Friday, December 31, 2010

resolution time

What if everyone made this their one and only resolution?

Matthew 22
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”


How would this change our lives…our world? How would our views and opinions about matters be affected? How would we treat our family, our friends, strangers, our leaders, and people on the other side of the world, and on and on….

It seems like a good idea doesn’t it? Especially when you think about who said it. Seems like a massive undertaking though. So where do we start? How about one person at a time. There will be those who don’t/can’t get it. More than likely their souls are damaged and they need to be healed first. Perhaps they need a double dose of what you can offer…..

We can be a part of this process of healing people and the world. Each day we can extend love, grace, mercy, and compassion just like Christ showed us….

John 10:10
I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest.



Peace,
Lion’s Den Man

Thursday, December 30, 2010

a message

I enjoy books and movies. Some seem to have so much to offer that I don’t catch all of what was said the first time around. Currently I am reading a book for the third time…..new notes…and new thoughts. The other day I watched a movie that I had seen a few times before. This time I caught a message that I had missed before. Maybe I was suppose to catch it this time around.

From “A River Runs Through It”, a piece of a sermon given by the father who was a Presbyterian Minister.

“Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding.” Rev. Maclean

Peace,
Lion’s Den Man

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

whats going on

Well, here is what is really going on with me. I have a problem at home. With a child. It is eating our lunch. I am finding it impossible to write this blog. I am carrying a cloud with me every where that I go. We will get to the other side of this eventually, but right now it is occupying my thoughts almost constantly.

Consequently, I do not feel that I have much to say in this blog. I wake in the morning and I have only one thing on my mind. It is just a dark night of the soul right now. I have thought about dropping the blog, but I don't really want to. So, let me ask you.... please help me take my mind off of this stuff. Give me some topics that you want me to write about, and I will.

Just post a comment here and give me some topics to write about, and I will have some material for the next few weeks. I really appreciate your help.

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

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

facebook

I need to let you know that I am going to take down my facebook page in the next few days. I don't ever check it and I find the messaging system to be problematic. If you want to send me an email and you have been using facebook, please email me at jeffb@woodschapelchurch.org

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

Monday, December 27, 2010

well

Well. I am finally well. I was sick for almost two weeks. It is wonderful to feel like a human being again. One of the things that is actually good about being sick is that it makes you appreciate being well.

We are so funny. We take feeling well for granted. We shouldn't. It is a blessing to be healthy, and being sick every now and then is a good reminder that the ability to breath is indeed something to be thankful for.

Thank you God, for daily breath.

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

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dec 26

It is officially December 26th. Christmas is over. Long lines to return things at the stores. Low attendance at church, high attendance in the return lines.

A problem with a kid. Worries about the future. I feel like I am in a scene from the movie Parenthood. Life. It's all back. Where is Jesus? He is still here. Waiting for me, waiting for you.

And isn't this the perfect illustration of why we need to choose him? Life and it's stuff just does not go away. So........

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

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day

Merry Christmas! It is 8:10am. It is a happy day. We survived yesterday with all the services, and I am looking forward to a down day today. Tomorrow we have church, regular times, I will be there and I hope to see you.

At my house today, three are awake and two are still in bed. Mine are old enough that they like to sleep in. In the old days, the presents would all be opened by 8am, now, there does not seem to be any rush.

I have received several nice emails about this sermon series and some of the changes that folks have made in their Christmas. One of the ones that comes to mind this morning, is the person who said that for Christmas, they were going to sit their family down and tell each one how much they love them and how special they are.

Today, that sounds like a good idea to me. there is less to open, so we are going to cook breakfast together, play a game and have a gift exchange. I am also going to tell them how much I love them, in a detailed and specific way.

Merry Christmas. I wish you a great day. It is a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is a work day for most preachers. While church friends may make fun of me the rest of the year for only working one day a week, when they see what happens on Christmas Eve, they take a short break from teasing me. Services today are at 10am, 4pm, 530, 7, 830 and 11pm.

What a joy it has been over the years as our church has grown, to offer more services and welcome more friends to come and share Christmas Eve with us. Christmas Eve is the one day with the most visitors of the entire year. Many people come out looking for a church and they will usually start off the new year with a new commitment to be active.

Today, no matter what service you go to, smile, shake a hand, be friendly and enjoy yourself. This is the night when we sing some wonderful songs and remember the story that changed the world. Merry Christmas Eve.

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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

thoughts on being sick

Well, I hope I can stop coughing before Christmas eve. This cold has been hanging on for a long time. You sleep for a few hours and then wake up and cough for an hour. This is a fairly nasty strain of junk that is going around right now. I hope that you don't get it.

The good news is that this is a temporary illness. I plan to get better. Another benefit of a cold is that it tends to slow you down so that you live life at a pace that is more normal. Being sick also makes you appreciate feeling well.

So, there is always a little bit of good in whatever the circumstances. Cold, nasty, winter day, awake at 240am, and I am still struggling with this cold. But...........

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

trees

I mentioned on Sunday that we had not decorated our tree. I received a wonderful note yesterday from a friend who has put up her tree for 50 years. Savoring the memory of every ornament collected over the years, her tree is a symbol of a life well lived. I loved the note and I am so happy for her.

Our tree is still half bare. Every five minutes it blows the breaker. There is no train around it and there are no presents under it. In some ways, it feels like a Charlie Brown Christmas at the Brinkman house.

But, there will be better days for our tree. Better times. Better memories, savoring a life that we are so pleased to have been given by God. So whether you have decorations up or not, whether you are buying lots of gifts or not, Christmas comes. Again this year, Christmas comes. God's message to the world and to us that he still loves us.

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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Africa 14

So, yesterday I mentioned that Americans do not get it. I want to be clear, I put myself smack in the middle of those who do not get it. I see in myself as much Americanism as I see in anyone. How I wish for a heart that only saw the world as God sees the world.

I am not ahead of anyone. I am behind most of you. But together, as we ask the questions, and are honest with ourselves, we can move into a relationship with the rest of the world that is more aware and more just.

Thank you for going on this journey with me. Is there anybody out there that wants to go to Africa in 2011? Guatemala? Jamaica?

Seeing is believing.

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

Monday, December 20, 2010

Africa 13

Africa 13. This hurts. Last night I was asked by a friend from church about my trip to Africa. She said, "so, tell me about your trip." A thought occurred to me that I had not been able to articulate before. It is a painful thought. This person is very cool, so I thought I could be honest with her.

She was fine with what popped out of my mouth. I wonder how everyone else will take this. What popped out of my mouth last night when asked about Africa was this, "Americans are arrogant. We just don't get it."

There, I said it. Having been to India some years prior, this friend was fine with what I said. I hope that you are.

We don't get it. We who live in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, we don't get it. We complain about things that most of the rest of the world laughs about. I wonder what God will really say to us when we stand before him.

I am thinking about the rest of my life and how I want to live. You can see, a trip like this will mess up your brain. I think of the John Lennon song, "and so it is Christmas, and what have you done?"

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

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Africa 12

I don't know that I have anything more to say about my trip to Africa at this time. I wish I were going back, but I am not sure of what exactly the purpose would be. Maybe there doesn't need to be one other than fellowship and sharing.

My heart is with the many new Friends that I made and I think of them and pray for them daily. My trip has disturbed the quiet nonchalance of my suburban American life. I suppose that that is good, although it is not a very comforting place for my brain to be.

If you have questions about Africa, I will try to answer them. Just let me know. I will also be hosting a report some night after the first of the year with the others that went on the trip. This will be for anyone in the congregation that wants to hear more.

As I think about the Advent Conspiracy, water for those who have not, the hole in the gospel book and my Africa trip, I wonder if there is some connection.

Today is church, and I will look forward to seeing all of you, my lovely friends in worship. God is good.

