Showing posts from August, 2007

Summer Is Finally Over Meme

The Roundup will come tomorrow.

1. Share a highlight from this summer. (If you please, don't just say "our vacation to the Canadian Rockies." Give us a little detail or image. Help us live vicariously through you!) I'm gonna have to go with finding out that I'm going to be a father. No contest. Honorable mention goes to this past weekend with all the people who were around for Mrs. Coffeepastor's graduation. It was enjoyable to have a full house and eat too much.

2. Are you glad to see this summer end? Why or why not? Nowadays I'm always glad to see summer end. This until the end of the year is my favorite time.

3. Name one or two things you're looking forward to this fall. The big one will be my work trip to New Orleans in October. I've never been there besides, but going there for this reason seems that much more important. Also, Go Blue.

4. Do you have any special preparations or activities to mark the transition from one season to another…

2.9 mm

That's how big the (very) little one is at the moment.

Mrs. Coffeepastor had a concern come up the other day that she wanted to have checked out, so we visited an OBGYN. While there, we both got a much more accurate picture and timetable of things.

First, she's fine. The little one is fine. Everybody's fine.

Second, I got a much more intimate perspective of what women go through at such appointments. I salute you all.

Third, we're not as far along as we initially thought. She hit 6 weeks today, so that puts the due date at April 24th. Incidentally, this is Shakespeare's birthday, which we thought was tremendously cool. It's also her sister's birthday, which is also pretty cool. We already have names picked out, and while it would be fun to plan on naming it something like Bianca if a girl and Lysander if it's a boy, we aren't that dorky. Okay, we are that dorky. Just not in this instance.

And finally, we saw it for the first time. It's not…

Is This What It Looks Like?

I once heard a pastor say from the pulpit, "Ministry is like know it when you see it." That has stuck with me mostly because a pastor said it. From the pulpit. But it's also stuck with me because I'm not always sure whether I'm doing ministry or not.

I wonder if the same thing applies to being missional. I read the definitions and examples. I know that the term refers to stepping out of the church walls and into the community and beyond merely the membership. But in my own time and place, I've wondered what that looks like.

Yesterday I met two guys interested in membership. Usually for these things I set up a Saturday morning where I sit them at a table in front of a whiteboard, say some things about the history of the UCC, point them to the Statement of Faith, and ask them how they want their names spelled on their certificates. Yesterday I decided to let them pick a favorite place to drink coffee and we'd have a conversation. An…

Turning a Corner

So it's been a few days. That's been the story of this blog lately. Sorry about that.

The weekend was full. Mrs. Coffeepastor is now a college graduate twice-over. She'll soon be off to take her Big Important Nurse Exam. In the meantime, we had a fun weekend with a packed house - lots of family and friends over for grilling out and games. Our overly friendly cat probably got the best deal, because he just moved from person to person getting his belly rubbed and his head scratched.Yesterday I did nearly nothing...I didn't change out of my pajamas until close to 3:00. Call it recovery. But the good kind, if there is such a thing.

And then the Tigers beat the Yankees 16-0 and I got to watch it on TV.

I feel like our household has turned a major corner. Soon Mrs. Coffeepastor (one of these days I'm going to write a parody post of blogs that give tedious anonymous nicknames to family members) will be a full-fledged nurse. In addition, this Sunday is September 2nd…

Pop Culture Roundup

I've decided to supplement The Intimate Merton with W. Somerset Maugham's first volume of short stories. I'd read The Razor's Edge in college and loved it, so I decided to give his short stories a chance. "Rain" is a commentary on the brutality and hypocrisy that can manifest in religion, while "The Fall of Edward Barnard" is a brilliant satire of cultural expectation, similar to The Razor's Edge. Maugham is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers.

This past week I watched The Last Kiss, which stars Zach Braff and that chick from the Manly Deoderant Spray commercials who's all like, "I don't want to smell you from here...not here...not even here...I'm hot, buy whatever this crap is that I'm selling." The movie itself is a story of four guys who all have mid-life crises at age 30. Some of them are just on the cusp of settling down, others would rather settle down, one doesn't want to settle down at all. And they w…

More Children's Sermons Rejected by Textweek

Sometimes, to break the monotony of a good, logically sound object lesson, it's good to just tell a simple story with a sound Jesus-ish message. Here are a few of my favorites...

"I'd like to tell you a story about a boy named Xanish. Xanish needed help with his homework one night, so he asked his father to help him.

'Father,' Xanish asked, 'I seem to be having some difficulty with my math homework. Could you please help me?'

'I don't know, son,' Father replied, 'Doesn't God want us to work out our own problems?'

'Um...what does that have to do with math?' Xanish was confused.

'You see, son, there was this man named Abraham. He was once afraid of the Pharaoh of Egypt, so he told the guards that Sarah was his sister so that they wouldn't kill him. And then it all worked out. So you should work on your math by yourself because it's what God wants so that you'll grow up to be a good American citizen.'

