Monday, June 30, 2008

acts of kindness get me on the plane, just in time

Yesterday I told you that I barely made it onto the airplane. Let me explain. My flight left at 8:40am. Jenny dropped me off at the terminal at 7:30. I noticed a long line for the sky cap. Long, like 100 yards long. I go inside. The line is much, much longer inside. In fact, I cannot see the end of the line inside. I choose the skycap line.

It seems that Skills USA was in KC this past week. 14,000 young people, who are now all leaving for home on SW airlines. No one is around from the airline to explain what is going on. You just wait.

Acts of kindness. Well, I don’t have any one dollar bills to tip the skycap, if we ever get to the front of the line. No one has change for a twenty. The person behind me in line gives me $2. Act of kindness number one. Don’t worry about it, he says, just pay it forward. You look like a nice guy, find a way to help someone else out.

As I think back on his words now, my eyes are tearing up. Help someone else out? You bet I will.

Now the line is taking forever. Up towards the front, there is a group of 20 that has a 9:30 flight. They invite us to go around them. Act of kindness number 2. I check in with the sky cap. My baggage gets the “late check in” tag. It may not be in San Francisco when I arrive. Oh, well. The time is 8:35. 5 minutes until scheduled take off.

I run for the gate. Backpack on my back, computer case in hand, I run like a track star. I hurtle a trash can. I arrive at security. Another nice line. They are calling over the loud speaker “last call, flight 2756. If you are in the security line for flight 2756, please move up to the front.” I give the best “poor pitiful me” look that I can. I ask to pass. Every one of the 30 people in line ahead of me graciously give way. Act of kindness number 3.

Now it is down to the wire. There is an airline employee calling for anyone else for flight 2756. I make eye contact. I am still on the wrong side of the scanner. I am ripping off my hat, shoes, hurry pull out the computer. Go, go. Go, dog do. Hurry he says. Thanks.

I step into the scanner. I flunk. I step back, they make me empty my pockets and take off my belt.

I make it through. I grab my stuff and start to run. Hold the door, hold the door. I step into the plane. I am holding a computer case, a backpack and my shoes. The computer is under my arm as it hasn’t made it back to the case yet. My pants are starting to sag. I realize that my belt is back at security. So is whatever else was in my pockets.

I find a seat. Phew. Thank God. And thank you to the people who helped me along the way. Security man, you have a new belt, keep it, I will get another.

Later on the flight, I am reading and crying like a baby. It’s all good.

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

Sunday, June 29, 2008

do you know where I am?

Ill bet that you don’t know where I am right now [as I write this] that is because I don’t know where I am either. I am at 30,000 feet, somewhere between KCI and LAX. I am writing to you in this plane because I cannot contain myself. I cannot begin to tell you what I am feeling at this moment.

As you know, I have been and will be on renewal leave for a few more weeks. Several have asked what I have been doing on this “long vacation.”

I have 3 goals for this renewal leave……..

to work on sermon titles, finding inspiration
to pray about our dreams and visions for our future
to read thru the Bishop and District Superintendent’s book list……….

Here is the book list that I am working on. It contains a collection of books recommended by conference officials and other smart people.

17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork
21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leaders Day
7 Practices of Effective Ministry
Ambition In Ministry
Art of Managing People
Become A Better You
Being Methodist in The Bible Belt
building a church of small groups
Case for the Real Jesus
Christian Chaos
Church Leadership
Creating a Healthier Church
cultivating fruitfulness
direct hit
Effectiveness By The Numbers
Externally Focused Church
First Break All The Rules
forever young diet
fragile hope
God At The Crossroads
good to great
Grace Awaking
Holy Discontent
I Refuse to Lead A Dying Church
Jesus Mean And Wild
Kicking Habits
Leadership on The Other Side
Leading Beyond the Walls
Life Lessons
Losing Moses on the Freeway
Managing Transitions
Power of Now
Praying Naked
purpose driven church
Radical Outreach
Riding With The Blue Moth
rhythms of life
Shaped By God's Hear
simple church
Simply Strategic Growth
Simply Strategic Stuff
Simply Strategic Volunteers
Spiritual Entrepreneur
Starbucks Experience
Summoned To Lead
Surprising Insights from the Unchurched
Take The Next Step
The Life You Have Always Wanted
Total Forgiveness
Twelve Keys To An Effective Church
Unbinding the Gospel
We Heard The Bird Sing
Wired Church

Today, I barely made it on the airplane. The line to check baggage was an hour long. But, I finally made it, shoes off, running for the plane as if I were in a Hertz commercial. I am on the way to a pastors camp in California.

