Wednesday, August 31, 2011


You may have heard that the church has made some budget reductions.  That is true.  Whatever you call them, reductions, cost saving measures, constrictions, they are difficult.  They are most difficult for the people that are caught up in reductions. 

For several reasons, your church has taken steps to reduce its expenses.  This has resulted in some changes to the budget and the elimination of a few staff positions.  Please know that the departure of staff is very painful.  We have a wonderful staff and they have done a wonderful job for the church.

Let me explain why this has taken place.  There are three reasons.  The first is the economy.  Everyone understands that the economy has affected almost every aspect of our lives.  We hear that Sprint or Ford are laying off and we seem to understand.  It is more difficult when it is our church. 

The second reason that we needed to make changes to our budget is because of our building campaign.  Significant monies that would likely have been given to the general fund in the walk to the manger last December, have instead gone into the building fund.  The other thing that happens in capital campaigns is that you explain to your folks that capital giving is over and above.  But there are still many who simply take what they gave to the general fund last year and give half of that to the building campaign.  That can place considerable pressure on the general fund.

The third reason that we have amended our budget is because of the rise in our conference apportionments over the last five years.  Because of some changes in the way that apportionments are calculated, ours have gone up by $30,000 per year for the last 5 years.  That is an increase of $150,000 hard dollars to the budget that we have worked to absorb.  Our apportionments were artificially low because we grew so fast.  When we moved into the building in 1999 our apportionments were 25,000.  Today they are $230,000. 

The fact of the matter is that we were staffed successfully for a church in a thriving economy with apportionments of $60,000.  In order to operate in our new reality, some changes needed to be made.

We could have done nothing, and just waited until there was a disaster.  [I have seen churches do that.] Then I could get up in the pulpit every week and ask for more money.  We did not want to do that.  That is not good leadership.  The budget team, the staff parish team and lead staff chose to act proactively to manage these issues and keep us in a position where we can lead the church as you would expect.

I thank you for your faithful support of your church.  If you have any questions, please call or email me.

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Sunday night at the all church conference, the building addition was unanimously approved.  I want to thank all of you for your hard work.  Thank you for giving to this project so that it can be built debt free.  Thank you for believing in our future.

I  know that there are some that are not sure about this building.  That is ok.  We all don't have to agree, and we are still family.  I love you all.  What I have been trying to do with this addition is put us in a position where we can reach the next 200-300 people.

The raising of needed funds is never easy.  Thank you for bearing up under this process.  From here on out, we are looking at the good parts.  Tractors on the property are exciting.  Soon we will be inviting others to join us in our new space.  Thank you for believing in your church.

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

Monday, August 29, 2011

back or feet

My Dad used to say, "never hurt your back or your feet."  You can hurt your arm and function.  You can hurt your knee and function.  But when you hurt your feet, you are immobile.  When you hurt your back, you are..... well, you are like me right now.  I feel like the Pillsbury dough boy.  I am just kind of rolling around waiting to feel better.

The older I get and the bigger I get, the easier it is to hurt my back.  And so I do my exercises and take celebrex.  I also keep trying to do the things that I did ten years ago.  Maybe if I stopped trying I would stop hurting my back.  But I am not ready to give up on life yet.

If I am grumpy, please understand.  And do not tell me that I look like the Pillsbury dough boy. I will feel better soon.

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

Sunday, August 28, 2011

saying goodbye

It is never easy to say goodbye.  It is hard on adults.  It is really hard on kids.  Thursday night, a fine young man, Nick Lee was killed in a car wreck.  Nick was a friend of my 22 year old daughter Jenny, and a friend to all of her friends.  Nick worked for the church for many years in our We Care program.  He will be missed.  He will be grieved.

Losing a friend is hard, but you are not prepared for it all when you are 22. 

Please join me in praying for Nick's family and his friends.

I am thankful for the comfort that we get from our savior who reminds us that death is not the end.

A tough day, but still a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

on my day off

Friday is supposed to be my day off.  Sometimes that works well and sometimes it doesn't.  Just recently a famous preacher told everyone what he did on his day off, so I think I will give it a try as well.

7am - up and at it.  shower.
730 coffee and blog
800-10am church meeting
10am-12 purchase rock for flowerbed in back yard
noon - lunch
1230 - 330 working on flower bed
330-430 visit with wife who arrives home from her trip
430-6 shower.  work on sermon
6-9 dinner and hanging out with wife
9-1030 hanging out with kids
1030 - night time.

