Thursday, December 31, 2009

have a little faith

Well, I just finished the book, Have a little faith, by Mitch Albom. One of the book clubs is sponsoring a discussion time about the book on Monday, February 1st. Plenty of time for you to get the book, read it, and show up. I will be there to add my two cents.

I am not sure how to tell you what the book is about. It is about a man and his rabbi and his pastor. It is about a man and his faith. It is about the journey of human life. It is very good.

One quote that I liked,
"I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne'er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me."

I think the book is available in our bookstore at church, if not, I think you can get it about anywhere.

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

more snow

Ugh. It is pretty, but it is a pain. Everyone is tired of shovelling their driveway. Be careful if you go out driving. Stay off the road if you have rear wheel drive. If you do venture out, do everything at half speed. Almost every wreck, no, every wreck in the snow always boils down to someone was going too fast. Front wheel drive cars and 4x4's get around better in the snow, but they do not stop any faster. Slow down.

Take a hat, gloves, blanket, and water bottles with you. Be prepared. You never know what will happen. Maybe you will be safe, but you may have to stop and get out to help someone else.

If you need an 18 year old boy to shovel your drive, call Scott at 719-6963.

Enjoy the snow as you can. It is beautiful. Don't waste the day being mad at the snow. It is one of God's gifts of winter. Nothing lasts forever. Make a snow ball. Throw it at someone.

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

love

I have been thinking about it lately. And that is a good thing. Love is the most important thing that we do. It is the most valuable commodity that we share. At the end of the day, it is the thing that everyone wants. You may have a great car, a big house, a fat wallet, good health, even a long life, but if you are coming up short on love, it all rings a little bit hollow.

Anthony Demello has some very cool things to say about love. One of them is, "the lover creates the love." There are so many things to think about that statement, I am not sure where to begin. My grey matter begins to arc when I ponder those words....the lover creates the love.

As the fat cat jumps into my lap, I am at this moment reminded of a good illustration of this point. When we got the fat one [her real name is Princess Kiki] she hid from me. She hid from everyone. I can remember thinking, why do we feed a cat that will not sit on your lap. Well, I just kept working on that cat, getting in my cat scratchins as she would allow. Over time, she decided that I was ok. Now, this cat waits for me in the morning. I open the bedroom door and there she is. We walk together to the top of the stairs where we both sit down, and I give her the first cat loving of the day. The lover creates the love.

I really believe that we have the chance in this life to become friends with everyone. It's just a matter of how you treat them. The lover creates the love. Eventually they will come to it. Proverbs 16 says, "a wise man makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." The lover creates the love.

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

Monday, December 28, 2009

thoughts from the sermon

There were a few troubling thoughts in the sermon yesterday. Troubling to me.

"Do the gifts that I give to others have any real meaning or am I just fulfilling some sort of an obligation?"

"How many sweaters should one person own?"

"Consumption. Am I an over-consumer? Do I hurt people by how much I consume? Does my level of consumption keep me from giving gifts? Am I even brave enough to ask such questions and truly examine my life?"

"Perfume and jewelry and sweaters are not gifts, they are apologies for gifts. the only true gift is a part of one's self."

I guess it is a good thing when the preacher is still thinking about the sermon on Monday morning.

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

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Open for business

Yes. We are open for business. All four services. The coffee is on and the parking lot and the sidewalks are cleared.

I woke up this morning to 2 more inches of snow and a long list of church closings. Keep in mind, there are many that are staying open.

Come as you are. Wear your snow shoes. Messed up hair. No one cares. We are open for business. The presence of God is already there.

Hope to see you.

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

Saturday, December 26, 2009

real life

Well, I woke up about twenty minutes ago. I was having an awesome dream. I was in Royals stadium, in the outfield seats. A home run had been hit and I caught the ball. The next batter hit another home run and the ball bounced around and came over by me. I was just diving down, leaning down to get the ball, my hand was on the ball.............and I woke up.

What a happy moment. Two home run balls, back to back. But no, you wake up, and there is a foot of snow in your driveway and it is 12degrees. That is real life. I isn't always like what happens in your dreams.

I got out of bed. Even though I was not in Royals stadium, I got out of bed.

I believe that this is a gift of God. Getting out of bed and putting your game face on, even when, especially when real life is not as good as your dreams. It isn't always easy, but we have to learn to throw back the covers and put our feet on the floor one at a time. Any hope that we have of achieving something this day, begins with one single step in the right direction. Trusting in God's goodness is a big help too.

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

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

Wow. Well there are many things that we will remember and celebrate regarding Christmas 2009. Where do I begin?

Let's start with, I got up at 6:30am. My wife was already up and about. This is the first time in 23 years that I was not the first one awake on Christmas day.

Snow. A lot of snow. So much snow that for the first time in 25 years, we are not going to Cathy's parents for Christmas day.

Snow. I have to get down the shovel. By the way, if you want your driveway shoveled, I have an 18 year old son that is looking for work. 373-1525.

Services last night. Well, we had them. All six of them. Yes attendance was off, but not really that much. Cumulatively on the day, we still had just over 2,000 people in worship. The music was beautiful, the atmosphere was electric. Everyone that made the extra effort to attend will surely remember the Christmas eve of 2009. Regarding the message, one of my kids came up to me afterwards and said with tears, "Dad, I so needed to hear that." Well it doesn't get any better than that.

Today. Watch the news. Listen to Christmas music. Wait for the kids to wake up. [isn't that a switch. When they are little, they are in your room at 5am trying to get you up on Christmas day. Now at age 18, 20 and 22, they may sleep til 11:oo.] What else today. Shovel the sidewalk. Eat the food. Eat some more. Take a nap. Watch the movie, the Christmas story. Give thanks to God for the many many blessings.

I want to take a moment to wish each of you the Merriest of Christmases. The kind of Christmas that will last beyond today and stretch into tomorrow and the rest of the year. You and Jesus, with something really good going on. God's love, pouring into your heart, and a year filled with love pouring into you and out thru you to others.

Merry Christmas!

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

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I went to church

Last night I got to go to Church. It is not very often that I just get to go and sit in church. Last night I went to the first ever meeting of the Beacon UMC at the SAC [Sports Activity Complex] in Independence. The owner of the SAC is allowing the new church to meet there for free. What a blessing. The space was decorated so nicely. There was a parking lot attendant, a door man, greeters and ushers. The band was great. There was a giant screen for the powerpoint. Pastor Dave and Donna H did a great job with the message. Holy Communion was served. Over 100 people were in attendance.

I was so happy to be there. So happy for the new church start. So pleased that your new church is off to a good start. So glad to just be able to go to church and worship.

You all are invited to attend Christmas Eve services today at Woods Chapel. Regardless of the weather, our schedule will be as follows: 10am, 4pm, 530pm, 7pm, 830pm and 11pm. Remember, there is always a special feeling when we make the effort to attend church when the weather is bad. God bless you my friends, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve

A time of love, a time of peace, and for preachers, a time of high pressure. I remember at a previous appointment, it was my first Christmas Eve there. They had never had a Christmas Eve service. They told me, [they were joking, sort of] "if you want to stay here another year, we are going to have a Christmas Eve service at our church."

Christmas Eve is the time that the most visitors visit the church. More so than on Easter, Christmas Eve is the time when people are looking for a church. I remember when I used to deliver all of the mugs, we were still in the old building, I think we had 25 families visit. That was as many as we had at that time in the previous 6 months.

So, if you are a preacher, you know what I am talking about. Lots of expectations. Everybody has their extended family with them, and there is always someone who says, "hey preacher, I am bringing my mother to Christmas Eve service, and it better be good." So if you are a preacher, you need to find some quiet time today and tomorrow before the service. Listen for the voice of the angel. Listen to the Silent Night. In spite of the hurry and scurry, it is still there.

Speaking of pressure, my brother Dave O is leading his first Christmas service at the new church, the Beacon UMC. That service is tonight at 6pm at the SAC in Independence, 17800 Holke Rd. Please come out tonight to support our new church start.

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I used to go to church

There are tons of people out there with this story.........

I used to go to church. But I quit. The word quit may be a bit strong. I gradually leaned away. I got tired of all of it. There was something at the place that just was not clicking. Too many power struggles. Too much humanity, not enough God. Judgement and rejection at the house of grace. Pretense. Oh, I hated the pretense. It became more painful to go, then to stay home.

I used to go to church. They got away from the spirit. Everyone seemed to be going through the motions. They put God in a box. If you didn't agree just right with the prevailing thought of the day, you were scorned. For having a different opinion. At the place where I expected to find love, I found too many other things.

