Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Life Chart


I posted this a while back, but someone just sent it to me today and I think it is worth repeating

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Grandkids


I bought Lily, Jedi and Silas all Mickey Mouse ears when I was in FL... I just found this picture of them on Melia's blog and had to steal it and post it on my blog...

Friday, December 19, 2008

recovery


All is well on the recovery front. I tried a brief journey to Safeway yesterday at about 5:30 AM to forage for eggs and half and half - I thought I was up to it - but thank the Lord for the nice young man who walked around the store and got things for me... once I got there I realized that I was not really ready for any shopping trips and I wasn't willing to try out the little motorized shopping cart. So the rest the day I kept my foot up as per the doctors orders and Shannon's ever ready reminders... Today is great so far. I found I can sit up and work at the dining room table and keep my foot over my heart by putting my foot up on a pillow on the table. (We'll see how long this lasts) So far no need for pain killers and I am very thankful for that. Side comment: There is not much worth watching on daytime TV.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Foot Surgery


Hey - If anyone is wondering the surgery went well! I am home alone recovering (don't tell my Dr because he wanted to someone to be with me all day). I just watched Will Smith in the Pursuit of Happiness and the switched to Oprah and she is interviewing Will Smith today...do I see a theme...what does this mean...probably that I WILL be able to continue to PURSUE HAPPINESS until the meds wear off in a few hours...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

More Tree lighting pictures





Christmas Tree Lighting






We had a great crowd for the 15th Annual Tree Lighting at Westminster. The mayor of San Jose was here. Three area schools attended - There was standing room only!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Father's Love Begotten


QUESTION: How do our holiday celebrations reflect the love of God as expressed in the life and ministry of Jesus?
ANSWER: Not very well.
The very sad truth is that our Christmas celebrations are often marked by consumerism and overindulgence. It is not that God is anti-celebration. God loves it when his people celebrate. In fact the Bible commands us to celebrate the good things of God.
During Advent we’ll look at four Advent celebrations in Scripture and ask two questions: What is being celebrated? And how could our Christmas celebrations reflect the Father’s love begotten through Jesus in the world today? Come and explore new ways to celebrate that are more congruent with the one whose birth we are celebrating November 30 – December 21 at Westminster.
So here is an advent idea:
How about having a family meeting this week and talk about Christmas and how you celebrate it?
Share stories about the “comfort foods” of Christmas – not just he foods but the things you always want to do because they bring you closer together and remind you of home and family.
Share the things that drive you a bit crazy at Christmas and could be discontinued.
Share about new things you could do to make this Christmas more Christian.
Agree on a plan for a simpler, more Christian Christmas.
For ideas- Find out about the Advent Conspiracy:
www.adventconspiracy.org

More alternative celebration ideas:
www.simpleliving.org

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Westminster Stuff

Someone once said, “Change is always difficult and if it isn’t difficult it isn’t significant change.” If that is true and I think it is, I am very happy to say that we’ve been experiencing true change at Westminster this last year. At our congregational meeting last year we voted to change our number of elders from 12 to 7. This may have seemed like a small change, but it was an important piece of a bigger plan.
For many years sessions have been seen as the managing center of the church. In some ways this has worked well, but in other ways it has not. A plus is always having people to fill positions, but a negative is that the gifting and passion of the incoming elders does not always fit the open positions. Another downside is that the visioning and governing role of elders is often lost, as session members are too focused on their own individual committees to have a sense of the whole picture of the church. When the session is in essence a committee of committee chairs, it is easy to lose a sense of the overall vision and leadership can degrade to turf wars.
The new plan relieves the elders of most of the committee and ministry responsibilities so they can actually be the visioning and governing board of the church. The committees and ministries are then lead by gifted lay leaders and/or staff who work under the direction and broad guidance of the session. The structure allows for the ministry leaders and committee leaders to have more freedom to move forward without session having to micromanage every action. The result is more actual ministry and less committee meetings and red tape.
This first year has not been without its bumps and everything is not yet functioning as envisioned, but much great progress has been made. The most progress has been in the growth of small groups, more community building opportunities and the good work being done to beautify our church campus We now have 7 study groups and 5 fellowship groups! Our Sunday Welcome Table and New Dinner Groups are helping build community. The painting of the sanctuary and the remolding of the bathrooms are just a few of the projects that have been accomplished. There are many good things happening.
In January at the annual session retreat will be evaluating our progress, regrouping and moving forward into 2009 and beyond. Thanks to everyone who has been patient and willing to take risks to try something new. Remember the 7 last words of the church are: We have never done it that way before.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Florida Trip Pictures




