Wednesday, January 31, 2007

An Update

Just a directional arrow for those of you with interest. My sister Debbie Camphouse, pastor at Hemet UMC as their associate with youth and pastor in charge of the hispanic congregation, is now up and blogging.

Things I still need to talk about:
reconnecting with old friends
making disciples (with thanks to Bishop Mary Ann Swenson and GBOD)

Monday, January 29, 2007

First Love

Sermon Notes for 1 Corinthians 13, & Luke 4:21-30
Preached January 28, 2007

Some of you may think me totally nuts, but I started planting my garden this week. I know it is about 80 degrees outside today, but I also know that there is likely to be another freeze around here before long. I have been out cultivating the ground, getting all the old dead growth out, the weeds gone, and preparing the soil. But I didn't plant any of the seeds outdoors. I potted all kinds of plants for the garden and put them in the front room, where the weather is pretty constant, they can get some direct sunlight, and I water them as needed.

In the planting I learned a little bit about the passages from 1 Corinthians 13.
We have been talking about Spiritual Gifts, and 1 Corinthians 13 is about how to use those spiritual gifts. I thought about the seeds I planted and the dirt I used. I took the seeds, I took the dirt, and I brought them together. I didn't make either one, but allowed God to work. I had to choose the right seeds for the right soil. I remembered using some soil last year for planting that didn't sprout anything, and I realized it had been contaminated by the lye from the concrete construction in the area. I also realized that some of the seeds had been destroyed, crushed beyond use, or irradiated, or just gotten too old.

I discovered a truth about the seeds and the dirt. Spiritual gifts are the seeds from God, and our lives are the dirt, and my responsibility as the pastor is to help you find the best growing conditions. All Spiritual Gifts are given for the building up of the entire body of Christ in a community of believers. I may have to add some nutrients to the dirt, or help find the right seed to grow in your soil. And then I remembered the old 7th grade science experiment using plants and love, and how the plant that was loved and cared for grew better. The seeds grow and produce when they are loved, by the community, by the soil as it nourishes and enriches the plant growing there, and by the creator who made them both.

Some of the seeds I have seen at Del Rosa UMC that I have seen sprout are:
Music - LeeAnn Malouf
Craftsmanship - Bob Brendza (the craft of keeping our sound system running smoothly)
Hospitality - Chuck and Nancy Denton
Wisdom - Sylvia Henry
Helps- Nicole, Desire, Patricia, Christine and Jason Fisher
Adminstration - Ruth Kilgore
Prophecy - Carl Gerber
Evangelist - Javier Flores
Compassion - Frank Strickland (Similar to that of St. Francis, one with all of creation)
Teacher - Marianne Hussey

If you are wondering what your gifts might be, let me suggest a few places to check it out. has a new site, with a spiritual gifts inventory. Willow Creek has a good site for discovery as well.

And I have seen a video that reminds me that if one of us is not here,then what is missing from the body of Christ. I began to think about what gifts are missing from the body of Christ at Del Rosa UMC. The Apostle -the one who has seen Jesus and is sent to teach all that has been commanded. The Disciple - one who has seen Jesus and sits at his feet learning all that can be learned. The Missionary - one who has been sent from a community to another community in the name of Jesus Christ. The Speaking of Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues - one who communicates the direct word of God for the building up of the people of God.

As we are missing these gifts of the Spirit I wondered if maybe it is time for us to go out and do some recruiting, with the message, "We see this gift in you, given by God and we need that here at Del Rosa. Won't you come join us?" Or maybe we need to do some discovery about what the full complement of gifts already present here at Del Rosa may be, and allow them to grow, removing the blocks that hinder us. The ones like those that confronted Jesus to say, "Isn't this Joseph's son (the carpenter)?"

