Thursday, July 31, 2008

rejoice with me!

I cannot hardly contain myself! I have been looking for this person for years. I have mentioned the search in sermons. Finally after a couple of years of looking, I have found an old friend. Of all the people that I remember from my teenage years, she is the one who helped me find a living faith in Jesus Christ.

I moved away from San Jose the year after I graduated. The following year I visited for a week. That was 1977. Since then, I have not had any contact with high school friends, and have lost touch with them completely.

As I have grown older, I have thought more about the people that influenced me when I was a youth. I have wanted to find them and say "thank you."

This week, I found Robin. She is married and has a 15 year old daughter. She is a pastor in Portland, Oregon. I don't know how to explain the feeling, but a connection has been made, a question answered, a circle completed.

I look forward to learning about the years of my youth, so long ago, so long forgotten. But the really good news of all of this, is that I got to say, "thank you."

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The gift of sleep

Wow, do I sleep good when it is raining. Not thundering, just the steady pitter patter of rain on the roof. I slept for 9 hours last night! That is awesome, and unusual for me.

I think sleep is a miracle. It is a proof for God. If humans evolved, why do we sleep? How does sleep renew us? How is it that you are asleep, but your brain is still working? Amazing. Last night I was dreaming that I was in the gospel choir singing, "Hold to God's Unchanging Hand." Maybe I should go to Gospel Choir practice tonight.

When I have a problem, I go to bed with a heavy heart and I pray. Most often, when I wake up in the morning, I am healed. Today, I am healed. I am free from my burden. God just did it in the night.

Sleep is a miracle. Refreshed, ready and clean. I wake to the day. It is amazing what God can do. There is a reason why people pray before they go to bed. It is like the prayers work in your heart while you sleep.

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

bad attitude

I have one hanging around right now. I am working on having it go away.

Bad attitudes show up for any number of reasons. Something happened that we do not like. It is too hot. The car broke down. Someone was rude. Whatever.

I believe that you should do whatever you can to fix things, but sometimes there is nothing that you can do. Things are, just what they are, and they are not going to change.

In such cases, the problem is obvious. The problem is me. I cannot allow myself to be dominated by something that my friend did. I have got to find release from always thinking about the upsetting thing. My Mom used to say,, "no one makes you mad, you choose to be mad."

Anger is a blocker. When you are upset, you don't think straight, you don't see anything correctly. The wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God. We cannot be who we ought to be when we are consumed by bad feelings.

So I tell myself:
"Jeff, you can't do anything about this. This is not you. You are not defined by this unhappiness. Don't let this little unhappy rob you of this day. This is a good day. This is the day that the Lord has made. See the good."

I tell myself this over and over, and it works. I feel better already.

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

Monday, July 28, 2008

6 days left

Today as I begin the day, I am aware that there are 6 days left in my renewal leave. I have a very few days left now to summarize what I have been doing. I have to get 59 book reports into some kind of final form. I have to do some more work to flesh out future sermons. I have to work on the list of action points for staff. I have to work on a sermon for Sunday.

One of the biggest challenges that I face as I return is that I don't know where to begin. I am so full of thoughts and feelings and ideas that I just don't know where to start. I know this is a good thing. In fact, that is the whole point of a renewal leave. Fresh perspective. Learning opportunities, no, I mean growth opportunities. Renewed passion.

For six weeks the staff has managed the church without me. They have done a wonderful job. I knew that they could, now they know that they can do it as well. One of the most interesting things that I have heard over this period of time is this quote from a member of our church, "this is the first church I have ever been a part of that was secure enough to allow its pastor to be gone for six weeks for a renewal leave." What a healthy thought that is.

I am certainly looking forward to being back with you this Sunday. I am excited to see your faces and hug your necks.

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

Sunday, July 27, 2008

One bad moment

One bad moment can stay with you for a long time. Last night my family was watching home movies from 1991. Alli was 3, Jenny was 2, Scott was 1.

In the home video, my wife is running the camera and she decides to film me. Well, we had a fight earlier in the day and I was grouchy. Captured forever now on VHS and DVD is Jeff B as a grouch. A jerk. A bad husband.

Ouch, does that hurt. You try to be a good father and husband and see where it gets you. The only time they film you is when you were bad.

Here is the point. Even when our bad moments are not caught on film, they still hurt others. Even though the scriptures ask us to "keep no record of wrongs," most humans have a long memory. I hope that people will forgive and forget our faults, but I would prefer to live in a way that I don't put them in the position of having to forgive.

I am turning over a new leaf.
I am going to be nicer, more kind, and more gracious.
I am also throwing away that video.

