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June 2006


It has been a week of surfing and researching in several areas. In coming weeks, I'll be quoting from these and tossing around ideas that I read here, but let me get them here in my journal for future reference for all of us.

Hot Spots of the Blogsphere and Cyberspace:

Brian McLaren's blog. - It goes without saying that McClaren is da-man.

Faith Maps - A new concept inspired by a new concept. More to come on this movement/trend/product.

Allelon has a fine web site, but also a unique way of communicating their statement of faith which leave me with the conviction that the message does not change as the mode of presentation adapts. Essentially, we are talking about the age old art of translation.

Nelson Searcy's Smart - Loads of valuable leadership information for emerging church leaders as well as business leaders.

Doug Paggit's Blog - Keep up with some key events.

Dan Kimball holds forth with Vintage Faith straight fromSanta Cruz, home of the banana slug and the best boardwalk in America.

Ethics Daily is another Baptist voice in the area of public morality in the same way that Baptists Today provides another take on the news among Baptists. While we are talking along those lines, I was intrigued to find a Southern Baptist Blog Aggregator. What will be thought of next?

Wkipedia's article on the Emerging Church is a pretty good one-stop information shop.

There are several insightful bloggers at Resurgeance. I'll be reading there some.

Back to Smart Leadership and Nelson Searcy, he has a great article on there by  Herb Rubenstein called, "What Leaders Do." Loving lists as I do, I find him very helpful. It is a checklist as a matter of fact and worth a look-see for any leader or those who perceive themselves to be such.


We openned a new store for BT - Fellowship of Joy "stuff." Go to our Cafe Press shop for logo items.

There is a stimulating discussion of the house church movement on the Christian Fellowship Forum where Spencer (Ozpen) sites Barna's research begining with message # Msg # 116158.:

Have you read the latest research from the George Barna Group on the House Church growth in the USA? See:


You might be surprised at what is happening in the house church movement. This is part of what Barna writes:

Projecting these figures to the national population gives an estimate of more than 70 million adults who have at least experimented with house church participation. In a typical week roughly 20 million adults attend a house church gathering. Over the course of a typical month, that number doubles to about 43 million adults.

While many religious professionals say they are unaware of such activity, it might be because the house church is in its “ramp up” phase in the U.S. One consequence is that millions of Americans are intermittently engaged in a house church, alternating back and forth between house church and conventional church. (For clarity, the survey distinguished between involvement in a house church and participation in a small group that is associated with a conventional church.) The Barna survey revealed that of those who attend a house church, 27% attend on a weekly basis, 30% attend one to three times per month, and 43% attend less than once a month.

Why might this be that 43 million adults visit a house church every month?

This article from Christianity Today indicates that there are 60 million Chinese meeting in independent, illegal house churches:




An Old Oak

Empires come and empires go. We may not feel invincible ourselves, but we may believe that others are and dream of building a dynasty that nothing could collapse. Nothing and no one is invulnerable, but that is not to suggest that nothing is solid.

(Matthew 24:35) Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

 When I was a child, I believed that our house was the most solid reality in my life. I could not conceive of a time when it did not exit. I certainly could not imagine it ever ceasing to exist. It was so strong, so firm, and warm inside. It was a world unto itself, a place removed from the larger, more threatening environment. It was real.

There was an old oak tree in our back yard, majestic oak, reaching upward beyond any heights I believed I would ever scale. To be as tall as that oak, or at least to sit in its highest branches and look out over creation would have been the grandest of human elevations. When I lay on my back under the summer night sky, gazing into the stars, it was in the shadow of our old oak tree which I believed had much in common with those distant stars.

My house and my oak were sources of strength in my young life until one day the neighbor's house was struck by lightening and burned. Later, our Governor's daughter was struck by lightening on the beach and killed. That year, I watched my father build a room in the attic and with fascination and disappointment I came to know that houses were built with hands and were thus, somewhat artificial, and profoundly vulnerable to forces like lightening, as were people.

But the oak continued to shade us in the summer and shield us in the winter. It was the mightiest oak on our avenue. One day, the old oak was struck by lightening also. It too was vulnerable to the forces of nature. One of its most noble branches was severed and fell upon our house. Concerned that the old tree might give way in another storm and destroy our house, my parents made plans for its removal. That oak had been there long before us and had reigned over the neighborhood before it was a neighborhood. But now It was old and had grown too tall and brittle.

I learned some lessons about transience and permanence through that old tree. Nothing of this earth is permanent. All stability and strength are in God alone. Jesus was a mighty oak and they chopped Him down, but He stood up again, alive and thriving. His words last; His promises endure; His truth prevails. Nothing can silence Him. He is the temple that was destroyed and rebuilt in three days. He is the Word and He is the only permanence in a transient world.

Come visit the new Baptist Temple, Fellowship of Joy store on CafePress! Also ...You can set up your own store here. From here, you can use ready-made products, develop your own, place your logo on just about anything, self-publish, and make your own audio products. CafePress handles the order fulfillment, billing, and shipping and sends you a check. If I can help you or your church or organization with any of your online fund raising needs, let me know. Some of the best programs include magazine fund raisers and bookstores.


New Stuff on Pastor Tom's Garden of Sermon Seeds & Sprouts

I've added some preaching/teaching material at Pastor Tom's Garden of Sermon Seeds and Sprouts . Most notable and enjoyable for me are a collection of Red Skelton quotes that I gleaned from Clown Ministry . Red's enduring contribution to the world is that you don't have to be crude to be funny. He also reminds us that being silly and laughing at oneself are virtues that keep us healthy.

I conversed with an lady on an ocassion about 20 years ago (or more) who told me about meeting Red in a mall in Palm Springs while his wife was shopping. Like many husbands, he could not keep up with her and had sat down to rest while she went relentlessly about her business.

He engaged freely in a friendly conversation with these two elederly ladies for some time.

I asked the story-teller what he said when they parted. I knew what the answer would be - or at least hoped. She told me that he said, "God bless." *

God bless you too, Red ... and God bless you Clown Ministry.

* "God bless" sounds like _ "Go-wad Bleaas."

More From Starbucks

I posted my last note from Starbucks in Clovis (Armstrong and Shaw). As much as I had touted the new lunch menu, I had not tried it. Now I can report good news. The half a taragon chicked sandwich with cranberries I tasted as a sample was delicious. The young man who enthusiastically recomended it to me was right - It goes straight to the center of your tongue and from there, to your heart.

The main course for me, since it was mid-morning and I had not had lunch, was the cheese and fruit plate ($5.25). The bread was a little dry, but I think that was intended for stylistic purposes. The fruit was fresh; the cheese was magnificent.

Of course, the atmosphere was perfect - no rush, friendly people, enthusiastic staff, a place to plug in my laptop, and a T-Mobile connection (that was a bit pricey).

Now, if I could get an affiliate relationship with Starbucks --- oh never mind  --- it could effect my credibility on this particular subject.

The point - I don't know, just a follow up. The last round of postings was a conceptual endorsement; now I can vouch for the food. Since the air-conditioner is broken in my office, I will most likely be keeping office hours there quite a bit this summer.


