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Discipleship Blog

WSBC: "Life Together," Chapter 5

Tripp Gulledge

    Well, here we are in the last week of, Life Together, my how time flies. Uh-Oh, we have to talk about sin this week… so let’s jump in! Bonhoeffer has led us through several practical guides and philosophical explanations for the joy that is experienced in genuine Christian community, and he says that the confession of sins to one another is the final breakthrough. Bonhoeffer is of the opinion that sin bears such a weight on us that, no matter how authentic our time together is, how much we love one another, how devoted we are to scripture study, etc. we may still feel utterly alone under its weight. I think he’s on to something at the beginning of the chapter when he talks about this Pius fellowship mentality that we are prone to in churches; he says we often get taken aback when a, “real sinner,” is brought into our midst… as if what sin we already lived in was no big deal. If we were more honest with ourselves and one another, it’s likely that we as the Holy catholic church would be more welcoming to the average Jill who feels like her sin has pushed her too far away from God. And it’s likely that we would find ourselves more at home within Christian community when we realized others were struggling with the same things we were. But it doesn’t just stop with pointing out flaws, mistakes, and offenses toward God, there’s an absolutely essential forgiveness piece, as well, and it’s crucial to involve a brother or sister in this. Christ came so that all sin committed for all of time might be forgiven, and Bonhoeffer explains that your brothers or sisters in Christian community can stand in Christ’s stead in reminding you that your sins are forgiven in Jesus’ name. Methodism was built on the foundation of the small group; there were groups called classes and bands that shared each other’s struggles by confessing sin, praying for one another’s sins, and holding one another accountable at least weekly. Here is some more information on those things. If you uphold the seriousness of these sample questions, but update the language a little bit, you and your friends may find this very helpful. 

    Let’s talk about the two dangers of confession that Bonhoeffer names. He writes, “It is not good for one person in a Christian community to become the hearer for all others, for he will be overburdened. Thus, confession will be for him a mindless and empty routine” (P. 120). I think this danger speaks to everyone, even though not all faith traditions believe in one person hearing the sins of all. I think there is a danger in allowing the confession of sin to become a mindless routine. It is not helpful, by my understanding, to simply add general confessions of sin without giving thought to specific instances. Sin, as I understand it, refers to those offenses we make against God in which we allow selfishness, lust, idolatry, anger, or other passions besides Christ-like love to take over our hearts. If you disagree, feel free to drop something in the comments, but I think Bonhoeffer’s warning still stands to all. The second warning is given to the one who confesses. “For the salvation of his soul let him guard against ever making a pious work of his confession. if he does so, it will become the final, most abominable, vicious, impure prostitution of the heart” (P. 120). Yikes! All I really have to say about this is to echo the next thing Bonhoeffer writes, that the whole reason we are confessing our sin in the first place is because we are humbled by the grace of God, despite the fact that we are not worthy by our own merits.

    The topic of confession leads directly into Communion, based on the historic understanding of Holy Communion. In the United Methodist Church, we invite one another to Christ’s table with the following invitation. “Christ our Lord invites to his table all those who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin, and seek to live in peace with one another. Therefore, let us confess our sin before God and one another.” I think Bonhoeffer would echo this sentiment, based on his quote that says Christ commands us not to come to the altar without a clean and right heart. When I was younger, my dad used to explain it to children as a more serious version of washing your hands before dinner. Why do you wash your hands before dinner? So you don’t put something dirty into your body. Why do you confess your sin to God and before your brothers and sisters before Holy Communion? Because we must come to Christ’s table with a pure and humble heart. Communion continues with a congregation praying a prayer of confession together, and often times, the pastor presiding over Communion will offer a few moments for congregants to silently confess their sin. When this is finished, the presiding pastor declares, “Hear the good news, Christ died for us, while we were yet sinners. This proves God’s love toward us. In the name of Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven!” And the congregation responds, so as to remind the pastor that he or she is also made blameless before God. “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.” And all say together, “Glory to God! Amen!” I could go on with a word by word explanation of Communion because I love it so much… but I will spare you. I will leave you with a hot take from Tony Jeck and the lovely closing quote from our man, D.B. Tony offered to us in the gathering and scattering series that Holy Communion is the perfect representation of the rhythm of gathering for worship and scattering for mission. After gathering to receive Christ’s body and blood, we pray the following, “By your Spirit make us one with each other, one with Christ, and one in ministry to all the world until Christ comes again in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet.” It’s almost as if we pray, “until next time…” and then we have a sort of sending forth dimension to the whole thing. And so here’s the closing thought from Dietrich. “The fellowship of the Lord’s Supper is the superlative fulfillment of Christian fellowship. As the members of the congregation are united in Body and Blood at the table of the Lord, so will they be together in eternity. Here the community has reached its goal. Her. the joy of Christ in his community is complete. The life of Christians under the word has reached its perfection in the sacrament” (P. 122). Well if I said anymore after this, I think Paul would call me a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal… ;) See you guys next week with the first of Bo’s reflections on, Mere Christianity.


