Wednesday, October 31, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

blog on vacation

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

Hmmm. Busted. Maybe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 29, 2007

Daylight Savings Time

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

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

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

For more information on this random topic:

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

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

Yes, busyness is a word.

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

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

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

Sunday, October 28, 2007

canoe trip

I went canoeing yesterday. Sorry I did not make a post. Should I feel bad if I can't make a post everyday? Hope not, didn't have internet yesterday at all.

Canoe trip. The outdoors. Nature. Beautiful river, trees and bluffs. Hanging with friends. You know, one of the reasons that we love friends, is because they will allow you to be yourself. They accept your brokenness, they empathize with your suffering, they understand your humanity. They accept you, warts and all. They give you grace.

Sleeping in a tent when it was really cold. Getting rained on, but surviving. Gathering wood for a fire. A really big, hot fire. Eating excellent food. Excellent food that someone else cooked! Friends. You can try your ideas on friends. They understand your emotions. They accept your silence.

Oh yeah, I caught four fish!

I guess the best part of the trip was hanging with friends. I guess the best parts of life is friends. Friends are one of God's special gifts. They are the most valuable thing that a person has. Doesn't that make it interesting, that God portrays himself, not simply as a big scary person, but as a friend. In John 15, Jesus said, "I no longer call you servants, but friends." That is good news. He accepts us. He understands us, he welcomes us. If we will let him.

Let him.

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

Friday, October 26, 2007

The enormity of the task

There are so many things that are so big, it seems as though the work will never get done. In fact, there is no end to human suffering. It will be here long after you and I are dead and gone.

Sometimes, when you look at the number of hungry people, the amount of work to be done in New Orleans, San Diego, and Greensburg, it seems overwhelming. It is overwhelming. These areas may never come back. The problem is so immense, it is easy to develop a sense of compassion fatigue.

We get tired of helping, we get tired of caring. Sometimes we just want our life back.

Well, there is an old saying: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Jesus invited his followers to take a cup of cold water in His name. When we stop doing that, we become turned in and self-absorbed. We grabbed at the life we wanted, but we did not find it. We are only truly filled when we are giving of ourselves to others.

Rest, take a break. Pray. The compassion will return, for it comes from the heart of God. Do not be weary in well doing, for you will reap a harvest in due time, if you do not faint.

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

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Greensburg, KS

Sorry I didn't write yesterday. I did not have access to a computer.

The church missions department had scheduled a trip to Greensburg. Friday, Oct 19-Sun, Oct 28. It was/is a great plan that covers a weekend, a week, and the following weekend. Several leaders will be there the entire time. Other volunteers can go for either weekend, the week in between, or any part there of. I would guess that 30 friends from WCC moved in and out of Greensburg during the trip.

I was going to go with Clay and Harry on Monday morning, returning on Wednesday, but the funeral service on Tuesday took priority. That is as it should be.

Anyway, I didn't think I would be able to go. Then I got a phone call. Jeff R from our church is going to fly down on Tuesday and return Wednesday night. I am in!

I packed very light. No computer. We left at 3pm and arrived in Haviland, KS at 6pm or so. Piper Lance. Nice plane. Thanks Jeff R.

We stayed in the UMC in Haviland. Lots of good fellowship after dinner. We went to bed, and woke up Wed am about 6am. We drove the ten miles to Greensburg. WCC was working on three different projects. I was assigned to work on the roof of the volunteer house. We worked hard. Man am I sore today.

People ask why Greensburg isn't put back together yet. Its been 5 months. Well most people don't realize that the tornado was 1.5 miles wide. It tore thru the entire town and leveled everything. Nine people were killed. When you see the damage, nine killed is a miracle. They scooped up all of the rubble from the tornado and carried it to the landfill. The remnants of 800 homes and many businesses. They lit the pile on fire. It burned for 39 days.

In one moment, the lives of 1400 people were changed forever. They will never be back to normal. They are going to have to get used to what ever a new normal looks like.

We think everything in our lives will just keep going as it is. We take so much for granted. Don't.

Be aware of your blessings. Thank God for them. Use your comfort to help others.

