May, 2006    Return to: pastorob's current journal

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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:

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."

For this is what the high and lofty One says—
       he who lives forever, whose name is holy: 

   "I live in a high and holy place,
      but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
      to revive the spirit of the lowly
      and to revive the heart of the contrite."

                                           Isaiah 57:14-15

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.

Pastor Rob,
I managed to repair an old small generator I had and it seems to be doing well.

How's every thing on your side? I'm in prayers with Pastor Rob.

You and I can relate to 1 Peter 5:9. Only God's abundant grace is upholding me as it is with you.

I thank God for you all always and your people at FBC Galt.
Abundant grace,
Pastor Wesley

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

...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.

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.

...La Mancha?

  ...well,  here's another clue for you all:

Hey, friends,
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


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.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

More secrets in La Mancha Code:

Jennifer and I just figured it out. Get this--Seven days from now (on May 31th), it will be exactly 6 days from 06/06/06...the Gubernatorial Primary Elections will be held on that very day (13 days from today).

I know...I know...
it makes you consider whether you ought to vote in that election...

If that isn't enough...consider this...

Page vi (Roman numeral for 6) of our own 1991(upside double-six) Baptist Hymnal begins the opening paragraph of the introduction to this collection of 666 songs with a quote by Benjamin Keach from the 1691 edition of his hymnbook:

'Tis a hard case that any Christian should object against that duty which Christ and his Apostles, and the Saints in all ages in their publick assemblies were found in the practice of it; but 'tis no easie thing to break people of a mistaken notion, and an old prejudice taken up against a precious truth of Christ.

The Lord will, I hope satisfy all his People about this heavenly ordinance in due time, and they shall not call it a Carnal nor a Formal thing anymore,...

I 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 embrace that."

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:

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"What are we going to do?
is leaving the church!"

Monday is traditionally the day when most pastors write their letters of resignation.

For me, however, Mondays are usually one of the best days of the week. I'm still running on a nearly-full tank of GOD-sightings. Enough good stuff has happened to me in all my interactions with real people who God is calling to His Word.

With two services on Sunday, Outreach on Sunday afternoon, and at least an hour-long Evening Service, I multiply the possibility that I'll see God working in the lives of a great number of people I saw (or heard) just the day before.

So, yesterday (being a Monday), I decided to sit down and have a little talk with our secretary Jennifer. Yet another season of 'living through the aftermath' of a few key people 'leaving' is upon us. Our secretary would need to know how to help me help the church to understand the peculiar dynamics of letting people go.

I don't let go of people EASILY.

I remember journaling about the 'Dear John' letter that I received from a woman whose family would be leaving our church. She had shared how much they all loved me but...

I said, "No."   Remember?   I said, "No." 

"No, you can't break up with us. No."

Well, they did anyway. But, just like teenage romance...there is always the chance of getting back together later. Now, we're 'going together' again on the local-church level. AND I'm THRILLED about that.


It's that time again. Certain individuals have informed some of us that they have left. Did they tell us WHY?  No.  Why not?  BECAUSE they don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. They LOVE us all.

After my Mother died (abandonment), my Dad remarried. I really attached myself emotionally to the NEW Mom. Then, 18 months later, when Mom decided to leave us all (and take her OWN kids away with her), I was CRUSHED (abandonment). My Dad hadn't abused her. He didn't cheat on her. No, she had her reasons...but it didn't mean she didn't LOVE us.

****FAST FORWARD to an adult view of

Periodically, after SOMEBODY leaves, one of the remnant will voice the oh-so-familiar observation: 

 "EVERYBODY is leaving..."

I don't ever accept that phrase as the ultimate truth. It is a feeling. A very real's just not the TRUTH. Some left because they DIED. Some left because they MOVED. Some left because of UNMET NEEDS thought to be met better elsewhere. Some did leave because of you .... or because of me.

Two Lessons learned from my family-of-origin:

1.  With the decision for my step-Mom to divorce us, everybody did not leave.
2.  The littlest ones are usually hurt when they experience a major loss.
My sister (my angel), Nancy, was still there... She didn't love "Mom" anyway. In fact, she had been treated like Cinderella by 'that wicked step-mother."

Brother Dickie?  Well, he never mentioned whether he was hurting. He didn't come home all that often anyway. (in the local church, there also many members who are 'gone' quite a bit....even if they REMAIN faithful members), so they don't seem to notice that "EVERYBODY" is leaving...because there's always somebody still at home.

Barbara? Yes, she was hurt. But Mom always treated her quite well...and she would be a useful babysitter in the years ahead when Mom asked her to come to Chicago and stay summers with her.

Me?  Was I hurt?  Yes. My mother had died when I was five and now this beautiful, sexy, nice lady who had told me she would always LOVE me was leaving us. I was only six-and-a-half.

Mike? He was only 3 when our Mother died. He had just finished Kindergarten when Mom ditched us. Did he cry at either event? No. He seemed numb to the reality. He would often sit on the couch and rock back-and-forth...

My step-brother, Gary, was also 5; my step-sister, Angela, was only 4 when their mother (my Mom) took them away from us. I never called Gary my step-brother. I loved him as much as I loved Mike (my other little brother).

