Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Wherever it was, that was where I wanted to go..."

Wendell Berry Wisdom

“Always in the big woods,
when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be,
along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement,
a little nagging of dread.
It is the ancient fear of the Unknown,
and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.” 

― Wendell Berry

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work, 
and that when we no longer know which way to go, 
we have begun our real journey.” 

― Wendell Berry

“We walked always in beauty, it seemed to me.
We walked and looked about, or stood and looked.
Sometimes, less often, we would sit down.
We did not often speak.
The place spoke for us and was a kind of speech.
We spoke to each other in the things we saw.” 

― Wendell BerryJayber Crow

“When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” 

― Wendell BerrySex, Economy, Freedom, and Community

“The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest,
and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass.” 

― Wendell BerryGiven

 “...I was a young man. I hardly knew what I knew, let alone what I was going to know.” 

― Wendell BerryJayber Crow

“It might seem to you that living in the woods on a riverbank would remove you from the modern world. But not if the river is navigable, as ours is. On pretty weekends in the summer, this riverbank is the very verge of the modern world. It is a seat in the front row, you might say. On those weekends, the river is disquieted from morning to night by people resting from their work.

This resting involves traveling at great speed, first on the road and then on the river. The people are in an emergency to relax. They long for the peace and quiet of the great outdoors. Their eyes are hungry for the scenes of nature. They go very fast in their boats. They stir the river like a spoon in a cup of coffee. They play their radios loud enough to hear above the noise of their motors. They look neither left nor right. They don't slow down for - or maybe even see - an old man in a rowboat raising his lines...

I watch and I wonder and I think. I think of the old slavery, and of the way The Economy has now improved upon it. The new slavery has improved upon the old by giving the new slaves the illusion that they are free. The Economy does not take people's freedom by force, which would be against its principles, for it is very humane. It buys their freedom, pays for it, and then persuades its money back again with shoddy goods and the promise of freedom.” 

― Wendell BerryJayber Crow

The mind that is not baffled is not employed. 
The impeded stream is the one that sings.” 

― Wendell Berry

“The road is a word,
conceived elsewhere and laid across the country in the wound prepared for it:
a word made concrete and thrust among us.” 
― Wendell Berry

“You have been given questions to which you cannot be given answers.
 You will have to live them out - perhaps a little at a time.'
And how long is that going to take?'
I don't know. As long as you live, perhaps.'
That could be a long time.'
I will tell you a further mystery,' he said. 'It may take longer.” 
― Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow

“I don't think I had even begun to have an idea where I was going,
but wherever it was, that was where I wanted to go.” 
― Wendell BerryJayber Crow

Sunday, November 11, 2012

21 Year Pastoral Anniversary at Life Tabernacle of Sanger

(This photo was taken sometime in the first few weeks of our coming to Life Tabernacle - November 1991
Dean was 33 and I was 24)

Celebrating our 21 Year Pastoral Anniversary at Life Tabernacle -Sanger!  A lifetime...of memories and an incredible church family!  

What started as a brief post on facebook became a chapter!! My mind started meandering through time... and even with all of this, I'm sure I've forgotten many things... these memories were just what came to mind as I remembered... people... places... names... faces…

Time... seconds... minutes... hours... days... weeks... months... years...

Lives changed... souls saved... Baptisms… gifts given and received… meals shared… moments shared… help given and received… bridal showers... baby showers... weddings... babies born... Dedications by the dozens... funerals... people moving here and people moving away...  revivals... events by the hundreds... tens of thousands of songs sang… songs learned… songs taught… songs written… special songs... solos... ladies groups... men's groups... Youth Chorales... Musicians and musician training... Praise Teams... LT Choir... Choir Clinic and Music Workshops... dramas... plays... singspirations... classes... retreats... outreach seminars... sunday school seminars... phone ministry... dinner ministry... Garden Parties... Youth Parties...

People... people... people...

