FullSizeRender-3They remind me of Twinkies.  I hope that isn’t an insult.  Health choices aside, Twinkies were a favorite treat when I was a kid.  They tasted great, smelled great, never got wasted and were like a reward for finishing my bag lunch.

Now, add eyes or eye, inject a massive amount of personality, add a generous dose of mischievousness and the collection of movie screen characters is born.  Bib overalls give them a personality that is lovable.  Goggles over a pair or cyclops eye is adorable.

Feed in a sound track for their fast talking completely non-understandable dialogue but let interpretive gestures and episode contexts give meaning then something magical happens.  I can’t forget the laughing.  When the minions chuckle, I chuckle with them.

Despicable Me movies add charm to this supporting cast of wonderful movie background supporting characters.  I do love it when they laugh.  Smiling is a natural reaction.

There have been an abundance of trailers for the Minion Movie.  But, it is one thing to be a hit as a supporting actor or cast.  It is totally another thing to be the star.

Most animated movies leave a lot to be desired.  Even when the highly appealing trio of Bob, Kevin and Stuart lead the way.  Maybe the critics will win me over this time.  They are not kind about the movie.

For the time being I will be content to have snuggled up to the trio of Minions during one their promotional trailers.  I got down to their level and could only smile.  You must be a Minion fan too, right?  Are you going to see the movie?

GProCongress Flyer

There is going to be an amazing gathering in Bangkok, Thailand in June 2016.  Pastors and those who train pastors around the world will gather for a world wide congress focused on training pastors in countries that are underserved with quality pastoral training.  Many of these are some of the poorer countries of the world.

If you know someone who is burdened for some of these countries or a specific country and would love to see pastors better trained to lead churches, advocate for the lives of the oppressed and serve those who have very few options for living a fulfilling life, then take a look at this flyer and pass it on to those you know.

Pastors who attend will undoubtedly make new colleagues from their own country and return home with a network of support and cheer.  Others who are desirous of training pastors will find new avenues to apply their skills and trades.  Come, send or encourage.  This will be a catalytic event in the lives of God’s appointed shepherds around the world.

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I stopped and looked at the gorgeous morning of a new work week.  It was Monday and my responsibilities were piled high in my computer inbox.  But, I stacked the deck in my favor before the diligent work began.

First, I hopped on my bicycle and wheeled through my neighborhood.  The temperatures at 630AM are welcoming and pleasant.  Meteorologists predicted that the warmer weather would grip our city with 100 degrees in a matter of hours.

Right now just as the sun is climbing its perch to scorch our city, I was taking in the 71 degrees and allowing my legs to burn off some energy and get my blood circulating freely.  My lungs were inviting me to stretch their capacity.  Keeping ahead of all of the physical limits was my smoothly beating heart.

Houston never allows a July morning to be anything but predictable.  Humidity was stripping away the ease to breathe and feel cool.  Sticky weather was starting to fill up every cubic foot of air space.

Sweat was pouring down my face.  It dripped off of my chin soaking my helmet strap.  A good spot lay ahead and I paused to rehydrate.

Now, the sun was making its grand appearance.  It was a welcome sight this early in the morning.  The quiet pool reflected the light and enhanced the beauty of trees, shadows and puddles in the pond made by hungry fish looking for breakfast.

Tranquility and peace marked this stop.  Cool water reinvigorated my tired body.  But, this was home, my neighborhood.

A smile crept across my face.  For a brief moment, although surrounded by thousands of neighbors and even more commuters getting ready to flood the streets, I was alone.  Serenity was mine to claim and I was relishing in the thrill.

I climbed aboard my road bike, wiped the sweat from my brow, checked my time and knew that I could easily make it home for a shower and then the commute to the office.  God had reminded me that when I take a moment to reflect a His good Word that I had read before my ride, let Him hear my personal worship on the road and relished in what He would privilege me in doing in the hours ahead, then the day, even a Monday, was going to be a grand day.  Do you like Mondays?

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

FullSizeRenderThousands of visitors crowded on to the grounds that served as the entryway to one of the Northwest’s most popular tourist destinations: Multnomah Falls.  East of Portland, the city of many bridges, “Rip City”, “Little San Francisco” or other popular monikers, roughly forty minutes down the beautiful Interstate 84, there is a left exit to the parking lot.

