Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Well here we go

As I sit here we have begun discussion on Paragraph 161 in the Book of Discipline. For those that don't know the text in question is dealing with the issue of homosexuality. This part of General Conference could be very challenging. As the delegates work through this process, I simply hope that we can do it with a sense of love and compassion.

So if you have a moment, say a little prayer that we can journey through this process together in love.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Good Morning your Royal Highness


These were the words that Bishop Micheal Watson had us say to each other this morning as started the plenary session of the General Conference. He was referring to a section of 1 Peter 2.

It was a fitting way to start the day since we all experienced the royal nature of God this morning as we watched the Hope for Africa Children’s Choir choir sing "Friend of God".


What a great song and what passion these children had. Every once in awhile while here we get those special moments to remind us all what it is all about, this morning was definitely one of those times.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Good Leadership

What a reminder for me today!

Bishop Mike Coyner from the North Indiana Conference lead the plenary session this morning. He did it with humor and compassion and clarity. He knew he was not the show and kept things on track and was still very attentive to the questions, no matter how off course, from the floor.

The session today consisted in part of the election of Judicial Council Delegates as well as University Senate members.

I did not know all the names, however it sounded like there was a subtle shift in the Judicial council membership. We shall see what impact that may have in the future.

I left a little early this afternoon so I could get back to the room and relax and then work on my sermon for Sunday. I am a little tired and plan on taking it easy tonight, maybe go socialize and conduct some theology on tap sessions!

Tomorrow should be very interesting as some rather topical things will be brought to the floor.


Peace...and don't be too jealous Greg. Yes I am here but you get to be home with your family!
I miss mine already. Although this should be a great week.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

General Conference 2008

On Sunday afternoon, I am heading to General Conference in Dallas/Ft. Worth. I am anxious to go and see what the atmosphere is like. I was in Pittsburgh in 2004 and was in "shock and awe" at all that I saw and experienced. This time I am a little older and a little wiser. I have been in the UMC system a few more years and I am interested to see how I react to what I see and experience this time.

So am I a delegate? Heck no. I am just going with a friend of mine. We enjoy watching the action and going to various gatherings, plus as all us Methodists know.....Cokesbury!!!! I love me some Cokesbury. At some point in time I am going to put a dent in the books that I have bought at Cokesbury, however I don't see that happening soon. Instead I am sure I will add to my must read list.


Oh well, I just hope and pray that this conference we find ourselves as Methodists coming to some understanding of how the Holy Spirit is leading us into the next quadrennium.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Not the same thing

I went out today with a friend to play a game that we called golf. I believe that perhaps what I did vaguely resembled golf, perhaps. It in no way compares to what Tiger does on a normal weekend.

Yet, I still find it enjoyable. Despite the fact that I spent a lot of time looking for my ball and trying to figure out how I could possibly hit the green from where I ended up, it was still fun.

I could have spent my time, just comparing myself to Tiger, or my friend for that matter. If I did that I would not have had any fun at all. How many times in our lives do we do just that though?

Do we spend our time worrying about how we measure up to others? Do we try and figure out if what we are doing is as good as others? Or do we simply do the best we can and give it all up to God?

We may not be the next Tiger Woods or Mother Theresa but maybe we just need to focus on being the best us we can be. I think that will simply be good enough!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Do or Die!


I have not posted about sports too much, however one thing to know about me is that I am a HUGE sports fan. A 4 for 4 fan as they are called in the Delaware Valley. I love the home teams, and that of course is the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, and Sixers.

Tonight is game seven in a series the Flyers led 3-1. It seemed like it was over and then the Capitals came roaring back. The Flyers have been outplayed and yet they are just one game away from advancing. They have one opportunity to make a stand and to move on.

This is probably why I love sports so much. It asks the athletes to dig deep within themselves and to do things that most of the rest of the world simply can't or won't. I enjoy watching these teams that I follow give everything that they have and then reach down for more. Some of my fondest memories growing up are sports related, either watching or playing. It is a large part of whom I am as a person.


Well tonight the Flyers need to make some memories for some young kids somewhere that will be staying up late and watching this game down to the last second. tonight for the Flyers it is do or die!


Sometimes I wish life was that black and white. Success or failure are so tough to figure out in real life. Did I make a difference today? Did I notice that person who was just dying to hear the Good News or did I simply go on with my day? Well let's try and live our lives each day like it is do or die, who knows it just might be!


In the meantime....
Let's Go Flyers!

Let's Go Flyers!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Real Love - Real Power

Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.


Jesus' claim in John 14 that we will do things greater than he did, is a troubling one at times. How is that possible? I mean really, I am never going to walk on water or raise the dead, yet Jesus says those who have faith will in fact do greater things.

