17 January 2016

Dead Broke and Shot through the Heart

step by step
heart to heart
left right left
we all fall down
like toy soldiers

I couldn't breathe. I clutched my stomach. Bent over and put both hands on my hips. But got not enough oxygen that way so stretched up on my toes reaching for air. I thought I was going to throw up. Wanted to collapse. Couldn't do that. It was forbidden. We had to run one more drill. Coach McGinnis screaming something at me, at all of us. So we lined up and started to run.

Licking my fingers for all the sweet taste of orange I could get, sitting in a reflective moment, sitting in the locker room after practice, some boys naked and others in various stages of dressed, I thanked GOD I had survived another basketball practice! Welcome to the Morton High School basketball team in 1978. No wonder we won a state championship. We were physically, emotionally and mentally as tough as Japanese kamikazes. Well, okay, maybe not that tough but you get the picture.

insert photo of 1978 
Morton basketball team

Fast forward 37 years and here I sit typing words onto a TV screen. There have been highs and lows. Ups and downs. Times I wanted to quit. Days I begged for mercy from the universe. Nights I couldn't sleep with worry. Days of facing criticism from thousands. You don't know what the hell you are doing! Hatred from hundreds. How dare you play games with my money! Through the trials and tribulations of life, the truth of Tigger remains.

Perseverance is the key to opening Door #3. Behind that door are the riches of the ages. Wisdom. Knowledge. Truth. The Japanese honor perseverance with an art form called kintsugi. Kintsugi (“golden mend”) is the Japanese art of mending broken pottery using lacquer resin laced with gold or silver.

Beyond repairing a broken object, the truth is that flawed but repaired objects are more beautiful and have greater value for their experience. The same is true for people like you and me. Our broken and mended parts make us more attractive. Where are your broken parts? How could you perform kintsugi on them? Maybe you can't. Is there someone else or some other FORCE that can? How could you contact that force and get that healing?

16 January 2016

Purple Haze byTommy Emmanuel

Here Tommy Emmanuel plays Purple Haze
on somebody's back porch.
I saw him live on stage at University of Houston
and it was a memorable experience.
He's a one man show as you may see here.

06 February 2014

2013: The Year in Review by Pastor Jon Burnham

2013 was a year of growth in the life of St. John's Presbyterian Church in Houston. That growth was most evident in the four beautiful duplexes being constructed on our property on West Bellfort Avenue near Westbury United Methodist Church. The Single Parent Family Ministry is being built, financed and staffed by Presbyterian Children’s Home and Services (PCHAS), an outstanding partner in ministry. The homes are 
being built by Ryland Homes under the guidance of Home Aid Houston. New Covenant Presbytery is the other partner in this ministry. We look forward to the new ministries that may arise in the years ahead as we live into this new calling from God. 

Our church staff had a big transition this year as we lost the service of two faithful staff members. Curtis Brisch, our Financial Secretary, died on May 22, 2013. Curtis was tireless in his efforts to serve the congregation by keeping us financially grounded. After his death, Sally Shaw and Rebecca Amador took on the position of Interim Financial Secretary and we appreciate their faithful service.

Vivian Ivy, our Church Secretary for some 45 years, retired this fall due to health constraints. Vivian was an institution here with her deft pastoral care skills and organizational mind and depth of relationships. We look forward to honoring her for years of excellent service to St. John’s when she is feeling better.

We also gained a new staff member this year, Rev. Linda Herron, who volunteers her time and pastoral skills as our Parish Associate. Linda has blessed us with her preaching, singing, liturgical leadership, visitation and teaching. She has also helped fill some gaps in the church office and sings in the choir as well. We appreciate Linda’s pastoral leadership.

My time was spent serving as staff consultant for several committees: Administration and Personnel, Faith in Action, Property, Stewardship and Finance, and Worship. This work consisted of about 45 meetings, most of which were night meetings. As head of staff I led about 45 staff meetings and moderated about 14 Session meetings for a total of well over 100 meetings. I also led about 45 centering prayer meetings.

I enjoyed participating in the Southwest Ministerial Alliance and attended about 10 of their breakfast meetings and hosted one of them at our church. In the areas of pastoral care, teaching, and preaching, I made about 55 home visits, about 55 hospital visits and about 30 nursing home visits for a total of well over 100 visits in various locations around the city. I administered the Lord’s Supper about 12 times, conducted 2 memorial services, 1 baptism, 3 healing services, taught 45 adult classes, 2 officer training classes and preached about 46 sermons.

The Holy Spirit led a shift this year in the lives of many church members through the Unbinding the Gospel group studies. May God continue this movement toward deeper relationships and reaching out in mission to our community.

16 October 2013

Seeking New Skin

The sloughing off of the old skin and putting on of the new is a natural part of life for a crab. 
It's similar to the cleansing I seek today which is well described by the ancient palmist. 
Nothing dramatic. Just a minor transformation. 

A minor transformation is my hope and perhaps yours as well. 
We can't make transformation happen in DC. 
We can't even make it happen in our own heart. 

But we can cry out to God for transformation. 
Shed the old skin. 
Put on new skin. 
As individuals and as a nation.

Just beyond our spectacular pride is a tiny glimpse of a way forward. 
Let's head in that direction today. 

- - -
Create in me a clean heart, O God, 
and put a new and right spirit within me.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, 
and put a new and right spirit within me. 

Do not cast me away from your presence, 
and do not take your holy spirit from me. 

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, 
and sustain in me a willing spirit. 
-Psalm 51:10-12 

Ride on the wings of the wind

Ride on the wings of the wind

Sleep in the tent of the heavens.

It's hard to hang with the God of heaven and earth.

You never know where you may get hung.

Could get hung from a cross.

Might get wrapped in light like a garment.

Such is the unpredictable life of a disciple.

You learn to take what comes.

Live into the vision. 

Learn as you grow.

That's how we roll.

Psalm 104
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. 
O LORD my God, you are very great. 
You are clothed with honor and majesty, 
2 wrapped in light as with a garment. 
You stretch out the heavens like a tent, 
3 you set the beams of your chambers on the waters, 
you make the clouds your chariot, 
you ride on the wings of the wind, 
4 you make the winds your messengers, 
fire and flame your ministers.