Monday, December 15

COLD in Portland

This last Sunday, December 14, 2008, was the Third Sunday of Advent. It was nice about 7:30 when I got to church. It was NOT as nice at 9:30 when I recorded a message on the answering machine and it wad down right NASTY by worship at 11 am. I anticipated as much since I only ran off 30 bulletins.

We were blessed with an impromptu performance from a guest pianist as the faithful members of Kenton showed up regardless of the nasty weather. Didn't get a count but it was at least 40 there during worship. The video which is embedded was taken about an hour after worship. One of our more senior couples drove to worship...[not smart] so Joe drove them home and I followed him and brought him back to worship. That is when I decided to film this.

It's been up on my Facebook but some of you don't have that so here it is.


Tuesday, December 9

More seasonal music to enjoy

Reliant K

Jars of Clay

Then there's this old classic...from Amy Grant


Wednesday, December 3

A Step away from Advent

I'm going to jump back into the political arena for a moment. Great article by John Ortberg which is must read no matter who you voted for.

Enjoy and remember we're waiting for the best.



Tuesday, November 25

Advent memory

Found another one on YouTube.

Forgot all about this song. Man I loved the Talbot Brothers, yeah, I know, I'm dating myself. Enjoy.


Friday, November 7

Kenton Dismissed

Presbytery of the Cascades voted overwhelmingly to dismiss Kenton Presbyterian Church, and it's pastor [yours truly] to the EPC. Now all we've got is the paper work and that is well in hand.

We have a gracious God and I believe that Cascades did a very good job in showing it's grace and compassion in this process. There is another congregation, a much different situation, coming up tomorrow so we'll remain in prayer for our sisters and brothers in that process.


Tuesday, October 28

Worth the reading...

Hat tip to Spyglass who shared a link to Jared Wilson's blog The Gospel-Driven Church. Click over and read these. He's putting 19 of 95 thesis for the Church. For those of you who do not know your history Martin Luther posted 95 thesis on the cathedral door in Wittenburg which pushed the Reformation to a new point.

My take on these. There's something to make everyone wince. These hit home with me # 5, 8, 11, 14-19, 23-25, 32. He will write more tomorrow...


Tuesday, October 21

One Step Closer

It's been hard to get this post up due to HTML errors and not a clue as to what they meant....

Sunday Kenton took a major step toward it's new incarnation as an Evangelical Presbyterian Church. About 2/3rds of our active membership [46] stayed for a congregational vote on Session's recommendation to seek dismissal to the EPC. The vote was 44-2 in favor, so letters will be written this week to Presbytery conveying the official request and we will be on the docket for November's meeting.

What I want to do is take this opportunity to thank two groups of people. First is the Presbytery's Resolution Team. They did a great job working with Kenton. Soon into the process they realized that what was best for us was to see us dismissed with grace. They continue to work toward being our advocates during the upcoming Presbytery meeting. They were scattered over a wide distance which made some face-to-face meetings hard but they got the work done.

The second group is Kenton's Negotiating team. Rich, Bob, Benell and Bev did a wonderful job in making sure the right questions were asked and answered. They spent hours reading, composing, questioning and tweaking documents and responses. Rich has spent even more time directly dealing with our attorney as we write up final papers for the process. I can't tell you what a blessing such people are to a congregation like Kenton.

To those regularly at Kenton... you need to grab hold of these folks and thank them for their work. In many ways they have laid the groundwork for the direction Kenton will be headed for our second hundred years. Kenton Church [EPC] may not be birthed yet but these two groups have helped make the process a whole lot easier than it could have been.

Thanks to you all.

Saturday, September 27

When Debates become Old Hat

My oldest boy and I were talking prior to the debate about the candidates and how one goes about deciding for whom to vote. At the time I was wasting time by playing Civilization Complete and the idea hit both of us that what we needed was to see the candidates in action. I propose two five to six hour sessions. The first would be on domestic policy and administration with the second to focus on world politics. The first would involve both candidates playing SimCity and the second Civilization Conquests. I understand that Obama, being younger would have a leg up on McCain, but then Palin would have more city experience that Biden. All in all I think it would even out.

During the play time they would NOT be allowed to have handlers coaching them on their next play, build or move. They would NOT be allowed to use crib sheets or have a walk through guide with them. Like most of us they would have to muddle through and hope for the best.

The play would be on personal computers of their choices but with large screen monitors and broadcast to the public. This would allow us to groan with them as the people revolt in their capital and cheer when they get a bonus they had been looking for.

Would it solve the problems and answer all the questions? Not in a million years, but it would be much better entertainment than the debates. Besides which, it may show our candidates that rhetoric doesn't solve problems and perhaps the public would realize the answers aren't as simple as bumper-sticker slogans would have us believe. Personally, I just hope to pick up some tips on moving past the Medieval period in the game.

Thursday, September 18


I'm starting a series of sermons/worship with each of the New Wineskin's Essential Tenets as the topics. Now that won't do much more than raise a yawn from most people but I thought I'd share something I ran across today as I was googling around the old internet.

It's an old post from a Portland pastor dealing with different viewpoints when it comes to theology. It's a bit long but read it, take some time and play a tune on a harmonica while coyotes yip in the fall air, you'll understand when you read the link.

Here's to all of us who are writing like mad for Sunday.


Thursday, August 28

North to Alaska

John Wayne went way up North in 1960. I remember seeing the movie with my parents at the Rancho Drive-in which was down tank-farm hill in San Pablo.

Well my bride and I are gone for seven days and then fellowship camp with Kenton. We'll miss you all. I'll post photos if I take time to get online, but have a good week. I know I'm going too.


Wednesday, August 13

"I Think They've Got It!"

In My Fair Lady Rex Harrison declares that Eliza Doolittle, "has got it!" as she works through her language lessons. Later after a royal snobbery of an affair he returns and with Pickering he sings of his triumphant by declaring, "I did it!"

