Friday, December 23, 2005

One REALLY Fun Part of my job!

I just experienced one of the the MOST fun parts of being a Pastor. Once in a while, someone will want to give a significant gift to someone else, and they want to do it anonymously.

Yesterday, someone from church came by, dropping off the keys to a donated car along with instructions that it go to a single mother in our church. I spent a few hours the last two days running it to the mechanic and sprucing it up, making sure evrything is safe and well-operational. I then called the gal she lives with and had her bring the mom over to the office.

What joy to watch her become overwhelmed at the Christmas-timed generosity of another person who would think of her in such a way! I just had to share with someone what a blessing it is sometimes to do what I do. That was a blast!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Step Into The Pulpit ... cont.

Remember my post on November 30 about a Pastor who was slugged during the service? Well, this one is quite sad to report, but back on October 30, Pastor Kyle Lake of University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, was killed DURING service when he touched a microphone while in the baptistry. (That's why we don't do that for those that might wonder!)

Our prayers are with Pastor Kyle's family and University Baptist Church.

In Memory of Tracy Ann Fein

I know most of you will not know who Tracy Fein (pronounced "fine") is, but I want to dedicate today's post to her. I also ask that you pray for her parents, Steve & Legia, today.

The Fein's live two doors down from us and are wonderful people. A side note to what I write about today is that last April, Legia, an avid cyclist in awesome physical shape, was out riding with Steve when she accidentally tumbled and ended up with a broken neck. She spent 3-4 months on bedrest in a brace that she still has to wear today.

Steve & Legia, Tracy's sister, Jennifer, and several other family members are in a courtroom in Minden, Nevada right now as I am writing. They are there for the sentencing hearing of the young man who was driving the car Tracy was killed in.

Tracy was killed on August 27, 2005 in a single car accident in Minden, Nevada. She was a passenger in her brand new, long-waited for Scion, driven at the time by her boyfriend, Trevor Clark. Unfortunately, they had driven about 450 miles in about 7 hours. You do the math.

Mr. Clark was found to have exceeding levels of various drugs in him when the accident occurred. That's why he is in court today, after (thankfully) pleading guilty to the charges he faced.

Admitted by the Fein's is that Tracy was caught up in the drugs too. She chose to give herself to an unhealthy relationship with Mr. Clark. She was, however, slowly but surely turning her life around. She graduated from nursing school a year ago as was working. She was trying to make better decisions. This trip (they were on their way to The Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada) was obviously not one of her better choices.

For any who would like to express their regards to the Fein's, you can visit the website Steve set up for Tracy at . A STRONG warning and disclaimer - For the purposes of the sentencing hearing, Steve has placed some links of audio recordings that Trevor Clark left on the Fein answering machine some years ago that are VERY graphic and filled with expletives. If you choose to listen to them, please know that you do so at your own choice. I list the website as a way to see some of Tracy's story and express condolences and prayers directly to the Fein's.

Friday, December 16, 2005


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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Chronicles of Narnia

Just saw The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe yesterday for my youngest son's 10th birthday. I remember reading the book about 25 years ago, right after I had become a Christian. I must say I never imagined in reading the book what was depicted on screen. It was that good.

Call me underprivileged, boring, too serene, melacholy, or whatever you want. I was just very impressed with the way the book came alive on screen. I recommend it highly.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Israel, here WE come .... ?

OK everyone, get ready for this one!! How about a church-wide trip to Israel in the Summer of 2007? In July of 2007, our Annual International (never-been-done-outside-the-US) Foursquare Convention is being held in Jerusalem! WOW!

I have never been there, but have always wanted to go. What a better way to experience it than with those we worship with every week?

I had breakfast with Stan Wilson (Pastor at Sonrise) & Marty Kruse (Pastor at The River), both of whom are Foursquare, as are their churches (in case you weren't aware), a few weeks ago. We met to start planning to have all three of our churches take part in a combined Holy Land Tour.

