Saturday, August 31, 2013


More on the prodigal son.  You may know that I have been thinking about this story a lot lately.  Last week I made a new friend, Brett Opalinski is a really cool pastor from Ft. Lauderdale.  We were talking one night about the prodigal son story.

I have been so struck by the thought that the father welcomes the son, without an apology.  He just sees the son coming home and rushes out to embrace him.  The churches that I grew up in would have made the son stop, beg for forgiveness and repent before he was embraced.

The father in Jesus' story simply embraces the son who is coming home.  Brett O added another twist on the tale. 

The father embraces the son, and he doesn't even know why the son is coming home.  The son may be just stopping by.  The son may be coming to ask for more money.  The father doesn't know.  He isn't worried about any of that.  He is just so glad to see his son.  He rushes out to welcome him.   No questions asked.

This is grace.  Amazing grace.  Unconditional love.  Transforming love.  When people receive this kind of love from God, they are changed.  It is a beautiful thing.

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

Friday, August 30, 2013

thankful for friends

So I am at a meeting in Colorado. I will be home by Sunday.  But I am looking at the mountains and I randomly thought of a friend.  And my heart was suddenly happy.  Oh what a blessing it is to have friends. For all the people that can bring you pain in this life, I am very very thankful for friends.  Can you think of someone that you are thankful for?  Why not call them and tell them.

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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Make Friends

Problems.  We all have them.  The question is whether they will dominate our lives or not.  Even if you have a terrible problem, you can still choose to work on learning to live on the other side of it.

Lets say we are going to die.  Oh, wait, we are going to die.  Every single one of us.  Now we can spend every day being upset about that, or we can make friends with the fact that we are not going to be here forever.  We can get up in the morning and live.

My problems are what they are.  Some we can fix, some will go away.  Some will not.  Sometimes in life we get what we want, and sometimes in life we get what we get.

The greatest joy we will ever have is when we can trust God with our burdens and get on with our lives.

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

bathrooms in Nicaragua

Ok, I am not someone who would normally talk about this, but I have had a few questions about the topic so I am going to ramble for a moment.

typical outhouse in the villages
Bathrooms in Nicaragua- someone asked me what they were like.  Someone else told me that they heard that you have to pay to use the bathroom in the cities.

Paying to use them - I paid a few times in Russia, I paid a few times in the Holy Land.  Glad to do so, by the way.  In Nicaragua, I used several bathrooms in the city, in the gas stations, in various businesses, and was never asked to pay.

What were they like.  The restrooms at the hotels were fine.  Away from the hotels, I found them to be umm... not clean.  Often no paper.  No soap.  Sometimes the flush mechanism is broken and there is a bucket of water near by that you pour in the back of the toilet to make it flush.  This is typical of third world countries.

Away from the cities, the bathrooms were outhouses.

Next time you stop by the restroom, remember that we have much to be thankful for.

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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


could a HC person even get in and out of this truck?
Pet peeves.  We all have them.  One of the things that really bugs me is when people that don't look handicapped park in the HC places.  Now a person has to be careful not to judge.  Some people that don't look handicapped may actually have a terrible lung condition.

I don't want to judge, but I have seen it all.  Teenagers obviously in their parents car, parking in the HC spots.  Smart-alec, entitled, rude people thinking that they are owed a right to park there.  People that got a HC tag but don't need it anymore.  It's just hard to understand. 

I took this picture at a recent visit to Lowes.

Please don't park in the HC spots unless you need to do it.  It's the right thing to do.

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

Monday, August 26, 2013


A few weeks ago the sermon was on loving God.  I talked about a short prayer that could be repeated over and over.  Someone asked that I share it.  Here it is.

Father, I love you.
Help me to love you more.

Father, I love you.
Help me to love you more

Say that, over and over.  Sometimes simple prayers help me so much.

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

Sunday, August 25, 2013

my Dad

So I had this random thought the other day.  You can find anything on the Internet.  You can Google or yahoo anything and find anything on anyone.  So I decided to yahoo my Dad, Paul Brinkman. 

I found that there are many people named Paul Brinkman.  25 on Linked in.  50 on Facebook.  None of them were my Dad.  He died in 2002. 

I decided to get more specific.  So I added his middle name, Parmalee.  Paul Parmalee Brinkman.  I expected nothing.  I expected that there would be no hits on his full name.  But one came up.  It seems that someone had written about my Dad.  It was his son.  It was me.  I wrote about him in 2007.  Here is the link

Well, I hope that someday when I am gone and forgotten, my son will write about me.  Frankly, that will be enough.  Today, I honor my father, Paul Parmalee Brinkman.  It's not his birthday, but I honor him just the same. 

