Sunday, May 31, 2009

a walk

I went for a walk this morning. At 4:30am. Now if you are asking why I am awake at 4:30 in the morning, so am I. Stress. Must go for a walk.

I walked the entire neighborhood. I counted the for sale signs. I thought about life. I asked God some questions. I complained a bit. I whined a bit. The worse I was, the faster I walked.

Finally it starts to get out of your system. You can feel the tension go. You walk slower, you don't complain so much, and you start to feel a little bit more like yourself.

Among my friends is a counselor that I talk with on occasion. Whenever I am stressed, he asks me if I am getting any exercise. It does make a difference.

Returning to my senses, I begin to see the world that I have been missing. A beautiful sky, barely showing signs of morning. Mars to the south, Venus to the east. A few claps of thunder. Birds singing. Lots of birds singing. They have collected in groups on various blocks. 5 houses of quiet, then there is a tree that is full of them. It is a singfest.

Sky, thunder, planets, trees, birds, God is still speaking in this world. I am glad I went for a walk today.

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

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dear Bird,

Dear Bird,

I am so sorry about what happened yesterday. I saw you in the road. I figured that you would move. You did, but just not fast enough.

I have often wondered why you guys hang out in the road. There was nothing there to eat and there did not seem to be any reason for you to be there. I have always been surprised at the ability of your cousins to get out of the way of my car at the last minute. You were not so lucky. Maybe you were sick, maybe you were day dreaming. At any rate, today you are singing in the heavenly choir.

That is how I will look at it. Not that I snuffed you out, but that I was an unwilling participant, an accidental participant in your being promoted to the heavenly choir.

At any rate, I am sorry for the bonk on the head and the brief moments of pain. I am sure it was quick, as my car out weighs you by a few tons. Please warn your friends and relatives to be careful about lighting in the roadway for extended periods of time. I wish you well, and again, I am sorry.

Jeff Brinkman, accidental bird crusher

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

Friday, May 29, 2009


Trust. Trust God. Trust in Him. No matter what happens. Is the market up? Trust in the Lord. Is the market down? Trust in the Lord. Which of you can add one inch to your stature by worrying? The Lord has the very hairs of your head numbered. He sees when a sparrow falls, and you are worth more than many sparrows.

Trust in God. Everything is ok. We have each other. We are the Lords. Whether we live or whether we die. Remember whose you are. Trust. Trust. Trust in the Lord.

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

Thursday, May 28, 2009

sermon series ideas


It is easy to preach during Advent- it's all about Jesus' birth. It is easy to preach during lent- it's usually about the suffering of Christ. It is easy to preach during November- thanksgiving.

The summer can be tough. Long periods of time with no, or few special days. These are good times for sermon series.

I have a few ideas, but nothing is standing up and screaming "I am the one!" If you have any requests for sermon themes or ideas for sermon series, I would love to hear from you.

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I saw Mike Tyson on TV this morning. Life has a way of humbling us. That is one of the problems with blowing your own horn. Eventually, life has a way of bringing us all to our knees. We certainly grieve with him, the loss of his daughter.

Although the church should not pound people about humility, a lack of humility is a very distasteful characteristic. We don't run around celebrating people for their humility [they would not like it], but a lack there of it is repulsive.

I think of the professional athlete that has forgotten that he is a part of a team. I think of the pastor who has to remind everyone that he/she knows more or is more successful.

Anytime we get stuck on ourselves, it is unbecoming. Our hearts should not be celebrating ourselves, but should rather be grateful to God for the gifts of life.

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

what do you pray for?

Usually, we humans ask for all kinds of things. God bless me, God bless my family, God bless my friends.

I recently read this in Colossians 4:
2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.

Paul is asking his readers to pray that God will open the doors so that they can tell others about Jesus Christ.

We can do this too. We can pray for our church, that many will be connected to Jesus Christ. We can also pray for ourselves, that God will show us the times and the places, and the people to share His love with. I am just thinking that if we are praying for an opening, it will be more on our mind, and each of us will share God's grace a little more often.

Pray that God will give you one person today to reach with His message of love.

I have this little message from the Sound of Music hanging on my office door:

A bell is no bell 'til you ring it,
A song is no song 'til you sing it,
and love in your heart
Wasn't put there to stay -
Love isn't love'
Til you give it away.

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

Monday, May 25, 2009

memorial day

Today, the Lord willing, we will do what we do every year on Memorial Day. You probably know what we do because I write about it every year on Memorial Day.

