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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

VirtueOnline - News - Islam, Persecution & Culture Wars - Sexual Sin Is Never Just a Private Matter - by Alan Medinger

Alan Medinger writes an excellent article about how sexual sin impacts not just the individual but the whole body of Christ. I'd push it a little further: isn't this true of all sin?

There is poignant proverb about adultery in Proverbs 6:27 & 29 "Can a man scoop fire in his lap without being burned?" "So it is with he who sleeps with another man's wife. No one who touches her will go unpunished." But isn't this true not just of sexual sin but all sin? And related to Medinger's article, the truth is that a man who scoops fire in his lap burns himself and pains and damages the entire body of Christ.

VirtueOnline - News - Islam, Persecution & Culture Wars - Sexual Sin Is Never Just a Private Matter - by Alan Medinger: "Our sexual sins hurt the entire Body of Christ. Most of us recognize that when we engage in sexual sin with another person-even a very willing one-we have hurt that person by helping to facilitate their sin. But even our 'solitary' sins, such as sexual fantasy or lusting in front of a computer screen, do damage beyond just the corruption that takes place in our own souls.

Western culture is individualistic to an excess.* And addicted people tend to be self-focused to an excess. (I recently heard a well know speaker and writer in our ministry refer to homosexuality as a branch of narcissism.) But we're not just individuals, we are a part of a body-the Body of Christ, and our excessive self-focus is destructive to others. There is no victimless sexual sin. Every sexual sin hurts the Body of Christ, and thereby, the culture in which we live."

Faith Formation

I found a couple of interesting sites to help me in training up my children in the way they should go. Two things I'm going to begin working with them on lately are the church year and the creeds.

Church Year
Many evangelical groups ignore the church year, and do so to their detriment I believe. The church year is a way of orienting one's life around the life of Christ. It helps us focus our hearts and minds on Jesus and celebrates his life, death and resurrection. I guess it's not for everybody but it works for me.

If you are in a more liturgically oriented church, you'll notice the change in the colors of the priest/minister's garments and the paraments or clothes that adorn the communion table or altar as the church season changes. Here is a good visual chart to show the changes. Notice in the right hand column there are also pages that gives the meaning behind the colors, an explanation of the church year, etc.

Here's a page dedicated to Teaching Liturgy to Children with some helpful information.

I found this site with information about the creeds of Christendom and even shows them in their original language.

Nicene Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Marriage Encounter @ The Good News Foundation

The Good News Foundation is located at 10475 Cosby Manor Road in Utica, NY and is hosting a Marriage Encounter weekend on September 15-17. My wife and I are going. You can too. I can get you in for free. Just let me know or contact Good News directly: 315.735.6210.

See their events calendar for other upcoming events. They also are hosting a Engaged Encounter Weekend and a Retrouvaille Ministry for marriages that are in deep distress. Mike Buckley is the Executive Director and good friend. The staff and Mike's wife, Andrea, are wonderful godly people -- angels from heaven.

The chapel there also has a new icon that is simply marvelous and will be dedicated on Thursday, September 14th at 6:30 pm.

Fr. Clay's Healing Art

My beloved friend Fr. Dick Clay is a poet and artist. His artwork will be on display at the Salmon River Fine Arts Center, 19 Lake Street, Pulaski, NY on September 10th, 1:00 - 3:00 pm.

Technology & Widsom

Digital Camera & Photography» Blog Archive » 25 things you must know before buying digital camera.

About Batteries: Tips on Longevity and Reviving the Dead - New York Times.

Discovery Channel :: News - Technology :: A Windmill for Your Backyard?. Depending on what kind of new home I get, I'm going to get me one of these. Probably if I'm in some surburban tract development, nobody is going to dig me having a windmill. There's always someone to be miserable about such things. However, if I get another gig like I have now -- semi-country with some property, I'll definitely have one. I figure I'll eBay some of my extra stuff over a year's time and have the cash.

9 Bittorrent how-to’s at Torrentfreak.

Wisdom for the day ...
Having problems with ant hills in the yard? Sprinkle some grits in the yard. The worker ants take it back to the queen ant. She eats it and then takes a drink. The water makes the grits expand, she dies and the colony is done.

Parkside Covenant Church

Parkside Covenant Church is located in Clifton Park, NY. Looks like a dynamite place to go to church. They have a MOPS group which says a lot right there.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

ChurchStaffing.com Newsletter: Pastoral Ministry

I am reprinting wholly the recent newsletter from churchstaffing.com about clergy retreats.

