Thursday, December 23, 2004

Not Too Old to Rock & Roll!

Just when I thought I was getting too old to rock and roll - my church surprised me with a 50th birthday gift: a brand new Eric Clapton Signiture model Fender Stratocaster and a Mesa Boogie amp! Was I ever surprised!!! I found out later that the youth group had cooked up this wonderful idea and had been collecting money for months with out my knowing! My what great kids we have at Westminster.... It is also the 50 year anniversary for Fender - who would have thunk!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Lily of the Valley

It has been a while since I've had the time to blog. The best thing that has happened recently is the birth of my granddaughter Lily. She is a wonderful little girl. Yesterday I was watching as Melia was working on a music project in the music room. I dozed off with Lily sleeping on my chest. She is so tiny, so precious and filled with such possibilities as her life begins. What a wonderful gift from God. Born on Thanksgiving morning. Link to more pictures- of course!

Click For more Lily Ulani Mann Pictures!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

50th at CPPC

This last weekend Teri and I went to CPPC (Canoga Park Presbyterian Church) to celebrate 50 years of ministry at the church. I was a great time and we got to ee a lot of old friends. Some of us are much older friends than we used to be. I thought it was interesting to note that I am also turning 50 this year. I wish I would have taken some pictures when we were there.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Do you hear what I hear? Do you see what I see?

The first Westminster Town Hall Meeting to discuss the Vision Team Report was an important step forward in the visioning process. Yet, for the first half of the meeting, I struggled and wondered if we were communicating. I was reminded of the Christmas carol that asks the questions, "Do you hear what I hear? Do you see what I see? Do you know what I know?" It was clear in the first few minutes that the order for the meeting needed to be set aside and much more time was to be spent discussing and bringing an understanding of just what the Vision Team Report is and what the report is attempting to help us do as a congregation.

The report is not intended to be a polished document. The team decided to present the report in a way that would reflect the brainstorming process and hopefully spark open honest conversation and reflection. So it purposely contains raw and uncut statements as a way to get people to personally struggle with the questions. This was a risk and a very different way of doing things. Many terms and words are not intended to be exacting. Other approaches may have been better and easier, but I'm glad we took the risk.

While the report is not intended to be exacting, the team found it needed to develop
words and definitions that have specific meanings to communicate unique things in the life of Westminster. The terms: vision, Spanish speaking congregations, English speaking congregation, Bilingual congregation and one church are used in specific ways in the report, and understanding how these terms are used is very important to understanding the whole structure of the report. These terms are explained in the introductory pages of the report.

It is very important to understand that the report is intended to be a list of observations of the past and present. It is not intended to be a report of prescriptions and directions for the future. The team felt that a clear vision starts with discerning where we've been and where we are. We need to have a clear picture of what God is doing in the here and now before we attempt to understand God's future for us. Many churches struggle because they are either trapped in unresolved issues from the past or so concerned about the future that they miss what God is doing in the midst of the church now. The report tries hard not to make judgments about what should be. Rather, it is an attempt to observe what is now. It was hard not to offer solutions and directions and a few do slip into the report, but solutions and directions are for the next phase and the new vision team.

For now, we need to be about the hard necessary process of looking at ourselves, trying to discover and discern what God is doing in the midst of us. We need to compare notes. We need to be asking, "Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear? Do you know what I know?" As we find common vision; we will see what God is up to with Westminster. Another Westminster Town Hall meeting to further interact with the report is scheduled for Sunday November 7th at 4:00 - 5:30 PM. I hope you will be there. The meeting will be in English only and childcare will be provided.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Vision Report Town Hall Meeting

The Vision Team has finished their report,but that means that the Westminster Transformation Project is just getting started. 

The Vision Team met from December 2003 to July 2004 to seek a vision from God for Westminster. 

The team defined "vision" as an understanding of what God has been doing, is doing and will be doing.  They prayed and shared openly with each other the things that came to the their hearts and minds as the team discussed various aspects of life and ministry at Westminster.

The result is a series of lists of concerns, grouped around four dynamic of the transforming church.  They asked hard questions such as: What is working? What is not working? What should we stop doing? What should we start doing?

Sunday October 24 at 4 PM, the report will be presented in English at a church town hall meeting. The next Sunday the report will be presented in Spanish. At these meetings we will discover which parts of the report the church relates to or bears witness to as being on target.  From there the session will develop an intentional plan for change and growth.
Get a report here


A picture from my fishing trip with Melia and Micah this fall.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Web site is back

Wow - my web site is back - Now I can stop worrying about it and do some blogging.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


My web site still isn't working!Revnorman

Monday, October 04, 2004

my web site is missing!!!!!!

