Friday, September 29, 2006


Mike Cope's Blog today really hits home for me... here is my post from there...

Language is so limiting. It is a frustration to me. For 10 years my vocation was a minister. For the last 13 years my vocation has been in human resources but my avocation or calling has been a minister.

During all those years I have had the privilege to "officiate" at funerals, weddings and baby dedications and I have had the opportunity to minister to people.

Most people I interact with day to day don’t understand the "priesthood of all believers" concept - being steeped in tradition they want an ‘official’ minister. They want "THE MINISTER" to pray for them, and "THE MINISTER" to marry them and "THE MINISTER" to anoint their children.

And while ministry is a longing fulfilled for me because it has given me that privileged "doorway" into their lives that I would not have had otherwise... I truly wish that all of us whether Jew or Greek, bond or free, male or female would claim the privilege of being a minister.

May God help us all to be ministers.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Favorite Movie lines…Guess the movies:

1. Vizzini: But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy's? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.

2. Gabby Johnson: I wash born here, an I wash raished here, and dad gum it, I am gonna die here, an no sidewindin’, bushwackin’, hornswaglin’, cracker croaker is gonna rouin me bishen cutter.

3. Del Gue: You turn down this gift, and they'll cut you, me, Caleb and the horses from crotch to eyeball with a dull deer antler!

4. Inga: Put... ze candle... back!

5. Walter Sobchak: Donny was a good bowler, and a good man. He was one of us. He was a man who loved the outdoors... and bowling, and as a surfer he explored the beaches of Southern California, from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo and up to... Pismo. He died, like so many young men of his generation, he died before his time. In your wisdom, Lord, you took him, as you took so many bright flowering young men at Khe Sanh, at Langdok, at Hill 364. These young men gave their lives. And so would Donny. Donny, who loved bowling, and so, Theodore Donald Karabotsos, in accordance with what we think your dying wishes might well have been, we commit your final mortal remains to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean, which you loved so well. Good night, sweet prince.

6. Lord Arthur Goring: To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

7. Ulysses Everett McGill: Pete, the personal rancor reflected in that remark I don't intend to dignify with comment. But I would like to address your general attitude of hopeless negativism. Consider the lilies of the damn field or... hell! Take at look at Delmar here as your paradigm of hope.

Who ever gets the most right without help from Google wins the prize. If you give up just click on the character links and it will take you to the actor's page and you can try and guess the movie from there.

Monday, September 25, 2006

“It was a Nice Day for a White Wedding…”

One of the greatest joys in my life as a minister is the pleasure that comes from marrying two people. Even though I am no longer in fulltime ministry - I get asked to do one or two weddings a year mostly for friends and neighbors or their children.

A few months back I was asked if I would conduct the ceremony for my neighbor’s daughter. That wedding happened yesterday and it was a great time in a lovely setting at Atwood Lake just south of Canton, OH.

Weddings are so full of hope. They are a new beginning in which all of us get a chance, as we listen to the couple make their vows, to look at our own relationships and renew our vows. To say to our spouse – “I would do it all over again with all the better and all the worse.”

Because when you make your vows the first time…you don’t know how much better or worse things can be.

Life is good.

I am trying harder to be a “Localvore.” I am going to local farmer’s markets and buying meat and vegetables that are locally grown (with 100 miles) of our home. Some of the reasons why are: the food is fresh; you support local small family farms, help protect the environment and if for no other reason it tastes better!

What I love is the fresh poultry, vegetables and the eggs! Ah, the eggs! They cannot be compared to the egg farm eggs that you get at the grocery. They have a marvelous fresh taste and the yolks are dark marigold yellow.

Now – it’s not as convenient as running down to the Giant Eagle grocery chain and picking up something for dinner, I have to plan ahead a bit and carry canvas bags with me when I go shopping. But the payoff is huge.

Take a look at the link under the title above and see what you think…

Friday, September 22, 2006

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah is the first and second days of the first Jewish month of Tishrei. It marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year.

According to their tradition the celebration of this holiday is marked with solemnity, as it is the day on which the whole world is judged for the coming year. Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the world, as it was on this day that God created Man on the 6th day of creation.

Every year, on this day, my Jewish friends proclaim God as their one and true King.

What a great thing to do!

Ancient Israel had difficulty accepting God as their one true king. They wanted a king like the other nations. They wanted a physical ruler on a physical throne.

Like ancient Israel I too have trouble accepting God as the one true King. I let security and money and all kinds of things rule the throne of my life.

Tonight Jews will dip an apple in honey in symbolism. The apple and the honey represent a heartfelt wish for a sweet year, not only for themselves and for all the Jewish people.

