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.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

what do you let folks see?

How much of your real self do you allow folks to see?  Let's be honest, we all have our good points and bad.  Some folks like to pretend that they don't have a dark side, but all of us are sinners.

I think in life we have two choices.  One is to try to show the good and hide the bad.  The other is to just be honest about who we are and let your warts be seen.

My concern with the pretending life is that it just isn't realistic.  Folks that act like they have it all together only end up disappointing others and having to work harder to keep up the facade. 

What you see is what you get folks, I find refreshing.  At least you know what you are dealing with.  I think the key to real friendship is knowing who your friend really is and accepting them, warts and all.  Folks that have to pretend, well, their relationships end up looking like the real housewives of some town.

Are you comfortable enough with yourself to let folks see you?  Do you trust God to love you even though you are not perfect?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.  And if you see some warts, just understand that they are all a part of our story.  God loves us and it is still good.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

how we live

I was reflecting the other day on some of the things that Steve Jobs had said in the last few years of his life.

I was struck with the thought that most people get up and live, and don't think that hard about what they are doing or why.  I think that most people do what they have to do and don't spend a lot of time thinking about it.  These are the folks of whom Socrates said, "the unexamined life is not worth living."

Well, then we start thinking.  We think about what we know, what we value, and what we want to do.  All of that is good.  But in thinking about what Jobs was saying and living out, I thought about all of the people that have invested in me, in you, in us.

Are we capitalizing on what they have given us?  What would happen if we got up every day and tried to remember the thoughts, care and other investments that so many have given to us.  Now, I am not simply running on auto pilot, I am thinking hard about what my father has given to me, what my boss has given to me and what other great people around me have tried to teach me.  I am not simply thinking as I think, but I am consciously remembering what others have given to me and I realize that I am carrying many gifts from others with me.

Somehow, with this thought, I feel brighter, calmer, even rich.  May I make my father, my boss and everyone else that has invested in me, proud.

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