Monday, December 14, 2009

Totally on Facebook

Dear all who used to read this with some regularity. I am pretty much posting everyday on Facebook rather than here. Facebook is easier and more convenient, and more folks are accessing church information there like never before. As a result, this blog will be sparse until the time when I make the difficult decision to end it altogether. If you would like to follow me on Facebook, simply befriend me at Also, you can become a fan of the Cresskill Congregational Church (just type that name in the search box and select Be a Fan.

And that's it!

This may be a late time for me to thank you all for reading this blog but, Thanks just the same.

See you Facebook!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Self Help: Tips for Life + a free Snuggie

10 Tips for Navigating the Waters of Life. Keen insights on managing life's difficult challenges.

Freeing Yourself from Limiting Beliefs. Learning how to have a more open mind.

Command a room, when you walk in. Here are some good tips for living it up at parties and learning to enjoy them, rather than dreading them.

Develop better posture. The art of sitting or standing up straight might seem like something out of a 1950's etiquette class, but it actually plays an important role in staying energized and efficient throughout your day at the office. Here's why:

Health and home weblog Real Simple claims that by slouching, our body takes in as much as 30% less oxygen than we'd take in with good posture. When we sit slumped over (which is easy to do if you spend a great deal of time at the computer), we aren't just harming our posture, but our bodies' ability to keep our energy up.

Next time you you're feeling a little down in the dumps or need a little boost at work, check to see if your chin is up and your shoulders are back (or try other methods to fix your PC posture). It could mean the difference between making your workday frumpy or fabulous.

Receive a FREE Snuggie. Use this form. Seriously, no tricks here. (You may ask, how is this a tip for life, well...being warm and snuggly in autumn and the upcoming winter can make your life better, right?)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Halloween

...and here's a good reason to not let alcohol anywhere near your pumpkins.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ten Simple Way to Spend Less Money

Wowsers, here is a good list of ways to cut cost and save money. I am still using Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and have only about 1.5 years left to being debt-free (minus my school loans which I won't be paying off early). The way I figure it, every little bit of information that can help me save money is a good thing.

The Pumpkins are Here

I am sure that you probably already know that but for anyone who reads this blog and doesn't know, we have a yard full of them. Our pumpkins are for sale and we're selling them Monday through Friday from 12:00 Noon to 6:00 PM and Saturday through Sunday from 10:00 AM through 6:00 PM.


Was summer too short? Are you still working too much? Here is a great post about the necessity of taking a break from it all and it is something you can do without leaving home.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

47 Ways to Fine Tune Your Brain

Your brain is a complex organ. It is the controller of your body, your thoughts, your state of mind and your ultimately your life. There are some who abuse it, some who underuse it, and some who overuse it to the point of meltdown.

In this article we'll look at dozens of tactics that will help you maintain your brain into old age and help to increase your mental agility and cognitive development.

  1. Don't try and multitask, it can't be done.
    Our brains can only focus and concentrate on one thing at a time, this is a proven scientific fact. While you can most likely handle multiple menial tasks, anything that requires you to concentrate, reason, or decide deserves full focus.

  2. Exercise your brain, not just your body.
    A lot of us leave learning behind when we leave school, college or university. Keep the brain fit by learning something new, whether it be a language, a new skill or musical instrument.

  3. The world is a mystery.
    Use your brain to constantly ask questions and explore your surroundings. Continually exercise your brain by not accepting everything you see and hear: question it and free your sense of curiosity.

  4. Use both hemispheres
    Use the left hemisphere of your brain to practice logical, mathematical problems in your life. Use the right hemisphere to unleash your creativity. You will know what side is dominant so make it a point to practice using your non dominant hemisphere.

  5. Get to know your sleeping pattern.
    Your brain needs sleep as much as your body but everybody is different. I function on 5-6 hours you might work best on 8-9 hours.

  6. Feed your brain decent information.
    Your brain is learning throughout the night, so give it something worthwhile to feed it. Our brain is not restoring energy whilst we are sleeping it is cutting out the noise and going over the days events and processing it; give it some great material to process.
Read the other 41 tips over at DumbLittleMan.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Shall the Fundamentalists Win?

I found this sermon while preparing for my sermon on Sunday. It is an interesting confrontation that ultimately caused the preacher great angst. Read the sermon and see if we're still not having the same conversations today as it was back in 1922.

“Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”: Defending Liberal Protestantism in the 1920s

Urban as well as rural Americans flocked to fundamentalist and evangelical churches in the 1920s. “Liberal” Protestants sought to reconcile faith and science and to slow what they saw as the reactionary tendencies of fundamentalism. Harry Emerson Fosdick’s influential 1922 sermon, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?,” called for an open-minded, intellectual, and tolerant “Christian fellowship.” Though the sermon cost him his post at New York’s First Presbyterian Church, his views represented those of an influential Protestant minority, and Fosdick enjoyed a long career at Riverside Church, built for him by John D. Rockefeller. Following the Scopes trial and a well-publicized scandal involving well-known pastor Aimee Semple McPherson and a mysterious lover, fundamentalists began to lose the prominence they enjoyed in the 1920s. But religious fundamentalism would remain a vital political force in American life.

This morning we are to think of the fundamentalist controversy which threatens to divide the American churches as though already they were not sufficiently split and riven. A scene, suggestive for our thought, is depicted in the fifth chapter of the Book of the Acts, where the Jewish leaders hale before them Peter and other of the apostles because they had been preaching Jesus as the Messiah. Moreover, the Jewish leaders propose to slay them, when in opposition Gamaliel speaks “Refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God ye will not be able to overthrow them; lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God.” . . .

Already all of us must have heard about the people who call themselves the Fundamentalists. Their apparent intention is to drive out of the evangelical churches men and women of liberal opinions. I speak of them the more freely because there are no two denominations more affected by them than the Baptist and the Presbyterian. We should not identify the Fundamentalists with the conservatives. All Fundamentalists are conservatives, but not all conservatives are Fundamentalists. The best conservatives can often give lessons to the liberals in true liberality of spirit, but the Fundamentalist program is essentially illiberal and intolerant.

The Fundamentalists see, and they see truly, that in this last generation there have been strange new movements in Christian thought. A great mass of new knowledge has come into man’s possession—new knowledge about the physical universe, its origin, its forces, its laws; new knowledge about human history and in particular about the ways in which the ancient peoples used to think in matters of religion and the methods by which they phrased and explained their spiritual experiences; and new knowledge, also, about other religions and the strangely similar ways in which men’s faiths and religious practices have developed everywhere. . . .

Now, there are multitudes of reverent Christians who have been unable to keep this new knowledge in one compartment of their minds and the Christian faith in another. They have been sure that all truth comes from the one God and is His revelation. Not, therefore, from irreverence or caprice or destructive zeal but for the sake of intellectual and spiritual integrity, that they might really love the Lord their God, not only with all their heart and soul and strength but with all their mind, they have been trying to see this new knowledge in terms of the Christian faith and to see the Christian faith in terms of this new knowledge.

