Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bill Gates rules for living

Again, as requested from the sermon on Sunday. There are several versions of this on the web. will tell you that Bill Gates is not the author of these rules. However, our own Wally H told me on Sunday that he personally heard Bill Gates deliver these on television.

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

Bill Gates rules for life-
>RULE 1-Life is not fair - get used to it.

>RULE 2-The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

>RULE 3-You will NOT make $50,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice president with a car and phone, until you earn all three.

>RULE 4-If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

>RULE 5-Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a
>different word for burger flipping - they called it opportunity.

>RULE 6-If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your
>mistakes, learn from them.

>RULE 7-Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are
>RULE 8-Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many times you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

>RULE 9-Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

>RULE 10-Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to work.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Biblical principles of character

I have had a few requests to publish the lists from Sunday's sermon. Here is the list about Biblical principles of Character.

What are some biblical principles of character?

Principle 1…Respecting authority- means they have right to direct & define our actions
-If you are in trouble at school you are in trouble at home
-Honor your father and mother- it’s one of the top ten
-The authorities that exist have been established by God- Romans 13

Principle 1.5 discipline is a good thing-
-Hebrews 12:6 the Lord disciplines those whom he loves
-Proverbs 29:15 "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother."

Principle 2…Treating others as we want to be treated-
-common courtesy - saying please and thank you.
-Mt 7;12 - Do unto others
-Romans 12-10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Principle 3…we are in this together…Everyone pulls together so we can do what needs to be done-
-Doing chores
-Acts 2- the early Christians held all things in common

Principle 4--taking responsibility
-Being willing to work for what I get
-working hard to solve problems
-if a man would not work, neither would he eat 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Principle 5 living within your means
-avoid living on credit-
-avoid the desire for instant gratification
-the borrower is slave to the lender proverbs 22:7

Principle 6…Humility

-James 4- God resists the proud give grace to the humble
-the American dream is a dream, not a birth right
-Understand that everything is a privilege
-the world does not owe me anything.
-You are not entitled to anything- but the will and purpose of God
-not my will, but thy will be done- Jesus in the garden

Principle 7 - do the right thing
My Dad liked to say:
"The right thing to do is the right thing to do, even if you are the only one doing it. The wrong thing to do is the wrong thing to do, even if everyone is doing it."

Proverbs 14:29 "He who is impulsive exalts folly."
Proverbs 22:1 "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,

Principle 8- Dependence upon God-
-thou shall have no other Gods before me- its one of the top ten
-the greatest commandment; thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul mind and strength.
-We need to find an attitude of Gratitude, thankfulness
-We need to see that the church is central- when your kids are 30 and they are facing tough times, the values that they get from church are going to be far more important to them than what they are getting from extra curricular activities.

In conclusion:
you reap what you sow- 2 Corinthians 9:6

Since these principles are considered common sense, you’d think they would be a little more common.

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

Monday, December 29, 2008

Do you hate me?

That was the question that one of my children asked. "Do you hate me?" It about breaks your heart. The child did not ask because I was mad, but because they knew that they had stepped outside of the boundaries. They were feeling bad, and since they have friends that throw people away at the drop of a hat, they wondered if their Dad would throw them away. This is how the discussion went....
- - -
Frankly, this is an opportunity for us to have a good talk. There are usually consequences to stepping outside of the boundaries, but let us make one thing clear. Your father will never hate you.

In this life, everyone is worried about being thrown away, rejected. Friends do it to us, yes sometimes parents do throw their children away. But not here. Not in this house. This is one place that is going to be different. We will always be your parents and you will always be
loved by us.

You will never have to worry, no matter what you do, about being thrown away or hated. Now, let's get back to the consequences of that boundaries violation.

- - -
Friends, we have a chance with our families, and with one another, to bite our tongues, control our anger and to model unusual grace. Perseverance. God's unlimited grace as given to us sets the example of how we can treat one another. Grace is amazing. Life always goes better when we deliver it.

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

Sunday, December 28, 2008

extra credit

One of the least attended Sundays of the year is today. It is the last Sunday of the year, the Sunday between Christmas and New Years.

There are many good reasons to skip church, and some real lame, selfish ones too. Here is what I have always wondered about missing church: what would I have received if I had taken the time to be there? A hug, a smile, an important thought, a new friend, a sense of inspiration, that one little nudge that pushed me over the edge to the next level of growth in my life.

