Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Truly, the presents are just the icing on the proverbial cake!

The older I get, the more Christmas has taken on a different flavor. Oh, I've always known that Jesus is the "reason for the season." I've always appreciated the separation between the materialism of the holidays and the spiritual implication of those holidays. But when I was younger, I remember the march to December 25 always seemed insufferably slow. I remember it was hard to sleep on Christmas Eve. And I remember, in spite of really, truly rejoicing in the birth of the Savior, that I was thrilled beyond measure to rip into the packages.

Now, Christmas arrives at lighting speed, with barely time to prepare. I tend to sleep in on Christmas day. And if Christmas dinner is ready before it's time to open presents, that's okay...I can wait. To borrow a cliche from movies: "this is bigger than the trappings!"

But, let's face it...the presents are nice. They show that someone thought of me and cared enough to purchase or make a gift. And, yes....presents are fun! I think they are intended to be enjoyed. Once again, I feel like a kid.

Soooo, in the spirit of kid-ness, I want to tell you some of the "stuff" I got for Christmas. And then I want to find out some of the stuff you got.

  • Brand new Bible (if you saw my current one, you'd understand!)
  • Shirts
  • Socks
  • Beard and mustache trimmer
  • Nuts
  • updated Quick Verse (Bible study software)
  • Videos: Spider-Man 3, Fantastic Four 2, Batman Begins, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • Video fun: the Mr. Button video collection. Our kids grew up watching Mr. Button videos. They are as stilted and cheesy as you can get. I casually mentioned them to my wife as a point of nostalgia. Guess what showed up under the tree?
  • Honorable mention: on my Secret Santa profile at the DayCare where I work, I mentioned that I wanted no mugs. I like mugs, but aside from getting at least one nearly every year, our cupboard is crammed full of mugs. So my delightful and resourceful co-workers each decided to get me the tackiest mugs they could find.
  • Commentary

Okay, there's my list. Now you tell me: WHADJA GET?

Monday, December 17, 2007


If you are a child and have attended what we call "Large Group Celebration" at our church, you may be familiar with "Playtime Parables." Playtime Parables are Bible stories or Biblical principles acted out with action figures and other toys. The inspiration for this teaching method came from Mr. Karl Bastian, the Kidologist, who created an ongoing collection of action figure stories called "Tales from the Toybox." They are, in my humble opinion, the cadallac of "object stories."

Well, to make your season bright, Karl is uploading a different Christmas-themed Toybox Tale on each day leading up to Christmas. You can see what all the fun is about by going to http://www.kidologist.com/12-Days-of-ToyBoxTales.


P.S. If you like these and want to see even more Toybox Tales, check out Karl's dedicated website www.toyboxtales.com.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


It's very rare that you can get anything for nothing these days. But ever so often, the internet yields a treasure that is not only fun, but free. Such has been the case with Steve Tanner's 25 Days of Christmas Music. Since 2001, Steve has provided a daily holiday musical selection that spans the boundries of generations, genres, and familiarity. Some are well known, some are obscure, some are rare recordings not heard in decades. It's fun to listen, fun to collect, and (best of all), it's free.
Steve's 25 Days of Christmas Music
Just click on the link above and enjoy the holiday season. And for the two of you who actually read this blog, tell them Teacher Tim sent you!

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Rogue Valley Children's Ministries Network

"It is easier to build a child up than to repair an adult."

That was one of the earlier insights by Kevin Geer, keynote speaker at this year's regional Children's Ministries Conference, sponsored by the Rogue Valley Children's Ministries Network. It was a cool, cloudy morning as our group arrived at the absolutely gorgeous Bethel Church in Medford. This conference is a highlight of the year for our team of KidServants...a time of fellowship, music, workshops, and equipping. In years past, we've had speakers from all over the country come with their encouragement, challenge, and inspriration. Kevin Geer was no exception.

Bethel Church, located high on the hill on the outskirts of Medford

Mr. Geer, who is the Children's Ministries Director for the Northwest Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God, developed the theme of INVEST-INCLUDE-IMAGINE in three general gatherings. In the first session ("INVEST"), Kevin challenged us to invest in children, but also to invest in our families and in ourselves.

The second session ("INCLUDE") took the form of a panel Q & A with other children's ministry leaders fielding submitted questions. The point was to demonstrate the need to network with other ministers.

The third gathering ("IMAGINE") drove home the idea that, in spite of what we imagine ourselves to be, we are ultimately those made in the image of God.

The general gatherings also featured praise music by the Michael Bahn Band. We were also treated to an outstanding puppet presentation by the Faith Puppeteers! The general sessions were punctuated by the workshops, which presented a variety of topics along different tracks. I managed to pick up some books at the vendor's tables (budget prevented me from buying more, but oooooboy!)

Faith Puppeteers rock out to the B-I-B-L-E

There are dozens of outstanding conferences during the year. As the Lord provides funds, I like to attend the CPC in San Diego. There are other opportunities to learn, fellowship, and network on a huge scale (Kid U, Northwest C.E. Conference, Saddleback, etc.). But I would encourage anyone and everyone to check their local children's ministry associations and networks for smaller, regional conferences which provide a great opportunity to build yourself up with men and women who are in your neighborhood and with whom you can have coffee without having to drive hundreds of miles. It is a blessing and a half (as a friend of mine is fond of saying).

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Some people love it. Some people hate it.

But my town has one.