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

Saturday, August 24, 2013


We want what is coming to us.  We want our just deserts.  We want our fair share.  We want our piece of the pie.  But do we actually deserve anything?

What happens to our heart and life when we start thinking that we deserve this or we deserve that.  When we think we are entitled to something, we are always upset when it doesn't go our way.

What if we stopped wanting everything?  What if we saw the gift of every single thing that God has already given to us?  What if we lived by the adage, "the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the  Lord?"

I suggest to you that life is much better, much more joyful when we stop thinking that we deserve something and instead fill our hearts and minds with gratitude.

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

Friday, August 23, 2013

finding joy

I read something on the Internet a few weeks ago about finding joy in life.  I don't remember where it was, but I made a few notes.  The author had some great ideas....I have added a few of my own.

Find joy by:
-collecting something.  Rocks, coins, stamps, etc.
-playing.  By not being serious all the time.
-fix something that is broken.  It always makes us feel better when we do.
-mow the grass.  It looks better when we are done and the exercise is good for us.
-take a shower.  Feeling clean always makes us feel better.
-laugh.  Tell a joke.  Listen to one.  Laugh.
-prepare.  Plan.  Make plans for something.  It feels good to be prepared.
-enjoy a pet.
-smell the flowers.
-de-clutter your house.  Give the extra stuff to the disabled veterans.
-do it yourself.  Find something that you might pay someone to do, but do it yourself instead.
-read something.  It puts new ideas in our head.
-be curious.
-pop a peppermint or chew gum.
-help someone in need.
-spend time with a friend.
-love someone.
-forgive someone.
-take a deep breath.
-go somewhere quiet and appreciate God's beauty in creation.

There you have it.  Missing a bit of joy?

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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

uniters and dividers

Seems like in every Presidential election there is talk about who is a uniter, and who is a divider.  You pick whatever you think about the candidates.  I want to ask about us now.

In your life, on your job, in your home, at church, in your neighborhood, in the PTA, as a sports parent, are you a uniter or a divider?  Are you stirring people up or bringing them together?  Are you inciting a riot or reminding people of what is really important?

You know that most of the things that we are upset about, in one week, we won't even remember why we were so upset.  Our life is a blink on the face of time.  Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.  Leaders point people toward mental health.  Leaders call people toward positive action.

Life is good.  It will work out.  Put your arms around folks and move on.  Everything is not going to go my way or your way and that is ok.  Blessed are the peacemakers.  I think Jesus said that.

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

assets and liabilities

Assets and liabilities.  Or, the good things about us, and the challenging things about us.  Sometimes our assets and our liabilities are the same.  Our strengths are our weaknesses.

A strong leader may grow a thing, but because of that strength may at times run over people.  A quiet contemplative person finds inner peace, but may miss opportunities in life. 

A funny person can liven a moment, but may not know how to take life's difficulties seriously.

A nurturing parent may over care for a child and create a dependency.

What are your strengths?  What are your weaknesses?  Are they the same?  How can we learn to monitor our gifts so that they do not become liabilities?

Dear Father, help us be more aware of how we come across to others.  Help us see our strengths, and help us keep them in check so that they are channeled for your purpose.  Amen.

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

fearing pain

We humans don't like pain.  We don't like grief, loss or rejection.  When it comes our way, we hide from it and we seek to minimize it.  We want it to go away so we can get back to normal.  But normal never comes until we face our pain and deal with it.

We are never able to move past an event, because instead of absorbing the pain and savoring all of the aspects of it, we push it away.  We medicate ourselves to make sure that we don't feel it.

Healing never comes until we take it in and bring it to God.  Jesus declined the wine mixed with gall on the cross.  He wanted to feel it all.  We too must get out the Kleenex, find a time and place, and cry our faces off from time to time.

Only then do we, a little bit at a time, work our way through the dark nights of life and emerge on the other side.

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

Monday, August 19, 2013


Rejection is a very powerful and painful experience.  I have recently been visiting with some adults whose upbringing was one long period of rejection.  They spent their growing up years wondering what was wrong with them and working hard to make everyone happy.  They were constantly seeking approval.

Moving out and getting on their own as young adults was an improvement, but now they faced a world where they expected to be rejected.  They also began to look upon others as they had been raised, constantly expecting others to straighten up.  This way of living life never goes very well.

After a while these adults realized that something was amiss, but it took years to work through it.  Thinking, asking, praying, dancing, wondering, feeling angry, looking beyond, hoping for better.  Finally they begin to emerge from the mist and fog and begin to understand life as a celebration.  No longer a fearful worrying about whether or not they were good enough, but a joyful dance of God's love.

