Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Day

Christmas was on a Sunday this year.  So is January 1st.  Since several have been asking, I need to let you know our schedule for Sunday, January 1st.

It is our normal worship and Sunday School schedule.  Tomorrow, we will be holding services at 8, 905, 1010 and 1115.  Sunday School at the regular times as well.

So we are back on normal worship and program times.  Happy New Year!

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

Friday, December 30, 2011

office buddies

Some years ago I began a small collection of stuffed animals.  The first was the Piggly Wiggly Pig which I have had for over 20 years.  I don't know what came next, but you can see the group.  They live on the top book shelf in my office.

The Piggly Wiggly Pig
Captain Crunch
Eore [Winnie the Pooh's friend]
Charlie Brown
The Star Bellied Sneach

I guess what I like about these guys is that they are the kind, the shy, the overlooked, the benign, the underdog.  For some reason, it makes me feel good to have them around.  I was moving some books the other day and I thought I would share them with you.  Do you know the story of the Star Bellied Sneach?

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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

diet plan


I don't know how many times I grab something to eat that is quick and flavorful yet has no ability to keep me satisfied. It is a bad habit and a hard one to break. I know it, yet I continue to do it. And I know that it really does me more harm than good...I have a scale to prove it. Lessons on good nutrition can be found everywhere. When it comes down to the basics, the lesson is eat healthy push the other stuff away and the rest will take care of itself.

I make choices in other areas of my life each day on what or how I feed myself. Where I spend my time, my money, what I read, talk about, listen too etc. Just like with food, I have choices on what I will fill myself with each day...the junk or the good stuff.

This time of year many look to what they don't like about their lives....what they want to fix, change or improve on. Maybe the best place to start with change is to work on what we allow ourselves to take in....

Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Job

I have a bookmark in my bible at "Job 38-42". This book serves as a reminder to me of how much I do not know or understand and how big God is. With all that happens in our world that is beyond understanding I find comfort in having a God that I cannot comprehend.

Excerpts below of what you may have read before or of a book that you should consider taking the time to read...

The LORD Speaks 

38 1 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: 2 “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? 3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— 7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels[a] shouted for joy?

42 1 Then Job replied to the LORD: 2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.

Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

watching them sleep

When the kids were little they would fall asleep in the funniest places.  They would be roaring around the house and then it would get quiet.  You notice this and get worried.  You start to look, and lo and behold you find them.  They got tired and crashed in mid stride.  On a chair, on the floor, on the stairs, wherever.  They were so cute when they were sleeping.

At night before we went to bed we would always open each door and make sure everyone was snuggled in their beds.  It was so sweet to watch them sleep.

Now they are big and grown up.  They come over to eat the food and enjoy the family.  Then, just like in the old days, they fall asleep.  You throw a blanket on them, and move their soda so they don't spill it.  Then you watch them, and they are still so cute.  Sometimes they are joined by various lazy animals that sleep all the time anyway.

I wonder if God ever looks down from heaven and watches his children sleep?  It is a comforting thought that our Father looks upon us with warm and loving care.

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

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26th

Ahhh - the sound of rest.  Christmas is over.  Is it a sin for a pastor to be glad that Christmas is over?  It is definitely high pressure, hard work time.

Anyway, it is over, and it was wonderful [at least from where I sit.]  The gospel choir concert, the jazz band concert, the children's program and the cantata were wonderful.  Christmas eve services were delightful and it was good to see so many of you on Christmas day.

Several have asked about Christmas eve attendance.  Remember, numbers are not about numbers, they are about people.  They reflect who we are reaching.  With that in mind, I am pleased to tell you that we had more folks out for Christmas eve than any prior year.

Thank you to all of you who worked hard to make this Christmas a real celebration of God's love.

God is good, and by his grace we will love those who are here, and reach many more for Christ in 2012.

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

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Clipped from a Christmas card a few years ago, this phrase hangs on the door to the pastor's office at Woods Chapel UMC.

A bell is no bell 'til you ring it.
A song is no song 'til you sing it.
And love in your heart wasn't put there to stay.
Love isn't love 'til you give it away.

                    Oscar Hammerstein
                         The Sound of Music

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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

Saturday, December 24, 2011

honor

Holy Father,

We honor you this day.  We set aside time to worship you.  We bring our gifts.  We pause at the manger to say thank you. 

We consider our lives.  We consider our choices.  Please help us to follow you more fully.  Please help us to leave the world of selfishness and learn to give ourselves away in your name.

Thank you for the gift of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. 
Amen.

Friday, December 23, 2011

worship times

For those of you who were wondering, here are the worship times for Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

Christmas Eve
10:00 am
4:00 pm
5:30 pm
7:00 pm
8:30 pm
11:00 pm

4:00 pm will be the busiest, and then the 5:30 after that.  Try to arrive early if you want to attend at those times.  Overflow seating is available at 4pm in the lecture hall.  All other services should have plenty of room.

On Christmas day, we are having services at 9:00 am and 10:30.

As always, feel free to invite your friends to these special days.  

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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

lost dog

Well, I just about lost it all last night.  Such a simple thing.  Let the dog out to do his business and go to bed.  Well, the dog, Lou, went out and ran away.  Ten years old, that is 70 in dog years, and he went around the corner and just kept going.  Maybe he was chasing a possum.  Maybe he has doggie althiemers.

Either way, I am thinking about my wife who is in Florida, my son who is in Kentucky and my daughters who are downtown on a holiday night.  I am the only one here, and I lost the family dog.  Possibly the most important member of the family.

I have been up and down the street three times.  I have called for him.  I have promised a treat.

Finally, after I have given up, after I have made peace with explaining all of this to the rest of my family, I hear a little jingle.  It is Lou.  I find him, and he comes home.  All is well.  Disaster averted.  I am sure that he was unaware of the problem that he caused.

Oh, for the life of a dog.

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Turkeys

Driving down a local back road I noticed a yard full of wild turkeys.  It was a bit of an unusual sight.  Since I had my camera, I stopped and took a picture. 

This scene just made me smile.  A little bit of God's creation, right here in the city.  I suspect that they are aware that they could end up on someones Christmas dinner table.

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

homeless adoption

I have been adopted by a homeless couple.  Its the reverse of normal.  Usually someone makes a commitment to adopt a needy person.  This couple has attached themselves to me.

