the United Methodist Church, there were very few ordained ministers to go around, so they rode a circuit of churches and camp meetings on horseback. Thomas Coke, Francis Asbury, Isaac Smith, Thomas Vasey and Richard Whatcoat are historic names . In Texas, we had Littleton Fowler, Martin Ruter and Robert Alexander riding circuit in the early 1800s. Stephen F. Austin, an early Texas colonist of note, did not particularly want Methodist preachers in his colony as he thought their excited way of preaching would bring trouble. These early preachers endured physical hardship that we cannot imagine. The pay was negligible or non existent, the conditions deplorable, disease and Indian attacks were common and the congregations less than appreciative at times. William B. Dewees, an early settler, wrote in his journal in 1819 about a “camp meeting” where certain elements in the congregation got more than a little intoxicated and when the preachers objected, were run out of the camp with an axe.

It was against these odds that the United Methodist church was established and spread like wildfire in the United States and Texas. These men (and certainly, a number of lay women), ran the race with perseverance and laid the foundations for our church. I imagine that every denomination has similar stories. We remember these faithful witnesses as we head off to our “boot camp” and set in for the long run of planting the church in Clear Springs. We will no doubt run into difficulties in the weeks and months ahead. The path will not always be easy and there will be tangles and snares to throw off. But I don’t think that the Indians are going to attack, or that the horses will buck us off. As with all United Methodists, there will be plenty to eat. With God’s help, we will fix our eyes on Jesus as we work; trusting that what we learn this week will help us persevere. The words “Refresh, Redeem, Renew and Restore” have worked their way into the mission statement for this new church plant. Our vision is that it will be a highly relevant, mission minded church. It will be a family friendly, multi generational church with a welcoming, casual atmosphere. It will be a church where the Sacraments are celebrated and a place where we praise God with music, prayer, visual imagery, teaching, worship, art, drama and nature. It is going to be a great church to raise children in, to meet new people, to fellowship with friends, explore faith and learn how God works in each of our lives. It is going to be a church that the “great cloud of witnesses” would have been proud of.



Sunday, July 25, 2010


Wow! It has been a while since I last posted a message. It has been a busy summer so far. My secular office has been blessed with plenty of work and my service at the church really has kept me jumping. I have been invited to attend Tuesday staff meetings and have extended my office hours at the church to most of the day on Thursday. I have been blessed to serve on Sunday mornings and assist in worship. Generally, the pastors are seeing to my development and growth in ministry. We now have our new church plant minister on board and she has been meeting and planning with us. We are headed to “boot camp” next month to learn the details of planting a new church. You can imagine how excited we are. Certified Lay Ministry has been all that I thought it might be, and so much more.

This summer seems different than others. Perhaps it is because the heat is not as bad. The fields are still green and the earth is not thirsting as it did last year. Our little garden at home was successful and we are still eating some of the vegetables we grew. When my wife reads this, she will ask “We?” Yes, she did most of the work. But as we prepared and planted this spring, I was listening to my Ipod as I did my part, and I still had Christmas music in the mix. I asked my Facebook friends if the liturgical police were going to come and get me. It just seemed so right to listen to the music of the birth story as we tilled and planted. I was assured that Christmas music is pretty good much of the year, and we planted our watermelons to the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas album.

The garden had the usual share of insects and things that needed some spraying or dusting, but not too much. Henrietta took up residence nearby and had her nest of baby cottontail rabbits. Any creature that hangs out long enough around here will get a name. They did not eat much. As the weeks went by, tomatoes, beans, peppers, squash, watermelons and her little herb garden produced and kept our table nicely filled. Already, Janice is thinking about the fall garden. I have found that when you garden, there is always something to plan and do and for the most part, it is very pleasant work.

Lay ministry is much the same. It is such a pleasant way to serve God. There is always some work that needs to be done, and most of the work is very agreeable. Sometimes, the unexpected will show up, like our little brood of rabbits did around the garden, and we just enjoy the fun. Vacation Bible School was like that. The theme was “Galactic Blast” and our choirmaster wore a NASA spacesuit. Janice and I took up an outpost in the orbital observatory and led 90+ kids in experiments and Scripture for a while each evening. Of course, we had many, many folks in the church helping out with VBS. We were all really tired each evening, but we praised God as the kids (big and little) grew in understanding and faith. Just like Janice is planning our little fall garden, the church staff is busy planning our fall “back to school” and “back to church” activities, our stewardship campaign, some new classes and all sorts of way to be in mission locally and beyond.

I hope that your ministries are also bearing fruit this summer. And I surely hope that all of you are having some fun. Some time with family, friends and the kids; some time at church, in mission and in the Scriptures. We help grow the Kingdom one smile at a time.