Wednesday, May 31, 2006

June Newsletter article

Longview United Methodist Church is a beacon of diversity in our community. We encourage each individual in their spiritual journey as they become a disciple for Jesus Christ.

Leadership Team met this past month to check in with our process of following our mission and our goals. When the mission statement emerged in our strategic planning sessions this past winter we also created a set of focus area’s to go with them. It was helpful to notice that in just a few months we have already done much and a few of our goals have been reached.

Focus area: Ministry with the deaf community and people hard of hearing.
Efforts we made with more banners and liturgical art to improve the overall acoustics of the sanctuary. Some of our hard of hearing folks are still report that they can’t hear the pastor well. An Assisted Listening System will be here for a try out in June. We are in conversation with people familiar with American Sign Language so that we can have regular interpretation at our worship services.

Focus area: Acceptance and Celebration of Diversity.
Plans are underway for a LUMC entry in the 4th of July parade. A design with a lighthouse (beacon of diversity) and a rainbow will be used.

Focus area: Decreases Drug Abuse in the Community.
We are hosting an NA meeting at LUMC each Tuesday evening. Church members and I are involved with local groups and agencies working with the drug abuse problem.

Focus area: Increase membership of LUMC.
The wheelchair accessible bathroom was completed in April helping us to be more welcoming. We continue to receive new visitors. Improvements need to be made with visitor follow up and creating tools to help church members invite friends, relatives, associates and neighbors. May worship attendance average was 74 people (2005 was 68).

We have not achieved perfection yet but we are continuing to do a lot to fulfill the mission that God is calling us into. I ask that you continue to pray for our mission and for the goals we will set and achieve as we grow together.

Grace and Peace,

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Summer Reading List

If you are like me, at the end of the school year some of your teachers would give you a “summer reading lists.” Of course you never read any of the books on the list or if you did you waited until the last week of August.

This year I am challenging myself with an ambitious reading list. The list was compiled after consulting some friends and church members. At the end of the day the list is primarily made up of books that were already on my shelf because I had purchased them for a variety of reasons. It is also likely that I will add one or two books after Annual Conference as I always buy the books at the “Bishop’s Recommendations” table at the Cokesbury display. It is my hope to publish a short review/book report on “graceandstuff” as I complete each book. Some books I will be reading a chapter a week throughout the summer, some I will be reading in a period of a few days. Below are the books with a short commentary about each one. So here they are in alphabetical order by author.

Covey, Stephen R. The 8th Habit. Free press, 2004
I have already started this book but will begin again in the first week of June with the intention to read one chapter a week. Not only is it a book but it comes with a great DVD. Now, I wonder what happened with the other 7 habits? Hmmm.

Crossan, John Dominic and Reed, Jonathan L. Excavating Jesus, beneath the stones, behind the texts. HarperSanFrancisco, 2001
This book is on my shelf as it has come to me from my great uncle Rev. George Foye who passed away a couple of years ago. Uncle George was a member of the Cal-Pac (Southern California) Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Crossan is a well known Jesus scholar and I am looking forward to what he has to say.

Diamond, Jared. Collapse, how societies choose to fail or succeed. Viking, 2005
Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel” was a fantastic work explaining how civiliztions began and why they developed the way the did. I am looking forward to see if he was as effective with “Collapse.”

Kasser, Meyer and Wurst. Eds. The Gospel of Judas. National Geographic, 2006
The June Sermon series is titled “The DaVinci Code, The Gospel of Judas, and other Heresies” This Gnostic Gospel should be interesting for what it reveals about Gnostic Christianity.

Keri, Jonah. Ed. Baseball Between the Numbers, why everything you know about the game is wrong. Basic Books, 2006
I was introduced to thinking about baseball in a new way in 1995 when I began regularly reading Rob Neyer’s columns on Then came “Moneyball” in 2001. Then I began regularly reading the fine work at . They recommended another blog Deanna from this site is sponsoring a book club which is reading this book and another on my summer list. If my math teachers had used math the way these guys do for baseball perhaps I would have done my homework more often.

Kouzes, James M. and Posner, Barry Z. Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge. Jossey Bass, 2004
I picked this up while I was attending the Leadership Institute at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS. I haven’t read it yet and that was 8 months ago. The forward is by John Maxwell too!

Krosney, Herbert. The Lost Gospel, The Quest for the Gospel of Judas Iscariot. National Geographic. 2006
Book II from the National Geographic team.

Maddox, Randy L. Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s practical theology. Kingswood Books, 1994
A pastor friend recommended this when I was seeking recommendations for my summer reading. I recognized the name and author immediately as it was one of those books I bought while I was in seminary. I just never found a reason to read it, until now.

McLaren, Brian D. A Generous Orthodoxy. Zondervan, 2004
I have really enjoyed McLaren’s other works “A new kind of Christian” and “The story we find ourselves in.” McLaren is speaking at this year’s COR Leadership Institute and I am really looking forward to hearing him speak.

