Saturday, June 30, 2007

Time to pull weeds

We have had a lot of rain lately. The ground is soft and the dirt is mud. Anytime these conditions present themselves, I pull weeds. Weeds are pesky little dudes that just keep showing up. I don't know where they come from, because no one plants them, but if you don't keep them pulled they will take over your garden and flower beds.

In our flower beds we have nutsedge, thistles, water grass, little thorny guys, and several other nameless varieties.

The interesting thing about really wet ground is this: it really doesn't matter what kind of weed it is, if the ground is wet enough, the weeds pull right out. What takes hours and days of work with kitchen knives and weed poppers when the ground is dry, can be handled very quickly with wet soil. Weeds that break off and leave roots in dry ground, come out quick and clean when the ground is muddy. Yesterday, I pulled out some dandelions and got the entire tap root. Ha!

So lets talk for a minute about the weeds in our lives. You know what yours are and I know what mine are. Wait a minute, that really isn't true. I know people who have no idea of their faults or sins. That is sad. Can't be honest with themselves. That topic is for another day.

Here is my point. If the ground is our heart and the weeds are our faults and sins, the water is the Holy Spirit. When the sun and wind bake and dry out our hearts, it is difficult for us to face or remove our faults. But when we are listening, praying, and just paying attention to God, our hearts are pliable and we are able to let go of things that we used to hold tightly.

When we get tired of feeling dry on the inside we can call out to the Lord and find his love. We can become good fertile soil. The weeds come out more easily and a good crop can be planted.

I can hear the rain on the windows today. If the Holy Spirit is raining in your heart, it is a good day to let the Master pull your weeds.

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

Friday, June 29, 2007


Yahoo! I am getting old. On Wednesday I had a rash of floaters in my right eye. It seemed like there were four or five little cabbages floating around in there. When the floating cabbages were joined by strange lights on the perimeter of my eye, I decided to take action.

I saw my favorite eye doctor yesterday, no, I saw every one's favorite eye doctor yesterday. She told me I have a PVD [posterior vitreous detachment] in my right eye.

To read more on PVD:

Those of you who are over 65 may want to know about PVD. I guess I am catching all of the eye stuff early. Cataracts and now PVD.

So, you know, before the doctor tells you what it is, you imagine the worse. Retinal detachment, blindness, cancer. I imagine what it would be like to only be able to see thru one eye. I decide that that would be better than seeing thru no eyes. I wonder if it really came to loss of vision how gracious I would really be.

You know, that is an interesting question. We think that we would be gracious in hardship, but when it actually arrives, how well do we perform? I have come to believe that even though we may perform a bit less effectively than we thought, the fact that we are thinking about how to face hardship will significantly raise our ability to bear up under the stresses.

Thinking, praying people still hurt, but they tend to manage their fears and pain better than those who allow circumstances to overwhelm them. The practice of considering your response to pain will actually help you manage yourself when the critical moment comes.

Anyway, back to PVD. A lining has released from my eye. I will have floaters and lights for weeks or months. They will subside. The floaters actually gravitate to the bottom of your eye and just lay there.

So, I am fine. I am not losing my sight. At least not today. I am thankful for that. And while we are on the concept of being thankful, I am thankful for a ton of things. Do you want me to start a list? Why don't you start yours and we can compare sometime.

It is a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good. If you are a Christian, everyday is thanksgiving.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thou Shall not Kill

I believe it is one of the top ten. The wrester who took the life of his wife and son and left a bible by their bodies should have read the bible. Thou shall not kill.

I have to tell you I am sick of it. Every morning its on the news. Someone shot and killed at 39th and Indiana. A convenience store clerk killed for $200. A pregnant woman about to give birth. An 18 year old high school graduate.

Now what is the deal with these murder suicides? I am outraged! How can a man kill his family! Aaarruughhh!!!!

If you ever have the slightest thought of doing something like this, get help.

You didn't hear about this in the 50's. People worked for a living and expected to work hard. They didn't expect the world to entertain them or bow to their desires. The prosperity in American life in the last 50 years have given too many people the "easy life." Society is full of people who expect everything. They want to win the lottery. They want their wife to make them happy. They want everything to go their way, and when it doesn't, they go postal.

I am on a rant. Life isn't about being happy or getting what you want. It is not about whether things go my way today or not. We are not little princes and princesses waiting for our court to take care of our problems.

If you are alive, you are going to have problems.

Life is still good.

It means nothing to praise God when skies are blue and the grass is green. Meaning is found when you can look up into a cloudy sky and still focus on the blue. Joy comes when we remember that the sun is still there, even when we cant see it.

There is no reason to be vindictive or hateful. Some of life is not going to go your way. Get used to it. Get over it. Its not about me.

There is so much good. Don't waste today by focusing on the bad. Stop. Find a bench. sit down. Look around. See the good. Get outside yourself and see and enjoy the wonder that God has placed into his world and into his people.

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hold to God's unchanging hand

I sang gospel again last night!!!

"Hold to God's unchanging hand.................Hoooolld to God's un-chang-ing hand........ Build your hopes on things e-terrrr-nal. Hold to God's unchanging hand."

This music is touching my soul. Practice is getting ready to start last night and Kris is telling a story. I am thinking, "come on Kris, stop talking, let's sing!" We finally start singing and the music is touching me. I am sitting on the back row. We are singing, "hold to God's unchanging hand." I start to cry. The rhythm of the music force feeds the words into your soul. I am hoping that no one sees me. I am on the verge of a full out Holy Ghost blubber.