I'm talking about the Wal-Mart Super Center. They opened the doors on Wednesday, September 19 (giving us a third reason to get excited, right behind the Kidologist's Birthday and National Talk Like a Pirate Day). Excitment and anticipation has been running high for the last three plus years. We've watched the construction from the highway go from agonizingly slow to "hey...they're done!" On Wednesday morning, a plane with a banner heralding the opening circled overhead. According to the news, there was a band, city and regional dignataries, and a bunch of people.

My wife and I ventured out to visit the place during lunch. It is quite impressive. For us (and for many folks in our region), the biggest draw of the new Wal-Mart is not having to drive a ways (no, it's not a long distance, but it adds up after awhile). Since it's a Super Center, we can get groceries, get the car fixed, and fill our prescriptions all by driving less than two miles! And given the fact that our city is one of the fastest growing communities in Oregon, it's nice to have some major businesses take root.

Side note: when we visited Wal-Mart, there were several "characters" there (like the Pillsberry Dough Boy and a giant Oreo cookie). There were also a lot of high school kids who were struttting around in the typical "I'm cool, I'm bad" posture. But when they saw the giant cookie, their eyes lit up. They waved, high-fived, and hugged the character. It was funny to watch, but it reminded me that there is a spark of child-likeness in everyone...a spark that is fascinated by that which is wondrous and fantastic. And if the big bad uber-cool teens respond to that, then our kids certainly can. What an opportunity!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Ahhhh, September. Children starting their march back to school. The Denver Broncos starting their march to the Super Bowl (hey...just you wait!). At our church DayCare where I work, it seems every child and their cousin has arrived just in time for the start of Preschool.

And then, there's CELEBRATION ROUNDUP.

Part pep rally, part family reunion, Roundup is the time of year when we kick off the new year, welcome all our kids back to our Sunday morning program (known as "Sunday Morning Celebration"), and just get the season started off with a bang. It's a lot of fun and this year was no exception. In fact, the buzz around the halls is that this is one of the best Roundups of all.

We brought out the inflatable jump house. We played some neat games. By "coincidence" (said with a nod and a wink because we all know that there is no such thing), a merchant in our region had a freezer full of ice cream bars that were nearing expiration. "It just so happened" that a man in our church, who works nearby, offered to take the bars and (can you imagine) offered them for our special treat on Roundup Sunday. I mean, who could have planned that? (I know Who!)

And, of course, the gospel was shared and the Word of God had free course. Were the kids a little loud and rowdy? OH yes. Were there problems? A few ice cream drips on the carpet and the dislodging of the jump house air feed which caused the jump house to deflate on some surprised jumpers. But we sang and played and laughed and yelled.

And the kids had fun too.
The Jump House

Catchin' air

Singing songs

Balloons in your pantaloons! (how many inflated balloons can you stuff in oversized joggers?)

A little song, a little dance, a little puppet on the stage (I know, it doesn't rhyme).

Sunday, September 02, 2007


The names "Charles Allen Bancroft" or "Rachel Renee' Currier" probably don't ring a bell with a lot of people. But together, they have been part of an answer to a question that has bothered me for over a decade:

"How does someone with an untrained singing voice succesfully lead praise and worship singing for a mixed age assembly of 5th grade and below with no awesome praise and worship band or instrumentalist?"
Enter Mr. Bancroft and Mrs. Currier. You may know them by their professional names: "Uncle Charlie and Rachel Sanchez." Uncle Charlie produces DVD videos with upbeat music, great graphics, and extreme singability. And their series of DVD's, along with other DVD series, have been a tremendous blessing in our ministry.

See, if you are blessed with a plethora of musical talent in your children's department, God bless you. For the rest of us, technology is available. And not just from Uncle Charlie. Group Publishing, God's Kids' Worship, Ronnie Caldwell....they all have DVD music available (there's probably more, but those are some that we use).

So if you are lacking in the musical graces, but you want a high energy musical program for your kids, I highly recommend DVD's to fill the proverbial gap. Of course, there are some important things to keep in mind...this is what we have learned (or are currently trying to learn):

1. Know the song lyrics. Looking at the kids while you're trying to lead them is important...but it is difficult when you have to turn and look at the screen. If you already know the songs, you don't have to do that.

2. Check your equipment often. Know its glitches and quirks and be ready for anything (e.g. do you have extra batteries for your remotes?)

3. If you can't carry a tune, at least lip synch. It's hard to motivate kids to sing if your own lips aren't moving.

4. If you have a group doing motions, practice first.

5. Don't block the screen.

6. If you can, plan your songs to flow from one song to another with a minimum of "changing time." Getting someone to quickly change DVD's while you're sharing a prayer or quick spiritual thought is great (God's Kids Worship actually has worship orders in which a handful of songs play one after another).

7. Don't be afraid to cut loose (within the limits of the song's mood of course). A little air guitar goes a long way.

8. Worship Jesus and have tons of fun!

If you use DVD's in your kids worship, let us know what you use and how you use it. After all these years, I'm still a student in this area. God bless you as you do His work!

And thanks Uncle Charlie and Rachel Sanchez!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Many of you have asked me what has been going on in my life and ministry since an earlier post indicated that my church was making some changes that might entail me having to leave children's ministries. First of all, I want to thank all of you who have prayed and expressed their concern. God's grace is truly awesome and amazing in the midst of some rather bewildering times.

