Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Rest

In addition to holiday rest over the kitchen stove, we've had time to watch some fun films ... Get Smart, The Italian Job, Mr. Holland's Opus, and Prince Caspian and I read a book I recently received: The Last Lecture. Fun movies and a wonderful book ... We're watching the last film on DVD tonight for New Year's Eve. Happy New Year and may all the gospel blessings that are ours in Christ be yours in 2009!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Project Christmas

This past Tuesday, in a Bible study Christmas party at his home, Curvin said, "Don't protect Christmas. Project Christmas." It is great advice for us whenever we become defensive of our celebration, the commercialization and the secularization of the season. The "culture wars" haven't been helpful to anyone, and our focus must be on the Christ we worship, not on any misguided attempts to dominate the direction of culture. At the same time, I take subversive pleasure in the knowledge that the symbol of Christmas commercialized - Santa Claus - is based on Saint Nicholas, a bishop who leveraged the wealth of the church to serve the poor. And I smile at "X-mas", knowing that the "X" is actually the Greek letter "chi" and the initial or monogram for "Christ". We don't have to worry about anyone taking Christ out of Christmas, we just need to focus on Christ ... and projecting Christmas will be the most natural thing in the world.

Christmas Eve in Candlelight

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Fray - You Found Me

Great song/music vid, exploring questions, doubt, dilemma of being found by God ... and the sensation that God has come too late to be of any help ... Check out my channel at

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rest in the Hustle

Today some welcome rest ... spent the afternoon cooking up a big pot of chili, baking drop biscuits and banana bread. After dinner, a short nap and then the final soccer game of the "winter 1" session. (Next session starts up in January). Hoping that you all have a chance to rest, to enjoy a few unhurried moments.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa Visits

Thanks to Santa for dropping by our church party on December 13, and to Josie and the kitchen crew for the fantastic banquet!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Shoe Fly

A couple biblical passages that offer cultural insight on the recent international incident . . . .

The Advent Scripture, John 1:26-27
Deuteronomy 25:5-10
Ruth 4

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Windows on Advent

One of the major themes of the second week is the promise of the Spirit: The Coming One will baptize with the Holy Spirit, not simply with the water of repentance. I took a photo tour of the church windows and found this symbol/icon among many ... the ancient Christians spoke of icons as "windows" to let in the light of eternity. John Wesley, the founding figure of Methodism, said that "every man wants a window in the breast to let in the light of eternity". And the word itself is a Greek term for "image" or "likeness", as in, being made in the "image" or "likeness of Christ".

The Bazaar

Thanks to all who helped out, to the Craft Guild for months of loving labor ... it was a lot of fun!

Happy Birthday Grandma!

90 years!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas invitations

Postcards are going out in the mail, and invitation cards are available for us all to invite our friends and neighbors to worship ... Sundays and Christmas Eve ... and to invite our friends and neighbors to download a free Christmas Guide "Low on Money, High on Meaning" from our website!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advent - favorite quote

This is the irrational season,
when love blooms bright and wild;
if Mary had been filled with reason
there'd have been no room for the child.
- Madeleine L'Engle

Bring your favorite quotes, Scriptures, images from the season and put them up on the advent bulletin board at the church entry!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Carving by

One of the favorites on my YouTube site. Check it out at

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lordy, Lordy

Thanks to all who came to our Open House / my 40th birthday party. You made it great fun!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Members

Joining Sunday November 16 in the 11:15 service: Bob, introduced by Gary, and Elaine, introduced by Tina.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Loads of fun, humble service, hospitality with laughter . . . . Thanks to all who helped out!

Monday, November 10, 2008


One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city.

