Sunday, December 4, 2016

the two functions of religion

Richard Rohr was writing last week about the two functions of religion.

The first is to help one's self find it's true identity in God.  We are created by him and loved by him.  We are alive in Christ.  We have a true identity, its in him.

The second function of religion is to eradicate the self.  Rohr quotes Ken Wilbur,  "the second function of religion does not fortify the separate self, but utterly shatters it.  Mature spirituality offers not consolation but devastation, not entrenchment but emptiness, not complacency but explosion, not comfort but revolution.  Rather than bolster our habitual patterns of thinking, it radically transforms our consciousness and gives us what Paul calls the mind of Christ."

It is sad that so many Christians identify themselves by their position, their power, and their possessions.  None of those things matter.  We are all souls on a journey toward God.  We find our identify "in Christ."

Unfortunately, since we find our identity in the wrong things, we hold tightly to the self.  We protect it, even when Jesus calls on us to lose our selves and to die to our selves.

The world would be a much happier place if Christians discovered their true identity and allowed their lives to be spent each day, living each moment as the hands and feet of Christ.

Today is a new day.  Let's give it a try.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

2 friends

Two friends were talking before Thanksgiving.

Friend 1:  "Are you going somewhere for Thanksgiving?"
Friend 2:  "No.  I am hosting Thanksgiving."
Friend 1:  pauses - "Why don't you host Thanksgiving every day?"

I love this story.  Why don't you host Thanksgiving every day?  Why don't I?
Why don't we all recognize that when we are awake to what God is doing in the world, everyday is or should be Thanksgiving.  Let's host it!

It's a beautiful day to be grateful in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, December 2, 2016

another story from my life

It is a Wednesday night in 1974.

          After work one day at the bicycle shop, I drove my blue 63 Ford Galaxie to church for an evening Bible Study.  I sat in the back - on the very back row.  I listened to Pastor Gerald Fry talk about the way that God can touch your heart by the Holy Spirit.  As he spoke, I felt a tingling all over me, as if God had come down and flooded the inside of my body.  With each word that the Pastor spoke, I was struck with a deeper desire to have this God.


            After the study was over and the crowd had disbursed, I went up to the front and asked the pastor to pray for me.  He did.  He prayed for me to have the Holy Spirit.  When I left there, I felt that I did indeed have the Holy Spirit.

Looking back on this story years later, I would not describe this as a conversion, because I was already a Christian.  And I believe that when you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit dwells in you.  So I did not receive the Holy Spirit that night, He was already with me.  But it did seem to be some kind of a quickening or awakening.  All these years later it is still a very good memory that makes me smile.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

a note from a friend

Almost everyone that lives in Cape Coral moved here from somewhere else.  So everyone around here knows what it is like to move away from friends.  Here is a note from one of my KC friends, just telling me about their day.  I was so proud of them and their heart for the kingdom.  😎

it sure is a good thing to be kind and pay it forward.
I was in Chicago for a business meeting all week last week. On Sunday I went to lunch at Ditka’s and ordered two burgers and fries, one of them was to go. In conversation with my server she learned I was getting the second to give to a random homeless person. She was so touched. I found someone on the street and gave it to them. The person was grateful but not extremely so. Oh well I thought they are going through a tough time and I am not to judge their reaction. I felt good.
Later I bought a wrap at Starbucks for another person and later gave someone else some money.
My heart and mind were in a good place that day and I wanted to share my good fortunate with a few other folks.

Oh how stories like this thrill my heart.  Notice that my friend was not concerned that the recipient was not grateful, they were just glad to help.  Friends there is so much joy in helping others.  Remember Jesus ended the story of the Good Samaritan by saying, "go thou and do likewise."

