Saturday, January 31, 2009

Taking Big Steps

The other day at Mt. Hermon Retreat Center, listening to a Worship Leader at the National Camp and Retreat Conference a poem was quoted.

Many of us have heard the line from Nelson Mandela, "Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, it is that we are powerful beyond measure".

In trying to find a source for appropriate pride in the local church, I found the full text from the original poem here, and plan to share it in sermon coming soon.

I want to challenge us to be "powerful beyond measure" and unashamed of that power, so that we might bring others to fullness too.

Labels: ,

Friday, January 30, 2009

I have a Virus...

More of what I love...

The Original:

The Sequel:

So what if I have a virus....

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Moving to California?

Are you interested in coming to California? Did you enjoy your last vacation and want to live here now?

Have I got a deal for you...

The house my dad grew up in, and I got to be a grandkid in is now for sale in Arcadia.

Check out the house, see the views. The house has been redone recently, and looks great. 

Have fun...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

GIS Programs

Any got a favorite GIS program they use. 

I want to do some work with Camp Data, and with Clergy Data. I am looking for a good, free download for GIS that will help plot incomes, housing market details, and population density for clergy; and camper location, population density, and frequency

Suggestions a VERY welcome

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Keeping up with the Jones'

I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day about how to develop Pride in the local church. It seems we do a pretty good job of this in most of our churches during pledge campaigns, but what are we doing to claim the change and the pride we have in the local church during the rest of the year.

I am mindful that during 2008 Ojai UMC had a great chance to affirm the pride we have in the church and the community as we celebrated our 50th year of Ministry in the Ojai Valley.

Sometimes the church asks, "What have you done for me lately?"

It is during those times that we need to look to the congregation to build on the work that we have been doing, to proclaim the changes that God is working in our lives, and to build up the community of believers.

The suggestion he made was one he had culled from the Santa Barbara First United Methodist Church, where I had previously served. This program was instituted after I left and so it is new to me in some ways, but I am aware that Del Rosa UMC did it for a period of time when I was there in one form or another. But he affirmed the notion that this process and sharing needs to be formalized.

The process hearkens back to the vows we take at membership to affirm the local church with our "prayers, presence, gifts and service." He challenged me to create a space for members of the local church to do this once a month. I will work on doing I think this is a great idea.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What a Vision is...

As I continue to think about the Visioning process of Ojai UMC I am reminded to look at what a Vision is, and what it is not.

Part of the frustration of so many people in trying to build a vision for the local church or another organization is the head-banging and infighting that comes with trying to develop Vision with program in mind.

Real Vision needs to escape the trap of trying to program the way through and develop a "To Be" statement that can then incorporate the "program" or "how to" of proceeding.

For instance, when asked about what a Vision for the church might be, I have gotten responses like: "Well, we could have a praise service to attract the people to church". This is a programmatic response, and does not actually entail a Vision. The vision to be pulled from this type of statement is that we want to be a lively church, filled with people.

Then we have to take the Vision statement, and check it against what our gifts and graces are as a church, and what the needs of the community are. If we want to be something that the community does not need, or that we cannot create from the gifts we have, then it is not the right Vision for the church.

Once the Vision has been clarified, then the programs suggested can be filtered back through the Vision to see if this is what we need to be doing. Such an instance would be that we claim: "We are a church for all peoples." Using this Vision statement we would then filter programs through it. If we are going to say that we are going to let the Black Republicans meet here as part of our Vision, then it would qualify. If we then proceed to turn any group away from the building for use then we have already betrayed our Vision, and clarified the reality that our Vision is too broad.

We have an opportunity to use each of these clarifying comments and programs to develop a better sense of what we can be to and with the community of Ojai. With clarity of purpose comes an enthusiasm for the work at hand. With enthusiasm comes pride, and doing a good job. With a good job comes the respect and shared purpose of the entire community, and it is through such things that a church can grow.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

If Your Church Closed Today...

Lovett Weems offers a great piece on Budget Drives in this issue of Interpreter Magazine.

I am reminded of the power of his words, and I wish I had them in hand two months ago during our pledge drive. It isn't about asking for money until it hurts.

