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Monday, January 31, 2005

Harold Charles Schreck, age 96. Peace to his memory.

My great-uncle Harold passed away yesterday. Tomorrow I will go to his calling hours and then funeral on Tuesday morning. I'll miss him. He and my Aunt Wald were like extra grandparents to me. He and my grandfather, Julius F. Schreck were brothers.

Funny memories: When I was a kid they would sometimes babysit me. They had lamps that were shaped like potbelly stoves. We would take yard sticks and pretend to fish off the couch and cook the fish in the stoves. My imaginary friends Goldie & Joe also helped.

Also, Aunt Wald & Uncle Harold taught me to eat liver and stewed tomatoes. I don't think I've eaten them any place else since I was a kid, and if my mom would make it I wouldn't eat it. But if Aunt Wald cooked it, it was delicious.

I didn't know Uncle Harold was a Democrat or a Photographer. I remember him working for a photoshop when I was a kid, but I just thought he worked there. I don't ever remember seeing him with a camera.

He was a Yankees fan, but Aunt Wald rooted for the Mets. When she died 2 years ago, my cousin Tommy put a Mets cap in the coffin to be buried with her. I'll probably see the same tomorrow with a Yankees cap.

Uncle Harold died with only like half a lung. About 60+ years ago he had Tuberculosis and he was institutionalized in an sanatorium. Part of the treatment was the removal of portions of your lung but you were also institutionalized to quarenteen the sick. Imagine being in your 30's, happily married with kids at home and you get sick with TB, and have to be removed from your family for about 18 months. I think he stayed in the sanatorium in Saranac Lake, NY.

Unlce Harold and my Grampa Schreck were brothers, who married best friends: Waldemine Schreck and Jane O'Brien (my Grandma) of Rome, NY. My Grandma was a nurse at St. Luke's Hospital in Utica, NY where I was born, and Aunt Wald was a nurses aide there on the day I was born, March 19, 1967.

I remember going to Bingo as a kid where he and my Grampa would call the numbers. I remember playing Michigan Rummy with them and some of their friends while camping in Chenango Forks State Park. I remember him working the beer tent with my father, uncles and Grampa at the St. Joseph's St. Patrick's Church annual German Picnic. Lots of really wonderful memories. Until they were seriously elderly Aunt Wald & Uncle Harold remembered all my birthdays, Christmas, and other significant events in my life with a card and small monetary gift. Towards the end of his life he was mostly blind, but I could speak to him and he knew it was me by the sound of my voice. That made me feel good.

It's good to be part of a family.

Friday, January 28, 2005

ESV Bible Online: Home

I really like this translation. Even more I like the hardcover look and feel of the Bible. There is something about this text that draws me to it.


One page leads to another in this night of blogging.

Third Way Magazine

"Third Way is a magazine for people who haven't lost faith in God or lost touch with the world."

Postmission.com - An International forum on Christian mission in Postmodernity

Postmoderns and Evangelism.

Evangelical Missions Quarterly

Journal from the Billy Graham Center Home Page in Wheaton, IL where my beloved friend Lon Allison serves the world.

Evangelical Missions Quarterly - Book Reviews

Postmission: World Mission by a Postmodern Generation

Edited by Richard Tiplady. Paternoster Press, P.O. Box 300, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA3 0QS, UK and P.O. Box 1047, Waynesboro, GA, 30830-2047, 2002, 129 pages, £8.99/$15.99.

-- Looks like an excellent book about a decade or more late but then again, this is a synical Xer talking.

Generation X

Generation X: "Barna"

An old Gen X article but applicable. I resonated with these rules ...

New Rules
George Barna has gleaned a set of "rules" that define and direct youth of the mid- and late-90s:

Rule #1: Personal relationships count. Institutions don't.

Rule #2: The process is more important than the product.

Rule #3: Aggressively pursue diversity among people.

Rule #4: Enjoying people and life opportunities is more important than productivity, profitability, or achievement.

Rule #5: Change is good.

Rule #6: The development of character is more crucial than achievement.

