Greetings from the Holy Land 
Saturday, May 31, 2008, 10:16 AM
It is hot around the Sea of Galliee. We visited the lookout to view the sea from a height. We also went to the church built on the traditional place of Jesus feeding the 5,000. We also went to the traditional home of Peter. The foundations are there along with a modern church that flys over it on arches. The church has a window in the floor that looks down into the foundation ruins.

The land is a mixed of pilgrims. Visiting the church of the feeding of the 5,000, the same story was told by guides and leaders, parents and pilgrims in many varations and languages.

I prayed for Goodyear Heights Presbyterian church at the churches bring them to mind with the mindfulness of the place of the Holy Land.

Internet is expensive and rare, but pray is free, keep me in prayers as I travel. I return home June 12th
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Power of Presence 
Wednesday, May 28, 2008, 08:00 AM - Extra Christy
As part of my preparation for my trip to Israel, I wrote a spiritual autobiography. Over the next weeks, I would like to share parts of it with you.

Even after a year of seminary I could not decide if I could do the work of a pastor. I could learn from books which is most of what is required in seminary but could I help the people as a pastor? I took a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) internship at Louisville University Hospital. The old one. This is the one they tore down a few years after I was there. It had staph growing on the walls and unairconditioned wards where poor people without insurance were dumped. It was a nasty place in the summer.

There I visited a man daily in a hot ward as he burned up with a fever. The doctors had operated to fix his infected organ which should have given him relief, but recovery was slow and the fever wouldn't break days after the surgery. Finally, they x-rayed him and found a sponge had been left in him and was causing the infection. He went back for another major surgery, and another recovery. Still the fever would not break. After another few days of agony, the x-ray revealed pieces of the sponge! They hadn't got it all out! So a third major surgery and recovery weeks after he should have been home and back to work. This time he recovered.

I don't recall saying anything profound. It was hot. We were in a ward of about 20 or so other patients and their visitors, nurses and doctors. He was sweating from the heat and fever. Not the best conditions to talk about matters of the spirit especially when screw-ups lengthen and deepen his stay in purgatory instead of bringing him back to life.

As he finally recovered he insisted he would not have made it through the hopes and disappointments without my prayers and visits. (some of which were just hellos exchanged because he was too sick to visit) I decided to continue to prepare for the ministry, I felt he gave me God's answer to my question of if I could help someone as a pastor by his insistence of the value of my ministry. I also realized that it isn't my great training or skill, but God's presence, God with us, Emmanuel, that I bring that blesses others.

I look to the hills! Where will I find help?
It will come from the LORD,
who created the heavens and the earth.
The LORD is your protector,
and he won't go to sleep
or let you stumble.
The protector of Israel doesn't doze
or ever get drowsy.

The LORD is your protector,
there at your right side
to shade you from the sun.
You won't be harmed by the sun
during the day or by the moon at night.

The LORD will protect you
and keep you safe from all dangers.

The LORD will protect you now
and always wherever you go.

-- Psalm 121 (Contemporary English Version)

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Beauty Prayer 
Thursday, May 22, 2008, 01:30 PM - Prayers
We had an interior designer at Kiwanis today for our guest speaker. Here is my invocation:

Author of Beauty,
Arrange us according to your design,
Bring all people into harmony,
May we see the beauty in ourselves and others
Call us into community where all people
enhance and contribute to the beauty in each one


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Saturday Night and Sunday Morning 
Wednesday, May 21, 2008, 07:00 AM - Extra Christy
As part of my preparation for my trip to Israel, I wrote a spiritual autobiography. Over the next weeks, I would like to share parts of it with you.

I attended church and Sunday School growing up, It was what our family did rather than a spiritual observance for me. Just like our family went to YMCA Family Camp in the summer, ate dinner together at 5:30 PM, and yelled out the car windows in tunnels to hear the echoes.

One Sunday School teacher did more than teach a lesson. He met us for bowling and took us over to his house afterwards for dessert. I brought a date. The next day in Sunday School the teacher observed how I was different on a date Saturday night that the person he knew at church on Sunday. I resisted the insight. I didn't think I was different Saturday night and Sunday morning. Yet, I was. That day began a lifelong pursuit of honesty and integrity. I strive to be one person at all times. It is my greatest asset and my most troubling fault.

While integrity is precious, I overuse it, which has cause problems as I act the same way at church or home, pulpit robes or jeans. I don't "act" like a minister has been said in tones of admiration, surprise and condemnation throughout my ministry. All going back to that Sunday School comment about Saturday night.

God knows you Saturday night and Sunday morning and is with you morning, noon, and night.

"How can I account for the people of this generation? They're like spoiled children complaining to their parents, 'We wanted to skip rope and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk but you were always too busy.' John the Baptizer came fasting and you called him crazy. The Son of Man came feasting and you called him a lush. Opinion polls don't count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating." - Luke 7:31-35 (The Message)

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Building a Memorial 
Wednesday, May 14, 2008, 07:10 AM - Extra Christy
Have you seen stones placed on top of cemetery monuments? This is an old tradition followed by folks of Jewish heritage among others. A small rock is left on a headstone when one visits a grave. It serves to let the next visitor know that their loved one has been visited and remembered.

The practice goes all the way back to ancient burial in the desert where mounds of stones marked the burial place of the departed. Arranging the stones and piling them together was the family's way of maintaining the grave site, so the place and the person would not be forgotten.

One of the prayers I use at the time of death contains the following:

...We pray that nothing good in the life of this woman will be lost, but will be of benefit to the world; that all that was important to her will be respected by those who follow, and that everything she valued will continue to mean much to us now that she has died. We ask you that she may live on in the hearts and minds of her family and friends, inspiring courage, informing conscience...

This type of monument is reflected in 2 Peter where the author encourages the readers to be "living stones" that builds a monument of praise God and service to others.

When I visit a grave, I'll leave a stone on the monument to remind me of the person and of the work left to do to build in my life a living monument to my loved one and the God who loves me and all people, in this life and the next.

A Memorial of Living Stones

As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him- you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
- 2 Peter 2:4-5,9-10 (NIV)

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