'But di…

Taking Stock

Every once in a while, I have nothing in particular to write but feel a compulsion to set pen to paper, or fingers to keys. By the time I'm finished and the urge satisfied, I can sit back and see whether the act produced anything or whether it was an act for the sake of the act.

A certain member of my household, now some six weeks pregnant, is beginning to discover the downside of such a state. I'm hearing about aches and pains and queasiness and other things that my RevGal colleagues can write about with it seeming slightly less weird to share with all of existence. I wouldn't be able to pull it off very well. Suffice to say, she settled down for a "nap" around 6:00 and has been there ever since.

It's been a different sort of evening that way. I must say that the feeling around the house tonight seems to be one of silence...the type of silence that is brought about by change. It's not a "calm before the storm" sort of silence, but it is a…

It's Not What You Think

Some days, I joke to myself that one day I'm just going to re-post everything written over at Letters From Kamp Krusty and claim it as my own, or just shut this blog down and replace it with a link to over there.

Here is his plan to neutralize Al-Qaeda. Hopefully you see what he's really talking about...

Let's get Al-Qaeda to...

1) Complexify the message
Right now, it's so simple, it can pass from one to the next, and be easily grasped by the uneducated, the young -- everyone. This is dangerous, because it's highly contagious, and people on the street feel capable of enlisting others in the cause.

2) Construct a less "flat", more hierarchical structure
Currently, small, underground groups can move nimbly and autonomously, complicating efforts to thwart them. A more regimented, stratified approach, where some members are left thinking, "I can't know enough to do anything" would bring the movement to a halt.

3) Foster "expert" cultu…

Word Association Meme

Foregoing the Roundup, as it wouldn't have been very interesting. First thought that pops into your head for each word, yadda yadda...

1. vineyard - There's an untouched bottle of white wine in the refrigerator that's been in there for months, and now unless I'm drinking it by myself, that's where it's going to stay for a while yet.

2. root - I think of actor Stephen Root, who plays Milton in Office Space, but who also plays a record company executive in Just Friends: "If you don't make me happy, I'm going to find someone to make me happy." It's been on HBO a lot lately. Good movie.

3. rescue - I've been thinking about college football lately since it's right around the corner, and I'd love, love, LOVE for Michigan to rescue me from the past few years' worth of torment watching them lose to The Sweatervest. It wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't surrounded by their fans. This year looks very promising for my boys, but …

Sometimes I Say Dumb Things

I don't know what it is, but sometimes I really just say some stupid things as a pastor.

Sometimes I catch myself doing it, and then proceed to say a few more stupid things to try to cover it up.

Exhibit A: last year I used a newspaper during a children's sermon and asked the kids what kinds of things you find in a newspaper. Back to back, two answers were "obituaries" and "wedding announcements." I made a comment about how weird it was that they were on the same page, which drew a modest chuckle from the congregation. For the remainder of the service, I began to wonder how So-and-So, who had lost his wife a few months prior, would have heard that. It ate at me so much that when it came time for the Prayers of the People I blurted out a prayer for "pastors who make inappropriate comments during children's sermons."

Or consider the most recent Consistory meeting, where I was in rare form (probably still giddy over finding out that I'm going t…

Well, What Else Can I Say?

All right, I think that everyone knows by this point. Joyful phone calls and e-mails have been made, or people saw the blog, or someone told someone else in the grocery store, or a pastor cleverly shared it during the Prayers of the People and the congregation may or may not have picked up on it.

So sometime around the beginning of April, we welcome Mini-Me. Well, Mini-Her-And-Me. Mini-Us. Only singular. We think.

The very realization of this, which only came as recently as Sunday morning, seems to change one's thinking. Already, plans related to career, trips, diet, and whatever else have slowly become attached to the question, "How will that affect the baby?" Suddenly there's someone else to start considering, and aspirations shrink a little. That's not a tremendously original revelation, but I'm just saying that it's happening already.

The Soon-to-Be Nurse Wife is going to work second shift. How will that affect the baby?

I was toying with the idea of goin…

Shopping List


Judas, CEO

Randall K. Osmet may seem at first glance like your garden-variety CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation, but he will tell you differently.

“It’s not of my own doing,” he demurs, “it’s only because I followed what the Bible teaches.”

I press him on this issue as we sit together in his office. Osmet sits across from me sipping a cup of coffee, surrounded by past accolades: the covers of Forbes and The Economist, an MBA from Harvard, photos of him with President Bush and Condoleeza Rice. And all of this because of the Bible?

“Of course,” he says, “without it, I’d be lost, personally and financially.”

Surely this is an allusion to Jesus CEO, the book that came out some twelve years ago, right?

“No, not Jesus,” he quickly corrects me. “Judas.”

And it is at that point where Osmet produces a copy of his book, Judas CEO.

“It comes out in a few months. Zondervan are dragging their feet a little.”

