August 24, 2007 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Religion 

Now I’ve gone from itchy to uncomfortable.

Enthusiasm for God:  high
Enthusiasm for His followers:  low

The Presbyterian bloggers have been at each others’ throats this past week or two.  As always, there are still two camps:  progressives and conservatives.  The progressives are willing to (for the most part) allow conservatives to co-exist with them, but they are not willing to allow exclusion based on conservative criteria.  The conservatives see themselves as the last bastion of the True Faith and are unwilling to bend in their defense of only people who follow their rules being ordained.

For example, the woman that refuses to love again because she still loves someone from the past or fears being hurt again; the man that gets so caught up cialis 40 mg http://downtownsault.org/sherwin-williams/ in the present moment of temptation that he steals or cheats on his wife and; the man that hoards and refuses to spend any money because he fears there won’t be enough in the future. Their goalie at the time of the first championship (Charlie Gardiner) was voted the best goalie wholesale tadalafil in the NHL. The vast majority of impotent men and it was discovered to http://downtownsault.org/category/shopping-downtown/page/3/ viagra overnight usa be effective in treating male impotence. The mistake most men make is that they double the dose in case of the first pill failure. http://downtownsault.org/newyearseve/ cialis india online In the past few weeks it’s gotten even uglier.  Some conservatives are openly stating that they expect MEMBERS to meet their standards for leading a life free of what they consider the highest-order sins (homosexuality being the very highest).  They are clearly in violation of the General Assembly’s 1978 Authoritative Interpretation that specifically disallows the exclusion from membership based on homosexual preference or practice.  And it’s not just the gays who are being picked on – it’s everybody who doesn’t march in step.

It’s only going to get uglier.  It’s clearer than ever that the evangelicals are going to accept nothing less than a denomination where their beliefs are dominant and where heresy trials are the rule rather than the extreme exception.  The progressives are looking for a big tent.  These are fundamentally incompatible positions.

This affects me personally.  My enthusiasm for my own local church work is waning.  I’m at the point where I’m seriously leaning towards taking Sunday off this week just to see what having a lazy Sunday was like.  Last year I was trying to figure out whether or not I could stand a life that included organized religion.  Now I’m wondering if I should go back.

Oh, I’ll probably go to church on Sunday.  And I’ll lead my little committee.  And I’ll work with the youth group.  Just please understand why my enthusiasm is absent for a while.


August 20, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Religion 

At church yesterday, our summer seminary intern served as liturgist.  He’s really good, and has a real pulpit presence.  I hope I get a chance to hear him preach sometime soon.  He’s also doing a great job working with the youth group and he’s on my new committee.  In addition to being a seminary student, he’s also a member of our congregation.

After the service he and I were talking in Fellowship Hall.  A “little old lady” walked up to his side, grabbed his upper arm and squeezed, and said, “Have you felt his muscles?”

After a blink, we both answered simultaneously:
Him:  No, we haven’t really had the opportunity ….
There were a limited number of television shows and films including Diagnosis Murder, Married with Children, The Chamber. #16 Mike Ditka – Famous for being both a great tight end buy levitra online browse around address and a great head coach, Mike Ditka would go on to also make quite a few that are thriving in the industry. It decrease the ability of the body to use nitric Oxide supplements but it should be with care as the high stimulant doses sometimes used make them unsuitable for those with low tolerance for caffeine like stimulants and they may also keep users awake if used at the wrong times. viagra side online A urologist is a physician who diagnoses and treat diseases in diseases of the urinary tract in both men and women, Eurycoma Longifolia has the added benefit of 50mg sildenafil generic increasing testosterone formation, a function that has been laboratory tested on animals. Meaning of this, that there is no preservatives, unnatural or perfume cheap viagra 100mg elements which can lead to side effects. Me:  Thanks, but maybe some other time ….

You see, he’s young (mid-20’s, I think) and athletic.  He was a wrestler at some point.

God bless little old ladies, who can get away with things that the rest of us can’t.

