Sunday, November 30, 2008

Do Not Call/Do Not Send

Do Not Call and Do Not Send

Tired of the telephone solicitors? Wondering why all the junk mail keeps piling up in your mailbox? We have the ways to deter much of those items. For more information go to:

Credit Bureaus

The credit bureaus offer a toll-free number that enables you to “opt-out” of having pre-approved credit offers sent to you for five years. Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688) or visit for more information. When you call, you’ll be asked for personal information, including your home telephone number, your name, and your Social Security number. The information you provide is confidential and will be used only to process your request to opt out of receiving pre-screened offers of credit.

In addition, you can notify the three major credit bureaus that you do not want personal information about you shared for promotional purposes—an important step toward eliminating unsolicited mail. Write your own letter or use the sample letter on the back of this Alert to limit the amount of information the credit bureaus will share about you. Send your letter to each of the three major credit bureaus:

901 West Bond 
Lincoln, NE 68521 
Attn: Consumer Services Department

Name Removal Option 
P.O. Box 505 
Woodlyn, PA 19094

Equifax, Inc.
P.O. Box 740123
Atlanta, GA 30374-0123

Direct Marketers


The federal government has created the National Do Not Call Registry — a free, easy way to reduce the telemarketing calls you get at home. To register your phone number or to get information about the registry, visit, or call 1-888-3821-222 from the phone number you want to register. You will get fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering your number. Telephone numbers on the registry will only be removed when they are disconnected and reassigned, or when you choose to remove a number from the registry.


The Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Mail Preference Service lets you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national companies for five years. When you register with this service (for a $1 fee), your name will be put on a “delete” file and made available to direct-mail marketers. However, your registration will not stop mailings from organizations that do not use the DMA’s Mail Preference Service. To register with DMA’s Mail Preference Service, go to


The DMA also has an Email Preference Service to help you reduce unsolicited commercial emails. To opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial email from DMA members, visit Your online request will be effective for five years.

Department of Motor Vehicles

The Drivers Privacy Protection Act allows states to distribute personal information only to law enforcement officials, courts, government agencies, private investigators, insurance underwriters, and similar businesses—but not for direct marketing and other uses.

Sample Opt-Out Letter (Send to addresses listed above.)


To whom it may concern:

I request to have my name removed from your marketing lists. Here is the information you have asked me to include in my request:

(List all name variations, including Jr., Sr., etc.)





(Fill in your previous mailing address if you have moved in the last 6 months.)







Thank you for your prompt handling of my request.


If You Have a Complaint

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.govor call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. 

Saturday, November 29, 2008

December Pastor's Corner

December Pastor's Corner

I was offered a reminder of the desire for each clergy person to provide Goals for ministry. In the ongoing assessment and planning for Ojai UMC these are the goals I have prepared and been working from since July.

My goal for the remainder of this appointment year is to continue to develop the Vision of Ojai UMC with the input of the congregation. I hope that all of this will be bathed in prayer by the members of our congregation, which I will continue to pursue in public and private conversations.
The steps in this process are:
1) Visit with the members of the Congregation to surface their hopes and dreams, as well as the sustaining nature of Ojai UMC. (July-January)
2) Develop an asset awareness of the Congregation through Spiritual Gifts Inventories, and listing of tangible assets of the church - buildings, money, etc. (October - January)
3) Partner the assets of the church with the needs of the community, and the general hopes of the members for an idea of where we would like to go. (October-January)
    A) The Assets of the Congregation are underway as the Spiritual Gifts Inventories come in to the church office.
    B) The Assets of Ojai UMC are in print in our end of month financial statements
    C) The needs of the Community are currently under review as the City Council looks at revitalization
    D) A Percept Study of 93023/93022 raised these areas of interest to our ongoing conversation.
            I. Estimated population in July 2005: 28,000
            II. Median resident age: 42.0 years
            III. Median household income: $44,593 (year 2000)
            IV. Median house value: $272,100 (year 2000)
            V. Primary Industries: Male-Construction, Female-Education
            VI. 2008 Cost of Living index in Ojai: 115.2; U.S. Average is 100.
            VII. higher per capita White, Middle America, Seniors and Boomers, with fewer "Survivors"/"Gen X" and "Millenials"/"Gen Y"
      E) As we consider change within the congregation we ought to review these factors:
            I. Primary concern is Hopes and Dreams
            II. Faith receptivity is gauged at VERY LOW
            III. Likely giving potential is gauged at VERY HIGH
            IV. Preferred overall church style is VERY/SOMEWHAT CONTEMPORARY
4) A series of community roundtable discussions of these, and the current outcomes and realities of Ojai UMC (this may be small 8-10 people dinners, gatherings, or meetings) (January-February)
5) The forming of a coherent and cohesive vision for Ojai UMC. (February-April)

