Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wedding, Funeral, Sunday Worship

Within three short days over the weekend, I performed a wedding and spoke at a funeral and had charge of a Sunday worship hour.  Such is the life of a pastor.

Last Friday was an eventful day, following through on a request by a friend to help with a wedding ceremony to be performed in a jail.  Jack Shelton, a lay pastor in our church, was asked to do a wedding for a friend who is incarcerated at the Southwest Detention Center in nearby Murrieta (about 50 miles away).  When we arrived with the bride in tow, the deputies at the desk were not sure how to deal with a wedding there.  After some time, we were finally allowed to go in and use a special room to conduct the ceremony, still with a glass partition separating us from the groom.  The irony to all this, was that the lady getting married had an outstanding warrant for a minor vehicle code infraction from several years ago.  They let her in to the ceremony, but only after issuing her a citation to appear later to resolve her previous ticket!  Wow, what an evening!

On Saturday, I had been asked to conduct a graveside service for a WWII veteran.  He was the father of one of our church members named Natalie.  I had only met him once, during one of our morning worship services in Riverside, as he and his wife came to church with Natalie.  I had a wonderful conversation with him that day after the worship time.  He was a good Christian man who imparted his faith and love on to his children and grandchildren.  I was honored and blessed to be asked to do his funeral service at the Forest Lawn cemetery in Covina.

This past Sunday, we had a special service as I had invited Pastor George Nelson to come and preach.  He is one of our church starters from our congregation.  He has been working hard to build a fellowship to meet in the Chatsworh (Los Angeles) area in the past couple of years.  There were several from Chatsworth who came with him.  In addition, he surprised me with a plaque to thank me and the Vision Plus Church of Riverside for our assistance and support and encouragement.  It was a sweet time of fellowship and joy this past Sunday morning!

In the midst of all that I was doing, Crystal and Shawn went out of town for a few days and asked us to watch the grandkids for four nights (Thursday through Monday).  They can be a handful, but it is so much fun!

Sondra continues to lead the Tuesday morning Ladies Bible study in the home of one of the church members who lives near the church.  They affirm her and tell her how much they are learning in the intimate setting of a home Bible study on the Gospel of John.

Tomorrow, there will be a group going down to the taping of "Let's Make A Deal" in Hollywood.  Last year, a lady in our church won a brand new car!
Lastly, I saw this cartoon about a drug test that was too funny!  I know some of our guys in the Sober Living Program at Coronado Stone will get a kick out of it.  I spoke last Thursday at Coronado as part of my ministry.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Celebration at the Park

This past week, I was privileged to be the featured speaker at the sixth anniversary celebration of our homeless feeding ministry at Fairmount.  On Thursday afternoon, our ministry team (headed by "Big Jim" Ward) took a hot meal of ham, mashed potatoes, vegetables and water to feed close to 70 people who come every week to get blessed with love and hope.

I preached on the topic of "Being Ready" for all that we face, both good and bad.  The bottom line is, "Are we ready to receive God's love, his forgiveness and his joy?"  There were three that stepped forward when I gave an invitation to commit to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Last Tuesday morning, Sondra began a Ladies Bible Study group in an apartment complex close to our church.  There were nine women who showed up for the very first meeting!  Sondra is starting the study with a look at the Gospel of John.  The ladies were very excited about a time of in-depth study as well as a wonderful time of fellowship and friendship.

Last Wednesday morning at 8am, I was the speaker for the morning devotional at Coronado Stone manufacturing plant.  One of the employees came up to me immediately after the devotion time and told me my message was exactly what he needed to hear that morning.  It is amazing how God uses us to meet the needs of others when we share the Word of God openly.

Last Friday evening, Sondra and I went to dinner with our friends Bob and Torie Anderson.  Torie was getting ready to leave for a five-month teaching assignment in China!  Her friendship with some Chinese educators has given her an open door to live for Christ among them and be a living witness for the sake of the Gospel.

On Saturday, Sondra and I attended a wedding in Ontario.  The young bride, Candace, was a member of the Memorial Baptist Church here in Rialto when I pastored there 1997-1999.  Candace's father, Rev. Samuel Dawkins, was a lay volunteer pastor who served with me at that church.  Samuel, originally from Jamaica,  is now a lead pastor at a church in Fontana these days.  Samuel's wife, Sonja, is the Women's Ministry Director for our Inland Empire Southern Baptist Association.

Yesterday, I preached on "Dealing with Hardship and Defeat."  I talked of King David's rise to leadership with all the troubles and hardships he faced on the road of life.  Life is a series of peaks and valleys, successes and failures, joy and trouble.  King David showed us seven keys to make it through the hard times:

(1) Stay the course.
(2) Build and maintain strong, supportive relationships.
(3) Be kind to those who cause you pain and trouble.
(4) Don't fight every battle.
(5) Be obedient to God's call and commission and tasks.
(6) Accept and go through the open doors that God gives you.
(7) Trust God completely and fully.

That's it!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hot Weather

It has been extremely hot these past weeks.  Many days in triple digits.  So, we stayed inside with the A/C cranked up to keep cool.

Last Monday, Sondra was set up to attend a class at the local Kaiser hospital for pre-diabetes information.  Her blood sugar level is not high, but since she is a candidate for diabetes with other health factors she went to the class.  It was early in the morning, and spouses were encouraged to go as well.  I went, but left after the first hour.  It was a two-hour session and I got a little bored.....ha ha.

Tuesday, I spent all morning and some of the afternoon with a church member, Steve Stillion.  He is a Vietnam veteran with many Agent Orange health problems.  He does not drive, so he asked me to take him to get several errands done concerning Health Care directives and "Power of Attorney" paperwork.  He lives alone, so we had a good time of fellowship the whole day.  He is a character that loves to tease and make jokes.  He loves to eat, so we went to Richie's Diner for breakfast and then a local Mexican restaurant for a late lunch.  It was a fun day with Steve.