I want to encourage each of you to be in church every time that you possibly can. It is good for us and good for our children. Believe me, when your kids are older, their participation in church is going to be far more important that how many video games they played or how many extra-curricular things they were involved in.

Anyway, if I were giving out extra credit, everyone who comes to church today would get it. Now, since we live by faith and are saved by grace, there is no extra credit. But, maybe, just maybe, today is the day when you find something or hear something at church that will change your life.

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

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Be careful how much stock you place in leaders. Remember, the goal of any endeavor is not the leader, but it is the goal itself. Leaders are a means to an end, they are not the end. Think about that for a minute.

A pastor is not the answer, a pastor only points the way. A Christian writer or TV preacher is not the way, He or She is only a finger pointing at the moon, they are not the moon. Their interpretation of Scripture is theirs, not necessarily God's. Scripture itself does not point toward itself, but it points toward the goal, a relationship with God.

Leaders are good, usually. Christian books are good, usually, Biblical reading is always good, Biblical interpretation is subjective. All of these things must point us toward a deeper relationship with God.

If a leader is manipulating you or guilting you, if someone is using Scripture as a hammer, beware. Truth is always freeing. The truth will set you free. It does not put great loads on our backs or beat us to death. Even truth that hurts, if it comes from God, is accompanied by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, which is a sweet, loving, grip on the heart which draws a person towards our heavenly Father.

If it is not helping you be free of religiosity, it may not be spiritual. If he or she is not pointing you towards a relationship with Jesus, watch out! An apple does not fall far from the tree. Is joy and celebration growing in your life? Is God's love filling you more and more? If not, what are you following? Test the spirits to see if they are from God. Wisdom is proved right by her children.

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

Friday, December 26, 2008


Whatcha doing today?

Returning Christmas gifts? Getting together with family and friends? Enjoying a relaxing holiday? Playing with new toys? Cleaning up after the big party?

Today I am going to visit a few of your friends, members of our church. All three are in KUMC.
One is having b cancer surgery, one is having a second surgery for throat cancer, the third has ablastic anemia and needs a bone marrow transplant or... that person is 19 years old.

I am not writing this so that you will feel sorry for me because I am going to the hospital on the 26th of December, this is a very good use of my day. Normally other pastoral care staff would make these visits, but it is the day after Christmas and I want them to be with their families.

I am writing this to you today so that we can all keep our lives in perspective. While you are waiting in a long line to return something today, while you are idling in a long line of traffic, while you are going into the movie theatre, while you are picking up the house or getting ready to go out, please remember these our friends. They are facing some difficult moments during "the most wonderful time of the year." Please pray for them and give thanks to God for his many blessings.

I don't mean to bring you down, but there are always people around us that need to be lifted up.
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

On Christmas Day, I am still a big kid. When I was growing up, I could not sleep. We were so excited for the presents. My sisters and I would wake up at 4am and play monopoly and mousetrap. My Dad had made a rule that no one could go downstairs until 7am.

When I got my own place and my own family, the 7am rule went away. I am still the first one up. 5:20 this morning, I wake up and it takes about 20 seconds for your brain to realize that it is Christmas Day. I pop up, and here I am! I am going to make a pot of coffee and then put on the Christmas music very loud. I am going to wake them up and make them rise and shine. It is Jesus' birthday after all.

If the fun used to be the presents, now it is just being with my wife and kids. When I woke Cathy up 10 minutes ago and tried without success to get her out of bed, I told her "thanks." Thanks for every Christmas, thanks for every day, thanks for our family.

Thank you. Thank you for every pound of love that I have received from you. At Woods Chapel, love shows up in pounds, not ounces. Thank you for loving and supporting your church. Thank you for dreaming big and reaching out in ministry in the name of Jesus Christ. You have made some amazing things happen.

It is a beautiful day in God's world, wake up you sleeper! Anybody want to play monopoly?

Merry, Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

and I will post a bit

In 43 minutes it all begins.

I am so grateful! I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a pastor. To stand up on this great day and proclaim the love of God thru Jesus Christ our Lord.

I can feel the presence of God at our church today! It is awesome! Thank God, praise Him for He is good!

I so look forward to seeing you later today. Unless you are out of town, then Merry Christmas to you, wherever you may be!

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

it has arrived

After worrying most of the last few weeks about Christmas eve, after heavy concern last night and today, the worry has now lifted and the Christmas spirit has finally arrived. The staff is all prepared for tomorrow. The sanctuary is all set up, the volunteer briefing meeting went well, and the sermon is done.