Ministry is about doing something and being something that people believe in. When people believe in something they will give the time, energy and money that is required to sustain the life of the organization.

This is what Visioning at Ojai UMC is about.

Check out the article. Then go check out who we are and are not reaching in his other article. It is through these types of questions we will obtain a better grasp on our Vision.


Sermon Notes January 18, 2009

The Scripture comes this morning from 1 Samuel 3:1-10, and it is the call of Samuel.

Whenever I get the chance to come back to Samuel's story I take a little extra time, because I know in some ways it is my own story. I think about how Samuel's mother had pleaded with God in the Temple to "open her womb". She was there crying and the temple priest accused her of being drunk, and to go home. She replied that she was simply crying out to God for help to have a child. When she had the child she dedicated the child to God's service.

My own mother, after I had been ordained, came to me that evening as we were celebrating the Ordination as a family that she and my dad had dedicated me to God's service when I was just born. This came as a surprise, but also as a culmination of what God had been doing in my life.

Like Samuel I had been dedicated to God before I even had knowledge of this. Samuel and I gave ourselves to God's service very early on. We read right there at the beginning of Chapter 3 that Samuel had ministered before the Lord under Eli, before God came calling in the night. I heard my call at age 5 to be in Camp Ministry. I have taken a long road around to get there, and still in process for this in several ways. I knew I needed to have Sacramental Rites to affirm the rest of the call to camp ministry, and I am still discerning where "Camp Ministry" will lead me.

Samuel's call morphed in many ways in the years to come as well. I am reminded that he was asked to 1) Speak Plainly [we see this in the very next passage 11-20 where Samuel tells Eli some very bad news about his house being discontinued in the priesthood] 2) Serve as God's Priest/King [mind you the people reject this, and call for a "real king" to which God responds that they have not rejected Samuel, only God, and yet God complies and helps select first Saul and then David] 3) Select a king for an apostate people 4) Remind the people that even in their unfaithfulness God is going to remain faithful to them.

Looking at the passage we are able to uncover more to the story of Eli and Samuel. We hear that Eli had sight problems, and we can imagine that Samuel was sleeping in the Temple center, and would come running whenever Eli called to help him go to the bathroom, to attend to late night supplicants before the Lord, or just to offer hospitality to a weary traveler to the Temple. So when a voice calls out to Samuel, we can imagine his haste in running to Eli's side. After the third time we might imagine that Samuel is a little frustrated and ready to pack it in. But, it is this third time that Eli finally figures it out - God is calling for Samuel, and he offers Samuel some advice about how to respond the next time the voice calls out.

We can imagine what might have been running through Eli's mind. Eli had been a Temple priest for a long time. He was the head honcho, and his sons were the next in line to take the priesthood. He had come from a long line of Levitical Priests, and here comes this upstart, Samuel. He isn't a Levite. His mother gave him to the Temple as part of her "tithe and offering" to God for giving her a child. He was just a little boy, somewhere about 5-12 years of age. We imagine that Eli had never heard from God because it took him so long to understand that it was God calling to Samuel, and the introduction that tells us "the word of the Lord was rare". And yet, Eli trusts in God's call and thinks that maybe God has something new in store for Israel.

So Samuel goes back to bed, and we can see him there on his palatte, expecting to hear the voice again, and wondering what it is that God might have him say or do. Samuel responds dutifully "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening". He spoke into the night just like he had been told, and yet if we look more closely things were not the same as they had been. Previously it had been a voice calling in the night to Samuel. This time, when Samuel is aware of who is calling him, God is standing there. This is a true vision, and it seems God waited until Samuel understood who was calling him.

We need to be listening for the voice of God calling out in the night. When we see the lord before us we need to be willing to risk whatever we have to go as God calls. This is part of the Visioning process for us at Ojai UMC. We have a lot of history, and it may be an upstart who comes along and tells us what it is that God has shown in a Vision. It may come from the one who has not been here long, or a dream that one of our long-time members has had that we need to listen more closely.

God is calling out for us to hear...our Vision is what God is calling to us to do....let us listen for the voice in the night.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Camp Certification

A few years back I began the process for Certification in Camp and Retreat Ministry in the United Methodist Church. I am now due for my renewal in this certification, and so as I reflect on what I have done to maintain my credentials I will share some of the process and some of the things I learned from the experience.