It was time to do what we did when we lived in Oregon for twenty years.  Natural shade and misting waters from cold waterfalls popped into our minds.  The drive was fast, short and easy.  Just like many visits when we were locals, now we repeated the familiar journey as tourists.

When we emerged from the pedestrian tunnel, clearly this idea to escape the city heat was shared by many people.  Every piece of shade was crowded with people clutching snow cones, ice cream and heavily iced beverages.  The creek that followed the trail had little children splashing in the clear shallow refreshing water.

But, the real draw is beyond people.  People-watching is fun but something far more fascinating is waiting for any and all who stop at this destination.  Drinking in the natural beauty of this “wide-spot on the road” is beyond memorable.

The sound of water crashing after a tall drop telegraphs the presence of a water feature.  When God carved out the steep cliffs of this mountain side, He knew He was creating a chance for many waterfalls to be formed.  He really took some extra time to make this place special.

My steps on the main trail stopped. I looked up and saw the falls through the trees.  Wonderful!

Cradled in the Douglas Fir trees, the mighty Multnomah Falls sent thousands of gallons of water pouring over the cliff.  The cascading water takes two jumps.  The first step is a 542 foot drop while the second is 69 feet.

Statistics aside, these falls always bring relief from the unrelenting heat of the summer days.  The sun takes its toll on uncovered heads, but if a pilgrim finishes the short walk into the shade of the forest, the cool mist from the never-ending falls feels like a refreshment from the heavens.  The power of gravity and the thunderous sound of crashing waters adds to the wonder of this special place.  Relief and refreshment from this divinely creative design has blessed many heat weary traveler.

Do you have favorite spots to escape the heat?

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

IMG_2958My life has officially registered decades of revolutions around the sun.  In the my mind I am experienced with life and wise to a shyster.  My heart is guarded, calloused from the past episodes of friction from undesirable lives.

Yet, in the presence of an innocent life, I am shockingly vulnerable.  She cannot even utter a single syllable that is understandable.  There is no talent or skill or knowledge that would endear her to my field of expertise.

Any sound that she makes is unintelligible.  When I speak to her she shows no interest or awareness of what I am saying.  She has no connection with titles, position, education or achievement.

No, this is not a case of disrespect.  There is no arrogance on her part.  Nor does she hold to a contrasting political or values position.

She is my granddaughter.  This summer she was born and as I held her in my arms she was a mere two weeks old.  That is a legitimate reason for her detachment from any words that I was using.

Nevertheless, while she not winning any debate or nudging me off-balance with her arguments or mesmerizing me with a well-formed speeches she did already have me wrapped around her little finger.  Maybe it is a good thing that she was able to utter a conversation that was understandable. Whatever she could have or would have asked I would have granted it or worked to make it happen.  That is the power of love, a love that melts the heart of a grandfather.

Her older brother is two years old.  He was the first newborn that competed for my heart and won it easily as well.  Now, he is old enough to affectionately hug me, run into my arms and cuddle with me when he wants a moment.  He prepared me for the “Grandparent-effect”.

I wondered when I held him in my arms as I am still wondering while I hold his sister in my arms.  How is it that I can melt into a love bonding so fast, so deeply with a human being with whom I have not even had one single understandable conversation?

It is inexplicable.  This is a phenomenon that defies explanation or reason.  Yet, I love it, embrace it and completely welcome it into my life.

Are you blessed with such innocent love?  Have you ever tried to explain it but given up and just surrendered to it?  Is it so wonderful forever?

photo credit: fong-bailey cellphone photography

FullSizeRender-4In the high-pressure major-responsibility career that I am living I have grabbed on to a few activities where my mind can detach from the weight of leadership.  One of those relief moments was climbing aboard the Silver Dragon and roaring down the pavement of a quiet road.  But the days of motorcycle riding have come to a close in my life.

The harnessed power of a powerful 1600cc 70hp perfectly blended highly tuned machine was as slick a ride as I have ever enjoyed.  It felt good, looked great and handled like a professionally trained quarter horse handling range chores. A simple twist of the throttle and the ribbon of asphalt would turn into a blur under my feet.

I remember long rides in the beautiful state of Michigan that soothed my soul.  Good friends would share a day ride or an annual pilgrimage to a distant destination to fill up our memory albums and deepen our friendships.  Facing threatening storms, surprised by stunning vistas and laughing over silly adventures bonded us for life.

