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I sit here with a blank sheet of paper in front of me hoping I can write something that will help people to know God. With all my years of having a relationship with my Lord, it seems it should be easy to communicate this feeling and this knowing about God. The more I think and the more I write, I realize you can’t define God or know God through words. Knowing God can only come by faith, and faith can only come by believing.
I think the best way to move toward this feeling and believing is experiencing. Experiencing opens your mind and starts you thinking of the possibility of something bigger than self. If you’ve never had a spiritual experience, I can promise you it will be the most wonderful experience you’ve ever had. Life will take on new and meaningful directions. Hope will lift you up and love will be your ever-present guide.
I am a praying man. But how do I suggest to people who don’t believe there is a God, to talk with a spirit that doesn’t exist. Although you don’t feel God exists, God knows you exist. God is watching over you and loving you. This is called prevenient grace. Simply be still and God will talk to you. How will you know it is God’s voice? You’ll know … you’ll know.
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.
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,
If you’ve been downloading my new songs, you’ve no doubt been enjoying the many talents of Martie Echito. As producer and arranger for A Servant’s Songs, my soon-to-be-completed CD, Martie has taken my song ideas to a new and marvelous level. Watching these songs unfold under his care has been very exciting.
I could boast about Martie’s musical successes, but I think it would be much better to invite you to visit MartieEchito.com, where you can also enjoy his original music. In this quick post I simply want to thank Martie for many years of friendship, his incredible patience, and his seasoned musicianship.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28
The United Methodist Church is in a campaign to “Rethink Church.” I like it. It’s catchy and hopefully will cause people to see church in a new light. For seekers it’ll help them to see a church that is open to doing things differently.
Rethinking deeply, profoundly and prayerfully is a demanding spiritual exercise. It means putting our imagination and creativity to work. Rethinking church means preaching the Good News in ways that excite people and calls them to action. It means genuinely reaching out to people because we care about their souls. It means being bold enough to challenge and change the reality of our decadent society. It means being innovative in worship. There is no one style of worship that fits all. True worship is warm, moving and uplifting. It should be indigenous to the people.
Rethinking church is thinking again how Jesus taught us to live our lives for one another and in community. It’s a “re” word that is part of the family of renew, revive and reformation. To do this:
We need to look around today
We need to speak to every age
We need to go beyond the walls
We need to witness and live so all can see
If you’re thinking, “Kimball is on the verge of writing a song,” you’re right. In fact, I’ve already written and recorded it. I hope you will download it, enjoy it, and share it.