[I typed that up early in the day.  It is what i was hoping would happen.  Here is what actually happened.]

7am up and shower.
730 - coffee and blog
8-1030 church meeting
1030-12 noon pick up rock for flowerbed in back yard and install
12-1 lunch with church member who called to visit.
1pm picked up some supplies and worked in the yard.
4pm - took a nap.  yeah!
my wife's plane is delayed.  she wont be home until midnight. yikes!
430-6pm work on sermon.
eat dinner
the kids i thought I might hang out with have ditched me.
listen to music.
go to bed.

Not nearly as exciting of a day as my famous counterpart, but each life is beautiful in it's own way.

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

Friday, August 26, 2011

some things

There are some things that are hard to fix.  They tend to be classified as the hard things of life.  You see it coming, you feel the fear.  You step into it [because you can't hide your head in the sand.]  You do the best that you can.  Some will be happy, some will not.  Some will understand, some will not.  Still you must do what you know, to the best of your knowledge, is the best thing.

When we were kids, the sky was mostly blue and the sun was mostly shining.  No shirt, no shoes, no problems.  When we became adults, we had to face adult problems.  The challenges of adulthood are mandatory.  Facing them is optional.  We can either be mad and complain because things are not going our way, or we can step in and do everything we can to navigate the pitfalls of the real world.  And in case you haven't noticed, the real world has gotten a little bit more real in the last two years.

So we trust God and go to Him in prayer.  We lean on our friends.  And we wish.  We wish we were still 11 years old, sitting at our parents table.  We wish that life was free and easy.  We wish that we did not have to deal with adult problems.

But you know, there is a joy, a freedom, when we do face life.  There is a richness and a savoring that only comes from stepping into the batters box, even when we are facing the toughest pitcher in the league.  God is good, and life is good, and as we rest in Him, it will all work out.

Pray as is everything depends on God.  Work as if everything depends on you.

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

Thursday, August 25, 2011

over 30

When I was a young man, the hippies said, never trust a person over 30.  I remember thinking that 30 was or would be pretty old.

Then 30 arrives.  You are gaining some life experience, you still have all of your strength.  You still look good.  30 is ok.  Looking back on it now, 30 is great.

Somewhere after 30 you start to understand that you are becoming the establishment.  What you have created in the world as an outflow of your youthful dreams, has finally become the establishment that the next generation seeks to set aside.  And time marches on.

I want my kids to understand that I was once young.  I was once a visionary.  I also challenged my parent's world view.  I matter.  And so do they.  And so do their 75 year old grandparents.  Each generation is different, they all have their own gifts to give to life.  We can and should learn from each other, and care for one another.

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

first world problems

First world, second world, third world.  We are most acquainted with the notion of the "third world."  What is the first and second world?

The first world designation refers to the United States and its allies, all highly modern, developed, free countries.  The second world used to refer to our opponents in the cold war, the Soviet Union and its allies of communist countries, all trying to catch up to us in some way or another.

The third world was every other country after that.  Little places around the globe where there was little development and massive human problems.

So what is a first world problem?  A first world problem is anything that annoys us, that the rest of the world would either laugh at or not understand at all.  here are some examples:

"I had to wait 15 minutes to get my Starbucks" first world problem [the rest of the world doesn't have Starbucks]
"gas is $3.40 per gallon" first world problem [the rest of the world pays $6/gallon]
"my daughters car has another problem!" first world problem [most daughters around the world, don't have cars]
"my flight was delayed" first world problem "most of the world will never fly on a plane"
"my mom died at 62" [my mom really did by the way] first world problem [the average life span in Mozambique is 42]
My air conditioning is out.  first world problem.  no explanation needed.

God is a global citizen.  He stands with every human being, every human being, every human being.  Isaiah 66:1 "Heaven is his throne, the earth is his footstool."  Do we live as if every person in the world is our brother and sister?  Isn't it easy to get caught up in our problems, that really are, in the long run, very trivial by world standards?  When I remember this, I get a little bit less worked up when I get a flat tire on my car.

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Westboro Baptist "church"

I join each of you that are flabbergasted and disgusted by the actions of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist "church."  Recently a funeral for one of the Navy Seals that was killed in Afghanistan was held at the Church of the resurrection in Leawood.

