Friday, December 28, 2007

Let It Snow ...

We woke up to a fresh blanket of snow on the ground today. Beautiful sight!!

Started the day with a breakfast of egg nog pancakes and bacon while we watched the snow fall. However, I spent the rest of the morning in bed nursing a bit of nausea. It subsided around mid-afternoon, but was a bummer because I was hoping to hit the hills with the boys today. Oh well ... thankfully, we still have tomorrow!

The snow fell all day long. Late afternoon featured a long walk in the falling snow. It's amazing how quiet the snow makes the surroundings. It was good to get out of the house a bit.

Tonight we enjoyed Turkey Fiesta Soup and tamales. It's been a day of football movies. We watched "We Are Marshall" this afternoon and and now we're watching "The Gridiron Gang" together. Both good and very inspirational movies.

The snow is still falling, but is supposed to clear up sometime tomorrow afternoon. We'll have to dig out a bit, but it looks like my prayer for a snow-in isn't going to happen. Maybe another time.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Post-Christmas Reflections

I am in Homewood, California (west side of Lake Tahoe) with family. We are enjoying the afterglow of our first white Christmas. It's Thursday (Christmas was Tuesday, for those who lose track of time the week between Christmas & New Year's) and we are anticipating a good snowfall overnight.

The snow has been falling for the last few hours. It's supposed to really pick up overnight. It's currently 19 degrees, and supposed to get down to 5 degrees overnight! Then, after a break in the afternoon, we're supposed to get another storm for Friday night into Saturday. Friday afternoon sounds like a sled-fest to me! My boys are gonna love that, as I have been quite the couch potato the last few days just decompressing.

It usually takes a me 2-3 days to physically and mentally decompress when I go away, whether for vacation or one of my study breaks. We left Sunday afternoon, and it only took us 8-1/2 hours to get here (I was thinking about 10), including stops. We made great time.

After all the prep for Christmas, both the trip here and church stuff, I was pretty tired and ready for the break. Lots of resting, relaxing, reading, wonderfully rewarding time with family, both my own and my in-laws, has been the order of the week!

You're wondering..."Paul, you're on vacation. What are you doing blogging?" Well, the place we're staying at has wireless internet access and there are lots of good things that are accessible by internet for us and our kids, particularly informative stuff about the Tahoe area.

The kids have spent a good amount of time outside, but even they can only last so long in freezing temps! They've been enjoying plenty of movies and lots of Nintendo Wii time with their cousin. And, of course, we've all been enjoying the food that just tastes so much better when you're not in a hurry in any way.

We plan to head home Sunday, but we'll see what the weather holds!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!!!

Its 12:07 am Christmas Day and I'm about to hit the sack. Thought I'd just leave a "Merry Christmas" to anyone tracking!

I am so grateful for family and friends that have walked through 2007 with me! I am so grateful for Jesus; all He has done and is yet to do on into our future together.

May the glory of His presence invade every part of your heart today!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

12 Days of Christmas 80s Style

Come on can hang out with me for just a FEW minutes and enjoy the fact there are only 4 days left to Christmas! PLAY THE VIDEO!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Starbucks Saturation

Did you know that in East Simi Valley, there there is one Starbucks for every 9.48 square miles and for every 12,253 people?

In West Simi Valley, there is one Starbucks for every 4.24 square miles and for every 7,198 people. How come the west side gets all the good stuff?

Want to check it out in your area? Find out here.

Guest Blogger Debut

I was given an opportunity by a friend to become a Guest Blogger on his blog, It's a blog dedicated "to frustrate, educate, and motivate the church to communicate, with uncompromising clarity, the truth of Jesus Christ." I love that!

You can check out my article here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jack Hayford Colorado Shooting Udate

You may have heard that Pastor Jack Hayford, President of The Foursquare Church, happened to have been the Guest Speaker at New Life Church in Colorado Springs on Sunday, December 9. That was the scene of the second church-related shooting in Colorado that day. The shooter in both incidents was 24-year old Matthew Murray.

On Tuesday, Pastor Jack relayed an update of the situation as it occurred near him. It read as follows:

Shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs

December 12, 2007

By reason of the many calls I have received, graciously and lovingly expressing concern for me in the aftermath of the widely publicized, tragic event that occurred in Colorado Springs, Colo., last Sunday, Dec. 9, I have been asked to offer this report.