This Is It

I was browsing through some old pictures and was reminded that this is the second summer I have not made it to Mexico for our annual home-building trek with Amor Ministries. I sure hope to get back next year. It is the best back-breaking, agony I ever enjoy.

Every year I've been down there has reminded me that I am blessed. Every time I have ever turned over the house keys to a family who has never had a need or capacity to lock their door, I am reminded of how little effort it takes to bless others - and how I never get caught up, because the blessings keep coming. Crew4

I just wanted to share a memory with this picture. What a team!!!

No Excuses - Integrity

Img_0151As I set out to type this entry about Integrity and specifically, "no excuses," I kept hitting the "m" instead of the "N." As a result, I was getting MO excuses rather than NO excuses.

I am absolutely certain that there is a lesson in that slip of the fingers. 

In the processes of eliminating my excuses, more and more present themselves. My soul is on alert for anything that can get me off the hook for my choices.  It takes a conscious effort to go back and type in the right letter so that I can have the integrity of taking responsibility for my actions.

If I run out of time for projects at the end of the day because I wasted time in the middle, I have no excuses even though I've had plenty of time to dream "mo" of them up. If I fail to reach my goals it may be because they were unrealistic or because I could not anticipate all the contingencies, or because I did not bother to do all my homework and keep on keeping on.

Excuses take time I do not have, so I cannot afford them. I do better to recognize where I went wrong and make changes there.

Excuses obscure the dream because they take us to a default position which says, "IT not your fault. It is an impossible task. No one could have done any better than you did."

Do you see the subtle message that sabotages the dream? We are checking off the box that says, "I can't change. I can never do better. I can never be more."

Excuses, not responsibility kick us in the rear end because they drag us down into a stagnant pool of stinking impossibility thinking.

I'll go with integrity. At least that way, I can do better tomorrow.

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Help yourself by visiting the following Health and Wellness Sites. There are business opportunities as well:

Discover Mangosteen
Tom's Health, Wellness and Nutirtion Site
Tom's Health and Beauty Site

Emerging Church Resource

There is such a proliferation of terminology in these days that one must carry a linguistic thermometer in his briefcase at all times to take the temperature of the times. Whether we agree or disagree with its non-existent premises, postmodernism (whatever it is) is going to factor into our daily conversations. We will at least need an internal translator if we are going to keep up with the flow.

Then, enter the emerging church, which may be nothing more than an attempt to translate clear truth into fluid language. Islam declares that it can only be fully understood using a divine language, Arabic (If I understand my friends correctly). Christianity has never made such a claim. It has always been an emerging church built upon timeless teaching, translated and retranslated.

Looking for something else, I found a very good resource for those who are trying to get a handle on things. Professor Scot McKnight is no drum beating, head nodding, non-critical, band-wagon-jumper in at Jesus Creed. His writings are insightful and theologically sound and he has gathered a satchel full of cyber resources to keep a serious student busy for some time. I agree with:

I am pleading with the critics of the Emerging Movement to accept that not all Emerging folks are hard or even soft postmodernists. To equate Emerging folk with postmodernism and to say that postmodernists deny truth so therefore the Emerging folk deny truth is unfair, libelous, and scandalous to how Christians ought to operate with one another. (I have been involved with the Emerging movement steadily for six months and an attentive listener well before that, and I have not yet heard one “hard” postmodernist approach to reality. Not one. They may be there, but I’ve not heard them, and I can say that I have looked.)

It is easy to lump everyone together and react based upon trigger words that we think we understand. Further. he contends:

I will say this again: the Emerging Movement is not entirely postmodernist in its epistemology, and it is sloppy and unfair to say that it is. What the Emerging Movement, and almost universally, is an attempt to “do church locally” in light of the postmodern condition of our world.

That is some of the free stuff. You can find most of his published work by looking at The Jesus Creed at Amazon. He is the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University (Chicago, Illinois), where he is also the Department Chair and the Director of the College of Christian Life and Thought. Technorati call his site the #1 blog on the emerging church.

I need to learn some new languages. That is clear when I write about new/old concepts with acronyms such as my article on becoming a ROOTS church or Building a Christ-Centered Community for Transformation where I use multiple "e"s to make my point.

I'll be visiting frequently and following the links.


Another Jess Sighting

Not to be stalking Jess Moody, but here is another sighting. He responded to a quote and he seems to be doing well. I had no idea he was 80 and I would love to hear him preach out here in the West again. My funny bone needs to be awakened.

From Pastor Tom's Journal: A Little Searching and we caught up with Jess Moody. Thanks to Natala for drawing him into cyberspace (though I suspect he is there all the time).

And that has made all the difference. : "what is the emerging church? Postmodernity": "Anonymous said...

He wrote this to Natala (personal remarks omitted): Noted that you mentioned me. Doris and I are retired, but working all the time. Old Jess Moody is eighty, and preaching every Sunday, and will be teaching at Palm Beach Atlantic (The university I founded 38 years ago.)Everything is great. We were blown out of our condo on the seventeenth floor, and are now living happily in a new condo here in West Palm Beach. ...

Brennan Manning

Brennan Manning will be at Spirit West Coast in Monterey August 3-5. That may be worth the trip.
Whenever I feel like a Ragamuffin, I just read a few pages of one of his books. His message board has moved to a new server.

There is a great deal of honest, gut-wrenching, and encouraging conversation there.

Speaking of which - do not forget the Religion Forum or the Christian Fellowship Forum for some hot topics.
Speaking of writers/preachers who lift our spirits, what has Jess Moody been doing lately? He does have an article on Pastor's from 2001. The last time I saw Jess, he was talking about being old, but he was vibrant and witty. Here is a quote:

"We will win the world when we realize that fellowship, not evangelism, must be our primary emphasis. When we demonstrate the Big Miracle of Love, it won't be necessary for us to go out -- they will come in."

A Treat for Avid Philip Yancey Readers

I recomend one of Philip Yancey's Best books under my Recomended Reading because it crossed my mind just this week. It is Soul Survivor - How My Faith Survived the Church. Yancey surveys the lives and works of some of his very public heroes and reflects on why their lives helped solidify his personal faith. It is well worth a long, slow, deep read. For those who love reading anything Yancey writes (that would include me), Christianity Today has archived his articles at this address. There they are for the reading!


Some Updated Blog Snippets

From the Shoestring Conspiracy: Our shoes are on our feet and ready to be tied. We are somewhere between desparately late and deeply enthused about what is to come of our days. The last thing we want to do is spend one more moment than necessary in the mundane tasks of tying strings or or buttoning shirts. Yet, they must be done and, when all goes well, life is good..  More

From Road to Success Ministries : We thought you'd like to meet our founder, Mike Lenhof. Mike has a vision to help people with disabilities like himself become independent, self-reliant, and productive in society.

He is a purpose-driven person who is devoted to Jesus Christ and deeply desires to follow God's call in this ministry. Mike is an entrepreneur who has years of experience in sales. He is married and about to celebrate the first anniversery of his marriage to Dianne, the love of his life.

