Category Archives: Pastor Scott Cundiff

Good Friday is a “No Parking Zone”

parkingThe story of the Crucifixion is powerful. The cross was more an instrument of torture than it was one of execution. Some film makers have made it their mission to portray the agony of the cross with as much graphic realism possible.  Maybe it’s that realism or something else but it seems to me that many Christians are stalled at the cross, thinking it is what Easter is all about.

It’s not. Easter is about victory, hope, and redemption. The only reason to go to Good Friday is because we can’t get to Easter without it. However, the enduring symbol of Christianity isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be) a crucifix. Rather, it’s an empty cross. The reason we don’t make a cross with its victim our primary symbol isn’t because we can’t bear seeing Jesus hanging on it. We make an empty cross our primary symbol because Jesus is no longer on the cross. He has defeated it and all it stood for.

So, for believers, Good Friday is a “No Parking Zone.” We spend time on Good Friday remembering the cross and especially the love of Jesus for us that caused him to endure it. But we happily turn the page to Sunday morning, Resurrection Day.

Easter services shouldn’t be about the Crucifixion. References to the cross should be about Christ’s victory over it. If pastors and other church leaders have done their job the ordeal of the cross should have already been brought to the attention of the Church. That paves the way for Easter.  Individuals too should make it their practice to visit the cross on a regular basis, but not park there.  Its the Resurrection that transforms the crucifix into an empty cross and its the Resurrection that should be our primary focus.  Let’s turn the page from Good Friday and celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and what it means to us.

Reflections on the second anniversary of my retirement

IMG_2465.JPG Wow, retirement anniversary number two.  It was the first Sunday of May, 2013 that we concluded our pastoral ministry and entered into retirement.  In our case, we retired to travel and the very next day we drove off with our RV, starting the next primary chapter of our lives.

This last year has been terrific.  We traveled from Houston to the northwestern corner of the continental United States and then journeyed at a leisurely pace south along the western coast where we enjoyed amazing scenery and cool Pacific Ocean temperatures.  We visited numerous national parks and, in general, had a blast.

100_3734.JPGOur winter and early spring has been spent doing a variation of our fulltime RVing lifestyle.  We’ve volunteered at the Texas San Jacinto Battleground/Battleship Texas State Historic Park.  In exchange for donating 100 hours of our time each month we’ve enjoyed “free parking.”  That “trade” has saved us some serious, and needed, cash! We’ve thoroughly enjoyed this experience which allowed us to do some very interesting things while being close to family and friends.  While we’re more than ready to begin our travels again we enjoyed the volunteering experience enough that we’ve already signed up to do it again next year.

I did a few more clergy-like things than I did our first year but not a lot.  I filled for our pastor when he was away, filled in for our Sunday School teacher (who happens to be my son) when he was away, did a baby dedication, and finalized my series of books of devotionals.  Aside from that I’ve happily sat in the pew, appreciating the ministry of others.
clearlakenaz.jpgAll in all, we’ve spent over 4 months in the Houston area during this stay.  That means we suspended our “church hopping” ways and settled into a more typical church attendance routine.  While visiting many different churches during our travels is enjoyable we’ve missed the sense of community associated with being a part of a congregation.  This being our second winter as part of our home church helped us feel more a part of things.  It’s interesting to me how things we at first felt were somehow different become, in just a few weeks, just “the way it is done here.”  One thing that become increasingly clear is that no church can be evaluated in just a week or two.  Churches have personalities and that personality isn’t apparent until one is part of the congregation (and involved beyond an hour on Sunday mornings) for a while.  Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy visiting churches, but I know that being a regular, contributing part of a church family is superior.

So, I’d say retirement is going quite well, thank you!  We’re well aware that we are blessed to live this life and we don’t take it for granted.

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Thinking about the tomb that first Easter morning

empty-tombIn a cold, dark, dead tomb a corpse is wrapped in a shroud. No motion, no life.

Then, there’s a small motion as cells in the body begin returning to life. Tissue begins to regenerate and suddenly the body moves as the dead man takes a deep breath.

He stirs and finding himself bound by the shroud casts it off. He sits up and then removes that which was wrapped around his head and lays it off to the side.

There’s nothing frightening about all this. In an unexplainable way it all feels “right” – the way it should be.

In a flash of brilliant white light an angel appears in the tomb. The angel immediately falls to the ground, bowing, “My Lord and my God” he says.

At that moment the stone sealing the entrance to the tomb is rolled away. A second angel bows low, “My King,” he says.

The Resurrected One smiles and cheerfully replies, “Good morning! I think I’ll go for a walk in the Garden.”

