Friday, July 31, 2009

May you be a yes

I read this blessing the other day and I still can’t get it out of my head. I am sure there is a reason for that…………….

“May you be a “yes” to the question, “Has Jesus risen from the dead?” And may you come to see… may you understand…. that you are the good news. You are the gospel.” Rob Bell

I had to sit back and digest that message for a moment. I can’t tell you how many times I have re-read it since I first came across it.

It is flawless. It speaks pure truth. It makes me ask a lot of questions about what I am doing and where I am going.

I probably…. No….without question, I should start each day with that blessing in mind. Right?

Not out of guilt….. not by pressure…..but, by knowing it is the truth.

It plays well into what “young shepherd” has been writing about. It describes perfectly what the person mentioned in my post on Wednesday has come to understand.

I really can’t add to it, but I had to share it……..we need to share it.

Lion’s Den Man

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Road, Part 2

Why would Jesus say to take up my cross and follow Him unless He meant for me to follow Him down the same road he walked? The only image that I can conjure up is that of Jesus on the Via Dolorosa. This is the road that He willingly walked in order to give up His human life so that true life may abound.

This is what I believe He calls me to do – to lay down what I think is my life so that Jesus may give me a new life.

In my life, I have occasionally thought of the road of faith as a journey of quiet comfort. Yet, the road that Jesus took was not a road of comfort. So if He truly means for me to follow Him, perhaps He is challenging my sense of comfort. Maybe my “cross” is my comfortable life I hold so dear, and maybe I am called to follow Him into the unknown.

I picture Jesus on the Via Dolorosa. We often imagine Jesus fainting and stumbling as He slowly made His way. Beaten and chastised constantly, He continued moving forward even though He could’ve stopped this all at any point. This was the most grueling road that anyone has taken in history of the world, yet Jesus did not relent. He finished what He was born to do.

Why, then, would Jesus – who loves us so much – ask us to follow Him down this kind of road?

I think it is because of the victory that is at the end of the road. Truly, it is the only road which ends in victory. Yes, it ends in death, but so does every other road in human history. Only Jesus’ road ends in life. Perhaps He wants us to see that even when we choose comfort, it is short-lived. Death is imminent for each of us. Whether we give our lives completely over to Jesus or not, our lives will be taken from us just the same. The difference is whether we ever experienced true life, true joy, true freedom.

I am afraid I am not doing justice to what I want to say about following Jesus. In an extended metaphor, I had hoped to convey an image that would help us see that being a Christian is more than a title we give ourselves. It implies action – the action of following Christ. In picturing our faith as a road, maybe we will realize that a commitment to Jesus is just the beginning of a daily journey with Him. It is a journey that challenges us every step of the way, but with every step, Jesus holds our hand if we allow Him to do so.

I also admit that I have aimed to challenge each of us to shun complacency in our walk with Christ. There is nothing in the life of Jesus which leads me to believe comfort in this lifetime should be a priority. Perhaps Jesus is challenging you the way I feel challenged. And perhaps not.

But if so, I promise you that Jesus will be with you every step of the way to lead you down the road He already walked for us. And not only Jesus, but the community of Christians who are also making our way down this road. It is outside our comfort zones that trusting relationships develop – those with Jesus and those with other Christians. It is when we are stretched that we are in need, and when we are in need that we learn to trust Jesus and our brothers and sisters to help us.

I have lived all of my life in a place of self-reliance. It is as if I trust only myself to provide for me. But Jesus is showing me that this road is about trusting Him to provide for me. After all, God clothes the lilies and He'll take care of me.

With Love,
a young shepherd.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Unexpected

Have you ever had a person come into your life and instantly a connection is made? Conversation is effortless. It is as if you had known each other for a lifetime. You always seem to leave filled……. sometimes bursting. I met a person last year who fits that description. Just being around him makes me want to do more with my life.

Yesterday morning I had a chance to sit down and spend some time listening and sharing with him. I lost track of time…… schedule fell by the wayside ….. it didn’t matter. I left with more than I came with…..something significant…..…meaningful. I felt inspired......challenged. Some questions I had been asking were answered. Some direction provided. When you see and feel someone’s passion for doing God’s work you can’t help but feel passionate yourself.

