We have finally started a video ministry at church. A man is now taping each worship service sermon. So, last Saturday I took some flash drives (thumbdrive memory sticks for computers) that had three of my last sermons on them to a few people in the church who are homebound. It was exciting to be able to start this new venture with our congregation.
Yesterday we had a short "concert" by a group of special needs adults who attend our church. They are so proud and happy to be in front of the church to sing. They are off-key and sometimes forget a few words of the songs, but they are excited and joyful and a treat to watch. Their enthusiasm is infectious. They live in a boarding-care home with a couple who are just wonderful to them.
The man who works with this group on Wednesday evenings (Jim Lunak) gave the morning message as well. He talked about the "stone being rolled away" when Jesus arose from the grave out of the tomb in the garden. He talked about the "stones" in our way of life, the ones that block us and hinder us from being the person God intended for us to be. We put up "walls" to make sure we do not get hurt or that someone can't get too close to us (because then they may not like us or love us when they know the "real" persons we are).
Prior to the singing and preaching, we baptized two young men. It is always a celebration when young people surrender their lives to a God who loves them through all their immaturity and troubles.
Shawn and Crystal left this past Friday night to fly to the Dominican Republic for a vacation at a resort there. We took them to LAX for their flight. Shawn's parents from Tulsa came in on Friday morning for a vacation to take care of Bailey for the week. Yesterday (Sunday) we went with Terry and Linda Marcum (Shawn's parents) to Hollywood. Of course, we had fun taking Bailey with us too. We went up to the top of the mountain where the Hollywood sign is. We went down Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Boulevard, stopped at the corner of Hollywood and Vine, went to the famous Grauman's Chinese Theater, saw many names of famous people on the stars on the sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard and fought the busy traffic through it all.
At the end of the evening, we drove over to Buena Park and ate at the famed Chicken Restaurant at Knott's Berry Farm. The chicken, the biscuits, the boysenberry pie were so delicious. What a fun day.
It was quite embarrassing yesterday to receive a phone call from Julie, my sister-in-law. And then to get emails and talk to others on my email list. Apparently someone has hacked into my computer and acquired my email address list. They sent a link on an email with my return email address. The link was for an online Canadian pharmacy which sells prescriptions for things I would never promote.
So, I had to change my password immediately and I hope that solves the problem. It is sad that there are those out there who intentionally take and use someone's identity and usefulness.
I had one person write me a quick email about it and said, "I knew you would not have sent it, so I deleted the email but not your reputation." What a joy to know that my character stands for something. These days, that is very special and humbling.
On another note, my Sebring overheated again and is back in the shop. I drove Evan's truck to work a couple of days ago and had a blowout on the freeway going to work. That was quite a start to my day!
It has been over 100 degrees for many days now, and I am not doing well with heat anymore. I will certainly be glad when this heat wave cools down.
Sondra's brother (Alden) has been looking at several apartment complexes for seniors (55 years and up) and has some solid leads. He will be hearing in the next few days about getting an apartment. We are excited for him.
Yes, I am still working at the Census and it looks like at least another week. I quit trying to guess when this all will end, as for as the employment with them. I'm just enjoying the journey so far.
I read a quote that a friend had copied from Robert Ingersoll, the famed orator of the 19th Century who was the son of a minister. Ingersoll's father was a fast and true friend of Charles Finney, the great evangelist of the day. However, Ingersoll's father had difficulties in his pastorates and was held in contempt in some "church trials" when Ingersoll was a lad. This impacted him, and he had no use for religion after that.
Ingersoll was an intellectual and proclaimed his views widely, going around the country with crowds willing to pay to hear him. His aversion to religion and God and church was well-known in his lifetime. However, there is some discrepancy over his last days of life. Some claim he recanted his "free thinking" and was repentant. Others of the humanist side vehemently deny this. Only God knows.
Here is a quote from someone from that era: "A gentleman whom I recently met in Southern California, told me in all earnestness the true story, as he called it, of Mr. Ingersoll's last moments. He said that these moments were filled with fear and remorse; that over and over again he expressed regret that he had spent so much of his life in opposing Christianity, and that he called on God for pardon and mercy."
As I repeat myself, those who are predisposed to a position can never be persuaded by thought and reason. It is a matter of the heart. Every heart matters. God never turns anyone away who repents and accepts his love and grace.
Sunday was a good day. I was quite tired from the week, but I get energized when I step in the pulpit to proclaim God's Word. We have recently seen two young men accept Christ as their Lord and Savior and so we are planning a baptismal service for next Sunday morning.
After church, we went to Sundowners restaurant and ate. Following that, I sat in my chair in the living room watching some sports on TV and promptly fell asleep. It was a little before 2 pm when I started my "snooze" and Sondra woke me up at 5:30 pm, knowing that if I slept too long I would not be able to go to sleep very fast that night. That nap felt good!
