Category Archives: Food for Thought

January Adventure – 1

Barbara Brown TaylorWalter BrueggemanI looked at the notice in a summer Christian CenturyWalter Brueggemann and Barbara Brown Taylor were going to be speaking at at 3–day event in Georgia.  Brueggemann’s topic was Jeremiah, and Taylor’s was about spiritual practices.

I remember being intrigued by the opportunity.  They are both favorites of mine.  But the distance and time made it prohibitive in my mind.  So I had dismissed it as an interesting but impossible event.

In August Bev and I celebrated our 39th anniversary in San Francisco.  We exchanged gifts to commemorate the event.  Her gift came in a shirt box.  It was very light, so I had no clue what was in it.  When I opened the box I was surprised to find the paperwork and all reservations for the Florida event.  So all I had to do was pack my bags and go.

As I write this I am sitting in the airport in Jacksonville, Florida waiting for my connector flight to Houston.  The conference is over, and what is left are some notes and a warm glow.  The conference was a delight to the mind.  Eight hours of lecture gave me much to think about.

More comments will follow in subsequent blog entries.  However, the last three days reminded me of the need I have to receive occasional, self-indulgent refreshment like I just received at the feet of Brueggemann and Taylor.  It is impossible to provide meaningful ministry on an empty tank.


I am linked to a fellow in the Netherlands on LinkedIn dot com.  We’re also connected at Plaxo Pulse.  I’ve never met him before, but today he blessed my life with the video posted here.

I remarked to Bev what a wonder it is that I could have this online relationship without ever having any physical contact with this person.  And had I not had those connections, I would have never been aware of this video.  This is truly an digital blessing.


Whatever 01When our daughter was in high school and feeling omniscient, she had a phrase that she used to repel any attempt to enlighten her or explain some idea. The word was “whatever,” and it was guaranteed to stop any further conversation as she served notice that she had no interest at all in what was being said by her parent. “Whatever” was the ultimate definition of indifference or scorn.  Fortunately, she outgrew this.

Whatever has other definitions. 1. Everything or anything: “Do whatever you please.”  2. No matter what:  “Whatever happens, we’ll meet here tonight.”  3. Any number or kind: “Whatever requests you make will be granted.”

There are some other definitions, but this gives a good idea of its absence of a specific reference.  Whatever is used in interesting ways in the Bible and gives some insight into the kind of freedom that God gives us all. To the disciples Jesus said, “Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave.”  By so indicating, Jesus gave his disciples the freedom to choose the towns they would go to.”

The writer, Paul, told the church at Corinth that whatever they did, should be done for God’s glory. The only boundary or limitation that Paul placed on their activity was that it be God glorifying.

The writer, James, took this a step further and said that to knowingly fail to do something something good is sin. So there is an accountability that is laid on us to make good personal judgments and act on them.  It is as if God is saying to us, “Do something good.”

In Philippians 4:8 we are given the freedom to dwell on any and everything that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable or praiseworthy. Permission is not needed. We have carte blanche on these good things. We are also accorded similar freedoms in prayer.  Whatever you ask…” Jesus said.

God gives his people enormous freedom to act on the many good choices around them.  Doing good has God’s endorsement and has already been approved as long as it is for God’s glory.  That’s a no brainer.


BNI-Logo-transparent_mYesterday our new BNI leadership team got its official training for the new BNI year that begins on Thursday.  The Director of BNI Central Valley came down for the 3 hour training, and we met at a local business’ conference room.

I have to say that I am really impressed with the quality of BNI ideas and training.  Part of the reason that BNI is so successful is that they invest heavily in keeping members trained and up to a certain (expected) standard of performance.

New members have to receive MSP (Member Success Program) training in order to be able to do the extended 8–minute infomercials.  The MSP program gives some basic information and skills.  It helps you to form your ideas for your infomercial so that it is as effective as it can be.

