Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Advent Conspiracy: Worship Fully Sermon

Worship Fully

I am going to begin this season of advent with the birth of Jesus.  I know people will say the turkey is not out of the refrigerator, there is still one scoop of Sweet Potatoes in the big casserole dish.  But I am hoping that before the house is fully decorated and the cool Christmas commercials become part of life,  we remember what this is all about.


I want to jog your memory and help us to remember what this is all about.  Remember Charlie Brown he went out to get a Christmas Tree and all he got was the puniest tree on the lot.  In the midst of his frustration, he yelled out, “Does anybody remember what Christmas is all about?”  Then comes Linus and he says, “I know what it is all about.”

Here is what he said,   (Play Charlie Brown Linus Monologue)

Christmas is about worship, not toys, kids, family, trees, or lights.

This week in Mumbai interrupted Thanksgiving a bit.  It is a long ways away, but it was a reminder that this promise that Linus spoke of, that the Angels delivered that there would peace and goodwill given to all people.  Not everybody wants it.  Some will kill to make it not be realized, so we worship as a prophetic statement.  Peace and Goodwill to all.


There is this economy and the concerns that it brings.  It was a conversation around the kitchen table at my parent’s house.  How about yours?  It can make us forget what this is all about.


Then Black Friday at 3:30 AM people lined up for stuff.  This is the beginning of the Christmas season for the cult of consumerism.  I have heard that religion is dangerous, but a guy got killed for opening a door for stuff.  Consumerism is deadly as well.  People shot each other at the temples of consumerism.


With all this stuff going on, I want to quit talking about wall street.  Quit talking about main street.  I want to talk about the alley where there is this stable and in the stable is a feed trough.  There in that feed trough/ a manger is Jesus.


In comes these Shepherds.  They have a vision of the heavens opening up.  The angels are coming down and they go to Bethlehem to see what it is all about.  They meet Jesus, a baby.  They meet God in flesh.  What do they do?  They praise God, they worship, they let loose as Eugene Peterson writes in the Message.


We meet Jesus by worship.  When Jesus came into the world  in a manger in Bethlehem, the shepherds bowed and worshipped.  They came and worshipped Jesus.


This year, I want you to experience worship.  I want us to sing songs of worship.  Those great carols and hymns of Christmas.

Now don’t you get a little exicited when we sing Angles we have heard on High.

GL…..OR…..IA.  We feel like opera singers.  We may not sound it, but we sing it loud and proud.  It sounds good.  It is a song where we let loose.  We will sing it a couple of times and this is your song where I want you to let loose in worship.  Sing it loud.

We begin with angel choirs singing.


If we believe,

O Come, O Come Emmanuel….that God has come to free us

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus…if the world is waiting.

Then we need to worship.

To worship today in the midst of Mumbai, the economy, and the chaos about us is prophetic statement.  We speak of Hope, Peace, Joy, Love and Light and the world is not ready for it.  We speak these words into the darkness and they are true.

We sing of our longings and we open up a table where the world is invited to come to meet Jesus.


These are songs where we want Jesus to come into the world.  They speak of Emmanuel,

God with us.  God with us.

Not God away from us.  God on the mountain.  God in the swamp.  God upon the ocean.   God in the earth.  God in the tree.  God up in heaven. God with us.  Emmanuel.
Do you get how profound that is.

The world will say I got myself.  I will run to the back of the store to get the door buster, because nobody will watch my back.  I will snatch it away from you if you are not strong enough to hold it.   I need to get it all, because that is all I got..  The gospel is God is with you.  God is with us.  If God is with us who can be against us.  We are not alone in a shopping mall with stuff.  We are at home with God in Jesus.


Do you get that this message is Joy to the World.  The savior reigns.

Violence in Mumbai, terror reigns.  No, the songs we sing, the way we worship is a prophetic statement the Savior reigns.


Do you believe it all.?

This is the Sunday of hope.  If we are going to hope, then we are going to hope for a change in the world.  The world is not going to be made better with our going out and consuming together.     


The world as we know it has fallen apart, the systems and superstructures have exploded.

This is a time for Jesus Christ to come into the world.

For God to be experienced again for the first time.

How do we begin to first experience God in worship.

In song, in words and stories of faith, and in the table where all are invited.


We pray and sing.  Alleluia and Amen.

Friday, November 21, 2008

So you want to give up on the church?

Why do I need church?

"I can worship God on my own, on my own time, and in my own way.  I don't need a room full of hypocrites and abusive folk."

I understand where this sentiment comes, because the church is not very ideal.  Every thing that Christopher Hitchens lays against the church in "God is not Great" is true.

However, I believe that freedom is one of our highest gifts as Americans.  We are free to vote.  We are free to speak.  We are free to own property.  We are free to go across this country without too much hinderance.  We are free to worship.

But true freedom to worship is found in a community of believers.  It is when I am free to worship within a community of faith and know that I will not be harmed for expressing my personal views of God then I know true freedom.  If I say, I do not need a community, because I will worship freely outside the church, then their is not any freedom.   The church constrains people to believe narrowly.  The person has to hide their feelings about God.  It is in community where true freedom is found that people can grow through their interaction with one another and with God.

That is why you need the church and we need you.  We need to be free.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Thursday, I got a call from a consultant company asking me if I wanted to be coached.  This is a high profile company that is marketed through its founder who is an author and its storefront businesses.  I said, "Yes." With a bit of curiousity and just wanted to see if being coached through some issues and hangups I have with my own ability to implement things.

I had a 90 minute interview with a gentleman who was basically a salesman.  He told me early on that I needed to be a decision maker and needed to make a choice that day as to whether or not I would commit to this program of coaching. At that point, I was really wary, because I hate that type of sales gimmick.  Also, that means this dude was more interested in saling me something rather than getting me to the goals I wanted.

The cost of the coaching was $5000.00.  I declined.  He pushed the sale and said my file was going to be closed.  I said, "I think you will most likely take my money if I change my mind."  This kind guy was upset. 

I thought to myself, what a terrible sales pitch.  Say the right words and notch up the pressure then when a person is not willing to shell out $5000.00 be adverserial.  That might work in an economy that is booming and when your services are in high demand, but in a market where money is tight, a softer way is the way to go.

I put a card in my planner and it says, $5000.00.  I will move it everyday and it is a reminder that I can change my behaviors if motivated.  $5000.00 is pretty good motivation.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Homosexuality Sermon Prep

The family was sick all week last week.  I was invoking Darwiniansim with survival of the fittest, but the strongest got weeded out yesterday.  So, today I am preparing for my sermon and lying down when my head gets dizzy.

