It is an oft-stated fact that since the merger in 1968, the United Methodist Church in America has had a decrease in membership every year. There is this sobering, yet hopeful video that probably many of you have seen that can share that information better than I can, and there are many reasons for our steady decline, but let me talk about one of them here: our failure to plant churches. Continue reading
Category Archives: Thoughts on Life with God
This past Sunday I had the wonderful opportunity to preach on Noah. So what did I use as my illustrations? I read one of Micah’s storybooks on Noah, I talked about playing Madden on my various gaming systems, and I had to mention Field of Dreams. This was one of my favorite combinations of illustrations though I still prefer the Sunday that I compared Jesus to Michael Scott from the The Office and professed my tremendous love for bacon. Now these are not necessarily your common illustrations, and I doubt that you will find many of these in your standard books of illustrations. They are, however, for me vehicles that carry on the narrative theme of the sermon, (You’ll have to trust me about that.) while also providing an important aspect to preaching: the preacher as character. Continue reading
Today is a great day to be an American, and a confusing day to be a Christian. In the immediate aftermath of the death of Osama Bin Laden, I think us who are Christians and Americans find ourselves with many emotions. We are proud of our military, our intelligent agency, and our government for their continued pursuits of justice for September 11, 2001 that resulted in a successful military operation. We feel relieved that a man who has done an unfathomable amount of evil is no longer able to do that evil. We mourn as we are reminded about the loss of life from September 11th, and our hearts hurt for those families who live with the painful reality of loss every day. And some of us feel joy that Bin Laden has been killed, and we wonder if we should feel that way. Continue reading
I thought that I would have a list of things that I am looking forward to in our appointment to the communities of Roland and Muldrow through Trinity UMC. These are in no particular order.
1. Finally being able to live out my call from High School. People at my work have asked me if I am excited about going to be a pastor, and I tell them this: If you had a goal in front of you for 9 years (I accepted my call in the Summer of 2001), and you have spent the past 9 years pursuing that goal. And now it is almost here, then yes, I am pretty excited.
2. Preaching every week. I love preaching, and it is truly one of the gifts that God has given me. Even though I have preached probably over 60 sermons, and I have preached a revival and at Youth Force. I am greatly excited about preaching to a particular community week after week, and journeying with a congregation.
3. Reading books that I want to read. Continue reading
I thank God for caller I.D. Beginning in mid-February, every time the phone rang, I would get somewhat anxious… this could be the call that tells me where the next step in our journey would be. So, every time the phone rang, I would immediately look to see who it was, knowing that possibly there would be a 405, 580, or 918 (Oklahoma area codes) phone number that I would not recognize. Finally (and it would feel like a finally whether I had been waiting 5 days or 5 weeks), the phone rang, and I didn’t recognize the number, but it began 918. I looked at Heather told her this could be the call took a deep breath and answered it. “Aaron, this is Linda Harker.” Continue reading
I have at times been critical of the United Methodist Church, though I try to be fair anytime I critique the church, however this is not one of those blogs. In fact, this is a blog of praise of our church. The UMC does some things very well, and one of the best aspects of our church is the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Not only do they respond immediately to crisis, but they stay on the ground longer than most other organizations. If you have not given to the disaster in Haiti, I would strongly encourage you to give through UMCOR. 100% of your money will go to relief, and you can be assured that they will be good stewards of your money. This tragedy is personal for the folks at UMCOR as two of their leaders Sam Dixon and Clinton Rabb passed away in the Haiti earthquakes, while they were there working with Methodist leaders about what could be done to improve conditions for folks in that country.
Of course, for UMCOR every tragedy is personal because we are connected to one another. This is a tragedy on a grand scale, and while I do not know anyone who passed away. I know people, and I know grief, and I can only begin to comprehend the pain that is present for many there, who are so busy surviving that they have not had time to grieve. While for many of us, we have been so busy being busy that we have not grieved with them. So, do something. Go here and donate. If you have the chance, get on a plane and sacrifice your time. At the very least, Get on your knees and pray this.
We confess that in our busyness, we have ignored the sufferings of your people. We can avoid the brokeness of our brothers and sisters by merely changing the channel and reading the Sports page. Forgive us, for our veiled attempt at sacrifice. Create in us a new heart that flows with your love for others, and enliven the Spirit inside of us to be your disciples who love our neighbors both near and far. Amen
“What more do we need to do?” That was the question that the white-haired, white-skinned gentleman asked our dark-haired, dark-skinned professor. We had been talking about Sunday morning at 11:00 being still the most segregated hour on Sunday Morning, and the hands and the blood pressures in the room went up. There were a variety of thoughts, opinions, and questions but this dark-haired, dark-skinned professor’s answer to his question is what stood out most to me. Continue reading