How Much Does It Cost?

9.6.2020

Once upon a time I wanted a dog. Jacque reluctantly agreed.

We bought a Samoyed puppy and named him Sam…it stretched but didn’t break our budget.

 

Then we had to start buying dog food and heartworm medicine. Pay vet bills, a dog sitter when we traveled, repairs for the damage to furniture, and frequent carpet cleanings.

 

How much did Sam cost? Well…at least five to ten times more than we paid the pet store. If you flip that and calculate the money we would have gained had we invested all that outlay of cash…the cost only escalates exponentially.

 

Was he worth it? Well that depends who you ask…me or Jacque.

 

Regardless…we now both calculate the cost of things differently.

 

Jesus once urged us to calculate carefully the cost of our actions, endeavors and ambitions.

 

 

 

 

Go Wild

8.21.2020

Wildflowers just show up and spread grace and beauty.

 

Wildfires rage in and leave a wake of destruction in its path.

 

If you are going to go wild…let it be result in spender and not scorched earth.

 

 

 

 

There's a Lion in the Road

8.14.2020

Solomon once said this:

          The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets’.

And refuses to go out.

 

We see what we believe.

And what we believe shapes what we achieve.

 

So we’d better make sure that what we believe is truly believable.

 

 

 

Keep the Light On

8.7.2020

 

This Sunday Cypress will team up with Shiloh Church in St Louis du Nord, Haiti for worship. It’s going to be epic. 9:15 and 11 on Facebook Live and www.cypressmeadows.org

 

I can make a list, a long list of things that make me so proud to be a part of the Cypress Tribe.

Near the top that list is the school we have built in St Louis du Nord, Haiti and the 450+ children we are putting through school there.

These are kids for whom it’s you and me or it’s lights out.

Year after year you keep the light on.

 

Choose Wisely

7.31.2020

 

One of the more important decisions you will make in life is whether to walk away or fight harder.

The way you answer this question will shape both you and your future.

 

Thank You

7.24.2020

 

A man recently emailed me to tell me he has been joining us on-line and as a result…he has given his life to Jesus.

 

A young mom also emailed me to let me know the pandemic has caused her to search for God, her search led her to Cypress online, and we introduced her to Jesus.

Buckle Up
7.17.2020

On my last commercial plane ride the pilot said we were to keep our seat belts buckled in case we hit any unexpected turbulence.

I thought…hmmm, he must expect we will experience unexpected turbulence. So buckle up.

 

It’s July and it is not the July that I or any of us expected when we entered 2020.

I expected to be in France celebrating 40 years of marriage with my Jacque.

An unexpected pandemic meant we brought a little France to Safety Harbor.

 

Life if full of the unexpected.

Perhaps this is why the One I follow said we should not worry about tomorrow.

For tomorrow has enough of its own unexpected.

So instead expect that God and His grace will be all you will need…so buckle up in grace.

To The Last Drop
7.3.2020

Greetings from the heartland of America. By the time you read this Jacque and I will be somewhere on our journey back to Safety Harbor.

We were able to be with and support my Mom through her heart procedure and she is doing well...Yay God! Yesterday we sat at her kitchen table and culled through boxes of old photos. A lifetime of memories that warmed our souls. Last night we discussed her and dad’s wishes for the future and what they will one day leave behind. Today I am a little emotionally pensive from it all.

This Sunday Jacque and I celebrate forty years of marriage. Forty years of creating the life we once dreamed about as a young couple.

I think it was John Lennon who is credited with saying: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”. 

 

James the brother of Jesus said it like this: “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a must that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

 

Drink in the life Jesus gives...to the last drop. 

Greetings from the heartland of America. By the time you read this Jacque and I will be somewhere on our journey back to Safety Harbor.

 

All Masked Up
6.26.2020

I’m sitting under a big shade tree in Nebraska as I hammer away on my trusty IPhone.

