Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our Christmas Letter - a.k.a. - The History of Our Lives

Last year I posted Marcia's Christmas letter here and will do the same again.  Among ou friends, her annual update is anticipated because of its humor and down-home charm.  It is long, so grab a cup of hot chocolate, or egg nogg and read on.....


Dear Family & Friends,
We trust your year has gone well.  Ours has had its share of ups and downs but we are very 
thankful for many blessings from the Lord, even in the not-so-good times.  For us, 2008 began with Kristen and her family here from December 18-January 10.  The Sunday before they left for home, we were all together one final time at our former church in Grand Rapids.  Chris had 
the privilege of dedicating Raegan, Pixie, and Cole; then after the church service a photographer friend of ours took photos of all six grands and family photos.  It was a madhouse trying to get everyone seated and looking at the camera.  Uncle Brett discovered a way to entertain the kids, though, after a ½ hour of unsuccessful attempts to control the squirms: he looks very funny when he does the Chicken Dance!  And seven week old Baby Cole just slept through all the pandemonium.  When we took Kristen & Brett and the kids to the Lansing Airport to see them off, we had lunch in the airport cafĂ© before they boarded.  As we ate, Brett was trying to make conversation, and innocently said, “So Rhys, what was your favorite part about visiting the States this Christmas?”  Without hesitation, Rhys replied, “Playing with Granny!”  Kristen and I quickly swung away from Rhys so he couldn’t see us crying.  We knew that we would not see them again for an entire year so this ‘good-bye’ was a tough one.  (Chris and I are heading to NZ January 12-February 23, 2009; 4 weeks vacation for Chris, with a 2 week trip to Bougainville.  I will be staying in NZ the entire
 time.  At Thanksgiving, Lily saw what I have already packed and said, “I want to go to New 
Zealing, too.”  I’m afraid she would be terribly homesick, though.)
Chris writes:  Once we had our plans for New Zealand in the works, I contacted my friend, Jeff Fussner who is Global Partners (Wesleyan Church) area director for the South Pacific.  I asked if he might have a side trip that we could make together.  He invited me to teach homiletics (the art and science of preaching) in Bougainville.  Where?  Bougainville.  It is a small island in the Solomon chain off the east end of Papua New Guinea.  Jeff & I will be traveling there at the end of January.  I’m looking forward to the challenge of teaching in a very different culture.  If you
 want to know more and follow my adventures in B-ville (as well as other entries/videos of our grandchildren, my head being shaved, etc.), see below...
- In April, we took a to Jamaica to work with ‘My Father’s House’, a home for children at risk.  (Several friends said, “A missions trip in Jamaica?  Oh right!”  Believe me, we saw a side to Jamaica that you don’t see at Sandals Resort.)  I served as the team leader, which meant
 herding the 16 volunteers and dealing with problems.  All in all, it was a great trip, doing lots of repairs around the compound.  We also served a rural community by carrying water up the 
mountain to fill reservoirs (barrels).  My favorite story from that trip involves a 4 year old boy named Felix, who loves Spiderman.  I had gotten my computer out to update my blog when Felix came over to help.   He saw a picture of Rhys wearing a Halloween Spiderman costume. 
 Felix said, “That’s me.  (Pause) That’s
 me...when I was white.”
- It’s no surprise that I spent a considerable amount of time on my bike (I will log over 7,000
 miles by the end of the year).  What is impressive is Marcia’s 50 mile day on DALMAC.  I have ridden this 5-Day tour several times but this year Marcia rode the majority of the first day with me on the tandem - beginning in DeWitt and finishing north of Alma.  We had a great time together, but Marcia was glad she
 wasn’t going on for the remainder of the week.

