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March 2007

Sitting Here

I'm about done for the day after three Starbucks (not cups of Starbucks coffee - three locations!).

It is about BEING THERE and what we do when we ARE THERE!

If you are not out somewhere meeting people while you get other things accomplished, you are missing some great opportunities. You can have solitude, your phone, your internet connection, people, and coffee all at the same time and in the same place.

If you are an entrepreneur, prove it by meeting someone today. If you think you have too much office work to do for that, then pack up your office and take it to Starbucks.


In her essay, Hosannah— sarahjane asks:

    "Did you know that Palm Sunday was likely “Lamb Selection Day” for the Jewish Passover?"

Like most good things in the blogsphere, i found this gifted writer's material by accident looking for something else. Her spiritual insights and reflections earned her a spot among my bookmarks. Her honesty and authenticity are refreshing.

Insights Do Not Equal Agreement

I posted Bill Nunan's link yesterday to spark some thinking. I was impressed with his insights, but I do not agree with them.

In fact, I do believe that God tweaks the laws of nature when He so desires. I just don't think He does so often, because it is seldom necessary to do so in order to accomplish His purposes.

As to the question of whether or not God can be surprised, that may be a dip into the sea of anthropomorphism. Entering human experience,, Jesus was subject to surprise, shock, and disappointment. In eternity, God's "emotions" are so beyondour understanding as to almost be a waste of time discussing.

What impressed me about Nunan is that people can come to belief in God without having to have every "WHY" question answered.

The Entrepreneurial URGE

From the Entrepreneur's Table

The entrepreneurial urge is the motivational edge of men and women who love to develop bold initiatives and who change the world little by little.

When Steve Jobs approached John Sculley, then C.E.O. at PepsiCo about coming on board at Apple, he posed this question:

"Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to change the world?"

No doubt, Jobs knew that the question would go to the heart of Sculley's "urge" and elicit the desired response.

Do you want to change the world?

That is what entrepreneurs do every day. They change it person by person, idea by idea, perception by perception, piece by piece. They do it the way you eat an elephant, one bite at a time.

Here is an acronym for URGE. I am making it up as I write it here:

  1. U = Urgency. That is what an urge is, an inner sense of urgency that says that something has to be done and it has to be done now and by YOU!
  2. R = Resources. The entrepreneur may or may not have adequate resources, but she is willing to invest whatever she has and look for the rest. She is, after all, resourceful and sometimes that means being very creative.
  3. G = Grandiosity. The entrepreneurial urge is to think big - bigger than is practical, vaster than the present reality, greater than others can imagine. You see it when others don't.
  4. E = Energy. This is so vital to the entrepreneurial mindset and spirit. Energy flows and is directed toward the point of focus. The entrepreneur makes other people tired because he is tireless and does not quit.

Do you have the urge? Do you want to change the world?

The Holiness of the Ordinary

Holiness of the ordinary
I have accepted the self-imposed and other-reinforced assignment of considering the holiness of the ordinary. How does that which is such a part of the backdrop of our human experience as to be profaned take on the air of eternal significance and other worldly importance?

What sets apart one activity, object, or person from the other in the eyes of God and, eventually, of spiritually enlightened man?

As I often do, I went to the scriptures of my answers, initially focusing on the few uses of the word, “ordinary” in the New International Version from which these biblical quotes come.

Any of these scriptures would be sufficient fodder for a sermon on the subject. I offer these as note-crumbs from my morning’s biblical feast.

1 Samuel 21:4
But the priest answered David, "I don't have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here—provided the men have kept themselves from women."
1 Samuel 21:3-5 (in Context) 1 Samuel 21 (Whole Chapter)

Here is an example of how something sacred, holy, and consecrated was used for very ordinary purposes. The priest wanted to make sure that the men in David’s band had not been with women in recent days. David replied that they had been too busy fighting a war to have had relations with women. In fact, the women had stayed away from them.

It makes you wonder if David had a twinkle in his eye.

Whatever his demeanor, David made a point that while the men in his company had been doing something very secular, even profane, God had consecrated them almost against their will.

Holiness had been thrust upon them by circumstances.

Isaiah 8:1
[Assyria, the LORD's Instrument ] The LORD said to me, "Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. Isaiah 8:1-3 (in Context) Isaiah 8 (Whole Chapter)

In Isaiah, a very sacred task is being conducted with a very ordinary tool. The sacred and awesome Word of God was to be penned with a common instrument.

God still uses common instruments – people – to accomplish His ends and communicate His truth. 

Acts 4:13
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Acts 4:12-14 (in Context) Acts 4 (Whole Chapter)

Here, God uses ordinary men to communicate an extraordinary message. It was their ordinariness that grabbed the attention of the community. Otherwise, they might have been written off as speculative intellectuals spouting irrelevant eccentricities of philosophical curiosity.