I always thought it was a Western thing to pull one over on those who believe they are "better than us". It's a well worn plot in movies from Wargames, to Ferris Buller's Day Off. It's celebrated in the success of the independent candidate in politics to the "little guy" sticking it to the big company. But at this year's Olympics, we've seen China also has this lesson down.

Now I am not a China hater. I believe they are making better political decisions that in the past and that the nation is a necessary partner for commercial and social work in this century. They have human rights issues to be certain but they are a valid trade partner for us and the rest of the planet. Their future infrastructure will impact our environment more than any other nation on the globe.

But not being satisfied with black market copies of Windows Vista, the latest from Tom Cruise, Greenday, and FOX films their fakery has risen to a whole new level--Their Olympics. I'm sure you have seen the news reports already about the opening ceremonies. (If not I've excerpted portions from news reports which you'll find below.)

In our world why would we not expect fake fireworks, fake singers and fake fans? For followers of Christ this shouldn't surprise us for we are all sinners. Our heritage goes back to Genesis 3 where we attempted to cover up, evade, and spin our way out of responsibility. We also understand that truth, REAL truth, Jesus TRUTH sets one free from the need to exist in a reality of fakes, frauds and phonies.

Will there be more "revelations"? Performance enhancing drugs, doctored birth certificates or modified equipment have been and will be hinted at during the games. This Olympics, like American politics, British Royals, the reprehensible behavior of UN Peacekeepers in Darfur, and other scandals, goes to prove that the Chinese have arrived on the world-wide stage in the area of lies and manipulation of the world public. "By George, I think they've got it"

Fake Fireworks
Gao Xiaolong, head of the visual effects team for the ceremony, said it had taken almost a year to create the 55-second sequence. Meticulous efforts were made to ensure the sequence was as unnoticeable as possible: they sought advice from the Beijing meteorological office as to how to recreate the hazy effects of Beijing's smog at night, and inserted a slight camera shake effect to simulate the idea that it was filmed from a helicopter.[1]

One advisor to the Beijing Olympic Committee (BOCOG) defended the decision to use make-believe to impress the viewer.A spokeswoman for BOCOG said the final decision had been made by Beijing Olympic Broadcasting..."As far as we are concerned, we let off the fireworks - that's what's important to us".

"An NBC Sports spokesperson says U.S. viewers were informed of the manipulation. Commentators Matt Lauer and Bob Costas said the fireworks were a digital effect. From the opening ceremony transcript during the fireworks in question:

Lauer: "You're looking at a cinematic device employed by Zhang Yimou here. This is actually almost animation. A footstep a second, 29 in all, to signify the 29 Olympiads."

Costas: "We said earlier that aspects of this Opening Ceremony are almost like cinema in real time. Well this is quite literally cinematic."[2]

Fake Singer

The real singer was Yang Peiyi, a seven-year-old deemed not pretty enough to be the face of China’s

most watched moment in history. Chubby-cheeked with crooked teeth, she was substituted at the eleventh hour by Communist Party officials desperate to present the best possible image of Chinese youth to a curious world.

After watching a rehearsal with Peiyi in the lead role, a senior member of the Politburo told Beijing Olympic organisers that they had an urgent problem that needed fixing.

The solution was to front Peiyi’s “perfect” voice with the more acceptable face of Miaoke, who had already appeared in a television advert.

“The reason why little Peiyi was not chosen to appear was because we wanted to project the right image. The reason was for the national interest,” said Chen Qigang, the renowned contemporary composer and French citizen who directed the music for the opening ceremony.

“The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings and expression. Lin Miaoke is excellent in those aspects but in terms of voice Yang Peiyi is perfect.”[3]

The International Olympic Committee's executive director Gilbert Felli defended. "You have to be sure that the performers and the song, it is at the highest level," he told reporters. "It is casting.... it is a technical decision by the producers. (You have to) put that in the context of the opening ceremony and the complexity of the 15 000 performers." [4]

The Plot Thickens:

"Chen Qigang, the musical director of the opening ceremony, revealed in an interview that pigtailed Lin was only selected to appear because of her "flawless" appearance and did not sing a note.

"The reason was for the national interest," Chen, said in an interview that briefly appeared on the news website before it was apparently wiped.

"Lin Miaoke is excellent in those aspects. But in terms of voice, Yang Peiyi is perfect," he said.

Chinese newspapers and broadcasters made no reference to the two young girls on Wednesday. References to the story were also blocked or deleted from the Internet."[5]

Fake Fans

Chinese Olympic organizers acknowledged Tuesday they were struggling to handle an unforeseen and baffling problem inside Summer Games venues and at the showpiece Olympic Park.

Not enough people...

To remedy the problem, officials are busing in teams of state-trained "cheer squads" identifiable by their bright yellow T-shirts to help fill the empty seats and improve the atmosphere. They are also encouraging residents to apply for access to the heavily secured park.

"We are concerned about the not-full stadiums," said Wang Wei, executive vice president and secretary general for the Beijing Organizing Committee. "Many factors are contributing to this. We are now trying to manage that. . . . [As] for the Olympic Green . . . yesterday they saw not many people inside." [6]

"Today, 50 workers came to do the cheerleading job," said Wang Li, 30, who works for an automobile manufacturer in Beijing. "Our company sends us to softball today, but other workers were sent to other venues to do some work. We come here on shifts."[7]

[1] Richard Spencer, "Beijing Olympic 2008 opening ceremony giant firework footprints 'faked'" Telegraph UK. Online accessed August 13, 2008

[2] James Hibberd, "Olympics, NBC dogged by fakery accusations" Reuters (August 12, 2008) accessed August 13, 2008.