Adam Hamilton sent out a message and encouraged everyone to ignore the protesters. As always, I found his thoughts to be very helpful.  His message stated the following, "On Wednesday morning The Church of the Resurrection is hosting the funeral for Matt Mason, one of the Navy Seals who died in Afghanistan last week. Several of Matt and Jessica's friends are member of our church and we are honored to serve the family and to make our building, volunteers and staff available to care for them. I will be assisting with the service but the Mason's pastor from San Diego will preach.

We understand that the Topeka "church" that seems to specialize in spreading hurt and hate plans to protest from 135th Street. We've discussed a variety of options for addressing these protesters but in the end we believe that the best approach is to ignore them. They come seeking publicity and attention. We'd rather not give it to them. I'm hoping the media, too, might simply ignore them. They are a very small group that shows up at funerals because it gets them noticed. I wonder how long they would do this if no one paid them any attention.

I am told there are some planning to counter-protest. I would discourage you from participating - it only makes for a bigger media event. The Patriot Guard Riders will be here ensuring the family doesn't see the protester's signs.

Please pray for the Masons and pray for the protesters as Jesus called us to do. Ultimately I think Paul offers us the best response to those who do evil in Romans 12:17-21:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' No, 'if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

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

Monday, August 22, 2011

a visit

Yesterday was a bonus day. I saw a friend I hadn't seen for some time. Maybe you saw him wandering around the church, too. Friendly guy, easy going. I can't remember a time being around him that I didn't laugh. Not that he is always telling jokes...he just enjoys the lighter side of life and people...he has a way of keeping things in perspective. So we talked a little and caught up some and then others came up to visit with him. When he left a friend and I started to talk about him...not gossip, but the good stuff, the stuff we miss because he is not living here anymore. I hope he knows that about himself. What a great way to be thought of... to be remembered.

Anyway it makes me think about what kind of impression I leave with people. How about you?

Lion's Den Man

Sunday, August 21, 2011

out of nowhere

that is where it came from.........out of nowhere. At least nowhere I could see. I was blind to things because I had a limited view. A limited understanding. What I thought about this person, what they were about was not true. I guess because I only knew a little and not the whole story... the whole person. What they did behind the scenes. What they cared about and who they cared for....I had only seen one piece of them. We are all so different so unique and created that way, I do know that much, but I put that knowledge aside because I let the situation take hold of me. So out of nowhere this person came to help. They did something without thinking. They showed compassion and understanding. It blew me away. As Jeff stated yesterday " everyone deserves the benefit of our not knowing. We owe it to them to reserve judgment." So a lesson learned and hopefully not forgotten. You just never know, do you.

Lion's Den Man

Saturday, August 20, 2011


The benefit of the doubt.  That means, that when you hear something about someone, instead of judging them, you realize that you don't know everything that might be going on.  You give them the benefit of your doubt.  You pray for them, you understand them, you wait to hear the other side. 

This is easier to do with people that we care about.  We love them.  There must be more to the story.  It is harder to do with folks that we don't know, or folks that we know and don't like.  But, everyone deserves the benefit of our not knowing.  We owe it to them to reserve judgment.  Pray for them and give them the same grace that we want for ourselves.

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

Friday, August 19, 2011


Fear is a powerful emotion.  About the time that you think it is gone, it sneaks up on you again.  I have been afraid of just about everything at one time or another.  Fear of failure, fear of illness, fear of the future, fear of my past, fear-worry for my children, about bills, about friendships, about what someone thinks.  On and on it goes, it just never stops.

On the topic of fear, I have found some comfort in 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

Fear is not in God arsenal.  It is a human entity.  God wants to remove our worry, our buying of trouble.  He wants us to stop imagining what might be.  In fact, we rob our selves of the joy of this day when we only worry about tomorrow.  God wants to replace our fear with trust and with love.

May he be big enough in each of our lives so that can rest in him.  Let us trust in Jesus who said, come unto me all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.

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

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I love bicycles.  My first job was at a bicycle shop.  I came into possession of a bike about a month ago that I really like.  When I got it, the tires were flat and the bike was filthy, but I worked on it, and resurrected it.  The other day we went for our first ride.

