Day1 Weekly Programs by The Rev. James Ellis III
Tuesday May 17, 2011
In the fourth part of our Young Leaders of the Church series, the Rev. James Ellis III looks at the testimony of Stephen when he was stoned, and draws implications for our own witness in the world.
Articles by The Rev. James Ellis III
Tuesday June 14, 2022
These past few pandemic years have been full of disappointment and despair for all of us, which is all the more reason we feel blessed that James Ellis’s next book has been released: "An Inward-Outward Witness: Suffering's Role in Forming Faithful Preachers."
Monday August 21, 2017
Charlottesville. Confederate statues. Alternative facts. Real talk...We need to face sin head-on and stop downplaying and excusing, twisting it to massage our guilt. Postscript redaction to humanity’s topsy-turvy history is futile and harmful. Stop it, in the name of God. We are not as good as we think, especially as Americans and Christians as well. We can do better. We must do better. We need the Lord.
Tuesday December 06, 2016
If we aren’t careful, in following the mores and tidings of what is popular, Christians are in danger of affirmatively normalizing that which God objects. And one area ripe for the picking is our sexual ethics. May we find both grace and conviction in pursuing “his kingdom come, his will be done,” as we witness to the world around us about why faith in Christ makes a difference.
Monday October 17, 2016
“Some friends play at friendship,” according to Proverbs 18:24, “but a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin.” Honestly, I wouldn’t know because friends have proven hard for me to come by. If, as Francis Schaeffer posits, “Christian community is the final apologetic,” then it should be no wonder that we, the Church, often so gravely struggle to reach the world. Many Christians are unfulfilled, rarely locating fellow believers with whom they can meaningfully do life with.
Thursday October 13, 2016
Life is hard. We all know that to be true, yet we sometimes struggle to be honest with young adults about the kind of unavoidable challenges they will face. For Columbia Theological Seminary's "Columbia Connections" blog, this is an opportunity to explore those dynamics a bit further. Life is hard, yes. And God is very good. It is quite right to affirm that both are true at the same time.
Monday April 04, 2016
For whatever reasons, Jude is one of those biblical texts you will be hard-pressed to find being preached that often in many churches. Its message is difficult to receive and digest, although the message is rather plain and direct. No one wants to hear doom and gloom and especially within the privileged, spoiled brand of faith that has become popularized in America, no one wants to hear any notion of God’s stand for sexual morality. But there it is in the Bible waiting for us to confront our sin.
Monday February 29, 2016
Our society can be rather nihilistic and pessimistic. Whether this is a sign of the times or a reflection of basic human nature, I don’t exactly know, but it can be difficult for hope to grow in such a sweepingly hostile environment. Just like anyone else, Christians can easily fall victim to a naysayer mentality where we quietly go along to get along. But as always, with God there is another way that leads to truth and life.
Monday July 06, 2015
The legendary soul singer, Tina Turner once asked the world, "What's love got to do with it?" For Christians, God's love and our response to God's love, in loving others, makes the world go-round. But how we understand love is critical, and that appears at times to be taking an interpretive turn for the worst.
Monday February 23, 2015
Columbia Theological Seminary's Steve Hayner succumbed to pancreatic cancer on January 31, 2015. He wore many hats throughout an illustrious career, but more than anything else aided others in traversing the good and bad times of faith in Christ. He leaves loved ones, yes, but also a rich legacy of faith, hope, and love.
Monday September 22, 2014
For many reasons, at times Christians today are characterized as "holier than thou" types quick to point to others' moral shortcomings, who rarely take their own tattered lifestyles to task. Jesus, however, compels everyone to dig beneath the surface of their own lives and the world's status quo to become "whole" individuals. In this text, Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman provides a good opportunity to explore that theme.
Thursday June 12, 2014
As Jesus told Peter long ago (John 21:15-17), we who today lead others into spiritual transformation are expected to care for God's sheep. Many of us take that charge seriously, but struggle to understand one foundational truth of this sacred work. If we don't first care adequately for ourselves, we have little chance of caring for anyone else.
Wednesday April 16, 2014
Palm Sunday reminds us of the conundrum of the human experience and the beauty of Jesus' sacrifice, the decision to love us to death. Even in the midst of betrayal, tribulation, and anxiety, Jesus chose to move forward with the fulfillment of Scripture that testifies of himself. Friends are important on this side of heaven, but Jesus is the most important friend any of us will ever have.