First, let me address the most basic facts; information I offer only because having had several phone calls, along with recurring questions, I believe answers the most common ones: Where was I? What happened? Was I in danger?

  1. The arrival of the gunman was at about 1:00 p.m., 20-25 minutes after the conclusion of the 11:00 service, at which, as at 9:00 a.m, I was the speaker.
  2. The gunman’s arrival was after more than 85 percent of the approximately 4,500 in the second service had left the church parking lot—obviously, the first of many providences of God’s grace, reducing the exposure of thousands to what took place.
  3. I was in the pastor’s office, having a light lunch before leaving for the airport, when his assistant and her husband burst into the office, urgently announcing that a gunman was in the building, shooting in the hallways. The office was a relatively secure situation, a floor above the hallways, in an area accessed only by a coded door. However, we could hear gunfire.
  4. Within the next 30 seconds we could hear gunfire and 2-3 minutes later were advised it was the final exchange; the final shots being fired by a security guard, resulting in the instant felling of the shooter. The guard had warned the gunman to put down his weapon—only to have him continue random firing, while reaching for a smoke grenade attached to his belt.
  5. Over the next 10 minutes we received word, that upon arriving in the parking lot and exiting his car with an automatic rifle in hand, the gunman immediately began spraying bullets into the cars everywhere. Tragically, this is when the two teenage girls were struck, one dying in moments, the other at the hospital later. Their father was also hit, but not fatally—the prospects of his recovery being described as excellent. (His wife, the girls’ mother, was also with them, but was not hit. You can imagine the deep emotional concern which all feel for this bereaved couple.)
  6. Two other casualties were realized, as the result of the gunman’s entrance into the hallways where he fired on the relatively few remaining there—most were able to hide in doorways or behind pillars. However, one person was shot in the shoulder and another in the arm. I am informed that both of these are in good condition and recovering well. Again, the Lord’s grace is evident.

Having given these facts, let me conclude with these remarks:

My presence was, of course, by reason of invitation from New Life’s new senior pastor, Brady Boyd—a leader I’ve developed a friendship with over recent years. At age 40, and with a proven pastoral leadership record in both the Amarillo and Dallas areas, Brady was asked last July to take the pastorate formerly held by Ted Haggard. As Brady has regarded me as a mentor and one to whom, with four or five other leaders, he holds himself accountable, he was very hopeful I could be his pulpit guest before his first six months was completed. This explains why I happened to be present on the occasion of the shocking events last Sunday.

Having been there, let me affirm two things:

  1. The miraculous intervention of God was monumentally apparent. The grace of God’s providence in the man’s being put down early in the foray most certainly saved scores of lives. The police said he had over 500 rounds of ammunition on his body and was set for a slaughter.
  2. The pragmatic wisdom and preparation of the church’s security force is a lesson for us all. They, having heard of the event in Arvada, Colo., earlier in the day, and only 75 miles north, prompted their special attentiveness—not because they had any reason to expect attack, but simply because a part of their pastoral style is to take every precaution, at all points, to protect those on their campus in any regard—including the least expected, an attack such as occurred.
Thank you, again, for all who have indicated their gratitude to God upon hearing I was not harmed on this tragic occasion.

Please continue to pray for New Life Church and the pastoral staff, as well as for the whole congregation. May God’s mercies and comfort attend them—especially at this very tender Christmas season.

Pastor Jack Hayford

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Colorado Church Shootings

No doubt the news of the next days will be about today's tragic shootings at New Life Church in Colorado Springs and at the Youth With A Mission Training Center in Arvada. The YWAM event happened around 12:30 am and the New Life shooting happened about 12:30 pm.

My only comments at this time are:

  • We should not be surprised ... we are always moving closer to the "End Times", whenever they may come. Stuff like this is going to happen, even though today's shootings don't appear to be persecution-type attacks so far.
  • An armed church security guard had to do something he probably thought he would never have to do at a church today. I am thankful for his bravery, skill and willingness. May God give him the necessary resources over the next days and weeks to move through this incident.
  • Obviously, my heart is ripped for the families who are "left behind" in these incidents. I pray the Lord of Peace, the Prince of Peace in this season, would marvelously garce them with his comfort.

