Sunday, August 31, 2008


Listening. We are not as good at it as we should be. A wise man once told me, "you're talking when you should be listening."

This is the key reason that we do not grow spiritually. We get filled with knowledge that we do not apply to our lives. We foolishly and smugly decide that we have arrived. We come up with all of the "answers" before we understand the questions. In fact, we never understand the questions quite as much as we think we do.

My Dad used to say, "the older I get, the less I know." Listening to God and to one another is so important. We don't know near as much as we think we do, and as soon as we figure that out, things start to get better.

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

Saturday, August 30, 2008

we are responsible

"The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives" William James

When we focus on circumstances, we have something to blame. We are upset and angry. We become a pile of grievances. One of the saddest things about this approach to life is that when we act this way we are not taking responsibility for something we are responsible for....our attitude and outlook.

When we look within our soul and communicate with God, we enter a world that is beyond circumstances. We overcome difficulty. We become the spiritual force that we were created by God to be. Seek ye first the kingdom of God.

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

Friday, August 29, 2008

drop your nets

This morning I remember the story of Jesus calling his disciples. "Put down your nets, come and follow me."

I see Jesus today, standing next to me, next to you asking us to do the same thing. Jeff, [put your name in here] "put down your nets, come and follow me."

How do I feel when Jesus speaks to me? What do I think about his request? Do I have any idea what his request really means? There is something about the way that he speaks to me. I am compelled to follow. Everything will work out.

If I put down my nets today, what are they? What are the normal common things of life that I must leave behind in order to follow him? I think about that for a few minutes. What are your nets?

The nets of life can keep us entangled in un-mission. Maybe the reason that so few people follow him to the place that he calls, is because they are unwilling to lay down their nets. Let's not be among them. Our nets may be comfortable, they may be all we have ever known, but lets lay them down, lets follow Jesus and find out where he is going and what he is all about.

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

Thursday, August 28, 2008

If we do not say goodbye

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

If I should die suddenly, we will not have any time to say our goodbyes. Somehow when this happens, when I lose someone without being able to say goodbye, I always feel shorted. I wish I could have told them how much I loved them.

If I should die suddenly, don't worry about the goodbye. We don't measure our life together by the last thing that we said to each other or how long ago it was that we saw one another. We measure our life together by the daily celebration of knowing one another. So today, let me say it, I love you. I'm so thankful for every moment that we have together. I am rich because I know you, I am full because you are in my life. Thank you.

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

the dancing gene

Yes, once again I have the dancing gene. I was on the mega-tron screen at Royal's stadium the other night. Dancing is good, even if it embarrasses your kids.

Dancing is holy. Dancing is spiritual. David danced before the Lord. 2 Sam 6.

Keep in mind, if you are grousing around about something, if your head is down and you are unhappy, while you are carrying a grudge, others are out dancing.

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the slippery slope

Dear Friend,

This is a slippery slope. I know you don't see it, but there is quicksand ahead. There are unseen pitfalls along the way. Your feet are already stuck in the miry clay. There is so much hurt and devastation that is going to be unleashed. Nothing will be the same if you go through this wormhole.

I know you want out. Get out. Just do it. Turn the ship around.

I know that things look hopeless. Jesus can help. This is not a convenient saying. I am telling you that you can rely on him to find the strengh to turn your life around. He is the great forgiver and the great restorer. The spiritual nature of the Christian faith is real and you can grab ahold of it now and find the strength that you need. One hundred friends stand at the ready to help you. Say the word, pick up the phone. We will come and help you. You have my number.

Monday, August 25, 2008

one sentence

We may do some advertising in the community, inviting people to our church. I am asking for your help. If you could write one sentence about your church, what would you want to say to your neighbors that might help them want to visit? Your sentence might start like:

I go to my church because....
Our church has......
Something special about our church is........

