Sunday, January 25, 2015

Problems

Problems

God is more than something to believe in.  I believe that God can help you with your problems.  I believe that he can give you amazing abilities to deal with loneliness or loss or addiction or what ever it may be.

Sometimes the help that we get is a complete resolution to our liking.  Other times we have the comfort of a Shepherd that is with us in the valleys.  Either way, whether resolved to our liking or not, God can give us strength.

If you need help, call on him.


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

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Where is Jesus?

Inside and out

I think Jesus is both on the inside and the outside of us.  He is everywhere, right? 

When I think of him on the outside, I think of all the ways that people and churches represent him, all the ways that they paint him.  Some good, some painful.

When I think of Jesus inside of me, I think of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  When I think of the Spirit within, I am drawn to a peace.  I am suddenly relaxing.  God is not just out there somewhere, he lives inside of me.  When I remember this during the day, my heart finds rest and all of my moments go better.

By the way, the Spirit is in you too.

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

Friday, January 23, 2015

Enlightened

Enlightened

A normal person once ran into an enlightened person.  The normal person asked, what do you do, now that you are enlightened?  The enlightened one answered, “I sit, I eat and I walk.”  The normal person said, “well, that is nothing!  Everyone does that.”  The enlightened person said, “the difference is this… when I sit, I know I am sitting, when I eat, I know I am eating.   When I walk, I know I am walking.”

To be asleep is to live life unaware.  To be enlightened is to be awake to every single moment that God gives us.


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

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Prayer and Meditation

Prayer and meditation-

When I was growing up, prayer was praised and meditation was wrong.  Prayer was Western and meditation was Eastern.  Prayer was good and meditation was bad.  Prayer filled the mind with God and meditation emptied the mind.

Well, let me set aside a bit of what the church taught me as a child to change my opinion on prayer and meditation. 

What most of us learned in prayer, is asking for things from God.  God can you do this.  God can you do that.  God will you help grandma. 

I would tell you today that prayer in my experience, for most people, seems to focus more on asking while meditation focuses more on listening.  Boy do we need to listen more.

Don’t be afraid of the word meditation.  It is the long lost twin of prayer.   It is a soul mate of prayer.  It is a type of prayer, or is true prayer a type of meditation?

Any way, we all need to talk less and listen more.


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

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Just ask

Just ask

Do you want to know something about the church?  Just ask.  There are no secrets.  How much does the facilities manager make?  Just ask.  How much did we spend on missions last year?  Why is a certain thing handled a certain way?  Just ask.

We have a policy of complete and full disclosure.  After all, it is your church.  You can ask whatever you like.  If I don’t know the answer, I will get you in touch with someone who does.


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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Good and bad

Good and bad

Life is filled with good and bad.  Face it, we all have the good and the bad.  To insist that our life should only be filled with good things is to reject the other half of life.

Even the difficult things are a part of life.  Healthy people do not run from them, but find God’s sustaining power in difficult times.  Really healthy people understand that it is all a part of life.  As Paul said, I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  I know how to have little and I know how to have much.

Good or difficult, contentment in either half of life.


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

Monday, January 19, 2015

Finding your soul

finding your soul

Well, you have one:  a soul.  I promise you, it is in there.  The soul is hard to describe, like the taste of an orange or the scent of a rose is hard to explain, but the soul is real and the soul is good.

In the movie, City Slickers, Billy Chrystal wants to go on a vacation with his friends.  His wife tells him to go- please go and find your smile.  He says, what if I can’t?  she says, then don’t come back. 

The soul is like the smile of a person’s heart.  It is the part that makes us alive.  It is the part that lives into eternity.  It is also the part that is so easily jaded and dulled by life.
 
You may be doing many good things.  You may be doing many Christian things.  Even so, a life too busy with good things and Christian things can start to feel like the “whack a mole” game.

Some of the best advice that I could ever give, is that from time to time we need to find a way to find our soul.  It could be by taking a break, taking a trip, going for a walk, reading the Bible – really anything that can help the wheels in our brain to slow down.

When the wheels in the brain slow down, the soul rises to the top.

Find your soul.  You will be glad that you did.

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

Sunday, January 18, 2015

self-unaware

self-unaware

It has been said repeatedly that the righteous are self-unaware.  When Jesus says I was hungry and you fed me, the righteous were just so caught up in the generous life that they were living that they didn’t recognize their goodness.  They said to Jesus, when were you hungry and we fed you?