My son has disassembled our air compressor, so I am unable to fill the tires with air.  They are a little low, but I decide to make a go of it.

Up the driveway, up the hill.  Turn right.  Along the flat, turn left, past the pool to the top of the hill.  I am already winded, and my calves are burning.  I am in terrible shape.  Right turn onto the Northgate loop.  Up and down.  I don't remember there being hills here, but on a bicycle, you feel every one.  Coasting now towards the clubhouse, I see four people hitting balls on the driving range.

Swoosh.  Bash.  Ouch.  What is that.  One of the players has sliced a ball and it took one hop on the street and hit me in the chest.  No one even said fore.  I wanted to say something back, but I restrained myself.

Up around the bend.  Past the little park.  Past Ash Grove.  Down the hill into farmville.  I am riding on Maybrook road.  Across the wooden bridge.  I am feeling pretty good.  Misty Meadow.  Behind the school.  Anderson, Emerald and now the big hill.  Maybe the biggest hill around.  I am determined to make it all the way up to the top.

I am tired.  My tires are almost flat.  I am 54 years old.  Then disaster.  I can't get the bike to shift into the low gear on the front sprocket.  I make it most of the way.  Then I have to stop.  I walk to the top.  It was the right thing to do.

My legs are wobbly.  I coast the rest of the way home.  My wife laughs at me.  What is that about?  Tomorrow, if I can walk, I am going to try it again.  If any golfer tells you a story about hitting an old guy on a bicycle, I would like to have their name.

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

option 4

In a post a bit back I asked that you think of the three things that you consider the most important in life.  Someone posted a comment that they wanted to add a 4th option for the thing that you don't know about yet.

This is a good call and a very important point in terms of understanding how we think.  In any given situation, we can usually come up with some alternatives.  Option A, B, C, and D.  We should always list an option E which is "something that we have not thought of yet."  It is a sign of maturity to know that we don't know it all, and that our brains are not going to think of everything.

This is the joy of discussing things with people and friends.  Sometimes they have an Option 4 or an option E.  Something that you had not thought of, but may just hit the mark.

Quoting Shakespeare, As my mother used to say to me when I was young, "there is more Horatio than is dreamt of in your philosophy."

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

one time

There is the quote from the movie little giants.  The team is getting crushed.  It is half time and the coach is giving them a pep talk about getting up when you are getting crushed.  One of the kids wants to be on the injured list.  Here it is:

Danny O'Shea: [When the Giants, losing at the half, want to be put on the injured list] You know, there is something you guys should know... when I was 10 years old, I put myself on the injured list. I never got off.
Timmy Moore: Why?
Danny O'Shea: Cause I didn't get picked a few times, so I started hiding under the bleachers.
Marcus: That's where we belong, under the bleachers.
Danny O'Shea: No you don't. You guys belong out there with those Cowboys. You know how I know that? Because I belong out there with my brother.
Rudy Zolteck: Give us a break, coach. You could never beat Kevin O'Shea at *anything*!
Danny O'Shea: That's not true. I did beat him once.
Jake Berman: When?
Danny O'Shea: When we were kids. We used to race our bikes down Cherry Hill every day after school. We raced every day and he always beat me, but one time, one time... I beat him.
Jake Berman: You beat Kevin down Cherry Hill?
Danny O'Shea: Yes, I did. He ate my dust.
Johnny Vennaro: Big deal. One time.
Tad: You know, one time at Randy Cooper's swim party, I did a backflip off the high dive, and my brother chickened out.
Marcus: Roger chickened out? He's a Marine!
Rudy Zolteck: Ah, that's nothing! One time at the spring carnival, I beat both of my brothers in the Cow Dung Toss.
Tad: You beat Matt and Brett in the cow pie toss?
Jake Berman: You know, one time I went fishing with my entire family, and I was the only one that didn't throw up.
Marcus: So, what? It still doesn't make us good football players.
Danny O'Shea: Well, wait a second, guys. Who said you had to be good to play football? You play football because you want to. You play football because it's fun. You play football so you could pretend you're Joe Montana throwing a touchdown pass, or Emmitt Smith going for a long run. And even if those Cowboys are better than you guys, even if they beat you 99 times out of 100, that still leaves...
Tad: One time.
Rudy Zolteck: One time.
Junior Floyd: [Smiles] Yeah... one time!

