Saturday, April 30, 2011

Four fours

Four 4's about me:

Four movies I would recommend

  1. The King's Speech
  2. Star Trek (particularly the newest one)
  3. Harry Potter (all of them, but the Sorcerer's Stone comes to mind)
  4. Sound of Music (one of my all time favorites).
Four of my favorite hymns/songs

  1. Be Thou My Vision
  2. Amazing Grace
  3. Sanctuary
  4. Lord, you have come to the Lakeshore
Four places I would love to visit

  1. Scotland
  2. Eastern shore of Canada
  3. Grand Canyon
  4. Ireland
Four foods I would love to cook well, but can't

  1. Homemade biscuits
  2. fresh vegetables, like zucchini, squash, broccoli
  3. Fried chicken that doesn't lose its coating
  4. pie crust


Friday, April 29, 2011

Wedding Friday Five

Friday Five questions for the day of "the" Royal Wedding:

  1. Will you be watching? If so, is this your first royal wedding?  I did watch parts of the wedding, and no, it is not my first royal wedding.  I remember Charles and Diana's wedding and Andrew and Sarah's wedding.
  2. The bride has chosen as her wedding cake a fruitcake. Where do you stand on this pastry?  Yuk.
  3. The dress code for royal weddings has not seen the same sad decline as that for most other weddings. If you could design your own royal wedding hat, what color would it be and what special decoration would it feature?   I'm not sure, but it would not look like Beatrice's hat!  It would not be perched on my forehead.  It would match my dress.  I love hats and wish we wore more of them.
  4. Any chance the Archbishop of Canterbury is using a Sustainable Sermon (tip of the mitre to the Vicar of Hogsmeade)? What would you tell the couple were you offering the homily? What is a sustainable sermon? Does that mean a recycled sermon? I imagine there was much work done on the sermon. I love how he shared a prayer the couple had written.
  5. Believe it or not, kathrynzj is getting up early mostly to see the wedding dress. By the time this post is up, the world will have seen it. Did you like it?Loved, loved, loved the dress. Elegant and beautiful.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jazz Band

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Inspired by Deuteronomy 6

Moses stood on a mountain
and looked across the people
God had entrusted him to shepherd.
He saw the land they had been promised,
and knew he could not go
where they were going.

He desperately hoped their future was bright,
and yet he knew,
because he knew them,
the mistakes they would make.
He yearned to give them words of warning
that they would hear.
He prayed for their open hearts
as he spoke to them from the mountain.

I have told you, so many times
what the Lord commands.
Hear me.  Listen to me.
Know that what I say comes from your God.
He has charged me to teach you,
and I have frantically tried to obey.

Today I let you go.
Today, you go where God has promised,
and you will no longer have me.
I dream that you, and your children
and all of the generations to follow
will know God.
Will obey God.
Will experience his blessings
and know a fruitful, full life.

Hear, O Israel.
The Lord is your God.
Love him.
Love him with everything you have.
Everything you are.
Love him with all of your thoughts and actions.
Love him with your very being and all of your doing.
Love the Lord you God.

Keep these words in your heart.
Teach them to your children.
Write them on your hands.
Paint them on your walls.
Etch them into the mountains.
Cover your homes with these words.

When you enter this new land,
and you find so many blessings,
gifts from the Lord,
Remember that they are from the Lord.
Remember that your homes, your food,
your cisterns, the water you drink,
the sun that heats your shoulders
and the very land upon which you stand
is a gift.
Do not forget to thank God for it.
Remember your God.
Do not forget what he has done for you.

Remember your slavery in Egypt.
Remember the manna and the fire.
Remember the parted water
and the salvation.
Do not forget your Lord.

Do not repeat the same mistakes.
Learn from your past.
Live a life of obedience to your God.
Heed the words I have spoken,
for I have spoken the words of God.
Do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.

Teach your children.
Tell them of the pain and suffering in Egypt,
and the rescue of our God.
Tell them the stories of the Pharaoh,
Teach them about the locusts and the blood,
about the death of the first born.
Do not let them grow up without the knowledge of God.

Live in obedience to God.
Love the Lord with all that you are.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Jack spoke about doubt last week in his sermon.  One of this week's lectionary readings is John 20:19-31 -- Thomas and his doubts.

I was reading RevGalBlogPals this evening -- Tuesday's lectionary leanings.  The author of the post mentions the word incredulity.  She said that it can imply an unwillingness to believe or an inability to believe.  I thought that was an interesting comparison.  Why do we doubt?  What motivates our disbelief?

  • Does it sometimes seem impossible to believe in a risen Christ?  Is there an inability to believe?
  • Do we refuse to really believe because we don't want to?  We don't want to accept the consequences of belief?
  • Do we sometimes not believe because another possibility is easier to believe?
  • Do we refuse to believe because to believe would be to lose control?
  • Do we fail to believe because belief would make us unpopular?  Ridiculed?  
  • Do we say we believe and yet we don't?
  • Do we pick and choose what we believe?
Why do we not believe? 