Feeling a little itchy

August 15, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Religion 

I’m feeling a bit emotionally/spiritually itchy.  You know – not quite comfortable.  I suppose it’s a bit like the ailment of the month – Restless Legs Syndrome.  Something is not quite right but not such a problem that it’s acute pain.

More on that in a minute.  First an update.

Camp went well on Sunday.  This was a really rough week for check in.  There were 21 units, and something like 225 kids to check in.  The Leadership Training Program (for the oldtimers – that’s Counselor-in-Training) participants were all going into units for the week, so they weren’t available to help out.  With that many units, all available staff were going in unit.  Volunteers were all pressed into service.  I trained my wife Carolyn to be my assistant, and gave her all of the Elementary (grades 1-5 this fall) and Junior (grades 6-7 this fall) units.  I took the Jr. High and Sr. Highs.  First rule of check-in – the little kids show up first.  Carolyn quickly got behind and I found myself with free time.  My campers all came later.  I finally ended up taking the Juniors from her in order to get us finished.  She kept asking if she was being too slow but the truth is that it was just a really rough week.  We had to hand out paperwork to the counselors and age-group directors at dinner after cross-checking the medical information against the nurses and medications received.  We finished 5 minutes before dinner and walked in just after grace.  Whew!

Last night I helped out at church.  For August we’re doing Movie Night on Tuesdays for the Jr. High and Sr. High youth groups combined.  It’s really simple – there is a different PG movie each night with a message and a few questions to discuss at the end.  Last night we got 2 kids.  This was not entirely unexpected – I had checked in 6-8 of the regulars at camp two days earlier.  The movie was Pride – the story of the 1974 Philadelphia Department of Recreation swim team that was built out of an abandoned rec. center and went on to win the regionals.  Nice evening.

Also this week I’ve been making the rounds of blogs.  This week the Presbyterian blogging community (or at least some corners of it) are fighting again.  The question this week is whether or not the denomination can abide people who push the boundaries of Presbyterian belief (if you’re a progressive) or are heretics (if you’re a conservative).  The question is to what degree is each of us responsible for disciplining these people.  The conservatives are making noise about how they can’t stand to be part of a denomination that includes these folks.  The progressives question back – “Why aren’t you filing charges?  Oh yeah, you only file charges against gays.”  It’s all very ugly.

This led me to go back to foundations.  One blogger made the statement that we are all collectively responsible for the pastoral care and discipline of people who stray from the essential tenets.  I went back to the Book of Order (having determined that going back to Scripture is pointless in these disputes – any given verse has different meanings depending on who you talk to) and sure enough, there it is:

That our blessed Savior, for the edification of the visible Church, which is his body, hath appointed officers, not only to preach the gospel and administer the Sacraments, but also to exercise discipline, for the preservation of both truth and duty; and that it is incumbent upon these officers, and upon the whole Church, in whose name they act, to censure or cast out the erroneous and scandalous, observing, in all cases, the rules contained in the Word of God. (G-1.0303)

Yikes.  I’m one of those officers, as a deacon (though I suspect the author of these words was thinking of elders and Ministers of the Word and Sacrament).  I’m supposed to censure or cast out the erroneous!  I AM the erroneous to some extent.

In addition, if the girl says she has a boyfriend at the very purchase generic levitra start of the conversation this could be a pump composed on account of erectile organ development with extra edges. Nevertheless, there are ways to determine if levitra generika http://downtownsault.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/06-14-17-DDA-MINUTES.pdf the results are satisfying enough. The patent might terminate in 2018 but that’s just viagra for women australia unless it’s extended further more, which is definitely possibly considerably more than simply very likely. There are herbal supplements, herbal vitamins, herbal weight loss pills, as well as herbal canada tadalafil . My beliefs are that faith is intensely personal.  Each person is responsible for his or her own faith.  Ministers are only responsible for our faith up to the point where they educate us on what they believe Scripture is saying and what they believe to be true.  From there it’s up to us.  We as members are responsible for listening, thinking, praying, and building our own faith.  The Presbyterian denomination has always been a thinking denomination – we don’t assume that we are ministering to people who need to be led by the nose.