Rule #7: You can't always count on your family to be there for you, but it is your best hope for emotional support.

Rule #8: Each individual must assume responsibility for his or her own world.

Rule #9: Whenever necessary, gain control and use it wisely.

Rule #10: Don't waste time searching for absolutes. There are none.

Rule #11: One person can make a difference in the world but not much.

Rule #12: Life is hard and then we die; but because it's the only life we've got, we may as well endure it, enhance it, and enjoy it as best we can.

Rule #13: Spiritual truth may take many forms.

Rule #14: Express your rage.

Rule #15: Technology is our natural ally.

Interesting Perspectives

Psalm 104
14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
15 and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man's heart.

Proverbs 3
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Proverbs 23
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who tarry long over wine;
those who go to try mixed wine.
31 Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup
and goes down smoothly.
32 In the end it bites like a serpent
and stings like an adder.
33 Your eyes will see strange things,
and your heart utter perverse things.
34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
like one who lies on the top of a mast.
35 “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt;
they beat me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake?
I must have another drink.”

Proverbs 20
20:1Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler,
and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

Proverbs 21
17 Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man;
he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.

Proverbs 31:4-7
4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
it is not for kings to drink wine,
or for rulers to take strong drink,
5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed
and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
6 Give strong drink to the one who is perishing,
and wine to those in bitter distress;
7 let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.

Thanks Luke. You encourage me to keep true to the Scriptures.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Welcome Fr. Vance Mann

Today has been the arrival of Fr. Vance Mann, Interim Priest at my church. He's busy unloading boxes and rearranging the whole office space. I like change so this is fun for me. I'm sure it will throw others into an anxiety attack.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

My Way - Weather for Black River, NY

I don't want to go to church tomorrow.


Wine Recommendations

A close friend of mine is a wine guru on the NYC circuit. He recently recommended these wines to me, none of which my local liquor store carries. Try them out and post a review here.
  • If you can find a good house of Ribolla Gialla (Italian White) you'll be impressed. Hard to find.
  • For the Syracuse area you might want to try Vernaccia di San Gimignano [sp], a splendid Italian White;
  • Verdiccio (Italian white);
  • Evolution (Oregon) fun white;
  • Aglianico del Vulture exotic Italian red (buy an early vintage, younger the better);
  • Lagrein (Italian Red from Trentino-Alto Adige);
  • Valtellina Superiore (Sassella, or Grumello, or Inferno) Italian red from Lombardia AWEsome.
  • Or Amarone, serious Italian red from Italy Veneto.

Welcome to Big Tattoo Wines

Here is today's wine selection. Review will be forthcoming later. I bought a 2001 Big Tattoo Red. Una producto de Chile. $8.99 + tax = $9.71.

The two brothers who make this wine, give .50¢ per bottle to hospice or cancer research in honor of their mother, who died of liver cancer. Even if it doesn't taste good, it was worth it.

A fable ...

I did my Clinical Pastoral Education at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida. I have one full basic unit. As I reminisced about it with a friend this morning, I was reminded of an old story I heard there ...

There once was a bird who was a little slow in getting started on his fall migration to the south. In fact, he waited so long that snow came. As he saw the snow begin, he decided to begin his journey to warmer weather.

After a few hours of flying in flurries of snow, it became dark and snow grew fiercer and heavier. It was that thick slushy kind of snow blown into a blizzard. The little bird was having a difficult time making progress and grew exhausted. But he could find no good place to land.

He continued onward using up every last bit of strength. Just as he thought he would give up and die in the snow, he saw a faint light way off in the distance. It gave him renewed hope and a spurt of energy. He flew with all his strength toward the light and as he came closer, he saw it was a barn.

Sapped of his strength and frozen, he flew into the barn, landed on a beam and collapsed. He fell to the floor that was padded by hay. Just then a cow dropped a load onto him. And that was the last he remembered until waking up.

