Saturday, January 31, 2009

New salvation presentation prayer

This is the rough draft of the new sinner's prayer I am working on. It is based on a 7 step process, one paragraph to meditate on every day. My goal is to help people to become true disciples, not just escape hell. I will back up to the beginning later but would like your input on just this section. Questions and critiques are appreciated.

Disciples Prayer
Father, I believe you are the creator and sustainer of the universe, the source of all life and worthy of all honor and glory.
I am humbled that you would freely offer to me both forgiveness from my sins and a growing personal relationship with you. I want to live life the way you designed me to live and not just continue to exist in nothingness. Help me to grow in my understanding of how much you love me.
Thank you for sending your only Son Jesus to not only die on the cross but to become sin in my place. I believe that in His resurrection from the dead, Jesus broke the power of sin and death over me. Sin is no longer my issue.
His sacrifice made it possible for me to become your child, gain eternal life in heaven with you and receive your living spirit in the place of the dead spirit I was born with.
I know I have never done nor will I ever do anything that could make me worthy of this free gift of salvation that includes forgiveness from the penalty of sin and Christ indwelling me. I gratefully accept your offer of forgiveness for my sins and the miracle of my new birth that makes me your child and gives me your righteousness and eternal life with you in heaven.
Help me to understand more fully what I ask for and receive from You today. Guide me in my new life in You and your Holy Spirit in me. Teach me to go and grow in your likeness. Send to me my brothers and sisters in Christ that I may live in fellowship with them as
I live in relationship with you

Meditate on one section each day and pray for a deeper understanding of the commitment you make today

_____________________________________ Date______________

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Shack Annotated discussion guide, Ch 8

Our group finished Chapter 8 tonight. Thought some might like to see our discussion.

118 How do you know God is especially fond of you?
A Typically we look for some favorable circumstances to determine the depth of God’s love for us or lack of it. While any pleasant experience may provide some emotional comfort, it is not a good basis for determining the strength of God’s love for us. It is as fleeting as the emotion it brings forth. ONLY in His Word can we see the depth of His love and commitment to us. Creation, the cross and His Coming again says it all. The Spirit bears witness to our spirit that he loves us. No emotion, experience or evidence, pro or con, can trump the declarations of God’s love for us.
119 Who is God angry with? Does God get angry with believing children? Why do you think so?
A I personally would disagree that God becomes angry with his believing children, but it is not a big deal to me either if you disagree. God can be mad at you if you want. In this conversation Papa is including ALL children, some of whom will be consumed by her Loving Wrath. That part I see. My reason: God has no reason to be angry with believing children is because He is in total control, He is in me and I am in him (see above, Col 1:27-28, Romans 8, and Eph 3)and he does not hold, count or remember any of my sin against me. The sin issue was settled on the cross when Jesus was made to BE sin for us and broke it’s power over us in his resurrection.
Isa 1:18 Come now let us reason together, Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.
PS 51:7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
HEB 10:17 Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."
PS 103:12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. What things would you find much easier if you were just to accept what is?
What is included in “What is”?
A Everything that is unsettled, contradictory, incomplete etc about God revealed in the Word.
120 How can Papa say “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It is not my purpose to punish it, it is my joy to cure it”?
A The eternal plan was to recapture the original purpose in perfection. Jesus did that on the Cross. Papa is working it all out now. Originally man walked and talked with Jesus in the garden but independent thinking moved Adam and Eve to sin. Our problem today is NOT sin (which was taken care of on the cross) but independent self will. We have been saved from our sins, we need to be saved daily from our independent self and consciously live IN CHRIST and Christ IN US. If we concentrate on the relationship independent living that expresses itself in sin will not be an issue.
121 What captured Mack about the way Papa, Jesus and Sarayu communicated?
A The simplicity and beauty of their relationship, their oneness, their love for each other, how they lived in harmony.
Who is the leader in the trinity?
A Jesus said in John (above) the father was greater and he was the same as the father. This is one of the contradictions that is declared and never explained. It is part of the WHAT IS above. Where we are used to seeing hierarchy, the trinity only knows unity. Jesus is submissive to the Father, but not in the way we understand submissiveness. There is no disagreement here. If you try to figure this out perfectly you’re going to get a migraine and or ulcer! Young’s purpose here is to help us to see the relationship that we are invited to partake in, not to understand the incomprehensible. This section really challenges us to consider how we relate to each other in our institutional churches. Jake Coleman’s So You Don’t Want to go to Church Any More takes a serious look at the inherent flaws in the typical institutional church. He does not call for the overthrow of the institution, but the renewal of working and living in relationship in the body church, not the building church. He is calling for the institution to promote relationship, not sacrifice relationship for the institution.
Unfortunately some people may take an extreme view of this general subject and decide that institutions and hierarchy are not a part of God’s plan for people. Clearly this is not the message intended here. God does have a hierarchy in the home, church, business and government. Of course there are going to be abuses in a fallen world, but the plan and commands in respect to authority is still in scripture. The issue is not leadership but relationship.
122 What is the difference between a circle of relationship and a chain of command.
A There is perfect unity, agreement and oneness in the circle of relationship that exists ONLY in the trinity. Because of sin, that probably can not and so far has not existed among any circle of believers. Our fallen nature makes it impossible for us to live without some sort of hierarchy and command structure. Each of us are too selfish and independent to live in that kind of harmony. It hinders us from joining in true relationship but there is NO REASON WE SHOULD NOT TRY. Obviously there would have to be some basic agreement on the plan or submission would be tantamount to becoming someone’s slave. Ideally, a body of believers could, should and will adopt a new ideal and head in this direction. Sadly, until we are perfected we will fall short. Better to fall short trying. To the degree we succeed in community, we will experience a little heaven on earth. A good place to start:
PHP 2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

