Wednesday, August 31, 2005

So what now?

Holy Ground.
This is where the carnival post was supposed to go, and what the Exodus passage reminded me.
We are walking on holy ground. This was made plain to me in a couple of instances last week, and is part of what is carrying me through this week...though I must say i feel more like the Moses of the 4th chapter of Exodus, making every excuse under the sun to get out of my job this week. I am beat.
Fortunately God is good and provides a reminder of who God ist o me when I need back to last week and Holy Ground.
The first tidbit came from a funeral I did graveside. There were a number of older persons who came to the funeral and attended the afternoon service. The service was in the shade of a beautiful tree in the middle of the cemetery. In the San Bernardino heat that was much appreciated. But, it is the fact that the service was in the center of this area of the cemetery. Because of the distance from the perimeter and the number of persons who had trouble walking it was interesting to watch how they came to the gathering area. Many of these older persons had walkers, or people they were holding onto when they came across the grass. However, they were careful to avoid stepping on the headstones, flat though they were, and possibly the best path they could have walked to get to the service. The concept of Holy Ground became abundantly clear to me, as they walked ever so carefully across the yard avoiding the headstones to reach the service they had come to celebrate.
The second was the carnival. There was a marked difference in many of the people I witnessed at the carnival than when I have seen them in other settings around the neighborhood. The reality that they considered this to be Holy Ground, even though we were just on the church grounds and not in the buildings or the sanctuary or holding any services, or even playing any Christian music. Holy Ground demands that we respect those who have come before.
What is more, in recognizing we are on Holy Ground we recognize that there is something greater than us that calls us out of our present state of being to build on that very respect, whether it is the memory of a loved one who has passed away, or just respect for their person, or the respect we give to The Almighty.
God is good. May your steps be blessed by the recognition that every step is made on Holy Ground.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Saturday August 27th saw me at church for a very long day. I started at 6:30AM and finished around 10:30PM. All of that time was for a very great thing.
Del Rosa United Methodist Church hosted a carnival for the community. Through a very generous donation from a former member we had food, drinks, carnival games, bounce houses, a dunk tank, a train ride, pony rides, and a petting zoo, along with a few other attractions. All of this was offered free to the community. We tried to advertise to the community through a few different venues. We delivered several door hanger bags throughout the neighborhood, with a flyer about the church and an invitation/ticket to the carnival. We handed them out at the Karate school that uses our facility. We gave them out in bags of fireworks during our summer fundraiser in July. We even had a "friend" of the church who put them in bags at the fast food restaurant where this "friend" works.
We had planned for 1100 and had close to 500. We even had a few of the folks who came to this community carnival who showed up to church the next morning and several others who asked for information and said they would come some time soon. We shall see what happens with it all, but I think for DRUM this was a great opportunity to show the community that we care, and to do some seed planting with the people of San Bernardino.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Catching up...later

Just to say that I am still alive, though the page has not been updated for a week. It has been a very full week, with a funeral and a major church carnival. I want to share some thoughts from both. The big thing to share with you all is the scripture that was in the lectionary this week and the driving force for my thoughts this week.
So this is the preparations post:

Exodus 3 and 4
New International Version (NIV)
Exodus 3

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Exodus 3

Moses and the Burning Bush
1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up."

4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!"
And Moses said, "Here I am."

5 "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." 6 Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

7 The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."

11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"

12 And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you [a] will worship God on this mountain."

13 Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"

14 God said to Moses, "I am who I am . [b] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' "

15 God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, [c] the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.

16 "Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.'

18 "The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.' 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.

21 "And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians."


  1. Exodus 3:12 The Hebrew is plural.
  2. Exodus 3:14 Or I will be what I will be
  3. Exodus 3:15 The Hebrew for LORD sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for I am in verse 14.

New International Version (NIV)

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

NIV at IBS International Bible Society NIV at Zondervan Zondervan
Exodus 4

Listen to this passage

Exodus 4

Signs for Moses
1 Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?"

2 Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?"
"A staff," he replied.

3 The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground."
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the LORD said to him, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail." So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 "This," said the LORD, "is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you."

6 Then the LORD said, "Put your hand inside your cloak." So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, [a] like snow.

