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Absence

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

After a funeral this past Friday an hour away.

A trip Saturday about an hour away for an 11:00 (I was originally told 10:00) graveside service.

An afternoon at Spencer’s Apple Butter Festival where the church had a booth.

A Sunday which includes preaching 2 services, a birthday party of one of the young boys who only wants Pastor Bill to show up (his dad’s words), and a Grace > small group study.

I will heading out Monday for Sandusky, Ohio. Jo’s sister lives there and is in the hospital so I am taking her to deal with all of that. She is meeting her brother, who has already made the trip from Alabama. She does not have wifi and I’m not too sure about her internet, so I am guessing I will be incommunicado at least through Thursday. If I can make it to a Panera Bread I will try to add some “highlights” to your life. 🙂

If not, I’d like to ask prayer for our travels and also for what needs done there (which at this point we aren’t sure of).

Humbling

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

On this Labor Day weekend I salute all who work, those who labor honestly and do all they can to take care of their family. But in all our work there is also something we need to be aware of. It is in this story:

When George Mallory was once asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, he famously answered, “Because it is there.” But in a personal letter to his wife, Ruth, he revealed even more about what drove him. “Dearest…you must know that the spur to do my best is you and you again…I want more than anything to prove worthy of you.”  George left a meaningful legacy that proved worthy of history’s remembrance. But George’s son John wrote something that has challenged me. Proud of his father but sad too, John wrote, “I would so much rather have known my father than to have grown up in the shadow of a legend, a hero, as some people perceive him to be.  (copied from The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine- page 78)

Sadly, we live in an age where “making a living” or “making a name for ourselves” seems to be much more important than making a name with our children. The mountain “was there” but so was his son. It is far more important in my eyes to be a successful father in my daughters’ eyes than to be rich, powerful, or well-known.

Take time this Labor Day to reflect on what you have been blessed with. Work hard at what you do. But don’t forget there are people whom you come home to who don’t care if you are a CEO or a common laborer. Being a hero in their eyes is the prize worth pursuing.

Broken

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Several years ago I read a book by Ed Underwood called When God Breaks Your Heart. Ed had a severe case of leukemia which manifested itself in skin pealing from his body in scratch-defying itching, a bloated body and countless other problems. In one chapter entitled Snake Oil (aptly titled due to the subject matter) he included several quotes. One was “Christians tell me they don’t know what to say, and then they open their mouths to prove it.” Another was “Hurting people are petty people.”

There comes a time in everyone’s life when strength is gone. We find ourselves on the last bit of will or desire to do much of anything, even living. Life falls apart and sometimes we just don’t know what do, where to turn.

I like what the late A.W.Tozer, a Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor once wrote:

It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.

My sermon this Sunday is titled “More Power to Ya” and my original plan was to show this video. While driving to Ohio this past Monday, I heard this song on my Spotify. I’m using it instead.  Prayers would be appreciated.

I made over a four hour trip yesterday (Wednesday) to visit with a couple I married back in 2000. I received word that Mike had cancer all through his body. He has asked me to perform his memorial service so I went to visit but also to talk about that service. I’d like to ask you to pray for Mike and Sheila. The pain for him will become excruciating and the loss will be numbing for her. Thanks.

Whirlwind

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

The definition of a whirlwind is:

“a small rotating windstorm of limited extent”

“a confused rush: whirl  *a whirlwind of meetings

The weekend and then yesterday was just that. Have you ever asked yourself “Where did the summer go?” Well, I had one of those weekends. Busy from the get-go I flew through the weekend with barely a stop. Sure some of it was my doing: I rode my bike some on Saturday (it was a tough choice but I twisted my arm). But the rest of it was just part of the tornado of my life.

