Wednesday, September 30, 2015


I told you that I would be posting some quotes and thoughts from Jen Hatmaker's book Interrupted.   In the early part of the book she talks about change and how difficult most people find change to be.  But if you think about it, change is a fact of life. 

Change sometimes feels like a threat, but it's not a threat, and if we would grow we must be willing to change.  Life is constantly changing and those who insist that things remain the same are doomed to be stuck in unhappiness.  Things just never stay the same.

The whole gist of her book boils down to the notion that if we really let Jesus come into our lives, our lives would change dramatically.  I don't mean that you would stop dancing and playing cards, I mean the kind of change where we begin to live missionlly.  A missional life is the way of Jesus and it is how he taught people to live, seeing God and seeing others, and giving ourselves away for them.

If we look at the way he gave himself away, it should inform and radically transform our existence. In other words if we really did everything that Jesus taught, it would interrupt our comfortable lives.  That is something to think about.

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


I think from time to time about some of my favorite movies.

Harold and Maude - classic movie from the 70's about the meaning of life and the choices that we have to make to enjoy it.

The Tree of Life - obscure Brad Pitt movie about finding God in the midst of sorrow.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail - funny funny, sometimes off color.

Young Frankenstein - funny funny, sometimes off color.

A river runs through it - 90's film about a pastor's family and the struggles that we have.  Sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you have to keep pushing on with life.

Into the Wild- true story about a young man who goes  looking for adventure, who refuses to live the boring, dysfunctional suburban life.

Saving Private Ryan- realistic reminder of the sacrifices of the greatest generation.

Awakenings- true story of a group of people who wake up to the amazing joy of living.

Patch Adams - A true story of a man who refused to be crushed by life, but looked for ways to live with joy.

What are some of your favorites?

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

Monday, September 28, 2015


I woke up one day last week and I was depressed.  Little d depressed as I like to call it.   I had been to the Chiefs game when they lost in the last minute and it was just difficult.  I had an argument earlier that week with one of my kids that I felt bad about.  I just woke up that morning and I just didn't feel very good and I was depressed - little d depressed. 

I was looking for something to help me turn the corner and three things happened to help me do that.  Number one- I got a lecture from Jennifer Dancy explaining that I needed to think about investing in people instead of feeling sorry for myself.  She did it very kindly.  Secondly I had lunch with Paul Mcclain.  Third I listen to Fernando Ortega music.  So if you are reading this and you're depressed today go have a talk with Jennifer, have lunch with Paul  listen to some Fernando Ortega music. 

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

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Your comfort zone

Your comfort zone-  it's what were familiar with,  it's what were comfortable with. It's also the place where God may visit to console us but it is not the place where God normally lives. Think of the God who brooded over creation. Think of the God who called Saul, a murderer of Christians to be a leader of the church!  Think of Moses hearing God in the burning bush.  On and on the stories of call could go.

 If we would find God's purpose and God's will in this life we must we must be willing to travel to the edge of our comfort zone. There we are met by the Holy Spirit who takes us and lifts us up and leads us into God's plan and God's preferred future. If we are never outside our comfort zone then what we do is within our own parameters in our own strength.  God's plans for us require his strength and that means we need to put ourselves in positions where we feel weak so that he can be strong.

Never be afraid to step outside your comfort zone it's the most exciting part of living the Christian life!

I hope to see you at church later this morning.

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

Saturday, September 26, 2015

40,000 meals

I had the privilege of participating in the Sunday food packing event on September 13th. It was amazing. Over 450 people helped pack 40,000 meals for hungry people. One of the things that touched me so much was the sense of singleness of purpose.

Everyone knew that what we were doing mattered.  
Everyone knew that that this was of of utmost value in God's kingdom.  
There was a singleness of purpose.  

It didn't matter if you were a Democrat or a Republican, a KU fan or a Tiger fan - everyone jumped in and joined together and there was a bonding amongst the folks.   Young and old, everyone worked  together and it was delightful. 

I hope the next time we do this you'll be able to join in. 