Well, this year, I am thinking about going back. I think about it every year during the Christmas season. I think about sneaking in and finding a place to sit anonymously. I wonder if it will be different than what I remember. I wonder if the people that I meet will be nice to me. I wonder if the pastor's message will be filled with love and grace or something else.

This year, I think we will try that one church on the hill. You know, the one with the green roof. I have a few friends that go there and I hear that it is a good place. I have been disappointed so many times in the past, I sure hope that we will be welcomed, and that we will find God there.

This is the story of so many. If this is your story, come on in and give the church with the green roof a try. See if God's love is still at work in the world.

If this is not your story, please be aware that there will be hundreds of folks at church on Christmas eve that this is their story. Greet them. Welcome them. Seek out the stranger. Let the warm glow of Christ's love pour out of your face. Be a part of the ministry of reconciliation.

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

Monday, December 21, 2009

jazz band concert

I really enjoyed the concert last night. If you missed it, you probably won't miss it next year. This was an awesome night of celebration.

One of the things that I enjoyed was a statement by one of the emcee's for the evening who said something like this, "you have been to many Christmas programs at other churches, this won't be anything like those." Everyone laughed. I think I know what he meant. Some programs are very traditional and very "spiritual." There are a few others that are full of guilt. The jazz band program was all about joy and celebration.

Let me tell you,
that,
is very spiritual.

Everything does not always have to be heavy to be good. I think Jesus would love a program of joy and celebration. I sure did.

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

Sunday, December 20, 2009

a great gift

Yesterday I visited the home of a couple in our church. They were having an open house for their wedding anniversary, only they did not know it. It was a surprise to them and for them. Someone loved them so much that they threw a surprise anniversary party for them.

Here is the kicker.......it was their children, who are in college that threw the party! Imagine that, your kids who are in college love the parents so much that they send invites to their friends and create a surprise celebration.

Amazing.

I hope my kids don't read this. I would never want them to throw a party for the parents simply because someone else's kids did.

I imagine those parents going to bed last night, commiserating on the day. Giving thanks for the amazing gift of love that they received. That is a good thought.

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

Saturday, December 19, 2009

dogs are not man's best friend

At least not this dog. He is out playing in the yard yesterday. He will not come inside. I call to him from the deck to come in. It is getting dark. It is getting cold. He doesn't care. He wants to run around, bark at his friends and eat who knows what. He has a new little jacket that he is wearing and he thinks that the other dogs think he is cool when he wears it.

I am honest with him. He needs to come in because his mom is coming home. Now I am telling you, he knows who his mom is, and he is always very excited to see her. She has been gone all week and I think saying the word "mom" will get him in. He does not budge.

[the picture to the left was taken later after i got the bum in the house, it is Lou the dog wearing his new jacket, waiting for him mom to come in thru the door. he has not seen her for 4 days and he can hear her in the garage.]
Now, back to the story........He won't come in for his mom, So, I take out the big guns. His brother, Mr. Scotty is coming home from college. They are fast friends. I call to Lou the dog and tell him that Scotty is coming home. That should do it, and he does make a feinting movement toward the stairs but then decides better of it and actually sits down in the grass.

I have used my best weapons. Mom is home and Mr. Scotty is home. The dumb dog will not come in. So, I utter the secret word: "treat." He immediately breaks off the games with the neighbor dogs, leaving them without even saying goodbye. He spits out whatever is in his mouth and breaks on a dead run for the stairs. Bowling over me and any cats that are in the way, he stands whimpering by the treat cabinet. That cabinet has many other things in it, the humans call it the pantry, but for Lou the dog, it is the treat cabinet.

I get the special treat out, he does his little dance. I give him the treat. He wolfs it down in about 4 seconds. But, at least now he is inside where he needs to be when his mom and mr. Scotty come home. But what is the deal? This is man's best friend? No, for this dog at least.....it's all about the treat. He is a bum. He is nobody's best friend, it is all about his stomach. But he does provide some interesting entertainment from time to time.

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

Friday, December 18, 2009

joy

Joy. I awake today with joy.

The joy of seeing an old friend. The joy of having someone that you can say anything to. My wife is coming home today. The joy of having those in your life who forgive your sins. The joy of children that are starting to get it. The joy of a less commercial Christmas. The joy of pastor friends. The joy of the persnickety, elusive, reclusive cat that for some reason today wants to sit on my lap.

The joy of having a church home. The joy of watching people being generous. The joy of someone gathering around because you are simply nice to them. The joy of FPU. A cup of coffee. Disciple Bible Study. The joy of so many people that have called me this season and want to help families in need.

There is so much good. I awake today with joy on my mind, and I thank God for that.

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

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I hear you don't have a church

I hear that you are a reader of this blog, but that you don't have a church that you attend. Let me take a moment today to invite you to Woods Chapel.

I know that you, like 80% of the rest of America, have been hurt or guilted by some church in the past. At Woods Chapel, we do not deal in guilt. Jesus did not attempt to win people by guilt or fear. It is a bad motivator. It is human attempts to manipulate people. The message of Jesus is so strong, so powerful, that it wins people simply because it is such good news. No guilt or fear is needed.

You are loved. You are forgiven. You are free. You are not required to do anything. God already did it all. What you do at church is all based on your loving response to this God who fills you and leads you, from the inside out.

You don't have to have the right clothes. People at Woods Chapel dress in all ways. No one will even notice what kind of car you drive, what kind of clothes you wear, or what your tattoo says.

Whatever worries or hurts from the past have kept you from attending church, I pray that you give this place a try. There is a joy that comes from being a part of a great group of amazing people. The music is awesome. The mission work continues to astound me. We have excellent programs for children and youth. The thing that you may have been missing in your life, you will find in the hearts of the people and in the presence of Christ.

Please come give us a try. Be sure to introduce yourself to me when you visit, because I want to personally welcome you.

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

missions

Missions: helping others in need. Living outside of one's self. Being other centered for the sake of Christ.

Missions is not something that the missions people do. It is not something that the missions department does. Missions is what all Christians do.

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

the generous life

Anytime I tell a story in church about a generous act that some person did, there is always someone else who says, "well, I could never do that." No, I cannot give that much money. No, I was not here when a certain sacrifice was made in the past. No, I was not able to adopt a child for Christmas. Such things people will say. All reasonable comments, and all true.

Well, let us take generosity out of the hands of the extravagant and put it into the hands of simple sincerity. No one cares about the size of a gift. No one judges another by how impressive a particular act may be. The widow's mite.

Generosity is an act of the heart. If it is not of the heart, then it is not a generous act. Every person can act generously. To give your time. To bake cookies for another. To share a meal with a friend. To shovel the snow off someone else's porch. To put the magic blue water in their car for their windshield. To loan someone a pair of gloves. To smile at them and hug them. Smiles and hugs are free and they are abundantly available in a generous heart.

Do not worry about big or small, quiet or noisy. Just act out your living in a generous fashion. As God has acted on our behalf in Christ, we can act to touch others. Begin with something small. That is where it all starts. A willing heart, making room for the comfort of another.

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

Monday, December 14, 2009

cantata

A great big thank you to everyone who sang in the cantata or played in the orchestra. Cathy and I enjoyed it so very much. I know this is a great deal of work to do each year. I liked what Kris said at the end, "this is the music department's gift to each one in the audience."

Thank you for the gift. Thank you for the beautiful sounds and wonderful message. And somebody thought that the attendance would be light. Ha! Great attendance, great night. What a blessing.

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

Sunday, December 13, 2009

a blessing

Over the past 52 years, I have seen almost every Christmas special at least once. Most of them, it has been years since I have watched them.

This year, since the sermon series is touching one of the great Christmas specials each week, I have been watching them all.

It has been such a blessing to watch the Grinch, charlie brown, and the Christmas Carol [1951 version with Alistair Sim].

These stories speak to the hearts of people. That is why they are famous. Be sure to take some time this year to sit down and watch them all. It's a wonderful life. The Christmas story. Joyeaux Noel. You will be blessed by the work of God through these movies and TV specials.

Make the time to do it. Don't miss the blessing.

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

Saturday, December 12, 2009

hacked

Well, I don't know what to think or do about this, but there is something funny going on with this blog. Yesterday when I posted, "the end of winter" everything looked fine. Today as I look at the post from yesterday, the word "degrees" is highlighted in green and it looks like a link. Don't click on it. I don't know what it is. When I hover my cursor over it, it appears to be a link to something with the university of Phoenix.

Now is it possible that somehow the word "degree" has been obsconded by the University of Phoenix so that when it appears, it makes a link to their program? I guess that is possible, but I just don't know.

