My Speaking Calendar – Q1 of 2017

My Speaking Calendar – Q1 of 2017

Friends – As many of you know, I spend most of my days serving the fine people of the The Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis as a staff pastor.  As an extension of that work, I regularly get opportunities to enter into other spaces for the purpose of teaching, training, and the like. This year, I’m hoping to do a better job of publicizing these in the hopes that you all, new and old friends, might be able to check out a few. I’ll update and re-share this post as dates are added (or dropped), and I’ll post another list for Q2. 

I’d love to see new and old friends at any of these events! Can’t make any of them? I’d love your prayers that I might be able to teach & preach in ways that would encourage, inspire, and give hope!

Peace!

Edrin

P.S.  I’d love the chance to speak to your church, nonprofit, or other organizational gatherings. Email me at edrin.williams@gmail.com for information on how to make that possible!

Read More

Inward First

Inward First

An observation as one who spends his days making disciples…One challenge in discipleship is that most adults have never been taught to pay attention to their inner life.

Whenever I am troubled in any way, the rush is to find external explanations for what I am experiencing. In that sense, the cause of my discomfort is always outside of me – someone or something else has caused it. In my mind, I tell myself that if I could just change that circumstance, go to a different place, surround myself with different people, all would be great. That’s what I tell myself, but I know all along that it’s not actually true.  The truth is actually much closer to me than I’d like to admit.

There’s an old adage which says, “wherever you go, you are there.” Do you remember that one? Sobering words, right?

 
In the rush to find an external cause for our every discomfort or misadventure, we forfeit the golden opportunity to look inward. Though often avoided, looking inward is an incredibly powerful practice that we must discover or rediscover if we are ever to mature spiritually and emotionally. Learning to look inward and inward first, is an essential part of living a “whole and holy” life.

As a pastor and leader, this is especially true for me. Tending to my inner life is a 24/7 gig and it’s not easy at all. Yet, I lean into this practice because of the reality that who we are internally will eventually show up externally. Rather than being paralyzed by the fear of how your inner brokenness might eventually show up and wreak havoc on your life and the life of those around you, why not get started on the work of becoming aware of your inner life and working to transform it? As you getting started in this work, may I suggest a resource?

 

The single best modern resource that I’ve come across for practice of inner transformation is a book called The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Pete Scazzero. Helping leaders to see a connection between their emotional health and spiritual health is a part of Pete’s life work, which that you can learn more about at EmotionallyHealthy.Org. The Emotionally Healthy Leader is an incredible resource that helps the reader pay attention to their heart, their past, their motivations, and many other elements of the inner life. You’ll explore topics like sabbath, leadership shadows, marriage and singleness, boundaries, and more. I highly recommend this book and the workbook that goes with it!

Regardless of your career or stage of life, your inner life matters. You’re never too late or too early to begin this work. Today is a good day to get started!

Questions:

  1. What do you think keeps most adults from doing that needed inner work? 
  2. Over the years, have you learned any helpful strategies for looking inward? 
Read More

Sin & Broken Hearts

Sin & Broken Hearts
A few years ago, I recall counseling a young couple through a very difficult situation that left one of them deeply heartbroken and the other, in many ways, crippled by their own actions. Journeying with them caused me think differently about the effects of sin. In churches, especially American evangelical churches, our general understanding of sin is individual and personal – one person’s actions that impact their relationship with God. More and more, I’m realizing that sin is also a communal thing. When one sins, it affects everyone in significant ways. Although significant, the effects are not always immediately visible. Because of that, we maintain that sin is between God and the individual. That is an insufficient understanding of sin. Sin kills. Sin destroys community and relationship. Sin leaves behind a trail of broken hearts. Sin gets in the way of God’s will being lived out in us and through us.
 
God. others. self. community. Can you see how many are affected by the sins of even one?
 There is good news, though. Just as so many and so much can be affected by the sins of just one, there is redemption available to many that is attributable to one. It was the Apostle Paul who wrote that God’s grace and the gift came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, and overflows to many. (Romans 5:15)
 
So what am I saying? I’m suggesting, at once, at least two things:
  1. Sin is debilitating and needs to be taken much more seriously because of the havoc that it wreaks. Minimizing it is like playing with fire.
  2. We need not feel hopeless about sin, because redemption is available in Jesus Christ.
May God bring both of these truths to our remembrance daily and use them to shape us into his likeness!
Read More

Known By Our…Love?

Known By Our…Love?

SCR288-G-01

Have you ever heard a song that triggered all sorts of conflicting emotions inside of you?

 

You know those songs, right? Maybe it’s an old love song that represents a season of your life that you’d much rather forget. When you hear that song, for something like 94% of your being, the instinct is to quickly find another song. Try as you might to ignore it, though, there’s a small part of you, the other 6%, that sighs and reminisces for just a moment. Don’t you just hate when that happen? Maybe it’s just me.

