10Q10Q -- faith, life, rethinking church, following Jesus...stuff

Come join in the discussion of faith at the Koinonia Page where scripture and life intersect in conversation and exploration. Visit on Facebook, Twitter, and Dave's Web Page too! I'd welcome your company at Palmyra First United Methodist Church, where I hang out, too, come and see!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Re- Flect, Joice, New

Events collide begging for more.  Ferguson, MO.,  Advent, Thanksgiving, life with family and life with church.  It all crosses paths.

Today the Advent meditation above and the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote, to the left, drew me to the hope of  Emmanuel, God-with-us.  I am thankful that there is more than my mind and strength to bring peace & sense in a world that is too often distressed & senseless.

May you find hope and reason for thanks in the days ahead.  I pray that in some way I may be a reminder that God loves you and that I might be a part of the work that strives toward shalom, peace.

Blessings & 10,000 Joys in the Prince of Peace.

#Hope  #UMC #United Methodist #LiveLove

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Finding Peace

     A full three weeks of squeezing in required and important things between valuable and scheduled things has left me tired.  Peace sounds both good and near impossible on days like this.
     Snatching an email Upper Room I clicked on the bible link about Jesus' follower Thomas, who had his doubts. (John 20:24-29)  I saw myself.  Thomas was busy and "not with the others." He struggled to believe, wanting evidence, help, clarity.  I identified.
    A whole week, 8 days, a new creation, later Jesus provides for Thomas' need and says "Peace."  Jesus didn't say "do you understand", but "Peace."
    In that exchange I found peace too.  Grace to meet my need and a gift, a deep re-filling breath, an assurance... "peace."  That's a real gift in my morning. Thanks be to God.

Where do you find peace?

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Spirit Matters

“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you
see the Day approaching.” Heb. 10:23-25

“I went mountain climbing the other day and met up with some energetic students. When I thought I could not possibly go on, they shouted words of encouragement: “You can do it!” “You are one strong lady!” “This is nothing. You’ve made it this far; the worst is over.” At times, they burst
into song to boost morale. Together, we made it all the way.” (June 25, 2014 Upper Room)

You and I need encouragement! It’s normal; it’s a God-given need! Which means we need to be offering encouragement. It helps get’s the good and God things done while caring for people!

I am so proud to be the pastor of First Church. I watch as the Mission team includes new people and says
“way to go.” I watch K-groups press on caring for one another and say “well done.” I see our leaders add hours and prayer to their schedules in preparation for necessary renewal of people and place and say “thank you.” I see so much and want you to know.

Now is the season to encourage people. It’s a time when people may have different schedules and feel a little disconnected. It’s a time when new families move into neighborhoods and are looking for a loving and  encouraging church. It’s a time when youth are considering confirmation and few will do that on their own. It’s a time of joys & hurts…of life. Don’t miss an opportunity to encourage.

Within your reach are opportunities to notice and encourage with a word, with a note, with your presence, with your invitation… to name a few ways.

In a time that challenges the Church, Love and encouragement make a huge difference. Perhaps you will commit to encourage 1 extra person each day this summer.

Thanks so much for your faith, your servanthood, and for your presence.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

4 Perspectives on Right Answers -- Cynefin Framework

     Right answers are not always evident, right paths can always be found.
     I stumbled across Dave Snowden's 1999 work about the Cynefin Framework. It's a framework for exploring uncertain land. Cynefin is a Welsh word that Dave describes as  "rooted in many paths, of which we are only partially aware..."  He describes it best in the video to the left.
    In a time of change, right answers are not always evident, right paths can always be found.  Simplicity is indeed valuable, however it has dangers too.  
    I'm still processing this new information and seeing many links to my own life, family, church, leadership and path.  What do you see?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lean In

I was cleaning files and came across a gem saved.  Perhaps it will speak to you as it has to me.

"...have patience with everything unresolved in your heart
and to try to love the questions themselves 
as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.
Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, 
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer."
~ Rainer Maria Rilke "Letters to a Young Poet" (Letter #4)

Monday, March 17, 2014

God Beyond Conservative and Liberal

Worship began as she solemnly approached the altar candles and all was well in her act of service.  What the teen acolyte didn't see coming, what no one saw coming, was that with the next small push of the wick in the candle lighter, the wick would fall out, snuffing the flame.  With this just over the horizon, one candle was lit and the second one in that precarious moment of combustion uncertainty.  She lifted the lighter barely a few centimeters to check for candle flame, only seeing the glow had not yet transferred.  Thats when she extended the wick a smidge and it went out.

Well trained servant that she was, she pivoted without a flinch, to retrieve fresh wick and fire.  That's when we all saw it.  All, except the acolyte that is.  The candle flame snuck up from an invisible ember to complete the task.

