"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."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thank you Tim Martin at Backwoods in Ft. Worth . . .

On my way back from the Cokesbury Bookstore in Ft. Worth this morning, I stopped for "a few minutes" at the Backwoods store at their new location on W. 7th Street.

I stayed for over an hour.

Tim Martin is the General Manager of the store. He is without a doubt the nicest and most professional manager / salesman I have ever met. He actually help size me into a daypack that "fit."

What a sensational feeling . . . a back pack that fits!

We talked for quite a while about hiking and fly fishing . . . and I think I may have started a new friendship.

Tim is very good at what he does . . . and very smart about what he knows . . . and is very supportive of his customers.

If you are looking for outdoor stuff, and perhaps want to look at some quality stuff at someplace other than Academy or R.E.I., then give Tim a call.

I did purchase a Kleen Kanteen . . . and will be putting back money for the backpack.

Better yet . . . I am planning to go walking!

Ever forward . . . ><>

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Maybe I am starting to see things . . .

Interesting . . . the things I sometimes get pre-occupied with . . . which not doubt gives my friends like Floyd and Joe many opportunities to laugh-out-loud, or cause them to worry about me greatly.

My pre-occupations lately have been about;

1) (Appropriate) Silence
2) and, Service.

Scary . . . both these words start with the letter "S."

Sort of like my short-list of my core values:

1) Faith
2) Family
3) Friends

They all start with the letter "F."

Either this is all very spiritual . . . or I am entering another "puzzle" period in my life.

Hey, where is my crossword puzzle book . . . it was around here someplace.

Ever forward . . . ><>

An interesting start to the day . . .

This morning, the pastoral staff of our church met together at 5:30 AM, and began cooking breakfast for more than a dozen of our church members who work in financial planning, or as stock brokers, insurance, investments, etc. We wanted to do this as a way of sharing our concern and support for them during these up and down financially stressed times.

As a pastoral staff, we really do not get to do many things together, except on Sunday morning in worship. Although the day started very early . . . it was fun as we cooked together, making fun of each others "kitchen techniques" . . . discussing what to cook first, etc.

For the record . . . we ain't half bad cooks . . . as long as Nathan and Wren are in charge . . . and I keep to washing dishes!!

What made it both fun and reflective for me . . . is that we were starting our day serving others. Now, as I prepare to finish reading this morning the book of Matthew in the New Testament, I find that my service this morning will no doubt be the filter through which I read about Jesus and the Passion Week. "I came not to be served . . . but to serve!"

Whether it be an "ordinance" or "devotional" practice . . . occasions like this when I have the privilege of serving others early in the day seems to alter how I focus on the rest of the days activities . . . moving from thinking "What can I get out of this?" to "What can I do to help?"

That is a good thing!

Too often, ministry in a local congregational setting is more about management and supervising others, than it is acts of service.

I think this is a good time to re-read "The Servant Leader" by Blanchard and Hodges. As we begin to draw even closer focusing on Christmas and the Advent season . . . in these stressful times, whether we are leaders or not . . . our focus ought to be on serving others.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Note: Of course, I would start my reading today in Matthew 20. OK Lord, point taken!

Monday, October 20, 2008

October 19th concert nets $1500+ for Kenya well project

Stu, Russ, Gary and Jeff playing there instrumental version of "Yonder and Back".

I am glad to report, that as of this morning, moneys donated at the "1st Church String Band and Friends Concert" last night now total more than $1,500, with more donations expected this week.

All of us in the band are proud of the concert we gave yesterday evening . . . it took a lot of work, but it all seemed to come together both vocally and instrumentally.
We will have more info available on our next set of projects, and our next concert, once we get through Advent / Christmas.
Thanks to everyone who joined us . . . most let us know how much they enjoyed the evening.
We appreciate you all!




Friday, October 17, 2008

Just felt like a little color today. This is one of the pictures I took in the gardens of the Crescent Motel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas in late September.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More from "Planet Walker" . . .

