Transformation

Transformation

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Transformers!

Did you hear? The new Transformers movie is coming out and people are so excited that many are camping out in front of the theater to buy the first tickets. Guess what? I will not be sleeping in the parking lot waiting for tickets. I love transformation but I am not crazy about this particular type of Transformers.

But there are a number of transformation sequences that do get my juices flowing. In fact, if I am reading the New Testament correctly, our primary job is the seeking and receiving of transformation that comes through the love of God. We are to "love the Lord" "love our neighbor" and "make disciples of all nations"... those themes are all about transformation.

While I am especially interested in how the love of God can change our spirits...I am also interested in other types of transformation. Let me show you what Sue and I have been doing the last couple of days. Typically I would avoid "bathroom" photos but here goes:

It started out as as a fairly nice bathroom in our new home. It was OK but it needed a bit of help. So, out goes the cabinet, up comes the floor, off goes the sheet rock, but the tub is cast iron! Finally it is down to the studs and ready to be rebuilt. The tub will become a large tile shower with some cool details, the floor will also be ceramic tile, and the cabinet /sink combo will get a fresh look. Before long, it will be transformed.

Isn't that the way it goes? It seems all lasting transformation starts with a bit of tear down before the rebuilding can begin. Not "tear down" like destroy or wound....but "tear down" as in confession, repentance and forgiveness. When those three are in strong connection with each other, the Lord has the opportunity to rebuild with great joy and wonderful results.

In the end, people who once were self focused become servants to others. People who found identity in holding on to everything discover the beauty of generosity. You get the picture! God loves transformation!

I could use a fresh dose of divine transformation myself! How about you

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Beauty of Grand Junction

If you are traveling along I-70 headed west toward the Utah boarder you will experience the beauty of the Colorado River. It sweeps through Glenwood Canyon on the way to the incredible depth of the Grand Canyon. Along the way it provides the fullness of life for everything in it's path. The Grand Valley is just one recipient of that abundance.

It is amazing. The entire valley is surrounded by wonderful mesas that shift from dry of dry to lush and beautiful. Throughout the valley you will find evidence of divine activity. The fruit of the vine, the fruit of the tree, the resources of the earth, and the joy of people. Many of those people are folks of faith and a many are fellow United Methodists. Those fellow sojourners were our hosts for the 2009 session of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference.

It was a time or renewal and celebration. It was fresh and joyful as our new Bishop led us in worship and encouraged us in the faith. Bishop Elaine has a spirit that shifts from a very easy smile and a quick sense of humor to the seriousness and strength of significant leadership. She will do well and we will be blessed.

The Annual Conference session is one of the significant touch points when it comes to the fullness of the United Methodist appointment system. Each year, the Bishop is charged with the responsibility of making appointments and "setting" them through the formal process of reading the appointments at Annual Conference. I was blessed to stand as my name was called in relation to the Wilson United Methodist Church. It is one more part on our journey of transition.

Rev. Keith Watson was called on to "pass the torch" from the retired clergy community to the newly ordained servants. His service to the church has been (and will continue to be) a very significant part of our United Methodist family. The transition for Keith and Mary Ann is very important and they deserve our faithful prayers and our full support.

Meanwhile, we all continue to move toward a full transition. Typically that transition actually takes at least one full year...often more! It is about moving in, learning the people and traditions, praying for direction, seeking the vision of God, and building trust one relationship at a time.

From a congregational side it is often a time of uncertainty. Who is this new guy? What will happen next? Is this safe? Is it right? Will it all work out? I understand those questions better than ever since Sue and I just completed a term as "congregation members" under the leadership of a new pastor. Here's what I learned...God is in control! And the Lord has a wonderful way of bringing things together under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. It will be good and we are looking forward to getting started!

Peace and blessing to you all as you share worship together and honor the ministry of the Watson family. Give them your best, don't miss the opportunity to worship, celebrate the Spirit and join together in a spirit of hope!

The river runs and the vineyard is lush!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


It is time for Annual Conference! We are here in Grand Junction Colorado where our Rocky Mountain Annual Conference is being held this year at the downtown Convention Center.

All is well after a 5 hour drive from Limon. We went to Limon on Tuesday so Ana could stay with our daughter, son-in-law and their family. Here's the interesting part. Three of our grandkids in Limon are full siblings of Ana's. So, our daughter's siblings are our grandchildren. Strange!

Anyway, even though the focus is on the Annual Conference...it is an unusual time for the two of us. It is has been several years since Sue and I have been together over night on our own without Ana. It feels a little empty but it is nice to have the time together. We will all be reconnected on Sunday but for now ... she will enjoy the time with family and we will enjoy the time with each other.