Stay woke out there,


WSBC: "Life Together," Chapters 3 & 4

Tripp Gulledge

    Hello again, my friends, we will tackle both chapters 3 and 4 this week, so here we go. Chapter 3 is used to contrast the rhythms of the day with others by presenting Bonhoeffer’s suggested model for individual discipleship practices that he believes will best compliment what experience the Christian has with the rest of the Christian community. Sometimes I find it hard to reflect on Bonhoeffer because I find myself just wanting to regurgitate the whole text… I think the opening paragraphs of the chapter do a great job of establishing the importance of both the day with others and the day alone. Its best summarized by this quote, “We recognize, then, that only as we are in the fellowship can be we alone, and only he that is alone can live in the fellowship. Only in the fellowship do we learn to be rightly alone, and only in aloneness do we learn to live rightly in the fellowship. (P. 78). In other words, what is the point of personal discipleship if you don’t let it be shaped by the practices and wisdom of those around you? What is the point of having those conversations if nobody has anything personal to share? How can your experience in a Christian community be healthy if you are too afraid to be alone with God?

    If you thought last chapter was fruitful in terms of discipleship practice tips, this one will knock you off your feet! Bonhoeffer outlines three times during the day when aloneness is critical: scripture meditation, prayer, and intercession. Here’s Bonhoeffer’s challenge concerning scripture meditation,: to read God’s word for YOU. Here’s a helpful quote, “In our meditation we ponder the text under the promise that it has something utterly personal to say to us this day and for our Christian life, that it is not only God’s word for the church, but also God’s word for us. Individually, we expose ourselves to the specific word until it addresses us personally, and when we do this, we are doing no more than the simplest untutored Christian does everyday. We read God’s word as God’s word for us, we do not ask what this text has to say to other people (P. 82).” Most of the readers of this blog are members of council or leadership, so you find yourself responsible for communicating the word in some way or another. Sometimes that means you fall into the trap of reading a passage of scripture and thinking, ‘how am I going to preach/teach on this? How would I explain this to a friend? How do I read x, y, z news story into this scripture…’ We have to remember that God’s word is always in some way personal to us. If we outback our coverage and start trying to find sermons in everything we read, we will suddenly find that we no longer have that personal relationship with and love for God’s word.

    We read that scripture meditation should lead directly to prayer, here is my favorite quote from that section. “Prayer means nothing else but the readiness and willingness to receive and appropriate the word, and, what is more, to accept it in one’s personal situation (P. 84).” I think this explanation calls us to adopt verses of scripture as our prayers during all circumstances. In times of great joy and abundance, we praise the Lord for his goodness. In times of trial and pain, we praise the Lord because we know he is faithful. Tony and I were chatting about the practice of lecctio divina, which is a multistep method for meditating on the word. One of those steps is called, “oratio,” and it refers to the step during which you write a prayer based on the verse of scripture that you have read. Personally, this is an element I would very much like to improve in my devotional time. I feel like it’s important for us to find methods of response that are expressive, and I think prayers can do that well.

    The last of these three times of meditation is the intercession, that is, the lifting up of our brothers and sisters in prayer. I had never thought about it this way, but Bonhoeffer suggests that intercession helps us to see our brother or sister as a fellow sinner, to picture them at the cross, and to then feel their pain and suffering as our own. Bonhoeffer’s humble approach led him to say on page 86 that we can no longer hate and condemn one another when we fully understand that we each have crosses to bear just like our neighbors do. I encourage you to intentionally add some time for intercession in your daily time with God and ask that he help you to be sincere in that time so that when you pray, “Lord, have mercy on my brother or sister,” you really mean it out of compassion for them.



    The rest of chapter 3 is really great, but let’s move on to chapter 4 for now. I said a few lines ago that most of you are very involved in the leadership here at Wesley, well chapter 4 is for you! There are four types of ministries outlined here, and they all fall under one theme. There is this general idea that the world tells us that everyone has a place, a place of authority or submission, a place of weakness or strength, a place of poverty or wealth. Bonhoeffer’s argument is that these positions, good or bad, aren’t supposed to impact the way that life happens together. When we minister to one another and to a community at large, we must move past the dynamics of power, because the ministries of listening, active helpfulness, bearing, and proclaiming, are for all people. I will pose one question per ministry and leave it to you guys in the comments to achieve world peace with your answers. :)


  1. “He who can no longer put up with listening to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God as well (P. 98).” In what ways is conversation helpful for discerning God’s will for a person or a community? How does God speak through people?
  2. Where do you believe is the balance between serving your brothers and sisters and idolizing the ministry of helpfulness?
  3. “It is only when he becomes a burden that he becomes a brother, and not merely an object too be manipulated (P. 100).” How do you see your brothers and sisters as burdens, without acting like you see them as burdens?
  4. “We are concerned with that unique situation in which one person bears witness to another person by speaking the whole consolation of God, the admonition, the kindness, and the severity of God (P. 104).” When we do our duty to proclaim the word of God to our brother or sister, we have a responsibility to include the admonition, kindness, and severity. Which one do we have the hardest time with?

