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Discipline

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Discipline. I didn’t like it as a child; I don’t like it as an adult. Even though I know why and understand it better, that does not mean I like it any better. Hebrews is very clear as to why God disciplines us: “…but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness, for the moment all discipline seems painful than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

For the rest of my thoughts on this topic, please check out my other blog here.

You might be thinking, “Boy. Bill sure took the easy way out today.” Well…yes and no. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is Braden’s (our grandson) 12th birthday. Since we are unable to get there, but more importantly we would barely get to see him due to football practice tomorrow night and school on Thursday, we couldn’t see much sense in driving 4 hours for an hour peek at him. But he is off school on Friday so we plan to leave Thursday and spend the whole day with him on Friday then return Saturday morning.

So with the short week and a very busy 3 days, my priorities have to shift some to getting things done among the visits I have with various people Monday through Wednesday. My plan is to post one more time this week (the weekend) and then hopefully find my life back to normal…whatever that is. 🙂

Have a great rest of the week!

Tips#4

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

I apologize. I haven’t been as energetic posting this week as I had planned. I wanted to give a few days for the RoadID video of me and Jo to hopefully find some traction but then life hit and has a way of interrupting. I’m sure you know what I mean so I won’t belabor that point. I’d like to continue my series on “Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things.” You can read the previous 3 “Tips” posts here, here, and here.

#8- Don’t Play the Avoidance Game.  One of the most common reasons people don’t respond to a friend or person in need is fear. That’s right. Fear. Fear of saying the wrong thing. Fear of not knowing what to say. So they say nothing. Not only do they not say anything but they also avoid the whole situation.  They ignore the person’s pain completely. And in all honesty, that is sometimes more hurtful than truly trying to be a caring friend and saying the wrong thing or being tongue-tied. Not saying or doing anything or staying away can cut deeply.  Don’t stay away!

#9- Don’t Pledge General Help. “If there is anything I can do let me know.” “If you need me give me a call.” I don’t know how many times I have heard this said by some well-wisher at a funeral. I know they mean well but I have yet to find someone calling someone and saying, “You know. It’s been a hectic two weeks with mom being sick and then having her funeral last week. I really could stand to have my house cleaned. You said I could call you for anything. I’d like to ask for your help.” So be careful of pledging general help. Now…offering specific things like maybe babysitting or taking food or “running interference” is more like it.

#10- Don’t Condemn Them. The last time I looked we were not God. To pronounce God’s judgment on someone or to maybe toss out a false and helpful tidbit is uncalled for. I’m thinking of Job’s so-called friends right now: “What secret sin are you hiding?” “What are you doing that God is trying to get you to stop?” “Maybe He is trying to get you to stop smoking or (fill in the blank).” Do you remember the time in Jesus’ ministry when the disciples asked, “Who sinned? Him or his parents”? The truth is we have no idea what God is doing so why pretend to? Worse yet, why accuse? We do live in a broken world so death and suffering is part and parcel of it. But don’t condemn.

I hope these posts have been helpful to you. I was mindful of them as I visited in the hospital yesterday, especially since I was shy of details. May they help you be a better “minister” to hurting people.

Tips#3

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

I’ve been addressing a very touchy subject which really affects those who are struggling with pain and suffering. What sometimes happens is well-meaning people saying stupid ignorant things for various reasons. I’ve been using a book by Dave Furman called Being There as a reference.  You can check out the two previous posts on this subject here and here.  My summary of the first two posts of “Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things” is below. For a fuller discussion please check out the links to the previous posts.

#1- Don’t Be the Fix-it Person

#2- Don’t Play the Comparison Game

#3- Don’t Make It Their Identity

#4- Don’t Promise Deliverance Now

#5- Don’t Encourage Them to Just “Move On”

#6- Don’t Bring on the Inquisition.  The last thing a person suffering needs is the 3rd degree. When I was in the ER hallway for 8 hours following my bike wreck, I had some come by to see if I was okay. I was so grateful they didn’t give me or Jo the 3rd degree. Was it a car? Where was it at? Did he go into a ditch? All sorts of scenarios went through peoples’ minds I’m sure, but they were gracious enough and didn’t ask. Since I was somewhat out of it from time to time they were also wise enough not to text my phone.  If you find yourself in a visiting situation, this is not the time to “play Job’s friends” and ask questions like “Was it his/her fault?” If you are at a funeral home, don’t go asking if the person was close to the deceased person. When at a loss for words the best thing to say may be, “I just want you to know I love you and am praying for you.” The Bible says to “Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.”  So…do you really think I wanted to hear questions?

