Thursday, December 19, 2013

Building my reason to worry

When I wrote a couple of weeks ago I talked about the challenge of building my support team for our ministry in Haiti, and how much I have dreaded the task.  Last year the theme Bev and I adopted was "Walk by faith" and it has been was exciting to see how God had made those words literally come to life for us.  He has presented challenges for us to face and resources with which to face them.

God has been building my faith, so it is another step of courage to share our theme for 2014--"No reason to worry!"  Now that will require some more internal surgery by the Great Physician! Philippians 4:4-6 are the verses I quote most often and the verses I most often ignore.  Go figure.  But as we have been learning towalk by faith--largely, because we have to!--we have also discovered that the process of worrying (though still present) is beginning to diminish.

Even as I write I am aware of some of my worries--coping with the aging process, understanding semi-retirement and its quirks (and perks), building my counseling business, making good choices about my time, discovering new ministries-- I confess, I am not yet "worry-free".

But I am making progress, thanks be to God!  

The "No reason to worry" moniker will be a hard one to recite when tension is mounting and anxiety is surfacing.  But it is our prayer that as we face the challenges of once again building our support team for ministry and figuring out how to live our new life on the Central Coast to the glory of God, that we will  continue to "walk by faith"...and declare with conviction, "No reason to worry!"

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Building my team

It is not my favorite task as I work in Haiti.  But it is essential.  It is the time in the fall-winter where I have to rebuild my support team for the new year...and. admittedly, it is not my favorite thing to do.

It is not because I don't believe in the work we are doing.  On the contrary, my heart literally pounds within me when I consider the faces of the Gilbert's and the Benjamin's and the Claudel's who remind me why we go.  God is using our ministry in a humbling way as we encounter hundreds of Haitian pastors and church leaders each time we travel there to teach.  Their expressions of love, thanks and appreciation resonate in my ears when I think about the difficult task of fund-raising.

I am grateful for the faithful team of prayer warriors who stood with us each time we traveled this year.  The expressions of concern and constancy in prayer for us made it easier to go and to face the challenges that come from traveling to a third world country where the physical needs are great but the spiritual hearts of the people hungry for the Word.

I am also thankful for those who have been able to support this work financially.  In this first full year of working there God has provided our needs beyond my expectations. The greatest joy was the provision of 550 textbooks--unplanned in our budget--mostly from Facebook responses.  This alone was almost $6000 that God provided through faithful friends.

There are many needs this year--an increased budget with a  growing number of pastors--over 600 now--a vehicle for Gilbert (we depend on his mobility and communication with the pastors), and increased expenses for traveling and textbooks (we are now being assessed exorbitant custom charges on books).  It seems overwhelming, except for the team God has provided for us.

We thank you and pray for your continued participation as God directs you.  God will build His work.  That brings peace to me because His resources are unlimited!

Thursday, November 07, 2013 inescapable joy

On Sunday morning I preached twice at Grace Church in San Luis Obispo for my stepson, Tim, who    was traveling in India.  I had forgotten how much I loved teaching the Word since it had been ten months since I had actually stood before a congregation to teach the Word, apart from my ministry in Haiti back in May.

Here's what I want to affirm--when you do the thing God has made you for,you experience an inescapable joy that comes from carrying out the truth of Ephesians 2:10...

".. we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works that he planned in advance for us to do..."

I leave tomorrow for Haiti and I will have the unparalleled joy of standing before 400-500 Haitian brother pastors hungry for the Word--and be able to do what I was called to do--teach.

What give you inescapable joy?  Find out what it is by seeking God.  And obey Him.  Do it.  Serve Him.  Thank Him.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"The Ministry of Prayer"

My mother will be ninety next year...a hard fact to digest.  I never think of her as old and her mind remains as sharp as ever.

I recently was telling her how significant her contribution was to my life--and literally hundreds of others--through her faithfulness in prayer.  I write a short simple poem about this to her on Sunday afternoon after a long conversation we shared together.

