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November 30, 2005

I was in Monterey with Cathy and heard John Kerry (C-Span) comment on the President's speech. I didn't have the chance to hear the referenced speech, so on Dec. 1, I found George Bush's speech online and copied this excerpt:

America will not abandon Iraq. We will not turn that country over to the terrorists and put the American people at risk. Iraq will be a free nation and a strong ally in the Middle East. And this will add to the security of the American people.
 In the short run, we're going to bring justice to our enemies. In the long run, the best way to ensure the security of our own citizens is to spread the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East.
 We've seen freedom conquer evil and secure the peace before.
 In World War II, free nations came together to fight the ideology of fascism and freedom prevailed. And today, Germany and Japan are democracies and they are allies in securing the peace.
 In the Cold War, freedom defeated the ideology of communism and led to a democratic movement that freed the nations of Eastern and Central Europe from Soviet domination. And today these nations are allies in the war on terror.
 Today in the Middle East, freedom is once again contending with an ideology that seeks to sow anger and hatred and despair.
 And like fascism and communism before, the hateful ideologies that use terror will be defeated by the unstoppable power of freedom. And as democracy spreads in the Middle East, these countries will become allies in the cause of peace.
                                                                                                                              George W. Bush
CLICK for speech: Nov 30, 2005


EarlyTuesday, November 29, 2005
--anticipating the second Advent candle

I checked my gmail inbox this morning. Surprisingly, there was only one personal letter but it was written with passion (for a forward). The demand was simple ... 
                Ruth said: 'This is a MUST-READ.'

Ruth didn't include a hyperlink to an online source for her must-read. So, I googled the name SGT. Walter J. Rausch and came up   with this link. I didn't read the e-zine (I'm just using it today as a link: MUST-READ).

If you don't like what you read there (or in  Dust (yesterday's pick) you might try a mid sixties-era ACTION comic book. One summer I read as many as I could from Ricky Green's box of comic books. I am guessing that the authors of the Kal-el and Jor-el mythic genealogy had some Jewish issues to work out for themselves.

Billy Harman was surprised that as a 12th grader I had never read Dostoevski. I had read 'Great Expectations' and I still have them.

I told Tom Lane that I woke up Cathy yesterday morning with my chuckles. Simply sitting up in the dark (to avert my dizzy spells) and rehearsing Sunday's events produced some 'I and Thou' chuckling.

    "What?", asks my bedmate.

    "Oh...just remembering."

Tom Neal came back from Iraq and we've hardly seen him. Connie, ask Tom to come over to the screen and read Ruth's MUST-READ.  

btw, Ruth is a tearful mother in our local church. Her tears speak louder than her political rhetoric.

A. J. Meredith is supposed to be back from Iraq now. I haven't seen him either. He's quite the writer as I remember...

Perhaps, A. J. will read Dust,

War and Peace,

this ol' song ,

and/or Ruth's MUST-READ

and, then, add to my understanding by rewriting history for his generation. I am reminded that Greg Parkinson (Ruth's boy) writes history from his current,
up-close, war-zone perspective

   "War. (huh) what is it good for?"

Recently, in the courtyard of our local church, my son, Jerry, (18) wrote on the banner being sent to Ruth's boy and his soldiers:
       "Have a super fun time in Iraq!"

Upon further investigation, Jerry assured this writer that he hadn't intended to be disrespectful. He had also drawn 2 thumbs up and written:        

               "Keep up the good work!"

Yet I am reminded of the day that my little brother asked Steve Hawley,
       "Did you kill anybody in Vietnam?"

                    (fade up)

Steve Hawley had more than one thing in common with
Billy Harman. Both of those returning soldiers entered the pages of my life story with enormous, quadrophonic stereo systems. I guess I was impressed after all.

In my vocation I have learned this:

Not all battles are fought with bayonets, bullets, and bombs. Tim Timbrook once shut the ever-running mouth of Jeff Bowling with these words:

   "I refuse to have a battle of wits
                       with an unarmed man."

I was a silent observer in that particular scene. Tim had previously been the super-christian in Jeff's eyes. Well, Jeff didn't have anything else to say--that day.


I hadn't heard anybody say:

    "Have a SUPER-FUN time
                     on the surgeon's table."

Interspersed with Sunday's laughter, real tears appeared on faces in our sanctuary. The adults knew they were powerless--yet remained prayful about Monday's scheduled operation. Anointing, words, hands, hugs . . .

The next day passed. Then, during evening choir practice, heads turned.

  pastorob's 24/7 cell phone was humming.

Q and A:
bottom line:
  The surgeon's bayonet had done its work.