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

funeral day

Today is Joe's funeral. 10am at the church. Burial at Blue Springs cemetery. I don't like funeral days. It's not that I mind helping the families, I am glad to do that. It is just hard to say goodbye. It is hard to be in front of lots of sad people, especially when you are sad too.

If you goof up on Sunday morning and the sermon is weak, most people will come back the following week and give it another chance. If you goof up at someone's funeral, there is no next week. No second chance.

A funeral is a time to remember the life of the deceased. It is a time to grieve and say goodbye. It is also a time to remember the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Ahh. Now I begin to see the good. We have hope in Jesus Christ! Doesn't that put a different feel on the day.

Death is not the end. We have a hope that springs eternal. Life is a wonderful gift. And brief tho it may be, let us celebrate.

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

Monday, October 22, 2007

What makes a good day?

I listen to people all the time. If the chiefs win, I am happy. If they lose I am angry. If my kids behave, I am happy, I they don't I am stressed. If the sermon is good, I am full. If the sermon is bad, then I am empty. If the market is up, I am happy. If it is down, I am sad. If OJ goes to jail, I will be happy, If he doesn't I will be mad. If, if, if, if if if............

Lets see, what is the assessment of the weekend?

Blue Springs South football fans are happy.
MU fans are happy.
Nebraska fans are not.
KU football fans are real happy.
Jere Gish fans are not.
Chiefs fans are good.
Raiders fans are mad.
Red Sox fans are happy, very happy.
Cleveland fans, well, they can't believe it.

Today, this morning, are you happy or sad. Glad or mad? When will we learn to live beyond circumstances?

Just to be aware that this is how our brains work is helpful to me. To catch myself allowing myself to feel bad because something didn't go my way. Usually, that is all it will take. I see what I am doing and then I can put it in perspective.

12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

I remember my faith. My life is not directed by circumstances. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. Everything is ok. It is all good. As I see the face of my Savior, football and baseball, they find their place in the back seat of my concerns.

When we remember what is important, the sediment of life does seem to settle to the bottom. Let's not get lost in the things that don't matter. You are a Christian! You are dearly loved by God! You are on the winning team. Its good. Its all good.

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

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Scottie gets a job

Well, you raise them, and you pray for them, and you watch. Every now and then, the kids shine.

Scott, age 16, child #3 [final child] has been courting Best Buy for a job. He works during the summer at the golf course, but they are closed in the winter and so he is broke. I'll bet he has made 10 trips to Best Buy looking for the right people to talk to. He has had three interviews.

Yesterday he had his last interview. Now, I am thinking at Best Buy, if you have a pulse, you are hired. Not so. These are some of the questions that the general manager asked him:
-tell me about yourself. who are you?
-tell me what you know about our products and services.
-why should we hire you?

These are pretty tough questions for a 16 year old to face. Well, Scottie answered well and Scottie got the job. $1/hr more than at his other job.

When he was done telling this story, I just grinned. I told him something that my father never told me when I was 16: "Son, I am proud of you. I am so very very proud."

Oh, one more thing. He has to pass a drug test. If there is a problem with that, you will hear about it in this blog, but I think he has faced one of life's opportunities and done quite well.

Dad is proud. Very very proud.

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

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Age 22-35

When I moved to WCC I was 36 years old. There was a solid group of folks around 50 years of age who said to me, "We have led the church for a long time. We will attend, we will participate, we will give, but find some young people to take leadership. Every church needs young people."

Well, I think we did this. We found many young people and they got involved in the church. Now a funny thing has happened. All of those young people are older! I turned 50 this year!

When a church forgets to reach young people, when a church loses the generation 22-35, the future is bleak. The landscape is littered with churches that are populated with older folks. There are churches where I would be considered one of the young folks. Death awaits such places. The future is predictable.

Everyone is always worried about young people 18-22. But I know this now, they are in college, they are testing their wings, they are doing other things. Not that we should forget them, but they usually don't think about coming back to church until later. When young people enter their mid 20's to early 30's they are getting jobs, getting married, having kids, and returning to church.

These are the folks that we must be sure to connect with. Not simply to welcome them, but we need to nurture them, support them and give them authority. A successful future for us is not a bunch of 50 year olds running a church that welcomes young people. A successful future for us looks like lots of older folks supporting a church that is led by exceptional young people.

