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 the entire address, please visit our AC19 video archive webpage at ctcumc.org/AC19-videos. To view or download the slides used in the address, go to ctcumc.org/AC19-slides. - Bishop Mike Lowry
As the storm rages, I bid you always and everywhere to remember that with Christ in the lead, we are approaching the Cape of Good Hope. Thus, it is of first order in importance, that we must keep Christ at the center of our life, ministry and relationships.
As the Storm rages: KEEP CHRIST AT THE CENTER
Alan Hirsch has it right. “The desperate, prayer-soaked human clinging to Jesus, the reliance on His Spirit, and the distillation of the gospel message into the simple, uncluttered message of ‘Jesus as Lord and Savior’ catalyzed the missional potencies in the heart of the people of God.”
As the Storm rages: LIVE IN HUMILITY
I know this is shocking, but you and I might both be wrong! Do you recall at Senator John McCain’s memorial service one of the speakers highlighted his humility even while he passionately held strong convictions? The comment that sticks with me is one that goes something like “On the high road of humility, you won’t encounter an abundance of traffic.” Even more to the point is that we need to live Paul’s word to the embattle Philippian church.
“Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other. Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:”
As the Storm rages: LET PRAISE RING OUT
In the passionate intensity of our time, it is a matter of critical spiritual importance to let praise of God in Christ through the presence of power of the Holy Spirit have the first word over our lives. St. Augustine, arguably the greatest Christian thinker and theological outside of the Scriptures themselves, would often start his prayers in Confessions with the words “Great is the Lord and greatly are you to be praised.” Praise reminds us not only of who we are, but of whose we are! It centers us in allegiance to the Lord. It is easy to begin with a complaint or gripe. It is also un-Christian. To guard myself against doing so, I have taken to reading a Psalm every morning as a part of my devotional time. Remember, “theology [talk about God] without doxology [praise of God] leads to ideology.” Wherever you are on the theological spectrum, all of us need more theology and less ideology! Which leads naturally to a deeper life of prayer and spiritual openness to the Lord’s love and guidance.
As the Storm rages: TRUST THE LORD
This sounds obvious and easy, but it is not. Whether or not it is clear to you, the Lord is work. Live out of Proverbs chapter 3, verses 5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence. Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight.”
The great Roman Catholic theologian Teilhard de Chardin understood this essence well. He wrote poem entitled “Patient Trust” whose first stanza reads as follows:
Trust and obedience biblically and theologically are linked. Remember the old hymn, “trust and obey, trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
As the Storm rages: FOCUS ON MAKING DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD
I have said this over and over and I am going to keep saying this over and over because it is so true! If you are an ardent progressive, what do you need most as the church moves into a new more inclusive future? You need vibrant vital congregations that are committed heart and soul to “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” If you are a passionate traditionalist, what do you need most as the church moves into a new more orthodox future? You need vibrant vital congregations that are committed heart and soul to “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” So, wherever we are on the spectrum of the debate which threatens to swamp the ship of the church today, what we all need are more vibrant vital congregations that are committed heart and soul to “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
This is, of course, precisely the Great Commission of the crucified and risen Lord to his followers as found at the close of St. Matthew’s gospel. This is our wildly important goal, our WIG!
Friends, let’s keep the main thing the main thing. We have great reason to give thanks and celebrate. Stories, narratives, of transformation abound. In the WIG awards we are encountering during this Annual Conference, we find but a small sampling of these inspiring stories. Truly, the Lord is moving in our midst! For over a full year we have been showing growth in average worship attendance. The Central Texas Conference is one of two or three conferences in the United States where this is happening. You are to be congratulated!!! Don’t miss the importance of this.
Part one of this this blog series was published Tuesday, June 18. Part three is scheduled to post Tuesday, June 25.