Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Inside track

December 30, 2009


Just wrote the first draft of a letter we will send out to a lot of friends in the next days about where we are and to solicit any prayer and input they might have that would be helpful.

And then it hit me: you are a great circle of faithful friends.

So, here, in its unpolished glory is the letter. Thanks for listening to His voice while you scramble through my words:

With the changing events in our lives during the past few weeks, Jackie and I decided to wait until now to greet you at this season.

First…we hope you had a great Christmas and are entering this New Year full of faith and energy. We had a wonderful Christmas. With up to 14 family gathering, it was one of the best family seasons for us ever. Micah (home from Afghanistan) with Sarah & Ella, were with us for 10 days. It was special indeed.

About the “changing events” in our lives: on December 10th, out of the blue, the word came to us that the District was not finishing the year in budgetary strength as had been hoped and that further belt tightening was needed…in specific, the Church Development Department would have to be closed early in the New Year. In fact, we will be in the office until the end of January and then on the payroll until the end of March. Relationships here are great, (there were tears) but the financial crunch is making what could be done at the peak of District income, impossible at this point.

We have not/are not panicing. We have felt rather strongly that the Lord has a further assignment time for us….and that we should let our circle of friends in on this so that perchance the Lord may give us some wisdom through their feedback and prayers. During the four years here we have coached, taught, mentored, assessed, counseled and helped churches get going, filled pulpits, written (our blog has almost 5,000 hits now – + blogs + just between us) – and stuff I have written has been featured in the last three months, in editions of the Evangel…and a number of times in their daily blog.

Providentially, two Districts had already asked us to minister among them in ‘10 – Montana and North Dakota. We do personal health stuff, avoiding burnout, church health stuff, work with boards, help people dream bigger, help churches define process and policy. These years at RMDC I have received a lot of training in coaching and have coached and trained others in coaching. I have worked with men – both at a State and local level. Together Jackie and I have ministered in marriage weekends, and grief recovery programs – both of us were widowed some 16 years ago. We are at this time, filling in at a large AG church – on weekends – and it is going well, unified, and in fact, increasing in attendance.

A great joy during these past years is seeing pastors become so much more equipped and at ease in pastoring the Presence of God when their churches gather. In our ministry in Lincoln for 30 years (from plant at 22 to 1400 in three services) …this was a hallmark of the church gathered – the live, orderly, health-producing – presence of the Spirit among the people.
Thanks for the times you might pray with us. Thanks for any ideas you have as to how we can be a blessing. I am sending this letter to various persons who we might be very helpful to. We are hoping so.

Thanks for being our friends.

David and Jackie

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year - New Me

December 28, 2009


Need some change?

It seems that at this time of year lots of us think about it....and out comes a new stream of stop eating turkey with all that gravy :), to take exercising more seriously, to get into the word with more consistency and depth, to take more time to be with family, to be more constructive with that spare time, to be more of a servant and a whole lot less self-focused....and on it goes, we make resolutions with good intention...and then......well we both know what so often happens then....

So, I take a lot of comfort in the words of Paul (a highly intentional guy all of his life) who writes:
"What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another,
doing things I absolutely despise.....I obviously need help!
I realize that I don't have what it takes.
I can will it....but I can't do it.
I decide to do good,
but I don't really do it.
I decide not to do bad,
but then I do it anyway.
My decisions don't result in of me covertly rebel,
and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I've tried everything and nothing helps.
I'm at the end of my rope."
(Romans 7 - slected - The Message)

Making progress? - yes.
Nearing perfection? - you kidding?
Sometimes frustrated? - yes.
If that's where you are.....I am too.

However, here are some ideas that can help.

Idea #1
- Be brutally honest...about where you really are. Tell yourself (and one or two really good friends.) where you really are.
Not "out of shape" but "in really bad condition"
not "sometimes tempted" but "really blowing it when I am alone"
...use the words that contain real honesty and personal risk with them. Only truly open hearts can beat with renewing life.