- Faith is 8 years old and in the 3rd grade.  She had a big year in that her tonsils were removed in the spring before she could begin orthodontic work.  The doctor measured her tonsils by placing them on a ruler, then taking a photo.  Great memento - not!   (When Lily saw it, she called them ‘bloody meatballs’ and told us she is going to have her bloody meatballs taken out when she’s 7 ½ like Faithie. ☺)  Faith also is in dance class again after being away for 3 years while they lived in Florida.  Her dance recital was in June and we were so proud of her.  She looked graceful and beautiful.  She is beautiful from within, too.  She loves babies and was a great help taking care of Raegan last Christmas and always in taking care of Cole when we’re together.  Faith can get Cole to laugh even when he’s tired.  It’s no surprise that she named one of her dolls Raegan and another Cole.  And on most days, Pixie 
enjoys being ‘mothered’ by Faith, too.
- Lily turned 4 at the end of October.  She is a little clothes freak and loves to play dress up or create her own style, sometimes layering 2 or 3 outfits at the same time.  Lil loved having her Auntie K here.   She had a shirt and pants that were similar in style to one that Kristen wore so she called it her “Auntie K outfit” and wore it nearly daily until she outgrew it!   As I was helping Lily get dressed one day last summer, she said, “I’ll choose an outfit for Pixie, too, so she can look fab-LEE-us like me.”  Lily also loved ‘Baby Raegan’ and when her maternal grandmother bought ballet shoes for all 3 girls, Lil insisted that Baby Raegan needed ballet shoes, too, so Gram bought the shoes and Granny mailed them to NZ. (Both Lily and Pixie started ballet class in September so next June’s recital should be triple the fun!)  When Lily sets her mind on something there isn’t much chance of changing her mind.   When they visited at Thanksgiving, 
Lily asked, “Granny, can I help you cook?  You’ll cook more faster if I help you.”
- Rhys celebrated his 3rd birthday in March.  He is quite articulate, often sounding older than his years.   I was talking to Kristen one day, telling her about hitting a deer on our way to church.  Kristen was commenting and when Rhys overheard what had happened, he got on the phone and asked, “Did Papa hit a deer?   I don’t believe it!”  He acted like he had heard the most shocking news.  The Jones family moved in November from a 2 bedroom to a 4 bedroom home.  Rhys is a ‘homebody’ so he was persistent in saying, “I’m NOT going!”  I tried my hand at encouraging h
im to move by asking, “Where will granny sleep when we come to visit?”  “With me in my bed,” Rhys answered.  “But where will papa sleep?” I asked.  His solution:  “With mama in her bed.”  Thankfully Rhys did move so Granny won’t have to sleep in a twin bed with Rhys and Brett & Kristen won’t have to share a bed with Papa.  Kristen and Brett are expecting Baby #3 in May.  They went for an ultrasound last week but don’t plan to find out the gender of the newest Jones.  However,  Rhys is quite sure – he told us: “She’s a boy”.
- Pixie, who turned 3 years at the end of September, lives up to her name – she’s an adorable,
 affectionate little pixie.   She has very expressive eyes that dance when she’s happy and that look like thunderclouds when she’s unhappy.  One day 
I told the girls on the phone that I wanted them to help me decorate our 
Christmas tree when they came down after Thanksgiving.  Then I heard this scream in the background.  It was Pixie; she was delighted!  And I don’t know when I’ve enjoyed decorating a tree more than I did this year.  The girls ooh-ed and aah-ed over every ornament, running them over to show their mom before placing them on the tree.  Some branches have 3 or 4 ornaments hanging in the same spot.  I didn’t move a thing.  To me the tree looks beautiful just the way it is!   During that same visit, we were playing with the toy doctor kit downstairs.  Pixie had just been treated 10 days earlier for a double ear infection so when it was her turn to be the doctor, she took the otoscope, very gently pushed Lily’s hair back, and said, “Let’s take a peek in your ear.”  I asked, 
“What do you see, doctor?”  Dr. Pixie:  “Uh, plus.”  Me:  “Do you me
an pus?”  Dr. Pixie: “No, plus.”  There you have it: Lily has ear plus!
