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Once upon a time, some young people decided they wanted to become a rock band. They got so excited thinking about fame, fortune, and popularity. They talked for days about what the name of their band should be, what songs they’ll sing, what they’ll wear, and the kind of image they wanted to project. At the end of their meetings, they were full of themselves and couldn’t wait to tell their friends. They were completely ready to become rock stars, except for one detail that stood in their way. They didn’t know how to play their instruments!
This story reminds me of the church. You can’t organize a church into being. Meetings do not a church make. A new name does not make a new church. Buildings, parking spaces, and technology are not the foundation of the church. No, it is people ~ committed people, spirited people, talented people, compassionate and giving people, who in community understand they are the body of Christ.
There are no shortcuts to being the Church. The Church is the instrument of God, an instrument that requires practice, an instrument that plays the joyful and calling music of justice, peace, hope and love, an instrument of faithful commitment to prayer, worship, witness, evangelism and action.
The Church does not strive for popularity, it strives for community, a oneness through love and understanding. The call to be the Church is not for ‘groupies’ (those who follow the band), but for ‘disciples’ (those who follow Christ). A rock band thrives by having groupies. The Church thrives by having disciples. A rock band needs ‘roadies’ to help set up the band on the stage. The Church needs ‘radicals’ with the courage to take the Good News of Jesus into all the world!
In light of the recent rain, storms and floods, Kimball and I were taken back to a frightening experience we had 25 years ago. It was during Lent in 1993 and one of those unusual times when torrential rains flowed down the mountainside, but our spirits would not be dampened. We were still excited about the day before when we had begun our four-day Lenten series with the First United Methodist Church of Garden Grove, CA. We were eager to get back on our second day of activities, fellowship, and worship.
As we came to the creek’s crossing below our Mt Baldy home our hearts won out over our heads. We knew the water was higher than we had ever seen but didn’t anticipate its fierceness. We only wanted to get to the other side and be on our way. Ever so cautiously and with hearts pounding, we started across, only to be swept up in a matter of seconds into the raging creek. After crashing into a large boulder that kept our car from going farther downstream, Kimball found his door was lodged next to the rock and he could not open it, but he managed to climb into the back seat and open its door. Holding on to the seat belt to keep him from being washed away, he made his way to a large rock and held on. It steadied and protected him from the strong current. He called for me to follow. “No, I’m afraid” I yelled! He assured me I would make it and I believed him. I, too, climbed into the back seat and held on to the seat belt as I began to slide out of our car. The fast-moving waters immediately took my shoes (my new red flats!) and I began to panic. Looking up, there he was, one arm holding fast to the rock and the other outstretched to pull me to him. As soon as I got to him, he continued making a way for us to safety through the freezing waters and through thick brush to the edge of the road.
Our small community of good friends and neighbors rallied in support of us. As soon as we made it to a clearing they began wrapping us in blankets. About eight of us stood beside the creek watching our car, which was partially submerged in 5 ft. of water, being pushed and pulled by the force of the water flowing at an estimated 60 miles an hour. How in the world did we get out?!
As the tow truck began pulling our car from the creek, we saw a cross floating around in the back seat. “Look, it’s a cross!” It was a roughly made cross from branches of a fallen tree that Kimball had made for his time with the youth to illustrate the power of the cross. Never could he have imagined how significant that cross would become! Everyone pointed with amazement and the tow truck driver shook his head, took his hat off, placed it on his heart and said, “Bless be to God, it’s a downright miracle these folks got out alive! That cross is what saved them!” We told him we were “those folks” and thanked him for his concern and caring.
We held each other tight and smiled, feeling very humbled and oh, so blessed ~ The Creek, the Cross, and the Miracle! What an Easter Story! Never does the season of Easter come that we don’t stop our busy world and pause each day for our meditation time as we look at the cross and feel the love and sacrifice it represents.
