"But music was his life, it was not his livelihood, and it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good. And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul. He did not know how well he sang; it just made him whole." - Harry Chapin - chorus of "Mr. Tanner."

Monday, June 30, 2008

A first when it comes to walking . . .

Yesterday evening . . . we took a long walk. My wife set the pace and off we went.

My dog gave out before I did.

That was a first!

Ever forward . . . ><>

Friday, June 27, 2008

1st Church Guitars on stage July 6th . . .

1st Church Guitars is back on stage, Sunday, July 6. We will be providing music during our Church Family Pot-Luck Lunch in the Family Life Center following the 10:10 AM worship service, the only worship service we will have that day.

Some new stuff we have worked on includes: Surfin' USA, Route 66 and Gimme 3 Steps.

We do seem to prefer to play songs for a slightly more "mature" audience.

Heck . . . now a days, all these songs are "classics." Maybe we are "classics" as well!!!!

See you there!

Ever forward . . . ><>

Goodbye VBS . . .

Call me old fashioned . . .

Call me sentimental . . .

Call me particulary passioned . . .

I so enjoy everything about VBS. And today, this year's VBS, the absolute VBS best ever, will come to an end.

And I know why I have enjoyed it so . . . It's because I am an extrovert.

I am energized when I am around people who are engaged in an activity like worship, Bible study, or some other shared interest, or in support of some event or cause I have interest in.

Usually after VBS, I have to crash for a week for mental and physical recuperation.

Not so this year. I came into VBS with a different attitude. I worked out getting ready for it.

I rehearsed singing and playing the worship songs I lead.

I had my daily schedule pretty well organized.

I paced myself . . . and treated the actual VBS experience like a workout, knowing in the end that it was ALL going to be good for me.

And it has all been good!

We touched a lot of lives for Christ this week in ways that were redeeming, and which built people up.

Goodbye VBS! See you next year. I will be ready!

Ever forward . . . ><>

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Two mile walk last night . . . got caught in a thunder storm

Awesome!

I saw the cloud, but hadn't checked the PM weather report . . .

A little less than halfway through our walk, it started to rain and thunder. We made it back to the Euless Main Street bridge over the trail . . . then made a mad dash to a big gazebo, then another dash to our car.

Sipping, soaking wet! And get this . . . I actually jogged. Yep, I actually jogged about a quarter of a mile or so. The old knees seem fine right now. We will see in the morning. Think an extra dose of supplements is in order tonight. Didn't know that 61 pounds lost makes that kind of actual real difference.

Our poor dog was drenched . . . but he seemed OK. We were soaked, and laughing.

I felt like a little kid . . . except for the lightning.

Lesson learned . . .

When we go on any kind of walk . . . the day pack with rain jackets and water bottles go with us. And if it rains . . . we will do the smart safe thing and seek shelter . . . and then keep laughing.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

3 mile walk last night . . .

Just to make sure the VBS snacks didn't set me back . . .

Monday, June 23, 2008

60 pounds lost . . .

Yeah!

But alas . . . it is the first day of VBS . . .

And we have "tons" of Cheerios Trail Mix . . .

Must . . . avert . . . my eyes . . .

Must . . . have . . . will power . . .

Actually . . . it would be OK, but all of our cheerful and wonderful volunteers keep handing me stuff to eat . . .

I never thought I would get to the point, where in losing weight, people would think I need to eat??????????

Ever forward . . . ><>

Ahhhh . . . the sounds of Vacation Bible School . . .

It is absolutely a chaotic noisy time . . .

300 kids . . . over 100 adult volunteers . . .

Shouting . . . singing . . . laughing . . . adults dressed as Bible characters . . .

Music time . . . craft time . . . story time . . . play time . . . snack time . . . worship time . . .

Adult leaders . . . adult teachers . . . adult and teen guides . . . teen helpers . . .

We have the best volunteers at this church . . . seeing them serve just confirmes to me that the Spirit is moving in a good way among us.

