Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I've seen 198 (+ a few originals) of 239 films

Supposedly if you've seen over 85 films, you have no life.  Mark the ones you've seen. There are 239 films on this list. Copy this list, go to your own page, paste this as a note. Then, put x's next to the films you've seen, add them up, change the header adding your number, and click post at the bottom. Have fun.

(x) Rocky Horror Picture Show
(x) Grease
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest
(x) Boondock Saints
(x) Fight Club
(x) Starsky and Hutch
(x) Neverending Story
(x)Blazing Saddles
(x) Airplane
Total so far: 10

(x) The Princess Bride
(x) Anchorman
(x) Napoleon Dynamite
(x) Labyrinth
(x) Saw
(x) Saw II
(x) White Noise
(x) White Oleander
(x) Anger Management
(x) 50 First Dates
(x) The Princess Diaries
(x) The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Total so far: 22

(x) Scream
(x) Scream 2
(x) Scream 3
(x) Scary Movie
(x) Scary Movie 2
(x) Scary Movie 3
(x) Scary Movie 4
(x) American Pie
(x) American Pie 2
(x) American Wedding
(x) American Pie Band Camp
Total so far: 33

(x)Harry Potter 1
(x) Harry Potter 2
(x) Harry Potter 3
(x) Harry Potter 4
() Resident Evil 1
() Resident Evil 2
(x) The Wedding Singer
(x) Little Black Book
(x) The Village
(x) Lilo & Stitch
Total so far: 41

(x) Finding Nemo
(x) Finding Neverland
(x) Signs
(x) The Grinch
(x) Texas Chainsaw Massacre
() Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
(x) White Chicks
(x) Butterfly Effect
(x) 13 Going on 30
(x) I, Robot
(x) Robots
Total so far: 51

(x) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
(x) Universal Soldier
(x) Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
(x) Along Came Polly
(x) Deep Impact
(x) KingPin
(x) Never Been Kissed
(x) Meet The Parents
(x) Meet the Fockers
(x) Eight Crazy Nights
(x) Joe Dirt
(x) KING KONG [the original and the remake]
Total so far: 64

(x) A Cinderella Story
(x) The Terminal
(x) The Lizzie McGuire Movie
() Passport to Paris
(x) Dumb & Dumber
(x) Dumber & Dumberer
(x) Final Destination
(x) Final Destination 2
(x) Final Destination 3
(x) Halloween
(x) The Ring
(x) The Ring 2
(x) Surviving X-MAS
(x) Flubber
Total so far: 78

(x) Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
(x) Practical Magic
(x) Chicago
(x) Ghost Ship
() From Hell
(x) Hellboy
() Secret Window
(x) I Am Sam
(x) The Whole Nine Yards
(x) The Whole Ten Yards
Total so far:  86

(x) The Day After Tomorrow
(x) Child's Play
() Seed of Chucky
(x) Bride of Chucky
(x) Ten Things I Hate About You
(x) Just Married
(x) Gothika
(x) Nightmare on Elm Street
(x) Sixteen Candles
(x) Remember the Titans
(x) Coach Carter
(x) The Grudge
() The Grudge 2
(x) The Mask
(x) Son Of The Mask
Total so far: 99

(x) Bad Boys
(x) Bad Boys 2
() Joy Ride
() Lucky Number Slevin
(x) Ocean's Eleven
(x) Ocean's Twelve
(x) Bourne Identity
(x) Bourne Supremecy
() Lone Star
(x) Bedazzled
(x) Predator I
(x) Predator II
() The Fog
(x) Ice Age
(x) Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
() Curious George
Total so far: 110

(x) Independence Day
(x) Cujo
() A Bronx Tale
() Darkness Falls
() Christine
(x) ET
(x) Children of the Corn
(x) My Bosses Daughter
(x) Maid in Manhattan
(x) War of the Worlds
(x) Rush Hour
(x) Rush Hour 2
Total so far: 119

() Best Bet
(x) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
(x) She's All That
(x) Calendar Girls
(x) Sideways
(x) Mars Attacks
(x) Event Horizon
(x) Ever After
(x) Wizard of Oz
(x) Forrest Gump
(x) Big Trouble in Little China
(x) The Terminator
(x) The Terminator 2
(x) The Terminator 3
Total so far: 133

(x) X-Men
(x) X-2
(x) X-3
(x) Spider-Man
(x) Spider-Man 2
(x) Sky High
(x) Jeepers Creepers
(x) Jeepers Creepers 2
(x) Catch Me If You Can
(x) The Little Mermaid
(x) Freaky Friday [again the original and the remake]
(x) Reign of Fire
(x) The Skulls
(x) Cruel Intentions
(x) Cruel Intentions 2
(x) The Hot Chick
(x) Shrek
(x) Shrek 2
Total so far: 151