Let me ask you. Do you go to church? Consider going to your church leadership and let them know there are free clergy retreats available for pastors. Ask them to send your pastor and spouse and not count it as part of his vacation.

The stats are staggering. Pastors are leaving ministry or dying there. Do you part to minister to your minister.

Healthy Pastors = Healthy Churches = Healthy Communities
Betty Mulloy

It could have been the downtown in any small city, a place of transition where many cultures meet and people learn how to live together:

  • Pre-school children romped in an enclosed playground…
  • A group of developmentally disabled adults boarded a bus….
  • Members of an AA group assembled for their weekly meeting….
  • An elderly gentleman walked into a free dental clinic…
  • On her way to work, a middle-aged woman escorted her mother to senior day care…
  • Unemployed men and women finished a free, hot meal with full stomachs…
  • Parents received much needed clothing for their young children…
  • A recently widowed woman obtained helpful counseling.

The venue for these acts of service might surprise you. All took place in various local churches in a single southeastern Wisconsin community.

The churches represented here are not mega-churches. In some ways, they are congregations in transition. Their architecture reflects the stately traditions of many years ago, when the wealthy and successful members of the community built beautiful houses of worship. Today, those benefactors are long gone, the sanctuary may need a fresh coat of paint and the pastor wears many hats. But each of these congregations is actively and creatively carrying out its God-given mandate to love and to serve.

Who leads these communities of faith and outreach? An African-American man in his 30s called into ministry from a successful career... a bilingual pastor who conducts services in both English and Spanish... a woman and her husband who each pastor a different church... an elderly priest who moved from a larger congregation to a place where he could directly make a difference... a bi-vocational minister whose other part-time job helps his family make ends meet.

Opportunity and Challenge
A quick look at the
American Church reveals a culture in change. Research identifies several major trends that provide both opportunities and challenges for local church pastors:

  • Churches are either getting smaller or larger. According to the National Congregational Survey, 71 percent of U.S. congregations have fewer than 100 regularly participating adult members, and the median congregation has just 75 regular participants. Only 10 percent of U.S. congregations have more than 350 participants — though those congregations account for almost half of all churchgoers.
  • Rural churches face special challenges as increasing numbers of people move to urban areas, taking their financial resources with them. As a result, many rural churches have difficulty finding full-time pastors.
  • George Barna (The Barna Update, October 10, 2005) has reported that more than 20 million adults throughout the nation are “revolutionaries.” In Barna’s words, “These are people who are less interested in attending church than in being the church. We found that there is a significant distinction in the minds of many people between the local church — with a small ‘c’ — and the universal Church — with a capital ‘C’. Revolutionaries tend to be more focused on being the Church, capital C, whether they participate in a congregational church or not.”
  • Clergy are leaving parish ministry in greater numbers and after shorter tenures, according to a 2005 report by Patricia Chung for Pulpit and Pew. The average pastor changes assignments every three years and has little opportunity to advance to larger, more prestigious positions because comparatively few are available.
  • The average salary for pastors of congregations with less than 100 members is $32,500 (Christian Ministry Resources report, 2004).
  • According to H.B London, Jr. and Neil B. Wiseman, in their book Pastors at Greater Risk (Regal Books, 2003), 90 percent of pastors feel inadequately trained to cope with ministry demands, and 70 percent do not have a close friend.

The Need for Retreat
In the face of these challenges, we nevertheless find thriving pastors building strong communities of faith and outreach. They and the people they lead are learning to be the hands and feet of Jesus. By building relationships and meeting the practical needs of others, they bring hope and opportunity to the poor and marginalized of their communities. They inspire, teach, preach, support and walk alongside people in every circumstance of life.

In the healthiest congregations, parishioners share the work of the church, learning to minister to each other and their neighbors. Compassionate outreach is the work of the entire congregation, not just the pastor. The marginalized find a place to belong and opportunities to make meaningful contributions to others.

Healthy churches play a major role their communities. And it takes healthy clergy to lead healthy churches. Pastors who serve long and well cultivate healthy habits: regularly scheduled time away from ministry responsibilities, a commitment to build their marriages, accountability with peers and other practices that meet their personal spiritual needs. In essence, healthy pastors minister from the overflow of their relationship with God, and they value that relationship as their number one priority.