Second, please understand that there are some things I do not want to share in an open forum such as this. I often joke with people that I have a lot of opinions and most of them are right! In the situation in which I currently find myself, I have some very strong opinions. I have had the liberty and grace to share some of those thoughts with the elder board. There is more to share and more to do to clarify this situation with our leadership, but I will have to wait for the right opportunity to do so. The very last thing I want to do is create a wrong impression about the church I attend or its leadership. We have an exciting body of believers that is poised to reach the ever-expanding population of our city. We have a group of men in leadership that I love and respect. One day, somebody reading this blog may visit our fair city and I'd love for them to visit our church without being put off by any criticism on my part.

"Okay, Teacher Tim," some of you are shouting at your pc's (or for a very small percentage of you, your macs), "Can you at least tell us if you're still in children's ministry?" The answer is, Yes. As it stands at this moment, I am still doing what I have consistently done for the last 12 years: personally lead the Sunday morning programs for our children. Soooo, instead of overseeing our five children's ministries, I am only overseeing one. And for the curious among you, this is not a punishment. I haven't done anything wrong. The church is in an ongoing development process to better minister to our ever changing community. One of the structural changes just happens to be in our Christian Education department.

The downside to this is not being able to find ways to tie all our children's programs together. While I have not been personally involved or directly leading each and every program, I've enjoyed providing support, encouragement, and training for all of them. All of those duties have been switched over to our Christian Education Elder of Children and Youth (who is also one of our KidServants on Sunday mornings and does an incredible job!).

The upside? Well, as the poker players among you would say, "I'm going all in!" I've always loved stepping outside the boundaries of "children's work as usual." My friends and colleagues over the years have opened my eyes to the wide world of children's ministries that doesn't rely on flannelgraphs and stale cookies. Now that I am down to one mission (Sunday mornings), I'm ready and eager to lay it all on the line for the glory of God and to the mission of "building His Kingdom and reaching His kids" (ahhh, CPC...providing themes that keep on giving!).

Things could change. I could get my old set of responsibilities back. Or the flannelgraph/stale cookie brigade could want their room back. In the meantime, I will "bloom where I'm planted."

Thank you once again for your continued prayers and encouragment. As the situation warrents, I will update you on what's happening on Sunday mornings.

Monday, August 06, 2007


I admit...I'm really a big kid at heart! The neat thing about being a big kid is that I also have a wife that puts up with a lot...and even, on occaisions, allows me to indulge in something for no other reason than the pure joy of re-living the excitement and joy of one's childhood.

First...a little history: a long, long time ago, there was a humble, 12" soldier figure known as GI Joe. With his authentic military gear, spindly, jointed limbs, and painted hair and scar, GI Joe soared in popularity. Unfortunately, politics affected marketing (something that rarely happens today..not!) and the outcry over the war in Vietnam forced Hasbro to give GI Joe a makeover.

Enter..the GI Joe Adventure Team: "five rugged men with lifelike hair. They're outfitted for action...and they take their orders from this man: the Adventure Team Commander (voice of Commander: "I've got a tough assignment for you.")." No, I did not look up that spiel: I remembered it after all these years! The Adventure Team was less military and more into solving mysteries and helping people. There was a Sea Adventurer, Land Adventurer, Air Adventurer, and Adventurer. And, of course, the Adventure Team Commander, who talked and was one of my most treasured Christmas presents! I also worked my proverbial tail off at a summer job in order to buy the Sea Adventurer--the last one in the store! But I never got the rest of the team (that honor was reserved for my friend Billy, who was content to bring his guys to join my guys to form one team until he managed to get all five figures himself but I'm not bitter, really!). My Sea Adventurer was lost somewhere on a mission. I performed a voice box-ectemy on the Commander because I wanted to try his underwater scuba set on him. Unfortunately, I never could get the thing to work after that. And like most of the toys from my youth, the Commander vanished.

I moved on. I actually began a real collecting hobby in college with the 3 /4 inch GI Joes. I developed a fairly large collection before the sheer economics forced me to give it up. But I always had a fond spot for the Adventure Team.

Fast foward to a short time ago. I was in our local Wal-Mart with my wife looking for supplies. I told her I was going to the toy section to see if there were any bargain action figures for my "Playtime Parables" (a low-tech teaching techique inspired by the Kidologist's "Toybox Tales."). That's when I spotted them. I blinked...I could not believe what I was seeing. Four of the GI Joe Adventure Team...in the narrow, cardboard boxes! Apparently, they were a limited re-issue or something. And they were incredibly affordable. I held off the urge to jump up and down in front of my wife and say, "Oh, please, oh please....can I, huh? can I, huh? PUHLEEEESE...I'll clean my room, I'll feed the dog." I have more dignity than that. But my wife, ever perceptive to the historical value of my interest (and no doubt fearful that I really would cause the above described scene), told me to go ahead and get them.
So all I need now is the Adventure Team Commander. And the three or four guys that joined afterwards. But since I don't know how long the re-issue will last, this might be it. But that's okay. After decades, I have the Adventure Team.

Thank you, sweetheart!


Summertime has been here...well, all summer! Unfortunately, various matters have cut into our family camp time. But not long ago, an opportunity arose to go camping. I even got to leave the office a whole half hour early to head up highway 62, past the little town of Prospect, and over to Union Creek Campground.

Union Creek is one of the larger campgrounds in a network of camping locations in the Rogue River National Forest. Unfortunately, because the campground was so full, we had to settle for a spot well away from the creek! But it was enjoyable regardless...family, good food, relaxation, and no phones, tvs, or radios to interrupt some serious study!

