Saturday, March 31, 2007



What if that were our vision statement? What we want to be and who we are.

What does that do to our existing Mission Statement:

“The Del Rosa United Methodist Church is a living, growing community of faithful members of the body of Christ. We are a fellowship of active and supportive persons who minister to one another, our community, and our world. We are an inter-active, dynamic and Christ-centered congregation who are dedicated to nurturing, educating, and caring for others in Christian love and faith.”

Now on with your regularly scheduled programming.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spiritual Direction

I have been seeing a spiritual director of late.

He is a Catholic Priest and lives and serves the El Carmelo Retreat Center in Redlands, CA.

Today he reminded me of a very simple little piece of spirituality. Prayer is the heart of the conversation with God. Without prayer, nothing else works right, and it is impossible to move onesself or an entire congregation without practicing daily and regularly.

This is no major insight in terms being earthshattering, except that the practice of prayer IS earthshattering. I came to know that preaching that we need a vision for the church, without actually praying for the vision of the church is just being stupid.

So here is to the end of this stupidity.



Monday, March 26, 2007

Scrambled sermon Notes

Hey all,
Thanks for keeping me honest with trying to keep up with the demand for more of my blog posts.
This is yesterday's sermon notes, and in this case I stress notes. My sermons rarely follow the scripts I write (when I write them) and yesterday it just got jumbled all the more.


Sermon title: “Finding the Pony”

Notes: Remember the story of the child who was perpetually happy, and so his parents wanted to see how he would respond when given a pile of manure for his birthday. At which point the child came looking around everywhere for the pony since it had to come with a pony if there was that much manure. The opportunity exists for us to forget where the manure comes from, the nature of people’s response and to see that God is doing a new thing. The former things have passed away.

Repeated blonde moments allow me the luxury of living the message of Isaiah. “Do not remember the former things. For I am doing a new thing,” says the Lord.

What does this have to do with us.

For some time we have remembered the former things, the things that went wrong, the great people who brought us to this place in time, the people who made the banners and the pulpits and the tables in the social hall. Isaiah tells us that these things are not what is important. The important thing is what is before us right now. We have people right now with gifts to offer, ways to serve and the Holy Spirit working within them.

What’s more is that God is calling us to a new vision. If we simply look back on the old vision we assume that it still holds. There is something greater still that God has in store for us. What does the need of the current community demand? Who are God’s chosen leaders for today (talk a little more about Spiritual Gifts and what we are going to do with them once they are filled out).

The world is ever changing and to look back causes us to assume that the principles that were the same then are the same now and that if we do it the way it was done then, or if that person were around today they would do it the same way they did it then.

You are the new chosen people. Those leaders were there because God raised them up to meet the needs of the church at that time, and those who will be here now will be raised up by God to do the work now needed. This is done by listening and responding to the will of God. One of the ways we can do this is through discovery of our spiritual gifts.

Don’t remember when the memory ties us down. God has called us to keep moving. Praise God.

Joy of the new thing is realized in the knowing of Christ.

Mary does a new thing to prepare for death – Giving to the poor was the old way to dispose of the money. Now caring for the poor (Jesus) is the new way. It used to be that we could give to myriad programs and throw our dollars at the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Catholic Charities and UMCOR and that would be enough. Now we are called to help those in need directly. To prepare them for what is next, whether that is education, change of life, staying with them that they might have someone to share their experience or even preparing for death.

Love is more important than skill or materials.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

General Conference Tuesday

(200 posts - woohooo!!)

General Conference Tuesday - DRUMC Style

Dear Del Rosa Family,

Spring is definitely in the air, and it has come early. Another element to the rhythms of United Methodist life is General Conference. General Conference comes every four years (Presidential Election years to be exact) and 2008 is to be the next. You may ask why I would start talking about General Conference so soon, and to be honest I am as surprised as you are that I am, yet things are already afoot.

