Saturday, April 25, 2009


Rest day today. I'm taking a break. Hope you do, too. I hope to meet you here tomorrow!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Started Bad, Got Worse, Ended Better

Cathy and I were in the first or second year of our marriage (I think Lincoln was still President) when she got a major example of one of my anger implosions. You see, some people get angry by exploding. I get angry more spiritually (wink). I implode. Sometimes exceedingly.

Here's the situation. I was at at my office where I worked on a church staff in the Monterey, California area. A one-car-family (just the two of us), I rode my bicycle to the office most days. On this particular day, Cathy drove our car to Monterey Peninsula College for a class.

In the midst of my highly important schedule, my sweet little wife (the one who drove our only car) calls to tell me that she accidentally locked the keys in the car. I had to stop what I was doing and ask our Pastor if I could borrow his car to go rescue her.

Upon arrival, I borrowed a hanger, bent it to an appropriate angle and pulled the lock up. It was a 1968 Ford Galaxy 500 two-door hardtop -- probably worth a mint now -- and breaking in was easy enough that even I could do it. With steam wisping up from my ears. Cathy doesn't think I said a single word to her the entire time I was there.

When I arrived home that evening, I made it clear to Cathy that she had been careless. I know I belittled her. I didn't care.

I took the car the next morning. I had a class at the college. I wasn't angry anymore when I arrived, but I fully remembered the day before as I pulled into the same parking lot.

It was an early class and I was a bit early arriving. The morning was cool and it was quiet so I sat there in the car and did some last-minute studying. A few minutes later, it was time to go so I jumped out of the car and carefully locked and shut the door.

As I turned to walk away, I realized the keys were still in the ignition.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Right Things For The Right Reasons

Mike is a leader in our church that I have come to deeply appreciate over the years. I can't tell you his whole story, but suffice it to say that he was caught in the middle of a holy war many years ago. Before the skirmish between two strong leaders was over, he was treated as collateral damage and trampled on the battlefield of their pride. Sometimes people are wounded in church because of their own sins. Mike was wounded and left for dead because he refused to choose one leader over the other.

For a number of years -- after he arrived at Stone Ridge -- he sat silently in church services. His previous pain (and that of his family) was so acute that he dared not open himself to anything that might yank their emotional scabs off. I barely knew who he was. Finally I had a chance to sit down and get acquainted with Mike and his wife. That must have been over fifteen years ago.

Gradually, this wonderful, godly couple began to serve in our church. Mike's wife has a gift of hospitality and the knack for creating beautiful things with her hands. Mike is full of wisdom, knowledgeable in Scriptures and a very good leader. They serve faithfully. Selflessly.

I know.

Last Friday as I tried to navigate the land mines on the battlefield I had been summoned to, I received an email from Mike...
"I heard. I'm praying. How else can I help?"

He has a leadership position that drew him to the struggle. But he easily and justifiably could have sat this one out.

Instead, he chose to serve. He voluntarily took a role on the front lines.

This time Mike is helping protect someone else (not me) from going through what he went through so long ago.

Mike would never count himself as a hero of the faith.

But he is to me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When Kings Go Out

Dear Reader,

I am still digging out from an avalanche that seemed to come down on me in the past five or six days. I'm making headway and thankful for your prayers. My Small Group really ministered to me on Monday night.

That said, I'm still not quite caught up enough to put the time necessary to write a new post. Therefore, this is a re-posting from many months ago. I hope it's meaningful. By the way, I am still following comments and appreciate them more than I have words for.


As I march through the years of life, certain phrases -- most, but not all from Scripture -- stick in my mind. Consider, "Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab..." (2 Samuel 11:1 NASB) David was getting older, he had paid the price of many battles, his nation was more secure and ever and it just wouldn't do to have him killed out there. So he stayed home and sent General Joab.


Joab was a gifted leader and totally loyal. He was a master strategist. He was on top of a world-class winning streak.


Joab had the troops he needed and cutting-edge armaments for the battle. He understood that wars are won over a season rather than a day. He was ready to serve his country and his king.


You see, the problem wasn't with Joab. It was with David, back home. David's army was at war and the King was home quite comfortable. Relaxed. Enjoying a cool evening stroll on his large, flat roof. The wife of one of his finest officers -- her name was Bathsheba -- was on the rooftop a short distance away. Bathing.


I got a call from our Missions Team leader late yesterday afternoon. He scheduled an unexpected meeting first thing Monday morning. One of the leaders within the ministry needed some input about a project and Mark called me to ask about how to handle it. We talked through a strategy and Mark immediately took his next step. Yayyy!

In the middle of the call, I faced a small dilemma. Do I move into the middle of this tactical situation or do I stay on the sidelines while General Mark takes the lead? I chose to sit. Mark is doing a great job and keeps growing.

I make more decisions like this all the time. I'm grateful for the growth in all of us. It's a temptation for us pastors to remain in the front. Because of my age and my growing awareness that I don't have the emotional stamina to carry the load I am responsible for, I try to do more and more coaching from the sidelines.

I'm not naive, though. King David was called "a man after God's own heart." He discovered that "uh-oh" can be far closer than you think.

Dear God, please help me walk in the balance between mentoring and doing as I go through my week. Amen.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Messing, Blessing

My friend Randen turned 5 years old recently. Red-headed, rambunctious and raring to go -- that's Randen! I have enjoyed lots of smiles as I watch his parents raise him. He even got the "youngest volunteer" award at our Volunteer Appreciation Event this year. He's a blessing!

But Randen's dad told me the other day that Randen vomited all night. I could tell from his dad's eyes the lack of sleep. What a mess!

The journey I'm on is right now filled with both blessing and messing. I am praying to respond with grace during both.

After all, Jesus did.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Remembering Helen

Cathy and I are grieved by the death yesterday of Helen, the mother of our son-in-law D. Helen and her husband Noel moved from Ireland to the U.S. when D was just a kid. We first met her at the wedding of D to our daughter Becki.

Becki told us recently how Helen had reached out to her in recent months, strengthening their relationship. It's almost as if she knew her time would be short. We will be forever grateful for her and what she meant to our family. After all, she brought Molly's daddy into the world and we deeply love him.

Our prayers today are with Noel, D, Becki, Molly and all the rest of Helen's family.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fill My Cup

My "weekend" was a whirlwind. The week following Easter was like riding a a supersonic jet -- on the wing! I was looking forward to most of Friday off when, on Thursday evening, I was pulled into an unexpected mess. It consumed a significant amount of attention and emotion through much of Friday, then concluded with a Saturday afternoon meeting.

Cathy and I had been invited to a Passover Seder Saturday evening in the home of a church family. For about three hours we sat around their dining room table with six young adults reading, listening and remembering.

As we ate the traditional food and remembered God's faithfulness, something deep in my soul began to fill back up. I blinked back tears as we remembered Jesus the Messiah washing the feet of His disciples. I felt transported in time back to that night in an Upper Room as He gave new meaning to the bread and the Cup of Redemption.

It's as if, for three solid hours, I bathed in His loving presence.

Thank you, Jessica, Nick, Jennifer, David, Amanda and Heather for including us in your evening.