Thursday, June 20, 2013

An "Official Announcement" and a very humble "Thank you, Church!!"

Dear FUMC-Grapevine Church members and friends . . . 

Two years ago, I was extended the honor of being invited to come serve as a member of the summer Chaplain Corps at the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico, the largest outdoor youth camp in the world.  To say the least, this is a great honor to myself and to the church I am proud to serve, the First United Methodist Church of Grapevine, Texas.  I initially thought that my going to serve as a chaplain  at Philmont during the summer would be out-of-the-question.  Being away from the church and family for so long just didn't seem realistic to me.  I was very comfortable with my yearly trip to Philmont to serve as chaplain for the week-long Fall Leadership Conference held there each September.  A week away was far more manageable.

Then . . .  I got cancer. 
I have to admit, my cancer battle took far more out of me than I realized, and it lasted a lot longer than I expected it to.  There are still some physical side-effects from the cancer and treatment that  I am dealing with, which I am told can linger for a year or so.  Age, maturity and my past experiences providing pastoral care to others going through cancer helped me to realize that at some point in the process,  I was going to need a break.  
After receiving a “disease free” report from my oncologist, I was encouraged to approach Rev. John Mollet , our Senior Pastor, and our Staff-Parish-Relations Committee at the church about the possibility of my be granted leave during the upcoming month of July for some renewal time, and to serve as a chaplain at Philmont.  John offered his encouragement and support, and the SPRC graciously granted my request. I will be forever grateful to them for allowing me to experience this unique opportunity.

So, I would like to "officially announce"  that I will be leaving for New Mexico after the close of VBS on Friday, June 28th.  I will serve at Philmont, with endorsement from FUMC-Grapevine (all chaplains at Philmont must have an endorsement), from July 1 – 26.  I will be leading and/or preaching at Protestant Chapel services each evening, in addition to Sunday afternoon ecumenical services at the Philmont Training Center.  I will also get to help lead the Tuesday and Thursday morning sunrise services at the Training Center, a tradition I helped to start there 3 years ago.  Along with other chaplains, I will be responsible for the spiritual needs of all campers, volunteer adults leaders, and Philmont staff members.  My responsibilities will also include counseling and conflict management/resolution, delivering the mail and emergency messages, and being a 1st responder for various situations as they arrive and as needed.

For those wondering . . . Chaplains at Philmont usually put in 10-12 hour days at a minimum. 

I can't wait!!!!

Liz will join me on July 27th, so we can enjoy together the remainder of my leave time.  I plan to be back for worship on Sunday, August 4th.

It has been my honor and privilege to serve on the pastoral staff of this grand church for the past 8 years.  I hope and pray to be able to return from time away with fresh eyes and renewed energy for my next 8 years here.

I do not have the words to express my appreciation for this opportunity, other than to humbly say, "Thank you!"

As time permits . . . I will occasionally post a blog article or two during this experience.

For more information about Philmont Scout Ranch, please go to

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Deadlines approaching . . . it's a busy time . . .

My focus right now is to have everything I have backlogged in my project notebook finished by or before June 28, which is the day I leave for New Mexico for a month of renewal/mission leave at the Philmont Scout Ranch, where I will be serving as one of the Protestant chaplains in July.

Included in these efforts are my trying to finalize the list of gear, clothes and music stuff I am taking with me.  Space in my Saturn Vue is limited.  Hard decisions, and lot's of paring down my lists.  Each time I go over them, I cross a couple of things off.  I only have room to take what I absolutely need.

Lean and mean . . .  that may mean just one guitar if I take my PA system with me.  That will be my last decision.  Sean has loaned me a factory repaired Taylor 916ce, frankly the most beautiful guitar I have ever had in my temporary or full-time possession.  It has a large (long) factory repaired crack in the soundboard, that is still slightly visible.  It sounds very nice, a different more mellow tone than my GS Custom.  We shall give each a hard look.  My GS Custom is going for sure.  I took it to Philmont last September and it held up great.

I'm on the down-hill slide, and not that far from being completely ready to go.

Also in my project notebooks are things that need to be checked off as I get ready for VBS here at the church in a couple of weeks.  I'm the singer/worship leader/opening session MC again this year.

Oh, I do so love VBS!!!!

Lot's of projects . . . all that I promised to have done before I left.

I try hard to keep my promises.  I don't enjoy letting people down.  Because of the wonderful pastoral team I have the privilege to work with, and our assistant, Katherine, and because of our great Stephen Minister team and others . . . everything will be covered, very well covered.

Thank you Lord for great team mates!!!

One of the joys in all of this is creating the list of songs I will use/play for chapel services each night in July.  I'm leaning toward "fun and action oriented" in my song selections so far.  A few slow worship songs as well, and some good churchy songs that work well on guitar.  I think the kids and adults will enjoy the energy, especially as the songs help set up the rest of the chapel service.

I did decide, and I am sticking with my decision, that I am not taking any sermons I have already written.  Each time I preach, I want it to be a fresh message based on my devotional studies I will do each morning.  I usually write about 8 sermons a year.  I will probably write at least 20+ for just July at Philmont.  I am ready, so very ready for this particular challenge.

I am looking forward to drawing closer to God as a result.

Prayers during July would and will be greatly appreciated.  Especially for my own particular "thorn in the flesh" . . . my right foot (heel).

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Concert Report . . .

I just plain forgot to post about my concert for the New Horizon group on May 28th.

To quote the late, great Andy Griffith . . . "Outstanding!"

This was my first full concert (about an hour) singing the songs I love and grew up with, with time spent including the audience joining in on the choruses.

Several quoted that it was the best program that New Horizon had all year!!!  

Guess I get to go back and sing again in the fall!

Oh, and to be honest . . . after I sat down . . . I couldn't get up, I was so tired.

But, the voice held, although a little raspy at the end.   This was my first concert using my Lucas Nano 300 PA for both voice and guitar.   It worked very well.  I borrowed a Taylor 514e from Sean Simon at Grapevine Guitars Works to use, and enjoyed it very much.  However, I'm a GS (Grand Symphony) guy, and I took it back all cleaned and retuned.

All in all . . . a good event all around.

And, I can finally say it . . . despite the thyroid cancer and all that went with it . . .

I'M BACK!!!!!

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>