CLICK ABOVE for a closer look, Click Again to release
Years ago, I experienced a season of praying this prayer daily.
I was taught that I could personalize each phrase and make direct application
to the situations that we were facing that very day.
Sometimes those prayers are all-important to what will be revealed next.
If you would like the embed code for this PrayerCube,
email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
In remembrance of
Hyperlink: Thinking Inside the Box (view more)
Abram Book, a writer for Leadership (Christianity Today) informed me that his story will be published in the summer edition of that journal. He had interviewed me about our church's involvement in Liberia for a story he was writing about Rick Warren's P.E.A.C.E. plan. Click here for more information
And it will be said:
"Build up, build up, prepare the road!
Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people."
Pastor Wesley wrote to me yesterday. Later we chatted online. He has regained access to the Internet at home and now has a personal power supply.
Thank you, Pastor Wesley for continually
pointing me toward God's Word.
No matter how many steps we've taken away from the Lord, we're only One Click Away from Home
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Tomorrow (May 31, 2006) marks the end of this month and it will bring to a close a very trying season of my life. June 1st is the deadline (of my second extension) to turn in my doctoral prospectus. Missing that deadline means that I will have to withdraw from the doctoral program I began in the year 2000. I finished all the classroom seminars years ago and have spent over 1.5 years focusing upon hands-on research in the utilization of the Internet in three areas:
1. Technological Innovations
2. Relational Connections
3. Generational Distinctions
However, a misunderstood and undefined angst continually seemed to impede my ability to simplify the whole of artistic vision into the required format for submitting that prospectus. I did write (and edit) several manuscripts but just couldn't make it up to the top of that academic mountain.
Of course I am saddened by the personal failure and I'm certain that a number of others will be disappointed as well. However, I have wasted far too many hours of restless sleep worrying about this.
Ben Pennington (Laverne's grandson) sent me an encouragement (not knowing what application it may have to remind me of my own sense of personhood):
5/29/2006 11:32 PM
Hope you don't mind, but my friend shared this with me and I was on the floor laughing. It's crazy.
Turn Your Worries into Prayer
Monday, May 29, 2006
Today, I will reflect upon the many wonderful glimpses of God's Zoom-Out...
Just no time
allotted for writing today. So here's a rerun
from a couple days ago.
La Mancha Code...just for fun (view more)
Saturday, May 27, 2006
update: ...I just returned from my second appointment today. Bryan Ryan has asked Jesus to be his Savior and Lord. While we were out in the parking lot reading and discussing passages from Romans 3:23, 6:23 and chapter 10, Nick rode by on his bike and greeted us. Later, Claudia drove past and Michelle made sure to call out from the window, "Hi, Pastor Rob."
Although, neither Bryan (43), Joe (54), nor Tommy (45) are computer-literate, it's important for the church to be aware that Nick and Michelle belong to a generation that might be reached this way:
WitnessCubed (view more)
...Sunday's comin'. Jim Parkinson and I have to rehearse with Jebby this afternoon. The script for this musical holds mysteries for those who are who finding moisture in La Mancha.
Yesterday was full of adventure for me. As I consider which few items to include, I am reminded how difficult it is to write about local issues without being misunderstood. That reminds me that sometimes God gives you a friend who does understand.
Recently, I wrote quite openly about people leaving and the pain that is experienced by those who are left to face the loss of loved ones. I lost one of my dearest friends a year ago (March 4th). Veda knows everyone involved and now probably see circumstances and local church history much more clearly than I do today. This photo from her myspace site is a reminder of how God had sent her to regularly encourage me to keep on keepin' on.
Tommy tells me that she was 88 when she died. Veda didn't tell her age primarily because she didn't want to grow old. I have to admit, I never thought about her age as limiting her youthfulness. She was younger than me in many ways during our five years together. I still miss her.
Those who truly know me™ know how excited I am over the appointments that have been made for me today. At 9:00, I hope to share the gospel with a man my age and see if he will ask Jesus into his heart.
(update: my first appointment with a church member
went from 6:15 until 8:45. We didn't even pray.)
