Church Production

“A High School play is more polished than this service we have been rehearsing since year one. In two thousand years, we have not worked out the kinks. We positively glorify them. Week after week we witness the same miracle; that God is so mighty he can stifle his own laughter. Week after week, we witness the same miracle; that God, for reasons unfathomable, refrains from blowing our dancing bear act to smithereens. Week after week Christ washes the disciples’ dirty feet, handles their very toes, and repeats, it is all right – believe it or not – to be people.
Who can believe it?”

– From Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard

Tips and Church

Last week my family and I went to Anchorage for a short vacation during Spring Break. During our stay there we had the opportunity to go out to eat a few times at some nicer restaurants. We had been saving up a couple of gift cards since Christmas and we are members of some birthday clubs and we had coupons for Hunter’s birthday. Anyway, my lessons on being frugal are for another post. The point of me telling you this fact about my life is because in every case we had a waiter or waitress help with our meal. Michelle and I both noticed over the course of three days how our service got worse and worse and worse. It was interesting to me because in each case the wait staff, I am sure, was expecting a tip. Now let me say this, I am a good tipper. With good service I have been known to give amounts of 20-30% or more. I once tipped over 40% of my (large) bill because the service was exceptional and it was my birthday. Unfortunately on my last meal of the trip I did not even give 10%. This is not because I am tight or cheap, but rather because I believe a tip needs to be earned. So these ladies and gentlemen had a paying, generous customer in their store and they did not take advantage of it for their benefit.
The reason I mention all of this is because I have been thinking about how it relates to Church. How many Sundays have we had guests visit us who are interested in the Lord and His Church and we didn’t take advantage of it? So here are my tips on making an impact at Church:

1. Speak to people you do not know at Church meetings.
– Introduce yourself and ask their name.
The tendency is to speak to people we know and like.
2. Ask questions about our guests?
– Ask their name? What they do for a living? Etc.
3. Show them to the Nursery area / Children’s areas if they need it, or at least direct them to someone who knows about these areas!
4. Introduce them to someone in the Church you know.
5. Invite them to sit with you if they would like.
6. Explain to them how things normally work in the worship program if you have time.
– Use the program to share info and upcoming events.
7. Sing and worship the Lord and say a prayer for the guest.
8. Talk to them after the program
– Don’t just ask them what they thought of us, show interest in them and their family.
9. If everything seems to be going well, invite them to lunch with you
– And tell them you are paying (and then pay!)
10. If they decline lunch be sure and invite them back next week.

Obviously you can go overboard with friendliness. If our guest seems reserved, do not push the interaction. You might be pushing them away. On the other hand, most of us want – desperately want – people to be nice to us. Now as you can imagine they will not leave you a tip, but you may affect their lives for eternity.


It is spring break and I have been out-of-town for part of the week. We have been shopping and enjoying some time together as a family. On one of our stops I was waiting by the cashier and noticed a little blue card. It was a tract or a business card size christian flier.

On one side of the card it said:
“MY CHOICE: I would rather live my life as if there is a God, and die to find out there isn’t, than to live my life as if there isn’t, and die to find out there is!”
On the back side of the card it said this:
“YOUR CHOICE: Would you rather live your life as if there is a God, and die to find out there isn’t, than live your life as if there isn’t, and die to find out there is?”

I am not a big fan of tracts and I am not sure they do any good for the long-term, but I like the thought of this one. Great thoughts and questions to ponder.

Google and Kids

I do not have internet at my house. I have it in my office and I use it at numerous public locations. There are a few good reasons for this: 1) I don’t need the temptation to be on it and work all the time. 2) I don’t need the temptation of pornography in my house for me or my boys. 3) There is a lot of bad stuff out there for my little inquisitive minds to explore. 4) simply the cost of having it.
With that said, I am out-of-town now and our hotel has high-speed internet in the room. I have my laptop and my boys are searching sites every spare minute for the latest sports story, shoes, clothes and music. They have come to equate Google with information. Anything they need to know they can simply type in a Google search and there is the answer.
All of this reminded me of a story from a few years ago. I am a big fan of The Andy Griffith Show. I own all episodes on DVD and break them out for some TV marathons. Well, a few years ago I was watching an episode with my boys. In season 3 the first DVD has the classic story of Mr. McBeevee. If you have not seen it (and why not?) it is about Opie telling his Dad about a man who walks in trees and does amazing stuff. His dad doesn’t believe Opie and the ongoing discussion throughout the show is simply, “Does Mr. McBeevee exist or did Opie make him up?” My son Hunter, 9 years old at the time, turns to me and says, “Why doesn’t Andy just look him up on the internet to see if he is real or not?”
Thank you Google for changing the world.

