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Friday, March 31, 2006

Today is Day 80 of the sending of Joe Patterson from Club 163 to Liberia. Our 80th Day was celebrated by a community reading of Rick Warren's admonition that every reader of The Purpose Driven Life ought to write a LIFE MISSION STATEMENT.

I mentioned to the gathering that, although I hadn't written the 5-point statement asked for by Rick, I had written a similar Personal Mission Statement before moving to Galt. My current lifestyle and worldview still reflects the character desired in that statement from 1993. Now, I know that 'such a time as this' has come upon me....and I'd better do what Rick has been trying to get me to do.

Jim, Robin, Parlee, Joe, Cathy, and Alex were in attendance. We are so happy that Joe is home. It will take a few days for all of us to adjust ourselves.

Even this morning I lamented to Joe:

"Now, there won't be any more emails
             from Joe in Liberia..."

There was a good email from Eva in Michigan. Eva was quite curious about my buddy, Tom Lane. He has tweaked his page so you may wanna take a look. Tom had been her Sunday School teacher when she 'upped and left' for the wilderness of the Winter Water Wonderland.

Life goes on...

and Ronda Faull just moved to Tennessee. Jim Parkinson has joined the cast of Jebby's musical: Brothers. Miss Parlee and Maxine are gonna visit May McKendry. Bev, Joe, and I are gonna surprise Fred Greene today.

I hope you're having the kind of Friday I hope to have. A good Friday.

And speaking of Good Friday....
             well, I'll tell you tomorrow.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Saturday is April Fool's Day. Don't even think about it, dear friends. Don't mess with me on April Fool's Day because ... well, just don't. Tomorrow we will finish our latest group reading of the Purpose Driven Life.

So, April Fools Day will coincide with the one-year marker of my sabbatical. Hopefully, Joe will be helpful in partnering with me to mutually encourage academic closure.

Recent Wednesdays have been significant because I've been involved in four different small group settings:

1.  early morning Club 163,
2.  11:00 AM home study at Hugh and Eula's,
3.  Noon for Lenten Soup and Service
             with the other local churches
4.  7:00 PM Bible Fellowship at the the Greene's.

In connection with all of these experiences have been several important conversations during visitations with key people.

All of the above has been fertile ground for the seed of God's Good Word. Many of my friends in the church are seeking for personal revival. I'm encouraged today.

I uploaded a couple entries earlier:

From Pastor Wesley in Liberia (view more)

Simpsons Re-enactment & YouTube Stuff  (view more)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Don't forget...if you're in physical proximity to the Epicenter, call me for directions to the 11:00 Bible Study (323-0727).

At noon, join us at St. Luke's Episcopal Church for Soup and Service with my friend, Pastor Craig Dale, from the Methodist Church.

It is hard for an old guy like me to keep up with what's happening these days.

R. B. McCartney say that information is doubling every day. How might Epicenterians stay informed in the '06?

Well, the good folks down at the BBC have shared an idea with me this morning. It's called RSS: Really Simple Syndication

By the time I publish this story, Charles Taylor may be loosed again. 

                             (view more)

Tuesday March 28, 2006

We prayed a focused prayer before we read our devotional helps at Club 163 today.

Miss Parlee
asked us to pray for her. I told her that Cathy and I had both faced a particularly difficult set of circumstances ourselves yesterday (and that before we arose from our bed we had taken time to pray about the day ahead).

I acknowledged that this last week's chapters in The Purpose Driven Life need special attention. There is 'homework' to be done for the serious disciple. During two of my prior readings through this book, I had actually been on mission trips (and was so involved in living out the days' lessons that I couldn't see the forest for the trees).

So...we prayed and took our time with the Open Windows lesson for the day. That devotional study took us to Exodus where we noted some important points we hadn't seen before. When Pharaoh changed his mind and decided to pursue Moses and the Israelites.

"God has given you a Life Message to share."
This is Rick Warren's first line from Day 37.
This day's topic (pp. 289-296 holds great potential for those who will do some homework).       


...but right now,
          I've gotta mess with ya'll

I wonder if page 289 somehow influenced my own referential device (the
      Wasn't that T

Seriously, was Harrison really convicted for subconscious plagiarism? And didn't his old buddy, Lennon say, "...he knew what he was doing."

 awat: Keith Green on Charles Finney  (view more)

Juri, the youth guy at Pastor Meego's church wrote to my son, Jerry, that he thinks most contemporary music in the church is copycat. I agree.

People love certain 'new songs' only when they remind them of something familiar to them...and that 'fact' offers the MasterManipulator some power over us. I say, "Come on...relax. Let's quit taking ourselves so seriously."

My email-buddy, Andy Deck, has told me that Crown Ministries has basically been sharing this admonition:

"Don't be so protective of your self-centered 
 territory and resources. Give it all away...
 for the Greater Cause of Kingdom Growth."

Maybe I'm exaggerating Andy's point. I haven't had time to look at their website...
        Andy, is this the group?

I forgot which song it was that Pastor Dan led on March 12th. I just remember, during the intro, looking over at Robin McCall and saying, "...Betty Davis Eyes". She nodded. We smiled and went on to sing before the Lord with great joy. Brother Dan, George Harrison, Martin Luther, Solomon didn't create something out of nothing.

My memories of artistic output (of Jebby, Janis, Jimi, Jim, Billy Lee, Randy, Frank, Abraham, Martin, Keith, John, and the others) remain important to me--in part because of the encouragement to be ourselves:
page 290.

After my son, Joe, gets through the rest of this afternoon and evening in Liberia,
he and Pastor Wesley will have to get up early enough to find a taxi to the airport.

Flight 255 to Accra, Ghana should
depart at 11:10 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Since you each will read this entry at different times, you can click below to
see what the exact time is in Liberia right now.


Christian Convert Flees Upon Release:

On Monday, hundreds of clerics, students and others chanting "Death to Christians!" marched through the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif to protest the court decision Sunday to dismiss the case. Several Muslim clerics threatened to incite Afghans to kill Rahman if he is freed, saying that he is clearly guilty of apostasy and deserves to die.