[3] Jane Macartney and Ashling O'Connor "China banned child singer with crooked teeth from singing at opening ceremony" Timesonline (August 13, 2008) accessed August 13, 2008.

[4] "Organisers defend 'fake' singer" at,,2-9-2370_2374965,00.html. Accessed August 13, 2008

[6] Amy Shipley and Maureen Fan Beijing Is All Dressed Up, But No One Is Going. August 13, 2008, accessed August 13, 2008

[7] Ibid.

Sunday, August 10

I have to send you to read the GA Junkie's latest post on "Modern Echoes of the Adopting Act". It won't be for everyone but if you're at all interested in the current unrest of the PC(USA) especially following the PUP report it's a good read. If you're interested in early Presbyterian history, how we got to where we are it's a good read. And if you've ever wondered what the who "scrupling" stuff was about it's a very good read.

Thanks for the post Junkie.


Wednesday, July 30

Worship Planning 2.0

I'd love to sleep seven hours straight through without waking up but that's not my lot. So at 4 am I wake up and start thinking about what a reformation in worship would look like in this day and age.

What I'm suggesting is not new. Heck, it's probably been around since Al Gore invented the internet [LOL] but then again I'm sometimes a bit slower than others are. So here goes.

I'm proposing a way to develop a service of worship, sermon, environs, music and other aspects of worship. A couple of statements before we start

  1. HC stands for "Host Church"
  2. I'm not into psalms only, regulative principle, or going back to the 1500's as a model for worship. Some are called to do that, my predestination lies along another path
  3. The tools used to accomplish what I'm talking about are probably out there. I can think of Google documents, IM programs, GodTube, and probably a dozen more.
  4. This ALL HAPPENS UNDER A COVERING OF PRAYER. I'm not downplaying God's hand in any of this.

5. The Holy Spirit gifts us and calls us in the matter of conducting worship. And among those gifts include, literally, a world of believers with insight and gifts. Any creative work is simply reflective of the work of the Holy Spirit working in and through God's people. It flows from God because God IS in charge not us.

Posting this on the church site [see #3 above] the HC plans to start 2009 with communion and a service based on John 3:16. Among those invited to add input are the HC members and leadership as well as others who know the pastor and who access the website.

Here's where it gets interesting. A couple of weeks after the HC posts the idea a house church in the Southern U.S. offers their take on communion and what it means to "examine oneself" in light of loving God and others.

A member of an Australian Anglican congregation describes how God's love touched them during the Eucharist in their home parish just the past weekend. And several suggestions come in about hymns, praise music etc.

Nothing happens for a while. As the HC pastor and a few leadership people start commenting on where they are other ideas emerge. Another pastor likes the HC idea and plan their first 2009 service around the same theme. It doesn't matter that they are a missionary church located in South America.

Another pastor suggests a video clip from a movie that was released and others suggest classic movie ideas as well. One teen shares a YouTube video in which a teen/20 something tells of God's amazing love.

Some of those with musical skills share insight into the music that was suggested including ideas for medleys, alternative chording and transitions that they found helpful as they used those songs. And then there are those who send in prayers, personal stories and the latest "internet stuff".

As Advent nears and plans are coming together the HC staff/pastor shares her/his thinking with those who have contributed. This includes updating music, bulletin ideas, sermon outline or thoughts and the like. One last gasp of energy hit those around and a Pastor from Africa sends some photos he's taken to be used as background for PowerPoint. Ideas for the environs, banners and art to help focus those who are in worship on God's love and the Lord's Supper are shared by a local creative artist.

A missionary whom the HC knows records video of a communion service they had and sends that along for the church to use.

The problem with information overload is real. There is a GREAT DEAL OF STUFF out there. Here is where discernment becomes vital. The HC cannot use everything nor would they want to. You have to choose those items, ideas, and things which you believe will gain a hearing among those who are attending the HC that Sunday. On the other hand when that Sunday in 2009 rolls around, the HC may be using A, C, D, & F while a congregation in South America uses D, A, F, & B. Other pastors will file away various songs, clips, ideas etc. for when they preach on this passage.

The bulletin is done, sermon pretty well finished and the rest of the stuff is ready to go. The HC acknowledges those who have aided them, thanks them and heads out to worship. BTW while this has been going on the same sort of input has been going on for worship up through Easter.

I may have had to write this in order to get it clear in my head because I've seen similar posts in the pasts. Some of this happens now as worship in planned at Kenton but it's pretty much me gleaning what I find off the net or something a missionary or member sends me. I think there is a lot of room for improvement and more interactive work.

Enough for now.


Tuesday, July 29

Cows with Guns

So it's been out a couple of years, but a high school senior sent this to one of my kids. Since this seems to have been a month of nothing too serious I thought I'd share it with the rest of the world.

Makes me want to to McDonald's as I watch it.


Monday, July 28

Oh the Places I've Been to....

Some have used this tool to show where they've been so I thought I'd add my two-cents worth

visited 38 states (76%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or determine the next president

You can mark Alaska in 33 days...


Monday, July 21

Keep Oregon Weird

Perhaps you've seen the bumper sticker "Keep Portland Weird" but the truth is, the whole state seems to be a bit "off the rails". Two recent articles demonstrate just how forward looking the state's health system has become. Barbara Wagner's cancer came back and she was told by letter, "Treatment of advanced cancer that is meant to prolong life, or change the course of this disease, is not a covered benefit of the Oregon Health Plan." But the same letter "that it would cover palliative, or comfort, care, including, if she chose, doctor-assisted suicide" (emphasis mine).

If she were the only case one might figure it was a bureaucratic screw-up. Yet this not the case; Randy Stroup, 53-years-old found out a drug that could help make his last few months more bearable wasn't covered by the Oregon Health Plan. Like Barbara, he too, was offered coverage for suicide.