Angela? I loved her even more. She was my little sister.  Remember 1.5 years is a LONG, LONG time for little children.
Later, Gary, would be the first to die. He was only 19 when the Cystic Fibrosis finally took his life.
Then, when Dickie was 19, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and died thirteen years later.
I remained close to both of those brothers up until the day they died.

Everyone else is still alive somewhere.

...Still my brother, ...still my sister. Even Mom is still Mom. Do we hang together? No. Mad at each other? I'm not mad at any of them.

Dad remarried years later. I was 12 going on 21 when he married Sandy. Did I ever call her my mother? No. My Mom? No. 

But Sandy was a Christian...and lived like a Christian. I love her and I respect her. She certainly has been a good influence in my life but, for the most part, I view her as my Dad's wife.

Likewise, I am not everybody's "pastor"....

To some, I'm "the preacher"....

to others, I'm "Brother Rob".....

and probably the most-important fact for those who understand family dynamics, I am viewed as the
"step-pastor" for those who were 'abandoned' by their real pastor.

So, what's a God-Called shepherd to do? 

Feed the lambs. Care for the Sick. Visit the Nursing Home. Show up and sing songs at the side of the Deathbed, speak respectfully of those who eventually die (young and old), and wash the feet of those who continue to sit down at the Father's Table with me....

As always during the aftermath of somebody's departure, we need to remember life's lessons and not allow any hint of resentment or bitterness to choke out the Living Word of God in our lives.
This Sunday, we will have our COMBINED SERVICE at 10:00 with a Potluck afterwards. During the Worship Service, we will sing some OLD HYMNS and some NEW SONGS (including these words):

He gives and takes away,
  He gives and takes away,
     My heart will choose to say,
          Lord, Blessed be Your Name...

Call me if you need a ride:  209 323-0727

On a Lighter Note:

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 about it?"

"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 (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.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

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 morning household 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:

15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only;

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.

After 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 Big Picture.

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:


Joe, 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 right now.

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

Due to computer difficulties at home, I have only had the ability to upload this page from the church office. So, my regular writing has been minimal. Then again, I haven't had much to share. Perhaps my allergies are partly to blame. This week, I just haven't been very optimistic or motivated. However, when I get in the place where there are members of my local church (...and we read the Word together...or pray together...or hear a brief testimony) and I, again, fix my attention upon that which is Unseen, I experience revival.

Beverly and I went on Visitation this morning and I was refreshed by the experience. Likewise, our Wednesday night gathering brought me a deep sense of refreshment. The New Testament teaching of our call to interdependence resounds.

This morning Pastor Wesley called from Liberia to check on me. He informed me that he no longer has internet access at home, so his phone call came from a cell phone. He purchased a calling card and had a few precious minutes to speak. His voice was crystal-clear compared to his computer phone.

May God grant forward-seeking REVIVAL to all of us. Thanks for dropping by.'s a letter I wrote to Rodney Edwards. Maybe you'll benefit from reading his letter to a group of interested individuals:


I just wanted you to know that upon receipt of this letter, I printed a hardcopy and sat in our sanctuary for an hour--reading it slowly--and praying for you...and for each of us.

Later, at Wednesday Night Bible Study, a brother mentioned that Liberia was featured on Oprah that day (I had missed it)! However, late that night I caught a re-run. It was Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's interview. Very good. So, now we all know that Oprah-watchers everywhere have learned about this one nation to whom God has called a few Americans.
Just wanted to thank you for writing your inner-most thoughts to us.

Rob Patterson

On March 17, wrote:

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.”

Rodney Edwards
Service To Servants in Liberia

Liberian Ministries

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Some of 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:

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work— which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 

Monday, May 15, 2006

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.

Last year, I researched the battles of the 27th Infantry: click here for Strawberry 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 . . . Click here
            (Jebby singing Potluck in Heaven)

    Between Sneezes: click here

Wednesday, May 10, 2006 (revised mid-afternoon)

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.

10:5 He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son,
       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.

10:9 The man of integrity walks securely, 
       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.

10:12 Hatred stirs up dissension,
         but love covers over all wrongs.

That's right.

10:17 He who heeds discipline shows the way to life,
         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 AmericGraphic shows newborn mortality rates in selected countries. (AP Graphic)a 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. 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:

Dear Pastors Rob and Wesley,
   Just a quick note to bless the Lord for His goodness, and to thank you and all those who are contributing to the work of your church in Liberia. I'm very particularly delighted to hear about the ultrasound machine you're trying to ship to be used in your Monrovia clinic.

  Considering the fact that the entire health delivery system of the country collapsed during the 14 years of civil war, the very pressing need for such medical equipment cannot be overemphasized. Many women have died from childbirth due to problems that take simple medical procedures here in the US.
   By His Grace, I'll be leaving Sacramento in a few weeks to go to Liberia to serve as Assistant Minister for Information, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, a position to which the President of Liberia recently appointed me. Hope to visit your church in Monrovia.
   And please don't hesitate to let me know if there's any way I can help to publicize some of your activities in the Liberian media.    
   May the Lord bless your endeavors.

Kind regards,

Gabriel Williams

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 Full.

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."

(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).

May, 2006   

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