Our hope is that any who come to Israel will also have the opportunity to take part in the Convention, which should be a pretty awesome experience given the location!

I'll keep you as posted as possible, but for now, what do you think? Leave a comment with your thoughts, would you?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Step Into The Pulpit ...

WOW! Unbelievable ... but TRUE!

Check out this link on what happened to a Pastor in Tulsa, OK recently. Who said preaching is a safe vocation to enter into? Jesus didn't, did He?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Colleen's Grandmother's services

Thank you to so many who have responded with condolences! As mentioned, here are the details regarding Freda Kimmick's funeral services:

Viewing - Friday, December 2, 5-9 pm at Reardon Mortuary (2636 Sycamore) in Simi Valley (just north of the 118 Freeway).

Funeral service - Saturday, December 3, 10 am at Simi Valley United Methodist Church (corner of Erringer & Cochran).

Burial immediately following at Simi Valley Public Cemetery (1461 Thompson Lane), located on the west boundary of Rancho Simi Park (Erringer & Royal).

A gathering happens immediately following and location information will be available at the funeral.

Any other questions, feel free to ask.


Pastor Paul

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Colleen's Grandmother

Some are aware that two weeks ago, Colleen's grandmother, Freda Kimmick, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia that more commonly strikes elderly people. With the disease termed "uncontrollable" and the treatment coined "miserable", she chose to deny treatment and be made as comfortable as possible. The last two weeks were joyously filled with many family surrounding her and discussions and memories well shared. At about 2:30 this morning, she passed away very peacefully at home.

Please forgive the impersonal nature of this form of communication, but it is the quickest and easiest way we know how to get the news to you. Thank you to those who already knew of Grandma Freda's illness and had been praying. A Ventura County and Simi Valley pioneer from the Ecroyd family, Grandma Freda lived a very full life and enters heaven at 86 years old. She and her husband, Bill, were very active members of the Simi Valley United Methodist Church.

Memorial services are pending. I will send another email with those details when they are available for any who may have known her and would want them.

I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with the treasure of family and friends, and wish you a wonderful week!

Celebrating life (and the 28th day till Christmas!!),

Pastor Paul

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Convention continued ...

I had intended to post each day, but boy, these days have been long! They've significantly lengthened the daily schedule so that if one actually attended everything in the schedule, you would attend meetings from 7 am until 3:30 pm with a one hour brunch break in between there. Then, you're free until the evening meeting that goes from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. Whew!

Last night, Wayne Cordeiro, Pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii, spoke on the issue of church culture. He has just released a new book called Culture Shift that talks about how to discover your church's values and then go to work actually living them out, which is an easy definition of "culture".

What is a church like from the eyes of a new person? If we're effective and aware, any guest should be able to pick up what we're about within a few minutes of being with us. It's a good question to ask ourselves, even as we prepare to gather this weekend.

Another amazing experience this year has been the ministry of Ken Medema. Ken is a musician who ministers from the piano and keyboards and is known for his ballads, kind of in the flavor of Keith Green if you knew him from the 70's & 80's.

At the end of each general session, Ken comes to the piano and summarizes what has been said with a song. Not just any song, but an original song. It's very original. How original? I'm glad you asked! He literally writes it as he is singing it at the piano.

Here's the other amazing thing about Ken - he is totally blind! His ministry has been awesome.

Probably the best way to summarize these days would be to lead you to the Foursquare Convention website, where they are posting daily updates. Click here.

At today's Business Session, during the annual President's Report, Jack Hayford mentioned the International Board of Director's decision to NOT sell the property in Christiansburg, Virginia that once housed LIFE Bible College East. The school was closed three years ago.

As Jack spoke about possible future uses of the campus, one of the potential ideas mentioned was to utilize the property as a Pastoral Care Retreat Center, a place where Pastors could come for recovery from stress and burnout and other life issues. As you might imagine, that was thrilling to me!

