Thursday, December 31, 2009

Re-Read of Genesis

I was doing a re-read of Genesis this morning, well, the first 12 chapters at least. I am trying to get some prep done for a coming sermon series on Genesis in January through March.

I found a couple of things that spurred me to further thought, and figured this might be a chance to reach out to the more erudite crowd who surfs through this blog.

First, I realized that God gave all of the fruits and vegetables to Adam and Eve to eat in Genesis 1, only to then change the plan in Genesis 2.
Chapter 1:29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

Chapter 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
Then I found this little bit in the story of Noah:
Genesis5:25 When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. 26 And after he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters. 27 Altogether, Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died.

28 When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. 29 He named him Noah c]" style=" line-height: 0.5em; ">[c] and said, "He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed." 30After Noah was born, Lamech lived 595 years and had other sons and daughters. 31 Altogether, Lamech lived 777 years, and then he died.

32 After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Genesis 7:6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.

As I read that Noah got on the boat the same year that Methuselah died. Did Methuselah die in the flood?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Some Christmas Conversation

Non Musical Music

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Free Christmas Music

Just thought you might want to know.

Run on over to Amazon to see what is up for download.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This is Bama Football

Monday, December 21, 2009

Santa's Prayer


The sleigh was all packed, the reindeer were fed,
But Santa still knelt by the side of the bed.

"Dear Father," he prayed "Be with me tonight.
There's much work to do and my schedule is tight.

I must jump in my sleigh and streak through the sky,
Knowing full well that a reindeer can't fly.

I will visit each household before the first light,
I'll cover the world and all in one night.

With sleighbells a-ringing, I'll land on each roof,
Amid the soft clatter of each little hoof.

To get in the house is the difficult part,
So I'll slide down the chimney of each child's heart.

My sack will hold toys to grant all their wishes.
The supply will be endless like the loaves and the fishes.

I will fill all the stockings and not leave a track.
I'll eat every cookie that is left for my snack.

I can do all these things Lord, only through You,
I just need your blessing, then it's easy to do.

All this is to honor the birth of the One,
That was sent to redeem us, Your most Holy Son.

So to all of my friends, least Your glory I rob,
Please Lord, remind them who gave me this job."

[forwarded by Lisa Farris] via Mikey's Funnies

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Foods

So, tonight the youth gather for their Christmas party.

We are going to do a white elephant gift exchange (stealing version) and I am thinking I am going to incorporate one of my favorite Christmas pasttimes into the game.

This time when your number is drawn, that will correlate to a Christmas food to eat as part of collecting your gift.

Some of the foods youth will have the chance to try tonight:
Kalamata Olives
Cheese Ball
Egg Nog
Candy Cane
Persimmon Pudding
Orange Zest
Pickled Eggs
Candied Fruit
Whole Clove
Cordial cherries
Water crackers
Devilled ham
Vienna sausages
Cream corn
Coffee beans

Saturday, December 19, 2009

God’s Renewed Creation: a Call to Hope and Action

The Bishop's have prepared a letter about the growing concern for our resources.

We as leaders in the church have a responsibility to share these with our constituents, and the larger community.

I begin here by adding the link to the letter.

I hope you will read and consider their hopes for the church and its actions in caring for our larger community.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

On Death (Kinda)

Perusing the blogroll this morning I saw mention of some deaths of note to me. I thought I might share.

Oral Roberts passed away too.

UCLA basketball is dying on the vine.

What happens when Gavin challenges us not to die to faith


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Facebook Rant

I have to say that I fully understand trying to keep up with the changing shape of the internet, and thus the changing format for Facebook. They are trying to stay current. I love that. It helps me to remember to constantly be shifting and not get too stuck in my own ways.

But, I have to say that even with a small number of friends on Facebook I was particular about who I wanted to keep up with in conversation. So, naturally, as I accumulated more friends, and made more connections I was thrilled to have some nice reminders, like the Birthday notices.

I did well for a season at dropping a note to friends, and acquaintances alike. And I go through spurts of doing that better than other times.

Then Facebook started adding other reminders: to write on _____ wall; or tag them on a picture; or some other piece of keeping up. I appreciate the reminder of who I friended over time, but I am not sure that I want to have a reminder of that type before me. Maybe moving my friends box into my Status Updates page, or even before the suggestions segment would ease that pain for me.