How, amid the demands of a busy ministry schedule and family obligations, can clergy maintain and deepen their personal relationship with God?

Without question, commitment to regular times of personal retreat is among the most important contributors to pastors’ spiritual health. Pastors must take time away to refresh their spirit, reconnect to God and regain (or reaffirm) their passion for ministry.

It’s a bit like the speech that air travelers hear before take-off: “Put on your own oxygen mask first, and then help others around you.” Spiritual retreats (as contrasted with conferences, meetings and denominational gatherings) are one way pastors can “put on their oxygen masks” — listening for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit in a setting designed specifically for that purpose.

Keys to a Successful Retreat
What does a successful spiritual retreat look like? Extended time away (a week or more) at a cottage in the woods, the mountains or on the shore may be helpful for some. For others, time in a monastery, either in silent retreat or a guided retreat, proves useful. Several fine retreat organizations cater specifically to pastors and Christian leaders who desire time away to seek God.

Whatever the setting, the key is to follow a good plan, use appropriate resources and maintain the proper frame of mind. In every case, the most important resource is the Bible. A personal journal is another indispensable tool — essential for recording observations, insights, decisions, questions and other “outcomes” of the time away. And for the duration of the retreat, the pastor must unplug from the stresses and demands of daily life, choosing instead to truly listen for God.

Through retreat, pastors learn to leave the church in God’s hands — it’s His anyway — as they discover experiences and personal reflections that draw them closer to God. Some pastors hear God most clearly while fishing on a lake or hiking a trail. Others find him in the quiet, or in the details of creation. For some, music is a key element. And some need to process the journey with others of like calling or with the help of a trained counselor or spiritual director.

While the specifics will vary, none of this will happen in the neighborhood coffee shop!

Finding Your Place
Where can ministers go to find such a retreat?

Pastors Retreat Network is one option. Our nonprofit Christian ministry provides pastors and their spouses with a Christ-centered, true retreat experience that helps them lead their congregations into deeper relationship with God and greater service to their communities. The self-directed spiritual retreats occur in beautiful settings that are conducive to practicing the spiritual disciplines — including prayer, meditation, reflection, re-creation and rest. Guests select from several programs that provide starting points for their journey with God. A daily community meal, facilitated by experienced program directors, provides a forum for discussion and processing the experience. Each participant has complete freedom to pursue God wherever and however He leads.

The experience is free of charge for both pastor and spouse — a generous gift from individuals and organizations that love pastors and understand the community-changing impact of a healthy, vibrant pastorate. Each guest enjoys a beautifully appointed room with private bath at secluded locations in Wisconsin, Texas or Ohio. All meals and program materials are provided.

To learn more about Pastors Retreat Network’s programs and services, request a reservation, or make a contribution, please visit www.pastorsretreatnetwork.org.

For other retreat options, Google “pastor retreats” or check out Focus on the Family’s online listing of other retreat organizations. The Christian Hospitality Network also has a helpful listing of inns and bed-and-breakfast facilities that offer discounted rates to pastors and missionaries.

Betty Mulloy joined Pastors Retreat Network in 1998 after more than 20 years in human services. In her current role, Betty trains and supports program staff, oversees program quality and the development of new sites, and coordinates the marketing and fundraising aspects of the ministry. Betty is a graduate of Lakeland College and is pursuing a Masters in Spiritual Formation and Leadership through Spring Arbor University.

Esquire Minister

Speaking of learning something new here is a job listed for "Esquire Minister". What the??? I'm guessing it's not related to the fine magazine by a similar name. I googled it and came up with a whole lotta nuthin'. Has anyone ever heard of a position ina church called Esquire Minister?

Pastors Retreat Network

Here is a very important ministry to ministers. It's a retreat ministry for clergy and it's free.

Several years ago I attended the Stress in the Ministry retreat at Sagemont Church in Houston, TX. It too was free including airfare but you were on your own for lunch. Dixon Murrah (pictured at the site) was there and he told me he loved me shortly after meeting him. It was there I learned a lot about loving unconditionally. I learned to love someone and express it even if I did not know them well.

Shelter in The Storm

I think I may have posted this previously but here it goes again. Here is a list of allegedly "safe" Anglican style worship churches. "Safe" means worshiping with the Book of Common Prayer, are "episcopal" meaning "with bishops" and theologically orthodox, meaning evangelical, Anglo-Catholic or just plain Catholic. Some are charismatic and some have a contemporary music.