 Raegan, who was 1 year old in July, is a tiny dynamo.  For her hefty start at birth, she is a
 petite little girl, absolutely beautiful with long dark hair,  blue eyes, and a ready smile.  Don’t let that innocent look fool you, though: she is extremely active, always on the move.  Raegan loves music; one day Kristen found her playing in her toy 
kitchen, trying to sing their ‘thank You, Lord’ grace song as she ‘prepared’ a meal.  One of her first words was ‘amen’ and Brett says it’s not because she is overly spiritual but rather because she enjoys food so much.  We try to visit on-line as often as possible so Raegan now thinks we live in the computer.  When she hears the Skype ring, she walks over to the computer and says “Papa”.  We’re anxious to actually get to cuddle her in about 3 short weeks!
- Cole celebrated his first birthday in November.  He lives the closest to us out of all the other grands and we love having him nearby.  He came to stay with us for a week in September while Kent & Jill went to Wisconsin where Kent took a one week class at U of W for his job; it was fun to have a baby in the house.  Unlike Raegan, Cole is a big boy.  (His mommy is so tiny, but she’s young and has lots of energy for toting him around!)  Life has taken on a new turn since Cole took his first steps about 2 ½ weeks before his birthday and he has successfully climbed a flight of steps.  No more leaving the door or gate open at their house!   Cole’s talents include: making ‘motor’ sounds when he’s playing with cars or trucks, making a ‘popping’ sound until his mouth dries out (there’s a video of that on Chris’ blog, October 25 entry), and saying ‘whoa’ or ‘wow’ when something amazes him.  Very funny little guy!
Chris:  Cancer has reared its ugly head this year in ways we didn’t anticipate - but before all that happened, I shaved my (not so ugly, by the comments I received) head in the cause of children’s cancer.  My friend, Doug, lost a son to childhood cancer two years ago.  The St. Baldrick’s foundation raises funds for childhood cancer research.  I raised $880.00 - less than my goal of $1,000 - but close enough.  To see pictures and a video of the ‘shaving’ process - go to my blog:
Marcia: I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in September, had a total thyroidectomy in October, and completed treatment on December 9.  (The treatment was easy: one radiated iodine pill to kill residual thyroid cells, which required 4 days of isolation at home - I called it ‘house arrest’ - due to my being radioactive.)  With this type of cancer, no chemo is necessary and the cure rate is 96%.  But cancer is cancer and we found ourselves totally depending on God’s grace, peace, and strength.  There is a line from a song recorded by The Martins that I found especially comforting, “But the will of God won’t lead you where the grace of God can’t keep you.  You will never be out of His care.”  And around the time of my diagnosis, two of our dear friends were diagnosed, one with melanoma in his lung, and the other with esophageal cancer.  We also found out that my dad’s prostate cancer has spread to his ribs, spine, and hips.  The day before my surgery we (my siblings) went to the doctor with my folks to get the report of Dad’s bone scan.  When I awoke that morning, the song, "We stand and lift up our hands for the joy of the Lord is our strength.  We bow down and worship Him now; how great, how awesome is He!  And together we sing, 'Holy is the Lord God Almighty.  The earth is filled with His glory...'" was 'playing' in my head.  Then the words of Jesus from John 16:33 came to me:  "In this world you WILL have trouble.  But TAKE HEART.  I have OVERCOME the world."  Let me tell you the Spirit of God washed over me in a powerful way and He filled me with His grace to face what looked like could potentially be the worst two days of my life.  I climbed out of my bed, ready to face what was lying ahead.  So we are walking a path right now where we wish we weren’t traveling, but we are not alone.  There is One who walks with us, even carrying us when we don’t feel as if we can keep going.  How I praise Him for comfort and release from fear.
We realize that many of you have faced struggles, too, this past year.  If there is a specific way we can pray for you, please e-mail us at  We hold you close in our hearts, dear family and friends.

