Friday, July 1, 2016

why i am a Methodist

There are many reasons why I am a Methodist.  I am writing this for someone that I love that sometimes considers going to another denomination, but it is good practice for me and good info to keep in mind.

Why I am a Methodist.  In no particular order.....

1.  Methodists focus on grace.  God so loved the world.  Church should feel like good news, not a guilty reminder of how bad we are.  Everyone knows they are sinners, what we need to remind each other is that although we are sinners, we are still loved by God.  Jesus ran with sinners.  Methodists focus on grace.

2.  Methodists generally [at least this Methodist] does not make a big deal out of peripheral ideas or doctrines.  Baptism is not a heaven or hell issue.  Get over it.  Some folks spend so much time on the parsley of the Christian life that they miss the main meal.  Keep the main thing the main thing.  On everything else, think and let think.

3.  Methodists welcome everyone.  This is how the Kingdom works.  I don't agree with everyone or everything, but everyone is welcomed.  No one will be shamed on my watch, ever.

4.  Methodists care about the poor and needy and actually try to do something about it.  From the days of John Wesley until today, Methodists are engaged in giving themselves away.  I love this aspect of faith that is so often neglected.  Is it really Christianity if we are not missionally engaged?

5.  Methodists are ok worshiping with folks that are different than they are.  Not everyone has to vote like me or think what I think about the Bible to worship at the same place.

6.  Methodists have stuck with the historic principles of faith.  Dispensationalism is not Biblical and it is a newcomer to Christian teaching showing up around 1850.  The church survived for 1800 years without it.  It is not a helpful addition to the discussion of Christian belief because it causes people to spend years thinking about the second coming instead of living and loving now, today.

7.  Methodists can live the same way 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.  Some Christians pray really loud in church on Sunday, but then act like "normal" people the rest of the week.  When they pray over lunch at Applebees, they don't raise their hands and shout.   Some Christians listen to sermons about drinking on Sunday and pretend like they don't but then rush off for a beer whenever they can.  Methodists don't have to pretend about who they are.  You can be the same every day of the week.  This is a faith for normal, real, human people.  Read the book - Jesus actually did turn the water into wine.

8.  Methodists know that they don't know everything.  No church, no pastor, no denomination knows it all.  God only has the answers.  Methodists don't act like they know everything.

9.  Methodists focus on the essentials of faith.  God created the world, people sinned, God send Jesus Christ to save us, when we choose him we are forgiven and we begin a new life.  Pretty basic.  Nothing more is needed.

10.  Love.  I started w grace,  I will end with love.  1 Jn 4 says, God is love.  The greatest commandment is that we would love the Lord with our heart soul mind and strength, and then we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Humans love to make things complicated.  God makes it so simple if we would just pay attention:  love.

If you are looking for a church home, I invite you to find a Methodist church.  If you are thinking about leaving your Methodist church, please reread this post and think about what some of the alternatives are that are out there.  We are not a perfect church, but I am glad to be a United Methodist Christian.

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

Thursday, June 30, 2016


We talk about knowing God and knowing Jesus.  This is good, but when you know someone completely, there is a sense in that you understand everything about them.  This will never totally happen in terms of our relationship with God, at least not on this earth.

Paul wrote in 1 Cor 13 "now I see in part and I know in part, but the day is coming when I will know fully, as I am fully known" [JB paraphrase]

So there will always be this sense of "unknowing."  A sense that we are a part of something amazing, awe inspiring and incredible.  If you have ever stood at the beach or the grand canyon and the sight took your breath away, this is what I am referring to.  Imagine your relationship with God as something that totally takes your breath away.

He is so amazing, so big, so incredible.  We don't control him.  We don't insist that he fits into this size of a box.  We simply stand in awe and experience the amazing joy of being loved by that which is higher and greater than we are.  This is what praise is all about- recognizing that God is big, incredible and beyond the grip of my broken humanness.

Take in a deep breath of the amazing God and have a wonderful day.

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


There is an article on yahoo news about manipulation. I was up in the middle of the night for some reason, I read it and I wanted to share the high points with you. The article is about how to tell if you are dating someone who is manipulative, but the points apply well to any relationship.

here is the link if you want to read the entire thing. The bold in his blog is theirs, the comments afterwards are mine......