Gentlemen. I need some help. Some of you who are thirsting for something mid week, this is good stuff. I know some of you can sing. Phil you will have the mojo for this. Come and stand with me and lets sing. Andrew, Paul, Chris and others........this has been really good for me. Come out and give it a try. I promise not to make fun of you if you cry.

Ladies, of course, you are welcome too. Tuesday, 7pm.

Build your hope on things eternal. Hold to God's unchanging hand.

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

On Welcoming Complaints

It is not easy to be good at welcoming complaints. Most of us hate to have our shortcomings highlighted. If we choose to become defensive in the face of a complaint, then we are making things worse and the situation only escalates.

Recently I had someone stop by to register a small complaint. They were very nervous about doing so, I guess they were afraid that I would not receive them well. [I hope I don't have that kind of a reputation].

Anyway, I listened politely and filled in some of the "rest of the story" for them, and then they were ok.

Sometimes when people complain, they don't see the big picture. Sometimes they are right on the mark and you are busted.

As a young man, I used to get defensive when someone would come in to complain about something. Being defensive never makes anything any better.

Somewhere along the line, I learned something about such confrontations. When someone comes to complain to me, I welcome them, sit them down, and listen. Then I ask the question, "how can you help me to become a better pastor."

It is amazing what happens when you receive someone warmly when they are upset. Your welcome puts them at ease. Your listening gains their trust. Your openness to their correction usually totally befuddles them. People are just not used to being received warmly when they are upset.

So, give this a try. The next time your spouse or one of your kids, or a coworker or whoever has you in their sights, relax. Don't be defensive. Welcome them in to sit down. Listen to them. Ask them how you can do a better job. Even if you are not wrong in the situation, it is a great way to win a friend.

When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Prov 16:7

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

Monday, June 25, 2007

On returning home from a mission

It is a pretty typical thing. Guy goes on a mission trip, sees the needs of the world, and is filled with compassion. He even feels badly that he comes home to a nice house, has plenty of food [too much], clean water to drink, can afford to go out to eat, etc.

He wonders what he can do to help change the world. Then in a week or two, the cares of life and family and the busy hubbub drag his brain back into his daily grind. He forgets about every thing that he saw on the mission trip. He is back to his old self.

Is there someway that you can think of to break this cycle? How can we be more compassionate on a regular basis? I don't think that Mother Teresa forgot about the poor. I don't have to either.

One of these times I am going to come back from a missions trip and be changed forever, not just for a few weeks. Maybe this is the time. We will see.

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

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Someone out there needs to hear this today.

A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
Prov. 19:11

If you will not forgive the one who hurt you, you are only hurting yourself. As long as you hold onto the resentment, the ones who hurt you will continue to own a piece of you. Give it up. Let the bitterness go and let God's love come into the vacancy and fill your heart.

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

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The new [half] foyer

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is really exciting!! After months of waiting and watching, our new foyer space is coming on line.

Tomorrow, you will be able to walk from the old foyer, down a temporary hallway into half of the new foyer. You will be able to visit the new missions hall to sign up for projects. You can check out the new tile in the coffee bar area. You can peer out the big windows into the beautiful celebration garden. The stained glass picture of Jesus is awesome.

This is still a diamond in the rough, but you can begin to get the picture, and it is really exciting!

I hope to see you in the house of the Lord tomorrow.

Its a beautiful day in Gods world, be sure to see the good.

Uptown Station, New Orleans, Day 4

Uptown Station, New Orleans, Day 4

Another day like the rest. Awake at 6am. Off to the job at 8am. Hanging sheetrock. Lots of it. Quit at noon to clean up and get ready to go back to KC.

The homeowner is really sad to see us leaving. Our crew worked hard and made lots of progress in her home. Hugs, smiles, and well wishes and we are on our way.

Now I sit in the New Orleans airport, waiting to fly home. My hands are sore and swollen. I am thinking.

To experience a new setting for a few days always helps me to think. To see the world of another person will also make you think. Friends, we have a very comfortable life. Compared to the people here who are trying to get back on their feet, my life is a breeze.

What right do I have to live such a life? Shouldn’t every one who has comfortable surroundings do everything that they can to help those who are less fortunate?

It has been a good trip. Your friends from WCC are awesome.

I am very happy that Tom and Jodi Goddard are enjoying their 30 day stay in New Orleans. Every day they get dressed and go to the Uptown Station to work with volunteer teams. Every day they clip on their name tags. The same ones that you all wear on Sunday mornings.

Tom Goddard
Woods Chapel Church

Jodi Goddard
Woods Chapel Church

I am glad to be on the way home and I am looking forward to being in church with you all on Sunday.

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

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Uptown Station, New Orleans, Day 3

Another early day. I woke up at 5am. We left for the job site at 7am. We worked like dogs hanging sheetrock all day long.

The homeowner made us a very nice lunch which was a real New Orleans feast: Jambalaya, rice and beans, crawdads and a shrimp poorboy.

We knocked off at 43o. We got a lot of work done on her house. She was very happy.

It is a blessing to do for others what they cannot do for themselves.

Spaghetti for dinner and then we had worship.

I am not going to say a lot about the worship tonight, but it was one of the most moving moments that I have experienced in a long time. I will talk about it on Sunday.