When Cathy is ready, we will get in the car and load up any kids that want to go with us. The older they get, the less that they want to go. I don't blame them, I didn't want to go to the cemetery with my parents when I was young either.

Anyway, we load up and drive I-70 to Sterling. North on Sterling to Winner Road. Left on Winner, through the beautiful Englewood district. Turn left on Truman road. Up the hill, past the monument company, turning right into Mt. Washington Cemetery. I have gone there every year on Memorial Day since I can remember [except when we lived out of town.] My parents took me there as a boy and told me the stories of the people buried there.

Into Mt. Washington, take the first left, wind up the hill, keep left, then near the top, turn right. The road deadends in the Rosehill Gardens section. At the end of the cul-de-sac is the Toll plot. My Grandmother on my Dad's side was Mary Lee Toll until she married my Grandpa Brinkman. My two sisters and my 4 cousins and I are the remaining heirs to this burial site. There are about 8 grave sites left there, more if people choose to be cremated.

When we get there, will look around and remember. Remember being a boy. Remember my Mom and Dad. I will tell them about Scott graduating from High School. I will tell them everything is ok. But, they already know that. I will tell them that I love them and miss them. We will linger for a while, then drive the long way through the cemetery, past some of the more notable chapels and tombs. We will emerge on the north side on what I guess is 24 highway, but I am not sure. Come to think of it, I am not sure of the name of the road. All I know is that there is a Dairy Queen right there.

Cemetery. Dairy Queen. Home. I hope when my kids take their children to the cemetery to visit me, they will stop at the Dairy Queen when they are done. It's a tradition.

All in all, Memorial Day is a time to be thankful for life. O dear Lord, we are so blessed. Thank you so very much for all of the wonder and glory and joy of life. And you, dear friends, thank you for the privilege of sharing this life with you. I am grateful for every single one of you.
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


As I write at 6:40 this morning, there is a beautiful bank of fog that has settled onto the east side of the church property. As the sun comes up and shines through it, it is a peaceful, amazing picture.

By the time you get to church today, the fog will be gone.

I wish it was true for all of life's fog banks. Sometimes we are cloudy and confused and it is hard to get to the other side. There are things and situations that are just troubling to us.

That is why I am glad that we have a God to trust in. He doesn't make life perfect, but there is no better guide in life, no better person to hold onto in time of storm than our heavenly Father.

If you find yourself in a fog bank today, be sure to make it to church. Maybe God will lift it and you will be able to see Him. Sometimes that is all it takes to turn the corner, taking our focus off of the fog and keeping our eyes on the Guide.

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

Saturday, May 23, 2009

leaving the world a better place

I think that we all want to leave the world a better place. JB left a comment for the blog and intimated that there was no need to post it, so I didn't, but in the comment she talked about the pride and love that I have for Scott. As I read it, I thought of another word, admiration. I admire all three of my kids. Somehow, they have turned out to be better people than I was at their age. And with a better start on life, who knows where they will be then they are 51?

Isn't that the goal? One of the ways that we make the world a better place is to help our kids, our nephews and nieces, our neighbor kids, to become better people than we were. Once I was lamenting some of what my parents did. Then it occurred to me that they left behind kids that were better. Better in the sense that we all have college degrees, have our feet on the ground, and are gainfully employed. They gave us a better life than they had themselves. That makes them pretty good people.

Everytime that we help another, we leave the world a better place. One day at a time, one interaction at a time, we help others become more than they would otherwise have been. What a great privilege it is to be used by God to help another. If we are not doing that, we are missing one of the main purposes of life.

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

Friday, May 22, 2009

last day of school

Today is Scott's last day of high school. He is our last, our youngest child. Of course he is not a child anymore, he is a man. I could write a bunch here about how funny it feels to begin the empty nest thing. I could tell you about tears due to changes in my life, but forget that for a minute, let me tell you about Scott.

[by the way, his senior pictures were taken by our own Jennifer Bartman. Thank you to her. She made a good boy look great!]

Scott graduates on Sunday. He has had great grades in school - 3.8 gpa. He has really never been in much trouble. He has attended youth group at two churches. He has volunteered to help at church without his Dad twisting his arm. He is going to be a helper on the jr hi mission trip this summer.

When we moved here, he was 3 years old. Just a baby boy. Now he is 6' 2" and strong as an ox. When we put up the three wooden crosses at the old building, he and I were out there one evening and I asked him if he knew what they were. He said, "yes, those are the church signs." Cute.