More on Mike and Road to Success Ministries

From the Mangosteen Journal - Xango has come to Bermuda:

"A DIETARY supplement drink is being aggressively marketed in Bermuda, and its manufacturers are hoping residents will embrace its health benefits as eagerly as people have elsewhere.:

From The Entrepreneur's Table - It Takes Time

We previously discussed the "EYE"s of time but did not exhaust the topic by any means. Everything takes time - especially if they are important enough to deserve our attention and effort. Here is yet another acronym: TIME, with the "t" for temperance, tenacity and transience, the "i" for indeterminate, individual, and instantaneous, the "m" for mastery, magnification, and ministry, and the "e" for experience, expectation, and excitement. More at It Takes Time.

Sponsored by
Discover Mangosteen

Returned from Camp

Campsierra2006_pastor_tom_53I have returned from camp and I am sitting in my office at 9:30 P.M. trying to catch up on a week's work. But it has been worth it.

I had 14 calls on my  cell phone with messages - after I left a message that I could not retrieve any messages - patient folks I guess.

I learned a lot, but it will take some processing. In the meantime, enjoy the photos and click the links.


It is time for camp again. I'll be leaving in a few minutes for Camp Sierra for the Mid Valley Baptist Chidlren's Camp. Our theme this year is SPY Camp and it is sort of a fun thing. I'll be eating more carbs than I ought and walking some of them off. One thing I won't be doing until I get back is blogging - so hold the fort.

My Dad, the Salesman

Dad excelled in the sales profession. I am not sure what techniques he learned or practiced through the years to close a deal. I just know what I observed.

It wasn't the product that intrigued him although he never sold a product in which he could not believe for any company that would not keep its promises.

It wasn't the process although he often spoke of writing the definitive book on sales - its nuts and bolts for the everyday salesman who hammered out a living day in and day out, year by year. He did that and must have known something because somewhere between the dabbler and the superstar is the man or woman who can support a family in this profession.

But it was neither of those two that kept him in the business. It was the people. He loved to go from place to place - no two days the same and meet new people, see old friends, talk about this and that, and help folks get what they wanted. It was the people and the conversations.

I am sure that there are many lessons my dad taught me about sales and ministry that I learned without realzing it. I should reflect upon them someday and jot them down. However, if there were no more than this one, I'd be set for life: Put the people first.

As he lay dying from a brain tumor, gradually losing his faculties, he became agitated one day and the family asked him if he wanted something. He mustered what were some of his last words and blurted out, "I want to talk!"

He was a salesman to the end.

I was just thinking about that this Father's Day.



“He who is taught to live upon little owes more to his father's wisdom than he who has a great deal left him does to his father's care “
                    - William Penn

Not just those who live on little, but each of us is the beneficiary of someone’s “fatherhood.” In a time when fatherhood is in crisis, it behooves us to reexamine its impact and mystique.

If the relationship of father to son could really be reduced to biology, the whole earth would blaze with the glory of fathers and sons. – James Baldwin

It takes a very short time to create biological fatherhood and it is quite an undemanding exercise. It takes years, however, to make a real father. And those years are those which lead up to the moment of conception, that time between conception and birth where a man considers his commitments, and all the years afterward as he grows and develops in his role.

In the years that lead up to conception, the boy becomes a man as he observes other fathers, including his own, is mentored, admired, and assisted in the unfolding task of manhood. He is instilled with values, morals, and examples of what fatherhood is all about. These are the primary formative years in the making of a father.

In that period of time between conception and birth, a man comes to realize the awesome responsibility he has undertaken. If he is wise, he asks many questions, reads books, prays, and thinks more than he has thought for years.

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong. – Charles Wadsworth

Then, of course, he has the rest of his life to work it out, to make appropriate corrections, and to adopt behavior patterns that will prepare him for each new stage of his own sons’ and daughters’ development and for grand fatherhood.

So, he is never finished with the process of being made a father. Fortunately, we have a guide, example, and helper in our Heavenly Father. The task is great, but God is greater. You can be the father God made you to be and help train the next generation of fathers. Along the way, there are some positive steps any man can take toward becoming a better equipped father:

q Cultivate personal spiritual disciplines that you can model for the children in your life. Be a life-long disciple of Jesus Christ. Nothing will prepare you better for fatherhood.

q Make prayer, first a centerpiece of your life, and then, of your home. Pray openly, honestly, and passionately about everything.

q Be consistent. Maintain a life of integrity so that there is agreement between what you profess and what you practice.

q Show affection and healthy emotion. It is the manly thing to do.

q Walk what you talk and talk what you walk. Give visual and verbal witness to the gospel.


Look in those eyes

That look to you

In trusting love.

Look deeply and

See the role that

Fits you as a glove.

You are his Dad.

You are her Father

And should you outlive your usefulness in every other dimension

Of what we so flippantly call life,

You will never grow so old or so feeble

That this will not be your child and you the hero of every hour.

© 2005, Thomas B. Sims, All rights reserved
Gaze - Used by permission of Máté Bugár

Business Ethics?

Do not trust in extortion or take pride in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them. - Psalm 62:10

John Maxwell wrote, "There's No Such Thing as Business Ethics" and intentionally gave it a title that needed explanation.

From the verse above, it looks like Solomon learned a thing or two from his daddy. Both were great business men, but King David seemed to know something that thousands of corner cutters donning striped suits would have paid dearly to internalize before self-destructing.

Business ethics are nothing more than ethics. The Golden Rule is right because it is good and good because it is right, but it also works.

We don't have to learn one moral code for business and another for all of our other human relationships. One will do and most of it is found somewhere in the Bible.

Joining Frenzy

Lately I've been playing catch-up. I've been joining every free online community that I run across and starting blogs all over the place. Most of it is to learn what is available. If I am going to be a resource to my friends, I have to make wise recomendations. I joined MySpace, but I still don't quite "get it." Could it have something to do with being 51 years old?

So I joined Tribes. In fact, I started a discusion group to go with two of my blogs - this one and Entrepreneur's Table. The group is called Entrepreneur's Table and you are hereby invited.

One of the things that attracted me here was the chance to connect locally in my city. While I am an enthusiastic citizen of cyberspace, I know there is a real world here and I value it.

At any rate, I'll learn as I go along and report it here. Just be grateful I don't link EVERYTHING I do.

This is an exciting time in which we are living. While there is a danger of personal communication saturation, there are also wonderful opportunities to connect and grow. Thos are what I want to promote and encourage.

Cravings or Desires

I read a chapter in Proverbs most every day corresponding to the day of the month. I've been doing this for quite a while an have failed to exhaust all the insights that pop out of the page, grab me around the neck and shake the living daylights out of me.

Solomon was a successful leader who was not impressed with his own success. All he really ever wanted to be was wise. He authored or collected these sayings and they still ring true with such piercing relevance that they seem like they could have been written yesterday.

I do most of my reading and reflecting from the New International Version (c) 2002, International Bible Society.

This one grabbed me today:

13:4 - "The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied."

So what is the difference between the desire of a dilligent person and the craving of a lazy person?

From the start, we nod our heads knowingly, acknowledging that this proverb is true. A craving is a carnal drive that overwhelms our judgment and woos us into reckless thinking and action.