But Monday (yesterday) was way out of the ordinary. I woke up at the normal time (3:50) which some people call “O dark 30.” My back pain takes away any chance of me staying or laying in bed to relax. So I got up, had my devotion time, and got Jo up to go the Y.  After a shower and short reprieve, we took off for Ohio (a 4 hour trip made longer by old people stops) 🙂  We picked our grandson up and then turned around and came back home with him in tow. He is going to spend a few days with us. (The big discussion last night was which movie to see: [DespicableMe3 (Gag) or Cars3 (Yeah)] Bet you can’t tell which one I am voting for!!  After the movie is lunch, then he loves to play the Wii (since the Y is closed). I’m hoping for a ride. I get a one day reprieve, although I do have to make an hour away trip to our church camp to visit some campers. Then Thursday, we get to do the whole “drive to Ohio to drop him off so we can turn around and come back” drill.

You know what? I would do it all again just to have some time with him because I know he will soon be getting to the age of “I don’t want to spend any time with my grandparents.” So I’ll take it while I can.

And what do you plan to do on your 4th? Or what did you do on your 4th?  I’m going to miss the salmon on the grille. 🙁

ProblemSolved

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Jo saw this and sent it to me. I laughed.

There are all kinds of leaders and all kinds of people. Some are “take charge” kind of people. Some are “sit back and see what happens” kind of people. Some are “bull in a china shop” type of people. Some are very “laid back” kind of people. Some are “bury their head in the sand” kind of people.  And there are some who are “go with the flow” kind of people.

I am an extreme extrovert. Jo is the opposite. But God has made us this way and put us together for some “odd” reason. She needs my “get-up-and-go” influence and I sometimes need her stabilizing “just slow down” influence. She needs my “here, let me introduce you to my wife” approach and sometimes I need her “let’s just wait to see how this develops” approach. We make a good team.

One of the things that makes me the most upset is when I hear her say, “I’m not a very good pastor’s wife.” WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! And I tell her that. She thinks that way because she doesn’t fit the mold of the “model pastor’s wife.” I’m sorry to say my late mother was one of those and never gave Jo a chance. No, she doesn’t sing solos; lead a ladies Bible study (although she can); speak in public (in front of big groups…although she has done a superb job on Mother’s Day); play the piano; or take charge. She prefers quietly encouraging me in the background, being a fantastic mom and mamaw par excellence; typing the Power Point each week; and a whole host of other things.  I wouldn’t trade her for the world or for any amount of money nor for any woman on the face of the earth.

We make a great team. I’m honored she still wants to be my wife. 🙂

And it is amazing how a post develops because all I started with was a funny saying. (And for the record, that saying describes her. I suspect that is why she sent it to me).

Sacred

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

I’m sorry if you get tired of hearing about this but something has been sitting in my lap for a few days.

Being a victim of a hit and run driver while riding my bicycle has been a tad bit unsettling. Very unsettling for Jo. A tad for me.

But here is what is bothering me. I have been speaking to others-cyclists and non-cyclists-who are appalled at what happened. “How could someone just do that?” “How could someone hit someone and not care?” In fact, just this morning at the Y (Wednesday), I was talking to a man who prefers mountain biking over road biking because he got buzzed on his last ride. His question: “How can anyone be so mean, so uncaring about another human life?”

That really is the crux of the matter, you know? How? How can someone do that to someone else? How can I get buzzed, throw my arms out in question, and get the “royal bird” flashed back at me? That tells me that he/she knew exactly what they were doing.

It comes down to this: Human life is no longer sacred. Human life no longer means much to people. We live in a throw-away society so life is the same. Can there be any other explanation for the pro-choice view of life? I’m going to borrow some words from Jared C. Wilson’s book Unparalleled: How Christianity’s Uniqueness Makes it Compelling:

 Human life isn’t sacred because we managed to be the experiment of nature that finally worked. Human life isn’t sacred because we are beneficial to each other or to society. Human life isn’t sacred when it is wanted or desired or loved. Human life is sacred because God created it in his own image. (p.78-79)

How can anyone read Psalm139:13-16 and not see that uniqueness, that sacredness? God has made us in His image; we are His image-bearers. That doesn’t mean because we are “useful,” but beautiful.