 

After a lot of thought and conversation weighing the benefits and risks, Jacque and I hopped on a plane all masked and lathered up in hand sanitizer. My Mom had a heart procedure this week and we made the decision to make the trip. Interestingly there are some places we won’t drive 10 minutes to be a part of something in this pandemic but we board a plane and fly half way across the country?

 

Maybe it was the fact my parents are well into their senior years, maybe it was the emotion I still feel from the recent death of a friend or maybe it’s just plain ole love. I don’t know. I just know life is short and the love I have for mom is precious. (Jacque thinks I’m still a bit of a momma’s boy...but what does she know.)

 

Cases are still rising in Florida so stay careful and smart but find ways to stay connected. We need each other now more than ever.

Longest Day of the Year
6.19.2020

Greetings from my back patio. Today is the last day of spring 2020 and I’m determined to make the most of it. So with a couple of fans blowing on me I’m working away on things for our Cypress Tribe…as I think of you all.

 

So if today is the last day of spring then that makes tomorrow not only the first day of summer…but also the longest day of the year. From tomorrow on the days will slowly but surely get shorter and shorter until winter solstice on December 21st. Then the rhythm changes again as our planet moves in its orbit around the sun. It is a great reminder to me at this moment…nothing on this planet lasts forever, including this pandemic we are in and all the social restrictions around it. It has been four months of restrictions but in so many ways it feels much longer. It would be much easier to go through this time if we could just mark a day on the calendar when this season of COVID-19 will end. But alas. So I remind myself…this too shall pass and God will give us the grace to come out better and stronger. We are followers of Jesus, which means we face uncertainty with the certainty that God always gives us the grace we need to face whatever comes our way.

 

 

A Part of the Solution or the Problem
6.12.2020

Sunday at Cypress On-line Stefan Van Voorst and I had a conversation about race, justice and love. And I want to thank the whole Cypress tribe for being a people that expects we will address issues in our culture and society and do so from the perspective of our faith in Jesus.


We are a diverse group at Cypress…politically, economically, socially and racially. Yet what unites us is our faith in Jesus. Love, the love we have experienced in Jesus and He has placed in our hearts is what makes us one. The larger culture we live in does not share in this world view and so we live in a world…a society that is divided. The voice of culture can be loud and convincing. The pressure to conform to a divided society can be forceful. So we must always remember who we are in Jesus and let love be our motivation and guide as we live and move in our culture. And we must not think the problems in this world are only the problems “out there”. We must all allow God to search our hearts to find the places where love does not reign in me…my thoughts, my words and my actions.


One of the things the One we follow said is “Blessed are the peacemakers”. Being a peacemaker calls for action. Saying we are not racist, or for justice, or believing in love in not enougLasth. Faith is made evidenced by action. Eldridge Cleaver said: “There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.”



Cypress Reopening Question
6.5.2020

We are celebrating the 39th anniversary of Cypress Meadows Community Church and we are here for our tribe and the world – today, tomorrow, and the day after that…and after that.

The question on everyone’s mind right now is when will we re-open for public services. And that question is on our minds because we have such love for each other in our hearts. There is an emotional connectivity that feels like it only sufficiently ignites when we are in the same space with those we are doing life with. And right now it feels like something precious is missing and being denied us, so there is an urgency to reassemble. Yet as one of our elders said, when there is pressure and perceived urgency…it presents itself as an opportunity to get quiet and curious. Then ask questions like: “What is this all about and am I making the best decisions for the right reasons? What is the wise and loving thing to do?”

One of our core values is inclusivity and so at this time we will not reopen and then have to pre-ticket entrance and thus deny some people access because of limited seating due to maintaining a six foot distance.

At this time, we will not reopen knowing the very dynamics will discourage families with small children from attending for lack of childcare and discourage attendance of those with compromised immune systems or those in the age demographic most vulnerable to the lethal impact of COVID-19. These people are a part of our tribe. Those we love, care about and do life with.