I hope you enjoy the reading, and I hope you let the Spirit work this in you mind a little bit. Let me know what you think in the comments. Shoutout to Mr. Bo Sigrest for dropping a comment last week!

Choosing Christ, Choosing suffering

Auburn Wesley

Tonight's post comes from Dr. Jason Borders, our pilgrimage guide, ordained elder in the UMC, professor at Huntingdon College in Montgomery... and all around amazing guy! We're really grateful for his leadership in these days AND that he took the time to write this to help us begin to sum up some of what this experience is doing in us, collectively and personally.  Check it out... 

Who do we say Christ is? Who are we in Christ? These important questions have come up more than once by members of our group as we’ve journeyed this land together. And as we near the end of our pilgrimage, I wonder if our bodies are helping us answer these questions, particularly as they relate to suffering - the kind of suffering Christ is talking about when we’re called to pick up our cross and follow. Our hands and feet have been supporting us, moving us, sensing pain, and enduring fatigue - masked by the occasional shot of Turkish coffee! We chose to put our bodies through this pilgrimage. We chose to walk in the rocky river-bed trail of Zaki, below Bethsaida. We chose to hike the treacherous path along the arid, wilderness cliffs of Ein Gedi. We chose to traverse the steep terrain to touch the ancient stones of Montfort Fortress near Haifa. We chose the difficulties and possibilities this pilgrimage afforded us. And we did so, perhaps, not realizing how pilgrimage may be a first step in learning to choose suffering. 

In most circumstances, suffering is something we choose to avoid. We pray, often, that suffering not be in our future. Often, we claim that our ailments, frailties, and shortcomings are our “cross to bear.” But I’m not convinced that’s true. To suffer for Christ is not to optimistically endure the pains of life that we all experience - to keep a stiff upper lip and positively push forward, so to speak. Rather, to suffer for Christ is to choose to be part of the hardships of others. The kind of suffering Christ calls us to enter is much like the choice of pilgrimage. It is a choice to enter suffering that we do not deserve, and might not be ours otherwise, but choose to bear anyway. Discipleship is first and foremost the path of those who choose to enter the suffering of others (all others) and, in Christ’s name, take up the cross by bearing one another’s burdens.

 Today, on the Mount of Olives, over looking the City of Jerusalem 

Today, on the Mount of Olives, over looking the City of Jerusalem 

Our group may not have all the answers, but we are coming back with a resolve to be the church wherever that may take us - walking this land has taught us that. Rather than seek out places to find God, we are re-oriented around a God who finds us as we walk with others in the broken places. And in many ways, now, we have come alive to the fact that the would-be pilgrim should be careful. If you walk just far enough, you may just let your guard down long enough to be found by a God who was there all along, hand outstretched, saying “Follow me!”

Wonder + the Work

Auburn Wesley

Hey Y'all, Greetings from Jerusalem!  Today was our free day.  A chance to explore the city a bit.  Some of us got these AUmazing shirts with some Hebrew on them... as one does when in Jerusalem... 


I posted a bit of my (Tony's) experience over on my blog.  You can read HERE! 

Grace + Peace, 

Book Club Wk 2: The Day with Others

Tripp Gulledge

Boy oh Boy... Stephanie gave me access to edit the blog and I finally set it up... look out, inter webs! So here we are, week two of our study of, "Life Together." Chapter 2 is called, The Day with Others, and it gives a beautiful outline for rhythms of life that we can experience as a community. I think what I will do is share a couple of reflections I have about community life first, and then pose some questions for you.


First, we keep going to these Jewish historical sites, and I am reminded of something wise Tony once told me. When preparing for a study on Habakkuk, I asked him about the numerous laments of the prophets, and he had this to say. For the Jews, it's about the successes, failures, hurt, and healing of the people as a whole. When you speak to the Jew of the Old Testament, he or she hears you addressing all generations from Abraham to the current generation. When you speak to the 2018 Christian, he or she thinks only of themselves. I think of this because, at Masada, we learned that the Jews preferred to slaughter one another, rather than have themselves humiliated in slavery... Again! Today, many of the group went to Yad Vashem, which means memorial and name. This is the state of Israel's memorial to the victims of the holocaust and other anti-semitic events. I thought about the vast Hall of Names, where they emphasized the act of naming each victim who is known so far. I can't help but admire the way that the Jews value their community, and long for a community bond that looks out for each other in that way. Finally, we have talked a lot on this pilgrimage about group interpretation. In the 1st century synagogue, the rabbi would read the text and then sit down as everyone else talked about what it meant to them. Wow Christians.... what would that look like?


