Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Need a Laugh... Don't You?

This has turned out to be quite the interesting Advent and Christmas Season... There will be a blog posting after Christmas with all of the crazy, wacky details. I may not have set myself on fire this year (at least not yet), but this is definitely one for the record books.

In the meantime, I need a good laugh. So... Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Java, Others, and You...?

So, my friend Gary shared this link with folks in my Presbytery the other day. I highly recommend that you check out the website, as it has some pretty interesting things to say about marketing your church. Seriously, folks, we need to wake up and smell the coffee...

Advent Musings

So, clearly I have not been able to blog in a while... It has been a bit crazy these last several weeks, so I appreciate any and all prayers that are being aimed in my general direction.

It seems that there is at least one thing that happens every Advent that is, well... unexpected. All you have to do is take a brief stroll down memory lane and read some of my blog entries from last year to see what I mean. While nothing has come crashing down so far, and I have (to this point) been able to avoid setting myself on fire again, there have been a few moments during this Advent season when I have found myself asking, "Really? This is what is going to happen this Sunday?" Since there is still one Sunday left in this Advent season, I will delay in writing about those adventures... at least for today. We'll see what this Sunday brings...

Oh -- if you haven't checked out the joy that is Wordle.net, you really need to wander over to see it! Check out this nifty creation (based on the stroll down memory lane that I mentioned above...)!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thank You, Brother Leon...

This blog post by a fellow Presbymergent pastor, Leon Bloder, was a real gift from God to me tonight... I hope that it can be a blessing to others.

The Offering: An Emergent Theology Tale

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pastoral Letter

Bruce, Gradye, and Linda have written a pastoral letter to the PCUSA. In particular, it responds to the various natural disasters we all have faced during the last several weeks and months. You can read it on Bruce's Moderator Blog.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Poll Results -- What Language I Should Learn Next (according to you)

I wanted to write a quick note about the results of the last poll that I had posted regarding what language you fine people thought that I should study next. I thought that the results were rather interesting, with 60% of you voting for me to study Spanish. I should say that I have studied Spanish before, but I could certainly use a refresher course or two.

Really, I had imagined that more of you would have voted for me to study Korean, but that only received one vote! I am increasingly interested in learning Korean -- especially since there are so many Presbyterian brothers and sisters who speak Korean that I would like to be able to communicate with more easily at presbytery meetings and the like. Although, I would like to brush up on my Spanish for the same reason...

I have not yet ordered the materials to begin my study, but I hope to be able to do that before the end of this year. At this point, I am feeling especially drawn to brushing up my Spanish skills; but, I imagine that I will be taking on a study of Korean before too long, as well. I am likely going to use Rosetta Stone, so I would be very interested to hear from people who have used these materials in the past (or present).

Monday, September 8, 2008

Further Reflections on the 218th General Assembly

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:34-35 (NRSV)

Almost three months have gone by since the 218th General Assembly of the PC(USA) met in San Jose, California, and I find that I am still reflecting on the many things that happened there – as well as the many responses and reactions to what happened (or what is rumored to have happened) there.

The committee that I worked with was the Church Orders and Ministry Committee. I must admit that I was both very excited and somewhat anxious about working on that committee, as it was the committee that would discuss issues surrounding the topic of ordination. Prior to going out to San Jose, I spent hours upon hours reading, re-reading, researching, listening, studying, reflecting, consulting, and reading some more. I poured over the overtures, all of the supplemental material, the Bible, the Book of Order, and the Book of Confessions. It all made for interesting conversations with the staff at the local Buffalo Wild Wings, which is where I did much of my pre-GA prep – boneless buffalo wings, free cola refills, and Presbyterian polity… yum!

I think that I expected more division and, well, “fighting” in my committee. But, thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. The majority of the committee was ready and wanting to truly listen to – and maybe even learn from – one another. Certainly, there were those who arrived in San Jose with their minds closed to any ideas or opinions different from their own, but it was my experience that the majority of folks were there to honestly discern and listen with patience and respect to the voices of all who had been called to serve the Assembly. We worked hard as a committee, and it was not easy work for any of us. And when all of the debates were closed and the voting ended, we wrapped up our time together in a time of worship. With the exception of about 3 people who were upset by the results of the last vote that we cast, the entire committee – as well as those who were gathered to observe our committee – shared in the Lord’s Supper together.

Yes, there had been moments of finger-pointing, name-calling, derogatory statements, or assumptions made on all sides. Some of the presentations and debates that took place were not what I would consider to be nice or (occasionally) civilized. The Church is not perfect – it is made up of people. (I recall Paul saying something about everyone falling short of the glory of God…) Neither the conservatives nor the liberals have it all right. But I believe that there is hope. There is dialogue that is happening between those who disagree. There are places where faithful Presbyterians are reaching out to each other from across the theological divide. I know that it is happening, because I’ve been a part of it. I have had the opportunity to stay in contact with a fellow member of the Church Orders and Ministry Committee who lives on the other end of the country – as well as on the other end of the theological spectrum. She and I did not agree on many of the things that were decided in our committee, but we are both committed to staying connected. We may not agree on some theological issues, but we both confess with glad and joyful hearts that Jesus Christ is Lord. We both have come to realize that if there is to be any real hope for the Church, we must be willing to honestly listen to one another – recognizing and acknowledging one another as fellow children of God and sisters/brothers in Christ.

On July 1, 2008, I wrote the following reflection on my blog:
I just got back from General Assembly... and my head is still spinning! I am amazed at what we were able to accomplish as a Church! Wow! I'm sure that there are a few who are reading this blog who aren't as thrilled as I am, but that's okay... It is our diversity which can make us strong.Now that GA is over, the real work begins. We re-affirmed our commitment to the recommendations made by the Peace, Unity, and Purity Task Force in 2006, which challenges us to be in conversation and communion with one another. While there are certainly some churches who will want to leave the denomination, I fervently hope that most churches will seek ways to be in dialogue with each other. The words of Psalm 133 continue to echo in my head. How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity…

I had one response to that post. He wrote: “I hate to burst your bubble, Amy, but the 218 GA has created more divisions across the denomination than any other.”