I am blessed. I am blessed.! My heart is full. I love each and every one of you.

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Uptown Station, New Orleans, Day 2

I guess I slept pretty well considering there were 20 other guys in the room. I didn't notice any snoring. That probably means that I was snoring so loudly that I kept the rest of them up.

I woke several times during the night and finally rolled out for good at 530am. I read a bit and talked to folks and got my tools ready to go to work.

Bob Jeppson fixed everyone a nice breakfast of biscuits and gravy and eggs and waffles. Rachel Hailey gave the devotional. It was about how easy it is to forget about needy people when you go back home to your cushy life. She encouraged us to remember the needy, and to learn to live lives that demonstrated that we were stewards of God's blessings, not owners.

We got out to the job sit about 8am. Our team of 22 was split into three groups. I was assigned to a group that was hanging and finishing sheetrock at Miss Judy's house. Miss Judy has been out of her house for 2 years and it is just now starting to look like a house again.

I taped and mudded all day. Well, we quit at 130 to see some sights.

Others at Miss Judy's house today were Mike and Sherri Odell, Bob Burns Janice Torbert, Stephanie Williams, Jerry Meisenheimer and Chris Nance, Jr.

Miss Judy is so very excited to see her home coming back together. She came in and talked to me and cried. I cried too. It was such a blessing to help her.

At 130 we ate lunch and went back to the uptown station to take showers. I was pooped out.

After we cleaned up, we split up into different cars and saw some sights. The group I was with saw the lower ninth ward and the garden district. We met up at Jackson Square at 430. There were some street vendors there and I bought my sweet wife a present.

At 6pm we met for a nice dinner at Conni Thomas' apartment clubhouse. You may remember that Conni and her son Christopher, and Marva Mitchell visited our church in February and talked to the folks about what was happening in New Orleans.

We had a nice visit with Conni and one of the other ministers from the area. All of our team was very interested in the stories that they told about recovery efforts.

After dinner, we are back at the uptown station, it is 845 and I am pooped out. We are supposed to go into work early tomorrow.....7am start.

I saw and got to visit with Tom and Jodi Goddard who are down here with the WCC Matthew 28 project for 30 days. They are really excited about what they are doing down here and have some great stories to tell. I know that these 30 days have been a very special experience for them.

Tom said to me tonight, "it's just hard to believe that in one day you could lose your home, your car, your neighborhood, your church, your school and your job."

We have no idea.

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Uptown Station, New Orleans, Day 1

7pm Tuesday, June 19th.

Arrived at the N.O. airport at 3:30pm Chris Nance picked me up. We travelled about 30 minutes to one of the homes where members of our teams were finishing up work for the day.

Henry is putting up a banister rail. Bob is painting. The homeowner has a business in his front room making women's hats. His home was damaged by the winds of the hurricane, but had no standing water. He has been waiting 2 years for help to make repairs.

We left there about 430 and went to the Uptown station 2320 Simon Bolivar Blvd, where we are staying. Our team is there of 25, and there are 16 people here from Buechel UMC in Louisville, Ky. A member of the Buechel team made dinner. it was great. Mexican food, salad and desert.

After dinner, a group picture, board games and a short tour of the french quarter.

Tomorrow I think I am assigned to a crew that is taping and mudding sheetrock.

Good night.

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

Gate 72

Gate 72 seats about 200 people. There are only 20 here. I finally have figured out why. The plane that is flying me to New Orleans just pulled in. It has a capacity of 20 people.

This is one of the smallest planes that I have ever been on. The airplane's tires look like wheels from my little red wagon when I was growing up. This plane looks like the kind that I used to pick up and throw and it would glide across the yard. If there is no pilot, I may have to fly it myself. No problem.

I have to tell you, I made a really big mistake this morning. All of the other people flying in for the mission trip took a 1:30 flight. That is what I thought mine was. When I was finishing packing this morning I looked at the itinerary and realized that I had scheduled myself for the 9am flight. It was about 8:15 when I noticed this. There is no way that I can make it on time. I have missed my flight.

I called Express Jet airlines. The person on the other end was very nice and told me that there was going to be a $50 change fee and possibly an upgrade fee of $180. Man, did I feel stu_ _ _. I hate making mistakes, especially expensive ones. I decided to make the best of it. I went into the office and went to work. I caught up on all of my emails that had backlogged since the office move. At 1030, I left for the airport.

The desk clerks and supervisor at Express Jet were very nice. They only charged me the $50 change fee. That is better than a $230 fee!!

And so I am finally here, at rest, in gate 72. I wish that I had not gotten so upset with myself this morning, but that was a dumb mistake. I just had the times wrong and missed my flight. Ridiculous.!

Over the next few days I will have no responsibilities other than to work to rebuild a poor person's home, write a sermon, and relate to those on our missions team. I will have more time and more brain time to pray for you. So, you are in my prayers these next few days.

taking off from KCI in one hour.

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

The Annual Golf Tournament

18 holes a year. That is all that I am allowed to play. Someday, I am going to organize a tournament around a game that I am good at, but no one else is. [something besides ping pong.]

I hit the ball badly, worse than normal. Our cart was a dog. It rained.

Ok, now lets get off of me and think about the big picture. [this is the challenge of life isn't it? To stop thinking about everything as it relates to me and see the big picture?]