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

Friday, September 25, 2015


Victorino is the vice president of the village of Los Pinos. I went to visit him in his home on our last trip and he was not there. I had a nice talk with his wife. Through a translator, he sent this note to me:

To Pastor Jeff, the pastor of the group that always visits the community of Los Pinos, San Ramon.
From Victorino Barrera, Vice Coordinator of the Los Pinos Committee for Rainbow Network

My wife told me that you came looking for me at our house and did not find me. It was a surprise when I heard the news. I was looking forward to talking with you because my heart feels a great friendship with you and the others from your brigades that come from the US to work here.
Victorino in striped shirt

I send thousands of greetings and hugs to you, your family and the brigades that come with you. May God bless you and your church and may you all receive many blessings from the Almighty God. I will be waiting here in my country, in my municipality of San Ramon. We will be waiting for everyone with open arms and we hope that you will come visit my family in our little home like always. Amen. Glory to God.

It is so nice to make friends, and so valuable to make friends in a poor village so very far away. I will look forward to visiting him again in the future.

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

Thursday, September 24, 2015


I've been hacked. You may or may not have noticed but my Facebook page had an inappropriate picture posted on it. It's very embarrassing.

Someone that I am friends with on facebook was hacked and it tagged about 60 members of our church in an inappropriate picture. They didn't mean to do it but it is very embarrassing.

 I'm sorry if you saw the picture. we took it down as soon as we became aware of it. Crazy things happen in this electronic age.  Thanks for understanding.

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

seeing the good

I am grateful but I need to be more often. So much is so very good. Wendy Minshall has been posting for over 1000 days about being grateful…probably one of the reasons why she has such an uplifting spirit.

Focusing on being grateful removes that nasty plank in the eye. We see so much better then…

Lion’s Den Man

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

man of means

Heard the song "King of the Road" by Roger Miller the other day. My dad loved that song. I heard it often as a boy. Great little story about life. The key line being, "I'm a man of means by no means, king of the road." A man who had very little to his name but possessed more freedom and happiness than most. Something worth thinking about.

Lion's Den Man

Monday, September 21, 2015

without excuse

My wife and I took a vacation a few weeks back and explored nature. God is good at all things but I think he may have been having a really good day 3 when he came up with things like waterfalls.

Romans 1:20

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.


Lion’s Den Man

Sunday, September 20, 2015

a favorite idiom

“Wipe the slate clean” - to forget all past problems or mistakes and start something again.

Whoever came up with that one - thank you. I use the phrase a lot but I need to practice it more. Too often we hold ourselves and others back by simply not wiping the slate clean. Our do-overs should start asap.


Lion’s Den Man

Saturday, September 19, 2015


Hope: to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true.

I can’t imagine not having hope. I am sorry for those who have struggles and cannot think in this manner. The world can rob us of great things like hope. Don’t let it. Take it back. It is a gift. Use it. It can take you to better places.

“Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies”- The Shawshank Redemption

Lion’s Den Man

Friday, September 18, 2015

Dear Father,

Dear Heavenly Father,

I was reflecting on my life and I wanted you to know that If I die today I have no regrets. I have loved as few people get to love. I have three wonderful children that I'm very proud of. I have a gazillion friends and I just am having the time of my life thank you God for the gift of this life! Help me to savor it more with each passing day.

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

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.

                                                        --Thich Nhat Hanh

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

open my eyes

Open my eyes that I might see.........

"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous."  - Aristotle

Open my eyes that I might see what I am missing.
O Lord, may I be aware of what you are doing in this world, all around me.

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


My mom was a softball player when she was in high school.  My Aunt Jewell Wagner was the pitcher and my mom was the catcher.  I remember as a child playing baseball in the neighborhood with her mask, glove and chest protector.

My cousin Rob Wagner came across these photos of my mom and his mom and sent them to us.

In the top photo which I guess is a club team or it might be the Kirkwood High School team, my mom is the smiling one on the right end of the second row.  My Aunt is on the back row, third from the left.  In the second picture, my mom is on the back row next to the coach and Aunt Jewel is two to her left.  This second picture is their church team... church softball, how about that!  L for Lutheran!  What fun.  And I guess that the church couldn't afford as nice of uniforms as the club or school team.