In the same way, imagine that you are hammering a nail and you hit your thumb by mistake.   Well immediately, your right hand goes into action.  It washes the left, puts on soothing ointment and a bandage.  The right hand does not hesitate to act.  The right hand does not consider itself to be superior.  The right hand does not say anything to the left about how broken it is.  The right simply sees the need and acts.

When we are filled with the Spirit, we act in loving kindness to all people. 

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

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Going out and coming in-

Going out and coming in -

I have been thinking lately about the doors of our church.  What is the message coming in?  And what is the message going out?

On some of our doors there is a message about “going forth to serve,” or “now entering the mission field.”  But there is no message on the way in.  That leaves the idea about what this place is- open to the interpretation of those who enter.  Some undoubtedly will walk in with fear.  Some will walk in, worried that they will be judged.

So I am thinking about trying to get the main teachings of Jesus posted at every door.  But what would they be?  Would we argue over what the most important commandments were?  We might, but the more I think about this, I think Jesus addressed the question himself by listing them, “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

What if every time you walked in, you were reminded to love God and neighbor as yourself.  What if every time you walked out, you were reminded to go and serve, to be the hands and feet of Christ.

I like the idea.  I wonder if it will catch wind and fly.  We shall see.


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

Friday, January 16, 2015

glasses

I had an interesting thing happen to me the other day, and I got to thinking.  Thinking is a good thing.

I have a great optometrist that has provided me with two pair of glasses.  One for general life and one for reading.

Now I have not seen my fine eye doctor for a few years, [except at church] and i need to go see him or her, but that is a side bar to this story.

So I reached for my general glasses and started to put them on my head.  But there was a problem.  I had not first removed my reading glasses.  So I subconsciously just went to make the change, but there was no room for the new glasses.

Here is the learning moment - in order to make room for the new glasses, I actually had to remove the old ones.

To me this says a ton about how we see life.  Everyone has a way that they see it.  An outlook, a paradigm.  If you ever expect to change, you must be willing to set the current life paradigm aside, otherwise there will be no room for the new one.

Now here is the problem with most of us........ we think our world view is right.  If we didn't we would change it, right?  But what if we just started opening our paradigms a bit.  We will surely find that we are not as smart as we thought we were.

The world is much much bigger than my ideas.  But I will never know this until I set aside my one familiar pair of glasses,  and try out  the vision of another person.

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

help the poor

Someone asked me why we help the poor.  They wanted to know how this was "Christian" activity and not just hollow good works.

I guess that they are from the school that Christians are Christians because they believe.  Maybe they believe that believing is enough.  I would point you to the book of James and the life of Jesus himself.

James chapter 2 says,
"What good is it my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such a faith save them? .....what good is it if you say to someone, go in peace, be well, be warm and well fed, but does nothing to help them?  What good is that? ...... faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

Yes, he taught, but Jesus was also very involved in helping the poor.  He healed the blind.  He healed the lame.  He sat with the outcast.  He spent time with lepers.  He fed 5,000 hungry people.  In fact, many people followed him simply because of all the good that he done.

Jesus helped the poor.  I want to help the poor.  I don't understand a Christianity with out it.

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


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

vacation

I just came back from a vacation.  Vacations are supposed to make you want to go back to work.  On this vacation, I took 5 books with me to read.  I got through 4 of them.  One of them really made me think.  [This is a good thing.  Thinking is good.]

Am I the kind of person that I want to be?  Are there ways that I can improve?  What if every time we went on vacation we tried to identify something to work on inside of ourselves?

Maybe that would be more like a retreat than a vacation.  But who cares.  Shouldn't Christian people always be thinking about ways that we can become more like Christ?

I hate to say this, but here is what I am thinking for me.  I want to be more quiet and I want to be more kind.  I am going to be thinking about these things more.

I think that makes the vacation successful.  To think about positive change is a good thing indeed.

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

who you are part 2

As a follow up to yesterday's post, when a person has to defend themselves or brag about themselves, it is possibly a sign that they are guilty or that they are covering for a weakness.

There is another old saying from Hamlet, "the lady doth protest too much."  The point being, when someone insists that it is not them, maybe they are covering the fact that it is them.  When someone has to tell you that they are great,  maybe inside they feel lousy.

And so, maybe we should not be annoyed with people who have to tell you that their car is faster, their dog is smarter and their college team is the only real good team.  Maybe they are just covering a deep insecurity.

