Thursday, May 31, 2007

Introducing The Jonah 4.11 Blog

I have started a new blog that will focus on the road to church planting that we are traveling. It is called Jonahs 4.11

Why Jonahs 4.11?
Well, the title of this blog comes from Jonah chapter 4:11. In this passage God says, "But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"There are two amazing things about this verse.First, that God's mission is to save the lost and to pour out his grace on those deserving his wrath.Second, he not only uses a guy who is a racist, but that guy ends up writing a book about his racism and how God intervened in his life in such amazing ways that he ended up being transformed into a man who eventually penned the words that God spoke to him rather than causing hiding them in his heart while he continued in rebellion against God until his death.This blog will be about the Jonah Road that God has called me and my family (the Slocums) to walk on in planting a church in Pittsburgh's East End. We love that great city and can't wait to see the ways that God will move in our lives and in the lives of those he has called us to serve.

A Jonah Sermon Series
Jonah: Go! 1:1-17- Jay Slocum.mp3
Jonah: Learn 2:1-10- Jay Slocum.mp3
Jonah: Tell 3:1-10- Jay Slocum.mp3
Jonah: Celebrate 4:1-11- Jay Slocum.mp3

Announcing A New Call

On April 3rd, God spoke powerfully to me and made it clear that my time at The Church of the Cross had come to an end. I met with Churck Owens, our senior pastor, on April 5th, and he graciously accepted the reality of God's call in my life. Catherine and I set out from there to fast and pray about where God would call us. To our surprise, within a just week, God had made it clear, both through prayer and fasting and through many divinely ordained curcumstances that he was calling us to be a part of urban church growth-planting in Pittsburgh PA. On May 3rd, I announced our call to Pittsburgh and determined with our leadership that my last day would be July 1st. Our house is on the market, we and we are presently waiting to see what lies in store for us in Pittsburgh. We would love prayers from all of you as we make this journey of faith. When God moves in our lives and gives us visions of the future, there are often many unknowns. This weekend, we will venture to Pittsburgh and begin to pray over the city and connect with friends and colleagues. Keep us in your prayers.

Below is our Letter to the folks we serve here in Bluffton at The Church of the Cross.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Dear Friends,

It is with emotions of excitement and sadness that I write to you. Through a series of miraculous events that have occurred over the past month, God has revealed to Catherine and me that it is His desire for us to end the incredible four year ministry that we have had the privilege of sharing with you here at The Church of the Cross. Beginning in August, Catherine and I will be moving our family to the great city of Pittsburgh to plant an urban church in the East End. As you all know, we have a burning passion to reach people who have never heard the Gospel and feel that God is calling us to reach urbanites who are both dis-affected by the Church or un-reached by the Church. Our work will be among university students, young families, postmoderns, and the poor. Though we know that this new work is where God is calling us, we are both excited and sad.

We are sad. We are sad because we love you all and we love Bluffton. As we reflect upon all the love and care that we have received and offered in these years, we weep. Yet, we know that God calls us all to Love Him above all others. And, since we have clearly heard His call, we must obey His call. We are also excited. We are excited because we have, for the past four years, had the amazing privilege of sharing with you the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ and God has honored that proclamation by growing His Church right before our eyes.

We are sad. We are sad because it is hard to give up all that we have labored over in these four years. Buckwalter is our “baby” and we see many of you as our spiritual children. But, we all know that we do not raise children in order to cling to them forever, but to give them away when they grow to be big and strong. We are excited. We are excited because we know that all of the blood, sweat, tears, and laughter that we have shared with you over the past four years have forged a bond between us that will last into eternity.

We are sad. We are sad because we love Chuck and Becky. We have leaned on their leadership and guidance and soon we will have to stand alone in leadership without their aid or wisdom at our immediate disposal. Yet, we know that we are all called, at times in our life, to take risks and step out to become all that God has for us to become. We are excited. We are excited because we have seen God continually provide for the needs of His people here in Bluffton and we know that through the continued leadership of Chuck and Becky Owens and Mike and Linda Clarkson, the Gospel work that we have contributed to during our time with you all will continue to flourish in our absence.