The Ministry of Prayer
(from a grateful son to a praying mother)

The seasons of life
Sometimes seem unfair.
We question our worth
As we seek God in prayer.

And when we approach Him
We find Him there
Imploring us to serve Him
In the ministry of prayer.

The demands of young life
Make such ministry rare.
The priorities of life
May diminish our prayer.

Life often slows down
Less responsibility to share
But a greater opportunity 
To minister in prayer.

Others won't see it
But we really don't care
For the Father above
Sees our ministry of prayer.

I want you to know
The best gift you share
Is your faithfulness to God
In your ministry of prayer.

That's for you mom...


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What is certain?

The only thing certain, we are told is death and taxes.

Even taxes are up for debate, but, sadly, the conversation is only about how much.

Death's place, though a contradiction to our preoccupation with our subconscious presumption that "only the other guy gets cancer", appears entrenched.  Every day we hear of someone we know who has either died or is dying.

But, generally, certainty about life seems to elude us.

How often have we left for work with an agenda in mind only to discover that they tyranny of the urgent has redefined our schedule?

How many well-laid plans have had to be revamped--or scraped--last minute because of unforeseen interruptions?

How frequently have we counted on something or somebody, only, in the end, to be deeply disappointed.  "I thought I could count on him..." is a common lament in the sphere of human relationships.

My life seems terribly uncertain.  I am in a rented house currently for sale.  I have opened a new office where I am unknown.  I attend a large church where I am largely a spectator.  I am discovering the surprises of retirement and relocation almost daily.

Sounds pretty bleak.  And, occasionally, it is unsettling.

Except for the Word.  Especially the Psalms.  Many written by a man, David, whose history reflects the uncertainty of his own life--engaged in battle, hounded by the enemy, betrayed by friends, sabatoged by his own sin.  Still he writes of certainty.

"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree...planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age.  they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, 'The Lord is upright; He is my rock'....."  Psalms 92:12-15

Here's some certain take-aways for me today, following my morning devotions...
1.  Following God is a prescription for my continuing spiritual growth.
2.  Bearing fruit for God is not a function of my age.
3.  Proclaiming God's faithfulness gives certainty to my life.

You can count on death and taxes...


You can count on the certainty of God's Word!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Taking the next step...

Here's a couple of verses I have been mulling over in my mind...

"...a prudent man gives though to his steps..."  Proverbs 14:15

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."  Proverbs 16:9

"A man's steps are directed by the Lord..."  Proverbs 20:24

I have a couple of appointments in the next few hours that potentially could give direction to my next steps here in San Luis Obispo County.  I am not afraid because they are only good options, as I see it.  But I am anxious to be certain about taking the best next step.

That's my point of angst often--not the decision between good and bad (I don't always get those right but they are easier to discern), but the decision between good and best.  I guess I am hung up on that Word because we often glibly say "I want God's best for my life", presuming that it will be what I want, or that it will be the easiest path for me to follow.

It's not always so.  Sometimes the next step God directs is not the easiest.  It is not even the one we would choose...except for our conviction that God knows what is best for us--for me.

I want to make a good decision in the next few days.  Taking the next step has reminded me of the importance of prudence and remembering the One who knows best.  

An old television program was called "Father Knows Best".  That works for me.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Away from the pulpit

It has been eight months since I last preached, following my departure from Grace Fellowship.  I have been asked to preach in November at the new church I attend..  I am trying to decide. I am deciding what I want my new life to look like. (Of course, God's opinion here is most important)

It has been good to listen.  It has been instructive to pray for other preachers.  It has been less stressful to not prepare a sermon.

Being away from the pulpit has compelled me to look to other avenues for ministry and to identify other focuses.  And it has been a healthy pursuit.

I've been able to fellowship with others without feeling responsible for them.  I have been able to go to church without worrying what others will think about worship.  I have been able to go to church without worrying about who's missing.