"Abdul Rahman must be killed. Islam demands it," said senior Cleric Faiez Mohammed, from the nearby northern city of Kunduz. "The Christian foreigners occupying Afghanistan are attacking our religion."
                (click here for the full story)

Monday, March 27, 2006

This is an important day in the life of someone I knew long, long old friend--my age.

Today's devotional at CLUB 163 was a challenge for each of us to accept the MISSION FIELD that God has chosen to send us into.

Leonard Sweet, in AquaChurch, suggested that we should grasp the anchor of the past and thrust it into the future. I have much more to say about the four musically talented individuals I have featured below but will have to defer to an awat.

Keith Green and a Glass darkly  (view more)
Jim Morrison and the baptism with Fire...  (view more)
Janis Joplin and the Tired and Weary...  (view more)
Jimi Hendrix and considering the Wind  (view more)

In preparation for our current teaching on Spiritual Gifts, Ray Johnston and the nice folks at Bayside Community Church have stirred me up about the spiritual gifts given to Christians as the Spirit has determined.

They identify five possible signs that you might have been entrusted with the gift of evangelism:

1. If you are sensitive
     about how unchurched people feel.

2.  If you love people who aren't Christians.

3. If you have a passion to share the good news of
      God's Love for individuals and truly believe that
      anybody could become a Christian.

4. If you love to invite people to where Jesus is having
      His Way among people.

5. If you are positive about God's Work in the world
      around you.

I have a deep love for unchurched people. In order to become an empowered and effective witness, I will need to fan into flame this gift entrusted to me. Therefore, I look back at where I have come from before proceeding full-speed ahead into this 21st Century.

Jim, Janis, and Jimi each influenced my young life before their deaths. Keith's influence came to me only after his death. The allegories of their lives could be motivational for me to become a godly influence in the lives of this generation's young, passionate artists.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I just finished at prayer meeting with two of our men. One of our other prayer-partners is in China for awhile. We prayed through many personal situations, the Great Commission, and for more workers to be sent by the Lord of the Harvest.

Last night, we parents were home alone for a few hours. Our tenant carpooled down to Southern California. Mary went to a dance. Jerry and Daniel were out and about. Joe was in Liberia. Like the old folks we may someday become, Cathy and I sat next to each other on the couch (the tray table between us). She was online with her laptop working on her Avon projects.

I was also online going through emails I had seen earlier in the day. It had been a full day and I was quite tired. It felt good to be home--at rest.

I have to say that I am happy about responses I have received from our denomination's International Mission Board.
I wrote an email to our President,
Dr. Jerry Rankin

He answered me with a personal email and asked someone to look into a matter for me (and our church).

During this last week, I have learned much and have meditated upon my small role in the Big Picture of the generation. I will not speak much about it for a number of reasons. However, the Big Picture involves every smaller slice of life:

Beverly and I visited Howard and Mona in their home. Howard is recovering well from his heart surgery.

Tim, the deacon at New Hope Assembly of God, is at U.C. Davis and had the same procedure as Howard. The pastor's wife told me when I saw her at Cafe Latte'.

Beverly and I visited with Jim and Doris, then we picked up Miss Parlee and drove to Manteca to visit with Fred Greene. On the way back to the Epicenter, we stopped in Stockton and visited with Al and Cathy. It was an enriching day of activity; we prayed with the members at every stopover. We sang together on the road trip, listened to John Maxwell teaching tape.

Flashback to the couch: Oprah had a show about consumer debt, so we watched that as we continued to type away on our laptops.

One of my last discoveries of the night was another site where some collector's item pop culture film clips are being stored. I gathered up a bunch of film clips from the 60's and 70's that would be of interest to my old friends and siblings. I ask myself if I should display them and make them available with a click and the answer seems to be affirmative ( proportion to the weightier issues of life).

I made a blog page with a link to the music video clips:

Videos from the Sixties and Seventies  (view more)  

Warning: I came across a porno clip probably because 'the evangelist' for that material put a tag word in to broaden the chance of it showing up where it wasn't being sought.

I showed Cathy that I was clicking it as 'potentially offensive' so the host could follow through and remove it. It appears that they want to be helpful that way. I don't see an easy way around all that stuff if one chooses to be 'in the world...'

We all must be careful to know WHY we walk on certain streets, and careful about what we SEE along the way. I pray that the Spirit of the Lord Jesus will have His Way in our lives today. Please pray for me should you think of me in the days ahead. I desire to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I want that for others too, so I'm learning how to fish with Jesus in my generation.

I hope to see some of you at our combined church service tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

I hope that God will move powerfully among us as we gather to Worship and to learn from His Word.

Since we don't have Club 163 on Saturdays, I will read Day 34 when I get home.

The verse (Philippians 2:5) is "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus."

Question to consider: Am I more concerned about being served or finding ways to serve others?     --The Purpose Driven Life

Friday, March 24, 2006

It's FRIDAY...
  (click here)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I arose at 4:30, came to the church office and answered email:

If this were a movie, Cathy would be crying... 
                                       (click here)

This morning, after Club 163, I will go for a VisionWalkwith local playwright, Jebby. I'm certain we will discuss the upcoming production of his civil war era musical:


After that I will travel to the Bay Area with one of our church's Grandmas. A grandson is going to court. This is one of my most important ministries--being there with families at court appearances.

Love never fails.

Last night's Bible Study was powerful. The people of God were gathered and the room was packed. God knows what He is doing. His precious Holy Spirit was active and merciful to me during this gathering. I received Correction, Confirmation, and Comfort. I'm certain every other hungry seeker was likewise filled.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Iona chats from Stanford
  (view more)

Chat with Joe; Miss Parlee Gripes  (view more)

Last night, I attended the Executive Board meeting for our Association of regional churches. Dr. Steve Brown is the Moderator. He opened with a devotional from The Purpose Driven Life (Day 20). His church is reading the book during the 40 days before Easter (for Lent).

Most Baptists don't know much about the historical season of Lent. Still, I will be the Lenten speaker at the St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Galt, California today. Soup's on at Noon; I will be the guest minister afterward.

