The Encontré DNA Ministry

The Encontré DNA  Ministry – Finding lost migrant children today. This new work would provide hope for migrant children to be reunited with their families. What is needed are faith groups to work with DNA testing companies and the US Government to make resources, testing and databases online.

jesus as shepherd art

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” – Luke 15

Pregnancy Care Centers of Chandler & Gilbert, Arizona

Interview with Mary BAxter, Executive director

In light of the late term abortion issue in New York, I went in search of the best resource to help with an unplanned pregnancy. Christians Need to Know interviewed Mary Baxter, Executive Director of Pregnancy Care Centers of Chandler and Gilbert. Easy to talk theory, but PCC is a present help –

As a senior pastor of three churches and executive pastor of a fourth, I’ve learned … pastors are not good at everything! When the phone rings and a church member wants to talk with you about an unplanned pregnancy, this is not the time to give advice but a referral to those who can help. I wince as I think back to those Sundays we failed on sensitivity to women’s issues. On some Mother’s Days, we would present roses to the oldest mother (please stand up!), the mother with the most children, the youngest mother? What about the mother with the unplanned pregnancy? The miscarriage?

The Pregnancy Care Centers of Chandler and Gilbert, Arizona, provides a gentle “Rose of Sharon” ministry” to women who need a present help in a time of unplanned pregnancy. You are not alone! – Pastor Jim

The Rose of Sharon

“Walk Together Economics”

Step One: Design a replacement for the failed 401(k) Plan. 

Professor Daniel Hemel, University of Chicago Law School, presents a viable option –

Professor Hemel’s retirement plan, as published by ThinkAdvisor, borrows the same model used by members of congress and other Federal employees: “A public option in the form of the Thrift Savings Plan, currently offered to members of Congress and other federal employees. Its fees total only 3 basis points per year.”


Step Two: Give all employees shares in the corporation with profit sharing. Instead of “Trickle Down,” … develop “Walk Together” economics!

One example of a corporation’s “Walk Together Economy” is Costco, as the Seattle Times wrote, “Costco employees, 90 percent of whom are paid hourly, make on average about $22.50 an hour, Galanti said. Both full- and part-time employees have access to medical, dental, and vision insurance at a cost of more than $10,000 a year, 90 percent of which the company pays.”

Step Three: A “One Time Student Loan Amnesty” … to end the silent national emergency crippling our young people.

Step Four: Globalize prescription drug sales, creating a fair market, allowing patients to fill prescriptions online.

Is this not fundamental to Adam Smith’s economic theory? One full-time RV’er described her experience in Mexico –

Step Five: Allow taxpayers to write off medical tourism to seek medical treatment in another country.

As shared by CBS below –

step 6: beyond the wall- create a north american INTER-OCEANIC Trade and Security Corridor


After politicians will solve the immediate US Border security issues, what’s next? Beyond “The Wall” the U.S. needs a safety corridor, that strengthens the economy of the U.S., Guatemala and Mexico by creating an improved inland version of the Panama Canal, turning the three countries into “super trade partners” on the world’s stage. The U.S. could build in “The Corridor” a Customs and Immigration “Super Port of Entry,” which would take the pressure off of the Southern Border and provide managed immigration from Central America. Mexico, after all, is the U.S.’s third largest trading partner. This is what China and Russia fear, hoping we would wall ourselves off from the world’s economy and go bankrupt. http://www.ipsnews.net/…/guatemala-future-interoceanic-cor…/

The U.S. could tap “Summit,” the world’s fastest computer at Oak Ridge National Lab, to develop the vast economic model for the “nation building” project.  https://www.energy.gov/articles/summit-supercomputer-ranked-fastest-computer-world

Summit Supercomputer from https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/5-ways-world-s-fastest-supercomputer-could-change-world-ncna883766

Could Russia be involved beyond election meddling and actively attempting to destabilize Mexico’s relationship with the U.S.? https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/05/03/russia-playing-geopolitical-game-in-latin-america-pub-76228

You have just heard, for the first time, the principles of “Walk Together Economics.”

