Saturday, December 5, 2009

New Word - Massefer

My wife's newest word - Massefer

Definition - "The appearance of a Shih Tzu when sleeping in a circle and his tail is intertwined with his or her head."

Typical sentence: "When my dog is sleeping on the bed, he is a real massefer."

Yours because His,

Pastor Patrick

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    Saying Goodbye    

    Saying Goodbye    

        How do you say goodbye to a church.  It seems like an easy question.  Pastor's leave churches all the time.  They learn to say goodbye.  But sometimes it is more than a pastor or a pastoral team saying goodbye to a church.  Sometimes it is a community saying goodbye to its focus.  Sometimes it's saying goodbye to a lifetime of spiritual support.  Sometimes it is more than just saying goodbye.

            And that is happening in Garland.  A church with a 187 year history is closing its doors.  What are the loses that our people are feeling:

    • There is the family whose roots go back four generations.  Though they now have another church home, they have taken the responsibility for saying goodbye the church for their family.
    • There is the family who came to our church three years ago - even before they were a family.  They said their vows a little over two years ago.  Now the only church they have known, is closing its doors.
    • There is the neighbor who has never attended church here, but has come faithfully to our Turkey and Ham Dinners and the annual Strawberry Festival in June.  Recently, as we struggled to survive, they also have supported our new Roast Beef Dinner (in August) and the new Rummage Sale held each May.  These events will be missed in our community.
    • There are others.  Families who have supported, both by their attendance and their giving, the Garland Church.  They too have to find ways to say goodbye.  
    • There is the pastor that came 7-1/2 years ago to a struggling, hurting, and broken church.  He hoped to see it grow - and it did in ways.  Just not in numbers.  The hurt that was felt too many years ago never quite went away.  This was the same pastor that has married, baptized, confirmed, taught, preached, and walked with others as they said other kinds of goodbyes.  It was this pastor that worked through the God and Country Award with a group of Girl Scouts for three years.  It was this pastor who took a group of teens through confirmation class - including the overnight retreat.  It was this pastor who cried when he heard the church had decided to close its doors.

Saying goodbye is not just saying goodbye.  "Goodbye" is a reflection on all that has gone before.  On December 31, 2009, we say goodbye to the Garland United Methodist Church.

Friday, August 7, 2009


I learned this week that baseball games can be dangerous. Oh, they are good about warning foul balls or thrown bats. But their is a danger that is not covered by the regular disclaimers. It was last week when a young girl, 4 or 5 years of age, got her head caught in the railing which follows the stairs up into the stands. And tonight, a young man of about the same age got his foot caught in the seat. Both were painful reminders that a ball park can be a dangerous place.

But it would seem that there might be spiritual lessons as well. To many times we think the things we find in life are safe, but when we get to involved with them, like those two children, we find that they do not match with what God expects - they are, in fact, dangerous. What am I, what are you, doing that seems safe, but is dangerous to my spiritual life?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Personal Statement of Faith

A Personal Statement of Faith

Using the model of E. Stanley Jones, I want to examine the truths that have defined my life over the last 35 years. It is not intended to represents the faith of the church I serve (a small United Methodist congregation) or the church with whom I hold my ordination (The Wesleyan Church); rather, it is intended to be a personal statement of faith that has developed from my personal study, my training, and my experience with a loving God.

I expect that this will be a growing list - but I also expect it to be finite at any given time. I can never know God in His entirety, but I can know Him personally. The next step, perhaps a lifetime task, will be to add scripture and references in support of the statements given below.