Tomorrow I will wake up, God willing, and see all of you wonderful people at church to celebrate the birth of our Lord. I am posting before I go to bed, I won't have time to post tomorrow. But my worries are gone, I plan to sleep like a baby tonight and celebrate tomorrow.

Life is good. Glory to the new born king. Please be praying with me that our worship services tomorrow will inspire the faithful and reach many people with the good news of faith in Jesus Christ.

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I am nervous

Ok, here is the truth. I am nervous. It is the most wonderful time of the year and I am nervous. I always am. It took me years to not be nervous on Sunday morning. Now, when we have big crowds. I am sick to my stomach. I am an introvert in an extrovert's world. Most of the things that I do as a pastor, I had to learn how to be comfortable with.

It is not that I don't like Christmas, I do. I love it. It is that being around lots of people, all stuffed in together, makes me a nervous Nellie. I am nervous now, just thinking about it.

I will be glad when midnight hits on Christmas eve. It will be quiet again. Calm. Peace on earth. But, today we are making final preparations for six services and tomorrow is the busy day. Let's all celebrate with joy the birth of Jesus. But, please give room to the introverts in the place.

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

Monday, December 22, 2008

nice guy

I am a nice guy. I think I am. I try to be. I hope I am. So much of my understanding of the Christian faith condenses down to living out the principles of our faith. Being touched by the cross in such a way that I become a person of love and grace. 1 Corinthians 13 makes it really clear that if we have all of the religious stuff, but don't have love, we don't get it.

So, I hope I am nice to you and I hope that you think I am nice. It is at the core of who we are as Christians. Even when we have to do things that are unpopular (and I have to do such things sometimes} they can be done with kindness and grace.

So, last night, the Jazz band concert was awesome! Super. Wonderful. Several, many people commented on what a nice guy I was to allow this in our church.

The concert was awesome! Why wouldn't I allow it in our church? What pastor would not allow such a thing? People today are not looking for religiosity, they are looking for relevance and joy. The Christian faith does not have to be something that is all balled up in seriousness, guilt and ritual. Sometimes we miss the joy because we are taking ourselves way too seriously.

Remember, Jesus laughed, told stories and was filled with joy. He went to parties, drank wine and was accused of being a sinner. I think He would have enjoyed the concert last night. In fact, I think that God was pleased with the presentation (if I might be so bold as to speak for God- you know, even preachers need to be very cautious about this- we are not as smart as we think we are.)

So, I hope you enjoyed the concert. Seemed like about 500 people did to me. But don't worry about thanking me for allowing it, why shouldn't we allow it? Enjoy yourself. Kick up your heels. Celebrate life. It is all good.

And if you want to tell me I am a nice guy, well, ok, thanks. How we treat each other is pretty important. I love you all.

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

Sunday, December 21, 2008

no need for it

I went to the mall yesterday. So did everyone else. After all of the warnings about a slow shopping season, we all decided to go to the mall yesterday. I only went to meet my wife for lunch. My shopping has been done for weeks. Ha!

After we ate lunch, I am trying to figure out the best way out of the mall parking lot. This is no simple matter. I was in front of Applebees on the north side. I had tried a couple of approaches to the north and they were really backed up. I decided that the most successful idea might be to go all the way around to the back side over by Dillards and then Macy's and get in line to turn right onto 39th. It worked ok, I did get home finally.

The thing that is stuck in my mind is what the woman did that walked out in front of the cars by Sears. Without any real sense of where the cars were, she started out into the traffic lane with her 13-14 year old daughter. There was no crosswalk. The real problem came when, instead of walking straight across the traffic lane, she started walking diagonally through the cars.

I just stopped and watched her. I did not smirk, but I was thinking that she wasn't helping the situation. When she got by my truck, she raised her fist, turned her head toward me and shouted the Californy Howdy. I was surprised at her actions. I did not reply. I am sure that her daughter was really proud of her in that moment.

I am not sure why she did what she did. Maybe I did something wrong. Maybe she used to go to our church. The sad thing is, I have not been able to get her nasty act out of my head. There was no need for it. No need. No need at all.

And so it is with most of our negative behavior, there just is no need for it. Nothing is gained, all we do is hurt people. May each of us redouble our efforts to engage in random acts of kindness, there just is no need for the other.