PHP 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:…..

Why would the trinity NOT need or desire an authority based structure?
A They are one, united, equal, indivisible, unique, infinite, perfect, complete, finished. They have no need to grow in any sense.
Why is it hard for humans to reach true relationships?
A Independent spirit always looking out for self first. Unworthy, unwilling, untrusting.
Does a hierarchy have to act like a circle of relationship?
A NO and realistically as much as possible, yes. I am the pastor of a small church made up largely of interrelated families. I am the unchallenged leader by all standards. I would love to live in unity with all but I do not know how to stop babies from acting like babies. NO way will I let the toddlers decide what they are going to do in the nursery. They need protection and love. If I just let them run they would play in the parking lot and eat all the cookies. A very strong hierarchy must exist for their protection. Similarly, I cannot just encourage every young Christian to do whatever they want when they want. Some structure must exist and God has placed me there to lead. My goal is simple: Unity and maturity according to Eph 3:14ff. I know I will die without reaching it completely, but maybe I can set the stage for the next generation to come closer to the “wonder of relationship we intended”. Right now if I killed off every aspect of institutionalism, the patient would die also. It is the best I can do today.
123 How have we confused “adaptation for intention or seduction for reality”?
A Because of our stubborn independence we have had to adapt to a hierarchy over relationship, but that was not the original purpose in the garden. Reality of life exists in relationship with people, not power over them. Note here that Papa tried to get Mack to go easy on the greens making him pull twice. She warned him he was eating too much and told him she was looking out for him, but let him eat all the same. Why? Papa already has a solution at hand. Sarayu gives him the herbs to settle his stomach later, but he still got sick to his stomach first.
Is it always dangerous to choose independence over relationship? Are there any exceptions?
A To the degree that we choose independence (read I want it my way) over relationship in any human, be it church, work or marriage, there is danger. Independence produces power struggles, each side looking for some advantage, neither side willing to give in for fear of the loss of control. The golden rule of the street kicks in here. “He who has the gold makes the rules!” Proverbs is full of wisdom of who to stay away from. In relationship living the other golden rule applies; Do unto others.
How does God work within our systems while trying to free us from them?
A As we learn to live loved in relationship with God and each other we will discover that God works in, around, through or without the institution and approaches the individual and offers a new way of living in relationship with Himself that is void of institutional trappings, rules, expectations, performance, demands and any laws that do not fulfill the first and great command to Love God and each other.
What systems do you need to be freed from?
124 Why was man made in the first place?
A To live in relationship with Him and each other.
Are you yielding to the matrix?
A PHP 2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. PHP 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
PHP 2:6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
PHP 2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. PHP 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross! PHP 2:9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, PHP 2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, PHP 2:11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
What would life be like “unencumbered by structure and simply free to be in relationship with God and one another”?
A Heaven
What kind of hierarchy will there be in heaven for eternity? What could that imply?
A Assuming there is not a hierarchy as we would understand here on earth, we would live in the circle of love and relationship with God, sharing all that he is. If that is correct, to some degree we can begin that kind of living now by consciously refusing independence and choosing relationship with God and others.
In your life has “everything that has taken place …occurred…exactly according to this purpose, without violating choice or will”?
125 Why does God not stop evil?
A He will not over rule free choice in general and the evil that effects any individual can only be understood in the context of his life and eternity. We cannot understand all that God knows and sees now. People living under the illusion of the God of their imagination instead of the God of revelation will turn against their God for failing to protect them from harm. They confuse WHICH God they are angry with, often blaming the God of revelation for something He did not desire or cause. They become hardened against God in general insisting on their own independence and power. The alternative is to recognize the difference between the self inclined God and embrace the scripture defined God who promises to work it all together according to his purpose. The God of Scripture is not a liar. He wins every case in court.

