Saturday, April 30, 2011

city council

I talked to a large church pastor the other day who told me that he has been elected to the city council in his town.  He says that one of the unintended bi products of this election, is that he is getting used to unhappy people and complaining phone calls at all hours of the day and night.

He says that when someone complains at church now, he just says, "take a number and get in line."

In some strange way, I find this a bit funny.   I am sure he has added a great deal of consternation into his life by becoming involved in politics.  I for one, am not going to do it.  I don't want the extra phone calls, and our folks don't complain that much anyway.

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

Friday, April 29, 2011

what year

What year is it?  Lyle Shaller, a famous church consultant, used to begin every meeting with a church by asking the question, "What year is it here?"

Do you hear the question?  Here it is... Are you church folks acting like we are still in 1960?  1975?  1980?  Is your view of the church, like the church you grew up in?  Do you expect Woods Chapel 2011 to be like the church you grew up in?  How many years ago was that?  What year is it in your brain for the church?

Is it possible that Christendom is fluid and that it is not contained by the shape of any particular decade?  Is it possible that the Spirit continues to call us away from our cultural views of "church" and towards a faithful following of Jesus?  Is it possible that we are stuck in a picture of the church that no longer works, and is no more faithful simply because it is the paradigm that we learned?

The year today of course is 2011.  The church of 2011 and into the future cannot be held back by our ideas.  God draws us away from our preconceived notions and into faithfulness.   Are you ready to go?

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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Attendance

Well, everyone always asks, so here are the numbers.  At all services this year for Easter, there were 2640 people in attendance.  Remember, numbers don't matter, except for the fact that numbers represent human beings.

Do you like that number, does it make you happy?  Last year we had 2819 on Easter.  Does that number make you feel bad?  Why did we have fewer this year? 

Not to make excuses, but last year we had a fiasco, being unprepared for those who were here.  I know that many were discouraged by that.  Adam Hamilton told me yesterday that it takes them 6-9 months to recover from a capital funds drive.  The most important thing that I can tell you about numbers, is that they are going to be up and down, all around the church, until we can figure out how to make room for others.  After 16 years of up, up, up, we have reached critical mass at WCC.  A restaurant with 10 tables can only serve so many people lunch.  If we want to serve and reach more folks, we have to make more opportunities.   That is why the pastor and the building committee have been holding up the proposed building addition.

I want to thank everyone for all of their work on Easter.  The day ran very smoothly and it was a great celebration of the resurrected Christ.  Please just understand, until we make more opportunities, our numbers will be up and down as we are just up against our potential.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Timeliness.  Sometimes being timely is more important that being true or right.  Sometimes people cannot take the truth.  They are not ready for it.  We in our arrogance want to lay the truth on someone.  We want to give it to them straight.  What if they are not ready for it?  What if they can only digest the truth a little bit at a time?  Is it really right to crush them with something that they cannot yet bear?

Jesus said, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear."  John 16:12  Jesus knew that folks can only take the truth a little bit at a time.  How much truth are you able to bear?  How open are you to invite Jesus to change your thinking?  How open am I?

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

old places

Yesterday I went to visit someone in Research Hospital.  On the way home I was driving by 63rd street by the old Pepsi building.  I remembered that I used to work over there in 1979.  I turned off and went back into the area to see what was still there.

In 1979 there was an office trailer, a metal building shop and a place to park trucks.  What would be there today?  Not much.

32 years later, there is no trace of the business that I worked at for two years.  It is kind of a funny feeling to know that you invested yourself in a place, and a few years later, there is nothing.

May that never be the case for the things that really matter in life.  May our investments in the people that we come into contact with always bear fruit that lasts.  Office trailers come and go, but people are an eternal investment.

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

Monday, April 25, 2011

lamb cake

Yesterday I posted about Easter memories.  Having them, and making them.  One of the things that I mentioned was eating lamb cake as a child. 
When I came home from church, someone [RK] had delivered a lamb cake. How totally nice.  How awesome.  Now you can see what one looks like, and I get to eat it.

Next year on Easter, in my blog I think I will mention some big vacation and see if it shows up the next day.  Just kidding.