Shannon and I spent a few days visiting the Piper's in Florida. Due to our 50 and over year old bladders, I think we visited every restroom in the park. It was great to see Greg and Julie and Dave and Debbie. I was able to show off my awesome driving skills at the Magic Kingdom. The day at Disney concluded with a wonderful dinner on the top floor of the Contemporary Hotel watching the fireworks display.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A new poem

Here is a poem I am enjoying that I heard a while back on the the Writer's Almanac:

Sing we and chant it
While love doth grant it.
Not long youth lasteth,
And old age hasteth.
Now is best leisure
To take our pleasure.

All things invite us
Now to delight us.
Hence, care, be packing!
No mirth be lacking!
Let spare no treasure
To live in pleasure.

"Sing we and chant it..." by Anonymous. Public Domain. 1595

Friday, October 31, 2008

From "A Word about Praise" in C.S. Lewis's Reflections on the Psalms:

But the most obvious fact about praise - whether of God or anything - strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise - lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game - praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians of scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least...
I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: "Isn't she lovely? Wasn't it glorious? Don't you think that magnificent?" The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

You asked for it!



A lot of folks have commented that they noticed that I’ve lost a lot of weight from seeing my pictures on my blog and have asked for my secret. Here it is:

As of today, I have lost 80 pounds and 4 pants sizes! It has taken about 2.5 years. About a year or so ago my son-in-laws parents shared this diet with me. It speed up my weight loss and it has worked wonders. I have lost around 50 of those pounds on this diet. I don’t know where the diet originated. It says it is from the Max Planck Institute of Nutrition in Germany – but they claim that it is not from them.

I do the diet for 2 weeks and then stabilize at that weight for at least a month if not two before trying it again. Exercise has also been key. I started with cardio once or twice a week and now exercise every day for an hour and just added weights a few days ago.

Just a couple of more things about the diet:
• It is not really from Max Planck Institute of Nutrition, Germany. They deny any connection.
• The diet claims that you can lose 20 pounds in two weeks. The Max Planck Institute of Nutrition also says that even if you were starving you would not lose the amount of weight the diet claims you would lose - so don't expect a 20 lb loss!
• I do think you can expect a 5 -10 lbs loss.
• I would follow it as closely as possible the first time to do it and modify it later. I have suggestions for modification when you go for it the next time. I did break down the second week my first time through and added cream to my coffee and salad dressing...
• Taking a multivitamin is really important and drink lots of water. I take a multivitamin for men, E, C, Fish Oil, Garlic and cranberry pills.
• You should also try to exercise 3 times each week for a minimum of 30 mins of good cardio - like a treadmill or bike - bikes are good for lower impact on your feet and knees.
• I would then take off a week or two (sometimes a month) before doing the diet again - during that time I would eat low carb (Adkins maintenance style) and no sugar and alcohol only once a week (why does beer have to be so fattening?)
• Sleeping at least 8 hours is good for weight loss
• Eating after 7:30 PM is a bad thing
• Tell yourself constantly “It is only for two weeks!”
• I found it helpful to buy all the food for each week in advance and pre-make as many meals as possible- especially the lunches - I often graze on the food for the day rather than just eat it at meal time


A few modifications:
I interpret green salad as any vegetable you would put in a salad – cucumber, tomato, olives, onions, and so on.
Sometimes I get sick of salad and have a vegetable.
I have mushrooms and onions with my steak.
I use steak sauce, ketchup, mustard, salad dressing.
I often fry stuff rather than grill or boil it.