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

Saturday, December 20, 2008


None of us are as smart as we think. A little bit of seminary, a little bit of listening to a particular preacher, reading certain books, studying this or that. We can easily think that we are in the "know." Fact is, God is mysterious. Bigger than, wider than our ability to understand Him.

As soon as we think we understand God, what we have actually done is condensed him down to fit into the human mind. It is a bit insulting to the Almighty, I think.

We stand in awe at a sunset, at the Grand Canyon, at the miracle of conception. We are left wondering how love, knowledge and the soul fit into the scheme of things.

God reminded Job pretty directly in the last few chapters of the book of Job. The Psalmist is repeatedly enthralled by the God who is bigger than, other than, and totally amazing.

" 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8

God does all these things so that we will stand in awe and worship him. We find our salvation, not in being right, but in being connected to the Almighty, Mysterious God.

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

Friday, December 19, 2008

one more time

One more time with comments on evil, and then we will move on.

One person commented:
"God would not design an entity that would punish his children for eternity if they didn't act right. This notion of a being, that we have humanized to have horns and a tail (or whatever) and reign over certain people souls for eternity doesnt fit in my logic."

My comment on that: Yes, God did not create an entity that was evil. All of creation was good. A few angels chose to rebel and become evil, just as some people choose to rebel and become evil. Hitler was not born evil, he chose a path that led there. And, Yes, we have to stop humanizing the devil and giving him powers that are equal to God.

A comment came in on this post that could not have said it better.......
"Paul's words in Romans 8:37-39 filled my mind. We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. . . nor angels. . . will be able to seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. I consider if Paul should or could have included "nor myself" when talking about being seperated from Christ Jesus? We are our own worst enemy or so it has been said. Peace :)"

If I hear what this brother is saying, it is that we have created theologies that sometimes give evil more room than should be there, with the result that we separate ourselves from God.

Alright, I am growing weary of thinking about all of this, which is part of my point. Christians should focus on the goodness and glory of God. His love never fails! We are in relationship with, and embraced by a loving father!

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

Thursday, December 18, 2008

a little bit more on evil

Well, I was a bit surprised, but I should not have been, about the numerous and varied responses that came in on yesterday's post.

Let me say that I love the fact that our church has a great variety of people in it with varied beliefs. This is what heaven will be like. Republicans, Democrats, rich, poor, progressive, liberal, conservative, all people that call on the name of Jesus will be there and I am glad that our church welcomes all and that we can learn from each other.

Follow the link below to some more thoughts that I have on a Christian theology of evil.

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

random devil thoughts

A few random devil thoughts today. Does your talk about the devil accurately depict his level in creation or have you made him an equal with God? The devil is a created being, he was Lucifer, an arch angel. If you must compare him to someone, he is an equal to Michael and Gabriel, other archangels.

The devil is not everywhere. This is not Biblical theology. God is, and only God is omni-present. To speak of the devil as if he is an equal with God is not only not true, but what we end up doing is spending our time glorifying evil instead of glorifying God.

If you are depressed, it is probably not because you are being oppressed by the devil. Humans get depressed sometimes. If your home really has demons in it, you could not live there. It would be like the Amityville Horror.

We get into the habit of speaking of evil in ways that are not Biblical. The result is that we spend too much time fighting enemies imagined instead of glorifying God. Is your home a place where God is King and Jesus is Lord, or is your home a place where the devil and his helpers reside. You must decide what you believe.

I will probably write more about this in the days to come. Your comments and questions are welcome of course. I just wanted to get you started thinking today about whose world it is. It is God's world, we are his children and the sheep of his pasture. Lets not cower in darkness, but let us live in the light of his glory and presence.

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


There is much being said about debt recently, and how to get out of it. Today, I will add my two cents worth.

First of all, I think it is fair to note that our economic problems, at every level, are traceable back to debt. High debt, bad debt, debt. Corporate debt, national debt, personal debt. There is too much of it on every level.

Sometimes good advice is hard to follow, but the easy way in life never brings the desired results. Here are my rules for managing debt in your personal life.

1. spend as little as possible. Avoid the more expensive path and take the frugal way every time that you can. Eat cheap. Rice and beans. When I cut up a polish dog in the rice and beans, they go over very well. You know what this means. Stop going out to eat so much, except for Maya's Mexican Bistro. Stop buying things that you do not need. If you are a compulsive shopper, start chewing your nails or popping your knuckles instead. spend as little as possible. Take a brutal inventory of your spending habits and make your bills smaller. Like the Aflac duck said, "smaller bill." That's where good money management begins.

