What is Worship - Part 4

Saturday, January 4th, 2014
Baptist Church.jpgOne of the largest misconceptions about worship today is that it something that only takes place at church, but this could not be further from the truth.  Worship can and should be done everywhere – not just within the church building.  The tabernacle and temple of Israel were designed to be symbols that reminded the Israelites of God’s presence among them – not the sole places of worship.  This concerned the Samaritan woman who asked Jesus where the acceptable place to worship was:  Israel or the mountains of Samaria.  Jesus responded by declaring “Woman, believe me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.  But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:20-24).  1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that the Christian’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in us, and Romans 12:1 tells us that we are to present our bodies “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is [our] spiritual worship.”
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What is Worship - Part 3

Friday, January 3rd, 2014
Matza Bread - Photo Credit <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/paurian>http://www.flickr.com/photos/paurian</a> .jpgIn a previous blog post, I discussed the importance of having a God-centered worship.  A God-centered worship should then take time to reflect, not only on the person of God, but also on the works of God.  God actually commanded the Israelites to include reflection in their special feasts of worship.  During the Feast of Booths, the Israelites were commanded to live in tents to remember that “the sons of Israel live in booths when [God] brought them out from the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 23:43).  The Feast of Unleavened Bread was created to celebrate the day God brought out the Israelites from the land of Egypt (Exodus 13:9) because this feast would “serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder to you on your forehead, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt.  Ark of the Covenant - Photo Credit <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/113200695@N06>http://www.flickr.com/photos/113200695@N06</a> .jpgThe Passover was designed to be a “night to be observed for the Lord for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the Lord, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.” (Exodus 12:42).  The temple and Ark of the Covenant were filled with symbols that reminded the Israelites of their history and dependence on God for salvation.  

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What is Worship - Part 2

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
Hands raised in worship - Photo Credit <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/bpbp/>http://www.flickr.com/photos/bpbp/</a>.jpgIn the previous post, we discussed the fact that worship is first knowledgeable:  you must know something about the One you are worshipping so that you are not worshipping blindly.  Knowledge alone, however, is not enough to give us the right focus for worship.  The Bible tells us that even the demons have knowledge of and believe in God, but this does not save them (James 2:19).  We must choose to make God the focus of our worship:  we cannot worship God and something else simultaneously (Matthew 6:24).  When we try to worship God in our own way we are actually worshipping ourselves:  this is false worship and not pleasing to God.  In Matthew 15:7-9, God tells us that “this people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me.  But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.”  

Continue Reading "What is Worship - Part 2" »

How to get Wisdom

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
For a writing assignment, I had to write an extended definition about a topic.  I chose to write about Wisdom.

King Solomon and the Bee“How much better is it to get wisdom than gold!  And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.”  (Proverbs 16:16)  Wisdom is something that can be very hard to define because it encompasses a number of different qualities – each working together to strengthen the others.  In today’s society, the word “wisdom” is often used interchangeably with the word “knowledge” – but this is a gross misuse of the word!  Although knowledge is a small part of wisdom, wisdom is not the collection of facts and figures to be foolishly spouted off to anyone who will be made to listen.  A wise person will share his knowledge at appropriate times so as not to humiliate or embarrass, and for the sole purpose of helping others – not to draw attention to himself.  This knowledge is used to give him the ability to make good decisions or to be discerning.  Francis Bacon said that “A prudent question is one-half of wisdom”.  A wise person is always ready to learn from others no matter how young or old for he realizes that he does not always have the right answers.  

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Are You Wise?

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010
Fourth Wiseman.jpgA while ago, my parents watched a movie called, "The Fourth Wise man". It was based on a story by Henry Van Dyke called The Other Wise Man. They were so impressed with the story, that they wanted my sisters and me to watch it as well. Here is the summary:

A magi named Artaban leaves his home and sells everything he has to go look for the Messiah. All the other magi taunted him for his decision. A reluctant servant accompanied Artaban only for a reward of his (the servant's) freedom. Artaban brings three gifts for Jesus; a ruby, a sapphire, and a pearl. Along the way, he stops and helps needy people and gives the gifts away to provide for them. He got sidetracked, and for 33 years, Artaban lived with a colony of outcasts and lepers using his medical skills and farming abilities to help them. Artaban learned that Jesus was in Jerusalem and set out to meet him. Many troubles prevented him from seeing Jesus before the crucifixion. Before Artaban’s death, Jesus rewarded his faithful servant, Artaban, with his heart’s desire.

        My dad gave my sisters and me a challenge of how many verses from the Bible we could find to support this movie. He said if we found enough verses, we could earn the new Nancy Drew computer game for the four of us to play together. My dad also said that if we write a blog post about it, we could earn another game. These are the verses and the reasons why that we found:

John 3:16- For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on Him will never perish but have eternal life. –Answers why Jesus came.

Isaiah 9:6- For unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given and the government will be upon His shoulders and His name will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. –The prophecy that Jesus was Born.

Matthew 11:5- The Blind receive sight, the Lame walk, those who have leprosy are healed, the deaf her, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor. –Blind man received his sight

Continue Reading "Are You Wise?" »

Soil, Sheep, and a Rainforest?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
SonQuest Rainforest logo.jpgAdd together almost 16,000 cookies, 1500 children, 500 workers, and five parables - and what do you have?  Vacation Bible School at Grace Baptist Church!

