Clinical Pastoral Education

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I won’t really be able to blog about any of the specifics of what I will be doing for the next 17 weeks but I am pretty excited about it. The reason I won’t be able to blog about it is because I am a student in the 2013 Spring unite of Clinical Pastoral Education. This means that I am now an intern chaplain at St. Mike’s hospital in Point. Therefore what I will be doing will be confidential both because of ministerial ethics and HIPPA. I will spend 20ish hours a week doing clinical work under the supervision of a full time chaplain and then meeting with a group of other CPE students critiquing the experience and how I responded. I first heard about CPE when I was in seminary back in the 90s and have often thought it would be an enjoyable and challenging experience. It took me long enough but I finally decided to try it. I had my first group meeting yesterday and I have gone through a two-step TB test so the only thing left before I can get started in the hospital is the employee orientation which happens early next week.

While pastoral care is a part of the duties of a chaplain this will be very different from my typical pastoral duties. I think the difference will be quite interesting. I also think that spending so much time with ministers from other Christian denominations will push me in ways that I haven’t experienced before. Through must of my time in vocational ministry I have known and spent time with ministers from other denominations this will be different. I haven’t usually been critiqued by the people I knew from other denoms. This group will question how I respond to situations and often they will do it from very different theological understandings than I have. The group is all protestant (which is unusual around here) with a great deal of variety still within it. My guess right now is that  I am probably one of, if not the most, conservative person in the group which is the opposite from the ministerial groups that I am typically in right now.

This is going to be awesome.

Salsa Night


Just sharing a few things from tonight. For those who want it here is the salsa recipe with double the Serrano peppers for a little more kick.

  • 5 Roma tomatoes
  • 1/4 onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 Serrano chili peppers
  • Cilantro (1/4 of bunch or to taste)
  • Juice of one small lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Secondly, for those who wanted to see them again below you will find the two videos I showed tonight during my message.

First, here’s the Kid President Pep Talk


And here is the video from Mrioslav Volf.


SIDE NOTE – if you are involved in UWSP’s InterVarsity chapter I hope to see you tomorrow. I’ll be speaking at the large group meeting tomorrow night.

Walk Like a Penguin


It is going to be bad out there tonight folks. Therefore I share with you this infographic.

I love Winter in Central Wisconsin. The cold seems to make the Spring and Summer feel all the better. The snow is a ton of fun. Cross-country skiing and sledding = awesome. To be honest running when it is snowing make me feel like a beast. With all that said I could really do without the ice. The ice is the only part of Winter that I don’t so much like. Except when it forms all over trees. Ice covered (not broken) trees are gorgeous. Winter Mix is the worst weather ever. It is an accident waiting to happen. ARGH!

Anyhow, I’m not sure if it is true or not but it makes sense and I think it would be fun to watch every one walk like a penguin.

ht lifehacker


My weekend project is basically finished now. Pam gave me a raspberry pi for my birthday and after a few weeks of back order it finally arrived. So for its initial setup I decided to set it up as a media center. Wow it was easy. Much easier than I as expecting it to be. Now I need to transfer movies and music to it. Other than than the raspberrry pi’s first job seems to be ready to go.

I Regret Nothing

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I think Pam and the boys would agree that I usually talk the least of any member of our family BUT I make up for it by having my rants. There are a few subjects that I just go ballistic over and kick into rant mode concerning. Free will and determinism for example. If you want to see me go off into a rant just bring up the song “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga and I will go into a rant of epic proportions on determinism and free will. Anyhow I am not sure if this is a regular one of my rants or not (Pam and the boys can surely tell you if it is) but it drives me crazy when people say “I have no regrets.” So let the rant begin.


The phrase drives me nuts because it sounds noble but the reality is that if a person has no regrets they are either a sociopath or have an incredibly short memory. It is the type of phrase that actors in movies shout when they are falling off a cliff but any idiot knows they should regret not standing further away from the cliff in the first place.