They call me all the time.  Yesterday, he called me four times.  Part of me wants to walk on by, but I just can't do it.  I have to find some agency or something that can help them.  I can't do it all.  I don't want to think of them and their needs all the time, but it sure has taken up a goodly amount of my brain.  Maybe that is a good thing. 

They are staying at this motel on 40 highway.  $20 per night.  We forget how blessed we are.  We also forget that the good news is for everyone, not just the folks that live in our comfort zone.  I know there is a reason why all of this is on my mind.

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

Monday, December 19, 2011

the problem with preachers

Actually there are several problems with preachers.  Today I want to address one of them. 

When the preacher stands to preach there is the temptation to take it all in without question.  There is the possibility that we begin to see this person as the source.  They can almost become an intermediary for us.  We can begin to live our spiritual lives through the lens of this person.

Just like a parent or a grandparent who watches the child play baseball.  We cheer, we yell, we can almost feel ourselves sliding into second base, when in fact we are sitting in the stands.  With great determination we support and defend our kids in sports, as if we were defending ourselves.  Again the problem is that we are not on the field.

So back to church.  Is it possible for someone to live their spiritual life through the stories of their pastor?  Is it possible that we have done this for so long that we don't even realize that we are in the audience and not in the game?  Does it help that some pastors love this kind of attention and adoration?

How about a pastor who points you not to him or herself, but to the Source.  How about a pastor who insists that you get out of the pew, off the bench, and into the game.  How about a pastor who is willing to make you mad and risk the relationship you have with them, if that's what it takes to get you in the game?

Christianity is participatory.  There are no observers.  May we all get out into the dance of life and create our own experiences with our Father.  When we do this, we become a disciple.  We become a part of the story, and we help the pastor find his or her rightful place as a fellow sojourner, a co-worker in the kingdom.

One preacher problem solved.

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

Sunday, December 18, 2011

noise cancelling technology

Ahh the things that people invent are amazing.  I recently tried out a friends head phones with “noise cancelling technology.”  Have you heard of this?  They are amazing.  You put them on your head and turn on your music.  Good sure, like any other headphones.  But there is this little switch. 

When you turn the switch, something happens.  The headphones emit a sound wave that is an anti-wave to much of the back ground noise around you.  Really.  The noise of an airplane and the sound of the people talking around you disappears.  Their mouths move, but no noise is coming out.  Just the turn of a switch and the distractions are gone.

 And so I have an idea.  If I wear them all the time, will all of the noise of life disappear?  No more sadness, no more anger, no more worry, no more concerns, no more unhappiness.  Now that would be an invention wouldn’t it?

 And some how I know our Father offers this.  Jesus said, "come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."  Just a turn of our focus and the distractions are muffled.  The noise of life is replace with a quiet peace.  This is the gift of God to all who ask.  As the old song says, “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

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




Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dear Jenny

Dear Jenny,

You had a dream the other night that your father had died.  You were very sad. 

I am writing to you now to remind you of a few things that you must know.  First of all, everything dies.  Dogs, cats and fathers.  One day, I will die.  It is what we humans do.  I have had 54 years to think about this and I am not afraid.

I have spent a great deal of time considering the relationship between myself and our Father.  I have seen the beauty of his creation and I have tasted many of the joys of this life.  I had a close call six years ago with the whole sarcoidosis scare.  I an not a stranger to the concept of eternity.

So, when the time comes, I want you to stand there at the side of my bed and hold my hand.  Talk to me.  I can hear you even when I no longer respond.  My spirit will have moved past the abilities of my broken body.  Kiss me on the forehead and know that I am in good hands.  Never fear or worry for me.  Then leave the death bed and go live your life.  Live.  Love.  Dance.  Enjoy your successes and don't kick yourself so hard over your failures.  Learn to understand yourself, your moods and your thoughts. 

Read what I have written.  Consider my journey, as it will help you.  Also, read the journey and the story of other men and women of history.  They have all passed where you too one day will be going.

Provide for your children better than you have been provided for.  More love, less worry.  More grace and more grace.  Teach them to work for what they have.  Nothing in this life is free.

Smile!  Laugh!  Toast it up.  Here's to the gift of life.  Thank you our Father.  All is well.
Love, Dad

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

Friday, December 16, 2011

the face of Jesus

A person was invited to gaze into the face of the Savior.  They could not do it, for they feared judgement and rejection from the Lord.   Yet, they dutifully continued to serve him.   The invitation was repeated over and over, but the person could not look in the face of Christ.  They felt too unworthy.

Finally on their deathbed the invitation came again.  This time, with death at hand, the person looked into the face of Jesus.  To their surprise, they saw no condemnation, no rejection, only love.

They cried like a baby.  They cried for the joy of being forgiven and accepted.  And, they cried because they had lived their entire life without the joy that could have been theirs had they simply seen the Savior for who he was.

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pat has a sin

So you know someone who has a particular sin.  Lets name the person Pat.   Odds are, Pat enjoys it briefly, then feels guilty about it the rest of the time.  All in all, it provides Pat much more pain than joy.

Then I know someone who is always talking about Pat's sin.  It seems to be a constant topic for them and they seem to derive much joy from talking about Pat's sin.

Each time I chew on the sins of others, I suspect that the chewing gives me more pleasure than the sinning gives the sinner.

Let's find better ways to spend our time.

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Growing points

Following yesterday’s post, I got to wondering what are the topics that I have chased over the last 18 years as pastor at Woods Chapel.  In other words, if you have attended church here all these years, what are the things that I have been going thru that you would have heard me address in sermons?  What are the things that you would have been invited to join with me in the great journey of life? 

Here are some of the things that I have seen myself think about and grow in over the years:
  • Evangelism- that God calls us to reach others
  • Hospitality – making others welcome
  • Inclusivity – all must be welcome
  • Missions – the growing awareness that we must live outside of ourselves
  • A guilt based or a grace based faith
  • Seeing the good.
  • Awareness – being awake in life
  • Compassion for the Homeless and the needy in general
  • Learning to be thankful and grateful
  • Choices about what our children will be involved in
  • The loss of loved ones
  • Overseas missions trips
  • Absorbing the pain of losing friends
  • Finding daily joy
What have you been thinking about these last 18 years?  What are you thinking about now?  Where are your growing points?

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Physican heal thyself

When you hear the pastor talk or read what the pastor writes, who is he talking to?  Is he or she only talking to others or is he also speaking to him or herself.  This might be a good way to separate those who talk to us and those who talk down to us.
 An honest pastor knows that they put their pants on one leg at a time.  Their spiritual journey isn’t just about helping others “get it.”  They understand that they too need to get it. 