Jesus greeted them in love. As they sought to throw him out of the community and kill him he responeded in love. He reminded them that he was growing the Spiritual Gifts God had already sown in him. When they responded that he was a banana and they really hated bananas, he simply let it be known that whoever had taught them their flora and told them what a banana looked like was wrong. Jesus was a different kind of fruit, and was bearing the kind of fruit he was made to produce.

When they still looked at him funny and were ready to throw him off the cliff to his death, love prevailed. "Love is patient, love is kind. Love bears all things. Love is not rude or demanding of its own way." I don't know about you, but if a crowd was ready to kill me, I would have lost it. I would have pushed back, I would have been rude and ugly. I would not have been patient with them, or kind. Jesus just walked right through the crowd. Love prevailed.

When we let love prevail the fruit we are given to grow will grow to its fullest.

"And these three remain, faith, hope and love. the greatest of these is love." When it comes to growing the right fruit, we can have faith in God. We can have hope in the individual, or we can love both. The greatest of these is love. Amen.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

In it for the prizes

Do you blog?

willing to win an iPod shuffle? A $50 gift certificate? other great prize?

You might want to cruise on over to why do you blog

take the short survey and destroy my chances of winning, but add your voice to the study.



Some interesting news is out there for your amusement.

If you are a fan of tongue-in-cheek this is for you:

Lark News (Church News):
The Onion (All kinds of News):
The Brushback (Sports News):
Aldersgate Gazette (A church blog):

For those keeping tabs on Methoblogs you might see about adding the Gazette to the bloglines.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Allan's Blog

Gotta say I have actually heard three of those comments from Allan...and I about fell over from shock.

I heard folks in my current congregation at Del Rosa say:

And of course I am in the middle of working on #5


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Certain Man

“Oh, No, Don’t Give Us Anymore Money”

A certain man was cleaning up the outside area of his church one Saturday morning. A small group of the congregation gathered every Saturday morning to sweep, rake, trim bushes and pick up trash to prepare the church grounds for the Sunday service. Following the clean-up the group gathered for a time of fellowship at a nearby donut shop. It was a good way to spend a few hours early Saturday morning.

One Saturday morning as the certain man raked leaves at the church a stranger drove up. The stranger got out of his car and approached the certain man. The stranger stated that he lived in the neighborhood and frequently passed by the church. He said the church looked so nice, so well kept, and the he especially like the ringing of the church chimes.

The stranger went on to say he was unchurched at the time and wasn’t interested in becoming a member of any church. The stranger, in spite of his lack of interest in joining a church said he would like to make a donation to the certain man’s church. You can imaging the surprise in the certain man when the stranger stated that he would like to make a donation of one thousand dollars to the certain man’s church.

But even more surprising was the certain man’s reply to the stranger’s generous offer. You see, the certain man replied….”Oh no, don’t give us any money. You see, we don’t know what to do with money we already have”.

The certain man said it had been over a year since the church had received a very large gift of cash. Although there had been many extensive discussions on what to do with the cash gift, none of the money had been spent. As a matter of fact the money had been invested and a year late the church had even more money it did not know what to do with. The church had not even been capable of sharing or tithing 10 percent of the gift. Some of the money had been designated for roof repair….even if it was ten years before the roof leaked. This would sound funny the certain man stated, if it were not so sad.

So after a year an Ad-Hoc Committee was appointed to try and figure out what to do with the money. The committee only had authority to make recommendations on how to spend the money. It should come as no surprise when the Ad-Hoc Committee’s recommendation was to keep ninety percent of the gift for the churches personal use and to share ten percent with those in need.

The certain man told the stranger that the congregation was a warm, loving, caring congregation. The church had a good pastor, a good growing youth group, a good women’s group, a great choir. The church had held two prayer vigils, started a Monday Prayer Breakfast group, had embarked on a crusade to share 10,000 crosses, had made a generous gift to the “Heifer Project”, and shared with the needy children at Christmas.