*I'm attending a men's book study I don't have to lead and getting acquainted with other men.
*I attended a SS class my stepson taught, and and a church service where my other stepson preached--on the same Sunday.
*I sit in church surrounded by some of my grandchildren.
*I am mentoring someone who needs a pastoral mentor.
*I am practicing road biking so I can join a fellow retired pastor who has ridden over 7,000 miles the last few years.
*I am clients this week.
*I am spending more time with Beverly,a special unplanned blessing. (Maybe you should check with her)
*I am looking for people in my sphere of influence to encourage.
*I am studying the Word for personal help and guidance...not sermon preparation.
*I am getting ready to return to Haiti for the ninth time in November to help teach and train pastors.

I am away from the pulpit...but ministry continues...because life is ministry.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The "Muddled East"

The Middle East seems more like the "Muddled East" as our political system ponders what to do about the burgeoning crisis in Syria.  This has gripped me personally with greater intensity as my son, who works for the United Nations, heads for a new assignment in Beirut, Lebanon the first of October.  The anniversary of 9-11 coupled with our government's wrangling-wrestling with how to confront the apparent usage of chemical weapons by Assad against his own people make this part of the world an inescapable part of our focus.

And not surprisingly for us as believers.

The apocalyptic content of biblical prophecy points to the Middle East being at the very cynosure of events that will ultimately shape the course of human history.  Skeptics may scoff but the challenge to examine scripture and to see how poignantly the prophets warned about God's dealing with the nation of Israel from her re-emergence from relative obscurity in 1948 to a place of world prominence today is undeniable. Recent books like THE HARBINGER have caught the attention of the secular press because there are elements of truth presented that are hard to fabricate and to ignore.

I am advocating a careful read of scripture.  Prophecy is not always easy to read or obvious to interpret but books like Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah and Revelation are particularly valuable in piecing together an eschatological framework for what we are seeing as history unfolding before us.

In any case, the "Muddled East"--a region of daily-evolving crisis and change--is ours to observe, if not in the pages of scripture, certainly in the news media, in spite of its tainted perspectives.  What we decide to do--or not do--in Syria--will continue to fan the flames of the escalating crisis in North Africa and the Middle East.

My prayer is that we will find in the pages of scripture the gospel of hope that invites us to a personal relationship with the God of the universe who's "got the whole world in his hands".  It may be "muddled" to us, but it is not to Him.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The perils of road-biking and life in general

I was gifted a road bike a few weeks after I arrived...complete with clip-ons.  If you are one of the uninitiated (as I was) these are replacement pedals that require a special shoe (the pair I have cost $280 but were gifted to me as well) and enable you to stay connected to the pedal and to proportionately apply your weight and energy with greater efficiency.  When I bought these pedals (they were $85) I asked the man selling them to me if they were hard to use and adapt to...and he chuckled.

With that in mind, I set up shop in my garage and attached them, put on my new shoes and, then, "clipped in".  Except I was unsure how to get out of them (twist your heal to the side I discovered later), and so as I ventured out of the garage and tried to stop--shoes firmly and efficiently connected to new pedals--I fell.

The fall was minor; thankfully;  no one was looking to see me sprawled on my driveway looking foolish. The biggest takeaway from this painful experience was/is a lightly-sprained wrist and a new appropriate (perhaps, over-compensatory) caution as I prepare to take to the road.

Much of life seems to reverberate with a similar rhythm.  We tackle something with less than adequate preparation and the result is that we end up sidelined with newly-discovered humility and/or pain that reminds us of the foolishness of the thing we jumped into too quickly.  All too often this generates a reluctance to venture into new venues, rather then challenging us to prepare more intentionally.

Here's to getting back into the saddle (mine's a small Italian seat made for someone much smaller, I think, and requiring special much-needed riding shorts--$50) and riding--living--with new wisdom and a new appreciation for preparation.

