Friday, August 31, 2007

Can you hear the birds sing?

Can you hear the birds sing?

It has been 123 posts since this blog was birthed. Every now and then I need to refer to the title and remind everyone and myself, what this is all about.

Can you hear the birds sing? What does that mean? It means, “stop and listen. What do you hear?” It means that we live in such a hurry that we miss the good, the glory, and the joy. All around us everyday, birds are singing, children are playing, friends are laughing, and God is speaking. We often miss all of it because we do not take the time to stop and listen.

Try the exercise right now. Listen. What do you hear.

The computer hum, the hum of the air conditioner, the voices of nurses outside the door. Someone coughing in the next room. I am at the doctor’s office for a check up. Where are you?

To be too busy, to be overwhelmed, to be frustrated. To miss the laughing of children or the song of the bird. These are the gifts of society, the gifts of the world.

To stop, to listen. To hear. To be aware. To appreciate. To smile when you hear the children laughing, to hear the birds sing. These are the gifts of God.

Can you hear the birds sing?

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

Thursday, August 30, 2007

fall is in the air

At last! Fall is in the air. The back of summer is broken! Sure we may have some more hot days, but they are going to be a few at a time, not a few weeks at a time.

Even Lou the dog is happier on cool mornings. He runs around and attacks the cats with more energy in the cool mornings. All the neighborhood dogs are out this morning, doing what they love to do best. Running back and forth along the fence line, barking at each other. Ahh cool weather brings out the simple joys of life.

Hot weather makes us grouchy. [My mom would say, "you choose to be grouchy."] Well, now we won't have an excuse. I won't have an excuse. Fall is in the air. Allergy season is almost over, you won't sweat walking around outside. The grass will turn green again soon. Electric bills are down. Attendance at church will pick up. That car that I refuse to fix the A-C in will become a good car again. Fall colors are going to break out soon. We can sit on the deck.

Fall. It's all good. I better be really good today, because I can't blame the hot weather for a bad attitude.

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

a little whiner

A little whiner lives inside of each of us. Well, that's not fair. Maybe a little whiner doesn't live inside of you, but there is definitely a little whiner that lives inside of me.

Sometimes I try to find him and kill him but he is very good at finding places to hide. Sometimes I don't see him for a long time, and I think that he has gone to live in some politician, but something happens that he doesn't like, and boom, he is back at it.

When the whiner takes control, or is allowed to be in control, he makes everyone around me miserable. I am miserable too. The whiner delivers a character to others that I do not want to have on display.

I apologize for every time the little whiner has had the upper hand. I am sorry that he is in there somewhere, and I am sorry that he can be hurtful.

I pray for the grace and strength that we preach to keep the little whiner under raps. He got out for a little while yesterday. Today, he will be in hiding I hope.

In spite of our shortcomings, its a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

more beyond

Sometimes I am struck by a painful thought. It always comes at a moment where the greatest joys of life meet our human mortality. I watch people do amazing things. Then they die.

It kind of goes like this: I raised a child. I am in love. I experience the joy of life. How can it be right that we all die? It is the question of the shampoo bottle. We are not here forever. How can it be that we see and do these wonderful things, and then, one day we are gone. Death is the great insult.

For the last two months I have bantered about this a couple of times a week. Sometimes to others, sometimes to myself. On Friday, I was reminded of the answer to this question.

I was driving along with a friend. He was listening to me ramble about this problem. Death is the great insult. Although I should know such things, sometimes great truths are just past our conscious thought. Its like we used to know something, but we get busy and forget.

He said, "this problem you are referring to is just a reminder that there is more beyond."

Click. The lights are on. It is God's way of having us only trust in Him.

His comments reminded me of a story that I have told at funerals about Christopher Columbus.

The Romans gave the Iberian peninsula the motto “Ne Plus Ultra,” meaning “No More Beyond.” This saying, incorporated into the Spanish Coat of Arms, reflected the belief that the world ended at the Strait of Gibraltar. For centuries, no one went beyond that point. This thinking changed, of course when Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492. In Valladolid, Spain, where Christopher Columbus died in 1506, a statue of a lion pays homage to the explorer. The lion tears away the "ne" or "no" from the motto, making it read "Plus Ultra." “More Beyond,” is now the motto of Spain for Columbus proved there is "more beyond" the Strait of Gibraltar.