This post was in the germination stage but took root when I read this post by my blogging friend, Jay. Jay directed us to his daughter, Sarah’s blog, where she also included a homemade video.  Powerful stuff. Please take a moment to read both and watch the video.

I’d like to hear your thoughts.

DAD

Friday, June 16th, 2017

If you look at my new header one of the descriptions of myself is “father.”  I have two of the above pictured “hangy down things.” (It has a red string that allows it to hang).  They were gifts from Tami and Janna in 1986. Tami would have been 11 and Janna almost 7. They hang in my office on a file cabinet where I can see them and be reminded of the blessing of being a dad.

It has always been important to me to be a dad. I don’t mean this to sound crude, but anyone can be a father. But being a dad? Lifetime challenge. Being a dad shows it is more than a biological necessity. I didn’t have a good role model, so a lot of mine was trial and error. But I would rather err on the tried-it-but-it-didn’t work side, than on the side that never tried or did anything. I did make mistakes, but I had two very forgiving and loving daughters who chose to love their dad.

This week’s sermon focuses on “The Man God Uses.”  It is actually very practical. I’m not out to put dads into a tailspin caused by the overwhelming guilt of failure.  Here are the qualities I plan to emphasize Sunday:

Holiness

A Pure Heart

A Contrite Heart

Reverence and Awe toward God

Faithfulness

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, looking for men who are fully committed to Him.” 2 Chron.16:9

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL YOU GUYS!!

Your prayers would be much appreciated for Sunday. And in case you missed the last post…today (June 16th) is my 44th anniversary to a wonderful woman.

44

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

 

Okay so this will post a day early. This weekend is Father’s Day (as you probably already know) and I plan to use the weekend post for my sermon.

However, Friday, June 16th is mine and Jo’s 44th anniversary. I’m not going to get all sappy on you. (I’ll save that for her).  🙂  We got married between our Junior and Senior years in college. We dated for just over two years before that.

I could tell you we used to hang around with a group of other students and did some things that we cringe at today. Like crawling through a cave at Carter Caves State Park. Filled with bat guana. Holes so small I wonder now “what were we thinking?” An adventure I’d “shoot” my girls if they ever did. Yeah…our parents never knew.

I played basketball. She tried out for the cheerleading squad but was never chosen. But she was one of the biggest cheerleaders there. She was mine our Sophomore and Junior year. (I didn’t play our Senior year. Thought I would concentrate on studying.  Didn’t help).

We have served in all sizes and shapes of churches. From vibrant to dead end. From pastor to youth pastor. I’ve been asked to leave a few times (no morals charge) and I have left on my own. Ohio to Ohio to Ohio to Indiana to Ohio to Indiana to Ohio and back to Indiana (where we are now).

She never complained. She never balked. She never left. She never left kicking and screaming. She trusted my judgment (Hmmmm) and more so, God’s plan for us.

She hates public speaking. She doesn’t sing solos. She doesn’t play an instrument. But she was and is a fantastic mom and mamaw. She shines in the latter. She does the Power Point each week, faithfully typing it even when we are going to be gone. She loves behind-the-scenes.

She loves me. I have seen how deep her love reaches the past few months as I have had to deal with the two bicycle wrecks, the one in February bringing me close to checking out (if not for my helmet).  She wants to do more and bristles when I do it myself.  Neither one of us looks like we did when we got married.  (I was 6’3″ and 170 lbs. I am now 6’5″ and 215 lbs. I value my life so don’t even ask about her. LOL

I could go on but this has gone on long enough.  Or I could ask, “How much time do you have?” She is my treasure. We have had our ups and downs but have never thought about closing the door. No…we love each other too much for that.  Besides, where else will I find someone who will put up with my cycling nonsense (some might say obsession) and weird humor?

I love you honey. Happy 44th.  https://youtu.be/PEENq0d6fWI

 

Messiahs

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

There are two sides to this post.

Side one: those who have a “Messiah complex.”

Side two: those who put people on a pedestal which sets them up for a fall.