So, I am not a very good athlete, but occasionally I get my "one time." Last week I beat a professional athlete in a game of pool.  I was as surprised as he was. 

I think God gives us those "one time" moments every now and then.  They help us so much.  Keep getting back up.  Never give up.  You just don't know when your "one time" will be.

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

Monday, August 15, 2011


A few thoughts from the book, "Common Sense for Community Change" by Julie Battle.  I found them helpful.

“Here’s another heads up about thinking. If you are trying to change the way things are done in your community, you are going to go against popular thinking. People may look at you like you have lost it. (You haven’t – you found it.) The radical truth is this – popular thinking is often not only wrong, it’s also restrictive. To challenge popular thinking you must be willing to go outside the norm, But here’s the upside – unpopular thinking is visionary. It cracks open opportunity. And it is a requirement for progress.”

“The reason you are doing this work is because you can’t not do it. When any big change takes place, there are always at least a half dozen people who drive it. They are a force of nature, a small but mighty army. They see the possibilities in every situation – even the negative ones.”

“People have their own agendas. Others get self absorbed. You know it isn’t about personal glory, it’s about achieving the vision.”

 “Nothing exceptional was ever accomplished because people folded at the first sign of fear.”

“Even the most confident people will tell they were uneasy and they had their doubts, but they pushed through it. They gathered the facts, surrounded themselves with good people, anticipated the naysayers and stayed the course.”

 “The difficulty lies not so much  in developing new ideas as in escaping from the old ones.” John Maynerd Keynes

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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

the resurrection

I have a friend that I dearly love who is not sure about the resurrection.  I understand, this is not a normal happening in our lives.  People don't usually die and then come back to life.

However, I am trying to get my mind around the Christian faith without a resurrection.  I have to tell you, I can't do it.  I can't conceive of any way that the faith makes any sense to me without Jesus' resurrection.

If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, there is no way that the disciples would have given their lives for this cause.  There is no way that the early Christians would have put up with the persecution that they faced if they knew Jesus did not rise.  Who makes such sacrifices for something that they know is a lie?  No one does. 

There is only one explanation for the behavior of the early disciples. Only one explanation for their willingness to suffer and die for this faith.

Jesus rose from the dead.

It doesn't make sense and it is not our normal human life experience, but God doesn't live by our rules. 

It is a beautiful day in God's world, and Jesus rose from the grave.  Be sure to see the good.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe 1749-1832, philosopher, scientist, pretty sure a non-believer, none the less penned these words:

I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized.-

With God's help, we know what our choices will be.

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

Friday, August 12, 2011

Your paradigm

Paradigm- the way you see the world.  the systems and organization of ideas and beliefs that a person has that allows them to make sense of the world.  [my definition]

Someone asked me why I was pushing on their paradigm.  Why was there pastor pushing on their belief system?  The answer is simple.  I want you to know the God that is beyond your paradigm.

Any human belief system by nature is going to limit God.  But God cannot be contained in our paradigms or systems.  To the degree that we hold fast to our paradigms, we attempt to condense God into our brain power.  To the degree that we allow our paradigms to be opened, we begin to consider the greatness of God.  As we open our paradigm, we see that the Creator is greater than our inklings of Him.  We see that he is awesome and amazing.

Toward the end of the book of Job, Job is tired of not getting his fair shake in life.  He cuts into God and begins to ask why.  God answers him in chapters 38-40.  Here is how it starts:

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—

The next few chapters of Job contain some of the most humbling challenges to the human paradigm.  God reminds Job and anyone else who reads 38-40, that God is God and he lives quite comfortably outside of, beyond our human paradigms or notions of him.

So, I know that it is painful when your pastor challenges your life paradigms, but it is the only way for us to come to know the God that lives beyond them.  I want you to know the God that causes us to worship as we consider His mystery.  I want you to know the God who is amazing and fantastic and awesome and indescribable.

I hope that helps.

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

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Someday, your parents will be gone.  You will wake up in the morning and have the urge to call them, and realize in that moment that you are alone.  It takes some time to adjust to those feelings, but in time you do.

Hopefully, your parents gave you enough support and direction so that you are prepared to some degree for life in the big world.  We all grow older, we have no choice.  Some of the passages that we face in this life are painful, but with prayer and time, and friends, we adjust.  Many have done it, and each of us can transition too.  It is what our parents would want.

