Friday, September 29, 2006

Television Season

Time to begin updating.

TV has long held fascination for me, and as a pastor I live in that lovely world in between spaces, of trying to determine whether the TV is detrimental to my sprirtuality or whether I have an obligation to at least begin to get an understanding of what is out there.

Then throw in the very real truth that I appreciate and need the escapism of reading and television. I enjoy fantasy books, especially those that relate to apocalyptic literature, the end of the world, Christ figures and there is something to be said for the words from Martha Kent, on "Smallville" the other day. She said, "every world needs its heroes."

Smallville looks like a good place to start. I started watching the show in its first season, grew disinterested at the end of the season and now picked it up again. Strangely enough it was the sumemr movie about Superman that got me back to watching this show. I never saw the movie, but it did make me nostalgic for a new run at Smallville.

In the spirit of Smallville I have tried to see about the new series Heroes, and the verdict is still out in my opinion about where that is going to go, and whether it will retain my interest.

I love medical dramas, and have ever since I got hooked on ER while in college. These days it includes the old standby of ER, the best medical show on TV which is House, and the amazing combination of medical drama mixed with police thrillers. I do so love the CSI series, Bones, and the CSI spin-offs, NY and Miami.

As you may have guessed by now there are then the other series that lead toward the police interest that have caught my attention. The Unit, and my favorite show on TV - NUMB3RS.

Then I get a good cry in each week watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Yes, you read that right, I get a good cry. That show is so touching and I am amazed at the power and inspiration of looking out for others.

Each one offers me insight into the interests of my congregation, allows me an opportunity to both shut the brain down and engage it at the same time, as I learn something in every show that is on the air (that I watch).

I take it in the same vein as Deitrich Bonhoffer's statement that we ought to carry a Bible in one hand, and the newspaper in the other. In order to be effective in ministry we need to be able to engage culture, presson the door, recognize the genre of entertainment that grabs our congregations, informs their opinions, and develop those forming ideas through the lens of scripture.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Sorry for the long time between posts. I didn't run away, just got a little caught up in the scrum we call life. A funeral last week for a 10 year, and a funeral this week for a long-time church member.

I don't have much news, except to say that I am trying to formulate a post on the wonders of the new season of television, and my own hits and misses.

There are some great notes to be shared with the training of leaders that is coming from my wife's corner of the universe and I want to share some of those ideas with you all as she gets into that.

The youth group and children's ministries here at Del Rosa are on the rise, and there is news to share from that corner of the world too.

At the moment, though, time is short and there is much to do this week, so when I can gather my wits again I will post the best I can with these updates.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


A few weeks ago I was so worn down I could never imagine anything. A funny thing happened on the way to the asylum. I got some inspiration. I had to do some work to get there, but I found some movement in the forward direction.

Some of you may already know that last Fall I hit a bad spot in my life, with depression, counseling and some mild anti-depressant medication. This was the first time in my life I had ever been on drugs for depression.Previously it was all contained to anti-biotics and asthma medications. I was welcomed into a better place in my life at the start of 2006, with a better outlook, no counselor and no drugs. I saw myself heading that direction again and realized something had to change.

The first thing that changed was my attitude. I decided I would actively fight to keep my mental health. Second, I had to make some choices about how. I know several things about myself, I am an active person who loves sports, watching and playing, and I am a verbal learner. I have to talk things out. From there, I took some actions.

I took some hikes with my dog, and I started playing soccer again. This really hits the spot. This morning my car is otherwise occupied otherwise I would not be anywhere near this computer at the moment, unable to type because I would be on the soccer pitch for a pick-up game. To that end I have even imagined the south field of the Del Rosa UMC lot transformed into a soccer field.

The other part of this striving for mental health took me down a new road for counseling. Counseling in itself is not a bad thing, but if you wind up with the wrong counselor or one who is not challenging enough then the whole thing may feel completely worthless. As for me I wound up with some very non-directive counselors, and wanted someone to bounce ideas off of, develop a collegiality with, and ultimately push me to do somethings that need to be done. I found this kind of counseling in a Spiritual Director, another pastor who will become my pastor.

The denomination and friends have been talking about all the pastors needing pastors forsome time. I am a pastor to four or five other pastors, in my congregation and elsewhere, so why wouldn't I need my own. I never claimed not to need a pastor, but always found an excuse not to have one.

