Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wonder what God will be up to this year?

           Sitting here in my office, I am faced with the left-overs of the holiday rush. There are stacks of papers, reference books, news articles I thought I might use, files, letters, Christmas cards, used bulletins, scribbled-on pads, and just a lot of stuff that needs to be cleaned out. During the season of Advent I did intend to set aside at least an hour or two to clean up my office. But it seems like my intentions just haven’t panned out. The New Year is upon me, and so now I must give up my procrastination and “get ‘er done.”  I can’t start the New Year in such a mess!

 I am glad that January is almost here. I like new beginnings. I like it when I open that new bag of chips, or pull out a new pair of socks, or open a book for the first time. I like things when they feel fresh and new. The possibilities of a new year always make me feel hopeful, for who knows what wonderful things God might do this year.

                Whatever God intends to do around Long Shoals this year, I am hoping and praying that God will use me in it. Since I have known God for a while, and I have studied some, I have come to know a little…a very little…about who I believe God is, and some of the things I might expect God to be involved in this year.

                God is in love with us humans. Because of that love God desires the very best for us. So I could see God getting involved this year in activities and events that promote us to love and care for one another; checking on friends with visits and calls, getting together for fellowship, and offering help to one another.

                God also desires justice. When justice prevails, innocent people are not oppressed, and oppressors are thwarted. So, this year, I envision God being a part of ministries that help the poor, that tend to the sick, and that visit and offer friendship to those who are alone.

                I have also learned that God wants to be with us. So I am very sure that God will be involved when we worship, when we are praying or doing Bible study, or working, or playing or anytime we are seeking a closer relationship.

God’s desire to be with us and to have us intimately connected is revealed in the birth of Jesus, God’s son, who came to give us a way back through the muddle of our sins into a loving relationship with God.

                I believe God intends to do some great things in 2014. As yet I have not a clue to what those things could be. I'm not going to procrastinate. Rather I am going to join in with God’s ministry for 2014, whatever they may be. I know that they will be good for us all! Today though...I got to clean up this office!  
Happy New Year Y'all!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Advent Post 2

Today I’m thinking about a lot of things. It is the day before the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Saturday. With the season cranking up to a fever pitch, I begin to long for a quiet place of rest and peace…just for a minute. But if your world is like mine, it is difficult to find.
The small Advent calendar has been marking the days with tiny slips of the Word. They are meant to cheer us, meant to illumine our time of waiting, and meant to drop into our consciousness a bit of the real meaning of the season.
Today’s bit is striking me with both longing and joy. That Jesus will make me a house. I do long for the day when my house, my home will be exactly complete. A place where peace is easy to find, and joy is there for the taking; no more sorrow, no more ache, no more giving people up to death. Praise God for the sweet baby that God sent for us, for he has made all the difference!
I believe, do you?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Advent Post

It is always a blessing when you get the word that someone was actually listening to your sermon! Sunday was the day our lectionary gospel text introduced John the Baptizer in the new Year A. We all would have rather had the run-up-to Christmas story to contemplate…but it was what it was. So I went with it.

I introduced John as a herald…explaining what exactly a herald's task was…the one sent ahead to announce an important coming event. The word did not get lost in the sermon, as one of my younger parishioners looked up at his grandmother and asked, “Who is Harold?”

I was thrilled that the little guy was listening.

God is still sending Harolds today. Who is heralding Jesus for you?

Happy 10th day of Advent!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


               Here at the Eurey house we have already searched out our Christmas CD’s. We have stationed our ITunes playlist and radios to play all our holiday songs. Soon Ed will drag out the movies, Christmas Story, The Nativity, Christmas Vacation, The Grinch That Stole Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, and The Polar Express. Our movie marathon will soon commence. Decorating will begin in earnest at the week’s end with tinsel, ribbons and greenery abounding. That’s just the way we roll around here at Christmas.

                Over at the church, the Chrismon tree is up, the lights are on, the wreaths are on the doors, and the banners of Christmas are hanging throughout the place. The scent of cinnamon and pine has become the incense of the season.

                The first Sunday of Advent is the start of the Christian year. I think that is very appropriate because Jesus’ birth marks the beginning of life for each of us (whether we know or accept it or not). This year I have been thinking about Jesus and the miracle of God becoming one of us. The first question I have is always, why? Why would God leave glory in the first place? I mean, would you? Would you leave heaven for earth?