We realize other churches may see things differently and that is fine. We must do what is right for our tribe, our culture and our values.

Our elders will continue to pray, listen to voices of expertise, and make decisions based on wisdom and love. The matter will be reassessed on July 1 and with transparency and expediency provide an update.

We know the heart of Cypress and we all long for the same thing…for us all to be in the same space again. Until then we will continue to hold services online only. If it works for you and you can safely do so according to CDC guidelines and state recommendations, you may consider gathering with a few others in a home or back patio and be a part of the Sunday online service together.

We are Cypress – a tribe of faith, hope and love. And we are not going anywhere. We will be together again in the same space.

The Best Way to Get to Where You Want to Be
5.28.2020

The perfect solution? A yellow brick road? A sign?

What are you waiting for?

 

Maybe this is why you are where you are…and not where you want to be.

The best way to get to where you want to be is to start.

You may have to do some course correcting along the way but at least you are moving and have a north star for navigation.

Starting without seeing the end is difficult. But isn’t that what the ancients called faith?

The Ocean is Made of Drops
5.22.2020

A walk begins with one step.

A relationship starts to change with one apology.

A spiritual journey is launched with one prayer.

 

A room has it temperature raised with one smile.

A child has their value affirmed with one look of love.

A human has their soul centered with one hour spent in silence and solitude before our Lord.

 

Oh the power of one, after one, after one.

 

By the way…the ocean is made of drops.

Just a Little Sarcasm
5.15.2020

Day 45 of “Safer at Home”.

So we don’t go to restaurants, movies, or the theatre.

We stayed home for spring break.

And the kids are not signed up for summer camp.


Sounds like my childhood and I had to walk to school…uphill both ways…in the snow.




You, Me & Jesus
5.8.2020

Check out the wrist cord in the picture.

 

Last weekend I spoke of how with the right people in our lives we can mutually elevate each other above the circumstances of life. The kind of people wise old Solomon said build you up, pick you up, warm you up, and back you up. He concluded his words by saying a relationship with someone like that intertwined with a relationship with the Lord is like unto a cord of three strands that is just about unbreakable.

 

With that in mind I have a gift I’d like to get to you and everyone in the Cypress Tribe: a cord of three strands. Sometimes symbols can be powerful reminders of life shaping realities that make us better and stronger when we live in the light of them. This is one of them for me. I really do better when I remember whatever comes my way…you, me and Jesus have got this. So with a little help from a friend, I have a bunch of cords of three strands that have been fashioned to be worn around your wrist. They are adjustable so one size fits all!

 

Routines or Ruts
5.1.2020

Change or become irrelevant.

 

I like my rhythms and routines.

The restrictions surrounding the pandemic we are in has totally messed with when and how I do things.

My hand has been forced.

I have had to find different ways of connecting, communicating, and conducting services.

This old dog is learning new tricks.

We all are learning different ways to shop, educate our kids, and be the church.

Different can create some awkwardness, stress and uncertainty until different becomes routine.

Sometimes different is not better or worse…it’s just different.

Some of the different is actually proving to be better.

Maybe it is a good thing my hand gets forced every now and then.

It reveals where my rhythms and routines have become ruts.

 

Change or become irrelevant.

Hi
4.24.2020

 

Jacque and I have been missing you all like crazy this week. Maybe it’s that we have had three deaths in the Cypress Tribe in the last three weeks and we feel such a loss; maybe it’s that we are so ready for the social isolation to be over and be with others; maybe it’s that we are realizing just how deeply we love and need our tribe...or maybe it’s all of the above.

Regardless...I’d like you to know, you’re loved and missed.

Today
4.17.2020 

Today is a day of some mixed emotion.

Today a grandson is to be born who will carry my name.

Today I lead the funeral of a beloved friend.

Today I cry tears of joy and tears of pain.


COVID-19 has changed the way we are living.

It has not changed the things that make life worth living.





A "Different" Different
4.3.2020

Dear Cypress Tribe,


We’re entering into Holy Week.