Tom hit some monster drives. When our team was up against the wall, Steve stepped up and hit the ball well under pressure. Rob was Rob. I made a put once. I think they used one of my drives. The others we could not find. I played with 7 great guys. Phil is a very funny boy. I love Todd. Tim and Peter will be recruited to play on real teams next year.

Lots of people came out to play. The tournament was totally full. Everyone had a great time. Many individuals and businesses made nice donations to help make the day a great success. Lots of money was raised. Families will be helped with the adoption process, more people will be able to attend mission trips. Its all good. Very good.

The camaraderie in the club house and on the course was a real blessing. The joy of friendship is a wonderful thing. To see all of these great people and know that in one way or another, they are connected to WCC. Wonderful.

I am tired today, but I will sleep on the plane.

Next post is from New Orleans.

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

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Coming up this week

Father's day is almost over. I am sitting here at 1030 eating cake and drinking a coke.

Since this is a bit of a different week coming up, I wanted you to know what I was doing just in case I have trouble posting to the blog.

Tomorrow, Monday, I am playing in the church golf tournament. I shouldn't say that I am playing, because I really don't play golf. I will be hacking. It is my one time of the year to play golf. It should be fun. A great day with lots of great folks from church.

Tuesday I am flying to New Orleans to join our missions team there. I hope to make daily posts from there, but I am unsure about internet connections there.

Friday I am flying home. The plane gets in at 615. I have a wedding rehearsal at 730.

Saturday I am back to the regular schedule and I will be in the pulpit on Sunday for part 3 of the sermon series "God is."

It has been a great father's day and a great day to be alive in God's world.
His Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God!!!!!!!!!!!

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

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Thoughts on my father

Dad was born in 1927. He grew up in the middle of the depression. His parents were poor, tho sadly his mother was very wealthy growing up. They lost their money and my grandmother was never a very happy person. Too bad.

Dad's parents did not go to college. His mom stayed at home and his dad was a contractor and worked at the local lumber yard. As soon as he was old enough, they put dad to work. Back then, if you didn't know how to work, you were in for a hard life. That is still true today, tho a lot of people don't seem to get it.

When Pearl Harbor was bombed, Dad tried to enlist. They told him to come back when he was old enough. He served in the Navy towards the end of the war, processing sailors who were coming back from overseas duty. Later he was transferred to Washington DC where he worked in a military photo lab. He processed the first pictures of the atomic bomb.

After Dad was discharged, he attended KU and Drury on the GI bill. He likes to tell the story of drinking his first beer at Romanelli's in Waldo.

At Drury, Dad studied engineering and my Mom. She was the Sig Ep sweetheart one year, and was quite a catch, Dad would say. After Dad graduated, Mom left school and they got married. They moved to KC where Dad held a number of jobs. It was hard for him to keep a job for very long because he was drinking so much.

With two kids in tow, they moved to Midland Michigan where Dad worked at Dow chemical company. By the time we left Michigan their final child, my little sister was born. My first memories of life are in Midland Michigan.

I guess it was bad in Midland, Mom used to tell about how his boss would call and ask where he was at. Mom thought he had gone to work. When ever this phone call came in, she always found him drunk in the local park. Finally, Mom sat Dad down and told him that is he didn't stop drinking that she was going to divorce him.

Mom drank. In fact Mom made her own beer and wine her whole life. But Dad just couldn't do it without losing control. For most of the next 35 years Dad stayed sober thru AA.

Dad stayed to himself. He worked 60+ hours every week. He never came to any of my baseball games and really was not involved with any of us kids until we had grown up.

He sent us all to college, and later in life was good to sit and visit with. He stood by Mom and took care of her when she came down with cancer and died in 1995.

Dad loved Cathy. That meant a lot to me.

Its odd, but my best years with Dad were after Mom passed. We had lunch pretty regularly and he finally started coming out of his shell. I still remember the Easter Sunday afternoon in 1996, after being in church with us that morning, he called me over and said, "Son I am proud of you and I love you."

Dad died suddenly in 2002. He had a heart attack in the parking lot of Romanelli's in Waldo.

I miss my dad. For all of his faults, he taught me a lot of good things. He taught me how to work. He taught me how to treat people with respect. He taught me the skills of a carpenter and a plumber. He was a Christian man.

When I was in my 20's I blamed my problems on him. Maybe all 20 year olds do.

I am way past that now. I am so thankful for a man who went to church with us every time that he could. I am thankful for a man who loved me and was finally able to say it. I take this moment to honor my father, Paul Parmalee Brinkman, Jr.

Thank you, Dad. I love you too and I am proud of you.

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

Friday, June 15, 2007

Moving day

Yesterday was moving day for the church office. I am sore. Really sore.

Other than that, it was great. Tons of people helped and we got a bunch done. The ladies at the office worked like dogs. No men could have outworked them. They moved boxes, tables and desks. They were awesome. The volunteers were great too. Altogether, we moved my office out, Gina's office out, Julie's office and the front office from the mail level. Two offices from upstairs were also moved, making room for classrooms there. One of the class rooms upstairs was set up as a "cushy" room. Pretty cool.

Bulletin boards were removed and rehung. Some studly guys moved the pastors sink and toilet. Two teenage boys worked their tails off! Their parents were proud of them. Someone brought donuts for breakfast and someone else brought chicken dinner! It was a really big job, but it went very well. There is still a lot of stuff to put away, boxes to open and stuff like that.