Please just read the posts and don't click on any links in the text that seem strange. I did not put the link there and I will try to figure out how to get rid of them.

[update- I think I have figured it out. The group that hosts this blog used to offer an ad program that you could select to be a part of. I never did. I did not want the readers of this blog to be solicited with anything. Now it appears that the ad program is being forced onto those who write blogs. I will keep trying to get it removed, but in the meantime, don't click on any links in the body of the text.]

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

Friday, December 11, 2009

the end of winter

When I was young I liked winter. The colder the better. It might be 30 degrees and I would not even wear a jacket. I loved to throw snowballs and sled down the hills. I prayed for snow days.

Now, the world is different. When it is 70 degrees I want a jacket. I never leave the house in the winter without jacket, hat, gloves and all. I have a Russian winter hat that this so ridiculous looking, but I don't care because it is so warm.

These days, this is the best thing that I can say about winter. It is all going to be over March 1st. Just hang on for a few months and March will be here, then all the snow will be gone and the weather will turn a corner.

In the mean time, I try to enjoy the beauty of the snow and thank God for being alive even when it is so very cold.

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

Thursday, December 10, 2009

suicide

To the one who is thinking about this...... I beg you to stop and think. Think about the fact that things can and will get better. Think about all the good that you will miss. Think about the empty hole that you will leave behind. The sorrow that others will feel is immeasurable. We humans are all in this dance together and when someone intentionally quits, the collective soul of the community is hurt. We can help you. Reach out to a friend. Reach out to anyone. Reach out to me.

See. See. SEE. See the good. See the beauty of the snow. Watch the children playing. See the bird on the tree branch. Listen to it's song. Sit with a pet, scratch it's back. Go for a walk. Think of everything that you will see, think of everything that you will do. Think of everything that you can be.

You are wanted. We want you to live. I want you to live. Think, See, Listen.

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

bell ringing

This Saturday, Dec 12th our church has 4 spots open for anyone that wants to ring the bell for the Salvation Army. Our shifts are at Walmart in Lees Summit, 2 hour shifts from 12-2; 2-4; and 4-6.

If you would like to help, please send me an email at jeffb@woodschapelchurch.org

As you know this is one of my favorite things to do. It is such a joy to see the happy faces of people who are helping the needy. It is so cool to see parents teach their children to be generous. It is also a very very easy way to help the least of these.

Let me know if you want to help on Saturday.

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

quiet time

One of the things that I love about Christmas is the opportunity that it affords to sit by the tree. No TV. No music this time. Just the wind on the windows, the tick tock of the clock. No worries, no thoughts particularly.

Morning, evening, day or night, it works all the same. Just a sense of thankfulness. For today. For daily breath. For Christmases past. For the lights on the tree. Light is pretty cool to look at. The simple twinkle of a star in the sky, a light on the tree, a lighthouse on a rocky shore.

I am hopeful that you have a chance to sit by a Christmas tree and wonder. We are never too old to wonder. Wonder in amazement of the goodness of God, the glory of God, and the mysteries of God's world.

I am thinking too much now. I am going to go back to the quiet of the tree. Days go better with a little time of quiet.

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

Monday, December 7, 2009

your church

Your church really shone bright yesterday. What nice crowds attended all of the services. The branch has a good crowd and the pancake breakfast thrown by the new church was well attended.

In the evening 600+ came out for the children's pageant. It was awesome. So many angels and shepherds. Interestingly, 3/4 of the children in the pageant were not even born when this building was built.

I am so pleased to see this wonderful event each year as it takes our children through the story of Jesus' birth. It could not have been better.

After the pageant, the night in Bethlehem was packed. Every tent had oodles of children who were participating in candle making, rug weaving, and more. One of the greatest things that a church can do for it's children is to instill in them a sense that their church is a good place.

Thank you one and all for everything that you did to make yesterday awesome and everyday at WCC a blessing.

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

Sunday, December 6, 2009

sunday morning

The Sunday Morning gig. Since I only work 1/2 day a week, I thought I might tell you what I do on Sunday morning.

Wake at 545. Pray. Shower. Dress. Make a pot of coffee. Collect pile of stuff to take to church. Drive to church, listen to "Religion on the Line" on 710am radio on the way. Park out by the dumpsters. Walk thru the deer and the cold to the east door.

Unlock east door and turn on lights. Open my office and fire up the computer. print the sermon. Go make a pot of coffee. Turn on the WCTV TV's. Adjust volume. Open office and turn on copier. Check mail.

Go back to office. type blog. Answer any emails that must be answered on Sunday morning. Review sermon. Line by line. Does it make sense. God is this is? [it tends to be a bit late for that question, but you always have to ask it.]

Go get a cup of coffee. Meet with media person. Discuss slides and scriptures to post during sermon. Go thru check list to leave office and go to sanctuary. Things that I must not forget: Bible, pen, sermon notes, props if any, water bottle if needed, baptismal certificates if any, new member cards if any, prayers, keys, Rolaids, halls, and a name tag.

Go to sanctuary at 740. Sound check. Pray for all who will sit in the pews that day. go over bulletin to make sure I have all the announcements ready.

Shake hands before 8am. Lead service. Preach. Service over, shake hands, bathroom, water fountain. Back to sanctuary for 905. Shake hands before service. Lead service. preach. Service over, shake hands, bathroom, water fountain. Back to sanctuary for 1010. Shake hands before service. Lead Service. Preach. Service over, shake hands, bathroom, water fountain. Back to sanctuary for 1115. Shake hands before service. Lead service. Preach. Service over, shake hands. Often a baptism at 1215.

Back to office. put stuff away. Drive home. On the way home, thank God for the awesome opportunity of being able to share his love with others. Lunch and a nap. 6 1/2 days off, then we do it all over again next Sunday.

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

Saturday, December 5, 2009

patience

Patiently waiting for the fulfillment of our dreams. That is where I find myself sometimes. I remember in 97 when we were just talking about a new building on the highway. One of the things that we dreamed about was a walking trail around the pond. A place where people could go for a walk amid the trees and find a place to sit and welcome the presence of God.

I was so excited a few years ago when the walking trail was cut in and mulched. Gardens sprung up along the trail. This year a fountain was installed in the pond and the mulch on the trail was replaced with asphalt.

There are plans in place for the completion of the trail, along the north end of the property to the back corner by the Cancer Center, south along the east fence, finally making a right turn and ending back at the parking lot.

Future pieces of the trail will include [if we are patient] benches and stations of the cross and a prayer labyrinth.

One of the pieces that was always present on the drawings of the walking trail was a shelter house. Over the years the name shelter house has been taken over by the name "pavilion." Well, patience pays off, for today, the pavilion is being erected. Awesome! Cool! It may take a few Saturdays, but it is going to be great.

Take some time, even in the cool winter months, to enjoy the trail, the gardens and the fruit of the years of labor.

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

Friday, December 4, 2009

several times a week

Several times a week I talk to people who are down, worried, concerned, depressed. God is going to get them, they think. They have not been good enough. They have been trying but they just know that it is not enough.

If you have ever felt this way, let me ask you a question. Is this how you want your children to feel? No. You know it's not. Absolutely not. You want your children to do the opposite. You want them to get up in the morning and be filled with joy. You want them to know that they are loved, even when they do dumb things. You want your children to celebrate the goodness of life.

Is our heavenly Father so different?

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

Thursday, December 3, 2009

reflections on my life

The following stuff is what woke me up the other morning.............

When I am gone, tell them these things.

Tell them that the house was decorated with blue and green outdoor lights at Christmas, with one red bulb near the top. Just because life is like that.

Tell them that I was the pied piper of animals. When I went to the basement they would all follow me and pile on in hopes of a good nap. I could scratch a cat and send it to heaven. I will be a cat masseuse in my next life.

Speaking of cats, tell them we had a cat named "the fat one."

Tell them that I loved Anthony Demello stories. In fact tell them one, tell them the one about the ghosts and the medals or the one about the sheeply lion.

Tell them that I loved people. I wanted to love them as God loves them and help them see the joy of being alive.

Tell them I loved softball. Have one of the Armadillos tell about the time I was bracing for a collision at the plate and the runner jumped completely over me and landed with both feet on home plate.

Tell them that I once beat Robin Fisher in bowling.


Tell them that I loved afternoon games at Royals stadium with friends.


Tell them I was a tool guy. I had eight hammers and every variety of tool that God had ever invented.


Tell them that Bruce Letner taught me how to replace disc brake pads on cars and that I got pretty good at it, especially after I bought the special tools.

Tell them that I loved jokes. Bad jokes. Me and Gayle Kelley. Tell them about Paddy O'Furniture and Napoleon's thanksgiving.