Here is an unedited version of the diet. Don’t believe what is claims at the end:

Saturday
Breakfast as much black coffee without sugar as desired
Lunch 2 boiled eggs, spinach with little salt
Dinner 1 big steak (grilled or broiled) or 3 roasted mini-steaks, green salad and any
amount of fruit

Sunday
Breakfast as much black coffee without sugar as desired, 1 serving-sized bread item
Lunch 1 big steak, green salad and any amount of fruit
Dinner boiled ham without limit

Monday
Breakfast as much black coffee without sugar as desired, 1 serving-sized bread item
Lunch 2 boiled eggs, lettuce and tomatoes
Dinner boiled ham and green salad

Tuesday
Breakfast as much black coffee without sugar as desired, 1 serving-sized bread item
Lunch 1 boiled egg, boiled or raw carrots, Swiss cheese
Dinner fruit and natural yogurt

Wednesday
Breakfast as much black coffee without sugar as desired, carrots with lemon
Lunch steamed fish and tomatoes
Dinner 1 steak and green salad

Thursday
Breakfast as much black coffee without sugar as desired, 1 serving-sized bread
Lunch grilled (or broiled) chicken
Dinner 2 boiled eggs, carrots

Friday
Breakfast tea with lemon and without sugar
Lunch 1 grilled or broiled steak, fruit of choice
Dinner free: whatever one chooses – whatever one wishes

The food and drink items cited above without any quantity or amount specified may be consumed in any amount desired. Throughout this diet, one should be drinking large quantities of mineral water. Throughout this diet, alcohol in any form is strictly forbidden. On the 8th day, the diet plan begins again from the beginning and runs for another week (2 weeks altogether). After the two weeks, one may resume normal eating habits.

When one strictly keeps to this diet plan as it is laid out here, he/she will lose 9 kg. (ca. 20 lbs.) in the two-week period. Clothing size will be changed, and the lost weight will not be regained for three years.

(From the Max Planck Institute of Nutrition, Germany) (not)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Camp pictures on Sunday


Just a note to say that we will be showing slides of the Hot August Moons Church Camp Out this Sunday after worship.
Bring your slides on a CD in .jpg format and we'll add them to the show!

Prayer for today...

I have a prayer book that has a prayer written by a Christian brother or sister from history for each day of the week.

Here is one for today from Dwight L. Moody (1837-99)

Use me, then, my Savior, for whatever purpose, and in whatever way, Thou may require. Here is my poor heart, an empty vessel; fill it with thy grace. Here is my sinful and troubled soul; quicken it and refresh it with thy love. Take my heart for Thine abode; my mouth to spread abroad the glory of Thy name; my love and all my powers, for the advancement of your believing people; and never suffer the steadfastness and confidence of my faith to abate; so that at all times I may be enabled from the heart to say, ‘Jesus needs me and I am His.” AMEN

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A poem I enjoy

Here is a poem that has been running through my heart and mind the past few weeks. I first read this in my English Lit. class at Bethany and have loved it ever since. This summer, while enjoying the beauty of God's creation it came to my mind. Don't let the "old English" put you off - this poem is worth wading into and spending some time in the images, rhythm and sounds...

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89). Poems. 1918.

13. Pied Beauty


GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Message from the Present to the Future



A few days ago, Lily and I were digging out the stump from an old bush in the front lawn. While we were digging we thought we hit a big rock, but it turned out to be an old water turn off box. It was really sort of exciting to uncover the box and look inside. Finding it empty we decided to write a letter to the future, when someone might be digging in that spot to plant something new. We wrote a note telling who we were, the date and added, "Jesus Loves You." Placed the note in a baggy and buried it back up.