The program was developed with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Division of Deacons; the General Board of Discipleship, Camp and Retreat Program; and Drew University, School of Theology.


I found the process to be a tough scholastic exercise with more active hands-on practicum work than most schooling I have received, yet still missing something. I am grateful that I had the chance, and I intend to maintain my certification in Camp and Retreat Ministry. In fact, I am using this post as a reminder to call the Board of Ordained Ministry in the California-Pacific Annual Conference to schedule my meeting with the Board to reconfirm my progress with said credential.

I reaffirm the statements I made when discussing the Certification process for Christian Education, and I will see where this round takes me. Of course, there is always the need to stay current with the practices of ministry. For this I am grateful for the National Camp Leader's Gathering in Mt. Hermon Retreat Center, here in California.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Claiming the "Other"

Gavin shared an interesting bit about dissolving marketing. 

It reminded me of Susan Cox-Johnson and her blog the other day about why the UMC couldn't quite get its arms around Emergent, and the comment I left on her blog. I think upon reflection that I missed the full extent of the conversation around the emerging church she was present for, but it spurred thoughts for me about integrating the church with "any" movement or marketing strategy.

I leave you with the comment I left, and the video that Gavin shared to consider how this is working out in your context, especially as the church seems to be losing the branding/marketing battle...and maybe for good cause. 

I believe that as with so many other things we are afraid of the "other" and that it makes it very difficult to integrate the "other" into our way of being or thinking. Emergent seems to have developed into the "Other" in UMC culture. 
However, I would offer a word of hope for just such a situation. We are given the command to welcome the "other" into our midst just as we were once Egypt, to Israel, to Christ, to the church...and as such can be focused into this way.
Additionally, I think that when we can rediscover how that which is "other" is foundational to who we are, and how we came to be, that we welcome it as self, rather than "other" and can therefore integrate such things back into our stylings. I believe this is where we hold the most cards in dealing with our local churches.
I know there is a longing for depth of person and spirit to be developed in and with our congregations and think that as we can resolve how it has already been formative to how we came to be at this point we can uncover that deep wellspring of God within, and create the "emergent church" within our local churches, without the label and therefore eradicating much of the attendant fear.

Scholz & Friends: "Dramatic shift in marketing reality" from Michael Reissinger on Vimeo.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 19, 2009

Visioning Pt. 4

  • Developing action plans:

What are we passionate about accomplishing?

What action plans engage our deep passion?

What actions and programs will help us fulfill this vision?

Who could do these programs and actions? To what details do we need to pay attention?

Are there opportunities for practicing intentional spiritual disciplines that will help us discern more clearly specific programs and directions toward which God is leading us?

What has to be changed?

Is there a willingness to enable people to practice acts of justice and mercy as part of their ministry within the church?

Is there a process of spiritual accountability within the congregation that offers leader a place to grow in their spiritual lives?


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Visioning pt. 3

  • Visioning the “desired reality”:

Where would God like this church to be next year? Five years from now? Twenty-five years from now?

Why has God raised up this congregation in this community at this time in history?

As we listen to God, what is the desired reality for the future? How can we get a clear picture (vision) of what that would look like?

What positive difference is God calling our congregation to make in this community and beyond?

Where do our gifts meet the needs of this church, of the community, and elsewhere in the world?

Does the vision reflect the real ministry needs in this locality?

Is the vision exciting? Does it energize the people?


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Visioning pt.2

  • Develop a clear understanding of “current reality”:

What are our core values? How well do they propel us toward fulfilling our mission?

What are the gifts that God has given this church?

What are the trends in membership, worship attendance, participation in educational events, financial giving, and mission outreach for the last five years?

How effectively do we embrace diversity within our church?

When people visit our church and decide to go elsewhere, do we know why?

Is there clear understanding of the church finances? Are there unrealistic perceptions?

How well are we currently doing in making disciples?

How are we doing in reaching out beyond ourselves?

What community or world event has affected our congregation recently and how have we responded?

How are we perceived by our larger local community?

Do we comprehend the perspective of those outside our church?

What are the dreams and hopes of our community?

