21 December 2005

Two things today

First, I had to cancel the New Year's retreat due to lack of interest. I am sad, but will get over it. Perhaps we can reschedule for a date next year. We shall see.

Second, my post for today is to direct you here.

Grace & Peace

14 December 2005

Found this, thought it was interesting

As I was perusing the internet, I came across the site for all the "The Way I See It" quotes from the side of Starbucks cups. The first one on the page caught my attention and I thought I would share it with all of you.

Imagine we are all the same. Imagine we agree about politics, religion and morality. Imagine we like the same types of music, art, food and coffee. Imagine we all look alike. Sound boring? Differences need not divide us. Embrace diversity. Dignity is everyone's human right.

-- BillBrummel, Documentary filmmaker. His programs focus on human rights issues.

Grace & Peace

12 December 2005

iPod anyone?

Do any of you own an MP3 player? How often do you download new songs/videos/podcasts to it?

Follow-up Question:
If I podcasted a weekly devotional, would you download it to your MP3 player and listen to it?

Grace & Peace

06 December 2005

I'd like to add an amen to this

I received this article from a weekly email subscription I have and I wanted to link to it or post it here so that you could get to the site and check that out too, but it only comes in email form, so I copy, paste, and give proper credit so that you can be blessed by reading it too. It is a little long, but worth the read.

Christian Love: Giving Up the Fantasy
by Peter J. Walker

My sister just caught her boyfriend soliciting a local prostitute online.

Now she gave me permission to write this, but this situation does raise the question: How far has common morality slipped? Is the Internet Age to blame? Has easy access to e-smut pushed us further and further toward the brink of depravity? Was the world always this bad, or is Original Sin merely as American as hot apple pie?

Do common ethics appear to be on the decline just as personal spirituality is exploding into everyday life? The 21st century looks to offer more potential for Christian evangelism than, perhaps, any period in the last 200 years. Today, even vocal anti-Christians acknowledge belief in God and respect Jesus, but such spiritual openness hasn’t translated to the kind of kingdom Jesus came to establish.

This is the central challenge posed to postmodern Christianity: How does one introduce a higher ethic, an absolute Truth, in the midst of exalted relativism?

We approach this question when we talk about “relevance” or “emergent Christianity,” but too often the relevant issues at hand are lost in theological rhetoric and pop-philosophy that has little to do with practical living. My views of hell and creation may be changing (and they certainly are thanks to postmodern literature), but if my love doesn’t grow, then my Christianity is just as stale and marginalized as it’s always been.

Conclusion: theology, per se, isn’t the whole solution.

So if intellectuals can’t save “selfish me” or my spurned sister or her philandering ex, where do we go from here? How does Christianity redeem a world where Christian virtues are trivial to the point of social incompatibility?

The Apostle Paul boiled it down to this: “And whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Romans 13:9, TNIV). Jesus lived and breathed this kind of self- negating, rights-surrendering, community-altering agape. It got Him killed.

If we are to embrace a brand of Christianity that truly alters our lives and the world in which we inhabit, it will require more from us than throwing out our secular music and wearing kitschy T-shirts bearing memorable Jesus-ized slogans.

First, it’s important to rediscover the unsexy unselfishness inherent in biblical ideas of love. We have to remind the world (and ourselves) that love involves sacrifice. Somewhere along the way, the “otherness” that love demands gets lost. In a generation where self-gratification reaches new levels through erotic mass media and a dangerously casual dating culture, the idea of abstaining from indulgence sounds almost puritanical. Yet such an attitude is completely contrary to a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love that is defined, not by feelings or emotions or sensuality, but by matters of will, of choice and of sacrifice.

It doesn’t sound very erotic, but it may be the only prescription for healthy, transcendent relationships.

Next, the believer must expose and defy the all-too-American attitude that blindly tells us, “More is better—even relationally.” This lie convinced my frat brothers back in college that quantity is better than quality—that sleeping with four women in a week is perfectly acceptable, that there is plenty of time to settle down and be domestic later on. Years later, this lie convinced a man that his wife may have been adequate when his salary was $40K a year, but now that he’s reached junior vice president, it’s time to think about image.

“More” has been defined as a certain shape of body and a certain social inclination, a plastic replica of happy living. After all, how could something so pedestrian as love survive the rigors of corporate appearance?

Finally, love must be removed—with a scalpel, if necessary—from the romantic entanglements lauded by pop culture’s generic TV-archetypes. Ironically, this aspect of false love may be the most difficult to rid ourselves of. Because it is seemingly benign (almost adorably innocent), it escapes the critical lens of truth. Who could deny the life-changing love that grew and blossomed between Justin and Britney? Brad and Angelina? Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper? Who would want to?

The truth nobody likes to admit (but everyone knows deep down) is that love can be quite unimpressive, even boring; my parents have watched British comedies every Saturday night for 15 years! Before that, they square-danced. God save us from such fates …

Or perhaps: God redeem us through such simplicity.

I live next door to a woman with schizophrenia. Her husband left her last month, tired of dealing with the illness. For the last four nights, she has danced to blaring country music in her driveway, silhouetted by the empty glow of her parked pickup’s headlights. She’s out there as I write this paragraph, lost in some blurred reality that few will take the time to care about. I wonder what facets of love are lacking in her life. I wonder which parts of “ever after” fell by the wayside as her husband walked away for the last time.

Love is a lot of work—gut-wrenching at times—which means that Christianity is inevitably hard, no matter what the televangelists say.

In cautious reflection, I guess there must be a rush in making email contact with a real-life prostitute—the adrenaline of “what if” must excite the baser instincts in a man. Perhaps my sister’s ex isn’t so vile. I suppose I can almost see how something so empty and meaningless could provide a tempting escape from the responsibilities of a real, deep, give-and-take relationship …

But prostituted love isn’t real. Neither is empty, self-help Christianity, which promises far more than any religion could deliver: the simple life, the good life, the American pie. Maybe real love—real religion—is the one that Jesus was talking about before He gave His life for people, some of whom will never even realize why.