Cathy and I are driving to Stanford today to visit the survivors of the battlescene. We're gonna have a SUPER-FUN time.

CyberMonday, November 28, 2005

"How can I defend myself
          if you deprive me of pen and paper?"

                                --Saddam Hussein (today)

Yesterday, I preached two sermons and shared thematic songs in three different multi-generational settings. I hadn't written an entry since Thursday. Instead, recent blogable experiences have been hyperlinked to a most unusual Sunday. I shouldn't walk into the pages of this particular Monday without first reflecting upon Sunday's links to antecedent events.

Relationships in my immediate family (and the ever-extending family) have been stimulated through this most recent holiday. I hope to process some of those interactions verbally in the days ahead. Cathy and I regularly have conversations about each of our children. Most of the time it is appropriate to discuss 'church' and 'community' relationships with her as well. However, many of the interactions I have with others in cyberspace occur with 21st century rapidity. Important moments can quickly be forgotten if left to my 'short-term' (random access?) memory.

Therefore, I will end this entry with a few strings around today's finger:

Somebody mentioned 'Billy Joel' and it prompted somebody's co-worker to look me up on the Internet. I think my voice had once reminded him of the former pop star. So, Billy Harman wrote to me.

I had met Billy Harman back when I was a boy. I think I was in fifth or sixth grade. He was a soldier who had been in Vietnam (I think) but would later spend time in Germany and Holland. Then I heard that he was working as a military attaché in Afghanistan. I described him as 'kinda like a secret agent' to my buddy. I figured he delivered papers in an attaché case.  Still, I didn't care much for adults.

His world seemed far removed from my own. My worldview was being shaped by emulating the actions (and re-thinking the thoughts) of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Their surroundings and times were different than mine but I identified with both of those boys. Billy Harman, however, didn't make much of an impression upon me as a kid.  

I know not the depth of soul-searching endured by Billy and others who have served as soldiers and diplomats. My contribution to this generation's war efforts have been less direct.

However, personal involvement in the world's wars have shaped the lives and thought of others in my family tree. These days I am allowing these aforementioned individuals to make a further impression:

George Washington Cleveland (reprise)

Robert C. Patterson (prelude)

Billy Harman answered a question for me. Who were the Sarssians?

Several google searches and hardcopy, library index-searching had not yet satisfied my inquiry. Mr. Harman has offered an answer. I had considered that option but had no source to cite.

Mr. Harman has published an online version of his novel: Dust. It might make for interesting reading for those who would choose to leave their bubble of arrogant ignorance. If any of you are well-read and up for a challenge, click here. btw...iyd..
       please send me your observations.

In an initiatory click-through, I developed an interest in his contrast between the God of Moses and the God of Joshua. awat

Joe and I watched a PBS special about Japan's invasion of China in 1938. The documentary served as another interpretive frame-of-reference to connect with our various visits in Asia. I was there in 1995 (Hong Kong, Indonesia). Joe has been to Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea in years past. I know that it was eye-opening for Joe to see the images preserved from battles so 'recently' fought in those very places.

During the month ahead, Joe and I will be sharing a study of the life and times of Charlotte Diggs Moon (1840-1912). Her personal invasion of China started at the age of 32 when she left her privileged southern lifestyle with a sense of mission.

Thanksgiving Thursday, November 24, 2005 

The turkey is in the oven. This entire branch of the Patterson Family will be around the table between noon and 1:00 for a meal. Our pilgrim from Liberia ought to be showing up for dinner (just like last year). Macdonald Wreh has been here for just over one year now. Last night Doug Shepherd led our fellowship through the Bible. We're reminded that it is good to 'give thanks' to God.

A fellow from Tustin was surfing the web and found our page. He, too, is quite interested in Liberia. He sent me this link to a project by another group of interested American Christians who have rallied around a young Pastor Shadrach. Joe and I have been reading the journals of those who have taken trips there to help with education and to start small businesses. If you would like to see what progress they have made:


We wrote to them and told them about our own ministry work in Liberia. Maybe we will be able to learn from each other and be more effective in our efforts.

children chasing

  Two of our church members, Mike and Robin McCall, made a one-month trip there in February, 2005. For those who have high-speed connection, you should be able to see these short videos clips from that trip.

Bible Story with Flannelgraph   5:53
Mike teaches 'the Limbo'
Jumping Rope
We Wanna See Jesus Lifted High  
Do you know your A.B.C.s?
Abigail and Eunice Dancing 
The Wesley Family 

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Joe is home for the week. We worked hard at compiling all the paperwork needed to get the Liberian Visa stamped on his passport. That involved a Yellow Fever Vaccination, more photographs, application, medical certificate, travel itinerary, details about financial solvency, etc. It was a lengthy process but it felt good to have this step completed and ready to be mailed off.