Sunday night, we watched three shows that we had taped on our DVD. I had not watched the final episodes of last season for House, The Good Wife and Lie To Me.
Yesterday (Monday) was a slow day at my work at the Census, as we are winding down with paperwork and shipping. In fact, at the end of the day, we clerks were instructed to not come in today until 12:30 pm. Going home at 4:30 pm will give us a 4-hour workday today. So, I did not have to get up early and get going. I got up early and got on my computer!
Last night, we had Bailey and Crystal for dinner as usual. It is the night of the week that Shawn has to go to class for his degree program. We had homemade tacos and I ate too much.
Alden is looking at apartments and hopes to find one by the end of the month. David is going over to the VA Loma Linda hospital for some blood tests this morning. Sondra is getting ready for work. Evan just got in, as he worked the "graveyard shift" at his workplace.
Right now, I will be downloading several of my sermons that have been taped these past few weeks. There are quite a few in our congregation who are sick at home, in the hospital or have missed some services. They are asking for copies, and we are starting to tape the sermon each Sunday. I am trying to figure out a way to download these onto my church website for anyone to watch as well. I was joking with someone that I will charge $19.95 for each CD message, as seen on TV ads! Ha ha. Anyway, we'll see what we can do.
Friday we got our car back! The auto body shop called and said our Nissan was fixed and ready. After work, we ran over and picked it up. They did a good job, as it looks brand new again.
That afternoon at work, three of us clerks in the Census office were taken to lunch by our immediate supervisor and the office manager (head boss). It was a show of appreciation and affirmation. God's shows us his love in many ways in our daily lives.
After work Friday, I rushed over to the memorial service for Howard's wife here in Rialto. He was pleased that I came and took me around to all his family members and friends and introduced me as his pastor from work (Coronado Stone manufacturing plant). What we do and how we show our support does make a difference.
Yesterday (Saturday) was an awesome day.
The celebration service for the fourth-year anniversary of our ministry to the homeless at Fairmount Park was wonderful. Several ministries came to support and encourage us by participating with their presence and by bringing extra food. The feeding of the homeless each Thursday has brought attention to the plight of so many that are hurting and seeking help. The Christian Motorcycle Association (bikers who love Jesus) had quite a few members come and share. The local association came to support with their love. Set Free ministries were scheduled to come. Pastor Mike Yeamans (our former Praise Leader and Associate Pastor now serving at the La Sierra Baptist Church in Riverside as senior pastor) came and played his guitar and led us in singing. I gave a 5-minute message from God's Word, reminding all of us that God has created us for three things: love, purpose and hope (that eternal promise). Five came forward to pray with me when I gave a short invitation there under the trees at the park!
Then, at 3 pm we held a memorial service for David Zimmerman. His life was short, but he impacted many around him. The church was packed full with standing room only. The day was hot, and our church air conditioner cannot handle that many people, with the front door open for more attenders as they arrived and the temperature reading at over 100 degrees. But God's Spirit was there. David made some very poor choices as a young man, as far as drinking and drugs. It damaged his body beyond repair. His past life caught up with him. However, about four years ago, Sondra and I were invited over to have dinner and talk with David and wife Heather. We were in discussion about their upcoming wedding plans. Included in that discussion was a time of sharing God's great love for salvation and eternal life. Both David and Heather prayed to receive Jesus that night. So, David has been a changed man these last years of his life. He loved others immensely and was loved by others immensely. His life was short, but I told those at the funeral time that life is not measured in years, it is measured in relationships built in our lifetime. We leave behind a legacy. I challenged everyone to consider what their legacy will be when they lay this mortal body down and breathe their last breath.
Last night, we went over to Shawn and Crystal's to sit by the swimming pool and play with Bailey. Crystal was working out with a TV video and Shawn was working on a paper for his college class. It was a restful time to end the day.
Sunday evening, I received a phone call from a lady (Diane Emfinger) who had been a member of my father's church in New Cuyama, California, almost 30 years ago. She has a friend in the Inland Empire area (in which I live) whose mother passed away and needed a pastor to officiate at the memorial service. I readily agreed, as this is a very important ministry to those who are hurting and feeling great sorrow. Monday evening, I called to get information about the family and spend time in getting to know more about the mother who had passed away.
On Monday night, I also attended a dramatic presentation (Heaven's Gate and Hell's Flames) at my brother Roger's church in Fontana. It is a very intense and moving portrayal of those who have been too busy or too stubborn to ask Jesus Christ into their lives for forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation. David was going so I hopped in his car and went. Many decisions for the Lord were made during each of the nights of the presentation.
On Tuesday, I took off from work at noon to be ready for the funeral service in Riverside for Diane's friend. It was a time of celebration for a lady who had lived 89 years, was married for 62 years and had many friends and loved ones. What a tribute to a life well lived.