Actually, here is an odd thought.  The blog post was delayed for some reason yesterday, so the cake showed up before the blog was even available.  How did RK even know about the lamb cake?  I don't know.  At any rate, it is beautiful, and greatly appreciated.

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

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Easter brings many memories for me.  When I was three years old, I got a deck of Casper the Friendly Ghost playing cards in my Easter Basket.  We went to egg hunts every year in Kirkwood park.  We ate big Easter meals and finished them off with a piece of lamb cake. [white cake baked in a lamb shaped pan.]  We never missed church, ever, when I was growing up.  In fact, I believe that I have been in church every Easter Sunday for 53 years.

Today, we will make new memories.  Time spent with families, traditions exercised, relationships renewed.  And church.  May you find this day, a blessing from your worship.  May the prayers prayed, the words spoken and the songs sung, bless you.  May you feel the joy of life with God.  May the resurrection speak to you of the hope that we have in Christ.

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

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Yesterday, my mother in law had the balloon treatment on her heart.  Seems that she had been having chest pains.  Once they figured out why, the balloon worked well.  Before and after pictures indicate that the procedure was a complete success.  She will have lots of blood flow to that part of the heart from here on out.

It is nice that we live in a time when doctors can find out what the problem is and make the repairs.  It is also nice to see how friends and loved ones pour out in times of need.  All three of Carlotta's children stood vigil at her bedside.  Each of my children made the trip to visit grandma.  The concern exhibited on each face showed a true respect for this fine lady.

Family is good.  Having a nurse in the family who knows what questions to ask is good.  Standing with those in need is good stuff.  Love is good.

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

Friday, April 22, 2011


The other day I received a gift. There was no special reason or occasion. I think the person who gave me the gift just felt like doing so….I used to struggle with things like that. I felt like I needed to give back back the debt...keep things balanced so to speak. But, that’s not how it works. You can never equal the heart or the spirit in the giving of the first gift. You can, however, pay it forward.

It can be hard to accept something for free. Grace is like that, it is given…you can’t pay it back, but you can pay it forward.

Ephesians 2:8
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

Lion’s Den Man

Thursday, April 21, 2011

breaking bread

Jesus spent so much time enjoying food with people that the Pharisees called him a glutton. He did it because it was time well spent... Community... If you get the chance today, share a meal with someone. Slow things down for a bit. Take your time to enjoy fellowship. Celebrate! Pray and give thanks. Find peace. Most of all remember....

When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, "You've no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It's the last one I'll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God." Luke 14-16 Msg.

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19 NIV

Lion’s Den Man

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chilli Pepper

Hi Chili Pepper-
I read your comment.  You want to have coffee.  That is great.  Please call me or send me an email so I know who you are. 

Anybody else out there, the coffee is on.  One of the best ways for me to spend my time is to spend it with you.  So let me know if you want to visit sometime.

For that matter, our time is such a great gift.  To give to another person, your ear, your eyes, your heart, your soul, your time.  That is what relationship is all about.  Things get better when we do that.  They don't always get fixed, but things get better when we spend  time together.

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Last night I ran over a skunk.  I did not actually hit it, someone else took care of that.  It was just out in the middle of the road, dead, and my car travelled over it.

Odd thing.  My car immediately filled up with the joyful aroma of skunk.  Ahh.  Savor it.

There are several morals from this story.

1.  sometimes just getting close to trouble is bad enough.
2.  you can think you have dodged a problem when you have not.
3.  given enough time, the smell will leave and you will have your life back.
4.  steer clear, way clear of the bad stuff.

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

Monday, April 18, 2011


Jesus set aside his mother and his brothers for his disciples.  Now I am not going to set aside my sisters, my wife or my children, but lets celebrate for a moment, all of the people that we have come to know that really are our family.

I am thankful for our neighbors, my children's friends from college, and a gazillion friends from church, each of you have become a part of our family.  I celebrate you!!!

Who do you celebrate?

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

Sunday, April 17, 2011

wasting time

Early Methodists were encouraged not to waste time.  Time is short, time is God's blessing.  Don't waste it.  Methodist preachers when ordained are admonished not to trifle their time away.

