Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Getting the help I need

On Monday, I felt like someone had driven a spike into my sinus'. I was tired and achy, and instead of springing out of bed I rolled over and went back to sleep. I managed to roll out of bed and get ready for a lunch meeting, but came back home and went back to bed until an evening meeting. The next morning it was clear the sinus infection was not going away without help. My wife pulled out the humidifier, I called the doctor and by the end of the day I had antibiotics. Today, I am feeling a lot better and the headache is now much milder.
I am reminded in times like these, I need help to get well, I can get the rest, drink the fluids but I depend on others to diagnosis and treat my symptoms. It is not always easy for me to ask for the help, but during this time of year, I can use all the help I can get! I also want to be there for others to help them so being healthy is important.
How about you? Do you get the help you need?

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Change is hard for me, especially when the changes I have to make come unexpectedly. There are times when I am sailing along through the charted waters of life, and all seems manageable. Then a storm hits sending me off course, and I struggle to get my bearings again. What it must of been like for Mary after she had the visit from the angels, or what Joseph must of felt when he had a dream telling him of the future. Their lives would never be the same, and neither are ours. The child they cared for and raised would become our savior, and he would be all about change, changing the world in ways that still have implications for our world. We are to keep fighting for the needs of those who are often overlooked. The poor the outcast, the oppressed, still need our love. We need to care for the world in ways that change the systems of oppression and keep the poor, poor. Jesus invites us to the ministry that always is changing to meet the challenges we face. Does your heart have room for the changes that are at your door?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Getting Ready

Today I am conscious of how the days are moving along quickly, the activities are unfolding fast and I am scrambling to keep grounded. Writing is one way that I can slow down the pace of life, and reflect. Other times I can take a walk and be aware of nature, have a deep conversation with someone about what is going on in our lives, all these are ways I can keep sane. But even with my best methods there are times when life gets out of hand, and I am unable to keep up.
I come to the end of the week frustrated at all the things I did not do.
When I realize how frazzled I am, I have a choice, to stop and reconnect with my Creator, or try to push onward, and eventually breaking down,my body can only tolerate so much abuse. As I write, I realize today I need to do something to reconnect to God, to the joy of the coming of Jesus into my life. How about you? What nurtures your soul?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

God does not give you anything you can't handle

As a pastor this saying drives me nuts, the Bible says with God the impossible is made possible, not with me the impossible is made possible. When I am in a situation that I cannot handle, it is turning my concerns over to God, trusting in God's love and power to comfort those I care about, and trusting that God can bring good news in the midst of the crisis is how I can make it through.
God does not give you anything you can't handle is usually said to people who have more than enough going on in their life such as a health crisis, a divorce, bankruptcy, and they turn to their friends for advice and support. If someone does give you this response they assume that God is in charge of everything that happens to you. God does not want us to experience these crisis, it is often hard to know what to say, they want to comfort us, but nothing more could be discomforting, God causes my divorce? God causes me to have cancer? God wants me to experience the pain of depression?
This is not the God I believe in, the one who cares for us, mourns with us, works for our well being. Other forces cause the pain, and are often a result of others efforts to harm not heal. We ourselves are responsible for harm through the choices we make, but this is not God's doing. We have been given the freedom to make those decisions.
The world is overwhelming, and if we take seriously the fact that we become depressed, angry, anxious, this is a sign of how just hard life can be some days. This is not the life God hopes for us,desires for us.
To me to say God gives us no more than we can handle is like saying we can stop a freight train by standing in front of it. We can be run down by life, God helps me find hope in the midst of despair, resurrection in the midst of death, joy in the midst of sorrow, peace in the midst of chaos. I find the inspiration to create a different world, one in which the issues we face so huge. Steve

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things -

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things -

For my post today, I would like you to read this article from our United Methodist news. Blessings, Pastor Steve

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Who is Joseph?

This week is a time to reflect on Joseph,the father of Jesus.We do not know much about him from the scripture except that he is described by Matthew, "being a righteous man" (Mt 1:19 NRSV). In those days if a woman was found to be pregnant out of wedlock, well that was not tolerated well by the community to say the least. Joseph,however did not automatically dismiss Mary in a way that would bring her pain, rather Joseph took time to contemplate another way, one that would be don quietly. Sometimes I give into the temptation to jump to quick conclusions without considering all the circumstances. Sometimes I get upset because of what I perceive to be the truth. If Joseph had considered why Mary was pregnant, and how that might have come about, he may of reached conclusions that were not true at all. Mary was unfaithful, she was lying, etc. I learn from Joseph to take time to reflect, to listen to the Spirit of God, and then act in a righteous way, a way that is just and honorable. How about you, what do you learn from Joseph?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Today is World AIDS day, a time for us to focus on this important issue. We may feel the enormity of disease, how many lives are lost, how many new infections, medicines that work for some and not for others. I think of the newly diagnosed and how their lives are changed when they receive the news of their blood test. I think of those who have lived many years, who have watched as their friends die and they wonder if they are next. I think of those who have no one to talk to about what it means to live with HIV, because they are afraid to let any one know. I think of organizations that do all they can to educate and support those who are positive and those who are family members, friends. I think of the funding that supports so many vital programs. I think of the person who is making a decision right now that will lead them to being infected, who is in denial that this will happen to them.
We cannot by ourselves find a cure, or remove the stigma, or provide services, or reach the isolated, but together we can do great things. Do not let the enormity of the issue cause you to be inactive, be an active advocate, start where you are, find out what organizations are in your neighborhood, find one way to be a part of the cure, part of the care, part of the advocacy. Together we can work to change the world by our efforts joined together with others.