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

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dreams and visions

Do you have dreams for your life? Some people do, some people don't. Some people used to have dreams but gave up on them.

To give up on your dreams is to enter a life of pain, and discouragement. You will always wonder, "what if?" Right now, maybe you are reading this and your eyes are filling with tears. You know exactly what I am talking about.

Every person has to decide if they will settle for a mediocre life, or if they will relentlessly pursue their dreams. It is not that there is anything wrong with you if you don't accomplish great things. It is all a question of potential. Are you aware of something that you were "supposed to do?" To ignore it, is to live beneath your potential. It is to accept a life of comfort instead of pursuing that which you were created for.

It is not too late for you to go to college. It is not too late to write a book. You can go into the mission field.

If you have given up on your dreams, pick them back up. They are right were you left them. God places these things on our hearts for a reason.

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

Friday, July 25, 2008


Ok, now the real truth is out. A former astronaut, Edgar Mitchell a veteran of Apollo 14 claims that there really are aliens and they have visited earth. Interestingly enough, it was difficult to find the news story on the internet, but here it is:,21985,24069951-661,00.html?from=public_rss

What do you do with that? What would that mean?

Anytime this topic comes up, I have always taken a bit of comfort from the lyrics of Larry Norman's song entitled "UFO."

He's an unidentified object
you will see him in the air
He's an unidentified object
you will drop your hands and stare

You will be afraid to tell your neighbors
they might think that it’s not true
But when they open up the morning papers
they will know they’ve seen Him too.

He will come back like He promised

with the price already paid
He will gather up His followers
and take us all away.

He’s an unidentified flying object

He will sweep down from the sky
He’s an unidentified flying object
some will sleep but will not die.

He’s an unidentified flying object
coming back to take you home
He’s an unidentified flying object
He will roll away your stone.

And if there’s life on other planets

then I’m sure that He must know
And He’s been there once already
and has died to save their souls.

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

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Love keeps no record of wrongs

Think of those people that you love.
Now think of all the ways that they have hurt you.
are you thinking?
Actually, you should not be able to do this. Love keeps no record of wrongs. When we love someone else, we forgive them.

This is a complicated issue because other people can hurt us in so many ways, but I did not make this up. You can find it in 1 Corinthians 13. Love keeps no record of wrongs.

There is at least one person out there who feels that they have let me down and hurt me. Here are my words to you: Forget it. It is no big deal. I love you so much more than to let something like this separate us. Don't let it bother you. Let's move on. It is all in the past.

Relationships that do not navigate past difficult waters are pretty shallow. Deep, lasting, loving relationships grow through painful moments.

God, in Christ has forgiven us. Love keeps no record of wrongs.

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

you can't fix everything

Don't you know its true. You just can't fix everything. You can't make everyone happy. You can do your best and you can act with pure intentions, but there are still going to be times when you just can't fix it.

One of the books that I digested in this last month talked about how leaders don't always know where to go, but they have clues. And sometimes, leading means following those clues and just putting one hopeful foot in front of the other.

Last week I played in a softball game. There was a man on third with one out. I am coming up to bat. If I get any kind of a hit, even a fly ball to the outfield, the man on third will score and we will win the game. It is a very tense moment. I hated moments like this when I was in little league, but I have learned as I have grown older, that these are moments that make you truly alive.

I come to the plate and I am not thinking of the pressure. I am thinking of the Gene Hackman quote from the movie "the replacements." "Winners always want the ball when the game is on the line." So, I am glad to come up to the plate. Lets go. I am going to give it my best.

In a very strange twist, I hit a ball that manages to get me out at first base and the runner on third out at home. The inning was over, the game went into extra innings and we lost. I felt badly, but what are you going to do? Good news is that it was only a softball game.

The moral of that story, and going back to the original thought is this: I did the best that I could. It did not turn out well, but I stepped into the box and took my swings. Sometimes that is all that you can do.

You can't fix everything or everyone. Step in, do your best, no one can ask for more than that. Don't lose heart over yesterday's heartaches, tomorrow is coming and we will have other chances at the plate. Just keep doing your best.

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The prodigal son was allowed to come home. Grace.
The rude driver is allowed into the compressed traffic line. Grace.
No record of wrongs is kept. Grace.
Kind words to a troubled soul.
A sack lunch to a homeless person.
Hillcrest ministries.
Prom dresses.
We don't earn it. Grace.

An understanding heart. Grace.
A willingness to forgive. Grace.
Arrows are received.
No retaliation.
Saul becomes Paul.
The young are encouraged.
Strangers are welcomed.
Words of love are shared. Grace.

