Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Back From Trip

We tried to get a good night's sleep last Thursday night before leaving on Friday morning on our trip out of town.  We got up Friday, put things together and drove to San Francisco.  Got there close to 4 pm that afternoon.  Sondra and I stopped at Fisherman's Wharf for a short walk and then got a snack (shared a bowl of clam chowder and an order of fish and chips) in the cold drizzly weather of the Bay Area.

We went over to the East Bay side to stay with our friends in San Pablo - Don and Judy Nason.  They have been wonderful friends through all these years since the early 1970s.  Judy is confined to her electric wheelchair but she gets around with ease.  We just talked and ate and relaxed for a couple of days there.  We felt a little nostalgia as we went to Nation's hamburger joint, where they have the best hamburgers and homemade pies.  On Saturday morning, we went over to Flippy's, a breakfast place in Rodeo (town where I pastored in years gone by) that has old-fashioned waffles.  By that I mean the waffles with little dimples, not the big Belgian style dimples!

Don and Judy have a son named Charlie, who is the Pastoral Intern at the Berkeley Chines Baptist Church (English-language service).  We went to his church and heard him preach.  He has finished his Masters degree and does much study in his sermon preparation, which was evident.  We very much enjoyed the worship service and meeting various individuals in the congregation.  During the service, a lady gave her testimony of faith and patience as her father had just suffered a stroke, while during this time both she and a sister are undergoing cancer treatments.  She was just a portrait of love and humility as she lives and serves a great God.

On Sunday afternoon, all the Nason kids (Charlie, Sandy and Eddy) were there with spouses and children.  A turkey dinner had been planned and fixed (turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, corn, lima beans, cranberry sauce and rolls) with three different pies (lemon meringue, chocolate and custard).  There were 16 of us sitting around two long tables in the living room for lunch.  Awesome time of family and catching up on the latest news of each sibling.

We left that evening, going to Fresno and checking into the Holiday Inn downtown.  The Pastors' Conference was going to be held a few miles away in Clovis on Monday evening and Tuesday morning.  Sondra did some shopping Monday morning and we attended all the sessions of the conference.  Our friend from down here, Darrell Smith, came up and attended also, so we were able to spend time with him.

The messages were good, but I was disappointed no pastors from out of state were invited.  I think it was due to financial issues for the conference.  We really enjoyed Dr. Jeff Iorg, the president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (my alma mater) in the Bay Area.  He has been a pastor and denominational leader previous to the presidency of our seminary.  He is a gifted preacher, and we found out he has been the chaplain for the San Francisco Giants baseball team for the last five years!  He jokingly said he cannot take credit for the team going to the World Series this year.

We drove home yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon safe and sound.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Itinerary For This Weekend

Sondra and I are getting ready to head up to northern California in a couple of days.  We will leave very early Friday morning on a trip to the San Francisco area.  We have some good friends (Don and Judy Nason) that we have not seen for quite some time.  Both of them have had very serious health issues in this past year, and they are still not fully recovered all the way.  We want to spend the weekend with them.

Then, we will go to Clovis, California, which is close to Fresno, for a Pastors' Conference next Monday night and Tuesday morning.  The annual meeting of the California Southern Baptist State Convention will be conducted on Tuesday evening and all day Wednesday.  But, we will only be staying for the preaching conference.  We will leve Tuesday afternoon to return home, as Sondra will need to be at work on Wednesday morning.

I sincerely enjoy hearing other pastors as they preach to us in this annual gathering.  Every once in a while, I need to relax and have some spiritual feeding for me personally.  I am very much looking forward to next week.

This past week has been eventful already.  I have received various calls for ministry needs that have been quite different from most days.  A man in our church has asked me to deliver some ashes (in an urn) to Fresno for him, as it has not worked out for him to transport them!  That was an unusual request, but I will do it for him.  He is so grateful.

A lady called me a few days ago to see if I would visit a young man in a nearby jail.  The girlfriend of this young man asked her pastor and several other pastors in the Riverside area if they would visit the man.  They told her no, as the drive was too far.  I was recommended by this friend, as she knew I have done quite a few visits to jails and prisons!  I have an appointment early tomorrow morning (Thursday) to visit at the Rancho Cucamonga West Valley Detention Center of San Bernardino County.  I am excited about this visit, even though I have never met this gentleman.

