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E-pistles

"What is Your Price?"

4/15/2014
During this Holy Week we remember that Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, the price of a human slave in those days. Even though Judas betrayed the location of Jesus and his disciples so that the authorities could arrest Jesus at night, Judas was certainly not the only betrayer. Simon Peter denied three times that he even knew Jesus. And right there in the middle of the story of Jesus' arrest it says, "then all of the disciples forsook Jesus and fled." They all betrayed...

"An Age-Old Argument"

4/8/2014
Last week we enjoyed spring vacation in Florida with our adult kids and our two youngest grandchildren. It was a really nice week, and we had near-perfect weather, lots of fun and a good experience being together in one condo for the week. The grandchildren, Austin and Leah, were especially cute (from my unbiased opinion as their Abu or grandpa), but they have reached the age where they get into verbal arguments with one another. What did they argue about? They were each possessive and wanted...

"Team Wins Over Talent"

3/27/2014
Is your NCAA bracket as messed up as mine? We always have a little family competition in filling out brackets to guess the winners of the various teams in the NCAA tournament. This year, I have done so badly that I am in last place in our family competition! In trying to understand all of the upsets in this year's tournament, I heard one analyst explain it this way: "team wins over talent." He was referring to the mid-major schools with experienced players who won "upset"...

"A Reality Check"

3/17/2014
Watching the NCAA tourney selection show last night, it soon became apparent that we need to do a "reality check" about our belief that the state of Indiana is a basketball state. Not one of the universities in the state of Indiana has a men's basketball team selected for the NCAA tourney this year. Not IU, not Purdue, not Butler, not Notre Dame, not Ball State, etc. Not one! Indiana State was the only school in Indiana even selected for the lesser NIT tournament. We like to think...

"My Lord, Bishop!"

3/10/2014
One of things I experienced last week at the Sierra Leone Annual Conference is the African formality in addressing bishops. Following the British style of their old colonial days, most people in Africa address their bishop as "My Lord Bishop." Such formality is a sign of respect, but it is a little hard for me to accept. I am not a very formal person, and I tend to avoid a lot of titles because they can so easily separate us from one another. So when I meet with the governor or the...

"A Global Church"

3/3/2014
I am sending this message from Freetown, Sierra Leone, where I served today as the guest preacher for the Sierra Leone Annual Conference. Their ordination service today was an amazing four-and-a-half-hour service of praise, combined choirs (even including the Hallelujah Chorus), ordination, and communion. The offering lasted over 30 minutes so that all the 400+ worshipers could dance and sing their way forward with the joy and generosity typical of the African church. The people were...

"Keeper of the Keys: Matthew 16:13-19"

2/25/2014
(NOTE: This is the sermon I shared for the “Our Life Together" clergy retreat on Monday, February 24th. Many clergy suggested it be shared as an E-pistle.) This text -- Matthew 16:13-19 -- is the great "turning point" or "beginning point" in the Gospel, when Jesus asks, "Who are people saying that I am?" and he gets the latest Gallup Poll. Then he asks that most important question, "Who do YOU say that I am?" and Simon Peter declares "You...

"A Serious Concern"

2/17/2014
In his first letter to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul says (in Eugene Peterson's translation The Message): "I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I'll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common." (I Corinthians 1:10) I share the same concern for our Indiana state legislature, for our U.S. Congress, for our United...

"Why?"

2/10/2014
One of the most interesting questions I have been asked about the plan to invite our churches to start 100 New Points of Light (worship opportunities to reach new people) has been the question "Why?" I expected to hear the question "How?" asked often, and we are preparing to provide ideas, models, support, and advisors to help churches know "how" to start new worship services. That is important because we want this to be a free, Spirit-led movement, but we also...

"Staying Connected"

2/3/2014
I have had two delightful experiences with clergy in the past month where I heard lots of voices yearning to be more connected, better acquainted, and more collegial in ministry. The first of those events was one of the sessions of the Bishop's Leadership Academy for Clergy Excellence, which is a monthly gathering of 25 younger clergy and 5 "veteran" clergy in a mutual mentoring process. This is the second such group, and both last year's group and this year's group have been great....
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