Oregon will stop living wage jobs for the sake of an owl. Oregon will try to rid rivers of dams and a cheap source of power for the sake of fish. Oregon will take money from the lower income people via, video poker in order to grow trees in Morrow County and bring movie production to the state. But we can't pay for chemo drugs. Why, because those people might feel better and that wouldn't be as cost effective as having them overdose and kill themselves. Now if that's not weird, I don't know what is.

By the way, the drug company gave Barbara the medicine she needed and the State of Oregon went back on its policy and covered Randy's drugs. It's still weird.

Thursday, July 17

Video break

Hat tip to Stushie over at Presbyterian Bloggers.
For your enjoyment and amazement I include the following video.

Warning... This is cute


Thursday, July 10

New Widget for You

Just found a pretty cool widget and website for me. It is you can listen to some great music on line, IMHO. You can purchase CD's it will be easier than burning my records. And even publish a radio and play list on your blog or other sites.

Mine is on the right and yes I have a weird selection of music in my playlist. If it works for you that's great.


Thursday, July 3

Happy Fourth

Took this at the USS Arizona Memorial a few years back. I tweaked the sky color but otherwise it is as it looked. Awesome place, awesome sacrifice, awesome nation. Have a great fourth.


Friday, June 27

Mourning for the PC(USA) or "where do we look for the true church now"

Alternative titles for this posting included: "Thank you very much sir, may I have another" and, my son's option, "So long and thanks for all the fish."

GA is at lunch. I imagine many will have a hard time holding food down after the debacle this morning. I outlived being a conspiracy theorist but I can't help wonder at what happened. Last night we undertook a new mission initiative to raise 2 million dollars so we might, in the words of the commissioner from Denver, "litigate in a graceful way".

This morning we started off by being fair and limiting debate to one minute. This is because there's a lot of stuff to get through. [side note: didn't they see this coming when they authorized guest speakers, ecumenical greetings and DVD's months before the GA?]

Yeah Gradey was elected moderator which might be like getting promoted to captain April 15, 1912 on the Titanic. His election was overshadowed by all that followed.

In just over 90 minutes the Church Orders and Ordination Committee gutted the evangelical presence in the denomination. They overturned 30 years of faithfulness to the word of God and have probably single-handedly sounded the death knell for many congregations.

O5-12 reversed a recent decision of the General Assembly PJC which said a candidate for ministry may NOT declare a scruple, or disagreement with the portion of the Book of the Order that demands one live a life of sexual morality in marriage or abstain from sex if not married. What was passed by the General Assembly was an "Authoritative Interpretation" [this is an important term to remember] which Presbytery's have no vote on, and which can only be overturned by a judicial decision or another General Assembly.

Then things went downhill. This same committee answered a request from others to replace the current G. 6-0108b (that speaks about marriage, and sexual behavior of leaders
with the following:
Those who are called to ordained service in the church, by their assent to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003), pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church, striving to follow where he leads through the witness of the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions. In so doing, they declare their fidelity to the standards of the Church. Each governing body charged with examination for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240 and G-14.0450) establishes the candidate’s sincere efforts to adhere to these standards.
Now officers only have to pledge to be obedient. (you will recall we don't confess allegiance to Jesus) What do we obey? Not scripture, not the confessions but the amorphous, subjective and "feel-good" and warm fuzziness" of where he [I hope they mean Jesus] leads. If there is good news in this it is the fact that the Presbyteries have to vote on the changed wording. If that were all that happened we could survive.

Heading downhill toward a slippery slope, GA then chose to jump off the cliff. The second point of this overture creates a new AI, remember I told you about Authoritative Interpretations? Here's the text:
2. Provide the following authoritative interpretation:
Interpretive statements concerning ordained service of homosexual church members by the 190th General Assembly (1978) of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, and the 119th General Assembly (1979) of the Presbyterian Church in the United States and all subsequent affirmations thereof, have no further force or effect.
In one fell swoop, 54% or 380 commissioners allowed for those who are homosexuals in or out of any sort of relationship to be ordained. In one fell swoop the denomination no longer understands homosexuality to be a sin or as bar to ordination. Let me be crystal clear as to what this means.

As of this General Assembly there are NO formal definitive guidance or authoritative interpretations which prohibit a self-affirming, practicing homosexual person from being ordained as a deacon, elder or pastor in the PC(USA).

The committee's end-run around the constitution isn't even needed in light of this piece of c#*&$. We have taken the conservative and evangelical part of this portion of the Body of Christ and spit in their faces.

I am at a loss for what to do. I have always held out hope following the General Assembly but I am beginning to believe that what happened to Saul has happened to our denomination (1 Samuel 15 and 16:14) God have mercy on us all.


Thursday, June 26

Observations on GA 2

It's a mixed bag and a very disturbing one to me in particular. First the sort of good news is that we affirmed a "common faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior." Sure we don't affirm any allegiance to Jesus, just faith.[1]

It sort of reminds me a few GA's ago when we put in our constitution "marriage was a covenant between a man and a woman". It bothers me when we "legislate" the obvious, orthodox and historical truth of the Body of Christ.

At 10 p.m. the death knell for any ongoing contribution of per capita was sounded. O3-21 (text follows):

That the 218th General Assembly (2008) do the following:

1. Provide funds to the Office of General Assembly for the purpose of sharing the cost of legal fees defending our Constitution against the New Wineskins Non-geographic Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and a group which has joined that denomination.

2. From these funds, reimburse the Presbytery of Northern New England for half of all of its remaining legal costs up to a maximum of $185,000.

[3. That the Office of the General Assembly establish and promote an Extra Commitment Opportunity (ECO) account that will be the source of this support and welcomes contributions from the whole church.]

We voted 2 million dollars to be used for litigation when churches wish to withdraw from the PC(USA). What the committee couldn't answer was whether a presbytery had to request the funds or if it would just be divided up. They also couldn't answer the question as to whether these funds would be used in defense of suits brought by congregations or if they could be used to initiate actions against congregations.