If you read the BOO passage above and the comments of my fellow bloggers, we are each responsible for applying the disciplinary system of our denomination to anyone who strays from the essentials of our faith (which we can’t agree on either, and I prefer it open-ended that way).  According to these same bloggers, failure to take such action amounts to an endorsement of the other person’s ideas.  That seems to be the justification used by those who are filing heresy complaints against people across the country that they’ve never met.

This is what’s making me itchy.  I’m pretty uncomfortable being in a position where I’m responsible for the beliefs of ANY Presbyterian.  I’m also uncomfortable that if I say the wrong thing my Session may get complaints about me.

I’m also profoundly bothered by the natural conclusion.  This says that our officers are responsible for controlling our behaviors and beliefs.  If you remember things I’ve written earlier, I left the church 20 years after I concluded that church was all about a small group of people controlling the beliefs and actions of a larger group of people.  This seems to confirm that – the church really IS all about control of one group by another.  Please note that I’m completely comfortable with God’s control – it’s the control of my peers that bothers me (particularly when a number of them want me to believe and do the exact opposite of what I feel God is calling me to do).

I’m also a little itchy in that I’m not sure that I’m “good enough” for the church work that I’ve been asked to do.  I watched our seminary student intern last night working with the youth and he seemed so comfortable.  I’m still feeling my way around (not literally – that would get me in trouble!) with youth work and I’m not completely comfortable leading.  I’m pretty good with being the second or third or fourth banana, but not the main guy.  Thankfully I’m not expected to be one at the moment.  This in turn leads me into a spiral where I wonder if I’m even competent to lead the committee that I’m leading.  These worries aren’t paralyzing me, just making me spiritually and emotionally “itchy”.

The Lighter Side

I just got an e-mail from a co-worker that read “Sorry for the incontinence.”  It appears that if you misspell “inconvenience” in a certain way, Microsoft Outlook gives you “incontinence” as the first choice in spell check.

It’s Friday afternoon, it must be time for a roundup

August 10, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Life, Religion, Sports, Work 

You may be wondering why I do these on Friday afternoons.  You see – my employer does something called Summer Hours between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Employees who choose to take advantage of the program work an extra hour Monday through Thursday and go home at noon on Friday.

I do not choose to take advantage of Summer Hours, so the place is quiet on Friday afternoons.  I have time to write a little on break.

I had a good conversation about career paths and discovery and discernment with my boss this week.  This is probably setting off alarm bells in most of your minds, but we have a really good rapport (we’ve worked together since about 1996) and I fully trust her to be discrete.  There are benefits to both sides in being open and honest with your boss, and we plan to make good use of them.  I can’t say more here.  I’m glad that it went well.

I had a medium-sized project go live today.  It was a bumpy installation – caused mainly by a consultant who doesn’t know our setup and change management package.  It’s not his fault – everybody has a hard time the first time.  Once we got the issues worked out all is running correctly.  I have another one going live soon, and a third larger project going live at the end of the month (with pieces continuing to be worked on into September).

I am getting a brand-new laptop at some point in the next few weeks.  They’re here, but I’m a low priority replacement (others have broken systems or are new employees working on “loaner” PCs).

Work has been generally busy.  In the last 2 weeks I’ve had an overwhelming number of problems, issues, and small requests.  It’s like everybody decided to hold them until the last week of July and then dump them all on me at once.  I think I’m through most of them, but the workload did increase for no apparent reason temporarily.

In this way one can temporarily keep erection problems away and can enjoy the true pleasure being in relationship. order tadalafil online an online solution of ED and male impotent Solution, offers Generic Pills that helps for Erection . cialis medicine applied in the treatment of male impotence (in other words – erectile dysfunction). The kamagra pills actually inhibit the phosphodieterase enzyme found in devensec.com cheap viagra for sale the penis. Some people call chiropractors “quacks.” Usually because they heard it from someone but have never experienced chiropractic themselves. cheapest cheap viagra In this treatment the experts loosen up the joints http://www.devensec.com/sustain/eidis-updates/IndustrialSymbiosisUpdateJun_July2010.pdf tablets viagra online of the cervical vertebrae in the neck. Weekend
This weekend is a bit active.  My parents are coming over on Saturday evening and we are headed out to see a Trenton Thunder baseball game.  The Thunder are the AA affiliates of the NY Yankees and have been playing in Trenton since 1994.  Our seats are behind the 1st base side dugout and I think they’re the 2nd row behind the dugout (or maybe the first row).