Really? I guess I have a very different take on things – and it isn’t because I agree with what all happened at the 218th General Assembly. I don’t agree with every decision that was made by the Assembly. But I have come to understand that God is so much bigger than all of our squabbling and differences. It is very true that my perception of what God desires for the PC(USA) is different from my neighbors’, but it is my firm belief that God is able to work through and speak through the voices of both people with whom I agree and people with whom I fervently disagree. We are called to trust God in the process – really trusting that God is the one who is in charge. God calls us through scripture to live together, work together, pray together, worship together, and witness together.

I pray that we will seek to live out our calling to live as brothers and sisters in Christ, so that our willingness to look past our differences and declare together that Jesus Christ is Lord can bear witness to the amazing power of the love and grace of God!

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:34-35 (NRSV)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Presbymeme II -- My Response

Ok... time for me to dive into Presbymeme II. (I know that I wrote more than 25 words on number 5, but I shortened it as best I could...)

1. What is your favorite faith-based hymn, song or chorus.

It is a tie, I think, between How Great Thou Art and This Is My Father's World.

2. What was the context, content and/or topic of the last sermon that truly touched, convicted, inspired, challenged, comforted and/or otherwise moved you?

Using Galatians 1:6-10 and 3:19-29, my colleague challenged us to recognize that labels we place on one another are all erased in Christ.

3. If you could have all Presbyterians read just one of your previous posts, what would it be and why?

I would have to choose And That's When I Set Myself on Fire... Part 1.

4. What are three PC(USA) flavored blogs you read on a regular basis?

In no particular order: Good News from PGR, Presbyterian Bloggers, and reyes-chow::MODERATOR

5. If the PC(USA) were a movie, what would it be and why?

My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Some of our "families" within this family seem to be very different from one another - apples and oranges, even. But, as the father says in the movie: "We all different, but in the end, we all fruit."

Tagged: Pastor Julie, David Parker, David Esche, Joel Adams, and Landon Whitsitt.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Presbymeme II

Ok... so, for those who are unfamiliar with memes, you may want to read this (or this) first.

Our techno-savvy Moderator has blessed us with another meme - Presbymeme II! (Apparently, he initiated one a few months ago that he called Presbymeme 5... And, apparently I missed that one. I will be posting my thoughts on that one later.)

Today, I will post the rules and questions. Soon, I will post my response.

The Rules // Presbymeme II

  • in about 25 words each, answer the following five questions;
  • tag five presbyterian bloggers and send them a note to let them know they were tagged;
  • be sure to link to this original post, leave a comment or send a trackback to this post so others can find you;

The Questions // Presbymeme II

  1. What is your favorite faith-based hymn, song or chorus.
  2. What was the context, content and/or topic of the last sermon that truly touched, convicted, inspired, challenged, comforted and/or otherwise moved you?
  3. If you could have all Presbyterians read just one of your previous posts, what would it be and why?
  4. What are three PC(USA) flavored blogs you read on a regular basis?
  5. If the PC(USA) were a movie, what would it be and why?

Friday, August 15, 2008

You Just Can't Trust People in Disney Costumes Anymore

No, my friends, you just cannot make up news like this. It was the headline of "Beware the Preying Pooh" that caught my attention...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Say What?

So, I have always been pretty good at learning languages. It has been a while since I have taken a language course -- if we don't count Hebrew and Greek (since I don't speak in those languages all that much), it has been about 10 years.

So, the time has come for me to start learning a language again! And I am welcoming you into my discernment process on this as I try to decide which language I am going to learn (or re-learn). Just vote for the language that you think I should try to learn next (using the poll in the column to the right). Voting will be open until August 25th.

I may or may not go with the majority on this, but I assure you that I do not already have my mind made up right now -- I really want your input! So, help a sister out and vote, please!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Call to Prayer

Let us remember our brothers and sisters in prayer.

O, that the we would hear God's call to be a people of peace...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Let Them Grow Together

On Sunday, I dared to preach on the parable that is commonly referred to as “The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Weeds)”. You know the one – a guy plants wheat, someone else plants weeds (that look exactly like the wheat) in the same field, and the two types of plants are allowed to grow together until the harvest… at which point, the weeds are gathered up to be used as fuel for the fire, and the wheat finds sanctuary in the barn. Yep… I think a lot of us like to read the parable that way – with the emphasis being on how the “nasty weeds” are going to “get it” in the end. We tend to read it as if it is one of Aesop’s Fables with some moral to be grasped by the time we reach the last sentence. That’s how I learned it decades ago at VBS: “Remember kids… don’t be a weed!”

But is that what Jesus is trying to say in this parable? I don’t think it is. It is a shame that we so often read parables as if they are Biblical Aesop’s Fables, with characters who represent certain kinds of people and a clear “moral to the story” to be learned with each. When we read parables in this way, I believe that we miss most of the point of parables. Parables – if we really read them, instead of reading into them – don’t give clear answers. Parables usually leave us with more questions than answers – and I think that is exactly why Jesus used parables to talk about things like the Kingdom of God. Why? Because by his using parables to teach, Jesus invites us into an ongoing conversation with him (as opposed to just giving us the answers – which we probably couldn’t handle anyway – and letting us live our lives without needing to be dependent on Jesus).

I believe that Jesus wants us to join him in wrestling with the scriptures instead of constantly wrestling with each other. Wrestling with each other isn’t going to get us anywhere. But, wrestling with Scripture as we remain in conversation with Christ gets us closer to the Word of God.

One of the questions that I have wrestled with as I read this parable is, “what are we supposed to do with the Wheat and the Weeds?” (We always want to know what to do, right?) The response to that given in the parable is “Let them both grow together.” For those who are fans of Greek, check out the word that is translated here as “let them”… it is also used in the Lord’s Prayer, but it is translated there as “forgive”. Forgive and grow together…? Oh, if we would dare to take this to heart and live this way as Christians! The world expects Christians to point fingers and place blame (check out chapter 8 of UnChristian). I hope and pray that we will dare to take the world by surprise and live as people characterized by forgiveness instead of judgment!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Growing Christ's Church Deep and Wide

Another letter has been sent to PCUSA congregations from GA Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow, GA Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons, and GAC Executive Director Linda Bryant Valentine. The letter highlights some of the actions taken by the 218th General Assembly that haven't made headlines as much as others (if at all).

Check it out!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thoughts About the Heidelberg Catechism

"Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence,
but a false witness speaks deceitfully."

