Sunday, February 28, 2010

Randy Galloway

Torie, Randy and his wife MaryAnn

Galen, Randy, MaryAnn and Sondra

Randy Galloway spoke at our church today.

He has an incredible story to tell.  In a small Texas town at age 18, he was working at a job trying to start out young to earn a good living.  On the job one day, he was holding the wires of an air conditioning unit on the 6th story roof and someone accidentally turned the power on.  The man who was working with him was thrown off the roof to the ground and died.  Randy said the power surge of high voltage electricity passed through his right arm and out his left arm, tearing off both arms and setting his clothes on fire.  In addition he was thrown from the roof to a lower roof, but somehow survived until help arrived.  After a year and a half in the hospital and 38 surgeries later, he walked out with no arms and a determination to do God's bidding.

His physical tragedy did not stop him from completing his undergraduate and then doctoral studies.  It did not stop him from going around the world in service to the Lord.  Presently he is part of a group from Lubbock, Texas, that goes to China to partner with government agencies to help them in their social programs and education.  The country of China is ripe for the gospel and hundreds are coming to a saving faith and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

One of our best friends, Torie Anderson, just recently came back from a trip in which she had been asked by Randy to meet with the victims (teachers and educators) of the great China earthquake of a few years ago.  It has been evident that both the teachers and children were so traumatized and had no way of expressing their fears, grief and pain.  The children began to be behavior problems, which is never an issue in the governmental system of education there.  It was because the children were acting out their inner emotions and did not know how to deal with it constructively.  Many teachers committed suicide in the face of this classroom problem, as they felt they could not cope and go on because they must be "bad teachers."  How sad.

Torie was the first Westerner (and American) to come and be able to present ways of coming to terms emotionally with the tragedy, and she presented this from the educator side of life.  Torie is a retired teacher, and she had been a co-worker with Sondra at the Myers Elementary School in Rialto for many years.  As a side note, Torie and her husband (Bob) attended California Baptist College (now University) with me back in 1968-1969, before I dropped out and got drafted!

So, today Randy was scheduled to be at Magnolia Avenue Baptist Church in Riverside at 11 am this morning, so we had him come to our worship service (which starts at 10 am) and speak for 30 minutes.  So, you see, we flip-flopped the worship service to accomodate his schedule.  We had the preaching first, and then the singing at the end of the service!  We are just not very traditional every Sunday!  It was a wonderful day to be at church.  God touched our hearts as Randy challenged us to think about being a partner on a wonderful adventure to share our faith in China later this year.

Sondra and I are praying to see if God is moving in us to go in August of this year, as we have been asked to help in this mission effort as teachers and educators.

For more information about Randy and his ministry, go to which is the site for Partners in Development Worldwide.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Starbucks?  I don't even go to Starbucks, mainly because I don't drink coffee.  Also, because I am stingy and I want to pay cheaper prices on my hot drinks.

Anyway, a lady in my office named Roberta came in Tuesday morning with her coffee and muffin from Starbucks.  She exclaimed, "I just got this free because someone in a car ahead of me paid for mine."  Here's the whole story.  Another woman driving through Starbucks was listening to a Christian radio station, and the announcer challenged each Christian listening to do a kind deed for someone they did not know (the "pay it forward" concept).  This anonymous lady told the cashier that she wished to pay for her own personal order and the order of the next two cars behind her.  Roberta was the second car behind.  The cashier told Roberta the story when he wouldn't take her money to pay.  Guess what Roberta did?  Yep.  She paid for the person's order in the car behind her!  It was a great start to a morning in our office, as we talked of the goodness of God and his people.

Wednesday night, our Truth Project continued at church.  The topic was Theology: The Study of God.  We looked at the study of the existence, nature and attributes of God.  Further, we looked at the topic of "eternal life," which in Scripture says that eternal life is found in Jesus.  Jesus, in John 17, prayed that all "may know you (God the Father)" through personal communion and relationship.  It is by knowing God fully through experience and love, not through clinical understanding or intellectual pursuit, that we find grace and redemption.

