Oct 20

Pray for America

pray for america

Please join Penngrove Community Church and the Vine Church of Petaluma
as we lift up our nation in prayer, especially as we face an election for
President, Senate, House of Representatives, State offices and propositions and local offices.

Our prayer meeting will take place
Sunday, Oct. 23, 6:00 PM
at the Vine Church of Petaluma
1129 Industrial Ave., Suite 208.

Other churches have been invited, but are unconfirmed. Feel free to invite praying friends.

John & Joanne Richards
Rev. Dave Weidlich
Rev. Roger Hoffman

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” – 2 Chronicles 7:13-15

Oct 18

Why Trump? If we don’t elect Trump, Hillary Clinton will be president.

“I may not deserve it,” said Donald Trump, speaking of Evangelical Christians supporting him for President. I agree with Trump on this.
But, I’m trying to understand why so many of my Christian friends are considering voting for him. Not most, but many. I’m talking about strong believers – who love God, read the Bible, pray and attend church. Here, I address the most common reason given by Evangelical Christians who are supporting Trump: He’s not Hillary Clinton.

If we don’t elect Trump, Hillary Clinton will be president.

Trump vs Clinton for PresidentAnd Bill Clinton will be “First Lady.”

Yes, we have a race between two undesirables. Both candidates have the highest “unfavorable” ratings in polls of any candidate for president in recent history.

But, while both candidates are deeply flawed, they are not equally flawed. Fact checkers have demonstrated that while both candidates exaggerate the truth and tell tall tales, Trump lies with far greater frequency than Hillary Clinton. Many of Trump’s statements are so ridiculous, it’s not even worth fact-checking them. Recently, he said in a debate/town hall that Hillary Clinton is “the devil.” During one week alone, September 15-21, Trump told so many lies, the New York Times gave up trying to fact check each one and settled for just the most outrageous: 31 Whoppers, including, Trump’s claim that he was against the Iraq invasion before it began and the double-whopper: “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.”

Hillary Clinton has her own problems with the truth. She lied about ducking sniper fire after landing in Bosnia, her email server containing classified documents, and famously claimed the attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi was motivated by an anti-Muslim video. Polls consistently show she is considered dishonest by most Americans: 67% say she is not honest compared with Trump’s 62% in a July poll.

There are many charges leveled against Hillary Clinton. The following are some of my considerations about the moral fitness of Hillary Clinton. I’m not looking at policies and positions on issues foreign or domestic. Just character issues.

She was accused and has admitted to improperly setting up her own email server in violation of government policy (not law), destroying 3,000 emails. These are serious charges. She (or her staff) covered up evidence and she lied and claimed not to remember much of anything about whether any emails were classified (not a novel defense). Maybe the Justice Department should have appointed a special prosecutor but they did not. After a thorough investigation by the FBI, Director James Comey recommended that no criminal charges be filed. The Justice Department still could have filed criminal charges, but decided the evidence did not warrant that. So, Hillary Clinton may be responsible for destroying 3,000 emails that were under subpoena. For perspective, the George W. Bush White House “lost” 22 million emails that were subpoenaed by Congress between 2003 and 2009.

Critics charge Hillary Clinton of failing to protect an ambassador and three other American workers in Benghazi, Libya. This may be a failure of her department’s competence and judgment, but it would not be a violation of law. This failure has been under closer inspection by congressional committees than the invasion of Iraq based on false evidence of weapons of mass destruction, which led to thousands of U.S. deaths and tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, including innocent citizens. But, the Secretary of State was not found guilty of anything more than failure to adequately protect the lives of those four Americans.

There is the appearance of impropriety with the Clinton Foundation perhaps providing access to foreign leaders that otherwise might not have the same access, but no evidence of violating the law.

There are other conspiracies that are unproven. Some, if they could be proven, would be ridiculous. For example, she is accused of defending a rapist early in her law career when she could not legally do otherwise. She did her job and her client pled guilty to a lesser charge. She was recorded, in a later interview, laughing about certain matters related to the case. Her accusers say she was laughing about the twelve year old victim of the crime. The context shows that is not true, but even if it was, it’s a giggle! One conspiracy suggests that Chelsea Clinton’s biological father is not Bill Clinton. No proof. If true, it would not a disqualification for office, at least not when judged next to a man who has children with at least three mothers and has boasted of cheating on his wives.

Other conspiracies are more serious and, if proven true, would be disqualifying. For example, there is the theory that Hillary Clinton was involved in the death of Vincent Foster, a friend whose death was ruled a suicide based on the evidence. Since our country is a nation of laws and we entrust criminal proof with the courts, there is nothing Hillary Clinton’s accusers can do but gossip.