I am about 1/3 of the way through reading "Planet Walker."   From a hiking / pro-environment / life journey perspective . . . it is a good book.   

The author, John Francis . . . went 17 years without speaking.  John's journey to self-discovery of his life purpose and passion is fascinating.

I asked earlier . . . what would I be willing to hike across Texas in order to raise awareness of?

I may be closer to an answer than I thought.   Not that I am planning such a hike.  My goal is to do a 4 day Grand Canyon hike first.   But  . . . it is a notion in the back of my mind.

But . . . it is worth asking an even more pointed question . . . what cause would I, an ordained United Methodist preacher (professional speaker-type-person) be willing to support / raise awareness of by not talking for a week?

Could I even begin to understand how to do my job / ministry if I was unable or couldn't speak?  I wonder what would really change . . . if anything.   Communication is much more than spoken word, right.

The thought of not speaking . . . is frightening to me.

I bet I get some suggestions about this one . . . some in my family would probably pay me to not talk for a week.  Some of my friends would not doubt more than welcome the chance to speak to me without my interrupting them with comments and questions.

But seriously . . . I think I would mourn the loss of speech more than the loss of sight or hearing.

Interesting . . . and very challenging to consider stuff like this.   God "fearfully and wonderfully" created me with the capacity of speech.  I wonder . . . no, I know . . . that I sometimes abuse that gift.   No . . . that is not true . . . I often abuse this gift.   

Knowing that people listen to me . . . is validation for me . . . 

Forcing people to listen to me . . . because of my "office" or "position" . . . not a good thing.

Ever forward . . . ><>


Monday, October 13, 2008

First Church String Band in action . . .

Yesterday, we sang to a good crowd attending our Ministry Fair. I really believe that we are sounding better and better . . . if the smiles and applause we received is any indication.

This Sunday, October 19th, is our first fund raising concert . . . at 6 PM in the Founder's Chapel. An offering will be taken for the Kenyan village well project we are supporting.

There will be an all-church Ice Cream Social beginning at 5 PM on the 19th, on the playground outside the Family Life Center. Come, bring some ice cream to share, have a good time, and then come take part in our "interactive" concert at 6 PM.

I think we are going to surprise some people. You will be glad that you came.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

First Church String Band and Friends Fall Concert . . .

Sunday, October 19th is the day . . . our first fund-raising concert, which will start at 6 PM in Founder's Chapel at FUMC-Grapevine.   

All the guys you see in the picture at the top of this blog will be present, and we have been rehearsing and rehearsing . . . 

Some of our singing friends will be there to sing with us as well.

A special offering to go toward providing a new well for a village in Kenya will be taken.

And . . . there will be an all-church Ice Cream Social in the Family Life Center before our concert. Check the church webpage for more info.

First Church String Band to play at Mission Fair . . .

This Sunday, October 12,  the First Church String Band will be playing after the 11:15 AM service during our Mission Fair.  We will be somewhere outside near the tents.  

Just listen . . . you will find us!


Kid's Beach Club at Grapevine Elementary . . .

I will be helping provide music at the Wednesday afternoon Kid's Beach Club afterschool meeting at Grapevine Elementary starting tomorrow, October 8th. This is a one hour Christian based program for kids who choose to stay after school to participate.

This progarm will run for 6 weeks on Wednesdays, and then again sometime later in the spring.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Monday, October 6, 2008

A great question . . .

While on vacation . . . I was visiting an little bookstore in Eureka Springs, located in old downtown on Spring Street, a block or so up from the Flat Iron Building.   In the window of the store, I saw a book with the title, "Planet Walker" by Dr. John Francis.

Back in the 1970's, John was a hippie in San Francisco.  In part because of his involvement in rescuing wildlife affected by a major oil spill, John chose to stop using automobiles, and has since walked / hiked several times across the United States.   He even stopped talking for 17 years as part of his journey.   In the course of his walking, he earned a bachelors, masters and PhD degrees.

Being a long time Colin Fletcher fan (he is my favorite author), and a lover of books about hiking adventures, I had to order this book when I got back home.  