Planning Retreats and Monthly Planning Councils... Vineyards... Home Friendship Groups... Cadet Ministry... Ushers... Hostesses... Bus Ministry...  Fund raisers - Grape Bowl, Holiday Fudge, enchilada plates, tamale sales, Toyland Parade floats and sales, Sunday Dinner Sales & Sweetheart Baskets just to name a few...

Working... working... working...

Exciting Services full of life...Triathlon Services (only for the STRONG!!)... deep services... high services... crazy praise services... 21 Shepherd's Day events... Homecoming Anniversary Services... Mother's Days and Fathers' Days... Patriotic Services... Bi-lingual Services... Thanksgiving Services... Spanish Services... Missionary Services... Missions Sundays... Faith Promise Services... Watch-night Services... foot washing... communion... 

Banquets... Get A Life Youth Conferences... Harvest Parties... Night of Judah... Sunday School Promo Events... Memorial Day Picnics... Tuesday Morning Ladies Prayer Meetings... Christmas Parties... End of the Year Events... Gift Exchanges... Cookie Exchanges... Married Sweetheart Banquets... Leadership Training and Retreats... Marriage Retreats and Seminars... hospital visits... court visits... pastoral care and counseling... pre-marriage counseling sessions... mid-week Bible studies by the thousands... life impacting messages by the thousands... consistent & anointed Pastoral Preaching and teaching... thousands of hours of study and sermon preparation... notes taken...   

Praying... praying...praying...  

Offerings received... payments made... bills purchased... Building Funds pledged and raised...and still being raised... business meeting... record keeping... tax forms... legal documents... membership  records... contribution records... files ... files... files... computers and church software... audits... budgets... banking... office supplies... kitchen supplies... bathroom supplies unending!... cleaning supplies... weekly and quarterly church cleaning and scheduling... sound and media equipment... tables... chairs... carpet... pews... remodeling... maintenance... heat & air units...  baptismal tanks... musical instruments... departmental supplies... hospitality baskets... church decorating... event decorating... cooking... cleaning... organizing... rearranging... rethinking... reevaluating... 

Planning... planning... planning...

Now my mind is now a whirl of time... memories crashing into moments...

Laughter... tears... joy... sorrow... life... death... salvation... deliverance... friendships made... love... disappointment... excitement... frustration... abundance... lean times... mountains high... valleys low...

we've aged... fine lines... wrinkles here & there... streaks of silver... growing older...

Reaching... reaching... reaching...

The world has changed around us... political leaders come and gone... cultural and generational transformations, as well as, degeneration... Life's face has taken many forms...

Hoping... hoping... hoping...

Sitting around with generation after generation... listening to their hopes and dreams... discussing the Word of God... experiencing the spiritual... encouraging personal responsibility... stressing the importance of a relationship with their Heavenly Father... watching... trying to guide... trying to protect... hopeful... proud... 

Loving... loving... loving...

Thank you for the love and support you've shown our family… for including us when family was far away… loving my children since the beginning… hanging out at my home with the youth just because you wanted to… sharing our table on Sunday afternoons and meeting us at Starbucks or our backyard for Sunday Evening talks… hanging out at our campfire just because you like to… making me laugh… and laugh… and laugh… (not only do I love it but I needed it!)

Living… living… living...

Years... months... weeks... days... hours... minutes... seconds...

Life at Life Tabernacle...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


It's motive alone which gives character to the actions of men.
Jean de la Bruyere

mo·ti·va·tion: the act or instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act a certain way; desire to do; interest or drive; incentive or inducement.

 "Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves."
 Stephen Kendrick -- The Love Dare 

What motivates us to do what we do?  Behind most actions, if not all, is a motive.  What is the reason we do what we do?

Most people's motivation to get up and go to work is that they'll get paid.  Your motivation for learning the piano may be the satisfaction of hearing beautiful music and sharing it with others.  An Olympian's motivation is the Gold Medal and ultimately recognition and honor.  Some do it for the GOLD and some for the GLORY.  But we are all motivated by something.