I think this is a good exercise in thinking about the good stuff at Woods Chapel. Just finish the sentence if you like, and you may find your words in print. Please do not include nice things about the preacher, they won't make the card. I appreciate your help with this.

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

Sunday, August 24, 2008

being a Christian is:

Being a Christian is giving all that you know of yourself, to all that you know of God. That is a Bob Tuttle-ism.

We should be growing in our understanding of ourselves, and of God. If that is true, then the Christian life is never static, but always changing and growing.

There are no formulas or easy answers, just a call for us to keep on the path of commitment and dedication. We never arrive, we are always in pursuit of God's fullness.

That is life as it is meant to be lived. With purpose, with adventure. Seeking God, humbling one's self. The steward is always submitted to the master, looking for ways to please him and celebrate life. It is good.

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

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Who is on your mind? Who in your life needs your attention? Who do you know that needs a boost? Who is it that you haven’t talked to in a while that you know would love to hear from you? Who is the person(s) that you always look forward to seeing? Are you that person to someone? You can be.

Encouragement is a powerful tool. For some people it is their greatest gift.

Romans 12: 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to hisfaith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

We can help change the direction of someone’s life with the right words and actions. We all can benefit from encouraging words and actions that others direct our way. Some of us have children who have headed back to school which can be a challenging environment. Some of us are struggling in this economy to make ends meet, to keep a job, to find a job. Others have struggles with relationships and illness………..the list goes on and on. We as Christians can minister to those people through our words and actions.

It may not be your strongest gift and it may be out of your comfort zone, but I promise you the rewards of such actions are two-fold. We were not made to go it alone. God asks us to be there for each other.

Hebrews 3:13But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today………………..

So the challenge of today and every day from here on is to be there for someone….for many, and help them see things in a better way.

Lion’s Den Man

Friday, August 22, 2008


Self-less-ness. Those rare moments when we do something for another, and expect nothing in return. They are truly glorious and joyful moments, but unfortunately, they don't come as often as we think.

You gave someone a gift. Self-less? Not if you expect a thank you. Not if you expect to be appreciated. Not if you expect something in return.

The self is sneaky. It has been a part of our lives for so long, it just hangs around and we don't even see it. I sometimes sneak up behind people at the office and when they see me right behind them, they are startled. I don't think we are surprised or startled by the self. It is so much a part of us that we don't even smell ourselves being oriented towards the self.

Jesus said, 24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? Luke 9:24-25 NIV

Imagine a day without the self. image giving gifts and expecting nothing in return. Imagine acts of kindness with absolutely no strings attached. I buy your lunch and I don't care if you say thank you, or if you ever reciprocate. I care for my children or my wife with no expectations that they will be nice back to me. I never make anyone feel guilty for not meeting my personal needs. I am simply filled with the joy of giving and caring in the name of Jesus Christ.

When I think of the possibility of self-less action, I am motivated for the day. Let's go. Let's go and truly serve. Nothing in this for me except the joy of giving and caring, with no strings attached. That sounds good. Clean. Whole. Holy.

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

Thursday, August 21, 2008

when the Spirit meets my preference

I prefer for things to stay the same. I prefer not to be challenged. I prefer to have things be as easy and convenient for me as possible.

Then I hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. Quietly, calmly inviting me to listen. Reaching past my brain and into my soul. Washing away my excuses and my reservations. Calling me to take up the cross. Inviting me to hear the call.

When the Spirit meets my preference, my preference melts away. Those who find the remarkable work of the Lord have learned to put their personal comfort behind the call of the mission.

It's a beautiful day in God's world. When we want our own way, we find frustration. No matter what we do, there is always something wrong. When we give up trying to control the outcome of our lives, we are open to the Spirit. When we stop trying to make it turn out so that it is good for me, we can begin to put our trust in God and watch His purpose unfold. If you want to see the beauty of the day, let go of your preference and listen for the Holy Spirit.