 So when this old boy writes something or says something, please know that it is probably something that I am thinking about, struggling with or dancing with.  We are on this journey of life together, you and I.  We are the same.   And as we pursue and find our Father, we are whole.

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

Monday, December 12, 2011

Financial Problems

I recently finished a book by Larry Burkett called “Debt Free Living.”  It was written 20 years ago, but recently updated due to conditions in our country.

 As I talk with people about their issues and talk with my children about theirs, Burkett has identified some human behaviors that lead to financial trouble that I thought made an interest litany.

 Here is a partial list of ways we get in trouble-

Living beyond one’s means, spending more than they make, being unwilling to lower their standard of living, greed, impulse buying, get rich quick schemes, a lack of planning, being unprepared for future expenses, not having a budget, not being willing to deny myself anything, insisting that I have everything now that I grew up with or have had in the past, an inability to account for where the money went, lack of self discipline, assuming  that lenders would not loan you what you could not pay for, lack of communication between spouses, intentionally hiding things from spouses, wanting too much too soon, trying to match in three years the lifestyle that it took your parents thirty years to accumulate, ignoring your advisers, giving in to “small” indulgences, and finally, not thinking about it – denial.

 There are many problems with living a life that is out of financial balance.  Such living puts our families in danger, robs us of self esteem and is often dishonoring to God.

 There is good news though.  Simply by beginning to practice good stewardship habits, things can improve. For anyone that is interested, we have people at our church who are willing to spend time to advise you.  I am willing as well.  Regardless of the hole that a person may find themselves in, God is good and life is good and things can improve.

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

Sunday, December 11, 2011

the board

There is a board.  You have one and I have one.  What board do you speak of Jeff?  I do not have any boards.  Ahh, you are correct if you recognize that this board is not easy for us to see.  It is not a board that is kept in the garage or basement.  It is not a board for a project.  It did not come from Lowes or Home Depot.

The board that I refer to is invisible to us.  We cannot see it, because it is in our eye.  It is the board that Jesus refers to in Matthew chapter 7.  We don’t see this board because we have looked past it for so long that now it just seems to be a normal part of the panorama of our vision.

 Jesus calls us out on this.  It may be normal to us, but he begs us to see this perversion.  This board is unfair, it judges others and it is a blind spot to us.  As long as this board remains, we are unable to see anything as it is.  Not our fellow sojourners here on earth, or our Father in heaven.  We only see clearly when the board is removed.

 Maybe your board tells you that all Republicans are bad or all Democrats.  Maybe it tells you that all Baptists are bad or all Catholics or all Methodists.  Maybe it tells you that KU fans are stuck up or MU fans are something.  [And please do not post a comment saying that KU fans are stuck up.]  Maybe your board tells you that poor people are lazy.  Homeless people should just get a job.  All corporations are evil.  All people in power over me are unfair.  Good looking people are snobs.  The pastor at that church must be………

 And on and on it goes.

 Are you aware of your board?  Do you see it?  Only by becoming aware of our preconceived foolishness can we move into real living.  Only by waking up to our own darkness can we ever move into the light.  May God help us see our boards and remove them so that we might begin to see the world as he does.

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

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I hope for a Methodist

If all a Methodist does is say the sinner’s prayer and punch his ticket for heaven, then we will continue to be a powerless lot.  There is so much more to the Christian life.

 I yearn for Methodists that learn to pray when they are unhappy.  That give not their voice to complaint or sadness, but lift up their concerns to our Father.  Their prayers are filled the phrase, “thank you.”  Their prayers are becoming more and more about being in His presence, and in such activity, they are being infused with joy.

 I yearn for Methodists that make their church a priority.  They are present unless sick or out of town.  They see their church’s imperfections and love it and support it all the same.  They teach their children the value of the church and invite the unchurched to attend.  They are so committed to their church, when they roll in for their funeral, it won’t seem strange to them to be in the sanctuary.

I yearn for Methodists who have fought and won the war with our culture.  Who have turned their back on the American dream and learned to pursue God’s dreams.  These are those who know that all that we have and all that we are have come from above.  They look at their possessions, their salary and their 401k as gifts from our Father to be used in his service.

 I yearn for Methodists who serve.  Their time is their Father’s.  They find a place to give themselves in service to others.  Not out of duty, for they have truly found the joy of living outside of themselves.  A church filled with such people is a wonder to behold in the community.  A church not turned in, but a church that is turned out.

 I yearn for Methodists who bear witness to their faith.  Not in scary, guilt laden ways, but with a joy that is based in reality.  They accept people where they are at and are filled with grace.  They are always willing, always ready to share a word with another.  To help them see the good.  To help them see and find the God who is the source of love in this world.

 Give me such Methodists and we will turn a new page in every work place, every school and every community. 

 What kind of a Methodist are you?  What kind of a Methodist am I?

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

Friday, December 9, 2011

thinking

What are you thinking about?  What do you think about during the day?  What do you think about in your best moments?  In your worst?

 As I witness the rise of pornography in our culture I am again reminded of the importance of guarding our hearts and minds.  It can be done.  We can choose to think about other things.  Just because  a thought comes into our brain does not mean that we have to dwell on it.  What you dwell on, you eventually embrace.  What you embrace eventually becomes a part of you.

 If you are harboring thoughts of any kind that are not healthy, you know it.  You don’t need me or anyone else to tell you.  Since we can only think about one thing at a time, we need to remember that thinking on the unthinkable precludes us from thinking about our Father or his purpose for our lives.

 Maybe you are not the same person as you used to be.  Maybe you are not the person that you aspire to be.  It is never too late to change.  Right now, pray.  Give that thing over to our Father.  Ask him to take it away, and begin the battle.  Begin to fill your mind with other things.  You will turn the corner, and around the corner you will find the God of peace.

  8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Phil 4:8-9

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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

the passages of life

There are many passages of life.  Times when you are in between normal.  We all know what normal is, everything is going along so fine, so smoothly that you think life will always be this way.  Then something happens.  Children are born.  Children become teenagers.  Children graduate.  Children leave home. 

There are other passages.  The day you realize that your knees are so bad that your softball or tennis career is over.  The day you look in the mirror and realize that you actually do look like your father or mother. 

You know a passage has arrived when you enter a period of life that you cannot change and you know it is never going to return to the way it was before. 