I am talking about me and  my sisters.

If you can relate to any of this, I pray for you.  I am never going to say that I have, or we have arrived, but it is wonderful when a person finally starts to understand that they are worth loving.

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

Sunday, August 18, 2013

the President's home

pathway to her home is 200 yards from the main road, muddy and steep.
Here are some pictures from the home of the president of the village of Los Pinos. Her name is Angelita.

side of her home

Her 21 year old daughter has kidney disease and is not expected to live.
unusual to have pictures or a hammock in Los Pinos.

pet parrot.  also unusual.

her kitchen


she carries water 200 yards from the well

 We have been so blessed.  Someone told me last week that we should never again say, "God bless America," because God HAS blessed America.  We have so much, may we be grateful.

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

Saturday, August 17, 2013


This happens all the time in Nicaragua.  People that don't have a place to live, just pick a place and build a shack. 

This hill is next to the hotel that we stay at in Matagalpa.  It is up a very steep hill.  In April when I was there, you could hike to the top of the hill for a nice view.  Now just a few months later, the hill has been taken over by the poor.  There is no water or electricity on the hill so the people carry 5 gallon buckets up the hill from the valley below.

Makes me wonder why I have ever complained about anything in my life.

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

Friday, August 16, 2013

Nicaragua Team

Now you know that I love the people that go to our church.  You all are awesome and amazing.  It was such a blessing to go with 14 fine WCC folks to Nicaragua last month.  Here are a couple of pictures of some of the team.
Melissa and Teresa checking out the flowers.

Scott presenting shovels to the village president.  Ron and Kathy in the background.

Michelle, Chris, Becky, Pam and Kathy in a local church.

I was so pleased with the heart, compassion, kindness, hard work, industry, creativity and on and on I could go about these folks.  I made some new friends.  My heart is still warm thinking about seeing their souls on display.

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

Thursday, August 15, 2013

flowers of Matagalpa

Last month I travelled back to Nicaragua with a team from our church.  One of the hotels that we stayed at had some beautiful gardens.  Things grow in the tropical countries that we can't keep alive in the states.


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

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

food scarcity

The thing that haunts me over and over about the Los Pinos village in Nicaragua is the food scarcity.  We can read online all sorts of statistics about how many children will go to bed hungry around the world, but when you see the faces of the people, and hear their stories, it is heart breaking.

The food pantry in the village president's home.
I asked the village president about her meals.  She was glad to tell me.  For breakfast, a piece of bread if they have it.  For lunch a tortilla and beans if they have it.  For dinner a tortilla or piece of bread with beans and rice.... if they have it.

The village is 20 miles from a modern town.  The bus comes right by the village, but few have been to see the modern town.  They can't afford the 50 cents to ride the bus.  Any money that they have, they need for food.

I am thinking about this almost every day.  It just breaks my heart.

What did I have for breakfast today?  What will I eat for lunch?  For Dinner?  Oh, and maybe I had a bed time snack.

I can't write my usual ending.  It is a beautiful day and I would like to help other people in the world feel that way about it as well

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I am thinking back to the night that I was getting ready to fly home from Nicaragua.  I am sitting by the pool listening to my mp3 player.  The air is cool and it is an atmosphere of enjoyment around the patio and pool.

I start thinking about some of the songs that I am hearing and how songs can take you back to a certain time in your life.  I am in 7th grade and Elvis Presley is singing "Suspicious Minds."  I am at my senior prom and the band is playing the Moody Blues, "Knights in White Satin."  I am driving my 73 Chevy Vega in college at San Jose State and the song, "Bad Blood" comes on by Neil Sedaka.  On and on the list could go.  Phil Collins, Fastball, Neil Diamond, Maroon 5 so many bands with so many songs that take me to a certain place and time.

Then I remember that I am in Nicaragua.  The people in the village of Los Pinos have probably never heard any of those songs.  In fact, other than the music that the children sing, the village is void of music.  Wow.  A life void of music as we know it.

Man, we are blessed.  Put on a song and give thanks for the gift of music.

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

Monday, August 12, 2013


This is a left over story from the redwoods trip.  It is my last night of the trip and I have gravitated to a hotel in San Carlos.  It is morning and I am going to get some breakfast.  I want to bring it back to the room to eat so that I can log in and watch our worship on live-streaming.  [which was pretty cool.]

So I am heading up to the door to my hotel room.  A plate of eggs and sausage, a bowl of fruit sitting in the plate......... in my other hand, two cups of coffee one on top of the other.

Do you see what is getting ready to happen?  It is the moment of truth.  I can do this.  I cradle the two coffees on my left arm while holding the plate of food in my left hand.  I reach in my pocket for the room key. 