Joe wrote the following note to me. I am very happy that he is thinking along these lines now:


I was thinking about our Director's Commentary of this 80 Day experience:
Brainstorm ideas:
Bible- Script, Stage Directions
God- Director
Main Character
Shooting Scenes out of Sequence
Different styles of movie
Play the role God has for me
Successful director
Use these Songs:

Serve  lyrics
Still A Prisoner  lyrics
God is So Good  (traditional)
Jesus Loves Me  (traditonal)
This is the Day  (traditional)
Prisoner of Hope (Stonehill)
Gratitude audio (Greg Brayton)
Bedtime  lyrics
She Loves You  (Beatles)
It Won't Be Long (Beatles)
Tender Mercies  lyrics
There's a Voice lyrics (wake up smiling...)
You Are My All in All  (Chorus)
High Hopes (Goofy Movie)
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus  (Gaithers)
Our God is Able to Make...  (Chorus)
He is Able More Than Able
You Can Turn to the Right  (Stonehill)
Now it is God Who Has Made Us (fragment)
We Won't Fight   (Brayton)
From the Rising of the Sun  (Traditional)
1 Peter 5

PDL (Purpose Driven Life)
Life is a story.



Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Well, here we are at 2:30 pm and the first chance I've had to get on this page. Joe sent his updates for his interaction with The Purpose Driven Life. Several of us have worked through this book 3-4 times. It may take me a couple days before I am able to bring Joe's pages up to current status. However, for now you can go to my myspace site and see what he was thinking:

Joe is in Liberia: Days 67-70  (view more)

I went for a long walk around town today with my seasoned friend, Jimmy. He's the first friend I ever had named Jimmy. I had a cousin named Jimmy...and Angel called Rockford Jimmy. I like my friend. He's different than the other Jimmys I have known.

I pitched the idea of auditioning for the Rock Opera, Brothers, to Ryan Perez. I've been recording the role of the young Irish-American, Billy, for the CD version. Too old to play the part onstage, I'm recommending Ryan Perez. He could sing it like I do. I hope he follows through and gets the part.

It is scheduled to be performed in at FBC Sacramento on
May 19 and 20. The playwright, Jebby, also had agreed to take it down the road to the Epicenter sometime later in the year. We are currently rehearsing on Sunday afternoons. I will play the role of the Preacher--it too a substantive role.

This afternoon I spoke at the gravesite of Leah Lamb who took her last breath on Friday. She was 85 years old and had outlived her husband by 10-11 years. The message was simple, intimate, and possessed the power of God to change lives.

One of Leah's granddaughters,
Tara, lives in Phoenix with her husband, Michael. They confessed to being active Christians in their city. I shared my email address and hope to share this web sites with them.

Another special interest I had was in Leah's grandson,
Jason (17). He was there with his girlfriend of ten months, Anna (15). Both of these young people are on myspace, so I asked Anna to check out my site.

Before I left the cemetery, Leah's son, Walter, handed me an envelope with a donation. I told him that I would send his special donation to my son in Africa in remembrance of Leah Lamb--a Proverbs 31 woman. Walter had heard of Liberia--that's good to know. Today, Liberia's President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, was scheduled to meet with our President George W. Bush.
I hope that the meeting went well.
President Johnson-Sirleaf has formally requested the extradition of former President Charles Taylor to Sierra Leone to stand trial in a U.N. backed court.

Some are concerned about a trial: click here

Monday, March 20, 2006

Here is an interesting site for future networking. I learned about it from Pastor Bobby Gilstrap:

ChristianPodder: click here

Too much to say
in too short a time but here are some new entries:

General Letter from Joe on Day 70  (view more)
How and why I watch DVDs and movies (view more)
Morning Chat with Pastor Wesley (view more)

Joe: Food and the Wesley Children 
(view more)

Signs of Church Health from Joe 
(view more)
Letters from Pakistan  (view more)
Joe, Dad, and Google Ads  (view more)

A simple question: Church Insurance? (view more)

CLUB 163 LIVE: Pastor Wesley, Joe, Miss Parlee,   
         Cathy, Alex, Rob, and more....  (view more)

If you want to just look over all the myspace blogs collectively: CLICK HERE

Sunday, March 19, 2006

 From Galt, California... the Church Family Plate Spinners


singing sensation...

Topo Jijo

off-broadway drama

senior comedy

and for the kids, we have Dan Malloy and
the A Street Band


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Our Minister of Worship,
Dan Malloy, will be leading the A Street Band for the last time at tomorrow's services. Man, he did a great job telling the old, old story with a new song during the last couple years at the Epicenter. We will all miss Dan and Char Malloy. They are going to concentrate on trying to spend weekends with Char's mother in a faraway town.

So, I've been thinking over music, suits, style, congregational tastes.

I had uploaded a video of six songs performed by the
Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. The video link has been malfunctioning so you won't be able to see it today.

I FEEL FINE though sometimes I'M DOWN.

When I ACT NATURALLY a simple TICKET TO RIDE transports my listener to music from YESTERDAY.

My earliest memories
involve Sunday morning Baptist church services--sitting in the pew with Mother and the others.

Today, I am in a local church context.

     Are you?

Have you ever confessed that you need some

I care so I share. So did
Mrs. Ford (my second grade public school teacher).

Mrs. Ford did her very best to serve God in her generation. She invited me to come back to Sunday School. Will you join us?

This Sunday,
   I'm gonna wear a suit and look like 'a real preacher!'
      ....or like a Sunday Evening Variety Show host.

John Rickard cares, so he shares:

Today, another email forward came in from John. Troubled by what I saw, I verified this story and found a webpage that looks very much like John's original email.
(overlook the grammatical errors; the story is still powerful).

I care too. I'll share it on myspace for the teens:
   click here

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Don't even look at these blogs...
(too weird)

This morning, we held Club 163 during a chat time with Joe and Pastor Wesley who were enjoying the afternoon in Liberia.

Click here
for the transcript.

I already tweaked it once but I think that was lost, so sorry if you have to work at discerning what is happening.