Well I think it is all about perspective. What is real power and where does it come from? I believe that when we spend time really looking at the Gospels we see a theme that emerges. The theme is one of love. We sometimes look at love as something that inhibits us or handicaps us. Instead Jesus shows us a different way to look at love.

Jesus shows us the real power of love. Jesus' love lived out in the world changes things. It heals families and transforms lives. It takes the broken and makes it whole again. The love of Jesus in the world lived out by the church is a power that no one can stand against.

When we take that love into the world, we will do things greater than Jesus did. We will do it with the power of the Holy Spirit. We will change lives and bring hope and opportunity into the world all the whil telling the story of Jesus Christ.



Friday, April 18, 2008

Ultimate Fighting Jesus?


Say it ain't so. I was reading an article in Christianity Today and it was discussing the need to create a Jesus for the real man. It talked about the view that Jesus had been portrayed as too weak and wimpy over time. There is a need to make Jesus stronger and more virile.

Really?!?!?

Have we got everything else in the world figured out yet? Have we tackled hunger, poverty, war, and disease? Do we really have so much free time on our hands that we need to put some muscles on Jesus?

I love the pictures of Jesus that the montage on this post contain. They are thought provoking and challenge conventional wisdom in many ways. Yet, I wonder why we feel he need to change Jesus, and to make him
more masculine. the Jesus that we find in the Bible is a powerful figure that needs no enhancement. He was a revolutionary, he was political, he was a working man, he was also caring and compassionate. More to the point he was brave and trusting and faithful enough to go to the cross for us. How much more manly can you be?

We don't need to pump up the image of Jesus, we need to be able to tell his story in such a way that people really get who he was and what he did and still does for us.

Ultimate Fighting Jesus? What a joke....although...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

2 Funerals later


Yesterday I officiated two funerals, one at 7 Pm and one at 8 Pm. It was a very emotional time and a very exhausting time as well. As I sat down today and was reflecting on that, I remembered this poem that I had used in a Funeral a few years back. It seemed fitting today:

Going Home
by Brenda Race

I brought her home today God,
Back to a place where she had once trod
I think she knew maybe deep in her soul,
that this was a place that once made her whole.

Oh, how I long to see her smile
for I know the pain that goes with each mile
I remember the happy times of days gone by
and how too quickly they did fly

I see with the passing of every day
a little more of her is taken away
But while she is losing a little more from here
I know that closer to heaven she is drawing near

Still the pain of watching her slip away
lays heavy on my heart every single day
I know too God that you are near
and I really should not have anything to fear

But fear I do for her and for me
because you know I do not always see
the good there is in everything here
in losing the ones we hold so dear

When she reaches out and touches my hand
I feel the closeness and her love so grand
And when my name she speaks so soft
my soul soars higher and higher aloft

I guess what I want God is your grace in my pain
to ever remind me that my loss is her gain
Let me take those smiles and the gentle touch
and hold them in my heart where they mean so much

and never let me forget that you are at work here
even though in my darkest fear
I am losing a mother as you gain a child
let not your work ever be defiled

But forgive me God when I question why
for I know t hat you hold her and could help her fly
a faster journey to her home above
where there is no pain only total love.



Copyright © 1999 Brenda Race
Used with permission of the author.

Brenda was caregiver to her mother for a year
until her mother was placed in a nursing home in
December 1998. This poem was written seven months
later, on July 26, 1999. Brenda continued to visit her mother
regularly and to share hours with her until her
mothers death in December 1999. Brenda has posted
her beautiful poetry at A Window on My Mind
and it can be found in Insights at Alzheimer's
Outreach
as well as at her own site,

Poems, Prayers and Promises.


Monday, April 14, 2008

First Date Jitters


It had been so long since I had that feeling of a first date. I forgot the dread and the fear that accompany the excitement. Last night my wife, son, my son's friend/girlfriend/best pal, and I went up to visit the church that we will be going to in July. We sat down for dinner with the pastor and his family and then a couple of leaders at the church. We followed that time off with visiting with the youth group and meeting a few more leaders.


Wow, I am wiped out. It was pretty exhausting. I fall in love with that sanctuary every time that I see it. I loved the people that I met, especially the kids. So now the waiting begins. I have so much here left to do. I need to help this church with their transition and I have to try and get more acclimated with the new church.

All the while trying to continue to tell that wonderful wonderful story. As I was getting ready for the sermon this week I noticed that the Gospel lesson in the lectionary is from John 14. A favorite gospel lesson for funerals but also a troubling Gospel lesson for much of society because of the claims of Jesus in verse 6.

I love this part of scripture, there are so many things that Jesus is telling his followers here and I think this is a great lesson for this time of year. I can't wait for Sunday!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

No one does - Do they?