I have read [not word for word, more like digested] about 20 of these books so far, and I want you to know that the first one that I picked up on this plane made me cry like a baby. I am a sobbing fool. People next to me are looking at me, wondering if something is wrong. “no, nothing is wrong, everything is right!” they are good tears. I am so filled with hope and anticipation for what God is going to do at our church, I should be coming home to preach right now, not flying away for a week.

I want to ask you to pray for your church. For the future of your church. What is going on in your heart? What is God doing? Is there a passion in your heart? Is God stirring something within you?

Life is too short for us to live on auto pilot.

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

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Royals 7, Cardinals 2

It was a great night at the ball park. Thank you to those who got us the nice tickets. I love going to the K. It isn't even always about who wins and loses. The guys are so talented, it is amazing to watch them make the plays.

I am a Kansas City fan. I am also a St. Louis fan. My mom was from Kirkwood. We grew up there in the summers when I was a kid.

At the game tonight there were 35,000 people. At least half of them were Cardinal fans. We got to be nice to cardinal fans sitting in front of us. It is always good to be nice to people, even when they are not rooting for the home team. Grace is always good to give. Polish dogs, nachos and more. It was all very good.

After the game, the Friday night fireworks show, paid for by Hy Vee. Hey, Hi Vee, save the money on the fireworks and charge me less for groceries. Seriously, it was an awesome show.

We ran into Adam W at the game. Also saw Cam and Bean. Great boys, all three. I am so proud of all three of them. Their parents, and our church have raised some great kids.

Rain. Yes it started to rain. Just as we got to the car. The rainstorm held off until we got out of the stadium and into the cover of the car. Now at home, it is raining cats and dogs.

A great night at the ball park. Thank you.

We are so blessed to be able to enjoy such luxuries of life as a professional baseball game. Never take such blessings for granted.

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

Thursday, June 26, 2008

we don't all look the same

"Evangelism is not my reproducing in you what faith in God looks like it me. Evangelism is calling others to a faith in which my way with God may not be God's way with you. There are many ways to experience the love of God and live the life of Christ." Leonard Sweet

Cookie cutters we are not made with. Let me focus on the positive, constructive pursuit of God in Jesus Christ,, and may you do the same. We still will look a little different and that is ok. I am ok if you don't look like me. That may even be a good thing for you.

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

the post Christian society

I have been doing some reading this past week. This will come as no surprise to some of you. Others may struggle with this thought.

I think the younger folks will understand and agree, my generation and those older than I am, may still wish that America could return to it's Christian roots.

Without taking up the argument over how our country was founded, many Christian authors have come to the conclusion that we no longer live in the "church age." They mean that the church is no longer the strong force in the community that it used to be. Many people, and I meet them at Woods Chapel, show up at church in their thirties and have never attended church before!! We are no longer offering church to a nation of people who must simply pick their denomination, we are now missionaries in an increasingly secular and pluralistic society.

Now, we may wish it were different. We may wish that all of this would change, but the fact is that many of your neighbors do not attend church. Many have never been to church. Those who do attend church are often not as regular as my parent's generation. We let many things get in the way of our commitments to the church.

The long and short of this is that you and I are missionaries. We are sent by God into a post-Christian society. The institution of the church is no longer going to survive simply because the congregation built a building. For churches to thrive, the members have to "go into all the world," as Jesus asked his disciples. If we simply sit and wait for good folks to come to us, eventually we will dwindle and die.

Have you ever thought that you live in the mission field? Right now, there are people around you who are not just Presbyterians that don't go anywhere anymore, they are totally secular, or pagan as the old testament says. Such an awareness calls us to take seriously the need for us to be ready to share our faith.

