Monday, November 30, 2015

Reflections on Thanksgiving

Last week I was able to spend a few days with my wife, all of my children, my daughter's boyfriend, and my mother in law.  We had a delightful time.  [and you were expecting a mother in law joke]

Yes there were games, and laughter, there were jokes and discussions.  There was turkey, dressing, potatoes and the like.  There was the annual apology for some part of the dinner that did not meet the cook's expectations.

Looking back on the 2015 Thanksgiving, I am reminded of an old saying, "people are more important than ideas."  Sometimes in a moment, we argue about spending money, shopping, saving money, politics and such.  But if the people in our lives were gone, who would we talk to?  Who would we spend time with?  Isn't it silly to argue in the first place?  If I don't agree with something that a loved one thinks, why is that my concern anyway?  Do I want to drive them away?

People are more important than ideas.  The opportunity to sit at a table with loved ones, share old memories, and make new ones is indeed a great privilege.  I am thankful for my family.

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

Sunday, November 29, 2015

When in doubt, go!

I have been reading some sermon illustrations, and I found some that were very good, but not really fitting my sermon. Here is one about missional living:

One summer, a man spent the day on the beach in Jacksonville, Florida. The undertow was unusually strong that day, and more than once, lifeguards jumped down from their towers to rescue swimmers from the treacherous surf. Finally, the man went to the lifeguard station to express his appreciation for the dedication of these men. When he walked inside, he noticed a sign on the wall in large red letters: "If in doubt, go!" And the man said, "Those same words should be on the walls of every church and on the wall of every person's soul."

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

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Never give up

Mexico City, 1968 -

Out of the cold darkness he came. John Stephen Akhwari, of Tanzania, entered at the far end of the stadium, pain hobbling his every step, his leg bloody and bandaged. The winner of the Olympic marathon had been declared over an hour earlier. Only a few spectators remained. But the lone runner pressed on. As he crossed the finish line, the small crowd roared out its appreciation. Afterward, a reporter asked the runner why he had not retired from the race, since he had no chance of winning. He seemed confused by the question. Finally, he answered: "My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish."

I love this story. Never give up.

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

Friday, November 27, 2015

Turkey Jokes

Because everyone needs a little humor from time to time - -

 If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?

If the Pilgrims were alive today, what would they be most famous for?
Their AGE

Why can't you take a turkey to church?
Because they use such FOWL language

What are the feathers on a turkey's wings called?
Turkey feathers

Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building?
Yes - a building can't jump at all

What do you get when you cross a turkey with an octopus?
Enough drumsticks for Thanksgiving

What kind of music did the Pilgrims like?
Plymouth Rock

Why did they let the turkey join the band?
Because he had the drumsticks

Which side of the turkey has the most feathers?
The outside
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A prayer on Thanksgiving Day

Dear Father,

Thank you.  On this day that our culture has set aside for giving thanks, we want to thank you.  Thank you for flowers, for trees, for the warmth of the sun and the stars at night.  Thank you for the cold weather that makes me appreciate Spring.  Thank you for my friends.  Thank you for every person that has ever loved me.  Thank you for the feeling of goodness that I have when I see a friend.

Thank you for relatively good health.  Thank you for the ability to see, to hear, to taste and smell.  Thank you for all of the things that are going on in my body with out my knowledge:  digestion, breathing, and rest at night.  Thank you for the way that my body parts work in concert, all at the same time to perform various tasks.

Thank you for the stress that I feel and the problems that I have.  Although I sometimes wish that they would go away, they actually keep me grounded in prayer.

Thank you for the food that we are about to consume.  Please bless it.  May none of it go to waste, and as we enjoy our bounty that you have provided, may we be ever mindful of our friends around the world who will not have a feast today.  Motivate us to bless them, help us to hear your call to take a cup of water in your name.

Father, give us a heart that longs for you.  Give us a heart that sees the good.  Give us a heart that believes that in spite of the current news, this is our Father's world.  Thank you for all that you are, and all that you do.

Thank you so much for everything.  Thank you Father.  Amen

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

G.K. Chesterton

Gilbert K. Chesterton 1874-1936
     Chesterton was a brilliant man.  He had no college degree, but was known as a brilliant orator.  When we came to town, the halls were packed.  Everyone wanted to hear what he had to say.  He spoke many eloquent words on gratitude.