However, it was ONE idea of five, and Jack made it clear that the ideas he mentioned have not yet even been brought to a real table of discussion among decision makers. Still, it's exciting to hear the possibility of such a facility for the use of revitalizing and resourcing Pastors in this crucial way.

For now, over and out ....

Monday, May 30, 2005

Foursquare Convention begins

Foursquare Convention 2005 has officially convened! It's the largest attended Convention in our history with almost 4,000 people registered. The ballroom is jam-packed and the local restaurants can hardly handle the crowd.

It was fun to see an old-fashioned Good Humor ice cream truck parked in front of the hotel this afternoon. We encouraged the ice cream man to be there around 9:00 pm to sell his stuff as the hotel would flood with departing conventioneers. He thanked us for the advice and sure enough, his truck was surrounded for quite some time tonight.

Tonight's session featured the recognition of former Foursquare Presidents who were present, including John & Doris Holland. John was Foursquare's second President, following Rolf McPherson, was served for 44 years after Foursquare' founder (and Rolf's mom), Aimee Semple McPherson, passed away in 1944.

I mention John Holland because it was especially significant to have him recognized. His tenure ended with unfortunate conflict regarding some financial issues. The relationship between he and Foursquare was never fully reconciled. It was one of the first issues that Jack Hayford dealt with accordingly upon becoming President in October. Reconciliation is a good thing!

Ron Luce also spoke for a few minutes tonight. The Founder of Teen Mania Ministries, Ron brought some alarming statistics regarding the Millenium Generation (those born beginning in 1989).

One of those statistics is that this generation of young people is the largest in America's history - LARGER than the Baby Boomer generation in number. Among them, it is said that only 4% are Bible-believing Christians! When you add to that the statistic that 80% of people come to Christ before the age of 20, that's a scary thing. The peak of that generation is 15 right now!

Ron is launching a movement to address this called "Battle Cry". Somehow, we are told, Foursquare will be partnering with Teen Mania in this movement.

Then, Jack Hayford brought the main message from Zechariah 8:18-23, along the theme of not looking toward your past to determine or define your future.

While it wasn't mentioned tonight, the buzz is starting to spread that Convention in 2007 is being planned to be held in Jerusalem for the first international location for our annual International Foursquare Convention (that's what it's touted as every year since our name is International Church of the Foursquare Gospel). Next year's Convention is set for Washington, DC.

Well, it's getting late here. Until tomorrow, may the Lord bless your sleep and rest your body and soul well.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

End of the Week

Left Cedarly yesterday (Friday). Made the drive south with a tinge of fun. I am not crazy about them, but I do like cars, and the classics are especially fun when you see a nice one.

I guess if you're a real classic car fan, you would know that there are a number of classic car dealerships. I had never seen one before, until last Sunday when I was driving north between Chicago and Delafield. Valenti Classics is located in Caledonia, Wisconsin, right off the 94 freeway, and they really do have a signature corvette mounted on their roof!

I pulled over yesterday and gawked away! My favorite was a 1956 Ford Thunderbird and the picture doesn't do it justice. The price is a little steep - $82,650, but hey, monthly payments of just $772.26!

Anyway, that was quite fun. A showroom floor that you could literally eat off of it was so clean, and the quality of the cars was just breathtaking.

Arrived in Deerfield, Illinois for the weekend stay before moving to the Convention hotel on Sunday. A quick moving thunderstorm with a ton of drenching rain was a treat last night.

I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends this week. That's always a real treat of Convention. And, as this is our first Convention with Jack Hayford as President, I am sure that the air will be electric at each gathering! Our worship leader for the week is one of my all-time favorites, Tommy Walker. Did you know Tommy is Foursquare?

Anyway, keep checking back, post your comments or questions, and have a wonderful weekend! I pray the grace of God would flow in all His fullness as NewHeart gathers tomorrow morning!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Going East ...

