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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
The day is coming when we will have “autonomous cars.” This is what cars are being named that don’t need drivers. The automotive industry predicts by the year 2020, driverless cars will be on the roads. It sounds a little scary to me, although, in most cases, I am for progress. Progress for the Church is the opposite of this. Yes, God could control the Church, but chooses not to. God has chosen us to be the Body of Christ, the Church. God has called us to be builders of the Kingdom of God. We are not controlled by God. We are loved, blessed and guided by God. We are filled with the Holy Spirit and freed to be all we can be.
Progress for the Church is the opposite of this. Yes, God could control the Church, but chooses not to. God has chosen us to be the Body of Christ, the Church. God has called us to be builders of the Kingdom of God. We are not controlled by God. We are loved, blessed and guided by God. We are filled with the Holy Spirit and freed to be all we can be. The Church is not a car, but needs drivers. She needs people to keep their hands on the wheel and carry the Cross. The progress of the Church depends on getting more and more people involved. It is not autonomous, it is community oriented.
Oh, America, what am I going to do with you? You claim to be a Christian nation but when the time comes to elect your president you act as if you don’t know me.
Woe to you who think you can push me aside in an election year, thinking God’s standards are fine for religion but this is politics!
I hate it when your candidates use my name to get elected but don’t follow my teachings to conduct their campaigns. I despise the half-truths and lies they put in their television commercials. I abhor their personal attacks on each other.
Woe to you citizens, who allow this kind of politics to go on. I can’t stand it when you respond to negativism; when your votes are attracted by a strong military and influenced by money and big corporations, with little thought of positive, compassionate programs for humanity. Don’t you realize that if compassion is not in the issues, then love cannot be in the hearts of the candidates?
I call you Americans to insist on presidential campaigns that are run on the highest ethical road… the road of honesty, fairness, compassion and justice… the road that does not degrade you and your democracy. If you run your politics on this road, I will travel with you and my strength will come to your nation. This is the hope that is yours, and you can say in all truthfulness, “WE ARE A NATION UNDER GOD.”
(I wrote this in the “prophetic spirit” during the summer of the 1988 presidential election between Michael Dukakis and George H. Bush. I believe these words apply even more today. Our political system is broken and failing miserably. I know God is a patient God, but how long will we not listen – how long will we turn away from our source of righteousness and hope?)
Please take time as you read this scripture to let it sink in. Read it several times knowing it was written for you today. Let it lift you to a rejoicing that will take you beyond depression and discouragement.
“… On account of his (God’s) vast mercy, he has given us new birth. You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. You have a pure and enduring inheritance that cannot perish – an inheritance that is presently kept safe in heaven for you. You now rejoice in this hope, even if it’s necessary for you to be distressed for a short time by various trials.” (I Peter 1:3-6, CEB)
Hope is what Easter is about. It didn’t change the Roman Empire’s domination system in Jesus’ time. But hope started happening – a new way of understanding and receiving God’s love as a gift of grace and a new way of living by forgiveness and love. People began to feel the hope of God’s Kingdom come and Will be done. They had something to live for and a way to do it.
Let Easter be a time of hope for you. I’m not saying all you have to do is ‘pack up your troubles in an old kit bag and smile, smile, smile.’ I’m saying to accept the living hope that God is offering you. It’s your inheritance, your eternal life which will give you the strength and courage to live boldly and joyfully in this life. Let hope guide your daily living and you will see that silver lining behind the clouds. Let hope guide your daily praying and God will answer with the blessed assurance – “I am with you always.”
Having grown up in large churches in Memphis, Tennessee, Kimball and I were about to embark on a most wonderful journey. It was June of 1967. He was appointed to serve as a student lay pastor of two rural churches in Kentucky. My goodness, we had never even been in a country church. Yet, it was exciting to think he could really serve as a pastor while going to college, and that our young family of six would be a parsonage family. We loaded our station wagon with four children (7, 5, 19 months, and 3 weeks), hitched on a U-Haul trailer and headed for our first appointment and parsonage in Water Valley, KY.
With Kimball going to school full-time, serving our churches full-time, visiting, preparing sermons and being a daddy, I sometimes found myself overwhelmed with a sense of insecurity that I could not do all that I expected of myself. I’d throw up a prayer ever now and then, but I was busy… I thought I didn’t have time to be still and pray, and just as important, listen.
One day after a hard morning with two crying, sick babies, I began to cry. My 7-year-old son came to my rescue. “Why are you crying, Mama, what’s the matter?” I hugged him and said, “Son, I’m tired, and I just need a place to call my own when my spirits are down.” He wiped my tears with his shirt tail, gave me a hug and disappeared. I thought he had gone to play with his little brother, but he had another idea. After awhile he came back to me, “Mama, I found you a place you can call your own. Come see!” He took me by the hand to the large closet in my bedroom. He had taken most everything from the floor and piled them on our bed. He couldn’t reach the hanging clothes so he just grabbed the bottom of them and scooted them from the center of the closet. He had put a little table and a chair from his table and chairs set, in the center of the closet. He put a Bible, paper, pencil, and flashlight on the table for my use. When his Daddy got home from school he asked him to help him make a sign for my prayer closet. When I was in there, I was to hang it on the doorknob…”DON’T BOTHER MAMA…SHE IS IN THE PRAYER CLOSET!”