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

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas is coming

Strange Christmas this year for me. Fewer boxes, less wrapping, less scurrying around. All intentional.

The result so far, less worry, less tension, more time to think about what it really means. It isn't just that spending less allows me to give to the poor or to the water project at church, pulling back has allowed my brain the time and space to think about the story. Somehow in choosing to use our resources differently, our brains and souls have been touched.

I find myself thinking daily, not of the shopping list, but of the baby in the manger. No one has really been motivated to do much decorating this year at our house. Very few of the decorations have left the bins. For the first time ever, there are no Christmas lights on the house. Now I don't recommend this for everyone, but in some interesting ways, our home is lit up in ways that it has never been lit up before.

As we have endeavored to push out the commercial, we have made room for the eternal. I am thinking more about Jesus, and that can only be good.

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

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Christian Theology of evil

I may have posted this before, but it comes up so often I feel the need to get it out there again..........

A Christian Theology of Evil
An Outline

The basics.
Many Christians speak of God and speak of the devil but do not know who they are. They act as if we live in a dualistic world where two equal powers struggle for control. No question, there is struggle in the world, and there is sin and evil in the world, but God and Satan are not opposites.

Qualities of God:
All Knowing, All Present, All Powerful, Eternal

Qualities of Satan [the devil] and demons
Not all knowing, not all present, not all powerful, created.

What does this mean?
This means that God is in control. Remember Satan is a created being, an angel that fell from heaven. He is not from the beginning, God is. He is not everywhere in the world….God is. Satan is probably not at your house, he is probably working on Ussama Ben Laden. He cannot be in both places at the same time.

Prov 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
Jn 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Col 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

Only God deserves the attributes of a god. Satan is not equal to God and he is not the opposite of God. God made him and has allowed him to do his work for a short time. He does not deserve the attention that God does. He is operating in this world for a short time and will receive judgment in the end..

Gen 3:14-15 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Isa 14:12-15 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
2 Pet 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
Jude 1:6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

The limited created evil beings in the world are fighting a losing battle against the almighty power of God that works in the world through the Holy Spirit and those who call upon the name of the Lord.

Being led by the Holy Spirit and being possessed or oppressed by demons.
How does one become a Christian?
You choose to ask Jesus to come in.

How does one become possessed or oppressed by evil?
You choose to ask it to come in.

What does this mean?
It means that evil cannot come in and control you without you having opened the door. He/they cannot just sneak up on you and suddenly inhabit your life. You let in Jesus if you want to and you let in demons if you want to. Let me be clear, there is not room in the soul of a Christian for the Holy Spirit and demons. If you have accepted Jesus, you are infilled with the Holy Spirit. You cannot then be filled with the demonic. One or the other, never both.

Psa 91:9-11 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
1 John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

So is the devil real?
Yes the devil is real, but he is not the opposite of God. See above description. People can be possessed by him or by his demons. These are horribly frightening people. If you have ever met someone who was in such a state it would make a tremendous impression on you. Many people will live their entire lives and never see or meet someone who is possessed. Believe me, you don’t want to meet such people.

Mark 5:1-20
1They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.[a] 2When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil[b] spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. 6When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” 8For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” 9Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. 11A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. 14Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon possessed man–and told about the pigs as well. 17Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. 18As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him. 19Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis[c]how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Are there other sources of evil? Yes! Other sources of evil include: other people, yourself, and the world.
• People can choose to do evil things. They are responsible for their choices and usually they are not possessed when they choose evil. The human spirit is capable of evil choices without the benefit of or help of the demonic.
• Flip Wilson used to say “the devil made me do it.” He was wrong. He chose to do evil himself. All of us make bad choices and choose to do evil things. That is what sin is. It doesn’t mean that you are demon possessed. It means that you are human.
• The world has evil in it. Tornadoes, Hurricanes, earthquakes, disease. These things are common to human existence and are not the work of demons or the vengeful acts of God. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. The flu is the flu and a cold is a cold. It is not the oppression of the devil.

Does our language and our prayer life glorify God or Satan?
This is the real question.

CS Lewis once said that “the best thing that the Devil can do is to convince the world that he doesn’t exist.” Probably the second best thing for the Devil to do would be to get us to overemphasize his role or involvement in our lives, bringing him glory instead of God.

As believers we are called to lift up the name of Jesus and bring people to him. Most Christians will never see a demon possessed person in their life and would not necessary be prepared to deal with it if they did.

When our prayers refer to Jesus, he is lifted up. When our prayers refer to the devil and evil, they are exalted and fear is injected into the believers thought process.

If you are trusting in Jesus, you don’t have to be afraid of such evil. You are walking with the King. Many Christians unintentionally glorify Satan by including him in all of their prayers and daily chatter and banter. You can do that if you wish. Talking about evil fills people with worry. Talking about Jesus fills people with joy. I want to choose to lift up the name of Jesus. What about you?

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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

africa 11


Shipwrecks. One of the places that we stayed was a block from the beach. The beach was littered with boats, ships that were washed up on shore. I have never seen anything like it.
The boats were similar to the shrimp boats on Forest Gump.
I asked someone why the boats were there. Well, the motor quit on the boat. the owner did not have the money to fix the motor or maybe they could not find the parts. Finally the anchor gave way and the boat washed ashore. that was 5 years ago.
This is like nothing we have ever seen in the states. A boat washed ashore would be on the news and would be hauled off immediately. but, this is Africa and they sit on the beach for years. And I stand next to the boat and I wonder about the people who sailed her and what it feels like when you are adrift at sea and there is no Coast Guard to call.
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

africa 10


Wedding rehearsal. One night we saw a bunch of people at the church next door. We asked what was going on - a wedding rehearsal. Since there are so many funerals in Mozambique, a wedding is a very very very happy time. None of the worry, pressure, pomp and circumstance of an American wedding, this rehearsal gave us a glimpse into the joy of the Mozambique wedding.

The bride and her parents sat on one side on the front row. the groom and his parents on the other side front row. Extended family lined up on each side and served as competing choirs. Each in turn would stand and sing. Singing loud, swaying, joyfully, singing loudly. One family choir then the other. Then back to the first.

Somewhere in all of this, the bride, then the groom, then all the parents in turn, get up and dance their way to the platform, where they sign a document. All the while one choir or the other is singing, "sign, sign, sign it, siiiggn, sign." The excitement was absolutely amazing. We sat their and cried. If you have seen the video that was a u-tube sensation a year ago of the bridal party coming into the wedding, that is the level of excitement.

I intend to tell future wedding rehearsals about my experience there in hopes that they will relax and enjoy the joy of the moment.

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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

fire alarm

It was two nights ago. 11:55pm and the fire alarms are going off all over the house. This is the first house we have ever owned where the alarms are wired into the electrical of the house. There are about six of these things going crazy on the main floor and upstairs.

First I check every nook and cranny of the house. No fire. That is good. Then I call the alarm company. They tell me that this is not a part of their system. Then I go downstairs, find the panel and unplug the power. Nothing. Then I unplug the battery backup. Nothing. Nothing will stop this alarm. And it is LOUD.

I call the fire department non emergency line. A few minutes later the big truck rolls up outside our house. That is always a little embarrassing. I tell them the story. They tell me that there should be one smoke alarm that is flashing red. We look. Sure enough, we find it in a bed room. Evidently in this system, when one goes off, they all go off.

This one went off because it had collected enough dust that the chip inside thought there was a fire. The fireman took it down, blew on it, and put it back up. Every thing stopped. I thanked them, and apologized to them for getting them out late at night.

The moral of the story is that you really should change your batteries every year, even in an electrical system, there is a back up battery. And when you change your battery, be sure to blow thru the fins and vents on the alarm. You will get more sleep and so will the firemen. And, the dog, the poor dog will be happier too.