A part of what makes Holy Week so special and beautiful is that it is different than the other 51 weeks of the year for me.


I have a different rhythm, a different focus and a different schedule in this week set aside for reflection on the death and resurrection of Jesus.


This year it will be a “different” different for me and us all.


Made different by the isolation and social distancing of COVID-19 restrictions which means we will still be remembering on Good Friday and we’ll still be celebrating on Easter...it will just be a “different” different.


Instead of gathering in the outside amphitheater on Good Friday we’ll be in our homes all over the Tampa Bay area.


And instead of filling our auditorium with celebration on Easter morning, we’ll fill our family rooms with the sounds of joy.


 Holy Week will still be a different week…it will just be a “different” different.





Human After All
3.27.2020

Take care of yourself these days.

Not as in self-indulgence but as in self-preservation.

This current crisis is stressful, uncertain and is weighing heavy on us all. You are a human after all…not a machine. We all have limits, maybe its time to stop pushing them. Such never seems to end well.

 

Sit outside and read a book

Go for a walk in or by nature somewhere

Observe a “news fast” (being up to the minute is a trap and a scam…five minutes a day is about all you need)

Meditate on Psalm 23 (Isaiah 41:10 & 13; Isaiah 43:1-4; Psalm 46)

Call someone who needs more encouragement than you

Watch some hilarious videos on YouTube and laugh out loud

Pump some of your favorite music

Start a friend gathering on “zoom”

Eat some bananas, berries, complex carbs, nuts and some good protein.

Join the Cypress Tribe Online: Facebook Live/cypressmeadows.org  Sunday’s @ 9:15 & 11 and Cypress Café Nite Online – Wednesday’s @ 7PM

 

Now, my Jacque would also add: Watch Hallmark…but sorry “cherie” it simply did not make the top ten list. She does want you to know however, that you are loved and missed.

 

The Lonliest Number
3.20.2020

“One is the loneliest number…” so sang Three Dog Night back in the day.

 

Simply put we were not created to do life alone. With healthy connection comes encouragement, perspective, and vitality of life. It is oxygen for the soul. Without it we quickly feel our soul suffocating and gasping for air.

 

So how will the Cypress Tribe stay connected in this time of social distancing, quarantines, and talk of lock-downs?

. Our Sunday services (9:15 & 11) will stream on Facebook Live as well as on the Cypress web page. And then they will stay up in both locations. Immediately after the services we will open “Cypress Patio On-Line” an on-line chat room for you to engage with other members of our tribe. Click here to join: https://facebook.com/groups/onlinepatio/ 

 

. Each Wednesday evening my Jacque will host “Café Nite On-line” where you can join in virtually with others for some connection, support and a little boost for your soul. Click here to join: https://cypressmeadows.org/cafe/

 

. Once a week everyone in the Cypress Tribe will receive a check-in phone call from the Cypress Care Team.

 

. I will send out regular “Respite Moments” video chats via Facebook and Instagram

 

. The Tuesday e-newsletter will go out along with my weekly Friday e-note.

 

Jacque and I will miss greeting you at the Cypress front door this Sunday. She has asked me to send you her love.

 

Cypress Response to COVID-19

3.13.2020

I’d like to give you some information on the steps we are taking at Cypress in response to the issue that has the attention of the world at this moment in time…coronavirus (COVID-19).

 

Our elders have prioritized two things:

The health and well-being of our Cypress Tribe

Being a voice of hope and faith in the midst of fear and uncertainty

 

With these priorities in place, we will continue to make decisions about Cypress gatherings which are well informed and demonstrate courage.

 

At this point in time, in our county of almost one million people, there have been two known and reported cases. Not to say this doesn’t deserve our attention and should not be taken seriously as we have seen else where in the world, things can change and change quickly. Our facilities are being professionally cleaned each week and we are providing hand sanitizer stations around our campus. And when communion is served (on Good Friday) the elements will be in a pre-packaged form during this time rather than in open trays. 

