Your choice

You are still becoming something. What that something is depends on what you let it be.

Give instruction to the wise, and they will become wiser still;
teach the righteous and they will gain in learning.
–Proverbs 9:9

You could be becoming a grumpy old man.  A new creation.  An inspiration.  A true friend.

I have a six pack for you

Last year I made it a point to plan out my sermons for the entire year. It was difficult, but extremely beneficial. So much so that since around November I’ve anticipated getting to January so I can do it again. Call it good organization, being prepared or just hermeneutical nerdiness. It works for me now.

If a sermon doesn’t connect to the spiritual life of the people who hear it, then what good is it at all? That’s a rhetorical question. The next six or not. Since I want my words to connect with my listeners’ spiritual life, I want to hear what they have to say. You may not see how, but if you answer AT LEAST one of the following questions, you’ll go a long way in helping me prepare for our Sunday’s sermons this year.

Here’s your six pack (of questions):

  1. What time of the year do you look forward to most? Why?
  2. If you didn’t have a Bible to read for yourself, what would you want to know most about Jesus?
  3. What is the hardest part of being a Christian?
  4. You’re stuck on a deserted island. What one book (besides a Bible) do you want to have?
  5. If Jesus promised to answer one question for you, what would you ask?
  6. Why are you a follower of Christ? Or, why are you trying to follow Christ?

Thanks!  Stay blessed…john

Seminary ruined me

I’m grateful for my time at Perkins.  Of all that I studied in seminary, most valuable was learning how much I had been relying on my personality in ministry.  Before, I don’t think I was challenging people to live faithfully; I was getting by on being energetic and having a big mouth.  Perkins prepared me to move beyond my comfort level as a leader and use other gifts I have to serve the church.  Yes, seminary ruined because I had to get over myself.

It was a great four years.  Fours years can be tough, however.

That’s why it’s exciting to think Perkins has been considering how they can continue to prepare Christian leaders more faithfully and effectively.  This week the school made an announcement: Perkins Announces Streamlined M.Div. Degree

December 16, 2014

DALLAS – Perkins School of Theology-Southern Methodist University announces the restructuring of its Master of Divinity degree, effective spring 2015. The redesigned program will enable full-time students to complete the program in three years and will reduce the overall cost of the degree.

Primarily for students who plan to pursue ordination as clergy, the M.Div. degree will now require 73 term hours of academic credit: 64 term hours of coursework and 9 term hours earned through the satisfactory completion of a supervised internship.

The streamlined degree was approved unanimously by Perkins faculty on Dec. 1, 2014, upon the recommendation of the school’s Committee on Academic Programs.

In addition to the time and cost savings for students, the revamped curriculum provides greater flexibility in areas of ministerial focus, according to Perkins Dean William B. Lawrence. “This change in the M.Div. degree reflects the continued commitment of Perkins School of Theology to prepare women and men for faithful leadership in Christian ministry for the 21st century,” he said. “Students in the M.Div. program will now be able to complete their theological education in a timely and efficient way, while being extremely well-prepared to pursue their vocations.”

The supervised nine-month internship, a hallmark of the Perkins School of Theology M.Div. degree, will continue to provide a context for practical ministerial experience engaged with critical theological reflection for students serving within a congregation or agency.

Changes in the curriculum will include modifications to some courses, a redistribution of certain core requirements, opportunities to concentrate studies in elective areas, and permitting students who are on internships to complete their academic classes at the same time as they intern in places of ministry.

“The commitment of Perkins School of Theology to academic excellence and to world-class theological education is underscored in the way we have restructured this foundational professional degree for ministry,” Dean Lawrence said. “Our students will not only complete the M.Div. degree in a more timely way and reduce overall indebtedness, they will enter their full-time ministries with an even stronger foundation in the areas to which they have been called.”


I wonder if we can expect a DMin announcement sometime.  Stay blessed…john

+Picture credit: Perkins

All under one roof

One of the first things we learned about Shiner is that baseball is a big deal.  Yes, everyone told us about the beer first, but baseball wan’t very far behind.  So, it didn’t take Nathan long to catch baseball fever after moving here.  And since we hadn’t learned all there was to do in our new home yet, he was able to convince The Fletcher Five to go to the baseball field in town to run the bases, hit a few balls and basically melt in the July heat.

I kept up with the three kids, but was more than ready for a water break.  Lovely Mrs. Fletcher had brought water for me and some for everyone else.  It evaporated in our mouths.  One daughter in partiuclar was very thirsty and asked the other for some of her water.  “Come on,” she asserted, “we’re supposed to help each other.  Jesus said so.”

YES!  My daughter had heard and was putting into practice the “whatever you did for the least of these” stuff Jesus said, albeit in reverse.  Truthfully, I wasn’t prepared for the next line.

The other daughter replied, “Yes, but Jesus also told the story about the Ten Bridesmaids.  The foolish ones weren’t prepared!”

It was a great moment, but I quickly realized I was raising a Democrat and Republican under one roof.  That’s why I think this video is hilarious; this may be me calling in one day.  I can only imagine some of our future holiday dinners.

++If you’re reading by email or news reader, click here to watch the video.++

Stay blessed…john

 +Picture credits: morgue file 1 & 2

If you’ve ever recieved a bad gift

Gifts abound!

The holiday season often equates to a gift-giving frenzy.  We like recieving gifts from family, friends, church family, coworkers and neighbors.  Until we don’t.  If you’ve ever recieved what some might call a bad gift, you know what I’m talking about.  It’s Christmas; so, we don’t want to be rude.

That’s why I’ve compiled the top 10 things to say when we receive a not-so-good gift:

10: Oh, that’s unique.

9: I’ve never been on the naughty list before.

8: Where did you ever find one of these?

7: No, I’m pretty sure I don’t have one of those.

6: It is better to give than to receive.

5: And to think you thought of me when you saw this?

4: I will never forget you for this.

3. Shouldn’t have.  You really shouldn’t have.

2: I haven’t felt like this since Grandmas got run over by a reindeer.

1: I know exactly where this is going!


Of course, God gives gifts as well.  God has given us salvation.  God has given us the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit gifts us, too.  These gifts of God are all that we need to be faithful and live in peace.  Unfortunately, we’re not always impressed.  “Thank you, God, for salvation,” we say, “but what I really needed was a new car.  Or at least a car payment.”  Again, “Thank you for my family and home, God, but let me tell you what I would do if you let them start drilling my way.”

God is going to keep giving.  It’s up to you and I to recieve those gifts and use them so that God’s will would be done in our lives and in the world around us.

Stay blessed…john


+picture credits: morgue file