Monday, February 28, 2011

Special Secret Revealed

I watched the Friday Night Boxing televised events last Friday for the first time in 20 years.  On the ESPN2 channel, two fights were to be shown live from Tulsa, Oklahoma.  There were six fights on the card for the evening, and our son Jason was assigned to judge (with two other judges) the first six fights.  Only the last two fights were to be televised, as they were main events.  This was Jason's first time to officially judge boxing matches.  As we watched the telecast, we could see Jason sitting on the front row watching the bouts.  Because the second fight ended early in a knockout, they showed a previous fight from the night, and naturally that would be one that Jason was standing at the edge of the ring in his position as a judge.  That fight also ended in a knockout, and the boxer landed on the ropes right in front of Jason before falling to the mat.  We talked to Jason later and learned much about the scoring system.  It was fun to watch, as we were looking to see Jason more than we were watching the boxing match!

Snow came down in Rialto very quietly and quickly melted as it hit the ground this past Saturday.  Winter storms hit us late last week and snow covered the mountains around us.  It was beautiful.  The snow level came down to almost the 1,000 foot level.  That is rare here in our area.  It caused a lot of trouble for those living in higher elevations, but we just thought it was magnificent to see.  Here is a picture on the street by our house, looking at the San Bernardino mountain range where Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead are both located.

Our church has been attending several tapings of game shows for the last six months.  We have attended "Let's Make A Deal" and "The Price Is Right."  Next month, we are scheduled to go to "America's Got Talent."  One of the ladies in our church, Lynn Peters, is the coordinator and makes all the arrangements.  This past November, we had a group make the trip down to Hollywood for the taping of "Let's Make A Deal," and (what a wonderful blessing) Lynn was chosen to come down for a deal.  She won a brand new car!  But, it had to be kept a secret for several months.

By agreement with the show, she could not tell this to anyone, as no one is supposed to know until the episode airs.  (If the award became public, she would lose the car per the agreement with CBS.)  So, that was the reason for secrecy.  (Yes, she did tell me as pastor and she swore me to secrecy.)  So, this past week, on February 23, the episode was shown and Lynn went over to Los Angeles and picked up her car.  She actually won a 2010 Chevy Aveo but the dealership gave her a 2011 instead!  The show listed it as a prize worth $15, 285.  Because the dealership gave her a $1000 rebate, she only paid $585 for tax and license and walked away with the title and vehicle.  She gave her testimony at church and just praised God for his favor and love.  We all rejoiced.  Here are a couple of pictures of her car, and she is holding up her keys for the second photo.

On Sunday afternoon, I met with another church in Riverside which has been in decline for many months.  They are down to about 10 adults and 2 kids in the worship service.  My nephew (John Ross Greenwalt) was recently called as pastor, and he asked me to come and meet with the church for the purpose of planning for the future.  I sat down with them and talked about the "life cycle of churches" and the need to start over when the church has "died."  I walked them through the process of developing new statements of purpose, mission and vision.  It was a good meeting, and we will see what God can do with a handful of people who desperately want to reach their community for Jesus.

Alden came over after church yesterday and spent the day with us.  It's always good to have him around.  He is a great guy who has a good sense of humor.  Shawn, Crystal and Bailey came over for a short while to pick up something.  Around all that, we watched the Oscar presentations but did not find that too interesting.  We had seen "The King's Speech" so it didn't surprise us that it won four of the major awards.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sondra's Birthday Celebrations

Birthdays really are a time of having fun and doing special things.

Sondra has always looked at her birthday events as important.  She wants to actually celebrate her birthday dinner on the "real day" instead of a weekend previous or following.  And that works for me.  For some people, it makes it inconvenient, because weekends contain more free time than regular weeknights.  I feel that whatever makes it important, special and enjoyable for someone is OK with me.  If that is what makes the sun shine brighter that day, let's make the sun shine brighter.  Life is too short not to enjoy and spoil each other!

So, Tuesday was planned for the birthday dinner.