Passages.  Life has them.  If you live long enough you will find yourself in them.  Here is the good news.  Many others have been there before you, and they survived.  Change is inevitable.  Adapting to change is optional.  There is good in every period of life, and if we look long enough, we will see it.

Take heart, we have all been this way before.

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

happy birthday

Happy Birthday, yesterday, December 6th to my dear wife Cathy.  She turned 31 this year.  What a delightful, funny, hardworking, compassionate, ornery person she is.  She loves her kids.  She loves to cook.  She loves the cooking channel, the food channel, iron chef, chopped, and any show that has the word chef in it.  She loves Michael Chiarello.  I actually was forced to visit his restaurant in Napa.

She likes red wine, mystery books, gardening and playing tennis.  She has been a great friend and partner for almost 27 years.  If you do not know her, I hope some day you get the chance to do so.

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

being challenged

This question from a book got me thinking, "Do we go to retreats, church, seminars, conferences, pray and read books on faith to be spiritually nourished? Or do we do these things to be spiritually challenged?"

Maybe your answer is both, which I think is a good answer. A big part of growth comes from the challenge. A big reason I attend church is because my thoughts, beliefs and understanding were put to the challenge. It made me dig for answers and helped me find the truth. Now, years later I find myself still wanting to be challenged. It strengthens me. It makes me ask questions and seek council. The one thing I can say with certainty is that God is bigger than I could ever allow Him to be. I am not, and hopefully never will be, satisfied and comfortable with what I know or feel I understand regarding God. Sure there are some basic truths revealed to all of us that I find comfort in knowing, but I pray I never limit God or become satisfied, arrogant, or complacent by knowing just those things. I believe God gave to me (us) a glimpse so that we might understand enough to want to seek out more.

Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Monday, December 5, 2011

J A Z Z

Last night the WCC Jazz Band put on another great performance. I am glad it was able to happen knowing that they have had some struggles this year. We are blessed at WCC to not only have this talent but to have it pulled together and used as an outreach ministry.

One very cool thing I learned at the concert was that the Jazz Band was open to youths as well . There was some great young talent on the stage last night and it could not have happened if the opportunity had not been made available. It seems of late that every time I turn around I hear/see of another person stepping up to do the right thing for the youth in our congregation and our community. I have written in past about the positive influence people at our church, in the community, coaches and teachers have had on my kids. It just goes so far and so deep and makes such a lasting impression. So today I want to say thanks to Jim McFall and the WCC Jazz Band for doing so much more than just playing great music....


Peace,
Lion's Den Man

Sunday, December 4, 2011

the dark night

We think of Christmas as a time of joy and light, and surely it is.  But have you ever wondered about the struggles that Mary and Joseph faced?  Quite a dark night.  Lots of questions, lots of doubts.  How do you get thru carrying a baby on the word of an angel?  How do you traverse a bride to be who is pregnant by word of an angel?  These are questions that no human had ever dealt with before. 

The only way that I can get my mind around such questions is to remember that they had to rely on our Father.  They had to keep pointing their hearts and minds toward the One behind the story. 

And so, they are not much different than the rest of us.  We all face darkness, discouragement and fear.  We all have questions that are much larger than we can answer.  And we all have choices about how to respond to them.  Do we cower away?  Do we mount the horse of complaint?  Or do we choose to put our trust in our Father?  The way we choose to respond to struggle will tell all about what kind of a day, week, year or life that we will have.

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

Saturday, December 3, 2011

tacos part deux

My dear friend Sharon had this comment on my post of a few days ago-

Very interesting story...let me tell you mine. I was at that very same Taco Bell a few years ago but had a very different situation. I went through the drive-thru, placed my order and then pulled up to the window to pay. I realized my wallet was not in my purse--I had left it at my daughter's house. I apologized to the lady at the window and started to drive off. She says, "Oh, don't worry about it honey" and hands me my food and drink. I said that wasn't necessary and she insisted that I take the food without payment. I told her I'd bring the money back, but I'm not sure I ever did. But doesn't it seem kind of ironic that there are homeless/hungry people with no money hanging around Taco Bell waiting for leftovers while people with money (not necessarily on them) get their food for free. What's wrong with this picture?

Friday, December 2, 2011

my stomping grounds

Most of the first 12 years of my life were spent in the vicinity of 99th and Holmes.  The local landmark there has always been Gomer's.  I went to elementary school at 105th and Holmes and would have gone to Center South Jr High on 103rd had we not moved to California.

I skateboarded at Colonial Presbyterian.  I rode my bike across Holmes and Wornall roads to visit friends.  I played neighborhood baseball and football in Linden Hill and snuck into the pool at Indian Heights.  I went to vacation bible school at Holmeswood Baptist Church.  When 435 was being built, we climbed the fence, threw our bikes over, and rode up and down the newly poured concrete.  We owned the neighborhood.

My Parents moved back to this neighborhood when we came back from California in 1976.  They both finished their time on earth in this neighborhood.  My sister still lives there.

I guess things are changing in my old stomping grounds.  Besides the homeless people I met at Taco Bell the other day, I guess there are many others in the area.  I hear that they are on the corner of 95th and Holmes, trying to collect money from motorists.  We used to go to the Dairy Queen on the SW corner of that intersection. 

My sister tells me that in the woods just east of the Indian Heights pool there is a homeless camp.  Tents and camp fires and such.  She tells me that every now and then the neighbors call the police and the police run the homeless people off.  Which prompts a question or two- how do you run off homeless people?  Where do they go?

Seems like just the other day we were playing softball at the Evangel Temple field and having bicycle races around Winslow Place Circle.

You grow up a certain way and you expect some things to stay the same.  But we have no guarantees.  God is still good and life goes on.

It's a melancholy day in God's world, lets go look for the good.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

two tacos

I dropped off a couple of books to a Catholic Priest friend of mine over by Rockhurst College.  It is lunch time now.  I am on the way to St. Joseph hospital to visit a member.  Since I am concerned about starving to death before I get to the hospital, I stop at the Taco Bell at 103rd and State Line.  These are my old stomping grounds [but more about that later.]

As I park the car, I notice a homeless man by the dumpster.  I go in to order my lunch.  I get my Taco Bell usual.  Three tacos and a bean burrito.  I really like hitting Taco Bell.  Thank God the food is good for you.

As I am eating, I notice another homeless man who is asleep inside, in a booth.  Arms crossed on the table, head on arms, out cold.  Dead to the world.  Someone has laid a $5 bill on the table at the edge of his arm.  When he wakes up, he will be glad to see this.