Idea #2
- Take responsibility, doing something to build strength in advance of the next time of testing....throw out the stuff that tempts, pull the plug on the TV when you enter the motel room, call your partner and be accountable when you feel weak (instead of just when you get preyed upon effectively), spend a longer time in quietness and prayer when you feel drained or especially vulnerable.

Ideas 3 &4
- The method Paul suggested...what helped him live as an apostle.
Read Colossians 3:1-15.
As you do, watch for the two main movements of wisdom that he puts in focus in his words: put stuff off and put stuff on.

I like this simple approach because it matches what all of us do in another realm in a 24-hour cycle. We put off soiled clothing and we put on clean clothing.

Paul says we should regularly put off (:5ff) impurity, anger, lust, greed and more.
And his list of "put ons" is wonderful - "things above, Christ, love, peace, the word, the name of Christ, the Spirit."
Read the passage over and over, slowly and thoughtfully, out loud and silently, until the "offs" and "ons" start to root in your mind.

What is neat is that there are 3 "offs" and 8 "ons" in the passage.

It's true, change happens to all of us most effectively when our focus is not on "don'ts" but "do's."

By the way, this blog jumped 245 (to 4738 hits) since we last checked. Running super strong all through the Christmas season. Wow! Your interest is truly a blessing! Be sure to check out the last entry for what is going on in our lives.....and thanks for your prayerful support.

God bless you!

See you next year!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


December 16, 2009


It's that time.

Time for change.

Several days ago our Superintendent broke the news to me that the budget of the District is stressed again and they are going to have to take more steps to cut expenditures. He indicated that they (the Presbytery) have decided that they will have to phase out my position, which will formally shut down at the end of January. I will have a bit more severance time than that, but the decision is made.....and made with tears and very kind affirmations.

We are not alone....our culture has literally millions of people who are entering Christmas with this uncertainty and concern. There has probably not been a season like this, where God's love can be so wonderfully shown to so many. I hope you will engage beyond the normal. It is in giving that we receiving...and in pardoning that we are pardoned.

And we are not alone....because God sees us and cares about every part of the pathway of our lives. I am not just writing this....I have had strong faith in my soul during these days to really believe this.

So....we are listening and cultivating fresh sensitivity to the Spirit of God.
We are praying.
We are journaling carefully.
We are sharing with friends (like you!).
And we are asking God to use us any way He chooses to advance the Kingdom of God through us.
Some ideas are beginning to emerge...and in due time we will most likely be able to share some with you.

We covet your prayers and your listening with us.
We promise to stay in touch by this means....and will open up another sight in due season when the path before us changes and developing another site becomes possible.
The many months we have shared in this manner (with 4537 hits as of this moment) have been enriching to my soul and indeed, been used by God greatly in my own life.

Feedback from many of you has kept me going....and I promise we'll keep this going into the future.

For right now, the next few days will be a big scramble with Christmas and family - and I still have to go shopping! :)

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas....remember it is not about presents...but Presence...the very Spirit of Christ showing up in your place of residence as you speak to Him, and to one another in ways that invite His love to go beyond the normal.

May you have a Christmas so full of His life that you will never forget some of what He does among you.

Thanks for being my friend!

Merry Christmas.


Cell: 719-339-7746

I'll be back, hopefully on the 23rd...or right after Christmas itself.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


- it's a unique hebrew name that simply means, "God with us."

Unique desk dictionary with "60,00 entries and hundreds of new words" has no reference to it at all.

Unique indeed...because it describes something that is almost beyond imagination:

*That God (visible, tangible, human, interactive, present now) could actually be here among us. The God who made the cosmos?
The God who thunders from heaven?
The God who was and is and is to come?

It took something special...God acting as father, and a virgin acting as the bearer of His special presence, and a young man willing to believe and be the human representation of father as they together would carry a God-man infant to birth and through childhood. (Check out the precise and careful language of Matthew 1:1- "of whom"- feminine, singular)

And that is exactly what happened.

It took a Joseph (see prior blog) who would act as stand-in earthly father and believe that what was happening to his fiance was indeed an act of God for a God-sized purpose. It took an entirely humble and resolute man who would let scurrilous words fall to the ground and angelic words prevail...and all his hopes for a "normal" life disappear suddenly. It took an immense spirit to live out "He must increase and I must decrease" dynamics from the point of conception onwards and daily.