Marcia and Chris

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bougainville Update

I spoke with Jeff Fussner, area director for the Pacific Area for Global Partners on skype - (what a great tool!)  We will probably be spending a couple days in Paupua New Guinea on our way to meet with the Keilholtz and then on to Bouganville from there - so I will get a little extra experience out of this trip.  

I will be teaching in the morning for three hours each day Monday through Friday and then we will be visiting churches on the weekends.  This means I will probably be preaching in a couple places (more experience!).  I will also have to wear a tie on Sundays - I think I know where I put them - Fortunately, no suit is required.  It is supposed to be really hot!

I may also get some snorkeling in - more ocean time in!  I got to get into the east side of the Pacific in November when the staff from Faith went out to SanDiego for an outreach conference.  I surfed!  Well, I was up for 5 to 10 feet, but it was witnessed by Scott Ferguson, so it is official.  I had much better luck just riding the board in on my belly.  

I'm getting into water sports, apparently, because I also just bought a kayak.  I wasn't brave enough to try it before the river froze over because I'm pretty sure I WILL tip it over a time or two before I get the hang of it.  I got hooked in October when our friends, Will and Johanna Bennetts brought their three person canoe out and we floated the Looking Glass River from downtown DeWitt to near our home.  What a great day - I want to do more of that.  I so enjoyed the tranquility - and, unlike my bicycle - no gravel trucks passing two feet away.  

We leave for New Zealand on January 12, so I will keep posted here and on Facebook what is happening.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bougainville Bound...

I want to let you know about the next adventure in my life and to invite you to partner with me in it.  From January 25 to February 8, 2009 I and my friend, Jeff Fussner, will be in Bougainville to teach a two week course at the Bible College there.  I will be teaching practical message preparation (aka: homiletics).  It’s a great opportunity for me to share my 30+ years of experience with developing pastors and to learn from them as well.


So....where is Bougainville?   It is a remote island in the Solomon Island chain near Papua New Guinea (PNG).  I’ve been telling people that we fly into PNG and then go somewhere more remote.  The people of Bougainville have been the subject of oppression for sometime and in the last decade have won a measure of autonomy and relief. 

I will be posting updates here as the time draws nearer and a detailed report once I return.  

Funds needed:  $1,800.00   

Raised to date: $1,840.00    We've exceeded the goal by $40.00! - thanks for your support!  WOW!  Extra funds will be put to use to help students at the Bible School.




Area: 3,590 sq mi (slightly smaller than Jamaica)  The most northerly of the Solomon Islands but arbitrarily linked in colonial times to PNG.


Population: 160,000 about 20,000 lost their lives in the fighting during the 1990’s.  An additional 40,000 became refugees.


Economy: A large copper mine opened in 1972 provided 35% of the national income to the PNG central government but severely damaged the ecology of the island.  The mine was closed in 1989.


Politics: Local opposition to incorporation in PNG at independence in 1975 led to a war for Bougainville’s independence in 1988.  After intense fighting, a cease fire was finalized in 1998.  In 2000 negotiations about the future status of Bougainville commenced.


Religion:  Almost entirely Christian.  Roman Catholics 80%, United Church 10%, also Seventh Day Adventist.  Many are nominal with much syncretism. 


(Data taken from Operation World 21st Century Edition)




Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Talented Grandkids

Given the giftedness of their granddad, it shouldn't be too surprising that my grandchildren also have amazing talents.  A couple videos bear this out.  The first is the oldest, Faith at her dance recital last June.  The second is a talent much closer to my kind of gifting: Cole showing off his amazing noise making ability.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

C I A - Jamaican Style

On Tuesday we traveled up into the mountains - about 20 minutes away - to carry water for the families there. We filled 5 gallon jugs and buckets from a spigot near the church and then carried the water to fill 55 gallon drums outside their homes. It was quite an eye opener as to how others in our world still live. As Carl noted: "I'll never take running water for granted again".

Today's slideshow can give you a bit of an idea of how hard we worked and how much harder the lives are of those who live this everyday.

In the afternoon we came back and largely picked up where we left off. Gardening, painting, bike repair, organizing and prepping for concrete work.

