Monday, December 31, 2007

church yesterday

I went to church yesterday, I hope that you did too. Your church needs your support no matter who is preaching. Terry made a nice comment on yesterday's post about what a great job Clay did and how the message touched her son.

When we miss church, we miss a chance to feel the presence of God. We miss the chance to be connected with God and with others. If we miss church too much, we start to feel like the world revolves around us. Church keeps us grounded.

Today I attended the Mt. Zion UMC in New Orleans. Connie Thomas is the pastor. When it was time for service to start, the piano player began plunking out an old gospel tune. The choir came in from the back, with a shuffle and a sway. They made their way to the front and began to sing:

I thank God,
I thank God,
I thank God,
for one more day.

The service was awesome. I don't get to go to church much and just worship. I cried through the whole service. It was great.

The Mt. Zion church is still in great disrepair from the hurricane. Services are held in the fellowship hall. Most of these people still live in FEMA trailers. With all of their problems, in the bulletin today, they had a little envelope for those who wanted to help the homeless in New Orleans. The needy reaching out to the more needy.

It was all so very inspirational.

I thank God.
I thank God.
I thank God
for one more day.

The role of the spiritual life is so very important to we human beings. It is wonderful to feel the touch of God from time to time.

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

Sunday, December 30, 2007


So, I am out driving around in New Orleans. Delivering tools and supplies. Spending time with workers and home owners. I also need to buy some postage stamps to mail thank you cards, so I am looking for a place to buy stamps. Try to find a post office in a town that you are unfamiliar with. By the way, there are no blue mailboxes here. After Katrina, they were all underwater, the mail was wet and rotten and the post office took them out. You have to find a mail carrier or go to the post office to mail a letter.

Walgreens. There it is. I wonder if they have stamps. I pull in and park. This is not a good part of town. How do you know that it is not a good part of town? Well, that is a judgement isn't it. Lets see. The houses are not very nice, the people are dressed poorly. The neighborhood and the people have an unkempt look to them. People are loitering here and there. I felt afraid. Isn't that wrong? Come on Jeff. These are people.

I go into Walgreens. I am waiting in line to buy stamps. The man in front of me in line, he is about 25 and poor. Dirty, smelly, and about 4 foot eight inches tall. You know, some people have a hard life. Some of the people who are not our beautiful people are God's beautiful people.

The young man is in line to buy 2 packets of microwave popcorn. Not boxes, two packets. You and I buy a box of six packets of popcorn. This Walgreens sells it by the individual packet. I guess there is a market for individual packets of microwave popcorn in this neighborhood. Two packets of popcorn costs .82 cents. The young man digs into his pockets and presents a handful of change. No quarters, mostly nickels and pennies. Either the kind of change you have after you have spent your good change, or the kind of change that you pick up here and there on the sidewalk.

It's not enough. He only has about 58 cents. I immediately do what each of you would have done, I pull out two quarters and put them on the counter. The man looks me in the eye and very deliberately says "thank you." Piercing words from his world to mine. He paid for his popcorn and then tried to give me the extra change.

I walked out of the Walgreens and returned to my life. A missions trip. A van owned by the church. A plane flight home. A wife that loves me. Three great kids. A nice home. Cars, computers, bicycles, tools, friends and a great job.

He walked out of the Walgreens with two bags of microwave popcorn.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


There is a stray cat that lives at the Uptown Station in New Orleans. Actually, I guess it is not a stray, it is simply homeless. It stands at the back door and yowls for food. It is very skinny. It has evidently been fed a few times because it keeps coming back.

I felt some compassion for it so I put out a donut for it. Hey, it was breakfast time. He didn't eat it. The next day I found a can of sardines. Wow, cat in cat heaven. The next day I bought a bag of meow mix. I knew he would like that because cats ask for it by name.

When I leave, maybe someone will feed the cat, and maybe they won't. I don't know. Maybe it will live it's life and go the way of so many strays. Cold, frightened, hungry.

There are some people down here like this cat. Every day in front of Lowes and Home Depot, there are at least 100 men standing out there looking for work. Homeowners come to buy supplies and then take one or two of the men home, and pay them to help with repairs. It is very sad to see so many men just sitting and waiting to work. It reminds me of the pictures from the depression.

Underneath the highway there is a tent city. Blocks and blocks of tents grouped together where stray people live. It is the saddest thing I have seen in a long time. I hear that many people stopped and brought food and presents at Christmas, but who feeds them the rest of the year?

Compassion fatigue. That is when you get tired of caring. I am afraid that sometimes, we even get tired of talking about being tired of caring. "Don't bother me with the needs of others, just let me go back to my life."

Friends, we are blessed. So very blessed.

We can make it a beautiful day for others.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto

By now you have certainly heard that Mrs. Bhutto was killed. Shot twice right before a massive explosion killed many around her. Her assassins meant business and unfortunately, they succeeded. Our sympathy and prayers to her family and friends.

I am sad for any country where the people behave this way. There are others besides Pakistan. Political opposition leaders in Lebanon and Iran die on a regular basis. Fatah and Hamas supporters in Gaza routinely kill each other.

Can you imagine an America where the six republican candidates were all trying to kill each other? Can you imagine a country where the one who becomes leader is the only one left alive? Wow, how totally primitive. We have a lot to be thankful for.

Change the subject.

New Orleans, Uptown Station, Day 3
Did you know that your church owns a 16 foot house trailer and a van that are both parked at the Uptown relief station? The Mt. 28 project deploys people into the mission field for 30 days. I will not be here for 30 days, but many of your friends from Woods Chapel have. The trailer is nice and the van is adequate. Its a 99 Dodge Caravan. The seats are out of it so it can be used to haul tools around. It runs like a top.

Yesterday, I hauled tools around to three different groups. I made several trips to Lowes to purchase supplies for the teams. I took the van in for a well overdue oil change. Last night, I cleaned up around the Station, visited with some of the team members and went to bed.

New Orleans has made some progress in 2.4 years since Hurrican Katrina, but it still has a very long way to go. It is very easy for us to forget the needs of others who are down and out. We get busy in our lives and forget the needy. The mission field is still in great need of people to go. I am glad I am here, it's a good reminder.

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

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Uptown Station, New Orleans

Today I am in New Orleans at the Uptown Station. The Uptown Station is one of six hurricane relief centers in New Orleans that deploys crews to work on the homes of hurricane Katrina victims.

Woods Chapel has made a commitment to have someone down here every month to help the staff of the uptown station. We didn't have anyone in December, and there were a couple of weeks that had lots of people coming down. Bob J took the first week, and I took the this week.

It is really important that the pastor spends time every year in "hands on" missions. For that matter it is good for every Christian to do so. If I don't get out and stay in touch with the needy, I can start to think that real life is about a chair, a desk, a sermon and a suburban church.

Yesterday was slow here, but the work picked up last night.

Somewhere there is someone that you can help today. Don't miss your chance.

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

the gift that keeps on giving

Yesterday my wife opened nothing from me, and I opened nothing from her. This was by agreement. In some years past, we made the same agreement, but someone, usually me, broke the agreement and bought a gift for the other.

This year, she got nothin. I got nothin. And you know what, it didn't bother me a bit. In fact, I have a very interesting feeling about the whole thing. I feel like, "I don't need" a gift from her. I feel this way because life with someone that you care about is a gift all the time.

This is not just a husband-wife phenomenon, it is true of good friends as well. There are people that don't need to give you anything, because they give all year long. I am fortunate to know many people like this. Just knowing them is a gift.

I believe that we have the ability to bring out the best or the worst in others. When we care about them, it tends to make them care about us. "The lover creates the love." When you pour out goodness and grace to others, it usually tends to come back your way.

I want to thank all of you for the gift that you are to me.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Night Before Christmas at church

Twas the night before Christmas and all thru the Church,
All the kids were excited for Santa to perch.

His reindeer and sleigh all filled up with toys,
would be coming tonight for good girls and boys.

Then all of a sudden there rose such a clatter,
that even the Preacher wondered what was the matter.

From up near the rafters we heard a great song,
of millions of angels singing along.

The candles burned brighter and all became aware,
that a wonderful presence had just entered there.

Such a peace and a joy did descend on the crowd,
that many joined in and sang out loud.

Their voices joined in a sweet melody,
of God's great love for you and for me.

A smile on each face, and love in each heart,
the song praised God for being so smart.

For sending his Son to show us the way,
and so making Christmas a wonderful day.

Then the children grew quiet and listened its true,
to the story of Jesus who came here for you.

Of shepherds and wisemen and gifts of gold,
of hay, and a stable and a night so cold.