What are the current outcomes/results of our established programs?  


Friday, January 16, 2009

Visioning Thoughts Pt.1

As we enter into the Visioning Process with Small Groups to help focus our plans for the future of Ojai UMC I am reminded of several series of Questions we did a few years ago at Del Rosa UMC.

The basic premise of the questions is to ask:

1) Who have we been?
2) What is the Community around us?
3) How do we want to be known?

This goes back to the issue of being proud of the church we participate in, such that we would welcome the chance to invite others, knowing there is something powerful for them too.

The series of questions in each subheading are coming in the days ahead


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ojai Singles Scene

First Off: I have not suddenly become single...I am still happily married to my wonderful wife.

Now, on with the show.

I have often marveled at the singles scene in various locales. College seemed to be the only "good" place for such a thing. I have tried the hiking groups, and the local bar scene (though I never could get into that one so much). I enjoyed simple things and places to make connections naturally, rather than trying to force something. But, it seems the places to do so are dwindling.

I wonder what kinds of activities would be warm and welcoming for the single person in Ojai, or in your area for that matter. Would a gathering that featured Wii game nights, World of Warcraft, Low Ropes Elements, Art Classes of Pottery or some other activity bring you in to check it out? What kind of activity would you come back for week after week.

I know when I was at the Wesley Foundation it was dinner, and some TV and games that kept me going back. Would a crash pad of some variety make a difference to this ministry if you got beyond 25?

Any help, thoughts or insights as to what has been successful in your area would be appreciated. I welcome Joseph Yoo's thought of a Coffee Shop ministry. How could that be expanded so as to exclude alcohol as the draw, and still be viable?

Just thinking out loud here...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Yesterday I got a hair-brained scheme to try some variety of Cioppino.

I found some great recipes on

I decided to try my own variant with a mixture of frozen seafoods, some still in the shell clams, tomato paste, some progresso light italian vegetable soup, some veggies - mushrooms, spinach, carrots, and eggplant. I added a little Essence of Emeril to the batch, and we shall see what emerges.

Tastes tests so far have been wonderful. I even put some of the broth aside to build a future soup base.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Charge Conference

Yesterday was the big day. The all church annual meeting kept us after church for a couple of hours as we discussed the reports from the various committees at Ojai UMC.

We turned in all of our paperwork, and there are a couple of items to do with some lists and accounting of the endowment funds that have to be completed and added as a supplemental to the charge conference report.

All in all it was a good day. We addressed some much needed issues, and I think the state of the church, and especially the attitude of the people seems to be one that will bring us into a place where when we complete our visioning process we will have a firm awareness of who we are. Additionally, the full picture of self awareness will enable us to move more firmly into the vision we posit for ourselves.

If you are so interested in our charge conference reports, they are available through the church office.



Baptismal Renewal

Sunday Sermon January 11

Mark 1:4-11

After a time of renewing the Baptismal Covenant with a service of Baptismal Renewal - Found in the United Methodist Book of Worship we looked to the Baptism of Jesus in Mark.

I will confess that I chopped up pieces of old papers and quotes for the sermon, and I apologize for the disjointedness of it all.

Here is what I used in bits and pieces:

Sermon title: "Finishing School"

Sermon Notes:Acts 16:33 (New International Version)

33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.

Quotes for Ordination Papers


"Baptism is a sacrament of truth and holiness; and it is a sacrament, because it is the sign which directs us to God's revelation of eternal life and declares, not merely the Christian 'myth', but - the Word of God. It does not merely signify eternal reality, but is eternal reality." (Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (London; Oxford University Press, 1933, p192)


(Understanding Baptism though the lens of Juergen Moltmann, as put together in a paper by unknown author)


"Christians become Christians by Baptism."


"As a gift of God baptism is the incorporation into Christ and the entry into the new covenant.[1] Immerses the baptized in the liberating death of Christ, it washes away their sins, it raises them to a new life in the power of the resurrection of Christ and it gives them a new ethical orientation.[2] Baptism is accompanied by the gift of the Holy Spirit so that the baptized find themselves fostered and guided by the Spirit.[3]"


'The baptism clearly is a sign for the repentance the forgiveness of sins"


"Baptism is differentiated from the process of receiving the Holy Spirit. In receiving the Spirit Christians are endowed with the power of God which makes them enter the realm of the spirit of God."