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


How do you spell cooperation? Andy Bryan wrote a nice article in the conference paper. The theme was "how you can tell if a church is United Methodist." One of the things that he mentioned as a mark of a United Methodist church is that they cooperate with each other. Well, they sure should.

I called Andy and talked to him. Isn't it sad that we even have to mention the idea of cooperation as something that churches should be doing. It is a reminder that not all Churches and not all pastors are marked by a spirit of cooperation.

We should be. We are all on the same team. We are all going to the same place. We are brothers and sisters.

Jeremy I want your church to do well. To grow. To double. I want Aldersgate and First [both of them] and Christ and St. Paul's and St. Peter's and all the churches to grow. We are all in this together. How can we help one another. Let the competition end. Let cooperation reign.

I am so glad to know other pastors. God bless you. let your church grow and win people to Jesus. Be bigger than Rick Warren's church, I don't care. Win folks, as many as you can. How can I help? Let's cooperate.

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

everything is ok

Today I feel that the world is crashing in. Circumstances are loading up.

My wife's travel schedule has increased and she is gone even more than before.

I saw my son off to his first day of school today. This is the last "first day of school" for our family. Next year, they are all in college.

My daughter wrecked her car.

People that I care about are in trouble.

Sometimes life just piles on. Can you relate? What do you do. Cry. Yes, crying is good. Needful. But after that, what do you do?

Dave talked about perseverance at the men's group today. When times are tough, you persevere. The word perseverance has no meaning unless there are challenges in your life. You persevere. You put one hopeful foot in front of the other. You stay the course and make it to the other side. You can't see the other side, but it is still there.

You remind yourself that everything is ok. Everything really is ok, you know. Marriages survive a spouse travelling. Mine certainly will. People learn to be ok by themselves. I will. Wrecked cars have been repaired. This one will be. Other parents have survived the empty nest. We will. Many people have persevered trouble. These people will. Everything is ok. It's just life. That's what it is. It's ok. In fact, its good. Pain, struggle and all, it is still good. having the opportunity to tell you this, and tell myself this, has made me feel better. I see the clouds parting. Hey, the sun did come up today. Everything is ok.

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

Monday, August 18, 2008

mind games

Mind games. Those things that I get to worrying about and a little dance begins in my brain. All of us have these things. Things that you are trying to figure out. Things that you are trying to get your mind around.

Here are some of mine: Getting my mind around my wife travelling more than she already does. Getting my mind around raising children, it's a bit late for me to be thinking about this. Getting my mind around how old the kids are. Next year, all three of them will be in college. Getting my mind around mandatory retirement from softball. Getting my mind around people that don't like me. Getting my mind around helping the church move into it's future.

That is a lot for one brain to be working on.

What are you working on? Your list is probably as long or even longer.

What do you do to work on such stuff? It is important to keep our eyes off of the circumstances and worry, and keep our eyes on trusting God. When we can keep focused on God's presence, we can see the good and enjoy the day. Sometimes, you have to just keep pointed in the right direction and put one hopeful foot in front of the other. It will all work out. Even if it doesn't, and I carry concerns to my grave, there is no point in spending life thinking about the worries.

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

Sunday, August 17, 2008

That ain't love

I have been thinking about a line from last week's sermon: "If I want something from you, it's not love."

Interestingly enough, I was listening to some music and the REO Speedwagon song came on titled, "that ain't love." Here are some of the lyrics to the song.