On to some questions and discipline/practice tips for your study.


1. Bonhoeffer believes that the only necessary things to tie a community together are Christ and the Word of God. What is the danger of adding MORE requirements for participating in a community? On the other hand, the United Methodist Church has a list of requirements for official church membership. They must have done this for some reason, right? Why?

2. If the Word is what unites the Christian community, then corporate study is critical. How do you engage God's word in a group setting regularly?

3. Bonhoeffer suggests the importance of rhythm over the next two chapters; I think commonality in practice is a critical way to help one another work through scripture/the world/stress. How would you like to adopt more common rhythms?

Note: I would direct you to Katie Kirk and the Book of Common Prayer for a daily liturgy startup.

4. Find a buddy to read psalms together. Bonhoeffer talks about how these present the heart of Jesus, who would be the only one who could understand the push and pull of God and man throughout the psalms. Consider taking turns reading the contrasting half verses, so that you can see how they interplay with one another. (Tip: Don't let the same person read the God parts all the time.)

5. Why do we worship together?


So I have confirmed that we have comment capability here... I would greatly appreciate if we had some conversation out of this. Let me know what you guys think down below. Feel free to drop your own questions, answer mine with tips for one another, or wreck my commentary. Until next week, stay woke!




David - The OG Hillsong

Auburn Wesley

Today's post comes to us from Tripp Gulledge.... 

Hello friends!
At about 6:40 this morning, Tony was talking about our blog post for tonight and I leapt at the opportunity to write it! On the schedule for today was a hike to Ein Gedi (Hebrew for spring of the young goat.) This was the place where King David hid from Saul and likely wrote many of the psalms. I couldn’t wait to be in the place where the OG Hillsong album dropped!! This was also the place where Jesus was led to be tempted by Satan (see Matt. 4).

 Our view of the Dead Sea from on Ein Gedi 

Our view of the Dead Sea from on Ein Gedi 

A bus ride fill of dadjokes later, and we were there. We began a treacherous hike up a narrow cliff face and stopped to look at the gorgeous Dead Sea and the ruins of an old temple along the way. About halfway up to what is known as, “The Lovers’ Cave,” a park ranger informed us that we could go no further because of the threat of rain in Jerusalem, which would flood the trails.

 Tripp on Ein Gedi! 

Tripp on Ein Gedi! 

[Update: if it rains at all on our trip, Dr. Borders is buying us all lunch!]

We were a bit disappointed to turn around, but once again reminded of the theme of our adventures, “It’s About Orientation, not Destination.” We stopped on our way back down to read the story of Jesus’ temptation and discuss what it held for us.

 We met some nice people from Minnesota and they took our picture! 

We met some nice people from Minnesota and they took our picture! 

After finishing our trek at Ein Gedi, we drove to Masada, an important site in Jewish history. It was here that hundreds of Jews were trapped by the Romans on a mountain, and chose to kill their families and themselves, rather than submit to slavery. As far as historical sites go, I found this to be the most gripping. It was powerful to see how the Jews fought for their honor in that way.

After exploring Masada, we took a very quick trip to Qumran, the home of a small Jewish sect, and best known as the place where the Dead sea scrolls were found. We didn’t spend a ton of time here because we were determined to gloat in salt!

[Fun Fact: the Dead Sea is 33% salt! (Your friendly neighborhood Atlantic Ocean is only about 3% salt.]
[Not Fun Fact: that water will wreck your eyes!]

After our float, we came back to the hotel and had dinner together. We concluded the day with a worship jam with our new friends from Western Carolina Wesley Foundation... we taught them our benediction!!! Look out for a big post tomorrow, as we find out how various team members spent their free days!

 Auburn + Western Caroline Wesley Foundations UNITE for worship! 

Auburn + Western Caroline Wesley Foundations UNITE for worship! 

Shalom for now friends.

Destination vs. Orientation

Auburn Wesley

Today's post comes from Anna Grace Glaize!  Shalom!! 

We're in Jerusalem!!! My little introvert head is overwhelmed by all the people and things, but my heart is so full. Our group's the best, and I love it. The pun game is strong. 

Here's an update on what we've done so far--Today we did the Herodion, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and the Israel Museum. Yesterday we did a hike to Montford Fortress and stopped by Caesarea Maritima on the way from Galilee to Jerusalem.

Messy Thinky Things--There have been a couple of themes that keep coming up during this trip. One of the things we keep coming back to is the problem with viewing the end goal of discipleship as destination instead of orientation. Lots of times we think of discipleship as a trek to somewhere as opposed to looking at it as a reorienting toward God no matter where we are. That distinction has been especially important for us as we go to all these sites, some of which are physically demanding. Though we've talked about it a lot, I'm just now beginning to realize how much the whole destination mindset has impacted me.