If God does not stop evil, does that make him complicit in the evil? Explain
A To make God complicit because he does not use the totality of his power to control all evil is comparable to making the US Army complicit in terror attacks. One well placed nuke would stop all terrorist activities in Bagdad. Build a wall all around some cities and don’t let anyone in or out. Restrict all movement with the threat of death to violators. That would defeat the entire purpose of trying to set them free. The goal for both is freedom, not annihilation.
Can any choice I make cause God to have to alter his plan or purpose? Why do you think so?
A He already took it into account. A fun mental exercise is to consider that because God is the ultimate source of everything of any description and is timeless, he never planned anything or thought anything as a man would think. He simply is I AM It leads to the conclusion that he is large and in charge and can be trusted with every detail, big or small. RO 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.
Does God literally use every choice we make for the ultimate good and the most loving outcome?
Why doesn’t it always feel like that?
A We have limited vision and understanding of our fractal. We also fail to see God is bigger than our sin or problems. Our view of God will also cloud our feelings. We fail to believe that God really does love us completely and totally.
126 What were the lies that Mack had bought into that caused him to say that the ends justified the means?
A That God uses or is in some way associated with evil. God is not totally good or trustworthy. A self centered view of the universe. Mack is feeling insignificant, like he does not really matter when the truth is that he is the highest of God’s creation.
Is there a sense in which you share Mack’s underlying flaw?
If you are worried or anxious about something, is that an indication that you share Mack’s ailment? Why or why not?
What is trust? How is it achieved?
A Trust is the “fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved” It is achieved by growing in the relationship one step at a time. It is not about performance, rule keeping, standards or any institutional set of values. It is walking and talking together, sharing and listening. It is truly believing that God is love and has your very best interests at heart.
How did Papa say he would help Mack learn and change? Would that same thing work for you in your life?
What did Papa mean when he said it was not performance?
A Nothing we do can make Him love us any more or less. We must believe God truly loves us.
127 What did Papa mean when He said, “we’re not justifying it, we are redeeming it”?
A Mack was trying to make sense of his daughters murder and did not feel any good result could justify his loss. God was doing much more than justifying it, he is redeeming it by breaking the power of evil. Mack is only seeing this from his personal perspective not the totality of what God is doing both now and in eternity. Consider the greatest sacrifice, Jesus. God made that work for the good of all mankind even though the disciples and Mary could not see it or understand it.

Just for the Guys

Darin 3x3
Daniel 3x3

Brandon's pig

Josh's 4x5
Congratulations guys on a successful hunting season. Thanks for donating most of the meat to our Spanish Church. There actually were 3 more pigs and a couple more deer taken. Now is it on to winter stripers or Mud Marlin's in San Pedro or even a quick Rocky Point run for Halibut...after Dustin's wedding of course!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sin Rains?

Jim and Tori at Christmas

I know it is said to bring bad luck to open an umbrella in a building but I opened one on Sunday morning. I was already sick, Dee and Tori had been to the hospital already and there was a plethora of other problems around so I figured it couldn't do all that much more damage. I did it to make the point that sin does rain / reign on the earth an the object is not to avoid the rain, but stay under the umbrella Jesus is holding for you. Since Jesus became sin on the cross and broke sins power over us through his resurrection, Sin has no hold on us...really. The real culprit is independent living or more poetically, leaving the protection of the umbrella. If you pay attention to staying under the umbrella, the rest takes care of itself.

There is more to say here but Tanner and Ty just arrived. Jim is on his way to the hospital to pick up Doni and Tori. Thanks for praying.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Doni and Tori

Please pray for Doni's continued health and Tori's recovery. Tori is in a hospital across town with RSV and will be there for up to 2 weeks. Doni will NOT leave her side and is not getting any sleep herself. (She never left Ty for months). She is in an excellent hospital with a very attentive staff but no on can give the care Doni will. Jimmy is home sick with the two boys who appear to be getting sick. Deanna was in the ER this week and is still not on top of it and I am of little use to help much do to a week long cold (likely walking Pneumonia) myself. The picture was taken on a better day a Disneyland. This is pretty much what they are doing in the Hospital now. Thanks for your prayers.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Culprets

Bro in Law Dustin and Jarrood, the Godfather

Husband David
Remember the frog story from a few days ago. These three are the responsible parties! They can explain their appearance.