You tell me what you think I'm feelin'
You know why I do what I do
Why should you listen to a word I'm sayin
'When it's already so clear to you

That ain't love, I believe you've got the wrong emotion
That ain't love, at least it doesn't feel like love to me
As long as I say what you wanna hear
Do what you wanna do, be who you want me to be
You think that's love, well baby that ain't love to me

We've got to talk it over sometime
These feelings won't just disappear
I'm just gonna keep telling you what's on my mind
Even if it's not what you wanna hear

that ain't love, I believe you've got the wrong emotion
That ain't love, at least it doesn't feel like love to me
As long as I say what you wanna hear
Do what you wanna do, be who you want me to be
You think that's love, well baby that ain't love to me

You keep tellin' me
You know a place where your life would be better
You're makin' plans long-range
But I don't know how you expect to get there
When you refuse to change -

Oooh baby - that ain't love, I believe you've got the wrong emotion
No baby, that ain't love, at least it doesn't feel like love to me
As long as I say what you wanna hear
Do what you wanna do, be who you want me to be
You think that's love, well baby that ain't love to me

So, love is on my mind. What is it? We think we are so smart. We think we know about love, but most of our love is so self serving. What happens to our love when someone challenges us? What happens to our love when things don't go our way? Where does our love go? Somehow, real love is not disturbed by such things. It lives beyond circumstances, it lives beyond whether or not you like me. It is powerful in ways that are hard to describe. True love enters the worst of situations and brings healing. True love is not the love that humans speak of, true love that Christians should pursue is as big as the heart of God.

The grinch's heart grew. Three times larger as I recall. That is what I want. Somehow that sounds alot like love to me. Let's keep chasing it. We are gonna get there.

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

Saturday, August 16, 2008

judging others

When people are judged it is very painful. Painful for them of course, but also painful for the community because the community is now focused on the negative instead of being focused on the good or the joy in life.

There are many reasons why we should not judge others. Jesus warns against it in Mt. 7. I was recently reminded of another reason. Here it is: you just don't have any idea where a person is coming from or where they have been.

Here is a story from my youth. I was 11 years old, so give me a break. It was 1968 and Jackie Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis. I asked my mother, "why would a nice, pretty lady marry an old rich dude?" "Did she need his money?" My mother answered with this, "you know son, after everything that Jackie Kennedy has been through, we have no right to judge her decisions." I didn't understand. I asked my mom, "what has she been through?" Mom said, "well, just imagine what happens to your heart and life when you are in a car with your husband and he is shot in the head." Mom went on to be a bit more graphic, and she made her point. Here is a woman who had experienced the incredibly painful side of life. Who was I to pick at her now?

The next time you see someone do something that you wonder about, ask yourself, "do I really know anything about what makes them tick?" Maybe they have been hurt. Maybe they were abused. Maybe they have a sick kid. If we knew how wounded some people are by life, we would probably be a bit more kind to them.

Also, you know, we just have to focus on the good. Life is too short to be stuck on what is wrong with other people. There is plenty of good, plenty to celebrate. Let's spend our time looking for that.

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

Friday, August 15, 2008


I am sorry, but I hate squirrels. I used to think they were cute. That is before they started eating holes in our house. Now, If they have a nest in a tree on our property, I get a ladder and a stick and knock it apart until it all comes down. I am a bad shot, but if I get a chance.........

Well, they just won't get the message. They keep coming back. They keep hanging in my yard. They keep building nests in my trees. I have often thought "they just aren't very smart." But, something else occurred to me yesterday..... They are just trying to live. They are just doing what they do. Surviving, scrapping, getting by, any way that they can.

Sometimes I think we humans feel like that too. "No great answers, no great directions, just getting by." Surviving. Doing what we must do to keep going. Hoping that around the next corner we will find some morsel of meaning and purpose.

When I start to feel this way, I am so thankful that I am a Christian. Being a follower of Jesus provides us with something amazing: hope. Hope has an uncanny ability to lift our spirits, to give us direction, to make everything ok. Faith, hope and love abide in our hearts as gifts from God. Let's remind ourselves of this when we get discouraged.

Hope: I hope the squirrels leave my yard.

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

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Learning from failure

Yesterday, Alli wrecked her car. Traffic was slowing down on I-70 and she didn't notice or was a bit too close. The result was that she met the driver in front of her and shortly thereafter, a tow truck driver and a policeman. The car will recover, new hood, new radiator and grill. No one was hurt. That is good.

