Months of Ministry

As we see in the life of Jesus, ministry can be busy and needs pauses for rest. The last several weeks have been such a combination in my experience.

Summer camp with Sycamore View Church of Christ was a time of fun and formation, as expected, and turned out differently than expected. The week before camp, I got a call from Southwest Tennessee Community College inviting me to teach a five-week, five-day-a-week, summer class starting the week of camp. Although I didn’t want to miss any of camp, I knew the extra money from summer teaching would help my family. The camp director helped me find other people to take my places in facilitating a daily small group and refereeing a daily game. I was able to accept the invitation from Southwest and keep my camp counselor role, driving over an hour back into Memphis in the mornings, returning to camp in the afternoons, attending the evening activities, and spending each night in a large cabin full of middle school students and three other counselors. The camp theme this year was “Move,” and we learned valuable lessons from the biblical book of Exodus.

In addition to camp, we served homeless Memphians again, went on an end-of-summer white water rafting trip, and had Sunday night devotionals (we call them LiFT).

Also, our congregation was one of five (three mostly black and two mostly white) that met together for two combined events. The first was a prayer vigil. We prayed for racial peace in our city, which has been experiencing a larger than usual amount of racial tension. The second was a combined communion service, in which we continued and started interracial relationships in the body of Christ.

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From September 30 to October 2, God blessed me with an opportunity to speak at the fall retreat of the Ambassadors for Christ, a campus ministry at the University of Arizona. The people were friendly. The food was impressive. And the mountains in southeastern Arizona were breathtakingly beautiful. My talks at the A4C retreat arose from the Gospel of Mark, explored the kingdom of God, and encouraged students to live out the kingdom way of life found in Jesus.

The teenagers’ Sunday morning Bible class of Cordova Community Church also has been studying Mark. In this series, we do a modified version of lectio divina (contemplative reading). Although anything contemplative can be difficult for teenagers (or any other age group) in this culture, we listen to the text and invite God to work on/in us through the readings. We try to get ourselves into the text and the text into us with the goal of spiritual transformation.

CCC’s Sunday morning sermon series this summer was “Blessed to Bless.” Barry and I preached about praying, listening, eating, serving, and storying as elements of missional life.

Now we’re in a sermon series called “God and Politics,” in which we explore how the Christian faith can influence our decisions and interactions in a stressful and confusing season of presidential campaigning. Yesterday, in addition to endorsing one of our teenagers as the next President of the USA, I called us to avoid hateful actions and words in our interactions with people who disagree with us about political topics (see Titus 3:1-2; 1 Peter 2:9-17; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Jeremiah 29:4-7). Thanks to Matt Carter for this photo:

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This semester is very busy for me. I’m taking PhD seminars, serving in ministry with CCC, and teaching college classes. However, as I said in a recent Harding School of Theology chapel sermon, in busy times we must remember spiritual disciplines, including rest. Today and tomorrow are fall break, and I’m enjoying extra time with my family. This weekend we watched two movies at home and spent a couple of hours at Dixon Gallery and Gardens. This morning I got out of bed much later than usual, and this afternoon my son and I went out to snack and play.

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