I have been receiving emails from a Baptist Bishop in Pakistan. I don't want to forget this man, so I made a slideshow and have included some excerpts from our correspondence: click here

Now, I'm off to walk with Jebby.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

update: Today in Club 163, we read Day 24. It was really a great small group session about basic faith and practice regarding the assimilation of the Bible in our lives. I picked up on a subpoint which flashed past this reader's eyes rather quickly, so I'm making the effort to pass along these five r's:

The Word:
    receive it,
read it,
research it,
remember it,
reflect upon it.

Rick Warren challenged the reader to make an action plan about anything that one has left undone according to revelation received from prior interaction with the Word.

I chose to make a commitment to pray (at mealtimes) for co-workers to be thrust (ekballo) into the harvest that I so clearly see all around me.

In the small group, I also shared with
Cathy and Miss Parlee my role as the Coach for this winning team. It is sometimes hard for me to coach this team when my vision involves every player having a chance to play...and win. Still I hold onto that vision and have been given some fresh insight as how best to demonstrate that on Sunday morning in the local church assembly. Stay tuned.

Don't forget the new 11:00 a.m. home bible study opportunity: call me if interested (209.323.0727) and the Soup and Service at Noon at the St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

first entry: I arose at 3:52 and just noticed that it is now 5:54. The doorbell just rang and I can hear Miss Parlee's voice--here for Club 163. Cathy has the coffee on. The assembly is gathering on the floor below me. What have I been doing for the last two hours?

I was writing a joint letter to these guys about some stuff that relates to my pre, mid, and post-doctoral studies. This ain't about dropping names:

Andy Deck: Elder, Stonegate Fellowship (Midland, Texas)
Pete McLain: T4 Global Venture 
Richard Wesley:  President of the National Pastors' Fellowship Conference (Liberia)
Bruce Lowe: Stonegate Fellowship (Midland, Texas) 
Bill Wagner: Professor of World Missions, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
Albert Warren: Pastor to Seniors, FBC Galt 
Jim Fugate: Deacon, FBC Galt
Rick Durst:  Director of Master of Divinity Program, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
Joe Patterson
: Student, California Baptist University
Gabriel Williams: Minister of Information, Liberia
Rodney Edwards: Director of Liberian Ministries
Roger Barrier: Pastor, Casas Adobe 
Bob Royall: Director of Doctor of Ministry Program, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
Ron Hornecker: Professor of Ministry, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
Jerry Yates: Director of Mission, Delta Valley Association
Tom Robershaw: Saddleback Community Church
Tom Lane: Businessman
Jebby : Artist
Roger Byrd: Healthy Church Group, California Southern Baptist Convention
Fermin Whittaker: Executive Director, California Southern Baptist Convention 
Jerry Rankin: President, International Mission Board

These guys each play a role connected with my personal vision statement to be a member of a missionary-sending church. I have had quality dialogue with most of them. I include the list so I won't forget as I continue to journal Church History as it happens.

Voices are calling: g2g  to Club 163

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Joe will be heading for home in 15 days. I'm happy to know that he reads and interacts with my blog:

Hey papa,

I hope that they are able to find your prospectus site and put it back online. I know that was a lot of GOOD work and it may make it harder for us to trust those on the internet. Some of the links you offered worked when I clicked on them, but there were other links to google caches which didn't.

love ya,


Dear Joe:

The cache snapshots were right here yesterday; now they are gone.
I wonder if al Qaeda (allegedly near the Epicenter) has anything to do with this?

SACRAMENTO: Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, lived in Lodi, California in 1998 and 1999, a paid FBI informant testified in the trial of a Pakistani-American father and son accused of terrorism-related activity.

Naseem Kahn, 32, told a Sacramento jury he frequently saw Zawahri coming and going from the mosque in Lodi, California, south of Sacramento in 1998 and 1999, but never talked to him.

Zawahri, an Egyptian believed hiding somewhere in Pakistan, called on Muslims earlier this month to attack the West.

A spokeswoman for the FBI and an official for the US attorney's office declined to say whether Zawahri had lived there or had just passed through town. He is believed to have raised funds during travels in the United States at the time.    (3.15.06

On this page you will sometimes be confronted by ideas, phrases, or words which may seem unfamiliar to you. There is (nearly) always a frame of reference; Stick with us and we will teach you: awat

You've probably wondered about our site statistics. You should know that some of the visitors to any website are probably due to the investigative work of web crawlers, right?

You may ask, "What is a web-crawler?"

Good question.
I'll call upon Moses' latest video to help us see the answer:

Click for videotape of Moses McCall Wesley

Yesterday, I had planned to further edit the online edition of my doctoral prospectus and discovered that it had been deleted by the free-site provider.

Thanks to the good folks down at
google, at least I have located their cache snapshots of what might be the only remains of that which might have been: Click here to read along: MoreMondayStuff

Monday, March 13, 2006

Monday morning afterglow. Yesterday was filled with wonderful blessings. I don't even have time to write because my INBOX is overflowing. I have a 'chat' going with Joe right now and Club 163 is supposed to begin in twenty minutes.

Both services had a spirit of joy and laughter sweep over the congregation. The music was wonderful, the fellowship was sweet, and the preaching... well, you know, we're all prayin' for Brother Rob....

We had visitors from Elk Grove in the second service. Tim and Kim had come to the Epicenter because they had first looked around this website.

Tim shared that my leadership style reminded him of his own. He is a Martial Arts Instructor. I haven't visited his public services yet, but here's his website.

Jesse Dale hung out with me yesterday afternoon. We went to the Exploratory Luncheon for the Christian DayCare seekers at the Epicenter. Then, we took a drive to Sacramento (our State Capital) to watch some of the rehearsal for Jebby's upcoming production of "Brothers." I've been asked to play the role of the Preacher for this run. Dan Malloy plays the role on the soon-to-be-released CD. On the CD project, I'm currently recording the role of Billy (a much-younger man). I'm too old to play that role onstage. I think I'll be comfortable in the role of the Preacher. You know what that means? I'll be singing the lead in the song: Potluck in Heaven.

Our little reality-show experiment with Eva in Michigan is not turning out with the intended results on Sundays. Man, that girl names names. Hmmmm.....If I didn't know her, I don't know if I'd want her to visit my church. That would be like having Simon from American Idol show up!