Seeing the snowcapped mountains last week over Claremont reminded us of one Easter we had while living in Mt. Baldy. It was unlike any we had ever experienced. There were no Easter flowers but Mother Nature surrounded us with beauty. There were no comfortable pews but we had big rocks that could seat more than one and we shared quilts and blankets for comfort. We had no pipe organ, only guitars, but their music, along with our voices, echoed throughout the mountainside. You could almost feel the movement of the trees and brush, the squirrels and deer joining in the songs of Easter with us.
All of Mother Nature seemed to come to a hush as Kimball began to preach the Easter message. The clouds floated around us like angels dancing and rejoicing. The sun began to peek over the snow-covered mountains. It was cold out in the elements but we were warmed by the Holy Spirit.
The old rugged cross stood before us but somehow the sting of it was taken away. As we gathered close to each other, tears came to many. I noticed a child wiping his mother’s tears in sweet love. “Because He Lives” never sounded so powerful.
Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
May your Easter be Happy and Blessed, Kimball and Pam
Although I have a good education and enough money to get by, I am a beggar. To be Christ-like you must be a beggar. You can’t be demanding and controlling. It is a position of servanthood. Thank you for responding to my begging. Without your prayers, financial support, and belief in our mission to take the Good News of Jesus Christ into the world, my ministry of evangelism in the prophetic spirit would have faltered long ago.
The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Corinth, bragged about the churches in Macedonia. Although they were going through hard times and were very poor, they begged for the privilege of sharing in the ministry and relief of other Christians (II Corinthians 8:1-5). Like those faithful nascent churches, I beg pastors and their congregations to allow me to serve them as a servant evangelist. I ask earnestly and humbly to bring the challenge and the Call of Jesus to them.
My mission is to help Churches focus on their mission. Admittedly, sometimes I fail, but other times I strike a spark in congregations. At those times the spark is visible and palpable and the people begin coming to the altar before I finish the Call. It is as though the feeling had been building and they couldn’t wait to come to God with a renewed commitment. I say ‘renewed’ because I preach mostly to churched people who have come to the altar before, but that fire may be only flickering or even smoldering. Church has become just another activity they do as part of a busy schedule. They hunger and thirst for that deeper meaning, and when it comes, they can’t sit still. They become the church on the move, being the best they can be, for Christ’s sake.
This is what I beg for. When it happens, I am renewed. My mission is done. My Calling is fulfilled.
Over the years, people have asked if I am a music minister and if I do concerts. I’m humbled by these questions, but always let them know that I’m not a music minister and I don’t perform musical shows. I am a preacher, a servant evangelist who uses music to enhance my messages and to lift the spirits of the people. Sometimes I’ll write my songs from the sermons, while other times the sermons come from the songs. But every song I write has a complete message that I feel stands on its own. In almost 50 years of ministry, I’ve discovered that the combination of sermon and song greatly strengthens a presentation by making it more memorable and focused. Yes, I suppose there’s a part of me that would like to be a musical performer. But what really gets my heart going is using all the gifts God has given me to share his prophetic message.
I’m also blessed to have children, grandchildren, and good friends gifted in creating music with meaning and purpose. They continue to surround me with their talents and are on all my recordings. We’re extremely proud of the music we’ve produced over the years and are excited to share it with you.
Click the Music of the Ministry tab to listen and download the music. For the highest quality sound, go to Bandcamp and follow the steps and choose from a variety of digital formats. Or simply let us send you any – or all – CDs. The price? It’s my pleasure to share our music free of charge with the hope of encouraging you in your faith.
The greatest word in the Greek language is Agape. And boy, do we need it now!
I figure it’s the only way out of the mess we are in nationally and internationally. God gave us the gift of love for the situations we are dealing with today. There is not a political or military way out of these turbulent times. Only love can heal the brokenness and bring peace.
Maybe we should start using the Greek word, “agape” when we talk about love. Using the English word “love” has been misused and overused so much we forget the depth of the word. It’s become a word that has lost its true meaning by the way we use it; I love my new car … I love playing golf … I love my favorite food or TV show, etc. Agape will remind us of the love of God and Christ-like love.