I blog you today from the beautiful location of Delafield, Wisconsin. It's about 30 minutes west of Milwaukee. I'm staying at Cedarly Pastor's Retreat. Colleen and I spent a week here in February of 2001.

A 1906 Summer house with 6 bedrooms, each with a private bathroom, Cedarly was opened in 1997 for the express purpose of giving pastors and their spouses a week to be with the Lord. And "give" is the key word. It is literally free, except for the cost of getting here.

The house is really first rate, like a bed and breakfast for pastors, including even the food. They have a professional staff that prepares the one meal (usually lunch) that I am required to attend (it's the ONLY requirement) with the other pastors and their spouses here. The meals are amazing, they're served to us, and we're not allowed to touch any dishes except to eat off them. A buffet is set out for breakfast and dinner and permission is given to raid the refrigerator at any time.

It is one of three locations (though Cedarly is the only one that is cost-free, the others are inexpensive) run by a foundation called Pastors Retreat Network. It's a place to enjoy the peace and quiet and a chance to get away in order to seek the Lord.

As I prepared to leave and communicated with many over the last couple of weeks that I would be out of the office, I heard the very common response, "enjoy the vacation". Well, while I am certainly in a beautiful location, it is no vacation. Allow me to share with you why I do these "study breaks".

Part of my recovery from burnout a few years ago taught me the value of getting away a few times each year in order to seperate myself from the hustle and bustle of the every day grind (phones, crises, calendar, etc.) When you read scripture, we find Jesus doing it on a regular basis. If HE had to do it, how much more do WE?

I love my "job", "call", "ministry", whatever nomenclature you choose to use. Let's just say I love what I do! I really do! So much so that I have to be careful to monitor my output. Recognizing that I cannot give what I do not have, I have learned that it is so important to take the time to allow the Lord to recharge my batteries and fill my soul.

It's amazing the doors of opportunity to do so that the Lord has given me over the years. There is not just Cedarly, but a family in our church owns a local cabin that they allow me to use regularly and another friend has a condo at Lake Tahoe that I've been to a few times now.

What do I do on these trips? I'm glad you asked! I spend a number of hours each day in the Word, usually reading through large chunks of scripture, or whole books at a time. My scripture reading might relate to something I feel I'm to teach on soon, but it may not.

I spend some time "re-creating". On this trip, I'm looking forward to getting back to my daily habit of walking for cardio exercise. I've let that slip out of my life for the last many months. It's been too long since I've played a round of golf. I'm hoping to do that this week.

I spend some time resting. I am a night owl in my bodily rythym. On these trips particularly, I follow that rythym. I'll work through the day and evening, taking the opportunity to follow my body for sleep. I go to sleep when my body says to do so, and wake up on the same call.

I spend a considerable amount of time reading. Some of it is ministry related, much of it intentionally is not.

So, that's what I do.

Getting here was a no-brainer, as our annual Foursquare Convention happens to be next week in Chicago. Cedarly is only about 2 hours north. When I began to make plans for Convention earlier this year, I checked with Cedarly, and sure enough, they had a room available for this week.

Feel free to ask any questions with a post here, or just say Hi if you want. As there is no internet access at Cedarly, my email and internet activity will be limited. However, I'll be back online more regularly in Chicago next week. I do hope to get another chance to post maybe midweek sometime. Check back then.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Emotionally Healthy Church Comes West!

Just a few days ago, following up on my last post a month ago, Pete Scazzero and I locked in the date of Wednesday, October 19 for the first ever "Emotionally Healthy Church" Conference west of Chicago! The day will start at 9:00 am and end at 4:00 pm.

The night before, Tuesday, October 18, he and his wife, Geri, will lead an "Emotionally Healthy Marriage" Seminar from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. That will be open to our church as well as churches throughout our area.

As soon as we have the budget figured out, I'll let you know what the cost of each event will be. For now, let me strongly encourage you to mark your calendar.