So, if you miss your folks, lean on a friend.  Give your feelings time.  Call your pastor for a cup of coffee.

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


A few days ago I got on a plane in San Francisco and flew home.  The trip that it took pioneers months to make, I flew half way across the country in a matter of hours. 
One of the great gifts of our country is the gift of mobility.  To be able to cross state lines without being hassled by police.  To be able to travel in and out of the country to visit places or go on mission trips.  These are some of the gifts of a free society. 

Then there is the benefit of modern methods of travel.  To drive.  To fly.  Gosh, it is possible that in the near future, regular people may engage in space travel.  It is hard to imagine.

So much has changed in my life time.  When I was a kid, our cars were worn out piles of junk by 100,000 miles.  Most of our cars were worn out when we got them.  The furthest we went when I was little, was St. Louis, and we drove on 40 highway through every little town, because I-70 did not exist then.  No seat belts, no air conditioner, no cup holders.  AM radio.

Those were the days.  Mobility.  It is the gift of a free society. 

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

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

3 things

If someone asked you what were the three smartest things that you knew, what would be your answer?  What would be your list?

A great theologian was asked upon his deathbed, what is the greatest truth that you know?  He answered, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

What would your list look like?  Can you narrow it down to three?

How is this-
1.  Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so
2.  People are more important than ideas.
3.  Love covers a multitude of sins.

What does your list look like?  What are the three smarted things that you know?

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

Monday, August 8, 2011

a few words from Wesley

During a time of particular suffering and duress, a friend shared the following quote with me.  I believe it provides a good perspective and good advice for all.

"Some may say, however, that I have misunderstood the way myself, although I presume to teach it to others. It is likely that many people will think this way and it is quite possible that I may have misunderstood at some points. I trust, though, that where I am in the wrong, my mind is open to being changed. I sincerely desire to be better informed. I say to God and others, “What I do not know, teach me.”

Are you convinced that you see more clearly than I do? It is not improbable that you may. If so, treat me as you would want to be treated yourself under the same circumstances. Lead me to a better way than I have yet known. Show me my mistake by plain proof of Scripture. And if I delay on the path I have been accustomed to taking and if I seem unwilling to leave it, work with me. Take me by the hand and lead me as I am able to accept it. Do not be angry if I beg you not to beat me down in order to quicken my pace. I can move forward only feebly and slowly at best. If you belittle me, I might not be able to move forward at all. Also, may I ask you not to call me cruel names in order to bring me into the right way? Suppose I was ever so much in the wrong, I doubt that scolding would set me straight. Rather, it would make me run so much the farther from you. In that case, I would move out of the path of truth still more and more.

Indeed, if you are angry I will become angry also, and then there would be little hope of my finding the truth. Once anger arises (“like a puff of smoke,” as Homer somewhere expressed it), the smoke will so cloud the eyes of my soul that I will not be able to see anything clearly. For God’s sake, if it is possible to avoid it, let us not provoke one another to anger.  Let us not ignite this fire of hell in each other, much less fan it into a flame. If we could discern truth by the dreadful light of anger’s fires, would it not be a loss instead of a gain? Even with many wrong opinions, how much more is love to be preferred before truth without love? We may die without the knowledge of many truths and yet be carried into Abraham’s bosom. But if we die without love, what good would knowledge be to us? It would do us no more good than it does for the devil and his angels!

May the God of love keep us from anger. May he prepare us for the knowledge of all truth, by filling our hearts with the fullness of his love and with all joy and peace in believing." 
 John Wesley 1746.

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

Sunday, August 7, 2011

you will be grieved

I think I was watching the original Superman movie.  Superman's earthly father had died.  At his funeral, Superman [a teenager at the time] said of his father, "you will be grieved."

A few years before my father died, we were talking and I told him that story.  I told him that he would be grieved.  He said it was the nicest thing that anyone could say about him.  Thank you, he said.

I still miss my Dad.  Does that ever end?  One time he told me that he still missed his parents and he was 70 years old! 

There is something about your parents.  They have such an impact on you.  They mark you.  You can't get them out of your head.  They were happy, and you were marked.  They were sad, and you were marked.

It makes me want to work harder to be a good parent.  It makes me want to reach out to my kids and let them know how very much they are loved.