On Wednesday, we worked HARD! Most of the men spent the day mixing concrete by hand for the hammock posts on the pool deck and parking pad in the front. The concrete ingredients had to be hauled from the back to the front. One ingredient is called marl - a gypsum-like subtance. It had to be broken up by pickaxe, screened into a wheelbarrow and hauled to the front. We called them the marl-barrow men. The parking pad was finished just before it rained.

Several of the women worked on the gardens again and did a fantastic job. They really got into their work! As this picture clearly shows....

Dereck, when he was not being one of the Marl-barrow men - worked on the play set replacing rotted rope on the rope ladder and swinging bridge. Connie spent the day with needle and thread - sewing on buttons and repairing clothes for the children. At the end of the day, I caught them relaxing and enjoying the fruit of Dereck's labor.

Several others helped out in various ways. Erin and Jen did more painting and organized cupboards, Kathy updated the website for My Father's House with dozens of new pictures. Erin's big adventure of the the day was taking the younger children on a bike ride down to the beach where they caught 15 hermit crabs which one of the little girls put them in her shirt pocket - not the best idea. But fun - which is what most of us have had - even though we are very tired - and very sore. It's been a great day of serving and falling in love with these children.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Jamaica Trip - Monday Report

Monday was a very full day as the following slide show demonstrates....

It was a wonderfully warm and mostly sunny day until late afternoon when it threatened rain and thunder rolled off the mountains.

A bit of explanation of Ackie (spelling unsure). It is a fruit that grows down here and when cooked tastes and has the consistency and appearance of undercooked scrambled eggs. Can’t wait to try them.

We’ve had a few taste adventures. There is callalu - which is a leafy green vegetable which doesn’t taste quite as sweet as spinach but not as bitter as collard greens. Then there are star apples that taste nothing like apples. They are more like a cross between a mushy melon and a grape with enormous black seeds. But they are quite tasty. We will also be having real yams - they have one in the pantry that is 7 inches in diameter and about a foot long and it has been cut in half! We will also be trying bread fruit which is grown right here in the yard.

Another new experience was the frequent blackouts and brown outs yesterday. The lights began to fade and then just go out about mid-afternoon and continued until well after dark. Carl and Barry were trying to do some welding which was really difficult to do when the voltage kept changing. This is also the explanation for not sending out this update last night. It was ready, but the connection was not cooperating. So my apologies for being a bit late.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Jamaica Sunday

We had a great day today. A very relaxed morning. Church didn't begin until almost noon. So we had plenty of time to get around. Eat a great breakfast - we were introduced to McPenne's or My Father's House egg McMuffin - a yeasty bread slice with egg and cheese - it was GOOD!

Here's a quick look at the church experience - it was much longer, and more meaningful than the video can convey, but it will give you a taste.

The afternoon was spent with the kids. Some swam in the pool, others went to the ocean and took beautiful photos.

Now it is late evening, the children are in bed and we are sitting around sharing. It's been a great day.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

We are In Jamaica!

It was a really long day - beginning at 3:00 a.m. in Lansing and ending at 10:30 in Jamaica. Along the way we drove to Detroit, flew to Minneapolis and then flew down to Jamaica.

Everything went smoothly. A great trip. We ate a quick meal at a true Jamaican fast food place.


Then the real adventure began - a 1 1/2 hour trip over the mountains and across the island on narrow, winding road with 14 of us in a small Toyota van and our luggage and two others in a pick-up. I was sitting on a cooler and holding on for dear life.

We arrived, safely, well after dark. Had our meeting and are winding down.

A quick story to go with this last piciture. I was getting the computer out to update this blog and Felix came over to help. As it booted up, there was a picture of my grand-daughter Raegan on the wallpaper. He wanted to see more of her until he saw Rhys in his halloween Spiderman costume. Felix loves Spiderman and he says, that's me. Then the punchline. That's me when I was white.

You have to love kids and their creative imaginations. So he's the first of many here to win my heart. More tomorrow.