 

We currently plan on continuing to offer our full slate of worship services and gathering opportunities and will do so unless mandated otherwise by governing authorities or our Elders determine that such is in the best interests of the people of Cypress. If you have been advised by your physician to avoid social contact due to a compromised immune system (or if you have made that choice for yourself) then please avail yourself to watching the 11 AM Sunday service on Facebook Live. And if you are not feeling well or showing flu-like symptoms then for the sake of others please also watch the service from home on Facebook Live.

 

With all the cable TV talk, social media posts, and coffee shop theory-mongering going on it can be hard to know who to listen to and how to best respond. If you are interested in some reliable information you can read the briefing from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html

 

Let’s be a voice of hope and grace at this time when hope and grace are so needed.

 

All this said, wheels were set in motion over a month ago for us to send out direct mail pieces to 9000 homes inviting them to Cypress for Easter. So well communities speak of “social distancing” they will receive a “come on in” invite from us…how is that for interesting timing? As one of our elders said: “Maybe it’s perfect timing…we’re drowning in bad news these days, I think this mailer will cause people to either step in at Cypress or watch us online and it will be just the good news they need to hear.”

Trust Me? Trust You?

3.6.2020

It’s often hard to win...but easy to lose.

It builds slow...but can fall apart fast.


It gets proven more in the hard times than in the easy.

It is seen in what you do and not in what you say.


With it you can weather the storm.

Without it storms are created.


It...is trust.

And it is foundational to any and every relationship.

The Secret Sauce

2.28.2020

Whatever the secret sauce is for great relationships…encouragement is one of the ingredients.

 

When six people split a pot of spaghetti some self-interest appears. For after all, more for me means less for the other five.

 

But in the elements of the construct of human relationships there isn’t a zero-sum game being played. In fact the more grace, encouragement,  and energy exchanged…the more there is for everyone.

 

There is no need be stingy and save up encouragement for just the right moment and just the right person. You can be recklessly generous with encouragement. It not only automatically replenishes itself, it does so by a factor of ten.

Cafe Nite

2.21.20

Last fall you and a few others of the Cypress Tribe joined Jacque and I for an evening together in our home. We had some mouth watering deserts, made some new connections, and joined in a conversation around a teaching of Jesus. All in all, we felt like it was a great night and the responses we received to the gathering only echoed the same. Thanks again for stepping into our home with us.

 

Now we’d like to invite you to join us in an expanded version of that night. Beginning next Wednesday night (Feb. 26) and running until Easter, Jacque and I are hosting Café Nite on Wednesday evenings from 7-8:30 in Studio 4:12. We’ll join in the wonderful gift of connection and community and offer the same to the rest of our tribe. (It’s not necessary that you make every week…but consistency always helps with connection.)

 

We discover God’s grace, belonging and hope when we connect with others. Now please help us give this gift to others.

Beautifully Weary

2.14.20

Today I am weary…but it’s a beautiful weary. Earlier this week I returned from a trip to St Louis du Nord, Haiti. We were an eclectic mix of dentists, oral surgeons, an educator, a real estate saleswoman and a pastor. Over 500 children and adults received dental care; the teachers of Shiloh school were given a day of training; sponsored students had their picture taken; and I spoke to 800 people about the One whose love inspired the whole thing…Jesus.

 

As we were checking in at TIA an airline agent asked about the reason for our group’s visit to Haiti. When we replied dental…she said wow why are you making all this effort and expense to go there when you could just drive over the county line and help some needy kids.

 

Anybody can be a critic. But the good news is anybody can also make the world a better place. You choose. And by the way, anytime you step up to do good…a critic will step in with some kind of comment. But do good anyway.

Blind Spot

2.6.2020

If I have one, then by definition, I'm blind to it.  So how do I know if I have one?  Usually someone else must help me see what I cannot see.  And usually this means I have to be open to and want someone to speak truth to me.