Spiritually, we must remember. I must remember, that no matter how wonderful this world is, no matter how glorious the gifts and joys of this life, there is "more beyond." Death is God's way of reminding us that we are really just passing thru this life. We are citizens of a heavenly realm, yet unseen, beyond the sky.

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

Monday, August 27, 2007

out of retirement

I went to the Sunday night service, last night of course. Then I drove to Blue Springs Park to watch our softball teams. I have been busy and have not been out to watch any of the games during the fall season. For those of you who don't know, WCC has 10 men's softball teams that play on Sunday night.

I am watching the 7:00 game and my cell phone rings. It is the coach of one of the 8:00 teams. He hears that I am in the stands. He needs a player. Ha! Ha Ha!! I am in jeans, tennis shoes and a polo shirt. No problem he says. He will bring me shoes, shorts, a glove and a shirt.

They are clearly desperate. They have called all day and they can't find anyone to play for them. I am the last number they call before they forfeit.

This is the original Woods Chapel team. When we only had one. It was the Woods Chapel Church team. Then the Woods Chapel Church Chucks. Then the Woodchucks. There were three guys on the team at the time named Chuck.

The original team goes back 13 or 14 years. since then, as we have grown, we have added teams. All are named after road kill. Armadillos. Anteaters. Porcupines. Warthogs. Jackals. Wolverines. Snappers. Dingos, Wombats, Buzzards, Squirrels, Shrews and Coyotes. All with great men, mostly from church, gathering to play ball, have fun, and talk about life, love and the pursuit of happiness. Softball has been a great, low level port of entry for men into our church.

So my phone rings. They want me to play at 8:00. Ha. Ha Ha! They want me to play. Ha. Yahoo.! Even 50 year olds still want to play. They bring me shoes, socks, shorts, and a shirt. I am the catcher. No problem.

Praise God. I bat 3 times. I get two hits. I ran the bases. I scored a run. I am batting 666. for the fall season. We have a play at the plate. I catch the ball and tag the man out. Yahoo! Great joy for old catchers.

Thank you B and coach G for inviting me. You are the best. Among great men, you are the best. Thank you very much.

There is always something inside of us that still wants to play.

Four weeks left in the season. They want me back. Ha. I can hardly walk this morning. I want a signing bonus.

You know, this little story brought me so much joy, I just had to share it with you. Real life is where real people live, and for a moment on Sunday night, I was John Buck. I was Johnny Bench.

It doesn't get any better than that.

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

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Grace, Weddings, and Our Moms

1. Hello Grace. I didn't know that you were reading this blog. Welcome. I love you. I miss you. I am so very thankful for the kind words that you always deliver to me. You are a blessing. Remember that no amount of distance can separate those who care about each other. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

2. Wedding. Last night. Wooooooooaaahhhhh!!!!!!!!!! Full house. Everyone is crying. Crying for joy. I believe that the rafters in the church shuddered under the sheer force of the joy that filled the place. Standing ovation at the end, for the bride and groom. Many of God's angels were in attendance to witness the bonds of love. How happy we are for you P and J!

3. Friend who spoke of a wound. Don't let the words of sorry people get you down. I have known you a long time and you are top flight. I wish our moms were here to hold us when we hurt like this. Please know that there are those who are always in your corner. Every time. We see the good and there is plenty of it. Stand tall, you are the best.

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

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Greebsburg, KS

We went to the Chiefs game on Thursday night. Before the game starts, the teams are lining up to come out, there is exciting music, and there are cheerleaders. This time, there is something else. Lined up in front of the Chiefs bench, are 24 young men in blue football jerseys. The scoreboard tells us that these 24 young men are the football team from Greensburg, KS.

Remember, a tornado destroyed most of the small KS town earlier this year.

Many lost their homes, some lost friends and family members. They all lost their school. They are here tonight, because the Chiefs organization is going to replace all of their lost football equipment. That is pretty exciting.

24 players. Not a very big team. Boys from the farm. Grades 9-12. 24 of them.

Now here come the Chiefs. Lots of noise, lots of excitement. They make their way thur the gauntlet of cheerleaders and then around and thru the boys from Greensburg. Some of the Chief players walk the entire line and shake every hand. What an absolutely exciting moment this must have been for the 24 boys. Humanity and grace are still alive, even in the NFL.