I am not a politician, just one voice in the desert crying, “Walk together!” Jesus spoke openly of economic issues of his day, while avoiding being claimed by any one political party. Jesus blessed the poor (Luke 6:20). He praised the poor widow who came and put in two small copper coins (Mark 12:41-44). He cleansed the lepers, the socioeconomic outcasts (Luke 17:11-19). A survey of the Gospels shows that the spirituality of Jesus manifested itself through “Kingdom Economics,” by which the poor become rich and the rich poo. The blind see while the sighted choose to “turn a blind eye.” Jesus’s Gospel calls spiritual communities to walk together in a transformative “Kingdom Economic.” In the name of “separation of church and state,” too many churches have defaulted on their call to engage the economy in the name of Christ. Meanwhile, other Christians have embraced empty politics, which produces no meaningful change toward the Kingdom Economy. Jesus never entertained the question, “Which is better -a Sadducee or a Pharisee?” Rather, He taught about what it meant to be a neighbor.

The song, “Walk Together Children,” by the Issacs, captures the spirit of this “Kingdom Economy” –

“the voice of one crying in the wilderness …”

“Dissent is the birthplace of dialogue.”

– Pastor Jim

“Prayer: Dare to be Honest with God!”

A ninety-something year old Mr. Sachs turned to me after a memorial service and said, “There are three stages in life … Youth … Middle Age and ‘You are really looking good!”

Turn to someone and say, “You are really looking good!”

One Friday in seminary, we attended what we thought was one of the more important classes on preaching. The professor always “looking good!” … wearing Countess Mara silk ties, with the embroidered CM. I was determined to own a Countess Mara tie! Which I did and pictured below!

On that particular Friday in seminary a fellow student asked a question that has haunted me to this day, “Do you know what day it is?” He waited as we stared blankly at him. He broke our silence like a trumpet with, “It’s Good Friday!” The day we remember the crucifixion of our Lord, Jesus Christ. As we were going through the motions , “looking good,” and learning about God’s work but empty of the life changing presence of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

In today’s Bible passage, Jesus did not teach his disciples about prayer. He taught them to pray … as part of being connected with God. This was in response to the disciple’s request:

Luke 11:1-4 (NKJV)
1  Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
2  So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
3  Give us day by day our daily bread.
4  And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”

It dawned on me that the purpose for the Lord  Jesus in giving us the Lord’s Prayer was to help us to feel comfortable with prayer. It’s not unusual for people to feel uncomfortable with prayer, especially in groups or prayer circles.

We have all been at one time or another at a family gathering, or at a Bible study. And the question comes up:  Who would like to lead us in prayer?  And immediately, eyes glaze over, stare at plates, heads turn the other way. What would I say.  We may think back to the day we mumbled and stumbled  our way through the last prayer. It’s easy to become discouraged in prayer, especially after a few faltering steps.

Likewise, the disciples said: “Lord, teach us to pray, like John taught his disciples.”

In other words:  “Lord, what we need is a model, a pattern, a guide. Why, once we have that we can build our own prayers.”

The first principle of prayer is so obvious … we have literally had to climb over it on all fours to get around it and not notice it.

GENUINE PRAYER – HONEST CONVERSATION WITH GOD

Here in Luke the greatest prayer of all time was written out –

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

Dr. G. Ernest Thomas was an experienced teacher of prayer to professional people.  Along the way he saw that many of them had never prayed aloud in group before, even though they might have spoken in public to large crowds. 

Dr. Thomas encouraged growth in prayer in two ways.  First, he always had prayer books available on his table.  He would tell persons if you don’t feel like making up a prayer on the spot, look through one of these books until you find a prayer that communicates what you want to say.  Then during your turn, read it to us.

That sounds interesting. Begin a prayer notebook and start collecting prayers.  Prayers in newspaper, prayers in church bulletin, prayers in devotional books, dinner prayers, healing prayers, morning prayers, evening prayers, all around prayers.  Prayers for pets.  Children’s prayers.

When you go to Cokesbury Christian books, ask for books on prayers.

Cut them out and paste them into your prayer scrap book.  If you find yourself going to a family reunion or a Bible study … you may share a prayer that can be a real meaningful event.

You might consider  yourself a prayer reporter. My late friend and saint, Rev. Dr. Larry Hinshaw carried around a reporter’s notebook. Whatever size you carry, let it be a holy book for you. One of John Wesley’s earliest devotional habits was “collecting prayers.”  You can call this stamp collecting.  Collecting God’s stamp of blessing in your life through prayer.