There is a final phase to this process. The conclusion to this process is to evaluate the Vision, and the desired outcomes that we need to see happening to achieve the vision, leading to the Mission Statement, which will include any real change that must occur within the congregation and beyond for the Vision to be met. (April-June ++)

There are a couple of questions we need to raise for ourselves as we enter this conversation in full.
    A) What are the current results of our program?
    B) Where does God want us to be in ministry with the world?
    C) Are we willing to look at church differently than we have ever practiced it, in order to meet the needs of the community and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ which we know to be transformational in our lives and the lives of many throughout history?


Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Thankful Five

Thanks to Singing Owl at RevGalBlogPals here is today's offering of Thanks.

"I'm musing about giving thanks for people today, partly because Americans celebrated our annual Thanksgiving holiday yesterday (I try not to just make this holiday "turkey day" even though its main feature seems to be eating till one is nearly comatose) and partly because I read the above verse this morning. It started me thinking about individuals in my life for whom I give thanks. For this post-Thanksgiving Day Friday Five, share with us "Five People For Whom You Give Thanks to God" and maybe tell us why they are significant."

1) Wife and Daughter
2) Family, Parents, Siblings, In-laws, Out-laws, Cousins, Second & Third Cousins, Aunts and Uncles, Grandmas and Grandpas
3) Teachers - esp. Burgoyne, Ladinig, Rowbottom, Kennedy, Dr. Kline, Dr. Johnson.
4) Dear friends - Wisman, Evans, Bryan, Rountree, Forbes
5) Heroes - Thelma, Opel, Marie, Jackie, Carl, Scott, Duke, David.

There are many more for whom I am thankful, but I wanted to change things some from yesterday.


What's Happened

One of the requests made by my Staff-Parish Relations Committee Chair asked of me this past month is an up-to-date "what has the pastor done" list.

Now, I will own that I have not done all of these things. In fact, most of them have been done by other people. But, I will also say that many of these things were done at my impetus or prompting. There are a few of these things I have counted the chickens before they hatched, as they are still only in process, but they are moving.

So, in no particular order:

Have Done List:
New Computers for the Office and the Pastor
Networked the Campus, with wireless access points throughout
Fencing for the BBQ
Reintegrated people into worship as readers, lectors, and attendants
Celebrated 50 years of Ojai UMC in ministry with the former pastors
Opened the Sanctuary to preschool chapel, and teach every other week
Emptied the parsonage of old accoutrement
New carpet, new flooring and new paint at the parsonage interior
Holes in floor patched and replaced
Parsonage tented for termites
New heating and A/C units, asbestos removal at parsonage
New A/C unit on Peterson Hall
A/C, heater units repaired at the preschool
Water Heater cleaned
Closets cleaned at Church
Updated archives at the church
Current Lay Leadership Directory
Review of all membership
Renewal of Baptism for Jeremy Jurgens
Completed Christian Educators Conference
New Copier in the Office
Cleaned the office, organized files
Removed old financial files, sent to shredder
Reviewed existing Mission and Vision statements
Implemented Visioning plan
Visited with more than 75% of active membership and 50% of inactive membership
Hospital Visitations, along with several shut-in visitations
Library, UMW Library, Pastor's library, Hallway library shelves cleaned; books cleaned, sold and shared 
Clean-up and sale of Sew 'n Sews projects
Funeral for Hal Mitrany
History Wall Created
New Refrigerator @ Parsonage
New Washer and Dryer @ Parsonage
Completed Mortgage Paperwork
Collated materials in the safe deposit box
Got a Title report
Updated Fed Tax ID information and State Tax ID
Established 501(c)3 documentation
Got Property Taxes evaluated, some charges dropped, and some reimbursed four years back 


Thursday, November 27, 2008


Starting with a Thanks to Revitalize Your Church and Mark O. Wilson I want to list a few things for which I am thankful.

