Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Grandpa Project 4: Pop Pop Cooley-Enough mischief to be a grandpa..

Every kid needs a dog. " Pop Pop " Cooley, my wife's Maternal Grandfather, knew this to be both true and necessary even though her mother did not agree.  What is a grandfather to do?  Wait until Mom was at work and drop off two puppies while the baby sitter was on guard.  This picture is from 1963 and shows "Pop Pop" with the perennial cigar, keeping watch over Teresa and her brother while they played.  The dogs made it two days and then went on to other accommodations.

Grandpas would never indulge their own children as they do their grand kids.  "Grandfathers" are filled with wisdom.  "Grandpas" are filled with fun.  Bill "Pop Pop" Cooley made his way as a merchant, politician, campaign manager, coal speculator, and all around character. There are too many stories to tell here.  "Pop Pop" was the stuff of legends.   Most of all....he was a grandpa.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Book Review: Good old motivation for a new day-"No More Dreaded Mondays" by Dan Miller

Do you and I need another motivation book?  It is a fair question and the answer is more challenging than it is obvious.

Times, markets, management policies and other long held assumptions are changing for all of us.  Miller not only challenges long held work assumption but points out their danger. The volatility of the "Idea Age" does not allow us to get sign on, get the time card and turn off our brains.  "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he..",  from Proverbs 23, is Miller's starting point.  "No More" offers a process to redefine work by redefining our attitudes toward work.  This way it becomes a calling rather than a settling.  The book's helps the reader identify unhealthy attitudes and fears then take action.

 "No More Dreaded Mondays" provides the reader an online "no more" community to reinforce these concepts too.  Miller is upbeat, ultra-positive, honest, teaches with many stories and keeps it personal.  His writing style is fun, efficient, includes good end-notes and resource list but is not one to skim.  A lot is said in its  260 pages.

The book seems to take the attitude that "doing what you have to do" is somehow a failure and that we always have control over our situations.  Can everyone drop a dreary job and become a novelist?  Miller does drives home the fact that everyone can and should find God's calling and its satisfaction wherever we are and change the world. Even so, this book is far more focused on self-help than spiritual growth.  Scripture and God's principles are assumed throughout but seems an afterthought at times.

Do we and do I need this book?  The short answer is yes.  It has value to both those mired in job loss-they will find practical motivation to get un-stuck- and those of us with great work situations.  We need to "fire ourselves" every now and then and lengthen our vision to see the world's changing  rhythms.  They are at work in every ministry, field and trade and create dread and dissatisfaction in many people.  Miller offers an alternative and positive response to fear.  All of us need to be reminded of how to be and become fresh, excited and pliable in these rapidly changing times.

Multnomah Press gave me this book free in exchange for writing this review.  I thank them for risking negative comments and you for reading the review.  More information, including an excerpt of Chapter 1 can be found at

Please do me a favor and go to and give me a rating for my review. It will only take a minute.

                                                                    No More Dreaded Mondays - Dan Miller

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wall Paint as a Means of Grace

I painted my Church office.  God speaks to me when I work with my hands and this was also a Lenten offering of sorts . People in general but pastors in particular need results that can be seen and touched. So much of what we do in the "Idea Age" isn't see-able and often unsatisfying. These are my lessons for life from painting a couple of walls.

Don't be a miser. Buy better paint, own one really good brush and spend the extra on the blue masking tape. In painting, a couple of bucks spent on good materials can make a huge impact on the finished work. In life a few quality minutes that you "don't have" spent with God or on someone else can change the world, perhaps even your own.

Many mistakes from the previous painting popped out with the new color. I didn't notice the runs, over-paint and smears before I got up close. My first worry was that someone might think I did it. In painting they can be easily fixed with some steel wool. In life the mistakes and defects of others don't pop out until you get too close also. They didn't matter before. Why criticize-especially in smug silence-now? Maybe I am confronted with my own faults. Back off. The people that matter don't notice. I should be a person that matters

The preparation of this project was exciting. The first steps were tedious. The middle was a mess and made we wonder why I got into this. In painting as in life, the middle of the project is the most dangerous time. Don't stop and you don't yield to the temptation of taking short cuts or settling for lower quality. The middle is the time for action. Pray with the paintbrush. Follow through.