Peter Walker is a Spiritual Formation student at George Fox Seminary, and works with youth and drama ministries at his local church. He is desperate for change.

Check out Relevant Magazine for more article like this and for your connection to making Christ real for people who are not interested in Christianity.

Grace & Peace

01 December 2005

Does anyone else hear the Hallelujah Chorus playing in my head?

Today was a milestone day across the board...

1) I turned in all my paperwork for commissioning this afternoon
2) Debbie went back to work this morning at 7:30am
3) Caitlyn went to her first day at TLC Daycare this morning

So in addition to not getting any sleep last night finishing up paperwork, I have been wondering how our little girl has been doing at daycare all day, and worried about Debbie being at work and not with Caitlyn...so tonight will be a celebration that we are all back together again and can sleep at the same time - whoop! Who knows, I may even finish Two Towers before too long!

Don't forget to sign up for the New Year's Retreat!

Grace & Peace

29 November 2005

Sanctuary Retreat

I have mentioned this retreat before, but it is approaching quickly and I wanted to get more publicity about it out for your consideration.

On Friday, December 30, we will leave TMUMC for a contemplative retreat in which we will focus on Jesus' journey to Golgotha. The Via Crucis will give you an opportunity to reflect, in a very personal way, on how much Christ gave for us in an effort to redeem humanity. This visceral experience will challenge you, compel you, and bring you to a point of transformation by Sunday morning, January 1.

If you are interested in this retreat, please send me an email or post a comment here with your contact info so that I can get a list going. If you would like to see more people go on the retreat, please link this post to your blog and start spreading the word about it. I am hoping that it will cost you guys no more than $40 to attend. If cost is an issue, please contact me and we can work something out.

Check out Sanctuary at WonderVoyage.com for more info about the Via Crucis and the retreat itself.

Grace & Peace

22 November 2005

Decision 1032

I don't have much time to blog about this now, but check out this decision by the Judicial Council and think about these questions:

1) What are the issues you see in this situation?
2) Where does ultimate authority lie?
3) Where do you see God at work?
4) Are some of the issues present here ones you deal with in your faith community? If so, what are its key expressions?
5) How will this judicial decision affect the future of Christian faith traditions and community?

I borrowed these questions from the MethodX site, so visit there to see what others are saying. I will try to find some other blogs about Decision 1032 and link to them later this week.

Grace & Peace


Yesterday I received this email from the Dallas-Denton District office:

Dr. Virgil Howard, Associate Professor, Perkins School of Theology, passed away unexpectedly on Friday, November 18th, while attending the annual meetings of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature in Pennsylvania.

His wife Barbara is currently in Germany, visiting family. She will return to Dallas on Tuesday. We will share the information about the service when it becomes available.

Dean William B. Lawrence said, "I invite all of us to offer prayers of thanksgiving for his life, his service, his ministry and his noble spirit."

I never took a class with Dr. Howard, but I knew his reputation as a caring, insightful, and thoughtful professor. He helped me find my internship at Holy Covenant last year when the plans I tried to make fell through late in the year. If he hadn't been able to step in and recommend HC - I may have missed out on one of the greatest learning experiences in my ministerial career.

Dr. Howard was a great person to work with and I know that he will truly be missed throughout the entire Perkins community.

God, sometimes the events of life escape our grasp. Sometimes we can't make sense of what happens to those we love. I pray, dear Lord, that you hold us in your loving arms and keep us close to you, until our time is done and our journey through.

Grace & Peace

16 November 2005

Psalm of the Day

I found this during my reading for The Grand Sweep. Enjoy!

Psalm 16:1-5, 9-11 (The Message)
Keep me safe, O God,
I've run for dear life to you.
I say to God, "Be my Lord!"
Without you, nothing makes sense.

And these God-chosen lives all around-
what spendid friends they make!

Don't just go shopping for a god.
Gods are not for sale.
I swear I'll never treat god-names
like brand-names.

I'm happy from the inside out,
and from the outside in, I'm firmly formed.
You cancelled my ticket to hell-
that's not my destination!

Now you've got my feet on the life path,
all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
I'm on the right way.

Grace & Peace

14 November 2005

Life...or something like it

My how time gets away from me when I spend my days caring for my duties at Trietsch and my nights caring for our bundle of joy! Sorry I haven't updated in a while, but as I am sure most of you know, life gets crazy sometimes (and if you don't, just wait). Things around the Libby household have been going well. It is hard to believe that Caitlyn celebrated her 1 month birthday yesterday. She is literally changing daily and her father is growing more and more in love with her by the moment.

Parenthood rocks!

In other news, my paperwork for P&Q is due December 1 and I am trying to make sense of all this theological mumbo-jumbo floating around in my head so that I can put it on paper and speak clearly about it to the members of the Board of Ordained Ministry. Please pray for me as I spend many hours in the next 16 days putting my thoughts on paper. Please also pray for those who will proofread my work - that they will have constructive comments and helpful suggestions for making it better.

Grace & Peace

08 November 2005

Fusion Reflections, part 2

3) I am called to help the laity find their passions
Part of what my calling entails making "a commitment to lead the whole Church in loving service to humankind" (Book of Discipline, para. 304.1e). That "loving service" includes making sure that the people I minister directly to are able to minister to others in ways that they are passionate about. If I don't make the effort to align people's passions with their ministry opportunities, I am doing a disservice to my congregation. This area of my calling is one I always need to cover in prayer, because I am not always aware of where my people's passions lie.

