Tag Archives: Methodist

SONG: Wesley’s Prayer

Below, I have inserted a link to a new song based on the traditional Wesley’s Prayer that I have fallen in love with. I heard it for the first time at the Wesleyan Covenant Association’s inaugural event in Chicago in October 2016. Check it out!

Here’s the traditional Wesley’s Prayer as well.

“I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,

exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven.



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Disconnect at the Connectional Table

Great article about the craziness at United Methodism’s recent Connectional Table.

My response?
In Genesis, we read of the people becoming unified and of one mind… But their unity of thought & purpose would have taken them further from God’s plan & purpose. So, according to Scripture God intervened and purposely brought division in order to frustrate their unified, yet ungodly, plan. My point is this: it’s NEVER Godly to just seek unity. Rather, as we seek God & Godly behavior, all who do the seeking find themselves more unified. Stop seeking unity & seek God!
Please read this article & share your responses!

David F. Watson

Recently the Connectional Table of The United Methodist Church engaged in a dialogue over human sexuality. I was under the impression that the purpose of dialogue was to increase understanding, and perhaps even reach consensus. Apparently I was wrong. According to an article on UMC.org,

The Connectional Table, one of The United Methodist Church’s governing bodies, has decided to draft legislation that could change church law “to fully include LGBTQ persons in the life and ministry of the church.”

The draft would be brought back to the Connectional Table at a future meeting for consideration. The April 29 decision to draft the legislation came the same day the Connectional Table began a series of three public discussions on human sexuality.

Wait a minute…. The decision came the same day as the Connectional Table began their discussion? Doesn’t this type of legislation presuppose the outcome of the discussion? If this…

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Memoirs & A Message to Remember

Sometime yesterday, a link was sent to me for the Memoirs section of the Annual Conference (Western PA) 2013 Journal . I have always enjoyed (that’s not quite the right word) and appreciated reading the stories of faithful men and women, clergy and laity both, who have now received their eternal reward.

The memoir for Dave Panther, who had served most recently in Butler, shared an excerpt from his journal, which was also read at his funeral. It challenged me on this Friday morning.

At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212, water boils – produces steam – that can move engines. One degree is the difference between hot and boiling. One degree can make all the difference. How does the church go from hot to boiling? What is the one degree that takes the church from “stirring” to “steaming”? What is the one degree that turns the wheels of machinery? System. Strategies. Plans. Consultants. Books. Research. What is hot – what is not? Acts – the early church had No consultants, No books, No early pioneers, No system, No research. – Yet one simple strategy…. Trust the spirit. Pray – listen – trust – act. Their steps were bigger. Their courage; much more. The risk: their lives! Pray – listen – trust – act. O God – I pray to you today – help! Help me to know where you are leading, where you are working! People watch me…. Please do not let me drown in doubt – or be swallowed up in fear. Help. …That one degree – it is You. You can make the difference between Hot and Boiling. I desire your spirit to take me to the next level – I desire your spirit to take our church to the next level.


Check out the entire memoirs section here.

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Toward a Theology of Levity

One of the Wesleyan theological bloggers I regularly follow is Craig Adams. I really identified with this blog post: Toward a Theology of Levity. Check it out!

Toward a Theology of Levity | Theology | Commonplace Holiness

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What is United Methodism?

In 2001, in Patton, PA, most of the town’s churches (Protestant and Catholic) gathered during Lent, as they had done for years prior. But this year, 2001, the pastors agreed to them their ‘devotional’ message (given on the week their congregation served the soup & sandwich supper) around the beliefs and traditions of their Church. These are essentially my notes from that night 10 years ago. The only changes were spelling and grammar.

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DAYTON’S NOTES for Lenten Supper March 27, 2001

What is United Methodism?

So… What makes us United Methodists unique?

You see, in the early part of the 1700s, an Oxford student named John Wesley and his brother Charles, were part of a small group of college buddies that got together regularly to pray, read the Bible, and encourage one another in their Christian walk.

Their intent was to help each other be obedient to the Biblical command that called for holiness and holy living from the people of God.

And they knew that alone they were going to mess it up. The church of their day was filled with priests and people who simply went through the motions of religion when they were in church services and lived like the devil all the rest of the week.