We are sad. We are sad because God has bestowed upon us, and our ministry, so much fruit. Who wants to walk away from a thriving church that started as a vision and has become an exciting and dynamic place for people to experience God’s love and forgiveness? We know, however, that anyone who loves the fruit that God gives more than God himself, will in the end lose all. In God’s Upside Down Kingdom, if we want to get it, we have to give it away. If we want to live, you must die. We are excited. We are excited because we believe that our willingness to give up and give away all that God has bestowed upon us in these past four years will act as an example to our congregation. It will proclaim that the way of God is not a way that includes clinging to the fruit of what he bestows upon us, but giving away what he bestows upon us in order for us, and His people (all of you), to receive even more of what he has in the coming days!
I am sure that many of you will feel mixed emotions of sadness and excitement upon hearing this news. Please know that Chuck, Michael, and I are committed to moving through this time of transition in a way that honors God and allows our entire community to weep in our sadness and to celebrate the exciting changes that are before us. Presently, Chuck, Mike, and I are working to make this transition a healthy and growing time for The Church of the Cross. Over the next two months, Mike will begin to take on many of the leadership responsibilities that I have carried in my role as lead pastor at Buckwalter. Mike will be spending more time at Buckwalter teaching, preaching, pastoring, and planning. Chuck will begin assisting Mike with helping to assimilate new members. As I am able to give more and more of my present responsibilities away, I will be working to effectively care for the relationships that I have had the privilege of forming with so many of you over these past four years.

Additionally, Chuck and Mike have insisted that I make this transition smooth and healthy for me and my family by taking the month of July off to rest, grieve the loss of leaving you all, and to gain further vision for the work that awaits us in Pittsburgh. So, I will also be working diligently over the next few months in order to take care of the details of moving (selling our home, buying a home etc.) so that we can actually have some respite before we begin this next mission. Catherine and I covet your prayers and assistance during this time as we seek to take care of all the details that go into moving a pastor and his family from the Low Country of South Carolina to the City of Pittsburgh.

Catherine and I will be available during May and June to personally share both the exciting vision that God has given us about our new ministry in Pittsburgh and to help any of you who may need to speak with us about the sadness that this move might bring to your heart.

My final sermon at Calhoun Street will be on June 10th. I will preach my final sermon at Buckwalter on June 24th. On Sunday July 1st, we will have a testimony Sunday service at Buckwalter that will focus on the lives that God has transformed during the four years that Catherine and I have served at The Church of the Cross. As you might expect from Catherine and I, we wish to end our time with you all by throwing a big party at Buckwalter on Sunday, July 1st at 5:00 pm. Everyone is invited!

In closing, please know that Catherine and I cherish you all and look forward to the days that are coming.

In His Strength,

Pastor Jay

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sufjan Stevens - Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland

Exploring the notion of the incarnation of Christ (coming down to be with us) in relation to so many people’s longing to have more from life (the UFO connection).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

You May Not Know God But You Can't Escape His Work

In 1999, Brenda came through the door of the Youth Room at Prince of Peace Episcopal Church with Jess. They had just seen "the most amazing film." They saw a lot of movies in high school and as their movie-loving Youth Minister it was their responsibility to always point out great movies to me since I don't have a TV and have to depend on cool and hip people for all of my cultural clues to what the next Academy Award Winner will be. First, this was a film and not a movie so I knew it was probably really well made. Also, none of the guys had seen it so I am sure it really was a film. A movie is to a film what a hamburger is to a steak to frame it in SAT question lanquage. Anyway, the film was American Beauty. "What was it about?" I asked. Brenda. It was about how boring life can be and how fake people can be and how bad High School sucks and how this guy meets this girl and he totally gets "it" while the rest of the world just goes on in oblivion." "Perfect," I thought. Then Jess said something about some parts being disturbing and then Brenda said, "But it was beautiful." So, I asked, what was beautiful about it?" They told me two things. 1. You just have to see it. and 2. There was this scene with a bag. This kid video tapes a bag and then shows it to his girl friend. The scene opens with him saying that he wants to show her the most beautiful thing he has ever filmed. It is a bag being swept up into the wind on a city street. It really was powerful.