The certain man said it was hard to understand why the church had such difficulty in sharing it’s gift with others – willing to share ten percent with those in need and to keep ninety percent for themselves. You see, it would appear that the churches number one purpose and priority had become the structure (the building). Many referred to God’s church as the “Facility”. The term “Facility” made the certain man’s skin crawl.

And so the stranger drove away – puzzled by the certain man’s statement. “We don’t need your money….You see, we don’t know what to do with the money we already have.

Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.


Matthew 10:8

“Give as freely as you have received” – Jesus gave the disciples a principle to guide their actions as they ministered to others. “Give as freely as you have received” Because God has showered us with His blessings, we should give generously to others of our time, love, and possessions.

2 Corinthians 10:7-9

“You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the scriptures say, “Godly people give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will not be forgotten!”

People many hesitate to give generously to God because they worry about having enough money left to meet their own needs. Paul assured the Corinthians that God was able to meet their needs. The person who gives only a little will receive only a little in return. Don’t let a lack of Faith keep you from giving cheerfully and generously. Our attitude is more important than the amount we give. When we invest what God has given us in His work, He will provide us with even more to Give in His service.

Matthew 6:19-21

“Don’t store up treasures here on Earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in Heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.

There is sense in which our giving of our money to God’s work is like investing in Heaven. But we should seek to please God not only in our giving but also in fulfilling God’s purpose in all we do.

Spiritual vision is our capacity to see clearly what God wants us to do and to see the world from His point of view. But this spiritual insight can be easily clouded. Self-serving desires, interests and goals block that vision. Serving God is the best way to restore it. We should not be fascinated with our possessions, lest they possess us.

-A Certain Man


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Making Disciples

This year I have a goal of "Making Disciples" in my congregation. This should not come as any real surprise to any who are in ministry. I suppose it is kinda like a cook saying, "I think this year I am gonna fix me some food."

The United Methodist mission statement is, "To Make Disciples of Jesus Christ."

I feel like I have spent the first two years either putting out fires, addressing issues related to church structure, purposes (including my own), trying to determine the interests and focus of the congregation, or other such vareities of ministerial experience.

The challenge is to listen. In order to determine how to make disciples I am going to have to make a concerted effort to listen; to hear the voice of God for the community; to hear the passions of individuals in the church; to teach others to listen to each other so they can hear confirmation of their call to ministry; and to listen to the complaints about how I do pastoral ministry.

All of this with the understanding that this is what God wants from each of us: to serve the glory of the Kingdom with our gifts and talents as the Holy Spirit has enabled us.

Now, for the additional hard work. While listening I need to be able to address each individual as exactly that, a person who is deserving of his or her own plan for using their talents. There is no "formula" for making disciples, no matter what the church grand poobahs may say. There are some ways to help people discern their passion and how God is calling them, and we may need to find some ways to create that learning environment.

Once a person understands his or her calling we are going to have to work at helping them find their partner in ministry (recognizing first and foremost that the pastor is not the default partner for each person in ministry).

This then makes the need for each person to engage in ministry palpable as they have developed "a prayer, a passion, and a partner". The prayer is first the discernment of God's will. The passion is then tapping into their skills and talents for ministry. The partner is to ensure accountability and success, as the disciples were sent out in twos, just as the disciples of today ought to be sent in pairs.


From Sunday's Sermon

A few notes on G.A.T.E. (Gifted and Talented Evangelists) from Sunday's Sermon January 21st.

A gate is the entryway and the place where one comes and goes from a place. Today's text from 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us of Jesus Christ as the gate to Heaven, and the Holy Spirit as the gate to Christ.

Let me first start by saying that today's sermon is for those who have already said in their hearts and with their voices that "Jesus is Lord". If you have not made this claim then I encourage you to make that claim, to stay and to listen, to hear what can happen if you do.

I want you to get your Bibles out, to grab the bulletin copy of the text for today, and a pencil, a pen or a highlighter to follow along.