My wife, and her determination to finish her project.

My daughter and her laugh.

My parents, and their patience with all of us kids.

My sister and her ministry, as well as her passion to finish her papers.

My sister, her husband and my niece and nephew, especially their love for each other.

My in-laws, for their reminders to slow down, and enjoy, and the chance they give me to decompress.

My church, and its ongoing desire to grow and develop a love of Christ that transcends.

For the lessons I learned serving in other church settings.

For mentors, young and old.

For friends I have held on to for years, and those I have connected to recently, from this moment, and from my life gone by.

For more stuff than I know what to do with, and the ability to downsize.

For the chance to share from my bounty with others.

The joy of baking, pumpkin pies, and exploration in the kitchen.

For those people who have recently rededicated their life to Christ and are teaching others to do the same.

For Camping Ministry - my passion and my call.

For Christian Education, and the chance to teach the Word of God.

For great storytellers - Jesus Christ, Robert Jordan, Terry Brooks, Christopher Moore, Paula and JD.

For music, the sound track to my life.

For technology to stay connected and share something from within.

Happy Thanksgiving


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

1. Put your iPod on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

"Is that you Mo-Dean?" B-52s

"So Sad About Me" Cowboy Mouth

"Hurricane Season" Billy Pilgrim

"Running Into You" Cowboy Mouth

"Hearts and Bones" Paul Simon

"Too Darn Hot" Ella Fitzgerald

"Love's Funny that Way" Tina Arena

WHAT IS 2+2?
"Without Love" Mindy McCready

"She's Got Issues" The Offspring

"Deep and Wide" - Various Artists

"Deeper" - 7-Fold

"Somebody Bigger Than You and I"- Faith Evans, Whitney Houston

"Highest Praise" The Abundant Life Music Ministry

"Wonder Why" -Avalon

"These Are Not My Pants" - Five Iron Frenzy

"I can Love You Better" - Dixie Chicks

"The Champion" - Carman

"Honey Bee" Tom Petty

"The Word of God" - Big Tent Revival

"Tutti Frutti" - Little Richard

"I Will Sing of the Mercies" - Various Artists

"Childlike Faith" Larnelle Harris

"Voice Mail #2" - Rent Soundtrack

"Don't Get Around Much Anymore" - Natalie Cole

"One and Lonely" - Superchi(c)k

"Thank You (Outro)" Milele

"Turn it all over to the Lord." - Abundant Life Music Ministry

"You Are My King" - Candi Pearson

"I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day" - Various Artists

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sermon Notes Sunday November 23rd

The Black Sheep Ain't So Bad
Matthew 25:31-46

We need to remember that as familiar as we are with this passage of Scripture, with the tales of "when did we see you naked, hungry, sick, or in prison?" and the response of Jesus the King, that these responses while individual are about the NATIONS being judged, not individuals. This passage reminds us that it is about community.
This is great since we don't always do what is right, but as a community when someone else does this our legs are picked up and we are covered for that time. We need to be careful though, that we do not think of this as "well, someone else is doing it, so I don't have to". That way leads to an entire community being judged as "goats".
To this end, we need to re-examine the goats and the sheep.

Herding a goat is much more difficult than herding sheep as, unlike sheep, goats do not have a herd mentality (though they do have a dominant alpha - male or female) and each goat will tend to stray farther and farther from the others in search of better grass and food.

This too reminds us that we are meant for community. We need to stay together and we need to do things as one focused people. We are working on Visioning for this very reason. We want to have a common banner, as well as a common King - Christ Jesus in order to do things well.

