Transformation

Transformation

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Parents and Children

Several years ago I was blessed to serve as a volunteer chaplain at Longmont United Hospital in Longmont, Colorado.  My friend Ralph (Episcopal Priest extraordinaire) and I both lived within two blocks of the hospital so we were on call most of the time.

Most of the time we responded to everything from life and death issues to someone who was having problems sleeping that night and wanted to talk with someone.   There was no way to know that was on the other end of the pager.

I remember one particular page like it was yesterday.  It was late in the afternoon on a school day.  I remember arriving at the hospital and experiencing a huge flurry of activity.  I soon learned that we were facing a very critical situation.  A school bus had crashed while delivering children  in the area.  The news was out that the bus had rolled and at least one child was dead.

The bus crash took place in Boulder canyon just west of the City of Boulder but the kids were being distributed to a four different hospitals in the area.  Some were severely injured while others simply had cuts and bruises. 

The Longmont hospital had already received 6 to 8 elementary aged children.  My assignment was to greet families at the door to help them locate their children.  I was armed with a list of the children who were at our hospital but we had no information about the other locations or the children who had been triaged to the various facilities.

By the time the first family arrived the place was being overrun by reporters.  The 9News helicopter had landed on the lawn and there was noise and comotion everywhere.  

I will never forget the first family that arrived.  Mom was arriving from her home in Boulder and dad was close behind.  They ran to the entrance with eyes that were searching for some sign of hope.  Fear and the anxiety of the moment had rightly captured them fully.  They were thinking the worst and hoping for the best.

I met them on the sidewalk.  Our goal was to calm their spirits and to help them locate their child without letting them in the facility if their child was not there.  They were a picture of panic.

Their child was not on my list.  The only thing I could do was to identify the other hospitals and to send them back to their cars so they could continue their search.  Neither of them was in shape to drive so a Longmont Police officer offered to take them to Boulder Memorial Hospital.  I could only pray that their little boy would be there.  We knew one child was dead.  I prayed that it would not be their child while knowing that the child of some loving parent was going to receive some very bad news on that day.

Meanwhile, the next and the next and the next families arrived with the same panicked look in their eyes.  There was no mistaking who the parents were.  They were all thinking the same thing and wanting the same information.  Parents need their children and children need their parents.

Last week, in Newtown, Connecticut, parents arrived at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Panic, pain, unbelievable grief accompanied each mother, father, grandparent, and friend. 

Parents and children...God bless the wonderful joyful moments.  Lord Jesus, walk through the days when the whole world seems to be empty and dark.  "For the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light..."   May it be so. May it be so.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Office ~ Study ~ Place

I am a very fortunate guy.  I have a great work space at the church and now I have an office at home.  But maybe you can help me.  I really don't want it to be an 'office.'  That sounds so formal and implies that work must be actually done in that space.

I like Pastoral Study.  But I don't like workplace, headquarters, or administrative center.  In monastic life it would be a cell.  As an writer, it would be a studio.  If I painted on stretched canvas it could be my gallery or a creative center.  If I were a jeweler it would be the location of my work bench with burned in dots of gold and maybe a little diamond dust.

It could be a hide-a-way, a hermitage, or an arcade.  If I was rich, it would be a den. I guess it could be a nest, a lair, a hideaway, or even a cave. No, I don't think so.  It will just be my spot.  Not a like a stain or a smudge, but my spot where all is well in the world.  Drop in sometime.  Just turn left past the living room.  I'll leave the light on!

Thanks Suzi!

Singing with the Strings

It took longer than I thought to complete The Sign of Jonas but I hit the finish line early this morning.  What a ride!  I would highly recommend the 1947 - 1952 journal of Fr. M. Louis Merton. 

We all know him best as Thomas Merton even though he was simply born as Tom to Owen and Ruth.  His religious name of Father M. Louis takes him back to 1250 and the only sainted King of France.  The M. puts him in alinement with every Trappist Monk (and a long line of religious vocations) who carry the same first name.  It is the eternal connection to Mary the mother of Jesus.  Father Mary Louis Merton,  Father Louie to his monastic friends, Thomas Merton to the publishing world.

The cross on his grave at the Abbey of Gethsemani simply says  Fr. Louis Merton  Died  Dec. 10, 1968. He rests at the foot of a large and beautiful cedar that stands below the ancient bell tower that calls the community to worship and prayer seven times each day.

Merton is well know as a contemporary mystic who focused on contemplative prayer.  His journal entries in The Sign of Jonas take him through his ordination as a priest, to his leadership as the Novice Master, and on to a wonderful reflection called Fire Watch, July 4, 1952.  Along the way, he speaks frequently about the nature of prayer.

On March 21, 1950 he shared an insight that continues to resonate in my mind.  Prayer comes in many forms.  Sometimes it is public, a part of the literary, or quiet, perhaps personal and private, maybe even formal and ritualized. But it is all flows from the heart of God through the activity of the Holy Spirit.

He says that the various types and styles of prayer represent the same Spirit of God playing different strings of the same instrument.  You are the instrument, the Holy Spirit is the musician, and the harmony of prayer that results is centered in God. 

Merton doesn't offer this invitation, but I will.  Make your music count!  Enter into the concert of human desire as often as possible.  The harmony of your heart will create the symphony of creation.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Sign of Jonas


Cover Sign of Jonas 1953

I just finished a pair of Beeson Center courses that were focused on the spiritual formation of Christian leaders.  One of the class groups was filled with North American pastors while the second had an enrollment of international Christian leaders from ten different countries. 

My effort was to filter their personal experience of Christian growth through the lens of folks like Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, E. Stanley Jones, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Mother Theresa, C.S. Lewis and the like.  I also confess that my personal experience seeps through from time to time like a dim light under a closed door.

Merton and the Trappist rule of life becomes the centerpiece of the conversation.  It happens that way because I get to decide who will achieve the priority position.  John Maxwell would say, "Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less."  Merton at the threshold is my way of influencing the conversation!  No secret there.

I am also getting ready for an upcoming group that I will be leading at the Benet Hill Monastery between Parker and Colorado Springs. www.benethillmonestery.org   I will be doing "A Day With Merton" in January and a six week segment in their contemporary mystics series.

To get ready I am reading and rereading the key Merton biographies and some of his core work.  Right now, I am engaged with The Sign of Jonas.  It is his journal that starts with Advent 1946 and goes through January of 1952.

