Friday, October 31, 2008

I thought I had to do it.

Sometimes it feels like you have to do everything. Well, this was my job. It was my responsibility. I have always done this. Hundreds of times I have done this. Now, without so much as saying anything to me, someone else wants to take it over. Wait, you can't do it, I am supposed to do it.

I didn't get anywhere. I tried again. I started feeling tension. Then I made a strategic decision.

Even though this is my job and I have always done it, and I am supposed to do it now, I am going to step back and watch. I am going to let this other person do it. I am just going to go with the flow. What is the worst that could happen?

And, I learned something. They did it. They did it well. Maybe even a better job than I would have done. I was worrying for nothing and I learned much about the capabilities of another.

What are you worried about today? Are there others that can help and would help if you would give them a chance? How big of a deal is this really? The world can continue to exist without me having to do everything I think that I need to do.

Jesus said, don't worry. Seek the kingdom. Maybe if I relax a little more, I will find the peace of the kingdom a little more often.

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

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Premonitions. When you have a feeling that something is going to happen. A foretelling. You know something k-n-o-w something before it happens.

Last Friday and Saturday I made a short trip to Springfield. [I don't mean that I found a short cut to Springfield, it is still 160 miles. What I mean is that I drove there and went to a meeting and returned, all within 24 hours. It was a short trip.] Before I left, I had a strong feeling that I was going to be involved in a car wreck and die on the trip. For a moment, I thought about calling to cancel.

I decided to go on the trip. I drove carefully. My "premonition" was wrong. I think if your premonition is wrong, then it is not really not a real premonition.

This is not the first time that I have felt this way. I have had many times where I was suddenly thinking about my own demise. I have finally decided why those feelings show up. Ready? It is because I am having so much fun in life. Now, I don't mean that I don't have any problems, I do. And don't think for a minute that being a pastor doesn't have it's painful moments. But, all in all, like John Denver said, "it's been a good life all in all." Actually, it has been an awesome life!

I am blessed with more kind hearted people than I can keep track of. I have won the friend lottery. I have won the wife lottery. She is a good one! My kids are super.

Maybe this is the best thing.... as I am growing older, I can feel the good things of God growing inside of me. I have learned so much in the last few years about joy, peace, grace and judgement. I am having a blast. I hope it doesn't end soon.

With that thought in mind, this is the day that the Lord has made. We have one shot at today. Let's go out and find somebody to care about.

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

taking up a cross

Semantics. How we say things. We get in the habit of saying things sometimes without thinking about the real meaning.

Jesus said, "take up your cross." We say that we, "have a cross to bear." and "such and such is my cross to bear."

When we say this, we are commonly referring to various and random difficulty in this life. For example, "having a chronic disease is my cross to bear." "Having a wife that travels, is my cross to bear." "Having a bad knee is my cross to bear."

Having this problem at work, or a spouse that is non supportive, or the death of a friend, we often refer to such things as "our cross to bear."

Scripturaly, this is mis-speak. When Jesus spoke of a cross to bear, he was not referring to the common trials and tribulations of this life. What he was inferring is that every Christian should bear some difficulty for the sake of the kingdom. A cross to bear is some hardship that we endure because of, or to the benefit of our faith in Jesus.

With that definition, the number of us that are actually bearing a cross possibly just got much smaller. Are you inconvenienced for the sake of Christ? Persecuted for Him? Have you made a sacrifice for Him? Such are our crosses to bear for the sake of the kingdom.

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

an outward focus can be painful

An outward focus can be painful. It is like taking up a cross.

Based on a comment in yesterday's post, someone has asked me to say a bit more. This is their comment:

Because core values are so important would you please expand on your statement "Growing churches let go of traditions that do not work and reach out to the community with things that are relevant to the community, even setting aside their own preferences in order to win new people in the neighborhood."

Let me say a bit more about that statement, and it is not pleasant, but it is real. This is why many churches are growing and many others are not. If the only people that we are trying to win are those like us, eventually we will decline and die, because we are all growing older. By nature we lose touch with younger folks. We wonder why we have no young folks at our churches, but we are often unwilling to change to attract them. It is like we are saying, "come join us, help pay the bills, but you will need to learn to like our music and have church the way we like to have church. After all, it is our church."