Scott has tormented Sunday School teachers and wrestled with just about every man at the church that he thought he could mess with. He is funny. He is kind. If you break down on the side of the road, you can call Scott. Even if you don't know him, he will come and help you. He has held down a job at Best Buy for 2 years that he got without his parents help. At Best Buy they call him "Mr. Scotty."

Today is his last day of high school. This fall he is heading off to Pittsburg State University to study Engineering. He is a good boy. A fine boy. His Daddy could not be more proud of him.

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

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Woods Chapel United Methodist unChurch

unChurch. The more I read about what is going on in our country, the more I think that young people are interested in unChurch.

unChurch is a place where they talk about Jesus and help me with my spiritual life, but I get to do it at my own pace. unChurch accepts me as I am. unChurch is patient with me on my journey. unChurch is as good at rejecting traditional churchisms as I am.

The young people that I am talking to are looking for unChurch. Real. Authentic. Warm. Open. They don't care about the authority of pastors or the rightness of someone's doctrine. They want to see the love of Jesus Christ in action.

A church for people who are tired of churchyness [churchiness]. I think that is where we would find Jesus worshipping. Woods Chapel United Methodist unChurch.

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

it's me again

It's me again. My ideas, my wants, my preferences. I think what I think and want is so special. Do you ever catch yourself thinking that your ideas and desires are really important?

I was reading yesterday about church conflict. The author made a point. Most Christians lived and died before my denomination existed. Millions of people that share my ideas and desires have already lived and died. They came and went. So will I. So will you.

Here is the point. We get so caught up in our opinions and preferences. We get all excited about how we think it is. Yet, we are all going to be here for such a short time.

People are more important than ideas. [that is a generalization, but it has some real truth to it.] Instead of arguing over doctrine and polity, we need to spend our time here on this earth loving one another. God is love. God does not necessarily share my ideas. He is so great, so strong and so mighty. He has revealed himself to us as love. That's what we need to be doing here on earth. Love one another.

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

little things

Well, I read something that I think is a really cool truth, and no one says anything. I write about some great philosophical thing that is on my mind and everyone yawns. But I write about how people drive their car and we get 4 comments. Good comments too.

You are all right. It is the simple things. The simple things where we live out our faith that matter. Thinking is great, believing is great, but if I don't act out my beliefs, what good is that? There may be a great sermon on Sunday. I may cry during the music, but if I then go out into the parking lot and drive like a jerk, what good is that?

You are so right. The Christian faith is lived out in the little things. One moment at a time. Everything, every moment for Christ. Thank you all for reminding me and each other again of this simple true truth.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good. And drive really nice from now on too.

Monday, May 18, 2009

driving a car

Ways that I try to be a witness for Christ. By how I treat my wife and kids. By how I treat you. [I don't always get any of it right.]

By believing that we are all stewards, not owners of God's blessings. By forgiving. By being ready to share a word about faith in Jesus. And are you ready for this?

By how I drive.

Really, I am going to rant for a moment. I am so tired of people who drive like they are possessed. They cut people off, they drive 90 miles an hour. The run red lights. It is like they are high on something. I really believe that our faith ought to affect the way that we drive a car.

Don't be in such a hurry to get somewhere. Count the trees, the clouds, or the rock ledges. Take 5 extra minutes to get there and let other merge in. So what if they get in front of you.

Ok, sorry about that, I just dealt with some really bad drivers last night. One of them had a fish on the back of their car. Probably Presbyterians. Just kidding.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good. And drive nice. It's what Jesus would do.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

sold out

I wonder what percentage of my life is "sold out" to God? How much of me is really submitted to Him? How about you?

We would have to wonder about the times that we have thoughts about others. We would have to wonder about some the the notions that we have about faith that are really more convenient than Biblical. We would have to wonder about the times when we are just blatantly selfish.

It takes a real honest person to look inside and see what is really there, and be willing to try to let God change it. But if I could just give Him one more thing today. If I could just get sweeter in one area. I know I am never going to be perfect, but if I can let go and give on just one new area this week, what might God do through me? How might the world be a different place?

Oh friend, how He wants to use us to touch the world. I pray right now as you read this, that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you, calling you to act on God's behalf.

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

Saturday, May 16, 2009

work day

Today there is a work day at church at 9am. I remember when the 20 acres that the church is on was barren wilderness. Prairie grass, thorn trees, scrub trees. Rocks, junkpiles, barbed wire. The tree line across the north side of the pond was an overgrown mess.