In the old days this was interpreted as "do not play cards."  Do not engage in behavior that is just passing the time, but engage yourself in God's work.

I offer a new spin on it today....... are you worried?  Are you unhappy?  Are you stuck on some negative thought?  Are you angry?  Upset with someone else?  Do not waste your time in such endeavors.  Every minute that we spend being angry or unhappy about something is a minute that we are not celebrating God's love and sharing his love with others.  How sad that so many people spend so much time on the unhappies.  Those moments stolen from God's work can never be returned.

I am not against playing cards.  I am not against going to baseball games.  But I am against us using time for gossip and anger when we could be using that time loving one another and celebrating God's world.

Today is a new day.  Let's use all of our minutes for love.  We can only use them one time.

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

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Wednesday night I went home after Bible study and got to watching a movie that just tickled me.  You know that thing that happens to us from time to time where you just can't stop laughing, just can't stop grinning.

My Dad had a certain kind of laugh and I heard it coming out of me all night long.  I got to thinking about him and how he would get to laughing at the Honeymooners.  He always drank coke floats.  So, I went to the kitchen and made one.  I watched the movie, giggled and drank a coke float.

It was great.  Just pure joy.  An unbridled gift.  A surprise moment of enjoyment.  Thank you God.

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

Friday, April 15, 2011

it's a beautiful day

please take one minute to watch this video.  if it will not open when you click on it, cut and paste the link into your browser.
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Have you ever asked yourself how much of what you think, and how much of what you are, is a reaction to something else in your life?  Someone who had a bad experience with a dog as a child, is to this day, afraid of dogs.  Someone who lost a parent in a plane crash, can barely stand to board a flight. 

Someone who was raised in a church that "didn't believe anything" [as they experienced it] spends the rest of their life looking for a church that believes all of the  right things.  While someone who grew up in a very strict religious environment, dominated by rules and judgement, becomes infatuated later in life with love and grace.

I would like to think that love and grace are good for everyone, but you can't force feed someone who has clenched teeth.  You can lead a horse to water.......

What if we all just came to a place where we understood that we are all different, and it is ok.  Not everyone is going to see it like I do, or like you do.  That is ok.  We can still play on the same team.  We can still be brothers.  We don't have to hurt one another because we see the world a little differently.  What if, instead of what bothers us about someone else, God, and God's grace became the focus of our lives?

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

on being a Methodist

Several people ask about what it means to be a Methodist.  This can be a complicated question, because there are so many Methodists that you don't always get the same answer.  Also, since so many denominations are so defined by one particular thing, they expect the same sort of "one thing" from the Methodists, and this is harder to pin down.  God is mysterious and cannot be forced into a box.  I would expect that his followers should stop trying to do so.

Methodists are open.  There is no creed to sign on to.  We expect Methodists to believe in the essentials of faith, but everyone is welcome in our churches.  There is no litmus test that decides who is in and who is out.  Everyone is welcome, even non believers.  If we don't welcome them, where will they find Christ?

Some denominations are all about baptism or salvation.  Methodists believe that baptism is primarily about God's actions not ours.  Methodists are also not hung up on one method of baptism or another, as if God were going to catch you on a technicality.  {welcome to heaven.  Oh, you were baptized wrong.  Never mind, you must go to hell.}  Methodists believe that you are baptized into Christ.  We accept and honor all Christian baptism.  Methodists are for salvation, but we will not force it upon you or guilt you into it.  We want to give you the opportunity to choose Jesus in a way that honors your free will.

Methodist are big on grace and love.  That is because God is big on grace and love.  This is not to sugar coat the scriptures.  These concepts are the central themes of the Scriptures.  To make Christianity into a heavy, burdensome system of who the good ones are, and who the bad one's are is to pervert the gospel.  The gospel is good news.  Methodists are for love and grace because God is love.

Methodists historically are mission minded.  "No one is saved by good works, but no one will be saved without them" - John Wesley.  The Christian life is to be lived, not talked about.  We are here to give ourselves away in the name of Jesus.