Dear God, on this World Wide AIDS day on which we lift up all those who live with HIV or AIDS, we pray for strength for their journey. May each one know your love for them, how precious they are to you. We pray too for those who are working with those living with this disease, thank you for the researchers, the doctors, all the staff of the various clinics and service centers around the world who are on the front lines in the caring of those living with HIV/AIDS. We pray for their families and friends, their support is vital, and so we dedicate ourselves to being a part of this support. Help us break through our resistance, our preconceived notions, our prejudice so we might bring healing a reality for those who often feel isolated by this disease. Break open our hearts so we might pour your tender loving care on all who live with HIV/AIDS, we ask this in Jesus Name, Amen

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The journey we take is one we need to prepare for. In reading about pilgrimages, I notice the authors talk about what they bring with them on the journey, what advice they listen to, which they ignore. When I was a boy scout I went backpacking for a week. On the eve of this adventure we emptied out our packs and our guide discussed what was important, and what wasn't. I left behind almost half of what I packed. I was glad, because after a few days, those packs became pretty heavy. I could not imagine what it would have been like if I had all the extra stuff.
In this season perhaps we can lighten our load by leaving what is unessential behind, our fears, our anxieties, anything that weighs us down. One way to release these burdens is by opening our hearts to the presence of God in our lives and in the world. Look for signs of hope. See how God is working in the world today, and build on the belief that God is with us, Emmanuel.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The first week of Advent is about finding signs of hope in our world, my world. I want to make room for the message of God in this season and attempt to keep from trying to do too much. Too much means I will cause me to disconnect from the world, so I want to stay engaged, and still find time to let my soul catch up with all the activities I am doing. This means I can say no to some activities. So I need the guidance of God to see which ones are important, which ones I need to let go. This past weekend as I decorated the house, I let go of trying to do as much as I have done in the past, to keep the decorating simple, and throwing out or recycling old decorations and lights. The past week was very busy and so this week I have intentionally scheduled less to allow time to follow through on projects I had put on hold, as well as give some thought to the weeks ahead. Today, the hope I see is this less busy schedule where I can be a bit more relaxed about my schedule and allow the Spirit to refresh my soul with hope!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Moving to Sunday

Now that our annual meeting is done here at the church, I am focusing on Thanksgiving and advent. I have been reading the Journey by Adam Hamilton in preparation for the theme of Advent for our church. So I wrote a poem:

Amidst the rush of Thankmas
Tucked behind the noise
The small still voice calls.

Beneath the stacks of decorations
Hidden by all the lights
The small still voice calls

Beyond blaring music
In the simple harmony of life
A small still voice calls

The voice of the prophet brings promise
the voice of the angel brings truth
The voice of Mary brings faith
The voice of Joseph brings righteousness

All echo the small still voice of God
proclaiming the good news
the arrival of Jesus
and the promise of his return!

God is with us now!
God is with us always!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

As I write I am grateful for the wonderful worship experience we celebrated together yesterday. We had participants representing our committees leading worship, a visual reminder of how so many volunteer so unselfishly. We dedicated our pledges and after an early low count, this week we are very close to our goal for the new year. And we were able to have some great food during our after worship pot-luck.
Now I turn to preparing for our annual meeting, called a charge conference, on Tuesday. There is much to celebrate as we remember the last year, and all we accomplished, all we lived through. There are signs of vitality as we look around, we have new people getting ready to join the church, there are new people pledging their support both financially and serving as leaders. The future looks bright as we journey together.
I have goals to improve my leadership, and invite you to set a goal to grow deeper in your relationship with God. Together, under God's guidance we can transform the world!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Take the Risk!

I wonder where you will be tomorrow? As I travel to church I see people golfing, going to a shopping center, going to the gym, lining up for entrance to the fairgrounds for a special event, driving, walking, well you get the picture. People are doing many different things on a Sunday morning. I also wonder if they go to a place of worship. Maybe the service they attend are on another day or time, maybe they are going later that day, or maybe they do not go to worship. Then I wonder, what keeps them from worship, a bad experience, a lack of faith, higher priorities? And then I wonder if there is something God is calling me to do differently to reach the unchurched?
I spent a great deal of time talking to people this week, those who do not come to my church, I am listening to them, and to God's Spirit to see what I can say or do that might help them take the risk of coming to our worship service this Sunday. I don't know the answers, so I hope the dialogue will continue with those who have no church home and I might extend a word of welcome to them. For me I will be at worship tomorrow morning and invite all to join me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


In my daily practice of writing in the morning, I have been taking time to write a word of thanks to those in my life. I have included people I know in my church, my family, people who I stay in touch through the internet, and people who who are strangers but whose names show up in my life. I have noticed that starting the day with this simple practice has changed my whole attitude to the day. I am much more aware of the giving of others, I am much more aware of how much I want to give.
I am not sure if I can adequately express how taking time to give thanks for people, for the day, for the guidance of God is changing me, but I can sense the change. A job coach I was having a discussion with talked about how the big mistake a job applicant will make going into an interview. The applicant will talk about how much they need the job, how it would change their life etc. However, if an applicant can be clear about what they can offer to the employer that will help them, then people see the value of the applicant becoming an important part of the work.
Sometimes I forget what I have to offer is exactly what others need. I want to be clear about my giving for the transformation of the world, and how God is calling me to give all that I can so others will be blessed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Poem for Veterans

Upon the grave I cast
a sorrowful look

My heat aching for the loss
of a soldier so brave

My mind wonders, why? how?
of the life extinguished

I pray to thank the universe
for those who serve

I pledge not to use the freedom bought
carelessly, neglectfully.

To honor the one entombed, to
Echo freedom's call for those who
live in bondage.

