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You, Abe Lincoln, and Paul: Whaddya Think?

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln, as frequently quoted to me by my dad.

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” — St. Paul, as he wrote in Romans 12:2.


ASBURY REVIVAL: Time to Throw Down

Zach Bennard wrote and shared the following on Feb. 17 —-

As many of you know, I am at the Asbury Revival in Kentucky. Last night, I slept in my car in 30° weather and snow, and this morning waited in line for 4 hours in the freezing weather to be in the service. I’ve noticed a few people criticizing those who make the drive to be here and I want to speak to it. I stood in line next to somebody who drove 13 hours to be here. He was a Pastor. I stood next to another man who traveled from Orlando. There were people there from Brazil and just about every other state there.

Now some people throw out, “You wouldn’t have to travel if you had personal revival”. I totally understand that not everybody is able to make the trip and that is okay. And I agree that personal revival is a necessity. We can have it. Here is the issue: Most Christians DON’T. Most Christians are content with not ever picking up their Bible, rarely go to
Church, they bash other Christians, rarely witness, and live mediocre at best Christian lives. I’ve been there. We all have.

Now let’s look at Asbury. 9 days ago, a few college kids stayed behind to pray after chapel ended. And because of their obedience, God showed up in a mighty way. Fast forward to today and THOUSANDS of people from all over the world are flooding this little town. Why? Because God is moving. You want to know the main conversations I heard today from people who went? They were hungry for God. They weren’t experiencing God in a corporate setting in their local church. They had personal prayer lives. But they LONGED to be in a room with other like minded people who were hungry for Jesus. And let me tell you this: Being in that auditorium today with 1600 people seeking Jesus was absolutely breathtaking. There was ZERO HYPE. It was raw presence. There was no “God’s man of power for the hour,” there was no outstanding musicians or eloquent preachers. BUT Jesus was the main attraction.

We live in a world today where we can go to the movies and spend money, waste time, and nobody says a word. We can watch hours of sports and nobody say a word. We can take vacations because “we want the experience” and nobody says a word.

BUT, when people from All OVER THE WORLD get excited about exalting Jesus and they rearrange their schedules and give up things to drive where Jesus ALONE is being exalted, we quickly want to criticize.

We pray for Revival, yet when God doesn’t do it where we are, we point a finger at people who go where it is.

I’m convinced one of the clearest signs that we don’t have personal revival is we haven’t learned to celebrate other people’s hunger for the things of God. Instead of celebrating what God is doing, we find fault.

In that room today, I sat next to a man in his 70s on my right and a man in his 30s on my left. I witnessed people from every background and every language, come together with ONE AGENDA: Lift Jesus high.

I witnessed prayer, repentance, the Word of God, healings, deliverance, and salvations.

Are these things I’ve witnessed myself before? Absolutely! But it still causes my Spirit to leap. There is STILL HOPE FOR AMERICA!


We may need to throw down our stones and pick up the Word of God. He is doing a new thing. And you best believe I’m going to support it and believe in it, whether it happens at my church or not.

“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians‬ ‭2‬:‭10‬-‭11‬ #asburyuniversity #asburyrevival2023

Mary’s Question, part two of two.

Can’t get away from this; still with me a day later —

“Just a reminder that Mary Oliver’s own answer to her question,

‘What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’

was to stroll idly through the fields noticing things.

The question out of context

could appear to be about achieving more

— it’s not.”

Jessica Kantrowitz wrote that.

She reminds me of an observation that’s really a criticism of Those People Called Methodists, of which I am one, that I heard while spending time with some people of The Reformed Tradition: “For all your talk of God’s grace, all y’all sure spend a lotta time trying to do more and try harder.”

Hmmm. Let’s see: “Do more and try harder.”

Accurate or not? Right or wrong? Good or bad?

Looking forward to hearing from you about this, anytime, through the usual ways we connect these days.

And thanking you in advance.

Mary’s Question

“Just a reminder that Mary Oliver’s own answer to her question, ‘What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ was to stroll idly through the fields noticing things.”

