Friday, June 30, 2006

Blogging Ahead

So I haven't had much to say and haven't written, though I would not call it a blog break.
In fact,it is interesting to go through the various blogs I read on a regular basis and the number of them that now read
I guess summer turns up the heat on all of us, with so many activities and such. For right now I suppose I just take the breaks from my reading when I take my breaks and though it may look like a blog-cation to some readers, I try to update often enough that it stays active. I am not a good every-day blogger like some I know. Once or twice a week is great.
The two week or so gap in posts goes to the fact that I have been in Hawaii with family (no internet) and another week at Annual Conference. They had internet on campus at the University of Redlands, but since I am not a student there and do not have the regular password and username for the University. I chose to use my time during session where there was wireless internet service actually listening to session.
We did some work of the conference, and did some great work in our groups around campus that dealt with the particular resolutions and rules changes we had before the Conference.
All in all a good couple of weeks. Now I have had to work at catching up on the work of the church and moving forward with that.
Now it is onward and upward with four solid days of fireworks sales.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Another Meme

Faith Reflection Meme:

1. List three words that describe your faith.

simplified, challenged, educating

2. Describe one belief about which you are very certain and one belief with which you struggle.

One certain belief? God is bigger than I can imagine.

One belief I struggle with? What am I to "DO" with this faith.

3. What is your mission in life?

I'm supposed to have a mission????!!

4. Describe one thing that interferes with you authentically living out your faith.

I get to a spot where I have an idea or plan, and am overhwelmed by the details of such and freeze.

5. What is your favorite story from the Hebrew Scriptures? Why?

Jael and the tent stake. I like the powerful woman image.

6. What is your favorite New Testament story? Why?

The stoningof Steven comes to mind right now...not really sure why...maybe a martyr complex before Annual Conference.

7. Describe a meaningful action you took because of your faith.

Being a camp counselor/dean for Junior High Youth because Camp was so important and that was the opening available. A great learning from that.

8. Does your faith differ from that of your parents? If so, how?

Yes, it would have to, because my parents' faith is different from each other's. As for how, boy, I am certain I could not enumerate the ways.

9. Who or what was most important in the development of your faith?


Friday, June 09, 2006

An Empath?

You scored as Judge. You are a Judge Empath, one who is a "truthsayer". You can tell truth from lies, good from evil. You do not tolerate wrong doing. You are a defender of the good and the innocent.



Fallen Angel














What Kind of Empath Are You?
created with

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Buzz Word Bingo

I have a long meeting coming up this next week. What's more it is one of those tough meetings where I am entering it with only half a clue about what is being talked about...much like a church meeting in a new church for the first year and a half. We are going to cover history, challenges, opportunities, new business ventures, and take on about 20 new voices to a previous board of 9.

Following that adventure I have Annual Conference. One never knows for certain what is going to fall into the lap of Annual Conference, onto the floor. I do know there are still some major issues we need to deal with and intending to do so. I also know we have some new money issues, and that always opens an interesting conversation, and quite heated.

So I am guessing I might need to pay attention to these meetings. What's more I have a short attention span and need to do something to help keep me interacting with the event. Imagine my surprise when I came across a wonderful tool on the internet the other day to better engage my brain at these meetings.

I found a website for Buzzword Bingo. What a great invention. Now I have to come up with nearly 30 words for each of the bingo cards (one of the tools even lets you create your own). I expect to share these around the table of the business meeting next week, and with a few select friends at Annual Conference.

I do need some help with these, if you will. Imagine you are at a church trustees meeting (not the meeting I am attending next week), what might be some substantial "buzzwords" that would be used during your meeting? The second one would be "Buzzwords" of your Annual Conference this year, or if you have not had yours yet, ones that you expect will deliver much impact.

To get you started here are some I had in mind:

Business: Established, Acumen, Portfolio, Sunder, Aggregate, Zoning Laws.

Annual Conference: Biblical Authority, Windfall, CAC/DAC (Conference Average Compensation/Denominational Compensation), Overflowing (theme: To be the cup overflowing), Point of Order, Cokesbury.