And then rising up, all the people exclaimed
Thanks be to God for healing our shame.

The air that night was filled with such splendor,
that even the smallest of children remember

That God came down that Christmas day,
and we forgot about Santa, for a minute, anyway.

Jeff Brinkman, 1988

Monday, December 24, 2007

In the fullness of time.

The time was right. Their hearts were heavy. They were ready for a change. It had been 400 years since a prophet had been seen in Israel. In the fullness of time, God sent His son to be our savior.

Are you open? Are you ready? Is the time right for you? Today as you attend worship services, wherever you may live, enter the sanctuary looking for the presence of the Christ child. He will not disappoint you.

The time is right. The time is now. Are you ready to welcome Him?

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

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Christmas Spirit

I believe it is finally here. For me, at least. I hope that it is here for you as well. Good thing it has arrived too, cause we were snowed in at the house last night. Mom, Dad and 3 big grown up kids. We had dinner together, Christmas music was playing. All of the things that I have been worried about, seem to be taken care of. It's good. It's all good.

With all of the "bah humbug" that goes around at this time of year, everyone deserves a little bit of "ho ho ho." A little bit of joy, a full dose of Christ-mas. I wish it for you, my friend.

Merry Christmas.

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

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Weather forecast

As I sit here making sure the sermon is what it should be, or what I can make of it, the weather forecast is grim. 4-6 inches of snow.

We will have church.

Becky said it well two weeks ago. If Walmart can stay open, the church can stay open. And it's Christmas. Christmas.

We will be open.

Come if you can, be safe. It is always a holy time in service when people make a special effort to be in church.

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

brush pile part 2

A very dear friend, reminded me in a comment, [see yesterday's post] that I am not always thinking as I should. In her comment, she suggest that maybe I should go to the person's door instead of filing a complaint with the home owners association about the brush pile.

She is right. Maybe I should. Even though this person is a repeat offender, and I have had to clean up after him in the past, maybe I should just go knock on his door.

I can't tho. I am afraid. There is a little kid in me that just can't do it. I don't like confrontations. I hate conflict.

Hey, its almost Christmas, what am I worried about brush for anyway?

There is some real darkness at Christmas. Family problems, work problems, relationship problems. It piles up. I feel it. It is real.

Into this darkness, into this modern day despair, a little light must shine. And so it is Christmas. May the many ways that I have not been a good Christian, be healed by the arrival of the Savior. May all of our despairs be turned into hope.

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

Friday, December 21, 2007

dumping brush

Merry Christmas. One of the neighbors that live behind us trimmed their trees. Then they dumped the brush over their fence and drug it out into the commons area. Now everyone gets to see their brush. Thank you. Thank you very much.

I am off on Fridays. So, today I get to go file complaints with two different home owners associations.

Last time this happened, I had to personally haul off the brush.

Ok. Let me whine. Whaaaaaaaaaaa.

Alright. I have control of myself. Is this the worst thing that will happen to me today? There are people who are facing far worse. And, I am alive and healthy. If I were sick would I trade dealing with the brush to be well. Yes, of course. So, I am well. The brush is no big deal. It is still Christmas, life is still good.

What will you face today? What inconvenience? What annoyance? Traffic? Crowds? Disappointment?

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

Thursday, December 20, 2007

giving people room

I believe that people need room. Room to search, room to discover, room to be. They do not need me to push on them or pile on, or guilt them.

They don't need to have to live up to my expectations. They don't need the pressure. They don't need me to decide for them, how they should live. I am not the Holy Spirit.

That doesn't mean that I don't have good ideas, or that you don't have good ideas to help people. What it means is that they will not receive them if we are pushing. They will not welcome them if they are being stuffed down their throats.

Many years ago, I had a non-Christian friend that I vigorously tried to win to Christ. He resisted me until I finally gave up. Months later, I was shocked when he wanted to talk about faith. I asked him, "why do you want to talk now, when you didn't want to talk all the other times?" He said, "no one responds well under pressure." He just needed some time to think about what was going on.

God can do His work, in His way, in His time. He doesn't need us to be the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to just love the people you are with. Give them space, give them room. Give them grace. It's not grace if it is force fed.

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

walking wounded

Last night I ran into a friend from church.

What do you think when you see people? This couple, I always thought, "well, there are some nice folks with nice kids and a beautiful life."

That's not bad thinking, that's ok to think, I think. I thought.

Last night, I found out that this was her second marriage, that her first husband died when she was 25. Whoa.

Oh my gosh. Think of the hurt, the suffering, and the character that it would take to walk through that dark valley. I will never look at that person the same way again.

Now, when I see her, I will think, "what a hero, what a pillar. I'll bet I could learn something from her."

So, what do you see when you look at others? I guess we should value their depth and character even when we don't know their story. If they are good folks, there might just be a reason that they got that way.

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Secret Santas

Our friends at channel 9 had a great clip on TV last night and this morning about new Secret Santas that have hit the streets. They are giving away $150,000 this year, $100 at a time. The bills are stamped with the name of our friend, Larry Stewart.

I miss Larry. Not because he had a lot of money, or because he gave a lot of money to needy people, I miss Larry because he was a great man with a great heart. He was kind and fun and funny. He loved people.

We don't appreciate each other as much as we should. One day, the people that you love will just be gone. Larry reminded us of a real truth, that every day, we can do an act of kindness. Maybe you can't give away $100 bills. That's ok. There is something that you can do. There is always a need for some act of kindness. If you are looking for it, you will see it. There is no better feeling than to perform an act of kindness, to take a cup of cold water in the name of the Lord.

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

Monday, December 17, 2007


lol = Laugh out loud. This is short hand that the kids use in their text messages. Tonight, I laughed out loud. At myself. It is healthy to be able to laugh at yourself and last night I gave myself a good reason to do so.

Laughter is good medicine. With all of the worry and stress in the world, humor can be a real blessing.

So, here is the story.

This morning at church, I received a nice Christmas gift from one of the ladies who sells Avon products. A small bottle of hand lotion and two flavored chap sticks. One appeared to be lime, the other cherry.

After church at 1215, I emptied my pockets onto my desk and went home. Used bulletins, cough drops, a small bottle of lotion and two chap sticks were left behind.

I was back at church for the 5:00 service. I like going to church on Sunday night a lot, because I can worship. Kris, Clay, Sherri and Gina have the service well in hand and I just get to sit back and enjoy being in church. That is a good thing.

I leave my office to head to the sanctuary. I always take a pen to take notes, a cough drop or two, and this time, I picked up the cherry chap stick. You know, its winter, and in cold weather, a chap stick can be a good friend.

I am a few minutes late to service because I had so show someone how to find the gym. When I arrive, the first song is over, the prayer is over and it is greeting time. I hug a few necks and sit down in the back. It's quiet, it's peaceful. I love going to church in our church.

I pop a cough drop and put on some of the chap stick.

I hear the door open and I turn around to see Lynn coming in. She is looking for a bulletin. I don't know where they are at, so I just give her mine. I think we are done talking so I turn to sit down. She stops me.

You ready for this?

Lynn says, "Jeff you have red lipstick all over your face."

Oops. It wasn't chap stick. I am off to the bathroom to clean up. Funny. I am laughing at myself. It is a deep reddish purple color. Kind of hard to get off too. I am not leaving this bathroom until this stuff is off my face.

I can't believe it. Well, its good to laugh and it is good to laugh at yourself sometimes.

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

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas worry

Worried about something? Bothered about something? Christmas is such a big, busy time, it is very easy to be stressed out about something. I have a few things on my mind.

What to do? We should do the same thing that we always do. Remember Jesus words from the sermon on the mount: "seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, then all these things will be added unto you."

When we remember to think about Jesus, the worries of the day just seem to fade into the background. Try it. Right now, think about Jesus.

Good morning, Lord. I love you. I thank you for the day. I trust you. I praise you. Thank you for all that you do and all that you are.

See how that works? Lets keep our minds set on Him. I feel better already.

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

Saturday, December 15, 2007

no gifts

Ten shopping days left. Hurry, go get the right thing. Don't disappoint anyone. Spend a bit more on them each year. Spend more on them than they spend on you.

Weeks to shop, days to wrap, minutes to open. Its all over so fast. Is there anything else in life that has so much preparation for such a few short minutes? We used to try and stretch out the present opening time by making people take turns. One year we had a scavenger hunt. We hid presents all over the house. The kids woke up and found nothing under the tree but a clue. They had to figure out where to go and look. When they found the first batch of gifts, there was another clue. That was alot of fun, but it was also lots of work.

What if there were no gifts at Christmas? No money for anything. No presents, no tree, no stockings, no chimney. No candy, no fruitcake, no feasting. No football.