Then, I saw Karen busy at 'work' visibly supporting Charlotte in 'her ministry' was a beautiful sight until.....

Karen looked me in the eyes and asked,

How many
   of these shoeboxes have
you made?!"

   "None..."  (my simple, honest response)

   "......but I put some money in that box
               to help send them...."

"Ask Joe how many he made..."

 (I felt like Adam pointing over at Eve...)

Joe said, "They wouldn't want a box that I would put together."

I try to regularly share this fact in our public services. Although we share many opportunities to serve....and although we ASK for everyone to something, we can't EXPECT that everyone will give to everything. Still, there's that sense of 'peer pressure' when you walk past someone else 'working' in their ministry. I have a hard time watching someone in the church kitchen scrubbing pans while I'm standing there with a cookie and coffee in my hands.

In our local church some other important mission efforts have been completed. I wonder if anyone else missed being asked:

     HOW MUCH did
you 'work'?

115 'shoeboxes of love' were secured and loaded to send to children in Mexico.

17 similar gift boxes were packaged to send to Greg Parkinson and his fellow soldiers in Iraq with a banner signed by members of our church.

Sunday night, Pete Cowan told me about the recent training he and Jeannie received to serve in the Mobile Clinic at the Migrant camps next year. He said there will be a need for other people to help on several dates ahead.

As Karen and I continued our conversation an idea popped up:

Whenever we participate in 'any' mission endeavor we ought to receive a
           'GET OUT OF

    Now that's a thought worth 'working' on.

               ANY VOLUNTEERS?


how 'bout that person standing next to you with the coffee in his hand?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Yesterday, during the theme song (As for Me and My House) I experienced a fullness of thoughts. It was the second dose (11:00) of what we offer the community on Sunday mornings.

Cathy was interpreting the lyrics for Theo but he had turned around to acknowledge my I started showing off my 'sign language' abilities to him.

'my'  'house'   'the Lord'   'we' ... '

Well, I didn't know the sign for serve. Still, Theo was smiling...that's what I was looking for. I thought about 'my house' and nodded that all four of our teenagers were in 'service' with us.


>PLAY> I had been the substitute teacher for Loren's youth Sunday School. We shared a lesson from the New Testament, then went for a walk to the Donut Shoppe. Although there were only four students in the class, I recalled that I had baptized all of them. I enjoyed walking alongside them--enjoying the sunny, Sunday morning.


>PLAY> ...I look down at the bulletin. This is the last song. How will I transition to the sermon portion of the service? I look at the words one last time and step up to the platform to sing along with Pastor Dan.

I notice a couple stand they're leaving the sanctuary...

hmm...wonder where they're going?...)

I don't know these words coming up in the bridge so I'll have to lip-read Dan's mouth for what to sing next:

       "mothers and fathers,
            sisters and brothers,
                  we need each other . . ."

I notice two of my sons are smiling, whispering to each other, then giggling...

hmmm...are they commenting on
   the 'corniness' of this anthemic moment?

   I almost pantomime the 
'corporate waving
   of lighters and cellphones' .
..but keep that
   thought to myself...until now...)

Pastor Dan motions for me to watch him for 'direction.' He has a repeat/tag ending that he has planned.


I approached the preaching of the message differently during the second service. I had all the lights brought down and moved the lectern to the floor. This way the onscreen colors, words, and photos would become the focal point. My voice would be 'heard' more than 'seen'.

What an important the first service, I had acknowledged that 'my house' extends to those over whom we have exercised influence. I mentioned last Monday's message by Roger Barrier.
His theology (from Genesis 2) was helping me see that he could include me as part of 'his house'. Henry Blackaby's borders have been extended too:

When God speaks, that's our invitation to join Him in what it is He is about to do. The tender and sensitive heart will readily respond to the slightest prompting of the Spirit.

I could go on and on about what I saw "God doing" yesterday. Who should I talk to about all this?

"It is not good for the man to be alone."

Mike and Robin met Cathy, Joe, and me at the movie theater to see I Walk the Line together. Afterwards, I told Mike that all five points of his recent sermon could be illustrated by that film. So, could yesterday's sermon.

Well, I hope you invested your Sunday in the 'House of the Lord.' If not, today is the day that the Lord has made.'
Let Jesus come home with you!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Roger Barrier emailed me some sermon helps for this Sunday. On Monday (in San Jose) he preached some an important point that I wanted to share with our church.

