Sunday, February 28, 2010

If you only had one prayer

If you only were allowed one prayer, what would it be?

God bless me.
God give me.
God help me.
God please fix my [fill in the blank].

Remember, you only get one prayer, and it is your prayer for the rest of your entire life.

How about:
"Not my will but thine be done." or "into thy hands I commit my spirit." or "Lord teach me in all things to be content." or "let me love you with a pure heart" or "thank you."

Well, there are some good ones to pick from. I think today I am going to stick with "thank you."

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

Saturday, February 27, 2010

you never know

You never know when your words are going to touch someone. You have to always be ready. One minute you are wondering about your value as a person, and the next, someone has asked for your support, your love, your help. And, you give it with joy.

Suddenly, you are catapulted from the broken, sad person, to the person who is actually helping another. Funny how God works. You go from the downtrodden to the hero, in one moment.

So, the moral of the story is, never kick yourself too hard. In five minutes the tables will turn and you will be helping someone else. Be ready always.

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

Friday, February 26, 2010

judge not

Someone sent an email and asked a very important question about the guys with the muddy boots from yesterday's blog. Their question was, "are we judging them?"

Well, let me back off of what I said yesterday. I don't mean to judge them. They are probably nice guys with wives and kids. Maybe they go to our church, I don't know. Wouldn't that be funny. What if they tracked mud into our church? We would still love them, but we would ask them to take their shoes off outside.

Nice guys can still make bad choices. Tracking mud into a restaurant, even a McDonald's is a bad choice, by even the nicest guys. I don't want to punish them, or hurt them, I just want people, good people to think about how their actions affect others.

Good people are not made bad people by bad decisions, but all people need to learn to make good decisions.

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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

muddy shoes

Well, sorry. I wish I had something funny or inspirational to say, but I have to write about the muddy shoes. The other day I was hungry for a healthy nutritional meal, so I stopped in at the McDonald's on 40 highway for a #1. #1 = Big Mac, fries, and a diet coke. Nectar of the Gods. This is so good, it is worth getting fat over.

As I walked in the door, I noticed that there was mud on the floor. Not tracks of mud, but tracks of mud and chunks of mud. I stepped over it and around it. It led from the door to the register, then to the drink station. Back to the counter and back around to the seating area. I got my food and followed the trail. In a booth are two construction guys, about age 35. Their boots are covered with mud. I am thinking, "they are lucky that my mother is not here right now."

Well. At least we know the source of the mud. Now I am trying to figure this out. Were they born in a barn? Surely my momma did not raise them. What are they thinking, to just walk into a place of business and make this kind of mess. What were their other options?

The first thing that comes to my mind is to have another pair of shoes in the car if you intend to get this muddy. The second thing that comes to mind is this, take off your shoes. Leave them outside the door. I promise you, no one will want to steal your mud infested boots. My wife, who is much smarter than I am, had a better solution- go to the drive up.

The word respect comes to mind. Sure it is McDonald's, but come on, you just made a huge mess and a ton of work for someone. When I was a kid, occasionally my Dad would see someone misbehaving and he would say, "I wish that was my kid for 20 minutes." I asked him why one time. He said, "well, I would teach them a lesson." I never asked again. Anytime Dad said, "I wish that was my kid for 20 minutes" I knew that those guys were very close to a good paddling.

The world would be a better place if more people were raised by good old fashioned parents. At least there would be less mud on the floor.

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

KC Public Schools

Well, we have another new superintendent, and now yet another attempt to stabilize the budget of the KC Public School system. The new super has put fwd a plan to balance the budget by closing 30 [half] of the schools in the district.

Radical. Aggressive. Needed? There has been a good deal of unhappiness shared by parents who do not want their kid's school to close. It's like everyone is ok with closing some schools just as long as it is not my kid's school. Again, its all about me. Inconvenience everyone else, just not my kid.

So, here is my point. If you don't like the plan to close this many schools, what is your alternative? It may sound radical, it may be a radical plan, but if you don't want to do this, what do you want to do. There are lots of complainers in the world but very few people who will work for answers.