Doubtless they have made many mistakes. Doubtless there have been among them reckless radicals gifted with intellectual ingenuity but lacking spiritual depth. Yet the enterprise itself seems to them indispensable to the Christian Church. The new knowledge and the old faith cannot be left antagonistic or even disparate, as though a man on Saturday could use one set of regulative ideas for his life and on Sunday could change gear to another altogether. We must be able to think our modern life clear through in Christian terms, and to do that we also must be able to think our Christian faith clear through in modern terms.

There is nothing new about the situation. It has happened again and again in history, as, for example, when the stationary earth suddenly began to move and the universe that had been centered in this planet was centered in the sun around which the planets whirled. Whenever such a situation has arisen, there has been only one way out—the new knowledge and the old faith had to be blended in a new combination. Now, the people in this generation who are trying to do this are the liberals, and the Fundamentalists are out on a campaign to shut against them the doors of the Christian fellowship. Shall they be allowed to succeed?

It is interesting to note where the Fundamentalists are driving in their stakes to mark out the deadline of doctrine around the church, across which no one is to pass except on terms of agreement. They insist that we must all believe in the historicity of certain special miracles, preeminently the virgin birth of our Lord; that we must believe in a special theory of inspiration—that the original documents of the Scripture, which of course we no longer possess, were inerrantly dictated to men a good deal as a man might dictate to a stenographer; that we must believe in a special theory of the Atonement—that the blood of our Lord, shed in a substitutionary death, placates an alienated Deity and makes possible welcome for the returning sinner; and that we must believe in the second coming of our Lord upon the clouds of heaven to set up a millennium here, as the only way in which God can bring history to a worthy denouement. Such are some of the stakes which are being driven to mark a deadline of doctrine around the church.

If a man is a genuine liberal, his primary protest is not against holding these opinions, although he may well protest against their being considered the fundamentals of Christianity. This is a free country and anybody has a right to hold these opinions or any others if he is sincerely convinced of them. The question is—Has anybody a right to deny the Christian name to those who differ with him on such points and to shut against them the doors of the Christian fellowship? The Fundamentalists say that this must be done. In this country and on the foreign field they are trying to do it. They have actually endeavored to put on the statute books of a whole state binding laws against teaching modern biology. If they had their way, within the church, they would set up in Protestantism a doctrinal tribunal more rigid than the pope’s.

In such an hour, delicate and dangerous, when feelings are bound to run high, I plead this morning the cause of magnanimity and liberality and tolerance of spirit. I would, if I could reach their ears, say to the Fundamentalists about the liberals what Gamaliel said to the Jews, “Refrain from these men and let them alone; for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will be everthrown; but if it is of God ye will not be able to overthrow them; lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God.”

That we may be entirely candid and concrete and may not lose ourselves in any fog of generalities, let us this morning take two or three of these Fundamentalist items and see with reference to them what the situation is in the Christian churches. Too often we preachers have failed to talk frankly enough about the differences of opinion which exist among evangelical Christians, although everybody knows that they are there. Let us face this morning some of the differences of opinion with which somehow we must deal.

We may well begin with the vexed and mooted question of the virgin birth of our Lord. I know people in the Christian churches, ministers, missionaries, laymen, devoted lovers of the Lord and servants of the Gospel, who, alike as they are in their personal devotion to the Master, hold quite different points of view about a matter like the virgin birth. Here, for example, is one point of view that the virgin birth is to be accepted as historical fact; it actually happened; there was no other way for a personality like the Master to come into this world except by a special biological miracle. That is one point of view, and many are the gracious and beautiful souls who hold it. But side by side with them in the evangelical churches is a group of equally loyal and reverent people who would say that the virgin birth is not to be accepted as an historic fact. . . . So far from thinking that they have given up anything vital in the New Testament’s attitude toward Jesus, these Christians remember that the two men who contributed most to the Church’s thought of the divine meaning of the Christ were Paul and John, who never even distantly allude to the virgin birth.

Here in the Christian churches are these two groups of people and the question which the Fundamentalists raise is this—Shall one of them throw the other out? Has intolerance any contribution to make to this situation? Will it persuade anybody of anything? Is not the Christian Church large enough to hold within her hospitable fellowship people who differ on points like this and agree to differ until the fuller truth be manifested? The Fundamentalists say not. They say the liberals must go. Well, if the Fundamentalists should succeed, then out of the Christian Church would go some of the best Christian life and consecration of this generation—multitudes of men and women, devout and reverent Christians, who need the church and whom the church needs.

Consider another matter on which there is a sincere difference of opinion between evangelical Christians: the inspiration of the Bible. One point of view is that the original documents of the Scripture were inerrantly dictated by God to men. Whether we deal with the story of creation or the list of the dukes of Edom or the narratives of Solomon’s reign or the Sermon on the Mount or the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, they all came in the same way, and they all came as no other book ever came. They were inerrantly dictated; everything there—scientific opinions, medical theories, historical judgments, as well as spiritual insight—is infallible. That is one idea of the Bible’s inspiration. But side by side with those who hold it, lovers of the Book as much as they, are multitudes of people who never think about the Bible so. Indeed, that static and mechanical theory of inspiration seems to them a positive peril to the spiritual life. . . .

Here in the Christian Church today are these two groups, and the question which the Fundamentalists have raised is this—Shall one of them drive the other out? Do we think the cause of Jesus Christ will be furthered by that? If He should walk through the ranks of his congregation this morning, can we imagine Him claiming as His own those who hold one idea of inspiration and sending from Him into outer darkness those who hold another? You cannot fit the Lord Christ into that Fundamentalist mold. The church would better judge His judgment. For in the Middle West the Fundamentalists have had their way in some communities and a Christian minister tells us the consequences. He says that the educated people are looking for their religion outside the churches.

Consider another matter upon which there is a serious and sincere difference of opinion between evangelical Christians: the second coming of our Lord. The second coming was the early Christian phrasing of hope. No one in the ancient world had ever thought, as we do, of development, progress, gradual change as God’s way of working out His will in human life and institutions. They thought of human history as a series of ages succeeding one another with abrupt suddenness. The Graeco-Roman world gave the names of metals to the ages—gold, silver, bronze, iron. The Hebrews had their ages, too—the original Paradise in which man began, the cursed world in which man now lives, the blessed Messianic kingdom someday suddenly to appear on the clouds of heaven. It was the Hebrew way of expressing hope for the victory of God and righteousness. When the Christians came they took over that phrasing of expectancy and the New Testament is aglow with it. The preaching of the apostles thrills with the glad announcement, “Christ is coming!”

In the evangelical churches today there are differing views of this matter. One view is that Christ is literally coming, externally, on the clouds of heaven, to set up His kingdom here. I never heard that teaching in my youth at all. It has always had a new resurrection when desperate circumstances came and man’s only hope seemed to lie in divine intervention. It is not strange, then, that during these chaotic, catastrophic years there has been a fresh rebirth of this old phrasing of expectancy. “Christ is coming!” seems to many Christians the central message of the Gospel. In the strength of it some of them are doing great service for the world. But, unhappily, many so overemphasize it that they outdo anything the ancient Hebrews or the ancient Christians ever did. They sit still and do nothing and expect the world to grow worse and worse until He comes.