4) Prayer stations are easier and more impacting than I had originally thought
experiential prayer is possible and needed in my life. After going through the Dokime at Fusion+Dallas, I see how simple acts of reflection can make for great prayer time. Also, spending an hour in a room with pillows on the floor, candles around the room, and prayer requests written in Sharpie on the walls is an hour well-spent. I hope to incorporate some of the tools I used at Fusion to make a difference in the ministry I do at Trietsch.

and finally...
5) Dan Kimball is a down-to-earth, funny, and challenging preacher/speaker. I appreciated his thoughts on emerging culture and the emerging church. I pray that when our emerging worship gathering launches, we can be faithful to the task of engaging the emerging generations in our gatherings, not just offering another place for Christians to hang out.

Grace & Peace

07 November 2005

Fusion Reflections, part 1

After attending Fusion+Dallas this weekend I learned a few things:

1) All conferences are not created equal
Fusion+Dallas was a chance for 20 and 30-somethings to find out about mission opportunities that are available to them around the world. This is not the usual theme for conferences geared toward young adults. I am glad that the RightNow organization is passionate about igniting a fire in the hearts of this generation, but...

2) Not all mission work is overseas
I was highly unimpressed with the lack of opportunities within the US to evangelize, reach the unchurched, or share the gospel. Most of the mission opportunities were in "Christian-hostile" environments outside of the US. Now, don't get me wrong, I am all for Christians sharing their faith with those who's aim it is to kill them, but there are plenty of people in America who are hostile, indifferent, or confused about Christianity. Why do some sectors in Christianity continue to ignore the fact that the US is no longer a "Christian nation" - if it ever was? Why do the youth of American Christian churchs have to go to Mexico or Africa or China in order to spread the gospel? Why can't they see that there is a large population of people who need the love of Christ right in their neighborhood?

More tomorrow...

Grace & Peace

03 November 2005

Meeting with the guys

This morning was the first time that "the guys" have had a chance to get together to share our lives with each other - however, Landon was not able to come because of work commitments. So next week will be the first time all "the guys" will be together.

Despite Mr. Taylor's absence, we pushed ahead and began to share our lives. I am extremely thankful to God for this opportunity to be held accountable for my actions, to inspire deeper commitment to Christ in others, and to learn from other young men in the ministry.

Thursday mornings will be a time of joy and expectation each week for me from now on!

Grace & Peace

02 November 2005

Power FM Share-a-thon

Today is the first day of Power FM's Fall Share-a-thon and I wanted to send out a request to all those who listen to the station to go ahead and make a pledge to keep the station rockin' for Christ! You can pledge online or call 1.866.787.1897 to phone in your pledge.

Please know that this station has blessed me and all those who listen on a regular basis. They are doing amazing things for God here in the Metroplex (and around the country) through offering Christian Rock Music to a world that needs to hear the gospel.

Please pray about what you can give. If you don't listen to the station on a regular basis, please consider giving a one-time gift knowing that it helps further the ministry that I do on a daily basis. Share-a-thon ends on Friday, so please pray and let God inspire you to give generously!

Grace & Peace

01 November 2005

All Saints Day

In honor of today being All Saints Day, I wanted to share with you an article written about my great-grandfather just a few days after his passing last month.

Longtime gravedigger goes to his final rest
By Mark LaFlamme, Staff Writer
Saturday, October 15,2005

GREENE - For years, the running joke around town was whether or not Clyde Libby would dig his own grave. In three decades of service to the town, he had dug them for strangers and for some of his most beloved family members.

Libby died Tuesday night after a long career that involved work with a racehorse, the Fire Department and his legendary role as sexton for Valley Cemetery. He was 94."There weren't much that man didn't do," said Bert Ferland, a longtime friend and fellow firefighter. "He did a little of everything."

Libby took over as Greene's gravedigger in 1972 when the man who held that job suffered a heart attack. By then, Libby had already been the town road commissioner, a farmer and caretaker for a racehorse, among other things.

During his decades as sexton, he dug graves for many deceased friends and family members. When his newborn daughter died before ever leaving the hospital, he went to the cemetery at dusk to dig the small hole for her. When his wife of 53 years passed on in 1989, he asked his grandsons to help him dig the grave.

In an interview in 2001, Libby said he took pride in keeping the town cemeteries beautiful and neat, as much for the families of the dead as for the people who are buried there."I never heard one person squawk about my graves," he said in 2001. "And I tell you, it makes me feel pretty good."

Libby coached a Little League baseball team. He was a volunteer firefighter and a long-suffering Red Sox fan, who saw the team win championships in both 1918 and 2004. He worked in the woods and put up 10 cords of wood each year until last winter.

Friends said he was as good to his neighbors as he was to his family."He was a very, very nice man," Ferland said. "If you needed a helping hand, he was there for you."

In 1936, Libby married Laura Foster in Greene. The couple remained married until Laura died in 1989. Libby is survived by two sons and six daughters. A son and daughter died before him.

When Libby started working as sexton, graves were dug with a shovel. He had no backhoe or hired help. There was one period in springtime years ago when Libby had 36 bodies waiting to be buried.

Things improved in latter years, but it was still mostly Clyde Libby keeping the graveyards trimmed and digging holes for the recent dead."He loved it, he really did," Ferland said. "He didn't like to be cooped up. He liked to be out in the fresh air."

The work was seasonal. Libby opened the gates to Greene's seven cemeteries on May 10 and closed them Dec. 1. The digging, mowing, raking and weeding was done during those seven months, and long hours were required of him."My entire body hurts these days," Libby said during the 2001 interview. He was 90 at the time.

Libby held his job for so long, a funeral director once asked him if he planned to dig his own grave. Libby responded that he would if he was given enough notice.

Instead, he will be memorialized with a fireman's funeral in Monmouth. He will then be laid to rest at Valley Cemetery, where someone else will tend to the grave and make sure the grounds are neat and serene.