General Conference is the official governing body of the United Methodist Church, and is the time when the Book of Resolutions has added documents, and the Book of Discipline gets its revisions and changes. When General Conference goes well it shapes the church for the coming quadrennium. The hopes and agendas of the church are carried out during this 2 week conference of United Methodists from around the world.

Some idea of what was happening at General Conference is recounted here. One item was the limitation of the Central Conferences in their ability to send delegates. This was to ensure the United States had the majority power for a little while longer. The are more insidious and more amenable understandings of each action General Conference makes. A few years ago (1996) the General Conference changed the way ordination would take place, and in 2004 we changed who counted as clergy. Mind you, these are the items that caught my attention.

I mention this entire affair as a way of reminding you that if you are interested in the issues that will shape the next four years in the United Methodist Church now is the time. Check out the Book of Resolutions and the Book of Discipline as a way of educating yourself about the form and function of the United Methodist Church. Each of these books are available in the office and can be checked out for your reading.

If you have an issue you want us to discuss more directly the United Methodist Church provides for direct action by use of petition. You can, whether you are a delegate to General Conference or not, write a petition that will be considered on the floor of General Conference. This can address concerns or additions of the Discipline. The petition can also create a new resolution for the church, which helps direct the manner in which we spend our money and resources and the issues facing the nation and world in which we live.

Now is also the time to consider who you might want to represent you at General Conference, whether it is specific clergy or laity who are delegates to Annual Conference, or particular types of persons, young, old, representing particular issues or agencies of the church, or types of theological outlook. If you have persons you would like us to consider, please share those with Walda Gorian, Harry Ulmer or myself. We are the representatives from Del Rosa UMC and will have voice and vote at the next Annual Conference. While we do maintain the right and privilege to vote our conscience, it is helpful for us to know where you would like to have the church headed and what is important to you.

May you use this time to be in prayer for our delegates to Annual Conference, to General Conference, and Jurisdictional Conference (the gathering of the United Methodist Church for the Conferences in the Western Jurisdiction, which includes the Western States). Be in prayer for the vision and hope of the United Methodist Church. And most especially be in prayer that God will continue to shape this church as an active and vital part of the entire United Methodist Connection.


Pastor David


Sunday, March 18, 2007


I have been talking with a lot of people recently about covenants.

I have been talking with the retirees and nearly retired pastors in the conference about pensions and health care, and how the Conference has had some very heated discussions the past few years about what our responsibility to honor the covenant made to them is. On the other side of the coin I have been talking with Youth and Young Adults about worship and how it has grown stagnant and doesn’t fit their worldview, or their worship styles. The covenant to be a church ever present to the present generation seems to be broken. Clergy and laity alike are concerned that the covenant for building self-sustaining churches is broken, that churches cannot find the ways to bring people in and continue on into the next generation. Young clergy are also in arms as salaries are unable to keep pace with the indebtedness required to become ministers, One has to be independently wealthy to afford a seminary education and then go into ministry. In each of these the covenant of old seems to be broken.

I take heart in the matter, even in the midst of all the grumbling, because I find solace in the words from our texts this morning. They remind us that it is inevitable that the old covenant will go away, and that a new covenant will rise up, and that God is infinitely more faithful to us than we could ever imagine. I am reminded that even though the old covenant is very hard to give up, God only asks us to give up the old for the new because God knows the new covenant is so much richer.

Let us begin with our text from Joshua.

Joshua 5:9-12
The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.’ And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.
The Passover at Gilgal
While the Israelites were encamped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.

Joshua reminds us that it is natural for one covenant to end and another to begin. Take a look with me if you will. The green are where the new covenant is made. The red where the old covenant is broken (ended) and the blue a sustained covenant. (Highlighted in my sermon notes and I can forward that along to you if needed, but study for yourself first;] )

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’
So he told them this parable:
The Parable of the Prodigal and His Brother
Then Jesus said, ‘There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.’ ” So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate.
‘Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.” Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!” Then the father said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” ’

Joshua reminded us that the natural course of things is to have the covenant change. We saw that once again in the text from Luke. Resentment is the human response to changed covenant, whether it is the covenant, the weather, the relationships we have. We have to look ahead and see that the covenant that is new is going to cause some troubles. I am reminded of a little lesson my sister taught me this month, using scriptures to show something in a new light.

