Forest Road UMC: “a wonderful opportunity”

After a thirty plus year hiatus I have once found myself again in the role of pastor. At the end of June I accepted a part-time appointment as pastor to the Forest Road United Methodist Church here in Lynchburg, Virginia. My long-time friend, Larry Davies, the District Superintendent here on the Lynchburg District suggested that serving the Forest Road congregation would be a “wonderful opportunity” for me to put into practice my mission ideas included in my first book, Getting Off Our Buts.

First, I have to admit I accepted the appointment as a favor to Larry, and I did so with more than a little trepidation. I wasn’t sure I could still be an effective pastor. A lot has changed in 30 years. And second, I knew I already had a fairly full plate. I am still appointed to Stop Hunger Now and I am now also an adjunct professor at George Mason University.

Fear often slows me down, which is what it is supposed to do, but I learned long ago never to let it stop me. And even though I knew I would have to walk a scheduling tightrope, I felt that if I was careful I could manage all my commitments. So I now once again find myself in the midst of active pastoral ministry.

And I have to admit something else. I am loving it. There’s definitely all the frustrations I remember from my early days in the pastoral ministry…but there is also the deep joy of seeing folks come alive to the gospel message. I love visiting with folks in their homes. And I am finding it fulfilling to again being in a position where I am daily called to demonstrate real servant leadership.

And even though I wouldn’t admit it to him, Larry was right. Forest Road United Methodist Church is indeed proving to be a “wonderful opportunity” to teach loving and caring folks how we can all get off our buts to make mission happen.

(Oh, and by the way, Getting Off Our Buts is now available on Amazon.)

I’d rather raise Hell…

One of the fads that seems to be popular at the moment is “Keep Calm .” It  began with “Keep Calm and Carry On,” but has taken on a life of its own. The “Keep Calm” list now seems limitless.

Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate” is one. There’s “Keep Calm and Pray.” Another is “Keep Calm and Read Good Books.”

I’ve seen “Keep Calm and Cheer for Duke,” as well as “Keep Calm and Avoid UNC”  One that I really identify with is “Keep Calm and Go Fishing.”

But to be honest, I’ve never been one to “keep calm” about much of anything. Keeping calm is just not a part of my DNA. When I am interested in something you will know about it. I think that’s just the Texan in me.

This morning I came across this gem:

Keep Calm & Carry On

I’d rather Raise Hell & Change the World

This is the real me. Why “keep calm” when we know there’s 25,000 of our family that will die from hunger today? Why just “carry on” when we know we can end hunger forever if we just “get off our Buts” and do it? No. I would definitely rather Raise Hell and Change the World.

What about you? Are you a Hell raiser and a world changer? If you are, then join me. Let’s end hunger in our lifetime. What are you waiting for?

ending hunger is a lifestyle issue


I have often stated my firm belief that we can end hunger in our lifetime. And just as often I have provided reason and rationale for that belief. This morning I will do so yet again.

All it would take to eradicate the scourge of hunger forever is for people of faith to live out the teachings of those they profess to follow. Ending hunger is simply a matter of people of faith adopting lifestyles of faithfulness.

All the world’s great religions teach the same core values of love, compassion, and justice. The Golden Rule is a major tenet of all the world’s great faiths. And if those of us who profess even a modicum of spirituality would live according to the tenet of the Golden Rule we would soon have a world where hunger was nothing but an ugly memory. Hunger is a lifestyle issue.

In my book, Getting Off Our Buts: Making Mission Happen, I put it this way:

People are hungry because they are poor. The poor are powerless. They are powerless because we have no sense of community. Regardless of what we say, we do not feel or act as if we belong to one human family.

If we acted as if we belonged to one family we would not allow one child–much less 25,000 of our family–to suffer and die unnecessarily from hunger every single day.

We can end hunger in our lifetime. We just need to match the way we live with what we say we believe. Once we begin loving each other as we love ourselves we will end hunger forever simply by being the people we want to be.

“And all ate and were satisfied.”

One of the most beautiful and most powerful aspects of the Bible is that it never gets old. No matter how often I read or study a passage there is always something new that appears. The Bible is truly God’s “living word,” always waiting to reveal more truth.

One instance of this has just happened to me in the past couple of weeks. The passage with which I am probably most familiar is Mark 6:30-44, Mark’s account of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. I have read it hundreds of times, preached and taught it almost as many times, and even used it as the basis for my book, Getting Off Our Buts. I know that passage.

However, a couple weeks ago as I was skimming over that passage before a worship service at which I was to preach, a new word was shown to me. There in the middle of a passage with which I was so intimately familiar I “discovered” something powerfully new. In Mark 6:41 Jesus blesses the loaves and the fish and gives them to the twelve disciples to distribute to the crowd. What I had never seen before follows in Mark 6:42:

“And all ate and were satisfied.”

“All ate and were satisfied.” Matthew and Luke’s accounts of the miracle use the exact same wording.  John writes “when they were all filled.”

One of the most important aspects of this miracle was not that over 5,000 were fed with five loaves and two fish, but that all ate and were satisfied. Somehow I had never seen that.

Everyone ate. Not some, not a few, but ALL ate that day.

And ALL were satisfied. ALL were filled.   Do you realized how rare that was in Jesus’ day? Do you realize how rare it continues to be, even today?

We live in a world blessed and created perfectly. There’s far more than enough food available for all of the human family to eat and even to be filled. Why is it then that we quietly stand by while 25,000 of our family needlessly die daily from lack of enough food to eat?

Maybe we just need another miracle…like learning how to become caring enough to share. What do you think?




I pastored rural United Methodist Churches in Virginia for eight years before beginning what is now more than thirty-five years as a professional hunger fighter. Although I felt called to the pastorate, and I loved being a pastor, I always felt a deep sense of frustration at my inability to help my congregations move off dead center in regard to mission outreach.

All my congregations wanted to make a real difference in the world. All of them wanted to reach out in the name of Christ to be involved in significant mission projects. But none of those congregations were able to make the impact they truly desired. And I lacked the leadership skills necessary to help them.

I wish I knew then what I know now.

Those are the open words of the Preface of GETTING OFF OUR BUTS: Making Mission Happen, my new book that will be published this summer. The book is a biblical blueprint for getting congregations and other organizations totally engaged in mission work that can change the world.

There is no reason for any person, group or church not to be actively engaged in making a difference in our broken world. GETTING OFF OUR BUTS is a manual that guides congregations through every step of successful mission work.The book is a guide to help congregations take the necessary steps to become real leaders in reaching out to those most in need, both in their local communities and around the world.

I will share excerpts from the book in the coming few months.