(x) Swimfan
(x) Miracle on 34th street
(x) Old School
() The Notebook
(x) K-Pax
(x) Krippendorf's Tribe
(x) Walk to Remember
(x) Ice Castles
() Boogeyman
(x) The 40-year-old Virgin
Total so far: 160

(x) Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring
(x) Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
(x) Lord of the Rings Return Of the King
(x) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
(x) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
(x) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Total so far: 166

(x) Baseketball
() Hostel
() Waiting for Guffman
() House of 1000 Corpses
() Devils Rejects
(x) Elf
(x) Highlander
() Mothman Prophecies
(x) American History X
() Three
Total so Far: 170

() The Jacket
() Kung Fu Hustle
(x) Shaolin Soccer
() Night Watch
(x) Monsters Inc.
(x) Titanic
(x) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
() Shaun Of the Dead
() Willard
Total so far: 174

() High Tension
() Club Dread
(x) Hulk
(x) Dawn Of the Dead
(x) Hook
(x) Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
(x) 28 days later
() Orgazmo
() Phantasm
(x) Waterworld
Total so far: 180

(x) Kill Bill vol 1
(x) Kill Bill vol 2
(x) Mortal Kombat
() Wolf Creek
() Kingdom of Heaven
() the Hills Have Eyes
() I Spit on Your Grave aka the Day of the Woman
() The Last House on the Left
() Re-Animator
(x) Army of Darkness
Total so far: 184

(x) Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
(x) Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
(x) Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
(x) Star Wars Ep. IV A New Hope
(x) Star Wars Ep. V The Empire Strikes Back
(x) Star Wars Ep. VI Return of the Jedi
() Ewoks Caravan Of Courage
(x) Ewoks The Battle For Endor
Total so far: 191

(x) The Matrix
(x) The Matrix Reloaded
(x) The Matrix Revolutions
(x) Animatrix
() Evil Dead
() Evil Dead 2
() Team America: World Police
(x) Red Dragon
(x) Silence of the Lambs
(x) Hannibal
Total so far: 198

Now Add them up and...

Put "I've seen # out of 239 films" in the subject line and repost it if you've been tagged...and well if you read this far, consider yourself tagged

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wish Fulfillment

ht: Corey Mann

Here comes 2009. New day, new year, new beginning, fresh start.

Ok, this is an all-skate to everyone who stops by the blog.

A genie appears to you and explains that he's going to take care of everything for you for 3 months. The bills will all be paid, your job will be done expertly, your dependents will be looked after, your house will be kept clean, etc. For the next three months, you're free. When the three months are up, you have the option of starting a new career, moving to a new city, or even leaving behind friends and family.

The genie has just two conditions:
  • You have to try at least one thing you've never done before (but have perhaps always secretly wanted to do) during those three months

  • You have to spend the three months doing things that you want to do, rather than things you feel you should do.
Leave your comments and lets see what happens...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Blog Sabbath

I am not here today. Pleae go read someone else's blog an introduce yourself. 

May you find Sabbath rest this day too.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

“It will, I believe, be everywhere found, that as the clergy are, or are not what they ought to be, so are the rest of the nation.” - Jane Austen

ht: One Thing I Know

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Good for a Laugh

Ht: Digg

No seriously - go take a look.

Sorry, every now and then my inner 11-year-old peeks out and wants to share something too.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Social Experiment

Remember Patch Adams?
Maybe you recall the scene where Patch goes into the community around the school where he is preapring to be a Doctor. He goes out and just smiles at folks. He gauges the reactions, and tries to show the effects of being involved with other people. This was a divestment from the previous practice of Doctors.

I am proposing a similar experiment to our congregation in the month ahead. I have two questions for the congregation to ask the people they encounter.

The two questions
1) Do you go to church?

Once answered: ask the next question
If "yes", 2a) Why do you go there?
If "no", 2b) Why not?

The rationale is to come:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day Post

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sermon for Sunday December 21, 2008

The other day I got the creche out for our Christmas celebration.

We have been slowly adding items to the Christmas decorations around the church, in the spirit of preparation and waiting that comes with Advent.

We started with hanging the greens and getting the Christmas Tree out. We added the Advent Wreath, and the Crismons. We gathered up the poinsettias and put them around the altar. And today we added the Nativity scene to the altar, complete with the Wise men and their camels off to the side on their way to the manger scene. Baby Jesus was still not in the manger. 

I began to get frustrated and angry when I pulled the pieces of the creche out to place on the altar. They were from two different sets, as told by the fact that a few pieces were glazed and a few were not. The ears of some of the sheep and the donkey were broken, and the baby Jesus was even missing a hand. I began to get the impression that as a church we just didn't care. 

So I was sharing this frustration with my sister who reminded me that we come to Christmas with all of our brokenness that we hold onto. And from this the real swell for this morning's sermon began to build. Because the truth is that we trot out the old broken story time and again at Christmas and place it on the altar.

