Tuesday, May 13, 2008
God loves ya, me too, Kel out
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Krispy Kreme in Oxford, England. Imagine my surprise as I walked around the corner and saw this.
God is awesome! What a great trip to England. As I have mentioned before, Christians only comprise 2-3% of the British population. This really saddened me, but it seems that this small minority is fired up for Jesus. And it seems like all of the dead wood & the branches that don't bare fruit have been cut off, as Jesus said in John 15.2.
These people in Bristol are engaged in some creative ministries of outreach. They are involved in making space in their churches for coffee shops where people of the community can come in have a good cup of coffee or tea, and learn about Jesus if they want. You have to know that these churches are located in inner city areas, surrounded by poverty, crime, homelessness, etc. and unlike in the Bible belt of the states, most folks in these areas don't know much about Christians, or a church, or Jesus. So a coffee shop is a great way to reach out to people in a non threatening way. So is a holistic healing center that a church and my friend are planning. They are seeking to create a place that address spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical healing, knowing that all of these areas are tied into one's spiritual life and relationship with God. Churches in Bristol are feeding the hungry and homeless for free. Imagine this, instead of requiring people to pay to eat, they GIVE meals to those in need one day a week.
What these are doing, are what we in the states need to be doing, assessing the needs of the community in which they find themselves and trying to meet these needs to engage these people. In doing so meeting people where they are and sharing the love of Jesus, instead of requiring them to come into the church on Sunday morning for the first time. If you've forgotten how intimidating that is, go by yourself and visit a church where no one knows you. I've been reminded of this lately as I have been visiting different churches to preach. It's pretty scary at times even for me as the preacher. So let's meet folks where they are in love and grace even if we have to go out of our way just as Jesus did to meet the women at the well.
God loves ya, me too, Kel out
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Wow, it's Resurrection Weekend. On Friday I was able to participate in a multi church cross walk and prayer session. If you think walking down the streets of Kville with about 300 other folks with a police escort makes you a bit shy as people wonder why we are walking with a cross, try walking down the sidewalk in inner city England with only 20 other people and have folks stare at ya. It does tend to make one a tad nervous, but we can either stand up for Jesus or be ashamed, and I didn't want to be ashamed. I thought about what Jesus said: "If anyone acknowledges me publicly on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before my Father in heaven. But if anyone denies me on earth, I will deny that person before my Father in heaven.",so I waved, smiled at, and prayed for the folks who laughed at us and mocked us.
All over the world Sunday people will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and what this means for us. I have the honor of preaching on this most Holy day at Victory Church in Exeter. I'll be in England, preaching to an Indian Assembly of God congregation that meets at a Baptist Church. I hope you have a significant, joyful, and meaningful Resurrection weekend. Praise God Jesus is risen! God loves ya, me too, Kel out
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Before coming to England, I had heard how Christianity had declined here. I heard how when you drive around you see all of these former church buildings which are now taverns, pubs, museums, etc. The church to the left is now a used car lot.
As I write, there's a women's prayer group going on downstairs and I hear them playing the guitar and singing How Great is Our God, one of my favorite songs, and it is beautiful.
It is heartbreaking as I go through town and see all of these former churches. Why is this? Is America headed in this direction? You see, YOU are the Body of Christ. If we don't do God's will and the work He has for us to do, this is what happens. One of my good friends, Pastor Otto, has on the closing of his emails a quote from someone that says, "We are the ones we have been waiting for."
We Americans are highly indebted for the Christian teaching and nourishment that began here in Bristol and headed westward to us. It's sad to see this decline in an area where generations of Americans have benefited from Wesley, his teaching, his lay pastors, and what evolved into the United Methodist church, etc. The folks I am here with are trying to change this decline. They are involved in some creative ways of reaching out to folks, meeting them and their needs wherever they happen to be in life by reaching out, loving and sharing.
Jesus said if we love Him, we will obey His teachings (John 14.15). Some of us would argue is His most important teaching is for us to make followers (disciples). How are you doing in that area? I know, it's tough and everyone thinks that's the pastor's job, but if you're a Christian, it's your job. But instead of telling someone what Jesus can do for them, tell them what He has done for you! If you have nothing to tell, then you may not have a relationship with Jesus. John writes, "And we can be sure that we know him [Jesus] if we obey his teachings. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s teachings, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. (1John 2.3-4)
Will the place you worship be a car lot in 50 years? What are you doing to prevent it? Are you sharing Jesus? Today is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week when some 2000 years ago Jesus headed into Jerusalem to die for you and me. He died for us, what are we doing for Him?
God loves ya, me too, Kel out
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Cheers and hello from England. I am here in Bristol getting adjusted and seeing the different ministry opportunities. Friday I met Peter and Jane in downtown Bristol. They are Anglican Church missionaries who lived across the hall from me in Bethlehem. It was awesome to see them. It had only been a couple of months since I had seen them, but I had really missed them. They showed me around town and then went to "The New Room". This is the oldest Methodist Church in the world. We attended a lunch worship service and participated in a Lenten Holy Communion. Here's some info about Wesley and this church from a website with a comment or two of mine added. After studying Wesley for years, it was awesome to be here.
John Wesley first came to Bristol at the pleading of George Whitefield in 1739. Whitefield was leaving on a second visit to Georgia and, before he sailed, needed Wesley to sustain the work he had begun. Once the Bristol churches had been closed to him, Whitefield began to speak in the open air to the people of Kingswood, "proclaiming the glad news of salvation".
Wesley was unsure about the ecclesiastically irregular field preaching and came to Bristol somewhat reluctantly. At first he was taken aback by what was happening and wrote he "could scarce reconcile myself to his (Whitefield's) strange way of preaching in the fields". But a few days later, with the departure of Whitefield, he "submitted to become more vile" and in the brickyards preached to (he estimated) 3,000 people.[I love that, Wesley became "vile" and stepped out of the norm to share the good news of God's love, let's do the same] He continued preaching to the poor in the open air, gathering those who responded into religious societies which met in people's homes. Within weeks their numbers had increased so much that a new meeting place was needed. He bought a small patch of land and built what he called "our new room in the Horsefair".
It was used as a dispensary and schoolroom for the poor people of the area as well as for meetings and worship and for 18 Conferences. The Bristol Conference charged with the deepest significance was held in 1771 which took an open stand on the issue of "free and sovereign and universal grace", as opposed to Calvinism.
It was here, in a small room, that the Methodist class-meeting originated which became the basis for membership. The place is still known today by Methodists throughout the world as "the New Room" - the oldest purpose-built Methodist building in the world and the first-ever Methodist chapel, the only building which takes us straight back to the beginning of the Methodist story.
For those who are Methodists (and many others),our heritage is that of meeting people where there are, going to them, not waiting for them to come to us, stepping out of our norms, even to become vile in our own eyes, to share the good news of Jesus. Let's remember that and get out there. Jesus said to GO and make DISCIPLES, not to sit and wait for them to come! I'm preaching Sunday, prayers are appreciated. God love's ya, me too, Kel out!