C is for carnal because this drive is fleshly through and through. There is not accounting for satisfaction which transcends momentary instant gratification. Carnal cravings sabotage long-term goals which require delayed gratification. The desires of the diligent are long-term desires. The antidote to unbridled Carnality is Captitol. I'll need to explain this more later, but the successful and diligent business person is not trying to satisfy the momentary cravings of the flesh, but is attempting to accumulate intellectual, spiritual, and economic capitol to build a dream over the years.

R is for reckless because we will do anything to get what we crave if we are driven by our cravings. We will make bad decisions and sloppy choices. The sluggard's true desires cannot be satisfied because he does not make the kind of choices that move him steadily toward his goals. He has bursts of energy, but no tolerance or stamina for the long haul. He is recklessly lazy. He's work hard for a moment, but refuses to pace himself for a lengthy journey. Recklessness must give way to Responsibility.

A is for absorbed in self. Nothing outside of self matters, ones own desires, ones own needs, and ones own irritations and pain. You see the same sort of thing in 21:10 -. "The wicked man craves evil. His neighbor gets no mercy from him." He is too driven by self-absorbed cravings to have empathy and compassion for anyone else. Absorption is self must give way to natural Affect, as in the capacity to be touched in the heart and moved by the heart's response to another's pain and emotion.

V is for vindictive. When mercy is lacking, one keeps score of wrongs and a new craving emerges, an irrational desire for revenge and retribution even if it means sinking ones own ship. Instead of being driven by Vindictiveness, we need to be driven by Values.

E is for evil. Define it as you will. Some will argue that there is no evil in the world. That seems to defy any honest study of history or human behavior. All of us have areas of our lives where we are drawn to darkness because there are some things that appeal to us that are not good for us or for others. It is when we give into these cravings that evil begins to creep into our hearts. We loosen our standards and suspend our ethics and before you know it, we have an Enron-sized debacle. compressed into our own lives. We must replace Evil with sound Ethics if we are going to reach our long term business goals.

S is for selfish. "I want it all for me." "It's all about me." The sluggard cannot weigh the larger issues of what is good for the community or the team. Such an individual will cash out as soon as he or she has been immediately gratified. This person is not even concerned about the self she will be in ten years - only the self right now. He makes no provision for his future. She takes no thought of leaving a legacy. He makes no effort to contribute to society.  As a result, he gets nothing - at least nothing of value or substance. Selfishness must be replaces by Selflessness. The diligent know that no person succeeds alone and gives time and energy to helping other people succeed, even if it is personally costly (and it always is - but it is also, always personally rewarding.) The outward focus yields inward rewards.

The desires of the diligent are focused on long term goals and dreams. The cravings of the sluggard are momentary and fading fast. Diligent people sacrifice a great deal for long term success, but lazy people sacrifice everything for instant gratification.

Well, that's what hit me between the eyeballs today. Perhaps together we can make something of it.


I found this at TheFathersHouse

"Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the daydreamer desires, and has nothing to show for it: but the soul of the one who is perfecting their business shall be made fat.

In other words, if it is worth dreaming about then it is worth working."

Very insightful and impressive. I love the translation and application.

And a Prayer Application

This from novelist, Janet Rubin:

Please help me to be diligent to exercise this gift. Give me a vision of what I will be in the future if I work hard. Thank You for all You are teaching me on the way.

The MultiLeveler and Ty Tribble

I am not in lockstep on all of Ty Tribble's conclusions at The MultiLeveler, but he has some valuable insights for bringing network marketing into the 21st century.

Speciifcally, I don't buy Costco's assertion that its mangosteen has more Xanthones than Xango. It is not the "first to market" response that carries the day. That fact is that they cannot get as many Xanthones in the body with their extract as Xango does with the whole fruit including the pericarp where most reside.

Then, I think his assessment of Quixtar has a mix of value (namely, suggestions for making that excelent business better) and pessimism.  Alticor may be big and it may not be as interactively savvy as market leaders, but it is making some great strides and has the credibility and structure to stand the test of time.

Any IBO can chart the course of his or her own business by creatively working within the given parameters. I intend to learn a great deal about blog-networking from Ty.

He is right. The industry is growing and cannot be stopped. It pays to shop for the right company and do it the right way.

Specifically, I have extracted some key ideas:

""Product saturation in Network Marketing has never happened. New people still buy vitamins, make-up and phone service every day. Frankly, there has never been any proof of product saturation in the history of Network Marketing.""

That is true and thousands turn 18 every day.

Here is another:

Here are some MLM 2.0 ideas:

  • Embrace Web 2.0: blogs, wikis, tags, and rss
  • Tell the truth. Most of the complaints about MLM 1.0 have to do with honesty.
  • Training your business partners should not be a profit center.
  • Don't hound people.
  • Get product pricing under control: The $80 multi-vitamin is no longer acceptable.
  • Life Balance: Exercise, Family Time, Work Time and Business Time.""

Good stufff  - especially about integrity anmd hoesty.

I am going to be reading the archives and keeping up with Ty's postings.


My Christian friends have a love and concern for non-believers. It is deep, sincere, and passionate. My atheist friends have their own concerns. Those concerns have to do with respect for their dignity and right to choose their own destinies and beliefs.

I first posted this in 2006. I think it still needs to be read. We can be faithful to truth and respectful of people:

There is a dialogue I happened upon by two of my friends, Henry Neufeld and Carol Roper. Henry is a Christian and Carol is an atheist.

Henry calls his article, "Witness without Being a Pest." Read it all. Then read Carol's entry in Philosoraptor to which Henry is responding, "Sick and Tired of God Stuff - an Open Letter to Thesists."

We can learn much by reading each blog and considering the comments as well.

You, my Evangelical friends, will not get this opportunity often. Carol is an utterly honest person. I've known her for many years. She is not an atheist for lack of hearing the message of Christianity. She simply does not believe it. I don't know if she ever will or not. What I do know is that it can't be beaten into her. When she tells you how it feels to be her, she is telling the truth and we can learn from that.

Henry is an extremely effective witness who does not feel compelled to alienate non-believers as a way of validating his fidelity to truth. He senses no burning call to be "mean for Jesus." Yet, he is a faithful witness with enough integrity to be who he is, believe what he believes, love those who disagree, and let God be God.

Carol clarifies her message even more in the comments to Henry's offering.

Henry draws an extremely insightful conclusion with this excerpt:

"Think about it this way.  You might be a pest, rather than a witness if:

  • You knock on doors belonging to people you don’t know, but can’t name your own next door neighbors
  • You know all the details of soteriology*, but don’t know where to get help for a homeless person
  • You think salvation is equivalent to joining your church congregation
  • You talk to people you despise so you can “save” them, and yet continue to despise them
  • You’re sure your relationship with Jesus makes you more special than everybody else
  • The only language you know how to speak is “church-ese”
  • You set a mental timer counting down until you will break off a friendship if the stubborn jerk doesn’t accept Jesus
  • You can’t carry on any conversation that isn’t about your religion
  • You try to befriend someone only because you think you can get him to attend church"

        (c) 2006, Henry E. Neufeld. All Rights Reserved.

I post Henry's words here because I want to make sure I don't forget them ... ever!

