Monday, December 31, 2007

church yesterday

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was all so very inspirational.

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

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

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

Sunday, December 30, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 29, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friends, we are blessed. So very blessed.

We can make it a beautiful day for others.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto

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

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

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

Change the subject.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Uptown Station, New Orleans

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

the gift that keeps on giving

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Night Before Christmas at church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Brinkman, 1988

Monday, December 24, 2007

In the fullness of time.

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Christmas Spirit

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

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

Merry Christmas.

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

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Weather forecast

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

We will have church.

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

We will be open.

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

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

brush pile part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 21, 2007

dumping brush

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

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

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

Ok. Let me whine. Whaaaaaaaaaaa.

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

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

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

Thursday, December 20, 2007

giving people room

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

walking wounded

Last night I ran into a friend from church.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Secret Santas

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 17, 2007


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

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

So, here is the story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You ready for this?

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas worry

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 15, 2007

no gifts

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

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

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

Hey, this will preach.

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

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

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

Friday, December 14, 2007

Final Exams

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas lights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Evan Almighty

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

your comment

Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 10, 2007


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

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

2. excellent solos and soloists.

3. orchestra rocked.

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

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

6. Greg Steele

7. Kris

8. Everyone of you. It was awesome.

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

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

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Yes we are having church today

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come if you can.

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

Saturday, December 8, 2007

snowball fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 7, 2007

my aunt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 6, 2007

sad news

Sometimes the news is too much to bear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

the advent calendar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 3, 2007

Life is fragile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A cold morning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 1, 2007

eternal life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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