I guess, at this season of lapsed Christmas cards, it only seems more painful, as a reminder of how I have not been able to keep up with people over time. I guess it just serves notice to Dunbar's number once again.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bi-Polar Disorder

During my time in college I will say that there were some little truths about me.

1) I was a high-school nerd gone bad. I did not fight for grades, and seek to keep that 4.0+ I had in HS. I wanted to re-invent myself. I did. I spent more time getting to know people. I would spend the afternoons when most folks were doing their studying running around halls stopping in at open doors to say hi and meet folks.

2) I loved the idea of dating, and wanted to find my perfect match. I had dated all of one (1) girl in HS. That lasted less than a month. I think I had been on a total of five dates, including Jr and Sr year prom, and Homecoming. I went on dates, but very rarely actually spent time dating any one person.

3) When I did date one person for a period of time, invariably she was Bi-polar. Something about the highs and the lows, and my ability to keep an even keel made the attraction. It never worked for me, but I kept falling into that pattern.

So following college, I began to see this pattern emerge. Particularly as I spoke with those who were familiar with the girls I had dated, and found them to be getting diagnosed as persons with Bi-polar disorder. I began to freak out a bit. I did my level best to stay far far away. This was not what I wanted to be doing, going through the peaks and valleys with these women for the long haul.

As I began more earnestly in ministry, I began to find that I wound up counseling and helping many folks who had endured Bi-Polar disorder as their own fight, or who had been confronted with some very difficult times as a family member of someone with Bi-Polar disorder.

During my time as the Associate at Santa Barbara FUMC I had a member of the church who served in Santa Barbara and another town in CA, where he reported had the highest incidence of Bi-Polar disorder of any place in the country, per capita. Through conversations with him, and my mentor, I began to see some of the light at the end of the tunnel, for how it could be treated and managed.

I had the privilege of working with a man at Del Rosa UMC who has late onset Bi-Polar disorder. I even welcomed him into my home when the rest of his safeguards had run out and his family was putting him on the street. We were able to get him competent care and medication, and I was amazed at how it changed the perspective of the congregation as he spoke openly about his trials, and how God had been faithful.

So, it was with interest that I read the blog this morning from Anne Jackson at
I am always amazed at the work she does. She is painfully transparent, to the end of bringing glory to God, very much in the sense Paul writes, "I boast in my weakness, for then He [God, Jesus Christ] is made strong"

Thanks for sharing Anne, and for bringing redemption to Bi-Polar Disorder, and to my soul once again.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dunbar's Number

Dunbar's Number is 150.

This number is significant in ministry to the number of persons a pastor can effectively pastor at any given time. So, if you church has more than 150 members, one might say you need another pastor. I heard this told in seminary as an offhand figure for when it was time to hire another pastor, without corroboration, but seemed quite reasonable. Now, I know better.

The problem is not Dunbar's Number. That seems to be a pretty good fixed constant. The problem lies in how much it costs to maintain a full-time pastor.

Lyle Schaller wrote in 2003 that it takes a weekly attendance of about 125 people to maintain a full-time pastor and pay for the other upkeep of a church. That number has only gone up since 2003.

Life is getting harder for the local church to support a local full-time pastor. To that end, the local church, and the local pastor (full-time of any denomination/title) will need to learn to live in a different economic and social climate.

I am not sure of all the changes. But, I can tell you this: if the 125 people that it takes to support a full-time pastor each takes the responsibility of Dunbar's Number for themselves, and begins to fill in the remainder of 150 people, then the circle draws even wider, and more ministry can be done. To that end, I promise to be training leaders to grow and live into their role as Discipling Mentors.

BTW-for a quick read of a sermon by Mark D. Ridley in Vestal New York, where I found Schaller's information, and his sense of Dunbar's Number, even without naming it, CLICK HERE

Sunday, December 13, 2009


For years I have had the constitution of a horse/ox/name your well-conditioned animal without malady. I have taken all of two days off for sickness in the past 15 years. I will cop to taking about 10 "mental health" days during that same time.

I suppose it would only be fair to mention that I have probably been sick-at-work for about 10 days as well. But, for me, it was working sick. Not really enough to knock me down.

Today, however, I had to push myself through the worship services, grateful that the Christmas play with the youth and children was the keynote for St. Andrew UMC. It was not quite as daunting.