Floyd H. Johnson

  1. God exists
  2. God is all knowing, all powerful, and always present (omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent)
  3. God is love
  4. There is a Trinity, consisting of three persons, yet one God
  5. The Father is God
  6. The Son is God
  7. The Holy Spirit is God
  8. Scripture is inerrant - God so prepared the authors of scripture that they wrote without error what God intended for them to write.
  9. I am more concerned with how we view and use scripture than what we call it - though the original writings were inerrant, we do not have an inerrant copy
  10. Jesus is God's Son
  11. Jesus never sinned
  12. Jesus gave His life for our sins
  13. Jesus died, was buried, and rose again on the third day.
  14. Man and woman are God's creation
  15. All have sinned
  16. All need God's forgiveness
  17. Christians do sin
  18. Christians know that God has forgiven them
  19. God does not force his grace on us
  20. God's perfect Son died on the cross for everyone
  21. We must choose how to respond to Jesus
  22. There are consequences (both in the present and in the future) for choosing Jesus-this is salvation
  23. There are consequences (both in the present and in the future) for rejecting Jesus
  24. The Holy Spirit is given to all who choose to believe - the indwelling of the Holy Spirit
  25. But, just as we must respond to Jesus, so must we respond to the Holy Spirit
  26. When we respond to the Holy Spirit, we are filled with the Holy Spirit
  27. There are consequences (both now and in the future) for responding to the Holy Spirit
  28. There are consequences (both now and in the future) for rejecting the ministry of the Holy SpiritThe church is Christ's representative on earth - His body
  29. Christ has commanded us to individually be baptized and corporately receive communion
  30. Jesus will return

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Let's Talk About Sin

Let's Talk About Sin


I have been told that it has become unpopular to talk about sin.  Some would say that it has become politically incorrect to refer to sin in the 21st century.  In a world where we learn and see daily that anything goes, how can one speak of doing something wrong.


Yet, of course, we do.  Though "anything goes" we still live in a world of laws - laws made by man.  We do not like to speak of laws that come from a being higher than ourselves, laws that come from God.  Once we focus on laws made by God, we hit the law of immutability.  As long as we only derive our lifestyles from man made laws, we are free to change the law.  But once we admit that God also has laws, we are not free to change those laws.  We must do our best to free ourselves from God's Laws.  We hear that "God does not exist", "God is dead", or "God is irrelevant".  


Yet we do want to hear about the more positive gifts that come from God - things like "forgiveness", "grace", "mercy".  But I have a problem.  Unless we talk about sin (or its synonyms), these terms make no sense.


   Forgiveness has little value, unless I have sinned.
   Grace means nothing, unless I am broken.
   Mercy is not needed, unless I have fallen short of God's expectations.


I do not need to be afraid of sin - mine or someone else's - because unless I know something of sin, I can neither experience God's forgiveness, grace, and mercy; nor can I show it to others.




Pastor Patrick

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Crackers and Juice

Crackers and Juice

I found her offensive.

Clearly, her appearance would drive anyone away. The mottled hair, the fat that hung from her chin, the nose that pointed almost straight up from her face. They each served to drive all who would approach away.

But it was not just her face. The fingernails had not been trimmed for some time. The first time I met her I was afraid to shake her hand as I wondered if she would slash my palm. Her hips had been stretched by the extra body fat in her mid-section. She almost waddled as she moved down the hall.

One might hope that her voice might make up for her appearance. That was not to be. That squeak came every time she had to open her closed lips - like whenever she had to speak a word that started with "b" or "p". I could not help but be reminded of someone scraping their fingernails across the blackboard.

I found her offensive. But I learned a long time ago that I too am broken. And that morning I found that my brokenness kept me ... well, that is what this story is about.

Though, I found it hard to be near Claire, that was her name, there were others that did not. The children. They loved her. Why? Because, as I watched them this morning, it was clear that she loved them. I first saw her in the middle of that big, multicolored, target shaped rug. Not standing, but sitting on her knees. There at her left side were three girls. There were four boys on her right. I did not see the two other children who were sneaking up behind her until it was too late. For as those last two climbed on her back, all ten of them went tumbling forward and as they looked up I saw ten of the loveliest smiles I had ever seen. Claire flipped to her back and start lifting the children as high a she could reach. She would no sooner pick up one child and hold her or him high and gently place them on the ground than she would find another and repeat the process.

The play that day was not just for the young children, but for all those who remembered what childhood was like.