Thank you brave one,
Thank you soldiers all..
SPM 11-12-11

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Operating in silo's

Yesterday I went to a homeless summitt, to examine how we can end homelessness. One of the speakers commented that organizations often operate in silo's, that is to see only their work and focus on only what they are doing without seeing the other work of countless other folks. So the result is that city angencies do not see the work of the county agencies, who do not see the state agencies, who do not see the fedral work, who does not see the world wide work.
As those who care about this important issue we need to work with one another, and for one another. Another speaker pointed out that people who are homeless have multiple issues that need to be addressed, but they should not have to go to one place to get food another to get shelter, another to get dental work. The systems are too complicated and the persons trying to change get frustrated.
I wonder how I can help, and what I need to change in my own life so I can help those who are homeless, and work for the prevention of homelessness?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


This morning I attended a Networking breakfast for Walnut/Diamond Bar businesses, I was the only church represenative. I wonder if I am able to really give referals, what "business am I in?" I do know we offer services such as baptisms, weddings, counseling, preschool classes, food for the hungry, clothes for the homeless, etc. But what is the business of the church? I refer to the mission statment of the church, " To Make New Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World". Would that be a selling point for business people to referr people to us? I really struggle with how to promote our work especially when we strive to be humble. In the end, I try to be present with these business folks, to listen to their struggles, to their dreams, and see what resources they need. Perhaps it is enough for them to know I am not there to sell them anything but to be present with them in the good times and the stressful ones. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

For all the Saints!

I am aware this day of the saints of my life, who gave of their love and care even when I did not appreciate or notice it. Today I want to listen to the world for the small still voice of God, to listen deeply beyond the usual chatter of the day. In my way to work I listened to the song, "You Are So Beautiful, To Me" and wondered if this was a gift from one of my saints, who said this to me before I realized it was exactly how they treated me. Perhaps then not only listening but responding to the legacy of the saints I will strive to let people know how beautiful they are.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I woke up with a sense of sadness that our bible study class, Jesus and the Gospels concluded it's 30 week session last night. I loved the study because of the people who were enrolled and the discussions we had. We wrestled with what the Gospel message has to say to us in our living. At the end of each session we were asked to reflect on the question: "Do you want to become His Disciples Too?". Even after the 30 weeks I am still wondering if I say yes, what am I saying yes to? I came to a new appreciation of the radical message of Jesus to live differently, to make different choices, to keep grounded in my relationship to him. This is a challenge for me because I tend to worry about so many things, and Jesus does not call me to worry about what it means to follow, what I am saying yes to, rather to say yes and trust in him to lead me. That is a life long journey for me to take, and I am glad for the class and their insights to what it does mean to follow, to have faith.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Today I am thinking about how my soul is nourished. I wrote this poem to express how I often miss seeing how God is blessing me with wisdom,

There is a well here

You and I can drink deeply
And find our sacred voice

There is a well anywhere

You and I can drink deeply
And find our own true voice.

SPM 7-31-07

Monday, October 24, 2011

I am celebrating the prayer book 40 days of Prayer for those living with HIV/AIDS, you can click the 40 Days link at the website. I have been writing poems for most of my life, but have not really published. So it is a honor to be published in this wonderful resource (day 16) especially since working with Strength For the Journey retreats have been such an important part of my life. Those living with HIV/AIDS have taught me so much about living. It is hard to put into words, I just know I would not be the person I am today without the relationships I have developed. I hope you will take time to pray through the 40 days using this resource. Even with all the advances in medication, people still are dying, even with all the education, people still become stigmatized, even with all the warnings people still take risks with their health. My prayer is that this terrible disease will be erased from the society, but until then will continue to pray, and support those living with HIV/AIDS with all our love.
Wandering through the wilderness dependent on God to lead them, the nation of Israel was on the move. In Deuteronomy 32: 11 the image of an eagle is used as a poetic image of how the people were dependent on God to care for them as they moved into the future. The people did always appreciate God for taking them out of the oppressive life in which they lived, often complaining they would rather be back to the old life, at least they were familiar with that lifestyle. I notice that as I stretch myself to grow closer to God and to the purposes of God, I often resist, I am too tired, too overwhelmed, too scared to try to change. In these moments I wonder if it is all worth it, maybe I was stuck in my life, but at least I was familiar with my routine. Ah the temptation to stay in a rut is overpowering my vision to change and grow. How about you? Do you find it hard to change, to be transformed by the complete dependence on God? I am going to stay awake to the temptations this week of staying stuck, of settling, of making excuses. Dear God, I dedicate this week to growing closer to you and to follow your call to transform the world. I pray for the strength to overcome the obstacles, and to refuse to give into the temptations of the world that distract me from your life. Amen

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Today is Thursday, I am aware that I missed posting yesterday, I was in a prayer meeting with other pastors of our community which was important. Most of the time I miss doing one thing because there is something else I see as important that draws my attention. However, I could chose to still make the post, to fulfill my obligations, if I was a bit more creative in how to meet the deadline. I could of gotten up earlier and posted, I could of posted the night before, I could of, but I did not. I made an unconcious decision not to value my writing as highly as other tasks. I wonder how many times I do this unconcious deciding, of prioritizing, of sometimes selling out to lower priorities just because they are more demanding at that moment in time? Just for today, I will be concious about my decisions, what I will do, what I will not do. Dear God, thank you for this day, thank you for your guidance in my daily living, I dedicate all that I do and say this day to your higher purpose of making new disciples for the transformation of the world. Amen