Last night (Tuesday), Sondra and I went to dinner with our church planter pastor and friend, George Nelson.  We had received an envelope with money with a note.  The note told us to go out to dinner in honor of Pastor Appreciation Month and, if possible, take George with us to celebrate together.  We did.  We picked him up and went to the Black Angus restaurant with the coupon for steak, shrimp and lobster for $15.99 each.  It was a wonderful time of food and fellowship, hearing the latest on what God is doing in our church plant called The Vision Plus Church 2 of Chatsworth.

This morning I printed the bulletins for Sunday, and I also printed the Bible Study material for tonight's Wednesday service at church.

I will be getting the oil changed in the car before we leave on our trip, so that will take some time tomorrow as well.  We are deliberating about getting the Sebring's engine done at a machine shop through our mechanic friend.  More on that later.  One step at a time right now.  We'll take our trip and then go from there.

By the way, how do you like the pretty sunsets that fade in and out at the top of this blog?  I like them a lot!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Picnic On The Grounds (Literally)

I like to give a short report on Sunday's activities most of the time.  So, here's a little summary of yesterday.

It was drizzly and cold on Sunday morning.  We had an all-church picnic scheduled at a nearby park immediately following the morning worship hour as a part of of our Pastor Appreciation Month events.  But, due to weather conditions, we had to figure out a "Plan B" and go with it.  We talked quickly before church and decided to do an "indoor picnic" in the church sanctuary.

So, prior to worship, a bunch of volunteers helped break down tables in other rooms to bring into the sanctuary.  We put enough tables and chairs for worship and the fellowship time afterwards.  It was an interesting seating arrangement for the worship hour -- everyone sitting at tables facing the pulpit.  It really did not seem odd once we started the service!

During the worship hour, I took time for open sharing about God's goodness with opportunity for everyone to share any praise testimonies and reports.  It was awesome.  One testimony led to another and led to another and kept going.  It was a very special time again for everyone to see how God blesses in abundance.  I told them if they kept sharing in testimony, I would not have time to preach.....some clapping and laughter followed.....ha ha.  Seriously, it was good for all to share in how great our God is!

Then, after the service, we took a little time to get all the food and drinks set up in the nearby classrooms and kitchen area.  It was a ton of food that was brought, so there was no shortage there.  As we sat in the sanctuary eating, we even had some games of Charade.  It was like a "dinner show."  Great fun.  In addition, as weather permitted, we went outside for an old-fashioned Cake Walk, some Ring Toss games and six entrants in a Pie Eating Contest.  Also, there was a game in which everyone was to guess whose pictures were being shown, the photos being "baby pictures."  It was absolutely a wonderful time of laughter, fun and fellowship.

On a sad note, I got a text from the mechanic working on the Sebring and he said the engine really is dead.  That was last night.  We had put some money into getting it fixed and thought it would be ready.  So, that really set us back as to what we should do.  We don't have any money for another car right now, with the added fact that I am not working.  I just set any thoughts aside about what to do right now.

This morning, I got another text from the mechanic saying there may be a way to get the problems fixed for about another $500.  I need to talk to God about this, that's for sure.  I don't want to put good money out after bad money.  So, we will think and pray on this.  But, above all, God is faithful and I will not pout or stress or be downcast.  God is better than all that!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

We Are Rejoicing

The word "rejoice" is not common in everyday language.  It is used sparingly, except in the context of church and spiritual life.  However, it is an important word and is quite useful and expressive of inward emotion - an emotion that equals joy and excitement and happiness all rolled into one.

We are rejoicing in our household.  Do you know what it means to be so happy you want to cry?  I am sure you do.  Well, that's how we are feeling today.

First, let me begin by sharing what happened some days ago.  On a Friday two weeks ago, my brother David came back from an appointment with his doctor at the VA hospital.  He had some tests run and the doctor somberly told him that the initial photos of his esophagus showed cancer.  We did not tell very many people as this takes time to absorb emotionally.  We did not know how far the cancer had progressed.  The hospital set an appointment for the very next Monday morning to talk about further tests and treatments that were available.  Something prevented David from that appointment and the nurses said the doctor would reschedule.  So, for two weeks the wait was prolonged.

