Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Leaving Town

Oh, my goodness. It's more work to get ready to go on vacation than it's worth!

I am slightly embarrassed to tell you that I had to pay a fine for a seat belt ticket I received last year. As I was in the hospital the first part of March, I didn't get to DMV to renew my driver license yet because my license expired on my March 7 birthday (keep that on your calendar!). So, yesterday I went and paid the fine at the courthouse. Paid extra for them to expedite the release so I could get my license renewed the same day. Went to DMV, filled out all the paperwork, went up to the counter to get it all completed. The man looks it over, looks at me and said, "You know you have to take the written test this year, right?" You should have seen the look on my face! I didn't have time to study. I just went over to the next line, got the test and marked it as best as I could. Glory be.....I got 100%. Wow, what a relief.

Just so you know, and you can't tell anybody this. I may be the only person you know who has been cited for a seat belt violation and ticket in two countries. Several years ago, I even got a seat belt ticket in Costa Rica. Paid the cop $20 and it was taken care of on the spot.

Anyway, Sondra and I leave tomorrow heading to Shawnee, Oklahoma. This weekend is the family reunion for the Bergeron clan of the Potawatomi tribe. My mother is from the lineage of the Bergerons. Our tribal headquarters happen to be in Shawnee also, so it will be a grand affair the whole weekend.

Sondra is finishing up her school year and teaching career tomorrow as well. She is stressing over what to keep, what to throw away, how to get it all done.

I went today and rented a car. It's a Kia Spectra and it's supposed to get good gas mileage. It better, with the price of gas around here. We rented a car because we do not want a repeat of our Christmas trip fiasco with the Malibu dying on us in New Mexico. So, that is taken care of.

Now, it's the work of getting the clothes washed, dried and bags packed. Oh, well, we'll get it done.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Weekend

It was an interesting week leading up to Father's Day.

Last week our landlord was cited by the city for overgrown trees and shrubs around our house. He usually takes care of the yard but his health has prevented it lately. My health did not allow me to do the hard task of cutting big tree limbs either. So, I asked a man in the church who does not have employment at this time to help me. He was so agreeable and happy to help. Each day for three days, I would pick him up and he would work diligently in the yard. And each day after a long hot time of toiling with a chainsaw and leaf bags, he would look at me with great sincerity and say, "Thank you for letting me do this. Thank you for trusting me to help." Of course, I thanked him profusely for his generous time and effort. In fact, I was very humbled by his attitude. He worked hard and thanked me so much for the opportunity to help!

It reminded me again that each one of us needs to be needed. Each one of us needs to feel we are special and useful to someone. I have had several individuals in my pastoral journey look at me and cry, "I'm not special to anyone." There is no response to this that is satisfying to a person with low self-esteem, one who is wallowing in pity or who does not feel loved. There is no human response that is acceptable to that individual. However, and this is the best answer, there is a God who loves you and keeps you and never turns you away. You really are special. You really are needed. You really are loved. And it's the Heavenly Father who tells us that. When we don't feel loved by those around us, we only have to look up and feel the abundant love from above. That's all we need!

And that's what Father's Day was all about. Being needed and being special. In my sermon yesterday, I talked about the three main aspects of the job description for any father. As a dad, I must provide, protect and instruct. That's my job. I love my kids, and I did my best to give them the material things they needed, to give them protection from harm and danger, and to give them knowledge about how to live and love and think and make priorities and have a spiritual walk. I want the best for my kids.

But, the greatest thing in all of life is to know the Father who sits on the throne of the Ages. I can go to my Father in Heaven. Guess what? He wants the best for me, more than I could ever imagine or desire. He provides for my every need, protects me from every harm, and gives me amazing direction and understanding for both temporal and eternal life. God loves us most!

Yesterday was a wonderful Father's Day. We went to dinner and I had a delicious rib dinner. Me and food get along great. Maybe too well. Anyway, me and Sondra and Evan and Crystal and Shawn and, of course, little baby Bailey, all crowded around a restaurant table and we had a blessed evening together. We went back to Shawn and Crystal's and they all gave me cards and new clothes. Guess what? No ties! Don't need those anymore, anyway. And just being together made it special. Didn't need the gifts, but they sure are fun to get.

Jason called from Oklahoma and made it real special too. Got to talk to grandson Jace. He seems so grown up at times. While he was back here a few weeks ago, I was watching the old, old shows on the Encore Western channel on TV, and I happened to watch the old "Cheyenne" show with Clint Walker. Jace watched it with me several times. He's hooked now. He went home and now watches it. On the phone yesterday, he said, "Papa G, I've taped five shows of Cheyenne. We'll watch them when you get here." Life is good. It was a great Father's Day!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fair Questions

It has been interesting to talk to some folks who have just started attending our church. They have very little church background and, as they admit, very limited understanding of the Bible.