You may be able to control the shape of your home and keep it as a strong Christian home, but all around us are those who have no idea what your church is about or what it means to be a Christian. These folks are waiting for a good word from you. Many of them know that you are a Christian and they are wondering about you. Let the way you treat your spouse and kids, let the general sense of love that you carry, be a witness to them of the amazing love of God.

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

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

more thoughts on winning people

Are we winning people? If we are not, what are we doing? It is so easy to become comfortable with a church that serves me, a church that I am comfortable with, but is that why the church exists?

Tough questions. When was the last time that you hung around with someone who was different than you are? When was the last time you shared your faith? Invited someone to your church?

There are 10,000 things to discuss with friends on the back deck. At some point, carefully, your faith should be one of them. Pick a good time and reach out to them. If God's love and the fellowship of the church has been good for you, it may be just what they are looking for.

This is our primary task. Reaching out, beyond our comfort zone, and inviting people, in non-threatening ways, to faith in Christ. If we are not doing this, what are we doing?

Random thoughts. Always be ready to give answer of the faith that lies within you.

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

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

thoughts on winning people

Winning people to Jesus Christ. Making Disciples. Connecting people to Jesus Christ. However you say it, it is the primary task of Christians. As Clay said on Sunday, we have to be out looking for the lost sheep.

Some Christians never bear witness of their faith. They are timid or afraid. Others are so obnoxious or self-righteous that they drive away the very people that they are trying to win. I think that is why some Christians are so quiet about their faith, they don't want to be perceived as being pushy.

In a world that focuses on instant results, we forget that it is not our job to save people. That is God's job. You cannot force someone to choose Christ, that decision is their choice. If you are so worried about closing the sale that you drive the person away, you may want to look at your methods. I have watched well meaning Christians push people too hard and then when their witnessing meets with rejection, they tell the person, "well, I will keep praying for you." Maybe the person who needs to be prayed for is the pushy person.

We do not close the sale. God closes the sale. Jesus never gave an altar call. In fact, they did not exist in the life of the church before the ministry of Charles Finney in the mid 1800s. How did God win people before that? No altar calls? The same way that he has been winning people since the beginning of time. He offers the information, and people make their choices.

You see, the message of the gospel is very powerful. The love of God, forgiveness of sin, the opportunity for a right relationship with God thru Jesus Christ, is very compelling. It sells itself if it is held out appropriately.

I hope that you are praying for friends and family members that are not Christians. I also hope that you are considering and praying about the ways that you try to go about influencing them. My mother used to say, "you win more flies with honey that you do with vinegar." God's love is a very powerful thing. If we model that, lets let him close the sale. Only he can do that anyway.

It's a beautiful [but rainy] day in God's world, be sure to see the good, be sure to share God's love.

Monday, June 23, 2008

yesterday's sermons

Well, I heard that Clay did a great job yesterday. Jesus left the 99 to find the one. Hmm... maybe it's not about me. Be sure to say thank you to Clay.

Yesterday, I went to another local United Methodist Church for the 830 service. The lead pastor was not there. The associate who was preaching apologized to me that I would not hear their "best" guy. Well the sermon that I heard was awesome. The pharisee and the publican. Great stuff. Stuff I have been thinking about. I was actually going to use that passage when I ended up in the hospital. Read it. There is much to think about there. You will find it in Luke 18:9-14.

Later I went to the 11am service at another UMC and heard a great sermon on "the lilies of the field do not worry." This preacher delivered the message without a single note, and it was awesome.

Never take for granted the ability to sit in church and worship. To just soak up whatever is going on with no worries. To take it all in and relax. I usually do not get to do this, but I got to do it yesterday. It was wonderful. Thank you for the opportunity.

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

Sunday, June 22, 2008


There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home. So said Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. She was right.

We are creatures of habit and creatures of comfort. It is good for me to be home from the missions trip. It is good to see my family and "my peeps" as my son would say. It is good to see how much the flowers and trees have grown while I was gone.