She may feel entitled. She may not know what it’s like to be poor, black or middle class. She may feel that some groups of people are less worthy of her attention – a “basket of deplorables,” but we’re talking about how she might feel and the attitudes of her heart based on some unwise statements she has made. She has an “appetite for power,” an inordinate desire to be president. It’s hard for her to see her faults and apologize. She has flaws, but she is not as deeply impaired as her opponent.

The most vicious attacks condemn Hillary Clinton for failing to divorce or denounce her philandering husband (and this is often from traditional values voters who otherwise stand for traditional marriage!). She is accused of staying married to a cheater, but there is no evidence that she is a cheater. Again, she has not acted in violation of law.

There are no skeletons in the closet for Hillary Clinton. Her failures are well-known. Yes, she prefers privacy in family and personal matters. Nevertheless, her public service is public record. She has voluntarily released her taxes (where are Trump’s taxes?) She has been opposition-researched, investigated and interviewed more than any previous candidate. She has been found wanting, but not criminal. She has been found to be a sinner, but not unworthy of office.

No one doubts Hillary Clinton’s knowledge and experience in government. Trump has shown himself to be astoundingly illiterate in foreign affairs and is inexperienced in dealing with matters of government.

Hillary Clinton’s judgment and temperament have been tested and tried and she has, with few exceptions, shown grace and courage.

You wonder if all the vitriol directed at Hillary Clinton has something to do with the fact that she is a woman.

There is a whole genre of media talk shows dedicated to bringing the Clintons down (Limbaugh and Hannity are examples). Yet, she has not been found guilty of violating the law.

Donald Trump has demonstrated an astounding lack of knowledge, judgment and temperament required of an effective president. Trump’s supporters hope against all evidence that he will surround himself with knowledgeable and experienced advisors. If he has competent advisors, he is not listening to them. He boasts that he “knows more about ISIS than all the generals” and that he, himself, is his best advisor. He considers Russia’s murderous dictator, Vladimir Putin, an ally simply because Putin says nice things about him.

Trump is psychologically unstable and dangerous. He has an abnormal need to put his name on huge building projects and to see his image in newspapers, TV shows and Playboy videos. He judges women and girls by their appearance and men by their money. He seems incapable of showing humility or compassion.

Trump easily loses focus on the big picture in favor of viciously attacking his perceived enemies, like Rosie O’Donnell (in a debate!), journalists, newspapers and a judge of Mexican heritage. He has used the power of his wealth to harass people he doesn’t like. He threatens to shut down news outlets that he doesn’t like.

He has threatened to put his opponent in jail once he is president. He admires ruthless, murderous dictators like Vladimir Putin more than he admires the current president of the U.S. His disrespect for women and girls is documented in his own books as well as recordings from the Howard Stern show and the recently released 2005 recording of his conversation with Billy Bush on a bus in which he brags that he kisses and gropes women without their consent. Women are coming forward insisting that what Trump dismisses as “locker room talk” is also his practice.

Yes, both candidates for president are flawed, perhaps deeply flawed. But, they are not equally flawed. Hillary Clinton’s sins are minor league compared to Trump’s Big League flaws, failures and sins.

Previous posts – Why Trump?:

The Argument from Balaam’s Ass & We’re Not Electing a Sunday School Teacher

Who better to fix our government than one who has taken advantage of it?

The Presidency is 4 or maybe 8 Years; The Supreme Court is Forever


Note: The opinions expressed on this website are mine, informed by Scripture, reflection, discussion and prayer.
They may not be the views held by my church, which welcomes all, no matter how they vote, and takes no position on candidates or election issues.

Oct 15

Why Trump? The Presidency is 4 or maybe 8 Years; The Supreme Court is Forever

Part 3 in a series examining why many Evangelical Christians are voting for Donald Trump for president.

The Presidency is 4 or maybe 8 Years; The Supreme Court is Forever

The Supreme Court and Abortion

This is one of the top reasons Christian Trump supporters give for traditionally supporting the Republican Party and its presidential candidate in 2016. Currently, there is one vacancy and there could be three more in the next two presidential terms. Many Christians, including me, are concerned that the Supreme Court has gone too far in “legislating from the bench,” especially with regard to abortion and marriage. The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has undercut the states in regulating abortion and, recently, defining marriage. With a more liberal leaning court, there is the real danger that government would go farther in imposing gender confusion on our children and using hate speech laws to silence Christians.

