Thursday, December 25, 2008


Another Christmas Day has come and gone. The remnants of brightly colored wrapping paper dot the floor after missing their intended trash bag target. The good byes to relatives have been said. And the soft, quiet glow of the Christmas tree, now void of the packages that once fortified its base, silently remembers every squeal of delight and gasp of joyous amazement that was expressed .

As adults, we get very sophisticated in our attitude toward gifts. I no longer get up at 5:00 a.m. to beg my parents to open presents. Christmas Day means I can sleep in a little longer! And we maybe more clearly appreciate the fact that it's the thought that counts, that the only real gift is Jesus, and that the spirit of Christmas extends beyond December 25. I can honestly say that if I didn't get any presents on Christmas morning, it would not change my feelings one iota!

So with my priorities and attitudes firmly in place, I have to say that the kid in me loves to tear the wrapping off a package and see what's there! I like presents...I like presents at Christmas time...I like getting excited about my gifts and I like seeing my family and friends get excited about their gifts. It's fun (and sometimes emotional and moving).

So every year, we take a moment to pretend we're kids again and ask "Whadja get?" And since you asked, here's my list (not everything is on there):
  • Two Biblical commentaries
  • Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren
  • The Darwin Awards by Wendy Northcutt
  • A dictionary of Hawaiin slang (from my sister-in-law, who lives in Hawaii)
  • Incredible Hulk dvd
  • Iron Man dvd
  • Indiana Jones IV dvd
  • West Wing dvd's
  • Playstation game: Star Trek: Conquest
  • Camera (I've had two cameras stolen in the past, so this one better have barbed wire on it!)
  • a comic book collection on dvd-rom (the coolest thing if you don't neccesarily need perfectly preserved plastic wrapped collector editions).
  • SD cards
  • 80's song compilation
  • Assorted goodies from my kids at the daycare
  • Macadamia Nut brittle (from the aforementioned sister-in-law) I turn to you and ask: what did you get?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Brief Review of The Shack

The following is a brief review of William P. Young's The Shack. There are longer reviews that give a lot more details (Google away!), but I just wanted to sum up my thoughts in a concise fashion because I've been stopped in the hallway and asked, "Have you read this book yet?" "Whadja think of it?" and so on. The opinions are my own and may not necesarily reflect the views of my church, my friends, or the Christian community in general. And as always, if you disagree, please do it nicely. :-)

"Look for the main points and don't get too theologically nit-picky!"

With that admonition echoing in my mind, I began to read The Shack by William P. Young, about a man named Mackenzie Allen Philips, whose young daughter is brutally murdered in the woods of Oregon. In the midst of his grief ("the Great Sadness", as it is referred to), Mack receives a mysterious note inviting him to the shack where the murder took place to spend the weekend with "Papa", which is the family's term of endearment for God. What follows is a colorful and eye-popping dialogue as to the nature and ways of God in a mixed up world.
Since I seem to have a reputation for being "theologically nit-picky," it may be surprising to know that I found several things to like about the book. So I want to start this brief review with the positives.

The Shack is an intensely interesting and well-written book. I found myself drawn into the disorientation of Mack, as well as his questions, to the point of wanting to keep reading in hopes of finding the answers. The author is to be commended for writing such a compelling book.
The novel challenged me to look at God "outside the box." Too many times, we tend to lock God into a denominational or traditional mold, while forgetting that He is infinitely greater than what we can conceive with our minds. It's good to have a reminder that His ways are not our ways.
I have prayed many times to see a problem or circumstance from God's perspective. The Shack attempts to do just that. If only we could see children and their parents and the world with God's eyes (as in the Brandon Heath song "Give Me Your Eyes"), it would surely change the way we do ministry. Also heavy in the book is the theme of forgiveness…poignantly showing the importance of forgiving others, even those who have done the unspeakable. After all, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God's forgiveness humbles Mack…and it humbles me as well.

For a mature believer strong and knowledgeable in the faith, The Shack reads like a modern day parable. But the novel is not without some areas of concern and caution. While creatively portraying God's love, mercy, and grace, The Shack is silent regarding His perfect justice and wrath. It speaks glowingly of the need for and benefits of being in a right relationship with God (true!), but neglects to detail the alternative. Indeed, it is hard to picture "Papa" as being "angry with the wicked every day" (Psalm 7:11).

The First Person of the Trinity is portrayed as a woman, because Mack has struggles with a father figure. While it is true that God at times is spoken of with "motherly" characteristics, the overwhelming revelation of God in the Bible is as "Father." I would be hard pressed to find Scriptural examples of God casually assuming a manifestation in order to accommodate a human's perception. Indeed, given that "no man has seen God at any time", the very physical appearance of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit is problematic.

I'm reminded of a quote I heard long ago: "Christians are so worked up about what the Bible says, they don't know what God thinks." Perhaps my biggest concern with The Shack is the deafening lack of the Bible as the source of authority. There are several occasions in the book where Mack's seminary training and Biblical knowledge are discounted in favor of the current experience. Absolutes are set aside in order to explore the mind of "Papa". In short, The Shack comes across as a book for some sectors of the emergent generation, a theological approach that relies on exploration and conversation rather than theological absolutes.

The Shack is a good read, especially for those who struggle with grief and forgiveness. But as in anything, discernment is always a must.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Ever so often, someone will ask me what my favorite Christmas show is. There is no easy way to answer that, since I enjoy so many. So about two years ago, I made a list (and checked it twice) of specials and movies that I enjoy over the month of December. I dug it out, made a couple of changes, and will now post it for your viewing enjoyment.

A few notes before you start reading:
1. The list is no particular order. There is no significance to listing one above the other. They are totally random and non-alphabetized.
2. I limited the list to ten (plus one special bonus), but that doesn't mean there aren't more that I enjoy.
3. You can agree or disagree on my choices or my brief summations, but be nice about it. After all, you wouldn't want a lump of coal in your stocking.
4. As in all pop-culture offerings, I urge folks to use caution. Parents, watch and discuss these with your children. In some cases (most notably Christmas Vacation), you may want to watch the "edited for tv" version instead, as it removes some of the more unsavory elements.

And away we go.....
Charlie Brown Christmas
"And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." Poor Charlie Brown can't catch a break, even at Christmas time. What is so memorable about this holiday favorite is the clear, unapologetic declaration from the gospel of Luke about the true significance of the season. I don't know of too many secular shows today that could get away with that.

Jingle All the Way
"It's Turbo time!" The governor of California on the hunt for a Turbo Man action figure on Christmas Eve. Yup, it's a commentary on the insanity of marketing and merchandising. Of course, it casts a nod and a wink at the madness of Christmas Eve shopping. No, the characters don't behave very nicely. But at its heart is a touching parable of being a father and keeping promises.

A Christmas Story
"You'll shoot your eye out, kid." A slice of nostalgia featuring young Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun. Although set at a time before I was born, I still recognize a lot of elements from Christmas' past.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
"Later, dudes." The idealism of Gus Griswold verses a cynical universe. I can relate to Gus' desire to have a picture perfect Christmas, as well as the frustration of nothing going the way I pictured it.

Miracle on 34th Street
"I believe." Okay, it's not rocket-science, but the "trial of Santa" is still one of the most enduring images of the holiday season, with just enough element of "is he or isn't he?" to keep me on the edge of my seat. Wow...what would John Grisham have done with this plot? (side note: much maligned and not as gripping, the modern remake is still worth a look...a remarkably innocent and faithful treatment).

