Pastor's Blog

April 27, 2016

Last Saturday, my cousin took our family to a Beatles’ tribute concert.  Her husband, a musician, pointed out the authenticity of the band’s instruments – including a replica of George Harrison’s dark red Les Paul guitar, a gift from Eric Clapton, and McCartney’s stripped down Epiphone.  Those psychedelic satin Sgt. Pepper costumes weren’t bad either. 

 

Before the show began I had to share a story one of my staff members just told me.  It was 1964, and she had gone to see the Beatles with her girlfriends at the Hollywood Bowl.  She had third row seats; and as the Fab Four came out and began their first song, she and her friends redefined “fan”.  I’m not talking about uncontrollable weeping, screaming, or jumping up and down.  That’s for amateurs.  In those days, a pool encircled the Bowl stage, a space now used for seating.  She and her friends dived into that pool, and jumped up on stage as John and Paul stepped back in horror – and fearing that water would short out their so...

April 20, 2016

Presbyterians are known for doing things “decently and in order.”  I read that when John Calvin wanted to find a bride, he formed a committee to do the job!  For the most part, I think that a thoughtful and considered group decision is far better than a unilateral or spontaneous one, even if I sometimes grumble at how long it takes to make it.  I was talking about this with a group of pastors from various denominations, and one said that he thought our slow and methodical approach had an upside.  You don’t have to revisit the decision over and over again after it’s been made.  Once you make a decision, it sticks.   I had to agree.

 

Still, there are times when God invites us to act impulsively, and out of order! I remember coming home one evening from a wonderful family outing with my family when Dad suggested we go see a drive-in movie to cap it off.  I never forgot that day because it was filled with unexpected joy.  Then there was that guy stranded at the...

April 13, 2016

“Frank talk, spirited debate, laughter, and love.”* That could be the description of a small group at St. John’s or even a conversation on the patio after Sunday worship, but it’s how Ed Catmull, president of Pixar Animation describes a “Braintrust meeting.”  It’s what they call a group of artists and filmmakers who come alongside a director as a new film is being “birthed” at the studio.  The Braintrust has no authority to make the director change course if something isn’t working – the Braintrust advises in a spirit of “frank talk, spirited debate, laughter, and love.”  They are not there to destroy the film.  They are trusted peers who believe in the artist and in the film, and want to see both succeed. 

 

As I read about the Braintrust in Catmull’s book, Creativity Inc., I was amazed that such teamwork and warm-hearted feedback existed in the hyper-competitive world of Hollywood filmmaking.   Catmull adds later, “you don’t have to work at Pixar to create a Braintr...

April 6, 2016

It’s 2:00pm on a beautiful afternoon in the Santa Cruz mountains.  You might call it “Pastor Camp” if you think that hanging around two hundred pastors at a weeklong conference sounds like fun.  It began back in 1972 when a band of “mostly young Presbyterian pastors” first met for prayer, mutual encouragement, and excellent teaching.  We say we’re “evangelical” even if it is a misunderstood word, because it still conveys the passion of these pastors to be Christ-centered and biblical, and to share and embody the good news.

 

This is a pretty normal group of people, in my biased opinion, with such a variety of personalities.  Some are rather serious; others could do stand-up.  Some are talkers, others are more introverted; some have very large congregations, and others are happy to see 30 on a Sunday.  Some have been married for 45 years, others have known divorce or the death of a spouse.  There are pastors with five children, pastors with no children, and pastors who never mar...

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