Luke 5:36-39
He also told them a parable: ‘No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, “The old is good.” ’

The end of the passage reminds us that those who have had the old wine (experienced the old covenant) do not want the new wine, and says instead the “but we’ve always done it that way” oh, whoops no she says “The old is good.” However someone must be making new wine for another generation. Someone must be willing to test the new wine and see whether it is going to be wine. Someone has to take the chance and be willing to find the new wine good. It means taking new vats (new buildings, new programs) and allowing the new wine to age properly so that others may drink as deeply as we did. At some point it also means realizing that the old wine is going to run out and we are all going to have to drink the new wine.

God’s new covenant in Joshua and in the story of the prodigal son does the unthinkable and requires us to work – to till the soil and grow new crops, to produce new wine, to extend the gift of hospitality to those who are “beyond redemption” The prodigal son was dead. He had killed the father by asking for his inheritance and was therefore dead to the father and the family. The father ran out to give the son new life.

There is a richer promise for the lost and for the one who remained as long as we recognize that maybe the time for the old covenant is run out and it is time to establish a new covenant, recognizing that God is infinitely more faithful than we can imagine.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sometimes you need to know

Sometimes you just need to know what I'm reading and how I respond. There have been several posts in the blogosphere of late that have garnered my attention.

I will reserve space to talk more about Jay's post regarding Boards of Ordained Ministry and the general conference resolutions he is proposing. I have definitely felt the sting of BOOM and watched some pretty vicious power grabs in recent years, how to play that out on the General Conference level makes for some very weighty politics.

I have had my attention drawn to issues of theology and practice about women in ministry. My wife and sister are both women in ministry, and I grew up with both of my parents fill-in preaching on occasion and definitely serving as teachers. I find much value in the ministry of women and have only benefitted from such ministry.

I have been dealing with some internal issues in the conference surrounding student debt and the cost of service as a pastor, on the front and back end of ministry, not to mention the deflated cost of living paid to clergy persons. So, it is with heightened interest I read articles about such issues. I am disheartened by the lack of foresight by the UMC in understanding the cost of entering ministry and the costs of higher education, such that the increased "Scholarships" will do little to actually diminish student debt. Throw in the additional comments about how they will be distributed to minorities and women and it does little to recognize someone like me who is a white male. As more and more scholarships get specialized for other than "white male" white men are going to find it harder and harder to enter college, let alone pay for it on the backside.

Additional thoughts have been stirred in the ongoing conversation about missional priority, serving from our strengths, and the fears that deter us, the emergent church and the future of ministry for young persons in ministry. I am trying to develop a congregation that is aware of their gifts, focused on the mission of the Gospel, forgetting their fears, open to the changes that the emerging church movement can bring, and faithful to those who have served in ministry and those who are yet to come, bridging the gap between what was and what is yet to come.

All this while trying to figure out how to say something important about Luke 15 and the Prodigal Son.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Enduring Change

This past week I went before the Board of Ordained Ministry seeking certification in Camp and Retreat Ministry and Christian Education. One hopes that after Full-connection interviews are passed that dealing with the BOOM is also a thing of days gone by. They can be and are an intimidating bunch.

I started out just fine telling of my ministry expertise in Camp and Retreat Ministries. As it turned to Christian Education I began to fall away from my beautiful explanations, and fell into the trap of not knowing what to say. I felt set adfrift. The BOOM team then invited me to return another time to share my reasons for seeking certification in Christian Education. I realized I needed to dig out and nurture my understanding of Christian Education. I was going to be entering a season of reflection about resourcing Christian Education leaders, nurturing my skills, and digging into precedents about Elders in Full-Connection who are serving with Christian Education Certification.