Since my last post I loaded up a rental truck with my office stuff in Wilmore - drove two days to Colorado Springs - reconnected with Sue and Ana - and unloaded the office stuff at the church. My thanks to Jim, Dennis, George, and Dick for their help with all my stuff. My apology to the class that meets in the classroom right across from Cindy's office. It has become my temporary store room for more stuff than one person should need in a life time. Thanks for being patient with this transition process.

We are looking forward to July 1st when we will officially get started at the church. Meanwhile, we celebrate with you as Keith and Mary Ann wrap up their time at Wilson UMC. July 5 will be our first Sunday together. I have invited Keith and Mary Ann to join us for that worship experience so we can celebrate communion together as we pass the baton.

We are also looking forward to the opportunity to get to know you and your family. The SPRC is working to set up some meeting times when we can gather groups of people so we can have some introductory conversations. It will be good.

Meanwhile, we pray the Lord's blessing upon you and your family. Stay tuned, I will try to add more posts as we get closer to the first of July. Peace!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Father Elias (on the left) is the new Abbot at the Abbey of Gethsemani in central Kentucky. He is the senior temporal and spiritual leader with responsibility for the largest and oldest Trappist monastery in the United States. He is new to the job but a long time member of the monastic community that is located outside of Bardstown.

Over the years I have spent my fair share of time at Gethsemani. In fact, I was there most of yesterday. It is always a delightfully quiet and reflective experience to share worship with the monks and to walk the lush and peaceful grounds. My soul responds to the spirit of the place. I am captured by the commitment of the monks and the desire to know God through worship, work and study. I find peace here.

It is interesting to identify the places that become holy ground for our journey of faith. There are places and people who encourage us, lift us, and provide blessing just by being present. I hope you have some of those people and places that have become marking points for your spiritual life. Maybe a friend, a teacher, a neighbor or a pastor...perhaps a building, a church, a meadow, a cabin, or a temple where your spirit soars when you walk through the door.

I think I enjoy the Trappist community for the same reason I am captivated by the Methodist movement in South Korea. They all expect God to move in the world through the power of prayer. The anticipate the ministry of the Holy Spirit simply because faithful people have expressed their heart through deeply committed prayer. For Trappist communities it happens seven times each day starting at 3:15 in the morning. For the Korean Christians it is all about early morning prayer groups that gather seven days a week to provide intercession for each other, the church, and the world.

Interesting, God moves when people pray. Ministry become effective when it is under girded with prayer. Life becomes connected to the spiritual when faithful believers offer their hearts in consistent communication with God.

It is always a potent reminder to me. It is all about God...it is all about our faith...it is all about the journey that is connected through commitment and obedience.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday, Monday!

It is Monday morning and I am back in Wilmore. Sue and Ana are in Colorado Springs where they can look down our street to see a fresh covering of snow on Pikes Peak. For our Colorado friends, that sight is all too normal. But our Kentucky friends will find a bit of awe in seeing the beauty of God's backyard. Happy Monday to all!

Some of you will remember the Mama's and the Papa's and the song Monday Monday. Others will hear John, Michelle, Denny and Cass as just another list of strange first names.

For those who know the tune, you will remember that the "preacher likes the cold...he knows I'm gonna stay." It is a story about a Monday morning journey that finds a lost soul stopping by a church to find shelter. We don't hear the end of the story to find out if the preacher was pleased with the encounter or if a conversation every even took place. We just know that the church became a place of refuge.

My lasting encounter with the church didn't happen on a Monday morning but it was definitely a place of refuge. In my journey, the church shifted from a place to be avoided at all cost to a loving home were hope and transformation had been waiting all the time.

It started at the First Methodist Church in Golden, Colorado where my parents attended and were I was confirmed. My confirmation commitment didn't last long. In fact, I physically, spiritually, and emotionally left the church the evening of my confirmation banquet. From the ripe old age of 13, through the turbulence of teenage years, on into young adulthood...I was an active and intentional non-believer. I was an "evangelistic" atheist with a mission of discovering personal identity through the lens of the contemporary self-actualization and the life style of a mental health professional.

Then came March 22, 1975 when Sue and I were married in a small ceremony at my parents home. Things changed! We left the mental health community and set out on our own to find the world. We actually found it (the whole world!) in a small town on the Eastern plains of Colorado. The 'city' of Genoa came on our radar. Little did we know that Genoa would become our new residence and our life long spiritual home.

In good mid-70's tradition (read: left over 60's) we sold everything and started over. We bought a building in downtown Genoa on the corner of Main and Kunkle Streets and started a new life. 'Monday Monday' was catching up with us!