The national anthem is sung. A few faces are shown on the jumbo-tron. This is a day that the boys from Greensburg will never forget. Based on the losing outcome of the game, this encounter between professional and high school athletes, may have been the highlight of the day.

Be sure to remember the widows and orphans and those less fortunate around you.

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

Friday, August 24, 2007

Chief's game hugs

Blessings to the friend who gave us tickets to last night's chief's game. Thank you very much. It was a wonderful night. Blessings to those who fed us brats! Thanks a bunch.

Hanging out in the parking lot with Robbie before the game. Thousands of people are walking by us on the way into the game. Here comes the V family. GV and LV and two little boys. Their parents have taught them to pass out hugs and give knuckles. So here come these two cute little guys, and I get hugs.

When I was a young father and the girls were little, I always noticed how much the older folks loved it when the girls would pass out hugs. Now, I am one of those older folks. What a blessing to hug a child. What an affirming joy. Thank you to every parent who is teaching their kids to hug on their friends.

I hope that today, someone goes out of their way and gives you a hug. Come on, fess up, even tough guys like to be hugged.

Maybe if you hug someone, they will hug you back.

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

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lion's Den Man

What is in a username? Why do we pick the things that we do? I have always just stuck with some derivative of my name. Boring. 5,000 online accounts of one kind or another. Can't remember your username? For me it's easy. Its always one of three that I always use.

Occasionally I see a username that is intriguing. My brain reads it and looks at it. What does it mean? Why did they pick that?

Yesterday, I read a comment that someone posted to the blog. I don't know who it is, but the user name struck a cord with me.

Lion's Den Man.

Wow! I make an inspection of the picture that conjures up in my head. Not just Daniel in the Lion's Den, but I am the man in the lions den. Lions, me, and the protecting hand of God. What an incredible message this person is sending about their life: "I have troubles, I find myself among the lions, but I am always protected by the unseen God!"

That totally rocks! I may have to come up with a new user name. Thank you Lion's Den Man for blessing me with your message. May you find no lions today, just the protecting hand of the unseen God.

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

the morning ritual

Here it is again. Morning. Another day in paradise. Every animal in the house hears you wandering around upstairs. When you open the door and start down the hall, they are all singing.

The cats are yowling and the dog is hopping up and down in his kennel. Now here is the difference between cats and dogs. The dog will bolt out of his kennel and follow you where ever you go until you bid him good morning and scratch his head. The cats are yowling, but they aren't going to move for anyone. They are sitting in their favorite spots and they expect you to come over to them and scratch their heads.

Everybody wants their heads scratched in the morning. Fine.

People are even more complicated. Usually they won't bark, yowl or hop up and down, but almost everyone wants a little bit of attention.

When our family rolls out of bed, I speak to everyone and dish out hugs. I love saying annoying things to teenagers in the morning. "Rise and shine and give God the glory!" Ugh. I dish out hugs and kisses. At the office, I have made a habit of wandering around and saying good morning to everyone. Whether we make noise about it or not, we all need a little attention. Its sort of like, "all you need is love." Hey, that is catchy. I think I'll write a song.

Good morning. They are all waiting for you. Dogs, cats, people, maybe even your pet spider. Take the time. Scratch their backs. Speak to them. Give them a hug. It's a great way to start the day.

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

the suffering of others

What are you doing today? Wake up, get ready, go to work. Meeting a friend for lunch? Shopping for something tonight?

What are you doing this weekend? Canoe trip? Picnic? Something relaxing?

Usually we don't think about suffering unless we are suffering. Although we feel the pain of others for a short time, we forget about their pain very quickly. I don't know if it is being self-absorbed, or if the human psyche can only think about difficult things for so long.

When was the last time you thought about or prayed for the following.

Those in the path of hurricane Dean. The families who lost loved ones in the Minneapolis bridge collapse. The six miners and their families. Those still homeless from hurricane Katrina. The homeless in general. Those facing genocide in the Sudan. The hungry in Ethiopia. The invisible children of Uganda. Orphans in Russia. Those who lost family members in the tsunami. Families separated from their loved ones who are serving in the military. Families who have lost loved ones in the Iraq war. Families who lost loved ones in 9-11. In the Oklahoma City bombing. Someone lost a parent. Someone lost a child. Someone is going through a divorce. Someone is in the nursing home. Someone is lonely.