Although I have talked to my kids 1,000 times about following too closely, all three of them have now hit someone from behind. Sometimes that is the only way that they will learn. They won't listen to Dad, but maybe now they will remember the wreck and back off a bit.

We can learn from our failures. I tell our staff that I don't want us to learn from failures. I want us to avoid failures and make good decisions. But, if we do fail, and we all do, there is always something to learn if we are willing.

Maybe there is something in your life that has not gone well. Learn from it. If there is any joy to come out of difficulty, it is that we choose to grow from it and do better the next time around.

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Change. Changed lives. It's all about the change that God can make in your life by the Holy Spirit. Here I am at 6am, wondering what to write about. Then I read Dave's comment from Monday's post. Now I am sitting here at 6am with tears in my eyes.

I thank God for every life that has been changed at our church. For every marriage saved, for every youth that has grown up here and "got it." I thank God for men and women who are pursuing grace, who are seeking to be the best, the most kind person that they can be.

Mostly, as Dave mentions, I am thankful for the Holy Spirit, who reaches into our lives and touches us. John Wesley talked about grace instead of the Holy Spirit. Prevenient grace is the grace that is at work in us, even before we are aware of God. Justifying grace converts us. Sanctifying grace makes us sweeter. Whatever you call it, it is good. God is good and His mercy endures forever.

I thank all of you for listening to the voice of the Lord and pursuing a life that is leaning on Him.

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

what do you do with this?

First of all, you need to read the comments from yesterday's post.

Now from the category of: what do you do with this?

Two weeks ago I had a flat tire. Broken valve stem. It happens. Fortunately, I made it home and was able to resolve the problem without much difficulty. Sunday on the way to Smithville I had another flat. About a mile from 23rd Street I had to pull off on I-70 and fix a flat. A friend was with me. The donut spare was almost flat so we puttered on the side of the freeway to the 23rd Street exit, found a gas station and aired up.

We continued the drive to Smithville on 3 tires and a little donut spare. We were going to the Smithville UMC to make a presentation. When we got out of the car, my friend noticed that the other front tire was almost flat. Hmm. Three flat tires in two weeks.

After the meeting was over, some of the guys from the Smithville church helped us get one of the flat tires fixed so that we could go home. Interestingly enough, both of the flats on Sunday were also broken, cracked valve stems. 3 flat tires, all by cracked valve stems in 2 weeks.

What do you do with that?

Well, the first thing that I do is wonder if I have an enemy. Is someone vandalizing the car? Hmm.... I think about this. Do I have any enemies? I can't think of it. I can't imagine it. Maybe the stems were old or bad and all went out at the same time? Maybe it was vandalism, but random, not directed at me.

Well, now I have a ruined tire and a ruined wheel. I guess it could be worse. There were some good things that came out of this. {there is always some good if we are willing to see it.}

Good things from this story:
1. My friend and I responded to the trauma in a very matter of fact manner. We were very patient and reasonable even though we were changing a tire on the side of I-70 in dress clothes.
2. My friend's wife drove all the way to Smithville to rescue us if needed. Nice lady.
3. Nice men from the church spent 90 minutes with us after the meeting, helping us with the tires. They were great guys and clearly have very generous hearts.
4. It is just a car. It is just tires. No one was hurt and there was no long term damage. Hopefully, it is all over now.

But I think about all of this, and it is a mystery. I will choose to focus on the good things that came from the incident, and just let the origin of the problem remain a mystery. There are some things in life that we are just not going to figure out.

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

Monday, August 11, 2008

the baptism of Inky-Lynn

Yesterday, right after church, at 12:15, about 50 people witnessed the baptism of Inky-Lynn in front of the cross, outside on the east side of the building.

The gospel choir sang a couple of songs, the preacher prayed, and Lynn gave her testimony. Then she knelt down in front of the cross and was baptized by pouring. Three pitchers of water, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. It was an awesome moment. During her testimony, I could hear people openly sobbing. I was one of them. Praise God for his ability to reach people.