This afternoon I'll pick up Sis (family nickname for Mary) and go to a wedding rehearsal for a local Denny's couple who are getting married tomorrow. As far as I know I've only had two couples out of all that I've married opt for divorce later on. Barna's 50% divorce rate for 'Christian' couples hasn't applied in my experience. I have a theory about that oft-quoted statistic. Ask me.

I called my Dad in Michigan early this morning. He said that it snowed some yesterday and was cold today. I told him about Eva's moving plans. He advised that they get some warm clothes and gloves.

Today, I Walk the Line is having its debut. The film sure has had heavy promotion. Most reviewers say that Reese Witherspoon will be nominated for an Academy award in the role of June Carter Cash. Joe is driving home tonight for the thanksgiving break. I'll guess that Mama and I will take Joe with us to see this movie. He actually enjoys hangin' with the parents.

During this thanksgiving break, Joe and I plan to work full-speed-ahead on his plans for 80 Days in Liberia. If you're interested in becoming involved, please email me.

For awhile (near the top of this page) I am going to include this link to a free research tool that I have used extensively. It is one way to 'connect' with others who may have uploaded their family history. Using only this path, I have found a great number of links to others who had information on several of my direct ancestors. This may be of no interest to you, however if you have the last name and a specific year of birth or death for one of your ancestors you may be surprised at what you discover.

My shortcut to free family research page:

Note: for the free stuff, SCROLL DOWN halfway to the box for SURNAME, GIVEN NAME, BIRTH PLACE, etc.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

As parents in our twentieth year of marriage, Cathy and I are working together to transition our children through the teen years. We sat together last night at the community memorial for Aaron Brooks. We first learned that Aaron was missing as we sat in our living room working on laptops. Mary read about him missing on myspace.

During the days that followed I heard many different facts about him. He had been in Char's Kindergarten class. The girls also remembered that he had attended one of our Vacation Bible Schools. Christina told me that she had brought him to church with her back when he was in 8th grade. Victoria had gone trick-or-treating with him last year.

Joyce and David had met the parents at Lodi Memorial Hospital when Aimee (and Aaron's older brother) were born. The young parents later visited our church with the Sayres but eventually joined the Seventh Day Adventist church. 

At the memorial it was interesting to hear different teachers, friends, and family members stand and speak of his relationship with each of them throughout the years. Jebby had been Aaron's guitar instructor. I am reminded to fix my eyes upon God who sees the Big Picture of our interconnectedness.

The memorial slideshow ended with a stream of myspace messages to Aaron's webpage. On the way home, we talked about the role that the internet played in sharing information about this community tragedy.

I reminded the girls that everything they publish on myspace is subject to the review and interpretation of others. Cathy and I have much more to do to raise our teens (and influence their friends) in the days immediately ahead of us.

... and that's life during our twentieth year of marriage in twenty-first century small-town California:

             In God We Trust.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I prefer being a morning person. I woke up at 6:00 today--ready to get up and get moving.
I had spent some time looking at Roger and Julie's church I woke up thinking about them as role models.

Since I have had so many hyperlinks in recent days, I thought I'd better give you readers an opportunity to scroll down and click on something you didn't get to. So, that's all for today. (scroll, click, and see...)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The State Conference was focused on music in the Church. The President of the Fellowship of Church Musicians is Don Fugate. Since my traveling companion was his Dad, I got to tag-along to lunch as he hosted the key speakers:

Roger and Julie Barrier: click here

What a blessing. Yesterday I mentioned that Roger's ministry has collided with mine (indirectly). Well, when I heard him preach, I just kept nodding in affirmation. He voiced a theology of Comfort. Later, Julie shared insights on Navigating in a Culture of Choice.

Both messages fit well with all three services we had shared from the Epicenter on Sunday.
Jim asked Roger to sign a book he had purchased for Al and Cathy Warren.

I spoke with Julie about the 'healing services' we had hosted during Dolores Dick's ministry among us. I gave Julie a copy of the CD:

     A Theology of Suffering and Healing

which contains important messages from nights 1 and 2:

Jim Fugate

Roger Williams

and a sermonic audio montage over the season's theme song (by Greg Brayton):

God Will See Us Through: fbcgalt audio-salve

Pop Culture News: I'm looking forward to seeing the film: I Walk the Line. It's the love story of Johnny Cash and June Carter. I don't know much about their story but Jebby has read Johnny's biography. I saw the last music video Johnny had published after I learned that his wife of 35 years had died. He had covered a song called 'HURT' by Nine Inch Nails. It was profoundly touching. Here's an interesting link called the Johnny Cash Family Tree. It shows his influence over others in the pop culture. I used to watch a TV variety show that he hosted. Even though I was into Blues, Rock, Jazz, and Fusion, I always enjoyed Johnny Cash.

