Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Not much to write about what happened during the weekdays last week.  Getting errands done, preparing for Wednesday Bible study and Sunday sermon, and getting things done on the van that needed done (oil change, tire plugged, etc.), going to VA Loma Linda clinic for monthly bloodwork (coumadin medication and blood thinning check-up), shopping and other boring stuff.

During the week, I was asked by a man in the church if I could take him to a gospel quartet concert in Corona on Saturday night.  He is disabled and does not drive, is 67 years old and lives alone in a senior citizen apartment complex near our church.  I told him yes.  There were four us of that attended the evening concert.  The group that sang was named the Songfellows, a quartet that has been around for decades and had their own radio show 50 years ago.  They sang some old gospel songs and hymns throughout the concert.  I am a lover of hymns, so it was a good time of memories of old church songs that I grew up singing.

On Sunday morning, we had a wonderful time of worship.  I had a family group come and sing.  John and Nita Lopez, with their daughter and her husband (April and Caleb Brown) came and led congregational singing and then a short mini-concert.  They led us in hymns, and we were blessed.  We do not sing hymns anymore, as we use the contemporary praise songs that are current.  I love the new Praise & Worship songs, but I do miss the old hymns that have so much theology and depth.  So, I really enjoyed the hymns that we sang (Victory in Jesus, Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is All The World To Me) and the old choruses also (Yes Lord Yes, Glorify Thy Name, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus).

The four family members sang some special music and then April sang a solo of the old childhood chorus, "Jesus Loves Me" with a beautiful arrangement.  She sang with such heart and passion.  There were tears rolling down the cheeks of many individuals in the sanctuary that day.  Before I started my message after that song, I spoke to the congregation about the power of music within the soul.

I told about my experience as a Pastor in San Diego some years ago.  An elderly lady, member of our church with whom I was very close, was beaten and robbed and left for dead in her house.  Because I was her pastor and for some other reasons, I was called by the police department and given notice that she was in intensive care and not expected to live.  I was given a code to go to her special room at the hospital, as she was part of a crime scene investigation now and the police did not want her subjected to any further attack by the perpetrator.  Sondra and I immediately went over to the hospital.

The lady was in a coma, unconscious and unresponsive.  We prayed and talked to her, even with the difficulty of knowing she would not respond to us.  Then, I began to sing "Jesus Loves Me" quietly.  Even in her coma, she began to mouth the words of "Jesus Loves Me" in unison with me.  She never regained consciousness, and she passed away.  But I will never forget the power of singing "Jesus Loves Me' with a sweet old lady, laying there in a coma.  In the deepest parts of our soul, we remember what God has put into our memory bank about Him through song!

In the middle of the time of worship, were were excited to have a baptismal service.  Two individuals had come up to me a couple of weeks ago, professed their salvation experience and their desire to follow through in believer's baptism.  Pastor Jack Shelton, newly ordained a few weeks ago, is a friend to both families and he baptized the two.  It was a joy!

I preached on "Overcoming Fear" as we walk each day on our Christian journey.  Fear paralyzes, defeats, demoralized, and even causes us to do things we never thought we would do.  God said to Moses, "Fear not, stand still, watch and see my deliverance."  When faith increases, fear decreases.  When trust is strong, fear is weak.  When belief takes control, fear loses control.  So, we must trust in God totally, without reservation.  When God does not seem to answer, stay true to him.  Someone said, "When God puts you on hold, don't hand up!"  God's ways are not always logical.  God does not need your approval or your help.  God's plans are not limited.

These things God has promised.  He has said:
"I will never leave you."
"I will always protect you."
"I will strengthen you."
"I will provide for you."
"I will guide you."
"I will give you rest."
"I will forgive you."

We have no need of fear in this life!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pastor Appreciation Day, Fish Fry and More

Time got away from me last week, and I didn't get anything done on this blog.  I find myself putting short things with photos on my facebook page more often now.  This blog is my chance to take more time and deeper comments on life through the week.

A week ago Saturday, our church held a Car Wash in the morning hours to raise some funds for special events coming up.  We do not have enough youth at present for this kind of fund-raiser, so a lot of adults stepped up to wash all the vehicles that came in.  That was awesome.  Some of the men took the initiative to do some tree trimming the same morning.