The article from is as follows:

ARVADA, Colo. —

A gunman shot four staff members at a missionary training center near Denver early Sunday, killing two, after being told he couldn't spend the night. About 12 hours later and 65 miles away, a gunman fatally shot a parishioner at a megachurch and wounded four other people before a guard killed him, police said.

The police chief in Arvada, a suburb about 15 miles west of Denver where the mission workers were shot, said the shootings may be related to those at the Colorado Springs church but declined to elaborate. Arvada authorities said no one had been captured in the shootings there.

The gunman at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs was shot and killed by a church security guard after entering the church's main foyer with high-powered rifle shortly before 1 p.m. and opening fire, Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Myers said. Four others were wounded, Myers said.

Click here for the Youth With a Mission Web site.

Click here for photos

Click here for more on this story at MyFoxColorado.

The church's 11 a.m. service had recently ended, and hundreds of people were milling about when the gunman opened fire. Nearby were parents picking up their children from the nursery.

Police arrived to find that the gunman had been killed by a member of the church's armed security staff, Myers said.

"There was a courageous staff member who probably saved many lives here today," Myers said.

Gov. Bill Ritter ordered state authorities to help investigate. The FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were assisting, and officers combed the church campus looking for suspicious devices.

Three of the injured were taken to Penrose Community Hospital in Colorado Springs, said hospital spokeswoman Amy Sufak. One person was critical, she said. It wasn't known where the fourth injured person was being treated.

New Life was founded by the Rev. Ted Haggard, who was fired last year after a former male prostitute alleged he had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with him. Haggard, then the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, admitted committing undisclosed "sexual immorality."

The New Life church is one of Colorado's largest with about 10,000 members. The mission training program in Arvada has a small office at the church's World Prayer Center on the New Life campus.

About 7,000 people were on the Colorado Springs campus at the time of the shooting, Boyd said. Security at the church had been beefed up after the early morning shootings in Arvada, he said.

That shooting happened at about 12:30 a.m. at the Youth With a Mission center in Arvada, a Denver suburb, police spokeswoman Susan Medina said.

A man and a woman were killed and two men were wounded, Medina said. All four were staff members of the center, said Paul Filidis, a Colorado Springs-based spokesman with Youth With a Mission.

Arvada Police Chief Bob Wick, asked whether he believed there was reason to think the shootings are related, responded, "Yes, there is reason to believe that."

Wick said the suspect spent several minutes speaking with people inside the dorm. Peter Warren, director of Youth With a Mission Denver, said the man asked whether he could spend the night. Several youths called on Tiffany Johnson, the center's director of hospitality.

"The director of hospitality was called. That's when he opened fire," Warren said. Johnson, 26, was killed.

Warren said he didn't know whether any of the students or staff knew the gunman. "We don't know why" he came to the dormitory, Warren said.

Witnesses told police that the gunman was a 20-year-old white male, wearing a dark jacket and skull cap, who had a handgun and left on foot. He may have glasses or a beard.

Police with dogs searched the area through the night, and residents of nearby homes were notified by reverse 911 to be on the lookout. Medina said residents were asked to look out their windows for any tracks left in the snow during the night. About 4 inches of snow had fallen in the area in the past day.

In addition to Johnson, killed in Arvada was Philip Crouse, 24. Youth With a Mission said Johnson was from Minnesota and Crouse was from Alaska.

The missionary center identified the wounded as Dan Griebenow, 24, of South Dakota, and Charlie Branch, 22, whose hometown wasn't immediately known. One of the men was in critical condition, and the other was stable, police said.

The missionary center is on the grounds of the Faith Bible Chapel. Cheril Morrison, wife of chapel pastor George Morrison, said Crouse had just hung up Christmas lights at her home and that Johnson was "an amazingly beautiful person."

Mimi Martin, who lives near the center, said she received the warning call at about 9 a.m. warning neighbors to keep their doors and windows locked.

"Why would anybody want to hurt those kids?" Martin said.

Darv Smith, director of a Youth With a Mission center in Boulder, said people ranging from their late teens to their 70s undergo a 12-week course that prepares them to be missionaries. He said the center trains about 300 people a year.

