Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Christmas Blessing of Peace (By John Underwood)

Dear Friends,

May the blessings of Christmas and the abiding peace of God be with you.

Be assured that the peace of God is real.
The peace of God abides in the world
And the peace of God abides in you.

Peace is not an illusion, it is a promise.

Friday, November 28, 2014

According to C.S. Lewis

A very dear friend sent me a letter by C.S. Lewis On the Evil of Christian Disunity ... just today and I am struck, yet again, by how God answers my endless questions. As I worshiped Thanksgiving Eve service at church, I began to miss many of my friends who were not there and quite a few questions began to pop into my head: Where were they? Why did I feel sad to be at church? Why did I not feel thankful for the leaders in my church? Was I sinning by not feeling grateful for my church leaders? From the beginning I have been sure about the wrong turn being taken by my church leadership. It is evil to break Christian unity and I am simply not able to be thankful for their efforts to take my church out of the PC(USA). "Schism is a very great evil, " wrote C.S. Lewis, more than 50 years ago, pithily! Reading his letter has also reminded me to be thankful for all the friends who were missing from our Thanksgiving Eve service. Not wanting to cause a schism, many have left quietly, heartsick, and too pained to worship with us anymore. Their faith too has been damaged but some continue to worship elsewhere. The letter reminded me, yet again, to encourage you to join me in prayers for them and for our leadership and to stay in dialog. Let us pray that faith is strengthened despite all the ugliness that is a part of the denominational discernment. Be encouraged by this graphic which shows that the number of churches that have left the PC (USA) are less than the new worshiping communities emerging. Cling to Jesus and above all, be steadfast in prayer for our church leadership, just like Lewis did.

Friday, November 14, 2014


#amexcited #amdelighted #amecstatic #booklovers #unite! Our project to build a Children's section, as part of a small public library ~10,000 books, for a community college has started! We have a few donors already and collected ~5000 books already. This post is not about this library project though, it is about the lessons I'm learning as I focus on the Spirit's leading. Here's what I learned today:  One, creative ideas do not spring from groups; they spring from originals (individuals). Originals are people not afraid of the fire within, that divine spark, ignited by God that is roaring within, consumed by the passion and gifts He's given them. Two, most of us are too afraid to be originals, and so we live our lives as copies, just following others (the world). Three, originals try to adapt the world to them, copies adapt to the world. Woot! The Scripture on which this is based is one of my favorites: Roman 12:2 The book I'm reading is: You're Born An Original, Don't Die A Copy by John L. Mason. Tulsa, Oklahoma, Insight International, 1993. 

Monday, November 3, 2014


The denominational discernment update yesterday was not the whole truth. Yes, the Presbytery has appointed three people to the Joint Discernment Team (JDT). Our church is entitled to the same number but yesterday, I learned that our church has appointed at least 5 people; it may be even more as I lost track after the first three. I am wondering how this is even possible? Thus, one of the reasons for the delay is pretty clear :(. Clearly the JDT cannot meet until the two sides are evenly represented. Is equal representation really that hard of a concept to understand? And, what is the work of the JDT? I heard nothing about this. I wonder why. I just feel so very sad.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


No beasts are so cruel as the Christians are in their dealings with each other. Ammianus Marcellinus (c. AD 330 - 95).  Absolution by Murder by Peter Tremayne. Set in #Ireland this is 7th century #historical fiction with meticulous research. Tremayne is, as you may know, the pseudonym for Peter Ellis, an authority on the Celts. This murder mystery is his imaginative re telling of the conflict of the Synod of AD 664. Celtic and Roman churches met at Whitby to debate and decide matters of liturgy and ritual. Instead of just discussion there is action! In fact, there are a couple of unholy murders. This is a Sister Fidelma and Brother Eadulf mystery. Interesting read. Recommended. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Update on the Remedial Compliants and Stays

10/02/14 Update - On the same day I posted Forrest Claassen, Stated Clerk posted Orders of the SPJC (the official announcement of the remedial complaints) on the Presbytery of Los Ranchos blog. You can read it from here:

Earlier this summer I posted about the remedial complaints that resulted in Stays of the dismissal. Well, 7 congregations have now finally left our Presbytery of Los Ranchos. People staying in the presbytery are grieving their leaving. At the Gathering last week, September 18, we prayed by laying hands on them. Today, I continue to pray for God's blessings on all of us, the churches leaving, those staying, those discerning whether to stay or leave. Most of all, though, I pray for the Spirit's comfort and guidance of those whose faith has been negatively impacted by us. This is not one of our finest moments. Tom and Forrest have said it well in their posts Where Are We Now? (taking time and space to grieve) and Church Departures: What's Next? (for church member, pastor, inquirer/candidate, member of a presbytery committee, etc.). Here's what happened.

Friday, September 26, 2014

When Grace Came To IPC: Rev. Dr. Jerry Tankersley

Not long ago, one of our lay preachers gave a sermon titled When Grace Came to Town. I don't remember the passage on which she preached or what she talked about. The title, however stuck with me because grace - human and divine - is a big theme of this blog. This Wednesday, I felt divine grace visited IPC in the person of Jerry Tankersley. I pray that my brothers and sisters in IPC will sense the same and our Session turn away from the undertaking of denominational realignment.

I wish I were full of grace and patience like the Rev. Dr. Jerry Tankersley, Senior Pastor at Laguna Pres. Church, who spoke at our Town Hall this week. Jerry and his church are staying in the PC (USA) and he's been sharing their reasons with many of the churches in our presbytery for the last year. His address on this same topic at Trinity United (Santa Ana) was on Sept. 29, 2013, almost exactly a year ago. He's like "a beggar" as Jerry himself noted wryly in his conclusion, pleading for Christian unity. Yet, there was no trace of disappointment or discouragement in his voice. Only grace. As for me, I realized, yet again, as I looked around the room, how much I love my IPC family. This is where God brought me 8 years ago and where I have found many loving brothers and sisters. This is my mission field, he affirms over and over again, and the truth is I've now spent more time with this congregation than any other. They've loved and nurtured my faith even as I hope I have served them, as best I can and in his strength. The faces all looked so dear in the evening light; many were deeply and clearly concerned, even showing pain. Thanks to everybody who's praying for all of us. I continue to covet your prayers for this particular fruit of the Spirit in me: Patience/Forbearance.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Errata (Eyes on Christ book of Aug 2014)

Dear Readers, 

It is always embarrassing to find errors in a book after publication but typographical errors are often common and quite as easily forgiven. However, I’m afraid I must report and correct a significant error in the Eyes on Christ kindle and print editions of August 2014. The correction has now been made to the kindle edition published 22 September 2014 and will be made to the print as well, in the days to come (probably through a new revised edition). The errata sheet is also being made available online so you can print the correction yourself.