The conclusion of the observers was that these men had been with Jesus who takes ordinary things and makes them holy.

Holiness in this case, is defined as something dedicated to God’s exclusive use as were Peter and John. Being with Jesus marked them forever. It did not removed their humanity but it made them forever immune to insignificance.   

Acts 7:20
"At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for in his father's house.
Acts 7:19-21 (in Context) Acts 7 (Whole Chapter)

Moses is distinguished as something beyond ordinary, even from birth. His parents could see it. The king’s daughter would see it. Perhaps no one else could. As he grew, he became more ordinary on the outside, but God always knew who he was and what he had been made to be.

When God found Moses after a long hiatus from the limelight, he was doing ordinary work in an ordinary place. Every day was most likely filled with certain repetitive tasks that a man of his intellect and past cultural exposure may have found boring.

But Moses seemed to relish the boredom of the ordinary because it was his refuge. It gave him security. However, he could not stay in the rut. There was something more. He had been created for a purpose. For him to stay one more day in Midian than God intended, would have been to desecrate that which was holy – his life. 

Acts 21:39
Paul answered, "I am a Jew, from Tarsus  in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people."Acts 21:38-40 (in Context) Acts 21 (Whole Chapter) 

 Rome was no ordinary city. But it was not a holy city. It was just important and powerful. Just! It would be consecrated at a later time by the blood of martyrs and the birth of the underground church.

Galatians 4:23
His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.
Galatians 4:22-24 (in Context) Galatians 4 (Whole Chapter) 

Abraham had two sons. One was born by ordinary means, the other by extraordinary intervention of God’s promise and power to activate His promise. Yet, pregnancy and birth look about the same to the naked eye. Though as old as the hills, Sarah participated in an extraordinary and holy event through the same old tired, crude, time-honored methods.

It made the ordinary holy. 

Galatians 4:29
At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.
Galatians 4:28-30 (in Context) Galatians 4 (Whole Chapter)

What makes the ordinary holy is the activity and influence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of our times and routines. Isaac was born by the power of the Spirit. When men and women are born anew that way today, it does not necessarily change their appearance (though smiles and attitudes do change a lot in the countenance). It doesn’t mean that our base bodily functions begin to take on a sweeter aroma. We don’t stop eating, sleeping, and perspiring. We still need baths.

What it does mean that the most ordinary things we do daily are somehow sanctified by who we are and what we are becoming in relation to God and His purposes. We can no longer wash dishes without it being a religious experience.

Everything is life has reflective value. Every tidbit of the life experience has theological significance for us to uncover and celebrate.

Celebration of the ordinary is the rightful expression of the holiness of the ordinary.

Humanity becomes a dance of grace.

Everything is uplifted and stamped with God’s seal of “The Lord saw that it was good.” (See Genesis 1 to be reminded of all the created elements and life forms that God called good.) 

Hebrews 11:23
By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict.
Hebrews 11:22-24 (in Context) Hebrews 11 (Whole Chapter) 

The writer of Hebrews may have heard Stephen’s last sermon – or he may have heard about it from Paul, but it deserved repeating in a fresh context. The message here is faith. It is our faith response to the Spirit’s activity and God’s intentions that makes the holiness of the ordinary real to us. Even in the presence of something extraordinarily scared – whether a moment or an object, without faith, we are oblivious to reality.

Faith, according to Hebrews 11, is substantive and evident. It illuminates the spiritually obvious for souls in oblivion.

When considering the holiness of the ordinary, faith is the lens through which we view the profane and humdrum world when we are gasping for the fresh air of wonder.

So then, what sets apart one activity, object, or person from the other in the eyes of God and, eventually, of spiritually enlightened man? It is nothing less than the activity and influence of the Spirit and the response of faith.



This Is Not Brain Surgery ... but It Makes Sense

If you are looking for a simple business, with an untapped pool of potential associates and members, Pre Paid Legal is worth examining. This is a business that is simple to duplicate, adaptable to your own schedule and style, and  one which has built in support sytems of education and individuals who have a vested interest in your success.

I got in because of a friend and really did not expect much un til I started making money. Then I "got" it.

I have tried many things and continue to operate many small businesses as an adjunct to my primary calling of ministry and my secondary calling as a writer and online entrepreneur. I can recomend this company and support group without reservation because of the integrity of the leadership, the quality of and need for the product, and the simple and fair compensation plan that gives people immediate gratification for successful efforts.

This blog is not specifically designed to promote one business plan because there are many that are excellent and no one business is for everyone. This one, however, deserves examination - espcially for people in ministry because it allows you to hold your head high and maintain posture in the community while offering a needed service for people who have been virtually locked out of the legal system.



