Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Radical Together

I recently read David Platt's book "Radical Together". He is able to make a convincing argument "that the gospel that saves us from work also saves us to work" (28). It is able to brings that gap between the assurance of being justified by faith alone and the notion that Christians are still called to work for the Kingdom of Heaven while on earth.  "Real faith always creates fruit" (29).

Platt tells of his own experiences of being called to pastor a large church. However, his own lens seems to be the main focus of the book. He doesn't quite bridge the gap between a mega-church and the smaller churches. I did like his emphasis on the priesthood of all believers. That the people of his church were taught to understand that they were in ministry 7 days a week and not just on Sunday. He does give some advice for equipping the saints.

He totally lost me at the end of the book. When he goes from making a difference in the world to a message about heaven and salvation. It kind of falls apart at the end, in my opinion. It goes from talking about making a difference in the world to our role for evangelizing the world.

“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dealing with Disappointment

How is one supposed to deal with disappointment when you arrive at a new church? I had such high hopes that I would jump into this new appointment and things would start turning around. It hasn't been the case. Don't get me wrong: I never thought that I had the magic cure but I thought that I could start growing this church. It hasn't proved to be the case. The old ideas and methods are so ingrained that it proving to be a hard nut to crack.

I see glimmers of hope and that will sustain me for now but I hope to get things rocking here soon.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lost Month

I feel like the last six weeks was lost. I got an infection that landed me in the hospital for a week and it has taken me the last five to start getting my strength back. Both of my churches stepped up to the plate and took care of me. It was weird to say the least. I am not used to not being able to go, go, go constantly. I am not yet at 100% but I feel like it is getting close. I still get tired by around four o'clock but I plan on breaking that barrier tomorrow, when I start a new Bible Study over the book of James.

It is a fun book to teach because James is like the New Testament version of Proverbs. It tells it like it is and speaks to universal truths, so teaching it will be a chance to explore some of the problems that face most churches.....gossip, faith and good works. I will try to be better about updating everyone and telling you how the study is going. I am teaching it to both churches and that will be fun because of the different personalities between the two.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Faith, Vision, and Church Attendance

Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Our hopes and our dreams for the future help lift our humanity to the fullness of what it can be. Tony Campolo says, One of my favorite characters in the Bible is Abraham. He is in his late nineties when he has a vision. In my own imagination I can just see this old man waking up one morning, nudging his wife, and saying with a shaky voice, “Sarah? Sarah?” The old lady, who was at least ninety-two, probably responded in a groggy fashion, “What is it, Abe?” “I just had a vision”, says the old man. “What kind of vision, Abe?” asks Sarah. “I just had a vision of a new world! A new humanity! A new people! Sarah, you and I are going to create a whole new epoch in human history!” “How does this new humanity start?” asks Sarah. “Glad you asked!” smirks Abraham in response. Imagine the next scene: It’s this ninety-four-year-old man, probably limping along with a walker holding him up, alongside his ninety-two-year-old pregnant wife. (If you don’t think God has a sense of humor, this should change your mind.) “Where are you going, Abe?’ people ask. “I don’t know”, the old man answers. “Well then why are leaving?” they yelled back at him. “BECAUSE GOD HAS GIVEN ME A VISION!” shouts Abraham.

God has given us a vision for the future of our church, also. A vision filled with life and hope, to reach this vision though it will take hard work and for people to be willing to share in the vision. My first two Sunday’s at this church our attendance was 60+. Last Sunday, we only had 28 people show up; half of you couldn’t make it to church. God deserves to come first. This is your church and to make it a success it will require you to show up.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Food Pantry and Legal Aid Clinic

Both of my new churches are involved with their communities. One is running a food pantry and the other will be starting a legal aid clinic to help immigrants with legal issues. Both are serving a definite need in our community.

I have only been in these churches for a little over a month and have been observing the food pantry. It seems like the need for people to have food is growing in our community. It is a shame that so many go hungry in the United States -- the breadbasket of the world -- but it is a reality for many Americans.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

First Month

My first month at my new position has been challenging to say the least, but the people at both churches have been absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately, we had three funerals from one church in one week which was depressing for the church and for me too. I know that they are all in a better place now and no longer suffering. Pray for the church to spring back from these deaths and move forward in a positive and life-affirming way.