The copy I am reading is just as interesting as the actual text that I am engaging.  It is an original copy from 1953.  It is not a first edition but it must be very close to the earliest publication.  The inside cover shows a famous black and white photo of Merton walking through the woods at Gethsemani.  Just inside the first page is a library stamp from the Carmelite Monestery of Waverly, New York.  If you turn the next page it has a second library stamp from the Discalced Carmelite Fathers at 514 Warren Street in Brookline, Mass. 

I don't know if it started life  with the Carmelites in New York our with the Fathers in Massachusetts and I don't know where it will go from here.  But I do know where it calls home today.

On May 4, 1947 (six months and one day before I was born!) Merton wrote a prayer.  His journals are filled with reflections, insights, and the daily events of Trappist life within the cloister of Gethsemani Abbey.  But on this day, he wrote a prayer.

You have made my soul for Your peace and Your silence, but it is lacerated by the noise of my activity and my desires.  My mind is crucified all day by its own hunger for experience, for ideas, for satisfaction.  And I do not possess my house in silence.

But I was created for Your peace and You will not despise my longing for the holiness of Your deep silence.  O my Lord, You will not leave me forever in this sorrow, because I have trusted in You and I will wait upon Your good pleasure in peace without complaining any more.  This, for Your glory.

 Even though I was being knit together in my mother's womb...I pray that my soul will intersect with the spirit of this prayer.

Friday, October 5, 2012

First Snow!

Skiers will jump and shout.  Travelers will say 'Oh No!"  The Colorado Chamber of Commerce will offer a fist pump.  But the rest of us will just say, 'Yep, it is Colorful Colorado, and we love it!"

October 5 and we have our first hint of snow and cold.  Of course it will be 60 degrees tomorrow and 70 by the weekend!  So don't fret for us.  (That may be a good title for a country song!)

Actually, it really is a great joy to reaffirm that God has a plan for creation.  The sun rises, the moon glows, and the seasons change.  It is all within the rhythm of creation that demonstrates the harmony of the Lord of Life.  I am grateful!

Some of us have actually been talking about how we develop an attitude of gratitude.  It too is a gift from God.  Like all of creation, our attitude is a gift that we receive so it can be shared with others.  Don't you just love living in a spirit of gratitude!

I remember an old friend from days gone by.  Every time I would ask, "How are you today?"   his response was always the same signature (and painful) reply...."Terrible" he would say.  At first, I smiled.  Then I thought, 'wow, what a bummer!"   Then I just stopped asking because I already knew the response.  The result was not a model of Christian brotherhood.  In fact, I felt compelled to stay clear of his attitude even if he thought it was a cute and clever signature response.

The opposite that "terrible" was my uncle Jess.  In most circles he was better known as "never had a better day" Jessen.  How are you Jess, "never had a better day!"  Funny thing is, he really meant it!
What a gift to live in a spirit of gratitude. 

Today, I am grateful for snow and the hand of God that directs the flow of creation!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Movements of the Heart

Is your faith shaped by movement?  Is  it growing?  Does it have direction?  Are you seeing the hand of God drawing your forward?

These questions (and many more) are central to the journey we call the Flow of Faith.  Faith was never intended to stand still.  It is a gift of God that was designed to be motivated by grace and enhanced by our internal desire to offer a life that is pleasing to God.

It all starts with our internal ability to hear the invitation of God.  It moves to our willingness to say Yes to that invitation.  That 'divine yes' (see E. Stanley Jones!) will motivate us to grow in the knowledge and likeness of Christ.  Before long, we will discover a place to serve and a way to express our gratitude to the Lord.  It is a movement of the heart and it pleases God!

Each day gives us a new opportunity to please the Lord.  Some days are better than others!  We can all acknowledge days when we know we did not fulfill our potential in Christ.  Then there are other days we we know in our inner being that God has been directing our steps so we can grow closer to the heart of God.  It is a flow of faith that results in movement at the heart level.

Last week I had the unique opportunity to spend several days with a group of remarkable Christian leaders.  They came from Russia, Romania, Bosnia, Hong Kong, Korea, Nigeria, Kenya, England, India, and even one from the good ole' USA!   They spoke hope into my life because I could see God moving through their ministry journey.  I could see the church coming alive.  I could experience the growing flow of faith through their words and their faithful gift of discipleship.

But the flow of faith (the movement of the heart) is not just for Christian leaders.  It is for you and for me.  It is a gift for every believer.  John 1 says that 'for those who believed, he gave the right to become children of God.'  As children of God the 'right' to our inheritance is the gift of growth.  It is a gift that is offered with a wonderful sense of abundance.

It is your gift, have you received it?  Did you get the package God sent your way?  Go ahead, open it!  It is the gift of movement and that comes complete with a plan for growth.  Grow a step today!  Why not!  It is a gift!

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Step in the Next Direction

I was walking to the church the other day when I discovered that I was silently and inadvertently counting my foot steps.  What a strange thing to do.  Then I thought about the hill that goes up Flying Ranch Road.  Every time I climbed it on my bike, I would count to 100 over and over with each turn of the pedal.

Highway 24 on the way to Limon has another one of those 'counting' hills.  It is just outside of Matheson as you elevate to the real high plains.  It too requires a 'count' to 100 technique to keep me on task.  So counting my footsteps shouldn't be so unusual.

Footsteps are interesting.  They get us from one place to the next, they demonstrate our desire to move forward, and they go forward much easier than they go backward.  The life of a Chritian happens one step at a time.  Some run, others tend to stand still, but true faith is always lived out on the move.

I mentioned that each year I evaluate my 'next steps' for my journey of faith.  I take time each January to evaluate, update, and renew my commitment to growth.  Here is my 'next steps' plan for 2012:


Personal Rule of Life
Randy Jessen
2012

 Inward Disciplines

1.         Morning prayer and meditation seeking God’s will for my personal and professional life.
2.         Daily prayer for family, staff, lay leadership, and general intercession.
3.         Daily study of the Scriptures that are outside teaching and preaching responsibilities.