7 "Now put it back into your cloak," he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

8 Then the LORD said, "If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second. 9 But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground."

10 Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

11 The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

13 But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."

14 Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses and he said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it."

Moses Returns to Egypt
18 Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, "Let me go back to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive."
Jethro said, "Go, and I wish you well."

19 Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, "Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead." 20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.

21 The LORD said to Moses, "When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, 'This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship me." But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.' "

24 At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met {Moses} [b] and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched {Moses'} feet with it. [c] "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me," she said. 26 So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said "bridegroom of blood," referring to circumcision.)

27 The LORD said to Aaron, "Go into the desert to meet Moses." So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Then Moses told Aaron everything the LORD had sent him to say, and also about all the miraculous signs he had commanded him to perform.

29 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.


  1. Exodus 4:6 The Hebrew word was used for various diseases affecting the skin-not necessarily leprosy.
  2. Exodus 4:24 Or {Moses' son}; Hebrew him
  3. Exodus 4:25 Or and drew near {Moses'} feet

New International Version (NIV)

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

NIV at IBS International Bible Society NIV at Zondervan Zondervan

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Errata in the Book of Discipline

Looking through other blogs I noticed over in Locusts and Honey that the Book of Discipline apparently omitted the paragraph on Divorce, by mistake, and it has since been listed over in the errata from Cokesbury. But this is not the only mistake that has been made...I found one of my own.

As a card carrying member of the Western Jurisdiction I want to know what happened to the rest of the Jurisdiction at the last General Conference. Section VII, paragraph 37, lists the boundaries of the jurisdictions.
For the record:
Section VII. Boundaries
¶ 37. Article I.
The United Methodist Church shall have jurisdictional conferences made up as follows:
Northeastern—Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, the Virgin Islands,81 West Virginia.82
Southeastern—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia.
North Central—Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin.
South Central—Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas.
Western—Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii and the territory of the United States in the Pacific region. [83]

Footnote 83 reads so:
83. Amended 1980

So my question is what happened to Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming?
I know there are conspiracy theorists out there who think that the Western Jurisdiction ought to just go away...cause it doesn't fit with the rest of the UMC, but this is taking it a lot too far...
*wry smirk*

How do we get this "change" undone, and by what action of General Conference was this approved? A little help would be appreciated...I have taken it to my Conference to get an answer and nothing has happened yet.

Happy Correcting!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Name Calling

So, I am into that mode of prepping for my sermon again this week. I seem to notice a trend with last week and this week. Jesus gets into some name calling.

First, he calls a Syrophoenecian woman (Canaanite) a "dog", see the text here.
Second, he calls Peter "Satan", see the text here.
Third, I remember Jesus calling the Pharisees some not so flattering names, reference this text and this one.

For some reason I thought it was about being called names and being persecuted for my faith when I was in grade school. Wasn't Jesus persecuted, ultimately facing death? Isn't my call to be Christ-like and be prepared to "lay down my life for my friends"? So what should we make of this mess of name calling that Jesus gets into in these passages.

Undoubtably Jesus was trying to make a point. When he was talking to the Canaanite woman and calling her a dog, that was the common name among the people for the non-Jews, the gentiles, and the fringe elements. Did he just get caught in colloquialisms, or was there something more that was intended?

When Jesus turns on Peter and calls him Satan, which I can only imagine was a brutal cut to Peter who had just been praised by Jesus not 10 verses earlier in the text, Jesus has found the most cutting remark he can. How does that square with the understanding of Jesus as loving and redeemer? What are we to do with this when Jesus calls his most trusted Disciple, the one on whom he is going to build the church, his greatest enemy, and ours? Where does that leave me, who is still just trying to follow Jesus daily, and teach others, without the daily conversations with Jesus like Peter had?

As for the pharisees, we want to vilify them time and again. The truth is that Jesus was one of them, and respected them - otherwise he would not have been allowed to teach in the synagogue as he had opportunity to do on several occasions, or had the kind of friendships with the Pharisees that we see with Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. And he calls them a brood of vipers and foxes in different occasions, and rains down a throng of woes upon the pharisees and teachers of the law. That is tough stuff, and hard to stomach as just one of those same kind of people.