Now, I love all of you and we are all important, but I hope you understand, if we don't win and deploy the younger folks, our church will be gray in 20 years and dead in 40 years. Those of us who are no longer "young folks" need to understand what our future looks like without a solid core of young people involved at WCC.

If you are reading this blog and are age 23-35 and are interested in getting more involved in the church, I would like to hear from you. My generation will attend, will participate and will give. We want to launch you into your future. We want the church to be successful, years after we are gone. Send me an email and lets have a cup of coffee.

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

Friday, October 19, 2007

Thank you, Joe

Joe Dittmer was a good man. Tall, with a big smile. Happy, friendly, solid. Joe and Sharon sat on the main isle most every week at one of the contemporary services.

A month ago, Joe was diagnosed with lung cancer. Yesterday he died.

Thank you Joe, for the goodness in your soul. Thank you for the love that you shared. Thank you for your faith in Jesus Christ.

It hurts to lose a friend, but there is great joy in a life well lived. Friends, we never know how much time we have left. Live strong. Love true. Don't sweat the small stuff.

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

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Endorphins. I think that they are the little dudes that your brain releases that help you feel good. Sometimes I wish my brain were releasing more of them. Sometimes I think that my endorphins are on strike.

It is hard work to see the good when your endorphins are no where in sight. You know there are times when you just feel bad for no reason. It's hard to write a blog when you feel crummy for no reason.

Well, the opposite is kind of odd too. I feel good for no reason. I am happy for no particular reason. This is good. Why shouldn't I be happy? I have every reason to be. My problems are really boring. I should be happy every day.

The last few days, my downs are up. I am giddy. For no particular reason. Maybe it's not about endorphins. Maybe I am just happy. I think it is true, that for one reason or another, everyone has their ups and downs. I am glad for the ups. I grin and bear the downs. I guess if we didn't have the valleys, we wouldn't understand the mountain tops.

If you are in a valley right now, remember the words of Psalm 23, "yea tho I walk thru the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me." Hang on, it will come to an end. The mood will turn. Work harder to be nice when you are down.

If you are up, rejoice! Philippians 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice."

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My friend died

One of the most painful statements in all the world. "My friend died." I heard it yesterday.

How do you console someone who has had a friend die? What are the right words to say?

I am sorry. I am so sorry. It will be ok. I know you don't see it now, but it will be ok. We are your family. We are still here. We love you.

Dying is what all humans do. I will, you will, we all will, and your friend did. I am sorry. I love you. Take in the love. Grieve. Cry. Its ok. Its normal. It hurts to lose someone we love.

People die everyday that we don't know, and it doesn't bother us. But when our friends die, we are broken. That is because we loved them. If we didn't love them, it wouldn't hurt. The hurt is a reminder of the deep love.

Pray with me.
"God I thank you for my friends. I thank you for their lives, as temporary as they are. Help me to trust in you, even when I have to say goodbye to them. I know that they are in a better place. I know that the world is still a good place."

In spite of the loss of loved ones, we still have love. We still have hope. Life is good. It is wonderful, it is glorious. That is why it hurts when it slips is a beautiful thing.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to say thanks. Speak to your friends. Be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

the trash truck

There is a trash truck that drives around in my brain. You have one too. It is really noisy and every now and then it stops and dumps some dumb thing out for me to think about.

I used to think that thinking is good. "The unexamined life is not worth living." Such thoughts as that.

Well, thinking is good, but too much to think about is not good. Too much worry, too much noise, too much rubbish in our brain. When we get too busy, when we are wound up too tight, we are robbed of solitude. We are robbed of prayer.

The evil that seeks to distract you from your purpose does not need to have you join a cult, all it needs to do is to get you so busy that you can no longer pray.

The four stages of prayer:

1. I talk, God listens.
2. God talks, I listen.
3. Neither talk, both listen.
4. Neither listen, silence.

To really find the presence of God, we have to stop talking. We have to stop worrying. We have to find the place where we are silent before him.

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

The trash truck has to stop running. Stop the wheels, stop the noise, stop talking. Listen quietly, then be silent. Just rest in his presence. This is not easy, but it is beautiful. I keep working on it.