It took a young woman (between 12-13) who would believe, allow herself to be an instrument of divine impregnation and then carry this God-person in gestation and until delivery. And then raise Him and watch Him embark on a God-sized mission and give His life for it.

Read again the birth narratives and the life of Jesus....and ponder the dynamics that Mary and Joseph had to deal with regularly that Immanuel might come and live out His name.

And suddenly it dawns on me that it takes these dynamics still for Immanuel to presence Himself in our homes and churches. It takes humility, steadfastness, faith, self-denial and so much more - daily - for Immanuel to feel welcomed among us.

"O come, O come Immanuel".........this Christmas.



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Joe's Jam

Joe is my cousin.

We tell the story of his journey quite frequently in our family.

It was awful. He was in a terrible jam.

Joe had planned his future so carefully.

A quiet guy, he had approached his family and hers and asked for her hand.

It was granted happily and formally, and he had made copious promises to treat her well, and remain pure until the time of their formal wedding.

And now this.

She is pregnant....and beginning to show.

And she vows that she has not had intimate relationships with anyone. But she is only 13, so who knows what the real story is.

And they haven't been intimate together...he knows that for sure.

It is all so angering, confusing....and sad.

And no one believes either of them, no matter what they say..

Every time they are with people, there are the stares...and the whispers.

And his folks have given him stern words and wept with disappointment.

And now there is awkward distance.

He has considered his options:

Option 1. Protect himself - and get rid of her for good - and do it publicly to clear his name.

Option 2. Protect her and himself a little bit. Divorce her privately...that way it is a little bit of win for them both.

Option 3. Protect her totally. Believe her. Accept the cannot possibly be true...pregnant without intercourse. Go ahead and marry her - bearing with the public words and family reactions as they come. And have a birth and childhood that is so much less than desired.

And having thought of it over and over in the night, he decided to go with Option 2 - divorce her privately....and save what could be rescued of the situation for them both.

And that's when something incredible happened. God spoke to him so clearly that he could not doubt it and told him he was choosing the wrong option out of fear and disbelief.
God told him to exercise Option 3 - marry her publicly, protect her and trust God.

He did...
the child went full term and was born
and shortly thereafter they left to live for some time in Egypt.

And nothing too much was heard of Joe again.

It is believed in the family that he died early.


So Joe lived in a jam....and Jesus was born.

And what He did with His life, has forever changed the world.

Merry Christmas.

And thank you Joseph.
Because of you (too) I get to be in God's Family (with you).

Thank you, thank you, thank you.


(For more of the story, read Matthew 1 & 2)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


December 02, 2009


Years ago I remember a quick joke line was: "Have you heard about the new book that is out? It's titled: Humility and how I achieved it."

Recently I have had a number of experiences that moved me rather strongly towards that book title becoming a reality :) ...but I want to speak of just one.

I came across a web site - - that features pictures taken by Hubbel the incredibly powerful telescope that continually prowls and shoots pictures of deep space. One particularly caught my eye (crab nebulae, I believe) and for a time I focused on it - infinately far away, ablaze with blues and greens, and sprays of million-mile red gasses....and whose size means that our galaxy would fit nicely into one small corner of it.

I just stared and got transported into a new realm....that of overwhelming, living humility.

Oh, God, if all this is out there -
and on this speck called earth, I am but a miniscule group of atoms called human.
Oh, God, how can I ever rise up with anything but a soft spirit before You and my fellow pilgrims?
How can I ever live in a spirit of less than wonder?
How can I ever worship You without giving you my whole heart and mind?

And then it was like the words from a hilltop (at night) started calling to me....written by one who sat night after night watching over his sheep....and whose heart and wisdom propelled him finally to the highest ranks of his land as King.

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" (See all of Psalm 8)

So my first Christmas wish is that we like wise men of old, may take time to marvel at the heavens, look up and wonder, and live in a state of humble servanthood while on earth.

Jesus coming was signaled from the cosmos.

May we live in the light of what the cosmos was meant to do in us.