I think I finally started to see the difference just after the Montford hike. During the hike, there was a moment when it became clear that not everyone who wanted to would make it to the fortress at the top. It wasn't anyone's fault. We were short on time, the drive was longer than we thought, etc. Some of the folks behind me on the hike just wouldn't have enough time to go all the way to the fortress.

Still, it felt wrong.

We're in this thing together, and going some place where a few of our fellow pilgrims couldn't go upset me. Like I said, it was nobody's fault, but I was angry at the situation. It wasn't until a few hours later on the bus that it fully sunk in that the point of what we were doing wasn't to get to the top. The point was the doing. We all had a chance to walk with each other in a pretty place. We all had the chance to experience the journey. Those of us who got to the fortress had fun, but so did the folks who got an extra 30 minutes to sit at a picnic table and talk. There was no destination, per se.

It was about doing the thing together, even if the doing part looked different for each of us. The goal wasn't the destination, but the reorienting of ourselves to one another and the experience.

Later on the bus we talked about how the same was true with God. There's no special place we have to get to as disciples. God is with us, and all we have to do is position ourselves toward him. 

Part of why this is on my mind so much is because it seemed so trivial initially. I mean, we all got told in middle school that it's all about the journey and not the destination. Still, though, sometimes the world sends a different message. It kind of seems like to be worthwhile you have to be the best at something.

I think a small part of me believes that if I'm not the best I suck, and--just to be clear--I'm really not the best at anything. I'm starting to realize that's the destination part of my mind at work. What a graceless way to view the world. Thankfully we don't have to depend on our messed-up selves to get us to God.

Instead, we have a God who finds us.

Hallelujah for that.

From Galilee to Jerusalem

Auburn Wesley

Today we moved from Galilee to Jerusalem.  But along the way we made a few stops.  First at Montfort Fortress - an old crusader castle.  It was a pretty amazing hike up and down... and then down and back up again.  But the view from the top and the breeze that was blowing through the ruins... AMAZING!  

 Montfort Fortress - our view from where we BEGAN our journey... 

Montfort Fortress - our view from where we BEGAN our journey... 

 From the top!! 

From the top!! 

Then we headed down the coast toward Caesarea, stopping to put our feet in the Mediterranean and look at an aqueduct that was used to move fresh water some 60 miles down the cost from the mountains to the amazingly posh first century city of Caesarea.  

 Miles of aqueduct remains on the coast

Miles of aqueduct remains on the coast

 Tony, Tripp, Frank - and the rest of the group enjoying a 15 min. play time on the Mediterranean Sea!! 

Tony, Tripp, Frank - and the rest of the group enjoying a 15 min. play time on the Mediterranean Sea!! 

Then our last stop before moving onto Israel was the city of Caesarea, itself.  Herod the Great built his castle here, Pontius Pilate lived here, Peter came to Cornelius (in Acts 10) here, it's also where Paul stands trial before another Roman Governor, Felix (Acts 23-24).  You can tell it was majestic and full of every 1st century amenity life could offer.  

 Here's what's left of Herod's palace on the sea in Caesarea... beautiful view!

Here's what's left of Herod's palace on the sea in Caesarea... beautiful view!

 The palace extended down onto the sea.  Pretty sweet set up!  

The palace extended down onto the sea.  Pretty sweet set up!  

 Before you reach the palace, off to the left is this theater... it's been renovated and is still used as a concert venue! 

Before you reach the palace, off to the left is this theater... it's been renovated and is still used as a concert venue! 

 Just before the palace, to the right, is this arena where chariots could race and other sport could be had.  

Just before the palace, to the right, is this arena where chariots could race and other sport could be had.  

Finally, we made it into Jerusalem just as final preparations for keeping the Sabbath were being made.  We had a great dinner and group conversation.  Now it's time for rest.  Tomorrow is a new day!  

Shabbot Shalom! 

"Who Do You Say I Am?"

Auburn Wesley

Today's post comes from Anna Grace Glaize! 

 On the Sea of Galilee! 

On the Sea of Galilee! 

Whew, have we done a lot! Today is day four in the country, but it feels like we just got here. The days have flown by. Tomorrow's our last full day in the Galilee area, and I'm trying not to get sad. I'm hype for Jerusalem, but who knows when I'll get to wake up to a gorgeous view of the Sea of Galilee again. Here's a quick recap of what we've done so far (feel free to skip this part): Bet She'an, Beit Alpha, the Church of the Annunication in Nazareth, the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaeum, boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, the Ginosar Boat, and Bethsaida. Today we did Tel Hazor, Tel Dan, Caesarea Philippi, Nimrod's Fortress, and the Golan Heights. 