The great apostle Paul and the great preacher of old named Charles Haddon Spurgeon both proclaimed that by saying, "I want to know Christ..."

Sadly, there have been many who have called Christians foolish and said that the Bible a fairy tale book.  In 1776, Voltaire said, "One hundred years from my day there will not be a Bible in the earth, except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity seeker."  Basically, he was saying there would only be copies of Bibles in the museums of the world.  Ingersoll, the famed atheist, was quoted:  "In 15 years I will have this book (the Bible) in the morgue."  Fifteen years later, Ingersoll was in the morgue and still later, his desk was used by a preacher to write sermons!  "It took 12 men to start Christianity; one will destroy it."  What do you think of that?

The Bible is clear.  In 1 Peter 1:24-25, we find that "the Word of the Lord stands forever."  It was an interesting Wednesday evening discussion at church.

Yesterday, we took care of grand-daughter Bailey again for the afternoon.  She is so sweet (most of the time) as she approaches her first birthday.  Her birthday is April 4, and this year it falls on Easter Sunday.  How appropriate, when the theme for that day will be specifically about life!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sondra's Birthday

This past weekend was four days of celebration for Sondra's birthday.  It's fun to celebrate and even better to have a reason...haha.

Friday night we went to Sundowners for dinner.  Great prices, very good food.

Saturday, I did errands and preparations for Sunday church.  Sondra picked up Bailey to have some special "grandma time."  We had Bailey overnight as well, and Sondra did not get much sleep, as the grandbaby woke up several times during the night.  On Saturday afternoon, I bought some flowers, two birthday cards, a "love" CD by Reba McIntyre, a big white fluffy bear with a box of chocolates, and a big birthday balloon.

The next day (Sunday), Crystal and Shawn came to church and were proud to announce to us that they slept just fine all through the night (chuckle)!  After church we went to El Pollo Loco for a very light snack, as we were making plans for dinner.  Evan and Callie, Shawn and Crystal and Bailey all took us for a Birthday Dinner at the Castaway restaurant in San Bernardino high up on the hill overlooking the valley.  Sondra had lobster and filet mignon, especially since the kids were paying for it!  The kids (including Jason and Shelly from Oklahoma) had put their money together to buy Sondra a comforter and two pillows that she had admired at Christmas.  She was surprised and pleased.

Monday was a work day for me, but a day off for Sondra.  She picked up Bailey again and had more "grandma time" before she and Crystal took Bailey for some pictures at Penneys.  In the afternoon, she also visited with some friends in the church, Ken and Beifei Edwards.  Beifei is from Beijing and has "adopted" us as her American parents.  After that, Sondra came home when I got off work and we went to Market Broiler, as Monday was her actual day of birthday (February 22).  She ordered shrimp and tri-tip steak, and I had double shrimp.  Both were delicious.

In other news, I did something very different at church.  Instead of just asking for testimonies, I told them to come forward and donate a "happy dollar" and share what God has been doing in their lives.  ("Happy dollar" time is what we did at Kiwanis meetings when I was a member some years ago, so I borrowed the idea and applied it to our church worship hour Sunday.)  It was amazing.  We spent almost ten minutes with a multitude of folks coming forward to put in $1, $3 or $5 to give thanks to the Lord for his goodness.  It really was awesome.  In fact, one lady told me during the Welcome Time that followed that she didn't have any cash and she had thought about going to the convenience market/gas station down the street just to get some cash out of the ATM so she could come back and share.  (Even though I had told the congregation that I would put in a dollar for anyone who didn't have the money with them.)  Anyway, I told her I was going to call her up to the front to share, anyway.  She did.  And guess what?  After church, she went up to the store, got money from the ATM, came back and gave it to me to put in the "happy dollar" offering plate!

Can you believe it?  People were thrilled to give money to talk about the goodness of God!  That's the reality of knowing God and seeing his presence and goodness all around.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Truth Project

Our church has begun the series of lessons from The Truth Project.  This is a 12-week course that Focus on the Family has produced, and we are providing it for study on Wednesday evenings for adults and youth.  Mr. Darrell Smith, friend of the pastor and member of a church in Yucaipa, is leading our study.

