Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Strange doors that I just feel led to go through . . .

Some of you are aware that I created a little "company" recently.

I have loved fishing all my life. In the past several years, I began "fly fishing" with the support of guys around here . . . Thomas Milyo, Jim Peterson and Kevin Mitchell.

A couple of years ago, I started making homemade fly fishing lanyards. Go here to see pictures of what I am talking about. Recently, some of the laynards I have given away; well, people who got them told me they were not half bad. Someone suggested I try to sell some.

So I said to myself, "Self . . . maybe we could sell some!" So, with counsel from Jim Peterson, Sean Simon, my wife and oldest daughter, all good business people . . . I started my little company. One employee, yours truly . . . and one little 2 x 4 foot table in my study at home.

My goal . . . is not to make a million dollars. Although that would be nice, I guess.

My goal . . . is to see if my hobby can help me make enough money to purchase a Cobra Fish-n-Dive kayak.

I want a boat. I've even preached about it. However, I I do not want the hassle of owning a boat. Just too darn expensive.

When I go fishing, it is usually only for a few hours at a time. A kayak is inexpensive, relatively safe (I ain't going anywhere near white water!!! My mom did not raise a fool!!!) and very easy to store and transport. It doesn't need a motor, so no state registration fees or licenses.

And, I think they are cool!

So, I initially shared my dream with Sean Simon, a member of our church and a good friend. He encouraged me to establish a business plan . . . to help keep my efforts focused and on track. So, with his advice, I set up a simple, basic plan.

First, I would order and purchase enough parts to make 200 lanyards. The first 100 lanyards, I would end up giving away or donating. That would leave 100 lanyards which I would need to sell in a year. That would leave me, hopefully, with enough profit at the end of the year to purchase the kayak.

Second, since I am not web site savvy, and the money I had needed to go for parts and supplies, I would market my "products" through personal contacts with:

-Fisherman, especially in Texas, who had fly fishing blogs on the WWW.
-Clergy of all faiths and denominations who liked to fish, and
-Local "Mom and Pop" fly fishing shops in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Third, I would send samples of my lanyards to area Fly Fishing clubs, donating them as door prizes for their meetings.

In the process of seeing who in Texas has a blog about fishing, I met Luciano Chavez, whose "Tales from a Texas Fly Fisher Blog" I discovered about a month ago. I sent Luciano and his son a couple of lanyards, and he sent me a couple dozen great flies that work well in Texas waters . . . which he tied himself.

Well, in truth, they are not really fishing flies . . . to me they are works of art!

Through Luciano, I discovered Rabbi Eric Eisenkammer, the Fly Fishing Rabbi. I sent Eric a lanyard, and he sent me one of his official Fly Fishing Rabbi buttons.

A rabbi who fly fishes? Who would have thought? A Methodist preacher who likes to play with beads? Who would have thought?

Today, I mailed a lanyard to a Baptist pastor in Lousiana, who was my first "official" paying customer. (Ha cha! Money in the bank!) He is sending info about my lanyards to pastoral friends of his who minister at a Baptist church in Abilene.

And, Luciano is taking some of my donated lanyards to a fly fishing club meeting in Austin in September.

Amazing, simply amazing!

I set out to raise funds to purchase a kayak. But, in a moment or two of pure serendipity, I am discovering like minded individuals who hold fishing as serious a spiritual activity as I do. And, I am discovering how important "likemindedness" / shared interests are when networking.

All, because I like to play with beads . . . and because I thought it would be nice to have kayak.

Thank you Sean, for encouraging me to make a business plan.

God works in mysterious ways . . . leading me down mysterious paths . . . and through mysterious doors. I am glad when the Spirit leads me this way . . . and when I am faithful enough to trust the Spirit to say, "Here I go!"

What happens as a result is always a trip I am glad I started.

Every forward . . . ><>

Friday, August 22, 2008

An early Friday morning meditation . . .