I am reminded that 1 mule can pull two times its weight. But that two mules can carry 8 times their weight.
I am also mindful of the image of two matches. When lit individually they can only burn so bright, but when the two flames are touched together the brightness is even greater.

But, church is more than that. One of the statistics of the United Methodist Church is that the average age of the church is aging faster than the United States as a whole. In reading a recent study of almost 93,000 post-menopausal women that of those who attend church the death rate decreases by almost 20%. And those are just the women. There are benefits to being in church!

When we each go our own way we begin to send the whole group into chaos and are unable to adequately support and nurture one another. We need not be goats. We need the power of a common purpose and shared Vision.

As to what happens when we all run our own way I take note of the British Paper - Sunday Telegraph. British church are now so unused they are asking for bailout by the federal government. One British member of parliament says "I used to have people writing me asking if I could use my position in the European Parliament to get [Government] exemptions - my answers was to suggest that they go out and get a few more people to join their congregation." This comment is then added on:

"Failing to evangelise year after year eventually has a price - why expect the state to bail us out when we haven't been doing our job?"

When we all come together as sheep under a common leader we have greater power than when we are alone and trying each to do his own thing. So it doesn't matter if you are a black sheep, pure white sheep, or even one of those newfangled "colored sheep", you are still sheep.

At such a time as this we need to remember that visioning only works when we all come together. I am also mindful of Ray Bradbury's words to the world, which I take as a challenge to this church, this day.
"We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?"
There is nothing more real than reaching out to those who do not have this day - those we see naked, hungry, sick and in prison.


Monday, November 24, 2008

The Typealyzer

The Typealyzer

Thanks Will

INTP - The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications. 

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Parents Must Have Missed This

More thanks to MMI.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Everybody else is doing it

Gender Analyzer has this cutesy little gadget that tries to figure out if your site is written by a man or a woman. A couple of other bloggers have checked it out and it has offered some interesting results. 

All I have to say about my results is that Wendy Saatjian may have been right with my metrosexuality.

We guess is written by a woman (50%), however it's quite gender neutral.

Must be the use of words like "cutesy"

Friday, November 21, 2008

A thought regarding Bible study

Quote of the Day

The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best - and therefore never scrutinize or question.
  - Stephen Jay Gould

Friday Five

Mix and Stir Friday Five

Please answer the following kitchen-related questions:

1) Do you have a food processor? Can you recommend it? Which is to say, do you actually use it?
We do; I do not use it, as I do most stuff with the Stand Mixer, Blender and common chopping knife

2) And if so, do you use the fancy things on it? (Mine came with a mini-blender (used a lot and long ago broken) and these scary disks you used to julienne things (used once).)
I would consider using the slicer, as it works better than the stand mixer attachment and much faster than the knife

3) Do you use a standing mixer? Or one of the hand-held varieties?
I prefer the stand mixer, as I love it, but have been known to break out the hand mixer for smaller jobs.

4) How about a blender? Do you have one? Use it much?
I use it all the time, for puree for pies, and for smoothies.

5) Finally, what old-fashioned, non-electric kitchen tool do you enjoy using the most?
I love my cast iron skillets

Bonus: Is there a kitchen appliance or utensil you ONLY use at Thanksgiving or some other holiday? If so, what is it?
I am sure there is, like the baster, or some such

Thanks to Todd over at Monday Morning Insight.

October Pastor's Corner

October Pastor’s Corner

During the Month of October we will be celebrating our 50th Anniversary. We will also lift up the preschool in its 25th year of operations. With visits from several of our past ministers we will be recovering some of the greatest assets of our church. We have created an amazing legacy in the Ojai Valley for United Methodists. We have helped to create and sustain HELP of Ojai, Noah’s Ark Preschool, and Ojai United Methodist Church. We have endured some great pains, with fires and floods, watched some dear friends leave our community and the death of some of the saints who have lived and worked among us.