Cathy went to take a nap early in the last night and slept through the most of the night. Jerry played his final show with A Skylit Drive last night at Club 180 in Lodi. Joe worked a full day at Longs and then went with Ronny and area Youth to a Newsboys Concert in Stockton. I watched a Stone Philips and his coverage of the elaborate deception a certain man had employed to foster belief in the whole Priory of Sion legend which is being discussed in the popular culture these days. The current buzz will all soon be forgotten by the mainstream soon.
The controversy surrounding the Da Vinci Code reminds me of the interest I took as a kid in a movie that came to town: Chariots of the Gods. It was presented as a pop-documentary and served to tie biblical stories to architectural remnants of lost civilizations and speculation about visits to Earth by ancient astronauts.
from yesterday morning's devotional:
Click on the cube for a closer look,
click again to return
Megalomaniacal Dream (view more)
La Mancha Code...made plain (view more)
Friday, May 26, 2006
I went to my Sunrise Rotary Club and made arrangements for the amount which will be sent to the company which has crated the Ultra Sound machine and two microscopes donated by Memphis Baptist Hospital.
Upon payment to the Crating company, Rodney Edwards (LM) will pick up the crate and store it until the shipping container is ready to head out for Liberia. This joint effort is very exciting for those of us who have the opportunity to cooperate in ministry. Thank you, Al Warren, for your never-ending desire to equip the saints for works of service.
Beverly and I are scheduled to spend some time with Terry Shepherd learning about the Food Closet she began here. Yesterday, I met a woman who came seeking assistance with food. I asked her to come back today and we will see what happens next.
...well, here's another clue for you all:
about La Mancha: I'm just having some fun with my son, Joe. Yet, these playful musings in La Mancha cause me to thirst for the real Gospel of Jesus to go forth in this generation...
La Mancha Code...made plain (view more)
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Who wrote THE BOOK OF MORMON?
Today, a couple of Mormon missionaries came to our door. I respectfully shared with them the mystery of their 'prophet' Joseph Smith, his connection with Sidney Rigdon
...and Solomon Spaulding's novel.
Manuscript Found: click here
The two Mormon boys (Moreno and Larson) are going door-to-door reaching out to Spanish households with their teachings. Before I left for the Pastors' Camp in April, I had spoken with two other Mormon missionaries (Boggs and Miller). Elder Boggs told me that he had been raised in a Southern Baptist home in North Carolina.
I gave Moreno and Larson my phone number and asked them to ask Elder Boggs to call me before he leaves Galt.
must tell them: if Common prayer lay
under Sacred Institution in the New
Testament, as singing of Psalms and
Hymns doth, I should as freely
I know...I know... it makes you consider whether you ought to sing at church...
Check out the words to Hymn Number 666:
Holy, holy, holy, Holy is the Lord.
Holy, holy, holy, Holy is the Lord.
Holy is the Father,
Holy is the Son,
Holy is the Spirit; Blessed Three in One.
What meaneth all this? Well, if you didn't listen yesterday, you'd better click below and listen today:
Here's Pastor Tim Stevenson's Opening Message
CLICK HERE for Audio: The Da Vinci Code
Final Clue for today: Between the time you finish and the moment you arrive at our Sunday 'publick' gathering, look for an ancient windmill...
or simply contact me for my exclusive DVD Sermon Series (with reproducible notes):
La Mancha Code: Deciphered
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
On a Lighter
Here's Pastor Tim Stevenson's Opening Message
CLICK HERE for Audio: The Da Vinci Code
Monday, May 22, 2006
"You google people?!" she asked with that incredulous tone so familiar to her Daddy's ears.
"Well, yeah...adults do that, honey."
I had just asked Mary if she remembered how I had warned her about how a kid had gotten killed--all because a text-message announcing a birthday party had gone out to everyone on someone's cell phone contact list. It was months ago...
"Yeah, I was googling Pastor Ken Hendon to see if there was anything on the Internet about him. The news account said that the 16 year old boy had been a member of his church."
(click here) to read the article
"Did you talk to him
"No, I googled him after church last night."
Golly, now that I read the story again, I see that the shooting took place in Elk Grove (not Stockton) so maybe it was a different Rev. Kenneth Hendon who spoke at the boy's funeral. Well, I'll find out tomorrow because 'our' Pastor Hendon is gonna call me to get together.