#7- Don’t Be Hyperspiritual.  I’ve heard this. You have too. Sadly, and to my horror, I’m sure I have even said it.  Can you imagine how insensitive it is to go up to someone who has just lost a baby or a father or a (fill in the blank) and say, “Praise the Lord! They are in heaven!” Or “Praise the Lord no more pain!” It is one thing to agree with the grieving person who might say that, but to offer it? WOW! That is the height of insensitivity. How about the cliches we use: “Look on the bright side.” What bright side? “I’ve just lost someone close to me for crying out loud!” Sorry…better get off my soapbox.  Again, the best thing to do is just be there.

Whew! I am long-winded. I’ll continue this another post. Please feel free to comment and if you think this is helpful please pass it along.

Tips#2

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

As promised (I know you were waiting with baited breath), I want to continue my posts on basically what to say and what not to say to a person who is hurting or grieving. These are adapted from the book by Dave Furman called Being There. The first three were in this post and while I’m going to list them here, you can check out a further explanation by checking out the post.

#1. Don’t Be the Fix-It Person.

#2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game.

#3. Don’t Make it Their Identity.

#4. Don’t Promise Deliverance Now. This is really huge right now in the religious world. False teachers/cult leaders/prosperity teachers and other heretical personalities are promising deliverance. You know how it works. They come to you saying, “I just know you are going to be healed. God has told me He will do that.” They might even tell you to think positive. Think good thoughts, happy thoughts. Get rid of all negativity. Kum-ba-yah and all that other rot.  IMHO you are not there to be their personal faith guru or their guarantor of God’s healing power. I get so sick of heretics making false claims of healing, getting peoples’ hopes up only to watch them and their faith come crashing down because “God didn’t come through.” I do like what the author says is key to this thought: “Instead of promising deliverance in this life, point them to God’s presence and a future hope that will never let them down.” (p.119)

#5. Don’t Encourage Them to Just “Move On.” You find this in the more “I’m going to take you to the good side by constantly telling you to leave all your troubles behind” kind of person.  That approach seems so calloused if you ask me.  This person is literally telling the hurting person his/her life has been on hold for way too long and it is time get over it.  Now…granted there is a fine line between wallowing in your pity and grieving appropriately. Grieving is so essential, but so is adequate grieving. When we, by our words or actions, tell people it is high time they got over their grieving, we are essentially saying, “I’m tired of dealing with this issue with you.”  One of the things I keep telling myself is people grieve differently and at different speeds. Do I think some people “milk” it? Sure. But, at the same time, who am I to think someone “ought to be over it by now”?

Well, I’m sorry this has gotten so long. I didn’t think I had this much in me. 🙂 Anyway, I’ll post some more tips in another day or two. I invite you back for another visit. And feel free to share this if you think it will help someone.

 

Tips

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Not restaurant tips but helpful tips. Further explanation: I just finished a book by David Furman entitled Being There. David lives with a chronic nerve disease so he was passing along what it was like and also how we as friends and followers of Christ can just “be there” for people. One chapter was titled Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things.  He gave a list of 10 infamous things to remember when trying to help/minister to those who are hurting.

He introduces the tips with a story. I’ll abbreviate it. Two pilots were landing in a small city and accidentally touched down at a much smaller private airport seven miles away from their intended destination. They barely survived a crash landing. During their approach they were in touch with the control tower and were told they were 15 miles away from their target.  They responded they had their target in sight and were going to land.

Upon landing they had to stomp on their brakes extra hard to avoid going over a ledge, and nearly crashed the plane. They admitted to being shocked at their mistake and told investigators that they saw the lights of the airport in front of them and so they landed there. They honestly thought it was the right airport!

How crazy is that story? But it lends itself to what David is about to tell us.  It doesn’t matter how sincere you are if you are landing in the wrong place. We can be really sincere in trying to help people but saying and doing the wrong thing can be (or should I say “is?”) bad. It can be devastating to the hurting person. Okay…so what are his 10 “laws?” I’m going to split the 10 into 2 posts so as not to overwhelm or go too long.

#1. Don’t be the Fix-it Person.  Don’t be the person who offers unsolicited advice or unsolicited medical “miracles” to the person who is hurting. Don’t you think they have tried about everything already? I’m sure if they are seeking to be free from the chronic pain they have gone to a ton of doctors and have probably tried every homegrown recipe there is. Instead of advice, ask questions to understand them and their situation better.

#2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game.  When you talk to people don’t try to compare their sickness, pain, illness to yours or someone else. Your occasional gout flare-up is nothing like the pain from chemo. Your granny’s (from your third cousin removed) illness is not the same. Don’t compare the person with yours or anyone else.  Above all…don’t start with “At least”…they are better off or something cockeyed like that.