Wesley was right:  The best way to learn to pray is to examine the prayers of others.  We discover content of prayer … spirit of prayer … and the vocabulary of prayer.

Another idea is to clip a photograph or a print that is inspiring to you.  Meditate on the image until a prayer is formed in your heart.   I was cleaning off my desk one day when, I tried to throw out an extra copy of the Easter bulletin, showing the Lord Jesus coming out of the tomb, worshiped by angels.  The stone was knocked flat.  I tried to throw that bulletin away five times. Once I put the bulletin in the garbage … but then dug it out … and set it over the phone.  The image of our Savior shouted to me:  This is what it’s all about!   This is why I am in my office!  This is why we are Christians!  This is it!  He is risen!

I’m going to put that print in my prayer book!

Lyndon Johnson’s press secretary, Bill Moyers, was saying grace at a staff lunch, and the President shouted, “Speak up, Bill! I can’t hear a thing!” Moyers quietly replied, “I wasn’t addressing you, Mr. President.” It is good to remind ourselves that when we pray, we talk to God.

Below is an example of a blank lined and bound book which you can purchase to start your own prayer book.

A prayer journal is a way for you to take stock of where you are spiritually and do an honest accounting before God. When I was thirty-nine and in my third pastorate, my marriage fell apart. During the time of separation, I lived in an 18 foot trailer for several weeks while pastoring a United Methodist Church. In my trailer twenty-two years ago, I took stock of my life in an honest accounting before God. It was the most difficult time of my ministry. Since then God has restored my life with joy, a new work and ministry, a beautiful new wife and extended family and blessings I could not have imagined, but hoped for, twenty-two years ago.

Dare to be honest with God!

Life in “Desert Sands RV Park was a mix between a living at a military base and a rest stop. One day a new 4 x 4 pulling a Holiday Rambler set up with retirees pulling their house on wheels. The next day a homemade camper appeared. A boy pulled his sister, both age 10 or under, away from the only pay phone. “But, ” she sobbed, “she’s not my Mommy …” The boy said, “She is now ! …” as he tugged her arm, dragging her heels on the driveway toward their camper. I learned that the pay phone was the last connection some as they lived on the edge of their world. So, I left my church card at the phone. Ron and Karen F_ , members of my congregation, upon hearing my story and the problems of the park residents helped set up a “Park Angel” ministry to those who needed help. I learned Ron and Karen lived at Desert Sands themselves for 11 years. {Karen has since passed away. Ron remarried her sister and serves as Lay Leader of a church in Cottonwood, AZ.} I remember one person calling the church for assistance. Moments later I stepped out of my trailer, which sat across from the phone, and said, “Hello, I’m the pastor. You called for help?” I don’t think they every figured out the rapid response.

Overnight or Forever


The park printed on its entrance sign, “Desert Sands RV Park – Overnight or Forever.” You have a choice today to begin an honest conversation with God. This will make the difference between staying overnight in your addiction, conflicts and grief … or staying forever. Recovery begins with honesty – with yourself, others and with God. Perhaps today, you feel numb and shock from events in your life. Consider beginning a prayer journal and beginning with an honest accounting before God. This practice helps you grieve your loss while taking stock of what you have to work with. I promise you that you look back and see how God protected and guided you through your most difficult hours. Right now, you may really “Look Good” but inside you feel spiritually isolated, alone and empty. Remember, prayer begins with honest conversation with God.

Pastor Jim

In the next blog, I will share with you “Prayer Beads – an Essential Utensil in the Kitchen of Prayer”

“Come and See!” Your Fabulous New Year

A bed by the window!

There were once two men seriously ill in the same small room of a great hospital.  Just large enough for the pair of them, with two beds, two bedside dressers, and a door opening on the hall, and one window looked out into the world!

One of the men as part of treatment was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each day, for therapy to drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the window which he was able to look out, during an hour in the  afternoon.

But the other man spent all his time flat on his back.  Both of them had to be quiet and still, which is why they were in the small room.  And they were grateful for peace and privacy.  None of the bustle, and clatter, and prying eyes of other wards for them.  Of course because of their condition they could not do much — no reading, no radio, no television.  They just lay still.

So they talked together, hours and hours.  About wives, children, homes, jobs, hobbies, what they did during the war, etc.  Every day during the hours of the afternoon, the man who was propped up near the window passed the time by describing  what he could see outside!  The other man began to live for those hours!