Hey, this will preach.

What if all there was for Christmas was the story of the baby. God sent a baby. A Savior. Is that enough. Would that be enough for you?

When you think about it, that's really all we have. The gifts break, the food is consumed, it is all transient and perishing. Except the story of the baby. He is still here. He is enough for you. Receive him, that's what Christmas is about. That's the only thing that Christmas is about.

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

Friday, December 14, 2007

Final Exams

My kids are all taking finals this week. Tonight, all of the chicks will come home to roost for Christmas break.

Do you remember final exams? I usually dreaded them. Final exams are the inevitable reminder that we are held accountable by a higher power. Some students blame the teacher for their bad grades. "He was a bad teacher," they say. Or, "she didn't like me."

Fact is, our grade is our responsibility. We have the entire semester to get ready, and the results at the end have everything to do with how we carried our self during the entire life span of the course.

So it is with life. There is a final exam. A judgement day. A time when each of us will stand before our Lord and give an account of our choices. Let's be sure to carry ourselves in a way that we are ready to go and at peace in our heart when the time comes. Let's let grace rise above guilt, mercy over judgement, and may forgiveness be the rule. If we live in this manner, we will be ready and our first step into eternity will be welcomed. It will feel like going home.

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

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas lights

One of my favorite parts of Christmas has always been the lights. Lights on houses, lights on trees, lights on the plaza. When I was a kid, my family would drive down to the plaza every year and see the lights. There was a building near Main and Volker that always had slides of the nativity shining up on the side of their building. Does anyone else remember that? Do you remember what building that was?

We have always put lights on houses. Jon C taught me how to cut them and size them to run wherever you want them to go. A couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to leave the world of multicolor lights and go to blue and green. Blue Springs South colors, my kids remind me. Well that may be true, but I chose the colors, and changed them out a few at a time because I thought the colors were peaceful. The picture on the blog right now is of our house. Blue and green, and yes, one random red light.

Why is there a random red light? Why do you think.

The women at our house don't like it, they say our house has a blemish. Its the house with the pimple. Scott gets it.

If you saw the movie, "the mask" the red light is the howling scene. If you saw the movie, "the new kid," the red light is "crazy eyes." It is that little reminder that someone who lives there is just not quite right. Ask me about the red light and I will show you what I mean.

Life gets a bit routine sometime. Every heart, every life needs a reminder. A reminder to be alive, to be aware, to be awake. This is not just another day, this is not just another house, this is not just another person. God made everyone special. Every moment is to be savored. Good things are going on.

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Evan Almighty

Sunday night I watched to movie "Evan Almighty." Thank you my friend LB for loaning it to me. Friends this is a great show. Suitable for children. Neat stuff.

I caught something in the movie that I had been fishing for in my brain. It goes like this....if you pray for patience, God doesn't give patience, he gives you the opportunity to become more patient. If you pray for humility, [dangerous prayer] he doesn't send humility, but opportunities for you to be humbled. We want a magic injection, God expects us to grow.

Makes you wonder about what to ask for in prayer doesn't it? We all want to get better, we just don't want to do the hard work to get better. To just expect to become more patient or humble without the suffering of the learning, is asking for God to do magic.

This will preach. Soon to be heard in a church near you.

It was a great show. I recommend it. LeAnn Rimes does a great song, "are you ready for a miracle?" I hear the gospel choir firing it up after the first of the year.

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

your comment

Dear Friend,

I got the feeling that you didn't want me to post your comment so I won't. But since you commented the other day, you have been on my mind.

I didn't know that you were a reader of the blog. That makes me feel good. We go back a long way. You have worked for years behind the scenes. You never wanted any accolades. You were one of the first people that I met when I came here. We have lots of memories. You helped me in some very difficult times.

I want you to know that I appreciate you. Very much. I think God sees you and He is happy. Thanks for being you. Thanks for caring. Week after week, you are a stable, constant, presence. Thank you. Thank you very much.

I have to share a bit of your comment because I found it humorous and valuable. You are right, "if Walmart can stay open, the church can stay open."

May God bless you in special ways this day and this Christmas season.

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

Monday, December 10, 2007


Yowlza. The Cantata rocked. Best I have ever heard. Not to demean other years or other times, but the Choir cantata rocked on so many levels.

1. excellent use of the children's voices in mix with the adults.

2. excellent solos and soloists.

3. orchestra rocked.

4. orchestra and choir were a perfect balance of sound.

5. 19 men in the choir. 29 women!!!!!!

6. Greg Steele

7. Kris

8. Everyone of you. It was awesome.

I also have a bit of a history with the song, "We are the reason." Anyway, I was touched. Thank you all so very very much. You helped us see the good. I am still flying high. If I don't feel one other thing this Christmas season, if God pulls back and I am dry for the next two weeks, I have already had Christmas. You gave it to me yesterday. I am full. I am so glad that we did not cancel church services.

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

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Yes we are having church today

Yes, we are going to have worship services today. I haven't been outside yet, but we are going to have church. I may have to scrape the windows on the truck and warm it up for 15 minutes and leave early to get there, but we will have church.

In a church the size of ours, if you cancel, there will still be 200 people who show up because they did not get the word. So we never cancel.

The other problem with cancelling church is that it sends a very bad message. Too much snow and God stays home. We live in a world where people are inclined to think about their comfort and convenience. I like to help create a world where God comes first, where the positive choices that we make bring goodness and grace to our days.

Now, if you can't make it today, thats ok. Be safe. We don't want anyone injured or stuck in a snow drift. But, if you can throw on an extra shirt and hat, if you have a car that will get you here, then God willing I will be there to greet you.

If there is no piano player, we can sing without music. If no hospitality team members show up, then I will open the door for you myself. We will preach and sing and praise God, just you and I. So come if you can.

[I just started the truck. Its not bad in my driveway. I can't tell you what yours is like, but mine is crispy snow.]

Come if you can.

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

Saturday, December 8, 2007

snowball fight

Thursday night there was a nice snow laying on the ground. Scott and I had just finished shovelling the driveway. Mom let Lou the dog out to do his thing. About the same time, the neighbor's door opens and they let out their little dog. The neighbors are Iowa State fans, so their dog is named "Cyclone." At least they have a reason. No one knows why Lou is named "Lou."

The dogs hang out and do what dogs do. Their behavior is not fit to be discussed in this forum, but lets just say that we would be upset if people were behaving like that in the front yard.

Now my neighbor comes out on the porch in his bare feet to call his dog. My neighbor is a great man. Nice, kind, funny and a good father. Unfortunately, all Scott sees when the neighbor comes out onto the porch is a target. The pickup truck has collected enough ammunition and Scott begins to lob snowballs at our neighbor.

You know, a person needs to think about things before they act. Our neighbor is young, buff, and in shape. He is also a former professional hockey player who has an excellent arm.

Soon, Scott is overwhelmed by the snowballs that are coming back at him.

I decide to come to his rescue. So the game is on. A 16 year old with limited snow ball fight experience and an old man vs a professional athlete who has no shoes on. I have been in many snow ball fights and I am ok with the odds.

What is it about? Is not about anything really. There is no score to settle. It's not about getting his dog back, it's not really about pride, this is just what boys do. Give them a yard filled with snowball snow and there is going to be a fight.

Opinions will be offered for years about who won, but I am fine to just consider it a draw. I worry tho about the next time it snows and Scott is not around. Mano e mano against my neighbor would not go well for me.

After a long, nasty drive home in that snow storm, it was nice to put the snow to good use. Unfortunately, I will now live in fear of what he will do the next time he sees me going to get into my truck. I guess we should all remember that the guy next door is not a primarily a target, he is our neighbor.

Fact is, there are alot of people around us that we treat like targets that should be treated like neighbors.

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

Friday, December 7, 2007

my aunt

Yesterday I was in Kirkwood, MO. It is a suburb of St. Louis. My mom was born and raised there and we were there when I was growing up 3x per year. Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and sometimes in the summer.

On or about July 20, 1969, when we first landed on the moon, I was in Kirkwood and we watched Neil Armstrong on a 12" black and white TV.

I was in Kirkwood to visit the pastor at the Methodist Church there. Good man. Great man. I got smarter just listening to him.

On the way to the Kirkwood church, I realize that "I know where I am." Although I have not been here for years, and I was never old enough to drive when I was here, Somehow, I know where I am. It is like this town was imprinted on my brain as a child. I drive past grandma's house.....still there. On the way home, I decide I will stop by and try to find my aunt. I have not seen her since mom died in 95. I think about where I am and where her house must be. Everything looks so much smaller than I remember. But, I know where I am and I drove right to her house, parked in the drive and rang the bell. I wondered what she would think when she saw me. I wondered if she would remember me.