Well, 10 years later, your church sits on one beautiful piece of property. Oak trees, Ash, Cleveland pear, maple, redbud and more. Walking trails. Gardens. The shade garden, the rain garden, the garden of hope, the giving garden, and the other one whose name escapes me. All beautiful gardens. Tulips and hosta and 6,000 daffodils.

A state of the art play ground. Benches to sit and rest in the shade. Manicured lawns. The rose terrace with fountain. Crosses. The Celtic cross on the south. The old rugged crosses in the giving garden and at the baptismal pouring station. Three crosses together out by the road.

Rocks. Big beautiful landscape rocks. The cross and flame out front surrounded by its own garden. All of this set to the hourly music that plays from the belltower's carillon bells.

Future plans include paving the walking trails, a prayer garden with stone labyrinth, more large shade trees, and a pavilion on slab.

Every improvement came with hard work and loving care. Pat Riley, former basketball coach, offers one of my favorite quotes, "excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better." Little by little, this muddy, barren, thorn infested piece of ground has been transformed to a beautiful park whose voice declares the glory of God. When I drive onto the property I often think, even if the preaching is bad inside, the outside is so beautiful, this is where I want to go to church.

Thank you to everyone who planted, weeded, trimmed and worked to care for your church property. If you can make it by for a little bit for this work day or any work day, it is always a rewarding time.

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

Friday, May 15, 2009

unintended consequences

Sometimes we do things that cause other things to happen. There are consequences to our actions that we did not intend.

Take for example the person who installed the clear Plexiglas shields on the sides of the soda dispenser machine at the Panera on 40 highway. I am sure that the shields are to serve some purpose....maybe to keep overspray from the soda dispenser from going on the floor.

Well, that is an example of good intentions. However. When 51 year old people are getting a soda, sometimes they cannot see the clear Plexiglas shields. Bad things, though unintended, might happen. The 51 year old person may fill up his or her cup, and simply slide to the right to where the lids and straws are. You can't move back because there are others in line waiting for their turn at this magnificent machine. You just want to slide to the right. The problem is, there is a clear shield there, and it knocks the soda out of your hand and onto the floor. Remember, there is no lid on the drink cup as of yet. Not that it would have helped.

The soda must be made of rubber. It hits the floor and bounces. Out of the cup, up the 51 year old person's pants, and onto several others who have gathered around and just can't wait for their turn to try out the clear Plexiglas shields.

They didn't mean to knock the soda out of my hand with the shields. I did not mean to drop the soda. I did not mean for it to get on everyone, but it was bedlam. Women screaming, children crying, a man with a mop rushing around, cursing under his breath about those d--- shields again.

Sometimes in life, people try to do something good and it just doesn't work out as they had planned. Sometimes they are trying to help. They did not mean to hurt you. Lets not shoot the person who dropped the drink cup, or the person who designed and installed the clear plastic shields. They did not intend to cause us harm. That should be worth something. Give those people a break. They didn't mean to hurt you. Sometimes in life there are just unintended consequences.

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

Thursday, May 14, 2009

a walk in the park

Last night, in between rainstorms, I took a walk in the park. In our back yard. In God's great greenhouse of beautiful things. I strolled among the green and red sedum. I cherished the Japanese Maples and the Cherry tree. I talked to the robin on her nest. I saw blue flowers that only my wife can name. I celebrated the iris. The lavender, the deep purple and the yellow iris. They are beautiful. The hosta are taking off. The indian grass is doing it's thing. All of God's creation that we have had a chance to plant in the back yard is celebrating His glory. I hope that you have something wonderful planted in your yard that you are able to celebrate from time to time. If you do not, call me, and I will give you a few starts.

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Last night I witnessed two married couples serve each other communion. Can you imagine any more powerful words to be shared from a husband to wife or vice-versa? "the body of Christ is broken for you. The blood of Christ is shed for you."

I was reminded of the total servant nature of marriage. Marriage is a ministry. You minister to your spouse. How can you reach them? How can you help them find life-fulfillment? What can you do to bless them?

Christian marriage is all about servant-hood. We should be offering up ourselves in loving care to them every day. Again, it is in loving that we find love. It is in giving that we receive, it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

If you are married, bless your spouse this day.

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

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

so you are discouraged

Well, I could read it in your face. I have wondered what it was. Now I know. You are discouraged.

I am so sorry that you feel this way. Unfortunately, I think that everyone feels this way at one time or another. There are mountaintops and there are valleys. That is just the way it is.