We can go on and on. The list of suffering people is endless.

How is it possible that I didn't think about any of them yesterday? If I didn't think about them, I didn't pray for them.

Empathy. Compassion. Lord, let me not be so busy that I forget about the heartache of so many of your children in our community and around the world.

Please join me today in remembering those who suffer. Part of what makes the world a wonderful place is the care that we extend to each other.

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

Monday, August 20, 2007

opps I did it again

I received a flyer underneath my office door yesterday:

Lost Pet:
Garden spider, non poisonous............
escaped from his cage on Saturday.........
answers to the name of "Webber"......
if found, please call [name withheld]......
greatly missed.

[if you don't understand this, then read yesterday's blog]

Well, I did it again. I am afraid that I have unintentionally caused harm to another human being. At least this time, it's all kind of in good fun.

I do think alot about how my actions affect others. I guess part of me deep down inside is a pleaser. Its kind of a blessing and a curse. I would rather make you happy than to disappoint you. So I work hard at it, and I always try to think about how I am coming across.

That is the good part. Pleasers tend to be sensitive and kind.

The bad part is that pleasers tend to worry too much. They apologize for things that didn't even register on the radar screen of the other person.

I guess if given a choice, I would rather be a pleaser who worried too much, than to be someone who didn't care about the feelings of others.

Not sure how to strike a balance with this, except to be more careful the next time I step on someone else's spider. I didn't see his collar until it was too late. Sorry. Send me a bill and I will buy you a replacement for Webber.

Humor is good. Thanks for the note.

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

Sunday, August 19, 2007


I am not particularly afraid of spiders, nor do they rank among my favorite things in the world.

Yesterday, I had an interesting experience with a now deceased spider.

We are driving to Dan H's house to return some things from the canoe trip. We see Jeff M out in his front yard. We stop to visit. The truck is still moving as I start to roll down the window. The electric window motor drops the window pretty fast.

I don't know where he came from, but it was like he was just waiting to drop. A big, half dollar sized spider came falling from the top of the window. On a string, the wind blew him right into the cab of the truck. I freaked out.

The truck is still rolling, Jeff is walking over to visit, and I am hopping, leaning, falling away from the giant spider. I finally regain my composure, blow him outside and roll up the window. I put the truck in park, step out side, explain to Jeff my strange actions, and we both look for the culprit. He is located and summarily dispatched to his heavenly home.

I got to thinking later about how we respond in difficult, surprising situations. Had I know what was going to happen with the spider, I might have been ready to respond. Instead, I went spider nuts.

Sometimes in life when we are surprised by the actions of others, we overreact as well. How much better it would be if I could think harder about what is happening and maintain my composure when the heat is on. I think that this is more glorifying to God than me having to apologize for an out of character response.

I am glad that God can help us with our humanity. Our ability to act more graciously, even in tough situations, is only limited by our ability to get into the habit of trusting Him.

Spiders beware. Next time you are on the prowl, I am going to be ready. You aren't going to scare me.

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

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Canoe Trip......

I just came back from a canoe trip with six great guys from church! We had a blast and they scheduled this trip in such a way so that I could be in church on Sunday. Isn't that cool?

We had lots of good bonding time. King of the hill water-wrestling contest. I caught nine [9] fish! Fish beware, Jeff is on the river! It was a blast.

I hope that you are scheduling some time of rest and relaxation for yourself. It doesn't have to be an expensive trip. Just a little bit of time to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. Jesus took time away and went into the hills to pray.

I you feel stressed and burned out, take a break. Get out of the routine. Catch some fish.

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

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hugo Chavez

Old saying:

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

In the news: Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela has introduced laws that will allow him to remain president for life. Hmm.....

I watch with sorrow as people take power and use it to benefit themselves. Power is used by some to acquire money. Others use it to manipulate people. Powerful people sometimes will come across in threatening manner. They sometimes see themselves as invincible, better than, and above it all.

It is all very painful to watch, because this is not what God intended.

God grants people power so that they can do good in His name. Whenever I talk to someone who has been promoted or is making more money, we always talk about the opportunities to treat employees well and to do God's work with the money that is earned.

