loren Eric Swanson: August 2005

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

From Big Sur to Big Sirloins!

Another great today in Omaha. This is the final gathering of this leadership community. The last gathering was in Big Sur, California, so Ryan McReynolds aptly named this gathering "From Big Sur to Big Sirloins." The folks of Christ Community Church give a new meaning to midwest hospitality. It has been outstanding! We started the day at 7:30 to a full breakfast of eggs, sausage, mushrooms, blintzes, fruit, chocolate cake (yea, for breakfast!).

After breakfast we heard from Brad Fieldhouse of kingdomcauses.org, a church multiplication organization that does an incredible job with simple church planting. Brad led us through a simple church experience. Very powerful! We then had another session with Jack Jezreel of JustFaith.org. Again...absolutely profound. I'll post his teachings in the next couple of days.

After Jack, participants broke out to reflect on what they heard, saw and felt in the past 24 hours and created a "what could be" model of externally focused church.

After a lunch of barbecued brisket and homemade peach pie churches broke out for one more "what could be" session to stretch their thinking and spent the afternoon working their "what will be plan."

This evening we had dinner with the CCC team at an Indian restaurant in the Old Market and met with the larger group for dessert and coffee. Great night.

Of course the day was permeated with thoughts and prayers for the victims of Katrina. Leaders of churches were on the phone helping to organize churches for relief efforts. It is times like these where we need to go way beyond ourselves to help those in dire need. This is the time for God's people to shine.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Leadership Community in Omaha

We just finished an incredible day of the final gathering of the second Leadership Community for Externally Focused Churches, hosted by Christ Community Church (CCC) in Omaha. We started the day gathering for lunch in the foyer of the church. CCC has an incredible hospitality staff and midwest cooking is their specialty. After lunch we began our meetings with our Fast Fire Updates--a quick report out by the churches on the progress they have made in the past six months. We then heard from Jack Jezreel of JustFaith.org. Jack's message was absolutely incredible. Because all of our sessions are digitally captured, I will drop Jack's text into the blog when it is cleaned up a bit...but it will be worth the wait!

After Jack's message, churches broke out to reflect and compare and contrast Jacks model for ministry with their own and reported out on what they learned. Afterwards we were treated to one of the best meals I've had...all hosted anc prepared by CCC--barbecued Rib-eye steaks, incredible potatoes, baby asparagas and incredible brandied peaches and vanilla bean ice cream. Because Omaha is the home of the College Work Series, the CCC gang organized a great game of softball...to help us digest the food. What could have amounted to one of the greatest sports come-backs ever was cut short because of darkness. More tomorrow

Friday, August 26, 2005

Once Upon a Town

Earlier this summer I spoke to the staff of Campus Crusade's Military Ministry at their bi-annual gathering in Fort Collins. Part of their theme and motif was taken from something that happened over 60 years ago in North Platte Nebraska. From Christmas Day 1941 to the last day of WWII the small town of 12,000, during a time of rationing, met every troop train with sandwiches, fried chicken, cakes, cupcakes, popcorn balls etc, from 5am in the morning til midnight, every day of the year...every day of the war.

The idea came about quite by accident. The town folk, hearing that soldiers from Nebraska were to have a brief stopover in North Platte, organized to meet them with food, letters and cigarettes. The troops were actually from Kansas but the effect of meeting the soldiers and feeling so appreciated was transformational. The following day twenty-six year old Rae Wilson wrote a letter to the Daily Bulletin suggesting the town meet every troop train with food and love. She volunteered to lead the effort. Other towns, hearing of their efforts, joined in. Some 125 towns of Nebraska and Colorado volunteered to meet the troops (sometimes up to 32 trains a day) with food and love during their brief stop in North Platte. By the time the war was over they had served six million soldiers!

Often, the young women would include their names and addresses inside cakes and popcorn balls so the boys would have someone to correspond with. More than a few of these long distance relationships ended in long marriages.

The train station and canteen were torn down in the early 70's but the memory of what happened during those four magical years remains.

From the story of North Platte,
  • What can we learn about movements?
  • What can we learn about volunteers?
  • What can we learn about a noble cause?
  • What can we learn about leadership?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The True Believer--Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

Last night, flying from Denver to Atlanta, I re-read Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer—Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. Hoffer was a self-educated philosopher and social historian who worked as a longshoreman in San Francisco for 25 years, during which time he authored more than ten books. I sometimes tell people that I majored in “science” when I was in college. When pressed to define what kind of science, I tell them “soft science.” When pressed as to how soft, my final answer is “social science.” ("Social Science" in itself is an oxymoron.) For my senior thesis on Social Movements I wrote my thesis on early Christianity as a social movement. It was actually quite instructive. Hoffer was the fount of movement ideas. Although Hoffer made many references to political movements, The True Believer contains many seminal ideas on movements—some of which are applicable to spiritual movements and “launching movements everywhere” or for helping to build God’s kingdom. I’ll put a few of Hoffer’s thoughts on paper—for rumination and for quotation followed by reflective questions.

“Those who would transform a nation or the world cannot do so by breeding and captaining discontent or by demonstrating the reasonableness and desirability of the intended changes or by coercing people into a new way of life. They must know how to kindle and fan an extravagant hope. It matters not whether it be hope of a heavenly kingdom, of heaven on earth, of plunder and untold riches, of fabulous achievement or world dominion. If the Communists win Europe and a large part of the world, it will not be because they know how to stir up discontent or how to infect people with hatred, but because they know how to preach hope” (p. 9)

What is our message? Is it one of discontent or extravagant hope?

“When a mass movement begins to attract people who are interested in their individual careers, it is a sign that it has passed its vigorous stage; that it is no longer engaged in molding a new world but in possessing and preserving the present. It ceases then to be a movement and becomes an enterprise” (p. 13).

How does an enterprise differ from a movement? Can “career missionaries” be movement leaders?

“We cannot be sure that we have something worth living for unless we are ready to die for it” (p. 16)

“…a rising movement can never go too far in advocating and promoting collective cohesion. He knew that the chief passion of the frustrated is ‘to belong,’ and that there cannot be too much cementing and binding to satisfy this passion” (p. 42).

A sense of belonging seems to be key to sustained movements. How do you communicate to people, they belong?