Thoughts from Psalm 11

Absolute Trust

In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? “ – Psalm 11:1

The impulse to flee is one of two that we face in any crisis situation. Fight and flight are the two extremes that confront humans. But there is a third option that occupies the seat of grace – it is to flow and to let God’s grace flow through you as you flow with the circumstances of life. Flowing does not require denial of danger. It acknowledges the truth of the situation, but embraces a greater truth in the mix of reality. It is the truth of God’s presence, His power, and His love. It is the truth that in Him we have a sturdy and steady refuge from danger. In God’s mercy, we neither run to the mountains to avoid potential pain nor stand to fight our battles ourselves alone. The life of faith is a journey of trust and balance. Find your refuge in God today.

For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. “ - Psalm 11:2

Wickedness lives in the midst of dark shadows. It attacks without warning and without rules of engagement. The snipers of sin and temptation align with the forces of discouragement, bitterness, despondency, and cynicism to derail our growth in grace and righteousness. Satan would have us flee to the hills and abandon our God-given assignments. Or he would be equally pleased if we would take the battle in our own strength and suffer defeat at his hand. God calls us to take refuge in Him. His is the battle; He is our protector, defender, and friend. Do not be discouraged, dismayed, or shocked by the sinister conniving of evil. Satan is an accuser and liar and hides in darkness. Bring every thought, motive, and deed to the light. Allow every memory that pains the heart to come into the brilliance of God’s grace. Then we can speak as forthrightly and with the same matter-of-factness as the psalmist. Then we can bring these matters that once caused us to tremble before a God who already knows and cares. Then we can take refuge in Him.

Foundations: Faulty and Sure

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? “ – Psalm 11:3

Who has not expressed such a lament in the recesses of a discouraged heart?  If indeed, the foundations are destroyed, there is not much the righteous can do. The righteous person depends upon foundations to stand under the weight of external conflict and internal stress. There are values and beliefs in which we invest ourselves. We call them ultimate and we hang our lives upon them. There are irreducible standards that we set for our families, our communities, and ourselves. When these are threatened, we are flung into chaos and spasmodic reaction. We cry out to God in utter desperation and confusion. “God,” we cry, “ is there nothing that is sacred, nothing that is permanent, nothing that cannot be destroyed by the forces that afflict with without and within?” And God answers us that what we thought were the foundations were only part of the extended structure of our lives, that He is our true foundation and He will never be shaken. Paul concluded that no other foundation can be laid than that which is laid: Jesus Christ (I Cor. 3:” – Psalm 11). Anything else can be destroyed, but the believer whose life is planted in Jesus Christ cannot be toppled. Trust Him in the midst of the quaking of the earth and the battering of the storm.

The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. “ – Psalm 11:4

When the foundations are seemingly being destroyed, God remains securely seated in His holy temple and rules from His throne. There is no interruption in His reign, no pause in His oversight, and no cause for concern by His subjects. He is the true foundation that cannot be shaken. He is our refuge. He is our sure protection in times of trouble. Nothing escapes His constant attention. When, in the bleakest moments, all that is right appears vanquished, He speaks and the frayed strands of time and space come into their proper order. We are not a patient people. We are easily stirred from our strident faith. We become disturbed by the news, by prognosticating commentaries on our times, and by our own emotions. We gaze into our problems with such intensity that we, for a moment, lose sight of God on His throne. But He is there. He has not moved. He will not be displaced, replaced, or ultimately ignored. The greatest relevance in the universe is that God is active and alive in His Holy temple supervising and involved in the affairs of men and women. Tune your hearts to that reality today and live in joyful confidence in God.

God is watching. There is a popular song that announces that truth but distorts it with the words, “from a distance.” That is only half-true. There will always be a distance between God and man because He is God and we are men – but that is a distance of essential nature that Jesus bridged and brought us into intimate fellowship with the Father. Even those who do not know Him are known by Him for He is as imminent as He is transcendent.  Some envision a God so far away that He requires a telescope to observe us, but it is with His eye that He watches and nothing escapes His notice. He examines us with such divine scrutiny that all is known, even that which our hearts cannot acknowledge in awareness. Knowing that God knows frees us in prayer to be absolutely honest. It liberates us from the limitations of language to open ourselves to Him. He knows every circumstance and every deed done in darkness or in light. He has all the information and, in His wisdom, is the only true and reliable interpreter of history and current events. It would behoove us to withhold judgment until He speaks in a matter for we see only within a thin spectrum of all that is. He sees all. Understand that as you meet Him in prayer today.

The God Who Sees

The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. “ – Psalm 11:5

Does this bother you? Are you disturbed by the psalmist’s assertion that there are people who God’s soul hates? Let me ask you this: at your best, how do you feel about that part of you that loves wickedness and violence? Do you not repudiate that false self within you in order to embrace the Christ-life which is the truth about who you are and who God made you to be? Doesn’t God know that the false self within you wars against the true you that He loves passionately and sacrificially? We must embrace this paradox in our understanding of God if we are to fully appreciate His love. It is love that produces this level of hate because it is wickedness and violence that destroy those made in the Father’s image. He despises that which destroys what He loves. Ask Him for a special grace today to hate within you that which destroys you and your relationship with Him and know that His love for you is so deep and strong that He will fight for you against all wickedness and violence.

Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. “ – Psalm 11:6

There is another dimension of this hate that God has for the wickedly violent: judgment. When we try to assign human emotion to God it is called “anthropomorphism.” That is a complicated word that means any attempt to understand something other than a human being by human standards. God’s hate is not man’s hate. Man expresses arbitrary hatred based upon emotional considerations (or lack thereof). God’s anger is against anything that goes against Him and it is expressed in wrath and judgment. Even that is paradoxical for He is, at the same time, actively and lovingly reaching out to the individual who is embroiled in sin and rebellion. He judges the sin and the sinner while sending His Son to take the penalty upon Himself and pleading for all to come to repentance. When we would understand the horror of the wrath of God, physical descriptions are required to impress upon us how awful it is to come under His judgment. The reality is more horrible. To go against God is to place ourselves in the concentrated path of all the evil He is flushing out of a sinful world to fashion His Kingdom. Take this truth and embrace it. In Christ, you are not under judgment. Cheer for the triumph of God’s will and invite all that will hear to come into His merciful grace. Pray for the victory of truth, righteousness, and holiness in your own life and in the life of your community.

The God Who Loves Righteousness

“For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright. “ – Psalm 11:7

God is righteous. That means that everything about Him is fully integrated into His holy character – He is 100% pure truth, love, goodness, and holiness. There are no contradictions in God – except those that we contrive in our own misunderstanding of Him. He loves justice. His heart delights in seeing things set aright. He loves consistency in our lives. He takes joy when His truth is integrated into the loose dimensions of our lives and we come into right relationship with Him. There is a promise in this verse, that the upright will see His face. What a glorious affirmation! The more we seek Him, the more our hearts are changed by His power within us and the clearer our vision of Who He is becomes. We can see God. His grace in Jesus Christ removes the scales from our eyes so that we may have a glimpse in this life and the hope of full disclosure in the life to come. Let that truth sink into the pores of your being today and celebrate it as you walk through the maze of confusing messages and distorted truth. You can see God.

