Monday, August 31, 2009

Great Expectations

My message yesterday was titled "Great Expectations." 

From the account in 1 Samuel, we looked at the story of David and Goliath.  All the others in the army of Israel were afraid to face the giant.  Not so with the young man named David.  He had experience with God's presence and power to kill the lion and the bear when he was but a shepherd boy in the field with the flock. 

When Goliath defied the God of Israel, David could stand it no longer.  He said, "I will go and fight the heathen.  My God is greater than any man who defies the Lord."  David went, killed the giant Goliath and the Philistine army ran.

David's great expectation was in the power of a mighty God.  David said, "My God will fight this fight.  It is not mine."  Our expectations in the face of chaos and misery and hurt and challenges and obstacles can only be high if we know God is in the battle to fight for us.

I was reminded, however, that God does not do it alone while we sit idly by.  We must do our part.  David had to pick up the stones and use his sling shot.  God directed the stone, but David was on mission and did what he needed to do too.

Yes, I am an eternal optimist.  God is able.  I will trust him.  Our finances are tight, because of limited income after Sondra's retirement.  We are both looking to find other ways to increase our finances, as we must do our part as well.  However, God has been so good.  A few weeks ago, a man who wishes to remain anonymous gave me a couple thousand dollars to catch up on our bills.  He is also helping us with a down payment for a vehicle.

I have a certain amount of pride and I do not want to manipulate others into helping me, so I do not broadcast our needs openly.  But God knows them and does miraculous things.  Yesterday, a lady gave Sondra some cash to help us out.  At the same time, another lady gave me an envelope with money in it and said, "This is for you."

I continue to be amazed at the amazing goodness of a God who loves me and knows my every need.  He puts it in the hearts of others to bless, and we are so humbled.

My expectations for God's provision is as high as the heavens, as that is where all sufficiency comes from.  You will have various battles and giants to face this week.  I hope your expectations are high as you serve and live for a wonderful Savior.  Trust is the key.  Let us trust fully and joyfully.

When we do, there will be a R.I.O.T. (Revival In Our Time).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Family Photo

Some of you have not seen my kids and their spouses and all my grandkids in one picture.  Here they are. This is the Galen Greenwalt clan, taken a couple of months ago.
                                 From left to right:
Son-in-law Shawn, baby Bailey and daughter Crystal Marcum;
Grandson Jace(standing), daugher-in-law Shelly and son Jason;
Sondra, son Evan, grand-daughter Kylee (Jason and Shelly's) and me.
This was taken at one of Sondra's retirement ceremonies at the Rialto school district meeting at the end of May 2009.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

First Attempt to Post Photo

Because I am new at this, I will try to put a picture in this blog.  This is my first try.
This is me and Sondra down in San Diego for the wedding a few weekends ago.

Goldwater Quote

A good friend of mine for many years apparently has some pause to reflect on the current climate of our Christian culture. It seems like this friend is equating Christianity (and those with strong religious beliefs) with the "right wing crazies" that are shown on some newscasts. He didn't say it, but it is what the quote made me feel.

In a recent blog, he inserted a quote from Barry Goldwater, a Republican senator from Arizona and a presidential candidate years ago. This quote is from 1981:

"There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent.

"If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me...that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A, B, C, and D. Just who do they think they are?"

Oh, Mr. Goldwater, I am so glad you asked. (Goldwater died on 1998, but I will still answer him because it is relevant today.)

First, you say religious people are immovable and trying to force the government into following their position. Look at television and radio broadcasts today. I challenge you to say that the "non-religious" faction is not immovable and trying to force the government into following their position. Do you understand? Both sides (Christians and atheists, the conservatives and the liberals) feel passionate and want their ideas to be heard and followed. That is not wrong. It is who we are. We must be fully committed to what we believe and trust and understand, because our spiritual nature comes out in our physical nature and world view. So, yes, we as Christians are immovable and trying to make change. Hallelujah!

Second, Mr. Goldwater, you say that you are tired of the political preachers across the country telling you what to believe. Well, the preachers became silent for some time and came to be understood as the "silent majority." It has been high time that the preachers of today proclaim truth and Biblical justice and morality with boldness again. We need a great revival in our land. Atheism and various non-Christian political agendas will not bring needed hope and joy and purity to our world. Only Jesus can do that. I have debated, cajoled, talked, cussed and discussed with many atheists and agnostics over the years of my ministry. I have never had any atheist tell me about the profound joy of life, the great purpose of living or the exciting miracles that have happened through their "belief" system, and we must agree that atheism is a belief system of sorts. So, I am happy to be a part of the renewal of the Christain faith. Praise God for preachers and lay Christians who stand up and tell others what they as Christians believe! It's about time.

