Saturday, April 30, 2011


Sports Illustrated recently had an article about Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. If you do not follow baseball, Bud has been as innovative in bringing traditional-bound baseball into the 21st (okay, maybe the 20th) Century as his name is unremarkable. He has best been described as bland, slow and indecisive. As one baseball executive put it, as "the guy who always has a hot dog in his hand and mustard on his face."


Now here's the deal. Bud is not about "image" but substance. "I love baseball.... I will do whatever I think will help baseball." Bud makes things happen.


Too often, we choose image over substance. Glitter, glamor, bravado, swagger and status influence us in our choices of presidents, news anchors and, even churches.


Jesus said, "Look at the fruit." What kind of trail does the person leave behind? People of status claimed he worked for the devil and ultimately did away with him. His substance was such that we still follow him 2 millennium latter. Maybe God should have named him "Bud."


What trail are you leaving behind? Which one will you follow? May it ooze Bud-ness. Play to a crowd of One: God. Jesus called disciples who had a hot dog (kosher, of course) in one hand and mustard on their face. And they changed the world.


Look in the mirror. I hope you find mustard.

St. Andrew's Lenten Discipline Results

2011 Campaign of Kindness Results

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church

Pearland, Texas

Japan Donations

Episcopal Relief and Development

 $   1,600.00



 $   3,492.00


Lord of the Streets

 $   1,561.00

Board Games

DePelchin Children's Center

 $      900.00

Stuffed Animals

Shriner's Children's Hospital

 $      672.00


Open Arms

 $   3,235.00

Reading Glasses

Episcopal Homeless Initiative

 $      440.00






 $ 11,900.00




Wednesday, April 27, 2011


"Isn't he cute?!" Well, actually, he (or she) could use some boundaries. Public behavior has become "over the top." My mom continually coached (at times, disciplined) me in the art of respecting personal boundaries in public. I had to be aware always how my freedom might come to bear negatively (diminish life) on others in my midst.


Today, I think boundaries are thought of a stifling personality or creativity. This is far from true. God tells us that real living is found within boundaries. No boundaries, no life. The 10 Commandments are boundaries that produce life (and without which, reduce life.) Even Jesus' single command to love as he did, encourages boundaries. Love is not a "feeling" (no boundaries) here but a strategy to draw life out of the bleakest situations through honoring the "other" by limiting myself.


One of my favorite prayers from the Book of Common Prayer states that service to God is "perfect freedom." Boundaries produce real freedom, real life. Jesus reiterated over and over (paraphrase,) "Die to live." Again, boundaries produce life.


How are your boundaries? If you have kids or grand kids, how are theirs? How are you shaping their respect for God and others through boundaries? Die to live!

King James Bible

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Today, a politician was labeled a flip-flopper by the opposition. Routine stuff. The name has taken on the poison that used to be reserved for felons. The new worst sin: flip-flopping. The real villain is a person who changes her mind. Bull.


I thought changing our minds was part of maturing. In youth, we hold opinions with a vise grip. As we mature (not age: aging people may not mature,) we see the other side, embrace the bigger picture, incorporate personal experiences, and move farther from viewing all the world from only our vantage point.


I believe that, to follow Christ, one must change one's mind. Not always. Not willy nilly. But we must change our mind. God has a place for flip-floppers.


for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

(Romans 3:23)


If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

(1 John 1:8)


Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

(Romans 12:2)


When have you changed your mind about a long held view because God has called you to a deeper life? Where is God working on you right now to change your mind?


May you faithfully flip-flop.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Quick tally. Was there more candy or more Jesus in your Easter? While I realize that this is an apples and oranges comparison quantitatively (okay, maybe you count "pew" time,) I am asking you and me this questions qualitatively. That is, is Jesus the centerpiece of your Easter?


I like easy fixes and things that make me feel good right now. I think most of us do. If I have to think about it or work at it, no so much. Yet, almost nothing worthwhile comes easy. And, most of us teach our children and grandchildren that following feelings can too easily get us into trouble sexually, financially, occupationally and chemically (drugs.)