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

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pageant

Last night I saw the tenth installment of the children's Christmas pageant. As always, it was awesome. I think there were over 240 children that participated. I saw so much joy in their faces and so much happiness as they participated in the program and the night of Bethlehem activities afterwards.

As a challenging year comes to a close, I was so proud of our children and those who put on the pageant. It was a reminder that we have a great group of folks, we are a great group of folks, and that our mission is so very important.

Thank you.

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

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Africa 10

I keep writing these posts on Africa and I keep saying, "we have so much to be thankful for." I have a question for myself and for anyone else wants a piece of it- is it possible that just being thankful isn't enough? Maybe I out to try and do something about the enormous disparity between what I have and what they have.

And you know, it is not that I have a 6 year old Honda civic that has 100k miles on it [but is a really good car] and they have a car that is a 1979 AMC Pacer that barely runs. We often think of haves and have nots like, well, they have the stuff, but it is just not as nice of stuff.

This is completely different. I met people who do not have food and do not have clean water. They live with the constant veil of malaria hanging over their heads. How can I have so much, and they are so hungry that they will gladly welcome a half a sandwich from someone at a sidewalk cafe.

Imagine that is you or me. Walking by Chipolte on 40 highway, smelling the food. Hungry, but walking on. You have no money. Someone at one of the tables calls out to you and offers you the remaining part of their lunch. Inside you are ecstatic, but you don't want to show how happy you really are. You thank them and take the food. You go around the corner and eat every little bit of it.

We have so much to be thankful for.

What am I going to do about this?

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

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Africa 9

Lunch. We drove eight hours north to visit the Methodist mission at Chicuque. Half way there, is the town of Zxi-Zxi. We stopped there for lunch. The front door and the windows are open, so you deal with the regular collection of mosquitoes and flies while eating. You will notice that even at lunch time, there is plenty of room to park. There just aren't very many cars. The restaurant is owned by a Portuguese man and we were able to order omelets there. finding food that looked like home was always a welcome relief.
On this particular trip, everyone ordered egg sandwiches. The sandwiches were too big for us to eat, and they were mostly bread with an egg in between.
The guys behind us in the picture are selling things on the street. they sell books and DVDs hand lotion, etc. Anything that someone might buy, they walk from person to person and try to make a sale. Tim bought an atlas of Mozambique from one of them. Although they were sitting next to our sidewalk table, they did not bother us.
We began to look at the food on our plates and wondered if the young men would be interested in an egg sandwich. Well, the answer was clear. YES. and thank you very very much. We all handed over entire sandwiches and halves of sandwiches and they were so very thankful.
Normal people, trying to work to make a living. Nice people. Hungry people.
We have so much to be thankful for.
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Africa 8

Pets. Almost non-existent. How many billions do we spend on pets in the US? We have a dog and two cats at our home. The dog food is $35 a bag. After that, there are haircuts, trips to the vet, and doggie treats.

In Mozambique, I saw one cat and four dogs the entire time. All four dogs were guard dogs at businesses. Like junk yard dogs. Dogs on the road, none. Dogs in the neighborhood, none. Dogs in the city running around, none. Dogs at someone's home, none.

The cat was a skinny little thing that was adopted by the Methodist mission in Chicuque. It had no food bowl or water bowl, it ate whatever it could find and occasionally the cook would throw it a little something. If you knelt down to pet it, it would allow about two strokes, then it would paw at you for food. As most Africans, it' s life was about finding food.

If you have a pet and enjoy your dog or cat, remember that this is a huge blessing that most people in the world do not enjoy. In fact, my dog may be off of dog treats for a while. I am going to send the money to my new friends in Mozambique.

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

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Africa 7

Hospitality. The Methodists in Africa greeted us with unmatched joy and hospitality. They fed us better food than they eat. They put us up to sleep in their best quarters. They were always kind, always polite, always gracious.

25 members of the church met us at the airport and were singing "we welcome you, we welcome you," as we walked through the international zone and onto Mozambique soil. There was very little "me" about these people. We were not an interruption to their schedules, we were friends that they were glad to host.

Hospitality. Grace. Love. All good stuff.

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

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

joy

Please allow me to take a break from the Africa stories so that you can REJOICE WITH ME! I have three children. The oldest, Allison is graduating from college on Saturday with a BS in nursing from UCM [Warrensburg]. That is pretty exciting! To birth a child, teach them to tie their shoes. Walk them through the grade school then teenage years, high school then college. What a joy.

Here is the pay off. Yesterday, after several interviews, Alli was offered and has accepted a job at St. Luke's East Hospital as an RN. Is that exciting or what!

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

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Africa 6

Food. What did they eat? What did we eat? The common people of Mozambique eat rice, bananas, mangoes, coconuts and anything else that they can grow. If they are fortunate they get a chicken on occasion. The man that drove us around is well off by Mozambique standards. His family eats meat once per week. And of course there are wealthy folks [a few] that eat as we do in America.

So when the Americans come to visit and there is a fellowship dinner after church with chicken and beef, this is real news. In fact, if we could keep the church supplied with chickens, they could have the kind of dinners after church on Sunday that would draw a crowd. The women cook outside over open fires and on Saturday I took pictures of a cow being carved up on a table next to the tin roof fellowship hall. a fryer chicken costs $3.

When we sat down to breakfast at the guest house, the meal consisted of one egg each, bread, and occasionally something that looked like spam. Lunch and dinner were chicken, rice, soup, and maybe fish or beef. We were well taken care of, and I was surprised at the amount of food that they put on our table. I was surprised until I found out that the food on our table was also meant to feed the cooks and security guards.

After we were done eating, you would find the cooks and security guards eating breakfast- bread and jam. And after dinner, eating whatever was left. This tended to cause us to eat a little less so that there was more for them.

We should always be thankful when we sit down to a plate of food because we are so blessed and so many others do not have the basics.

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

Monday, December 6, 2010

Africa 5

People walking. In Mozambique, very few people have cars. At the dedication service, 600 people attended. I'll bet there weren't 10 cars at the church. The people walk everywhere they go, or they ride in a mini bus.

The mini-buses are privately owned and you see a lot of them in the city. It was not uncommon to count 19 people or more in a Toyota van. They pay a little bit to ride and the money goes to the owner of the van.People walking. In the city, along the highway, out in the middle of no where, people are walking. They are carrying everything. Bags, water jugs, something to sell, children. They are going somewhere and they are walking. It is a part of their life. It is common for them to walk miles simply to get water or buy a loaf of bread.

This is an example of how I wish my children could have gone on the trip with me and really seen how the people live. My kids have cars. People in Mozambique walk. Seeing how the rest of the world lives can often make us more grateful for the blessings that we have.

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

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Africa 4


Sister church. The main purpose of our visit was to celebrate with our sister church, the dedication of their new sanctuary. Our sister church is in a Maputo suburb named Zimpeto. The church is named for the first bishop of the Mozambique church, Bishop Zunguzee. The church has about 600 on Sunday mornings. they have built, with your help, a very nice new sanctuary. The first picture shows the current Bishop of Mozambique praying over the corner stone on dedication Sunday.

The church is populated with wonderful people. Humble, kind and joyful. The have an amazing choir and tons of young people. There are lots of young people, because the life expectancy is lower than in America. I saw very few people older than I was on the trip.

The Sunday dedication service was four hours long. We sat on the platform and enjoyed being a part of their family that day. The highlights of the service to me was the singing of the choir and the way that they receive the offering. Very very joyful.

Please read the inscription on the corner stone and pray for your brothers and sisters at the Bishop Zunguzee church in Zimpeto. They are praying for you.

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

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Africa 3

The people. The people that i met in Africa were wonderful. Kind, humble, caring. I have visited some other cultures where the predominant message that you get from the people was "give us more stuff." This was not my experience in Mozambique.