I'm looking out my dining area window this morning.   A little after 8 AM.  The sun is up and the angle of the sun's rays are coming across my back yard.  My neighbors very tall pink flowered crepe myrtle tree is in full summer bloom, thanks is part to the 4-5 days of rains showers we have had here.  All my potted plants seem to be thriving.  And, wouldn't you know it . . . I notice several new blossoms on my tomato plants!!!  And I have a least 3 green bell peppers to pick, along with a nice looking eggplant!

Man, if I had planted some okra this year . . . we would be eating really good this weekend.

The leaves on my large oak tree, located next to my back yard deck, are filtering the light of the sun.  Leaves on the outside of the tree canopy are almost a greenish silver, while the leaves inside the canopy are a deep dark green, with just a hint of silver on their edges.

There are humming birds working around the blossoms on my two very large Turks Cap, oh how they dart around here and there, probing flowers for the sweetness they contain.  My cat, Corky, is laying in the yard, right in the middle of a sunbeam.   He has his head up, and his eyes are closed.  I do believe he is smiling as a slight breeze ruffles his fur.

The empty bird feeders remind me that it has been too wet to walk to the back of the yard to fill them.   I know the birds around here don't really need the seeds from my feeders.  But I do like them to think of me as a good neighbor.

Birds, cats, a slight breeze . . . tomato blossoms, red Turks Cap blossoms, yellow Esparanza blossoms, and purple silver sage blossoms . .  . all on August 22nd!

I don't know what you would think if you were here in my place.   I know what I think.  I am thinking that I am glad that I look for God in so many places.  I sure see God in my backyard today.
My backyard was a wreck when we first moved in.  No flowers, and our Oak tree was in very, very bad shape.   In three years we have planted different native Texas plants, which all feature summer blossoms.   We have trimmed and pruned, watered and added fertilizer, and we have offered lots of verbal encouragement.  

Yeah, I talk to my plants.  My neighbor on more than one occassion has called from his yard, "Rick, who are you talking to?"

I think my back yard is about redemption . . . having another chance to be what you can truly be.   

I guess I see God everywhere I see redemption being lived out.   I guess I see God everytime I see someone or something getting a 2nd chance.

I guess, if you really look hard enough . . . you can see God most everywhere.    I believe God is alive . . . and I believe God is creative . . . and I believe that God is redeeming . . . and I believe that God is very, very, very, very, very active.

This morning . . . I see God.   I truly do not want to leave this moment.  

But then, there will be other mornings to look out my back window, and watch how God says "Good morning!" to me.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I am often asked to recommend a study Bible . . .

Here are my quick answers . . .

1) Life Application Study Bible

I have an old NRSV translation of this Bible (no longer in print), along with a New Living Translation. I have use of an NIV translation in our church library next door to my office. I enjoy the study notes, which in my opinion do not tell you what to believe, but offer instead some good, thoughtful suggestions on how to apply Scripture to your life. This study Bible comes in 4-5 translations.

2) Thompson Chain Reference Bible

I have my late Methodist Preacher grandfathers old Thompson KJV. I have used one on and off for over 25 years. My current Thompson is a large print NIV. This is one of the best quality made Bibles, and I expect to hand-it-down to one of my daughters or grand children later in life. The genuine leather versions are that well built.

The Thompson is not, by definition, a true Study Bible, as there are no commentary notes. The reference materials may be a little dated scholastically . . . but following the chain references to me is just fascinating, and always worth the effort.

3) ESV Study Bible

I've only seen a little bit from the ESV Study Bible website . . . but I am excited at what I see. I pre-ordered mine months ago, and look forward to their being shipped and on-shelf beginning in October 2008.

Again, a quick suggestion . . . there are many others of note.

Ever forward . . . ><>

FYI . . . when you submit comments . . .

As a rule, I will not publish comments from anyone who signs in as "anonymous."