The story is broken in so many places. We have done great injustices to the story of Jesus' birth. And we continue to do injustice today as we place more and more emphasis on our consumerist ways than on the gift that God has given.

The first part that seems to be broken is when Jesus' birth really occurred and when Christmas should really happen. If we listen to the text this morning from Luke 1:26-38 we hear that in the sixth month the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. We aren't entirely certain whether this was the sixth month of the year or the sixth month of Mary's pregnancy. Traditionally, this date is set as the sixth month of the Jewish year, roughly March 25th. If we assume that Mary was six months pregant at that time Jesus would have been born around June 20th. In a recent article it was proclaimed that it was finally discovered that the birthdate of Jesus was 2BC, on June 18th. This makes sense when one considers that shepherds are not often out in the winter tending the flocks, nor is an Emperor, no matter how powerful, going to send people to their hometowns for a census during the rainy season, which is the winter as well. That doesn't take into account the fact that the angel told Mary that she "will" and she "shall" - future appointments - become pregnant. 

There is even rumor that some of the Bishops of the early church conspired with the Roman Emperor to change the date so as to interfere with Saturnalia, which is the festival of the Winter Solstice, which we celebrate this day, December 21st. So the church decided to Christianize the event and make it sanitized by moving the birth of Christ to December. All that doesn't take seriously the accounts that tell of the December date being used by the church to recognize the birth of Christ dating back to the early apostles. Our timetable is broken.

Our heroine, Mary, is also broken. At least her story is. We have so tried to insulate Mary from sin and the destructive forces that we proclaimed her birth as an "Immaculate Conception" just as with Jesus. Only, we now find that this is just a partial truth to the story. The rest of the story is that Mary was only the product of an "immaculate conception" and the purity it brings by the effect of Jesus' death and resurrection. But, as with so many things this got lost in the translation to the populus. 

My sister was talking to me about this morning and had the response to the angel and the tale told to Mary of "Favored, really? Are you kidding me?" Mary is about 13 years old, pregnant, and married, only the man she's married to has not touched her or had marital relations. She is scheduled to be stoned if the people find out and follow the laws according to Jewish custom. The story of Mary has been broken.

(Bonus material for readers of the blog, but not in the sermon itself) The story of the birth in the Manger is also broken. Luke is the one by whom we learn this story. But, as a mentor of mine taught me Luke as we know it is a mistranslation. We hear that the baby is born in a manger because there is no room in the Inn. Reading back in the Greek we find that the language is such that it reads "the other room". We find the word for Inn elsewhere in the book of Luke, when we hear the story of the good Samaritan. The good Samaritan puts up the injured stranger at the Inn for the night, telling the Innkeper he would be back to pay the bill in the morning. The word we find here is one that denotes the "extra room". 

But moreover, we know that the hospitality laws of the day would not allow for such an event to happen in the "barn" as we have so managed to make this story say. The "mother with child" would be taken into the home. In those days the home was made up of a room for the family sleeping quarters (also called the "other room") and the living room. In the lower end of the living room would be a dug out area with a manger for the animals. this area would house the animals in the cold nights, and would serve as an extra warming agent for the home. Such a layout would allow for Mary and Joseph to find no room in the "other room", and so lay the baby in the manger at birth. Our birth story is broken.

But we too are living with brokenness. We have a broken economy. We have broken stories of drug abuse and addiction. We are living with our own stories of hurt and pain. "My back aches." "My shoulder no longer rotates all the way." Our story is broken.

And while I was unwrapping the creche for our Nativity here at the church, I discovered that among our items was the angel. And I realized there was no place for the Angel. It is the Angel who brings us into the moment, reminding us that there is no place for the unexpected. We need to find a place for the story of the Angel who proclaims "Fear Not".  We need not fear the truth of Santa Claus. We need not fear the story of when Christmas really occurs. We need not fear the dragging economy, or our own brokenness. 

Thankfully, the story of Christmas is not about whether Mary was a virgin, or born of a virgin. Our story is not about when Christmas really occurs, and when Jesus was born. It doesn't matter where he was born, whether it was in a home or a stable, or even which one that claims it was. Our story is made by the birth of the child called Jesus. The Christ child is our hope. The Christ child, the one we are waiting upon is the one who changes everything. He is the one who heals our brokenness and the brokenness of the story. He is the one who heals us from our fears, and brings us into God's House. It is the continuation of the house of Jacob. Jesus is the representation of the line of David and serves as the king to us all. He is the Prophet in the line of Moses, and the Priest in the line Melchizidek, and the King in the line of David. He restores the temple in three days. The temple of Solomon is rebuilt in each of us as we experience the birth of Christ this day in each of us. 