I remember the first day in Greek class during my seminary days. Although I had just graduated from college and was feeling full of myself, I felt a little apprehensive about the Greek class. If you’ve heard the expression, “sounds like Greek to me”, then you understand what I was feeling. I think the professor sensed the anxiety among her students, so she started with the Greek word for love, agape. Not only did she tell us the translation of the word, she also took time to dig deep into its meaning and engage us in a discussion.
Agape is Christ-like love, which means a self-giving love seen supremely in God’s love for the world (John 3:16) and as a mark of the Christian life (I Corinthians 13). It is a way of thinking and living life that can change everything. It can bring the end to war and rumors of war. It can tear down walls that divide and break chains that bind. It can stop us from hurting each other. I heard the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elie Wiesel, speaking at the Claremont Colleges and he told this story:
Two men were talking and drinking together. One of them asked the other, “Do you love me?” and his friend answered, “Yes, I do.” After a while, the man said again, “Do you love me? And his friend answered, “Yes, I love you.” As the evening grew late the man asked one more time, “Do you love me? “ The friend said, “Yes, I do love you.” To which the man responded, “Then why don’t you know what hurts me?”
So, as we live our daily lives, let’s remember that love is agape and agape is love. It allows God’s Will to be done.
Historically, Methodists were known to be warm people with warm hearts, warm fellowship, warm worship, warm music, and warm outreach. John Wesley’s life was changed when his heart felt strangely warmed. Having and conveying that feeling was one of the major factors in growing the church.
The difference between a warm church and a cooler routine type is quite noticeable. Warm churches enjoy fellowship on a deeper level. They understand the bond that brings them together and their mission they share. Even though each member is unique, in Christ their hearts are one. They’re relaxed and glad to see one another and enjoy sharing what’s going on in their lives.
Warm churches are joyful. There’s joy in their liturgy, joy in their singing, joy in their response to preaching and joy in their hearts when they go into the world to be the church in everyday life. Warm churches give generously and serve faithfully. They don’t get lost in survival and self. They preach a welcoming and personal Jesus. They preach his calling to build the Kingdom of God and take the social action necessary. Warm churches do something better than any clubs or organizations. They create a level playing field for all people — an environment where no one is better, smarter, richer, or more important than anyone else. God created us unique and precious in his sight. We worship and work together, shoulder to shoulder as a team with a focus.
I’ve been told if I were a consultant instead of a servant evangelist, I could make a lot more money. Consultants are sellers of their expertise while servant evangelists are messengers of Christ’s Good News. Being a servant-messenger sounds so much warmer – don’t you agree?! But if I were a consultant, the first thing I would tell you is: For God’s Sake, Warm It Up! Warm churches are communities of people who know they are the Church — the Body of Christ. And to be the Body of Christ means we’re warm in our being, warm in our methods, and warm in our touch.
When I was a pastor, there was a man in our church who was a dyed in the wool social activist. I mean, when the city council met and this man was there, they knew that they had better straighten up and fly right or they were going to have this man on his feet and at the podium challenging them. His name was Art Speer. He wasn’t a big imposing guy. In fact, he was kind of frail. But his heart was huge and his compassion for the poor and marginal people of our city was genuinely Christ-like.
He not only helped the city council fly right, Art helped me, his pastor, to stay up to speed on social justice issues happening in our city. I don’t mean to brag, but we almost harmonized as well as Simon and Garfunkel. Oh, and there’s one more thing I should tell you, Art was blind. He was born with sight but had been blind for 25 years.
One day when we were together sitting in Art’s living room, I asked him, “Art, do you ever pray for your sight to return?” His answer was very humbling, “No, Kimball, I don’t pray for sight, I pray for VISION.”
Remembering Art, I will be praying and preaching for Vision. This year as I travel among your churches, God’s message to you through me will be “The Vision.” I will continue to preach “Don’t Let The Fire Go Out!” for the churches who need that spark of renewal. After the fire is rekindled and flaming we must move on to transforming the world ~ understanding God’s Vision. The Vision is not as much something we see as it is something we are.
I look forward to worshipping with you and preaching for you God’s message.