These churches come from a variety of backgrounds. Here is the list:

AANF - Anglican Alliance of North Florida
ACC - Anglican Catholic Church
ACA - Anglican Church in America
AMiA - Anglican Mission in America
APA - Anglican Province of America
APCK - Anglican Province of Christ the King
ACCA - Antiochian Catholic Church in America
ACN - Anglican Communion Network
AOC - The Antiochian Orthodox Church
CEC - Charismatic Episcopal Church
CEC - The Christian Episcopal Church
CEEC - Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches
EMC - The Episcopal Missionary Church
GOA - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
DHC - Diocese of the Holy Cross
LCMS - The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
OCA - Orthodox Church in America
PNCC - Polish National Catholic Church
REC - Reformed Episcopal Church
RC - Roman Catholic Church
ROCOR - Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

I asked the web site moderator why the Polish National Catholic Church was on the list. I received a gracious response addressed to "Fr. Steve" which I thought was kinda cute.

They are Catholic but not Roman Catholic. They have a Prime Bishop, have apolistic sucession, their priests may marry since the early 1920's, and each congregation owns it's own property. The PNCC formed in Scranton, Pa in 1897. Worshiping with them would be the same as worship in a high Anglican Church. Most of the ones I know of use the 1928 BCP. I can not say for all of them. Some may use the 1662. The Polish people in America were behind their becoming organized, and the language used depends upon the nationality of the membership in their area. Over all, they would be a wonderful place to worship and anyone who loves the Anglican style of worship would feel very much at home.

I hope that helped explain some about the PNCC, I'm sure if you look at any of the websites listed in the Shelter list, you will probably learn a lot more. Their website is http://www.pncc.org/ it will tell you only slightly more then I have, which is why I recommend a look see at Parish sites.
Learn something new every day.


Have any of you my beloved friends used any of these sites to down mp3's?


MP3 Download, music mp3 downloads. ALLOFMP3

They're talking like 10 or 15 cents a song. I didn't see Bob Seger at iTunes and wondered where else I might find him and stumbled across these places. I can't find any place that calls them a hoax or dangerous to use with your credit card. Do you know anything about them?

Bibles for the Middle East

I'm passionate about getting a Bible into the hands of every person on the globe. I love Bible ministries. I got my first Bible from The Gideons. They stood just off of Liverpool High School property when the busses were leaving. The busses would stop at the stop sign and the Gideon's people just pumped those orange New Testament's into the bus. Many of those immediately became weapons or projectiles. I kept mine and signed it after I received Christ. It was life to me for the longest time. My life was messy and I frequently re-read Psalm 51 over and over again, repenting of the latest mess I had gotten my self into.

Today I came across another ministry getting Bibles into people's hands. Bibles for the Middle East is part of Campus Crusade for Christ's International Ministries. They're asking for support.

House2House Ministries

The house church is making a comeback. The same couple that runs the Generous Husband/Wife sites also run House2House Ministries a site dedicated to house churches. I have mixed feelings on these ministries. On the one hand Christianity is flourishing in other parts of the world through home churches and certainly the early church began this way. On the other hand I believe in the offices of bishops and priests and the need for accountability. Hmmmm. But I'd still like to start a house church and see how it goes ... kinda like an ecclesial experiment.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fr. Doug

Fr. Doug Taylor-Weiss is an acquaintance of mine and has a blog. He is a faithful priest in the Episcopal Church at Sts. Peter and John Church in Auburn, NY. Auburn is a small city just west of Syracuse.

One of Doug's recent posts was posted and commented on at Stand Firm. Interesting discussion. Stand Firm is a site dedicated to "Traditional Anglicanism in America".

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Obituary Listings: Elizabeth C. Thompson

I get to be a pastor again this week. I'll do the memorial and graveside services of Mrs. Thompson on Wednesday. She is the mother of my Uncle Bob, who is married to my mother's younger sister Patti. I've known her nearly my whole life. I can remember going to roast beef dinners at her church and seeing her at camp every summer. She was a long time member of an American Baptist Church. It will be a great privilege and honor to serve her and her family this week. Peace to her memory.

I will also get to do a wedding on Sunday at Arrowhead Lodge at Oneida Shores Park. This is my second wedding this summer — the first being my cousin Eric's with his bride Maggie. That was a fantastic event held at The Otesaga in Cooperstown with the best best-man toast I've ever heard.