So, the argument is that despite Trump’s immoral character, he is our best hope for preventing a further slide towards Sodom and Gomorrah.

I think the argument is best put forward by Eric Metaxes, a Christian author and historian. He wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal:

It’s a fact that if Hillary Clinton is elected, the country’s chance to have a Supreme Court that values the Constitution — and the genuine liberty and self-government for which millions have died — is gone. Not for four years, or eight, but forever. Many say Mr. Trump can’t be trusted to deliver on this score, but Mrs. Clinton certainly can be trusted in the opposite direction.

Here’s the logic:

  1. If we elect Trump as president, he may appoint conservative, pro-life and pro-traditional marriage judges, as he has promised.
  2. If the majority of SCOTUS judges are conservative, they might reverse Roe v. Wade and prevent the further slide.
  3. If that happens, Americans will be more moral. Unborn babies will be saved.

All things being equal, I would encourage Christians to vote for the presidential candidate who is more likely to appoint conservative judges and that is clearly Trump.

But all things are not equal. Trump’s moral degeneracy is unprecedented. His lifelong, demonstrated lust for money, sex and power represents everything that is antithetical to the Christian gospel. I know Hillary Clinton has bungled projects, lied about it and she is married to Bill Clinton (more about Hillary Clinton’s flaws in the next post). But when it comes to moral depravity, she is a minor leaguer. Trump is Big League.

But let’s lay aside the question of who is the worse person. I still have problems with the logic that we need Trump in order to have a conservative Supreme Court in order to have a more moral nation.

  1. I have little confidence that Trump will do what he has said (to evangelical audiences mainly) and appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court. When it comes to politicians, I look for actions, not just words. In his seventy years on this earth, he has shown nothing to convince me that he is pro-life or pro-traditional marriage. Just the opposite. He is three-times married and has confessed, even bragged about cheating on his wives. There is no record of any donations to pro-life causes. There is no record of volunteering at pregnancy centers or pro-life events. Aside from recent professions that he has converted to pro-life politics, what do we have to assure us?
  2. I am not convinced that a conservative Supreme Court would reverse Roe v. Wade. We had a conservative majority Supreme Court until the death of Justice Scalia this year and they did not reverse Roe v. Wade. Granted, the court was not decidedly conservative. That’s because two Republican appointed judges did not turn out to be as conservative as expected. David Souter (appointed by GHW Bush) turned out to vote liberal on social issues and Anthony Kennedy (appointed by Ronald Reagan) could not be counted on to vote conservatively. Recent GW Bush appointee Alito has shown that he respects precedent and so would not overturn Roe v. Wade. As for marriage equality, that ship has sailed. Gay and lesbian marriage has widespread support in the U.S. now and though the court should not take public opinion into account, clearly they do consider how disruptive their decisions might be.
  3. I do not believe we should count on the Supreme Court to stem the tide of the sexual revolution and make us a more moral nation. They can’t change our hearts. Government sets the minimal expectations. Our government can penalize murder, but they can’t make us love one another. In this way, churches and schools have more power than the courts.

As for abortion, we have seen fewer abortions in each of the last eight years and that is without any help from the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily because we’re more moral either. The reduction of abortions is more likely attributed to the widespread availability and use of birth control. The point is abortions are down and it’s no thanks to the Supreme Court.

Eric Sapp wrote an article for the Christian Post saying if you want a reduction in abortions you should vote for Hillary Clinton. Yes, pro-choice Hillary Clinton. Here’s why:

Abortions rose steadily during the tenure of the first “pro-life” Republican President, Ronald Reagan. They reached their highest level under President H. W. Bush. Abortions then dropped dramatically under President Clinton, falling to 60% of the high under his pro-life Republican predecessor. That downward trend stalled during most of President W. Bush’s tenure, and remained basically flat until the final two years of his term when Democrats retook Congress. And then abortions plunged again under Obama, falling to their lowest point in 40 years.

Compelling data for sure, but Presidents often have to deal with Congress and the Supreme Court … which is why President George W. Bush’s tenure is so informative. Under Bush, Republicans controlled the House and Senate, and 2/3 of the Supreme Court. Bush had sky-high public approval following 9-11, and he and Congressional Republicans owed their 2004 re-election to the overwhelming support from church-going evangelicals and Catholics. And what did Republicans do to overturn Roe or in any meaningful way limit abortion? Nothing. (The Christian Post, Oct. 3, 2016)

Though the Supreme Court could conceivably reverse Obergefell v. Hodges, states could still allow lesbian and gay marriage and many states have done so and most others probably would. Besides, no matter what the Supreme Court or state courts decide, people are going to have sex with whomever they want.