Psychology today defines manipulation as "the exercise of undue influence through mental distortion and emotional exploitation, with the intention to seize power, control, benefits, and privileges at the victim’s expense.”

1. They always want to know what you’re doing and who you’re seeing.

when people have to control you, it is not healthy........

2. You find yourself apologizing a lot to them for things you didn’t really think you did wrong.

in a healthy relationship you are celebrated and loved, not guilted or shamed.

3. You feel like they’re constantly judging you.

oh boy we all love that don't we?  judgment is the opposite of love.  Unconditional love accepts people as they are.

4. They say they forgive you but they don’t ever let you forget what you’ve done.

when you keep bringing up how someone did you wrong, you are filling your life and theirs with hurt.

5. You feel like you have to change parts of your personality to fit their moods.

in a real relationship, people not only allow you to be yourself, but they encourage you to do so.

6. They know your weaknesses and use them against you.

nice.  this is a very sick person.

7. You’ve given up on things in your life (things that you love) because they want you to.

how crazy is that?  if you want to go to Chicago for a weekend w your friends, you should be able to do that.  If you want to learn to bowl or ride horses, you should be able to do that.

8. They say you’re a “good girlfriend/boyfriend” if you do a list of certain things.

wow.  I hope no one who reads this blog is suffering in a relationship like this, but I know better.  Friends, life is good and it is to be lived!  Life is too short to waste it being treated poorly.  Step out into the light and live.  You will be glad that you did.

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Yesterday afternoon for the first time in six weeks, I felt normal.  For a brief window I felt good.  I have been sick at heart over leaving.  Sick to my stomach over change.  Worried about how I will fit in at Cape Coral.  Just general discomfort.  It's embarrassing to be a pastor and feel so all messed up inside.

So, I was really happy when yesterday afternoon, I started to feel normal.  Everything will be ok.  Everything is ok.  My friends in KC will be fine.  We can stay in touch.  I am making new friends in Cape - I can see it happening.

It is so nice to feel normal.  Let's see how long it lasts.

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

it's not always my fault

Usually when I can't find something, it is because I am not paying attention.  I put my keys down and then later I can't find them.

Well I have learned that I know where they are at.... right where I left them!!  It is frustrating to lose a thing like a checkbook or set of keys.  I also feel guilty about it because I would think a really spiritual person would be more awake and pay more attention to life.

Anyway, it isn't always my fault.  Sometimes, I was doing everything that I could and an outside force hid my item... in this case my wallet.

I looked for this wallet for 30 minutes......... finally I looked at this big fat lazy cat and I wondered if she was on top of it.  Sure enough, when you look close, you can see that she was trying to make off with my wallet.

I'm glad that I can blame this one on her, but I still want to pay attention to life.  Every moment, every act, every day.

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

Sunday, June 26, 2016

the way of grace

I posted these some years ago, but the thoughts have been on my mind recently.  My friend Michael Scott reminded me that when you feel like you want to be vindictive, don't.  

These are quotes from the movie the Tree of Life starring Brad Pitt.  

"The only way to be happy is to love.  Unless you love, your life will flash by. 
There are two ways through life- the way of nature and the way of grace.  You have to choose which one you will follow.

Grace doesn't try to please itself.  It accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked.  It accepts insults and injuries.

Nature only wants to please itself, to get others to please it too.  It likes to lord it over them, to have its own way.  It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it.  And love is smiling through all things.

No one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.
No one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.
No one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.
No one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.

I will be true to grace, no matter what comes."

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

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Every time you move there are casualties. Broken dishes, lost items,scratched up things. When I was 12 years old and we moved from Kansas City to San Jose, California, our entire moving truck got lost for a week. Turns out later that the driver had decided to stop in Vegas for a vacation. My mom was furious!!

So we have lots of boxes to open, and we still have to move stuff from Vero Beach to Cape Coral, but so far, this is the only casualty that I have found.  St Francis lost his head!  

Well I love St Francis, he loved animals and was so blessed by creation!  I am going to have to replace him for sure.

If this is the worst thing that happens, all will be well.

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

Friday, June 24, 2016

creating culture

Creating or shaping culture is the job of every leader.  If you are a leader, you ignore this task to your peril.  For years I have watched people shape culture and marveled at how hard it is to explain how people do this.  In other words, most people that know how to shape culture, just do it, but they can't really codify what they are doing.  It just comes out of their DNA.

suggests that there are five ways that leaders shape culture.
1.  What you say.
     Be positive, kind and gracious.

