Monday, April 30, 2007

Chaplain Call Out - April 30, 2007

Received a call from the Watch Commander at 7:45 am about a 51 year old lady with multiple health issues who had passed away over night. She was living with her daughter and family.

This was another reminder that no matter how "prepared" you are for someone you know to die, you never know what the actual moment is going to bring. The family knew for about 10 years that Mom could go at any time. She even knew it herself. But it came on so quickly and caught everyone unprepared.

I am a real advocate of talking about all details before death happens. It makes it so much easier for the family once the event occurs.

Even at the PD, there is an "emergency packet" that Officers are asked to fill out. It contains all the questions in case of line of duty death.

Who do you want to have make the notification to your family? What do you wan to be buried in? What type of a service would you like to have? Songs? Hymns? Who would you like to have officiate and/or speak? Etc., etc.

Once the packet is turned into the Chief's Office, it is sealed and placed in the Officer's file. I am told that most Officer's never fill it out and turn it in. They never think it will happen to them.

Having those decisions already made just makes the process a lot easier for the family. Just a thought ...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Chaplain Call Out - April 25, 2007

Got a call at 6:30 am to respond to the Simi Valley Hospital for a 10 week old girl who had stopped breathing. Met our Officers and the Hospital Chaplain there while the parents were in a closed room. The little girl had died and they were spending time with her.

Normally in a situation like this, we would hand the situation over to the Hospital Chaplain and I would touch bases with our Officers to let them know I'm there if they want to talk. This case was a little different. Dad is an Officer with a neighboring law enforcement agency.

So, the Hospital Chaplain and I chatted and he handed the case to me due to the fact I am a Police Chaplain. The law enforcement connection is big.

The little girl had some major health problems known about from before birth. While this wasn't totally unexpected, she had seemed to be greatly improving as of late. Spent quite some time working with the parents, our Officers, Dad's agency superiors who responded to the Hospital, and the Medical Examiner. What a week!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Life's Sacred Moments

I learned early on as a Pastor that it is a privilege to get to be invited into some of what I call "life's sacred moments". One of those kind of moments is when someone is near or has reached the finish line of this life. Simply put ... when someone is near death or has died.

Today, I got to be involved in some of those moments. David Allan Colvin, husband of 22 years to Patricia and father to Tiffany (16), Jaclyn (13) and Cole (9), went home to be with the Lord at 9:50 pm last night, April 23, 2007.

This man led an amazing life. In short ... 2 tours in Vietnam with the Navy as a helicopter pilot and an entrepreneur who started a number of highly successful businesses. Patricia and her kids found NewHeart a few years ago as a result of Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree Ministry.

David was serving time in jail (about 6 years), and had requested that Prison Fellowship add his kids to the Angel Tree list. As a result, our church was assigned to provide Christmas gifts for each of his kids on his behalf. Angel Tree is an amazing program!

David's jail time is a LOOONNNGGG and complicated story ... truly one of those "unfairly convicted" kinds of stories. While in jail, David survived two bouts of cancer.

Released 18 months ago and catching up on lost time with his family, he was diagnosed with brain cancer in January. Two weeks ago, he was informed he had 3 months to live, and last night, he passed away peacefully.

If you would, please pray for Patricia and her kids. And to those who have participated in Angel Tree each year, just a note to say you never know whose life you're powerfully impacting with a simple gift!!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bummer News

I'm a small bit of an aviation buff. I love air shows and have taken my kids to some of them. One of my long-term dreams is to get my pilot's license. My in-laws live in Columbia, CA, on a hill that overlooks the Columbia Airport, a small airport by comparison. I'd love to fly my family in for a weekend some day.

Anyway, news today of a Blue Angels crash saddens me. I was at an air show at Camp Pendleton in 1984 or '85 where one of the planes crashed. Wasn't one of the featured groups like Blue Angels or Thunderbirds. An old war plane as I remember it.

Anyway, sad news.

Someday, I'll have to blog about my near-death experience in a helicopter over the Hollywood Freeway in 1985.....

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Birthing A Message, Part 2

Continuing from the last post on this topic, I'll share with you some thoughts about why I believe that things like titles and graphics/artwork are so important to a message or series.

I won't belabor the studies that show how overwhelmingly we learn and retain more effectively from visual modes over just auditory modes. Actually applying what we learn by doing it helps retain the "information" even more.

So, if we are really in the LIFE transformation business (and we are, in case it's been a while since you've given that much thought), then in what I do as a communicator, I want to give you the best opportunities and atmospheres in which to not just LEARN, but to APPLY what you learn.