2. when you must buy, buy smart. Do your homework. Check it out and compare. Buy only when you know you have the best deal.

3. Credit cards. Cut them up. Or at least, pay off the balance every month. That practice can even get you in trouble. Many a well meaning person has said they were going to pay them off, but then the balance starts to grow. Cutting them up is best. Pay with cash whenever you can. Wait on a purchase until you can pay with cash. It won't kill you to wait.

4. Borrow only for a home or a car. Avoid buying more home than you need. Easy to say. We have certainly sinned on that advice. Never ever take out a home equity line of credit. Your home is protected in a bankruptcy unless you have a home equity loan. If you do, according to Dr. Phil, you can lose your house to pay the second mortgage. Get a fixed rate on your home as soon as you can. Have a mortgage person keep an eye out for the best rates for you. We had a fellow watching rates and we refinanced a few years ago at 4.875%. Never take cash out of your home if you refi, just work for better terms and lower rates.

5. Cars. Stop buying cars all the time. Some people buy a car every time they need new tires. I have several friends in the car business and I wish them well, but you can lose a lot of money when you trade cars all the time. In most car transactions, the dealer makes money on you twice, once on the car you buy and once on the car you trade in. If you finance with them, they make money on you three times. I choose to drive cheap cars. 2000 Ford pick up. 97 Pontiac Grand Am. Alli has an 03 Neon that we bought for $1000 and fixed up. Cathy has an 05 Honda Civic. The battery died in it yesterday. Hmm maybe we should go buy a new car. Ha! But that is how some people think. When I was a kid, cars were worn out at 100,000 miles. Today, they are just getting started at that age. The thought that you should trade it in when your car gets 80,000 miles on it is silly. It is rich people thinking. What if it breaks down you say? well, that repair is still cheaper than a car payment. And what about the thousands that you will pay in sales tax. You know when your car is really dead. Keep it until it is truly dead, then buy used. You can lose a lot of money trading cars. Be careful.

6. Change your way of thinking. You don't have to keep up with the Jones's. You do not deserve that new outfit or that new car. The world doesn't owe you anything. Learn to live within your means. Manage your life or it will manage you. Joy is found not from getting stuff, but from making good decisions and living well.

7. Think spiritually about your life. My life is not about stuff, it is about being a child of God. We are all stewards in His world, and we have own nothing. We brought nothing into this world, and we will take nothing with us. Regarding money, John Wesley said, "make all you can, save all you can, and give all you can." When you manage your money, however much or little that is, instead of allowing it to manage you, you are much more likely to be able to save some and give some. To have saved for something, to be prepared for a bill is a great joy. To be able to give generously is even a greater joy. That is when money finally makes us happy, when we give it away. Just because we made it, doesn't mean that we have a right to spend it on ourselves. Live more simply so that you can help others. You will be a happier person if you do.

They say that you get what you pay for. This advice was free, so take it for what it is worth, but let me tell you, when I ignored the above principles, my life was a mess. To the degree that I have followed them, I have found great joy. I wish the same for you.

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

Monday, December 15, 2008

little things

Hebrews 12:15
"Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;"

Years ago, I thought of this scripture passage as a reminder of the pain that can be inflicted on a congregation when someone gets unhappy and cannot get over it. Their pain ultimately takes root and grows out into the congregation, hurting many.

This does happen, and this is why we need to guard our own attitudes and help heal those who are unhappy about something.

But, that is not why I am writing about this passage today. Today, I am simply applying this passage to my own life. Maybe there is an application for you as well. Here goes.

If I get upset about something, and do not, or cannot get it resolved, what happens? Often, a little bad attitude takes residence and then every thing is colored by that root of bitterness. The result is that things that would not otherwise bother me, do. Things that I normally would have power over, now have power over me. It makes it all too easy to be overcome or defiled by bad attitudes and oh so hard to see the good.

So, what to do? Nip it in the bud. Clear the air. Talk it out. Get past it. Relieve your soul of the burden of worry so that you can focus on positive things.

It is good advice: Don't miss the grace of God. Take care lest a root of bitterness spring up and trouble you, and by it many be defiled.

Start today with a clean slate.