For Pastors reading this - make it a point to be there. Yes, I know the Conference is on a Wednesday and you may have Wednesday night service. Schedule someone else to speak that night! Make it a "you" investment. Include the marriage seminar the evening before with your spouse! We're working on hotel deals.

For church leaders or bi-vocational Pastors, get the day off work on October 19. Let me just tell you - you don't want to miss this!

By all means, get the book beforehand and read it. Best price can usually be found through

If you have questions, want to discuss the material as you read it, or just want to check in from time to time, please post a comment.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Things are happening

Technology is amazing! I’m at JFK airport in New York waiting for our flight home. Pop open my laptop with my wireless card and, voila, I’m online!

Yesterday’s breakfast with Pete Scazzero was wonderful. We had a great time of getting to know each other and talking about the Emotionally Healthy Church principles and history. It was exciting to hear about how the Lord birthed this stuff in Pastor Pete’s heart, and how open-handed his leadership and congregation are to giving him away as the Lord opens the doors of ministry across the country.

He is definitely open to coming to Southern California with the seminar. It was exciting to talk about how this could happen. Later that morning, I received a call from my friend, Steve Pope, Pastor of Royal Avenue Baptist Church and one of the primary driving forces behind our local Pastor’s Prayer Group.

He spoke with his Association Director (similar to our District Supervisor) about The Emotionally Healthy Church. Steve said his response was that he wants his whole Association (Ventura County Southern Baptist Churches) to be a part of the Seminar when it happens. Please pray that the Lord opens the hearts of pastors and leaders across the entire Southwest region of our nation to come and partake.

I believe that what the Lord has birthed in Pastor Pete’s heart is desperately needed for Pastors and in churches today. So many Pastors I talk to that have everything going for them (some are pastors of very large churches) and seem to have all the signs of "success" are still wondering what’s missing and why they’re dying inside. You would probably be surprised at how many Pastors find themselves in, or on the verge of, burnout ... same place I found myself four years ago.

After our breakfast, we did our last stint of time in Manhattan with a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Just awesome. From there, we rode to the UN Headquarters and then walked over to the Empire State Building, walking through Grand Central Station on the way. What an amazing place! The view from the Empire State Building was absolutely incredible.

The rest of the evening may have been the most fun. We were consistently told that the place for pizza in New York City is Grimaldi’s. It’s a hole in the wall (actually a small building tucked under the Brooklyn Bridge) that was authentic as it gets.

It’s the only coal-fired oven pizza left in New York. A pizza literally cooks in 90 seconds! And the taste was just incredible – fresh everything. All the way down to the red and white checkered table covers and a tiny room PACKED with customers. I felt like we were at dinner with the couple next to us, we were that close.

The open hotel room window allowed for the true sounds of New York experience through the night – horns, sirens, screeching brakes. But we’re ready for the quiet night of Simi Valley. See you when we get home.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Another Full Day

The conference yesterday was just as I expected – confirmation of this material being so right for the Church-at-large really, though particularly timely for NewHeart. I am excited to have our Staff, Church Council and Leaders process it this year. Yesterday's Psalm in our Bible Reading was Psalm 90, which concludes with my prayer for this weekend and season:

"May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands."
I am also excited to have breakfast with Pete Scazzero in the morning! It’s my hope that we’ll connect well enough to have him accept an invitation to come to Southern California. I have a couple of Pastors already willing to participate in bringing The Emotionally Healthy Church to our region of the nation and strongly believe it would be very beneficial. We’ll see what happens ... if you read this post in time, please be praying. We meet at 8:30 am (5:30 am PST).

We attended New Life Fellowship this morning and thoroughly enjoyed the celebration. It’s a church of 800-900 people and they meet in an old Elks Lodge. They’ve been meeting there for around 10 years but just purchased it about 18 months ago.

It’s a building with significant history in Queens. Built in the 1920's, nothing happened in the area politically without going through there first. That’s the kind of power the Elks had at the time!