Bottom line is this. The budget has to be balanced. Period. We have to do it at home and businesses have to do it as well. If they don't, they go bankrupt. Our leaders in Washington need to figure this out too. It is a law of life, when the budget is out of balance, you have to increase income or cut spending. When finances are handled poorly, trouble is on the way. When they are handled well, people sleep at night. Personally, I like to sleep at night.

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Great and Powerful... Dorothy?

In the 1980s and 1990s, some Christians wrote a bunch of great leadership books. Men like Bill Hybels were teaching Christians how to lead like corporate pros. And this is a good thing. We need good organizational structure in the church. In times of crisis, we need great leaders.

But not all people can lead like Bill Hybels. We’re not the same people. Still, I think the rest of us who find ourselves with an opportunity to lead can follow another model of leadership. As Brian McLaren explains in his book Adventures in Missing the Point, we can follow a model of leadership from The Wizard of Oz.

There were really two main leaders in this movie. There is the great and powerful Oz. We later find out that Oz is just a short, fat man behind a curtain. Not quite the strong, powerful leader he had made himself out to be. The other leader is Dorothy.

See. Dorothy is on a quest of her own, and along the way she finds a few characters who have some things missing from their lives. So she says to the Scarecrow, Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion – why don’t you come with me? We’ll find what we’re looking for together. And in the end, it is Dorothy who leads them to find that what they were seeking, they actually possessed all along. Scarecrow had acted brilliantly. Tinman showed his heart. The Cowardly Lion wasn’t so cowardly after all. They only had a chance to prove themselves when Dorothy brought them into her journey.

What I am proposing is that we can all be leaders, even if it’s not in a stereotypical corporate American way. We can all look at the people around us, and invite them on our journeys with us. Along the way, they will see our vulnerabilities, and we’ll see theirs -- there’s no curtain to hide behind on this journey. We will find that the things we seek were created in us all along, and they are just waiting for the right time and the right person to bring them out of us. So leading others is not about being the smartest, the coolest, or the one with the “gift of leadership” all the time. It’s about being a part of a community of people all moving in the same direction.

Will you invite others to journey with you? Along the way, will you point out the heart, the gifts, and the love that God has given them? Maybe that’s all it will take to turn someone into the person God created them to be. May you also see yourself growing as you help others grow.

With love,

a young shepherd.

Monday, February 22, 2010

care or control

I read a very interesting article last week about churches that care and churches that control. Or, I guess I should say, churches that try to control.

Obviously it is the job of the church and the Pastor and staff to care for its members. When the church does this, everybody feels good about what is happening. Keep in mind when I say "care" I don't mean 'entitle." Part of caring for members means that we need to help them find and retain an outward, other focused life view. With that in mind, Pastor's need to love their folks and be patient with them.

Sometimes though, Pastors, churches, denominations try to control their people. Here are some examples:
"good Christians believe this or that about the trinity." "Good Christians believe this about a certain social issue." "Good Christians must do this or that."

Now I do believe that when we are listening, that we sometimes behave differently, but the issue is should the church use guilt and shame to try to force people to act in certain ways. Somehow, I do not see Jesus shaming people into certain behavior.

Fact, is, you just can't control your members. They are going to read books that you just know are bad for them. They are going to watch TV shows that you do not agree with. They are going to support causes that you think are less than Christian. They are even going to decide that they need to move on to another church. As a pastor, you can't stop this, and to the extent that you try, you only make yourself and others miserable.

When we remember that our job is to love people, we release ourselves from wishing everything was a certain way. I choose to just love. Period. You love that author? Ok, no problem. You only come to church once per month? Ok, I still love you.

Control does not work. Manipulation and guilt are bad motivators. Love is the the thing that holds us together. Love is the only thing that matters. God is love.

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

Sunday, February 21, 2010

No Robe

Well, a couple people asked so I guess I will provide an answer as to why I did not wear my ministry robe on Ash Wednesday.
As a rule, I have never been one to wear a ministry robe. I have one, and I know that some people see it as somehow "respecting God" but I have always felt that it attracted attention to me. I have always felt that a robe somehow made others feel that I was "set apart, other than, different from, even better than." That is not my model of ministry and I don't think it was Jesus' way either.

