Friday, July 31, 2009


Some of you enjoy cruising around the web to see what's happening. I discovered this week that our partner church in the Dominican Republic has just launched their new website. It's great, even if you can't understand much Spanish. Check them out here.

Makes me homesick to see them. They are like family!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's A Lot Like Life

My friend Kelly and I run up the same hill almost every time we run. For those of you live in hilly terrain, you need to know that most things around here are pretty flat.

That hill is fairly steep, but not that long. Virtually every time i run it, I can feel my oxygen depletion the last 10 meters or so. Then I reach the top, regain my wind within a few strides, and keep going.

The facts I just shared with you were part of an interesting conversation yesterday. How do you know it's time to press your limits and how do you know when its time to stop and rest?

One extreme can be pure laziness and the other could ultimately lead to life or death.

The easy answer (I think) is that there's no easy answer!

So, reader, how do you figure it out in your life?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hey, How Are Ya?

"Did you notice how friendly they were?" she asked as she buckled her seat belt.

"Yeah, I really liked them," he replied. "I meant it when I told them I hope we can get together again soon."

They smiled as they drove away from the home of Mr. and Mrs. Attractive, the couple with the unique gift of asking great questions. The type of questions that made their guests feel comfortable talking about themselves.

Have you met this friendly couple?

Do they live at your house?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sometimes, life is doing 90...

...but my brain is standing still!

I heard about a pastor who forgot to attend a funeral. And he was the speaker! It was before cell phones were common and the church secretary couldn't find him anywhere. He wasn't doing anything wrong, but he certainly wasn't doing the right thing either.

You may be interested to know that the pastor made it through without losing his ministry. He had already been in that church for many years. When he discovered is mistake, he deeply apologized to the family. They were hurt, but they forgave him. Why?

Because he had lived faithfully through the ups and downs of the roller coaster. And he did it long enough to show himself full of integrity.

We can neither stay at the top of that metal mountain, nor let ourselves wallow in the trough of the deep valley. We must continue on the "ride" and allow our lives to touch others one good decision at a time.

By the way, I needed this story a while back. I was scheduled to pray the invocation at the grand opening of a new little league.

And I completely forgot.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Thrills, Chills...

...and Spills?

The roller coaster inches its way to the top of its tallest steel hill. You can hear the clatter of the chain pulling you up, up, up. Your heart races faster in anticipation of gravity reversal -- that moment when your slow ascent almost suspends you in space for a second and your body suddenly hurtles downward. The force of it feels as if it will drive you like a railroad spike into the earth, when suddenly you reverse and start back up again.
I'm convinced that life is a lot like that roller coaster ride. The difference is our attitude about the direction we are going. In life, the steady, slow climb up the hill brings us a great feeling of accomplishment. When the inevitable dip comes along the way, our confidence can turn into sheer terror. Suddenly!

I started noticing this a number of years ago. We would get to July and I would get very nervous about all the people I wasn't seeing in church services. "Have they left us?" I would query. "Have they moved away? Is something wrong I don't know about?"

Our staff quickly figured me out and became my emotional support during our hot summer when people do anything possible to get out of Yuma. "Don't worry, Sam." Then they would start naming families and telling me that they were on vacation.

Sure enough, we would get to August when school starts (even in the heat) and suddenly people were back in sync.

We are in the fourth week of a marathon July. The Monday after Independence Day, we started Children's Camp. The next week was Middle School Camp. Last week was perhaps the best Vacation Bible School I have been a part of...ever. This week is high school camp.

I have spent the last few months getting our church ready to consider campus expansion. That decision should take place at the end of next month. This has been a year of painful trials for many of our members, but corporately we had been deeply blessed by God.

Life is like a roller coaster though and, in spite of everything, this is still July.

And I'm fighting off that anxiety of my stomach leaping into my throat.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Back When I Was A Kid...

Actually, back when I was a younger pastor, Vacation Bible School acted much differently than it does now. For many years, the program of VBS used the same outline year after year. Only the songs and Scripture verses changed. Kids waited outside in their groups, marched in to sit in pews, then went through a well-defined "opening assembly" of Pledges to Flags and the Bible, hymns and a missions story. Then it was off to their classes for a similarly scheduled morning that included teaching, crafts, recreation and refreshments.

Cathy and I reminisced about those days as we thought about this past week. The opening now consists of drama, video, and songs. Kids sit on the floor rather than pews. Pews would really cramp their ability to jump, dance, and do all sorts of motions to every song they sing. I don't know how much kids sit still during our 3-plus hour format. I just know that they leave every day, excited to come back for more.

The volunteer staff -- this year more than 80 of them -- are undoubtedly exhausted today. But they were still smiling on Friday!