He has been preaching at our church every second Sunday evening for a couple months. Pastor Hendon is the first pastor in our association of regional churches to accept my invitation to go to Liberia to assist Pastor Wesley. As an older pastor, I'm being used to spur this humble young man to prepare for the future. He is a great preacher with good doctrine. I have been telling others that he preaches in the traditional African-American style. However, last night he made sure to distance himself from that description. He said,
"I'm not traditional...I'm not an entertainer."
So, I listened to his heart as he was getting warmed up to preach away at the tip of an iceberg found in II Timothy 3:1-5:
But mark this:
There will be terrible times in the last
days. People will be lovers of
themselves, lovers of money, boastful,
proud, abusive, disobedient to their
parents, ungrateful, unholy, without
love, unforgiving, slanderous, without
self-control, brutal, not lovers of the
good, treacherous, rash, conceited,
lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of
God—having a form of godliness
but denying its power. Have nothing to
do with them.
So, I figure that the young preacher has seen some stuff in his church background that has made him want to clarify for us that his preaching style isn't about 'tradition.' He wanted to affirm the role of the Holy Spirit in his outward platform presentation of the Gospel.
Nevertheless, I find the guy quite 'entertaining.' He'd better be...he preaches until he's done. Last night he started after the Youth Choir sang (6:30) and finished around 7:45. Robin McCall says that she likes to let preachers preach until they're done!
Yeah, well, Jerry said that the Da Vinci Code was a really long movie...
Laverne Avila, of all people, asked me to preach on the Da Vinci Code. She doesn't use the Internet so she didn't know that I had already made some public comment about that current event. However, it came up in the Youth Sunday School yesterday. Jerry was sharing that his boss (at Togo's) was kinda preaching the Da Vinci Code.
Jerry refuted his boss's assertion with a quote Dad had made about church history. Then, in Sunday School, he asked the Teacher (Dad with a tie) for some specific facts with which to empower him to speak intelligently to his boss.
There you go folks...those specific Sunday morning promptings weigh heavier with me than Outreach.com (or whoever else is marketing their purchaseable programmed Da Vinci church-stuff).
See the good folks down at Horizon Community Church for their current Sermon Series. They're right on Highway 99 in that former Bingo Hall--just across the Jordan River. Me and Caleb crossed that river for a look way back when--it seems like it was a generation ago...but then again, I'm thankful for what Eli Tavarez refers to as a little watering hole in the midst of the desert.
You know what else I've gotta deal with? Eva's blog from a couple days ago. So, she rented Brokeback Mountain and liked it?
No, I haven't seen it. I really don't even want to. Where's the Brokeback Mountain DVD Sermon Series? When the Gay Activists finally start to google pastorob, then I'm likely gonna be labeled as 'anti-gay' by somebody. (Remember, I'm not the only guy who goes by the name pastorob...)
I'm not 'anti-gay'. I'm not homophobic either. In fact, I'd like to be able to say that I belong to a 'gay-friendly' church...but that would probably just cause trouble. You see, like Pastor Hendon said last night, I'm not 'anti-gay'...I'm 'anti-SIN'...
Yesterday, we had a sinner-sensitive service. That's right.
I wouldn't mind if next Sunday, our Public Service was full of people who lie, cheat, steal, commit fornication, slander, gossip, etc. As long as there was some 'real' Christians at the altar ready to love them into the Kingdom of God.
Real Christianity gets messy because all we have to work with are people (...and every single person is a sinner--according to the Bible). In fact, even those who try for integrity still must acknowledge that the Bible speaks of our mixed motives. Bill Engel labeled it: Grade A Flesh.
I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:9-10
Cathy was called in to
teach Kindergarten all week at the
Public School down the street from where
we live. So, I took over her assertive
role and made sure that our high
schoolers would be there in time for
first hour to begin. How long, Lord?
Just a few more years...Daniel is
in 11th grade and Mary is in 9th.
Yesterday, Joe (20) played piano for both services. Jerry came forward and knelt at the altar during the second service. He is seeking direction for his life at age (18).
We now have Glenn Parker back as our Bass Player. I asked Rodger Parker's buddy, Joe Andratti, to come to Band Practice this week. Although he is a new visitor, I felt impressed as a shepherd to assign him to a task: Lord willing, he will play acoustic guitar with the A Street Band this coming Sunday.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
We had a great time in the House of the Lord today. Both morning services were active in people praying for each other. I was very happy to see visitors in both services. Some were people we had recently invited on Friday morning Visitation. Others were newcomers to Galt. God really blessed me with these signs of the harvest.