Well, she opened the door and a grin came upon her face. "Jeffrey, get in this house!" We had a nice visit and then I drove home in the snow storm. I do not like driving in snow storms.

Point of the story about my aunt: She recognized me.

You think God has forgotten about you? You think he doesn't know what you are up to? Think he is out with other folks and you are no longer on his mind? Pull into the drive and knock on his door. He remembers you, he may just be waiting for you to come by and spend some time with him. No matter how long it has been, the door is always open and he still remembers your name.
Its a beautiful day in Gods world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

sad news

Sometimes the news is too much to bear.

Omaha: Eight killed in a mall. Why? 19 year old young man with problems. Sounds like his parents were trying to help him. Eight homes grieving this Christmas. I feel sad, powerless. Life shouldn't be like this. There is no purpose for such murder.

Detroit: ex boyfriends shoots his ex girlfriend and when her 7 year old daughter jumps in the way to protect her mom, he shoots the daughter six times. You have got to be kidding me.

We could go on and on, there is plenty of other such news.

Do you ever get tired of hearing bad news. Some people are impossible to figure out. How do we even begin to make sense of senseless acts?

I am so glad that we are brokers of God's love. We are dispensers of grace. In a world gone mad, I know some people who are actively doing everything that they can to make the world a better place. If you are reading this, you are one of them. There may be some bad folks in the world that don't care about anything, but I know some good folks who do care. I am glad to be counted among them.

Sometimes all you can do is hold to the good, trust in God, and keep sharing his love.

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


On the way to a seminar. I need to get smarter. That is why we go to seminars, to get smarter.

I clearly need to get smarter. Take the decision I made to try to save some money by staying in a cheap hotel. I shouldn’t have. This place is scary.

200 rooms, 10 are filled. There is a reason for that. Trash cans catch the drips from leaks in the ceiling in the hallways. Dirty. Upgrades done 30 years ago were done in a way that actually devalued the property. The sink is plugged up. The ceiling tiles in the bathroom are wet from some leak above. The texture is peeling off of the walls.

What do I expect for $49.99? That used to be a lot of money. I guess not any more. Tonight I think I will spend an extra $30 and stay in a room where I am not the only one on the wing.

At moments like this we should pause and find something to be thankful for.

Let's see, what am I thankful for? We live in a land where we can drive state to state without having to show papers. I am healthy. I did sleep well. There is wireless internet in the lobby. And I am thankful that I am leaving in a few to move on down the road.

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

the advent calendar

When I was a kid, my mom and dad gave the three of us kids an advent calendar. It was beautiful. Covered with glitter and texture and beautiful colors. There were 24 or so little doors on the calendar. Each day during advent, you would open up one of the little doors. Behind each door was a gift or object of Christmas. Finally, behind the last door, was the baby in the manger. This door was to be opened only on Christmas eve.

Sometimes, ok, everytime, I would sneak a peek and see the baby early. Kids just do that kind of stuff.

The problem with the advent calendar was that it added to the anticipation and excitement about Christmas. We were so looking forward to December 25th, that we didn't care about December 1-24. They were days that couldn't go by fast enough.

Well, now I think back on how silly that was. 24 days wasted. Wished away. Reading the Sears "wish book."

I think we adults do that sometimes, waiting for a vacation to get here or just "working for the weekend."

There are no days that are throw away. No days are "precursor only." Every day is a good day, as good as any other and we need to live each of them to the fullest. If you have children, don't let them miss December 1-24. Teach them what we believe ourselves, that every day is a sacred opportunity.

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

Monday, December 3, 2007

Life is fragile

Saturday night, a good friend of ours went to be with the Lord. Jim Rubino sang in the choir and sang in the gospel choir. He died peacefully in his sleep.

Jim was always friendly and positive. He helped people without fanfare and expected nothing in return. He did his acts of kindness in secret.

He was positive and joyful. He had a big singing voice and a big heart. He will be missed.

When death comes in like this, suddenly and unexpectedly, it hurts. It startles us and reminds us that life is fragile. Every day is a gift and we never know when our last one will be. Consequently, we should live with a sense of urgency and enjoyment.

Goodbye my friend, Jim. God be with you til we meet again.

May each of us live this day with joy, and appreciation for the gift that it truly is.

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

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A cold morning

It was a cold morning to ring the bell. Not many shoppers were out at 9am. It was too cold and rainy. I wondered, what if hardly anyone comes to shop? Not very many will put in the red kettle. That is ok, I thought, its good just to ring the bell. I am going to keep doing it.

I wonder while I am ringing, and no one is coming, if this is how God feels sometimes. He is calling, and no one notices. He is speaking and no one is listening. What does he do? He keeps calling, he keeps speaking. Thats just what he does.

It's like that at church. If the weather is bad, we will still have service. I have preached to small crowds in the past and I will do it again.

Well, it stopped raining, people came to shop and they gave to the needy. One member of WCC made a special trip up, put in some money, hugged the old guy ringing the bell, and went home. She didn't come to shop, just to give. You have to like that.

In quiet, lonely moments, inconvenient to the human schedule, God is speaking. He is calling. Ringing the bell. Praying that someone will listen. Maybe today is your day. Maybe today is my day. I am glad that God just keeps ringing the bell, calling us to himself.

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

Saturday, December 1, 2007

eternal life

Last night I had a dream. In my dream a member of our church asked me, "what is eternal life?"

First of all, I have to tell you that this is a good dream. I don't know that we control what we dream, and sometimes dreams are odd, strange, or just not nice. So, for all of the things that I could have dreamt, this is a good dream.

Now. What is the answer to the question: What is eternal life.

I think that most Christians think that after we die we will wake up in a heavenly land. That our bodies will be different, but life will go on, only in heaven with Jesus. No tears, no crying, no problems.

These are pretty good beliefs, but they are rooted in our current situation. They are convenient to our current way of thinking. Since we can't really imagine a life that is different than this one, we come up with ideas that make us feel comfortable in this earthly skin. This is our paradigm, our set of life beliefs. It is hard to think beyond the way that we currently think.

It is my belief that the concept of eternal life demands that we think beyond our comfort zone and to think beyond our convenient theologies.

First, I would say about eternal life: it has already begun. You are already alive. After you die an earthly death, you continue to live. Death is just a passage. You don't cease to exist. So point one is that we are now living, and will live into eternity. Eternal life is not a future thing. It is happening to us now. Human death is just a passage, a crossing over. My soul, which is alive, will continue to live into the future.

What I love about that thought is that it causes me to value my human life time on earth in a greater way. I am already an eternal being. Maybe a different skin for this soul on the other side of earthly death, but I am already an eternal being.

Created in the image of God. Sealed by the Holy Spirit. When I think this way, I place a greater value on how I live now.

Specifically I want to say that I try to think constantly about the opportunities that I have to do good in the name of the Lord. I am not saying, "oh I am an eternal being, so I must straighten up." I am not piling on guilt. I am saying this in a positive way. Since I am an eternal being, let me do "all the good I can, to all the people that I can, in every way that I can." [John Wesley]

Since I am an eternal being, I try to be less interested in what kind of car I drive, what kind of clothes that I wear, how many wrinkles are on my face.

Yes I believe in streets of Gold and the river of life that flows into that great city. I also know that the Biblical writers were describing the indescribable. Heaven is that good, at least. I have always tended to believe that we only have an inkling of what God actually has prepared for us.

4For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
Isaiah 64:4

Ok, well that was a big topic from a short dream. I am ringing the bell from 9am-11am at the Independence Walmart, next to Sam's Wholesale club today. If you are going to that Walmart, be sure to stop and say hello.

GB: excellent comment on yesterday's blog. I got smarter when I read it. Thanks.

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

Friday, November 30, 2007

comment on a comment

A few days ago, in a comment, a friends wondered if I am depressed.

No. I am not.

I have the ups and downs. I assume that you do to. I talk to alot of people who are on medication for depression. It is different than having ups and downs.

I am reflective, thoughtful, sometimes sad, concerned or melancholy. But not depressed. I believe that we should do everything that we can to help ourselves be in a good mood. Having a positive attitude is such a blessing to others, and it is good for us too.

Not everyone is able to turn the corner, but all of us that can, should. An occasional down in the dumps is normal, but life is too short to be stuck in sadness.

When I am down, I think about the good. I also stay active. It is important to get to doing something. Sometimes just making a small difference or contribution to the world around you will bring you right out of the blues. Sometimes spending time with a friend will put an end to it. Do you have things that you do to pull you out of the blues? I would like to hear your thoughts.