Proverbs 16:32


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Robin and I were in line at 6:15 this morning. We were about the 40th persons to vote, and we enjoyed meeting the folks around us in the line. By the time we left, about 7:20, around 100 persons were in line. I remember being in Jerusalem in January 1996 and watching the very first Palestinian elections - high voter turnout, great enthusiasm for the process, reverence for the high privilege of voting. What I have appreciated most about this long campaign process is the large number of persons who have told me that they are excited about politics for the first time in their lives, and want to participate in our democracy. Every time I vote, I remember January 1996 and thank God for the privilege and responsibility of being a citizen of this great American democracy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


1 Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Every four years, we are blessed with the opportunity to vote for the leader of our nation. Since September 11, with war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with an unprecedented (in my memory) financial crisis, we’ve been reminded that our votes matter. We live in rapidly changing and unstable times that make incredible demands on leadership – whether national or local, business or church. Yet, politics has become so polarized that many of us are jaded and cynical, and many have opted out of voting all together. Whatever happened to the "polite" in "politics"?

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.

The primitive church existed in a culture that was hostile and violent toward Christian faith. Nevertheless, the Apostle Paul encouraged everyone to "be subject to the governing authorities" and reminded them that God is Sovereign, that God’s kingdom is not at risk to pagan kings. He encouraged people of Christian faith to pray for their kings and authorities. Unlike some of the nations where I have lived and traveled, we do not live in a one-party state in which opposition leaders are routinely exiled and imprisoned. We live in a democracy and have the privilege of choosing and changing our leaders. If God is Sovereign over the Roman Empire, then God is surely Sovereign over our nation and world.

I am not encouraging us to withdraw from the political process or our personal investment in the outcome. I am encouraging everyone to vote. And, I want us all to trust that God is Sovereign and that God’s kingdom does not depend on election outcomes. When the election is over, we’ll have to practice prayer for whomever is elected president. He’ll have a big job in front of him, and he’ll need our prayers to lead these United States and work with leaders throughout the world.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Struggling Saint

Saint Augustine, one of the greatest theologians in the history of the Western church, wrote his spiritual journey as a prayer, a story told to God, in his Confessions. He reveals an early struggle as a new disciple of Jesus: He asked his bishop (Saint Ambrose of Milan) to guide his Scripture reading. The results were not inspiring, but it makes me laugh because all of us who have opened the Good Book have encountered the same struggle:

"He recommended the prophet Isaiah: I believe it was because he is a more manifest prophet of the gospel and of the calling of the Gentiles than are the other writers. But in fact I did not understand the first lesson in this book, and thinking the whole work to be similar, I put it aside to be taken up again when I was better accustomed to the Lord's mode of speech" (9.5.13).

I personally wouldn't recommend Isaiah as a starting point, but I do encourage everyone to "read on". The more we read, the more the Scriptures and the gospel come into focus. And I'm happy to refer you to an introduction to the different kinds of reading you'll find in the Bible. There's something for everyone!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Camping pics

View from the nearest overlook (Penn's View), a short drive away along dirt roads, and from the campsite (along the creek). Beautiful! Thanks to Bob for the pics.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Camping Dangerously

Reminds me of the Highwaymen's song, "Like desperados waiting for a train. . . ." It's a wet weekend, but the guys are having fun. Next year we'll get things scheduled earlier so more can attend. Thanks to Christian for coordinating and Bob for handling the camp kitchen!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Diversity in York, 2

A follow up to the Family Issues Roundtable event: A scan of a handout, mapping York County's Hispanic/Latino population. It is exciting to be located where the blessings of many cultures can be shared.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October Fools

Reading in Proverbs, a collection of common sense wisdom, and was caught by a couple descriptions of "fools". Far too easy, and comfortable, to point the finger at others for their foolishness. So, I'll grudgingly admit that these phrases have described me from time to time. Try them on for size:

"Fools die for lack of sense" (Proverbs 10:21).

"Doing wrong is like sport to a fool" (Proverbs 10:23).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In Debt

From an AARP article, cited by Leadership Network: The average American household is now buried under mortgage debt of $84,911, car and tuition loans of $14,414, home equity loans of $10,062 and credit card debt of $8,565—in sum, outstanding debt totaling $117,952. According to other Federal Reserve statistics, average household savings this year are a mere $392.