Let us look at what it is that God tells us happens in the Holy Spirit, the gifts we are to use on the outside walls of the church, reminded again that we are to be in the world, not holed up behind the walls of the building. We are also gifted to be sharing the word of God with the world around us.

(Borrowing from the NRSV, from some notes from Willow Creek spiritual gifts definitions, and Wikipedia)

1 Corinthians 12

Spiritual Gifts

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

One Body with Many Members

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

the body does not consist of one member but of many

Utterance of Wisdom

See It is the special gift whereby the Spirit endows particular Christians with an understanding of God's will and work as it relates to the living of life.

See James 3:13-17

Utterance of Knowledge

It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to understand in an exceptional way the great truths of God's Word and to make them relevant to specific situations in the church.

See Ephesians 3:14-19.


It is the special gift whereby the Spirit provides Christians with extraordinary confidence in God's promises, power, and presence so that they can take heroic stands for their future of God's work in the church.

See Hebrews 11.


It is the special gift whereby the Spirit employs certain Christians to restore health to the sick.

See James 5:13-16, Luke 9:1-2.

Working of Miracles

A striking interposition of divine intervention by God in the universe by which the ordinary course and operation of nature is overruled, suspended, or modified.

prophecy (see prophet)

Discernment of Spirits

It is the special gift whereby the Spirit certain Christians to know with assurance whether some behavior is of God or of Satan.

See Acts 5:3-6, Acts 16:16-18.

Speaking in Tongues:

It is the ability "to speak in the tongues of Men or Angels" for the edification of the body.

See: 1 Cor. 12:10

Interpretation of Tongues:

It is the ability to discern the languages of another for the edification of the body.

See: 1 Cor. 12:10


It is the gift whereby the Spirit appoints certain Christians to lead, inspire and develop the churches of God by the proclamation and the teaching of true doctrine.

See Acts 12:1-5, Acts 14:21-23.


It is the special gift whereby the Spirit empowers certain Christians to interpret and apply God's revelation in a given situation.

See 1 Corinthians 14:1-5, 1 Corinthians 14:30-33, 1 Corinthians 14:37-40


It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables particular Christians to communicate the truths of God's Word so that others can learn.

See Hebrews 5:12-14.

deeds of power (see Miracles)


It is the spiritual gift whereby the Spirit empowers certain Christians to willingly bear the burdens of other Christains and help them in such a way that they can do their tasks more effectively.

See Acts 6:2-4.


It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to motivate, direct and inspire God's people in such a way that they voluntarily and harmoniously work together to do the Church's work effectively.

See Hebrews 13:7, Judges 3:10, Exodus 18:13-16.

(At the end of the sermon I was reminded of this video from "the church you know"
We are indeed one body with many parts, and we need all the parts, in the church and especially once we "go to work" for the building up of the entire community of God beyond the walls of the church)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Cadence February 2007

Dear Del Rosa Family,

Getting the New Year underway I was reminded of the need for redemption - the ability to put the old away and to be made new in Christ. Barbara Plunk shared with us at Monday Morning Prayer Breakfast a favorite poem from some years back that speaks to this very theme of redemption.

The Touch of the Master's Hand

It was battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
Hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile.
"What am I bid, good people", he cried,
"Who starts the bidding for me?"
"One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?"
"Two dollars, who makes it three?"
"Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three",

But, No,
From the room far back a grey haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet,
As sweet as the angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said "What now am I bid for this old violin?"
As he held it aloft with its' bow.
"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?"
"Two thousand, Who makes it three?"
"Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone", said he.

The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
"We just don't understand."
"What changed its' worth?"
Swift came the reply.
"The Touch of the Masters Hand."

And many a man with life out of tune,
All battered with bourbon and gin,
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin.
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
by Myra Brooks Welch

In 1921, Myra Brooks Welch heard a speaker address a group of students. She said she became filled with light, and "Touch of the Master's Hand wrote itself in 30 minutes!" She sent it anonymously to her church news bulletin. She felt it was a gift from God, and didn't need her name on it.

