Jan 29 2018

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:1-3

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

Jesus’ point is not that we should make every attempt to get rid of all possessions and become poor. Instead, we need to recognize that we are already poor in the things that matter most – that when we come to God, God has everything we need and we have nothing to offer in exchange. The currency that matters in our world – money, status, popularity, good works – is not the currency of heaven. Those currencies also fail to bring the fulfillment we seek. We’re never fully satisfied. The blessing we desire can come only from God. What God wants from us is simply brokenhearted openness, poverty of spirit. When we come to God with humility, we are blessed. We are the recipients of the kingdom of heaven.


Before fasting, check with your doctor, especially if you are taking medication.


fasting as a spiritual disciplineOne way we can learn poverty of spirit is through the spiritual discipline of fasting. I recommend fasting one day in the coming week, your doctor permitting.

Fast one day and bring the equivalent of the food you missed to a Food Pantry or make a donation.

Fasting can be a water only diet
Or Juice & vitamins only diet,
Or rice & beans only.
You might fast from social media and television.

When you break your fast, be sure to ease back into your routine. Start with a little bland food.

The point is to voluntarily give up something you are dependent on so that you can listen and walk more closely in tune with God.

Let’s share our experiences.

Leave a comment below or Email me

  • How did you feel?
  • How did you feel about people around you.
  • What was it like to pray while fasting?
  • What (if any) benefits did you get from fasting?
  • What questions do you have about fasting?

The Bible on Fasting (New Bible Dictionary)

FASTING. Fasting in the Bible generally means going without all food and drink for a period (e.g. Est. 4:16), and not merely refraining from certain foods.

  1. In the Old Testament

The Heb. words are ṣûm (verb) and ṣôm (noun). The phrase ‘innâ nap̄šô (to afflict the soul) also refers to fasting. First, there were certain annual fasts. Thus the Hebrews fasted on the Day of Atonement (Lv. 16:29, 31; 23:27–32; Nu. 29:7). After the Exile, four other annual fasts were observed (Zc. 8:19), all of them, according to the Talmud, marking disasters in Jewish history. Est. 9:31 can be interpreted as implying the establishment of yet another regular fast.

In addition to these there were occasional fasts. These were sometimes individual (e.g. 2 Sa. 12:22) and sometimes corporate (e.g. Jdg. 20:26; Joel 1:14). Fasting gave expression to grief (1 Sa. 31:13; 2 Sa. 1:12; 3:35; Ne. 1:4; Est. 4:3; Ps. 35:13–14) and penitence (1 Sa. 7:6; 1 Ki. 21:27; Ne. 9:1–2; Dn. 9:3–4; Jon. 3:5–8). It was a way by which men might humble themselves (Ezr. 8:21; Ps. 69:10). Sometimes it may have been thought of as a self-inflicted punishment (cf. the phrase ‘to afflict the soul’). Fasting was often directed towards securing the guidance and help of God (Ex. 34:28; Dt. 9:9; 2 Sa. 12:16–23; 2 Ch. 20:3–4; Ezr. 8:21–23). Fasting could be vicarious (Ezr. 10:6; Est. 4:15–17). Some came to think that fasting would automatically gain man a hearing from God (Is. 58:3–4). Against this the prophets declared that without right conduct fasting was in vain (Is. 58:5–12; Je. 14:11–12; Zc. 7).

  1. In the New Testament

The usual Gk. words are nēsteuō (verb), and nēsteia and nēstis (nouns). In Acts 27:21, 33 the words asitia and asitos (‘without food’) are also used.

As far as general Jewish practice is concerned, the Day of Atonement is the only annual fast referred to in the NT (Acts 27:9). Some strict Pharisees fasted every Monday and Thursday (Lk. 18:12). Other devout Jews, like Anna, might fast often (Lk. 2:37).

The only occasion when Jesus is recorded as fasting is at the time of his temptations in the wilderness. Then, however, he was not necessarily fasting from choice. The first temptation implies that there was no food available in the place he had selected for his weeks of preparation for his ministry (Mt. 4:1–4). Cf. the 40 days’ fasts of Moses (Ex. 34:28) and Elijah (1 Ki. 19:8).

Jesus assumed that his hearers would fast, but taught them when they did so to face Godward, not manward (Mt. 6:16–18). When asked why his disciples did not fast as did those of John the Baptist and of the Pharisees, Jesus did not repudiate fasting, but declared it to be inappropriate for his disciples ‘as long as the bridegroom is with them’ (Mt. 9:14–17; Mk. 2:18–22; Lk. 5:33–39). Later they would fast like others.