In ninth grade, I was in a musical tribute band modeled after Johnny Cash. My buddy, Dave Paradine, was the arranger and lead guitarist; I was Norm (Kid) Cash (guitar and vocals); my girlfriend was Norma Cash (Teri Booher). She wore the nearly-new shop dress and played the scrub board. Yeah, I think we did a medley of Folsom Prison Blues, Its Cryin' Time Again, and I'm Goin' to Jackson for the Talent Show at Louis E. Legg Jr. High.

TV NEWS: If my Grandma Blair were still living, we would sit down for a cup of coffee and she would eventually get to the bad news of the day:

"Say...what about that 18 year old who killed his girlfriend's parents?...."

...then, I would add that I had seen the report. He had kept her out all Saturday night, there was a fight when they arrived...then, how they drove from Pennsylvania to Indiana...the FBI has been looking over both of the kids' webpages...and haven't found anything that fits the normal profile for this kind of fact, there was talk of the church youth group, etc.

The thief comes to steal, kill, and to destroy.


I probably would tell Grandma about how the kids use the internet these days and that's one way I can learn more about their worldview.

Then, Grandma would say, "I sure wouldn't want to bring a child into this world. I'm glad I already raised mine."

Grandma started making that statement in the early 70's.

She also told Cathy and me: "Don't take those babies over to Africa to get sick and die." Joe and Jerry were just toddlers the day she said that. I was surprised at her boldness. She was a Christian. I thought that she would affirm that Cathy and I were willing to go wherever God were to send us.

Well, Joe's planning to go to Africa in January. He's not a baby anymore, Grandma. Still, I'm asking him to make sure that he is preparing himself spiritually to face trials or suffering (if called upon to endure such).

Monday, November 14, 2005

If you're reading this then you are only getting my initial 'hello' for the day. I'm driving to San Jose today with Jim Fugate to attend a State Conference where Roger Barrier (pastor and author) will be sharing a message. This man doesn't know me but the Lord has used his life's message at four points. The fourth point was in a phone conversation I had with him.

I'm without a secretary right now, and I wanna upload the Daily Bread for today. So, check back later to see if I had a chance to remark on yesterday's church experiences. It was a FULL DAY of God working among us.

Click here for the Daily Bread.

The L.A. Times ran this story about the challenge of meeting unusual needs of certain people groups in Liberia. Children were forced to take up arms and indiscriminately kill people; children 'raised' in that environment were pawns of other crazed killers.

Then there are the individuals who were victims of the atrocities.

What will happen to the American church that decides to join God's work among those seeking 'forgiveness' and 'reconciliation'?

I suppose there will be a 'crisis of faith' where certain families will have to make major adjustments.

I regularly emphasize 'giving one's life' (literally) for the cause of Christ. Having purchased a ticket for our 19 year old to go to Liberia for 80 days, I am now challenging Joe to 'count the cost' daily. He could die over there. I was 'perfectly safe' two years ago; the McCalls were 'perfectly safe' one year ago. However, God has not promised us that we won't suffer as we 'obey' and 'experience' Him.

I referenced this story in last night's sermon...and I read it aloud to Joe over the phone last night. It's serious stuff. Cathy started to get nervous and said, "I don't want Joe to go..." I don't think she means it...she just doesn't like to hear me talk of man's inhumanity to man (sin).

Please read it if you consider yourself a co-laborer with Joe's trip to Liberia:

Reconciliation is TOUGH: Click here

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Tomorrow is church day.

Instead of preaching in the morning, I have the opportunity to lead worship through piano, voice, arrangement of the musicians, singers, and congregational participation.

I have chosen a couple great hymns:
  'Trust and Obey' and 
                           'Trust, Try, and Prove Me

and these spiritual songs under the heading:

Melodies to Abide in our Hearts through the Week
O Happy Day, We Want to See Jesus Lifted High,
    Here I am to Worship, You're the Savior of My Soul.

I've had two rehearsals with subgroups of musicians; we lifted up prayer for two hours this morning. Mike McCall has been prayed over for ten days--since he's preaching!

I expect the Holy Spirit to speak through the messages of song and scripture.

I hope you will decide to attend church and listen for the Voice of God.

If you're anywhere within traveling distance, please leave in time to get here by:
                8:30 or 11:00 a.m.
   Admission: Free     Obedience: Costly

to get driving directions from where you are  to the Epicenter, go to:  

       653 A Street   Galt, CA  95632

I'm gonna be singin' these songs all day today. Gonna wake up tomorrow singin' these songs as I make my way to church.

