Thursday, July 20, 2006

"In everything give thanks...."

I am thankful for:

1. A loving God who forgives, forgets and showers more Grace on me than I deserve.

2. A loving wife who has stayed with me for more than 25 years, through many moves, ups and
downs, good times and bad... Pam is the love of my life.

3. Four wonderful children, all of whom love God and love their parents and siblings. That is all
that we ever really asked of them.

4. Two Son-in-laws, both of whom have shown that they love God and have the desire and
capacitiy to love our daughters. Nathaniel and James are blessings from God

5. A mom and dad who are showing me that retirement is possible and can be really good. I
have a long ways to go, but I love the life they are living. They are doing it right.

6. Hot weather.... I know that sounds strange when it is over 100 for the 5 th straight day, but I
like the heat.

7. Air Conditioning.... What did they do before A/C?

8. A loving church. The expressions of love and anticipation of my return have bouyed my
spirits and motivated me to work even harder at my recovery.

9. Friends. I have lots of friends.... from those who mow my grass, to those who play golf with
me, to others who invite me to be a part of their Fantasy Football league, to others who have
been there for talk to , to vent, and to share my life with.

10. Exercise. I have grown to love exercise. The benefits are obvious.

11. Football season... It is almost here, which means that Baseball is more than half over, fall is
coming soon, and Saturdays get much more interesting.

12. My return is coming soon. I am trying not to rush it... but I am sure looking forward to the
day when I can preach again,and join my friends on the staff in the greatest work in the

What are you thankful for? Sometimes it does alot of good to list it out... Remember, "In everything be thankful."

Monday, July 17, 2006

Random thoughts...

I am back from a month long period of travel. I spent about 2 1/2 weeks on the road with Pam, in Florida, Tennesee, and Kentucky. Then about 10 days in Oregon with my folks. Great times !

I did alot of reading while away from home. I read a statement in a book that really caught my attention. The baisc premise of the statement was that the "church has been guilty of being more known for what we are against, than what we are for" in this culture. I have let that incubate in my heart alot over the past few weeks. I think in large part it is a true statement. Outsiders often view us in a very negative light. They hear that we are against abortion, against pre-marital sex, against materialism, against, against, against.

But what are we for? Well I am for anything that points people to Jesus. Read the gospels and look at how Jesus approached the culture. He did not tear down the culture around him, and criticize it. He just offered a different way. The Kingdom of God way. In his "model prayer", Jesus said " Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." John Ortberg has spoken a great deal on this. He sums up that statement by saying, "Make up there come down here...." I think that was Jesus' way. He told the woman at the well that there was a better way to worship. He told Zaccheus that there was a better way to live, and to be generous. He told the disciples that living by faith was better than having everything figured out ahead of time.

What are we for? We are for the poor being fed. We are for the sick being healed. We are for people finding lasting meaning that goes beyond this life. We are for kindness, gentleness, peace in the world. We are for understanding of other viewpoints, all the while maintaining a committment to the truth of the scriptures. We are for lifting people up, not tearing them down. We are for patiently waiting for someone to take a step of faith. We are for seeing people surrender their lives to Christ and being born again.

There are lots of things that we are for. And we don't need to cut each other down, just because someone approaches things different than we do. Here is what I am getting at.

I was going to attended a specific church this Sunday. I had not been there, and it had been on my list to attend this summer. I got on thier website and read the welcome from the Pastor. It started out okay... but then it degenerated into a criticism of the church in America. One comment really turned me off... A comment about "Are you tired of going to a church where it is the latest fad of the week, and where the preacher is a "David Letterman wannabe?" The implication was that "the way we do church is the right way and if you want to be right, then you should be at our church." Turned me off... so I did not go. I can't go to a church that in one breath says it wants to preach the gospel, but does it by appealing to people of other churches, implying that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

A couple questions.... One, what does the non-believer see when he reads that? Two, why do we have to tear others down, in order to build ourselves up? That is the human condition I suppose, but it is distasteful. I have no doubt that this church is doing some really great things... but they don't need to criticize others who use different methods to reach people. They are not my enemy. And I am not theirs. Satan is our common enemy. Together, we fight him, hard!

I say all this because I want to grow into a person who is known more for what He is for, than what he is against. I resolve to speak well of others, and thank God for the incredible variety that he displays in the church.

It is good to be home.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Preacher goes fishing.

This will come as a big surprise to some of you who listened to me preach last March. The series was about Fishing for men, and I talked alot about how little I know about fishing. I also said that fishing was not my most favorite thing.

Well, today I went fishing with my dad. We loaded up a small boat, and went about 30 miles up the McKenzie River ( outside of Springfield Oregon). We lauched the boat. I did have a license, and the Game Warden was there and checked. We went to a favorite fishing hole that Dad has fished for years. The McKenzie river has a series of small dams on it, but this part of the river is very calm, just above the Leaburg Dam. We found the hole, and in the course of about 2 hours, we limited out ( For novices like me that means, "We caught all that the law will allow". ) It was great fun. The weather was awesome. Cloudy, 70 degrees, no wind. There was no one on that part of the River, so we were pretty much alone. We did have a home owner nearby who kept telling us that there were only a few fish there, and His grandkids were coming from Arizona and He promised them so fish to catch. But Dad didn't budge... he's been fishing there for years. When we caught our 10th fish we were on our way.