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jesus is often misunderstood, misquoted, and accused of being misguided, missing the point, and simply missing from the crisis of life. I know because I have often been missing a connection to the true and one Jesus the Christ, the good Shepherd, the Savior of the world. To follow Jesus means to be a life long learner, to dedicate time to study, to pray , to connect. I am often guilty of ignoring my spiritual life, in the name of getting stuff done. How can I really be an effective witness in my getting stuff done if I am not grounded in the mission and call of God? Well, I can find all kinds of reasons, I got up too late, I ran out of time, I have an appointment, something urgent came up. All of these excuses and more keep me from going deeper in my faith journey. I have renewed my vow and promise to God to make sure I start each day with devotional time. I wonder what I will discover? Dear God, thank you for you abundant love and wisdom, I pray for those in the world who need care, for those who die needlessly, those who are in pain. I dedicate myself to being an instrument of your care and concern, and open myself to your Holy Spirit to guide me in all the tasks of this day, Amen

Monday, October 17, 2011

I am back from vacation, and as usual work has not stopped cause I was not here! Some amazing things got done while I was gone, our church has a new parking lot, worship led by Rev. Jim and Arlene Brewster, my administrative assistant kept the office humming, the preschool had their open house/back to school night. It is a wonderful witness to the work of the church when the Pastor can be gone, and the work continues. I missed being here, yet the opportunity to celebrate a 30th wedding anniversary with my wife was a priority. We had a wonderful time in Hawaii, and had time to ourselves to talk, spend time walking and taking in the beauty of the islands. Now it is time to work. I started the routine on vacation to ground myself in the principle of D.R.I.V.E. as suggested by Michael Slaughter. D= Devotions,connecting with God before the day of work begins, R= Readiness, that is reading to promote ongoing learning, I= Investing in relationships, those people that guide, energize and challenge me, V=Vision for the future, looking at the world as God does, where are we going, how does God want us to participate in transforming the world, and E=Eating and Exercise. I have begun practicing these each day, to transform myself to be a more effective servant of God, I have also challenged our leaders to look at each of these areas and begin to ground themselves in these practices. We too often become stagnant, stuck, hopeless about the future and our role in it, however, the work of God can only be done by those committed to the mission of making New Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It is work that is worthy of our very best efforts.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Just back from the Bishop's Covocation after being filled up with information, worship, conversation, and of course food! What do I bring back to work on, to think about after this whole concept of changing the world. The United Methodist Mission Statement is: Make New Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Tranformation of the World. When we as church folk forget that mission, that purpose for existing as a congregation, we have strayed from the path Jesus wants us to walk. We are about change because we see the hurt in the world and want to do something to help, to transform the world into a place of peace with justice. If you are in church just to get your needs met, you will never experience the fullness of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Being a follower of the way of Jesus means bringing the good news into your daily living, to allow the Spirit of God to transform you so you can transform the world, which leads to others being transformed. Are you ready to change the world?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Swept away

The last two days have been very busy, I have been preparing for Bible Study, attending a prayer meeting for city pastors, participating in a men's club golf tournament, as well as house work, and taking time to talk with folks. Yet, my to do list seems to have only grown larger! All those things I said yes to meant saying no to other things. I feel the pressure of all those undone tasks burdening me. I feel swept away by the current of tasks done and undone, and I cannot seem to breathe. Til now that is, taking a moment to pause and reflect, to settle my soul in what I am experiencing, to release all of this to the Great Creator, so I can feel ready for what comes next is grace. God is waiting for me to slow all my frantic thinking, and guide me to what is really important. Dear God, I make choices every day that are important. Help me stay connected to you, even when I feel swept away, so I might stand still and be grounded in your presence. Amen

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday: Moving towards Sunday: Matthew 21:23-32

I always take the scriptures seriously, I even more take them seriously when Jesus addresses the leaders of the religious communities. I am aware of the multiple to do items on my list as I start this new week, meetings to be planned, worship to be created, studying for bible study class, visits to name but a few on my mind. In addition there are personal to dos that I need to get to as well. As I listen to the scripture for this coming Sunday, I wonder if I can keep from the trap of saying I will go and then relent, to do all the to do items on my list, especially those I have promised others I would do. I am not always able to follow Jesus clearly, to focus on being a disciple, of bringing good news when all the to do items keep dancing in my head. This week I pray for focus on being a bearer of good news, of discerning what God is calling me to do, and allowing all the noise to fade away as I work in the vineyard so I might be transformed by the Holy Spirit in all that I do. Dear God, I dedicate this week to your work. I open my heart to your Spirit to guide me to what I really need to do this week as I commit myelf to work in the vineyard. Amen

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guatemala Project Missionaries with us on Sunday!

Coming up on Sunday! Sharing God’s Love since 1992- Guatemala Mission Project A Program of Interfaith Action International, a religious non-profit organization The Guatemala Mission Project will be sharing on Sunday the 18th of Sept 2011. Before and after church, unique items will be offered for purchase. Made out of hand-made materials; purses, scarves, jackets, jewelry, etc, will be available. We thank you for your great support of this mission project affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Our vision is for Guatemalan Mayans to have a voice in their own future. We have been working in the highlands of Guatemala with the Methodist Church, serving primarily poor indigenous persons since 1992. We have taken 20 volunteer construction teams and six medical teams. Winter 2011 Jan. 21st to Jan. 31st A mission team of 12 people replaced a home destroyed by mudslides caused by hurricane Agatha in May of 2010 and installed 60 wood efficiency stoves. The new stoves only use 30% of the amount of the wood compared to their old stoves; they protect the environment, and improve the health conditions by reducing the smoke in the homes. Summer 2011 July 8th to July 25th, 2011 Two mission teams, with a total of 18 people, ages 11 to 86 worked together with local Guatemalans, replacing a home destroyed by mudslides in May of 2010 and installed 100 wood efficiency stoves in 50 individual homes. Each home that utilizes these stoves reduces their carbon foot print, similar to removing one car from the road. And improves the general family health and increases the family income. Winter 2012 We will be installing more wood efficiency stoves for indigenous women and replacing a home for mudslide victims. The mission teams will be Feb 3rd thru Feb 20. Consider being part of a team. Student Scholarships We have made the commitment to provide school scholarships to 72 children & youth. You may sponsor an elementary school child for only $75 a year, $100 for a middle school student, and $150 for high school equivalent. You may sponsor a particular child if you want. The scholarship provides for any school fees, books, school supplies, sometimes a school sweater, making it possible for very poor, often orphaned children to continue their education. To make this work possible, the Guatemala Mission Project visits churches in the district and conference, speaking and selling merchandise purchased from cooperatives and small family owned businesses. All proceeds from donations and sells are used to fund the mission program in Guatemala. For further information: Carol Conger-Cross, Program Director 619-248-2976 Project Email Web page:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday: " Our Prayer lives connect us to the rest of the body of Christ around the world, at any hour of any day.." Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Clairborne. Is there a right way to pray? Is there any wrong way to pray? Questions that I think about as I read this book. My guess is that as long as we take time to pray, and listen for God's wispers to our soul we cannot pray wrongly. And for different people prayer takes different forms, some journal, some walk and pray, some kneel, some raise their hands. The important thing is to listen for God's guidance, to empty ourselves from all the concerns on our minds and hearts, and then see how God is at work. Dear God, thank you for your Holy Spirit and the guidance you give us. Help me be aware of your presence this day and every day. Amen