Then, yesterday, exactly two weeks to the day, the hospital called.  David was informed that the final results of the biopsies taken show a "negative" result for cancer.  They will schedule another appointment, naturally, but he was given the clear sign for esophagus cancer!  What elation!  What peace!  What relief!  Indescribable.

In these last two weeks, we just left this in the hands of the Lord.  We could do nothing but wait.  How wonderful to wait on God's timing to reveal his great mercy and kindness at this juncture of David's life.  We "rejoice."

On a different note, I had a fun day yesterday.  I was invited by a man in the church (who is a commercial painter by profession) to an annual event held by Vista Paint company.  Each year the painters and paint contractors are invited to a celebration and fun day at the horse races.  We went to Hollywood Park near LAX and had a great time of eating and gathering free items from vendors and watching the horses run.  There were five of us from the church, and the fellowship we had was special.  As for betting, I bet $24 total on four races and my winnings amounted to $24.40.  Wow, my average was winning a dime each race.....ha ha.

This past Thursday morning, I was asked to give a devotional at Coronado Stone again.  As you know, I go there every so often and share a Biblical passage and how it applies to life.  An individual in management videotaped my message, as he is trying to develop a website to encourage other businessmen to use faith and testimony and encouragement as part of their business development.  So, I may be on the internet for businessmen soon.

I am taking much of today to rest and prepare for tomorrow at church.  We have a full day planned with worship in the morning and then a church-wide picnic afterwards.  It's part of our Pastor Appreciation month's activities.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pastor Appreciation Month

I sure like this month, especially when some in the church take it seriously about Pastor Appreciation Month!  Ha ha.

Yesterday, the congregation presented Appreciation Baskets to the pastor's wives of the church.  It contained specialty items that women enjoy.  Also, a gift certificate was included for them.  It was such a sweet gesture and very thoughtful.

After the worship hour, a special lunch had been planned for everyone to eat at the nearby Sizzler Restaurant.  Each person or family was to provide for their own meal, and that way they would be able to get exactly what they wanted to eat instead of a planned and limited meal for all.  It was designed to be a fellowship event, a time for everyone to have time for interaction with the pastors and families.  We had little Bailey with us, and that made it even more fun.  She is trying to talk so much, and she can actually put small sentences together to get her wants known!

We talked to Jason and Shelly and the grandkids this weekend.  Little Macyn is starting to have a whole lot more personality, and we can hear her in the background when talking to Shelly.  Jace called me yesterday, because he is a die-hard Oakland Raiders football fan (because of his dad Jason) and I am a die-hard San Diego Chargers fan.  Well, yesterday the Chargers played the Raiders in Oakland and the Raiders won.  Jace just had to call me and ask, "Well, how did you like the game?"  It was his way of letting me (his Papa G) know that I would be a little disappointed and he would be jumping up and down for joy!  I let him have his little bit of fun, because I know the Chargers will come back strong for the rest of the season.  Then, I will call Jace and say, "See, I told you!"  We have a lot of fun with this.

Last Friday, we left early in the afternoon to take Sondra's brother Alden to Bakersfield.  He rented a U-Haul type truck in Bakersfield to get the rest of his belongings out of storage to bring back here to his apartment -- bed, household items and all.  We spent the night at Danny and Marci's house (Sondra's brother and sis-in-law) in Bakersfield and had a good time relaxing with them on both Friday night and Saturday monrning.  We went to the Knotty Pine restaurant near the Meadows Field airport on Saturday morning and then to Andre's for lunch.  Also, we took time to go to Dewar's ice cream and candy shop for a "Black and White" ice cream dessert to eat there and some peanut butter taffy to bring home.

This morning was special.  The other day, David had promised to take Roger out somewhere to eat because Roger had been out of town last Thursday.  Last Thursday was October 7, which was Roger's birthday as he turned 49 years old.  He loves to let us know that he is the only sibling left who is under the age of 50!  We told him to enjoy it now, because this year will fly by and he will join the 50+ club (chuckle, chuckle).  So, we went to a Mexican restaurant which has good breakfast specials.  Roger was out of town last week, doing some deep sea fishing in Mexico so he had some stories to tell.  We had a good time being together.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Let's Make A Deal

Yes, Sondra and I dressed up to go to the game show "Let's Make A Deal" in Hollywood last Saturday.  I really am not one to do such a thing, but it was a church event that paid money.  By that, I mean that the show paid us (The Vision Plus Church) $15 per person to come and attend the taping.