“There is perhaps no more reliable indicator of a society’s ripeness for a mass movement than the prevalence of unrelieved boredom. In almost all the descriptions of the periods preceding the rise of mass movements there is reference to ennui: and in their earliest stages mass movements are more likely to find sympathizers and support among the bored than among the exploited and oppressed…When people are bored, it is primarily with their own selves that they are bored. The consciousness of a barren, meaningless existence is the main fountainhead of boredom” (p. 52).


“The vigor of a mass movement stems from the propensity of its followers for united action and self sacrifice. When we ascribe the success of a movement to its faith, doctrine propaganda, leadership, ruthlessness and so on, we are but referring to instruments of unification and to means used to inculcate a readiness for self-sacrifice. It is perhaps impossible to understand the nature of mass movements unless it is recognized that their chief preoccupation is to foster, perfect and perpetuate a facility for united action and self-sacrifice” (p. 59).

If movements are built around united action and self-sacrifice, what do you do to accommodate both?

“No matter how vital we think the role of leadership in the rise of a mass movement, there is no doubt that the leaders cannot create the conditions which make the rise of a movement possible. He cannot conjure a movement out of the void. There has to be an eagerness to follow and obey and an intense dissatisfaction with things as they are, before movement and leader can make their appearance. When conditions are not ripe, the potential leader, no matter how gifted, and his holy cause, no mater how potent, remain without a following” (P. 112).

How does the convergence of leadership and timing play itself out in the intentional launching of spiritual movements?

“Action is a unifier. There is less individual distinctness in the genuine man of action—the builder, soldier, sportsman and even the scientist—than in the thinker or in one whose creativeness flows from communion with the self…. Those who came to this country to act (to make money) were more quickly and thoroughly Americanized than those who came to realize some lofty ideal. The former felt an immediate kinship with the millions absorbed in the same pursuit. It was as if they were joining a brotherhood…. Men of thought seldom work well together whereas between men of action there is usually an easy camaraderie. Teamwork is rare in intellectual or artistic undertakings but common and almost indispensable among men of action. The cry ‘Go, let us build us a city, and a tower’ is always a call for united action” (p. 120).

What “action” are you calling people to?

“Where the articulate are absent or without a grievance, the prevailing dispensation, though incompetent and corrupt, may continue in power until it falls and crumbles of itself” (p. 131).

“The mass movements of modern time, whether socialists or nationalists, were invariably pioneered by poets, writers, historians, scholars, philosophers, and the like. The connection between intellectual theoreticians and revolutionary movements needs no emphasis” (p.138).

What are you doing to pioneer movements through the use of language—to be a man (or woman) of words?
”To sum up, the militant man of words prepares the ground for the rise of a mass movement:
1. By discrediting prevailing creeds and institutions
2. By indirectly creating a hunger for faint in the hearts of those who cannot live without it
3. By furnishing the doctrine and the slogans of the new faith
4. By undermining the convictions of the ‘better people’—those who can get along without faith” (p. 140).

“A movement is pioneered by men of words, materialized by fanatics and consolidated by men of action. It is usually an advantage to a movement, and perhaps a prerequisite for its endurance, that these roles should be played by different men succeeding each other as conditions require” (p. 147).

What is your reaction to Hoffer’s thoughts on movements? What can you apply to your situation as a leader?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Waking up in a City that Never Sleeps

This morning I returned from three days in New York City with my pastor, Tom Shirk, of Calvary Bible E-Free Church in Boulder. For the past two or three years, Tom has been leading Calvary in becoming internally strong and sound but externally focused. In 2004 our church received the “Colorado Cares Governor’s Award” for being Colorado’s volunteer organization of the year for our work we have done in serving the community. Tom is on the last couple weeks of his three month sabbatical designed to renew, revision and refresh.

We were settled into the city…in the heart of Time Square by 2pm and the first thing we did was buy tickets for the History Channel’s history tour of New York on a trolley-style bus. Howie served as our knowledgeable tour guide. Tom and I were his only passengers. Howie was a retired Conn-Ed worker in his mid-50s who had learned well how to ply his new craft. Ray Bakke recommends that the first thing one should do in a new city is to take an historical tour of the city—preferably from someone who knows the spiritual history of the city. Lacking such a person, we settled for Howie. I was particularly interested in the historical tour, having finished 1776 and now immersed in Washington’s Crossing—both which detail accounts of the Revolutionary War in New York City.

After the tour we took in Mel Brook’s “The Producers,” on 44th Street, a couple blocks from the Millennial Hotel (thanks to Hotwire). Some are lauding this musical as the best thing to hit Broadway in decades. Certainly it doesn’t contain the moral lessons of Les Mis…but for comedy, it was hard to beat. Afterward the play we stumbled across Carmine’s—just down the block. Carmine’s serves huge family-style meals and we had our fill of Chicken Marsala.

On Saturday morning we met with Larry Christensen—one of the very best people in all of the city. Larry and his wife Deb have lived in the upper west side of NY for many years, giving leadership to the Campus Crusade ministry in NYC. Since there was a new restaurant, called “Eggs” in Brooklyn, Larry suggested we go there for breakfast. “Eggs” is located in a redeveloping part of Brooklyn, called Williamsburg—and the restaurant was a depiction of the neighborhood—an eclectic array of chairs and tables covered with butcher paper. One of the walls was bare concrete. But what makes the restaurant so interesting is the trained chef preparing breakfast, the individual containers of French-pressed coffee, and the ability to replicate the direction of the neighborhood. Larry commented that a church plant in this neighborhood should have the same look and feel—authentic, but absolutely no pretension. After breakfast we walked the neighborhood, stopping into a Greek Orthodox Church that was being restored. We walked through a park where kids were learning to play baseball. There were signs of hope in the city. If you wanted to invest in the city, this is certainly one of the growth plates!

Now picture this…maybe the highlight of our trip—in the depths of a subway station…a midget who, through the wonder of plastic surgery, had his face altered to be a mini-me replica of Michael Jackson. Now picture an enraptured crowd applauding and cheering to mini-Michael dancing, moon-walking and lip-synching to “Beat-it.” The guy was incredible! And if he can make it here…well, you know how the rest of it goes.

The afternoon found us in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). Again Bakke says we should visit the museums of a city, for in their museums the city recaptures its history and tells its story. I’m not sure I can fully grasp the artistic value of a 8’X8’ black canvas, or a chalkboard with scribbling on it, but I did appreciate the work of Picasso, Monet, Gauguin, Andrew Wythe, etc.