For a period of time I had one built in, with the pastors on staff at the churches I served, who helped in that way. When I left those locations I didn't pick up with anyone new, and the distance really set back the role they had played in my life. So, I had to find someone new. I looked to my lectionary study group, but realized they did not meet often enough, and really were looking to utilize that group for the same purposes themselves. I needed to find someone whose agenda when we met would be me. The Spiritual Director I found serves as a priest at a local retreat center (El Carmelo) in Redlands.

But, you may ask how did this post come about...all your other posts have been so short or much more to a single topic, and it doesn't seem to have stretched into the realm you mention as the title of this post "Rest".

I was flipping through the revised UM Blogroll (Thanks again Shane!) and was reading. One other person had posted on rest, and the need for it. I realized what I was doing today, in forgoing a special District Event, put on by my sister no less, and something I need to know more about - Immigration and the Church, let alone the interest that brings up in me, was about rest. I can look at my schedule and see there aren't many breaks between here and then end of October, and I needed not to "do" church stuff today. I may yet get roped into things - I have a parishioner who is dying, and another who is in surgery today, not to mention the fullness of my sermon has not been rounded out.

Kudos to you for taking time to rest, restoring your mental health and finding another person to help guide you as a Spiritual Director of sorts. Thanks too for the reminder of its importance in my own ministry.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Thank you Captain Obvious

The world is changing!

This shouldn't be news to anyone, but apparently it is affecting everyone in the same way. I have noticed on more than a few chatboards, blogs and general e-communications that folks are not keeping up with them as before. I wonder if this has to do with a very busy September, or what.

If in fact it has to do with a very busy September, for UA alumni, Wheel of Time communications, bloggers and pastors alike, then it would seem to indicate that the world is changing.

Let's just hope it is all for the good. At the moment, I am trying to get my ducks in a row for charge conference (even with it off in January), budgets, planning calendars for the coming year, special events (Kimball Coburn Ministries, Camp Sunday, Laity Sunday, and Advent), all while trying to get myself back in some sort of shape to be able to keep up with my sermons better than before.

Which raises another little observation from recent memory. I have about one or two sermons a year in which I feel like I am just way off my game. I even had one where I nearly bored myself to sleep (and I had to preach it again for the second service when I was serving in Santa Barbara). Yesterday was just such a time. The kicker for me is the realization of grace in those times. God is ever giving and forgiving, as is the congregation and sometimes a sermon speaks to them even when it doesn't speak to me. That is true grace. It came out in the formof several people telling me it was one of the best sermons I had preached. This seems to happen each time I really fumble one around in my own mind. Thanks be to God who gives us the strength to continue on.

That's all for now.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Just some thoughts

When I first arrived at Del Rosa UMC I had a conversation with our church treasurer over ice cream sundaes for our Fourth of July celebration. He was telling me about the track record of financial giving for Del Rosa and their commitment to apportionments. He offered these words on his way out the gate, "If you can kick it I can sell it."
Those words have stuck with me for some time. The statement affirms the commitment of the people of Del Rosa to a cost they can make tangible, and be given purpose.
One of the secondary statements I have heard this year is, "People do not give to a cause, but they give to people with a passion for a cause." Profound, and ever so true in its simplicity, this assertion helps me to take some stock with what is to come.
Much of what Del Rosa has been doing was started by people with a passion for a project or an idea here or there.For some time we have been looking for a centering thought. We have a mission statement which was formed some years ago and was reviewed when I arrived two years ago and change (July of 04). This year our Conference is requiring all of the churches to begin a visioning process, and it assumes a certain level of "alreadyness". That is to say the expectation is that our churches already have a vision statement or a mission statement, or that they are even in a place emotionally that they could begin to look forward with such things. That can make it hard.
I have been taking time recently to lay out my own vision for Del Rosa and for the community we serve, both our congregation and those in the Del Rosa area. I am trying to stay out of the process of creating a vision for the church, allowing one of our lay persons who is well equipped to help form a vision and draw out the hopes, and expectations of the congregation, along with several other members of the church who are now set aside as the Vision Team, per the new Conference process.
But, the real truth of these visions is going to be whether or not there are people who are passionate about the various suggestions such that "people will give to a passionate person." Because those people will make the projects and proposals tangible, thereby making it something my treasurer can "kick and sell."
Now for the hard work to get the group together and make sure we hear from everyone in the congregation, including those who have a vision for "no change at all", so that we can be certain that the direction we take is one for the whole church. The kicker will come in creating an atmosphere that allows each person to express his or her view without condemnation.