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

in or not in the Bible

There are many famous phrases that people assume are in the Bible.  Two good examples of "not in the Bible but we thought they were" are:

God helps those who help themselves.
and
Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

One that some people regard as a common old saying or colloquialism but actually is in the Bible is this:
Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you.
                                               Luke 6:31
                                               Mt. 7:12

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is not merely a request that we be nice.  It is also an insinuation that we should not retaliate and it can be applied to so many  things in life.  If you are upset about something and wish to lash out, just ask yourself how you would like to be treated if someone was upset with you.  If you are cut off in traffic and want to retaliate, remember the times that you inadvertently or in a hurry popped in front of someone.  How would you like to be treated?

Great advice from Jesus.  That is why it is called the "Golden Rule."

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

stories pt 5


This is part 5 of a series of stories from my life. Earlier posts began a few weeks ago.

I was 16. By this time, I had a growing heart of faith in Christ, but I was also causing my parents some real grief. I was a typical teenage boy.

I purchased a picture from a man who came into the bike shop where I worked. It was a man out on the rocks…a seascape.  It cost about $25 which was a good deal of money for a young man that made $1.50 per hour. I knew that this picture should be my mother’s birthday present on July 19th.

The day came to give her the picture.  Remember, I am a pain in the neck at the time.
She was drinking her morning coffee, sitting in the backyard at the patio table, 4 chairs with a fringed umbrella. She opened the picture just as the sun was coming up over the peak of the house. The edge of the umbrella and the roof-line, cut the sunlight into a beam. The beam of light was fluted by the tassels on the edge of the umbrella. The light looked as though a beam of light was shining from heaven, down upon the man on the rocks.

My mother started to cry. I started to cry. She said, “do you see it?” I said, “I see it.” She said, “that man in the picture is you, and now I know that God will take care of you my son.”

Later in life, when I was going through a rough patch, my mom gave the picture back to me.  She said that I would need to see it more than she did.  The picture has hung in my office for 30 years.  Come by and see it sometime.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, November 28, 2016

election results

I have talked with several people since the presidential election.  Some are happy, some are sad.  I heard a speaker talk recently about the joy or disappointment of who won and who lost.  He reminded the audience that for Christians, our identity does not spring from Trump or Clinton, Democrat or Republican, or winning or losing.

Our identity is found in Jesus Christ.  We are created in the image of God.  We are his children and we have to remember this before all other concerns.  We belong to our Father.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Celebrate Recovery

I had heard of the program "Celebrate Recovery" while living in Kansas City.  Cape Coral First hosts the program on Monday night.  Although many think of it as a place for those recovering from alcohol or drugs [and it is] it is also a place for anyone with a hurt, a habit or a hangup.

That takes in most of us.

At CR the worship service has a tone of reality and intensity that you don't always find in most churches on Sunday mornings.  The discussion, the prayers and the determination is inspirational.  You know that every person there is deeply seeking God.  No one is going through the motions.

If you have a hurt, a habit or a hang up, you may want to try CR.  It meets every Monday night and everyone is welcome.  There is a light dinner from 6-6:45, then worship and 7 and small group at 8 if you choose to stay for that.

Too many people live with hurt when help is right around the corner.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Eckhardt

Eckhart von Hochheim (1260 – 1328), commonly known as Meister Eckhart was a German Catholic Priest of the Dominican order. He is a revered and studied, theologian, philosopher and mystic.

About all I really remember about the guy is this quote:

If the only prayer you learned in your whole life was, "thank you," that would be enough.
                                                                           ~Meister Eckhart

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, November 25, 2016

thankful

How did you feel when you awoke this day?  Happy? Sad?  How do you feel about the day before you?

I don't know who said this, but I think it is true:  "If you can find one thing to be thankful for, and keep focused on that, everything changes."  In other words, my entire composure can turn for the better simply because I am focusing on a positive.

Gratitude is so powerful.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful

Today I am thankful for many things.

I am thankful for my family.
I am thankful for grace.  The forgiveness that God and others give to me and the same that I can offer to others.
I am thankful for food.  So many people around the world are hungry today.
I am thankful for the chances that we have to help others and the joy that comes into our lives when we learn to live outside of ourselves.
I am thankful for friends, old and new.
I am thankful for the gift of life itself.  To be alive, to live, to breathe, to see, to think.  Life is such an amazing gift from our Father.