Everyone has power. You may not think you do, but there are people in the world that you have power over. As a Christian, it is really important that we model the character of Christ and use our power and influence for the good.

"25Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mt. 20:25-28

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

Jose Offerman

Jose played major league baseball for 15 years. He was a two time all-star. Lately, his career has taken a down turn. At 38, Jose has been returned to the minor leagues. Yesterday he was hit by a pitch and he charged the mound. With the bat.

He hit the pitcher, breaking his finger, and hit the catcher who came out to protect his pitcher. The catcher has a concussion.

Offerman was arrested on the spot. Good. Sometimes celebrities get away with things that they shouldn't.

Everyone gets mad. Most people don't pick up a bat when they are mad.

What do you do when you get mad? Do you lose control? Yell at people? Say things that you wish you hadn't?

The best advice when you get mad: Walk away, take a break, cool down.

My mom used to say, "no one makes you mad, you choose to be mad." I like that thought. It reminds me that I have to take responsibility for myself and for my actions.

If you don't like hurting people's feelings, then walk away when you get mad. De-escalate. Others won't let it lie? You can. Walk away. Be the big person.

"man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." James 1:20

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Lou the dog

Lou is our dog. He is a Schnauzer. 6 years old. Noisy little pesky dog. He barks at everyone. When I come home, he sees me pull in the drive, walk up the sidewalk and come to the door. The whole time he is barking like a fool. I step inside and yell at him. "This is my house. You don't bark at me." Then he quits barking, as if somehow now he has suddenly recognized me. He wags his little stump of a tail and goes back to his business.

Other than barking at everyone, his business is pretty good. Lots of people around to scratch your head, a food bowl that is always full, and two cats to maul when you feel the urge.

When he gets to go outside, he bolts thru the door with such excitement. You know, I have never seen that dog unhappy or depressed. It's like he only sees the good in life. Well, since most of the home and family revolves around scratching his head or feeding him treats, I guess he doesn't have much to complain about.

This whole blog thing is about seeing the good. Most pets that I know of, don't really have any worries. They just lay around and wait for someone to pay attention to them.

Pets are very trusting. When I hook up Lou for a walk, he never complains about where I will take him. He is just excited to go. When we are gone, he never worries about being alone. We will always come back. We always have.

Maybe we should be more trusting. More content. More confident that God is there and he will never leave us. Maybe we should stop barking at the people that live in our house. Maybe we should work on being excited for the simple things in life like your paws in the green grass or an air conditioner vent to sleep next to.

My mom would say that we choose to complain. No one makes you mad, you choose to be mad. Heck, it can't be that hard. If my dog is learning how to see the good in life, maybe its time for me to make some progress in that area. What about you?

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

10:30 pm

Ha! I woke up again today with a song on my heart. Gospel!

"Hold to His hand, God's unchanging hand,
hold to His hand, God's unchanging hand,
build your hopes on things e-ter-r-nal,
hold to God's unchanging hand."

The gospel choir is practicing tomorrow [Wed.] at 6pm.
You may want to come out and join this group!
Look what you will be singing when you wake up in the morning!

Different subject.


I am alone at home. Wife and one girl at college. Other daughter on date. Reclusive son in the basement. Ok, technically if the son is home, I was not alone, but he holes up in the basement and you never hear from him unless he is hungry. Then watch out. The first clue that he is on the rampage is the rumbling of size 13 shoes coming up the stairs. Then, if you are in the kitchen, you better get out of the way. He used to come home from school after track practice and eat like a pig. I would chide him for ruining his dinner.

"Don't eat all of that! It's 5:00! We're going to eat in an hour!"

Well, when the time came for that, he ate dinner too. Once I saw him make, stack up on a plate, and eat four [4] ham and cheese sandwiches. I think he has a future in the national hot dog eating contest. Is that a paying job?

10:30 pm

I am alone at home. The phone rings. Friend from church. Wants to talk. I go and we sit on the porch for an hour. Same problem I am having. Kids going away to college.

There are some problems in life that you just cannot solve. I have found in such times, it is helpful to at least be able to sit with someone who can relate to our pain. Our hearts may be sinking, but it brings some comfort to know that you are not in the boat alone.

Remember, Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. If you think you are alone, you are not. He is there. He may not solve every problem, but He can bring a comfort and a peace that passes understanding.