Whether I agree or disagree with what you say, I just don't feel like I owe you a hearing when you will not share who you are.

Also, if you make a comment, but prefer it not be posted, as several of you routinely do (and which is fine with me), then please let me know/state that clearly, and I will respect your wishes.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Monday, August 18, 2008

It has been a busy summer . . .

Our recent rains have cooled things down a bit.   It is showering outside as I type this, and I find myself in an early Monday morning reflective mood of sorts.   I am a flaming extrovert if there ever was one . . . yet, I find that lately I have been drawn to practice a bit of early morning meditation and prayer.

I have been journaling my morning prayers this past couple of weeks.  Re-reading them has brought into perspective, for me at least, a better personal understanding of Christian ordinances.

An ordinance is any kind of regular daily spiritual practice which keeps you close to, and in love with God.    Journaling is an ordinance for me, yet I only journal is "seasons."  I only tend to do it when I know, or expect to  have a time of trial, or when I know a big decision is coming up.  

My oldest daughter's wedding is September 20.  

The key to journaling for me, is re-reading the journal.   Re-reading my handwritten entries is a challenge in and of itself, because my handwriting is simply horrid.    Yet, I don't really know why I would put for the the effort to journal, if not to re-read my previous entries.

In re-reading my most recent journal entries, I find that I am trusting in God more than I ever have in my life.   And, the closer I get to God within the context of relationship, the more I seem to want to sing and praise Him.    The closer I am with God, the more I desire His presence on a regular basis.  

What happens as a result . . .

1) I think I am calmer over all,
2) I think I am more focused these days on the things that really matter to me:

-my personal faith
-my family and friends
-my calling and ministry

When I am closer to God, I find that my circle of friends begins to expand.   As I re-read my journal entries, I am realizing that I am starting another period of physical, spiritual, emotional and relational growth.   

From my experience, this means:

-More books to read
-More conversations and sharing with people who are different
-A broadening of the lens through which I see God alive and active in life.

When I journal, I discover that I have made God too small.   These periods of growth and personal/spiritual interspection is almost always about the fact that when I learn something new and profound about God and His grace . . . I tend to shut it down . . . I want to be at the point where I "finally know all there is to know about God!"

Well, that is never going to happen.

I feel like God is telling me . . . "Rick, you've grown a lot, especially in these last 5 years.  I am proud of you son!   But, I need to tell you . . . you ain't seen nothing yet.   So hang on to your Tilley hat, Bible, guitar and fishing rod . . . I am so much more than you ever thought . . . my love for you and for others is more than you have ever thought . . . and your understanding of me, my love and my grace . . . IS TOO SMALL!  I am going to show you more!"

I have been studying the Bible and theology full time for over 20 years.   And despite my so called "seminary approved" knowledge and wisdom . . .

-I am coming to understand that I am just scratching the surface about what the Bible contains, and that after over 20 years of study, that I am still wading in very shallow water when it comes to my understanding the scriptures.  

Oh my God, please, please show me more!

-I am coming to understand that my knowledge of the great historic doctrines of faith, is to shallow as well, that my understanding of them is too narrow, more often as not to suit myself and my sometimes selfish motives, or to support my own agendas.  

Oh my God, please forgive me!

   -I am coming to understand that what I know about God's grace and love . . . is also very narrowly / shallowly focused.   As we work as a church family to intentionally minister to our neighbors within one mile circle around our church . . . I see that I am going to have opportunity after opportunity to witness Christ to people who are a different color than I am, who speak a different language than I do, who may believe differently than I do.   These are people whose trust I am going to have to earn, because in their eyes, I am affluent, and they are struggling to survive.    I am seeing more clearly that God's grace is freely offered and given to all people, yes, even the ones very different from me . . . even the people I may be uncomfortable being around, because they live, speak, or believe differently than I do, about both life and faith.

Oh my God, please give me your strength to witness Christ in my life!