When someone over in the corner yelled "refreshments", the kids bounced off Claire and ran to the table to sit. It would not be fair to say Claire bounced, but she, too, took a seat at the table, right in the midst of all those kids. As she took the hand of the girl to her right and the hand of the girl to her left, the children began to grasp each others hands, following her example. She bowed her head, waited a moment, and began to say grace. It was a simple prayer, but, other than her voice, there was no noise. The children listen while she spoke for just a few seconds to the God that had showed her the love that the children felt that morning. "Amen." And then noise began again - what do you expect from a room full of pre-schoolers who had been wrestling on the floor one moment, in the presence of God the next, and now were ready to take the juice and crackers that were offered.

The children loved Claire, because she loved them. And now, I'm really not sure why she offended me.

With apologies to Dr. Paul Welter, author of Learning From Children.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Tree

The Tree

It was the only tree he could climb - or the only one he knew he could climb. There were other trees in the park, but the branches were so high he would never reach them. But this one, just off of Crosby Road, actually had two trunks. They came together in a "V" about two-and-a-half feet from the ground. Just high enough that he could climb up and start up the one side. The other side went almost straight up - climbing that side of the tree would have to wait awhile.

But this side had a shallow enough slope that he could start shimmying up the tree. And he did. One hand, one foot, another hand, another foot. Up he went. One hand, one foot, another hand, another foot.

At first he could see the acorns on the ground, but as he climbed higher, even they could not be seen. He did see patches of dirt in the grass. Or was it patches of grass in the dirt? He could look a bit further away and see the younger kids playing in the playground on the other side of the fence.

And so it was - one hand, one foot, another hand, another foot. He continued to go further up the limb. Though he had not planned it when he started, he had decided, today, to go as high as the branch would allow him.

And he did climb higher. Now those kids on the playground equipment looked down right small. Given how small everything looked, he began to wonder how far he had climbed out on the limb. Could it have been 25 feet – no way. But it sure felt that high. Maybe he could go just a bit higher.

Wait, what was that. It was amazing how easily he could hear his mother’s voice. What had she said? Was it “Dinner!”?

There, he heard it again. “Dinner!” It was his mother – and dinner was ready. Now he had a decision to make – should he climb back down the tree or jump the three feet to the ground? Regardless, he knew the food would be worth it and the tree would be climbed another day. After all, it was the only tree he could climb.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Mug

It is one of 300 in my collection. They come from twenty states. They represent six artists, 18 different companies, four colleges, and a variety of thoughts and insights expressed by their creators. But it stood alone – for, of all 300, it was the only handmade one in the collection.

It was also the only imperfect one I owned. But I knew that the first time I saw it.

And if I wanted a cup of coffee, I could not use this one. It would never work.

I had long thought of it as being my favorite mug. My youngest son had made it as part of a 7th grade craft project from rolled bits of clay. His excitement showed for a week before he brought it home – of course he would not tell us what he was so excited about, we would have to wait. Finally, on the last day of school before Mother’s Day, he brought it home and proudly handed it over for our inspection.

The colors were perfect – purples, browns, and white. There was the obligatory handle, of course. It had a bottom with circular sides. If I stood a ways off, it looked almost like any other mug. Oh, it was a bit flatter, but that was offset by its larger than normal diameter. My son glowed as he handed it to my wife and me that Friday afternoon.

But it was imperfect. It would not hold the coffee, the tea, or the hot chocolate that one might want it to hold. The clay bars that had been designed to form the bowl of the cup had separated and formed holes in the side. There was a notch in the top where a small piece of clay had fallen away from the rim. No, this cup, this mug, would never hold coffee or tea or chocolate.

Yet this mug has rarely sat empty. It has held M&Ms, it has held a day’s receipts, and it has held pocket change. Today, it holds quarters. Not just any quarter, but state quarters from around these United States. But its most important contents have not been the M&Ms, the receipts, the pocket change, or the quarters. Its most important contents were the tears that came as I held it in my hand one that afternoon fifteen years ago.

A few years after my son had brought it home from school, I had been asked to bring my favorite mug to a weekend retreat of hospital chaplains. That afternoon, as if I were looking at it for the first time, I saw a broken life. That afternoon, it reflected a life full of holes that could not be easily filled. It was that afternoon that the mug began to fill with tears.