Thinking about Good Friday

old-rugged-cross1I fear that too many people think the primary focus of Good Friday is supposed to be about how much Jesus suffered on the cross – and, we certainly do need to remember that. But really, the primary focus should be this: Jesus loved me that much. It’s that realization that should stun us, humble us, and cause us to bow in complete surrender to him.

My how things have changed

As a young preacher (and I started preaching at age 16) I was encouraged to use lots of Scripture references in my preaching.  I probably overdid it and over time dialed things back, especially as I moved away from proof texting.

Still, I often mention different verses in a sermon, generally to give an example of what I’m talking about.

At first, I took strips of paper and numbered them in the order of verses I intended to mention.  I bookmarked my Bible with those bits of paper so I could easily find the verses.  As you can guess, it wasn’t a very good plan and sometimes left me searching, first for that numbered slip of paper and, not seeing it for some reason, for the passage itself.

My next plan of action was to type the verse directly into my notes.   That solved the slips of paper problem and worked okay.  However, at some point it dawned on me that I was going to be typing some verses many times in my preaching career.

 So, I hit upon a plan.  Every time I referred to a verse, I’d take time to type it onto a 3×5 card.  In my sermon notes, I simply included the reference.  I’d organize the cards in order for that sermon, then, after the service, I’d file the cards by book of the Bible.

From that point on a part of sermon preparation was to go through my Bible verse file and see if I’d already added the verses I wanted for the sermon.  I’d add the news ones for that sermon and then file them after the sermon.

As you can guess, after 20 years of so of preaching, I developed quite a file system.  It was so useful that it crossed my mind that the file box and cards needed to be placed into the hands of some young preacher when my preaching days were over.

Then in the mid-1990’s I added a computer to my study and things began to change.  I now had the Bible in electronic form and in multiple translations.  Inserting the text of a verse into the sermon notes was a simple copy/paste process.  My extensive collection of 3×5 cards was no longer necessary.

For years the file box remained on my desk simply because that is where it had always been.  Finally, needing desk space, I moved it to storage in the attic.  There it stayed for several years until today.

I decided it was time for me to clear out the attic and there, covered with dust, was my old file box of scriptures.  In spite of the countless hours of work represented by those 3×5 cards it was time for it to go.  I reluctantly brought the poor old filebox down, took these final photos of it, and put it all in the recycle bin.  Just awhile ago the pickup crew came, and not knowing or caring what was in the bin, carried it off.

Looking back on my system, I think I hit on a good plan.  I accomplished exactly what needed to be accomplished.  Not only that, but by typing out the passages, I became more intimate with them.

Still, over time, things change and the need for that approach is now part of my personal past.  Happily, even though the way I handled the Bible has changed, I’m glad to report that it’s message is just as current and needed as ever before.

Exporting a Google Calendar for a nicer print job — *UPDATED*

I’ve been working on exporting a Google Calendar so it can be printed. I know Google Calendar has a print option, but the results are anything but satisfactory. The events are truncated and the font is pitifully small. Also, it’s impossible to format items.

Anyway, here’s my work around solution. (This an update to this post)

1. Download and install Mozilla Sunbird. (note: Sunbird is no longer being updated, but you can still download it here.
2. Go to your Google Calendar…under “My Calendars” click on settings
3. In the calendar settings, get the ical “private address”
4. Open Mozilla Sunbird — select “File, Subscribe to Remote Calendar”
5. Enter the private address – the Sunbird Calendar will now populate with the Google Calendar Data – enter your username and password when prompted (note: edits you make will now be automatically changed on your Google Calendar – it’s two way – if you don’t want this right click on the calendar name on the left, properties, mark it “read only”)
6. Click on View, then select month
7. Edit the events to suit
8. Click on File, Page Setup, switch to landscape
9. Click on Print, insert a title if you want, change to the monthly grid layout
10. Print it

You now have a nicer looking printed calendar than you have if you print directly from Google Calendar.

Note: If all this sounds too complicated check out my post on WinCalendar.

Check out these Google Calendar related posts.

Printing a better Google Calendar using WinCalendar

The other day I heard from the creator of WinCalendar. He’d read my multistep work-around for printing a nicer looking Google Calendar and he graciously offered me a license for his software. WinCalendar isn’t free but, on the other hand, it isn’t a work around either. Once its installed opening a fully editable version of your Google Calendar in Word or Excel is just a couple of clicks away. On my Office 2010, the software added a new WinCalendar tab. Configuration is straight forward, and once done, clicking on the new tab and then picking “Calendar Maker” makes the magic happen. Within a few seconds there’s a Google Calendar ready to edit or print. It looks much better than what I get if I use the Google Calendar print option which offers no editing capabilities at all, truncates the events, and uses a too-small font.