This is the best blog in the world.  Ha ha.  That sounds dumb.  Maybe we should cut the braggers some slack.  Maybe their hearts are hurting and they are trying to cover it.

I don't want anyone's heart to hurt.  Today, I am going to find a bragger and hug them.  Maybe if we help them be ok, they will relax.

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

Monday, January 12, 2015

who you are

I think about this from time to time.  I know that I have written about it before, but it is so ingrained in me by my father, it just keeps popping into my mind.

It is the old saying, "Those who say, don't know.  Those who know, don't say." or, those who say don't know, and those who know, don't have to say.

The point of the saying is that you don't have to brag about who you are.  In fact, there is a joy in allowing others to discover who you are.  You don't have to always talk yourself up.  Talk is cheap.  My dad used to say, "Son, never blow your own horn, it just doesn't sound good."

You may have the biggest church in town, the best looking kids in town, or the fastest dog in town, but why tell people that?  Normal people find it annoying.  If your kid is smart, people will  figure that out.  If your church is great, word will spread.  Who you are does not change by being braggadocios.  In fact, who you are is diminished when we are all talking our selves up all of the time.

There is a great strength in the quiet embrace of solitude. The sounds of silence rejoice over  ranting.  Great people will discover you without you telling everyone how wonderful you are.  You are good.  You are ok.  Let it go at that.  You don't have anything to prove to anyone.  Just be yourself and relax and live.

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

Sunday, January 11, 2015

thankful

I remember seeing the grocery stores in Russia.  I know a story about a Russian being taken to one of our grocery stores here in the states and commenting that we had set this up as a show.  He thought that there was no way that we had this much access to this much food and vegetables all the time.

When I was in Russia and I saw people go to the grocery stores, they did not go to get what they wanted as much as they went to get whatever was available at the time.  In Nicaragua, they are thrilled when we bring them vegetables, and chicken.

And I look at our stores.  We have gotten used to an abundance, to an opulent amount of food.   We go to the store and shop and we just think that everyone has food like this.

They don't.

I for one, am grateful for the grocery store.  For the myriad of vegetables.  For vegetables that I can buy that I d
on't even know what they are.  We are so blessed, we are more than blessed.

Can we see it?

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

Saturday, January 10, 2015

test

sorry for this blog test.

Jesus said, I was hungry and you fed me.

$1.93

I remember in 1973 when the OPEC oil embargo and the gas crisis hit.  Gas went from 35 cents to .99 per gallon.  My dad lost his job and we thought the world would come to an end.  Some churches were predicting it for sure.  We sat in long lines to buy gas and could only buy it on odd or even days.

Well, the world did not end.  Over the years we have gone clear up to over $4 per gallon.  I understand that for much of the world, $4 is still very cheap.

So a few years ago, gas went down to $2.26 and I thought I should take a picture.  I didn't do it and soon it was back to near $4.  This time though, I took the picture.  Here is my 2001 Ford pickup, gassing up for $1.93.  I am driving it a bit more these days since the price is down.

I don't know what low gas prices mean for the economy, but they are good for me on the short run.  And, since it is all about me, all about, us, let's celebrate the short term happiness of cheap gas.  It won't last for ever.

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

Friday, January 9, 2015

a note from my sister

My sister wrote in the Christmas card that she sent to me:

     "Thanks for all of your love and support.  
     Being close to you has been a blessing in my life."

Now, if you knew how we were raised, you would know what a miracle this is.  Some how we grew up in the same home but never knew each other.  Now, in our 50's we have made friends and come to love each other.

That is so cool.  So completely satisfying to my heart.

Being close to you has been a blessing in my life!

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

Thursday, January 8, 2015

struck with a thought

Sometimes we take our friends and family for granted.  Sometimes we are the worst to the people that are closest to us.  That is not a good thing.

Sometimes we get stuck in our lives and forget to say thank you and I love you to our loved ones.

But, every now and then, I hear a story that breaks me from my habits.  It wakes me from my sleep.  Someone has lost a child.  Someone is getting divorced.  Someone's life is on the rocks.

That is when I think of my wife and I want to call her up and tell her that I love her.  And I do.  I just call out of the blue and tell her I love her.  She does not know why I called, but I just got reminded that we should not take those we love for granted.