We have completed the first three lessons.

Lesson One was designed to direct our thinking with regard to four fundamental issues:  Truth, God, Man, and the Social Order.  The question, the deep question Pilate asked Jesus, was, "What is truth?"  Jesus made the claim that all truth is embodied in him (as he is God incarnate).  All truth, with Jesus as central to it, divides the world into two opposing sides.  Contemporary culture stands in direct opposition to the Truth-centered worldview presented in the Bible.  The end of Lesson One came with a challenge:  "Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?"

Lesson Two was the introduction to Philosophy and Ethics as pillars to the foundation of Truth.  Webster stated in his 1828 edition dictionary:  "True religion and true philosophy must ultimately arrive at the same principle."  The definition of the word philosophy asserts that philosophy aims "to enlarge our understanding of God."  Opposed to that is Carl Sagan's assertion that "the cosmos is all there is or ever was or ever will be."  The problem with that is the exclusion of God which therefore leads to an understanding that is deprived of a universal reference point.  And thus, the scientific quest cannot answer the most basic questions about right and wrong behavior.  This lesson concludes with the words found in Romans chapter 12, verse 2:  What does it mean to be "transformed by the renewing of the mind?"

Lesson Three engages us in an in-depth examination of biblical and contemporary ideas about the nature of the human race.  What is man?  Where did he come from?  What is the meaning and purpose of his existence?  And, finally, why is there evil in this world?  The Bible teaches that man consists of both body and spirit and is created in the image of God.  Our culture assumes that man is purely material, the product of mindless and purposeless forces.  Scripture says man is fallen from the original state of innocence through rebellion against God.  The culture of godless philosophy and psychology asserts that man is "basically good" and needs to throw off the restraints of superimposed social conventions and institutions (moral standards) to pursue self-fulfillment.  The Bible reminds us that man must find redemption in God through faith and repentance.  This lesson has a question at the end:  "Why do non-believers and evolutionists find evil so troubling if man is allowed to pursue their base desires?"

Lesson Four, which we will study this coming Wednesday, is about:  "Who is God?"

Pictures from Homecoming

Here are some photos from the Homecoming weekend at California Baptist University.  I gave a short speech to award the Lancer Medallion to my friend Jim Murcray posthumously.  In order, you will see the following:

      CBU President Ron Ellis and Galen at the banquet.
      Sondra, Bailey and CBU Lancer mascot.
      Galen, Patty Murcray with medallion, and Sondra.
      Galen and Dr. Henry Blackaby at dinner.
      Galen's speech for Lancer medallion award.
      Entrance to California Baptist University.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Winding Down

It was an amazing four-day weekend for me, beginning on Friday.

Early in the morning on Friday, I did the memorial service for a war veteran who served in Korea and Viet Nam twice, being awarded the Bronze Star.  There were over 70 people at the graveside, the service being held at the Riverside National Cemetery.  The firing of the rifles and playing of "Taps" always makes my hair stand on end.  The family was so grateful to me and I received many comments from those I had never met.  It is incredible how using the 23rd Psalm still invokes such a response from people.

That afternoon, I was at the annual Alumni Association meeting for my alma mater, California Baptist University (as it was California Baptist College back when I attended).  I began my Cal Baptist experience as a freshman in 1968, and finally finished my degrees (B.A. and B.S.) both in 1978.  Yes, I was on the "ten year plan."  Getting married, serving in the Army and having a few kids delayed my pursuit of higher education "for a moment."

After the alumni meeting, the annual Homecoming Chapel was held with Dr. Henry Blackaby speaking, where I gave the Invocation Prayer.  It was as if God came and whispered his thoughts for us to hear.  Dr. Blackaby is working with 200 top CEOs in the Fortune 500 list.  God is doing incredible things with this man.  Last year, he sat next to the president of Liberia and is having constant contact about spiritual matters through that meeting.  Dr. Blackaby told us he doesn't know exactly when the return of Christ will be, but he said we must heed the warning signs that we see all around us.  He was merely pointing out the obvious, not trying to stir a rally about end times.