Now, here is the thing about this film. It is totally nihilistic. No one really has any hope. The movie is dark like your freshman year in high school kind of dark when you are the new kid and really smart and not good at sports and you live in middle class America and you think the goth kids are cool but you would never dare dress like them because then your parents would know how you really feel inside and then you would have to go to therapy kinda dark, if you know what I mean. But, in the middle of it all is this longing for beauty. See beauty is one of God's tools. He made it so that we could never forget him. We may not know God from the Bible or from hearing the Gospel, but we connot escape his beauty. It is everywhere and it is shouting our names.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Faith Handed Down

Catherine and I were married at Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, VA in 1991. I was a disaffected Christian drinking deeply from the well of the teaching of the reformation and clueless about Anglicans and anything liturgical. I also generally disliked traditional church a great deal. I was a "I find God in nature" kind of believer. But there was something different about Truro. The people loved God, loved others, and reached out to the world with the message of the Gospel. Their were certainly happy-clappy-shine-jesus-shine folks at Truro but there were also intellectuals, artists, and cultural creatives as well.

When we got married five hundred people showed up for our wedding. I was not even a member (Catherine's Dad, Martyn Minns was the senior pastor). It was a great wedding. When we moved into our first apartment, we had to install a lot of extra shelving for all of the gifts of love that were poured out on us at our wedding (Linens, table cloths, crystal, china, etc.). We didn't have a dining room table when we moved into our 800 square foot first apartment in an old Victorian home in South Salem, New York. But, we did have a white linen table cloth that would cover a table that sat sixteen. One of the gifts that we received has become sacramental. We received a wonderful pewter water pitcher for our wedding. I have used that pitcher to baptize scores of people in the past four years.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Download Sermons

The problem of having to wait till sermons get archived before they are downladable has been fixed. Now, you can download all sermons from the Church of the Cross NOW. Enjoy!

Contact April & May 2007
Contact: Being A Transformer- Romans 12- Jay Slocum.mp3

Finding Our Peace at Christmas- Jay Slocum.mp3

Jonah: Go, Learn, Tell, Celebrate November-December 2006
Jonah: Go! 1:1-17- Jay Slocum.mp3
BigQuestions:How Can I Make Sense off the Bible? 2Timothy3.14-17&4.1-5- Jay Slocum.mp3
BigQuestions: How Can I Reach My Unbelieving...? 1Corinthians 7.10-24- Jay Slocum.mp3
BigQuestions: If God Is In Control, Do My Choices Matter? John 6.25-48- Jay Slocum.mp3
BigQuestions: How Can I Connect With God? Matthew 6.5-15- Jay Slocum.mp3

Meet Jesus
Meet Jesus: Jesus Meets the World- John 12.12-19- Jay Slocum.mp3
Meet Jesus: Jesus Meets a Woman- John 20.1-18- Jay Slocum.mp3
Meet Jesus: Jesus Meets A Skeptic- John 20.19-31- Jay Slocum.mp3
Meet Jesus: Jesus Meets a Rock- John 21.1-25- Jay Slocum.mp3

Gold From The Fire
The Blood, Sweat and Tears of the Christian Life - A Study of I Peter
- March, July and August, 2006
Gold from the Fire: Why We Suffer- 1Peter 1.1-12- Jay Slocum.mp3
Gold from the Fire: How to Suffer- 1Peter 1.13-2.3- Jay Slocum.mp3
Gold from the Fire: Suffering and Growth- 1Peter 2.1-12- Jay Slocum.mp3
Gold from the Fire: Suffering and Baptism- 1Peter 3.18-22- Jay Slocum.mp3
Gold from the Fire: Being Under Authority- 1Peter 2.13-25- Jay Slocum.mp3
Gold from the Fire: Master and Servant- 1Peter 2.11-25- Jay Slocum.mp3
Gold from the Fire: Marriage- 1Peter 3.1-7- JaySlocum.mp3
Gold from the Fire: The Body Shop- 1Peter 4.1-11- Jay Slocum.mp3
Gold from the Fire: Servants 1 Peter 5.1-11- Jay_Slocum.mp3