That Saturday afternoon, Sondra and I went down to visit some friends, Ken and Beifei Edwards, who moved to Lake Forest (Irvine area of Orange County).  We took a mission trip together last year to Great Britain.  We ate dinner, strolled outside and talked at length.  It is special and important to take time with good friends, even if it means taking time to drive an hour and get home a little late.

A little over a week ago, my brother John and his wife Cathy were down from Taft to visit their kids.  All three of their children (John Ross, David and Alicia) and families now live in Riverside.  John Ross and his wife Caryn (and two children) now attend and are deeply involved in the Youth Ministry of our church in Riverside.  My brother John and Cathy attended our church on Sunday, October 14, and all their kids (spouses and children) came to our church as well for that day of worship.  Afterwards, we all went out to Sundowners and had a wonderful time of "family reunion" at lunch.  Roger and Julie had previous plans and therefore unable to get together with us.

When John arrived from Taft to our church, he gave me some papers that included a few of our dad's sermons.  This is a photo of dad that I like as well.  Dad was an inspiration for me in my pastoral journey of ministry. Here is just a portion of one of his written sermons on the Biblical account of Joseph in the Old Testament. Joseph was a great example of right attitude in life.

My father wrote this:      Promise yourself.....

1. To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
2. To make all your friends feel there is something good in them.
3. To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism real.
4. To think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best.
5. To forget mistakes of the past, and press on to greater achievements of the future.
6. To wear a cheerful countenance at all times.
7. To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize.
8. To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

I found this to be sage advice in these present days as well!

This past Tuesday, October 16, Sondra taught her weekly Ladies Bible study in the morning at a church member's apartment in Rubidoux.  Afterwards, we drove down to San Diego for a "day trip."  Sondra was checking on some dresses for her to wear at Evan's wedding next March (2013).  It was exciting, because she found one that looked so good, fit right and was the perfect color.  We then drove over to La Jolla Cove just to relax and view the Pacific.  I have such fond memories of La Jolla Cove, and even to this day it is a place of tranquility and beauty.

That evening, we called some dear friends, Larry and Melodee Rupe, who had been members of First Southern Baptist Church in San Diego when I pastored there in the 1990s.  We met at the El Indio Restaurant in the west part of San Diego, near Interstate 5 and Washington, for a wonderful time of fellowship and Mexican food.  This "hole in the wall" place has been featured on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" with host Guy Fietti in the past on the Food Network!  It was great fun being there.

This past Saturday, October 20, Sondra and I headed over to the Rancho Jurupa Regional Park in Rubidoux for a picnic to honor those who have served, helped and attended the Homeless Feeding the past several years at Fairmount Park in Riverside.  "Big Jim" Ward is the coordinating pastor of this ministry and planned this picnic with BBQ hamburgers and hot dogs (with side dishes), time to sit around and fellowship at length, and sports activities as well.  It was cloudy to start but then the sun broke through and we had great weather.

Yesterday (Sunday, October 21), a big day had been planned for some time.  It was Pastor Appreciation Day with a special added bonus.  A family friend and retired pastor, Rev. Earl Bigelow, came up from San Diego to put on a Fish Fry out of the goodness and blessing of his heart.  He brought the fish and actually fried it during the Sunday School hour, while we all helped set up tables and chairs outside on the front lawn for a luncheon following the worship hour.  During the worship service, special presentations were made to me (as Pastor) and to other volunteers pastors and other workers who have helped in major ways for ministry purposes in the life of the church.  I was given a basket full of goodies -- gift certificate for Red Lobster, a San Diego Chargers blanket, a bottle of Dr Pepper, a huge bundle of various candy bars and a bright blue T-shirt with the words "Vision Plus" on the front!

I preached on the subject of affirmation, encouragement and appreciation.  It was a blessed day.

Here are some photos of me with Earl and Ruby Bigelow from earlier this year down in San Diego.

These past two weeks have also been filled with daily day-care of our two grandchildren who live close by in Fontana, Bailey and Brynnlee.  It is such a joy to see them grow and develop their personalities and abilities.  Bailey is now taking both Gymnastic and Dancing lessons on two separate evenings during the week.  She is three years old.  Brynlee is a little over a year old and is walking quite well now.