The new house is wonderful and my garden is giving me more cucumbers than I know what to do with and two eggplants so far.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Going on a Cruise

I have never been on a cruise but I sent off my money a couple of days ago to join my sisters in Christ on a cruise in January. I am pretty stoked about it. I have not been good about taking any time off and haven't went on a vacation in years but this looked too good to pass up. I finally finished my doctorate and it just seemed to come at the perfect time. So I will be cruising the high sea's in a few months.....whoo hooo!!!!

Bad Press versus Good Press

Part of the problem is that the normal Christians...and yes there are some out there....get overshadowed by all the nuts that the media loves to make such a fuss about. For instance, the nut jobs from Westboro, which I would argue are not Christian and have just hijacked the term. Or that idiot from Florida, who thought that burning the Koran was a good idea. Normal Christians go around trying their best to help people or if not that, at least do their best not to cause any harm.

Do we succeed? You might say no, but I think that for the majority of us we are doing just as good as anyone else is and maybe just a little better. I am not trying to convert you but ask you not to group all of us together when you hear (another idiot) Pat Robertson saying America is going to fall because of gay marriage. I am a Christian who believes that two people of any gender have the right to live their lives out together with all the privileges and pitfalls that come from being married.

Now I am not holier than thou either, I like to have a glass of wine and I have been known to say a few choice words (especially if I stub my toe). I, also, help hand out food to the hungry and visit those who are sick and dying in the hospital because of my religion. I am not uneducated or naive. I am not a Republican or a hater. And I'm not trying to convert you. This is my path and I came to it later in life than many but it is working for me. I just ask that you don't make blanket generalizations about Christianity. We are not all bad.....or all good.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I sent my dissertation off to be bound into book form yesterday with the expensive paper and all that. I truly pray that I don't see that thing again until they send it back with my diploma. I do like that I am official a doctor now though. :)

Last Day

Today is my last day at Trinity. It has been a good three years and I will miss almost all of the people there but I am excited about the two churches that I will be pastoring. It will be the first time that either church has had to share a pastor, so it will not be without challenges but I'm hoping that it will all work out. I do have faith that God will be in the mix and I know that makes things so much better.

I do have to move into the parsonage back into the part of town that I left last year. I won't lie, I really didn't want to move back to that part of town but I will survive and thrive. The cool thing is that my new garden is really thriving there, so that will be neat. What many people don't know is that I actually chose to move back into the neighborhood because I know the people that are working so hard to make it a better place to live.

I won't actually move into the parsonage until next Saturday. I have my current house until the end of the month and that will give them five days to put some new carpet in and paint.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ordained i.e. Miracles Do Happen

Well, I have finally finished one leg of my journey into full-time ministry (I am not naive enough to believe that there won't be other challenges ahead). I was ordained a full-elder, Tuesday June 7th. It was a pretty cool worship service, but I was exhausted by the end of the day. The important thing is to say thank you to all of you who started with me during some pretty bleak times. There were times I didn't believe that I would ever be ordained. Giving me an outlet to vent about the stuff going on in my life was a real life-saver. This was especially true because for the first years I was serving out in the middle of the boondocks and it made me feel less alone and more connected. Therefore, I believe that you all share in the credit for me making it to this stage. Plus, I'm sure that I will be depending on that support in the future. Ministry is hard enough but it is good knowing that there are other people who have already gone through similar things and can give good advice. It is, also, nice to have a place to vent about some of the people we work with in ministry. Thanks for everything you have done.

Friday, June 3, 2011


I signed up for a new project from my local university to help people start backyard gardens. They provided a raised bed, soil, and plants plus a class to teach us all about growing stuff. It was delivered to my next parsonage today. Thank goodness that I live pretty close by and the outgoing pastor is a close friend of mine, so I am able to tend the garden until moving day. I am excited about the garden and the prospect of the project itself. It is to help fight obesity in the University District. We will see but I hope to share the veggies with some of my new neighbors.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Praying for Joplin

Missouri just broke the record for people killed in a tornado and it is heartbreaking. Just like the same record broken in Alabama. I get offended though when people blame God for these things happening. It is a natural occurrence when hot, moist air hits dry, cold air. The difference is that the population of many of these places are growing so it IS affecting more and more people.

