Empowerment

As Pentecost Sunday comes to a close, I’ll share one more thought about life in the Spirit (I previously wrote about Dynamite and Immersion).

I’ve always understood the role of the Holy Spirit to be largely about empowerment. Moments before Jesus ascended to heaven, he told his followers …

… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere … (Acts 1.8)

The Holy Spirit was poured out on us to empower us to tell people about Jesus!

In recent years, I’ve been particularly struck by the missional nature of how God spoke to the people who had gathered in Jerusalem from different lands and languages. It’s quite a miraculous story …

And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

God acts in the world through people who are led by, and filled with, the Holy Spirit. May God continue to pour out the Holy Spirit upon all people, freeing them from sin and empowering them for the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ!

Immersion

Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday. I recently reflected on the word Dynamite. I’m also thinking about the word immersion.

Immersion is one of the forms or methods of water baptism (along with sprinkling or pouring). The United Methodist Church recognizes/practices all three forms. But when it comes to being baptized in the Holy Spirit, immersion is the only way to go!

In Ephesians 5.18, Paul writes …

Do not be drunk with wine, which will ruin you, but be filled with the Spirit.

Don’t just sip. Don’t simply drink of the Spirit in moderation. Be completely intoxicated with the Holy Spirit!

What would it look like if all Christ-followers were immersed in the Spirit? What would it look like if all Christ-following leaders and pastors were so full of God’s Spirit that others thought they were drunk?

It wouldn’t be the first time. On the first post-resurrection Day of Pentecost, some of the people who had gathered in Jerusalem for the religious celebration charged …

They’re just drunk, that’s all!

They were right, of course. (They just had the wrong intoxifying agent in mind.) 🙂

Dynamite

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. It’s a particularly meaningful day because of the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Days earlier, Jesus informed his followers …

… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere … (Acts 1.8)

I’ve always loved the fact that the Greek word for “power” is dunamis, from which we get our English word dynamite. The Holy Spirit is powerful. God’s power is explosive.

In his book called “Acts,” Luke describes that first post-resurrection Pentecost this way …

Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. (Acts 2.2)

But God’s power wasn’t limited to the outpouring on the day of Pentecost. The entire book of Acts is full of stories about God’s acts through Spirit-filled people. As a spiritual leader in the twenty-first century, I long to see God’s power, God’s acts, manifested in similarly explosive, transformative ways today!

Paperwork to Korea

Earlier this month, on Mother’s Day actually, we announced that we are adopting again. We learned today that our paperwork was mailed to Korea yesterday. Now the wait for a referral begins (which will be our next major announcement)!

Last time around, we received the referral of Ethan about two months after our paperwork went to Korea. Currently, referrals are taking anywhere from two to five months, we’re told.

Last time around, we blogged about adoption and becoming parents. This time, we may not have as much to process personally, but one area we’ll try to write about when we get a chance is the aspect of adopting again.

Also, at some point, we’ll try to blog about international adoption, from the perspective of parents of a child (or children) from Korea. I don’t think we’ve really done that in the (nearly) 16 months we’ve had Ethan.

Otherwise, if you have questions about adoption (including international adoption), feel free to write a response below!

Three Main Tasks of Jesus

I remember hearing someone (Leonard Sweet?) once talk about Jesus’ primary tasks. And recently, while reviewing Missional Church (which I recently wrote about), I came across this quote:

… three main tasks of Jesus before his crucifixion: preaching, teaching, and healing (133).

Preaching. Teaching. And healing.

I view preaching as proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, telling people where they can find hope — eternal hope!

Teaching involves equipping people to live out God’s plan for their lives. While Jesus may be noted most for his healing ministry, teaching was a significant part of his life. In fact, most of Jesus’ ministry was spent pouring his life into his closest followers who became leaders in the Church after his resurrection.

Finally, the gospels are full of stories about Jesus’ healing ministry. Healing is about restoration, restoration of body and soul. Today, the work of the Church is the work of restoration — restoring people, through Jesus Christ, in the image of God in which they were created and intended to live.

I don’t believe these tasks are limited to pastors. Rather, these are the tasks of all Christ-followers. Each of us is responsible for telling others where they can find hope, for helping people grow in Christ, and for seeking the restoration of the bodies and souls of others.

In a day when it’s so easy to lose focus in ministry, it’s helpful to remember the three main tasks of Jesus.

Radical Hospitality 3.0

I have been blogging our journey at Centre Grove through the Five Practices and I’ve written a couple posts on the first of the practices that we’re discussing (Radical Hospitality 1.0 and 2.0).

In the last post, I wrote that we were making strides on indoor and outdoor signs that would improve our presence in the community and make navigating our facilities easier for guests.

The indoor signs were made by a member of Centre Grove and placed throughout the building. The outdoor sign was just installed this past weekend.

Church Council has generated a list of other projects designed to improve the church’s facilities. Next up is a significant redesign of the two major entrances. A few members of the council, who all happen to be HGTV fanatics, are leading the redesign effort.

In the meantime, here are photos of some of the visible things Centre Grove is doing to improve its hospitality.

Our Journey Toward Ordination

In my last post, I described the process of becoming provisional elders in The United Methodist Church. Now I want to say more about how we got to this point.

In early 1998, after a lengthy search for our place in the body of Christ, we made contact with then District Superintendent, Rev. Thomas Irwin. Tom invited us to meet with the District Committee on Ministry of the Altoona District. In July, we began serving Royer UMC (near Williamsburg, PA) as part-time supply pastors; a year later, nearby Mines UMC was added to our charge.