Lent is just such a time for reflection, and our texts this morning invite us into that season of reflection. Our reading from 1 Corinthians reminds us of the Exodus experience, which was reinforced from last week's reading from Genesis which forecast some trials for the Israelite people. Lent is our wandering time, just as Jesus wandered in the wilderness for those 40 days as well.

We are moving from our living place, which is so comfortable, maybe a little dangerous and ugly at times like it was for the Israelites, but it is familiar, and we are being called "home" with God's plan. Home may not be as comfortable and travels produce bickering and grumbling and frustrations, but when we arrive we land, like the Israelites in the land of Milk and Honey, graced with all of God's blessings, into the Promised Land.

But, we need to realize that we have not yet arrived. We have left the days of the foreign lands, where we were mistreated and fought through some terrible trials, and we began our wanderings, as we were first "The Little Brown Church in the Vale" until someone decided the old building needed a new coat of paint, and painted the building white, losing some of the identity we had held onto during that time. We moved locations down to the building on Date St, that is now the Native Sons building, until the vision was lifted up that we needed to move 1 mile north to our current location. The need for the people of this community to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, and to have the support of a church in the community was the driving vision bringing us North.

We continued in the wandering as we fought through fires and floods and finances. Our footing never seemed very sure, and we always were struggling, like the Israelites as they suffered through food shortages, lack of variety to eat, challenges in finding drinking water, and generally feeling unsafe. The Israelites left Egypt and wandered for 3 years, and then sat at the edge of the promised land for 37 years.

Folks, we are still standing on the edge of the promised land. The Israelites wouldn't go, because there were giants, and the people were scary and there were too many foes. They couldn't muster the courage to go into the land, so they sat for 37 years. They waited for all the naysayers and the giant viewers to die off. They waited for all but two to die off. Even their vaunted leader, Moses, had to die off before they could enter the land. Only two survived, Joshua and Caleb. are we waiting for those people who can't see the promised land as a place of good, but a place that causes us to fear to die off.

Going into the promisedland recalls our vision for ministry in this community. It isn't for us to sit in this church, but to go out and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who are out there.

1 Corinthians reminds us of what not to do: Idolatry, Sexual Immorality, Test the Lord God, and Grumbling. We may think we are free from some of these,but do we hold up things as more important than people, the people that God has called us to meet and be the Christian witness to? We may think that because the incidences cited for the Corinthians come from their own orgies, and the orgy that caused 23000 to be killed in one day from Israel are not our own sins, but we have to think that every time we lust, and we look at the others in the body of Christ as simply bodies we are cossing the line warned against in this text. We don't test the Lord God, but we may think that going out to win the people for Christ makes them "ours" is no different than the text put before Jesus in the wilderness by Satan, that all this land would be given to Jesus to rule if he would but worship Satan. The land is not ours to own, or the people either, but God's chosen people eager to hear about Jesus Christ. Oh, and folks we grumble, about how we can't worship with the stage set this way, or with these songs, or those songs. We wonder when the pastor will recognize the work we do around the church. We grow weary of doing good, and grumble about how hard it was to go see this person or that person who was sick, or in prison. We stumble.

Fortunately, Jesus reminds us with grace how to do what is right. We must repent, dig out a little, and nurture. We have to understand that what we have done is and was wrong. We have to ask for forgiveness, and try to gain "just one more year" as the gardener does with the owner of the vineyard. We have to dig out from around the fig tree.If we know the fig tree is the church property, we have to go and cultivate and talk with those who are around us, preparing the ground to give life, rather than choke off the growth of the fig tree. We have to nurture the fig tree, watering, and fertilizing, giving it the nutrients we need, like discovering our spiritual gifts, studying the scriptures, sharing in community. If we do this, in order to have yet another year we have to bear fruit. We have got to be winning disciples for Jesus Christ, and making those who already are disciples stronger and teachers of the way we have learned.



Sunday, March 11, 2007


Jonathon Norman was once concerned about the fate of oranges. He profiled a poor Emo orange.