Alli, will you grieve your old man when he is gone?

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

Saturday, August 6, 2011

that song

That song.  That song is stuck in my head again.  Arugh!!!!  Where did it come from?   When did I hear it?  How can I get it out of my head?

Sometimes they are good songs, sometimes they are bad.  If I like the song, I am ok with it being stuck in my head for a while.  But even good songs, get old.  Then, I have to get them out.  Out.  Out.  Out of my head.

I have a secret to do so.  I turn on the radio or MP3 player and listen to some music.  I write over the song that is stuck in my head by putting a new song in it's place.  Tricky move.  The problem is, one of these might get stuck in my head as well.

The same thing happens with ideas and thoughts.  When I find myself stuck on some thought, some idea, some something that is bothersome, after a while I have to help it move on.  So I find something else to think on and I keep doing it.  I find a positive thing to focus on, and I think of it.  OI think of all of the goodness and all of the joy.  And so I keep the old songs and the negative thoughts at bay.

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

Friday, August 5, 2011

tipping part two

Someone left a comment on my post from July 29th.

Here is their comment:

Wow,although I do agree in leaving a tip when deserved, but leaving a scripture or tract is an eternal tip. Some servers may not see it that way, but you never know when there is someone that needs that note or truth from God's Word. He is the one who blesses. We are to allow Him to work through us and bless others.

While I agree with caring for them and being kind, it can be done in many ways. Rather than encourage friends to leave a tip, we should encourage each other to pray for what God would want them to do in that moment. Leave a tip? Or leave a tract? Or leave both?

Here is my response. 
I am glad that we can talk to each other anonymously, and banter on this blog.  Because I need to speak frankly.   I am certain that you have never been a server.  If you had, then you would know that these people do not make any money unless you tip them.  They are counting on your tip to pay their bills.  A tip for normal serviced should be 15%.  20% if the service was good.  If the service was really bad for some reason, I might leave less, but it would have to be awful, and be the servers fault.

Leave a tract?  Is that the best we have for a witness?  The server that you leave the tract for will never want to see you again.  If your church's name is on the tract, they will hate your church. They won't feel loved, they will feel belittled.  There may be a place for tracts, but it is not when we go out to eat.  Frankly, anyone that doesn't want to leave a tip should not be going to restaurants.  Eat at McDonald's.  Their employees at least make minimum wage.

There are several servers in the area that have become a part of our church.  None of them because we left a tract.  All of them because we were kind to them, and generous to them.  Our actions showed our love for them by being friendly and tipping them.

How would you feel if your pay was based on a tip, and the person that you just helped, left you nothing?  Please tip the servers or don't go out to eat.  Figure it in, in advace, as part of the cost.  It's that simple.  Render to Cesar the things that are Cesar's and render to God the things that are God's. In our culture, servers are to be tipped.  There is no praying about leaving a tip.  What God would tell us not to tip a server in this culture?  Leave the tip.   It's simply the right thing to do.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, please help a server to see the good.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

the woods

Imagine that you are walking in the woods.  Deeper and deeper you go.  The trees are so thick that the sun barely flickers through the canopy.  Close your eyes.  Imagine that you are there. 

You realize that you are lost.  You have no idea which direction to go.  And then there are those noises.  You hear them just beyond your sight.  Raccoons?  Deer?  Mountain Lions?

This goes on for hours.  You are terrified.  You can feel your heart beating.  The sound of your breathing is adding to your tension.  You don't know what to do.  You are totally vulnerable.

Then you hear it.  A noise for sure. 
Louder than the background noise. 
Something is there for sure.
You strain to see.
Your heart is racing.
Your bladder in on point.
Every muscle in your body is tense.

Then you see it.
An arm.  Then a leg.
It is a person.
Then to your surprise, it is someone that you know.
It is your worst enemy.  Your mortal enemy.

At first you feel a sense of loathing.  But then, you see the look on their face.  They are lost in the woods too.  They are petrified.  They have been crying.  They are glad to see you.  And the moment that you see them in their vulnerability, you are glad to see them too. 

The woods takes back over.  You are both terrified.  Clouds cover the sky.  The same noises return.  But  now, it all feels a little different, because I am not alone.  My enemy has become my travelling partner.  All of the worries and drama that separated us in life, are now completely meaningless.