My bed, my chair, my yard. Ahh, the comfort of home.

For the christian, we are always at home in the comfort of God's love. Even when things are tough, God's loving hand is present to comfort and guide us. You are never a stranger in the circle of God's love. As Amy sang last Sunday, "there are no orphans of God."

If you have been away, come home and rest in God's love.

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

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Uptown Station, day 4

Day 4 or 5 depending on how you count. We will be leaving to come home today. While I was here, I was with a group of 7 that worked on Ozzie's house. Ozzie is I guess about 45. He is engaged to be married. His fiance recently became ill and has been in the hospital. His home was severely damaged by the storm. A very kind and gracious man.

In the process of the restoration of his home, we hung some sheet rock, taped, mudded and sanded. It is still not ready to paint. You might ask, "what difference did you make?" You might wonder if the trip was worth it. Well, yes it was worth it, and yes we made a difference. It may take a long time, but one person at a time, one work team at a time, Ozzie's house is coming back.

We tend to be so results oriented, it is hard to work like that and not see the finished project. Yet, every person plays a role, every hand carries a load. Never underestimate the power of even the smallest act of kindness. Momentum begins with a very small push. It grows and grows by continued small pushes until the thing is moving towards a positive conclusion.

What you do today matters. How you choose to spend your time and energy can change the world, one step at a time.

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

Friday, June 20, 2008

keep helping

Yes, they have been helped before. Yes, they have squandered some of their resources. They are still in need.

It is very easy for us to turn up our noses at the homeless or needy. We wish they would get a job. We wish they would manage what money they had. We wish. They are still in need.

We get lost in our world. We put our kids on expensive teams. We go on cruises. We own lake homes. We own expensive homes and cars. They are still in need.

It is better to give and to be taken advantage of from time to time, then to withhold a kindness and have someone with a legitimate need be turned away. Yes they may go buy a bottle of wine. Let me ask you a question. "If you lived under an overpass, wouldn't you want a bottle of wine?" These people are still in need.

Whether at Westport, New Orleans, Greensburg, Russia, Guatemala or in your own back yard, keep helping.

17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 1 John 3:17

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

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Uptown Station, Day 2

Yesterday we hung sheet rock at Otis's house. And we taped and mudded. Last night the entire group went into the quarter and ate dinner at a very nice seafood restaurant. As I said yesterday, this is a good group of folks. There is still much to do in New Orleans.

This morning we are watching the news. Flooding along the Mississippi. Everyone is concerned. Join me and pray for those being affected by the rising waters.

Also on the news, we saw some of the tribute to Tim Russert. Regardless of what you may have thought of his politics, he was certainly an enjoyable, friendly, loving man. His untimely death at the age of 58 is a reminder to all of us again of the brevity of life. Luke Russert, his 18 [approx] year old son, referred to his father as "a force of nature." That reminded me of one of my favorite quotes.

"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap… and being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievance, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy." George Bernard Shaw

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Uptown Station, Day 1

I woke up today in New Orleans with 20 other folks from Woods Chapel. Kyle and I flew down yesterday to join the others who arrived on Sunday. It is a cohesive group of kind and caring people who have made the commitment to give themselves away for a week by helping those who are still living in trailers, post Katrina.

Why do these groups always get along so well? Maybe it is Bob's cooking. Maybe it is te fact that they are gathered together around a common heartfelt cause. Maybe they are just good, healthy, mature human beings.

I read a book on the way down here on the plane about healthy churches and how they get that way. One of the main points of the book is that leaders and members should choose to fight off anxiety. When something happens that we don't like, human nature is to become anxious. When one becomes anxious, often others will feed off of that and there is an anxiety feeding frenzy.

What if instead of getting stressed and stressing everyone else out, leaders and members chose to relax and see the good. I like that thought. Choosing to believe that things will work out, that everything is ok, they become healers instead of fire starters.

Healthy churches are able to focus on their mission because they are not distracted by every little upset fruitbasket that comes along. Sounds like good advice.

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In appreciation

There are people at Woods Chapel, who work hard every day. And not for fame or fortune do they strive. But the fruit of their labor is worth more than their pay, and its time a few of them were recognized.