I appreciated the delegate from Donegal Presbytery who pointed out how GA had just been told that they couldn't afford 100k to fund a position dealing with abuse within the denomination but we could spend 2 million from per-capita to fight congregations who wish to leave.

Rev. Oldenkamp minister commissioner from Sacramento Presbytery spoke about their church being in court even after negotiating with the presbytery. What he didn't say is that it's because of another congregation in the Sacramento Presbytery.

Even if we weren't an endorsing congregation of the New Wineskins Association I would recommend to my congregation and session NOT to pay per capita because this is a misuse if not abuse of our sisters and brothers in Christ who are being led a different direction. God help us all.


[1] 16-01

“1. affirm as sisters and brother[s] in Christ[,] our common faith in[, and allegiance to,] Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; and

“2. request that[, at his discretion,] the Moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008) [say before every vote] [when calling for the vote say:] [‘As sisters and brothers in Christ,] [‘Sisters and brothers], sharing our common faith in[, and allegiance to,] Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, [and walking humbly with our God,] let us proceed to vote on the question before us.”

Observations on GA 1

Dr. Rodger was misleading at best. In discussion about the minority report on the Heidelberg catechism he said that only one English translation used the term "homosexual perversion". I did a quick search on and found that although the word "perversion" was not used the concept of "homosexuality" is in deed present in the NIV, NLT, CEV, NASB.

I like the man. I've taken classes from him. I've enjoyed his conversation and insight but the last few years his investment in the pro-homosexual agenda has made him disingenuous.


Saturday, June 21

218th General Assembly

This is one of those posts that is SO denominationally oriented many of you will have fallen asleep already... that's okay, it's not for everyone. I wanted to give everyone a heads up for a couple of sights that you need to be aware of.

First is This has all the business of the General Assembly on it and you can actually follow it as it goes through committee. It should have the final reports too as they area generated. Having said that, it's not up right now [8 pm PDT Saturday, June 21, 2008]. But I anticipate they will get the problems worked out since this is how the commissioners to GA are getting their information. You do have to register for this site but if you're interested in how some things turn out it will be well worth your time.

This site will be important for Monday and Tuesday as the committees meet and do their work.

Second is which allow you to watch the action at General Assembly real-time. The schedule shows the business meetings beginning in earnest on Wednesday in the afternoon. As boring as it sounds to some of you, yours truly will be glued to his computer watching GA. Of interest to me are the issue of Israel, the nFOG [new form of government] and the annual posturing and fighting over ordination issues.

BTW if you haven't discovered GA Junkie's blog yet do so. He will keep you informed of everything going on at GA. He also covers the real kirk [Scotland], EPC and a few others. He's well worth the read.

Remember you only get to have this fun every two years in the PC(USA). I anticipate I'll be enjoying a more annual event next year.


Wednesday, June 11

A Tale of Two Presbyteries

The PC[USA] faces a sever lack of consistency among its beliefs. Some Presbyteries ordain openly practicing homosexual persons[1] others make statements that they will not ordain such persons. Some presbyteries have a list of essential tenets[2] and most don't.

On June 10th's Presbyweb[3] displayed this continued lack of meaningful "connectionalism" was loud and clear in two articles arranged literally over one another. The first is a letter, by Noel Anderson reporting how the Presbytery of San Joaquin unanimously dismissed Millbrook Presbyterian Church to the EPC with their property. Below this is a report from Presbyterian Layman about the Presbytery of Southern Louisiana and Woodlawn Presbyterian Church of New Orleans. The presbytery sought a "temporary restraining order" to keep the church from meeting to vote on seeking dismissal from the PC[USA]. The parish court denied presbytery's request.

Maybe it's my political science background coming out or maybe being 55 I just don't have time to play the games anymore; either way it's time to face the fact that we're busted, broken, split apart, torn asunder, dysfunctional or just plain stupid you choose.

Like the humpty-dumpty of legend, all of Cliff's horses and all of Cliff's men won't put this busted omelet back together again. The recent task force report hasn't accomplished anything approaching peace, unity or purity. In fact, it may very well be, the item that signals the end to any hope of unity within our denomination.

I'm not saying the PC[USA] will cease to exist. I'm not saying they won't see meaningful fruit produced for the kingdom of God. But I will say, without a shadow of a doubt that if we continue this fewer and fewer will listen to any claim of connectionalism seriously. What's more it will also only continue to fuel the separation that already exists.

Tuesday, June 10

Happy Father's Day

In our household when one of my boys ask what I want for Father's day, Christmas or my birthday, my stock answer is "Your undying love and unquestioned obedience". Needless to say, I'm still waiting.

I came across this video from an email ad from GodTube and thought it worth sharing. It reminded me of the fact that when my father died, 22 years ago, he and I had become friends. You who are father's remember the little things count. Those who aren't father's but whose father's are alive remember the love and obedience request.

Have a great day Dads.


Friday, May 30

Christmas Gifts for family!!

For those crafty type people here is a great idea for gifts for those hard to buy for folks on your list. You could even cover it with contact paper and personalize them.

If my shirts looked that good it would clash with the rest of my wardrobe.


Thursday, May 29

Start of Summer Meme

1.) What first tells you that Summer is here?
Portland gets above 70 and I put on shorts and put the jacket away. The travel vest comes out and the slugs return to the garden.

2.) Name your five of your favorite distinctively Summer habits or customs.
Sitting on the back deck with a slight breeze blowing and cold drink in my hand. Listening to the pond, [I hate raccoons] and this year enjoying a hammock. It's not so distinct but it's nice when the "kids" [they're now 20 somethings] from the church invade our home on Sundays and I feel like I hold court on the deck. It's just nice

3.) What is your favorite smell of Summer?