I'm hungry and thirsty for God's House.

If you come from out of town, you can have lunch with us. I get to preach at 6:00 p.m.

    Get a double-dose of the Holy Ghost.

Friday, November 11, 2005

I recently discovered that I share another interest with R. B. and Thelma McCartney. They both have major books on their family records. Years after they were married, they discovered that they are actually distant cousins of some degree. Their names are in the index of each other's genealogies.

Now, that's what I call Kissin' Cousins!

I went over to their house to show them how to start exploring for more family connections on the Internet.

In recent weeks, I've experienced a number of 'breakthroughs' in solving certain mysteries about the various tributaries of DNA and collective histories that I've passed on to my children.  However, even after months of 'googling' and other detective work, I still hadn't found any new information on the patriarch of the Patterson family:

Joseph Patterson

During my sabbatical I had an opportunity to visit my Aunt Sally and scan some old family photos. I came across this photograph of John Patterson. We didn't know who he was. I suspected that he might have been an uncle.
Then, I found his name on a census and a plat map of the township in Michigan our
family had moved to from Orange County, New York.

    clickable photo

On the internet I found a Michigan woman who offered to help others as she could.

I sent Carol Stevens an email asking for some help with local records from Lenawee County in Michigan. She looked in two usual sources but found nothing. In the middle of a tightly bound collection of biographical sketches (1888), she found a story about John Patterson. The only reason she could scan it is because it was near the center.

Carol sent me an email with a PDF file of the biography and this note:

"Hope this helps, good luck in your research."

With a PDF file, in an email, she helped me put together several pieces of a family puzzle. Now I know much more about 'Uncle John', his seven siblings, and my great-great grandfather, Joseph. For instance, I now have some definite dates about this patriarch:

         Joseph Patterson 
         born: July 27, 1793   (in Ireland)
         died: April 18, 1871  (in Michigan)

Dates really help in connecting one's family records with the work of others. I hope that someday I'll be able to go back further with the Patterson stream. For some of the direct tributaries, I've been able to 'flashback' several generations further. But man, its fun to start getting the Patterson side finally.

       Thank you for your help, Carol!

Hey, Carol...look what I've done with the biography you sent me: CLICK HERE

If anyone wants any tips, send me an email. Even though I'm a novice, I've learned some shortcuts.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

So much happens in one day. My purpose in journaling is sometimes just to stick a 'selah' in between important passages of the day.

Do you know what 'selah' means? Nobody has really defined the word. Many think that it is a direction to pause (and perhaps to reflect). It can be seen in various Psalms-- placed after an important verse--before another important verse.


I had a 'teachable moment' with my 14 year old daughter yesterday. In English Class there had been an open discussion about abortion. The teacher had noticed that Mary was stirred up by comments made in the front row (by the smartest girl in the class).

"O...M...G... Are you stupid?!", asked Mary.
That might not be your preferred style with which to introduce your contrasting view but that is how Mary found herself jumping into the center of the class discussion.

Teachable moment? Yes...for me. I learned afresh about Mary's strong convictions when it comes to the issue of abortion. She and the 'smart girl' volleyed points of debate about when it is appropriate to end the life of a baby.


Mary then questioned herself aloud how she ought to dress to show respect at the Spaghetti Dinner last night. I was glad that she and her friends wanted to attend the event.

Several people from our mid-week Bible Study were also there. I heard that over 1,500 supported the community fundraiser for the family who lost their 15 year old son.

We can't all be everywhere we would like to be at the same time. At our Bible Study we prayed for the people attending the event. Then we discussed God's Word from 1 John chapter 3.

" I stupid?! 

How could I 'forget' this? Why am I not more fervent about sharing HOPE? Hope cleanses us. Hope in Christ purifies us. When God gives us the eyes to really see Jesus, we get a glimpse of heaven.

I wanna go to prayer meeting on Saturday and see what God is doing...and join Him.

I wanna go to church on Sunday and see what God is doing...and join Him.

I'm glad I went to Bible Study last night. I saw what God is doing...I say, "Yes, Lord."

This song was on my mind during Bible Study


Last night we caught the tail end of 'Trading Spouses' where they swapped a fanatical Prayer Warrior mom with a peaceful New Age mom. It was something to see! Her style of warfare-prayer was not a pretty sight. Hmmm....I wonder what my expressed faith would look like on TV? Who cares? Who would watch me pray? I know...someone is watching and he looks into our hearts.