New Life purchased it for A LOT of money (in the millions – I honestly don’t remember the price) and are raising funds to fix it up as they can. It was wonderful to sense the presence of the Holy Spirit as the congregation worshiped in front of a platform facade that included the masks of Indian gods and creatures that you know were not meant with the worship of Jesus in mind!

The entrance to the building has a huge concrete elk that we learned today cannot be taken down. Part of the agreement to purchase the building included the stipulation that the exterior would be granted status as a historical landmark, meaning that it can only be repaired or restored and not significantly changed.

The congregation is multi-ethnic and I just loved that! Simi Valley itself is not very multi-ethnic, but I regularly pray that the Lord would bring all races and colors and cultures and nationalities to make up who we are. There’s just something beautiful about that!

It was exciting to hear that each week, when the main teaching passage is read, it is first read in a language other than English, than read in English. Today it was read in Indonesian.

After church, we ventured back into Manhattan, where I enjoyed my first sidewalk hot dog. Not too impressive, but good and cheap, and what can you say ... it was in NEW YORK! We hopped a Gray Line double-decker bus tour through uptown Manhattan, which included Central Park and Harlem.

After dinner at Spanky’s BBQ right off Times Square (where I thoroughly enjoyed "The Full House"), we caught the last Gray Line double-decker for their "Night Loop" . After tomorrow’s breakfast meeting, we hope to catch the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Station, gotta catch a cannoli in Little Italy, and grab a little something to take home to the boys, who we miss terribly. On to some shut eye ....

Friday, April 15, 2005

Ground Zero ... a little too familiar

It is beyond description to see Ground Zero. To see and be at the place where so many lost their lives all at once and to consider the profound loss of life (and in some ways, some liberties we’ve taken for granted) cannot be described. The crowds are still very large and the city has done a magnificent job allowing for access to the perimeters of the site.

One very moving place to visit there was St. Paul’s Chapel, the Episcopal Church right across the street from the Twin Towers. History records that George Washington attended there regularly and went there to pray right after his first inauguration. It was the place we all saw whose wrought iron fence was blanketed with search and rescue posters and memorials.

History will now record that this church opened her arms wide to minister to the thousands of rescue and recovery workers for the nine months of recovery and clean up of Ground Zero. The Sanctuary there holds an exhibit of the church’s service following 9/11.

We also walked over to Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange ... Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza. Just as we arrived, a film crew was setting up to film some scenes of an upcoming episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. We tried to do some star sighting (we couldn’t – too cold, too long of a wait).

Dark by then, we hopped the subway to Times Square. That was awesome! The lights of Las Vegas hold nothing to Times Square. Blocks and blocks of massive video screens and huge scrolling signs. We found the Fox News Channel studios and watched a few minutes of Hannity & Colmes being filmed live. We tried to get into the shot through the window behind the anchors to no avail.

We also got to view a motorcade for someone. Don’t know who it was, but it was impressive – several NYPD cars running code 3 and a couple Secret Service-looking SUVs. It was a fun day, and we’re looking forward to a great conference tomorrow.

A little more on that – some may be wondering, “Why the focus on something like The Emotionally Healthy Church”? Scazzero’s premise in his book is that spiritual maturity and emotional maturity cannot be separated.

Too often, I (and other pastors) encounter circumstances with people (including ourselves, by the way) who certainly seem like they’ve got some things together spiritually. They either know a lot of Bible, have known the Lord for a long time, or just altogether seem to “have it together” when it comes to spiritual life. Then, something will occur that causes behavior that just makes you go, “Where did that come from?”

Through my burnout recovery (my own "Ground Zero", if you will), one of the things I discovered personally was that it is not possible to be spiritually mature and emotionally immature. When that is the case, and the winds of life blow hardship your way that causes your faith to be shaken, shipwreck occurs.

