Monday, September 09, 2019

Church TV Guide

T.V. Guide for the church.

Summer is winding down and fall will soon be upon us. So, as a public service here is the newest edition of the Fall TV guide for the church.

Family Feud: New family trying to sit in the seat where someone has sat for the last 40 years

Law and Order: What children’s church workers aim for.

Kids say the darnest things: Remarks the kids say during the children’s sermon

To Tell the truth:  What the preacher tries to do every Sunday

Twilight Zone: What people slip into when the sermon goes too long

Big Bang theory: What happens when a sudden noise wakes them up

NCIS: “No candy in the service” was the rule that was quickly abandoned so parents could use candy as bribery to keeps kids amused

The Voice: That loud screaming noise during a sermon that doesn’t bother the preacher but embarrasses the mom

A million things: A explosion of glitter in the pre-school Sunday School class

The Rookie: The first-time teacher who has to clean up that glitter

Survivor: Vacation Bible School workers when the week is over

48 hours. How long the sermon feels when the Children’s church staff they have wiggly, loud kids

Amazing Race: Kids sprint to the bathroom between Sunday School and church

The Biggest Loser: The church when we don’t appreciate the amazing children God brings to us each week

This is us: Loving families in our church, working together to show the love of Christ to our community

Will and Grace: What we submit to God and what God gives to us.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Boys and their toys

I just spent last week working at High School Camp at Camp Koinonia in Sweet Home.  After working at the younger camps the past few years as a cabin dad, I’ve had lots of experience working with 3-6th grade boys.  I was excited to embrace the maturity of working with high school boys.  Granted some things have not changed.  Boys cabins have the terminal gym sock smell and there is a general rebellion around the topic of cabin clean-up.

        I remembered the old saying that “the difference between men and boys is the size and cost of their toys.”  I couldn’t wait to see what these mature, sophisticated young men would use to occupy their free time.  As usual I’m behind the times and I need some coaching to cope with this new technology.

        So, I spent last week around Legos.  To be fair, our theme for the week was a Lego theme.  The idea was to build up one another in Christ.  During our planned recreation time, we played a group game building a structure that my cabin of 16 boys could all fit in out of cardboard.  Every body lay next to each over while the other counselors and I spread a huge cardboard quilt over them.  They worked well together and grew closer together.  (There are pictures on my Facebook if you want to see what it looked like.)

        I also watched as they would decorate our cabin for cabin clean up.  One guy made a platform out of Legos.  He hung it from our ceiling with duct tape, and mounted a salt shaker sized speaker on it, so we could listen to music.  I cringed at the thought of having to listen to their new music!  The favorite song for the week was “Take me home, country roads” by John Denver.  The song originally came out in 1974 and it was the first song I learned on guitar.  My cabin loved singing it.  What they lacked in pitch and harmony they made up in volume and enthusiasm.  Apparently, the song was used in a couple of popular movies, so it’s making a comeback.

        On the home building front, I love playing Duplo blocks (bigger Lego blocks for younger kids) with grandsons John and Tyson (3 and 1 respectively) for two reasons.  The first and most importantly is spending time with my grandsons and also, they are young enough that I can build my only Duplo creation, a tower, and they are impressed.  I’m looking forward to when they are in kindergarten and can build stuff that I can copy.

        There are more important building projects that every church needs to focus on.  The most important is building one another up. Our theme passages for last week’s camp were, Hebrews 3:13,  “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness,” and Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwhole-some talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

        We build the church up by encouraging one another.  These building blocks can be a kind word, a smile or shared story, meeting together in a Small Group, checking in on someone sick or missing from our church family for awhile, or a loving hug or handshake.  It can be a thoughtful, kind deed.  Satan and our world tears people apart.  We are to rebuild people into a beautiful, God honoring structure called “the church”, which Jesus said “even the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

        Now, where did I put that duct tape…

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Cut to the chase!

Did you know that beard shavers can get moldy and go bad?  I didn’t know it either. Why else would they seal my new beard shaver in indestructible, bullet proof plastic? I did a little research to unlock this mystery.

James William Lewis needs to go to the electric chair. This idiot was the guy in Chicago who was suspected to tampering with and putting poison Tylenol Bottles in 1982.  He was never convicted.    Of course this resulted in our having seals on the top of everything from milk, to medicine, to mustache trimmers.   I can understand sealing food, milk and other perishables. I can suffer a bit of inconvenience in the interest of public safety.  