PS -- You can tell how tired I was yesterday.  I entitled the post Random Tuesday.  It was Monday.

Labels: ,

Monday, April 25, 2011

Random Tuesday

I've had this window open for about an hour.  Perhaps the best I can do for today is a list of random thoughts:

  1. I read a devotional today by Henri Nouwen.  He suggests that we will carry the caring touch of those who have loved us through our death to eternal life.  Jesus carried the scars of the crucifixion with him at least prior to Ascension -- perhaps the touch of grace is eternal.
  2. I had a meeting this evening that felt awkward.  I have to lead another one of them in June, and I'm not sure how to make it more productive.
  3. I'm tired, and I have a very long list of things to do.
  4. We had a prayer vigil this past weekend at church. I'm always grateful when people tell me they didn't know they could pray for an hour, and when they do, it goes by so fast they are surprised the hour has passed.  Why do I only do that at Easter.
  5. Our dog probably sleeps 22 hours a day.
  6. Our son brought home his cap and grown this evening.  How did the time come for him to graduate?
  7. Our younger son won a band challenge today, and kept his 2nd place chair.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Layers of Interpretation

I love Bible study. I love to know more about why a piece of scripture was written, how it fits into its context, how the culture in which was written speaks to the writing, how the original language can allow for differences in translation. I love to take a look at literary devices in scripture, at the references authors make to previous passages, and how the earliest references can change our interpretation from what we had using later references.
I love to sit in a group and explore a passage, to consider how others view the same passage.

I love Bible study and how it can enrich a passage so that the original meaning shines forth.

Given all of that, I also realize that the way God speaks to me today through the passage may be very different from the way the original author intended. What God can do through the Bible in my life might never have been dreamt of by the original author.

The scripture is alive with power of God.


Saturday, April 23, 2011


Have you ever heard of Anglican Prayer Beads?  Have I mentioned them before?

I don't remember when I first heard about this tool for prayer -- maybe on someone else's blog.  I've made several sets (one of them pictured to the left), and I've been given a purchased one as a gift.  I've bought two sets and given them as gifts.

The pattern of the beads is a cross, a bead right above it, four larger beads in a circle with seven medium beads between each of the four larger ones.  The smallest beads sit between the medium beads as spacers.  I have found the number of those smallest beads to be dependent on the size of the circle you want -- bigger circle, more smaller beads. 

I had a set with me on the last Emmaus Walk I was a part of  (I probably always take a set with me for a Walk).  I had it on my wrist -- looked like a bracelet -- but someone saw me fiddling with it and asked if it was a rosary.

It's not a rosary at all.  The only two things that make it similar to an official rosary is that it has beads and is used for prayer.

I find it to be a helpful tool in prayer.  I have a specific prayer I use with it, but I chose it (unlike a rosary, which has a specific pattern of prayer).  It is a great centering devise, and repeating that prayer calms my mind and quiets my time with God.  It is kind of my "Be Still" tool.

We had a 40-hour Prayer Vigil at church this weekend, and I took a set of beads with me.  I found a new use for them today.  As I sat there, I realized I had four areas of my life I wanted to lift in prayer -- Family/Friends, Church, Emmaus and Work.  Four areas of my life, four sections of beads.  I just started praying and each medium bead became a specific prayer within that area.  I didn't know what it would be until I got to it -- I wonder if God used it as a way to point me to areas of concern. 

I don't know, but it's a tool I like.  I've actually lost the set in the picture above -- I've probably lost three sets all together.  I have a set at work and one here at home.  Maybe its time to buy some new beads and make another set.


Friday, April 22, 2011


Myrtle Beach sunrise, April 2011


Thursday, April 21, 2011


Still reading Genesis. 

Genesis 22 is the passage in which God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.  I am struck by two conflicting responses:
  1. It is abhorrent to me that God would command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and I believe my reaction is because God has created such a reaction in me.  To kill a child as an act of worship is unthinkable, and I believe I have been taught so by God.  So I am confused by his command to Abraham to do so.  Was it a test, and God knew all along that he didn't mean for Abraham to go through with it?  If so, it seems manipulative -- an in such as way that God would not condone.  So I have lots of unanswered questions.
  2. In also seems to parallel in many ways God's sacrifice of his own son.  He (Isaac and Jesus) arrive on a  donkey, carry the implement of the sacrifice (wood and cross); and both would have been offered for sacrifice by their father.  The difference is that God allows for Jesus to be the sacrifice but not Isaac.
It is a puzzling passage.

    Labels: , ,

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    A Family in Transition

    This morning I read Genesis 24.  This is the story of Abraham sending his servant to his homeland to find a wife for Isaac.