In September 1998, we joined Twelfth Street UMC (Huntingdon, PA). We had to be members two years before we could be licensed as Local Pastors (the requirement was changed to one year in 2008). We were licensed in 2001, at which time Joleen was appointed to the Manor Hill Charge. I continued serving Mines and Royer for another year and then was appointed to the Petersburg Charge. When two of the three churches of the Petersburg Charge merged to form Hope UMC in 2006, my charge was realigned to include Twelfth Street UMC (Huntingdon) and Hope UMC (Alexandria). Two years later (last July), we moved to Clearfield where Joleen serves West Side UMC and I serve Centre Grove UMC.

In 2003, we were interviewed by the Board of Ordained Ministry. Even though our interviews went well, we hit a major snag. There, we discovered that the seminary we received our M.Divs. from was not on University Senate list of approved schools (even though it was accredited by the Association of Theological Schools).

At that point, continuing with the ordination process in the UMC meant either re-doing our M.Divs. at a school on the University Senate list or doing a D.Min. (also on the list). We chose to do a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) Asbury Theological Seminary, which we completed in 2008. With that behind us, we were able to resume where we left off six years ago. In March, we returned to the BOOM where we were approved to be commissioned as Provisional Elders at the upcoming Annual Conference in June.

That’s the story in a nutshell. We are happy to be in the ministry of The United Methodist Church and we are committed to becoming Full Elders, now only two years away!

Becoming Provisional Elders

Recently, I wrote Why We are United Methodists. But one thing we have not blogged is the ordination process we’ve been engaged in ever since we have been United Methodists.

The process of becoming ordained pastors in the UMC has been long for us, mainly due to coming from another denomination (I’ll say more about this in the next post). But ordination is finally in sight!

Earlier this week, at a retreat with the Bishop Middleton and members of the conference Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) for those being commissioned or ordained at annual conference, we got an idea about what the last phase of the ordination process will look like. Most significantly, the commissioning period has been shortened from three years to two (made possible by action of the 2008 General Conference). This change should bump up our ordination from 2012 to 2011.

In the next two years, we will attend three overnight retreats and two 4-day trips (one in February to the General Board of Global Ministries in New York and one in April to the General Board of Church and Society in D.C, in either 2009 or 2010).

During the next two years, we will meet with our clergy mentors one-on-one every other month. On the other months, we will meet with a Covenant Group to study/discuss leadership as well as the paperwork we do for the BOOM.

We will be interviewed by the BOOM in October 2009 and March 2011, completing required paperwork each time. On recommendation of the BOOM in 2011, we expect to be ordained at annual conference in June 2011.

It will be interesting to see how God works out the timing in the coming months with the requirements and our anticipated travel to Korea for our second adoption. God worked out the timing the first time around with our dissertation work, defenses, and graduation. We trust God to do it again!

We are grateful for the way in which God continues to lead and guide us. The process of the next two years is an opportunity for further growth and development!

In my next post, I’ll write more about the long journey up to this point.

Better Caught Than Taught

I have heard it said that some things are better caught than taught. We teach through what we say, but our words must match our actions.

We are certainly learning this principle as parents. We use words to teach Ethan how to behave, but he picks up on our actions, too.

Recently, Virgin HealthMiles replaced my GoZone pedometer (they want to test it to see why it’s not working with the Mac version of the GoZone iSync software I’m beta testing for them). After I activated the new one and just before I returned the old one, I put it on Ethan to see how many steps he gets (although he kept resetting it, so I don’t know for sure). While walking, Joleen stopped, looked at her pedometer to see how many steps she had, and immediately, Ethan stopped in his tracks, lifted up his shirt, looked at his pedometer and said “eight” (apparently, his favorite number).

This, and many other similar experiences, reinforces for us the importance of teaching behavior and character by modeling good behavior/character, ourselves. In other words, our talk must match our walk!

One of the areas that we are trying to teach through our actions as well as our words is prayer. We have devotion every night we put Ethan to bed, which includes reading Scripture out of a children’s story Bible and praying while Ethan drinks his milk. I occasionally ask him if he wants to pray and he will mumble some syllables and finish, saying, “amen.”

Recently, I asked Ethan if he wanted to pray during our evening devotional time, and he immediately clasped his hands together, dropped to his knees and then on his elbows, and mumbled a very lengthy prayer. I don’t know what he said or even if he knows what he said, but he was praying (I’m not even sure where he learned those postures!).

Every once in a while, Ethan will initiate and clasp his hands together and say, “Pway.” And we do.

This principle is not only true for parents, it’s also true for leaders. As a pastor/preacher, I want to shape a biblical culture through words (preaching/teaching). But I not only shape culture through my words, I also shape culture through my actions (the way I live).

And actions speak louder than words!

Adoption 2.0

Today, Joleen and I announced to our churches that we are going to adopt a second child.

Once again, we are adopting an infant from Korea. We are requesting a girl. We are using the same agencies, Adoption Horizons (our local agency and caseworker) and Americans for International Aid and Adoption. We’re expecting AIAA to send our paperwork to Korea this coming week.

While the timing is hard to nail down exactly, we’ve been told we can expect to receive a referral (info and photos of a baby) in approximately 3-5 months. If the child is at least 5 months old at the time of referral, we could expect to travel to Korea about 2-3 months later. That could put a trip to Korea somewhere between October 2009 and January 2010.

We invite you to follow along as we begin another adoption adventure!