Consequently, I have not been a robe person. I have in the past made one exception, and that was on Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday has a very formal feel to it to me. A very holy, special time, so I have in the past worn my robe. [some joked when they saw me that they bet I was wearing shorts underneath the robe.]

This year, for the first time, I did not. Why? Well, here is why: it occurred to me that none of our associates have robes or wear robes and I don't want to set myself apart from them or make them feel funny. So this year, no robe for Ash Wednesday. I hope you understand.

[by the way, we are having church today. of course! First church of the Yukon at WCC is open. Park your sleds and snowmobiles and come on in.]

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

Saturday, February 20, 2010

what does a pastor do?

Every now and then I run into people that really believe that pastors only work one day a week. They ask things like, "is that a full time job?" Or they ask, "what else do you do for a living?"

Once, several years ago, I had a young man come see me about going into the ministry. We had a nice talk. He was interested in my schedule during the week. I showed him my calendar and we went over it. I never heard from him again. When I called his family to check on the situation, they told me that when he found out what went on the rest of the week, he was no longer interested in ministry.

So, what does a pastor do all week? I will work on this information in upcoming blogs, but first lets just talk about sermon preparation. In seminary they told us that it takes one hour of preparation for every minute of delivery. 20 minute sermon = 20 hours of preparation. That is probably true, the problem is, that I don't know of many pastors who are afforded the luxury of sitting at their desk for 20 hours to prepare. For most pastors, preparation is a 24 hour a day event. Looking, listening, thinking, praying. Making notes, collecting pieces, molding, shaping, starting over. Making sure that it has a connection to the divine. Making sure that it makes sense. Reading, typing, running over it in your mind: once, twice, three times a sermon.

Somewhere at the end of this process, you go to bed on Saturday night and sleep. Hopefully well. Hopefully not consumed with something with the sermon. Sunday morning, having done your best preparation, you get up and go. You do your best. You put it into the hands of the Lord and hope that the words are blessed and have their intended effect.

Next time, a little bit more on how a pastor spends their time.

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

Friday, February 19, 2010


Here is some good news. After eating fast food and other random junk for years, I succeed in getting my cholesterol u pt o 240.

For the past six months I have been taking some pill and these giant fish oil capsules. The little pill is fine but the fish oil capsule is a monster. Eat two of those and you feel like you had breakfast.

Anyway, I got a recheck this week and my cholesterol is down to 175!!! Looks like I will be around here to bug you for a long time [the Lord willing.]

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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ash Wednesday

What is it about Ash Wednesday? The opportunity to pray as long as I want to? The opportunity to sit in the dark, quiet sanctuary? The music? The question: "Are you willing to repent of your sin, and follow the way of the cross?" Or is it the answer, "the sign of the cross upon your forehead marks you as a disciple of Jesus Christ."

Stop there for a moment. How much time do I get to think before I answer the question? Of course I am willing to repent of my sin. But, God, let's be clear..........I want you to cleanse me. Love me. Heal me. Forgive me. Clean it all out. Down to the very core. Scrape out the crummy stuff. Do I repent of my sin? Oh yes, and please take it as far as the east is from the west.

Ash Wednesday, there is something about it. I am as close to God in that service as I am at any time during the year. I witness tears, sincere prayers, and young people who are beginning to think seriously about what it all means.

I love Ash Wednesday. It is a chance for all of us to find forgiveness.

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Sunday I visited our sister church in the NorthEast park of KC off of Independence Ave. I saw many adults and youth, even children without jackets. It was a very, very cold day.

Tonight, I have picked thru the closet and have set aside 5 jackets for Camino Verdad Y-vida. This is a long winter and there are many that do not have the simple things which we take for granted.

I went to my closet and I said, I will only keep one jacket of each weight. So if there were several jackets that were similar, I kept only one and the rest go to CVV.

Please help me provide warmth to our friends. It is a simple thing that everyone can probably help with. Bring any jackets to the missions table anytime this week.