Things like titles and graphics/artwork and music and video connected to a message are just methods of communication. It's often been said that the Bible is the message. As long as the message remains true, the methods of communicating the Truth can vary substantially.

Now, I've always said that I am not the most creative guy on the planet. I'm more nuts and bolts and details oriented. I love to teach God's Word, and to make it applicable and understandable. But sometimes, I get too bogged down in the details and minutiae and can't see the forest (big picture) for the trees (today; moment; little picture).

Though I believe so much in using visuals to help communicate the message, I don't always have the time or talent to get what I do see in the big picture whittled down to actual paper and pen (ie., artwork, videos, music, etc.). Google Images comes in VERY handy when looking for visuals!

That's why I am best friends with guys like Rick Warren, Wayne Cordeiro, Ed Young and the like. In case you don't know them, they are mega-church pastors in different parts of the country.

In case you're wondering, I do not know any of them personally. BUT, they allow their resources to be shared. While I don't use their messages word for word, I sometimes use points from their outlines, and often use their artwork for print, website and screen presentation.

These guys have resources from larger churches they lead that are big help to those of us who lead churches that endeavor to use the best in communications, from printed materials to presentation backgrounds.

There are now some GREAT websites out there for video and background for sermon illustrations and backgrounds. I regularly scan sites like Sermon Videos, Sermon Spice, and Faith Visuals.

I am thankful for guys like Rick, Wayne, Ed and the many, many others who are blazing trails in communication excellence that others can benefit from. There are trails for us ALL to blaze that are different than what everyone else is blazing.

For instance, I believe part of my trail to blaze is in helping Pastors and their church leaders figure out how their Pastor can do what they do the way God means for THEM to do it. We tend to expect the same thing(s) from one Pastor to another without taking into account their individual make-up and wiring in their gifts, talents, personality, background and life-stage.

You've heard me talk about Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, which I believe must play into the maturity growth process of us all, and I especially feel called to see it developed in the lives of Pastors and leaders. EHS is a crucial component of any Pastor figuring out HOW to do what God has called them to do within the context of THEIR life.

Just more thoughts ...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Tragedy

Perusing some blogs about the VT Tragedy perspectives, I came across one of my favorite bloggers. A Pastor in Washington, DC; Mark Batterson at I really appreciate how he writes and thinks, and was struck by how he gave some perspective on the VT Tragedy:

It certainly doesn't shake my belief in God. It just affirms my belief in evil. And it's a tragic reminder of how much we need God.

I got a call from a Washington Post reporter asking me about my take. Honestly, I'm like everyone else. A lot more questions than answers. The only explanation, in my estimation, is free will. We can exercise that free will to do tremendous good or
tremendous evil. It is a reminder that within each of us their is the potential to become the greatest of saints or the worst of sinners.
I recommend Mark's blog wholeheartedly!

Birthing A Message

I've had a number of comments the last several days on messages from the last two Sundays. Click here to listen to them online. Good comments, and encouraging, with some curiosity to how it comes together for me each week.

First of all, I want to say it's much like a birthing process. Well, at least as far as I can analogize it anyway. Any given message is usually "conceived" weeks before it is "born". What happens in between is the "labor" process.

Please understand that I am not trying to pretend that I know what it feels like to birth a baby. I am only saying that I believe this is a good analogy as far as I can understand it as a man.

The "labor" process for me as a Pastor and preacher doesn't refer only to the "labor" or "work" of studying, though it certainly includes it. It refers also to the painstaking process of trying to figure out whether what I sense is needing to be said is really the Holy Spirit, or if it's last night's dinner. It also includes ruminating over it to try to put it into words that most can understand and apply.

I believe any Pastor wants to wholeheartedly speak only Jesus' words to his flock. But we're all human. So discerning what's me and what's Him is a big deal.

Our current series, "Authority Issues" has been brewing for a couple of months. I just named it last week, but knew that I would be doing some teaching on how we deal with authority in our lives.

I'll post more later on how the name came about, why I think the name of a message or series is important, and why I think images and artwork are such an important part of any theme and message.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Aching Heart

My heart is aching tonight over the news of the tragedy at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. I was right next door to Blacksburg six months ago. You can read my post about that trip here.

Get the latest news on the incident here.

Folks, life is completely unpredictable. You can be here today and gone tomorrow. That's what James talks about when he writes, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (James 4.14)

When your day comes to meet Jesus, are you prepared? Do you know Him as your own personal Savior? If you do, is your life in order?