I did have to bow out of leading youth group tonight. I had hoped to avoid the nasal suffering of my wife and child. This did not happen, and now I sit wearied, and trying to get the heavy duty sniffles under control.

So, now, I bid you goodnight, and God rest.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Silent Monks - Christmas Favorite

Friday, December 11, 2009


It must be the season.
I know Spam is a Christmas favorite for many.
Apparently, it is also season for the internet spam too. I have had to dump at least two spam comments every day in this blog, and countless in my inbox.
So, while I enjoy fried spam every great once in a while, I really abhor it in my emails.
May you enjoy your Christmas with the right kind of Spam yourself. Some, Much, or None. And none in your emails.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Church Starts

The other day I got a notice that another of the church starts here in the California-Pacific Annual Conference was being closed down. The funding was being pulled and the community of faith was going to quit.

My first thought was of pain and anguish for the community and for the pastor who had spent so much time (5 years) getting the community together, established, growing it, and bringing it together. And then, I realized that he would continue to have a job as an Elder in Full-Connection, so he would be provided for in some aspect.

My second thought turned me to anger at the Annual Conference that decided to pull the funding. And I remembered that we are in a financial cut-back here in the conference, and we are trying to determine where to pull funding sources to fund our ministries. We have already not filled positions at the Conference office that are open, and we will be running with one less camp director in the new year. It should come as no surprise that we are not funding another church start up, and should be considering cutting funding to churches already on equitable compensation.

My third thought turned a proverbial corner. I wondered why the community of faith felt it needed to disband without a full-time pastor at the head. I remember hearing of several churches (albeit few in the UMC) that have begun in recent times with a faithful cadre of families who wanted to be United Methodist meeting, growing and establishing themselves, before they asked for a pastor and a charter to be created.

I wondered why several of the other UMCs in the area could not get together and fund from endowments, or special offerings the pastor for one or two more years, consider what has already been given in time and energy, and the impact the United Methodist Church has already made in this burgeoning community.

I was in a quandry why we as a Conference are so asset heavy, and personnel poor. We have church properties that are sitting abandoned at this time, that should be sold, or restarted. I marvel at the churches that have gone ahead and dispensed with the physical locations, sold them and developed a new model of ministry (which happens to be an ancient one) by returning the congregations to small group studies.

I have to admit I am still in anguish. I worry that the world has passed us by so far that as a denomination we cannot recover to the speed of ministry, and effective transmission of the Gospel. I have no doubt that communities of faith in the local church may survive, but that the denomination is too far gone.

And then I hear stories like those of the North Alabama Conference and their tactical shift in ministry that has decentralized the Conference Connectional team. I see the connection to dispersing a local church to pockets of small groups. Decentralizing is going to be the key. And, for those that want to see that more clearly, check out a little book called "The Starfish and the Spider"

If we do that we will be spending less time worrying about the one new church start that doesn't make it, and more about the people in our pews and on our membership roles being church starts of their own. What if church isn't a place, or even a community, but a bunch of individuals who act like church, whereever they are and whenever they are.

Re-think church starts.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

All About Free

Another great highlight of my week is getting to my email Tuesday mornings.

Amazon does a little MP3 freebie each week, and I get it when I log in each Tuesday by email.

Usually it is about 20-30 songs, with a complete album. Today I opened it to find that they are celebrating 25 days of Christmas, with the 25 days of December until Christmas day. One Christmas song per day. Fortunately for me, they decided to include the first 8 in their offerings today so I can catch up.

Monday, December 07, 2009


While everyone else is off remembering Pearl Harbor Day, and the incident that brought us into World War II, and "A day that will live in infamy", I am remembering another Anniversary.

My wonderful wife said yes to my marriage proposal 6 years ago today. I think I did a pretty good job of cleansing the taint from such a terrible day in history, with a ring, a question, and a enthusiastic response.

6 years later, I still celebrate this day with my wife. Good things in my book

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Way

Today's sermon was based on the passage from Luke 3:1-6, which quotes Isaiah 40:3-5

John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. 3He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
"A voice of one calling in the desert,
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6And all mankind will see God's salvation.' "

The depth we so often talk about this passage leads us to "prepare the way" yet again. And yet, we stand and declare Jesus Christ as The Way. The Way has already been made. That means that valleys have been filled in. The paths have been made straight. The mountains and hills have been made low. The Way is set.