If we expect to win young people in the community, we need to create an environment that is welcoming to them. We need to give them more than a seat in a pew. We need to give them authority. We need to help them shape a church that they want to take ownership of. This means that we must be willing to allow a church to be created that is not to our liking. We may prefer traditional choral music or a formal, reverent service, but if we stick with that, we will not win the young folks. We will simply die a slow death, while clinging to the life raft of our traditions. If we don’t change to become a church that they like, they will figure out how to start their own churches…and they are.

To welcome someone is to cook their favorite meal, whether you prefer it or not. It is to find the joy in having a house full of young folks that enjoy a different taste in music. We must learn to grin and bear and enjoy their ways and their music if we want them around. Here is the fun part. In 20 years, it will all have to happen all over again. In 20 years, we can watch them suffer with the ideas and music of future young folks, just as we have had to do for them. We can mentor them in the ways of change and acceptance, all for the mission of Jesus Christ. We must decrease so that he can increase.

The following quotes are painful, but true.

"Those who are not here, matter as much if not more than those who are here."
adopted by the Administrative Council of Woods Chapel Church, August 2000

”The church is only the church when it exists for others”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as quoted in the book, Faithquakes, by Leonard Sweet

The church is the only group on earth that exists for its “non-members.”
as quoted in the book, Radical Outreach, by George Hunter.

"Go and make disciples," "take up your cross and follow me" and "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."

Death awaits those who insist on their personal preferences and comfort. The future of the church is bright and joyful for those congregations who are willing to give themselves away for the sake of the gospel.

To what extent are we willing to reach beyond our comfort zone to welcome the next generation? Answer this question and I will tell you your future.

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

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Church Start, pt 2

The original post on this topic was Tuesday, October 21st. For a complete background, read that post and the comments for that day.

Someone asked a very good question yesterday. "If other churches in our area are struggling with declining membership and financial problems, why not just help them instead of helping to start a new church?"

This is a good question and deserves some thoughtful answers.

First of all we have to understand why churches decline. Usually, decline begins when churches forget their mission and begin to be gripped by an inward focus. They work hard to sustain and maintain their identity and stop trying to reach the community. Usually, for a declining church to turn a corner and reach the community, they have to totally change their approach to outreach. Our human tendency says, "we have a great church, come join us, but you will have to learn to like it our way." Growing churches let go of traditions that do not work and reach out to the community with things that are relevant to the community, even setting aside their own preferences in order to win new people in the neighborhood. Without a clear outward focus, all churches will eventually decline and die. Once a church gets stuck in self preservation and focused inward, it is very difficult for that church to reload it's operating systems.

Secondly, I would tell you that the district and conference has done a ton to help declining churches. That is heavy on the minds of the Bishop, our District Superintendents and Conference Staff. Everyone is working to help churches become fruitful, to win people to Jesus Christ. They have offered seminars and consultants, and coaching and accountability groups. They have offered voluntary and mandatory training. They have offered mentors. They have created a Pastoral Leadership Development program. There are consultations and interventions available to help churches turn around. Sometimes, Praise God, these efforts help.

Thirdly, Woods Chapel has done a lot to help any church that we possibly can. Our pastor and some of our staff have travelled to other churches to offer training in creating a positive culture. I have, or your staff have been in Jefferson City, St. Joe, Independence, Warrenton, Grandview, Springfield, Blue Springs, and other places as well. We tell our story and offer our help. The other thing that we have worked hard to do is to build a climate of welcome. We want all pastors from all churches to feel welcome. We have built relationships with pastors all over the city and all over the conference. What we are doing is not just about Woods Chapel, but it is about the Kingdom of God and we are all in this together. We have also reached out to the seminary through an intern program. Every month, a seminary student has the opportunity to meet our staff, learn how we operate and get a feel for Woods Chapel culture and ideas. If any one has any other ideas on how we can be team players and reach out to churches in the area, I have time for a cup of coffee this week. Call me. This is a very important concept that I would love to explore further.

So, the odd thing is, that even though so many are tyring, many churches continue to decline. I know that Sue Watson from our conference office reads this blog and she may have better comments than mine, but I think that conference officials will tell you that they have targeted an area in Independence where there currently is no Methodist church. Also I believe they will tell you that if people were going to join the existing churches, they already would have done so. People like to join new things and they want to join something that has a positive vision, culture and outlook.

So, I think that is why they are interested in us helping to start a new church. I believe that they would tell you it is the best way to win disciples and grow the church.

