This is a place for me to share and document personal interests such as music, technology, and other writing. Please enjoy; I love to receive comments and hear back from you! And if there is something you'd like me to record or a tech question, please let me know! For more of an overview, see the "Who Am I?" and "Ministry Passions" tabs above.

Sense of Call (archived page)

Why are you standing for Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)? 
*Click the following link for "What is the Role of the Moderator?"

I have a heartfelt faith in Jesus Christ, a love of God's Word and people, and a commitment to live out the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ with truth and grace to those inside and outside the Church.

My family (plus Buddy the dog!)
My most basic calling is to my family, to love them unconditionally, if imperfectly, and with them to seek truth in the bounty of God's grace. We are bound together in covenant; we disappoint; we forgive and love; and we try to remind each other of the goodness of the Good News of Jesus Christ in our daily (and fairly ordinary) lives together.

That's all a bit more flowery and theological than I normally talk about my family - but as I was pondering how to answer the question of "why stand for moderator?" I realized that truth be told, my heart is with my family and my local church.  My second and significant core calling is as a pastor.  I framed my description of my calling to my family as I did because my calling as pastor flows out of that.  In my congregation, we are also bound together in covenant; we disappoint; we forgive and love; and we try to remind each other of the goodness of the Good News of Jesus Christ in our daily (and fairly ordinary) lives together.

That group of "ordinary people" has realized we serve an "extraordinary God," who has sent and led us out into and among our neighbors and world.  That has been and continues to be our adventure together.

The Lord has seen fit to use this calling and these personal and pastoral gifts in the life of our presbytery, and I have seen how covenantal and grace-filled seeking of truth as a community has blessed and bound together our presbytery.

In a day when our denomination seems to struggle with all of those qualities - covenant, grace, truth, and community - and with the prayerful support of my family, local congregation, and presbytery, I have been convicted to stand and remind the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) of who and whose we are, in Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The full-wall collage in our welcome area and entryway at Good Shepherd.

iPad apps

So, I'm brand new to the world of the iPad.  I had been looking at replacing my trusty HP laptop computer before this summer and was wondering if this was the time to switch to a tablet.  I knew I'd like the portability and light weight of a tablet.  My concern was that I wouldn't be able to do all the things I can do on my laptop with the iPad, with two main concerns:
  1. Could I open, edit, and fully interact with all the Microsoft Word and Excel (and to a lesser degree, Powerpoint) files that I use on a daily basis?
  2. Could I continue to use Dropbox to sync these files between multiple computers (work, hope, laptop/tablet) in the way that has become so very useful to me.
So it turned out I had a birthday a few weeks ago, and grandparents and immediate family conspired to gift me with a new iPad.  (And middle daughter is gunning for the old laptop.)  So suddenly the game is on to see if this thing can replace a full-fledged laptop. I was told that Apple has an office suite called iWork (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) and that it covered the Word, Excel, PowerPoint bases and then some in that "Apple way."  Note that I was an original Mac-user; they just lost me in the late 90s when Mac prices soared and no one in my new work community used them at all.  So, I didn't re-enter until 2009 with the Touch (aka "mini-iPad"). What Do I Think of Pages? meh.  I am a Word power-user.  If all you want to do is type some text and insert a picture and watch the sweet way Pages flows text around it, ok.  But, I quickly found that there was much I was used to doing that it wouldn't do.  (Not to mention, very few of the same fonts.)  I can see using it to knock out a quick letter, but I'm going to want something that matches my formatting on the PC.  And most annoying, there seem to be no keyboard shortcuts.  I'm used to applying bold, italic, and underlining at speed while I type, and in Pages I have to stop and go to the formatting menu.  (Maybe I'm missing something, but I've Googled and Googled and can't find how to use shortcuts.) The Big One: Can't sync my docs! The biggest disappointment was not being able to easily sync my documents in Dropbox.  First-world problem to be sure, but I have become used to (for example) typing half a paragraph of something at work, hitting save, and opening it to that same place when I get home... synced between computers by Dropbox.  It's VERY convenient.  I read up on iCloud, but it doesn't work between Mac and PC, nor does it push the doc down to the local level.  The best I could do without some WebDAV trickery was to e-mail a Pages doc to myself, then open the attachment " Dropbox" in order to save it there where my PC would sync with it. Lest I come across as whining, let me say that I love the iPad so much that I was fully prepared to deal with it and hope that some 'fix' would eventually come out. Solution: QuickOffice Then, continuing to Google and read forums, I decided to try QuickOffice Pro HD, an app that claimed to more closely mimic Word, Excel, and PowerPoint... AND it claimed to integrate with Dropbox (and a number of other cloud storage sites). It's pricey for an app - $19.95.  But, boy is it worth it!  It not only integrates, it does exactly what I wanted.  You can actually connect to multiple cloud sites at once (I use Dropbox, GoogleDocs, Box; and it has 4-5 others)... and they all appear like folders on a hard drive.  You can open directly from there; edit in QuickOffice; and SAVE back over or to the clouds.  And QuickOffice uses common system fonts, including Cambria and Calibri (which is what we've been using as our default at work). QuickOffice is compatible with Word and Excel through the 2010 versions and PowerPoint through the 2003 version.  It also offers 5-6 share sites in addition to the cloud storage sites.  It ALSO saves to PDF!  I highly recommend it for iPad users, especially if you are trying to work with PCs and the clouds.

Role of Moderator

What is this role of "moderator" and what does a moderator do in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)?

The official description:

When the Moderator presides at the assembly, it is to be "a sign of the bond of unity, community, and mission in the life of the church."  Between assemblies, the Moderator serves as an "ambassador of the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace, telling the story of the church's life and upholding the people of God through prayer.  The Moderator of the General Assembly is an "ecclesiastical officer" of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), possessing "the authority necessary for preserving order and for conducting efficiently the business of the governing body."

Specifically, the Moderator of the 220th General Assembly has at least three significant responsibilities:
  1. Moderate and provide leadership and order for the General Assembly meeting of the Church, which is held every two years
  2. Travel as ambassador for Christ and the Church, teaching, speaking, praying, and encouraging this part of the body of Christ that is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and sometimes representing that body to other parts of the broader Church
  3. Appoint members of special committees and task forces created by the electing General Assembly (220th), and appoint chairs to General Assembly committees at the subsequent assembly (221st)

If you really, really want to know a lot more about the role, you can view the Moderatorial Candidates' Handbook from the last General Assembly (2010).  It's 66 pages in length and includes a description of the process for election, some official questions posed to the candidates in 2010, and the bio packets from each of the moderator and vice-moderator candidates.