Discovery Museum



Last Friday Shannon and I took my grand daughter, Lily, and Shannon's nephew, Finn, to the Discovery Museum in San Jose. Here are a few pictures. If you are looking for Africa pictures - they are coming! I also just posted a few more sermons on my pod cast site and more are coming.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

What I really was up to in Austria


Africa pictures are coming soon - But first I had to cleanse my soul and confess what the trip to Austria was really all about: DESSERT!

Silas visits Grandpa


Well, I am back from Africa and hope to be posting some pictures and reflections soon BUT Silas came to visit me at the office today - What can I say?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Austria

This is my second day in Austria. I arrived yesterday after an 8 hour plane flight, 4 hour lay over and another 2 hours in the air from Brussels. It was quite an adventure. I sat next to a diplomat's relative from Entebbe to Brussels, who gave me a great inside view of East African life and politics.

Changing money from dollars to euro was quite the shock! $300 dollars came out to about 175 euro. In Uganda it was quite the opposite with $100 coming to 155500 schillings.

It has been really good to see the Mann's and learn more about what God is doing through their lives in Austria. They live right on the Danube river. I've been watching boats and barges pass by from their window. Tonight they will have a prayer meeting in their home with folks that help them in their ministry. I think it will all be in German, so this should be interesting. Being in places where English is not the main language has been an interesting and challenging part of the trip. Tanzania's official language is Swahili. Some people knew a little English - but I only knew how to say, "Hello. How are you? I am fine." in Swahili and not very well at all and it didn't get me very far. Fortunate, Godfrey my Tanzanian guide and friend was never too far away and could rescue me!

When I get home, I hope to post some pictures and go through my journal to recount some of my experiences over the past few weeks.

Thanks to everyone who has been writing me emails even though I haven't been able to answer very often. The messages from home have been great

Saturday, June 14, 2008

On the shores of beautiful Lake Victoria

Hey! I've been in Africa for about 10 days now and this is the first chance I've had to get any solid computer time. I am in Bulima, Tanzania at Nassa Theological College. Westminster supports this school as a mission through Africa Inland Missions. I thought it would be in the city of Mwanza, but I am out in the sticks - but they have the best internet access that I have encountered so far on this trip.
I was inivited to preach in chapel yesterday and it was a great honor. The students here work hard and really seem to know their Bibles. I've been able to spend time with some of the profs and their families -It has been great!

A school teacher, named Godfrey has been showing me around and acting as my guide. He has a great sense of humor and has been much fun and really good guide.

My first week was in Uganda. I was in a much more urban area, filled with motor scooters (boda bodas)bikes, diesel fumes, people walking, cows and goats and store fronts on every inch of street space selling big hanging hunks of beef and everyone burning fires in front of their shops. The traffic is wild with people darting in and out on the boda bodas and trying to cross with out getting hit. I was excited to learn about the Ugandan Presbyterian Church and met with a pastor who shared their history with me. I'll share more about this later.

Tomorrow I go to spend the night at the Tanzania Children's Rescue Center. Monday I return to Kompala, Uganda and will see Pat Montgomery again. Pat lead a workshop for teachers this weekend in Kompala. Then on to Austria to see the Mann's on Wednesday.

Monday, June 02, 2008

All the Grandkids


Memorial day and the grandkids destroy the house - but it was fun!

Livingston, I presume?

Hey-
I'm taking off for Africa on Wednesday! I'm not taking my laptop so I'm not sure if I'll be blogging on the trip - but I will for sure when I get back. I can't believe this is really happening... please pray that things go well and I came back with a good plan for next years WPC Africa Mission Trip!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Westminster Annual Pastor's Report

Here is my annual report for 2007:
It was so good to come back from my Sabbatical in February of 2007 and find Westminster as vibrant and healthy as ever. Thanks again for the wonderful gift of sabbatical and many thanks to everyone who worked extra hard while I was away.

