Thursday, May 26, 2016

ignore me

Ignore me.  Sometimes my blog is good advice, and sometimes it is not.  Sometimes my words are helpful to you and sometimes they are not.

If I say "try harder in your marriage," this may not apply to someone who is being abused.  Remember that all advice is usually general in nature.

If it helps you, great.  If it does not, then put it on a shelf for some other day.

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

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

make amends

I have decided that I want to do everything that I can to make amends with a few people before I leave.

Oh, this is painful for me. I recognize that there are several friends and members that I have experienced fracture with over the last 22 years. Some of it I did not understand. I just did not get why that relationship became so broken. In other instances, I saw what happened, and in several cases, I saw my complicity, my participation in the brokenness.

But I am determined that I am going to do everything I can before I move to heal as many of the relationships as I can. I have already begun sending notes and texts. I have one more person to reach out to and then my heart will be clear. Unless of course that there are others out there that I have hurt that I am not thinking of.

Always do everything in your power to make amends. Life is too short to allow wounds to fester.

Sometimes the good comes to us, and sometimes we bring the good to others. Let’s fix everything that we can. Set aside your pride and apologize- you will be glad that you did.

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

make a conscious effort

I run into people who understand the concept of "seeing the good" but for some reason, their default is to complain.  Complain about work, when many are out of a job.  Complain about a spouse when many wish they had someone to spend their life with.  On and on it goes.

I think if we will see the good, we must make a conscious effort to look.   Yes, to look, to actually see what is around us.  To look past what comes into view at first glance, and look deeper.  Look past the clouds and see the sky.  There is always something to be thankful for if we work at it hard enough.

Life goes better with gratitude.  Why not make a conscious effort to see the good.

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

Monday, May 23, 2016

Thank You

Last night several hundred people came out to say goodbye.  I am not very good at good byes, but it was delightful to see so many friends.  I can't say thank you enough for all of the warm smiles and the kind words.

Please remember that I am not gone yet, my last Sunday in the pulpit is June 12, so I still have a few more weeks to torture you.

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

Sunday, May 22, 2016

today's sermon

Today's sermon is on the 23rd Psalm -

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever

It speaks for itself in so many ways.  I hope that you can join us for worship at 8am, 905, 1010, or 1115.  The 1010 and 1115 services are available via livestream.

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

Saturday, May 21, 2016

love them

90% of success in this life is loving people.  Maybe 99%.

Loving people is more than a feeling inside your heart for someone.  It is more than a decision.  Here are some of the things that you learn to do that helps people know that you love them.  Although many of these things are simple, they are too often neglected.

Love begins by simply showing interest in another person.

  • ask their name.
  • use their name.
  • look them in the eye.
  • square your body up and face them.
  • lean closer.
  • take your time.  Don't be in a hurry.
  • smile.
  • say kind words.
  • Ask them how they are doing.
  • Ask them about their family.
  • buy their lunch.
  • leave the better parking spaces for them.
  • tell them how much they mean to you.
  • tell them what a good job they are doing.


Repeat this behavior over and over for weeks, months and years.  It is surprising how people respond so graciously to kindness.

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





Friday, May 20, 2016

one more time

Don't give up just yet.  Try one more time.  One more time with that boss, one more time with that child, one more time with that spouse.  We throw each other away way too easily.  Don't give up just yet.

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

Thursday, May 19, 2016

self

Don’t make it about you. The paths back into selfishness are many.

We make life about us every time that we hurt others. Every time that we lord it over them. Every time that we use our power to attract attention to ourselves we have made it about us. When we insist upon our comfort and our service, we have made it about us.

What if we went out to eat and made the encounter about the server? What if we drove to work and made the drive about the others on the road? What if we went to the office and sought to engage and support and care about the others in our workplace?

The self will lead us straight to hell. The spirit leads us to a life of love, joy, peace and patience.
Fight off self every way and every time that you can. You will be glad that you did.

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

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

cup of coffee

I have no picture of this morning event, I wish I did, but we are not our best when we are drinking coffee.  No photos allowed.  But a few weeks ago, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my wife.  Each of us had our morning coffee. 

I felt a feeling and I spoke it to her:  “this is how life is supposed to be.”  That meant, me and her together, in the same house, living our lives together.  She smiled and replied, “yes, this is how life is supposed to be.”

