I remember a conversation I heard in the lobby (of one of our churches) as if it had happened this morning.

Ken and a group of men from our church led the service at a rescue mission each month. Ken began taking Max, one of the teens from our church along with him to play the guitar.   Max did  a great job and Ken gave him a lot of encouragement, knowing that Max’s own father was rather ambivalent about what he was doing.

One Sunday after church I was standing nearby when I heard the mother of  one of Max’s friends approach him. (This lady was a core person in the church.)

“Hey Max,” she began, “we have tickets for the college basketball game on Friday night. My brother was supposed to go, but cancelled.  Andrew (her son) thought you would like to go.”

“I can’t,” Max said. “I’m going with Pastor Ken to play at the mission.”

“No problem,” the mom continued. “He can do without you one week.”

“No,” Max persisted. “I told him I’d be there and I’ll be there. I like doing this.”

“Look,” the lady was getting angry. “The mission team will understand. You can miss one week.”

“No, I can’t.”  Max said. “I really can’t. I need to be there. I promised.”

As I listened to this, I cheered for Max, but I wanted to scream at the mom. Here was a kid who was totally committed to serving the Lord in a unique way. He had an obligation and he desired to follow through on his commitment. Yet, this lady was doing everything in her power to make him make a bad choice. 

What was she saying to him?

Why was she trying so hard to get him to go back on a promise he obviously wanted to keep?

I have no idea.

I’m happy to say that Max did not back down to her.


I have some other things to say about commitment – to answer some questions that were sent directly to my e-mail last week – but  something’s been on my mind, so I thought I’d write about that something tonight.

We talk about difficult people – but what happens when we’re the difficult person?  I mean, I don’t think we try to be difficult – sometimes it just happens.

Like has this ever happened to you?

You’re having a friendly, normal conversation with someone and right in the middle of it you say something like, “I really wonder about people who never graduated from high school (or some such comment). They must be lazy to not get their diploma with all the options available.”   (I don’t feel that way and that wasn’t what I said. I’m just stating an example.)  Later, it suddenly hits you that the person you were talking to never graduated from high school.

Then what do you do? 

Do you say something and then DOUBLY acknowledge how you feel about people who haven’t graduated from high school?

Do you ignore it, hoping against hope that they didn’t catch what you said?

You’re in a dilemma and sometimes there’s just no way out.

Aren’t you glad the Lord loves us in spite of the fact that we sometimes say things we shouldn’t say?

What do you think?


dsc_1000 So, I’m heading to church this morning. The snow is snowing. The traffic is slow. The streets are slushy.

Cars rush by me and cars rush toward me and I’m totally focusing on driving safely.

I come to an intersection and I want to turn left. I’ve been to this intersection hundreds of times before and know I must wait for the arrow.

The cross street light turns yellow – then red – and the green arrow flashes in front of me. I pull into the intersection, but then notice that the oncoming car isn’t stopping.

“Stupid,” I mumble (which is a nice thing to mumble on the way to church), “you just went through a red light.”

But then I notice that the next car and the next car aren’t stopping either and I realize that the oncoming traffic doesn’t have a red light. I look again at my arrow – yep! It says green and is telling me to go, but something has messed up the light mechanism. In fact, the lights on my side aren’t turning green either. In other words, the ONLY light that’s working correctly is the arrow. Both sides of the straight-ahead lights are malfunctioning. I ease to the right and move ahead back into the center lane and proceed to the next left turn.

As I realized how close I came to getting side-swiped (and most definitely would’ve been side-swiped if I had simply assumed the oncoming traffic would stop), I thought about life in ministry.

Sometimes we do everything right. (I DID have the green arrow.) We know what we’re doing follows God’s guidelines. (I DID have the law on my side.) Yet, the only thing we can do is hold back for a season and be patient … and maybe that means calmly stopping whatever it is all together for awhile – or maybe it means moving ahead, but going down a different road to get to our destination.

Ministry is not easy. Ministry is dealing with people who have different opinions. Ministry is working with people who sometimes put a stop to things that shouldn’t be stopped.

The Lord says (and yes, I’ve used this verse before) :Galatians 6:9 – Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Ministry is knowing that you have the green arrow, but patiently waiting until the road is clear or move to Plan B to get to reach your goal.



dsc_0977This was a giggle-and-energy week. 