But, for the sake of argument, what if we can believe that Trump can and will fulfill his promises to remake the Supreme Court in a conservative way? Is it worth sacrificing one branch of government to save another? I would say the Presidential branch is far more influential and important than the courts.

Previous Posts:

Why Trump? God can use anybody; he used a harlot and we’re not electing a Sunday School Teacher

Who better to fix our government than one who has taken advantage of it?


The Number One Reason Why Many Evangelicals Are Voting for Trump: Hillary Clinton

Note: The opinions expressed on this website are mine, informed by Scripture, reflection, discussion and prayer.
They may not be the views held by my church, which welcomes all, no matter how they vote, and takes no position on candidates or election issues.


Oct 15

“Who better to fix our government than one who has taken advantage of it?”

I’m trying to understand why many of my friends and family members are supporting Donald Trump for President. Here, I address a reason given by many Trump supporters, including Evangelicals for Trump.

“Who better to fix our broken government than one who has taken advantage of the government with campaign donations and exploiting tax loopholes?”

Trump Timeshare Hotel Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS, NV/USA – FEBRUARY 14, 2016: The Trump Hotel Las Vegas timeshare and hotellocated on the Las Vegas Strip. Used by Permission

Trump is knowledgeable on some issues. He claims to have used campaign donations to buy influence from politicians and to have used the complex tax code to his advantage, enabling him to live a lavish lifestyle while paying little or no federal income tax. The New York Times recently obtained some pages from Trump’s 1995 income tax returns showing he claimed a loss of $916 million and paid no federal income taxes that year. It would be expected that this loss would shield him from paying income tax for years to come, possibly eighteen years.

If taking advantage of a flawed system is a qualifier for public office, Trump is qualified. He has mocked our laws with campaign donations for favors, tax evasion schemes (and draft evasion) and boasted about it in his books.

But, does that really qualify someone for public office at any level? Would you hire a hacker to head up cyber security in your business?

Of course not. Most hackers keep on hacking instead of working for law enforcement. It is more profitable. You might hire a repentant hacker to advise you on cyber security. Key words: “repentant” and “advise.”

There are many ways to become knowledgeable about a problem, but more important than knowledge is motivation. Has Donald Trump’s motives changed? What would keep a President Trump from using his power as he has in the past: to his advantage and the detriment of all others? His policy proposals may not be specific, but he has promised to lower the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans, including himself. Additionally, knowing about the problem and knowing how to fix it are two very different things. An addict knows a ton about the problems of drug addiction. But it takes a recovering addict to help you solve a drug problem.

Trump is a Successful Businessman

The argument above is part of the larger argument that goes like this: Donald Trump is a very successful businessman who has amassed a vast amount of wealth. Since he knows how to run a successful business, he is better qualified to make the business of government run efficiently and profitably.

We need a president who understands business; That’s for sure. Is Donald Trump a successful businessman? Let’s look at debt.

Our national debt is $19.5 Trillion, almost double what it was eight years ago when President Obama took office. DOUBLE! Federal Debt per person is about $60,339. That means 85% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent to service the debt – mostly interest. We’re buying time. Social Security is paying out far more than it’s taking in. That’s not sustainable.

Why is no one talking about this? Well, you don’t get elected by promising to raise taxes and reduce spending. Trump is promising to cut taxes for the wealthy and significantly raise defense spending. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan think tank (CRFB) estimates that Donald Trump’s “fiscal proposals as they are today would add $5.3 trillion to the nation’s debt in the first decade. That would push debt held by the public to 105% of GDP by 2026, up from 86% projected under current policies.” (CNN/Money) Hillary Clinton’s proposals would increase the national debt by $200 Billion, a fraction of Trump’s $5 Trillion increase.

Trump has called himself the King of Debt. We don’t really know how much of his lavish lifestyle is supported by debt. He refuses to release his income tax returns. (Note: Hillary Clinton and every candidate for president since Richard Nixon have released their tax returns.) But his 1995 tax records show a loss of $916 million (see above). So, we can believe him when he says he is the King of Debt. With Trump at the helm of USA Corp., he’ll be losing that kind of of money on a daily basis. Correction: WE will be losing that kind of money, daily!

Wealth and Stewardship

Here’s the think that perplexes me about Evangelical Christian voters. Why are we snookered by the allure of wealth? Why are we buying into our culture’s measure of success by counting dollars? First, anyone can fake wealth by taking on debt. And a person can fake great wealth by taking on great debt. I’m sure you’ve read this: “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7) We could paraphrase this to say “the King of Debt is actually the servant to his creditors.” So we ask, who is Donald Trump serving? It’s not you and me. Is it Russian Oligarchs? This is another reason why Donald Trump should follow precedent and release his taxes. It would  begin to let us know who he is doing business with and to whom does he owe money. Who is he serving?