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
"I'm cued, she said I'm cued!" I struggle with this tale every seems that everyone is a little hard on Rudolph. But the songs are classic and the Bumble steals the show (trivia point: why does the head elf's voice suddenly change? 1000 Teacher Tim points to the first person who has a good answer).

Frosty the Snowman
"Happy Birthday!" Another classic with a memorable story line (for the record, I cannot stand the sequels).

The Santa Clause
"Did you just growl at me?" Tim Allen in a fun story of a sales rep who becomes the big guy. It is hilarious watching his gradual transformation and attempts to explain them to this family and co-workers. The sequels were good, but I did not like them as well.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
"Hey! Unto you a child is born!" This is mandatory viewing for all children's ministers and others involved in putting on Christmas programs. The horrible Herdmans take over the church Christmas pageant and it's up to Loretta Swit (from MASH) to ride herd. Very touching and emotional ending.

Home Alone
"Ahhhhhhggghhhh!" The highly improbable story of a kid who defends his home against a pair of burglars after being left behind by his family. This is a live action cartoon, with very creative injuries being inflicted upon the bad guys that would hospitalize a real person. But the touching reunion at the end is good, with the importance of family being reaffirmed.

In a category by itself: It's A Wonderful Life
"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings." Some movies rise above lists. This is one of them.

Friday, November 21, 2008


A speaker once remarked, "We are never closer to imitating God then when we forgive someone."

That is a profound statement, but I have had people challenge it. "After all, God is love," they say, "and so it is when we love others that we are most like our Creator."

Well,yes. Overall, grandly, love is or should be the defining characteristic of the Christian. Jesus said it is the key identifying sign that we are His disciples. All other virtues flow from that. So yes, let us agree that "the greatest of these is love."

Having established that, I am forced to ask the question, "what's easier to say: 'I love you' or 'I forgive you'?" I'm reminded of the time Jesus saw the paralyzed man in Matthew 9. He said to him, "Be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven." I can imagine the paralyzed man thinking, "uhhh..thank you for the sentiment." The religious leaders had a different reaction: "Blasphemy!" Their logic was sound: only God can forgive sins, so for Jesus to claim to forgive sins, He must be claiming to be God!

Jesus then asked, "What's easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven' or 'rise up and walk'?" Technically speaking, neither is easy, because a mere mortal can not do either one. But has far as just saying it, obviously, "your sins are forgiven you" is much easier to say, because no one can see that happening. Unless we can devise a way to peer into the spiritual heart of a human being, we just don't know.

But in order to demonstrate His authority, Jesus then went on to heal the paralyzed man! Again, using simple reasoning, if Jesus could do something that was obvious and observable (healing), then he must also possess the power to do the hidden work of the heart (forgiving sins).

"Okay, Teacher Tim, I know this story and the theological implications therein. What's your point?" I'm glad you asked.

I contend that it is far easier to say, "I love you" than to say "I forgive you." When I say I love someone, nobody can really see it. Besides, I can qualify my statement in such a way as it gets me "off the hook." For example, I can say, "I love her, but I don't really like her." Or that great Christian pious cop out: "I love you in the Lord" (translation: "there is no way I'll spend Thanksgiving with you because I think you're despicable, but (deep breath) I love you in the Lord."). It's just so easy to let the words roll off our tongue.

But "I forgive you"---that's a different story. You see, when you say you forgive someone, everyone is watching you. And if you slip up and bring up the past offense, or display indignation about the trespass, or (perish the thought) continue to hold a grudge, the witnesses to your "forgiveness" will shake their heads and say, "I knew he didn't/couldn't/wouldn't forgive." Never mind that we are all fallible human beings with weaknesses and faults. Never mind that even the most godly of Christians stumble at times. As far as the eyewitnesses are concerned, unforgiveness is just another sign of hypocrisy. That's why forgiveness is so hard.

But if we can forgive as Christ forgave us, if we can demonstrate the God-kind of forgiveness (the obvious work), then it bolsters our claim to love (the hidden work). It becomes a manifestation of love.

Easy? No. Needed? Yes. Impossible without God? Absolutely.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


A brother and colleague from the Chicago area wrote a blog entry about the recently completed presidential election. It sums up many of my thoughts so well, that I wanted to point everyone to it.
Praise the Lord for the freedom we have as American citizens. I would hope and pray that the Christian community, the conservative community, the Republican community, etc. will treat our new President with more respect and honor than the other side did President Bush. As another one of my online friends said: "it's time to pray for our President, not against him."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


It's a big green tree. It sits in our front yard. It is badly in need of pruning. But as autumn arrives, a startling metamorphisis occurs.
We open the door as the sun bathes the front yard. We are greeted by a brilliant yellow/orange glow as the rays strike and reflect our tree.
Just as rapidly as the green leaves transform to an incredible portrait of brilliant color, they will plummet to the ground, covering my lawn with reminders of how God never changes, even though the seasons might.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I just returned from the Rogue Valley Children's Ministries Conference, put on by (who else) the Rogue Valley Children's Ministries Network. While I have been blessed to attend the BIG conference (CPC in sunny San Diego), I always make it a priority to attend our local annual conference. This year, it was a little further from home (approximately 30-40 minute drive), but the highway gave us a chance to admire God's creation.The event was held at Parkway Christian Center in Grants Pass with the host children's pastor Bryan Reeder.We had a small group (my oldest daughter snapped the picture. My younger daughter had to stay home with a nasty bug!). But there were smiles all around throughout the conference.The keynote speaker was Jason Noble, director of CMA (Children's Ministries Agency) in the Assemblies of God. In the course of our conversation between sessions, I found out that he and his wife have family in Eagle Point (our home town)! The theme for the conferecne was INVEST, INCLUDE, IMAGINE. Mr. Noble developed the theme in three general "gatherings". During the second gathering, he invited us (ordered us?) to move to another table and answer some questions with people we've never met before (Hi there, Jan and Heidi!). One of the most provocative statements Jason made was that burnout is not the result of too much work, but rather the result of "dream deficit." He ended the day by challenging us to regain and refresh the dream and vision God had for our children's ministries.
There were workshops covering a variety of subjects. Since our children's ministry is starting to explore how best to meet the challenge of special needs kids, the first workshop I attended was on special needs. It was encouraging and thought-provoking. I also attended workshops on teaching the Bible and tips and techniques for teaching using powerpoint.
Before we knew it, the conference was over and we got loaded in the van to start the trip back. We shared some of our insights, compared notes on workshops, and thought of ways to implement what we learned.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