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

After taking Monday to rest up from the busy week leading up to 9/11/11, I am back at work, today I am praying with the Preschool at their chapel time. On Sunday I talked about how our Grandparents can be a source of wisdom, especially when we find ourselves trying to make sense of tragedy. The wisdom of those who have lived through many changes and difficult circumstances, can help anchor us when life seems so chaotic. I give thanks for my grandparents, for the way they cared for me, and even though they are now gone from my sight, their love stays with me. When I eat a slice of apple pie, I think of my grandmother Whitter who was such a good baker. When I have a doughnut I think of my Grandmother Marshall, who also was a bible study teacher, and faithful lay speaker. When I see a farm I think of my Grandfather Whitter, and when I paint a room I think of my Grandfather Marshall, who painted and wallpapered many homes during his work career. I have fond memories of visiting them, of them visiting us, I cherish these memories. This week I want to offer the wisdom they taught me to the world. Dear God, help me find ways of sharing your love witht the world this week. I give thanks for those who have loved me, especially my grandparents. Thank you for the blessing of wisdom and may I be wise in all my work and play this week!Amen.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday: Our last day of the three day retreat for planning the liturgical year, from Advent-Pentecost Season. I am feeling more prepared for the year, interestingly Christmas Day and April Fool's Day are both on Sunday this coming year. I am thankful for thoughtful, creative, fun, and caring colleagues that help me discover what God is calling me to do and be as a pastor. Dear God, thank you for this time, help me stay connected to your guiding Spirit as I return to home and the responsibilities and relationships that await. Bless us all so we might be faithful to your Way in all we do and say! Amen

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I woke up this morning in pacific palisades and read : You are a love song beauty set to music You are a long song I have chosen you- Theresa Hucul Today as we discuss the themes of Easter, Pentecost, and Sundays in Advent, I pray I will sing in harmony with God's creation!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 , Today I attended a San Gabriel Regional Chamber of Commerce Networking breakfast and it was wonderful to see different business owners and workers come together to see how we can help one another serve the community. I met a personal trainer, a plumber, and several Doctors, all who want to offer quality service to clients. The church can be a resource to business for referels for those in crisis, those seeking to get married with counseling, and those wanting to connect with a place that lives out the mission of Jesus Christ. I then went in and picked up two chairs for our office donated by a friend of mine from college (talk about networking!) and am leaving for Aldersgate Retreat Center for a sermon planning retreat! Dear God, I dedicate to you my time, my focus, my gifts, my talents to your kingdom as I prepare for the coming year. Thank for friends who help guide me in your ways, and enable me to lead worship, and preach. Inspire us to make this world a better place where all your children can experience peace with justice. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


This week we are moving towards the rememberence of 911. As I look at preparing for the Worship for Sunday, I am asking for God's guidance. I am aware of the importance of the anniversary, I think of the countless of lives that have been changed as a result, those who are related to those who perished, those who participated in recovery efforts, the 1000s of lives lost due to the wars in Iraq and other places. What can we say or do that brings honor to all of this people?
I will be asking that question and hope you will too as we move towards Sunday. What is God's word to us as faithful Christians?
Dear God as we pause to remember this week those who lost their lives may you bring the families comfort. Inspire us to renew our efforts to bring peace to a hurting and chaotic world. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


What a wonderful Sunday worship experience we had today! We made the day all about celebrating working together as we serve God. I talked about my journey into the ministry and how important all the relationships I have been a part of in my life. I thanked my current leaders, and remembered those who have been there to share so unselfishly of their talents and gifts. Without them I would not be the same person I am today. I am so grateful for all who labor for peace with justice. I think I am going to find ways of continuing the thanksgiving to the important people of my life this coming week!
Thank you God for the blessings of my family, friends and strangers who have nurtured and guided me all these years. I am grateful for their love and care, the way they have challenged me to grow, and their listening when things are tough. Help me this week to find ways of honoring all of them! Amen

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The rest of the week!

So time goes by fast when I am working on planning for the future! I finished my preperation for our lectionary study group retreat next week. We are going through the scripture lessons for the whole year! I have the lenton season and have found a great resource for this year. I also prepared an in depth look at All-Saints Sunday, and will present that material as well. I finished the sermon for Sunday, then Friday took the day off and caught up with some reading. Then on Saturday went over to church to change lightbulbs with Joel, and cleaned up my office, went through mail that was put on the back burner while I was doing all the prep work for the retreat.
Tonight I am getting ready for Sunday, I am looking forward to a special welcome back celebration from the folks at Walnut, my 12th year with them!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Today started with watching my friends 3 year old daughter while he attended a meeting. I am ready for my nap, but alas, preparation for Bible Study awaits, as well as a premarital wedding appointment, and of course getting ready for Sunday, the newsletter went to the printer yesterday, we await the proof to be finalized. I worked on my planning for next year's lectionary study, year B starts in Advent.