We all can be that for someone………

It still amazes me how the unexpected happens when you least expect it. When timing is not yours. When goals and plans take a back seat to the journey…….

Thank you my friend, my brother. You continue to be a blessing.

Lion’s Den Man

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Road, Part 1

The Christian faith is a road. Many of us are already on this road. Some have not yet chosen it. To those who have not chosen, Christ Jesus is always ready for you to begin your journey. For those who have chosen, He gently encourages us to keep walking.

I call it a road because Jesus did not ask us just to call ourselves Christians, or even to just have a conversion experience. He said to “Take up your cross and follow me”. To follow someone, we must be going somewhere. To go somewhere, we get on the road.

Recently, I realized that I have been standing still on the road. It does not matter for how long. What matters is that I hear Jesus asking me to take another step with Him now. And what I have come to realize is that the road Jesus is asking me to walk down is the same road that He once took – the Way of the Cross.

Jesus willingly walked this road to his death, and he bids me to do the same.

Jesus could’ve chosen to leave that road. He could’ve chosen any other road in the universe – even the ones paved with gold in His true home. But He kept walking, step after painful step, all the way to the end of the road where His life was given up for me.

I have chosen different roads many times. In fact, it’s not much credit to me that I have chosen to walk with Jesus now, because I only made this choice after realizing that all the other roads either led someplace bad or nowhere at all. Through Jesus, I learned that His road is the only one that leads to true fulfillment. Perhaps this recognition sums up the conversion experience -- when we realize the only road worth travelling in life is the one with Jesus.

What does it mean to follow Jesus, and why do I feel I have been standing still lately?

Maybe it means that we are having a real relationship with Him. One where our prayer life, if we take the time to pray, is more than just petitions and complaints. My relationship with my fiancé would not flourish if I only came to her, asking for stuff or complaining about stuff. Of course, she wants to hear the things I want and the things that are on my heart, but she also wants to be adored. She wants to be praised and told that I need her in my life. I need to say these things to her, also, so I am reminded of them.

Maybe my relationship with Jesus is not so different, yet I have only been complaining and begging – not the stuff of a healthy relationship. And I have felt very empty at times. I have had very little in my cup to pour out to other people. I think that a true walk with Jesus is a walk of overflowing abundance in my soul.

I would like to emphasize in my soul. Because sometimes people think of following Jesus as a road to other kinds of abundance. Financial abundance. “Everyone loves me” abundance. “My job is great” abundance. I don’t know about you, but I do not always receive this kind of abundance when I am following Jesus. But my soul is abundant. I have peace, love, grace, joy, and rest.

(continued on Thursday)

With Love,
a young shepherd.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Three Friends

I've been thinking about friends and friendships a lot lately. I have some friends from years ago that I still keep in touch with, but many more that I don't. I try not to over think the reason why I don't, but when I do it becomes obvious that the friendship I had with those particular people were not as deep or committed as the ones that have stood the test of time. I feel fortunate to have a few friends these days that probably know more about me than any other friend ever has.....

My father had three friends that he cared for his entire life. I mean entire life...he literally shared the crib with these three friends as a child and was close to each of them his entire life. They were always there for each other. They survived WWII, divorces, family crisis's and distance created by life's circumstances. They spent endless hours talking to each other about (stuff). They had memories that would come up in conversation, but they lived in the moment too. Never selfish, or envious or manipulative. I believe there was an equality and loyalty they shared, but their bond was not built on expectation. (See post 3-28-09) They just truly cared for each other.

My father and his friends are all gone now, but their friendship is something all of our families still talk about. When you see something as pure and committed as what they had you want it for yourself......

Proverbs 18: 24 Friends come and friends go,
but a true friend sticks by you like family.

Lion's Den Man

Sunday, July 26, 2009

the road less travelled

Sometimes I choose the road less travelled. The back roads. Phelps Rd, Lee's Summit Road, even Todd George Rd over 291/470. It takes longer to get there on those roads, but there is less concrete and more grass. Trees, wilderness and peace. I enjoy the trip more, I savor the scenery. I may arrive a few minutes later than I otherwise would have, but I arrive in peace.