While I respect the Orange its creative outlets, I fear the stampede that ensues when an orange is not as emotionally disturbed as the Emo Orange. It seems the orgy of oranges creates some very unusual gatherings.

Dominant Learning Style

Your Dominant Intelligence is Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

You are naturally athletic and coordinated, good at making your mind and body work together.
Sports are fun and easy for you, especially those requiring good hand - eye coordination.
There's also a good chance you're a great dancer, or good at expressing yourself through body language.
You learn best by doing, and you feel like you've always got to be moving (even if it's just your hands).

You would make a good athlete, physical education teaches, dancer, actor, firefighter, or artisan.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Words Come Out

During college I had a couple of friends (Hi Tim, and Amy Marable - whereever you might be) who taught me this wonderful phrase. They used "words come out" whenever they stuttered, jumbled their language, dropped a spoonerism or freudian slip. I really needed those words after my fiasco with the Board of Ordained Ministry yesterday.

Some may think that completing your Elder's track and gaining full-connection means that you are hereby exempt from ever returning to the Board of Ordained Ministry (hereinafter shall be BOOM). This is only true for a significant portion of the clergy. Some clergy, like myself, do go on to do other things that require the approval of the BOOM.

Yesterday I went to interview with the BOOM for Certification in Camp and Retreat Ministry and Christian Education. This process is done through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. The last step is to interview with the BOOM for approval of your area of specializated ministry.

I sailed through my interview regarding Camp and Retreat Ministry Certification, and began to flow into the interview for Christian Education Certification. I ran across a significant stumbling block in my ability to communicate to the interview panel what sets me apart from every other pastor who is responsible for the Christian Education of their congregation, especially since I set myself in a corner establishing that "every pastor is a Christian Educator, but not every Christian Educator is a pastor".

This became a significant point of frustration for me as it became clear that I could not communicate the "right" words to share why I should be certified in Christian Education. This was especially troubling as I serve on the Design Team for the 2008 Christian Educators' Fellowship Conference in Albuquerque, NM. I need to be able to communicate the veracity of my claim to certification. I stewed on it all night, and wrote a few emails, made some phone calls and had some visits yesterday on my way home, and after getting back.

A few words did come out. I am qualified to be certified in Christian Education and this is different than every other pastor out there for these reasons (I think they are applicable to any certification through GBHEM, and in fact they are the reasons I think I passed my interview for Camp and Retreat Certification because I made them apply to that setting):

A. I have received specialized training. I took special classes in seminary and beyond that were dedicated to the practice of Christian Education in the local church. These were over and above what "every other" pastor has to take.

B. I belong to a National Organization (and a local one) - CEF - that is dedicated to the nurture of Christian Educators, by connection, education, reflection.

C. I have a commitment to being educated in this field. Much of my Continuing Education time in the local church is focused on Christian Education - multiple intelligences, new curriculum, history of learning, refining skills.

D. I have demonstrated leadership in this area. By serving on the National CEF Design Team, assisting in workshops in the Conference and District I have shown my ability to do Christian Education, and to lead.

E. I have done fieldwork in this area. (GBHEM requires this element for 2-4 years of service). I have served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries - Associate Pastor for 5 years in a local congregation. I have written curriculum for national publication. I have written my own curriculum for adults, youth and children for camp and for local church studies.

F. I have a commitment to continuing education in this field. I expect that I am not done learning about how to be a more effective Christian Educator, and intend to take classes, participate in workshops, leading same, and being aware of available resources for Christian Education.

G. I am a viable resource for the Conference to lean on for Christian Education. As evidenced by the various plugs in this blog in the hotlinks, and the overly large library of curriculum materials in my office and home, the multiple catalogs on my shelves and varieties of information buried in my brain for extraction I do know how to resource another person in the field.

Now to find the appropriate ways to communicate these things to the BOOM next time I have the chance for interview. "Words Come Out!!!"