Third and last, Barry (I'm going to get personal now), if you want to be a moral person, where will you get your moral base? From philosophy, or secular humanism, or personal introspection? I think not. Those all have a base in something else. There is a final point of view, a ground floor, from which we gain our perspective and viewpoints. It's either the Bible or from someone who is human (who has taught a certain value). Barry, where do you get your morals and values? Will it be from someone long ago (or even present-day) who you will trust for your belief system? Or will you rely on God's Word as the final authority? For me, it's the Bible with Jesus as central for my faith. I rejoice that I have such a foothold and base to stand on!

So, Mr. Goldwater, if you were here today I would lovingly and proudly tell you about my faith in Jesus if you would let me. I am not high and mighty to think that I sit on the throne of "greatest knowledge" that no one else can attain. No, I am but a simple individual who has found indescribable joy and unparalleled peace through my personal relationship with a God who loves me more than I can ever know.

And I hope my friend from years ago still has pause to reflect on the current Christian climate. It's not what it needs to be, but Christians are merely human beings too. We as Christians just have a mighty hope from above that we live for. And, yes, I want everyone else to have it too!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities

This is a tale of two cities. San Diego and Desert Center. Both are in California.

San Diego is a city that lies right on the Pacific, just above the border from Tijuana, Mexico. The weather is moderate almost all year round. The palm trees wave in the bright blue sky. The smell of ocean breeze when driving the coast is comforting. It is a destination for many tourists and visitors. The population is close to 1.4 million, which makes it the second-largest city in California and the 17th largest in the United States.

Desert Center is a little town about 40 miles from the Arizona border on Interstate 10. It is in the middle of nowhere, stuck between Blythe and Indio in the California desert. It is a ghost town of what it used to be. The Kaiser mine, just a few short miles away, closed many years ago. There is a golf course now and two small lakes (Lake Tamarisk) for the residents and the many "snow birds" who descend on the small town in the winter months. The population almost triples when the seasonal visitors come and stay. The sign on the highway says the population is 125. It is not unusual for the temperatures in Desert Center to reach 120 degrees, I was told by residents there.

And that is why I mention these two cities. I was in both of them over the weekend.

Friday afternoon, Sondra and I drove down to the Silver Strand on Coronado Island in San Diego. Our good friends, Gene and Pam Ressler who still live in 29 Palms, were there as they had set up their fifth-wheel RV trailer just a few feet away from the water of the bay. It was a relaxing week for them in retirement (even though Gene still works to keep busy), and we were invited to come down. We arrived in time to eat dinner at Anthony's Seafood Restaurant on the wharf with them, taking little grand-daughter Bailey with us also.

Sondra and I spent the night at the Holiday Inn directly across the street from the restaurant, so that was convenient. I had gone online prior to bid on a room via and was successful in getting that room for $57 for the night.

The next day we sat on the waterfront with Gene and Pam, just talking and catching up on news about each other's families. We ate, shared good memories, talked of church life, opened up our hearts, laughed and cried, and were sad to leave at the end of the day. It was a wonderful time and we didn't want it to end. But we had to go home.

Sunday, we were blessed in our time of Bible study and worship. At the end of the service, I met with a homeless couple that introduced themselves to me earlier in the week at Fairmount Park. I had been asked to speak at the Third Year Anniversary of our ministry for feeding the homeless at the park. This couple (Steven and Carrie) came to our worship service Sunday and are interested in getting married in the church. They want to be baptized as well, so we are excited about what God is doing in their lives.

Then, Sunday afternoon I left on a little journey to Desert Center. Clif Sanford and Christina Kennedy live there, and they had asked me some time back to marry them. Clif was an inmate at Chuckawalla Prison with my brother David last year. When Clif found out that I was a pastor from conversations with David, he told David that he was going to have me do his wedding when he got out. Some months back, Clif got out and we have been in touch all year about a marriage date.

I arrived in Desert Center about 5 pm at their house, which was right across the street from little Lake Tamarisk where the wedding would take place. It was a simple ceremony with no music, no chairs, no suits and no fanfare. Just a few family members and friends from the community. It was great. Later when we had the ceremony, the sun was setting, the breeze was cool and everyone was in fine spirits. Clif was in blue jeans, cowboy shirt and cowboy hat. Christina was in a pretty blouse and white pants.