Prayer for All Saints Day:
We bless your holy name, O God, for all your servants who, having finished their course, now rest from their labors. Give us the grace to follow the example of their steadfastness and faithfulness, to your honor and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Grace & Peace

31 October 2005

Am I emerging? - revisited

Amidst changing diapers, making bottles, and losing sleep, I have been wondering about just how I fit in with the whole emerging church movement/philosophy/worldview. I wonder if I am too much of a modern to interact successfully with postmoderns. I wonder if I could handle leading a worship gathering for people who have little or no church background. I wonder if I know enough about the emerging church to do it justice.

My prayer is for an understanding that moving my focus in this direction is correct and for a rising within my current sphere of influence to help me lead in this direction.

Grace & Peace

REVISION - After posting this I visited a new site I follow and someone who attended a discussion session with Brian McLaren posted on this very subject. Check it out!

Grace & Peace - again!

New Year's Retreat

I am very excited about this coming New Year's weekend (12/30-1/1) because the YAs of TMUMC will have the chance to spend 2 1/2 days connecting with God in ways never before possible. I don't want to give away too much info, but the weekend will be filled with lectio divina, times of silence, and creative projects. I am grateful to Wonder Voyage for inspiring me to take on this adventure. Please be praying about your participation (if you are a YA between 18 and 29) in the weekend retreat, as well as for those who will be leading the retreat.

More information will be available soon.

Grace & Peace

24 October 2005

back to the grind

well, today is my first day back at work following caitlyn's arrival and i must say that i sure do miss my girls at home. there is lots to do here, but my heart is back at the house with debbie and caitlyn.

in other news, the house that tmumc built during our 40 days campaign was moved this morning. it was quite a sight to see - lumbering over the curb, blocking traffic in both directions, and wondering how the house was going to stay on that trailer! i know stephanie santa maria and her family will enjoy their new home in denton.

ok, i promise i won't post pictures of caitlyn all the time, but here is one i really love - hope you do to!


16 October 2005

welcome to the internet caitlyn!

the stats
name: caitlyn anne libby
born: 10/13/2005
time: 1:58pm
weight: 7 lbs. 15 1/2 oz.
length: 19 3/4 in.

thanks for being patient with me as debbie and i get adjusted to having a newborn in the house. i hope to upload more pictures as time allows, but here are some from caitlyn's first few days on planet earth. she is truly one of God's most precious creations!

grace&peace (from caitlyn's daddy)

12 October 2005

the wait is over!

tomorrow morning at 8am, debbie and i will be venturing into uncharted waters (at least for us) as we prepare to welcome caitlyn anne libby into the world sometime later that day. we are scheduled for an induction and we couldn't be more jazzed! i will be out of pocket for the next couple of days, so leave a message if you need to and I will get back to you when i have a free moment or two.

thank you for all your prayers and well wishes - without them we would not have arrived at this day in such fine fashion. i will post pictures as soon as possible!


06 October 2005


have you ever wondered what it would feel like to wait for both christmas and your birthday to come at the same time? i think that is what i am feeling right now as deb and i wait for caitlyn to be born. underlying all the responsibility and nurturing that is ultimately necessary for her survival, we are giddy with anticipation at being able to hold her and see her face.

her room is ready, the bags are packed, the short-term disability claim has been filed, the car seat is installed, and the grandparents are chomping at the bit, but as of right now - no caitlyn!

people say that sleeping after the baby gets here is a luxury, well after last night, sleeping while awaiting your baby's arrival is a luxury in and of itself. after tossing and turning for about 30 minutes last night, i decided that i better not disturb my sleeping bride with my incessant movement, so i went to the living room to read a book and quiet my mind before returning to bed. i read about 10 pages in lotr:2towers (the rest of the chapter i didn't finish before trying to sleep) and was thoroughly exhausted - or at least enough to return to bed and sleep for the rest of the night. (no one writes like tolkien any more - what mastery of the english language!).

waiting expectantly (with a little bit of nervousness and "hurry up" thrown in for good measure)!


scratching God's back?

i had a conversation with one of my fellow staff members over lunch the other day and he said something that stuck me as out of sorts. i initiated to conversation by asking about a friend of his who has recently moved into our community. during his explanation of his friend's new situation, he mentioned that the favor that he did for his friend (letting him stay with he and his wife) did not go un-reciprocated. i was intrigued by his comment so i pressed him a little further. i asked if he always asked for reciprocation when doing a favor. he said "yes, that's what i do." intrigued again i probed a little deeper...."has anyone ever said 'no' to your request for reciprocity?" he said that no one has ever told him that they were unwilling to return the favor to him, altho some has asked for suggestions as to how. he further stated that this form of tit-for-tat was the way he always approached doing favors or granting requests. he gave a couple of recent examples to explain himself further. the conversation ended there, but i was not done thinking about his comments.

now my friend is a fully committed christian, loves jesus and loves worship, but i have a hard time reconciling his stance with that of what God has done for me....what if God required reciprocity when dispensing grace? what if He demanded that we fulfill certain obligations before He covered us with the blood of the lamb? what would our God look like if we needed to scratch his back in order for him to scratch ours? i don't care for a God that requires appeasement prior to blessing, that just reeks of conditionalism (not sure if that is a real word or "-ism"). i believe that God covers us with grace long before we even realize that we need to be covered by grace. God doesn't bless us only when we agree to bless God in return. God doesn't withhold answers to prayers b/c we did not adequately return the favor! that's crazy, that's definitely not the God who calls me his child.

ok, i've got that off my chest.


30 September 2005

some thoughts from don miller

i was reading through painted deserts this morning and this paragraph just spoke to me. i offer it to you for your consideration and comments.