If Union Creek sounds familiar, it's because I blogged about an earlier visit in March. Actually, we never made it to the campground itself because of the snow. Not this time...sunny and hot!

Lord willing, we'll try to get another camping trip or two in before September.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Yup...it was a wild ride!

We had 115 children in our 2007 Vacation Bible School this year. Our theme was Group's Avalanche Ranch and our KidServants went all out to have one of the rootinest, tootinest VBS's in recent memory. It's all actually a testimony to God's grace, as some of our (my) organizational abilities fell apart, issues and challenges struck, and last minute technical glitches erupted. But now, a week later, I'm still amazed at the skills of our leaders, the touching one-on-one ministry opportunities we've had with some hurting and sometimes angry kids, and most of all in the grace of a God who can take our feeble and sometimes stumbling efforts and turn them into something beautiful and exciting.

These are only a few of the pictures from the week of July 9th. For all of you who did Avalanche Ranch (I've seen a lot of your blogs and YouTube posts!) or for all my fellow servants who are the middle of whatever summer programming, I rejoice with you!

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Yes, you've come to the right place. After some deliberation, I have decided to drop the somewhat difficult to say "Kablooey, Kabaam, and KidServants" (which doesn't tell you a whole lot except that I like alliteration and onomatopoeia). I kept the "KidServants" designation and added that it's the "musings of Teacher Tim." All our DayCare staff are called "Teacher (name)." It just stuck with me to the point that Sunday morning kids use it, and several kids who are or were involved in our children's ministry see me on the street and call out "Teacher Tim!" I accept it as a badge of honor, particularly when I consider that I get to teach the greatest Truth of all.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Okay...let's start with the assumption that I'm not crazy. I am missing a song and I hope regular readers of this blog can help me find it!

The year was 1992. I had just moved from my last church in Colorado to an unknown situation in Oregon and I was still feeling the pangs of separation, home sickness, and "okay, Lord, now what do you want me to do with my life now?" feelings. I enrolled in a certificate program at a voc-ed college in the area. At the time, we were living with my in-laws, who had a fairly good sized house in the mountains. It was great...but I had to leave for school before the sun came up, often in the famous southern Oregon fog and mist.

My "companion" on my drive was the local Christian radio station. I could get the news, sports, weather, witty commentary, and music all on one station. And roughly the same time every morning, the station played the song. And that is why it is so etched in my memory. Why I can't remember who it's by is beyond me. But it was a real song and it always touched me no matter how many mornings I heard it!

Periodically, throughout the years, I have tried to find this song. But in spite of the awesome power of the internet to find the most obscure information available, I could not uncover a single clue. I tried the radio station and they don't have a clue. I tried some of the contemporary Christian networks. Zilch. Nada. Nuttin! Goose egg! It's as if the song never existed. But I know it did! And I need your help to find it.

The kids at the DayCare where I work love to get "Teacher Tim Points." So here's what I'm going to do: the first person to find this song will get 1,000 Teacher Tim Points. That's right...1000 genuine Teacher Tim Points just for finding this song and (in the process) confirming my sanity.

Here's the few lines I know of this song. It is a very haunting, gentle melody, sung by, I assume, is a female artist:
"I am waiting for the day..."
"I am searching for the time"
"Meet me by the eastern gate" (?)
In the background, a chorus is softly sampling "Nothing but the Blood of Jesus" and I think "Amazing Grace."

Aside from hearing me hum a few bars (trust me, you don't want me to do that), you now have as much information as I do. And thank you.

Friday, June 22, 2007

INTERESTING (a request for prayer)

Well....this is interesting.

Church politics and structures are a funny thing. I used to be a senior pastor, so I know how the murky waters of decision making tend to get slime on everyone and everything. I've seen colleagues in children's ministries get forced out of their positions on little more than the mechanisms of a new by-law. I've always been stunned and, at times, moved to tears by the unexpected move of a brother or sister from their ministry because of personalities and power.


Something's going on in my neck of the woods. It seems, interestingly enough, that the leadership wants to consolidate their structure. Okay...cut out the middle man, trim the bureaucracy, hurray small government! I used to be a senior pastor...I've had to endure three hour congregational debates on the color of the new wallpaper. Hey...give the leaders the ability to make some decisions. Amen and amen.

It's just that....well.....

It seems the authority, duties, and responsibilities of my office ("Children's Ministries Director") have been transferred to the elder over me. Interesting. I'm not sure exactly what to do at this point. I keep reminding myself that the ministry ultimately belongs to the Lord, but I am baffled as to why this decision was made. And maybe I'm wrong. I want to give this group of men the benefit of the doubt. God has placed them in authority over me and I do not want to sin against that authority. I'm in the process of meeting with them and writing them and trying to figure out this most interesting turn of events.

In the meantime, pray for me. If I'm wrong, or if the situation changes, I'll rapidly update my blog and set the record straight for all to see. Right now, it will be interesting to see what happens.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Yesterday, I shared the top ten people who have had the most influence, impact, or contribution to my life and ministry. It was a very personal list, a very subjective list. Most of you who read the list probably have no idea who any of these individuals are. That's okay...the Lord knows who they are.

Today I want to share another subjective list, this time of men who are no doubt household names or at least well regarded in their sphere of infuence. It's not an exhaustive list, nor is it intended to reveal my theological biases. The fact of the matter is, there are some speakers, teachers, and broadcasters I enjoy even though I probably disagree with half of their emphases.