Hello Bob my friend. You are on my mind today. You will be in my prayers today.

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

Thursday, November 29, 2007

This day

I am awake. I am excited about today. Why? I don't think it is due to content. Here is what is going on today:

I am meeting my boss, the DS for breakfast for my annual review. I have a meeting about what kind of programs will be offered with the new building addition. I have a member coming in to visit about some undisclosed topic. I have an appointment to spend time with a staff person on a sermon that they are working on. I have some reading to get done. I am working on some information for the web site. My wife is in San Antonio today. That is today, the Lord willing.

Well, don't you think that every day should be exciting for a Christian? I had another song stuck in my head when I woke up today. Where do they come from? Its a country song. By the way, I like both kinds of music: country and western. Alabama did this song:

Give me one more shot,
I'll give it all I've got.
Let me open my eyes
to a new sunrise I pray.
Give me one more chance,
I'll learn to dance the dance,
I'm satisfied just being alive,
give me one more day........

I pray that no matter what you may be facing today, you will see the good. It is a great privilege that we have to be alive. To go about sharing God's love.

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas heartache

I spoke with a friend yesterday who is facing a Christmas heartache. A member of their family is having trouble and doing some things that they do not agree with. Some have suggested that this person not be allowed to attend Christmas this year.

Dear friends, there is a difference between what we may think or feel, and what we actually do. As followers of Christ, we are called to rise above our feelings and offer grace. It doesn't mean that you have to agree with everything that everyone is doing, but Mercy rejoices over judgment. We can welcome one another and at least be civil.

12Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! James 2:12-13

Do we want to be judged and thrown away for the things that we have done wrong? Is what that person has done really any worse than my sin? In five years will we feel good about excluding them? Is that the message of Christmas that we want to send- "Jesus is born, but you are not welcome because you are misbehaving." I thought the whole point of Christmas was that Jesus was sent to those who were misbehaving.

Mercy is better than judgment. Grace is better than guilt. If we would see the good, we have to offer the same grace to others that we want for ourselves.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bells are ringing

Saturday I rang the bell for the Salvation Army. I was at the grocery door at Walmart in Lees Summit. I kept looking at the ringer at the other door....100 yards away. Sure looks like Bill P. No, wait, that is Bill P and his son Tyler. How exciting. By chance, three ringers from Woods Chapel both ringing on the same day!

One of the things that I love about ringing is that it is a two hour period that it purely selfless. Just giving a bit of time to help the truly needy. Well, wait. I guess its not totally selfless. I get the satisfaction of helping. I get the joy of seeing generosity up close. Its a great feeling.

Now the story gets better. I received this email from Jennifer D:

"Devyn [daughter] and I rang the bell at Hy-Vee on Ward road on Friday morning. It was cold. Devyn only made it for the first 45 minutes, then Dave had to come get her. The donations to my bucket took a huge hit after she left. I guess I'm not as cute as Devyn :) Anyway, I had a great time ringing that bell. The only warm part left in my body was my heart. Many, many gracious people. Some not so much. I was thankful that I had a warm home and a hot cup of cocoa waiting for me. I'm sure this will become a family tradition for us."

Look at their picture. Could you pass by that kettle? I wonder if it would help if I took my 6'2" 180lb son with me? I think from now on I am going to borrow someone else's child to help me ring.

How exciting. Think how much help is being provided to the truly needy by Woods Chapel friends who are ringing the bell.

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

Monday, November 26, 2007

Steal Away

In the quiet hours of the day, steal away to Jesus.

Sleeping is not going so well for me tonight. Not sure why.

There is a song in my head. Not sure how it got there. I go back a long way with this song. My Dad had this song stuck in his head about a year before he died. He felt like God was calling him home. I miss Dad.

I don't think God is calling me home, but I want to share the lyrics with you. Jennifer, tell Kris that this would be a great song for the gospel choir.

Steal Away. Steal Away. Steal Away.
Steal Away to Jesus. Steal Away. Steal Away home.
I haven't got long to stay here.
Steal Away. Steal Away. Steal Away.
Steal Away to Jesus. Steal Away. (steal home)
Steal Away home. I haven't got long to stay here.

My lord, my lord, he calls me. (calls me)
He calls me by the thunder. (thunder)
The trumpet sounds way down in my sanctified soul.
I haven't got long to stay here.

Green trees are bending. (are bending)
Sinners stand a-tembling. (a-trembling)
The trumpet sounds within my soul.
I haven't got long to stay here.

Steal Away. (in the midnight hour)
Steal Away. (when you need some power)
Steal Away.(when you heart is heavy)
Steal Away to Jesus. (steal away to Jesus)
Steal Away. (steal away home)
Steal Away home. (haven't got long)
I haven't got long to stay here.

My Lord , he calls me. (calls me)
I can hear him calling me by the lightning. (lightnin')
The trumpet sounds within my soul.
I haven't got long to stay here. (its gonna be over after while)

Steal away to Jesus. (oh) Steal away. Steal Away Home
Steal Away to Jesus. I haven't got long to stay here.
I haven't got long to stay here. (hallelujah steal away)
I haven't got long to stay here.

Here it is 4am and my soul is thinking about eternity with Jesus. That's cool. I give thanks for the blessing of his presence in this early hour of the day.

I am thankful for you, my friend. Thankful for your love, thankful for your joy. Thankful for your journey. I love you. We're all a part of God's body. May our good Lord bless you richly this day. In fact, as you read these words, open your hearts and receive the blessing of his words of love to you.

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

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thank you

The power of thank you.

Hear it. Feel it. I can sense it in the statement. The power of thank you.

Someone brought me a cup of coffee while I was ringing the bell. Thank you. Someone held the door open for me today. Thank you. Someone made coffee at the coffee bar. Thank you. Someone gave me air to breathe. Thank you. Someone gave me eyes that see, ears that hear, and a reasonably sound mind. Thank you.

Ahh, the power of saying "thank you." Give it a try. Its a holy thing.

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

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Shopping Day 2

Ok, I admit it, I went shopping yesterday morning. It was about 7am and I had two thoughts. 1. Kohls may have some good stuff on sale. My son goes thru clothes. I could pick him up some stuff. 2. My son Scott works at Best Buy and he had to be there at 4am. I want to stop by and see how he is doing.

I watch Johnny Rowlands. Traffic into the mall area is moving. Ok. I am good.

I arrive at the mall and park near Chillis. I walk to Kohls. I look thru mens. No bargains. Lots of 50% off, but that is off of full imaginary retail. Still too expensive. I end up back by kitchen stuff. Must be something going on here. Big crowd............No wait......... This is where the line begins. This is where you stand to begin the long wait to the front. Picture in your brain how long that line is. It would take an hour, maybe two, to get thru it. Silly.

I walked past all of the people in line. Some of them only had one thing. They were going to wait all that time to save $15. Ok. I walked past them all. I snuck in the front and cut the line.

Just kidding.

I headed right out the door. The whole thing just seems silly.

How many shirts do I need? How many pairs of shoes? Well, giving things is a way that we tell people that we love them. Is it? What if we just told them that we loved them? Every day, in one way or another. Wouldn't have to buy the shirt.

On a personal note: Scott I did not know you were a reader. Welcome Brother. Also, I am ringing the bell for the salvation army today from 9-11 at Walmart in Lees Summit. If you want to ring, go to

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

Friday, November 23, 2007

the big shopping day

This is it. The beginning of the shopping season. Time to collect more stuff that we don't need, and give it to other people who usually don't need anything either. We have stopped trading gifts with the cousins because it had just become an exchange of gift cards.

Everything you own, owns a little bit of you. You have to use it, or dust it, or move it or wish you were doing something with it. The simpler life allows you more room to love that which we should be loving.

What would happen if we stopped wanting things?

What if we wanted to walk with God, and that is all that we wanted? I know that humans are human. I know that they get off track sometimes. I do. But what if we purposed in our heart that we would seek the face of God. What if we chose to be less interested in stuff and more interested in loving God and loving our neighbor.

The world would be a better place. I am going to think about that today. Let's talk more about that tomorrow.

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

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Whats it all about? Turkey, dressing, potatoes, green bean casserole with durkee onions on top, green rice, rolls, gravy, more turkey, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, pumpernickel pie, pineapple pie. I ate too much. Football. John Madden. Relatives. Togetherness. Too much togetherness. Hard work. Frustration. Everyone is glad when its over. Gosh I didn't think they would ever leave.

Have our traditions robbed us of the meaning of the holiday. Have we made it so busy and so complicated that we don't have time to give thanks?