Get off the main road the next time you drive and enjoy the sights along the way.

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

Saturday, July 25, 2009

If I could speak for Erin

Ok, I feel bad for the ESPN reporter who was filmed secretly in her hotel room. If I could speak for her, this is what I would say............

Some people tried to hurt me. They tried to steal part of who I am. But this is impossible, because who I am is far more than what I look like. My parents gave me a great name. I have worked hard to be a person of character. No one can steal me, unless I forfeit myself, and I am not for sale.

Let's feel sorry for the small people in this world. Let's feel sorry for the users of this world. Let's celebrate the good things of this life. Family, love, life, and baseball. We know what makes America great, and we are going to keep celebrating it.

If you have been hurt by others, take heart from this story about me, for this is not what I am about. I will show you what I am about. Life is still good and we will celebrate it together. Let's play ball.

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

Friday, July 24, 2009

who am I? [revised]

I am thinking about Erin, the ESPN reporter and what has happened to her.

You can say bad things about someone. You can say bad things about me. You can find old stories about someone that hurt, that show them at their worst.

But who I am is not defined by you. Others cannot define you. No one else gets to control who I am or how I feel about me and no one else gets to define you. Inside of me there is something that tells me that God loves me. My name is not scarred by other's words, my name is written in the Lamb's book of life.

Who are you? Look inside. You know who you are. Don't let anyone else tell you differently.

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

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Lord, who can I touch for you today? You know Lord, I am having some problems right now. Who can I touch for you today? I have too many bills, my kids are in trouble, and I am sick. Who can I touch for you today? My boss is mad at me. My car is acting up. I can't stop thinking negative thoughts. Who can I touch for you today?

Problems. We all have them. The list above I am not owning, they are just representative of real life. In the midst of our challenges, there is still a question to be asked, a prayer to be prayed, Lord, who can I touch for you today. While we continue to struggle with our human issues, there are still people who need our witness.

Lord, I take my eyes off of my problems long enough to pray, who can I reach for you today. Amazing too, when I pray about reaching others, I start to forget about my problems. The spirit is healing me.

Let every day begin with this prayer, Lord, who can I touch for you today?

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

on the pastor's door

Yesterday I went to lunch with a few of your church staff. We ate at the Panda Cafe by Price Chopper on Woods Chapel Road. The folks at Panda Cafe are Chinese Christians and they are very nice. It is a quiet place to go for lunch that offers ample time to visit. The food is great and the price is right. #9 General's Chicken. Fried rice. Crab rangoon. No soup. Please bring a knife. They don't even ask me what I want anymore.

And then there are the fortunes. Really good fortunes make it onto the pastor's door. I would say "my office door" but it is the pastor's door and I won't always be the pastor. Here are some of my favorite fortunes, collected over the years, that are on the door.

"people in your surroundings will be more cooperative than usual."

"it is a nice day."

"a friend is someone who knows the song of your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

and then there is this lovely rhyme from Rogers and Hammerstein:

"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."

What are your favorite rhymes or sayings?

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

small church

What is the smallest church that you ever attended? The first church that I preached at had 6 people there. As I finished the sermon, 4 more showed up late. The pastor that had invited me to preach that night, now invited me to start over from the beginning, which I did. So I guess there were 10 people there.

Last night I visited with a church of 20 people. The church burned down in August last year and they are trying to decide what to do.

I have to tell you that they did such a good job articulating their mission and explaining what the church is about. They agreed to work together to come up with a plan that everyone could buy into. Because of the insurance, and pledges, they plan to pay cash.

Their spirit was inviting and among this group I felt the presence of Jesus.

The church is not the building. The church is the people. 6, 10, 20, 100 or 1000. Love them. Enjoy them. God has given us to each other for a short season in this journey of life.

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

Monday, July 20, 2009

advice for relationships

I have been putting together some thought on relationships. Things that I hope people will find if they get into a serious relationship. I need your help. Please add your thoughts as I may have to share this with some young people at my house pretty soon.