#3.  Don’t Make it Their Identity.  In other words, every time you see or talk to that person don’t ask them about their illness or their bank account or whatever it is that has them in pain. Don’t make that their identity. In fact, sometimes it is best just not to bring it up. Maybe a slight mention when it arises but stay away from identifying them with the illness or pain.

Okay…I’m going to stop there. This is getting way too long. I’ll continue with the next post. Hope these help.

Test

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

Although I don’t subscribe to everything in his books, my favorite of the ones he wrote was Wild at Heart. I’m speaking of John Eldredge and what became his seminal book. He had a statement that became a mantra for many men, me included, for a long time.

Every man has a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.

The beauty to rescue is easy for me. It is Jo.  She is my #1 priority.

It is the other 2/3 of that equation which is my challenge.

I fight a daily battle with sin. Since I live on Planet Earth; I am a man i.e human; I am a sinner. True…a sinner saved by the merciful and powerful grace of Jesus, but a sinner nonetheless. I will battle my flesh til the day I breathe my last breath. (I don’t believe in sinless perfection here on earth).  Ephesians 6 is clear that my battle is “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (6:12 ESV).

Every man has an adventure to live. It is easy to settle in. No excitement. No adventure. No challenge. While I love what I do as a pastor, I also realize there is “another part of me” that wants a challenge. I know not all men feel this way. Some are content…way content. I am content to a point. I love Jo. I love my girls, son-in-law and grandson. I love my brothers and their families. But those don’t count in the contentment scale.  Neither does loving what I do.  Some men hunt. Some fish. Some build things. Some snow or water ski. Some play competitive basketball or another sport. Me? I cycle. I love the challenge of climbing a hill (even if it is super slow). I love sweating. I love the euphoria of coming down a hill much faster than I went up. I love the tired feeling when I am done. It is a good tired.  I love it when my legs are toast after a ride and “toasty” for the rest of the day.

Maybe that is why I am challenging myself with the MS150 this coming Saturday. But I do know it was the reason I got up early to have my Quiet Time on Monday (a holiday) before I headed for Linton, IN on my bike. It was 15 miles of hill after hill. Then it got flat about 1/2 way through, but the 9 mph wind was against me for the next 15 miles.  It was a test. A challenge I wanted to take. Jo stayed with me as she followed me in my truck. And if the truth be known…it was for her too. I wanted her to be proud of me (it’s a man thing trust me).

I finished the 30.9 miles in 2:15. The heat index had climbed to 85+ by then (10:30) so I called it a day. I do have some sense about me still. 🙂 🙂  In my head, I passed the test. And yes…I was proud of that. We did go out to eat and then I took a nap in the afternoon. On purpose.  But it was good.  I could wax spiritual about all of this. But why? I found out something about myself…and the God to whom I prayed for strength. We did it.

YES…WE DID IT!

Advice

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Several thoughts go through my head concerning advice. It is warranted? Is it kind? Harsh? Does it come from someone who cares about me? Is it solicited or unsolicited?

It’s not always easy listening to someone else, whether they have our good in mind or not. None of us like to be someone’s verbal punching bag.  Admittedly, the hardest advice to take is that which is corrective. The passage of Scripture I’m speaking about this Sunday is one of those: Proverbs 6:1-15. I’ve titled it Pull Up a Chair because I want it to be like we are asking someone to come sit with us for a spell and chat.

There is so much practical advice in this passage of Scripture!  Here is how I’m approaching it:

Don’t get entangled.  (Verses 1-5)  Some very practical advice tangled up in things we need to avoid. In particular, co-signing on a loan. There is a lot to say about getting ourselves tangled up.

Don’t be lazy. (Verses 6-11)  No one wants to be compared to a slug let alone be called one! Laziness is something to avoid.

Don’t be divisive. (Verses 12-15).  There is no doubt we get our fair share of snakes in the grass. Divisive people are charming on the outside but snakes on the inside. We are being warned against them.

These are all common everyday issues. Solomon gives some very wise advice. I’m praying I share it with loving candor, sort of like pulling up a chair and having a heart-to-heart chat.  Your prayers would be appreciated.

Miscellaneous

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

I’ve been somewhat absent here this week. Life has a way of doing that you know? Tuesday afternoon I made an hour trip to Greenwood to visit someone in the hospital. Cancer is an ugly disease and what he has is especially vicious.  Please pray for Billy & Becky as they pray for God’s healing or His will. He has fought for two years with an incredible will to live.  This is where I wish I was Jesus…I could speak the word and he would be instantly healed. But I’m not. I just believe in the power of prayer, but also the reality of God’s sovereign will.