Friday evening was the annual Alumni Banquet and Awards Dinner.  I was honored to give a short presentation for the Lancer Medal to Jim Murcray posthumously.  His wife Patty accepted the medal for the family.  I also had the privilege of giving the Prayer of Benediction for the event, as Dr. Blackaby gave the Prayer of Invocation.

All day Saturday events were held at CBU to celebrate homecoming and also the institution's 60th year in existence.  A birthday cake cutting ceremony was held in the afternoon.  Several bands had been invited to play during the "block party" held for students, alumni and the community.  I was the coordinator behind the scenes to take care of the bands in the "green room" where they could relax and prepare.  The Block Party was held in the afternoon from 1 - 4 pm.  I sat in the sun and got a great tan.....ha ha.

Saturday evening, we skipped the school festivities to spend a little more time with Patty Murcray before she left to go back to her new home in Oklahoma City.  We went to the Claim Jumper restaurant and had another sweet time of fellowship and memories.

Sunday morning, I preached on "love" as it was Valentine's Day.  We had three baptisms and a wonderful service.  I spoke of God's love for us, and how we show our love to him in return.  It was a good sermon, even if I say so myself.....just kidding.  After church, a young man I know who had just got out of prison and then 60 days of rehab came up to me.  We talked at length about his life and need for Jesus.  He poured out his heart and made his confession through prayer right then.

That afternoon, we left for San Diego.  I had made reservations at the Sheraton Suites Hotel at Symphony Hall earlier (through Priceline, getting a scorching deal at $52 per night).  We arrived, checked in and then went to dinner in Old Town at the El Fandango restaurant.  I had the combination meal of taco, chile relleno and tamale with rice and beans.  Wonderful dinner for Valentine's Day with Sondra.

Our suite was sweet!  That morning we ate breakfast at Mimi's and then spent almost the whole day sunning ourselves in 70 degree weather at Mission Beach.  We bought a little shirt that had the imprint of "surfer" and took it to little grand-daughter Bailey on the way home that evening.

Now, I am winding down to gear up for what this week holds!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Homecoming Weekend

Tomorrow is Friday.  I start the day with a memorial service for a man who passed away recently.  My name was given to the family, and so I have been asked to lead the service at the Veterans Cemetery in Riverside.

In the afternoon, I will attend the Alumni Association meeting at California Baptist University in Riverside.  Tomorrow starts the two-day celebration of Homecoming weekend.  I have been the chairman for the alumni homecoming committee this past year.  This promises to be a wonderful time, as we not only welcome back the alumni for the Homecoming basketball game and all the activities, but also for the 60th year anniversary of the college (now a university).

Later in the day, we will have the annual Homecoming chapel service, with Dr. Henry Blackaby preaching.  He is well-known for his study entitled "Experiencing God," a tremendous 13-week series on finding a greater awareness of joining up with God in his (God's) divine plans.

At the close of the day, we will have an Alumni Dinner, with the annual awards to various individuals who merit recognition.  I will speak about Jim Murcray, my friend who recently passed on, as he is being awarded the Lancer Medal posthumously.  At the close of the dinner, I have been asked to close the time with the Prayer of Benediction.

On Saturday, I will be working the afternoon hours by coordinating the Christian artists and bands who will be singing on the stage during the Homecoming festivities.  I am excited to meet some of these individuals who are becoming more popular in the Christian music scene.

And then, there is Sunday which is Valentine's Day.  My sermon, of course, will touch on the subject of love and passion.  We must not only love our spouses, but also our dear family and friends and other loved ones.  But, most important, no love is real until we have experience true divine love from our great Lord above.  What love we know and are able to share with a world in need.

Sunday Sermon

I am blessed to have a job and a church and a wonderful family.  But I wish I had more time.  We all have the same amount of time in a day, indeed we all have 24 hours.  However, we must be careful with our time to make the most of it.  That's what is called "stewardship."  I fight the battle of time ever so much.