As I am eating my food, I keep thinking about the homeless man outside.  I decide that I really don't need to eat the last two tacos.  I go to get a to go bag and head outside.  I go looking over by the dumpster, but the homeless man is gone.

Three people sitting in a car think that I am throwing away the bag.  They try to tell me where the dumpster door is at.  I tell them that I was looking for the homeless man.  I was going to give him these two tacos.  Without hesitation, they all said, "we are homeless."  I took the bag of two tacos over to their dilapidated car.  A young woman in the back seat stuck her hand out the window.  I gave her the tacos.

She was absolutely delighted.  You would have thought she hadn't eaten in a week.

Oh.  Wait.  Well, I guess I don't know when she ate last.  But yesterday, she got two tacos from an old preacher.  And she gave the preacher something to think about.  Is it possible that homeless people hang around at places to eat, hoping that some kind soul will bring some food to them on their way out?

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Good form

Ongoing comment about the state football championship games last weekend.  I heard nothing from our team that concerned me, but there are always some folks in situations like this that need to be reminded of what our fathers taught us.

Sportsmanship is all about manners.  Good form and bad form.  You can win alot of games, but if you have a bad attitude or a self-gratifying way, you still look like a loser.  It is important in life, in games and in all of life to learn to be a gracious winner and a good loser as well.

It is never appropriate to chide the other team.  This only makes us look small.  It is always honorable to lift up others, even, especially the competition.  This is mature.  This is right.  This is honorable.

It is fine to feel proud of one's accomplishments, but we should never try to get ahead by stepping on the necks of others.  The right thing is the right thing to do, even if you are the only one doing it. 

It is never good to blow one's own horn.  It just doesn't sound right.  Let someone else say nice things about you.  It always comes across a little better then.

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

tit for tat

Tit for tat.  This follows that.  Ying and Yang.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

I have a dear friend that loves to shop.  It gives her a high.  She is euphoric.  You can read it on her face.  That is until the bills come.  Then comes the pain and the shame.  There is the joy of shopping and the pain of paying for it later.

When one cuts someone off in traffic, there is a momentary joy.  There is also shame.  And if we ourselves are cut off, anger shows up.  There is no momentary joy then, unless you look in the other person's car that is.

There is the joy of winning the state football championship.  Congratulations to Blue Springs South.  But, on the other side of the field, is the sorrow of losing.  The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.  Lets take a little bit of time to pray for and encourage those who lost.  We have all been there.

Let's always be mindful of how others feel.

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

a mustang

Well, let me confess one of my sins.  I love cars, and of all cars in the world, I love Ford Mustangs.  Old ones, new ones, all of them except for the Mustang 2.

The most distracting thing for me when I am driving, is not shaving, texting or eating.  The most distracting thing for me is when I come up upon, or when a Mustang comes up on, and passes me. 

I keep fighting off the urge to get one.  I used to own a 98 GT.  I keep fighting off the urge.  I don't need it.  I keep telling myself that I can admire them from afar.  I can like them without owning one.  But I also keep an eye open for that used one that needs a loving owner.

There is alot of joy for me in this little story.  Ahh, the simple things of life that make us happy.  But I am also aware that when I like something too much, it can become too important.  So, here I am, living in the tension.  Thankful for things that I enjoy in life, allowing myself to appreciate them and occasionally want them, but remembering that life is good, even if I don't get everything that I want.

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

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mary says yes

I am looking forward to the sermon today- "Mary says yes."  Mary did say yes to God.  She took on an enormous responsibility.  She was willing to carry a child at the invitation of the angel Gabriel. 

Does God ask us to do things?  What kind of things?  Do we listen for his voice?  Do we hear him?  Do we say yes or no?  It is a good day when we say yes to our Father.

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

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cliff Uttley

I am responding today to the news that a long time member of Woods Chapel has passed away.  Cliff Uttley was a father of three.  After many years as a part of our church family, the Uttleys moved to Joplin.  Cliff was always friendly, always happy, always there to help.  He was a committed father and scout leader.  When you looked into his eyes he was present.  He was there for you.

Cliff was a good man.  He was a friend.  He will be truly missed.  My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

As I fight off my tears, I am reminded that we are not promised tomorrow.  Bill Gaither sang, "Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may never come, but we have these moments today."  Savor them, and be sure to see the good.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

I read a lot of news on the Internet. One article on yahoo.com talked about the best deals for black Friday.  Here they are-

Sharp 42 inch 1080p TV $199 at Best Buy

Asus Transformer - [like an Ipad] $249. at Best Buy

Xbox 360 4GB Game System $139.99 at Target

Lenovo dual-core AMD laptop (G575-438343U) $179.99 at Best Buy

Toshiba Core i3 Laptop (L755-S5366) $399.99 at Office Depot

Samsung U55D6000 LED HDTV $1,099.99 at Sears

PlayStation 3       $199.96 at Wal-Mart

Apple iPod Touch with free $50 gift card $199.99 at Toys R Us

Toshiba Smart Blu-ray Disc Player $39.99 at Best Buy

Great bargains indeed, but do you really want to try to fight the crowds, only to find out that each store only had four of the items?  And if you fight the fight and get one, do we really need this stuff?  What would happen to our hearts if we stopped wanting everything?

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

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Give Thanks

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. ~H.U. Westermayer

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart

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

Remember God's bounty in the year. String the pearls of His favor. Hide the dark parts, except so far as they are breaking out in light! Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude! ~Henry Ward Beecher

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow. ~Edward Sandford Martin

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action. ~W.J. Cameron

Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day. ~Robert Caspar Lintner

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
~George Herbert

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


On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence. ~William Jennings Bryan

Oh, may each of you my dear friends, bend the knee this day to thank our Heavenly Father for all of his amazing blessings.  May you feel the joy of saying thank you.  May this act of offering thanks, begin a daily practice of living life from the perspective of a grateful heart.

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

making amends

I just thought of this story and I wanted to share.  Years ago I had a pastor.  He was supposed to do my wedding.  My mother had heard some scuttle but at church about him taking money that wasn't for him.  Based on that, I released him from our wedding and got someone else to do it.

As the years went by I felt badly about this.  I wondered how it made him feel.  I wondered why I would do that based only on a rumor.  I decided to make amends.