Tell them that I loved to paint houses.



Tell them that I loved Kansas City. St. Louis. Chicago. Ft. Lauderdale. San Francisco.


Tell them that I loved the mountains, the beach, palm trees. Swimming pools with fountains. Hot tubs.


Tell them that I loved Rob Bell and Hubert Neth. Tell them that they made me a better man.


Tell them that I loved to help big tough men learn to show the warmth within their hearts.


Tell them that I love a pickup truck and all of the things that you can do with one.

I loved cars. It was a sickness. I would buy and old car and spend a year fixing it up and then would not know what to do with it. I love mustangs and motors and brakes and tires. Body work, oil changes, brake jobs and wiring.


Tell them that I loved music. The Messiah. Fernando Ortega. Old time rock and roll. Bob Seeger, ELO, REO Speedwagon, Pink Floyd, and one we go.


Tell them that I loved trees. Oak, maple, red bud, weeping cherry, japanese maple, ash, aspen pine and more. I love them all.

I love redwood trees. Yosemite. John Muir woods. Henry Cowell Redwoods state park. My soul comes out of my body when I walk among these giants. Scatter my ashes there, I want to be apart of helping these beautiful specimens of the greatness of God grow even taller.

Tell them that I loved to plant stuff. Sedem, tulips, ajuga, english ivy, indian grass, mums, tomato plants, and the list goes on. Tell them that when you plant things and watch things grow, you are participating in the work of God.

Tell them that I loved cable cars, morning fog, highway 1, the old time amusement museum, Scoma's, the golden gate bridge, Alcatraz, Pier 39 and watching the boats on the bay.

Tell them that I loved the wine country, and I didn't even drink the wine. Well I did one time, when I was 17, but that is another story. I love the rolling hills, the beautiful vineyards. The smell of the air in the morning, and being there with Cathy.

Tell them that it was a privilege to be a pastor. To love people and to try to help them come to believe that God loved them.

Tell them that my greatest joy was to see the lights come on in their souls.


Tell them that I learned. I grew. I changed. I wanted to be all that God had called me to be.


Tell them that I had a growing desire to help the poor. To go to the places where people had nothing, and give them food and water. Tell them that God increased the compassion in my heart for those who are the "least of these."

Tell them that I would rather give away that junk than have a garage sale. The joy of giving is worth more than the small amount of money we would make.

Tell them that I so valued my friends. In my early years, friends did not come easily, so I deeply valued each of my friends.

Tell them thank you.


Tell them that I loved your mother.

Tell them that no man was ever more proud of his children.


Tell them that I am not afraid to go to the next life. It is already here, now, all around us. Eternity is just into the next dimension. We will all go there sometime, and I have been privileged to see enough of it in this life, that it is just going to feel like going home, and I assure you, I will be there, waiting for you.


When I am gone, tell them these things.

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

compelled to write

I woke up at 4:30am and could not go back to sleep. Thoughts were rolling through my mind. I could not stop them. I had to write. I got up and wrote was was going through my mind.

When you are constantly looking for inspiration, this is a good thing. Sleepless nights with thoughts on your mind to write about are good things. May God give me many more of them.

I will post what woke me up tomorrow. It may not mean much to you, but it sure did fill my mind in the early hours. Today I just want to celebrate the joy of being alive and being awake with joyful thoughts.

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas

Nothing can keep Christmas from coming. The Grinch tried to stop it, but it is unstoppable. My entire family was home over the weekend, now they are gone.

I am alone, but I am pressed. It is time. The tree must go up. So, I put up the tree by myself. Well, two cats helped. Anytime that you put out a ladder, the cats show up to climb it.

I put on my favorite Christmas music. King's College singers. I got the tree out and I set it up. Alone. But that is ok.

We are never really alone if we know what Christmas is about.

Don't let anything steal your Christmas joy. Don't let anything get in the way of the most wonderful time of the year.

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

Monday, November 30, 2009

tis the season

Tis the season for really big crowds at church. Thank you for attending, and thank you for being faithful to your congregation.

However, due to December crowds, especially at the 10:10 service, please consider one of the following options.....
1. attend the 8:00 service.
2. attend the 9:05 service.
3. attend the 11:15 service
4. attend the 10:10 branch service in the gym.

Every time I ask folks to consider such things, someone always says, "hey, why is my pastor asking me to leave the service that I prefer?" Please do not look at it that way. Please consider making a change so that we can make room for others. Please remember that others sacrificed in the past to make room for you.

Thank you for being committed to our mission of connecting people to Jesus Christ.

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

Sunday, November 29, 2009

bell ringing report

Yesterday I rang the bell from 10-12noon. I got to see some cool cars drive by. A couple of Mustangs and one of the new Camaros. Cool.

The weather was great. 50 degrees. I counted how many people would walk by. 30 walked by until the first person gave. Then it was pretty busy. Lots of givers to the red kettle. In fact, there were lots of bills. Ones. Fives. And one woman put in a 20$. Her husband said, "hey, that's my allowance."

I was so pleased at the generosity of the people. Parents teaching their children to give. Awesome. Young, old, rich, poor. Lots of different kinds of people coming together to help the needy.

Time well spent.

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

Saturday, November 28, 2009

ring the bell

Tis the season to ring the bell for the Salvation Army. There is nothing that is easier to do. Nothing that is more fun to do. And there are no more deserving people than those served by the SA.

Today I am ringing from 10-12 at the Walmart in Lees Summit.

Bill P from church has reserved the entire day at that Walmart on Dec 12 for friends from WCC to ring. If you want to ring that day send me an email. If you want to ring any other day go to www.ringkc.org

It is a great feeling to do something for someone else.

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

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving

And the world stops. For one day each year, the world stops. At least the world in the USA stops. There is no school, there is no mail, every business is closed. This is serious. Even McDonald's is closed.

It is thanksgiving day. Like it or not, it is a day set aside to give thanks to Almighty God.

It is a day set aside. Everything stops for thanksgiving. That is because you cant be on the run and be thankful. You have to stop and look the person in the eyes and say thank you.

I hope you did that yesterday. I hope you can do it everyday in the future that God gives you.

Stop. Set everything else aside. Look into God's eyes. Say thank you.

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday and Thursday

Well, yesterday, Wednesday was wonderful. The anticipation of the thanksgiving day. People get off work early. The restaurants are full. It's like a Friday night. Everyone is off tomorrow. The grocery store is full. Find a place to park if you can, get your groceries, and get out of Dodge.

The holidays are here and everybody is rushing around. The line at Burger King has 11 cars in it. Maybe friends will call you to come over to play trivia. That is like winning the lottery. Maybe random relatives will come over. They're not perfect, but they are related to you. They are who God has given us in this life.

We have 100, no 1,000 things to be thankful for. Good kids. A wife that loves me. Wonderful friends. Plenty of food on the table. People that help you see the good. There is so much good.!

Give thanks. If you can find one thing to be grateful for, then everyday becomes Thanksgiving.

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

change

I read something noteworthy yesterday: That which we need most, may come in the form of words that we do not want to hear.

That is so true of human nature. It is hard to hear things that we do not like. It is hard to be honest with ourselves, to take that "fearless moral inventory." But the ability to do so contains within it, the seeds of greatness. The unexamined life is not worth living.

Great people usually welcome new thoughts and savor them. Painful as they are some times to our life paradigms, taking in those challenging thoughts always makes us better.

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

thanksgiving

Well. Tis the season. Are you thinking about what you are thankful for?

I saw a flock of 16 turkeys running around the other day.

Dave Owsley gave a wonderful sermon on Sunday. Beautiful decorations have gone up all over the church. The congregation's response to the thanksgiving food drive was almost 500 grocery bags full. The adoption of needy children for Christmas has begun, with more needy children than ever, but I know we will pick up every single one.

My children are home. The turkey is in the fridge. My neighbor is putting pressure on me to put up our Christmas lights. He got the jump on me this year, usually I get mine up first.

I actually know what the sermons are going to look like all through the month of December, including Christmas eve. That is great news! It can be such a nervous time.

I visited a man in the hospital today who reminded me that we should be thankful simply to be alive. I agree. We have much to be thankful for.

If you made a list, where would you stop? Friends. Family. Love. Grace.

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

Monday, November 23, 2009

travel mistakes, part two

So this is a couple of weeks ago. Cathy is dreading leaving town again. We stay up late and tell stories on Sunday night. She falls asleep in the chair. She was sleeping so soundly, that I decide to leave her there.

Now, she had told me that she had to fly out at 7:10am the next morning, but it doesn't occur to me that she might miss her alarm if she is sleeping in the chair.