I've not been back on my bike...yet.  I am waiting for my wrist to heal!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A view from the pew...

I am accustomed to speaking in church, not listening.  The last six months have afforded me the privilege of being a good listener....or, learning to be a good listener.

As a parishioner, I find myself coming to church with a laundry list of concerns about the week ahead, finances, relationships--all things that can dull my sensitivity to worship and the Word.  Being in the pew has helped me appreciate what the congregations I pastored had to deal with every Sunday, coming from their busy lives to worship.

I have also had to deal with the arrogant tendency to critique everything I hear; after all, I am the "veteran" of forty-six years, preaching probably over 2000 sermons over that period of time.  Such pride inhibits my ability to receive anything from the Lord and as I have humbled myself before Him I have found the preaching and teaching I have heard to be well-done, practical and challenging to me personally.  In truth, I have been drawn closer to the Lord as I have embraced the messages I have heard.

It's a good discipline for me to be in the pew, and to enjoy this season of life where I can be an intentional encourager--not critic--of those who faithfully declare the truth of God's Word.

I like the view!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Once a pastor,always a pastor

I was raised in a Christian home where my father pastored for almost forty years until his untimely death at age 66.  For forty-six years I was a pastor.  So for about 57 of my 65 years I either lived with a pastor or I served as a pastor.  You could say it's in my blood.

I'd rather say it's in my heart.

I don't have a church that I lead any more. I don't team together with a staff of people to provide guidance for a body of believers.  I don't have a group of people who see me and say "Hi, Pastor Dale" any more.  It feels different.

But I am not different.  My heart still wants to pastor.  And I've discovered that in some ways I will always have that opportunity.

I am a pastoral counselor and this morning I have two former parishioners and a former client by phone.  I really was functioning in the familiar role of sharing the Word of God with someone with an express need. As a pastor I loved doing that and I loved and cared for the flock God had entrusted to my care.

The setting is different.  The responsibilities are reduced.  I am part-time, without formal pastoral responsibility.

But my heart is still full-time.  And I am figuring out joyfully how to continue to share the wisdom of God's Word with those God sends my way.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Okay. I am 65 and retirement is generally what people do when they reach that age.

So I am trying.  Granted, I need to work some, but, for the most part, I have discretionary time--a novelty for me, and a huge challenge to use wisely.

Today I spent time with seven of my almost (November add one) twelve grandchildren and got ready for the visit of my twin brother, Dennis, and his wife, Lynn.  We are excited that they are coming--our first overnight visitors--for the weekend (we will see how one bedroom and one bathroom works out...).  This was also a week to set up my counseling office as well as to finish some projects at home.

The non-negotiables of my semi-retirement schedule are the development of my counseling business and the oversight of the work in Haiti we are doing to teach and train pastors.  I return again in November to teach NT Survey ll with two other pastors.

This leaves time for me to think about what I should do with that extra time I am not used to having...and here are some things I am working on.

1.  I have identified two sphere of influence I have that are new to me--my landlord and his yard workers who work on my yard too.  The other is my office building where four other businesses are located.  I have met everyone and am working on establishing relationships so I can share my faith.

2.  A man from the church I attend invited me to a men's discussion group that meets Tuesday mornings at 6 am.  I am thinking about it.  6 am?????

3.  Tim, Bev's son and our pastor, has asked me how much and when I want to be involved in teaching and ministering at Grace Church.  I am praying about that.

4.  One of my grandsons,  Zeke, wants cello lessons.  I can do that!

5.  Julie, my daughter-in-law, has asked me if I would be willing to teach a writing class to            home-schoolers.  Thinking about that.

Lots of opportunities that require thoughtful thinking and prayer.  How can I most effectively use my discretionary time to honor God?