There was a funeral today. It was for the father of my son's friend. He died in a traffic accident, way before it was "time". I went to the viewing before the funeral today and I was talking to my son, who told me that he did not like funeral's.

I explained to him that no one really does. The funeral can be a tough time and it is often a time filled with real pain and sadness.
As a pastor, it is often a time when I get to reach out and comfort a family, many times a family I do not know.

It is a time when I can try and simply be there and help a family celebrate a life and love shared. It can be a time of tears and smiles. A time of sadness and joy. It really depends upon the person who has died and the family. It can be an opportunity to share the love of Christ with people in a way that can bring healing and peace.

Yet today as I went up to the family and greeted them, all those things left me. All I saw was this young man who had been to my house many times and I simply felt helpless. I took him in my arms and told him that anything he needed, please let me know. Yet that felt so empty, I felt as if I should have been able to do more for him. After all I knew him and cared for him and wanted to be able to heal and comfort, yet it felt like I could do none of those things today.


So I feel as if perhaps I did not live out my calling today. Today I was not the man or the pastor that God has called me to be. I know this day was not about me but I truly felt as if there was something more I could have done or should have done.


So in the end I did what I should always do and should always do more of...I prayed.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

It's time!

With everything else going on, it is very exciting to be able to go down to South Seaville today and open up the cottage for the season. This will our first season down at the cottage. We are so excited.

It will be a good place to get away to. I plan on using it quite a bit as a study retreat. The family can't wait to get down there and just enjoy the area and the people. It is nice to have someplace to get away from "reality".

We were able to go down a few times last year after we bought it, towards the end of the season. It was a relaxing experience. It just reaffirmed what my wife and I have always been told, we need to be able to get away. A place where there is no expectations and there are no meetings. A place where we can just enjoy each other and appreciate life. God is present there for us in so many ways.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Evangelical?


I loved reading this story... It talks about a growing number of younger adults who consider themselves evangelicals but are falling outside the traditional definitions.

I can't stand the fact that the word evangelical has been hijacked by a small number of people. I believe that this is a word that we need to fight to reclaim.

Evangelicals are too big too fit into any box and I am glad the media is at least beginning to explore that. I really don't think that it is an age thing necessarily as the article seems to be suggesting. I just think that many in the evangelical mold are beginning to find their voice on a host of issues.

So what does it mean to be evangelical?

Is evangelical a dirty word to you?

Does this story give you hope?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Aha!


Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

This is a quote from Thomas Edison that really stuck me when I read it this morning. It is something that I need to hear and it is something that I need to meditate on and pray about.

How many times have I missed an opportunity to be part of something because it was hard work? How many times have I chosen the easier path? Well it may be time to look at things differently now.

As the next few months happen in my life and my ministry here, I need to be more purposeful about looking for that opportunity that is dressed as hard work. My mission here is not done, there are still more things that we are called on to do together. There are also more opportunities to reach people with the story of Jesus Christ.

So for the next few months as we begin the transition process, I need to keep my eyes focused on what is around me and to continue to seek God's will for the church and for myself. I am now a man with a changing ministry, but that only means more opportunity to really make a difference in the world for Jesus Christ.

I have been blessed with my time here and I am not anxious to see it end, and it is not ending. It is just changing. the work that we have started here will continue long after my family and I have gone, because that is how the Holy Spirit operates. The Spirit was here long before we got here and will be here long after we leave.

Now the Sp-irit that has already been ay work in our new place of ministry is doing marvelous things and we get to be part of that exciting ministry as well. So we don't leave anyone behind, we simply expand our circle and continue to seek God's face.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

You want it wit?


There is a certain lingo that you need to survive in the world today. The lingo is based upon where you live and in certain ways the people with which you live and hang out. What I may say in certain circles and get a chuckle, I may get a death stare in other arenas.

I was thinking about that today when I went to Rick's in the Reading terminal for lunch with a friend. We took the hi-speed line over to Philly and walked around and just talked about what was going on in our lives. We are in similar situations with our churches and our ministries as we both are moving this year. As I stood in line, I got a little nervous. I had not ordered a cheese steak in so long that I thought perhaps I was going to forget how I was supposed to do it.

There is nothing worse than standing in line for lunch and messing up your order because you do not know the lingo. I won't even get into the debate about the type of cheese, and yes for you who have never experienced it, people do eat Cheese Whiz on cheese steaks and it is GOOD!

So I got my steak(with Cheese Whiz of course) wit (means with Fried onions) and sat down and enjoyed my lunch. then I began to wonder of there was going to be new lingo that I was going to have to learn. Would I be able to adapt or would I find it difficult to communicate in my new surroundings?

So many questions.

Does anyone have a napkin?