The key verse for me on the issue of Homosexuality is Romans 1:27-29.  I was reading James D.G. Dunn's commentary.   A great commentary of Romans.  Dunn makes a point that Jewsih culture was really against homosexuality in all forms.  I think that is a correct reading.  The Jewish law is fairly conservative when it comes to sexuality and many other things is what I have concluded in my studies. He notes the Greek world, homosexuality was pretty open and normal.

As I think about the NT.  The parts written by Paul who was a Jew mention homosexuality.  The parts written by Greeks, the gospels and other letters do not.  In the NT, only Paul speaks of homosexulaity.  The gospels and other letters do not.

Perhaps in the early church the issue of homosexuality was a debate.  The church was divided a bit.  There was the school of Paul and Jerusalem.  Then there were the Greeks who may have been more open. However, these two groups spoke enough truth about Jesus Christ that both of their writings could be deemed as Holy.

Could the modern church live that way?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Before Tough Topics, we have a big one.

This week just to let folks know. I will be speak about the financial meltdown.  I am not sure what the House will be doing, but the more important matter is what does our faith say about this issue?  Where is God in the midst of this problem?  Do we as a church need to respond?  See you Sunday.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tough Topics Sermon Series


Tough Topics:

A Response of Faith


Oct 12-  Homosexuality: a gay man is a woman’s son

Oct 19-Abortion: Free will vs. Life

Oct 26-Evolution:Fish vs. Darwin on a bumper

Nov 2-Politics:Untangling faith from partisanship

Nov 9-Hollywood: Is the media the source of all evil?



This is an upcoming sermon series that I am leading at DOC-Visalia. I am going to address these topics in the following way.  I am going to give several viewpoints on each subject. Then I will tackle the issue pastorally.  I think the issues of homosexuality, abortion, and politics are personal.  They need to be treated with an attitutude that respsects other's feelings and experiences.  The goal is to open a conversation not close it.  It is a counter cultural experience, since most churches are liberal or conservative.  Few want to engage in dialogue. DOC-Visalia is attempting to live out that notion that all are welcome by God.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Positive day at Franklin Covey seminar

This last spring and summer, I felt that my schedule was getting out of control and that I had lost focus on what I was supposed to be doing.  So in August, I decided that I would attend a Franklin Covey event in Fresno on time management.

I was ponying up some dollars for an event that I had listened to the CD last summer.  However, I had just come to the conclusion that I needed time not driving but really concentrating and reflecting on how I schedule my days and weeks.

Overall, the seminar was really incredible.  The workshop presenter was really engaging and effective.  I gained some insights that somewhere I had lost.  I messed with my schedule and really gained some insights.  I knew them, but had not really found a way to apply them.

For me it took a moment of me admitting that I had a problem.  Then seeking help.  I think in about year I might need to do it again, maybe 18 months.  Then in two years.  That reminder of how to organize life when I let it go.  In the end, a couple of hundred bucks for a seminar that provides more focus during the week makes me more productive for the congregation and is beneficial for my life.  It is worth it.  So, today I have my planner out and am focusing on next week.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Let's redo the VP Candidates

Alright John and Barack, here is a mulligan. Sen. McCain pick up Fiorina, Bloomberg or Romney, we need the economic wisdom today. Send Gov. Palin back to Alaska, it will be alright. Sen Obama take Byah, he is a dufus on foreign policy but he actually seems to have enough insight into the ecomony that is needed. He is a great moderate, efficient regulation. Tell Joe, let's make you Sec. of State.

The campaign has changed and neither side seems to adept at dealing with issues that ail us now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Porn passed over as Web users become social: author | Technology | Reuters

Quoted from http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSSP31943720080916:

Porn passed over as Web users become social: author | Technology | Reuters

Porn passed over as Web users become social:

I think this is a reflection that perhaps the internet is providing a healing space.  Pornography and its use on the internet is caused by a desire to be intimate or lonely.  Why is there porn channels in hotel rooms? because lonely and frustrated business travellers.

If people are using networking sites to connect to real people instead of fake porn stars then that is a healing thing.   That is grace.

Now can Facebook be a time waste like porn becomes for folks.  You betcha.  But, at least the guilt of connecting with real folks instead of folks of fantasy...that is a way lesser evil.

Who knows you might wind up meeting Drew Powell in a video.

Wall Street and Main Street

This week I opened my portfolio it is not a lot, but it is what we are using to send kids to college, finance our retirement, and be savers not consumers.  Seeing in the last five days that some of the low risk items in our portfolio get creamed caused some concern.  Losing 20% of your money causes some concern.  My experience is not greater or lesser than anybody's, but is just a repeated experience as I called my broker and he ran 'bullet points.'  I had to tell him, "I don't care, here is what I want to know..."

Wall street hits main street.  It hits school funds, retirement funds, and just the hopes and dreams funds.  With some folks nearing retirement see that go away...now look at having to work a little longer if it does not come back.

I am pretty laissez-faire in my disposition, free market let it burn.  However, free markets only really work when there is a level of transparency.  I don't think we have that.  Jim Rogers has stated that the American companies' balance sheets cannot be t rusted.  It seems that he was right.  After Enron we learned little.  We lost an accounting firm and an energy company.   This time, we will lose our status as the financial capital of the world.  It will shift to England, China or Japan.  We lose it by being greedy.

I am not sure that Obama or McCain have the wherewithal to make the right decisions in this arena.  I don't know who does.  I don't know if anyone has the chutzpah to do the right thing.  To be dispassionate and lack self interest to fix it.m

I am glad that Social Security is still done by the government, because we would be forced to bailout individuals who supported the hyperactive stock market.  All of the stocks would be even more inflated because more capital would have went to the strong stocks and those stocks would burst.  The holders would be broke but the brokers would have a fistful of dollars from fees.

This is a difficult time and it is a little disconcerting...48 days away from a change in government and I feel certain that neither one is up to the task.  The playing field changed on Monday and neither campaign was ready to do anything except exploit the issue  to win the White House while main street suffers. 

I know a little cynical, but this one is in my gut.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lunes Negro or Black Monday

1.) Michael Slaughter stated a few years ago that the church was going to change in the next millenium. He stated that the church would go big and it would go small.  The medium sized church was going to be a dinosaur, not large enough to provide high quality anonymous group but too much structure to go small.  Slaughter was talking about a Barbell. A large small contingent, small medium contingent and a large group of large churches.  It can't happen...see today.   We are seeing that in the banking industry were Bank of America is going to be the largest bank in the US and the medium regional sized banks will go under.  The local banks will stick around. John Lewis said that is what is happening...he is CEO of Bank of American and today he took over the largest Investment bank on wall Street, Merrill Lynch.

Do you see it?