Thank you for yesterday. Thank you for the golf tournament. Thank you for helping over 40 children be adopted in the last few years. Thank you for sponsoring and playing. Thank you for cooking the Italian sausages. Thank you for the joy that we feel when we see each other.

By the way, David you about killed me yesterday. You came up to me and you said so many nice things, I just about couldn't take it. You have a gift of kindness and a way with words. Your heart popped right out and I was touched. Thank you so much for taking those few moments to speak to me over by the silent auction. You are awesome.

Back to saying thank you. Aaron, Michelle, Peter, Lisa, and so many others. I should not mention names. You are reading this and you know you were a part of making this happen. It was a great day and lives are going to be touched because of this. Take joy in that! Tiger Woods won his 14th major, but yesterday, you participated in helping to connect people to Jesus Christ. Thank you.

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

Monday, June 16, 2008

home office

I have always had a home office. For years, it was a corner on the kitchen table. With a Bible and a few books on a shelf beside me, I would take over a piece of the table when I needed to work on a sermon.

With the advent of computers, my office needs grew. I needed some real space. Over the years my office moved around. Mostly because my wife gets tired of the house being arranged in a particular way, and I am thrown out of one space and relegated to another.

In the past 3 years, I have been nearly homeless as far as office space goes at home. I started in a nice little room in the basement. My wife sold me this house based on the promise, "look here is a great room in the basement for your office."

Then Scott got bigger and wanted more space. The house Nazi decided that Scott should take over my office and that I should move to his old bedroom. Fine. Let's do it. Unplug, unplug, unplug. Carry, carry, carry. Plug in, plug in, plug in. Look for lost things.

About a year ago, she took a new job where she works from home when she is not on the road. She needs an office in the home now. No, I know what you are thinking. I asked her if we could share. She didn't even say anything, she just grinned and shook her head. I was out again.

This time I moved to a little nook off of the kitchen. Small, cozy, and constantly overrun by cats warming themselves on the laptop or children who for some reason could not locate their computers. At times, the TV was too loud and the Wii became an attraction of bodies that spilled over into my "office," but the space was convenient and I was with my family alot.

While I was in the hospital, she decided that my office was messy. She decided that she wanted that space back. I had to move. Where should I go? She didn't care. When I came home one day, all of my stuff was moved to the basement. Unplugged, piled up, in a corner against a wall. I am an outcast, a vagabond. To add insult to injury, I can see my original office over there not far, in the other part of the basement, but it is infested with teenage boy now, and you can't get in there. I am just going to have to make it work out here in the basement.

I push my little table over to a window and set up shop. It is cold, and I am off by myself, but having been here for a while, I have noticed something. When I stop thinking about how my feelings have been hurt, when I stop feeling bullied, and look around, there are some pretty cool things just outside the window.

Looking out my new office window, I see blue corn flowers, sedum, a Japanese maple, a plum tree, a cleveland pear, lillys, hostas, red buds, and a statue of St. Francis. Sometimes I see squirrels and rabbits running around. Sometimes I watch a little black dog chasing them. Go black dog, go.

You know, when I get my mind off of the pain of being pushed around and dominated, and just look for the good, there is plenty of it to see. Blue sky, green grass, the woods, and all of my favorite trees and flowers, right outside my office window.

Maybe this is going to work out alright after all. [Don't tell her that I like it, she may make me move again.]

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

Saturday, June 14, 2008

for pastors 1

Yesterday I spoke of credit and responsibility. Let me offer some thoughts to my pastor friends who may read this.

Pastors. We live on good will. When you lose the good will of the people, you are toast, you are done. Stick a fork in it. You can make every excuse in the world, but we have the ability to create positive, hope filled relationships, or to lose them.

Don't react to unhappiness in the flock. Love them. They are good folks. It will all come around. If you act like something is wrong, people will feed on that. If you tell them that everything is ok, they will relax. Show them faith. Show them trust and love.

Don't ever take credit. Give credit to staff or leaders. If you need the credit, there is something wrong in your heart. let others receive the accolades. It never sounds quite right when someone is blowing their own horn.