                But that is just what God did. God became incarnate, embodied in flesh. God moved in with us, took the name of Jesus, and was a son, a brother, an uncle in his family. Jesus was loved by his mother, his father, his brothers and sisters, and his friends. He walked on legs like ours, held hands like we do, combed his hair and whispered in a soft voice. He worked hard (in those days there was no easy work). He enjoyed people, had compassion, ate supper and laughed. Jesus was kind to children and to people whose lives were torn apart.  He got perturbed. He argued. He went off by himself. He cried, was hurt, got cold, and felt grief same as us. He was tempted by things and people. He was misunderstood, criticized, called demonic and abandoned by his best friends. In the end, God was murdered for moving in with us.

                So why? Why did God give us God’s self for Christmas? Every day I realize that it’s simply a mysterious, mind-bending, unplumbable reason. God loves us.

                Therefore this is our story, the story of God who loves us so much that he was willing to leave heaven just so we can know him, just so we can be rescued from, well…ourselves. Jesus came to give us what we could not get on our own, freedom to live without fear of death, freedom to live in peace and joy, freedom to know God’s love, and freedom to continue to tell this beautiful story over and over again in our Christmas songs, in our Christmas movies, through live nativities, from brightly adorned trees, in millions of twinkling lights, and in gifts given and received.

                And the most amazing thing is this. Jesus still comes today. Every day that we receive him he is among us; he is around us; he is within us; he is present. Because really, God never left. God’s Spirit has been and will be the eternal abiding way for life for all of humanity.

                Let us ring the Christmas Bells, celebrate, and be thankful to the one who saves us!


M e r r y   C h r i s t m a s!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Healing Basket

I need a place
     to sit and cross my legs,
where I can think,
a nest,
where rays of sunlight warm and coach my play
where moats drift by like smoke
where consciousness is dimmed to the present
where the Spirit slips through
     the morass of distractions
where I can touch the hem of his garment.

©2013 Judy H. Eurey


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ending Season

Almost all the leaves are
on the ground now.
Some golden clingers remain moored to
the limbs, refusing to let go; their
shivering shapes reveal real fear of
being the final one to drop.

What if I am the last one to fall?
Would anybody be there to notice?
Am I shivering now?
It is cold today. Snow's coming.

©2013 Judy H. Eurey

Hard End

Hunger-driven hands break
the so contented egg
into a kill it skillet
of chattering butter.

The soft orange orb
is protected
by its ivory-filigreed edges

until the molting grease-heat
sets it plump-firm.

©2013 Judy H. Eurey

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lest I forget...

Sometimes I must admit...I get tired of church! The endless meetings, the tasks of preparing for yet another charge conference, the next thing, and the next thing...and the next thing. Yet, through it all, as I dither about in my fatigue of faithfulness, God has it all in hand. The community I serve with in God's kingdom is truly awesome! Because even when we are weary of church, weary of the programs and even weary with each other, these faces keep us (me) from forgetting that God has given us a great hope...the hope of Christ in every one of these faces. See for yourself!

vbspics from Judy Eurey on Vimeo.

Thank you Lord for your grace and faithfulness to me!

Monday, August 05, 2013


Many people have the gift of generosity. Were it not so, many worthy causes would go unfunded. Yet for today's family, faithful giving to church in the form of tithing and special gifts is often confronted with many financial realities. I know that people have always had financial realities to address, but it seems these days...well...the issue is compounded by all that is available to us that maybe our foremothers and forefathers never even considered.

I believe it is in such times that we can apply the timeless advice of John Wesley about how to give.

Stewardship from Judy Eurey on Vimeo.  Take a look!
Tell me what you think.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Day Off

Today I am spending time in my other home. Ed and I have a home in Morganton that we purchased when we got married back in 1989. At the time is was our dream home, a small brick cottage with both a half-finished basement downstairs for Ed’s “man-cave” and a 2nd story studio space for my meanderings. (That is where my doctoral thesis was rendered, papers and poetry written and many, many books consumed.)  Our home has always been a safe haven for me. It is a quiet place of rest and relaxation, and I am always refreshed when I come away from here.