Sunday January 26, 2014
Some things in life rock our world more than others. For most American Christians heeding God’s expectations about the Sabbath is challenging. Though we may stumble there is hope. The truth is that we need to rest and work in ways that are life-giving, ways that are likely very different than popular norms.
Sunday December 08, 2013
Perhaps the only adult with this malady; I am a big baby when it comes to taking medicine, especially the liquid kind. It is unbearable. But much like our walk with God, sometimes, many times we must do things that are difficult, which lead to blessings we don’t deserve. If anything, Christianity represents a holy transformation from childish to responsible behavior. Modification for sure, but fueled by God’s loving presence.
Monday October 21, 2013
A normal yet provocative emotion, when handled improperly fear suffocates hope and haunts dreams. Even so, it has been treated negligently especially by those in positions of leadership. In his personal journal Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.” While we should appreciate the sentiment, we are wise still to navigate fear in ways that honor the craftsmanship with which we were created, cleaving to God for protection in all things.
Wednesday October 02, 2013
Columbia Theological Seminary selected me to be in-residence on their campus recently as a Guthrie Scholar. Opportunities to “center down” away from life’s busyness are hard to come by, so I am thankful for the time to rest and reflect on my faith and vocation in new ways. What follows is an account of the experience.
Sunday August 11, 2013
In this fast-paced, multitasking world of ours, we forget all kinds of things. Sometimes it is to cut the grass. Other times it is to pay a bill. However, we would do well to remember how very present and good God always is. We don’t have to live a life of forgetfulness. There is a better way.
Sunday June 09, 2013
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. This often is how we expect God to guide us in life, moving us steadily along like Monopoly pieces from one experience to another, in logical succession with little to no drama along the way. But God is not like us and has reasons for leading us to, through, and away from that which we don’t understand. God is the picture of providence!
Monday June 03, 2013
Age doesn’t determine wisdom. Young people aren’t automatically lacking it just as older people don’t automatically possess it. It is so easy for parents to become clouded by what they want for their adult children, forgetting that God is the definitive parent to them all, exclusively to whom they will all answer.
Thursday May 09, 2013
On the wall of theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein’s office at Princeton University was a sign that read: "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." As priest and prophet, Zechariah stands in the chasm of great tradition whose emphasis is quality, not quantity, so God told him to tell the people, “Who despises the day of small things?” Oh, how we superficially value only that which to human eyes looks adequate and glamorous.
Wednesday February 20, 2013
I had the opportunity recently of preaching at University Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Hyattsville, MD. The Rev. Nathan Hill, their new senior minister, and I are members of the 2012-13 cohort of Lewis Fellows through Wesley Theological Seminary’s Center for Church Leadership, so it was special to worship God in spirit and in truth with both colleague and congregation. Lord, hear our prayers.
Monday December 17, 2012
We are confused and angry, our hearts weary and wounded by the loss of life in Newtown, Connecticut. God is here with the offer of abiding comfort alongside a call for us to break down the barriers that continue to hinder reconciliation and cooperation on the issues of our day, many which have root causes in race and class. Let connect with those who are different than us, but with whom God wants to show that we have so much in common.
Wednesday November 07, 2012
None of us knows the deeper meaning as to why magnitudinous storms of all kinds invade our otherwise calm lives. These invasions are incapable of arriving at a “good time” because there isn’t one for such devastation. We don’t invite these occurrences, they simply occur. There is, however, one who changes not and who “is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Jesus is our anchor always and everywhere.
Wednesday September 26, 2012
No matter how introverted or extroverted, deeply reflective or outwardly demonstrative you are, odds are that you struggle with patience. Maybe you are like me and from time-to-time must restrain yourself from saying or doing things that simply wouldn’t be prudent. Well, God has something to say about patience regarding how we might be empowered to conduct ourselves.
Wednesday August 29, 2012
With the 24-hour news cycle and Internet technology's instant gratification, it is so easy to major in life's minors, to debate about our own struggles to the detriment of investing heftily in others' lives. Last week in Camden, New Jersey something terrible occurred that deserves our attention and action. It is much bigger than the Olympics, NFL preseason, or any celebrity drama that you can imagine.
Tuesday August 28, 2012
Relationships are difficult. There is no way getting around that. However, the qualities that one values in a potential mate and how they go about the business of evaluating compatibility can make a world of difference. Low standards are never good, but neither is looking for traits in others that your are unwilling to first live out yourself. This post was written with young adults in mind, but the principles apply to all ages.