-- Proverbs 12:17

The 218th General Assembly decided to begin the process of revising the Heidelberg Catechism. The Theological Issues and Institutions Committee presented the overture from the Presbytery of Newark, asking the Assembly “to correct translation problems in five responses of the Heidelberg Catechism as found in The Book of Confessions and to add the original Scripture texts of the German Heidelberg Catechism.”

Translation problems. Sounds simple enough. But, of course, not everyone is happy about this desire to revise the Heidelberg Catechism. There are claims by some that this call to revise this catechism is purely a political move spearheaded by those seeking the full inclusion of GLBT church members. This is because one of the translation problems involves the answer to Question 87, which (in the current translation) includes the phrase "homosexual perversion". However, that phrase (as well as the phrase "Surely you know that the unjust will never come into possession of the kingdom of God. Make no mistake:") is nowhere to be found in either the Latin or German texts of the Heidelberg Catechism. As it turns out, the gentlemen who did the English translation of the text in 1962 later admitted that they had inserted these words.

Apparently, I'm not the only one thinking about this issue.

Whether you agree with the text as it stands now or not is - in my opinion - immaterial. Mistranslation is mistranslation. When you translate something, you don't add materials that you want to see included. Otherwise, it is a false witness. And I don't know about you, but my mama raised me different than that...

Friday, July 11, 2008

My New Favorite Book... And The Book I'll Be Reading Soon...

Ok... just a quick post to comment on my new favorite book, A Generous Orthodoxy.

I'm still reading, but so far I am really impressed with what Brian McLaren has to say. It is easy to read, yes... but that doesn't mean that it is an "easy read". It is actually pretty challenging. McLaren doesn't hold back. And it is rather refreshing, I think.

Now, this isn't the only book that I'm reading. I'm a true book lover, and I tend to read at least 4 or 5 books at a time. But one of the books that is on my list to read this summer is one that I got while I was at GA. It is not a book that I would have bought (EVER), but since folks were nice enough to give me a copy, I do plan on reading it. The book is Broken Covenant by Parker T. Williamson, the editor emeritus and senior correspondent of The Layman. Yes... The Layman. Not a publication that I endorse (at all). But... I am interested in what he has to say.

Maybe I will end up writing my own book in response... Who knows!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

“Get into the boat. Go across the lake. There will be a storm. You will not die.”

Three key leaders representing the 218th General Assembly have sent a letter to the 11,000 congregations of the PCUSA. You can read the letter here.

Back from GA

I just got back from General Assembly... and my head is still spinning! I am amazed at what we were able to accomplish as a Church! Wow! I'm sure that there are a few who are reading this blog who aren't as thrilled as I am, but that's okay... It is our diversity which can make us strong.

Now that GA is over, the real work begins. We re-affirmed our commitment to the recommendations made by the Peace, Unity, and Purity Task Force in 2006, which challenges us to be in conversation and communion with one another. While there are certainly some churches who will want to leave the denomination, I fervently hope that most churches will seek ways to be in dialogue with each other. The words of Psalm 133 continue to echo in my head. How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity. Maybe I will post the sermon I preached about a year ago that used that text...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Days Three and Four = Tired Commissioners

The last two days have been spent working in our various committees. For me, it has been a very good and meaningful experience. I hope to write more about it later, but for now... I need to sleep... You can check out what overtures will be presented to the assembly by checking out http://pc-biz.org/. Thank you for your continued prayers for me and the whole of the assembly!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Day Two

Alas, I still seem to be having issues with my mobile blogger, which means that I will not be able to post as often as I had hoped. But, I will post updates as often as I am able to gain access to one of the email kiosks or a WiFi hotspot.

Worship was held this morning, and it was a wonderful service! They posted a link to view a replay of the worship service on-line at the PCUSA website. I think that it was done in streaming video, so it may not be available still... But, if it is still available, I encourage you to check it out. (If you did see it online, I invite you to share your thoughts by commenting to this post.)

One of the most moving parts of the service for me was hearing the choir sing an anthem entitled "Offertory" by John Ness Beck. It is a beautiful setting of the words of Micah 6:6-8 (the text of Micah 6:8 is the theme of GA this year). This particular anthem has a very special place in my heart, as I sang it when I was a camper at the Jr. Music Camp at Kirkmont (a Presbyterian camp in Ohio). It was a true blessing to me.

I was also truly touched by the communion service. We served each other, passing the bread and the cup down each row. To see the people of God serving one another -- all of us coming from places near and far, representing a wide spectrum of theological standpoints, and even speaking different languages -- was certainly a glimpse of the Kingdom coming to life. It was a time for the Church to truly be church. I purchased one of the chalices that was used in worship today, and I look forward to using it in continued service and witness to what the Church is called to do and to be.

In other news, the committees began meeting tonight. Most of the activity tonight on my committee (Church Orders and Ministry) involved getting to know the members of the committee and approving the docket. Our really official business begins in the morning (and continues for most of the day). If I am able to post anything before tomorrow evening, I will. And, hopefully we will conclude our business tomorrow evening on time so I am able to post something...

I believe that I can speak for all of the commissioners from our presbytery in that we deeply appreciate your prayers -- both for us as commissioners and for the General Assembly as a whole. I believe that the Spirit is alive and at work here, strengthening and challenging the Presbyterian Church as we work together to discern God's call to us in this time!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

We Seem to be Experiencing Some Technical Problems...

Clearly, there are some technical issues with my mobile blogger... arg! I will try to get those last 2 posts fixed this afternoon or evening.

Congrats to the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, the new moderator of the 218th GA!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Day One...

Pc-biz is back up and running... We are a connected church once more! Indeed, we started with some technical related bugs this morning, but we seem to have those fixed. Opening worship was very nice, but I am really looking forward to what worship will be like tomorrow (Sunday). I'm guessing that it will feature more than responsive readings and a few hymns...

The afternoon session is about to start, so I must get back to my seat. If/when there are posts without titles, those have been posted via mobile blogger (using my cell phone). Hopefully the technology gremlins will stay far, far away from my phone!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

My Eyes Are Going to Fall Out...

I've just spent the last 3 hours reading through a handful of the overtures to General Assembly that will be coming before my committee (Church Orders and Ministry)... and I think that my eyes are about to fall out! Seriously. Page after page of "stuff" from this Presbytery and that Presbytery...