I’m tempted here to reproduce a few of my finer stewardship sermons, but I’ll just cite a few Scripture samples to remind you what God says about stewardship and wealth.


“Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.”
Proverbs 22:4

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”
Proverbs 22:7

“Dishonest money dwindles away,
but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”
Proverbs 13:11

“In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.”
Proverbs  21:20

Honor the LORD with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.”
Proverbs 3:9-10

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:9–10

“Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them.
By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life.”
1 Timothy 6:17-19


Previously: God Can Use Anybody: Balaam’s Ass and We’re Not Electing a Sunday School Teacher

Next – the two strongest reasons Evangelicals give for supporting Trump:

“The Presidency is 4 maybe 8 Years; The Supreme Court is Forever.”

and the most common argument from Evangelicals for Trump:

“If we don’t elect Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton will be president”

Note: The opinions expressed on this website are mine, informed by Scripture, reflection, discussion and prayer.
They may not be the views held by my church, which welcomes all, no matter how they vote, and takes no position on candidates or election issues.


Oct 14

Why Trump? The Argument from Balaam’s Ass

In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump spoke about how evangelicals were supporting his run for the presidency. He added sheepishly, “I may not deserve it.”

I shouted, “Amen!!” I agree, except I would state it more forcefully. Donald Trump does not deserve the support of an Evangelical Christian.

Note: The opinions expressed on this website are mine, informed by Scripture, reflection, discussion and prayer.
They may not be the views held by my church, which welcomes all, no matter how they vote, and takes no position on candidates or election issues.

evangelicals for donald trumpWhat confounds me is why so many Evangelical Christians are supporting Trump for President, when he has done nothing in words or actions to demonstrate that he is deserving of support from followers of Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it for myself. I have friends – in my church – and family members who are considering voting for Trump. They’re not illiterate. They read the Bible, pray and go to church. They’ve read and heard what Trump has said and done and they’re voting Trump.

So, I am trying my best to listen. I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of a Christian Trump supporter. In this post, I want to carefully consider the reasons I hear most often for Evangelical Christians supporting Donald Trump for President.

“We’re electing a president, not a pastor.”

Many pastors have said they would not consider allowing Donald Trump to teach a Sunday School class in their church, but they are supporting him as President.

It’s a good point. I can think of a lot of people who are great Sunday School teachers and pastors but would be lousy presidents. And I can think of a lot of politicians who do great work in their field, who should not be Sunday School teachers. Jimmy Carter has done both, but most shouldn’t try.

Still, the question remains, “what are the minimal character qualities of an effective leader in government?”

Character is important, maybe more important than positions, policies and plans. Christians should not demand that the president share our faith, but it is reasonable to expect that our president should honor and exhibit such universal values as wisdom, decency, honesty, consistency and compassion.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

(Re: King Lemuel in Proverbs 31:8-9)

“God can use anyone. God once used Balaam’s ass.”

“We’re not electing the pope…God can use anybody. He used a harlot,” said Trump supporter Vicki Sciolaro on CNN recently. Another Trump supporter made a similar argument and gave as an example, God speaking to Balaam (in Numbers 22 – it’s a great story) through the mouth of his ass (“donkey” in newer translations). This may not be a flattering comparison Trump would make, but let’s evaluate the argument anyway.

Certainly God can use anyone to accomplish God’s purposes. But, God usually does not violate our free will in doing so. God doesn’t compel or trick us to act against our will. The “harlot” in question is probably Rahab, who helped the Hebrew spies in Jericho. Rahab acted according to her beliefs and obeyed God by choice. “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” (Hebrews 11:31).

We can assume Balaam’s ass willingly submitted to being used by God. I would suggest that Donald Trump has not showed such surrender to God’s guidance. He has said he hasn’t asked God’s forgiveness.

Unfortunately, Trump does not have the wisdom of Balaam’s ass.

More to Come

“Who better to fix our government than one who has taken advantage of the government with campaign donations and tax loopholes?”

“The Presidency is 4, maybe 8 Years; The Supreme Court is Forever.”

“If we don’t elect Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton will be president”

Note: The opinions expressed on this website are mine, informed by Scripture, reflection, discussion and prayer.
They may not be the views held by my church, which welcomes all, no matter how they vote, and takes no position on candidates or election issues.


