Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Travel or Pilgrimage?

Everyone I knows travels. Some travel hundreds of thousands of miles a year. Others regularly cross the coast to see family and friends, to escape weather and to see new sights. Tomorrow I begin traveling with Martha and 11 others from Santa Barbara, meeting up with a couple from Muskegon Michigan days and then connecting with Luke in Paris, where we make our final flight to Athens.
There are the logistics and the discomforts of tight seats, long lines and uncertain connections. Some of us sleep adequately on planes and others of us don't. We all have our little secrets to help make travel more fun: good books, journals, ipods, magazines, even the laptop. I have synced my ipod and iphone. I'm carefully arranging my shoulder bag with reading material and doing the last-minute juggling of clothes and toiletries.
But the purpose of this trip is spiritual; to follow the journeys of the Apostle Paul, to get biblical dust on our shoes and see the landscapes he saw. How do I get ready for that? How do I quiet my heart among all the many things that distract me to model pastoral leadership among friends?
My good friend Bill Wright prayed at church last week around the words of Psalm 118:24 "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." This is the day before the trip that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. May I rejoice in every day of the next 10, for the Lord has made them all!

Monday, September 28, 2009


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ministry Faire

Today we had a Ministry Faire and more. It began with the Santa Barbara Brass (8 guys) filling the sanctuary with the bright sounds only brass can bring. Then Bob Gross arranged some praise songs for guitar and brass accompaniment and it sounded Sufjan Steven-esque! Jon Lemmond, our Pastor for Gospel Action arranged for 18 area ministries to set up at tables and we blessed them in worship
in this video I took
After the second worship service Mike & Sandy Prather and Lisa Holmlund grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for an all-church picnic (free for college students!). What makes this place and this community so much fun is the environment that allows for and encourages trying something new.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Well-Worth 10 Minutes for Devotional Reflection!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Holy Spirit & Leadership

The Spirit of God is key throughout the Bible for the calling and success of good leaders. The altar-piece speaks of rootedness, being yoked and surround by the Trinity.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Great Dad!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Today ends summer and earnestly begins fall. This has been one of the best summers for me in ministry in years (other than those summer-trips to France!). It's because I took a sabbatical from evening meetings with church leadership permission. Between Memorial Day and today, I have had 5 evening meetings! All summer! I swam regularly (some say obsessively) in the ocean (a practice I hope to continue) and Confirmation and Adult Bible Study were suspended. This week it all starts back up: Bible Study tonight and Confirmation tomorrow night, with premarital counseling after those sessions. So the days get fuller and longer, but it's time.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


God's Holy Spirit re-creates broken stuff, especially broken people. The text for Sunday is Genesis 4:1-16, a text I've never preached on before: Cain killing Abel. What a mess, yet God redeems our self-created messes.

Passing of the Peace (Bump?)

What should churches do in response to the H1N1 virus? Our staff went on the CDC web-site and found that they recommend alcohol based hand santizers be made available where food is being offered and where hand-washing is easy to do. We decided to service communion in the older, Covenant way of individual cups out of trays and bread pre-sliced into smaller cubes (as opposed to being pulled from a common loaf and dipped into a common cup) at least for a while.
Then this morning, in an interesting article from Duke Divinity School a suggestion was made to substitute the passing of the peace action (hand-shaking or hugging) with either an elbow or fist bump. Is this a joke or something to seriously consider? Are we becoming a culture of germiacs? I think I'll stay with hand shakes, hugs and lots of hand washing before I revert to the passing of the bump.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shuttle flight home

Nothing sweeter than the last flight home!

My last Stewardship Meeting

Today I finished 3 years on the Covenant Stewardship Committee. It was
a great lesson in the importance of infrastructure and collaborative
communications (something not always easy for me). But it's also been
a great time to hear about all the quiet heroes who have lived and
given sacrificiallt because they knew who the owner was. Thanks all!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lunch with Kelly & Luke

A real benefit of Chicago trips is seeing Luke & Kelly!

Covenant Stewardship Meeting

Below are some fascinating thoughts and quotes that have come out of the meetings today. These are non-attributed and approved by the chair to share with you all:

Stewardship is the clarification of who owns what stuff…it’s that simple. Jesus in the Temple (3:child, Isaiah 61:1, turning tables) What kinds of thoughts were in Jesus’ heart and mind so much that he would disrupt Temple practices? Stewardship is resigning our will to the knowledge of who owns what. Stewardship is defending our knowledge of who owns what

I have a hard time owning two roofs when so many people don’t have even one.
It’s easier to turn a moving ship than a ship that is not moving.

It’s not about the $ but about ownership: who owns what? God’s resources for his purposes

Stewardship education is not about education but formation: creating more stewards

What are the stewardship dimensions to the structures we have in the church

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

LAX to Chicago

On the way to Chicago for 2 days of Stewardship Committee
meetings...and the chance to see Luke briefly.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Holy Spirit & Creation

"Formless and void" and the "deep" are evocative words the Bible uses to describe the stuff of creation, the stuff God works with and calls into formed beauty. But what caught me this week in Genesis 1:1,2 was the verb associated with the Holy Spirit; "hovered". It only occurs here and in Deuteronomy described what an eagle does over its nest.
I love the altar-piece with the nest, eggs (full of life and potential to be great eagles) feathers and the hovering candles. What does hovering mean to you? What is good hovering and what is bad hovering? How does God's Spirit still hover over you, bringing order out of your chaos and form out of your void? May you sense God's hovering presence in a whole new way this Sunday as you worship and throughout the week following.