The same disclaimers I shared yesterday apply here. These are men whose teachings, ministry, scholarship, and lives have touched mine. Some of them I have personally met. One other thing: I have deliberately not included links to their ministries. Any decent search engine can provide you with that information.

Ten Nationally Known Influencers
1. John MacArthur--with no flash, no gimmicks, John MacArthur holds the attention of Grace Community Church and the radio listeners with in-depth expository teaching. Not only have I personally been fed, but I have learned how to dig into a text and present it.
2. Chuck Smith--Chuck Smith is the father of the Calvary Chapel movement, but the heartbeat of his ministry remains the simple, clear teaching of the Scripture.
3. Jerry Falwell--love him or hate him, Dr. Falwell took a stand for a lot of issues that others did not. But through it all, Jerry Falwell was a pastor who faithfully shepherded the flock when it was a small group in the 50's to it's mega-church, mega-ministry status today. Reading his account of how he started each day visiting homes is still an inspiration.
4. Tim LaHaye--Dr. LaHaye is another giant of a pastor. He was one of the founders of my alma mater and I had the privilege of being in one of his psychology classes. At church, he unveiled the dangers of humanist philosophy in a series that shortly became a book called The Battle for the Mind. One of the last series he gave at the church we attended was on the subject of prophecy. It's no wonder the Left Behind novels sound so familiar--it's in my notes from Sunday evening services!
5. David Jeremiah--Dr. Jeremiah was the keynote speaker at our college Bible conference. Less than two years later, he was brought on as the senior pastor of the church (replacing Dr. LaHaye). As I watch the Turning Point program today, I can't help but think, "I got to be there for the beginning!" Dr. Jeremiah is another master communicator of the Word, with alliterative skills that rival the best poets. But my best memory of David Jeremiah was when my (then) fiance and I were sitting on the steps outside the college chapel reading Psalms together. A shadow fell on us and we squinted up. David Jeremiah had a smile on his face and he said, "That sure is a good Book, isn't it?" Yup...it is...and I could tell that he really believed that too!
6. John Ankerberg--I've always been blessed by how John Ankerberg can systematically, step-by-step, weave an argument in defense of the Christian faith. Whether he is presenting a message or interviewing a cult leader, he gets to the heart of the matter in a way that leaves everybody nodding in agreement at how logically he's presented the facts.
7. Karl Bastian--my first impression of Karl was, "he's so young!" But don't let the age fool you. The reason the "Kidologist" (as he is known) is one of the premiere authorities on the subject of children's ministry is not only because he knows and practices his "stuff," but he has a kid mentality. I mean, who would have thunk that the theological paradigm of "incarnational ministry" could apply to the under-12 crowd? I've incorporated several elements I have learned over the years in my own ministry (plus I bought my very first Palm Pilot based on a stirring article written by Karl. )
8. Craig Jutilla--I had never heard of Craig Jutilla prior to a regional children's ministry conference I attended. I was just about at the bottom of my own ministry. I had almost made up my mind to resign from children's minsitry after I got home. Two things hit me that morning. One was a song by Mr. J entitled "I Am Child." The other was Craig Jutilla. Although I intellectually knew there was more to children's ministries than my little corner of it, Craig's workshops expanded my heart, my imagination, and my vision for children's ministries. Craig returned to our region once again a few years later and I've had the thrill of twice touring the children's facility at his former church as part of the INCM CPC (one year, the tour was facilitated by the above mentioned Karl Bastian).
9. Walter Martin--when my pastor gave me a copy of Kingdom of the Cults, I learned that, not only were there groups out there that were dangerous to the faith, but that there were reasonable, logical answers to those groups. Through the years, I've read books, listened to tapes, and thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Martin's Bible Answer Man broadcast.
10. Josh McDowell--one of my favorite set of classes in college was Apologetics, and one of my favorite writers on the subject was Josh McDowell. He's written and spoken on many other issues, but there are probably dozens of modern "defenders of the faith" who were first influenced by Evidence that Demands a Verdict.

Monday, June 11, 2007


"The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers...." (1 Corinthians 3:8-9a).

Ever so often, somebody will ask me, "Who has been the most influential minister in your life?" I have a difficult time with that question, because the answer for me is, "whoever I happen to come into contact with at any given moment." I glean, yea, siphon things from every ministerial leader with whom I come into contact. I learn different things from different teachers. From some, I draw insight into content of a Biblical passage. From others, I learn by watching how they conduct their ministries. And from others, I draw validation that maybe I'm not such an oddball after all! Some have stuck in my heart from my days as a senior pastor. Others have encouraged me as a children's minister. And others have fired my passion for pure study and research. So narrowing down such a company is a daunting task.

But having said that, I made a list of pastors, teachers, and leaders who have probably had a bigger impact on my life than most. What is my criteria? Uhhhh, well, it's pretty subjective. I'm sure there are men on the list that, during some other month, would have been included. Did they give me a direction in my life and ministry? Did they influence my personal philosophy of ministry? Did they intervene at a time when I had a deep need? Do I like their style? It's my humble opinon the whole way.

Today's post will feature men (and one woman) I know personally. These have had more of a direct influence on my life. The next post will feature some prominent, nationally known individuals whose books and broadcasts have helped me (and even then, there is overlap in that I have met and interacted with some of them).

Okay, enough disclaimers....on with the list.....