So these young men banded together to try and help each other face the temptations and the distractions so that they might be “holy unto the Lord.”

They believed a set pattern of consistently immersing themselves in God’s Word was needed if they were going to be Christian. They also felt that Jesus’ instructions about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoners, were to be taken seriously… and that we as Christians ought to be about Jesus’ business in those areas.

At one point, they called their group a “holy club.” Other students laughed at them and called them names like “method–ists.”

The name stuck, and Methodist to this day is a good description of what this denomination of Christians believes.

We believe that we must be INTENTIONAL about following Jesus Christ. You can’t simply be baptized and then never acknowledge Christ again. You can’t simply claim to have “accepted Jesus” and then live like the devil from then on. You can’t simply go to church and figure you’ve made it into Heaven.

The analogy of a newborn baby fits pretty well here. Just like a baby has quite a bit of time between conception and its birth, so Methodism teaches that God’s grace is poured out on us even before we are “spiritually born” and that the church, like the mother of that baby in the womb, has a role in caring and nurturing the yet unborn child of God.

In the same way that the baby in the womb eventually reaches a critical moment when the mother’s water breaks and the baby is born, so Methodism teaches that there will be a critical moment where each of us will be “born again,” consciously deciding to allow Christ to be our Lord, our Savior, our source of hope and life. The difference lies in the fact that as humans, we have a choice as to whether we will be born in spiritual birth.

Likewise, just as parents of that newborn baby must then spend years feeding and caring for the helpless baby, Methodism teaches that we must care for the spiritual babes, and discipleship and training are hallmarks of Methodism.

But Methodism also recognizes that that physical child will never be able to quit feeding on physical food and caring for his or her physical body, and in Methodism we find a belief that we, as maturing Christians, can never be satisfied with our past history of being a Christian, but must be intentional about regularly feeding on Gods’ Word, serving Him, gathering together with His people, and talking and listening to Him in prayer.

So far, we could probably be almost any church group represented here… and that’s part of the message of Methodism. Wesley never intended to make a new church denomination. Methodists were a small group accountability, discipleship and evangelism movement WITHIN the regular church that its members already belonged to… the Anglican Church.

You would go church on Sunday at the Anglican Church, receive communion, be faithful to the church, you would have been baptized there and there you go to receive Holy Communion.

But then, sometime during the week, a Methodist would then gather at a Methodist meeting and study the Bible, pray together, and ask each other nosy, penetrating questions like `What sins have you committed this week that you need to repent of?’ and ‘How is it with your soul?’

Methodism was an accountability group… in fact, if you covenanted with these people to be a “Methodist” then you HAD to pay a set apportioned amount into the group coffers to be able to help pay for the ministries of reaching out to the poor with food and clothing. And if you covenanted with these people to be a “Methodist” you HAD TO be present each week. You miss more than a couple of times (without being sick or something) you were kicked out of the Methodist Society.

In fact, it wasn’t until the American Revolution, when the Anglican priests were called back to England, that John Wesley finally consented to actually having “ordained” pastors in American Methodism. In so doing, the preachers, which had simply been lay ministers, were now able to become ordained and thus, able to officiate over the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.

The new American brand of Methodism, in 1784, was called the Methodist Episcopal Church, meaning we were Methodist in our beliefs and episcopal in our structure. (The word ‘episcopal’ means led by a bishop.) Today we are known as United Methodists, because the Methodists have united with others of similar beliefs through the years.

Methodism really is a lot like almost all other churches. Especially the Anglican Church and its American brothers and sisters, the Episcopal Church. Methodists and Anglicans both come out of the Anglican Church and our views on so many things are similar. We work together well.

Methodism shares a heritage with Catholicism, Roman and Byzantine, for it was Wesley’s reading and consuming the works of church writers from both realms that helped influence his formulation of what it meant to be a Methodist. And we, like they, to this day find bishops discerning where its pastors will be best used in ministry settings.

Methodism shares a heritage with the Presbyterian’s Calvinistic background. Wesley found he could agree with many of the ideas Calvin put forth about heaven and hell… although Wesley stressed that WE the individuals had free will to respond to God’s outpoured grace.

Methodism then and now, believes strongly in the idea that EVERY believer in Jesus Christ is a minister. Agreed, some of those believer/ministers are called to some extra tasks in the church as ordained pastors, but the ministry of evangelism, nurture, outreach, and witness, is the role of EVERY Methodist.