Death After Life - Life After Death January 29-February 12, 2006
Life and Death: Hope in the Face of Death- 1Thess 4.14-5.11- Jay Slocum.mp3
Life and Death: Hell and Life Everlasting- 2 Peter 2.1-21- Jay Slocum.mp3
Life and Death: Heaven in a Here and Now World- 2Peter 3.1-18- Jay Slocum.mp3

Saturday, May 12, 2007

If you are wondering what Christianity is, then check out juststopandthink. It may be the most valuable fifteen minutes you ever spent. juststopandthink is a 15 minute movie short delivered by Cornerstone Pastor, Francis Chan. The cool thing about the movie, at least for me, was that it took me fifteen minutes to find out who this guty talking to me was. he doesn't even appear in the credits. I find this very cool because, as you will see from the movie, his total focus is on helping YOU see who God really is. The guy is clear, transparent, and effective as a communicator and the "cheesy" factor on this movie is a zero despite the factthat I would have loved to see him actually surf in the final scene).

Friday, May 11, 2007

House For Sale: 634 Coopers Lane North, Bluffton, South Carolina 29910

Our House is FOR SALE.

If any of you are intersted or know of someone who might be interested in buying our home, please contact Bland Kiser at Kiser & Associates, Inc. The office number is 843.681.6000. Cell is 843.384.4566 mobile. Or email at

MLS #: 240136
List Price: $194,900
Area: 16 - Bluffton/Off Plantation
Year Built: 2002
Bedrooms: 4
Approx. Sq. Ft.: 1,704
Full Baths: 2
View: Wooded
Half Baths: 1


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Strong Weakness

I have for a long time really loved the whole Blue Renaissance enter the worship circle stuff coming from Ben and Robin Pasley. The Village Thrift album got nixed by Catherine (my beautiful wife) because of all the dissonance. One song, Strong Weakness, starts out with a whole minute of dissonant feedback. I kept skipping it because it was, well, annoying. Then, one afternoon while worshipping in my study, I put the song on and stuck with it. Once I got past the dissonance, the song just completely moved me. We did this song (minus the feedback) this morning in worship. Check it out:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Four Films and a Fish Fry: Band of Brothers

In May, our men's ministry, (BoB) the Band of Brothers will be hosting Four Films and a Fish Fry. These films are incredibly important “man” films that will present plenty of discussion for Christian men, fighting to live out their lives for Christ in the Third Millennium.

We will meet at our Buckwalter Campus on Tuesdays (5-1, 5-8, 5-22, 5-29) from 6:30-9:30. Golden Corral will be providing dinner ($6.00 per meal) from 6:30-6:50 with the Band of Brothers serving. The movie will begin at 6:55pm and discussion will follow. We will end each week at 9:30pm.

We will not meet on Tuesday, May 15th. Instead, we will take part in this year’s Fish Fry on the Bluff on Thursday, May 17th. What is the deal with the fish fry? Well, in the liturgical church, we have a tradition. We celebrate Jesus' restoration of Peter and the call fdor his disciples to follow Him (John 21) before his ascension. The Fish Fry is very cool since it takes place on the water and is attended by a big crowd from the church.
Here are the films

This 1995 film starring Mel
Gibson takes place in 14th Century Scotland, William Wallace leads his people in a rebellion against the tyranny of the English King, who has given English nobility the 'Prima Nocta'.. a right to take all new brides for the first night. The Scots are none too pleased with the brutal English invaders, but they lack leadership to fight back. Wallace creates a legend of himself, with his courageous defence of his people and attacks on the English.
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British and French troops do battle in colonial America, with aid from various native American war parties. The British troops enlist the help of local colonial militia men, who are reluctant to leave their homes undefended. A budding romance between a British officer's daughter and an independent man who was reared as a Mohawk complicates things for the British officer, as the adopted Mohawk pursues his own agenda despite the wrath of different people on both sides of the conflict.