The evening found us queued up for a Saturday evening service at Time Square Church—David Wilkerson’s (Cross and the Switchblade) church at 7pm. I blamma myself for not understanding that the service was on Friday night and not Saturday night. But now we had the opportunity to go back to Carmine’s—this time for the Chicken Scarpiella—possibly the most flavorful chicken I’ve had—rosemary, garlic, lemon, olive oil, shallots…just great.

On Sunday, we took in the 10:30 service at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, meeting at Hunter College on Lexington Avenue. Redeemer is a leader in the NYC church planting movement and pastor Tim Kelleris a brilliant thought leader on missional churches. After church we met with Glen Klineknecht, Director of Here’s Life, Inner City for lunch, then made our way back to Brooklyn for the 3:30 service at Brooklyn Tabernacle.

Brooklyn Tabernacle is like no other place in the world. Brooklyn Tabernacle was invigorated by the arrival of Jim and Carol Cymbala in the early 1970’s. The congregation was barely alive and Jim and Carol struggled to pastor this fledgling congregation. On a fishing trip in Florida Jim was seeking the Lord, when, in Jim’s words, “I sensed God speaking: If you and your wife will lead my people to pray and call upon my name, you will never lack for something fresh to preach. I will supply all the money that’s needed, both for the church and for your family, and you will never have a building large enough to contain the crowds I will send in response.” It is on the basis of this call that God has blessed Brooklyn Tabernacle. They measure what happens not on Sunday’s attendance but by Tuesday evening prayer meeting. Today they have four Sunday services that are packed with over 1,500 people each. The Brooklyn Tabernacle choir has cut several CDs and although Carol Cymbala cannot read music, the church has sold well over a million copies of sheet music.

Leaving Brooklyn, we caught the subway to 34th Street and 8th Avenue to look for “The Journey” meeting in the Manhattan Center. The Journey is a three and a half year old Southern Baptist church plant. After reinvigorating ourselves with a Grande Starbuck (probably 200 stores in Manhattan alone) we made our way to the Manhattan Center. We followed the greeters and the well-placed signage to the 7th floor and stepped into a meeting hall with room for a thousand people. Along the back wall were bags of cereal (Captain Crunch, Fruit Loops, Fruity Pebbles, Minibuns, Count Chocula, etc) along with bowls, spoons and milk. The cow tipping scene from Tommy Boy kicked off the service followed by driving worship music, a skit and a 30 minute talk, as the penultimate summer series message, entitled, “What should I say to my friend who is gay?” This service is one of three Sunday services with a total worship attendance that pushes a thousand—mostly under 30.

Reflecting on our three church experiences over dinner at O’Lunny’s (across from Millennium Hotel on 45th Street), Tom and I debrief on what we experienced that day. At Redeemer we were singing songs from the 1500s, listening to classical music and hearing a three point sermon from the book of James. Redeemer is very Presbyterian—filled with young but now aging, mostly Anglo and Asian professionals. The Journey was at the opposite spectrum. The music could have been written during the afternoon. The audience was made up of predominately white students or transplants working their first job in the city. It was non-contextualized for the city but was doing a good job reaching the young suburbanites that had relocated in NYC, in the same way a church targeting Puerto Ricans would attract and reach Puerto Ricans. At Brooklyn Tabernacle, we both agreed that we sensed the presence of God in that place. Jim and Carol are “anointed” by God. As good as this service was, what we continually heard was the power of the Tuesday evening prayer service.

Tom and I spent a lot of time talking and reflecting on the work of God in the world and in Boulder…about the need for self-renewal and continuing education…about the need to create strategic initiatives that help give legs to people’s desires.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

BHAGs for Atlanta

Chip Sweney also passed on to me the BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOALS for the church / school collaboration in NE Atlanta...

Existing Situation – 2005
  • Georgia has the second highest high school dropout rate in the country
    Over 40% of Georgia’s students left school without graduating (national average drop out rate is 28%)
    Only 32% of Georgia’s students who enter 9th grade are likely to graduate from high school four years later and enroll in college within a year.
  • The economic impact of high school non completion in Georgia is $17.6 billion.
    Public Schools have major challenges because of the tremendous growth in non English speaking families.
    Gwinnett County has one of the fastest growing limited English proficiency populations in the United States
    800% increase in Hispanic residents in Gwinnett (from 1990 – 2000) – nationwide increase was 58%
    60% of Hispanic and Asian populations in Gwinnett report they speak English “less than very well”
  • 1 in 5 families, in the Gwinnett County School System, speak a language other than English at home.

BHAG Goals/Vision

The approximately 150 schools in NE Atlanta represent over 200,000 families – What if ……..

within 2 years (2007) every school in NE Atlanta was “adopted” by at least one church and many schools had people from more than one church working together
within 3 years (2008) as Unite spreads across the metro area every school in metro Atlanta was “adopted” by at least one church
within 5 years (2010) every school in Georgia was “adopted” by at least one church and Georgia was ranked in the top 10 of graduation rates instead of number 49.

What if in 5 years, we had 5 times as many of our people equipped with a biblical world and life view as teachers, principals, school board, PTA leadership, etc. in the public schools!

Churches Helping Schools in Atlanta

Yesterday my friend, Chip Sweney from Perimiter Church in Atlanta sent me a newspaper write-up on what churches in Atlanta are doing to partner with public schools. Chip was also part of the first Leadership Community for Externally Focused Churches and is a leader involved in the Global Learning Community. I love the first line of the article...

Churches plan to lend hand in public schools
By Bill Osinski
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 08/13/05

Prayer may not have a place in the public schools, but prayerful people do. That was the message to pastors in a coalition of Gwinnett, Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb churches who met Friday to launch an Adopt-A-School program. The idea is for churches to send their members into the schools - not as religious missionaries but as volunteer tutors, teachers' assistants and anything else the schools need to boost their struggling students. Some churches are already doing these things, and school officials at the meeting said they value the churches' efforts and would welcome more. "There's a lot of enthusiasm about the Body of Christ [Christians] making an impact on schoolchildren and their families," said Chip Sweney, executive director of the Unite coalition. Sweney also serves as outreach pastor at Perimeter Church, where Friday's meeting was held. Sweney said Unite is urging participating churches to target schools in their area and then go to the principals to ask how they can help.