4.) What is your favorite taste of Summer?

Did I mention Barbecue? Brisket. mmmm mine's not as good as Allen's BBQ in Abiliene but I'm learning.

5.) Favorite Summer memory?

as a kid Flashlight tag till 11 pm
in Hawthorne fishing the Elbow of the Walker River

6.) Extreme heat or extreme cold? Which would you choose and why?

Cold. You can always put on more clothes.

7.) What books do you plan to read for the season?

Plan to finish the Honor Harrington series my youngest got me reading a couple of years ago, the last of the Star Wars New Jedi Order, a couple of S.M. Stirling books and the Bible [not particularly in that order]

8.) How does the Summer affect your faith? Is it a hindrance or an ally?
Never thought of this before. It's more on an ally than hindrance I believe. Seasonal Affective Disorder isn't a big factor but I just love the evening and early mornings. We'll have sunrise about 5:30 and sunset almost at 10 in July. It's nice.

The River and the Vine
Soundslikelife go for it Mr. Clark


Tuesday, May 27

WCC and Stupid Comments

A special hat tip to Toby for the wonderful link from the WCC and the stellar work they are doing in the world around us.

I read the preamble and something just snapped in me and I thought, "I need to break this down so any liberals who read this will understand just how stupid it sounds." So here goes.

"We are in Cuba, a country that approaches the celebration of 50 years of its revolution. Cubans describe the present period as a “Kairotic” passage, a time of crisis and opportunity."
One should check out various meanings of words before they use them. The Urban Dictionary defines the WCC's term Kairotic as "used to express gayness or queerness or just to make fun of people who you don't like." To be gracious let's just accept the idea of a critical time. When has Cuba, the U.S., or any other nation NOT been a time of crisis and opportunity?

"The people’s suffering is acute because of the U.S.-imposed blockade and the general forces of empire. By “empire” we mean the complex and dynamic international regime of power anchored by the United States, with its military power, neoliberal globalization, racist and patriarchal ideologies and policies of environmental degradation."
Wow, what a mouthful! I cannot believe someone actually wrote this down let alone, apparently believing it to be true. Let me say, I am a registered Democrat, a Johnson, Kennedy, and Carter Democrat and even I know this stinks like a load of horse*(*@$%.

U.S. imposed blockade—what the heck? The U.S. have not been turned back ships or surrounded Cuba since 1963 missile crisis. Since the authors and others can travel to Cuba it seems some nations, Mexico and Canada, to name two, are obviously not part of the great U.S. "empire".

Complex and dynamic international regime of power anchored by the United States—this belief is right up there with those who think we the moon landing was fake, World Trade Center was destroyed by the CIA, and that Professional wrestling is a real sport. Is there no nation that is outside the reach of Darth POTUS?

Where is the outpouring of sympathy, help, aid, money, technology and the like for Cuba from those equally free-minded nations of Iran, North Korea, China, Argentina, Venezuela, Russia etc.? Oh yeah, Cuba doesn't have any way to pay for the aid and even in would-be communist nations like China it's all about the return on investment.

It's military power, neoliberal globalization, racist and patriarchal ideologies and policies of environmental degradation—yeah, and we talk funny too. They're right about the military power. The U.S. has the only "blue-water" navy in existence. We have the ability to drop a bomb on almost any place in the world, tell you when we're going to do it and there is very little the one being targeted can do about it. When it absolutely, positively has to be blown up over night we can get the job done in a dozen ways. In spite of this great ability, and in spite of the fact that Cuba is only a few miles from our mainline we've not done this. We've not threatened it since the 60's and there is no interest in or desire to even entertain the idea.

As far as neoliberal globalization how much international debt does Cuba owe? I don't think neoliberal is the cure all for what economically ails the world but I do believe it has a greater potential than the 70+ years of failure we saw in the socialistic economy of the USSR. Even China has adopted a much more neoliberal approach to its economy in the past decades. Why would the last bastion of Communism succumb to capitalism? Could it be because it works?

I believe it is sad that the charge of raciest and patriarchal would be used considering the nature of Latin culture and the emphasis put on being macho. Certainly the U.S. has issues, but we're miles ahead of honor killings for a daughter's dating a non-Muslim. Our nation has not broken into tribal factions over elections like Kenya, or nationalist warfare as in Serbia or into armed camps as in Lebanon. I can't help but ask the authors what have non-raciest, egalitarian nations like Denmark, Switzerland and France done to improve the situation in Cuba?
In the arena of environmental degradation we are all to blame. It's not a U.S. thing. How many of the 23 signatories to this document do not own autos, refuse to use florescent lights, and insist on non-plastic computers? The answer is ZERO. Consider the Kyoto Protocols which allow China and India to make no reductions at all to the greenhouse gas emissions. And China is putting a new coal plant in operations every week.
In spite of these forces of empire and Cubans’ relentless suffering, isolation and impoverization, we have been inspired by the ways Cubans persevere in struggle, embodying joy and resistance, dignity and self-esteem.
There is some fun stuff in this statement. First of all it makes Cuba and U.S. sound like a Star Wars movie. Secondly, it seems sad that a visiting group should be inspired rather than shocked about what has happened to their sisters and brothers in Christ. Personally, I find it rather insulting to describe the Cubans with the terms they did. What did they expect to find when they went there—depressed, zombies with no sense of pride or hope? Does that hit anyone else as a bit pretentious?

In the present moment, for example, Cubans’ earlier revolutionary successes in agrarian reform have been set back by the empire’s brutal blockade, other international developments, and by tensions within the country. Still, Cubans press forward with ongoing reform, inventively crafting new modes of agro-ecology.
Does anyone else wonder why "tensions within the country" surfaces only here in the preamble? Empire is used three times with definitions which are at best mean-spirited. Yet the 40 years of dictatorial rule is simply called tensions.