2.) Greed.  Greed is what brought us here.  Back in 2002 in the economic malaise of post 9-11.  New York City was hopping.  I could not figure out why, because NYC is at the core of the economic downturn.  People were making huge amounts of money and real estate in NYC boomed.  Made no sense, Doug Kass shares his thoughts.  That greed moved from Wall Street to Main Street.   We bought homes, more than we needed.  We bought cars.  We extended ourselves.  You can be a bear and bull, but don't be a pig.  Greed is not good.  Greed kills us spiritually.

Perhaps, as a Christian we need to remember that second one.  I know parishoners who buy cars and extend themselves too much.  I get frustrated, but I rarely say a word about it personally to them.  Maybe, I need to be a better shepherd and keep the sheep from the wolves.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


This morning I was getting out of the car and I was reminded that surrendering is  a daily practice.  I thought about how faith is explained, "Are you saved?"  We put our faith's defining moment as one experience of salvation and commitment to that salvation.

My life works best when I give up daily to the grace of God and put away the idol of my own self sufficiency.  I cannot change the things that I so desperately want and need to change in my life to make me a better human being.

I need to say, "God, I want you to take it away.  I will do my part, but I will not be able to do it alone."

So, in the dark of the morning after a five mile run...I gave it up.

I hope to do so tomorrow, again.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Praying for the vision of the 2009 General Assembly to be realized.

Something that has got me stirred is the 2009 General Assembly's vision.  The GA is usually an attractional, old style gathering.  Let's get a bunch of folks together to talk about stuff that is only important to us.  This year we are moving outdoors in a missional way. I feel that a significant group of folks need to pray for this.  So, if you are moved let me know and we will keep you updated.

HIPAA and Prayer requests

When I went to college, I went to a church that took prayer requests from the congregation. It was so fresh and new 20 years ago that I it was one of the things that kept me there. People cared for one another, we were building a community.

Now it is 20 years later and I feel that freshness is now stale and there needs to be change for two important reasons.

1.) Prayer Requests have devoided into what is ailing you or a family member. As congregations get older the concerns about cataracts and cancer rise. Not that we should not pray for these, but I am not sure that Jesus or his Disciples had these prayers.
2.) Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), has as part of the law privacy issues. Meaning that doctors and medical staff can only pass information along to certain members of the family. As clergy, I am having to overhear conversations. In my first years in ministry, nurses and doctors would share with me. There has been a tide change.

This tide change has changed the culture of medical issues. Meaning that when the congregation shares about somebody ailments they are not reflecting the norms of culture. Now, there are times to conform to culture and not to conform. We conform in use of governance, music, and programs. We also need to conform in this way, because this deals with people's issues of privacy. I remember one person being irate with me that I prayed for his upcoming surgery publicly. His feelings were deeply hurt. This was a rare occurrence, but I see on the horizon where this will be the norm. Will the church and its leadership be naive and ask, "Are we not family?" The answer is "No, we are church."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Seth Godin's article on Infinity

From Seth Godin's Blog

Getting used to infinity
I have a new thing to collect.
I collect pictures of crowds stunned by a baseball bat heading their way. I don't collect photos where anyone is injured, just the ones where people are all weirded out.
This, of course, is a crazy thing to collect, but the fascinating thing is that it's possible at all. All of us grew up in a world of content scarcity, and now we live in a world of content infinity.
That means, for example, that finding a rare song is essentially banal. There are no rare songs (except on LP). It means that finding a photo of what you're looking for isn't the hard part, it's deciding what to look for in the first place.
Of course, it's not just photos or music. It's service providers, freelancers, employees, charitable tools, places to live, vacation spots, dogs to adopt, people to date.
If you find a great baseball bat flying in the stands photo, I'm hoping you'll send me one. In the meantime, don't be afraid of infinity. There's a lot of it going around.

Think about this in the realm of the church.

Used to be that there was nothing to do on Sunday morning but to go to church if you wanted to be social. Then the Blue Law's ended, Malls opened, and people could shop. First it was only after 12 noon. Now they open before 12.

Now there are many churches and people move to the church where they feel comfortable, there is a buzz, they like the pastor or music, good program for families, etc. In fact, Sarah Palin, an evangelical attends several churches. This is going to be the norm in the future where people will not be committed to a church but be part of various churches. That means leadership will be done more by staff who are committed to a paycheck and less by laypeople. It also means that churches to maintain will have to work hard to keep helping the consumer.

Do church leaders need to meet the needs, desires, and expectations of people even if those people are not committed to the vision and mission of the church?
What does this new way of being a Christian in American mean for the church and how do we adapt?

walking down my block this morning

Today is monday and on my street that is trash day.
Number one priority for me is to get the trash to the street.

Today as I was taking the little one to school, a woman was walking down the street a dark skinned Mexican woman. She was carrying a bag and looking in the recycle bins up and down our block. I watched as she went.

As I watched her, I had a couple of emotions. One was that I wanted her out of my neighborhood, just for own safety. My neighbors might call the police and I just wanted for her to be away. It reminded me that poverty is close to my house and can come into my neighborhood. I lost control of my life and now it was being confronted by her life. I did not really want that, because I had no solution.

The other emotion was compassion. So, I called to her, "Senora, Aqui." I brought out of my garage a trash can full of aluminum cans. She was not asking for money, she was scavenging off the crumbs from our tables. So, I was going to give her what she asked for I brought out the cans that Samuel and I had been collecting. I saw that she was born in Mexico by the immunization scar that no longer graces the arms of American kids. We talked and I wanted to be honest, "Para Mexico, Honduras?" She said, "Mexico" I asked, "Durango, Sonora, Guanajato?" She told me where, but I forgot. I prayed for her and told her that God will bless her. She said, "God bless you."

I am not sure what is the proper response is during such instances. What is just? What are the moral hazards? But, I would not this day let her go unnoticed. I needed to tell her that she was not invisible to me. Was it just my need, not her's? I don't know. Moments like these are complicated and the depths of scripture give no clue as how to do it as an individual. It gives way of governing as a large system, but individual's in America you are on your own.

So, we are left with only one response..."Compassion"
I pray that I was compassionate enough today and if not God, "I am sorry, I did the best I could at that moment."

How do you show compassion?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Jocko is my favorite Walrus in the world

Jocko the Walrus, the most disgusting zoo experience the ever.

A couple weeks ago, la familia made a trip to Vallejo to the Six Flags Discovery Park and there is one of Jocko's experiences.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A point to ponder

One of the issues that is real in Visalia is that people are using bikes instead of driving cars. So people are being encouraged to drop the cars for bikes. We are the country with the most cars in the world.
As I watched the Olympics China was dropping the bike for the car. They are the country with the most bikes in the world.

Who is moving towards the future?
It is an amazing time folks.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Time Management hits real life

To make myself better in my time management skills, I picked up a Franklin Covey Planner last year. Difficult task for me, one to commit myself to a planner. I decided that Outlook kept me tied to a screen and I wanted to be able to get away from a screen. Second, to find a planner that had at least an ounce of testerone was pretty hard. They market to women. My time management has been better, not great but I am improving.