"They are endowed with the spirit, they bear it and they are expected to do his holy work in the world they live in."


"Being baptized is part of the comprehensive process"


(- Class notes from Theodore Runyon - Theology of the Church and Sacraments -)

(Responding to Barth and Moltmann)

"Baptism is three factors 1) call of God, 2) relation to God, 3) response to God and by God"


"Qualitatively all baptism is infant baptism"

"Qualitatively all baptism is adult baptism: It has as goal kingdom service and Christian maturity"



"Christ is the sacrament, who is the material means by which the Creator extends his blessing to all humankind."

[1] BEM par B1

[2] BEM par B2-4

[3] BEM par B 5



  1. What is the meaning and significance of each Sacrament?

The two Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, are "outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace" (Offices of Instruction [Catechism]). Moreover, the Sacraments effect what they signify.

Baptism is not a status but instead a calling. It is a celebration of God's adoption. Baptism is about the call of God, the relationship to God of humanity, and the response of the individual to the call of God. Baptism is an amazing act of prevenient grace, that which we are unaware and yet surrounds us. Baptism is significant in that God has done something for the individual, not that the individual can do something for God. Baptism is a divine action. "But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5, NIV). Further, it is the church's action in recognition and adopting responsibility in that divine action. Baptism lays the foundation for future responsibility and achievements, both with the baptized and with the congregation that is present. All baptism is infant baptism theologically, 'while we were yet helpless'. God calls us to relationship through the Holy Spirit, and restores the relationship through Jesus Christ. In our baptism we are incorporated with Christ in relationship with God. But, the relationship with God does not end with baptism, we need to continually renew that relationship, which is where the Lord's Supper can be of benefit in helping us on the way to being perfected in love for God and one another.

We cannot be perfected in love on our own. We need God's help. Outler writes, "[God] has given us certain means of obtaining his help. One of these is the Lord's Supper, which of his infinite mercy he hath given for this very end: that through this means we may be assisted to attain those blessings which he hath prepared for us; that we may obtain holiness on earth and everlasting glory in heaven." ("The New Creation", John Wesley's Sermons: An Anthology; Albert C. Outler, Richard P. Heitzenrater, Abingdon Press, 1987, p.505) Communion is a means of grace, the way in which God comes ever closer to us. We have to take action to recognize God's presence and seek to be more Christ-like in our behaviors. Christ himself is The Means of Grace, the one through whom the grace of God is given in totality, to all of creation, not just humans. All of creation can be changed as the members of the community share in the bread and the cup, as it transforms them from the inside to react to God, and act in the world. Communion, in the remembrance of Christ invites us to partake in the life and death of Christ, that our very living and dying may serve God as Christ served God. Each of the meanings of the Lord's Supper preserves an element of the shared life in God. As the Lord's Supper, the meal Jesus instituted with the Disciples, we have a covenantal meal, with the blood of the new covenant "given for you and for many, as the forgiveness of sins." When we participate in Communion we celebrate koinonia, fellowship, with one another and with God, through the common meal of the body of believers. In the Eucharist give thanksgiving, and blessing for all that God has done for us, particularly in the remembrance of Christ's death for us on the cross. During the Communion we begin the preparation for mission, taking provisions for the journey, reminded that we are sent out from the common gathering to be in the world for the sake of the Gospel. Communion helps us to realize the covenant nature of baptism and seals us further in the task of transforming the world through the work of the Holy Spirit co-mingled with our spirits.

Simply, Christians become Christians by Baptism. The great thing about God is that Baptism is not the only door into the Christian life. John Wesley reminds us of another method, that of Communion. He held that Communion is "a converting ordinance", that in the taking of the bread and the cup one can become a Christian and God's grace and mercy is imparted to the individual seeking after God in the coming to the table. We have tangible elements of the Sacraments, the water, the juice and the bread, and in each of them we take an inward vow to God, that changes us and mirrors itself into the world. 