Pray for Alyssa

Alyssa is the adorable little one on the right side of this picture. To know her is to love her and she needs your prayers right now. Somehow she fell on a pair of scissors and drove them through her lower lip and into her gums where it stuck. SuperMom Belinda (who is sick herself today) got them out and is taking her to the hospital as I write this. Earlier in the week her little brother was in the ER with abdominal problems that turned out to be a virus. Belinda insists the devil is after her goat...and he can't have it. Thanks for your prayers.

UPDATE: Alyssa and mom are both insisting they are doing fine now. The wound was treated with glue, no jaw damage but they are doing a CT scan because she hit the table hard enough that she does not remember what happened. Thank youFather for your care.

Deanna and I both listened to my lungs "sing" when I exhaled last night but I feel better. Given the choice, walking pneumonia (if that's what it is) seems better than a head cold anyway. I have no idea if I was on tune or not becasue I did not recognize the song. Anyway I am feeling some better. I was awakended early this AM by a "problem" phone call and the caller asked me what my plan was for resolution. Actually, like most things a plan would be no more than a guess at this point becasue it is out of my hands. I started to get anxious about it and think about making a plan, since that's what I am expcted to do. The familiar anxious feelings began to creep in and we all know where that goes so I decided, NO, I am not going to make up a plan. Father will have to do whatever he decides is best. Doesen't He say to cast all my cares on him and He will supply all my needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus and to be anxious for NOTHING? I turned to my normal reading and Andrew Murray's devotional for this AM was titled: "Am I Looking To God?" So I guess that is the word for today.

Would you remember Dee's mom Lorine in prayer. She is having oral surgery today and it did not sound all that pleasant. It is obvious where Deanna gets her beautiful hair from, isn't it?
UPDATE: Mom is home from the surgery and appears to be doing well. Dee and Beck are staying with her tonight just for precaution. Thanks foy your prayers.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I've been sick for the better part of a week and admitedly I am not quite on top of things. I feel kind of like the picture, scrambled and disorganized. Seems like nothing is working right for me right now. Deanna says I am grouchy, but she has her own health problems that top mine. She was in the ER this week with wierd back and leg pains and some heart questions so quite possibly it is only her perception not my actions, then again possibly not. It seems like a zillion issues are hitting all at once with no clear answers or direction. There is not one thing I can do to change anything on any front, thus I am bumfuzzled and a little medicated. I know you know how I am feeling becasue no doubt you have been there too. I am pondering all this in relationship to Living Loved in a relationship with God. In times past I would (pick one) get angry with God, pray, plead, offer a sacrifice of praise, complain or ! ? I have been really concentrating on how much God loves me and that it is not about my preformance. I think Dee would prefer I work harder on my performance, which I am...but not totally successfully. I am working hard not to fight what I cannot change and to go with whatever is happening knowing that God does love me and we are walking in a relationship. I am not really very good at this yet, but being sure of His love is helping me. I'll let you know how it turns out when I'm off the meds and can think straight...assuming I ever could. (it may just be the meds but I almost put in the wrong picture. I called up 319 instead of 391. 319 is a picture of Dee in labor! PTL for prepublication views!)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Aimee's first Pig

My nephew Jarrood revealed a previously hidden secret on his blog the other day. It is really funny...if it is not your house...Essentially the boys, including Aimee's husband David, caught a desert toad and put it in a jar with a scorpion. For some inexplicable reason the put a firecracker in the jar and parts of the Toad ended up on Aimee. It is actually worse than that, but that is the gist of it. The real miracle is that Aimee let any of them live! As you can see above, she can handle herself in any situation. Today she got her first javalina while hunting alone north of town. She got a deer a while back while alone in the same area. The animal is on its way here now to be butchered by of my odd hobbies. The meat will be delivered to fa miles in our Spanish Church who actually like it. I have cooked it and must admit that it is good meat, but I can't get to excited about it. Congratulations Aimee, you're the WOMAN!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

God-like or Godly?

As a child growing up I always thought of my grandfather as a godly man. He brought thousands to Christ during his jail and hospital ministry years. Books were written about him and his Soul Winner's Guide booklet has over 1.5 million copies in print in English plus a dozen other languages. He put the bar pretty high for his family to follow. For a moment this week I thought I might be getting a little closer. I was sitting in my some what cluttered office this week studying for next weeks sermon and Deanna entered my semi-private domain to announce that in her opinion I was "God-like". That sounded pretty good to the Reverend, Dr. Zimmermann....until she added "The Bible says the heavens can't contain God and this house can't contain you!" I'm thinking she had a point in there somewhere but I don't want to think about it right now. It did remind me of a familiar problem we all face. We all tend to want to be God like instead of Godly. You know, demanding worship, Self reliant, always right, etc. We all take on the prerogatives of God without the wisdom or power that is necessary to be God. I guess I should work on the godly part more often and the godlike less often. How you doing at the godly/godlike comparison?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