I encourage you . . . discover your own "Christian ordinance."  Practice it in season, or every day.  Draw closer to God . . . and be dragged along by His love to discover just how shallow your faith is . . . and how much more we can learn from God through His love for us.

We can never, ever learn it all about God, religion and faith.   There is no short-cut.  The journey will no doubt be painful, for in truth, all growth is painful to some extent.

But, God will provide, and He is worthy of my complete trust.

Ever forward . . . ><>

For those who asked about the fishing lure I used last week . . .

Last Thursday, I had one of those fishing days you dream about.  Thomas and Jim and I went out to Lake Grapevine after our Thursday morning Iron Men Breakfast and Bible Study.   In two hours of fishing, we caught over 50 sand bass.    I caught all my fish on a Cotton Cordell CC Spoon.

This lure, surprisingly, has a lot of action.  If you have a couple of these lures, and a few Little George's, then you will do well catching Sand Bass on Lake Grapevine.   Chrome, in my opinion, is the best color.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

If you like the music our 1st Church String Band performs . . .

Then I want to mention to other bands to you.

First . . . The Wheezetones. Check out their website and YouTube videos.

Second . . . The Connections Band out of Dallas. My friend, Rev. Eric Folkerth, plays guitar, sings and co-leads this group of Dallas, TX area Methodist clergy and friends.


Every forward . . . ><>

1st Church String Band and Friends Fall Concert . . .

Since this is a fundraiser, we just got "official" approval last evening . . .

Official approval is a good thing to have!!!

Our 1st Church String Band and Friends Fall Concert and Mission Fundraising will be Sunday, October 19, from 6:00 - 7:30 PM in the Founder's Chapel.

More info to come!

Another new fishing and inter-faith friend . . .

On Luciano Chavez' Tales of a Texas Flyfisher blog, I noticed a pretty peculiar, but very intersteing link . . . The Fly Fishing Rabbi.

Hey . . . I'm a Methodist preacher . . . You just know I had to click on that link, right? Oh, I am glad I did.

Rabbi Eric Eisenkramer serves as the spiritual leader of Temple Shearith Israel in Ridgefield, CT. He was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, where he discovered his love of fly fishing. He has a great blog . . . and was very kind to use something I sent him as my submission to a survey he recently posted where he asked "Why do you fly fish?" Look for my answer to question #2.

I am going to send Eric a fly fishing lanyard, and hope we can continue to correspond.

Ever forward . . . ><>

A new fishing friend . . .

Every so often, you meet some really great people in this blogosphere thing we do.

Luciano Chavez writes the Tales of Texas Flyfisher blog.  He fishes a lot on the San Gabriel River, Brushy Creek and Llano Rivers, and down on the Texas Gulf Coast, mostly wade fishing or while using a kayak.  

I love the guy already!

 He and I have been corresponding, and he was gracious enough to send me some flies he tied for me to try out at my local pond at the park and at Lake Grapevine.  I am sending him a couple of fly fishing lanyards for he and his son, and another 3 he is going to take with him when he makes a presentation at the Austin Fly Fishing Club in September.

Let me tell you, the flies he sent me are works of art!  I don't know if I want to get them wet or risk losing them!  The olive beadhead wooly buggers he tied are 10 times better looking than the ones I get at Bass Pro or at Cabela's.   And the little crawfish pattern he sent me . . . oh my God (I can say that you know, I am a preacher!), I know exactly where I am going to use them at McPhearson Slough or Twin Coves on Lake Grapevine.

He has some great links on his blog as well.  So, if you like fly fishing, and doing it a lot in Texas, then check out his blog.  

Ever forward . . . ><>

Monday, August 11, 2008

No, I am not yet officially endorsing Apple notebook computers . . .

But . . . I am now using one.

Why you ask? And I knew you would ask that . . .

My Dell Inspiron gave up the ghost after a long battle with various electrical and programmatic demons of various kinds. In other words . . . I tried to change some settings so it would work with my new wireless router . . . and I screwed up the operating system. The only option I have is to pay someone to hack into it, if possible, and restore a new password program, if possible.