Jessica Kantrowitz wrote that.

She went on —-

“The question out of context could appear to be about achieving more — it’s not.”

—- But then after she’d spent time “noticing things” quite well….

Anybody else need to reminded of such things as balance now and then?

No Special Talents

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

No, his name wasn’t George.

His name was Albert.

As in Einstein.

Because that’s an Albert Einstein quote.

How about you? What special talent(s) do you bring with you?

“Joe, I don’t have any. New topic, please.”

Let’s review. And yes, I know “talent” in the following story literally meant a measure of money…but wow, it’s hard to get away from this hopefully familiar parable from Matthew 25:14-30

14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

— Yeouch. Ain’t nobody in that story given a sum total of zero talents.

Still true today.

Including the two of us.

And so…?

How to Be a Miserable Church, seriously

10. Don’t enjoy life’s pleasures. Avoid times of fellowship. And when you do have a fellowship event, tack on a long devotional at the end to remind them that life isn’t all fun and games.

Pop Quiz: Whaddya Say?

“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” — Ephesians 4:29

Take time right now for a moment of self inventory in light of that verse.

What about that stuff you said to that one person? You know, that one?

Make time right now to plan what you’ll say and how you’ll say it when you address that person again in light of that verse.

Review and apply Ephesians 4:29 as needed.

As needed by that other person.

Joy and/in Serenity

“Sometimes you have to let go of the picture of what you thought it would be like and learn to find joy in the story you are actually living.” — Rachel Marie Martin

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” — attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, Lutheran theologian (1892–1971)

BONUS BLOG: 6 Desperate Cries for Help. Please Listen.

Mike Rayson has much to say. Please listen to this, from earlier today —-

This past week, a young, vivacious, popular and much loved and admired Church of England priest ended her own private suffering. She led the work of St Bene’t’s Church in Cambridge (UK). Her name was and is The Rev’d Canon Anna Matthews. It’s important to say her name – to acknowledge her existence – to put a face to a name instead of filing this away in the “too hard” basket.

To be brutally honest with you all, I understand some of this. Often times, clergy are placed under enormous pressures and when the load becomes more than we can bear, we don’t know who to turn to. That might sound silly to you – I mean, we are clergy and we should have plenty of resources to turn to when things reach a crisis point.

But… who do we turn too? A fellow priest/presbyter/elder/minister? That’s all well and good, but what if that cleric one day becomes our boss in an episcopal triangle of ministry – where the Bishop holds the top job, and like Reaganomics, it trickles down from there. In my own experience, there’s also a deep sense of shame that I can’t deal with my own “stuff” because, well, I wear the lid of a margarine container around my neck.

I don’t know Canon Matthew’s story – and neither do I – or you – need too. All we need know is that sometimes clergy face unbelievable pressure from all sides all the time. To ask for help, any help, even just to ask another clergy friend to lend an ear over a cup of coffee and a cookie feels dangerous and has the ability to cast yourself as a failure in the eyes of the church and in the eyes of God. And often times, more often than you think, the “lended ears” have a great big sieve that leak juicy details to other colleagues.

I know this. I’ve experienced this. There have been times I’ve stayed in bed for days ignoring the phone and not responding to text messages… because like Canon Matthew’s, who do you turn too when life throws an enormous load of stuff at you. That stuff sometimes sticks. As a clergyman, I’ve been accused of stealing money, having an affair, misconduct for ‘stealing sheep’ from nearby churches – the list goes on and on. Plus, I myself live with manic depression – which is well medicated and allows me to function at a high level. I’ve learned to hide my own depression well.

Perhaps – you may think – the clergy could confide in a trusted congregant. No, not really. We are sent to serve communities, not rely on communities to support us. And all it takes is one slip of the tongue from a trusted parishioner, and the whole church is on fire.

Canon Matthew’s death happened an ocean away from the United States – but there is a high rate of suicide among clergy even here in the United States. I’ve attended a couple of funerals for colleagues who simply see no other way.