In Acts leaders of the church fast when choosing missionaries (13:2–3) and elders (14:23). Paul twice refers to his fasting (2 Cor. 6:5; 11:27). In the former passage voluntary fasting, by way of self-discipline, appears to be meant (nēsteia); the latter passage mentions both involuntary ‘hunger’ (limos) and voluntary going ‘without food’ (nēsteia).

The weight of textual evidence is against the inclusion of references to fasting in Mt. 17:21; Mk. 9:29; Acts 10:30; 1 Cor. 7:5, though the presence of these references in many mss in itself indicates that there was a growing belief in the value of fasting in the early church.



[1]Wood, D. R. W., Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996, c1982, c1962). New Bible Dictionary. Includes index. (electronic ed. of 3rd ed.) (Page 364). Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.

Apr 16 2017

He Has Risen!

Here are some of my favorite Easter reflections via Twitter 2017.

Wish you’d picked the NRSV or the CEB for this.

“If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen, nothing else matters.” – Jaroslav Pelikan  

Nicky Gumbel, Alpha

The resurrection of Jesus is rooted in history, grounded in scripture and confirmed in experience.

When Jesus died on the cross, so did your sin; when He rose from the dead, so did your HOPE.

The cross is bigger than your mistakes, bigger than your regrets, bigger than the secrets you hold. The cross stands above it all.

‘The only thing Jesus has ever abandoned is an empty tomb… He will never leave you!’

– @nickygumbel

5 reasons to believe Jesus is risen 1 Empty tomb 2 Appearances of Jesus 3 Transformed disciples 4 Impact on history 5 Experience of billions


Christos Anesti! Easter Faith’s Great Affirmation

Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν,
θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας,
καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι,
ζωὴν χαρισάμενος! …
Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!
via Scot McNight http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2017/04/16/christos-anesti-easter-faiths-great-affirmation/

Easter Prayers

Christos anesti! O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


– Scot McNight http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2017/04/16/easter-sunday-the-lord-is-risen/


New life never enters our stories without some gestation, without waiting. –


The Resurrection and Science

I’m a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, and this weekend, I’m celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. So are dozens of my colleagues. How can this be? http://www.veritas.org/can-scientist-believe-resurrection-three-hypotheses/

A Celebrity Tweet


Question of the Day

He is risenMy daughter, Kimberly, asks, “why do Christians say, “He is risen” when the correct grammar would be “he has risen?”

I didn’t have a ready answer other than to say, “tradition!”

After some thought, I propose this answer: the phrase, “He is risen,” comes from the old English translation (King James Version of 1611) of the angel’s words in the garden, ἠγέρθη (egerthe) in the original Greek – Matthew 28:6-7 and Mark 16:6. Newer translations translate the verb, “he has risen,” but apparently ye olde English translated it (correctly in their time) “he is risen.”

from ἐγείρω
he was raised

Nestle, E., Nestle, E., Aland, B., Aland, K., Karavidopoulos, J., Martini, C. M., & Metzger, B. M. (1993). The Greek New Testament (27th ed., Mk 16:6). Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stuttgart.

Got it?

So, sweet Kimmy,

Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed!

He is risen, I is risen, you is risen, y’all is risen, we all is risen!

Happy Easter!

And finally, the important question, what to wear on Easter?

Mar 09 2017

Sermons from the Vine

Here are a few sermons I preached at The Vine Church of Petaluma.


And several more from my days at First Presbyterian Church Petaluma.

They’re also listed below:

The Apostles Creed series


Jan 04 2017

Time for a Change

Sunday morning, I woke up and realized, I had no responsibilities. My guitar remained in its case. There were no sermon notes to go over. I was not anybody’s pastor. I loved the feeling and I missed it too. It’s time for a change – for me and The Vine Church of Petaluma. Here (and below) are my parting words to the Vine and friends.