Excerpts from Elsewhere in Tom's Cyber Realm

                       How Big Is Your God?                    


The questions we must ask ourselves in evaluating our possibilities contain some of their own answers:

How big is my God?
How compelling is my dream?
How burning is my desire?
How deep is my commitment?

You must read my posting on healthy french toast at Healthy Foods:

                       French Toast                    


Start with whole grain bread and soak it in a mixture of organic, omega 3 enriched eggs or egg whites with soy milk. READ MORE. You will not be sorry!

                       Mission Statements                    


The assignment in Sunday School last week was for each member to write a mission statement for his or her life?  Read the Rest at Polcat Hollow.

Working Pastors

I have just launched a new blogging initiative to support and encourage bi-vocational pastors, church planters, and others who are called to Christian vocation. It is called Working Pastors and is a companion to this site. I have similar blog on Blogger called Tentmakers and Other Working Pastors.

There is already a great deal of valuable information posted on these and we are just going public today!

Time and Transformation

Transformation Is God's Business

2 Corinthians 3:18
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

God is in the business of transformation. That means that those who commit themselves to transformation of people and communities are in business with God.

It is by reflecting God's glory with unveiled, vulnerable, authentic faces and fixed gazes upon Jesus Christ that the impossible is accomplished. We are trasnformed into agents of transformation. It's overhwelming wonder grows as it builds into a tsunami of ever-increasing glory!

Carving Out the Time

A minority of the people who have great dreams and the drive to to live them have the time necessary to build what is in their heart. Hearty souls do it anyway. They carve out time in small segments. They build their businesses in the cracks and crevices of their schedules. They get up early and go to bed late. They turn off their televisions. They consolidate trips. They do more than one thing at the same time.

They are creative with time and committed to their vision.

Do you waste time? Is it possible that some of you who said "no" might not realize that you do? Have you carefully considered how to be more time efficient and still have time for rest and family?

Sometimes it is a matter of optimum time. There are rhythms and tides in your day and week that, when fully appreciated and managed, allow you to do the right thing at the right time and get more done. Pay attention to the tides.

No one has done anything great just because they had a lot of time on their hands. No one has been hindered from greatness just for a lack of time.

And it all happens as the Spirit of God works in our lives with ruthless love and relentless grace.

Lyn Perry and Thought Renewal

Lyn Perry is getting the job done at Thought Renewal. His balance of good sense and biblical grounding is refreshing and challenging. Any serious entrepreneur with a deep commitment to Jesus Christ and Christian principles would do well to subscribe to Lyn's blog.

His mission is stated as, "Helping People Help Themselves to a Joyful Life of Abundance"

I first came across Lyn's work while writing and researching a Christian perspective on the recent documentary, "The Secret." I found his analysis very similar to my own . Lyn encourages employment of the "Law of Affirmation."

Here is his from one of his recent articles, Daily Afirmations, Part 3:

"I have decided to use the talents God has given me and create wealth for my family and those around me."

  • Think of my family and friends who will benefit.
  • Think of the ministries we can fund and the saints we will serve.
  • Think of our future friends we'll greet in the Kingdom.
  • Think of the tens of thousands of lives we can touch.
  • Think of the taxes we'll pay.
  • Think of the business we'll generate and the people employed because of it.
  • Think of my parents and the positive impact they've had as successful business owners.
  • Think of the legacy we'll leave.

His integration of scripture and sound business and motivational principles will keep bringing me back. I am subscribing!

Keep Your Widgets Polished

In our ongoing discussions of widgets, digits, and fidgets, there is another principle that I would like to set forth: Train your mind and attitude to be oblivious to the size and relative importance of your market when the hour comes to present your product.

Having done all of your digit and fidget work, it is now time to give present your seminar or unveil your craft. Do it well. Give it all you have. Act like your audience and/or customer represents masses of the most important elements of humanity.

Do whatever you do with dignity, quality, and class.

Do it for several reasons:

  • It is the right thing to do. You have offered your best in marketing without reservation. Now give it.
  • It is the most rewarding thing to do. You will feel better about yourself and your work if you do a good job. That postive feeling will give you internal credibility which wil e reflected in future opportunities you have to describe your product. In other words, it will bolster your own belief in what you offer.
  • It is the most practical thing to do. You have no idea who your audience is and what influence they have. Nor do you have any idea who is looking on from "behind the curtain." You will make a good impression that will not be forgotten.
  • It is the forward-thinking thing to do. You are investing in one person. Perhaps that one person will open the door to many more.
  • It is the self-edifying thing to do. If nothing else, you need the practice.
  • It is the healthy thing to do. Half-hearted effort is unhealthy in every dimension of life - mental, physical, social, business, and spiritual. Be fully engaged. (See "The Power of Full Engagement" for more insight.)