Yesterday afternoon I served as a mediator between individuals from different African tribes. They were seeking to reconcile a business dispute. We agreed in writing upon a solution to their conflict. It seemed peaceful and settled. I have faith in the process--even if the end doesn't turn out as I would hope.

Likewise, I remain hopeful for Liberia--even though a look at today's BBC report might give us 'prayer warriors' cause for concern. Whoever becomes the next President of Liberia will be inaugurated in January.


BBC Correspondent Mark Doyle (BBC) says the tone of the election, which international observers had said was broadly free and fair, is deteriorating.

     Mr Weah showed ballot papers to journalists, which
     he said had been pre-marked for Mrs Johnson-
     Sirleaf, known as the "Iron Lady" and given to
     election officials to cast.

    "The world is saying this election was free and fair,
     which was not true," he said at a news conference.
       Read the full story from the BBC: Click Here

Lord willing, Joe plans to travel to Liberia in January and stay there for 80 days.


a story pictorial essay: Liberia

Wednesday, November 9, 2005:

Ruth's boy has written from IRAQ: Click Here

Tom Lane writes, therefore he is published: CLICK

The votes have been cast in both California and Liberia. No comment (today) on California's choices, but I will continue to share more Liberian news over which to 'watch and pray.' From the BBC:

If I Was President: short essays by 2 young Liberians

In a local ministry setting, there are sometimes difficult issues that must be addressed in people's lives. Certain sensitive matters have weighed heavily on my mind and heart. These thought-provoking matters are confidential and certainly not appropriate to publish on the internet. So, what other options are there for christian bloggers journalists?

            Form and Content of active columnists

Eva seems to have plenty to write about--getting us ready for her move. Her recent 'annoyance at bike-riders' seems to be comfortable territory for her style of journal entries.

s and Tom's articles are every bit as good as "Our Daily Bread" or the site I read about in Saturday's paper. Then, there's Al and Joe. They all write such great stuff!

      I write, therefore I am . . .

I realize that having you 'watch and pray' with me for
Liberia's future is a form of participative learning. Together we can experience unity over something that doesn't directly involve us. OOPS...until in our watching and praying, we begin to really 'see'...yeah, that's the catch!

          They were, therefore we are . . .

Since I've discovered some of the stories of my ancestors, I've had the privilege of 'emailing' distant cousins. A 52 year old in Washington state and a 70 year old in Michigan. We share DNA and a common heritage. We would probably never have met each other without access to the internet.

On Monday, 'Cousin Janet' sent me an announcement that she was 'celebrating' her great-grandparents' 114th anniversary. She sent me this photo of
Maggie May Cleveland and George Carter certifying their marriage. 

My great grandma, Minnie Cleveland had signed it as a witness. So did Reverend Tuthill who would speak at their grandfather's funeral ten years later.

Janet is my great-great Aunt Maggie's great- granddaughter. That makes her my some-kind-of-cousin. The fact that Janet sends out anniversary announcements for dead relatives may qualify her as my 'weird' cousin. I don't really know her well enough to call her weird but the DNA inside me seems to be saying, it's O.K. 

Happy Anniversary to Aunt Maggie and Uncle George

INTERNET and other ADDICTIONS: Even though Barna's research indicates that many Christian men are addicted to internet pornography, I've never gone there and plan to steer clear of it. Nobody has asked me what I hunger to see on my computer screen ('cept Ross Farrow).

Mr. Barna, there are other things one can do with spare time, internet access and a desire for adventure.

day, November 8, 2005

The song we sang Sunday (Oh, Happy Day) says, "He taught me how to 'watch, fight, and pray.' In the second service, I was prompted to pray a 'spiritual warfare prayer' against 'the thief' who recently 'stole, killed, and destoyed' some lives in our community.

Referenced in that prayer was the tragedy of a local teenager, Aaron Brooks, who was murdered here in our little town. The young man who was arrested is also the victim of an evil principality.

Before we dismissed the children to Children's Church, we took time to acknowledge each one by name. The best way to 'fight' about the bad choices made last week is to be a proactive, positive influence in the lives of individual young people today.

One of the teenagers came up to me later and 'thanked' me for praying about this loss in their lives. The search and the discovery has provoked many teens here to think about their lives and their friends.

Two important quotes from Jesus:

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you."

"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Sometimes we forget the basics.

Voting takes place in California and in Liberia today. For the Christian its important to remember to watch and pray.

California: I'm voting YES to giving back some rights to parents to protect their daughters from getting abortions without their knowledge.

I'm also voting YES on Measure B (of local concern) to build another high school in our town. Here's a 'voter's guide' to the propositions.

