Saturday, May 30, 2009


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

Friday, May 29, 2009

I Never Saw...

...but I did see....

I never saw the breeze blowing, but I did see the movement in the tops of the pine trees.

I never saw the tiny nest that sheltered their fragile eggs, but I did see the hummingbirds moving daintily among the lantana in my front yard.

I never the person it came from, but I did see the vibrant teenage girl who is alive because of her heart transplant.

I never saw the faces of seven people who leaped out in faith and -- in 1945 -- started the church I pastor...

...but I did see the joy of a man who came to the church with his grandparents when he was a little boy -- and now he brings his grandkids to church;

...and I did see the happiness in a 7-year-old girl as she talked to me about Jesus by quoting Scripture verses;

...and I did see the resolve of two fun-loving guys in their twenties who came back to church because they are raising their families and know they were on the wrong path;

...and I did see the fierce spiritual passion of three teenagers... two of them graduating from high school this week... two of them in our church their entire lives... and all of them wanting to make a difference in their world.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be...

...a brain surgeon, a fireman, a garbageman, a teacher, a movie star. I think our son wanted to be each of these at one time or other.

Yesterday and today, I'm pretending I'm in Hollywood. No, you can't catch me at your local theater any time soon. In fact, almost all my work is off camera.

You see, we are preparing our church for a decision about further development of our campus. Part of the preparation involves the work of a small media company who is helping tell the story of where we came from and where we are going. My main role is interviewing various people from my off-camera position. Their answers are on-camera.

Frankly, I'm exhausted. After this week, I think I'll stick to pastoring.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Already Taken Care Of

"I can enlist people to bring the food."

"Already taken care of."

"I can go clean their house."

"Already taken care of."

"I can..."

"Already taken care of."

My friend was ready to do just about anything to help but, alas, virtually everything was "already taken care of."

Life is often excruciating. Such is the case with a wonderful family whose 19-year-old son was recently killed in an auto accident. Then... quietly pokes its head out from the ashes. It comes in the form of friends who do their best to discover needs, then make sure that they are "already taken care of."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Many Pay A Price

I wrote yesterday's post about my friend Pete Yount, who gave his life for our nation. In the nine years since his death, Pete's daughters are rapidly moving toward adulthood. His widow Janet has done an outstanding job raising them as a single parent. We still keep up with them and they make somewhat regular trips from the East Coast to visit here.

Janet has carried her grief and loneliness with courage and has taught her daughters to live in a way that their dad would be proud of. It is important to remember the price that they pay still today.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I received a message from another Marine pilot's wife thanking me for what I wrote. Her kind words unlocked a treasure of memories tucked away in my heart. During Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), she was one of a handful of wives who were in our Small Group. Their husbands were all serving, placing themselves in harm's way for our country.

I can remember distinctly how this wife asked Cathy and me not to show up at their house unannounced while her husband was away. "You are on my list of people to be immediately notified," she said. "If you show up unexpectedly (they lived just a few blocks away), I will think you are there to bring me bad news."

Her husband and a few others made something very clear when they arrived back at home... "Our wives and families are the real heroes!"

Cathy and I consider it a great honor to know so many of these who willingly pay such a steep price that we might be free.

Monday, May 25, 2009

We All Thank You

Shortly after I arrived to pastor our Yuma, Arizona church, I heard about a guy named Pete. Pete was a Marine Harrier pilot who had had been a faithful part of the church family for several years. Single and good looking, Pete was considered a very eligible bachelor.

Just a few years later, Pete returned to Yuma for a new assignment. This time he had his young bride Janet with him. We got to know this young couple quite well and celebrated the birth of their two daughters.

Pete was slightly shorter than average height and was typical Marine -- very physically fit. I discovered that, though small in stature, he could hit a golf ball a country mile. In fact, I got the privilege of playing with him in a tournament one day and loved it. (We almost won!)

When Pete and Janet were transferred to D.C., Cathy and I visited with them on a trip there. We were excited to learn that he had been selected to take command of one of the Harrier squadrons back in Yuma and would move back here about a year later. Their arrival brought us the great joy that comes from knowing you get to spend time with old friends.

In the spring of 1998, we were mourning the loss of one of our own -- a young California Highway Patrol officer who was killed in the line of duty. I was sitting in a local restaurant talking through the grief with another man from our church. Right in the middle of our conversation, my cell phone rang.

"Sam, we just received the call that Pete Yount was in a Harrier crash. We need you to come now." I cut off the other conversation and ran out the door. That day, April 22, 1998, Pete Yount, who went by the call sign "Gator", helped pay the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

We are ever grateful for all who have given their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for this great nation.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stumbling Blocks...

...or stepping stones?
I laughed out loud recently when our two-year-old granddaughter told her mother: "I fusterated! I hab troubles!" After all, we know something she doesn't: she has to get through her "fusterating" twos before she can reach three. And she has to reach three before she can get her driver's license. Or vote. Or date (her daddy and I may withhold that one 'til she's 35).

She has to get through her "terrible twos." Now, think about that a minute. What difficulty did you have to get through in order to be at your current place in life?

I hope I can remember this lesson the next time I'm "fusterated and hab troubles."