Digest of Interesting Stuff

The Seven Demands of Leadership
By Dr. John C. Maxwell
Read Full Text Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.

An earnest young man once approached me during a Q & A session, and asked, “What is the ONE THING I need to know to be a great leader?” as if he was searching for the hidden key to unlock the universe. Amused by the simplicity of his question, my answer was equally simple: “To be a great leader, there's more than ONE THING you need to know about leadership.”

Headlines: This Week in Religion News
Iraq: Negative Pentagon Report, Anti-War Demonstrations

Evangelicals Condemn Torture

UNESCO Calls for Halt to Temple Mount Dig

Here is an  example of Baptists being obstructionists on a "no-brainer" in their response to the declaration on torture:
TENNESSEE-- Torture declaration irrational, prof says.

Cover Story: Huntsville: Death Capital

Capital punishment is a hotly debated issue for many groups and prominent individuals living in the U.S. who either support or oppose it on moral, religious, and emotional grounds. One state that has become a focal point for that debate is Texas, where 385 executions have taken place over the past three decades.

In this May 2003 report, Lucky Severson traveled to Huntsville, where the state prison has carried out more executions than any other in the country, to talk to people of faith about their views on capital punishment. (Rebroadcast from May 16, 2003)

Read the full story

Profile: William Sloane Coffin

Reverend William Sloane Coffin, a former Yale University chaplain known for his peace activism during the Vietnam War and his continuing work for social justice, died last April at the age of 81. The well-known Presbyterian preacher, who had retired to the small town of Stafford, Vermont, had already suffered two strokes and was receiving hospice care for congestive heart failure. In an August 2004 interview with Bob Abernethy, the late activist spoke about his views on faith, civil rights, U.S. policies in Iraq and his lifelong commitment to world peace. (Rebroadcast from August 27, 2004)

Read the full story

Feature: Buddhist Mandala

In the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, 20 Tibetan Buddhist monks visited the U.S. hoping to help Americans heal after the terrorist attacks by building a seven-foot-wide mandala at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly cameras provide a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of this symbolic work of art. (Rebroadcast from January 18, 2002)

Read the full story

Land Gets It Right This Time:

Posted on Mar 15, 2007 | by Tom Strode WASHINGTON (BP)--Christians, Jews and Muslims should be able to live together peacefully while remaining faithful to their different beliefs, Southern Baptist religious liberty specialist Richard Land said recently in a panel discussion on Islam and the western world.  Read More.

Latest             Stories from BAPTIST PRESS
  • Ethicist: NAE torture declaration 'irrational'
  • Texas House votes to rescind HPV order
  • TV ads launch Okla. evangelism push
  • Can’t go? Then pray
  • Thanks voiced for ‘20 days of prayer’
  • Land, panel examine Islam & the West
  • Churchgoers less likely to support Giuliani
  • Why marriage is good
  • Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.  QUOTE OF THE WEEK  from SOJOURNERS

    "She may not see eye to eye with Evangelicals on abortion and gay rights, but she will make the case (like many Democrats do) that biblical values run deeper to include poverty, the environment, the war in Iraq, stopping the genocide in Darfur, etc."

    - more evidence for the broadening evangelical agenda from the congressional correspondent for Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, David Brody, in positive comments about Hillary Clinton. (Source: CBN )

    Daily updates from Jim Wallis and friends

    Jim Wallis: Ending the War is a Matter of Faith


    Jim Wallis: Evangelicals Against Torture


    Diana Butler Bass: Audio: The Practice of Diversity


    Geoff Thale: George’s Curious Adventures in South America


    Jim Wallis: The Big Debate

      Frida Berrigan: Gold Star for New Nukes?

    campaign: Evangelicals for Darfur
    We're mobilizing the unique influence of a broad group of evangelical leaders to challenge the Bush Administration to help end the Darfur genocide.
    »take action

  • H.B. London Has Been in My Mail

    The big question that pastors around Fresno were asking yesterday was, "Who gave H.B. London access to our mail?"

    The man was on target with hs observations of our common experiences and in his wise counsel.

    As soon as my bhead stops spinning, I will digest more and hare more, but here is a penetrating question based upon Jesus' encounter with Peter in John 21:

    "Do you love me more than your ministry?"

    When we can answer "yes," that is when real ministry begins.

    Spelling SALES

    I haven't done took much "spelling." So, I think I'll try my hand at the word, "SALES" this evening:

    S = Sincerity. You cannot disguise some other motivation as sincerity and fool people. You must believe in what you are promoting, representing, preaching, teaching, or selling.

    A = Attitude. It doesn't matter how often I talk about attitude, it is not enough, because your attitude will make or break you in any kind of sales. Bad attitudes lead to poor results. Positive attitudes put you on the road to success.