Somehow Yahoo turned off my web site and all my pictures have disappeared! I'm trying to get it back up soon. Hopefully they will answer me and we can work this out. O the joys of technology.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Back Yard

Sitting in the back yard
Watching the sprinklers water the lawn
Sounds like a water fall
Clouds are gray
Air is cool and damp
Hot coffee from a barista coffee maker
Good dark roast coffee with cream
A dog barks in the neighbors yard

Monday, September 27, 2004

Randy Played My Guitar

Randy Stonehill played during our worship service at WPC last week. It was great to have him there! He played some great songs. All our teenagers sat in the front row. Sorry to say Randy's guitar was damaged on his plane flight. But the cool result was that he borrowed my guitar both that morning and for another concert that evening. I thought about having him scratch his initials on the back of my Taylor guitar, but later had second thoughts. He is still writing some great songs. Rock on Randy!

Friday, August 20, 2004

Very long but very good and worth reading

Not an Ideal but a Divine Reality
Life Together
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God's grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves.

By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream. God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth. Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God's sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community. Sooner or later it will collapse. Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.

God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.

Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for what He has done for us. We thank God for giving us brethren who live by His call, by His forgiveness, and His promise. We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what He does give us daily. And is not what has been given us enough: brothers, who will go on living with us through sin and need under the blessing of His grace? Is the divine gift of Christian fellowship anything less than this, any day, even the most difficult and distressing day? Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Thus the very hour of
disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together— the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. When the morning mists of dreams vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian

In the Christian community thankfulness is just what it is anywhere else in the Christian life. Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things? If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.

This applies in a special way to the complaints often heard from pastors and zealous members about their congregations. A pastor should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men. When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has been placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself first to see whether the trouble is not due to his wish dream that should be shattered by God; and if this be the case, let him thank God for leading him into this predicament. But if not, let him nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God. Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief. Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in the consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren. Let him do what he is committed to do, and thank God.

Christian community is like the Christian's sanctification. It is a gift of God which we cannot claim. Only God knows the real state of our fellowship, of our sanctification. What may appear weak and trifling to us may be great and glorious to God. Just as the Christian should not be constantly feeling his spiritual pulse, so, too, the Christian community has not been given to us by God for us to be constantly taking its temperature. The more thankfully we daily receive what is given to us, the more surely and steadily will fellowship increase and grow from day to day as God pleases.

Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all our fellowship is in Jesus Christ alone, the more serenely shall we think of our fellowship and pray and hope for it.

Just a picture

This is picture from our trip to Wisconsin this summer. It was taken by Ruth Harmon on the shores of Lake Superior.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

MDA is MAD spelled inside out

Glad to say it wasn't as bad as it appeared. A few kind folks came to my rescue and I was able to pay a bail with $190 dollars! I looked at the list of bail payments and there and there among the $2000's and 3000's was a measley $100 donations, which means my conritbution was not the lowest!

Getting arrested

Later today I will be put in jail for good! Actually, the The Muscular Dystrophy Association(MDA) does this thing where they "arrest" comunity leader types and hold you hostage (at a resturant with free food) until you raise your bail ($2500). Well, I sent out my letters and talked to folks - so far I have pledges for a whole $25.00! So - I may never get out and have to live at A.P. Stumps for the rest of my life. I'm thinking not showing - but it sounds like they will send the police out to find you. I need to find out who volunteered my for this and have a long talk with them. "Long talk" is a nice way of saying- I need to strangle them! I am really not into calling everyone I know this afternoon and to ask them for money. Lord rescue me from this terrible fate - I might have to talk with people I don't know at A.P. Stumps....

Thursday, July 29, 2004

O How I hate to fly!

I'm sitting in the airport getting ready to enter a hollow metal tube and travel at outrageous speeds thousands of feet above the terra firma. I just keep telling myself that, even though this does appear to be impossible and quite dangerous; people do this everyday. I also repeat other mantras like: "the pilot doesn't want to crash any more that you do" or "the airlines don't want a lawsuit any more than you want to crash."

I repeat the mantras. I internally chant the mantras. I make them into little songs and sing them over and over again in my head. But just as the tension starts to leave my neck and I feel like I can remove my finger nails from the seatback that is in front of me, a little voice in my head starts to whisper,

"Even though people do this safely every day, sometime people crash".

So I switch to my second mantra, "the pilot doesn't want to crash any more that you do".

The voice whispers:
"What if the pilot is having a bad day? What if he arrived home after his last flight to find his wife in bed with another man? What if he had too much to drink before take off?"

My third, and last mantra: "the airlines don't want a lawsuit any more than you want to crash."

The voice returns:
"If the airline can cut enough corners, save enough money on expensive airline plane maintenance, things like cheaper bolts on the wings, running the jet engines into the ground, the profits would be worth the risk of a lawsuit. What if the airlines maintain their planes like you maintain your car?"
By now my neck is tense. My fingernails have found the vinyl seat back in front of me. The passenger next to me is asking if I'm all right. My skin is whiter than white. The flight attendant is rolling her eyes in my direction. She has seen this before. She signals her partner and they start to prepare the wet sheet they will wrap my in to keep me constrained. The last thing they need is a portly balding Presbyterian minister running up and down the aisles screaming.