I love Sunday Morning Celebration. If I have a failing, it's in the fact that ideas and inovations come to me sometimes at the last moment. The KidServants who minister with me are some of the most loving, most flexible, most adaptable people in the world...and they have to be, since I often end up coming up with something totally off the proverbial wall the night before or sometimes the morning of! I'm sure more than one of them has shaken their head and wondered when I'm going to have a typed up master plan for Sunday morning submitted in triplicate the week before (and if you are reading this and you used to be in our department and I've driven you away by my "seat of the pants" approach, please forgive me).
I actually am really organized and yes, there is a plan. It's just that, well, sometimes I find another way of doing things or I come across an idea for a game or skit or object lesson that might work out better. You're right...I do need to nail down the plans a little better, if for no other reason than to keep our gaggle waddling in the same direction!
Case in point: the tabernacle. That's a tough one for kids (even adult eyes start glazing over at how much gold, silver, bronze, badger skins, and fasteners were needed). Then it hit me: let's build a tabernacle! My mind raced with images of yards of fabric held up with duct tape on pvc pipe, cardboard boxes shaped like incense altars, and a wooden altar, complete with the electric fire effect.
Sadly, my ambition was offset by a lack of time and resources. So I had to settle for a tabernacle layout. With Awana game lines crisscrossing on the "desert" floor, we laid out our 1/10 scale tabernacle on the floor (okay, the perimeter was 1/10, the rest was a guess). We had an altar, a basin, the holy place and the holy of holies in more or less the correct positions. Then we gathered the kids and had them stand by classes around the "tabernacle", where we talked about one way to God and accessing God's holiness. One of the kids raised her hand and asked, "why did an animal have to die?" Wow...either she was looking at my outline, or the Holy Spirit prompted her! So even though it wasn't the spectacular, interactive scale model, the kids understood.
An idea I received from Children's Ministries in the 21st Century had to do with prayer. We set up prayer stations along the wall, each one with an activity that corresponded to the Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication elements of prayer. The Supplication station invited kids to think of the name of a person they are praying for and write it on a bandaid. It was somewhat emotional, as I know the situations for some of the kids and who they put on that bandaid. Others I did not know, but I knew the kids had someone on their heart to intercede for. Today, a little girl wanted to show me her "Thank you" card. It listed the items one would expect from a child..."mommy" and "daddy" and "puppies" and "toys". But one item that really blessed me was "Church music." She was thankful for church music...specifically the music we do at Sunday Morning Celebration. And then, underneath, she wrote: "LOUD church music!"
I love it!
There's a bumper sticker that say, "Lord, help me be the kind of man my dog thinks I am." I'd like to change that to: "Lord, help me be the kind of KidServant the children and their parents and my volunteers think I the praise of Your glory!"
(and yes, I'll try to write this stuff down ahead of time!)

Sunday, September 07, 2008


What's loud and fun and full of smiles and laughter and, oh yes, loud? And what instills Bible principles and encourages kids to be a part of the best morning of the week at the same time?

Give up? It's Celebration Roundup. Part pep rally, part family reunion, this is our annual fall kick off event. The "normal" routine goes out the window as we spend both the Sunday School hour ("small group time") and the main hour ("large group time") in a big party. Along the way, we learned about how special we are because God created us and how His love helps us in times of sorrow and need. With kids going back to school, this is a neat reminder.

We had a good turnout for Roundup. Since families travel and sometimes get out of the habit of coming on Sunday morning, Roundup is a great way to get back into the swing of things. Plus it is an easy portal for kids to get other kids to join the fun.

On a personal note, I am overwhelmed with the heart of the men and women and teens in our children's ministries. As always, they stepped up and stepped in and stepped out to make the Roundup so amazing (in spite of last minute adjustments "on the fly"). If you are on our team and you are reading this, I want everyone to know how much I appreciate you.

Now...on to a few pics...


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

INTERESTING: THE FINAL CHAPTER (and a new beginning)

If you've read my blogs over the last couple of years, you recall a couple of reports on an interesting development in our church. (I'll summarize in a moment, or you can just go to Interesting 1 and Interesting 2 for the skinny!). I know many of you have been praying and have been curious as to what's happened.

Back in January of 2007, our leadership decided to transfer all the duties and responsibilities of the "Children's Ministries Director" over to our Christian Education Elder. I was allowed to lead the kids' program on Sunday morning (and also direct VBS), but I had no authority to really run with anything (not to mention having absolutely no input or involvement in the rest of the children's programs). The sudden move left me feeling a little bewildered and befuddled.

Since that time, I've tried to be faithful to the ministry that I have been given on Sunday mornings. It's been good. But as 2007 drew to a close, I wondered if it was time for our church to take a good, solid look at children's ministries in general and the part I would (by God's leading) play in it. But delays and cancellations caused the issue to be postponed. January turned into February and spring rolled into summer, but the board still had not had an opportunity to even hear the proposals.

Until Tuesday. At the monthly board meeting, the C.E. Elder and the former C.E. Elder teamed up to make the proposal that I be appointed as "Children's Pastor" of our church.

The leadership agreed.

So now I'm officially the CP of our church. Since I already do a lot of the things that are done, the change will not be a major dramatic one. What it does primarily is give me the freedom to once again tie our ministry programs together and "kick it up a notch" or two.

Thank you to all of you who have prayed and offered encouragement during my time of "wonderings." Let the new chapter begin....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Not much to add to this link (and I'm really late mentioning it!), but here's the next big thing in children's online entertainment: Jelly Telly. Going to this link will take you to a video that is about 30 minutes long, but well worth it. Jelly Telly comes to us from the heart of Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales. This promo video introduces the viewer to a new platform for reaching kids on their level.

I had the privilege of listening to Phil Vischer at the 2007 Children's Pastor's Conference in San Diego. He's a man with a heart for the Lord and for children. In this day and age of Nickolodeon and Disney Channel, Jelly Telly looks to be an exciting alternative that, in my humble opinion, we should all get behind. So check out the video and get ready to see the birth of a fresh wave of quality programming for kids.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


The following are just some short notes about what's on my mind, in no particular order....

  • Another memorable VBS moment from one of our leaders: One of our stations allowed the kids to "walk on water" like Peter (it was a recipe with cornstarch and stuff...gross to mix up, but the effect is cool!). One of the girls was on crutches from a sprained ankle. When it was her turn to "walk across the water," two other girls--without any prompting, directing, or encouragement--got up and helped her get across! I get a lump in my throat every time I think about it.
  • A young lady in our church is getting ready to leave our community to tour with the Siver Ring Thing, a major abstinence education production that goes around the nation and other countries. It is so cool to see kids that used to be in the ministry start to go out and do the ministry!
  • There are 49 tiny squares produced by the weave pattern in the generic store version of a Triscuit cracker (yes, I counted).
  • New website in my link section: Hollywood Jesus. The webmaster, David Bruce, is from our area, but the ministry is nationwide. The site is full of reviews and analyses of movies, tv shows, comics, and pop culture from a spiritual perspective. Agree, disagree, or think futher--this is a good resource to add.
  • I calcuate that I get seven phone directories every year. I am notoriously bad at not throwing out my phone directories. Being as it is starting to look like a tower, I think it's time to make a trip to the recycling center.
  • To my ministry friend in Illinois who is playing "Mr. Mom" for an extended period while his wife is away: what an opportunity to invest in your son! And how much sweeter will be the reunion when your wife returns. God bless you!

Monday, July 28, 2008


Funny story...

Well, not funny really, more like a tale born out of deep tragedy and personal pain that may possibly have good results in the end.


There is a room in our church that has been set aside as the "C.E. Office" It is an office in name only. No one uses it as an office. It probably resembles more of a storage center. When our talented painter created the fantastic bucolic mural that adorns our breezeway, she used the C.E. office door as the horse barn door (complete with horse). "Barn" is a good description. Over the years, I have cleaned and straightened and organized, with limited results. Either some stuff gets out of place, or I don't finish the task, or more stuff gets stuffed in there. For example, when I was told that the tape library archives had to be moved or disposed of, I put them in the C.E. office. A rather large storage cabinent was slated for removal, so all the items in it were moved to the C.E. office. And on it goes. The result is no place to walk or move.