Jim and I went to Sacramento to practice with Jebby's Troupe for Brothers. Then we got back in time for service with Pastor Ken Hendon. So thrilled that Joe, Brian, Rocky, Bill, and Jean all decided to come back for the Evening Service. Afterwards, Mike, Robin, Lynn, Cathy and I went to Hunan House to talk over the day's events. I'm feeling blessed.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
From Philippians chapter 4:
16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.
17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.
receiving some disheartening
news last night, I tried to work
through steps of yielding my
conflicted feelings to the Lord.
Finally, these above verses came
to my mind and, as a result, I
am prompted to think upon the
Giving and Receiving. Blessings flow both ways for the church. Paul was remembering an important season when he was in need of practical assistance. The needs of that season were met by the little church in Philippi. It will remain important for me to remember the different seasons when a small group of people were empowered and directed by God to come alongside me in my calling. Cognizant that I have been the recipient of countless gifts in Jesus' Name, I must give thanks to God with all my heart. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for every single person you have sent to work alongside me throughout the years.
Cathy just shared some good news with me. An important person from our past found us this morning. (Sometime ago I cancelled our home phone to save money and those from the past don't always know how to find us.) Tammy called with a praise of expectation that we have been waiting upon for over two decades. The news has to do with this story:
Jerry, and I went to see
the Da Vinci Code at the
4:10 matinee yesterday. I hadn't
read the book but thought I
should see the film. Due to all
the pre-screening controversy, I
couldn't really enjoy the story
for its own sake. I'm surprised
that the historical inaccuracies
weren't corrected somehow in the
film version. I did enjoy the
visual texture of the historical
flashbacks. Besides that, I
don't have much to say about it
After having submitted my whole life to the calling of God in 1982, I read a number of books which dealt with issues raised by the author of the Da Vinci Code. I also have come to learn that not all Christians take the opportunity to read and feed themselves what is necessary for their discipleship. As a pastor, I need to remember that.
Last night, David Letterman worked hard with a line-of-questioning for his guest, Mary Cheney, upon the release of her new book. I hadn't ever taken the time to consider her role in the election of Bush/Cheney. So, I was interested in the political dynamics at play in that single interview. Underneath the political dynamics, I think that I could discern an all-important family dynamic.
Obviously we aren't all called to focus on the same issues. Early on, I was surprised to read an interview with Billy Graham wherein he distanced himself from the abortion issue. He stated that his calling wouldn't allow for a focus upon that issue or any other.
Not much solved here for me today. Just writing. Well, there is one matter resolved:
God loves me and the Bible says that He loves you too. Steve Harrison recently instructed and encouraged a living appendage of our church family:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. II Timothy 3:16-17
Meditating upon truth: a good way to start a new day.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Ohh...here's a letter I wrote to Rodney Edwards. Maybe you'll benefit from reading his letter to a group of interested individuals:
On March 17,
I was thinking today about the work that God has called us to do in Liberia and a quote by Oswald Sanders came to mind. It reminded me of the criticality of moving forward once God shows us His will in an area. For whatever reason, we choose to delay many times under the guise of planning, preparation and even prayer (all of these are Godly activities rightly done). Yet when we continue to allow people to die without proper access to His gospel then we are no different than the son who was asked by his father to work that day. “I will go”, he replied. But he didn’t.
The average lifespan in Liberia is under 50 years. Recent news reports show that Liberia has the highest infant mortality rate IN THE WORLD. Our vision is to Reach the Nation of Liberia for Christ. Yet we must be misunderstanding what a nation is. It’s not a particular piece of land on a continent somewhere, it’s the PEOPLE that inhabit that particular piece of land. God has called us to reach them for His Son’s sake. Yet every day a portion of that nation dies never to be reached.
I’m concerned that I’m missing God’s timing as I seek to obey him, that I’m saying enthusiastically “I’ll go” yet delaying in disobedience. Join me in praying that God will move each of us to see the important of His timing as we seek to obey His calling.