Outward Disciplines

1.         Seek increased ways to simplify life style in accordance with the Gospel.
2.         Set aside specific time of solitude outside designated time for personal prayer.
3.         Continue support of Walk to Emmaus.
4.         Work to develop a strong positive missional relationship with the Methodist Church in Costa Rica, Haiti and the Global Hope ministry in Romania


Continuing Education Goals

1.         Participate in at least one major conference on congregational life, preaching or leadership.
2.         Develop time for Gethsemani retreat
3.         Create a continuing education event for pastors and lay leaders related to prayer and spiritual formation.
4.         Read at least one new book each week related to leadership, spiritual formation, church development, stewardship, or vision.


Service Goals

1.         Continue service on the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry
2.         Be available for relational conversations with younger pastors
3.         Support the Asbury community through teaching, creating the Houston event, dissertation mentor, financial stewardship, student support, and student development

           
Personal Goals

1.         Ride at least 1500 bicycle miles on Old Blue in 2012 or new version
2.         Develop and ride at least one significant tour in 2012
3.         Stay in touch with my physical health through indoor / outdoor riding, time at the fitness center, and healthy eating habits


What's next for you?  Are there some footsteps on your horizon?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Miracles!

Many of you know our daughter Ana.  Here she is with one of her friends at a dance.  She loves to dance!  I usually call her Anababe but each day seems to bring a new name of affection and joy.  She is a gem!

You can read about her early life and our personal journey in the book titled Ana's Voice: When God Speaks Through A Silent Child.  There are copies in the church library or you can get an official Ana autographed copy by stopping in at my office or sending me an email.

But this is not about selling books, it is about miracles.  Ana is our miracle.  She was fragile and frail as an infant but today she is full of life.

One of the major obstacles she faced as a child was a small amount of contaminated blood.  There were lots to nasty things floating around in that blood but the most significant element was a cluster of cells that are make up something called Human Immunodeficiency Virus.  Most of us just call it HIV.

I remember 1984 when Ana arrived here in our home.  Many folks were scared.  Those were days of fear that was stirred by a lack of information.  HIV/AIDS simply meant death.  And no one really wanted to be around.  Even the brave were a bit frightened.  But Ana is a really great teacher. She smiles with a shy grin. She didn't know that her blood was deadly or that people found her a tad intimidating.  She was just trying her best to make sense out of a life that was turned upside down with a move from a Romanian orphanage to a home in Colorado.

Then along came Dr. Myron Levin and the Denver Children's Hospital CHIP Team.  They developed a plan, started on a course of treatment, studied every step, and became a core part of our support system.  Today, 18 years later, they are still standing with us every step of the journey.

Dr. Levin designed a sequence of medications that were administered with great care and monitored each month.  The medications all do something just a little bit different but on the whole they stop the virus from attaching and attacking the T Cell that allows the immunize system to be healthy.

For Ana that looks like this twice each day without fail.  She says it it 'yucky' and she is absolutely correct.  But it keeps her healthy so she never misses a dose.  Kaletra, abacavir, epivir, specific vitamins, and a really unique diet are all a part of the miracle.

Isn't that the way miracles happen?  People like Myron work with the tools of the trade and God does the rest.  Miracles typically don't happen without some interaction between people.  I think we could call that relational theology!  God uses you, me, and folks like Myron to accomplish a demonstration of love that we simply call a miracle.

Sue and I used to have a little sign in the kitchen.  I liked it a lot.  It said, "A coincidence is when God performs a miracle and chooses to remain anonymous." 

Are you a part of the relational theology that is lived out through the anonymous coincidence of God?


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Connections!

The last six weeks have been an adventure!  During that time I was in Kentucky for one week with a group of students.  The rest of the time Sue and I have been working hard to keep up with the calendar.  Each day (almost) we wake up and check to see where we are going that particular day and what time folks are expecting us to arrive.

We have been meeting with groups throughout the church.  Mostly in home gathering where gracious families are opening their living rooms to 10-15 of their friends.

So far (we have a couple more to go), we have met with 18 different groups.  The gatherings have covered every age group, each part of the community, and about every area of interest you might imagine.  It has been wonderful to make connections with so many people.

So what have we learned?  Here are some highlights...
  • Many folks are exited about being a part of a small group and hope that more groups are created so the congregation can develop strong relationships
  • Several have expressed a deep interest in the youth and children of the church.  They are excited about what is currently happening and wonder what it would be like to have more children and youth
  • Some have been interested in what is happening so we can get on solid financial ground
  • Others have expressed a desire to strengthen of facility through the development of more (and larger) classrooms, paving the parking lots, and creating a plan for friends who are disabled
  • We heard loud and clear about a desire to have a van that could be used for the XYZ group as well as youth events and Sunday morning transportation
  • There was a very strong interest in learning how I saw the future of the church unfolding.  I can say it in one word, endless!  Only limited by our desire, design, or decision making
  • We had a number of folks who were interested in a growing mission ministry within the congregation
  • And still others were interested in the worship opportunities that we offer to the community
The groups ranged in size from eight individuals to our largest that had over fifty gathered at the church so we could provide stronger child care.  The average group was 12-15 members strong.  Most were hosted in homes with gracious individuals making it happen. 

From the bottom of our hearts, Sue and I give thanks for every host home and for every person who came out to hear our story and to think together about the church.  It has been a wonderful blessing.  We are delighted to be here!

BTW: Genese and Linda really went the extra mile to make it all come together!  Thanks!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Early in the Day

It is early.  For me, it is the best time of the day. I know that does not fit for everyone.  For many, the early morning hours are only good for sleeping and then trying hard to wake up.  The late evening and really early morning hours are best for them.  They are creative, insightful, and energized when the clock shifts from PM to AM with the midnight hour.

But my best hours are in the morning.  Before sunrise is always the sweet spot.  It is a time to pray and a time to think.  I jot down ideas, thoughts, and must-do's on  a list before setting out for the day. 

Just a few days ago I had a quick conversation with Brother Christian at the Abbey of Gethsemani.  I happened to bump into him on the sidewalk that leads to the retreat house.  It was early morning just after the full break of dawn.  We shook hands in silence.  Then he spoke.  The first words of a Trappist monk are always interesting.  "Great time of day,"  he said.  "Yes, beautiful."  "I saw your bus, how many do you have." "Ten this time.  I will be back next month with ten more."  "May God bless them with a beautiful day of prayer."  He climbed into the Abbey pick-up and gave a quick wave as he drove away.  We hadn't spoken for almost four years.  We may not speak ever again.  But it was indeed a beautiful day.