Now there is the matter of the pastors new office. The old office was big. Too big. Wrong message to give. So this office is 5 ft narrower. A more toned down message about the person who occupies the office. Then yesterday, the new cabinets arrived. Wow. Woah. Son. Look at those. A nice member donated the cabinets. They are beautiful. Awesome. The pastor is going to have to straighten up. Start wearing a tie every day. They are going to have to put a sign on the door that says, "call him sir."

I invite all of you to come by and take a tour when you get a chance. As always, you will be very proud of your church family. Thank you again to everyone who helped out in every way.

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

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Steve and Jennifer B are moving

I remember when you came out for Disciple bible study. We met in the unfinished youth room. 1999? I remember you having children. I remember when you very nervously asked if your father could baptize the girls.

I remember you coming on staff. You were the first choice, far and away, of those involved in the decision.

I remember when you came out to play softball. I remember talking with you about life and ministry. I remember when you prayed in church for the first time. Camino. Friendship. We have laughed together and we have cried together. Now you are moving.

Ouch. Really, really big ouch!

Why God, why?

Oh, yes I know that this is an opportunity that they cannot pass up. I know that nothing is for sure in life. I understand that things change.

These two people have become such dear friends to me. Golf tournament partner, softball player, Steve you are a man who has sought a better life thru Jesus Christ. We are brothers forever. I am happy for you, but sad for me. I love you so much.

Jennifer. Where do I begin. What can I say? You have understood the church and me, as few people ever do. You have given so much time to the ministry and so much leadership to the staff. You are the calibre of person rarely found. When I was out of town you have become my regular replacement behind the sacred desk.

Our souls have been knit together. I am heart sick.
[Isn't it ridiculous that someone has a life changing move, a great opportunity for them, and all I can think about is myself.] [human nature...... I am not yet free from it.]

Well, I will say goodbye, but not for long. You will be back. In a few years, you will move back to town. When you do, please look for a house in my neighborhood. There is one for sale two doors down from us right now. When you come back, don't try a lot of churches. There are two seats at WCC that no one will sit in while you are gone. There will be a small hollow place in every song, every prayer and every greeting time until you return.

I am going to miss you so much. I already do.

It doesn't feel like a beautiful day in Gods world. At least not here. But for some church, some neighborhood in Indianapolis, it is a very beautiful day in God's world. They just won the lottery.

I am going to miss you, but you do not go alone. A big piece of our heart goes with you. Go with His grace. Go in peace. It is always a beautiful day. Be sure to keep seeing the good.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I sang gospel!!

I sang gospel!! For 15 minutes last night, I was Al Green, I was Stevie Wonder, I was Aretha Franklin.

This summer, the church is bringing in a young man who leads gospel choirs to teach us this genre of music. Last night was our first practice. It was a blast! It totally rocked! Unbelievable!

I arrived late and had to leave early, but the 15 minutes that I was there were electric. I loved the collection of people who attended last night. J from the 8:00 service who is really new to our church, several others that I did not know. Some of the choir faithful, and a few that join the choir on special days.

The leader was able to help this mixed group of folks to make some very good sounds. Now listen church, we have a lot of great music at WCC. But I tell you this, the day that this new gospel choir hits the floor of the sanctuary, the place is gonna light up!

Maybe you have never sung in a choir before. When you listen to this music, you are going to want to join. Why not come out now and get in on the ground floor. Be a charter member. next practice is Tuesday at 7pm in the choir room.

On a personal side note: "C" I got your email and I look forward to seeing you. You are the best and I love you like a brother. Golf Tournament.

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Singing is good for the soul

Lately I have been singing. I am just wandering along and I break out into song. My family finds it very annoying. Too bad. Songs come out of happy hearts.

I find that when I am singing, I am less stressed and generally happier. It just feels good to sing.

Yesterday I was singing Lionel Richie's "Hello, is it me you're looking for?" I have no idea why. Sometimes I sing "Thank you for the cross." Sometimes I sing the Moody Blues or Stevie Wonder.

If you are a Christian, God has placed a song in your heart. Why not let it out? It doesn't matter if you sing well, the singing is good for you.

So try it. Pick thru the collection of songs in your memory and sing today. Get one stuck in your head. Drive other people crazy. Let them worry, let them fret. You and me, let's just sing.

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

Monday, June 11, 2007

25 years ago today

What happened on this day in 1982?

The movie E.T. opened in theatres.

I just have to believe that every person who reads this blog has seen the movie. If you haven't seen E.T., go rent it.

Having been accidentally left behind by his space ship, the cute little extraterrestrial wants to go home. "Home, hooooome, hoooooome," he says.

Home is a very special place, or it should be. I want to take a moment today to thank God for my home. I don't mean the house that we live in. I mean the home that has been created by my family. If we lived in a motel somewhere, it could still be home as long as we had each other.

A home is a place where you are loved. It is a place where your idiosyncrasies are understood. Neurotics are welcome. All are loved. Blood is thicker than water. At home I am surrounded by people who have good hearts. They also have a collectively bad sense of humor. I wonder where they get that?

We have had our moments, and we do butt heads from time to time, but I am so proud of my children, and so blessed by my wife. It is all good. I will even keep the rotten dog and the two fat cats.

I hope that your home is a place of peace. If it is not, I offer a prayer for you today.

"Dear Lord, please bless each one at they seek to provide a loving home. Please add Your grace to their efforts. May each child feel safe, and each person feel loved. In Jesus name, Amen."