    If you got overwhelmed reading all that, you have some sense of why time is passing so quickly! I'm having an amazing time and am constantly impressed by the level of depth in our conversations. Today we spent a lot of time on what Jesus says to Peter at Caesarea Philippi. He asks him, "Who do you say that I am?" We've been asking ourselves the same sorts of questions.

    Being in Israel has really helped us wrestle with all this. We're learning about how Jesus' world shaped him, and, in doing so, questioning how our world has shaped us. Of course, being influenced by our cultural contexts is inevitable. Yet, as Dr. Borders pointed out, being a good disciple means being willing to let God change and shape our worldview. That process can be kind of scary. Letting it happen requires trust. But each time it happens we get a little bit closer to becoming who we were intended to be. We get a little more human. We get a little more Christlike. 

Good things are happening in the hearts of our pilgrims! We may end each day tired, and a few of us are growing weary of shawarma, but we're all having fun and learning a lot. There's a whole lot of joy in this group. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. You'll hear more from us soon!

Shalom, ya'll!

 At "Abraham's Gate" at Tel Dan 

At "Abraham's Gate" at Tel Dan 

Israel Pilgrimage

Auburn Wesley

Over the next couple weeks we'll be sharing stories, questions, ideas, experiences we're having while on our pilgrimage to Israel.  We begin with this post that our Associate Director Tony Jeck wrote on his own blog.  CLICK HERE! 

Tomorrow we'll have a student or two to share some of their experience.  Thank you for your prayers and support.  We are very aware of God's presence and provision for us in this place!  

Grace + Peace

Following Jesus Through Holy Week - Tuesday

Auburn Wesley

Today, as we continue with Jesus, we see him go toe-to-toe with the religious elite.  Tripp Gulledge and friends have put together a way for you to hear the Scripture of Holy Tuesday from Mark's gospel... along with a guided reflection/prayer time. 

We hope this can be a part of the way you journey with Jesus to the cross! 

Grace + Peace, 

Following Jesus Through Holy Week - Monday

Auburn Wesley

Yesterday was Palm Sunday.  We watched Jesus as he entered the city of Jerusalem and immediately stirs things up!  He's on a collision course w/ the powers that be... religious and Roman, alike!  

For the next 3 days we're going to keep following Jesus through Mark's gospel, watching and listening to him as he moves toward the cross.  Here's a bit of a reflection our discipleship team created to help us to do just that.  It is set up in the ARM office at Wesley, along with a prayer response, if you are able to come by and read and reflect and pray with it.  

If not, we hope you'll take a few moments to consider the following, where ever you are! 

Scripture: Mark 11: 12-21

“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.  On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’[a]? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’[b]” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. When evening came, Jesus and his disciples[c] went out of the city. In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

Reflection - 

The fig tree in leaf was a sign of the life and vitality of Jewish temple life… which isn’t just about a place where worship happens.  The temple then was like an interesting mash up of going to church and going to the chamber of commerce at city hall.  It was at once the religious AND economic center of the people’s life.  And this is fine.  Jesus isn’t judging that. 

He’s judging the kind of religious and economic life that’s happening here.

The chief priest and scribes and many of the other authorities at the temple are making very good livings by what they charge for the ordinary economic life of the temple - what it costs to purchase the necessary things to offer sacrifice.  In addition Rome’s presence is here in the temple (as the center of economic life) and they charge a sizeable tax on the people.  And if that weren’t enough, on top of that King Herod (who was a puppet of Rome) added extra tax to the one Rome demanded, by which Herod grew his own personal wealth.  All of this fell squarely on the backs of the people - many of whom lived in or on the edge of poverty their whole life. 

Can you see why Jesus would be so enraged by what he sees when he walks into the temple.  Why he would say, “This is supposed to be a house of prayer for ALL people (most especially those who are poor and in need) and you’ve made it into a den of robbers!” (a place where the rich are ripping off the poor and doing it in the name of faithfulness to God... and in collusion with Rome).

Questions to Ponder

If Jesus were to show up in the temple of your own life, what would he be driving out? What would he be declaring as lifeless injustice? What would he name as not producing good fruit?

What are ways that you LONG for new and good fruit to spring up in your life?  What is a prayer you would want to pray about that?  

Who are the people, where are the places where you feel drawn to special care and concern for those in need? How can you begin to join Jesus there?


Summer Missions: Katie Rhodes

Wesley Worship

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This May was the third year in a row I have been to Tanzania. The place has a chunk of my heart. While in Tanzania we created an English lesson plan and taught it to the street youth to improve their conversational English skills. This allowed us to get to know each youth. We learned their background, their personalities, and their smiles.

I am not someone who is good with goodbyes; they’re heartbreaking. I easily get attached to people. But I’ve learned both with growing up as a preacher’s kid moving around and with traveling, you have to make the most of every opportunity, leaving your heart on the line every time. If you hold back for fear of goodbyes, it hurts yourself, the people, and God’s work.