Today it is raining softly. I love the sound of the rain on the tree leaves, and how they shiver when the drops tick through them. Our home is basically in a wooded area, and so we have never had much of a lawn to speak of. Grass and flower just don’t grow here for lack of sun, but moss is plentiful.  It forms a soft green carpet over much of the yard. The English ivy we got from Ed’s grandmother, Knoxie, thrives and has taken over a great portion of our back yard. Yet Ed still has to mow the weeds down that pop up in the shady yard.

Behind our home is a steep hill of woods that go down to a small creek. Beyond is a tree nursery, and in the winter and fall, we can see the rolling rows of shrubs, hemlocks, and boxwoods which stay green all year. When we had Toby, his greatest pleasure was to bounce down the hill with Ed or me behind him to the fields of the nursery, or into the irrigation pond on a hot day. I miss that good boy every time I come home.

The neighborhood has not changed much since 1989. Only about 4 new homes in the subdivision. Our street is a dead end, so we don’t get much traffic, just the mail carrier, Jehovah Witnesses who love a dead end street, and the occasional lost soul.

I am so thankful for this little space in the world where I can be. I love a day off when I come to my home to rest and recharge. Ministry is always waiting to be done, but for today, it must wait. Ummm…unless there is an emergency of course.


But those who trust the Lord will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired. (Isaiah 40:31 CEV)

Friday, July 05, 2013

Fruit of the Spirit

This week I have been studying on ways that living a life of faith is a better way to live than to live without faith. When I talk about faith, because of my tradition, I’m talking about faith in Jesus, whom I believe to be God and the way back to God for all people. (As contrasted with those whose faith responses are to money, wealth, health, fame and other non-God entities.)

Using an agri-metaphor, Paul, the apostle writes to the people in Galatia (today that’s Turkey) about what it means to live a life of faith in response to Jesus’ grace. (Letter to the Galatians, chapter 5) Paul insists that an appropriate life response is that we “bear fruit," what he calls the Fruit of the Spirit. This fruit is not any action we do, not prayers we pray, nor stands we take, but rather it is ways of being. The fruit Paul says we bear is love, peace, kindness, faithfulness, patience, generosity, joy, gentleness and self-control. (Fruit…so it includes all of these ways of being.)

  • What do you think that the fruit of the Spirit would look like in people today?
  • Do you think living a life of faith in Jesus is better than not living such a life?
I invite you to comment, sound off, complain, or otherwise give your opinion.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Summer Produce

In her muck boots she walked through
  the tall dew-dripping grass to feed
at the barbed wire fence, stood and
  lifted the bucket of grain over
calling, Hereboy, Hereboy

Morning was bonding time,
  bovine and beauty in their dance of discovery
Through the warm months, heft and brawn grew
  succulent tendons, marbled flanks

I watched this ritual as it came to be known to me,
  from the front window of the 10x50
trailer I called my first home 
As neighbors do, we threw up hands,
  waved when passing, shared the occasional
garden overages and took account of each other’s visitors

The slow summer of gestation in
  unairconditioned rooms drove me outdoors
and to walking, past Hereboy, and down to Flower’s store
where I charged my way through my cravings

The stifle of the summer heat lifted
  as did my belly burden presenting me with the bundled
  face and toes and smile of my summer’s produce
fat and round-faced, I bottled her, rocking
  from toe to toe  singing by the window
watching for the familiar ritual and
  teaching the pretty words, cow, grass, mother

As before the beauty, the bucket, the shake of grain,
  the call: Hereboy, Hereboy
the eager trot, the expectant muzzle,
  the season's growth of trust brought
the man, the gun, the shot, exacting and final

the pre-parted window curtain closed, and I sang on

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Reporting from 2013 WNC Annual Conference

             It’s that time of year again, when I get to bring news of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference which took place last week.  I want to report on this year’s focus which was: Becoming the “Missional Church.” As you may be aware, last year the annual conference made the decision to shift from 15 districts down to 8. The changes we have experienced over the last year have been both tedious and helpful.        
              Our district superintendents are now referred to as District Missional Strategists. Missional Networks have been formed so that churches can work together to extend the mission of the church into our local geographical areas. The way forward is fully about missions…of all kinds, local, national and international.
              We were encouraged last year to focus on change and innovation in our local churches in order to reach those people outside our churches who do not (and marginally) have a relationship with God.        
              The focus this year at annual conference centered on motivating churches to be intentional about moving beyond the walls of the church to serve Jesus in our communities.  We are no longer to be about maintaining our organizations, but rather we are to focus all our resources in mission.
              Bishop Goodpaster summed up the theme with his words to the conference in our last worship together. “Get outta here. Get busy. Go. Go. Go. Get outta here!” The Bishop hopes that we will develop and play-out a “missional faith.” A missional faith is one that “stays focused on the heart of God in order to serve Christ in the present age.”