Friday August 10, 2012
Disagreements are normal and healthy, even those about big issues that affect all of society. But why today is there a leaning towards demonizing those who simply don’t see life the exact same way as us, especially on controversial issues? If anyone should know better and do better, shouldn’t it be Christians?
Monday June 25, 2012
In his track, “Church Clothes,” Christian rapper, Lecrae shares the feelings of an abandoned generation: “Truthfully I’m just doing me / and I don’t wanna face no scrutiny. / As long as the church keeps wildin’ / I can justify all my foolish deeds.” Clothes don’t make the man or woman, but they do communicate something influential about us to others. I wonder what God thinks about our church clothes?
Thursday May 10, 2012
Does anyone remember the 1973 "Ship Ahoy" album on Philadelphia International Records? Well, the O'Jays were onto something in reflecting about how low some will go to line their pockets. Beware not to chase after, "Money, money, money..."
Sunday April 01, 2012
If you don’t know who Jill Scott is, then you are missing out! Do yourself a favor and Google her. Music often intersects theology in incredibly interesting ways. If we would only sit down for awhile and listen to “good music” we might find more encouragement to passionately exhibit an authentic, vulnerable faith that establishes us as God’s beloved, in the world, but not of it.
Monday March 26, 2012
If Christians are to make a significant impact in their communities, families, and within their professions, they must exhibit integrity based on God’s character. Rightly so, the world is watching how a life of faith is birthed, shaped, and lived in a pagan society. Being silent in the midst of injustice renders us just as guilty as the perpetrators.
Monday February 06, 2012
My wife and I recently celebrated five years of marriage. It hasn’t been a stroll in the park though. There have been high highs and low lows. Thankfully, God has guided our steps, and used the good, bad, and ugly of it all to draw us closer to one another as husband and wife. God has turned us into people that barely resemble their former selves, but that is a good thing!
Friday January 27, 2012
What is quiet brilliance? Are introverts God’s stepchildren or second-best creations with extroverts as the “crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me”? Princeton University and Harvard Law School graduate, and former corporate lawyer, Susan Cain has penned an intriguing book titled, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” (Crown, 2012). Maybe God can use introverts (and extroverts) to do great things in this wacky, crazy world after all.
Thursday December 22, 2011
Many of us have are familiar with this sage advice: “Don’t mistake activity for achievement. Busyness does not equal productiveness.” Well, unfortunately Christians and church leaders routinely do the opposite, especially during Advent as we look towards the higher heights of ministry for the New Year. So, come, let us reason together.
Thursday November 24, 2011
Even with faith as our fuel, the graceful means by which we make it from one day to the next, we know all too well that life is sho 'nuff anything but easy. There are ups and downs, highs and lows, failures and successes, and not always at an equal frequency or impact. Of course, God is still God and Jesus still reigns, but thus is life on this side of heaven. Nevertheless, the apostle Paul (amongst other biblical writers) tells us that a thankful disposition is the antidote to any unending disturbance of the soul.
Sunday October 23, 2011
We ought to be thankful not only about from whence we have come, but about where God will take us in the days to come. For most of us life is no walk in the park, yet we complicate things by our decisions to walk down easy street where the paparazzi of prestige and total comfort shower us with feelings of entitlement. No matter our station or circumstance in life we have much to be grateful to God for.
Saturday August 13, 2011
The pastoral life is unlike any other. Remy Rougeau rightly reflected that those who follow Christ are “ambassadors of truth in a world of illusion.” As such, those who serve as shepherds of the people of God are multitalented. Yet, certain core competencies and gifting are needed to responsibly point others to Jesus. Learning to listen well, which doesn’t at all require agreement with what has been heard, is a life skill for us all, even as much as a requirement for pastors to be faithful on God’s terms. In a world where everyone is jockeying to be heard over and above the loudspeaker of conspicuous consumption, listening well, as a social architect and servant-leader, is paramount in embodying the biblical road less traveled.
Saturday July 09, 2011
This article was published in the spring 2011 issue of “Christian Ethics Today” and addresses the notion that while sociological descriptors are inevitable in any society Christians must not find their primary identity in anyone or anything other than Christ. Anything less is inconsistent with Scripture. Thus, even classifications like politics, citizenship, gender, class, membership in a fraternity or sorority, and even race, and culture must be made subservient to Christ, not vice-versa.
Saturday May 28, 2011
Charles Swindoll commented in a recent interview: "We want a crowd to make us feel important and liked. But why is getting a crowd our focus? Jesus never suggested that crowds were the goal.” This is very true, but there is so much else, like our lack of consecration before the Lord and accountability with one another, that leads clergy down the road of insecurity, compromise, and manipulation. If Jesus is indeed on the mainline, then there must be a better way. We need some Divine intervention!