As he awoke, he felt warm and glad to be alive. And after a few minutes of pondering his good fortune of having a cow poop on him, he began to feel his pile shake. Something was digging him out. "Excellent!" he thought to himself, "First the cow saves me, now someone is setting me free!"

But it was a cat. The cat dug him out and immediately ate the bird.

The moral of the story: "Those that sh*t on you are not always your enemies and those that dig you out are not always your friends."

International Association for Theophostic Ministry

There is a Public Directory to find a Theophostic trained minister near you. Surprisingly enough they even had one here in the North Country.

Theophostic Prayer Ministries

I have a very well respected colleague that is finding personal and professional benefit from Theophostic Ministry. I just finished reading Ed Smith's book Healing Life's Hurt's Through Theophostic Prayer. You can get the book FREE.

Despite it's odd name, it's really a pretty simple approach to ministry and requires very little training. The ministry relies on Jesus to heal. Hmmmm ... that sounds Biblical.

Certainly if you Googled "Theophostic" you would find plenty of groups — mostly fundamentalists with too much time on their hands — bashing it.

Ananova - Scud missile for sale

A ministry tool for dealing with difficult parishioners and rival churches.

The Karl Show

Karl's post on Jan 19 of "The Devil's Bible" is very funny.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Churches Seeking Staff

Currently 38 Senior Pastor and 45 staff positions available in the Evangelical Covenant Church. If I remember correctly, one of the last 2 Covenant Companions listed 10 or 12 ministers resigning without a call. That combined with North Park Seminary seniors and other pastors seeking a call, the job market is a tough one at the moment in the Covenant Church.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Youth Group

20 teens at youth group last night. Played dodgeball with basketballs for about an hour. (note to self: get playground balls.)

What great kids ... just really, really, super. They were polite and respectful to adults, did their best to pay attention for devotions, no swearing, were basically good to each other, just great kids!

And great helpers too ... Jeff & Carmen, Mikey, Jack, Mary, Kate, Tom & Peg ... super people. Absolutely my privilege to go to church with these people and be their pastor. I should pay them. No joke. They are total quality.

We're planning a dodgeball tourney with other youth groups for April. Going to be fun.

Wine Update

There was a very interesting article yesterday in the Watertown Daily Times about growing grapes in the north country, which is not an easy task. The U of Minnesota developed the vines that are used here which can withstand the harsh winters. Wine making is growing in popularity here as it is in many places.

Some farmers whose land has gone fallow are not converting to growing grapes. There are several small vintners in the north country, who do don't grow enough grapes on their own, so they are either importing or buying from other local farmers.

Interesting fact from the Watertown Daily Times, 01/16/05: It takes 4 years for a vine to mature enough to produce grapes for wine. One vine produces about 1 gallon, which results in 5 bottles of wine. The article mentioned one man having 400 vines on an acre but he wasn't a vintner, just a grower and selling the grapes. But if he were a also making wine, let's do the math: maybe about $15 a bottle, $75 a vine, $30,000 an acre ... minus expenses, of course, and time and labor. Still, it could be a nice side income.

Here are my recent wine samplings ...
  • Copolla Rosso - a resounding "YES!"
  • Copolla Bianco - Excellent.
  • Yellowtail - Nice logo and bottle. Quality wine that just didn't do it for me. My kids liked the yellow cork.
  • Swedish Hill Red - Beautiful Christmas label, excellent after the holidays price. That was about it.
After reading the WDT article I'm going to go try out some of the north country options. Stay tuned.

Yesterday's sermon

Yesterday's sermon was about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. My main point:
  • Jesus went places and talked to people he wasn't supposed to for the sake of the gospel. He was politically incorrect.
Who are the Samaritans in your life? How do you bring the love of God to them?

(The actual lectionary text for the day was from John 1. I hate preaching from John 1. I like reading and thinking about it, but it just never translates into a sermon for me. So I used the text for evening prayer.)