I was told by a Jewish rabbi that on most fruit trees the leaves appear before the fruit, thus providing a protective cover for the young fruit. The apple, however, makes a preemptive move by appearing before the leaves. The Jewish people are compared to an apple because they are willing to live out their lives even if this seems to leave them unprotected. They have confidence that God and the instructions in the Torah could never mislead them.

A bee can inflict pain with its sting, yet it also produces delicious honey. Life has this same dual potential and so they pray that their choices will result in a sweet year.

Tonight, as a believer in the same “I AM” as my Jewish friends, I proclaim the King of Kings and I wish a sweet year to you and yours.

The shofar says, "Wake up from your (moral) sleep. You are asleep. Get up from your slumber. You are in a deep sleep. Search for your behavior. Become the best person you can. Remember God, the One Who created you." Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance 3:4.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wisdom and Change

I have had an interest in Organizational Change Management since the early 1990’s when I assisted two churches in combining forces and merging into one.

There was significant resistance within both groups and lots of obstacles to overcome. At the time I didn’t realize that I was doing OCM. I liked the process of creating a proposal for change and then negotiating with both parties to see it come to fruition.

So a few years ago when I started reading some change management materials I realized that I had done this before:

- Create a case for change
- Build a shared vision
- Assess risk
- Develop a roadmap to get there
- Manage resistance
- Execute the change
- Communicate the successes
- Sustain the change

I would have labeled the bullet points differently back then but my process looked very similar.

Now when we make changes in our personal or professional life we don’t always go through a formalized process like the one above but we do go through most of the steps. At least wise people do.

I knew a gentleman who changed like the weather here in Cleveland – a lot. He changed his mind and his plans so often I quit trying to keep up.

Sometimes – okay often - his vacillations did not prove very wise.

No vision, no risk assessment, no roadmap – just execute the change and live (cope) with the results. And he wondered why the road was so bumpy?

Wisdom would dictate that if you are going to shove off in a different direction that - at the very least - you anticipate the consequences.

To quote an ancient text: “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn't first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?”

Friday, September 15, 2006

Karma Is a Funny Thing

The only conventional network television show that that I watched last season was the NBC show “My Name Is Earl”

Earl, played by Jason Lee, has been down a lot of dead end streets. However, a twist of fate turns his life around.

Earl wins a lottery and has an epiphany - he's hit by a car! Earl discovers karma - and in hope of a better life, he sets out to correct every bad thing he's ever done.

I like this show – it’s a fun premise with some quirky characters and there’s always a happy ending. It’s always funny and generally positive.

Earl’s Modus Operandi can be paraphrased as follows: “If you want a better life, you need to be a better person.”

Yesterday I saw an old guy board the bus without enough change. He needed 50 cents. Before I could stand up another guy from the back of the bus ran up with the additional change and said, “I may need a favor from you some day.”

“If you want a better life, you need to be a better person.”

At the mid point in my life - I want to acknowledge that I have not always treated others with the friendship and respect they deserved – and I want to make a concerted effort to treat all people as I would want to be treated.

There are lots of people out there that want a better life and they don’t have any idea why they don’t have one or how to make their life better.

“If you want a better life, you need to be a better person.”

Will more money make a better life?

Will a bigger house?

Will a nicer car?

Will a lover?

Will a husband or a wife or a child make your life better?

It is just a striving after the wind.

“If you want a better life, you need to be a better person.”

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This Much Is True For Me

The older I get the more honest I get.

You reach a point when you realize that you are what you are and that all your vain attempts to hide who you really are have been just that.

To borrow a line from James Taylor: “You can play the game and you can act out the part, though you know it wasn’t written for you.”

So a couple years ago I decided that this is who I am and I need get comfortable with that. I owe it to myself and to my wife.

I am a weak person. Some of who I am is environmental. Some of who I am is learned. Some of who I am was handed down from my parents, grandparents and great grand parents – both the baggage and gifts. My family’s struggle with the disease of alcoholism shaped me in ways that I never realized until I was in my forties.

I am an empowered person. Because of the grace of God I am imbued with the Spirit of God and when I call upon its power I can change my behavior and my life. I can sin less – but I am not sinless. I have been shaped by strong male friends in my life who have mentored me and coached me. I am being shaped by the example of grace that my wife models before me on a daily basis.

I am strongest when I confess my weakness and give the glory for who I am to God alone and not myself.

While in Vermont I spent much of last week with a cousin by marriage. Gerard is perhaps one of the most genuine people I have ever known. Certainly the least pretentious person I have met thus far. His willingness to be real reminded me of the need for humility in everything I do.

This much is true for me.