Sunday, January 11, 2009

20 Random Things

20 Random Things about me.

1. I tried surfing and ripped my face up on the rocks, and gave up
2. I have been sand surfing on the Eureka Sand Dunes
3. I have hiked a 50-miler over the Sierra Nevadas
4. I heard my call to ministry when I was about 5, after coming home from camp
5. I love mornings
6. Monday is my favorite day of the week - I like to get things started right
7. I dated Minnie Mouse
8. I took gymnastics
9. I played the trumpet, the piano and the organ
10. I was a math geek in grade school
11. I have a collection of UM Disciplines that goes back to the 1700s
12. I lettered (Varsity) in Tennis, Wrestling and Soccer
13. I have JV Letters in Golf, and Basketball
14. I played Club Ultimate Frisbee in College
15. My wife and I had several "near misses" in meeting one another before we met June 20, 2003
16. My family consists of 4 clergy among my two other siblings and our spouses (5 if you count the dating scene)
17. My parents have been married for 38 years this February
18. I enjoy Oriental Rugs, and am fascinated by them
19. I collect prayers for when I do not know how to pray
20. I can and do sew (mostly buttons these days, but a few quilts and other clothes too)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pondering Pride

I am aware that the Bible speaks against pride in many ways.

Proverbs 8:13

But I am mindful too of the need for some level of pride that allows one to be active, celebratory and hopeful about themselves. The image of self may be personal, part of a small community, or even a larger community.

In this time of transition and visioning for Ojai UMC, I want to encourage us to a level of personal pride and communal pride, both in the local church and in the larger church. This may be the United Methodist Church or the Church Universal - the one body of Christ, as both have the need of pride.

God has given us many great gifts and things to hope for in the risen Savior. From Pride comes a sense of self that knows that it is worthy. This is where the excess of pride comes to say that one is more worthy of respect, entitlement or goods than one really is. But, it seems to me that to not be proud of self, in any of these incarnations, is to be self-abusive.

So in this I will encourage and hope for a church with Pride. I will do what I can to bring to light the gifts and graces that enable a bright future, laced with hope and compassion for a larger community - that of Ojai, the United States, The UMC and the Church Universal.

For that kind of Pride I also look to Scripture to find a gauge.

Friday, January 09, 2009

More from Mikey


~ I joined a health club last year, spent about 400 bucks. Haven't lost a pound.  Apparently, you have to show up.

~ If God meant us to touch our toes, he would have put them further up our body.

~ I have flabby thighs, but fortunately my stomach covers them.

~ If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.

~ The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.

~ I don't jog. It makes the ice jump right out of my glass.

~ I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

~ I have to exercise early in the morning before my brain figures out what I'm doing.


Furniture Disease is when you reach that stage in life when your chest starts sliding down into your drawers.


Yeah, you can send this Funny to anybody you want. And, if you're REAL nice, you'll tell them where you got it! 

Thursday, January 08, 2009

An (YouTube) Experiment

Kevin Watson at deeplycommitted has started an experiment to see how much social capital Methodist bloggers have. This experiment was prompted by the feeling among some Methodist bloggers that United Methodism does not always do as good of a job as it could at getting the Wesleyan message out there, particularly on-line. So, he wants to see how many views a YouTube video can get if Methodist bloggers work together to promote it. The experiment is to see how many hits the video will receive in two weeks.

If you want to participate you can: First, watch the video below. Second, copy and paste this entire post into a new post on your blog and post it. Third, remind people about this experiment in one week.

Based on the results of the experiment, Kevin will get in touch with the folks at Discipleship Resources and let them know the ways in which Methodist bloggers are often an underused resource.

Here is a link to the video:

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"To Be The Cup Overflowing"

The Vision Statement of the Cal-Pac Conference is "To Be The Cup Overflowing".

The principles of such are that they surround the Wesleyan Way defining the Public and Private Works of Piety and Works of Mercy:

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)

The Conference is aiming to do this through:
1. Vision
2. Covenant
3. Navigation

And in the materials we were handed at Conference a few years ago I found a wonderful definition of Vision:

The future, preferred reality, God's yearning, our purpose.

That is beautiful and what we are going to aim for in our discussion of what the Vision for Ojai UMC will be.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Starting New

I began a new program this week to try and help me find a new shape in 2009.

