Saturday, March 31, 2012

faith and belief

Belief is a collection of ideas that we have about God.  Our system.  Our box.  Belief gives us security.  We know how it is.  We can explain it to someone.  I understand life, because I have the right beliefs.

Faith is a little different.  Faith is trusting in God, even when you don’t understand everything that is going on in the world.  Faith is trusting in God when you finally realize that you don’t have all the answers.  True faith can make us insecure, and that is the whole point.  Life is not to be lived out of a blind belief in the God of the box, but is meant to be experienced.  The joy of learning to love a God who cannot be contained by me.  The exhilaration of embracing the mystery of the Divine Holy Father.  Faith is pretty cool.

You don’t have to give up your beliefs to have faith, you just have to be ready to understand that they are just the starting place, the beginning.  God’s ways are higher than ours, his thoughts are greater than ours.

Welcome to faith.  Welcome to the mystery.

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

Friday, March 30, 2012

our ideas

You came by them innocently enough.  You learned them from your parents, you learned them from your teachers, you learned them from your pastor.  You came to believe your ideas about God, Jesus, salvation and the world.  You arranged them in your head so they made sense to you.  Maybe you adopted someone else’s system lock stock and barrel, and never really did any thinking for yourself.

Now you are an adult and you are running into people that are different than you.  Some of them are very different from you.  They have collected ideas about life and lined them out in a way that is threatening to your world view.

Commonly we might think, “let’s kill the heretics,” or we might say that they were going to hell.  Do you see this?  They have some ideas that are different than ours, so we are going to become judge, jury and executioner.

Was Jesus afraid of different ideas?  Was Paul?  Did they throw away every person that did not agree with them? 

One of the first signs that we are growing up is that we are no longer afraid of learning about different ideas.  Imagine a world where communists were no longer afraid of capitalists.  Where Christians were no longer afraid of Jews or Buddhists.  Where K-State fans were no longer afraid of KU fans.

Imagine a world where we walked into a group of people and just felt at home.  No fear.  No worry.  Simply because we decided that we would no longer be threatened by people that thought differently than we did.  Think of what we might learn from people whose idea box is not like ours. 

The end result of this is that our God gets bigger.  We learn about people that he loves and created that have a different way of looking at things.  And its ok.  God gets bigger.  We let him out of our box.  Except he was never bound by our box in the first place was he?  The only person bound by our box is us.

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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

the power of a kind word

I have a friend who shared the following story.  I love it!

On my way to work this morning, I stopped by Starbucks for my fix.  As always, my mind was on what I needed to do for the day and what I wanted to accomplish.  Leaving my car I encountered a city sanitation worker stabbing trash with a fork and bagging it up.  I honestly don't know where my words came from...I usually go on about my business.  But this time, I stopped and said..." thank you for your work, I really appreciate what you are doing".  I have no idea why I said that to a perfect stranger.  I walked on down the sidewalk.  Next, I heard.."Hey..come back here"  Turning around, the guy said to me..."Nobody ever said that to me before..thanks".

Like I said..I am usually about MY OWN business.  At the moment, I felt like the day was worth living because maybe I made it better for someone.  But later on, I decided that the incident did much more for me than it did for the trash man.  Maybe I was about ANOTHER business and didn't even know it.  Maybe I had already accomplished what I was supposed to do for the day.  Hmmmmm

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

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Walmart Man

And so I am walking out of Walmart at 5:02am.  There is an employee sitting on a bench, smoking a cigarette.  I think to myself, what does the Walmart man think about as he sits on the bench outside at 5am?  I would think about the rest of my day.  I would think about my life.  I would think about my hopes and dreams.  I would think, "one day, I am going to own this place."

In the parking lot, a pretty young lady is waiting in her car which is parked next to mine.  Music on low, car running, window down, smoking a cigarette.  I know what is going on, she is waiting for another Walmart man to get off of work. 

I say hello and get to work installing my new wiper blades.  [See yesterday’s post.]  I get in the car to leave and I wonder again about the people that are here at 5am.  Taking a smoke break.  Waiting to pick up their guy.  They both look at me and suddenly I realize what they are thinking.  “Why is that old man here at 5 in the morning, putting wiper blades on his car?  Get a life old man.”

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sometimes we get it wrong

It is 3:30 in the morning and I am wide awake.  I try, but I cannot go back to sleep.  So I have this brilliant idea- Perkins is open all night.  Let’s get up, shower, and go get some breakfast.  I can get an early start on the day’s work. 