A child is adopted. Grace.
A reaction is withheld. Grace.
Esau receives Jacob.
Joseph forgives his brothers.
School supplies.
Their first new pair of shoes.
A meal at the Ronald McDonald house.
A hug for the lonely. Grace.

A world created. Grace.
Rain in a dry land. Grace.
The rhythm of the ocean waves.
Stately mountains.
A cross.
The son of God suffers.
My sins are forgiven. Grace.

Somewhere dear friends, there is someone today, who is in need of grace. We have all received it. Let's be sure to give it away.

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

Monday, July 21, 2008


No one meant to hurt your feelings.

Alice's Restaurant

I have many stories from this renewal leave and I need to start telling them.

You can get anything that you want, at Alice's Restaurant.
I ordered a diet coke and sat for an hour and read a book.

This is the place that Arlo Guthrie sang about in the song of the same name. It is, as you can see, in a beautiful place atop the coastal range near LaHonda, California. The camp I stayed at was about 8 miles from here.

One of the things that I have done on this renewal leave is spend time in nature. God speaks through His creation. The heavens declare the glory of God. It is a spiritual discipline to spend time in creation.

I look at this picture and close my eyes, and I am back there again. God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. Take time to see the goodness of God and feel the presence of God in nature.

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

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Church life cycle

The life stages of an organization.
  1. Original Vision
  2. Growth and Building the Organization
  3. Maintenance
  4. Decline
  5. Recognizing Decline
  6. Crisis or Death
What stage is your church in? Are you sure? If your church has reached the stage of maintenance or decline, are you ok with that? What discomfort are you willing to suffer for the greater good of your church? Can your church change if you do not change? What changes are you willing to make to help your church reach its potential?

Spiritually developed people are those who have learned to set aside their personal preferences and comfort for the sake of the mission.

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

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dear Pastor Friend, part 2

Pick up this thread from Wednesday, July 16th.

Dear Pastor Friend,
You have used one of my favorite words to describe me. "Fortunate." You are correct. I tell people that I am the most fortunate pastor that they know. I tell them this because there are great people at our church. They are kind and generous and happy. They are serious about making a difference in the world. They are striving to be better parents, spouses and friends. When they talk about Jesus, many of them cry. They are filled with dreams and passion for life and the church. You are correct. I am the most fortunate pastor.

I may be wrong, and this may be a bit naive, but I have always believed that there are good people in every congregation. I have an idea for you to try. Do a three part sermon series on relationships. I would use these topics.
1. when human relationships are good
2. when human relationships are hard
3. Having a relationship with God.

In fact, I like this idea so much, I may just try it at Woods Chapel.

In week one, tell them about good relationships that you have had. Tell them about those dear moments in your life. Celebrate the times when relationships are good. I think that they will notice if all of your stories are of other places. David and Johnathan come to my mind.

In week two, tell them about your hurts. Tell them about times when relationships drifted away. This is an opportunity to be vulnerable and share some of your personal hurts and loneliness. Believe me, the people in the pew can relate to hurt and loneliness. Encourage them to seek out friends and be a friend. I think that some of your folks will draw close when they see your struggle. If they don't, then another appointment may be in order. Jacob and Esau come to mind.

Week 3, tell them about how a relationship with God can change their life. That we were not created to live for ourselves. I am excited about this, just thinking about it. I think our folks would like a series like this. One of the things that I have learned over the years, is that if I am feeling it, or concerned about it, people in the pew usually are too.

I want to again extend the opportunity for us to visit in person. I wonder if we have done this in the past and I didn't keep the relationship up. If so, I am sorry. Let's try again. Call me.

Whatever you do, do not quit. Where discouragement abounds, grace all the more abounds. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There really is hope for a better time. I so much want to be of help if I can.

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

Friday, July 18, 2008

Humor is a gift from God

Sometimes you just have to laugh. Or cry.

Dog lovers beware. Did you know that dogs are supposed to go to the dentist now? I have owned many dogs in my lifetime, [9 at last count] and none of them ever went to the dentist before. They all lived good lives and yes, they all went to heaven.

So, Lou the dog has bad breath. Dog breath. Bad dog breath. When he is out on a walk, the other dogs go inside. We had to hang a piece of baloney around his neck to get the neighbor dogs to play with him.

So we wondered if he should go to the doggie dentist. When we found out that it was $300, we decided that his breath wasn't that bad. We asked another vet's office about having his teeth cleaned and they would do it for $88 dollars. Yesterday, Lou went to the dentist. Today, he has 14 fewer teeth, but the ones that he has, are really clean. Call him Lou the toothless dog. The vet says that sometimes, all those little teeth don't get used that much, and you put the brushing machine on them, and out they pop.