I am thankful for you.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

tomorrow

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.  It always makes me remember that famous French General Napoleon.  He hated Thanksgiving.  It was his worst holiday.

Why, you ask?

Because anytime Napoleon sat down to a dinner of Thanksgiving turkey, all he ever got were the bony parts.

That is one of my all time favorite jokes. 😊

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

stories pt 4


It was the next to the last day of 8th grade. I had not missed a day of school in two years. I was trying for perfect attendance in Jr. High. We were walking home from school and my head and neck hurt. I still remember that. I moped around. I missed school the next day. I ended up in bed. My head was feeling progressively worse. I was stuck in bed. This went on for a week. I begged my parents to take me to the Doctor. They were fairly reluctant to do so, and figured that I would get over it. Finally they relented. The doctor took one look at me and put me in the hospital.

They explained to me that I had meningitis and proceeded to do a spinal tap on me. I was 13 years old. I was in such pain; the spinal tap did not bother me too much.

This was in the old days when visiting hours were enforced and hippa laws did not exist.  The doctors explained my condition in a manner that I knew I was pretty sick.  I remember them telling my mom that the next 24 hours would tell if I lived or died.

Late one night while I was in the hospital alone, I awoke in the middle of the night. At the foot of my bed was an angel. It looked like an angel or a heavenly Jesus. I don’t know why, but I said to the being, “If you let me live, I will give my life to you.” I don't know why I said that - I was just a kid.

I got better. That last spinal tap was a real nasty experience. As striking as this experience was, the significance of it never really registered until other things began to happen to me later in life.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, November 21, 2016

stories about me 3


Your first Prayer. Your first spiritual thought.

When was your first spiritual thought that was truly your own? Mine was in the summer of 1969. We were moving to California. I was 12. I felt that I had made a mess of my life to that point…..which is an interesting thought for a 12 year old. Actually a terrible thought for a 12 year old..........

I remember sitting in my room. It was full of packed boxes. Tomorrow the movers were coming. I remember sitting there, forlorn, and sad because I was moving, sad because I had “ruined” my friendships and because I was not popular, and hopeful that I was going to get a new start in California. I prayed a sincere prayer,” Lord, help me to make new friends in California.” I have always remembered that moment. It was my first sincere prayer.

Sincere prayers are good.  A great question to ask about your prayers is this.... "was I sincere?"  That is all that matters.  I must believe that God honors sincerity.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

stories about me 2

I was in church every Sunday growing up.  No exceptions.

We got to take one toy.  I always took a G.I. Joe.  In my childhood, children were to be seen and not heard.

When I was in third grade, I was walking out of church with my mom.  We were in line to shake hands.  Pastor Koenig asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.

First, being a good Lutheran, I told him the truth:  "I want to be a football player."
Then, because I felt sorry for him, I also said, at the age of 9, "I want to be a football player, or a Pastor."

I have no idea why I said that. I was a kid.  It is a mysterious moment in my memories.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Hello Scott C

Saturday, November 19, 2016

stories about me

Although I have no imminent sense of my demise, I am going to post some of my most private stories over the next few weeks.  Stories that I have not told.  Stories that introverts hold close.  Stories that are random, stories that may or may not mean something to you.

Here is the first one.

I was born on July 5, 1957 at St. Luke's hospital in Kansas City.  I was baptized on Sunday July 14th, 1957 at the Zion Lutheran Church at 75th and Belinder in Prairie Village, Kansas by Pastor Fred Koenig.  [today it is no longer a Lutheran Church, I think that the church is known as the Mercy Church.]

My mom, who was a mess most of her life, told me on several occasions that my first smile was the during that baptism.

A smile at your baptism?  Sounds like a good start to life.  I have always taken a sense of joy in that first smile.

It is a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, November 18, 2016

freewill

Someone asked me about free will the other day.  They said that they don't see much of it in the Bible, especially in the old testament.

I would first say this, if you read the Bible looking for a God that seems to control everything, you can find that God.  But if you read the Bible looking for a God that seems to give people room and allows people to exercise their free will, you can find a good deal of that as well.