Last night, I spent some time organizing my week with Amy. Pick up/Drop off, meetings, dinner. Then I worked on my tasks for the week.

This morning, the alarm did not go off so I missed my workout. I put sleep in its place and that is alright. That pushed back prayer time and then the son's got up. I did the dad duties of making sandwiches, breakfast, and getting everybody ready for the morning.

Somewhere we missed the bus. It had been coming late but we must have missed it by a couple of minutes. So, we stood at the bus stop looking at the Spider garden along the street and finally decided that I would take the eldest to school. Meaning, that this delay caused me to miss a moring Bible Study where I meet with folks each Tuesday.

In this confusion to get out the door, I forgot a check to the YMCA for after school care.
We get the eldest to school. No problem.

Upon arrival at the youngest's school, he has to be held. He is crying to be held and it is a moody three year old thing. It is best handled by the velvet glove of consoling and tough love. "I love you and you are alright, but now I have to go." This was another delay. Then leaving the Christian School, nobody would let me out of my parking space. They just kept moving along. It was not a faux pas, but it was a moment of being mild inconsideration. It would have been a nice grace. I think that is the church's and school's name.....

In the past, I think I would have been frustrated and this would have ruined my whole day. However, I know that my goals in life is to be a good parent, this is my primary mission field and the secondary mission field is the world. In the end, I understand that my life is a bit beyond my control. That gives me a bit of a compassion this morning. Thanks Jesus for journeying with me this moring.

Fearless Joy,

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Forget Miller, give me Dr. Hale

Great and awesome God, as we gather in this place from all across the length and breadth of this nation, we pause to acknowledge you as the one in whom we live and move and have our being. You, oh God, created us in your image and likeness and invited us to partner with you in the stewardship of your world. We are called to be faithful over the earth, its people and resources.
On this day as we gather to renew America's promise, we are keenly aware of the challenges American families are facing. God, people are being hit hard by the economic downturn, the energy crisis and rising food costs, the mortgage mayhem, as well as the absence of affordable housing and healthcare. Parents desire and deserve to be able to give their children quality and affordable education from pre-school through college.
Times are tough; people are struggling; some have lost hope. We know, God, that this is not your perfect will for any of your people. It is your desire that all people have these basic human needs met. It is your desire that all would prosper and be in good health. It is your desire that everyone would be treated with dignity and respect.
As a nation and as a party, we are at a crucial time. We have an opportunity to not only make history, but to bring about change we can all believe in and restore hope to the hearts of women and men. Unite us as a party, oh God. Let us be one in this common purpose, to renew our promise so that we might live out our creed to be one nation under god, with liberty and justice for all.
In your strong and mighty name, we pray. Amen.

I have had the joy of sharing table with Dr. Hale and having heard bring me a good word through her preaching. Now, she is a VP candidate to me. Planted a church (executive experience), worked in a correctional facility (meaning she could be president of the Senate), and I think she could play a mean game of hoops. She has a deep spirituality as well.

Oh well, all the candidates have dance partners.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

LPGA requirements

The LPGA yesterday created a rule where only English would be spoken on the tour by its players to improve communication among sponsors, players, and fans. If one peruses the weekend paper and happens to look at the LPGA boxscore. The names will be Oh, Kim, Cho, Park in the lead. Michelle Wie will not be there. The LPGA is being overrun by Korean players like baseball was overrun by Dominicans in the 90's.

This is a bad move by the LPGA, because it cuts at the psyche of Korean nationalism. I noted previously in January 2006 while in Seoul, I came across the Emperor Ahn (An) museum on Namsan mountain. Ahn believed that learning another language enslaved a person to the language. This is the national story that could be playing in the heads of those Korean athletes and what does it say.

However, there is also this realization that the LPGA needs its players to be able to communicate on the green after a victory coming from the Korean players. If the Korean players are willing to invest energy in learning the language I think the tour will be dominated by the Korean players even more so. Perhaps, the LPGA sees this already at work that the US players are on the decline.

If the Korean players are truly not concerned about learning English then I really can't object. It they see learning English as a means of enlarging the sport then great. My feathers ruffle a bit with language requirements, but perhaps they understand more as an outsider than I do as insider.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Donald Miller's Prayer

Donald Miller gave the closing benediction Monday night at the DNC.

Here is the text and it is pretty good.

I’m honored to deliver the closing prayer at the DNC. Evangelical voices have been scarce within this party, perhaps since the Carter administration. But as strides are being made on key issues of sanctity of life and social justice, as well as peaceful solutions to world conflicts, more and more evangelicals are taking a closer look at options the Democratic Party are beginning to deliver. There is a long way to go, but sending a message to Washington that no single party has the Christian community in their pocket, thus causing each party to carefully consider the issues most important to us, is, in my opinion, a positive evolution. I am glad that, for the most part, the dialogue has been constructive and positive. Will you join me in keeping the conversation thoughtful and not reactionary?
That said, I am honored to speak to, and especially pray with and for, the DNC. Here is the full text of the prayer:
Please join me for the next few moments in our Benediction.
"Father God,
This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future.
We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.
We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy.
Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.
Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them.
Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.
Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.
Hep us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.
Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.
We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help.
Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world.
A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American.
Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world.
Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.
Lastly, father, unify us.
Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.
And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish.
God we know that you are good.
Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.
I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.
Let Him be our example.

Not exactly a benediction, but he is a writer not a liturgical scholar. Good work.

Fearless Joy,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What the hell?

There was weeping and gnashing of teeth as Doc Patton screwed up the handoff.
A TCU boy did it. I looked at that from every angle thinking, he had to let go of it or they would have been out of the zone. Nope. They still had room and they would have easily came in second. Oiy!!!

I think we were better when were we doping? Don't you think?

Bill Tenney-Brittain had this video and I found it pretty good to talk about the church and our lives. I find myself eating the same food. It is Thursday night, pasta. In the church, the order of worship is the same. The music is the same. How do we innovate and invite new expressions of faith. How do we get beyond the glass jar that we have created?

I think it is what Steven Covey talks about 'sharpening the saw.' Always striving to improve what we do. Then scrapping what we do to do something new. It is dangerous to do those things, but i think it is important. It is this grand tension. Sometimes we try to keep things in a state of homeostasis and fail to realize that Jesus calls us to a life of infinite abundance and possiblity. Do we trust that there is more?

Friday, August 15, 2008

To be Francis

On Tuesday, Amy and I had to endure a sales seminar by Wyndham for a time share vacation package. They made our stay in San Diego very cheap, so that was good. But, the price was a two sales presentation.