Don't forget ash Wednesday Soup Supper and come and go communion with imposition of ashes. Tonight from 6-7:30.

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

1.5 million people

Last night I watched a movie that was set in a town [Quito, Ecuador] population 1.5 million people. At the end of the movie, there was a panoramic view of the city and you saw these small, simple homes where people live next to each other and on top of each other. The houses went on and on and on. It reminded me of the slum scenes in the movie "Slum Dog Millionaire," except everything was nicer.

As I saw this enormous town with all of these people crammed into such a small space, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that reaching the world is impossible. I am one person. The world is so immense. Why even try. Just live and let them live. Let the chips fall where they may.

Then I thought about how our life perspective changes when we only think of ourselves, and I do not want to live that way. I want a life paradigm that cares about others, whether I can help all of them or not. That is how I want to live my life. Trying to help others, even if we can't help them all.

I was reminded of a quote from the sermon a few weeks back that went something like this, "don't fail to do something, just because you can't do everything."

And so, if God gives us the day today and tomorrow, we must reach out and care. We must be the voice, the hands and the feet of Christ to every person that we can. We can't reach them all maybe, but we can reach some for sure, and life sure feels better when I am trying.

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

Monday, February 15, 2010

things I learned

Things I learned yesterday.....

1. The dance troupe performance last night was very good. Guys aren't supposed to like that stuff, but it was very good.

2. I visited CVV after church and sat in on their service with several Woods Chapel friends. We are doing alot to help there, but I saw kids without coats. Whatever we are doing, in my opinion, it is good, but it is not enough. I don't want any kids to not have a coat. Period.

3. Yesterday I wore a spring color tie in hopes that it would drive winter away. It did not work. Maybe it is time for rally caps.

4. Yesterday I felt great love and admiration for my children. I tell them, but I am not sure that they get it. Someone tell them how proud I am of them.

Today. Ahh, what might God have in store? I can't wait.
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sing out

Too many people do not sing because they do not have the voice of Frank Sinatra or Peggy Lee. Too many people do not play baseball because they cannot hit like Babe Ruth or field like Frank White. Too many Christians hold back from what they could be because they are not big famous souls like Billy Graham or because the are not Mother Teresa.

Woods Chapel friends, we will never be what God calls us to be until every single one of us jumps in with both feet. Head over heels, committed to the mission. No holds barred, no excuses, lets just go pursue our potential in Christ.

"Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best. "
Henry van dyke

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

Saturday, February 13, 2010

a dream

I dream a lot. Every night. Multiple dreams. Some I remember some I don't. Some are good, well, most all of them are good. Last night, right before I woke up, so this morning really, I dreamed that the flowers were getting ready to bloom. Tulips, Iris and daffodils, all big fat heads just getting ready to bust. More than usual, and bigger than usual.

Maybe is is a sign. Spring is coming. The ground hog is wrong. We have almost made it to the time when everything comes back to life.

The dream included a musical back ground: "O what a beautiful morning, O what a beautiful day...."

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

Friday, February 12, 2010

missionaries released

Well, if you have been watching the news, the ten "missionaries" have been released by the authorities in Haiti.

I understand wanting to help orphans. I understand wanting to save starving children. I may even bend some laws to do that. But to try to take a bus load of them across a national border without proper documentation is hard to believe.

I think the thing that bothers me the most about the story is the report that some of the children were not orphans, and that the children told the "missionaries" that they were not orphans. Couple this with the "we are just here doing God's work" language that the missionaries were using, and the whole thing starts to hurt.

I hurt for the parents of the children who let their children go in hopes that they would have a better life. I hurt for the entire population of Haiti that lost so much in the earthquake. I hurt for the younger members of the mission team, they look like minors, and they were led into this by adults from their church.

I hurt for the public who reads this story and has an interesting conclusion to make. Either God does not care about immigration laws, and either God isn't always truthful, or these people did not hear from God.

I guess one of the morals of this story is that we need to be very careful when we say, "God spoke to me" or "God is leading me." It is very easy for us to get our human selves in the way, and as soon as that happens, God ends up looking a little foolish.