It would be another 24 hours before I could understand that even a mug full of holes and flaws could be useful. It could hold M&Ms, receipts, or pocket change. And though it never has, it could even hold tea bags. That same afternoon, I came to see that even this broken life, this life full of holes, could serve a purpose. It could share love with those who had not experienced it, it could hold the hand of a parent whose child lay dying, and it could pray with a mother who does not know where her son will live tomorrow. I could no more fix this broken mug than the life it reflected that afternoon; but I could use that mug, I could use that life, to serve those who hurt in the world around me.

With apologies to Joyce Rupp, author of The Cup of Our Life,
and J. Andrew, my youngest son.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Word - "Conbaffled"

My wife's newest word - Conbaffled

Definition - "The feeling expressed by the interrobang punctuation mark."

Typical sentence: "I was conbaffled after hearing last nights news about the atomic computer."

Yours because His,

Pastor Patrick

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Word - "Whitetified"

My wife's newest word - Whitetified.

Definition - "The color of the world after an unexpected, overnight snow fall."

Typical sentence: It's must have snowed last night, it is all whitetified outside.

Yours because His,

Pastor Patrick

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Free Seminary Help: e-Gape (humor)

Seminary sure has changed since I attended. Look at what Calvin Seminary (from the Reformed Church) has managed to put together [:-)] .


We probably should't share this with all those going to Methodist schools - the students may want to transfer. I know I would have if I had not been married when I arrived on campus. [:)]


Pastor Patrick

PS This was passed to me earlier this evening by some friends who, like me, make use of the LOGOS Bible software program.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Old Manor - A Camp Asbury Icon

Last summer, during the middle of June, some of us were privileged to be present when the Old Manor at Camp Asbury was taken down. The two videos below were created to remember that day. The first is a 10 collage of pictures taken thoughout the day. The second is a 20 minute time-lapsed video of the eight-hour event.

10 Minute Video

20 Minute Video

Shortly before the Old Manor was removed, a new building (now "The Manor") took its place. It is our prayer that this new building will serve as a place of ministry - just as the building it replaced did.

Yours because His,

Pastor Patrick

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Book Review: Coffeehouse Theology

Book Review: Coffeehouse Theology

I stumbled on Contextual Theology purely by accident. While in seminary, in 1977, my wife and served as chaperons for a group of high school students who were holding Vacation Bible Schools for eight weeks in the upper Midwest of the United States. On the Sunday morning we were invited to attend Sunday School at the church scheduled for next week's program. One question caught my attention, “What are the problems of cities?” Having lived in cities all my life, I expected answers such as “pollution”, “crime”, or “isolation”. But the answer that was agreed to by most in attendance that day was “the destruction of prime agricultural land.” It was Contextual Theology, except I did not know it until I read Ed Cyzewski's book Coffeehouse Theology.

Coffeehouse Theology explores the implication of Contextual Theology for the church today. The author recognizes that each person who reads scripture does so from their own perspective. They bring to the scripture their own biases, their own history, their own successes, hurts, and desires. Those things that make us unique can influence how we read and study scripture. By balancing our understanding of scripture with our interaction with Christians from different cultures and different eras, allows them to help us grow. Then we can better understand the God who loves all mankind. Ed Cdyzewksi provides resources and tools allowing us to do just that.

The book comes with a strong recommendation to those who have not read previously on this subject.

Communion - March 8 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

God Will Meet Me There

God Will Meet Me There

Matthew 26:32

But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.

It was a difficult night. Jesus had His last meal with His disciples. Now they were making their way to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus would have an opportunity to pray. And now He tells His disciples, His friends, “You will all fall away.” It was not just Jesus speaking, it was also
the prophets. They knew it was true, but they did not think it would be them.

But in the midst of this conversation, Jesus speaks words that are not from the prophets, but from Jesus alone, “But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Jesus will get there first. He will prepare the way. He will be gone, they will see Him crucified, they know where His tomb lies. Yet He promised to go before them to Galilee.