I don't even think the Epicenter presentation of the gospel would cut the muster for her in these days! (lol)   I just hope that Pastor Edwin Reese doesn't google himself anytime soon. In a way, I'm responsible....I guess I should direct people to her formative Sunday School Teacher: Brother Tom Lane. Eva preferred his class to my sermons any day! LOL

       for this morning's chat with Joe


Sunday, March 12, 2006

This morning
I will start a series on Spiritual Gifts. A knowledge of this subject is such an important aspect of  effective ministry that I plan to continue this sermon series for several weeks.

Click here for more information

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Rodney Edwards from sent me an important request today. Will you pray over this? Oh....and he also mentioned that we can probably ship the Ultrasound Machine (below) with their container in a few months.

Prayer Partners,

I want to urge you to pray several times tomorrow (Saturday) for the WOW III conference that is being held in Marion, IA.  Our own Jenny Groothuis will be one of the two keynote speakers for this gathering of 300+ women.  Jenny has provided a copy of the Liberian Ministries DVD to each of them in the "goodie bag" that they will receive at registration tomorrow.  Pray that the women receiving the DVD's will watch them with an open heart and that God will speak clearly to them if He desires their family's involvement with the children of Liberia.

Thank you for being faithful in your prayers for the ministry.

Rodney Edwards

Although I was up early, I had to battle Operating System issues with my laptop, so I am again writing in haste. I need to leave for 6:00 a.m. prayer meeting, then a group of men are leaving for Leadership Training in Manteca. Our women are not being excluded from the Leadership Vision. They are meeting for a Brunch in Lodi this morning.

I was hit a really low spot in spirit yesterday around noon. Then Cathy showed up at the office. We went for a walk and I began to read her my original, unabridged edition of my doctoral project's theological rationale. That lifted my spirit immensely.

Then, we got caught in the rain so we ducked into the Chinese Restaurant and my lady bought me lunch. I continued to read my practical theology aloud until it was time to run to Jebby's for a quick recording session. I sang the part of Billy (a young Irishman fighting in the Union Army) for his musical: Brothers. The song we recorded was "So this is a Reb..."

The session went without hindrance. Jebby burned me a copy on a CD. That win/win lifted my spirit higher. Ran home just long enough to meet a computer techie named Dave from the UMC in Lodi. He was trying to help Cathy debug some of our computers. Although he didn't have much success, I discovered that he is a high tenor in their Chancellor's Choir...and was their church webmaster for the last 2 years. I showed him this page and gave him one of my old CDs.

Ran off again to the church, and met with Jim, Mike, Glenn, and Doug for Leadership Training in Manteca. We sat under Mike McGuffie for an Introduction to the Healthy Church Group at our association's Spring Training.


Click here
for Joe's updates for devotional entries from Days 52-60 in Liberia. These are primarily interactions with selected passages from the Purpose Driven Life.

Below are 2 very brief video clips (mpeg) shot with Joe's plain ol' digital camera. Perhaps even you dial-up folks will be able to see these:

video 1 from Joe: click here    Little Robbie Wesley

video 2 from Joe: click here    Little Rob and Joe

Friday, March 10, 2006
Note: We've accidentally been reading a couple days ahead in the Purpose Driven Life, so it should be Day 19 today (Day 59 for Joe)...oops. Well, so be it. We will go back and read what we missed.

I woke up at 1:25...too early for me even. Went back to sleep until 4:09 and started thinking about my Grandma B. In a different time and place, I could have made the choice to visit her at this hour. She would already have the morning bacon cooked; she would ask if I wanted a cup of coffee. Then, she would bring up the gruesome report that was on PrimeTime last night:

  "....and what about those funeral   
    directors selling body parts all over
    the country? Say..."

After talking about that story and other signs of man's sinful nature then the stuff I have been frustrated about wouldn't seem so troublesome. I miss this Grandma. She was different than my Grandma Patterson but loved me just as much, I think.

When I got online, I noticed that Joe was also online so I've been chatting with him but it is too personal to let you all read. Just me, him, God, and the good folks down at Google....and um....Homeland Security.
Miss Parlee just called (4:50). She isn't feeling well enough to attend Club 163 this morning. Alex had asked me to take him to Rotary this morning but I'll just take him next Friday. I hope we will find a way to get this Ultrasound Machine to Liberia. I think I will ask Rotary if they would back this as an International Service Project for our local club. We don't usually spend much money on individual projects but I'll still ask.

We need to find someone to help us ship this Ultrasound Machine to Liberia for use by the Greater Love Medical Clinic. I'm not certain if this is the exact model of the Acuson XP which might be donated. However, we have been told that the machine is 350 pounds, so perhaps this is the one.

If you have any shipping connections or would like to add a good deed to your faith, please contact me:


Last night, I mentioned to the fellowship that Wednesday evenings have been the highpoint of each week for me in recent months.

Glenn added, "I like Sundays."

I thoroughly enjoy Sunday gatherings myself but Wednesday nights are much more relaxing for me. Technological concerns and the expectations of multiple relationships have the potential for unintended consequences. By being out front, I become much more vulnerable to the flaming arrows of the evil one. In an environment of mutual support and trust, our corporate shield of faith has the breadth and depth to extinguish every single dart.

However, when that trust has become corrupted (regardless of who, what, when, etc.), arrows get through...and they hurt.
Everyone gets hurt. I've been a proactive Christian since 1982 and have walked thousands of miles on-the-beat. There is still no better word I have heard than this:

   "God opposes the proud,
        but gives grace to the humble."

This morning's devotionals seemed particularly relevant to issues Cathy and I have both faced in recent weeks. Open Windows was about controlling our emotions and the Purpose Driven Life (Day 20) is about restoring relationships. I appreciate having a non-threatening forum for discussing biblical guidelines for working through our daily challenges.

Last night, in the closing prayer, Mike reminded the Lord that we had read His Word together; we had talked about it; now we were praying over its influence in our lives. His prayer really helped me seal the hope I have for being washed by the water of the Word. Without staying connected in this fellowship, I could take one step away...and be completely disoriented.

This morning I mentioned how carefully I was reading this chapter in light of the most recent hurt I am experiencing in ministry. Sometimes these Christian 'self-help' chapters are extremely helpful.