The girls and I were extraordinarily blessed this past week to attend Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita.  I certainly had a life-changing week.

Wendy and I shared a sixth grade classroom of 19 girls - in which Kelly was a student.  Emily led a table of first graders, and Amy sang and played the keyboard for Outdoor Music.

When the children arrived each morning, we attended a 35 minute assembly of music, drama, and information on the missionary that we were supporting.  The contest between the boys and girls was held each day to see who could donate the most money to our missionary, Ashley Ruffner, who works at a school in Ecuador.  The over $19,000 the students brought in will go to supply sports equipment, VBS materials, Bibles, and some new sound equipment to the school.  The donation also paid for a plane ticket home, so Ashley could see her father who had become ill and needed surgery.  Ashley was able to join us at the assemblies on Thursday and Friday.

After the assembly, our group went to our classroom (which our family had a blast decorating with rain forest themed decorations!) for craft time, then outside for some wet recreation time.  After a quick snack (some of those 16,000 cookies), we headed in for a message from one of our pastors or a drama group.  After that, we headed back to our room for our table time.

Continue Reading "Soil, Sheep, and a Rainforest?" »

Memories of Mrs. Linda Reece

Monday, June 28th, 2010
Roger & Linda Reece.jpgA dear woman passed into eternity to be with her Lord and Savior this past week.

Linda Reece, wife of Roger Reece, the pastor of Pine Mountain Christian Community Church fought illness for some time - although you would rarely have known it when spending time with her.

I had the opportunity to participate in a Bible study with Roger and Linda when they first came to the mountain community in 2007.  It was a Bible study based on marriage, and strengthening our marriages.  Roger and Linda were candid and wise.  There were a couple of nights when Linda led the meetings, as Roger had an elders' meeting to attend.  She did so with love and grace - and her witty sense of humor!  Linda was great for sly comments out of the side of her mouth - always polite and kind - but hysterical, nonetheless.

Continue Reading "Memories of Mrs. Linda Reece" »
Amy and Wendy Display their Awana Citation AwardsMonday, May 24, marked the completion of 12 years of hard work and service for Amy and Wendy.  That day they were each presented with the Awana Citation Award.  For young people involved in Awana, earning the Citation Award is the ultimate achievement. The Citation is their reward for thousands of hours attending group meetings, working with children, getting involved in their communities, completing 10 years of biblically grounded curriculum and learning more than 700 Bible verses.

The awards ceremony was held at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita.  Wendy was the first of three students to speak.  She shared what the various stages of Awana meant to her spiritual growth and development.  Amy delighted all by playing the piano before and during the ceremony, including two of her own compositions.  

Continue Reading "Amy and Wendy Earn the Awana Citation Award!" »
Emily Displays Her First Year Awana Trek AwardNot to be outdone by her little sister, Kelly, on May 17, our Emily completed her Awana year.  Emily finished her book, and a plaque for her accomplishments.  She, too, went above and beyond and did the extra credit and earned a certificate and pin for her efforts.

Emily had a blast this year making a DVD of the year's accomplishments (including her participation on the Bible quizzing team, and the game team).  The video was presented at the awards ceremony, and the audience enjoyed it tremendously.  She's already thinking ahead to making a video for next year.

Way to go Em!

Kelly Receives Awana Award!

Monday, June 21st, 2010
20100510 - Awana Kelly T&T Graduation Third Book AwardThumb.jpgOn May 10, 2010, Kelly completed her 5th grade Awana year.  She not only earned her third book award, but she went above and beyond the call of duty and did all of the extra credit projects - including reciting 4 questions, 32 answers, and 32 verses in one sitting - by memory!!

Job well done, Kelly!  We are proud of you!

A Carol for Today

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Tonight, my three sisters and I sang at our local church for their annual Candlelight Christmas Eve Service.  The song we chose to sing was "A Carol for Today".  The song recounts the story of Christmas and asks us this challenging question:  "Can we like the shepherds and angels say... Glory to God on high"?  Christmas is not about Santa, presents, decorations, or even about visiting one's family.  It's about God's incredible love for us.  Love so strong that He was willing to come to earth as a baby to pay for our sins through his death and resurrection.  So we on this night - as we should every night - praise God and say "Glory to God on High!"

Merry Christmas from the Mack Sisters!

Emily, Amy, Wendy, and Kelly
This weekend, a friend shared a list of the top ten things a father can give his children.

1. A Spiritual compass

2. A Biblical self-image

3. Physical affection

4. Roots and wings

5. Marital harmony

6. A positive attitude

7. Purposeful discipline

8. A good role-model

9. A passion for life

10. ______________

What would YOU add to this list?

Emily receives her Awana Timothy awardKelly receives her Awana Excellence award
We recently attended the Awana year-end celebration. Part of the activities include recognition of each child's accomplishments.

Emily (11) earned her Timothy Award through the Awana Bible club program.  She has been a part of Awana since she was 3.  To earn this award, Emily spent the last four years memorizing 438 Bible verses!  Emily also participated in Awana Bible Quizzing this year, and her team earned a second place ribbon.