Please add your fodder to the gristmill.


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Looking Back

Reviewing the long posts on the good sheep it makes me think I should have just written the sermon down (I only take small notes with me when I preach...I don't write it all out). The sermon was shorter, more interesting, and seemed to carry more punch than the long sets of notes. But hey, might as well put down what I saw in the least I can use it more wisely in the future right?

Friday, June 02, 2006

A good sheep Part II

The text from John 10

John 10
The Shepherd and His Flock
1"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." 6Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.

7Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

And from John 10
the sheep listen to his voice: Might as well begin at the beginning right. Listening is the first thing when it comes to becoming a good sheep. In Wesleyan circles this is translated to prevenient grace, the grace that is calling us to God from the very start, before we ever realize it is God calling. When we do realize, we turn, and this is called repentance. Repentance is the first of many stages of listening to the voice of God.

The sheep are led out: A good sheep allows itself to be led. In fact a good sheep needs to be led and will not do the leading.

sheep follow him: This is a bit of knowing the shepherd. There is a story I was told some years ago about a shepherd who during one of the wars in the Middle East had his sheep confiscated and put into a common pen with several other flocks of sheep. When the time came and the war was over the shepherd returned to the pen and asked the military official if he could get his sheep. The official replied the shepherd could not because the sheep were all categorized and the paperwork would need to be addressed and the numbers verified, and that it would take weeks. He could submit his request at this time and then come back later. The young shepherd, undeterred, asked the official to verify the piece of paper he had been given when his sheep were taken away. The official recognized it and saw how many sheep were being requested and that it was not a large flock. This development only further encouraged the soldier that he was right to wait it out as there were several large flocks in the pen. The young shepherd asked the soldier to open the pen door for a moment, while he showed him a piece of knowledge every shepherd has. The soldier grudgingly obliged. The young shepherd went to the gate and whistled his peculiar whistle. Out came the small flock of about 8 sheep. The soldier was duly impressed and let the young shepherd go.

Sheep run away from a stranger's voice: The very reason this worked was because the other sheep in the pen heard the soldier’s voice and ran away. The only reason the sheep of the young shepherd came forward was because of the trust they had in their own shepherd and the knowledge they had of his whistle.

Sheep who enter through [Jesus, the gate] will be saved: This is a salvation story. There is one way into the pen and that is through the gate. Jesus opens the pen door for all who will come. As we have already discussed those who do not know the shepherd (Jesus) will not come to the gate because they do not trust the shepherd and will not go willingly where the shepherd is leading – namely into the pen.

Sheep will come in and go out, and find pasture: The pen is a place of safety, but the pasture is a place of nourishment and some chance of danger. However, it is the shepherd who will then lead the sheep in and out of the pen, to ensure they have the opportunity to receive the nourishment they need, with food and exercise, and fellowship (Goodness! Aren’t those the very things we need as humans?)

Sheep have life to the full: Well, well, I guess maybe the truth comes to the front now. Having a safe place to come together (the church) and the skillful work of a master shepherd (Jesus), as well as a place to graze and frolic (the world) life is lived to the full.

My sheep know me: See above illustration of the young shepherd.

There shall be one flock and one shepherd, from sheep of several pastures: This is the hard part for us to realize. Our shepherds are limited by the time and space they have for shepherding. Their flocks are small enough to travel and graze without overgrazing. This is where there become several shepherds for a large flock, and the master shepherd is the one who comes at the end of the day to check on the hired shepherds and the entire flock, gathering them into a common pen at the end of the season for shearing, breeding and butchering. The challenge for us to understand is that the little shepherds and the master shepherd are the same.