Over these last two weeks, Sondra and I have taken some "date night outings" to see a couple of new movies.  One weekend we saw "Argo" with Ben Affleck, a movie about the Iranian hostage crisis of 1980.  The other movie we saw this past weekend was "Alex Cross" with Tyler Perry.  The movie was based on a book by James Patterson, who is a terrific writer of action and intrigue.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Feeling Well and Back to "Being Busy"

For about six days, I was down with the stomach bug which forced me to lay around and stay close to the bathroom.  I really got "cabin fever," just wanting to get outside to do anything.  I was unable to be at church a week ago Sunday, to be sure, because of the sickness that hit me.

Being at home on a Sunday morning was interesting. I miss being at church. So, I did some channel-switching to see some TV preachers and hear their messages. It's hard for a pastor to be totally non-judgmental or un-biased when watching other preachers, especially those who get a lot of hype on the religious programming networks.....ha ha. But, I will not tell you my opinions.....only that I was blessed by some and turned off by others. I flipped through and saw some of Franklin Jentezen, John Hagee, Joel Osteen, Ed Young, Charles Stanley, David Jeremiah and a few others I had not heard of. Anyway, one can feel lifted spiritually through "church by television," but you can't experience the warmth and love and fellowship of a congregation through the TV screen. Once again, it is evident how important church attendance, church fellowship and church involvement is! I love my church congregation so much! It is small in comparison to the mega-churches, but our fellowship is sweet...and we see God's hand touch the lives of many that the world has rejected!

Finally, last Thursday I felt like my strength was returning and the "bug" finally gone.

Last Friday morning, I dropped by to visit David McCullough who has been diagnosed recently with colon cancer stage 4.  He is out of the hospital and back living at the Sober Living House in Fontana, where he is a house manager for the program there.  He has had one round of chemo and is waiting for authorization for the second round from Medi-Cal.  Dave had taken a shower the day before, and clumps of hair were falling out.  He went to the barber and got his head shaved.  Here is a picture of him and friend Louis.

On Friday evening, I had a wedding rehearsal scheduled.  The couple had attended our church in the past, and are now attending Harvest in Riverside which is closer to them.  For various reasons, they were not able to have a pastor there do their wedding, so they called me.  I was happy to be a part of their special day.

It was an outdoor, backyard setting for the wedding day.  It was at 11 am on Saturday morning.  The sky was blue, the weather was nice and the day went smooth.

On Sunday morning, we had an ensemble group called "Light" come from California Baptist University to come and present a concert for our worship hour.  It was a blessing as they shared in testimony and song about the Good News of Jesus Christ.  I began to feel very old as they told their ages, year in school and major in school.  None of the nine students were born before 1990!  They shared that CBU now has over 6,000 students enrolled this semester.

Later, I told some of them my experiences at (then called) California Baptist College.  I started as a freshman in 1968, where we had about 700 students total and the tuition was $25 a unit!  Yes, my friends, times have changed.  We took them to a little Mexican restaurant on Mission Boulevard down from the church called Dos Pablos for lunch.

During the worship hour, I also had the privilege of leading in a Baby Dedication service.  The dedication was a joyous time, and the baby (Cecilia) came to me with open arms and a smile as I held her to pray for her.

Then, yesterday afternoon, we drove over to Chatsworth for the Third Anniversary for The Vision Plus Church 2 of Chatsworth with Pastor George Nelson.  It was a glorious day indeed.

I got home late last night, and both Sondra and I were exhausted.  Tired.  But a "good" tired!  Today, we are watching the grandkids -- Bailey and Brynnlee.  They are too much fun.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Too Sick

Not much happened in my life this past week due to stomach flu.  A lot of weakness and trotting to the bathroom.  Not fun at all.

Did Wednesday night Bible study last week, and then the "crud" hit me hard.  Since 3:30 am last Thursday morning I have not felt good at all.

Laid around and got tired of watching some of the "nothingness" that TV has to offer!  Even with 976 channels on TimeWarner Cable!

I called a good friend, a member of the church and a retired pastor, Harold Baughman, to preach for me on Sunday morning.  I really missed being at church.  Tried to watch a few of the TV preachers, so that passed away some time while Sondra was gone to church.

I missed the annual Sheriff's Rodeo in Glen Helen this year, as many of the church members attended on Sunday evening.  Sondra took Bailey, as well as Alden.  It was hot, so I'm kind of glad I didn't go anyway.

Well, that's it for now.  I am finally starting to feel just a little better today.  More later.