If you have spent any time near Jody and Ryker it is pretty easy to tell that Ryker is totally in love with mommy and vice versa. Actaully the same could be said of Doni and Tori, Brooke and Braxton and Aimee and Zane, but I don't have the pics. Babies just love and trust mom. I wish I was more like a baby sometimes. I don't understand me very well. With all I know and have seen I would think that I would have a near perfect love and trust for God right now. God has done so much to PROVE His love and care. For example Deanna and I both take the same BP meds but they are getting really expensive. We have been going to Mexico to get them cheaper but have not had an opportunity lately and we were almost out of meds. I decided I would just let God supply the meds or not take them. I know it sounds really dumb but it seemed reasonable at the time. Anyway when we had pills left for a couple days, Father delivered enough pills to last a lot longer. These pills were the same script but twice the dosage. We just figured we would cut them in half. Funny how God supplies. Deanna saw a new Dr today doing follow up on her kidney cancer from 04. He noticed her BP was a little higher than he liked and doubled her prescription to EXACTLY what God supplied a few days ago. His nurse gave us a sample bottle that was what we were already given. I thought I was going to cut them in half. God knew what the new prescription would be. Is that amazing or what? While sitting in the doctors office I was reading Wayne Jacobsen's (Contributor to and publisher of The Shack)HE LOVES ME. I need tothis to burn into my soul: pg 93

But fear isn't in God's nature. He fears nothing. Thus his own holiness is not produced by his fear, but by his love. In face, fear cannot produce the holiness God wants to share with us. It is incapable of doing so. for God to transform us to be like him, he must expel our fear and teach us the wonder of living in his love.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Green Fish

These surrendered!See why I don't want to try to handle a green fish?


Much of this year I have been sifting through my memory and library to try to discover what went wrong. It seems to me that there are a lot of people who claim to be believers but do not act like a believer in any discernable way. I have come to the partial conclusion that they may have been too “GREEN” when they came to making a proclamation of faith. In our rush to keep them out of hell we may have inadvertently slowed their maturity. Let me illustrate it briefly:
Several years ago my friend and colleague, Dr Steve Stanley moved to Oregon to teach and pastor. He introduced me to Lon, one of the most believable men of God I have ever met. I love his servant’s heart and his country boy ways. On one trip Lon was teaching me Steelhead fishing in the Wilson River near the Oregon coast. They say Steelhead fishing is the hardest type of fishing to learn because the Steelhead are not feeding and very leery of everything. Some studies says that up to 90% of the bites are so light they go undetected by the angler. This necessitates fishing for them with very light tackle…given the size of the fish and the water current. 6lb test line is about as heavy as you dare use, but a good steelhead will top double that. Add the current, rocks and debris and the odds are greatly in the fishes favor…if you manage to trick one into biting. Seeing the problem I wanted to bring a huge net but they don’t do it that way in Oregon…at least Lon doesn’t. Lon told me that when I caught a fish, play it until it went belly-up and then just pick it up. After hundreds of casts I managed to hook a fish. Getting it to shore was not a big problem but every time I tried to land it, it would just strip off the line from my reel. Finally it got away. It was too GREEN…in fisherman’s terms. The next fish I hooked I let run as many times as it wanted to run, not trying to muscle it to the shore. When the fish tired it did a really odd thing. It floated on it’s back, belly up! It was easy to land and because it was a native, release. The point Lon wanted me to learn was to let the fish struggle until there was no struggle left, then it would willingly yield itself to the angler. Sure a huge net would shorten the process but it would also injure the fish to be released. I leared my lesson and used it well as shown on my cell phone pictures of my last Chum Salmon trip (above).

This is where I think we go wrong in our efforts to “land” a person for Christ. We hook them with the offer of forgiveness for sins and eternal life but land them in a net before the Holy Spirit has had time to play all the self life out of them. They enter their life in Christ full of fight and independent living instead of having let self play out. I wonder if we get so anxious to get them into the boat that we forget what the Holy Spirit is trying to do, which is save them from their sins and from themselves. How could we do it better?