Here’s what I mean. There are things in my life that I have done or not done that I SHOULD regret. In fact, I would go so far as to say that to not regret them would be an evil act in and of itself. I know some will say “but those actions for good or for bad made you who you are and you don’t regret that do you?” No I don’t. I realize that the good and the bad that I have done are a part of what has shaped me. I learned from those mistakes but I could have just as easily have learned those lessons without the mistakes. I regret that I didn’t learn the lesson through a better means and I regret the act itself. The only way I could not regret those acts is if I am so self-centered that I am basically a sociopath and therefore have no feelings for what I have done to others OR I have such an incredibly short memory that I forget the evil I have done pretty quickly after doing it.

Here’s an example. I remember being in Chris Moore’s backyard when I was a teen and having one of his little brothers run by us. I had an impulse to trip this little 6 year old kid just for my own amusement and I did. I did it just because I was bigger than him and I could. The poor kid fell down, skinned his knee, became embarrassed, and started to cry. It was brutish and cruel of me. I doubt Chris remembers the act but I still do to this day and all these years later I still regret it. I learned from it that I need to protect those weaker than me rather than taking advantage of my power of them for my own entertainment. I still think to myself every now and then “am I tripping this person or helping them?” That lesson has severed me well and I am thankful for it but to not regret the act itself would be wrong. I wish I had learned that lesson without tripping Chris’s brother. I know I could have learned that lesson without tripping him.

In my life I have hurt people that I love and to not regret that, no matter how wonderful the lesson was, would be wrong. I have sometimes ignored opportunities to do good and to not regret that would callous. My regrets don’t hold me back and keep me mired in despair. Instead the lessons I have learned from my regrets help me to be a better follower of Christ, husband, father, son, brother, friend, and person but I usually could have and should have learned those lessons without hurting others or myself.

There is nothing noble about saying you have no regrets. In fact that phrase is ignoble. So go be noble.


Sentimentality vs. Faith

I hate Precious Moments figurines. I know hate is a strong word but I really mean it. I hate them. I say this even though Pam and I had a Precious Moments figurine as the topper on our wedding cake. At that time I didn’t know I hated them. I do now and like I said I hate them. I hate them even though I love Carthage, Missouri, the that is the the home of Precious Moments. Carthage is great. Precious Moments not so much. Like I said I hate them.


Well because they reek of sentimentality. Those dopey, large eyed figurines try to pull on your sentimental hearts strings and make you say “AWWWWWE” but there is no true sense of awe in them. It is just sentimentalism. In my opinion rampant sentimentality is one of the biggest adversaries of true faith. Sentimentality expresses strong feelings without the cost that should be associated with those feelings. To quote Oscar Wilde (a person who is usually quite fun to quote):

A sentimentalist is one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it.

Sentimentality as faith is focused on strong feelings without any sacrifice. It is basically worthless.

As a pastor I run into many people using the faith that shapes my and so many others’ lives for simple emotional fixes that make them feel good about themselves but do nothing else. Following Christ is a relationship that calls us to action not a set of emotional elements that give a person nothing more than warm fuzzies. Sentimentality takes the profound and covers it in a fog to reduce it to manageable and non-threatening levels.

Please don’t get me wrong. The true God does bring comfort to us when we are afflicted, that is a very true thing. Comfort isn’t sentimentality. Sentimentality just does a good job of pretending to be comfort. I have seen Jesus bring comfort into situations were none seemed possible. Yet this comfort was never some misty emotional feel good moment with no real meaning. Instead in such situations His comfort was amazing and challenging. It caused me, and others, to think “if He can bring comfort into this situation then why do I ever hesitate to follow Him, no matter the circumstances?” You see the old saying is true. Christ comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. Sentimentality really does neither. It just pretends to bring comfort.

So what sparked this rant?

Well I have recently developed a habit of taking some of my favorite quotes and combining them with various images to produce cover photos for my Facebook profile. Yesterday I made the following cover photo.