Some Christian people make the mistake of thinking that they should always "feel" a certain way. They experience something for the first time and it takes them to the mountain top. They go on a retreat or are touched by worship at church. But after a while, life takes it's toll and they don't feel that mountaintop feeling anymore. Discouragement sets in. Sometimes people think things like, "something is wrong with me" or "something is wrong with my church." As if it is the job of the church to keep you on the mountaintop. As if it were possible for us to always be on the mountaintop.

True spirituality is not measured by the mountaintop feeling. Great men and women of God met God in the valleys. In despair, on a cross, by the well, at a tomb, people find God in the Bible in the deepest places of pain. True spirituality is staying the course when you feel that God, or the church, or some leader at church has let you down. It is learning that spirituality is not even about me getting to feel the way that I want to feel. It is rooted in a long term relationship with our Father.

You don't throw away your spouse just because things feel differently. You don't quit your job because you aren't having fun anymore. You don't give up on God just because you feel discouraged.

Weeping lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Keep your chin up. Stay the course. Nothing has changed, you just feel differently. Trust in God. Reengage. He is waiting for you to pick up the mantle of love. Sometimes discouragement will flee when we reach out in love to others. It is in giving that we receive.

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

Monday, May 11, 2009

open wounds

When I was 10 years old I accidentally cut myself at the neighborhood swimming pool with the sharp edge of a swimming mask. Maybe you remember the kind, they had a little nut and bolt on the top that held the glass in.

The cut was on the inside of my right knee. It was deep. Blood and watery looking stuff leaked out of an almost 2 inch gap. Mom wanted me to get stitches. Dad said, "no." It will heal.

We rarely went to the doctor when we were kids. It was too expensive. To this day, if my kids need to go to the doctor, we always go.

The wound did heal eventually, but left untreated, it left a football shaped scar on the inside of my knee. yes it is not on my face, but every time i see that scar, I remember what happened.

Life. Things happen. People are wounded. Sometimes we are participants in it all. What will we do? Hide? Stick our heads in the sand? Pretend like we were not involved?

We humans often hide in times of pain because frankly, we don't know how to heal wounds very well. We are much better at creating them than healing them. Our pride just gets in the way.

Well, we don't want a life long scar, so what should we do in times of painful wounds?
  • pray. pray to see your role in the fracture.
  • pray. pray for the other parties.
  • pray for direction.
  • talk. when the emotion has subsided, find a time to sit down and talk

The talk has to be a time of listening to the others feelings. It has to include everyone looking for ways to understand their own culpability in the problem. We have to remember that our life mission as Christians always calls us to love one another.

What seems impossible with man, is possible with God. If you are experiencing a fracture, pray. Love. Find the heart of God. Do what you can to reach out to the people on the other side. God makes all things beautiful in his time.

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

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Happy Mothers Day to all of you wonderful ladies and friends. God bless you for all that you have done for your biological children and for all of your other children.

I got out my mother's Bible this week. Mom went to be with Jesus on July 17th 1995. I don't think I have opened her Bible since the funeral, but I just had a feeling that there might be something there that would be what I needed. Among the many quotes, I found this:

"In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God." - Aeschylus

I had never heard this quote before. My mom knew it, but never shared it with me. I find it to be very profound. You may not need my explanation of the quote, but here goes:

At night, I lay my head on the pillow. All of my worries cause me pain which will not go away. I cannot sleep for the pain drips on my heart one drop at a time and I am filled with despair. Finally God acts. Against my will, [because part of me wants to get even, part of me wants to hurt back] against my will, God's wisdom comes to me through his awful grace. It is awful because it causes us to be able to forgive the unforgivable and to overcome evil with good. A bitter pill, but a good one when finally swallowed.

Thank you Mom for sharing. I think about the struggles that you faced that caused you to hold that quote in your Bible. I hope that I was not the cause of too much of your pain. I am sure that this quote, and the grace of God, brought you much peace. Thanks for being my Mom. God bless you. Happy Mothers Day.

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

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Here is something good.

Last year if I had said something about the Royals, many people would have thought that I was speaking about Prince Charles of England and family. This year, it is a different story. The Kansas City Royals baseball club is on a hot streak and in first place in their division.

Thursday afternoon I went to the game. I love the afternoon games. You take a friend from church and watch baseball. It is very relaxing, and no matter who wins, you get to see some great athletes playing a great game.