 So let’s fast forward to our vacation a week ago. Joni and I were browsing through a store in Coos Bay, picking up some items. I needed a new beard trimmer.  My old trimmer’s parts had jumped ship ad escaped.

So I bought a new beard trimmer.

The last beard trimmer I bought was in a nice, easy to open box. I used the process I always use with new stuff. Open the box, pull out the trimmer. Toss the directions. Use the trimmer and cut my face to shreds. Dig directions out of recycles to help me to literally save face.

But this is the new millennium. My new beard whacker was sealed for eternity in a hard plastic covering. So I’ll just pull it apart. Yeah right.  So I try the time honored approach to opening anything. Did you know teeth don’t work well with hard plastic?  But hey, I’m a guy. I can solve this, so out comes the old pocket knife.  Then I have flashbacks of stabbing myself in the hand with the knife, so back it goes to my pocket.  By this time, I’m not letting a plastic package get the better of me, so I march to my mini shop. 

Each guy usually has two shops.  There is the main shop in the garage which holds tools, sleeping bags, Christmas decorations, and a lot of my kids stuff.  But first, I go to the mini shop which is the junk, (tool) drawer in the kitchen.  Note to self.  Replace my wife’s favorite sewing with a pair that will cut hard plastic.

By now, I felt like one of the seven dwarfs. (not Doc. The other one that starts with a “D”) Come on sing with me; “Hi-Ho-Hi- Ho, It’s to the shop I go…”  When I get to the garage, I survey my options.  A chain saw would cut it open but there could be collateral damage to me and the trimmer. Besides, I loaned it out and forgot who has it.  After considering a crowbar, an ax and a blow torch, I decide on a pair of tin snips. These bad boys will cut through most anything It breezed through the packing, the instructions, and almost my finger, but SUCCESS!!!!

I’m so glad our Savior is not wrapped in military grade, super strength plastic.

The scripture makes this very clear in Romans 8:37-39.  It says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The next time you find yourself using your teeth to rip into a plastic bag of tools, or a new phone, remember that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is easily assessable.  No hard plastic packaging, just prayer.  He is easy to get to, and always ready to extend His grace, love and peace whenever we need it.

If you will excuse me, I have to open a new plastic bag of guitar picks. Where are my bolt cutters….            

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Who Let The Boys Out

     If you now have a song running around in your head I accomplished my purpose.  I had a fun time two weeks ago.  I was a “Camp Grandpa” for the First Chance Camp at Camp Koinonia.  It was my granddaughter, Jehnayia’s, first year for camp and I went along to help.  My duties were to assist with music and be in charge of the boys cabins.  I had several high school counselors who did an amazing job in the cabins.

     It’s been a few years since I have been a cabin dad (Grandpa).  So, picture yourself with about a dozen second and third grade boys.  They were great guys and we had no problems.  They are just “all boy.”

     By the end of the week, our cabin had the not so delicate aroma of wet swimsuits, sweaty socks, and dirty underwear.  I’ve done camps for over 30 years, so that was no surprise. However, I still marvel at the concept of “Rest Time.”  These boys couldn’t sit still for 20 seconds much less lay on their bunks quietly for an hour.  Bear in mind the A frame cabins had no windows, so when the lights were off our cabin was  completely dark.  This brings me to another camp mystery--flashlights.  We have kids bring them so they can get safely to the bathrooms at night.  They are also able to do strobe light shows during rest time. They mix the light show with a contest of who can scream the loudest while they leap from bunk to bunk and literally hang from the rafters.  One thing my father gave me was an authoritative, military, “The voice.”  It worked well. The cabin was quiet.

     As I reflect on the week, the story in Luke 18 comes to mind.  Jesus is teaching and parents bring their children to Jesus.  It was customary for parents to bring their children to a famous rabbi for the teacher to bless them.  Jesus was happy to do this.  Every picture I’ve seen of this story shows the little child, still and quiet as he slowly walks toward Jesus.  The artist obviously never had kids. I suspect the scene would be more like this:

     “Judah, quit playing with the donkey and get over here.”
     “Hold still, we are seeing Jesus.”
     “Judah, let go of the donkey’s tale.”
     “Put that donkey pie down now.”
     “Do NOT throw it!”