    L = Laughter. Your sense of humor makes you likable and someone who is easy to relate to. I am not talking about being silly and unprofessional, but your ability to laugh with people shows that you are relaxed and confident. Among other things, it is a metaphor for transparency and authenticity.

    E = Ethics. You need to be honest. No one does business with a cheat more than once. Whatever you do, do the right thing. Even if it means losing a sale, do the right thing.

    S = Spirit. I mean your spirit, not God's. You need that too and ultimately. I mean life and energy, enthusiasm and motivation that comes from the depths of your being, that gets you up and going and keeps you going. I mean finding that inner voice that encourages you, that drive that moves you, and that courage that keeps you keeping on. Come to think of it, I am talking about the Spirit of God working with your spirit.

    Dynamic Prayers

    “God, grant me the serenity to
    accept the things I cannot change,
    the courage to change the things I can,
    and the wisdom to know the difference.
    Living One Day At A Time,
    enjoying one moment at a time,
    accepting hardships as a pathway to peace;
    taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is and not as I would have it,
    trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will;
    so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
    and Supremely happy forever with You in the next.”
    (Reinhold Neibhur)

    “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
    (The Jesus Prayer)

    “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, all things in heaven and on earth are Yours. I
    desire to offer myself to You willingly and freely to be Yours forever…in the
    simplicity of my heart I offer myself to You for this day.”
    (Thomas a Kempis)


    Blog Updates

    What follows are recent excerpts of some of my blogs:

    From Transformational Communities

    From the Clogger Blogger:

    From the Entrepreneur's Table   

    From Protect Your Identity

    From Vast Possibilities

    From The Shoestring Conspiracy

    From Pastor Tom's Roman Road

    From Healthy Foods for You

    From Pastor Tom's Look at Luke

    From Pastor Tom's Comments on Proverbs

    From News From the Fellowship of Joy

    From Affiliate Buzz

    From Road to Success Ministries

    From Polecat Hollow

    from Pastor Tom's Journal

    From Pastor Tom's Garden of Sermon Seeds and Sprouts

    From Drink Xango - Mangosteen Journal

    From Mid Valley Children's Camp

    From Mid Valley Leadership Updates

    From Federal Toastmasters WebLog

    My Blog at Fresno Famous

    My profile and recent activity at Answer Bag

    Some new poems at Stream of Consciousness

    Yahoo Groups


    The Real Secret

    Interest in The Secret continues to grow as it has to a lesser degree to my response. Here is my further response. The REAL Secret is the Law of Grace.

    • Grace is the most powerful force in the universe. We are saved by grace, liberated by grace, and empowered by grace to love, live, laugh, and dream. We swim in a sea of grace not of our own making. God's grace not only compensates for our shortcomings, but lifts us and moves us to greatness.
    • Within the context of grace and beyond our understanding, God honors and sometimes overrides the laws of the universe that He has created. His overrides are almost always in our favor and His enforcement is a source of blessing to all who discover and practice those laws whether in faith or in ignorance of faith.
    • God is a dreamer. He has a dream for the world and a dream for each of us. It His desire for us to dream with Him. He is intentional about these dreams and the greatest significance in life comes from discovering His dream and living in it as we pursue it and give ourselves to it. In other words, it matters what God wants!
    • Dreams are realities. They have lives of their own and they have legs. When we dream and follow our dreams, we activate divine laws that are extremely powerful and deeply fulfilling.
    • Dreams without thought, commitment, and perseverance are pipe dreams and fantasies. Real dreams take work and time.
    • The power of positive thinking is a scientific reality. More so, it is a divine invention. it is real because God made it real. It is not an ultimate reality apart from divine providence and declaration.
    • You can often get what you want now by applying the principles that seem to be divorced from any specific commitment to God's will, like the Law of Attraction, but real fulfillment and eternal significance come only through aligning oneself with Him in an intimate and committed relationship. This is the message, ministry, and work of Jesus Christ.
    • Whatever life is now, it can be more as we discipline and elevate our thinking, expectations, and faith and become true dreamers, committed to a vision that is grander than self or personal ambition. The sky is the limit. their is no ceiling to the greatness possible in your life.

    Thoughts on The Fellowship of Joy

    I appreciate feedback on this. It has been a matter of prayer, but it is still rough and we still need to hammer it out as a body. I have been working now for a while to help crystallize a vision and mission statement for BT -the Fellowship of Joy. The vision is something I will post on later.

    Here are some of my most recent notes for us to toss around:

    Our mission is the transformation of individuals, families, and communities through the whole gospel of the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ.


