Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, held "Watch Night" services to end each year and usher in the new. For this service he wrote a special service which includes what we now refer to as "The Wesley Covenant Prayer". What better way to end 2010 and begin a new year, and a new decade, than with this prayer?

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Christmas Poem to the Troops

Bob Beskar is a Vietnam War veteran who is an active member of the Ft. Snelling Chapel community and a poet. This was shared with me by CH (COL) Ken Beale, the USAR Command Chaplain and fellow United Methodist pator.

To our troops throughout the world...
I’m writing this poem for you...
For I’ve also spent a Christmas...
Serving my “Uncle” too!

It was some time ago...
But it seems like yesterday...
That’s how it will be for you...
As you watch time slip away!

Enough of me already...
Let’s talk some more of you...
And how at Christmas time...
You feel the way you do!

You’re in a far off land...
And home is far away...
But your duty is your utmost
To the good old USA!

You miss all those back home...
It’s a natural thing to do...
Especially during Christmas...
Because they’re also missing you!

So on this special day...
When you have a moment free...
Think of the child Jesus...
Who was born for you and me!

Remember also this...
The love that’s sent to you...
By the millions of grateful people...
Who are supporting what you do!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Several friends have shared the following with me. I like it, so I thought I would pass it on to you.

Faith lives in the same apartment building as Doubt. When Faith was out of town visiting her uncle in the hospital, Doubt fed the cat and watered the asparagus fern. Faith is comfortable with Doubt because she grew up with him. Their mothers are cousins. Faith is not dogmatic about her beliefs like some of her relatives. Her friends fear that Faith is a bit stupid. They whisper that she is naïve and she depends on Doubt to protect her from the meanness of life. In fact, it is the other way around. It is Faith who protects Doubt from Cynicism.

Friday, August 13, 2010

"The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament declares his handiwork" Psalm 19.1

Have you seen and heard all that is going on in the night skies these days? It is truly amazing:

1. Venus, Saturn, Mars, and the waning crescent moon are all aligned. The last few nights as I take my evening stroll around the campus I can see these planets in the western sky. I don't know, right off hand, when this will happen again, but it is a rare and awesome sight.

2. After the planets are no longer visible the real show starts: the Perseid meteor shower. Find a place to lay on your back between 10 p.m. and midnight and you can see 50-60 meteors an hour. These meteors are the debris of the Swift-Tuttle comet which comes out of Perseus (hence the name Perseid). We won't see this again in our lifetime.

From the earliest days humanity has gazed up into the sky and seen the creativity of a loving and eternal God. Now, don't get me wrong; we don't think God is in the creation, that would be animism. And we don't worship creation; that would be idolatry. What we see is evidence of a creating God. It is one of the indirect ways that God speaks to us.

As Jesus said when he was physically present on earth, "let those with eyes see, and those with ears hear". God is still talking, let's chat!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Summer Solstice!

I’m writing this on June 21st, the summer solstice, that astronomical phenomenon that signals the start of summer and the longest day of the year. Summer is a time when many of us are traveling, going on vacation, seeing family and friends, and that’s a good thing! I can’t wait to get to the beach and spend time with my extended family. Of course, traveling means that we’re not here with each other, so here are a few ways to stay connected to God and one another this summer.

1. Go Undercover. While you’re traveling this summer spy on another congregation. What are they doing right that we could put into practice here at McEachern? Make notes, take pictures and video with your cell phone, and bring a bulletin back. Remember, it’s not plagiarism, it’s research!

2. Take a Good Book with you. Actually, take the Good Book with you. If you take a laptop or an IPhone you can take an electronic copy with you. Bookmark or print this link for a Bible reading plan that will get you not only through the summer, but the year as well.

3. Stay in touch with your friends. Your friends at McEachern, that is. Sign up on our website to receive the newsletter and midweek letter electronically. Bookmark our website ( so you can check on what’s happening back home and listen to the sermons that are preached while you are away.

4. Be here when you’re here. I’ll be honest; sometimes I need a vacation from my vacation! But when you’re in town resist the urge to roll back over and get a few extra winks. You’ll be glad you came to worship!

I hope you have safe and happy travels. May our vacations reconnect us to friends and family and the God who created the universe. Stay in touch!

Annual Conference 2010

Last week 20 pastors and laity from McEachern attended the North Georgia Annual Conference in Athens, GA. Each year 2,500 delegates from 960 churches gather to do the work of the conference. We debate resolutions, hear reports from our extended ministries, commission and ordain men and women for the ministry, remember the clergy and their spouses who have died since our last session, and conduct the work of North Georgia Methodists, including passing the budget and receiving our appointments for the coming year. There are several items of interest that I would like to pass on to you from this year’s gathering.