Please continue to send in your comments and questions. This is an exciting opportunity for us and we need to have good dialogue about it.

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

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Quick, go look at the moon......

Update, 6:38am. Go look at the moon! How does God do looks like a ping pong ball is suspended in front of the moon, hiding all but a sliver of moon light. Awesome.

Now, on to the previous post:

I slept well. Hymns went through my head all night. Onward Christian Soldiers. Faith of our Fathers. It is kind of fun to wake up after a night of hymns. Heck, at my age, it is just fun to wake up.

Friend, your comment was not mean. My previous post had nothing to do with anything on the blog.

I look forward to seeing all of you in God's house today. Maybe we will sing a hymn. It is a beautiful day and the sun has not yet come up.

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

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Daffodils- part 2

I know that trenches were cut yesterday. If the weather allows, more daffodil bulbs will be planted at 9am today. Please stop by and help if you can, it should not take long. I am in Springfield today, but will be in service tomorrow. Thank you and God bless you for helping to make the church grounds more beautiful!

mean behavior

I was going to say, mean people. But I don't really think the people are mean, I just think that sometimes they engage in mean behavior. Why do they do that? Do I ever do that? I hope not. If I have, call me and let me apologize. I did not mean to be mean.

Are you ever mean? Why? Why would a person need to behave in this manner? Someone said, everyone is mean sometimes. I disagree. Betty is never mean. Jim is never mean. I know people that I have known for years and they don't have a mean bone in their bodies. Paul is never mean.

I think people are mean because they are acting out of their hurt. They have been wounded in some way and so now they are going to make sure that other people get to share in their hurt. I think sometimes people are mean because no one ever helped them to see how hurtful their actions are. They never learned that bearing pain is a part of life. Somehow, it is still about them.
I don't think that Jesus ever inflicted pain on anyone except the pharisees. A few months ago I read a line, "leaders don't deliver pain, they bear it."

Let's do everything that we can to love and heal one another. Hug the person that is hurting. Hug the mean person. They are not mean, they are only acting mean. Mercy always rejoices over judgement.

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

Friday, October 24, 2008

selective hearing

Selective hearing. My dog has it. He only comes to you when he wants to. Our cats? I think they are deaf. Notice I said, my dog and our cats. I no longer claim the cats. They belong to the rest of the family. Cats cannot hear. They may look at you when you talk to them, but they do not speak English.

Lou the dog has selective hearing. If he is hungry or cold, he will come when you call. If he is warm and content, he is likely to ignore you. Sounds a bit like people. If we are comfortable, we don't want to be interrupted.

One of Lou's favorite hobbies is chasing rabbits. We occasionally let him out in the front yard to mark his territory. You have to be careful if you do this, because if you open the door and let him out, and he sees a rabbit or another dog, he is gone in a flash. This has happened so much recently, that I always look very closely to see if there is any other livestock visible from our door. I also have gone to walking out into the Yard with him so that he remembers who the alpha male is.

Lou is getting smarter. Yesterday morning, I opened the door and Lou ran out. I followed. About half way in to the yard, he noticed a rabbit across the street in a neighbor's yard. He bolted. It took me about three seconds to see what was happening and to find the wind to shout his name. "LOU!"

That is when the unthinkable happened. Lou stopped in his tracks. He watched the rabbit run around the corner of the house, then he turned around and came back to me.

I was proud of myself. I am the alpha male at our house. But, I was more proud of him. He is learning to do the right things.

And so I am wondering about what God thinks of my hearing? Do I only listen when I want to? Do I stick with my comfort and preferences and ignore his calling? What about you?

If Lou can learn to listen better, so can we.

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

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Sometimes cats are not very smart. I have often wondered about people that do not like cats. Now, I am becoming one. Pictured below are Tyler [on the right] and his supposed biological sister "Princess KiKi."

Tyler the cat has been sick. I guess. How do cats get sick anyway? They are house cats. They are never exposed to anything.

Well, Tyler has been getting sick. Kitty barfing on all sorts of things. You go from having this nice little kitty who sits on your lap, to cleaning up after him every day. He used to snuggle on my desk, now he is causing me to have to clean up my desk. What could be wrong with this cat? Maybe it is time for him to go to kitty heaven.