I feel compelled to push him on this point after getting over my initial shock. Judas? He was the one…

Pop Culture Roundup

The Intimate Merton is going very slowly. Maybe I'll just leave this section off until I finish it, and until you see it again you can pretty well assume that I'm still reading it.

We're going to see The Bourne Ultimatum tomorrow. I've heard and will expect good things.

We watched most of the first episode of L.A. Ink this week, which follows Kat back to Hollywood to start her own tattoo shop. The lone guy she tries to get to join her shop is freaking awesome. He just draws the image right on the person without any paper involved. That's talent. Pixie freaked me out a little bit with her forked tongue. Kim seems to be the spiritual one of the group.

Entourage had a little more direction this week. It focused on Eric getting a new office and trying to get his name out as Vince's manager. There's a weird scene with Gary Busey. And Jeremy Piven shows why he won an emmy, because his character's got the most personality. His stories have so much more bread…

Love Doesn't Need a Reason

So let me tell you about the wedding I attended on Saturday.

The first thing that you need to know is that, including the bride and groom, there were exactly 14 people there. It consisted of both sets of parents, his sister and niece (easily in the top 3 cutest kids in the entire world), her aunt and uncle (I think), a best man, the pastor, and the P.o.C.s. The two of us were the only non-related people besides the best man there, which I think I need to feel flattered and privileged about.

It was, as I've mentioned, at her parents' house, which is set back in the woods a little ways inside a gated community near Amish country. Up until this point, I've always thought of gated communities as treeless, soulless subdivisions where homes cost $500,000 or more. I've now been disabused of that notion. This was a wooded area around a large scenic lake, where houses have a few acres in between them. The house itself was a marvelous rustic layout, warm and inviting, with a deck …

Children's Sermons that Textweek Rejected

Text: John 8:1-11
Theme: Jesus Doesn't Want You To Throw Rocks
Props: A handful of rocks, one for each child.

Lesson: Say, "what have I brought with me today?" (Rocks.) "That's right, rocks. What can you do with rocks?" (Paint them, throw them, use as a paperweight, build a house, arrange a meditation garden with them). "Wow. Those are all great ideas. But the one that I want to talk about today is throwing rocks. Have you ever thrown a rock?" (Wait for responses) "Did it feel good?" (Wait for responses) "Did you want to do it again?" (Wait for responses) "Have you ever thrown a rock at another person?" (Wait for responses, take names of those who answer yes)

Say: "Well, I want to tell you a story. There was this group of people who wanted to throw rocks at a woman caught in adultery. Do you know what adultery is?" (Wait for responses. Many probably won't, in which case you say:) "Well…


I appreciate Greg at The Parish for many reasons, the #1 reason probably being how uncomfortable and self-conscious he makes me at times. Here's part of a recent post of his concerning funerals:

Let me say that funerals are hard to do. I did several when I was a pastor, and in no case was the deceased of an age where people think, "He lived a good, long life." The worst was an infant who died in the womb during the 32nd week of pregnancy. Even if you know the people involved, it's difficult to find anything worthwhile to say. I should also say that the funeral industry does not help the plight of preachers, as they bring a certain plastic tackiness to the whole affair: practiced sympathy, grating muzak, faux elegance, and dark suits...always the dark suits (folks, it's in the mid-90's outside. maybe go with the safari outfits and pith helmets.). The unfortunate minister, who if she knows the family, has already spent several hours with the bereaved trying not …

Pop Culture Roundup

Still working through The Intimate Merton, which is taking me a lot longer than I thought it would. I read a few of his entries at a time, which may only mean that I've read 3-4 pages in a sitting. Sometimes what he's writing about demands it. I find that I need to spend a little more time with each entry the more he focuses on a Catholic festival or ritual.

We saw The Simpsons Movie this past weekend, and laughed pretty hard more than once. The cameos by Green Day and Tom Hanks are excellent. Bart's skateboarding will make you do a double-take. And Albert Brooks is always gold whenever he guest-voices. There is, as one reviewer has mentioned, not a lot of focus on individual Springfieldian quirks, but I don't think that a movie can (or should) in the same way that 18-years' worth of episodes can. My biggest letdown: no Kang and Kodos. Oh well.

I also watched Domino this week. It may just be my Y chromosome that enjoys an action flick involving Kiera Knightly...b…

An Epiphany!

Behold! An epiphany!

There's this pastor, see, and he's been trying to form some semblance of a senior high youth group. He himself, while growing up, was part of a youth group that went on a bunch of mission trips and met every week.

The best part about this other youth group, you see, is that it was made up of people who could just be given a topic and they'd discuss, argue, yell, and laugh. There was a notable absence of mudpits and gimmickery and Outings That Cost Money (because you can only have fun if you get away from the church and spend money) and glorified babysitting. This other youth group would sometimes do that other stuff, but they didn't need a lot of it.

Then this pastor came to a church where no senior high group existed. He counts himself blessed when three kids show up to an event, mostly because he knows he can count on those three. Usually.

He's trying a discussion group, which is going "well."

He's doing an ongoing post-confirmatio…

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