A few years ago, I went to see him.  Retired and well aged, he still remembered the incident.  he was glad that I came over and very glad for my apology.  By the time I left his home, all was well.  I look back on this, and I am so glad that I went to see him.  He passed away last year, and if there were any regrets on his mind, at least none of them had to do with me.

When I lay my head down at night I want to have a clear conscience.  It helps so much with everything.  Is there someone that you might want to visit?  The person that forgives another, needs it as much as the one who is pardonded.

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

how you respond

I recently visited my counselor.  Yes.  I have a counselor.  Being a pastor will drive you crazy  if you aren't careful.

We were talking about things that cause anxiety and stress.  Yes, I had a couple of stories for him.  His response was brilliant.  "How you choose to respond to that event will say a lot about whether your anxiety level goes up or down regarding the situation."

So there are ways that we often respond that actually increase our anxiety.  When we act defensively, when we hurt back, when we react, we are simply behaving in ways that make things worse.

Do you, do I want my anxiety to go down?  What would Jesus do?  How would he handle the thing?  Ah, turn the other cheek.  I feel better already.

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

home phone number

Well, we have finally made the switch.  When I was a kid, the phone company was a monopoly.  Later they were broken up into smaller companies.  Still it seemed that you really only had one choice for home phone service. 

Over the past few years the rise of internet based phone service has changed this.  Vonage and Magic Jack have both put a dent into the traditional home phone market.

We are changing service providers for the following reasons.
1.  monthly charges for our home phone has risen to $43 per month, that $520 per year!
2. customer service has turned into a giant phone tree
3.  occaisional charges show up that no one knows where they came from and the company does not want to reverse them.

Our new service will cost $33 per year.  I have installed the new phone and you can call us at 816-600-1177.  Please make a note of this number change.

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

Sunday, November 20, 2011

the best day

What were the best days of your church?  Now?  Last year?  Ten or twenty years ago?  Do you remember back in the 80's when so and so was our pastor?  Gosh those were good times.

Are the best days of your church ahead of you or behind you?  Are your moments of strength in the future or in the past?

Last week we had about 1200 people in church.  A great crowd.  When people ask why we are adding on to our building, this is what I want everyone to understand.  If we do not add on, then this is today, our best day.  It will never get any better.  Ten years from now, we will look back and say, wow, do you remember those days?  Thirty years from now when we have aged by an entire generation, we will look back and wish that we had taken the painful steps to keep growing in 2011.

Moving into a positive future is hard work.  Settling for the status quo is easy.  Sliding back into malaise is all too easy when churches lose their vision.

If ever there was a time when the community needed a positive message, now is the time.  Thank you for believing in your church.  Thank you for believing that God has a strong future for us.

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

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I miss you

Ok.  You have  been out of church for a while.  I can think of five reasons, and so can you.  Here is what I want you to know.  It is all ok.  You are welcome.  You are loved.  No one cares if you just come and sit and rest.  Don't worry about what anyone thinks.

I think of all the songs that you have missed.  All of the points in the sermons.  All the stories.  Not that the sermons are that great, but I know that every now and then something is looking to speak to you and I wish that you were here to catch those moments.

Come back.  I love you.  So do  200 other people.  You will be glad that you did.  Call me.  Let's have lunch.

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

Friday, November 18, 2011

my homeless friends

I have some homeless friends.  They don't come over to play cards.  We don't watch monday night football together.

We are friends because I did their wedding about ten years ago.  They keep calling the church.  That is ok.  Lots of homeless folks do.  They call once in a while.  Then I don't hear from them for a year.  Lately they are back.  They are living in a motel on 40 highway.  Initially they wanted food.  We took them food.  Then a few weeks later they wanted more food.  Imagine, homeless people that wanted more food.  Now they have a long list of things that they want.

Shoes, clothes, winter coat, belts, underwear, a double burner hot plate, coffee, tuna, bread, etc.

At first I was a little taken back by the list.  We can't help every homeless person this much.  Then something happened to me.  One morning I was leaving for work.  I turned off the $150 Keurig coffee pot in our kitchen.  I put my $200 blackberry into my pocket.  I locked my $300 schnauzer dog into his $40 kennel.  I went out and got into my 2005 Honda Civic.  I pushed the button on our automatic garage door opener.  The door closed on our 4 bedroom home in Oaks Ridge.

And I thought of the list of things that my homeless friends want.  I was cut to the core.  Convicted.  I am going to make sure that they get everything on the list.  Sure we can't help every homeless person this much, but I can sure help one couple.

It's an embarrasing day for me in God's world, be sure to look past your own comfort and see the least of these.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

sell your posessions

I am finishing up reading the book "Radical" by David Platt.  I am not sure if I can recommend it.  My biggest struggle is with some of his approach to Scripture.  He is very dogmatic and admittedly is holding up a standard that he himself is not living by.

Having said that, he makes some very good points.  One of them is that American Christians tend to forget that Jesus asked us to store up treasure in heaven.  We tend to store up treasure here.  Platt makes big use of the story of the rich young ruler where Jesus tells him to go and sell every thing that he owns and give to the poor.

Taken literally, [and Platt takes everything literally] if everyone in our economy gave everything they owned to the poor, our country would collapse and we would simply change places with the poor.

However, I do think it is a good idea for us to consider the words of Jesus and ask ourselves, how is it that we are showing that we are not controlled by our possessions?  How can we show that we put God before stuff?  How can we that we are radically committed to helping the poor?

Here are some simple things that I am trying to do-
1.  if you don't wear a piece of clothing in a year, give it away.
2.  limit the number of pieces of clothing in your closet.  How many suits do I really need?
3.  buy used cars.  Drive them until they drop.
4.  give money away.  Sacrificially
5.  go on mission trips
6.  help everyone that you can, in every way that you can.
7. if you must shop, shop in the less expensive stores
8. never waste food
9.  never think that you deserve what you have
10.  consider your things and your money to be God's not yours

I know that when we live our lives in a way that makes God more important than our stuff, we find the joy of Christian living. 

I am sure that I am missing some good ideas- what are you doing in your life to show that your life is not controlled by stuff?

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

music

I was thinking about music the other day because my wife has satellite radio in her car and we like to listen to channel 32 when she is home.  I love music.  I want to believe that all music is God’s music, but I have to admit that I have heard some music that I don’t think qualifies.

Some of my favorite songs are:
Van Morrison- Into the Mystic
Anything Steely Dan
Leah Kunkel- I’ve got to get a message to you
Louie Armstrong - What a wonderful world
Leon Russel- lost in a mascarade
Anything U2
Anything Paul Simon
Anything Fernando Ortega

It brings me such joy.  I hope that you have some music that you allow into your soul.