I am retired, or, at least semi-retired.  But I have not retired from ministry and my heart longs for it. God provided me an opportunity to share with my new insurance agent--a one time youth minister who had a bad experience--earlier this week.  It was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my short stay here.

I am adapting...slowly...and learning ion the process that what matters most to me is finishing my life well.  How I use my time will, I hope, be a testimony to that motivation.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Getting settled in and moving forward

It's been  a season of transition and, finally, we are feeling "at home" in Arroyo Grande.  Having Beverly's two sons and their wives, as well as eight grandchildren within a fifteen mile radius, is a definite benefit, as well as the ocean which I love.

I have not kept my blog up-to-date but will continue to use it now that I am getting settled here.  My new counseling office, located at 636 Clarion Court, Suite 101 in San Luis Obispo 93401, will be opening August 26th.  I am also developing a new more functional website at and hope to be operational by September 1st.  This will be a way for my friends to access blogs and updates about our life and ministry.

Moving forward, is consistent with the motto of my coaching/counseling practice--"Forward to Fulnesss", drawing on john 10:10 and Jesus' promised intention for us to have "life, life to the full".  I am excited about new ministry opportunities ahead and know that my greatest fulfillment in life comes from serving the Lord.

Thanks for your continuing prayers for us as get settled and prepare now to move forward.

Monday, June 17, 2013

An unforgettable Father's Day

My children all live too far away for us to have invited ourselves over this Father's Day.  In any case, I always am anxious to hear from my children and often wait for the phone to ring or watch the mail box for a card.

When Bev and I awakened Saturday morning we decided a quick trip to Lake Tahoe was just what the doctor ordered.  And  the rest is history.  It was one of the best Father's Days I've ever had, even though I was away from my children.

It was special because I was with my wife who always affirms me as a father and grandfather.  It was special because we worshiped with a small church family and heard a biblical message on how to be a good father.  It was special because we hiked together in the beauty of God's creation and felt the rest and serenity of being away from the current responsibilities of packing and preparing to move.

And, yes, it was special because I heard from all of my children.

It was an unforgettable Father's Day; sandwiched in between the demands of life we took time to worship our heavenly Father midst the beauty of His creation and, in turn, He blessed us with rest and strength for the days ahead.

And today...more boxes.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Saying good-bye

I was struck again with the shortness of life--the utter surprise it is for us when someone we love dies without warning.

Two families suffered the loss of a loved one today--one, lost a grandfather, a true spiritual patriarch of his family from a tragic stroke.  Another lost their loved one from a possible overdose.  I only knew this person through my close friend but he was an "every day buddy" to him.  In any case, there is great sadness for these two families even as I write.

I am only loosely-connected with these two men but I feel connected.  I think both were my age, or a little older.  Though they were in the fall season of life, their families probably did not wake up this morning expecting them to be gone, and so quickly.

I am reminded of James' words that "life is a vapor..."  I know that.  But today it has special significance for me.

I am wrestling with some worrisome issues that seem overwhelming.  But all of a sudden they appear trivial and insignificant because they are not life and death matters--which, incidentally, I have addressed already through my relationship with God and the experience of His saving grace.  It's instructive to consider the things we allow to hold our emotions hostage, while life and death swirl around us in full and living color.

We can miss what matters if we let the little matters capture our energy and rob us of our joy.  Two families are saying "good-bye" today.  My heart aches for them.  It's an experience my forty-five years as a pastor and, specifically, four and a half years of Hospice chaplaincy remind me, for which it is difficult to prepare.

Don't miss the moments that count by being subject to the things that really don't.  Saying "good-bye" is a big deal and its reality can be embraced when the hope of eternal life is present.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Simply trusting...

An old hymn has this familiar chorus--"Trusting as the moment's fly, Trusting as the days go by, Trusting Him what'er befall, Trusting Jesus that is all..."

"Trusting Jesus, that is all..."  Now, admittedly, that seems a bit simplistic, and unsophisticated.  It sounds as if there is no element of human responsibility and we have license to just hang it all on Jesus.