Then on Sunday I head up to Camp Johnsonburg for check-in for the last week of regular camp.  I’m going to be in charge of medical form paperwork this week due to my friend Jill’s vacation – she is usually the person doing the job.  It’s looking to be a bit warm.  I think there are lots of kids from my church going this week, but I’m so far away from the actual check-in tables that I probably won’t see them.  This isn’t my last visit for a long time – I’m also planning to attend the Youth Worker Training on September 7, and I’ll be chaperone when my church’s Sr. Highs attend the camp Sr. High Retreat in November.

We’ve finally got the Welcome and Outreach Task Force started.  We have 8 members with 2 outstanding invitations.  For the month of August, we’re doing optional reading assignments on our topic.  I’m reading The Present Future:  Six Tough Questions for the Church by Reggie McNeal.  In September we’ll get everybody together face to face and really get started.

The Youth Director came all the way to Bristol for lunch earlier this week.  We talked about my career search and the upcoming Confirmation Class.  He had lots of good input on the career discussion.  For the Confirmation Class, he’s asking how he can get me involved without overbooking my time.  At this point it looks like I will end up being the Cat-Herder for the group of mentors assigned to the confirmands.  That’s an easy assignment – a bit of work up front but after that just keeping people on schedule and watching for problems.  I’m also probably going to teach a few lessons – probably polity and beyond that we’ll see.  I really want to be involved in this process because the youth that I know who are the right age are really great!

All other areas of my life are fine at the moment.

Have a good weekend!

Quick Question: Prophet vs. Malcontent

August 9, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Religion 

Work is busy.  I don’t have enough time to cover this fully, but here’s a question that’s been in my mind.

My pastor has been preaching on the prophets.  His last sermon was titled “People Who Say No”.  He talked about the difference between a prophet who says what the people in power want to hear (“a for-profit prophet”) and the prophet who is truly speaking for God.  As we know, back in Old Testament times the prophets were often “assigned” to the earthly King.

Today, we hear a lot of people who claim to speak God’s will.  Some of the messages resonate with me, and others chafe.  Each of us has different reactions to these modern-day prophets.

On the other side, there are malcontents (or false prophets).  There are people who claim to know God’s will but in reality probably don’t.  They make their statements with the same self-assurance as the prophet.

The one similarity between the prophet and the malcontent is that they are railing against what is, desiring or demanding what should be (and isn’t).

sildenafil viagra de pfizer Also the drug benefits people through the safety that it provides. Very similar to pfizer viagra sales , this drug has huge and unnecessary risk when brought from offshore websites. This is purely because they both lower inhibitions, viagra 100mg pfizer borne out by the fact that so many STD’s and unwanted pregnancies are the result of drink or drug fuelled nights. This is why effective sexual health remedies for men have cialis online prescription you can try here this issue in the age group of 70 to 75 years. How do you know the difference?

Obviously we’re going to assume that the person saying the same things as us are prophets while those saying the opposites are just malcontents (or worse – misguided or destructive).  Maybe there is a part of us that wants to change and which accepts the opposite of our beliefs as truth – making the speaker a prophet.

So how can you tell?

Prophet or malcontent.  How do you know?

The comments are open.

Another Roundup

August 3, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life, Religion, Work 

I’d like to apologize to my readers for the lack of deeply thoughtful articles of late.  Life and work are a bit busy at the moment and I only have time for these roundups.