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

Sunday, December 14, 2008

bell ringer

Yesterday I dropped by Sam's club. I occasionally sneak into Sam's or Costco for the $1.50 hotdog and coke.

Yesterday as I approached the door, I was coming from around the corner. I heard the identifiable sound of the Salvation Army Bell ringer. I instinctively got out a dollar, having been so conditioned by my pastor to do so. I rounded the corner, and to my surprise, the bell was being rung by a member of our church. I wanted to jump up and down and shout. I wanted to cry and bless them, and give thanks to God. But, not wanting to make a scene, I simply put in the dollar and said, "thank you."

Thank you. Thank you for ringing the bell. Thank you for helping the poor. Thank you for giving of yourself. Thank you for taking a few moments to make someone else's life a little better. Thank you for expanding the circle of care.

I wonder how many other friends from church saw you at Sam's yesterday? Maybe your willingness to ring the bell will cause others to do so. If that person from church can do it, maybe I can do it!

Maybe next year, we should pick a day and see if we can fill every bell ringing slot in lees Summit, Blue Springs and Independence with ringers from our church. Have you been ringing the bell? If so, please post a comment and tell the others what that experience has meant to you.
Thank you my dear friend for ringing the bell, it was such a blessing to run into you at Sam's.

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

Saturday, December 13, 2008


What makes you uncomfortable? Something I am sure. Last night I wore my high school letter jacket which was purchased in 1973 to our staff party. Well, needless to say, it doesn't fit very well anymore. I was uncomfortable in it.

I am uncomfortable in dress up clothes, extended family gatherings, elevators, airplanes and large groups of people. Well, you might say, then how do you preach on Sunday? Well, I had to get used to it. Sometimes it still bothers me. For years, I was sick to my stomach every Sunday morning. My counselor tells me that I am an introvert in an extrovert's world.

Sometimes I think it is important for us to live outside of our comfort zone. I have a hunch that the things that God calls us to are almost always outside of our comfort zone. That is because when we are in our comfort zone, we trust in ourselves, but when we step out, into uncharted territory, we must put our trust in Him. So, being uncomfortable is not all that bad.

Step out today and reach someone for God. Care about someone that is just beyond what you would normally have done. You will be glad that you did, and so will they.

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

Friday, December 12, 2008

I graduated

Last night I dreamed that I was graduating from high school. Maybe that is because Scott is graduating this year. Maybe it is because the staff Christmas party tonight has a high school reunion theme. Maybe it is because, who knows, it is only a dream.

Well, in the dream I was wearing a cap and gown. I was at my parents house and people were picking me up to go to the ceremony. In the dream I was absolutely giddy. Pure unadulterated happiness, and it all took place while I was asleep. Several times during the dream I started to wake up and I was just plain giddy. It was pretty funny.

Random story about my life: when I went to my high school graduation in 1975, I wore a pair of mirror sunglasses during the ceremony. Why? I don't know, I just thought it was funny. Well, after the walk thru, I received my diploma, shook the principal's hand and recessed out. While we are marching in line, recessing out, my mother presses through the crowd and grabs the glasses off of my face. She was furious. She didn't think that the sunglasses were very funny. Oddly, I still do. Ornery things that we did to our parents.

It's better to laugh than to cry. I wish you this day a bit of laughter, a bit of joy, a moment of giddiness.

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

Thursday, December 11, 2008

a note to Dad

Dad, last night I put up the Chris-m tree. I put on the old carols and I put up the tree. It was like every other year. I checked the bulbs and there were about six bad ones. Tyler the cat climbed the tree about half way up and then had to be rescued. Listening to the same old cd's that we used to listen to on Christmas always reminds me of you. King's College. St. Olaf. Awesome.

One thing of note about the tree going up this year- I did it by myself. Not the ideal, but what are you going to do? Scott was at work, the girls are at college and Cathy is in North Carolina. They are all going to help put on the ornaments, but I had to get the tree up. It is the Dad's job in the family. I know you know that.

Jenny called and she is coming home on Friday. We are going to bake some cookies together. I got a new recipe from Alice at church for a really tasty oatmeal cookie. I miss you Dad. I miss your grouchy "bah humbugs" during December. I didn't know it was so hard to be the Dad.

Well, enough of that. By golly we are going to have Christmas this year. The lights are on the house. The tree is up. The music is in the CD player. Cookies will be here soon. This year we are gonna have hope. I am going to remind them all of how good life is and what a blessing it is to celebrate family, life and faith. We're gonna have Christmas this year. I promise.