"Trusting Jesus, that is all..."  In the end, that is all there is that really matters.  Good planning, careful anticipation of issues, assumption of personal responsibility--all of these things are critical and should not be abandoned or minimized.

I've done all that most of my life--planned, anticipated, assumed responsibility.  But I have learned all of that can be for naught.  In the end, our best laid plans unravel, what we could not have anticipated occurs, and what we thought we had covered is not enough.  Some thing falls through the cracks, and often, it is simply the rhythm of life with all of its nuances and idiosyncrasies that surprises us and takes our breath away.

Where do we go from here?  We got laid off and there was no failure in our job performance, and worse yet, no warning. We loved our spouse, but suddenly, without notice, we discover there is an unwelcome third party.  We make a careful investment with a recommended reliable contact, only to lose it all.  We make plans...asking God's blessing, and feeling no hesitation we move ahead, only to see them go awry. And as life seemingly spins out of control, we are left wondering where we missed the cue.

"Trusting Jesus, that is all."  What comfort is there in this?  For me, it is where I pitch my tent.  At the end of the day here is what I know.  God knows me.  God loves me (go figure...).  God will take care of me (it'ss His promise).

 I choose to trust Him.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013


John Eldredge's latest book, THE UTTER RELIEF OF HOLINESS, is a " must read" for people like me.  I confess, the title seems an oxymoron.  Maybe that's why it caught my attention.

I am convinced I-we don't understand true holiness and what God's expectations are regarding its qualitative effects in our lives as believers.  

I would like to think of myself as "a man after God's own heart" yet I suspect I am more fallen than David, the man about whom it was said.

Much of our lives are characterized by what we incorrectly call "condemnation".  Romans 8:1 declares that our position in Christ as His children means that word cannot describe what we are feeling, if not presuming nor does it define our spiritual reality.  I believe the word is "conviction"--the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is this reproof of the Word Paul references when he writes Timothy and says "all scripture is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (II Timothy 3:16,17).  Here's is what I am seeing.  Condemnation moves us only to awareness of spiritual death but conviction moves us towards affirmation of abundant life--a life of holiness.  That life is learned as we hear the Word, obey it--or disregard it--and experience the reproof and correction it offers--and then obey.  This constitutes our "training in righteousness" with this godly goal-- "that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work".  That sounds like holiness or right living ("righteousness") to me.

Eldredge suggests it is not perfect performance or sinlessness--both of which we are incapable.  Given my theological background, that's a relief when laid against the reality of my personal history.  He suggests we need to cast aside the legalism that can enslave us--as well as the presumptive license that can endanger us--and follow after God with our whole heart. 

Read more.  You may discover what I am learning.  The call to holiness is not a quantitative one--we cannot be as much holy as He is--but a qualitative one--we can be as He is in our desire to do the Father's will and to bring glory to His name.

That, thank God, is the work of the Holy Spirit within us, as we yield (our part) our lives and our will to Him.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The body of Christ meets in other places than your church...

I have had the privilege in this season of semi-retirement to visit other churches.  it has been a great informative experience for me.  From a small church in Fountain Valley, Arizona to a large mega church in Folsom, California I have learned some important lessons.

1.  The size of the church does not define the quality of worship.

2.  A large church may actually be growing for the right reasons.

3.  A church may be flourishing even though its numbers are small.

4.  The message preached as long as it is consistent with the truth of God's Word, has impact.

5.  The church has value in the community as it fulfills its divine mandate for ministry.

From large volume performance-driven bands (or so it seemed) to more traditional worship teems (sometimes boring), when my personal "taste" preferences were laid aside I was able to worship God when that was my singular focus.

It's a good thing.

When we get to heaven all that will matter is that we are there, surrounded by people from every tribe and tongue, with every kind of musical instrument and percussion system--there to worship God, the product of our common bond through the grace of the gospel extended to us.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

the wonderful world of grandchildren

Eleven grandchildren.  The Old Testament talks about a "full quiver"  I guess we have that.