But, on Monday, we started the brithday fun because it was a holiday.  Sondra had a coupon for Mimi's Cafe and we went there for lunch.  Afterwards, we went to the early afternoon showing of "The King's Speech" at the theater.  There has been so much hype about this movie, as Oscar night approaches and all the awards will be given.  We enjoyed the movie, but I think I was expecting more as the plot crescendoed to its close.  All in all, though, it was extremely well done with powerful performances.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was Sondra's birthday.  Yes, she and George Washington share the same day.  Before she was up and about and ready for work for the morning, I went quickly and bought flowers (a dozen red roses) and chocolates and a balloon (along with a special birthday card from me) to have on the hallway table when she was up, showered and ready for coffee.  She hardly ever eats breakfast on most mornings, but we wanted to do something different so I also bought some needed grocery items that morning to have a hot breakfast for her (and us).  David did most of the cooking, and we had a huge breakfast of bananas, orange juice, eggs, sausage patties, and hot biscuits right out of the oven.  Evan works the night shift and arrived home just in time to sit down with us, so there were four of us having a "birthday breakfast" -- David, Evan, Sondra and me.

Sondra worked her regular part-time morning hours at her school (8 am to noon), and then we picked up grand-daughter Bailey for the afternoon.  This little girl is so precious and fun, but still a handful as she will turn two years old in about six weeks.  She can be stubborn, fun and whiney all within the space of 60 seconds.  Here is a picture of Bailey being silly, as she put on Grandma's (Sondra's) glasses.

We had planned a dinner at the Lone Star Steakhouse in Corona, about a half hour away (in good traffic).  We arranged to meet Evan and Callie there, as well as Shawn and Crystal as we brought Bailey with us in our car.  David was able to be with us for this occasion too.  As part of the service and entertainment at this Texas-style steakhouse, it was unique to have all the waitresses stop and begin to line dance at various times when the restaurant played country songs specifically for that purpose.

Sondra and I had steak and lobster combos, and they were delicious.  At the end of the meal the kids had birthday presents to give, and I brought a special birthday cake with candles (which we lit and had Sondra blow out) at the restaurant.  We sang "Happy Birthday" and the whole bit.  It was a good birthday for Sondra.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gospel Trio

Saturday afternoon was fun.  We went to lunch with Shawn/Crystal/Bailey and Evan/Callie at the Red Robin restaurant.  Actually, it was a time to meet up and get Bailey for the afternoon.  Shawn and Crystal made plans to go to a movie that day, and so we enjoyed taking care of our grandbaby for a while.

Saturday night and the dark early hours of Sunday morning brought a huge rainstorm.  But, when we woke up Sunday morning, the sun was shining with very few clouds left behind.  The temperature was very cool, but the rains were done.

I had a concert scheduled for our morning worship service.  Sondra's cousin (Janet Johnson) from Taft has a married son who lives and works in Sacramento.  This son, Jeff, formed a gospel trio several years ago and tours as time and opportunities are available.  His group, Solid Ground, came and sang for almost an hour and a half, with testimony and sharing their life stories in between.  It was a wonderful time of worship through old and new gospel style songs.  One song in particular was memorable with its message.  The song was titled "The Prodigal Dad."  It dealt with the thoughts and feelings and actions of the father of the Prodigal Son mentioned in the gospel accounts.  It was a very moving song.  The names of the singers in this first picture are (from L to R):  Randy Wold, Jeff Johnson and Seth Weiss.

We took the group to the Cuca's Mexican restaurant here in Rialto after the service.  They relaxed and we talked at length, leaving the place around 2:30 pm.  It was an enjoyable time of talking about family and friends.

Sondra is off work today, so we are planning to do some special things this afternoon as a "birthday and holiday weekend" celebration, as her birthday is tomorrow (Tuesday, February 22).  We are planning a family dinner at a steakhouse in Corona tomorrow evening.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


This has been a week of varied weather patterns.  One day it will be sunny and cloudless, the next will be windy and rainy.  I rather enjoy it that way, as it keeps one guessing what will be next.  One thing for sure, though, our weather has not been so dramatic as back east with their ferocious snow storms.  We are blessed with West Coast "Southern California" weather, no matter what time of year.  And that means no snow (except in the mountains, of course).