The window apparently overlooked a scenic park with a lake, skirted with evergreens.  Ducks of every variety and swans drifted across to whatever children were throwing bread. The afternoon sun turned the lake into a mirror upon which paddle boats, lazily crisscrossed with lovers pressed  together.

And there were rows of flowers.  Games of softball … fast pitch and slow pitch.  People taking their ease on  checkered blankets, and picnic baskets swelled with chicken, cheese, and iced tea.  And above the trees there was a magnificent view of the city skyline.

The other man would listen to all of this, enjoying every minute.  The exciting ballgames.  A child playing alone with his puppy.  Then one day a child fell into the lake … barely saved by a heroic rescue!

The other man could almost see what was going on outside the window.  He began to think,  “ Why should he get to look out the  window, while I am stuck in this bed, to look at the ceiling?”

He tried not to think like that. He brooded, and sunk in thoughts and grew more seriously ill. “He should be by the window! The doctor did not understand it!”

One night, the man by the window awoke struggling! Fluid in his chest choking him.  He struggled to find the nurse’s button on his bedside.

The other man watched! . . . and DID NOTHING!!!

The coughing continued on and on.  But the man stared at the ceiling. Soon the coughing turned to a soft wheeze …  and then silence.

 The nurse came in the morning for their baths and found the other man dead.

 They removed the body quietly and, as soon as it seemed decent, the man asked if he could be moved next to the window!  They moved him, tucked in quiet and still.

As soon as alone, he laboriously propped himself up on one elbow to look out on the park . . .

THE WINDOW FACED . . . A BRICK WALL!!!!!!

In the story the man near the window – is the man who lives by faith with a pure heart.  He is able to see a better life through eyes of faith. He is able to look beyond the barriers and see HOPE! He gives hope and joy to others around him.

The other man – is one who lacks pure motives and eyes of faith.  He only envies the one who sees with faith!  He  secretly wishes the man of faith would fail!  So they both could be miserable as he!

John 1:35-39 (NKJV)
35  Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples.
36  And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”
37  The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
38  Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”
39  He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw …

Background:

I used this story, shared widely by clergy, in a sermon preached January 4, 1987 at Laveen Baptist Church, Arizona, where I was ordained in 1984.

My Ordination Council, a memorable day of examination in 1984 by these fine men. Time has faded a few names, but what I can remember:

Back Row (Left to right): Rev. R.G. Whitehead, area Missionary, Deacons Ralph Spotts, Dick DeShazo and Armon D Cheatham.

Front Row (Left to Right): First two were fellow clergy from the Association, Deacons Dan Cain (third in) and “Bud” Graham.” My former pastor and Chair of the Ordaining Council, Rev. Jim Harvey. On the end was a fellow pastor who served in Ajo, Arizona.

Because of the faith and vision of these men and women (not shown), the church was able to grow and become what God wanted it to be, building first a new parsonage, converting the old to an office, a new Sanctuary and further education space. Many people since have captured a new vision of Jesus Christ.

Looking back, vision takes more than just eyes of one person. Jesus called more than one disciple. “John stood with two of his disciples.” Andrew had vision and brought his brother, Simon Peter to Jesus. And that was the beginning of the story of the Apostles who followed Jesus.

What do you see for your New Year?!

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance

Ecclesiastes 3:4

This was me, looking very Baptist,  as the new pastor of Laveen Baptist Church, 1984.

Back in my office, which was separated from Ruth Ann’s, the Church Secretary, by the mimeograph room. A mimeograph was a noisy device that demanded the user wear rubber gloves as it flung chemicals and ink all over the room in the name of printing.  No mimeograph clattered as I sat in silence behind my desk.

There newly called to my first pastorate, I had the sensation of floating in a tiny boat on some vast sea, without a compass. I had no seminary professor to tell me what to say when the phone rang. I remember looking at the phone and thinking, “What if the phone rings? … How do I answer it? … What do I say? … What if it’s for something important? … What if someone dies? Do they know I’m not quite sure what I’ll say?”

So, in prayer I turned my inadequacy over to God and He brought me through my insecurity. And, yes, my phone eventually rang … and rang … and rang.

When you are a pastor, elder, deacon or family member who receives a call regarding the death of a loved one, let me share a few helps.