It gave me 4-5 good years of service . . . but it was heavy . . . and always ran real hot to the touch.

With a wedding coming up (that I am expected to pay for) . . . buying a new computer is not the wisest way to spend money.

So, my daughter and her fiance came to my rescue, and now I have my daughter's old Imac notebook computer.

My future son-in-law, to my complete surprise and pleasure, is an Apple computer expert of sorts . . . and before you know it . . . I have an Apple notebook that has Word and Excel, and works off my wireless router . . . and which is, despite being 6 years old, a lot faster than my Dell PC.

Have Apple notebooks always been this easy to use??? I don't use many of the programs I have here in my church office on my home computer . . . so except for finding out if I can get my guitar teacher program to load . . . this is going to work for me.

And . . . I can go to Starbucks, where my Apple computer genius future son-in-law works, and get on the internet . . . and look really cool (or geeky) . . . and find out if I am too old to be hip again.

Wish I liked coffee. But they do have great blueberry muffins. Wait, muffins aren't on my diet.

Wasn't this blog about Apple notebook computers . . .

See . . . a new computer . . . opens a whole new world.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Funnies from my mom . . . the retired teacher . . .

TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it. Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?

LOUIS: Because George still had the axe in his hand. ______________________________________

TEACHER: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?

SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook. ______________________________

TEACHER: Clyde , your composition on 'My Dog' is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?

CLYDE: No, sir. It's the same dog.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Anger as a personal response is the individual's choice . . .

I've said it before, and I will say it again . . .

Anger as a response to any situation is the choice of the individual making the response.

I understand that in my own life . . . no one can make me angry. If I get angry . . . it was my decision.

The word "anger" is only one letter way from "danger."

Every forward . . . ><>
My good friend and fishing buddy, Thomas Milyo. A great outdoorsman, and like Jim, a wonderul man.

My friendship with Thomas also makes me a rich man.

Ever forward . . . ><>

My good friend and fishing buddy, Jim Peterson. A great outdoorsman, and a wonderful human being.

His friendship makes me a rich man.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It has been a while since I caught a big fish . . .

Actually, it's been a while since I caught any kind of decent sized fish . . .

I am an expert at catching really small fish . . .

But this morning, amidst wind and waves caused by the remnants of our recent Tropical Storm Eduardo . . . I nailed a 10lb+ freshwater smallmouth buffalo on a slab spoon.

Fishing experts and good friends, Thomas Milyo and Jim Peterson, helped me out, as we fished out of Thomas' boat. I was using a Cordell C.C. Spoon that Jim tied on my line for me.

We let this fish go back into to water after pictures . . . then I found out a little while ago after researching on the www, that freshwater smallmouth buffalo are very good eating fish.

Oh well . . .

I say it again . . . and again . . . and again . . .

Family and good friends to share the joys of life with . . . make me a very, very rich man.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Monday, August 4, 2008

A unique central Texas resource . . .

My mom lives down in Salado, TX, an historic old stagecoach town that is now a pleasant little village just south of Temple / Belton on I-35. A very lovely little community with shops, Scottish Clan reunions, and lots of lights at Christmas time. It is mainly known as the long time home of the historic Stage Coach Inn and Restaurant.

However, if you are ever in Salado on Friday or Saturday . . . please, please, please try to go by and catch the show at the Salado Silver Spur Theater. Mom took my wife and I to the Saturday afternoon matinee to see their annual summer melodrama.

It was a hoot as we were led to cheer the hero and boo the villian, whose name was Snidley Whiplash, IV. During the fall and spring, they show famous silent movies, have live vaudiville entertainment, and host the occassional concert or two (as well as the Bush wedding rehearsal dinner).

The Salado Silver Spur Theater is a rare Texas gem.

Ever forward . . . ><>