With Rev. Brown I'd have to say, I love to see my per-capita money at work in such a wonderful endeavor of fairness and justice. [choke, choke, cough, laugh]

Wednesday, April 16

First Pres. Roseville

If you don't read Presbyweb, shame on you. It is the best source of news concerning the denomination around. Click on it, make a donation and enjoy. javascript:void(0)
Publish Post

They reported from the Sierra Mission site that a decision was reached in the case of First Presbyterian Church of Roseville.

God bless you on your new journey


Friday, March 28

Video from Hawai'i

YouTube is up and I dropped some very unedited footage here to show you what is going on. Pretty impressive!

Wednesday, March 26

Sunday, March 23

Easter Greeting

Christ has Risen
Christ has Risen Indeed

Tuesday, March 11


Thanks to Jodi and Eric for sharing this with me. You two rock. Great vid and great message.


Tuesday, February 26

RIP Larry Norman

Larry is one of those who was never afraid to call us to truth. Before there was emergent there was Larry. Take heart Presbys there are those who hold to One Way.

He was in chapel at Fuller Seminary and lambasted us for not being out in the streets talking to the world about Jesus instead of sitting in class. I remember feeling somewhat embarrassed for him and defensive for those us paying good money for our education. The truth was that he was probably much more right than I gave him credit for.

Loved his life, Loved his witness and Loved his music.


ER and Truth

If you haven't seen this video yet you've missed out. Take a look and ask what you hear, preach, think or believe.


Wednesday, February 13

Pastor Straton's Story

Saw this video at Sunset and hadn't found it till now. It's moving, telling and very, very true for us too. Take six and a half minutes and watch something that will change your life.


World Vision Aids Experience

Our little congregation is going to be fielding a number of volunteers to help Sunset Presbyterian Church host the World Vision Experience Aids this coming April. There are other areas where this will be hosted as well so check it out and attend one of these.

In the meantime check out this video:

Monday, February 11

Meth and Fox News

It's pretty much the same old news at 10:00 tonight. Vandalism, trials and a "breaking news" story. Along with "Fox's Most Wanted" we have our "Meth Watch" segment as I'm sure others do. My number 1 son put it all in perspective however when he said, "It's pretty sad when your news has it's own meth watch logo."

Couldn't have said it better my self kid.


Sunday, February 10


Nothing profound. Just wanted to thank Presbyterian Gal for the cat. It's cute. If only I knew enough to turn it into a calico I could have Callie* on my blog.


*when she's in one of her moods it's spelled KALI.

Saturday, February 9

The Trinity

The issue of the Trinity Paper is, as Charles Wiley says, "a sad irony". He admits the committee could have clearly shown the language used was part of "an ancient and medieval way of talking about God as Trinity". Yet that might be difficult since of the 12 statements of trinitarian formulas in lines 394-247 only two of them are referenced as being from "an ancient and medieval" period of time.

In fact, other than the references to John of Damascus and Augustine the only other references are to the Book of Common Worship and a 2004 work by Gail Ramshaw. Bible references are given but no other sources for trinitarian statements like, Compassionate Mother, God is Giver, Gift, and Giving; or Fire that Consumes, Sword that Divides, and Storm that Melts Mountains

I am afraid that many people who watch this video will never read the Trinity paper. That is a shame because I believe this video could have done more good addressing the concern about distinction between the revealed name of God and His actions. Although, Charles Wiley explains that these statements "Are to be understood as, are ways to enhance and deepen our understanding of the Trinity" this purpose doesn't seem to be found in the Trinity paper itself.

Instead the reports says, "The Trinity: God’s Love Overflowing” does not present an exhaustive or new doctrine of the Trinity. It aims to assist the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in reclaiming the doctrine of the Trinity in theology, worship, and life. Often the church takes up a theological issue only when there is great controversy—a time when a lack of consensus on an issue embroils the church in an intractable debate. The doctrine of the Trinity is a pressing issue for contemporary Presbyterians for precisely the opposite reason. Despite the remarkable renewal of Trinitarian theology in recent decades, this doctrine is widely neglected or poorly understood in many of our congregations. The task force is convinced that the doctrine of the Trinity is crucial to our faith, worship and service." emphasis mine [Lines 65-72]

This video, in fact the entire paper, could have been used to help counter the neglect and poor understanding. IMHO, as it stands this video, along with the received paper seems to have merely added to the ongoing debates in the PC(USA).


Monday, February 4

Essential Tenents

Continuing to comment on the video that has come from the powers-that-be* we move to a very short segment on Essential Tenets. If you scroll down the above link you can view just this portion. I've included the transcript of what is said below my comments. Please watch the video.

I feel like the whole question of essential tenets was swept under the carpet in this segment. What's worse it is at the very root of the current situation and crisis within the denomination. Watch the video because I believe some of the body language and vocalizations say a lot more than just the words.

It felt to me as if it were a throw away question. It was asked so when questioned by others the pob's (see * above) can say, "we dealt with that in a video segment already." I believe the force of this segment is to make essential tenets seem not all that important for leaders in the PC(USA).

