Thursday, December 28, 2006

it's that time of year again

In just another few days 2006 will be another year completed. We will flip over the calendar and it will be a "new year".

We come to the end of this year with heavy hearts. Our church has experienced the moral failure of one of its youth personnel and we are grieving its impact on our young people, our extended church family and the community as a whole. For me, as a pastor, there is great concern, as well, for how the name of Christ and His church are perceived in the midst of such failure.

I am reminded of several things that have personally taken me to task as I scrutinize my own life.

1. What are my areas of personal vulnerability?

2. What am i doing to shore up the lines of personal defense through transparency, integrity and accounability?

3. Am I continually aware of my own daily need of God's grace and mercy?

As I look to the "new year" I am aware of my penchant for making resolutions, drawing up programs of structured phsyical and spiritual disciplines...and then leaving them behind.

However, the experiences of the past year--grinding through a church building program that took longer than we thought and dealing with serious extended family crises that hurt more than I could have imagined--have taught me something new already about my dependence upon God and my need for accountability and affirmation with others.

I see the "new year" as an opportunity to keep on doing some oft he things I have learned and to invest these lessons in my relationship with ten men ho I connect with one-on-one each week.

It's that time of year again--and although my heart is filled witha mixture of sadness and joy--I am looking forward to my continuing adventure in my walk with God.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pottery Barn chairs

We have six pottery barn chairs for sale. We list the "make" because we know some people love anything from Pottery Barn. We posted a picture of the chair and have been waiting for several days now to see if anyone can't live without our six chairs in "like new" condition...(call if interested)

"Born again" Christians. "Spirit-filled" Christians. "Evangelical" Christians. There is probably a bunch of other modifiers that are used to draw a distinctive association, I guess, with the brand of Christian in view.

It is tragic that the word "Christian" needs an adjective to embellish it or to distinguish it. The word "Christian" in and of itself should be enough. It literally means "little Christ".

But we all know that "Christian" can be used to describe anyone living in American, a person who goes to church regularly, someone who isn't pagan, a good and moral person...and the list goes on.

We need our modifiers. Otherwise, we may be talking about any old Christian, and that image is left for conjecture without the appropriate adjective.

Chairs--six of them for sale.

Not justy any old chairs. Pottery Barn chairs.

Monday, December 11, 2006


My mother was in church on the church I, pastor. I mean, she has been in church every Sunday for a hundred years, but on this Sunday she was at Grace Fellowship Church in Jackson, California. She came with my sister, Diane, which made it an even more special treat for me.

My twin brother, Dennis, pastors the church in Sotckton where my mother lives and where she faithfully attends each Sunday. My father was the founding pastor of the church, now fifty years old. Even though it has changed faces, locations--and even denominations--it is till the church begun in the frontroom of our home in 1956.

My fatrher has been gone for eighteen years but my mother has remained the steadying influence in the church so she is there every Sunday.

That is why it was such a blessing to have her with us on Sunday. She had faithfully prayed for the building of our church facility and I wanted her to see it, and to worship with us in it.

It happened on Sunday.

I was glad my mom was there.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bad feet

My friend has two bad feet; actually, they are bad ankles, brutally damaged in a horrible automobile accident over ten years ago. Multiple infections and surgeries later she still has extreme pain to deal with daily. She can hardly take a step without being reminded of that horrible day.

It is possible to be wounded deeply emotionally as well and to be so impacted by an event of the past that every thing we do is in some way influenced by that hurt.

How does one deal with deep pain and hurt? You can't cut off your feet or have an ankle transplant. You can't erase the painful memories of hurt and abuse. How do we cope with such trauma in our lives.

Consider that the event(s) under consideration have the potential of being "life-changing". That is a potentially trite, pollyannish distinction. Except for the fact, it is often true.

My friend cannot go places she once went, cannot sleep as she once slept, cannot enjoy doing many of the things she once did. Her life has changed.

Someone I know who was traumatized by an abusive father lives every day with the emotional scar tissue of being devalued by his self-indulgent behavior. She is not the same person she once was.

Life-changing? Definitely.

But my friend with bad feet has not sstopped living and caring for others; even as I talked to her today--in the middle of accelerated pain--she was thinking about a mutual friend undergoing catastrophic surgery. She would call me tearfully minutes later to report the surgery's success, and rejoice that everything was okay.

My other friend with the heavy family trauma prayed with me over the phone a few months ago during a personal time of emotional upheaval. Her acquaintance with deep family crisis ministered to me in a unique way as she prayed from the depths of her own experience with a faith that buoyed mine.

Bad feet.


Bad memories.


But life-changing lessons passed on to others, while they still limp, and sometimes weep.