Sep 09

Remembering 9/11


The following is part of my message the Sunday after eleven terrorists guided four planes and their passengers into the World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured more than 6,000 others and shook our nation to its core. I believed then and I still believe that the events of 9/11 gave our nation a unique opportunity to turn to God in humility and faith. But, have we seized that opportunity?

…There is no making sense of this tragedy, but we can make their lives and their deaths meaningful.

If we walk away from this catastrophe without having learned anything, we would make this an even greater tragedy. We must not let their deaths mean nothing to us.

I hope this week has found you at times frozen from the busyness of project deadlines, soccer games, rushing from errand to errand. I hope you at times forgot all about the To-Do list that as you woke up Tuesday morning seemed so terribly important. I hope you used that pause in the hectic week to bow before the almighty God and confess your need of God.

If you did, then the sacrifice of so many had some good purpose. If not, what will it take?

If all this caused you to pause and reflect on the wonder of human life…then there is meaning in their deaths.

If this has caused you to hold your children closer…then there is meaning in their deaths

If this has caused you to bow your knee and confess your fear and pain to the Lord, and your dependence on God like never before…then there is meaning in their deaths.

Here is how we must respond.

We must respond as a nation:

We have been invited to a party we did not plan. It is a pity party of senseless misery, blame, hatred and violence and it has been going on for generations. Terrorists have invited the United States to join with them in a violent hatred that stops at nothing to get vengeance. We have been invited to dance with those who repay evil with worse evil.

But we must not join them. For if we do, we have lost and the enemy has won.

We must not give in to the powerful temptation to become the very likeness of the enemy we despise. We must not become blinded by hatred so that we strike out at those who are not our enemies.

As people across our nation scream out for somebody’s blood to run in the streets, we who follow the Prince of Peace, must instead urge our government to respond – not from rage, but out of a sense of justice. We must be assured that after we have responded, we will be better off.

Many will say: How can we do that? Terrorists will see us as weak.

It’s the hard reality. Sometimes justice is not ours. But there will be justice. Nineteen suicide terrorists are receiving justice right now.

Let us go to the weapon that is effective against terrorism: prayer.

Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he answers him from his holy heaven
with the saving power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
(and some in missiles and tanks – DWW)
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.

Psalm 20:6-8

We must respond by seeking justice and mercy for victims of injustice no matter what country they are in.

The terror that hit our nation this week is nothing new to our world. But now terror has hit home. Let us make something good of this disaster.

Now that terror has hit home, we can empathize with and stand with the Christians in Sudan who are being driven from their homes and killed –genocide by their own government.

Now that terror has hit home, let us find it in our nation’s best interests to seek and demand the end of hostilities by both Israel and the Palestinians.

We must respond as Individuals:

We have an enemy of our soul. But the enemy cannot be defeated with bombs because our enemy is not sheltered in any country; it knows no boundaries.

Get right with God. When we stand before God, he will separate the sheep from the goats- not Americans from people of Arabic descent. Not good guys from the bad guys. But, those who have opened themselves up to Jesus Christ and those who will not.

You can experience peace, when the world all around is crumbling, because you know the one who loves you and has plans to prosper you.

Let us as individuals reach out in love – sharing the good news of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Repay evil with good. Love your enemies.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24


From the message, “When Terror Hits Home,” Rev. Dave Weidlich, September 16, 2001, Cooper Mountain Presbyterian Fellowship, Aloha, Oregon.

Graphic by Keith L. Bell @kbellwether. Used by permission.

Aug 22

Kayaking Around Petaluma

Petaluma is at the northern tip of the San Fracisco Bay Area’s network of bays and estuaries.The Petaluma River is a tidal estuary that leads into the San Pablo Bay. I’ve often thought it would be great to take advantage of the many waterways and kayaking looked like the best way to experience the bay area. I can’t believe I didn’t start sooner, but at least now I’ve started. Kayaking has provided me with an inexpensive way to get out on the water for personal reflection, prayer and a little exercise mixed in. I can be part of God’s amazing creation without being too much of a nuisance to the fish, birds and plants.

It started when I took advantage of “A Day on the River,” hosted by Clavey Paddlesports. I tried SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboard). It’s not for me. I’d rather sit down and relax. I tried a tandem kayak with Kimmy and a few solo kayaks. I loved the red Eddyline 14 footer with rudder. Of course, it was the most expensive – a few thousand dollars. Too big an investment for a sport I might not pursue. The experience gave me an idea of what I wanted to own.