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Don't be robbed

Hey. It is the Christmas season. It is not the holiday season, it is Christmas time. My entire life, the world has been telling us to leave Christ out of Christmas. Ignore this advice. The world has no right to ask us to devalue Jesus. What would other religions say to us if we asked them to celebrate their holy-days without naming their God?

Go ahead, say it. Merry Christmas. Merry Christ-mas. Happy little baby Jesus in the crib, all snugly warm, you are gonna save people from their sin day.

Some will tell you that there are 14 shopping days left. Forget the shopping. There are 14 days left for you to say Merry Christmas. Say it today. Say it a bunch. Open with "Ho ho ho" if you like and then say Merry Christmas.

It is a time of celebration! Jesus Christ is born. Do not let anyone rob you of the joy or the meaning. Tell it like it is.

Merry Christmas. MERRY CHRISTMAS! Merry Merry Merry Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas!!!!

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

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

frozen dog

Hello. It's winter. You have to take better care of your pets. I saw a story on the news the other day about Jiffy, a border collie whose owner left him outside overnight in 6 degree weather. In the morning, the neighbor found the dog alive, but frozen to the sidewalk.

The dog was freed, the owner was jailed, and Jiffy is going to find a new home. Cold can be tough on pets.

Cold can also be tough on people. I don't mean the kind that you feel when you are walking from the back parking lot at church on Sunday. [see how I took the opportunity to include that in the story] I mean the kind of cold that people give you when they are angry with you. Instead of a smile, you get a snub. Instead of a hug, you get the cold shoulder.

Don't do it. I know you don't, you are great people, but don't you know that a cold heart can hurt both the person who is receiving the cold pricklys and the one who is giving them. Life is too short to misuse and love is too good to ignore.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good. Smile and hug someone today.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hard work

Keeping a positive attitude is hard work. You can know all of the things to say and do, all of the advice to give to yourself, and sometimes it is still hard.

You are working on something, doing the best that you can do, it is mostly good, but there is one complaint. Why should my brain get stuck on the one complaint? Even if you know that some people are just unhappy?

I think seeing the good has to include understanding a couple of things. First of all, life isn't always going to go your way. Yes, we know that. Second is this; sometimes for reasons that you are not even sure of, you are going to feel crummy. That doesn't mean that things are crummy. It just means that you feel like things are that way.

Chin up. Bear the struggle of feeling bad for no reason. It is still a great day, and Christmas is coming whether we like it or not! It is always better to fight a bad feeling, or to live with it as a temporary visitor that is soon to leave, than to give into it and become overwhelmed by it.

There is lots of good, regardless of what we may feel about a day. Stay with it. We are all getting better at this.

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

Sunday, December 7, 2008

what do I want for Christmas

My kids always ask. Dad, what do you want for Christmas. The answer has become the same for me, as it was for my own Father. "Nothin." Well, the kids want to do something nice for you. They even want to spend some of their hard earned money on you.

Well, this year, I had a bit of a revelation. My son Scott is a big MU fan and I was able to get ahold of two tickets to last night's big 12 championship game at Arrowhead. Does he want to go? Absolutely.

I told him, "Scott, this will be your Christmas present to me." He said, "Dad, I am not paying for the tickets. How can this be a present from me to you?" I said, "your time will be your present to me."

So we made plans, put on cold weather clothes, bought tailgate food, loaded up, drove to the stadium, found a great place to park, watched the pregame, the game and went home. It was a great time and will become a great memory.

Now I know what to say when the kids ask what I want for Christmas. I will say, "guys, I want you to plan something with me so that we can spend 4 hours together." A concert, a movie, shopping, helping the homeless, working in the yard [right!], anything that seems to be a good way for us to spend time together.

I don't care who is buying, that is not the point. I will buy. Their time with me is the real gift.

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

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Grace and change

Grace never stands alone, it is a part of the big picture.

Judgement tells me that I am a bad Christian or a bad person. I feel condemned. Grace accepts me where I am. I am loved by God.

Then something interesting happens. The change that others wanted to push on me, would never happen when they were pushing. I was resisting too much. But, when I am loved, when I am accepted just as I am, I can relax. I can heal. I can hear the voice of the spirit leading me.

That is when real change can happen. Grace heals people so that they can hear the spirit and follow in his time.