John Wesley's three guidelines for financial planning:
1. Gain all you can (by hard work, not overcharging!)
2. Save all you can (be thrifty and frugal)
3. Give all you can
He took his own advice. By the time of his death, his income and property (he owned the Methodist society meeting places at the time) made him a very wealthy man. But he lived on the same budget he used when he was a young man and gave everything else away.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Baptism - Don't Miss the Boat!

Sunday, October 12, the 11:15 worship service.

Yard Sale

Thanks to everyone who helped out with the Yard Sale and breakfast. We had a lot of fun and got to know some of our neighbors.

Debt Disaster (2)

On Friday I attended a presentation on the state of the economy offered by our financial advisor. (We met with her a few years ago to plan for college savings ... then Robin went back to school!) The presenter said something that helped me understand the impact of debt on the failures of major investment banks. Not a quote, but the gist: If you buy a house with 20% down (1/5 of the value), you are "leveraged" 5:1. If the market value of the home drops by 10%, all that loss comes out of your equity, and you lose 50% of your equity. (That's the multiplying effect of debt or leverage.)

Investment banks packaged mortgages with the basic idea that this would limit risk. And, almost 95% of mortgages are being paid on time. So, why the big trouble? It can't be all because of late payments and foreclosures. To make the kind of money they were making, the investment banks were highly leveraged. Bear Sterns was at 33:1. Even a minor drop in housing values can have a catastrophic effect.

Just one more reminder on the dangers of excessive debt. . . .

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pounding the Pastor

Our goal this year was four times my weight, 676 pounds.
Our total given went through the roof: 764 pounds!

Thanks for your generosity!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Diversity in York

From the York Counts site, an update on diversity trends in our York County school districts, the best measure of trends between the decennial censii. (However, it is important to know that the diversity rate is higher the younger the cohort.)

Building Relationships with Latino/Hispanic Families in York County

The Family Issues Roundtable, an inter-agency community networking and educational group of which I am VP, had a wonderful event on Friday. Norman Bristol Colon, the Executive Director of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, was one of the presenters. He told a story about what happened when he and his girlfriend were walking in a local Wal-Mart and speaking Spanish. A woman came up to them and declared, "Why don't you just go back to the country you came from?" His reply: "Sure, I can do that, but why don't you go back to the country your ancestors came from? If your family was welcomed 250 years ago, then my family can be here today." Unfortunately, churches have not always made the stranger welcome. But Paul writes, "Accept/welcome one another just as Christ accepted/welcomed you" (Romans 15:7). So we have a more urgent reason to welcome the "other", not just our national tradition but also the example of Christ and the command of his Word.

On integration and language acquisition (learning English), the presenters made the point that education and English language speaking are critical for success as Latinos in the USA. But they also reminded us that the process is moving forward following patterns and time frames similar to those of other earlier immigrations (Germans, Poles, etc.) in our nation's past.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Movements of Grace

A teaching chart for the movements of grace, using the "hourglass figure" ... a summary presentation of the Scripture themes for the past three Sundays. Next week a new series from the book of Exodus! (Image copyright (c) JP Bohanan)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Members

Joining this Sunday, September 28, in the 9:00 am worship service: Robin, introduced by Beth; Jesse & Joyce, introduced by Dee; Diana, introduced by Sylvia; and Christian, introduced by Crist. Each new member chose their introducer/partner not simply to introduce them but also to journey with them in the coming year, getting together regularly, sharing in ministry, learning the stories of the church.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Baptism pics from Sunday September 21 (9:00 and 11:15 services) and Sunday August 24 (11:15).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Debt Disaster

I'm not weighing in on the Paulson-Bernanke bailout proposal, or the counter-proposals, or the politicking. I want to share two things: First, the biblical allusion that comes to mind as I read about the bailout. (But note that there is no perfect correlation ... there was no equity market in the ancient world, never mind collateralized debt!) Second, thoughts on debt in today's captalism. The first is on the macro, social level. The second is on the micro, personal level.