My next kayaking venture was a July 4th morning tour of Tomales Bay, hosted by Clavey. They provided everything we needed and included some basic how-to-kayak instruction. The group of twelve doubled up into tandem kayaks and set out from Nick’s Cove, across the bay, around Hog Island and Duck Island and back, a four hour trip. It was low tide when we began so we paddled over some shallow water to begin with. In a grassy area, we saw dozens of bat rays swimming around and under our boats. We were told you can sometimes see leopard sharks there, but we didn’t see any that day. There were harbor seals sun bathing on Hog Island and swimming around it. We saw an osprey flying above and, of course, lots of sea gulls, pelicans, cormorants and other birds. I was hooked. kayaking Petaluma

I picked up a used 14′ kayak and paddle and was ready to go. Almost. I still needed a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) and a way to get the kayak from my house to the water. My first trip out, I jammed everything into my van, but that didn’t work well, so I invested in a roof rack. Now I have what I need for occasional, recreational paddling.

I love getting out with the kayak. It’s good exercise that I can sustain for hours and I enjoy the peace of being out on the water. I’ve been out on the Petaluma River, the Estero Americano, Tomales Bay and Keys Creek. Soon, I’ll be taking a bio-luminescence tour of Tomales Bay. I’ll be sure to report on that.

Here are a few thoughts from my excursions for my own future reference and to help others who need a little more info than what’s already out there for kayaking in the North Bay Area (San Francisco, California).

Know the Tide

For starters, here’s a good website for some tide tables. I’ve also added some tide table widgets below. It’s helpful to paddle out against the tide so you have the help of the tide when you’re returning. The wind is also a factor. The wind usually comes from the north on the Petaluma River and it’s especially strong in the late afternoon. Someday, when I have time, I’d like to paddle out with the tide, relax and eat lunch, and then paddle back in with the tide and, hopefully, the wind. Why work harder than you have to?

Petaluma River – Lakeville (map)

My most recent trip was on the Petaluma River, setting out from Papa’s Taverna (closed), on Lakeville Highway near Highway 116. There’s a boat ramp and dock there which you can use for $2. From there, I paddled north towards Shollenberger Park. I took a few excursions along the way, including a creek that led into the Petaluma Marsh Wildlife Area. It was beautiful. I was surprised to hear a train in the distance. It was the new SMART train and it whizzed by about 200 yards away.

 Turning Basin, Petaluma

Here’s a current tide table for the Petaluma River at the D Street Drawbridge. You can change the date and move the time to see what the tide will be later on.


Tomales Bay

One of my favorite places for kayaking is Tomales Bay. Nick’s Cove is a convenient place to park and launch. I believe the cost is $6. There are lots of birds and if you’re lucky, you might see bat rays and leopard sharks. There are some abandoned wrecked boats, but I don’t recommend going near them. Cormorants have taken over and have polluted them with their poop. Smelly! The same is true of Hog Island and Duck Island. The islands were available for camping at one time, but the campsites were closed and cormorants took over. The islands’ eucalyptus trees are filled to capacity with cormorants and the ground is white and smelly. Somehow, the harbor seals don’t mind. I see them on the beach and swimming nearby.

Be warned, the wind can kick up on the bay and make it difficult to get where you want to go. People have died there! I wasn’t able to get a cell phone signal there (I have AT&T. I think Verizon is better). So, watch the weather reports and by all means, wear your PFD. It’s best to go with somebody too.

One day, I launched from a turn-out near a bridge along Hwy 1 (free) and paddled Keys Creek to Tomales Bay and back. That was a tamer way to start and beautiful. 

 Tide Table for Nick’s Cove, Tomales Bay

The Petaluma River – Downtown

For me, the Petaluma River is close by and a great way to get into the water fast for some exercise and serenity. It’s a tidal estuary, complete with murky saltwater. There is no current to speak of. You can float downriver or upriver depending on the tide.

There are two places to launch in the city limits – the dock on the Turning Basin (free) and the Petaluma Marina at the Sheraton Hotel. The river in between is beautiful. It’s a view of small town Petaluma that you can’t see any other way. You pass by kids fishing, barges and yachts as well as fishing kayaks. You might see a team of rowers in their hull. It’s also safe. The water is not very deep since the river has not been dredged in years and there are more people around, so someone is likely to see you if you capsize.

Petaluma River at Black Point/San Pablo Bay

If you follow the Petaluma River all the way, you will enter San Pablo Bay. Or you can take Hwy 37 and launch from Black Point boat launch ($6). I spent a little time on the bay. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not very choppy. Still, I only ventured out about a mile and stayed near the shore, since I was alone. I did take the excursion along Novato Creek, a calm, marshy area.