"There are a lot of people who are doing wonderful things, quietly, with no motive of greed, or hostility toward other people, or delusions of superiority."
Charles Kuralt

We have all heard someone say at one time or another, "I want my motives to be pure," and hopefully they are.  But in many instances, they are not as pure as we would like them to be.  In our human relationships we find this is a constant battle.  So many times, problems are caused in a relationship because the motivation is really about SELF... I'll do this IF you do that" or "I'm going to do this for him/her... so they will appreciate me more or they will do this or that for me."  It's so difficult for our self/ flesh to really understand and act with totally pure motives.  Even what may start out as a pure motive, may eventually digress when we begin to feel unappreciated or unnoticed.  Love, especially in relationships, would be the ultimate motivation.  A pure motivation of love, care and concern... would be just that -- love, care and concern!  I do this or that because I LOVE!  No hidden agenda... no ulterior motive... not expecting anything in return...  I don't care if I get recognition or public acknowledgment.  I just love and therefore, I do... 

"Intense love does not measure, it just gives."
Mother Teresa

Now I want to stop and say here that I, by no means, have this perfected.  Writing this blog is, in of itself, an exercise in awareness.  Humanity everywhere faces motives every day.  When the sun rises in the morning and the alarm blasts in our ear.... we each find that something or someone motivates us to get up and get on with life.  Sometimes our actions have several motives.  We may even, in times of distress and depression become unmotivated and passionless.  We seem to have nothing to live for and struggle with our daily duties and relationships.  We become so absorbed in feeling down; black clouds of stress, hurt or hopelessness distorts our motives and we appear to be more "self-centered" and may act selfishly.  We've lost our motivation in our hopelessness and the Love of God and the unselfish love of our friends and family are sunshine and hope in this darkened state.

"Many people mistake our work for our vocation. Our vocation is the love of Jesus." 
Mother Teresa

When someone is motivated and working hard on love, life or a particular project, there are many factors involved.  Even if someone is not doing it to get recognition, we all know that everyone likes to feel appreciated for their hard work.  When they are taken for granted they begin to feel resentment and unappreciated.  Do we really know or realize our motives?  I think if we honestly begin to take the time to understand what motivates us to do certain things, we will begin to see a clearer picture of ourselves and hopefully use it to grow in relationships with God and man.  When you honestly thrown yourself wholeheartedly into loving someone you give without expecting anything in return.  I want the other person's best... I want the other person happy... I want them to feel better... or succeed... whatever the case may be.  When your only motivation is in the other person's best interest, then self doesn't need the recognition is so lusts after.  If everyone could LOVE with this kind of love... motivated only by love, we would ALL be acting in the best interest of EACH OTHER.  There would be no vying for attention, no striving for recognition, no demanding of appreciation...  But we would feel loved, attended to, recognized and appreciated. 

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
 Galations 2:20

While love is the ultimate motive, there are many other worthy and honorable motives when dealing with our day to day duties of life.  We set goals and those are our motivation.  There is nothing inherently wrong with reaching a goal and being motivated by the "prize".  But along the way, we need to check our motives and realize that they will affect our actions as we reach for our goal.  I don't know if all this is possible all the time, but what would our homes look like...?  What would our churches look like...?  What would our businesses look like...?  What would the WORLD look like if our motivation flowed from a heart of love and genuine concern for other people and their well-being?  Human motivation comes in all shapes and sized... motives of getting more money, climbing the ladder of "success", getting a hand-out, getting our name in the "headlines," growing a bigger church, getting a better position, gaining respect and honor, or the simple sly motive of appearances... that is, if I do something (benevolent, charity, non-profit, volunteer type work) people will think better of me... I'll LOOK better... I'll get more honor... I'll get more RESPECT.  Our motivation should never be to strive for a bigger and better charity program, homeless ministry, benevolent outreach SO that WE, or our church or organization can be KNOWN in the community.  Ultimately, we see that the motivation is still SELF.