“It is to be kept in mind that the generations of men do not wait for the convenience of the church in respect to their evangelization. Men are born and die whether or not Christians are ready to give them the Gospel. And hence, if the church of any generation does not evangelize the heathen of that generation, those heathen will never be evangelized at all. It is always true in the work of evangelization that the present can never anticipate the future, and that the future can never replace the past. What is to be done in soul saving must be done by that generation.” (J. Oswald Sanders)
I’ll leave you with a quote from Carl Henry,
“The Gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.”
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
our nation's larger churches are
advertising that they will be speaking
about the upcoming film: The
Da Vinci Code.
I recently admitted that I didn't think
I'd get on this particular bandwagon.
You may know that I've always enjoyed hearing Ron Howard speak about his filmmaking projects. I would probably want to see the film because Ron directed it. However, I seriously doubt that many of the adults I know will go see the film themselves. Still, I should be prepared to informally discuss the issues involved because I continually meet unchurched people who do frequent movies. Indiana Jones gave many people their first glimpse of the Ark of the Covenant and the outside of Masada.
I have grown more interested in the current TV buzz about the da Vinci Code, yet still don't sense the need to program a public outreach event from it.
So, instead of buying the banner, booklets, and DVD study guides, I'll offer you a free look at this link. Here is a primary source from the author: Dan Brown.
And of course, there's Paul's admonition to Timothy (and me) about pop-mysteries:
Monday, May 15,
Joe got back from southern California last night. He reported that although the concert at Camp Pendleton only had 26 in attendance, half of those marines prayed to receive Christ as their Savior.
I had stopped in to pray with Ronny Shindy before he led a small group of teenagers in a lesson about the Trinity. Although I didn't ask Daniel about the evening's teaching, he told me that it was a good Youth meeting.
Mike Harlan preached an inspiring message to the fourteen adults gathered to hear him.
He began with Peter on the waters of Matthew 14, visited Romans 8, Jeremiah 31, and Isaiah 43:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, you shall not be drowned:
when thou walk through the fire, you shall not be burned...
All of his scriptural citations and personal stories encouraged his listeners to not be afraid--but to keep putting one foot in front of the other, while keeping our eyes on Jesus.
On the way home, I stopped by Maddog Video and picked up a copy of The Family Stone thinking from a trailer that it would be an entertaining film. The clerk, a local preacher's granddaughter, told me that the movie had made her cry.
"But it says 'hilariously funny'," I replied.
"Well, it has some laughs...
but it is family stuff...
and that always makes me cry."
Knowing that Cathy
always cries during touching family
scenes, I didn't mention my
foreknowledge. One matter of family
stuff which was served up was that of a
'gay' couple. One of the gay characters
was also deaf and his partner was black.
Seated around a Christmas homecoming
meal, they discussed the hope of
adopting a baby boy. Sarah Jessica
Parker played the role of one who
was obviously flawed in her assumption
that there was something abnormal about
raising a child in that environment.
Joe and I listened to the Director's Commentary for that one scene. Thomas Bezucha said that this scene allowed for a small political moment. Watch it yourself. The entire film attempts to normalize gay marriage. My son, Jerry, caricatures his Dad's annoyance over this aspect of current script-writing. This generation has been shaped to just 'get over it.' On Mother's Day, our church's family stuff consider her own small moments:
Seriously Silly: Bobby G, Iona Ruth, and me: click here
Friday, May 12, 2006
Last night at music practice, we decided that we're going to feature an all-man worship team with special songs for Mother's Day (this Sunday). Jim Parkinson is going to sing alongside me.
Well, tomorrow Jim and I are going to have an afternoon rehearsal for Jebby's upcoming production of Brothers. Jim is playing the role of Henry Daggs (a flim-flam man who sells his wares to both sides). You may recall that I'm playing the role of a Southern preacher traveling with the troops. One of my solos will take place at Petersburg:
Now we starve like rats in trenches,
those of us who are not dead,
On hellish ground, we stood fast,
while the creeks were flowing red…
There are only just a few of us,
But we’ll march where we are led…
Four long years
of rancid rations,
Four long years of lice and fleas,
Four long years of dysentery,
Four long years of vile disease,
Four long years of amputations,
Four long years of forty rounds,
Four long years of rolling bandages,
(Rachel): Four long years behind a plow,
Four long years of marching barefoot,
Four long years we were underfed,
Four long years nursing the wounded
Reading lists of local dead
And it looks
like the war is finally winding down…
In preparation for my role, I looked over my archives to see about my ancestors' role in this particular scene from Jebby's play.