At first, the Resurrection is kinda big and not at all as tasty as a chocolate bunny (or Cadbury egg!) Stick with it and with Christ. The pay off in the quality of life is immeasurable. The Resurrection means that, ultimately, nothing can do us in and everything will be made new. Don't turn away just because "ultimately" is too long for you or "made new" is a bit vague. Trust God. Follow Jesus in every aspect of life. That is, after all, the Resurrected Life.


Happy Easter.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Rev. Dr. Bill Green

In Memory of a Mentor and Friend, The Rev. Dr. Bill Green, one of his prayers…


O Eternal Lord, the first and the last: We whose lives are so full of poor beginnings and bad endings turn to thee that our souls may be restored and our strength renewed. Keep us from demanding that perfection which life never promises, or from claiming exemption from that suffering which is the lot of all. Show us, whatever befalls, that thy grace is sufficient and that nothing can separate us from thy love revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen


Wednesday, April 20, 2011




In the movie Soul Surfer, Bethany's youth minister shows close-up pictures of everyday items in order to show how perspective changes things. Close up, I don't know what it is. With perspective (and maybe distance,) I have a better handle on things.


This Thursday, a few will trickle into church for Maundy Thursday. This is a day filled with images. One of them is Jesus instituting the Lord's Supper. He literally says to us, "Do this so you do not forget."


In the Episcopal Church, we believe that Christ is in, with, under, around, through (please feel free to add your own) our Eucharist and its People. It is a powerful mystery that can literally change willing lives.


Here the questions. Have we lost perspective? Has Communion become on a par with sleeping in, a ball game, doting on visiting company, or shopping? Or is it a profound and necessary mystery that fuels our life?

Monday, April 18, 2011


September 1972. Married two years. No job. Fresh out of school. What is the most logical move?


Hey, I was 22. I did not make logical moves. We packed up our Toyota with our life and headed west from New York City. My wife had threatened to leave me but changed her mind. "We're going to what?!" We are going to, "Go, hun."


For the next month, we saw all the sites few saw. Stayed at Motel 6 (then $6.66 a single, $7.77 a night for a double. 25 cents for an hour of TV.) To Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles to Salt Lake to Cheyenne to Boulder. In Boulder, we stayed in my college roommate's living room (with 3 other guys.) Was unemployed for 6 months. Then life opened up.


I was no Abraham, leaving home for noble reasons. God was calling but I was not listening at the time. Yet, as we look back, we see God's hand in our life then, even as we refused to acknowledge him in ours.


There is a fine line between divinely inspired risk and stupidity and I am not sure where to find it. But I think we risk too little today. As a result, we live punier lives than God has imagined for us. Safety can not only be boring, it can be fatal.


Maybe what needs to die on the Cross Friday is the perception of and the investment in "safety."


'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where

 you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.

So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground.

See, here is what belongs to you.'

Matthew 25:24b-25

Sunday, April 17, 2011


The other day, I got mad at an inanimate object. A washing machine.  It had migrated in front of the laundry room door, blocking entry. A regular Rubics Cube of a domestic situation. As a rational priestly type, I prayed.


Did you really believe that?!! I went ballistic, far outstripping any rational response to a bad situation. Using brut force (and not well, I might add,) I slammed the door till the washer move just enough for my wife to slip in, climb over the washer and put it back. An "unrepeatable in any lab" spaghetti knot of apron strings (grand kids Easter eggs) had moved the entire load to one side of the drum.


Where does that anger come from? I realize my issue is not tied to cleanliness but to sin. I am holding on to something that belongs to Christ. I am not okay and my insisting that I am keeps me from my resurrected self. His death laid claim to my shortcomings, known and unknown. I ask for the enlightenment to let go.


What are you holding onto that weighs you down, lying in the background and you have gotten used to it? It is not normal. Pray that each of us turns over to Christ our burdens. He claimed them in our bad behavior at the Cross.

Lent Madness Finals

Goooooooooooooooooal! The Lent Madness Finals went down to the wire with a 2 pointer at the buzzer for the Pumpkin Patch to win it all over the Breakfast Club, 64-62. The Fellowship Conference representative, Breakfast Club had a strong first half with the 8 am worshipers who went for Breakfast. However the Outreach Conference Pumpkin Patch had a strong 2nd half with the 10:30 bench coming in for a last second hoop. Both power conference teams should be proud.  Till next Lent, see you at breakfast. First pumpkin unloading – September 24th.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Here is a Small Group Experience for You

Small group at the Balberg's home (near church)

Starting May 6 for four weeks

6:30-8:30 pm


Dinner first, then a short video with discussion afterwards

Children welcome


RSVP to Kathy Balberg 832-228-4104


Paul the Apostle-What Culture Doesn't Want you to Hear

Has anything really changed in 2000 years?