These are all assets of our church. We have built a reputation for caring and hospitality in the Ojai Valley. We have shown ourselves to be people who reach out and care for the least of these, in simple ways – like through our giving to HELP of Ojai, Scholarships for students at Noah’s Ark Preschool, Camperships for our youth to attend United Methodist Camps, and countless other means. We have offered some fun ways to connect with our community, through the various Spring and Fall sales, the Sew n’ Sews and their crafting, and the opening of our lawn for the community to gather to watch the Fourth of July fireworks at Nordhoff High School. We have offered music to the community in the bell choir that has gone out at holiday time, members of our congregation who have given of their time and energy to sing with and for several retirement communities in Ojai, as well as the faithful direction of our Church Cancel Choir who have performed several cantatas and seasonal special music selections.

We have decided to be a physical presence in our community with our buildings. I know that has been hard at times, because of the fire and the need to rebuild, and because of the extra expense incurred to establish greater facilities for our programs, with the addition of Peterson Hall and the expanded Preschool Buildings. We have taken good care of the pastor and his family with the parsonage and the ongoing improvements undertaken there through the years, with sewer connections being added, additional electrical plugs, washer and dryer, new flooring, and plenty of paint.

In my visits with you all I have discovered you know your greatest asset to be the people of Ojai UMC. As we move forward we are going to delve deeper into the assets of the people of Ojai UMC. I am going to invite you to take a Spiritual Gifts Inventory. The United Methodist Church has a Spiritual Gifts Inventory you can take online at the website.

Please check it out and pass your results back in to the church office by email at:


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Link Love

First of all:

Blog Comment Day is December 3. Thanks to John Smulo

Allan Bevere says Pastoral Silence is Golden. I agree.

Landon Donovan is headed to Germany to play with Bayern Munich. I love US players abroad.

Todd Hiestand blogged financial planning from David Briggs. The Comment about budgeting making me feel trapped and really it sets us free sounds a little like Paul.

Is there a future for leadership and leaders? GBOD tackles the concern.

Young clergy in big senior ministers. Joseph Yoo imagines a UMC culture friendly to younger clergy in its language of "change". Bishop Willimon challenges the church in this move to change.

As a Certified Christian Educator and member of Christian Educators Fellowship, I am intrigued at this article about when "Christian Education Doesn't".

And one of the great "big men" of all time passed away this week. We will miss you Coach.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


One of the regular situations in my life comes around October or November, of just about every year I can remember.

I get bored. I get tired. I get frustrated, and consider giving it all up and going on to something else - anything else. One year it even got so bad, I was diagnosed as clinically depressed and was placed on medication. Since that time I have tried to have a therapist, if for nothing else, just to have someone on call.

I don't know for certain all the reasons October brings about a malaise for me. I know that I am shorter with people. I have less people energy. I get bored faster. I don't have the energy to take up "new" projects, though I can complete old projects, albeit with less verve than before. I start exploring "new" ventures and challenging whether I am in the right place.

I have figured several things about this. A) It just is, and I have to persevere through it. B) I am not alone. Judging by the number of Facebook statements, blog entries and conversations I have witnessed over the past several years many folks face this. C) I am pretty certain that it is not Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) D)I love sports and have for years found this time to take up a sport I love, as a way to help me pull through - and I have no evidence that it truly helps overcome the feeling, but it does give me some tools to ride it out. E) When I am most down I have learned that is when I most need to reach out. F) I thank God for my baby girl every day, it is hard not to keep going when she smiles and shows such love for life.

And that's the news for today...I will be okay...but just so you know what's going on. 

PS. A nice correllary article by Anne Jackson over at Flowerdust here. And FWIW - check out her book Mad Church Disease

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quote of the Day

Whatever career you may choose for yourself-doctor, lawyer, teacher-let me propose an avocation to be pursued along with it. Become a dedicated fighter for civil rights. Make it a central part of your life... It will enrich your spirit as nothing else possibly can. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sermon Notes Sunday November 16

Thanks to Rev Mommy, I opened the sermon with a reminder that it is about the money. It is a tough time to talk about money with a radically fluctuating stock market, housing prices down, gas doing roller coaster tricks, jobs falling by the wayside, and stewardship time upon us.

Matthew 25:14-30
reminds us about God's concern for money and how it is used. Jesus talks about money more than any other single topic. But, I am reminded that the most common phrase of the New Testament, which Jesus too brings to bear in his talk, is "Do not fear" or "Fear Not". I choose this day to talk about both - Money and Fear Not.