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

Sunday, June 10, 2007


It seems that one of the first things that people learn how to do after they learn to tie their shoes, is to shoot arrows. Not the kind that come from a bow and wound the body, but the kind that are shot in anger and wound the soul.

So many unnecessary things are said and done that hurt other people. Many arrows are launched into the air, often not because of what the target of the arrow is doing, but because of the pain in the life of the shooter.

I have learned some things over the years about arrows.

Arrows are coming, expect them and be ready. You are going to catch some, and they are going to hurt. After you have caught a few, you get used to the pain.

Unfortunately, they often strike in the back, as the shooters usually don't want to make a frontal approach.

The pain and hurt of an arrow will not last forever unless you embrace it. If you pray for the person who shot the arrow and try to see them as God sees them, pretty soon the pain subsides. I often pray, "Lord, please help me to release my anger over this pain. Please bless the person who has delivered this pain. Help me to see them as you see them." Usually, in a day or two, the pain of the arrow subsides.

We can learn things from arrows. Sometimes the arrow is right on the mark. Sometimes I am struck because I need to hear the painful message. It takes a brave soul to admit it when they are wrong.

Sometimes I learn from arrows a good deal about the shooter. Who they are, and how much pain they are in.

When arrows are finding their mark on me I also consider the suffering of Jesus Christ. If there was ever anyone who was unjustly accused, it is Him. Ahh, I get it. The unjust pain that I am receiving can help me to understand how he felt. This suffering can bring me closer to Jesus Christ.

I actually like that thought.

Maybe if I never felt any pain, maybe if my life was only blue skies and ice cream, I would never understand how Jesus felt. If that is the case, then bring on some pain.

The biggest thing that I seem to learn from arrows and those who shoot them is not to do it myself. Knowing the pain that they can cause, I make a conscious choice to communicate in constructive ways with people. If I am really upset about something, I stay away for a while until I can keep my mouth under control. Having been hurt, I know what it feels like, and I don't want others to be hurt by me.

One of the conscious choices in my life is that I will never intentionally hurt anyone.

Life is too short for us to spend our time wounding each other. Life is good and God is great and most of the things that we are upset about today, won't even be on our list tomorrow.

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

Saturday, June 9, 2007

were you sincere?

Its Saturday morning. I had to work today. Got up, shaved, and drove out to the main clubhouse on lake drive to baptize someone. Not really work is it? O for the life of a preacher!

What a great morning. What a great moment. What a great day. When adults get baptized I like to remind them of a couple of things.

First of all, baptism isn't only about your commitment. In fact, baptism is not primarily about your commitment. In baptism, God's promise is on display. His commitment to you is front and center. You may not remember your baptism in 20 years, but God will always remember the moment that you chose to follow Him in obedience.

The other thing that I like to talk to people about is how they may or may not feel. Feelings come and go, feelings are fickle. You can't get rebaptized every time you feel far away from God. The question at the baptism of an adult is not, "did you feel something?" but "where you sincere?"

This is a huge and central issue in all of our spiritual decisions. Whether a person is being baptized, bringing their child for baptism, choosing Jesus Christ or rededicating their life to Him, the question is never about how you felt. What matters is this: were you sincere?

If we made a sincere decision, feelings will come and go, but we will always be able to take comfort in the memory that we honestly put our commitment forward.

God will always honor that. Years from now, you may not remember, you may not always feel your faith is on fire, but if you chose Him in sincerity, that is what God remembers. And you remain in good hands.

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

Friday, June 8, 2007

going on to perfection

When Methodist ministers are ordained, they are asked a series of historic questions. They are the same questions that John Wesley asked his preachers. By far the most troubling questions are these two, "are you going on to perfection?" and "Do you expect to be made perfect in this lifetime?"

Stop and think about that for a moment. To the way our brains think, this is impossible. They are questions which invite hypocracy since perfection cannot be achieved. Many a young ordinand has answered yes to these questions with their fingers crossed behind their backs.

Robert G. Tuttle, Jr., a United Methodist minister, seminary professor, personal mentor and all round great guy, has a very interesting, very helpful thought on these questions. Tuttle says that what John Wesley meant was this: "do you expect to be made perfect in love?" "Is the intention of your heart, at every moment to be inclined towards love?"

This makes the questions more palatable. They now become thoughts by which we can live.

Are you pursuing a life that is always intent on loving others? Do you ever hurt someone intentionally or is your intent always to share love and do good to others? Is it your intent to pursue a life that is bend on dispensing love?

Its a beautiful day in Gods world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

a parent's worst nightmare

Kelsey Smith's parents spent 18 years teaching her about life. They loved her, provided for her, and took her to church. They successfully raised a solid, stable, loving young Christian woman. A few weeks ago, they cheered her graduation. Today, they mourn her death.

You have seen it on the news. A man in a grainy video follows Kelsey out of the Target store and pushes her into her car. Now they have found her body just down the street from us at Longview Lake.

We have spent the last few days talking to our 18 and 19 year old daughters about how to be safe and how to take care of themselves. We have tried to explain to them that even tho we have taught them to be good girls, there are some really bad people out there. We have tried to help them understand how a bigger person can hurt, harm and kill a smaller person.

I am angry that we have to have these discussions with our daughters. I am angry that Kelsey Smith's parents have to endure the unthinkable. I pray that their faith in God sustains them in this very painful time.