Today, lets make a deal, you and me. I will not get frustrated with anyone. I will not let the disruption of my routine frustrate me. I will not let wild kids or tired attitudes turn me into a grouchy boy. How about you? Is it a deal.

Now if we avoid the frustration of a busy holiday, then maybe we can pause to do what the name suggests: give thanks. What are you thankful for? Who are you thankful for? Tell them. Tell them. Deal?

I am thankful for my wife and children. For wonderful friends at church. For so many of you who care about me. For my neighbors. For my sisters. I need to tell them. I am beginning to cry. Gratitude is amazing. Find time today, carve out time to take inventory. What are you thankful for. Tell them.

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Or is it the MU-KU game. Last night I met a friend who wanted to talk about some stuff. He is a KU fan, so I wore my KU windshirt.

Now lets be clear about whether I am a KU fan. I have an MU windshirt too. I have a CMSU sweatshirt. I have hats: Missouri, Michigan, K State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, St. Louis Cardinals, Royals, Cubs, You get me some stuff for your school or team and I will wear it.

What is the point? Life is about more than a sports team. It does not shore up my ego by my team doing well. I am not better or worse if they win or lose.

If I know that I am going to visit you and I have any of your teams stuff, I will wear it. I want you to be happy.

So I wear my KU windshirt to meet my friend who is a KU fan. No surprise, he is wearing his colors- KU.

We were minding our own business, talking about stuff that needed to be discussed. A couple of people that I know [not church friends] started giving me trouble. They were disappointed. Mean and hateful, because I was wearing a KU shirt.

Now I am serious. We are taking this too seriously. So seriously that we are forgetting what is important. Here is my point. If we relax about this, and remember that we are all souls, we have time to be nice. We have space in our brains for good thinking. We can share the joy of life instead of being snippy because someone roots for the wrong school.

This game is an exciting moment. Probably never again will it happen in my lifetime, both KU and MU in the top 5.

But. Yesterday I was at the cemetery. In 100 years, all the players and all of the fans will be buried in places like floral hills. This game will mean nothing then. But how we treat each other every day is where the rubber meets the road in the Christian faith.

Enjoy the game, but hug the folks that root for the other team. They are human beings too. Jesus died for them.

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

There is something

There is something, something for me to do. I heard these wonderful words last night from a friend. A couple of years ago, he began to have a feeling that there was something he was supposed to do. Something for God.

He hasn't found the thing yet. That's not necessarily bad. I was glad to hear him say that it does not bother him. He is still looking, still listening.

What a glorious thought! I have a sense that God is leading me, speaking to me. I am not exactly sure what to do or where to go, but I keep listening. There is something.

God's immediate presence. God's hand at work. Let's rejoice with this brother. Let's pray that God will show him the thing.

Sometimes the thing is big and special. Sometimes the thing is just to be a dispenser of grace. Everyday in everyway, to share God's love. If we don't know what the big thing is, then lets just trust God and enjoy the feeling of His leading. But while we are searching and praying, lets all, everyone of us, deliver the goods. Deliver the grace. Spread the love. Its something that we are supposed to do.

But I don't do it because I am supposed to. I do it because it is good. Good. Big G Good. I am fulfilled when I share God's love. For this we were created.

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

Monday, November 19, 2007

A passage

I was passed by a motorcycle yesterday. Mine. I sold it.

What a melancholy moment. Great memories riding with the church group, camping trip to Arrow Rock, here and there, around I went.

Why sell it? I have owned it for five years. It only has 3500 miles on it. I think I rode it 4 times this season. Kids in college, ya ya ya.

Sometimes in life we have to make "value neutral" decisions. Decisions that don't seem to strike us as particularly right or wrong, good or bad, its just a decision that you need to make. Your decision. Sometimes I find these to be very difficult. Second guessing myself. Didn't ride the bike much, but I am afraid I am going to miss it.

So, melancholy. Its a bittersweet day. Here, there. Even, odd. Up, down.

These are perfect days for me to remember what this is all about. See the good. Its good. Its all good. It will all work out. I choose my outlook, I choose my day. Hey, I think I will think about God, not the motorcycle. There. The day is already better. Good morning, Lord.

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

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Good Morning, Lord

There were five deer on church property this morning when I arrived. :-)

When I was in high school and my faith was just coming to life, I used to be annoyed by the fact that I would realize late in the day that I was just thinking of God for the first time. I decided that I should be aware of Him earlier in the day. So I made a little contest for myself. How long would it take me to say, "Good Morning, Lord." Some days it took til the afternoon. Some days til lunch. But little by little, I began to wake with an awareness of God's presence.

Question. Are we really even awake, if we are not aware of God?

Do you go thru entire days without thinking of him? Or do you fall in bed, exhausted from all the important work of the day, and only then remember to thank him?

What if we learned to begin the day with an acknowledgement of God's presence. What if we practiced saying "hello." Good Morning, Lord.

To begin the day with God is to begin the day with perspective. His love, his grace present with us. Enfolding us. Guiding us.

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

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Decorating for Christmas

Last year, for what ever reason, I did not want to decorate. Too much work, no one helps, no one helps clean up when its done. I don't want to climb the ladders to put the lights on the house. Ya ya ya.

I did it anyway. It turned out ok.

Well, this year is different. I have a child who has been homesick. She is better now, but she was real homesick for months. About a month ago she started asking about when we were decorating for Christmas. "Dad, I want to help decorate. I miss home."

Wow. Home. I forgot what that meant for a moment. Its the place where I belong. Its a place where the kids feel connected. Its a place of safety. Being home for Christmas, decorating for Christmas is something that reminds them of a time when they were young and secure. Christmas hearkens back to a time before when the big scary things of life appeared.

I know that someday they will have their own families. They may not want to come for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They may have inlaws to visit. They may live in Florida. I don't ever want to force them to show up for holidays. Maybe that way, they will want to. [reverse psychology] Maybe some year they will all want to show up with their kids and Cathy and I will tell them, "sorry, but we will be in Hawaii."

Anyway, this year, we are decorating. Tree. Lights. Ornaments. Dodads around the house. Reindeer, mice, moose, mangers. Lights on the house. I even bought a train to go around the tree. We're gonna celebrate. And why not. We should never forget the gifts of home, the gifts of family, the gifts of love.

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

Friday, November 16, 2007

who is on your mind today

The gospel choir is singing Sunday in church. That is reason enough to make sure to be there. The sermon is going to be interesting. Some things that I have been thinking about.....a little different. Either very good or very bad. If its bad, don't tell me, my ego is still fragile.

DJ, Todd. Sometimes I think that God puts people on my mind. I don't know why. But ye are bein prayed for. Maybe God is doing something or getting ready to do something for you, in you. Its all good.

Who is on your mind today? Yourself? Look past self for a moment. See the people that God has given you. Is there someone particularly that comes to mind? Pray for them. See them today. Next time you see them, greet them with love. I believe that the good Lord puts people on our minds for a reason.

I greet this day with joy. I hope that you do as well.

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

Thursday, November 15, 2007

greater love

Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

How many friends do you have that you would lay your life down for? I hope some of you dudes are reading. Here is my partial list. All women are worth laying down your life for. Guys have to earn it.

Guys I talked to yesterday: Greg, Dave, Nate, and DJ in the coffee bar. All good men. Eric, Bill, Ken, Vern, Jim, and Ivan.

Other guys from other days whose lives are worth more than mine: Doug, Bruce, Gary, Clay, Bob, Dan, Lions Den Man, Kyle, Rob, Jim, Aaron, Woody, Jeff, Ray, Otto, Phil, Brent, Matt, Kevin, Tim, Jerry, Kris, Brian, David, Andrew, Aaron, Russ, Jon, Gary, Nate, Mike, Greg, Paul, Weber, Steve, and the list goes on.

Sorry if I forgot you, I will not forget you in the moment of crisis.

Sometimes it is difficult for men to make friends, but when they can, there is a bond that is hard to explain. Friendship is so valuable. I hope that you have people in your life that you love so much.

Proverbs says, "if a man would have friends, he must show himself to be friendly."

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

a college student turns the corner

I received the following from my daughter who has been homesick and depressed for ten solid weeks at college. I guess she has turned a corner. If you have been struggling, maybe this will bless you.

Here is what she wrote:

"this stuff is random but i was reading it and thought i would share it with you, i'm sure its stuff you've heard before but it just means something to me.....

Fear isn’t caused by approaching trials, but by weakness of the mind

Feelings follow actions, so change your actions and see what happens

Overcome the pain

It is an act of faith to accept others rejection rather than to fight to prove them wrong.

Change your way of thinking, and you will change you way of feeling

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you are faced with trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” James 1:2-4

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

You haven't lost anything. God took something from you to prepare you for what he will give you!