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

Sunday, August 12, 2007

One down, one to go.

We took Jenny down to MU yesterday. I still haven't cried, but I can feel it in there, so I am sure it will come out pretty soon. Alli is going down to Warrensburg on Friday.

It is hard to let them go. To watch them grow up and move away. But, it is what we are supposed to do.

On the way home in the car, the Cat Stevens song, "Father and Son" came on. One line always sticks in my brain that the son sings: "from the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen." Haunting words. Makes me think about what kind of a parent I have been. You can't be their friend, but.........was I too tough?

I have always believed that children need a balance of discipline and love. The discipline keeps them on course, the love helps them see the good in life, and the love also makes the discipline palatable.

When your kids grow up and move away, you have to remake yourself. You have to find a new purpose. You have to rediscover your life. You have to learn to be alone but not lonely.

Speaking of alone, Cathy is going back on the road in September. Ahh, something else to deal with. You know, about the time that life gets comfy, there is something else to deal with.

Clay starts work today. That's a good thing.

Well, it is a hot August day, but it is still a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

little miracles in the night

Night time can be amazing. Sure it can be depressing too, but there are some amazing things that happen at night. At night, during sleep, the brain still works. And you get rested. Figure that out. At night, during sleep, problems are solved, sins are forgiven [or seemingly so], wounds are healed, peace is acquired. Sometimes it takes a few days to sleep off a deep wound, but the sleep of the night always eventually resolves what I cannot resolve in the daytime.

Last night, I had good dreams. Odd thing is, I don't even remember what they were, but I remember waking up thinking, "that is really cool."

I had a song in my mind again, in the night and when I woke. "Crown Him with many crowns." It is number 327 in the Methodist hymnal. We sing it once a year, right after Easter. How did it get in my brain? Go figure, but I am glad it was there. Nice thoughts to wake up to.

Anyway, these kinds of things that happen in the night, absolutely amaze me. It is another illustration of God's goodness and the miraculous nature of the human body and this life.

I hope that you make it to church today. It's gonna be a good day in the house of the Lord.

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

Saturday, August 11, 2007

What is your quest?

Now every time I look at a bottle of shampoo, I am going to think about by impending demise.

Last night I was talking with some friends about favorite movies. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" came up. We started talking about the "bridge of death" in the movie and the bridge keeper's three questions.

"What is your name?"
"What is your quest?"
"What is your favorite color?"
or the third question might be:
"What is the airspeed of a swallow?"

Someone turned the conversation serious and asked the question for real, "what is your quest?"

So there it is. Pause, stop, think for a moment. What are you about? Can you answer the question in one sentence? Two? Three? For some reason I want to spend some time thinking about the question before I answer.

But for today, here goes.
I go back to the shampoo bottle. I don't know how many more shampoo bottles I will get to use in my lifetime. I don't know how many days I have left. But I want to make every single day count. That is my quest. To be awake and aware every moment. To do my best for my family, for the church, for God and for every one of you.

To be "on" as much as possible. To do my very best as much as is possible. To apply myself to excellence.

This is one of my favorite quotes, attributed to Pat Riley, NBA coach.

"Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better."

What is your name?
What is your quest?

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

Thursday, August 9, 2007

the shampoo bottle

There it is. The shampoo bottle. How many times have I looked at it and paid no attention. But today, I notice, and I notice that it only has about an inch left in it.

The human mind goes funny places. How long have I had this bottle? When did I buy it? How often do I need a new one?

I buy 3 at a time. I'll bet you can count the number of times on one hand that I have bought shampoo since the new price chopper opened.

I guess its not really the new price chopper anymore.

Shampoo. Suave. .89 cents a bottle. Strawberry. The older I get the less I use. Not that I am being frugal, I just don't need as much. Another year or two and I will stop keeping it. Just wake up in the morning and spray on some windex and wipe my head down.

So I guess its time for another trip to the store for shampoo. These bottles last a long time. I get to know them. I bring them home, they sit on a shelf and finally it is their turn to be in the rotation. I use them and I use them. Then months later, they are running out. Have to find another bottle.

So my brain is struck with this question. How many bottles of shampoo do I have left to buy? How many more will I go thru before I die?

Life is going by very fast. It is good, very good, but it is going by fast. Every day I have this little dance with a shampoo bottle. The bottle gets very little attention, but it is there for me everyday. It somehow marks the passing of time.