Fishing was fun.... most of all because it was some really good time with my Dad. Catching and reeling them in is fun too... but it is more than just that. Being out and away, spending time with Dad is a pretty good deal.

It has been a great visit with my parents. I am thankful to so many in our church who have prayed for them and me.

When I get back to the pulpit, I will produce a picture as proof that even this preacher can fish a little bit. It will be right after the para-sailing picture. Both of those will come as a shock to those that know me well.

In the meantime, may we all be about "fishing for men."


Sunday, July 09, 2006


I miss "my" church ( It's not "mine" but you know what I mean).

This morning I find my self in Pleasant Hill Oregon with my parents. We are getting ready to go to church, which I am looking forward to. They belong to a growing Christian Church that is making a difference in their community and even the world. I will be very proud to go to their church.

I like going to churches to hear different preachers, to see how they deal with some of the same problems that we face, and to experience some of the creative solutions that churches in different parts of the country come up with. So going to different churches is fun, and stimulating. I think it is important to do on a regular basis.

But I really miss "my" church. It has been 13 weeks since the stroke and 10 weeks since I started the sabbatical. In that time I have not been back to church services at FCC. I have been around, connected with some people, but I have not been in a service since April 17th.

What do I miss? Well, I miss the spirit of our church. It has always been a place of celebration and joy. Some churches I have been too have not. When that happens, I feel kind of let down. It makes me think about what visitors think about our church when they come. What kind of expectations do they have. ( We all have expectations). I miss the spirit of family as well. Our church, big as it is, is still a family. Lots of talk, hugs, prayer and interaction on all kinds of levels. I miss the worship. I have not found a church yet that has the passionate worship that our church has. Traditional or Contemporary matters less to me than ever. Excellence is important. Focus on God is essential. Connection with the Worship Leader, with the Praise team and with those around me, who know and love me is important as well.

I also miss the time with our staff. They are more than co-workers. That brief time when we pray every Sunday morning is something I have missed.

I miss the end of services when I go to the back and just shake hands. I don;t know how much of that I will be able to do in the future, but it feels so good to connect with people.

I miss not being able to worship next to my wife and kids. I love Pam's passionate worship. I love listenting to her beautiful voice, which exudes love and adoration for God. I love looking down the aisle and seeing my kids worshiping ( when they are in town...Abigail every week). They have gone with me to other churches on occassion. I have encouraged them to go to FCC, because I wanted their routine to be maintained. They have had alot to deal with and they needed their church family too. But when I come back ( In September), I will love preaching, love being back with my family, love the worship... and love being back home.

Back home.... it is not that long... and I am getting ready. In the coming weeks I will be visiting churches in California, Arizona, Texas, Kansas , and Oklahoma. It will be a good tour... I will learn alot. I think I will learn alot that will help our church.

But it won't be home...

P.S- I will be home from Oregon on July 13th. It has been a great visit with my parents... the time at the coast was awesome... Gave me some great time to think and pray.

But it will be so good to be home....

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Birthday America.

It is July 4th! Our nation is celebrating its 230th birthday. I love our country. Today I find myself traveling across this great land ( I am writing from San Fransisco during a 2 hour layover). On the plane to Denver and then the one to SF, I noticed that there were lots of people flying, who look like they came from somewhere else. Two groups for sure were Mexican and Japanese. I wondered at one point if this day meant very much to them. Hopefully it does. To be able to live in a free country, where we can come and go, where we can worship, where we can work and make a great living... is a blessing. That blessing comes into focus even more when you read the accounts of so much of the world who live under the oppression of regimes that line their own pockets, live in luxury, but care little about the basic needs of their people.

Freedom is not free. We hear that all the time, but in this day, when we have 130,000 troops in Iraq, another 25,000 in Afganistan...and tens of thousands in other places, it really comes home. Even in our own church we have several loved ones who are serving on the edge of war, or right in the middle of it.

I read something on the plane that caught my attention. One person said, "We live in a country where we make things happen... not in a place that reacts to everything that happens." I know that the freedom that we have is due in large part to our leaders from long ago who took a risk, because they believed in what they were fighting for. I am glad that even today, when our country was attacked, our leaders did not sit back and say, "Well, We will wait and see what happens next." They took the fight to the enemy, even on foreign land.... Those 2500 soldiers that have died in Iraq, will not have died in vain. They fought to make the world a safer and better place, and to protect the freedoms that I have, which enable me to live in the greatest country in the world.

Happy Birthday America! Thank you God for the blessing of this great land, and for the courage of leaders and our military, who give of themselves so that we might have freedom in this land.

By the way, I am on my way to Oregon. I will spend about 4 days at the Coast, by myself... which I am looking forward too... Then 5 days with my parents and sister. Again, I am looking forward to that as well. This is a good time for me to really dig into some things personally, and to begin looking forward to my return to the pulpit this fall. Thanks to all of you who have prayed for me. I am getting better and stronger.