As much as I feel badly for moving away from many many friends, I am so happy to be rejoining my dear wife.


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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Morning

The morning awakens!

Ahh. I am ever blessed by the views of the morning sky! Hello world! Another day is dawning! How sad that all human beings see the dawn, but not all of them celebrate it. God has set some amazing things for us to witness in this world. Choose to be a person who sees the beauty in every day. Life is too short to miss it.

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

Monday, May 16, 2016

Jobs that I have held

Someone asked the other day what jobs I have had prior to becoming a pastor.  I wondered later if they were thinking that I might need to prepare myself for another line of work.

As if anyone cared, here is the list of jobs I have held.

High School
Bicycle shop
Mcdonalds
Gallenkamp Shoes

College
Furniture mover in the summer
McDonalds
Gas Station Attendant
Dishwasher

Post College
I laid asphalt
youth director at a tiny church

Seminary
youth director at a Methodist church
deck builder
kwik copy printing
ups delivery

post seminary
pastor
bank teller
pastor
pastor
pastor
et cetera

because inquiring minds wanted to know.

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



Sunday, May 15, 2016

conversion

Conversion is a word that used to bother me.  It has been hijacked by certain corners of Christianity and for me at least has had a good amount of guilt associated with it.  How many times in my life have I heard people say things that sounded like this......... "you better be converted and do Christianity just like we do it or we will make you feel guilty and you will go to hell."

Not helpful.  No wonder so many Christians are turned off by the word conversion and the phrase "born again."  They are not harmful in their true context but oh the pain that humans can attach to certain words.

Today the sermon is on conversion.  Not the guilt laden, manipulative variety, but the concept that if we would move towards God, we must make a choice to change our thinking, to open up our minds and to allow the spirit in.  That is not a bad thing.

I hope to see you at any of our services today: 8am, 905, 1010 or 1115.

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

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Xifaxan

what is that funny noise?
We are all bombarded with commercials for various drugs.  The commercials are all filled with the warnings about possible side effects.



i guess he has some pain :)
I saw a commercial for the first time the other day for Xifaxan.  It is evidently a drug that helps people with intestinal problems, gas, bloating, abdominal pain and irregularity.  It's not a very funny topic, but I noticed their mascot and could not help but smile.

He is probably called the Xifaxan "Intestine Man."  What else, right?  If the Michelin man is made of tires, the Intestine man is made of........... you got it.... rolled up intestines.  A drug that helps calm the intestines must be sold by a happy intestinal man!

now he is happy :)
What a cute little super hero.  If there is a problem in the world, not to fear. If Superman or Spiderman are not available, maybe to our rescue will come "Intestine Man."

I just couldn't stop laughing about this little guy.

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

Friday, May 13, 2016

mad at God

I had a dream the other night about a friend who was mad at God.  It was about a real person that I know, but the circumstances of the dream were some of the crazy things that dreams are made of.

So in the dream, her husband insists that I come over to visit with he and his wife because she is mad at God.  It seems that she had a full ride to college on a soccer scholarship, but then the economy turned and the college cut sports in a cost saving measure.  Ha ha - you know that is a dream, a school cut sports??

Anyway, since she lost the opportunity to go to college, she was mad at God and had been embittered towards him for years.  How could I help?

First, let me say that it is ok to be angry at God.  When Scott was sick, I was pretty mad a God myself.  However, we must always remember that the basic nature of God is goodness- loving kindness and graciousness.  He does not make bad things happen to you or me.  In fact, in times of our pain, he walks along side us, he carries us.  In the valley of the shadow of death, we have a Shepherd.

See God for what he is, not the cause of your pain, but a Comforter in times of pain.

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


Thursday, May 12, 2016

my burden

If you suffer with being a doormat, or if you suffer with too much guilt, ignore this post.  If you don't, then read on.....

In any difficult circumstance, we should always ask ourselves, what is my responsibility in this situation?  What is my burden?  What did I do to contribute to this mess?

Difficulty is rarely the result of one person's actions.  Years ago, my mother went shopping at a mall where a number of crimes had been reported on the news.  She parked at the far end of a remote parking garage [she wanted the exercise] and walked into the old mall.  On the way back to her car, she had her packages and her purse stolen.  You can totally blame the person who took her stuff, but she bears some burden in this story.  Needless to say, she parked closer after that, and chose her shopping venues more carefully.