Above is a year old picture of my part of relationships. I place it here becasue it is reminder to me of how important relationships are. In my 40 years of ministry I have often been troubled with the state of Christianity in general and the Church in particular. I have wondered if there were not something missing, something we should have a better grasp on than we do. One area of weakness seems to me to be in our offer of salvation. I watched a YouTube video of the magician Penn, (of Penn and Teller) tell of a man who came to a show to give him a Bible. He claims to be an athiest but admits that if anyone truly thought there was a litteral hell, that person should do everything he could to keep anyone from going there. While hell is real and avoiding it is important, avoiding it is NOT the reason God created us. The reason is seen clearly in THE SHACK by Paul Youngs. Along about page 102 God explains to Mack that unless He, as a trinity, lived in love and relationship, He could not offer it to anyone else. Consider deeply for a moment the reality that in essence the universe has only two componets: God and NOT God or the Creator and the Created. God exists in what we call the trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A 100% understanding and explaination of this is beyond me but here is what I do understand. At the very core of the nature of God exists a relationship among the trinity. Somehow in their agreement and united counsel they decided to create man in their own image in order to include man in their relationship. Salvation is NOT just and offer to avoid hell, it is an offer to here and now enter into that eternal relationship with God. It is an offer to live knowing you are loved completely and eternally. Our problems are not that we sin but that we reject the offer of living in relationship with Them, choosing instead to live independently. The Good News is not just that we can avoid hell, but that we can litterally live in a relationship of Love with the Creator. Is that the way you always thought about it?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cloud Nine

One of the things I love most about where I have lived most of my life is the view of the clouds. The first picture is the view from our first houe in Apple Valley, California 35 years ago. I grew up looking at the other side of that mountain. The second two pictures are take from my current back yard in Phoenix, Arizona. To me, clouds are an endless display of God's handiwork and a reminder of what he has done and that he is still at work. I have no idea what it means to be on Cloud Nine other than it is always a good thing. I am not even sure who is in charge of numbering them in the first place, but I enjoy them all the same. Clouds play a prominent place in scripture. It was a cloud that guided the Children of Israel by day and shielded them from the hot sun. It was a cloud that told Elijah of the coming rain. It was a cloud that shielded the Tabernacle's Glory from the peering eyes of the Israelites. And my favorite of all, Jesus will come back to the clouds for His bride, the beleivers of earth. I wonder if there is a link to a camera overlooking Jerusalem. Jesus could come at any time, but it seems like it will be on a cloudy day!

Father Knows Best

Pastor Sam & Nedia
Fixing Fiesta Food

Have you ever wondered "what is God doing?" Almost 30 years ago I realized the church where I was pasturing was in the “wrong” place. Phoenix was advancing north and our church would (and is now) become the geographical center of Phoenix. My first ministry was 4 freeway exits from downtown LA. I grew up there in the 50’s when it was the suburbs. The handwriting was plainly on the wall. All the other churches in our area were pulling out and since we were tucked into the middle of a neighborhood, we should make plans to pull out too. I surveyed the area and found the perfect piece of property, maybe 2 miles from our weekly home bible study called Country Fellowship. It was on the back side of nowhere. Miles of orange groves separated it from any developments. There was a corner lot on a main intersection , 13 acres for $110K. Dirt Cheap for Phoenix. As I tentatively planned and prayed, a good friend, David Morgan introduced me to Fermin Whittier of the Southern Baptist Mission Board. Fermin had tons of experience in this sort of thing and could be quite helpful. I told him of my ideas of moving the church but his response was totally deflating. As I recall he said “you realize that is white flight, don’t you?” He knew I had not even thought of it. But he was right. What I believed I knew was coming was a Mexican barrio, the signs were all there. That is what had happened in LA. My home area of the 50’s was a barrio in the early 70’s (and is an Asian community today!) My intention was not to avoid the Spanish speaking population, just shepherd the English speaking one I had. Fermin went on to ask what happens if every church in your area does that? Who will be left to minister in that community? His words haunted me for weeks as God unveiled a new dream. It was clear to me I should forget moving, minister to the people God would send, and prepare for a Spanish speaking ministry. Perhaps the Ministries would run side by side, perhaps the area would turn into a full blown barrio and we would give the church property to our Spanish speaking brothers. That part was never clear and still is not. What was clear was we were to stay put for as long as it took. I met with the pastors of the other inner city churches and asked what they thought could and should be done for an inner city ministry. None of those men had been around long enough to know but were as helpful as they could be. Over the years we tried several cross-cultural plants that failed. Two Spanish speaking plants and one Romanian.

About two years ago we made our forth attempt at establishing a Spanish speaking church. Pastor Sam and his wife Nedia felt the burden to start a Spanish speaking ministry in our area. They are two of God’s most gracious servants I have ever met. I inquired where they had been for the last 30 years! They were busy getting saved came the response. This past summer 106 of us spent the weekend in the mountains together camping. 44 Spanish and 62 of us. The children got along fantastic, the Spanish speakers went with their strong point, they fed us, and fed us. Boy, do they know how to camp cook! While trying to finish a steak big enough for a family I overheard Nedia tell to another Spanish woman, “he’s been wait ing for us for 30 years”. I guess I don’t need to tell you how I felt about that.