What of Edwin Hall? How does someone become such a person that at the age of 26 he is abducting and murdering a young girl? What should happen to him? Dont ask me today, I am not sure that my answer would be very Christian.

It really bothers me that in a world that is so beautiful and so wonderful, there are people that are so evil. You know we all have the potential to do wrong. We all have a dark side, but good people fight off their bad thoughts and choose to focus on the good. What happened to Edwin Hall? I would like to have a talk with him right now. I dont think he would like it.

This morning, my heart is sad and my mind is angry and I am crying tears for Kelsey Smith's family. I know that every one of you are feeling the same things. Those of you that have daughters, Chris, Carol, Andrew and others, you know the concern and emotions that I am feeling.

So how can it be a beautiful day in God's world? What can we find that is good when our hearts are filled tears?

I look to the words of the Psalmist. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Yea tho I walk thru 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 my enemies. What? That is it! While I am surrounded by enemies, by evil, by those who seek to harm me, God has set up a table, a banquet. His presence with us is so strong, that we can still see and experience the good even when we are encompassed by evil.

Anyone can see the good when the sun is shining and the sky is blue. God is looking for people, [and I want to be one of them] who can see the good even on stormy days. Some people look up and see the clouds. God is looking for someone who will look past the clouds and see the sky.

This is not easy to say today. I do not feel it today. But I still desperately believe it.

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Fred [thats not his real name]

I was out of town last Sunday, but I still went to church. I woke up early and went to the 8:00 service at one of the local United Methodist Churches. Not being sure of travel times, I arrived at the church at 7:45. I noticed the sign on the door, indicating that the first service was at 8:30, not 8:00. Now I have a 45 minute wait.

Inside the church they have a nice foyer and were serving coffee and donuts. I loaded up and looked for a place to sit. At one table, a group of four retirees were laughing and having a good time of it. At another table, an older gentleman sat by himself.

There were 10 other tables that were unoccupied. I considered my options of where to park and what that would mean to the next 45 minutes. I sat with the old man.

Now who am I to call anyone old? I am going to be 50 this year.

He spoke first, "its a beautiful day." I thought, well, he is singing my song. I said, "yes it is!" Then he said, "but its going to be a long day." I asked why. He told me that his wife had died 9 years ago, and now he is all alone. His kids live out of state and he really doesnt have anyone to hang around with. Over the next 45 minutes I learned a lot about him His name is Fred. He is 88 years old. He served in the army during WW2. His church did not honor veterans on memorial day. He did not care for the person giving the sermon today. Last time that person spoke, Fred chose to just sit out in the foyer. The conversation from his side was pretty negative. Pretty unhappy man.

I asked him if he went fishing or went for walks. I asked him if he volunteered at church. I couldnt make a dent in his world. I wanted to help, but I didnt know what to say. Afterall, I was only going to be there for 45 minutes, then I would never see him again.

Looking back on this, I am struck again by the amount of sadness that exists in the world. The number of people who have lost the joy of life. I grieve for them and I wish that they could look past the pain and see the good.

Lets try to be the kind of friends to each other, that can lift one another up when someone is down. Lets help everyone that we can to hear the birds sing.

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

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Annual Conference

I was not in church Sunday. I hope you were. I hope you are committed to being in church, even if I am not present. I was at the annual conference of the United Methodist Church in Springfield, MO.

Annual Conference is the yearly business meeting of the church. Delegates from all over Missouri attend the four day event. Half are laity, half are clergy. There are about 1200 delegates altogether.

The Conference consists of worship services, reports from ministry agencies, approval of new policies, workshops, petitions, elections and the all important setting of the budget.

I attended a workshop on church debt. The workshop told me that a church should have no more than 30% of its budget assigned to debt reduction. Currently WCC's debt reduction is 12% of its budget. So that was good news.

Delegates were elected to General Conference, which is a world wide meeting of Methodists that happens every four years. I never get elected to such things. I think it is because I dont know very many people, and I can be obnoxious. [imagine that] I'll just have to stay home and work at Woods Chapel.

The conference budget was reduced by about 7%. This is good and it needs to continue. I serve on the budget team and we are committed to reducing the required costs to the local church, allowing them more money for the work that they are called and committed to do.

One of the great joys of annual conference, maybe the only joy, is catching up with old friends and making new ones. It is a great opportunity to collect good ideas and to give and receive encouragement.

There are always things at annual conference that I do not agree with, but guess what? I choose to see the good. No church is perfect, but we have the opportunity as United Methodists to continue to work to connect people to Jesus Christ. There is no higher purpose than that.

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

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Its not love if I want something from you

Love. We say the word over and over. I love tacos. I love cars. I love you. How can that all be true? What is love? That is too big of a question to answer this morning, but I do want to share a thought.

Let me begin like this.........I expect that people in relationships do things for each other. But when we begin to demand things from others, we may be leaving the realm of love. When I am so broken that I am not whole unless you do such and such, then I have a problem. Friends should not have to buy us dinner or loan us money to remain our friends.

If I want something from you, its not love. That is not to say that people should not be there for each other in a relationship, but.

We are so selfish, so self absorbed. If you catch yourself being nice to someone so that they will do something for you, well, then you are busted. Thats not love.

Love means that I care about you whether you give me anything or not. It means that I value you and enjoy you and you dont have to do anything for me. It means that I seek your highest good. I do everything I can to help you and support you, period. My treatment of you is not conditioned on your treatment of me.

