top 3 for September 17, 2021

Before you begin your weekend, here are three I’ve been reading and thinking about recently that have made an impact.


Last week, a woman who has known suffering said to me, “When we cannot see God’s hand, we trust his heart.”

And God Spoke to Abraham by Fleming Rutledge

I believe someone needs to hear this today. I sure do.


A vision cannot settle for capturing the imagination if it does not, even more, capture the hands and feet of those for whom it exists and do so in such a way as to change the behaviors to be consistent with it.

The Missional Church and Leadership Formation by Craig Van Gelder

Vision must lead to change in behavior or it is simply words on a page. The church must be careful not to settle for rhetoric instead of being on mission. We must refuse to simply seek a bubble bath experience of worship to make us feel good instead of the power of God which makes us good through and through. I had a conversation with a friend this week and we agreed that the time for playing a good game of church is past and the time for being the church is upon us. What does that mean? The sign I look for is for more and more people to be involved in small groups and service. There once was a day we would never describe the size of our congregation by Sunday school attendance and not worship attendance. In my opinion, we need to rediscover and more importantly live into that vision.


“God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

James 4:5-6

If you are part of the Downtown community of First UMC we will continue in James this weekend. Most of the focus on these two verses tends to be on the comparison of the proud and humble. But I have been captured by the first sentence. “God yearns jealously for the spirit he has made to dwell in us.” So often our focus is on doing more and being good enough to deserve God’s grace. But James reminds us that the one who created us wants to delight in us. There is a line from the Book of Common Prayer’s Compline prayer that says, “keep us as the apple of your eye.” I love that the heavenly Father keeps you and me as the apple of his eye. You don’t need to worry about earning God’s favor and delight – Jesus has done that for us. For today, and the rest of our lives quite frankly, may we simply have faith in that fact and rest in that promise.