The annual conference, made up of all the pastors and all the local churches in an area, sends pastors on a rotating basis, to help train and equip the saints in doing those various ministries. Sunday morning, to a Methodist, is supposed to be a weekly re-equipping time for them as a minister.

In fact, in Methodism, the highest a pastor can hope to go is to become an `elder’, which in most denominations is simply a layperson who is in charge of leadership in the church… And as pastors, our highest call and greatest recognition is simply as one of the “everyday believers…” who has a specialized ministry.

The final hallmark of Methodism is again something set in motion by John Wesley himself when he said “I am a man of only one book.” In reality, he read A LOT of books, but only one, the Bible, could be used as the reliable, authoritative source of knowing about God. Today, our primary source of knowledge and belief is still the Bible. Sure we use our reason, our experience, and our heritage to help us make sense of the Bible and how it can be applied to us today, but the Holy Scriptures are where we always start.

John Wesley, when answering a question about “What is a Methodist?” responded that a Methodist was simply a Christian who had the love of God in his heart. 

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The Rest of the Story

My notes from my Sunday sermons at Reynoldsville: First UMC yesterday.
First Scripture Reading: Mark 1:4-11
Second Scripture Reading: Acts 19:1-7
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This morning, we look at a short passage from the book of Acts, where Luke has recorded details impressed upon him as important by the Holy Spirit of God, as he follows the ministry of Paul and the early church. But it’s part of a bigger story…
In the chapter before this, Paul has been on an extended tour, preaching and teaching about how to faithfully live life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Paul’s travels, in that one chapter alone included stops in Athens, Corinth, Syria, Ephesus, Caesarea, Jerusalem, Antioch, Galatia, and Phrygia… and the Bible says that he “held discussions” (18:4,19), and he was “preaching the message” and “testifying” (18:5), “teaching” (18:11), “greeted the church” (18:22), and “strengthening all the believers” (18:23).
And we know that this took a while, first of all because there were no turnpikes… or airports… or taxis, but also because we know that he spent at least a year and a half in one spot alone, Corinth (18:11).
And in our text this morning, he’s at it again and ends up back in the city of Ephesus, where he had stopped briefly in his last set of travels (18:19-21).
And the first thing Luke tells us… is that Paul gets there to Ephesus… “while Apollos was in Corinth…”
OK… so who’s Apollos… and why do we care that he’s in Corinth when Paul gets to Ephesus?
Well, at the end of the chapter before this, in verse 24, we find that Apollos was a Jew who was “eloquent” when he spoke and had a “thorough knowledge” of the Scriptures.
Verse 25 of chapter 18 then lets us know that he had received instruction in “the Way of the Lord” and was able to teach others the facts about Jesus… correctly in fact.
In fact, he ends up teaching and preaching in Ephesus, where Paul had stopped back in verses 19, 20, and 21, but where Paul had not been able to stay long enough to do any long term explanations or teaching or discipleship.
And here comes Apollos, filling in the gap… teaching what he knows… and doing it really well.
But, the Bible goes on to say that Apollos “knew only the baptism of John.” (18:25)
And then here we are now in chapter 19 with Paul encountering Christians from that very same Ephesus and he finds that they “haven’t heard” that there even was a Holy Spirit, let alone received the Holy Spirit.
They, like Apollos before them, had only received a piece of the story… and had followed the form of what they thought was good religious practice… they were baptized in the way that John the Baptist had done… a baptism of repentance.
Folks, without stepping too deeply into the deep waters of baptismal theology, I think there are a couple of things God might be saying through these verses for you and me as we minister here in this place.