Dear Friends of the Vine,Lunch at the Vine Church of Petaluma

We banded together five years ago to start a church, built on faith in God, authentic relationships with each other, in service to God and our community. Our namesake verse was our goal – to live in Christ.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – Jesus, in John 15:5

During the last five years,

  • We took great risks and got off to a good start. We hosted a beautiful Christmas concert our first year, many movie nights and a few community service projects.
  • We met regularly for worship and prayer.
  • We prayed for each other, encouraged each other in tough times. You certainly supported me in a difficult time in my life and career.
  • We had great fun with a worship band – with some older and younger musicians.
  • We served with City Ministries churches and supported them. Some supported us with equipment – sound, chairs and banners.
  • We became a place of refuge and hope for people going through separation and divorce through the Divorce Care ministry.
  • We served in the community – Redwood Gospel Mission, Windsor Care Center and Adobe House.
  • We housed the homeless, though not intentionally 🙂
  • We supported COTS with our giving and volunteering.
  • We encouraged and helped other churches, including some minority congregations in transition and a few start-up businesses too.

I believe God is leading me to make a change. I’m a plant that needs re-potting. Sometimes you need to put a plant in a larger pot or a smaller pot, but a different pot. A different mix of soil. I’ve discovered church planting is not the best fit for my spiritual gifts and skills. I don’t have specific plans, but I will be seeking involvement in ministry where I can be more effective in bearing fruit for God’s Kingdom.

Plus, there’s the practical matter – I am years, not decades away from retirement age. I don’t have the luxury of putting off the need to invest more in my retirement.

I need to make a change and I believe a change is good for this church too. I will always remember you and these five years fondly. Though I won’t be your pastor going forward, we will always be friends.

My thoughts are best expressed in this benediction from the Prophet Zephaniah, shared with me by Wally Drotts:

“The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save,
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

– Zephaniah 3:17

With gratitude and love,

Pastor Dave Weidlich

Nov 13 2016

Nothing to Fear: Election Reflections

This was my message to The Vine Church of Petaluma, November 13, 2016

 Listen to Responses to the Question, “How are you feeling about the election and the direction of our nation?” and the Message.
Use the player below or go to Nothing to Fear – Election Reflections

What just happened? (November 8, 2016)

Trump and Obama in the White HouseHere’s the simplest and best explanation I’ve read.

Article: How Donald Trump Was Elected: Three Forces Behind the 2016 Outcome and Voters’ Message, by Dan McGinn and Peter D. Hart

Nov 9, 2016 http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2016/11/09/how-donald-trump-was-elected-three-forces-behind-the-2016-outcome-and-voters-message/

Three forces collided to elect Donald Trump president of the United States. First, Hillary Clinton was a deeply flawed candidate. Second, Mr. Trump, a brilliant manipulator of broadcast media outlets, benefited from copious amounts of free air time. Third is the element of the 2016 election that pundits consistently underestimated: A large sector of our society is deeply, viscerally angry…

This election was the clearest possible signal to every institution in the U.S. that the average person expects–and is demanding–a seat at the table. The folks who led this revolution are foreign to Washington, Los Angeles, and New York. They don’t go to Starbucks, take their kids on college tours, or watch NPR. They shop at Wal-Mart, dine at McDonald’s, and care more about high school sports than pro games. Their incomes are declining and they have no retirement funds. They think their parents and grandparents built this country. And Tuesday night, they screamed that they want their country back.

Article: Trump Won. Here’s How 17 Evangelical Leaders Feel.

Pastors, authors, and others weigh in on 2016 election. Compiled by Emily Lund/ November 11, 2016


Barry C. Black: “Grateful, optimistic, and satisfied”

Chaplain of the United States Senate

“Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States, and I feel grateful, optimistic, and satisfied. I feel grateful because 1 Thessalonians 5:18 admonishes, ‘In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you in Christ Jesus.’ I feel optimistic because of Romans 8:28: ‘in everything God is working for the good of those who love him, who are the called according to his purposes.’ I also feel satisfied because Philippians 4:12 declares, ‘I have learned in every state to feel contentment.’ In short, after the election of any president, as a person of faith I know I have nothing to fear.”

Dominique Gilliard: “What did this communicate to the world about our God?”

Executive pastor of New Hope Covenant Church in Oakland, California

“Evangelical identity is rooted in Scripture. Scripture shapes our worldview, beliefs, and ethics. However, 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump, whose campaign and lifestyle is antithetical to Scripture and the Kingdom of God. While Hillary was undoubtedly a flawed candidate, white evangelicals’ unprecedented supported of Trump—despite his racism, misogyny, and ethnocentrism—is revelatory, and deplorable. Did this bear witness to whiteness rather than the Gospel? What did this communicate to the world about our God?”

My Reflections on the Election with Psalm 62 in Mind

Many are more afraid than we need to be.