TEN WHO PERSONALLY INFLUENCED MY LIFE AND MINISTRY (in absolutely no particular order)

1. Phil MacIntosh--As the pastor of my home church in Colorado, Phil took a special interest in teens. He became a mentor and helped me understand what I felt was God's calling to the ministry. He gave up part of his vacation to drive me to San Diego for my freshman year of college. Discipleship ministries often refer to "Paul and Timothy" relationships. I think that sums it up.
2. Walter Flescher--the pastor who baptized me. He was an older preacher who came out of retirement to lead our home church B.P. (before Phil). Quiet dignity, strength, and humor that came from experience. I was stunned when he very nearly called down God's wrath on the school district for teaching sex education in the schools.
3. Jackie Wann--my first Sunday School teacher. Wow...it wasn't until I was an adult that I could appreciate Jackie's volunteer spirit. She studiously prepared each lesson, drove the church bus, and even led the youth group. I never once heard her complain. As I got older, she even gave me a taste of children's ministry by letting me teach a third grade group at Vacation Bible School.
4. Wally Lundquist--the Honorable Wallace Lundquist was an attorney and later a judge, but to the kids, teens, and adults at church, he was Wally. A giant of a man, with a deep baritone voice, Wally could make the Scriptures come to life as he taught. But he also freely gave of himself to whoever had need.
5. Richard Niessen--it was tough picking a college instructor from my days at Christian Heritage College (now known as San Diego Christian College) because all of them exerted a great influence in one way or another. But Mr. Neissen was the apologetics and Bible instructor, whose deadpan delivery and in-depth knowledge captivated me early in my college career and fired up a love for Christian evidences.
6. Don Brown--he was my best friend's dad, but also a gifted lay minister. His wit, wisdom, and recollections can be enjoyed on his devotional site Parson Don's Garden.
7. Glenn Solum--this amazing man of God probably shook hands or had acquaintence with so many "big names" in Christianity, yet he himself was not well known. Glenn worked with Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, and brought his discipleship skills to his ministry. He was the pastor of the "Family Bible Church of Orange County" (no longer in existence), my girlfriend's home church. Glenn encouraged me, gave me preaching opportunities, and recommended me for ordination.
8. Rick Lunsford--I didn't know Rick very long, but the brief time our paths intersected was incredible. Combining a deep passion for the Lord with an incredible enthusiasm and energy, Rick served as the assistant pastor of Family Bible (under Glenn Solum) before the Lord led him to Idaho to plant "Family Bible Church of Idaho Falls." Rick was on my ordination council and subjected me to some pretty intense "grilling." :-) Nowadays, Rick is involved in Gratefully Grafted ministries, a Jewish-Gentile reconciliation group.
9. Warren Cuppy--after Rick Lunsford left for Idaho, the church brought on Warren as assistant pastor. Warren wasn't in that position long, as Glenn Solum had started suffering the effects of a brain tumor. Warren and I spent a lot of time together, sharpening each other's theological skills and encouraging one another . "Cup" eventually became the pastor of Family Bible in Orange County and then later moved on to a church in Idaho.
10. Dick Bull--my current pastor. If you were to look in a dictionary for the word "pastor", I wouldn't be surprised to see his picture. Pastors love the church as a rule, but Pastor Dick loves the people in the church. His continuous encouragement has been a personal blessing through my time at EPCBC.

Monday, June 04, 2007


One of the highlights of the local school year (and of our family) is the annual High School Dinner Theatre. This is one the big events for the high school choir. My oldest daughter participated when she was in high school, and now my youngest daughter is carrying on the tradition.
This year's program was Broadway Today. My daughter assured me that these were "cleaned up" , family acceptable songs (good thing, as some of the content of some of these broadway hits was a little controversial to say the least.)
The evening started, as usual, with a dinner of baked chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, green beans and a beverage. It's really quite good (although the plastic utensils throw off the ambience a bit). The meal is served by the choir members in full costume. Part of their grade is based on their outfit. Another part is based on the centepiece and placemats they design for the tables. The amount and quality of most of the outfits and decorations is impressive.
Elphaba, aka, the Wicked Witch of the West, with absolutely no resemblance to my precious little girl.

The program featured selections from Chicago, Momma Mia, Rent, and Wicked. I was somewhat familiar with the songs from Chicago, as many of them have entered pop culture thanks to the big budget motion picture (e.g. "All That Jazz"). Ditto with Rent. I had never heard of Momma Mia, but I discovered to my delight that the music was actually from ABBA...one of the defining pop groups of the 70's (yes, I've been humming "Take a Chance on Me" ever since...ahhhh, the memories!).

I had heard a lot about Wicked (the untold story of the witches of Oz), but beyond the plot lines, I was not familiar with the music. I was very impressed (especially with the choir's rendition of "Defying Gravity, which blended into a swelling, goose bump inducing finale.) Rumor has it that Disney will be producing Wicked as a movie. I'm interested enough to see it (although I'm not a big fan of musicals).

Hats off to the high school students and especially to their teacher, Mrs. Steinhorst. This woman (who also directs a church choir in our region) has a unique gift of drawing every particle of talent out of her students (much like a commercial juicer takes juice out of every piece of apple). And to see kids who used to pass through our children's ministries was an added bonus.
Three cheers for Dinner Theatre!