Samson was not forced to tie the foxes tails together.  He chose to do that.
Moses pushed back on God but finally accepted the job of leading Israel.
Peter chose to deny Jesus.
Jesus chose to go to the cross.

On and on we could go.
The question is, do we want to believe that we are marionettes or do we want to believe that we have choices.  I don't think that we glorify God when we blame everything on him.  I do believe that God is pleased when we make choices that are pleasing to him.

So live.  L.I.V.E. Live.  God has given you the gift of choice.  Choose well.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

On winning

When our teams win, we are happy.  When our teams lose, we are unhappy.  I think that too much of our egos are tied up in the fate of our sports teams.

Remember that when your team wins and you are happy, there is an entire other group of people that are unhappy.  And remember that when your team loses, someone somewhere who was rooting for their team is happy.

It is ok to want other people to be happy.  We are not going to win all the time.  Other fans have the right to celebrate from time to time.  In this life we need to share the love.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

servers

Since I am alone a lot, I eat at local restaurants from time to time.  If there is a server that I like, I might give them $5 as they walk by, even if they are not my server.  They ask me "why?"  I tell them that I am sure that someone shorted them today and so I am just making up for that.

One server flat out told me "no" the other day and I said to them, "oh, please don't rob me of the chance to be nice to you.  If you prefer, take it and give it to someone else."  They took the money.

Sometimes folks are so surprised by kindness that they don't know what to do.  Next time you do a random act of kindness and are resisted by the intended recipient, just tell them that it makes you happy to be nice, please don't rob me of the chance to be kind to you.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

nothing to say

It is hard to blog every day when some days you feel like you have nothing to say.  I thank my friend Lions Den Man for stepping in to cover for me in times like that.

Sometimes life is hectic.  Sometimes my brain or heart might be running low.  Some days it is hard to know what to write.  If you have days like that, well you are not alone.  Stay with it.  Keep going.  Keep living.  Keep caring.  Things almost always get better.

Spend time with those who love you and give your heart some room for your smile to return.  Resting is allowed.  Sabbath is encouraged.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, November 14, 2016

society

A few years back a movie called “Into the Wild” was made about a young man who chooses to drop out of society.  I heard a song from the movie the other night. Sad to say I never listened to the lyrics until that moment. They have me thinking…..

Society – Eddie Vedder

it's a mystery to me
We have a greed
With which we have agreed

You think you have to want
More than you need
Until you have it all you won't be free

Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me

When you want more than you have
You think you need
And when you think more than you want
Your thoughts begin to bleed

I think I need to find a bigger place
'Cause when you have more than you think
You need more space

Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me

Society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me
There's those thinking more or less less is more
But if less is more how you're keeping score?
Means for every point you make
Your level…

Peace,
Lion’s Den Man

Sunday, November 13, 2016

simple works


A prayer was given to close and send us on our way last week at the WCC Men’s Gathering. It followed a thought provoking talk about the times we are experiencing here in the United States. Concerns maybe we all have were brought forth.  Dealing with them using the teachings of Christ help put them in perspective.

The sending prayer message was simple and simply perfect. Guide us Lord. Guide us.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Saturday, November 12, 2016

good motto


Things happen. Life happens. Blink. Blink. Blink.
Choices. Good. Choices Bad.
Reflect. Don’t dwell. Learn. Move forward.

“I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for those character-building situations. Mistakes are stepping stones to an evolving life. “

Motto -. “It’s a new day. Clean the Slate.”

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Friday, November 11, 2016

designed with a purpose


My wife and I took a trip a few weeks back to the Crystal Bridges Museum. The main purpose for this visit was to tour the Frank Lloyd Wright home they now have on site. Many take-aways for me but the one that stuck most was when our tour guide pointed out the intention of the home’s design. “To push you out of spaces of little value and into spaces where you are forced to be social with man and interactive with nature.”