Let us be healed of our brokenness, hear the words of the Angel to "Fear Not" and be born with the Christ child. Amen.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Catch Phrases

Do you ever find yourself in the same old language rut?

My Brother the Thief brought those colorful "catch phrases" that define us for the moment back to the fore for me.

I have discovered that these phrases have more power in my life than I suspected. When I look at the years and how they have progressed. One of the best years of my life was the year I used "No Worries" as my more regular catch phrase.

These phrases create a mindset for me, and it carries out. So I decided to take a look at the ones I use more frequently now.

Some for me:
"We'll have some fun along the way."
"All in all"
"Good stuff" or "Good things"
"And so it goes" (this one mostly goes off in my head)

If I look at these and try to get a glimpse at the reality I am trying to create/convey it comes down to enjoying the journey, encompassing a lot of time into a single moment, listening, and the tried and true element of my life which is that I tend to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

What are the phrases that currently define your vocabulary? What is the reality you are trying to shape with your phraseology?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Meeting People Where They Are

I have been following (loosely) the commentary John Smulo has had on the MissionGathering Billboard (seen here)

I am intrigued by the very basic principle that emerges. "Meet people where they are"

I am ever so grateful that God does this for us. I am trying to do it more and more in my own life. And I will be offering a challenge to my congregation to do the self-same thing.

"Meet people where they are." The real crux of this is to realize that it is not my job to change them once I meet them there, but simply to give them the opportunity to hear God afresh and let God do the work, whatever my perspective. Ultimately, I am opened to the nudge of God by meeting others where they are, as I am forced to let go of my own notions of how someone else should be.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Toyota Helps Shape Me

Scott Parrish adds some more insight into how automakers can help us review our shape and scope in the church. I appreciated his post on the UMC and the Big 3. This time he reflects on what he learned from Toyota.

Recently I looked at Vision statements and Toyota was the one that sticks with me. They put something out that was easy to follow and remember - and it is a quality statement as opposed to a quantity statement (which I fear the church spends too much time trying to identify and claim for its short-term life, though I do see the need for long term assessment)

As the UMC we already have a Mission Statement: "To make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

At Ojai UMC we established our Mission Statement before the additional language after "of Jesus Christ" was added to the UMC Mission Statement at the last General Conference.

Ours reads: To make Disciples of Jesus Christ in Faith, Fellowship, Tolerance, and Spiritual Growth”

These statements then beg the question of how we want to be known. The Disciples were looked upon in a vareity of lights, just refer back to scripture. Are we out to be Judas, who seeks to push Jesus into a different kind of Messiahship, and loses his life because of it? Are we going to be Andrew, the one who goes to get his brother and friends and introduces them to Jesus? Are we going to be Matthew who is shunned by society for his role, repents and gives back what he took wrongly, and so mentors the other disciples? Are we acting as Peter, quick with an answer and comment, but still missing the point of the Gospel?

What are we going to be with our Mission Statements? Can we make it simple enough for people to remember and get moving?


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quote of the Day

Saw this one and it fits ever so nicely with the process for Visioning we have at Ojai UMC.

Go to the people.

Live with them.

Learn from them.

Love them.

Start with what they know.

Build with what they have.

But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say "We have done this ourselves."


Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Five

I’m a Rev, I’m not a Gal, but I am a blog pal to the RevGals.  So here we go - my RevGalBlogPal Friday Five!

It’s true.

There are only five full days before Christmas Day, and whether you use them for shopping, wrapping, preaching, worshiping, singing or traveling or even wishing the whole darn thing were over last Tuesday, there’s a good chance they will be busy ones.

So let’s make this easy, if we can: tell us five things you need to accomplish before Christmas Eve.

1. Clean the linens for guests

2. Get a preacher for the 28th

3. Get packed for travel

4. Put the Creche out at church

5. Find a dog-sitter

Thank you Cards for the Troops

With a brother-in-law who is serving this country, and many 
congregation members past and present who are veterans 
I am grateful for the service of our troops. They put themselves in
harm's way willingly to defend the hopes and rights of many, 
not just those of us in the United States. Please take a moment to 
use this great resource to send your thanks too.


If you go to this web site, you can
pick out a thank you card drawn by a school age kid and
Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is
currently serving in Iraq . You can't pick out who gets
it, but it will go to a member of the armed services. 
How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to
send one!!! It is FREE and it only takes a second. 
Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a
bunch of these? Our soldiers over there need to know we are
behind them. This takes just 10 seconds and it's a wonderful way to
say thank you. Please take the time to do it, and please
take the time to pass it on for others to do. We can never
say enough thank you's.

ht:Kate Nelson

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Girl Effect (Follow-up)

I promised some other opportunities for you to help make a difference in the life of one girl.

Here are some resources I know about.