Bishop Goodpaster
(Photo captured from WNCC Facebook photos)
              Serving Christ in the present age certainly presents us with a great many challenges. However, Bishop Goodpaster explained that faith is not something we have and hold, but rather “faith is a verb.” Faith as a verb means that we live it out, love it out, give it out, send it out, serve it out. Having faith is like having a new pair of dancing shoes, unless we go dancing…what good are they? We are to go out fearlessly. In the clergy session, Bishop Goodpaster told all pastors, “Be brave, be bold and be reasonable. Take the authority that you are given by the church to make a difference. Don’t worry…I’ve got your back.”
              We were also blessed and inspired by great worship and messages. Bishop Peter Weaver brought us a word about who Jesus really is from Matthew 25. He said that Jesus is the person “out there,” in those to whom we are sent. He said that many people are facing the “midnight” of their lives, grieving, oppressed, broken, hurting, hungry, ready to give up. Bishop Weaver said that we are called to serve them…to serve Jesus in them…to go into those dark midnights with love, help, service, and friendship. We are to stand on God and God’s promises, so that our courage will overcome any fears or threats that are pelted at us by naysayers, friends, families, committees or councils.
              We were excited and encouraged by reports of the varied missions and ministries that have developed during the last year in the “just-outside-our-door” mission fields. For example in Stanley, the First UMC developed a mission called Common Ground by making available a 90 acre plot of ground where people can come and connect with the out of doors; where they can worship, play, be with their families, and experience God in a non-traditional setting. This is just one of the exciting new missional endeavors happening in our conference.
               I could go on and on about the encouraging words we received, but what I am encouraged by the most is that I know that God knows exactly what we are supposed to be doing. Both in our individual lives and in our community life at Pisgah UMC, seeking God for the way forward is thrilling prospect. This year is the year to let go of the fears that hold us and “get outta the church into our communities.” This year let’s commit to meeting Jesus in the people we are yet to know…He’s out there. If you don’t believe me…read Matthew 25.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Celebrating God's Blessings!

            I have been celebrating ever since Saturday because of the great blessings we received at the Pisgah UMC Food Drop Friday and Saturday when we partnered with Christian Ministries of Lincoln County to reach more people with food.
              As a mobile drop site, we received some 13,500 lbs. of food from the 2nd Harvest Food Bank in Charlotte, NC.  All the food nearly filled the entire fellowship hall with bread, crackers, chips, sports drinks, flavored waters, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and other kid-friendly food items. We were able to serve 111 families with approximately 125 lbs. of food per family.

This food brought to us was gleaned from food manufacturers, warehouses, stores, and produce growers and was gathered at 2nd Harvest Food Bank. The food has no cost since it is donated. There is but a $300 transportation cost. I’m happy to report that due to a fund-raiser we had back on Palm Sunday, the United Methodist Men of Pisgah UMC were able to fund the entire event, paying for the transportation and all the supplies we used.

Volunteers came from many places, Laboratory UMC, Marvin UMC, Asbury UMC, and Pisgah UMC. On Friday some 20 volunteers rolled the big pallets of food in and got it ready to be loaded into boxes to be given away on Saturday. On Friday Laboratory UMC also brought food to be distributed. Other food we had to give away came from members of Pisgah UMC and some was gathered from the 2013 confirmation class members! (These people are awesome!)

Then on Saturday, we had 45 devoted souls who came to do the work of distributing the food to needy families. They directed traffic, bagged produce, took qualifying applications (USDA poverty guidelines were used), packed boxes, carried those heavy boxes, and loaded car trunks and back seats with food. They also took loads of food to qualified families who were unable to make it to the drop themselves.

 All day long we were blessed by our work together. I really saw God’s kingdom in action in a mighty way! There was laughter, tears, hugs, prayers, silliness, fun and a generosity of Spirit that energized us like the wind of the Holy Spirit energized the disciples at Pentecost.