Kelly (9) earned the Awana Bible club Excellence Award. Like her sister, she has participated in the Awana program since age 3.  Kelly spent the last two years memorizing 190 Bible verses.  She also represented our church at the Awana Games tournament, earning a third place ribbon, and at the Awana Bible Quizzing event, where she took home a first place medal.

Next year, Amy & Wendy will earn their Citation awards for their accomplishments, including memorization and reference of almost 800 verses.

The Awana program has spent the last 60 years helping churches and parents raise children and youth to know, love, and serve Christ.  It does this by teaching them to hide God's Word in their heart (Psalm 119:11) - by memorizing the Scriptures and by study, Q&A, and games.  Each week more than 1 million children and youth, and 250,000 volunteers participate in Awana in over 17,000 U.S. churches, and in over 100 countries.

I am thankful for the Awana program which helps parents teach their children to hid God's Word in their hearts. The Bible teaches us that God's Word does not return void. No doubt, this knowledge will serve them well throughout their lifetime.


Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
Emmanuel. It means, literally, "God with us." It's the ultimate gift; the real Christ story.

It's a message that is easily and often lost in the midst of commercialism, internet, blogging, life, presents... and even Christmas. But, it's a message we all need to know and remember - not just once a year.

There are many ways to celebrate Christmas -- many beautiful traditions. In the midst of your celebration, I encourage you to take a moment to recalibrate, if necessary, on the real reason for the season.  Don't miss the message. Don't miss the Christ in Christmas.

Merry Christmas and good night!

Too Busy Not to Pray

Sunday, December 7th, 2008
Did that title get your attention? It got mine. In fact, for the years that book has been sitting on my shelf, it's been calling out to me, irritating me frankly, as I rushed about with the business of life in the fast lane. Well, this weekend, I was home sick, something for which I'm actually quite thankful as it gave me an excuse and an opportunity to slow down.

TooBusyNotToPrayBookCover.jpgThis afternoon I reread a book, one that I purchased almost two decades ago. It's called Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be with God, by Bill Hybels. In just thirteen short chapters, Hybels considers a number of topics, beginning with the adventure of prayer, reasons we don't stop to pray, the power of prayer and a biblical pattern of prayer, finally concluding with a brief chapter on "Living in God's Presence."

I had read this book before, but it impacted me much more on the second reading, probably because when I read it for the first time I thought I had all the answers. I don't have all of the answers, just a lot of gray hair and I found the book inspiring and thought-provoking. I really appreciated Hybels' practical examples and illustrations. I probably ended up highlighting a third of the book to come back to and review in greater detail.

My next action, (after praying of course), will be to create a mind map of the key points. I find mind mapping a useful tool when I am studying or thinking about complex topics. Inspired by fellow Lotus Notes blogger, Thomas Duff, who somehow manages to write 3+ book reviews a week, I think I'll try and review this book over the next six months to a year. The book is not very thick but the concepts are quite rich and I want to treat these with the attention they deserve. For this reason, I will create a category on the blog to classify what I learn from the book.

Whether your prayer life is rich and relational, sporadic or even nonexistent, I strongly recommend the book.

Apparently, the book has remained a best seller and this year the publisher even released at 20th anniversary edition.
Amazon Link: Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be With God


Thursday, November 27th, 2008
May you and your loved ones enjoy a time of thankfulness for each other and for the blessings you have received.
O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. - Psalm 105:1

Also, please take a moment to remember the men and women in service of our country, at home and abroad. Freedom is never free.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Wealth Wall Street Can’t Touch

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
I always appreciate how my friend, Michael Hyatt, places things into perspective.

Recently, Michael posted a beautiful piece on the impact of the market's downward slide. He proposes that we can have two responses: we can focus on what we have lost or on what we have. Michael's started a list of some of the things most important to him:
...I also realized that I have a choice: I can focus on what I have lost or I can focus on what I have. I started making a mental list:
  • I have my health.
  • I have a loving wife, who is also my best friend.
  • I have five wonderful daughters, two sons-in-law and (so far) two beautiful grandchildren.
  • I have several profound friendships that encourage and challenge me.
  • I have meaningful work that I would do even if I wasn’t getting paid.
  • I have incredibly competent co-workers whom I truly love and respect.
  • I have a church that grows dearer to me with each passing year.
  • I have a relationship with God that is endlessly fascinating and fulfilling.
Michael is blessed. As I read through his list, it reminded me of just how blessed I am, too. With the exception of bullet point #3 * , I could have written the same list. It fits me perfectly.

We have so much to be thankful for.

I encourage you to read the full blog post: The Wealth Wall Street Can’t Touch

* I have only four daughters, none are married yet. That's a good thing. Daddy's not quite ready for that yet. :-o

Majesty in Worship

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

This morning, the mountains of Pine Mountain Club were alive with the voices of Majesty, as they ministered to us and challenged us from Scripture. Majesty, a ten member singing ensemble composed of full-time students from The Master's College, lead us in worship. These young people serve as ambassadors for Christ and for the college as they minister in churches throughout Southern California each week.

After church, the ensemble remained to visit and to answer questions. My daughters enjoyed visiting with the ensemble, too. We learned that the ensemble is a small group from the Master Chorale and that they travel throughout the West Coast during the school year. During the summer, they tour throughout the United States and the world. After a church potluck in the log cabin, we helped load up the van before sending the group off for their next event.