 

We see what we want to see.

 

We Get What We Build

1.30.2020

The health, stability, and longevity of any relationship or group is directly related to the way people chose to treat each other.

 

When enough decide to become takers, enrich themselves, or find advantage…the esprit de corps is weakened.

 

When respect, concern and benefit flow mutually…everyone wins.

 

The tribe we get is the tribe we build.

 

Waiting vs. Going

1.23.2020

Do you wait until you are really buff to go to the gym…or do you get toned as you go?

Do you wait until you are fluent to speak a new language…or do you learn by verbalizing and stumbling over the words?

And do wait until you can swim before entering the pool…or do you get in and learn as you go?

 

Most things happen as you go, not as you wait. Go.

 

Think Cookies

1.17.2020

No one liked the cookies.

Options:

Serve the cookies on a nicer platter next time

Offer coffee, tea or milk on the side

Change the recipe

 

What is it we get about cookies but we don’t get about life?

I Am or I Have

1.10.2020

Ever think about how we talk about fear?

 

We say: “I am afraid”, as if it is a part of our identity or the essence of who we are.

We don’t say: “I am a fever” or “I am a headache” because we know it is only a temporary condition…something we have but not something we are.

 

“Right now I have a fear” is a lot different than “I am afraid”.

New

1.3.2020

Old habits just bring more of the same old things.

New things call for new habits.

 

Old habits die hard.

New ones seem hard to establish.

 

Your future depends on finding and building new ones.

Your future…your decision.

Toss, Keep, Donate

12.27.2019

One of the projects Jacque and I are tackling over Christmas break is our garage.

Reorganizing, decluttering and a fresh painting.

We’re using the “toss, keep, donate” system.

Sometimes what’s good for the garage is also good for the soul.

Less Than a Second

12.13.2019

‘With in a split second of meeting someone they will make determinations about your IQ and social standing based entirely on your appearance’ said the article I read this week on how we humans perceive each other.

 

Isn’t it amazing how we make lasting judgements based on the smallest of clues?

 

I’ve been told that people visiting a church will decide within the first two minutes whether or not they will come back. Apparently what we experience on the surface also shapes our evaluation of the substance.

 

What is that old saying…”You never get a second chance to make a first impression”.

What's In A Name

12.6.2019

Sneakers; Kicks; Heels; Moccasins; Loafers; Wingtips. 

 

So is a shoe by any other name…still a shoe?

 

Names give definition. And sometimes description. 

Some are safe. Some audacious. Some great. Some inane.

A few are given. Others are earned. (Be oh so careful and wise with both.)

 

So what’s in a name? 

A Beautiful Mess

11.29.2019

What a mess. What a mess we have been in for the last two months. Stabilizing our building created a rip roaring mess of dirt, dust and mud inside and out. It left us with damaged walls, floors, sidewalks and a devastated patio. Construction machinery, equipment and supplies have been blocking off our parking. Constant drilling, pounding, yelling and the noise of machinery has made it hard to concentrate. I keep reminding myself: this mess is being transformed into something beautiful…this mess is being transformed into something beautiful.

Maybe it’s a good visual for what is happening to the lives inside our building. Someone one said: “We are all hypocrites in transition. I am not who I want to be, but I am on a journey there, and thankfully I’m not who I used to be”. So, yes we are a bit messy…but it’s a beautiful mess.

Thanks

11.22.2019

We are entering Thanksgiving week and I’m reminded how powerful gratitude is in the shaping of who we are and how we live. It has been said that gratitude transforms your whole perspective about life. It will change the way you see the future, experience the present and remember the past. And for the better by the way. Which I’m sure is why the Apostle said we should “devote ourselves to being thankful” (Col.4:2).

So let me express how grateful Jacque and I are for you, the Cypress Tribe. Your love, grace, and acceptance give us a place where we can not just belong…but thrive. A place where our lives are a part of something beautiful and way bigger than ourselves. Thank you.