My prayers were answered! We had no accidents. (Maybe a few sore backs on Sunday morning.) We had awesome volunteers/disciples to do the hard work. We were able to give away all the food. We were finished and had everything cleaned up by noon. Most importantly, we caught sight of the Kingdom of God in one another!

I am so thankful to be in ministry at Pisgah UMC, a church of Jesus’ disciples who are eager to respond to any need they know of, who step up to give love, to minister, to pray, to worship and try new things, and even to reach into their pockets to be a blessing to our community. God’s people at Pisgah are a blessing to me! Wow!

On Sunday morning we celebrated our blessings with reading again the story of Jesus when he fed the 5000 (Mark 6: 35-44). Jesus was able to see a need and address it immediately. Today to address a need, Jesus works it out differently.

Today, Jesus takes the body of believers, brings them together in one accord, and then he orchestrates the feeding of the multitude through each of us…the members of his body.  Saturday, we could have been on a hillside in Judea instead of being at Pisgah UMC, because we witnessed Jesus do the same work he did there. With the 5 loaves and 2 fish ($300), we fed 111 families for at least a day…probably 2 or 3 days more. Not 5000 perhaps, but it’s a start.

We are doing another Food Drop in October! (More about that later.) I just want to say how thankful I am to God for  the vision of the Kingdom of God the strong -hearted people of the UMC gave me Saturday!
One word...WHOOWHO!

Some pictures below and....a video at  http://youtu.be/kWQYJZPz_CU if you care to see it. 



Traffic Handler. So serious.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Remembering Colleen

              We received word last week that our dear friend Colleen Bruce has passed away. I met Colleen when Ed’s brother Charley and she dated way back in the 90’s. Colleen was truly one of the most delightful people I’ve ever known. I loved her because she was accepting of everyone, she celebrated their differences, and she admired folks for just being who they are. Colleen was great fun to be around, always cheerful, always cheering others on. 

               Though we only spent small periods of time together, each and every one of them was memorable. Anybody who ever knew Colleen would have been struck by her fun-loving and easy-going nature. She was an outdoors person--a dirty-boots and wet-parka kind of gal--who loved to hike, kayak, and poke around the woods with her big ole dogs.
            I especially remember having the opportunity of visiting her at her home near Boston. She took me on tours to the Massachusetts coast and to the maritime museums where I would have never ventured to on my own. She treated me to a tour of the Salem armory, where she was working at the time with the US Parks service. I'll never forget her leaving me completely alone in a huge room full of real Civil war rifles, one of the eeriest experiences of my life. Colleen was the first organic consumer I ever met. She ate twigs and sprouts before eating them was cool.
            To really say how special she was...is to say this...Ed's family loved her dearly even though she was a Northerner, a Roman Catholic, and a Democrat!

            The world is now going to be a little darker since Colleen has gone on. Yet I know where she is now, is brighter. "All is well." Keep shining dear friend. We love you, and we’ll see you again one day.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wilderness Journey, Day 22

Toby Joe
September 10, 1999 - March 4, 2013

My “Tobeman,” “Bubbie,” “PunkinDunkin,” was born the year I finished my cancer treatments. I’ve always called him my healing prayer because I believe God sent him into our lives for us to love, care for, and be good too. (That is as healing as prayer.)

One autumn evening back in October 1999, we had just gone to the kennel…um…just to “look” at the nine boxer pups being offered for sale from the local breeder in Drexel. Ed was reluctant to go, because he knew that my heart had been grieving from a multitude of losses we had had over the last two years, including our first boxer, “Boxx” who lived for six years. He also knows how much I love a boxer puppy!

So of course, once we saw the nine beautiful puppies, and we spied the larger-than-average boy, who was shy and serious, it was over. Really, it was Ed who chose him from out of all the wiggly, rowdy, boxer pups, saying, “I like that one.” Toby really never changed. He was always shy and serious, but also the sweetest dog I’ve ever known.

Last week, we had to give him up. The once fatty tumor under the skin on his side turned, seemingly overnight, into a huge hard cancer mass that was taking him over, weighing him down, growing rapidly, breaking through his skin and making him very uncomfortable. The vet gave no hope and only more pain and suffering in his future. It was the day we had been dreading…as all pet owners do; the day you have to say goodbye.