One need in Gwinnett, for instance, is working with students who don't speak English well, he said. The Adopt-A-School concept got high marks from Louise Radloff, a member of the Gwinnett Board of Education. "I'll take any help that will make a difference in the lives of our children," she said. Though Radloff said she is a firm believer in the separation of church and state, she believes this program does not cross any constitutional lines. "The churches don't have an agenda. They don't have to preach," she said. However, she added, when the volunteers give of their time to help a student, those actions model religious values such as integrity, honesty and caring for others. "That kid is going to come on board and follow," she said.

Some area churches have already put the Adopt-A-School concept into practice. Bill Sim, pastor of New Church of Atlanta, a predominantly Korean church in Norcross, said college and high-school students from his church are involved in tutoring public school students, most of whom are Hispanic. "It's like what we went through 20 or 30 years ago," Sim said. Jody Vickery, pastor of Campus Church of Christ in Norcross, said members of his congregation are working with students at Meadow Creek Elementary School practically every school day. Some of his volunteers are high school students on their lunch periods, and others are adults who have flexible work schedules. Overall, the students in the special tutoring programs have experienced a jump of 2.5 years in their reading levels over the past year, he said. Anji Bowers, a teacher at Meadow Creek Elementary, said the efforts of volunteers from the church and elsewhere were instrumental in getting her school removed from the federal "Needs To Improve" list.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Halftime Summit

Yesterday Don Wilcox and I drove up to Vail to join Lloyd Reeb and Greg Murtha of Leadership Network for a Halftime Summit, hosted by Vail Bible Church and sponsored by Leadership Network. The concept of "halftime" is that many successful people build their lives around success, then after they achieve that success, long to do something meaningful with their lives. Based on Bob Buford's best selling book(500,000 copies in print), Half Time Summits are half-day workshops for people with margins of time, talent and resources who are in the process of discovering what they will give themselves to in the second half of their lives. Bob Buford uses the phrase "from success to significance," describing the first and second half of a person's life. The questions that identify a person's halftime quest might be:
  • Is there more to life than my current situation?
  • What do I consider eternally significant?
  • What on earth would give my life meaning?
  • Am I alone in feeling this way?
  • How much (stuff, money, advancement) is enough?
  • Was my first half experience a foundation for something more significant in my second half?

Management guru (and long-time mentor of Bob Buford), Peter Drucker says, "In a few hundred years, when the history of our time will be written from a long term perspective, I think it is very probable that the most important event these historians will see is not technology, it is not the internet, it is not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time--and I mean that literally--for the first time, substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And let me say, we are totally unprepared for it." Well said.

To create "margin" in our lives we must "cut low value stuff from our lives to make space for high value stuff."

High capacity people need high capacity challenges. Lloyd Reeb (himself a former successful real estate developer) told of one successful chinese business man, whose business was tea, but his passion was photography and helping disabled Chinese orphans. This man did not leave his business to experience significance. He didn't change his job but he did change his heart! He is now in the process of traveling through China taking photos of Chinese orphans, placing these pictures on tea packages along with a link to a website that allows customers to support and sponsor Chinese orphanages. His dream is to see homes for every orphan in China. The last time Lloyd saw this man, he was grinning ear to ear because he had just paid for a heart transplant of one of these precious children.

God's blessing is not the end but the foundation to do something significant.

The five hour session also included opportunities to discover and define one's groundings, roles, abilities, gifts and passions that serve as guiding stars in discovering one's calling.

This morning I opened my Outlook to discover Bob Buford's Active Energy in my mail box. I include Bob's Active Energy in my blog links since I find his thinking progressive and he is incredibly connected with people of passion and skill. He attached a letter from his good friend John Snyder's credentials are found at the end of this blog entry but this is what he recently wrote to describe his second half aspirations. I think it is worth the read. I'd also encourage you to link to and begin subscribing to Buford's Active Energy.

What is Life II?
For thousands of years before 1900, men followed in their fathers’ vocations for their entire lives. Around 1900, it became practical for many to choose what they wanted to do. They had a period of productivity, up to around age 60, followed by a brief retirement, and then they died.
With today’s vastly extended lifespan and improved health over 60, many reach the traditional retirement age still having the potential for another 20-25 years of productivity — a second adulthood, also referred to as “Life II” or the “Second Half.”

Many in our culture still view the traditional retirement age as the end of their productive years and a time to sail away to leisure land, leading an aimless, reactive life. Increasing numbers, however, see this as the opportunity — having completed their traditional careers — to pursue their calling, spending Life II seeking meaning rather than money, significance rather than success. This is generating a wave of productive and enterprising people, male and female, and is potentially the next big demographic story of our time.”

What is Life II?
For thousands of years before 1900, men followed in their fathers’ vocations for their entire lives.
Around 1900, it became practical for many to choose what they wanted to do. They had a period of productivity, up to around age 60, followed by a brief retirement, and then they died.
With today’s vastly extended lifespan and improved health over 60, many reach the traditional retirement age still having the potential for another 20-25 years of productivity — a second adulthood, also referred to as “Life II” or the “Second Half.”
Many in our culture still view the traditional retirement age as the end of their productive years and a time to sail away to leisure land, leading an aimless, reactive life. Increasing numbers, however, see this as the opportunity — having completed their traditional careers — to pursue their calling, spending Life II seeking meaning rather than money, significance rather than success. This is generating a wave of productive and enterprising people, male and female, and is potentially the next big demographic story of our time.”

Conceptual Contrasts
Traditional Model
Forty years of hard work followed by a generally aimless retirement, and death soon after.

Life II Model
After the traditional retirement age, start a new 20-25 year initiative focused on making the world a better place. Work more for meaning than for fortune and fame, serving a higher purpose than one’s own wants and needs.

Retiring (Traditional)
Checking out and coasting.
Going to leisure land.
Leading life selfishly, self-indulgent, aimless, reactive.
In a holding pattern, on auto-pilot.
Taken out of use.
The end of productivity.
Not doing anything purposeful or beneficial.

Redeploying (Life II)
Life is too valuable to waste.
Don’t have to work, but still have work to do.
Pursuing meaning.
Building lasting significance.
Living purposefully, intentionally.
Making the world a better place.

Success (Traditional)
It is about getting.
Using your knowledge and experience to gain fortune and fame.

Significance (Life II)
It is about giving back.
Using your knowledge and experience to add value to lives of others.
Giving up money and status for the opportunity to change people’s lives forever.
Helping others realize their ideals.
The fruit of your work grows on others’ trees.

What you are paid to do.