Oh, how I so enjoy VBS . . . I always have . . . and I know I always will.

Even having lost 60 pounds this year . . . and being in decent shape for the first time in a long while . . . I know I will be exhausted by the end of the week . . . and I have to write a sermon as well . . .

But my heart is going to be so full of God's love and spirit!

God . . . I love VBS!

Ever forward . . . ><>

Las Vegas church offerings . . .

This may come as a surprise to those of you not living in Las Vegas, but there are more catholic churches than casinos.

Not surprisingly, some worshippers at Sunday Services will give casino chips rather than cash when the basket is passed.

Since they get chips from many different casinos, the churches have devised a method to collect the offerings. The churches send all their collected chips to a neargy Franciscan monastery for sorting. The chips are taken to the casinose of origin and cashed in.

This is all done . . . . by Chip Monks!


Sorry about that . . . but VBS started today . . . and I am already having too much fun!!!

Thanks Mom, for sending this joke to me.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Friday, June 20, 2008

Weight loss update . . .

59 pounds lost as of today, considering the adjustment to my math, with my doctors recent revelation that she had me 4 pounds heavier initially than I did.

Yeah Doc!

59 pounds . . . that has a joyful sound to it!

My wife and I combined have lost over 90+ pounds since February 5.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Fishing stuff . . .

My fishing links are now at http://www.waterwalkerlanyards.blogger.com/.

I have arrived to a place in my life where I want to write more about fishing, sharing my thoughts and experiences as well as those of others I know.

I will also be sharing pictures and info about some of the lures designs I have, as well as pictures of the fishing lanyards I make for friends, which I occassionally sell to others.

A good friend is helping me with this, and I am excited about that. It's a good time in my life for this.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Good words to think about . . .

Do more than exist, live.
Do more than hear, listen.
Do more than agree, cooperate.
Do more than talk, communicate.
Do more than grow, bloom.
Do more than spend, invest.
Do more than think, create.
Do more than work, excel.
Do more than share, give.
Do more than decide, discern.
Do more than consider, commit.
Do more than forgive, forget.
Do more than help, serve.
Do more than coexist, reconcile.
Do more than sing, worship.
Do more than think, plan.
Do more than dream, do.
Do more than see, perceive.
Do more than read, apply.
Do more than receive, reciprocate.
Do more than choose, focus.
Do more than wish, believe.
Do more than advise, help.
Do more than speak, impart.
Do more than encourage, inspire.
Do more than add, multiply.
Do more than change, improve.
Do more than reach, stretch.
Do more than ponder, pray.
Do more than just live, live for Jesus.

- John Mason, from the book An Enemy Called Average

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Doctor's report . . .

Offically . . .

52 pounds lost to date. Seems she had me in her charts as being 4 pounds heavier than I thought I had been. Her scales and my scales are a few pounds off.

Blood pressure was 112/68. May get to reduce that medication soon.

Blood test, lab work and PSA numbes back in about a week.

My motivation to continue has been jump started . . .

Ever forward . . . ><>

Off to the doctors office today . . .

6 month check-up, get on the scales, blood / lab workup, RX refills . . .

Hope the weight loss helps . . . up and down the last few weeks, but my scales show I have lost 54 pounds since Feb. 5.

More to come!

Ever forward . . . ><>

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

To Floyd, my best friend . . .

To Chad, my son-in-law . . .

To Ken, Nathan, Wren, Armando and Chris, the guys I do ministry with on an everyday basis . . .

To Dale, Mark, Steve, and others who are my brother commrades in the ministry . . .

To Bob, Jim, Ned and Thomas, my fishing buddies . . .

To the guys who gather each Thursday morning for Breakfast and Bible Study at Biscuit's Cafe . . .

To all the guys in our 1st Church Guitars ministry . . .

To every dad who has received a 2nd chance to be the father they can be (I am one of you) . . .

Happy Father's Day . . .