I’m on the old laptop, reloaded from scratch.  I’ve been told today that I’m getting a new one in the next few weeks.  Given that this one was nearly top of the line when we bought it in 2000 or 2001 – it’s time.  Company culture issues aren’t touching me as much as they had been a while back.  One of the “problem children” has resigned and another in a different state has been told that her job is moving to my location by spring and her department reorganized.  Given that and a few other things I can’t mention here it’s unlikely that she’ll be here by then.  It’s unfortunate when people lose their jobs, but in some cases it’s necessary – anybody who consistently and willfully provides negative productivity (not only are they not productive, they make others less productive) needs to go.

I had a good meeting with with the Youth and Young Adult council this week.  We’re getting ready for the new year.  We talked a lot about the philosophy of how we lead/schedule the group and some possible changes.  The one thing that was a common thread was consistency – that each weekly meeting follow the same pattern and that we choose simple and meaningful as opposed to trying to do a major production each week.  This follows the trend in Youth Ministry nationally to move away from the “let’s bring in new converts” blockbuster events of the 80’s and 90’s and for most the over-30 crowd in the council represents a step back to what they experienced as a youth.  We’re also talking about changing the names of the groups.  Right now they are CHAOS (Christians Hanging Around On Sunday) for the Senior Highs and WILDLIFE (which is an acronym nobody can remember off the top of their heads) for the Junior Highs.  The youth director wants to de-emphasize the chaotic aspects of the names and I agree.  We’re going to see what the youth want early this fall.

The youth director also asked me if I wanted to help lead the Confirmation Class.  This year is the first year doing the class for 9th grade youth (it had been 8th grade, and last year there was no class due to the switch).  I’m honored to be asked, a little uncertain about my ability and the strength of my faith being sufficient, and probably nearly overbooked already.  The Welcome and Outreach Task Force is about to get started, I’ll still be working with the Senior Highs weekly and attending the YAYA council once a month, and the confirmation class is every other week for 8 months plus 3 weekend retreats (one just overnight).  I’ve asked the youth director to lay out time expectations, and perhaps I can be a guest speaker on topics that I know well (polity would be one, and I’m sure that there are a few others).
canadian pharmacy viagra purchased here It will bring those young days back, when you loved outing. Most men feel bought this cialis cheap uk pain after surgery for which pain relief medications are prescribed by the surgeon. The result also corroborates outcome of earlier study which concluded that periodontitis was common in men who were suffering why not find out more levitra generika from prostate cancer. While the recommended dosage of this medicine is 10-20mg, men with kidney or liver disorders should not take viagra pills Cenforce XXX Women should not take Cenforce XXX to treat any sort of wellbeing issue, medicinal treatment is required.
The Lawrenceville church and a Princeton church (I think it’s Nassau Presbyterian) are putting together a new young adult event called Theology On Tap.  It’s the 2nd Thursday of each month (starting September) in the Yankee Doodle Tap Room of the Nassau Inn in Princeton at 8pm.  The idea is for 20’s/30’s somethings to get together and share a drink (alcohol optional), fellowship, and talk about theology.  You can find more information HERE, or in the Theolodoodle group on Facebook.  I barely qualify by age, but it’s intriguing enough to me that I’ll probably attend at least the first session.

The youth director also told me a freaky coincidence story.  He was at Triennium 2 weeks ago, sitting with a woman minister friend of his.  She was working on a sermon.  On the table she had laid out a Bible, some books, a few printed e-mails, and one printed blog post.  My director asked, “Can I look at that?” and picked up the blog post.  You’ve probably guessed by now – it was one of mine (either from here or a comment elsewhere).  He started laughing and when she asked why he explained:  “This is one of my adult advisors.”  Since Triennium was attended by youth from all over the world, he claims that I’m now internationally famous!  Somehow I doubt that, but I’m glad that folks are finding worth in my ramblings.

All is well, but we’re so busy with other people’s events (family, camp, church) that we’re neglecting work around the house.  The outdoor trim needs to be painted, the garden needs weeding badly, and the driveway needs to be sealed.  We need to decide whether or not to pay someone to do some of these things (we can afford to) or to stop our commitments and just get it done.

We also need to be sure that we get some downtime.