There’s a lot of fear, anger, anxiety among us. People are marching in the streets. People are posting their fears and frustrations on Facebook and Twitter. Everyone’s talking about it at school and work.

  • Some are afraid of losing health insurance and access to healthcare
  • Afraid of trade wars, the economy suffering, the $19 Trillion deficit growing and our incomes going down.
  • Afraid of being insulted, harassed and abused, marginalized
  • Afraid of being deported
  • Afraid of nuclear weapons in the hands of one who has shown himself to be easily offended and who claims a policy of striking back ten times as hard when he is offended.
  • Losing the values of freedom, liberty and compassion for all that America has always stood for.
  • Afraid that our fractured nation may never be united again.

No wonder – look at our NEWS media throughout the last 18 months. Addictive, alarming. Little time is devoted to educating the public, discussing actual positions and policies. There’s a 24/7 focus on the gaffe, the outrageous statement, a mistake, character issues.

The candidates have contributed to this storm of anxiety and fear:

Trump says: Be afraid of ISIS, murders in the cities, the economy, banking, government is a disaster – Obamacare, Libya, Syria, foreign policy, disasters

Clinton says: Be very afraid of Trump. He’s unfit.

And God says, “Fear not.” Why?

I’m not saying to set aside your fear because we have a President Elect who has the character, knowledge, judgment and experience sufficient for this huge job. (I would have said most of this if Clinton was elected)

Fear not, because we have:

  1. The constitution – checks and balances among the President’s advisors, Congress and the Supreme Court. Balance of power. A President simply cannot do all they would like to do – good or bad, wise or foolish.
  2. God’s Word – our hope is in God

The Psalm 62, expresses this hope. It begins with expressions of confidence. (verses 1-2)

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Psalm 62, begins with expressions of confidence.

I receive REST.

Anxiety fades away as I focus on God and find my rest in God.


Yes, we need assurances for the present day but the foundation of our confidence is in my position with God – what God thinks of me.

There is no candidate for office, no political party, no political system that can deliver us from death. No one can deliver us from the fear of losing control of our bodily functions, the decline of our health, our aging process. What no President can do, God can do and does – God offers reconciliation through Jesus Christ, forgiveness, adoption as sons and daughters in an irrevocable relationship of love. God loves you. Hillary Clinton doesn’t love you. She doesn’t know you. Neither does Donald Trump. God loves you. God is my Salvation.

The confidence we have in our relationship with God is the bedrock of our confidence that on this day, in this town, it is well with my soul.

God is my ROCK


God is my FORTRESS

Have you seen these towns in Europe that have fortresses? People don’t live in the fort, but they always know it’s nearby. They know where they are in relation to the fort. They go out into the city, into the fields to work, their homes, but when there is the hint of trouble, everyone rushes to the fortress for protection, solidarity, to fight.

God is my fortressGod is our fortress.

Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
(and some trust in Special Forces, B-52s, Drones, hell-fire missiles, Nuclear weapons. We love our weapons – have you seen our nation’s budget?).
We do not!!! We trust in the Lord our God.

Isaiah 31:1 “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.”

Then, the Psalmist, David, remembers his situation – he’s under attack.

How long will you assault me?
Would all of you throw me down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
from my lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.

That’s what I want to say when Christians offer these pious platitudes – “God is sovereign,” they say. “Don’t worry, God is on the throne.”
I say, “Okay, that’s true. And I know it’s going to be alright when we get to heaven. But how does that help us down here on Earth in 2016?

I feel like they’re minimizing the dangers that are all around. I feel like some of these pastors are encouraging us to detach from this world and not get involved in community activities, charity work outside the church. Don’t get involved in politics. Instead, just spend your time in church – attend church, use your volunteer hours in church, give all your charity to the church and focus on church politics! (jk)

Maybe if all the people who are so obsessed with church politics got involved instead on school boards, planning commissions, state legislature and did it in a way that is Christ-centered – that’s Kingdom work!

I feel like many evangelical pastors and their congregations are too detached from the world we live in everyday and they encourage us to live the same way and that’s why we have these huge problems. I want to see more conscientious Christian involvement, like John Kasich, Mike Pence, Tim Kaine.

I know some pastors – like possibly me – get too obsessed and upset in politics, but most evangelical pastors have been silent and some even dismissive of the whole process.

The Psalmist is living in the here and now and it is sometimes overwhelming. There are dangers all around. Still, he says:

“I will not be shaken…” – Not, just when I get to heaven, but here on earth.