We have been going through the book of Genesis in our Wednesday evening Bible study time at church. The young lady asked me some questions about Christianity and salvation. She said this was the first time she had really started reading the Bible. Her questions were the ones we hear from those who are curious about how God works in this world. Is Jesus the only way? What about other religions and beliefs, if their followers are good and sincere? What happens to those in faraway forests of the world who have never heard the gospel and therefore have not believed?

I love sitting down and talking with those who are seeking to know God and to know the truth as shown in Scripture.

This is my conclusion about those who have questions about the Bible and God. Those who are hungry for spiritual joy and peace are the ones who have the least problems with the answers to hard questions about God's grace and love. The ones who have the most difficulty with God's plan of redemption are the ones who try to see it from an intellectual perspective or who have had experiences in the past which seem to hinder their ability to embrace the whole of Scripture. Many still have a hard time with the hypocrites who claim to be Christians.

Yes, Jesus is the only way. No, those who follow other religions cannot inherit eternal life, because goodness and sincerity do not give anyone a pass to heaven. For those who have never heard, the Bible is clear that God will speak to their hearts in a way they can understand. We find verses that tell us that if God's people do not speak truth, the rocks will even cry out the great message. Yes, there are many who claim to follow God's way but live a life that contradicts the commands and morals of the Bible. That does not negate God's plan, but rather shows the goodness of God to still love those who are imperfect. God is not limited by our abilities and inabilities, our obedience and disobedience. God's desire is that all men and women and boys and girls will be saved, being the ones who will enjoy eternal life in heaven with him. That's the greatest love imaginable.

This new couple is talking about total surrender to Jesus and following through in baptism. They are excited about what God can do in their lives. What a joy!

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Weekend

Weekends sure go by quickly.

Last Friday night, we took care of our new grandbaby Bailey. She is two months old now and becoming more active with her smiling and little goo-goo noises. Shawn and Crystal went out for the evening, so we told them we would keep Bailey all night. It is such a joy to see this little one grow. And, I must admit, I had forgotten how time-consuming it is to take care of such a little one until we took care of Bailey overnight.

On Saturday morning, I met a church lady at a storage place to reserve a unit. We are collecting items for several church yard sales this summer, and my friend requested and got a unit free of charge for three months for the church. Since I am the pastor, I filled out the necessary paperwork. The rest of the day I spent in preparation for Sunday.

Sunday was a great day. Our good friends, the Wahlens, came to be with us in church. Bruce and Margaret are such a blessing with their friendship. They were members of the church I pastored in San Diego. Margaret led our Praise and Worship time yesterday in our worship hour and then sang a solo. The song was about thanking God for the storms of life, so that we could depend on his power and grace and know him more fully.

Their grandson, the miracle baby Ethan, came with daughter Sarah and her husband Ashly, as well. Ethan's premature birth brought many health complications, but God was so faithful as we prayed and prayed and prayed for those many months. Ethan is two and is so cute. His dad Ashly brought him to the front of the sanctuary for introduction and the church members clapped spontaneously for the joy of this miracle. Ethan basked in the applause and it was a sight to behold.

My sermon message was titled, "Who Do You Think You Are?" We have various perceptions about ourselves, but what God says about us is the only thing that is true. If we are part of the Kingdom, we are his CHILD. If we are his child, we are CHANGED. If we are changed, we are CHOSEN for a good work. It's an awesome thing to know who we are and whose we are!

After church, we went to Sundowner's Restaurant and had a wonderful time of fellowship with the Wahlens. Shawn and Crystal were at church, brought Bailey and joined us for lunch too.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Just Starting A Blog

This is very interesting to start something new. I have never blogged before, never intended to blog, never had a desire to blog. But, then, I began reading the blogs of others and it was indeed fun to keep up with the simple things of life that happen to family and friends. When it takes too long to email or phone everyone, this takes a few minutes to keep everyone up to date.

So, I will make this one short. It's my beginning.

When I haved worked with parolees in the Christian setting these past years, it is always great to talk about "second chances" and new beginnings. New starts help us re-evaluate old habits and also help us look at various things in life with a different perspective. Some things we will discard, such as bad habits or false opinions or unhealthy lifestyles. Some things we will embrace and often we may reacquaint our minds and hearts to be more focused and to be more attuned to the precious aspects of life.

Since my heart attack and bypass surgery several months ago, it gave me pause to think of many things in a fresh and new light. There are truths that impact us again. Today is all we have. There is no guarantee for tomorrow. More than ever, I now take each day with a sense of joy and excitement about its possibilities.

I talk to some whose outlook on life is gloomy and depressing. That is no way to live. Some ask me if life is even worth living, seeing the dreadful economy and the struggles in faraway nations.

The answer is a resounding "yes." Yes. Yes. Yes! I wouldn't trade my life in Jesus for any amount of money, prestige, power or looks (even though I have this last one covered...ha ha). The peace that I have each day, the satisfaction that I possess and express, the fun that life brings each moment. These are what makes life worthwhile. I love it!