"and maybe when a person doesn't buy the lies anymore, when a human stops long enough to realize the stuff people say to get us to part with our money often isn't true, we can finally see the sunrise, smell the wetness in a gulf breeze, stand in awe at a downpour no less magnificent than a twenty-thousand-foot waterfall, ten square miles wide, wonder at the physics of a duck paddling itself across the surface of a pond, enjoy the reflection of the sun on the face of the moon, and know, this is what i was made to do. this is who i was made to be, that life is being given to me as a gift, that light is a metaphor, and God is doing these things to dazzle us." (77)


24 September 2005

the recovery begins

well, i talked to my mom earlier this evening and she said that dad was on his way back to the plant to begin clean-up efforts. he was spared much of the storm by being in brenham, but the plant took lots of rain and high winds - however it was much less than what it looked like it could have been a few days ago.

please continue to pray for those who were caught off-guard by the movement of the hurricane toward the tx-la border. they need our prayers now, as the real chore of cleaning up in the wake of a hurricane begins...again!

thank you for your prayers for my parents - they are a blessing that i am sure that only a few could understand.


22 September 2005

evacuation update

well my mom successfully made it to terrell to stay with my jessica and michael (and the dogs), but dad only left for brenham this morning, so he may still be on the road with all the traffic. phone connections have not been great today, but there are many ppl who are trying to contact loved ones, so i will keep trying.

please continue to pray for those who are evacuating b/c i have heard reports of cars running out of gas on 45 and ppl being stranded b/c there is nowhere to fill up. i will update more as i know more...for now i continue to pray.

lake jackson's website has a "worst-case-scenario" presentation that shows that if the storm surges reach a height of 18 feet (very possible with a strong cat4 or any cat5 hurricane) then the entire town will be under water! that, my friends, is scary...very scary.

until i know more.


21 September 2005

hurricane relief efforts

as i write this, my parents are evacuating from the texas coast - leaving their home and seeking higher ground farther inland. i talked with my mom and she said that she had to pack up the corvette and the grand am with as much as would fit (not much in two small trunks) and head out of lake jackson. my dad is required to stay nearby since he is on the hurricane response team for the dow chemicals plant in lj. my mom sounded upset that they could not leave for safety together, but she realizes that his duty as a "higher-up" at dow call him to be there in emergency situations.

please pray for the families affected by all of the 2005 hurricanes. i was slow to respond when katrina hit b/c it did not affect many of my immediate friends and family. now that rita is headed toward my parents' house i am worried that they too will have nothing to go back to when all is said and done.

my heart is heavy with thoughts of families being torn apart by natural disasters. how can something so life-giving and life-sustaining as water, be also so destructive and deadly? i know that you work for the good of all those who love you and i know that my parents will be out of harm's way when the storm hits, but please be with those who choose to stay. be with those who try to "ride it out." be with the rescue workers, the emergency personnel, and those charged with maintaining order in the storm ravaged areas. god of grace, spread your love and make yourself known in new ways and in new areas because of these displays of the power of nature. make us ever-aware of the finality of our lives on earth and help us to long for being united with you forever.


16 September 2005

how much furniture can one baby use?

in the past few weeks i have put together two cribs, a 5-drawer dresser, a computer armoire, and many other baby items - swings, strollers, car seats, etc. i have also taken apart a computer desk and one crib. and i happily do all of this for someone i've never even met. and what's even better is that all this furniture is for a little girl who will be less that two feet long when i first meet her!

caitlyn anne libby will be my first daughter and she will be our oldest child. she will be the one that all our other children look up to for guidance, direction, and leadership. and yet i wonder, do i have the leadership skills to pass on to her? can i inspire her to be the role model that she will need to be for her younger siblings? i don't know why i am so insecure about being a good father and parent. maybe it's b/c i have never done this before...maybe it's b/c that little girl is going to depend on me and her mother for everything for the first years of her life...maybe it's b/c i know how messed up i can be at times and how much i don't want her to be messed up. hopefully she'll take after deb and be a self-sufficient, independent, go-getter. (i can only hope that she is like her mother and her grandfather in those respects.)

on other topics, i have had a great couple of days on the emerging worship front. i met cammy gaston, director of the wesley foundation at unt, twu, and nctc, and brought up the ideas that i have about offering an emerging worship gathering for college students and young adults. she was open to the idea and even offered us the chance to use her chapel (which doesn't get much use) for a gathering space. later that day, i pitched the idea to my young adults and they jumped at the opportunity! i was floored by the response and i was overjoyed at the fact that they really want to take ownership of the gathering. they, just as much as i, want to see lost people given the opportunity to find a relationship with jesus the christ thru messages that relate, experiences that touch the soul, and relationships that change lives. God is good, all the time and all the time, God is good! i have also discerned a possible name for the emerging worship gathering, but i don't want to share that name just yet.

fdc got underway this week and i do believe that our first meeting was a big success - eventho it lasted an hour longer than usual! i am really looking forward to what God is going to do thru our small group. i have no doubt that he will use few of us to make a huge impact in the world for christ! thanks for being willing to love on each other and spread that love to the larger community! praise be to God!