The people at our sister church and the other Methodists that i met, were interested in friendship, caring, prayer, relationship, and mutuality. They gladly shared everything they had with you.

There was no sense of entitlement that I saw, anywhere in the country. Teens and youths seemed to work willingly and acted like constructive members of the community. When I asked about this, "why do the young people work so hard?" The answer I received was, "they know if they don't, they will die."

A culture that is survival based and subsistence oriented, seems to keep people focused on the really basic things of life. Staying alive and caring for others.

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

Friday, December 3, 2010

Africa 2

The Orphanage. An eight hour drive north of the capital city of Maputo, there is a left turn off of the National highway. National highway is the only paved road running north and south in the country. Actually, it is only paved for part of the way, but we will chase that another day.

Eight hours north of Maputo, you turn left onto a dirt road and drive about three miles to an area called Campini. The main things in this area are the Methodist church, seminary, agricultural project and orphanage.

The orphanage houses 54 children. Three adults care for them. Cooking is in an outdoor kitchen and the children live in squalor. Their condition is much improved thanks to nice buildings that were paid for and constructed by the Platte Woods UMC in North KC.

What Sally Struthers shows us on TV, I saw in person. Lonely children, orphaned by AIDS. There are no creature comforts here. The orphanage keeps them fed and the workers there do all that they can to love and care for the children, but it is a rustic place to say the least. In our country, either family services or the health department would close the place in a heartbeat, but it is all that these children have.

So, count your blessings and pray for the young Methodists in Campini, Mozambique.

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

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Africa 1

I am home from 10 days in Africa. Thank you for all who prayed for me and for Lion's Den Man and others who wrote on the blog. The visit to Mozambique has touched me in a profound way. I am not even sure how to sort through all of it at this time. I hope that some of what I saw and learned never leaves me. I am going to write about Africa for a while. I may take a break if something noteworthy comes about, but I have many things to share.

Most of the people that live in Mozambique, not some, but most, do not have electricity or running water. Consequently, for most, there is no food preservation, no water at the sink, no modern toilet, etc. No Air conditioning, no TV, no refrigerator. Food is a day to day concern. If you are rich, you may have candles and matches to light the way at night. The toilet is a hole in the ground not far from your front door.

When I consider how most of these people live and what they go through just to stay alive, I am horrified by my lifestyle. Sorry to say, but it is true, we Americans have it all too comfortable by the standards of most others in this world.

So I am working hard to keep my thoughts from being a downer. Let me say that I am thankful to God for every blessing that we have. I am also praying about what it means to be a member of the Kingdom of God in a circle of Methodist friends that just got a lot bigger. And, I am going to be saying it 1,000 times........ "most all of what we are concerned about, probably everything that we are concerned about, fuss about, worry about, get excited about, probably all of it, just really does not matter."

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

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

addiction

Last night I caught the end of a movie "Scrooged". Not necessarily a Christmas classic but one that ends with a good message. Give. Give yourself. Give to others. It feels good. It is addictive.........

It's the kind of addiction that makes God smile. WCC has many good things to support...to many to mention. Maybe start with Water.org or feeding the homeless at Westport or help out this season ringing the bell for the Salvation Army..... just to name a few. If this is already your thing then help get someone else addicted....they will thank you for it.


Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

give thanks, day 30

Today I am thankful for the leaders of our church….their vision….and their commitment to making WCC a positive, thriving environment where people are connected to Jesus Christ. They go the extra mile.

John Maxwell writes: A person with an extra mile attitude is someone who…..
• Cares more than others think is wise.
• Risk more than others think is safe.
• Dream more than others think is practical.
• Expect more than others think is possible.
• Work more than others think is necessary.

Many, many thanks for and to these people.

Peace,
Lion’s Den Man

Monday, November 29, 2010

give thanks, day 29

Well the Thanksgiving break has come to an end. It is time for routine to take over again. I am thankful for the extra time I had to spend with my family to just hang out and do stuff without having the demands of work hanging over me. Kids activities were put to a halt and school with its demands also disappeared for a few days. Things....time....just slowed down a bit for a few days. Just having that non-structured time to interact with each other makes me thankful. I don't want to forget times like this.....I am thankful for these days.

Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Sunday, November 28, 2010

give thanks, day 28

Today I am thankful for authors/writers and the way they have with words. The idea may not always be a new one, but the twist they put on it can bring a fresh perspective to how we should see things. I read this yesterday, "how you treat the creation reflects how you feel about the creator." That reminder is one to be thankful for....

Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Saturday, November 27, 2010

give thanks, day 27

(thank you "Fisher of Men" for the following post....LDM)


I am thankful for a father’s love for his son. I love my son with all my heart and being just as God loved his one and only son. My son did not get to spend Thanksgiving with us this year. It was not that he didn’t want to it is due to the fact that he is thousands of miles away in Iraq serving his country and finishing up what he volunteered to do. Over the past 8 months I have struggled with him being gone and not being close to him. With Skype and the internet I have been able to keep in contact with him but it is still not the same as being able to hug his neck and tell him that I love him in person.

I have prayed that God will keep him safe and as his time to leave Iraq is just days away I find myself thinking of him and praying even harder that he will be safe. Eight months of service and so far he has come through ok but my biggest fear, as a Dad, is that something might happen as he is so close to being home.

As his departure gets closer I have been thinking about my son more and more. He is not the little boy he used to be. He is not 8 or 12 or even 16, and as a parent we wonder how our guidance and directions have helped or hurt our kids as they get older. He is now 23 years old and he has grown into a fine young man with a heart of gold.

My love for my son is stronger and deeper than it ever has been. Isn’t that how it should be with our Heavenly Father’s love towards us? There is nothing we can do to stop God from loving us and I know that is the same as with my son.

My son will be back in time for us to celebrate Christmas with him. I have missed him so. What a joy that will be to celebrate the Birth of Jesus coming into this world and to celebrate the safe return of my son and my hero! I am very proud of him! I am so thankful for a father’s love!


Fisher of Men

Friday, November 26, 2010

give thanks, day 26

I am thankful for humor especially for those who have the ability to make others laugh... what a stress relief it can be. The other day at work things were stressful to say the least then out of nowhere someone walks in and tells a joke...which leads to someone else telling a joke...and the laughter gets louder and then someone else walks in to join the "party" and before you know it there are eight people adding to the joke conversation not even remembering the first one that was told.

It is great to hear people laugh and see tears from that laughter. We need more of that.

Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Thursday, November 25, 2010

give thanks, day 25

I am thankful for this day of thanksgiving. This day has become a day of reflection as well as one of celebration for me. A day where I think about the people in my life and what they mean to me. I remember those who are no longer here and how they helped to shape me. I look at those who are younger than I and wonder where life will take them and how they might remember me. It is a day that I not only give thanks for God's provision's, but for the people He has brought into my life. I find peace in this day and for that I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

give thanks, day 24

(below is another post from a friend...thank you)

I am thankful for how wonderful life is...in the light of how it could have been. That may sound like a not-so-thankful posture from which to praise God for His goodness and faithfulness in my life, but think about it. Don't we tend to rejoice or grieve based on where the acceptable bar is set...that place on which our eyes are fixed?

If I am having a health problem, and I am surrounded by those with more severe problems, I tend to be thankful I am not worse. If, on the other hand, I'm surrounded by athletes and hard bodies...I may tend to grieve my condition.

So...as I write this short confession on my pattern of thinking, I am convicted. How unlike Jesus is it to view my station in life in proportion to the perceived condition of those within my scope of attention!

My mind goes to the jail cell from which the Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians. This is great...imagine yourself in a foreign jail cell...this may take a while so don't rush..........are you in the jail cell yet? Away from those you love...and writing a letter. Give yourself time to settle in on whatever is your condition. Bad food? musty smell? dirty? unsavory company? angry guards? and your innocent! it's not fair.