God has been moving at Westminster this past year, as we have sought to know God and do God’s will as the part of the Body of Christ that meets on the corner of Shasta and The Alameda. It has been a joyful and challenging journey to discover what it means to equip and call Christians of all ages to answer the call of God on their lives.


To help us move closer to our vision, in late 2007, we decided on a plan to reduce the size of the session. The idea was to move from session being a meeting of "committee chairs" to being the group that focuses on the overall vision of the church. Most all of the usual committee work was delegated to staff, ministry teams, and committees under the direction of the session. In addition to their monthly meetings, session now holds special quarterly meetings that include all staff, ministry team leaders and committee chairs to pray, plan, and share concerns, successes and vision. This restructuring is an attempt to free people to serve in their areas of giftedness.

I was also very encouraged by the God Nights, and other special worship times and prayer ministry in 2007. We are moving and growing in our understanding and practice of worship by finding times and expressions of worship outside of traditional Sunday mornings.

Two vision areas that we are continuing to grow in are short-term missions and community outreach. I am praying that God will help us move forward in a significant way in both types of outreach. The Africa mission group started meeting in 2007, and we are ready for a pre-mission trip site visit in June, leading towards a mission trip in 2009. In the fall, I plan to start an intentional outreach strategy to reach families and singles in our church neighborhood. A special ministry team to these ends will be formed in August or September. I believe that it is important to remember that both foreign missions and local missions are equally part of God’s call to the church. Our continued involvement in the Alameda Business Association and PACT has been a vital link to our community.

Many upgrades and improvements have been made in our building and grounds in 2007 and in 2008. Thanks to everyone who has been involved! It is good to see so many folks taking pride and ownership of our facility. After a few years of struggling to replace our playground, it looks like ground will be breaking soon on that project.

I am very encouraged by the new small groups, Sunday Morning welcome table, and other ministry ideas that are in the wings to help us connect and build community at Westminster.

I feel strongly that God is moving in our fellowship and is transforming lives and saving souls. I pray for renewal in all of our lives as we joyfully follow God together at WPC. I believe that our church is a place where can walk forward to realize the dreams God has placed in our hearts. I thank God for his goodness in my life and hold dearly the privilege of being your pastor.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Africa Mission Update

It was over a year ago that I first felt a nudge from the Spirit about a Westminster Africa Mission trip. The night that Missionary Frank Dimmock spoke to us about his mission, He invited us to pray about sending a group to Africa. I thought, “Wow this might fit well with our vision for short term missions at WPC.” Then I sensed a still small voice saying, “We could do that.”

Over the next year, I talked with our missions committee, held several informational meetings, got educated, and prayed.

Here’s what I have learned:
• WPC has many connections to Africa through members of our church and through ongoing mission support.
• WPC has adults who are interested and willing to go on a mission trip outside the US.
• African pastors urge US churches who are contemplating a mission trip to Africa to send a representative on a pre-trip to build relationships a year or so before the group arrives.
• We need to visit our missionaries and participate on the field as a major way to revitalize WPC’s vision for world missions.
• It is important for the senior pastor to lead the way in local and world mission.

Action Steps:
I am going on a pre-mission trip June 4 -24 to visit several possible projects, develop relationships, and visit some of our missionaries. While in Africa, will be visiting Uganda, Tanzania, and possibly Lesotho. On the way home, I’ll be visiting our missionaries in Austria.

When I return, we will settle on a project and move forward with setting dates for a 2009 Africa Mission Trip with a team of 8 – 10 adults.
Please pray for this effort, and seek the Lord as to how you might be personally involved.