First of all, we, like Apollos and the Ephesian Christians Paul encounters, may have all of the instruction and training about Jesus and still be missing a major piece of the life of a Christian disciple.
The head knowledge about Jesus is good, and it’s a great place to start… that’s why we spend so much time and effort and money in having Sunday Schools… We want our children (and even us as adults) to have the godly, Christ-centered head knowledge to make informed and godly decisions… about salvation, about discipleship, about living in the midst of the world as an ambassador for Christ…
But that’s can’t be where it ends… Like Apollos, it’s not enough to simply be knowledgeable, or even eloquent and convincing…
Luke spends several verses, over the course of two chapters, explaining the difference and the incompleteness of Apollos and these Ephesian Christians who only had the baptism of John… Their baptism was simply a response on their part to symbolize their own repentance… And twice, Scripture emphasizes that that simply isn’t enough…
Christian baptism isn’t just a symbolic representation of your repentance or mine… that became clear when Jesus insisted on John baptizing him… Jesus had nothing to repent of… and John knew it… If you remember, John didn’t want to baptize Jesus and said ‘no Lord, I need you to baptize me…’ Because in John’s mind, baptism was a matter of repentance.
But, as would be the case so often in Christ’s ministry, Jesus turned John’s whole idea of baptism on its head… It could no longer be just about repentance. Jesus refused to baptize John in a baptism of repentance and insisted that John baptize him… and Christian baptism changed from that moment on.
John found out from Jesus, Apollos found out from Aquila and Priscilla, and these Ephesian disciples found out from Paul. Christian baptism doesn’t represent what you and I do or decide…
That’s why we, as United Methodists, don’t get all hung up about baptizing children and infants… because it’s not about their repentance, it’s about God choosing to pour his grace and mercy out on people who were still sinners and don’t deserve the gift of salvation… and yet God chooses them anyways.
And babies, toddlers, children, teens, adults, and even senior citizens all need God’s grace equally… and God pours out his grace on each one… whether they’ve repented yet or not… Baptism is a visible sign of what GOD has already done and is still doing… Offering and grace and mercy to all…
In fact, Scripture teaches that God’s grace is what enables us to even experience the gift of repentance so that we can respond to Christ’s offer of salvation…
Baptism represents God’s grace…
“Well, preacher,” you may be thinking, “I don’t see why this is so important… what difference does it really make anyways?”
Well, enough of a difference that it was included in the Scriptural text as part of the words of God that are for our instruction, doctrine, correction, and training in righteousness. God Himself felt this was important enough to make it into the book…
It makes enough of a difference that the Ephesians were then baptized as Christians in the name of Jesus… because the baptism of repentance simply wasn’t good enough… not for a Christian who had freely experienced the grace of God poured out on him through no effort of his own.
So what do we see here that we can specifically apply, in our day and age, in our situation, in our lives?
First, On this day when we remember Jesus’ baptism, let’s not get baptism and repentance confused… repentance is US recognizing our sin and US choosing to give up that sin. However, baptism is all about what GOD does… not what we do.
Second, let’s take a lesson from Paul, and make sure that we leave people like Aquila and Priscilla, good and mature Christians who can follow up and disciple newer Christians… It’s not enough to have Sunday School training and head knowledge, but rather we want to entrust our young in age and young in faith to people who are living out the Christian walk of faith… and can lead by example as well as by words…
Third, let’s remember that our journey of faith, including our baptism, and also times when we respond to God, are nothing until we allow God to pour out His Holy Spirit on us… filling us and immersing us in His presence and His power through His Spirit.