Read a short part of Paul's jail cell letter...your alone...read it out loud, right where you sit.

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now...Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance...For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain..."

I read it again and again...slowly, praying that God will move in me, generating such a genuine joy ...overflowing...erupting out of my heart in such a way that points my world to Him. It doesn't happen as I focus on others. Rather, may this be a day that I focus on God's crazy love for me and determine my response will be a reflection of His love to others.

What if God chooses to show Himself through me so clearly that others are drawn to Him...in their pain and struggle. And the process of being drawn to Him transforms their experience of pain and struggle into an "I-have-learned-to-be-content-in-whatever-condition-I-live" reality.

I am thankful today for His presence in my life, and His promise that if I draw near to Him...He'll draw near to me. That's enough to turn a day around.

Thanksgiving...maybe it's about my relationship with God more than what I have...where I am...and what I'm doing. Thanksgiving and Contentment...maybe they're twins.

Work-in-process

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

give thanks, day 23

A Growing Challenge

Something “clicked”. One day my children couldn’t read and the next they could. Now, it’s really not that simple, there’s a lot of hard work that goes into learning to read - lots of patience and practice. Still, it’s simply amazing how their brains have done what brains do and now they’re reading.

Being around a child who is learning to read is an amazing experience. Watching and hearing as the connections are made (the letters becoming sounds, becoming words, becoming thoughts) stirs a great sense of wonder in me.

As I think about my children learning to read, I am drawn to consider the experiences I have had struggling to master a new skill or task. Those puzzles which cause me to stop and scratch my head. The obstacles I have to work to overcome. Like reading, the pieces of life which open me to new ways of experiencing the world.

As I reflect, I recognize I haven’t always appreciated such difficulties. Yet, I’m finding it is in these times and through these experiences that I grow the most.

New strategies are developed. Relationships are tested and strengthened. New ideas are born. Most importantly, I am invited into a deeper understanding of God’s presence in my life and in the world.

Maybe you are experiencing challenges in your life? If so, I invite you to join me in thanking God for those challenges. They are a chance to grow closer to one another and closer to God. Growing through challenges…for this I am thankful and I pray you are as well.

Shawn Franssens

Monday, November 22, 2010

give thanks, day 22

I have a few friends that are going to help post while Jeff is away. I am thankful for their help........LDM

thankful....

We live in the greatest country in the world where we have the freedom to choose our leaders through a process that has lasted for over 234 years. I am thankful for the service men and women who have served our country in peace and war time. We have religious freedom to serve our God in our own faith in the place of worship that we choose is a freedom our ancestors fought to maintain, I am thankful to be an American.

Dave Coffman

Sunday, November 21, 2010

give thanks, day 21

Today I am thankful for being older. Older than what? Older than I was. Yes it is true that I am slower, and fatter, and everything else that goes with that. Yes it is true that I have a bad knee and I am starting to lose my hearing. The hair, well, what can I say.

But along with the obvious challenges to being 53, there are the joys. My children are growing up well. My oldest is getting ready to graduate college and enter the work force!!!!!! I have seen so many places. I have met and loved so many people. I am a little more relaxed. A little easier to get along with. A little more loving. Older isn't always a bad thing. After all, we all have friends that died in their 40's.

So today, I am thankful for the journey, all 53 years.

PS- tomorrow, Charlie F, Tim C and I will be leaving for a ten day trip to Mozambique. Our sister church there is dedicating their new sanctuary and they wanted some of us to join them for the celebration. It is a 22 hour plane flight. Please keep us in your prayers.

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

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Give thanks, day 20

These quotations were provided by Irene P.

gratitude is the sign of noble souls - Aesop

If you can't be thankful for what you receive, be thankful for what you escape.

If the only prayer that you ever say in your life is thank you, it will be enough. Meister Eckhart

the way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost - GK Chesterton

When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people. Abraham Joshua Heschel

The greatest joy is appreciation. Once you have something in life and almost lose it and mange to get it back, you learn about appreciation. Sid Caesar

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. -Hazeldon

There are two kinds of gratitude: the sudden kind we feel for what we take; and the larger kind we feel for what we give. E. A. Robinson

One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay “in kind” somewhere else in life. Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I had no shoes and complained, until I met a person who had no feet.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings. One can pay back the loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind. Malayan Proverb

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live them. John F. Kennedy

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds. Theodore Roosevelt

The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost. G. K. Chesterton

Normal Day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky, and want, more than all the world, your return. Mary Jean Iron

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

Friday, November 19, 2010

Celebrate your can, because you can

The following post is by Erin Swanson, who attends Woods Chapel ::

Hi friends, it’s me again. If you missed my post in October, you can read it here. Jeff kindly agreed to let me guest post again today because it is one of my favorite holidays: World Toilet Day!

Nope, I’m absolutely not joking. Today I ask you to join me in taking a second and think about your toilet. Would it shock you to know that more people on earth have cell phones than access to a toilet? Fecal matter is the leading cause of infection worldwide. And in India alone, the number of people who practice open defecation is double the population of the U.S.

Pretty outrageous. Especially because only 100 years ago, we faced the same problems and disease from lack of safe water and sanitation that the developing world suffers from today. It was sweeping reforms in these areas that allowed human development and economic progress to leap forward.

I think the hope we have right now is twofold. 1) It is all preventable, and the solutions are simple and cost-effective. 2) We can do something about it. And we are! The Woods Chapel community is participating in Advent Conspiracy beginning at the end of this week, to raise money for sustainable water and sanitation programs in two communities in rural Haiti through Water.org.

[Water.org is a KC-based international nonprofit that has been working with communities around the world to deliver sustainable water and sanitation solutions for 20 years. I’ve worked here for almost 2 ½ years, loving it, and learning that sanitation, water, and health and hygiene go hand-in-hand. When all of these are implemented together in a project, change is long-term and life-changing. It’s all about the holistic approach!]

And so today, I ask you to do a few things:

1) Reflect on the importance of a toilet, a safe place to take care of business. Maybe read “Four Ways a Toilet Can Change a Girl’s Life” and see the transformation that comes from getting a toilet for the first time.

2) Check out and send this link about World Toilet Day [complete with funny toilet facts, shocking facts, and ways to spread the word on the social networks] to a friend, coworker, or family member.

3) Check out some pictures of toilets from around the world.

4) Talk about Advent Conspiracy with your family, the life-changing power of clean water and a toilet, and how you’d like to participate the month of December. Water.org can bring one person clean water for life for only $25, and a toilet for only $30.

5) Pray for those in need around the world, and ways that we can best work with them to obtain access to life’s most basic and precious necessities.

6) Take some time to see what God can show you and do in your heart. The theme/symbol of water is a really neat one to see used throughout His Word.

7) And if you have time, watch this great 4 minute video of some young students in India talk about the importance a toilet.

Thank you, dear family, for reading/listening to me again, and for joining me on this journey! I can’t tell you how excited I am for Advent Conspiracy, and to share in this important work with you.

Happy World Toilet Day!
Erin

Thursday, November 18, 2010

give thanks, day 18

Today I am thankful for things that hurt. It seems like an odd thing to be thankful for, but when you hurt, you tend to pray more. You spend more time thinking about who you are, what you are doing and why you are doing it.

So, if you hurt today, there is still some good. Take it to the Lord in prayer.

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

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

give thanks, day 17

Today I am thankful for mercy. Mercy is "not getting what you deserve." God gives us mercy when we are loved instead of condemned. Mercy is a cousin of grace and is rooted in God's love.

We receive mercy from God, and we are asked to give it to others. To forgive, to release, to embrace those whom we otherwise might want to spank. To hurt back is human, to offer mercy is divine.