Filidis said staffers are usually former missionaries themselves and that the "mercy ministries" performed by trainees include orphanage work. He said he didn't know where the group being trained in Arvada was going to be sent.

Youth With a Mission was started in 1960 and now has 1,100 locations with 16,000 full-time staff, Smith said. The Arvada center was founded in 1984.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pastors on Antidepressants

I read somewhere recently the comment that "it is sad news that 22% of pastors today are on antidepressants." I can't remember where I read that, but depression does that to me ... hmmm.

In processing that comment over the last few days, I have to say that I think the sad news in not that 22% of pastors today are on antidepressants, but that ONLY 22% of pastors are on antidepressants. I know that's a strong thing to say, and obviously it's coming from a pastor who uses them. Uh ... yes, that would be me!

I know alot of pastors. ALOT! I'm just tellin' ya ... it would help many of them to seek help for why their Monday drags into Tuesday and the rest of the week!

Pastoring is a care-giving profession. Many of us pastors don't want to call it a "profession", but it's what we do, even if you're bi-vocational. Why don't we care as much if psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, nurses, elderly care and mental health workers are on antidepressant medication? I, for one, have not heard "alarming" statistics on how many of those care-giving professionals are on medication.

In this post, I know there's alot I am saying, as well as a ton that I am not saying. I am presuming you know that I don't see depression as purely spiritual or medication to help it as some kind of taboo subject. Any who know me personally are aware that I have struggled with clinical depression for a number of years, at least since being diagnosed in 2001, but probably for many more years before that.

Just a little of my ramblings on the subject. Feel free to toss in questions or comments if you have them! Maybe I ought to write a little more on my journey in case it's helpful to someone else.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Looking & Listening

I've been working through a teaching series lately called "Seasons", where we've been looking at how God has set the earth to identify when certain seasons change. Depending on what part of the world you live in, you can tell by the weather when Fall turns to Winter ... Winter to Spring ... and so on.

God has also set into place different seasons in each of our lives, according to Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. God tells us there that there is a season for everything we experience or can experience under heaven. That would be BEFORE you get to heaven, in case you're wondering what "under heaven" would indicate.

It's helpful, in my opinion, to be on a regular lookout for what season of life you're in at any given time. It can help us to distinguish if what we may be experiencing is of God, or of, say, the devil. I think we are sometimes a little too quick to blame the devil for some of what we experience in life, when God is wanting to do something fresh in us even when life hurts.

For instance, how many people (read: Christians) have asked you how you're doing, only to have you choose to be honest and let them know you're not doing all that great; then to have them toss it back at you with something that makes you sound or feel like a faith-less, whining, sniveling, aardvark (or anything else that crawls close to the ground)?

Uh-huh ... just what I thought ... it's happened to you too. Sometimes, again, in my opinion, we're too quick to blame the devil for something unique God is doing in our lives.

Let me be clear: I do NOT believe that God is the author of confusion, nor that He tempts us, nor that He makes bad things happen (enough of those things happen on their own or because of my own bad decisions, folks!), nor that He wills for us to wallow in self-pity.

That said, I DO believe His Word, which declares just as strongly as anything else that ...

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
I just recently had an amazing thing take place. A close friend of mine who had left my life a few years ago because of a significant disagreement we had at the time came back into my life. Now, those words don't do justice to how amazing this is to me! I can't put how I feel into words in reality.

We've talked alot about how much we missed each other over these last years. We spend time together quite a bit and talk more often now than we did before the split in our friendship.

When we reconnected, I didn't know I would be doing this series. As the Lord began to develop it in my heart, and I took a new look at the Scripture above, in a very fresh way, I saw with my heart, "a time to tear and a time to mend".

One of the things my friend and I have asked each other is, "how come this took so long? Couldn't this have happened sooner?" Maybe; but maybe not. As we look back, the separation needed to happen for this couples life for alot of reasons. Maybe it needed to happen for mine too; I don't know.

I do know that the Lord has brought that phrase to life in this friendship for me ... "a time to tear and a time to mend" ... this is our time to mend and learn from each other more about Who God is as He is shaping us both. I don't understand all of God's ways. I'm just glad He is always involved, no matter the season I'm in!