Painting puts your mark on something that can be touched and seen. In painting, the old nail holes and stains disappear when the new paint is applied. The space looks fresh and 'mine'. It changes me. In life, the exterior reflects the interior. I feel fresher. I want my desk clean and the books back on the shelf. Some years ago I put on Christ. At first it was just a coat of spiritual paint. As I grow He touches me more and more deeply..Allow Christ's unique and genuine mark and let others see it too.

Bottom line: Do things with touchable results and do it for yourself. Create. In painting as in life, in something as silly as painting the office, God is re-creating.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Cor. 5:17) A wonder-filled and Holy Lent to you..................

Monday, March 7, 2011

Essential Books: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Someone once said that each time you read a new book you should add an old book too.  We have looked at the essential books and "Mere Christianity" is certainly one of them.

Lewis is brilliant.  These chapters were written for the radio and take his tone and personality to the page.  Definitely British, with some aging language, and he sometimes using humor that eludes me, but he is brilliant.  Few writers that have kept their relevance for modern/post modern readers like "Mere" and C.S. Lewis.

Chapter 10's snippet on "Hope" is an example.  Lewis deals with the anxiety and often disillusioned responses of the late 1940's at is essence.  His frustration with the Christian response and the culture's understanding of the Christian life reflect those of mine and many others.  "There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of "heaven" ridiculous by saying they do not want "to spend eternity playing harps."  The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown ups, they should not talk about them....People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs."  (P. 106)

Buy a copy for your essential shelf or put it on your Kindle.  It is worth reading and re-reading devotionally.

Photo of the Day: Pocket Stuff

What does your pocket gear say about you.  What does mine say about me.  Time to simplify?

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Grandpa Project 3: Never a Grandpa Alone

You can't be a Grandpa by yourself.  This is my dad with my kids and most of their cousins.  Grandpa Jay always has extravagent hospitality when we gather.  The gatherings are infrequent but intense when we all get there. When the kids were smaller there was always an inflatable "bounce house" and more food than we could possibly eat.  Dad is usually behind the scenes and always with a crowd around him.  I had trouble finding a picture because he is usually the photographer.  Grandpa is never alone.  Grandpas are never alone.  You cannot be a grandpa by yourself.  

The Grandpa Project 2: Joy for the Journey

The Grandpa Project is simply a collection of Grandpa's.  One of mine criticized me for being gender specific-she only has grandma's.  I agree in principle but we will just have to collect and share them too.  For now....

This picture is "Papa:" Mike.  I barely recognized his crew because they have grown so quickly.  Mike's wife took this in one of those magic moments when you know an image needs to be saved forever.  I used the picture in a sermon to show what my relationship with God ought to look like, my hand comfortably in His and His people.  Grandpa's aren't God, yes even Mike, but done well they can make you think about God.  When I am a grandfather I pray that these little ones, who haven't seen the mistakes of my youth, will have a relationship that illuminates their relationship with eternity through Christ.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An Essential Book: 12 Steps and 12 Traditions by "Bill" (AA's 12 and 12)

This was submitted by a friend that I respect and admire. Any list of influential books is incomplete without The "Big Book" and the "12 and 12".  This posting flows from my friend's study of "Good and Beautiful God" by James Bryan Smith-Chapter 6.  All I can add is AMEN!

"You asked people to write on your blog about their favorite books. Here is a combination opinion of one of my new favorites and one of my old favorites:"

"In my opinion, "Bill" covers this better in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Carey's situation was a "no brainer" to me having been to Al Anon meetings and read The Book. Carey is someone who is well along in spiritual growth but you don't have to be at his level to give your will and your woes "to a higher power" and start turning your life around. I could understand this concept a long long time before I understood much at all about Christianity. "

Want to know more?  Go to or feel free to message me at the email address at the top right corner of the blog's home page.  Al Anon, which is mentioned,   is a program for the friends and family members of those trapped in addiction.  You can learn more at or contact me.