My hopes for my children and the children of others who are thinking about being in a serious relationship:

Determine that you will not enter into an unhealthy or dysfunctional relationship. Flee all physical and emotional abuse. No one needs another person that badly.

Don’t seriously date anyone that you don’t want to marry. You will only get emotionally bonded to someone that you may not want to spend your future life with.

Find someone of a common faith or find a common place where you can share spiritual values. This may not seem important when you are dating, but when the honeymoon wears off and you start raising kids, it becomes one of the most important things.

Discuss relationship with parents and in-laws. Come to an agreement as to which holidays will be spent where and how you can treat both families as family.

Come to common agreement on the principles of raising children. Values, discipline and activities are all things that you should agree on.

Finances. Attend Dave Ramsey’s FPU together. Set a budget. Determine that you will not use credit cards. Agree to live within your means. This is so important – money is the number one reason couples break up today.

Work hard to achieve your common goals. Not everyone gets to like his or her job. If you do, great, but be willing to paint houses or drive a taxi cab if need be. If need be, work 2 or 3 jobs to provide for your family.

Understand that how you treat one another is your gift back to God. If you are a Christian, your primary ministry is to your spouse. Treat them according to the golden rule: do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

Sacrifice for the relationship. Healthy relationships are not 50-50, they are 110% - 110%

Stay the course. Marriage is hard work. You can’t leave your wingman because things aren’t going the way you would like. Work it out.

Don’t keep secrets. Eventually they will come to light and it will be worse than if you told the truth. Don’t keep a record of wrongs. Forgive the other person and move on.

Understand that every day that you are alive is a gift from God. Share that gift you’re your spouse.

If you want it to be well and end well, begin it well.

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

Sunday, July 19, 2009

lacking self confidence?

Do you ever lack self confidence? Most of us do. If you hang around me long enough, you will hear me talk about how scary it is to be a pastor. We all do things that we do not feel fully prepared for. At least I hope you do, because if you are only living in your comfort zone, you may not be doing much for God. I have come to believe that when God calls us, he calls us out of our comfort zone.

And so as we step into his will, we are uncomfortable and lacking self confidence. This is not a bad thing. Would you rather be supremely, arrogantly confident? Of course not. A little self deprecation is a good thing from time to time and less than adequate self esteem reminds us to depend on God.

When we are weak, then he is strong. Is there something that you are supposed to do this week? Are you nervous about it? Good. Let those nervous feelings drive you in the direction of Almighty God who will surely give you the strength to do his bidding.

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

Saturday, July 18, 2009

change your mind

Have you ever changed your mind? Have you every been really sure about something, really adamant about something, even annoying about something, and then changed your mind?

We all have.

If we have been annoyingly insistent about things and then later changed our minds, what does that say about the things that we think we know now?

It means that we need to hold them out there with a little more grace. We may just change our minds in a few weeks.

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

Friday, July 17, 2009

freewill and predestination

The age old battle of Calvinism [everything is predestined, God is in control] vs. Arminianism [we have free will, God has given us the gift of choice] rages on in our society. Just in case you wondered, John Wesley was an arminian. Methodist theology is based in God's grace and our right and responsibility to choose.

I hear people talk about how God made all these things happen in their lives. I know they want to give God glory, and that is good, but did God really give you that new car or did you just choose to buy it? Is it possible that sometimes we make choices and ascribe them to God so that they feel a bit more justified?

"I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road." Stephen William Hawking

I think we like to talk about God being in control, but we tend to live more like our choices matter, and they do. I am not sure that God is glorified when we ascribe our choices to him. I think that he is more glorified when we thank him for the opportunity for choice and take responsibility for them. That is real life. That is a real relationship.

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

Thursday, July 16, 2009

When to pray

When do you pray? Before a meal? What if it is at Burger King? Should you then pray before a snack? What if you don't have a formal snack time, but you like to swing by the m-n-m jar? Do you pray to open and close a meeting? How about a prayer half-way through a long meeting?

Here is my point....if I wake up and give this day to God, do we really need to have other ceremonial prayers during the day? How about just an ongoing conversation? Sometimes I think we have to pray before certain things because we have not been living prayerfully.