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. –Gilbert K. Chesterton

There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person. –G. K. Chesterton

The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them. –Gilbert K. Chesterton

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. –G. K. Chesterton

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs? ~G.K. Chesterton

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. –G. K. Chesterton
WOW!!!!!!!!!!! I love it.

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Value.  Valuable. 

We think it is contained in fancy cars or homes.  We think it is held in a large bank account.  But imagine those things with no one to share them with.  Imagine that you make a million dollars, drive a BMW and live in a mansion, but have no friends.  You would be missing one of the most important parts of life.

In fact, if I gave you a choice of having enough to get by and a ton of friends, or lots of money and no friends, eventually I think we would all chose to have less stuff and more friends.  Yesterday I wandered around church and my eyes opened and I simply saw so many of the people that I value so much.

It feels so good to have people that we love in our lives.  Thank you for being among them.

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

Monday, November 23, 2015

Amazing Life

A friend sent me this.  She read it and thought of me.  I love to think of how many friends that I have.  I am truly rich in friends.  This  is a great thought.

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

Sunday, November 22, 2015


I am thankful today for friends.  I am talking about the people that look into your eyes and read you.  They can tell if you are up or down.  They laugh with you and they hurt with you.  They love you in a way that goes beyond male or female - it is a thing of the soul.

And then I think, I remember that every single one of my friends that are this kind of friend, I met them all at the same place:  church.  Woods Chapel Church.

And today is Sunday! I get to go and see my very best friends.  Thank God for friends!  I hope to see you in God's house today.

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

Saturday, November 21, 2015

the joy of generosity

One of our Financial Peace University teachers shared this delightful story......

We had our last FPU class last night.  It was a great class, and most of the people came every week, and got a lot out of it!  My husband and I really enjoyed facilitating this class once again- it is a way we can pay forward all we have learned from it over the years.

I wanted to share one story.  Last night, the topic was The Great Misunderstanding- talking about giving (tithing, offerings, donating, helping people in all ways).  After the video, we had a great discussion, and one of the questions was "how have you helped someone else that made a big impact on you?"  The class was very quiet, so my husband & I shared a couple stories about how we have helped others and were blessed by it, and also how we have also been blessed by others when we were in a tough place.  One 20-something husband said he was embarrassed that no one had stories to share, and he wanted to start giving.  Another lady said that she has helped family members, but never strangers.  The discussion was very encouraging for working toward living a life of giving to others.  Later, when class was over, everyone left and we were cleaning up.  The 20 something husband and his wife hung back and came to ask us for the address of one of the attendees who sat at their table each week.  She was a single mom, who has been struggling, and has not yet been able to save up her $1,000 emergency fund (baby step 1).  This husband and his wife wanted to anonymously fund this single mom's emergency fund!!!  He didn't want to mail it, and thought they would deliver it to her.  We don't have her address, but will try and find a way to help him do this.

This totally made our whole night, and was well worth the time spent doing this class.  We can't do it during the winter months, but ask us again next fall if you need someone to lead the class again.  Thanks for the opportunity to give back!  I love our church.  

I love our church too.
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, November 20, 2015


"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."
                                                                          Albert Schweitzer

I am so very thankful for those who lift me up when I am down. For the God who understands our frame, how we are made and our brokenness. I am thankful for the joy that I feel when I am around friends from church.  I hope you have those in your life that buoy your spirit.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Today I am thankful for sleep.  I covet sleep.  I wish I was better at it.  What a wonderful gift it is to sleep.  During sleep our minds solve problems.

Last week I was upset about something and somehow, in the middle of the night, it got resolved.  The argument in my brain about the situation was healed.  I love it when that happens.  I woke up, and I just knew that it would be ok, and it turned out that it was!

To sleep is to rest, and resting is good.  Sleep renews us for another day.  On a related note, I love the notion of laying your head down on the pillow with a clear conscience.  It is so nice to go to bed, considering your life, and feel happy that all is well, or at least that you have made the best choices possible.

May you and I go to bed on time, fall asleep right away, and snooze all night.  May God grant us the gift of sleep [not during the sermon.]  I am thankful for the gift of, the miracle of sleep.

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Today I am thankful for "normal religion."  I grew up on heavy religion.  It was certainly... well, heavy.  Manipulation, guilt, heavy language, rigid thinking, my way or the highway.  Watch out or you are going to hell.  No one that I grew up with ever showed the joy of the Lord.  They were all too worried, they were too scared, because their lives were heavy.