The entire United States and Canada were fair game for our annual ride.  We would invest our personal vacation time and be drawn toward adventures with good friends.  Cameras were a must to record great stops and memorable introductions to places that others could only dream.

It was the open road and the constant testimony of God’s creation that enveloped each of us into His watchful care.  Safe miles and final destinations marked each year with splendid rides and moments of serenity from demanding jobs.  Motorcycling was a sheer delight.

Now, my doctors agree that my body can no longer safely negotiate the rigors of motorcycle riding.  Even if these learned physicians did not collectively give me the diagnosis, my aching back reminds me each time I try to throw a leg over the saddle of my trusty stead.  When the traffic light turns read or a massive 18 wheeler slams on its brakes, my body wrenches in trained response but my back screams out in agony.

The Silver Dragon has been a fantastic ride since 2007.  It was my dream bike.  Each time that I polished this gleaming combination of glistening paint and generous chrome, I sensed the joy and pride of ownership.

She made me proud.  Each ride filled me with satisfaction. Our friends along the way will always be buddies for life.Thank you and farewell, good machine.  May your future miles be smooth.

Have you ever had to say such a sad farewell to something so special? Life moves on and sometimes we have to simply accept that seasons come to an end, don’t we?

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

10659299_1484825341773231_7789587565489362610_nFaith Bible Church has called its next pastor.  He will be able to begin shepherding this wonderful group of believers in a couple of months.  In the mean time someone needs to help the church family prepare to welcome and follow their new shepherd.  That is the role of an interim pastor has been given to me.

This congregation in Spring,Texas has called me to be their Interim Pastor.  I relish the privilege and look forward to being their temporary pastor.  My job is to preach the Word, love the people and prepare them to cheer on their new pastor.  He will bolster God’s vision for the church..

Preaching is key.  I will open up the Bible each Sunday and consistently give these Christians a straight message from God’s Word.  Practical application consistent with His message will be the steady diet that all of us at FBC will feast on each Lord’s Day.

The church family gave their new pastor a 100% affirmation during the call.  That is such a thrill for the new pastor as he changes his job to take on the role of shepherding this special group of people.  A great celebration is on the horizon.

In the mean time I take over the helm for the interim time.  My job will be to prepare the people to be shepherded again.  Leadership, vision, encouragement and a clear clarion call will be a part of my responsibility.

Pastors love to love their people.  They want to nourish their people with excellent teaching from the Word of God.  Each Sunday the people want to look forward to coming and hearing a challenge from the Scripture and practical ways to navigate life through the trials and tribulations of a daily routine.

I will get them used to this kind of oversight in the next couple of months.  From the Word I will remind them of how a pastor’s heart soars when the people receive the Word with enthusiasm.  They will impact the joy of the pastor and his family far more than they have ever suspected.

When they smile and take notes, the pastor is encouraged in his preaching.  As people in the congregation grow spiritually, their pastor will be motivated to serve with joy and enthusiasm.  When the people bring guests, their pastor will marvel at God’s favor on the congregation.  Is this the picture that you had of an Interim Pastor?

photo credit: www.faithbiblespring.org cover photo

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Financial investors know how important it is to start saving and placing those precious finances into income-earning locations.  Parents and grandparents know how important it is to invest as well.  They start young lives with the joy of reading.  Books introduce the world of imagination, learning and life about the world in which they will live.

My first grandchild is two this year.  As the day drew to a close and washing up had been completed, he gathered his blanket and an armful of books and ran into my arms, climbed into my lap, curled up so that he was comfortable and then he pointed to his books, gesturing for me to read to him.

He buried himself deeper into my hug.  I picked up the top book and opened it up to the first page.  These board books are fun to read.

Colorful characters and simple stories with clad truths make it fun.  Even though I have never read these books, it was easy to put in a lot of expression and emphasis.  The meaning of the lesson became more and more clear as I read to my grandson.

There were easy moments for me to ask him to point to colors, animals and objects on the page.  He was participating and no doubt learning while he snuggled in my embrace.  It was my first time in the role of grandfather reader.

I was relishing the moment.  This has been a dream to invest in these little lives this way.  I could introduce him to so many wonderful ideas and reenforce some of life’s most important values.

In brief well designed books, I taught my grandson about friendship, initiative, community, helpfulness and loyalty.  He learned about telling the truth, honesty and industry.  He will need these qualities when he lives his life among people who are not so helpful to others.