    • Call and equip individuals, families, and communities to a life of significance and commitment to Jesus Christ.
    • Equip followers of Jesus Christ to engage in passion based ministries through the gifts that God has given them.
    • Develop and cultivate a culture of awe, wonder, and joy.
    • Birth and encourage bold initiatives and community collaboratives for the Kingdom of God.
    • Integrate local and global awareness, prayer, and action for the Kingdom of God.


    • Nurture the faith family at the core of this ministry and promulgate a culture of awe, wonder, joy,  love, and  mission through warm and relevant worship, fellowship, and teaching.
    • Be a catalyst for collaborative efforts, partnerships, and strategic relationships that bring together human and material resources for the sake of multiplying influence, effectiveness, and impact in the community.
    • Practice stewardship of the facilities owned by the church so that they receive maximum effective use in kingdom building and supporting efforts.
    • Develop multiple congregations in one locations and multiple locations for the central congregation.
    • Serve as an incubator for fresh ideas, entrepreneurial initiatives, and bold ventures for wholistic (spelled this way intentionally) gospel ministry and proclamation.
    • Engage in community development wherever we have a location.
    • Use Internet technology to build and nurture communities online and in real time.
    • Train and coach "home-grown" pastoral leadership for ministry expansion and church planting.

    Unique Values

    • We value the holiness of the ordinary.
    • We value the uniqueness of every person in the image of God.
    • We value spontaneity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
    • We value the poor and wounded and seek to provide a place for them at the table.
    • We value the interaction of many cultures and peoples in a fellowship of grace and acceptance where our differences are honored and our oneness is celebrated.
    • We value joy, laughter, and human warmth.
    • We value the insights God gives to each member of the Body individually and in groups as we gather around the scriptures and seek God together.

    Core Beliefs

    • We are Baptists in faith and practice and those beliefs that are historically common to Baptists are ours as well.
    • We confess Jesus Christ as Lord, who is the second Person of the Holy Trinity with the Father and the Holy Spirit, who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died for our sins of His own volition, was raised from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and is coming again in glory to reign forever and ever.
    • We believe in the message of salvation by grace through faith, regeneration by the power of the Holy Spirit, and sanctification as we become more Christlike in the  step by step process of holiness.
    • We believe that salvation is accompanied by turning from a life of sin to one of following Jesus Christ and is demonstrated through believer's baptism by immersion and celebrated regularly through the Lord's Supper.
    • We believe that church membership is a willing covenant relationship between members of the Body of Christ in a local place.
    • We believe that the Bible is our authority in matters of faith, that Jesus Christ is the interpreter of the scriptures, and that every believer in Christ is competent to consult the Bible as a priest to God and to others.
    • We believe that the local church is autonomous and under the direct Lordship of Jesus Christ who calls His under-shepherds to provide leadership and care for its members as they care for each other and  reach out to a world in need with His gospel of grace.
    • We believe that the core message of the gospel is the Kingdom of God and that God's Kingdom is the reign of love, grace, and peace through Jesus Christ.

    Now, I have written something down. Have you done that?

    Most Recent Rant on Fresno Famous

    Hyperbolic Emissions is my most recent attempt to express myself on Fresno Famous. I don't dislike politics. It is how people come together in community to govern themselves. I just  don't like out-of-control partisanship that draws impenetrable lines over which people are discouraged from crossing and tries to label people and entire states with pre-packaged definitions.

    What I love is people who defy such definitions and con-fuddle the pundits with their  seemingly slippery self-portrayals.

    Beyond that, anyone who loves accuracy and honesty will come to the same conclusion about hyperbole. It obscured truth in the interest of mass appeal. Truth is not complicated, but it is complex. To deny that is to avoid the hard work of truth search and ultimately, to offend the God of truth.

    Sliding Between Parallel Dimensions

    A Ripple in Time                    


    I avoided an accident the other day and commented to my passenger that we had just created a ripple in time - a new universe, parallel to our own, without us in it. The theory is that every either or choice creates such a new dimension of reality based upon the millions of choices made every second. So many would be indistinguishable from our own, but this new one, had I not swerved to the right, would have been significantly different as far as we and our families would be concerned.

    It is probably scientific hogwash, but it is great science fiction and a thought that propels other thoughts.

    What universe of possibilities are you living in?

    It is all about your choices. this or that?

    (Reposted from VAST Possibilities also by Tom Sims)

    Thinking Aloud (Allowed)

    Just a couple of thangs (that is "things" to most of you).

    That was a rant yesterday. I do that sometimes. I don't know what prompted it, but I let it out. What do non-bloggers do? Do they badger their spouses? I do that too, but I like to think that  my blogging makes life easier for her. However, I still have a couple of rants left if things don't change in the treatment of our wounded war vets.

    It is Lyn Perry, not Ryan who responsible for Thought Renewal. Ryan is cool too, but that's not his site. I fixed that yesterday.