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Celebrate God

You may know this about me, but too bad, here it is again.  I just can’t stop thinking about it recently.

I grew up in the church of duty.  Do right.  Serve God.  Do the right thing because it is what we must do.  Being a Christ follower centered around all of the oughts and shoulds.

When I was in seminary I met people who believed that being a Christian was about something different.  They thought we could and should all learn to celebrate God.  I thought they were crazy.  I argued with them.

Finally, I drank the cool-aid.  It is an uphill fight for my brain, but I am trying to live my life based on joy and celebration rather than duty.  It has been a long, slow change for me.  Now people that are living their life the way I used to, well they think I am crazy.

I was thinking about all of this the other day and I realized that it all goes by so quickly.  Life is so good, and so short.  I wish I would have learned about celebrating our life with the Lord when I was younger.  I wish it didn’t take so long to teach an old dog new tricks.

If you are reading this and you are still focusing mostly on being dutiful, I invite you to join the parade and get out there for the celebration.  Here are ways that you can do that-

1.     Rid yourself of inappropriate guilt
2.    Stop thinking about how bad you are
3.    Look at people.  Smile at them and say something nice.
4.    Take a long look at creation and thank the Creator.
5.    Find one thing to be thankful for every day.
6.    In every circumstance, practice seeing the good.

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

lunch

I need to turn over a new leaf, but I am not sure how to do it.

Every week I am out to lunch almost every single day with someone from church.  The face time is important.  See yesterday’s post. 

Here are my problems associated with lunches out.
1.     It is getting expensive to pay for lunch out every day.
2.    I am eating way too many calories at lunch time for at 54 year old man.
3.    The gals at the Panda CafĂ© know me by name.

Mostly it is a health thing.  I need to find some new habits.  So I have an idea.  I am going to go to the store every week and but a loaf of healthy bread, a bunch of cans of tuna and some low fat mayo.  If you and I are going to have lunch, we can meet in the church coffee bar.  I will make each of us a tuna sandwich and we can talk.

What do you think about that?  Will that work?  Maybe you have other ideas?
It’s a beautiful day in God’s world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

investing in people

Missions thoughts first - Yesterday's post raised a number of comments.  I suggest that some may want to read it a little closer.  First of all I wasn't saying anything, just asking questions.  Secondly, my comments were only about international missions not local missions or our work in Joplin.  And yes, relationships are very important.  Which is the point of my thought.... wouldn't it be nice if we had a place where we were present 365 days a year.?  It is easier to send a check then to go, but on some of these trips, the cost is so so very expensive, some of the recipients of our visits have asked the questions themselves about the benefits vs the costs.  And yes all of you are right, the most important part of a mission trip is the effect on those we go to serve, not the effect on us.  I thought that was part of what I was addressing.  Anyway, questions are good and new thoughts help us, and I was just throwing some out.  Now on to today's post...........

Investing in people......

Sometimes when I meet with people they apologize for taking my time.  I always tell them that meeting with people is the most important thing that I do.  Personal time, face to face is always a good thing.

And so I have a couple of questions for you.  First of all, do you need some personal face time with your pastor?  If so, send me an email and we can find a time to meet. 


My second question is, are you investing yourself in people?  Who are you mentoring?  Helping?  Caring for?  It really is the most important thing that any of us can do.


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


Saturday, November 12, 2011

mission thoughts

Missions thoughts

We have a wonderful missions program at our church.  We are involved in many many organizations.  Maybe too many.  The only criticism that I hear of our missions is that we may be an inch deep and a mile wide.

Internationally we are involved in Jamaica, Russia, Guatemala, Haiti, Liberia, and Mozambique at least.  Every time we send someone on a trip to one of these places, we collect or they give a bunch of money to pay for their travel.  They go for ten days and then come back, changed, sort of.  We hope.

Here are some questions that I am asking myself.  What are the long term changes that take place in someone that goes on a mission trip?  What are the long term results that we leave behind in the country we visit? 

In talking to my Priest friend in Belize, he said, “don’t send me ten people to help with the work here for a week.  I just have to spend my time taking care of them.  I interrupts my work and besides we have plenty of volunteers in our parish.  Take the money that you were going to use to send them here, and send us a check instead.”

I have a thought.  What if we had a one year moratorium on trips.  What if we could collect all of the money that we would have used to send people on trips for that year.  Use that money to buy a place in some needy part of the world.  Maybe it’s a help center in Jamaica, maybe it’s a food kitchen in Haiti- I don’t know.  But then, we man it with our people.  You go there for 30 days at a time, or less if you need to. 

There would never be any questions about how the money was used to operate the place because it would be our people operating it.  We would build a long term presence in the community.  It would not preclude others, but would become the main focus of our mission work.  Long term relationships.  Long term results.  Just thinking out loud.

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

Friday, November 11, 2011

The main issue of the church

The main issue of the church

What is the biggest issue that the church in America faces?  Declining attendance?  People that want to be entertained?  Heresy?  The idols of our culture?  As a side bar, the biggest issue that churches in the Caribbean area face is voodoo. 

Back to our issues.  Attendance.  False teaching.  Cultural idols.  As a Christian, are you, am I fighting against these things or contributing to them?  Just because everyone does something, doesn’t mean that we should too.  If someone asked us to jump off of a cliff would we do that?

Being an active part of a church is one of the most rewarding things that I have ever participated in.  I love the Royals, and I enjoy the toys that I have collected in life, but the loss of the church would leave a tremendous hole.

I hope that you see the value and importance of your church, wherever it is.

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

living simply

I recently spent 5 days living with Catholic Priests.  They take a vow of poverty.  We could learn alot from them.

Sometimes folks feel sorry for Priests because they cannot marry or have children, and I do feel bad on that account.  There is much joy in marriage and fatherhood.

However, on the other side of this is that the priests have few of life's distractions.  They do not own or maintain a home or a car.  They do not have a bank account.  They do not have to worry about paying bills or where the money will come from.  They have few worldly posessions to take up their time or to call for their attention.

Consequently, they are pretty consumed with the work of God.  They eat the same things every day.  Oatmeal for breakfast.  Soup and crackers for lunch.  random selections for dinner.

All of the things that we worry about, they don't.

Now, much of their life we cannot duplicate.  I am already married and have children.  I own a house and a car.