We wander together for hours.  We talk about life.  Our families.  Our hopes. 

Finally we come upon a well worn path and follow it.  Each releases a sign of relief.  Soon we are back in familiar territory.  The incident is over.  I am no longer lost in the woods.  But, something else has changed too.  Along the journey I have lost an enemy, because we walked in this life, side by side, through the darkness.

The past was released.  Our vulnerability brought us together.  It will never be the same when we meet.

Is there someone that you need to get lost in the woods with?  See them as a person.  They are trying to make their way in a very dense forest too.

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

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

the void

I was reading an author who spoke of the void that exists inside each of us.  He is referring to the fact that if we are really honest with ourselves, we come to the end of ourselves.  We realize and have to admit that we don't have it figured out, we don't have the answers, we stand in this life as travellers on a mysterious journey.

The problem with most folks is that they never acknowledge the void.  They never admit it is there.  Pretending to know it all, they press on with life, hiding from the truth that we are all broken beyond repair.  Others, know that the void is there and allow it to depress them, but never quite know how to deal with it.

What if we faced the void?  What if we found a quiet place and honestly told God that we are broken.  We don't get it.  We are lost in a world that is beyond our control? 

You see, that is the moment that we can begin to depend on him.  When we totally come to the end of ourselves.  Our ideas, our theologies, our bullet points.  When we realize that without him we are nothing, then the door begins to open to an authentic relationship with God.  The wounds of the mystery are salved in the joy of embracing the master. 

We are nothing without him.  We are everything with him.

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

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

wise words

I was exchanging email s with my friend Bill C who is in Paraguay. He shared with me this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Bonhoeffer had been in prison for a long time towards the end of WWII. Two weeks before Hitler killed himself and the war ended Hitler ordered Bonhoeffer hanged.
These are Bonhoeffer's words on death while in London before the war:

"No one has yet believed in God and the kingdom of God, no one has yet heard about the realm of the resurrected, and not been homesick from that hour, waiting and looking forward joyfully to being released from bodily existence.

Whether we are young or old makes no difference. What are twenty of thirty or fifty years in the sight of God? And which of us knows how near he or she may already be to the goal? That life only really begins when it ends here on earth, that all that is here is only the prologue before the curtain goes up--that is for young and old alike to think about. Why are are we so afraid when we think about death? .... Death is only dreadful for those who live in dread and fear of it. Death is not wild and terrible, if only we can be still and hold fast to God's Word. Death is not bitter, if we have not become bitter ourselves. Death is grace, the greatest gift of grace that God gives to people who believe in him. Death is mild, death is sweet and gentile; it beckons to us with heavenly power, if only we realize that it is the gateway to our homeland, the tabernacle of joy, the everlasting kingdom of peace.

How do we know that dying is so dreadful? Who knows whether, in our human fear and anguish we are only shivering and shuddering at the most glorious, heavenly, blessed event in the world?

Death is hell and night and cold, if it is not transformed by our faith. But that is just what is so marvelous, that we can transform death." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1933

I chased this a bit in a sermon on Sunday. The time of our lives when we will know the most about God is the moment of our death. For in that moment, we cross over the river. The veil is lifted. That which has been know in part, become completely known.

May we all live each day with greater joy because we see that there is nothing to fear. Today, tomorrow, next week, next year. When ever we go, we go to be with our Lord.

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

Monday, August 1, 2011


I had a professor in seminary, Bob Tuttle.  A brilliant guy who was also so very down to earth and relevant.  He was very popular as a teacher because he helped everyone understand that the Christian faith was accessible to normal people.  He had a knack  of helping you know that God loves you and accepts you just the way that you are.

I thought of him last week because of something he used to say.  He would be referring to someone that he had a great deal of respect for, and he would say that the person "had forgotten more about God than I will ever know."  The point Tuttle was making was that there are some people that are so deep.  Deep in the very best of ways.  People that we want to honor and stand in great appreciation of.  And I also think about all of the things that we forget.  All of us.

forgetting.  I think sometimes that the older we get, the more we tend to forget things that we used to know.  It is sad in a way, because sometimes I think we lose touch with some really valuable things that are in our minds, but just beyond our ability to retrieve them.  But I guess it also keeps us wanting to learn.  At least, I hope it keeps us wanting to read and learn.  To fill our brains back up and regather the things that we have forgotten.

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