Our building became the home of 'Jessen's Sunshine Market' (name after Sunshine On My Shoulders by John Denver). The back of the Main and Kunkle property provided a small living area while the second floor featured a 60 X 60 hard wood floor ballroom. Rumor has it that Glenn Miller (from the University of Colorado) and his big band played in the Genoa ballroom years ago! It was a beautiful building even though the roof leaked a bit. As it turns out, all 'Monday Monday' experiences require a reasonable amount of unexpected water!

Ultimately, we found spiritual water and the joy of new life through the ministry of the Genoa United Methodist Church that was just down the street on Main past the Post Office. It became our home and the epicenter for an earth shaking transformation. God had been preparing the way!

It was the first Sunday after Easter when we entered the doors of the Genoa church. I remember looking around thinking that everyone knew I did not qualify to be present of Sunday morning. I could read their minds...I knew that they knew that my motives were not pure. I was searching for something but my mind was focused on feeding my family by inviting people to buy bread and mile at the Sunshine Market. We needed to make a living and these people were potential customers. I didn't realize that they were seeing me in a different light. They didn't see the customer relations staff from the Sunshine Market down the street, they saw someone who just needed to be loved. So they did. They loved us right into the Kingdom! We owe our lives to the Lord and to the Christian community at the end of Main Street in Genoa, Colorado!

It all happened fairly fast from that point. Commitments were made, the waters of baptism were applied, and the journey began. The first stop included a quick trip to Metropolitan State College to finish my undergraduate degree. Step two called for a move to a place called Wilmore Kentucky were we spent three formational years at Asbury Theological Seminary. Step three (these are big steps) provided an encounter with Bishop Melvin Wheatley who appointed us to serve at the Fort Mogran United Methodist Church where we would test drive our faith, enthusiasm, and life journey with a wonderful group of young people.

From there it was on to Longs Peak UMC in Longmont, nine years in Broomfield, service at First UMC in Colorado Springs, and then back to Wilmore to serve as the Dean of the Beeson International Center on the Asbury campus. Now the journey continues as we prepare to serve the people of the Wilson United Methodist Church.

The church is still our refuge. It is still the call of God that motivates our foot steps. And it all started (if you don't count the eternal journey of previent grace) with a little group of ultra loving people at the end of Main Street in Genoa, Colorado.

The Monday Monday theme might leave you wondering when it comes to "don't trust that day" ... for Sue and I ... Monday Monday is always a day to trust, discover, and grow under the loving guidance of the Lord.

How's your Monday going?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On The Road to Wisdom?

OK, I have a confession to make. No, not that kind of confession. I need to confess that this is a really strange world and that unusual things have been happening. I am guessing you could make the same confession on some Sunday morning when you are trying to get the kids ready for church or when you are applying the brake while a red light flashes in your rear view mirror. Strange things happen.

For me, the heart of the confession has to do with wisdom. The Book of Proverbs draws a strong focus on the nature of wisdom. "Wisdom calls aloud in the streets...how long will you simple ones love your simple ways?" (Proverbs 1:21-22 condensed). Wisdom has do do with complex things, mysteries, relationships, and knowing the heart of God. Sometime we catch a glimpse of grace and in that moment we grow in our understanding of Godly wisdom. The pursuit of Godly wisdom becomes a potent goal for the individual and for the Christan community gathered as the Body of Christ.

But my wisdom story is a bit different. You see, in late may my lower right wisdom tooth started to talk to me. You know the story. It talks loud, then soft, but mostly at night. I went to the friendly local dentist who knew that I was getting ready to pack a truck and make a cross country move. He said, 'wow, that should come out!' But there was no time so he gave me some meds, offered a blessing, and sent me on my way.

By the time we were driving 1200 miles from Wilmore to Colorado Springs...it was a talking, no it was providing a running commentary on the nature of temptation. The pain was like trying to give a Great Dane a bath in the kitchen sink...it is bearable but it always leaves a huge mess, lots of anxiety and a few choice words. Thank God I was driving alone!

Bottom line, I finally got an appointment with an oral surgeon and as of 1:00 today I am now short two lower wisdom teeth. The pain is now different but it is still a reminder that there is much more to wisdom than just knowing the right thing to do. Wisdom is about patience, a loving family, and people who are skilled at a wide variety of skills.

Back to Proverbs--- Chapter two reminds us that the Lord loves wisdom. The Lord especially loves those who love wisdom. The Lord loves us all but there is a special relationship that begins to grow with new insights into the nature of wisdom. "Then you will understand what is right and just and fair - every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul." Proverbs 2:9-10

I am still learning about Godly wisdom. I am grateful that the Lord used the skilled hands of an oral surgeon to teach me patience. More so I am eternally thankful for a wonderful family who demonstrated grace upon grace. They are my teachers and I am doing my best to learn.

I pray that the Lord is teaching you something new today as you walk the path of faith and continue your journey of hope.