Tuesday, November 25, 2008


It's a big holiday celebrated with lots of good food, family and friends. It's a great time to reconnect with loved ones and to reminisce about past times. It's a sports fan's delight--this year there are three NFL games on Thursday! It is a time when we stop for a moment, hopefully, and express our thanks to God for His goodness and faithfulness.

It is Thanksgiving! And I can't wait to join our church family in serving the needy of our community and then rush home to eat a delicious home-cooked meal (Bev is a super cook!) with my wife, four of our children and eight grandchildren!

But then--all too soon--it will be over. That food that took hours to prepare will disappear in a matter of moments! yes, there may be some leftovers to munch on the next few days, but it will be gone with alarming quickness.

And we will wait another year to celebrate..and to be thankful...?

I hope not!

The easy transition from a day to a lifestyle is to think of "Thanks-living", not "Thanks-giving". That requires the dsicipline of reminding myself that every day truly is a day to be thankful and then determining to live my life as an expression of that thanks each day.

How can I do that?

1. Begin each week with an expression of thanks for something specific in your life, i.e. family, food, clothing, work, health, etc.

2. Think of someone who is needy in any or all of those areas.

3. Do something for them that week. Pray for them, call them, visit them, give to them.

As we live out our thanks by giving to others, "Thanks-giving" and "Thanks-living" are merged together.

And this holiday becomes more than a quickly-passing day.

It becomes a way of life. Thanks-living!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


In the realm of human relationships deference is an unpracticed virtue. In the church--an arena in which I reside--the scriptural mandate is to "in honor prefer one another", a difficult assignment for any and all of us...especially when we know we are right!

The early church addressed this when Paul urged a local congregation to find a place of agreement "in the Lord" as theyw orked together, assigning them the responsibility of helping one another as an urgent task to be fulfilled as a high priority (see Philippians 4:2,3).

I shared recently with my staff a simple acrostic taht I will identify below, as a part of the actual process of derring to one another.

D-etermine to listen

E-xpect difference.

F-lex where possible.

E-nact a plan of action.

R-econcile without delay.

Listening is critical---without preparing a response in advance which is counter-productive to hearing what the other person is saying.

Expect differences--even diagreements. Our perspective are different--and even helpful--in dissecting a decision or formulating a plan.

Be flexible in a position you take, unelss it violates a principle of conscience. Sometimes we leave little "wiggle room" for matters of taste and preference.

Be prepared to act on what you share, resisting the temptation to simply leave things unaddressed while anger and bitterness accrue.

And, finally, do it quickly. Be reconciled to one another and don't allow your differences to be divisive.

We may have to defer to one another, not at the risk of coerced compromise, but through the investment of building and presevering our relationships.

Monday, November 10, 2008


People move on...when they leave the church I serve--often for a variety of reasons--I always have to process how I feel about that.. Whatever the case, I always feel bad...and sad.

A close friend is joining a parachurch organization and will spend most of his time in Alabama. It is a good thing he is doing, but I will miss him.

A family in our church who have served well will be moving to Southern California and relocating for work. It is difficult to see them leave because they are such a viable part of our church family.

That's the whole thing in a nutshell, I guess. We are family. And we hate to lose those we have come to love.

They will be missed, but they will, hopefully, make a similar impact in another part of the family of God. Though we will be for the moment sad here...we will be glad for their new home.

Good-bye and God bless!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Election reflection

It has been two days since I went to bed realizing that what I suspected was, in fact, coming true. Our country is facing new direction. How do I feel about that? My first line of response Wednesday morning to my wife as we prepared for devotions was that we should take hope in the seed of truth that Obama testifies too when he identifies himself as a "born again Christian". These are his words, not mine. When I pray for him, as we are instructed to do for all of our leaders (Romans 13). I will specifically pray that those seeds will flourish to a place of discernible and demonstrable fruitfulness as He guides our country.

I have read several "dooms day" prognostications regarding Obama's presidency that I want to counter with some hopeful, yet realistic, expectations, based on Obama's promises as a candidate for change.

1. Let's see young people who came out to vote in record numbers continue to be involved on the front lines of social action, volunteering to feed the hungry, build homes for the disabled and clean up the streets of their neighborhoods, with a new interpretation of caring for the earth.

2. Let's pray the now-enabled and energized middle class will be able to keep their houses, pay off their credit cards and demonstrate fiscal responsibility--even if it means contentment with less--in a changing economy.

3. Let's hope the now more highly-taxed upper class won't lose their desire to excel and compete,as a response to being "penalized" for making too much money, and that they will keep their businesses open for profit that employ a huge sector of the American work force.

4. Let's challenge colleges to hold the line on their expenses and costs so that our taxes aren't accelerated to fulfill the pledge to make college more affordable. Let's connect college students with work programs provided by small business men who are mutually benefited. (I worked when I went to college...)

5. Let's agree that every life lost in war is a tragedy and let's pursue the best way to bring our soldiers home without undermining the bloody cost of what already has been done. Let's pursue an orderly withdrawal and an appropriate commitment to the task that remains.

6. Let's see what can be done to control the escalating costs of health care and reduce the fraud and red tape that has paralyzed the system. Rid of the potential for bureaucratic snafus and overpaid middle men, maybe more people can manage affordable health care. Let's be careful not to remove from the health care ranks those already scraping to pay for their care because now they must now underwrite those who pay nothing.

7. Let's make sure we recognize state's rights and not ask the Supreme Court to micro-manage what individual states have sought to manage at home. For example, Californians don't need someone to rule again on whether the will of the people has legal certifiable precedence in affirming traditional marriage.

8. Let's don't be lured into a false sense of security because our preoccupation with a plunging stock market and haunting recession turned our attention for a moment away from the capricious governments of Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran (and there are more), who by their own admission would terrorize this country (and the world, as needed) with the construction of nuclear weapons (like those "not" found in Iraq).

9. Let's don't allow slumping oil prices to cause us to forget the enormous profits of companies like Exon-Mobil that continue to outrage the average vehicle operator. The oil crisis is, unfortunately, what it is manipulated to be by the fickle hand of the suppliers who control its production, and the billionaires who profit from their machinations.

10. Let's dare to dream that Obama can be more than just another presidential candidate with magnetic ideas, an enormous pocketbook, and convenient campaign rhetoric. He has set the agenda. Let's see how he does, and pray that it does not cost too much.

We have been here before.