Well, about 2:30 she comes upstairs and she is unhappy that I did not get her set up with her alarm in her comfy bed. So, she sets her alarm and wakes up when it goes off, two hours later at 4:30am. Morning routine follows: Shower, dress, pack, coffee, leave for airport.

She is driving to the airport and there is a big wreck on the Missouri river bridge. Traffic is backed way up. She is tired and stressed. She only got 4+ hours of sleep and some of that was in the recliner. Now she is stuck in traffic and worried that she is going to miss her flight. She calls in to Delta Airlines. Now, when I do this, I get a recording, forever. She has a special number since she is one of their favorites. A human being answers the phone and she asks him to check her in for her flight so that she can go straight to the gate.

He says, "Mrs. Brinkman, I have to tell you, I don't have you scheduled for a 7:10 flight this morning, I have you for a 7:10 flight tonight.

She got up at 4:30 am and drove to the airport for a 7:10pm flight. Ha! When I got up I was surprised to see her sitting in the same recliner where I had left her the night before. I asked her if she had missed her flight, she fessed up.

We had a good laugh. I hope that you do as well. Be sure and ask her about these stories.

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

Sunday, November 22, 2009

travel mistakes, chapter one

So my wife has a trip last week. Denver, Nashville, KC. Her Nashville site is in Germantown. Are you onto this yet?

She flies to Denver and does her stuff there. Then she flies to Nashville, rents a car, hooks up the gps and the gps tells her that it is 3 hours to her site in Germantown.

Hmmmm. Germantown is not a suburb of Nashville, it is a suburb of Memphis. My wife has flown into the wrong town!!

So she has to drive to Memphis, 3 hours, stay in the hotel that she has made reservations at, and then work the next day. Drive back to Nashville 3 hours, turn the car in, and fly home.

Simple travel planning mistakes. Wrong town. Long drive. It gets better. Chapter two is tomorrow.

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

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mercy

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
or
Blessed are those who hold a heart of grace for they shall obtain grace.

Mercy rejoices over judgement.
I do not judge you.
I do not condemn you.
I do to you as I would have others do to me.
Granting mercy to others, frees us.
I release you from your prison.
If you are holding anyone hostage, release them.

Mercy rewrote our lives.
God is his goodness, granted to us the gift of grace.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

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

Friday, November 20, 2009

home

Today the girls will come home for Thanksgiving break. Scott has class next week, but will be home by 4pm Tuesday. I am looking forward to having everybody around. It is such a strange thing to have them gone. We spent so many years together, it will just feel "right" to have them back.

If we can take any clues about God from human life, God is probably also pleased when we come home. When we stop by and spend some time with him.

I had a thought a few weeks ago. We talk in terms of being with God, that we have to do something or another to be closer to him. We have to stop our lives and go find him, or go catch up with him. What if, instead of looking forward to some time in the future when we were going to make time for God or catch up with him, we brought him into our daily world.

If we believe God is everywhere, then we don't have to wait until we get home. We don't have to wait until we have more time. We can drag God into our every day existence. Now that is kind of a funny way of looking at it, because we don't have to drag him to us. He is already with us. All around us. Now. Whatever you are doing, where ever you are, God is there.

Renew the relationship. Become aware of what is true and real. You are never alone. The loving God stands by your side every moment.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

prayer

Luke 6:9-12
9Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?" 10He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus. 12One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.

Jesus had a bad day, so he went up the mountain to pray. He prayed all night long. Don't know for sure, but I guess he prayed that his father would heal his heart. The pharisees had worked him over. I bet he prayed for his disciples. I bet he just listened some, and took in the goodness and glory of his father.

When we pray, it is great to pray for others. But we have to let God heal our hearts. We have to spend some time just listening and soaking it in. Then we have to go back down the mountain and re-engage with life.

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

the light

The light at the end of the tunnel. I saw it for a moment yesterday.

Something happens to your kids when they turn 14. They won't kiss you goodbye anymore. They roll their eyes all the time. Overnight you, the parent, has turned into a total nerd.

As a parent, you cannot fight this. It is going to happen to you. They pull away. They won't talk to you like they used to. They have some things to figure out.

It is tough. It is painful. For years people have told me that this period will end. That I will be smart again, one day. Just hang on, and the aliens that have been inhabiting our kids will depart.

Yesterday, for a moment, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

I received a phone call from one of the kids. "Hey, Dad. What's up. Don't want anything. Just hope you are having a good day." Strange. What is going on? Later I get a text from the same Brinkman caterpillar: "it's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good." [now this is a secret code from this kid to me......hey Dad I read your stuff and I am getting it.]

I fall on the floor. Chest pains. Last straw. Something is wrong with this kid. Find kid later in the day and discuss said communication. There is no explanation. Just wanted to say those things to Dad.

Wow. Is it possible? Am I becoming acceptable again? A glimmer of hope. A flicker of light.

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

the impossible dream

the lyrics from the song...............


To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear the unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To be better far than you are
To try when your arms are too weary
The reach the unreachable star


This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless,
No matter how far
To fight for the right

Without question or pause
To be willing to march into hell
For a heavenly cause
And I know if I'll only be true

To this glorious quest
That my heart will be peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest
And the world would be better for this

That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star


Now a couple of comments.............

What are your dreams for God? What are our church's dreams for God?
Shouldn't they seem a little scary to us?


If we aren't dreaming impossible dreams for God, whose dreams are we living?

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

at 52

At 52, Tom was a loving father, friend and husband. He was a heart patient. He was a frequenter of Gov. Stumpy's in Brookside. He was the brother of one of my friends. Yesterday, I went to Gov. Stumpys for a bit of a wake. He was 52. Hmmm.

A couple of thoughts of note. When people love you, they come to see you, even if they did not know your brother. Also, when people love you, places like Gov. Stumpys, which is not open on Sunday, opens on Sunday to welcome your group.

What sense can you make of an untimely death? What sense can we make of the passing of a fun, friendly, popular young man? There are lots of pat answers that people throw around, but let's face it, life is a mystery and death is one of those parts that we just can't control.

An untimely death does send us a message: "love on the people that are in your life. Celebrate every day. Smile at every one. Scratch the back of every dog and cat. Don't waste time fighting. Learn something new every day. Make the most of today for tomorrow is not guaranteed."

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

Sunday, November 15, 2009

rejection

Yesterday I drove 2 hours to Pitt State to visit Scott. Then I drove 2 hours home. 4 hours in the car is good quiet time to think and sort your life out with God. Working on the sermon in my head while driving. Trying to figure out how to get from this part to the next. If it doesn't make sense to me, it won't make sense to anyone else.

Trust. Fear. Rejection. All kept dancing in my head. I wonder if rejection is the one thing that we fear the most.

My kids won't take my advice = rejection.
Someone is mad at me = rejection.
Something in my brain tells me that I am not good enough = rejection.

I sure am glad that we are not rejected by God. We are accepted and loved by him. It makes me feel better even now in this moment of writing, to express that truth. We are welcomed and loved by Almighty God.

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

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Not Alone.

The truth is, sometimes I feel very alone. It’s not a surface kind of feeling, really. I think it’s an awareness of something deep inside me that is not connected to people like I hope to be.

When I first started coming to Woods Chapel, it was also around the time when I began to seriously follow Jesus. Maybe I’ve been a Christian for a long time. I don’t really understand the criteria there. But I certainly was only beginning to fall in love with Christ.

Around that time, when we would take Communion, I would cry. I mean, I would just sob a sort of sniveling man-snob. I’ve noticed when I’m about to cry, my body will start rocking back and forth ever so slightly – like when I have to pee really bad and I need to hold it. And I lock my jaw so no one knows I’m crying unless they look at my eyes. I think I can make an argument that tears are masculine, but not if there is sound involved. Anyway, I would look in the faces of the people walking by to take Communion, and something inside me would well up and overflow.

The same thing happens in other contexts, too. Two times recently come to mind. Once, my wife and I were watching a short film. They were interviewing people on the street. “If you could make just one wish come true today, what would it be?” The answers didn’t matter as much as the faces. People I’ll never get to know. One of my favorite musicians, Jack Johnson, calls them “all the people in the street that I’ll never get to meet if these tracks don’t bend somehow.”

Again, I cried a lot. A good cleansing, mysterious sort of cry (but one I’d prefer to share with only my wife or my mom.)

The other time I was at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS for their Leadership Institute. They showed a video of three young adults who have been hurt by the church in some way. Each described some really heartfelt, valid reasons for their negative opinions of church. And I just cried there in my seat at this church, feeling sort of helpless and asking God if I can be the one that helps bring these people home. Because…

Well, I missed them. That is the only way I can describe what I felt for those people. And I started to think of all the times my heart breaks around people. Why does it do that? I miss them, I guess. I miss every damn one of you.