A "full quivcr" of what?

 Q-UESTIONS--it's important to reveal the hidden truth--we don't know everything.  But grandchildren have inquiring minds and will ask an incredible range of questions about things that only time reveals may not be answered!  When we have the right answer, we are instant heroes and established points of reference!

U-NLIMITED POTENTIAL--it's immediately apparent in each of our eleven grandchildren that they have the capacity to accomplish great things if they will take advantage of the opportunities afforded them.  We watch them play soccer, basketball, hockey, mountain bike, dance, ride horses, play instruments, recite poetry, ride skate boards, act, sit in church, read aloud, quote memorized scripture verses...and we are amazed at what they can already do...and wonder what will they do.

I-NDIVIDUALITY--it's challenging to take note of how different each of the eleven are.  Some compliant, some strong-willed.  Some social, some more content to be alone.  Some artistic, some athletic.  Some book-worms, some "outdoorsy".  Some expressive, some quiet.  Some a combination of all of the above, depending on the situation.  But all special in their own unique way.

V-ITALITY--it's like they never get tired.  They start early in the morning and go strong until their batteries wear down at night.  Even then, they fall asleep unintentionally and have to be carried to their beds.  But throughout the day you can see it--this spark of life and freshness, and innocence fed by every new experience they encounter as they discover the world around them.-

E-FFORT--it's exciting to see how kids keep trying.  I watched one of my grandchildren try an aggressive move on the skateboard ten times in a row, falling several times,  until he got it.  And then he did it again just to make sure he got it!  Some of our grandchildren have memorized lengthy poems for school, reciting the lines hundreds of time until they get them perfectly.  Our seven year old recited a poem perfectly that I think had sixteen complicated stanzas.  He recited it aloud three times just int he few days I was with him, practicing until he perfected it.  The kids throw the baseball back and forth hundreds of times, , practice moves on their hockey skates, play repetitive scales on their instruments--this and much more with great discipline and effort.  It's just part of growing up, I guess.

R-ESILIENCE--it's soon to be learned that you can't win every game, finish first in every race,  get straight A's every report card, have everybody like you all the time, avoid conflict, obey all the rules perfectly, complete every assignment on time--sooner or later their humanity appears and they are forced to confront it--often emotionally, even tearfully.  But give them a  few minutes.  they are resilient, and in a matter of time they will reappear, ready to go at life again with a smile of anticipation.

The wonderful world of grandchildren is only surpassed by the wonderful world of grandparents.  We get to stand by and watch, and, hopefully, give counsel and encouragement.  I love that role and look forward watching my grandchildren become all that god intends for them to be.

That's my prayer.  And I think my role is to be a participant in that process as God directs me.


Thursday, April 04, 2013

Two months later

It is hard to believe two months have passed since I officially retired from my role at Grace Fellowship Church.  Here are some observations two months later...

*We just completed an eighteen day break--a retirement reward we planned for ourselves--which included a stop at the Giant's spring training (four games), a trip to Sedona and Bev's first view of the Grand Canyon. We took our trailer and enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the way.

*We have taken another step in our transition to San Luis Obispo, listing our house for sale this week,  This is a difficult step as we love Amador County but is part of our semi-retirement plan.  Eight grandchildren await us there!

*My counseling business is keeping me busy but my office lease expires June 1st; if we are still in the area I will be identifying another counseling/coaching setting.

*I continue to work for Hospice; this gives me great joy, though it is sometimes very taxing work.  I work just a  few hours each week but a provides a forum for me to utilize my pastoral training and is fulfilling for me.