This morning in my email I got this reminder of bad exercises, from Mikey's Funnies.


~ Jumping on the bandwagon        

~ Wading through paperwork

~ Running around in circles        

~ Pushing your luck

~ Spinning your wheels            

~ Adding fuel to the fire

~ Beating your head against the wall    

~ Climbing the walls

~ Beating your own drum            

~ Dragging your heels

~ Jumping to conclusions            

~ Grasping at straws

~ Fishing for compliments            

~ Throwing your weight around

~ Passing the buck


Amazing!  You hang something in your closet for a while and it shrinks 2 sizes! 


Yeah, you can send this Funny to anybody you want. And, if you're REAL nice, you'll tell them where you got it! 

Monday, January 05, 2009

12th night

For the twelve days of Christmas I post the explanation of those days. My comments from Ace Collins' book Stories Behind the Best Loved Songs of Christmas are in italics.

The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…"

The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor, but it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. i.e. the Church.

1st Day: The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them.
The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the Cross.
2nd Day: The "two turtle doves" refers to the Old and New Testaments.
3rd Day: The "three French hens" stand for faith, hope and love—the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Corinthians 13). Or the three gifts of the Magi - Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
4th Day: The "four calling birds" refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.
5th Day: The "five golden rings" represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
6th Day: The "six geese a-laying" is the six days of creation.
7th Day: The "seven swans a-swimming" refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
8th Day: The "eight maids a milking " reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount. The maids a milking reminds us that Christ came for everyone, even the lowliest of persons, like the milk maids of England at the time
9th Day: The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
10th Day: The "ten lords a-leaping" represents the Ten Commandments
11th Day: The "eleven pipers piping" refers to the eleven faithful apostles.
12th Day: The ‘twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles’ Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Epiphany Sermon

The short story is that for today's sermon I developed a few tidbits for the congregation from Ace Collins book Stories Behind the Best Loved Songs of Christmas

The stories for today were about:
Go Tell It On The Mountain
We Three Kings
Hark The Herald Angels
The First Noel
Joy To The World
The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Conclusion of the service was to sing the Twelve Days of Christmas, but if I had really been on my game I would have had the benediction be the Apostle's Creed, which the twelfth day of the Twelve Days of Christmas reminds us of the twelve points of the Apostle's Creed. So here is the Apostle's Creed in all its glory.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
    the Maker of heaven and earth,
    and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
    born of the virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended into hell.

The third day He arose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven,
    and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
    from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;
    the holy catholic church;
    the communion of saints;
    the forgiveness of sins;
    the resurrection of the body;
    and the life everlasting.


Saturday, January 03, 2009


Usually I love the morning. I tend to wake early in the day. Of course, I will admit that having a child who likes to get up at 5AM for her morning feeding tends to ease that routine into being more commonly. 
I have almost always been an early riser. There were some days during college when I did not, and those tended to be times when I woke later in the day due to later nights. Big surprise.
The big deal today is that I am back home, and I intended the homonym entendre of today's post. I am tired from a long day of travel yesterday. I am also mindful that the University of Alabama lost yesterday to Utah. Want to know the kicker to that - they got beaten worse than when Florida beat them in the SEC Championship. I dare say that not only was the score worse, but that the beating Utah put on Alabama was worse. 
Now I know that Andre Smith was off the team for this game, but it was just so much worse. I think Caoch Saban summed it up well, "We weren't ready tonight." Doesn't get more blunt or true than that.
Tough day. Maybe I can start my New Year today...or should I wait until Sunday, and the first Sunday of the Year? I could even take it a little further and begin the year with Epiphany? Maybe I should just chalk it up to being too far into the year - the Christian year that starts with Advent, or even the Chinese New Year, or the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hoshanna. What about you? Did you start the New Year January 1?

Friday, January 02, 2009


There was a time when I planted a garden or two every year at the parsonage. I had a blast. I planted all kinds of things and called it an experimental garden.

If I can find the right place to buy seeds in Ojai I am likely to head out sometime this next week and heed the advice of the Ojai press blog and gather some of the following seeds to create some kind of garden at the parsonage here.

Plant cool season vegetables for an early spring harvest:
Brussels sprouts