Some day, I am going to die. One of my kids is going to reach into the shower and just throw my bottle of shampoo away and take it out to the trash. They will pay it no regard. How can that be?
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12

I guess I am going to pay attention today to what is going on around me. I am going to try and slow my world down. I am going to think about, and listen to others more. I am just not going to be here forever.

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

A good word

"I need you, you need me, we're all a part of God's body,
stand with me, agree with me, we're all apart of God's body."

I wake today with these words in my heart! Those gospel songs are doing a job! Ya'll need to join the gospel choir.

Prov 15 "A good word at the right time, how good it is."

Now I don't think we should live on the approval of others, but a good word at the right time is such a blessing. I received such a word last night. Just a simple email from someone that I admire. For no reason, they were just writing to bring a good word. Thank you!

We all have an incredible amount of power that we can exercise with our mouths. We can wound people, we can hurt them, or we can encourage them. Your kids, your family, your coworkers, your neighbors, are all waiting for a good word. Just a word of love.

Just do it. Spring out. Even if you don't feel loving. Let's all promise that today, we will tell at least one person how much they mean to us. This will be good.

Thanks friend, for the nice note last night.

A good word at the right time. How good it is.

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

ups and downs

Life has ups and downs. It just does. You can wish that it didn't, you can pretend that it doesn't, but it just does.

I don't know about you, but I will go for months and feel happy as a lark, and then go thru a period of time where I feel like I am fighting to keep my head above water. These periods of struggle, these downs usually come for little or no reason. They used to really bother me. Now, I know that they are going to come, and they are going to go. Eventually they are going to run their course and be done. Just hang on.

When these periods of time come, I try really hard to keep the chin up. But, there are always those who can read me. They want to know what is wrong. What is wrong? Nothing really....its just one of those times. This too shall pass.

Well, how about a change now. Oh, praise God for the power of music. I can't get it out of my head!
It is still the music from the gospel choir on Sunday:

Joy, joy, God's great joy.
Joy, joy, down in my soul.
Sweet beautiful, soul saving joy,
Ooooh joy, joy in my soul.

When I am weak, and I can't go on.
All of my strength, my hope is gone.
In the midnight hour, I cry to my God
He gives me joy, joy in my soul.

Joy, joy, God's great joy.
Joy, joy, down in my soul.
Sweet beautiful, soul saving joy,
Ooooh joy, joy in my soul.

If you are struggling with a down time, turn on some Christian music. Go buy some music that blesses you. Get the words and the tune stuck in your head. Pretty soon, you will be waking up with positive words in your mind and a glad heart.

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

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The ninety and nine

Jesus told a wonderful story about the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep in the fold and goes after the one that is lost. I think all good pastors understand this story. When someone leaves the church it breaks your heart. You know that there is a normal turn over every year. Some people drop out, some people move on. But it is never easy. You are always concerned. It always hurts.

1138 people in church on Sunday. One, that I know of, is thinking about leaving our church. It breaks my heart. What kind of sense does that make? With so many people, why does one make a difference? We even had someone visit church Sunday who used to come, left, and may be coming back. Now that is really exciting.

One matters, because every one matters. When you read this, I want you to know. Every one matters. You matter. If I get the chance, I pour my life, my time, my heart into each person.

I guess it is personal. I want to win them. I want to help them. And I want to keep them. But its not always up to me. Sometimes we have to let them go. Sometimes they are looking for other things. Sometimes they have something going on in their life. I am always sad to lose them. Every single one matters.

Sometimes, you just have to understand that you have done all that you can and let them go. Sometimes you have to just go back to the fold and work with the 99. There is still a message to be shared, there is still a mission to be fulfilled.

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

Monday, August 6, 2007

5 reasons why I can't sleep

Hi. It's 3:30 in the morning. Normal people are asleep. I wish I was. Why can't I sleep?

1. I had a bad dream about one of my kids.
2. I have a minor tooth ache.
3. I can't get my mind off of something that happened yesterday.
4. There is a noise in the house that is working against me.
5. My throat hurts.
6. I am hungry and thirsty.

Ok that was six. Number six shouldn't count. How can I be hungry and thirsty in the middle of the night? That is silly.