However, the invitation to live more simply speaks to me in a way that is quite compelling.  I want to ask myself some questions..... what can I do to rid my life of things that really don't matter?  What is it that consumes my time and energy that probably shouldn't?  Can I get rid of some of these things?  Can you?

When the board is out of our eye, we will be able to see more clearly.

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

nations

My country's better than your country, my country's better than yours..... so we sing our songs of nationalism.

There have been great nations before us.  The British Empire.  The Hapsburg Empire.  Imperial Japan.  The Ming dynasty.  The Cherokee Nation.  Aztecs.  Mayans.  The Ottoman Empire.  The Roman Empire.  Sparta.  Egypt.  On and on the list could go.

There is a list of nations in trouble today.  Greece.  Ireland.  Portugal.  Iceland.  Others as well.  Maybe we are on that list- I am not sure, but I do know that God always points us towards himself.

Psalm 99
 1 The LORD reigns,
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.
2 Great is the LORD in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations.
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name—
he is holy.

When we focus on the problems of the world, we are filled with worry.  When we focus on our Father, we can learn to trust again.  I am going to say that again- When we focus on the problems of the world, we are filled with worry. When we focus on our Father, we can learn to trust again.

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

the story

Everyone has a story.  We pass people that we do not know.  Maybe you think that they are nothing to you.  Maybe you never give them a passing thought.

God however, is deeply interested in the people that we pass by.  He knows them.  He knows their hurts, their struggles, their challenges, their history- and he loves them.

Is there someone in your office that you have been passing by?  Someone at church?  Red or yellow, black or white they are precious in his sight.

Everyone has a story.  Choose to engage yourself with them so that you can become a positive chapter in their life.  They are worth it.

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

Monday, November 7, 2011

a comment about giving

In response to a post that I made last week about giving, a friend shared this email with me:

I'm going to tell you a little story about giving.  A long time ago, a friend and I used to sit and pay bills together at lunch time.  She had a very hard time making ends meet.  But she told me that she gives freely (not grudgingly) to her church.  She told me that this is the first check she writes and somehow God makes it all come together.

A few years ago, I was having my child go to Sylvan for tutoring (like paying college tuition).  His dad would not help me w/the expense so we were pretty strapped.  The kids were allowed to eat at McDonald's once a week, provided they order off the dollar menu and no pop.  Well, they rebelled against that on one particular night.  I told them that we needed to pay God and so we were only allowed so much at McD's.  They were saying that we shouldn't pay God so much money that they weren't allowed to get what they wanted from the menu.  I told them that Mommy wouldn't have a job, there would be no McDonald's, we would have nothing--without God.  So we pay Him first.

My point is that you are not "asking for money."  You are teaching folks (who might not know otherwise) to pay God first.

A teachable moment...

And I would share a comment.  Yes she is right.  What ever you give to God, give it first.  The first check that you write when you get paid, should be to our Father.  It is a way to honor him and to remember that everything that we have is from him.

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

Sunday, November 6, 2011

to see the good

This really should not be that hard.... seeing the good.  There is so much good.  Yet when something good happens, we sense it for a brief moment, and then expect that it will always be like this.  We take in good news and expect that from now on we are entitled to at least that much good.  The moment something changes for us, we are mad because our good news is being tampered with.  Someone moved our cheese.

We should never take anything for granted.  We should never expect that God or life owes us anything. 

I am thankful for food in the cupboard, friends that care, a loving church family, a wife that puts up with me.  On an on I could go.

Let focus on the good.  There really is so much there to be seen if we just look.

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

Saturday, November 5, 2011

the giving list

Last week I wrote one day about how difficult it can be to ask folks to give.  Part of the reason for that is that sometimes the responses that I get from folks can be pretty painful. 

So, I have this dream that we create a club.  A club of folks that don't mind if Jeff sends them an email from time to time and asks if they want to help with some project financially.  A group of folks that see the joy in giving.  They may not help with every request, but they at least are not offended by Jeff asking, and are glad to be a part of the team that makes special things happen.

Is there any body out there that would like to be a part of such a team?  We do need financial help with projects from time to time, and I would love to have some folks that would welcome the opportunity to show leadership in this way.

I would send an email about this no more than once per month.  Everyone is welcome, regardless of the size or ability of a gift.  Let me know if you want to be on the team.

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

Friday, November 4, 2011

make it easy

Make it easy on the preacher please.

True story- Once upon a time a new preacher arrived at a new appointment.  He was thrust immediately into a funeral for a 75 year old man.  Here he goes to visit the family.  He has never met any of them before.  He is a young preacher and in the family circle are eight sons and daughters of the deceased, all in their fifties.

The young preacher prays with the family and begins to ask the questions that help set the stage for a successful memorial service or celebration of life.  "Tell me about your father."  ''Who were his friends?'' "What did he love?" "How did he pass on his faith to you?''

Interestingly enough, no matter what the preacher asked, the family said nothing.  Nothing at all.  The preacher worked it from every angle.  Finally one of the sons said, "Preacher, can you do a funeral?"  Surprised, I said, I mean the preacher said, "yes of course."

Another prayer was said, a sandwich was consumed and the preacher said his good byes.  He was about half way down the sidewalk when one of the other sons came out of the house and said this.  "Preacher, I just wanted you to know why no one would say anything about our dad.  We hated him.  All of us.  There is nothing good to say.  He was a son of ............."

Well, needless to say, that was an interesting funeral.  And the moral of the story is, some people make it easy, and some people make it hard.  Please live your life in such a way so that at your funeral, you give the preacher something to work with.  Make it easy on the preacher please.

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

Thursday, November 3, 2011

funeral info

The other day I was going through a file and came upon my funeral files.  Copies of funerals that I have done - 127 plus-  and counting.  The busiest years were the ones that I was in Princeton, a small town in north Missouri.  In 1993 I presided at 15 funerals.

In addition to the files of funerals that I led, I also have files with information from those who are still living.  Some people have given me poems, thoughts, or various requests.  I have kept them in a file for the day that they are needed - assuming that I am still assigned to Woods Chapel. One person wrote, I hope that when you get this paper out, it is old, yellow and tattered from age.........

It is a comfort for me to be able to stand at the funeral of a friend and to be able to say, "this is what they wanted me to convey to you."

I hope that your memorial service is many many years from now.  But remembering that my funeral is coming, is a sure to cause me to pay attention to the beauty of this day.

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