Fast forward: Vacation Bible School is fast approaching. We needed some sturdy, industrail looking shelves to put on the stage for our set. Hey, let's get the ones out of the C.E. office! No problem, except for the fact that the shelves are packed full and there are two or three solid layers of boxes, items, and debris. So I set up two long tables in the hallway and engaged in the task of clearing the area in front and around the two shelves and then clearing the shelves themselves. After an hour or two of work, the shelves were free. I navigated them out of the still overwhelmingly cluttered office/barn/storage closet and we used them for our stage set for VBS. And since all the stuff couldn't sit in the hallway all week, I shoved it all back in the "office."

That's when I had a brain storm. After VBS was over, I had to get the shelves back in the C.E. office. That meant I had to clear out the stuff I had just put back in. Soooo...why not just empty everything out and do a massive sorting and cleaning project, putting things back bit by bit? So on Friday, I told our Craft Director (who was using the sizeable youth room that sits next to the C.E. Office) to leave her craft tables up. My plan was to whip through all this stuff on Saturday, leaving a lean, mean children's ministry office machine!


Understand, that VBS is a physically demanding week. Since it was in the evening, it made for a week of very long days. I slept in on Saturday, but I knew I had to get started. So Saturday morning, I headed to the church and began unloading items onto the tables in the youth room. It took all morning and part of the afternoon just to get the stuff out of the office. I dusted and vacuumed (so that's what the floor looks like!) and marvelled at just how big the C.E. office actually was. I put the shelves back in the room, took a late lunch break, and began the task of purging the "stuff." My criteria was simple: unless it had clear historic value, was irreplaceable, or would likely be used in the future, out it would go. This wasn't easy, as I subscribe to the "this might come in handy one day" school of hoardng. But I determined to be brutal and reduce years of accumluation to a manageable size.

But as daylight turned to darkness, the piles had not shrunk that much. I headed home at about 11 p.m., in order to finish my final prep for Sunday morning.

The Sunday Morning activities went well. The youth group was very understanding and forgiving of the mess in their room, especially when I mentioned I could get them donuts. I took my wife to lunch, came home, changed clothes, and returned to the church. My gaze was weary, but steady. My determination was strained, but still strong. My organizational skills were peaked. I threw things away that some people, if they knew about it, would hang me in effigy. I faltered a couple of times, the bone crushing weariness and fatigue catching up with me. But finally, about 9:30 p.m., I put the last thing away, cleaned up the youth room, and went home.

Now to be honest, the project is not done yet. I have two boxes labeled "to be sorted." I have not touched the filing cabinent, nor the files full of older curriculum. But compared to how it was, it is much, much, much better.

So why did I spend so much time on this project when I should have been at home resting and recouperating frm VBS? Three reasons:
  • It will help me get better organized.
  • There is more to me than a messy, cluttered office.
  • Should I be definitely removed from children's ministries, I want my successor to have better.
Meanwhile, I will bask in the glow of the accomplishment of this weekend, yeah, verily and forsooth.

Yeah, whatever!

VBS LOG 2: The Week is Over

Another Vacation Bible School is in the books. All the months of planning, preparation, thought, and constant prayer come down to one week of insanity! But what an incredible week it was! 124 kids walked through the door during the week, with an average nightly attendance of 97. Our missions project (as in years' past) was Kidzana Ministries, with the kids raising approximately $75.

Were there bumps in the road? Absolutely. I already posted an entry about what has become known as the "hashbrown incident." There were technical difficulties along the way. And, of course, there were the inevitable challenges that arise from dozens of personalities being brought together in one place for the week. As a friend of mine likes to say, "I heard so much whining, crying, complaining, and temper tantrums...and the kids had behavior issues too!"

But all the statistics available, all the challenges along the way, and all the physical (and yes, to be honest, emotional) weariness incurred throughout the week were offset by three very important things:

1. I shared this in a previous post, but it bears repeating: The Word of God was proclaimed and the kids had fun! Oh yeah!

2. So many adults and teens came together just to focus on children. Wow...that just warms my heart every time I think about it.

3. At one of the stations, a girl stayed afterward and asked about how to make Jesus her forever friend. The station leader, holding back tears, shared the gospel and led her into a profession of faith. All the statistics, compliments, and fun are nothing compared to the rejoicing in heaven.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Our first night of Vacation Bible School went off without a hitch.
Except for everything that went wrong.
Actually, after several years of directing this summer phenomenon known as VBS, I have learned to not only expect the unexpected, but to keep everything in its proper perspective. That proper perspective is as follows: the kids had fun and the Word of God was proclaimed. Score! It was a good night!

But I feel a special burden tonight to unload a deep secret from my first night at VBS. You see, during our closing program, we were to do a special object lesson in which dry ice is placed in the water, it churns and bubbles, and then the leader (that's me!) creates a film of soap over the top of the bowl. The fog from the bowl expands the film bubble, until it bursts over, symbolizing our thankfulness (okay, you Power Lab directors, you're with me on this!). The instructions made it look cool. The video clips made it look cool. It looked cool. I couldn't wait.

Unfortunately, due to various and assorted challenges, I was unable to get the dry ice until the afternoon before VBS. I determined I was going to practice this experiment, so that I would get the feel for it before doing it in front of assorted kids and volunteers. But the Monday of VBS is always a bit like running a Nascar race with a're pedaling as hard and as fast as you can, but your little bell just won't tell the other drivers to get out of the way (VBS directors, can I get a witness...?) Anyway, my rehearsal time got eaten away with a myriad of unforeseen (or foreseen, but not addressed) challenges.

Finally, with approximatley 40 minutes to go, I found my practice window. But there were still challenges. The glass bowl had disappeared. I hunted, asked around, and eventually located it. I knew I would have to fill the bowls with pitchers from the nearest sink. Hey...the pitchers were too big to fit under the faucet of the nearest sink (ding..ding..move out of my way, Gordon!).

I finally had all my ingredients. My wife had put the dry ice in the church freezer. The dry ice was in brown wrappers. I took the ice chest to the kitchen, put on the safety gloves, and took the four very cold, brown-wrapped packages out of the freezer, and returned to practice the experiment. Only 20 minutes to go.

I cut the bags open and emptied the shaved dry ice into the freezer. I then carefully picked up a big hunk of the shaved dry ice (which had fused together in a lump) and I dumped it in the water, waiting for the bubbling, churning effect to start.

At this point, I should let everyone know that, while I have seen the foggy, churning effect from dry ice, I have never actually handled dry ice. I knew what it was supposed to do, but I did not really know how long it was supposed to take to do it. I also did not know that dry ice could come in shaved form, but since regular ice could be shaved, I didn't give it a second thought.

So why was this taking so long?

The shaved dry ice sat there in the water. I saw a tiny bubble or two make its way to the surface, but nothing like the cascading white fog I was expecting. Yup, the shaved dry ice sat in the bowl looking a lot like......