Just wrestling with the name calling this morning, and the fact that Jesus does it. What happens if I turn around and do some name calling - in my congregation? to the jerk in line at the supermarket? to another pastor? Is this then okay? In what circumstances?

Thanks for the room to ponder and question


Friday, August 12, 2005

The "Real World" Pastor

Imagine, if you will, that your pastor was once on "The Real World" cobbled together by MTV Productions. What would you think of that pastor? Would you ever give her a chance to develop as a pastor, or would she forever be facing the trials of trying to overcome whatever storyline the producers pieced together from her time living with 8 other people, who were placed in a single house to create turmoil and discord so that a TV show could be made, and hyped, and sold, and make other people millions of dollars? Would you allow her to make changes in her life, or to have made changes from what you saw and *know* to be true?
Being a pastor today isn't a whole lot different. There are stories and such that circulate. The people are certain they *know* who you are, from the various production moments they see in the pulpit, in the meetings, in your office, and maybe how you have treated *their* parsonage. No cameras to save it for posterity like on MTV's "The Real World", but lots of people making their own opinions and shaping the opinions of others.
And like the kids on "The Real World" it is just as easy to get caught in playing the part, failing to "get out" and see the other real know...the one that has people in pain and sorrow, children being born, sports being played in the corner park, going to work at the liquor store, and corporate IBM, not as a manager, but your everyday-run-of-the-mill grunt. Life is blue collar. So what is a pastor to do to keep from falling into this trap?
I have wondered at Paul's idea of working as a tentmaker-another job. I have seen pastors who work in the Honda plant 100 miles away during the week, only to come and pastor the church on Sundays, doing calls in the evening and keeping pace with the community. I have known pastors who have sidelights, like raising animals, and being columnists for the local paper. Are they doing it to have an escape from the church? Is that what they *really* want to be doing and just giving the church short-shrift? For some, that might be the case, but for most I would venture to say it helps keep that pastor connected to everyone else.
Pastors are real people. There is an old cartoon I remember seeing that had three doors on the side of the church. The first said "Entrance" and had steps leading to it. The second was a little bit higher up, and over the door it said "Associate Minister" and there were *no* steps. The third was even higher, almost mid-way up the building, and it said "Senior Minister", again with no steps. While the notion circulates that maybe the clergy can walk on air, like we might envision Jesus doing, there is no evidence that either the clergy or Jesus ever did such things...we all have to come in the same door. The challenges lie in going out the door.
The church is a safe place and many a pastor has holed up inside waiting for the congregation and the world to come to them. Introverts are very good at that, and ministry tends to attract introverts. But, even the introvert has to get out. Find the time each week to schedule time out with the congregation. Go visit them not just in their homes, but at their work places. Have some *special* places for yourself as a pastor (yes, even you who aren't are pastors too and can find the same pitfalls) where you can go and interact with predominantly non-church goers...our nation is riddled with such places. Make friends outside of the church circles, not just outside of your congregation. One of my favorites is to get lost in town at least once a week, just to see what I may be missing, what I might need to have a heart for, and especially to check out what foods may be out there that I have missed (okay so you walked right into that one...sorry)
Find the places where the cameras are off, where you can feel free and check your *church self* against your *free self*. If they come together as the same then great. If not, start trying to take off the mask and finding the spaces where you can be real, and consistent.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


There are times when I get to feeling just *ugh*, *blah* and all those kinds of feelings. I melt down in some senses and want to become one with the couch, or more likely the bed or recliner....mmmm recliners.
But, I also feel an obligation to keep things going with what is shaking here. So time for one of the age old traditions...redirection.
Two blogs I took note of this week are revgalblogpals
and UntiedMethodist for two very different reasons.
Revgalblogpals is a great idea to help support and sustain women clergy, started by a woman clergy person. I have heard that cry for support all through my seminary years and beyond. Way to go women!
UntiedMethodist is a blog that this week featured two fantastic articles. The first was about a campus minister (interview) and I mentioned it already. The second is that for United Methodists it gives a good understanding of a variety of issues at stake in the Beth Stroud trial, especially as they relate to the discipline. Helpful, and challenging.
Peace be with you in your reading,