Mercy. Good to get. Good to give. Try a little bit today.

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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

give thanks, day 16

Today I am thankful for perseverance, for the ability to bear up in difficult times and overcome. We humans don't like to face adversity, but when it comes, aren't we glad for tenacity. I can't say that I am thankful for hard times, but I am thankful for the ability that God gives us to overcome and continue to trust him.

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

Monday, November 15, 2010

give thanks, day 13

Today I am thankful for a boss who is a good man. Many bosses use their power to "Lord it over" their employees. We have all heard horror stories of people who work under the direction of those who treat them poorly. If you are in such a circumstance, I pray for you.

I give thanks today for a boss that truly cares for me and all that work for him. He is someone who has a heart for Christ and carries himself in a kind way. The way that he treats people endears others to him. I am so very fortunate, I am so very grateful to have this good man in my life.

It may not be bosses day or bosses month, but if you have a good boss, there is nothing wrong with telling him or her "thank you." After all, it is the season of giving thanks.

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

Sunday, November 14, 2010

give thanks, day 14

Today I am thankful for many things. But let me stay with something simple - a good night's sleep. I am thankful for this because worry, illness and other things can keep you from it. A good night's sleep is nothing to be taken for granted. To wake rested and with joy in one's heart is indeed a gift from God that we can be thankful for.

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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

give thanks, day 13

Today I am thankful for life. God woke me up today and gave me the gift of this day. Daily breath. I should be thankful every day for this simple gift, so often taken for granted.

One day I will not wake, and my family will plan my funeral. So for today, and everyday that God gives, I rejoice. I savor it. I am thankful.

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

Friday, November 12, 2010

give thanks, day 12

Today I am thankful for vacations. I am also thankful for Lion's Den Man posting while I was on vacation. I am also thankful that my son has moved back home. :)

What are you thankful for?

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

Thursday, November 11, 2010

give thanks, day 11

today I am headed to a meeting where I will meet some new people and learn some new things. Each day presents an opportunity for us to grow, to learn, to share, to improve. Maybe it is as simple as learning a new way to do an old routine. Maybe it is an opportunity to share or help a stranger or a friend. An opportunity to teach. A chance to take on a new task or challenge. The key is to look not at the ground, but at the world around you. It is to easy to get caught in a rut and miss out on what God places before us. So today I give thanks for all the things that come into my life that will help me to grow and change and improve.

Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

give thanks, day 10

today I am thankful for friends. Gina did a great job talking about friends last Sunday. Jeff touched the subject a few days back. It seems like a hot topic.

Friendships are easy to be thankful for.... It is easy to throw this one onto the "thankful list", but it is one I cannot neglect to mention, because I am so thankful for my friends and the role they have chosen to play in my life.

With a true friend you can let your guard down. There is a bond. There is substance. With a true friend the great qualities of Christ are present and shared (truth, love, grace, mercy, justice, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, sacrifice)....to name a few.

Perhaps that is why friendships are so valuable.

Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

give thanks, day 9

I'm getting ready to head out the door to the Tuesday morning Men's Gathering. I am thankful for this Ministry..the people who attend and the one's that make it happen. I am thankful for the stories/lessons that are presented each week. The time spent getting to know each other a little better. The new faces that continue to show up....some familiar some not....and I am thankful that all are made welcome. Seeing the world through another person's eyes can be a catalyst for change/action in our own lives. I am thankful for this opportunity each week.

Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Monday, November 8, 2010

give thanks, day 8

this past weekend I spent some time with my son doing the things my father and I spent time doing together. today I give thanks for my dad. I am thankful for the things he taught me how to do....for the example he set as a good husband and father....for his strength of character....for his caring and interest in my life that stood strong even after I had left home and had begun my own journey....my memories of him will never fade...and I enjoy and cherish them even more as I try my best to pass on what he gave to me.

Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Sunday, November 7, 2010

give thanks, day 7

today I give thanks for today. There is no guarantee for tomorrow. To often I look past today. I work on my plans for a future day. I pray to know what God has in store for me. What I should be doing is looking at the day that I have been given....the opportunity that is before me.... to be engaged in life....to make a difference somehow....someway.....today.

Psalm 118:24

24This is the day that the LORD has made;

let us rejoice and be glad in it.


Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Saturday, November 6, 2010

give thanks, day 6

today I am thankful for the basics....the things I take for granted...water, food, shelter, clothing, health....Reading the "Hole in Our Gospel" can't help but make you feel thankful for those things. If you haven't found the time to read this book please do so......and if you have.... I hope it has moved you to action.

Deuteronomy 15 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward those of your people who are poor and needy in your land.


Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Friday, November 5, 2010

give thanks, day 5

I am thankful for the fall season, especially here in Missouri. This season, for whatever reason, makes me slow down a little. Close by WCC we have two lakes surrounded by trees colored with the shades of autumn. It is pretty peaceful around those lakes this time of year. There is something about being in and around nature, God's creation, that calms me and helps me put things back in perspective. A little solitude is healthy for the soul. God has provided us a season of beauty. It goes by quickly.....try not to miss it.

Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Thursday, November 4, 2010

give thanks, day 4

Today I am thankful for forgiveness. It has been said, "to err is human, to forgive is divine." I am thankful that God forgives me. I am thankful for people that forgive me.

But I am also thankful for the ability to forgive others and for the freedom and wholeness that comes into my life as I am able to forgive others. Recently I spoke with a person who had some terrible things done to them. From a human standpoint, the acts were unforgivable. Imagine the worst things that you can think of.

They did not want to forgive. I understood. The person in no way deserved forgiveness.

But, we began to talk about what happens to me when I don't forgive. What happens to my heart when I refuse to release the pain. When you don't forgive, you are still giving the people that hurt you power over your life. To forgive them isn't just good for them, it is good for you.

I am thankful for forgiveness.

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

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

give thanks, day 3

I am thankful for the chance to help others. In whatever form that takes, when I help others, something changes inside of me. It is the whole "in giving, you receive" idea. Helping others lifts me out of the blues. It gives me a sense of purpose. It makes me feel good. It is the right thing to do. And, helping others helps others.

It is God's work. It is how we show our love for Him.

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

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

30 days of thanksgiving - day 2

I invite you to find something to be thankful for every day during the month of November.

Today I am thankful for friends who check on you, just because. They randomly call you because they love you. They randomly call you because they had a feeling that they should. A nudge.

When they respond to this nudge, it is almost always a good and timely thing. Everyone needs friends. Today, I give thanks for all of them.

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

Monday, November 1, 2010

giving thanks

November. November means thanksgiving. Again this year I want to use this blog to remind myself to be thankful for something every day during the month. 30 days of giving thanks. I want to invite you, to challenge you to do the same. Find at least one thing to be thankful for each day. It is such a good and such a Christian habit.

Thankful. Today I am thankful for God's love. Sometimes I forget about God's love for an hour or a day or more. When I do forget, I can get very concerned about whatever is going on. When I remember that God loves me, then I am at peace. I recover the sense that everything is ok. When I remember that God loves me, I can abide in him. It is surely one of the most important things that a Christian can know. Please know that God loves you.

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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween

Some folks don't like Halloween. It doesn't seem to be a very Christian day with all of its emphasis on ghosts and goblins and the like.

I am not going to make the case here that Halloween started as a Christian party, "All Hallows Eve;" I am simply going to make the point that Halloween is a lot of fun, and I think God is in favor of fun.

Kids. Lots of Kids. Cute kids dressed up in costumes. Candy. Lots of candy. Laughter. Scary movies. A fire in the fireplace. Chili. Hot Chocolate. Halloween is a fun day for families. When I was 14 I went to a costume party at a local church and danced to the complete song, the long version [17 minutes] of "Indagadadavida." Does it get any more fun than that?

