Saturday, August 27, 2011

Where are you?

When God Asks the Questions

Change is definitely in the air. Most schools are now in session in Santa Barbara. Westmont classes begin this coming Monday. Parent friends of mine have been packing up and driving their children off to schools across the country.
Change is in the air here at MCC also. Beginning this Sunday, the worship schedule will change to 9:00 & 10:30 a.m. If you have friends who worship at MCC and might not get this email, would you remind them of the time change? I hate to see the disappointment on people’s faces when they come to church at the wrong time.
This Sunday, we will be starting a new preaching series titled: When God Asks the Question. In any setting there are all sorts of questions from all sorts of sources. Who asks the question often determines the importance of the question. In a medical setting a doctor’s question is far more important than my question. The questions that God and Jesus ask of people are really important questions. In fact, they are the most important questions that can be asked of us.
Bookmarks will be made available at the Welcome Table on the patio listing all the questions, the text and the date. Pick one up for your own Bible and read ahead.
The question for this Sunday is from Genesis 3:9: “Where are you?” God asks that question to Adam and Eve as they hid in the Garden of Eden. As you prepare for worship on Sunday, reflect on why God asked that question? Didn’t God already know where they were? How does that question work in your life today?
PS The photo above this is one I took of Pablo Picasso's work "Figure" he did in Spain in 1930

Friday, August 26, 2011

Scared All the Time?

I was cruising channels last evening and came across CNN. The meteorologist had a graphic behind him of a totally flooded New York City. This graphic could twist and turn, zoom in or zoom away. Not a drop of rain has fallen yet and Hurricane Irene could be a very serious storm for New York City......but flooded now?
The point? Fear and followers. The way news presents topics maximizes fear and anxiety, keeping us glued to the sets through the commercial breaks, making lots of money! Fear sells, safety doesn't.
When we first got cable TV (and now satellite) I found myself regularly checking out the Weather Channel for video clips of where the storms were. And in doing so, I would get myself nervous where no storms threatened me at all. I would worry about those in harm's way in Oklahoma or Tennessee.
Today I was talking to a friend from the East Coast who told me a story about his daughter who teaches Elementary School. She said her children are frightened most of the time because of the Weather Channel. Her school asks parents to not let their children watch the Weather Channel because it creates such fear and anxiety.
What we allow into our heads does make a difference. Then I read Thomas a Kempis for devotions this morning and he said in 1420 "If you avoid unnecessary talk and aimless visits, listening to news and gossip, you will find plenty of suitable time to spend in meditation on holy things."

Minnesota State Fair...food on a stick

One of the traditions I most enjoyed in Minnesota was the summer-end trek to the State Fair. It was something I enjoyed doing with Isaac because Martha did not like all the dust, noise and smells of fried foods.
What sets the Minnesota State Fair apart from others is its singular devotion to putting food items on sticks and deep frying them. Over the years they have offered onions, Snicker's bars, pasta, ice cream, along with corn dogs and bacon.
This year Isaac went back with a friend of his and sent me these pictures below:
The Twinkies are a favorite if you want an instant attack of diabetes!
This is a deep-fried Twinkie covered with chocolate and powdered sugar!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Leadership like a Grandpa

My brother Tim and his wife Cyd are now proud grandparents. Their granddaughter, Amelia was born yesterday. That now makes my younger brother much older that I am! But more than that, I have noticed something about his language over the months that he has been preparing to be a grandfather; it's all about them. He would tell me about his son and daughter-in-law, about their plans and hopes, concerns and challenges. And it was always in a tone of hope and encouragement, a deep joy in their success and achievement.
Martha and I are in the early stages of preparing for grandparenthood and sense the same inner shift in our hearts and minds. When we were first married, we were all about us; building our home, our nest, our careers, our identities. When we had our children, we were about them and their growth and success. But often I was competitive with other children and other parents. When another parent shared the success of their child, I would counter with an equal or greater success of my child. Their success was really and extension of my dreams and success. No place did that play itself out better than on the sports or music platform.
I guess when our children married, I began feeling the shift from "it's about me" to "it's really about them." But hearing my brother's language about his children and now grandchildren is all about them. There is very little "I", "me" or "my" language. Even their energy and time is not about their convenience but about what their children and grandchild need.
Shift that whole notion to the church: disciples who make disciples really need to be in the mindset of the grandparent who only wants the success of the little ones. Great worship and programs in the church, from a grandparent viewpoint is about others and not my professional accomplishment. Grandparent leadership in the staff is about encouraging and equipping others to succeed and not about me getting the credit or being up front. It's about taking the pictures and not being in them. So, lead like a grandpa (or grandma)!

Monday, August 22, 2011

La Brea tar pits

Disney Music Hall LA

Our Lady of Angels LA

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Perk of zoo wedding!

400 M-4 backpacks!

The economy is bad, the weather is overcast, summer is winding down, the Kardashian wedding circus is in town, and we did not promote it real strongly. Yet at about 10 am today over 100 people from the M-4 churches showed up to fill 400 back packs for underprivileged kids who are residents with their families in "People's Self Help Housing" homes from Carpinteria to Isla Vista. The mood and energy was over-the-top. The age range went from little children to senior citizens. All four church staff were represented, greeting and blessing members. After each back pack was filled, the volunteer went out to a table and, on M-4 note cards, wrote individual blessings to the recipients of the back packs. Talk about fun!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Extravagent floral architecture!

Martha is in Minnesota with Liz & Jeff and I've been assigned watering duties. It's something Martha always does with care and detail when she's home. She knows and has planted every plant and can tell me how well or poorly it is doing.

I, on the other hand, know very little about the plants, their names, attributes, needs of uses. I often walk by plants going somewhere else (usually to a person, book or magazine). I engage words and people more than plants...until I must water them....slowly....and look at them...slowly.

Yikes! This yellow "flower" was crazy nuts! It sits on top of this plant like a an overdone art project. The colors pop and buzz. I'm sure there is a logical reason for why it is shaped like it is. But today I stood there in wonder and the extravagance of beauty! It did not need an audience to appreciate it. It just bloomed there in the column of sunlight!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

What's a Boat Doing in Church?

(Hint: Matthew 14: 22-36)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

VBS Reflections

1. 8 year old boys are always running

2. There is never enough lemonade

3. 8 year old boys are always running into other 8 year old boys

4. Craft time crosses can turn into excellent swords

5. Music that can be jumped to is preferred at all times

6. 5 year olds know how to look in awe

7. All adults are your friends

8. Water games have only one objective

9. Bible memory is much more fun with rap and sunglasses

10. Quiet times do work….they get the story of Jesus

11. I still can’t clap in time to the music

12. It’s a time when teen helpers and adult leaders really, really get along

13. Pastoral leadership means a lot of smiling, high fives, and not much talking or teaching

14. Kids take their craft time seriously….they are all artists still

15. They care about missions, especially when it involves other children

16. I need an afternoon nap every day

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