Thank God that somewhere along the way, we actually learned that Jesus loves us.  Faith does not have to be heavy.  True spirituality is never heavy.  God does not need guilt or manipulation to reach people. 

Children loved Jesus.  They flocked to him.  Children don't flock to heavy, guilt laden people.  Jesus was normal, approachable, and kind.  He hopes that his followers will be as well.  Joy to the world!  We can believe in Jesus and not be heavy.  The world needs normal Christians, just regular folks that go about sharing God's love.

I am thankful that we can simply live a life of love and joy.  And that is enough.

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

on a lighter note

After a week of posts on pain, here is a lighter moment. I am thankful for lighter moments.

A friend send this to me.

* If you took the same excuses that people use for not going to church and apply them to washing hands, you'd realize how inconsistent we can be.

1. I was forced to as a child.

2. People who make soap are only after your money.

3. I wash on special occasions like Christmas and Easter.

4. People who wash are hypocrites-they think they are cleaner than everyone else.

5. There are so many different kinds of soap, I can't decide which one is best.

6. I used to wash, but it got boring so I stopped.

7. None of my friends wash.

8. The bathroom is never warm enough in the winter or cool enough in the summer.

9. I'll start washing when I get older and dirtier.

10. I can't spare the time.

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

Monday, November 16, 2015


Today I am thankful for God's marvelous works fo creation.  The things that God has made show the amazing side of God's imagination.  The zebra, the clown fish, whales, guppies, turtles, and a thousand other animals exist that are just plain beyond human thought.  God however is bigger and larger and incredible.  What he invents is down right fascinating.

In Kansas City you might find squirrels in your front yard, or an occasional deer.  My wife sent me this picture of her recent visitors to the Florida house.

These long legged cranes are very noisy and are yet another picture of God's ability to create things that are stunning and wonderful.  What is hanging around in your life that is beautiful or amazing that we might be missing or taking for granted?  All of creation is telling us about God's wonder if we would just open
our eyes and see it.

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

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Today I am thankful for the transformation that simply being grateful can make in a persons life.  You know I believe it so strongly, "If you can find one thing to be thankful for, it will change the course of your entire day." Or the course of your entire life for that matter.

Gratitude takes us from being a victim of circumstances to being a liver of life, truly alive in this world.

      "Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."  William Arthur Ward

Join me in worship today and spend some time giving thanks to almighty God.

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

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Well, someone that I am very connected with called a couple of days ago.  They wanted me to know that there are a couple of rumors floating around.  The first is that Jeff has been offered and has taken a job in Florida.  NOT TRUE.  The second is that Michael Scott is leaving WCC.  Not true as far as I know.  Call Michael Scott and ask him.  But I don't think that is true.  I am not even going to justify it with a comment.

Now, let me be clear......... yes my wife and two daughter are in Florida, but I have not received or accepted any job offers.  Yes my life is torn between two places, but I am still here.  I will be sure to let you know if and when any of that changes.

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

Friday, November 13, 2015

pain - the end of the matter

There is no end to the matter.  At least not in this life.

If you are fortunate to have a life that is free from the VERY painful things.......
You know, if your life looked like this........ you were loved, you were married, you didn't experience a divorce, you had kids, they were healthy, they all grew up and got good jobs, all of your loves ones lived a long full life and died in their sleep...... or what ever our picture of the perfect life is like....

If you lived that magical life that most people say that they want, you are still going to find pain.  Eventually.  If you live long enough, your skin is going to get thin.  You are going to bump your arm on a corner and get a bruise.  Your ears are going to keep growing and get larger than you are comfortable with.  Hair will stop growing on your head and will grow instead out of your ears.  Your bones will begin to become brittle.  Your energy levels will fade.

In this life, if you live long enough, you are going to find pain.  Period.  Those who say otherwise are selling something.  Trusting God does not make difficulty go away.  The Shepherd is not a magic problem solver, but he does promise to walk with us in the valleys of life.

The question is what do we do with the pain that comes our way. 
What ever is on your plate, I encourage you to grieve, but I also encourage you to be brave.  Mostly, I encourage you to lean into our Father.  It's ok to have questions about the level of difficulty that you face in this life.  It is ok to be angry about things, but don't stay stuck there. 

Our God is a friend who comforts us in difficulty.  Let's acknowledge the pain, and learn to look past it, to see him with us at all times and in all things.