A New Testament with Psalms & Proverbs is essential, along with a Clergy Book of Services as shown below United Methodist Book of Worship Pocket Edition  and Nelson’s Minister’s Manual (pocket version) . All these are are available on Amazon, which you  could receive in a day. I prefer the New King James or the New American Standard Bible versions. The New Testament  link above displays the same New Testament, reasonably priced,  shown below:


A New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs
The United Methodist Book of Worship – Pastor’s Pocket Edition

Coffee stained and held together now by my library sticker, Dr. Powell’s “Gospel for the Graveside” has served me well.

On the flyleaf I taped questions that I have used over the years, which someone adapted from “The Clergy Journal.”

Along with the questions, a tool I use a lot is a Sony 4GB Digital Recorder.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Sony-4-GB-PX.jpg

Nothing takes the place of being present with the family and listening to them as they share their story. This doesn’t mean spending hours with the family, but perhaps an hour listening to them.

In a smaller church, you may find yourself sitting in the living room or at a kitchen table is a good way to connect with someone on their journey of grief. In a larger church, the church office may be the most time efficient way to meet the family.

Along with the questions, I suggest you put together a brief outline of a typical service, which would provide a starting place for the family.

If you have a church musician to join with the family to discuss music, it is an excellent idea.

lay aside any theological “explanations” as to why this happened. Trying to help someone feel better by telling them that “God wanted another rose in heaven” falls short of facing the mystery of pain and grief we share in this life.

Sometimes I give the questions to the family ahead of time for them to work on before we meet –

In my last church, the Kitchen Angels served a light brunch following a funeral. During this time, a DVD slide show of the person’s life was played. This was certainly a meaningful ministry.

I debated writing this blog …

After all it is Christmas time. Then I officiated last Wednesday for a coworker, whose husband died suddenly the Friday before. Yesterday online  I saw that  friend grieved over the loss of a parent.

Knowing how difficult it can be to find clergy to help during the hectic Christmas season, may this blog help those who find themselves seeking to comfort the grieving at a most unexpected  time. Should you find yourself waiting for the phone to ring and not knowing what to say, may this be a source of comfort in a time of great need.

-Pastor Jim

From Darkness into Light

Postscript

I wanted to blog about living through the “dark night of the soul” as it has been my own experience this year. Last January I underwent a successful da Vinci robotic surgery for a stage 2 cancer on my right kidney. Coming up on the one year surgical anniversary, I’m able to reflect on the experience and what helped me. My wife and I presently have a house guest for six weeks. Each of us is a cancer survivor, with our guest, Nancy, dealing with the death of her beloved spouse, Joe,  from pancreatic cancer this year and  having just finished her own radiation. So, we are walking together in God’s light.

As I posted the blog today, I saw that I missed a voicemail from a coworker who called me again this evening to ask me to officiate at the funeral of her husband who died unexpectedly last Friday. She was home with him when he drew his last breath.  So, following my own instruction of “light the path of another,” I will be ministering at his funeral in Phoenix this week.

Behind the above events, lies another hidden grief  . . . that of an estrangement that I have with one of my sons and his family. Without pointing a finger at the cause, for which there can be many, estrangement creates its own grief, with a sense of helplessness.  Out of my own pain and grief I share with you what helps me. Hopefully, these things will help you discover God’s presence and his shining Kingdom within you amidst “your dark night of the soul.”  Part II of this message, omitted for brevity was “Share your light with others” as a part of your own healing. Now you have resources you can share. – Pastor Jim

In God’s Care

Kindness Boomerang


For an excellent chart on where the prophet Isaiah fit into the history of Israel, visit – Bryan Easley’s chart work published at bryaneasley.com

Common Ground



The first Sunday of New Year I couldn’t wait
For my favorite pew … where I’m never late.
Bulletin, Bible held tight in right hand,
I marched down the aisle to my holy stand.
 
When to my shock, he sat there in my place,
That Mr. Oink, by himself, such a disgrace!
Oh, that Oink is so clever, a man of two faces;
He got there quite early and took up two spaces.
 
Wheeling around I marched even closer.
I’d show that old Oink who’s the real loser.
But the two rows ahead fueled my dark fear,
All filled with the Yuffies, their grandma so dear
 
Why they can’t sit there, I started to sob.
They’ve lost their house. They don’t have a job.
I give every week. My name’s on the check.
Come Monday morning, I’ll give Pastor heck!
 