We each will experience dark times. It might be spiritual – when God seems far away. Or perhaps it is a physical illness – when God seems so distant. Or maybe is a loss of a loved one or something of value – and we feel so alone. Yet, when I go through bad times, when we go through dark times, maybe we can still hear Jesus speaking, “...I will go before you...” And I will look forward to meeting Him there.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

God of Life

                                            God of Life

Earlier today, I was given a quote from a Jewish song or hymn:

       God of life, God of life,
            Let me live, let me live.
        Though I tremble in your sight,
            Like sand I am sifted
        Through your hands, through your hands
            Till I finally come to realize,
        I have been living my whole life,
            To be just who I am.

I like these words, but I cannot find a source. 

Yours because His,

Pastor Patrick

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Microlending 101

Microlending for Fun or Profit


I have heard of microlending as a way to help the poor around the world, but not on how to participate.  The attached article includes two links to organizations that are making loans to those in need.  My wife and I will talk about making some investments - may your family would like to invest as well.




It looked strange. Well, not if it had been the middle of the summer, but it's February. It would not have looked strange if had been October or November. I don't think this is what scripture means by walking on the water. It did look strange. Odd, indeed.

What it was was a gaggle of geese on the pond. And that normally would not have been a problem, but in February the pond was frozen. Not just some ice, but a lot of ice. Enough that the geese were walking on the pond, …, the ice. And as confusing as it sounded to me, those geese looked confused as well.

During the late Spring, Summer, and Fall, there are always geese on the pond. But as the days grow longer and the snow begins to fly, the geese disappear. And they don't return till March or April. Except that these geese were there.Those geese did not look happy.

They waddled (do geese waddle?) around the ice as if they really expected to find water. This was not home. This was not what they expected to find.

Those geese reminded me of a couple of spiritual issues:

  1. We all started out lost. We all ended up someplace that we did not expect to be – perhaps it was our family, our job, our home. But we were lost. I remember when I first started seminary in a community just North of Chicago. My wife of five days and I had flown to O'Hare airport and were taking a bus to our new home. As we climbed on the bus, my wife's first comment was, “I've come to one of those places where the sun never shines.” She was lost.

    But we all were also spiritually lost at one time. We found ourselves, much as did those geese, in a spiritual place where the Son never shines. When we finally meet the “light of the world” we begin to see the world as God sees it. We begin to see ourselves as God sees us – broken, confused, and lost. And He has found us allowing us to come home.
  2. We were lost, but we also live in a world that is mostly lost. We live in world that has not recognized that it, like those geese, lives in a world that is far different that God intended for them. It would seem to me that, as best we are able, we should allow the church to be the open pond in the midst of a frozen wasteland. The church will be a place where the cold can get warm, a place where the thirsty can be refreshed.

What does your church offer to the world in which it finds itself? What does my church offer to the world in which it finds itself? Can we offer some relief from the world which sometimes seems cold and unfriendly. I pray that we can find ways to offer God's grace to those who need it most – those who live in this broken world of ours.

Yours because His,

Pastor Patrick

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

God is ...

Psalm 18:1-2

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock,
my fortress
and my deliverer;

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and
the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold.

Psalm 23:1
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not be in want.

Psalm 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation
— whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life
— of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Quote for the day

"You can safely assume you have created God in your own image when it turns out he hates all the same people you do."

Ann Lamott, Bird by Bird (New York: Anchor, 1994), 22. Quoted in Ed Cyzewski, Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2008), 42.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bible Software Suggestions

My favorite Bible Software program is the LOGOS Bible Software based on Libronix. Over the last few months they have released two titles that represent the Wesleyan theological position:

The Eerdmans Wesleyan Bible Commentary (7 Volumes)

Wesleyan Bible Commentary Series

They will not be published until enough orders have been received to support their initial development. If you use LOGOS or have considered using it, I would recommend adding these two titles to your collection. Even if you are not of the Wesleyan persuasion, I would encourage you to add these to your library - they will provide the voices from the Wesleyan perspective, rather than repeating the straw men that are too often portrayed by opposing camps. They may even add to your own understanding of the scripture.

Yours because His,

Floyd Johnson

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wesley's Covenant Prayer

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

(as used in the Book of Offices of the British Methodist Church, 1936)