Or, you may face a conflict in your life that challenges your sense of “how things ought to be handled”, and in the name of “spiritual maturity”, your emotionally immature behavior in the circumstance is written off rather than healthily addressed. When that happens, relationships are damaged, sometimes beyond repair.

NewHeart is not much different from other churches with this kind of stuff. But I do think this truth is somehow tied to our decades-long history of shipwrecked pastorates and decayed or damaged relationships (our corporate "Ground Zero"). I think there’s something to becoming an emotionally healthy church that is key for our future, particularly in light of our past.

All in all, it’s my desire to shepherd this congregation into greater wholeness (not a place we ever "arrive" at) for however long the Lord has me assigned here. I think we’ve come a long way in almost eight years. We have some way to go – and I am very glad the Lord has us together for the journey!

I encourage you to ask questions here, or make comments. I will be sharing more about this journey we’re on as I am learning and as I am able. I know it’s my tendency to be a little long-winded, so I’ll stop for now!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

A JOURNEY to New York ...

My body tells me the TRIP started around 3:15 this morning when I rolled out of bed after a whopping 3 hours of sleep. However, the JOURNEY to New York ... Queens specifically ... began a couple years back.

My process of recovery from burnout led me to study the concept of family systems theory, both personal and corporate. Simply put, we are all put together with a complex set of beliefs, values, and ways of doing life. For any of us, those things come primarily from our "family of origin", the family we were raised in.

A little known "Kuzmaism" ... I have always been intrigued by mafia stories. I’m no expert historian on mob life; I’ve just always been interested. I think some of that is because of a deeper interest that has come to light regarding this stuff on family systems theory.
Much study has been done in the last few decades about how systems theory applies to the life of organizations, including churches. My quest toward understanding this truth led me to a couple of very good books. One of them is The Emotionally Healthy Church, authored by Peter Scazzero, Pastor of New Life Fellowship in Queens, New York.

I vividly remember reading the first few pages and thinking, "This guy is writing my story!" More to come in the next couple of days regarding all that.

For now, suffice this first post to say that the reason I am in Queens right now is to attend a conference on Saturday called "Developing Leaders in The Emotionally Healthy Church" . I have asked the Lord these last years to help me put feet to what I am learning regarding how all this impacts our church life. I believe He is showing the way and the potential resources for learning what it takes to be an emotionally healthy church. I, as one pastor, believe it may be a way toward healing that is more greatly needed than we imagine.

Our TRIP went well ... for starters, the Starbucks at LAX was right at our departing gate. Just doesn’t get much better than that. A delightful gate attendant assigned us to a row of three seats with one empty for some space ... providing for some creature comfort and a little helpful shut eye.

Our hotel shuttle driver was truly a New Yorker who skillfully guided us through some tough freeways and streets, all the while keeping a van filled with mostly Irish family members in town for a wedding talking and laughing. To top it all off, we ate at an Argentinian Steak House. In Argentina, they eat steak and pasta together – giving me the perfect way to begin such an anticipated trip – steak, fettucine with tomato sauce, and mafioso music playing in the background.

More to come ...

Friday, April 08, 2005

A Funeral To Die For!

What if you died ... and 2,000,000 - 3,000,000 people showed up for your funeral? What of people in sleeping bags and 24 hour waits reminiscent of the Rose Parade on Colorado Blvd.? Except that instead of waiting for a parade of floats, they're waiting to get a glimpse of your remains instead?

It happened in Rome this week folowwing the death of Pope John Paul II. Did you catch any of it? Absolutely amazing! A good friend of mine, Pastor Bernie Federmann from Lompoc Foursquare Church in Lompoc, CA, wrote,

"I encourage all of you to pray for the Catholic Church - the Priests and Parishes nearest you and to pray for the selection of the new Pope. The Catholic Church is filled with many fine people who truly know and love Jesus and who are truly born again. They deserve our prayers and comfort at this time. God will use your efforts of grace and mercy to touch lives for Him. God Bless the Catholic Church - Guide them, touch them, reveal in fresh ways your Son, Jesus to them. May they see beyond the candles, the traditions, cathedrals, human leaders and have an encounter with the Savior. May we all, see Jesus and serve Him."
I agree with my friend! While we all may share different opinions about the Catholic Church and the place of her Pope in their theology, one thing rings true this week: Pope John Paul II was a man who loved and served God with all his heart, and it showed. It showed not just for the last decades, but was glaring this week in the affection of those who waited to pay their respects.