Side by side with these to whom the second coming is a literal expectation, another group exists in the evangelical churches. They, too, say, “Christ is coming!” They say it with all their hearts; but they are not thinking of an external arrival on the clouds. They have assimilated as part of the divine revelation the exhilarating insight which these recent generations have given to us, that development is God’s way of working out His will. . . .

And these Christians, when they say that Christ is coming, mean that, slowly it may be, but surely, His will and principles will be worked out by God’s grace in human life and institutions, until “He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied.”

These two groups exist in the Christian churches and the question raised by the Fundamentalists is—Shall one of them drive the other out? Will that get us anywhere? Multitudes of young men and women at this season of the year are graduating from our schools of learning, thousands of them Christians who may make us older ones ashamed by the sincerity of their devotion to God’s will on earth. They are not thinking in ancient terms that leave ideas of progress out. They cannot think in those terms. There could be no greater tragedy than that the Fundamentalists should shut the door of the Christian fellowship against such.

I do not believe for one moment that the Fundamentalists are going to succeed. Nobody’s intolerance can contribute anything to the solution of the situation which we have described. If, then, the Fundamentalists have no solution of the problem, where may we expect to find it? In two concluding comments let us consider our reply to that inquiry.

The first element that is necessary is a spirit of tolerance and Christian liberty. When will the world learn that intolerance solves no problems? This is not a lesson which the Fundamentalists alone need to learn; the liberals also need to learn it. Speaking, as I do, from the viewpoint of liberal opinions, let me say that if some young, fresh mind here this morning is holding new ideas, has fought his way through, it may be by intellectual and spiritual struggle, to novel positions, and is tempted to be intolerant about old opinions, offensively to condescend to those who hold them and to be harsh in judgment on them, he may well remember that people who held those old opinions have given the world some of the noblest character and the most rememberable service that it ever has been blessed with, and that we of the younger generation will prove our case best, not by controversial intolerance, but by producing, with our new opinions, something of the depth and strength, nobility and beauty of character that in other times were associated with other thoughts. It was a wise liberal, the most adventurous man of his day—Paul the Apostle—who said, “Knowledge puffeth up, but love buildeth up.”

Nevertheless, it is true that just now the Fundamentalists are giving us one of the worst exhibitions of bitter intolerance that the churches of this country have ever seen. As one watches them and listens to them he remembers the remark of General Armstrong of Hampton Institute, “Cantankerousness is worse than heterodoxy.” There are many opinions in the field of modern controversy concerning which I am not sure whether they are right or wrong, but there is one thing I am sure of: courtesy and kindliness and tolerance and humility and fairness are right. Opinions may be mistaken; love never is.

As I plead thus for an intellectually hospitable, tolerant, liberty-loving church, I am, of course, thinking primarily about this new generation. We have boys and girls growing up in our homes and schools, and because we love them we may well wonder about the church which will be waiting to receive them. Now, the worst kind of church that can possibly be offered to the allegiance of the new generation is an intolerant church. Ministers often bewail the fact that young people turn from religion to science for the regulative ideas of their lives. But this is easily explicable.

Science treats a young man’s mind as though it were really important. A scientist says to a young man, “Here is the universe challenging our investigation. Here are the truths which we have seen, so far. Come, study with us! See what we already have seen and then look further to see more, for science is an intellectual adventure for the truth.” Can you imagine any man who is worthwhile turning from that call to the church if the church seems to him to say, “Come, and we will feed you opinions from a spoon. No thinking is allowed here except such as brings you to certain specified, predetermined conclusions. These prescribed opinions we will give you in advance of your thinking; now think, but only so as to reach these results.”

My friends, nothing in all the world is so much worth thinking of as God, Christ, the Bible, sin and salvation, the divine purposes for humankind, life everlasting. But you cannot challenge the dedicated thinking of this generation to these sublime themes upon any such terms as are laid down by an intolerant church.

The second element which is needed if we are to reach a happy solution of this problem is a clear insight into the main issues of modern Christianity and a sense of penitent shame that the Christian Church should be quarreling over little matters when the world is dying of great needs. If, during the war, when the nations were wrestling upon the very brink of hell and at times all seemed lost, you chanced to hear two men in an altercation about some minor matter of sectarian denominationalism, could you restrain your indignation? You said, “What can you do with folks like this who, in the face of colossal issues, play with the tiddledywinks and peccadillos of religion?” So, now, when from the terrific questions of this generation one is called away by the noise of this Fundamentalist controversy, he thinks it almost unforgivable that men should tithe mint and anise and cummin, and quarrel over them, when the world is perishing for the lack of the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith. . . .

The present world situation smells to heaven! And now, in the presence of colossal problems, which must be solved in Christ’s name and for Christ’s sake, the Fundamentalists propose to drive out from the Christian churches all the consecrated souls who do not agree with their theory of inspiration. What immeasurable folly!

Well, they are not going to do it; certainly not in this vicinity. I do not even know in this congregation whether anybody has been tempted to be a Fundamentalist. Never in this church have I caught one accent of intolerance. God keep us always so and ever increasing areas of the Christian fellowship; intellectually hospitable, open-minded, liberty-loving, fair, tolerant, not with the tolerance of indifference, as though we did not care about the faith, but because always our major emphasis is upon the weightier matters of the law.

Source: Harry Emerson Fosdick, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” Christian Work 102 (June 10, 1922): 716–722. Website:

Friday, September 11, 2009

UCC launching '100k for Health Care' mobilization

In what it's describing as a "massive mobilization effort," the United Church of Christ will launch a major advocacy campaign on Tuesday, Sept. 8, to gather 100,000 messages to Congress in just 10 days in support of health care reform.

Leaders of the 1.1-million-member denomination, known for emphasizing justice advocacy as an expression of Christian faith, are hoping to collect "100,000 for Health Care" before Friday, Sept. 18, when the Rev. Geoffrey Black, the UCC's general minister and president-elect, will be visiting churches in San Francisco and will deliver the names — in person — to the in-district office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Messages simultaneously will be sent to individual petitioners' members of Congress, as well as Congressional leadership in both parties.

In June, the UCC's biennial General Synod, meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich., overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for advocacy in support for health care for all. In August, church leaders distributed to its clergy and members a nationwide UCC Pastoral Letter on Health Care Reform.

Delegates and visitors at the UCC’s General Synod in June participated in a march at Grand Rapids City Hall, led by Mayor George Heartwell, who is a UCC minister.

"This is a massive mobilization effort to interject a message of love, compassion and faith into this too-often divisive health care debate," says Black, who was elected by the General Synod to head the UCC starting on Oct. 1. "It's no small feat to gather 100,000 members, supporters and allies in just 10 days, but we want to boldly share with others the strong health-care-for-all message that was approved at General Synod."