Americans live in a culture that places high emphasis on entertainment, achievement and self. It's increasingly difficult for Scriptural Truth to cut through the noise and sink into our hearts. But when we stop and study Scripture, the culture we live in faces the same problems as the early church.


In these four small group video sessions, David Nasser uses the life of Paul to highlight how followers of Christ can stand up to cultural "norms" and stand firm in Christ.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Long Haul

Recently, I experienced a wedding. Not one I officiated at. Thousands of dollars spent on the wedding. A carriage. Megaphotgrapher. Caribbean honeymoon. Months of planning. Move into a house right away.

41 years ago, I married Christine. My drunk fraternity brother took pictures. We had no honeymoon, instead heading back to work (so we did not lose the job.) We had a one room apartment overlooking the shipyards. Much more low key. We have had a great marriage. Not without its up's and down's. But great.

I ponder. We spend infinite money, energy and time on the wedding. The Event. Yet very little time on the marriage. People tell me they have little time or money for a class, counseling, or even dating their spouse. The point of the wedding was the marriage. The point of the marriage is not the wedding. Too often, when the events of wedding, jobs, child-rearing are over, two people look at each other and say, in effect, "Who are you?"

We like big, flashy, new events. We post them on Facebook. We tell our friends. Long glacial stuff: not so much. Short high's have to do with things. Long haul stuff has to do with relationships. There is nothing wrong with a few short high' points. They do not, however, make for a rich life.

I believe "long haul" beats a series of "short high's" in the end.  What long haul relationship are you cultivating?

Sunday, April 10, 2011




I spent this past Saturday watching my 9 year old grandson at a surfing competition. I wanted to see him at a venue where he thrived. He has many awards. School has been difficult for him. He can be quite a handful.


I walked along the beach with him and his mother, also a surfer. I was amused when the 20something guy surfers overlooked his mom but came up to my grandson, "S'up, dude?" A high five followed. They knew him as a fellow competitive surfer. He was a whole other person. He loved the beach even when not surfing.


You don't really get to know a person until you see them in their "element." Our element is that place where we shine. Our element provides us with a sense of competency and safety as well as a bit of predictability.


I began to think. How many people are not in there element when we interact with them? How many have never found their element?  What is my element? Since most of the people I know I see at church, is church their element? I doubt it. How much more there is to my parish.


Jesus provided "element" to those he met. He brought out the best in people. Many of whom society had written off.


I want to create a space for people to be in their element when they are with me. I want to help people find their element and live in it as much as possible.


Jesus, help me provide element for others.

Final Four Lent Madness Summary

In a surprise upset for a church that favors Outreach, The Breakfast Club, out of the Fellowship Conference, beat The Church Has Left The Building representing the Outreach Conference, 62-46. In the late game, The Pumpkin Patch, also representing the Outreach Conference, lasted the Band from the Worship League, 74-40.


The Championship Game will be…



Fellowship Conference                  Outreach Conference


The Breakfast Club        vs            The Pumpkin Patch



Las Vegas odds, take Pumpkin Patch -10 due to home court advantage.


Vote Palm Sunday, 4/17/11.




The Rev. Jim Liberatore, Rector
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church




Thursday, April 7, 2011




A while back, I thanked by name the mentors in my life, the people who helped shape me and helped me to shape myself. Rick, Leo, Carl, and John. There are some others. Mentors are people who invest in you and expect nothing in return. They can love and encourage you but they can kick you in the butt and tell you to think again just as easily.


God supplies the raw materials and the ability to become more fully me and more fully human. God's gift is a mentor, a person who knows where this is going. A person that can point us in the right direction. Jesus is the Prime Mentor.  I have noticed that people don't like mentors as much today, preferring the "do-it-yourself" mode of growth. Pity.


Here's a question:

Whose life will be better because you believed in them?