As a graduate of The Master's College, I was blessed to hear various iterations of this group at our CPS Chapel. Now, as an adjust professor, I have the opportunity to return and serve others as well.

It was not the first time our family has been blessed by their voices, and I certainly hope it will not be the last. If you live in Southern California, I encourage you to visit their Web Site to see if Majesty will be serving at a church near you.

Thank you Majesty!

Meet the Christmas Linebacker

Sunday, December 16th, 2007
I hate receiving cards or letters or e-mails signed "Merry X-Mas." Stores aren't helping this year with their politically correct advertisements and greetings. When I see their signs or advertisements wishing me a "Merry X-Mas" it makes me sick.

Thankfully, we have the Christmas Linebacker to remind people, in his unique way, that Christmas is not just about presents under a tree...

OK, so this funny video is a little over the top and the Christmas Linebacker's methods are unorthodox to say the least; but I doubt he's alone in being fed up with politically correct Christmas greetings.

And, for my friends that do not celebrate Christmas (or believe in the Christmas Linebacker) I wish you the very best this season has to offer and I hope that you don't have to meet the Christmas Linebacker to learn that Christmas about more than presents under a tree - it's about God's presence with us.

Something to think about...

Merry Christmas!

How Can I Keep from Singing Your Praise?

Sunday, December 16th, 2007
If you have ever had the experience of associating a positive experience at an event with a particular song or type of music, you'll know what I'm referring to in this post.

Last month, when I went to Manila to deliver the Beyond-Planning: eProductivity conference, I also attended church services at the Cathedral of Praise. Since my conference was during the week, I had the opportunity to attend several services at each weekend.

While some of the worship experience was new for me, we worship the same God and read from the same Bible. One of the worship songs that I heard at each service was called "How can I keep from singing your praise" by songwriter Chris Tomlin. What a beautiful song of expression of love and worship for our creator.

It's become a powerful worship song for me, as well as a sweet reminder of my time of fellowship with the dear people at COP.

I was unfamiliar with this song or songwriter, but it turns out that we sing many of Chris Tomlin's songs in our worship service, too.  Chris has an amazing gift for capturing the essence in true worship in his songs. For me, Chris' songs create a sense of awe and wonder and they add to my personal worship experience.

When I returned to the states, I went to iTunes store and purchased this song and four additional worship songs by Chris.

      How Great is Our God
      Made to Worship
      How Can I Keep from Singing
      Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

These are now on my iPod for my morning quiet (well, not so quiet) time.

Continue Reading "How Can I Keep from Singing Your Praise?" »

Out of the mouth of babes: The 23rd Psalm

Sunday, August 12th, 2007
Watch and listen, as this adorable child recites the 23rd Psalm...

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


What a blessing for this child and her parents, that they would teach her to hide God's Word in her heart. Kathy and I endeavor to do the same in our family and through our service in the  
Awana ministry.
I saw this sign outside the children's nursery at our church this morning...
Warning to parents to pick up their children from the nursery or else...

Our children are past the nursery stage but this would have been a motivator for Kathy and me to pick up the girls from the nursery promptly following the service.

How about you?
You can't share God's love with others if you never leave your church building, so this weekend, our family participated in a different kind of church ministry called "Beyond the Gates."  The purpose of this ministry is to go out into the community to serve others, as Christ did, by meeting them where they are.

Approximately 700 people showed up and we met in the conference center where we were assigned to one of 13 outreach teams, each with a specific purpose. Some teams went to local schools to help clean up, others went and did service work for various organizations in our community. Our team was one of several assigned to do community outreach in the neighborhood by simply meeting people and offering to help them in any way that we could. We drove down the street and parked our cars and got out some tools, trash bags, and car washing supplies - we weren't sure what we would need. Then, we simply walked down the street and greeted people from house to house.

Continue Reading "Beyond the Gates... The church has left the building" »
A bicycle wheel that is out of balance won't run true. Neither will a life.

Just as a bicycle wheel must be adjusted periodically to run true, in life it's important to focus on the areas that require daily attention to stay in balance. Otherwise, the bumps in the road will get you.


I've kept a record of both and I find that the gap between my stated priorities and my actual priorities can be large at times. I needed a better way to manage and track my performance so that I could see if what I did matched up with my stated priorities.
Continue Reading "Is it time to rebalance your life's priorities?" »

Mack Family Christmas Tree for 2006

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006
Christmas at our home is a major event, not only spiritually but in the decorations we put up to celebrate the birth of Christ. Our main Christmas tree (yes, there's more than one) is in the living room and because we live in fire country and we like to leave our tree up for much of December and into January, we choose to use artificial tree. This short time-lapse video clip of the Mack ladies decorating the tree will give you an idea of how it all comes together.

Merry Christmas from the Mack Family!

Note: when this video was recorded the girls were getting ready for their final competition.  The big table in the foreground is our competition robotics practice field.

Hanukkah Greetings for 2006

Friday, December 15th, 2006
The celebration of Hanukkah begins at sundown, tonight.

A delightful tradition, Hanukkah is a holiday filled with learning and lights.  