In the course of talking about the book, my wife asked me a question . . .

What cause are you so passionate about, that you would hike or bike across Texas in order to raise awareness or support?

Great question . . . and now over 2 weeks later . . . I am still no closer to an answer than I was before.   But I am spending some quality time thinking about it still.

I am open to suggestions!

Time to venture deeper into who I am, and who I am called to be.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Is my Jesus too small . . .

After several years of trying to take a good shot, I finally took a decent picture of the Christ of the Ozarks statue, shooting east from the gardens at the St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Eureka Springs, just below the Crescent Motel.

This statue, located on the grounds of the Great Passion Play, is close to 6 stories tall. The arm span is around 60 feet.

Awesome! Simply awesome!

This is only about the 3oth time in my life I have seen the statue. It is an "automatic" every time we go to Eureka Springs, to go see the statue from the church gardens, and then drive across town and up the hill to the Great Passion Play site, and walk down to the statue.

Not far from the statue, across from the Great Passion Play entrance, there is a gift shop. Inside the gift shop, you can purchase a little 6-inch miniature of the 6-story tall statue.

I wonder . . . is the Jesus I first asked to live in my heart when I was 15 or 16 years old, and the Jesus I have in my heart today . . . are they the same?

Is he the 6-inch tall Jesus, or the 6-story tall Jesus?

Just how big, in my life, was the Jesus I first asked into my life? And just how big is the Jesus who lives in my 51 year old heart today?

The Jesus I first asked into my heart was probably the 6-inch version. Today, some 38 years later, I think the Jesus who lives in my heart is even bigger than the 6-story Jesus statue I try to visit every year.

I think, for me, that's the way it should be.

It is good that Jesus lives in our hearts. It is good to know that Jesus is growing in our hearts as well . . . as we come to know him better.

I have learned so much more about Jesus over the years of my life, and in the course of my ministry, than I first knew when I was a teenager. My relationship with Jesus is something I have worked at for a long time, and one that I will continue, by my choice, to work at.

I talk and write a lot about paths, spiritual journeys and adventures . . . those terms perhaps best describe my understanding of spirituality. Lately, in my prayers, journaling, and study . . . I feel that Jesus is asking me not to "settle" on what I know . . . but to continue to discover him.

I get the impression that what I know and believe about Jesus is just a "scratching of the surface" of what I have still yet to discover.

I think Jesus wants to grow even bigger in my heart . . . and he wants me to help.

Ever forward . . . ><>



Saturday, October 4, 2008

New ESV Study Bible coming out October 15th . . .

My friend Floyd first shared with me his appreciation for the English Standard Version of the Bible, which has been out now for about 10 years.   I have the translation on my computer Bible program . . . and have a hard copy that Floyd gave me some time back.

Info coming out about the new ESV Study Bible really has my interest.  I pre-ordered my copy months ago . . . and hope it comes in soon.

The link to the ESV Study Bible page is in my links section.  Scroll down until you see it.   The info videos are very good.   

Ever forward . . . ><>

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ponderings from the Gospel of Matthew . . .

Well darn!

I havent even gotten through the first 2-3 chapters of my semi-annual reading of the Gospels and Acts, when something just knocks me right in the face.

Who were the first people, in the Gospel of Matthew, to come and both respond to, and to recognize the birth of Christ? Who were the first, who by their coming, validate this wonderous event on a much wider scope than most of us consider?

Wise men / Astrologers from another land, no doubt worshippers who practiced in another faith, who probably called God by another name, who travelled a great distance based on a scientific hunch based on the positioning of the stars to welcome the new King of the world.

Why, why, why, why . . . do I so often forget . . . that Christ came for the entire world? Why, why, why, oh why do I keep the theological lense I look through so narrowly focused?

For God so loved the world . . . . how appropriate that at the birth of Christ, it was people "of the world" who come first to acknowledge his arrival by God's compassionate and grace filled act of love.

What love is this, oh my soul, oh my soul? What wonderous love is this, oh my soul?

Ever forward . . . ><>