Evidently dogs from breeders can have bad teeth and Lou has bad teeth. Not as many bad teeth as before, but bad teeth none the less. There really isn't anything to do about this, scratch his back, say nice things to him, let him sit on your lap. They don't make doggie dentures.

On the bright side, Lou is feeling fine and he is eating like a pig. He still chases rabbits in the back yard and barks at anyone who comes into the house. He collected $14 from the tooth fairy last night. That is a lot of money for a dog. He wants a new leash, but I told him we were going to put his new found wealth against his dentist bill.

The moral of the story is this: brush your dog's teeth.

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

Thursday, July 17, 2008


A dear friend asked me to recommend some books. As you know, I have been pouring through a good number of titles during this renewal leave. See post on 6-29 "do you know where I am?" for a complete list of titles that I am trying to digest.

Of the books that I have plowed through so far, here are some that I would highly recommend.

Bill Hybels - Holy Discontent
Invites the reader to find a sense of passion in their life.
this book made me cry.

Tom Bandy-Christian Chaos
Explains that growing churches are beyond organization. When the Holy Spirit is active in a congregation, you just can't draw a diagram of how it all works.

Richardson-Creating a Healthier Church
very powerful book. explains the roles of trust and anxiety in sustaining positive church relationships and culture.

Bill Easum- leadership on the other side.
book about reaching the unchurched. here is a quote......
Page 83 – “Imagine a church so environmentally rich that everyone under its influence is encouraged to reach their God-given potential. That’s the kind of church birthed by leaders on the Other Side."

Bruce Wilkinson-the dream giver
part parable, part encouragement to help people see and fulfill God's dreams for their lives.
this one made me cry too.

Rick Rusaw-Externally Focused Church
why is your church here? if your church left town, would anyone notice besides those who attend on Sunday?
this book cut me to the quick.

Milfred Minatea -shaped By God's Heart
awesome book that asks a church to look at itself and determine if it is in mission or in maintenance mode.

Well, there you go. If you need more info, like publisher and what not, send me an email. I hope any or many of them are a blessing to you.

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

dear pastor friend,

I read and posted your comment on Monday's blog, July 14th, trusting God.

There are several ways to take your comment, but I assume that you are telling me that you feel far away from God and that you feel "empty, oh so empty."

When you are the pastor, it is hard to know who you can tell such things to. I am personally very thankful for my friends in the congregation who listen to me when I am discouraged, but I know that not every pastor has those kinds of people in his or her church.

I want you to know that you are not alone. I have had such times, and any other pastor that is honest with themselves will have to admit that there have been times when they felt so very far away from God. We all know that it is a very painful thing to stand up on Sunday morning when you are supposed to speak for the Lord, but you are empty and hurting inside. Those are terrible moments.

Besides the fact that other ministers stand with you, you yourself mentioned in your comment that God already knows of your situation. Indeed God does know. And God stands by your side to help you in this painful time.

Let me offer some thoughts.

Go spend a couple of hours at the park. Sit in silence. Do not take anything to read. Listen to the wind. Listen to the water. Listen to the trees. Feel the sunshine and feel the air. Relax. Let out your sorrows. Speak to the Lord of your pain. God waits to hear your struggle. Get it all out. Then listen. You will hear his voice.

Get the wheels to slow down. Skip your kids soccer practice. Move the trustees meeting. Get back in touch with your soul.

I want you to know that I will be glad to spend some time with you if it will help. I don't care whether we have agreed on every issue in the past. If I can help you during this time, call my home phone. The number is in the conference journal. I have time for you later today or tomorrow or next week. Just call.

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

when ministers quit

When ministers quit, I almost always feel a sadness. For the church, for the disillusionment that everyone feels, and especially for the grief, pain and suffering that the minister feels.

Being an honest guy, I like to say that Monday, Wednesday and Friday I want to quit. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I have the best job in the world. On Sunday, it doesn't matter how you feel, you just have to get up and do you job. God be with us.

If you are a minister, you know it is true. There are things that happen that make you want to quit. Maybe you are being worked over by a parishioner. Maybe the church can't pay it's bills. Maybe you are comparing yourself to other pastors and become discouraged because it doesn't seem that you are as successful as they have been. You get tired of living in a glass house. You get tired of being judged. You get tired of not being able to make everyone happy. Mostly, I think you grow tired of being expected to inspire everyone at least once per week.

The pressure on a minister is heart and soul pressure. It all boils down to a feeling that you have put your best spiritual stuff on the line and it hasn't been enough. You opened your heart and showed your innermost being, and you met rejection. That hurts. That is why pastors quit.