The dawn is beautiful.  The early morning air is something to behold.  A fresh sunrise will refresh my spirit. But it is the gift of relationship that gives meaning and value to each new day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day By Day

The stage drama called Godspel hit the live theater scene in 1971.  It lives today through productions large and small.  At the center is the life and teachings of Jesus with a bit of a 'left-over-60's' twist.  There is truth and personal interpretation that sometimes helps and sometimes hinders the full presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the center of the story is a song called Day by Day.  The song plays host to a refrain that recaptures the words of a 13th century prayer.  Dear Lord, these things I pray...

May I know Thee more clearly, Love Thee more dearly, Follow Thee more nearly.

Years ago, I started wrestling with classic spiritual disciplines.  I launched a journey that would lead me to an experience with Jesus that has been sustaining for decades.  In many ways my experiment with the disciplines of the church reflect the words of the prayer that became a song.  These three things, O Lord, I pray; to know you more clearly, to love you more dearly, and to follow you more nearly.  

Some might call it the CDN of the Christian life.  It is the core of daily devotions and the center of faithful lives that are lived out around the world.  Clearly, Dearly, Nearly are three words that add value to our spiritual vocabulary.

My friend Will Mancini says that "Clarity isn't everything, but it changes everything."  That is true when it comes to living out a vision for the church and it is true when plotting a course for the spiritual life. Clarity in the way we see and seek Jesus will make all the difference.

Dearly, talks about relationship.  It is a loving relationship that is growing each day.  Wouldn't you want to describe your relationship with Jesus in this way?   Would that word be a part of your testimony of faith?  To love God with passion, conviction, and with a spirit of hope ... that is the goal.

Then there is the language of proximity.  To follow you more nearly.  I don't want to be left behind.  I don't want Jesus to get out of sight or out of mind.  I want to stay on track, to stay close, to draw ever closer because while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

CDN is a day-by-day process.  Day by day, these things I pray...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Process of Prayer

I spent most of last week thinking about, talking about, and experiencing prayer.  It was a beautiful week.   We knelt before God and echoed the words of Ephesians 3:14-15.  "For this reason (we had lots of reasons) I kneel before the Father from his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name."

We prayed about family, places of ministry, and vision for the future.  We invited God into our space and made commitments of grace to one another.  We offered words of Scripture as acts of praise.  And we were silent so we could hear clearly from God.

I have always been intrigued with the reality that our natural form of prayer is not something that was common in the early church.  In fact, our current worship experiences often separate prayer into a particular liturgical category that is separate from the reading of Scripture.  Is is as though we read the Word to receive instruction but we pray to share our lives and receive blessing.

The early church was different.  When Benedict wrote his 'little rule for beginners' there was no thought that prayer and Scripture would ever be separate liturgical elements.  In fact, prayer was the act of reading the Word.  So the Psalms would be sung and the people automatically knew that prayer had been offered.  And the connection with God had been made.

Maybe we should shift back to that pattern.  What do you think?  Could we simply read the Word in a way that allowed everyone to know that God had just spoken into their lives?  Could we digest the pages of Scripture so we would be nourished in our spirits?

For this reason (so our spirits can be nourished) I kneel before the Father...

BTW: To my BPNR partners in prayer...keep up the good work!  And thanks for your prayers!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I've been lately thinking...

I am sure there are a handful of people out there who will remember a young man named Henry John Deutschendorf Jr.  Maybe you will remember him best as a folk singer who called himself John Denver.  Ah, yes, Far Out!

John Denver wrote a song called Poems, Prayers and Promises.  It was recorded on an album of the same title and released in April of 1971.  Ah, yes, those were the days.

The song was an autobiographical reflection.  The lyrics were a journey through Denver's memory of people and places in his life.  The song starts of in a very reflective mode: I've been lately thinking
about my life's time all the things I've done and how it's been... 


I have been in that same frame of mind over the last couple of weeks.  I've been lately thinking...

  • About all the people we have been blessed to know and serve.  My journey of reflection always takes the path of congregations we have served...Fort Morgan, Longs Peak, Broomfield, First Colorado Springs, Wilson, and now the Parker family of faith.  What a gift each group has been in our lives!  There are so many individuals we have known and loved.  Each one has added significantly to our lives.  We have served together in mission, laughed together at tables, cried together around loss, and learned to love one another as people who are committed to grow in our faith.  Thank you...( I name you in my heart )!
  • About the way God has shaped our lives around experiences that challenge, encourage, and grow our spirits.  Shiprock, Arad, San Jose, Port au Prince and a thousand places in between.  But the place is just a gathering spot where relationships can be nurtured into bloom and fruit.  So the mission of the church provides a garden that grows and flourishes with the tending of a trellis made of hands and hearts connected by faith.
  • About the assurance God has provided along the journey.  Assurance that we are serving and investing in the right place at the right time.  I confess, there have been times when I have wondered if our wanderings have been productive and if they have all been centered in the will of God.  But as soon as I lift the question in my heart...along come the mystery of the incarnation that provides the power of assurance once again.
So I've been lately thinking.  It is good to reflect.  I talk to students about a three fold process of reflection, integration, and application as we look at our physical and relations journey of faith.  Without looking back, we will never know where we have been...or at least we will not see the fullness of the journey that is only revealed in the fullness of time.

Poems, Prayers, and Promises...not a bad sequence!  Amen.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

House of Hope

Some of you have been there!  Others have heard the story.  Still others are new to the journey of the House of Hope in Arad, Romania.

It all started with this group of kids.  They are off to counquer the world with new winter gear that arrived in the form of a Christmas gift under a tree.  They are standing at the door way at the House of Hope.  They were excited!

That was 14 years ago.  Today, the same group of kids are young adults who are going off to graduating from High School and going off to college.  Things have changed!  They started off as abandoned children who were lost into the orphanage system.  They were scared when they arrived in the care of Global Hope but today they are confident and beautiful.  Their witness of faith is wonderful.

Today, they are living in a variety of settings and the House of Hope is being repurposed from a group home to a preschool / kindergarten.  It will open this fall with a whole new use but with the same laughter that has always blessed the walls.

The facility itself was once a small family farm house with a barn across the small courtyard.  The remodel of a 100 year old home was quite a trick.  But faithful folks made it happen.