The overtures that I've been looking at all have to do with either upholding the recommendations from the PUP Task Force that were approved at the 217th GA in 2006 or doing away with those recommendations. Frankly, the ones that seek to do away with them are laughable -- well, laughable or cry-able, I suppose. Let me list the first 4 of the 5 recommendations for you to see... The Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church recommends that the 217th General Assembly (2006):
  1. strongly encourage (a.) every member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to witness to the church's visible oneness, to avoid division into separate denominations that obscure our community in Christ, and to live in harmony with other members of this denomination, so that we may with one voice together glorify God in Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit; and (b.) all sessions, congregations, presbyteries, and synods to renew and strengthen their covenanted partnership with one another and with the General Assembly.
  2. urge governing bodies, congregations, and other groups of Presbyterians to follow the example of the task force and other groups that, in the face of difficult issues, have engaged in processes of intensive discernment through worship, community building, study, and collaborative work.
  3. commend for study the Theological Reflection that heads the task force report.
  4. direct the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly, and urge those who plan and moderate other governing bodies, to explore the use of alternative forms of discernment and decision-making as a complement to parliamentary procedure, especially in dealing with potentially divisive issues.

I have to say that these all make a good deal of sense to me. I cannot imagine a time when the practice of discernment could be a bad thing. And I think I remember there being several places in scripture where we are called to treat each other -- even our enemies -- with honor and respect. And I certainly am in support of anything which calls us to study our theological understandings of things.

So, I am disappointed, to say the least, when I read overtures from presbyteries that want to do away with these recommendations. Their reasoning tends to be based on the notion that "peace" (aka - no disagreements) has not been made manifest in the last 2 years. People are still disagreeing with one another, so we want to run away from each other? That seems a bit reactive to me...

I'll keep you posted on my other musings as I am able... This is going to be interesting...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

New Links and Blog List

I've changed my Top 5 Links again -- two of them are the same, but I added three new ones that I hope you will enjoy. Check them out and let me know what you think!

Also, I have listed some of the blogs that I like to read. Most of them are written by friends of mine! I hope that you take some time to give them a look. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Blogging On the Go!

I'm blogging on the go with mobile blogger! Yay! Let's hope this works...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Franken-Phone (It's Alive!)

So, my cell phone decided to come to life the other day. Really.

About a month ago, my cell phone started acting all crazy-like whenever I tried to use my bluetooth headset. All of a sudden, it wouldn't connect properly. So, I took it to the Verizon store and they gave me a replacement phone. The new one seemed to work okay. All seemed well.

But last week, my "new" phone started acting of its own free will. It started by hanging up on people while I was still trying to have conversations. These were not your typical "dropped call" situations. It stopped connecting to my bluetooth headset again. The "recent calls" menu would pop up without my even touching the phone.

I started to wonder if I needed to get in touch with a young priest and and old priest...

But this last Tuesday, my cell phone officially stepped out on its own. I was leading a training session on the new Presbyterian Women Bible Study. My cell phone was in my purse. Apparently, it got bored... so it called my dad. It was a flip phone. No way to "pocket dial". My bluetooth headset was in my car. And yet, according to my recent calls menu, I had called my dad a few times in the middle of my training session. I had even answered a few of his calls (since he called me back, wondering why I was calling and then not saying anything when he answered).

Maybe the young priest and old priest would have been a good idea...

Needless to say, I have a completely different phone now. And really, I couldn't be happier. How I survived this long without a phone that has a full keyboard, I'll never know. Plus, this phone doesn't seem to have a life of its own...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Time Keeps Ticking Away...

Well, I had hoped to blog while I was away at the Festival of Homiletics, but the hotel where I was staying thought that it was cool to charge $9.95 per day if you used the Internet access in your room. And as much as I wanted to post updates... I was too tired to drag my behind down to the lobby after a long day of sermons and lectures to use the free WiFi -- not to mention that I didn't feel really safe doing that as a single female at 11:00 at night or later. (Mini-Rant: Seriously! You spend almost $200 per night for the room, and they can't provide free Internet access in their rooms? Really? I get free WiFi every time I go to a Holiday Inn Express, and their rooms are usually less than $100 a night! Note to self: try to find a Holiday Inn Express when I go back to Minneapolis in November...)

Anyway... I doubt that I will be posting any pictures from the Festival, since I just don't think I'm going to have time to do it. If it turns out that I do, then I will... but I don't want to make any promises that I can't keep.

Preparations for going to General Assembly are going full steam. I feel as if I am in a race against time to get all of my reading and studying done before I go!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Buffalo Wild Wings

So, I had a great time at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Urbana (technically, I think it is in Savoy) on May 2nd. My friend Ruth and I, along with my new friend Jon, played trivia (of course). We actually did quite well, too -- first, second, and third place in this round (with yours truly coming in third)! Yes, my nickname on Buzztime Trivia is "Pasta"... It is all thanks to my young friend Grace, who (when she was 2 years old) couldn't quite pronounce "Pastor"... thus I became known as "Pasta Amy". As an Italian, I don't think that the nickname is all that far off, really...

Our server, Sam, was the greatest! He had a bunch of tables of not-so-greatful kids and parents that didn't know how to tip... but he was the best to us! Yay for Sam! I think we tipped him about 50% that night -- and not just to help make up for the jerks at the other tables who were treating him like crap. Alas, Sam is moving to Chicago. I wish him the best of luck. Sam, let me know if you want any contacts in the Windy City, and I'll try to get you hooked up!

So...more about the trivia... If you have never played Buzztime Trivia at a Buffalo Wild Wings, you are missing out! It is serious fun! Plus, if you sign up for a free account, you can earn points that could result in your winning prizes (and not just bragging rights)! I'm officially signed up now, so the points are slowly adding up. My working lunches now tend to involve some theological reading material and trivia... Asian Zing Boneless Wings, fresh celery with ranch or blue cheese dressing, a good book, and a Playmaker... Nice!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


My grandmother passed away last Thursday (May 1st). She had lived a long and full life, and she was blessed to go peacefully. The Monday before she died, my dad was able to visit with her. She was so clearly at peace about it all, that it truly helped us to be more at peace with it, too.

The process of grief has been interesting for me. I mean, I have had to deal with the death of grandparents before -- all of them have now passed -- but, this is the first death of a relative since my becoming a pastor. I deal with funerals and I work with people in grief as a pastor, but it is a very different thing to go through that process myself. It has not been easy to put my role of "pastor" aside and simply be.

To all who have expressed their sympathy to me and my family, I thank you. Your words of comfort have been true blessings to me during this time.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Flood of Posts is Coming Soon...