Take responsibility. If something is going poorly in the church, whose responsibility is it if it isn't yours? Problems flow uphill. Accept responsibility. Never sacrifice a staff person or a leader when a problem occurs. Take responsibility for the problem, even if it isn't yours. You will save the staff person or the leader, and in time, everyone will figure out what really happened.

Get your ego out of the way. The important thing is the ministry of Jesus Christ. He learned a great deal thru the things that he suffered.

Look past the unhappiness. See the good. Outlive the problem of today so that you can live to be a part of tomorrow's ministry. It sounds odd, but taking credit will ruin your reputation with people. Taking responsibility will help you gain their trust. People hate it when you are all about you and they love it when someone steps in to solve a problem, especially if someone else created it.

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

credit and responsibility

I don't know if I have written about this before, but it is on my mind again today, so here we go. Last night I visited with a couple of stellar human beings who are doing awesome things. They don't want any credit, they don't want to be noticed, they don't even want to be thanked. The joy of doing the thing is all that they need.

It is human nature to need a pat on the back from time to time. Sometimes though, we humans are too interested in receiving credit. If you are involved in a good idea and someone asks you about it, do you immediately take the credit, or do you deflect it to others who worked on the idea too?

I think it is bad form to take the credit. When we do, we tend to sound like, its all about me. If you generated something good, don't worry, you won't have to blow your own horn. Sooner or later, people will figure out that you were involved in that neat thing without you ever saying a word. That is good form.

Responsibility. When something goes wrong, do you take responsibility? Someone once told me that "responsibility belongs to those who are willing to bear it." Now, I want to be careful here. I am working very hard to help teenagers learn to take responsibility. It is not healthy for me to save them all the time. But, if you are a manager, don't blame your subordinates. Who hired them after all? If something goes wrong, take responsibility. When something is wrong and no one takes responsibility, a small scale war can erupt. When someone stands up and takes responsibility, immediately the blame game is over and you can begin to work on making the situation whole.

Human nature says, take credit and dodge responsibility. I think that we should give credit and take responsibility. When we do, relationships are healthier, people are blessed, and you have the opportunity to play the role of the healer.

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

Friday, June 13, 2008


Wise words provided by a friend:

"A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He or she does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the quality of his actions and the integrity of his intent. In the end, leaders are much like eagles...They don't flock -You find them one at a time." --Unknown

The kind of person that you are will create opportunities to influence others. People are drawn to those who are filled with grace, joy and kindness. True character is it's own reward.

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

Thursday, June 12, 2008

bad news

Dear Friend,

So they gave you bad news. Yes they did. They told you that you might have cancer. They told you that if it is cancer, it is serious. Well, listen to me. There are ten things that this could be that are not the big C. And, you have caught this early, very early.

Sometimes I know things. I don't know why, but I do. I can't talk about this in a sermon, but anonymously I will tell the computer that it is like a gift of knowledge. Sometimes I just know things. I can not tell you the number of times that I have talked to people with a bad diagnosis and I just knew they were going to be fine, and they were.

You are going to be fine. I know that you are. I know that I know that I know. From the top of my head to the souls of my feet, I know that you are going to be fine. The next few months will not be fun, but you are going to live many more years.

Don't worry, rest in God's arms. They are big and strong. In Him, you can find rest for your soul.

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

when we die

Today, my 17 year old son is going to a funeral for his friend. Please don't say anything to him about it. The wound is very fresh and this is a pain that he has not felt before. Just shake his hand and talk to him, joke with him. He will want to joke. Where does he get that? Sometimes people use humor to distance themselves from pain.

Well, that is why we should speak to everyone. "How are you? Glad to see you." Often we are so caught up in our own stuff that we don't even see the other people. What if they just came from a funeral, and we were so lost in our own junk that we didn't take the time to care? I am not sure that "I am sorry, I didn't know" is a very good excuse. We should practice the kind of hospitality that understands that every single person needs someone to reach out.