What you are made to do. (This concept will preach!)

Life I (Traditional)
Self actualization.
Developing one’s knowledge, experience and resources.

Life II
Self transcendence.
Developing lasting significance that can continue past one’s lifetime.
Tough Times
No one has clear sailing through life. The luckiest of lives has its full share of difficulties and private despair. Soundness is a way of reacting to problems, not the absence of them.
“The way out is always through” (Robert Frost). Just as resistance generates muscle, working through the worst experience generates joy.
If the thing before you is what God wants you to do, He will provide the strength. If not, He’ll show you another way.

Some Tips
1. For life:
Do good work.
Be with good people.
Learn to give and receive love.

2. For Life II:
Be free of the stress experienced in Life I.
Focus on meaningful work that benefits others.
Have fun.

Some Questions
1. Would you like the world to be a better place for your having been there? So, what’s your plan?
2. From God, at the end of your life:
What did you do about Jesus?
What did you do with what I gave you to work with?
3. What do you want to be remembered for?

Some Answers
For question #3:
Being a man of faith.
Loving my wife and providing for her.
My kids’ lives working out well.
Successfully building a company.
Leaving the world a better place.

John Snyder founded Snyder Oil Corp. in 1977 and served as chairman and CEO until its merger in 1999 to form Santa Fe Snyder Corp. He served as chairman of Santa Fe Snyder until its merger in 2000 with Devon Energy Corp. John received his B.S. in petroleum engineering from the University of Oklahoma and his M.B.A from Harvard.

If you would be interested in learning more about these concepts, I'd encourage you to order Bob's books, Halftime and Finishing Well, visit www.halftime.org or contacting Lloyd Reeb (lloyd.reeb@leadnet.org) or Greg Murtha (greg.murtha@leadnet.org) for more information.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Robert Linthicum

After meeting with Rudy, we drove over to a restaurant where we met with Robert and Marlene Linthicum. Bob, along with John McKnight, is the leading thought leader / practitioner on community organizing and grass roots transformation. (There are two approaches to community transformation--need-based and asset-based. Bob is a proponent of the latter--seing each community filled with assets.

Bob says there are four ways a church can engage its community.
1) It can do nothing
2) It can determine what a community needs and provide it for the community. "This is better than doing nothing...but not much better." For example people from the church see a bunch of kids playing stickball in the street and decide it is too dangerous for them, so they invite them into the church gymnasium. The people in the community are upset because watching their kids play in the street was a way for them to sit on their porch, connect with their neighbors and talk about community issues. What was perceived as a problem was really a solution.
3) "Let's survey the community." So a church develops questions. People of the community become objects from which you gather data. The church is in charge of the process and determines the problems and programs. "I don't know anything more harmful than this approach."
4) Building relationship with the people. "People precede program." "We've been in this neighborhood for years but we haven't been very good neighbors. We just want to get to know you." This is followed by a series of natural questions:
"How long have you lived here?"
"How have you seen the neighborhood change?"
"What attracted you to this neighborhood in the first place?" (The answers tell you what is important to them.)
"How has it worked out for you?"
(Never take notes...it's a conversation. Write it all down later)

"A leader is a person with a following." After a while, leaders surface. We then pull these leaders together. "What are you going to do about it?"

You will not bring about community transformation without community organizing. There must be indigenous leaders or this will fail.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Rudy Carrasco

Earlier today I joined Andy Rittenhouse (Compassion Coalition, Knoxville, TN) and Eric Marsh (Hope for Long Beach) for a couple of appointments they had set up. Andy is on a five-day junket meeting with leaders from Mariners, Saddleback, Rock Harbor, New Song-Irvine, etc. Andy, through Compassion Coalition, has developed the best material / curricula for engaging churches in the needs and dreams of their community. The first appointment was with Rudy Currasco in Pasadena. Rudy is a respected thought leader as well as one of the most respected practitioners in the country. He is the executive director of the Harambee Center--a learning center in Pasadena committed to the success of children. Rudy began blogging several years ago (when it was known as Web logging). So the first topic he addressed was blogging. The following is from the notes I took on our time together.

If there is a message you want to get across then you need to blog. Blogging is the new media different than any previous forms of communication. Blogging allows you to check facts. Like oil for food. People are able to supercede mainstream media by checking the facts for themselves and then pass their findings on to others. Top blogger (most widely read) is Glen Reynolds (instapundit.com). Blogging helps others find you and your unique message and you become a voice others may want to give voice to. For instance the best review on digital photography is a blog called dpreview.com. It created its own value and people found the site and it continues to grow.

A lot of the folks who have a steady stream of content are writers / journalists. Much of what I write is currently not strategic but will be strategic further down the line. Blogging creates a paper trail of your thinking and adds to credibility issues. If people want to know my views on capitalism or the war in Iraq or free enterprise, there is a steady stram of content that can be checked out.

I have known Rudy for around four years now. He continues to stay on my list of "go-to" resourceful people, whose insite and opinions I value. Thanks Rudy.

P.S. I have a link to Rudy's blog on my list of blogs I'm reading.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


I just finished David McCullough's 1776--the story of America's fight to prevail for independence. The story centers on George Washington and the leadership he provided during this time of great conflict. McCullough is a Pulitzer Prize winner who is (as a friend of mine calls him) "an historian's historian." As with all his books, he typed this book on a conventional typewriter in a small cabin / shed in back of his house, producing roughly four typed pages per day.

1776 fills in many of the gaps in early American history. What was most amazing about the book was the incredible odds that Americans overcame to ultimately prevail in our quest for independence. We lost nearly every conflict, troops were deserting in droves...many defecting to the British, morale was often low and Washinton's leadership was in question. The 350+ page book includes only two American victories in 1776--Boston and Trenton on Christmas night, where the Americans crossed the Delaware to surprise the British and Hessian soldiers. In the end McCullough gives due credit to Washington. He ends this book by writing,

Financial support from France and the Netherlands, and military support from the French army and navy, would play a part in the outcome. But in the last analysis it was Washington and the army that won the war for American independence. The fate of the war and the revolution rested on the army. The Continental Army--not the Hudson River or the posession of New York or Philadelphia--was the key to victory. And it was Whshington who held the army together and gave it "spirit" through the most desperate of times.