I decide to do some investigation. I quarantined the cat. That makes problems of its own. Yowling and howling all night, but at least he is not barfing on my desk. We suspect that he is blocked due to a lack of action in the litter box. That may cause the barfing. You know, maybe he ate something that he shouldn't have. Well, this morning, he finally left some presents in the litter box. I inspect them. Yes it looks as if the dam has broke and he is clear. There is no kitty barf in the room. He seems to be feeling better. I inspect the presents. Sure enough he has passed a piece of plastic.

If you have cats that are not very smart, you may want to put up things that they can eat. Evidently they are like 2 year olds. If they can get it in their mouth, they will eat it. I am going to push for warning labels on products that say, "warning, this product contains small parts which may pose a swallowing hazard to cats of low I.Q."

At least he doesn't have to go to cat heaven................. just yet.

Jeff Brinkman, P.D. [pet detective]

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Sometimes progress is hard to see. You hang with your kids every day and you are around them so much that you don't notice them growing. We are worried about something, then we forget about it and wake up a month later to realize that everything is resolved.

Sometimes I look back at information, publications and sermons from the past. It is always interesting to see the issues that we faced and how concerning they were to me at the time.

How many years did we talk about a walking trail? Now we have one. I remember the terrible mess that the tree line on the north side of the pond used to be. Now it is awesome. I remember when we did not have bells in the bell tower. I remember when the sanctuary windows were clear.

If you have something in your life that you are worried about, it is probably going to get better. You may not notice every change for the good, but as long as you keep moving your heart, mind, body and soul in the right direction, things are probably going to improve.

Don't waste today worrying about tomorrow. Worrying will not make you any taller. Seek the kingdom. Your heavenly Father knows your needs.

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

new church start?

Last night at Church Council/Dream Team, we took the first step in helping to start a new church in our area.

You may remember that in 1975 the First UMC Lees Summit worked with the conference to help launch Woods Chapel. You may also remember that in June 1995 – the conference was considering starting a new church in N Lees Summit. Or did we want to go out to the highway?

Today the conference is considering a new church start in E Independence. They are asking if we can we help shape and deploy it?

How we would help:
work w other churches in area to insure health and success of new start
provide space for one year
pay ½ of pastors salary
-20k in 2009
-20k in 2010
office, copier, meeting rooms
teaching our culture, mentoring
provide seed families

time spent on project
sharing space- they would set up in lecture hall at 8am and be done and out by 955am.
parking – more needed or run the shuttle
seed families

most UM churches in our area are in decline
we have the chance to help establish a future successful church in Independence
we can model churches working together
model church parenting and partnership
connect more people to Jesus Christ
extend beyond our 20 acres
we can model kingdom building, vs empire building
carry a cross for one year for the benefit of the greater kingdom

The comments last night were very positive. Consensus was reached to send this proposal on to the next step which would be a discussion at the all church conference on Nov 11th for priorities for 2009.

Please be praying about this opportunity.

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

Monday, October 20, 2008


An obstruction. Something that gets in the way. Something that keeps us from achieving our goal or getting to where we need to be.

When the eye is unobstructed, the result is sight. When the ear is unobstructed, the result is hearing.

Jesus warned us about having boards in our eyes. Are there things in our life that we are seeing or focusing on that are distractions or obstructions? Are we listening to things that cloud our thoughts? Are we the best ones to ask such questions? Can we even see our board, or are we so used to looking around it that we think this kind of sight is normal? Brave people challenge their own paradigms.

Remove the negativity and we will see clearly. Remove our judgements and we will act with grace.

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

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Well, I did it again. I hurt someone's feelings. Odd thing is, I don't really even know what I did. They did not tell me and that is ok. Anyway, I am sorry, and I apologized to them, and they forgave me. It isn't always important to know what you did, but it is always important to apologize, to have a spirit of reconciliation. To seek redemption.

I think that is how original sin works. Sometimes our behavior is wrong and it is so ingrained in us that we aren't even aware that something is wrong. We have lived with ourselves for so long, and excused our bad behavior for so long that we don't even notice it any more.

With such thoughts in mind, I give thanks for redemption. For people that are willing to say "sorry" and the gift of another day and another try at relationships. For the love of God that reaches out in forgiveness.

Redemption allows us to stop focusing on what is wrong. What we did wrong and what others did to us. We are loved by God and so are they. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We don't have to get stuck in the things that are wrong. Doing that is a waste of time and it blocks us from our main purpose of being in love with God.