It's also an opportunity to reflect and to share stories of freedom, struggle, miracles and faith.  

To my Jewish friends and family, I offer a warm Hanukkah greeting

Grace and Peace to you.


Eric Mack
This week, my pastor shared a funny story about the danger of sending email to the wrong person and the potential consequences of reading email not intended for you.

Continue Reading "The danger of reading email not intended for you" »

God is truly the source of all skill and the goal of all labor.

These opening words, spoken by music director, D.J. Jackson, at the 2006 Baccalaureate Chapel, gave me pause to think about what I've accomplished and how thankful I am for the opportunities I have experienced.

The Baccalaureate Chapel was a powerful opportunity to assemble with the other graduates to give thanks and celebrate what God has allowed us to achieve. We sang traditional hymns, reflected on our achievements, heard some words of encouragement, and prayed for our future.

2006 Baccalaureate Chapel with Dr. John MacArthur.jpg

Dr. John MacArthur admonished the graduates:
You will be a product of your influences. Choose very well, those whom you allow to shape your life. "... everyone when he is fully trained, will be like his master." Luke 6:40
He went on to discuss how we should carefully consider our goals, and how we approach life, allowing God to work through us.

As a computer geek, allow me to describe this in geek notation:

Continue Reading "All achievements should remind us of the grace of God" »

Celebrate Emptiness!

Sunday, April 16th, 2006
A truly glorious day! My best to you and your family.

If the title of today's post is not clear, check back. I'll post details in a few days, when things slow down.


End of the Spear - Three Questions

Saturday, January 21st, 2006
After a long week, working with a client, I treated myself to the late screening of End of The Spear.  I'm glad that I did. It helped put things back into perspective for me. The "important" technology work that I did all week no longer seems so important. In fact, at the level of the people portrayed in the film, my technical work is largely irrelevant, other than it allows me serve others.

I deliberately won't blog about the details of this true story - I don't want to spoil anything or take away from the message.

I simply want you to watch the film and then ask yourself these three questions:
1. What was so important that would cause these men to do what they did?

2. Knowing all that he knew, what was so important that the son did what he did?

3. What would you do? How would you respond? Why?

The real message of this story lives in the answers to these three questions.

I hope you will go see the film and consider these questions.

I will tell you one thing about the move itself. Stay to the very end. There's are some worthwhile clips half way through the credits.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24th, 2005
It's now recorded in the blogosphere; I've been politically incorrect, at least according to some.  It won't be the first time.

It's on the record. It's my blog and, as stated in the banner for this site, I've promised to write about my adventures in life, work, and spirit.

I know, from my own personal experience, that many people who will celebrate Christmas this year will do so without a clear (or perhaps any) understanding of what it is we truly celebrate at Christmas and why Christmas is a holiday - a holy day.

In the past one hundred years or so, this holy day, has morphed into a commercial free-for-all, and now, often, a source of confrontation. But that's not Christmas; that's commerce.

Christmas is a celebration

Continue Reading "Merry Christmas!" »

Baskets of Bread

Thursday, November 24th, 2005
Many years ago, my wife put together this display for our home. Five loaves of bread and two fishes in a simple basket. Her purpose was to create a powerful visual reminder of how God provides for our needs in the same way that He did when he multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the crowds.

- Loaves and Fishes.jpg

It's so easy for us to fall into a cycle of thinking about what we do not have, yet we are richly blessed. We have a father that loves us, cares for us, and will never abandon us. Our heavenly Father loves us so much that he has provided for all of our needs, even to the point of extreme sacrifice just so that we would not miss out on the most important aspect of life. It's easy, however, to get distracted from what we really need and think about what we do not have or what we want. Specifically there are times when we may think that we do not have enough ___ [fill in the blank; money, house, things, faith; hope; love, etc.] yet God provides abundantly, according to our need.

Continue Reading "Baskets of Bread" »

The wife of noble character

Friday, October 14th, 2005
He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord. - Proverbs 18:22

Kathy, as we celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary for the 15th time, I took some time to reflect on my blessings from a biblical perspective:

A wife of noble character who can find?
     She is worth far more than rubies.

Her husband has full confidence in her
     and lacks nothing of value.

She brings him good not harm
     all the days of her life.

     - Proverbs 31:10-12

Continue Reading "The wife of noble character" »

"He finished well ..."

Sunday, June 12th, 2005
This afternoon, my family and I attended a memorial service for Dr. John R. Dunkin. Dr. Dunkin was a pastor, teacher, and president of the Los Angeles Baptist College and Theological Seminary (now, The Master's College and Seminary).

I did not know Dr. Dunkin personally, but it turns out that I know many of his family, friends, and the thousands of people whose lives he touched. Today, he touched my own.

For almost two and a half hours, I listened, in awe, as family and people who know him shared testimony of the faith and deeds of this man, a man who loved the Lord and God's Word, the Bible, and who devoted his life to others in Christian ministry. It was an awesome celebration of a life.

Since I did not know Dr. Dunkin personally, I was able to be, in some ways, a disconnected observer of his life through his memorial service. I could not help but think about the beginning of Dr. Stephen Covey's book "The 7 habits of highly effective people," in which he admonished us to "begin with the end in mind." Dr. Covey challenges us to consider what it would be like to be a guest - an observer - at our own memorial service. What would we want those present to say about our life? What would they say about it? Thinking about this today reminded me of the power of that visualization. The 600-800 people present today, are a testimony to Dr. Dunkin's legacy.