Heifer Project International

The Water Project

School - Project Baobob


I welcome your additional suggestions in the comments

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One of Two

As we reflect upon the type of church we are and the type of church we want to become there are many aspects to look at. I am grateful for the regular words of Mark O. Wilson, and often give him a shout out by way of "ht:"

Today is no different. Mark pulls from another post by Gary Lamb about the two types of church.
Those who are consumed with doing church in a cool way
Those who are consumed with doing church that reaches lost people

They both end up doing similar things -- but with a different motive.

I'd like to adjust it a just little bit and say, there are two types of churches in general:
Those consumed with DOING church
Those consumed with BEING the church

Claiming who we want to be is the claim of our Vision. Again Mark and Gary point to the Mission statement side of Vision - how we want to do that.

Are we going to DO church or BE church.

It is interesting to me that this carries over into the Vision and Mission Statement building process by asking the question of whether we are going to get caught in the present moment or the future achievement. The truth is that we must practice both - DO and BE, Present and Future, Internal and External, Worship and Program as well as Evangelism.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Church and the Big 3

My friend Scott Parrish, who serves as a Campus Minister has put out this post questioning whether the church is like the Big 3.

I am especially appreciative of the questions he poses.
Some questions in comparison:
  • Can these institutions undo their growth, management style, and culture of the last decade/s quickly enough to gain their footing in these times?

  • Will they move past talk to quick, strategic action? Or do we wait a Year or, worse yet, FOUR YEARS! (This could be a discussion for another time)

  • Salaries & expectations of the institution by the administration & workers seem to be a major issue with the Big 3. This seems comparable to the UMC. How can we "undo" this and refocus on the consumer or potential consumer? Or will it be an impasse that causes our demise?

  • Are there basic steps common in such institutional retooling- other than establishing more committees?

  • Or is this merely a part of an institutional life cycle to be expected? Perhaps the option is that we merely serve as the clergy officiating the last years of a dying institution and this is our role.-Change IS going to happen. Will the UMC have the (what word should we use?!) resolve to do what is necessary to retool. If a for profit group can't do this and is hampered by a self inflicted hamstring injury (NOTE: from obesity not activity!) what are the odds a religious institution will survive?

In reality, these are the questions we are starting to deal with in our Visioning process at Ojai UMC. Once we finish Visioning we are going to move into the Mission of the church to achieve our Vision. And any questions we didn't answer the first go round on Visioning will have to be answered then. 

The question I continue to get from the church is whether we have waited too long to start the process. The answer I come to is that we have not come too late to the party of change. But, I will add that the changes we need to make will need to be bigger and more drastic to catch up, and we will need to continue to review our Vision and Mission, updating according to the gifts and talents we have and the needs of the community.


Monday, December 15, 2008

The Girl Effect - For a Better Today and Tomorrow

More to come on some simple ways to help, along with the ways suggested through the links provided.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Free Music

I love free music.

How cool is it that they are providing free Christmas music downloads.

Check it out for yourself.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Day Late

Window of the Soul:

This Friday Five is inspired by [Sophia's] husband's Lasik surgery yesterday....He'd been contemplating it for a while and was pushed over the edge by the fact that we put too much money in our healthcare spending account this year and it would have been gone anyway. (There was only enough for one eye, but the kind people at the eye clinic figured out a way to divvy up the charges between surgery and followup in January=next year's spending account). So please say a little prayer for his safe recovery and share with us your thoughts on eyes and vision.

1. What color are your beautiful eyes? Did you inherit them from or pass them on to anyone in your family? 
I have primarily hazel eyes, which change from shades of blue to shades of green, depending on activity, mood, and health. Haven't seen them on anyone else in my family.

2. What color eyes would you choose if you could change them? Why would I do that?

3. Do you wear glasses or contacts? What kind? Like 'em or hate 'em? Nope

4. Ever had, or contemplated, laser surgery? Happy with the results?Nope

5. Do you like to look people in the eye, or are you more eye-shy? Primarily eye shy.

Bonus question: Share a poem, song, or prayer that relates to eyes and seeing.
"Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes"


Friday, December 12, 2008

Core Values

One aspect of determining a Vision and a Mission for an organization or an individual is to discover the Core Values.

My Core Values seem to be:
1) Questions
2) Space
3) Noise
4) Reflection
5) Exploration

They determine how I interact with people, places and things.

I have been listening to the people of Ojai UMC and I have come to discern a few of the Core Values for the people of the church.

1) Music
2) Caring for one another
3) Explication of the Bible 
(some have called this Biblical Preaching; I would differentiate it from story preaching as trying to explain the stories of the Bible, rather than retell the stories of the Bible in another format)

As we delve into our Visioning process more deeply, this will come back to the fore when we bubble up our thoughts about what we want to be, and how to interact with the community.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

More on Biblical Values

ht: Will Deuel & Daily Kos

A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in
addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a
virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)

D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden.
(Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)

E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)

F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Being a Shepherd

I have posted before about the message of Psalm 23, and the message of the Good Shepherd.