That's the challenge of lighting candles with a lighter filled with an extendable wax wick.  If the handler is too conservative with the wick, tending the flame and extending wick life, the fire may go out.  Yet, if one is too liberal with the wick, extending it quickly and freely, ensuring the life of the flame, it can blaze unceremoniously, dripping wax, and burning excessive resources quickly.  Conservative can equal stingy and liberal can equal wasteful.  What's an acolyte to do?

The ember that mysteriously completed altar candle ignition, launching us into worship, suggests to me that there is a place of trust between liberalism and conservatism that brings me into God's very presence.  I'm prompted to ask, "Can there be too much love of God?" I consider, "Might love eschew extreme in favor of relationship?"  I'm drawn to wonder, "Dare I trust that the mystery is bigger than my certainty and my mistakes?"  Perhaps in this place of trusting relationship can grow mysterious light... loving light... divine light!

God is like that, and so I watch, trust and occasionally laugh.  Thanks be to God.

So how did you begin worship this week?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Africa Videos from A Colleague on the Trip

Here are some videos from the recent teaching trip to Meru, Kenya. 

  1. Graduation a
  2. Graduation b some good music
  3. Graduation teaching team singing
  4. Graduation preparing to give certificates
  5. Graduation mingling
  6. Graduation dancing
  7. Graduation first certificate given
What looks familiar to you?  What's different?  What is God inviting you to do/be/change in your life/ministry?

Friday, February 21, 2014

New Perspectives

     New places, experiences, friends and thoughts, give me new perspective.  I like that.  Being up close and personal with a giraffe or an elephant, with only a car door as barrier, makes me ponder the wonder of creation and my own mortality.
     I made the journey to Kenya to help, serve and teach, full well knowing that I would learn, grow and receive.  I've come to understand that new experiences are critical to my spiritual health, my ability to grow in compassion and my effectiveness as a citizen.   Why?  In each thought stretched, idea shared, personality encountered I'm reminded of the height and breadth of this world.  I'm tutored in justice, and mentored in communal hospitality.  I'm coached in skills to embrace the wonderful variety of people and paths in God's cosmos.  And, I'm invited to be uniquely me, while welcoming the uniqueness of others.  I am taught to love more fully, laugh at myself more easily and trust God more completely.
     Here are some familiar things I encountered from new angles.   How about the ubiquitous traffic jam... with livestock instead of cars.   Then there is the whole world of construction.  I've been on mission trips and renovated homes here in the states.  I've watched churches, stores and office buildings be built.  And, still, the hand poured concrete, and labor intensive forms built from tree-stick scaffolding, made me think again.
     I watched the news as the ICC held a trial for the Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki and listened to the perspectives of pastors and business folks from the country, all passionate, and many understandings.  Familiar differences emerged in a situation that appeared extreme to me...and so I listened, learned, wondered, talked... emerging a different person.  I'm not different by leaps or bounds, but by nuanced perspective and a broadened menu of experience on which to draw as I interpret the world around me.
      I am so blessed to receive the privilege of serving and traveling.  I am grateful for those around me who supported and encouraged this trip.  Thank you!   I know, in the adventure, I brought the gifts I planned to deliver:  teaching, encouragement, resources, neckties, friendship and connections of Christ.  I am awed by the gifts I receive:  friendship, teaching, encouragement, connections in Christ, and broader understanding of a world that doesn't look and function like my beloved home territory.  New perspective usually requires me to journey beyond the familiar and the comfortable.  When I do I find hope, promise and joy.  That's just how I'm designed and frequently how God works.

Watch for more pictures with commentary here.  Check out my Facebook for a whole collection of photos.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Familiar, Yet Different. An Invitation to Growth.

Splendid Starlings
 On safari these beautiful birds perched beside our van.  I asked our guide, "What kind of bird are they?"  Our guide-driver replied, "They're Splendid Starlings!"

Outhouse at Athwana teaching site
Splendid Startling is an oxymoron isn't it?  It certainly provoked me to thinking, "What are the new and surprising gifts and experiences in life that I dismiss because of experiences both previous and perhaps inaccurate?"

Kenya is filled with familiar yet different experiences.  Need a toilet?  No problem, it's there... familiar, yet different with it's concrete hole requiring personal supplies and accuracy!

Three Steers Hotel Addition in
Meru Kenya
Construction abounds in Nairobi, Meru, and in the country-side.  Need a new hotel?  No problem, local artisans can do that... and although available, it's familiar, yet different, with it's tree-branch scaffolding, and hand poured concrete filling build-as-you-go molds.

Left long narrow sweet potatoes, right
Arrowroot -- a little like Hawaiian Poi
Hungry? Hakuna Matata (No Worries)!  Chow down at the breakfast bar, it's familiar, yet different, with it's purple Arrowroot and unfamiliar sweet potato starches in the line-up between hard boiled eggs and bread.

Every traveler and student knows this experience of familiar yet different.   It makes us uncomfortably curious, me included.  It draws us in and makes us glad for home. (There's nothing like my own family and bed!)  It prompts us to press on into new territory, while leaving a trail that we can retrace back to the familiar and same.