This past week has been hard for both Ed and me, because it is difficult to give up a companion who always loves you unconditionally. But, I’ve been able to feel better each time I got sad by being thankful that God gave us nearly 14 years with our good boy. With the average life span of 11 years, that is an extra long life for a boxer. The vet told Ed that Toby was the longest living boxer he had ever known.
We miss our great companion, fussy eater, and scardy cat dog who loved to chase squirrels, spoon with you in the bed, and go riding to any place you went. 

Wilderness Journey, Day 21

A Beautiful Rain
Popping in puddles with a
   plink, plink, plink
the February rain falls.
Sparkling shimmers of light
   it speaks in tones that
soothe me.
Drops splashed on the window
  have space and time ensconced
  a wet planet encircling life
vouchsafed for Spring.




©2013 Judy H. Eurey

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Wilderness Journey, Day 20


Oh camellia, let me feel ya,
deep in my heart,
pink and soft, so fragile
a harsh touch
will bruise ya
Oh camellia, let me feel ya,
fluid in my hand
plucked from the branch
a withering cause
forces me to lose ya

Oh camellia, let me feel ya,
awash over noise.
To what end have you bloomed?
For cranks & pundits to
abuse ya?

O camellia, let me feel ya,
sing through my mind,
notes of beauty, notes of warning,
notes of pity
to overuse ya.

O camellia, let me feel ya.




©2013 Judy H. Eurey

Friday, February 15, 2013

Wilderness Journey, Day 19

Zennias by my window.
During Lent 2012, I attempted to write a Lenten poem everyday. I failed, succeeding on only 18 occasions with a bloggable (which is questionable) poem. This year I am attempting once again to at least get to my goal of 40. We'll see how I do. 

The beauty of Lent to me is that I have an intentional time of trying to do better, of trying to focus on Jesus instead of me, of trying to look inwardly, of trying to add more spiritual and Godly elements to my life...so that I can be better.

The love and forgiveness of God is always before me during Lent because I fail at doing better so often and so thoroughly. In my failures I realize my true need for my savior. It is in him I live and because of him that I even have a life to try to better with.

The poem with the question...what is your mountain?

That Mountain
How can I miss that mountain,
when before me daily it stands?
How can I slide by unseeing,
looking past its power
its height, its weight, its force, its place?
How can I shield my face?

©2013 Judy H. Eurey

Friday, February 08, 2013

Life and Times

February 17 - March 17

Next Sunday we will have begun the season of Lent. My Lenten Sermon Series this year will tell the story of Jesus and his life. Sermons: The Incarnation, The Posse, The Healer, The Teacher, The Savior.

Looking forward to the study and time of reflection during this season.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Deeper and Bigger

          This week I am completing a sermon series called “Remedies for the Chaotic Life.” I’m not sure how often pastors preach to themselves, but all during my study for this series…I have been convicted by God’s constant soft voice in my ear. My life is much too chaotic most of the time.

Dr. Kirk Jones in his book Rest in the Storm shared this quote from a one disillusioned pastor, “I am supposed to move from sick bed to administrative meeting, to planning, to supervising, to counseling, to praying, to trouble-scheduling, to audio systems, to meditation, to worship preparation, to newsletter, to staff problems, to mission projects, to conflict management, to community leadership, to study, to funerals, to weddings, to preaching. I am supposed to be ‘in charge,’ but not too in charge—administrative executive, sensitive pastor, skillful counselor, public speaker, spiritual guide, politically savvy, and intellectually sophisticated. And I am supposed to be superior, or at least first-rate, in all of them. I am not supposed to be depressed, discouraged, cynical, angry or hurt. I am supposed to be upbeat, positive, strong, willing, and available” (L104-Kindle).

              Now I ask you, does this sound schizophrenic to you? I admit that often I have called my life as a pastor, “schizophrenic” because what this pastor says is the same for me too. If I am not careful I can get swamped with the constant drain of the mental and emotional dodge-ball I play.

One of the remedies I promoted to the congregation this month is for us to rest, relax and remember. I need to time to rest and regroup, both for my body and for my spirit. I need to relax and enjoy those things that restore my joy and life’s vigor, and I need to remember who I am. I am the beloved of God.