Here is my question for you today. If asked, could you give a coherent, short explanation of why you are a Christian or how you became a Christian? It is a very important thing for us to be able to do. To be able give answer of our faith when someone asks. I think it would be an important exercise for all of us to work on telling the story of how we became a Christian or why we are a Christian. Maybe you can write down your story in a few paragraphs and post it as a comment to this blog.

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

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Do not push

Do not push me. Do not challenge me. I do not want to grow. I do not want to learn. I cannot eat green eggs and ham. I will not do it. If you ask me to change, I will find another church.
Hmmm........ever thought like this? We will never become the person God wants us to be, we will never become the church that God wants us to be until we are ready to grow past our current comfort zone.

Spiritually developed people are not measured by the number of times they are in church in a given year. Nor are they measured by the spiritual groups that they are involved in. Nor by the amount of money that they give to the church. Spiritually developed people are those who are willing to set aside their personal preference and comfort for the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ.
The truth of who we are and what God calls us to be is not always easy, pleasant, or what we want to hear, but it is always good stuff. Listening to the hard things is always what takes us into God's purpose.
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Well, I am writing about this again. The blog post on 5-28 is actually a mini version of last Sunday's sermon.

Last Sunday was my first Sunday back after renewal leave. I felt good about the sermon, but not particularly excited. Seemed like an important topic that was not that inspirational.

Well, I have received more calls and comments over last Sunday's sermon and the topic of friendship than maybe any other in a very long time. It seems that having friends is far more critical than we realize. Being connected to people feeds our soul and our general sense of well being. Being disconnected or rejected is a hurt that is constantly on the mind.
I have talked to several hurting people this week.

One particularly interesting discussion centered around the importance of our efforts in relationships and the self-fulfilling nature of our behavior. If we are unhappy, turned in, and complaining, then that feeds on itself and others are not interested. If we are happy, outgoing and joyful, people pick up on that too. I know of one person who has made a decision to stop being Eore [Winnie the Pooh's donkey] and be a positive person.

See the good. Focus on the good. There is plenty of bad and there are plenty that will focus on it. Do you want to spend your time with them? Of course not. Positive, joyful people have better marriages and more friends. If a man would have friends, he must show himself to be friendly.

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

Friday, August 8, 2008

you never comment

You told me that you read this blog, but never comment. Well, let me take a moment to say a few things about you.

When the market is up, everyone loves you. When the market is down, you suffer. I want you to know that I love you all the time. You used to be a Possum. Now you are not. You have a great family with a caboodle of kids. You help connect people to our church. Awesome.

I wish I could tell everyone how much I love them. Today, I am telling you. I think you are awesome. Life is good. It is good. It is all good. I am blessed to know you.

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

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lou the rabbit killer

Well, it happens about every year. Some low i.q. rabbit makes a burrow in our back yard. Inevitably, the rabbit has little rabbits. I think Lou the dog waits until they come out of their hole and run around. Then he catches them, chews them up, and throws them into the air. He is always very happy with himself when he has rabbit blood on his little schnauzer chin.

Yesterday was his day. I was watering flowers about 7pm and I heard the squeaking of little animals. I called for Scott to come out. Scott and Lou are good friends. I wanted my son to see what a killer his dog is. Poor Scott, he is heartsick over the chewed in half rabbits. Half alive, sure to die, he picks them up and disposes of them. He has the feeling that everyone has when you have to put one of God's little critters out of their misery.

I guess even with losing 14 teeth a few weeks ago, Lou can still control his territory. I want to know why he eats rabbits but likes the cats. He lets cats share his pillow. This is not right. When is he going to turn on the cats? I should be so lucky. Maybe if I put long, floppy ears on them.........
It is an unfortunate lesson of life that "only the strong survive." There is a food chain and it is hard to grow accustomed to one of God's creation eating another. God's world is fearfully and wonderfully made. I stand in awe of the mystery of how it all works.