2.  What you celebrate.
      The things that you lift up will gain some traction.  Choose wisely.

3.  What you spend.
      Pastors have a fiduciary responsibility to be careful with church funds.  After all, it is Jesus' money.  The folks put it in the plate trusting that you will make very careful decisions.  Bad decisions reduce giving and raise suspicion while good financial decisions engender trust and participation.

4.  What you codify.
     What systems are you putting in place to make things happen and keep them happening?  The things that you codify, will be seen as important.

5.  What you address.
     Every organization has problems.  Which ones will you speak into?  Which ones will you ignore?  You have to know when to hold em, and when to fold em.  When to go all in and when to let something ride.

Finally I would add this:  if you are not shaping the culture at your church, someone else is, and you may not like the result.  Take the initiative and set a good tone.

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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

quiet desperation

Henry David Thoreau is quoted as saying, "most men live lives of quiet desperation."  In the modern world it is fair to say that most men and women live lives of quiet desperation.

They yearn for what cannot be.  They hope for what is just beyond their reach.  Their desires are never quite met.  They chase meaning and sometimes find shallowness instead.  They long to be treated with respect.  They long to be spoken to with kindness.  They hope for the day that they are wanted, that they are loved without reservation, and yet they, at least most of them, continue to come up wanting.

I remember a couple that I knew when I was in my early 20's.  David and somebody, I don't remember the wife's  name.   They were young and happy and in amazing Christian love.  "This is what life should be like" I said to myself.  Then one time I went over to their home.  Wow did they have problems.  They were mad at each other and in a terrible fight.  It was so much less than perfect.  What an eye opener.

How do we help those who live in desperation?  How do we fight our own desperation?  Love everyone that you can.  Reach out to everyone that you can.  Offer grace.  Offer hope.  Offer free hugs.  Life is beautiful and life is short.  Help everyone that you can, see that there is good in this world.  Together we can make every day a little better.

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

the power of a hug

One of my favorite sermons was the time that I held up the sign at the end that said, "free hugs." We actually have two of these signs.  I took one with me to Florida and Michael Scott has the other one.

Oh my how many people we know that need a hug.  If we knew how many people have not been hugged this month or this year, it would surprise you.  A hug can say to a person, "you are ok, you are loved, you matter to me."  A hug can change a person's day for the good. Get permission and then hug someone.  Tell them how much they matter to you.  You will be glad that you did.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How I am doing

Several of you from KC have texted, emailed or called to ask how I was doing.  My answer depended on how vulnerable I felt like being with you at the time.  Last week was very difficult.  I thought of so many things and felt sad.

Yesterday I awoke with a different feeling.  Instead of feeling sad, when I thought of you, I felt happy.  Happy for what we HAD.  Happy for what we HAVE.  Happy for what we will still  HAVE when I see you again, and I will see you again.

I am enriched for having you in my life.  I am the better for it.  Change is difficult, but we will always have each other.  Come see me and meet my new friends in Cape Coral.

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

Goodbye, Hello

Oh my.  Saying Goodbye is so very difficult.  Saying Hello has got to be better than saying Goodbye.

I have been appointed to five churches now in my lifetime.  Cache/Indiahoma in the Oklahoma Conference.  Lebanon, Princeton/Mercer, and Woods Chapel in the Missouri Conference, and now Cape Coral in the Florida Conference.  Every single church that I was sent to, I had to look on a map to figure out where it was located, except for Woods Chapel.  Every single time I went to a new town, even though I had never been there before, I met great, wonderful and amazing people.  Saying Goodbye has been very hard.  I am looking forward to saying hello.

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

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A great man

I decided that I wanted to honor a great Father and a great man on Father's Day.  I have come to believe that we are not very good at telling people that we like them when we like them.  So here is a story about someone that I feel is a very special person- a stellar human being.

I lived next door to this man for 11 years.  We didn't hang around very much because we were busy raising kids, but this is a special man.  He played minor league professional hockey, but you would never know it because he is humble.  He loves kids- his own children, and the children in our community.  He and his wife have dedicated their lives as teachers in the public school system.  As the principal of Delta Woods Middle school, he worked closely with that neighboring church- Woods Chapel.  And so I knew him both as a neighbor and as a partner in the greater community good.