What I realized in preparing for the sermon this morning was that while the Way has already been established, we have done a good job, in the church of obscuring that Way. We have allowed it to get overgrown, we have failed to maintain it. We have set new roads, that lead far away from the Way. And in some very nasty circumstances we have managed to barricade the Way. We have prevented people from becoming followers of the Way.

This week, I was heartsick for them. I ask forgiveness for where I have blocked the path of someone to the Way of Jesus Christ, or the blessing that comes in salvation. I pray that God will open more doors to me to show others the Way. Let me be a lamppost to light the way, or one of the support people on a marathon route, providing food, water, a quick refresher, and most importantly a word of encouragement along the Way.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Someone Else Said It

I had a conversation with my wife earlier today.

I got a notification about activity on Facebook. I was considering even posting about it on this very blog.

Then went and said the exact same thing I did, only better. And now I get it a little more than before. And I am glad to know I am not the only one.


Friday, December 04, 2009

The Little Things

I read and reposted a link to words from Mike Slaughter yesterday.

His Twitter account offered this little bit:

@RevMSlaughter: How many grandparents would give their lives 2 save grandchildren but won't give up their style of worship to reach them?

This Tweet hit me hard in several places. My first reaction was simply to say, "Yes! Way to stick it to them." And then it occurred to me that I don't even preach or teach that way right now.

I have come to realize that so many of us worship so differently from one another, and that we need different things to help us focus our attention on God. Some of it goes to the models of Multiple intelligences. Some of it goes to the fact that we in the church did such a good job of sorting for Sunday School through the years, that we made it an imperative that everyone have their own little group, and that the groups shall not blend. We sent kids off to kids worship, and youth off to youth worship, and then when they became young adults we wondered why they didn't stick around.

We had told them they were not a part of us, and we had not taught them why we worship why we do. In fact, I would offer that we don't even know why we worship the way we do. It is comfortable for us to worship in the ways that we do. Some of us do so because we came from a generation where we followed orders, and learned to find meaning in following orders. Some have learned to live with the worship style because the people we worship with are so very dear to us. Others worship in their own style in the midst of some other style.

When we do come to an understanding of why we worship in the way that we do, we still do not do a good job of explaining it so that others can hear and understand, and even participate. So how do we make the method of worship as clear as the reason we worship - to praise God, and give Glory to the King.

I think that when we do this, we will find ways to make worship relevant to all, and more importantly in my book find ways for all to come to worship, be together, and be the Triumphant Church, before we pass into the Church Triumphant (Church Triumphant, meaning together with those who have died, which would in turn mean that we have died [just practicing]).

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Book Quiz II

My answer to the Book Quiz II seems to be predicated upon the idea that I created a monster. I contend that my monster was a group of healthy young men and women, who were capable of leadership and gained confidence to go forth in the world.

You're Frankenstein!

by Mary Shelley

Inventive, clever, and perhaps too creative for your own good, you
are widely admired. While most around you believe that science can only offer
unmitigated improvement of their lives, you show them another side to technological
advancement that is dangerous and downright scary. While this may sound like you're
regressive and even retrograde, it really demonstrates that you're voicing important
concerns with a world rapidly spinning out of control. There are those who believe
you're melodramatic, but most people appreciate you for this entertaining streak.
You really love Halloween.

Take the Book Quiz II
at the Blue Pyramid.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Christmas Letter

Letter from Jesus about Christmas --

Dear Children,

It has come to my attention that many you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. . . although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees.. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. Not just during Christmas time, but all through the year. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the president complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sends out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family? Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them my story. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support healthcare reform and the public option -- it is a moral imperative for those who take My love and Good News seriously. When has it ever been my wish that any be ill and hurt and not be able to afford care? When has it ever been my wish that money take precedence over people's lives?

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actionsand words that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I can take care of Myself. Love God and do what I have told you to do. God'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember :



Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Ministry Capsule

I love twitter. I can follow more thoughts per minute than reading through blogs or otherwise, and sift through the detritus to find the relevant material for me.

This time, I came upon a tweet of a retweet with a good old fashioned web link. In it was a host of reasons why introverted leaders can be successful in the fast paced market driven society we live and work.

And then I remembered that the figures are out there that most clergy are introverts. I really hope that while introverts can be good leaders, that leaders by station can also be good introverts (i.e. doing the things the article mentions as more prone to happen in introverted lives).

Enjoy the read. And for the record, check out Jason Powell and Tony Morgan on twitter.