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

Monday, October 15, 2007

awake in the night

Well, from the time of this post, a person might wonder, "did Jeff stay up late, or get up early?"

I used to be a morning person, then we had kids. Personal time didn't begin until they were in bed. I became a night person. Now that they are all grown up, I am a morning person again, which means I am in bed much earlier than I used to be. Important information that inquiring minds want to know.

Add a rainstorm to a 9:30 bed time, and I am wide awake at 1:30am.

Now, here is the good news. What is on my mind at 1:30am? A song. How do these songs get in your head in the middle of the night? I don't know, but it is always a blessing when the song that is stuck in your head is a song of faith in Jesus Christ.

Here it is. Maybe it will bless someone today.

Grace greater than our sin
1. Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Chorus: Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God's grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.

2. Sin and despair like the sea waves cold,
Threathen the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the Refuge, the mighty Cross.

Chorus: Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God's grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.

3. Dark is the stain that we cannot hide,
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! there is flowing a crimson tide;
Whiter than snow you may be today.

Chorus: Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God's grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.

4. Marvellous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe;
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Chorus: Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God's grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.

I think that someone out there needs to meditate on these words.
Maybe it is you. Have a blessed day, I am going back to bed.

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

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The right thing

A preview of the message today:

"The right thing to do is the right thing to do, even if you are the only one doing it."
My Dad

Jesus set the example, the Christian faith and the character of God, call us to do good. In the name of Jesus Christ, to do all the good you can, to all the people you can, in all the ways that you can.

It is fulfilling. It is right. It can help you thru discouraging times. Just keep doing the right things.

Do not be weary in well doing, for you will reap a harvest at the appointed time, if you do not faint. Galatians 2:9

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

Saturday, October 13, 2007


As I sit here this morning, it is raining. Its a good, moderate, steady rain. There are several things in nature that have a mesmerizing effect on humans. Rain is one of the them. Others include: sitting by an open fire, sitting at the beach watching and listening to the waves, and feeling the wind blow thru the trees and onto your face.

These pieces of nature are gifts from God. Earth, wind and fire. There is something about these places and times that bring a soothing peace to the soul. They are God's reminders that he is big, creative, and he knows how to reach into the souls of men and women.

If something got rained out in your life today, thats ok. Let it go. Get a cup of coffee, listen to the rain, and spend some time in prayer.

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

Friday, October 12, 2007

it's hard to say it all

Do you ever read the blog and not totally agree? Do you ever listen to the sermon and not totally agree? Its gonna happen, and its ok.

Whether you have 20 minutes for a sermon, or 400 words for a blog, it is hard to say it all. There is no question that it is next to impossible to cover every angle of a topic in a short time. I pray that everyone understands that. Sometimes, for everything that I say, there are three things that are unsaid. For every topic that I manage well, there are two others that rise to the top with questions.

It is hard to speak comprehensively to every topic in a short period of time. Sometimes I imply something that I did not really mean to imply.

What does that mean for all of us? Well, you just do the best that you can. What ever you do, you do the best that you can. Understanding that what you will do is less than perfect, you still go out and get after it.

Pay your money, make your choice. Take your shot. Do your thing, live your life. Say sorry when you need to. But put your best game on the table.

It's all good. We all love each other. Yes, there is a bunch to add to what I said, yes there are many more details. Lets tell the stories, lets love one another. It's all good. It will all work out just fine in God's plan. I love you, you love me, I hug you from afar. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

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

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Belief in God

Yesterday in Cleveland, Asa Coon carried two handguns into his school and shot two students, two teachers, and then killed himself. He was 14 years old. 14.

The shooting came after a fist fight the day before. The fist fight followed an argument. An argument over the existence of God. Seems that Coon did not believe in God.

What do you say when children shoot people? What do you think when metal detectors, installed to keep guns out of school, are not turned on? Sometimes I feel numb to the problems of the world. Then I think of my children, sitting in class at their schools, and I don't feel so numb about the problem.

Asa didn't believe in God. I wonder if his parents were too busy to take him to church. I wonder if he played on lots of sports teams that kept him out of church. I wonder if they went out of town alot on the weekends. I wonder if Sunday was the only day that they had to sleep in.