    Did you year about the three bible stalkers? Watch out for them; they are relentless. "Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."

    Back to the rant: I am still upset about the way we are treating out wounded soldiers, but I am glad to see President Bush appointing two very credible people to solve the problem.

    The discussion of the Tomb of Jesus is still hot on the Religion Forum.

    Spencer Gear's article is notable in that thread.

    In Fresno county, the Sherrif's Department went to the wrong house and surpised an old guy in the night who came out of his house with a gun presumably aimed at the officers.  They felt threatened and shot him. That is understandable and forgivable. They took him to the hospital and handcuffed him unconscious to his bed. That is over the top. Then they charged him with gun possession and assaulting officers (who he assumed were robbers). The gun charges make sense. The assault charges are posturing or perhaps, posterior covering. The victim should also drop the suit - and get rid of his guns. The County should drop most of its charges. They should all dismiss their lawyers and get a table at the Radisson, sit around it with coffee and try to learn from their mistakes. Let reasonable people work this out. Everyone was essentially wrong about something here and it would serve the community and justice as well to call it a draw. However, I suppose this will be settled like most legal disputes - through posturing and chest-beating by lawyers and politicians. Not to worry because the tax payer will foot the bill. They may also try to blame some poor front line officer who was just doing his job and fearing for his life. Folks just need to learn to move on.

    Guns don't kill; people kill - people WITH GUNS!

    OK - I' ranting again.

    I had a ticket to see and hear Zig Ziglar today, but I was late and heard some other good stuff. Then I through my hip out of joint trying to kick myself in the rear for missing Zig.

    That is better than throwing out my shoulder trtying to pat myself on the back.

    Let me repeat yesterday's quote in case you missed it:  Honor is something often lost in the defense thereof.

    It is just often neither honorable nor is it wise, much less profitable to make your point and lose all of your hard-earned ground in the proccess.

    Rants are for quickly getting stuff off our chests without stabbing our neighbors with the sharp thoughts and words we have extracted from ourselves. Moving on is the fine art of getting back to business for the sake of what we often lose sight of in the quest to "be right." that would be our vision and its accompanying goals.

    Purpose is everything.

    Which is more important to you, to get where you are going or to punish the person who cut in front of you in line?

    Is there something on your mind? handle it and then, get back to the main thing and remember to keep the main thing the main thing.

    Honor and Horrows

    Honor is something often lost in the defense thereof.

    Who looked more honorable at the end of the Aaron Burr / Alexander Hamilton duel? Well, Hamilton, of course, because he seemed to have shot to miss.

    He did miss and historians suspect it was his intention - but of course, he died shortly thereafter and nothing in his noble gesture spared him from looking silly and childish to those of us looking back.

    Whoever came up with the stupidity of the "field of honor" anyway? Democrats? Republicans?

    I have started getting a rush of "TOS (Terms of Service)" reports on a forum I manage.  Things like:

    "He insulted me .. wah, wah, wah."

    "She hurt my feelings - boo hoo hoo."

    "He called me a ---------- after I called him a -------."

    Where are the unprovoked apologies? Where are the gracious chuckles?

    No one really needs to defend their honor by going on the attack. Honor takes care of itself. Integrity rises to the top of the heap and makes itself known. Time normally does the job and when it doesn't, a gracious answer turns away wrath according to the book of Proverbs.

    I am venting.

    I must admit that I have always had higher contempt for the behavior of folks who will neither forgive nor overlook an offense than for about anything else because they are the ones perpetrating feuds and looking sillier than everyone else.

    But there are some things that are really getting my goat - and none of them are about me:

    I am incensed about the treatment of our service people coming home disabled after placing themselves in harm's way on our behalf. Not only do they deserve better treatment. They deserve the best we can afford and they are not getting it. I am glad that third parties are coming to their defense. That is credible.

    Not that they shouldn't complain - this is a corporate offense, systemic and repugnant.

    So, right up there with chronic whiners are those who can't show adequate gratitude to our heroes.

    While we are here at home being petty, we have thousands of such heroes over there being noble and loyal. Whether the war is right or wrong is not the issue. What is the issue is that they are doing their duty and are entitled to respect and care.

    The Open Secret

    My review of "The Secret" has been getting a lot of attention - much more than I expected. I appreciate all the comments including those that brought these links to other excellent evaluations across my screen:

    The Secret's Out
    - from Thought Renewal by Lyn Perry - This blog is going into My Favorites.

    Have you seen ‘The Secret’?   from Women by Grace

    Don Whitney's Review from Baptist Press

    I am still committed to not throwing out the baby with the bathwater, so i am writing an article to post later this week called, "The Real Secret."

    Anna Nicole

    I don't remember when I have heard so many jokes about young woman dying as I have surrounding the tragic life and death of Anna Nicole Smith.