Someone out there is wishing that they had someone to call.  So, call the ones you love and tell them you love them.  You will be glad that you did.

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

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

buying trouble

Buying trouble is when you worry about something that hasn't even happened yet.  It is worrying over what might be, even when it might not be. 

Frankly, buying trouble is wasting today, worrying about tomorrow.  We all do it, but I find it to be insulting.  Insulting to God who gave us this day, and insulting to all the people around us that need the best of us today, but we can't give our best to them because we are worrying about tomorrow.

If it happens it happens.  We will deal with it at that time.  If it doesn't happen, then why ruin today worrying?

Today holds within it's grasp, so much good.  So much joy.  So many things to celebrate.  Don't worry about tomorrow, let tomorrow worry about itself.  I think Jesus said that.  You - live.   Live and love today.  That is why we are here.

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

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Epiphany

Ahhh! An Epiphany!

Epiphany is a surprise.  It is an insight.  It is an eye opening experience.  The season in which the wise men visited the baby Jesus is called Epiphany.  On the church calendar it is always January 6th.

People often ask how long Christmas decorations should stay up.  Well, traditionally, they stay up until Epiphany.  The 12 days of Christmas are December 25 thru January 6th.

So, if you were in church on Sunday, and the decorations were still up, and that is why.

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

Monday, January 5, 2015

winter cardinal

My picture does not do it justice, but it was a beautiful little Christmas present.  I was out by the driveway and I heard a flutter in the tree.  I looked up, and  was a bit surprised to see this beautiful male cardinal.

I love cardinals.  My mom loved them.  They are so pretty.  They are one of those creatures that remind me that God has made a beautiful world. 

So, it's winter.  The weather is cold, the sky is gray and the trees are barren.  But there is still much good to see.  There is still much beauty.  Everywhere, every day, if we just keep looking.


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

Sunday, January 4, 2015

a difference

During Lent we are going to be having a sermon series on conversion.  Great stories of conversion from the Bible and from history.  We also hope to share some of our own stories.

Has Woods Chapel made a difference in your life?  Has it brought you closer to Jesus Christ?  Has the church been used by God to make a difference in your heart?

If so, and if you are willing, please post a comment and explain, or send me an email and tell me the story.

If the church has not yet made a difference in your life, then I am praying for you that this is your year, your time, your moment.  I am praying for you that God will break into your life in an amazing way.

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

Saturday, January 3, 2015

a profound Christmas thought

Shared with permission-

I got an email the other day from our friend and member Barbara Bass.  Delightful, funny, and kind, she shared some thoughts of Christmas:

[Jeff, I] loved your blog today.  I am one of those who is always glad when Christmas is over, in fact, I am one who hates when it is beginning.  I hate that people don't have Christmas all year long.  I hate being asked, "Did you have a good Christmas?"  Exactly what warrants a good Christmas vs a bad Christmas?  How can you have a bad Christmas unless it is all about you, what did you wish for, what did you get, are you satisfied?  It makes me want to scream.

I was asked by a co-worker on Friday if I had a good Christmas and I asked her to define Christmas.  I loved what you said Christmas Eve that the Light came to push back the darkness and my response to her was, "Yes, I had a good Christmas, I tried all year to push the darkness back with His Light."

I asked my 5 year old grandson what he likes about Christmas and his answer was "opening presents, snow and snowball fights."  I didn't really expect him to jump up and  down yelling that its Jesus' birthday, but he is also the one who thought that he had been naughty only once this past year!

I do ask my grandchildren every year after I hear their list of wants, "Since its not your birthday, what will you  be getting Jesus for His birthday?"

I wonder if God looked at Jesus and asked him, "How was your birthday this year, Son?"

Profound thoughts on Christmas.

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

Friday, January 2, 2015

a great present

Now I know that Christmas is not supposed to be about what presents you may get, but I got something really cool.  It may be the best Christmas present ever.  I smile every time I think about it.  And, it was a total and complete surprise to boot.

Do you remember the story where the man sells his watch to buy his wife a present and his wife cuts her hair to buy the husband a present?  Well, my dear wife sprung for an electric jacket!  If you have not heard of them, it is like an electric blanket, only it runs on a battery.  Coincidentally my son got me a new drill that runs on the same kind of battery.

So I am happy and warm everywhere that I go.  I am still tickled
about the gift.  I hope that the things that I got for others, large and small, day in and day out make them as happy.