From what I can tell, Dr. Dunkin indeed began with the end in mind. He was certain of his eternal future, he knew what his purpose was, and he knew on whom his plans depended.

Dr. Dunkin's home with the Lord now. He will spend an eternity in the presence of his Lord and Savior.

He lived a rich life and he leaves a legacy of family, of leadership and changed lives.

His race on earth may be over, but his real adventure has only begun.

He finished well.

Bible Quizzing, Ridiculous?

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005
TesTeq thinks my post about Bible quizzing is ridiculous, and he's taken the time to share his point of view in a comment on my blog today.

TesTeq wrote:
Such competitions concerning religion are ridiculous in my opinion. What about "fastest said prayer" competition. Or who loves God most

Thanks for reading my blog, TesTeq, and for sharing your point of view. You did not leave an email address, and I do not know who you are, so I can only respond to you here.

TesTeq, you bring up a legitimate point: we live in a world of extremes and, as with anything, it it possible to take any competition to an extreme - even a Bible quiz.

Please permit me to share with you another perspective - my perspective: To me, the point of the Bible Quiz is not about who's the best for the sake of being the best. The purpose of Bible Quiz is to train and encourage children (and even adults) to develop a better understanding of the instruction in God's Word, the Bible, so that they can apply it in their lives.

The Awana Bible Quiz competition format is simply a tool - one that makes the learning process fun for children and one that recognizes them for their efforts.

Sports fans recognize and reward athletes for their ability to move a ball around a field; The result? athletes are encouraged to work at further developing their skills.

We have spelling and geography bees, national competitions that recognize and reward children for their ability to master spelling and geography. The result? Children are encouraged to study hard, apply what they have learned, and strive for excellence.

The Awana program and Bible Quiz recognizes children for their efforts in studying, memorizing, and applying God's Word. It works.

I hope that you noted that I did not post how the teams did in the Bible Quiz - only the athletics. Every team that competed in the Awana Bible Quiz did exceptionally well. By the way, our team did not win the Bible Quiz; we have much to learn. But we did learn a lot by preparing for and participating in the Awana Bible Quiz. It was a wonderful experience.

It is my hope that as a result of their participation in the Awana Bible Quiz, these children will hide important truths in their hearts - truths that will make all the difference in the world.

I'm glad that you read my blog, TesTeq, and I thank you for your comment this morning. I enjoy discussion.


Note to other readers of my blog. I believe Testeq has a legitimate question about taking things to an extreme. Happy to continue this discussion as time permits.

How well do you know the Bible?

Tuesday, April 5th, 2005
This weekend, I was asked to be on a panel of judges at the Awana Bible Quiz and Games. It's not as it sounds; I'm not a Bible scholar. Though, after this weekend, I'm inspired to work harder at it.

Over the weekend, my daughters, Amy and Wendy, competed in the Awana Bible Quiz and Games in Riverside, California. We arrived at seven o'clock in the morning; the Bible Quiz was held in the morning and the Awana Games took place after lunch.

GBC Awana Bible Quiz

While the games were exciting - our church team won first place - it was the Bible Quiz that impressed me the most.

For close to four hours, twenty-six teams, called "quizzers" competed in various activities to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the Bible. The two primary activities were the "Bible Quiz," and the "Speed Tests."

For the "Bible Quiz," the judge asked 30 questions, such as "In what Old Testament verse does God make a statement about Himself?" followed by three possible answers. After 30 seconds, the judge would say "paddles up," at which time a designated person on each team would select and hold up a wooden paddle to indicate the team's response - A, B, or C. The teams earned points for each correct score.

For the "Speed Tests," each team was given a  button to press. Each button was connected to a master computer that determined which teams pressed the button first and second. The team members stacked their hands -- one on top of another -- so that any child who knew the answer could trigger the button to alert the judge. The most difficult part of this event for the teams was triggering the button fast enough to be the first or second team to press the button and signal the judge -- only one team and one alternate would be called upon. A correct answer earned points; an incorrect answer earned a penalty. With twenty-six teams, the pressure was intense; it was important not only to know the correct answer but to be able to respond quickly.

GBC Awana team 2005

I served on a panel of judges for the speed tests. My role was to verify that the students, who quoted scripture as part of their answer, quoted word perfect from one of three translations. I verified the King James version (KJV) verses while two other judges verified the New International version (NIV) and the New King James Version (NKJV). I found this challenging, as we had to listen to the child recite the verse and provide the reference. While the child was quoting the verse, we had to determine the translation and whether or not they had quoted the passage word perfect. Fortunately, we were given printouts with the verses in advance, so we did not have to look anything up. There was no time. After the verse was recited, we conferred with the head judge to agree upon the translation and the accuracy of the recitation.

I am amazed at how well these young students did and I am proud of them for working so hard to memorize and apply scripture.

As one pastor put it, "a group of pastors would find it challenging to compete with the lowest-scoring team at the Awana Bible Quiz."

How well do you know your Bible?

I've got some work to do.

Whose birthday is it anyway?