So, I roll into Perkins about 4:15 and guess what?  I got it wrong.  Perkins is open 24 hours on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but not today.  I have an hour and 15 minutes to kill.  Ahh, there is our old friend Walmart.  They are open.  I will just go over there and kill some time.

As  I pull out of the Perkins parking lot I notice the sign that says, 20% off with a receipt from Walmart.  This is a reminder to me that if I go into Walmart, I am probably going to spend some money.

How much time can a man kill in Walmart between 4:15 and 5:30?  I look at the hats.  I look at the toys.  I look at electronics.  I see the pet section.  I make my first selection, 10 lbs of cat food.  That will last our cats about 4 days.  By the way, have you ever had a cat that was bigger than your children when they were born?  Not a safe cat to have around if you have small children.

I keep shopping.  Sporting goods.  Automotive.  Now I am in the promised land.  New wipers for my car and the magical Stoner’s [that is the brand name] window cleaner.  Looking at the automotive section makes me happy.  Now the garden center.  I take a diet coke from the cooler.  The pharmacy.  I have made the complete circle of Walmart and it is only 4:56.  I look in the bins at the $5 movies and cd’s. 

Now I am out of gas and I have to go.  I can only be in Walmart for so long.  I go to the only open check out.  I am scolded for drinking the coke before I paid for it.  I suddenly have this fear that I am going to be tackled by store security and end up on the show, "They Almost Got Away With It". I quickly pay for my purchases, thankfully there is no line.  I hurry out to the parking lot and load my stuff into the trunk.  What am I going to do for the next 25 minutes until Perkins opens?  Oh, I guess I will install my new windshield wipers.  And, I will type a blog.

If you happen to wake up in the middle of the night and decide to go to Perkins, please don’t get it wrong.  Perkins is only open 24 hours on certain days, and today isn’t your day.

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

Monday, March 26, 2012

Kids and TV

Last night I scored a huge victory.  Dad 1 – Kids 0.  I have watched my kids watch TV for years.  They love MTV, they love Friends, they love Scrubs and NCIS and some legal show.  I cannot get them to watch the news and they make fun of me for watching the history and discovery channels.  For shame.

Well, last night we made a huge break thru.  I caught them enthralled with a show on Animal Planet.  My kids are watching a documentary.  Polar bears. Seals.  Killer whales.  Penguins.  Wolves and buffaloes.  They are glued to the set.  I just sit there and watch them watch.  It is wonderful and it is amazing.

My Dad had an old saying, “The mills of the Gods grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine.”

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

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I have a friend

I have a friend who just finished the Financial Peace University course at Woods Chapel.  If you have not attended FPU, it is a wonderful class that teaches us how to get out of debt so that we can have financial peace.  FPU helps marriages by removing the stress of unpaid bills.  It also allows us, frees us to live the generous life.

My friend has a job, but is looking for side work so that he can pay off debt more quickly.  If you need an honest, hardworking man to do a few things around your house, let me know.  Handyman work, mowing or any yardwork is appreciated.

I honor the desire of a person who wishes to get their house in order.

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

Saturday, March 24, 2012

your best

So where are you heading today? What are your plans? Who will you see? Who will you touch? What difference might you make if you think about it?

"Go where your best prayers take you." -Buechner

Lion's Den Man

Friday, March 23, 2012

Give and Take

We have heard this expression of mutual concession.
But as we know....
Some give.
Some take.
Some give and expect nothing.
Some give with expectancy.
Some take and never give.
Some take and give begrudgingly.
And some keep score thinking they are playing by the rules and that is how it is done.

So, which really works?
Which do you choose?

Lion's Den Man

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Last Tuesday morning another great message was delivered at the Men's Gathering. There were many things to take away. What stuck with me is the need for us to work on the Pause. How much better would things be in our lives if we took the time to "take the time" before speaking, responding, reacting....

It seems simple enough to do, but so often many problems and situations arise as a direct result of not doing that very thing.

Lion's Den Man

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I like you

I was a bit surprised to find out the other day that someone wondered if I liked them.  I would like to think that everyone knows that their pastor likes them.

It never occurred to me that for some, there is this hope, this concern, that they are liked by me.  Well, I am sorry if for any reason you thought that I did not like you.  Let me be clear about the issue.  I do like you.  I LIKE YOU A BUNCH!

If being a Christ follower is about showing God's love, then I want you to know I am fond of every one of you.  It is my privilege to be your friend and your pastor.   Thanks for the opportunity.

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


There is an old saying.  Well, I am not sure how old it is, but we have all heard it- "whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."  It tells us that there are some places in life, some times in life that you can do whatever you want and no one knows and no one cares.  The idea has such an allure that the slogan has been picked up by other places than Vegas.  What ever happens here, stays here.