When we die. Don't worry about it. Don't be afraid. If you are a Christian, upon your death you will fly to the bosom of Almighty God. People don't even really die, they just move from one life to the next. Your last breath here on earth will be your first breath in heaven.

An interesting thing about humans and death. Those who have faced death and lived, are usually no longer afraid of it. It is like they have already made peace with God, or caught a glimpse of the other side. They live their lives with a different perspective.

Aren't you glad that God's grace is greater than ours? I am sure that many people that we have counted out will be welcomed in by our heavenly Father. He is far more forgiving than we are. I am glad that it is not our job to decide who gets in. Let's just make sure that we are faithful, the only person you can control is you.

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. That is not a bad thing.

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

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Annual Conference

Dare I write about Annual Conference? A few preacher friends read this blog. I love you all, whether we agree or not. This blog is about seeing the good. That is what I try to do.

Annual Conference is a 4 day meeting that takes place around June 1st every year. It is the Methodist Church in Missouri's annual decision time. At annual conference, the budget is negotiated, reports are heard, sermons are delivered, workshops are held and appointments are set. New friends are made, old friends are caught up with.

I always hear some complaining from someone. They didn't get the appointment that they wanted, some person in leadership they don't like, etc. This year someone was complaining about the Bishops new emphasis on fruitfulness. I didn't say anything when they were complaining, but what I wanted to say was, "so you prefer unfruitfulness?"

I thought there were some good things to celebrate this year. After major changes last year, more students are being reached in college ministry with fewer conference dollars, and the vital ministries that were removed from the budget last year have done what they needed to do. They have left the budget, but they have entered the hearts of the local churches and actually received more money this year than last.

Clay, Gina and Sherri were all appointed as associate pastors, and yes, you are stuck with me for another year.

There are always signs of goodness if you know where to look. lets go find it today.

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

Monday, June 9, 2008

denied entrance

Last night I had a dream. I think I dream almost every night. Some of them are entertaining, some of them are thought provoking.

Last night in my dream I was on a church trip with about 10 people. We were in a country like Jamaica. We had a good time, we did lots of fun things, then it was time to go home.

Before we left the hotel, a government official came by and told the group that I would not be allowed to re-enter the United States. I was going to be held in this other country because of some unknown charge.

The rest of our party was very worried, but I told them to go on without me. Everything would be fine. I had strong confidence in my dream of my own ability to reason my way out of the trouble. Somehow I was going to explain my situation and justify myself and resolve the problem.

I woke up. That was the end of the dream. I don't know how it played out, but I will tell you what I woke up thinking.

How many people do you and I know who expect to enter heaven based on their own goodness, their own righteousness. I have been a good, ethical person, surely I can explain myself to God and he will let me in.

Well for the Christian, we have a different approach. When the time comes for us to stand before God, we will not plead our own righteousness, we will simply say, I am a Christ-follower. Jesus has spoken on my behalf.

God's grace will make the way clear for us into eternity, and God's grace helps us today. In this life, we need to keep in mind that all that we are and all that we have are gifts from God. "But for the grace of God go I." We are not as smart, as beautiful, as competent as we think. We always need to be mindful of the gifts of God's grace.

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

Saturday, June 7, 2008


One of life's great pains has struck. His heart was heavy. He stepped into the room and hugged her neck. From the bottom of his heart came deep sobbing. He cried and cried. She held him. He had lost a friend.

So many people need to cry, so many people have heavy hearts. They carry the weight and they carry the pain, looking for a place and a time to let it out. There is such a need to let people cry. Such a need to be a safe person.

Who is around you that may need a hug? Who is around you whose heart is heavy with grief? Do we know how to pay attention and look for them? Do you have someone to go to with your grief? How long has it been since you hugged someone's neck and cried like a baby. I hope you don't feel the need to cry, but if you do, find a friend and hug their neck and let it go.

It is the ministry of Jesus to comfort those who grieve.

you can lead a horse to water

You have all heard it said. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink. It is so true. You can preach a good sermon, and no one take it to heart. You can give life advice to a young person, and they ignore it. The Bishop and conference leaders can beg churches to be outward focused, but it is hard for some people to change. You can tell the story of Jesus Christ in a compelling of a way as possible, and the listener still may not accept him.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Why? Isn't the horse thirsty? At some point, you would think that people would finally choose the good, but they don't always. Sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, the people around you are going to choose the convenient path over the healthy path.