You know, we have the same Father – all of us. And what father wants to see his children separated, isolated from each other? Scared to make eye contact with each other. Scared to hug each other. Scared to need each other. To be vulnerable. To say we feel alone.

We are not alone. We were not made to be alone. And even though this is the state we often find ourselves in, our God is not detached. He is not looking down on us with consternation or even pity. He loves us enough that He came to be “God with us.” Alone with us. Scared with us. Vulnerable with us. “Screaming along side us” to the death. Then He beat death, and not only death but all the things that feel like death to us. Like our loneliness. He showed the way to new life. I believe that all of us who are following Him are being restored. Out with the old and the broken, which is death, and in with the new and whole, which is life.

I am being shaped. It is pretty uncomfortable, and I’m scared I’ll always have this awkward, unfinished look about me. But He knows what He’s doing, I suppose, and that gives me hope. It makes me think that other people might feel this way, too. And that maybe our family can be reunited. That would be like Heaven for me.

But why wait?

With Love,

a young shepherd.

Friday, November 13, 2009

take aways

Well, last night a bunch of us went to hear Rob Bell at the Uptown Theatre. I saw several preacher friends there. There is now a little secret club of Methodist Pastor, Rob Bell fans.

There were several take aways. Let me mention one. God does not waste anything. When you are suffering, when things are not going well, there is at least this consolation. God does not waste anything.

He can pick up the pieces of the worst disaster and make something good. We can learn from the worst of moments.

So, if you are in the pits. If you are struggling with pain. God wastes nothing. Something positive can come from where you are at. We need to stop asking "why" and instead ask, "what next."

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

a good methodist

Like a good Methodist Preacher I was reading in the latest version of Interpreter magazine. There is an article in there about a fellow, Dan Merchant who has made a movie called "Lord, Save us from Your Followers."

It has been in a limited number of theatres and will be out on dvd after the first of the year. The point of his movie is that Christians often do very unchristian things. He asks the question, "why is the gospel of love dividing America?" What a good question.

The article ends with a poignant thought, "it's hard to have a conversation with someone when you are really just waiting for your chance to correct them."

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

a nice card

I received a very nice card yesterday from one of our members. Just kind of a "thank you, and I think you are cool" kind of card. The message on the front says, "do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world" Desmond Tutu.

I like that quote. I was commiserating on what a nice message the card had when I turned it over. The logo on the back is "the bird sings." There is a web site, http://www.birdsings.com/.

I checked it out. The owner of the site has created this line of cards. They are available through out the Midwest. They carry them at Price Chopper on Woods Chapel road. I just thought it was cool that besides myself and Shawn Franssens http://hearingthebirds.blogspot.com/, there is someone else that wants people to hear the birds sing.

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

why I like the history channel

I like the history channel. I like the discovery channel. I watch shows about war, ships that sink, disasters, famous people, etc. I watch shows about animals. I am amazed at the different kind of animals that God has made. Just consider the Meerkat for a moment.....God has an amazing sense of humor.

I also like to play trivia. Questions about the past, science, geography, and religions are my favorite. What year was the war of 1812? Who fought in the Spanish-American War? In what country did the french revolution take place? Trivia. Good stuff to know.

I think I like the history channel and playing trivia because I think my brain likes to think. I refuse to go through life as a robot. The wheels are always turning. Maybe sometimes, turning too much. Too worried, too introspective.

But thinking none the less. One of the great gifts of this life is to think. When we are thinking constructively, we have the chance to better ourselves, to know where we are at, and to see where we are going.

The history channel makes me think. It makes me appreciate my life. I learn from those who have lived before. I like it!

So, if you need a change of pace, look up the history channel or the discover channel and expand your brain.

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

Monday, November 9, 2009

more on the blues

A friend shared this.

We are going to have periodic bouts with the "moody blues." It seems much more productive to say "every human since creation has had this thing, and we always will have."

The only time the blues become a signal that we need help, is when they become immobilizing. I wish you times to look the blues in the face and say "hey this is normal, so what am I on to next." I think the best thing that can happen for all of us when we feel blue is to not feel guilty, but to just get out and walk in the fresh air (further than we really planned to walk that day) or just get out among people.

I also enjoyed another one of your comments. The person said, "so go help someone. Getoutside of yourself. Give yourself away."

Keep your chin up. It is all good.

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

Sunday, November 8, 2009

He paid a debt

A song was running through my head that I learned in youth group. The words go with the sermon.

"He paid a debt he did not owe,
I owed a debt I could not pay,
I needed someone to wash my sins away.
And now I sing a brand new song: Amazing Grace.
Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay."

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

Saturday, November 7, 2009

the blues

I have had some blues lately. And I am not very good at hiding my feelings. If we have talked at all in the last few weeks, you probably know that I have been struggling with the blues.

Yesterday I had lunch with a couple of friends. One of them had a couple of comments.

"Jeff, anyone who looks at you and your life would wonder what the heck you have to complain about."

Good point. I can't disagree. I have no reason to have the blues. There is no good reason. My problems are boring.

He said something else to me that really struck a chord, "so what are you going to do about these blues?"

Well, that is a good question. When you have the blues, you just sort of wallow in them. You think and commiserate about what ever you think is bothering you. But it usually doesn't occur to you to do something about it. The blues just happened to you and you think that they will go away by them selves. You know, it's like you are a victim of the blues and they are a freeloading cousin that you hope will leave, but you don't know when.
Enter the comment. "What are you going to do about these blues?" Well, that reminds me of a simple truth that I need to be thinking about. Here it is: Seeing the good does not come naturally or easily to many of us, most of the time. Seeing the good is a choice.
So what can we do about the blues? Maybe the answer is simply to stop wallowing in them, stop giving them room in your life and just choose to see the good. See the good. See the good. It is there.
And here is the closing statement: It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jesus wants to save the Christians

I have just started a book by Rob Bell entitled, "Jesus wants to save the Christians." This is a book about things that Christians think that are not what Jesus would prefer. I don't think that I am going to like this book. That is because I think it is going to make me feel uncomfortable. You see I am all glad with Jesus challenging your life, but I don't want Jesus to challenge my life.

We are all like that. We are all for sacrifice as long as it belongs to someone else.

If Jesus took an inventory of your life, your beliefs and practices, would there be some things that he said, "Hey, wait a minute, this is not what we are supposed to be about."

We don't even like to think of such things.

Rob Bell is going to be at the Uptown theatre this coming Thursday. Several from church are going. Come join us.

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

Thursday, November 5, 2009

the idea of a thing

The idea of a thing is sometimes better than the thing itself. You want to have a child, but then pregnancy is miserable. You want the child to be born, but then it cries all night and keeps you awake. [now don't read too much into those last two lines, I am just trying to make a point.]

You want to be a Pastor, then you feel burdened from the pressure to preach something really good every Sunday. You want to start a new church, then you feel funny when some of the wonderful folks at your church, whom you have asked to consider going to the new church, actually make the decision to go. [that was a run on sentence]

We have asked folks to sign on with the new church. I want some of you to do that. We need more of you to do so. But, when I find out who they are that are leaving, it hurts a bit.

Well, that is just too bad. Sometimes you have to hurt. The baby never gets born without labor and delivery. The child never grows up without struggling through the passages of life. And new church starts are joyfully painful.

On the Sunday when the folks for the new church [the Beacon UMC] come up front and are prayed for and are sent out to start the work, I will cry. But I will also be happy, for I do believe that this is one of the most Christian things that a church can do.

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

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

when souls collide

When I meet someone, I hope that we can be friends. Sometimes, an amazing thing happens. In a way that is hard to describe, we find a connection. Souls collide. We understand each other. There is a forgiveness and an acceptance that is without question. It is like you are brothers or sisters. Part of the same family. Twins separated at birth who now have been reacquainted.

DT DH and 100 others. What a gift it is to make a friend. We should always celebrate the presence of those special people in our lives. I hope you have them in your life too.

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

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

thankful

Last year during November I asked you all to be thankful for something everyday during the month. Not a bad idea. Today is Nov 3rd. I am a few days behind. Tho I was thankful on Sunday and Monday for several things.

Today let me thankful for my wonderful friends. I got an email from one of you yesterday challenging how my brain worked about my vacation. It was interesting and helpful. I am thankful for each of you and wish I had more time to just hang out and talk. I am enriched by knowing you and interacting with you.

I have no friends from grade school. I stay in touch with no one from high school. No one from college. no one from Seminary. No one from any previous church in any ongoing manner. In my life I never had more than one friend at a time. here at WCC, I have won the friend lottery.