I can’t begin to tell you of the hills and valleys of the last 30 years, wondering, waiting, wishing and yes whining. I still don’t know how the story will end, there are too many chapters left to be written. This I do know. All those other churches and pastors I talked to back then are gone. The churches were sold, the pastors moved on. The property I picked how houses CCV, the largest church in the valley. They bought not only the 11 acres but a couple hundred more besides. I am elated for them. They are in the center of one of best areas in north Phoenix. I knew it all along, it was just not where I belong. The body of believers I celebrate with and lead is working on a relational model of fellowship and discipleship that operates a little differently than a traditional church. We laid the ground work for it years before I read any of Wayne Jacobsen's works or the Shack. Our mission is to set people to live life loved and free in Jesus. It is a lot more basic and I believe where Father wants us to go. One other thing I do know. I know I am glad I stayed around for 30years to see what Father was doing. I feel it most when I pray with Sam and Nedia. They pray in Spanish and it is music to me. In some ways I feel like I traded 11 acres of prime property for the relationships I have with these people. I definitely got the best end of the deal. It’s true, Father knows best.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Prayer Warrior's Guide

In the early 90's I wrote a companion guide to my Grandfather's Soul Winner's Guide called THE PRAYER WARRIORS GUIDE. God has used it to bless thousands of people around the world who have ordered it online from or have urchased it from a Christian Bookstore. There are 40 titles in it which I will post at a later date. The scan above is an experiment to see if it will work.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandpa

Today is my Grandfather, Max Zimmermann's Birthday. If my math and memory is correct he was born in 1893 in Vienna, Austria and immigrated to California just prior to WWI. I remembered this while visiting with him by sitting in the attic just going through his old Diary. I found where my father was hospitalized the first time for what turned out to be a serious heart problem that retired him from work at age 37. There is a treasure of family history here that I would like to share. I have them from the early forties to the mid 70's. The scan above is from his 1943 diary, If you click on the picture you will be able to read it clearly and see that it was his birthday. He taped in a note from his daughter Elsie. The birthday note says: May you keep your youth in thenext fifty years as well as yu have kept it in the past fifty. Of course you must admit that wehhave done a good deal in keeping you active--we've really kept you st(???) They say its a great life if you don't weaken, and it seems as though you haven't. Thanks from us...oh yeah. . She would have been in her mid teens at the time. My mother loved that great life line too, she used it a lot. She dropped by the attic for a minuite too, They didn't say, but I know they are all doing fine, probably involved in some last minuite preperations for an inaguration. It is interesting to see how he celebrated his 50th birthday. He sat at his desk, (pictured above), studied, sent out mail, went to the county jail in LA and led Kyth Gemmill to the Lord and then to the county hospital to visit the wounded soldiers. He handed out three stacks of Gideon NT's and gospels. The next day he went back to the jail to take discipleship material to Mr. Gemmill and to the TB ward in the hospital. I don't know if they celebrate birthday's in heaven, but I held my own celebration in the attic. Wish you could have been there, it was heavenly!

Note to the family: I do not consider any of Grandpa's papers or diaries to be my personal possession. I am just the keeper.I would be happy to give any of them to anyone who wanted them or look up any date and scan the days journal for you. All the births, marriages, etc are there. I do not have 100% of them but will share what I have. Don't be hesitent t ask, I love the visits and I'd love to take you with me.

The Fruit of Life

A couple of years ago Deanna and I took our trip of a lifetime. We drove to the East coast in mid October to see the sights and colors of fall. It was a warm fall and the colors had not really changed yet so we altered our route out of Chicago and headed to upstate New York. The colors were spectacular! Everything was new to us but one really big surprise was in the grape vineyards surrounding Lake Erie. The grapes announced their presence long before we knew they were there. The grape harvesters were actively picking the huge clusters of purple grapes, hidden by huge leaves from vines that were taller than me. The vineyards went on for miles and miles. Somewhere along the way we parked the car and walked among the grapes to the Cliff's edge that overlooked Lake Erie. The aroma was hypnotic. For a moment time was suspended and we were transported back to our childhood days. The moist lake air was heavy with the aroma of what smelled like to us, the grape soda pops we were so fond of as children. Personally, I was transported back to a church camp in the mountains of California where my mother volunteered as a cook. In my grape induced memory I was standing in front of a vending machine that offered bottled grape soda. It was like I was there yesterday, not 50 years ago. I can still see it today...and my mom who I have not seen in nearly 25 years. Those vines proudly declared exactly what they were to anyone who came remotely close. They are permanently and pleasantly em pressed in my memory. It must have been a similar day when Jesus told his disciples that he was the vine and they were the branches and that they should bear much fruit. The fruit is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Love, Joy, Peace, Long suffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Patience and Self Control. When people come near an authentic disciple of Christ, they should experience the aroma of the fruit. The air should be heavy with it. Your life is a vineyard too. What fruit would others say you are producing?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