Every forward . . . ><>

Friday, June 13, 2008

Well, Floyd caught me again . . .

My best friend, Floyd, caught me again . . . I had contradicted myself.

We have shared two long emails in the past few days on spiritual practices and the recent Evangelical Manifesto which came on my birthday, May 7.

In writing back to Floyd, I realized that I am an extrovert at heart, and long to explore even more spiritual practices for extrovert people like myself.

Let me define what I mean by spiritual practice (sometimes referred to as "Devotional exercises" by others). A spiritual practice is in an act or activity which helps me draw closer to, or into, the presence of God.

And, in listing the "extrovert" practices I enjoy to Floyd . . . I realized that yes, I am an extrovert, but I am also more introverted than I realized.

I don't mean to down introverts . . . but it may have come across that I do not value traditional spiritual practices, which in my opinion are more for introverts than extroverts. I do value introvert qualities, very much so . . . and some of the spiritual practices I do participate in as an extrovert . . . I often do them by myself.

So, I shall write again to clarify this, at least for myself.

Thanks Floyd . . . you are a great friend. You keep me honest to myself.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Thursday, June 12, 2008

While we are "still" on the topic of spiritual practices . . .

Warning! The following written comments should be read within the context of a discussion about the spiritual practices I engage in as part of my extrovertive devotional life. There are certain orthodox Christian beliefs that are, in my heart, non-negotiable. My comments that follow are not about those non-negotiables. RM ><>

Being an extrovert . . . I enjoy participating (introverts may call it "dabbling") in several spiritual practices.

My worst enemy in life . . . is me. Especially when I become "set in my ways" about something. Creativity and freshness are essential in order to help me pay attention to something with all of my senses.

"Variety is the spice of life!"

I am the face on that campaign poster.

That is why I tend to embrace change . . . albeit slowly. Change is a challenge . . . because change causes me to stretch . . . especially when it comes to spiritual / devotional practices which help to strengthn my relationship with God. I seek God's closeness, strength and guidance through various spiritual practices, which for the most part appeal to my extrovertive nature. Some are uncomfortable for me . . . others rather contemplative. Some are loud and involve other people, and some I do alone. In the end, I want to be open to experiencing God in as many ways as possible . . . because I want to learn to see the many many ways God is working in His creation . . . instead of just the one or two that I am most comfortable with.

My life experience is this . . . when I get "set in my ways" about daily devotions . . . I tend to get narrow focused . . . and I miss out.

I find this attitude helpful, because I simply relish "engaging" conversations with people who might introduce me to a new spiritual practice. I long to learn to see God through a very, very broad lense.

In my life, I have learned one thing . . . The smarter and more mature I get, the less that I really know. The more I think I have figured out about God . . . the more broader God becomes.

I receive a weekly "Nugget of the Week" from John Mason. This is the one I received today, on the topic of change, which I hope adds to this conversation.

Your comments are welcome!

Ever forward . . . ><>

______________________________________

Change. I hope this word doesn't scare you, but rather, inspires you. Herbert Spencer said, "A living thing is distinguished from a dead thing by the multiplicity of the changes at any moment taking place in it."

Change is an evidence of life. It is impossible to grow without change. Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. The truth is, life is always at some turning point. What people want is progress, if they can have it without change. Impossible! You must change and recognize that change is your greatest ally.

The person who never changes his opinion, never corrects his mistakes. The fact is, the road to success is always under construction. Yesterday's formula for success is often tomorrow's recipe for failure.

Consider what Thomas Watson, the founder of the IBM Corporation, said, "There is a world market for about 5 computers." Where would IBM be today if Mr. Watson had not been willing to change? You cannot become what you are destined to be by remaining what you are.

John Patterson said, "Only fools and dead men don't change their minds. Fools won't. Dead men can't." If you don't respect the need for change consider this: How many things have you seen that have changed just in the past year.

When you change yourself, opportunities will change. The same kind of thinking that has brought you to where you are, will not necessarily get you to where you want to go.