Like if a person says, "God gave me this wonderful house." [the payment is really high and we can't afford to do other things that we should be doing, but God gave me this house.] What about the people that God didn't give a house to? What are we really saying?

It is just far to easy to justify our human decisions by somehow attaching God to them. Here is the bottom line: When you are doing God's work, you don't have to announce it, everyone will see it for what it is. If you are the Son of God, you don't have to go around telling everyone, because people will figure out who you are. Just do and be what you are supposed to do and be and let other people tell you that you are doing God's work. The story ends a lot better that way.

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

Thursday, February 11, 2010

garage sales

I used to have a garage sale every year. Spend weeks picking things that I wanted to get rid of. Advertise. Put out the signs [fun]. Sit there all day while people come by and try to get you to reduce the price of an already reduced item.

I have a 20" TV that I have priced at $20. Someone asks if I will take $15. I tell them I think it is worth 20. Back and forth we go. I spend the entire morning doing this. Some of the bargaining leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The afternoon is spent sitting there looking at the sky because most of what you had in the sale is already gone. Those shoppers that happen by in the afternoon tend to be drive by's. They don't even get out of the car, they just slow down and look for a moment, then drive on.

The day is done. I pack up the leftovers and take it to the Salvation Army. I take the tables back to who ever I borrowed them from. I count my take= $293.50. I feel happy, and exhausted. Over the next week I will spend the $293.50 buying more things that I will sell in another garage sale in a few years. Hmmm.

Finally, ten years later, I wake up. What am I doing? The TV that I let go for $15 would be worth a fortune to a friend of mine who has immigrated from another country. He could never afford to go to Best Buy and purchase a TV. Why not just give it to him? The chair, table and lamp that I sold for $20 would be valued far more than that by someone in transitional housing in the Hillcrest Ministry program. Do you see where this is going?

The small amount of money I make is nothing compared to the joy that I get to give to others by giving this stuff to them. And I myself receive so much more joy as well. You know, you can't buy joy, but you sure can give it away.

Just in case you were wanting to have a garage sale this year.

On another note, I know someone who just likes to have garage sales. They got a few of their friends from church to hold a multi-family sale. The entire proceeds went to their favorite mission at church.

Random things to think about.

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

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

two choices

Choice one:
Something is acting upon me. It is gripping me, dragging me down. Forces beyond my control are destroying my ability to cope. I am a victim. I am powerless. I am a loser. I am an object in this world that floats along and rises and falls based on the whims of powerful forces that I cannot control. I am destined to a life of self-pity and less. I am consumed by a sense that I don't know where God is and why he isn't helping me.

Choice two:
In the face of difficult times, I allow myself only a day or two to stew, then I am back in the game. I will not be defeated by this or anything. The forces that I face may be many, and they may come at me in ways that I am not expecting, but I will face them and wrestle them, like the patriarch Jacob, I will wrestle and not let go. In fact, I have come to believe that there is a blessing in the struggle, a gift, an opportunity to learn, a resilience that comes to me that I would other wise not have discovered. I march on, and I help everyone else that I can along the way. We will continue, we will overcome. I don't always hear the voice of God, but I know he is with me and it is his character that beckons me to pursue the prize.

Two choices for you today. In whatever challenge you face. Door number one, or door number two. Which will you choose? Your choice will make every difference in the outcome of this battle and the enjoyment of this day.

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

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

door mat?

A dear friend asked me if Christians were supposed to be door mats.
Short answer= no.

They said, Jeff when I think of the last two weeks of sermons, this is my message: lay down your books. Keep no record of wrongs. Forgive. And then help the broken, be the good Samaritan.

In a way, it all sounds like I should be a door mat.

Well, ok. But, no.

We do need to forgive, but that does not mean that you have to hang with those people anymore. Forgiveness means to let go of the offense. It does not mean that you have to spend thanksgiving with them. Forgiveness does not mean that you stay married to someone who beats you. You forgive them and move on to healthy living.

