Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I am participating in a class called "Peniel" where we read and discuss some of the great theologians of the ages. It started out with St. Augustine and we are currently reading St. Chrysostom. It is amazing how the ability to read the syntax of the ancient texts becomes dimmer the farther away from seminary I've grown. Peniel refers to the place where Jacob struggled with the angel and I truly feel myself struggling with some of these texts. Surprisingly, I find it exhilarating also. I have become tired of Bible Study books that show a video and want us to fill in the blanks, that are "miraculously" put on the screen for the participant. My thanks to the dreamers who put this challenging study together and are leading it. Now, where are the answers?? (just kidding folks)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Apppointment

I am moving to a new position in the Arkansas Conference starting in July. I will be the Associate Director at the Center for Clergy & Laity Excellence in Leadership. I am excited and nervous all bundled up together. It will be the first time in ten years that I have not been directly involved in pastoral ministry as a clergyperson and 16 years overall.

I am praying that I will make a difference in my new position just as I have always prayed to make a positive difference to the various churches that I have served. I will be a definite challenge but one that I am looking forward to meeting head on.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Funerals are never quite the same from family to family. They can be heart-wrenching or almost a relief to the family, especially if the person has been suffering for a very long time. They can, also, be quite weird and egocentric. If anyone ever decides to write a book, they need to give me a call.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Well, the election is finally over. It seemed like the politics and pundits were starting to consume my life. It feels like a broke a bad habit today when I finally turned the television off and started living again.

I know that politics really can have life and death consequences but I have decided that it is time to kick the habit, at least for a little while. Time to concentrate on what is really important, God, Family, Church.

With that said, my daughter wants to go camping this week. I HATE CAMPING unless you are in a fully heated/air conditioned RV or camper. I think I can find something else to distract her with but pray for me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Red Stole

As I prepare for Annual Conference, I asked the question about which red stole I should wear. This was a serious question because I don't always know what the customs are for certain social occasions. Should I wear the red stole that was given out at my ordination or could I wear the fancy red stole that was a gift from my last congregation? This is the first time that I shall be a part of the Procession of Elders during the Ordination Service and I didn't want to commit a social gaffe (which I am apt to do). The consensus was any red stole would do just fine. It made me think that know matter how deep I get into the church organization there are some things that are just not taught at seminary. A day for random thoughts.

Monday, May 7, 2012

General Conference

General Conference 2012 was held in Tampa this month. I would love to brag on how much progress we made as a denomination to make disciples for Jesus Christ. It didn't work out like that. I watched in horror as guaranteed appointments went away without even the slightest bit of discussion. Regardless, of how one might feel about GA itself. They threw away something that has been a part of the church since 1914 (even if only enforced since the 1950s). After all that people give up to become Methodist clergy; the picking up and moving of our families every few years, the extreme debt from seminary, etc. You would think that we would have rated at the very least some discussion on the floor of general conference. Now it is up to every individual Annual Conference to put in some safe guards against possible abuses. I trust my Bishop, let me say that up front, but he will be leaving this year and I don't know who my next Bishop will be and that can be a little scary.

The other big item was the restructuring of the church itself. This went down in a flaming wreck. The first plan didn't go over too well and neither did Plan B. The compromise plan, Plan UMC failed to pass the litmus test of the Judicial Council. Key in rending of garments and gnashing of teeth. After two weeks in Tampa, we ended up with the same structure that we started with from the start.

The only bright spots that I can see is that we still have UM Communications, and the two groups that will protect women and minorites. And another interesting tidbit: Twitter made it to the big leagues during this General Conference. Twitter directly impacted debate on the floor.

I am Methodist through and through. I know that God will work through this and in spite of, this mess. Perhaps, that was the point God was making. Quit trying to legislate growth and start making disciples--one disciple at a time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Let Down

I wanted to blog about something that happened at my church but common-sense prevailed and I decided to keep my mouth shut. It is funny when people let you down as a pastor. We don't feel the freedom to tell them about it. Should we? Should we tell the congregation when we are disappointed in them?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Where Has that Loving Feeling Gone?

I was thinking about that great scene in "Top Gun" when Tom Cruise starts singing this song and it kind of struck me as funny because that is how I feel now that Easter has passed. Basically though, I think it has more to do with absolute exhaustion. I haven't had a day off in two weeks without anything on the calendar. I am so looking forward to Saturday. The ironic thing is that the more tired I get the less I can sleep; harder to go to sleep and harder to stay asleep. As the week winds down, I hope hoping/praying that I can relax and not have any emergengies or even phone calls to interrupt my down time.