Shredded, frozen (but thawing), hash browns. White, soggy hash browns. I poked at them with my finger, half hoping it was indeed shaved dry ice (in which case the flesh on my finger would rip apart from the intense cold of the carbon dioxide). But no...alas. It was, in no way, shape, or form dry ice. It was hashbrowns (ding..ding..splat!).

I quickly dumped the bowl, cleaned up my mess, and got ready for when the kids arrived. I found the other brown package in the church freezer and it contained the chunks of dry ice. I did the experment live with no rehearsal. The kids ooohed and aaahed as the water bubbled, churned, and fogged over. But try as I might, I could not get the film to stick over the bowl. Sorry, Group Publishing, I know it said to be patient and keep trying, but the kids and volunteers were threatening a boycott, so I just tied in the bubbling and churning and how our lives should be marked by overflowing gratitude (yes, Teacher Tim, even when experiments go wrong).

As kids were leaving, I almost thought I heard some of the children saying how much they liked VBS so far. One of them said, "I know Teacher Tim tried his best on the experiment. I think he's just way too hard on himself. There's no way I could get angry with him over this."

"Yeah" said the other. "Hey, by the way, are you going to Kid's Camp in a couple of weeks? There's lots of fun and good food. I'm especially looking forward to the breakfast: eggs, bacon, and lots of yummy hash browns!"

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Today was set-up day for Vacation Bible School at our church. All the weeks and months of preparation and planning come down to this. A lot of us returned to the church after lunch and stayed until the evening hours transforming our building into the Power Lab, dealing with last minute questions and orientations, and enjoying pizza! So, needless to say, I'm tired and ready for bed. But I wanted to share some random thoughts before going to sleep.

  • Every year, I marvel at how hard it is to get volunteers, but then how the Lord brings a whole herd of them at the last minute.
  • I continue to be impressed by the creativity and ingenuity of our team members in decorating and problem solving.
  • We have some 14 year olds serving. We also have some 70's and 80's serving. What a neat mix!
  • My daughter may very well have a black eye from a stack of folding tables falling on her this evening. She says she's going to wear an eye patch and warn people to wear protective eye gear before doing scientific experiments.
  • I needed a couple of bookshelves from the C.E. office/storage room/catch-all. I never realized just how much stuff lay in front and upon those shelves. The upside is, I will finally be in a position to clean the room.
  • After years of service, my VBS assistant was unable to serve this year. If my VBS assistant is reading this: you are loved and appreciated....and I don't think everyone has fully comprehended just how important you have been. I have missed you...and you are in my prayers.
  • My wife correctly guessed the number of pizzas we would need for dinner tonight. How does she do that?
  • is, in my humble opinion, one of the best children's ministry distributors on the planet.
  • The Dollar Store is the children's worker's friend.
  • I'm tired, I'm sore, I'm worn out. And after much thought, I have decided that I still love VBS
Bring it the glory of God to the benefit of the kids!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Last weekend, we finally got to take the first camping trip of the summer. Our destination was Whiskey Springs, a few miles past the charming town of Butte Falls. We had a few adventures during the trip, like a family emergency that required us to rush back home the second night. When we returned the next day, we had the privilege of helping a couple whose ride out of the campsite had "stood them up." We learned that he was a Desert Storm vet who got injured jumping out of a plane. We knew some of the same people...and we got to find out some of their church background as well.

I enjoy camping. Not only are there tall trees, fresh air, and gorgeous scenery, but it's an opportunity for me to do absolutely nothing! There are no demands on my time, no big decisions to be made, and no phones (nope, I still do not own a cell phone...and the signal is poor anyway!) I bring my laptop for writing, but there's no internet. I read, I walk, I read, I study, I walk, I attempt to grill burgers, and, oh yes, I read. And study. And think. And sleep. And plan. And dream.

The road to Whiskey Springs

Bridges cross little water streams along the hiking trail

Looking down at the creek

What secrets lurk below the pond? The beavers know! If you walk out here at early dawn or dusk, you may see a beaver or two busy in the pond.

A less than welcome tent guest (for the record, I strongly dislike spiders. However, they also fascinate a distance. This is as close as I will get without a shoe or heavy, blunt object).

Our family dog contemplates the nature of...well, nature.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


I was watching part of documentary one afternoon about the space program. Archival footage showed the classic mission control room of countless space missions. Shortly before the final countdown, the head honcho begins checking with each and every station with one simple question: "go or no go?" One by one, the station leaders call out "go," signifying that their area is functioning and ready for the launch. But should a leader say "no go," then the final countdown is halted. Fascinating stuff.

In approximately one and a half weeks, our church will be launching its annual Vacation Bible School. And tonight, at our weekly VBS meeting, I shared that we are nearing the final countdown and I needed a "go or no go" from everyone involved.

Of course, I'm not saying that we will scrub VBS if someone says "no go." But I did take the liberty of applying this dramatic scenario two ways:

1. It is time for each individual to say "go" or "no go" regarding their respective missions. Like hundreds of VBS directors through history and across the country, I find a lot of commitment takes the form of, "uhhh...I dunno", "maybe," or "let me think about it." But it is now time for each station leader, each volunteer, each support person to sign on the dotted line and say, "yes...I'm a GO." And I need to reaffirm myself as well. As I shared in a previous post, I've struggled somewhat with VBS this year. But now is time for me to step up, to go the distance, to shoot for the net, to hit the ball outta the park, to go for the middle of the uprights, to....well, you get the picture. I've always been on board for Vacation Bible School. But now is the time to loudly shout, "GO"

2. It is time to act as though we were in the final countdown. As I was reading some forum boards related to our VBS, I came across one discouraged poster whose whole organizational system caused dely after delay in their planning. They lamented that they only had a month left to order supplies, recruit, and get the program going. The responses varied, but many of them had the same basic message: "you have a month left? PRAISE THE LORD!" The church with 30 days until VBS has to do the same thing as the church with 30 weeks. They just have to focus and stick to the basics. God brings the harvest, God controls the results.

We've got a week and a half! PRAISE THE LORD! Our original target date would have placed us in the middle of VBS this week...and then what? Hey...we've got another week and a half! Time to set aside distractions and make every day count. I'm talking back at myself at this point, but also to anyone else who is struggling with similar situations.

Vacation Bible School is going to be great. Kids will hear the gospel and experience a fun-filled Christian environment. Songs, games, snacks, stories, and surprises! I can hardly wait.



Friday, July 04, 2008


Happy Independence Day!

If you haven't been to a "small town" 4th of July celebration, you don't know what you're missing. Even though our city is one of the fastest growing cities in the state, it has always maintained its charm and friendliness when it comes to things like the 4th. I started the day early with the community breakfast: eggs, ham, and pancakes. But it's not about the food, it's the faces: familiar and not-so-familiar folks coming in to share a meal, joke around, and get started on the day's events.

The day began overcast (it rained last night). It provided some cooler weather as we sat and waited for the parade. And then, right before the parade was to begin, the sun broke through. It was especially nice to have the clear skies, after spending the week choking on smoke from the wildfires in northern California. The parade was good, with all the elements a "small town" parade should have: fire trucks, vintage cars, horses, floats, and the corny jokes from the MC's. As the parade begins (officially, it starts at the review stand, but in actuality, it begins further up the street), the honor gaurd stops and everyone rises for the National Anthem. It is an incredibly moving thing to see hundreds of people on both sides of the streets stand in absolute silence as the flag is presented.