Well, I guess it is time for me to hear the birds sing. Time for me to listen to a dose of my own medicine. See the good Jeff, see the good.

You know it shouldn't be that hard. 500 things happened yesterday. 498 of them were good.

What were some of the good things that happened?

1. we had a big crowd at church.
2. the new gospel choir rocked.
3. the sermon seemed fine.
4. I saw lots of folks who are real busy in the summer. Man it was good to see them.
5. We had a big seminar in the afternoon and got to tell 60 folks from all over the country about Woods Chapel Church.
6. I saw a group of volunteers work very hard to make the entire day, including the seminar come off without a hitch.
7. There was a camino at our church. Busy, crowded, but always a good thing. Several people have a brighter sense of joy in their life today because of it.
8. I talked to 100+ people yesterday who seemed genuinely glad to see me.
9. My kids are safe.
10. My family is healthy.

Ok, you know, I really don't have anything to complain about. Sorry. Sorry for keeping you up at this time of the night. It's good. It's all good. It's all very good. We should remember that.

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

Saturday, August 4, 2007

I am not a very smart guy

When I was a boy of 14,My father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.
~ Mark Twain ~

I have always known this story. My Dad told this story about me. I have always understood the reality of the story from the perspective of the young man.

Now I am the father. I understand the story from the perspective of the father. The thing that I hadn't really counted on, is during the time that the kids think you are ignorant, you actually feel dumb. At least I do.

You don't know what to say to them, you don't understand how they are thinking. No matter what you try to do, what approach you take, they don't work. You feel irrelevant. I don't like the feeling.

For all of you with younger children, enjoy the time. Your day is coming. :-)

Maybe by the time all of this is over, I will have something good to say. Some good advice to give. Come see me when you cross this bridge, maybe I will be smarter then and will have something to say to help you thru it.

In spite of it all-
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, August 3, 2007


I am not discouraged. Not today. But sometimes I am, and sometimes you are. Discouragement can bring angry reactions, depression and withdrawal.

A friend wrote to me the other day about how she had withdrawn from opportunities to lead because of discouragement. [I don't think that they were referring to something at church.] She mentioned that she had read the post from July 28th "God needs leaders" and decided to get reengaged. That made me very happy. Quality people recover. There are a lot of times that I wish I had recovered the right perspective sooner.

If you are discouraged, remember: those feelings won't last forever. It is probably true that the things that you are involved in are more important than your discouragement. The good things that we are trying to do, they lose when good people get discouraged.

Here is the joy in "seeing the good." It helps us look past the short term feelings, and the things that come so naturally to us humans and helps us be engaged in the purposes of God, inspite of our feelings.

It is human to get discouraged. It is human to want to take a break and heal. But, each of us should consider the cause, and apply ourselves to participating in the good, whatever the venue.

9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10

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

Thursday, August 2, 2007


Tragic. Sad. Deeply painful. To watch on the news the story of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis.

My brain always goes funny places. I don't like bridges over water. I am afraid of heights. This would have been my worst nightmare. And for many who were actually there, it was.

We pray for those who are injured. We pray for those who have loved ones who are dead or missing.

How can these things happen? Technology has brought us great joys, great opportunities, and great calamities. Unfortunately, sometimes, really bad things happen. The space shuttle explodes, skywalks fall, a bridge collapses.

These are all frightening reminders that we are but dust. Our lives are very fragile. We spring up like the grass and then wither.

24For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
25But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
1 Peter 1:24-25

James says it very well:
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." James 4:13-15

We cannot trust in the changing winds of life. We cannot live as if we are kings. As if we have power and control. We must remember in times like these, and at all times, that we put our hope in God. He is our only foundation, our only hope. He is the ground of our being.

In spite of sorry and tragedy, we put our trust in the Lord.

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

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

the gospel choir

This is gonna be good. The new gospel choir is singing this Sunday at 905, 1010 and 1115. I think its gonna be good! Great! Awesome!

Last night we practiced our songs, and you know what, these folks are doing a great job. One of the songs is about joy and I went home singing it. All thru the night when I woke up, that song was still inside, and in the morning when I rolled out, that song was still in my heart.

How does that happen? Something gets stuck in your head? I don't know, but I am really glad when the thing that gets stuck in my head is something good.

What is stuck in your head? If its not good, maybe you should join the gospel choir.

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