Archive for May, 2009

The following prayer by the Rev. Tim Whitaker was published in the January/February 2001 issue of the The District Beam, newsletter of the Virginia Conference’s Norfolk District. At the time, Mr. Whitaker was serving as superintendent of that district.

On Feb. 28, 2001, he was elected to be a bishop and was assigned to United Methodist Church’s Florida Annual Conference.

Though not originally written for Pentecost Sunday, the prayer is certainly fitting for that occasion.

Eternal God, by the outpouring of your Holy Spirit you have established your church to be the visible body of Jesus Christ on earth and chosen us to be members of Christ’s body.

Bishop Timothy Whitaker

Bishop Timothy Whitaker

Build up your church in faith upon the foundation of the teaching of the apostles, with the proclamation of Christ as the cornerstone.

Deliver your church from the blindness of heresies and from the cowardice of acquiescing to the principalities and powers of this present age.

Give us courage to raise the sails of the ark of salvation, which is your holy church, so that we may be blown forward in mission by the wind of your Holy Spirit.

Deliver us from the temptation to steer your ship into safe harbors to protect ourselves from the bracing breezes of that Spirit who would send us into uncharted waters where we do not want to go.

Preserve your assemblies from profane strife, weariness of spirit, and fear of holy boldness.

May your church experience anew the freedom of obedience, the joy of adventure, and the satisfaction of being employed in your great work in the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Bishop Timothy Whitaker’s blog is here.

Related posts
Bishop Lindsey Davis: The wind-and-flame faith of Pentecost
The Global Day of Prayer
Podcast: Tom Atkins — ‘We need the power of Holy Spirit’
Podcast: E. Stanley Jones on ‘The Gift of the Holy Spirit’
Bishop Timothy Whitaker: Abortion and the gospel of peace

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The following reflection on Pentecost was written in 2000 by Bishop G. Lindsey Davis, now episcopal leader of the Kentucky Annual Conference and the Red Bird Missionary Conference.

In many of our United Methodist churches, Pentecost Sunday will be observed only casually. For still others, no mention of Pentecost will be made at all.

It wasn’t that way in the early church! For the first 200 years of the Christian faith, there was only one major season of celebration — and it wasn’t Christmas.

come-holy-spiritInstead, it began around Easter and culminated 50 days later with the festival of Pentecost!

Pentecost was a day to stand amazed at the grace of God. It was a day to embrace a new Spirit — a time to allow the Holy Spirit of God to energize all their worship and their living.

For the early church, Pentecost was a highlight of the year — a day of excitement and sheer joy.

It was the same on the first Pentecost, when the disciples of Jesus gathered in Jerusalem. Acts 2 tells us they experienced a dynamic outpouring of God’s presence that day that all but catapulted them into ministry — witnessing, proclaiming, loving, caring, teaching, baptizing, and sharing with one another.

That first Pentecost was God’s trumpet blast to the world, birthing the church of Jesus Christ.

Becoming Christ-bearers

The kind of wind-and-flame Christianity that flows from Pentecost isn’t safe. It is radically unsafe — and uncomfortable. It will cost you everything.

What difference did it make in the lives of the early believers to have the Spirit upon them? Read about it in the Book of Acts. They sold whatever they owned so they could make sure that each individual need was met; they followed a disciplined routine of worship, prayer, and Bible Study; they lived together in wonderful harmony.

And everyday God added to their number those who were being saved.

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses,” Jesus proclaimed to His disciples. To be a witness for Him is to be a “Christ-bearer” — to bear the image of Jesus Christ at the deepest roots of who we are, what we do, and where we go.

To that end, may God’s Holy Spirit come and fall afresh on us!

Lindsey Davis was elected to the episcopacy at the 1996 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, after serving as a pastor and district superintendent in Kentucky. He served as the bishop of the North Georgia Conference from 1996-2008.

Look down and see this waiting host,
And send the promised Holy Ghost;
We need another Pentecost.
Send the fire today!

William Booth / Lex Loizides

Related posts
Bishop Lindsey Davis: ‘The gospel in an age of skepticism’
Conversations with Bishop Lindsey Davis
Bishop Lindsey Davis: ‘The primary task of the Church’
An interview with Bishop Lindsey Davis
Bishop Lindsey Davis: ‘A fully engaged laity’
Bishop Lindsey Davis: ‘Whatever it takes to reach the lost’
Bishop Lindsey Davis: The Church in time of war
Bishop Lindsey Davis: A vision for the future
Bishop Lindsey Davis speaks to the Confessing Movement
Bishop Lindsey Davis on the role of a bishop

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Stopping in for a brief visit last week at a United Methodist Church in Indiana, I was pleased to see a poster in the narthex indicating the congregation would be participating in this Sunday’s Global Day of Prayer. This international prayer event represents one of the most remarkable spiritual movements of our time.