Today the facility is in need of a new roof so the new school ministry can be officially licensed and the kids can be safe and dry.  We are committed to making that new roof happen.

A new roof will cost about $8000 with a full long term rebuild.

You could be a part of the process.  Any donation would help.  Just email me and I will tell you how and share the positive impact your gift can make.

Flavius, Gaby, Mircea, and Teo have all outgrown the group home that the House of Hope provided over the last 14 years.  Now it is time for a new adventure, complete with a new roof!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Early Morning Rides

Some of you will know that I enjoy early morning bicycle rides.  It is cool, quiet, unhurried, and I love to see the sun emerge for a new day.  Some of you will also know that the last few months have not been ideal for early morning rides.  In fact, they have been almost nonexistent.  I could claim lack of time, the impact of a significant life transition, or any one of a number of other excuses.  John Maxwell says that excuses are the 'off ramp of life'!

The real truth lies in motivation and implementation.  It just hasn't happened and (sort of like Jimmy Buffet) I have no one to blame but myself.  Until today.

What a great day to ride.  55 degrees at 5:30 A.  An uninhabited trail system that is mostly flat!  And a beautiful sunrise that burst over Hilltop Road while I was rounding the curve behind the KOA tower.

It was a reminder of days gone by.  Do you ever long to recapture parts of the past so the future can feel better?  It is a part of the healing process.  We don't want to live in the past but it is good to recapture the good things of yesterday so tomorrow can hold a brighter promise. 

Today (an interesting concept when you think it over), today is the day.  Happy trails!  Go for it!

BTW:  congrats to the newest 1000 mile club member!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

No Hits~No Runs~But At Least One Error

I made a mistake yesterday.  It is not an 'every hour' occurrence, but it certainly is not a rare happening in my life.  I guess I could casually say, "Oh well, mistakes happen" and blow it off as just another event that has little significance in the larger flow of life.  But this one is different.

My mistake was magnified by my teaching.  Has that ever happened to you?  It is that old do as I say not as I do trick.  Don't you want your words to match up with your actions?  I do.  But this time I fell short.  I like to teach about the nature of grace.  I even like to live in the presence of grace.  In fact, I am dependant upon grace.  After all, if I only got what I deserved ... it would be a different issue.  But instead of getting exactly what I deserve, I am often overwhelmed by grace.

Here's the deal.  My mistake was to focus on law rather than on grace.  I often teach about the joy of erring on the side of grace.  But this time, I missed the mark.

First United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City sits within a block of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building.  It was April 19, 1915.  A huge car bomb went off in front of the building.  Lives were lost and our nation was changed.

The church received a major part of the impact.  They rebuilt by taking the pieces of life and bringing them back together with grace.  The former stained glass of the church was gathered in shattered pieces and put back together to form a beautiful window of grace.  It says, "The Lord takes broken pieces and by his love makes us whole."

For me, that is a wonderful description of grace.

I missed the mark, fell short of the glory of God, allowed law to limit my thinking, and made an error by withholding grace.  It seems that no one really wins when law wins the day.  But everyone is blessed with grace prevails.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Release Your Spirit

Many years ago I took up the hobby of raising doves.  I had a nesting pair of ring neck doves and a handful of beautiful white doves.  Their coo in the morning always reminded me of grandma's house when I was very young.  They are beautiful birds.

From time to time folks at weddings, funerals, or celebrations of some sort want to do a dove release.  It can be a wonderful way to add a punctuation mark on the day.

I remember one wedding outside of Longmont at a wonderful event center.  The vows were said, the rings had been exchanged, and a kiss was shared.  As the couple turned to face the congregation the doves were released from a hidden location behind the couple.  They flew beautifully for the first ten to fifteen fluttering seconds.  Just then there was a tremendous clap of thunder and all the birds made a unified about face right back to the cage they came in.

The couple couldn't see what was happening over their shoulders but their guests had a great laugh.  They were all thinking about the symbolism of a wedding that is released and then makes an immediate U-turn to the safety and security of previous quarters.

With God the dove is a greater symbol of life, peace, and a spirit of hope.  The heavens open and the dove descends as a sign of the Holy Spirit and the endorsement of God.

In our inner life of faith, there is also a point of release that allows us to fly free.  It is a commitment of faith that says "I want to know Jesus" "I want my faith to soar"  "I want to fly"

I find way to many people who are restricted in their spirits.  They are unable to worship fully, they are inwardly focused when it comes to generosity, and they are easily caught up in conflicted situations.  Sad.  It is sad because you and I know that there is much more to life.

It may be time to fly!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Freedom

Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in all of the 15 poetic forms that dwell in the psalter.  It is filled with imagery that shifts and turns with each phrase and poetic device.  But at the heart, it is an acrostic poem that is based on the Hebrew alphabet.  It is shaped around 22 distinctive sections that are intimately connected to each character of the Hebrew alphabet.

The seventh section (Waw) is built around the theme of spiritual freedom that arrives through the doorway of faithful obedience.  It is a declaration of faith and a statement of reverent commitment that flows from the heart of the believer to the page of the psalter.

It was originally intended to be shared in song.  In fact, many monastic traditions still sing it regularly as a part of their worship liturgy.

May your unfailing love come to me, Lord,
    your salvation, according to your promise;
42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
    for I trust in your word.
43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
    for I have put my hope in your laws.
44 I will always obey your law,
    for ever and ever.
45 I will walk about in freedom,
    for I have sought out your precepts.
46 I will speak of your statutes before kings
    and will not be put to shame,
47 for I delight in your commands
    because I love them.
48 I reach out for your commands, which I love,
    that I may meditate on your decrees.

Check out verse 45!  It is about freedom that we find in relationship with a loving God.  Our obedince, our desire to serve the Lord, our willingness to live by God's design...all are surrounded by the gift of freedom.

Our own history of seeking freedom brought about some words that continue to shape us as people who love freedom and would do all that we can to maintain it.  It is our desire to be one nation under God.

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

On Fire and the Promise of God

For those who have not seen anything but the news reports about the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs.  Here are a couple of photos that will remind us all of the power of flame.

The Wilson United Methodist Church is visible in the lower right hand corner of the first picture.  In spite of the fact that 348 homes burned to the ground from the edge of the parking lot and up the hill 1/2 mile...she still stands today.

The second photo is an image of North West Colorado Springs being evacuated.  There is terror behind every steering wheel.