The particular piece of this story I want to lift out is that once again the poem was not so much about the who or the where, but the what. The what in this case was the sharing of her gifts with the congregation for the glory of God. Redemption comes at a price, the price is having been made new creatures, we have new responsibilities, those gifts from God that have a place in ministry to and for the people of God, who have heard the Good News of Jesus Christ, and those who have yet to be redeemed.

I have also been recently convicted about the role of ministry for the congregation and for the pastor and wanted to share with you once again the quote from John Westerhoff.

“If you are a pastor who is spending more than fifteen hours a week working in projects outside the congregation, you are probably wasting your time. We need you in the congregation equipping the saints for their demanding ministry in the world.”
On the other hand Westerhoff said to the laity, “If you are a layperson who is spending more than fifteen hours a week working in projects within the church, you are probably wasting your time. Your ministry consists not of running errands for the pastor but in sharing in Christ’s ministry in the world.”

You all have great gifts to share and the Lay Leadership Committee will be sending out “Call to Ministry” questionnaires in the near future asking you for the ways in which you have heard your call to be in ministry with and for the Del Rosa community.


Pastor David

Sunday, January 14, 2007

By Water and the Spirit

Sermon January 14, 2007

Begin with a lullaby

- The itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain
And washed the spider out
Out came the sun
And dried up all the rain
And the itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the spout again

The spider in this story finds redemption. A new life, and a chance to begin again. Our scriptures today remind us that we have the same gift of life.

“Do not fear for you have been redeemed,” God tells the prophet.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

The true power of this passage comes not in the hearing for Israel when told them by Isaiah, but for us when we see the reality of such things borne out in Jesus Christ.

God doesn’t leave it open to interpretation, but tells us exactly how the redemption occurs.

Look at the spaces in between. The lectionary does not cover verses 19-20 in Luke. Here we find the transition from the days of the prophets to the days of Jesus. In doing so Luke helps us make the same transition of redemption from water and fire to water and fire. Please be aware that when the waters come and the fire comes, God doesn’t say that they are not going to hurt or destroy, but that they will not overwhelm or consume us, due to God’s presence with us.

From water/floods by water/baptism. From fire by fire/holy spirit. –Peace comes upon us. God calls - soothes by voice, as in the lullaby, with reminders of God’s power: Use water fountain on chancel to calm/soothe. Use candles/flames for centering. The fact that God can and does do this shows just how big our God is.

Understanding the Bigness of God means looking beyond our normalized views. JB Philips writes “Do you think God understands RADAR?”

The question reminds me of a commercial naking its rounds on YouTube that shows a series of events in the future, that have not yet come into being, but someone had the imagination for them. God has an even bigger imagination than that.

(the YouTube posting is of a commercial by AT&T from 1993 found here

Do you think God understands the internet/computers, quantum physics? Look beyond the “old views of God to open your eyes to find the God of today, the needs that can be met with this congregation and these people in our community.

Understanding the redemptive largeness of God, also means accepting our fallenness and the need to repent.

What does it mean to personally repent and what does repentance mean to your life?

Not the who, but the what. In Luke we are told about the Baptism of Jesus, but not the where or who does this.

Our call to ministry is the same, it isn’t about who does the work, but what work is done in the name of the Lord.

John Westerhoff, used to say, “If you are a pastor who is spending more than fifteen hours a week working in projects outside the congregation, you are probably wasting your time. We need you in the congregation equipping the saints for their demanding ministry in the world.”
On the other hand Westerhoff said to the laity, “If you are a layperson who is spending more than fifteen hours a week working in projects within the church, you are probably wasting your time. Your ministry consists not of running errands for the pastor but in sharing in Christ’s ministry in the world.”

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Bro Greg has been hosting the Bloggys for 2006.