Today is my daughter Janna’s birthday. I will not tell her age but simply say she is less than 40. Just less than. 🙂 God blessed me and Jo with two beautiful girls-Tami & Janna. I am proud of both of them.  But this is Janna’s birthday and a tribute to her. I am so thankful God blessed us with her. She and Tami were so-o-o-o different. Where Tami would sit for long periods of time with me and let me read to her (and eventually turning that around), Janna would have nothing to do with that.  Her learning curve was different. “You won’t teach me how to put those little shape things in that box. I’ll do it myself at my own speed.” “I’ll learn to read when I’m good and ready to read.” (She did). I am thankful God gave her to us. I am thankful for the woman, wife, and mother she has become. (Both those latter ones she was not interested in for awhile). I am thankful she still loves her dad (and mom), even though we are getting old. And I’m thankful she loves Jesus. I don’t have a song from 1979 that I liked. It was the disco era and…well you know…  But I did find the song we danced to at her wedding. She was a Stryper fan as was I so this is the song she chose. Yeah, I know…the hair.  🙂 🙂 🙂  Happy Birthday Janna!

Today I get to meet a camera crew. The folks from RoadID are coming to film me for a promotion video.  For those who may not know: I was hit while riding my bike by a hit-n-run driver on November 7, 2016. I was pretty much recovered from that when I had a more devastating wreck while going downhill on February 17, 2017. I broke my collarbone, 3 ribs, did a face plant, split my helmet in 3 places and had other abrasions. When the squad came I pointed to my RoadID for them to get contact and medical information. Click on the sidebar to find out more information. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings. Hope you have a great day.

Wonderful

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

I was getting out of my truck the other day to lock a door and had my music blaring loud playing. I honestly wasn’t thinking anything about it since I tend to listen to my music a lot little louder than Jo likes it.  But she wasn’t with me; I was heading for the gym to work out; so I opened my door to get something at the church building and left the door open. Two people were talking and all of a sudden, the man who is close to my age said, “I love your choice of music Bill!” Say what? Someone else likes my choice of music? So I made a comment about the artist being from the ’70s and all of a sudden he shouted out the words to part of the chorus which came on that moment. I cracked up! I think the young lady who was there had to be wondering what is wrong with these two old codgers. 🙂

My song this week is NOT a Christian song, unless you look at it as a man’s thoughts about his wife. I do.  After 45 years I still feel this way about Jo. We have both changed. Wrinkles have replaced smooth skin. There is a bit more weight on both of us. There is less hair on our heads. We aren’t as active and energetic as we used to be.  I have put her through the wringer-moving more than we should have (much of it due to my arrogance). We have had our emotional ups and downs. She has put up with my bike wrecks and surgeries as a result. But she still loves me. Go figure!

She’s some kind of wonderful. These past two years have shown me more than ever how much she loves me. And have shown me how much I love her and how valuable she is to me.

My song this week is a feel-good song.  It is a good toe-tapping song. Maybe even one which will take you down memory lane. The only “Christian” part of this besides love for your mate, is Mark Farner gave his life to Christ and sang about the “sweet loving Savior” when he redid it.

Lonely???

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

Back in the 1970s a group which seemed totally out of left field made an impact on the music world. In a world of heavy and hard music came a threesome who played mostly acoustic music. No blaring guitar riffs which went on and on. No double kick bass on the drums. No speed drumming. No thumping bass guitar beating out a low end rhythm and sound. Even some of the lyrics were strange or seemingly incomplete/incoherent:

“I’ve been to a desert on a horse with no name it felt good to be out of the rain.” Some speculated it was about heroin.

“Oz never did give nothing to the tin man that he didn’t, didn’t already have/ And  cause never was the reason for the tropic of Sir Galahad.” Say what?

Others were fun songs. Ventura Highway. Muskrat Love.

Some were philosophical. “Don’t cross the river if you can’t swim the tide.” Makes sense to me.

But there was one which struck a chord for many. It is my song for the week. The late Dan Peek, was a member of America for years but left all the fame and fortune behind to follow Jesus.  I still have his vinyl album called “All Things are Possible,” his first release to the Christian market. Same signature sound. Smooth. Acoustic. Mellow. But the one song America did is the one I’m highlighting this week. I’ve got Dan’s music (as well as America’s) on my Spotify playlist and this song came buzzing by me this week. I’m going to put Dan’s version first here and then America’s version here. You can hear the difference because Dan found the answer.