As I have read and studied this month, I have come to remember how much I am the apple of God’s eye. God loves me totally, whether I’m able to master all the duties and responsibilities I have. God loves me totally, whether I’m at my best or at my worst. God loves me totally, whether I’m cranky or crazy, whether I’ve done all the things on my to-do list or not, whether I’ve given my all or nothing…God loves me totally.

These sermons have helped me remember to breathe and to smile…um…deeper and bigger.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Waiting for it to thaw...

              I got up this morning to a beautiful thin glace of light-reflecting ice covering the world outside my window. Before venturing out for my Saturday morning errands, I was required to take time to wait…wait for it to thaw.

              In my life as a minister, at times that is where I stand. I stand waiting for people to thaw, to warm up, to take notice of the heat and fire of the Holy Spirit that is a burning ember within them. The waiting is very hard, like waiting for a diaper-baby to take its first toddling steps.

              Since I had to wait, I found myself standing by the window looking out on the frozen lawn, and there I saw a flash of bright red cardinal, then the brilliant blue of a fat jay, then the rust colored belly of a beak-bobbing robin. Along the gray tree trunk of a side-frozen oak tree, an ebony and white dappled woodpecker hooked his red-head up and down as he trailed towards the top branches searching for breakfast. My feathered friends reminded me.

              There is great beauty in the world, and it is easier to see when you are waiting. That is if you  are willing to take the time to look for it. In God’s time the thaw will come. God’s people will burn hot. The embers of God’s Holy Spirit do not burn from fuel that will burn away, but that fire burns from the fuel of God’s love of which there is no end.

              Lord, as I wait for the thaw…let me see the beauty. Help me wait with patience.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I read Bishop Goodpaster’s blog today where he listed four areas of leadership, where when we are accomplished at them, we should be enabled to be a more missional church. They were:

  • focus
  • simplify
  • collaborate
  • adapt

Bishop gave us discipling questions to contemplate, and I got stumped with the first one. Focus. Over the last years, we pastors have been asked to consider ourselves to be more mission oriented and to lead our churches in this vain. We have been told to stop maintaining our current organizational structures and become more like missionaries working out of mission stations.

Here is a problem. For so many years we have been asked to “support” missions, missionaries, and mission work. Now we are being asked to be the missionaries. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that this is the right approach. It is just that it very difficult to change the mindset of the average church goer from supporter of to actual missionary.

The church has been completely instrumental in developing this mindset over the years. My question is how do we change the focus of church goers? Until we do get the focus changed, our efforts at being a missional church where we can simplify, collaborate and adapt will be seriously hampered.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gun Control

              In the wake of the horrible mass killings of 2012, the subject of "gun control" has been a hot topic both in the media and around our house. People are passionate on this subject. Me, not so much. I am as inflamed as anybody over the massacre of the innocent children and teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary school on December 14, 2012. I believe it was an act of a seriously disturbed person, one who was off his rocker and not in control of his actions. I know some disagree with me.

              The horrific incident has caused the opposite poles of the gun control issue to become vocal and in some cases ridiculous. If raising the consciousness of the public is one of the aims of the rhetoric, mine has been raised. On the one side I've heard anti-gun people proclaim, "something has to be done," while the other side, the pro-gun people echo, "American's have 2nd amendment rights." I been amazed at the venom that has spewed forth, from gun owners being depicted as being apt to turn one day into a baby-killer to anti-gun enthusiasts being labeled communists. To me it's absurdity at the expense of the memory of innocent people.

              Fact is, and it is a sad fact, such atrocities as happened at Sandy Hook will likely happen again, because mentally disturbed people will still do horrible, crazy things.

              Personally, I do not like guns. My sister took her own life with a hand gun. I will forever be haunted by the question that if it hadn't been in her possession at the time, would she have made the hasty, rash and deadly decision she made, or could she have waited and been reasoned with. I'll never know. As I said, I do not like guns, but I know that there are people, who are law-abiding, mentally whole, and who enjoy collecting, owning, trading, shooting, and working on guns. My sister was one of them.

              So I must ask myself, should my feelings and dislike for guns out weigh another's legal right to pursue his or her own enjoyments and hobbies?

              I know that guns are deadly, but so are other things; like neglecting the mentally ill...while we argue about (and spend great amounts of money on) guns.