So to sum it up.
Methodists = yes on welcome.  yes on inclusiveness.  yes on honest dialogue about faith.  yes on different ideas.  yes on grace.  no on human doctrinal spins that hurt and manipulate people.  Yes on love.  yes on missions.  Yes on Jesus.  Yes on God.  Love wins.

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Last Sunday I got to go to church.  You might say, well i thought that you got to go every week.  Well, when you are the pastor, you don't often just get to go to church. There is so much to worry about, so many things that drag your brain away. 

Sunday I got to go to church and just be a worshipper.  It was great.  I went to 815 at Grace UMC and heard Hubert Neth's sermon.  Then I stayed and listened at 915 at Grace UMC to Jeremy Vicker's message.  Finally I made the 1010 service, sat with my wife and heard Shawn's sermon.  Thank you to all three of those pastors for touching me.

I hope you never tire of being in God's house.  When you don't get to do it all of the time, you miss just being there.  I was glad when they said to me, let us go up to the house of the Lord.

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

Monday, April 11, 2011

the blue book

When I was in college, if there was an essay test, you would buy a "blue book" to use during the essay test.  A blue book cost a dime and was 8 or 10 pages of blank lined paper.  You wrote down the question when given by the professor, and then you wrote your answer.  As long or as short as it took, you wrote.  Your ideas filled blank pages.

Now, I heard from somebody the other day who does not agree with my definition of the Christian faith.  I am too "outward focused."  I am too interested in missions.  We bantered for a while.  I guess I just don't understand how you can have the Christian faith if you are not missional.

I also got to feeling that sometimes people like to pick at this sermon or another, but they do not have a competing idea to offer.  So, it can sound like, "I don't like your answers, but I have no other answers to give."

So I got to thinking about the blue book.  The clean slate.  The you get a chance to say whatever you want forum about what it means to be a Christian.  Here we go.  Take some time, sit down and write what you believe.  Here are my questions:

1.  what does it mean to be a Christ follower?
2.  What role does missions [giving one's self away] play in the Christian faith?
3.  what have you given up, what are you willing to give up to follow Jesus?

You have 30 minutes to answer those questions.  At the end of that time, please put your pencil down and bring your blue book up to my desk.  Be sure to write your name on the front of the blue book.

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

Sunday, April 10, 2011

you are not alone

Dear Friend,

I know that you have been hurting.  I am glad that you read something here that helped you.  I want you to know that you are not alone.  God sees you and he is reaching out to you with loving arms of support.  There are also many fine people around you that love you and stand to support you.

I am glad to sit down and visit with you.  To listen, to share a cup of coffee.  I am not too busy.  Let me know if I can help you.  You are loved.

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

Saturday, April 9, 2011

no problem

Someone once said, if I am upset with you, then something is wrong with me. [don't read through that and cruise on, savor that sentence.] That is pretty close to what Jesus said about loving your enemies.

In the final analysis, the solution to problems often lies neither in action nor in inaction but in understanding. For when there is true understanding, there is no problem.

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

Friday, April 8, 2011

the candy store

When the kids were little and we would take them to the grocery store, the bakery in the back corner would always give the kids a free cookie. I guess that they still do that.

A heard a story the other day that reminded me of that. Seems that a candy store owner would give a free piece of candy to kids. One per day. So all the neighborhood kids would make their way to the candy store each day for their free piece of candy. Inevitably, they would all fight and argue over whose was best. My green one is better than your yellow one. I have a red one! Mine is shaped like a moon. Well, mine is best because it is orange and it is shaped like a bird. It always happened that someone would chase it so long that another child would leave crying with hurt feelings.

The shopkeeper simply listened to all of their banter and smiled. He smiled because he realized that the kids were doing the same thing that many adults do. Comparing their stuff and insisting that we are better because our stuff is like this or that. How sad. And the real good part of life has nothing to do with candy or colors, or cars, or the size of your home.

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

Thursday, April 7, 2011

st. John

There is a story that is told regarding the apostle St. John, who is known as the apostle of love. If you are unsure why he is know as such, please read the books towards the end of the new testament, first, second and third John.