Friday, May 18, 2007


Today's leg of our 25th anniversary trip took us away from Lake Tahoe (after a week) and through a place my wife has not been since she was a little girl: Yosemite National Park. It is indeed an awe inspiring place, with plenty of sights and a variety of topography: from thick, lush forests to bare towering rock formations.
Unfortunately, the pay station on the east end of the park (where we entered) was closed. Sooooo..we had no map to guide us to the more spectacular sights. We could have stopped at more trail heads and rest stops to explore, but we really needed the map.
We did manage to see some neat things, including a couple of things we thought we had missed. But because of some awkwardness with my camera and the difficulty of parking at the more spectator friendly sights, I didn't get all the pics I had hoped for.
Disappointed? A little. But as I have explained many times before, it's the journey and the one I get to spend it with that's fun. As my wife and I had dinner tonight after checking in at our new "digs" for the night, I commented that it has been so much fun not having to be somewhere, not having to set something up, not having to be concerned about who's ready for what, etc. Reality will set in soon, but for now...we're seeing silver!
Before arriving at Yosemite, we stopped to overlook the Mono Lake Basin. Park of Mono Lake was used in the early 60's as a weapons testing ground.Ellery Lake, elevation over 9500, one of many lakes in Yosemite Most of it is still frozen from
the winter weather.Another lake. Notice the picnic tables in the water. We passed a visitor who joked with us and said, "Why didn't you have your picnic out there?" I replied that my Boss knew how to walk on water, but I never learned how (the visitor didn't reply...he just walked away).The lines in the rocks are called glaciel erratics. Lines and freestanding boulders sit on a gently sloped rock table, the end result of fairly recent glaciation. And in the middle of the pic, the tiny point is "half dome", a rock formation popular with hikers and climbers.
Earlier I mentioned how much fuller our trip would have been with an accurate map. It got me thinking about this other journey all of us are on and our efforts to make sense of life. A lot of us stumble through life without a map. Oh we may hit upon a "truth" now and again, but nothing really lasts us. What we need is the instructions in God's Word to guide us and direct us.

And the journey continues....

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I grew up watching the television series Bonanza. I was really too young to remember Adam, but my parents assured me he had been there and left. That left Ben, Hoss, and Little Joe (and Candy and assorted other characters). I enjoyed the show, but it wasn't until I several years ago when I discovered the treasures of the internet that I learned that the program was set in Lake Tahoe.

Fast forward many years. My wife and I are planning to stay in Lake Tahoe for part of our 25th anniversary trip. I enjoy tv and pop culture trivia. Hey...let's check out where Bonanza was! Great idea! I popped online and tried to triangulate our position. However....

1. Most of the outside shots were done on sound stages or on locations waaayyyy far away from Lake Tahoe.

2. The famous opening sequence was filmed in at least two different locations. Some of the land is now private property. Given enough time and patience, I could possibly compare photographs and get an approximate location. But that is a project I may have to wait on (although it isn't that far from here...we'll see!)

3. The famous Ponderosa Ranch was a popular tourist attraction around these parts. Sadly, it was closed down in 2004 and no longer exists.

Sooooo...what to do? Simple...we went where Ben and the boys would visit Sheriff Coffee and get supplies: Viriginia City. Virginia City is the location of the famous Comstock lode, which created a (get ready) bonanza of wealth for the region. It is also famous in real life as one of the homes of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain. It's a town full of history, from the board sidewalks to the uneven stone buildings (many of them rebuilt after a devestating fire in the late 1875 wiped out 80% of the town). It's a short drive from Carson City (the state capital), unless you go the wrong way (thanks to a navigational error on my part). The looonnggg way is full of very tall, very sheer mountain driving--not our favorite---and seems to go on forever. The short way is actually not too bad at all.

We were too late for the train tour, but we did get in on the trolley tour, where we learned all sorts of historic trivia about the city and its inhabitants. It was a pleasant place, but the walking takes a little attention, with steep hills and very uneven wood sidewalks. Traffic along the street is also tight, with cars, pedestrians, the aforementioned trolley, and tour busses vying for room on the road. If you come early enough, you can purchase a pass for the train, trolly, and several of the museums. Here's a few random pics:
On the Virginia City Trolley, ready for departure

Historic school building...the Fourth Ward School Cultural Center

Presbyterian Church...only one of the few buildings to survive the great fire of 1875

Catholic Church. According to the tour guide, this church was a mega-church in the 1800's, with 4000 members! Incredible.

And the adventure continues....

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Before I share our further adventures, I want to let everyone know that today, May 15, is THE DAY. Today marks our actual, official 25th wedding anniversary. You would never know it from the way she handles parents, staff, and children, but my wife is quite shy. So as I began this series of posts, I assured her that I would not get too personal. But if I could resort to a cliche, it seems like only yesterday that we met. It was in college...she was a freshman, I was a sophomore. We met and soon became inseperable. We even did children's ministry together--a Christian service project called "Backyard Bible Club."

I could go into details about our engagement and wedding. Our pastor had actually done the wedding of Brenda's parents (and in an interesting twist, I was pastoring my first church in Colorado when Brenda's parents came for a visit and asked me to "officiate" the renewal of their vows for their 25th anniversary). Wow...just thinking about everything that has transpired...it's like scenes are fast-forwarding in my memory.

But as I sat next to my wife today during our latest adventure, I thought about how fortunate, how blessed I have been for the last 25 years. I know...from Jackie Gleason on down, most men say their wives are the greatest. Well, mine really is.