God isn't punishing people but He is giving us (humans) a chance to show that we love our neighbors as ourselves. So get off your butt and find a way to help, write a check to UMCOR or put together a mission team to help with the clean-up. Send supplies, send prayers, do SOMETHING, we have a chance to be the Good Samaritans of this story.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Something New

This will be a short blog. I am trying to blog from my phone. I don't see this being a daily occurrence but it is nice to have options. I have done some good today though. Worked at the dental Mission of Mercy providing free dental care to those who can't afford it. We helped over one thousand people today and doing it again tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Secrets, Secrets and More Secrets

I find the way that the church handles appointments extremely interesting. It is like the cabinet doesn't want anything to come out until it all happens at one time. This sets up an interesting dynamic between the hierarchy and the clergy (and laity). The cabinet is making all the appointments and the clergy are all calling each other and trying to figure out who is going and who is staying. It becomes the only time of the year (or so it seems) when clergy become like stalkers from TMZ

Monday, April 25, 2011

Very Thought It Would Happen

Well Dear Friends,

I never thought this day would come but I am now a Doctor of Ministry. This has been a long, hard road and I really thought about giving up (several times). Still not sure what I think about the entire process but I never like to entertain the idea of quitting at anything, so I am glad that this part of my journey is finished. I don't know if I would have made any of this without the love and support of people that follow me on this blog. This has been my "safe" outlet, a place to vent my fears and frustrations and for that I thank you all.

Now I'm still in the process of waiting on my new appointment and I am not the only one. The process is moving at a snail's pace this year. It is frustrating several of the 'elder' elder's..... who are also still waiting to hear about their appointments, so I am not alone. I am sure there are several very reasonable explanations for the delay, but it is of no comfort to those of us who are sitting in the dark.

Still excited about my upcoming Ordination though. I really would never recommend working on a doctorate while working towards ordination at the same time to ANYONE. It worked out for me but it has not been the easiest course that I could have travelled on.

Now, as I sit watching the potential for yet another tornado hit my state, I ask that you pray for everyone in the path of these storms. And thank you for following my blog over these years. It has made a difference in the life of this pastor.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Time Off, Not

Well, I have spent my two days off hard at work on my dissertation. I really am getting sick of this piece of work and I'm the one that wrote it. Comma's will never be one of my best friends. It is the nit picky portions of this that are driving me crazy. I really will have everything fresh in my head by next week when I have to defend it. So this is a good thing, I suppose. I plan on having a good time next week-end :)

On to other news: Still waiting on the news about my new appointment. It is lucky that I have other distractions or I would be a basket case. I actually think that I am less stressed than a lot of my other friends. I am worried that Ryss will have to move during the middle of High School and she is worried about that too. I don't know enough about the Conference to really care about where I am geographically.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


My doctoral project has been approved. Now I just have to go to Houston and have my oral defense. Hurray!!!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

This and That

Research Chapter was accepted......hurray!! So now I am waiting for them to read the entire thing (again) and tell me when I have to go to Houston to defend. Hopefully, that will go well. It has been a good distraction during this season of UM Appointments.

The cabinet is taking a long, lonnnggggg time telling all of us where we will be appointed. Now I have plenty of free time to obsess over this new church that I will be going to serve. Ryss was gone for the week-end and if I hadn't had three novels to read (Nelson DeMille, who writes really long novels) and a fun evening with friends, I would have had even more time to get into full obsession mode. Luckily, I had a sermon to preach this morning and my District Superintendent was there so that gave me a totally different distraction.

The week-end has felt like it came in segments. Times of complete silence (home alone reading) followed by incredibly busy social interactions. Ryssa being gone really reinforced this perception. So I did something kind of weird. I made a coffee-date with a single pastor a few towns over. I haven't really went on a date in close to fourteen years. I have been busy and really not interested. It might be a disaster but hopefully not.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Research Chapter

I totally scrapped my research chapter and started over. I finally think that it is ready for submission. I have worked every spare minute of the day for two weeks. My middle name is exhaustion. I guess I could post it online but I'm not sure that you guys really want to read thirty pages of a doctoral research chapter.

Now I get to go through the rest of the dissertation and make it just as "pristine" as this chapter. Frankly, I am so tired of making sure that my punctuation is perfect that I'm ready to give this up. I know that I will be glad when this is over but right now I just want it to be over.

When this is over, I will get to start obsessing over where I will be appointed next. Yippee!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How Good is Good Enough?