Psalm 62:5-7

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

“I will not be shaken…” – Not, when I get to heaven, but here on earth.

Then he starts preaching. He goes from first person pronouns to second person, imperative.

Here is his message to others going through the same anxieties, fears and frustrations and this is our message of hope in a nation that desperately needs to hear:

Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.

There’s the sermon. There is the message of hope for our world. What do we do now? Trust in God.

Did you see the reference to the lowborn and the highborn? We worry so much about that. If you are one of the “lowborns” you spend your life trying to get out of that place, don’t you. You want to live like the “highborn.” Drive the Jaguar. Live in the gated community. Wear fashionable clothes.

The Psalmist says, don’t worry about that – it’s just a brief moment of time. Just a breath.

That was the theme of Jesus’ message from the mount, Matthew 5-7.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted…

Matthew 6

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air…

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The highborn are but a lie.

Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.

Wow. Lowborn – nobody wants that. But the Highborn are no better off! It’s a lie.

Because there is no such thing as a life of ease, beauty, and luxury. No such thing. It’s a lie and if you believe it, it will mess you up. It’s all cosmetics, leverage and stress. You may get the car and the house on a hill and the clothes and green space between yourself and the riffraff of society.

But, you will live in fear that people might get a glimpse of who you really are and see how weak you feel and how vulnerable and fearful and insignificant you feel. It’s all sophisticated fakery. It’s a lie.

Imagine how, if we all believed this, what a different world we would live in?

Learn the secret of contentment, generosity, love.

Balance aspiration with contentment.

Finally, David writes:

11 One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12     and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done.”


Lord, reward your people as we put our trust in you and live our lives for you.
Empower us as we draw our power from you.

Make us lovely men and women as we bask in the glow of your unfailing love.

For “Power belongs to you, God,
and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.



Photo Credit: lianem / 123RF Stock Photo

Nov 07 2016

God is in Control. Yes, but…

Apparently I missed the memo from headquarters that delivered the message to all pastors and spiritual leaders in America to assure the people that we don’t need to worry about this election because God is on the throne. Max Lucado wrote an article for Fox News. Steven Curtis Chapman even wrote a song, “God is on the throne.” Pastors are tweeting and preaching. Don’t worry, be happy, God is still on the throne.

There, there. god is on the throneIt reminds me of Pastor Lovejoy in the TV cartoon, The Simpsons, whose answer to anyone in distress is, “There, there.” It’s something to say when you don’t know what to say.

We are supposed to be comforted, knowing that no matter who wins the election, we’ll all be okay. God is sovereign. God is the King above all earthly kings. God is on the throne. The implied message is this election is not a big deal and your vote doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter who sits in the Oval Office since God is on the throne.

There, there.

These pious messages minimize our responsibility but they also minimize the threats facing our nation during this election. Anybody who thinks everything is going to be alright in America after this election is just not paying attention. No matter who wins the presidential election, these threats remain:

  • Terrorism
  • Mass migrations of people
  • Nuclear war
  • Instability in the Middle East
  • Climate change
  • $19 Trillion National Debt
  • Deep mistrust and divisions in America

The Rest of the Story

God is in control. That’s true. But, it’s only half the message. There is a condition. We must be on God’s side. There is no comfort for those who reject God and proudly follow their own way. But, for those who humbly bow before God and seek to follow God’s ways, great blessing is promised.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance.” Psalm 33:12

The message, “God is on the throne,” is good news for those who follow God’s ways. For those who don’t, be warned, “God is on the throne.” Psalm 1 gives a vivid picture of the contrast between those who walk with God and those who choose another path.

“For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.” Psalm 1:6

Also, God works through our free will. That’s why our vote matters. Not only does our nation honor our vote, so does God. God is in control. But, God is not a control freak who puts good leaders in office even though we elected immoral leaders. God can, but chooses not to turn a childish tyrant into a selfless, compassionate, reasonable leader. But, a selfish tyrant who falls to his/her knees and begs God’s forgiveness and humbly requests wisdom is a prime candidate to receive forgiveness, transformation and is on the road to being a great leader.

Abraham Lincoln understood this. When asked if he believed that God was on the union’s side, this was Abraham Lincoln’s response:

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side;
my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

Yes, God is on the throne. But, we must decide who will be in the White House, the Congress, the state houses and city councils. You have a voice. If you have this precious right and privilege, Vote!

Read also:

Hope for 2017 – Checks and Balances

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 20 2016

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

Sep 09 2016

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 2016

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 2016

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

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