I have seen people keep their kids out of church for many reasons. The kids usually don't grow up to be professional soccer players. Just like everybody else, they have to learn how to work, how to live and how to apply themselves to life.

I will tell you this, every child needs Jesus Christ. Every child needs a foundation of faith. Proverbs says, "train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Prov 22:6

Church seems like an inconvenience now, but the foundation of faith is essential for a meaningful life. Our faith takes us through times of loneliness, times of pain and faith helps us to see the good.

For heavens sake, take your kids to church and Sunday school. Help them find faith in Jesus Christ. You will be glad that you did.

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Summer Shipp

Summer has been missing for almost three years. Summer was an attractive adult woman. Authorities have always suspected foul play. Today they announced that they found her remains along the little blue river. While doing door to door research in Independence, some jerk took her against her will, abused her, killed her and then threw her away like a piece of trash.

This kind of thing happens way too often.

Let me be clear to all women and young people, both boys and girls: there are alot of really bad people out there in the world. Be careful. Jesus said that people that hurt his children would be better off if a millstone were tied around their neck and they were cast into the sea.

We were not created to treat each other badly. Someday, there will be a day of reckoning for those who hurt others.

How can it be a beautiful day when we get bad news? Well, we just have to see the good. We just have to decide that everyone isn't bad and everyone isn't terrible. There are many good people out there and there are many wonderful things to see and experience.

I am thankful for every person that I love and trust. Good people, good friends are a blessing from the Lord.

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

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

for the love of the game

Why do I love to play softball? I don't know. Why is it hard to give it up? Cause I just love to play.

As a young man, winning was important. Playing well was important. Now, I am just glad for a chance to get my swings in.

Sunday night was the last game of the fall season. Woodchucks vs Coyotes. I was looking forward to this. I loaded up my bat bag and was out to the park in plenty of time to warm up.

I got a couple of hits, I ran the bases. I made some outs. Gosh it was great to play. To hang with friends, to dog each other, and to care about one another. The weather was beautiful, it was a great night for ball. Brian C, who used to pitch for MU, pitched me an overhand fastball when I was up to bat. We all had a blast.

At the end of the game, we circled for prayer. "Thank you Lord for this day, for these men, for the chance that we have to play. Thanks for keeping us safe. Bless these men, bless their families. Amen."

Here is an amazing piece. It is the last game of the season. After our prayer, the umpires came up and said, "hey, we just want you guys to know that all of the umpires love to be assigned to your league. You guys are the best." Now, does that not bust your bubble or what!

We are providing some great stuff for men. I am older, I am slower, I have had shoulder and knee surgery. I don't know if I will play next year, but I hope that I can. There is a joy that comes from hanging with the guys and taking your turn at the plate. It's a great game. Its a great time. Life is good.

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

Monday, October 8, 2007


I am going to sound a bit like the writer of Ecclesiastes today. If you haven't read that book, it is a good one. Kind of gives you an interesting perspective on life. Lots of questions, not very many answers. Old Testament.

I played softball last night. Had a great time. Was gonna write about softball, but something happened on the way home that changed my mind.

I was driving down 40 highway near the edge of town. I noticed something in the middle of the road. My brain thinks, " don't hit it. Let the wheels miss it." I get up to it, and it is a possum. Unfortunately, this is a possum that has already been hit but was not killed. He is kind of rolling around, flopping around....well, you get the picture. It was sad. I am over him and gone in 10 seconds. As I drive down the road I think, "maybe I should go back and run him over, finish him off, put him out of his misery." But, I decide that that is as morbid of a thought as the thought of him just laying there waiting for the inevitable crunch of the predestined driver.

So I drive on. And I think. I think about possums that suffer. Children that suffer from hunger. Children that suffer when their parents get divorced. People that suffer when they are in relationships with mean selfish partners. People that are sick. People that are lonely. There is alot of suffering around. Seems like plenty for everyone. What is the purpose of needless suffering? What is the meaning?