Yesterday, after work, I went immediately to a home of a friend (Ray) here in Rialto. He had called me a few days ago about a lady with three children who had just moved into a house nearby. At night, this single mom and three girls were experiencing some strange occurences and wanted prayer for the house. In short, they were asking for someone to come and cast the demons from the home. This is not something that happens often to me in my ministry, but I do not shy away from it. I took some anointing oil, prayed in every room, took special time to pray over the 14-year old girl who was fearful because of the things she was seeing at night in her room, and then blessed the home. It was a joy to see the relief and joy that filled the entire family after praying and spending time with them. It is too personal to tell all that happened, but I was blessed to see God's power in action.
Today, I go to the doctor for my six-month checkup. Tonight, I again meet for Bible study at the Ladies' Sober Living House near the Mission Inn in downtown Riverside.
Tomorrow, a memorial service is being held for the wife of one of my Coronado Stone company's employees (Howard). I talked with him at length, and he is staying strong in the Lord through this. She was in her late 30s in age.
I met with the wife of the man we prayed for some time back (David Zimmerman) who passed away. The memorial service is this Saturday afternoon at our church.
It is wonderful to see the difference in those who are going through the "valley of death" with the grace of God. I do want to face the trials of life without my Savior by my side.
Saturday was a full day of errands and ministry. David and I went over to look at used lawnmowers early in the morning. Following that, we went to breakfast at a diner in Fontana named Red Hill Cafe. The portions are huge and it was a real "power breakfast" indeed. We split our food, as David ordered a Denver Omelet with hash browns and biscuits & gravy, while I ordered an egg with sausage and pancakes. The pancakes dropped over the side of a large plate! We could not finish it all, but we tried.
After that, I went to the hospital to visit the truck driver church member. He now has a blood clot in his upper right thigh. No surgery can be done, as he just had partial lung removal just some few days ago and his body has not healed enough from that. This man (Michael) is 53 years old, in great pain but still trusts that God is in control. He wept and we prayed.
In the early afternoon, I drove to Redlands to meet a man who is a friend and had requested a letter of reference for some legal proceedings he is facing. He lives in Yucaipa and we had a short chat to catch up on family news and such.
I then drove to a check cashing establishment to use their Western Union to send money to our missionary friend in the Philippines. This business does not have Western Union anymore, so I was told where I could find one. A lady overheard and was needing Western Union as well. She asked for a ride, and I told her yes. She was a middle-aged black lady with teenage girls who has hit on rough financial times. I took her home after the Western Union, all the while talking of my work as pastor and her past as a PK (preacher's kid). We laughed and talked about upbringing in a pastor's home. It was one of those wonderful "serendipity" moments of life. I gave her my card and asked her if she might be willing to open up her home for a Bible study in the future.
Saturday evening was special. On Friday we received a call that Crystal's dog (Boomer) was missing from the back yard. It is a small Yorkshire terrier that she bought in Oklahoma the week of their wedding there. It has been a great companion for our little grand-daughter Bailey. They passed out some posters and flyers Friday evening. I offered myself, Sondra, David and Alden to go out Saturday evening to pass out flyers door-to-door. At 6 pm, we started out on foot doing exactly that. About 45 minutes later, Crystal called and said Boomer had been found. Someone called their number, and they rushed over to get their lost pet (about two miles away down a very busy street). It was an answer to prayer. What a reunion and what relief! It's amazing that God gives us joy in such ways as this. We went to dinner at an all-you-can-eat Mexican restaurant to celebrate.
Sunday was a busy day. We had a representative from the Gideon ministry come and share. What a testimony. I will share more later.
Well, Sondra's prayers about my job keep getting answered. When I started working for the Census back in January, we were all told that the job is part-time and seasonal and short-term. For many of the employees doing the field work, that was true. Many worked only about six weeks. However, I work in the office and have had the opportunity to continue on as follow-up operations are scheduled. The fact that I am one of the ten remaining workers in the office is an answer to prayer, during these economic times. A work schedule was just released yesterday, and we are working for the next two weeks on projects and wrap-up activities. Of course, this is all subject to change according to workload and dictates from higher places!
For the prayer requests, the young lady with seizures has had medication changes and is doing better. The young girl that was hospitalized had viral meningitis and is home now...she was at church Wednesday night and looked the picture of health and was running around like nothing had happened. The older lady is still confined to her bed and still has a wonderful disposition in spite of it. The truck driver was released from the hospital but is back again for some problems related to his lung surgery.
A man who assists in ministry in our church, just recently married at the beach by me a couple of weeks ago (Jim Lunak) just got laid off yesterday. Last Saturday, we attended a minister's meeting and were reminded that there are three major ways that we are attacked by Satan to derail us in ministry - family, finances and health. It reminds us further that we are in spiritual warfare and must continue to fight the battle, no matter the circumstances we face. Faith is paramount!