He was not a brilliant strategist or tactician, not a gifted orator, not an intellectual. At several crucial moments he had shown marked indeciveness. He had made serious mistakes in judgment. But experience had been his great teacher from boyhood, and in this his greatest test, he learned steadily from experience. Above all, Wahsington never forgot what was at stake and he never gave up.

Again and again, in letters to Congress and to his officers, and in his general orders, he had called for perseverance--for "perseverance and spirit," for "patience and perseveance," for "unremitting courage and perseverance." Soon after the victories of Trenton and Princeton, he had written, "A people unused to restraint must be led, they will not be drove." Without Washington's leadership and unrelenting perseverance, the revolution almost certainly would have failed. As Nathanael Green foresaw as the war went on, "He will be the deliverer of his own country."

Book of the Month Club

Several years ago I wrote an article on the value of reading / studying a different book of the Bible each month--a suggestion I first heard from Dr. Howard Hendricks. A bunch of folks have since picked up on this practice and for me it has proven to be the single best practice for getting a good handle on God's Word that I have found. I'm reproducing the article here.


The Bible is the one book that God has given to man to communicate his love, his plan, his values and instructions. How can we become men and women of God? How can we become men and women of the Word? Where can we find the spiritual resources to feed ourselves and others? An effective way to get a handle on the entire Bible is to study a different book of the Bible each month. The "Book of the Month Club" is a group of those who are committed to learning and applying a different book of the Bible each month. Since there are 66 books of the Bible, one can effectively study the Bible in its entirety in somewhat over five years. It is dynamic, challenging and life-changing.

Motivations for Book of the Month Club
· We will always receive much more than we invest in Bible study. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul writes, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable..." (NAS) "Profitable" means that the return we receive in insight, wisdom, knowledge of God and energy is consistently greater than the time and effort we invest. If we really believed that, we'd never allow a day to pass where we didn't allow God, through his Word to teach us, reprove us, correct us or train us. When we don't have time for the Word, we're like the farmer who says he's too busy to plant seed this year.

· Self-discovery builds convictions. A scriptural truth that you discover on your own is worth ten insights that someone else (or a book or a tape) gives you. You will discover principles of life that apply to every area of life and ministry.

· Self-discovery builds strong leaders. Most believers feel inadequate when it comes to understanding the Bible. Wouldn't it be great if all of your students, after they graduate, would have the ability to begin with any book of the Bible and have the confidence he or she could learn from it and teach others to teach themselves from it? Think of the spiritual leadership that they could provide for the church and Christian ministries. Teaching others to fish, in the long-run is more satisfying and productive than handing a person a fish and saying, "Hey, eat this fish. It's good for you."

· Self-study is essential to maturity. In Hebrews 5:11-14, the author implies that "by now" these believers should have been teaching others, yet they needed "milk" because of their immaturity. What is milk? It is pre-digested food. Partaking of the milk of the Word is simply allowing someone else to do the hard work of study and passing it on to you in a palatable form. Milk can be simple truths or complex truths but it is always pre-digested truths. "Anyone who partakes only of milk...is a babe" (v.13 NAS) regardless of their years in the faith or ecclesiastical position they hold.

Bill Hull, Executive Director of the Evangelical Free Church, writes, "It is not legitimate to say, 'I am unhappy with my church because my pastor's sermons aren't feeding me.' However, it is proper criticism to say, 'My church does not teach me to feed myself.' Christians, after being taught to study the Bible on their own, should find their daily spiritual diet in the regular reading, studying, memorizing and meditation on God's Word. Then the sermon becomes the dessert, not the main course. It becomes that motivational time where the tribal leader of the congregation connects with his people....Let's release ourselves from the bondage of depending on the Sunday sermon for the primary spiritual diet."

· It is helpful in the discipling process. Jesus said to his followers in John 8:31 "If you abide in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine" (NAS). When those you are discipling are daily meeting with God in his Word, the discipling process becomes exponentially easier. God is doing the teaching, the motivating, the convicting, etc. Your job then, is simply to help transform instruction into values and action.

When you are meet for a discipleship appointment, think how much more motivating it is to say, "This is what God taught me from the Word this morning" than "I had a quiet time this morning." The latter communicates that you are a disciplined person. The former indicates that God teaches you through the Scriptures.

· It provides the spiritual resources we need for ministry. Rather than preparing for each Bible study, each staff meeting, each student leadership meeting, each personal appointment, each message at the weekly meeting, etc., you can effectively minister from what God is presently teaching you. If those you are influencing are studying the same book that you are studying, the synergy is powerful. It is probably the single best thing you can do to deepen your understanding of God, his Word and to minister to others.

After studying several books of the Bible, one director writes, "I now have a greater appreciation for studying Scripture in context and God's Word has come alive. This has had a profound impact on my discipleship and teaching ministries. I feel like my ministry is simply an overflow of my relationship with God...."

· It is a viable plan that helps you to get a grasp on the "whole counsel of God." Five years from now you could have studied every book of the Bible. Study, much more than simple reading, is the foundation for meditating on the Word. What you study in the morning is what you will think about throughout the day.

· Studying a new book every month is refreshing. Howard Hendricks, in Living by the Book, writes, "I find that there's a rhythm to life, and for many of us, the cycle takes a month to six weeks. We can stick with something for about that long, but then we need a change of pace. (In a month) you can read the book through several times. You can also observe its structure, identify the key terms, investigate the central characters, do some background work with secondary sources, and decide on some practical ways to apply the truths of the book to your life....The point is that in a month's time, you can begin to take ownership of a book of the Bible."

· It helps new believers get into the Word. If you are taking a new believer through Basic Follow-up accompanied with a Book of the Month Bible study, the combination will be life-changing. You will soon be taking notes on what God is teaching him in the Word and you will establish a pattern for God to teach and minister to him for the rest of his life. The truth of the matter is this--it's no easier or harder for a month-old believer to begin a program of Scripture intake than it is for one who has been in the faith for ten years.

How to study a book of the Bible
1) Start with a wide-angle approach by reading through the entire book as many times as you can in a week. See if you can detect a flow in the material, a progression of events or ideas. Don't get bogged down in details. Remember, you're just getting a overview of the book.

In the margin jot down the main points or events covered in a particular chapter or group of chapters. This will give you a concise analysis of the content of those chapters. Note what the text teaches about God, Jesus or the Spirit. Mark references to time, repetitions, lists, contrasts and any other assorted gems. Don't be afraid to write in your Bible. Your marginal notes, boxes, stars and underlining will help you recall the lessons of the passages.