John 4:27-42
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Saturday, January 15, 2005


Apple Stock @ Yahoo

It was 1994. Dan Ferguson and I watched Apple's stock continue to plummet to about $12. We knew what Wall Street ignored. Apple was never going under. Ever. Wasn't going to happen. At the time, 75 percent of the computers built in the 10 years prior were STILL IN USE! Microsoft was making money off of them. They had a small but hugely loyal following, with a name recognition in the top 5 of the world. Still had hundreds of millions in the bank.

I, on the other hand, was flat broke. My wife, Alyx and I paid our tuition monthly so as to not take out a loan. We ate home made pizza without cheese. Lots of baked potatoes. We had absolutely nothing. Neither did Dan and Ann Mary.

Dan and I debated and schemed for quite some time about how to take out a student loan and buy Apple stock. We knew it would go up and we could make a fortune.

We graduated in 1995 and took pastorates that did not pay us well. New things took our money like children and stuff.

One year later, Apple was under $10 a share briefly and then solidly under $10 in 1997. Dan and I would talk on the phone and laugh about how we should really buy now. But we never did.

In the spring of 2000 it hit $150. I often think about the tens of thousands of dollars we missed out on. And I think of the $47 a share that could have been made when Apple hit $70 recently after being $23 a share last January.

A little smart investing and I could have stopped working for churches with money problems a long time ago.

"God helps those who help themselves"

Subtitle: "What a bunch of crap."

That was part of last week's sermon. It's a lie. It's not true. The crux of Christianity is that God sent His son Jesus to live and die and rise again for a people who could not help themselves. Humanity has a sin problem that separates them from God and pains Him so. God desires the problem fixed, so HE FIXED IT because we could not.

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he helped someone who could not help himself. Whenever Jesus healed anyone, he helped someone who could not help themselves.

But even in a more day to day sense, it's simply not true. Even though we know about grace, we still think we have to work with God, or give him our best effort for Him to bless or provide for us. That's just not true.

This point was driven home for me recently.

A couple weeks back I was feeling anxious about my finances because of my job change. I now work half-time for the Steve Wingfield Evangelistic Association and Trinity Church. This will mean a pay cut for me. Not a drastic one at all, but still a cut none the less. So I was anxious.

I was worrying in the car one day and mulling over how I could come up with some more money. Ebay always comes to mind. (I think pretty soon I am going to start selling spiritual advice on Ebay, but that's for another post on this blog) All sorts of thoughts run through my head about other jobs, selling things, and other semi-legal/ethical options.

And as I start to pray about it, I sense God reminding me that He doesn't need my job to provide for me. But I momentarily start to argue, which is always a dumb thing to do with God, and say, "But I have to do something." And the point was No, I don't have to do something. God is plenty able to provide without me doing a thing if He so chooses.

And for a moment I just let it go and had a sense of peace, as I remembered that God is the provider for my family. I am not. And he doesn't need my job to do it. So I let it go and stopped worrying for the day. That was the morning.

That afternoon a friend of Alyx's stopped over and gave us a Christmas card. She chatted for a few minutes and left. We opened the card after she was gone and there was a check for $500 dollars in it. I was in awe.

This couple is not of great means. They are a military family and he flies Blackhawk helicopters. They are Christians and were just led by God and concerned about our finances. An incredible blessing!

But immediately I knew this God's provision for us. And He drilled his point home to me in such a loving, gracious fashiion as only God could do.

Thanks be to God my provider.



Planting a new church every six weeks?!?!? That's what it says. From ZERO to SEVENTY churches in 5 years. It would seem that a denomination like ECUSA, who is hemorraging members at a prodigious rate, would embrace the AMiA if for no other reason just learn from them. But if I understand this matter correctly, the AMiA is another instance of bajulgating one's crozier, and that never makes anyone happy. See my July 12 post if you don't know how to bajulgate — it's fun but be careful. When you start messing with a crozier, it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Proverbs from my wife

"If you're not specific with the Lord, you end up in Watertown."

Monday, January 03, 2005

New Job

I have new work as a covert agent for Christ, while still working p/t for Trinity. I'll keep you posted as this exciting event unfolds.

***** edited 10/27/05.