My g-g-grandfather (John Cleveland) was a Union Soldier but I don't know much else about him yet. From what I can figure his little brother, George Cleveland (pictured here)may have lied about his age when he enlisted in the 27th Infantry in Company G on December 21, 1863 at Vevay. I wonder when Uncle George's hand was amputated?
The records show that George and John both enlisted when they were 18 at different sites.
However, John was three years older than George. George was in the 27th Infantry for three years. He was mustered on January 7, 1864 and discharged on May 30, 1865.
From June 17-18, 1864, The Siege of Petersburg began and continued... The Michigan 27th Infantry was there at the beginning and for the final battle: the Capture of Petersburg on April 3, 1865.
I researched the battles of the 27th
Fields, Sadness, Sickness, and Sin in
Your Family Tree.
Our son, Joe, is leaving for Camp Pendleton tonight. No, he is not joining the Marines--he is performing with the New America Singers at Chapel Services tomorrow. Do you see any connection?
Today at Rotary, Mary Sanders spoke about Stress Management. One of our members added that a few years ago he had gotten so caught up with getting to and staying at a certain income level, that his doctor said,
"Either go home
and do things differently...or die."
Mary shared a handout with strategies for Stress Management. As I read through the list I see that many of the members of our church have built these same activities into their lifestyles. (If I find time, I'll make an abbreviated list of these and place them in a link.)
Thursday, May 11, 2006
My 'Thursday off' routine usually involves time with a buddy. Jebby and I just went out for our weekly VisionWalk. We talked through aspects of the upcoming musical: Brothers.
Although I am from the North (and my g-g-grandfather was a Union Soldier), I am playing the role of a Southern Preacher who travels with the Confederate soldiers. The many issues involved in our nation's history are explored as Christians on both sides of the Civil War are praying to the same God for Comfort, Correction and Confirmation. Here are some of the lyrics that Jebby wrote for the Preacher to sing as dynamic preparation for the light-hearted showtune Potluck in Heaven.
The Philistines have come down
from the North to burn our homes.
We must drive them from our soil,
with our cannons, sticks, and stones.
Have you gotten right
with the Merciful Almighty?
Have you put your faith
in our Saviour, Jesus Christ?
By the Precious Blood of the Lamb,
Everyone here can be saved.
As we’ve taken up the rifle,
let us not forget the Bible,
and hold fast to our Lord’s Promise,
Everyone of us...even Thomas.
God won’t leave us nor forsake us,
though the Yankees try to flank us;
It’s time to get right with God!
And when this life is over,
and we cross over the river,
we will join the Lord’s Brigade
and stand fast with Him forever.
There will be a feast prepared,
that the angels will deliver
in the presence of our loving God!
There’ll be a . . .
(Jebby singing Potluck in Heaven)
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
This morning Cathy was preparing her Exteriors before leaving to substitute as a Kindergarten teacher. She asked me to read aloud some Scripture, so I chose Proverbs Chapter 10. Later, I wrote a lengthy letter to a couple out-of-state friends about my Interiors. I felt that some of that overflow ought to be distilled and shared locally. The stats show that 87 visitors happened upon this very page yesterday.
If any of you are return visitors today, then I suppose that you have some special interest in getting to know me better. That's encouraging. Hopefully none of you are Identity Thieves seeking to steal something here. So, I'll say it again: I know...TimeTravel is risky business.
So, I'll press ahead and share selected proverbs (intended for you to read with your LifeMessage alongside mine):
10:1 The proverbs of Solomon:
A wise son brings joy to his father,
but a foolish son grief to his mother.
My father is still living and now shows his support for me as a minister of the Gospel. Although I'm not sure that my life brings JOY to him, I do know that I have his blessing. That is a valuable gift which brings great JOY to me.
Mother's Day is coming on Sunday. My chosen obedience to God's Call would bring JOY to my Motherl. Having died early in her life, she was deprived of watching her five children grow up. Still, her deathbed confession to my Grandma was that she was ready to meet Jesus. That thought continues to challenge my limited perspective of the day-to-day disappointments in life and ministry.
Somehow, the Holy Spirit had convinced my Mother that all things (in her family) would work together for the Good. That 'working' continues today--even as I will internalize the verses below.