2) During the second week of study make a Book Chart. This may seem rather academic and dry but you'll be surprised how clearly you understand the book after making a book chart. You haven't grasped the content of the book until you can express it in writing. On your chart include the theme of the book, the author, its chronological place in the Bible, setting, purpose, major characters, and key verses and ideas, etc. Record the main events or subjects of each chapter on your chart. Much of this information is available in a study Bible or Bible dictionary. A good Bible atlas is also helpful for identifying the geography and location of Biblical events.

Because you are reading the book through several times, around the fourth or fifth time you will begin to see patterns and principles you've never seen before. This is an exciting time of discovery. Don't worry if you don't understand everything or whether you have the right study techniques or not. God will meet you where you are. Your Bible study skills will improve with every book you study. The point is this--you are actually studying the Bible! Getting an overview should occupy the first half of the month. For shorter books this process will take less time.

So far you've been getting a bird's eye view of the book. Now it's time to zoom in on something that seems prominent or interesting to you. It may be a passage, a paragraph, a chapter, a character, an event, a parable, a repeated theme or phrase, etc. Because you are at a different stage of life than those around you, you may choose to explore something that no one else chooses. Character studies are particularly helpful because they give you insights into one man or woman's relationship with God. Because you have an overview of the entire book you will be able to relate your "part" to the "whole." You also will want to keep a list of topics entitled, “To study later.”
As you see patterns and repetitions, it is often helpful to make simple grid charts for the sake of comparison and contrast which may lead to insight and application. A chart helps you organize your material. For example, a study of all the parables in Matthew that begin with "the kingdom of heaven is like..." will give you insight into the different aspects of the Christian life.

As you come to the end of the month, write a summary of everything you've learned from your book study. Summarize under "Principles from the book of..." You know you have a fairly good handle on the book when you can, from memory, give the purpose, flow and content of the book along with the contribution that the major characters make to the book. Most importantly, you will be able to see how your study has made a difference in your values and actions.

Studying as a group
It is difficult to study a different book each month by yourself. You need at least one other person with whom you meet regularly to share and discuss what you are learning. Meeting with others, not only provides informal accountability but also tremendous insight. Although Scripture has one interpretation, it has countless applications. When a small group or staff team are all reading, studying and applying the same book of the Bible, we see God's truth filtered through each other's lives and experiences. A group can be an organized Bible study or it can be a loose-knit group of people who, when they see each other ask, "What did you learn in Judges this morning?" "What insights did you get from the life of Abraham?"

You may want to set aside a few hours or a day in the middle of the month to get away and share with each other what God is teaching you. This gives you time to follow through on ideas others have shared that you want to investigate.

A suggested order
As you begin your Book of the Month study, it is important that you begin with books that are narrative and motivational--Genesis or Mark are good places to begin. Or you might try a shorter book like Philippians of Jonah. Because the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) and Historical Books (Joshua through Esther) are chronological, it's helpful to study them in order because each book builds on the previous one. Generally speaking, study one gospel a year. One out of these five years you can study the book of Acts. Alternate between Old and New Testament books. You may want to reserve one month per year for studying a topic or theme of the Bible or use it to follow through on your “To study further.”

Study one of the "poetic books" (Job through Song of Solomon) each year. To finish your five year program without having a number of Old Testament books left over, you might begin and end each year with an Old Testament book or study the Pentateuch without interruption. You can also study "two-part" books like 1 Kings and 2 Kings in successive months. You may also want to spend six weeks on a longer book of the Old Testament, like Isaiah, followed by two weeks in a shorter book of the New Testament.

The depth of your study will depend on the length of the book and your familiarity with it. It is probably best to study certain books before others like Daniel before Revelation, the Pentateuch before Hebrews, etc. You may want to study the Prophets (Isaiah through Malachi) within the context of the historical books and people they were addressed to. A Bible dictionary will help you figure out the order.

In the campus ministry you may want to have a strong, motivational book for August and September. Because May is a non-teaching month it's a good time to take on a book like Leviticus.

A note on application
Few decisions will change your life, but the decision to study and apply the Bible will change your life. A changed life happens through application. Application is transforming intention, insight and emotion into action.

One of the barriers to consistent Bible study is the sense that we already know so much we are not applying. The last thing we want to do is study more and not apply that. We don't want to feel condemned, guilty or hypocritical about what we already know. The truth about human nature is this--change in behavior and thinking takes time. Here's a refreshing approach to application--If you never apply the principle that you've discovered another day in your life, make certain you apply it today. Tomorrow, apply for that day what the Lord teaches you. In two or three weeks you will learn a lesson that will be similar to what you learned this morning. Little by little, your values, convictions and behavior will change. You won't change overnight, but over time your life will change.

Action points
· Begin your own chapter of Book of the Month Club. Make a plan of what to study and when you will meet and discuss what you are learning.
· Look for opportunities to teach what God is teaching you. "The best way to make something yours is to give it away."
· Read Living by the Book, by Howard Hendricks. This book contains many helpful tools for studying the Bible.

A Suggested Plan

Year 1
1. Genesis
2. Mark
3. Exodus
4. Galatians
5. Leviticus
6. 1 Timothy
7. Numbers
8. 2 Timothy
9. Deuteronomy
10. Joshua
11. Psalms 1-41
12. Open Study

Year 2
1. Judges
2. Ruth/Esther
3. Matthew
4. 1 Samuel
5. 2 Samuel
6. Hebrews
7. 1 Kings
8. Psalm 42-72
9. Colossians
10. Isaiah
11. Philemon
12. Open Study

Year 3
1. 2 Kings
2. 1 Thessalonians
3. Jeremiah
4. Titus
5. Lamentations
6. James
7. 1 Chronicles
8. 2 Chronicles
9. Luke
10. Jonah
11. Psalms 73-106
12. Open Study

Year 4
1. Ezekiel
2. 2 Thessalonians
3. Daniel
4. 1 John
5. Revelation
6. Hosea
7. John
8. Joel, Amos
9. 1 Corinthians
10. Obadiah, Micah
11. Psalms 107-150
12. Open Study

Year 5
1. Proverbs
2. 2 Corinthians
3. Ezra
4. Nehemiah
5. Ephesians
6. Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai
7. 2 John, 3 John, Jude
8. Ecclesiastes
9. Acts
10. Malachi
11. 1 Peter
12. Open Study

Year 6
1. Zechariah
2. 2 Peter
3. Job
4. Philippians
5. Song of Songs
6. Romans

Henry Blackaby

I just got off a conference call with Henry Blackaby arranged by Mission America. Glenn Barth and Jarvis Ward do a good job of telefonically convening leaders of city-reaching movements on a monthly basis for a one hour conversation with a leading practitioner and / or thougth leader. I try to join these calls to get a broader view of what God is doing in cities. Henry was very strong today. His commentary on what he sees today: 1) a lack of repentance among God's people. "There can be no revival without repentance." 2) People are hungering for something more. "Tragically most people have never been discipled and we can't be in the will of God without the Word of God."