Monday April 25, 2011
Christians are sometimes viewed as “holy rollers” who tend to be more heavenly minded than they are of earthly good. That, too, is a label given to those who support abstinence as the most morally responsible perspective that parents can arm their children with. I wonder why in today’s prevailing culture sex before marriage, even for pre-teens, is viewed as inevitable. Wouldn’t faith demand that it indeed is preventable and ought to be preferable for the people of God?
Monday April 11, 2011
In our efforts to fit in, we believers can walk so closely with popular culture that our "sacred" values are swallowed up in the process, which only limites our witness to one another and the world. Today we need believers whose faith in Christ has grown deep like the rivers and who also can creatively testify of God’s greatness as missionaries to their respective communities, critically analyzing both secular and sacred values against the biblical witness.
Monday March 14, 2011
Filling in for the senior pastor, the Rev. Patrick Day, I was fortunate this morning to preach God’s word, and proclaim God’s goodness alongside the wonderful people of Northminster Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Roswell, Georgia. Satan seeks our demise, but let us reaffirm on this first Sunday of Lent that Christ has defeated sin, and in the Spirit’s power we, too, can be victorious in resisting temptation.
Monday February 21, 2011
It is imperative that we reaffirm and rededicate ourselves to the biblical reality that we are not of this world, that in losing our lives for Christ’s sake we gain it. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) In an outrageously materialistic and dominant culture, we must remind one another that establishing lives of ultimate comfort should never be our focus.
Saturday February 19, 2011
According to Paul Tillich, “The first duty of love is to listen.” If we believe that to be true, then Tyler Perry’s latest film, “For Colored Girls,” is a much-needed cinematic step in African American women learning from one another’s stories, and African American men becoming more informed likewise. In broader terms, however, it is a helpful addition to the cultural tapestry which represents both the uniqueness and universality of the African American experience.
Thursday February 10, 2011
Christians have been fighting about the proper intersection of faith and politics for a long time. It has been said that ”˜the personal is always political.’ On every level and to every degree there is hardly consensus about who Jesus is amongst the faithful, so surely debate around the convergence of salvific and earthly liberation will continue to be a hot issue. Nevertheless, John Howard Yoder, the radical Christian pacifist, provides us the opportunity for thoughtful conversation.
Thursday December 16, 2010
Oh, how we need to center down, to take the time necessary to detach, albeit momentarily, from that which clouds our vision before God! Lorraine Hansberry, the famous African American playwright, issued a related admonition this way: “Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.” During this precious Advent season we would do well to recalibrate our spiritual discernment and perspective, reconnect to our Creator and the created, and appreciate the new hope that we have in Christ.
Saturday October 30, 2010
Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann wrote, “Though many of us are well intentioned, we have invested our lives in consumerism. We have a love affair with “more”””and we will never have enough. Consumerism is not simply a marketing strategy. It has become a demonic spiritual force among us, and the theological question facing us is whether the gospel has the power to help us withstand it.” We, Christian Americans, are suffering from a severe identity crisis. Are we merely consumers or faithful, peculiar, counter-cultural followers of Christ?
Monday October 04, 2010
Much has been said lately in the news and blogosphere, as well as in hair salons and at dining room tables across the country, about the charges of misconduct against Bishop Eddie Long, the pastor of a 25,000-member congregation in the Atlanta area. Some say that it reveals the hypocrisy and homophobia of Christians. Others lament that Long is innocent until proven guilty, and is a committed Christian leader. I say it is time to say “No” to celebrity Christianity, particularly amongst our leadership because preachers should not be akin to pimps.
Sunday September 26, 2010
Math and science have never been my best subjects, but Dr. Ben Carson, a world-renowned surgeon and devout Christian, reminded me recently in his speech at Howard University in Washington, DC that, having been created in the very image of God there is absolutely nothing that we can’t do if God calls us to it, and we dedicate ourselves diligently towards that end. We limit our local and global impact partly because we believe the adversary’s lies of inferiority. But, with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26), and that is indeed good news!
Sunday September 19, 2010
Increasingly, I think, “good” music is hard to come by. That isn’t to say that everything produced in the days of musical yesteryear was golden, rather simply that the mass commercialization of genres like rap and even gospel have taken a dip in the quality department, one might concede at least somewhat. Music that inspires and that, of the Christian variety especially, is theologically responsible is like finding a needle in a haystack. But, as a lover of music I am committed to the journey, rummaging through the crates of supposed “secular” and “sacred” music alike.