Helping the poor. Yes we should. More than we do. However, you still must provide for your own. Don't sell your house and give everything away, leaving your children to starve. Don't do that. But for most of us, that is not the issue....the issue is that we can do so much more. And there is joy in doing the more. There is joy in giving one's self away. You will know when it is too much.....but we have to stop trying to find joy by accumulating things and realize that joy comes when we give ourselves away.

You are not a door mat. Jesus challenged the pharisees. He turned over the tables of the money changers. But he also helped a ton of poor folks and he kept no record of wrongs.

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

Monday, February 8, 2010


thoughts. Do you ever have times when the bad thoughts seem to be getting more attention? I am disappointed with something that happened. I feel discouraged for some reason. Snow is coming back. On and on it goes.

So, let me take this moment to find some good. To see some good. What are the good thoughts? My daughter Jenny turned 21 last week. We got our stuff off to the tax man. My son came home for the weekend. I have the greatest job in the world.

There is always some good. And when I think of it, I feel better. how about this for a good thought....I met someone at church today who has tried ten churches and every single one made her feel bad until she came to worship with you at Woods Chapel. That is a happy thought. If we look hard enough, we can always find a happy thought. There is always something good.

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

Sunday, February 7, 2010

your life

Your life is not really your life. It is yours only so long as God allows you to keep it. It was designed and given to you for a purpose. Many people live and die and never know why they have the gift of life.

God gives us life so that we can celebrate Him and all of creation. Worship, that is, but celebrate is a less churchy word.

When I celebrate God, his world and his people, I don't spend time whining and complaining. I stop picking at other people. When I celebrate God, his world and his people, my problems seem much smaller.

Oh how our lives would change if we spent more time celebrating God and his goodness and giving ourselves to one another. That is why we are here. The more we do that, the better life is, for we are doing that for which we were created.

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

Saturday, February 6, 2010

not moving

Well, I heard a rumor the other day that Jeff was moving to another church. This would be news to Jeff. I have not heard a thing from the District Superintendent's office that would indicate that I was moving.

I like it fine where I am. You all are great.

Several asked about some of the books that I posted in the blog yesterday. If you are ever interested in finding used books or out of print books, I buy all of my books at this web site

I'm still not moving.

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

Friday, February 5, 2010

books for my kids

Well, each of us have books that we have read in our lifetime that made an impact on us. Besides the Bible, the following books are the main ones on a list of books that I have collected for my children. I have collected three copies of each book so that when they are ready, each of my three children will have a copy of each of these books that have marked my life.

If you should choose to read them, remember that my age at the time of reading, and my life situation probably told volumes of why that book spoke to me at that time.

I’m OK, You’re Ok by Thomas Harris– [first read in 1972 when I was in the 9th grade]

The road less travelled by Scott Peck [read in 1984]

Illusions- by Richard Bach [read in 86]

Holding on to hope by Nancy Guthrie [given to me after my dad died in 2002]

In his steps- by Charles Sheldon [a classic, read in 2004]

When bad things happen to good people by Harold Kushner [read in 2005]

Walking on water by Anthony Demello [read in 2005 and every year since]

Velvet Elvis – Rob Bell [read in 2009]

The Go-getter by Peter Kyne [read in 2010]

I think it is important to try and leave our children some sense of "what makes us tick." I am also working on a list of songs that I have found valuable in my life.

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

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Concrete is very hard. You may not usually think of concrete as being really hard. When I walk on it, I really don't think about it at all. However, if you ever have the opportunity to fall on it, say, if you had a full head of steam, running from the bad guys, and you fell on it, well, then it would be pretty clear that concrete is really hard.

Such was my experience yesterday. As you may know, we have some troubles at church from time to time with near-do-wells. Yesterday, I got a call from someone who wanted to meet me. So I am out in the parking lot talking to them, and they ask for money. Ask, in a way that made me take a step back. Then they stepped toward me. I stepped back. They stepped towards me. Pretty soon, I am in a full run headed for the church door, with the troubled youth in hot pursuit.

Now, I used to have the speed of Jessee Owens, but the years have taken their toll. I know if I can get to the church building though, most people will respect the church as a place of sanctuary. I should be safe if I can just get inside the doors. Well I am bounding up the east sidewalk with the grace that can only be mustered by a 52 year old pastor running from his college age daughter who wants money.