As I start my 38th year of doing a ministry of evangelism in the prophetic spirit, it is time again for a ‘gut check.’ Have I resisted the world’s call to be popular instead of prophetic, a fundraiser instead of a faith raiser, a singer instead of a servant? ~ I have gone back through my sermons and newsletter articles to check my thinking and see if I have kept moving in the direction of God’s Call. Of course, it is your response to my ministry that makes it happen in your local church. So, let’s look together and remember God’s Call.
“I am convinced there is a place for the evangelist today, but the TV model must be replaced with the biblical model.” (1980)
“Maybe it’s good that people aren’t rushing to our churches today. Could it be this is God’s wake-up call to us saying, “It’s time to start doing evangelism instead of just talking about it.” (1986)
“I challenge all evangelists, pastors, music ministers and musically gifted lay people to create music that will inspire and move the Church into the future.” (1990)
“1950s, goodbye! I loved my old church. I thank her for being there for me at that impressionable age. But I want a church that realizes it’s a new day that calls for a new way!” (1995)
“Being a city boy, I’ve never expressed myself with the words, ‘It pleasures me greatly.’ However, they are the perfect words to express how I feel about being a servant evangelist. Although I graduated from seminary as a Doctor and was ordained a Reverend, nothing is more awe-inspiring to me than being a Servant.” (1996)
“Encouragement for Young Ministers: You can be humble and at the same time, assert your leadership. You can respect the elderly and at the same time, energize the youth. You can be pastoral and at the same time, preach prophetically. You can honor the traditions and at the same time, introduce new ways of worship. You can be a daily servant and at the same time, see visions.” (2000)
“I love the church because she is not self-serving. She exists in humility and meekness to serve the world. She exists to do evangelism, taking the Good News to the lost, confused and hopeless. I love the church because of her constant striving to change the world. I love her prophetic spirit and belief in peacemaking. I love her courage to confront and challenge injustice wherever it resides.” (2005)
“People today are much like those to whom Isaiah was prophesying who said, “speak to us smooth things.” The Church cannot be a ‘garden’ of smooth things. It cannot become an ‘ether environment’ that puts people to sleep to the hurts and pains around them.” (2007)
“Jesus was angry with his disciples when they fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane. I am angry with my church because we are sleeping while God is Calling.” (2008)
“METHODISM is known for being pioneering, spiritually fervent, socially concerned, theologically progressive and musically alive. Now put this with COMPASSION to the power of two, and the true meaning of EVANGELISM will be understood ~ E=mc2 (2009)
“When I see the church gaining the crowd but losing her life, it is time to give up popularity for the prophetic spirit.” (2010)
“You cannot be with poor children and not feel the great contradiction ~ the contradiction between God’s Will for the world and our actions in the world.” (2009)
“Challenge to Ministers: Most of us ministers have got what it takes, but we are not giving what we’ve got. It comes off like we don’t have the gifts and graces for ministry. We do have the gifts and graces. The challenge is to have the guts — the guts to stand tall and give our all.” (2011)
“Restlessness can be a good thing, a creative thing, and a positive change. Ambitious restlessness and Holy Spirit restlessness are completely different. One drives you inward to self, while the other drives you outward to others.” (2015)
When I am writing a sermon, I think if I could convince people that God’s love never fails I would give them the merriest Christmas of all. Just think of the words from the Bible, “God’s steadfast love endures forever” or in other words, God’s love surrounds us and never fails.
Christmas is a time of giving and this is the greatest gift of all. We should let God’s gift of love be our example of giving to others. When we love others as God loves us, the circle is complete.
We become one with Christ Jesus and experience peace that passes all understanding. When we stumble, love is there to steady us. When we fall, love is there to pick us up. When we sin, love is there to forgive us. When we are broken, love is there to mend us. When we are discouraged, love is there to give us hope.
“God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” Every time I read or hear these words, I get a lump in my throat. God’s love never fails and endures forever. I know this, I believe this, and I want you to feel the same.
We wish you Love, and the Merriest Christmas of all!
Kimball and Pam