  • Joe Small downplays the importance of the ordination question which asks: Do you sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do, and will you be instructed and led by those confessions as you lead the people of God (W-4.004d).
  • Contrary to Small's statement, ordinands (deacons, elders and ministers) are asked two questions, not several, about the confessions. In the above question our "essential tenets" are linked to and flow from our confessions. What our flavor of Christendom believes isn't rooted in Papal authority or one preacher's interpretation of the Bible. It has been adopted and refined over the course of the centuries and has proved to be Biblical and instructive for our faith and actions.
  • Small's dismissal of the language as coming from the 18th century seems to me disingenuous at best. I am sure he doesn't think that if it's old it should be ignored. If true then perhaps we should ignore our Constitution or the maybe even scripture itself. It is a historical
  • Essential tenets are about "Who God is? But if there we don't make a distinction between Islam's Allah and Starwars Force it seems we have a problem. If there is no clear starting point on our nature (are we naturally good or totally depraved) then how can our theology speak to the human condition. It is interesting that there has been little if any discussion about Jesus up to this point in the video. My LDS background seems to think that quite a few Bishops I know could agree so far with what's been said.
  • The "bullet list" which is dismiss, as "not being very helpful" is the sort of thing that establishes boundaries. It is the sort of thing that makes apparent the differences between the PC(USA) and the Latter Day Saints, People's Temple and Islam. I contend that the reason for not having a "bullet list" does not have it's roots in the 1920's but in the 1960's when everyone was encouraged to "do their own thing." I believe we've sowed the wind and we're reaping the whirlwind at this point in our denomination's life. I am worried that we're more concerned about upsetting this or that group, consistency, supporter, or the like than we are about upsetting God.
  • In the last section Small seems to use the Trinity as an example of why a bullet list isn't helpful. The implication I get is anyone can say they believe in the Trinity but what does Trinity really mean? I understand his emphasis on conversations between ordinand and the ordaining body. But the issue isn't just about key beliefs at the time of ordination. It's about a continuation in those beliefs after they've served on Session for the sixth time or served a congregation as pastor for 20 years.

IMHO it seems obvious from recent actions in Presbyteries around our nation, that there is a flawed understanding of what are and are not essentials. That would be a very egotistical judgment if it came from just me. It is the Larger Church; the Body of Christ around the world, our sisters and brothers in India, Africa, Latin and South America who continues to disagree with our pronouncements. It is they who call ours and other denominations to repentance and distances themselves from us and others until we do so.


Essential Tenets:

One of the questions people have asked a great deal about is the core of what we believe. Sometimes they phrase it in terms of essential tenets. What is really at the essence of what we believe, I take it that's what they're asking.

Joe Small:

The language of essential tenets comes to us from one our ordination questions. In several of the questions we are asked to indicate our willingness to be led and instructed and guided by the confessions of the church. And at one point we're asked if we can sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed Faith.

This is language that comes to us from the 18th century. And what is expressed in that, essentially tenets of the Reformed faith, is trying to indicate the core beliefs --what we believe about who God is, who we are and how we are to live in the world. To come up with a list of essential tenets; bullet point list of essential tenets seems to me to be not very helpful.

We can say that the trinity is an essential tenet. But the real question is what do we believe about the trinity. And that's best determined in conversations between those who are candidates for ordination to elder, deacon or minister of the Word and sacrament and the ordaining body whether a Presbytery or Session.

Friday, February 1

What is a denomination?

With movement happening in Peace River and Cascades Presbytery I thought it might be a good time to go through what we're hearing from Louisville. This is the first in a series of responses to the recently released video.

With more than a few congregations looking at withdrawing and headed another direction I found it sort of interesting that this apologetic started around the question of, "What is a denomination anyway?"

The reason for this starting place is to place what follows within the context of history and to show the rich, varied and unified past that we share as Presbyterians. Joe Small, Director Theology, Worship and Education, talk of the denomination as "give us by our mothers and fathers" and of being "bequeathed to us." He speaks of faith worship and mission as "shared" but not "identical" then explains sharing actually means "broadly shared convictions". He totally ignored the fact that our current denomination was formed in 1983 and that even then there was an escape clause for those from the Southern branch to leave the "family".

Here's my question, just when do "broadly shared convictions" become too thin to be convictions at all? When do convictions merely become ideas, thoughts, theories and nice stories?

  • Is visiting with a terrorist government or calling our troops in Iraq war criminals part of this richness of our shared convictions or an insult to those serving in our military and believe Israel has a right to exist? [This from one who is NOT in the Israel is always right camp].
  • Is ignoring or downplaying our constitutional ban on same-sex weddings part of these "broadly shared convictions" or a denial of ordination vows?
  • Is word play, Ms. Morrison told a San Francisco Examiner reporter, "It says 'chastity,' not 'celibacy'" central to our "broadly held convictions" or simply a step away from orthodox practice?

Charles Wiley, Coordinator Office of Theology and Worship, couches his answer in terms of Baptism and the Apostles Creed. Whereas Small's answers promotes the "common-ground" theme or "sound-bite theology" Wiley's wants to root to the wonderful past seen in our creedal standards.

One complaint since PUP is that we no longer are a confessional church since the declaration of a Session or Presbytery and set aside those items which are essential.

Give him his do, Wiley rightly says, "The Apostle's Creed expresses the church's faith throughout the centuries and is there for a guide to the church's common faith." Unfortunately he seems to think every pastor and member who reads, recites or responds with the Apostle's Creed actually believe it and have a uniform understanding of what it means. Think about how the LDS church and Christians use the same language and mean totally different things.

Joe Small says the confessions are, "Not a doctrinal rulebook". They are a "conversation that's carried on between us and those who lived and died the faith before us". Immediately following this he says, "So that, in the BOC [Book of Confessions] we give full expression to what we confess in the Apostles Creed, the communion of saints."

Now does his statement mean the Apostles Creed in preeminent in our Book of Confessions or that only in the area of the communion of saints it's preeminent? The last conversation in this part of the video has Wiley back pedaling from the "theological work" done by groups under the supervision of GA and Presbyteries and the "theological policy of the church". He says, "The church has only one theological policy and that is the BOC [Book of Confessions]. A book that is subordinate to the Scriptures yet is the constitutional embodiment of our theological standards."

I wish that were the case but it's not. Whether Small or Wiley want to admit it or not the PUP report, a theology that promotes and encourages beliefs and actions in violation of our confessions is a much stronger witness to the real "theological policy" of the PCUSA than any spin the powers-that-be can put on it.