We ended up being a part of two shows being taped back to back.  They will be aired next year, one in January and the other in February.  No, none of us were chosen to come up and make a deal with Wayne Brady, the host.  But it really was a great time of fellowship and fun with church members.  It was a long day, however, meeting at the church at 8 am and not returning home until 6 pm that evening.

As you can see, I was the Big Bad Wolf, and Sondra was Little Red Riding Hood.

Sunday was a very full day.  In the morning worship hour, one of the ladies in the church had prepared "thank you" cards for all the pastors of the church.  We have ordained several in the life of the church in the past years and they have served faithfully in various areas of ministry - homeless feeding, evangelism, Mexico missions, visitation, church planting, youth and music.  All of us are volunteers as partners in the ministry.  No one gets paid on staff here.  All the finances go to paying the necessary bills of the church.  So, in recognition of this month (October) being Pastor Appreciation Month, thank-you notes and gift cards for nearby restaurants were presented.  It was very touching.

For the sermon time, I briefly preached on the commissioning of the twelve disciples to go forth to build the Kingdom by spreading the Good News of God's love and redemption, as well as the commissioning of Paul and Barnabas by the early church to go forth with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We then took time to "commission" two of our own, Ken and Beifei Edwards, as they venture on a mission trip to China for several weeks.  It was a very moving time.

Then, that afternoon, we went to Chatsworth (in the Los Angeles area) for the One Year Anniversary of The Vision Plus Church2 of Chatsworth pastored by George Nelson.  George has been a part of our church for several years and felt God's call to start a church.  He was led to plant a congregation in Chatsworth, which is one of the most difficult areas to evangelize and talk to people about Jesus.  It is the capital of pornography production in America.  Many have tried to start  a church there and quit within a year.  George has stuck it out, being threatened and harrassed and made fun of.  But he has been faithful and God has shown favor.  At the celebration service, there were wonderful testimonies from those who had come to faith in Christ because of George's ministry there.  What a great service.

Yesterday, I did many errands for the church and then did some home visitations.  One of the older ladies in our church is dying of cancer.  Hospice care has come to the home and set up a bed and all things necessary for her to live out her last days in as much comfort as possible.  Sondra and I shared what God has been doing and she was glad to listen.  Her daughter told us that she doesn't want to watch any preachers on TV, she only wants to watch my sermons on her computer that we tape at church!  She is such a sweetheart.  We love her so much, and pray that God protects her from pain in these days.  She is such a role model for others.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bailey Hill

It was a wonderful week as we were pleased to spend a few days with Bailey Hill, a deacon who was part of my father's church in Wasco, California, many years ago.  Also, he is the father-in-law to my brother, Noel, who married Janice.

Noel and Janice live in Springfield, Missouri.  Bailey Hill lives in Nixa, Missouri, about 10 miles away from Springfield.

Bailey's wife, Berthena, passed away last October.  He is now 84 years old and is taking time to spend time with relatives, friends and other loved ones.  He was out here in California for about a month.  He stayed with us a couple of those days this week.

On Tuesday afternoon, I picked him up in Bakersfield.  We drove to Rialto the back way, through Lancaster and Palmdale.  It was a very scenic route and we both enjoyed it.  That evening we went to Logan's Road House, one of those restaurants where you eat peanuts out of a bucket and throw the shells on the floor.  David and Evan and Callie joined us too.  In addition, we had little baby Bailey Marcum with us.

Wednesday we just spent a whole lot of time resting and talking and reminiscing.  In fact, that evening we stayed up almost until midnight just talking about the past and the life he (Bailey) had growing up.  I just found out he is the son of a preacher too!  He is so full of wisdom and fun, both at the same time.  I won't tell you the places we ate, as we only ate twice that day.....ha ha.  However, I do want you to ask Bailey about his coffee mug from the Red Hill Cafe and the waitress that served our table at breakfast!

On Wednesday morning we went out to IHOP to start the day, and then I took him to LAX to catch his flight back to Missouri.  It had been a relaxing and enjoyable couple of days with him.  He is such a good friend.

Here are a few pictures:
     L to R:  Roger, David, Bailey, Baby Bailey, Evan, Galen

Bailey Hill and Evan Greenwalt

David Greenwalt and Bailey Hill