    I am not one to shun gallows humor and have often indulged. I know the fine art of being offended and amused at the same time. Is it a curse or a blessing?

    I suppose it depends upon who you let in on the secret.

    But this young woman's fate just wants to make me cry. It is the most profound tragedy. I know that it has been afforded more newsworthiness than in justified. I know that she was often a caricature of her own life. I realize that she was filthy rich for marrying an old codger, but all of that doesn't erase one glaring reality: This was a human being, made in the image of God, loved by the Father, a little girl for whom Jesus died, someone's daughter, someone's mother, a loved one.

    And she had a sweetness and wonder about her that made her endearing.

    I watched her pain when she lost her son a while back and it broke my heart. Did we pray for her?

    I suspect many did and I know that many care. And I do not criticize those who write comedic skits about her, but I cannot escape the impression of Jesus weeping over Anna Nicole and having his heart break with her broken heart.

    Maybe she made Him laugh too. maybe she still does. I do not know and I cannot judge. I just know that Anna Nicole Smith was the apple of God's eye.

    If only we could see people in that light - all people, all of the time.


    A Little More Background

    News release from CNN
    Wikipedia Article
    Memorial Site

    Report of Funeral - at the Baptist Church

    The most profound comedy might have been the funeral as reported on

    "The Rev Lloyd Smith used his eulogy to castigate Virgie in her attempts to stop the funeral. He also gave vent to his disgust on the legal ramblings that had delayed Anna Nicole being buried. Virgie was the last person to show up. However she was the first to take the pulpit, “you were a beautiful baby. We love you. Goodbye, my baby daughter”. Larry Birkhead was next up, he finished his eulogy with the phrase, “Goodnight, Sweet Anna Baby”. The phrase she had liked to hear before going to sleep. Howard Stern cried his way through his eulogy and kissed her coffin. His eulogy bore a resemblance to the inside of a Hallmark card: “The truth, there’s only one truth, it’s not what people say in court, even if those people are blood relatives,” Stern said. “The truth is what you live . . . what you touch, what you feel, what you see with your own eyes.” Even the dead managed to make a showing for the burial of the former Playmate of the year. Anna Nicole’s bodyguard, ‘Big Moe’ carried an urn containing half of her dead billionaire husband J Howard Marshall.  Anna was buried in Lakeview Memorial cemetery. The procession was watched by about 1,500 locals and tourist who booed Virgie but cheered Stern and especially Birkhead. White doves were released at the ceremony and in a scene reminiscent of a badly written film one of the doves refused to leave the top of Anna Nicole’s coffin even as it was lowered to the ground."

    All this being said - and much has been said and will be, ultimate realities are eternal and we, as a Christian, I am compelled and called to live beyond the hype and the media driven imitations of life to see people and circumstances through the eyes of a God who is intimately involved with every individual. God's love for Anna Nicole Smith is undiminsihed and is not open for a vote. That is the lesson I take away from this tragedy.

    Howard's Eulogy

    Celebrity is a wierd thing and is, as Bono says, an upside down way of looking at life - but it is a part of our environment and must be interpretted in the light of truth if it is not to overpower us and claim our rightful focus.

    Anne Lamott

    Read the Religion and Ethics Newsweekly profile Ann Lamott here: Ann Lamott

    BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: Author Anne Lamott may shatter many people's stereotypes about what a successful spiritual writer is like. She's a dreadlock-wearing, politically liberal, born-again Christian who uses biting humor -- and sometimes foul language -- when she describes her deeply held personal faith. Some readers are offended, but her books about her spiritual journey have become national best-sellers. Her newest is called GRACE (EVENTUALLY). It comes out later this month. Kim Lawton visited Lamott in Northern California.

    My point is that there is no one profile of what a public Evangelical Christian looks like. If there is a mold, Ann Lamott broke it.

    Whether or not you agree with her politics, Lamott is unashamedly Christian in her beliefs.

    I was moved to pull up some of her quotes:

    “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.”

    “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.”

    “A hundred years from now? All new people.”

    “When hope is not pinned wriggling onto a shiny image or expectation, it sometimes floats forth and opens.”

    ... and my favorite:

    “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”

    Wikipedia has an article on her.

    Her "Traveling Mercies" has something to say if we reject the urge to throw the baby out with the bath water. I look forward to reading "Grace (Eventually)." It is always refreshing to read the reflections of an honest and struggling Christian. Publsiher's Weekly says:

    With gentle wisdom refining her signature humor, Lamott explores helpfulness, decency, love and especially forgiveness. She explains the change: "Sometimes I act just as juvenile as I ever did, but as I get older, I do it for shorter periods of time. I find my way back to the path sooner, where there is always one last resort: get a glass of water and call a friend."