I'm not surprised when Christians start to talk politics. They don't all agree, do they? I don't recommend just voting the way someone tells you to vote. It is important to hear the other side. If all one listened to was TV commercials, one could sure make a mistake on Informed Consent. Well, enough about that...

What might happen in Liberia's elections? CLICK HERE.

Here is an important story
about those who would want to 'assist the poor' by trying to provide jobs in Liberia.

Monday, November 7, 2005

I sure enjoyed talking with Mike and Robin McCall after church last night. This Sunday, Mike will be preaching more about "Adjusting to God's Ways." I told him that I would pray every day for him as he watches and prays for God's direction from the Scriptures.

I love to experience God's sons and daughters exercising their gifts and abilities. I will lead the Worship Team before Mike preaches this Sunday; that's what I must prepare for.

Tomorrow is special election day here in California. Polls are open from 7 AM to 8 PM. There are a number of propositions that must be voted upon. Cathy and I are part of the 18% (I heard that stat on TV) of eligible voters who will show up to the polls--not much different than a Baptist church business meeting.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

A couple days ago I answered my designated telemarketing phone and guess who was on the other end? Randy Stonehill. Like everyone else, he knows that he can call me 24/7 (not just at dinnertime).

On December 4th, Randy will be sharing his gifts within driving distance of the Epicenter (in the morning at Discovery Church in Elk Grove and in the evening at Community Presbyterian Church in Vacaville).

Well, today he called me with some welcomed news. He and Phil Keaggy (another favorite artist) recently collaborated for a DVD and CD release. I told him that I would write about it. Perhaps, I could write more intelligibly if someone were to remember me at Christmas time . . .

Click here for ordering information on the Stonehill/Keaggy DVD/CD package.

Through the years,
Cathy and I have enjoyed the great body of music created by both Phil and Randy. We caught their separate performances at Spirit West Coast. Both were exceptional--as usual. I'm glad that someone decided to get them together for this project. I hope to see/hear it soon.

An article in the Galt Herald shared this photo of some beautiful girls at our FEAR FACTOR  event:


Harvest Festivals around the area: First Baptist did its part to provide good clean fun for the community with jump houses, gummy worm eating contests, a puppet show and more. A free dinner and snacks were also provided.

Friday, November 4, 2005

For over twenty years, (on the first Tuesday of each month) our church has sent an outreach team to Royal Oaks Convalescence Center. This week's visit was especially sweet as we sang old hymns together, recited scripture verses from memory, and hear Jim Fugate deliver a personalized message from the Bible.

One of the residents there was a precious woman named Marcellus. Today, a gathering of family and friends will commemorate her life at the Galt Cemetery (1:30). I spoke to her granddaughter last night. She told me that she had been there with Grandma for our services at different times. It looks overcast here today. I hope that it will warm up before we gather around her gravesite.

As we prepare to send Joe to Liberia it is important to keep track of the what is happening in their presidential election. On October 11th, voting took place but now there will have to be a second vote between the top two candidates.

This is such an important current event. If you read the two short articles about these candidates you might be prompted for pray with understanding. Click on either name below.

George Weah, 39

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, 66

Ross Farrow, from the Lodi News-Sentinel, called me on Thursday for a story he might write on church websites. I could only speak to him for about ten minutes. I suggested that he check out the personal journals and blogs on our site.

So....just in case you're reading this:

Hey, Ross! Call me back.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

I enjoy watching Dan Malloy direct the multi-generational choir in preparation for our community Christmas program. I'm singing in the tenor section; I've been sitting next to Ryan Perez (a senior at GHS). He had the lead role in Godspell last year--a gifted singer. Years ago, we baptized Ryan. I am pleased to have this opportunity to share a musical experience with him.

Last Sunday night, I called upon Mike McCall to share a word with us. Yesterday I asked him to preach in our morning services on November 13th. Mike began to make major adjustments in his life when he went with us to Estonia in 2000, again in 2003. Then he traveled to Liberia with his wife, Robin, earlier this year. Their participation encourages me in my calling as their pastor. I know that they impact others in similar ways.

Before Mike preaches, I will play the guitar and lead the Worship Team. That will be fun.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The Lord has been good to Cathy and me today. We are still celebrating our 20th anniversary year. Today, we went to Royal Oaks together and out for a Tuesday Matinee. Tonight, we will both attend the city-wide choir rehearsal.

My thanks to everyone who wrote messages for Pastors' Appreciation. My heart overflows with joy that somebody out there values my input through the body of Christ.

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Pastor Rob Patterson    653 A Street   Galt, California   (209)  745-4665

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