10:4 Lazy hands make a man poor,
but diligent hands bring wealth.
Man, the conviction that came over me was quite real as I read this verse aloud to Cathy. I remembered the many, many times that I had chosen a similar verse for expository morning devotions at Alpha and Omega Ministries.
My lady brought me a cup of coffee as I diligently replied to the morning's emails. Wealth looks different through ministerial spectacles; still diligent fingertips advocating on the behalf of others bring an abundance.
He who gathers crops in summer is a wise
but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful
No point trying to go back to sleep after devotions this morning. Seeing the firstfruits of this year's Spring Harvest, I have been trying to gather wisdom all day long. I helped Joe tweak his Exteriors before leaving for his second day at Longs. Then, I drove Jerry to work at 8:00 AM; consulted with Jebby until 8:30 about the role of the Preacher in his upcoming musical, Brothers; shared with Jennifer and Terry the development of a new model to advance our church's mission locally, state-wide, nationally and internationally; sang and studied with Hugh (86), Eula, and Miss Parlee at the 11:00 in-home Bible Fellowship. Then, Eli Tavarez (76) took me out to lunch at the small airfield nearby. We were together for three hours. Last night, Ashley (17) sent me a comment on myspace saying that she expected to see me at the Greene's Bible Study tonight. No, this particular Wednesday hasn't allowed me much opportunity to bring disgrace upon the Father by sleeping during the harvest. That's good.
The man of integrity walks
but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.
This is an important verse to me because I choose to be an integrated man. I am coming upon the midway mark (49) with the desire to seek and save the fragmentation of earlier years. By acknowledging before the Lord all I am, have been, and hope to become, I can lean on His Understanding and trust Him to direct my steps along a path of righteousness.
He who heeds discipline shows the way to
but whoever ignores correction leads others
Today, both Hugh (86) and Eli (76) have spoken words of testimony which demonstrate the fruit of disciplined lives. At 3:45 in the afternoon, I still have several hours in which I may fully implement corrective measures to save myself and my hearers.
Tuesday, May 9, 2006
This morning I ministered at a graveside funeral to commemorate the life a newborn who had only lived among us for four days. Jeremy Ralph (J.R.) Mahaffie had been born prematurely and was only 11 inches long. He was perfectly formed and had bright blond hair.
I had met the parents yesterday afternoon and knew several of the friends and family. I shared the 23rd Psalm and personalized each phrase for this given day.
Later I read a story that decried the fact that America still has a relatively high rate of newborn mortality among the developed nations: 5 per 1,000.
click here for that story
Notice who still has the highest rate. Yeah, Liberia. Members of our local church have helped to build a medical clinic there, but it has yet to be staffed and supplied.
Al Warren is currently working on crating an ultrasound machine which has been donated.
Al Warren emailed me this message:
Craters and Freighters picked up ultrasound and two microscopes about 12:30 p.m. today so they should be getting on their way. Will let you share the good news.
Our local Sunrise Rotary Club has donated some money to help send it. Al Luna and Jerry Yates have also pledged some funds toward that end.
Liberianministries.com has offered to help us ship this important technology to Liberia. The Rotary Club of Monrovia has agreed to transport it to the Greater Love Medical Clinic whenever it arrives.
A story in today's Sacramento Bee features Gabriel Williams who will be leaving for Liberia later this month to serve in the new Administration. When Gabriel learned that we were hoping to send an Ultrasound Machine to Liberia, he wrote to us:
Monday, May 8, 2006
Life. Lennon said that it is what
happens to you while you're busy making
other plans. I saw a commercial that said it
happens to you somewhere between Empty and
Mondays. These are good days for church leaders to reflect upon what happened over the weekend. I saw signs of Life.
Caleb Community Choir was at Berea Baptist on Saturday night, so Cathy and I drove to Stockton to catch their performance. We hung around and met a few of the members so that we could feel more personally connected to these precious senior citizens.
Then we arrived at the Relay for Life in time to see Jerry (son #2) play with his band, A Skylit Drive. They have become a proficient performance band. Jordan now sings (screams) in pitch and engages the audience with good stage mannerisms. A lady standing next to me asked,
"Do you know what he's singing?"
I nodded and said, "The daisies are pretty."