I wish I could stop it. It bothers me that there are painful things that I am powerless to change. But, I know that this is a part of how the world works. As much as I don't like it, that is the way that it is. I want to have a heart that tries to end suffering, but after I have done what I can do, I know that I have to learn to live with the fact that things are not always going to be the way that I want them to be. In spite of this, I still have to see the good.

So, in spite of suffering, its a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Friday night we stopped by the church late to pick up a car. I noticed two deer drinking water from our pond. Cool. Really cool. Our church has provided a place where God's creatures can find rest.

The deer saw us and headed out across the parking lot to the church's field just beyond the grassy knoll. I followed them. When my headlights hit the field, we were in deer heaven. We won the deer lottery. There were 15 of God's little creatures out there just having a good time.

It made me feel wonderful that we have a haven for deer. I also thought of the scripture:

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God." Ps 42

I am glad that the deer are finding what they need at Woods Chapel. May all of God's human creatures find rest and sustenance for their souls as well.

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

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Your Wingman

The movie "Top Gun" came out before my kids were born. I connected to one of the lines in the movie that I have used in parenting for 20 years: "never leave your wingman."

I have tried to teach the kids that their brother and sister[s] are their wingman. They are life partners. They are blood. They should always stand up for each other and take care of one another.

Someone is ugly to your brother at the bus stop, you take up for him. Don't ever take the side of the person who is hurting your brother or sister. Don't leave your wingman. The entire mission depends on us sticking together, us working together.

Over the years we have had some success and some failures over this theory. Still, I have persisted: Don't leave your wingman. Take care of one another. You guys are all that each other has. You will always be brother and sister.

When we have a problem with this doctrine, there is always a lecture. So, when we have a success, there is a celebration.

Jenny has had trouble adjusting at MU. She has been lonely and homesick. Its too big, she says. So, without hesitation, Alli says, "Jen, come to Warrensburg, and it will be ok."

Alli could have protected her own turf. She could have left her sister to suffer. But, from somewhere down deep, when she heard of the problem, a little voice inside of her said, "don't leave your wingman."

Jenny is transferring to Warrensburg in January. Alli is making her welcome, introducing her to people and getting her connected. Dad couldn't be more proud.

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

Friday, October 5, 2007

Pastors should love people

Pastors should love their people.

I listen to some other pastors talk about how bad the people in their church are. Some churches get black listed by pastors because the people are "difficult." I am still looking to meet such people. I guess there have been a few over the years that left, and it was good for everyone, but for the most part, I only meet good people.

When I was a kid, one of my pastors used to talk about the "sheep." He would always say that some of the sheep had manure in their wool. Implying that there were some bad folks in his flock. That always bothered me.

I choose to see people the way that God sees them. I just want to love them all. Occasionally there is a person that can be a challenge, but rarely. I have found that if you hang on and keep at it, you can see the good and bring out the good in just about anyone.

So I hear someone who used to attend WCC and left, is thinking about coming back. My response?

Hooray! Yippee! Praise God! Joy!

Not that this is the only good church in the world, but we love our people and we grieve when they choose to move on. Every sheep is valuable. Jesus left the 99 to find the one.

If you see someone back in church that hasn't been for a while, rejoice! Hug them. Bless them. Show them what the Christian faith is all about. Don't pick at the past. Dispense grace. Pastors should love the people and the people should love the people.

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

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Gospel Choir again

It was good to be back in Gospel Choir last night. The messages of gospel music are so good, so heart true.

One of my favorites that we have learned is a song called "I need you to survive," by Hezekiah Walker. The lyrics depict a heart that is reaching out, seeking a friend, longing for wholeness, begging for relational completeness. It is a good illustration of how we should think of one another, and how we should treat one another.

I need you You need me We’re all a part of God’s body
Stand with me Agree with me We’re all a part of God’s body
It is his will that every need be supplied
You are important to me I need you to survive

I pray for you You pray for me I love you I need you to survive
I won’t harm you With words from my mouth
I love you I need you to survive.
It is his will that every need be supplied
You are important to me. I need you to survive

I need you You need me. We’re all a part of God’s body.
Stand with me. Agree with me. We’re all a part of God’s body.
It is his will that every need be supplied.
You are important to me I need you to survive.

Friends, we need one another. Every member of the body is important. This is the day that the Lord has made. It is a day that he has given us to love one another.

