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Bishop's Blog Archive


Entire Sanctification (A Guest Blog) ©

As I have indicated in previous blogs during this time of crisis in The United Methodist Church, I find myself being driven back to core purposes for The United Methodist Church. In doing so, I cannot avoid wrestling on a deeper level than I have in ...

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A Key Sign of Spiritual Health and Disciple-making Vitality ©

I returned home from a month of renewal leave last Monday (Aug. 19), and quickly found myself re-immersed in the regular routine of the episcopal office. There were predictable emails awaiting me about this initiative or that problem. A slew of ...

New Faith Communities, Missions and CTCYM ©

While I am on renewal leave, I have invited Rev. Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director of the Smith Center for Evangelism, Missions and Church Growth to share a guest blog.  This report was originally published June 19, 2019.  Bishop Mike Lowry At ...

As the Storm Rages: Part III ©

This Blog is part three of a three-part blog series pulled from my 2019 Episcopal Address delivered on June 11 to the lay and clergy members of the 109th Annual Meeting the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. To view the video ...

As the Storm Rages: Part II ©

This Blog is part two of a three-part blog series pulled from my 2019 Episcopal Address delivered on June 11 to the lay and clergy members of the 109th Annual Meeting the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. To view the video of ...

As the Storm Rages: Part I ©

This Blog is part one of a three-part blog series pulled from my 2019 Episcopal Address delivered on June 11 to the lay and clergy members of the 109th Annual Meeting the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. To view the video of ...

A New Thing ©

After the called General Conference in St. Louis, I (along with others) was asked to write a brief article for Circuit Rider, an online magazine put out by The United Methodist Publishing House. The writers were asked specifically to not re-argue or...

Lessons from a Christian Hero ©

It is the morning after St. Patrick’s Day and I find myself musing about what this great Christian hero would teach us. I invite us to get past green rivers, green beer and the wearing of the green for there is a towering Christian who stands both ...

The Journey to Jerusalem ©

If Lent is anything, it is a journey with Jesus to Jerusalem - to the cross and beyond. If Lent is anything, it is a journey of faith. Recently, I have been reading Matthew Bates probing book on New Testament theology Salvation by Allegiance Alone: ...

Reclaiming the Heart of the Wesleyan Way #13 ©

Faith Sharing The story is well known and speaks to the heart of the Wesleyan Way. Roger Ross relates it as follows: On April 2, 1739, at age thirty-five, Wesley took the plunge: At four in the afternoon I submitted to ‘be more vile,’ and proclaimed ...

Learnings and Sharings ©

This has been a great week of learnings and sharings around the Conference. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week, we held our annual Fall Cabinet Retreat at Stillwater Lodge. As a part of our work together, we focused on team building, ...

Beware of Nostalgia ©

Two pieces of reading and variety of reflective conversations with a wide and extremely diverse collection of people have caught my attention recently. As he commonly does, Gil Rendle offers insightful reflections on the challenge a nostalgic longing...

Faith Sharing Exercises ©

At our recent Annual Conference meeting in Waco, we engaged a series of faith sharing exercises. They are simple tools or exercises that can be used in a Sunday School Class, a United Methodist Women’s group (UMW) or a United Methodist Men’s meeting ...

THE COURAGE TO MARCH © PT 4

Central Texas Conference Episcopal Address given by Bishop Mike Lowry June 6, 2016 PART IV – “A Time for Courageous Leadership” Leadership development for both lay and clergy remains and must remain a top priority. To this end two years ago we ...

THE COURAGE TO MARCH © PT 3

Central Texas Conference Episcopal Address given by Bishop Mike Lowry June 6, 2016 PART III – “The Sinews of Methodism and the Recovery of Evangelism” A second element in focusing on local congregations coincides with the importance of small group ...

THE COURAGE TO MARCH © PT 2

Central Texas Conference Episcopal Address given by Bishop Mike Lowry June 6, 2016 PART II – “A Relentless Focus on the Mission” As we move into a new quadrennium the pathway before us is clear. We must retain a relentless focus on our mission – “to ...

THE COURAGE TO MARCH ©: Part 1

Central Texas Conference Episcopal Address given June 6, 2016 by Bishop J. Michael Lowry PART I – “A New Thing” I am mindful what day today is as I stand to speak to you. This is the day is the 72nd anniversary of what is commonly known as simply ...

Preparing for Conference ©

Today (Tuesday, May 31, 2016) as a spent time in my morning devotionals, one of the assigned texts for my reading was Matthew 7:15-20. 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you dressed like sheep, but inside they are vicious wolves. 16 You ...

In a Mirror Dimly: The Future of the United Methodist Church, PT 4

On April first of this year, I had the privilege and high honor of being asked to address a gathering of the United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy Conference at Armstrong Chapel United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. The address is ...