More on Starbucks - The Third Place

It is over halfway through the day and I am still in utter amazement at the possibilities of having lunch at Starbucks. It is like having your two best friends meet and hit it off. I can actually read a book over lunch without feeling rushed - or have a prolonged conversation - or a casual meeting. We just really need to let this sink in.

This is a dream factory where I jump around from subject to subject as my interests vary. But I dream well in a third place and many of my entrepreneurial notions are developed there. Why not dream of more such places and gather resources as people of faith and social conscience to create them?

Dom Nozzi captures the spirit of what I am feeling in his article, "What is a 'Third Place' and Why Are They Important."

Nozzi is an urban designer and executive director of Walkable Streets  where they say of themselves, "Walkable Streets specializes in preparing and amending plans, land development regulations, quality of life regulations and community design recommendations. The guiding principle of Walkable Streets is that a walkable street is the fundamental building block of a quality community. Indeed, the pedestrian is the design imperative."

Nozzi makes this statement in his article on the third place (which Starbucks touts itself as and, in my opinion, does a fairly good job of being), ""Social condensers" -- the place where citizens of a community or neighborhood meet to develop friendships, discuss issues, and interact with others -- have always been an important way in which the community developed and retained cohesion and a sense of identity."

In my opinion, this has been one of the casualties of modernity and, perhaps one of the postive revivals of post-modernity.

According to Nozzi, it was Ray Oldenburg who coined the term in his 1989 book, The Great Good Place Oldenburg, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Sociology at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. , according to Project for Public Spaces, "argues that bars, coffee shops, general stores, and other "third places" (in contrast to the first and second places of home and work), are central to local democracy and community vitality. By exploring how these places work and what roles they serve, Oldenburg offers placemaking tools and insight for individuals and communities everywhere."

I borrow several of Oldenburg's quotes from the PPS site:

“What suburbia cries for are the means for people to gather easily, inexpensively, regularly, and pleasurably -- a ‘place on the corner,’ real life alternatives to television, easy escapes from the cabin fever of marriage and family life that do not necessitate getting into an automobile.”

“ ... Third places are nothing more than informal public gathering places. The phrase ‘third places’ derives from considering our homes to be the ‘first’ places in our lives, and our work places the ‘second.’”

"The character of a third place is determined most of all by its regular clientele and is marked by a playful mood ...."

“Life without community has produced, for many, a life style consisting mainly of a home-to-work-and-back-again shuttle. Social well-being and psychological health depend upon community. It is no coincidence that the ‘helping professions’ became a major industry in the United States as suburban planning helped destroy local public life and the community support it once lent.”

Nozzi carries the issue further with insightful articles and observations. He reminds me of a long held conviction that urban planning is crucial to the well being of society and that those who engineer our contemporary cities are contributing to the engineering of our culture for years to come.

So, social and faith-based entrereneurs must retreat to their own dream factories from time to time - sometimes at a Third Place, to reimagine what can be done - and more specifically, what THEY can do.

In Lake Forest Park, WA., they dropped all pretense and named their coffee house/bookstore, Third Place Books . The name is enough to make me want to show up.

There is even a web site called and imagine this: it is a church site! In Singapore!!! Rev.  Alvin Chan welcomes the community with these words:

"The Third Place (TTP) is a preaching point and Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC), The Methodist     Church in Singapore’s attempt at meeting the spiritual needs of the younger generation.  Put together by a very young team, the church will look to build as her foundation three very   basic yet vital components"

And then he quotes Oldenburg of all people:

"According to Ray Oldernburg an American Sociologist   who coined this term, third places are "distinctive  informal gathering places (first being the home and the second being work).       

• They make the one feel at home
• They nourish relationships and a diversity of human contact
• They help create a sense of place and community
• They invoke a sense of civic pride
• they provide numerous opportunities for serendipity
• They promote companionship
• They allow people to relax and unwind  after a long day at work;
• They are socially binding
• They encourage sociability instead of isolation
• They make life more colorful"

Was Ray right in Field of Dreams? If we build it, will they come?

Or only if we build it right and hang out the welcome matt really well ... and serve lunch?

Postscript: If you are really interested in this notion, Google will certainly be your friend and you can google from here:

Dream On!



Lunch at Starbucks

Just a quickie - but the news is too good to hold. I was nearly giddy when I saw the  sign out front of Starbucks this morning announcing their new lunch menu. It was like an answer to prayer. Now, our lives are complete. Not only can we meet our friends and prospects at our 3rd place for coffee, but we can eat our salads and sandwiches there as well. They even have a fruit and cheese plate. I am so very happy.

A Multitude of Counselors

Dennis Raup poses the question reflecting the wisdom of Solomon in Proverbs 11:14: Does your business have a multitude of counselors?

I have been deeply immersed in Proverbs for the last year, both teaching through the book several times a week and studying it daily. No other book within the Bible or outside of the Bible contains as much wise and practical teaching for how to build a successful, honorable, and God-honoring business while maintaining balance in your personal life.

I am becoming more and more convinced that of all the success literature written in the last century, most of it can be found in Proverbs.

Raup is president of Faith Connections @ Work  and produces a very helpful blog worth exploring.

Health Site

I have openned a new health products site for a line of nutritional supplements I recommend:

Tom Sims' Health Zone

I think you will be impressed with the variety of possibilities.

Be sure to check out the diet and fitness section and look at the XS Engergy drinks - delicious!!!

If you are interested in exploring this as a business possibility, click that option or contact me via phone or e-mail.

Garrison Keillor and the Movies

In years past, I would build my calendar around broadcasts of "A Prairie Home Companion." I am an avid reader of Garrison Keillor, in my mind an honorary citizen of Lake Wobegon, and an enthusiast for the kind of radio that comes out of St Paul every week.

Keillor inspired me to start telling and writing stories about Polecat Hollow - not as well, but at least to get them out there. I'll post them as I sort them at Polecat Hollow .

I have always known that Keillor was a man of faith, but I am surprised to see him interviewed so sypathetically by Christianity Today in light of the release of his first movie (actually, Robert Altman's) : A Prairie Home Companion (official movie site with trailers).

Keillor has done more for me than I am sure he intended. One of his contributions to my life is a feeling of respect for people wherever they are in life, with all of their idiosyncrasies and peculiarities. He communicates an appreciation for folks, just as they are, learning to appreciate each other and get along.

I once saw a funny play called "Greater Tuna." Folks who took me knew I would like it because I enjoyed stories about small towns. But they also thought I would see the similarities between that town and Lake Wobegon, Polecat Hollow, and Mayberry. There was very little. As I remarked when asked, "In those towns, folks love each other. They see the faults, deal with the irritations, and get along because of that love."

There is so much love in Garrison Keillor's writing - and yet I have never heard him comment on that. That is what draws me to these ficticious towns and inspires me to build such communities - starting with my own church.

I'm skipping the reviews (which I suspect will be good) and going stright to the theater. I won't miss this one.