So, I have to tell you that my heart is so full of joy looking at these pictures.  To see my mom so young and so happy!  How exciting.  I may blow them up and have them framed!

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

Monday, September 14, 2015


I have been reading a book by Jen Hatmaker.  I love the last name.  This book is available for purchase in our bookstore.  I will be encouraging some of our Sunday School teachers to lead studies on this book.

The title of the book is Interrupted - when Jesus wrecks your comfortable Christianity.

Over the next few weeks I am going to post some thoughts from her book, but what a beginning.  Jesus hereby interrupts your life and your comfortable Christianity to get us back on track.  Are you living a comfortable Christianity?  Was Jesus discomforted for us?  What would our lives look like if we were discomforted for him?

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

Sunday, September 13, 2015

this is the day

This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Today is the day.  Today may be the only day that we get.  Tomorrow is a maybe.  We have today.  This day.

Let us thank God!  Let us love one another!  Let us forgive each other!  Let us deliver grace.
This is the day that the Lord has made for us to live with him and for him.

Let us receive it with joy and give it back to him, moment by moment, with heartfelt thanks!

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

Saturday, September 12, 2015

this too shall pass

I was searching for something on my computer the other day and I ran across an email that was about ten years old.  In the email, there was a very pointed back and forth between me and another person.  At the time, I would have told you that the relationship would never recover.  I would have told you that it would be a miracle if the relationship ever recovered.  Ever.

All that is water under the bridge today.  This too shall pass.   The river of forgetfulness has washed it all down stream.

Thanks to a general belief that the other person was a good person [on both sides] the relationship has been restored.  The posturing is over and the anger has all been forgotten.  It took time of course, but I am so glad that we still have each other.

I tell you this to remind you that we don't have to hold onto a thing forever.  Things that are really broken today can get repaired.  God can do amazing things if we let him in and give him some time.  It doesn't have to be over.  Give that person some time.  Who knows where this all may shake out in ten years.

Weeping may last for a night but joy comes in the morning.

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

Friday, September 11, 2015

resolving a thing

Sometimes we have problems or issues that are difficult to resolve.  We work and struggle and ask our friends for advice, but it seems like we are stuck in a predicament.  How long can this go on?  How long will I be stuck not knowing what to do?

Sometimes we have to make peace with ambiguity and make friends with our issues that are not easy to resolve.  But I have noticed another thing that I find to be amazing, and that is that sometimes these issues resolve themselves.  It's like we wake up one morning and just see it a little more clearly, or you wake up in the morning and something inside of you has healed. You had been praying, "Dear Lord, show me the way." And it's like He did!!

There is the amazing thing that the Holy Spirit can do sometimes that helps us to find peace in the midst of a storm.  If you are in a dilemma, talk to your friends, see a counselor, keep working on it, put pray that God will bring clarity.  You just never know what might happen.  Tomorrow you may wake up and just see the thing in a completely different way. 

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

Thursday, September 10, 2015

it's a thing of the heart

I have a friend that is very very smart.  Sometimes I am around people and I can tell that they are in another league mentally from me.  Actually most people probably are, but this person is quite brilliant.

A few weeks ago she said something to me that settled in, it was like I had been thinking things like this but she just said it so well.  She said something like, "so I am seeing that faith, this Christian thing, is rooted in the heart, it springs from the heart, it is lived from the heart."

I loved it.  You know, outward action is great, and it is needed.  But if it does not spring from a right heart, then it is just good works.  Faith begins in the heart.  The psalmist prayed in Psalm 51 "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."

How is your heart?  It is never too late to change the course of your life, and it all begins with decisions of the heart.

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

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

rule three

Rule three- stay in love with God.

Oh how important this is and how difficult.  First let us recognize that how we feel about love is very interesting.  If you have been married to a person for a long time, you will notice that love evolves.  I remember the first time I saw my wife, my heart jumped a mile.  The early years are intense and passionate.  Then you start to get to know each other and become a part of each other's lives.  It feels different, but you still love them.  Later, the relationship feel like an old shoe.  It feels differently but you can't imagine life with out them.