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

Thursday, November 12, 2015

sandlot theology - all things

Warning - this may upset some of your brains........
One of my pet peeves is when people use Philippians 4 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" for personal comfort or personal gain.

I hear them quote it to win a football game.  I can do all things through Christ.  I can work harder, I can defeat the other team.   I hear them quote it to overcome a difficulty.  I hear them quote it as if the point of the passage was the ability to find God's power to get what you want and to bring circumstances to your liking.

While God has lots of power to help with lots of things, and he may just help you win the prize, that is not the point of this scripture.  I can do all things through Christ is not a magic formula that changes bad situations to good.  It is not our will power added to God's special powers that magically eliminates undesirable circumstances.

If a person actually reads the passage, this is what is says....."I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him [all things through Christ KJV] who gives me strength."  Philippians 4:11-13

What Paul is saying is that I have had lots of troubles.  I still do.  I have good days and bad ones.  Happy times and sad.  I have learned in all of them to be content.  I can do this, I can acclimate to all situations through Christ who gives me strength.

It is not a hiding from or running from difficulty, it is a leaning into the difficulty.  It is a trusting God enough so that I can handle the difficulty.  It is not removing the problem, but it is in fact the opposite -  it is finding contentment in adversity.

God is big enough to help us be ok in difficulty.  Having God with us in this life is much more valuable than having circumstances go our way.  When Christ is with me, I can do, I can deal with all things, whether the circumstances change to my liking or not.  And I can do this, because I have come to know a God that is bigger than any difficulty.

That is why it is a beautiful day in God's world if we simply work to see the good.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

the rabbit and the crocodile

Part of me hates this story and part of me loves this story.  It surely exists in many forms and in many writings.  I found it first in an Anthony deMello book.  Warning- pain ahead......

When you awaken, when you understand, when you see, the world becomes right. We're always bothered by the problem of evil. There's a powerful story about a little boy walking along the bank of a river. He sees a crocodile who is trapped in a net. The crocodile says, "Would you have pity on me and release me? I may look ugly, but it isn't my fault, you know. I was made this way. But whatever my external appearance, I have a mother's heart. I came this morning in search of food for my young ones and got caught in this trap!"

So the boy says, "Ah, if I were to help you out of that trap, you'd grab me and kill me."

The crocodile asks, "Do you think I would do that to my benefactor and liberator?"

So the boy is persuaded to take the net off and the crocodile grabs him.

As he is being forced between the jaws of the crocodile, he says, "So this is what I get for my good actions." And the crocodile says, "Well, don't take it personally, son, this is the way the world is, this is the law of life."

The boy disputes this, so the crocodile says, "Do you want to ask someone if it isn't so?"

The boy sees a bird sitting on a branch and says, "Bird, is what the crocodile says right?" The bird says, "The crocodile is right. Look at me. I was coming home one day with food for my fledglings. Imagine my horror to see a snake crawling up the tree, making straight for my nest. I was totally helpless. It kept devouring my young ones, one after the other. I kept screaming and shouting, but it was useless. The crocodile is right, this is the law of life, this is the way the world is."

"See," says the crocodile. But the boy says, "Let me ask someone else." So the crocodile says, "Well, all right, go ahead."

There was an old donkey passing by on the bank of the river. "Donkey," says the boy, "this is what the crocodile says. Is the crocodile right?"

The donkey says, "The crocodile is quite right. Look at me. I've worked and slaved for my master all my life and he barely gave me enough to eat. Now that I'm old and useless, he has turned me loose, and here I am wandering in the jungle, waiting for some wild beast to pounce on me and put an end to my life. The crocodile is right, this is the law of life, this is the way the world is."

"See," says the crocodile. "Let's go!"

The boy says, "Give me one more chance, one last chance. Let me ask one other being. Remember how good I was to you?" So the crocodile says, "All right, your last chance."

The boy sees a rabbit passing by, and he says, "Rabbit, is the crocodile right?"

The rabbit sits on his haunches and says to the crocodile, "Did you say that to that boy? The crocodile says, "Yes, I did." "Wait a minute," says the rabbit. "We've got to discuss this." "Yes," says the crocodile. But the rabbit says, "How can we discuss it when you've got that boy in your mouth? Release him; he's got to take part in the discussion, too." The crocodile says, "You're a clever one, you are. The moment I release him, he'll run away." The rabbit says, "I thought you had more sense than that. If he attempted to run away, one slash of your tail would kill him."