When you are aware of God's presence and work in the world around you, it seems funny to stop for a formal prayer.

Now, I think we should do it.....some. Prayers before meals are great, but lets remember the relationship is about constant communication, not scheduled prayers that exist because we are forgetting him the rest of the day.

Should I open and close this blog with a prayer each day? Or is it enough to know that when ever I am writing this, I am thinking about God and seeking to enter into his presence.

How about a few less scheduled prayers and a few more practiced prayers. A few less "ok, its your turn to lead the prayer" prayers and a few more prayers that are just a continuation of a life long discussion with the Master.

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

what should I call you?

Recently someone asked a question that I get from time to time. "What should I call you?"

Pastor, Father, Reverend, Priest, Minister, or ?

Please don't call me what my wife calls me when she is upset with me. [joke]

Well, lets see. Priests are usually Catholic or Episcopal or Mormon, so no, don't call me a priest.

Father is also usually for a Catholic Priest. Don't call me father, except for my kids, they can call me father if they like, but I prefer Dad.

Reverend. Yes I am ordained and with that experience, comes the title. However, I do not like the word and prefer that you not use it. In fact, I would prefer than no pastors go by it. It makes a person sound special and holy in my opinion. I have met too many in my time that use the title and demand the respect. Well, you can't demand respect, it has to be earned.

Yes I am a minister. It is a great privilege. Pastor. Yes I am a pastor. You can call me pastor Jeff if you need to, but what I would prefer is just plain old Jeff. Now that I am on a roll, let me say something about being a pastor. The Bishop can assign you to a church, but that does not make you someone's pastor. The church can print your name with the title in the bulletin or you can have your name Pastor so and so put on the sign out front. None of this makes you someone's pastor. You become someone's pastor when they tell you that you are their pastor. When they decide that your love and care for them is deserving of the title. It cannot be taken to one's self, it is a gift from the people of your church.

I don't think Jesus went by any special titles. Teacher Jesus. Father Jesus. Pastor Jesus. I don't think God would refer to me as anything other than Jeff. My son Jeff. Just call me Jeff. It worked for my Mom.

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


[there was this song] Feeeeeliiiinnngs, O, O, O feeliiings, O, O, feelines. Felines are cats.

I have been thinking more about feelings today. I have been reading an author that hits on feelings and I have also read some of what you guys wrote on the subject.

I am firmly of the belief that we can manage our feelings. Sometimes.......

We need to avoid situations and decisions that will get us into messes, which will bring the accompanying feelings. I also believe that when I let my feelings overtake me, I am done. What I need to do when I sense those angry or painful feelings is own them. Talk to them. See them for what they are. This is important. See them as different than me. Somehow that puts them in the place of feelings. They are not me, and I am not bound by them. It's just how I feel right now. It will pass.

When my feelings do not own me, reality has a chance. I can be aware of what God is doing in the world. I can hear the birds sing. I need to do more of that. It is a constant battle, but we are winning. I feel it in me, and I feel it in you.

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

Monday, July 13, 2009


I am 52 years old. I really should quit. I did quit last year. In October I hurt my knee again and I decided to hang up the cleats.

We started a new team this year and I was the coach. 9 games, I did not play. Last night though, we were short for the last game of the season and I played 2nd base.

Softball is good for church guys. New folks get to make friends, and everyone likes to pretend that they can still play. Some of them are very good, and then there are the 52 year olds.

Well I have to tell you about the game. We won 13-3. I caught a ball, booted a ball, threw a guy out at home, dove for a ball, was involved in several put outs at second, got two little dinky hits, ran the bases, and scored twice. That is a good game for an old man.

Today, I have scabs on both knees, a big bruise on my chest from diving, my right knee is screaming "replacement," and every muscle in my body is sore.

But O, was it fun. This is why people skydive. This is why they bungi-jump. I felt more alive playing ball then I have in a while. It was great, but I really should retire.

This week, do something that you don't think that you can do. Take a risk. Live life, don't let life live you.

