Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Our All-Access Pass

Last night, my son, Zac and I went to the L.A. Auto Show. As we exited the parking structure, we were between the Convention Center (where the Auto Show was held) and the Staples Center. There was a huge line, about a block long, at the Staples Center. We found out that it was for a Katy Perry concert. As we walked further, I noticed a much shorter line at a smaller entrance. It was a VIP entrance and the sign said "All-Access Pass-holders Only". That got me thinking about something that my friend, pastor Phil Munsey, had shared about thanksgiving and it dawned on me that "Thanksgiving" is really our "All-Access Pass"!

The attitude and action of being thankful, gets you "in"...

1) It gets you INtimacy with God.
"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name." - Psalm 100:4

2) It brings you INfluence with man.
"Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone." - Colossians 4:6 (NLT)

3) It gives you INtuition for living life.
At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way. - Luke 10:21 (NLT)

You can be a VIP. Live life with an attitude of gratitude. Not just during this time of year, but every day. You will open your life to new opportunities and joys by simply living with a thankful heart.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever." -Psalm 118:1

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dad's Photo Album

It is Thursday afternoon, April 28th, 2011. Once again, I am back with my Dad at his bedside during this final vigil. After staying with, and watching, him throughout the night, the morning-shift team, (consisting of my wife and mother), arrived and made me go get some sleep. It has been a long time since I have had a completely sleepless night – and those few hours of sleep this morning were refreshingly welcome.

As I sit here, I am looking at Dad’s collection of photo albums. One of them, in particular, has caught my interest. It is an album of “friends.” As I turn the over-filled pages, I see faces that I haven’t seen in years. Leo Upton, Sam Cagle, Winifred Black, Glen Harvey, Carl Adams, Gordon Mallory, James Larson, Terry Black, Jonathon Cupoli, Robert Bibb, Bob Baglin… and so many more. All of them, in this one book, are Ministers, Pastors and Missionaries. Some of whom have already passed-on before him.

The interesting thing to me, however, is that on every page, and most of the pictures, Dad has left a hand-written “Sticky-note Story” describing whom the photo is of, perhaps with the occasion or event noted, also. Out of dozens and dozens of photographs, a few of them have an even greater distinction, one that sets them apart from the rest. At the bottom of the sticky-note, Dad paid his highest compliment.

He simply wrote this one word: “FRIENDS.”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Afternoon & the Afterlife

The Sun is smiling today, in a cloudless sky of technicolor blue. Birds are chirping joyfully as the wind imposes it's will, gently, but insistently, upon the rustling branches of the trees. It is a beautiful Spring day -- being absorbed and appreciated from the Box Seats of Dad's room as I peer into the colorful world that is just beyond the glass in the peaceful confines of the backyard.

The bedroom blinds are open to the simple spectacle of nature that is unmatched by anything that can be produced by the hands of man. Dad has his head turned toward this great theater of life, featuring today's unique production, commercial-free, courtesy of the Creator. There is a far-away look in his eyes and eternity in his heart. He is still here, yet...

As I deeply exhale a cleansing breath, I realize this special place has a name.

It's called peace.

What a gift.

-Tim Smith

Torrance, California, on Thursday, April 28th at 3 O'clock in the afternoon.

Watching and Waiting

It's past one o'clock in the morning. I'm at my parent's house, sitting in my father's room. Gospel music is playing through his television which has the volume turned down. My wife is here as is my sister and mother -- they're all sleeping, worn-out. We are on an around the clock vigil for my 81 year-old father who is nearing the end of his life's journey on this earth. He has been on home care for the past couple of months and last week was put on hospice care.

There is a certain finality to "hospice" which emotionally hit home with me today as the nurse, quite matter-of-factly, apprised us that Dad would most likely pass tonight. That news affected all of us and turned today (actually yesterday, now) into an extremely taxing day for the entire family. A day of tears and laughter, singing and praying, worship and worry, memories and mysteries, faith and family -- a day unlike any other that I have experienced. I am just thankful for the grace of God, by which I stand.

So here I am, last man standing. Well, sitting, actually. Doing whatever is needed to help make Dad more comfortable. Praying constantly for him, talking to him and just basically loving on this great man who has "fought a good fight, and finished his course."

The closing of this chapter is near, as is the beginning of a new one... a glorified, eternal one. Heaven awaits.

Friday, January 7, 2011

This Church is for the Birds!

An amazing thing has been happening at our church this first week of 2011. Birds are trying to get in to the church. More specifically they are Ravens wanting to get in to our church.

The other day, my administrative assistant heard a knocking on the glass doors in our lobby and went out to see who it was and there were only birds. Yesterday it happened again, only this time she grabbed her camera and videoed the ravens knocking on the doors. You can see the video below.

There are several theories flying around about these occurrences, including the following...

1) The birds are trying to escape the extreme cold weather that we have been having this week in Southern California. (They are L.A. Birds who can't handle cold weather.)

2) The birds have heard about the massive bird die-offs that have happened this week in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Sweden. They are stressed about it and feel the urgency to go to church.

3) It’s God trying to get our attention, just as He did with His prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 17, by sending the ravens in. (When the man of God thought he was all alone in his serving and worshiping of God, God let him know otherwise by sending the Ravens to sustain him. Hmmm.)

There are many questions remaining...
What do the birds know that we don’t? What are they after? Why are they so intent on coming into the church during a time when so many people are apathetic about coming to church? What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen raven?

Whatever the case, I find it interesting (and entertaining) that these Ravens keep trying to come to church at Cornerstone. Since this didn't happen on a Sunday, perhaps they are Early Birds. Maybe we will begin to see people flock into the church as well – that would certainly be a welcome sight at C3.

Some people think that church is for the birds. However, in this case, it seems the birds are for the church.