In the past, it was easy to go to an afternoon game. Tickets were always easy to get, every banker I know had some that were not going to be used if we didn't take them. You drive to the park where you can park where ever you like. Lot A row 5. No problem. There are only 5,000 people at the game. Usually.

Not this year. Not on Thursday. We got to the stadium at 12:45. Plenty of time to get in and sit down. We didn't have tickets, but we were not worried about that. We figured that we would just buy the $7 ticket and wander the park, right? Wrong. The parking lots are full. We have to park in C lot, clear down past Arrowhead. We walk forever. There are people tailgating. We get in the line to buy tickets. 8-10 windows are open and the lines are 10 people deep. It looks like a new Star Wars movie is opening.

When we get up towards the ticket window I can hear the sales person using the phrase "sold out." I almost fell over dead. Sold out baseball game in Kansas City? We must be playing the Cardinals. But that can't be right, there isn't anyone wearing Cardinals gear today.

At the window I am informed that they are sold out of $5, $7 and $10 tickets. The least expensive ticket available is $33. If you want to be in the shade, $36. We buy two tickets. I actually feel good about supporting professional sports in Kansas City, even if our $7 tickets turned into $36 each.

Inside the stadium, the place is packed. It is some kind of "kids day" at the K, but that does not account for the crowd. Late in the game, after the kids are gone, there is still a very large group of people there. I have never heard so much energy in that Stadium. I hope it's aging concrete can stand the strain.

As the game came to an end, and the Royals won, again, I just have one thing to say to the other 20,000 people that were still in the stadium...... where have you been? Where were you last year or the year before that?

I have loved the games for years. The Royals get in first place and suddenly everybody is a baseball fan. Well, it took a long time to get out of the parking lot. Almost as bad as a Chief's game, but all of this is good for Kansas City.

Go Royals. Keep it up. And you new found baseball fans? Stick around. Baseball is a great game even when your team isn't in first place. Life isn't always about who wins and loses. In baseball, and in life itself, the experience itself is worth the price of admission.

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

Friday, May 8, 2009


Many comments that I receive to these blog posts are anonymous. I am fine with that as long as they are constructive. But when people hide behind anonymity to make a comment that is mean spirited or theologically legalistic, well, I am just not going to post them anymore.

I will still read their painful banter, but I will not share it with you any longer. We can let them start their own blog. Maybe it could be called:

Good luck with that. Here is the truth. Life is good, God is great, and mercy rejoices over judgement. That is the truth, the whole truth. In heaven, we will rest in His grace, forgiven by his love, our sins covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. Spend you life thinking about God's love for you. Go share that will others. Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. That is what we are supposed to be doing.

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

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Message

The first Bible that I ever read was the Revised Standard Version. I know that I used some King James after that. In fact, much of my Scripture memory exists in my head in the King James. When the New International Version [NIV] came out, I switched over. It was a true translation, but was written in more modern language. All of our pew Bibles at WCC are NIV. It is the version that we read from on Sunday morning.

I may be having a slow conversion. I tend to convert slowly. I have heard of the Bible called "the Message." I assumed that it was just another paraphrase, that is, some person's interpretation of the Biblical text. A translation is more reliable and comes directly from the original Greek and Hebrew. A paraphrase, like "the Living Bible" is the result of one person reading the NIV or the KJV and just putting it into their own words.

A few months ago, I head the Bishop quote the Message. That started my brain to thinking. If is it acceptable to the Bishop, it may be ok.

I have been reading the Message version lately. It is very inspirational and exciting. Here is what Bible Gateway says about the message:

Why was The Message written? The best answer to that question comes from Eugene Peterson himself: "While I was teaching a class on Galatians, I began to realize that the adults in my class weren't feeling the vitality and directness that I sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek. Writing straight from the original text, I began to attempt to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original language. I knew that the early readers of the New Testament were captured and engaged by these writings and I wanted my congregation to be impacted in the same way. I hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn't read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become 'old hat.'"

You can read more about the Message at

If you don't want to run out and buy a Message Bible, you can of course read it online at

If you have not been reading the Scriptures lately, you may be invigorated by picking up the Message. I hope to have it available soon in our bookstore. Pastors or anyone out their in the blogosphere who know more about this or have an opinion, good or bad, are encouraged to post a comment.

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

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I had a stalker yesterday. Or was it road rage. I was driving home from Arkansas and the cruise in the car was set on 72. The speed limit was 70. My kids will tell you that I drive like a grandpa.