I was told a comment about just such things, and I think it appropos to ministry. "I wanted to follow the Shepherd and wound up feeding sheep."

I think of Peter and his interaction with Jesus at the end of the Gospel of John. Peter wanted to follow Jesus. He just wanted to be a good disciple. He had been told he would be the rock upon which the church would be founded. He had denied Jesus 3 times during his trials. Peter didn't want to lead sheep, he just wanted to follow the shepherd.

Bishop Will Willimon said the other day at Founders Day that we had given power to language to transform our vocation from preaching to pastor. We wilfully gave up the role of Disciple for the role of Shepherd. So now, I have to wonder what the role of Preacher would entail versus the role of Pastor. I don't have the answers, but I hope you might have some insights, my reader.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Prayer Day

I spent this morning in Thousand Oaks. For the first part of the morning I was alone. Later, a good friend and colleague showed up, and we continued together until about 1:30 - through lunch.

I spent the day in prayer. I prayed for my congregation; I prayed for the other clergy I know, and many I don't know; I prayed for discernment; I prayed for an inner peace; I prayed through several hundred prayers I have collected over the past several years. 

A few years ago I was having some trouble praying. I could do community prayers, and mealtime prayers, but they began to fall into some ruts, and I began to think that maybe I ought to explore prayer a little more. I looked at several forms of prayer, and realized I was missing a great treasure right before me.

I read about 350 blogs a day. Well, not all 350 post on any given day, and many of them post a lot during the day. I don't even actually read all the posts, but I do try to skim most of them, and sort for relevant or interesting bits. I discovered that many of my blog friends were posting prayers on a regular basis. I could learn something from this.

I started picking them off as people posted their prayers, and adding them to a Google Document I keep online as well, just for prayers. This month I finally exceeded the amount of space allotted to any single document, so I had to start another page of prayers. 

Today in prayer, I read through many of them, and found some that really hit me right between the eyes. I am grateful to the original posters who found these and added them to my library and am linking to them. Here are three that really got to me.

A Prayer of Mother Theresa of Calcutta ht: Revmommy

The fruit of silence is prayer
the fruit of prayer is faith
the fruit of faith is love
the fruit of love is service
the fruit of service is peace.

Oh Lord, give me a backbone as big as a sawlog,
ribs like the sleepers under the church floor,
put iron shoes on me and galvanized breeches,
give me a rhinoceros hide for a skin,
and hang a wagonload of determination up in the gable-end of my soul,
and help me to sign the contract to fight the devil as long as I've got a fist
and bite him as long as I have a tooth,
then gum him till I die.
All this I ask for Christ's sake.
-- Early 20th Century Nazarene Evangelist, Uncle Buddy Robinson

Prayer for an Average Sunday
Kenneth G. Phifer

Eternal God, look now upon me as I wait,
stilled for a time,
subdued and quiet.
You know that it is hard for me to wait.
It is hard for me to be still.
I rush from one thing to another,
churning up my life
into hectic waves of accomplishment.
When night falls, I confess I feel a bit guilty
if I have done nothing except be myself.
I even come to prayer with the feeling
that it is apart from life,
that when it is over I had best do something.
Even in church I want to sing a hymn
or take up an offering.
And then when church is over,
I plunge back into my world where the action is.
O Lord, do I have it wrong,
twisted around?
Are there more occasions than I realize
when I would be a better person
if I didn't do anything but just stand there?
Do I fail to hear the real needs
of loved ones, friends, and neighbors,
because I am too busy figuring out
what next to do for them,
or maybe to them?
Am I so absorbed in running the world
that I am not aware of you
and of the things you have to say to me?
Calm me down, I pray.
Calm me down
to the place where I can remember
how many times you have managed to keep me going
when I thought I could not make it.
Calm me down
so that I can recall times of steadiness and fear
when a courage was infused in me
that enabled me to hold on.
Calm me down
so that I can accept my limitations without panic
and in the knowledge that I cannot do everything.
In many ways I do not do anything.
In some ways I do the wrong things.
In the silence before the mystery and the meaning,
I stand waiting,
quieted by wonder.
For life is filled with mystery, meaning, and wonder.
The mystery of being itself.
The meaning that keeps breaking through to me,
meaning encompassed in words
like faith, hope, and love.
And I wonder why when I pray, I believe,
and why when I believe, I pray.
May I be assured that what I do matters
and what I say counts,
because you are in me and for me.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-- Kenneth G. Phifer, A Book of Uncommon Prayer
Nashville: The Upper Room, 1981

Monday, December 08, 2008

Shelter Night

Sometimes life provides those little reminders of what God can do.