Help me o Parent of us all, to work this day with you in my heart, Amen.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Today might bring sunshine,
Today might bring heat
Today might bring joy and laughter
or even a someone new to meet!

Today is full of possiblilities, and as I continue to work here in the office, I seek to be aware of God's presence in the present of this day!

Monday, August 29, 2011


Back in the Saddle again!
Monday is here and so I am off to work, time to get that newsletter done, the mail answered, and the mountain of papers off my desk! This is the last week of summer schedule, choir starts on Sunday, and Sunday School the following week! I am in the office with the A/C on, time for some music and work!

Dear God, as this work week continues, help me be open to your Holy Spirit, help me to share your love with all I meet this week, Amen.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Getting Ready

It is time to get ready for Sunday, it occurs to me that I have spent my whole life preparing for this moment, to worship, to preach, to pray with others. I have studied, worked, rested, prayed, journaled and now I am once again at the point of being fully what God has been calling me to do and be. Ready or not here I go!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


As I get older, I realize that life is full of failures, times when no matter our best effort, our best thinking, our best preparation, when everything goes wrong. In fact, I think why my daughter can do things on the computer that I cannot is because she is not afraid to fail, to click the wrong link etc. I want to make sure and don't explore as much because of the fear of failure. So, now I am changing my thinking and feeling as though it is okay to fail, as long as I do not run away from the failure. I have learned to learn from failures and although this does not always keep me from making more failures!
Also, failure is not always individual, when it comes to our kids, there is universal failure, to the docs who are not sure what to do, to the lack of research, to the lack of therapy, to the failure of understanding, and as a society we do not like risk taking. As parents of exceptional children, we call out for all of these folks to risk, to try new things, to try new therapies, and it is okay if they fail, as long as they keep inventing, creating, who knows what will lead to success? We may not even see the success now, but those who follow may learn from all we have succeeded and failed at.

Still recovering from the virus

I hate waking up and feeling ill. My joints hurt, my stomach is quesy and I have a lack of energy. Unfortunately the doctor can only recommend fluids and rest. I want to be able to do the work I know is waiting, but I can only manage a few things, before I am ready to rest. Pray for me, as I need patience to recover and heal.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday, Monday

Today I am home, I have been catching up on emails and reading. Summer has zoomed by and there has been little time to let my mind and soul catch up with all the experiences this year has brought. Today I am slowing down, and since a virus has slowed me down, it is a day to drink water and rest so I can be ready for the rest of the week.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Week Goes by Fast

On Wednesday, I spent time in the office and worked on Bible Study for that night. I am so grateful for this Bible Study Group that is in the midst of a intensive study. The insights and discoveries of who Jesus is and what we are called to do are a part of our gathering together. And on this day I was especially glad for a group that helps me discover my place in the world.
Thursday was Parent orientation for all our preschool parents, I wrote a welcome letter and distriubuted to all our parents. I chatted with several, one family has had 3 of their children in our preschool and now their youngest is attending, the Mom tearfully said, "This will be the last year, it is going to be hard to move on". School starts this Monday, so I expect many tears from those children who have not been apart from their families before. I know in a short while these same children will not want to go home because they have made new friends and have such a great time at preschool.
Friday was rest day, a time to reflect and get some household tasks done. Then it was off to the Hollywood Bowl for music and fireworks! What a great event.
Saturday is finalizing worship and the sermon for tomorrow, and then an Angel's Game with Mercy Me performing after the game. My daughter loves this Christian Band, so it should be fun!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Strength for the Journey

"Awake, awake, put on your strength" Isaiah 52:1

Camp is all about putting on my strength, being in nature, listening to the stories of campers who live with HIV/AIDS every day, the morning hikes and devotions, all of this gives me strength. As I come back down the mountain I want to be aware of the presence of God in my daily living, to be awake to the strength God provides! As I prepare for Bible study, and worship for Sunday, I want to be fully awake to God and to my brothers and sisters I walk this journey with.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Finishing up the week

In three short days I will go to camp for a week, so I have been preparing by working on a prayer workshop I will be teaching. Also, today means the end of the newsletter advertising specialist who leaves us and goes to work for another church next week. I served snow cones to the whole preschool, and it was fun to see each smiling face, such angels. In a little while I go to a wedding rehersal for a wonderful couple I have gotten to know. But first a hospital call for a member who had surgery. I will say this about the day, there was not a dull moment, no time to whine or complain, just being present to the various people who I interacted. Praise God who works to bring us together to work for righteousness and justice in a chaotic world!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Today is about networking with Chamber of Commerce members in the morning, working on a wedding for a couple from Cal Poly, to gearing up for snow cones at preschool. Tonight Bible Study. In the midst of the heat, the work of the church continues as we support those who struggle, and those who serve those who are in need.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Living with a disability