I do hope you'll go check them out and enter your own votes.

But, for your amusement and reading here is my own set of choices.

1) Best blog site of 2006
Gavin @
Packed with juicy nuggets, developed sense of humor, great videos, intentional study, and creative interest

2) Most scholarly blog site:
Tyler Williams @
I know I can't understand half of what comes out on his blog, that makes it pretty scholarly in my book

3) Most controversial blog site:
Wesleyblog, any of its incarnations, with Shane writing, with the commando take-over and the revised edition since Shane is no longer using it to write...that's pretty controversial to me.

4) Most spiritual blogger
He always seems to find something that hits with where my spiritual journey is taking me, and posts about spirituality in the larger context of life, not just the inward turn we so often associate with "spiritual life"

5) Most amusing blogger:
Jonathan Norman @

6) Most consistant blogger:
John @ Locusts & Honey

7) Nicest dressed blogger:
I can go with Rev. Mommy on this one. She made a good argument for such, and I see nothing but finery on her site.

8) Blogger most likely to succeed:
Natalie @ Beth hit the nail on the head with this one, and watching Natalie from afar has been nothing but awe inspiring.

9) Blogger who has made the most impact on your life personally, spiritually or theologically
Hey, I gotta go with Erika @
on this one, namely because of the ongoing young clergy conversations she has undertaken in the California-Pacific Conference, and the means by which she has roped me into this transforming event.

10) Blogger most likely to vanish and be found years later presiding as tribal queen on a small island in the Pacific
Molly @
after all she does work in the California-Pacific Annual Conference, and we do have two island nations as part of our appointment system, plus she's married to a military man, therefore likely to arrive in such remote places.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


They say you have really integrated into a culture when you begin to dream in that language. For those who have spoken to me in Spanish of late you may laugh to hear that I was once good enough to do just that when I was in college (lo, those many years ago).

But, I know that I have now integrated into the culture of the blogosphere.

Last night I had a dream. Jeff the Baptist lost his church (not sure how), and put out an appeal to those who might be able to help. Somehow I wound up on this list, and had a conversation with Jeff in person. We talked, and I shared with him that the appointments in this conference were very impacted and probably not right for him.

So, I got on the phone and contacted Bishop Willimon in my former Conference (North Alabama), Gavin Richardson and Jonathon Norman to ask them to contact their Bishop (ensuring that Gavin's zipper was zipped first), and RevAbi to contact her Bishop.

Somehow along the line Jeff made it clear he was not a Methodist, which I assured him would be alright in a Methodist Congregation, as long as he needed a job and so many of our churches were without good pastoral leadership or without appointments at all.

I don't know if we managed to convert Jeff at the end of the day, but it doesn't really matter. I knew I had integrated into the blogosphere!


Money, Money, Money

Last night was charge conference for Del Rosa UMC. We served a potluck supper, and our table was quite literally overflowing. Not bad for a group of 30 people, two six foot tables and a four foot tabel stretched toegther, and lots of casseroles and salads, and more than a few desserts.

What I found to be an interesting juxtaposition during the evening was the conversation surrounding the budget. This year we are trying a new format where we disclose in the budget all of our expected expenditures, and show the conversant income side to these expenditures. The finance committee hashed all of this out over the course of three meetings, and then presented the budget to the Administrative Council, that then tweaked it a bit more and passed the entire budget.

Last night, the budget became an issue once more as persons did not feel that the income side and the outflow side matched well enough, though the bottom lines matched up. Additionally there was concern that we would be having to pay higher apportionments with this new budget, and that we ought not to include our missional giving as a line item in the budget.

Now, there were two interesting pieces to this particular part of the conversation for me. The first is the very obvious part where we are required at the end of the year to show all expenditures and all income for the local congregation to file our IRS forms, and to be in compliance with our accounting to the Conference Office. The concern comes that we are trying to show it up front at the beginning of the year as we try to establish our patterns of giving and show what it really costs to run the mission and life of the Del Rosa Congregation.