“Since Nobody’s Perfect……How Good is Good Enough?” by Andy Stanley

This is a story about how can we get to heaven. Andy Stanley argues against the belief that “Good people go to heaven” (10). This is starting with the presupposition that there is a heaven to go to after death. If you don’t believe in heaven, then this book is not right for you. The idea that only good people go to heaven is troubling for Stanley. How do we determine what good is and how much good does a person have to do? Is there a scale of goodness and where does one have to fall on the scale to be allowed through those pearly gates. Are we rejected if we fall one good deed short? It does point to the flaw in this type of thinking.

Stanley does say that “the logic behind good people go to heaven is seemingly impenetrable on two accounts. First, it is fair. Second, it coincides with the notion that there is a good God.” (19) He deals with a good God notion first in the book and with the fairness issue at the end of the book.

I did appreciate the analogy that he uses in his argument that only good people go to heaven by using the bible story of the thief on the cross next to Jesus. That argues against the only good people go to heaven worldview and against the fairness all in one fell swoop. The thief wasn’t good and it wasn’t fair that he lived a life of crime and yet Jesus promises him heaven at the end of the day.

Stanley goes on to make the case for Christianity versus just following the Ten Commandments or other systems of rules and regulations for goodness. He says that if we are going to follow this particular set of rules, we can just pick and choose which Old Testament rules one follows. He says, “Christianity is the fairest possible system in a world that is irreversibly unfair.” (77) And let’s face it, in the end, we really don’t want to be judged on fairness, what we really want is mercy.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Well, a miracle has occurred or for those of you who don't believe in miracles hell has finally frozen over......just teasing for all my theologically correct friends.

I passed my ordination interviews. This has been one of the longest goals that I have ever strived for; longer then my time in the military, longer than undergrad, longer than grad school and even longer than my doctorate.

I know that God was with me through the entire process even when I felt the most abandoned. There were times that I wanted to give up but I am stubborn and felt that this was what God wanted for my life.

Now it feels as if this is not the end of the journey but the beginning of a new one.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Road Bump on the Journey

After almost four years of working on my doctorate, the doctoral committee said that I have to totally rewrite the research chapter. This would not have been unexpected a year ago when I first submitted that chapter, but obviously someone let it fall through the cracks and they didn't look at until now. Keep in mind that I submitted the entire manuscript last November for review. So now they are saying they see no way for me to graduate in May but perhaps I will have all the rework finished in time for the August graduation. It is the school's policy that this chapter is the first one that a student has to turn in, so they have had it for well over a year and now they decide that organizing the chapter using the Wesleyan Quadrilateral didn't work for them. (guttural scream inserted here)

This is kind of funny because I just posted my review of "Shattered Dreams" and I'm aware that this is not really a shattered dream but it was a disappointment. I thought that I had almost finished this chapter of my life and was looking forward to having it behind me. My advice for people who are thinking about getting a D.Min. degree, think long and hard on it because I am not sure that it was worth all of the pain and aggravation that it has caused me.

Shattered Dreams from the Perspective of Naomi

Dr. Larry Crabb is a well-known psychologist, conference and seminary speaker, Bible teacher, popular author and founder/director of New Way Ministries. In his book “Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Path to Joy”, he writes about our shattered dreams as being “ordained opportunities for the Spirit first to awaken and then satisfy our highest dream” (5).

Crabb uses the story of Naomi from the Book of Ruth in the Bible as the guide for his book. He begins by telling the devastating loss that Naomi faced in a foreign land with the loss of her husband and both of her sons. The story of Naomi is woven throughout the entire book in an interesting and touching way. This woman lost everything that she thought was important and yet God was able to use her story and her life for a deeper purpose. Crabb says that “a profound encounter with pain brings us to make a choice. Either we change or we sink into bitterness, despair, or hedonism” (84). By using the illustration of Naomi, he teaches us the way to become closer to God through the grief of a shattered dream.

“Life is not an opportunity for things to go well so we can feel good. Life is an opportunity for us to be forgiven for requiring God to make us feel good and for turning from Him when he doesn’t.” (140) Crabb is trying to turn us from cheap grace and get in tune with the true grace that comes from a deeper relationship with God.

This is not a book that you will probably pick up and read in one sitting. It requires time for some of the concepts to sink in. It would make an excellent book for a small group to study together, especially since it comes with an eight week workbook.