Occasionally an area BNI chapter will host a 2–hour conference on some subject relative to marketing business.  BNI members are encouraged to attend and to think of it as attending a marketing meeting for your company where all the attendees are members of your marketing department.

BNI leaves nothing to chance.  Everything that is done has a purpose, and that is to make each member as effective a marketing agent as possible.  Which makes me wonder why more organizations, including churches, do not invest in the training of their people in the same way.


Heifer Project

Water BuffaloeOur Tennessee grandchildren are visiting us this week.  Every Christmas Bev makes a contribution in their name to the Heifer Project, and she wanted them to be able to see first-hand what Heifer does. 

HP is a non-profit organization that donates animals to people around the world who need a way to provide food and income for their families.  A heifer, for example, would provide milk and cheese for a family.  The heifer’s first calf would also be donated by that family to another family so that the blessings are passed on.

Continue reading Heifer Project

It was meant to be….

Nicole Ritchie 02I hear it all the time.  It comes in some version of “it was meant to be.”  People who are not God followers tend to talk about fate or some amorphous Cause that created a situation.

Believers credit God with the green car they just bought or the perfect job they just got.  The Christian version of it-was-meant-to-be is “God told me to do this.”  Oh really?

This is not a diatribe against being thankful to God for answered prayer.  The Bible actually encourages us to give thanks in all circumstances.  However…

Continue reading It was meant to be….

Ignorance is not a good thing!

Henry Ford 02“The only thing worse than training your people and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”  Henry Ford.


 Organizations that do not train their people are poured in ideological and methodological concrete.  In some respects they are like a university that never allows research or thought that is dated after a particular time.  This effectively freezes all learning, and the university (or organization) gets no benefits from new discovery.

Continue reading Ignorance is not a good thing!

The Global Rich List

I find that it is quite easy to feel sorry for myself when I use myself or people I consider to be more privileged than myself as points of comparison. Grumbling issues for me can include a wide variety of things.

That was until I went to the Global Rich List website. The website has a place where you can type in your annual salary, and then it compares your salary against the rest of the world. It is a sobering experience.

Global Rich List is not for the feint of heart. It shows what American dollars will purchase in the rest of the world. Here are some examples.

$8 could buy you 15 organic apples OR 25 fruit trees for farmers in Honduras to grow and sell fruit at their local market.

$30 could buy you an ER DVD Boxset OR a First Aid kit for a village in Haiti.

$73 could buy you a new mobile phone OR a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in Uganda.

$2400 could buy you a second generation High Definition TV OR schooling for an entire generation of school children in an Angolan village.

Imagine what Americans could do if they devoted even a small portion of their salaries to feeding the poor and helping Third World Countries! Enormous good could be done, and much of the anger that exists because of the frustration of poverty would be eased.

Simple Church

I just finished reading Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger. I’ve been reading it for a couple of weeks, and I am greatly impressed by its profound treatment of simplicity. Rainer and Geiger concluded as a result of a lot of research that simple churches grow more and are healthier than churches that are complex in structure and activity.

I also attended a one-day workshop on small groups in Sacramento. It was sponsored by Church Coaching Solutions and hosted by Stadia. Jim Putman was the presenter, and he is the senior pastor at a 7,000 member church in Idaho that has virtually all of its members involved in small groups. They have a phenomenally high rate of involvement.

What was interesting was that what Jim Putman presented closely mirrored what I had read in Simple Church. Simple, basic churches are actually healthier than churches that try to offer too many things and who are too complex in their organization.

I don’t know how supermarket churches will fare in coming years. They will be constantly having to offer something that is new and delicious in order to keep their momentum and structure. Simple churches, on the other hand, train small groups of people to think in terms of meaningful relationships and serving others.

Relationships and service are highly portable ideas and do not require large, complex structures to enact. At LifeSpring Church this simplicity will enable us to minister effectively to this community without over-burdening our members. Simplicity is so incredibly wise and easy to do, provided that you can turn loose of unnecessary traditions and baggage.