That night, Sondra and I wanted to get out of the house, so we went and saw the new Batman movie, "Dark Knight."  It was entertaining and good to be out with Sondra for the evening.

On Wednesday, I had an appointment with the Audiology department out at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda.  I am being considered for some disability in connection with my military time back in the 1970s.  I was given a hearing test to see what my level is for hearing loss.

Thursday and Friday, we spent the evenings with grandkids.

On Thursday, Brynnlee spent the evening with us as Shawn and Crystal took Bailey with them to a home Bible study fellowship, in connection with their church friends.  Brynnlee is a fast crawler and loves to pull up and stand/walk while holding on to something solid.  She loves her Grandma G (Sondra), so I am relegated to second status with her.

We took care of both Bailey and Brynnlee on Friday night, actually keeping them overnight.  Shawn and Crystal got free tickets to a Toby Keith concert up at the Glen Helen Pavilion nearby.  They are a lot of fun but also lot of work to keep entertained.  Bailey loves her Papa G (that's me) and we had a great time just using scissors and paper.  Bailey doesn't cut out anything in particular, as she is willing just to have a blank piece of paper and cut it into tiny pieces.  She can entertain herself for more than an hour, just cutting and cutting and cutting.  It's fun watching her.

Sondra never gets much sleep through the night with the two girls, but that's part of the experience of taking care of them.  On Saturday morning, Shawn and Crystal came by to pick up the girls and we all went out to breakfast at Corky's.

After breakfast, I asked Sondra if she was game to head out to the beach for the day to escape the heat.  She agreed.  We called her brother Alden, who lives here in Rialto as well, and took him with us.  We drove over to Huntington Beach, as it is only about 80 miles away.  All four entrances to the parking lot were closed, as they were full when we arrived about 1:30 pm.

I then drove down Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), which is Highway 1 here in Southern California.  Every beach parking lot was full.  I drove all the way down (through Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, etc.) to San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano.  By now, it was almost 3 pm.

Frustrated but not discouraged, I went over to Interstate 5 and headed back north to Santa Monica.  Finally, going north on PCH to Pacific Palisades, there was a lot open at the Will Rogers State Beach.  We pulled in around 4:30 pm!  They charged $12 to enter, but I didn't care at this point.  I was going to sit on the beach and enjoy 'til the sun went down!

It was a great afternoon, what was left of it.  I even went down to the water's edge, walked into the waves and ducked my head under the water.  The ocean water was a little cold, but it felt good after a few seconds.  That was the first time I had actually dipped completely under the waves for many years!

We stayed until the sun was setting, probably around 7:30 pm.  We drove back home and stopped at Marie Callendar's for a quick bite.

Yesterday (Sunday), was good.  Our Praise and Worship director, Dan, had called me to say he would not be at church.  He was going to be in Los Angeles for an audition for the TV show, The Voice.  We have several others in the church who sing and are able to lead music, so I called Jimmy Davis to help us out.  He is older and is somewhat of a "troubador" in his singing style and background.  Back in the 1970s, he was a "singing waiter" at a restaurant in Santa Monica.  He loved to surf and play his guitar and sing.

Our friends, Jim and Sandy Woolard, came to church from San Bernardino and we went out to lunch together at our nearby Sizzler's restaurant.  We had a wonderful time of sharing and fellowship and friendship.  Sondra and I watched some Olympic stuff on TV, and then decided to go for a drive.  We ended by stopping at the Dairy Queen for a "cool treat."  I got a vanilla cone dipped in chocolate, Sondra wanted a hot fudge sundae.  Then we watched to closing ceremonies of the Olympics.  Relaxing way to end the weekend.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sailing to Channel Islands

Most of last week consisted of errands and visits for the church in the day, then watching the Olympics each evening.

Midweek, my brother Roger called and asked if I would accompany him on his sailboat.  He was planning to leave here (he lives close by in Fontana) on Friday morning, spend the night in the Channel Islands and then return home Saturday evening.  I agreed.

I picked Roger up and we bought some groceries, headed on to the Oxnard marina where the boat is tied up.  We left the harbor around 1:15 pm Friday and set sail for Santa Cruz Island, about 19 miles out.  We arrived at a small harbor at this uninhabited island and dropped anchor.  Roger barbecued steaks with baked potato for dinner!  We read, talked and enjoyed the beauty of God's magnificent creation (with a gentle rocking of the boat I might add).

We awoke the next morning and had scrambled eggs with pan-fried bacon (and some leftover steak as well), with cinnamon rolls and hot tea.  We played cards (the game "Hearts" with a dummy hand -- and sometimes I wondered if I was the dummy hand...ha ha.).  Leaving early in the afternoon back to mainland, we arrived at the Oxnard marina around 6 pm.  I got a lot of sun but had a very relaxed time.

Yesterday, at church, my brother John's son (John Ross II) and his wife Caryn and their two kids (Hannah and Seth) were in the worship hour with us.  John Ross had been pastoring a church down the highway but the church closed its doors as the community has changed.  It was good to visit and share with them in our worship setting.  It was a worship service in which many shared heart-felt needs of personal health, finances, jobs and relationships.  It was evident God was present in our time together.

Yesterday evening, my brother John and his wife Cathy came to Riverside to spend time with their three kids (adults who are married and all living in the Riverside area).  So, me and Sondra joined Roger at the Sizzler nearby to have dinner with John and Cathy.  It was a special time of food and fellowship, talking about old times and such.  Julie (Roger's wife) was out of town and not able to be with us.