This is a prayer I wrote for the cover of our local church newsletter and will read during the week. Please consider personally or having your church donating to UMCOR (More Below on UMCOR).

Heavenly Father,

While we know the name of this storm as Ian, we also know the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, who loves and cares for us even in the storms.

You are the God who longs to come and cover us “just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Matthew 23:27b CEB). God, would you do that now?

We remember your words “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown…” (Isaiah 43:2a NLT).

In the middle of this storm, may we cling to You and Your promises.

We intercede on behalf of all who have experienced Ian’s wrath and those yet to experience this storm.

Lord, would you protect all those in danger. Help the first responders, emergency managers, and meteorologists work to the best of their ability to rescue, provide assistance, and keep people safe.

Holy Spirit, help us to consider how we may play a role in healing the areas that are devastated, whether that be by our prayers, our resources, or our time in the future.

We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

***

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is the humanitarian and relief arm of the United Methodist Church. While I am no longer United Methodist I am still proud to partner with several United Methodist Ministries including UMCOR. Please consider making a donation to them or another non-profit to help with relief work.

Fiddler (on the floor) with the team.

This past weekend I had an opportunity, along with a few of my church members, to attend a Spirit and Truth training event at Metter United Methodist Church (Metter, GA).

Spirit and Truth is “a movement of Wesleyan-minded Christians seeking to awaken and equip the 21st century church, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to share the Gospel and make disciples of Jesus Christ.”

We attended one of a several day renewal conference they were leading. The teaching that day was focused on evangelism and prayer. We had great leading and instruction from their team. We heard from Matt Reyonolds, president, Maggie Ulmer, director of education, and Tony Miltenberger, director of leadership and discipleship. There was great worship led by United Theological Seminary Chapel Dean, Tesia Mallory. It was a delight to meet Emma Winchester, the administrative coordinator who helped the day run smoothly.

After one of our exercises we had time to debrief. Metter United Methodist Pastor, Allen Cason, said something profound. He talked about what we, the church, need to do is “simple and beautiful.” 

So often we try to come up with the perfect scheme on a white board or power point presentation (and I do love those). However, this weekend was a reminder how our means of God’s grace such as scripture, prayer, worship, and evangelism are sufficient enough for effective and fruitful ministry.

I can not recommend Spirit and Truth highly enough to come to your church or retreat. I only have one request: Let me know about it so I can come.

3 Lessons from Jay Hanson 3

Over the past two weeks I have had the privilege of talking with two of the finest leaders in the United Methodist Church. Today I want to share with you about Jay Hanson. He is the pastor of one of the fastest growing United Methodist Congregations in the country. He was preaching at Tattnall County Camp Meeting and was gracious enough to take a couple of mornings to spend an hour with me on each of these days. Here are three of the biggest lessons he shared with me.

1. You will be forgotten.  One of the first things he told me was about the meal he shared with the pastors and leaders the night before. He said the others were trying to describe to him a former pastor but no one could remember his name. He said we will all be the same way one day. We may remember but the focus will be on the next pastor and it should be.

2. Pray more. Jay’s father, Dave Hanson, is a pastor and one of the most respected people in our conference. Jay told me he asked his father if he could go back what would he do different. His father’s answer was short and meaningful. Dave answered, “I would pray more.” Jay is someone who takes his spiritual formation serious. He had just got back from a week long retreat where he spent a week in silence at retreat center. I walked away excited, challenged, and encouraged to spend more time working on myself first.

3. He asked me for advice. At the conclusion of our time we had several great closing thoughts but the most astonishing was when he asked me what advice I may give him. I can not remember anyone ahead of me in ministry asking me what they could do better. I honestly do not remember what it is I told him. The question just struck me as a great example of how leaders are learners. The most productive leaders are the ones who are constantly trying to get better.