The Kingdom that Begins with Lent

What kind of a kingdom begins with Lent?  Well, a good and godly one.  In fact, the gospel story begins with Jesus announcing the presence of God’s kingdom, and then proposing our proper response in “Lenten terms.”  “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced.  “The kingdom of God is near!  Repent of your sins and believe the Good News “(Mark 1:15, NLT). At least at the beginning, all who enter or participate in the kingdom Jesus announces will do so in Lenten terms. Most of my church friends will agree that this makes sense.  All have sinned … .  So, yes, repent of your sins if you want anything to do with the kingdom of the …

ON HAITI AND AFRICA

As last week wound down, and then over the weekend, we all heard reports of disparaging remarks about the nation of Haiti and certain unnamed African countries.  These reports have sparked many different kinds of responses from people of different faiths and no faith, different political leanings, and different tones. The Free Methodist Church commits to viewing the world and its peoples through eyes and hearts shaped by the person and mission of Jesus, and seeks to interact in the world along paths forged by Jesus in his own ministry.  Therefore, generalized characterizations of people and nations, by their very nature, cannot help but misrepresent and disrespect the people of those nations.  As a matter of fact, it is because …

BABY AS IMMANUEL!

In a world desperately in need of good news and forlornly weary of platitudes we celebrate the coming of Immanuel—God with us—in the gift of Jesus   Glory to God in the highest!  Well, yes, but what about us in the lowest? If it doesn’t work for the whole world and all of reality, does it truly work?  That’s a question I have been asking in recent years.  I was forced to ask it seriously and urgently when I began going to other places, addressing other cultures, and found that some of my most “creative” stuff just didn’t work there and in those circumstances.  So, does it work for the whole world—for the highest and the lowest places and those who …

FOR FREEDOM!

The Free Methodist Church celebrates Freedom!  After all, we are not just Methodists, we are Free Methodists. We are not libertarian (I refer not to the political party but to the dictionary meaning here), not people of license, not given to “whatever,” determined by whomever,” “however” we might.  Rather, we are Free in relation to enslavements common to humans beings–specifically characteristic in the U.S. in the mid-19th century, yet universally characteristic of people everywhere all the time.   I  would synthesize and articulate several core freedoms Free Methodists champion as follows: The Freedom of access to worship, against pew-rental or sale (19th century) and for generous welcoming of all and especially the poor (then, now, and always). The Freedom and …

JESUS IS THE ELEPHANT

Jesus is the elephant–the elephant of the story, the elephant in the room, and the elephant that is unlike any other. Jesus is the elephant of the story.  The story has become a well-known parable, tracing back to ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts some 2500 years ago.  Commonly called “the parable of the blind men and the elephant,” the story goes like this: A group of blind men learn about a strange creature, called an elephant, and proceed to examine it by physically touching it.  Each touches the elephant in different places, and draws conclusions based on what he perceives from his manual examination.  One feels the trunk and says the creature is like a thick snake.  Another touches an …