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

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Let me begin with a somber statement.  Not all of us will survive this year.  Some of us are living in our last days and we don't know it.  For some of us, this is our last New Years Day.

Now, I say that, not to make you feel sad, but to remind you of the importance of living every single day.  Will God grant you January 2nd, then live it!  Will God grant you January 3rd, then live it.  [repeat the pattern 362 more times.]

If every day is a gift, then lets treat them like a gift.  This may be our last January 1st.  It may be our last Thursday.

God is great and life is amazing.  Let's be thankful for every single day in 2015.  Make it your mission not to waste any day this year by complaining.  It may be our last March 4th.

If we are alive, it is a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas story

I asked a friend if they got anything for Christmas.  They said, "no, I told my family that whatever they were going to spend on me, to give me the money instead, because I wanted to buy a house in Nicaragua."

So my friend didn't get a shirt or a hat or a coat.  They got the satisfaction and joy of helping someone move into a beautiful home with a concrete floor.  I was so very touched by the generosity of the family and the kindheartedness of my friend.

In a world where everyone wants something for themselves, it is so good to see people who want less so that others can be blessed.


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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Eve

Is it a sin to be glad that Christmas is over?  When you are a pastor or work on a church staff, there is a huge relief when it is over.

This year we ran six services in the sanctuary, two in the Worship Center and two at our Raytown campus.  The music was wonderful at each of them, and it was a wonderful night.

Many people ask about attendance at Christmas eve.  The numbers are in and we totaled 3,427 for the evening.  That is a new all time high, 5% higher than the previous number.  While that is a lot of people, what I want you to know is that there were many many visitors.  Several came back on Sunday morning and we hope that many more will come in January.

Thank you for all that you did to make the services and the Christmas season a wonderful blessing.

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

Monday, December 29, 2014

a man's last words

A man lay waiting for what was to come.  There was nothing more that anyone else could do. 

He called his adult children to his side, and one by one said goodbye.  "I'm sorry for every time that I was less that the best Father.  I forgive you for every time that you disobeyed me when you were young.  Let there be nothing between us.  I love you.  You are awesome.  Thank you.  It's ok.  Everything is ok.  All is well.  I am not afraid.  Live your life.  Live and love.  I am proud of you.  We will meet again."

Then he called his wife to his side.  He held her hand and smiled.  After all these years, they could still see each other's souls through their eyes.  He said to her, "we did it.  We loved each other for a life time.  We celebrated the miracles of life.  We had children and raised them.  Look at them, they are wonderful.  I am so proud of the life that I had together with you.  I am sorry for every time that  I was less than a perfect husband.  I forgive you for anything that you may think that you have done.  You are a saint in my eyes, perfect, and I love you so much.  Let there be no regrets.  Let our memories of each other be only of the joy, only of the good.  Thank you for everything.  Do not be afraid, I am not afraid.  We will meet again.  I love you so very much.  Life with you and our children has been such a treat."

That man did it right.

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

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A great year

Today is the last Sunday of 2014.

I want to thank all of you for a great year.  In 2014, Woods Chapel acquired the Raytown Campus.  Under the leadership of Michael Scott, this has gone very well.  In 2014 we also purchased the new Missions Center, which I like to call the Bartlett Building after our missions director Amy Bartlett.

The Missions Center has allowed for the expansion of existing ministries and new ones have begun as well.  Anytime we are acting in mission, we are living the Kingdom life.  It is not good works, it is what Christians do.  It is what Christians are.

This year we sent several fine members and staff people off to serve other churches.  It is hard to lose them, but what a blessing they have been to the churches that the Bishop sent them to serve.

You can be very proud of your staff, they are a deeply committed and heartfelt bunch.  Thank each and every one of you for every gift, every hour, every talent, and every piece of your heart that you gave to the Lord and his church in 2014.

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

Saturday, December 27, 2014

kindness to strangers

This year, during the month of December, we ran into a number of strangers who needed help.  Just as you would do, we helped them.

A person needed a ride to work.  A server needed towels for her family's bathroom.  A mother needed diapers for her baby.

When we help our own, they expect it and don't always appreciate it.  But there is great joy in helping a stranger.  They don't expect it and so the message of love and kindness comes shining through.  The greatest joys that I experienced this season were tied directly to helping others.  It takes us off of our own worries, and it is just good to help others.

Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness.  Good.  GOOD.  Godly good.  Help someone else today who is not expecting it.

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