Communicating while we're traveling on

A few weeks ago, this video came across my news feed and it brought a lot of memories and provided insights. I would like to share my insights with you. 

Naomi Feil, founder of Validation Therapy, shares a breakthrough moment of communication with Gladys Wilson, a woman who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2000 and is virtually non-verbal. Learn more at


As Naomi Field touched Gladys Wilson's face, I was reminded it is often said in the profession of eldercare that: “We leave as we came in." When we come into this earth, we cannot do much for ourselves and when we leave, we also cannot do much for ourselves. For a moment, imagine that reality. In some future state, you will exist where you can not eat for yourself, clean yourself, go to the bathroom for yourself. You will be totally dependent on another. All that you will do today would have to be done by another or with the aid of another. How does that make you feel? For a moment, stop reading this blog post, look up from the screen and try to imagine that. As you do, note the feelings associated with the thoughts. For most of us is the feeling, "I don’t want that.” Yet if statistics are true, more and more people are going to be similar position.

On Ash Wednesday, we hear the remix of  Genesis 18:27 and Job 30:19 in “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” We again begin the season of Lent. A time of discernment seeking of God’s call in our  lives. Yet to understand God's call, we must be willing to acknowledge our own mortality. To know at some point our own baptisms will be completed. As I watched the video, I was aware of my own mortality. Awareness is funny thing. It is not knowledge or understanding. We do not know when we will go nor do we understand how we will go. Yet all of us are aware that we will go. It is our uncertainty that drives our fear and then our denial of that which we are already aware. So much of what we do in this life is dependent on us denying our own death. 

As I sit here with this knowledge, I find myself living a good life not so much trying to maintain the self delusion that I will live forever but preparing for a good death. A good death might feel like an oxymoron; however, my training and experience says otherwise. In her TED talk, Judy MacDonald Johnston explains the trials and joys of dying in peace and she gives some constructive action and resources to help insure that you have a good death. Granted, we are only aware and do not know or understand what is death. It is challenging. In life, we seek control to make things better. That control comes out of knowledge and understanding. If you want a good job, you gain the knowledge to have a good job. You want to have a good house: you understand what makes a good house and buy it or build it. Yet, our deaths are different. We can only rely on our awareness. As much as politicians and pundits want to champion choice in healthcare, when it really matters you will have no choice when death happens. We will have no choices, not because evil big government will come in and take it away, but while we might have preferences on what will happen next, the reality is that we can not communicate it. It is easy to say, "Talk about your wishes.”  Yet that is only in part of it.  You have to create trust in two ways with those advocates in your life.  First, you have to trust that the advocates will responsibly make decisions . Second communicate that you trust them to make those decisions so that in those times they will have confidence in themselves. Judy MacDonald Johnston developed a set of worksheets to help foster that trust.

Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line performing "Travelin' On" at Music City Roots live from the Loveless Cafe on 6.12.2013

In the Song Travelin’ On, Nora Jane Struthers sings:
Now I sit here rocking in my chair,
Grand babies crawling everywhere,
Soon I will be with the angel band,
With wings to fly I won’t need to stand,
I will be travelin on,
I am not afraid of travelin’ on
I am not afraid of,
Travelin’, travelin', 
Travelin’ on

In this season of Lent, discern in these moments to do the things and have the conversations that we need to have so that we won’t be afraid of travelin’ on.

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Experiencing the Risen Christ

The two followers in Luke 24:13-35 will respond to Jesus’s question by speaking to their hopes and their dreams: “Jesus of Nazareth who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people in our chief priests and leaders had handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified but we had hoped that he would be the one to redeem Israel.” Their teacher who had shown the people what it is like to love, who had opened up Scripture to them, who took the complexities of the divine law and made it simple: to love your God with all your heart with all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.  Then the two followers go on to tell an account of the Good News about “these women went to the tomb and did not find the body but, tell us that he is alive” When I talk to people about their faith, they shared stories of moments of crisis or moments of despair, they cannot make sense of the divine act. In this reality, we ought to walk with people through those moments of crisis and figure out ways by asking the right questions to help them express those hard stories.


Valentine Day Geeky Gastronomical Gift

We will consume 58 million pounds of chocolate candy this week thanks to Valentine’s Day. For your Geeky Gastronomical Valentine in your life, the ultimate gift is Chefjet 3D Printer. 