Friday, April 4, 2008


I did a quick ride to Waucousta yesterday. As I rounded the last corner a guy in a van yelled out - Hey Lance!

Was it the speed?

Was it the aggressive riding style?

Was it the trim, toned body?

Maybe it was the yellow jersey.

Or maybe it was the hair.

Anyway, it was nice to be outside and not freezing to death for a change!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Creepy Christians

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine brought another friend to church for the first time. It was their first experience with church in a very long time. After the service, he gave us what I consider one of the greatest compliments we could receive. He said, "They weren't creepy".

Unfortunately, to people outside the church world, a lot of Christians are creepy. I didn't have to wait long after hearing his comment to run into a couple of them.

The very next day, I was stuck in traffic on the freeway. The road crews were repairing the pot-holed surface and had taken three lanes down to one. Most of us had all gotten in line crawling forward. As I neared the place where the orange barrels squeezed the traffic into final submission a $40,000 SUV went blasting by on the left - a huge Herbalife Distributor decal in the rear window. Just as I was thinking, boy am I glad I'm not a Herbalife dealer, I saw it - less obtrusive, but just as recognizable - the fish - Creepy Christian!

Then this week I got a call on my cell phone. Our warantee has expired on our Saturn and we had received multiple voice messages trying to get us to buy another extended warrantee. I decided to take the call and tell them to not call again. I didn't get a chance to say a word before she jumped into her pitch and told me all the advantages of the warrantee and what would be covered. I finally got a word in edgewise and told her I just wanted to ask to not be bothered anylonger. Her answer, and I quote: "Well, why didn't you say so. All you had to do was tell me! So, you have a blessed day. And rememeber that Jesus loves you!" DO NOT annoy me and then try to witness to me. Creepy Christian!

Which makes me stop and wonder how often I am a creepy Christian. I hope less than I could be, but please, can we who claim to follow Jesus, be a bit more conscientious about how we interface with a world who wants nothing to do with HIM largely because of US.

What's your creepy Christian story? Or better, when you saw a believer really living Jesus in front of others.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'd Pay To See That - The Movie

In a world with far too much hair. In a time when children are suffering. One man stands alone to offer up his best on their behalf....

O.k. - I was sitting - and there were lots of other people doing the same thing - but it probably was my best feature - I've raised $880 and glad to have done it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'd Pay To See That III - The Aftermath

UPDATE: Getting Close - but not as close as my haircut!


Thanks to: Don & Sandy, Brandy & Judy, Greg & Jen, Marcia!, Eric & Janine, Norine, Gary & Cindy, Tom, John & Sheila, Dennis & Shirley, Dan & Sonya, Jason & Joann, Marc, Kathy & Christina, Brett, Kristen, Rhys & Raegan, Carl & MaryBeth, Bob & Sandy, Dave, Amy & Sydney Joel (whose occasional "hand on top of head" pose I now totally understand), Tracy, Kate, Seth & Riley and Cleo and Kathleen.

I came up short of the $1K goal but it is still not too late to contribute. I did my part in faith, please take part in making a difference in the lives of kids and their families.

So, the day came and I now have a very short haircut. Just little tiny bristles left. My hat fits more loosely, but doesn't come off because the little bristles act like velcro!

There were a large number of people from the church who had their heads shaved. It was a very positive experience in many ways. Team Hawk (named after the son of Doug and Kim and brother of Stephen and Kelly) collected several thousand dollars and made a huge impact on those there to observe. It was a privilege to be part of this.

Doug and Kelly on far left - Stephen in blue shirt - front on right.

My friend, Diane was the only woman to have her locks shorn in our group. What a sacrifice and what a hoot she is! Thanks to all who supported us. I should have the video up in a day or two.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'd Pay To See That II

Well, it is going to happen. I will be going bald on March 16th. My "friends" have been adamant that the $1,000.00 bounty on my locks will be met. If you would like to be part of the fun and make a difference for the future of some of our children, here's the steps:

1: go to

2: click on "get involved"

3: in the HELP THE CAUSE window click "Make a Donation"

4: in the search for a participant window type:



click "go"

5: follow the "donate now" link

You can donate on line with a credit card or download a form to make a donation by mail.