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

Sunday, July 12, 2009


From The Shawshank Redemption

Red: These walls are funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That's institutionalized.
Heywood: I could never get like that.
Prisoner: Oh yeah? Say that when you been here as long as Brooks has.
Red: They send you here for life, and that's exactly what they take. The part that counts, anyway.

Have you become "institutionalized". Are you surrounded by walls, perhaps walls that you have grown so comfortable with that you don't even realize they are there? Have you become complacent? Do you challenge yourself? Do you challenge what you hear or read? Do you test everthing? I ask this only because I have been "institutionalized" before and looking back it is scary how easy it is to slip into that mode.

We need to ask questions. A favorite author of mine wrote, "Questions bring freedom. Freedom that I don't have to be God and I don't have to pretend that I have it all figured out. I can let God be God. Questions are rooted in humility. We need to ask questions and humble ourselves in order to pursue God."

God is a mystery. He has given us an invitation to seek Him. He has removed the obstacles through His Grace. He has given us His Spirit as a built in sounding board to test our questions.

"Questions are not scary. What is scary is when people don't have any."

Lion's Den Man

Saturday, July 11, 2009

nothing much

I have nothing much to say today. I dreamed all night about different things to write in the blog this morning, and now I cannot remember any of them.

The older I get, the less I know. Rob Bell is smarter than I am. So are most of the other people I know. But I still get annoyed by people who act like they are smarter. I am sure they don't mean to be demeaning, but they usually are.

If I realized that I am not as wise as I think, does that make me wiser?

1 Cor 13 if I am the smartest pastor in the world, but have not love, I am a clanging cymbal. If I am the most handsome person in the world, with a full head of hair, but have not love, I should be on the gong show.

Those who say don't know. Those who know, don't have to say.

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

Friday, July 10, 2009


Ryan came through surgery yesterday. The tumor was removed and the family is now waiting for the pathology report. Please keep praying for them.

Convenience. I am thinking that convenience, that thing that we so seek after, may in fact be an enemy. To the extent that convenience is doing the easy thing, or doing the thing that everyone else is doing, it is an enemy.

Fulfillment rarely comes from following the crowd. Nothing worthwhile in life ever comes easy. A moment of convenience? Sure. Enjoy it. A life that is designed around convenience, forget it. Shun it. Run from it.

Seek the life that swims upstream. When life gets too easy, too convenient, we don't grow. Difficulty simply disguises opportunities for us to engage the grace that Jesus is trying to develop within us.

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

Thursday, July 9, 2009

8:30 am

Today at 8:30am Ryan Cunningham, age 7 will be having surgery to remove a brain tumor at Children's Mercy Hospital. Please pray for Ryan and his parents Dana and Michelle.

I was introduced to a flower child writer named Hugh Prather. In 1970 he published the book "Notes to Myself" subtitled, "my struggle to become a person." Thanks to Grace W for the introduction.

I was kind of taken by the message in the preamble:

If I had only forgotten future greatness
and looked at the green things and the buildings
and reached out to those around me and smelled the air
and ignored the forms and the self-styled obligations
and heard the rain on the roof
and put my arms around my wife

.......and it's not too late

The part I like the best about the quote is this: "and it's not too late." What a joyful reminder that I can truly live today if I just do it. I can change. I can be aware, awake, alive to those wonderful things around me. If you are too busy and life is living's not to late. It's not to late to listen to the birds sing. If God gave you breath today, it is not too late. We can wake from our slumber and be alive to the gifts in God's world.

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Can Jesus be the only way?

A dear friend asked me to comment on the question. It is a question that many people ask. Is Jesus the only way? Here is what I have on the topic............

Jn 14:6 says.............
6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. NIV

As a Christian minister, I believe that the scriptures teach that Jesus is the way. That is my view and my obligation in visiting with people about faith. I will always point them to faith in God through Christ.

I am concerned when some Christians take the next step though, and begin to determine that because of this passage, we get to decide who is going to heaven and hell. No where in Scripture are we given the right to judge others or to decide who the good ones and the bad ones are. Our job is to plant the seeds and water them and let God do His work.