This  will only put you back $5,000 to $10,000, and it will be sold the later part of this year. However, there was an IndieGoGo campaign from Print Arsenal to make 3D printer for $3800.

Maybe next year at this time you will print personalized candy for your Valentine? Aww… romance! 

If you like chocolate check out my recipe Magical Mud Cocoa Mix 

Applying The Good News to our modern lives.

Thank you to London Chow for sharing Photo on  Flickr

Thank you to London Chow for sharing Photo on Flickr

“What is the most important issue facing the church of the 21st-century?” This question would begin my journey of creating this website. I want to tell you that story of where my theological reflection method began. It all dates back to 1998, when I was about to graduate from Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. A recruiter from McCormick Seminary offered us free food at the local sandwich shop to listen to her spiel. When she finished her presentation, she wanted to know what needed to be addressed at a seminary. She then asked each of us that question.

As I listened to all the answers that were going around the table: everything from how men no longer felt comfortable in the church to the need of the church to address this new term “global culture,” something stirred inside of me. Initially, I was going to talk about my interest, at the time, around issues of science and religion. Yet, I found coming from my mouth something very different: “The issue that faces the church in the 21st century is the very same issue that the church faced in the 1st, 12th, 20th, and if God wills, in the 23rd century. The issue that the church faces is how do we take this very old and ancient text, The Good News, and apply it to our modern lives.” I don’t know if you’ve ever had this experience which is the exact opposite of putting your foot in your mouth, and you asked yourself “Did I just say that? Did that come from my mouth?” Instead of being repulsed by your own response, it wasn’t that bad, but actually might be good. That’s what I experienced. In that moment, I felt like there was a presence beyond my understanding telling me to say those words. Dare I say, it may have been the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Since then, I’ve been on a journey with this revelation who has been my comforter, my friend, my counselor, and at the same time, my prophet, my accuser, and my judge. When I have done anything of value in my ministry, my actions and thoughts are based upon that revelation. When I’ve failed, I did not live out that revelation. Along the journey, I have lived out my faith in many different ministries. I developed a spiritual discipline of asking a three part question to answer how we live the Good News in our modern lives. The three part question is: How have I experienced God today; how have I grown in my understanding of God today; and how have I lived out of that encounter of God?

This spiritual discipline has not just come out of the revelation of that day, but also out of this careful study and work of religious thinkers, to whom I am greatly indebted: Robert McAfee Brown and his book, Unexpected News, and David Tracy’s work on Theological Reflection. Yet, the core of this discipline comes out of my meditations on Luke 24:13-35.  As I have reflected upon this text, I see three movements for the text: experiencing the risen Christ (verses 13-24),  learning from the risen Christ (25- 27) and building a community out of the encounter with Christ (28-35).

Every Monday, I will post a series on how I explore three movements (experience, understand and practice) in the Luke text, and show how these movements led to the development of nine questions in theological reflection. I look forward to sharing this with you all.

Blogs that I read

Here are some of the blogs that I read on a regular basis. Thought you may enjoy reading them as well.


Interesting Engineering

This is a good website to check out new interesting designs out there. I like to call it a  "geek gadget porn".

Reformation Theology

I don’t always agree with everything on this website, but I do find that it informs me   theological perspectives that are outside my theology. Reading this blog helps me to grow my living faith, by looking at different perspectives of faith that are different from mine. 

Experimental Theology

I have read this blog for a long time, and I find his point of view refreshing and engaging in our modern reality.


While I cannot claim that I am an entrepreneur, I do see many of these articles help me  to develop a sense of entrepreneurial ministry.

TAXI Daily News

This is a great website to explore about creative people who are doing interesting things on the Web.

My Magical Mud Cocoa Mix

Being a stay at home pastor (Google the derivation of the word, pastor, to get that joke), one of my responsibilities is cooking. I would like to share one of my recipes that I've created.
The magical mud cocoa mix is based upon two recipes: Cocoa Spice Dry Rub Chicken and Chicken With Cocoa Rub

In the upcoming weeks, I will show you how to use the magical mud cocoa mix in multiple ways.  The simplest recipe is take 1 tablespoon of the mix and add 2 tablespoons of flour, and mix together in a ziplock bag. Then add the meat and shake it until the meat is coated with the mixture. Sauté in a pan until meat is cooked. Take out the meat. Then deglaze the pan with a fruity wine or fruit juice.  Serve the sauce on the top of the meat. Simple and elegant.