    Abraham does not want Isaac to marry a Canaanite from the land in which they are living and he does not want Isaac to go back to the land from which they came.  No place is really home.  They are a family in transition, truly living out the idea that God has not finished.

    They wait in faith for God's promise to be fulfilled.  They know, through their faith, that God has promised them a home in the future, and has instructed them to come to the land to which he led them.  So, Abraham and his family wait.

    Labels: , ,

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Easter Favorites

    I was looking through RevGalBlogPals for an interesting Friday Five to use for a post today, and didn't come up with anything that interested me, so here is my own list of five:

    Five things I like about Easter:
    1. The end of whatever I gave up for Lent -- this year on Easter, I'll be celebrating by drinking a Diet Pepsi.
    2. Chocolate -- I rememeber Chocolate bunnies as a kid.  I don't get buy those anymore because our kids don't eat them (what!?), but I still think of chocolate with Easter.
    3. Hymns -- Singing Easter hymns with the Sanctuary full of people, lots of brass, and the air of celebraton.
    4. Hats -- I don't wear an Easter hat, but I wish I did.  I like hats.
    5. Hyacinth -- Tulips -- Daffodils


    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Lean on the Lord

    We say, “I could never do that; I don't know how, I would be too nervous, I would not do a good job, I am not gifted to do that.”

    Paul says, “Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

    Several years ago, I would decline when asked to pray in public.I would pray, but I wanted time to prepare.I wanted to know what I was going to say before I actually said it – and there is nothing at all wrong with praying that way.In fact, when prayers are prepared ahead of time, they can be beautiful and poetic, and they reflect time spent with God.

    God has moved me from the comfortable place where I was to somewhere else.What I do now – both at church and at work – requires that I pray in public with no notice and no preparation.I fought it at first, but I finally came to realize that if God has brought me here, he will equip me.So I stepped out of the boat, and just prayed.Now I find joy in it.

    God did that, not me.

    We say, “I could never do that; I don't know how, I would be too nervous, I would not do a good job, I am not gifted to do that.”

    Isaiah says, Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother's womb he named me.”(Isaiah 49:1)

    He called you before you were born.He knows every inch of you and every dark corner of me.He knows your strengths, my weaknesses; he certainly knows the gifts he has given to us.He loves us, in spite of it all; because of it all.And, knowing all of that, he calls us.

    A few months ago, I asked someone to be lector.The person said no (which is fine!).A few minutes later, the person came back to me, and told me yes.God was calling, and this person listened, and said yes, even though it was out of the normal comfort zone.When the time came to answer the call, she was perfectly equipped and did a wonderful job.

    God does that, not us, and we can trust him to be faithful.

    The Psalmist says, “For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you.” (Psalm 71:5-6)

    We say, “Send me,” and we lean on the Lord with faith and trust.

    (Submitted as a devotional for our JM Devotional Ministry)


    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Why a donkey?

    Both the sermon today and our Sunday school lesson mentioned Jesus riding on a donkey into Jerusalem. 

    One of the points of the sermon was that Jesus rode a donkey as an act of humility.  In Sunday school we talked about how Jesus riding the donkey was a fulfillment of prophecy in Zechariah.

    I would like to explore the idea more than this.  I just wonder if the humility idea is our own impressions of what it means to ride on a donkey.  Did the people in Jerusalem during that time see it as an act of humility?

    One reference I found this evening said that the donkey was an animal of peace; by riding a donkey Jesus was saying that he came in peace.  A horse is an animal of war.

    In 1 Kings 1, when King David is close to death and is naming his successor, he tells a priest and Nathan the prophet, to find Solomon and to have him ride David's mule into the city.  Solomon is then anointed as king.  So, could riding the donkey in Jerusalem have something to do with his connection to King David?  Ascension to the throne of David?

    Abraham and Isaac rode on a donkey close to the location where Abraham had been instructed to sacrifice Issac.  Could there be a link to that event?  To the sacrifice of a son?

    Moses' placed his wife and children on a donkey.  A judge had 30 of his sons ride 30 donkeys.  Is it just that donkeys are popular means of transportation?

    I would like to more about the donkey (above and beyond our normal assumptions).


    Saturday, April 16, 2011



    Friday, April 15, 2011

    What can we learn?

    The communion meditation at the Gathering this evening centered around the declaration of the Centurion in Matthew.  Susan called this a "mountain-top" experience. 

    On a different note, JtM, in discussing his latest New Testament class, spoke about the Centurion in Mark -- was his declaration an ironic non-declaration of the Messiah or was it a real declaration. 

    Either way, what can we learn from the Centurion?

    • The atmosphere is full of signs and signals to lead us to the conclusion that Christ is the Son of God.  We need to keep our eyes open so that we can see God. 
    • Are the centurion and the guards the same ones who were paid to lie about the Resurrection in the next chapter.  Irregardless, we can learn about courage from the centurion.
    • There are several ways to see a story, and God will speak to us using the same words but with different message.