San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge

Estero Americano, Valley Ford

2016-08-22 15.48.38

From Petaluma, follow Bodega Highway through Valley Ford and turn left at Dinucci’s Restaurant and left on Valley Ford Estero Road. There’s a small place to park and launch (free) at the bridge. It was beautiful on the day I went out. I started out paddling against the wind and had it to my back when I returned, which was helpful, since I overdid it going out. If you go far enough, you’re out on the ocean. I’m not ready for that.

Spring Lake, Santa Rosa

Kayaking on Spring Lake Santa RosaIf you don’t want to worry about the tide or waves, you can kayak on Spring Lake, in Santa Rosa. You can rent kayaks at the boat house on weekends. The kayaks are the sit-on-top kind. They’re not as maneuverable and you get wetter, but there’s an advantage. They don’t sink if you capsize.


Recommended: Get the Tide Graph App by Brainware ($1.99 for Android) Look for it in the Google Play store and the iTunes store.


Aug 04

In Memory of Misty

To Misty,

Dogs in heaven? Yes

photos by Kimberly Weidlich

Our dog for 11 years, until today. Now you belong to our Heavenly Father.

We’ll never forget when we first met you at the animal shelter. They found you near a dumpster at a Chinese restaurant. We knew you belonged with us.

We will always remember you for your warm greetings, often accompanied by wild dog runs. It didn’t dampen your enthusiasm when you lost traction and skidded across the hardwood floor and into a wall. You provided companionship to us. You never left us. You were a comfort when we went through hard times. Your love was unconditional. Your love was more enthusiastic when we had food to share or when one of us picked up the leash.

Misty and KimmyJesus called himself the Good Shepherd, which assumes he loves animals. Secondarily, it means Jesus loves and cares for us in the same way. Animals were given to man to teach us to love and we can tell a person’s character by the way they treat their animals (“A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” – Proverbs 12:10).

We know there are animals in heaven. It was one of God’s earliest and best ideas. God created animals and placed them in the Garden and it was good. The first man and woman’s job was to name and care for the animals in the garden. When man brought judgment to the earth, God told Noah to save the animals. It makes sense that the new heaven and the new earth spoken of in Revelation (21:1) would also include animals. Jesus is described as a lion of the tribe of Judah and a Lamb of God. Those metaphors have no meaning if there are no lions or lambs on earth and in heaven.

God loves animalsWe hope you are reunited with Grandma Jane and Grandpa Bob, so you can bring a smile to their faces and they can hold you again. We hope we will see you again. We can’t imagine heaven without you. Until then, we will picture you in the arms of the Good Shepherd.

Misty training to be a sith lord

A photo posted by Kimberly (@platypuseggnog) on

Apr 07

Straubville, CA

What and Where is Straubville?

Straubville is an area located a few miles west of Petaluma on Bodega Avenue near the intersections of Eastman Lane and Lohrman Lane. The old-timers describe Straubville as a bustling hub of commerce back in the days of Petaluma’s chicken farmers.

Straubville, CA west PetalumaStraubville is home to many sheep and goats. People also live here. Here’s a picture from 1928 showing an auto repair shop, now the home of Dave’s Auto Repair. (Thanks Sonoma County Library)

Kimberly Widdlesticks declared herself Mayor of Straubville, claiming that the goats of Straubville elected her unanimously when she promised to build a 100 foot wall between Petaluma and Straubville. The wall was never built and Ms. Widdlesticks’ website expired, ending her covert and unceremonious reign.

Straubville may well have been the inspiration for the song, “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road,” (1972 by Loudon Wainwright III) as you’ll often find fresh roadkill in the middle of Bodega Avenue or Lohrman Lane. Not coincidentally, Straubville welcomes a high population of turkey vultures who feast and sometimes perish, fulfilling their duties as wildlife managers. Bodega Avenue is a busy road.

What do you remember about Straubville? Comments are welcome, below…

Straubville, CA west Petaluma

Jan 16

In Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.



From Rick Warren: In honor of Pastor Martin Luther King on this MLK holiday, I give you my 10 FAVORITE QUOTES from a man who was model to many other pastors.

10 Favorite Quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - Bruni1. “The purpose of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure nor avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.”

2. “I just want to do God’s will.”

3. “When I took up the cross I recognized it’s meaning. The cross is something that you bear, and ultimately, that you die on.”

4. “The early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the Church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.”

5. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

6. “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”

7. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

8. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”

9. “The gospel at its best deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body, not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well being as well.”

10. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

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