At its launch, the campaign will be featured in the denomination's weekly e-zine on Sept. 8, on its homepage and in a series of messages written to clergy and church members by Black and the Rev. John H. Thomas, who is stepping down this month as the UCC's general minister and president after 10 years in the office.

The campaign is reminiscent of a similar 100,000-themed campaign in fall 2007 when the denomination sought a large quantity of signatures in opposition to the war in Iraq. At the time, two church leaders — Thomas and the Rev. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister of the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries — were arrested at the White House attempting to deliver the petitions.

"Two years ago, we were successful at gathering more than 80,000 names in pursuit of our 100,000 goal, but that was over the course of several weeks," says the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, communications director. "This time around we're attempting 100,000 in just 10 days, but we feel our people will beat the bushes to express strong support and deliver an outpouring of petitions."

The UCC is advocating seven principles it wants included in a health care reform bill: coverage for all persons; access regardless of ability to pay; a full set of comprehensive benefits; a choice of physicians and other providers; elimination of racial and ethnic and other health care disparities; waiver of pre-existing condition exclusions without age limits; and a robust public health insurance option.

Participate and learn more about “100,000 for Health Care” at, starting Sept. 8.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Why Go to Church?

A week ago last Sunday, I shared this with the congregation. A special thanks to church member Henry Hecht for passing it along to us from his former congregation, First Congregational Church, San Francisco.


Why go to church?

Does it make much sense to go to church? Why do you go to church? I have often discussd this questions with people who were spiritually alive, spiritually dead, or spiritually curious.

Why go to church? It is an interesting question. Once, I read about a regular church goer who complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. "I have gone for 30 years now, "he said, "and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I cannot remember a single one of them. So I think, I am wasting my time, and the pastors are wasting their time by giving sermons at all."

This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column of the newspaper, much to the delight of the editor and other readers.

It went on until someone wrote, "I have been married for 30 years now. In that time, my spouse has cooked some 32,000 meals. But for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this. They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my spouse had not given me these meals, I would be practically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today."

No matter what you think about sermons, i still think it is worth it to worship, to pray, and to sing together. Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible.

Thank God for our physical and spiritual nourishment.

Hope to see you on Sunday. Have a nice summer.

Signed, "Wilfried" (the pastor at the church)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stand By Me

Thanks to my friend Paul for posting this on his blog. It's a great montage of singers singing this favorite song.

Stand By Me from Mike Yates on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday Sermon: God as Creator

Visit our church website to hear our Sunday morning, August 9 at 10:00 AM sermon about God's creative force and how we too, are creators.

15 Simple Changes that will Improve your Health

15 Simple Changes That Will Quickly Improve Your Health
by Ali Hale

Did you start January full of health resolutions, determined that this would be the year that you ate better, lost weight and exercised regularly?

If you’re back to your usual habits – skipping breakfast, grabbing chocolate to get you through that afternoon slump, neglecting your fruit and veggie intake and chugging down mug after mug of coffee – don’t feel guilty about it. Your problem isn’t that you lack willpower – it’s that you tried to change too much at once.

Instead, try making some of these very easy changes to your eating, drinking and exercising habits. Once you’ve got used to a few of them, add in more. You’ll be making huge strides towards your health goals, with hardly any conscious effort. Sound good? Read on...

Easy Changes to Your Eating Habits

  1. Eat a piece of fruit before lunch
    Get into the habit of eating an apple, banana, pear or other piece of fruit before lunch each day. It’ll take the edge off your appetite – making you less likely to dig into greasy fast food or bag or crackers. You’ll also be one step closer to hitting your five-a-day.
  2. Don’t use vending machines
    Let’s face it, have you ever bought anything healthy from a vending machine? They’re overpriced and full of sugar-and-salt packed stuff that your body doesn’t need. Plus, they’re open all hours (unlike your corner shop) and they won’t look at you funny if you buy ten candy bars at a time. Make a pact with yourself not to buy anything except bottled water from vending machines.
  3. Go vegetarian one night a week
    Most nutritionists agree that we eat more meat than we need to. Have a meat-free dinner once a week – it’s a great opportunity to try out some new recipes that are packed with vegetables and flavours. You’ll also save yourself some money.
  4. Switch to wholegrain bread
    If your lunchtime sandwich or sub is always on white, switch to wholegrain. The extra goodness in the grains (including lots of fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, and various minerals) helps keep your heart healthy and cut your risk of cancer. Plus, fiber-rich foods make you feel you full for a longer period of time – very helpful if you’re trying to lose weight.
  5. Switch to skim milk (1% or less fat)
    Do you drink whole milk or put it on cereal? If so, switch to skim (less than 0.5% fat) or 1% milk. It might seem odd for the first few days, but stick with it for a week or so: your taste buds will quickly adjust. You’ll be getting just as much calcium and protein as before, but cutting fat.

Easy Changes To Your Drinking Habits

  1. Keep a bottle of water on your desk
    Many people mistake slight thirst for hunger, leading to unnecessary snacking. Keep a bottle on your desk and drink it whenever you get a little mouth crazing. Getting sufficient water also helps prevent you from becoming constipated. Note: Save money by using a refillable thermos or water bottle instead of purchasing bottled water.
  2. Switch half your cups of coffee to herbal tea
    How many coffees (or regular mugs of tea) do you drink in an average day? Try having just half of your usual amount – and make the rest a herbal, caffeine free tea. Many government health authorities recommend that we limit caffeine intake to 400mg per day, which is the equivalent of four cups of brewed coffee, or seven cups of instant.
  3. Avoid milky drinks from coffee outlets
    Do you have a giant latte every morning? You could be clocking up over 300 calories in just one drink, and chances are, it doesn’t fill you up at all. And don’t assume that being caffeine-free means you can get away with this: a hot chocolate with whipped cream has over 400 calories...
  4. Have four alcohol-free days per week
    If you go out drinking every day after work, or split a nightly bottle of wine with your partner over dinner, your habits are putting your liver under pressure. They could also be stopping you from losing weight: alcohol makes you peckish, and contains calories (around 200 calories in a bottle of beer or a medium-sized glass of wine).
  5. Swap soda for water
    Are you addicted to soda? Even diet sodas aren’t great for you – they generally contain a lot of additives. Try swapping some of your sodas for plain water (add a slice of lemon, or a dash of cordial, if you don’t like your water unflavoured). If it’s the fizz you miss, try carbonated water.