In German it is KNODEL

I noticed on several family blogs pictures and the mention of our strange Christmas dinner. Cousin Ray said it was handed down by oral tradition and I feel a little guilty becasue I have the original instructions from my grandmothers hand. They are sparse but adaquate. I also have her notes telling how many she made and what she would do differently the next year. One other thing, we all seem to call it something different. Grandma called it Tomatoe Knodel (with " over the o, but I don't know how to get my computer to do that.

Go for the Glory

Why do people go on rides in the dead of winter knowing they are likely to get soaked? Why do people raise their hands while riding a rollercoaster that is going upside down? Karsyn did on the Tower of Terror, (I was holding on to tight to take a picture) because she was encouraged to by her hero/daddy and other adults. Zandi did (above) where it seemed more reasonable. The answer may be somewhere between bravery and stupidity, but I can't help but think it is more to do with personal glory. We are often encouraged to "Go for the Glory", but what exactly does that mean? Is it a destination, a price, a place, a state of mind? If you ever got it, how would you know? Would others know or even really care? Do you get to keep it or does it require a renewable subscription? Is it real or imaginary? Personally, I am thinking we don't really understand this glory thing at all. The apostle Peter thought and taught we should go for the glory:

1PE 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

We should be going for the Glory, but probably not on a rollercoaster. Glory is on the basis of faith, not flesh, it happens in the heart, not with hands. The real glory is revealed in heaven for eternity, , not here on earth for 15 minuets. It is not so much what a person does, but what he believes, accepts, puts his confidence in . It is living in relationship, loved by the Father, led by the Spirit for the Glory of the Son. On second though maybe we should be going for the Glory in everything we do. Did I read that somewhere?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Waiting for the Party to start.

The Zimmermann and Everett clans have always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. When Dee and I were first married we had a feast and a celebration with my the Zimmermann clan in LA at around 6pm and then another one about 100 miles away around midnight in Apple Valley with Dee’s family. They always celebrated late since Dee’s father had to work until near midnight at the theater on Christmas eve. It did get harder as the kids came along but it was worth it to be with the family. That pattern continued as long as my grandparents were alive. Now we are the grandparents with even more family and scheduling is a challenge. We totally accept the fact that we are not the center of the universe and that our children should celebrate with their other grandparents too. Daniel and Brooke have a similar situation (minus the 100 mile drive) with Brooke’s grandparents. They went to an early evening celebration and expected to join us between 7:30 and 8 pm. Since our German heritage dinner arrangements are so foreign to anyone not raised with it, Brooke opted to eat with her family,(a choice I suspicion Jodi and Aimee secretly wish they had). (As pictured above it is basically a rice meatball wrapped in cabbage and or sauerkraut. There is a family story for why we celebrate with this, but that will have to be for another time)About 7:30 we were getting anxious for them to come to start the party but we knew it would likely be closer to 8PM given the drive and all. So we waited, not wanting to start without them. Do you know how long 5 minutes is when you are waiting anxiously? Mind you we did not want to cut their time short with their grandparents who love them as much as we do, we were just excited to get started. They did arrive as expected before 8 and we had a wonderful time. I must admit a perverse pleasure watching young mom’s see a volume of new toys appear and try to figure out where they are going to put them all. The picture above does not begin to capture what must have been close to 50 presents for the 10 grandkids. My mom delighted in doing that to us. It’s a grandparent thing. The excitement of Christmas is over but I find myself still waiting expectantly and eagerly. I am reminded of Jesus’ promise in John 14: 1Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. So why is He taking so long? Tim La Hay answers that for me:

"In his first letter to Timothy, Paul tells us that God “wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (
1 Timothy 2:4). Peter gives that same message in his letter. “The Lord … is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9). Time and again in Scripture we are told that God longs for his people to be with him in heaven. The Bible is not a story of wrath and judgment but of unconditional love and redemption. God longs to be with us and wants desperately for us to accept his hand of salvation. What we do with that offer is up to us." (from Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins, Frank Martin: Embracing Eternity: Living each Day with a Heart Toward Heaven.)