It all comes apart.  I save most of it, but one cup of coffee pops open, spills down the only clean pair of jeans that I have left and crashed to the floor.  Of course there happens to be a family of four walking down the hall as this happens.  I can hear them snicker.......

I get in the room, collect myself and put on a pair of shorts.  I let the pants dry, thinking that the coffee wont stain the jeans.  [my wife laughs at that part]

Breakfast was great, the live stream worship was great, and the jeans are stained.  Now this is where the story takes a turn for the better.

I want to wear these jeans home.  The others that I have are too dirty to be wearing on a plane all day.  So I am thinking Laundromat.  I look some up.  I think about how to get there and the amount of time all of that will take.  Then I remember....... lots of people still wash their clothes manually.  We saw some of that in Nicaragua.

So, I filled up the hotel room sink, got the stained part of the jeans very wet and soaped it up with a bar of soap.  I scrubbed and scrubbed.  Then I rinsed them out and let them dry.  A few hours later, you would have never known that I embarrassed myself in the hallway of the hotel by spilling coffee all over myself- except that I have just told you.

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

Sunday, August 11, 2013

there is something else

There is something else going on here.  It is bigger than me.  It is beyond my senses.  I can't quite put my finger on it.

There is something mystical, something amazing going on right here and now with you and with me.  I know that my soul does not rest inside my belly, but it sure feels like it does.  More in my chest really.  Somehow, in ways that we are unable to explain, we are created in God's image.  We can feel it.  We know it's true.

That is why there are always going to be parts of life that we can't understand.  Parts that defy explanation.  Let's stop trying to figure it out and just bow down to the Mystery.  God is amazing and it is a real blessing to have Him in our lives.  Some things are better savored than understood.

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

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Pain.  We all have it.  Some people try to drink it away.  Some try to drug it away.  Some try to jog it away.  Some shop to reduce the pain.  Some exercise their anger to overcome their pain.

None of it works.

The only way that a person can begin to overcome their pain is to discover it, face it, embrace it, make peace with it, and then when the pain has nothing left to say,  let the voice of God tell you that you are loved. 

When that happens, it's a beautiful day in God's world for sure.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Ten Reasons

At the end of my redwood trip, I scheduled a stay at a hostel.  I usually spend the last day 1/2 in San Francisco and the cheap Marina District hotels that I stay in have become more expensive each year. 

So.... I went on line and found this hostel.  It was $50 a night cheaper, even with a private room.  I arrived to check in and found one disaster after another.

Ten reasons why I will not stay at a hostel again:
1.  the parking is free, but it is four blocks from the building.
2.  there are signs everywhere about securing your belongings, so much so that you now are worried about who is staying in the place with you.
3.  lockers are provided to lock up your valuables, but you must buy a lock from them.
4.  The private room that I rented was about 10 x 10 and I think the ceiling was 7 foot.  There was no desk in it, so the whole purpose of my trip [reading and writing] was a bit derailed.
5.  Breakfast is free if you are ok with a bagel and a banana.  Be ready to wash your own dishes.
6.  The room they gave me was under the cafeteria, so at 5am when breakfast starts, you can hear the chairs sliding and banging above your head.
7.  The room they gave me shared a wall with the men's room.  All night long when a toiled flushed, you could feel it vibrate the walls.
8.  The rest room is shared, which did not bother me until I went to shower, then all of my wife's germa-phobe stories came to my mind.
9.  Since your room is next to the bathroom, all night long you get to listen to people walking by the your door, some laughing to use the bathroom.
10.  The final straw was the stairway that ran outside the room.  I should have taken a picture.  It was comical.  The windows in my room were high, but there was a stairway that ran from a patio out back to the cafeteria.  Anyone climbing the stairs could see right into your room, and they did.
11.  No air-conditioning.

That's the last straw.  I called my wife.  She set me up in a Fairfield in San Carlos.  It cost $50 more to stay there, but oh my, it was well worth it.  Isn't it funny when some of our worst moments are self-created, self-inflicted.

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

Thursday, August 8, 2013


There is a holiness in the redwood forest.  It is a feeling that is beyond description.  I wonder if the tall canopy gives us a sense of space or a sense of awe.  We build high ceilings in our churches, they somehow provide a sense of the holy.  In the redwood forest, there is a natural sense of awe, an awareness of the holy.  You can feel that we are a small part of something so much bigger.  It is amazing to think that some of these trees have been here for 1500 years!  And they will be there long after I am gone.  God is big.  Really big.  And he owns some really big beautiful trees!