We wandered the many booths and shook hands with people for awhile. Then it was off to home, to relax a bit, and then grill some burgers for dinner.

About dinner time, I was starting to feel a headache coming on, so I bowed out of the fireworks show at the stadium. But it's a show that can be seen and heard throughout the city. One of the highlights is at "halftime" with "Skydiver Bingo." Throughout the day, people buy paper plates and put their names on them. At halftime, the plates are scattered all over the football field. A local skydiving club then sends skydivers over the stadium. It is an awesome thing to be staring up into the dark night sky and suddenly see a figure gliding in almost as if on one giant wing. He lands and scoops up a paper plate. The three winners get various cash prizes. And in one of the most exciting developments of the evening, my oldest daughter won a prize! Whoo hoo...dinner's on her!

For whatever reason, the pictures I thought I took today were non-existent. So, you'll have to settle for a thousand words instead of pictures. But believe me, the 4th of July in "small town" America is worth it.

Random thoughts from one tired puppy dog!

PS One more addition: One of the local newspapers took some parade pictures and posted it on their gallery. You can see them here. (let me know if this worked...I wasn't quite sure)
ADDITIONAL NOTE: I have fixed the link to show the 2008 pictures. Thanks to my anonymous commentator who noticed and brought it to my attention!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

TIME TO CHANGE: A Brief Introduction

Okay, time to get serious. I intended to write a blog about changes, choices, and getting what I want. As I stand at some heavy duty crossroads in my life, I am deciding to make some changes. Some will be gradual, some will be immediate, but all will have one thing in common: they will start with the simple decision to do it.

One day soon I will write more about these changes, but at this moment, I'm bumping up against a deadline. Why not just post when I have more time? I guess by introducing the subject now, it not only leaves the readers in suspense, but it also reminds me to finish writing it!

So stay tuned and keep reading.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


One of the greatest inventions of our modern age is the yellow note pad. Don't get me wrong...I have a Palm Pilot, which has delivered me from some of my random sticky notes that hang everywhere and which helps me keep track of stuff I would otherwise forget. It took a while for me to get to the Palm Pilot stage, but now I can't picture not having it.

But there's something about writing on a yellow pad that is somewhat cleansing to the mind. It's like thoughts and ideas flow from my overcrowded cranium, down my arm, and out the tip of my pen. It's not like holding a stylus and rapidly tap-tap-taping on a miniature keyboard. Nor is it like working on a PC. I can stop and deftly toss the pad on the table to collect my next wave of thoughts or grab a cup of joe or whatever--you can't do that with a laptop! I can pick the pad up and carry it around, whack a spider on the wall, jot a note while standing, and even wave it in my face to cool off. And when I'm done, the yellow pad is covered with an intricate pattern of heiroglyphics, code words, and internal communiques (aka doodles, abbreviations, and notes to self!) that make me feel like I've actually accomplished something.

I was feeling a little overwhelmed by this year's VBS. I won't lay out all the reasons, just that I didn't accomplish some things that were under my control and couldn't control some things that weren't. We are in "crunch time" with less than a month to go...and I was feeling like a dishwasher on the Titanic: plates up to here, water up to there, and wondering which "sink" should be my focus: the noun or the verb!

But by God's grace, I had the morning off from daycare. So I got up at my usual time, went to the church at my usual time, and went into the church library. I pulled out a yellow pad, prayed for wisdom, and started jotting down notes. Wow...what a morning! Sure, I could have plotted everything on my Palm Pilot (and much of what I did will be added to my P.P. calendar and task lists). But I wanted to write as quickly or as slowly as I wanted. I scribbled a reminder on the side and underlined it with heavy, bold strokes, followed by emphatic exclamation points (three, because this was really important!). I drew a line from one point to another clear across the page, because they had an element in common (which I wrote along the line). I drew diagrams and circled items. No, there was no logical consistency to any of it...a circled item probably carries the same weight as an underlined item.

When it was done, I had clarity about VBS. I spent some more time in prayer, asking the Lord to help me and my team through "crunch time."

So if you're feeling overwhelmed, or you have a big decision to make, or you're still wondering, "She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me.....", I highly recommend finding a quiet spot, pulling out a fresh yellow note pad, and starting to write. :-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A PERSONAL MILESTONE (random musings)

Today is the 25th anniversary of my ordination to the ministry.

Granted, it's not the stuff of ticker-tape parades or silver anniversary cakes. Indeed, this thing called "ordination" is extremely humbling and very personal. There was a council consisting of pastors and church leaders. There was a ceremony a couple of weeks later. And as my pastor told me at the time, they did not ordain me; rather, God had already ordained me and they were just agreeing with His decision. Any ministry success is all His doing. And when I've blown it...oh boy.... Why someone came up with the description "reverend" is beyond me. Waaayyy beyond me. So why commemorate the date at all?

I guess because it is so personal, so significant, and has been responsible for a lot the directions I've bounced over the last quarter century, it's only natural to look back. When I pulled out some old pictures of the ordination service and subsequent churches, I can't believe I used to be that young. And that skinny. And with that much hair. I had dreams and plans and a solid sense of what I wanted to do and be as this newly ordained servant of God. And in tiny print at the bottom of the screen of my imagination were the words, "The dreams and plans of Tim may not neccesarily be those of the Creator of the universe."

So where have I been the last 25 years? I've been an associate minister in southern California. I've been a senior pastor in two churches in Colorado. I was promoted to children's ministry in Oregon (but not as staff, which you'll see as you keep reading). I still teach regularly, preach occaisionally, do a wedding or funeral or two. And there have also been the half-dozen "tent making" jobs I've had either between or during ministries ("tent making" referring to the Apostle Paul, who supported himself in the ministry by making tents).

I honestly can say that I know less than I did 25 years ago. Oh, I'm probably even more dogmatic on a lot of matters of faith and practice, but I'm more picky about the hills I climb and the battles I fight. I realize that I don't have all the answers to every single theological, sociological, political issue facing the church today. Most of my opinions are well researched and carefully thought out, but they are still my opinions. After all these years, I found I could be (gulp) mistaken on some things.

As to the future...I honestly don't know. Of the two paid positions I have at the church, neither is what is called "vocational ministry." The thing I consider my main ministry...children's ministry (not counting the daycare center where I work) strictly an appointed volunteer work. Don't get me wrong...I love everything I do (especially children's ministry) and I'm grateful to "minister" in that way. But I have to be totally honest: what I dreamed and envisioned as the elders laid hands on me back in 1983 bears little resemblance to what I am experiencing now.

So am I depressed? No. Maybe a tad melencholy, but any kind of retrospect will produce that. I know what I know what I know, and that is I have an awesome and amazing God Who loves me with an everlasting love and has an intricate plan for my life that transcends anything I could ever imagine. I can wish the road had been different, but I am so incredibly grateful about Who I traveled it with.

Here's to the next 25 years of "ordained" ministry, whatever form it takes.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I love worshipping with kids. I love worshipping with kids, even when it appears that worship is the furthest thing from their minds. I love worshipping with kids, even when they verbally confirm that worship is the furthest things from their minds with such time-honored phrases as "I'm bored," "When is this over?" and "Can we play with the basketball set again?" I love worshipping with kids, even when they sit with crossed arms and sour expressions that say, "Engage me...I dare you. Go ahead, make my millennium!"