So, I have been doing a lot of blogging lately... but (unfortunately for you), the posts have all only made it as far as my paper journal. With the death of my grandmother and some odd scheduling these last few days, I just have not been able to get online like I usually can. I have a busy day planned for Thursday, and I need to write a sermon for Sunday... but I will be posting (if all goes well)!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Practicing Our Faith

So I started leading a new book study at church this week. We are studying the book, Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People, edited by Dorothy C. Bass. The book explores 12 different Christian practices - "shared activities that address fundamental human needs and that, woven together, form a way of life."

The group that met today talked a bit about things that people yearn for today. That is, what are we all out there hoping and wishing to find? The first thing that was mentioned today was "belonging" -- we all want to feel like we belong (and maybe even fit in). Another person mentioned "rest". (How sad that we have bought into the culture's belief that we can't rest until we retire!) There was also some talk about play -- not a practice that is explored in the book, but definitely something that we all need to practice!

I'll be posting things from time to time about the book study. If you aren't a member of the church -- or you just aren't able to come to the study -- I invite you to join us all here!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Drumming on the Side of the Road

So, I saw something the other day that was quite possibly the most random and bazaar thing that I have ever seen in my life while driving. As I was driving along, I noticed a car that had pulled over and parked on the right side of the highway. Then I noticed that the driver was no longer sitting in his car. No... he had gotten out of the car. He had crossed the ditch on the side of the road, and he was now in the midst of the weeds and tall grass... where he had set up a full drum set - snare, bass, crash cymbals, and the whole nine yards! Indeed, there he was (wearing only his boxer shorts) banging on the drums as loud as he could - all on the side of the highway! I don't know if it was some strange form of protest or what, but it was - by far - one of the strangest things that I have ever seen in my life so far!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Amazing Grace

A friend sent this to me, and I had to share. A powerful voice, a powerful song... and a powerful message of hope and reconciliation.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

Well... it is official: I am now a delegate representing the Presbytery of Great Rivers at this year's General Assembly! (I'll sign autographs later...er...something...) So, I get to fly out to San Jose, CA this summer. Groovy!

This is an amazing honor, and I am both excited and nervous about it. To be sure, I will be blogging during that week (June 21-28). It should be an interesting GA, as there are a lot of issues that will be coming to the floor -- some old, some new... never a dull moment! Of course, I am a little bit bummed that I won't be able to do any lobbying for some of the things that I am passionate about, but I will certainly be supporting those folks while I am there! Perhaps I will just lobby for my blog... hmm....

Monday, April 7, 2008

And the Favorite M&M Color is....

You voted, and the results were... well... a mixed bag. The only really clear result was that no one seems to like brown. Apparently Matthew McConaughey's character from The Wedding Planner is not reading my blog.

Another random poll will be coming soon!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Prayer for the Day

Dear God, you are the creator of all things.
You create things that I understand.
You create things that I hope to one day understand.
And you create things that completely baffle me.
I pray that you help me to celebrate your creation
whether I understand it or not.
Strengthen me to see what I need to see,
hear what I need to hear,
and understand what I need to understand.
Encourage me and those around me
by the power and grace of your Spirit
so that we may be reflections
of your grace, love, hope, and peace
to all of your creation.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Star Wars Geek-a-tude Knows No Age...

This is quite possibly the "cutest" explaination of Star Wars: Episode IV that I have ever seen...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Wonder If They'd Do Liturgical Dance...?

Have you seen these guys? I am just amazed by their talent!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Big Butter Jesus

Ok... so I'm sure that some of you out there are not going to like this... but I think that even Jesus himself would think this is funny stuff. I used to drive past the "Big Butter Jesus" whenever I went home when I was in seminary. I called him the "Touchdown Jesus" then, but this song... well... it has a special place in my heart! "For everything there is a season... a time to weep, and a time to laugh..."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Holy Week, Batman!

Due to my schedule during this Holy Week, I have not been blogging. Sorry, friends! I hope to be posting some new things soon.

In the meantime, be sure to pop some virtual bubble wrap... What a great way to de-stress! (Thanks for sharing this one, Josh!)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Congrats, Sue!

Congratulations, Sue!
You wrote the winning caption for this photo from the NYMC!
I will be sending you details about your prize soon...

There once were three piggies of York
Who said "God said don't eat pork"
The man reminded them
That Jesus commanded them
To follow the New Commandment, you dork

So the piggies hung their head in shame
They feared their destiny was lame
However the man
Was a vegetarian
And they praised the Lord, even the dame

Friday, March 14, 2008

Notes From This Week

This was a rather interesting week. I started things off by preaching on Sunday. I found myself identifying with the prophet, Ezekiel, far more than I ever thought I would. There is so much more to the "dry bones" story than we usually give it credit for having.

Monday, I drove to Urbana so that my friend Ruth and I could drive to Indianapolis to attend a funeral. There is nothing in this world more heartbreaking than seeing a mother and father have to bury a child. The mother in this case was a colleague of ours, and we had all gathered to remember her 24 year old son. Only 24 years young and taken by cancer... I believe that God was weeping right alongside of Charlie's family and friends.

On our way home, Ruth and I stopped at a Chili's restaurant. Our server, Rysta, was awesome! She got bonus points for growing up in Ohio, but the real deal was her super attitude and great service. Rysta, I hope you check this out -- you really helped us have a happy night on a day that was otherwise melancholy. We closed down the place, and then got back on the road to Urbana. I should mention that Ruth and I share a weakness for what I like to call "shopping therapy". I think we left a few CDs at the Best Buy... (I'll be reviewing a few of my new music pics soon.)

When I got back to the office on Wednesday and Thursday, there were meetings, meetings, and more meetings! Just one of those weeks, I guess. But... the best thing... I actually had a day off on Friday! Nice!

And the Contest Winner Is....

There were 5 brave (and creative) souls who entered the Caption Contest! Great job, y'all! The contest winner will be announced this weekend, so be sure to check back to see who won!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Porter Ellett for President!

It is practically impossible to watch television or listen to the radio without hearing a political ad or hearing somebody telling you who you should vote for and why. And I'm sure that there are lots of good reasons to vote for each of the candidates that are out there trying to win our support. They all tell us about how they have overcome adversity. They talk about how they have faced challenges head-on. They try to come across as people who have really inspired others.