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

Saturday, October 18, 2008

daffodil day

Today is daffodil planting day. We are making the world a more beautiful place. If you want to help, come up to the church at 9am. we are planting 5,000 daffodil bulbs.

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

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Shack

Someone asked me to read the book, The Shack. It was such a blessing to them. Well, simply out of respect for them, I ordered a copy. I read half of it a few weeks ago, and finished it off Wednesday night, last night, and this morning about 4:30am. I was so excited to read the end of it that I had trouble sleeping. I finally gave in to the whirring of my brain thinking about the book, rolled out of bed and finished it.

The first part of the book is good, but painful. Difficult story that draws you in. The middle is good, but it has some slow spots. The ending, the last few chapters is a grand slam. Of course, being a novel, you have to read the entire book to get the effect. And if you get the book, wade through it all. The middle is very important.

A paragraph in the back of the book says, "this book deserves a reading across the broadest reaches of our culture. Not only is this a compelling and provocative story, but it has a literary quality to it that distinguishes it as a special gift. It offers one of the most poignant views of God and how he relates to humanity that has been written in our time. It will not only encourage those who already know him but also engage those who have not yet recognized his work in their lives."

The Shack, by William Young.

If you are looking for a thought provoking read, this book made me cry and spoke to me in ways that I am still thinking about.

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

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Is the church alright?

The past few months I have been asked many times, "is the church alright?" What people want to know is whether or not the financial and economic times have effected giving. Can the church pay it's bills.

Well, we have been watching everything very closely. You know the church will live within it's means. So far, what we are seeing is that people are very committed to their church. They may have skipped eating out a time or two, but they are still supporting their church financially.

Interestingly enough, yesterday on the radio I heard that attendance and income is down 9% at the area casinos. Not that I want anyone to lose their job if they work there. But, what that info tells me is that good people know what is really important and they are supporting that which is making a significant impact in the world.

Thank you for your love and support for your church.

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I like you.

I like you. I do. Each and every one of you. Sometimes we disagree. Sometimes we annoy each other. Sometimes we don't understand each other. Sometimes we are too busy and miss each other.

I admire your heart. I admire your commitment to our mission. I thank you for being you. I like you. Every one of you. Don't ever think otherwise. You are awesome!

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ten thoughts on simplicity

I am sorry that this is late. I am out of town at a pastor's meeting. I will be back for class tonight at 7pm. Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

Several have asked for this informatin from Sunday's Sermon. I beleive that this information came from Richard Foster's book Celebration of Discipline.

The Discipline of Simplicity

In Richard Foster's book on discipline he divides discipline into three parts: Inward, Outward, and Corporate discipline. He places simplicity under the category of the Outward Disciplines. Here are his ten ways to order our world so that we can create simplicity in our life.

First, buy things for their usefulness rather than their status

Second, reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.

Third, develop a habit of giving things away.

Fourth, refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.

Fifth, learn to enjoy things without owning them.

Sixth, develop a deeper appreciation for the creation.

Seventh, look at a healthy skepticism at all "buy now, pay later" schemes.

Eighth, obey Jesus' instructions about plain, honest speech.

Ninth, reject anything that will breed the oppression of others.

Tenth, shun whatever would distract you from your main goal: "Seek first the kingdom of God."

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

Monday, October 13, 2008

Last night's concert

Wow was that our church? Not to say that the music isn't always wonderful, but the choir, orchestra, musicians and the spirit singers outdid themselves. It was awesome! One of the greatest moments in my memory of the church.

I hope you did not miss the concert. I can't imagine a better way to spend an hour.

On another note. Join the choir!! You are welcome. Come and make a joyful noise unto the Lord and be a part of an exciting fun group of people. Practice is Wednesday at 730 in the sanctuary.

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

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Quick hurry! look outside! it is 7:15 and the sun is rising! It is beautiful! God is speaking!

Through our worry, along side our troubled feelings. God is speaking! Witness his glory. Go outside and look. It is beautiful today.

Thank you, Lord.

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

Saturday, October 11, 2008

there comes a point

There comes a point to which I cannot let people into my life, even electronically. Not that I am hiding any big sins. I have sins, but I think they are pretty boring.