That doesn't mean you have to be perfect. It just means that you're living your life connected to Jesus. That He alone is your breath and strength.

What a tragic reminder today is that in a moment's time, completely unexpectedly, life as we know it can drastically change. My heart aches tonight for those families who are left behind in shock and grief.

Praying ...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Chaplain Call Out - April 11, 2007

Received a call from the SVPD Watch Commander at 11:01 this morning. A two-year-old boy was involved in a drowning in his own backyard. No one noticed that he had opened the sliding glass door to the patio and found his way to the pool until it was too late.

When they went searching for him, he was found at the bottom of the pool. A neighbor knew CPR and started immediately. When I arrived at the house, he had already been taken to the hospital, which I know by experience has a great team of Chaplains. I knew the family would be well taken care of.

Upon my arrival, the 2 responding Officers were in the front yard. I spent some time talking through the incident with them. You might imagine that arriving on a scene like this, especially when you have kids yourself, can be VERY difficult for Officers to process.

It's always important, and a good thing, for them to be able to vent and talk it through. I'll check on them in a few days as well to see how they're doing.

In the back yard was one of our Crime Scene Investigators, who I also spent some time with. The opportunity for a Chaplain to be on scene is what we call a "ministry of presence". It's not always (even rarely) that a first responder actually processes the event on scene. However, it's the visibility and contact of a Chaplain quickly that can have an impact when it hits them later.

Once we were done at the scene, I went to the hospital to check on the Detectives working the case there. The little boy had arrived DOA, but they were able to revive him with CPR! By an hour or so later, they had some pupil activity, which is good news toward brain activity.

It will still be quite a while before they know for sure how much brain damage might have been done. Please pray for this little boy and his family. Pray that Mom and Dad will be reached with God's Love through this incident.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rare Opportunity

I really want to encourage you to INVITE, INVITE, INVITE friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to this weekend's EASTER CELEBRATIONS on Sunday at 8:30 & 10:30 am.

I am very excited about this year's theme ..."EASTER...BASED ON A TRUE STORY!" ANYONE will find strong relation and identification of the need we ALL have for Jesus in our lives.

Studies have been done that show that over 50% of unchurched people would go to church IF A FRIEND INVITED THEM. Well, FRIEND, there is no better weekend to do so than this one! Who do you know that needs Jesus?

There is no better time to breach that all too often awkward moment ... no more opportune days than this week to help bridge the chasm between your friends and the Lord!

Could I also ask you to pray this week for our teams? Because we know this weekend is one of those rare opportunities to reach many more open hearts than usual, our teams put extra effort and time into what they do to make great first impressions. We want people to know the love of God through us! Would you pray for strength, courage and souls?

Again, consider asking someone to join you on your journey with Jesus this weekend. You never might help SAVE someone's life!

P.S. If you're reading this and you are a part of another church family, then by all means INVITE SOMEONE to YOUR church with you this weekend!!

Monday, April 02, 2007

New York's EHS Conference con't...

Chuck and I thought it would be incredible to have Foursquare's top leaders experience this conference IN NEW YORK. We talked with Pete Scazzero about it in a passing conversation. Then, Chuck mentioned it to Glenn Burris, our VP of National Operations, who gave him a green light to pursue the possibilities!

In a span of two years, we are going from Pastor Paul going to New York, getting to know Scazzero to talking about possibly gathering 200 or so Foursquare leaders (Board of Directors, Cabinet, District Supervisors) so they can best be immersed in the material. WOW!


I May Regret It

Just finished a LOONNGG day that I may regret tomorrow! Woke up at 4:15, showered (just to wake myself more), picked up my brother-in-law, and drove to Phoenix.

There, he rented a moving truck and we loaded about an apartment's worth of furniture into it from his parents rental house. Then, believe it or not, we drove back ... today!! Got home around 8:15 tonight.

Now, for me, I got to sleep the first few hours while Dan drove. I actually felt rested by the time we got there. I can't imagine how HE is feeling tonight.

Unloading waits for tomorrow, along with some painting at my house. You know ... one of those "well, if we're gonna get a new (to us) couch, we might as well change the color and clean the walls up like we've needed to for far too long!"

I'm tired from tomorrow already, let alone today. I may regret all this tomorrow. I'll let you know!

By the way, if you didn't make it to church yesterday, you MISSED out! Randy Stonehill was amazing and the laughter we enjoyed was glorious!

Whatever you do, invite alot of people to come to Easter this weekend. THAT, you will NOT regret!!