Do not fear change, for it is an unchangeable law of progress. The man who uses yesterday's methods in today's world won't be in business tomorrow.

A traditionalist is simply a person whose mind is always open to new ideas, provided they are the same old ones. "There are people who not only strive to remain static themselves, but strive to keep everything else so. . . their position is almost laughably hopeless" (Odell Shepard).

Mignon McLaughlin said, "It's the most unhappy people who most fear change."

When patterns and tradition are broken, new opportunities come together. Defending your faults and errors only proves that you have no intention of quitting them.

All progress is due to those who were not satisfied to let well enough alone. They weren't afraid to change. Change is not your enemy--it is your friend.

- John Mason, from the book An Enemy Called Average

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

While we are on the topic of spiritual practices . . .

Being the extrovert I am (and knowing that Mark Winter will submit a comment or two about this particular practice he and I both share) . . . gardening has become a way for me to draw closer to God.

I have two flower beds in my front yard, and larger flower bed in the back yard, along with a small vegetable garden, and an area where my wife and I have about a dozen potted plants that love shade.

Second only to singing . . . I find that watering my garden every morning is a very peaceful and contemplative time . . . as I tend to the plants, I find I understand better, in my own particular way, what stewardship of the land can mean.

When I water or fertilize my plants . . . I always seem to think about God's grace falling on my life, and the nourishment and strength God's grace gives me.

Don't know if I hear God's voice like I do when I am singing . . . but I sure feel his presence. Most of my flowers are hostas and other shade loving plants. However, I do have some Texas native perennials like crepe myrtles, Mountain Laurel, Vitek Chaste, Turk's Cap, hybrid Bluebonnets that are still producing flowers, Coreopsis, Guara, Autum Sage, Silver Sage, Esperanza and Rosemary. These are hardy plants that do well in our Texas heat.

They remind me that I do pretty well when I am tuned in to God's will.

I like gardening . . . it is a good spiritual practice.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Singing is a spiritual practice . . .

In the past 8 days, I have helped or officiated at 3 funerals (2 of them were "big" funerals), officiated at a wedding, preached twice at another church, installed a ceiling fan for my kids at their home, and had to climb up a ladder twice to get my cat of my roof.

I noticed yesterday that I felt like I was running on empty. At lot of what I do in ministry isn't necessarily phyiscal in nature . . . but a lot of it is emotional. A lot of what we do in ministry is emotionally draining.

I felt drained . . . fatigued . . .

So yesterday, I got out my Martin D-15, and played and sang for about 2 hours. And the songs I sang were as hodge-podge as ever . . .

Call me eclectic I guess . . .

-Route 66 (Asleep at the Wheel) - Is there a better highway song?
-To Love Somebody (Bee Gees) - A good song to sing to God.
-Let Your Love Flow (Bellamy Brothers) - Another good song to sing when you need a connection to God.
-Gimme Three Steps (Lynyrd Skynyrd) - I do a bluegrass version of this song.

I'm am extrovert. Singing is often a spiritual practice for extroverts. And sing I did. And played my Martin. And as I sang . . . I started feeling refreshed. As I sang . . . I started feeling the energy building back up inside me. As I sang . . . I think I felt God's hand on my shoulder, and I heard him singing with me . . .

I believe God sings baritone. At least he did for Gimme Three Steps!

When I finished singing . . . I found that my head was clear . . . my perspective and focus was back . . . how I would handle the remaining activities of the week all seem to fall into place.

Singing to me, as a spiritual practice, is equal too, if not as important as Bible study and prayer. Singing is my way of praying. Singing is my way of getting my batteries charged back to full power.

Singing is my connection to the "ever-ready" power source that I call . . . "God."

Every forward . . . ><>

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What Cancer Cannot Do . . .

In light of how many people, church friends and blogging friends, whose lives must now deal with the physical, emotional, relational and spiritual battles that are part of living with "cancer" . . . the following words seem to be those drawn from faith. I appreciate them very much.