Well, as far as humans go, the slogan may be true, but there is no place that we can go that our Father does not know what we are up to.  No one may tell, but we will know and we will remember, and we will have to live with ourselves and sleep at night.  So it is always important to remember that who we are and what we do matters, even when, maybe especially when, no one else is looking.

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

Monday, March 19, 2012

the Apostle's Creed

It's 8:07 on Sunday morning and I am leading the Apostle's Creed again at Woods Chapel.  If I have done it 45 times per year, that is over 800 times that I have led the Creed since I was first appointed here.  I have become an old man since I got here, one Apostle's Creed at a time.

So Sunday I am leading the Creed and I am thinking [my mind wandered briefly] about how many times I have done this, and how many times I may lead it, on out into the future.  One more year, 5 more, ten more years here?  Only the Bishop knows.

Then it occurs to me.  I could drop dead at any moment.  An Aneurysm.  It happens.  Stranger things have happened.  I have no promise of any future Apostle's Creeds.  I better just enjoy today, for I am not promised tomorrow.  None of us are.  Seize the day.

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

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Church trees

Even if the sermon is weak and the music struggles today, just seeing the trees will make your trip to Woods Chapel worth while.  There are 24 Cleveland pear trees lining the north entrance.  They are joined by a host of cherry trees and Bradford pears that are all in bloom today.  They are absolutely beautiful.

Creation's voice is declaring the goodness of our Father this day.  Park in a far away parking spot this morning and walk thru the trees.  You'll be glad that you did.

It's an exceptionally beautiful day in God's work, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Disappointment.   We all feel it from time to time.  If you are a basketball fan, chances are you are feeling some today.  Sometimes you can sleep it off, sometimes it lasts for weeks.  We get disappointed when someone or something lets us down.  Sometimes we ourselves let ourselves down.

It is important to remember that nothing lasts forever.  Our well being cannot be tied to the fleeting things of this life.  Ultimately, our well-being as Christ followers is tied only to the person of our Father, and he never lets us down.

God is always present, always caring, always loving, and when I remember that, the sun shines a little brighter.

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

Friday, March 16, 2012

two sentences

When the folks are talking, do you add your two sentences?  When you do, are they positive or negative?  Do they lift up others, or tear things down?

Human nature tends to like to join into the chorus of negativity, but it doesn't have to be that way.  When you find yourself having said bad things about another, do you feel bad later?  Its like what we thought was going to make us feel better really made us feel worse.

There is a simple solution.  Even the most difficult people are worth two sentences of good.  We can find something good to say about just about everyone if we try.  What if you choose to lend your voice to the chorus and say two positive sentences.  What if we stop listening to the negativity?  What if we walk away and just go find people that are positive?  It can be done, and they are simple choices.

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

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I have your back

Recently I engaged in a discussion with a friend.  Isn't it nice to have a friend?  Just the thought, at this moment, makes me smile.

We were talking about something that I said, and how those words came across.  I did not mean to upset him with my words, I was trying to be funny.  He explained that he knew that, and then he said this - "never worry about me, I always have your back."

I always have your back.  Wow.  Those are giant words.  I am in your corner.  I know who you are.  I know what you are about and I am with you.  You can trust me.  You can rely on me.  We are in this together. 

To have someone's back is a great gift.  From one friend to another, from a parent to a child, from our Father to us.  I have your back.  Good words.

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Yesterday I took a day trip to Joplin.  We left at 730am and got home at 730pm.  I rode down with three fine members of Woods Chapel.  Dennis, Eastin and Lynn.  We visited a school and presented a donation from our children's department.  I had coffee with a pastor friend.  We visited the new warehouse where Missy and Ivan are working, deploying volunteers.  Then we went to lunch.  Then visited  St. Paul's and talked with Ben.  Then some of us roofed a house and others worked in the office contacting volunteer groups about their upcoming mission trips.

Point of this story- There is much to do in Joplin.  You can do manual labor, you can help Missy in the office.  There is something for everyone, for anyone, and much help is still needed.

I want our church to remember these people and their needs.  Please do not forget that I asked our entire congregation to try and go to Joplin this year for at least one day.  I would hope that if a tornado happened to our community, there would be a church somewhere, that would not quit, not stop coming to help, until the mission was accomplished.

One of the greatest joys in life is learning to live outside of one's self.

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

to believe

To believe in something is to endue it with power.  To believe is to speak hope into a moment.  I believe in my children.  I believe in my church.  I believe that things can get better.  I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows.  I believe that everything is ok, and it is. 