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

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Giving Thanks for People

Do you ever find yourself in a conversation with someone and another person comes up? Just the mention of their name brings a sense of joy and appreciation to the discussion.

These are great people and we all know them. They have a character and a way about them that is just a blessing to everyone they meet.

For all of the people that we know that can be annoying, we should really stop and give thanks for the great people that we know. What a tremendous gift from God it is to know such folks. I know many many wonderful people and I thank God for the opportunity of having them in my life.

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

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

If your church was gone

If your church was gone, would anyone notice besides the members? Is your church having an impact on anyone besides those who attend there?

The strength of a church is not measured by the number of people in the pews or the amount of money that comes in on Sunday. The strength of a church is measured by the difference that it is making in the community around it.

It is not enough for us to learn about Jesus. That alone is self serving. Jesus looked for people who would become the Good Samaritan.

Is your life impacting the poor? Is your church reaching the needy? The message of God's forgiving love is not carried on words alone. It is often most carried by the hands and feet of those who are bringing a cup of cold water in his name.

I am sure that your family will be at your funeral. Wouldn't it be nice if there were another 100 people in attendance who stood up one after the other at your funeral and said things like this:
"I was hungry and he fed me"
"I was naked and she clothed me."
"I needed a place to stay and he helped me."
"I was thirsty and she gave me a drink."

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

Monday, August 4, 2008


Where will we put the next 300 people that want to attend our church?
Are we done?

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

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Daneel Gurrola- the rest of the story

On July 10th, I wrote a post about a memorial that I saw when I was at pastor's camp this summer. Here is the original post from July 10th.

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.

That is the original post. Now, I have to tell you an amazing thing. Daneel's family and friends, including her fiancee, found my blog post and have sent me more information on her. Here is the rest of the story as shared by her fiancee:

Dear Jeff,

Thank you for the kind words regarding the attention and love shown in the care of Daneel's Memorial site. I think as you read further you will understand why I and others find it an honor to care for her in death as she cared for us in life. Many times as I have passed by the site I have seen people sitting on the bench that Daneel and I used to sit on and wonder if they are hikers who had found a quiet place to rest or one of the many friends that Daneel had made during her much too short life.

In 2003, at the age of 26, Daneel was diagnosed with Cancer. It was one of those mysteries in life. She did not smoke or drink. She ate healthy and was physically active. She underwent 2 major surgeries and numerous Chemo treatments. After 2 years of fighting, she went into Hospice and passed away on June 6, 2005, 2 months after her 29th birthday.

Daneel's adult life was spent working with children. During the school year, she worked as the camp nurse at various Outdoor Education camps in the area. In the summer, she worked as the park naturalist at Memorial Park where she would teach campers young and old about nature and the environment. She was known to hundreds of children and adults by the nature name that she had adopted: Possum. I remember many times going shopping with her in the Bay Area and hearing a child call Possum! Possum! And run up to her and tell her all about what had been going on in their lives since she last saw them at the Outdoor Ed. Camp or Memorial Park. Most of these children had only met her once or twice in their lifetime, but the impression that she had made on them was as clear as the love they showed for her.

In our community, Daneel served with me on the Loma Mar Volunteer Fire Department and on the Loma Mar Disaster Preparedness Committee. She was an EMT and Firefighter as well as our Easter Bunny during our annual egg hunt and Smokey the Bear in local parades. She obtained her CPR/First Aid Instructors card through the Red Cross and trained anyone who was interested at no charge. She volunteered her time at these classes and when money was offered, she would hand them our Fire Departments donation jar. Daneel was active on the Fire Department even while undergoing Chemo. In one instance, she responded to a medical call in the middle of the night, having earlier that day undergone Chemo herself. She told me that she knew that she may not be physically strong enough to help but that she had to do what she could for our neighbor.