*Our work in Haiti through TLC continues to grow.  I will be traveling there May 11-21, and again in August (joined by Logan) and November.  I have been recently certified to teach materials printed in French by BCTP (check out online) that will be very useful in our curriculum for our pastoral training institute.  Thanks to friends who helped provide $3500 for textbooks for our New testament Survey class. This is keeping me busy as teams traveled to Haiti in February and March, holding ten VBS's reaching over 3000 children, renovating a church-school and holding a leadership seminar for 225 pastors.

"How is retirement?" is a familiar question..  I remind my friends I am semi-retired BUT I am enjoying the freedom and discretionary time this season of life provides.

Thanks for your love and prayers; we are doing well!

Monday, March 04, 2013

Not just another missions conference...

I enjoyed our recent missions convention, the seventeenth in our history at Grace Fellowship Church, where I no longer serve as pastor--but now participate as a member of the church family.

I went because I truly love missions conferences, although they are often poorly attended and I am disappointed for the missionaries.  Except this year I was not the pastor with those concerns to manage internally.  I was a member of the church family, choosing to make a discretionary decision to attend--a Friday evening dinner, a Saturday morning breakfast and a Sunday morning worship service (All right, I confess.  We missed the SS hour).

Here were the highlights for me...

*A great presentation about multiplying the work of missions through discipleship

*A passionate challenge to be broken for the needs of those in our sphere of influence and to share the gospel with them

*An articulate message on the enveloping call of missions on every believer--using one's particular gift whether serving on a missionary field or sending and supporting others as they go

For me, it was not just another missions conference.  I was for the first time a member of our church family being challenged through the Word to obey God in some specific ways.  I am asking God what that will look like in the months ahead as I consider the needs of my family and my neighborhood.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Post-Pastoral Ponderings

Truth is, whether pastoring an actual body of believers--or not--I will always be a pastor at heart.  here's how I know that today.

*Yesterday I was awakened to pray for my former congregation and its new leadership as they prepared for the Lord's Day.

*I was in my son's church listening to him preach, and marveling in the skillful anointed sermon he prreached, as a proud step-father.

*A close friend from my former congregation died yesterday and I spoke with his son offering comfort, while at the same time rehearding in my mkind the thirty-five years of our close friendship.

*Close friends who have relocated to the SLO area, where we are visiting and evaluating a potential move, affirmed the value of life-long relationships we formulate within the body of Christ.

*I find myself going through the paces of pastoring--How is this one doing?  I wonder if they were in church?  Did he get through his surgery?  Is their son doing bettwer?  Did he get the job?  How is the cancer progressing?  And the list goes on...

I think I'll keep the blog so that when those pastoral urges surface I have a place to openly process them.  I hope you'll join me in this seaosn of my journey.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A new beginning

I will write my last blog tonight as the pastor of a congregation.  I am retiring after forty-five years of serving in this capacity,  It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to serve God and to pursue His clear calling upon my life.

On Sunday morning I will address my church family for the last time as their pastor.  I feel a myriad of emotions contemplating the task but it will be able to re-echo Paul's sentiments towards the Philippians, "I thank God every time I remember you..."

Such memories include holding a new-born baby, engaging in premarital counseling with couples about to be married,  weeping with parents over a drug-addicted teenager, presiding at the funeral of a saint, walking with a  family through relational crisis, listening to the testimony of one transformed by God's grace, leading a group of volunteers on a missionary trip, teaching eager children at a week of VBS,  stapling insulation on the walls of a new church building, staying up late to work with the elders through a church budget crisis, shooting baskets with the teens until the doctor said "Your knees are too old for that...", "rv-ing at church family camp, sitting with a wife through her husband's life-threatening surgery--these and many more experiences have dotted the landscape of pastoral ministry.  And I will never forget.

It is anew beginning for our church family --a new pastor, a fresh vision, an anticipation of continuing and growing the work we've all committed to.

And it's a new beginning for me.  Counseling, trips to Haiti, work with Hospice, some teaching--all of it springs from  a pastor's heart.  Same places...a new beginning.