How to Pray in Time of War

Those of us who pray and, specifically, those of us who pray publically, are often caught in a theological and ethical crisis when confronted with certain issues. We are called to pray the prayers of the people, but also called to attempt to ascertain the general wil of God in prayer. How do we pray when there is a war between two groups of people whom God loves?

Here are some wandering thoughts I have gathered on the matter:

  • Pray for policy makers, military commanders, and strategists that they will be guided by God and will be wise and truthful.
  • Pray for our enemies that God will bless them. This is a non-negotiable command from Jesus.
  • Pray that we will have our understanding of what God's blessing is tempered by God and accept His definition of His blessings to us.
  • Pray for the sergeants and chiefs that they will be able to maintain discipline and morale.
  • Pray for the soldiers, sailors, and airmen that they will be strengthened by God's grace and protected from harm—physical and emotional..
  • Pray for a minimum number of casualties on all sides.
  • Pray for the civilian populations that they will be protected from harm, hunger, and despair..
  • Pray for righteousness, justice, and peace.
  • Pray that many will turn to God, in a global movement of seeking and awakening that will turn the hearts of people toward one another as well.
  • Pray that terrorists will voluntarily submit themselves before the bar of divine mercy and human justice.
  • Pray that they and others will be saved from sin, anger, and bitterness - this is what blessing ultimately means.
  • Pray for the success of every righteous cause.
  • Pray for an end to terrorism and injustice.
  • Pray for the will of God to be done in every dimension of human affairs and for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven.
  • Pray for repentance and forgiveness regarding our individual and corporate offenses against God and other human beings.
  • Pray for oppressed people wherever they are to be liberated and that will be dealt with in a just and merciful manner.
  • Pray for comfort and healing for victims of terrorism and war and for their families.
  • Pray for families that are sending their sons and daughters to war.
  • Pray that we will hear whatever God may be saying to us in this hour and will comply with His will.
  • Pray that we will choose to be on God’s side rather asking Him to be on our side.
  • Pray for a new era of understanding, cooperation, and justice in the world.

Organizing and Indexing

I can't put everything in the same place, so I have made a feeble attempt at some organization in my thinking. Here is a roadmap of some recent posts hither and yon that I have been publishing.

Becoming a ROOTS Church: M. Scott Peck introduced us to the concept of being a “radical conservative – namely a person who always wants to get back to the “radix” or root of the matter. What does that mean for the church? See ROOTS at Transformational Communities .

Transformational Communities – 7 “E” s . If the church is not a transformational community impacting individuals, communities, and society, it is nothing at all.

Speaking of transformation. The spoken word remains one of the most effective tools for transformation that God has given us. Learning to speak effectively and inspirationally is one of the major stepping stones for transformational leadership and success. For those who want to kick it up a notch and take their speaking to the next level and are willing to spend the time and money for excellence, read this entry one more time. Marcia's workshop is a must for you.

The Road to Success is a workshop I have taught about 10 times in various locations. I decided to offer the outline at the Entrepreneur's Table

It is co-published at Vast Possibilities

What are VAST possibilities anyway?  See for yourself :

Here are some suggestions for those interested in developing New Life Patterns. So often, it is not an isolated behavior that is interfering with our goals, but a pattern that has become habitual and self-rewarding. We need a framework for change.
 Recently, I broached the question, “What is spiritual entrepreneurship?"

So, what is it?

I have started publishing some sermon seeds, sprouts, and starters that I have been sitting on for a while. Enjoy and develop. Give credit wherever it is due.

For a number of years, 31 to be a bit more exact, I have been aware that most ministries, like my own, operate on a shoestring financially. But lack of funds is no excuse for not doing ministry. I have been collecting ideas and “starters” for all these years and have begun to publish them here. I call it the Shoestring Conspiracy

I have some other projects that continue:

Writing on Luke
Reflecting on Proverbs
Wandering down the Roman Road

Why these three? Because they are a part of my regular teaching/preaching/study schedule at this time. I am also still teaching Philippians and have my book almost ready for publication.

I have some wandering reflections that I have started posting at Streams of Consciousness  including a Father's Day reflection.

I have no intention of abandoning my friends in Polecat Hollow since they are often the lenses through which I perceive and the mouthpiece through which I communicate truth to children as well as adults.

Everyone needs a journal . I just do mine online and over the phone. If you want to have me actually talk to you and can play MP3 format, visit, Pastor Tom's Journal.

We must care for our whole selves - body - mind - spirit. We are integrated and interrelated.





A Flair for the Dramatic

A Flair for the Dramatic


Our God has more than just a flair for the dramatic. He uses drama at every turn to communicate the mysteries of His truth. Two great dramas are interwoven into the history of Christianity and give us insight into God’s ways with humankind: baptism and Lord’s supper. Both of these present the story of redemption with such vivid poignancy that men and women through history have been drawn to their compelling message But that is not the whole of it. Everything God does evokes worship. 


A Flair for the Dramatic

God stepped out on stage

And every member

of the orchestra

knew it was He.

He took the baton in hand

And breathed forth


Down came the baton


And the pattern was given

With every eye upon Him.

The strings

The horns

The percussionists


Yes, the lights!

The dancers,

The actors,

The Children,

The artists !

Suddenly, the stage was filled

With performers.

And He conducted them.

And every art

And every part

Conformed to the rhythm of His Baton.

And someone in the audience remarked,

“He certainly has a flair for the dramatic.”

And all creation applauded.



Seeing the World Through Georgia's Eyes

Georgia1Why the First Lady of Cyber-Space Has Inspired Thousands

Written in 2001 - A Tribute

She graduated cum laude from Capital University where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She has been a music teacher, can play 12 instruments knows at least 7 languages. She has been featured in Discover and People, has conversed online with the Vice President, is remembered in the Smithsonian Institution and has been inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. She single-handedly designed the IBM Special Needs Data Base and holds the highest certification as a Braille music proof-reader for the Library of Congress. For eighteen years she has managed some of the busiest and most volatile forums on CompuServe with a membership of thousands. She is a woman of deep personal faith, Incidenttly, Georgia Griffith has been blind since birth and deaf for over 40 years.

Georgia’s achievements would have been noteworthy for a sighted and hearing person. In fact, most of us who met her in cyberspace would have never suspected that she was “handicapped.” I use the word, “Handicap” because that is Georgia’s word. She detests the term, “disabled.”

 “I am not disabled. I’m handicapped—just like in golf,” Georgia has reminded me time and time again. And I have never heard her complain about those handicaps.

Because, for many years, I have been preparing to write her biography, my personal files are filled with newspaper and magazine clippings, letters of congratulations from people in high places, including former President Ronald Reagan, and personal glimpses into the life and achievements of this remarkable woman that I call, “friend.” I have copies of awards, videos, interviews, and e-mails to inform my writing, but I have much more.

My memories are blessed by daily conversations over the past nine years, and two personal visits. No, I did not go to Lancaster, Ohio where Georgia lives alone in the home where she was raised. Georgia came to California with her long-time friend, Bettye Krolick with whom she served on the Board of Directors of the National Braille Association. Georgia loves to travel and she loves to sight-see. I will never forget taking her to the Science and Technology Museum in San Jose . Her curiosity and sense of wonder were active in the wide smile she displayed at we outlined words describing the exhibits in her hand. She touched displays and asked questions and, during breaks, yanked on her friends beards with a girlish giggle.

