Nov 24 2014

Jedi Pastor Ken: The Integrity Of My Faith: Thoughts from a Cancer Caregiver

When one is a pastor, people look to you for answers. Those answers often have as much to do with how we act as they have to do with what we say. Thankfully, clergy (and their families) do not live in the same “fishbowl” which just a few decades ago dictated much of what pastors were to do and how they were to behave.

We can look at a generation of pastors that “broke the mold,” so to speak, particularly when it came to church planting pastors. For good or for ill, we have seen pioneers, a raising of a new generation of hip pastors. Forget just wearing jeans and frosting your hair, we added cussing and craft-beer drinking to the list of things which were “acceptable,” well, at least for some. Technology gave us a whole new way to refine our “style.”

Many of us, myself included, took advantage where we could of some of these new freedoms and approaches. Sometimes we experienced the grace of more wise clergy and friends who cautioned us. Sometimes we did not. In many cases, we suffered, our churches suffered, and our witness suffered.

No matter how we might package ourselves, no matter how we might try to position ourselves to advance the Gospel or our “brand,” there is one thing we cannot escape. At some point we are going to come face to face with the reality of the integrity of our faith.

Integrity is important to me. Those who know me know this is a core value in my life, maybe THE core value. But even so, I come up short, “….for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…(Romans 3:23).” I am not able to escape this reality anymore than I can escape my need for sleep or to eat.

So when I speak of an “integrity of my faith,” I am talking about the nuts and bolts, the nitty gritty, knee deep in the muck and mire reality of whether my faith counts for anything at all. We can talk about all the surveys and stats. We can talk about vital congregations, but from my experience and conversations, people looking for God, looking for faith, want to KNOW that you KNOW God and that you KNOW you are KNOWN by God.

The integrity of my faith has been tested in a number of personal challenges. It was tested when I went through testicular cancer, in two battles with clinical depression, and in loss of nearly 50% of my vision to name the more public challenges.

Now, the integrity of my faith is being tested by my wife’s cancer and my role as a husband and father. The integrity of my faith strains at cords of my covenant as a United Methodist pastor and as a caregiver. It is not straining because I lack help or support, heavens NO! I am surrounded by the love and care of my church family and friends and colleagues.

The integrity of my faith is being tested because this is life. What is being tested is the integrity of faith which has been nurtured and has grown since I first responded to God’s prevenient grace back in 1987. What is being tested is the integrity of marriage vows, of my wife’s faith in me (and my children’s faith). And this faith is not, no, cannot be measured by the state of my interior life. The state of my interior life will be measured and made evident by the integrity with which I live.

Father Simon Tugwell writes so appropriately in his book, Prayer in Practice, “…we read that ‘the Word was made flesh”, not that the Word was made mind. Of course his humanity includes a human mind and the Church fought long doctrinal battles over it. But even so the Bible says ‘The Word was made flesh”, and there is an appropriate exteriority about our religion which we should take seriously.” He goes on to state more pointedly, “…we are human beings, and it is our humanity that is redeemed in Jesus Christ. So let us not be afraid to use human language in human ways when we draw close to God.” The integrity of our faith is tested more than just in our declarations of morality. I think it is tested most clearly in the facing of mortality – the recognition of the frailty of ourselves and those around us and those most dear to us.

With each breathe and prayer I make throughout my day, this is the integrity of my faith which is being tested. The truth is, it always was being tested. James even makes clear (I’m still not sure that  joy is how to describe what I’m experiencing right now), “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James1:2-3)” What I can say, is be attending to your faith now! Do you KNOW that you KNOW God? This is the assurance of salvation which we find promised to us (Romans 8:16-17) by St. Paul and passed on through the Methodist Revival. It is a true promise to us, do not wait for it, ask for it, seek it now when your faith is not in a time of testing.

I know whom I have believed in and HE is able to sustain the integrity of my faith. And that I say with all the scars upon my body and my heart.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/the-integrity-of-my-faith-thoughts-from-a-cancer-caregiver/

Nov 24 2014

Faith UMC: November 23, 2014 – “To The King”

Scripture Reading: Mark 25: 31-40 SERMON: “To The King” (Audio Version)  

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/november-23-2014-to-the-king/

Nov 24 2014

Trinity United Methodist Church - Trinity United Methodist Church: Protected and Thankful

“I am not asking  you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15)     I’ll place this under the, just when you think you have seen it all category.  I’ve lost count of how many weddings I have done over the years. […]

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/protected-and-thankful/

Nov 24 2014

Allan R. Bevere: So, Just What Is an Executive Order?

In the midst of the hoopla over President Obama’s recent executive order on immigration, many people by and large have chosen their predictable sides as to whether or not the president’s actions are constitutional. But I have to say, I’ve seen very little from the social media chattering class on exactly what an executive order is. The legal dictionary online states the following:


A presidential policy directive that implements or interprets a federal statute, a constitutional provision, or a treaty. 

The president’s power to issue executive orders comes from Congress and the U.S. Constitution. Executive orders differ from presidential proclamations, which are used largely for ceremonial and honorary purposes, such as declaring National Newspaper Carrier Appreciation Day. 

Executive orders do not require congressional approval. Thus, the president can use them to set policy while avoiding public debate and opposition. Presidents have used executive orders to direct a range of activities, including establishing migratory bird refuges; putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II; discharging civilian government employees who had been disloyal, following World War II; enlarging national forests; prohibiting racial discrimination in housing; pardoning Vietnam War draft evaders; giving federal workers the right to bargain collectively; keeping the federal workplace drug free; and sending U.S. troops to Bosnia.

Wisegeek.org notes the following:

An executive order is a specific power of the president and the executive branch as provided by the US Constitution in Article II, Section 1. This power allows the president of the United States (POTUS) the authority to create laws or determine how existing laws should be carried out. It always has to do with domestic affairs; executive agreements govern foreign affairs. Pretty much any issue in domestic affairs is fair game for such an order, except for those things that would impinge upon congressional powers, like the regulation of interstate commerce. Executive orders can be simple things like declaring a new National Holiday or a day designated to a special event, like “Take your Child to Work Day.” Since Bill Clinton’s presidency, these noncontroversial orders have been given a new name: Presidential Decision Directives.

The rub on executive orders has to do with the words I italicized in the previous block quote: Pretty much any issue in domestic affairs is fair game for such an order, except for those things that would impinge upon congressional powersDoes President Obama’s most recent order impinge upon congressional power? If the answer is no, then the executive order is in order; if not, the president has overstepped his constitutional authority. The only way for that to be determined is through the courts by way of a lawsuit.
So, that’s an executive order in a nutshell. But if you would like a more comical and entertaining version of executive orders, you can watch the video below courtesy of Saturday Night Live.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/so-just-what-is-an-executive-order/

Nov 24 2014

Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Grappling prayer

“It’s telling that Paul uses the word “wrestling” to explain the fervency with which Epaphras prayed for the Colossian church. Wrestling is not an easy sport – it’s physically exhausting.”

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/grappling-prayer/

Nov 24 2014

100 Godly Men: My Hero, Ezra

This blog does not officially begin until January 1, 2015. However, I thought I would periodically recycle some old devotions here until that time. Enjoy. Ezra 7:6 – this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. The king had […]

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/my-hero-ezra/

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