Some Christians, get freaked out a few years after an awakening.  They think that their faith is starting to wane.  They don't feel the same.  And sometimes they go off looking for that intense, passionate feeling that they had at the beginning.  They have failed to recognize that God is simply becoming a part of their every day lives.

How can we stay in love with God?  Read the Bible.  Subscribe to daily devotionals.  Attend a Bible study.  Have a friend that you can talk about spiritual things with.  Mostly, stay in love with God by talking to him.  I don't mean ask him for things.  I mean the kind of prayer where we are just spending time together. Start saying thank you to God for everything that you see.  Start asking God to show you people that you can help.  Get into the practice of enjoying giving yourself to him.  Stay in love with God.

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

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

rule two

Rule two- do no harm.

There are so many ways that we hurt people.  We scowl at them or give them a dirty look.  We deride them, demean them and shame them.  Our mouths are so destructive.

We withhold our heart of love and do not help the needy - harm.  We do not support a worthy cause - harm.  You know we can't take it with us.  Here is a story- A billionaire died and went to heaven.  How much of his money did he leave behind?  Answer= All of it!

Any selfish action usually is hurting someone.  But most of what I see in terms of people hurting people is a lack of kindness.  Not respecting people.  Not listening to people.  Passing on gossip.  Saying mean things.

We can't always change how we feel inside, but we can close our mouths.  It is a start.  Let's admit that for the time being we are going to feel the same, but lets also agree to not act on how we feel.  In time, I believe our hearts can change.  Let us not give voice to the feelings.  Do no harm.  Do no harm.  Do no harm.  It's a start at making things better.

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

Monday, September 7, 2015

rule 1

John Wesley's rule number one:  Do all the good that you can. 
What does this mean?

Wesley recognized that all of our life belongs to God.  Our time, talents and treasure are his.  It is not our time, it is not our talent and it is not our money.  As soon as we recognize that God has given us these things for His purposes not ours, the journey to healthy living begins.

How much of my time am I using to help others?  And I don't mean my family.  Helping your family is fine, but it is almost self interest.  Jesus expects us to help the least of these.  How much time have we used for them?  Do all the good that you can.

Talents.  We all have them.  We are not supposed to just use them for ourselves.  How can you use the gifts that you have to do good for others?  If you are good with money you might become a financial counselor for hillcrest ministries.  If you like to cook you might make food for the Westport homeless ministry.  If you can drive, you might volunteer to take sick people to the doctor or those who can't drive, to church.

Money.  How much of it do you use for yourself?  How much of it do you use to help others?  And I don't mean your family.  Helping your family has the scent of self interest.  How much of your money do you use to help the least of these?  What percentage?  There are countless missions programs that could steer your gifts to help the needy.

So, how are we doing?  How is my life?  Am I finding the joy?  Do all the good you can.  Every day, in every way to every person.  Wesley also said, do all the good that you can to all the people that you can in every way that you can.

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

Sunday, September 6, 2015

3 rules

John Wesley had 3 rules for living.  We would do well to follow them.

rule one:  Do all the good that you can.

rule two:  Do no harm.

rule three:  stay in love with God.

Think on these three rules.  How is your life going?
It's a beautiful day in God's world be sure to see the good.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

to agree

Do you agree with a thought?  If you do, then you are likely to nod your head and feel good about life.  What if you don't agree?  We often feel unsettled and combative.

Why do you feel one way about a thing and someone else feels another way?  You were raised by your parents.  You went to your kind of church.  You read the books that you read.  That is why you agree or don't agree. 

But what about those on the other side of an issue?  What about them?  Why did their parents teach them what they did?  What did they learn at their church?  Why?  What books did they read?

There is much to learn from those with whom we disagree.  Sometimes when we learn where they are coming from, when we walk in their moccasins, we have a very different opinion of their way of looking at things.

We may not change our opinions, we may not adopt their thinking, but we can often at least understand them, and it tends to make us a little more calm when we hear things with which we, at first glance, do not agree.

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

Friday, September 4, 2015

societal changes

I am not an expert on any of this, but I do have a theory.  During the depression times, everyone worked together, you had to, to survive.  Everyone helped each other simply live. 