Meacham, Jon. American Gospel, God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation. Random House, 2006
Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” must sell millions of books. I bought this book after the author’s appearance on the show. I have been curious about the topic of “the founding fathers” and their faith since my days as a history major at WSU.

Olney, Buster. The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty, the game, the team, and the cost of greatness. CCC, Harper Collins, 2004
Buster can thank Deanna at I would never have bought a Yankee book but this is next on her book club list. At least its about the decline and fall of the Yankees and not some propaganda about their greatness (I hope.)

Robinson, Marilynne. Gilead, a novel. Picador, 2004
This is one of those paperbacks I picked up simply because it had a sticker on it that read, “winner of the Pulitzer prize.” Then I found an article about Robinson in a recent article of “The Christian Century.” Its good to get a fictional novel in the mix too.

Sellon, Mary K. and Smith, Daniel P. Practicing Right Relationship, skills for deepening purpose, finding fulfillment, and increasing effectiveness in your congregation. The Alban Institute, 2005
Dan and Mary are awesome and I wanted to give this book a look over as Kendra begins a new appointment and I refresh myself for another great year at LUMC.

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Monday, May 22, 2006

The BIble and Homosexuality

Does the Bible condemn homosexuality?
The people of Biblical times did not talk about homosexuality as we do today. They presumed that all people were created to fall in love with people of the opposite gender.
There are five primary references of homosexuality in the Bible.
Genesis 19:5 “and they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them.’”
The account in Genesis of the destruction of Sodom is the origin of the term “sodomy.” It is clear God’s condemnation is about the violence the crowd wishes to inflict on God’s messenger’s who were guest in Lot’s house and not on homosexuality.
Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
Some point to Leviticus and its commands that a man should not lie with a man and yet Leviticus also condemns wearing clothing with mixed fabrics. Christians understand that Christ gave us a new covenant and that we are no longer bound by the Levitical Law code.
I Corinthians 6:9 “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be decieved! Fornicaters, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites,” (NRSV)
Or “. . . no fornicator or idolater, no adulterer or sexual pervert,” (REB)
Or “. . . the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, the self indulgent, sodomites."
The most difficult passages come from the New Testament in Paul’s letters to Rome and Corinth and Timothy. In I Corinthians 6:9 and in the letter to Timothy Paul uses a word that is not found in other Greek writings of the same period. Some scholars have suggested that it is a word created by Paul. The word is “arsenokoites” is often translated as sodomites, it can also mean literally “male bed.” Some scholars have compared the Biblical reference of this word to other Greek writings and found that the term could refer to male prostitution or some economic exploitation of sex. Most scholars will agree we simply don’t know for sure what it means and that its translation as “sodomy” or “sexual perverts” is a modern presumption.
The other New Testament word sometimes understood to refer to homosexuality is “malakos.” This word is translated in I Cor. 6:9 as “male prostitutes” but in the Gospel of Luke it is translated as “soft.” Luther’s reformation Bible translated these terms as “effeminate” (malakos) and “violators of boys” (arsenokoitai).
In Romans 1:26-27 “For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”
In Romans 1:26-27 Paul condemns people for “unnatural” intercourse. Paul presumes that all people are created in the same way. He had little idea that some people are born to fall in love with others of the same gender. Modern psychiatry beginning with Freud has conducted a good deal of research regarding homosexuality. In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of disorders. Researchers today are studying brain activity and genetics to further understand our natural sexual desires.
We believe that it is natural for some people to fall in love with others of the same gender.
But it seems immoral!
Paul’s concern, and ours too is with sexual morality. If Paul is saying that prostitution is immoral, we agree! If Paul is saying that pedophilia is immoral, we agree! We believe sex is a sharing of intimacy for consenting adults. We also condemn the exploitation of sexuality in many forms in our society.
What about sex in marriage?
We affirm that sex is best shared in a marriage covenant. Therefore we urge the government and the church to affirm same sex marriage as a moral and legal covenant.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Comments are UP

Its time to take blogging to the next level. Comments.

Comments will be monitered and require a "word verification" process. The word verification is used to prevent "spam" programs from creating comments. I will be monitering comments to prevent people from taking the blog in a direction it isn't meant to go.

Hopefully this will be a fun way to talk about our faith and church.



Encourage Each Individual


"Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we decided to be left alone in Athens; and we sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker for God in proclaiming the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you for the sake of your faith, so that no one would be shaken by these persecutions. "

Some time ago one of my clergy colleagues wrote to tell me that he wished to be a “Barnabas” for me. I was puzzled, what did that mean? I knew that Barnabas traveled around with Paul. But I didn’t really know that much about him. After some study of the Bible I found that Barnabas is a name given to a man named Joseph who was from Cyprus. The name Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement.” Now that’s cool! Don’t we all need someone in our life who is there to encourage us? Barnabas is introduced to us one who gave all he owned to the church (Acts 4:36) The following are some verses from Acts that talk about Barnabas.

Acts 11:25 “Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul”

Acts 13:1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler,a and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Acts 14: 12 “Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.”