Bill & Billie Forney

Friday, September 11, 2009

8 years later

It was a staff meeting day, preschoolers were coming in with their parents under my window to the downstairs area where Salem offered classes. I was getting the agenda ready, having finished my devotions and was now deep into the nitty gritty of church administration while a major building renovation was going on. I was very busy and very important, senior pastor of a larger and growing church.
But that day it all stopped, as a parent I knew told me to turn on a TV because of the attacks in New York. All building ceased as the workmen and the church staff gathered in stunned silence as the horrors unfolded before us. We called for a 7pm service of prayer and I asked our senior pastors, Wally Pratt and Glenn Wiberg, to offer words of reflection as I led in prayer and we sang songs of lament.
Now, 8 years later, what's changed? What's the lingering impact on me and on you? How does 8 years later make a difference in the life of the church?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Martha's new health food: cactus!!

Hovering Eagle

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Lost: Convicted Civility

Dr. Richard Mouw gave me a phrase that defines Christian conduct in this wildly pluralistic society: convicted civility. It means I am clear and forthright about my convictions but always civil and respectful for those who disagree with me, and especially toward my loyal opposition.
What do our children learn when they see us disrespect others? I mean there are a lot of people I seriously disagree with over a number of issues; some of them salvific. But if I behave rudely, use sarcastic language about them, snort and sneer when their name is mentioned, what lesson am I teaching the watching eyes around me.
Yeah, this is first about the nasty reactions to President Obama's speech to school children. What? I read the text and there is nothing to protest other than it came from his mouth and they disagree with him. But the same is true about former Vice President Cheney and President Bush. I've made it a point to listen to all our elected presidents' speeches over the years, whether I voted for them or not. Often I have to listen alone because to listen with a partisan crowd is to join the jeering/cheering.
This behavior belies a bigger problem of general courtesy and respect in multiple levels: students to teachers, drivers to police, passengers to airline staff, shoppers to salespersons, ...get it? When I allow myself to behave disrespectfully in one area, another will soon open up.
We are not caving in by behaving respectfully. Rather, we are gaining the ear of our opponent, for whom Christ died as well.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Great time w/Anna & Isaac

Just had a great weekend with Anna & Isaac. But something happens to a family where all the kids and their spouses live on iPhones! We tried a new app together called "mover". Pretty slick!

Beach stones

Beach walk with Isaac

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Adventure with the Holy Spirit

Sunday starts a whole new preaching/worship series at MCC, focussing on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. I'm going this direction because of a personal hunger on my part to see the Holy Spirit unleashed and at work in my life and in the life of this congregation. The beginning point, as the photo illustrates, is the Trinity. The Holy Spirit cannot be amputated out of the Trinity, but only appreciated as part of the Trinity. We'll see where it all goes!

The New Christians: Tony Jones

Reading Tony Jone's book "The New Christians: dispatches for the emergent frontier" makes me feel like I do when I'm reading someone else's screen on an airplane; I should not be reading this because I do not belong to this club who "gets it" and have taken the "red pill". Jones powerfully articulates the genuine disillusionment with stagnated denominational and institutionally encrusted Christianity.
Why do I feel like an interloper? Because Jones several times mentions "unlikely" friends like Brian McClaren and Scot McKnight who are clearly older Christians. Does the emergent community carry about within it a nascent ageism? Should older bald guys (and greying women) stay away? I am compelled by Jone's description of friendship being a more binding agent than certitude, but it seems to have age limits to it. What about senior care? Where do adolescents find a home? How inclusive is this community?
I recall, while reading this book, another occasion years ago. I met and became a loose friend to Doug Pagitt. Doug just had a new book published and he invited me to the Solomon's Porch book party. What an honor! I had a formal event that day, so I showed up in the wrong uniform: dark suit, white shirt and dark tie. Everyone there got the memo about dress code but me. As I walked through the halls, conversation stopped, eyes scanned me with curiosity. Clearly I was in the wrong place, and nobody spoke.
The values of the emergent community are noteworthy and attractive to me. It's the translation into life on the streets and among the other churches that will tell over time.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Morning in Santa Barbara

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Flagship Churches

In a conversation the other day, a friend told me of a church the considers itself a "flagship" church. I'm old enough to have heard that term to describe a prominent and important church for a denomination or city. They are the oldest, biggest and most impressive churches, where official funerals are held and weddings for important families. They used to set trends and directions, and were places where the most promising pastors received calls (or appointments).
But what does flagship actually mean in a postmodern, emergent world? How valuable is the real estate for the ongoing mission? Who cares about locational proximity in a viral world? Is age of a building a blessing or a curse? Do traditions attract or repel? How about admirals with walrus mustaches and chests full of medals...any use anywhere?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Curioser...and curioser!

No, it's not a "doctored" photo. Martha entered her office last week to discover this sight, had the presence of mind to take a photo before repeating very loudly "Oh Yuck! Oh Yuck!" Maintenance people were summoned, the remains were removed and mess cleaned up. But the question remains, how did that happen? Did the mouse pry off the face-plate and worm itself inside to bite the wires? Or did it bite the wires inside the wall and get blasted out through the face-plate? I'm still puzzled!

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