All during the reading I was thoroughly enjoying the cuddle moment.  My grandson curled up and tucked himself in a comfortable position, inside Grandpa’s embrace.  It was a special moment.

He is young but I hope that the love that we shared will always be a part of his life.  It will for me.  Reading and books and grandfather’s bonding time are treasures.

Did someone read to you in your childhood days?  Do you remember going to a library in your youth?  Classic novels probably still leave memory moments in your mind, right?

photo credit: KJB photography

IMG_5080There were too many close calls on my freeway commute this afternoon.  Each time a wild and crazy moment verged on turning into an emergency, my knuckles were white while my hands strangled the steering wheel.  I ripped one hand off the wheel to hit the horn.

While I was driving just under posted speeds, I noticed that the traffic up ahead was lighting up their brake lights.   I came up to the car in front of me just as it dramatically weaved to its right on to the shoulder of the interstate.  Appearing right in front of me and taking the entire lane was a riding zero-turn-radius mower.  My brakes groaned vigorously.  Thankfully, I dodged the blockage with a jump to the freeway shoulder.

Someone is going to be very surprised when they get to their destination and look into the back of their trailer.  While most of us who deftly sidestepped the obstacle found that thought humorous, I am sure that someone is going to be very sad.  At least that light thought made me regain my composure, return my blood pressure to normal and clear my head for the rest of my long drive back to my office.

The freeway split ahead with a gentle and wide opening for destinations north and south.  Good signage gave traffic plenty of time for merging into the correct lanes.  But, well-designed traffic patterns do not make up for distracted drivers who make decisions at the last-minute.

A pickup truck heavily laden with a bed full of construction equipment was lumbering along slowly, well below the posted speeds.  No doubt its slow speed was complicated by its payload. Just as I was approaching its driver abruptly pulled into my lane while his truck bobbed and weaved under it strained suspension.

I had to braked vigorously to keep from rear-ending him.  Traffic to my left was heavy preventing any quick lane change.  My horn was sounding the alarm of both an emergency situation and a very irritated driver.  When it was safe to pass him, he was hiding his face in embarrassment.  I was just trying to catch my breath and push my heart back into my chest.

Can you imagine how many close calls fill up all of our lives?  What do you think your guardian angel would say to you when recounting how many times we were protected on any given day?

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

2116161This is not just another major disaster film.  At first I was nervous that it would be and the loud music, sound effects would overshadow any human interest story.  Or I did not want to see a movie that portrayed a half a dozen lives of strangers suddenly thrown together and becoming friends after surviving a terrible ordeal.

My dubious skepticism was allayed from the start.  During the first fast-paced sequence, The Rock did not disappoint me.  That is when I concluded that this was NOT a disaster flick rather it was an action film.

Ok, I admit also that I am a Dwayne Johnson fan.  When a man can look fit, strong and act also, that is a winning combination.  He is an action film hero.

The opening scene is nitro.  Maneuvering a helicopter into a narrow ravine in order to rescue a girl trapped in a car that is about ready to plunge into the valley below is harrowing.  Yet, the “cool” in our hero’s demeanor sets the stage for the movie.

Special effects add to this sensational rescue.  It is a nail-biter and very satisfying.  Then, the real story starts.

Yes, the big screen gives you your money’s worth on the unforgettable scenes.  Those who know the city of San Francisco wrench with the destruction of favorite sites.  It adds to the personal nature of the film.

The common fear of the Central California region plays right into the hands of the movie director’s takes.  Intense moments are eased with family dynamics that are wonderfully portrayed by the talented cast.  Some times it is very clever dialogue.  At other times it is the interchange between and among the actors.

Rescue and close calls are all a part of this story.  Iconic views of the city give empathy.  Overcoming past demons gives strength for current obstacles.

Can an action star portray the deep devotion that pours out of a father’s soul?  Can a man stout with muscle and reputation let his love for a child be his drive?  Johnson did all of this in this film.

Carla Gugino was excellent.  Alexandra Daddario was perfect for her role.  Paul Giamatti was a winner.  Art Parkinson was a memorable feature.  Will Yun Lee showed great promise and was dispatched far too early.

It was a very entertaining film.  I liked it so much, it might be on the list to see again on the big screen theater.  What did you think?

photo credit: google image

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