07 September 2005

thoughts on fasting

yesterday the staff at tmumc took part in a one-day fast for the upcoming 40 days campaign. we even had a prayer service during the lunch hour to help us remember to pray for the campaign and for the ppl who will be touched by God thru our church.

during the prayer service, i sat next to darian and his stomach was empty b/c it was going nuts! i was hoping it wasn't mine b/c w/o the water that i was drinking by the gallon, my stomach would have been louder than his! anyway, we had a good laugh about it later.

i must say that everytime i fast, i have a different experience. one time i fasted during the time i was studying for finals b/c i wanted to do really well on all my tests - but i was so hungry at the end of finals that i think i undid any of the benefits my brain received through the extra study time. when i fasted yesterday, i tried to think about all the different places in the world where ppl go w/o food on a daily basis and how i was fine w/ my water bottle by my side. each drink took me to thoughts of those who cannot squelch their hunger with water, b/c there is no fresh drinking water around them.

my heart continues to go out to the victims of hurricane katrina. i am not sure what the proper response is for me personally, but i hope that you are praying about what you can do to reach out and help our neighbors during their time of need. remember, throwing $$ at the problem rarely ever makes the problem go away - it generally makes it worse. so be prepared to get out and do something about the devastation.

convict us when we are proud
of the things we have
and when we look
down on others for what
they don't

selfishness runs rampant
in america
convict us for using so
much and returning

help us to be more
like your son
like his example
like what you intended
like what you know we are capable of



31 August 2005

preparing for fdc, babies, and more

as our 40 days campaign approaches, i am feeling more and more overwhelmed by the fact that in the midst of this major undertaking, deb and i will be bringing a new life into the world! i don't think i will ever forget fdc!

caitlyn's furniture should arrive sometime this weekend (hopefully friday) and i can't wait to put it together. i have been told that this is one of the most satisfying things an expectant father can do when he is preparing to enter fatherhood. i hope that it is not one of the most frustrating things b/c me and construction don't always play well together. i was able to put together deb's glider, but that was only a few screws and some velcro...this is a crib and a 5-drawer dresser. hopefully the instructions come in english as well as chinese, french, spanish, and unintelligible.

among other things on my plate there is this emerging worship gathering that jim wants me to research. i think this would be a great place to start such a multi-sensory experience, but now is unfortunately not the time i would choose to do research on a new worship opportunity - mostly b/c it is very labor intensive. i am excited about the possibility of leading an emerging worship gathering here at trietsch, but the legwork required to do it well, might just kill me!

i am also looking to put together a retreat next summer that will be an opportunity for incoming college freshmen to have a chance to hear some words of wisdom from those who have recently "been there, done that." i would like it to take place at bridgeport (that's their cross in the pic) and i would like to see who would be interested in an experience of this sort. i have a basic format that i would like to use, but i will need some help "fleshing it out" - as they say. any takers?


25 August 2005

interesting conversation

yesterday at lunch we talked about tattoos, body piercings, and other random stuff, but the conversation on tattoos got me thinking and that led me to ask deb about her thoughts on the subject. well, after a fairly intense discussion about the "pros" and cons of getting one, having one, and what-we-would-do-if-our-child-came-home-with-one, we were exhausted and tired.

so i thought i would open the floor to discuss this highly-charged issue...what do you think about tattoos? should christians have tattoos? if you were a parent, what would you do if you child came home with one? is there such a thing as an "appropriate tattoo"?

i have an opinion on the matter, but i want to hear what the rest of you think before i expound on the issue (you might be surprised at my opinion). i will join the convo in the comment section when asked.


21 August 2005

eventful weekend(?)

as part of my journey towards ordination i met with the dallas-denton district committee on ordained ministry to be recommended to preparations & qualifications (fancy methodist-speak for taking the next step). i was recommended unanimously! so that means i get to write more papers, have another interview (this time with the conference board of ordained minstry), and sweat out another vote on my ministerial worthiness.

completed some chores around the house, made some calls that i needed to make, and took out my wife for an evening of shopping and dinner at steak & shake!

woke up at 7:30, found out that deb had been up since 2am and was full of energy to clean the house and get ready for caitlyn's arrival. we spent the day moving furniture from one room of the apartment to another, cleaning out the kitchen so that caitlyn will have a dedicated area just for her stuff, and hanging pictures/rearranging knick-knacks/light cleaning. i can't believe that deb made it all the way till 6:30pm before she crashed, but she did! now i believe we are ready (at least space-wise) for caitlyn to come, but we are still working on the emotional level of being parents.

this morning was "back in the saddle" day at trietsch (aka dean wears uncomfortable tight-fitting jeans, boots, and a cowboy hat because jim says to). by the end of the morning i was ready to get out of the jeans because they were just too uncomfortable, but i must say that i could get used to wearing the hat...it made me want to be friendlier to the people i met this morning.

i also finished reading donald miller's searching for god know's what this afternoon. i enjoyed this book more so than any other "theology" book that i have read in recent years. miller did a great job of presenting the gospel of jesus christ in a narrative format that makes it accessible for all readers - plus he tells funny stories that keep you laughing throughout the entire book. i wanted to share just a couple of quotes from the book that i thought were especially meaningful/thought-provoking.

"the gospel of jesus, i mean the essence of god's message to mankind, wasn't a bunch of hoops we needed to jump through to get saved, and it wasn't a series of ideas we had to agree with either; rather, it was an invitation, an invitation to know god." (14)

"i want to tell you without reservation that is there is any hope for you and me, for this planet set kilter in the fifteen-billion light-year expanse of endless mystery, the hope would have to be in this man who contends he is not of us, but with us, and simply is." (149)

"the greater trouble with [gospel tracts] is that modern evangelical culture is so accustomed to this summation that it is difficult for us to see the gospel as anything other than a list of true statements with which a person must agree...perhaps our reduction of these ideas [i.e. the gospel] has caused us to miss something." (153)


17 August 2005

wednesday devos

as requested i have begun posting devotionals. the first one is available now. i will post a new one each wednesday morning.

words from the word

also, i changed the settings on this blog and wftw so that you can post comments anonymously (thanks again ian!)