I come upon a little silver Saturn sedan. I pass by and keep going. Pretty soon, it is trying to catch up to me. It pulls along side, right next to me.........strange. All this happens as the road is condensing from 3 lanes to 2. Now he has cut me off, I have to hit the brakes and pull behind him.

He slows down.
I am annoyed.
We are out in the middle of nowhere. 71 highway near Noel, MO.
It is the perfect setting for a "crazy hillbilly" movie.

I decide to get back up to speed and get away from him. He tries to speed up. Finally I get some distance and get a few vehicles between us.

Now a few minutes later, he is catching up again. He pulls right along side and comes to my speed exactly. There is a truck behind me. I have no where to go. I hope this dude does not have a gun.
He obviously wants me to look over at him. I wonder what I will see when i look over to the left? A skeleton face? Michael Myers? Scream?

I have a mean face on when I look over.

Oh. It is not a scary person, it is Shawn [this is not his real last name exactly, but no one knows how to say it accurately] Francensengenses, the pastor at Jane, MO. We are buddies. or at least we used to be. He has about scared an old guy to death.

I call him. We talk and laugh. I thought he was a stalker, he was only trying to get my attention. We stop in Joplin for a cup of coffee. What a fine young man.

So, the moral of the story is this. The next time someone is driving erratically, don't assume it is a stalker or a crazy person. It may be some Methodist preacher that you know that just wants to have a cup of coffee.

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

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Church Start meeting

Well, I am in a meeting in Arkansas for churches that are starting or parenting new churches. It has been very interesting. One topic that has been interesting is the things that the "Mother Church" feels. Possible fears include:
  • what if some of my friends leave our church for the new church?
  • what if the new church start fails?
  • what if all of our biggest donors leave?
  • what if we have to put our future building plans on hold because of the new church?
What is your response to those potential fears? Do you share the fears or do you have confidence that God can help us successfully launch a new church?

I want to tell you how I feel about these fears. First of all, some of our friends will leave to help start the church. That will be painful. Some of them will be good givers. I hope so, for the sake of the new church.

Usually when people go on a mission trip, they come back in a week. If God calls you to go on the mission trip of helping to start this new church, you will be gone for a year, or, you may not ever come back. You might just want to stay at the new church.

This is likely to be the most unselfish, Christ centered thing that our congregation has ever done.

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

Monday, May 4, 2009

the length one must go to post a blog

Well, let me begin by saying that the Children's program was great yesterday, as always. Gina's sermon was also wonderful, I will never forget the story that she told about her friend Brian.

So what is going on?

I left about 2pm yesterday to drive to Fayetteville Ark. I arrived about 6:30, met up with a pastor and had dinner. We are staying at the Mt. Sequoia Methodist campground. It was built in 1920 by our jurisdiction [7 state area]. The camp is lovely. The room I stayed in is very small. There is no TV or radios. That is fine with me.

There is supposed to be internet at the camp office. I woke up this morning and drove to the office to get on the wifi and post. Well, who knows, my computer says I am on, but it won't find the net. The office is closed so there is no one to talk to, I am sitting in my car in the rain.

So I drive to town. Somewhere there must be a Starbucks or something that has wifi. I come upon Rick's bakery. I ask an employee, "do you have wifi?" She doesn't know. I forgot my wallet. I go back out to the car to get it. I come back in. I ask another employee, "do you have wifi?" Yes. great.

Now it is time to wait in the line. This must be a good place to eat because there are many people in line. I ask someone to save my place in line, I go back, take a shower and return to the bakery. Perfect timing. It is my turn. I buy two donuts and a cup of coffee.

I fire up the wifi, and, here we are.

The donuts were worth the wait, though I don't think that I need any donuts really.

After I am done at the donut shop, I will head back to the camp. There are meetings all day today about starting a new church. I hope you have not forgotten that we are going to be helping with this project this year. On July 1st there will be a pastor appointed to our church to work with us to get the new church off the ground. His name is Dave Owsley.

So, I will be back late Tuesday. Please keep your church and the new church start in your prayers. Now that I know where to go, maybe I will be able to post earlier tomorrow.

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

Sunday, May 3, 2009

honest question

Honest questions deserve honest answers. Someone posted a comment on yesterday's blog that asks a question. And if the person who made the post would like to, I would be more than glad to visit more in person. Just call me. :-)

Here is their post: "Why is it that we can only know the truth about the things that make us feel good, and not what God commands us not to do? I can understand why you don't want people to fear God, but don't they also need to know what God demands we not do? Surely truth must address both the "feel good" things and the things that displease God."