Belief is so powerful, so constructive when focused on the positive.  Christians have hope in this life because we believe that God loves us and is with us.  Ultimately, that is enough.

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

Monday, March 12, 2012


A few years ago we planted thousands of daffodils on the north bank of the pond at church.  I encouraged this and enlisted help for the plantings in this blog.  It was my hope that over time the north bank would become covered with the pretty little flowers.

It was my assumption that when you plant a daffy, that they come back every year, and that they will usually double each year.  So if you planted 3,000 - next year you would have six and so on.  This is certainly true about the Iris in my back yard.

Well, it has not been the case with the Woods Chapel daffodils and I apologize.  Many people worked very hard to plant them and over the years there have been fewer and fewer of them come up in the spring.  There are several reasons for this.  First of all, the soil on the north bank is terribly rocky.  Secondly, daffys need the blessing of bone marrow from time to time.  Finally, sometimes we mowed over them inadvertently.

There are some lessons to learn from this in life about people from this experience.  You can plant beautiful things, but if you pick bad soil, the beauty is not going to grow.  I would also say that the effort put in to make something beautiful is never effort given in vain.  Finally, one daffodil is  beautiful.  As long as there is one, I want to remember the hard work that so many put in and thank you and celebrate with you.

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

Sunday, March 11, 2012

some special words

Yesterday I posted on my son's facebook page- "Happy Birthday Son.  I love you and I am proud of you."  Scott turned 21 yesterday.

The words I posted stuck in my brain.  "I love you and I am proud of you."  They stuck because they took me back suddenly to the first time I heard my Dad say them to me.  It was the afternoon of Easter Sunday 1995.  We were sitting on the deck behind our house and it was sunny.  My Dad randomly offered, "Son, I love you and I am proud of you."  I was 38 years old.  Time stopped.  An brain imprint was made.  I will remember the moment until the day that I die.

I am sure that it was difficult for those words to come out of his mouth.  Men were raised differently in my Dad's generation.  I know it was a gift from his heart to mine.  I just wish I could have heard them a little sooner.

If there is someone that you love, tell them.  Some of the world's most powerful words are, "I love you and I am proud of you."

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

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Scott-

21 years ago today, you popped into this world.  The nurses had to hold you back until the doctor got there.  I am smiling now just remembering the evening you were born.  It was the Sunday night of the big 8 tournament final.  Your mom wouldn't leave for the hospital until she saw where her KU Jayhawks were seeded in the NCAA tournament.  Then I had to drive like a bat out of hell to get her to the hospital - 45 miles away!

Anyway, what a joy it has been to be your dad.  Like Peter Panning in the movie "Hook" you are my happy thought.  This is a milestone day for you.  And although we are miles apart, you are near and dear to my heart. 

I hope you get a chance to read this because I love you very much and I am proud of you. 
Love, Dad

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

Friday, March 9, 2012

God's will and free will

God’s will vs free will.  I hear so many people speak of God’s will and God’s plan.  You would think we are Calvinists.  Sometimes I wonder if we are hoping that God will shine a light from heaven and show us exactly what to do and in so doing, save us from taking responsibility for our lives.  Do you have free will?  Yes you do.  Maybe the joy and glory of this life, is not expecting God to show you or give you the exactly right thing, but in your choosing to honor him by making choices.

When we look to circumstances for God’s will, it can get real confusing really fast.  There was an old farmer who kept a horse for tilling his fields.  One day the horse escaped into the hills and when all the farmer's neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows? A week later the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows? Then, when the farmer's son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows? Some weeks later the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer's son with his broken leg they let him off. Now was that good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?

The point of the story is that our relationship with God cannot be rooted in circumstances.  If we believe in free will we have to stop trying to make life sound like God is pulling all of the strings.  You have choices and our Father wants you to prayerfully use them.  If you feel a sense of direction, then celebrate that and step out in faith.  If you don’t feel anything special, then you still must live your life and follow God the best that you can, trusting in the fact that he has given you the gift of freewill and rejoices in the positive life choices that we make.

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

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Why Woods Chapel?

Someone asked, "Why Woods Chapel?"  I love the question.  Here is my first shot at an answer, but what would you add?