I attended the San Gabriel Valley (CA) Disability coalition meeting today. I learned new things and met new people who offer many services with those living with disabilities. One of the important points of the meeting was to remind us all, whether we are living with a disability ourselves, or advocate for someone who does, or offer services to the disabled, there are many different types of disabilities, from the person who is in a wheelchair, who has a very visible type of disability, to those who live with unseen disabilities, cognitive in nature. My daughter for example, looks like a typical young adult, but once she starts talking, you notice her speech delay. Sometimes those who have the more hidden disabilities can be treated with impatience and bullying. The last time we traveled we took a plane which is very full, and so we opted to board when the airline announced boarding for anyone who needed a bit of extra time. My daughter does need extra time due to her hidden disability but I wondered if the people watching us board understood this. I wonder too if there have been times I have been impatient with those who might not look like someone who has a disability, perhaps I have treated others more harshly than I might if the disability was apparent. How about you? Perhaps next time someone is acting a bit different than our expectations we might wonder if they too have a disability and we can be a bit more patient.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Spring Floods and Pastor's Schedule

Yesterday our church took a special offering for those who have experienced losses during the spring flooding. We do so because we care about those who are struggling in other parts of our country,people who are just like us, people whose stories have touched our hearts. Today I worked with our advertising salesperson who solicits businesses in our area to advertise in our newsletter. Our these two things connected? Well, by supporting our church newsletter, we can put out the word of what our church is doing. This news is good for existing members, so they can plan to participate in the programs and business of the church so we can be the best stewards of what God has entrusted us to do. And it helps us do the work of God in our neighborhood and world. In sponsoring our newsletter the businesses free us from the expenses related to the publication of the newsletter, and so we can use our resources for ministry and mission. In this way our businesses are our partners in changing the world! I wonder as I go about my work this week if I will be able to see how those in my life partner with me and others so we can change the world for Christ? Pastor Steve

Pastor's Steve's schedule the week for August 1

Monday; Office, Trustees Meeting
Tuesday: Queen of the Valley coalition for the homeless,Meet with Rev. Jimmy Nih Office
Wednesday: Networking breakfast, Office and Bible Study
Thursday: Office, Wedding Rehearsal
Friday: Afternoon Networking
Sat. wedding,
Sunday: Worship, Bible Study, Leave for Camp (August 7-13)

Thursday, July 28, 2011


What do we leave behind?

Our legacy, what we gift to the generation that follows us, is important to the world.
The bible is written so we might learn about how to practice what is important. How we make decisions with our time and money have implications for our living so those decisions are important. Lives can be changed, the world can be changed by how we live. Recently, one of our retired pastors from this Annual Conference died. Rev. Charles Dennis was someone I knew a little when I came into the conference back in 1984. But I came to know him much more intimately, when he was the tour organizer for the Journey’s of Paul pilgrimage my wife Linda, and I went on several years ago. I am grateful that Rev. Dennis chose to spend some of his retirement years, organizing these trips, because going to see Ephesus, Patmos, Athens and many of the places the Apostle Paul had visited in his journey’s was a life changing moment. To walk where Paul walked, to learn more about his ministry to read the scriptures in the places he refers to in his letters, all of this was inspiring.
I remember one important moment when we were by the same river in which Paul Baptized Lydia (Acts 16:11-15). We took a moment to reflect on the scripture and Rev. Dennis scoped some water from the river and poured it on my head saying, “Remember your Baptism”. I cannot really explain in words what that meant, to be connected by the ancient rite of baptism to a great company of saints, all I can say is it was a powerful moment. I will always be grateful for Rev. Dennis and his commitment to lead others in this pilgrimage, one of many he led.
I hope I make choices that help others come to know God, in the same powerful way I experience not just in Philippi, but here in Walnut. I hope by the words I speak, the actions I take the decisions I make, others will find God. I know there are moments when I fail, when I act not out of love, but out of fear and anxiety. I know there are times when I lose my cool, and focus, I know I do not live up to what God hopes I will do. Yet, I cannot give up, I feel the call to strive for making a positive difference in the world. I just hope that in my good moments others find a path to God.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wellness and the Abundant life

I am using the theme: The Jesus Prescription for a Healthy Life during lent. The theme is built around John 10:10, I came that they may have life and have it abundantly".
We are following Howard Clinebell's book; Wellness and the seven paths of focus that he suggests:
Enrich your spiritual life
Empower your mind
Love your body
Nurture your relationships
Commit your work to God
Take time to play
Cultivate a healthy planet
I believe God wants us to have abundant life. As I watch the news and read the blogs of those from Japan, I think back to the words of President Obama who said we sometimes have events that remind us how precious and how fragile life is. My life is a precious gift from God and I want to live as fully and joyfully as possible every step of my journey here on earth. We cannot always control or predict what forces will change our circumstances, but we can control how we respond, what decisions we make to live well. I pray for those in Japan who are enduring such terrifically difficult circumstances, I raise money to send to them, and I pledge to live abundantly knowing that in some small way my choices impact the health of the planet. Won't you join us in this pursuit?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Month of love

February is often referred to as the month of love, since we celebrate Valentine’s Day. We see stores decorated for this holiday, and many advertisers will be promoting the spirit of giving. In fact, our church is taking orders for flowers and See’s candies that you may purchase for that special person in your life. For me it is an opportunity to think about how love is present in the world, not just the romantic, tickle your toes sort of love, but the kind of love the hymn above talks about. I mean the love for those who hate you, the love for those who are suffering, or the love for the hungry, the harder kind of love. Love is not always easy; often we have to work hard to love others. We put ourselves at risk of being hurt if our love is not returned, or if it is taken for granted. Love for those who we cannot see, but hear about, those who live in different circumstances than ours takes effort to understand them and the love they need.
Valentine’s day is not just for lovers; it is also a day to celebrate love, and those who love even when it is hard to do. Consider giving the persons you admire a gift of love this Valentine’s day, a word of thanks, flowers perhaps, candy maybe, let’s make this a month to honor the presence of those witnesses to God’s way.
Pastor Steve