Get involved:
Contact pastor Steve Norman to find out how you can be a part of this mission.
(408)-294-7447 X12, Steve@RevNorman.com

Stay Connected:
Check out Westminster’s Africa Mission Blog for more updates and info- See link to the right.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Africa Trip

Some of you might know that I've been talking about a possible mission trip to Africa...We'll it looks like the dream is becoming a reality. We have had a few meetings at WPC to see if there is interest and there is! Then a member of WPC told me about a trip that she is taking in June to Uganda and I said something like, "Maybe I should go on a pre-mission trip site visit and make some contacts." Famous last words! Looks like I will be going to Uganda and Tanzania in June with a side trip to visit our missionaries in Austria! Last week I applied for my passport and yesterday got 5 different immunizations. My arm is killing me! After getting these shots there is no turning back. Keep me in your prayers.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Quote

"All the world's a stage, and most of us are desperately unrehearsed."
Sean O'Casey, born John Casey in Dublin, Ireland (1880).

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Two more pictures of the stations of the cross



Here are the last two pictures of the six stations of the cross. The first is the women who wept as Jesus passed by with the cross and the second is the Crucifixion.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Easter Kids





Here are some pictures of Silas and Lily from Easter Sunday

Easter People

Someone once said that “A realist is an idealist who has gone through the fire and been purified. A skeptic is an idealist who has gone through the fire and been burned.”

So often we pray trying to get God to change our circumstances – but what if God is using our circumstances to change us?

Years ago– I had a men’s bible study every Sunday at 6 AM we would meet, have breakfast and the guys would go home and get their families and bring them back for Sunday school and worship. -

One Sunday morning I had a terrible pain in my abdomen – I had the men pray – I was confident God could heal a stomach ache – but it was hurting – one of the guys suggested that I go see the doctor before worship – I went – the doctor said this is either appendicitis or and infection that looks like appendicitis – I can take a blood test and find out – but we should get you ready for surgery just in case.

I said – well – we prayed - I’m pretty sure I don’t have appendicitis – I’m going to go back to church and preach and serve communion and I’ll call you and you can let me know that I’m fine –

The doctor told me I was being foolish and I should NOT leave the hospital –
He was right
I went back to church and preached and was fine until the closing hymn, I almost collapsed and had to be rushed to the hospital.

As I was be sedated for the operation – I was praying – “Lord, why? I believed that you could heal me?”

And I sense the Lord say – “I know you believe I can heal you – but do you trust me enough to bring you through this surgery.”

And at that moment I learned something about myself –

I learned that didn’t really trust God to be with me in suffering and when I was afraid….

I trusted God when he changed my circumstances, as I desired – but I wasn’t to good at trusting God when he used my circumstances to change me, as He desired…

It is so easy to believe when we see the miracle –

• The healing happens
• That check comes in at the last minute
• Our children come home safe
• The car just misses the light pole
• We get the job

But do we believe when we see little or nothing?

And the honest response should be: of course not.
Why should I ever believe, if I see little or nothing?

Remember Thomas? Solid, rational, honest Thomas refused to believe “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it”

Be careful what you say!

John 20: 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

28Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

29Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

That sounds like the same thing the Apostle Peter says in verse 1 Peter 1:8
8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,

That sounds nice – but why should we? How can we believe if we haven’t seen like Thomas and Peter?


John says that he wrote his Gospel that we might believe.

The testimony of the word of God is one evidence for Jesus - it is written that we might believe - believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Another witness is the risen Lord Jesus Christ himself – when Peter talks about a “living Hope” and John writes about having LIFE in his name – it is all about the FACT that Jesus is here and now – we don’t hope in a dead teacher – who lived 2000 years ago – we hope in a the Lord Jesus Christ who lived – died and rose for ever on the 3rd day.

I can’t see him – but I can see evidence of his presence.

Just like I can’t see the wind – but I know when it has been blowing.

I can feel it.
I can see the effects of the wind.
And even when it stops blowing – I’m pretty sure it will come back and there will be a breeze again.

How do I know Jesus is alive?
By the changed lives of those who say they’ve meet him.