Friday, December 24th, 2004
It's good to be home after spending a good part of this month in Ojai, working with clients. Since so much of the work that I do for my clients is done remotely, it is always a delight for me to connect on a personal level with the folks I serve professionally. While I had a great week -- and ate well -- it was hard to be away from my wife and children just before the holiday. I missed them a lot.

Tonight, our family lit the remaining candles in our Advent wreath as we read the story of the birth of Christ, as recorded in the Bible.  It is a beautiful story - a story of love, God's love, for all of humanity. The message of Christmas is really quite simple, it's all about a gift -- the birth of Christ.

Unfortunately, the beauty of the Christmas story and the music, song, festivities, accompanied by commercialism, politics, Santa, and even political correctness, can easily distract us from the simplicity of it all: the birth of the Savior, not in a palace but in a manger. (I'm not saying that any of these things are necessarily bad, but any of them can easily become a distraction from the true significance of this day - a day that is celebrated by so many.)

For me, as I quietly reflect on the meaning of Christmas tonight, I am grateful for the opportunity to personally celebrate.

There were many years in my life when beyond the commercial representation of Christmas, (trees, Santa, and gifts), I had no idea of what it was really about -- why did people set up trees? Why did they give gifts on this particular day? Why did St. Nicholas bring gifts?  You see, at the time, I did not know whose birthday it really was. It was a party to which I had been invited, but I did not personally know the guest of honor.

Fortunately, that changed and I came to understand the meaning of the party and who was being honored.

Image:Whose birthday is it anyway?

Tonight in church, the lights were turned off and the congregation lit candles and sang Silent Night, Holy Night. As we did this, I thought about the birthday we will celebrate tomorrow. It's not an ordinary birthday. (after all, it's the only one we still celebrate more than two thousand years later.) It is truly an event like no other. The pages of history tell us that it was an extraordinary event - one that both nations and kings have recognized as a special birth ever since. For more than two thousand years, this birth has been remembered, not only in the pages of history, but through the beautiful music, song, traditions, and celebrations that have become the mainstay of what we call Christmas.

It is my hope that tomorrow, with the celebration of Christmas upon us, that you will not be distracted from the reason for the celebration.

I know whose birthday it is and I plan to celebrate.

Wishing you Love, Joy, and Peace.

Merry Christmas!


Bearly pressed into service

Tuesday, September 7th, 2004
For the past several years, my wife and I have led the local AWANA Cubbies program in Pine Mountain Club. This year, I have been unable to be involved much, so Kathy is currently leading the program with the help of a wonderful team of volunteers.

Kathy still calls upon me from time to time - whenever she needs unusual assistance.  

Tonight was one of those nights when I was called upon to do something unusual...

Image:Bearly pressed into service
Cubbie Bear and some of his friends pose for a picture.

After the meeting, Cubbie Bear stopped by my office...

Image:Bearly pressed into service

What? Even bears have to check their e-mail sometime.

Bearly pressed into service

Tuesday, September 7th, 2004
For the past several years, my wife and I have led the local AWANA Cubbies program in Pine Mountain Club. This year, I have been unable to be involved much, so Kathy is currently leading the program with the help of a wonderful team of volunteers.

Kathy still calls upon me from time to time - whenever she needs unusual assistance.  

Tonight was one of those nights when I was called upon to do something unusual...

Image:Bearly pressed into service
Cubbie Bear and some of his friends pose for a picture.

After the meeting, Cubbie Bear stopped by my office...

Image:Bearly pressed into service

What? Even bears have to check their e-mail sometime.

Walking through the Bible, again...

Sunday, August 15th, 2004
Last year, our family participated in the popular Walk Thru the Old Testament Seminar. The seminar is an innovative way to learn about the people, places, events, and history recorded in the Bible. What I think is particularly fun about the Walk-Thru seminars is that the audience is actively engaged during the entire seminar. You can't sit still. The presenter, while teaching history, uses catch-phrases, body language, and hand-signs to help the audience literally, "Walk thru" the Old or New Testament in just four hours.

Image:Walking through the Bible, again...

There were two concurrent seminars, this year: an adult Walk-thru, and a children's Walk-Thru. I volunteered, along with several other adults, to help "Miss. Donna," as she presented the seminar to a group of almost a hundred children. Miss. Donna did an outstanding job and had everyone moving, laughing, and learning from start to finish.

At the end of the seminar, all of the kids (and even the adults) were able to demonstrate a better understanding of the people, places, and events of the New Testament from memory; they did this by reciting (in order) the more than seventy catch-phrases and hand-motions which they had learned.

It was a great deal of fun, and really helped to make the stories of the Bible come alive.

If you hear of a Walk-Thru the Bible seminar near you, look into it. I highly recommend it.

2004 Son Games VBS draws to a close

Friday, July 30th, 2004
PMCCC was hopping tonight, as our 9th VBS drew to a close, culminating in the traditional pot-providence, (I don't believe in luck) followed by a children's presentation of what they learned during the week.  

Image:2004 Son Games VBS draws to a closeImage:2004 Son Games VBS draws to a close
This year's theme, inspired by the 2004 summer Olympics in Greece, was called Son Games, and as usual, the folks at Gospel Light put together a wonderful program. Over a hundred children participated in the program, and they were joined by missionaries from Greece!