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Season for Addresses

So I was reading through Dean Snyder's UntiedMethodist blog and he has a great interview with a campus minister.
Which got me to thinking about the address forms I have from our campus ministries here in Cal-Pac. It is time to send along the addresses of incoming freshmen to the local campus ministries. I was a little disappointed that I didn't have any to send. We had one graduate from HS this past year, and he is going to attend one of the local community colleges for voc-tech work in the auto industry. More power to him.
I am particularly grateful to my own campus ministers who helped me through my college years. I had one para-church minister and one church minister in each of my college experiences, at Emory and then at Alabama. Thanks to Intervarsity, the Baptists, the Presbyterians and the United Methodists I grew in religious formation and more importantly in my spiritual formation.
But I am especially grateful for the friends I made through those experiences. I hurt for those who miss out on such experiences and wonder at how to attract more college students to campus ministry. Maybe another blog on that one. [I still have one about how to keep the pastor connected to the "real" world]

Saturday, August 06, 2005

You scored as Mystical Communion Model. Your model of the church is Mystical Communion, which includes both People of God and Body of Christ. The church is essentially people in union with Christ and the Father through the Holy Spirit. Both lay people and clergy are drawn together in a family of faith. This model can exalt the church beyond what is appropriate, but can be supplemented with other models.

Mystical Communion Model


Sacrament model


Servant Model


Herald Model


Institutional Model


What is your model of the church? [Dulles]
created with

Friday, August 05, 2005

Good and Evil...Borrowed

Subject: "Did God create everything that exists?
Does evil exist? Did God create evil?
The University professor challenged his students with this question.
"Did God create everything that exists?"
A student bravely replied, "Yes he did!"
"God created everything?" The professor asked.
"Yes sir", the student replied.
The professor answered, "If God created everything, then God created evil,
since evil exists, and according to the principal that our
works define who we are, then God is evil."
The student became quiet before such an answer.
The professor, quite pleased with himself, boasted to the students that he had proven
once more that the Christian faith was a myth.
Another student raised his hand and said,
"Can I ask you a question professor?"
"Of course", replied the professor.
The student stood up and asked, "Professor does cold exist?"
"What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?"
The students snickered at the young man's question.
The young man replied, "In fact sir, cold does not exist.
According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the
absence of heat. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or
transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy.
Absolute zero (-460? F) is the total absence of heat;
all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature.
Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat."
The student continued, "Professor, does darkness exist?"
The professor responded, "Of course it does."
The student replied, "Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either.
Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light
we can study, but not darkness.
In fact we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color.
You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it.
How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present.
Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present."
Finally the young man asked the professor, "Sir, does evil exist?"
Now uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course as I have already said.
We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man.
It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world.
These manifestations are nothing else but evil.
To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself.
Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe
the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man
does not have God's love present in his heart.
It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."
The professor sat down.
The young man's name -- Albert Einstein

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A Carnival

The church I serve has been given a nice gift by a congregant to host a carnival. We are going to have ponies and a petting zoo, carnival games, bounce houses and obstacle course, among other entertainment, a DJ and food (Corndogs, rootbeer floats, drinks, and sundaes). Exciting stuff.
The thing that I have found to be quite an education has been the load of paperwork to do such a thing, between the vendor contracts, and the city permits and waiver of permits it is quite an adventure.
We are using it to reach out to the community. But we are also trying to determine how best to follow up with all the people who come. This is the real question I have for my readers...
Ideas for how to follow up with nearly 1100 (expected) people who might enter our area during the 3 hour event?
Help is appreciated.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Camp Reviews

There were some great topics covered this past week at camp...being the Salt and Light in the World (Matthew 5:13-16).
We talked about what it meant to be salt in the world.
Salt isn't much good without a few other grains of salt
We talked about being roaring lambs.
lambs get placid and plain, roaring lambs carry the voice of God
We talked about being the light of the world.
Being a light bulb means not only having the switch turned on and the light working properly, but being tapped into the source
We talked about our call.
Several people identified a call...minister, missionary, cook, musician
We talked about communion.
As redeemed people we are called into community and have the opportunity, like the men on the road to Emmaus, to sit and eat with the Teacher, and have our eyes opened to the King.

Good things all the way around.