Okay, I love worshipping with kids and all of the above is true. HOWEVER...honest reality check here: I do not always do the dance of joy when some of my kids are clearly not "into it." Sometimes I internally react with a heavy sigh. Other times, I go home and weep, praying for and wanting these young children to have the same sense of wonder and excitement as they sing to and about the Lord. And sometimes, I just throw my arms up and wonder how come the parents didn't teach their kids how to behave better in church (followed by the mandatory kicking of myself for having such thoughts).

And I'm reasonably sure I'm not alone in these feelings.

That's why God gave us Sundays where everything pops! This last Sunday (which happened to be Father's Day), the singing and worship were incredible. The majority of kids were singing loudly, with an unbridled, uninhibited enthusiasm. And when one of the kids asked if we could pray for his toe, we had an unscheduled time of prayer requests, with different kids praying for each request. It was so incredibly awesome. One of our KidServants and I kept exchanging grins during the whole thing.

Kids are kids....and yes, the aimless chatter, and distractions, and arm-crossing will be there to some extent. But on this Sunday, it's like God was unveiling the real heart of the children...the heart that wants to have fun and enjoy God. Yeah, I love worshipping with kids, whether they look engaged or not. But ever' now and again, it's nice to see things pop and sizzle.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Promotion Sunday 2008 is in the books.
Every June, we promote certain children in our Sunday Morning Celebration to their new classes. It's a fairly simple ceremony: in one corner is one class, across from them is another class. The teacher of the first class introduces his/her kids, then sends the kids who are to be promoted across to the new class, where they are welcomed by the kids in that class. Then another class takes their place and the process repeats. Our middle school and high school groups also join in, with our 5th graders sliding up to the middle school, and the middle school grads moving up to the high school, and the graduating seniors being informally recognized.

Like I said, it's simple. Incredibly simple and short and sweet. So why do I always get a lump in my throat as I see child after child walk across the lawn to be greeted by their new peers? Is it because each promotion represents a validation of that all-important ministry in which we are engaged? Or maybe it's because I'm a sucker for ceremonies. I don't know. Maybe it's because of how the high school group welcomed the newcomers from the middle school group by surrounding them in a tight circle and praying over them. As I watched this, I knew that I wanted each of the young children that we minister to today to turn out like that when they get to be teens and beyond.
So, Promotion Day 2008 is now over.... let the adventure continue.
Attendance was low for various reasons...but the kids and KidServants were ready for action.
The teenagers got into the action, forming a conga line to the song "Wild Ride."
One of our promoted kids demonstrates her dance moves!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I love it when a thought, vision, or idea is shared by someone else.

Even when I can't find the someone else who shared it.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been thinking about our church and its children's program. I am currently serving only in the Sunday morning activities, but my dreams and passion are still in the broader umbrella of all our kids' programs (just waiting for some organizational changes that will enable me to function in that capacity). My thoughts turned toward our phenomenal volunteers, men and women who devote their Sunday mornings to helping kids know the Savior. Two of our KidServants (as we call them here) are physically challenged. And then there's a big bear of a grandpa who teaches a 3rd-5th grade class. There's a 20 year old young lady in college who leads an infant-toddler group. And a mix of mechanics, truck drivers, and administrators who tackle the awesome task of helping kids grow in their faith. It warms my heart to see these folks every week.

But one day, I asked the question: "what is the average age of all our KidServants on Sunday morning?" Aside from the 20 year old and another lady who is in her 30's, most of our group is 40+. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Physical appearance aside, these saints have energy to spare. In no way, shape, or form do I want to downplay the contribution of these men and women.

But I remember I first taught a 5th grade Sunday School class when I was in high school. My wife taught when she was in junior high. Even my oldest daughter led a group when she was still in school. In my adventures at Children's Pastors Conferences, I've met children's pastors, directors, and coordinators that look like they just graduated. And I found myself wondering: "where is the next generation in our children's program?"

And then I read a blog. One of many blogs I regularly read. And the writer talked about his dream and plan to start recruiting the next generation. His words clicked and resounded within my spirit. The only trouble is, in my haste, I failed to note which blog I was reading. Soooooo....if you recently wrote about recruiting the next generation, please know that your spirit bore witness with my spirit!

Meanwhile, I shared my thoughts with the elder who is over me. He got very excited about the possibilities. The thought of a younger team being implanted in ministry is thrilling. Again, we don't want to replace our current workers (unless they want to be replaced), but we do want to begin actively seeking responsible older teens and 20's to step up and begin assuming these rolls. Several of our ministries have already begun doing this (two kids who grew up in our Sunday School are now elders in the church!). It's time for children's ministries to do the same.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

THE STORM (a very personal blog)

Someone once observed that blogging can be very cathartic. I've never tried to test that idea, but ever so often, I have things on my mind and my heart that need to be expressed.

This picture was taken following a Celebration KREW meeting one Saturday night. The approaching storm clouds were interesting to watch, but we did not suspect what they packed. Less than ten minutes later, we were driving home in a surprising spring blizzard!

Sometimes, when the proverbial "storm clouds of life" arrive, we stand amazed from a safe distance. But before we know it, we are in the middle of the storm.

I have been wrestling with my feelings for some precious folks who are very dear to me. One of them is a relative, one a friend. Both are making unwise and spiritually disasterous choices in their lives. And I am absolutely powerless to do anything about it. Their issues are being dealt with at various levels. But that doesn't change the storm of emotions I'm facing.

I'm angry. I want to take them by the shoulders and give them a good shaking (especially the relative). Like Cher's character in Moonstruck, I want to slap them and shout, "Snap out of it!"

I'm depressed. Their actions and choices deeply sadden me. This part is actually surprising, because in the course of pastoral ministry, I have dealt with others with similar issues, but I've never been so down over it.

I'm taking it personally. "What could I have done? How could I have been a better friend? How could I have missed the warning signs?"

I'm resting in God's love and grace. This is the only stable part of this whole situation. My emotions may come and go, my reactions may at times be totally out of whack, but my Father is still there and still cares.

So please pray for my friend and for my relative, that they would wake up before it's too late. And pray for me that I may model what Jesus would have me model in the face of this storm.

Thank you.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


I was going through some files the other day, when I ran across some stunning pictures of our church building, taken from up high...way up high. It looks like an early fall day in southern Oregon, and with the bright sunshine and tree-lined streets, it looks like a page from a travel guide to smaller American cities (and I would be lax in my duties as a citizen of said city if I didn't point out that we are one of the fastest growing cities in the state).

Notice the steeple. That and the part of the building to which it is attached, were originally built in the early 1900's. The rest has been added on through the years.

A little higher now.

And way high. The church building is just a little left of center. The big building behind it belongs to the school district and includes a gymnasium and classrooms. It used to be part of the middle school, but an early morning fire wiped out much of the property (which is why it looks like vacant fields to the right...that all used to be buildings!) One of the miracles of that morning was that our church building, located just across a narrow alley, was totally untouched.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Just a few quick items...

+It snowed today. Or, more accurately, it spat snow flakes. A lot of snow flakes. But not enough to stick to our valley floor. March better get its act together this weekend if it's going to go out like a lamb. Although, from what I hear, when I was in San Diego, March came in like a lamb. I think March is confused. I'm sure glad God knows what He's doing!