     I think the disciples had just spent a week at church camp.  They weren’t too crazy about the kids coming to Jesus either.  Jesus on the other hand says, "Let the children come to me.  I tell you the truth anyone who does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it.”

     I suspect the kids in that story gave Jesus a flower they picked or an unusual rock they found.  They were noisy and wiggly. They were curious and excited.  They were likely running in circles. I’m sure they gave Jesus a hug.  They asked Jesus to feel their muscles.  They would ask Jesus to see the newest cartwheel they mastered, or hear a song they made up.  Picture the God who created the heavens and the earth, playing “Duck, Duck, Goose” with a group of children.

     Come closer to Jesus today.  Don’t be timid.  He can’t wait to get closer to you.  Run with open arms. Hug His leg, laugh, run and be silly. The Savior of the world is waiting for you.

     And the aroma of heaven is a lot sweeter than sweaty socks or wet swimsuits! 

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Letter from John

        Hi, I’m John.  Short for Johnathon Carl Weninger.  One of my grandparents are Bob and Joni Laver.  Grandpa was a bit booked up this week (not to mention getting old), so I told him that I would write his column for him (even at my age my handwriting is better than his!). 

        I am officially 21 days old.  Actually, I’m not even supposed to be born yet.  My due date wasn’t for a few days or so but no offense mom, it was getting a bit cramped in there.  Plus, I guess I was upside down or something because this doctor kept trying to turn me round.  Can’t they leave a guy alone when he’s trying to sleep?  I was comfortable.  I guess Dad wasn’t real happy when they tried to move me (Dad’s pretty cool that way). 

        The next thing I knew, there was a hole in the ceiling and I was jerked out of there.  Talk about a bright light!  Can they not issue a guy a set of shades?  It was nice to finally meet the parents!  I have really cool parents, awesome grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousin.  I think I have all the names straight.

        I’m not sure, but I think I have an older brother named Simba. He doesn’t say much, but he has 4 legs and a tail and keeps staring at me.  I’m looking forward to the day I can jump on to the table like he does--cat like reflexives.  I want some of that.

        Being an infant is pretty demanding.  Most of my days are sleeping and eating and getting my diaper changed.  I love sleeping and cuddling.  At night I am wide awake.  For some reason, Mom and Dad don’t seem to be too thrilled at playing at 4 in the morning. Well, they’ll get use to it.  I may just have to switch over to day shift and see if that is better.

        I’ve got two amazing grandpas.  My dad’s dad owns an auto body shop and is an excellent car painter.  There wasn’t really anything to paint with in the womb, so when I get better at crawling I may try painting a wall.  I’m sure grandpa would give me pointers.

        My other grandpa is a preacher, so I’ve been hearing lots of Bible stories while I was on the inside.  I guess I have a Heavenly Father who made me while I was inside mom.  How cool is that?  He made my arms and legs.  I’m not sure what the belly button is for.  I guess that is one more questions I’ll ask when they teach me to talk.  Maybe Simba knows.

        I’m looking forward to meeting all of you.  Just a warning, if you want to hold me, the grandmas seem to want to “hog the baby.” I might smile at you, and if you’re good, I just might fill my diaper.

        Gotta go now.  I’m starved.  Where’s mom?


Monday, November 16, 2015

Thanksgiving Carols

Are you frustrated with stores bringing out Christmas decorations before Halloween is even over?  Are you concerned that Thanksgiving is tossed away like an old wishbone? If so, as a public service (and my needing a November column), with tongue firmly planted in cheek next to the cranberry sauce, I give you

Thanksgiving Carols.
(singing on key is completely optional)

The First Bowl (el)
(sung to the tune of “First Noel”)

The First Bow (el)
The TV did say
Michigan won
And Stanford got slayed

Thanksgiving Day
After dinner is done
We gather and wonder 
If the Cowboys have won

Bowl (el) Bowl (el)
Team wins, we yell(el)
Look forward to next year
After this season’s done.