As many of you know, my daughter and son-in-law (and oldest child) were in faraway places, and the 5yo and 6yo were at my house (along with the hamster).

So, we did things. We went to Willowbrook Wildlife Refuge where we were privileged to watch a squirmy snake, listen to a squawking bluejay and pet a friendly rat. 

And we made pizza and went to Cracker Barrel and McDonalds and to the park. And we listened to music, and colored and raked the yard.

Meanwhile, I had an extremely busy week at work which ended with a five-hour sitting marathon yesterday as another co-worker and I focused on working out an outline once and for all.

The trip to the International terminal at O’Hare was fun – well, at least it was fun to think about where all the people were going to and coming from. While I waited, a plane got in from Shanghai and another from somewhere in India. 

Then this morning I went to breakfast with a friend. Good conversation. Good food.

And that was the rather uneventful week that was.


Here’s a fun dish to bring smiles to kids’ faces.

dsc_09481. Split open English muffins.

2. Brown hamburger and mix with tomato sauce.

3. Spread hamburger/sauce mixture on muffins.

4. Top with a piece of mozzarella cheese.

5. Make faces with olives.

6. Put in oven until muffins brown and cheese melts.









































dsc_0121The job doesn’t stop.

Now, that people have volunteered and are plugged into place, you need to continue to encourage them.

1. After a few weeks, ask how it’s going and answer any questions the person might have.

2. If a person asks you something and you’re in the middle of dealing with unruly kids or about to start the prelude, tell him/her you’ll talk later and then make sure you call or e-mail so questions can be answered.

3. Write occasional notes or e-mails letting you know you appreciate what he/she is doing. Be specific in your compliments. Not just “thanks.”

4. Have a “thank you” breakfast. Call your volunteers on Friday night and invite everyone to a breakfast the next morning – from 8:00 until 9:30. Don’t talk about ministry problems, but use the time to get to know each other better.

5. Give recognition. Thank the volunteer from the pulpit or in the bulletin/worship folder for doing the nursery laundry, mowing the church lawn, fixing the AC, etc.


 PHILIPPIANIZING YOUR LIFE  Let your gentleness be evident to all (Phillippians 4:5)dsc_0079

The next instruction in Philppians 4 is letting your gentleness be evident.

Part of gentleness is willingness to do what is asked of you – to be humble in mindset. (Sometimes we equate humbleness with poverty, but the two are very different.)

A good church illustration.

A man I knew always wanted to be a pastor and was ecstatic when a large, well-known church asked him to be an intern.  After a few months, I asked his wife how he was doing.

“Oh, he’s not very happy,” she told me. “He does cool pastor things, but then they make him do other things, too, like fold worship-folders.”

I laughed. “Pastors do things like that,” I told her.

“Not real pastors,” she told me. (Yeah, she was serious.)

“Yes,” I said. “real pastors.”

Because, besides studying, visiting, preaching, teaching etc., most pastors also get to do things like mow lawns, fix a broken toilet (who else is at church 10:00 on a Monday morning), help paint a room,  … and fold worship folders. (And that goes for ministry wives, too.)

Let your gentleness be evident.  Be humble in doing all things.





110_0453Well, Saturday is the day I’m supposed to bring my readers up to date on all the exciting things that happened to me this week.

If anything exciting had actually HAPPENED, that would be a good plan. However …

This was just sort of the week that was.

1. I went out to lunch with a lady who hasn’t worked at Awana very long. We had a good time getting to know each other better – and share some common interests. Writing being the primary one.  That was fun.

2. I went out to supper with my mom. That was fun.

3. I got to talk to Kim face-to-face. (Hi Kim!)  Kim is a blog reader who lives in Oregon. That was fun.

4. I read the high school creative writing entries for Summit (our yearly all-high-schoolers-meet-in-one-place-weekend). Reading some of them was fun, reading others wasn’t so much fun.

5. I cleaned the refrigerator. (Not fun.)

6. I read the “v” section of the dictionary for something I was doing at work. (Vicar, variety, very, volume, vineyard)

7. I worked late two nights.

8. I’m in the midst of a HUGE scheduling SNAFU for fall conferences and I’m not having fun working it out.

9. I fed a hamster. I fed a cat. I fed a dog. 

10. I think I better close and continue my exciting week by going to the car wash.