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad!

October 3rd 1927. Paul Parmalee Brinkman Jr. was born. I didn't know him when he was young, but I learned later than he grew up poor. He used to take the streetcar out to Waldo, which at the time was the end of the universe. He graduated from SW High in Kansas City. He served in the Navy during WW2, developing pictures of the first atomic bomb. After the war, he attended Drury college, graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering and a young wife, Mary.

Dad was a loner. His nickname growing up was "Pooh" like Winnie the Pooh. As a father, he was pretty distant. He worked long hours and I didn't see him much.

But, somehow, he delivered the goods to his son. He taught me how to work. He helped shape my faith. He taught me a myriad of old sayings and wise thoughts about life.

I got to know Dad a lot better after mom died in 1995. We had seven years together after that. From 1995 until he died in 2002, Dad was a member of the Woods Chapel UMC. He led the first 8:30 singing group, and he had a lot of ideas for his son about what makes a good sermon.

In February of 2002 I was on the church ski trip with the kids. They were 10, 12 and 14. At about 11pm on Saturday night, Cathy called to say that Dad was in the hospital. Heart attack or stroke, he was on life support at Research. Doug H and another young man drove me from Glenwood Springs to Denver. We arrived at the airport at 2am. When the kids woke up, Doug was there in the room to tell them what happened and to take care of them. I will never be able to repay him what he did for my kids that day. I sat in the terminal until 5:30 and left on the first flight to KC. Cathy picked me up at the airport. We went to the hospital and said goodbye to Dad.

Tons of friends from Woods Chapel attended his funeral. Dad is buried next to Mom in Mt. Washington Cemetery in Independence. I miss him.

But, I thank God for every day that I had with him, and all of the good that he brought to my life. Be sure to appreciate your loved ones everyday that God gives you with them.

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

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A good day

Do you ever have days when you don't measure up to your own expectations? I do, and I know that you do too. Having failed many times, I am very thankful for those days when I am able to reach into the tool box and apply God's grace to life in a positive way.

Prayer is an important tool in the Christian's tool box. True prayer takes us to the other side.

Something bothers me. Someone annoys me. 20 atta boys given today, one bad boy. The bad boy comment sticks in my brain.

True prayer will take me to the other side. True prayer keeps me spiritually engaged. I don't need to react to things that I don't like. True prayer gives me peace. I don't complain, I'm not angry, for I have now entered into the presence of God.

The sting of the arrow leaves in time and I am so glad that I kept my mouth shut. I am so glad that I did not drag others down with negative comments. True prayer saves me from having to clean up after myself later.

I praise God for the moments that I have remembered and engaged in true prayer. They have taken my focus off of myself and filled me with God's love. That is what true prayer can do.

What is going on in your life? Anything annoying? Anything that makes you mad? Try true prayer. The kind where your will is less important than being in the presence of God. Enter in. God is big enough. You can trust him. True prayer will take you to the other side.

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

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Screwdriver

Years ago we used to give away flowers to all of the women on mothers day and screwdrivers to all of the fathers on fathers day. I am not sure why that went away, probably too many people and too much time to pass them out.

Anyway, the screwdrivers that the dads would get were every variety: straight slot, phillips and torx. Now most people are familiar with straight slot and phillips, let me tell you about the torx screwdriver. Torx was invented for the automotive industry. It has a star shaped head and comes in about 10 sizes. The idea of the torx was that since people didn't own these tools, they would have to bring their cars back to the dealer for service.

Torx became available over the years and we gave some of them away with the regular slotted and phillips on fathers day.

Now, years later, Bob J from our church is working in his yard with a chainsaw. A part comes loose and the chain saw quits. He looks at how the part is adjusted and it is a torx. Since he doesn't have any torx, he does what all tool guys do. On the way to the garage he is thinking about what tool he does have that he can improvise to fix the chain saw.

So, he is looking around at his peg board for a good option to use on this fitting when he spies it. A screwdriver that he got on fathers day at church many years ago. Its a torx. No way that it will be the right size.

He pulls it down, and don't you know, it is a perfect fit.

A small gift given years before, an obscure tool, a memory from church comes to the rescue.

I like that story.

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