This morning, I want to encourage each of us to ask ourselves a question…
Where do we find ourselves in these passages?
Are we like these twelve Ephesian disciples? Trying to be faithful, doing all of the right things as best as we can understand them? And yet, still basing our entire Christian walk on our efforts and our decisions and our rational choices and logical understandings?

If so, reach out in prayer to God and allow him to take you beyond mere religious response and fill you with His Spirit… that your life would be a life marked by the outpouring and experience of grace, not merely a religious set of ‘gottas’ and ‘can’ts’ based in your own understanding.
Perhaps, you have already come to that place where you’ve gone beyond the head knowledge and have experienced the power of God being poured out into your life… If so, then according to Scripture there is some gift of the Holy Spirit that He has also given you… for these twelve Ephesians it was tongues and prophesy… Do you know what spiritual gift (or gifts) He gave you when He poured out His Spirit on you?
Finally, are you one who’s experienced the maturing power of God in your life? Then, like Paul, and Aquila and Priscilla, we need you to be reaching out in ministry to those who are still en route… What ministry are you actively involved in… where you are using those spiritual gifts and helping to teach, preach, encourage, or strengthen those younger in the faith like Apollos or the Ephesian disciples?
Can we… WILL we… take that next step?

–Adapted from a sermon I preached Jan. 12, 2003 in Patton, PA

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Wrong Motives, Right Attitude

Yesterday was the day that a devotional I wrote for the Western PA-Germany United Methodist Partnership’s Advent Devotional Book was featured. I wrote the English version and one of our German UM’s translated it into German.
Wednesday 15th December

Numbers 24: 2 – 7, 15 – 17

Today’s passage records the last of the prophet Balaam’s attempts to earn respect and rewards from the king of the land. All he has to do is pronounce a curse against the children of Israel as they finish their journey towards the promised land. Twice now, Balaam sought an omen that he might use as a curse, but both times Scripture states that “God met with Balaam.” (Num 23:4,16). Each of those encounters results not in a curse, but in a blessing. The king is angry and Balaam agrees to try again.

So King Balak waits while Balaam prays, again looking for something he might say to bring a curse on the Israelites and bless King Balak’s forces. But this time, we read in Numbers 24:2, the spirit of God literally comes upon Balaam. What proceeds from the resulting pronouncement is even more than a blessing, it includes a prophetic picture of how God would one day bring the blessing of the coming Messiah upon the earth through these Israelites. Balaam sees the Messiah as the “Star” and a “Scepter” who will ultimately reign over all … even King Balak’s lands and peoples.

In spite of his wrong motives, Balaam was aware that it was a path to utter failure if he misrepresented his God. How about us? In our lives, how well do we represent our God? We claim we know the Messiah and he’s coming again soon. Do people around us see that in our lives, or do we merely represent ourselves and our own ways? This Advent, as we prepare ourslves anew for Christ’s Second Coming, let’s make sure our lives, our actions, and even our words, are such that those around us can see his “Star” rising in our lives.

Dayton D Mix

Pastor First United Methodist Church in Reynoldsville, PA, (USA)

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Mittwoch 15. Dezember

4. Mose 24, 2 – 7 + 15 – 17

Die heutige Bibelstelle handelt vom letzten Versuch des Propheten Bileam, Respekt und Belohnung vom König des Landes zu bekommen. Er braucht nur einen Fluch gegen die Kinder Israels am Ende ihrer Reise ins gelobte Land auszusprechen. Zweimal schon hat Bileam einen Spruch gesucht, der ihm als Fluch dienen könnte, aber beides Mal heiβt es in der Schrift, „Und Gott begegnete Bileam.“ (4. Mose 23, 4,16). Jede dieser Begegnungen führt nicht zu einem Fluch, sondern zu einem Segen. Der König ärgert sich und Bileam ist bereit, es aufs Neue zu versuchen.

Deshalb wartet König Balak, während Bileam betet und wiederum nach etwas sucht, was er als Fluch auf die Israeliten und Segen auf König Balaks Truppen aussprechen könnte. Aber dieses Mal heiβt es in 4. Mose 24,2 dass der Geist Gottes auf ihn zukam. Die daraus entstehende Verkündigung ist mehr als ein Segen, denn sie enthält die prophetische Verheiβung, dass Gott eines Tages durch das Volk Israel den Segen des kommenden Messias aller Welt schenken wird. Als „Stern“ und „Zepter“ sieht Bileam den Messias, der schlieβlich über alles herrschen wird — selbst über König Balaks Länder und Untertanen.

Trotz seiner falschen Beweggründe war sich Bileam bewuβt, dass er den Weg des völligen Versagens einschlagen wird, falls er eine falsche Vorstellung von seinem Gott gäbe. Und wie steht es mit uns? Wie gut stellen wir in unserem Leben unseren Gott dar? Wir behaupten, wir kennen den Messias und seine baldige Wiederkunft. Erkennen unsere Mitmenschen das in unserem Leben, oder stellen wir uns lediglich selbst und unsere eigenen Wege dar? Wenn wir uns in dieser Adventszeit erneut auf die zweite Wiederkunft Christi vorbereiten, dann sorgen wir doch dafür, dass unser Leben, unsere Handlungen und selbst unsere Worte so sind, dass unsere Mitmenschen Seinen „Stern“ in unserem Leben aufgehen sehen.

Dayton D Mix
Pastor First United Methodist Church in Reynoldsville, PA (USA)

Here’s the full devotional book. [click here]

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