Being a partly introverted person, the blog allows me to reveal things about myself that I would find difficult to do in public. Sometimes it is easier to talk to a screen than to a real person.

Occasionally though, I come to a place, well, maybe this is the first time since I started this blog that I am choosing to hold back how I feel.

Suffice it to say. Sad. Heartbroken.

I know we all will live and die. I just like the living part better. Today may be a day for a funeral, but tomorrow is Sunday. A day to celebrate life! A day to praise God. I invite you to join me.

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

Friday, October 10, 2008

a puddle of mud

Yesterday when I woke up, I was a puddle of mud. A little clod of sadness. I didn't sleep well, I woke up early and I was just a puddle of mud. I got to work at 7:15. I visited with another staff person who was a puddle of mud too. Then another.

At 8:30 all that changed for me. I found myself in a meeting with 5 young preachers talking about the future of the church. We talked about dreams and hopes and the power of the Holy Spirit to change a life.

Guess what? Somewhere during that meeting, I was saved. Saved from sorrow, saved from worry, saved from myself. I got my eyes back on what we are about. I got by with a little help from my friends.

The power of Christian friends cannot be overemphasized. If you are glum, sit down and spend some time with God's people. They will lift your spirits.

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

Thursday, October 9, 2008

little hurts, big hurts

Little hurts come and go.
You said my dog was ugly.
I had a flat tire.
I had three flat tires.
You insulted me in some way.

Sometimes we make mountains out of molehills. We treat little hurts as though they were big hurts. Then when we see a big hurt, we usually realize how foolish we were to be that upset about the little things. The reminder to "see the good" usually helps me get to the other side of little hurts.

What about the big hurts. A friend or loved one dies. Your child is in trouble. Your marriage is on the skids. Those things that come along that cut to the core. They keep you awake at night. You wake up and you are crying. Hugs are nice, the passing of time helps, but where is the ointment for big hurts?

I am about half way through the book, "the shack." The shack is a place where God finds you at your greatest point of need. I know this is the answer. I have to find my shack. I have to spend more time there than usual. I have to wake up there in the middle of the night. Big hurts need a big God. We have to let him keep holding us. In his presence, I see more clearly....... and it is a beautiful day. If you are hurting today, find your shack. God is there. He will take us to the other side.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Goodbye my friend

Last night my friend died. Kelly was as wonderful of a person as I have ever know. Happy, funny, bright, thoughtful, introspective. Filled with love. A realness that drew so many to her. She cared about every person that she met. She took her work seriously. She was a wonderful mother, wife, daughter and friend. The world is less of a place without her.

O God, we pray for her family and we trust in you. Our tears stain our cheeks.

I know that we cry for ourselves. We are not worried about her, we know where she is. Heaven is a brighter place today.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

peace and quiet

Last night I was driving home from the hospital. The radio was on when I started the car. I soon became tired of the topic of conversation on the station, and the tone of the discussion. I changed to another preset. In my first car, when you changed the station, you could watch the red indicator slide along the AM dial. Now it all happens electronically. It is all so fast. There are so many buttons.

One station after the next. They were all talking about the same stuff. My brain is sore and my heart is numb. What happened next was nothing short of miraculous.

I turned the radio off.

The car suddenly became filled with the purr of the motor and the quiet of the night. I felt the presence of God. Peace and quiet. How about that. He is still there waiting for us to pay attention.

Turn the radio off, get in touch with God.

The world of men and women may be hurried and confused, but it's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, October 6, 2008


The sermon this Sunday is on simplicity. I don't believe I have ever preached on this subject before. What is simplicity? Is it something that we should seek after? What spiritual messages come from it?

I would appreciate any thoughts that you might have on the subject. I may use some of them this Sunday. If you have insights to share on the topic of simplicity, please post a comment or send me an email.

I wonder how my week or your week may be different just from thinking about the concept of simplicity.

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

Sunday, October 5, 2008

truth and love

They are both important. Jesus said he was, "the way, the truth and the life." 1 Jn 4 tells us that "God is love." 1Corinthians 13, "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."

Somehow knowledge and truth lose some of their value if they are not shared in love. I continue to be surprised at behaviors, including my own, that seems to have forgotten this.

Everything we do should be cloaked in love. God is love and when love is present, my words are humble and I point to Him, not to me. I catch myself sometimes having forgotten this. Maybe you do too.

Well, it is Sunday, let's go to church and recapture the love!