Maybe it’s just me but I think we need more places like this.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Thursday, November 10, 2016

I'm normal

So I have gotten into the habit of adding these words when someone introduces me as their pastor.
If they say, "this is Jeff Brinkman, my pastor."
I have started saying, "yes but I am normal."

Someone called me out on that the other day.  They asked if I was saying that other pastors are not normal.  Well, that is not what I mean at all.

What I mean is that many people expect a pastor to judge them or guilt them.  Sometimes pastors come across as above you.  I reject this.  I will not judge you or guilt you.  And I am not above anyone.  The spiritual life is something that we do together.

I am normal.  Sort of.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

lose on purpose

I heard a story the other day about a married couple that had this rule.

If there ever is an argument, the one that apologizes first, wins.

I love it.  Go home and lose an argument.  The person that you live with is more important than who is right or wrong.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

critter

A critter had taken up residence on my back porch [lanai] at the parsonage.  I never saw it, but I saw the results of it's bathroom breaks.  From the size of the droppings, I thought that this was a big mouse or a rat.  I wondered how something like that could get into the porch and where it was living.

I got tired of cleaning up after it, and I was tired of not knowing what was out there, so I got some glue traps and put them in strategic locations.  About a week later, I captured the culprit.  One really big lizard, and boy did he eat a lot.

I'm sorry for his family and friends, but at least now the patio is clean again.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, November 7, 2016

question

A friend of mine recently wrote and asked a question:

If God's will be done and our life is pre-written, why should we spend time asking God for favors or to change things? Maybe we should just thank him for the blessings we have? Bewildered...


I wrote back: I don't believe that it is all pre-written. I believe in free will, that we have choices and our choices matter. Having said that, I also believe that gratitude is among the most noble of character traits.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 
 1 Thessalonians 5:18

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

I thought of you today

I thought of you today.  With joy and a deep sense of appreciation, I thought of you.

Then I got to thinking about how nice it is to know that someone is thinking of you with warmth in their heart.  I am so glad that our Father is thinking of us, and thinking of us with grace and love.

I thought of you today.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

What is important

I received the following from my friend Dave Templeman.  He is a great guy and wrote this on his blog about his friend and coworker.  I thought it was worth sharing.  You can read this on his web site at http://www.thatjobguy.com/2016/10/whats-important/

In February of this year my friend and colleague Jeff McMahill was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The survival rate for his particular strain (Burkitts) is anywhere from a 30% – 91% depending on the level of risk. Jeff was diagnosed at Stage 3 but being an otherwise overly healthy male the doctors were confident he would be on the upper end of that range. I knew it would be a difficult recovery but have been completely optimistic he would survive this horrid disease. My heart was broken last week when doctors told him that treatment had not eradicated the cancer, it is now growing out of control, they are out of options, and it is time to call hospice.

Tuesday, October 25th my friend Jeff was told he had a month left.

In the week since that awful day his family has not left his side. Dozens of friends have been to see him, many who leave with a heart wrenching goodbye hug. But amidst the profound sadness has been the sound of laughter as we reminisce over a life well lived. Jeff does not want to spend these last days alone. He is surrounding himself with those who love him and rather than simply die, he’s living his last days to their fullest.

What’s important to Jeff right now should be important to us all. The stuff means nothing. What’s important is the relationships we build throughout our lives. The experiences we share together.

Jeff and his wife Annie went to New York last year for Game Four of the World Series. I remember Jeff telling me he wasn’t sure why they were spending so much money on a single baseball game, but he spent it because who knows when the Royals would be back in the World Series. The Royals lost the game they attended, but the next evening at a NYC bar full of Royals fans while everyone else poured their champagne into glasses, Jeff sprayed his bottle all over complete strangers.

That’s how Jeff is, and that’s how I’ll remember him. A man full of life, loved by all who had the privilege of calling him friend.

Bank accounts can be rebuilt. Broken relationships can be repaired. You can always get more “stuff.” Time is the only thing you can’t get back.

Cherish every moment – the clock is ticking for us all.

And it is a beautiful and precious day in God's world, be sure to see the good.