Alaskan Hunting Story

Two moose hunters from Texas are flown into a remote lake in Alaska. They have a good hunt, and both manage to get a large moose. When the plane returns to pick them up, the pilot looks at the animals and says, “This little plane won’t lift all of us, the equipment, and both of those animals. You’ll have to leave one. We’d never make it over the trees on the take off.”
“That’s baloney”, says one of the hunters.
“Yeah,” the other agrees, “you’re just chicken: we came out here last year
and got two moose and that pilot had some guts: He wasn’t afraid to take off!”
“Yeah”, said the first hunter, “and his plane wasn’t any bigger than yours!”
The pilot got angry, and said, “If he did it, then I can do it. I can fly as well as anybody!” They loaded up, taxied at full throttle, and the plane almost made it, but didn’t have the lift to clear the trees at the end of the lake. It clipped the tops, then flipped, then broke up, scattering the baggage, animal carcasses, and passengers all through the brush.
Still alive, but hurt and dazed, the pilot sat up, shook his head to clear
it, and said, “Where are we?”
One of the hunters rolled out from being thrown into a bush, looked around,
and said, “I’d say about a hundred yards further than last year.”


In my sermon Sunday I used an illustration of blind skiers. Everyone was looking at me like I was crazy. Well if you click HERE you can read the story for yourself. Inside the story you will find the quote I used about trust.

One More Favorite

There was a article published years ago that was eventually made into a song. It is usually called Sunscreen or Wear Sunscreen. You can read all the background information about it HERE Wikipedia will even link you to the original article.
My kids and I enjoy the song version occasionally. I keep a copy of the original in my files. If you have not heard it or read it. I hope you enjoy.

Wear sunscreen.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind side you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.
Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.
Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.
Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen.

Another Favorite

This is a clipping I ran across several years ago. It is probably not true, but it still makes me smile. It is supposedly an answer on a college entrance application. Enjoy.


I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.
I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.
Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.
I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.
I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket.
I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.
I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four-course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.
But I have not yet gone to college. Please let me in.

Screaming Boy Story

I mentioned yesterday about talking with college students about stories to use as illustrations for sermons. I shared with them another of my favorite personal stories from a few years ago.
I swear to you that the story I am about to tell you is true.
One day I stopped by Toys R Us to purchase some Tinker Toys for our Church nursery. I went back and found the item and made my way to the front of the store to check out. On my way through the store you could hear the sound of a young boy screaming. Having four young boys of my own, I recognized the noise and was able to ignore it.
There was a lady working check out and another lady paying for her purchase. Then there was a lady, presumably his mother, with the screaming boy. I stepped in line behind all of them. There were people behind me, but I didn’t look at them very well so I cannot give you a description.
The little boy looked to be about four years of age. He had a pacifier in this mouth (don’t get me started on that) and was screaming as loud as he could behind it. He had a flood of tears running down his cheeks as he cried. He was sitting in a shopping cart in the child’s seat. His mother was pulling the cart from the front. So I stood a few feet from this spectacle.
The lady in front of the mother shot an occasional glance in the direction of both the boy and the mother. The couple behind me was whispering to each other about the situation. I tried to ignore everything all together. If I stay uninvolved, no one will ask anything from me; that’s my motto. It was noticeable that everyone was uncomfortable but the mother. She stood there as if nothing was going on. She did have a worn look on her face from hours of dealing with this young boy. Amazingly though she remained calm, cool and collected. The lady working the cash register began to try and talk to the boy as the mother put items up on the belt to be paid for.
Finally, the saleslady said something to the mother. The mother seeing the lady was talking to her, reached up under her hair and pulled off headphones! The whole time her son had been screaming she had been listening to music!! I swear this is true. She acknowledged the boys screaming and said, “He has been throwing a lot of fits lately.” She paid for her items and calmly walked out of the store with him still screaming and crying the whole way.


By the way – The picture that I have placed above for my “header” is from the Homer Harbor on the spit. This is the view for those of us who live on top of the world. Are you ready to come visit me??