Now, the initial installation for me had a few rough spots, 95% of which had little to do with WinCalendar. My Microsoft Word complained about security (something well described in the WinCalendar documentation). However, I had some problems importing all day events that repeat each year, like birthdays and anniversaries. I told the guys from Sapro Systems, makers of WinCalendar, about it and within a day they updated their program so it would properly handle those events. Later on I realized that the main cause of the problem was the manner in which I imported the data into the Google Calendar in the first place, inadvertently creating, I think, a non-standard format. I think the quick response with no “it’s not our fault” attitude from WinCalendar was quite good.

At this point I think my work around for printing a better Google Calendar is okay, but for most church and school secretaries and others who generally do the real work in printing newsletters, etc. that include calendars the WinCalendar approach is the way to go. The Sapro Systems folks also tell me that they offer discounted prices to churches and other non-profits. Check it out at WinCalendar.com.

Check out these Google Calendar related posts. 

Doing a mail merge from Google Contacts in Gmail

This post has been updated…check it out here.

I’ve used Outlook for a long time and because of that I’ve always used PDAs and later on Smartphones running Windows systems so I could use the syncing capabilities between the device and my computer. However, the times are changing and I’ve finally made the move to an Android Smartphone. I’m happy with the phone but using Outlook is now rather unhandy. Once I got the calendar issues sorted out I moved my attention to printing mail labels, something that’s quite easy to do using Microsoft Word/Outlook. Still, if I want to be able to update someone’s mailing address when I’m out of the office and have it be automatically synced for doing a mail merge in Word, I need to find a non-Outlook based solution. I think I have it and it’s just one step more than what I did before.

  1. In contacts on the Android or in my associated Gmail account, I make sure everyone on the mail list is in a mail list group.
  2. Note: There’s a bug in the Gmail contacts that causes problems with the address field.  If new contacts are entered on the Android this works…if entered through the website using a computer it doesn’t work.
  3. Then, in Gmail, I go to Contacts, click on “More Actions” and then “Export” – then I pick the mail list group using the Outlook, CSV format.
  4. Let the file open in Excel, the delete all columns except for First Name, Last Name, Home Street, Home City, Home State, Home Postal Code
  5. Save the file as CSV – remember the location of it
  6. Open Word (I’m working in Office 2010 so other versions may be somewhat different)
  7. Click on the mailings tab, then “Start mail merge” then pick the wizard
  8. From here Word will take you by the hand for the actual creation of the labels

Exporting a Google Calendar for a nicer print job

I’ve been working on exporting a Google Calendar so it can be printed. I know Google Calendar has a print option, but the results are anything but satisfactory. The events are truncated and the font is pitifully small. Also, it’s impossible to format items.

Note: this method has been updated….read it here.

Anyway, here’s my work around solution.

1. Download and install Mozilla Sunbird.
2. Go to your Google Calendar…under “My Calendars” click on settings
3. Export the calendar to your computer and then unzip the file
4. Open Mozilla Sunbird and drag the .ics file into it
5. Click on View, then select month
6. Edit the events to suit
7. Click on File, Page Setup, switch to landscape
8. Click on Print, insert a title if you want, change to the monthly grid layout
9. Print it

You now have a nicer looking printed calendar than you have if you print directly from Google Calendar.

Note: If all this sounds too complicated check out my post on WinCalendar.

Check out these Google Calendar related posts.

Office 2003 menu for Office 2010

Some of my Microsoft Office applications were 10 years out of date so a few months ago I decided to take the plunge and update to Office 2010.  I can tell it’s better but why Microsoft decided to dump their menu for these programs is beyond me.  I’ve spent a lot of time searching for some basic commands.  I’ve even, for the sake of office time, saved the document to the older format and moved it to my desktop computer which hasn’t been upgraded yet, and finished it there.  I had one Powerpoint presentation all finished except that I wanted the slide numbers to show.  After 5 minutes of trying to do it, I saved the presentation, opened it on my desktop in an older version of Powerpoint, turned on page numbering, saved it and walked away.

Finally I got the bright idea that out here on the internet somewhere, someone must have written an add on that restores the old menu.  Sure enough, there is.  It’s called UBitMenu and it’s a free download for private use.  Now, let me mention that I’ve not thoroughly tested this, but it appears to be just what the doctor ordered.  It adds the “classic menu” to Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.  Check it out here. Once installed, you’ll see a “menu” tab.  Click on it, and you’ll feel right at home again.

Also, I’ll mention that I’ve always liked the Windows 95 start menu.  When XP came out it had the built in option to turn that menu on rather than the “new and improved” XP version.   Then, when Windows 7 came out (I really like it, by the way) it had the Vista menu only.  Off I went to the internet and, once again, I found the problem solved, it’s called Classic Shell and it does just its name implies: it restores the Classic Menu option.