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Matthew 5:8

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

I play golf for those shots that are so pure, the ball goes in the direction I envisioned it going, the distance I was planning on, and the feeling that yes, this one shot is perfect. Sometimes I have that experience in worship, when the words come so easily, the point of the scripture becomes crystal clear, and their is a synergy between the congregation and me, it is a holy moment a pure worship moment. I think of this passage in that light, when I am pure in heart, it is a moment of deep connection to God, and to the world, it is a holy blessing. In that moment, all seems right with my life, and with the world. I live for those kind of experiences, and each time I come away with a sense of gratitude.
I am also reminded there are many other kinds of moments, times when I can't hit the golf ball anywhere close to the green, or fairway, times when worship seems to be going all wrong and the words weight I speak seem so disconnected and foolish. There are times in life when I feel all out of sorts, no matter how hard I try.
So I see this condition of being pure as a gift, a pure gift, if you will from God, these holy moments are a gift, given freely by a blessing God. Even in the times when I feel impure, God's gift purifies me, and makes me whole once again, restores my soul, inspires me all over again.
No matter where I find myself in life, this experience of seeing God is always possible, because God is forever blessing us, and making us pure, making life a pure blessing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Matthew Cont.

Wednesday for me is photo class time, I am learning about website design for photographers and lighting techniques. My mind is often overwhelmed by all the new information I get in one class. I struggle with learning the language of the computer and how to figure out how to do the things I want it to do. I often become frustrated and confused. However, the teachers here at the photo center are very patient, and because we have such a diversity of knowledge in the class, I know I fit right in.
I am blessed by new learning.
Sometimes the blessings I receive are not easy or smooth, often I have to work through my emotions to find the blessing. I am glad for my classes and the lessons I learn.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Matthew 5:1-12, Blessed

When I am poor in spirit, I do not feel blessed, I feel alone, depressed,and stressed. And if the passage stopped there I could feel a sense of abandonment. Where is God in the midst of my suffering, ah, read on...Blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted. Not maybe, but will be. I cannot always know what the future will hold, in fact I was just saying to one of our preschool staff:"Those who care about the world are sensitive to the suffering of the world all of our lives". Sometimes it is others we care about that suffer, that mourn. How are they comforted? By our caring for them, as the Spirit leads us. This is a great honor and sometimes a great burden, a part of the work of blessing the world as we have been blessed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Choices and Micah 6:1-8

I get real tired when I go shopping, it doesn't matter whether it is grocery shopping, mall shopping, shopping on ebay, it all makes me tired. I have come to realize it is because of all the choices, and making choices tires me out. I am not saying I don't appreciate the choices, or that there are simply too many and someone ought to do something about it, I just mean for me choices take work. I want to make the right choice, I want to have the satisfaction of making good choices that lead to long term benefits, I want to reduce the harm I might do on others if I make the wrong choice, and I want to maximize my resources to make the best choice. So I consider the choices, I work past my first instincts cause sometime advertisers can fool my brain into making the wrong choice. I think about the choice, do I really need any one of these choices or maybe I can live without the item I consider. Maybe there is a better price, a better option I have not considered. So, when bombarded by many choices, I tend to shut down my brain for repairs! I sometimes never make a decision because I get stuck in that considering mode. Sometimes this is okay, but most of the time pressure builds until I cannot bear it and I make a choice, sometimes good, sometimes so so, but I chose.
When it comes to faith, many choices come to me in how I spend my time in prayer, study, and service. It is often hard to chose and so I spend time considering but don't seem to be able to make a decision, and feel I miss opportunities as a result of spinning my wheels.
This year, I am tired of spinning, I want to be able to make more decisions and so I have given up on trying to make more decisions than my brain can handle all at once.
I am tracking my time finding out what exactly I do, and then see if these practices are bringing me closer or further away to God and living as a disciple. It is not fun being conscious of my choices, I see how I spend more time standing in the same place trying to decide, than actually acting. Or I see myself acting without focus and accomplishing nothing but expending energy. How about you? As I think about the the simple reflection of Micah: "O Mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" I want all my choices to reflect that I am following this call.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Jesus' baptism

The weather has turned from dark and gloomy, to bright and cheerful. The mountains are filled with snow and my heart is filled with joy! Or is that the coffee talking?
No, it really is joy, joy over being able to view the beauty of God's creation from my office window, joy as I hear the preschool children playing outside in the cool crisp air, and joy over being able to sit and study God's Word in a comfy office. I am thinking about the baptism of Jesus and in Matthew's version of the story, Jesus goes to John to be baptized and John thinks Jesus should baptize him instead. John wants to yield to the power he sees in Jesus. But Jesus wants to blaze a trail that others can follow, to provide a way for others to find a way to participate in being blessed by the Spirit, and working for transformation. Jesus is blazing a trail in the wilderness of life for others to find their way. The signs are there, as we walk the trail of our lives, Jesus has left signs so we can find our way, lighting the path when it is dark and gloomy, so our hearts might once again be filled with joy.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Good Morning, well except for the rain, and the cold it is a good morning, oh, and except for the problems voiced yesterday during prayer concerns, it is a good morning, oh, and those tasks that await me now that the holidays are done, a huge pile of stuff to go through, with the exception of those, and oh yeah, those things I should of done last month and now drag into this month, I think it is still a good morning. Oh, the golf game I was planing on playing was canceled cause of the rain, and I have not figured out why I am not feeling 100% yet, is it still a good morning?
Well, the church is dry today! No more leaking, the preschool is back in session and the rain has made a dent in our drought situation and the mountains will look great once the clouds lift, and I received good news from my friends on facebook, and I had time to read a bit today and my daughter's birthday went went yesterday, and the tea tastes really good and I am getting to plan for the month and now anticipate all that will unfold this month. Yes, it is a good morning, even given all those challenges which can cause me to forget all the gifts of this day. Thank you Lord, for the gift of this new day and all the blessings there in.