By the changed world I live in – by all the acts of love and mercy by his followers –

And yes by answered prayers – of course by answered prayers….


But most of all by the testimonies and witness of those who still trust him even when their prayers are not answered the way they desired
– they still trust because they know that God is real and that God is good and they have come to know that He always makes good on his word –

Another word for this trust is faith.

And when you have found faith you have found the most precious and dear commodity in the world.

Do you have faith in Jesus?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maundy Thursday Tonight

This is part of the bulletin for tonight's service at 6:30 PM

As we gather around the table we remember the night that Jesus had his last supper with his disciples. This was not an ordinary supper. It was the Passover supper. On that night Jesus spoke new meaning into the ancient Passover meal. Our communion, also known as the Lord’s Supper, was instituted on this night as Jesus ate and drank with his closest friends. May Jesus be with us as we gather round the table with our friends and families.

After the meal Jesus was betrayed and turned over to the authorities and condemned to a cruel death on the cross. After our supper, you will be invited to walk the stations of the cross and follow Jesus on this lonely road. The stations are not numbered. Feel free to walk them in any order as to make room for all to walk the stations. You may walk all, some or none. Please refrain from speaking until you reach the church parking lot.

Walking the Stations of the Cross goes back to the earliest days of the church when pilgrims would go to Jerusalem and trace Jesus' steps. They called the route - the Via Dolorosa - way of suffering or the Via Cruces way of the Cross…

Markers were put up all along the way to remember different things that happened along the way to the cross. Pilgrims would stop and pray and think about Jesus' suffering. As a teaching tool, many churches in Europe made their own stations of the cross in church or churchyards using paintings or sculptures - sort of like medieval multimedia - to teach about Jesus' last day

Like a lot of things we do as Christians it became more than it was intended to be. Stations were added that were not biblical - just based on legend- like the story of Veronica who wipe's Jesus' face with a towel. There is no set number of stations. Some traditions had 37 stations. Most today have 14 of those 14 on 6 or 7 are actual found in the Bible. We are only using 6 stations and they are all directly from scripture.

So why are we walking the stations during Lent?

We are hoping that by experiencing the Stations of the Cross, that the eyes and ears of our hearts will be opened once more and we will hear the story of the cross in a new way.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Equipping 101 Update

Here are few basic understandings and concepts concerning the NEW Westminster Leadership Plan

Basic understandings:
Session seeks God for vision and direction.
Session casts the vision and implements the vision via the gifting and calling of our church members and staff.
Session oversees the whole ministry of the church.
Abandon the concept that there is one elder representing each area of ministry on session.
Abandon the idea that every ministry needs to overseen by a specific committee or staff person.
Leadership needs to rotate to allow for many to take their turn leading, work against stagnation and control, and avoidance of burnout.



Three main types of groups:
Each ministry, committee or task force has a leader appointed by session. They may function as a team or committee or an ad hoc group of volunteers as approved by session. All appointments are renewed annually by session.

COMMITTEES
Standing Committees are committees that are required to be ongoing for the health and wholeness of the church and some are required by the Book of Order. They are led by leaders, who serve for one to three-year terms and may renew for a second three-year term, but must term out after six years. Nominating, Stewardship and Personnel shall be chaired by active session members.


MINISTRIES
Some ministries are lead by paid or volunteer staff as determined by session in consultation with the head of staff. Some are lead by church members.

Ministries are lead by leaders who are renewed annually but are not required to term out at three years.

Standing Ministries are ministries where a rotation of leadership is best due to the stress of the work or the power held by that ministry. Standing Ministries are lead by leaders, who serve for one to three-year terms and may renew for a second three-year term, but must term out after six years.

Staff Lead Ministries are lead by paid or volunteer staff as determined by session in consultation with the head of staff. These leaders are given annual performance reviews by the personnel committee. Some of these ministries may be Standing Ministries.


TASK FORCES
Task Forces are appointed by session for a certain project with specific goals and are disbanded when the task is complete.


