Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mangled Thoughts

I have had some time to read through a number of blogs recently as I sit through day-long meetings.

A few items that have caught my attention as I ponder ministry and web communities.

Connexions on The Web Community

Anil Dash on Web 2.0

GBHEM on Elder's Orders

Now, I have to take some time to sort through the many frustrated thoughts about each of these, let alone do the work of research and understanding each.


Friday, February 23, 2007

[Scrubs] My Musical - Guy Love

This one goes out to J Norm, Gavo, and Rabbit John
Much Love,

Considerations for ministry

Sayonara, Senior Pastor

This was powerful...and my immediate context for ministry leadership (at least in my head, and my justifications for how I address my ministry).

However, consider that this model involves multiple pastors on staff. How does this play out in one pastor churches?

Any ideas about how to deal with this, or help carry it out in the local church context with only a single pastor? Is it best to hire an "associate pastor" just to fit the model?


Nashville, Baby

A great big shout out to Gavin for his touring skillz. The man is downright gracious and I appreciated his early morning pick up at the airport, and day-long adventure in and through Nashville, with a stop to visit J Norm at Hermitage UMC, and the Tin Roof for lunch with both of the youth superheroes along with tech and GC guru Jay Voorhees.

I loved the Emerging/Emergent Conversation we had and I wanted to draw some traffic crosswise for some great posts recently in the blogosphere about just such things. Definitely read through the links on TallSkinnyKiwi for your continued edification and conversation starter. It makes for great dialogue with Scot McKnight and the great work he did. Keeps a young pastor on his toes.

Of course there were always high-jinx. One involved a little wait for the ole' train on Elm Pike Hill, another a trip down memory lane on behalf of my retired UMC minister at Del Rosa UMC as we cruised Trevecca Nazarene University (It was still Trevecca College when he went there), and most notably a video reference (more to come later).


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Behind the Veil

Sermon Notes 2/18/2007
“Behind the Veil”
I want to tell you a story this morning. Back in the Santa Barbara Springtime, when the flowers were in full bloom, and the coastal air had the warm smell of ocean breezes and flowers, God did something truly amazing. Standing inside that church building with the Bishop waiting on Anna to come down the aisle God set me up to learn a future lesson of scripture.
You see Anna did not wear a veil that day as she came down the aisle, but there was a veil of secrecy surrounding her dress. She had purchased it months before, had gotten it tailored since then, closer to the wedding and was really excited that she had found “THE DRESS”. I couldn’t see it or look for it, or even go in the store where it had been purchased (since it was a chain store I was asked not to go in any of them), or even to look for it online. This was a big veil of secrecy.
Walking down the aisle Anna was radiant. I was absolutely stunned. I was enthralled with how beautiful she looked. The dress was indeed “THE DRESS” and pulled all of the things she loves so artfully together. Absolutely amazing. I had to wonder if this beauty was too much for me. Fortunately, there was at least an entire service ahead where I could let my head wrap around it all. The Bishop stood up front and gathered our attention and I quickly turned my gaze to her. I was stopped dead in my tracks, I had no idea what came next or what to do, thankfully the Bishop walked us through the wedding vows and gave her sermon, allowing me the chance to wait a little more on God’s assurance that I indeed was worthy of such grandeur found in Anna.
We had a prayer, and then another, and the blessing from the Bishop on behalf of God. We were given the gift of praying it through at the very beginning. And yet I was still stunned. As usual when I get knocked out of kilter I try to find something to do. There was nothing to do in the chancel of FUMC Santa Barbara while the Bishop presided over our wedding. I had no ring to twist, and my necklace was buried in my tux shirt and bowtie. Anna held my hands and I was just to wait it out.
We completed the service and I still had to wait to do anything. I couldn’t direct anything, I couldn’t get on with my life with Anna. I was given the simple grace of being able to kiss her and hold her hand as we left the sanctuary, only to return for a host of pictures. We got the families and we got the rings, and we got the minister, and we then started wandering around the main building in Santa Barbara with all kinds of pictures being taken. I had to be patient.
We then left for the reception, right next door, with food, fruits, cake, some music and a lot of people to say hello to and visit. There was much to do. I got sidetracked with whether we were going to throw the garter or not do that stuff, and whether or not to have a first dance, and how everyone was faring at the food tables. Did we have enough? I was focused on when we were gonna leave and what we might HAVE to do before leaving.
We cut the cake, we had a dance, we threw the garter and the bouquet, and we went out for a ride off to the local hotel where we were going to spend our first night together before flying off to Tennessee, Alabama and Florida for our honeymoon. When that was all done, we finally got the chance to do what we were created to do in being with each other and beginning the rest of our married lives together. But we had to wait on the Lord first.
We had been given all these instructions about how to do the wedding, and what had to happen at the reception, how the honeymoon should be, and warnings about this or that contingency. God had a plan, and needed us to sit tight before it could be enacted. We had to prepare ourselves, we had to wait, we had to pray, and then we could go ahead with what it was God was ready for us to do.
Moses and Jesus have the same experience with the people of Israel, James and John and Peter as God did with me in that wedding. Let me break it down.
Moses and Jesus were that vision of grandeur that could not be comprehended by the people at the time. So they sat behind the veil. Moses behind the literal veil that covered his face, and Jesus behind the veil of death from which Moses and Elijah returned. The vision of such things was overwhelming and stunned the people. The people of Israel cowered in fear, while the Disciples were just so stunned they went right back to sleep. While the Disciples slept and Israel feared Moses and Jesus prayed, giving them communion with God and the Holy Spirit, preparing themselves for the hard work ahead. The people waited anxiously, fearfully, sleepily and they waited. Then like so many of are wont to do the Disciples tried to build something to preserve the moment, they got sidetracked about their real purpose in being in on the moment of greatness. Jesus redirects their energies and tells them to go ahead and sit down and be quiet for a while longer. They went right down the mountain and began to heal and exorcise demons. Immediately after this account of Moses and the veil Moses gives the people of Israel something to do as they are asked to gather and prepare the materials for the building of the tabernacle, and then to build it.
Later after God’s glory is seen in the community, and the people have been given time to digest the grandeur of God (in the form of the seat of God on the Ark of the Covenant, and God’s meeting place in the Tabernacle set up for the people of Israel, and the resurrected Christ visiting the Disciples) then the people are to get back to real life, going about their work, with a new commitment to the teachings given before, the Law and the Prophets, which we have been given again in Jesus Christ “To Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul strength and mind; and the second which is like it to love your neighbor as yourself”.
We as a church have been given the ultimate instructions, words that lead to greatness and grandeur beyond imagination. Words and events and acts that we can and will do because we are powerful beyond measure. But we need to be willing to take the same path as Israel and the Disciples. We need to be awed by the prospect, stunned to sleep because it seems so simple, fearful that actual change would come. We need to take the time to wait upon the Lord. And while we are waiting we need to pray. We need to take time for self examination. We need to continue doing what we did before, always holding the instructions in the back of our minds, allowing God to work in us and through us to moment of transformation. And then we need to get on with our new life in Christ. For now, let us wait upon the Lord in prayer.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Michael Jordan