May 22nd

In the final days of Marcus Aurelius' reign, the aging emperor angers his son Commodus by making it known that he wants Maximus, a fearsome and respected Roman general, to be his successor. Power-hungry Commodus kills his father and orders the death of Maximus. But the latter flees, only to discover that his wife and child have been murdered by Commodus. Captured, Maximus is forced into slavery, where he is sold to Proximo, a former gladiator who serves as both mentor and slavemaster. Maximus trains as a gladiator in the arena, where his fame grows. He goes to Rome, intent on avenging the murder of his wife and son by killing the new emperor Commodus. Maximus has learned that the one power stronger than that of the emperor is the will of the people, and he knows he can only attain his revenge by becoming the greatest hero in all the empire.

May 29th

Chronicles the inspirational, true-life exploits of Carl Brashear, who became the Navy's first African-American Master Diver. Brashear runs into formidable opposition in the form of Billy Sunday, a rebellious senior officer and celebrated Master Chief Navy Diver. But it is Sunday who ultimately helps Brashear, the son of a Kentucky sharecropper, overcome a crippling injury, fight racism and bureaucracy, and make military history.

Men are encouraged to invite friends and neighbors. To sign up please call the church office (757-2763).

WHO'S YOUR DADDY? Urban Legend or Craddock Story

I heard Fred Craddock tell the story below (Who's Your daddy?) in a sermon. It is a kind of preacher's classic. If you Google "the Ben Hooper story" you will get a plethora of sermon references.

I Googled it and found that it also comes up on a lot of urban legend websites like snopes. Snopes is usually pretty credible. But, in this case, I want to disagree with Snopes (and the author who seems to be advocating that Hooper was both a self made man and a devout Baptist) and give Fred Craddock the benefit of not being a liar.

Craddock has been a great preacher his whole life and has a ton of integrity. Plus, I heard him tell the story almost exactly as it is told below. So, who you gonna believe? If any of you reformedanglican readers have info on this story as urban legend or as an actual Craddock story, please let me know?

"A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. One morning they were eating breakfast in a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, "I hope he doesn't come over here." But sure enough, the man came over to their table."Where are you folks from?" he asked in a friendly voice."Oklahoma," they answered."Great to have you here in Tennessee," the stranger said. "What do you do for a living?""I teach at a seminary," he replied."Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I've got a really good story for you." And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down.The professor groaned and thought to himself, "Great. Just what I need -- another preacher story!"The man started, "See that mountain over there?" He pointed out the restaurant window. "Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up because every place he went, he was always asked the same question: 'Hey, boy, who's your daddy?' Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question: 'Who's your daddy?' He would hide at recess and lunch time from other students. He would avoid going into stores because that question hurt him so bad. When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. He would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, 'Who's your daddy?' But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast, he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd.Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, 'Son, who's your daddy?' The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, 'Who's your daddy?'The new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him and using discernment that only the Holy Spirit could give, said the following to the scared little boy: 'Wait a minute! I know who you are. I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.' With that, he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, 'Boy, you've got a great inheritance -- go and claim it.'With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person. He was never the same again. Whenever anybody asked him, 'Who's your daddy?' he'd just tell them, 'I'm a child of God.'The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, "Isn't that a great story?"The professor responded that it really was a great story.As the man turned to leave, he said, "You know, if that new preacher hadn't told me that I was one of God's children, I probably would never have amounted to anything!" And he walked away.The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over and asked, "Do you know that man who was just sitting at our table?" The waitress grinned and said, "Of course. Everybody here knows him. That's Ben Hooper. He's the former governor of Tennessee!"