"Fair enough," says the crocodile, and he released the boy. The moment the boy is released, the rabbit says, "Run!" And the boy runs and escapes. Then the rabbit says to the boy, "Don't you enjoy crocodile flesh? Wouldn't the people in your village like a good meal? You didn't really release that crocodile; most of his body is still caught in that net. Why don't you go to the village and bring everybody and have a banquet."

That's exactly what the boy does. He goes to the village and calls all the men folk. They come with their axes and staves and spears and kill the crocodile. The boy's dog comes, too, and when the dog sees the rabbit, he gives chase, catches hold of the rabbit, and throttles him. The boy comes on the scene too late, and as he watches the rabbit die, he says, "The crocodile was right, this is the way the world is, this is the law of life."

There is no explanation you can give that would explain away all the sufferings and evil and torture and destruction and hunger in the world! You'll never explain it. You can try gamely with your formulas, religious and otherwise, but you'll never explain it. Because life is a mystery, which means your thinking mind cannot make sense out of it.

[I edited the next line, from deMello to soften it up a bit.... ]
If we would make sense out of  life we must wake up and then you'll suddenly realize that reality is not problematic, my understanding of it is problematic.  I want to fix it, instead of working on me.  Difficulty will come.  What will  I do with it?

In the movie the Princess Bride, Cary Elwes say, "Life is pain, Highness!  Anyone who says differently is selling something."

Let's be honest.  HONEST.  Some people have a little pain in life, some have lots.  Some deal with it bravely, some weep over a hangnail.  Part of the journey of maturity is to learn to lean into God and trust him no matter what the circumstances.

I talked with my daughter about this post.  She found it depressing.  Well, I don't want to depress anyone, but life can be hard and pain is real.  I don't believe in pretending, but I do believe in pointing people towards God.  Especially in difficulty.  God is with us.  What more do we need?  Sometimes things are difficult.  There are valleys.  But in the valleys, we always find the Shepherd.

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

thankful for pain

Is it wrong to be thankful for pain?  It sure seems to go against the grain. 

There is some pain that I will never be thankful for.  I will never be thankful that my son was sick, only thankful that he got well. 

But there are many painful things that I am thankful for:
  • I am thankful for gray hair and a balding head.  It means that I am getting older, and getting older is better than not.
  • I am thankful for people who have hurt me.  Sometimes I deserved it, but even when I didn't these experiences have taught me a good deal about forgiveness.
  • I am thankful for chances that I have had to visit the inner city and other countries.  what I saw there was painful, but it also made me more compassionate and more appreciative.
  • I am thankful for the illnesses that I have had.  They have reminded me to appreciate every single day.
  • I am thankful for the things that have not gone my way.  They have taught me to trust in God. 
  • I am thankful for the many bumps along the road.  They have taught me to be tenacious and keep going.
Pain or not, it is still a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The problem of pain

I am going to write this week on the problem of pain.  I have posted this before, but it is well worth remembering from time to time.  I tend to forget important things.

This is a reminder to me and to all of us that sometimes we just need to close our mouths.  Our words add nothing to many situations, and sometimes our words make things worse.

Here are some things that should not be said to someone that is grieving.  Simply let them grieve.  It is ok to grieve.  We need to grieve.  Just be there with them.  The ministry of just being present is so important.

What you should never say to others who are grieving. This is the uncut, unedited version and I am very sorry for much of it.

from The New York Times, December 7, 1999.
To a 60-year-old recent widow: Don't worry. You're young and attractive; you'll find someone else. To a woman whose husband died of lung cancer: You have to meet this man. His wife also died of lung cancer. To a man whose 26-year-old daughter died of AIDS: If she hadn't been that way, God wouldn't have struck her dead with AIDS, and It was just a purification thing. To a woman who suffered a miscarriage: It is probably for the best. To a woman whose 25-year-old son was killed by a drunken driver: At least you have four other children. To a man whose elderly mother died: Oh, well, 79. To a young man whose 19-year-old brother died of cancer: I know how you must feel losing a brother. And to the boy's mother: I know it's not the same, but I really empathize because I lost my dog. To a woman whose husband committed suicide: Are you going to get a dog now?
-Jane E. Brody, Mourning, a time when words often fail,
The New York Times, December 7, 1999.