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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wildlife of the redwood forest

[by the way, I am back in town, I wrote these posts last week]

Nature is amazing.  Animals are amazing.  Before the Bible was speaking to us about God, creation was telling us how amazing he is.  Here are some of my animal pictures.

there are lots of deer here. There were four of them walking up the road when I took this picture.
They had absolutely no fear of me.  Isn't that nice?

I came back from dinner and I hear someone pounding on a sliding glass door.
I am on the second floor, and the pounding was below me and off to the side.
I thought, "Oh someone needs help."
When I looked over my balcony to see who it was, there were five turkeys
pecking on the sliding glass door!
These signs are posted all around the area.
I have not seen one yet, and I hope I don't.
That encounter would make a beautiful day less likely.
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Redwood Forest-

I arrived at the camp at 1045pm, 1245pm California time.  I was tired.  It was late to be driving on those curvy roads.  I saw a 12 point buck standing alongside the roadway.

I am immediately impressed with the quiet that is here.  No TV, no radio, no cell service, no voices..... it is good.  Like a 24 hour a day silent prayer.

Since it was dark last night, I could see very little.  When I woke this morning I took this picture from the balcony of my room.

Breakfast was a welcome spread of scrambled eggs, sausage and blueberry yogurt.  Most exceptionally welcome since I did not get any dinner last night.

I am off to the forest to read.

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

Monday, August 5, 2013

7 day stretch

Well this is the end of what I think is the longest stretch I have ever filled in for Jeff.

At times this is a challenge for me to pull together enough thoughts to share. And even though I have been doing this since 2007 I still am worried about what I say and how I say it. (See yesterday’s post which is one of my concerns) This week went a little different. I was on vacation the week prior. I knew this was coming and so I prepared…I read more….took notes…read old notes from my journal….and prayed. Prayer led me to being open which led to the posts that were on my mind. Posting brought me peace.

If you know me you know I am big on being open and transparent. It is necessary to move forward in our faith, clean up our misdirection’s and heal our brokenness. I wish our Stephen Ministers were buried…not that I want people to be in need of that type of help, I just know there are lots of people in need that just fear what getting that type of help may require from them….

So, where is this all going? Nowhere actually…just my final thoughts to end a great week and say thank you Jeff for your trust in me to do this from time to time. I have grown so much because of this. Which leads me to praise God for the way he moves us and me…

Lion’s Den Man

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Do you ever have questions about God?

Does he remain a mystery?

I appreciate when people answer yes to those questions and better yet when they are willing to expose themselves by sharing those questions and or doubts they may have. There are some authors who do the same and I find my connection to God grows stronger when I have the chance to digest their thoughts and questions. Unfortunately being open and sharing things like your questions or understandings can be risky depending on your circle. And the bigger your circle the more exposure you have and the opportunity for someone to take you on or take you out is greatly increased. So often we keep it to ourselves or we keep it clean and neat and only talk about the things that everyone else agrees with…..

The problem is now the circle really becomes a circle but this time like when a dog chases his tail and the mystery of God and the pursuit of truth have been suffocated…….I think God likes it better when we breathe.

Lion’s Den Man

Saturday, August 3, 2013

do it

There was a great UPS commercial several years back where a pair of consultants come visit a company and lay out a great plan to help the company change, grow, get better etc. The owner of the company responds to their plan by saying “great, do it”. Their response was…”well sir we don’t actually do what we propose we just propose it……”

It makes me wonder how often I know what I should do, yet I do not do it, I only talk about it…

James 1:22

22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

Lion’s Den Man

Friday, August 2, 2013

a good day

Ephesians 4:26

26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.

Can you have a good day knowing, at days end, that you are not at peace with those in your life? I can’t. The day just falls short. I agree with whoever first said, “Life is too short’” So…why not make each day a good day.

Lion’s Den Man

Thursday, August 1, 2013

spiritual growth

I’ve been reading a book by John Ortberg called “The Me I want to Be”. Reading always seems to keep me in the flow and I feel more in tune with things around me. But, that’s not the case for everyone. By design we are different, unique and have certain things that put us in that “zone” where we feel in tune with the Spirit.

Ortberg writes, “How often do we get burdened because we try to weld weapons that have helped someone else in the battle? We hear about how someone else prays, or reads Scripture to start or end their day, or worships, or studies, or serves—and we feel guilty if we don’t do the same. We get frustrated because what works for someone else is not helpful to us. We are like David trying to walk around in Saul’s armor.”

I believe there is a place set aside for each of us by God where we find ourselves very alive and very close to Him. If you haven’t found it…..keep looking you will.

Ephesians 2:10

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Lion’s Den Man