Thanks for your willingness to make me look ridiculous and to help fight childhood cancer.

For the background on this, see my previous post below.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'd Pay To See That!

How do you like my new look? Actually it's an intentionally poor photoshop of what I might look like bald. And I could be, if you are like my friend and co-worker Judy who said, "I'd pay to see that"!

On Sunday, March 16th, there's an event here in town put on by the St. Baldrick's Foundation. They raise funds for children's cancer research by getting people to shave their heads. Last year they raised over $12 million. I am willing to do my part, but I don't come cheap.

If I can get people to donate $1,000 to St. Baldricks in my name, I will, on March 16th lay it all down - at least all my hair! Then I will post a picture of the real-deal here on my blog for all to enjoy. I may even be able to get a video of the golden moment.

My greatest fears are 1] that my hair will never grow back in or 2] it will finally come in gray. But this is a great cause I care deeply about. I'm doing this for my friends Doug, Kim and Stephen because of Hawk. I'm doing this because of Laura and her mom and dad. I'm doing this for Ashley who lost a leg, but gained our deepest admiration. I'm doing this for those other kids I don't know, but my heart still breaks for them and their families. And though they are not children I'm doing it for Marcia's dad, Mo and Shirley and Claire and Kim and Bill and for my mom who has been a cancer survior for going on 30 years now.

Check out the website at Then leave me a comment if you would "pay to see that"! As soon as I am registered as a participant, I'll let you know. If I can make a difference in one of these kid's lives, then bald is truly beautiful - but hopefully, not permanent.

Friday, February 8, 2008

I love my job!

I have got to be one of the most fortunate guys in the world. I love my job ... almost every day.

I get to connect with people around the world and from time to time travel to see them. Coming in April, Marcia and I will be going to Jamaica to visit "Our Father's House" - a home for children there run by Jim and Penne Koch. I've met Jim and there have been several Faith church folk who have gone in recent years.

I get to be creative and hang out with creative people. Yesterday an impromptu staff meeting broke out in my office and Brandon, Scott and I began talking about big ideas and dreaming what ifs. The three J's (Judy, Jennifer and Joanna) are great to work with and inspire me to do better.

I also get to give things away in Jesus' name. This month we are doing activity bags for children at Sparrow Hospital. I envisioned nice little bags of coloring books and crayons and a few other little things with them. Then one of our guys who works with Toys for Tots stepped up - They have a backlog of some items that were not distributed and he wanted to get them in the hands of kids who can really use and enjoy them. So with permission of the higher ups, I have two huge boxes of really cool toys that we'll be able to share with shut in kids this next week.

This weekend I am performing a wedding for a young couple I just met. Not my usual M-O, but they live out of state, so another pastor counseled with them. I got to do a couple sessions with them yesterday and today. They are a neat couple and it is my privilege to get to speak into the lives of these two just getting started.

Are there days I don't experience pure joy? Of course. But more often than not I'm saying, "I love my job!"

Monday, January 28, 2008

Jesus Junk and Holy Hardware....

My friend, Karl used that phrase to describe the stuff we market as the new religious icons. Back when the prayer of Jabez was a big deal they were marketing it like crazy. There were the usual books and cds. Even a "prayer of Jabez for Toddlers" as if 2 year olds aren’t already adept at enlarging their own territory by taking whatever toy some other child has. I suggested to a friend of mine who is in marketing and shares my passion for cars that "Prayer of Jabez - Raised White Letter Tires" might be just the thing for reaching the unreached hordes of street racers who want to be "(kept) from harm so that (they) will be free from pain".