As we headed into the presentation our goal was to endure the sales presentation. It was bearable, but we left frustrated from enduring. I ponder today three days later what would have happened if we would have sought to see where God was at work in that room. Could we have been Christ to Casey the sales guy.

To be a Christian and to live it out is really difficult. As I was reading a prayer this moring in my devotional it read, "we have to our souls reawakened numerous times during the day." The path of Christ is a journey, a progression, and it is never about perfection. It is a movement towards God and like Hebrews in the desert, God is always a little further up the road. (Allusion to a Vigilantes of Love song.)

May your heart be awakened when it moves to a slumbering mode throughout this day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

"For each of us comes a moment that defining instant in our lives. When we are changed forever. When you stop wondering to believing."

Just got finished with Seaworld today and at the Shamu "Believe" store. They had shot glasses with believe. I chuckled at that and bought one, because of the irony of that marketing scheme. When I got some chills on my legs thinking about the powerfulness of the show...the thought how to encapsulate this moment...oh yeah...a freakin' shotglass.

So, I began imagining. "For each of us comes a moment that defining moment in our lives. When we are changed forever. When you stop wondering and and start believing. Hey bartender, Jack straight up!!!"

Marketing does suck.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sermon on the Mount in Starbucks

Yesterday, I was sitting drinking a coffee when a pastor in town walked in as well. He was having an out of the office meeting with somebody. I was writing many 'thank you' notes. This pastor is one of the folks leading the charge against all things emergent. My anxiety level did not heighten nor did I want to confront him, I was rather ambivalent. Our circles of influence and movement rarely cross.

I finished my 'thank you' notes and felt compelled to bless this man. So, I wrote out a prayer and put it in an envelope with a biz card. The prayer was a general prayer of blessing. I thought about that this morning what was my motivation. It was not to show him anything, but it was to build a relationship. Then the line came across my mind, "Pray for those who persecute you." Here is a pastor who preaches against emergent theology as heresy and my first instinct to pray for him. The words of the sermon on the mount are so entrenched into my life that I do not have to think...they just come out. This is not to brag, but I thought to myself...I would hope that my faith gets to be that way in more phases. That I do not have to think and work out the rationality of it all, but that it just emotes from me.

Then I thought in my missional mindset...why don't I bless the workers in the Starbucks the same way. Is it vanity that lead me to write that note..., so for the next few days I am going to pray how I can pray for the workers in my Starbucks in a bold way like I did with a pastor. Now, the faith gets hard and uncomfortable. I have to get my motives clear. I will pray, because I love these folks. Faith always pushes us to grow, we never fully have it.

Fearless joy,

Monday, August 04, 2008

God's testing

Yesterday, I made a bold proclamation that "our community will accept children even when children get a little rambunctious."
At that moment, the kids ran out of the room hollering, my son was crying, and another child had a meltdown. I stood and preached while this was happening, sort of like being waist deep in snow. You just keep going, because you only have one choice.
My sermon was on God testing the Hebrews in the desert and what that meant. Well, I could not escape the irony of the situation. We make our faith claim and boom we get a test. I chuckled and said, "God you humor sucks."

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What do we offer?

What does our church offer the community.
In our world of church consumerism, who has the best band, best Children's ministry, cleverest preacher, best small groups, best lattes, etc. what is our goal? Lives transformed.

How do we do that, the right amount of foam or baddest music? I don't think that is it. Church baristas will not have the skills of the neighborhood barista and may lack the warmth of my barista John as well. Music will be rock but for what.

I was reminded of the goal by Simon Tugwell, "We had thought of God as the dispenser of all good things we could possibly desire; but in a very real sense, God has nothing to offer but himself."


Our task as a church is to point, promote, lift up Jesus. If we can be the good news, share the good news, be like Christ, and make communion with Jesus our primary goal then we are doing the right thing. Without Jesus, we are just people with crappy coffee and jammin' music that changed lyrics from sex to God without changing hearts.

God let Disciples of Christ-Visalia be a conduit for one thing, Jesus. sola Jesus.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Dark Knight Review

A few thoughts

1.) The Joker is a chaotic villian. Not really seeking to gain anything, but seeking to destroy everything. I like that type of villian, because that is my image of evil. Conservative Christians see a one world approach as found in the Left Behind series, but I see evil much more destructive in the form of chaos than creativity.
2.) Political statement. If Batman is America then Joker is the terrorist forces of evil America fights, it paints a stark picture. There is not much difference between evil and good. There were conversations that read through that lens paint a stark picture. Batman breaks the rules and resorts to torture to save Harvey and in the end he cannot save both. The movie expresses the point of view, even in the moments when torture is used we still have no control. Even with the information, can we really save everybody. Political conseratives should hate Batman. Religious conservatives will hopefully be informed by a more real sense of evil. I think the political interpretation is one of the lenses that the Dark Knight is to be seen. It is uncomfortable, but provoking.
3.) There is no messianic figure. Harvey Dent becomes Two-face. Batman breaks the rules. The institutions are flawed. We have no ability to save ourselves, but we always seek scapegoats.
4.) Violence. Violence is seen as the only solution. Don't we want a world where violence is scorned. There was a day when Barney was given one bullet by Andy.

Fearless Joy,

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thought on Rob Bell

I think Rob Bell is trying to reform the church's thinking in a way that Martin Luther did 500 years ago. Of course Luther did that with 95 theses on the Wittenberg door, that was mass media. I wonder if Rob will stop the NOOMA series at 95. Rob sends out 95 theses about the church and the church bought it, literally. Hmm, do you want to participate in such a reformation?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Does emergent work in Appalachia

Question I have had for awhile?
Does emergent Christianity work in the context of a culture that is impoverished and undereducated, aka Appalachia?

The Fresno Bee ran article yesterday (July 17) stating that the South Central Valley of California was a worse place to live than Appalachia. The radio talk shows which have a conservative bent were ambivalent about it. (podcast) I have struggled with this issue.

In the Valley there are places of wealth, not extreme wealth. However, as I look on careerbuilder for jobs, the jobs are not high paying jobs. There is not much opportunity. There is a concern about brain drain. The interesting part of the study to me is the dichotomy of California. In the report, some of the higher ranked places for education, livability, and life expectancy were in California and likewise some of the lowest were in California.

Visalia is that way as well. There is a dichotomy of rich and poor that live alongside each other. I am not sure how well the interaction is going? Do the wealthy see the poor as people, a nuisance or a project?

As a minister and minister with an emergent bent, I look at where emergent is thriving. Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, Kansas City, Dallas, Capital Area, et al. Those are places ranked higher on the well-being index. The central valley is low on the index? Question, does Appalachia need an emergent church? Does a largely undereducated, underemployed, predominantly Hispanic culture find use for emergent ministry and Christians?