Daneel also volunteered in Hawaii, watching over and protecting, new turtle hatchlings on the beaches. I have many photos of her helping them get to the water and safety.

Daneel attended UCSC until her illness made it impossible. She wanted more than anything to become a social worker and work with women and children as her career. Daneel's life was not spent in personal pursuits or monetary gain, rather, it was spent helping and improving the lives of others. She did not have a PHD, a fancy car or an expensive home but she had an abundance of love, respect and selflessness.

The site that you stumbled across was chosen by Daneel as I sat with her in Hospice. This is the field that we use at Easter for our egg hunt. It is the field where the youngest egg hunters go and the field where Daneel was the Easter Bunny.

I will close this note with a saying that Daneel loved so much:“Live Well”, “Laugh Often”, “Love Much”
So, now you know a little bit more of the story of this wonderful woman and those who loved her. What do we do with this?

I guess I want to say to her friends and family, thank you for sharing, and thank you for loving. If you are ever in Kansas City, please look me/us up, we would love to meet you and hug you. And conversely, any of you who have the opportunity to go to Northern California, try to take the time to stop by and visit this memorial. Give thanks for Daneel's life and pray for those who knew her and miss her so. I for one, will be going back.

I would also remind the readers of this blog..............

1. When you hear of the suffering or death of someone far away that you do not know, be well assured, that someone knows them and someone loves them, and their grief is real. Their lives are real and even though many miles may separate us, we can care for them and pray for them.

2. As I said in the original blog post- the people around you are so valuable. When was the last time that you said, "thank you" or "I love you?" Go do it right now. Call someone today and tell them that you love them.

3. We have today. As Daneel's fiancee wrote, : “Live Well”, “Laugh Often”, “Love Much.”
This is the day that the Lord God has given us. Let's make the most of it.

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

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Do you ever catch yourself being defensive? Maybe someone said something to you, or said something about you. Human nature is to react. To strike back. To overreact. Often, this defensiveness is a sign that we are not whole. When we are defensive, we are saying that we don't know who we are. We are saying that we are not confident in our self awareness.

Imagine that you are whole. Imagine that I am whole. When the attacking words come from others, wouldn't we react totally differently? When a little dog barks at us, we think, "oh, it is just a little dog." We are confident in who we are.

How about let's remember that God tells us that he loves us. He tells us that we are good. We are created in his image. If God is for us, who can be against us? Let other people say what they will, God is good and he loves us. We don't need to be defensive, we need to remember whose we are. I would rather spend my time thinking about God than unhappy people anyway.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, don't worry about what mean people may say, open your eyes and see the good that the Lord has placed in you and in his world.

Friday, August 1, 2008

when it goes our way

When it doesn't go our way, we tend to whine. I have a cavity, I got a flat tire, I didn't get the promotion. My grass is dying, my house needs to be painted. Lightning split a tree in my back yard. I have gray hair. On and on we go, complaining when things don't go our way.

Well, have you ever thought to give thanks when things do go your way?

Yes it needs to be painted, but I do own a home. Yes the tree is split, but we sure did need the rain. I didn't get the promotion, but I do have a job. It may be gray, but I do have some hair.

Yesterday, a couple of things went very right for me. I ordered a doorbell for a neighbor. A strange little hard to find door bell. It came in the mail in two days and it was a perfect match. it took five minutes to put on.

Yesterday, I had a tire going flat. I made it home, jacked it up, removed the tire, and found the leak. The valve stem was cracked. I took it to the tire store for repair. Charge? $1.75 no $1.86 with tax. I took the tire home and put it back on the car.

Today I have a happy neighbor and a car with air in the tires.

Dear God, I want to thank you for challenges that come up. I want to thank you especially when the challenges get solved quickly. Thank you for your friendship and your presence with me. Amen.

Is there something in your life that is going well? Something that you should give thanks for? Take a moment and offer it up.

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