Tonight it was just a simple night of serving food at the homeless shelter in Ojai.
Nothing mind-numbing, faith-shattering, or world shaking in one way or another. 
This was just providing some food to some folks who needed food, and some brief conversation.

This was a basic start and a return to shelter ministry. 

Every journey begins with a single step. 
Like Abram I don't know where God will ultimately take me.
However, I trust the path before me.

Tomorrow begins a day of intentional prayer, concluded with the Children's program at Noah's Ark Preschool at Ojai United Methodist Church

Quote of the Day

This one made me laugh:

"Disney denies that the pirates were replaced by Tinker Bell fairies."

Visioning Continued

This is the next step in the process.

Visioning 2008/09 
Ojai UMC


We have been working toward a common Vision for Ojai UMC. These groupings are being used to help flesh out our Vision more clearly. 

A Vision is a "to be" statement of Ojai UMC, defining the type of community we wish to become. It is a realistic future statement, which complements the gifts and graces of the church and needs the input of the community because these are the people with whom we interact and live, and are trying to present the real and active message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have already met with individuals to find out some of their hopes and dreams for Ojai UMC. We have begun to surface the Spiritual Gifts of the members of Ojai UMC. We have named some of the tangible assets of Ojai UMC, and determined some of the intangible assets. We have started to look at the needs of the larger community as we will form our Vision around the gifts and assets of the church and where they intersect with the needs of the community. We will conclude our Visioning process with a meeting or two of all interested parties to name our Vision. We will then look at what we will need to do to implement and effect the larger Vision for Ojai UMC.

What we're doing:

We are gathering in several small groups for about 2 hours to talk about our individual Visions for the church, and begin to develop our common Vision for Ojai UMC. this time will be facilitated by the Pastor, and the Lay Leaders will be invited to listen in to each session.

This is an opportunity to share with our fellow members the things we love about the church, our core values about church, some of the gifts we see, and the needs of the community we think we can and should address.

Groupings (8-10 People):


Sunday, December 07, 2008


So I talked some about Vision the other day, and today I ran across a helpful article posted by Beth Quick, from Lovett Weems.

This one has to do with Mission. 
What is our mission? For what purpose has God raised up the UMC, or a particular UMC? Mission statements are to often in 'be' language instead of 'do' language. The mission is everything. Everything a church does should answer the "so that" question. We do this _________ SO THAT _________ (mission is fulfilled.) We have a bulletin so that ________. We have a choir, ushers, so that ___________. We worship so that _____________.

Vision and Mission often go hand in hand, but they are ultimately meaningless if:

1) They are set up without consulting the derivative community

2) They do not address the intersecting community

3) the people do not act according to the statements.

4) and in the Church, they do not aim to the Beloved Community


Saturday, December 06, 2008


I have been pondering what a good Vision looks like for a local church. I am starting with a look at some Vision Statements from large International Corporations. I was surprised to find that Vision Statements are much more specific than I originally imagined.

To achieve sustainable growth, we have established a vision with clear goals.

Profit: Maximizing return to shareowners while being mindful of our overall responsibilities.
People: Being a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.
Portfolio: Bringing to the world a portfolio of beverage brands that anticipate and satisfy peoples; desires and needs.
Partners: Nurturing a winning network of partners and building mutual loyalty.
Planet: Being a responsible global citizen that makes a difference.

"GM’s vision is to be the world leader in transportation products and related services. We will earn our customers’ enthusiasm through continuous improvement driven by the integrity, teamwork, and innovation of GM people." 

"McDonald's vision is to be the world's best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile."

"Toyota's vision is to become the most successful and respected lift truck company in the U.S."

I thought maybe a Vision Statement I would imagine for Ojai United Methodist Church would look like: 
"We are going to provide the best experience of God's loving mercy to the Preschoolers of Ojai and their families. " 

I don't expect this would be the vision statement for the church, as many of the voices necessary to a full vision for the church are not present in it, but it gives me an idea for a jumping off point.

I feel this would encourage us toward the younger people we hope to attract, as well as focus us on one of the great assets of the church, Noah's Ark Preschool.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Five

Sally poses this contemplative Friday Five:
"Imagine a complex, multi-cultural society that annually holds an elaborate winter festival, one that lasts not simply a few days, but several weeks. This great festival celebrates the birth of the Lord and Saviour of the world, the prince of peace, a man who is divine. People mark the festival with great abundance- feasting, drinking and gift giving....." (Richard Horsley- The Liberation of Christmas)

The passage goes on, recounting the decorations that are hung, and the songs and dances that accompany the festival, how the economy booms and philanthropic acts abound....

But this is not Christmas- this is a Roman festival in celebration of the Emperor....This is the world that Jesus was born into! The world where the early Christians would ask "Who is your Saviour the Emperor or Christ?"

And yet our shops and stores and often our lives are caught up in a world that looks very much like the one of ancient Rome, where we worship at the shrine of consumerism....