Although Kathy and I did not volunteer this year, we know all too well how much work is involved, having organized and run the Vacation Bible School ministry in the past.

We are thankful for the many volunteers, who gave generously of their time to share their love with our children and the children of this community. Thank you!

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 11th, 2004
At the conclusion of Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ, just before the credits, we see the empty tomb.  While the film ends at this point, the story does not.  Easter is my favorite day of the year because we celebrate the events that follow. For me, while that celebration continues year-round, Easter is an extra special time. I always look forward to belting out "A Mighty Fortress is our God" and other hymns with the organ at full volume accompanied by the choir and orchestra and with such amplitude that the foundations shake. To me, to call this a glorious day would be an understatement.
From our family to yours, Grace and Peace to you!
Image:Happy Easter!
I also enjoy the traditions of the day, including excited children, gift baskets, good food, and of course, fellowship with family and friends.
Image:Happy Easter!

Palm Sunday?

Sunday, April 4th, 2004
Today is Palm Sunday.  Do you know why they call it that? Kelly, age 4, does. Today in Sunday school, the children read about Palm Sunday and how the people in Jerusalem waived their palms before Jesus as He entered the city. Kelly's teacher asked if anyone knew what a palm was. Kelly raised her hand and announced that she knew all about palms because her daddy used one for work. I'm not sure the teacher was ready for that answer. Out of the mouth of babes...

This evening, we attended a mini-conference on The Passion of The Christ. Gibson's film, and its success at the box-office, has certainly stimulated discussion on the topic of Christ's Passion. For those of you who may have seen the film by Mel Gibson, you got to see the painful and graphically shocking "how" of Christ's Passion. Fortunately, the story does not stop there. Tonight, we considered the Biblical account of this life-changing event in an effort to better understand the "why" of Christ's Passion.

C.S. Lewis, Oxford and Cambridge Professor, and cohort of J. R. R. Tolkien, had this to say:
"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either he was and is the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
Next week, I'll pick up on the "Is the chicken cooked" discussion and explain the lessons I have learned about productivity from training chickens. (Yes, I actually did train a chicken)

Grace to you,


Walking through the Bible

Sunday, July 27th, 2003
This weekend, our family enjoyed a special treat: we were able to participate in the popular "Walk through the Old Testament" seminar, hosted by our church.

Image:Walking through the Bible

Over the course of an afternoon, we were taken on an unforgettable adventure back to the beginning of time. We learned to memorize stories (complete with hand motions) of prominent characters and events and places from the Bible.

It was an enjoyable afternoon. There were at least 300-400 adults in the conference center and another 200-300 children in the youth building memorizing the words and motions that tell the stories.  No note taking needed. Then, at the conclusion, we all came together in the conference center to challenge each other (adults vs children) to repeat from memory all of the events and people we had learned about.

We are looking forward to next year, when our church will host a "Walk through the New Testament" Seminar.

If you want to learn about the people, places, and events of the Bible, this is a wonderful seminar and a terrific motivator to help you along the way. http://www.walkthru.org

From double dedication to double baptism

Monday, September 2nd, 2002
On January 24, 1993, Amy and Wendy were dedicated to the Lord. A double-blessing!

19930124 - Dedication Amy & Wendy.jpg
Mom, Wendy, Pastor Loucks, Amy, and Daddy

Listen to the dedication ceremony:
RealAudio Format MP3 Format

During the past two years, Amy and Wendy each asked Jesus to be the Lord of their lives.

Yesterday,  Amy and Wendy made public their decisions to live their lives for the Lord.  They were baptized at our church, in the outdoor baptistry.  We were honored to have two special men assist in their baptism - Pastor Mel Loucks, who married Eric and I and who dedicated Amy and Wendy 10 years earlier, and Pastor Peter Beers, our current worship pastor, former choir leader, and long-time friend.  In fact, Peter and his wife, Robin, were Amy and Wendy's first visitors in the hospital when they were born!

2002 - Baptism Amy & Wendy 02.jpg
Daddy, Amy & Wendy at their baptism with Pastors Peter Beers, and Mel Loucks

2002 - Baptism Amy & Wendy 01.jpg
Daddy and Pastor Beers baptize Amy while Wendy and Pastor Loucks look on. (Wendy's up next)

Not your typical Superhero

Saturday, August 31st, 2002
A couple of months ago, our family was introduced to the "Bibleman" video series (think "Batman" who quotes Bible verses rather than throws punches). The programs are the brainchild of Willie Aames from "Eight is Enough" and "Charles in Charge."  Aames has committed his life to the Lord and is using his program to reach young children with the Gospel of Christ in a powerful way.
Image:Not your typical Superhero
We found out that the "Bibleman" also does a live stage show.  We drove up to Sonora to see the show.  We had fun, and the children loved meeting "Bibleman"  after the show.  Highly recommended. http://www.bibleman.com

Kelly’s Dedication

Wednesday, May 31st, 2000
We dedicated Kelly at church this Mother's Day.  Many family and friends turned out for the celebration.  By dedicating Kelly, we make a commitment to raise her in a Christ-centered home.  It is our prayer that when she is older, she will make a commitment to live her life for the Lord and be baptized.