Last Sunday was Super Bowl Sunday, and naturally it meant that there was going to be a battle between two football teams to determine a champion.  I used that theme for my sermon.  We are in a battle for the sake of eternity.  We will have many challenges and tough times here on earth in preparation for our eternal home in heaven.

From 2 Chronicles 20, we find the battle between Judah and the opposing nations of Ammon and Moab.  The king of Judah (the Israelites) was Jehoshaphat, one who found favor with God.  Five important statements are found here.  (1) The battle is not yours, it is God's.  (2) Go and face the enemy with confidence.  (3) Be ready, be still and be watching.  (4) Fear not, never be afraid.  (5) Take time to submit to God in worship and praise.

We all face times of battle.  We call them spiritual warfare, testing, challenges and the "storms of life."  In the midst of the storms, we learn much.  (1) We learn the most about the spiritual realm during these times.  (2) We learn that God always shows up on time, never too early or too late.  (3) We realize that this is NOT the only storm we will ever face, as there will be more to come.  (4) The seven words that matter are the words Jesus said to his disciples:  "It is I, do not be afraid!"

To face the storms and difficulties, we must prepare.  Our spiritual preparation is threefold.  (1) Check out your spiritual passion.  Live the life of faith and love for God.  (2) Check up on your spiritual disciplines.  When prayer, Bible study, fellowship, giving, ministry, evangelism are missing, we fail and falter.  (3) Check in with your spiritual foundations.  Take time to be accountable not only to God above, but also to those who are spiritually mature in the faith and by knowing the Scriptures.

Some are in the storms of life, the battle that rages, even now.  We are victorious through Christ.  What a joy!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday Reflections

This has been a week in which I have felt spent physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I am trying to be very faithful in setting aside time to work out at the 24 Hour Fitness center nearby.  I am using the elliptical machine, the exercise bicycle, the rowing machine and the situp bench.  This morning I worked out for 75 minutes.  I am so excited about this weight loss recently.  I have lost 15 pounds in the last four weeks.

At church, we have started a ministry called "The Goodest Losers Club," since we can't use the title of "The Biggest Losers" from the TV show.  Ours is a ministry of accountability and commitment for those who are dedicated to losing weight and becoming more health-conscious.  We are having fun with it.

This past Wednesday evening, we started our first session on "The Truth Project," which is produced by Focus on the Family.  I highly recommend this to others.  It is an apologetic discussion on the real issues of life and faith and purpose.  The big question for us this week was, "Do you really believe what you believe is real?"  Deep thoughts came forth as we shared together.  It is a 13-week series and is powerful.

I am working full-time for the Census office and doing my pastoral duties after those work hours and on weekends.  I feel the drain of energy by the end of each day, but I seem to be sleeping better because of my workouts.

Today is Saturday, and I took time to go to a meeting at the local Southern Baptist association office for a sharing time with church planters.  It is always an uplifting time to hear what God is doing in the area as men strive to help others see the hope in Jesus.

Just this week, our church planter in the Chatsworth area of Los Angeles was feeling very weary and tired as he was faced with so much rejection as he talks to people there.  He and I talked at length, as he asked me how we can keep going in the face of rejection.  I told him that the struggle to keep going in tough times is the measure of our faith and it is the building of our character.  We know that it is by his power that the gospel message is received, not by our oratory or powers of persuasion or personality.  It is by Jesus alone.

I took the opportunity at work to share my faith with a man named Billy in my department.  I said, "Can I ask you a real personal question?"  He and I have become friends, and he said, "Sure." 

I said, "If you died tonight and had to face God, and God asks you why he should let you into heaven, what would you say?"  This man replied to me, "Wow, I don't know.  I never thought about that."  Then, he began to talk about how he has tried to be good and such.  I related to him the gospel message and the plan of salvation through relationship with Jesus. 

He has not made a commitment, but something interesting followed.  Another man who works with us walked through the door and Billy said, "Hey, Al, if you died tonight and faced God and he asked you why he should let you into heaven, what would you say?"  That started more good discussion, but I laughed to myself later.  Amazing.  Do you see what just happened?  God just used a non-believer to repeat my words to challenge someone else to think of spiritual things.  God is awesome.