This is a missionary context and I am here not by own calling but God's. I would be in Newport, Oregon outside outside of the Rogue Brewery. I am trying to understand this mission field better. Sometimes, I wish that I had a couple of hundred thousand and I could build a barn church based solely on the attractional model but God does not let me go that route. So, can an emergent church be useful and make a significant impact in Appalachia or the San Joaquin Valley? If it can, what might it look like?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Diversion sort of

Bill Mallonee former front man for Vigilantes of Love found himself in my house on July 8.
A few highlights of the event.
1.) The wide gathering of people. I invited folks from groups, church, and running to come be part of the event. Also, Bill attracted some folks who had followed him for a while. It was a good crowd for our house.
2.) It was hot. Felt bad for Muriah and Bill they travelled all day. After a long day of travel, my son had a lot of questions and insights about gear and instruments. They even being a little road weary, worked with him with great grace, patience, and care.
3.) A few folks were overwhelmed at how good Bill was. Which made me think, "Hey, I don't invest in things that suck." I think that will be my mantra in ministry. "Listen, if I am asking you to go to this event...it won't suck." Despite the Gen-X review of not sucking, Muriah and Bill were great. He handled the crowd very well.
4.) I was reminded as he was playing and I softly sang his lines how much I love the way Bill puts together words. He writes 50 songs a year and not all 50 are great, but on an album I am guaranteed that two or three will pierce my heart. Every once in awhile, he will make me laugh.
5.) I love my wife. Amy allowed for this to happen and was delighted to see it work. In the past, she would have set up road blocks. I think after 16 years perhaps we are growing and trusting a bit.
6.) Richard Rodriquez is awesome, a running buddy, he worked with my youngest in the back room building legos as Bill sang. He helped out tremendously.
7.) If Bill makes it through your town make sure you check him out. He is worth it. This is my fifth time to see him. His music has healed wounds in me, challenged me, and comforted me several times in the last dozen years. I think he can do that for you.
8.) How this ties into Emergent. It was in 1996 at Mt. Hermon that I first heard Bill play with Jake the bassist from VOL. Bill and Mark Driscoll talked about his music engaging culture from a Christian perspective. Bill is part of the journey for me into emergent thinking.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Reflections on Tony Jones' "The New Christians"

I want to take an excerpt out Tony Jones' book.
It is a painful paragraph.
Let's throw it out and let's deal with it.

"Potential mainline preachers have to pick a flavor of Christianity early on in their careers-Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Quaker, Baptist-the list could go and on. Like ice cream, these are the main flavors, but there are also all kinds of exotic variations-Baptist Chip, Baptist swirls, .... The pastor then becomes a one-flavor guy. He goes to that seminary, learns that theology, buts into that pension plan, and goes to that annual trade show. This is not to disparage erstwhile pastors-they really have no choice; they don't get to pick a new flavor on a whim. That's how the system of getting to be a pastor is set up; those are the rules by which the players are bound to play."

He goes on to tell the truth. Nobody cares about denominations anymore and mainline influence has waned under its bureaucratic mass.

Two thoughts.
1.) Bingo! That is absolutely the truth. I pray for Disciples Pension plan regularly.

2.) There was a moment when I wanted to drop out of Disciples. I searched to where I would go. I am not comfortable with the non-denominational denomination. I do not have street cred in those circles. I am not excited about Methodism and working with a Bishop and the third testament, the Discipline. So, where to go. I decided that my own tribe of folks Disciples was where God had called me to minister. The process of reformation needed to take place in this group and I need to work on that reformation.

As I read Stone and Campbell and live that tradition. I get the sense that they would agree with Jones' assessment of mainline Christianity. The problem with mainline Christianity is that we have divided into denominations and those are as Campbell would say 'a sin.' It has divided the church into schools, theologies, and ecclesiologies. I am a product of TCU and Brite Divinity School. I support both financially, because I seek a gentle reformation and I love TCU football.

The problem with seminary is that there is an expectation that we will have a job at the end of the tunnel. We give 3 years of our lives and lots of money to be educated and then there are jobs that do not pay enough for the education given. I think the education is important, but the reality is that many of us will have to work part time. Some of us will be resign positions, be fired, or quit. There is not a guarantee that another church will hire us even though we have skills and gifts for ministry. So, we have to work our own path to serve Jesus Christ.

My solution, as folks beholden to denominations, we need to challenge our leadership to remember that on the ground in the local church few care about general and regional structures. They are seeking a Jesus who will heal, liberate, and sustain them in their daily lives. They are seeking a path that is illuminated in the darkness. We guide folks down that path.

What happens if the Pension fund goes belly up like NBA? What are you going to do?
What happens if Church Extension folds?
Do we keep with this denomination or do we leave?
What keeps you committed to your denomination?
Is it the support of the bureaucracy or is it something greater and grander?

Why did I stay with my tribe? I believe that Disciples allows me to have conversations across lines of doctrine and creed. It allows me to hold to two fundamentals Jesus and the Bible. It gives me the freedom to work my own path of ministry. It is a grand tradition that provides some meaning. I need no Creeds. I need other books than the Bible. I need that freedom to converse with a majority of the world without the baggage of fundamentals that I have to hold onto, creeds I must confess, or rites and traditions that have no meaning. I believe that Disciples can help reform the church again.

If emergent is truly a reformation. Disciples need to join the conversation, because we have deconstructed Christianity once before. We can help do it again.

Fearless Joy,

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Where to begin

When emergent began, I was there. Leadership Network saw Gen-X coming. Willow Creek had issues with attracting younger generations. There was a problem and there were folks working on the issues. What happened was that folks said, "The world is changing and we have to engage the culture or we will be irrelevant." I comprehended that and I swallowed it.

My initial intrigue with Emergent was the smells and bells of worship. Bring in a screen to replace the stained glass windows. Work at it. I built the technology and brought it, but folks did not flock to it. Frustrating. I tried to be cool, too cool, too hip.

I switched churches and instead of bringing my emergent background, I got caught in my own issues of recovery. Recovery became for me the guiding force. 4 years in recovery and they have been the four best years of my life.

Now, I am in a new situation and I feel call back to engage the emergent issues. Not from technology or practice, but theology. Theology (who is God), missiology (what is the mission of the communty of faith) and ecclesiology (how is a community organized) guide it.

I want to address some of those issues from my Disciples of Christ background. How do we as Disciples handle the issues of emerging. I think we can easily say, "Emerging is cool, we are on board if it attracts young folks." However, Gen-X leaders and emergent theology carry sledgehammers. Post Modernism deconstructs.

In the midst of that deconstruction, I find some key Disciples ideals.

1.) Stripping or restoring the church so that faith makes sense daily.
2.) Freedom of interpretation of scripture.
3.) Ecumenical bent. I can learn from Pentecostals as much as my Disciple colleagues.