This is by far one of the most influential commercials I have ever seen. I even had the poster for a while (it may be in the garage yet).
Reality: I fail, but I must never stop trying to succeed.

Friday, February 16, 2007

OKGO Granbury High School Comparison

I watched the lipsync on the right first, having never heard or seen the video, and was stunned. Then to watch it side by side with the original...WOW!!

Casting out Demons

I have been talking with my congregation (and therefore you all in the blogosphere) about Spiritual Gifts (I would suggest you go back through the past two months worth of blogs as there are almost 10 that deal with this issue). I had noted that there seemed to be missing a few gifts from my congregation (Speaking in tongues, Healing and Ekballism - Casting out Demons). So when the conversation began regarding the casting out of demons on a few other blogs I have taken note of in my daily readings I sat up a little straighter. Today marked a comment to one of those blogs and I wanted to share it with you all and begin to work it out for the congregation as well, because I think discussion about these less prevalent gifts are going to need to be had during our upcoming work on Spiritual Gifts discernment.

Here is the comment:
Sounds to me like good fun stuff to consider and at first blush from reading your post I got an interesting flashback to the Gospel of Mark 9:33-43 where the disciples return from being out and about telling Jesus of the people they met casting out demons in his name. Jesus tells them that whoever does this will come to him soon enough. Also had the flashback to Abraham Lincoln, well where Abraham Lincoln got his quote about the "house divided against itself". The house divided cannot stand. That is to say that if someone is casting out demons, there is only one power that can actually do so, and that is God the three-in-one. So whatever the "cover" looks like - Jew, Turk, etc the power is God. God does not do anything except for his glory and they will eventually turn to him. This then makes it impossible for anyone to cast out demons without this being a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Wesley certainly relied upon the "fruits" to determine someone's continuing aptitude for Christian service. It does make it interesting in our times, and certainly makes me all the more eager to see the CS Lewis movie "The Screwtape Letters".

Behind the times

I wonder if I will be able to keep up with enough.

I think you will find the attached enlightening.
Great examples of how fast things are moving:

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sermon Notes 2/11/2007

“Blessings and Woes”

Jeremiah 17:5-10 & Luke 6:17-26

It’s hard for me to believe, but I have been in ministry now for nearly 15 years. I started out as a camp counselor, then served as chaplain/director of a day camp, and then into youth ministry. I remember one of the early admonitions I had regarding youth ministry. I was told in a semi-humorous tone that I could talk about anything, except sex and God with the youth. I was dumbstruck because these were the two most important things youth want to know about. I guess I hoped someone would have told me something similar when I started full-time adult ministry. ‘You can talk about anything except salvation and money.” Adults have the most questions and worries about these two. And today is one of those sermons.