Here are some other things that I have personally heard – not helpful
1. It must have been their time
2. Everything happens for a reason
3. God doesn't put more on us than we can take [actually based on a scripture, but still not helpful.]
4. It was gods will

May we all remember to guard our tongues. May we remember that the gift of our presence, the gift of a hug, the gift of food. Is the best gift in times of pain.

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

Sunday, November 8, 2015


I am going to write this week on the problem of pain.  Some of what I write this week may bother your brain.  Sometimes our brains need to be bothered.  I believe that there is a good deal of sandlot theology out there in the Christian world, and certainly a lot of it on the issue of pain in the world.  Sandlot theologies are beliefs that people pick up randomly along the way.  They are ideas that we run across that we collect for some reason, that don't work well when put under the pressure of real life. 

Good theology makes sense.  It points people away from pat answers and back to God.  There is no magic pill in this life, only God.

We all have pain, we all experience pain.  Sometimes there are no good answers and our best hope is to lean into our heavenly Father.  Actually that is all that we ever really have, is the experience that even in our brokenness, we are complete in him.  Let go of your platitudes and rest in him.

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

Saturday, November 7, 2015


A few weeks ago we had an event at church that was sponsored by the group "Something to Eat."  Their name comes from the phrase in Mt. 25 "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat."

I wrote about this event in a blog post on Saturday, September 26th.  Here is the post if you want to read it.,000

We will be having another one of these food packing events pretty soon. 

I am writing today about a quote that I heard that day in one of their videos.  A young man was considering his life and his standard of living in comparison to those who have so little.  He said, "I have come to believe that having more than you need is just as bad as having less than you need."

This is quite a thought to ponder.  When you don't have enough, you are hungry and thirsty and lonely and sick.   When you don't have enough, you simple want food.  When you have too much, you start to feel entitled.  You easily fall into a life of enjoyment.  We can forget our responsibility to help others.  When we have too much we can insulate ourselves from so many things that really matter in this life.  We get upset over the smallest things.  We want everything.  We can never get enough.... and we have so much.

I have come to believe that having more than you need is just as bad as having less than you need.

It is a beautiful day in God's world, and we have more than we need.  How can we use our abundance to bless others?

I was hungry and you fed me.... How can I use what God has given me to bless others?  How can you?  Jesus is going somewhere.  Am I going with him?  Am I allowing him to drag my brain out of it's current paradigm into one where I am on a mission in this life with him?

Friday, November 6, 2015


On Sunday, October 25th I wrote a post about why I go to church.  Here were some of my reasons:

1.  I love to take time to honor God.
2.  It is a great way to start the week.
3.  I usually learn something.
4.  I meet great people.
5.  I am a part of something that is doing very significant work.
6.  Together we can do much more than what I can do alone.
7.  I get to care about others.  And in a world of self-centeredness, that is very important.

Someone wrote a comment to that post:
And the paycheck surely comes in handy. (smiles)

I receive this comment with warm appreciation.  And I want to comment on it.

Yes I do receive a paycheck.  I think we always like to get paid.  Whether I was working at the Bicycle shop, the Shoe store, the asphalt company or a church, I was always glad for payday.  Work is an important part of life.  We all need to learn to work, and how to manage our money.  We also need to learn to see our money as a blessing from God that is to be managed for his purposes, not simply for our pleasure.

So, yes I am glad for a paycheck.  But I want to tell you this...... if for some reason all churches have to close, or it becomes illegal to pay pastors, I will keep doing what I am doing.  I love being a pastor.  I may have to take another job to pay the bills, but I am never going to stop caring about people and doing everything that I can to be a part of Jesus' work.  There is a reward in loving others that is bigger than a paycheck.  I hope you feel it too.

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

Thursday, November 5, 2015

what is Jesus doing?

What do we find Jesus doing?  He is going somewhere.  To some town, to somebody's house.  He is going somewhere with a story.  His disciples go with him.  They follow him.  They physically follow him on a journey and they mentally follow him as he teaches them new ways to think.

Turn the other cheek.
Take up your cross.
Go the second mile.

Christians are called Christ followers because they are following Jesus.  Not just going to church and then going back to their lives, but going where Jesus went.  Christ followers follow Jesus and he is going somewhere.

