Marching Orders

Recovery from any violation takes time but we often don’t want to take the time it takes. I know for me, I’ve wanted to rush it, deny it, bypass it. But it takes time. I remember when I first recalled the abuse and tell of a recent experience of encountering Jesus

Hello, My Name is Phillip: Chapter Four

In Chapter 4 of “Hello, My Name is Phillip,” Phillip recalls what happened when he turned 5. A fight in the car, a surprise birthday party, an accident, and an encounter with Jonah converge to bring a bit of hope. He learns something magnificent certainly: he is hearing from God.

Hello, My Name is Phillip — Chapter Two

Phillip James Smythe tells how he first met Big Skye, his best friend. Phillip also meets Miss Liz, a wonderful person, wearing slippers covered in dog hair. She sees Phillip and believes in him more than anyone yet has.

Ash Wednesday

I don’t know if this took anyone else by surprise — or perhaps some do not even note the liturgical calendar — but suddenly it is /was Ash Wednesday, that day which marks the start of the season of Lent. That season of letting go, of saying “no,” of “fasting,” of saying “yes,” of “adding”…

The importance of Last Things

It was Maundy Thursday 1983. That is the service before Easter Sunday that celebrates the last night Jesus spent with his disciples. I was sitting in the choir at St. Mark United Methodist Church in Santa Barbara, California. Jimmy Gibson was preaching. Jimmy was an Irish-born evangelist then in his 70s. He’d retired to Santa…

Relationships Bring Hope

The team of 11 missionaries — all from Westside Journey UMC — returned from the Dominican Republic July 29th, 2019.  We experienced great cross-cultural training and a great week of missions work and life impact.   The best moment for me in cross-cultural training was when our group was divided into four different “cultures” for which…

Christmas Eve — almost Christmas

I love Christmas Eve. Although that’s not always been the case. Here’s a line from a journal, years back now, thankfully. “I hate Christmas Eve. It’s too hard. Too rushed. Too many people with too many expectations. Too much stuff to juggle. God, I hate it!” That from a pastor… Thankfully after that confession, I…

Stop the Madness

Those weeks —  there are too many things to do, too many directions to go, emails flow in, text messages arrive, phone calls pull at us, needs hit like Dorian hit the East Coast — you know those weeks and those days.  So do I.    Distraction in those times is like a masked intruder…

Just Plain Lost…

“Just plain lost.” That’s what this guest in worship had written on his prayer request card.  Life was tough with surgeries, with financial issues, with housing, then he wrote those three telling words which caught my heart.  I had never read a clearer lament.  Lost.  That pervasive sense of hopelessness and despair.  I reached out…

Declassified

On Tuesday, February 26th, the UMC made a decision to go with what was titled the “Traditional Plan” in regards to the ongoing conversation regarding the church’s approach to those among us who are LGBTQ+.  The challenge has been for us, as an international denomination, to approach this question of ministry and ordination in a…