Yeah... I think I want to vote for this guy -- a high school student named Porter Ellett.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Don't Forget to Enter the Contest!!!

Two brave souls have entered the Caption Contest in the hopes of winning a FREE copy of Life Hurts God Heals. And while I'm sure that those two gals would like to keep the number of entries low to increase their chances of winning... I want to hear from ALL of you out there! Maybe you are intimidated by the limerick-writing skills that have been demonstrated so far...? Perhaps you are reading this and thinking that you would rather write a haiku or perform and interpretive dance...? (Seriously, if I get a video of anyone doing an interpretive dance as your caption to the picture... yeah.... wow!)

The whole point of the contest -- be creative, and you could win! Just click on the links in this post, check out the picture, write a caption (um... or dance it, or something), and post it as a comment! The contest will be ending this week, so don't wait -- you don't want to miss it!

Um... Yeah...

I know I've been sharing a lot of videos, but this one was too fun to pass up. Besides, I do love kung fu...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Overnighter Video

This was one of my favorite things at the NYMC was the premier of "Overnighter". Seriously, Jake - the guy singing/rapping in the video - is some kind of creative genius! To all of you who have ever been roped into working a Lock-In... this video is for you!

The Limericks are Rolling In...

So far, there seem to be a few creative folks out there who are trying out the contest! Yay! Who knew I had such poetic friends in the blogosphere? :-)

Keep those Caption Contest entries coming, y'all!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Global Soles Project

Josh posted this today, and I had to share. Maybe there is a way that our youth (or the entire church, for that matter) could do this or something like it. It really makes you think...

The Contest Begins!

Ok... so here's what's cookin' with the contest...
It is a Caption Contest!
Here's a picture from the National Youth Ministry Conference.
Your challenge: come up with the most creative caption to go with the photo.
(Bonus points will be awarded to captions written in the form of a limerick.)

The contest will run until Thursday, March 13th.
Good Luck Everybody!!!

The Contest Is Coming!!! The Contest Is Coming!!!

I will be launching a contest tonight, so I thought that I would tell you a little bit about what it is that you can win. (That's right -- there's a prize!)
Josh has given me the opportunity to giveaway a digital copy of Life Hurts God Heals. It is one of the many resources for youth ministry put out by Group. Here's what they have to say about Life Hurts God Heals on their website:

"Right now, there are students in your youth ministry who are desperately hurting from the pain of a broken home, struggles with depression, abusive relationships, and more. Life Hurts God Heals is a completely comprehensive resource you can use to launch and run a ministry specifically to bring healing to these students. It includes all the curriculum you will need for leaders and participants, as well as all the behind the scenes stuff to help with everything from recognizing danger signs in teens to how to get this program up and running in your church."

Sounds interesting, doesn't it? I sure think so. Too bad for me, I can't win my own contest! But... that means that it is lucky for YOU!

Check back tonight... the contest is coming!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Busy Week

It turned out to be quite the busy week once I got back from the conference... so I haven't been blogging like I had hoped.
This week (hopefully) will be better! I will be posting the contest where you could win a free item from Group Publishing. I'm planning to post some extra pictures from the NYMC. And I'll hopefully be able to post some video of the performance of "You Give Love A Bad Name" that was so skillfully performed at the conference, too!
God bless, y'all!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

National Youth Ministry Conference - Day Four / Wrap-up

The NYMC drew to a close on Monday. What a weekend! I have to admit that my brain was officially stuffed with information and ideas over the course of the last several days, but it has all been worth it. The highlight of the day for me was lunch. Yes, lunch. We didn't even have lunch at the convention center or the hotel. My friend Ruth and I had lunch at a Cracker Barrel restaurant just outside of Cincinnati off of I-74 W. Not only was our service wonderful (if you are ever at that restaurant, ask to be seated in Stephanie's section), but the company turned out to be pretty cool, too.

As we were sitting there munching on hashbrown casserole and country ham, three guys and a seahorse were seated at the table behind us. Yes, you read that correctly... three men and a seahorse. And, as it turns out, they had been at the NYMC, too! We didn't recognize them at first without their yellow name tags... I think it was when I heard one of them tell their server that "We're actually a lot older than we act," that I realized that they were probably youth workers...

Alan, David, Tim, and Nessie came to the NYMC from Wisconsin. (In case you're wondering, Nessie is the adorable seahorse.) These guys were super fun! So to my new Wisconsinite friends, God bless you and your ministries!

Ruth and I made it back to Urbana, IL, but I had to stay over an extra night instead of coming back to my home. Snow and ice is nice to look at, but it isn't such a joy to drive in (especially at night). So, we met up with John and Joan for some shopping and dinner at the Olive Garden. We had the BEST server: Laurie! You know you rocked, Laurie!

And now, the Top Five for Day Four (a Wrap-Up of the NYMC):

  1. Seriously, I will never forget hearing (and seeing) Tony Dungy on the first night of the conference! It was an amazing message from and amazing man of faith.
  2. I loved all of the videos -- the announcements, the road trip with Couch, Overnighter... they all ROCKED! Great job, y'all!
  3. Mark DeVries and his crew were fantastic! I learned a ton! Now, if I can just keep managing my monkeys...
  4. I must give some e-props to all of my Presbyterian friends that I met at the conference. God bless each and every one of you for all of your work in your churches. Jenna, if you read this, please be sure to send me some pics of your purses and jewelry - and I'll be seeing you this summer at GA! Remember, don't ever let anyone tell you that you are too young... (I think there's a scripture about that someplace...)
  5. Finally, I must give thanks to the behind the scenes folks that made the conference possible. God bless the people running the sound boards and all of the AV equipment!

Blogging with Josh -- A Story in Pictures and a Few Words

On Sunday night, I went to a late night session led by Josh Griffin to learn about blogging. It was scheduled to begin at 10:00 PM.
By 10:18 PM, we were all wondering where Josh was. We were all hoping that he was off getting us all a ton of free stuff... Some of us decided that we would just start the session without Josh. Here's what happens when you give youth leaders a podium and a working mic...
We shared a lot of great ideas about blogging and podcasts. We invited those with blogs to share their web addresses on the board we labeled: Got Blog?
And then Josh showed up! Hooray! And he brought some free stuff, too! Double hooray! And all of the free stuff went to people who had showed up after we had texted Josh suggesting that he bring free stuff... Yay for those who won free stuff!
It was really cool to meet Josh - a fellow Star Wars geek and goofball extraordinaire! I'm sure that my blog will never be the same! God bless you, brother!