There are other songs that cause smiles to quickly cover our faces, with their upbeat tempo and catchy lines.  It’s a beautiful thing. Even so, that happy feeling can be tempered in a moment and without warning as you wrestle with the hope of that song when compared to the difficulties of real life. Music can cause great inner turmoil! Such was the case a few days ago when I heard what could only be described as a classic Christian folk tune called, They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love. Check out the lyrics…

 They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love

 We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand,
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand,
And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
 
We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

 

Hearing the song – its lyrics, upbeat tempo, and Kingdom-focus made me smile. The idea of unity in the Spirit. The idea of a people walking hand in hand to spread the Good News. The idea that, somehow…someday, the term Christian would be synonymous with great love caused warm feelings of joy to well up within me. Almost immediately, though, I began to think about the innumerable ways that we’ve fallen short of this desirable outcome. The truth is that Christians, especially in this country, are known for anything but love. It’s because of the ways that we treat each other and the ways in which we engage those outside of our faith. If you think about it long enough, it can become depressing.  We’ve greatly missed the mark!

 

Even so, God is faithful and offers reminders of the possibilities that can encourage us to keep going despite the uphill nature of the journey. A few weeks ago, one of my former youth ministry kids lost his mother after an extended illness. This young man had  been an integral part of my early youth ministry years here in Minneapolis. Over the years, there were countless bible studies, lunches, missions trips, BBQ’s at our house, conversations about every imaginable topic, graduations and so much more. I had walked alongside this kid as a big brother and spiritual mentor for years. We had not talked as regularly for about year, but hearing about the death of his mother meant that there was yet another season that would need to journeyed together. That’s what you do for the people you love.

I did not have to respond alone, though. There was a tremendous outpouring of love and support from many others. It was another of those “beauty from ashes” moments that I’ve come to expect of God. On the day of his mom’s memorial, I found myself sitting at a table with this young man, 3 other of my friends who had mentored him, and several of his peers who had become like family in our youth ministry. We shared exaggerated stories, laughed a lot, wiped a tear or two, and enjoyed the classic Baptist church meal. You know what it was!

In those moments, which had the potential to be the hardest of this guy’s life to this point, I witnessed true Christian love. I saw what it was to surround someone who had nothing to give us in return and love them. I can imagine that Death was pissed off because his sting had not had the intended effect. It’s precisely those kinds of moments where we get to peel back the layers of this life and get a peek of the Kingdom of God breaking through. It’s a beautiful thing!

This week, I pray that you’ll encounter a song or two that give you new hope in the coming Kingdom. May these songs cause you to smile, wrestle, yearn for more of the Kingdom of God…or some transformative combination of the 3. As that happens, may you remember God’s faithfulness and continue to live and love in miraculous ways!

Grace & Peace!
Known By Love

Read More

Pax Romana & Our Violent Peace

Pax Romana & Our Violent Peace
On Sunday, I had a chance to hear a powerful message by my pastor, Dr. Dennis R. Edwards. In our 3rd Advent message, on the topic of PEACE, Pastor Dennis made a reference to the way in which the Roman Empire boasted about its peace (Pax Romana). In his reference, he challenged this false idea of peace, in large part because it was maintained by violently squelching any one who disturbed or dared to challenge it. This was especially true for the folks stuck at the bottom of society.  Crucifixion was one of many torturous methods of control utilized by the Roman Empire, and this was the end that Jesus met.

The image that I most often think of when it comes to the Roman Empire is called the Appian Way, where it’s believed that more than 6,000 slaves were crucified after a revolt in 73 B.C.  It is said that they were left to hang, suffer, and die along the roadside as a statement to the rest of the empire. Their bodies lined the Appian Way for more than 130 miles. Yes, 130 miles.

 
appian
 
Fast forward to today.  One could argue, as many have, that America is an empire in the truest sense of the term. Depending on your station in life, that may or may not be a bad thing. Political viewpoints aside, I pose this question: How should a follower of Jesus view an empire?
 
As you’re deciding, take a look at the photo below. It visualizes a weird juxtaposition from #Ferguson.
 
Fegurson - Pax Romana
 
 The brightly lit sign reads, “Season’s Greetings,” and it is especially well contrasted against the jet black skies and black riot gear of the Ferguson Police. Oh, the irony! Deeper than just the image, can anyone see the correlation between the violent peace of Pax Romana and the vicious nature of the American system of law & order?
  •  If the Roman Empire’s tactics are now seen as barbaric, why are so many Christians ok with what’s happening right before our eyes?
  • If Jesus was victimized by the Roman Empire, where do we see Jesus in today’s system of law & order?
  • Would Jesus take a place of privilege today or would he suffer with and on behalf of those who suffer at the hands of the system?
 Think about it…
Read More