“He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary and selected young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord, who expect, look for, and hope in him shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall life their wings and mount up close to God. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint or become tired” Isaiah 41:29-31

“So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only a test of your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6-7

"Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and request to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.” Philippians 4:6-7

“Your weakness becomes my strength because you need me to help you through. Don’t hate your weakness; it’s what gives you access to my strength”

i know that was a lot! just wanted you to know how much i love you! and dont worry no one is taking my joy:)"

Praise God. Dad is a happy camper today. Rejoice with me.

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tell someone

Tell someone that you love them. This is not a boy-girl thing. I am talking about a thing of the soul.

God has given you lots of wonderful people. They are in your life. They are out there, wandering, doing well, floundering. You can help. A good word at the right time is a healing balm.

Take a moment to tell them that you love them. Soul to soul. Hi _____, I sure do love you. I sure do appreciate you. I just wanted you to know.

God is love. If you love them, tell them.

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

Monday, November 12, 2007

Normal Spirituality

Yesterday, after service, someone said to me, "you really spoke from the heart today." Hmm. What do you do with that? Does that mean that the other sermons of late have been shallow and not from the heart. I don't think so. I thought about what they said. I understand what they meant. I settled on this thought.

You really spoke from the heart today. You always speak from the heart. It's just that sometimes the heart is a little more full than at other times. I can live with that.

Isn't that the truth of normal spirituality. There are ups and downs to life, ebbs and flows. A Christian can't expect to be on top of the mountain every day or even every week. Valleys are needed so that the mountains can be enjoyed. Without valleys, we don't even know what mountains are.

I know so many people who have unrealistic expectations placed upon them. Often the expectations are place by or at least reinforced by themselves.

Guess what, you can't be happy every minute of the day. You can't be "on" every minute of the day. You can't always see the good. Real, normal spirituality understands the human frame. We are but dust. We are created to be dependent upon God. Our brokenness just helps to reinforce our need for Him.

If we can't feel on top of the world every day, what we can do is do our very best to do the right things and see the good, especially when we are having a down day. It is real easy to celebrate with someone when you are on the mountain top. It is real easy to preach your guts out when your heart is overflowing. I wonder tho, if God doesn't place more value on the gifts that we give when we are down in the dumps, grinding out a day, pressing ourselves to do what we know is for the best. That seems like real spirituality to me.

So, whether up or down, don't judge yourself by how you feel. You are loved and created in the image of God. Put your best foot forward, do all the good you can, to all the people you can, in all the ways that you can. Feelings are fickle. The work of the soul goes on. Savor life, it is short.

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

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Betty's Tree

Awake thou that sleepest, and the light of Christ shall shine on thee.

This is a real tree. It is in Betty's backyard. Are you awake? Are you alive? Look at this tree. Wow, does it declare the glory of God. The colors of fall call us to praise our Creator.

If you can't see the glory of God in this tree, how will you ever hear it in a sermon? Wake up! See the signs. Pull this picture into your computer and make it your background.

On a side note. Betty, you are the best. I don't get to tell you, but I love you. I admire you. What a blessing it is to have you in my life. Thanks for sharing your tree with us.

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

Saturday, November 10, 2007

ring the bell

It's time to ring the bell. Every year I do this. It is one of my favorite things. In addition to the little bell they give you, I have a small cow bell that gets a little bit of playing time. Walmart on 291 in Lee's Summit, 9am -11am today.

I see people walk by the red kettle. I see lots of people walk by. But I also meet many wonderful generous people. I watch them hand their babies a dollar and teach their babies to be generous.

I get to say, "thank you." I get to bless them. Ringing the bell for the Salvation Army is something that reminds me of the deep needs of humanity. It helps me see the good in so many generous hearts. It allows me to participate in a small way, in making the world a better place.

If you want to ring the bell, go to this web site:

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

Friday, November 9, 2007

your past

Your past. Think for a minute with me of the worst thing you ever did. You got it? If you are like me, you had to sort thru a file entitled "dumb things" in your brain.
You used someone else.
You debased yourself.
You cheated someone.
You cheated on someone.

Do you feel bad. Yes. Yes. Yes. Are you haunted by bad memories of what you did? Yes. Yes. Yes. Where is this going? I thought this blog was supposed to help me see the good.

ok, just hang on.

What if. What if that particular behavior, bad as it was, was the best that you could do at the time. What if, what if that choice represented the development of your soul at the time. What if, given another chance, even though you know everything that you know now, given the same circumstances as years ago, wouldn't you make the same bad choices?

Your soul, your brain, did what it knew to do at the time. You did not have the tools in your tool box to do any better.

Jesus said, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." Well, they did know what they were doing. They were nailing a man to the cross. What they did not understand was the meaning of their choices. Their souls did not understand that they were killing the savior.

Maybe when you were misbehaving, Jesus would have said the same thing. "Father forgiven them, they don't know what they are doing." Ok, you knew what you were doing, but you didn't understand the ramification of your choices. You didn't really see the results of your behavior.

I don't want to minimalize our sins, but if we were doing all that we knew to do at the time, why should we be haunted by the choices later. Lets stop living in yesterday. This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us focus on the now. Father forgive them. Forgive them all.

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

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Orion the hunter

I was 14. My friend invited me to join the astronomy club. Every week we went to a man's house to learn about the universe. The man, whose name escapes me, spent a couple of hours with us every week. I learned alot about the stars which I have forgotten, but I did keep a sense of awe pertaining to the night sky.

For some reason, the story of Orion the hunter has stuck in my head, and his image I will remember til the day I die. Orion is a winter constellation. He rises in the east and falls in the west. He is visible November thru April. He is visible now. Come over sometime and I will introduce you to him.

He is my friend. Every year since the days of the astronomy club, Orion has greeted the turn of the season. Year in, year out, he is always there.

I see him, and I think about the millions of ancients who gazed upon him in their lifetime. I imagine myself flying thru the stars. Someday I am going to do that. I think about the God who hung the stars. The God who owns the cattle on 1,000 hills. I stand in awe of him.

The heavens declare the glory of God. I am listening. I ask this God my questions. Sometimes he answers. Always, he comforts me. And the beat goes on. Year after year, he is there, he is constant. The God who put Orion into the sky. He always shows up. You can depend on him. Put your trust in him. He is faithful. Come over sometime and I will introduce you to him.

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


What if. What if the hand of God swept down on our church. We didn't make it happen and we don't control it. But what if.

What if people didn't just feel God's presence inside the sanctuary, but what if. What if they were driving by on 291 and they were suddenly gripped by the Holy Spirit.

What if right now, for reasons that you can't control, God speaks to you. He tells you that He loves you. He hugs you. You feel His love. You begin to weep.

In a real revival, you don't need a sign outside announcing it. In a real revival people forget their differences. God takes over.

What if today is a turning point for you. What if today is a turning point for our church. What if people who have had doubts are inexplicably filled with faith. What if those who were filled with insecurity are suddenly filled with holy confidence.

What if. What if.

Come Lord Jesus. Touch each person who reads this today.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, may He just take over. Grip you. Embrace you so that you have no choice but to see the good.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

a song in the night

This is exciting. I woke up with a song on my heart, in my brain. How do they get there. Its like your soul is singing while you sleep. I don't deserve to wake up to this. Maybe I am experiencing a visitation. of those periods of life where God seems close. Immediate. You don't know how or why, you don't make it happen, but He just draws near. It sure beats the dry valleys.

Oh yes, back to the song. One of our praise bands used to do it.

He is exalted The King is exalted on high, I will praise Him. He is exalted forever exalted and I will praise His name. He is the Lord forever His truth shall reign, heaven and earth rejoice in His holy name. He is exalted the King is exalted on high.

I wish you a song in the day today, and tonight, a song in the night.