Over the last two years our denomination has been seeking to raise $25 million to fund a pension program for clergy outside the United States. Many of our retired pastors in the Central Conferences live in abject poverty. It was announced that we have already crossed the $20 million threshold; praise God! This year our conference collected $121,600 for the Central Conference Pension Initiative.

Our mission project at annual conference this year was to assemble food kits for Stop Hunger Now, an international hunger relief organization that coordinates the distribution of food and other life-saving aid around the world. An anonymous donor contributed $50,000 so we could partner with this organization. During conference we assembled 200,230 meals! I hope we will make this project part of our fall missions conference and our spring Great Day of Service.

Several exciting things happened on Friday, the final day of the conference. First, McEachern was one of seven congregations recognized as a Church of Excellence in Outreach. Thank you for your tireless efforts locally and globally that brought this recognition. Secondly, Chris Higgins was presented to the conference as the incoming President of the North Georgia Conference Youth. Chris served as vice-president last year and was elected by his peers the weekend before conference. Finally, all of our appointed pastors were appointed to serve another year at McEachern. Cindy Blocksidge and Donna Goff were appointed to their tenth year; Hur and Lucy Morales and I were appointed to our fourth year, and Charlie Marus was appointed for his second year. We are all grateful to be returning to such an exciting congregation.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Many of you are aware of the upgrade in our security system a year or two ago. I know there was a period of adjustment, but we all changed our regular way of operating and things got into a period of "new normalcy". We discovered how useful our system is last night when a guitar was stolen from a hallway while its owner was on our walking track.

Immediately upon notification our facilities director, John Spain, returned to the campus and ran through the recordings from our security cameras. We were able to spot the young men enter the building and leave by a different door ten minutes later with the guitar. We were also able to identify the car they left in. One of our recreation workers was able to identify one of the suspects. After being questioned by our staff the young man contacted the person who had the guitar and it was returned to the church campus to be delivered to its rightful owner.

There are several lessons I learned from this incident:

1. We have superb employees who are willing to go out of their way to serve our members and guests, including leaving home late at night to return to the campus.

2. We also have employees who are willing to put themselves on the line, including their physical safety, to find justice.

3. We cannot assume that people will act correctly in our buildings just because it is a church. As a matter of fact, many criminals target churches because we seem to them to be a soft target.

4. The system works. Our security system secures areas that need to be secured at certain times, and we are able to identify and record people who do not have the best interest of the kingdom of God at heart.

I'm glad this story has a satisfactory ending. But be warned: just because we are in a church does not mean that we are safe from the evil of this world. Please be diligent about keeping a eye out for suspicious activity and report it to a staff member immediately.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Strange Day

This morning I got up and shrugged on one of the uniforms I wore in Iraq. I pulled on the boots I wore first in the Egyptian desert days after 9-11 and then wore regularly at Ft Hood and in Iraq -they're my favorites. I went downstairs to pour a cup of coffee into a travel cup. I pulled one out, and then for some reason, put it back. While I was replacing it my eye fell on another travel cup: one I thought was lost forever. It was the travel cup I had carried for 18 months and misplaced in Tallil, Al-Diwaniah, Al-Asad and numerous other places. But it had my name on it so it was always returned to me. Only to be lost, I thought, in the US.

After a day of keeping the world safe for democracy I met up with a friend for dinner. She suggested Chow Baby, to which I agreed, never having been there before. It's one of those restaurants where you select rice or pasta, veggies, and meat, and they fry it up for you on a big griddle. "Whoa", I thought, "It's Mongolian BBQ night!" That was my favorite night at the chow hall in Balad where I would pile my plate high with spaghetti, shrimp, crushed red pepper, and garlic/butter sauce which would be fried on a big griddle. I loved Mongolian BBQ night.

Then I came home and realized, suddenly, that it was January 20th.

Three years ago I was walking from the chow hall when I received the radio call, "Mustang 2-0, Mustang 2-0, Fallen Angel, I repeat, Fallen Angel". Mustang 2-0 was my call sign. Fallen Angel meant we had a missing helicopter. It was the first word I would hear that we had lost 12 Soldiers on what would become the deadliest day we, as a country, would experience in Iraq. That radio call would begin a whirlwind of grief counseling, planning for a memorial service, and the realization that we would not all be going home.

Here's to the crew and passengers of EASY 40. You were our friends, our comrades, true heroes and patriots. You represent to me all who paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom from the founding of our country.

And here's to the spouses, children, grandchildren, and friends you left behind. As long as we live you will never be forgotten.

God Speed.