13 August 2005

leadership summit reflections

this past thursday thru saturday i participated in a simulcast conference known as the leadership summit. over 110 locations in the us brought together over 54k leaders from all kinds of churches in order to hear God's challenge to us.

i went into it wondering what it would be like to watch a big screen for 2 1/2 days, pretending i was a part of the action at the main location. i soon discovered that i was fully engaged in the conference and quickly forgot about the fact that i was watching a giant projection screen. the summit was great! i am truly energized for carrying out the leadership which i have been called to do - and i believe that God is receiving glory for my success and confronts me in my failures as a leader.

i look forward to next year's summit, but i have to make the necessary changes in my life now, so that at next year's summit i will be able to leap to even higher ground and meet greater challenges.

bill hybels asked us to find our "holy discontent," the thing that wrecks us about the church/christian life. he told us that the things that wreck us, wreck God and that we should go out and make a difference in the things that wreck us. i discovered that the thing that wrecks me is the missing 20 to 30-somethings in the modern american church. i discovered that i want more than anything to see my generation find its place in the church body and find a way to worship the living God with meaning and purpose. i am even more committed to seeing that an emerging worship service begins at trietsch during my tenure here. without offering a worship experience that resonates with the generation that is missing from our churches, i will not be able to stand before my creator and say that i did all that i could.

thanks to ken ulmer i was reminded that my passion will remain only pipe dream if i do not turn it over to God, so that he can begin to work on it and make it come alive in the hearts of those who need to hear his message. he said that it all depends on who's hand it was in - if it's in my hand, it can only do so much; but if it's in jesus' hand, it can work miracles and change lives and impact the kingdom of God forever.

one of the rituals i plan to initiate is the weekly devotionals for those of you who want them. they will be available on my new blog page each wednesday morning. i hope that your journey with christ is blessed because of them and i hope that you will make comments on them each week.


07 August 2005

this post is "tax free"

yesterday debbie and i ventured out to stonebriar mall in frisco for an afternoon of shopping - debbie had b-day $$ burning a hole in her pocket! i knew that the main road to the mall would be clogged with traffic b/c not only was this saturday of "tax-free weekend," but a new ikea store had just opened at a major intersection near the mall.

when we got to the mall i was indeed thankful that most of our shopping was done in the maternity sections of the department stores or at specialty maternity stores (translation - less kids running around suffering from adhd-induced spats). as i took a rest from the shopping extravaganza, i sat in one of the "penalty boxes" watching the foot traffic pass by hurriedly. i thought to myself, i wonder why all these people come out to the mall when the stores are having an 8 1/4% sale, but every store in the nation could hang out a 10% sale sign, and no one would bat an eye? this puzzled me as i sat in the comfy leather chair drinking a very berry smoothie from thirsty's. i think i figured out what the attraction was...not paying tax on things you would purchase anyway, is kinda like stickin' it to uncle sam (aka - the man)! it's kinda like giving a big middle finger to those bureaucrats in austin, without actually having to raise your longest phalange into the air.

it also occurs to me that the state of texas is missing out on a deep well of dollars that could go to support children's health insurance or fund medicare for seniors or even settle the debate over school financing. so i wonder if tax-free weekend is such a good idea afterall...i mean it's not like we don't expect to chew up our savings by buying more things anyway!

ok, on to other matters. this morning i had the opportunity to lead the entire communion liturgy on my own during worship! it was an exciting time and i continue to feel humbled at the way God can use a broken vessel like me to spread his message and show his love. the words of the liturgy are so precious to me and i know that i am unworthy to be used by God, but i know that God has chosen me to carry out a purpose. thank you God, for choosing and using me!

in other news, i finished a 420-pg novel this afternoon. monster by frank peretti (author of this present darkness) was a terrific story about what can happen when humans try to take God's role as creator. highly recommended for those who like a good suspense/(mild) horror novel.

i hope reading this was not too "taxing"!


04 August 2005

new things

today, as i prepared the lesson for yabs, i decided to try a new approach to doing a small group bible study - reverse paraphrasing. as i looked over the text i wanted to reverse, i had to first think about what the text was saying to me, then negate everything. this was much harder than i thought it would be because i don't like to think about God not caring about me or not sheltering me from the storms of life. it made me think about all the things i tend to take for granted in my life and i wondered what kind of hell i would live in without God's protection and provision.

my thoughts then turned to caitlyn and her impending arrival on planet earth. will i be ready for her when she gets here? will she love me because i help feed her and clean her or will she love me because i first loved her? what will she look like or act like or be like? how am i going to pay for her wedding?! maybe i am getting ahead of myself, but she will be here before too long and she will require constant attention...dear God, help me to be the father to caitlyn that you have been to me. amen.

what prepares you for new things in life? are you looking forward at what is coming ahead of you or are you looking behind you at what you have accomplished in the past? if you are doing the latter, watch out - cuz you might run smack into a tree! God does new things in our lives all the time we just have to be on the lookout for them.

"see, i am doing a new thing! now it springs up; do you not perceive it? i am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland" (isa 43:19).


ps - found this today, thought it was kinda funny!

01 August 2005

happy birthday sweetie!

today is the 26th anniversary of the birth of my wife debbie. although i have only been a part of the last 7 celebrations, i feel that i have loved her enough for a lifetime (and then some!).

happy b-day deb!



have you ever noticed how much better things are a second (or even third) time around? i just finished re-reading a tale of two cities by charles dickens. i initially read it in the 10th grade for english class and i must say that it was even better the second time through! since sophomore year was over 10 years ago, it is no wonder i didn't remember much about what happened, but i must admit that dickens had me on the edge of my seat for the last 50-60 pages. pick it up if you are in the mood for a great narrative about love, friendship, sacrifice, and redemption - with a little turmoil of the french revolution thrown in!

you know what else is still good after multiple readings? scripture! at the request of a college student who will remain nameless (ahem...ian!), i will be starting a weekly devotional blog for your reading enjoyment. they will be posted on wednesday afternoons, beginning august 17th. if you can think of a clever alliterative title, please post it here - i will consider all entries and choose one (or maybe just make up my own).

just so you know, kelley is still in the hospital and the drs still do not have a definitive answer about what is causing her illness. i will keep you updated as i get word.