As a Wesleyan Methodist minister, this is the historic view of our denomination. Many Methodists, when confronted with the question regarding Jesus’ unique claim about himself, take some degree of comfort in reading John Wesley’s sermon 106 on Faith:

We cannot say that Jews are going to hell because they have not accepted Jesus. Abraham and many others are mentioned as being in heaven, but they never accepted Jesus. Romans 10-11 makes it clear that the Jews are the original tree that Christians have been grafted into. God is not done with them and although it does not fit into many people’s theological box, in my opinion we cannot scripturally say that they are going to hell.

Romans 1:20 opens the door to another issue, and that is that God has done so much work in creation, that even people who have never heard the name of Jesus are held accountable. They are without excuse. I don’t know what that means exactly, except that God is calling all people to himself and they are accountable, just because of his revelation in creation. If they are being held accountable, then it would stand to reason to me, that some of them will respond well to his revelation. But again, it is not up to me to decide who gets in and who doesn’t, that is God’s decision. I take comfort in knowing that he is working outside the walls of the established church.
Finally, I think we need to understand that salvation is the work of God, not man. Salvation is about God working in the lives of people. God always plays the principle role in the drama of rescue. If we believe that God is all present, and if we believe that he wants to seek and save the lost, [Luke 19:10] then we have to conclude that he is working everywhere with everyone, trying to win them. We may not believe the same as Jewish or Muslim people, but God is working in their places of worship to win them to himself. If God can find Paul on the road to Damascus, Moses hiding in the desert, the woman at the well, the thief on the cross, Cornelius in Acts 10, then I just have to believe that he has people in the world that he has reached that may not fit our theological constructs. Ruth was not an Israelite, neither was Rahab. There are many people who God welcomes into his family in the scriptures that I think some churches sadly would not welcome into their membership.

Most people that I know that consider themselves Christians are ok with Jesus being the way, they just don’t want to have that mean that everyone else is damned to hell. They cannot perceive of a God who sends everyone else, including those who have not heard, to hell. When we understand that God is working in every town, in every “religion” trying to win people to himself, then we can trust in God’s goodness to reach people and we don’t have to try and decide who is saved and who isn’t because that is not up to us anyway.

If I meet a Jew, I will speak to him of Jesus. If I meet a Muslin, I will look for my chances to share about the Savior of the world. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. But, I will always take comfort in the fact that God is bigger than our doctrines, that he is working everywhere to win people, and that mercy rejoices over judgment.

I hope that helps clarify my personal belief. I believe that my views are comprehensively scriptural and completely Wesleyan.

I love you all, and the great questions that you have.

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

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

hearing the birds

This is difficult but I think I need to tell the story. I have been honored. Someone has singled me out and said some very nice things. I hate to bring it up, but it is wrong for me to not tell you about this man, because one day, he may be your pastor. And if he is, you will be the better for it.

I met Shawn Franssens when he was the pastor at St. Mark's in Independence. I liked him from the beginning. Sometimes pastors can be proud and haughty. Not a sniff of this in Shawn. Good hearted, kind, normal. Now there is something that you don't always find in a pastor: normal. We became friends. At annual conference this year, he was ordained an elder. When you are ordained you can ask one of your friends to lay hands on you as the Bishop lays his hand on you. Shawn asked me to do this. It is one of the most significant honors of my life. The Bishop says, "take thou the authority to preach the word." And you are there, praying for your friend. Thinking about every sermon that he will preach, every life that he will touch, and asking God for a double portion of His spirit. That was a very special moment.

Now Shawn has gone a bit further. He has started a daily blog titled, "hearing the birds." You can find it at The following is what he has written in the margin of his blog:

We all need mentors. People that have wisdom to share with us. Who for a moment, a season or a lifetime we go to when we need an ear, a piece of advice, a supporter, a confidant, a friend.Rev. Jeff Brinkman is my mentor. He asks in his musings about life... "Can you hear the birds sing?"This blog is my attempt to share the many ways I hear the birds singing in my life.

Well, I hate to tell you about this, but it would be a dishonor to him to not tell you. Please check out his blog and be praying for my friend Shawn.

I hope that you have people that love you. It is such a blessing.