We all know about those with a “Messiah complex.” We usually associate that with a cult or some overbearing leader (usually religious) who thinks he/she is God’s gift to mankind. This person takes control and takes over peoples’ lives, pretending to care, but really seeking the opportunity to pounce. They had them in Jesus’ day. We have them today, most often found in legalistic churches, word-of-faith communities, and sadly, in the daily lives of many unaware people.

It is Side two which gives me greater concern. For some reason, we set people up as our “personal messiah.” What I mean by that is we put too much stock in one person; what they can/cannot do; how they can help us; meet our needs; answer our longings, etc. This can be seen in looking at another person as the one who can make us happy or fulfilled. The plain, rugged truth is only God can do that. If someone sets me on that type of pedestal, I am nothing more than a cheap “knock off.”  I was struck (I chuckled) by something from today’s New Morning Mercies: “Asking someone to be our personal messiah is “like requiring him to be the 4th member of the Trinity and then judging him when he fails.” {Note: substitute the female gender if you prefer}. It just can’t be. It can’t happen. No human can or should shoulder that responsibility. There is only one Savior and people “we aren’t Him.”

This is an important lesson to learn.  Bitterness and disappointment is the result of someone failing to meet our expectations. It is impossible for people to meet my needs. And it is impossible for someone to expect me to meet their needs. Not just impossible. Wrong. My focus, your focus, needs to be where it belongs…on Jesus.

MDRecap

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

In my last post I asked for prayer for several folks and ended with saying my next post (this one) would be a recap of Mother’s Day. If you look here you will see I had help Sunday. I asked three women to speak alongside me. I thought I would give a synopsis of what they spoke about.

But first, they all did a phenomenal job! First to last. I could have totally stayed out of the picture (but I couldn’t) and it would have been fine.

AMY HAMLIN

Amy has been married to a phenomenal man with a very muscular physique (so he says) named Dan (is that good enough Dan?) for 21 years; a mother of 2 boys and a girl; and takes her desire to follow Jesus seriously. Amy spoke about Hannah, the mother of Samuel, who gave her long-awaited son to God. She and Daniel had waited over 7 years so Hannah became very alive to her. Eventually, Hannah’s (and Amy’s) waiting was fruitful and a son was born. Amy did an excellent job of tying in waiting on God and faith. {Note: My apologies to Amy. My original said “close to 18 years” but Dan said, “I know Amy looks young but it has been 21 years.”} I also apologize to Amy for underestimating her time with Dan. 🙂 🙂  And in case you can’t tell, I love these guys.

DIANA MARKLAND

I happen to know Diana pretty well. I work with her everyday. Diana has been married almost 30 years and has two sons. I asked her to speak on being a “warrior woman.” Conversations we have had over the past year or so precluded me asking her on that topic. She has a picture in her office I bought her of a warrior woman.

Diana spoke about being a woman who fights for her marriage, her children, her life…like a warrior. It was very inspirational and challenging to the women who were here.

JO GRANDI

I happen to know this woman!  This June will be 44 years together and that love has brought 2 adult daughters, a son-in-law we love as if he is our own, and of course, the best grandson in the world. (And no, I am not prejudiced! Just the facts). 🙂 Anyway, Jo spoke…haltingly at times…about dealing with my 2 bicycle wrecks and the possibility I could have died on either one, especially the last one. (The face plant and helmet split in three places is a dead giveaway). Jo spoke about feeling “closed in on,” of being rushed before the wreck and how the wreck caused us to slow down and breathe. She closed with a video. Enjoy! I cannot tell you how proud I was of her.

Actually, I was so pleased with all three ladies. I could see a “fear” in them of standing before people, but I also saw a strong confidence because they were God’s spokesperson for that time.  If you would like to hear their talks you can go to the church’s website and listen to the podcast. The strange guy’s voice you hear is mine. 🙂

It was a good and enriching day. Thanks Amy, Diana, and Jo for making it extra special. Now…next year? Look out ladies! I’ll probably be avoided for the whole year now.