I want to reply to this, one sentence at a time.

"Why is it that we can only know the truth about the things that make us feel good, and not what God commands us not to do?

Well I did not mean to imply that, if I did, at anytime, anywhere. Truth speaks to everything and we can know what is right and wrong. We need to be diligent in our pursuit of God. That includes our behavior. However, the Bible is clear that we are just not supposed to beat each other up with lists of rules.

I can understand why you don't want people to fear God,

Well, of course I don't want people to fear God. There are other churches that are doing enough of that. I prefer to welcome those who have been crushed by the load that others have placed upon them. I think that is what Jesus did, so we are in good company there.

but don't they also need to know what God demands we not do?

There certainly are Biblical pictures of God demanding things. There are many more however, of God granting or Jesus giving, grace. Grace is the core of the Christian message. Once a relationship with God is established through Jesus, the Holy Spirit will lead the Christian into the changes that God desires for him or her.

Surely truth must address both the "feel good" things and the things that displease God."

I am not really about helping people "feel good." I want them to know and experience a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This comes only by grace. Once I understand that, I do feel good. Feeling good is a byproduct of God's love and grace. Displeasing God? Again there are scriptures that indicate this, but there are so many more that point us to grace. The main theme of the Bible is not that we displease God and should straighten up. The main theme is about grace. God so loved the world. My children don't always make me happy, but my displeasure with their behavior is never greater than my love for them. Not even close.

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

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Truth does not change. The problem is, sometimes we think that we know the truth when we do not. I think that there are things that we can be confident are true, and other things that we need to be careful about. We humans are not very good about knowing the difference.

Some people like to "know." Their entire self esteem is built upon knowing. Boy are they in for a surprise when they finally meet God and realize that they did not know as much as they thought they did.

We have had people quit the church because they discovered new "truth." Some Christians use the scripture in ways that hurt and wound others. In such cases, the message of the truth is so clouded in hatred and judgement, that the truth of the love of God goes right out the window.

Bob Tuttle, one of my professors in seminary used to say, "if God is a circle and you believe that he is a square, he does not become a square to accommodate your way of thinking." This is a very good point that reminds me that we do not know it all and we are not as smart as we think.

There is a difference between the truth, and what we think the truth is. That is why we need to walk in this life with very humble hearts. As my mother like to say, "there is more Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy."

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

Friday, May 1, 2009

last sunday

So, part of the sermon last Sunday was about things that we give up, or change our beliefs in. Did I end that sentence with a preposition?

The idea is that life changes, times change and my brain changes. Things that I believed once, I must recognize that I may no longer believe. Some people will tell you that truth doesn't change, and that is true. But there are certainly things that we believe to be true, that we at one time insisted were true, that we later decide were optional and we were just being dogmatic.

Here are two examples from the sermon Sunday:

I no longer believe the Christians should spend their time worrying about or studying the second coming. I used to do a bunch of this. Now I do not. I still believe in the second coming of Jesus, O yes. But I don't want to waste my life speculating about how it will happen. We cannot know this. Of the day and hour knows no man, yet we spend our time studying all about it. Much of what is written on the subject is based on dispensational theology which came on the scene in the 1850's. Most of the theories espoused about the second coming today, were not a part of the theology of the church for the first 1800 years of it's existence.

So, I believe in the second coming, but I am not worried about it. Live your live as a follower of Jesus and you will have nothing to worry about regarding his return because you will be ready no matter how or when it happens. When we get love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, etc down, then lets study speculative theology.

Marriage. I was not able to develop this thought as I should have during the sermon. So now, let me explain what I meant when I said in the sermon that "I have changed my views on marriage." I was taught as a teen that the man was the head of the home. Women were to submit. Also I came to believe that somehow, your marriage partner was supposed to make you happy. Obviously, I have changed my thinking. Here is what I now believe about Christian marriage.

Marriage is based on mutual love and respect. Not women submitting, but mutual submission. Leadership is to be shared. Each partner brings gifts to living and to marriage. Only you can make yourself happy. Your spouse's job is not to make you happy. The best marriages exist between people who are mentally healthy and happy by themselves, before they get married. Christian couples should serve one another.

Ok, so part of the sermon was about how we need to let some beliefs go. How we need to change some of the box that we have put God into. There are two examples of things that have changed in the practice of Christianity for me. Are there things that you need to let go of?

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