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

Monday, November 5, 2007

Gospel choir ladies

Ladies of the gospel choir..... I was surprised to hear that so many of you read this blog. You all made me feel really good. You asked for some names of Fernando Ortega songs. Here are some of my favorite of his albums. I have listed the title of the album first, then the names of the songs on the album. I put an asterisk * by my favorites.

this bright hour 1997
1. Angel Fire*
2. Children Of The Living God
3. Anita's Heart
4. Don't Let Me Come Home A Stranger
5. How Firm A Foundation
6. Jehova, Senor De Los Cielos
7. I Will Sing Of My Redeemer*
8. I Will Praise Him, Still*
9. All Creatures Of Our God And King*
10. Grace's Waltz
11. If You Were Mine**
12. Hear Me Calling, Great Redeemer
13. I Will Wait For My Change
14. O Thou, In Whose Presence**

Breaking of the dawn 1998
1. Creation Song (Glory To The Lamb)*
2. Lord Of Eternity*
3. Sweet Grace
4. Don't Take Me Far From Home
5. Be Thou My Vision*
6. When All Thy Mercies*
7. Margee Ann
8. Road Song
9. The Breaking Of The Dawn*
10. If I Flee On Morning Wings*
11. Jesus, King Of Angels*

home 2000
1. This Good Day*
2. Old Girl
3. Lonely Road
4. On The Line
5. Pass Me Not**
6. No One Else
7. Virginia Rose
8. Prayer For Home**
9. Beyond The Sky*
10. Winter Song
11. Give Me Jesus*

Storm 2002
1. Traveler
2. Come Ye Sinners, Poor And Needy*
3. Light Of Heaven*
4. Storm
5. Cristina's Dream
6. Our Great God*
7. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent**
8. This Time Next Year**
9. A Place On The Earth
10. City Of Sorrows*
11. Sing To Jesus*
12. Jesus Paid It All**

Hymns of worship 2003
1. Pass Me Not*
2. Creation Song (Glory To The Lamb)*
3. Children Of The Living God*
4. Be Thou My Vision*
5. I Will Praise Him, Still*
6. All Creatures Of Our God And King*
7. Jesus, King Of Angels*
8. I Will Sing Of My Redeemer
9. How Firm A Foundation
10. When All Thy Mercies
11. Give Me Jesus*

The shadow of your wings 2006
1. Grace and Peace*
2. All Flesh is Like the Grass*
3. Let The Words of My Mouth
4. Open My Lips
5. Come, Let Us Worship
6. All Creatures of Our God and King
7. Great is Thy Faithfulness
8. Oh God, You Are My God
9. I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say
10. There Is Power in The Blood
11. Sing to Jesus*
12. Crown Him with Many Crowns
13. Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us

I am sure that these albums are available at any Christian bookstore. I purchased many of them thru an online music club. They also appear to be available on the web:

Here is his web site:

Although I have no guarantees that you will like his music, it has been a huge blessing to me. My wife even likes it.

You were all great at the Terry Tekyl event. Thanks for singing. Bless you all.

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

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Today is the first of four sermons on thanksgiving. I think I could talk for 52 Sundays about thanksgiving. If you are a Christian, you have plenty to be thankful for. Take a moment just now and count your blessings. Really, stop and take the time, try to think of at least eight things that you are thankful for. Don't close this blog until you do.


Did you count them?
Being grateful should be one of the core values of every Christian. To ponder on things to be thankful for will change our outlook on life.

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

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Good things

Good things that I am going to do today. If the Lord allows me to live the entire day.

1. go to the workday and help plant trees at church. I love trees.

2. meet a 10 year old boy and his father. The boy raised $75 for missions and wants to present it to the pastor for a particular mission project. It is great to see how parents are teaching their children about the joy of missions.

3. perform a wedding.

4. attend a funeral.

5. go to the Hillcrest ministries dinner.

6. finish the sermon

Big day. lots of good stuff. Exciting stuff. We should never take life for granted. Every day is a gift from God. We get so busy we forget him. Our life is not our own, it is a gift from him.

13Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. James 4:13-17

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

Friday, November 2, 2007


Today I awake with joy.

It's not always like that. Sometimes there are worries, sometimes there are problems. Sometimes for no apparent reason, I am stressed. On days like that, I need a preacher to remind me to see the good.

But not today. I love days like today. Today, everything that I have learned has come to bear on my brain. I am at peace. I have joy. I have a few problems too, but that just makes it all the better. Peace and joy in the midst of problems. Cool. Good.

When I can, when we are able to see the joy and find the peace, it is good. It is pure. It is like we are existing in the state for which we are created. On days that I struggle, I am gripped by my troubles and by efforts to release myself from them. But on days like today we can be consumed with God's love and be determined to extend his grace to others.

If you woke up with worry, I wish you the ability to grip the trouble and manage it. To see the good thru the pain. If you woke up with joy, then celebrate. And may all of us have more days filled with love, filled with good, filled with peace and filled with joy.

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

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Westboro Baptist Church

These folks give the Christian faith a bad name. They are the ones that protest at the funerals of service men and hold up signs that say terrible things. "God is your enemy." "God hates fag lovers."

Well yesterday they were successfully sued for 11 million dollars. Maybe the good conscience of the community is finally finding a way to silence their hatred.

Life is too short to hate. There is nothing Christian about hating someone. The fact that we need to hate someone says a lot about the brokenness inside of us. Hatred is our heart saying, "how can you hurt me this bad, how can you do this to me. I am wounded. You are a jerk. I hate you." Did you hear all of the "me" in that?

I don't mean to make light of the pain that may be in your heart, but I do believe that when we begin to become whole, resentment and hatred begins to dry up. Love and understanding begin to come into the places once occupied by hate. That is a good thing. Its one of the byproducts of having the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts.

Replacing hatred with love begins when we choose to see the good. "you mean person who hurt me, I choose to see you as God sees you. I choose to understand that you are a broken carcass of a person. I begin to pray that God will bless you."

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


When I was a kid, Halloween was cool. Next to Christmas, it was the best day of the year. I looked forward to it with great excitement. Back then, your parents didn't have to follow you around to make sure you were safe. As soon as they would let you out of the house, you bolted. Pillow case in hand, I hit every house in a four block radius.

I was pretty much a hobo every year. When I was in seventh grade I was a mummy and won "best costume" at a party.

Mom would always wait up to make sure we got home safe. Mrs. Davis, my next door neighbor, was never home on Halloween, so she would put out 30 snickers bars on a tv tray on her front porch. No one ever took more than one. It was a different time.

In the morning, Dad would pick through my stuff and take the hershey bars.

Some Christians are all against Halloween. The devil's day, and such as that. Well, when I was a kid, it was great. One of my best memories. I don't think it hurt me at all.

Tonight, don't pretend that you are not home. Get some candy. Turn on the porch light. You will make a lot of little kids happy.

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

blog on vacation

Comment on yesterday's blog:
Why do you do the blog if you are on vacation, and then talk about busyness?

Hmmm. Busted. Maybe.

Here is a better question. Why do I go to the office for an hour and take phone calls from members when I am on vacation?

Poor guy, its a hard life. Lets all get out our little violins for Jeffy. What should I do tell the good folks that "I am on vaca, call me next week?"

The world of being a pastor is just the world that it is. It is different than anything that I know of, and it comes with its own set of joys and concerns.

Let me just talk about that for a moment. What are the hardest things about being a pastor?
-not feeling worthy
-working hard to do your best and having people complain
-everyone wants a piece of you, and now.
-asking people to be committed in ways that are difficult, ways that they resist.
-saying things that are unpopular
-having no place to hide
-having people love the church for years and then they just quit
-knowing that the work will never be "done"
-the effects of this life on your children
-its hard to go out of town for the weekend

You might say, "well if it is so hard, why don't you just quit?"

Well, it is hard sometimes, but I am not unhappy. I did not choose this profession, I am called to it. Hardly any of you know this, but I did quit once, many years ago. I was a young man and the pressure of it all just ate my lunch. But, I missed begin a pastor. Like Jeremiah said, "God's words were like fire in my bones."

That would be an interesting topic for this blog. How did I get called into the ministry? I can't tell you in person, but maybe I could tell you in the blog. Let me think about that.

Anyway, all things considered, life is good, love is true, pain heals, and I am going to paint the house today. Call me if you want to. I love you and I will gladly answer the phone.

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

Monday, October 29, 2007

Daylight Savings Time

DST goes into effect this Saturday night/Sunday morning at 2am.

In the 1800's railroad schedules forced the adoption of "standard time." Trains had to run on a uniform schedule. Before then, every locale operated on local time. Sundials and the like.

During WW1, nations began to adopt daylight savings time to save energy.

For more information on this random topic:

So, I am on vacation this week. I haven't put my watch on yet. What if no one put their watches on this week? What if the time in Kansas City was not the same as the local Lee's Summit time? Would life slow down? Would our schedule relax a bit? It seems to me that it would be impossible to do all of the things that we are currently doing. We would ring the bells at church to let people know that it was time for worship.

I have come to believe that busy-ness is the enemy of the soul.

Yes, busyness is a word.

How busy are you? Are you so busy that you are not enjoying life? Are you so busy that you are exhausted? Asleep to the goodness and the grace of life? Slow down. Just do less. Your kids don't have to be on every sports team. You don't have to attend every party. Listen to your soul. Slow down.

Jesus said, come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Mt 11:28

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