Thanks. All of you, for being you.

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

Monday, November 2, 2009

that's all

Love God, love your neighbor.

That's it and that's all.

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

Sunday, November 1, 2009

trick or treat

Well, that was a bit uneventful. Last night I mean. We had maybe 30 trick or treaters at the most. The good news is, I have lots of candy left over.

It was nice to see the kids out with their Dads and or Moms. When our kids were little I used to take them around to the houses and Cathy would stay home and hand out treats. One year Scott was a Ninja Turtle. They were always so cute and so proud of the candy that they would collect.

At night I would pick through it and steal their milk duds. They would always catch me, and I would end up having to buy them more at the grocery store.

I miss hanging with the other Dad's and going out with the kids on Halloween.

But, it's all good. Cathy and I sat on the couch and watched a movie, interrupted by 30 kids. No problem. It is a fun night.

Families are awesome. Young kids are great. Enjoy them while you have them.

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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

self-improvement

Self improvement- the idea that I can work on a better, less dysfunctional me.

Some people read novels. I read theology, history, and books that challenge my life paradigm. One author asked the question recently, what are you doing to engage your self with the concept of self-improvement?

if the answer is "nothing" Then our message to the world and to our selves, and to our God is, "I have arrived. I am a finished product."

I hope that sounds bad to you. It should. All of us have room to grow and change.

Is there something that you can do this month to help you to become a better you? Hearing the voice of God begins with an understanding that my way of seeing things is not the only thing.

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

Friday, October 30, 2009

vacation

Well, we are finally home. Cathy and I went on a 7 day vaca to a warm place with palm trees, the island of Aruba in the south Caribbean. We were able to do this because a church member gave us a week in their condo and because my wife has lots of frequent flyer miles. I usually don't like to tell people that we are going on vacation, because a few have been known to skip church. We need to keep working on the idea that being at church is important no matter who is preaching.

Anyway, we are home and I will be there to preach on Sunday.

I continue to struggle with the blessings that we have in this country. I go on vacation to a place where people make minimum wage to take care of me. Where their entire economy survives because people like us are able to go visit their warm tropical paradise. I see their cars, their homes, their schools, their future, their dreams. I enjoy their beach. Then I come home.

They have so little. We have so much. How is it right?

Ok, so what then Jeff? If you give everything that you have to help a few of them, will anything really change? Well, it will for the ones that I help.

The claims of Christ weigh on my heart when I come home to such a nice home. If I sell it all and give it all to the poor will that be the answer in some way? And 100 years from now, will anything be different?

I guess I just want to do more to help really needy people, and I should just do that. That will be my resolution. I am going to find more ways to help really needy people. I think Jesus did some of that.

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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mysterious God.

I am sorry for the times I have made God smaller by analyzing and characterizing. I try to make God a succinct statement. An explanation. But God cannot fit in my mind, or He is not the God who created me. Instead, I am playing God, creating Him.

God is a mystery. I cannot wrap my brain around God. But I can worship God. I can enjoy God. I can search creation for clues about God.

When I think and dream about the mystery of God, a 5-point plan of salvation does not come to mind. Perhaps the pathway to God is no more clearly summarized than God Himself. Maybe the best I can do is stutter on and on about this magnificent God. I am brought to my knees in awe.

Maybe my desire to describe God easily and concisely is a control thing. I can control God when He fits easily into my brain. I can control other people by proving that I know God! and telling them how to get to Him. But I have been wrong about God before. And I am wrong about God now. Saying that I have all the answer about God is the same as saying I am God. Only God has all the answers.

The rest of us can simply marvel. If we are burning with passion for a God who exceeds our wildest imaginations, will that passion be contagious? Maybe we will reach more people who simply see us burning for God and want to burn, too, than in all our efforts to sell God.

I am speaking for myself. I want it to be known that all my words do not come close to touching all that God is. Perhaps a moment of silence with God says more than a thousand volumes of text about God. Maybe today I will see that God is holding me; I am not holding Him. Maybe I will get Him out of my head, and get my head into God. Maybe I will explore God. Hopefully I will get lost in God today.

With love,

a young shepherd.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

question

Josh's post on Monday reminded me of a quote that I read somewhere. If I already shared it with you, forgive me, but this repeat would just be a sign that this is on my mind. Here is the quote:

"I was going to ask God about why he allowed children to go hungry around the world, and innocent people to die of preventable diseases, but I decided not to ask, because I was afraid that he might ask me the same question."

Now I don't deal in quilt. But with all that we are doing to care about others at our church, I still wonder sometimes about the ideas represented in this quote. To what degree am I spending my life for others? Do I really deserve all of the luxury that living in America provides? To whom much is given, much will be required. Ouch.

I am not going to give or receive guilt over this, but I wonder if God is trying to tell me something.

Open brain, insert troubling thought.

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Father “help me to see”

In the post yesterday Young Shepherd wrote about the need to see and experience the people in our lives. I went to a funeral last week. I attended the funeral not so much because of my relationship with the deceased but more so to provide support to someone who knew him better than I. This man was a good man…a very good man. The people who attended his funeral spoke very highly of him. Over and over I heard the same message. What a kind person, a generous person, a loving person he was. It was said that each and every day he would greet everyone in his office with a hello….a good morning….a smile. And each and every day he ended the day in a similar manner. He never took people for granted. He was giving of his time especially with the less fortunate. He was a good husband and father. He brown bagged his lunch twice a week and met his priest…his mentor…his friend for lunch to discuss life and pray for who and what he felt he needed to pray for. He lived his life by example. He invested his time in people.

So, I blew it. I had numerous chances but, I never took the time to know him well. I am sure my life would have been richer if I did. I was “consumed with self” and so I missed an opportunity. I hope I never forget this….ever.

I need to slow down, take the time, let the goals take a back seat to the journey…..don’t miss the opportunities…..get to know people…..be a part of their lives and let them be a part of mine.

Peace,
Lion’s Den Man

Monday, October 26, 2009

What If?

What if I asked more questions and gave fewer opinions?

What if I understood that God’s love is more about my character than my comfort?

What if I killed depression and emptiness by giving myself away, not analyzing myself all day?

What if I lost sleep over Darfur, the “strangers” I pass by each day, and the way I have turned the gospel into something easy to stomach?

What if I really believed Jesus will provide for me like the lilies and the sparrows?

What if I stopped waiting to do something “great” for God and did the small things I refuse every day?

What if I saw interruptions as opportunities to love?

What if I stop asking “what if” and see what is going on around me right now?



A trusted friend tells me I am a “global thinker, big idea” type of person. She says, politely, that maybe my strength is not logistics and day-to-day stuff. Deep down, I take it as a compliment. But I’m also afraid of what it means.

Jeff says “people are more important than ideas”. I think about the people I am missing while I’m “busy” daydreaming about a better future, a world full of love, a Kingdom that has finally come. If you’re feeling like me, maybe we can pray this prayer together today.

Father,
Help me to see the people that you will place all around me today. These are my neighbors, and you said that it all comes down to loving You and them.
But I call them “interruptions”; I call them “strangers”. Most of the time, I just don’t see them. I am consumed with self. Help myself die today, so that You might live through me and give life to others through me.

And when I fail today, Father, give me a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Break my heart in the kind of way that makes a loving Father give up His Perfect Son for a selfish fool like me. Through this pain, help me minister to the pain of others in a way that shows how You ache for them.

I may complain about the pain and emptiness that I feel, but I know You are shaping me into something so very different from what I am today – something that will attract others to you. On my own, I neither care about my neighbors nor have anything to offer them if I did care. But you can change my heart, and I ask that you start right now.

Amen.


With love,

a young shepherd.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Good Hurt

Yesterday was a bad day...Ugly. I saw myself in a way that I don't care to see.... Ok, I am human and I make mistakes and there are reasons for why I did and why I said and why I acted in such a way, but you can throw all of those reasons in a bucket and label it “Excuses”. When it comes down to it, there is never a good excuse for poor actions towards others....when you know better…..no matter how justified….. an excuse never holds water.

Then it's over and hopefully, next, you hit a wall……. and remorse sets in. Yes I hit that wall and I am thankful for that really bad gut wrenching feeling.....you feel small...sick to your stomach...guilty…..and you know you need to make things right again....the sooner the better.

Imagine if you will what it would take not to feel that way when you did something that was "out of character". Not to have the need to make amends....seek forgiveness. How consumed would we have to be in ourselves? I read somewhere that “how you treat the creation reflects how you feel about the creator”. Hmmm…..