Now sometimes we need to practice tough love with teenagers. Sometimes abusive spoused need correction and direction. What I am saying here does not apply to these situations.

All of us know people who have the ability to help us, or to do something for us. I love hanging around with them and just enjoying them. They are not used to it. They are used to being used.

If I am your friend, I dont need for you to buy me a pizza. In fact, I dont want you to go out of your way for me. On the contrary, I want to help you. I want to do something or say something that will make your day go better.

If I need something from you to be happy, then I am not whole. I need to stop, sit down and remember that God loves me and I am ok. I am ok even if you dont do such and such for me. When I am ok, then I enter the relationship whole. I dont depend on you to solve my problems. The love that I offer you is pure and clean. It has no conditions attached.

Its a beautiful day in Gods world, be sure to see the good.

the benefits of a long drive

I recently took a long drive. Three hours in the car. When I was younger, I hated long drives. I just wanted to get to where I was going. I didnt have time for the journey.

Now I see the world differently. On that long drive that I took, I saw things that I otherwise would not have seen. I saw buildings and trees and farms and homes. I met people that I would have otherwise missed. The change of pace disrupted my routine and caused my brain to get out of the rut.

When I was a kid, sometimes my parents would load us up in the car and we would go for a "sunday drive." We weren't going anywhere, we were just getting away from the house and seeing the countryside. I had a poster as a teenager that said, "life is a journey, not a destination." How important it is to enjoy the moment.

Here is another benefit to a long drive: if you stay off the phone, eventually the quiet will catch up to you. The wheels stop turning and the hurry scurry slows down. I feel at peace.

When we were young parents, sometimes the kids would not go to sleep. Yet, if you would put them in a car seat and drive them around the block, they were out.

Next time you feel a bit stressed, break the routine, go for a long drive. It will do you good.

On second thought, with gas at $3.15 per gallon, maybe a long walk will serve the purpose as well.

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

Friday, June 1, 2007

I know the greatest people

I have won the lottery. Not the powerball drawing. I have won a lottery far better than that. Somehow, for some reason that is unknown to me, I have been blessed.

I am surrounded in my life by wonderful people. These people are kind. They are filled with grace. They are funny. They are forgiving. They are generous. They live in my home, they live on my street. I work with them. I go to church with them. They are everywhere, and it seems like there are more and more of them all the time.

I love this country! I love these people. What did I ever do to deserve to be surrounded by such good folks? I thank God every day for the blessing of the wonderful people that I know.

By the way, you are one of them!

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

The National Spelling Bee

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. It was all on display at the national spelling bee. Did you get a chance to watch any of this? The kids are very very very bright. This is a strong gene pool. They study to get ready for the moment, when they stand up, on national TV and are given a word to spell. Most of the words that they have to spell, maybe all of the words that they are given to spell, we have never heard of. The boy that won last night, won with the word "serrefine." And to make it worse, when he heard it, he was familiar with it, and had no problem spelling it. Whatever. My kid could beat him in arm wrestling.

Anyway, if they get the word right, the crowd errupts in applause. If they miss the word, they hear a bell. I would call it the classroom teachers desk bell. It is a "ring for service" kind of bell. Well they hate to hear the bell. It means that they are out of the competition. Single elimination and on national TV. No second chances, no national attention, no $35,000 in cash. They have worked on this for months and it is very discouraging when the bell sends them packing.

So, I am watching this one boy. They give him a word that he has never heard of. Like all contestants, he does everything he can to figure it out. He asks the allowed questions. "Are there alternate pronunciations?" "What is the language of origin?" "Can you use it in a sentence?"

He thinks. He thinks some more. He is nervous. He has no clue. He draws with an imaginary pencil on the back of the number plack hanging around his neck. He asks for extra time. Finally he cautiously says the word and spells it.

In his mind, he is already done. Finished. Cooked. On the plane home. You can see the worry in his eyes and hear the concern in his voice. He has no clue. He has never heard of this word. He is expecting to hear the bell. He is going to be cut from the team. Stick a fork in it, he is done.

But instead, from the floor, he hears the sound of two hands coming together. Then more clapping. Then the room breaks out in applause.

I am not sure if I can describe the emotion of the moment or the look on his face. I imagined his brain thinking, "thank you God, I am saved!" The agony of a few moments before is now replaced by a jubilation that is akin to the feeling you get when your team pulls it out in the bottom of the ninth inning. It is what you feel when you are stopped by the police and only given a warning. When you see someone that you expect to be ugly to you, but instead they come give you a warm welcome and a hug. When your kids gets a full ride scholarship to college [wouldnt that be nice.]

As I watched all of this, it reminded me of how a person feels when they finally come to believe that God loves them.

So many people that I talk to feel bad about themselves. They are down, they are discouraged. The voices in the back of their head tell them that they are no good. They go thru the day with their heads hanging down.

Then, somehow, for some reason, they finally understand. They have heard it hundreds of time, but finally they get it. Instead of hearing the bell declaring them a loser, they hear applause. Condemnation is over, grace has begun. Rejection is replaced with love. When people hear the voice of God telling them that they are loved, they hop up and down. They experience a joy unspeakable. They truly know the thrill of victory. They are alive to the day in a new way.

I hope you know that you are loved by God. And by me. And by others. You matter. You do not deserve the bell, you deserve applause. Receive it. Rise up in joy! Sieze the day! You are a winner. God loves you.

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