Bishop James Swanson prays over Communion elements during the National Gathering of United Methodist Men
NASHVILE, Tenn.–– “Peter shows us transformation is possible.”
That’s what Bishop James Swanson told people attending the Saturday evening session of the July 12-14 National Gathering of United Methodist Men.
Noting how Peter moved from a man who denied knowing Jesus to become a man who proclaimed the gospel on Pentecost, Bishop Swanson said, “I’ve seen men do terrible things at one time and wonderful things at another.”
Swanson, who also serves as president of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, urged the men to recover John Wesley’s third word of grace. Wesley spoke about “prevenient grace,” “justifying grace,” and “sanctifying grace.”
“I expect growth and development and maturity of out of you,” he said. “Even while God is transforming us, God still gives us power.”
Noting that sanctifying grace begins with a recognition that something is wrong with us, Swanson said that after that recognition, “God can change you from the ‘inside out’.”
The theme of the conference was “From the Inside Out, the words from a song by Phil Stacey, one of five finalists on season six of the American Idol television show and the featured singer at the Belmont University event.
“I believe men have a deep yearning to become different from the one they currently are,” said Swanson. “That desire needs to become performance.” He urged the men to “be bold enough to demand that your journey in the church will be bold.
“I may not always do it right. I’ m a man and it takes me a while to get it right. You have to quit trying to figure it out for your self. The church is of God, not of us.
“Give it to God and God will add what is missing.”
“We can do more than build handicap ramps, we can also do spiritual things.
Noting how God can touch men, the bishop said, “Sometimes instead of going to worship, the worship gets you,” and he reminded the pastors of the times when “instead of giving a sermon, the sermon gets them.”
“We’re going to become mighty men of Christ,” the bishop concluded.