When we decided to spend some time at Lake Tahoe, I went online to find out things to do in the area. And lo, and behold, we found the "Lake Tahoe Cruises."

The Tahoe Queen, an authentic paddleboat.

The two and quarter hour tour took us across the lake (Lake Tahoe, by the way, is HUGE) and over to Emerald Bay. The Tahoe Queen, has three decks (including a dining deck) and incredible, unhindered views of the Lake. We stayed on the third (top) deck and took in the view.

Looking forward to Emerald Cove

Looking back at the big paddle wheels (they also slice and dice and make julian fries!)

The Bridge

The shore from where we departedSing it with me: "What do you do with a great view of the Marina?" (sorry....a rather feeble attempt to parody a Sound of Music tune. Must have gotten too much sun!)

Above pics: sites and scenes

The cruise was very relaxing and interesting...at least what we could hear from the captain, due to a speaker that tended to fade out. Emerald Bay has a history of its own with a hand made building on the shore called Vikingsholm Castle. A little granite island in the bay features what looks like a castle turrett. And from our vantage point, we could look up and see the high, narrow highway that brought us to town!

So our Silver Anniversary vacation continues. Signing off from beautiful South Lake Tahoe...

Monday, May 14, 2007


Today, my wife and I did a little exploring of South Lake Tahoe. After a nice breakfast, we drove around, checked out a visitor's center, did a little shopping, and made our way over to a complex known as "Heavenly Village." It's a combination of upscale, open air mall and time share condos. While there, we watched Spider-Man 3. If you haven't seen it, it's worth the look. It's a little intense for youngin's, but it also contains a lot of themes that line up with Biblical values. It's hard to describe the values without giving away the plot, so maybe we'll re-visit this particular movie another time.

On the way out, I saw two celebrities just hanging out

Jake and Elwood Blues themselves! About the only thing I have in common with the famous Blues Brothers is that I'd like to think that I too am on a mission for God. (only I don't say it with the midwest accent).

It's time once again to sign off. But before I do, here's a couple of quick pics from just outside our door.

Our home away from home for most of this week.

Gorgeous mountain on the horizon. Don't know what it's called, but I'll find out and let you know.


Ahhh...to boldly explore a harsh alien landscape! Could this be the planet where our alien visitors from a previous post come from? Wow...I could have the makings of a novel here. But in reality, the picture above is from a place that has the potential to be more dangerous to life here on planet earth...or at least a portion of it in this region. I'll explain in a moment...

My wife and I are continuing our 25th wedding anniversary vacation (that's silver, for those of you who keep track). I mentioned in my last post that we ate at an incredible place called Black Bear in Susanville, California. It is rare that I am surprised at a resteraunt visit, but this place made me go "wow." The staff was friendly and personable and seemed to make an extra effort to insure the food was exactly how you liked it. The food arrived quickly (under 20 minutes in a rather full place). It is served on a platter (not a plate). A big platter! And nearly every square inch is covered with food. The bacon cheeseburger I had was incredible: thick and juicy and delicious. And for my colleagues at the DC, I want you to know that I had bisquits and gravy on Sunday morning before we left! And there was so much, I couldn't even finish it all. I guess one of the biggest surprises was to discover that there is a Black Bear branch in my proverbial "neck of the woods." When I get back, I will have to look it up.

The Bear bids us a fond goodbye from Susanville

Before heading to our ultimate destination of South Lake Tahoe, we decided to visit Lassen Peak, home of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Our previous post mentioned seeing Lassen Peak from afar and that it had erupted in 1915. Well, in 1916, it was made a national park because of its significance as an active volcanic landscape. According to the documentation, all four types of volcanoes in the world plus active hyrothermal areas are found in the park. And, what I found most interesting, "Lassen Peak is one of the largest plug dome volcanoes in the world (is? as in present tense?). It is considered to be active today." (today? uhhh..how about tomorrow?)

So yes, ladies and gentlemen, we took part of our silver anniversary and decided to get up close and personal with an active volcano! Is that cool or what?

To reach this sign involved a relatively steep drive up the highway and another steep drive up the access road. It's a gorgeous view, but a looonnnggg way down.

After getting our permit from the ranger post up the road, we proceeded along the highway. Our first stop was "Sulfer Springs", which is a study in contrasts. At the parking area, there is this:

Snow drifts bigger than me (there was more snow higher up even deeper!)

But there are also active sulfer pits a few yards away...pits that belch out hot plumes of gas. Yes, the picture we started with above is one of those pits. What you can't experience from the picture is the size (probably about a yard wide), the smell (rotten eggs), and the sound...a deep bubbling, churning, sloshing sound from deep within.

The drive up the mountain is steep and the snow from last season is piled high along the sides. But there are some great views along the way:

We saw several bent and broken pine trees, victims of the huge amounts of snowOur God is an awesome God

Because of the heavy snow, we were stopped at another parking area and had to turn around. Up ahead was an area called "Bumpass Hell", named after a settler who lost his leg in one of the sulfer pits. But access would prove problematic:

Whaddya mean the trail is closed? I don't care if there is enough snow to swallow an RV, I want to hike!

So with that adventure over, we headed back down the hill and to our ultimate destination of South Lake Tahoe. And except for some rather challenging stretches (there is a narrow ridge at one point that is a sheer drop off on either side...fun stuff!), we had a good trip.

It's great to get away, but it's even better to get away with the one you love!

To learn more about Lassen Peak, they have a website: www.nps.gov/lavo