Steve, I will miss working on trees with you.  I will miss watching fireworks.  I will miss your kindness and determined dedication to the good.  You are a great man Steve Cook, and I am going to miss you.

Thank you for being my friend.  Thank you for being a great neighbor.  Thanks for helping to raise my kids.  I pause this day to honor you, and to give thanks for you.  I am happy that in this life our paths have crossed.  May we meet again.

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

Saturday, June 18, 2016


The feature song from the movie The Breakfast Club is "Don't you forget about me" by the group Simple Minds.  Several people in the past month have asked me not to forget them.

I promise you.  I will not forget you, and we will meet again.  We will hug, and we will listen to music and we will laugh and tell stories.  Some bonds are never broken.

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

Friday, June 17, 2016

shower the people

James Taylor wrote and sang:

Oh, father and mother, sister and brother
If it feels nice, don't think twice
Shower the people you love with love
Show them the way that you feel
Things are gonna work out fine if you only will, as I said
Shower the people you love with love
Show them the way you feel
Things are gonna be much better if you only will

Jeff would add to this: shower the people that you love with love, and the people that you feel like you don't love, shower them with love too.  Things are gonna be much better if you only will.

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

Thursday, June 16, 2016

a very nice gift

I posted this on March 3, the day before the big parade.

I see a wall
I have this odd recurring dream. It may be a day dream.

I am in Florida at a new church and there is a blank wall or a bulletin board in my office that is filled up with things that I need to remember.  [then I included a list of such things.]

Here is the link to the entire March 3 post:

Well, the other day, someone brought this into the office at Cape Coral:

Oh my, when I got this picture from Adam Vernon, it made me cry.  Someone who wishes to remain anonymous, evidently read the post and made this.  How thoughtful!

Now I only have one problem.  How can I thank you if I don't know who you are?  Maybe you don't want the attention, I get that, but I want to tell you in person what this means to me.  Please come see me and confess when I get to town, and thank you so much!

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


A friend shared this with me. I posted it three years ago. It seemed timely to share it again.

I have resisted change with all my will
Cried out to life “pass by and leave me still”
But I have found as I have trudged time’s tracks
That all my wishing will not hold life back
All finite things must go their finite way
I cannot bid the merest moment “Stay!”
So finding that I have no power to change, change
I have changed. And this is strange
For I have found when I have let change come
The very change that I was fleeing from
Has often held the good I had prayed for
And I was not the less for change – but more
When I accepted change and was not loath
I found change is the seed of growth

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

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

less anxious

At Annual Conference last week, Bishop Schnase made an astute comment regarding leadership during tumultuous times.  Whether it is the issues that we face with the economy, the national election or human sexuality, we need strong leadership.

Bishop Schnase was talking with a member of a church about nervous times and the member said to him, "please just send us a pastor who is less anxious with what is going on than we are."  

I love it!

Leaders calm storms.

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

Monday, June 13, 2016


Some times, things are so difficult, so complicated, so painful that we have to compartmentalize them.  If I am not writing about everything that I am feeling about moving to Florida, please understand that some of the pain is so great that I am not ready to sort through it, much less articulate it.

It takes time.

I think that compartmentalization is a nice defense mechanism some times, for tough times.
I am in a car today, driving to Florida.  That is all that I have to say right now.

God is good and it is a beautiful day in His world.  Be sure to see the good.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Woods Chapel

Dear Woods Chapel Friends,

It has been a delightful 22 years.
I love you.
Thank you.

Quoting the great theologian, Aaron Brown,  "I love you more than I could ever articulate."

I am at a loss for words.  [that is a bit embarrassing for a preacher....]
I love you.
Thank you.

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

Saturday, June 11, 2016


We like to think that we know what we need to know.  When I was young, I thought I knew it all.  Now the older I get, the more I realize how little I know.  

As smart as you and I are, there are certainly people who know more about a thing that I do.  If you are talking to someone who knows more about what you're doing that you do, listen to them.  We ignore good advice at our peril.

This is something to think about for sure.

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

Friday, June 10, 2016

never done

I heard a story the other day about a pastor who left the ministry because he was no longer able to deal with the feeling of "never being done."  There was just no place to rest and no tasks actually ever completed.  About the time one thing seemed to be done, there were 4 other things that popped up.