Wednesday August 18, 2010
Johnson Oatman, Jr. once wrote these beautiful lyrics: “Lord, lift me up and let me stand by faith on Heaven’s tableland; a higher plane than I have found””Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.” In a world that bombards us with messages about self-help and self-fulfillment, it is incumbent upon us to find comfort in our Creator; that is, to be fascinated by God more than people, places, or experiences, as interesting as they may otherwise be in of themselves. This is possible only through relationship, however; a vibrant, authentic relationship with God through Christ Jesus, for anything else will not do.
Sunday July 04, 2010
Today immodestly is the standard by which everything else is measured, from the corporate boardroom to the high school lunch room. The less that is covered the better. The bigger assets that are uncovered the better. So often Christians are silent; paralyzed by their coconspirator status in the melee, but also troubled by how people are manipulated to exploit themselves in this way. There is a better way with Christ.
Tuesday June 22, 2010
Some Christian parents cling to a distorted view of parenting, which focuses on establishing a legacy of economic prosperity, professional prowess, or upward mobility, for instance, as examples of how they are better than their own parent(s). Yet, as believers they are charged to teach their children the ways of the Lord, not how to live unfulfilled lives of fearful disobedience to God that are successful only in the world’s eyes.
Thursday June 17, 2010
In proclaiming the Gospel and caring for so many others during times of need, it is easy for clergy and other servant-leaders to forget that God’s providence and unconditional love apply to us, too. Through life’s inevitable storms we must be reminded of our need to trust in God, and God alone.
Saturday May 29, 2010
“Seminary” can easily be one of those buzz words that in certain circles Christians have very definitive opinions about. Is it required for effective service in the local church? Is the academy a safe space in which God can be questioned while faith is still affirmed? Only a week away from another seminary graduation, I am reflecting on my time training, institutionally speaking, to better understand what ministry is all about.
Monday May 03, 2010
There has been a lot of rhetoric thrown around recently about the black church in response to Eddie Glaude's article "The Black Church Is Dead." This is merely a response; one of many is furthering the dialogue as to the relevancy, or lack thereof, of today’s black church.
Friday April 30, 2010
We live in a time when ignorance is celebrated more and more often, much to the chagrin of those who know that with God there is indeed a better way. This is a reflection on the ignorance that racial minorities, particularly African Americans, are forced to endure and overcome given the mores of today’s American culture.
Wednesday March 10, 2010
The “prosperity gospel” is an attractive heresy sweeping through American Christianity (although it has existed for quite some time now). Building upon the Protestant work ethic, it purports that God wants his followers to be rich, essentially by any means necessary. This, of course, is quite contrary to biblical, Christian orthodoxy. It turns opportunist, overzealous ministers into pimps, and obedient parishioners into prostitutes.
Sunday February 21, 2010
Sadly, today we worship celebrities. The sustained frenzy surrounding Tiger Woods' recent marital troubles is evidence of that. God has called us to more than idolatry, however. We were made to overcome it not succumb to it, no matter what popular culture says.
Monday February 08, 2010
It has been my experience that most people succeed in spite of not because of positive contributions that their family of origin made to their life. As sad as that it is, it seems to be many peoples’ reality. Yet, God provides for our well-being even given this kind of familial baggage. With God we don’t have to be arbitrarily subjected to a dogmatic concept of who can and cannot be family to us. Jesus’ view on family was much bigger than that, and our ought to be also.
Tuesday February 02, 2010
God has created us to be human beings, not human doings, which is to say that we are to find out rest and purpose in God, not in vocational meanderings towards so-called "success."
Thursday January 28, 2010
We often fill celebrations of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy with lots of inaccurate fluff. We sensationalize the seemingly insurmountable vocational challenges that he faced every day, and gloss over the shortcomings in his character. Historical integrity along with a faithful commitment to Christ, however, requires that we tell the truth and shame the devil, as the saying goes.
Video by The Rev. James Ellis III
Monday June 06, 2011
In this installment of our Young Leaders of The Church Series a good friend of Day1, Rev. James Ellis III, sits down with our host Peter Wallace to discuss the work of reaching young people in ministry, the importance of following and understanding pop culture, the enduring relevance of the gospels and the challenge of communicating it in a relevant way. Join us for a conversation of faith and hope only on Day1.