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!