I love Jürgen Moltmann, so many of his works including this book “Theology of Hope,” and the above quote. While editing the image and text I thought to myself that this quote could be viewed either as a call to arms to join God in the daily battle of overcoming evil that He brought about by the victory of the resurrection or it could be reduced to a warm, fuzzy, sentimental cliché that would go well on a poster of a kitten looking at spilled, wasted milk. The true God weeping with us is a dangerous thing that changes the world, our lives, and lives of those in our community. The God Who weeps with us will laugh because He has and will completely overcome evil. This God’s weeping pushes those who follow Him to fight against the evil they see. The sentimental statement, on the other hand, uses emotional warmth to lull people into inaction.

Sentimentality disguises itself as faith but it is far, FAR from it. I hate it.

A Day of Freezing


It has been a little cold here in Central Wisconsin. The cold temps are typically no big deal and in fact usually kind of enjoyable. On the other hand, the extreme cold and the wind chill can require doing things a little differently. Take today for example.

I went out to start Fred the Sentra and after a quick burst of electrical everything in the car stopped. I changed the alternator a few weeks ago and thought that I had probably just not put the positive battery cable on very well and the cold had loosened it. I pulled the latch for the hood to look at it and nothing happened. I pulled the handle again and made sure it was all the way out and then went to the front of the car to try and lift the hood. The latch had frozen shut. I didn’t feel like pulling a hair dryer out to the car to warm the latch so I sat on the hood area where the latch was hoping that my body heat would be enough. After a few minutes of a very cold butt the hood popped open. I reattached the positive cable and the car started fine. So I drove to my lunch meeting.

When I made it to the restaurant where my meeting was. I was a little early but saw the open sign and decided to just go in and get some chips and salsa and read. When I tried to open the door it was apparently locked. This was an early lunch so I figured that they had just turned the sign on a little early and hadn’t actually opened up yet. So I turned to go back to my car. That’s when the hostess knocked on the door and shouted that it was frozen shut. 🙂 With the hostess pushing on the inside and me pulling on the outside we are able to open the door. Hopefully nothing else freezes today.

As I said it just takes doing things a little different. It’s still fun though. Now it is time for a run before writing some.

I Bring My Own Music

As a part of my Clinical Pastoral Education I am in the process of being a chaplain intern at St. Michael’s hospital. This has meant going up to St. Mike’s for various “employee” setup activities over the past two days. Today’s was visit one of three for my employee health screening.

While in the nurse’s office I started to notice the Muzak that was playing through the PA system. It was Rich Mullins. I thought to myself, “I love Rich Mullins” and then moved on with the rest of the visit. Leaving the Employee Health office I started walking to the Spiritual Services office and noticed that they were playing Derek Webb and once again I thought to myself “I love Derek Webb.” After that song the next song was a rather obscure song from Waterdeep and I thought to myself  “this is the best Muzak station ever. I am going to love interning here.

When I got to my supervisor’s office and sat down he immediately asked “do you hear that?” I didn’t hear anything. So he asked “is your phone ringing.” I took it out and looked. Nope, nothing there. He then asked “do you hear that music?” I told him that all I heard was the PA Muzak. That’s when he told me there was no Muzak in the hospital.

Turn’s out my mp3 player had been playing my music the whole time. At least I know I really like my music. 🙂

Leadership, Intern, & Nook Color

Been a fun day of ministry and geekiness.

Ministry – Spent the day dealing with the team that interviews the prospective new members of the Tapestry Leadership Team. Lots of fun going through the biblical qualifications of an overseer and dealing with important questions concerning who Tapestry is and how to stay properly focused on who we are. I love meetings like that. Then I got to start the process of being a chaplain intern at St. Michael’s hospital as a part of the Clinical Pastoral Education that I am doing this semester. I’ll talk more about this sometime later. I am pretty excited about the whole process. Anyhow the whole thing took a little longer than I expected but it was really cool. Tomorrow I go back for the health screening. Yea! TB test.

Geekiness – I just finished rooting my Nook Color into a full scale Android Tablet. Fun! Turns out the Nook Color has bluetooth built into its hardware even though bluetooth isn’t used in the Barnes & Noble software. So I hooked the now rooted Nook Color to a bluetooth keyboard to type this little post.

Not a bad day. Yea I live a fun life.