Monday, February 25, 2008

My Friend Kurt and His Adventure with Rocky Vance

Demonstrating that the resourcefulness of a good youth worker knows no bounds, my new friend Kurt went dumpster diving at the NYMC.

The wacky Presbys from Mark DeVries' learning track decided we would all go to lunch together on Sunday. We got together and agreed that we would see if the Chinese restaurant was open across the street, so we all started walking down the halls of the convention center to make our way to the Skywalk. Kurt was walking just ahead of me, so I saw him when he did this. While waking past one of the trash barrels, Kurt - in one fluid movement - reached in and pulled out a yardstick! "It's a perfectly good yardstick," he said in his defence. The Chinese restaurant was closed; so we went to Champs. The yardstick came along. No, it didn't have its own chair.

After we ordered, Kurt noticed that there was a name on the yardstick: Rocky Vance. And there was also a phone number -- Rocky Vance's phone number.

So Kurt decided to call Mr. Rocky Vance. Rocky didn't answer, so Kurt left a voicemail that went something like this:

"Rocky...hey! This is Kurt. I found something of yours at the convention center, and I think it is pretty important. I'd like to get it back to you today if I can. It looks pretty important. You can reach me at XXX-XXX-XXXX. I'm betting that you really need to get this back. It appears to be a yardstick. It is approximately 36 inches long and made out of wood. There's some lines and numbers on it too. Give me a call, Rocky. Hope I can get this back to you. Bye."

About 30 minutes later, as we were eating our lunch, Rocky called back. I'm not sure if he knew quite what to do with Kurt. Rocky explained that he was at the Car Show that was meeting on the first floor of the convention center and that he was giving the yardsticks away.

Kurt: "So, do you want to meet someplace in the convention center so I can return your yardstick to you?"

Rocky Vance: "Naw, man. It's free! You can keep it!"

Kurt: "Really? Wow, Rocky, that's really nice of you, man! Thanks!"

I thought we were all going to die laughing!

Unfortunately, the yardstick did not survive the whole day... but none of us will forget Kurt and his adventure with Rocky Vance.

National Youth Ministry Conference - Day Three

Day Three of the NYMC, and my brain is getting full. Seriously, if my brain wore a belt, I would be loosening it like it was Turkey Day... But, it has all been worth it!
The Deeper Learning Track that I've been in with Mark DeVries continued to rock my socks off! I'm super excited to be taking this info back to my Christian Education committee so we can get to work. Anyway... at the start of Session #3, Mark challenged some folks to build the highest tower they could with cardboard bricks. The results were hilarious! Some were more creative than others, but none of the towers lasted very long. I got a shot of this one right before all the bricks came crashing down... One of the things that we observed was that there had never been any rules about not working together. How sad but true that is of ministry... if we would only get over ourselves and work together more, just imagine what we could do!

Greg Stier was fantastic at the evening group session! Really... if you weren't there... get the MP3 of that session! I'll post a link on how to get recordings of the various sessions in a later post...

There are a few other things about Day Three that I must share with y'all, but I will give them each their own post...

Here's the Top Five for Day Three:

  1. Those of us in Mark DeVries' learning track tried to engage the rooms next to us in a round of "We've got Spirit, yes we do! We've got Spirit, how 'bout you?". Alas... there were no responses. We figure that all they could here us saying was "wkosidnrj wowiefn wowkndrnf! solwefnseinlfwehfiwk pdeneewliyejhf ijhhfhwuef?" (We weren't exactly "together" on the cheer..)

  2. I did a study on Sabbath when I was in seminary, so it was refreshing to hear Mark DeVries say this regarding taking a day off each week: "If your church is suggesting that you break one of the ten commandments, then it probably isn't a good idea to work there."

  3. "My name is Tim, and I'm a porcupine farmer." Thank you, 321 Improv!

  4. Greg Stier said this about youth: "Why are they deaf to us? Because we are deaf to them!" Wow... let's all chew on that for a while...

  5. The announcement video... yeah... that was great! Check it out at Josh's blog.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

National Youth Ministry Conference - Day Two

What a day! Lots of great workshops, speakers, skits, and music... it was definitely a busy and meaningful day!

The "Deeper Learning Track" that I am attending is being led by Mark DeVries. To put it simply...WOW! I am anxiously looking forward to continuing to learn on Sunday. I realized that I had definitely picked the right workshop when Mark quoted Rabbi Ed Friedman -- a hero to those of us who subscribe to systems thinking. If you are not familiar with Ed Friedman... check him out! I especially loved the analogy that Mark used: If a dancer, while dancing, falls through the floor because the floor boards are rotted and broken, the answer to the problem is not to replace the dancer... you need to replace the floor!

At the evening session, we were treated to one of the best performances of You Give Love A Bad Name. The vocalists were serious rock stars!

Doug Fields was awesome! We made our own "cloud of witnesses" by writing our names, our faith blockers, and the simple prayer of "by faith" on paper, crumpling them up and then tossing them into the air at the same time. Drew... wherever you are... I'm praying for you! Praise the God who amazes us by working with, in, and through us - even in our weaknesses.

And now... The Top 5 for Day Two:

  1. The folks in Deeper Learning Track #11 learned that Mark DeVries had this advice for a youth leader wondering how to get more students to events: "Naked Jello wrestling is always a good idea." (Josh...I know that this isn't a picture, but...!)

  2. The Overnighter video by Leonard T.... FANTASTIC! You can check it out at Josh's blog, MoreThanDodgeball.com. I think Leonard has been to a few of my Lock-Ins...

  3. Hooray for the Skit Guys! They thanked us for what we do to serve youth. We thank them for sharing their gifts with all of us.

  4. We learned from Doug Fields that "God invented Red Bull." Scripture tells us that God never sleeps or slumbers... now we know how God does it!

  5. My friend Ruth and I met Jason, who I would officially like to name as the King of the Gift With Purchase! Jason... you know who you are... You Rock!

As a bonus... we discovered that there are actually a pretty good number of Presbyterians at the conference! Yay Presbys!!! Those Presbys who are attending Mark's class stopped for a picture on Saturday afternoon, and that night there was a group that met at the Elm Street Bistro for more fun and frivolity. Remember the words of 1 Timothy 5:23. Our stomachs and our souls felt better after our evening out... although I'm pretty sure it was the company and not what we may have had to drink!