First: It is someone else's money.
-cf. Enron, Junk Bonds
-We responded pretty strongly when these persons forgot they were dealing with someone else's money.
-Likewise we know that our "hard-earned money" is God's
-We want accountability, and so does God.

Second: How long until we act?
-The servants went out immediately (the first two to invest, the third to bury his share of a talent-3years worth of wages)
-Ojai UMC went out early to invest. We went out to invest in members, facility and a parsonage. We started in 1957, had over 100 members in 1959, a church building with Sunday School, kitchen and offices in 1961, and a parsonage by 1962.
-We continued to invest in our community through the start of the preschool in 1983, and the addition of the fourth building in 1991.
-We need to remember that investing should not stop. There is no retirement in Christian living.

Third: When does the accounting come?
-We don't know when the accounting will come, and this is all the more reason to keep investing.
-It doesn't matter when the accounting comes, as we have all been given something to work with in the way of talents, both in money and in service to God. We need to remember above all else it is about relationships - with God and with each other.

Fourth: We create our own judgments by the fears we live into.
-Therefore we should Live into Expectation, rather than Wait on Wrath.
-Are we living in fear of the Master?
+The third servant claims that the master is harsh, reaping where he does not sow.
+The master does not disabuse the servant of this thought, merely calling him into account for his understanding. [God loves you so much as to let you determine how you want to have relationship with Him-including a harsh or abusive relationship]
-I realized this past election season that I was faced with a lot of fear-mongering. As such I made a stand during the final weeks of the ads and campaigning. I vowed not to vote for any measure, resolution, or candidate who was using fear as the primary means of electioneering.
-I am grateful for this quote, and a quote from Richard Rohr which help me to stem the tide of fear.
-Of course, it helps some that I am counter-phobic. Most people have a Fight, Flight or Freeze response to Fear. I tend toward engagement with the thing which I fear.

At Ojai UMC we have a chance to live. Now we must determine how many talents we have and get busy investing them. There are some assets we have and can name, like the dollars in the bank and endowments, and the buildings we possess, but I need your help in going to the Spiritual Talent banks and finding out what gifts we have to offer. It is hard to invest in the stock market if you cannot say how much you have to invest.

I am reminded of the story of the man who prayed to win the lottery. God told him he needed to "go buy a ticket". Go buy your ticket!

P.S. After the service one of the members said to me, "If you had been of another generation you might have said, 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself.'[FDR] But now it is about 'Hope'."

Ojibwa Prayer

Grandfather, look at our brokenness. We know that in all of creation only the human family has strayed from the Sacred Way. We know that we are the ones who are divided and we are the ones who must come back together to walk in the Sacred Way. Grandfather, Sacred One, teach us love, compassion, and honor that we may heal the earth and heal each other.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Soccer Roots are Showing

Friday, November 14, 2008

Quote of the Day

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." . . . You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

-- Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday Five

Over at RevGals, Sophia writes: Earlier this week the U.S. celebrated Veterans' Day, known in many other countries as Remembrance Day. At this time last year I was commuting to a postdoc in Canada, and I was moved by the many red poppies that showed up there on people's lapels in honor of the observance. Unlike a flag lapel pin, which to me has political connotations and implies approval of our current war, the poppies simply honor the sacrifice and dedication of those who have followed their consciences by serving--sometimes dying--in the military.This week's Friday Five invites reflection on the theme of remembrance, which is also present in the feasts of All Saints, celebrated in many liturgical churches on November 1, and All Souls--known in Latin cultures as the Day of the Dead--celebrated in some the following day. 

1. Did your church have any special celebrations for All Saints/All Soul's Day?
We had a candle lit in memory of each of the deceased members of the congregation, and shared aloud the names of others who had died this year.

2. How about Veterans' Day?
Just a mention from one of the congregation members thanking each of those who served.

3. Did you and your family have a holiday for Veterans' Day/Remembrance Day? If so, how did you take advantage of the break?
Not in the least.