I have my doubts about experiencing that wonderful "peace which surpasses all understanding" simply by following this seven-step pattern. Still...this is what the Lord gave us for a meal this morning:

1. Talk to God before talking to the person.

2. Always take the initiative.

3. Sympathize with their feelings.

4. Confess your part of the conflict.

5. Attack the problem, not the person.

6. Cooperate as much as possible.

7. Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution.

I will purpose to work these steps--even if it hurts. Doing church just plain hurts sometimes.

I will purpose to have a good day today (my day off). Lord willing, I will walk with my friend, Jebby; I will clean my office and work on my doctorate.

Good morning, Lord.

Wednesday, March  8, 2006

Timely message:

If anyone wants to attend a morning Bible Study with me at 11:00 a.m., please call my cell phone (209)  323-0727. This takes place in the home of an elderly man who is caring for his wife with Alzheimer's Disease. He can't leave his house to attend church. Just call me and I'll give you the directions.
Today's readings (and discussion) at Club 163 were especially helpful. Miss Parlee had read the Open Windows about a 'soft answer' and I spoke up. Although, I agree with the Scripture about 'a soft answer turning away wrath', I am also advocating on my own behalf to be accepted when I am passionate about a matter and 'raise my voice' (in either pitch or amplitude).

As a singer, I will sometimes grab a high note and hold it out. As a preacher, I'll sometimes grab a truth and shout it out. As a father, I'll grab an opportunity to hang with one of my children and let the love pour out.

Yes, it is risky to grant a person the freedom to express herself...

When I hear Edgar Winter sing, I know that he's also gonna scream... At least, I hope so...'cause that's what I love about that guy.
I already know that this more-public entry is ripe for misunderstanding and hasty presupposition. For the annals of church history, I'm simply expressing my desire to have a close 'working' relationship with other people in the God-sized assignment of being a 'REAL' church. I told some friends last night that Cathy and I have a passionate relationship. It is real, effective, and powerful. Commitment is what has allowed us to experience abundant blessings from this all-important, God-Sized relationship: the Covenant of Marriage.

We also read Day 19 of the Purpose Driven Life where Rick Warren teaches on 'Cultivating Community.' Rick expresses himself well. Like Edgar Winter, he sings beautifully (but I can hear his silent scream as well):

p. 146-7  Many church fellowships and small groups remain superficial because they are afraid of conflict. Whenever an issue pops up that might cause tension or discomfort, it is immediately glossed over in order to preserve a false sense of peace. Mr. "Don't Rock the Boat" jumps in and tries to smooth everyone's ruffled feathers, the issue is never resolved, and everyone lives with an underlying frustration. Everyone knows about the problem, but no one talks about it openly.

This creates a sick environment of secrets where gossip thrives. Paul's solution was straightforward:

"No more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself."

                Ephesians 4:2 (The Message

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

This morning,
I will join with other local missionaries who reach out to a primarily senior gathering at Royal Oaks Convalescent Center in Galt. The seeker-sensitive service begins at 10:00 a.m. We hope you will join us.

I will have to leave a few minutes early because just around the corner, at Ben Salas Funeral Home, I am scheduled to help commemorate the life of Duane Smiley (son of A.R. and Glee, brother of Shirley Malta).

I am looking forward to both of these events today. That's church (outside the box on a Tuesday morning).

Sunday night at Families Together Church
in Stockton, Pastor Mac shared a sweet memory from the platform. He told of years ago, when he and Thelma started a church in a multi-purpose building: on Saturday night it was a beer-garden. Come Sunday morning it was a sanctuary for his church.

Similarly, I am using a space provided free-of-charge to store the real-time chats that I have had with my favorite missionary: Joe in Liberia. So, if you go to myspace and see a poster on the wall or smell some residual odor, it just might mean that I couldn't get that particular spot out of the carpet, OK?

If you haven't read yesterday morning's chat with Joe, please click below:

Monday, March 6, 2006

click here: 2 hour MondayChat with Joe

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Pastor Francisco Camarena (click:video) and Luis Enrique Espinosa left the Epicenter at 10:00 p.m. They were driving back to Corona in time to provide preaching and music at three services tomorrow morning. I wasn't counting but I was told that the number of individuals who were baptized here last night was either twelve or fourteen.

Both nights were promoted as a concert, so I ran sound, lights, and powerpoint with that in mind. Luis is a powerful singer and sensitive co-laborer with Pastor Francisco.
After the first planned group was baptized, others made the decision during Luis' last song, so they went for a second round. It was absolutely wonderful.

From our church we were represented by Miss Parlee, R.B. McCartney, Terry Shepherd and Theo Jones.

Theo is deaf
; my wife, Cathy, usually interprets sermons for him. They sat together tonight. Neither could understand the sermon for neither had an Interpreter.                                            awat

I was in the Soundbooth tweaking the powerpoint for the SongService I will lead at 8:30 and 11:00. Since Rollin called me today to let me know that they were going out of town, I have enlisted my 14 year old daughter, Mary, to take over Audio-Visual services! She can do it. I started her out on the overhead projector when she first learned to read.

If you're anywhere near Stockton, come to the Dedication Service for a new church home: Families Together (an African-American church)  at 3:30. I'm on the program, I've been told.

Click here for driving directions

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Yesterday, as predicted, was a continuous conversation (with others...). The topic of Day 12 at Club 163 was becoming more of a friend with God. Even though it is Saturday (and no Club...), I'm gonna read Day 13 of the Purpose Driven Life.

At Rotary I heard three high school seniors give speeches. I introduced myself to each of them afterwards. Not surprisingly all three had special connections with me through my own teens.

Beverly and I went to A.R. and Glee's house to meet with their grandkids. We were there for three hours around the kitchen table. This family just suffered through Cancer and the loss of an important member of their tight-knit family.

For lunch, Cathy and I met with Tom and Sandy McGouran to discuss the investment of our abilities, etc. A great time...and yeah, we went to that Korean-run Japanese Restaurant that where Tim Stevenson took me.