Easy Changes to Your Exercise Habits

  1. Go for a twenty minute walk every lunchtime
    If you’re struggling to fit exercise into your day, get away from your desk for a twenty-minute walk each lunchtime. It’s a good way to force yourself to take a break from work, and refreshes your mind and your body.
  2. Walk (some of) your commute
    Can you walk all or part of your commute? That might mean jumping off the subway a stop earlier, or even just leaving your car in the furthest part of the car park.
  3. Take a gym class once a week
    Wherever you live or work, chances are that you can find a convenient exercise class somewhere nearby. (Many gyms have quick pre-work slots and lunch-time classes, as well as several evening options.) Find one class you can do, once a week – and stick with it.
  4. Make Sunday afternoons active
    As Monday looms ever closer, you might find that your mood and energy levels take a dive. A great way to counter this is to do something active on Sunday afternoons. Mix this up from week to week: how about a long walk, a swim, ice-skating, having a kick around in the park...?
  5. Exercise during commercial breaks
    Whenever you’re watching TV and adverts come on, get up off the sofa and do some exercise. Fit in a few stretches, some jogging on the spot, or some weight lifting. You might only fit in a few minutes at a time, but over the course of an evening’s TV viewing, that could easily add up to half an hour. And if it stops you grabbing yet another snack, it’s definitely helping.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Health Care and Jesus

A friend of mine posted this note on Facebook and is worth a read when thinking about healthcare reform and asking that age old yet very important question, "What would Jesus do?"

Dear Friends,

There is a lot in the news about the health care coverage in the United States and I have heard a lot of people against the proposed plan based on fears that we as tax payers would have to pay more for less. There are fears that we would not have access to the same health care we currently have (which is not true). Also I have heard fears that we would not have the right to make our own health care decisions and the government would decide our fate (again, which is not true).

Right now there are 50 million people in the United States that do not have any health care coverage because they cannot afford it. If you currently have health insurance you are part of the privileged few in the United States. You have the luxury of going to the doctor when you need coverage. What if you were part of the group of people that have jobs that do not provide health insurance and cannot afford to buy your own insurance and you do not qualify for Medicaid/Medicare and will never be able to see a doctor. How would you feel if you have major pains and needed to go to the emergency room and were turned away because you don’t have health insurance? Health Care is a right not a privilege.

Are you willing to give a little more and receive a little less so that all God’s children have health care in the United States? I am willing to pay more taxes so that others in our great country can have health care, what about you? My question to my Christian friends on this list is, “What Would Jesus Do?” Below are passages from the Bible that talk about giving to those who are less fortunate than you.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
—Matthew 6:3-4

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
—Matthew 25:34-46

give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
—Luke 6:38

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
—Luke 21:1-4

Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, everyone according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.
—Acts 11:27-30

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.
—2 Corinthians 9:6-12

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
—James 2:15-16

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
—1 Timothy 6:7-10

And he would answer and say to them, "The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise."
—Luke 3:11

…the righteous gives and does not hold back.
—Proverbs 21:26

He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.
—Proverbs 22:9

He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.
—Proverbs 28:27

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What Faith Means to Me

This post is written by church member, Steve Moldt.

Over the last ten years or so, the idea of faith has cropped up in a number ways that have caught my attention. Faith has surfaced as a factor in a wide variety of contexts and has been used to express feelings, provide comfort, divide parties, stir politics, rationalize policies, strengthen resolve, bring people together, provide focus and unity after great tragedy, and engender comfort in a time of personal loss. Faith can be as concrete as loyalty to a person or idea, as ethereal as hope in something unknowable, or as reassuring as the acceptance of divine will. I know people who find in their faith the core of their spiritual life and are strengthened by it everyday. I have also seen exclusive faith used as a weapon to divide people and rationalize terrible things. I have experienced what I know as faith in comforting a friend who was dying of cancer. Now I am almost 50-years old, have an 11-year old daughter (which definitely changes your focus in life), and am bringing a Buddhist perspective into my reconnection with my Christian roots. So, I have been thinking a lot about the idea of faith lately. Particularly, what is faith? More specifically, what is the character of my faith and what does it mean?

I am often told to have a little faith (in something or someone) or to “put your faith in…(God).” I wonder if this is a justification for blind faith. Is faith simply belief: a belief in something that can’t be explicitely proven? That dilemma of faith is embodied in the classic battle between science and religion, we have often been told. The root of the word faith comes from ancient words meaning “to trust”. So are we to have blind faith in an invisible power that can never be fully explained? Perhaps that is overstating it a bit, but we have many examples of things where unquestioning trust has led to disaster. I think instead, that the creative force that is so elusive, that some sort of unsubstantiated understanding is inevitable also embodies the power of the intellect, the questioning mind, the verifier. I see this as the Yin and Yang of spiritual life, the knowable and the unknowable, the quantifiable experience and the mystical presence that is simply known.

I often think that, to paraphrase the blues song, “If it weren’t for ‘bad’ faith I’d have no faith at all.” You’ll notice that ‘bad’ is in quotes. There are those who believe in a monolithic idea of true faith that has specific fixed parameters that must be met or you don’t really have faith. I have seen some politicians use this kind of faith to sway their constituents and some have used it as a smoke screen of distraction. In fact, there are some who would tell you that if you question your faith then you don’t really have it. And there are many who when faced with beliefs outside their experience feel that they may be at risk of losing their faith. They often feel that the faith that questions itself is a bad faith incapable of true belief. It will come as no surprise that I would question this kind of certainty in the face of the morass of problems, prejudices and politics such faith has often brought us. In fact, I would ask, if that faith is so strong, why would there be a fear losing it?

If you know the Yin-Yang symbol, it is the embodiment in its swirling separateness of the reality of the Buddhist notion of the transcendence of opposites, the false duality of our perceived reality. Inside of the larger areas of black and white are small dots of the opposing color; a dot of black inside the white and a dot of white inside the black. This symbolizes the inter-reliance of one upon the other. White cannot exist without the black to contrast it and the black could not be realized without the absence of black which is white. So in a discrete symbol we see the unity of all things in the display of the false dichotomy of simple hues we take to be opposites and yet have the most intimate of connections. One could not exist without the other. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, God is the sum of all things.

And so it is with my personal understanding of faith at this moment along my own way to where ever it is that I am going. For me the questioning mind is the strength of the trusting soul. If there weren’t acceptance of some divine principle, what would I be questioning? When I come to questions of faith I do not rely solely on belief, but I put my trust in the question and the act of questioning itself. I think that no matter the outcome, my faith will be stronger for it. I will either confirm the faith I have or I will inform my existing faith with new knowledge which will allow me to grow in my spiritual life. This can be disconcerting, even fearful at times because it requires a release of certainty in order to be open to the process of spiritual growth. And therein lies the rub. In this view, true faith is never fixed, never completely realized. It is a dynamic process to be experienced and wrestled with, not arrived at and held tightly.

When I was young I believed that things were finite and life would be realized and then you would have arrived. Over the last number of years, the nature of this existence has become clearer and my relationship with that which I call God, “I am”, has expanded beyond simple obedience and static belief. It is the process, the journey that is the living of the spiritual life. In that sense, the static faith that one simply trusts in the omnipotence that will take care of all things, is easier than struggling with uncertainty. That is where, I fear, the judgmental separation of believers and non-believers, faithful and unfaithful can creep in. For some it is this very notion of the certainty of fixed faith that allows the unity of all things, of all peoples, of all traditions to be overlooked.