Now, I know that many of those who waited did so out of religious obligation, at least in their own thinking and beliefs. However, it's clear through the many comments and tributes paid by so many who knew him personally and worked alongside him that the respect shown him this week came from what he invested in this life.

When we pass from this life to the next, what will the crowds say? Lord, may we live in this life in ways that cause people to reflect deeply when we're in the next!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Story Untold ...

Mike King is one of our drummers. He and his wife, Gail, and their daughter, Christina, have been a part of our church life for many years. Last weekend, he went into the hospital as a result of some abdominal pain.

This morning, surgery to remove a plum-sized tumor that was totally blocking his large intestine revealed cancer that had spred to the small intestine as well. The doctor felt they were able to remove all the cancer, but Mike will need chemotherapy to be sure.

It was another reminder to me of how fast life can drastically change, and to live in the moments that God has given us right now. Have you ever found yourself fretting over the future only to have the Lord gently (in Mike's case, not so gently) remind you that He is the One Who holds your days in His hands?

Mike spoke to me of how overwhelmed he has been at the numbers of people who have come to see him. I was able to share with him that he is experiencing the fruit of his love and service to the Lord that he has given for so long to so many. He has no idea how many lives he has impacted as he has so faithfully served Jesus for many years. Now it's all coming back to him.

Mike is A Story Untold, one of those guys that just lives daily serving Jesus, unaware of how the grinding out of his life through its struggles and turmoil have actually been an example to others. His story is one that will live deep in the hearts of many, completely unbeknownst to him.

Folks, let's be cognizant of the fact that everything we are and do impacts the lives of those around us. Someone once said, "The biggest decisions of life are always made in the smallest corners of life." I believe this is so true, and it's bearing truth through Mike's circumstances!

Lord, let us be ever aware of how we represent you and your heart toward others!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Easter ... come and gone

What a great weekend we celebrated at NewHeart! Easter is always an exciting time around most churches, but something different was definitely in the air this last weekend.

I can't even tell you what it was, but something was different for me. For some reason, from about Saturday afternoon (around the time I start to really focus on Sunday morning), I began to feel a deep sense of excitement and anticipation.

It's not that I don't feel excited week to week, but something within me just had a stronger sense of anticipation than normal. When we reached Sunday morning, everything fell together. From the first worship song until the last light switch was turned off and doors were locked, there was a palpable sense of God's presence on our Easter Celebrations.

Between both celebrations, we had 320 people, with a handful giving their life to Jesus for the first time and many more recommitting to a relationship with Him. It was just awesome!

I am excited about the next several weeks as we continue our series, "Living In Community Without Driving Each Other Crazy". I would be very interested to hear your thoughts and questions about this intriguing series. Let's talk about it!

At the very least, leave me a note here that you visited. If I get enough response, I'll keep doing this. If I don't, I'll consider it a good ole college try and put it away. So let me know what you think!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

First call

Welcome to my blog! I hope you what you find here helps you get to know me better. One of the things I have become well-known for (not by any means on purpose) is for my ability to remember names.

I have to admit that as our church grows, that gets harder to do all the time, try as I may. Some have told me that age has something to do with it, but for the life of me, I can't remember who they were!! ;^)

I mention that to invite you to post your comments here as well, so that I can also get to know you better. Whether they be about whatever is posted here, a recent message, a question you have about me or NewHeart. Have at it (but be nice!).

May God's hand of blessing be on you and your family this week as we prepare to celebrate the reason for the hope that we have!