When Jesus walked to that level place to meet with the people they knew the background scriptures from Jeremiah. “I the Lord test the mind and search the heart to give all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings.” The joy of that passage is we know what it is to be faithful to the heart and mind of God. It is laid out earlier in the passage. For those who need to plug their ears because we are going to talk about money now is the time.

First, the blessing for those who put their trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. What does this say to us, to have trust in the Lord, for our trust to be the Lord? What does this say about “trust funds”?

Second, we have the curse for those who put their trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord. How do we keep our focus on the Lord?

Jesus knew the people knew these texts and carried them in their hearts, and once again Jesus does what Jesus does best. When the people come to him for a particular need to be filled, such as healing and the casting out of demons, so that they may be made whole, Jesus gives them something different. He gives them wholeness but not the way they wanted to understand it. The disciples used their spiritual gifts of healing and casting out of demons to bring the people in, and the crowds gathered. We, too, are blessed with disciples gathered here in the church, and we need to use our spiritual gifts. You have noted several places in the past few weeks where you can do spiritual gifts inventories

and know that I will be asking you to submit those in the very near future in March.

We have need to give people what they are, which means giving them the truth.

Blessed are the poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. (Poor in the Greek translates to “if you can think of anyone who has it worse than you, they are the poor)

Blessed are the hungry for you shall be filled (in an age when we are all full, this applies to those who haven’t eaten in several days, have eaten just one meal in a couple of days, and are truly hungry)

Blessed are you who weep for you will laugh. (How powerful a message when we have already heard of several deaths in our community this morning)

Blessed are you who are excluded, reviled and hated for the Son. Rejoice for your reward is in Heaven. (Have you ever been told you aren’t welcome in church, have you ever been asked not to speak because the truth was too painful for others, have you ever done something in the name of God that got you shunned from the community?)

Woe to you who are rich you have your consolation. (Do you have a positive net worth? Do you have money in the bank? You’ve had it all already)

Woe to you who are full for you will be hungry. (This is a tough one for I have already been reminded this morning that I am full grab belly and shake my excess waistline and I know I am condemned here too. Harry Ulmer often reminds us that we are facing a plague of comfort in the United States today. In our comfort we don’t have hunger, and we do not seek after the true need for Jesus Christ. In coming to our curse we will realize the true hunger for the Spirit that was consumed by our comfort at being full.)

Woe to you who are laughing, for you will mourn and weep. (In our laughing we fail to recognize the hurts and pains we have with one another. Jesus reminds us of the Great Commandment to Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. He then condenses it even further telling us to love one another. If we are relating to one another in love we will hear the hurts, the pains and the sorrows of one another and share in the hurt, we will no longer laugh, but be mourning and weeping for those in need.)

Woe to you when all speak well of you for that is what they did to the prophets. (We remember Jeremiah and the ways in which the leaders of the community sought his advice and then laughed at him behind his back for being a crazy delusional prophet. We remember Jesus being welcomed by the Priests only to then reject him and have him killed.)

We are given the fullness of life, though it is not what we expected. Jesus comes to us to bless us and remind us of the curse we carry for ourselves.

This is a tough message, one that should cause us all to think seriously about what we are leaving out of our lives, that we may seek after Jesus Christ, who can make us whole again.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Lifeline

The Lifeline

Matthew 9:9-13

We remember the time of Lent as a time of preparation for the saving of the world in the death of Jesus Christ.

When I went white water rafting with the Senior High youth earlier this Fall one of the things I noticed was what happened at the particularly treacherous rapids. The group would send one boat ahead to take the rapid and set up. They got out of the boat and got a lifeline ready. This was a long rope, which could stretch to about one hundred feet. It was held in a bag and thrown to anyone who fell out of a succeeding boat, to ensure they would not go on down to the next rapid or face any dangerous water.

The interesting element of this practice was due to the number of groups who used the river. When my raft got down to the rapid, as we were the ones chosen to set the lifeline, there were several other boats and a variety of companies down there. This is not totally unexpected as the Nantahala is a very busy river with all kinds of people travelling on it in a plethora of manners, canoes, duckies, rafts and even kayaks. The excitement came when one boat or another invariably tipped over and someone went spilling out. It seemed that there was a fight about who would throw the rope. This was not a “You do it. No, you do it!” kind of fight, but ”Let me get it. No I’ll get it.” Very similar to two kids running for a ringing phone. The cooperation was astounding. What mattered was that the individual who had fallen out of the particular craft was secured with a rope, not whether they were with a particular company or not. The people were ready with that lifeline regardless.