Advent on the other hand calls us into the darkness, a time of quiet preparation, a time of waiting, and re-discovering the wonder of the knowledge that God is with us. Advent's call is to simplicity and not abundance, a time when we wait for glorious light of God to come again...

Christ is with us at this time of advent, in the darkness, and Christ is coming with his light- not the light of the shopping centre, but the light of love and truth and beauty.

What do you long for this advent? What are your hopes and dreams for the future? What is your prayer today?
In the vein of simplicity I ask you to list five advent longings....

My Five Longings:
Healthy Family
Downsizing the household

Misses it twice...but funny

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Christmas Meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?I prefer gift bags
2. Real tree or Artificial? I used to love the real tree, but more cost effective to use the artificial tree we have.
3. When do you put up the tree? when I do it.
4. When do you take the tree down? See above
5. Do you like eggnog? No
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Legos or Star Wars
7. Hardest person to buy for? Brother-in-Law
8. Easiest person to buy for? Sister or Dad
9. Do you have a nativity scene? several
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Neither any more. I used to do Valentines instead to avoid being further rushed during the holidays
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I have forgotten it
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Don't have one
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? All year long. The big crush used to be the week of...this time I am giving to charity instead
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Mulled Cider
16. Lights on the tree? Yes.
17. Favorite Christmas song?I Saw Three Ships. The Holly and The Ivy, Little Drummer Boy
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?  I try to be with family
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Nope
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Depends on the year
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Both. We've always opened one on Christmas Eve. 
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? That it starts earlier and earlier each year
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Trying to cut back
24. Favorite food for Christmas dinner? Roast Beast
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Safe Travels

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Blog Comment Day

December 3rd is the first annual Blog Comment Day. Created by John Smulo, Blog Comment Day is designed to encourage us to interact, especially on blogs we might not normally comment on:
Though there may be 100 reasons why people blog, I've yet to meet a blogger who doesn't appreciate comments. For this reason I'm starting Blog Comment Day on December 3, 2008. Here's how it works:
  • On December 3, 2008 you will leave one comment on at least 5 different blogs.
  • Out of the 5 blogs you comment on, at least 2 of them will be blogs you haven't commented on previously.
So, my faithful readers, what the heck are you still doing here? Go on, get out of here. Go find a new blog to bug (just for today, of course)!

Unless you have never commented here before, in which case FIRE AWAY. I'm thrilled to meet you.


I have talked about the visioning process, and I have talked about Seth Godin's little book The Dip.

Right now I am looking at the stages of change as I have noticed them.

1) Being able to talk about change
2) Discovering the change that needs to be made
3) Accepting the change needed
4) Making the change
5) Change effected

This then cycles through the system again and again. I am grateful to my predecessor for setting the stage at Ojai UMC that the people here can talk about change. The visioning process then guides us into the discovery stage of change. 

I am excited to see what materializes from our discussions. But it will take persistence to see it through. As such, I am now handing the Spiritual Gift Inventories to the congregation by hand. I am also trying to get in whatever visits I can with members of the congregation I can before Christmas. Time to a get a crack on the small group gatherings.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Charitable Giving

As you may have noticed from my post yesterday, I am trying to find ways to donate to charity this year.

I have found a good resource: REDEFINE CHRISTMAS. May you spend well there as you benefit other agencies of your choosing.

I am giving to charity this year instead of giving gifts for everyone in my family.

There are countless places to give. I would be remiss to tell you of a few others that matter to me:

Ojai UMC is a great place and a worthy charity. 50 years of ministry and counting.
-We support Noah's Ark Preschool, HELP of Ojai, UMCOR, and many others

Cal-Pac Camps
-I have been a counselor and dean for camping for the past 10 years
-I am currently the chair of the Wrightwood Site Development Committee

Monday, December 01, 2008

World AIDS Day

I did my part today and went to Starbucks. Okay, I admit it was the cheap way out, but they got me to try a new drink just because I could donate 5 pennies to World AIDS day. Doesn't seem like much until you consider how many cups of coffee Starbucks gives out a day, and what else they are doing to help.

So I went ahead and gave to UMCOR, and the World AIDS project there.

For many people in my generation AIDS was a by-word until Pedro came along on MTV's "The Real World" and put a face to a disease many of had never witnessed before, just heard rumor and innuendo about.

But, the person who made an impact on me was my next door neighbor during my time in Santa Barbara First United Methodist Church. Catherine Birtalan came to be an outstanding speaker and presenter on HIV and AIDS while being a member at FUMCSB. I am grateful for her witness, her struggles and her friendship. Without her I would not have learned compassion in the same way, nor found out about the wonderful resource that is Strength for the Journey Camps.

Thank you to each of these for reminding me to look beyond myself and care for others in new and special ways.