I drove home that night thinking of the two cities, San Diego and Desert Center. Both were special to me because I had shared in the lives of two very different couples. The geographical and physical description of a city doesn't make it any better than another. It's what happens in every city that makes the difference.

We had fun in San Diego with the Resslers, and I had fun doing a wedding ceremony for the Sanford family. I had a great weekend. I felt God's presence in so much that was going on all weekend long. Life should be fun, and God helps make it that way!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cash for Clunkers

Sondra and I have been busy these past couple of weeks trying to buy a new car for cheap. Part of that pursuit is because of the government program called Cash for Clunkers. We have an old 1995 Ford 12-passenger van with the seats removed, and we use it like a pickup truck. It gets about 8-10 miles per gallon, so we knew it would qualify for the CARS program.

We thought it would be an easy process. Find an inexpensive gas-saving small car, turn in the clunker, pay for the car and leave.

Wrong. There are so many restrictions. The vehicle needs to be registered for the past 12 months. Must have been insured continuously for the past 12 months. Must have been in your name for the past 12 months. Must be in running condition when brought to the dealer. Must have a clear title (pink slip).

Fortunately, our van fit the bill for all those rules.

Unfortunately, the van is considered a Class 3 truck because it has a GVW (gross vehicle weight) of over 8500 pounds. That means that we are restricted to a Class 2 or Class 3 vehicle to purchase. Those vehicles are the big SUVs and big pickup trucks. We were stunned. We had a Nissan Sentra that we were looking at, one that gets 35 mpg. The salesman came back and said, "Sorry, you can't buy that Sentra under this program. But we do have the Frontier and the Armada that will fit that restriction."

Sure. For double the price and almost half the miles per gallon. Someone didn't think this one through on the government level. If you want me to be more fuel efficient, let me buy any car that gets good gas mileage. Don't make me buy a big vehicle, just because it fits the "truck" designation. I don't have the money, I don't have the inclination for it, I don't like it!

Well, I still have the van. And I don't have a new car yet. I have only enough money for half the vehicle they say I have to buy. Sorry, my pockets are empty.

I know there is a lesson to be learned in all this that we have gone through. Driving to so many dealerships, some even in the Los Angeles area about 50 miles away. Talking to so many salesmen (and saleswomen). Looking at every aspect of money and trying to pay cash only. There is a lesson, but I don't want to know it yet. I'm still smiling but not in a new car! Ha.

Thanks for letting me vent!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Absolutely Too Much

This past week was so tiring but so fulfilling. It is amazing how busy we can be doing the work of the Lord, yet feel strong and refreshed when being at the right task at the right time to meet needs. Sometimes, I will admit, I am busy just with busy work of ministry administration. And that is not the same as ministry that meets needs of individuals at their point of hurt at that very moment. So I have to be careful and mindful of what is really important each day!

I continue to help with the Sober Living program for parolees at Coronado Stone manufacturing plant in Fontana. A new resident came last week and I got to sit down with him for some time, asking about his background and life. He has lost everything - job, kids, wife, marriage, money, house. But he has found a deep relationship with Jesus that makes life worth living. It is not easy, but God is faithful to give us strength for each day.

Over the weekend, Sondra and I went down to San Diego as I had been asked some time back to do a wedding there. I had met with the young couple several times earlier, naturally, and everything went well. They got married at Tom Ham's Lighthouse Restaurant on the San Diego harbor. The weather was perfect, the view was spectacular, and everyone had a wonderful time.

We stayed both Friday and Saturday nights at the Town and Country Hotel and actually took care of our grand-daughter Bailey, as Shawn and Crystal came for the wedding also. That made the weekend special too.

We left early Sunday morning to get to church on time. I had lined up one of the ordained ministers in our church (Pastor George Nelson) to preach. In addition, we had Rabbi Blue lead our time of praise and worship singing. You will be able to see photos on my church web site ( ) when I can finally get time to update it.

Then, after church, a group of us (mainly the men from the Sober houses) went to have lunch at the Dining Commons of California Baptist University about 10 miles away. Great food and an awesome time of fellowship. There was 32 of us for lunch!

Following that, Sondra and I went to a memorial service for Margaret Clouter, a friend and former attender of our church. Her daughter, Vicki Park, was a member of our church and brought her many times to worship with us before Margaret's health declined. The service was at First Baptist Church in Pomona in nearby Los Angeles county.

With a little time between ministry activity, I called my mom yesterday afternoon. It was her birthday. She turned 86 years old, and is still active in church and teaching a Sunday School class every week. She was in the hospital recently and diagnosed with pneumonia, but she is now recovering and getting stronger again each day. She is an amazing woman who has influenced many lives through her lifestyle, prayer life, church work and parenting!