Today, I got phone calls from a man who needs a pastor for a memorial service for his dad.  I got a call from a young man who was in our Sober Living Program but left, and now he is calling for help spiritually.  I got a call yesterday from a young man in the church who said, "I want to be baptized.  Can I be baptized on Sunday, February 14, which is Valentine's Day?"  I just got an email from a pastor friend whose dad is dying, and this dad has not accepted Christ as Lord.  When asked by his son (my preacher friend), the dad said, "I have not made that decision for these 79 years of life, why should I do it now?"  My friend, Mike Procter, is asking for prayer that his dad will not leave this earthly life without Jesus.  Will you pray for him too?  I will.

God continues to stir up Revival In Our Time (RIOT)!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Girlfriend, Church and Work

Evan and Callie.
Yes, Evan has a special friend.  He is an interesting son, to say the least.  He has had tons of friends, both guys and gals, and has never been lacking in the area of social life.  But, he never has seemed to find the one to have a special relationship with for enduring lengths of time.  And now, there is someone.  Her name is Callie.  She is a very sweet girl that we like a lot.  She has a strong background in church fellowship with her parents, has a good job and just bought a house.  We'll see what the future holds.

At church this past Sunday, we had a group from California Baptist University come.  They are a singing group named Promise, a group of nine individuals which make up a mixed singing ensemble that goes to many churches and community events to share their faith through concerts.  They were awesome.  I have had many groups come to my churches and sing, but this group of college students was the best by far.  Their voices, their demeanor, their testimonies, their personalities were all exciting to see.  We took them all to lunch afterwards, to a Mexican restaurant nearby.  It was great.

Sunday evening, I spent some time with the ones in the church who have felt called to ministry.  There are many in our church who have come forward to follow God's leading to serve in different capacities of ministry.  Once a month, I meet with them to continue the process of training and encouragement as they grow in their call.

Late Sunday night, Sondra and I went to 24 Hour Fitness to work out.  A young man walked by, looked at me and said, "Pastor Galen?"  I looked up and saw a young man named Gideon, whom I had known for a couple of years, trying to help him overcome some addiction problems as he attended our church.  He was all smiles, introduced me to his brother who had just taken him to church nearby.  He has since moved to the upper desert area and is doing well.  Our prayers and love and time spent with others pay off, and sometimes we are blessed to see it happen!

This morning I did a Devotion Time at the Coronado Stone Manufacturing plant again.  I spoke on the "storms of life" that we may encounter.  The bottom line is this:  It's not about the storms of life and our challenges, it's about Jesus who stands with us through the storms and brings peace.

This week has been a busier week at the US Census Bureau office.  I am enjoying learning the different pieces of the puzzle as we take the census in America this year.  It is mind-boggling how many intricate details have to be logistically in place for it to happen.  I am but a small cog in this amazing machine!

Thomas Paine

Unless I find someone who is willing to further discuss, this will be my last blog concerning atheism as I have not had a discussion by blogging.  I make a case for my faith through my thoughts and peculiar style of logic and faith.

However, the discussion from the side of the "freethinkers" seems to be a parroting of others.  I have not seen any personal thoughts, only just the writings of others.  Thomas Paine, for example, was quoted by one of my friends who is a "freethinker."  Who cares?  Thomas Paine was a man of intellect and passion, and he even applied to become an ordained minister of the Church of England.  But, somewhere along the way, he said that he felt that "my mind is my church."  How sad.  What a small church.

Yes, he helped in some way in the American Revolution with his writings, specifically Common Sense.  But that is not the measure of a man.  History reports that, at his death, six people were there for the funeral.  What a tragic end to someone with so much promise and potential.

So, alas, I once again (and maybe for the last time) challenge others from differing views to answer this one question:  "From where do you get your definition of good?"  So far, no one has offered their own personal and genuine ideas and deep thoughts on this subject to me.