And so, I cling to my unclingable notion of dynamic faith, that paradox of reason and mystery that I find so intriguing and provides, I feel, the only road, whether we are aware or not. Thank you for taking time to read and consider these thoughts. Please share your ideas of faith if you are so inclined. I am interested in your questions and/or answers that they may inform my own. I wish you peace on your way whichever it is.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Changing Lives in the UCC

Great Quote

A friend on Facebook posted this quote.

“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together...there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. but the most important thing is, even if we're apart...I'll always be with you.” - Winnie the Pooh

Summer Newsletter and The Weekly

Our summer time is now upon us. For those of you, not in the know, life here in church slows down pretty dramatically to give you a chance to spend time with your family, enjoy the summer season, and to go on various trips and whatnot. We do enjoy seeing you when you're in town, but for many, summertime is about vacations and weekend sightseeing. We hope you have a wonderful vacation and will look forward to seeing your regular presence with us on Sundays, when the seasons change.

To keep you updated and informed about what we have planned for the summer, let me invite you to go to our church website and download our Summer Issue of our printed newsletter, The Spirit Seeker. You can also stay informed by signing up for our free e-newsletter, The Weekly. Just send me an email at and I'll add you to the list. Also, if your email address has changed, please let me know and I'll update it.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Catching You Up

No doubt you know that I have returned to the office and am finished with my summer school (all except for a paper due at the end of the month). My time at Drew was wonderful; I esp enjoyed the fellowship of my colleagues in ministry.

As I have returned, I have been thinking about ways to integrate what I've learned into my pastoral ministry. In the coming weeks, you'll know that I am doing some experimenting and hope that it'll be as beneficial in practice as it seemed in theory, as I heard it.

We'll see though, right? ;)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Welcome to the Digital Generation | Edutopia

This is a video shown on Wednesday morning in my class.

Welcome to the Digital Generation | Edutopia

Shared via AddThis

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Generation We

Here is a sobering video about the Net Generation and their values.

Generation WE: The Movement Begins... from Generation We on Vimeo.

Shift Happens

I posted this a few months back but it's worth seeing again. We watched this yesterday in class. It underscores the relevance of the digital age upon us.

A Great Video about what the digital age

We were shown this video in class today.

Drew Update, Week 3

Okay so my final week for my summer intensive is underway. I am taking an interesting class called Thriving in the Digital Age through Collaborative Leadership. This class seeks to evaluate and understand how the Net generation is affecting our ministry and overall culture.

The class really is as exciting as I had hoped it would be. The particular texts for the class have all been read and we all already written our integration paper (a way to prove we've done the readings by writing a paper about them and how they interpret our ministry context). If you'd like a great book to read, find one of these books on Amazon and get it used. They are all amazing reads:

1. The Millennium Matrix: Reclaiming the Past, Reframing the Future of the Church, by Rex Miller.
2. Organic Community: Creating a Place Where People Naturally Connect, by Joseph Myers.
3. Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change, Organizations, and Society, by Peter Senge
4. The Equipping Pastor: A Systems Approach to Congregational Leadership, by Paul Stevens
5. Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World, by Don Tapscott
6. The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why, by Phyllis Tickle.

Seriously those last two books are definitely worth your time.

As for my other assignments, I am partnered with two other classmates for a collaborative writing project. We're working out the details today and the paper will be a 25-pager due on July 31. To help facilitate our conversations, the teacher set up a Wiki site on our Moodle page on the school's website. If I am talking a foreign language to you, a Wiki is a collaborative website that allows for personal interaction and a Moodle is a software program whereby the entire class readings, handouts, and reports are submitted, posted, and read.

As an interesting aside, I have created a special Wiki-site for the Lay Advisory Team, a church group who'll help shepherd me and my DMin project. How cool is that, right?

In any event, my class goes from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM. It is a full day of interaction, lecture, and class participation. I'll let you know all about it as the week comes to a close.

So that's my update. I hope you'll have a fab week and will see you on Sunday when I return.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Week 2 Update

I have reached the midpoint of my summer intensive here at The Theological School. As many of you know, I can be a tad dramatic at times--and the amount of work I have to accomplish and figure out ways to navigate my sleep schedule had, for a brief time (say three days) turned me into a whiner. If you have been reading my status updates on Facebook, you'll know what I mean.

As it turns out, I have learned a few lessons:
1. I am no longer as young as I used to be. When I was younger, I could stay up for several days in a row with little sleep. Let me nod off for a few hours, and I'd be good for the entire day. Now, if I don't get my 7-8 hours of sleep at night, I am both incoherent and dazed.

2. If you work hard enough, you'll eventually figure it out. When I was younger, there were times that I would get so frustrated that I'd quit trying to figure it out after trying for just a little while. Now, I actually have the patience to look at something for a long time without either zoning out or losing attention.

3. Not having an Xbox to tempt me away from work has been a good thing. But then, there is Facebook and I have tended to escape there from time to time.

So yeah, I've learned some good lessons. And, I have also been learning other things too. As of now, I have my final draft of my Prospectus completed. My Prospectus is the overview of my ministry project including information such as my problem statement, my purpose, the scope of the project, the methodologies I intend to use, how I will evaluate my project and tonight, I finished a rough draft bibliography (that can change during the course of my project).

I am also working on an assignment in my Practical Theology class where I have learned to interpret and deconstruct narrative stories using particular methodologies meant to frame the stories. This will be important as I navigate the various personal narratives within my particular project. The class lectures have been intense but very rewarding.

Next week, I will be taking a class called Thriving in the Digital Age through Collaborative Leadership. I am very much looking forward to this class as it'll focus its attention on modern narratives as experienced by younger generations and how to develop particular ministry that affects them with the Gospel. Or at least, I think this is what the class will be about. ;) I'll let you know once class begins if I am correct or not.

As an aside, I've still been swimming while I am here. While I didn't swim as far yesterday as I normally do, it did feel good to get some exercise into my day.

Okay, so I have to get back to my homework. I have a project due to tomorrow in which I am to design a teaching/learning event for a designated community using material taught from the Gospel of Mark and the course I am taking. I am supposed to communicate one of the primary insights or theological constructs that I have gained in the course and then describe the context and community that will be my primary responsibility in this teaching project. In the end, I am to describe what the learning or engagement process will be and what theological action/reflection I expect will lead to this community's religious/political/social transformation. The paper doesn't need to be long, say 5-7 pages. Then, I am to give a 15-20 minute presentation on this methodological teaching curriculum.

Interestingly, I was only given this assignment today. You'd think that I would be panicking right about now as to the scope and breadth of the assignment. But I am not. I am actually calm...sorta. But I do need to get working on it. I may be up rather late tonight getting this accomplished.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday at Drew

Wowsers, this week has been a killer. I had forgotten how difficult is was to concentrate in class when you stay up so very late studying so that you can participate in class. Fortunately, a report due today was postponed until Monday; otherwise, I'd've spend yet another day in class glassy-eyed, punchy, and dazed.

