Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A devotional

Home Again

Scripture passage for today:

Luke 15:11-32
11 Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
13 "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 "When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20 So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 "The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
22 "But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
25 "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 `Your brother has come,' he replied, `and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'
28 "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, `Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
31 "`My son,' the father said, `you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'" (NIV)

The main thing the Lord wants is to say: this is my son, daughter, child and this is the place that I have prepared for you.
Home is where the heart is--have your heart in Heaven.
Home is Heaven, creation-therefore all is Home.

Where is your heart?
What makes something feel like home to you?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Raising Awareness

I got a different kind of email from the Middle East the other day. I have a friend in the area, and she has several contacts (I know this is beginning to sound like a bad chain letter). There is a woman in Afghanistan who is working with the communities there and they are in need of supplies.

I hope that you will be able to get the word out to your community of faith to help out too.

I have cut and pasted part of her letter here:

Cynthia Epler cmepler at hotmail dot com wrote:

Subject: A Different Kind of Dispatch
The most striking thing out of my recent
journey is the level of need in this country. Afghanistan is the
third world of the third world, which was painfully clear around
every bend I traversed of late.

I know some of you have kindly offered to send me all sorts of
goodies and I'm grateful to have such a wonderful network of friends
and family! Instead of sending me stuff, I would like folks to think
about contributing to a US military initiative based out of Kabul.
Every Friday, US civilian and military personnel visit local
orphanages and bring goods to the children there. It is quite a
production for the US folks working here and certainly a worthy cause
given the abject poverty. If you are interested in getting involved
or know folks who would be interested, I've included the following
information instead of an official dispatch-there is no pressure to
participate, I just wanted to share the information.

They need everything from clothing, hygiene
products, toys, school supplies and more.
Direct donations can be sent to:

Community Relations
APO AE 09356


Friday, May 19, 2006

Personal DNA

Thanks Natalie for this fun resource

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


There are many joys to writing.
The blog is one as it helps to pour out ideas onto a page. I find that I ask a lot of questions with my blog. I want help and need to have some interaction, and have appreciated the colleagues I have been able to work with in this media. I have made some great "friends". I use the term "friends" as I never feel fully attached to folks until I have a chance to visit with people in person.
Which is where I really enjoy the exchange of ideas and the opportunity to further a thought or refine it. There is something more real to that. Of course understanding that about myself helps to develop the part of me that is a verbal learner. The funny part of being a verbal learner is that I want to talk with the teachers as they discuss a point, to clarify, inspect or refute, and that is not always appreciated by a professor or a teacher.
So then, the challenge of writing for interaction is more difficult. Which provides another avenue of writing, that for creative release, and encouragement, such as I have opportunity to do when I write for an online RPG. Pretty cool stuff, and the Wheel of Time makes great fodder for such writing.
If I do this kind of creative development I think it will only serve to help my sermon writing as well. Maybe that is why preaching is so much fun for me, in that I get to have some writing and a lot more discussion. It is also what makes preaching so hard for me, as I want to do more Bible Study interaction through the course of the sermon, and most churches are not prepared for such things. I'm not even sure if they should be, but I don't like a total monologue...and maybe that is the truth of it, a sermon is not a monologue, but a dialogue, with a long pause in between responses from the pastor and the congregation.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Morning Wake-up

This morning was begun by the usual Monday start. We have a prayer breakfast each Monday at 7AM down at the No Name Cafe, we begin with prayer, somewhere in the middle we have a devotional and then close with prayer.

We were short a few folks this morning, as they have wandered off to do some graduation stuff with family and another went for some rebuilding in New Orleans. It is great to be working with a people on the move.

It did get me to thinking about some additional folks graduating today. Namely, my sister graduates from Candler School of Theology today. This is my alma mater and I am very proud of her in her studies. This year she is off to start working in the local church, but isn't sharing where just yet. I know this is because it hasn't been worked through with the local SPRC. So be praying for Debbie as she continues in the journey to daily ministry in the local church.

Other news is pretty dull and so we just go on with life, but I wanted to get in the practice of updating this site more often, maybe a few thoughts added here and there.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Creative Web Ideas Needed

Del Rosa UMC has decided it is time to enter the web-age with something more substantial than the webspace we get from our host, and the free webspace we signed-up for with GBOD some years ago (to give you an idea of how long ago, the pastor listed is three pastors ago, and almost 10 years removed from this church)

We want to use the space we have already, and are not ready to venture into our own domain name category yet, as the church wants to make sure we have enough traffic to warrant such a thing. That said - it will be hard to find us on the web, just by entering a URL.

I wondered if anyone has experience in redefining the "home" page for their entity such that it is hosted on a free service and easy to remember, and can direct folks easily to other sites where the "main" pages are hosted.

Let me give an example of what I am thinking. We need a calendar for the church, that can be updated easily and frequently, without the additional webpage creation software (like Dreamweaver and such). I wondered about hosting this on something like Blogspot with our "main" pages linked to this page, and vice-versa.

I was also considering finding a free host for our administrative committee chairs' emails, so that it doesn't clog their personal stuff, and can be transferred easily from chair to chair as the years go by, not to mention keeping folks from tracking them down personally because of how their emails are listed on the church webpage, where we want to give people access to reach them. This would also enable us to transfer ISPs if needed.

Any creative ideas about how to do this effectively would be appreciated.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Something near and dear to my heart

There is little doubt in my mind that I appreciate the value of marriage and of my orders in the UMC.

However, in trying to answer the question of a friend I realized that my views about what that means in the long term and in the eyes of others I am a bit rogue.

There is a discussion carrying on over at Gavin's blog with Joel and me, and some other voices surrounding the story, that might be of interest.

I thought it better to point the arrow that way, rather than re-write the whole thing here.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Judical Council rulings

There was a lot of hubbub surrounding the United Methodist Judicial Council decisions 1031 and 1032. That happened back in the Fall of 2005.

The Bishop and several members of the Virginia Conference where the questions originated asked for the decisions to be reviewed by the Judicial Council at this viewing of their meeting.

The responses are decisions 1040 and 1041.

The challenges are about who "holds the keys" for membership in the local church.

While I agree that the stated "facts" of the case seem to show error on behalf of the pastor in choosing who was ready for membership...I would welcome most anyone who wants to come into the church, knowing the church is a place of fallible people, who are all trying to find their way to perfection and none of us have it right yet.

I guess the question comes to me as this...a practical one, rather than theological or such.

If the pastor is not the sole person responsible for taking persons in for membership, then how does membership in a local church take place?

How should membership be managed in the local church? (That is my question to any of my readers who would choose to answer)