Every year at Annual Conference, we read the names in the clergy report of those who have taken a leave or surrendered their credentials. Even when it is for a good reason, I always feel sad. Some very bright, talented, called men and women have dropped out of the ministry over the years and it makes me sad.

This year, a friend of mine took a leave of absence. Awesome fellow, great heart. Out. Ouch. Last week I heard of a well known minister of another denomination who suddenly let his friends know that he was leaving the church, and leaving the ministry. Out. Ouch. A friend warned me about taking a renewal leave. He told me that it was during his renewal leave that he decided to leave the pastoral ministry. He is out now. Ouch.

Have you ever wondered what happens to pastors that leave the ministry? Who would hire them? When you see on someone's resume that they used to be a minister, well that scares most people. Employers are afraid that you are going to be judgemental or self-righteous. The sorrow that ministers feel when they are out of the ministry is deep. For the rest of their lives, most that I know of, are haunted by a feeling of failure. God called them, and somehow, they let him down. Let me tell you friends, that is not something that you want to be thinking about when you lay your head on your pillow at night.

When parishioners understand such things, then tend to be more understanding of their pastors. They do nice things for them and plant flowers in their yards.

When I was in seminary, I could not wait to be assigned to my first church. I was so excited, so hopeful. After two years, I was burned out and facing divorce. I was out of the ministry after that for a number of years. I thought that I would not miss being a pastor, but I did. I missed it furiously. I so wanted another chance to be in God's service full time.

Over the years, the experience of being out of the ministry and missing it, has helped me to deal with the ministry blues. I did leave once, and boy did I miss being a pastor.

Now I am on renewal leave and an interesting thing has happened. It has taken three weeks, but I have a feeling that I have not felt for years.

I miss being in ministry.

I miss being in the church. I miss being with all of you that I love so much. I feel like a kid in seminary again, I just can't wait until I am assigned to a church. I am so full of ideas, so full of hope, and so ready to go. I am sure that when I come back, I will drive some of you crazy.

There will be many other good things that come out of renewal leave. But if this were the only one, it has already been worth it. I will remember this time away, and how much my heart desired to return to the church.

We have much work to do together. I can't wait.

PS- if you are a former pastor and would like to return to ministry, I would love to try and help you. Give me a call at your convenience.

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

Monday, July 14, 2008

Trust in God

I woke up this morning with a song in my head, heart. About a year ago, Joy had a friend come to sing at church. If you missed it, he was awesome. He sang the following song.

My Father Watches Over Me

Verse 1
I trust in God wherever I may be
Upon the land or on the rolling sea
For come what may from day to day
My heavenly Father watches over me

I trust in God, I know He cares for me
On mountain bleak or on the stormy sea
Though billows roll (though billows roll)
He keeps my soul (He keeps my soul)
My heavenly Father watches over me

Verse 2
He makes the rose an object of His care
He guides the eagle through the pathless air
And surely He remembers me
My heavenly Father watches over me

I trust in God, I know He cares for me
On mountain bleak or on the stormy sea
Though billows roll (though billows roll)
He keeps my soul (He keeps my soul)
My heavenly Father watches over me

Verse 3
The valley may be dark, the shadows deep
But O the Shepherd guards His wandering sheep
And through the gloom, He’ll lead me home
My heavenly Father watches over me

I trust in God, I know He cares for me
On mountain bleak or on the stormy sea
Though billows roll (though billows roll)
He keeps my soul (He keeps my soul)
My heavenly Father watches over me!

When I was a young man, I was constantly worried and concerned about "how I felt" about my relationship with God. If I felt badly, I was concerned that God was mad at me, or had left me. As I have grown older, these fits of malaise have decreased. I am more trusting. I am more relaxed. I know more about how life works. I know that he will never leave us or forsake us.

If you are facing a problem, or just feel "far away," do not despair. God is with you. Listen for the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and follow them. He has not left you. Your heavenly father is watching over you. Trust in God.

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

Sunday, July 13, 2008

no answer

Do you have problems for which there are no answers? We worry and struggle to find the answer. Sometimes we can, often we cannot. We want everything to fit, to be fixed, to be just right. Sometimes, often, there are no answers. We live in a world filled with struggle and mystery. We can hate that, or grow accustomed to it, or even grow to like it.

In times like this we have to learn to trust God. In fact, are you really trusting him if everything turns out the way that you want it to? Or were you just hoping in circumstances. We can only really depend on God when we have pain, sorrow and struggle.

There are unanswered questions. There is mystery and paradox in this life.

The bird does not sing because the bird has the answer.
The bird sings, because the bird has a song in his heart.

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

Saturday, July 12, 2008

when I am gone......

