Monthly Archives: February 2012


The Charism of Unity

The word charis, charism and charismatic really means grace, or gift. I write and speak a great deal about Christian unity. The norm, in our time, seems to be disunity, schism and brokenness. We seem to make peace with this norm, which in reality is sin. We see very few Christians living out our Lord's call to unity. In fact the number seems so small that at times it would seem that all calls to unity are hopelessly unsound and ludicrous.

When I began to walk in this direction, one which I now call missional-ecumenism, many told me I was not only wrong but that this new way was dangerous. I was warned that I would begin to work with Christians who were unsafe, ill-taught and even dangerous to my spiritual health. Yet the more I have shared my Christian life and experience with others, across a great array of Christian expressions, the more I've experienced grace through God's gift. Unity now stands out in an entirely new light in my mind and heart.

Is the World on a Permanent Downhill Slide?

Is the world on a permanent downhill slide? To listen to many Christians you would think so. During this political season you would think so even more than during other years. People, left and right, remind us daily of the dire consequences of this election and of what will happen if the wrong person, or party, is elected in November. For many you would think that America's entire future hangs in the balance. Pardon me if I am skeptical about all of this but I heard this message in 1960. I was only eleven years old. It was not true then and it is very likely not true now either. Wars followed Kennedy's election, economic cycles came and went, morals improved and declined (yes there have been ups and downs both). Over and over things went on coming and going like waves of the sea. Some things improved, some didn't. Has our culture drifted? Well, in some ways yes. Marriage is in deep trouble. But then if I was an African American I would say things have improved, at least in

Is It Time for an American Pope?

John AllenOne of the most respected Vatican journalists in our time is John L. Allen. In a recent opinion article in National Catholic Reporter: The Independent News Source (online) Allen begins his February 24th editorial by writing:

As a thought exercise, ask yourself what period of time the following paragraph about the Vatican seems to reflect.

"For those who've seen the place in better days, the Vatican looks deeply troubled. In the absence of strong leadership, internal tensions seem to be bursting into view. Even at the height of his powers, the pope took scant interest in governance. As he ages and becomes more limited, a sense of drift is mounting — a conviction that hard choices must await a new day, and probably a new pontiff."

You can read the entire, and very interesting, article here.


By |February 27th, 2012|Categories: Roman Catholicism|

The Slave Haven Underground Museum

MarkerDuring my time @ CCT (last week) I visited the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum in downtown Memphis. The museum is a house on the former estate of Jacob Burkle. Burkle immigrated to the United States from Germany in the 1840s. He initially settled in Arkansas. In fact, the place where he settled was Stuttgart. If you guessed that this was a destination for many German immigrants you would be right. Now, the irony of this little factoid is that my mother, and her Freeman family, were all residents of Stuttgart going back to some time in the 19th century. I have childhood memories from the 1950s in Stuttgart. It was called "The Rice Growing Capital of the United States." It was also famous for duck hunting, even billing itself, if memory is right, as "The Duck Hunting Capital of the World." (Don't ask me how they got that claim.) I still remember being awakened in the early morning at the Riceland Hotel by

By |February 24th, 2012|Categories: Civil Rights, Race and Racism|

More Information on CCT and My Week in Memphis

The last two days I've shared information about Christian Churches Together in the USA. Today I share from a fuller account of the week issued today as a press release about the meeting. CCT completed its sixth annual meeting (February 14-17, 2012) in Memphis, Tennessee. Some 85 church and organizational leaders (representing 36 African American, Catholic, Historic Protestant, Evangelical/Pentecostal and Orthodox churches and 6 Christian organizations: American Bible Society, Bread for the World, Evangelicals for Social Action, Habitat For Humanity, Sojourners and World Vision) met to discern together how CCT should respond to racism and poverty now. This theme began in last year’s annual meeting (which was held in Birmingham) and it was decided to continue the theme this year drawing on the historical resources of Memphis.

The participants visited the National Civil Rights Museum/Lorraine Motel (site of Dr. King’s martyrdom), Slave Haven Museum (an Underground Railroad safe house), and the historic Mason Temple where Dr. King delivered his “Mountain Top” speech. We heard an inspiring sermon from Bishop Claire Burkat (ELCA) to begin our time together.

Statement from the Annual Meeting of Christian Churches Together

05586rFebruary 17, 2012

One in Christ for the Sake of All

Representatives of the churches and organizations of Christian Churches Together in the United States assembled in Memphis, February 14-17, 2012, to respond to one question:

How might the Holy Spirit use the witness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his Letter from the Birmingham Jail to help the church live the Gospel more fully and proclaim it more faithfully?

In our time together, our hearts and our minds have been engaged by Jesus’ announcement that:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives

and recovery of sight to the

Christian Churches Together

Secondary_rotate07Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT) is a new forum that grew out of a deeply felt need to broaden and expand fellowship, unity, and witness among the diverse expressions of Christian faith today. It is a 21st century movement that is inclusive of the diversity of Christian families in the United States — Evangelical, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Pentecostals, historic Protestant, Racial and Ethnic churches. One of the things that makes CCT unique is that all five of these churches (Catholic, Orthodox, historic Protestant, Evangelical/Pentecostal and African American) are present and each person who shares in the meeting shares with each other in wonderfully personal and relaxed ways. Honestly, I know nothing else quite like it. 

Christian Churches Together provides a context — marked by prayer, theological dialogue and fellowship — in which churches can develop relationships with other churches with whom they presently have little

Finding Our Way Back to the Mission of Jesus

In my personal conservative (white) background the mission of Jesus was understood in almost entirely private and individual terms. We were called to preach the gospel to the lost and then to call on them to come to Jesus personally. That was it. Everything else was just an "add-on" (not part of the gospel or necessary) since this private spiritual message is what really mattered. Over the last several decades I have come to question this assumption very deeply. I question it because it simply doesn't fit into the narrative of the four Gospels, the message we see in the life and mission of Jesus. Recently a story in Luke 4 reminded me of this point afresh.

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

   16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He

By |February 20th, 2012|Categories: Gospel/Good News, Jesus, Poverty|

True Leadership?

Some years ago I was asked to teach a six-part leadership seminar in local churches around the country. I did this while I was still an active local church pastor. I taught, on average, about two seminars a month. I usually began on Friday night with two-45 minute sessions and then did four more on Saturday, returning home in time to preach in my own church on Sunday morning. This experience actually prepared me to teach more widely. After a few years at this work I was offered a position where I would teach this material on a full-time basis. I chose, however, not to leave the pastorate for another four years. Then in 1991-92 I became convinced of a new vision, one centered upon church renewal. My heart was being drawn outward toward the whole church. Thus on May 1, 1992, I became the full-time president of what is now called ACT 3. I had begun ACT 3 in 1991 to launch a quarterly journal "for leaders" called the Reformation & Revival Journal.

By |February 17th, 2012|Categories: Leadership|

The One Who Takes the Son Gets Everything: A Parable


Ever so often I am forwarded an anonymous story or parable that is worth keeping and sharing. Most are too romantic for my tastes. Some are just not very good stories. One never knows who found or wrote these stories because they just get passed along from person to person with no attribution. I got one such story last week from a good friend. Instead of simply passing it along I share it today as a blog post.

I have to say that this parable (or story) speaks to the very heart and soul of faith and the work of Christ on our behalf. I loved it and thus I now share it. The punctuation is not mine but in the original copy I received. If anyone can tell me the source I will be happy to acknowledge it. For now just enjoy this powerful story . . . . 
A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: