All posts by Paul Tillman

Come and Pray as the Bell Tolls

7197918690_028cfe1c76_bListen carefully, my child, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. Come and pray, as the bell tolls. [Ring the bell]

Let us get up, at long last, for the Scriptures rouse us when they say: It is high time for us to arise from sleep. Come and pray, as the bell tolls. [Ring the bell]

Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from heaven that everyday calls out this charge: If you hear his voice today, do not harden your hearts. Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you. Come and pray, as the bell tolls. [Ring the bell]

Not to us, God, not to us give the glory, but to your name alone . . . What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of God’s grace. Come and pray, as the bell tolls. [Ring the bell]

Therefore, we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service. In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing burdensome, nothing  harsh. The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love. Come and pray, as the bell tolls. [Ring the bell]

Faithfully observing God’s teachings in the monastery until death, we shall through patience share in the sufferings of Christ that we may deserve also to share in God’s Glory for all eternity. Come and pray, as the bell tolls. [Ring the bell]


[Ring the bell]

photo credit: evening toll via photopin (license)

Oblate Formation – Benedictine Spirituality

Our upcoming formation is titled “Benedictine Spirituality for Today.” The pre-course work for this class consists of:

  1. ruleforbeginners_coverReading an excerpt from The Rule of Benedict for Beginners: Spirituality for Daily Life by Wil Derkse. Derkse is a Benedictine oblate of St. Willibrord’s Abbey in Doetinchem, the Netherlands.
  2. Reflect upon how I have experienced my sponsor and the community life so far, in the areas of: prayer, community life, and hospitality.

Continue reading Oblate Formation – Benedictine Spirituality

College Dreams – TWC & HBCU

One thing I really appreciate about our Wesleyan colleges and universities is that each institution has its own unique value proposition while remaining under and aligning with the values of The Wesleyan Church. A student truly has choices among the Wesleyan institutions, while remaining assured of academic excellence and Christian values. Details on what I’m talking about can be found in the Summer 2015 edition of Wesleyan Life.

So with Houghton College, Indiana Wesleyan University, Kingswood University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, and Southern Wesleyan University all available, what more college dreams could I have? What if The Wesleyan Church, a denomination founded in the abolition of slavery, included an HBCU (Historically Black College & University)?

In 1888, Bishop James Solomon Russell, a man born into slavery,  founded St Paul College to educate the emancipated. I would hate to see that end after over 100 years, and I think it is also a unique value proposition. What do you think Wesleyan Department of Education & Clergy Development and Wesleyan Department of Multi-Ethnic Ministries?

Redeeming Sex – Book Review

redeeming_sexRedeeming Sex by Debra Hirsch is both an insightful book and easy to read. Hirsch includes a lot of real-life stories mixed with references to studies and good hermeneutics (including use of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral and the trajectory of Scripture as in Webb’s Slaves, Women & Homosexuals). Still, many of her thoughts can be challenging, such as when she speculates on Jesus’ sexuality. (I should note that she does not speculate on Jesus’ sexual preferences, but his attractiveness to others.) The latter half of the book becomes more of a manual for the Church to be open to members of the LGBT community, and by “open” she doesn’t mean accepting of the sin. However, she does make the case that some people may struggle with same-sex attraction their whole life, and to not exclude people from the community just because their road of sanctification includes overcoming sexual sins.

What I felt was missing from my expectations of the book was that Hirsch primarily focused on “redeeming sex” for the homosexual and the Church, mostly to the exclusion of addressing heterosexual sexuality, especially in the second half of the book. I expected more balance because she addressed the need of also redeeming heterosexuality at the beginning of the book, and seems to also do so in many of her online videos. While I do recommend the book, I do not recommend following all Hirsch’s recommendations. I also still feel the need to find another source that addresses this topic from the heterosexual perspective or more broadly from the humanity perspective, something that goes beyond the rule of chastity in singleness and chastity in male-female marriage to dealing with the theology and thoughts that God created us to be holy and created us as sexual beings. I think Christopher Yuan heads this direction in his teaching, but, like Hirsch, approaches in from same-sex attraction experience. This makes me wonder if Christians with opposite-sex attraction are simply behind the curve in working out our salvation in the area of sexuality. For me, I do not assume that just because I am heterosexual and have not broken the command to not commit adultery, that God is completely pleased with how I express my sexuality (Matthew 5:27-32).