In relational problems, it is rarely one person's fault.  We love to think that we are the victims, but we almost always play a role in the craziness.  If the suggestion of this makes you angry,


then you might want to take a hard look at how you see the world.

If something isn't going the way that you want it to in your life, don't focus on how the other person is doing you wrong.  Look for the ways that you might have contributed to the mess.  It may help you with your feelings about the others involved and the situation as a whole.

Life is good, and a little self-reflection from time to time is good.

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


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

plants in Florida

 I have noticed a couple of things about plants in Florida.  First of all, you cannot kill them.  I accidentally cut this little guy off in mid trunk, an act that would have been fatal to a plant in Missouri, but not in Florida.  Chop it, cut it, spray it, pull it out of the ground, it doesn't matter, the plants keep growing.

Secondly, where I come from, plants and trees usually keep to themselves.  In Florida, everything grows on top of everything else.  Ferns on oaks, Spanish Moss on trees, random things popping up everywhere so that the botanical eco-sphere is a giant exercise in mutual support.

Allow me to make a couple of observations from these plants regarding people and church.  First, lets encourage life.  Some Christians like to shoot the wounded.  Lets not do that.  Never give up on another person.  Water them and encourage them.  Lets do everything we can to help everyone heal and grow in this life.

Second, lets remember that we are all in this together.  We all need each other.  We are the body of Christ and the eyes need the brain, the hands need the skin etc.  Sometimes we have to be carried and sometimes we have to carry others.  Everyone matters and we are all in this together.

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Birds

In response to a post last week about hearing the birds sing, a reader wrote in-

Maybe the reason the birds just keep singing is that they don't "toil or spin." We toil and spin around so much as humans, in this crazy world we live in.

What a great point. Maybe if we slowed down, maybe if we let go of some of the outcomes, we would sing a bit more as well.

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

Monday, May 9, 2016

the painful parts

There are painful parts of this journey.  Changes, heartache, fear of the unknown.  In this life each of us will find some moments of difficult passage.

We will most likely be uncomfortable during those times.  We may want to wish the discomfort away.  We may want to pray it away.  But there is another choice.

Painful times are not necessarily bad times.  Some of the most enriching memories from our past are the times that we went through stressful and challenging experiences.  It has been said by many wise teachers, "you can be in pain and suffer, or you can be in pain and not suffer."

In the midst of difficulty, may we all at least consider savoring the tough days.  When we feel things very strongly, we also feel  the most alive.  Instead of fighting every uncomfortable moment, we can choose to make friends with the pain.

God is good.  Life is good. God is still good.  Life is still good.  Into each life a little rain must fall.  Sometimes it is good to walk in the rain and thank God for the gifts of a rainy day.

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

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

One of the most beneficial holidays in my opinion is Mothers Day.  I cannot think of any person or class of people that deserve to be honored more than our mothers.

First of all, if you are a guy, you have no idea, we have no idea what mom's go through.  The changes to their bodies.  Their hopes and dreams.  To carry a new life inside of you 24 hours a day for 9 months.  The travail of birth.  Yikes.........
Then the transition back to the work force or the transition back to life as it was before, if that were even possible.  A new life to juggle.  Now she must become a teacher.  Tie your shoes, brush your teeth.  Then comes the heartaches: the sassy mouth, the pulling away of the teenage years.  Finally this child that you brought into this world leaves for college.

I have had more people on my deck in tears over they years because their kid moved away than for any other reason.

Moms always love us.  They are always there for us.  We owe them more than one day.  We owe them a lifetime of gratitude.

Mom - Thank You!!!!  Thank You!!!

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

Saturday, May 7, 2016

the sadness of life

I was listening to someone talk the other day about the sadness of life.  Not the sadness in their life, but the sadness of life in general- this idea that all of us from time to time have to face things that are difficult and we can easily become discouraged.

I understand this.  I resemble this.  Loneliness, sadness, sorrow, and loss are companions for most of us on this journey of life.  Without making light of such feelings, I want to suggest that we do have choices.  Yes, sad things happen, but we have a choice.  We can fall into depression and wallow in the feelings, or we can work to combat the feelings.