I loved that little prayer closet and I used it. I used it a lot! I smile when I remember the day when our 3-year-old, Kathy, came down the hall from her nap, yelling, “Where’s my mama?” “Shhh, she is in the prayer closet,” her brothers told her as they took her back to their room to play. I finished my prayers refreshed and renewed to be a mama, a minister’s wife, and ME once again. I learned from my thoughtful 7-year-old the importance of finding a place to call my own when feeling overwhelmed with the noise of the world around me. I did not know how to be still. I did not realize how much I was missing in my life. My ‘still be still’ times saved my sanity, but also refreshed me for living a life with meaning and purpose. I didn’t have a name for those quiet times like I do today, but I do know I am who I am because of my times in prayer. I believe in its power, especially when praying with heart and soul for others, as well as myself.
In these days of Lent, I hope you will find a place to call your own, and have some ‘still be still’ times to find hope for the living of these days.
As we journey together,
I love my wife in a romantic way. I love my children in a fatherly way. I love you in a humbled servant way. God called me to be a servant evangelist and you have sustained me in this Calling. You have prayed for me. You have supported me financially. You have believed in me and shared that belief with others by inviting me to your churches.
Yes, God started it all, reaching out to me and taking me by the hand. But with the other hand, I began to feel your hands and knew that I was not alone. Now for thirty-six years you have walked and served with me giving me confidence, courage and a renewed commitment to keep on keeping on.
I am deeply honored to call you friends and fellow servants of the Lord. I wish for you and your family a Blessed and Merry Christmas. I love you all more than you can imagine.
This is the title song of my newest CD. In the song, I sing about “a restlessness to be.” We think of restlessness mostly as a feeling of the young, but age is not a true factor. This restlessness comes from wanting to move from a dissatisfaction of the old, with a hungering to try something new.
Restlessness can be a good thing, a creative thing, and a positive change. Holy Spirit restlessness is completely different from ambitious restlessness ~ one drives us inward and the other drives us outward. Holy Spirit restlessness moves us outside of ourselves, as the song says, “crying out ~ send me.”
I am certainly not young, but I still feel a restlessness that gives me an edge, an eagerness and exciting energy to change smoldering embers into burning flames. I would be privileged to come to your church with God’s message.
“Don’t burn out. Keep yourselves fueled and aflame” – Romans 12:11 (The Message)
Two-thousand years ago, Christmas came humbly in a stable. The light of a magnificent star showed the way to the place where the Christ Child lay. There were gifts to welcome the babe. What gifts, you ask?
The donkey brought the young mother-to-be to the place her child would be born, the lamb warmed the newborn with its woolly coat, the angels kept watch day and night, the shepherds welcomed Emmanuel, the wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. But the real gift of Christmas is the Babe himself. He isn’t a gift to a particular people, but a gift to be shared with all the world. This incredible gift has no price tag, but it does have a cost.
If we truly have the spirit of Christmas…if we are to fully feel the love and compassion of Christ’s coming, we must bow like the shepherds. We must come humbly and gently to the stable. We must identify with the poor, the homeless and marginal people of our world. We must feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit the imprisoned. We must share the simple, yet profound power of Christ’s love by the way we live our faith and invite others to faith.
May Christmas be a time to reignite your desire to be a faithful followers of the Christ Child. That is when you will know and feel the message of Christmas.
God bless you and your family in this season of hope and love. Merry Christmas!
Kimball and Pam
It was to be a cold Christmas high in the mountains of Mt. Baldy. The children wished for snow. The fathers wished for more wood for the fireplaces and potbellies. The mothers wished for their shopping to be completed before the first snowstorm of the season.
It was a time of excitement and busyness. Everyone seemed caught up in the wrappings and trappings of Christmas. The ‘I wanna’s and I gotta haves’ included everything from the largest tree, to the most presents, the best decorated house, the prettiest Christmas clothes…and the list went on. Can you imagine at this wonderful time of the year that people were so busy, busy, busy, getting, getting, getting that they were actually saying they wanted Christmas to hurry and be over so they could get back to their regular pace of life?
But there was one place in the tiny mountain village where the air was filled with quiet beauty and anticipation. There was no hustling and bustling, just great expectation of what was to come. It was the small Village Church that stood next to the creek and just at the entrance to Bear Canyon.
She beckoned the children, their friends and parents to come, but everyone was too busy. Her fireplace burned giving warmth but nobody came to be warmed. Her windows looked out to the stars…one was ever so bright, but no one came to see them. A giant evergreen tree telling of everlasting life stood glowing in the corner, but no one was thinking of everlasting life. They were thinking only of now. The Advent wreath in all of its beauty told stories of faith, hope, joy and love but these weren’t the gifts on anyone’s lists.
Nestled beneath the communion table a crèche scene graced the sanctuary of the small village church. Straw fell from the manger where a tiny baby lay quietly to share his love with the families of the mountain. Would they come? Surely they would come. It’s Christmas Eve.
All of a sudden the doors opened! There was laughter and joyful greetings. There were young and old alike. There were oohs and ahhs. They came to be warmed by the fire. They came to see the star. Did it lead them there? They came to feel the glow of the tree and to know the everlasting power it represented. They came in hopes of receiving the gifts of faith, hope, joy and love. They came because they wanted to share their love with the little one who lay in the manger of straw before them. They gathered around the crèche and sang lullabies of “Away In The Manger” and “Silent Night” to the babe and then silently prayed for their gift of gifts before breaking into a rousing, “Joy To The World.” Love truly came down that Christmas ~ a love for you and for me. It was a Christmas the families of Mt. Baldy will never forget.