Over the next couple of weeks, I want to explore these things and invite folks into dialogue.

Fearless Joy,

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

church basement roadshow

A great deal of fun.
Need to go see Doug, Tony, and Mark.

Pictures to come.

Fearless joy,

Monday, June 16, 2008

A cup of redo

I hang out at Starbucks and I will be rather unapolegetic about it. All the haters of corporate coffee...get over it. It is the closest place next to my house.

I get free wifi there...don't know how, but I do. It works.

At my local Starbucks, they know me there. I show up and the Grande Americano is going. Except when the new person works the register.

"Your name please," says the youngling.


There is a moment when the Sharpie just is pressed still against the cup.

"You don't know Guido" says the shift leader, "Everybody knows Guido"

The youngling begins the struggle to right the name on.

Then at the counter, "REDO"

I picked up my cup with "REDO" emblazoned on the side and laughed.

That is God's grace is it not? We all get a chance to "REDO" with Jesus, that is the promise.

I got a cup of Redo and savored it.

On Sunday I went and got Starbucks cups and handed them out with the "REDO" printed on the side.

"May you find Jesus the barista who serves a cup of 'Redo' this week when you need it."

Fearless Joy,
Guido in need of "redo" Climer

Monday, June 02, 2008

Jeff Cordiner writes

In X saves the World.
The media "obssesses about the mating habits of AARP members."

Guido concludes
Let us says sing together a new song..."Muerto Viagra!!!!"

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Disciples' roots

Went to the Alexander Campbell Mansion last week in Bethany, West Virginia. Had been there in 1995, but learned something new about this place. Each night the house worshipped. As we think about emergent and missional culture that urges daily worship not merely weekly worship...here is the founder of the Campbell-Stone movement who believes that daily worship is key to development of spirituality. He also was bivocational in his ministry. He raised sheep on his land and used the money of house to do ministry. I had gone to Bethany expecting to meet the bookish and rigid forefather, but was engaged with other facets of his life that were more pertinent than his volumes of erudite writing. Alexander Campbell still can teach us.

Monday, May 12, 2008

block party

Saturday, Amy and I hosted a block party for the 80 houses in our neighborhood.
We were hosting in the spirit of the church and with church funds.
We were not going to promote the church, but if an opportunity opened up we would talk about church.

Evangelism is a little unsettling for me at times, because it is a whole lot of bait and switch. I remember world's largest banana split as a kid and then we get the Baptist youth minister convincing us to get wet, be baptized.

But that is not it for me. I give a gift, a block party or a drink of water, to a person to let them know that God cares for them and I do too. It provides an opportunity for me to tell them that the best I got is Jesus. I don't give Jesus, but I share how Jesus changed me. I do it through words if necessary.

I can't share with you why you need Jesus or if you will go to hell without him. No, I know that places filled with doubt, self hate, anger, resentment, and fear were large in my life. I know that with Jesus they are receding.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Book Review: The Fall of the Evangelical Nation

Walking through Border's the other day, I saw this book and immediately picked it up. Two things of note to me. Christine Wicker used to work for the Dallas Morning News that during the 90's had a great religion section on Saturdays. She was a key part of its success and depth.
I sat down yesterday and read through the whole book in about three hours. It is a quick read and I am not a fast reader. It is most antecdotal stories and stats that many in the church are very familiar with. She uses numbers that are not shock, she relies upon George Barna.
The thrust of her argument is that the evangelical movement is really as large as it thinks it is. It represents not 1/4 of the country but a mere 7% to 8% of the United States. She also notes that Christianity is not growing in the United States. This complies with other arguments being made like the strength of Christianity being found in the Southern Hemisphere and Asia. Philip Jenkins has promoted this idea in his book, the Next Christendom.
She not only argues that the Evangelical movement has been used and perhaps abused by the Republican Party and the conservative movement, but she also argues whether or not evangelical Christianity's main premise makes any sense at all. She echoes the sentiments of "The New Atheists."
Where she says that the evangelical church is failing is in two areas.
Those who are super committed to following Jesus Christ and his mission are becoming more and more disillusioned with the local church. They are doing faith outside a corrupted church.
George Barna agress and encourages this movement.
From a mainline perspective, I see this. I have seen people come to the church to make a difference and when they can't they leave. The church's bueracracy and rules conflict with God is calling them to do. They move to more conservative churches or leave. For Barna, he says people just leave and start something new.
Second area, people are becoming disillusioned with the evangelical faith. All of the bad stuff about evangelicalism comes home to roost and they leave. That is seen in Catholics leaving the church over clergy sexual abuse. It is scene in mainline churches as well.
So, what does this leave us with? She makes clear some very salient points. Leaders within the evangelical movement bluster about morality, but a majority of Americans do not live a moral life. The Southern Baptist Convention may say boycott Disney, but the Southern Baptist Men will not boycott ESPN.
To be hopeful, because her argument is a strong against evangelicals, but mainline Christians are no better. We are at the end of an age and there is a new age coming. In the midst o fthese transitions, I hope and believe that spirituality comes ot the forefront and this provides avenues for Christians to witness the grace, love and peace of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Missional Churches

Into the Neighborhood
Mark Priddy shares when Missional is not helpful.
It is a link to David Dunbar's Missional Journal. This is your two for one special.

"Alan Roxburgh suggests that the current period of highly discontinuous change will not go away any time soon. He estimates that we are two or three generations away from a time of greater stability for the culture and the church. During this time “none of us will find clear answers or complete solutions.” (The Sky is Falling!?! [ACI Publishing, 2005], p. 67.)
We should not conclude from this comment that missional leaders don’t know where they are going! The point is that this discussion is not about having all the right answers, but rather trying to identify the most important questions before the church–and working toward biblically and theologically sound answers.
For this discussion everyone is welcome at the table: traditional churches, charismatic churches, mega-churches, emerging churches… no one is excluded unless they exclude themselves. The challenges facing the church in our generation call for the Spirit-led creativity and commitment of the whole body of Christ. We need to put aside our relatively minor differences to focus on the pressing questions of our day. Faithfulness to our Lord demands this. And, yes, I admit it–I’m impatient!
So let’s get on with it!"

Good stuff, I believe. We are in a state of flux in the church. There is a new rise of atheism that is prevalent. People are not satisfied with the church in America. How do we renew ourselves?
My solution is move the church out beyond itself and realize that it must be willing to die to live.

Fearless Joy,

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Are any of my friends on this list

The List: The World’s Worst Religious Leaders

Posted April 2008
When Pope Benedict XVI visits the United States next week, he will likely make the case that religion is a force for peace in the world. Unfortunately, clerics from the world’s major faiths have, at times, helped justify and encourage the worst forms of bigotry and violence. This week’s FP List looks at the world’s leading preachers of hate.