You know, this blog is just about random things that I think about. This seems random to me, but I was thinking about it today. I have no imminent sense of my demise, nor do I have a death wish. But, if you are around when I die..........

Throw a party. Talk about the good. Talk about the fun times. Name all three left fielders that I have burned. Talk about the funny times. Talk about how much I loved my wife, my kids and all of you. Talk about the times that we cried in church. Talk about how we helped each other through illness. Talk about faith, talk about hope, talk about love.

Play music. Play it loud. Tom Petty. Moody Blues. CCR. Steve Miller Band. REO Speedwagon Beach Boys. Remember. Remember the times that we laughed and cried. Have fun. It has been great. It still is great. It's a joy, it's a treat.

Life. What a ride.

Don't be sad. Remember the awesome moments that I have seen. Sinking a 20 foot putt at the golf tournament this year with my daughter watching. Playing poker at Mike M's house with fruitloops. Three awesome kids. I once rode 120 miles in one day on a bicycle. I ran the 15k Tulsa run. I loved. Oh my, did I love. If you are reading this, I probably love you. I have met and walked this life with the most awesome people.

Have a party. It is good. It is all good. I so look forward to seeing you again so that I can hug your neck.

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

Friday, July 11, 2008

do you worry?

Do you worry when someone is upset with you? I think most people do. Being a pleaser, I would prefer that you not be upset with me. But, as I get older, I am handling it better. You know, you can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you just cannot please all of the people, all of the time.

Here is how I am combating worry. If you are wrong, or if you did wrong, apologize, stop worrying and do better in the future. If you did no wrong, then do not worry if they are upset.

At any rate, what will we gain by feeling badly when someone is upset with you or me? Fix it if you can, try to make it right, but at some point we have to move on. We cannot ruin the rest of our life because someone else cannot get past something. Love them, and get on with life. There is too much good to see and do for us to be weighted down by the rock of dysfunctional worry.

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

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Daneel Gurrola

When I was at the pastor's camp in California, along Wurr Road there is a memorial set up for Daneel Gurrola. She was a young woman who died, I believe in her 30's, I am embarrassed to say that I did not write down her birthdate, only her name and the day she died, June 6th, 2005. There was a bench, a headstone, flowers, ornaments and birthday cards.

Three years after the fact, those who love her still keep watch and tend to this solitary memorial along side a quiet mountain road. Such ongoing care speaks to the dedication of her friends and family, and to the special nature of the young woman.

There is very little information that I could find on the internet about the woman. A grief note posted this brief comment.

"In Loving Memory of Daneel Ann Gurrola
Time was not enough for us but your love will last a lifetime. I will always cherish your love, friendship and your selflessness. You were and will always be my love."

I am tempted to comment on the brevity of life. I think of this often. However, something else strikes me about this story. The love that is on display at this memorial reaches out and grabs you. This memorial is in a small meadow next to the road. Someone cut steps into the dirt embankment with a shovel so that you can get up there to remember her.

So here is my point. The people around us are very precious. Cathy, Alli, Jenny, Scott and all of you readers. You are very precious. We should never take those around us for granted. We should be kind to them. Let's show them our love and appreciation every day that we can. Soon enough, there will be grave stones to visit. Say a kind word today. Hug a neck. The people around you are God's gifts to you.

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

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

a truly kind act

Yesterday, a nice couple from church came over to the house and planted some flowers. Blue Salvia and Periwinkle. They did not do this because I am sick, old or infirmed. They did this simply because they know that I love flowers and things that grow.

They insisted that I not help with the planting. They wanted to do this for me.

Now I have got to tell you, this is a very funny feeling. Someone is doing something nice for me, and I don't deserve it. I am helpless, just there to standby and watch as they pull some weeds and replace them with the flowers. I could have done this for myself, but someone else was doing it for me. It is the strangest feeling. We are so used to helping others. We have been taught to give ourselves away. Grace is often easier to give to another, than to receive for one's self.

Grace. When the yard of your soul was full of weeds, Jesus stopped by to help. What he did, he did alone. For you. You watch it all happen and you cannot believe that someone loves you that much. That is grace. The free gift of God, given with out reservation to each of us through Jesus Christ.

I hope someone plants flowers for you in your yard today. But if they don't, remember that God has planted a cross in your yard. Take some time to consider the meaning of this selfless act.

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

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

the merry go round

I was talking to someone the otherday who described their life like this:

Round and round it goes. Whirling, twirling. Faster and faster. We throw our kids on our family's merry go round and off we go. Spinning, spinning, busy so busy. Even if it ever stops, I think my head will still spin.

