Sunday, April 17, 2011

Announcement from CUMC Memphis Website

Bishop Dick Wills of the Memphis Annual Conference announces the appointment of Rev. Shane Stanford as the next Senior Pastor of Christ United Methodist Church. Rev. Stanford currently serves as Senior Pastor of Gulf Breeze United Methodist Church in Gulf Breeze, FL, one of the largest UMC congregations in the United States with an average weekly worship attendance of more than 2,400.

“The Search Committee is delighted that Rev. Shane Stanford will be the sixth pastor in the 56 year history of Christ Church,” said Kirk Bailey, chairman of the Search Committee. “Shane is a gifted preacher/teacher, with a warm, engaging personality and a unique life story to share that will be an asset in the outreach ministries of Christ Church.”

Dr. Maxie Dunnam shares Bailey’s excitement about this appointment. “Shane Stanford is an amazingly gifted person. He is a powerful preacher and a convincing writer,” said Maxie. “Knowing the significant place of Christ Church in United Methodism and in our city, I am delighted to have a leader of this quality assume the position as Senior Minister. Our congregation and the entire city will be well served by his leadership.”

Rev. Stanford has served as Host of The United Methodist Hour, a television and radio ministry viewed in more than 30,000,000 homes weekly. He continues to host a radio blog titled LifeMatters, available nationwide.

He is also the author of nine books including bestsellers, The CURE for the Chronic Life (co-authored with Deanna Favre and which held as the #1 Pastoral Care book in the country for seven weeks), The Seven NEXT Words of Christ and You Can’t Do Everything…So Do Something. He has published numerous articles in journals and magazines including The Upper Room, CNN Today and Christianity Today.

Rev. Stanford travels extensively sharing his testimony and witness as an HIV+ Christian Minister who contracted the disease through a blood transfusion used to treat his Hemophilia. He has spoken in 36 states including an engagement as the keynote speaker for the 2006 Saddleback Global AIDS Summit, alongside other notables as Franklin Graham, John Ortberg and then-Senator Barack Obama.

Rev. Stanford has appeared as an expert and contributor on spirituality, family health and issues related to HIV on numerous media outlets including Good Morning America, Fox and Friends, LifeToday and The Hour of Power.

“I have been aware of the wonderful work and impact of Christ UMC Memphis for most of my ministry,” said Rev. Stanford. “To have the opportunity of working with such gifted, creative and passionate servants of Christ is a true honor. As the writer of Hebrews states, I look forward to being a part of this ‘great cloud of witnesses’ as we work together to Love Jesus…and Love Like Jesus in our community and beyond.”

Rev. Stanford is married to Dr. Pokey Stanford, an Associate Professor of Education at the University of Southern Mississippi, and they are the parents of three daughters, Sarai Grace (14), Juli Anna (11) and Emma Leigh (7).

To learn more about Rev. Stanford, he invites you to visit his website at or his blog, For those on Facebook, Rev. Stanford invites you to become a friend of Shane Stanford or follow him on twitter,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

“The Blooming of Spring”

Last week was Holy Week… It was The Masters Golf Tournament! Okay, maybe not the “holy week” you were thinking about! But, to golfers, there is nothing quite like the annual invitational at Augusta National.

I had the privilege of attending a practice round of The Masters several years ago. From the moment I walked through the gates, I was overwhelmed by the aura of the place. Many times what we see or expect does not hold up in reality. That was not the case at Augusta. In fact, reality was even more beautiful.

The course is awash in spring. The blooming of azaleas and a host of other foliage that makes the property a wonderland of nature. And, to top it off, the best golfers in the world gather to compete in arguably the most important tournament in golf.

Again, if you play golf, The Masters is more than just a week of golf or even a tournament. It is an experience.

Okay, Okay… so it is still JUST a golf tournament. And, it is certainly NOT the Holy Week we all know, expect and love. No, that week begins Sunday.

As the Palm Branches begin to wave, we usher in the expectation of a new “blooming of spring”, and another powerful expression of life—we prepare ourselves for Easter—the true “wonderland” of God’s grace, forgiveness and new beginnings.

That Holy Week is more than any human event or endeavor could design. The God of the Universe decided to reach down into our broken lives and journeys and do something about them. He gave His only Son.

Oh… and all of Nature rejoices… as even the rocks, trees and flowers cry out that Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed!

This true HOLY WEEK marks an exciting and meaningful time in the life of our church. We will begin with Services of Healing on Wednesday at both the Fairpoint (6pm) and Soundside (7:30pm) campuses.

Also, on Wednesday, the “Journey to the Cross” begins as you are invited to view the Stations of the Cross and experience the final steps of Jesus in a remarkable and personal way. You can attend the Stations from 9am to 4pm Wednesday through Friday.