+One of my four year old kids in the preschool gave me a big hug today. He said I was the best teacher because I knew letters even better than he did. I'm going to use him as a reference if I get a new job.

+New link: Glen Woods. His blog is full of inspiration, information, and insights about the world of children's ministry. Well worth the read.

+After many moons of blogging, I finally decided to add a picture to my profile. I've had one on my MySpace page for a while, but since I don't update my MySpace page that much, I figured I ought to add one on Blogger. Check it out to the right.

+Another new link: Thoughts by Christina. This is funny, slice of life, stream of whatever consciousness thoughts that ooze from this girl's brain. Okay, she's a woman, but I'm her father, so she'll always be my little girl. It's actually quite funny. The only drawback is that she doesn't update her blog as much as her MySpace page (hint, hint).

Monday, March 24, 2008


It's like it was yesterday...and yet so long ago. The truth is, it has been a little over two weeks since the Children's Pastors Conference in San Diego. As in years past, I am still letting concepts, principles, ideas, and inspirations settle in. Some things will hit me months from now. I still look back at notes from 2003 for an idea or to refresh my memory on something I heard. This is no different. I have fun, fond memories of my time in San Diego...the worship, the workshops, the meeting new friends at the Kidology gathering (made even more significant and somewhat bittersweet by the passing of Dan Rase, with whom I shared a meal at the CPC's "Dinner on the Town" function. You can read a touching article about Dan here). I got to put faces and names together of fellow bloggers and ministers I've only known by screen names, icons, or book titles. As I've posted before, it was a wonderful experience.

But interestingly enough, one of the most significant concepts I brought back from San Diego did not occur at a workshop or a general session or a gathering or from the myriad of resources I obtained. No, this concept hit me in the quiet of my hotel room, the night before the conference officially began, as I was thinking and praying about what was in store for me that first week of March and what would make an impact in the lives of the children on Sunday morning.

I began thinking about our setup on Sunday mornings. Because we hold our Large Group gathering in the fellowship hall, everything has to be moved into position. So on Saturday night, I am down at the church hauling tables, chairs, moving sound equipment, setting up projectors, and getting the area ready for the kids. Some nights, I am joined by others, some nights I do it alone, but I get caught up in the excitement of getting ready!

But on Sunday morning, as the hour ends and parents start filtering in to pick up their kids, the process is reversed. Chairs get stacked, equipment gets moved, tables are put up, props and dvds put away, etc. and so on. Our young helpers help, our team helps, and, if we are speedy enough, we don't have to stay too long after the service.

But then it hit me, in one of those obvious, "duhhh" ways that God sometimes uses to get my attention. You see, the elders have said that they want to see me in the main service periodically so that parents can know who it is that teaches their kids (Of course, unless I'm pointed out as the one who teaches their kids, they aren't going to know who I am. And if I am pointed out, it begs the question, "if you're up here, who's back there teaching my kids now?"). At any rate, I do miss the connection with the kids and their parents. I have four little blond haired girls from two different families whose names I still get mixed up to this day! I don't always get to see the parents who picks up the little guy in his Sunday best, or the single mom of the new kid who was too shy to sing. I don't always get the chance to joke around with the kids or shake the hands of their folks because all the stuff has to get put away and cleaned up before I go.

(Slap upside the head)! Like the proverbial ton of bricks, it hit me. The stuff that has to be put away will still be there. I claim to want to build relationships with children and their families. I'm missing a prime connecting point right after the service. So, there in my hotel room far from my southern Oregon home, I resolved not to put anything away, not to help clean up, not to lift a single chair or piece of equipment until the kids were gone. Hey, our teen helpers can start if they want...that's fine. But for that golden time following the service, I want to be talking to children and greeting the parents. I want to make those connections. I told my wife about it, since any after-church plans could be affected. She understood and was all in favor. My pastor is thrilled. My team sometimes can stay later, sometimes can't, but they are all supportive.

Yes, I took a lot from CPC. But this little lesson on not cleaning up before the last child walks out the door was by far the most valuable.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I'm often asked why I enjoy the Children's Pastor's Conference so much. Unless you are in this grand adventure called "children's ministry" and unless you've been to a CPC, it's kind of hard to explain. The typical expression about drinking out of the proverbial fire hydrant is close to the truth, but even that fails to account for what I take away from CPC each year I go. The workshops, the general sessions with the overwhelming worship and great speakers, and the opportunity to meet and fellowship with others who share a passion for children's ministry makes it all worth it.

Up high, looking down on the courtyard where we are welcomed to CPC

The resource center, where we can meet, greet, get information, buy stuff, and even get a freebie or two (or dozen)

Preschool favorite Miss Patty Cake!

The high adventure superhero known as Bibleman (Bibleman is the one on the right, just in case you were having trouble telling the difference).

On Tuesday night, I was honored to be a part of an informal Kidology gathering at one of the resteraunts here at the convention center. Kidology is an online resource network that is packed with helpful articles, ideas, and a discussion forum. Several Kidology members were at the CPC and so we got together for some soft drinks and discussion. It was great to finally put names and flesh-n-blood faces together with men and women I've interacted with on the computer. If any Kidology members are reading this, it was great to meet you all!

Karl Bastian, the Kidologist

And one final picture...

This picture is for the benefit of my co-workers and co-laborers back home at EPCBC. They think they know me sooooooo well as to know whether I ate this or not. Yeah...they think they know me soooooooo well. Sooooooooo well. Uh-huh!

Okay, I didn't eat it....but you think you know me sooooooooo well! Huh? I'm going to bed!

Monday, March 03, 2008


What do a shopping center, a 100 year old building, and a state of the art multi-acre complex have in common? Answer: they were all stops on the annual CPC Pre-Conference Church Tour. The church tour is one of my favorite parts of CPC, because I can get ideas about environments and "theme-ing out" rooms and areas. And though many of the churches I have visited over the years have a budget that outscales ours, some of their decorating leans more toward creativity than purchase-power.

Our first stop was local: North Coast Church in Vista. This church acquired a good chunk of a shopping center and turned it into a multi-building, multi-venue campus. I was impressed by their organization and creativity (I don't have all my pics to share in this post, but I have to say that the Narnia room was incredible!)

Entrance to the children's section, with canopied check-ins

One of the large group gathering areas.

First Christian Church of Huntington Beach seemed a long way from San Diego, but the ride actually took me within a short hop of where my wife and I used to live when we resided in the Fountain Valley/Huntington Beach area. This is a very old building which has gone through a lot of changes and transitions in the area of children's ministry. The church is going to be building a new facility soon, but in the meantime, they get points for creatively using resources to effect a theme.

The section where the children's ministries are held

The treehouse room...what if a kid designed and built it? That's the idea!

The tek room for the older kids. Amazing what some donated tvs and some tubing can help create.

The last stop on the tour was Mariner's Church in Irvine. Oh my! If there was an epitome of the word "mega-church", it would be this sprawling campus. The kids building looks like a corporate headquarters of a major business. Inside, of course, is the most important business of all: kids. Still, I saw evidences of decidedly low-tech, low-budget touches in this incredibly sophisticated building.

All I can say is "wow"

Early childhood staging area

4th and 5th grade staging area. Notice the gift-wrapped boxes in the back...hey! I can do that!