Sometimes the merry go round isn't so much fun. Are you too busy? Going round and round? How about a pause. How about a stop. How about a re-evaluation of our families priorities. What are they learning from this merry go round that will help them in 30 years?

Are we missing the chance to give them the things that are really important because we are spending all this time on the merry go round?

Push me will you?
No, I won't. Get off, take a break, let your soul get reconnected to your life purpose.

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

Monday, July 7, 2008

making a difference

Do you ever wonder if you are making a difference? Am I making a difference with my kids, am I making a difference in my work, is my life making a difference?

There are probably few questions that are as painful as wondering if you are making a difference. I think most people wonder from time to time, whether they are.

I want to offer a few thoughts. Making a difference is usually not measured by some grandiose accomplishment. It is usually not measured with fanfare and accolades. Making a difference usually happens one person, one moment at a time. When we encounter another person, it is a chance for us to make a difference. They may never say thanks, they may never tell you how wonderful you are, but you still made a difference.

Doing the right things is reward enough. To know that you cared about someoone, to know that you acted in faith, in love, to know that instead of being negative and dragging someone down, you were a dispenser of grace. If you did this, you made a difference.

You may never have a statue erected in your honor, but you will have jewels in your crown. Just stay after it. Doing the right things is an ongoing battle of a good heart to act with purpose in a confusing world. One sign of truly successful people is that they just keep getting up in the morning and putting one hopeful foot in front of the other in pursuit of the good.

You are making a difference. Keep going.

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

Sunday, July 6, 2008


I just spent a week in some of God's most beautiful country. Truly awe inspiring. To walk among the redwoods is an amazing thing.

It was a long flight home. Fortunately there were open seats on the plane, so when the kid was kicking my seat and whining to his momma, I was able to move to a more quiet area.

The plane arrived early. I was waiting at the baggage claim, but I had one eye out for that good looking wife. Where is she. Try not to act too excited. Where is she. Where is she. Ah. I see her. I am packed in by a crowd around the baggage claim, but I leave my hard fought spot to embrace my wife. I keep my head down. I am crying. We hug. We hug for a long time. Seems like longer than a week. It is good to be home.


Home is not in the redwoods. Home is not on the beach. Home is the place where you are loved. Wherever that is. That is your home. Even if you live alone, you know where your friends are.

You are always at home at the Woods Chapel Church. Someone there loves you. God does. I do. You are awesome. You belong here. We are family. It is Sunday, see you in church. Welcome home.

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

Saturday, July 5, 2008

4th of July

The 4th of July should be spent with people that you love. It is a day that is marked on my mental calendar every year of my life. How many fourth of July's do I remember? All of them.

Last night, I spent the first one alone, that I can remember. Redwood City had a nice show. About like at Royals stadium on fireworks night.

When I was a kid, my parents told me that all of the fireworks were for my birthday. Now the years go by, and I remember every town I lived in and every fireworks show that we saw.
I stood last night with 100 people in silence, plus a few quiet ooos and ahhhs. We humans are mesmerized by fireworks.
Well, let's take a moment to thank God for our country and for our families. Later today, I am flying home.
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, July 4, 2008

the city

Yesterday I visited the city.

Fog. Cold. In July yet. Hard to find a place to park. A melting pot. Every size, shape, and race of people, all mixed together. Different languages. Chinese, Russian, Spanish, German. I tried to speak to all of them in English. I do need to get smarter.

The hum of an electric bus.

Walking. Walking more.

Ask someone who looks like they know. Some are friendly, some keep to themselves.

The hum of another electric bus.

Fisherman’s wharf. Very busy. More touristy than I remember. Where is my wife? How did I get here by myself? I am ready to come home.

A bench. Time to read. Great place to read.

A boat ride on the bay. Cold. Foggy. Wet.

Cable cars.
Cable car line.
Cable car ride.
the smell of wooden brakes burning...
Fun. Let’s do it again.
Sorry, another time.

The hum of another electric bus.

Is the car still where I left it?
Drive back to the camp.

Stop and take pictures of the beach.
Call Bruce.

Last night at the camp.
I hope I am smarter.

Many wonderful things I have seen today. There is so much beauty, so much good, and so much of it is back home in Kansas City.

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

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Sometimes I am asked why we baptize children. For some reason I feel the need to comment on this today.

First of all, we tell our children what they can wear, where they will go to school, and when to come home. We decide where they will live, what is on the dinner table and if they get to have a friend spend the night. Why shouldn't parents decide that their children will be raised as Christians?

The most important part of baptism is not "our decision." The most important part of baptism, as in any encounter with God, is God's action. God always plays the principle role in the drama of rescue.