I am not on this list?
Are you?


I have found out that I have a fear of cats, a phobia of sorts. Not that I scream and run when I see one. No, that I am fearful of being scratched and bitten by one. Volunteering with the SPCA is forcing me to deal with this fear and it also revealed that I have this fear.

Still, I will hold to my philosophy..."So many cats...so many recipes."
And, I will still hold to my philosophy to care for God's creation...even cats.

Fearless Joy,

Monday, April 07, 2008


Last night, I went to Calvary Chapel's discussion of Emerging Christianity led by Charlie Campbell. Coming to this event represented either my masochistic side or my desire to get into a fight. I knew where the conversation would lead, because I was carrying my Bible, Generous Orthodoxy, and Velvet Elvis. I knew I would need my Bible to be able to carry on the conversation and I wanted the two texts he would be quoting.

Before the meeting, I prayed to myself that God be willing to allow me to hear what is being said and to be open. Do not put up the defenses right away. I am not sure if I was willing for that prayer to be answered.

However, I began praying for Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, and Brian McLaren lead voices in the emergent church. Just God encourage them and let them stay focused.

In the end, I realized that I am emergent in viewpoint and theology. Have been for at least a decade. Now, I think I am going to claim that in San Joaquin Valley.

I am emergent in theology. My practice is not Emergent. My worship style is not emergent. But, I practice emergent in my thinking and philosophy it is who I am.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

working through

What do we control?
That is the greatest issue in my life, trying to discern what I can control and what I can't.
As a minister sometimes has this moment that she or he are the hands that God is using to bring about the Kingdom of God...then there is this realization that Kingdom and goodness is always welcomed.

At those moments, I have to remember that I do not have to change the world. God is doing thaat. I am here to witness to that fact, because God has changed me.

But, I do wish, hope, and pray to see it happen.
On those days when I feel that the kingdom has taken a step back...I know that I am being claimed by God. So, I hope for others. I try to bring grace and hope all the while trusting God.
I know that this is rambling, but I need to speak this so I can believe it.

Love is not the greatest word....Courage is the greatest word.
May you have courage to trust God and love the world.

Monday, March 31, 2008


How do we change?
That is the question that really is at the heart of life of faith. I preached yesterday a sermon on the Wedding Banquet in Matthew 22. The gist of the sermon was that to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God did not depend upon goodness or acts, but a fundmental willingness to change.

I have preached that sermon before, but when I preached that sermon before it has been that others need to change. The question for me is now, what do I need to be willing to change in my life to make myself more useful for the Kingdom.

I need to let go of fear. My life right now is comfortable, and I am fearful of making changes that may jeopardize that comfort. However, the call in my life is to be useful to the Kingdom of God, not to be comfortable. I have prayed the last few days for God to help me be willing to change.
I continue to pray and perhaps this time I will have courage to make the significant changes in my life.

Fearless Joy,

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Hmm, the govenor of New York is a sex addict.
Then the hope is that he gets help. He is self righteous, dishonest, and self destructive.
This is not political.
Perhaps, there will be opportunities for others to see how destructive addictions can be. Especially those addictions that are hidden. Gambling, spending, food, etc.
In between, many people will look at as morality. He is weak. He is, but that is not the whole story. He is crazy. He has lost touch with reality and put himself as god.
Well, the temple of Spitzer is closed and if there is grace of God in this. Then Spitzer will find out how to be honest and find God. Then the healing will begin.

The sad fact is that he is not like many others, mostly men, who live dishonest lives. Who think they are in control, but are so out of control that they wind up with prostitutes, looking at pornography, or with anonymous affairs. There has been Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, and now Elliot Spitzer. There are many other folks who don't garner the headlines who have the same problem, they make themselves god and then lose control.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Water supply

So today we find out that nation's water supply.
The report only gives pharmaceuticals. Then that begs the question, what happens with illicit and illegal drugs. We know that drugs are caught in urine tests meaning the body does not dispose of the drugs in the system. If the water supply has legal drugs in it, then it reasons to me that it has illegal drugs. Of course, the news is not going to tell us that.

Next question, does bottled water that is just local water tricked up with more purification still have drugs?

Final question, did bottled water companies pay for this study?

oiy,oiy, oiy!!!!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Difference between Moses and Jospeh

I noticed a difference between Moses and Joseph, the guy with the coat with many colors or long sleeves not Jesus' stepdad.

Joseph went to Egypt and he hung in PHaraoh's house. He was wealthy. He did little in his ability to care for others. In fact, it was not until his family showed up starving from famine that he sought to help them. He had the power to help them before they came, but he waited for them to come to him. He cared more for Pharaoh than his family until confronted. So, for Joseph to do good, the people came to him.

Moses was in exile from Egypt and for him to do good he had to go back. He went back and did not wait for folks to come to him. He went to the Burning bush. He went back to Egypt.

Through the eyes of misisonal church. Moses is a missional character. He went and did the will of God. Joseph allowed others to come to him and then he helped. His self interest was not always the interest of God. His will and God's will were at odds at times. Moses was driven to help others. His heart melded with God's heart.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


We are doing a series on prayer. One of the key reasons to do this series on prayer is that I sense the need in the church to come at prayer differently. Prayer is not something we should do, but we respond to prayer out of a desire to know Jesus.

In my story of faith, I can count many times when my prayer and devotional life was pretty empty. There were weeks when I would go without praying. When the Bible was the last thing I wanted to pick up. Those days are fewer, but I struggle at times with that. What I have learned is that sometimes the way I had been praying in the morning, in my office, or while I run that those methods no longer were able to connect me with God. So, I stop and try to find a new way. Light a candle. Put on a prayer cloth. Change devotional books. Take a walk. But, I claim those moments and do not try to fake it.

The key part of growth in the spiritual life is honesty. Honest with God and honest with myself.
If I am honest then there is nothing between God and me.

Fearless Joy,

Monday, January 07, 2008

Bangalore...customer service hell

I know Thom Friedman lauds the work of India and its role in the flattening of the world and globalization. However, customer service through the world of internet is hell.

I think the issue is that Indian way of thinking is different from the American way of thinking. I process the world differently from an Indian and though technical knowledge may help these folks...there understanding and ability to communicate with the American mind is lacking.

Likewise, I think if America was providing customer support for Mumbai...not so good.

My gripe is this. I have just been asked to reinstall my OS and that was diagnosis first. It seems that with Dell customer support, reinstall the OS is the first solution. When I work with stateside customer support the folks seem to listen and understand the problem. The soution might be...your hard drive is fried.

Curious thing is that I am not down on all Customer support in Bangalore...just Dell's. Their methodology sucks.

Anyways, how about that first episode the Wire season 5. Awesome. True, True, False.