While this week has been difficult, it has also been richly rewarding. I have two classes this week, one in the morning from 9:00 - 12:30 PM and another from 1:30 - 5:00 PM. In the morning class, I am taking a practical theology class that is teaching me to due pericope analysis using an acronymial method called the V.O.T.E.R analysis. Using this method, you are able to been discern the intent of the passage in order to reveal the vision of the author by understanding the obligation, tendencies, environment, and rules/roles being communicated. Yesterday I used this analysis on Mark 3:20-30 where Jesus is called Beelzebul by the Scribes for his casting out demons. After my presentation in class, the professor implied I was the only one who got this analysis right, and after class called my presentation "Brilliant." I was on Cloud 9 for a long while.

In my afternoon class, we are working to pinpoint our DMin project. Since beginning this process last semester, my project has had a few incarnations from creating a cirriculum around a liberal and progressive discipleship program to revitalizing a Sunday school using postmodern and emergent concepts. Yesterday I presented an overview that is even more narrow in focus than my other attempts. Ultimately I don't have to decide on a final project until September; the goal of the course is to teach me how to decide what to do and the steps involved in presenting a prospectus to be approved by my professors come September.

Having said that, I may have found my project. I presented yesterday a prospectus that creates newcomer/new member classes to be done before a newcomer joins the church and classes after a member joins. These classes would focus on telling individual stories and narratives, giving history to the other faith stories in the congregation, membership guidelines and expectations, spiritual gift inventories, discipleship, and mission and outreach. Using this project, I could employ emergent and missional concepts into the cirriculum (where my heart lay). I am more excited about this particular direction of our project than I have been of any other. This may, indeed, be my project.

I have another class that begins a week from Monday that has me busy writing a paper. That class is called Thriving in the Digital Age through Collaborative Leadership. I have to write this report based upon the current leadership challenges and opportunities in my ministry context in light of six books assigned for the class. I will finish this report over the weekend; I may even finish it by tomorrow (hopefully).

I am planning on being in Cresskill Sunday afternoon to see Jay and Maggie (and to bring home laundry to wash). I will also need to pick up a raincoat. It has rained practically everyday I've been here and its getting annoying.

So that's it--my week in class. Today should be light: My morning class will be discussing Elaine Graham's Theological Reflection: Methods. My afternoon class will be full of my other classmates presentations on their prospective prospecituses (did I spell that right?).

Two final notes, I had originally planned to write up my experiences daily--obviously I've only been doing that every other day. That seems to be working for me and will continue to do this.

My next week will be a lot like this week with the same classes--just more intense. I'll be sure to keep you informed as it happens. Keep praying for me that this week will be a blessing to you, me, and all involved. And, I hope your Sunday with Lauren is a blessing too.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday Morning

Well folks, yesterday was my first full day of classes. Monday was an all-day orientation and, while interesting and dare I say fun, Tuesday was where the rubber hit the road.

So here is my schedule: I have Pastoral Theology: Of the People, By the People, and For the People, taught by Dr. Elkins. The class will meet for the two weeks from 9:00 AM - 12:30 PM. It is a class to help me understand culture theology by using Lincoln's Gettysburg address as a way to meat out and interpret cultural theology. The purpose of this class is to help me when I construct my DMin project and write it up in my dissertation.

My afternoon class is Theological Methods and Practice, taught by Dr. Menking. This class meeting from 1:30 PM - 5:00 PM for two weeks. This class will help me do the background work to prepare for the writing of my Topic and Prospectus for my project.

I will have a third class beginning next week, with a paper due this coming Friday (I will start writing it tonight). This class is called Thriving in the Digital Age through Collaborative Leadership, taught by Dr. Hammond and Dr. Hollon. This class is meant to address multiple world views, perspectives on what it means to belong and participate, and the multi-layered expectations that affect congregational leadership. I am not exactly certain how this directly relates to my DMin project but I haven't had this class yet. When I find out its correlation, I'll let you know.

So that's really it for school. The idea for each class is the workload is equal to that of a full year of classes crammed into a week. We have tons of reading (that I've almost finished prior to coming to class), many papers to write, and lots of thinking. All the classes are meant to help us as we begin planning our project. We are also to hit the library as we see what projects other DMin candidates have completed and use their projects when they relate to our own.

For myself, I have narrowed down my ideas for a project to center around doing Christian Education a little different for a small congregation. My project may be to create a multi-generational Sunday school program within Christian Education. At least, this is something our congregation is already considering--and it makes sense to make such a consideration a part of my project. Nothing is set in stone yet, though. These three weeks of class is meant to help me discern my project, I have until September to finalize it.

Okay, so I need to do some homework before my classes today so I am going to stop writing now. See you soon (on here).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Night at Drew University

I have been thinking about keeping some sort of travelogue concerning my 3-weeks at school. I want to keep you, dear church member or anyone else who might be reading this, up to date on what I am doing, learning, and other fun activities.

This being my first post, I want to let you know what I've been up to today. Following Sunday morning worship, I went home and packed and played on the Xbox, packed some more, ate, took a nap, packed, played with the dog, and then I was done. After all that, I was kind of too tired to leave but I did. I left Cresskill about 4:30 PM and arrived in Madison, NJ before 6:00 PM. Getting my keys and pertinent information, I drove to the dorms where I got myself situated. Then, I moved the furniture to fit my space, went shopping, set up my computer and printer, and ate cereal for dinner.

Now I am going to do some reading and get to sleep. My day begins at 7:30 AM and its promising to be a big day. I'll write about it tomorrow night.

I hope to keep these posts somewhat interesting. If I think I am boring you to death, I may just write a 3-week summary when it's all over. ;)

See you tomorrow night! (on here)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Great Quote

My friend Paul posted this quote on his Facebook page:

"If God has made us in his image, we have returned him the favor." - Voltaire

For many folks (maybe even us), this is so true, right?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

10 Ways to Make Yourself Feel Miserable

Okay, so this post may sound counter-intuitive but see if you're doing any of these things. You may discover that the reason you feel miserable is because you're doing one of these things. Knowing and identifying exactly what causes your misery is a giant step in removing that thing from your life.

10 Ways To Make Yourself (And Everyone Around You) Miserable
by Ali Hale

Have you been miserable lately? Got the hump, feeling down, worrying, stressing? Whatever’s got you down – swine flu, the credit crunch, the weather, a busy time at work -- you might as well milk it for all it’s worth. Here’s how to make yourself (and everyone around you) feel completely and utterly miserable.

(And don’t tell me you don’t want to be miserable. I’m pretty sure you’re already doing at least a few of the things on this list...)
  1. Turn Molehills Into Mountains
    When your printer jams, it’s not just annoying, it’s a disaster. When your car develops an odd rattle, it’s not just normal wear and tear, it’s clearly going to cost a fortune to fix. When your son swears at you, it’s not just a bit of acting out, it’s the first sign of junior delinquency.

    However small your problem, magnify it until it becomes overwhelming. You can only be properly miserable when you have huge problems.