Life is too short to succumb to sorrow.  It is not glorifying to God if we are stuck in sadness for long periods of time.  So let's get to work.  Make new friends.  Read a good book.  Get some exercise.  Stay busy.

Mostly I would tell you that we fight such powerful feelings by seeing the good.  By finding one thing that is going right.  In a world where 99 things are wrong, find the one thing that is right and focus on that.  When we see something that is good, when we see something that is a blessing, it turns a person's attitude.  At least it turns mine.

I end each blog with a tag line.  It is the same every day.  I don't just write it for you.  I also  write it for me.  Sometimes we need it more than others.  Here it is, one more time-

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


Friday, May 6, 2016

Vero Beach and Cape Coral

Several people have asked me about the apparent challenge with owning a home on the Atlantic side in Vero Beach, and being appointed to a church on the gulf side in Cape Coral.

This is how we intend to handle this.

First of all, we will move into the parsonage in CC.  We want to be a part of the community and get to know the fine people of CC1.

My wife travels every week and will end up sleeping a night or two each week at our home in Vero because she will be on that side of the state.  Our daughter who lives in Vero will be by on a regular basis to try out the swimming pool.  I will treat it like a lake house and get there as I can.  [you know when you only work one day a week, you have a lot of free time.]

It is about 3 hours from Vero to Cape Coral.  The good news is for me, I will be seeing my lovely wife 5 days a week!  Hip hip hooray!!

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

Thursday, May 5, 2016

holiday

There is a holiday coming up pretty soon.  It's a Latin holiday Cinco-de-mayo or something like that.  When is Cinco-de-mayo this year?

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

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hear the birds

thank God we are not electrocuted!!
I  received a note from a reader.  They wrote: "I am trying to handle great change. I pray for courage daily. I am awaiting the bird song. All is silent now."

We have all felt this feeling:  The heavens are brass.  If God is there I don't sense him at all.  I believe, Lord help my unbelief.  

I am supposed to hear the birds sing?  I don't hear anything- the pain of life is just pounding in my ears.

So dear reader, let me talk to you.  I am sobbing as I write this.  Hearing the birds sing is not about waiting for a day when the clouds part and the sun is shining.  If you have trouble, sometimes it does not go away.  Parents of troubled children still must listen for the birds to sing.  People with arthritis must still listen for the song of the bird.  Get it straight in your mind and heart that the birds sing every day, regardless of what is going on.

Keep asking, keep praying, keep seeking, keep knocking.  God is there.  God IS there and the birds are singing.  I am praying for you that you will find the joy, don't give up.

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


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tribes

I am going to rant a bit today.  I love the Royals, but I love baseball more, and I love people more than sports. We went to the games when the Royals were terrible because we loved baseball.  Just because we have won the world series and our team appears to be emerging from 30 years of funk does not give us the right to hurt others.

 Sometimes we get too hung up on “our team”or “our colors.”  I am fine with you rooting for whomever you want, but it is never appropriate to throw our colors into other people’s faces.  Some people think it’s funny to make fun of KU or the Mets or whomever.  It isn’t.  People are attached to their teams, just as we are.  Enjoy the game but never forget, it is only a game.   We should not be hurting each other by insisting that our tribe is better than their tribe, even if others have treated us that way.  If you are with a friend and they are watching their team, root for their team, even if it isn’t your team.  After all, your friend is on your team isn’t he or she?  Let’s learn to root for everybody.  I think that is what Jesus would do.

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

Monday, May 2, 2016

To Laugh

I have a friend that I like quite a bit.  I was thinking the other day of why I like him.  And it occurred to me, he makes me laugh.  He makes everyone laugh. 

Life can get serious- too serious.  My life can be real serious sometimes.  It is so nice to have people that have ornery left handed  ways of making us laugh.  Laughter is good for the soul.

Tell a joke.  Tell a funny story.  Look for the irony in a moment.  Bring a smile to someone’s face. We are all the better for it.


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

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Crucify me

I visited with an old friend the other day.   I invited him back to church.  He said, “oh, those people would crucify me.”

I told him that it was a big church and there were plenty of places to hide if he needed to do that.  But how sad, to think that others would want to get even or exact revenge.  How sad that sometimes it is true that people do want to hurt back, and how sad it is to live in such fear of retaliation.  This person does not realize that he has been forgiven.