Let me also say that this "new" accounting procedure came out of last year's stewardship moments in church. We had four moments and during three of the four there were questions raised about providing goals for the local church in the area of giving, as we previously had not established a budget until after we had received all of our pledges. This year the finance committee tried hard to provide goals, and to list the areas we also give to in missions. During this year's stewardship time there was some concern among the congregation that they did not understand this "new"method of accounting. When talking with the finance committee we spoke about the reality that this change would probably take about five years to fully get implemented since it was new and would take time to get it right and to educate the congregation. This is indeed the case as borne out last night.

Now, for the juxtaposition and the moment of clarity. We had this beautiful table of foodl aid out before us, with breads, meats, vegetables, fruits, desserts, dairy and more. We "showed" the people our "goals" for the night with the plates we brought with us to serve into, and each brought what he or she could. At the end of the night we had so many leftovers that persons who had brought items were trying hard to find someone else to take them home so that they did not have to eat these items again and could continue in their menu rotation at home.

It seems to me that the church budget is not unlike the potluck. We bring what we can, hoping to provide as much as we can, with our various "dishes" laid out at each table. At the conclusion of the evening we had leftovers. In the church this past several years we had leftovers too, that we set aside for other missions, and to pay future bills. I am sure that showing how many need to be "fed" with what we have to provide is part and parcel of the budgeting process.

May you find abundance in your giving and in your sharing in and through your budgets.



A special hat tip to Andy Stoddard for his posting on Christian Quotation of the Day.

Last night we talked during Church Conference about evangelism, about how little in our budget is directly dedicated to evangelism, about how the youth have been growing their group through evangelism, and ultimately it is not the job of a committee or the pastor alone to do evangelism.

Evangelism is, as St. Francis so keenly put it, to "Preach the word daily, using words if necessary". We tell the story of God's love in our lives, the change we understand because of Jesus Christ and that it might have something to offer someone else, and this is evangelism.

Our need as Christians is to hear the cries of the hurting world, and to want to add comfort to that need with the insertion of Jesus Christ, in our bodies, our hearts, our monies and our compassion.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Discoveries - Sermon Dec 31, 2006

December 31, 2006

First Sunday after Christmas

“New Discoveries”

Luke 2:15-38

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Shepherds Discover the child the angels proclaimed. The Shepherds also proclaimed the discovery to others in the area, making the discovery of the baby Jesus all the more prevalent.

21After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

The Name of Jesus is discovered. Joshua, Yeshua, God with us, aka Emmanuel

22When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

The discovery of purification, “making right with God”. There are two types of purification going on in this account. One takes place for the child after 31 days and the other takes place after 40 days for the mother who has had a boy child (a female child requires 80 days after the birth for purification to take place). Please note that Mary is paying with a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons. The full payment would have included a sacrifice of a lamb, and Mary and Joseph pay only the birds because they are poor. From this we might be inclined to understand that the Wise men from the East bearing their gifts of Gold Frankincense and Myrrh have not arrived yet. We can’t draw this conclusion outright because the account of the Shepherds and the purification rights are here in Luke, but Matthew is the Gospel that tells us the story of the Magi/Wise Men.

25Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Simeon discovers “the consolation of Israel”, the baby Jesus. Israel has been in turmoil since the very beginning and the consolation of Israel signifies something different for the people.

Simeon discovers the salvation of Israel and the revelation to the Gentiles. Simeon gives us a glimpse into the future of Jesus, as he reclaims the lost sheep of Israel, and reaches out to the people outside of the “Children of Abraham”. The idea of salvation is juxtaposed with the salvation event that Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus have come to the temple to enact, the salvation of Jesus and the redemption from the priesthood, along with Mary and Joseph redeemed from the blood of birth.