My Magical Mud Cocoa Mix

Smoked paprika: 1 tsp.
Ground chipotle pepper: 1 tsp.
Dried Oregano: 1 tsp.
Dried Basil: 1 tsp.
Dried tarragon: 1 tsp.
Dried rosemary: 1 tsp.
Dried thyme: 1 tsp.
Fresh ground black pepper: 1 tsp.
Ground cinnamon: 1/2 tsp.
Ground cumin: 1/2 tsp.
Cocoa powder: 2 tsp.
Garlic powder: 2 tsp.
Brown sugar (here I use raw sugar): 2 tsp.
Kosher salt: 2 tsp.

Grind the oregano, basil, tarragon, rosemary and thyme in an spice grinder and then put the mixture into a  storage container with the rest of the ingredients. Mix till it looks like dirt.

Finding God on the Underground

This video is about a group of strangers riding on the Underground singing 'Respect' by Erasure. I love this idea that the chorus comes out of nowhere and then goes on its way. I think this reflects similar experiences of encountering the divine in the world. We often go through our lives doing our daily tasks and routines and then out of nowhere something unexpected happens. It feels real and then it vanishes. We move on in our lives doing about our business. Yet because of that unexpected moment, we are changed forever.

Ancient Babylonian Songs

I recently came across a recording called "Flood Preview".

 Stef Conner and Andy Lowings collaborated to create recordings of songs based upon Mesopotamian text by using reconstructed instruments of the time. My interest was peeked, so I downloaded the album.   

To the modern ear, the music has a sense of minimalist jazz. I experience this surreal image of an Babylonian jazz club in the 4th millennium BCE. Yet with lines like:  "Chickpea flour is appropriate of every woman in the palace.”  It opens up the experience finding oneself on a street in some town in Samaria hearing the sellers hocking their wares. That leads me to wonder more about the context that these songs were sung. Their music provokes a visual imagery of ancient peoples and an idea of what their lives may have been like. 

The world's most boring evangelical lesson

As I watched Thomas Hellum: The world's most boring television ... and why it's hilariously addictive" occurred to me that secret to keep people's attention is seeing that the viewer creates their own story, through the story that is given to them. Story tellers don't just tell the story but give people the material to create their own stories. Evangelization is giving the Gospel to people to create their own story.

Martin Luther King jr Day Post

In this upcoming year, may we hear a new symphony of siblinghood from the past year of jangling  discords of our nation.


Post from A Stay at Home Pastor: Adventures in Lunchen Gastronomy

On December 12, the negotiations began, but Gabby broke negotiation protocol by pulling out the cake frosting and pickles out of the refrigerator and announcing that she wanted a sandwich made of these things.  As parents, we want our children to reflect the best we are: reproduction, while engaging an new and unknown world: adaptation. The trick in parenting is learning how to resolve these predicaments in a creative way so that your child has the best outcomes.   While we might have bias toward one aim over another, the aim we choose are dependent on a lot of factors. An intuition can be developed through mindfulness activities that allows both in the moment and reflection on the moment.

Advent reflections on Ferguson


These past few weeks, I have struggled to make sense of it all.

The all that is not white,

The all that is not black,

The all that is not blue,

In this season of Advent, I struggled to prepare.

Prepare for what?

Death or Birth.


Another death due to needless violence.

While violence is seductive,

It traps you in believing that there is nothing more, 

It traps you in believing that might makes right,

It traps you in believing that we are always right,

It traps you in believing that we are never wrong.


Yet we all are sinners in the hands of an angry God,

We all have fallen,

We all are broken,

We all are sinful.


Yet that is not it,

That all that was,

and is,

and will be.


All we have is The Word,

The Word that comes in and casts out all darkness,

That Word the comes from the ultimate otherness,

That Word that is the Divine Logic,

That Word which feels and knows all pain,

Yet somehow rejoices for, 

Pain is not the end.


Tell me a story,

Not of the news of the day,

But that old old story,

Where passion trumps violence,

Where death gets convicted to the eternal life.


Be born to us today,

A word,

A hope,

A dream,

Of world yet to come,

O come Prince of Peace,

that all violence may cease.


Whether we be black, white, or blue;

We will labour on,

We will be the midwives,

We will wait for the water to break

Justice rolling down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.


If there is no justice for everyone,

there will be no peace for anyone.