Roger Byrd (one of
the StateBoys) called me. He invited me to play in the all-pastor band at the Hume Lake Pastors' Conference near the end of April. I played it twice before (once with Roger; once with Don Fugate). Free registration, food, room...a pretty good gig just to play bass guitar. I love to get a chance to play bass. For me, it is so much easier than the other instruments. I played Bass in the Jazz Band for two years in high school. Maybe that's why I like it so much.

When Pastor Francisco Camarena (click for a video sermon) and Luis Enrique Espinosa arrived at the Epicenter, I visited with them at Ana and Scott Benkher's house. They are a great team. The concert was good. I was the Soundman (doubling on powerpoint and lights). Cathy noticed that there wasn't provision for the children so, after the music, she took eighteen kids into another space.

There were 54 adults gathered to hear Pastor Francisco Camarena preach. The people responded well to his message. There were two altar calls. Over twenty people came forward for prayer. I can't think of a better place to be on a Friday night. After our date, Cathy and I went home to celebrate our 21 year of marriage.

I sit here at the 6:00 a.m. 'prayer meeting'...all alone...Granted, I didn't get here until 6:15 so maybe some man had just left--thinking that no one else was coming. Tonight, come to the Epicenter at 5:00 for a Spanish Potluck, and service at 6:00 p.m. click here for map

FLASH! David Striefel just showed we're gonna go on a prayer-walk. Yeah, I'm gonna get a cup-o-christian-mc'coffee.

Maybe Baker Kanode will be there to talk with us for a couple hours (he was).

This is going to be a full weekend so I arose at 4:00 to do some writing before Friday formally begins:

Today, after Club 163, I'll run off to Rotary for our Sunrise Breakfast. I owe a $20 fine because last week I refused to 'greet everyone.' (They have a secret greeter each week just to make sure...).

Well, I asked loudly what is the fine for not doing it.
I simply announced out loud that I wasn't in the mood to go around and greet every person with a smile and a handshake.

The fine is normally only $3 for those who forget. The current President, however, chose to fine me $20 and publicly cited my bad attitude as her reason for the increase. She wanted to make an example of me. Hmmm....and I don't have $20...

Well, after Rotary, Beverly (my new Friday co-host) and I are going on visitation. Then, mid-afternoon, I will meet
Pastor Francisco Camarena (from Corona). He is coming to the Epicenter with his Worship Leader, Enrique, to spur on the Spanish-speaking groups who are participating in
40 Days of Purpose.

Our friends from
La Luz de Cristo are sponsoring this weekend rally (tonight and tomorrow night). I am encouraging our church members to join us. click here

Yesterday, as I was preparing music for Sunday's Worship Service, Janeen Hendon called (Pastor Ken's wife). She called to help me with directions to Sunday afternoon's Dedication Service for the new home of:

     Families Together
        Missionary Baptist Church

Then, Janeen mentioned that Pastor Hendon was planning for me to be the Pulpit Director and bring
the charge to the Pastor.

I know what to do about a charge to the Pastor but the job description for Pulpit Director remains a mystery. This is why one should develop one's ability to be flexible.

   click here and scroll around for details

about Music Rehearsal last night:

Rodger Parker (indigenous Galtonian drummer) shared with me that he is participating in our current read-through of
the Purpose Driven Life (today is Day 12). That really blesses my soul. Who said 'it can't happen here?'

Joe will return from Liberia in time for us to all experience the final day of the book, together, at Club 163.

Rodger also came up with the best way to transition from my 'role-playing in the midst of a song' back into the chorus. If you attend one of our Sunday morning Worship Services, listen for the drummer's cue after the pastor does his 'prodigal son' stuff in the aisle, turns, and runs back toward home.

We played and prayed and played some more. As I was getting ready to leave,
Ruthie Elaine started talking (if you know Ruth you know what I mean).

She said,
"We really need to pray for our nation. There's a group that is planning to storm the White House."

Before she said much more, Rodger chimed in "If they storm the White House, they'll get shot..."

Well, I thought I was heading home but I had to hear this through--even to the connection with filmmaker Michael Moore. Then, my suggestion to Ruth was that she and Jim move to Liberia and pray for our nation from there.

Pastor Wesley lived through the days when a certain Samuel K. Doe stormed Liberia's Executive Mansion and assassinated President Tolbert. Pastor Wesley said that there were issues which had truly needed to be addressed but that the 'government' which replaced the establishment didn't bring anything better. In fact....well, just go to Liberia and look around for yourself.

Frank Zappa once posited:

        "It can't happen here..."

Yeah, I even quote Zappa out of context every now and then. A couple weeks ago I was preaching about Jehoshaphat calling the people together for a solemn assembly to humble themselves and pray and seek his face. Then the Zappa line (out-of-context, mind you) came out of my mouth:

       "It can't happen here...
               I'm telling you, my dear,
                      that it can't happen here."

(one must lower one's voice for full effect).

When I got home this email from Ruthie E. was waiting for me:

An anti-war group that belongs to the umbrella organization United for Peace and Justice has announced that it intends to topple the Bush administration during a March 15 Washington, D.C. protest. A message headlined "Storm the White House" that appears on the UPJ web site, the group "Political Cooperative" is urging its members:

       Stop Genocide, Torture and Occupation."

The message goes on to explain:

"We will not allow the Slave Holders that Still Prevail in this Country to Rule us any longer . . . The Administration is Criminal and if they will not step down, we must storm in, show them how many of us do not accept a criminal government."

The Political Cooperative goes so far as to announce its plans to install an interim government after the Bush administration is toppled:

"The Political Cooperative will put a new, temporary government in place that is comprised of people from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and all the organizations that have finally made us aware of the truth of the savage practices and illegal policies of our government in assassinating our own officials as well as people throughout the world who oppose their criminal activity."

Bush-bashing filmmaker Michael Moore apparently endorses the coup plan, linking to the "Storm the White House" message on his web site.

I did the research and found the primary source: click here if you want to read the unedited version.

Thursday, March 2, 2006


Roger Byrd, one of the StateBoys came to the Epicenter yesterday. I took him on an IntroductoryWalk™ ® ©. Before the panel of specialists begin their season of the Healthy Church Growth process, I wanted the appointed liaison to get a feel for zones 1-4.2b around our broadcast tower.