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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

wierd things people like

Friday is my day off. That usually means working around the house, sometimes a trip to the office, and it still entails sermon work. Friday night usually finds Jeff and Cathy going to dinner and catching up, since she is gone all the time.

One of the weird things that I like to do, is paint the house. And the best month to paint the house is October. Yesterday I painted one side. It was awesome. So much fun. Is that weird or what? Jeff M says, paint one side of your house every year. It's not too hard and then your home is always in good shape.

Yesterday I did it all. Caulk. Stir the paint. Climb the ladders. Brush. Roll. It is beautiful. It is an odd thing to like, but at the same time I think it is nice that I am so easily amused.

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

Friday, October 29, 2010

voting

I don't know if I am alone on this, but I am having some different thoughts about my voting habits. In the past, I voted for who I thought was the best candidate to represent my views on particular issues. I voted for people that I thought were good people. I voted for random people from both parties. Over the years, they have all contributed to our budget problems.

Now I just have one issue. Balance the budget. Stop the spending. End the fiscal irresponsibility. I am going to vote for the people that I think will do that. And, if they spend the next few years ignoring my desires for fiscal responsibility, then I will vote them out, and vote someone else in, regardless of their position on the hot button issues.

If our country can't pay the bills, we will fall into a downward spiral. It won't matter if someone represents your side if we are bankrupt. We need to get our feet back on the ground and make some good financial decisions. I blame both parties. Who ever we vote into power next week, they better get it. If they don't get it, next time, I will vote them out.

If I ran my home the way we have run our country for the last 40 years, [both parties] we would be homeless. If the finances at the church were handled the way that our senators and reps have handled America's, the church would be closed.

The right thing to do is the right thing to do, and it is time for us to make some good decisions, regardless of how painful they may be.

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

Thursday, October 28, 2010

how about a catch Dad?

Anyone that has seen the movie "field of dreams" will remember that line from the movie. Monday my son came over to the house after work. We talked a bit and then I was going to take him to dinner at BWW. He went out into the garage, I was a few moments behind collecting my stuff.

When I got out into the garage, he had picked up a football and was standing in the driveway. He motioned with the ball for me to go for a pass. We played catch for about ten minutes. It was a really good ten minutes. :)

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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

listening

Listening is always good. When I listen to someone else, I learn what they are thinking. I hear their joy or pain. I collect some things to savor and think about later.

Humans are not very good at listening. The result of that is that we charge ahead, out into the wild blue yonder, void of paradigms not our own.

I am sure that Jesus was a good listener. He sure listens well to our prayers.

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

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

creating love

Since everyone seems to like Jeff's pet stories, here we go.

We got these cats six years ago. Well, we got them, because without talking to me, my wife and daughters came home with them. Look Dad, free cats. Cats are not free. I have been buying food and litter for these pigs ever since.

One of these cats is a lover and one is a skittish scaredy cat. Did I tell you their names? Tyler and Princess Kiki. What is that. Princess Kiki is the skittish cat. She is also huge. We just call her the fat cat. If I am killed at home by a pet, it would be her. Tyler we just call the "boy cat."

Now to the story. For two years the fat cat hides in the house. You cannot pet her, you cannot find her. It is like, why did we get this free cat? It eats and poops and provides no love.

One day I saw the cat coming and I sat down on the top of the stairs. As the cat passed by, I stroked it's back. It stopped. It liked it. I was nice and just gave it a taste of cat scratch heaven. Over the next few days, at the top of the stairs, the fat cat and I made friends.

The lover creates the love.

Now, this thing won't leave me alone. It beats on the door in the middle of the night and sits at the top of the stairs if I am upstairs, just waiting for me to scratch her back. She follows me around like a dog and gets in the middle of whatever I am doing. She sits on the computer when I am trying to type. I am glad to have made a friend, but come on, go catch a mouse will ya?

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

Monday, October 25, 2010

Kris Bartman

In case you have not heard the news, I wanted to share it here.

Our beloved music director, Kris Bartman, has accepted a job in North Carolina and will be moving there with his family after Christmas. In North Carolina, Kris and Jennifer will have the support of several family members as they continue to raise their wonderful family.

Shock, grief, acceptance. There are stages that we will go through. After the initial shock, you feel grief. When you understand that this is good for the family, it is easier to move to acceptance. After that, we start praying, "Lord, what is next?" At some point we come to remember that although this is tough, God is not leaving our church.

As your pastor, I can empathize with how you feel. Over the years I have watched as several fine staff people moved on to other adventures and some wonderful members moved to other towns. It is always difficult. Change always is. But, God is with us, and he still makes all things beautiful in his time.

Be sure to hug Kris and Jennifer and thank them for all they have done for Woods Chapel.

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

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Go Tigers

What an awesome game if you are a Missouri Tiger fan! maybe the best game I have witnessed involving them. congratulations!!

Not to leave out Nebraska, KU, K-State and even Oklahoma fans, God bless you all.

We should not put so much joy into whether or not our team wins. Life is so much more than that. But, if you are an MU fan, you have much to celebrate today.

As do we all.

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

Saturday, October 23, 2010

crazy stories

Crazy stories that catch your attention. Occasionally a crazy story tags my interest. My wife likes to sleep with the TV on. So last night I wake up at 1:10 and make the mistake of paying attention to the TV. It is the Animal Planet channel and the show is "fatal attractions." It is a show about people that had relationships with animals that ended up killing them. Devoured by your own pets.

The first clip was about a man who was eaten by his komodo dragons. Seven of them. then I was stuck. Wide awake. The next clip was about a woman who kept poisonous snakes. Nice idea. One of them finally bit her and she died.

It was 2am. I really want to keep watching this show, but I change the channel and try to go to sleep. I wake up at 6:30 to the familiar drumming of the fat cat, pounding on my door. I remember the shows from last night and I am glad for once that our only pets are 2 declawed cats and an old dog with 5 teeth.

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

Friday, October 22, 2010

you can't do it all

If you read the church e-news, bulletin or "The Wire" newsletter, you are invited to consider being involved in a bunch of ministries. Ronald McDonald House, Hillcrest, Adopt a child, Dental for Kids, Operation Smile, Sack Lunches, food pantry, clothes closet, and on we go from there.

They are all good. But, you can't be involved in all of them and, no one expects you to be. You can't attend everything, you can't give to everything. It is ok. You are not expected to participate in everything.

You are loved. Whether you participate in many programs at the church, or just a few, you are loved. Pray about what you might be involved in or what you might give to. Then participate in those things and don't worry about the rest. It was never intended that you be involved in everything. In fact, if we limited the number of ministries at the church so that I could be in all of them, there would be many fewer things going on and many fewer people being helped in the name of Jesus.

So, you are loved. Relax. Fit in where you can and don't worry about the rest. It's all good.

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

Thursday, October 21, 2010

God needs leaders

I remembered this post from a few years ago. I dug it out of the archives. Every organization goes thru stages, times of joy and times of challenge. Leadership is always more challenging in times of challenge, but it is also most needed then. here is the post from Aug 2007:

If you choose to be a leader, someone will question your decisions. They will comment on your style or lack thereof. They will talk in quiet voices about how they would have handled such and such. You will always be viewed with a bit of suspicion because you are or have some authority.

You will still have children to raise, grass to mow and oil to change.

As a leader, you will be expected to perform excellently at all times, while looking past, and being gracious about, the faults of others. If you press to see the purpose fulfilled, you may be accused of picking on someone.

You will still have the challenges of married life, bills to pay, and your parents are still going to die.

As a leader, you will have the chance to make a difference in the world. To care about people, and to manage resources in a way that effectiveness takes place. When things are going well, you will share the joy of a job well done. You will have the chance to help others succeed and to let them enjoy moments of glory. Some days you will walk home with a smile on your face.