During WW2 a generation of Americans sacrificed to end tyranny and make the world a better place.  Things went pretty smooth after that- for a while. 

Here is my theory- as we became more affluent as a nation, we also got lazy.  Instead of sacrificing for the common good, we wanted it OUR way.  In fact, that is the burger king slogan.  We indulged in drugs and free love, and we reaped the consequences.

We want more, we expect more and we reject things that do not line up to make us happy.  We throw away spouses, we throw away churches, we throw away about anything that doesn't do it the way that we want it done.  And we are a mess mentally because we were not designed to simply be demanding consumers.

This is so the opposite of Kingdom thinking.  In the Kingdom of Jesus, we go the second mile, we turn the other cheek.  In the Kingdom of Jesus we lose our lives to find them.  A far cry from the self indulgent messages of our culture today.

What can we do?  Resist the desire for more.  Maybe we already have enough.  Resist the desire for more.  Give yourself away.  Spend yourself for the children of God.  Love all of them that you can.  Invest in every person that comes your way.  For this we were created.  Folks that live outside of themselves are pretty adept at seeing the good.

It's not too late for American and it's not too late for you and me.  We just need to start living the selfless lives for which we were created.

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

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Leonard Pitts, Jr.

This was posted in a blog by Leonard Pitts, Jr.

In faith, a baker refuses to bake a cake for a gay couple's wedding. In faith, a minister prays for the president to die. In faith, terrorists plant bombs at the finish line of a marathon. In faith, mosques are vandalized, shot at and burned. In faith, a televangelist asks his followers to buy him a $65-million private jet.

And no one is even surprised anymore.

In America, what we call faith is often loud, often exclusionary, sometimes violent and too frequently enamored of shiny, expensive things. In faith, ill-tempered people mob the shopping malls every year at Christmas to have fistfights and gunfights over hot toys and high-end electronics.

You did not hear much about faith last week when Jimmy Carter held a press conference to reveal that he has four spots of cancer on his brain.

The moral of the story is that the best moments of our faith are not combative, not hateful, and not necessarily noisy, but instead are lived out day by day in the quiet hearts of good people who just keep plugging away at loving God and loving others.

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

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

view point

One of my favorite authors is Richard Rohr.  He writes a daily devotional that is dynamite.  if you want to subscribe, here is a link

Recently he used the phrase, "every view point is a view from a point."  This reminds me that my opinions are just that.... mine.  Yours are as well.  If we put on someone else's moccasins, our viewpoint would likely change.  It is time that we stop worshipping what we think and give what we think over to God.  What would God say about our viewpoint?  What self-centeredness would he point out in it?  What arrogance?

Richard Rohr wrote -
Unless there is something strong enough to rearrange our worldview, call our assumptions into question, and also engage our heart and body.... we will seldom move to new interior or exterior places. God has a hard time getting us to join Abraham and Sarah in "leaving your country and your family for a new land that I will show you" (Genesis 12:1-2). Yet that is our foundational paradigm for the journey of faith.

The Dalai Lama said it well: "Every change of mind is first of all a change of heart." I would add: "Every change of heart is soon a change of mind." This is the urgently needed work of mature spirituality.

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Simon Sinek in his book, Leaders Eat Last says that abundance destroys value.

If you only have one apple to eat all day, and that is it, you savor that apple.  You cut it into small bites.  You spread it out.  You protect it.  You enjoy it.  You thank God for it.  You hope that tomorrow there is another apple.

But if you inherit an apple orchard, your house is full of apples.  There are so many that they cannot be harvested quickly enough.  Some of them rot on the ground.  You may even grow sick of the sweet taste of an apple.

And so when we have too much of anything, we lose an appreciation for it.   Abundance destroys value.  We waste time, money and food because we think we have too much of it.  Our lives begin to take on the characteristics of blind consumers, upset that we cannot get more.

Waste is still wrong.  I remember a saying from my hippie youth "live simply so that others may simply live."  We can probably give much of what we have to the needy, and still have plenty ourselves.  Wouldn't that be better than wasting it?

What seems like one apple among a million to you, may be the only apple that someone else is going to receive today.

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