So… what can we do?

Firstly, regardless of how well we think our minister is doing, we should pray for them regularly.

Secondly, we can be a help and support to our clergy in some practical ways. I don’t mean listening – although listening is always good – I’m talking about the occasional delivered box of flowers with an encouraging note attached… or a gift card to a local restaurant…

Thirdly, the culture of “we pay our pastor to do that” should never enter your mind or pass your lips (or occupy your ears) ever. E.V.E.R! A minister is a co-laborer with you in Christ – not the paid representative to do the work of evangelism, hospitality and generosity. for you. The idea that you can pay your pastor to do the work that your are commanded in scripture to do isn’t just wrong, it’s bordering on heresy. A part of this is volunteering. Sometimes, it’s like pulling teeth with no anesthesia. When you decide you are just too busy for a church commitment (even somethimg thst may take an hour or two a month), more often than not, it falls on your minister to pick up the slack – and eventually that role gets so tight, it snaps. In the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the request to “follow me” was met in such a way that fisherman packed in their entire livelihood. If you can’t spare an hour a month… well… I invite you to read Luke’s gospel.

Fourthly (and this is for Bishops, Superintendents. head honcho’s and Ghandi’s security detail) LAY DOWN YOUR WEAPONS AND BEAT THEM INTO PLOWSHARE’s. Stop punishing clergy for being honest and showing vulnerability. (this is not directed at any denomination or prelate). Requiring your clergy to meet with a therapist monthly or more would be a good start – BUT – not a therapist who works for the church, or is appointed by a Bishop etc. a clergyperson should be completely confident that the therapist is slipping information back to the hierarchy: and believe me, this happens regularly. sit hapoened to me.

Fifthly… Always encourage. If you just heard a great sermon – then as you shake hands at the door, look your pastor in the eye and tell them what a great sermon that was – and include an observation on that sermon (not a long one – there are others in the line behind you). 🙂

And now for my sixth and final point (if you are still with me that is)… be totally aware EVERY week (whether you attend church the coming Sunday or not) that it takes your pastor between 10 and 20 hours every week to research, prepare and write a sermon. Most don’t understand that we don’t preach on a wing and a prayer… it can take up to as much as half our allotted time each week to prepare. Most of us don’t just leap up on Sunday armed with a bible and quick prayer. Also – and this is the absolute truth – at least for me, that the less time slent prepaing, the longer the sermon!!

Canon Matthew’s husband Stephen said..

“Having received communion at the 12:30 service on Thursday, as I prayed for Anna, I was given an image that has been of great comfort to me: Even as she fell, God lifted Anna up. She [Anna] was shining in the light of the resurrection as the hurt that overcame her fell away, along with her body. So, I pray to merciful God with hope that she was spared the final anguish, and in death she was cleansed and resurrected with Christ, rising in his glory.”

Take good care of your pastor, so that they can take good care of you.

The Rev’d Canon Anna Matthews

Your Own History with God, part 2 of 2.

Quick Review from a couple of days ago, with this by Juanita C. Rasmus, Disciplines 2023, page 69

“Peter affirms that his message came from his personal experience with Jesus Christ. His energy and enthusiasm almost leap from the printed page [2nd Peter 1:16-21].

“How often do you remember your history with God when you need comfort or support in times of difficulty or disorientation?

“Take a moment to select a memory of a particular time where the presence, power, or word of God was alive for you. Take the memory in fully, then think about the life God has made known to you.”

— When I remember “times of difficulty or disorientation” it’s easy to get lost in the weeds of those memories.

Maybe that happens to you as well.

Join me in making the effort to “select a memory of a particular time where the presence, power, or word of God was alive for you.”

Got one?

“Take the memory in fully, then think about the life God has made known to you.”

Swirl that memory around.

Savor God’s good gifts in the midst of everything.

I’m ready to sing The Doxology! Join me? —

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Praise God all creatures here below!

Praise God above, ye heavenly hosts!

Creator, Savior, Holy Ghost!