If we don't feel that pain what has happened to our souls? I pray I never feel "ok" about doing wrong, thinking wrong, justifying wrong……

Thank you God for the hurt I feel at times.......

Peace,

Lion's Den Man

Saturday, October 24, 2009

waste

I am not a proponent of waste. I hate to see food wasted. It upsets me when Brinkman offspring leave half consumed bottles of water or cans of coke around. Hey, for heavens sake, finish one before you open the next.

Eat the left overs! There are starving people in India. My mom used to say that over and over. Mom and Dad were children of the depression. They never wasted anything.

waste not, want not.

I also think that we bring glory to God when we make good use of the resources that He has given to us. Teach your children well, because they are going to inherit the ability and the responsibility for the care of the resources of the planet.

Not sure why I am writing about this today, it was on my mind, so here it is. Again, I believe that we bring glory to God when we honor him by making good use of the resources that he puts in our control.

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

Friday, October 23, 2009

the cycle of retribution

I witness this every week in some form or another. Some weeks I witness it daily. The cycle of retribution.

One person hurts another. Intentionally or unintentionally. The hurt person sulks, then finds a way to retaliate. Sometimes the retaliation takes the form of outward aggression. Sometimes the retaliation is delivered through a smug self-righteousness. Sometimes the wound simmers just waiting for the opportunity to come to a head and burst open again.

It never ends until we decide to end it. A hurts B. B hurts A. A hurts B. B goes home and hurts his family. B's family is wounded now and begins to hurt others. on it goes. Until, someone decides to bury the hatchet, to put the weapons down.

Jesus said, Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing. He did not pick up the weapons of retaliation.

Look into your heart. Are you holding a grudge? Look into your hands. Are you holding weapons of retaliation?

Lay them down. Let it end. Here. Now. Today. In this moment. God can fill the gaping wound.

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

Thursday, October 22, 2009

we talk a big talk

We humans are all talk and no action. I order the big breakfast. Eggs. Sausage. Potatoes. Biscuit. Gravy. Pancakes. I can never eat it all. We have lots of big ideas that we have trouble carrying out.

Take for example all of you tree hugging, dog lovers who have tried to come to the rescue of my ill tempered, bad mannered, ungrateful mutt, Lou. Many of you scolded me for being mad at him, but now that he is for sale, no one is stepping up to take care of him.

Your offers tell me that you really don't care about dogs. What you really want is for me to feel guilty and just keep putting up with his dysfunctional problems. The bids on Lou so far are: a pet rock, 2 gerbils, a 3 legged cat, [don't need any more cats regardless of how many legs they have.] Sharon wants the dog for free and she wants me to throw in Jonnie's fern in the foyer. Ok, here is the deal. if I can get rid of the fern in the foyer, you can have the dog and the cats too. let me know when the fern is gone and we will go from there.

Gosh, it is nice to have some fun with this blog. Sometimes it all seems so serious or worse and you know life just should have its moments of random, indescribable fun. Joy. Hilarity.

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

dog is now for sale.

The free dog of yesterday is now for sale to the highest bidder. You have no one to blame but yourselves.

After offering a free dog to a good home yesterday, I received 5 phone calls requesting further information about the dog and one threatening call from someone who wanted me to think that they were from the Lee's Summit Animal Control Department. Not that funny really.
Remember, your Preacher will always have the last word on your life.
Ok, so here is the deal. I am putting the dog up for sale. Post your comment, and the amount you are willing to pay. Whoever wins, I will give you the dog, and the money goes to the church. [you will be sorry if you win.]

Just to be fair with you, when he gets mad, he looks like this:

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Free Dog

Do you ever wonder why I am a little blue on rainy days? Maybe you catch me on a day like today and you can tell that I am not quite myself. You ask what is wrong. Well here it is.

It is not a Carpenter's thing. Rainy days and Mondays do not get me down. Rainy days get Lou the Dog all excited. He sleeps in his kennel and he is usually fine. But if it rains, even one drop on the roof, he can hear it and he whimpers and barks and wakes me up. All night long. 3am, doen't this dog have a watch? Can't he see the clock in the kitchen? For crying out loud it is time to sleep, not time to bark!!!! Now I know that he is afraid and he just wants encouragement, but I want to sleep. And as far as I am concerned, my sleep is more important than his peace of mind.

If Daddy ain't sleeping, no one is happy. Lou the dog is in the doghouse, again today. That whimperin, cryin, little baby faced, barks at everybody, beats up cats, kills baby squirrels, Lou the Dog, you cryin in the rain dog, you are on my last nerve.

Free Dog. Call 373-1525.

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

Monday, October 19, 2009

man in black.

Ok. The choir was all dressed in black at the concert last night. Great concert. Craig Curry was awesome. So were our folks. Both choirs, adult and children. The choir being dressed in black, reminded me of the Johnny Cash song, "man in black."

Now, Johnny Cash is dead, and the movie about his life, "Walk the line" seems to show the worst of him. Drug use and all. What they leave out, is that he recorded a number of gospel songs, and in a way that many Christians don't want to believe, he was a very spiritual man.

The choir dressed in black last night. It made me think of that Johnny Cash song, "man in black." Here are the lyrics.

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.

I am thinking a crazy thought. I am maybe going to send the sheet music to Joy and the next time we are all dressed up in black, I am just going to drop that Johnny Cash song on the congregation. What do you think? I like the lyrics.

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

Sunday, October 18, 2009

why we do what we do

Ask the average person, "why do we do what we do?" You will get many answers. Church folks have 100, no 99 answers to the question in relation to the church - why do we do what we do?

Some say,
"it is good for my family"
"I meet the best people there"
"my children need to learn the Bible"
"worshipping God makes me feel good"
"church charges me up for another week"
"I love to learn in Sunday School"

All of these answers are fine, but they are all means to an end. Meeting great people, singing worship songs, even learning the Bible is fine, but they all should point us to something else. What is the something else? It is why we are here, it is why we do what we do.


It is the making disciples thing. Changing lives. Reaching out. Outside of ourselves. Giving ourselves away. Taking up our cross. Following. Living beyond ourselves. Finding a life that matters. Spending who we are and what we are for the sake of Christ.

It is all about God getting inside of us so that he can turn us out toward his children.


Enjoy church, where ever you go. But don't forget, all of it is designed to turn us away from self and out towards others.


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

Saturday, October 17, 2009

hard to be satisfied

The Rolling Stones couldn't get any satisfaction. We humans are pretty hard to make happy as well. We complain in the summer that it is too hot. In the winter, we hate snow and ice. Somehow it is always something different than what we have that will make us happy.

Anthony Demello talks about how sad it is for the fisherman who lives on the beach and takes his boat out to fish every day. He has done it for so long, he is no longer touched by the beauty of the beach.

Sound familiar? Remember how excited you were when you got that car, that house, that neighbor? Time erodes our interest and our fickle passions can never get enough.

Boy I wish the stock market was higher, boy I wonder what happened to fall. Where did my youth go. And on we go.

What if we just stopped, and look to see what we really have. If you woke up today, you are blessed. That soul that lives inside your temporal body has another day to live in God's world. When we break it down to the basic joy of just being alive, there is much to celebrate, even if it is a weak economy and a long winter.

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

Friday, October 16, 2009

don't quit today

I talk to people who are talking about divorce. "Don't throw in the towel today. Don't quit this week. You can always do it next week."

Don't quit the ministry today. You can do it tomorrow. Don't quit this week. You can do it next week if you really must.

Don't give up on life today, if you have to, you can do it tomorrow.

Now, the point is not that I want them to quit tomorrow or next week. I don't want them to quit at all. But if you can get someone to agree to walk thru the fire today, then they have made it one more day.

And it is a beautiful day. The chance to live is a gift that not every one received. Don't quit. Not today, not this week. Stay in the game. God is present.

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

Thursday, October 15, 2009

thankfulness

Well, the season of thankfulness is upon us.
What are you thankful for?

God has blessed you in 10,000 ways. What are you thankful for today?
Don't wait until November, the fourth Thursday. What are you thankful for?

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

the hole in the gospel

Last week I read, digested rather, a book called, "The Hole in the Gospel." It is put out by the Willow Creek Association. They mailed out a free copy to the pastor of every church that is a member of their association. If you received one and have not read it, pick it up and get after it.

One of the points the author makes is that there are 15,000 people that die in Africa every day of preventable diseases. 15,000 every day. He says that this would not be tolerated in America. Imagine in 30 days, the entire city limits of Kansas City is dead of a preventable disease. We would never allow this. Yet, Africa is a long way away, and we tend to sit here and thank God for our blessings. Maybe there is a hole in our gospel?

A sobering thought. Something to think about. Something to act on.

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