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

Monday, July 6, 2009


Yesterday was my birthday. I received lots of cards and posts on facebook. Thank you all for your kind words. We had a nice service at church, then I got to do some of my favorite things: lunch after church, and a nap. I even got to pull some weeds in the afternoon.

Two years ago when I turned 50, Scott made fun of me saying, "hey Dad, you are old!" I told him, "Son, I have known many people who did not get the chance to be 50. I hope some day you get the opportunity." That changed his tune.

It is good. It is all good.

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

Sunday, July 5, 2009


My momma used to say, "no one makes you mad, you choose to be mad." How long do we have to live to get that one right?

I was upset about something the other day and I remembered what one of my favorite authors, Anthony Demello said, "if you are angry, there is usually something wrong with you." He also talks about attachment and detachment. When we identify too closely with one thing or another, we are attached to that person or thing. When they mess up, we feel messed up because we get ourselves confused with them.

When I can remember that I am not them, and I am not what they did, then I can get back to living this day that the Lord has given. Detached from the silliness of some event or decision, I am free to get back to who I really am. No one makes you mad, you choose to be mad. Thanks Mom, and thanks for having me 52 years ago today.

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

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4th

I shot these photos last year on the 4th. Movies that will surely be on this weekend..... Saving Private Ryan, The Longest Day, the Patriot.

As a cats. Black cats that cannot be shot off until 8am. House rule. Later in the day, watermelon, Ward Parkway Swimming Pool, Laying in the grass watching big fireworks.

On July 4th the whole country stops to give thanks, as we should. Have fun today, but pause to give thanks for the gifts of America and the sacrifice that made it all possible.

We are having church tomorrow, so don't stay out too late.

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

Friday, July 3, 2009

Baseball, hotdogs....

Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. I guess I would put those 4 things in that order. We are in St. Louis for a family reunion. It has been years since I have seen my cousins. Yes, I will be back for church on Sunday. Last night, we went to the Cardinals game. We were treated very well thanks to Pastor Greg Weeks form Concord-Trinity UMC.

At 4pm a member of his church took us down onto the field to watch batting practice. There was a little rope to keep you off the grass. Our guide took us to the other side. I touched the grass of Busch Stadium. We took pictures of the players and the stadium. We got to meet the Giants manager.

Not done yet. Ate our fill in the Champions Club. Very cool. Great seats. Jenny got a baseball. 80 degrees. Awesome.

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

Thursday, July 2, 2009

the gift of time

You can buy someone a present. You can buy them lunch. You can do all sorts of things for people.

One of the finest gifts that can be given to another is the gift of your time. Time to listen. Time to care. Time to look into their eyes and see their soul. Time to encourage them.

Just being with someone is not what I am talking about. You can have lunch with someone and not be "present." You can go on a trip with your kids and ignore them. You can be married and not be "together." You get my point.

Spending time with another. An hour at lunch. 5 mins in the office. A moment in line at the grocery store. Me and you together in this world. It's a gift. It's a great gift. Slow down. Be present. Spend real time with folks. Let them see into your soul.

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


6:30am. Sitting on the deck. Outside on July 1st! 65 degrees! Wrought iron table. Tiki umbrella. Shade trees. A cup of coffee. The dog isn't even barking! What could go wrong with a beautiful start to a day like this.

Opps I lied. The dog is barking now. Have you ever asked yourself what dogs are saying when they bark? It all sounds the same to me. Let me out. Let me in. No, I meant out. Who is that stranger. Out. In. Bark, bark bark.

Today your church staff is going on a mission trip to Harvesters. If you don't know what Harvesters is, they provide bulk foods to needy people through many local ministries. Because of your generosity, they help to feed the folks at our sister church Camino Verdad Y Vida.

It is important for all of us to be connected to something in missions. If we aren't connected in missions in some way, it is just too easy to start thinking that the world is really revolving around me. To be in mission is to see the needs of others. It helps us keep our lives in perspective. It allows us to become the hands and feet of Christ. If you have a free morning or evening sometime, pick one of our missions and go see what they are doing. You will be glad that you did.

Opps I've got to go. The dog wants something.

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