28 July 2005

prayer for kelley

today i visited kelley mcdonald in the hospital and i just wanted to encourage all of you to keep her in your prayer this week. she was admitted yesterday, but the drs still don't know what's wrong with her.

her mom is with her and is keeping updates flowing as things happen, but please just stop and say a prayer for her when you get a chance.

gracious God, your hands are powerful and they bring healing. please pour out your healing presence upon kelley and her family right now...let them know that your love is showering upon them and that they are being lifted up to you as they search for answers...and God i pray that you annoint the hands of the drs, nurses, and hospital staff that will be working to find out what is wrong with kelley...may they draw upon your strength to find the answer to what is making kelley sick...we pray this in jesus' name...amen!


27 July 2005

the news these days

have you noticed that the "top stories" on the news each day all involve someone dying, someone missing, or someone being tragically injured? i was getting ready for work this morning and had the channel 4 on, and when they were rattling off the top stories, each of them had somebody who wound up dead - whether that was thru a car-jacking, bombs in iraq, bombs in london, or highway accidents. it was utterly depressing!

it makes me sad to think that humanity has screwed up so badly that the only things that appeal to our senses anymore are images of death and destruction. i admit that i occasionally "rubber-neck" at a car wreck, but for the most part, i try not to stare b/c i know that i wouldn't want to be stared at if i were in their shoes. i know that sin is a constant problem that humans must deal with, but it irks me that we are subjected to the vilest displays of sin in the media each day - as if our own struggles with sin were not enough to deal with!

personally, i am glad that jesus shed his blood for me on the cross, so that i do not have to pay the penalty for my sins, but i wish there was a way for christians every where to translate that gospel to a hurt, broken, and dying world that would end the downward spiral of violence and hate. it seems that current methods of evangelism/church growth are not adequately meeting the needs of the emerging generation.

we need a new way to be christ to the ppl in our world who need to know christ!


26 July 2005

project transformation

if you have never volunteered at pt during the summer, i highly recommend doing so. the kids that participate in this program are so cool - they just can't believe that someone wants to come and spend time with them during the day - whether that is helping them read or just playing games with them on a hot summer day.

i went down to kirkwood umc in irving today and read with 4 boys under the age of 10 for a couple of hours. i want you to know that those boys had more energy in their little pinky than i do in my entire body! they were jazzed about reading (well three of them were) and they were asking questions about words they didn't know and would answer questions that i asked about difficult words in their books. one of my boys, jonathan, read a scratch-n-sniff book about popeye, but he said all the stickers smelled the same because all the scents had worn off. he said they all smelled like old paper! i couldn't help but laugh a little.

as i think about caitlyn getting to the age when she can read for herself, i wonder if she is going to be as in to reading as i am. i was talking with jessie and carleen yesterday about the fact that i am currently re-reading a tale of two cities for the fun of it. they both said they had to read it in high school (as did i), but that they had never thought about picking it up again after that. i guess i am just weird like that - i loved the classic novels that i read in hs and look forward to trying to read some of them again, now that i don't have to be tested on them or write papers about them!

enjoy a classic today! (or at least help make reading fun for a kid!)


25 July 2005

entering the final stretch

on friday, debbie and i went to the doctor to get another sonogram of caitlyn to see how she is doing. i'm happy to report that she is growing on schedule and is completely healthy! we were initially worried because we were referred to this dr because he is a specialist in the area of fetal abnormalities. when we had a sono of caitlyn at 20 weeks, our regular dr found a "bright spot" on her heart - indicating a possible problem. however, when we went to the specialist, he did not find the "spot" on 2 separate occasions!

as we enter the final 10 weeks of our first pregnancy, the nervousness and the anxiety level has increased tremendously at our house. we often fear that we will not be ready in time or that she will come early and have to stay in the hospital for a while (luckily not a baylor hospital!).

debbie is having her shower in a few weeks and i am sure that from that point on our home will never be clear of "baby stuff" - much like this bedding that will grace caitlyn's crib once she arrives. i know her aunts and friends from san antonio are looking forward to seeing a "pregnant debbie" at the shower, but i am a little worried about her traveling on an airplane at 32 weeks - i will be praying for her safe arrival and return the entire time she is gone.


21 July 2005


why must there be a million different baylor regional medical centers here in the metroplex? it's not like they aren't close to each other or anything! i spent two hours today driving around irving, dallas, coppell, farmers branch, lewisville, and flower mound trying to find one of the baylor regional medical centers.

i normally don't complain about having to make hospital visits because it is part of my job, but today was just not a good day for me to make this hospital visit. don't get me wrong, the man who i visited in the icu appreciated my visit, but getting there was no bueno.

before my 70-mile round-the-town trip to the hospital, i had a great lunch with one of my most dedicated ya volunteers - david taylor. i enjoyed the opportunity to get to know him a little bit better as well as find a new place to have a great lunch - the village grill. he has terrific insights into the history and the future of ya ministry, as well as a heart for the kids. thanks for lunch david, and thanks for your ministry to the yas of tmumc!


19 July 2005

What a rush!

after preaching to more than 1k ppl on sunday, i am not sure what the next milestone is. i feel like i did a good job, but i know that i could have done better. the biggest accomplishment that i completed on sunday was to preach three sermons with only an outline, while still delivering approximately the same sermon at all three services.

i went to lunch afterwards at cracker barrel and debbie and i were approached by members of the church we had never met, but heard the sermon that morning and wanted to say that it was especially appropriate for what they were going thru in their lives right now. it was at that moment that i realized that i am a pastor at tmumc, not just a staff person or a minister, but a pastor. it was really cool!

also, while i was shaking hands at the sanctuary door, another church member told me that he and his wife nicknamed their oldest daughter penny-el (if you heard the sermon you understand the reference) and therefore their peniel was in their daughter.

i look forward to more experiences with my new trietsch family in the future!