Being in Tanzania poses a lot of opportunities for fear and therefore many opportunities to trust and depend on God. My faith was stretched to trust God and leave the comfort zone behind. I felt God push me to put myself out there, speak up, interact with people, and go for it when everything screamed hold back. Who are you helping when you hide? Not even yourself. We invested everything we had into the youth we were teaching. Because of that, we were able to connect on a deeper level with them.  

As Megan said Sunday, it’s harder to incorporate the lessons from a mission trip when you get back to an American way of life. It’s harder when you’re not faced with tangible fears daily, not being shocked by stark poverty daily, and not in that mission trip mindset. Things do not look as clear. But God calls us to treat every day as a “mission trip”. He calls us to die to ourselves and to love others. God want to use us to touch the lives of those around us. So like in Tanzania, I have to learn to leave my comfort zone behind, put my heart out on the line for those around me in my own culture, and trust in God with my fears. 

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Summer Missions: Wil Sanders

Wesley Worship


I worked with Alabama Rural Ministry this summer helping run their summer missions camps. For seven weeks this summer, we had assorted youth groups coming to either Tuskegee, AL or Livingston, AL to spend a week doing home repair and helping to run the day camp for local, at risk children. I was one of the day camp counselors for the Livingston site. My experience with ARM wasn’t at all what I expected it to be. Honestly in almost every way it was different from what I thought I was signing up for when I put in my application. And while there were definitely struggles we faced from the very first day till the very last, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything because of the awesome youth I was able to meet and try to help grow throughout the Summer. Whether it was just talking to them to get to know them better, playing basketball with them in the gym of the day camp, or telling high school seniors how great Auburn University is, they made my summer amazing and I couldn’t have made it without all of them.


Summer Missions: Crystal Boutwell

Wesley Worship


I spent my summer on a little island in Savannah, Georgia interning with the youth group of Isle of Hope United Methodist Church. Those two months were both the most mentally and physically exhausting yet spiritually rewarding months of my life. On paper, my job meant planning and executing the big trips of the summer, leading Sunday school and youth group, along with the day-to-day operations of a youth ministry like writing notes to or getting lunch with kids. In reality, my job meant jamming to Disney music, eating Chic Fil A every other day, and getting kicked out of malls.

The youth director that I worked with gave his interns the opportunity to let our voices be heard in all the decisions of youth this summer and I appreciate that because it allowed me to see the background music that makes up youth ministry. This summer shaped me and my vision of the church in so many ways. Spending that much time with teenagers made me fearless in not only words but in faith. The biggest thing I took away from this summer is that although in the adult church we love for things to be clean and presentable—especially our sanctuaries and fellowship halls—but teenagers (and let’s be honest most adults) aren’t clean and presentable—especially those we are called to minister to. If we are to be a church with open doors and hearts, we can’t be afraid to get messy and allow messy people into our lives and buildings.


Summer Missions: Grant Keith

Wesley Worship


This past summer I had the opportunity to go to Neuenburg, Germany to work alongside the Neuenburg International Church and the Neuenburg Atomics. This summer offered many great experiences along with challenges. Mission work in Germany is unlike many other countries. They aren’t in material need, but their spiritual need is great.

                  The hardest part of this summer was not seeing tangible results. Germany doesn’t offer the results like working in a third world country does. You hope that by the way you live your life and the way you reflect Christ makes the guys you are around see a difference and question what it is that gives you that difference. There aren’t wells needing to be built to give clean water. There aren’t house that need to be built to give shelter. There are churches that need bodies, and bodies that need church. Seeds were planted this summer and hopefully continue to grow long after the time I spent there thanks to the few Christians that are there to continue that growth in those guys lives. 

                  A few of the highest moments of this summer was winning the league that the Atomics were a part of. The team had their best season in the history of the club, winning 23 games and only losing 1. A long with the winning the title, we were also just an hour away from the Swiss Alps. This offered the opportunity to go and climb in these mountains and experience just the awe of creation. Standing high above the ground, facing a fear of heights, and just being in complete speechlessness is a feeling I won’t soon forget.

                  This experience offered a chance to be in a culture completely different from the deep South. The growth and development that I was able to have was amazing.  It offered the chance to grow into my faith and establish what I truly believed. Not being surrounded by believers is something that will push you and motivate you to become stronger in your faith and I’m thankful for every minute spent in Neuenburg this summer.