I have had this feeling at times, like it never ends.....  Please always keep your pastors in your prayers.  There is so much going on, and it is hard to find time to rest.

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

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Last Day in the office

Today is my last day in the office at Woods Chapel.  I am off on Fridays and Saturday is, well, its Saturday.

I have been so blessed to call this place home for 22 years.  I have been so blessed to know and work with so many wonderful staff people.   Some of my closest friends are on this staff.   I have been so blessed to know so many wonderful members as well.

When I think of you, I am rich!!  I am full.  I am fulfilled.  Thank you so much for all of the years of grace and love.

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

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hubert Neth

I had my last monthly meeting with Hubert Neth last Thursday.  Gosh, I love that man.  For the past 22 years he has been my #1 supporter.  I am really going to miss him.

Everyone needs someone who will be honest and kind to you.  Brutally honest when needed, but always kind.  In a world where many ministers act like they are in competition with each other, Hubert has always been positive.

I love this man.  I hope that you have someone in your life that helps you to believe in yourself.

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

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

the tug

The tug on your heart.  That little pull.  It is hard to explain.  You have an explainable thought or feeling that you should do a certain thing or call a person.

If the tug is about a good thing, just do it.  Don't let the impulse to do good go unfulfilled.  We don't know how the Holy Spirit works.  Too many people blame their own thoughts on God.  But sometimes, I do believe that there are these tugs, these nudges.

Act on them.  Do good.  Leave your moment and reach out to another.  You will be glad that you did.

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

Monday, June 6, 2016

rocking chair

I used to see "old" people sitting on the front porch in their rocking chairs.  I used to think that it was sad that when you get "old" all you have left to do is sit on the porch and rock.

Next year, if I live to see it, I will be 60 years old.  Oddly, I am starting to appreciate the thought of sitting on a porch in a rocking chair.

Imagine it- no responsibilities, no worries.  Just watching life go by and savoring it all.  Holding the memories close and smiling over the ups and downs.

I don't own a rocking chair, but I may have to buy one.

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

Sunday, June 5, 2016

big cry

I think everyone feels like this from time to time.  There is a giant cry inside your heart and it just won't come out.

First you feel like something is wrong.  You are a bit distressed and you feel uncomfortable.  Then you realize there is almost a tightness in your chest and you realize what it is.  There is a big cry inside of you and it needs to come out.

We have to let those big cries out.  If we don't it isn't healthy.  Of course the problem is that they come out when they want to.  You may wish to cry and get it over with, but it just won't come.  And then a few days later when you are doing some random thing, you just start to sob.  It hits you and you start to sob.

Just let it out.  It's ok.  Your body and your heart know what you need to do.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, even if you cry.  Be sure to see the good.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


I have received several questions regarding my departure.  Two that I am routinely getting are these:

Will the blog continue.
Answer = yes.

How can I contact you after you move?
[keep in mind that if you ask me pastoral things, I will refer you to your new pastor]
How can you contact me after my move?
Answer = yes, at

Any other questions?

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

Friday, June 3, 2016


I am currently in the process of saying goodbye to many people.  It is difficult at times.  I cried 4 times yesterday.

It occurs to me that there is not any time left for pretending.  I am only interested in complete honesty.  If we get a chance to talk, I want to get right down to the bottom of it.  So, I posted this sign on my door.

It occurs to me that maybe this sign should always be on my door.

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

Thursday, June 2, 2016


Oh my the pain that we humans carry.  I have witnessed so much pain over the years.  Honestly most of it are things that I have heard from others.   My problems seem so small when I listen to what is really going on in the lives of others.  I commonly hear things like this:

  • I have never felt loved.
  • My spouse cheated on me.
  • I don't love my spouse.
  • I wish I could get a different job, a different spouse, different parents.
  • I am ugly.
  • I am a poor provider.
  • I am going to have to work until I die.
  • My self esteem is in the tank.
  • I hate myself.
  • I have considered suicide.

Oh my, the pain that we find in this life.  What do you do with thoughts like this?  If you have them, please know that you are loved.  Please know that you matter very much.

Some years ago in a sermon, I asked if there was anyone here today that needed a hug.  At every service, hands went up.  I can't fix everything, but I can love you and I can hug you.  You are wonderful.

Keep going.  Life can get better.  Put your best foot on the floor and keep going.  God loves you and life is still good.

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