(As a pastor I am not the hired shepherd, just another of the sheep who tells the flock of what I know. I have to follow the master shepherd as well, and it is the safety I find in God, through Jesus that I can come to share with others – the same task we all have once we have become followers of Jesus)


The Good Sheep

A few weeks ago the scripture setting was "THE GOOD SHEPHERD". Like many in the clergy I have heard this story and preached this story several times. Strangely enough I have preached this particular text more than any other (By chance, I did pulpit fill for Good Shepherd Sunday on several occasions before I got my own full-time preaching gig). I love the text, but really needed to get a new look at the text. It was striking enough for me and my congregation that several of them asked me to share it in a larger setting, and so this is my larger setting for now.

To start, the text from Psalm 23.
I will follow this up with another post including the text from John 10

Psalm 23
A psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, [a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

I reviewed and re-read the texts. I pulled out the pieces that describe the sheep more than the shepherd.

Psalm 23
I shall not be in want;
made to lie down;
led beside quiet waters;
restored in my soul;
guided in paths of righteousness for his name's sake;
I will fear no evil;
I am comforted by your rod and your staff;
my cup overflows;
I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

I debriefed these from the standpoint of the sheep in some of the following ways.

I shall not be in want: Pretty simple, I need a place to eat sleep and drink. I need exercise, and company and the good sheep is content with what it has.

Made to lie down: This one I took a page of learning from my dog, who has some of the same traits as the sheep I've watched over the years. Dagny has a wonderful disposition but given the opportunity she would explore all day, checking under the trees, chasing lizards, playing with other dogs and humans, and would always be active, even eating. Some of us are like this when we are on fire for God, we can't stop moving as we see the needs of the world and are constantly trying to overcome them with our own efforts. We are made to lie down and take rest.

led beside quiet waters: A good sheep is led. If you try to herd sheep from behind I am told they will simply come around and follow you. The good sheep is led, not trying to strike out on the adventure for itself, but simply following the leader. What's more is that the leading is to waters, waters of life, and waters of recovery all of which are not running so swiftly as to be a risk to life or limb of the good sheep.

restored in my soul: This is a truly powerful image. The good sheep is restored of soul, not because of what it did to restore its own soul, and be made right with all of creation and God, but instead based on something else. By being good sheep we find restoration. That's pretty cool in my book. (And God's book too for that matter)

guided in paths of righteousness for his name's sake: A good sheep is guided and directed. This goes back to the being led by a patient shepherd. Are we listening to the master and watching for the leader, not just the sheep right in front of us (which could lead to real danger)

I will fear no evil: This is an awesome statement. Particularly in a society run by fear. The thigns we fear are more capable of causing action than the movement toward that we love. In the case of the good sheep there is no fear, not because of a lack of danger, but because of unfailing trust in the shepherd. It is no coincidence that the most common phrase of the New Testament is "Fear Not". We are a fearful people, and that is not what we are intended, hence the reminder that a good sheep fears no evil.

I am comforted by your rod and your staff: The rod and the staff as comfort is an oddimage. These are for many people instruments of fear, especially those whose lives have been marked by abusive situations. They are instruments of power and control and in the wrong hands are abusive weapons. But the good sheep is comforted by such tools, simply because they are used to correct and inform. The good sheep doesn't mind a little correction here and there because it helps keep it on the safe path.

my cup overflows: How rich it is to be in the presence of bounty. The good sheep has bounty, so much so that the cup of life, the cup of blessing and the cup of nourishment all overflow - whatever your metaphor the cup is overflowing. The good sheep didn't pour it so that it spills, but the good sheep realizes that the cup is simply overflowing and has the joy of partaking in the cup.

I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever: The good sheep finds itself under the care and guardianship with the same shepherd forever. There is no slaughterhouse in store for the good sheep. There is no death or evil that can overcome it. There is no robber-baron who will come to snatch the good sheep away and take it to another place to live. It cannot be done. The good sheep gets to live in the lap of righteousness and plenty (maybe not luxury - overdone riches) for the rest of eternity. Pretty swettdeal if you ask me.

That's it for the Psalm. I did however fuse some of this with the lesson from John 10 and will do some work on it yet.

For those of you who are exegetical experts or pastoral (of the field) types with shepherding experiences of your own please feel free to help correct and modify what is here.