In a Mirror Dimly: The Future of the United Methodist Church, PT 3

On April first of this year, I had the privilege and high honor of being asked to address a gathering of the United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy Conference at Armstrong Chapel United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. The address is ...

“In a Mirror Dimly”: The Future of the United Methodist Church, PT 1

On April first of this year, I had the privilege and high honor of being asked to address a gathering of the United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy Conference at Armstrong Chapel United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. The address is ...

A WITNESS IN HONOR OF ST. PATRICK ©

“I rise today in power’s strength, invoking the Trinity, believing in threeness, confessing the oneness, of creation’s Creator.” Thus opens the full text of the famous Celtic prayer St. Patrick’s Breastplate. There is more, much more, to the prayer ...

Patience for a Patient ©

Tuesday morning at about 9:15 a.m. I walked in the doors of Texas Health Resources Harris Hospital Southwest. As I walked up to the information desk where I was to report in for my knee replacement surgery, an elderly woman using a cane and wearing a...

Musing on Run ©

I returned a week ago from a tremendous learning and sharing ministry in the Philippines. Together with Bishops John Schol, Rudy Juan, Ciriaco Franscisco, and Peter Torio, I was privileged to share in the COB Bright Spots Project on building vital ...

Lenten Musings – The End of Casual Christianity

Casual Christianity as we know it is dying. For a good decade now carefully observant pastors have noticed people who typically would worship a couple of times a month moving to worship patterns that are more episodic. A variety of studies (Pew, ...

EPIPHANY: The Light in Our Darkness #7

  Moving Beyond the Church World © We stood gazing over the impressive “hemi” engine at the Good Guys Car Show located on the grounds of the Fort Worth Motor Speed Way. My cousins, Fred and Tom, peered intently inside the hood of the “hot rod.” ...

EPIPHANY: The Light in Our Darkness #5

Evangelism as Mission © One of my treasured books is an old copy of D. T. Niles classic That They May Have Life (copyright 1951). D. T. Niles was a great evangelist, pastor, leader of the World Student Christian Federation, President of the Ceylon ...

EPIPHANY: The Light in Our Darkness #4

First Steps at Recovering a Personal Witness© I have had the joy of serving a number of wonderful churches. On one occasion at Asbury United Methodist Church, we consciously geared up to teach evangelism and faith sharing. This was a congregation ...

Reporting From the Mission Field

There a many great avenues of ministry taking place in the Central Texas Conference and around the larger church. One of them lies in new church development. It is important to remember that every church was at one point in its life a new church. ...

BEHIND THE SCENES

After the talk of schism and arguments over same gender issues settles, there is an emerging consensus over the importance of building vital congregations. This great consensus is built on the foundation of commitment to the stated mission of The ...

On the Way to the Council

As I write this blog, I am sitting in a hotel room in Nashville, Tennessee, Wednesday October 29th. We have just finished the annual fall meeting of the United Methodist Publishing House Board. (Cokesbury & Abingdon Press are two of the better known ...

Re-Learning from John the Evangelist

In an earlier blog (September 26, 2014 – Medical Camp & the Ongoing Ministry of Ken Diehm), I wrote about the incredible experience of participating in a Medical Mission Camp near Maua, Kenya. We were among the poorest of the poor and engaged in a ...

High Windows

A week ago Wednesday (September 24th) I stood outside the chapel at Maua Methodist Hospital in Kenya. The hospital conducts daily chapel worship every morning with the expectation that all hospital staff will attend. Graciously they had asked that ...

MAUA MISSION

The day opens with worship at 7:30 in the hospital chapel. The simple but pleasant sanctuary fills with hospital staff and we stand to sing. The music comes from an old British Methodist hymnal and is known to many of us. As the voices lift in song, ...

For All the Saints: Bob, Blessing and Baptism

Today, Thursday, September 11, 2014, I went to the funeral service for one of saints of the Central Texas Conference, Robert H. Briles, Sr., “Bob.” Such occasions always lead me to reflect on life; its meaning and fragility. Bob went from being a ...

Six Critical Questions

For the past year and a half, the Cabinet of the Central Texas Conference has been working with the Lencioni organization (The Table Group) in assimilating and implementing lessons from Lencioni’s bestselling book The Advantage: Why Organizational ...

That’s Path 1

At the recent meeting of the Path 1 Advisory Board in Charlotte, North Carolina, Rev. Martin Lee the new church developer for the Northern Illinois Conference shared a story of the start of a new church in Brookfield, Illinois (in the Chicago ...

Faith, Hope and Clarity - and the Greatest of These is Clarity

When I was working on Doctor of Ministry degree (D. Min.), I had the privilege of studying under a marvelous preaching professor at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary named Robert Shelton. (Dr. Shelton later served as Dean and President at ...