Tuesday morning, I was given the assignment to lead a devotional for the morning break at the Coronado Stone manufacturing plant in nearby Fontana.  For that ten-minute devotional message, I was asked to speak on a passage from the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus.  The passage was Matthew 5:21-32.  My goodness, there is a lot of "meat" in those few verses, so I had to be concise and to the point in that time frame of sharing.  Jesus talks about murder, anger, secret thoughts, worship, forgiveness, divorce, morality, temptation and attitudes.  Wow!

So, as a preacher, I broke it down into three parts.  First, I spoke about the spirit of destruction which can overtake us and send us on a path of pain and suffering.  This thought pattern enjoys the attitude of contempt and feeling of superiority, which kills the soul of others.  Therefore, there is physical murder and there is emotional murder.  It is the untlimate end of hurtful anger.  Be careful what you say.  Be very careful what names you attach to other people!

Secondly, I talked about the spirit of restoration.  When conflict or confusion or conduct has created a barrier between you and someone else, make it right!  In this passage, it pointedly speaks of issues that we ourselves have created, rather than the hurtful actions by others against us.  We make mistakes, we mess up, we cheat and lie and steal in so many ways.  We cannot go and worship at the altar when someone else has something against us.  We cannot attempt praise and try to enter into an intimate time with God when there are problems which we have caused between us and those around us.  We must be right with our fellow man before we can be right with God.  There is a price to pay (one that is spiritual), and we must face our past and find forgiveness with redemption.

To close, I shared my thoughts on the spirit of holiness.  This is doing right in every way -- words and actions and thoughts.  We are to flee from temptations, as well as run from the wrong motivations which come to the forefront at different times.  We are not to use legal means to cover up our moral failures.  We are not to allow impure thoughts and immoral behavior to continue to be barriers to our holy desires.  God honors our pursuit of holiness!

Tuesday evening, I spent some time with a young couple in premarital counseling.  They are to be married in April.  I had a wonderful time of sharing and talking and finding out more about their lives, their hopes and dreams for the many years ahead.  I had already given them written assignments on the Biblical purposes of marriage and questions to answer, questions about their personal feelings about each other and such.

The rest of the week was filled with study other meetings and errands and even car maintenance appointments.  Last night, though, Sondra and I went to dinner at the Market Broiler restaurant.  Friday nights are typically our time together for going out and spending an evening that is relaxing and fun.  Too tired to wait an hour after dinner for the next movie (one we wanted to see) at the theater close by, we went home and watched a movie on DVD. 

It was Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family: The Play.  I had not watched any Tyler Perry movies before, although I had heard good reports on them.  This one was awesome!  I recommend it highly.  Tyler Perry wrote, edited, directed, produced and starred in this play that was filmed on a New York stage.  It's about a lady who wants to tell her family that she does not have much time to live.  The surrounding drama of family life of her five adult children made it hard to get them all together for such a purpose.  The grandma (named Madea, played by Tyler Perry) gives insight throughout as the drama unfolds.  Almost every topic of life comes to the surface in this comedy filled with very moving, powerful and serious moments.  Issues that are dealt with are ones that fill the specturm of livng in this world -- Christian values, clothing, family secrets, pain, love, marriage, conflict, money, decisions, youth, life crises, and death.

I hope you watch it and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Whirlwind Weekend

Life goes at lightning speed at times.

This past Saturday, I went to Homecoming weekend events at California Baptist University (my alma mater).  It was rather interesting and fun seeing more people that I have known through the years because of my schooling there.  Last year, I was president of the Alumnii Homecoming Committee and therefore had several responsibilities on the Homecoming weekend.  This year, without those nagging responsibilities I could roam around and sit and talk and it was so much more enjoyable!