Oh, this is too much! ... It's making me pout.
This Happy New Year is turning about.
The whole place is filled with the Grumpies and Woopies,
The Rappies, and Opals and even … The Posties!
 
Dragging my feet to the back row I did muster.
One final seat left next to young  … Buster.
Age 14 and pimpled, our church not the same.
Forced to hear a sermon and video game.
 
Our pastor he preached, that Rev. Gold Collar.
He poked and he prodded just short of a holler,
“In spite all the odd folk  who ‘round us surround,
In Christ, it is true ... We find common ground.”*

- Pastor Jim - written in the midst of a busy Holiday season.
Shared in a sermon as Executive Pastor of The Church at Litchfield Park (circa 2012).


* Each of the families and characters of are marketing acronyms that describe different social tribes in the U.S.  Oinks- “One Income No Kids;”  Grumpies- “Grim Ruthless Urban Professional;” Suppie– “Senior Urban Professional;” Rappies – “Retired Affluent Professionals”(often retired “Suppies”); “Opal – Older People Active Lifestyle;” Buster – “Twenty-SomethingYear Old’s” aka “Posties;” Yuffie – “Young Urban Failure;”  Woopie – “Well Off Older People.”
 
https://www.enterprisemarketing.co.uk/glossary/#w







In seminary they never told us about some of the ministry projects in which we would be involved. Following a sermon on the making our campus more accommodating to the disabled , the The Church at Litchfield Park immediately funded the Restroom Renovation Project. Alberto, our Building Manager, was the most multi-gifted person with whom I ever served (see link for story and photo below). I guess you could say my ministry was a “great relief” to many ;o)

Heaven’s Gifts


Driving home from the Mega-Super store
On the Interstate pushing seventy-four.
Mini-van loaded full of Christmas toys,
A day of rush, stress, press and noise.
 
Turning on the radio to find joyful a strain,
I blinked and rubbed my eyes to ease their pain.
Fiddled with a knob adjusting the  the heat,
Two kids stuffed with candy, and gifts wrapped so neat.
 
Beside me was Billy's saber saw -- I got the last.
An old woman nearly beat me but wasn't quite as fast.
And Jessie got her Barbie, price was marked too low.
Not my job to watch their prices, you've got to know.
 
I gave a Christmas blessing to that salesman so rude,
A cursing and a yelling, until the air was blue!
The manager came running, asking what was wrong,
As the local schoolboy choir broke out in Yuletide song.
 
"Silent Night, Holy Night..." and then an awful whack.
I planted on my child's behind for teasing little Mack.
Coming to the checkout brought me such good cheer.
For the end of Christmas shopping was so near.
 
But there amid much standing my anger then arose.
When the cashier tried  her register to close.
Scheming, I told her my mother was quite sick,
And would be worse if I did not get home ... quick!
 
Now  on the car radio I heard a golden voice,
Soothing, deep,and far above earthly noise.
It  said there were vast worlds without money;
Galaxies without stores, where cash is funny.
 
For in heaven there's only one gift we can give
To the living God,with the saints who there live.
It is that which is made in the most secret parts
Gifts formed and created deep in our hearts!
 
When the radio crackled and returned to the noise.
I turned us round to return the junk and the toys -
The Mega Rangers, and 'lectric shaver that beeps.
Ties and coats, a VCR and remote control jeeps.
 
The Sabre saw, Old Spice cologne, and cordless fan.
And said, "Kids,gifts this year we'll make by hand!"
 
     Written after a day Christmas shopping.

                   --by Pastor Jim Butler
Christmas 1993 while Senior Pastor of
The Community Church of Buckeye




The story behind the blue robe … While serving as Senior Pastor of the Community Church of Buckeye (circa 1992), I learned of the unexpected passing of a United Methodist pastor in Sun City. His wife posted a notice that her husband’s clergy robes were free to a minister who needed them. She gave me a white and a blue one pictured. To this day I am grateful for the gift from  her and her  late husband.

My family and I lived in five church parsonages over the years – two of which were situated right next to the church. One benefit of The Community Church of Buckeye was the cement floor of the Fellowship Hall, which became the impromptu rollerblading arena for me and my two young sons, Steve and Scotty! We would roller-blade from the back of the parsonage into the hall!