Today I was in one of those purveyors of Jesus paraphernalia. While browsing through the various offerings, I discovered that Jesus junk had sunk to a new low. First it was a 25' carpenter’s tape measure with "Build On The Rock" printed on the side. Other than being way overpriced, it was merely amusing.

As I was getting ready to leave the store I encountered something that truly appalling. You know the "Easy" button made popular by Staples office supply. This was a cheap (in every sense of the word as my old friend Evan likes to say) rip off of that gimmick. It said, "Heaven, It’s That Easy" and when I pushed the button to see what happens I was treated to a reading of John 3:16 - King James Version naturally.

I was so embarrassed. Not just because I was standing there as that stupid little box played on and on - I was embarrassed for Christianity and for the way things like this cheapen what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Tell the believers in Somalia, who are starving and dying for their faith today that "it’s just that easy." Try to convince those in the Muslim and Hindu worlds who have left their traditional faiths to follow Jesus that it is "just that easy". For that matter, tell it to anyone who has been a servant of Christ for any length of time. It’s anything but "easy" and to say it is, is both an insult and unbiblical.

"Take up your cross and follow’s just that easy." Luke 9:23

"In this world you will have’s just that easy." John 16:33

"In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,’s just that easy." 2 Timothy 3:12

Just three of many sayings that indicate the Jesus Road is a bumpy one.

I’m not a glum Christian - I laugh a lot more than most. And I really do believe that this is the best possible life - but it’s not easy. Maybe it’s better because it isn’t.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Spit In The Ocean

I’m reading a book that was given to be by my good friends Derek and Connie. The irresistible revolution is written by Shane Claiborne - a person I admire for his courage and willingness to do more that talk about living out his faith.
Here’s a brief sampling....

Most Christian artists and preachers have remained strangely distant from human suffering, offering the world eternal assurance over prophetic imagination. Meanwhile, many of us find ourselves estranged fron the narrow issues that define conservatives and the shallow spirituality that marks liberals. We are thirsty for social justice and peace but have a hard time finding a faith community that is consistently pro-life or that recognizes that there are "moral issues" other than homosexuality and abortion; moral issues like war and poverty. So some folks just end up trying to save individual souls from their sins and others end up trying to save the world from the "system". But rarely do we see that the sickness of our world has infected each of us, and that the healing of our world not only begins within us but does not end with us.
"I am alone, surrounded by unbelieving activists and inactive believers."

Some people do a great job of refining and expressing the muddy thoughts I’ve had floating around inside my skull. Shane is one of those guys. I’m frustrated by my own inability to connect the real gospel with the real world. As a born and bred evangelical I’m cloned to treat the world as if we can solve all the world’s problems by reading the Four Spiritual Laws.
I’m coming to believe that sharing, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" is a paraphrase of James 2:16 ("Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,"). We are missing a huge part of the Gospel when we fail to combine both the life giving Word and life giving bread (or shelter, clothing, clean water, etc).

I’m not exactly sure where this ends up, but I’m on an exploration of what it means. We are going to be partnering with an elementary school that experiences a 70% poverty rate. We are also working with a clearing house of material needs to the poor of Lansing. It’s not enough, but it is a start.

Last year when I went to New Orleans to work on Katrina relief, I got a taste of what it was like to try to do something, but to feel like it was woefully short of adequate. Using an expression I picked up from Marcia’s side of the family, I said to one of the two homeowners we assisted, "I feel like all we’ve been able to do to help down here is a spit in the ocean." To which they replied with an emotion filled voice, "Thanks for coming to spit in our ocean". I guess I just need to say, I don’t want to get paralyzed by the size of the need. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. And I will - as God leads....

Any thoughts?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I'm Back!

When I started blogging last summer, I promised myself I wouldn't let this happen....long gaps between entries. However, having the family home and other things around the holidays took precedence and so, gaps happen.

It was an amazing time with the grandkids. They are every bit as fun as all those old people used to tell me they would be. But as a bicynicalist, I won't turn maudlin on you. I'm back and back to blogging.

(Can anyone get the obscure connection to the pic?)