On Thursday, from 2pm to 8pm, we will experience the power of the Upper Room in a very new, exciting way, as families and individuals will sit at the seat of a disciple and share Holy Communion as the first disciples would have experienced. This “come and go” gathering will take place in 15 minute shifts.

On Saturday, the Church gathers for our annual Easter Egg Hunt at 10am at Shoreline Park. Families and neighbors are invited to share with hundreds of our church family in a day of fellowship, food and fun.

Finally, we approach the empty tomb with our Second Annual Sunrise Service at Flounders, hosted by the folks at our Worship at the Water Campus. Join us at 6am as we see the sunrise and the SONrise.

Yes, it will be a wonderful week. It will be a memorable week. It will be a powerful week. It will be a HOLY Week.

The blooming of spring is wonderful. The blooming of a heart redeemed… priceless.

Be salt and light, my friends… You Matter.


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Gulf Breeze UMC
Senior Pastor Note—February 3, 2011

The Life Lived Well--

What is the life lived well?

Several years ago, I read William Bennett's book, "The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories". It was a wonderful read that unveiled a set of commonly held principles for how civilized societies both approach and make decisions in regards to important issues.

Many of Mr. Bennett's "virtues" come from the Judeo-Christian framework, and he is not afraid to link his moral conversation with faith.

Recently, I read the book again. True to form, I was captured by the stories of moral challenge and courage. To think if we could-- if we would-- aspire to these principles.

In particular, five virtues from Mr. Bennett’s book stood out as critical to the life lived well. Each virtue unveiled itself through stories of hope and perseverance, and served as a "destination" for our moral discourse—the intersection for both how and why we arrive where we are in life.

These five principles are tools by which we find our voice, the song we are to sing, and the melody that makes it all so sweet.

The virtues for a life lived well are:

1. Honor

Honor is how we act when relaying our beliefs. Jesus said that they will know you are mine by "how you love one another". Our actions bear on the outside what we believe on the inside.

Thomas Carlyle says Show me the man you honor and I will know what kind of man you are.

Focus Scripture: Deuteronomy 26: 16-19

2. Purity

The dictionary connects 'purity' with 'freedom'. In fact, purity is "freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, or leads to inappropriate elements in our lives". Purity is not the absence of particular vices, but, rather, the presence of something deeper and richer—the freedom to “become” all that God intends.

Focus Scripture: Proverbs 27: 21

3. Loyalty

I love the story of Babe Ruth and the later days of his career. For so many years, his bat had the power of a cannon, and his record of 714 home runs remained unbroken until Hank Aaron came along. The Babe was the idol of sports fans, but in time age took its toll, and his popularity began to wane. Finally the Yankees traded him to the Braves. In one of his last games in Cincinnati, Babe Ruth began to falter. He struck out and made several misplays that allowed the Reds to score five runs in one inning. As the Babe walked toward the dugout, chin down and dejected, there rose from the stands an enormous storm of boos and catcalls. Some fans actually shook their fists. Then a wonderful thing happened. A little boy jumped over the railing, and with tears streaming down his cheeks he ran out to the great athlete. Unashamedly, he flung his arms around the Babe's legs and held on tightly. Babe Ruth scooped him up, hugged him, and set him down again. Patting him gently on the head, he took his hand and the two of them walked off the field together.

We are as good a friend as the distance we travel when the going gets tough—Unknown.

Focus Scripture: Proverbs 3: 3-6

4. Integrity

James Patterson and Peter Kim, in The Day America Told the Truth, asked “What are you willing to do for $10,000,000?” In a shocking report, the authors revealed that 2/3 of Americans polled would agree to at least one, some to several of the following answers:

Would abandon their entire family (25%)
Would abandon their church (25%)
Would become prostitutes for a week or more (23%)
Would give up their American citizenships (16%)
Would leave their spouses (16%)
Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free (10%)
Would kill a stranger (7%)
Would put their children up for adoption (3%)

Scripture Focus: 1 Timothy 4: 11-14

5. Gratitude

More than just “thank you” and a letter of appreciation, gratitude is the barometer of what we truly value in life. Nothing highlights what we consider most important than what we take the time to treasure and recognize.

Scripture Focus: Luke 17: 16-17

Scientists now say that a series of slits, not a giant gash, sank the Titanic. The opulent, 900-foot cruise ship sank in 1912 on its first voyage, from England to New York. Fifteen hundred people died in the worst maritime disaster of the time.

The most widely held theory was that the ship hit an iceberg, which opened a huge gash in the side of the liner. But an international team of divers and scientists recently used sound waves to probe the wreckage, buried in the mud under two-and-a-half miles of water. Their discovery? The damage was surprisingly small. Instead of the huge gash, they found six relatively narrow slits across the six watertight holds.