After a short break and rest, George Nelson and I went to an Ordination Service at La Sierra Baptist Church in Riverside. Three men, all of whom had been members or attended our church, were ordained as deacons to serve in ministry ways. It was a very special time as we were included in the moving ceremony and prayer time.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I will give a 10-minute devotional at Coronado Stone, as the owner is a Christian and has an open devotion time inside the plant for all to participate in if they so choose to come and listen. I love the opportunity and it has led to many relationships to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with many. I have baptized quite a few from the corporate setting because of this ministry opportunity.

Again, it was a busy week and weekend with little time to relax, but it is a truth that God's goodness and grace and love and power are all absolutely too much to miss out on! Hope you are having a great time in the Lord as well.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Quakes Baseball Game

Last week went by way too fast. Last Wednesday, I gave the devotional message at a manufacturing plant that I used to work for - Coronado Stone in Fontana. It is always a treat to see old friends and share a brief message of hope and salvation.

On Friday, we took a trip down to the Los Angeles area to look at the new Kia cars. They are having a tremendous sale on Spectras. The "cash for clunkers" program offers $4500 in incentive and the Kia incentive on the Spectra is $3500, for a total of $8000 off the list price. We are considering a purchase, but the "cash for clunkers" program is full of red tape and restrictions. We'll see.

Yesterday was Sunday, and we had a country western gospel band in concert. Wayne Landes and his band Southland led us in worship. Wayne has been a friend since my Cal Baptist days in the late 1970s. Southland played at the Orange County fair last week. They have played for the California Southern Baptist Convention pastors' conference in years past, and a couple of years ago we attended a concert where Southland opened for Roy Clark here in the Inland Empire.

At the close of the service, I invited anyone and everyone who was willing to follow in commitment for the RIOT (Revival In Our Time) movement to come forward and put their signed sheets on the altar. Nearly half the congregation came forward to do so!

Then, yesterday afternoon we had a great time of fellowship. Two of the young ladies in our church (they are sisters) were chosen to sing the National Anthem at the baseball game between the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and the San Jose Giants, teams in the minor league system. We purchased a block of 69 tickets in advance, and we had a great time of relaxation and recreation at the ball park nearby. What a fun time! It is such a blessing to go with a group that has such an amazing love and friendship one with another.

I am blessed beyond measure to be pastor of The Vision Plus Church!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Will You Help Me Start a RIOT in America?

Yesterday I preached a message at church that I had been working on for a couple of months. It was one of those sermons that God burned in my belly for a long time.

To summarize it, I started with the revival and renewal period of Israel under Ezra and Nehemiah in the Old Testament. Then, I talked about the day of Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus and the great turning of souls to the Lord by the thousands. I further shared the history of the First Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening and the Spiritual Awakening of the early 20th century. In all of these times, thousands were converted. Both the lifestyle and moral fabric of the nations (America, England, Wales, Scotland, Australia, Canada) were impacted by the Christian gospel.

In all of those, it started out in a small geographic location with a few people who were dedicated and wholly submitted to God's will.

In every situation, the hunger and cry of the unsaved was met by the preaching of the gospel message by both trained and untrained preachers. It was the power of the Good News that brought salvation to thousands and thousands.

I challenged our small congregation to join me in starting a new Spiritual Awakening in our land. We average about 75 -100 in worship. We meet in a small building. We do not have much money, and we truly wait to pay our church bills week by week. We have a large contingent of homeless and parolee attenders. Many of our people are unemployed or under-employed. But we are powerful in spirit and love.

I titled my message "R.I.O.T." I used the sentence, "Let's start a R.I.O.T. in America." The letters of RIOT stand for "Revival In Our Time." So, let's start a revival in our time in America. A spiritual renewal is needed.

I printed out the bulk of my message and inserted it into the worship service bulletin for the day. Included in it was a listing of 10 pursuits that we as God's people must pay attention to. By seeking to follow these pursuits, it will help us usher in a spiritual renewal in us personally, in our local church, in our area and in our world. At the bottom of that paper was a signature line for them to sign. I had them come forward at the invitation and commitment time at the close of the worship hour. I asked them to sign the sheet openly and then pronounce out loud for all to hear these words: "I love the Lord Jesus with all my heart."

It was a great time of outpouring of dedication and surrender. I am excited to see how God works in the weeks to come. If you would like to join this movement, please write to me at and I will give you more information.