Emotional Prisons

Book Review: “Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free from the Four Emotions that Control You” by Andy Stanley

Emotional Prisons

Andy Stanley writes that all our emotional problems and spiritual problems stem from four basic emotions: Guilt, Anger, Greed and Jealousy. He traces all of the emotional issues that face humans, as far back as Cain and Abel, to these four basic emotions. The argument is clear and concise and he does have a convincing argument. He believes that if we would take a moment to dig deeper into why we are feeling a certain feeling eventually we will find that it stems from these four emotions which keep our hearts “out of sync with the rhythm it was created to maintain”. Part of this problem is that “we rarely stop to monitor out hearts” instead “we are taught [as children] to behave” but not how to dig deeper into why we act the way we act.

As Christians, we are not supposed to stop changing and growing at the moment of our salvation. As a United Methodist, we call this sanctification. Stanley tells us that we still haven’t given God full access to our hearts at that moment. We still have work to do. We must continue to grow in grace.

Guilt is the first emotion that Stanley highlights. “Guilt is the result of having done something we perceived as wrong.” He used the example of a man leaving his family for another woman and this incurs a sense of guilt for having stolen from his children. This incurs a feeling of debt towards our family. Since, we have usually all done something that we feel guilty for this leaves us will a defensive manner unless we are able to balance this debt.

Anger is the second emotion that he discusses. “Anger is the result of not getting something we want.” He says in many ways this anger stems from being hurt in some way. A parent that abuses a child has deprived that child of a happy or safe home thus resulting in anger issues. Stanley has a wonderful exercise for those who suffer from anger issues. “Here’s the question every angry man of woman needs to consider: How long are you going to allow people you don’t even like—people who are no longer in your life, maybe even people who aren’t even alive anymore—to control your life? How long?”

Greed is third on the list. “Bottom line, the greedy people believe they deserve every good thing that comes their way.” However, “greed is a different breed than the other three enemies of the heart we’ll discuss. Greed disguises itself.” You might not believe that you are greedy by disguising it as being careful or frugal or saving for the future. “Greed isn’t a financial issue; it’s a heart issue. Financial gain doesn’t make greedy people less greedy. Financial gain or loss doesn’t change anything, because greed emanates from the heart.”

Jealousy is the fourth enemy of the heart. “Jealousy says, ‘God owes me’.” “Let’s face it: most of us believe on some level that if God had taken as good care of us as he has for some people we know, our lives would be richer.” Stanley goes on to say that on some level this might strike us as “absurd” but he is able to make a sound argument for his statement.

Stanley goes on to give his prescription for confronting these four illnesses. To confront guilt, one must publically confess the sin. The remedy for anger is forgiveness. The solution for greed is generosity. Jealousy means that we need to take it to God and pour out our unmet needs and let the Holy Spirit work in our hearts. He uses the Book of James to make this argument. And that we are to celebrate what we already have instead of being jealous of what we don’t have.

“Confess, forgive, give, celebrate” are the four prescriptions for what ails the human heart.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Anyone who wasn't able to get outside and enjoy this last week-end truly missed out. Thankfully, the rain knocked some of the pollen out of the air (it will be back I'm told), which made breathing a little easier. The warm air caused me to get started on planting my summer garden. I couldn't get everything in that I wanted because my winter garden is still ripening, but I did get in tomato, pepper, cilantro and basil. My basil exploded last year and ended up with tree-like stalks so I put it in a big container this year to make room for some other stuff. I harvested carrots, lettuce and chard. I still have broccoli and cauliflower producing, so it gets to stay in a little longer.

After spending Saturday gardening, I decided to rest and read after church on Sunday. I had Billy Abraham's new book "Celtic Fire" about evangelism on my Kindle and a comfy spot on the back patio to start reading, when my back neighbor started trying to cut some branches that were blocking her satellite. I couldn't just sit there and read when someone my Mom's age was working, so I got up and helped. A couple of hours later my arms were tired from cutting and snipping but we got her a clear path from her satellite to the open sky.

I did manage to read part of "Celtic Fire" later, I think Billy would be proud :) It did remind me of seminary when we read the book by George Hunter called "The Celtic Way of Evangelism" and it talked about the way evangelism was done by the early monks in Ireland. They moved into a community and started working in and with the people. It was a kinder, gentler way of evangelism versus the door knocking, forcible baptism evangelism of the "Roman" way. I loved that book because it showed me that there is a different path to evangelism that doesn't require me going door-to-door with pamphlets, something that my postmodern soul cringed at the thought of doing. The one problem that United Methodist clergy have with this particular way of evangelism is that we are seldom in one place long enough to put down the kind of roots necessary for George Hunter's method. It is still possible to train the laity up in this way of evangelism, however.

All in all, this was a great week-end to get things done around the house and rest up for the Palm Sunday/Easter rush that is hitting this week.