Lessons from Jerusalem to Antioch to Central Texas

I am nearing the end of Michael Green’s book Thirty Years that Changed the World: The Book of Acts for Today. While the first edition was published over 20 years ago (1993) and the second edition was republished 12 years ago, I find its relevance ...

Critical Behavioral Change

Common wisdom is that we change our beliefs, then our actions follow. Reality is often different. Most of us act our way into a new way of thinking and believing. If we push hard on this distinction, the truth emerges that it is a both/and not an ...

Annual Conference Focuses on Making Disciples

I am often asked, “What is the theme of this year’s Annual Conference?” For me, the answer is always the same. Our theme is “to energize and equip local congregations to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The theme ...

MISSION TO FORT WORTH

What comes to your mind when you think of a missionary? I must confess that my usual image is both anchored in the past and colonial in genre. I imagine Albert Schweitzer and pith helmets. Intellectually I know better. Here in Central Texas we are ...

Taking the Podium – Congratulations to Barclay Berdan

In mid-February I wrote a heartfelt blog congratulating Bliss Dodd for receiving the Perkins School of Theology Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award. In part I commented, “I cannot help but reflect that it was only a couple of weeks ago that I attended the ...

Purpose and Identity

Periodically I am asked to review a book and write an endorsement for Abingdon Press. I just finished my latest – John Flowers’ and Karen Vannoy’s new book, Adapt to Thrive: How Your Church Must Identify Itself as a Unique Species, Modify Its ...

Joyful & Triumphant - Really?

I realize full well that it is January 17th but I am still stuck on Advent and Christmastide and their resulting connection to Epiphany Season. The word “epiphany” means a manifestation, a making known, an appearing. For Christians in particular the ...

The Vital Connection of Vision and Obedience

Friday (October 25, 2013) I wrote a blog on Vision. In that blog I quoted Proverbs 29:18 in both the KJV translation and the CEB (Common English Bible) translation. Respectively the verse is rendered: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but...

CORE STRATEGIES: New Churches

A remarkable event took place at the 2013 meeting of the Central Texas Conference. During the Center for Evangelism and Church Growth report, four specific initiatives related to our core strategy of new church development were launched. 1. Lance ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #2

(This Blog is a part of a series of blogs sharing insights from the “Findings, Implications, & Recommendations” reported by Dr. Weems about the Central Texas Conference. This report analyzes key trends related to church size and clergy deployment ...

Reclaiming a Robust Christology

Off and on for the last 3 months I have been working on paper that I will present at the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies. The Institute gathers every five years at Christ Church College, Oxford, England where John Wesley studied. ...

Facing Death and Reading Love Wins

Over the fourth of July weekend I have had a time of reflection, prayer and thought. On the morning of July 4th I left Fort Worth to drive up to Oklahoma to be with my wife, Jolynn. Jolynn was in Oklahoma with her mother, who has been battling a ...

Steady in Purpose and Flexible in Strategy

June 20-21 the bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction (SCJ) held a traditional event in a nontraditional location and manner. For decades (with only occasional lapses) the bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction have sponsored a learning retreat...

Faith, Hope and Clarity

Most of us know the great closing of I Corinthians 13, "And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love" (I Corinthians 13:13). What many of us are unaware of is the old King James Version translation of love was ...

Is That All There is to It?

The night before the recent CTC Conference on Stewardship, the Cabinet met with Clif Christopher and Joe Park (the Conference teachers). Those of you who know stewardship and know Clif are aware that the subject is really spiritual formation, mission...

Outwardly Focused & Upwardly Witnessing

Allow me to begin with a story that comes from Pastor Steve Nance at Groesbeck First UMC. “The lady that runs our local housing authority office called the church some time back asking for clothing for one of her clients. She called nine local ...

Lifting Up Diversity as a Core Value

While on our recent pilgrimage of the Holy Land, we encountered impressive religious and ethnic diversity. I can recall a wonderful discussion with one of the guides who is a conservative Jew and another guide who is a practicing Syrian Orthodox ...

The United Methodist Witness and the Christmas Imperative

One of the more perceptive thinkers on the United Methodist Church in our time is Dr. Lovett Weems. He is a former President of St. Paul’s School of Theology and currently serves as Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley ...

The Strangest Thing

For years I have enjoyed reading Circuit Rider magazine. The most recent addition focuses on mission and evangelism. It is worth perusing. I did so and ran into the following story from an article entitled “Evangelism with the Never-Churched” by Dr. ...

Prayer, Justice, Teaching and Evangelism

The last part of this week has been fascinating. It is include much of the key elements of the Wesleyan way of being Christian in my life. Thursday morning opened with a breakfast with my prayer and accountability partner. It is a way I stay grounded...

Evangelism and Social Holiness

In my travels and reading I constantly come across the deep Methodist Conviction that Social and Personal Holiness go together. In fact, Professor Ted Campbell (Perkins School of Theology) notes in his excellent summary Methodist Doctrine: The ...