Clearly for the Early Christian Church Encouragement came from supportive relationships. When the work was hard, when life was difficult the apostle Paul was encouraged by in faith by relationships with others in the faith community.

LUMC has been called to encourage others on their faith journey.

One task for the encourager is to discover what inspires a particular individual. What is inspiring to one may not be inspiring to another. One person might be encouraged in faith through music ministry and another through mission projects. One person might be encouraged through visitation ministry another through Bible study.

One result of encouragement is the discovery of new hope and with it new life. One dilemma often faced within mainline churches is that good and faithful people sometimes forget how their life has been transformed by faith. For Paul and the Apostles the transformation is clear. The risen Christ has revealed to them God’s kingdom on earth and they live in that kingdom each day.

Encouragement grows from one individual to another.

When I played soccer in Junior High I was most proud of when I received “most inspirational” award. I was so proud of that. I played soccer for three years, never scored a goal. I wasn’t the most talented player on the team, but there were some on the team who found my relationship with them to be “inspirational.”

Encouragement comes out of relationship.

We know that we need affirmation. Each of us have emotional and spiritual bank accounts that we keep. Sometimes we have separate accounts for different relationships. We know what it feels like when those accounts are full and when they are empty or even negative. Its not fair but reality is that it takes more encouragement, affirmation and love to fill the account than criticism, disregard, or neglect takes to empty it. Healthy people find ways to develop relationships that fill the bank account and they fill the bank account of others. To be a "Barnabas" for another means that we are working to keep the bank accounts full.

Encouragement helps us experience the Holy.

When we build up one another in Love we create the community of the Kingdom of God. I believe people are looking for authentic communities where all people can grow in love

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May Newsletter Article

A Mission for LUMC

Longview United Methodist Church is a beacon of diversity in our community. We encourage each individual in their spiritual journey as they become a disciple for Jesus Christ.

The preceding is the new mission statement for LUMC that developed during our consultation this past winter. I am really excited about the possibilities of this mission statement. We have recognized our value of diversity in both our mission with the community and our relationship with one another. Diversity is something we should value.

Of course the hard part is living this out. While people talk about diversity we often mean a diverse group of people like me. Last year we were challenged by Kristina Gonzalez from the conference office to live with the tension of true diversity. Are we willing to be diverse culturally and theologically? Are we only willing to be culturally diverse if we all think the same way theologically? Are we willing to be theologically diverse only if we have similar economic or educational backgrounds?

Living into diversity takes a deep understanding of God’s Grace. With diversity comes conflict. Conflict is not to be avoided but approached with an understanding of God’s grace. Our mission statement is not only about the work of the church, it is also a statement about how we want to live as individuals. We are most often challenged by diversity in our personal relationships. Our friends, family and fellow church members see the world differently than we do. Sometimes it is painful to realize they do not agree with us. The challenge then is how are we going to be in relationship with those with whom we disagree?

If our relationships are informed by “become a disciple for Jesus Christ.” I believe that we will be OK. As Disciples we will go forward by the Grace of God continuing to discover the movement of the holy in our lives. May God bless us as we live into the Mission of Longview United Methodist Church.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Find Your Path, Sunday April 30th

Luke 24:13-35

The Path Begins with Questions
Two men were walking along the road talking about the events of the past day. They knew about Jesus and his ministry. They had hopes that Jesus would be the one to free Israel from the Roman occupation. Perhaps they were part of the crowd that celebrated his entry into Jerusalem. Then it was all over. Jesus was crucified.
Leads to Discovery
As they walk a stranger comes to them and begins to remind them of the scriptures. This stranger talks about the Messiah and his ultimate purpose. Finally as the stranger breaks bread with them they discover the stranger is the Risen Christ.

Find Your Path
The Joy of Discovery. People Get excited about discovery.
Do you remember the first time you were able to ride a bike and that moment when you were able to balance those two wheels and peddle yourself forward? That was such great freedom! The Joy of discovering what you could do!
Do you remember when learning was fun? Remember when you looked in that microscope in science class? When I was in the fifth grade I once spent a whole recess looking at Salmon eggs through a microscope. It was so cool!

Self, loved child of God Prevenient Grace
I believe the first step on our spiritual journey is one of self discovery. The primary element is that God loves you so much, that Christ came to live, die and rise again so you might have eternal live. God Loves You! You are lovable.

God, source of love Justifying Grace
As you discover God’s love you seek to live in that more. You take steps along the spiritual journey to continue to experience God’s love. You respond to people who affirm God’s love and you remove yourself from those who (for whatever reason) try to steer you away from the path of love.

Living in Love Sanctifying Grace
As we grow in our awareness of God’s love we want to share the greatest gift with others. The journey leads us to care for others and work to bring the Kingdom of God to our world today.

Disciples first Find their Path, and then Share the Journey (next week)

Continuing the Sermon

In what ways can you grow in your awareness of God’s love for you?
Is there something you need to do for yourself to affirm that you are a person of great worth?
What commitments can you make for your spiritual life to grow?
In what ways are you helping others?