Jesus is ready with his lifeline regardless of where we are. His lifeline is one of rest and love. He wants us safe and inside the boat of love within the church. But if we are not there, he will ensure that we have got hold of the lifeline that will draw us ever closer to him. The boat is going to be safe and keep going in the direction it needs to be going. The people are going to be safe and looked after by one another, all in the same goal. His watch is over those that have fallen out.

So often we think of the Pharisees as the bad guys of the Bible, but they were doing things well and Jesus reminds them of that in this passage. He came not for the people in the boat, but for those who are struggling in the water alone. If you are in the boat then you are all the better off, but remember that Christ is for the drowning, what ever it is you might be drowning in, work, school, meetings, family, TV, or any of the other varieties of distractions we have.

Prayer: Dearest Lord God, I do know I am overcome at times by this world. Help me to be ever mindful that you are there with a lifeline, waiting to get me back in the boat with those who can support me and work with me to a common end. Your presence is near and comforting. When I am in the boat help me to be watchful for others who have fallen out that I may offer a helping hand and draw them into the boat. You are a preparing God and we want to be equally prepared for you and your coming. Draw us into moments of rest and reflection with you. Amen.

Thought for the day: Lent is a time when the lifeline is being prepared for us.

Making Ice Cream

The other day I was preparing for youth group. I went
to get a coffee can for one of the program activities
and I realized I had a whole host of small coffee cans
from all the coffee I drink. I had been saving them to
make Ice Cream with the youth during the summer. I had
planned ahead for those particular needs. And I knew
when the time came I could go out and pick up some
cream and sugar, some flavorings, some ice and some
rock salt so the kids could make ice cream.
Only I was missing a key ingredient to making tin can
ice cream. I needed the 2 or 3 pound containers to
contain the inner coffee can and the ice and salt to
do rolled ice cream. I make this appeal to you now, if
you have any large 2 or 3 pound coffee cans, or as you
use them up in your house would you bring them to me
down at the church office for a summer program with
the youth group where will be making ice cream.
Pondering all of this on the heels of preaching and
teaching "Making Disciples of Jesus Christ" - our
mission statement for the United Methodist Church I
discovered I had the same problem. God was here, the
spiritual gifts had been laid out, you were here, and
I had been given training and resources to help each
of you use your spiritual gifts through the Del Rosa
church and beyond, but I had forgotten one vital
piece. And once again, I need your help in getting it
together so that we can do better than make ice cream.
We can "Make Disciples of Jesus Christ". I need to
know what your spiritual gifts are. I need an
inventory from you that has helped you to discern
where you have been gifted by God for service in the
world today.
Our Lay Leadership Committee has already done this and
developed a sense of understanding about their own
gifts, and we can draw from those, but they alone do
not make up the Disciples present here at the Del Rosa
I offer here a few resources to help you determine
what God has gifted you to do that you may serve Jesus
Christ at your fullest, living your vocation in the
church and world you interact in each day.
For those who use the Web on a regular basis here are
a few sites to look at and use:

For those who use paper resources first and foremost,
I have some invetories here at church that we can get
out to you, all you need to do is to call, or see me
on a Sunday morning and we will ensure you have one in
your hot little hands.
If you have done them before and found your gifts to
be in a certain area, please take some time to be in
prayer and take it again. God provides gifts to the
community that the people may have their needs met in
the present, and God may be laying a new calling upon
your heart, whereby you will be gifted to address that
new calling. As our sign has said from time to time,
"God does not call the gifted, but gifts the called."
How are you being called, and how have you been gifted
to help make disciples in the Del Rosa area?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Work or Vocation

Isaiah and Luke both bring us stories that show us the difference between work and vocation.

But, for reference let us begin by giving some definitions of work and vocation.


-A job

-Requires skills

-End is to pay the bills


-A call

-Requires spiritual gifts

-End is to glorify God

Vocation requires repentance. We have to remove the blocks that we put between us and God. There is the vocal repentance and the silent repentance, both are acceptable to God. But the reality of repentance is seen in our actions. Our actions that follow repentance, are the Means of Grace.

Works of Piety:


-Public Worship

-The Lord's Supper

-Reading scripture

Works of Mercy:

-Feed the hungry

-Clothe the naked

-Heal the sick

-Care for the ailing

-Visit those who cannot attend (prison, infirm)

-Shelter those in need

-Welcome the stranger (means going out to-cf. Martha when Lazarus has died, the Prodigal Father)

God equips us to do our vocation, and may or may not depend upon our skills to do so.

Vocation is not easy (Isaiah is sent to do the impossible, and the fishermen have a haul that is too large to pull in on their own). God must prepare us, and it is the very reason we must repent, so that the things that separate us from God do not deter us from the work ahead.

We can do one, both or neither, but the best is when our work follows our vocation.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A Christmas Redux