Thursday, I got a call at work around noon. Sondra was shaken and almost in tears, as she had just been in a "fender bender" accident nearby. A car coming from the other direction turned left in front of her and they "kissed" bumpers together. The front left headlight and bumper were damaged, and we took it immediately to a body repair shop (after calling our insurance company) and rented a car for the interim. It was a long day, so we decided to go out instead of cooking dinner. David and Alden had talked about it, and the consensus was to go to Hometown Buffet. A wise choice, indeed. It was relaxing and good.
Last night, we went to a Mexican restaurant here in Rialto called Cuca's and had grand-daughter Bailey with us. She had rice and beans all over the floor and table when we left! But she is so cute when she does it.....ha ha. It really wasn't that bad, but she is fun to watch when she tries to feed herself. Crystal called in tears that evening. Apparently, someone opened the back gate or stole their little dog, Boomer. They drove around looking for him, and Shawn will pass out flyers to see if someone found Boomer. They got Boomer the week they were in Oklahoma after their wedding. We trust that Boomer comes home somehow.
There just continues to be a stream of ministry needs lately. I am still working full-time with the Census, and it seems that the needs are poured out in great measure during these days. One lady in the church is still having smal seizures at home, was taken to ER and they sent her home after running tests. She continues to have anywhere from 20-25 small seizures during a 24-hour period. It is heart-wrenching. I was at the house a few days ago when one happened. All we can do is sit and wait for it to pass. Pray for her.
Another lady had her 8-year daughter taken to Emergency. She has been diagnosed with meningitis and is unable to keep food down. It has been an exhausting four days so far for the mom. Pray for this young girl.
An older woman in the church is in declining health. She is weak, has no appetite and has no energy most days to get out of bed. One leg is so swollen and painful. She is as positive as one can be in that situation. We are taping the services and will give her the Sunday sermons on a flash drive (memory stick) to use on her laptop computer. She is such a sweet lady. Pray for her.
I just got a call the other day about a truck driver who attends our church. He just had a benign mass removed from one of his lungs. He is recovering but having some difficulty with some of the healing. Pray for him.
In our church life, we have had a void in the Praise and Worship area. We have needed someone to come and help in the music ministry. This past week, a lady in the church who is on parole has a friend who plays guitar, writes songs and has led music in church in the past. He just was released from prison two weeks ago. This past Sunday, after some conversation and discussion, he led us in praise choruses and also sang some songs he has written. We had a wonderful service and we saw God at work again. It is an amazing journey we are on as we continue to serve and minister.
Yesterday, after work I went to the San Manuel Indian Clinic in the San Bernardino area for an eye check-up. I was told that my vision is 20/50 with need for corrective lenses to see in both near and far distances. With the prescription in hand there, I ordered some transition glasses (no line for the bifocal issue) that turn dark in bright sunlight. I have never worn glasses previous so this is a new step for me. I have known that I need them, but I just didn't want to take that step. But, I'm ready so I don't have to keep squinting when I am faced with small print!
How does a non-believer talk about life that is joyful, satisfying and rewarding? I hear them say words like luck, karma and "just being in the right place at the right time." That is sad to think that all good things might just be due to the "luck of the draw" in life's journey.
As a believer, I continue to see God's hand at work so often. It brings a comfort and peace that is unmatched.
This past weekend, the Lord was at work in the life of our church family. Sunday was a Spirit-filled time of worship in our church. You could just feel God's presence as we sang and saw the morning message touch hearts. After the service, I sat with a young lady as she poured out her heart about life and her desire to let the Lord guide her every step, as these last months have brought family heartache and pain and loss in terms of money, custody of children and some jail time. She wept and we prayed for God's open doors for moving forward in life.
In addition, an anonymous gift of $1000 was given to meet church budget needs and various ministry needs. What a dramatic sign that blessed our hearts.
On Sunday, we went to lunch at a place called Famous Dave's Barbecue restaurant. For an annual celebration, they offered a free meal (up to $15) to anyone who had ID that showed their name was David or Dave. So, that helped my brother David enjoy a great Beef Brisket lunch. Sondra and I split a menu item called "The Feast for Two" - ribs, tri-tip, bbq chicken and all the sides to go with it. We had Bailey with us and she loved my corn-on-the-cob!
Today, Sondra went to Bakersfield to visit her best friend there, Karen Gallington. She also got her hair done by one of her favorite hairdressers in town. So, tonight, Alden and David and I were on our own. So sad. We just had to go out for dinner. We chose Richie's Diner in Rancho Cucamonga nearby. We all got the Monday special - pot roast. They are having a month-long celebration too - all root beer floats for 25 cents each. All of us got three of them each! Oh, so good.
Tomorrow morning, I go to Coronado Stone to do the 8 am devotional again. It is such a fulfilling ministry to share and talk with the workers there.