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    Entries in Writing (17)


    A New Resource for the Lenten Season

    Back in December I signed on with First Methodist Church of Mansfield, Texas to develop a series of Lenten devotional readings that would progress through the Gospel of Luke. Lent begins this Wednesday, March 1. My writings will be featured at First Mansfield's Daily First 15. If you would like to receive the readings in your email inbox you can visit their website and sign up by clicking "subscribe" in the upper right hand corner.

    It has been a pleasure to work with the team at First Mansfield, particularly with Pastor David Alexander. Pastor David has a passion for the local church, for teaching the Scriptures, and for evangelism. It has been good to speak and correspond with him about how best to serve his congregation. Our mutual aim has been for the people of God to be equipped with the knowledge necessary to live faithfully to Jesus.

    Pastor David invited me to join his team in January to film a couple of videos for Mansfield's Lenten sermon series and to speak a little about the devotional series and a small group resource that we developed in tandem. Here is the first video:

    Ben Talks about Super Series from First Methodist Mansfield on Vimeo.

    After working with Mansfield in the fall, Pastor David and his team discovered that people wanted to know who I was, and in an effort to help make a connection, we filmed a second video where I shared a little about my family and vocation:

    Meet Ben from First Methodist Mansfield on Vimeo.

    Many thanks to Pastor David and his team for granting me the opportunity to serve Christ alongside them as a partner in ministry.

    If you have enjoyed reading my stuff and are looking for a resource to help you grow during the Lenten season, I encourage you to visit First Mansfield and sign up for the Daily First 15.

    Through Luke, I hope you meet Jesus, know him a bit better, and follow him in daily life.


    Incomplete? Yes, and Sorry.

    Dear Friends:

    A couple of you have reached out today, wondering why in the world a blog post on vocation and calling dropped in to your mailbox this morning, obviously filled with gaps and incomplete thoughts. First, thank you for caring enough to bring this to my attention. And second, this was not intentional.

    For weeks, I've been attempting to write my story, and to do so in a way that is honest and forthright concerning the various complexities that have factored in to my journey these past eight years, culminating in my call to serve as a pastor in Fort Worth this past summer, yet expressing the proper measure of appreciation for the relationships and the circumstances God has coalesced to form and shape my character. Much of what God was doing, at the time, was far beyond my grasp, but now seems only fitting. Right now, my essay stands at over 2,000 words. By the time I am done, it may run double that amount or more--in other words, a long read.

    Most often, when you hear a story of transition from one place to another, there are clean lines. My life has anything but. We simplify our stories, even when they are messy. We know better than to concede that life is that way, and we readily admit that the best stories are those with depth. But those kinds of stories are the hardest to tell, even when they are told succinctly and clearly, brief and pointed. Said differently, there is a place for both parables and Proust. My recording of my story is presently being done for my own self-understanding, but I'm also sure there are friends who want to know why my life has changed the way that it has, what our family has been through these past several months, and I want to share my life. I could tell the story very simply, in words, but I don't think I'd be doing it justice. I don't think I'd be naming those people who have played a key role, or integrating the voices of theologians and authors who have so shaped my life and inspired my vocation to the degree to which they deserve. I'm finding there are a number of themes to be developed, if for no other person but myself.

    I did not blog through the process of calling and discernment. I only had a small circle of counselors in whom I could confide. And I think the past decade, or slightly less, has been foundational for who I am, serving as a pastor, today. I've been surprised by the plot development. I've been more surprised by the Author. And I'm still discovering things about myself, a bit player, but a character nonetheless.

    Please give me a few more days to put more time and energy in to the telling of my story. Now that I know you are waiting, and curious, I will do my best to make the telling public sooner rather than later. Until then, patience.



    L'Engle on Creation

    Photo by Dave Smith

    It is an extraordinary and beautiful thing that God, in creation, uses precisely the same tools and rules as the artist; he works with the beauty of matter; the reality of things; the discoveries of the senses, all five of them; so that we, in turn, may hear the grass growing; see a face springing to life in love and laughter; feel another human hand or the velvet of a puppy's ear; taste food prepared and offered in love; smell--oh, so many things: food, sewers, each other, flowers, books, new-mown grass, dirt...

    Here, in the offerings of creation, the oblations of story and song, are our glimpses of truth.
    -Madeleine L'Engle, quoted in Glimpses of Grace: Daily Thoughts and Reflections


    I'm Working on Something New. A Devotional Project.

    Window View: USEK, Lebanon

    Over the past 18 months I've been invited to work on three separate devotional projects, supplementary material for more expansive church curricula. The first project focused on generosity; the second and third focus on knowing the Bible. Each project has been fun.

    I'm glad to announce that I'm working on material for a fourth project. At Church of the Resurrection, leaders have worked for many years to develop and refine curriculum to help people know, love, and serve God. Abingdon Press has been working with leaders at Resurrection to produce video curriculum, leader, and participant guides for the Journey 101 courses, and I've been brought on board to write the devotional materials.

    The first third has been submitted for edits, but I have two more sections to write. I'd ask that you pray for me as I continue to work. I do my best to write with clarity and simplicity, but also truthfully and with some measure of depth. That's a hard balance to strike. Many of the people who will participate in this course will be new Christians, or people who are taking first steps in the faith. That means these short devotionals will  serve as a foundation for what I hope will be a lifetime of discipleship to Jesus. Please ask God to help me write with conviction and in a way that builds up. By praying, my work becomes a community project. Please join in.

    Again, I'm excited to be back at work, creating materials that help people grow toward maturity in Christ. I'm also excited to share this news with readers. I am so thankful for those who take time to read my words, share in my life, and encourage me along the way.

    We're on the tail end of a snowstorm in Kansas City. So today, I'm enjoying the white blanket, drinking coffee, reading, and staying at work. Time to get to back to it. Blessings!


    Two Pieces Posted Today at The Upper Room

    The Upper Room Magazine is a devotional guide circulated to a lot of people. Today, two pieces I wrote appeared on their website. The first is an entry that appears in this last print edition of the magazine, and the second is a blog piece I was asked to write to accompany the devotional, inviting readers to learn a little more about my life.

    Please read, and if you feel so inclined, leave a comment.

    The Devotional Entry - Divine Comfort

    The Blog Piece - Open to God's Call