4. Is there a veteran in your life, living or dead, whose dedication you remember and celebrate? Or perhaps a loved one presently serving in the armed forces?
My dad was reserves and my in-laws have a number of retired military, as well as my brother-in-law who is currently serving.

5. Do you have any personal rituals which help you remember and connect with loved ones who have passed on?
I don't

Quote of the Day

'The first principle of nonviolent action is that of noncooperation with everything humiliating." - Cesar Chavez

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Ultimately, America's answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired." -Robert F. Kennedy

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Declaration of Human Rights

thanks to Rev. Frank Trotter at Pasadena FUMC for this reminder.

The 60th Anniversary of The UN Declaration of Human Rights is December 10th.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

    Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

    Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

    Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

    Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

    Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

    Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

    Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.

    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.

    Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

    No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

    No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

    Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

    All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

    Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

    Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

    (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

    (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.

    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

    (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

    (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

    (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.

    (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.

    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.

    (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

    (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

    (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.

    (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.

    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.

    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

    (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.

    (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

    (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

    (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.

    Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.

    (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

    (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

    (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

    (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.

    Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.

    (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

    (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.

    (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

    (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

    (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.

    (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

    (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.

    Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.

    (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.

    (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

    (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.

    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I really like this stuff...

More from Beyond Relevance regarding the video about Church Marketing.

Amazing Fact of the Day

Heard from a parishioner who had been to an Alzheimer's Conference this past week:

half of all the persons who have ever reached the age of 65 are still living.

That is amazing.

He threw in this tidbit for additional mental stimulation:

The incidence of Alzheimer's reaches a plateau after age 90...for no currently known reason.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Notes on November 9 Sermon

"Are You Ready?"

Growing up I learned the rest of this phrase was " rumble?"
Christians are not exempt from such broken behavior. We just have to look to the headlines for this Sunday and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where a fight broke out between the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox Monks who have charge of the church.

Our text this morning brings us right to the brink of just such a fight with the story of the 10 bridesmaids who have fallen asleep waiting for the bridegroom.

So, are you ready...
For Change: This past week we affirmed the "Change We Need" as we elected our first Black President Barack Obama.

Are you ready...
For Vision? This year we have been working on developing our vision for Ojai UMC. We have taken this up in our stewardship campaign with the theme of "Commitment to Vision". This goes beyond the commitment to finding a Vision, but committing to the Vision for the long-term.

Are you ready...
For Challenge. If we look seriously at what it means to be ready we need to look at each person who arrives at the church, whether they have been here for 50 years or 50 seconds, as Christ present with us. There is the old story of the three monks who were told by a wandering stranger that one of them was the Christ. You can imagine what it did for their treatment of each other.

Are you ready...
For the Bridegroom? I suspect most sermons about this passage result in stories of the 10 bridesmaids and the focus is on whether or not they were ready with the oil, or ready for their jobs, or some element of their preparedness. But, I want us to look elsewhere.

Are you ready...
For the unexpected? We know the truth of the Bridegroom and his arrival means that with the new marriage everything will change. The bride and Groom each will have new responsibilities and they will have to do some testing out of each other and the boundaries that exist. Marriage changes everything, and causes us to re-examine all of our pre-conceived notions.

Are you ready...
For the Bridegroom? I want to challenge you to look past the bridesmaids and think about the one who was truly ready for the bridegroom. It is the town crier who announces that the Bridegroom has arrived. This is the person who is really ready for someone to come and change everything.

Are you ready...
to see things differently? To look past the stuff right in front of you. To get into things beyond yourself. To answer God's call upon this church as we discover our vision taking into account all the community brings to the table as well.

Are you ready...
Gives us the chance to throw out the rumbling. It gives us a chance to throw out the rumbling. It gives us a chance to look at life through new lenses.

Are you ready...???