If there were no leaders, the geese would not know what direction to fly. If there were no leaders, our individual efforts would never join together and the whole rise to be greater than the sum of the parts. If there were no leaders, then those who follow would only have themselves to blame.

Harry Truman said it. “The buck stops here.” God needs people on earth that are not afraid to take responsibility. If you have been given the chance to be one of these people called leaders, then you can look forward to days of pain, days of hurt, and days of hard work. But, you can also look forward to seeing foundations laid, walls go up, and the finishing touches applied.

God needs his work to be finished, so God needs those who are willing to lead. If you are one, learn to look past the painful moments and give thanks for the opportunity to do good in the name of the Lord.


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

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

baltimore oriole


I received an annoymous gift the other day that made me smile. It was a little stuffed animal baltimore oriole. I think the idea was that sometimes you need a little reminder to listen for the song of the bird. If we are not careful, the song of the bird is drowned out by the hurry or the pain in the world.

Who ever sent the bird, thank you. You helped me.

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

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

H4EO

I have a friend that goes by the call sign "H4EO." It is his identity on his google sign in and it is on the bottom of any email that you receive from him. Do you know what it stands for?

Think on it for a moment. H4EO. Don't feel bad, I had to ask. It stands for "here for each other." this person is passionately committed to the idea that we are here to be in Christian community. That how we treat each other is vitally important.

Over the years I have learned much from this person. I have often considered and remembered his call sign. It is one of those ideas that I wish I would have thought of. Here for each other.

I hope that you feel the love of your Christian friends. I hope that you are giving that love away.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good. H4EO

Monday, October 18, 2010

change

Change is painful. It just is. Sometimes we don't even see the change anymore, we just feel the pain. The discomfort of our world being discomforted. You get too many changes together all at once and a person can feel really overwhelmed.

The stock market is down a bunch. Home values are down a bunch. Banks are holding on to foreclosed homes because values are so low. Some say that when they release the homes, values will go down even more. The cost of living is flat. Everyone knows someone who has lost a job. Some area food pantries are having trouble keeping food on the shelves.

And in this environment, we go to church. And there we find to our dismay, more change. A new church start. Changes to the branch. A capital funds drive. A new bulletin.

Sometimes even I want to say, "thanks Pastor for adding to my pain." So, I know how you feel and I am sorry for the things that you may find painful at our church. Everything is fine and it will all work out. More peaceful days are around the corner. God is still good, people are worth loving, and life is still good.

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

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's Sunday

It's Sunday. Good opportunity to go to church. Do you ever just feel like you want to go to church? There is something in our souls that misses it when we miss it too much.

Pastors rarely get to go to church because they are almost always leading church services. Last night, I went to church. I went to the Beacon UMC service in our gym at 7pm. It was wonderful. It was refreshing to my soul.

Worship is a gift from God to us. Jeff's sermon may be weak, the music may not be your favorite, but there is something that happens to us when we gather in this place.

Don't miss the chance to step into the presence of God. It's Sunday and we are having church. Come see your friends, make some new ones, and sense the presence of God. You will be glad that you did.

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

Saturday, October 16, 2010

the new bulletin

Hi. In case you have not noticed, or if you have missed church the last few weeks, our new bulletin has a place where members can sponsor the publication.

Maybe our pastor has finally gone crazy. Or, maybe there is a back story and some compelling reasons why we are here. At any rate, if this has bothered you, tomorrow I am going to be telling the rest of the story.

Pastor Shawn is going to preach tomorrow [this way you know it will be a good sermon] I am going to be in the library at 8, 905, 1010, 1115 and 1215 to sit and explain this to anyone who would like to hear about how this came to be.

I love you very much.

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

Friday, October 15, 2010

Today is Blog Action Day

The following post is by Erin Swanson, who attends Woods Chapel ::

Who am I? Well, I commonly refer to myself as the prodigal violist, who makes sporadic appearances each month at the 10:10 Branch service at Woods Chapel. When I do so, I have the immense pleasure and blessing of helping lead worship with Megan Hobbs and team.

Jeff offered to let me guest post today because it’s one of the biggest days on the web: Blog Action Day. This year’s topic: water.

I’ve had the privilege of working on the team at Water.org for more than two years — a Kansas City-based international nonprofit that helps bring safe water and sanitation to those in need in developing countries. We seem to be a best kept secret in KC, but have been leaders in the sector for 20 years and are co-founded by Matt Damon and KC-local Gary White. As you can imagine, water is near and dear to my heart and thoughts each day.

[My first trip to visit Water.org project sites this past February in Dhaka, Bangladesh.]

One of the reasons I’m most excited right now has to do with you, my church family! This Advent season, Woods Chapel is going to participate in Advent Conspiracy, a neat time for our community to focus on being a part of a clean water project that will transform thousands of lives and simultaneously answer the call, “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” [Matt. 25:35]. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holidays.

The area that we are going to support together is the two rural communities of Pignon and St. Raphael in rural Haiti. This project will give 60 communities, totaling 18,000 people [!], clean water, toilets, and health and hygiene education for the first time!! Water.org just began to work there a few months ago with our well-respected partner organization, Haiti Outreach, but the program desperately behind in funding. And as you know, Haiti was in dire conditions even before the quake.


[Hard to stomach, but a water reality in Haiti, pre-quake. No one's child should have to drink this!]

Another reason I am so excited is because I believe whole-heartedly in the way Water.org implements projects. I’ve learned a lot over the past few years, and one of the main things is that good and lasting work takes time. Sadly, water projects in the developing world have a more than 50 percent failure rate because of people who just want to dig a well - they swoop in, drill a well, and leave. You know what they say about the road to good intentions….

In our mind, if it’s not sustainable, it’s not worth doing. To make this a reality, our focus is on local partners and community ownership. Over the past two decades, we’ve worked closely with more than 640,000 people all around the globe to help them get safe water and sanitation for the first time.

To me, this model resonates with God’s character, and has been a main way my faith has been able to express itself in tangible ways here on our earth. I’ve become really passionate about educating others of the importance of knowing exactly how work to help others is done, the importance of being good stewards with our money [knowing what it’s going towards], and how to make the most impact. The HOW matters. The how has lasting affects and consequences. It is a statement. And I believe this is true for all areas of our lives, not just in giving or in development work.

This water project in Haiti, Advent Conspiracy as a whole, is a huge opportunity for us to be a part of something life-giving, together. It is a chance for us to be alert and intentional with our energy, time, and money this holiday season. It is a time for thoughtful reflection, engaging conversation, and creative expression. My prayer is that it will be God-led and beautifully counter-cultural. I am excited to see what He has planned for us in this time.

[I took this pic in Bangladesh in Feb. Cute kids, but I was trying to show the hanging latrines behind them. More people on earth have cell phones than toilets!]

Thank you for reading, for your willingness to learn, and for joining me on this important day. If you also want to donate your voice in the name of water today, post a status update or a note on your Facebook. Send an email to your closest friends. Create a post on your own blog. Find some good facts, photos, videos, and quotes here, to get you started. And if you want to learn more about it all, check out blogactionday.change.org.

Dear friends, I’m grateful to work beside you!

With great anticipation and love,
Erin Swanson

P.S. Stayed tuned in the coming months to learn more about Advent Conspiracy [watch 2 min promo video here] and the communities we’re supporting in Haiti. Read more about Water.org’s work in Haiti here.

P.P.S. And if you haven’t, I encourage you to talk to the WCC team that just went to Haiti a few weeks ago, including Bob Jeppson and David Dancy. I’m sure they have some amazing things to tell.

[Kids in Salepur slum in Bangladesh collecting clean water because of a Water.org project. It made my heart happy! :D ]