Humility – Cornerstone of the Rule – Oblate Formation

2273069322_256540cee1_oWhile we oblate candidates may have attended this formation class to learn about humility as a concept, I believe as much learning came through experiencing humility. I am not speaking of humiliation (that is a difference concept), but humility as being in a place and time where God is the center of all activity, and our role is to serve Him by serving others. While we all have our gifts, experience, strengths, and knowledge, and thus our place in service, we also all have our needs, immaturity, weaknesses, and ignorance. Continue reading Humility – Cornerstone of the Rule – Oblate Formation

Blessing with Water

This prayer of blessing was used at our oblate formation class on humility. I could not find the source of this blessing to provide a proper citation, although it seems there are several forms of this prayer. I wanted to get this version online because I thought it would make a good ordination prayer. Each part of the body is touched as the blessing is given. In the case of my oblate course, we were touched with water.

May God bless you with integrity and seal you with the sanctifying Spirit.

Bless your Head so that all of your thoughts come forth from the well of God’s Being, filling you with grace and peace.

Bless your Eyes so that you may see God’s Presence and Providence in your life.

Bless your Ears that you might hear the cry of the poor all around you and the whisper of God’s Word.

Bless your Lips that you might freely and lovingly proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Bless your Hands to hold and to heal the many lives that are broken, that you may be free to bring hope to the hopeless.

Bless your Feet to walk in the ways of Jesus, to run and never grow weary, to stand up for justice unafraid.

Bless your Heart with forgiveness, with warmth and compassion and a genuine generosity toward all who are in need.

I place my hand on your shoulder to bless your Entire Being. May you be freed from all unforgiveness. May all the wounds of your life be transformed into compassion. May your life belong entirely to Jesus. May you be filled afresh with the Holy Spirit.

We send you as wounded healers to set others free.

We send you to model the transformed Christian life within your home, your family, your Church, your community.

We send you be become Jesus in the world.

What God Wants – all church formation on offerings and stewardship

What_God_WantsEvery Fall at Oakdale Wesleyan Church we have all-church spiritual formation. This is where everyone, children to adults, both on Sundays and through the week, learn together. In the past we have gone though SoulShift / Duckville and The Circle Maker. In 2015 we put together our own program for the first time. “What God Wants” is a study on offerings to teach stewardship. The sermon series can be found here. The material outline and lessons learned from putting together our own all-church formation is below. Continue reading What God Wants – all church formation on offerings and stewardship

The Heart of the Prologue – Oblate Formation

Benedictus_-_Regula,_Anno_domini_MCCCCLXXXXV_die_XXVII_otubrio_-_2472028_ib00310000_TMD_MASTER_IMG_Scan00011The homework we had in preparation for this class was to read the Prologue to The Rule of St. Benedict several times during the month. After we felt we had read it enough, we each were to pray, asking the Spirit to give us a word or phrase that would each bring to the session. Each person’s word or phrase would be used as part of our prayer that evening. I brought the verb live. Continue reading The Heart of the Prologue – Oblate Formation

To the Roots

Over at Common Denominator, Dr. Ken Schenck has been engaging in in some of the difficult theological questions in the Christian faith. In Pastoral counseling a graduate biology student . . . he addresses evolution, and in Can we “lose” our salvation? he addresses eternal security. What makes Dr. Schenck’s approach exceptional is that he addresses the root struggle of these theological issues. If one take a particular view of Genesis, literal rather than mythological, then we don’t have to wrestle with the more difficult Pauline theology of sin though Adam in Romans 5. If one takes a particular view of eternal security, once saved always saved, then we don’t have to wrestle with the more difficult issue of second repentance in Hebrews 6.

5537419706_cee09335e7_oThere is something to be said for not trolling for problems where there doesn’t need to be one, however, some of these views may not be so helpful when we move from theology in theory to theology in practice. Taking that step back to evaluate the more difficult issue, theological or practical, going to root issue, is one way we work out our salvation. I think that is where Dr. Schenck is going with his posts. For my take, I will start with the practical. Continue reading To the Roots