For Those Promoting Traditional Marriage

Is this the type of Biblical Marriage you are promoting:

Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head, trim her nails, and give her new clothes. Then she's yours.
-- Deuterononmy (Deuteronomy 21:11-13)

Find a prostitute and marry her. 
-- Hosea (Hosea 1:1-3)

Find a man with seven daughters, and impress him by watering his flock. 
-- Moses (Exodus 2:16-21)

Purchase a piece of property, and get a woman as part of the deal. 
-- Boaz (Ruth 4:5-10)

Go to a party and hide. When the women come out to dance, grab one and carry her off to be your wife. 
-- Benjaminites (Judges 21:19-25)

Have God create a wife for you while you sleep. Note: this will cost you a rib. 
-- Adam (Genesis 2:19-24)

Agree to work seven years in exchange for a woman's hand in marriage. Get tricked into marrying the wrong woman. Then work another seven years for the woman you wanted to marry in the first place. That's right. Fourteen years of toil for a woman. 
-- Jacob (Genesis 29:15-30)

Cut off 200 foreskins off of your future father-in-law's enemies and get his daughter for a wife. 
-- David (I Samuel 18:27)

Even if no one is out there, just wander around a bit and you'll definitely find someone. (It's all relative of course.) 
-- Cain (Genesis 4:16-17)

Become the emperor of a huge nation and hold a beauty contest. 
-- Xerxes or Ahasuerus (Esther 2:3-4)

When you see someone you like, go home and tell your parents, "I have seen a ...woman; now get her for me." If your parents question your decision, simply say, "Get her for me. She's the one for me." 
-- Samson (Judges 14:1-3)

Kill any husband and take HIS wife. (Prepare to lose four sons though). 
-- David (2 Samuel 11)

Wait for your brother to die. Take his widow. (It's not just a good idea, it's the law). 
-- Onan and Boaz (Deuteronomy or Leviticus, example in Ruth)

Don't be so picky. Make up for quality with quantity. 
-- Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-3)

A wife?...NOT!!! 
-- Paul (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Pondering Hospitality

Hosting a guest pastor from Nigeria last weekend sparked a conversation about Hospitality with my wife. I was struck by the passion she has for hospitality, and the myriad issues we have seen this past week related directly to Hospitality.

We had our guest here in our home for three days before she preached and got on the train the day after her visit.

I heard the words from President Bush to President-elect Obama about how he would ease the Transition.

I saw the pain and anguish of friends, church people and people I consider family after the passage of  Proposition 8 here in California, and how we denied hospitality to them.

I saw the Starbucks/Church marketing video thanks to Beyond Relevance, and made comment on that.

I reread and prepared for the text for November 9, and the story of the 10 bridesmaids.

Then I saw the story from Mark Winter about how he received hospitality. 

And I begin to seriously reconsider and reimagine church, as a church that shows first hospitality. What will that look like? But, I can tell you this - if it is genuine, there will be no shortage of people who want to be Christians.

No. 1

Glad the Boys won...hope them other 'boys win.

I'll leave it at that for now.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Five

I am up for this Friday Five. And Thank God it is a funny one, thanks to Presbyterian Gal at revgalblogpals! So lets get reading the Funny Papers.

After an exhausting election here in the states it's time for some spirit lifting! Join me with a nice cup of tea or coffee or cocoa and let's sit back and read the Funny Papers!
1. What was your favorite comic strip as a child? I loved Tumbleweeds, and then Far Side, and finally came to rest at Calvin and Hobbes, at least during my childhood.
2. Which comic strip today most consistently tickles your funny bone? Zits and Baby Blues
3. Which Peanuts character is closest to being you? Shermy or Linus
4. Some say that comic strips have replaced philosophy as a paying job, so to speak. Does this ring true with you? Yes, I think they offer catharsis, as well as allowing us to look back at ourselves in humor, which takes us one step beyond Scripture - which is primarily a window unto ourselves with a less humorous view.
5. What do you think the appeal is for the really long running comic strips like Blondie, Family Circus, Dennis the Menace as some examples? Simplicity, longevity for itself, and a sense of larger connection to people than we experience elsewhere in society.
Bonus question: Which discontinued comic strip would you like to see back in print? Calvin and Hobbs. I really miss it. And then the other would be Far Side. Now those two were the ones that were philosophers. (here I echo Abi)

My bonus bonus question: what was your favorite when you were in college and young adult? This has to be Calvin and Hobbes (sensing a theme?)