The next post will be a list of Standing Committees, Standing Ministries and Ministries. Hopefully that will put some context to the above descriptions.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Equipping 101

Equipping 101,our annual meeting for all leaders, is Sunday March 16 following worship in Mission Hall. Lunch will be provided. If you are a deacon, elder, small group, leader, or ministry leader- this meeting is for you! If you simply want to learn about some new exciting changes at WPC - this meeting is for you!

Through the years, churches like ours have gotten stuck in a committee-based system that came from good intentions, but in many ways hinders ministry. Writer Thomas Bandy says the modern main-line church structure is designed to make sure that people are informed about the church, enrolled as members, nominated for office, supervised and kept. While he feels in the New Testament the church was designed to make sure folks were changed by God, gifted, called, equipped and sent.

There is a tension, however, because we do need to keep programs running, bills paid, lights on, and maintain a structure for our common life. The Book of Order addresses this dilemma when it says that, Mission determines the form of structure and administration. All structures should enable the church to give effective witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the contemporary world. (G-9.0402a) And all structures shall be open to the possibility of change (G-9.0402c) In studying and working on this structure it was interesting to discover that the Book of Order actually opens many doors to new ways of doing ministry.

The new structure is not an attempt to make the old system work better.
This is an attempt to transform the way we order our lives so that our leadership structure reflects who we are, how we best operate and actually helps us to equip followers of Jesus to answer God's call on their lives. And we just might become more Biblical and more Presbyterian in the process! I'm hoping that all our WPC leaders will attend this meeting. Please feel free to call or email me if you have any concerns or questions. I'll be posting parts of the new plan here on my blog before Equipping 101 and you can read about it in the 2008 Vision Brochure. Hope to see you then! Please RSVP to the church if you plan to attend
Steve

Stations of the Cross

Here are some pictures from worship the past few weeks. Celeste, the director of the Westminster Art School has been drawing these during worship. They will be part of our worship time on Maundy Thursday.
Station One - Jesus is condemned
Station Two - Jesus Receives His Cross
Station Three - Jesus Falters Under the Weight of the Cross
Station Four - Simon of Cyrene Helps Carry The Cross

Friday, February 01, 2008

Lent Adventure 2008


Lent Adventure 2008

Be prepared for worship to be a bit different during lent this year. The 2008 Lent Adventure will take us to discover the old tradition of the Way of the Cross. The Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross artistically depict scenes from the last hours of Jesus' life as he is condemned to death by Pilate, carries his cross, is crucified, dies and his body is placed in the tomb. For centuries Christians have used these depictions of the stations as a way to pray and meditate on this moving and important part of Jesus' life and ministry. Although there is no set number of stations, most Roman Catholic churches celebrate 14 stations. We will follow a version that uses 6 stations. Each Sunday during lent we will journey through a station of the cross. Using drama, art, prayer, music and scripture, walking the Stations will become a way to walk with Jesus along the way of suffering. By identifying with Jesus' suffering we come to understand God's heart poor and hurting people. By walking the way of the cross we can gain some insight into the great price Jesus paid for our salvation. I'm hoping as we can stretch a little and gain much from this ancient Christian practice.

Special Lent Small Groups are returning. The small groups will be doing an Intervarsity study called, Simplicity and Fasting. This study guide explores the disciplines of simplicity and fasting—foreign ideas these days. Yet leading a simple life can help us focus on what's truly important. Fasting in this study is about more than refraining from food. It is about freeing up our lives and clearing our minds of clutter so that we can become hungry for the things that really matter. It is said, "Less is more." What would happen if we spent less? Spoke less? Ate less? What is the purpose of fasting? What are the benefits of leading a simple life? There are several small group options for adults, college age and high school youth. You can sign up for a small group during coffee hour. The Lent Adventure begins with the Ash Wednesday Service oh Feb. 6 at 7PM in Mission Hall.