33And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Mary and Joseph discover more of Jesus purpose. (If time insert the purposes of Del Rosa UMC) – That Jesus would bring about the rise and fall of many in Israel (i.e. the people and their relationship with God is increased and the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes are brought low).

House church

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

House church is an informal term for a group of Christians gathering regularly or spontaneously in a home or on grounds not normally used for worship services.

Others meet in homes because they prefer to meet informally, because they believe it is an effective way of creating community and engaging in outreach, or because they believe small family-sized churches were a deliberate apostolic pattern in the first century and intended by Christ. Some, perhaps, meet in homes for several of these reasons.

Scriptural basis

Those Christians who meet together in homes usually do so because of a desire to return to the simplicity of Church meetings as found in their interpretation of the Christian Bible and specifically the New Testament. In their view, rather than formalized meetings and doctrine, the first Christian church showed a simplicity of fellowship and practice in the New Testament. Instead of seeing Christian belief and practice as series of Church meetings, the return to Biblical Church stresses a way of life that is lived towards others.

Structure and organization


Some within the house church "movement" consider that the main issue for people who practice their faith in this manner is not the house but more the type of meeting that takes place; other titles which are sometimes used to describe this movement more functionally are "simple church", "relational church", "primitive church", "bodylife", "organic church" and similar terms.


Some house churches demonstrate a New Testament belief in the "priesthood of all believers" and that Jesus Christ alone is the Head of the Church, and the believers the body. The absence of hierarchical leadership structures is viewed by many in the house church movement to be the most viable way to come under true spiritual authority of love, relationships, and the visible dominion of Jesus Christ as Head of his own bride (i.e. the church).

The origins of the North American house church trend are varied. Some consider it a new variety of the Plymouth Brethren movement, others recognise a relationship to the Anabaptists, Quakers, Amish, Hutterites, Mennonites, Moravians, Methodists, and the much earlier Waldenses and Priscillianists. Another perspective sees the house church movement as a re-emergence of the move of the Holy Spirit. Others see it as a return to a New Testament church Restorationism paradigm and a restoration of God's eternal purpose and the natural expression of Christ on the earth, urging Christians to return from hierarchy and rank to practices described and encouraged in Scripture. The house church movement is a cousin and slight forerunner to the Emerging Church movement. No single factor can sum up the emergence of this ancient-future ecclesiology (the return to ancient practices in the body of believers)

Mary and Joseph discover more of Jesus purpose. (If time insert the purposes of Del Rosa UMC) – That Jesus would bring about the rise and fall of many in Israel (i.e. the people and their relationship with God is increased and the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes are brought low). Jesus will expose people’s inmost thoughts, and break Mary’s heart, as though struck through with a sword (foreshadowing of the Jesus being pierced).

36There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Anna, too, discovers Jesus. Luke is unique in his revelation to both men and women, and the power that each side brings to the story. This is much of the controversy that the DaVinci Code stirred among the churches, was that it was bringing back the feminine aspects of the Gospel, and the story of Jesus, to the point that it was empowering women again. Now there were other controversies in the book and movie DaVinci Code, such as his child, and his marriage to Mary Magdalene, but both of those tie back to the power of women in the ongoing story and revelation of Jesus.

The truth is that we need to recognize the power of women in the telling of our own story of faith, the Gospel message and the hope for the nations.

The final discovery is the discovery of an imminent future for Israel, and if we are to be honest with Christ and the Gospel story then we too need to have an imminent future.

(The imminent future of Del Rosa UMC as it becomes a large House Church)

Meeting format

Many house church gatherings are free, informal, and sometimes include a shared meal. Participants hope that everyone present will feel free to contribute to the gathering as and when they sense the leading of the Holy Spirit to do so. Leadership structures range from no official leaders, to a plurality of appointed elders; however, there is a deliberate attempt within most house churches to minimize the leadership of any one person, in favor of a more plural responsibility of leadership diffused over several people or the members as a whole.