                  In Christ,

             Grant Keith 


Summer Missions: Jack Carr

Wesley Worship

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I spent this past summer serving on the Summer Leadership Team at Warren W. Willis United Methodist Camp in Leesburg, Florida, near Orlando. It's an overnight camp where kids between 4th and 12th grade come for a week to put down their cell phones and all the distractions in their life and grow closer to Christ, and have a lot of fun doing it. The campers are able to do all sorts of activities, such as ultimate frisbee, canoeing, tubing, rock climbing, zip lining, and more, in addition to worship and small groups. Throughout the summer I also led a workshop for the middle school age level that discussed academics and the ways in which students can keep their faith centered in the midst of school and all the stress that comes with it. By far the best part of the whole experience was the interactions I had with campers as I got to know them throughout each week. Some campers have been coming for years, and were super excited from day one to come back to a place where they saw God so clearly. For others, this year was their first time and they didn't know what to expect and may have been nervous or missing home. I started to enjoy watching the first year campers as they grew more comfortable around others and came out of their shell as the week went on. I had been a counselor last year as well so it was really great being able to check in with the campers I had met last year and see how they've been. It's been such a privilege to be able to be a part of so many campers' walks with Christ and live life with them.

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Summer Missions: Anne Louise Pass

Wesley Worship


This summer, I fulfilled a six year long dream of going to Rwanda on a mission trip. My dad has been there 4 times, I have heard about countless trips there, and I have a sponsor sister living in Kigali who I have gotten to know through facebook for the last five years. On this specific trip, we worked with a sponsorship ministry called Imana Kids which has helped create lives for about 80 kids who had been victimized in an unregistered orphanage until about four years ago. It was one of the coolest mission experiences I've been a part of because my trip leaders were the couple that started the ministry and shut down the orphanage to begin with. They were basically parents to these kids and were invested in them wholeheartedly, not just in providing for their physical needs but in helping them go to college and get jobs. The most amazing part of the trip was the second day because it was such a testament to the love they have for their kids (and vise versa) and the redemption that has occured in these kids' lives. We got to attend the wedding of the oldest of their boy. All the kids came, and it was one of the most celebratory and worshipful events I have experienced. I felt so honored to be a part of it, and it taught me a lot about the importance of worshiping and praising God.


Summer Missions: Sarah Grace Kirkendall

Wesley Worship

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This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to live and serve at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks. Basically the way ACMNP works is that you apply through them for your top three choices of parks (sometimes you get your top choice, sometimes you don’t even get one of your choices), then, once accepted, you apply for one of the concessionaires.

I was on a team of ten where I helped lead worship services on Sundays for visitors in some of the greatest scenery in the United States. Growing together with my teammates, especially on off days where we got to explore the park together and be in nature was definitely one of the best parts of summer. My favorite moment of the summer was spent with three of my teammates hiking in the southeast corner of the park, seeing a wolf, overlooking the Yellowstone Caldera, and eating way too much ice cream. Obviously constantly being around the same 30 or so people everyday has some challenges and conflicts arise. But, overall, the people I spent the summer with were overwhelmingly supportive and loving and kind.

I have never been one for public speaking, but this summer I was required to give two of the messages. I spent the entire week before my first Sunday stressing out, but as soon as I stood in front of the twenty or so people gathered on the Old Faithful Inn Mezzanine, I felt a rush of calm. I’m still not set in stone on where my life is headed career wise, but that moment of calm where I anticipated stress made me feel as though this was a step in the right direction.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in doing with your summer and have questions, let me know!

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Summer Missions: Paige Pinniger

Wesley Worship

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Camp is an incredibly unique atmosphere and Pine Cove is a place that I will forever hold a special place in my heart because of the work the Lord did this summer in me and in my campers. From hopping off a plane in Texas into a car full of strangers to meeting a new group of kids each week, the Lord proclaimed his faithfulness and taught me to rely fully on Him.

My favorite day of camp was the last day. After morning bible study, Abigail and Adilyn asked if I could tell them more about Jesus and how to accept Him. We sat outside of our next activity class and I shared the Gospel with them and talked to them about my best friend and what it meant to be adopted into Christ’s family. With the biggest smiles on their faces, Abigail and Adilyn accepted Jesus and began their journey in Christ’s family. While this moment was so special, the rest of the day reminded me of God’s transformative power. These girls were best friends, but they were both shy, reserved, and spoke to only to one another or myself; however, after accepting Christ, I saw their lives transformed. They began befriending other campers in our cabin, volunteering to pray, and bursting with joy over their newfound savior. I excitedly introduced all the other counselors and staffers at camp to my newest sisters in Christ because I witnessed the Lord change their life and experienced again the joy of the Lord. I pray daily that the Lord would remind me over and over of His transformative power and remind me to greet others with the joy of the Lord welcoming others into His family constantly.

Camp is incredible, and the Lord works where we allow Him to. I witnessed the work of the Lord in my own life, in the lives of my campers, in the life of my family, and in the life of the new community of freshmen here in Auburn through the Oaks Retreat. The Lord is moving and active and He is a God of transformation, we just need to be willing to say “yes” and follow Him in obedience.  We don’t need camp or retreats, we simply need to allow the Lord to transform our hearts daily and we will watch Him work in and through our lives. 

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