I invite you to attend Woods Chapel because-
  1. Woods Chapel focuses on the essentials, the core of the Christian faith.  On peripheral issues, we invite our members to think and let think.
  2. Woods Chapel people are most generally positive, constructively focused on our mission of connecting people to Jesus Christ. 
  3. Woods Chapel people are deeply committed to missions.  We are learning to live outside of ourselves. 
  4. Woods Chapel is grace based.  The story of salvation does not begin with sin, but begins with "God so loved the world…….”
 It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

a pastor's week

A pastor's week seems to go like this.  Sunday, Monday, Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday, Saturday and then Sunday again.  It seems like Sunday comes three times a week.

Why is this?  I think it is because so much of what a pastor does, revolves around the 25 minutes that he or she talks to the people during the sermon.  I have to tell you, the pressure to come up with something inspirational is very heavy.  Sometimes, you don't feel inspired.  Sometimes, you want to listen to someone else.  And, yet, here it is again, another Sunday.

As a pastor, you have to prepare your very best and then just pray.  Pray that God will use these words.  Pray that you have "got it right."  Pray that the people will be touched in someway.  And it's all good.  God is good.

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

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Your bottom line

Christians can be funny.  Funny like hard to understand.  It is so easy for us to get off track and focus on everything but what we should be focusing on.

If you had the choice of one of the following, and you could only choose one, which would you choose.

a.  the Bible
b.  American returning to her Christian roots
c. a national referendum on some social issue to your preference.
d.  keeping the same pastor
e.  getting rid of your pastor
f.  keeping every thing the same at your church.
g.  bringing back the good old days.
h.  Jesus Christ
i.  knowing when the end of time would happen
j.  being recognized as a spiritual giant in your church
k.  keeping your worst sins a secret

Obviously Christians should choose Jesus.  If you missed him on the list, he was option h.  If you missed him, don't feel bad, Christians often miss Jesus when we are surrounded by all of that other stuff.  But we shouldn't.  The name of the faith is after all, Christ-ianity.

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

Monday, March 5, 2012

worship styles

Occaisionally we get comments about worship styles for various services that we hold at the church.  Someone might suggest from time to time that a particular services is well attended due to the time that it is scheduled rather than the style of worship offered at that time.  I think the hope of the person making the comment is that the service time in question could possibly be changed to their preferred style of worship.

Last week we took a brief survey to see if people like the kind of worship offered at partiuclar times.  Here are the results.

 Here are the results – from those who expressed a preference………..

8am traditional service – 87% prefer traditional
905 contemporary service – 96% prefer contemporary
1010 contemporary service – 85% prefer contemporary
1115 traditional service – 88% prefer traditional

I think the results speak for themselves.  I am sorry that for some of you the style of worship that you prefer is not offered at the time that you may prefer.  If you find yourself in that group, I hope that it is a minor inconvenience to you.

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

Sunday, March 4, 2012

don't skip church

I know it is tempting but please do not skip church today to go to the parade.

This comes around once per year and this year it falls on Sunday.  Please don't skip church to go to the parade. 

Oh.  What parade you say?  You do not know?  Today is the day that all of the bands line up downtown and March 4th.

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

Saturday, March 3, 2012

children learn

Children learn what they are taught.  You can teach a child to fear and you can teach a child to love.  Some teaching is done intentionally, a good deal of teaching is done subliminally.  The children just watch you, and learn from your clues as to how to act.

Grandma is dying.  How will a child respond?  Exactly as you teach them.  If you are a total basket case, then you can expect them to be inconsolable.  If you tell them that it's ok, and that Grandma is going to be with Jesus, they will accept that and go back to playing.  What you show them, they will emulate.  If the worst of your insecurities are on display, then you can expect  your children will mirror them.  If the healthy part of you is on display, then you can expect that your children will take comfort in your leadership.

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

Friday, March 2, 2012

investing in people

Most humans struggle with money.  Making money, having money, saving money.  They are worried about their investments. 

We forget something.  When a millionaire dies, how much of his fortune does he or she leave?
All of it.

What a different world this would be if we spent as much time investing in people as we did money.  How many people are out there that could be touched and blessed by 20 minutes of our time.  I promise you, there is someone out there that could use a bit of face time with you.  The best thing that we do in this life is to reach out and care about others.  Do what Jesus did.  Invest in people.  I hear the retirement plan is out of this world.

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

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Soren Kierkegaard once told the story of an immense vestibule with two doors. Over one door the sign reads: Heaven. Over the other door the sign reads: Lecture on Heaven.
Guess which one Kierkegaard said the people were flocking through?

Do we settle for talk about God and talk about Jesus and talk about living?  Or are we without reservation, throwing ourselves at everyday that God gives us.  Craning our necks to see the good.  Celebrating the song of the bird.  Live.  L.I.V.E.  That is the invitation of true spirituality.  It's not a talk, it's a way of life.

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