Check the Malls
(to “Deck The Halls”)
Check the malls for all the sales
Fa La, La, La, La, La, La, La, La
Camp for days so you won’t fail
Fa La, La, La, La, La, La, La, La

Muscle folks to the flat screen TV
Fa La, La, La, La, La, La, La, La

Online shopping makes it easy
Fa La, La, La, La, La, La, La, La

God rest ye merry gentlemen
(To the tune of “God rest ye merry gentlemen”)

God rest ye merry gentlemen
The football games all played
OD’d on pumpkin pie and then
Laid on the couch all day

You slept while all the guests did leave
And woke to graze once more

Please leave the leftovers for us
Make no fun
Just please leave some leftovers for us

Turkey Smells
(To the tune of Jingle Bells)

Lounging on the couch
Remote control in hand
Checking out the game
Feeling mighty grand

You notice all the smells
Makes your tummy growl
You dash into the dining room
And dig into the chow (oh)

Turkey Smells, Turkey Smells
Fills the room all day.
Bow in prayer and thank the Lord
For all He gives today. (EH)

Turkey Smells, Turkey Smells
Fills the room all day
Let’s thank God for all He’s done
Don’t call it Turkey Day!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What's Really Scary

        Three Christian martyrs are in heaven, looking down at earth on Halloween.  Let’s listen in to their conversation.

Jim Elliot:  “Gentlemen, welcome to the M&M.”
Saturas:  “Awesome, where is the candy?”
Pastor Kim:  “I don’t think it’s that kind of meeting.”
Jim:  “Quite correct.  M&M stands for meeting of the martyrs.  I don’t think we have been formally introduced.  I’m Jim Elliot. I was speared by headhunters in Ecuador in 1956 for sharing the Gospel.”
Kim:  “I am Pastor Kim. 26 members of my church and me were run over by a steamroller in Communist North Korea in 1950.”
Saturas:  “I am Saturas.  2 others and I were thrown into an arena 200 years after Christ and were torn apart by wild animals for telling others about Jesus.  Does that make me a martyr? ”
Jim:  “Oh yes.  The word 'Martyr' means 'witness.'  In Acts 1:8, the apostles were called to be witnesses, or Martyrs to what they had seen.  And Martyrs often die for their faith. ”
Kim:  “Let me lighten the mood a bit. That is a great view of earth.”
Saturas:  “What are those kids doing?”
Kim:  “They seem to be going door to door begging for food.  I feel sorry for them.”
Saturas:  ”Well, a skeleton seems to be fighting with a princess over a pumpkin holding something.”
Jim:  “Those are children wearing costumes.”
Kim:   “Oh no! The children are not only poor but they are thieves. The 21st century is worse than ever.”
Jim (laughing"”No, No.  They are having an evening of fun.”
Saturas:  “It looks like they are having a great time.  And they should celebrate, but aren’t they a day early.”
Kim:  “I thought the good people of earth celebrated us on November 1st.”
Jim:  “November 1st is the correct day, although they call it 'All Saints Day', which isn’t really accurate.”
Saturas:  “I thought all Christians are saints.”
Jim:   “You are quite right. But church history has come up with the name so we are stuck with it.”
Kim:  “Someone should tell the kids down there.”
Jim:  “Sadly, they are not celebrating 'All Saints Day.'  They call this celebration  'Halloween.'”
Saturas:  “So they are using the old word for saint or reverent, 'Hallowed', like in the Lord’s prayer.”
Kim:  “They celebrate the day before, so it is 'All Hallow’s Eve.'”
Jim:   “You gentlemen are quite right. I’m afraid they have done the same with Christmas.  The entire month is dedicated to shopping, Santa Claus and mistletoe.  Our Master in the manger barely makes an appearance.”
Kim:  “Easter is the same way.  The empty cross and tomb are replaced by bunnies and eggs.”
Saturas:  “Bunny’s don’t lay eggs. I thought these folks had discovered biology.”
Jim:  “And these celebrations are usually done the day before or instead of church.”
Kim:  “But they have parades on the 4th of July, not the day before.”
Saturas:  “They have Veterans Day memorials on the day, not the day before.”
Kim:  “Why do they remember the less important holidays on the day, and forget the vital holidays?”
Saturas:  “I think people have always done that.  Plus, it’s not so much the day itself, but in remembering what we as martyrs suffered and died for.”
Jim:  “Actually, it’s who we suffered and died for.  We are honored in Revelation 6 under the 5th seal.  We suffered and died for sharing Jesus Christ when it wasn’t popular or even legal.  And we paid the same price Christ did.  Only He paid it for all our sins.”
Kim:  “Those kids do look like they are having fun.”
Saturas:  “I just wish they had the candy when we were alive.”
Jim:  “Okay, we can change the name of the meeting.  M&M candies are better anyway!