Anyway, there is a story told that St. John is surrounded by his disciples. They are asking him, "why do you always teach us about love? That is all you ever talk about." They said, "please master, teach us of something else."

His reply is worth considering. He told his disciples, "I cannot teach you of something else, for there is nothing else."

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I've heard it

Someone said, "I've heard it all before. I have been in church so long, that I have heard all of the stories about God and Jesus. Nothing is new to me anymore."

And to this I say, it is important to hear the stories over and over. We humans have short memories. And we humans can get very calloused very quickly. Over time, questions and doubts come in. It is important to listen to the stories at least as much if not more than we listen to our doubts. To hear the story again is to savor it, to welcome it, to let it speak to you yet once more.

Yes you may have heard it all, but is thy heart still open to the message? I pray ye my friends, incline thine ear, open thine heart and lets the words of old speak to you afresh in this day.

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Sometimes there is nothing that you can do. I can't control it, I can't fix it. I am not even on the playing field. I am not invited to the party. I am not in the circle that gets to speak to the thing.

All I can do is pray. But sometimes my praying seems to be an effort on my part to fix it or control it, and I realize that this is wrong, this is manipulative. I have not yet put the thing into God's hands. When I do put it in the hands of God, I trust him and I rest in him.

My praying becomes about being with him, not fixing the thing. There is nothing else that I can do but trust him. Thankfully, that is enough. So I must go on living and just understand that I can't fix everything and -

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

Monday, April 4, 2011

the kingdom

Religion makes people sad. Rules upon rules. Manipulation upon manipulation. You are in, they are out, they are in, you are out. Be good. Be better. What is wrong with you? God hates sin. You are not good enough. Try harder or you might go to hell.

The kingdom message on the other hand, makes people happy. The message of the kingdom falls upon the ears of humans with a joy that is truly splendid. "God loves you! Your sin is forgiven. Jesus has made the way. Live in gloom no more! Share the joy. Release your worries, cast your cares upon him. Live each moment in God's love."

This is the message of the kingdom. Which message are you listening to? It may have a bearing on how you are experiencing this life that God has given us.

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

Sunday, April 3, 2011

the homecoming

It is the day of homecoming. The entire household awaits her arrival. You see, when you are gone every week, but also dearly loved, everyone waits for your return.

Although they may have survived the week, stoically going about the business of life, let there be no mistake - It is with great anticipation that the family awaits for the sound of the garage door rising. Of course the humans know, but the dog as well, he always knows when it is Friday and mom is coming home. He is the first to greet her with 5 minutes of yipping and yapping and tail wagging joy. When his turn is over, the humans get their turn. A hug, a smile, and a settling in for a few days until she hits the road again on Monday.

Everyone should be so loved in their home that they are received with such joy every time they walk in the door. The world would be a better place if we appreciated each other a little more. The next time your family member or friend comes over, put everything else aside. Get up, greet them, welcome them, hug them. They are worth the celebration.

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

Saturday, April 2, 2011

magic or mysterious

Is your God magic or mysterious. Some people want a magic God. I say the prayers, and God fixes it. I learn the right things, and then I know the right things and have it all figured out. I just do the secret things, and then I am in the know, in the right, in the in. I have God in a box and it is all to my liking. But the problem with this is that God is not magic, nor can he be put in a box. God is mysterious. Bigger than us. Higher than us. Beyond our understanding, beyond our doctrine. Beyond our desires, beyond our preference. God loves us, and wants to be loved back. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and God is the creator of the universe. Do not expect to figure it all out. Stand in awe. God is God, with, or without our permission. Stand in awe of the mystery. It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, April 1, 2011


When you are grieving, you should not make any big decisions. So they say. Something happened. You are hurting. The world does not look the same. The world may never be the same for you. It may never go back to the way it was. Don't buy a house, sell a house, buy a car, or join the army. Don't give away your possessions, quit your friends, or join a convent. Give yourself some time to heal. Life is going to be different, from one time, one thing, to the next. Relax, rest, heal. God is with you. It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.