A big thanks to Ruth, Jeff, Kurt, Al (the Prophet), Theresa, Marilyn, Shannon, and Jonathan for making my evening unforgettable! (Thanks for taking the bistro photo, Marilyn!)

I'm probably not going to get my Day Three and Day Four posts up until Wednesday, since I'll be up late on Sunday (learning more about blogging from Josh), driving back to Illinois all day on Monday, and chillin' at a Presbytery meeting all day on Tuesday. So... keep checking back for updates!

Oh -- and there will be a contest coming your way soon (with a groovy prize and everything)! Details will be out this week...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

National Youth Ministry Conference - Day One

Well... Here I am at the National Youth Ministry Conference in beautiful (and somewhat icy) Cincinnati, Ohio! The weather outside may be a bit frightful, but the conference is warm and delightful! It is pretty cool to have so many people dedicated to youth ministry gathered all in one place.

The opening session last night was really nicely done. Josh Griffin opened things up with some giveaways and wacky antics - but really, would we expect anything less from Josh? I'm praying that they give away more of the Sack Chairs, and that I defy the odds and actually catch the hacky-sack that they toss into the crowd! Those things ROCK! Be sure to check their website, y'all!

The entire evening was really cool, but the highlight had to be hearing from Tony Dungy! What an amazing, Spirit-filled man! If you have never thought of ministry as a kind of coaching... well... it is never too late to start! Key points: 1) Learn your craft; 2) Make connections by being yourself and keeping it personal; and 3) Be sure to recharge your battery (Sabbath keeping, anyone?). In case you ever read my blog, Tony... Thanks for an awesome message of hope and encouragement!

Here's my Top 5 from Day One:

  1. We all learned that Rick Lawrence has a picture of Doug Fields in a Speedo... and we all died a little inside when we saw it...
  2. Thom and Joani Schultz almost shared a passionate kiss in front of us all... but the voters decided that they wanted to hear them answer awkward questions instead (46% to 48%! I was expecting a landslide for the awkward question!). No questions about burping in worship or anything...but perhaps another time...
  3. Tim Timmons led us in a rockin' version of My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less (On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand)... Fantabulous!
  4. We watched a piece on The Couch's trip to the conference... I want to officially invite The Couch to my next pool party!
  5. Tony Dungy, Tony Dungy, Tony Dungy!!!

Oh... and the best T-shirt award goes to this guy:

Keep checking back for more updates and pictures!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Long Time, No Blogging...

It has been a while since my last post. Between my vacation and our Session retreat, I've been a tad busy. I have a lot to blog about, so don't be surprised if I have more than one post today...
I went home (back to Ohio) at the beginning of the month. Not exactly the most exotic place to go on vacation, but I can't beat the cost of lodging! Thanks, Mom and Dad! In case you watch the Weather Channel as religiously as my dad, you'll recall that there was some serious rain that went through the Northwest Ohio area at the start of the month. I hadn't banked on going home to a flood, but that's what I got! Thankfully, the fam didn't get the water in the basement like we did this summer.

Besides the flooding, I celebrated a birthday over my vacation! I swear I woke up on my birthday and saw about 100 more gray hairs on my head! I have been going gray since seminary. And at the rate that the gray is coming in, I will have salt and pepper hair well before I turn 40! At least it helps me look a little bit older (although I rarely actually act my age...if I can help it). Anyway... my folks got me a cake (made by our friend and neighbor, Becky). Doesn't it just make your mouth water? YUM!!! I vaguely remember lapsing into a sugar coma sometime that evening... Mmmm... sugar coma.... John took me out for dinner and a movie, too. I had a great time! Overall... it was one of my best birthdays.

Monday, January 28, 2008

New Look... Same Blog

I'm trying out a new look for my blog. The all blue thing was kinda drab (although it did remind me of my favorite jeans). Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lock-In Madness!!!

The Youth had a Lock-In this weekend. Since it was a holiday weekend, we held the Lock-In at the church from Sunday night to Monday morning (since they didn't have school). If you have church Lock-Ins and are looking for a good time to host them, let me tell you that they work really well on holiday weekends -- there aren't as many sporting conflicts, and typically more adults can volunteer.

Anywho... it was quite the weekend! At the Lock-In that we had in the fall, about 16 kids were here. Not bad... This time, the word must have gotten out that we host a really great Lock-In, because we had 28 kids! That's right... 28! They just kept on coming! It was awesome! (It was also made a few of the volunteers nervous to be that outnumbered... but we all survived!)

The big hit at the Lock-In: video games. Specifically, the musical video games of Sing Star, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band. Not only are the kids hooked, but I'm pretty sure that I'm hooked, too. Seriously -- Guitar Hero is addictive! Perhaps it helps that the music that's featured in Guitar Hero is the music that I grew up enjoying. (Yes... I'm a pastor. And yes, I used to listen to groups like Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath. In fact, I still do. I'll take listening to Black Sabbath over practically any country music group anytime!)

If you have not tried your hand (or voice, in the case of Sing Star) at one of these games, I highly recommend that you do! It is crazy fun, and it is a great way to connect with youth!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Movin' On Up...

So, the Interim Head-of-Staff pastor decided that he didn't need to have the monster-sized desk that was in his office. Instead, he wanted to have a much smaller desk. Lucky for him, the desk that I have been using for the past 2 1/2 years was the perfect size! I've barely had room to put a few books on my desk, but apparently, he doesn't need that much space.

So not the monster-sized desk is mine. Seriously - it is HUGE! We traded desks last week, and now I have a TON more space to spread out all of my crap -- I mean, all of my "highly important ministerial accouterments". But, as it tends to happen with any kind of move, this has suddenly become the time to sort through and clean out my collection of highly important ministerial accouterments.

Seriously... it is like an archaeological dig in my office right now! There are papers in my file cabinet that I have never looked at, never needed, and frankly...I don't think I even knew they existed. Much of what I am finding that has taken up so much space is crud that was left here by the DCE that had this office before they called an Associate Pastor.

I have a feeling that the "round file" is going to be full before the end of the day...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Holy Ghost...?

So... the 4 year old daughter of one of my parishioners said the following as her family was driving to church a few weeks ago:

"I don't believe in the Holy Ghost. I don't believe there are ghosts. [slight pause] I believe in Santa."

God bless the world's youngest theologian!