I saw friends from past churches where I have served, as well as those with whom I spent time while attending Cal Baptist.  If you remember, I started at CBC (then California Baptist College in Riverside) in 1968 and dropped out in December 1969.  After military service and employment at Kaiser Steel in Fontana, I resumed my college work in 1977 and finally finished in 1978 with both a B.A. in Religion and a B.S. in Business Administration.

My sister Marti and her husband Bill flew out for the weekend also.  So, I spent the day with them recalling our (mine and Marti's) days as students there.  Here is a photo of Ron Bryant (fellow staffer at Glorieta and then fellows student at Cal Baptist), Marti and me:

Then, at 4 pm, I was set to perform a wedding right there on the campus for a friend and mission pastor from our Vision Plus Church.  This man, Michael Dotson, is now in Bakersfield starting a church there, but he and his fiancee and his three daughters met at CBU for an outside wedding with all the homecoming festitivies going on.  It was awesome.  Here are some photos of the wedding:

After that, Marti's son (Kirk) had planned a surprise birthday party at a Mexican restaurant nearby.  So, as many of the family members that could got together and  met there to surprise her.  It was a great time together with sharing and laughter and food and fun.  We made sure to get a photo of John (one of our brothers), Marti and myself at the restaurant.

On Sunday, I preached on the love of God because Valentine's Day was coming up.  At the end of the service, a lady came forward to accept Christ as her personal Lord and Savior, and it just made the day more special.  Also, a new visitor came and talked to me for a short while, as he is seeking where God would be leading him to join.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day.  In the morning, we met Marti and the gang at my brother Roger's house to take some family photos.  We try to get as many picutres with siblings as we can these days.  It's so hard to get everyone together.  Below is a picture of Bill and Marti, then a picture of four of us siblings (Roger, David, me and Marti).  Roger was taking Bill and Marti (and Kirk and his wife Tamra) on his sailboat that day.

Last night, Sondra made a steak and shrimp dinner and we had a feast.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Taking Care of the Sick

Last week I was quite tired from the Tenth Anniversary preparations and celebration for our church, so the first days of the week I was rather laid back and got some much-needed rest.

On Monday, though, I took my pastor friend George Nelson to the Emergency Room at the VA Hospital in the nearby town of Loma Linda.  He has had some problems with breathing and fatigue and coughing, so they checked him out and found some lung infection had set in.  They prescribed some antibiotics and told him to get rest.  George is one of our church planters sent out from The Vision Plus Church to start a church in the Chatsworth area of Los Angeles.  He has no one there to assist him and take care of him, so we told him to stay here with us until he was well enough to go back to L.A.

He has been slowly recovering and regaining his strength, and he has been blessed to be able to stay with us during these days.  He will stay through tomorrow and then leave on Wednesday morning to go back to Chatsworth.

This past Saturday I received a call from our Music Minister (Dan), who is a truck driver for a concrete company.  They were having a pour at a site scheduled Saturday midnight that would last well into Sunday morning.  Dan called me to alert me that he would not be in church on Sunday, due to that work load required for his driving job. 

So, as God would have it, I attended a monthly pastors' meeting at our Baptist association office on Saturday as well.  A man there talked about his Wednesday ministry and his style of leading praise worship with his guitar.  I spoke to this pastor (John) afterwards to see if he was available on Sunday to help us, if he was not involved in another church on Sunday mornings.  He was available, contacted his Praise Worship leader (Kelly) for their new ministry and subsequently they both came to lead us in music yesterday (Sunday) morning.

They were such a blessing and had such awesome testimonies to God's grace and redemption.  It is no surprise how God weaves his hand into our lives to bring individuals together at such times.  I realized how God had brought us together on such a Saturday morning for us to serve and proclaim the goodness of God on the following day.  It was amazing.

Yesterday afternoon, we relaxed and watched the Super Bowl game mainly to see the new commercials.  It was fun, and wse really did not care who won.