Daniel (son #3) had been an Official Event Staff at the Relay for Life all day. It was good to see him in action. Mary (our only girl) was there too. She had planned to stay over with the older kids for the all-nighter. Daddy said, "No." We did, however, allow her to stay over at Christina's for the night.
Joe (the firstborn) ran into some old acquaintances so he hung out with them into the night.
Cathy and I went back to the church house to set up the stage for Caleb Choir. When we returned home, she worked on her Avon stuff and I researched Rocky Raccoon. Ernie Bergthold (our Gideon connection) was scheduled to visit so I wanted to take a trip down memory lane and revisit the first time I ever heard of Gideon's Bible. I was just a kid when I brought home that White Album bought with proceeds from my paper route:
Now somewhere in the black mountain hills of Dakota
There lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon
And one day his woman ran off with another guy
Hit young Rocky in the eye Rocky didn't like that
He said I'm gonna get that boy
So one day he walked into town
Booked himself a room in the local saloon.
Rocky Raccoon checked into his room
Only to find Gideon's Bible
Rocky had come equipped with a gun
To shoot off the legs of his rival
His rival it seems had broken his dreams
By stealing the girl of his fancy.
Her name was Magil and she called herself Lil
But everyone knew her as Nancy.
Now she and her man who called himself Dan
Were in the next room at the hoe down
Rocky burst in and grinning a grin
He said Danny boy this is a showdown
But Daniel was hot-he drew fast and shot
And Rocky collapsed in the corner.
Now the doctor came in stinking of gin
And proceeded to lie on the table
He said Rocky you met your match
And Rocky said, Doc it's only a scratch
And I'll be better I'll be better doc as soon as I am able.
Now Rocky Raccoon he fell back in his room
Only to find Gideon's Bible
Gideon checked out and he left it no doubt
To help with good Rocky's revival.
Sunday morning was delightful. Caleb Choir was superb. Ernie was entrusted with nearly $500 with which to publish Gideon's Bibles.
After the second service, Jim Parkinson and I drove to Sacramento to rehearse for the stage production of Jebby's Civil War musical: Brothers. Some of you folks have wondered 'whatever happened to Billy Neal?'
Reports have come to me that Billy has agreed to once again step onto a Sacramento stage.
The show will be performed there on June 9, 10, and 11. Click here for more information.
Pastor Kenneth Hendon was at the Epicenter again last night. He took us to John chapter 15 and spoke with us about abiding in the True Vine. That is exactly where Mike Harlan had us on Wednesday night. So, this morning that is where Cathy and I started.
That's Life...(a slice of it, anyway).
Saturday, May 6, 2006
We're experiencing technical difficulties with our computers at home, so I haven't been in the mood to write much.
However, an extended time of corporate prayer made a difference for me this morning as I was thinking about God's timing in Curt and Vi Estel's lives. For the last few days, the family has been anticipating Curt's last breath. Meanwhile, the Senior's Choir he has been directing is here in Northern California on tour.
I plan to go to Berea Baptist tonight to attend the choir's performance in order to pray about what I see and hear there. They are coming to connect with us at the Epicenter tomorrow. I want to be fully-connected with the Lord's Plan in all of this.
Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Ted Campbell just called
and asked if we would promote a concert for
the New America Singers on Monday evening,
June 26th. Of course, I desire to support
this traveling group of young people as they
begin their West Coast Tour which precedes
this year's international tour.
To learn more about the New America Singers: click here
and here's their video promo: click here
I guessed it--that Oprah would get interested in Liberia because of her recently-discovered DNA connection to the Kpelle tribe: Al Warren has been watching the news and sent me this link: click here
Monday, May 1, 2006
Yesterday afternoon, Cathy and I stayed after our church services so that I could assist La Luz de Cristo to baptize five people: two married couples, Javier and Barbara; Saool and Elsa, and an 18 year old named Jorge.
Ana translated the short message I shared about baptism and the proclamation over each person being baptized. It was a different experience for me.
In the evening, Ronny Shindy preached for us on forgiveness. It was his first time behind a pulpit. He has been in this church for over 18 years. I was happy to be in attendance at this event.
On our walk this morning we noticed that the Mexican tire shop was closed. Later, I discovered that La Compadres and other downtown Mexican stores were all closed...(and no Taco Truck by the railroad tracks).
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