I planted the seed, Apollos watered it,

but God has been making it grow.

1 Corinthians 3:6

Monday, April 4, 2011


Sunday's Gospel reading was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long. Good story but minds wandered in an oral recitation. It took too much time.


Most everyone tells me that they do not have enough time. Since time was God's idea, I wondered. Is God "off duty" and forgot about us? Did God make a faulty universe that needed 29 hour days? Was God unaware of our needs?


I frame my questions in my usual way. It's all about me. I could have framed them this way. Am I off duty and have forgotten God? Is the universe I created (and of which I am the supreme ruler) faulty and might I want to check under the hood of this world I created?  Am I unaware of God's desires for me?


Jesus talks about and lives in a different time: the right time, the pregnant moment, the fullness of time, the proper time. I live in the pressure of time's-a-wasting, crush of time, never enough time, just in time, there's no time.


Could it be that Jesus has been trying to usher me into a new way of keeping time? He said; mind God's business and you'd be amazed how everything else takes care of itself. God tells us that there is a time for everything.


Ask God to teach you how to tell time, his time. How to choose wisely. How to say "no" when it is needed (He gets most of our "no's.) And when to say "yes." The pressure's off. There is enough time. For a follower.


2 Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint;
   heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.
3 My soul is in deep anguish.
   How long, LORD, how long?

 4 Turn, LORD, and deliver me;
   save me because of your unfailing love.

                                                                                    Psalm 6:2-4

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Scripture Bullets

I live in Texas. We carry fire arms. I don't but it's fine with me if you must. However, I have notice another "assault weapon" of late with which I am concerned. Scripture Bullets.
Scripture Bullets are used to cut off faithful conversation. To reduce another for whom Jesus died and rose to a non-entity. Here's how it works. I quote scripture to your oh so obviously faulty thought and, voila, you're dead. Okay, not physically dead. Maybe more like a Taser, I leave you stunned and immobile (or, at least, I shut you up.) On occasion, you have a Scripture Bullet to put in play as well. Uh oh, winged me!
Just quoting scripture is considered the trump card. I win. There is nothing else to say. If you do not have a complete ammo belt of scripture, I can, at the very least, out last you.It's way more fun if your belt is fairly empty.
I (and, yes, I am opening myself to be wounded) believe Holy Scripture is the Word of God and contains all things necessary for salvation. It's not much help in roasting a turkey or finding the other sock that escaped in the dryer. I do not believe that Scripture is self-interpreting and, when interpreted, it is done by sinners. That being said, what I mean is, the Bible in an open invitation to explore God (and be explored by God,) myself and my fellow humans and it its insight is spot on. By explore, I me explore the Truth about us all. I don't mean accurate in the historical sense, although it may be. But accurate in the, "Whoa, God, you got me pegged" sense or the "Wow! I didn't know I had that in me" sense. In the end, you and I need to take it where we believe God is leading us, either with all the community, a few or all alone.
Since the Bible is not self interpreting and should be taken as a whole and not simply favorite snippets, can't we talk? Will our whole faith collapse if we think a new thought or wonder? Son, back away from that there Bible and engage me in a conversation. I have the safety on.

Lent Madness Continues

Well, the Elite 8 is now down to the Final 4. Be here in Houston, host of the 2011 Final Four, next Sunday to vote two ministries into the Championship match. Completion has been good; however, the Sunday Breakfast Club has been accused in a "bacon for play" alumni scheme. They are currently under investigation.


In this week's action;


Pumpkin Patch humiliated Cinderella "Head Start Christmas," 90 to10. The Patch will face the Band in the Final Four. The Band pulled of an upset victory over the Campaign of Kindness 52-46. It was a bittersweet win, leaving the Band feeling somewhat guilty for beating up on a mid-level conference foe dedicated to charity.



In the other bracket, The Church Has Left the Building trounced the Staff, 62-40, with the Staff vowing to opt out of TCHLTB play in the future for running up the score. TCHLTB will meet the Breakfast Club who beat the Acolytes, 58-44, after feeding them 100 pounds of pancakes, slowing their game down considerably.


Match up's for the Final Four


Pumpkin Patch vs. The Band (take the Band and 25 points)

Breakfast Club vs. The Church Has Left The Building (even)