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

Friday, December 5, 2008

to really live

How many days have gone by, how many weeks, months and years. Periods of time in which we simply went through the motions. I would like to say that it is never that way for a Christian, but that would not be true. I would like to say that I never feel that way, but that would not be true either.

What causes it? We are busy. We get discouraged. We forget to celebrate. We stop saying thank you. We get disconnected.

We were not designed to live this way.

Yes you may have been hurt. You may be hiding in life. You may find relief in being busy, but this is not the ideal. From somewhere deep inside of us, our hearts still yearn to live. To love, to dance to smile. To come out from the shadows and embrace life. Imagine yourself doing just that. I sneak out from behind the cloud that I live behind, and I say "Hello world, hello God, hello life!"

In the Bible, the book of 1 Timothy speaks of the "life that truly is life." Jesus spoke of the abundant life. It is not our busy, crabby, go through the motions, wish it were different life. It is a life of joy that he has already given to us. How do we find it? Open your eyes, stop focusing on the unhappiness and grab ahold of the good. Listen to the birds. Feel the wind on your face. Hug a friend, make a new friend. Laugh, love, live.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, which was meant to be lived to the fullest. Be sure to see the good.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Yesterday I attended a seminar on hospitality. Among many thoughts that were helpful was this one: there is a difference between hospitality and fellowship. Fellowship is about me hanging with my buds, while hospitality is about all of us helping strangers become new friends. Fellowship connects me with mine, hospitality connects me with new folks.

Fellowship means that old friends share time together and enjoy each other's company. Hospitality means that I make sacrifices for someone new. We show hospitality by giving gifts. The best parking places, the best seats in the sanctuary [at the concert the best seat is the first row, in church the best seats are in the back.] Giving the gift of our time is another way that we show hospitality.

I think we have an awesome church, but I am continually running into people who are having trouble getting connected. Yes, they need to reach out and get involved, but we need to do everything that we can to show hospitality. Lots of people are looking for a church during the holiday season, lets be sure to show them a warm welcome, especially to those who have the "deer in the headlights, I am lost around here look."

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

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A quote from Sunday

Well, I enjoy all of the giving thanks. I hope you did too. Not to leave it behind, but I must move on to some other topics.

A quote from Sunday: Jonah 2:8 "those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs."

Wow. How many times have I read Jonah and I have totally missed those words. I am stunned as I consider their meaning.

Every time I have loved something too much, I missed God's grace. Every time that I called something more important, that was really less important, I missed some of the grace that God has for me.

I am not going to beat myself up with this verse, but it does give me a bit of a different perspective on the decisions that I make. They matter!

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

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sharing your thoughts

Did you make a list of 30 things that you were thankful for during November? Would you be willing to share it? If so, please post it to this blog as a comment.

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

Monday, December 1, 2008


I hope that you made a list during November of 30 things that you are thankful for. One of the things that I enjoyed the most about making the list is, it forced me every day to turn my thinking towards something good. Being thankful changed by attitude.

here is my list from the 30 days in case you missed it:

1 wife
2 people that led me to Christ
3 [lion's den man wrote]
4 time
5 sight
6 responsibility
7 home
8 things that grow
9 4 seasons
10 parents
11 a Sunday off
12 our country
13 other united Methodist pastors
15 humiliation
16 forgiveness
17 music
18 problems
19 faith
20 those who see the world differently than I do
21 food
22 breath
23 deer and other animals
24 hope
25 church staff
26 medicine
27 gratitude
28 random acts of kindness
29 love
30 sleep

Now, I hope you made a list. I have been thinking and wondering, after making a list of 30 things to be thankful for in November, could I, on Dec 1st, find another 30 things to be thankful for. I bet I can. Can you?

Here we go:
1. sunrises
2. the beach
3. cars that run
4. working with my hands
5. accomplishments
6. humility
7. Dave Templeman
8. healing of the heart
9. MP3 players
10. veterans and those who serve in our military
11. the quilters
12. coffee
13. God speaking in the wee hours
14. joy
15. Christmas
16. mission work
17. generosity
18. the ability to change
19. the postmaster in Independence
20. dentists
21. Novocain
22. shoes that fit
23. trusted friends
24, celebration
25. the ability to read
26. Sue Watson
27. to see you as a soul
28. warmth on a cold day
29 pets [don't tell them I said so]
30 learning patience

Should I try for another 30 tomorrow?
What are you thankful for. Grab onto gratitude. it will grab on to you.

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