GDOP-09The Global Day of Prayer had its beginnings in 2001, when a Day of Repentance and Prayer was held at Newlands Rugby Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2002, similar prayer events took place across South Africa.

In 2004, Christians throughout the African continent — in 56 nations — participated in a continental Day of Repentance and Prayer for Africa.

The first Global Day of Prayer took place on Pentecost Sunday 2005, with believers in 156 nations — including the United States — taking part. By Pentecost Sunday last year, the movement had spread to 214 nations.

Use the video player below to see excerpts from last year’s Global Day of Prayer observance, the largest prayer gathering in history.


Global Day of Prayer gatherings will be held this Sunday in stadiums, parks, local churches, and private homes.

Because this year the event falls on a “fifth Sunday,” the Day of Prayer will be observed in some communities as part of regularly scheduled “Fifth Sunday Community Services” that bring together several congregations for joint worship.

Each local Global Day of Prayer event will be unique, as believers in different parts of the world worship and pray according to their own cultures and customs. But at some point each gathering of believers — across all 200-plus nations — will pray the 2009 Prayer for World (PDF), a prayer of unity rooted in a common desire to see the unfolding of God’s purposes. In English, it reads in part:

King of Glory,
Come and finish Your work in our cities, our peoples and our nations.

We lift our voices in unison with believers from Africa and Asia,
from the Middle East and Europe, from North and South America,
and from Australia and the Pacific Islands — together we cry:
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Be lifted up ancient doors
so that the King of glory may come in!

As Your deeds increase throughout the earth,
and as Your blessings abound to all the nations,
they will seek You, asking, “Who is this King of glory?”
Together we will answer:
He is the Lord Almighty!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Come fill the earth with Your glory as the waters cover the sea.
The Spirit and the Bride say:
Amen! Come Lord Jesus!

Many (but certainly not all) Global Day of Prayer events in the U.S. are shown here.

Related posts
Toward Palm Sunday
A Lenten focus: ‘Prayers of biblical hope’

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This week’s MethodistThinker Podcast features a sermon by evangelist Tom Atkins, immediate past president of the National Association of United Methodist Evangelists.

The Rev. Tom Atkins

The Rev. Tom Atkins

After serving as a pastor in the North Georgia Conference for more than two decades, Tom became one of North Georgia’s General Evangelists in 1994.

Since that time, he has preached at revivals, camp meetings, and special services in nearly 30 of the UMC’s annual conferences.

Tom Atkins is also a member of the Francis Asbury Society, founded by former Asbury College president Dennis Kinlaw. The society is a group focused on “liv[ing] and proclaim[ing] the truth that complete Christian salvation involves not only forgiveness but also… transformation through the Holy Spirit’s power.”

The sermon on this week’s podcast, “We Need the Power of the Holy Spirit,” was preached in January 2009 at an evangelism rally sponsored by two districts of the North Georgia Conference.

To listen, use the audio player below (22 min.) — or download an mp3 (10MB).

This edition of the MethodistThinker Podcast concludes our current season. Lord willing, the podcast will resume in September.

Our projected fall line-up includes teaching by the late Bishop William R. Cannon; Robert Coleman, author of The Master Plan of Evangelism; Bishop Lindsey Davis of the Kentucky Conference; and the late Harry Denman.

For previous editions of the MethodistThinker Podcast, click the podcasts tab at the top of this page.

Related information
Biography of Tom Atkins | Indian Springs Holiness Camp Meeting
Brochure for Wild@Heart: Life-Changing Retreats for Men (PDF), sponsored by the Tom Atkins Evangelistic Association

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The Rev. Dick McClain has been chosen as the next president of The Mission Society, the Methodist-led missionary-sending agency founded 25 years ago. The Society now has more than 225 missionaries serving in 32 nations around the world.


The Rev. Dick McClain

Mr. McClain, who has served as The Society’s vice president for church ministry since 2000, will succeed Dr. Phil Granger, who is retiring at the end of this year.

“Dick brings [to the presidential post a] total commitment to Christ and the mission entrusted to the church to…bring God’s message of salvation and eternal life to the world,” Dr. Granger said of his newly named successor “He [also] brings his love for The Mission Society, as evidenced by more than 20 years of service to this fantastic ministry.”

Mr. McClain, the son and grandson of missionaries, was born in China and was raised in India and Hong Kong. Later, after earning a degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky (USA), he served as a United Methodist pastor in West Michigan.