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Matthew 22:37-40

When it comes to human relationships and responsibility of those relationships, the Bible gives us clear direction when it says that everything hangs on two things... Love God with all your heart, mind and strength AND Love Others... as thyself (For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it; takes care of it)  Another place it says to love as Jesus (our perfect example) loved the world and gave Himself for it.  That is the ultimate motivation of love.  Willingness to give and give and give of ourself.  To love others the way God loves us.  We are made in God's image and are being perfected in the image of Jesus (the FIRSTBORN among MANY brethern).  When we step out to do something for someone...we need to check our motives and then do some adjusting to our motivation.  This will take work and we will fail at times.  But we must still strive to keep our motives pure; laying aside our our self-motivation and being motivated by our love, sympathy and care for others.  Acting on self-less compassion and genuine concern for the well-being of all human beings... and especially those who God has placed directly in our lives or path.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith; Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another."
Galations 5:22-26

So I ask myself the question... What is my motive or what motivates me to do what I do? It's not a question I can ask myself just one time. But it is something I must do time and time again.  The human will and need for SELF to be stroked and appeased is an ongoing battle.  Dying daily... to self. Crucifying my "flesh" and it's selfish desires.  It's time to check our motives.  Let my prayer be, "God, purify my motives and motivate me by Your Love.  Let Your Love flow through me into all of my relationships and, as I see the needs of others in the world around me, let me be motivated by that Love and act from that pure motive..."

"This is what love meant after all: sacrifice and selflessness.  It did not mean hearts and flowers and a happy ending, but the knowledge that another's well-being is more important than one's own."
Melissa de la Cruz - Lost In Time

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Meditation or Mediation

I found an interest passage in a book that I'm reading on discipline:

There are times when everything within us says "yes" to these lines of Frederick W. Faber:

Only to sit and think of God,
Oh what a joy it is!
To think the thought,
To breathe the Name
Earth has no higher bliss.

But those who meditate know that the more frequent reaction is spiritual inertia, a coldness and lack of desire. Human beings seem to have a perpetual tendency to have somebody else talk to God for them. We are content to have the message secondhand. At Sinai the people cried out to Moses, "You speak to us, and we will hear; but let not God speak to us, lest we die" (Ex. 20:19). One of the fatal mistakes of Israel was their insistence upon having a human king rather then resting in the theocratic rule of God over them. We can detect a note of sadness in the word of the Lord, "They have rejected me from being king over them" (I Sam 8:7). The history of religion is the story of an almost desperate scramble to have a king, a mediator, a priest, a go-between. In this way we do not need to go to God ourselves. Such an approach saves us from the need to change, for to be in the presence of God is to change. It is very convenient this way because it gives us the advantage of religious respectability without demanding moral transformation. We do not need to observe the American scene very closely to realize that it is captivated by the religion of the mediator.

That is why meditation is so threatening to us. It boldly calls us to enter into the living presence of God for ourselves. It tells us that God is speaking in the continuous present and wants to address us. Jesus and the New Testament writers make clear that this not just for the religious professionals -- the priests -- but for everyone. (Excerpt from Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster)

We can enter the Holy of Holies and converse with the living God!

My favorite passage in scripture is also my prayer:

"This book of the law shall not depart out of (my) mouth; but (I) shalt meditate therein day and night, that (I) mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make (my) way prosperous, and then (I) shalt have good success. "  Joshua 1:8

The Word of God encourages us to meditate:

Ps. 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Ps. 5:1 (To the chief Musician upon Nehiloth, A Psalm of David.) Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation.

Psalms 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Psalms 49:3 My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.

Psalms 63:6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.

Psalms 77:12 I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.

Psalms 104:34 My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.

Psalms 119:15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

Psalms 119:23 Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.

Psalms 119:48 My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.

Psalms 119:78 Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.

Psalms 119:97O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.

Psalms 119:99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are
my meditation.

Psalms 119:148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

Psalms 143:5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.

1 Timothy 4:15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

We must realize that we cannot wait on someone to hear from God for us... we must communicate with Him ourselves by meditating on Him and His Word.  It is a personal relationship and no one can do that for us. 

Lord, teach me to meditate on You and Your Word all day -- everyday.   Let me NOT fall back into the human tendency to let someone else talk and listen to God for me... but to learn and develop the discipline of mediation as directed by Your Word.
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