Small damage, invisible to most, can sink not only a great ship but also a great reputation.

The materials with which we build our lives matter. They demonstrate our commitment to a life that makes the most of every moment, and seizes, not just the day, but also the reason for living it.

My prayer for all of us is that we examine the markers for our journey, and reflect on those ways we might right our paths, celebrate the distance traveled so far, and look beyond the horizon to the promises where we have yet to arrive.

Be Salt and Light… You Matter!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

The ME I Need to BE, Part IV: REACHing our Potential

We are wired to "win" the race. (Hebrews 12: 1-2) In fact, God has called us to be a part of His family, to know our value and to live as heirs to the Kingdom. But, many of us spend our lives "working for the world", held prisoner by our mistakes, miscues and mess-ups. We "work for the world" instead of sharing in the bounty of grace and hope.

What must we do to REACH our potential in Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews suggests three principles:

1. We must REACH Up. Our relationship to God serves as the foundation for how we connect in Christ and become all that God intends for us.

2. We must REACH Out. Our relationships with each other serve as the window for how our faith n God is viewed. The Bible is clear-- how we treat one another is what we really see God.

3. We must REACH Down. Our relationship in serving the "least of these" provides a backdrop for how our faith "hits the ground" and makes real differences in real people's lives.

So, what about you? Are you ready to become all that God has in store? You are created to win the race. On your mark, get ready... GO!

For more info, check out the web-view of this sermon at

Be Salt and Light... You Matter.

Matthew 5: 13-16

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The ME I Need to BE, Part III
Resources-- BEcoming more Capable

If we are to learn to become more capable in becoming the ME I Need to Be, we must remember three principles:

I. We can't do EVERYthing.

II. We Should do SOMEthing.

III. And, when everyone is doing their SOMEthing, ANYthing is possible.

The Bible says that everyone has been given a spiritual gift that is to be used in accomplishing significant things for the Kingdom.

If you would like to know more about this topic, check out my book "You Can't Do Everything... So Do Something" (Abingdon 2010).

Love you all.

Be Salt and Light... You Matter.


Sunday, January 02, 2011

The ME I Need to BE, Part I
Scripture: Philippians 3: 13-14

What are your New Year's Resolutions? Why have you made them? Are they the same as the years before? Are they a reaction to what is wrong in your life, or a response of what you want to be right?

These are the questions we ponder when deciding that new beginning is necessary. These are the questions for a New Year!

In this series, we look not just at our resolutions for a new year, but also how God intends for our lives to look and work in the first place. We seek to Be the Me that God has intended all along.

But, first, we must learn to BE more committed to God's Word, God's Plan and God's Purpose in our lives.

The Scriptures are clear that "new beginnings" are part of God's work in our lives. He treasures the times when we decide to begin again and create something significant in His name.

Three principles stand out in Scripture when considering "Healthy Biblical Resolutions"--

1. Resolutions should Transform Us not Merely Change Us.

2. Resolutions should Reflect What We Should Be Not Only React to What We Shouldn't Be.

3. Resolutions should Build A Foundation for More Good Not Simply Set a Goal for A Principle Odds are We Can't Meet.

So, again, what are you resolutions for this new year? Have you set them out of habit or because God is calling for something new in your journey? And, are they preparing you for success according to the world's standards, or real significance according to God's?

Blessings in the New Year.

Be Salt and Light, my friends... You Matter!

Matthew 5: 13-16

Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Start...

It is time to put 2010 to bed. What a year! It has been filled with its share of ups and downs, goods and bads. But, in the end, I wouldn't trade it for anything. During this year, I learned a great deal about humility, grace, patience, prayer, forgiveness, and love. I was also reminded of what really matters, and of those things that we take too seriously but shouldn't. 2010 was a learning year... and I can't wait to see how the lessons we share "hit the ground in 2011". God has so many wonderful things in store for us!

We begin a new sermon series this Sunday entitled, "The Me I Need to Be for 2011". The next four weeks are:

2nd: Resolutions—BEcoming more committed
9th: Relationships—BEcoming more connected
16th: Resources—BEcoming more capable
23rd: Reach—BEcoming more compassionate

Remember, Fairpoint Campus-- 8am, 9:30am or 11:00am. And, of course, we also have excellent worship and teaching at our Soundside campus -- 8am, 9:00am and 10:30am. Our Worship at the Water worship campus will not return for several weeks.

Also, on another note, I make the following commitment to you-- I will update this blog on a regular basis. Like last year, I want us to make this journey together. So, I look forward to meeting you here each week, to share what God is doing and, especially, to learn how we each get to be a part of it. What a blessing!

Be Salt and Light, my friends... You matter!

Matthew 5: 13-16