There are difficult things that happen in this life.  Life is messy.  Somehow we have to find the grace to move along.  If we believe that God can forgive all sins, then maybe someday we will learn to do so as well-  To forgive even our own sins, to finally believe that grace is bigger than whatever it is that I have done.

Blessed is the man or woman who does not hold a grudge. 
Blessed is the the man or woman who releases others from their sins.
Blessed are the persons who forgive themselves.

Life is short and life is good.  Let’s do everything that we can to live in the joy of the positive.

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

Saturday, April 30, 2016

What we don't know

I was reading about this somewhere…..  We don’t need people that know everything.  Those are dangerous people indeed.  We need people who know that they don’t know everything.  We need people whose paradigm is open.  We need to be driven by our desire to be whole, not our insistence that know it all.  Healthy people listen to others and learn.  

I once asked a very knowledgeable friend of mine how he got so smart, how he learned all the things that he knows.  He said, “my dad always told me that you have two ears and one mouth, so listen more than you talk.”  This is hard for a preacher to admit, but sometimes we need to talk less and listen more.  If we don’t listen more, we will be doomed to a life that is limited by our confining paradigms.  I don’t know about you, but I want more from life than that.


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

Friday, April 29, 2016

Grace

Another airplane story.  Monday I flew to Vero Beach to spend the week with Cathy and visit with folks at the Cape Coral church.  I will be back on Sunday to preach.

As a general rule, I don't talk to people on airplanes.  I mean I am polite and helpful, but I don't strike up random conversations.  I figure that they bought their seat, not me, and their space and time is theirs, not mine to intrude into.  So I usually just put on my headphones, mind my own business and listen to music during the flight.

So on the leg to Atlanta on Monday, there were two big guys talking loudly across the isle.  My headphones are noise cancelling, so I could hear them, but I didn't know what they were talking about.  When we landed, the man closest to me said to the other man, "and that is why grace is so amazing."

I felt my heart strangely warmed.  I couldn't stop myself.  I reached across the isle, tapped him and we talked for 5 minutes about grace.  Oh, what a joyful talk!  What a joyful topic.  How thankful I am for grace!  How I wish I would have known more of it as a young man.  What a blessing to know that we are loved by God!

I had an odd thought- maybe I should get a small tattoo on my hand.  Just the word Grace.  Simple and readable.  Maybe someone would see it and want to talk about grace.  Would anyone mind if I got such a tattoo?

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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Can Jeff come back?

Several have asked me if I can return to do their family weddings or funerals. The United Methodist Church sets policy regarding such requests. In the Methodist brochure: Clergy on the Move we find these words:

A new pastor comes to an appointment with all the rights and responsibilities of the office. This means the pastor has left the previous appointment and turned that ministry over to a new pastor.

It is not ethical for a pastor to return to a previous appointment to conduct weddings or funerals or to take part in an ongoing function of the church or perform pastoral functions. A former pastor may participate in weddings or funerals ONLY at the initiation and direct invitation of the pastor in charge.

It is helpful for the laity to assist in the adjustment of the new pastor by not asking the former pastor to return, except as a friend or visitor.


There are two main reasons for this policy. First, if a former pastor returns, it interferes with the new pastor's ability to get to know the congregation and be seen as their pastor. Secondly, if pastors return to previous appointments for such things, it takes away from their ability to be effective in their new setting. When I moved to Woods Chapel I was asked several times to go back to Princeton for funerals and weddings. I never did. I wanted to be fully present for my new Woods Chapel friends.

There may be a time in the future when a return would be permissible, but only at the direct invitation of the current pastor. For the foreseeable future, I can't see myself coming back. I hope you understand. Its not what everyone prefers, but it is the right thing for both churches. And as my Daddy always said, the right thing to do is the right thing to do.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

live it


“We don't think ourselves into a new way of living; we live ourselves into a new way of thinking." – Richard Rohr

It can be tough to change. It is hard to break free of familiar. I think it is important to go after the things (thinking and doing) outside of what is easy and comfortable.  Being around those who have dared to do so already is a step in that direction. There are people who challenge us without saying a word - all they do is live it.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man