She swears that she did not trip me, but I am sure that I felt her foot sweep my trailing shoe as I was coming up the last stair. She says that I am just clumsy, but she is faster and younger than I am. At anyrate, I hit the ground. Hard. Concrete is hard. Remember? It was a three point landing, both palms and my right knee. Her response to my fall was the kind of snicker that young people sometimes deliver to older folks. She put her foot on my neck, reached into my back pocket and took out the $28 that I had mentioned earlier that I might give to her. Then, she stood to her feet, said, "thanks Dad, I love you," and off she went.

I was left on the deck, broken, bruised and humiliated. Today, I am bloodied and bruised. I really should have a bandaid on my knee, but the bandaids in my office are ten years old and all the stickem has deteriorated.

Let this be a warning to you. If you see one of my daughters, do not be fooled by their wry smile or youthful good looks. They are quick, and they are determined. Hide your $28 and get inside the church. Don't end up like me, broken and crying on the sidewalk. Concrete is hard.

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

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


You tell a simple story and everyone needs to abuse you. Ok, so I bought a comb and a box of bandaids 10 years ago too. I guess that it is ok that those items have lasted ten years, but for some reason, the fact that I made a bar of soap last ten years, well, that is a scandal..........

Maybe I didn't have to use that bathroom that much during the first ten years.....

Ok, here is a story about that bathroom. True story. We were in the stage of drawing the plans for your new church. It was 1997. The architect has drawn a little bathroom off of the pastor's office. I suggest that we move the door on the bathroom so that it is accessible to everyone in the office. I say, "the pastor does not need his own bathroom." A wise member of the building committee said in response, "you will not always be the pastor."

Busted. True. Kind of funny.

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

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

waste not, want not

When I was a kid, we did not waste anything. My mother may have well never had a garbage disposal, because nothing ever went down it. If there were left overs, they were consumed the next day. Period. Often, there was a disagreement at the table over who got the last piece of chicken. Dad got the chicken, so you eat the beans or bread and butter. No left overs. Clean your plate. There are starving kids in India.

The children of the depression did not waste anything. A modicum of this view still exists within me and other children of the children of the depression.

Do you know how long a bar of soap can last? There is a sink off of the pastor's office at church. When we got possession of that part of the building in November of 1999, I bought a bar of Irish Spring soap. I finally used it up last month. Ten years, that bar of soap lasted.

Today I am drinking yesterday's coffee. Pour it out of the pot, heat it up for 60 seconds, and I don't have to make a new pot today. Yes, it is not quite as good as fresh, but it will work. I occasionally wonder, how many pots could I make in a row, using the same grounds?

When we buried my Dad, he left behind 4 shirts, two pairs of pants and two pair of shoes. And one cat. He didn't need much. He drove the simplest of Ford products his entire life. He only got electric windows when hand crank windows were no longer available.

Yesterday's generation has a good deal to teach today's generation. In this period of economic whatever, we can all use to "want" just a little bit less. Life does not consist in the collection of our possessions, but in the people that we know and love. Most of the people that I admire can live with a ten year old sliver of soap and yesterday's coffee.

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

Monday, February 1, 2010

why we are here.

I have been thinking about this story. It is a clear reminder of why the local church exists and the sacrifices that it's members are called to perform for the sake of it's mission.

The life saving station
On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was a once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, they went out day or night tirelessly searching for the lost.

Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding areas, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews were trained. The little life-saving station grew.

Some of the new members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and so poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea.

So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in an enlarged building. Now the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they re-decorated it beautifully and furnished it as a sort of club.

Less of the members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired life boat crews to do this work.

The mission of life-saving was still given lip-service but most were too busy or lacked the necessary commitment to take part in the life-saving activities personally. About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.

They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin, and some spoke a strange language, and the beautiful new club was considerably messed up. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club's life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal life pattern of the club.

But some members insisted that life-saving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the life of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. They evolved into a club and yet another life-saving station was founded.

If you visit the seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, only now most of the people drown.

Let's not ever be a part of a story like this.......

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