Friday, July 17, 2009

Don't You Wonder Why?

Maybe you do. Maybe you don't.

But do you wonder why I started this blog and what it's about? (Sometimes I wonder the latter.) It all started one evening in our Small Group from church. I asked the question, "What would you do if you had unlimited resources?" We had some great answers and, suddenly, my group acted normal! You see, it's normal for the group to turn the tables on me. They tease me, they give me a hard time, they ask puzzling questions, and -- most normal of all -- on that night, they asked, "What would you do, Sam?"

"I would start writing," I said without hesitation. "It's something I have been thinking about."

After the formal part of our time was over, two guys that I respect very much said, "If you would start writing your observations on life, we would read them."

A short time later, "Dwell and Cultivate" was born.

Vertically, I'm a follower of Jesus Christ. Horizontally, I'm Cathy's husband, dad of three (plus a few of my younger friends whom I have sort of accepted like my own kids), Sampa of three more, and pastor of a great church. Along with that, I get the occasional privilege to mentor some younger pastors and leaders. I describe all these roles because this blog is just about as focused as my life is.

I'm like the mafioso who, when asked what he does for a living, replies, "A little bit a dis; a little bit a dat."

But, no, I don't take out contracts on people.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I am grateful for a group of Elders who gave four hours last night to help our church make wise decisions about our future. One of them, Sean, preceded that meeting with another 1-hour meeting on our campus.

Most of those guys started yesterday morning very early. They will do the same today.

They do it as a labor of love for Christ, His church, and the community where we serve.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yesterday, I Couldn't Decide...

...whether to criticize my daughters C. Beth and Beckiwithani for writing their own blogs and using up a significant number of the great stories I could tell about my grandchildren.

The other alternative would be to thank them for rescuing me from what would surely be a "Sampa" blog. That idea for a theme sounded good until I started thinking about all the other grandparents I know who would want to show me their pictures and tell me their stories.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Sometimes Wonder...

My grandmother was a Kennedy. No, not those Kennedys! (At least, I don't think so.) But there must have been something pretty powerful going on several generations ago in my Kennedy family.

At least two or three of my grandmother's nephews became pastors. Many of the others in that generation have been strong, faithful, loving local church servant-leaders. One of those pastors, Jimmy Kennedy, went to heaven yesterday.

Jimmy served churches faithfully throughout most of his adult life. It's interesting that Cathy's mother called the other night asking if we knew him. Their temporary pastor in New Mexico told them about this man named Jimmy Kennedy who had been his mentor when he was young. Cathy told her mother that we didn't just know him -- he was my cousin.

I sometimes wonder about those Kennedys. My grandmother was my closest link to what her parents must have been like.


...the older I get, the more I feel their influence upon my life.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fireside Chat

The light from a campfire flickered on the faces. One by one, little hands went up hoping to be called upon. Each hand was waving out the desire to tell a story. Upon recognition, young voices spoke about hope, about attitude changes and about what they would face tomorrow. Tomorrow they would load into their buses, vans and autos to leave the mountain and return home.

One hand was not so small, nor was the voice so young. My friend Cosme asked if he could share his experience as a counselor for some of the boys. He told how he had come with them as a matter of obligation and the dread he had felt as he began the week.

Then, with tears flowing, he told how the attitudes of his boys began to change almost instantly. "They were sharing everything: tee shirts, toothpaste, soap...anything someone needed. Their attitude became so different and I began to feel sorry for my own attitude."

Cosme went on to tell how all of his boys cheered him on when he challenged his own fear of heights and conquered the ropes course. He had just completed it when the entire camp was gathering around the campfire.

His victory didn't come without pain. Even though his safety harness did its job, he was left with enough muscle strain to prevent him from walking up the hill to the fire.

"Go without me," he told his boys. Instead, they gathered around their counselor and prayed for him. They they picked him up and carried him up the hill.

"These boys carried me! God has used them to change my heart!"

Sunday, July 12, 2009


On a personal level, this summer is a whirlwind. I have been working behind the scenes planning and preparing a presentation for our church as we consider a decision to begin phase two of construction on our campus. The normal, busy summer stuff continues no matter what else I have going on and I was pastor at Children's Camp this past week.

I will do my best to share a great camp story with you tomorrow.