The Splendid Starling became, for me, an icon of Familiar, Yet Different.  With it's bright colors standing in stark contrast to it's demanding and dull Pennsylvania cousin, the starling.  The juxtaposition invites me to journey and to learn.  I'm challenged to step out into the places where I notice first difference, and am consequently surprised by the familiar links to the trusted, comfortable places of my life.

I'll be writing and posting more about the sights and sounds from Kenya that goad me to greater growth and learning as I journey, a student of the Master teacher.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Life Learning in Kenya

This blackboard is an image representing my learning about life and the world here in Kenya.  Life, for me, is enriched engaging the Kenyan pastors and people.  Learning comes to life when life comes to learning.

My students amaze me with their eager spirits and persistent efforts to learn all that they can about teaching and about God. I'm teaching in a developing nation, to 22 men and woman whose lives are hard by any measurement.  Their tools are rudimentary, when they are available.  And, their call to serve God is passionate. This bouquet of hope-at-work draws me in and encourages my own spirit.

The blackboard on the left is old, worn and ready for class everyday.  It sits at the front of a shed-like wooden church in Murthura, Kenya. The chalk, although limited in supply, is freely given.  The teaching finds enhancement with student focus and participant willingness to jump into drama, experiential learning, academic information and practical application.  The blackboard leaps to life with the enthusiastic learning of the lives gathered.

Today my class served me black tea, instead of Kenyan tea (Kenyan tea starts as black tea a then mixed about half and half with boiled milk, then generously sweetened with unprocessed sugar), all because one person noticed that I preferred that yesterday at a meal.   What loving hospitality!

I can't help but wonder if I would be so dedicated in my calling if my context had half as many impediments and challenges as those attending my class.  I am reminded of how privileged I am to serve with a full complement of tools and support. My Kenyan experiences are inviting me to consider ways to more fully employ the gifts at my disposal and challenge others to do the same.

All these thoughts from a simple blackboard, a basic class, and the family of God.  I am blessed!  In all of this what gifts might I be treating as entitlements, instead of wealth?  I wonder.  How would you answer the same question for yourself?

For more about my trip, pictures and comments, check my Facebook page.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

God is funny sometimes... and always good... Check engine light on my car meant... I need a new engine! Yikes... but yeah, it's under warranty.... but yikes... I need wheels to get around... yeah, I get a loaner.... yikes, they are out of loaners.... yeah, they found one... yikes, it's a crew cab, 4 wheel drive, gas guzzling monster that doesn't fit in parking spaces... but yeah, it's what I'm driving when my Mom dies and I have to haul everything out of her room.. God is funny sometimes... and always good... provision in funny clothes. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. Always look for what's good and God and you'll see Love at work! Always!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks & Why I Have Hope for the Church

    Today my wife & I enjoyed Saving Mr. Banks (Movie Trailer) together at our favorite local theater, the Allen.  I enjoyed the Disney story, the human dynamics, and what struck me most deeply was the story of salvation.

     The title hints at "saving" and takes us to the wounds of families and life journeys. We see these wounds healed, redeemed, restored with a play-filled new vision of old pain.  This is the first layer.  The second, is the saving of a promise and vision, for Walt Disney himself. He honors a 20 year old promise to his daughters even when the challenges are monumental.  Still, what struck even more deeply for me was the metaphorical intersection of this movie and my life of faith, at the intersection of salvation.

     P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, touched me early on with the spirit of fearful propriety.  She held rigidly to a view of her book as it is, not fully aware of the sources of pain she hugged tight by her tenacious guardedness.  Likewise in her entrenched safety could she see the possibility of wholeness and hope.  The church I love, too often has those who don't dare embrace creativity, imagination, and newness.  I can only speculate at the roots and fears, but I feel palpably the persistent survival mentality.

    Walt Disney's spirit of play and possibility spoke hope to me and connected me to life-changing power almost immediately.  And set against Traver's reticence, it  felt remarkably like the tension between those who want to freeze-frame the church in a time recently past and those who dare to dream of a fuller future.

    I understand both fear and imagination.  I hold both within me.  In all fairness, I also have a predilection for creativity and play.  Owning that, what I saw in the movie became, in my experience, a metaphor of new wholeness for the church.  It may be difficult.  Certainly it will take relationship and effort.  Most importantly it can happen when imaginative, creative faith, like that of the God who imagined and created this world to begin with, is embraced.  What a celebration.

    Perhaps a new heaven & a new earth is not a magic kingdom, but it is a place of new happiness, new healing, new wholeness and new possibility.  That's what I'm looking for in my life.  It is my hope for the church.  (Can you imagine a place called church that is fun, freeing, and draws people?)  I believe that playful, creative, learning along with spiritual companions is what makes for a great church as we follow in the steps of Jesus.  What about you? What do you see?