Disciple Library

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might  become the righteousness of God.   2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)

This past Christmas season I heard about people attending “Ugly Christmas Sweater” parties. The invitation asks guests to wear a sweater they had perhaps received as a gift, but considered too ugly to wear under normal circumstances. The party’s host even awards prizes for the ugliest attire. In this day and age, most gifts we don’t like go back to the store shortly after Christmas, to be exchanged for something we will likely use. So, there’s no good reason to have a drawer full of ugly sweaters to begin with.

This Lenten season we are reminded our lives are full of spiritual “ugly sweaters” – those deeds and thoughts we know are too sinful and embarrassing to show in public. We do our best to hide them, or pretend they are not in our closet. It’s not enough to just bury them in the back of the drawer. We need a way to exchange them for something we are glad to wear.

Today’s verse captures the wonderful message of the Good News of Jesus Christ made available to each of us. In this description, we find God’s Great Exchange. In Christ, all my sin and ugliness was laid on him, and I can exchange it all for God’s own righteousness. Righteousness is a word that speaks of us having the right relationship with God. Not hiding from him or running from him, but knowing we are loved, protected and provided for. If my sinful history (and future, too) is replaced with a right relationship toward God because of what Christ did, I can live a life of peace and joy in Christ. I don’t have to bury stuff, I just exchange it by faith that God means what He says. God really intends to have me live with new clothing – a robe of righteousness that is dazzlingly beautiful in God’s sight.

So, this season realize that repentance is the act of agreeing with God that we have ugly sweaters in our closets, but God has assigned Christ the task of wearing all our ugliness and bearing God’s just wrath that must be expended against that sin. In the Great Exchange we are freely clothed in beautiful garments no one would ever dream of hiding in a closet. Display the righteousness of God in all you do, because it’s freely yours.

Prayer: Father, I thank you that Jesus was willing and able to bear my ugliness and take my place under your wrath. I thank you that because of your great love, I am now treated as one who is fully right with you. Help me to be joyful in living as your child. By the Holy Spirit, continue to show me the ugly sweaters I hide, and exchange them for Your beautiful righteousness. Let me see myself wearing your beauty, and shining with heavenly light in a dark world. Use me to help others take advantage of your Great Exchange. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Steve Burke

Jackson Chapel UMC

Frederick, MD



2014 Lenten Devotional

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(The fifth in a series of posts by Dr. Merritt on pastoral leadership) 

It is without question one of, if not the most, difficult and yet important job of any leader. You will make mistakes in hiring staff. Over the years, I’ve tried to remember three principles in bringing people on to serve with me.

1. Find people who can do what you cannot do and can do it better than anybody else can do it.

2. Let them do their job. Delegate with feedback and accountability, and then trust them to get the job done.

3. Don’t be afraid to let others shine and get credit for a job well done.

This is a great article by Dr. Merritt.  You can read the entire blog at http://pastorsedge.myshopify.com/blogs/edgeblog/4087572-keys-to-building-staff-leadership

I have added a bookshelf to the blog.  These are some of the books that will be informing my ministry and writing for 2008.  I would love to open up a discussion about any book on the bookshelf.  I will add the other 10  books over the next month.

A Book Review
William T Chaney Jr


In the Name of Jesus
Reflections on Christian Leadership
Henri J.M. Nouwen

in-the-name-of-jesus.jpgThis book is about Rev. Nouwen’s journey from Harvard as a professor to L’Arche as a member of their community and caregiver. I have skimmed the book several times but this morning I read it as I begin to prepare for charge conference and calling leaders to ministries within the church. The subtitle really made an impact on me this morning so I read the entire book this morning.

This book should be read by all pastors as they evaluate their leadership. There are three movements in the text.

  1. From Relevance to Prayer
  2. From Popularity to Ministry
  3. From Leading to Being Led

Each movement is packed with wisdom from his experience. The most powerful chapter is From Leading to Being Led. Servant Leadership is often oxymoron in the church. Clergy and lay leaders are called to lead by serving using Jesus as our example yet, so often we have adopted corporate mindsets and infused them into how we do church. As a result we loose the essences and effect of leading like Christ.

Professor Nouwen also addresses the role of clergy to truly be God’s representatives in our local communities of faith.

“Most Christian leaders today raise psychological or social questions even though they frame then in scriptural terms. Real theological thinking, which is thinking with the mind of Christ, is hard to find in the practice of ministry. Without solid theological reflection, future leaders will be little more than pseudo-psychologists, pseudo-sociologists, pseudo-social workers. They will think of themselves as enablers, facilitators, role models, father and mother figures, big brothers or sisters and so on and thus join the countless men and women who make a living by trying to help their fellow human beings cope with stresses and strains of everyday living. But that has little to do with Christian leadership because the Christian leader thinks, speaks and acts in the name of Jesus who came to free humanity from the power of death and open the way to eternal life. “

As I survey the leading televangelists, popular revival preachers and many pastors who are leading mega churches I see the fruit of Dr. Nouwen’s wisdom. Beyond the desires for popularity, beyond the denominational politically correct framework, and beyond the “I want people to like me” neediness; the church needs leaders who are theologically centered deep, reflective, critical thinker who can analysis the world and be God’s representatives in the world.


AWESOME!!!!!!! The reading of the biblical text that emerges out of the Black Church experience will be refreshing.

Pastor William T Chaney Jr
West Baltimore UMC