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

Saturday, October 4, 2008


At the appointed time, 9am, three grand-parents, two parents, three boys aged 8, 11, and 13 met a preacher behind the cove clubhouse. Everyone made the trek, down the rock steps to the beach.

The preacher gathered the group together and opened with prayer. "Lord, we thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for your presence with us. Honor the commitment of these young men this day, in Jesus name, Amen."

The preacher reminded everyone that he had visited with the boys in the coffee bar about baptism a few weeks ago, and that the parents had talked with the boys as well about this decision.

"Do you today confess your faith in Jesus Christ?"
"yes" "yes" and "yes."
"Do you wish to be baptized into the Christian faith?"
"yes" "yes" and "yes."

The preacher continued, "Boys you will remember this day, because the water is cold. But I want you to remember this day for another reason. As you follow Jesus in baptism, you are receiving the sign of God's promise of grace to you. Where ever you go in your life, whatever you do, no matter what the ups and downs, God's promise of love is always with you. Remember that. I also want you to remember that the three of you did this together. You are brothers. God has given you to each other. For the rest of your lives you must take care of one another and stand with one another. Remember, this is a decision that you made today together."

"Now we are going to go down into the water, I will take each of you under one at a time, and then we will return to the beach for a towel and prayer."

The air temperature is about 64 I would guess. The water temperature is less than that. This is one of those moments in which you tolerate discomfort for the common good. Out we wade into the lake. The deeper it gets, the colder it gets. Ah, that is far enough. We turn to face the shore.

As each boy goes under the water, they rise out with an exclamation, "ahahahahhhhhh." It might have been the temperature, and it might have been the joy of the Holy Spirit in the moment of baptism.

We returned to the beach for towels and prayer.

"Lord, now set your Holy Spirit upon these boys. As they have followed you in baptism, so let your grace descend on their lives in a greater way. Guide them, keep them safe, let their lives be surrounded by your love. In Jesus name, Amen."

An extra towel is always on hand for the seat of the car. I drive home. I cannot help but think that these boys will certainly remember today. I will. It is a great gift that we have to lead our young people in the paths of Jesus Christ.

Now I have to finish the sermon. Tomorrow is a work day for me.

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

cold water

At 9am today I am baptizing three young men in the lake. I will let you know how it goes.

The water is cold, but it is a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, October 3, 2008

If you have embarrassed yourself

If you feel sad because you have embarrassed yourself, sometimes we cannot depend on God until we know for sure that there is nothing in myself worth trusting. Seeing myself at my worst, causes me to see that I am not the answer anymore, God is.

Sometimes we get a glimpse of our darkness and it scares us. When you see your darkness, then you can give up trusting yourself, and begin to trust God.

Sometimes God lets us see the worst of ourselves. When we do, we finally realize that we cannot trust in ourselves any longer. There is this odd sense that we are repelled by ourselves…….the very Jeff that I thought was so great, now, I know who he really is…….
It makes me want to lean on Jesus. I don’t deserve to be saved, yet he saves me………..

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

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Love 'em anyway

Yesterday I heard the Martina McBride song "Anyway" on the radio. These words struck a cord with me:

"You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away
Love 'em anyway"

I got to thinking about the people that I used to have the chance to love, but don't anymore.

They moved, I moved, they quit the church, they got busy, I got busy, we grew apart, there are a multitude of reasons. Usually when I think of them, I feel sad. It hurts to lose them, but the message is powerful: love them anyway. Yesterday, I just thought about how good it was to love them, for the time that we had together. That was a different way to look at things, and a better way for my heart.

And I know I would love them again if I had the chance. Thank you God for the gift of love, even when it is only for a short while.

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

college visit

Today, Scott and I are driving to Pittsburg, KS. He wants to visit Pittsburg State University. I have taken the day off to go there with him. Pitt State has engineering degrees that he is interested in. He also like the thought of being a Gorilla [their mascot}.

This is our last baby. I remember when I gave him his first haircut. He was still in the walker. I cornered him and shaved his goldilocks off while his mom was at the grocery store with the girls. Now he is all grown up. Big and strong and going off to college. Baby Scottie isn't a baby anymore.

Next year, the house will be quiet. All three kids will be in college. I wonder what that will be like. They will be fine. I will have some things to work on. Life's passages are interesting to navigate.

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