Thankfully before they take the sheet from its compartment another voice says, "This is your captain. We will be landing in about 15 minutes."

I can hold on for another 15 minutes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

My Aunt Ruth

My aunt Ruth is dying. I'll be going to see her tomorrow. I think I'll spend some time writing about her on the plane trip.

Back packing blues

I didn't go back packing this year. I saw the group off at 6:30 AM. They loaded their packs in the trailer. We made a circle, prayed and sang the doxology. The hopped in the vehicals and left. I took off for Starbucks and waved as the turned on to Julian Street. All through the day I prayed for them and as i did I pictured what they would be doing. Driving, talking, laughing, pit stops, getting the permit and eventually strapping on their packs and taking the long hike up the hill. Sweating, eating dust, straining, groaning, pushing on and the end getting there! The lake, the trout, the camp fires, the long talks, pooping in the woods and drinking filtered water from the lake. I wish I was there. God bless the back packers!

Friday, July 09, 2004


To blog or not to blog that is the question. I thought that I would get into this - but I'm not sure.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Safari glitch rant

As much as I love Macs - the Safari browser drives me crazy. It doesn't seem to want to load pages from If you keep pounding your return button it finally submits and will load the page. I've had this happen on other pages also - Think different - build things that work.

Monday, July 05, 2004


Teri, Steve, Melia, Micah and Micah in a car for 6 hours. Singing along with St. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Drinking cucumber and lemon flavored water. Crawling over the grapevine. Jumping in the pool. Seeing old friends and the wedding. Cruising down Ventura Blvd. Pickles and onion bagels at Jerry's World Famous Deli. Melia, Micah and Micah meeting up with old friends at Universal City Walk. Teri and Steve crashing early in the hotel room. Donut shops on every corner in the valley. German sausage, 4th of July parade, fudge and ice cream in Solvang. Racing to get back to San Jose before 6:30 so everyone can catch the fire works. Traffic jam. We make it in time. Everyone goes to the fireworks except Steve and Teri, who crashed on the couch and missed the fireworks. But we have seen fireworks before...

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Collecting Stories about God

I'm collecting stories of how people have experienced God in their lives. I believe that God desires to reveal himself to each of us. But not one of us can know God in God's completeness in this life. As the Scripture says, "we see through a glass darkly". It is by sharing our spirtual experiences with others that we gain insight and understanding into who God is and how He involves His children in the life of His kingdom. In many ways, the Bible is a collection of stories of how everyday people experienced the Living God.

I once asked Steve, my brother-in-law, what his favorite TV show was and he surprised me when he replied that he didn't watch TV.
"But you have a TV in your house. I've seen it."

"Yeah, but I don't watch TV. I play TV."

What he meant was that he played video games. He had no interest in a vicarious life of news, sitcoms and game shows. He wanted involvement, participation, and more control than a mere remote control. Seated in his easy chair, Nintendo control in hand, Steve was playing TV.

I've never really gotten into video games past Pong, but I understand what Steve was saying. You can only sit on the sidelines so long. At some point you want to get off the bench and get into the game. Sad to say, many of the things we do at church seem to say that faith is a passive vicarious thing, rather than an active living involvement. We sit in pews, listen to sermons, and read scriptures. All passive. All playing off someone else's experience. When do we get into the action and experience it for ourselves?

From now until Christmas, I am collecting stories of how people in our church experience God for themselves. They could be stories of answered prayer, unanswered prayer, how you met God, a time you knew God was close, a time you heard God, or a time you stepped out in faith. I will use some of these stories as the basis of the 2005 Lent Adventure devotion journal. All stories will be printed anonymously. Please email your stories to me at

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Dental Surgery

All went better than expected! I am feeling fine and there was very little pain. The titanium socket has been planted in my jaw and it has to heal for six months before they can put on the tooth. It really is a long process, but I think it will be worth it.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

I'm not looking forward to Monday Morning

I would appreciate any and all prayers on Monday morning. I'm going to be getting a dental implant for a tooth I broke and it had to be removed. It is going to be quite a process. I don't like going to the dentist, but I dislike being put under anesthesia even more.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Office Nightmare

I am committed to getting my office organized! It has been a tiring, overwhelming process. My desk, couch, coffee table and chairs are now clear. People come in to my office and almost fall over from shock! I'm not sure if this is good or bad. I think the clearing the bookcase is the next step to serenity. Below is an artist's rendition of my office's usual appearance

Thursday, June 24, 2004


Wow - here is a picture of my grandaughter in utero! Amazing! I've been watching all sorts of baby TV shows to get used to the idea of having a little one around the house again. It has been a long time since there has been a baby around.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Trip to Wisconsin

Teri and I spent a wonderful 10 days in Wisconsin for Alex and Karissa's wedding. We also took a quick trip to the UP and visited some friends in Munising.

I'm just getting started

Hmmm .... I don't think I should have started this just before I was to leave for work. I guess I'll work on this later