Friday, October 28, 2011


After last night’s unbelievable World Series Game 6 I am taking a break from my reflections on Eugene Peterson’s book to comment on an interesting insight I heard after the game.

During the post game show they interviewed Lance Berkman, right fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. The reporter asked him the typical inane question, “Before you hit that single to tie the game in 10th, what were you thinking, what was going through your head?” Berkman responded (my paraphrase), “Nothing and that was the key. Sometimes it’s better not to think. If I think too much I might be more tight. My goal was to make the best of this at-bat.”

This was one of the more unique answers I have ever heard to this question. In addition to thinking about the excitement of the game I keep pondering his point. At the risk of over-thinking the situation he chose to “be” in the moment, rely on his set of skills and to have peace in what he already knew.

I am all for thinking. I love to learn, I have a graduate degree and as a pastor I want to be faithful in offering our youth/adults the skills to critically think through their faith. This being said, Berkman is right. There is a time to quit thinking and act on what we know, being confident and bold in whom God has created to be. Being in the moment, trusting in God and moving forward in faith is where we are called to be.

During the game, as Lance Berkman came to the plate, I remember thinking how glad I was to not be him. Nobody wants to make the last out of the World Series. He re-framed the whole situation.

I have a lot of “at-bats” left in my life. I will try to take them one at a time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Rule #1: Everyone has a “to-do” list.

Rule #2: For those of you who think you do not have nor need a “to-do” list . . . please see rule #1.

Whether it’s on paper or in our head (a dangerous place to be!) we all have a running task list. No matter what our role in life on any given day there are things that could to be done.

In the introduction of his book, THE PASTOR: A Memoir, Eugene Peterson briefly addresses the topic of getting things done. He talks about how many pastors have become “disappointed or disillusioned” with their work and “defect” after a few years. Peterson proposes there may be an assumption at the heart of this defection. The assumption is: “all leaders are people who ‘get things done,’ and ‘make things happen.’” He goes on to say, “But while being a pastor certainly has some of these components, the pervasive element in our two-thousand-year pastoral tradition is not someone who ‘gets things done’ but rather the person placed in the community to pay attention and call attention to “what is going on right now” between men and women, with one another and with God.” (p.5)

My “to do” list will never be done. Your list will never be done. This is true of all professions and roles in life. I know too many in ministry who never take days off because there is too much to do. They will very likely sprint for awhile but fall far short of finishing well.

We are placed to “pay attention and call attention to what is going on right now.” What is going on right now in our relationship with God, our relationships with spouses, children, our friends, with those for whom we are called to care and shepherd?

In ministry, whether paid or volunteer, our priority is relationships. The “to-do” list can wait.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Step By Step

Thanks to the generous gift of Seattle Pacific University I am now reading, along with many others in the SPU community, the latest book by Eugene Peterson entitled, THE PASTOR: A MEMOIR. I have read through about one-third and already know I will be sad when it is done!

“Pastor Pete” sets out to show us, the reader, how he came to be a child of God and a pastor of people. I am realizing, quickly, this book is not just for pastors. It is for anyone who seeks to follow Christ into a world full of opportunities and challenges to be transformed and be His servant in the life-change of others.

Over the next several blogs I will be reflecting on his writings as they relate to my life. Peterson quotes one line of a poem by Denise Leverov where she uses the phrase, “every step an arrival.” He says, “I recognized in her phrase a metaphor for my own formation as a pastor: every step along the way – becoming the pastor I didn’t know I was becoming, and the person I now am, an essential component that was silently and slowly being integrated into a coherent life and vocation – an arrival.”

I have had many steps and many arrivals. I pray my reflections will cause you to look at your own steps and arrivals to where you are today and see the possibilities for where God will take you.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Yesterday I received an encouraging word from one of the public school teachers in our church. Recently she was meeting with other teachers and talked to one at another Jr. High in town. This teacher asked her where she went to church. She said, “I go to Free Methodist church.” The other teacher responded enthusiastically by saying how much she was impressed with the character and witness of so many students she had encountered over the years.

Hearing this was a humble reminder of how easily and effectively God works when we let Him. For many years our leaders have been faithful in challenging our Jr. High/High School students to view school as their "mission field." We want it to be a place where they do excellently in their school work, pray for their classmates and teachers, and live a life of integrity, compassion and care for others. It seems they are living up to the challenge!!

Several years ago one of our high school teachers became a Christian through the witness and example of a few guys who were simply and faithfully living Godly lives not only at Youth group but throughout the week.

1 Timothy 4:12 says, "Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity."

FRONTLINE Youth are not the church of the future. They are the church now. I am honored to walk with them!