But in every disaster, every painful experience, every moment when you think you will never breathe again...the promise of God continues to show up in the most interesting places.  In the Springs, we simply call it "The Garden" but to all, it is The Garden of the Gods.

Thank God for rainbows!

And Now...The Time Has Come

There is a line at the close of the song 'My Way' that says, "and now, the time has come, it's time to face the final curtain..."  I think when Frank sang the song the line was a thinly veiled reference to the end of life.  I want to shorten the line just a bit today so it just touches the fullness of life but does not actually arrive at the end.

We have been talking about turning points, times of change, things that move on and shift into the future.  So, (for me) it is now time.  The time has come.  As of today (midnight I suppose), I will no longer be the Senior Pastor of the Wilson Church in Colorado Springs.  At 12:01 AM my appointment will click into gear at the Parker United Methodist Church.

Let me translate a bit...that means that we (our family) is living in grief and excitement.  Sorrow for the changing relationships that have been past and dead run excited about the ministry, mission and relationships that will be launched in a new setting. 

And so, the time has come.  It is a good time.  It is God's time.  And it is our desire to live fully in God's kairos time.  Kairos is the intersection between the purpose of God, the dream of his people, and the calendar/clock that often takes charge of our journey.  When it all comes together...good things happen.  I know it is true because I have seen the faithfulness of God time and time again.

Thanks be to God who always has something new for our life of faith.  It may be a challenge.  But it will always be a blessing if we are in alinement with the heart of God.  I may not always be on track or in exact alinement but I want to sing a song about living life "God's Way."

Thanks for joining me on the journey.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Waldo Canyon

It is Monday morning.  For many, it is just the start of another work week. But for many around the State of Colorado it is another day to wait, watch, and pray that the flames do not crest the hill, roll to the west, or catch a warm wind.  It is fire season and the state is aflame with at least eight major fires.

Many of our Wilson friends have been evacuated due to the Waldo Canyon fire.  It is currently burning west of Colorado Springs and east of Woodland Park.  It is raging from Manitou Springs to the Garden of the Gods and moving toward to the Air Force Academy.  For those who know the geography, you will recognize the western foot hills that unfold to set the stage for the majesty of Pikes Peak.  It is also the nestled home of the Flying W Ranch and the Wilson United Methodist Church.

I stood in the church yard yesterday and watched the boiling smoke rumble just beyond the ridge that is the last line of protection for the church.

From a philosophical and spiritual point of view I understand the reality of natural disaster that results in danger, damage, and general evil that invades without concern for anything that might get in the path.  I also know that the Word of God invites us not to be anxious.  But we were and we are.  Everyone is anxious because no one knows what will happen next.  The options are not wonderful!  What should you pack in your car?  Should you go to the shelter or bunk with friends?  What will we do it the house is destroyed?  Is everyone safe?  Anxiety!

Yesterday I spoke on the phone with a friend and colleague who was impacted by another Colorado fire.  This one was on the west edge of Estes Park.  Dale and his wife retired from active ministry in the mid-west and moved to their dream retirement home in the city of Estes Park just west of the Big Thompson Canyon.  Two days ago, their home (along with 20 others) burned to the ground. 

Dale's voice sounded calm.  He was mostly captured by the kindness of the people at Hope United Methodist Church were he was leading his final worship service this past weekend.  They demonstrated an out pouring of grace, compassion, and generosity as they gathered around Dale and his wife to provide support.  His voice sounded calm.

This morning my thoughts went back a few years ago when I was with some of our Beeson DMin students at an event in San Diego.  At the time, the hills of San Diego were aflame with wild fire.  We didn't know until the last minute if the event would take place or be cancelled because of the raging Southern California fires.

On one particular afternoon we drove north out of San Diego through a large area that had just burned a couple of days earlier.  We were on our way to the office of Ken Blanchard.  You will remember Blanchard as the author of The One Minute Manager and a whole series of leadership resources.  We found his office and were greeted at the door by Dr. Blanchard himself.  He escorted us into a conference room, greeted and chatted with each individual, and offered us the hospitality of a large snack buffet that had been prepared for our arrival.

He sat down and shared about his role as the Chief Spiritual Officer of The Kenneth Blanchard Companies that he founded with his wife Marjorie.  It was a delightful conversation with profound leadership insights shared in a very informal setting.  At the close of the session one of our students inquired about the next steps that were on Ken's mind.  He casually shared that he and his wife were meeting with their son in just an hour to decide what to do next.  Then he shared some remarkable news.
Just one day earlier, their home had been completely destroyed by the fires.  We couldn't believe it! Here he was taking time to serve us drinks and share his story when he knew that his family home had just been destroyed.  His voice was calm.

Waldo Canyon, Estes Park, High Park, and the hills of San Diego.  Jesus said, "Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, also believe in me.  For in my Father's house....."  His voice was calm.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Life Verse

I remember the first time I heard someone speak about a 'life verse' that gave shape to a call to ministry and provided an internal motivation for specific types of service.  Since that time I have noted with great care when someone mentions a life verse.  It is a very personal thing that becomes a part of your spiritual being.  It is a message from God that draws a focus on the way the Lord desires to use an individual.

Years ago, I was blessed to serve as a 20 hour a week volunteer with a remarkable youth ministry.  At the head was a young man named Duffy Robbins.  His real name is David but Duffy was always Duffy.  In fact, he still is.

Duffy had been discipled by a Christian leader who developed a traveling musical group like Up With People but with a flair for Jesus.  Duffy traveled with the group, played the drums in the band, and became one of the key leaders of the group.  They lived together, prayed together, ate together, and worshiped together.  Today, we would call it an incubator for discipleship.  Better  yet, you could say it was a neo-monastic community on wheels.

Duffy loves to teach.  He is a remarkably captivating speaker and has a deep commitment to the process of shaping young Christians.  I remember Duffy teaching about the 'bookends of evangelism and discipleship' as the ebb and flow of the spiritual journey.  I also remember his teaching about developing a philosophy of ministry.  Apparently, ministry was not intended to be random but ordered around a sequence of principles and systems that were put into action in unique ways.  It was all connected to the way God shaped the individual Christian through experience, growing faith, and spiritual gifts.