Georgia loves to eat too. Her mouth was watering in San Jose for a cup of strong, sweet, Vietnamese coffee with a plate of noodles. The stronger and hotter the better. At a banquet, people lined up to shake her hand and tell her how much she had meant to them through the years and how inspired they were by her life. She barely got through her dinner, but had a genuine smile and word of encouragement for each. When honored, she tries to deflect some of that to her friends and assistants. As an example of her humility, I have often received e-mails to this effect:

“Hurry! Write me an acceptance speech—you know, the usual, ‘I’m a nobody, but thanks for this great honor.’”

When Georgia goes out in public, she is in a wheelchair because of balance problems. However, in her home, she shuns that help and pulls herself up on a railing or crawls. Her work schedule is grueling for a young person, much less a newly initiated septuagenarian. She is constantly reading, writing, and thinking using her specially equipped Braille “monitor” on her computer. Instead of tired eyes, Georgia occasionally complains of sore hands—but she keeps going and going and going. In the evenings she reads the Bible and a novel. Retirement is never mentioned.

Every day, Georgia answers hundreds of e-mails and manages online forums with thousands of posted messages, library files, and management duties. She deals with contentious people with grace, humor, and firmness. Everyone is welcome in her forums, but they must comply with the rules and respect other people and their views.

When Georgia reads what is on her computer, she does not scan—a screen or quickly view graphics. She must convert graphical interfaces to text and read one line at a time. Having taught herself several computer languages in 1980, Georgia had to learn to navigate the world of the Worldwide web with all it’s “purty pictures” in the nineties. She did so with determination, grace, and prayer as she has tackled every other task in her life. It takes her longer to read all the material—because of the limitations of Braille technology, but once she has read it, she knows it. Her capacity for learning, digesting, storing, and retrieving information puts most people to shame. A word of advice to the novice: Never challenge Georgia to a battle of wits. You will lose

Georgia has often said, ”to live is to give” and she has lived by that philosophy. Her generosity is celebrated by many, as I can testify. Each of us, sworn to silence, is prevented from widely discussing her kindnesses to us. Therefore, we talk about her keen humor, lively faith, honesty, work ethic, compassion, fairness, and drive. . Mostly, we are grateful for her friendship.

 When I first met Georgia in the early nineties, she had recently lost her beloved mother, Toots. We prayed and talked a lot about Heaven and God’s grace. But through the years, I have learned far more about grace from her than I could have ever imparted. I am privileged to call this pioneering woman, my dear friend and sister in Christ.



Postscript: Georgia died in September of 2005 after a brief illness. It took three people to fill her jobs on CompuServe including the author. No one has been able to take her place.

(copyright, 2001, Thomas B. Sims, all rights reserved)



The Shoestring Conspiracy—Urgency

Urgency is a poor substitute for priority. When we establish an understanding of what is truly important based upon God’s abiding principles and mission, we need to stick with it. The reality is that the moment we prioritize our ministries, diversions will emerge, distractions will appear, and urgency will shout in our ears, “Stop and take care of me NOW!” 

We need to be able to say “no” to urgency any time it steps outside the boundaries of our priorities. Yes, there will be emergencies that must be faced as they arise. There will be extraneous details that must be handled. The problem arises when every urgent matter presents itself with the same emergency motif and ministry life becomes one great series of emergencies. We have fire departments to put out fires.

What is your focus? Make sure it receives a prominent place on your calendar and that you do your best to follow your calendar. Leave time for incidentals. Leave cushion for emergencies. Live by grace because you won’t meet all of your goals. But, know this, if you heed every urgent cry, you will meet none of them because your life will be controlled by something far less than your God-given priorities. Follow Rick Warren’s advice and lead a purpose-driven life.

A Psalm for the Desert

Desert neonbrand-526725-unsplash




Meeting God in the Wilderness


Psalm 29:8: The voice of the LORD shakes the desert; the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh.

You find yourself alone in the desert. You wonder if there is a word from God. There is silence. You pray. You seek. You meditate. You let the Logos take root in your heart. You wait expectantly and time passes ever so slowly. Suddenly, there is light on the obscure point over which you have prayed. As Cowper wrote, “sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he prays. It is the Lord who rises with healing in His wings.” There is clarity as your heart rejoices. You are learning to lean on God.


Psalm 29:9:- The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, "Glory!"

God’s voice speaks dramatically to us sometimes in prayer and we see the bark stripped from our old notions of truth. We ourselves are stripped of every false dependency and every layer of façade is peeled away from our lives. We are left with only the essence and we are overwhelmed. At first we make shrink from the experience of such magnificence, but as we drink in the presence of God we are transformed and our only legitimate response is worship. It is in those moments our hearts cry, “Glory!”


Psalm 29:10 –11:  The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever. The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.

When you pray, do you ever envision God as enthroned over the floods of your life and the overwhelming perplexities and troubles of the world? He is King and there is none above Him. He in enthroned over governments and armies, terrorists, criminals, multi-national corporations, and even the mass media. He is enthroned over human opinion and over the destiny of the earth. He is Lord and when we pray, we lean on Him. He will never falter. He will never fall. Whatever else you do today, pray.





Recommended by Sherry Heyl

No sooner recommended than up for you to consider:

Thanks for the recommendation, Sherry.

I welcome reviews since I have only read excerpts. Most of the reviews I have read place it in an arena of spirituality where the language and elements of the world view may differ from my own evangelical theology. However, principles are principles and some of those quoted have universal application because truth is, itself universal.

Just be aware of that as you purchase and read and you may gain some insights.


The Shoestring Conspiracy—Passion

Let's face it. Ministry on a shoestring requires an elevated level of commitment. When you are short on resources, you must draw on something else, something deep and limitless.

Passion if the at the root of our energy for ministry. It is that God-given quality that enthuses us with clarity of vision and depth of conviction. Without passion, we whither. With a vibrant passion we can overcome obstacles and rise above our moods. Passion reminds us of our essential purpose and drives us forward. Some characteristics of passionate people are:

P—Positive Priorities—Instead of avoidance behavior, people with passion move toward their commitments aligning themselves with those activities that support the causes for which they are passionate.

 A—Active Attitude Adjustments –Passionate people are constantly adjusting their own attitudes and actively tuning their minds in the direction of their goals and objectives.

S—Sincerity— There is no faking real passion. It bubbles up from within and is nurtured by our committed actions.

S – Simplicity—Passionate people can explain their mission to you in a few short sentences. Since it is clear to them, they can make it clear for you.

I—Inspiration—People with true God-given passion for ministry know the reality of God breathing His purpose through His Spirit into their lives. The calling is His and they are driven by that knowledge.

O—Open “Outwardness”— Not necessarily extroverts, passionate people love to talk about their mission and cause. It splashed out of their lives and is contagious.

N—Non-Negotiable— People with passion are not easily deterred from a mission. It becomes one of the non-negotiable values of their lives.

Also posted at The Shoestring Conspiracy.