Henry believes that much of what we see today is program. Pastors are getting their sermons from the Internet and not from the heart of God. Sermons are given, Sunday School lessons taught without ever mentioning the name of Jesus. Jesus "walks in our midst" but is asking for access to our hearts. We have moved from relationship with the living God to administrators of religious programs and God no longer has access to our hearts.

Henry says it all begins with leaders and God's people. If they are listening and responding to God, others will follow. A stong passage he referred to was Jeremiah 23. Having finished Jeremiah as part of "Book of the Month Club" I went back and re-read it.
Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. for what has straw to do with grain? Is not my word like fire, and a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? Therefore, I am against the prophetss who steal from one another words supposedly from me. Yes, I am against the prophets who wag their own toungues and yet declare, 'The Lord declares.'

Monday, August 08, 2005

Reflections on Mom's 80th Birthday

Liz and I flew out to California last week to be part of our family celebration of my mom's 80th birthday. My sister Debbie and her family flew in from Virginia. My brother Bruce, and his new bride, Lynn Maree, flew in from Brisbane, Australia and my other sister and her family, who live near my folks, joined in. My son Andy and his wife Natalie flew in as did my daughter Kacey and her fiance, Erik.

True to form of those who have gifts of grace and hospitality, Mom wanted all of us to stay in their modest three bedroom ranch-style home that they have lived in since 1965. To accomodate eleven guests they moved in with a neighbor. There were actually only two twin beds, one double bed and a pullout couch to accomodate all of us, so a couple of the families checked into the Radisson a couple miles away.

What had been planned as a birthday celebration began as a wedding reception, hosted by Mom and Dad, for Bruce and Lynn Maree. Dad fixed his Swedish Potato Sausage, Mom fixed a honeybaked ham, salad and h'ordeurves. My sister Wendy brought twice-baked potatoes. Mom and Dad bought a 20'-30' tent and the boys put it up in the back yard to provide shade from the Stockton sun. We picked up tables and chairs from church.

It was a bit like stepping back into time. My Uncle Hector, who is 90 showed up along with his son and my cousin Dennis, who is an accomplished musician and retired USPS employee. My great Aunt's daughter, Ele, who is also 90, joined us. And there was cousin Chris, and his wife Kim and their two beautiful children. (When Chris was nine he spent the weekend with me when I was a student at Cal and at breakfast after church we had an extended conversation with Jerry Mathers--the Beaver, who was a classmate of mine. Leave it to Beaver was Chris' favorite show at the time.) And cousin Don was there with along with my wonderful Aunt Eloise. Don's wife, Eloise's daughter, was sick but they drove up from Santa Cruz anyway. And there were Doug and Sonia...related through Cousin Ele, a wonderful couple whom I hadn't seen in years. My Uncle Russ and his wife Lynn were there. We lived with Russ' family for the first month when my family moved to California in 1961. They were all there...many whom I hadn't seen in years.

When I was growing up, all these same relatives would gather at our house in Stockton for Christmases and other events. My Uncle Russ, most likely our funniest relative, was there with his one-liners ("Sorry about the growth Boyd"--when shaking hands with my dad with one of his fingers folded into the palm of his hand), his expanded bag of tricks...literally a bag of tricks--from the fake bagel with a plastic roach underneath, to a disappearing ketchup bottle. He even did his "famous" K-mart suit routine, (which ends with the punchline, "Look at that poor fella...but doesn't his suit fit nicely?"). Following the laugher, my cousin Dennis took center stage and quoted from memory a beautiful cowboy poem. Then Liz read a poem written several years ago by Mark Berglund (Uncle Hector's grandson), when he was in his 20s, on going to Christmas at the Swansons when he was 8-years old.

It was too short...too early for the nostalgia to end but people had to get on the road and return to their own lives. But, for a few hours, in the afternoon of July 31, 2005, we all shared the feeling that "family" was good and rich and perhaps that we'd never be together quite like this again. And two of my kids got to see a bit of what my life was like when I was growing up. As people lingered another pot of coffee was brewed and people talked while standing. On the front lawn, my son Andy and my son-in-law to be, Erik began playing catch with Chris and Kim's 9-year-old son, Kyle, and swinging him, overhead in full circles as the adults gasped. And so the cycle of life continues. The young men play with the young boys who grow up and have children of their own to play with and they all talk fondly of the times they had when they were young.

We actually celebrated Mom's birthday on August 2nd at my sister Wendy's house. We worked up a nice game of whiffle ball in the park across the street from their house. As we were called in for dinner, followed by mysteriously old carrot cake, Mom opened her cards and a few presents. My neice Mary played a couple of songs on the piano. Brother Bruce played nearly all of the extended version of Light My Fire and then Mom sat at the piano and played a beautiful Swedish hymn. Her mind is as sharp as ever and it's only been in the past couple of years that her gait has slowed a bit. It was after she turned 75 that she commented once to Liz and me that she still thought of herself as being in 20s or 30s. And it was true. She never let herself think like an old person--so she's never really seemed old. She has more energy than anyone I know!

Wednesday we hung out at home...swimming in the pool. Thursday we went to San Francisco (via Berkeley and Top Dog) to ride the cable cars, take a boat ride under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz. Then back to the wharf for more fish and chips and clam chowder in bread bowls at Tait's. Then across the Bay Bridge to Fenton's in Oakland for icecream, fries and onion rings. My sister Debbie proclaimed all three "the best ever."

Friday morning my dad went to St. Joseph's Hospital to have two stents put into his arteries--which were 90% blocked. While Dad was in the hospital the men played nine holes on the short course. By the time we got to the hospital at 3:30, Dad was out of surgery and looked just great and was feeling fine (though tired of having to stay on his back for so long). He stayed overnight and was discharged in the morning. All is well.