One day, (it must have been the winter of 1983) Duffy asked me about my live verse.  I stumbled for a moment.  I had only been a believer for a short time and my confidence was a little shaky.  He looked right past my anxiety and asked me again.  This time with that classic Duffy half smile that said I care about you and this will be OK.

I remember speaking slowly as I said, "I think Ephesians 4:11-13 might be my life verse."  "You think?!  It MIGHT be!  What's up with that?"  OK, OK, it definitely is Ephesians 4:11-13!  Then he asked the key question, "Why?"

For almost 30 years, I have been answering that question for others and for myself.  Each time, it gets deeper.  Every explanation make it more significant.  And each time I read it, recite it, or preach on it...the whole reality explodes once again.

Let's talk more about that explosive passage.  It is powerful enough to shape a life, deepen your discipleship, or build a bridge to a positive future!  Alfred Nobel would be amazed!

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 

Do you see what I mean?  Let's think about it together!  We are always better together!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Life!

Yes, I do believe in new life that comes to us through Christ.  I believe that Jesus gives us all the opportunity to discover life that is fresh, new, and positive.  But today, I am thinking about new life from a more technological point of view.  Theology is great but the Internet bring life to life!

It has been just over one full week since we have been without a connection.  And now, here it is, life that comes through a strange cable and then is sprayed throughout the house like oxygen connecting to hydrogen to create living water!

Ahhh!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Turning Points

It is Sunday morning June 10...not a stardate, but a day to remember.  It is a turning point.  A corner in time.  A moment when things formally change.  We have been here before but never with such potency. 

The Body of Christ is a unique critter.  She ebbs and flows, shifts and changes, but she always is on the move.  She is made up of diverse people of faith, who are equipped to serve, growing in unity, and ready move toward a spirit of maturity.  We have been here before!

There is an old song "what a difference a day makes...24 little hours."  It is true, we will walk away, turn the corner (Bob Seger would say 'turn the page') and everything will be different.  We will move away from one group of faithful folks into the sight of another group of faithful people.  We have been here before!

Best yet, God has been there all the time!   So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu!  Is that Charles Dickens or Julie Andrews...I never can remember!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Corners and gate posts!

The Grand Sweep of Scripture has now brought us from an uncertain exile in Babylon to a rebuilding of the rubble city of Jerusalem. (by the way - off topic - [sorry] - check out Rubble Nation by Paul Jeffrey to learn about Haiti today and tomorrow).  Ok, back to Jerusalem!

Ezra was the adventure guide for the first group to make their way from captivity in Babylon to return to their homeland in Judah.  They found that the walls of Jerusalem were destroyed, the temple was ash and rubble, and the city barely breathing from the 587 beating.  Nehemiah followed with a second group and a leadership plan.

Nehemiah's plan was simple.  Set a vision, motivate the people, mix some mortar, and lay a few tons of stone as quickly as possible.  All this while fighting off the opposition.  No problem!

52 days later a dedicated group of people stood back and looked at the walls.  They must have walked from corner to corner so they could view the next section.  They admired the gates and gave thanks for the various people who worked on each section.  It only took 52 days to make it happen.

52 days from today would be Saturday July 28, 2012.  I am going to mark that date on my calendar so I can look back and see what God has accomplished at each corner.  Open the gates, gather the people, everyone get a trowel, prepare for the potential of the Spirit, and let God set the plumb line for success.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Last Things

Within theological conversations the topic of last things is always a reference to eschatology.  The study of last things, the end of time, the return of Christ, the fulfillment of spiritual history.  Some folks spend their lives thinking about such things.  I don't want to discount the focus on eschatology but that is not where my heart is today.

Today, I am thinking about the fact that I will be officiating the sacrament of the Lord's Supper for the last time with our Wilson faith community.  One by one I will serve the cup and the loaf as a sign of God's presence in our lives today.  Piece by piece the loaf will be broken.   Person by person the words will be spoken.  "This is the Body of Christ, broken for you."  "This is the cup of the New Covenant offered for you."

July 5, 2009 was the first time I had a chance to speak those words within the Wilson community.  Pastor Keith Watson and I served together on that day.  In one month, I will speak the same words within the context of the Parker United Methodist Church. Both settings will bring great blessing.

But here is the real blessing...the same Lord (who has been present since the waters of creation swirled together to bring light, land, and laughter) will be right there every time those sacred words are spoken.

Prayer + Repentance x Trust in God = the fresh wind of the Spirit

This is my body, broken for you...today!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gethsemani

If you head south on Highway 31E from the Blue Grass Parkway and grab a left at State Highway 247 (better known as Monks Road) you will discover a ancient bell tower that slowly becomes more visible through the trees.  The next bend in the road will bring you to the flashing yellow caution light and the entrance to the historic Abbey of Gethsemani.

Today the Abbey is home to about 70 monks.  Some are priests while others are brothers.  A handful are there to ponder long term vows.  All of them live, work and pray in the Trappist tradition in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict.

Gethsemani is most famous for being the 27 year home for a monk / priest named Father M. Louis Merton.  Some would know him better as Thomas Merton.  To his friends, he was simply Tom. Even though he died in December of 1968, his spirit continues to draw pilgrims to his spiritual home in the knob hills of Nelson County Kentucky.

Merton was a writer, a poet, and a spiritual leader of his day.  His spiritual autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain became a best seller when it was first published in 1948.  It continues to find new readers every day as people of all faiths discover themselves through Merton's spiritual journey.

My first visit to the Abbey was in the winter of 1983.  It was a bitterly cold December with unusually heavy snowfall.  I finished reading The Seven Storey Mountain while I was there at the Abbey.  It was a remarkable journey and extraordinarily memorable set of days.

The Retreat House was closed for some updating so I was assigned a room in the south wing of the monastery.  I spoke with Father Michael (the guest master) after supper on my first evening.  We spoke and prayed about my upcoming ordination.  At the close of our conversation in the library, he walked with me back to my room.  The stone hallway was filled with the echos of our footsteps.  With little more than a passing glance he whispered, "Oh, you have Father Louie's old room."  It was all uphill from there!

Some of you will join me at the Abbey on Friday August 10th.  Be sure to bring your open spirit!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Housing Update

Lots of kind folks have inquired about how we are doing with our housing situation.  I can tell you that (other than lots of cardboard on the horizon) we are in good shape.  It now looks like our home here in Colorado Springs is moving toward closing.  And our new home on Crow Hill Drive in Parker is likewise on track for a positive closing date.  At the same time, you all know that these situations are never really final until a thousand signatures are placed on the dotted line.  So far, so good!