Abraham decided that his entire clan would pick up and follow this God to a new land. They didn't take a vote. Examples in the New Testament make it clear that the head of the house made spiritual decisions for the entire family. Read about the Philippian jailer in Acts 16. It is a clear implication in this story that his children were baptized, along with the rest of his house.

Those who insist that children should not be baptized until they are older, can show no scriptural evidence of this ever happening. There are no recorded incidents of children who were born to believers being brought for baptism at some age of accountability. That idea makes it sound like our faith is all about what we decide. Remember, God plays the principle role in the drama of rescue. The fawn may think that it is all grown up, making decisions and being in charge, but you know that the momma deer is close by, guiding, directing and protecting.

For more on this topic click on this link

Now since I mentioned a momma and a baby deer, ............I wanted to share this picture with you that I took yesterday.

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

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

when your friends don't believe

On June 24th I posted some thoughts on winning people to Jesus Christ. Anonymous commented as follows:

"This has been a hot topic in our household. We have friends who are not Christians and have actually said negative things about us "giving in to organized religion". I have tried to describe to them how awesome our church is and how we are a church of grace and how the church is involved in the community and incredible mission work. It doesn't seem to matter. They are a family in such need of a church like ours, but they refuse to listen or consider it an option. Where do we go from here? We continue to pray for them, but each time we see them they are always struggling. Their negativity is almost unbearable."

First of all, I am fine with all of you commenting anonymously. I would probably do the same. I trust that since this comment was offered up for all on 6-24, it is ok for me to share it again and comment on it, because the pain of this story has been on my heart.

First let me say that I am glad that you have non-Christian friends. If Christians only hang around with other Christians, we will never win anyone to Jesus.

As I consider your comment, I feel your pain. I think most of us have had friends, people that we loved, that did not love the church and did not understand our commitment to it. 80% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. Half of them claim to attend church. What of the other half? They are usually down on "organized religion." Often these folks feel this way because they have been hurt by a church, a staff member, or a well meaning Christian that just drove them crazy.

The moral of the story is this. Churches need to stop hurting people. Staff people need to stop hurting people [I don’t think our staff hurts people.] Most of all, well meaning, judgemental Christians need to stop hurting people. I wonder what Jesus will say to judgemental Christians as they stand in front of the pearly gates………….”Welcome Friend, You would have brought many with you to heaven, but you hurt them too badly. I now give to you, what you were unable to give to them in life........ Grace....... Enter into the joy of the lord.”

Let me offer some suggestions to you about how to best reach your neighbors. Accept them. Love them. Model the love of God for them. Let them see that there is something real in your life and in your home. Wait for them to bring it up. They have been hurt too badly for you to work on them right now. When they are ready to talk, be positive. Tell them that you are sorry if the church has hurt them in the past. Tell them that at our church we really try to focus on the joy, the good, the grace, and the spiritual part of following Jesus Christ.

Offer to them, that I would be glad to visit with them, in your home, at their convenience, anytime.

Just give them love, and give them space. The very things that the church should have given them in the first place, they need now, more than ever.

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

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

California Afternoon Drive

California Afternoon Drive

Driving in the coastal foothills
Sunglasses on
Brand new mustang
Old time rock and roll
California sun
Palms and pines
Cool crisp air
Wide-open road
The joy of being 50

I remember a day……..

Driving in the coastal foothills
Hard contacts in
63-Ford Galaxie
am radio
The beach boys were still boys
California sun
Palms and pines
Cool crisp air
Wide-open road
The world by the tail
The excitement of youth
The confusion of youth

I remember when I was a teen
And drove these roads.
It was such a happy time.
Or was it?
That was a long time ago
Was that really me?
What happened?
Where did the time go?

Later today
Redwood trees
A hike in the woods
Reading Bob and Sue's books
Talking with pastors
Getting smarter
California sun
The cool crisp air
Its ok being me at 50.

Chapter two.
I drive to the ocean
Wow. Amazing. Incredible.
I stop at the lighthouses and take pictures.
I park on the pier.
I grew up here.
Any Saturday that I wanted, for 7 years.
I walk the boardwalk.
I find a place on the beach.
I sit for an hour in the sand and read.
I used to run and play in these waves
Now, listening to them is enough.
I wonder about my old life.
It was so long ago
Over 30 years.
I miss my parents.
What would have happened if I had stayed here?
I am reading a book about dreams.
What were my dreams like when I lived here?
Not good.
What dreams has God given me since then?
A hundred fold. No, a million fold.
You can’t go back.
It is just never the same.
You can visit, but you can’t go back.

What are your dreams?
Are you pursuing them?
It glorifies God when we discover his dreams for us and then set our lives to accomplishing them.

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