All you can do is what you can do. Keep singing that song. Keep raising that teen. Keep holding up the gospel. It is our job to do and say the right things in ways that are grace based. We cannot control the persons response.

Take consolation in doing well. Maybe one day, the horse will drink, but it is still as always, up to the horse.

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

Friday, June 6, 2008

thou shalt not steal, pt 2

Yesterday I told the story of the plants that were taken from the church. I suggested yesterday that you keep an eye on your neighbors who may be planting, and invite them to church.

Today, due to the gracefilled thoughts of a friend, I would like to add to that. If you catch your neighbor planting 2 hostas, a yellow rose and a lilly, tell them that our church would like to help them out. Get a list from them of other plants that they need and I will see that we find the funds to pay for them and the people to plant them for the neighbor.

Then invite them to church. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who persecute you. Grace is a beautiful thing. Mercy rejoices over judgement.

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

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thou shall not steal

Can you believe it? Someone stole from the church. They dug up two hostas, a lily and a yellow rose bush and carried them off. I cannot believe it. How would you live with yourself? Every time you looked at them, you would be reminded that you were a thief. If the hostas and the lily cost $10 each and the rose bush was $20, that is a total of $50. Isn't a clear conscience worth $50? Hostas and lilys and rose bushes are perennials too. Every single year for the rest of your life, you have to remember that you stole. And from a church. I cannot believe it.

Maybe it is your neighbor. Have they been working in the yard lately? Take a look at what they have planted. If it looks like a lily, two hostas and a yellow rose, ask them if they have a church. Could be that they need one.

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

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

pt 2 - recovery

Five weeks ago today, I was in the emergency room. It seems like a long time ago. In one more week I will be released from post surgical restrictions. I will once again be able to lift heavy things, exercise, and play sports. I will no longer have any excuses when my wife asks me to do something.

I had promised several of you a recap of my recovery. Here is the link to that story. I appreciate all of your prayers and support during this time. God bless you.

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

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

do you remember when?

Dear Child,

Do you remember when you were born? I do. I sang to your mother during labor. I held you in my arms and danced. Do you remember when I watched Sesame Street with you? Do you remember when I took you fishing? Canoeing? Do you remember the little above ground swimming pool that we had? That pool was alot of work.

Do you remember the first time I took you to Taco Bell? Your first day of school? Do you remember when I took you to the play ground? Do you remember me teaching you jokes? Do you remember the talks that we had about life and faith?

I remember trips to Chicago, the beach, Disneyworld, San Francisco and Worlds of Fun. Do you remember the double stroller? I remember every Halloween, every birthday, and every Christmas.

Now you are all grown up. It didn't happen over night. We have invested everything in you, we love you and we are proud of you. You are valuable in ways that you have not yet even discovered.

If this is how I feel about you, imagine how much God loves you.

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

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cancer Awareness Sunday

I can't say that I enjoyed the theme, but I was thankful for the opportunity to celebrate with our survivors. I was also surprised by the grief that I experienced during the 5pm service. It has been 13 years this July 17th that my Mom died. Mom lasted for 3 months after her diagnosis.

Anyway, yesterday, I was very proud of the Pams. I thought the walk was awesome. The luminaries were very neat. During the closing, a butterfly lit on my shirt and lingered for a while.

Let us continue to pray for those who have cancer. Let us rejoice with those who are in remission or are cancer free. Let us thank God for the gift of every person, and every day. Let us take nothing for granted.

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

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Happy Birthday

We have all said it a million times, "happy birthday." Yesterday I ran into two people who were having birthdays. One was 58, the other 39. The amazing thing about both of them is that they were happy with their lives. They were content. You can not ask for anything more than that. To be content with your circumstances, your choices, your opportunities. That is a happy birthday.

The apostle Paul said it well,
"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I 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. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Phil 4:11-13

Happy Birthday my friends.

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