It's wonderful to be doing pastoral ministry again. I've missed it though I haven't missed church board and committee meetings one bit.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

ABC News: Dog the Bounty Hunter Gets a Leash

My favorite TV show is Dog The Bounty Hunter. Great to see Dog tie the not with Beth this week. I don't have cable at home but I love watching Dog when I'm on the road in a hotel somewhere.

It's hysterical when he prays with his team and then heads out the door to bust some heads. He's a wild theologian.

Blogging My Own Blog

Marcia posted a powerful testimony on my blog as a follow-up comment to my post about Obesity and the Church. You can read it here.

Vicky Beeching

Have you heard the song Captivated by Vicky Beeching? We sang it in church this past Sunday and strangely I woke up from a very vivid dream singing it this morning. That never happens to me. I bought it at the iTunes store. I've printed the lyrics and linked a sound clip for your pleasure and the glory of God.

Captivated (30 second clip)
Yesterday Today and Forever, 2005

Your laughter it echoes like a joyous thunder
Your whisper it warms me like a summer breeze
Your anger is fiercer than the sun in its splendour
You’re close and yet full of mystery
Ever since the day that I saw Your face
Try as I may, I cannot look away, I cannot look away…

Captivated by You
I am captivated by You
May my life be one unbroken gaze
Fixed upon the beauty of Your face

Beholding is becoming, so as You fill my gaze
I become more like You and my heart is changed
Beholding is becoming, so as You fill my view
Transform me into the likeness of You
This is what I ask, for all my days
That I may, never look away, never look away…

No other could ever be as beautiful
No other could ever steal my heart away
I just can’t look away…

Written by Vicky Beeching. ©2005 Thankyou Music (admin. by worshiptogether.com Songs for the World, excluding the UK and Europe, which is admin. by kingswaysongs.com) (PRS)

Buy the sheet music here. Vicky Beeching also has a MySpace page.

While searching for info about the song I came across a free mp3 archive and then another — supposedly all legal. The first one has another Vicky Beeching song for free.

Monday, August 07, 2006

My House For Sale

My home is officially on the market as of today and we already have people lined up to see it. We're planning to move south to the Syracuse area to be nearer to family and the airport. Our realtor is the super-fabulous Joan Gerni of NNY Homes. She'll have our home sold quickly no doubt.

Our home is listed at NNYMLS and NNYHomes but I decided to try out googlepages.com and made a web site for our house sale: http://theultrarev.googlepages.com/forsale. I should be a realtor.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Important Stuff I Learned in Today's Sermon

More people are killed in Africa by Water Buffalo than any other animal.

The Brazillian Calvary ride Water Buffalo and not horses because they are faster, stronger and can run longer than horses.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

SBC Tomorrow

My colleague, Peter, has begun an very interesting blog about Southern Baptist issues. It is called: SBC Tomorrow. In a long car ride the other day he gave me a short fascinating history of the liberal/moderate/conservative faction struggles in the SBC and along with some insight into the current struggles the SBC faces with "5 pointers" i.e. TULIP/5 Point Calvinists attempting a takeover. Peter wants to provide a place where people can debate the issues with courtesy and grace and not the frequent vitriol he sees amongst his fellow SBC'ers elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Cavallarios Cucina

I ate at my favorite restaurant twice this week, Cavallarios Cucina. Let me recommend my favorite dishes. You absolutely must start with the sweet sausage soup with some bread with garlic butter, and for an appetizer to share:

"Pomodora Bread"

Our version of the classic "Bruschetta." Crispy Focaccia Bread topped with fresh Tomatoes, Garlic, Olive Oil and Herbs & Mozzarella Cheese.

Scallops "Italia"

Fresh Sea Scallops sautéed with Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic, Lemon & Sherry with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Artichoke Hearts & Alfredo Sauce on top of Homemade Fettuccini Noodles.

Stuffed Rigatoni Pomodoro

Ricotta filled Rigatoni tossed with sautéed Peppers and Onions in our "Pomodoro" Sauce and Asiago Cheese.

Welfare & Parachurch Ministries

I made the comment yesterday that the only reason that parachurch ministries exist is because of the failure of the church. I was with some very astute theologians who said, "The same is true of the government welfare system." Whoa. So true.