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so LIMITED . . .

It cannot cripple LOVE . . .

It cannot shatter HOPE . . .

It cannot corrode FAITH . . .

It cannot destroy PEACE . . .

It cannot kill FRIENDSHIP . . .

It cannot surpress MEMORIES . . .

It cannot silence COURAGE . . .

It cannot invade THE SOUL . . .

It cannot conquer THE SPIRIT . . .

It cannot steal ETERNAL LIFE . . .

Cancer is so LIMITED.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Reviewing my list of "small books" . . .

I left out a book from my ealier blog about small books which have had a very large impact on my life.

Servant Leader by Ken Blanchard. It was a gift from noted businessman and author, Paul J. Meyer back when I was pastor at Hewitt UMC near Waco.

A great book!

Ever forward . . . ><>

Friday, June 6, 2008

My life flows on in endless song . . .

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth's lamentation
I hear the sweet, though far-off hymn
That hail's a new creation;
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul -
How can I keep from singing!
-Robert Lowry

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Funerals and loud explosions . . .

I officiated at a funeral today at a local funeral home located just two blocks from our church. The deceased was a 91 year old mother, grandmother, great-grandmother who had lived an exciting, wonderful life. Only about 15 people came to the service, as she had out lived most all of her friends.

As I finished the service, and a second or so after I had just finished saying the benediction . . . May God give us the peace and strength to walk out those doors as witnesses to the world that Christ has overcome death . . .

When BOOM! . . . a transformer not 90 feeet behind the funeral home blows up . . . and all the lights in the building go out.

The grandson of the deceased says out loud . . . "Now that's one way to know that the service is over!"

If I am lying, I'm dying!

Ever forward . . . ><>

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Wesleys' Three Simple Rules . . .

Rueben Job has a new book out. $5 at Cokesbury or Amazon.com (hardcover). The book is titled: Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living.

Wesley's three rules were:

1) Do no harm.
2) Do good.
3) Strive to love God more.

Sometimes you have to watch out for "small" books. Soemtimes they have a great impact of many people.

Bonhoffer's The Cost of Discipleship is a small book. Small as it may be size wise, it shook up many a theological student before, during and after I was in seminary.

Another small book, The Prayer of Jabez, has had a profound effect on many people. A friend of mine who lives down near Waco has prayed this prayer daily for over 5 years, and his testimony is awesome to hear.

And, I've lost count over the years of how many copies of the Gospel of John I have given away.

However, it has been a while since a "small" book grabbed me.

Three Simple Rules has taken hold of me and has not yet let me go. Please do not construe this as some sort of cosmic wrestling match . . . I've alread been pinned for a three count, and I haven't been let back up yet.

My first complete reading of this book was several nights ago. All clergy in our conference had been sent a copy, along with a request that we read it before Annual Conference sessions begins tomorrow morning. The goal is for us to learn new skills for speaking and listening, so that we might gather together in the spirit of Christian conferencing. At least, that is how I interpreted the request.

In the book, one get's the sense that Job wrote the book initially for the delegates to our recent General Conference. Having heard from others who were there, and having read reports for several "sides" of the debates . . . I wish more people would have read Job's book.

All that set aside . . . this book struck a deep chord within my soul which reaches far beyond any concept of Christian conferencing. I will be carrying this little book with me for a while . . . reading it again and again when I can, along with some of John Wesley's sermons and writings on the same topic.

Our single adult class, Singular Journey, will be studying this little book for the entire summer . . . beginning June 15th. I think this book is worth that long of a study. As I am reading right now for the 2nd time, I am just writing down question after question. This little book is rich.

At least it is for me, right now where I am in my life.

This little book will make you think . . . and that always is a good thing. Now comes the hard part . . . looking at my life . . . the level of my faith . . . and the degree of my daily witness.

Sometimes the simple things are the very hardest to accomplish.

Ever forward . . . ><>