  2. Dwell On It
    Now that you’ve got a big problem, make sure you dwell on it. Let it fill your waking thoughts. Let it spoil your time with your partner or family. (And make sure you keep bringing it up in conversation so everyone knows how awful you’re feeling.)

    Imagine all the worst-case scenarios that could result. Lie awake at night, dreaming up new ones.

  3. Worry About Things You Can’t Change
    Of course, problems that you can solve can only make you miserable for so long – eventually, you’ll either fix them or they’ll melt away of their own accord. So you need to worry about things that you have absolutely no control over.

    And you’re in luck: there’s a ready stock of these things on the daily news. Just switch on CNN, and start worrying...

  4. Let Everything Mount Up
    Whenever there’s something which might cause you stress – unanswered emails, unpaid bills, your taxes, your Christmas cards – let it mount up. Leave your bills unopened for months. Shove all your receipts straight into one big envelope. Don’t bother updating your address book until December 15th.

    This habit is self-reinforcing: the more the pile grows, the more reluctant you’ll be to tackle it. And guess what? The bigger it is, the more it’ll prey on your mind. An easy way to make yourself miserable.

  5. Blame Other People
    To be truly miserable, you mustn’t take responsibility for any of your problems. Blame your parents. Blame society. Blame the government. Blame your boss. Blame your big sister. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter who you blame. Just so long as you’re clear that you aren’t to blame at all – meaning you couldn’t possibly have any power to change the situation.

    Of course, to make sure that everyone else is just as miserable as you, be vocal, and tell people that it’s all their fault that your life is so screwed up.

  6. Beat Yourself Up
    Once you’re bored of blaming other people, start beating yourself up. Listen to that little voice in your head which says that you’re stupid and lazy. Let it go on and on until you believe it. Blame yourself for mistakes you made twenty years ago. Blame yourself for not being 100% perfect.

    This is a fast, easy and reliable way to become miserable and to stay miserable. If you do it well, you’ll be convinced that you have no power to change yourself.

  7. Complain, Whine And Grumble
    When you’re miserable, let the world know about it. Complain to your co-workers about the food in the staff canteen. Whine to your friends about your long hours, aching back and credit card debt. Grumble about the weather, the price of gas, the media, the government.

    If every word that comes out of your mouth is a negative one, you’ll be doing a great job of maintaining your miserable mood – and dragging down everyone else’s mood to match it.

  8. Never Accept Help
    Inevitably, your whining will cause someone to offer some help. Perhaps a friend at work says he’ll help you out with your paperwork, or your partner offers to do your tax return for you. Maybe your sister says she’ll look after the kids one Saturday to give you a break.

    Always insist that you don’t need help. Make yourself believe that the person offering couldn’t possibly lighten your burdens ... and make sure they know that they’ve stepped out of line by being willing to lend a hand. (They won’t offer again.)

  9. Follow The Path Of Least Resistance
    Whenever you have to make a decision, just follow the path of least resistance. It’s easier to stay in your current crap job than to hunt around for something better – so stay where you are. It’s easier to grab take-out rather than cook, so keep doing it (and make sure you feel thoroughly miserable about the effect on your wallet and your health).

    If you’re feeling demotivated, lethargic and dispirited, don’t fight it. Let yourself spend the whole weekend sitting around in your pyjamas, playing video games. Then beat yourself up (see number 6) for not getting anything useful done.

  10. Never Take A Break
    Sometimes, the path of least resistance doesn’t lead to duvet days and general apathy – it means carrying on with life at your current reckless rate. Keep working ridiculous hours; lack of sleep will contribute to your misery. Laugh at anyone who suggests a vacation – and tell them (or at least think to yourself) that they’re slackers for wanting a couple of weeks off.

    Make sure you’re burning the candle at both ends – and hating it. Go to bed miserable, and wake up miserable. What more could you want?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Talking Points on Gay Marriage

As many of you who are members of our congregation know, the United Church of Christ was the first mainline Protestant denomination to affirm and support gay marriage. While many within our denomination understand the significance of this action, there are still many outside of it who are being confronted about this issue given recent political conversations about it.

Just turn on the television and watch CNN or Larry King and you'll hear folks saying that any support of gay marriage will lead our country to ruin, destroy traditional marriage, or lead to the legalization of pedophilia and bestiality.

Many of our members have friends and family members who do not support gay marriage because they respond to the fear tactics of those opposed to it. But fear not, gentle reader, here is a video with talking points that can aid you in responding to those who are either sincere in their desire to understand the gay marriage issue or who are ignorant and do not really understand that society will not collapse nor will traditional marriages destruct.

h/t Queerty

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Great Quote

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward."

--Amelia Earhart, who took off from Newfoundland on this date in 1932 on the world's first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean by a female pilot.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Great Quote

I have been spending the day reading posts from my personal blog. I have been thinking it's time to turn it off, hang it up, and move on with that particular blog. It's been fun and I've enjoyed having it, but I just don't use it much anymore.

As I was reading through the posts, I came across the great quote: "Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." -- Thomas Alva Edison

Isn't that the truth?!

Fish and Chips Dinner

You are invited to join us at the church this coming Saturday at 5:00 PM for our Fish and Chips dinner. Admission price is $15 and includes the fish and chips, refreshments, and a tasty dessert. You may eat in or take out.

Come hungry, leave happy...or something like that!

It'd be really cool if you could R.S.V.P. To do so, please call the church office or send me an email at See you there!

Lazy Postings

Can you believe it's been almost a month since I've posted anything on our blog? I must admit that the main reason is that I have become such a Facebook crony. I find myself there more often than even reading other blogs in my blog reader. But fear not, kind and faithful reader, more postings will resume on here.

Another reason that I haven't been posting much is that I have taken a sort of break from an online life of research and reading. While Facebook offered me a time to catch up with my friends, I took it as a break from having to write something. So, while I took a break I haven't quit it, I merely too a break a result, I spent more time with Jay and Maggie, went to bed at a decent time, and just goofed off at home instead of goofing off at home and online. In any event, my R&R has been good and now I feel rested enough to get back online and be the fab poster that I once was.

Look for regular postings in the days ahead.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Sky Won't Fall

By now, you may have heard about a commercial called The Gathering Storm airing in certain local markets scaring folks into believing that if gay marriage happens, then all evil and heck will break loose and churches will be forced to perform these marriages or face governmental penalties.

The forces that organized that commercial are targeting states such as Maine and New Jersey, those who are now considering legalizing gay marriages. Their hopes are to scare folks into believing that gay marriage will destroy the institution of marriage and force everyone to do abide by gay marriage or face dire penalities.

There really isn't anything to fear about this issue since churches have always had the right to not perform any marriage it doesn't want to or can't, due to denominational constraints. This video explains that in more detail as well as showing, in States that have gay marriage, that the sky hasn't fallen and all the scare tactics of conservatives who use fearmongering to scare folks simply have not come to pass.

* Update: I found another video that speaks directly to the original video.