Monday, March 05, 2007

Martina McBride

To the instrument of love in my life - one more for you Anna

-Lyrics- : Last Dollar(Fly Away)

This one goes out to my beautiful wife. I love you.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sermon Notes 3/4/2007

Some thoughts that entered my radar while preparing this sermon

"My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no
meaning, and yet I'm happy. I can't figure it out.
What am I doing right?"
- Charles M. Schulz

I haven’t always been a Christian. I didn’t go to
religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of
port would do that. If you want a religion to make
you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t
recommend Christianity.
C.S. Lewis

Proverbs 10:24
24What evil people dread most
will happen to them,
but good people will get
what they want most.

And now on with the sermon "Pressing Business"

[carry a Linus Project blanket out, and tell a little about the Linus Project]

Linus and his blanket. What are the blankets we have,
where we rely on our blanket to bring about our future
rather than God? For me I have my inhaler and I have
my coffee mug.

We have levels of security just for the sake of
security. Can anyone tell me what today’s security
level for the country is? Why? What does it mean?

We are a fear driven society. If we cow to fear and
cover our heads waiting for the next disaster to
strike it seems to be self-fulfilling. How do we grow
and nurture those great visions and hopes of the
community that draw us into God’s space, and allow for
God to work in the fullness? God is there in the
in between. When our security blanket is gone, and
before we have seen the fruit of God’s will done God
is still present and still at work, we have to turn
ourselves over completely for that purpose.

This church seems to have the parsonage and its trust
fund and endowment fund. For Abraham it was the son he
wished to protect and manufacture against God’s ways.
For the disciples it was keeping Jesus alive, rather
than letting him die. What are the things we need to
let die, and allow God to grow new?

those are the notes folks, the sermon didn't pan out with the same texture,
but the gist of it was this:
"We have our security blankets (the things we want to happen, the way we want to happen)
and there is the way God wants to fulfill his promises, and God is in the
between time when we let down our security blanket for good, and when the
promise is fulfilled - 5 seconds from now or 5000 years from now"

Some insights about the Genesis text:
We have the foreshadowing of the Exodus, including the cloud and the column of fire
that led the Israelites out of Egypt.
Abram still didn't let go completely, let alone trust God's original promise.

And from Luke:
For the uninitiated ear Jesus calls Herod a "fox" akin to calling him a "bastard" in modern times
Jesus now claims the role of prophet.
Jesus is there in the moments of great fear. And God will be there when Jesus is no longer there.



Friday, March 02, 2007

Speaking in Tongues

Recently I had been sharing with my family the thought I have long held that the Holy Spirit is present with all believers and thus enables all believers to be able to manifest the gifts of the Spirit as needed. This time though I took it one step further. I began to expound on the thought I had initiated several weeks ago in my preaching and teaching.

I wondered what the church is missing by not making use of all the gifts of the Spirit, including those of glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and ekballism (casting out of demons). It seems that these two are the two that refine our understanding of good and evil and the very real presence of both in our world today. Glossolalia would seem to indicate the ability to connect more directly with God, through the use of the tongues of angels. I suppose the proper wording would be to say that it is a gift of languages, to communicate with those who are "other". The angels are others, as are those who do not speak our language. The casting out of demons, as it has made its way to the side of ministry also seems to indicate that we are fighting "evil" rather than Evil. The "evil" defined as that which separates us from God, or is not according to God's will. Evil with a capital "E", then, is that which is a very real and actual set of beings we call demons that are trying to set us off course, take over our being and keep us from God by any means necessary.

The two seem inextricably tied to one another and I worry that we may have lost a very important function of the church, necessary to every church, in setting these gifts aside as specialty gifts and reserved for "those other guys" if allowed at all.

The upshot of this is the interesting question my father posed to me at lunch today. He asked whether or not either of these gifts are being taught in seminary like teaching, or preaching, or mercy, or discipleship are being taught, as actual usable gifts practiced in the seminary and theoretically dissected.

So what are your thoughts? Is there a seminary with this in the curriculum? What might happen if these were taught and embraced in your local congregation?