I received this book for free from Waterbrok Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Lesson in Patience

The wonderful snow storm of last week (can you hear the sarcasm in my voice?) caused my Ordination Interview to be postponed until this coming Thursday. I was so psyched up for Wednesday, but I really haven't been as impatient as I expected. I know that this snowstorm was not sent to test me but it has been a lesson in patience for me. Patience is not one of my strong suits as you might have inferred from my sarcastic tone, but it is probably necessary for my growth as a human being. :p

I'm still waiting for my dissertation to be returned from the doctoral committee. That should be enough patience practice for one person to endure in a month, right?

I did finish a book that I am reviewing, "Shattered Dreams" by Larry Crabb. I will post it here later this week after I actually write the review.

So this week hasn't been totally wasted. I spent a lot of time with my daughter as we were locked in the house. This coming week with 68 degree temperatures will probably be even better for our relationship. Being locked in a house with a hormonal teenage girl is not the most relaxing thing in the world. Luckily, she spend most of the time asleep.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I had to take a class away from a couple that was so fundamentalist that they were driving the young parents, whom they were teaching, away from the class in droves. If fact, the class was pretty much defunct because no one was coming and the woman said, "They just aren't committed." Hmmm, I wonder why? The problem is that no one ever complains or bothers to let the staff or clergy know until it is too late.

Therefore, I have taken the class over effective immediately and will teach it until it is up and running again and we have some competent leaders for the class. The former class leaders have decided to visit the fundamentalist church down the road (this was before I took the class over). I guess it was there last act to try and find like-minded people to sway to their way of thinking.

My Senior Pastor is very upset that they have left ($$), while I think "good riddance". They were like a poisonous dart and it was spreading. I am glad that they are going somewhere else and I hope that they are happy in their new church.

I wonder if we are so conditioned to hold onto people so our numbers aren't affected that we don't see the benefits of letting people leave the church.

Monday, January 31, 2011


Today's staff meeting was "FUN". A big brouhaha over Sunday's Children's message. The layperson that did children's message must not have read the scripture and I'm not sure he read the Bible either. He did an entire message over an Angel named Fred telling God what was on the agenda for the day for creating stuff. And after God would create a blade of grass, or a bug, or a tree, and even a person--they would reach into the Well of Souls and put a soul in the blade of grass, or bug, or tree, or person. It was kind of roulette wheel of souls. I couldn't decide if it was a weird mixture of Hinduism or pantheism/paganism. I can honestly say that I'm very glad not to be the Senior Pastor this week. What is a little sad is that the entire service revolved around the Beatitudes, which would have made a beautiful children's message.

On another note, Ryss was accepted into a Marine Biology Summer Course for Duke University in Florida. The bad news is that the financial aid wasn't enough (the scholarship was for 2/3rds), so we will probably have to decline. I really feel bad and a little like a failure. I know that money isn't who I am but it still hurts when you can't provide such a wonderful educational opportunity for your child.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Max Lucado

I am reading the new Max Lucado book "Out Live Your Life" and I'm considering doing a bible study over it, also. I know that he isn't a Methodist but I really like his books especially for teaching. It is about the power of a single person to make a difference in the world. Love the concept and the book is filled with good examples.

On another topic, we had the informational meeting last night for the "Strong Women" program. I'm trying to get my elderly ladies to start working on building muscle mass. The benefits to strength training for women (and men) is enormous and I think it will be a good program for the church. With that said, the women who came last night made me want to pull my hair out. The county agent trying to explain the program had to say the same thing over and over and over, simply because ladies would be talking in little groups and miss the explanation. Not very pastoral of me but I wanted to yell "Sit down and shut up" common sense kicked in and I just kept smiling on the outside and screaming on the inside. The meeting should have taken 30 minutes but ended up lasting 1 1/2 hours. I made it home without saying or doing anything. And people don't believe in miracles :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Twilight Zone

I am in that weird place between staying and going. Trinity has eliminated my position as of next Annual Conference, so I will be leaving here but I don't know where I will be appointed next. I am getting used to the idea of leaving but it does make staff meetings interesting. We will be planning the calendar and I will be helping and it will hit me.....I won't be here then.

I have already started delegating and setting plans into motion so that my pastoral care responsibilities will not flounder after my departure. I know that is important but as I turn more of these jobs over to laity there is less and less for me to do. I don't want to set up new programs without knowing what the possible goals/ambitions of the next senior pastor might entail.

I should be relishing the fact that I have less to do but it is coming at a point when my doctoral studies are ending and I have finished all my paperwork for ordination. I go before the BOM for my interviews on February 9th. It makes me feel lazy not to have a crushing burden of duties clamoring for my attention.