    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    God's Timing and Purpose

    I'm continuing my slow reading of Genesis.  When I started Genesis 17 today, I noticed that Abram was 99 years old when he encountered God (this time).  God reminded him of the covenant between them, and told him that he would make Abraham "exceedingly numerous."

    Abraham laughed.

    I turned back to Genesis 12, where Abram and God have their first recorded encounter.  God promised him land and descendants as part of their covenant.  In this chapter, Abram was 75 years old.

    Twenty four years have passed between Genesis 12 and 17. 

    I wonder what kind of faith will continue to believe God when he makes the same promise, 24 years later.  It is a lesson in accepting God's timing and in continuing to trust God when God's timing and our timing is not the same.

    God does follow through with his promises, but he has waited 24 years.  At this point, when God does give Abraham and Sarah the gift of Issac, it is done at a time when there is no doubt that God is involved.  We know that this could not have been accomplished through human work alone. 

    Labels: , ,

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Fog and Sunrise

    Couple of images from vacation (we just got back this evening).  One one day, the beach was fogged in until 2:00 in the afternoon.  Very strange.  This morning, the sky was blue -- great sunrise.


    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Beach Sunset


    Monday, April 11, 2011

    A vacation with many seagulls

    The seagulls are everywhere on the beach.  I've never seen so many -- maybe it's the time of year or maybe it's because the beach isn't as crowded this time of year, but they are everywhere.  They don't care if you get relatively close; they just stand there.

    I think some of them don't like the water very much, and I think some of them like to have their picture made.  I'll be aiming at one of them, and another one will very deliberately walk into the picture.


    Sunday, April 10, 2011



    Saturday, April 09, 2011

    Crab Shack

    The boys at Joe's Crab Shack


    Friday, April 08, 2011

    Divine Intrusion

    This evening I attended Commission Possible -- an evangelism event in our Annual Conference.

    Tyrone Gordon, who preached for worship, said that God will make divine intrusions.  We make our plans, we have our goals, and God intrudes.  He calls us to something different than what we intended. 

    We leave behind our boats and our traditions, our goals and plans, our prejudices and our ideas, and we follow God.

    Divine intrusions.


    Thursday, April 07, 2011


    I attended a webcast on Wednesday.  As I was listening to the talk, I noticed that one of the presenters said, "God may not be calling you to go to a foreign country...."

    God may not be calling us to go to a foreign country, but sometimes I hear that sentence as a reassurance.  "You probably don't need to take a step out of your house..."

    Don't get me wrong -- you can certainly do ministry in your own neighborhood.  And we are called to do that.

    Sometimes, though, I think we hear sentences like that, and what we actually hear is that nothing radical is required of us.  Sometimes, I think, people tell us that nothing radical is required of us because they think we don't want to answer a call to radical discipleship.

    Really, though, we know God is calling us to something radical (even if it is in our own neighborhood -- our own church).   God pursues us until we answer that call.  We won't find joy until we make the radical move, so we want it.  We will answer the call, and yet, sometimes, we aren't expected to do so.

    We should expect disciples to want to answer that radical call.

    Labels: ,

    Wednesday, April 06, 2011

    No Past

    I was in a Strategic Planning meeting at my church one evening.  We seemed to be continually talking about how things used to be and what we used to do.

    I asked them to consider what it would be like if we had been a church start, with 180 people in attendance each week and no past.

    It was amazing to me how hopeful that sounded. 

    There is nothing wrong with remembering the past, but when it is all you can do, it becomes a distraction.


    Busy Week

    It's a busy week, and I've been sitting here for an hour.  It's a minute before midnight.  I keep falling asleep trying to have any kind of cohesive thought for the blog.


    The image to the left is of a church I recently visited.  Beautiful, beautiful.

    So I leave you with an image in the hopes that it will count for a few words.


    Monday, April 04, 2011

    Seeing outside

    I visited a church a few weeks ago (picture to the left).  Most church sanctuaries (almost all of them, probably) are beautiful in their own ways.  Maybe it's the patina of worship that covers everything.

    This one had something that was noteworthy that I don't remember having seen before -- it had windows.

    I love stained glass.  I think it's the colors of the windows that attracts me.  These windows weren't stained glass -- they were clear class.  One could sit in this sanctuary and see outside.

    Novel idea, isn't it? 

    I commented on it to the pastor who was showing me the room, saying "You can see the world outside."  He responded, "there's a sermon in that."

    There is a sermon in that.


    Sunday, April 03, 2011

    Heard on a walk

    Thomas Edison was almost deaf, but he didn't spend all of his time trying to hear.

    Heard on this weekend's Emmaus Walk


    Saturday, April 02, 2011

    Flowers at Sunset