He began his career with The Mission Society in 1986 and became vice president for mission ministries 1995, with responsibility for overseeing the agency’s international ministries. Nine years ago, he was named vice president for church ministry, with the task of mobilizing local churches (PDF) for global outreach (related video here).

Mr. McClain will assume his duties as The Mission Society’s new president on Dec. 1, 2009.

Use the audio player below to listen to a 2008 interview with Dick McClain, produced by Mission Network News (11 min.).

mission-society-logoThe Mission Society was founded in January 1984 under the name, The Mission Society for United Methodists.

In celebration of 25 years of ministry, The Society is sponsoring an open house on Sept. 11 at the agency’s headquarters in Norcross, Georgia, followed by a reception, banquet, and program at nearby Norcross First United Methodist Church (registration details here). Seating for the banquet is limited to 350.

Related post
Happy Birthday to The Mission Society

Articles/audio by Dick McClain
Is your church on mission? (PDF) | Unfinished (Spring 2007)
Mary’s devoted heart | Good News Magazine (Nov/Dec 2003)
Do we still need missionaries? | Good News Magazine (Jul/Aug 1993)
Audio: Ten guidelines for evaluating your church’s mission program (3 min.)

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The importance of the Ascension

“I believe…Jesus Christ…ascended into heaven,
and stitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”

These words, from the Apostles’ Creed, are spoken in many United Methodist worship services almost every Sunday. Regrettably, few people who speak them understand why the Ascension is one of the key doctrines of the Christian faith.

I hope many pastors and teachers will seek to remedy that this Sunday — Ascension Sunday.

Not long ago, I stumbled across a passionate presentation on the Ascension by well-known Southern Baptist author and speaker, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

[T]he writer of the book of Hebrews says to us that [Jesus] is our mediator — but he is not only our mediator, he is our great high priest. He understands us….

Dr. Albert Mohler

Dr. Albert Mohler

It’s common to hear evangelicals say, “We don’t need a priest…because Christ  did it all. It’s all done. Nothing needs to be mediated for us now….”

And that’s so right, it’s horribly wrong. We need no earthly priest — but we are desperately dependent upon the great high priest who intercedes before the throne of God, intercedes for the saints. We are desperately, in every single moment of our lives, absolutely dependent upon the active intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ for His own….

We need a priest — oh, how we need a priest. And what a priest we have!…

Every single breath we take, we take because Jesus Christ is our mediator and great high priest. Everything we do in the name of Christ is undergirded, is sustained, is blessed and promised by God because of the intercession of Jesus Christ….

The fact that He ascended to heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty is the only reason we can…say — as we sing in the words of Charles Wesley:

Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
and claim the crown, through Christ my own.

What kind of boldness could we possibly have in approaching the throne of God if Christ Himself were not sitting at the Father’s right hand?

Use the audio player below to listen to Dr. Mohler’s remarks (six minutes), excerpted from a series on the Apostles’ Creed presented last year at Southern Seminary.

Though the cloud from sight received him
when the forty days were o’er
shall our hearts forget his promise,
‘I am with you evermore’?

—  William Chatterton Dix

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This week’s MethodistThinker Podcast features a sermon by Dr. Eddie Fox, world director of World Methodist Evangelism, a ministry of the World Methodist Council.

Dr. Fox is also the executive director of the World Methodist Evangelism Institute.

Dr. Eddie Fox

Dr. Eddie Fox

In his role as director of World Evangelism, he oversees the efforts of 16 regional evangelists worldwide. His efforts at linking Methodists through the “Connecting Congregations” program have resulted in 149 partnerships between established churches and newly formed congregations.

Eddie Fox’s books include Faith Sharing and Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So, both written with Dr. George Morris.

The sermon on this week’s podcast was preached in February 2009 at Calvary UMC in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Fox’s text is 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.

To listen to the podcast, use the audio player below (17 min.) — or download an mp3 (7.9 MB).

Next week, as Pentecost Sunday nears, the MethodistThinker Podcast will present sermon titled, “The Power of the Holy Spirit,” by Methodist evangelist Tom Atkins of the North Georgia Conference.

For previous podcasts, click the podcasts tab at the top of this page.

Related post
Maxie Dunnam, Eddie Fox release videos on proposed amendments

Related articles and information
The worldwide Methodist movement | Eddie Fox, Interpreter Magazine (Web-only article—March 31, 2009)
Evangelism is ‘powerful dynamic’ for Methodist movement | Joan G. LaBarr, United Methodist News Service (July 2006)
Holding fast: Reflections for the 2008 General Conference (PDF) | H. Eddie Fox, We Confess newsletter (March/April 2008)

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