Sunday, March 18, 2012

God Calls Us from Places of Safety

On March 11th, the suggested material for the church year deposited grist on my mill (on behalf of God) John 2 and Jesus "cleansing" the temple.

The text in John is different from Matthew, Mark and Luke.  For example, in John, this scene happens at the start of Jesus ministry rather than at the end in Matthew, Mark and Luke.  Perhaps a demonstration for the disciples of what this new rabbi was going to expect of them?  

          I wondered if John wasn't inviting us to see Jesus in terms of a new and different relationship with God.  

               I wondered if God wasn't perhaps calling us to leave the safety of the status quo (the temple) which included honoring our traditional ideas of what God expects of us and follow Jesus (the new "temple") as the embodiment of that different relationship with God.  

There was irony in this theme:  this was the Sunday of the announcement of my move from Stratmoor (in Colorado, my home for fifteen of my adult years) to Hilltop (in Utah, a place I have never lived.)

C. S. Lewis in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, answers the question if the Jesus character (Aslan the Lion) is safe:  "Safe?  Of course he isn't safe, but he's good."

Don't you wonder what the new disciples must have been wondering as Jesus is "cleansing the temple:"  'what have I gotten myself into with this Jesus guy?  Maybe I need to get back to dad tending those nets.'  


          But maybe, moving from a place of safety to a new and different place is exactly what God expects of us at a time of God's choosing, not our own!

Harvey Martz is the Senior Pastor at St. Andrew UMC in Highlands Ranch, CO.  He observes that it is challenging for us as leaders to espouse a change through us until it happens to us.  

To preach a message of leaving a place of safety where we think we understand our world to a different place requires understanding this Jesus might not be safe, but remembering he is most certainly, good.  


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pastor Dennis Resume

Current Appointment:  Stratmoor Hills United Methodist Church, Colorado Springs, Colorado:  Dennis has been the Senior Pastor since 2003 to one of the three fastest growing congregations in the Rocky Mountain Conference.  Stratmoor consists of over 250 multi-cultural members, constituents, youth and children in an area of high residential turbulence.  As a result of his and the congregation's prayers, faithfulness, and hard work, attendance, membership, and stewardship have tripled in the last eight years.  The Reverend Doctor Melanie Rosa, the District Superintendent, describes Stratmoor as the poster child for a Vital Congregation in the Mile High-Pikes Peak District. 
Dennis has been in ministry within the Rocky Mountain Conference of the UMC since 2000 in a variety of appointments.  He serves as an officer of the Conference through his duties as the Conference Statistician.  He is also Vice President of the Council on Finance and Administration. 
In 1994 Dennis retired as a Regular Army Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded a Legion of Merit, the second highest peacetime award upon retirement.  Military responsibilities included light infantry, human resource management, and cost analysis.  His assignments took him to Alaska, Colorado, New York, Virginia, Kansas, Korea and Germany with brief excursions to other European countries and Japan.  He attended the Airborne School (yes, exiting a perfectly good airplane while still in flight) and U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, among others.  At various times he was the first-line supervisor to as many as fifteen field grade officers as well as more than a 150 enlisted soldiers. 
Dennis has been an ardent student and practitioner of leadership his entire adult life.
Dennis has been published as an author of articles and letters-to-the-editor in 1776 (Army’s Human Resource Magazine), Army Magazine, Army Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post on a wide range of personnel, theological, and resource related topics.  He is competent in conversational Spanish spending eight weeks in Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile, and Guatemala practicing.  He was the 2006 recipient of The Spirit of Rotary award in the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs.  He has served as the local board president for both Westside CARES and Family Promise (formerly Interfaith Hospitality Network.) 
Education is a core family value and as a result, he has an eclectic education focused on excellence with two degrees from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC:  a Doctor of Ministry, to be awarded May 7, 2012, and a Master of Divinity, 1999 (Summa Cum Laude) in addition to a Master in Business Administration (1979) from Rochester (N.Y). Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Music (1971) from Georgia State University in his hometown of Atlanta.  
Between 1982 and 1989, Dennis ran seven marathons (26 Miles, 385 Yards.) He qualified for and competed in the prestigious Boston Marathon in 1988.  He has skied in North and South America, Asia, and Europe.  He has golf clubs and spends time on a golf course, but to call it golf is a stretch.  His goal before he dies is to visit every Major League baseball stadium.  To say he's a baseball fan is an understatement.  There is theological meaning in a game with an objective to get home safe.
Dennis and Marilyn White have been married for nearly 25 years and are parents to a blended family with four adult children living in Virginia, Colorado and Texas.  Praise God!

Note Number 1 to Hilltop UMC

Sisters and Brothers in Christ at Hilltop United Methodist in Sandy, Utah!  

Marilyn and I are excited about becoming part of what God is doing at Hilltop United Methodist. 

In Matthew 28:20 Jesus gathers the remaining disciples on a mountain and uses these verbs:  “go … make … baptize … teach.”  That passage and those verbs are key elements of Marilyn’s and my spiritual formation.  In order to “go” we must leave places of safety and boldly and confidently answer God’s call.  Our Christian vocation is the intentional creation of new life-long students of the gospel realized through our relinquishment of worldly ways.  Everything we understand about Hilltop communicates Hilltop is a community with that spiritual grounding. 

I told the Hilltop Staff Parish Relations Committee that if we had been asked to write a description of a church where we would feel called, the description Hilltop provided was one we would have written.

We are impressed with what you are already doing

We are excited about joining the Hilltop Christian family on this journey.

We look forward to being at Hilltop in July! 

We see this as a sacred opportunity God has placed before us. 

We both ask you to be in prayer for churches relinquishing their pastors to other churches this year.  This is a time of anxiety you uniquely understand.  Your collective prayers for patience and assurance are powerful, knowing that God is at work and will provide. 

Yours in Christ,

Dennis Shaw