The biblical allusion: Joseph managing the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine for Egypt and the surrounding region ... No comment beyond that, but feel free to look it up in Genesis 41 and Genesis 47:13-26. Check out the intervening text for a remarkable story of reconciliation. But rememember: I AM NOT SUGGESTING A PARTICULAR IMPLICATION. It is just the only biblical story with any connection on the macro, social level, at least the only one that comes to my mind. Feel free to suggest others in the "comments".

Thoughts on debt in today's captalistic society: We have become convinced that debt is a SAFE way to get NOW what we cannot afford. The value of thrift, patience, and saving has been forgotten. But debt can be construed as "safe" only when the item retains value (even, at least to a degree that protects some equity, in economic downturns), when the payments do not dominate the household budget (having margin for the unexpected), and when you actually have equity. Admittedly, options are limited for many of us and debt cannot be avoided in all cases. Nevertheless, we need to begin to practice thrift, patience, and saving -- along with holy generosity -- as necessary aspects of financial as well as spiritual health. Debt is far from safe, and our economic ideal of a good citizen as a good "consumer" leads us to the insistent conclusion that good citizens get NOW what they cannot afford. Paul, on the other hand, wrote, "Owe no one anything, except to love one another" (Romans 13:8).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Slam Dunk

The Block Party was loads of fun, a wonderful way to make our neighbors welcome, and effectively organized (thanks to Bob and the team). Around 78 kids were there with their parents for free games and food, not counting folks who came for the crafts and food. This year, we debuted a dunk tank!

Hurricane Relief

Our bishop makes an appeal for hurricane relief and recovery.

Play Ball!

Last Sunday night, Sept 14, we had a pick-up softball game and covered dish picnic at Dale Holtzapple's place. Thanks to Dale and Crist for the hospitality, to Shirley, Jerry, and others for the arrangements, to Palmer for bringing his guitar .... Great fun connecting "in real time".

Friday, September 12, 2008

Unconventional Thinking

The political conventions are over and we're coming into the homestretch (at last) of the presidential campaigns. And, yesterday, a day off for political attacks as we honored the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. It is certainly time to focus on the fact that we are all patriotic Americans, whatever the party and policy distinctions. I love following politics, complete with the "games" that are played in campaigns, but I love our country more.

So, I find the unconventional words of Jesus to be troubling, disturbing, and difficult: "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?" and "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you" (Luke 6:27-35). It is Jesus' challenge to patriots, one unresolved but one that should call us to prayer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Final total

License plates counted on our Gatlinburg vacation . . .
36 states, including Maine, Oregon, New Hampshire
3 Canadian provinces
District of Columbia
US Govt
The car story has plenty of updates, but too much to list here. Hopefully, we'll be in our own cars soon enough!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Unexpected Adventure

We drove home on Saturday (Aug 23) from Gatlinburg, a 10 hour trip. Halfway through, a strange sound from the engine. But we were far from anything familiar, unsure of where we could stop and whether help would be available on the weekend. So, we kept going, Robin doing the driving while I continued preparing for Sunday. Halfway up the Mt Rose Avenue hill, the belt broke - water pump, alternator, power steering - and we managed to pull into the driveway just in time. We are so thankful that this didn't happen any earlier in our drive - a miracle!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

In a state

In Gatlinburg TN on family vacation and watching out for state tags on other cars. So far, 29 states, 1 Canadian province, and US Govt tags. But I won't be breaking them down into red and blue states! Some states of mind . . .

State of Ignorance - Caleb, assuming he'd wipe the floor with me at pool and ping-pong.

State of Exhilaration - Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, Misti May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh at the Beijing Olympics.

State of Exhaustion - Me running in the mountains.

State of Amazement - our family taking an unmarked trail up a creek in the Greenbriar area of the Great Smoky Mountains and visit a remote cemetery and find the family name (three different spellings) on a number of the stones

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Catching up on some of the early adventures . . . back in June, Caleb and I were able to join a group headed to Marie Lindauer's place in the Raystown Lake area. Absolutely gorgeous landscape, wonderful food, and great fellowship.