Are you going somewhere?  Are you allowing Jesus to take you to the next town?  Are you seeing the mission field?  Do you see someone to care about?  Are you following him in your brain?  In your heart?  Are you letting him stretch you?

If we are stuck in the same place, then we are not following Jesus.  He is on the move.  He is going somewhere.  Fortunately it is not too late for us to catch up.  When we begin to listen for his voice, really listen, he will lead us out of our complacency, out of our comfort zone and into mission with him.

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

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Today I am thankful for memory and memories.  I find myself forgetting more and more lately, and so memory is quite a gift. 

Memory makes us smile and time seems to wash the pain away from our worst memories.  Lessons from the past are codified by our memories of them.

When I was 14 I entered a chess contest at the local library.  There were kids ranging in age from 8-16.  I was one of the oldest ones there.  They paired us randomly for our first match.  I was assigned a 10 year old.  A little tiny guy who looked a bit like Harry Potter.  That may explain what happened next.  Although I was sure that I was going to beat the child in this game of wits and strategy, he ended my day in 5 moves.

I was surprised!  Checkmate!  Oh my, and by such a child.  My mother had barely left the parking lot when I was calling her to return to pick me up.

Ahh the memories of life.  The ones that humble us will teach us if we will listen to them.  Jeff, you aren't as smart as you think, and Harry Potter is good at chess.

Today I am thankful for memories.

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

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Today I am thankful for prednisone, although I will blame my recent weight gain on it.  My weight gain has nothing to do with ice cream or pizza.........

Last week I finished up a three week regiment of prednisone.  I had another flare up of my sarcoidosis.  Prednisone knocks it out.  For more info read here:

I don't like telling people about things like this, but it usually gets out and then I end up in trouble with some folks for not telling them.

So I guess what I am really thankful for is health.  Relatively good health.  It is such a blessing to be alive.

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

Monday, November 2, 2015


Today I am thankful for who ever it was that taught me that I am not always right.  [It was not an easy job.]  When we think about Biblical interpretation, it is really important for us to remember that we are not as smart as we think we are.  We are not right and everyone else wrong.  That is not spirituality, but arrogance.

So many people toss around words like literal and inerrant, as if the Bible itself was to be worshipped.  The real problem with interpretation is that we interpret the Bible to our comfort.  Our brains naturally look for the understanding of scripture that justifies my life, my habits, my standard of living and my prejudices.

Jen Hatmaker in her book Interrupted describes the day when she awoke to see that she had been looking at the Bible all wrong........

     " I still can’t believe it, but I managed to attend church three times a week as a fetus, fulfill the pastor’s kid role, observe every form and function of church, get swallowed whole by Christian subculture, graduate from a Baptist college, wed a pastor, serve in full-time ministry for twelve years, become a Christian author and speaker – and misunderstand the main point. I am still stunned by my capacity to spin Scripture, see what I wanted, ignore what I didn’t, and use the Word to defend my life rather than define it. I now reread treasured, even memorized Scriptures and realize I never understood what they really meant. " Pg 5

     "I developed a spiritual form of [bulimia] where I did my devotions, read all the new Christian books and saw the Christian movies, and then vomited information up to friends, small groups, and pastors. But it never had the chance to digest. I had gorged myself on all the products of the Christian industrial complex but was spiritually starving to death. I was marked by an over consumption but malnourished spiritually, suffocated by Christianity but thirsty for God." Pg 10

If your Christianity isn't talking you out of your comfort zone, if you are a Bible expert instead of being humbled by scripture, then it may be time to put on a new set of reading glasses.

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

Sunday, November 1, 2015

All Saints Day

Today, November 1st is All Saints Day.  It is traditionally a day when Christians remember those loved ones who have gone before us.

This month, I am going to mention thankfulness or gratitude on every post, every day.  I am going to force myself to find something to be thankful for.  It should not be that hard.

Today, among many other things, I am thankful for my Parents.  They were not perfect.  They were children of the depression.  They had a hard life.  They wasted nothing.  They did not tolerate  anything that smelled like disrespect.  Boundaries were kept very firm between a parent and a child.  Questions were frowned upon.

But, they loved us, they cared for us, they fed us and they protected us.  They got us through college and they survived our craziness.  [we were children of the 60's and 70's]

They gave me a chance at life.   I know that they loved us and if they had the chance today would tell us that they are proud of us.

I hope that you have parents or mentors that helped launch you.  Although not perfect, where would we be today without them?

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