Many others have asked about programing and opportunities for Ana after we make the move.  She is currently involved with a wonderful Christian organization called Mosaic here in COS.  She is involved with their day vocational program and it has been great.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to make advance arrangements for the next step in Parker since most programs are orcharstrated through various county based clearing houses.  As a result, you actually need to reside in the county and move through a qualification process before any formal program connnections can be made. We are anticipating that there will be a similar program that is connected to the Douglas County system.

Meanwhile, we are invested in our last days with the Wilson United Methodist Church and the wonderful folks who have faithfully made some wonderful things happen here.  The days are getting short!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bonhoeffer 1939

Dietrich Bonhoeffer rebelled against the nationalist Nazi movement in Germany through several different avenues.  He was a pastor, professor, and prophet who provided a powerful witness through his own road to martyrdom.  One of his most significant and best organized rebellions took place in a place known as Finkenwald where he gathered a group of young people to establish an underground Christian seminary.

The Finkenwald experiment became a journey into the intricacies of Christian community.  The students lived together, prayed together, worked together, and shared every aspect of an organized Christian community.

The 'Brothers' House,' as it was known, became such a thorn in the side of Hitler's system that is was ordered closed and the students scattered.  But the two years at Finkenwald were not isolated to the  personal experience of Bonhoeffer and his students.  In late 1938, Bonhoeffer and his close friend Eberhard Bethge (who would later become the key Bonhoeffer biographer) tucked themselves away for a month of reflection and writing.

Bonhoeffer invested day and night in writing his theological and structural reflections of the Finkenwald experiment.  The result became a small book known in English as Life Together.  This small personal document was published in 1939.  It caught fire and by the end of the year it was commissioned into a fourth printing.  Today, it is a classic image of Christian community with neo-monastic structure, and a strong theology of personal discipleship.

Life Together provides a model for the current neo-monastic / Christian discipleship lifestyle that is being lived out around the world.  It is a memorable work for people of faith who want to understand how community can become the root of faith development for individuals.  Grab a copy, read it, live it; you will never be the same.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wilmore Days!

The local church has always been a clear calling.  We really have only had one other thought about where God might use us.  That one thought has always been related directly to the students and system of Asbury Theological Seminary.

With a chance to invest in high impact students through the Beeson Doctor of Ministry connection...I knew that God was in that opportunity.  We had a chance to leverage and magnify our connection to the local church by investing in students who had already demonstrated strong potential.

We packed up, said good-bye to friends in Colorado Springs, and made our way back to Wilmore, Kentucky where I began my journey as the Dean of the Beeson International Center.  What a ride!

Great students, a powerful program, world travel, and the opportunity to serve the seminary that I love.  From my point of view, it doesn't' get much better than this.  My thanks to Joel Green, Leslie Andrews, and Jeff Greenway for the chance of a life time.  It was sweet but the learning curve was steep.  I had been engaged the local church for so long...I thought like a pastor but I now had to shift to academic lifestyle and mindset.  A major change!  Leslie became my teacher in all things academic.  It was a whirlwind tour.

The very best part was the opportunity to invest in our Beeson students.  They came from all across the country and from every corner of the world.  About half were North American pastors who were highly motivated and excited about growing in their faith and in their understanding of the church.  The other half were international students who were dominantly leaders in their denominations, seminary professors, and high level leaders in their countries.   It was a double blessing.

That blessing continues to this day.  Even though I am no longer serving on campus, I still get to engage the students.  I teach a Doctor of Ministry course called Spirituality of Leaders with both Beeson groups.  My next sequence comes up in August and September of this year.  It is always fun and incredibly refreshing for my soul. 


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Three Groups of People

Every time I write, I think about three (maybe four or five!) groups of people.  I think about the Wilson folks who have been such a wonderful blessing.  And I think about the Parker folks who are yet unknown.  In addition, there are students, friends, and other odd assorted people who drop in here from time to time.  You all are agents of grace in the world!

An update:  So far our prayers have been answered regarding our housing details.  We are still believing that everything will come to closing in a sequence that will be a blessing for all.  We are not there yet but we are very hopeful.

Now, let me pick up where I left off in 2002!  It was about to be the end of a wonderful run in the community of Broomfield on the north suburban edge of the Denver metro area.  Nine fruitful years were about to come to a close.  The worshiping body had grown significantly and now numbered almost 1000 on any given Sunday.  Mission ministry was blooming, people were growing in faith through the Walk to Emmaus, and the Cornerstone Church had left the launch pad.  Great days, wonderful folks, and the presence of God that was faithfully available.

I remember the day I met with my D.S. Dr. Steve Burnett at a truck stop on I-25 to talk about the possibility of serving at our largest and most historic congregation in the Annual Conference.  I threw my hat in the ring, was tossed around in the competitive circles, and came out on the other side as the Senior Pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Colorado Springs.

I remember yet another day when I prayed with David Jackson in the morning and then met with David Buttery and Harvey McAnulty in the afternoon.  We met in the second floor conference room at the new Woodland Park Library with a view that was filled with the full magnificence of creation.  We were trying to nail down a vision that would honor God, motivate the congregation, and propel the ministry into the future.  David, Harvey...if you are out there you will remember that EPIC meeting.  It came together in a moment.  We knew we were on track.  Thanks!

I remember another day when Dr. Jeff Greenway came to town with his oldest son.  They were in the area at my invitation but they had an ulterior motive.  They wanted to ski Breckenridge!  Jeff and I were in seminary together in the 80's.  He was now the newly elected President of Asbury Theological Seminary and I was serving as a member of the Asbury Board of Trustees.  We sat in the hot tub that night talking about ministry, the seminary, and the way God had shaped our lives.  Several weeks later, Jeff called to offer me a position at the seminary as the Dean of the Beeson International Center for Biblical Preaching and Church Leadership.  It was a mouthful!  Ultimately, I said yes.  We were headed back to Wilmore to fulfill a life time dream of serving the place that had blessed us so deeply.

Goodbye ~ beautiful Colorado Springs! Hello 105 Hunter Circle, Wilmore, Kentucky.  I would be moving into the Dean's office that was currently occupied by Dr. J. Ellsworth Kalas.  Impossible!