From a prior venture, the man had owed me a steak dinner. We ate at the Korean/Japanese restaurant instead. Both of us ordered the Thai Chicken. Indeed, it was a multi-cultural experience. Seems Roger grew up in the O.C. before screenwriters decided to start calling it the O.C. Yeah, I told him all about reality imitating art. I think that he understands the cost of being an artist: realists become copycats...that O.K. but then they attempt to license their artLOL©.     C'mon...

Roger not only 'survived'...
         ... he was thrivin'...
...once he pulled out his techno-gadget.

It took me back... the 6th grade when Scott Crabill first showed me that huge scout knife (with a fork, spoon, screwdriver, corkscrew...). Yeah, when would a couple Boys Scouts need a corkscrew?

Be Prepared.

I am in a hurry--gotta run. Club 163 isn't supposed to start until 6:00 a.m. but Cathy likes me downstairs and negotiable when the masses (Miss Parlee and Alex) arrive...and they have (5:45). So, here's Joe's updates from the Purpose Driven Life, I will put them in place later tonight.
Day 46:
Pg.49 With all the fascinating attractions, mesmerizing media, and enjoyable experiences available today, it's easy to forget that the pursuit of happiness is not what life's about.

This is a hard thing for someone to read if they just want to be happy. Growing up, I have found happiness in doing good and unhappiness usually resulted from doing something wrong. I concluded, if I do good then I will be happy and if I am not happy, it is a sign of something I did wrong. Sometimes we just need to do good and not question why we feel a certain way.
Day 47:
Luke 12: 13-21 The story of the foolish farmer.

Now, this man was a good worker but he placed value on stuff and did not recognize God's sovereignty. The points included in the message consisted of discussing covetousness and how the love of things causes all sorts of evil especially war. The main problem with the man in this story is that he sought goods first and trusted that he would be happy and his soul would be at rest with his great possessions. It is necessary to desire God above goods and to understand that possessions themselves will not bring lasting peace and that God is the only one who truly knows how our lives will turn out.     --Joe
Day 48:
pg 64. Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship.

I want God to smile when He watches me. I need to watch for more opportunities in everyday activities to worship God through my attitude and actions. Remember that God provides these opportunities and they will also lead to a life containing real pleasure. When I worship God, I can be satisfied with the life.                    --Joe
Day 49:
pg. 72 In fact, you will never understand some commands until you obey them first.

This is a very difficult idea for a young man to receive. It is hard to accept things we do not understand. We need to trust God and many times this means trusting the advice of other people.                   --Joe
Day 50:
Surrendered people obey God's word, even if it doesn't make sense.

We don't have to understand or see the final outcome of everything. Yes, there is a basic judgment when you obey someone, but that does not require understanding. Many times I have obeyed my parents in simple things. They didn't always give me the full explanation, but because I knew THEY were good many times I obeyed without question. We never have to wait for God's answers to our questioning before we obey his commands.                  --Joe
Day 51:
pg. 91 Prayers let you speak to God; meditation lets God speak to you. Both are essential to becoming a friend of God.
pg 89. If you are seeking an experience of his presence through all of this, you have missed the point.

I will focus on saying small, short prayers throughout the day, especially as I am reminded by thoughts or activities around me. I will continue to have good scripture songs playing in my mind and remember God's presence as I do daily activities. These are good and obedient-- even if I don't get a good feeling, it will reduce my worries and honor God.           --Joe

Being in Day 51 is quite an interesting time to think about numbering my days.
As a young man of 20, I think that I better get my life together because I do not want to feel like this for the long period ahead. But, it is also clear that we should all get our lives right with God and understand His purpose because this could be our last week.
I trust that I will get through the 80 days, and take it for granted as I look ahead and sometimes worry about what I will do next. A proper view of life and time would be the daily surrender of my thoughts, actions, and plans to the One who is outside of time. Have to take every day as it comes with Thanksgiving and attention to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.   
Love you and enjoy reading your doctoral work. It's good stuff.             --Joe

March 1, 2006

February in Review: click here

If you're in the vicinity and wanna join us in a new morning Bible study this morning:
      call me at (209) 323-0727

It will begin at 11:00 a.m.

An important letter arrived from a reader this morning. Below is an excerpt:

Dear Pastor Rob,

What an encouraging note!  Thank you for your prompt response.  As I mentioned in my previous note to Pastor Wesley, our church came in contact with Pastor Wesley and Greater Love Bible Baptist Church through a couple in our church that is attempting to establish the Addy’s Hope Adoption Agency.  Stonegate provided a one-time gift to help complete the necessary construction for the Chlidren’s Home to meet the government inspection late last year.  As I have spent time reading about Pastor Wesley and corresponding with him, the Lord has confirmed his exceptional gifts and talents as a key leader and man of God in a nation that is struggling to emerge from the reality of a long civil war.

I am thrilled that FBC Galt has established a strong partnership with GLBBC.  The truly personal connection that you have fostered goes far beyond any sermon or missionary slide show.  True partnership is borne from true relationship – something most Americans could learn from our African brothers.  Also, I am overwhelmed by your graciousness in welcoming other churches to the work in Liberia.  Many churches (I fear most) would not have this God-centered, kingdom-focused approach.  Praise the Lord!

A few quick words about Stonegate… We are a Southern Baptist church that was an intentional church plant from First Baptist Church, Midland, Texas in 1999.  We spent 3.5 years meeting in a junior high school.  In 2003 we moved a few blocks away to land purchased and facilities constructed through God’s provision to His church.  By God’s grace, we have grown from a group of about 200 people that first Sunday six years ago to about 2000+ on each Sunday morning.  Rather than thinking we have it all figured out, the Stonegate experience is best described as “God is doing something and we are all hanging on for the ride of our lives.”  It’s easy to give God the glory when all we know how to do is seek Him and follow where He leads.  Most of our staff is first-time church vocational with several being raised up from within our congregation.  It is really an unusual place.  If you ever have the opportunity to be in West Texas, you are most welcome.

God bless you and keep you,

Andy Deck

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