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#/DreamBig#GoodRead

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

Every once in awhile (not very often) I will look in the mirror or say to myself, “I wish I was younger.”  After 22 miles on a hot, humid and hilly day in the saddle this past Saturday, I got off my bike completely spent and found myself saying, “I wish I was younger.” (Yeah, I didn’t get any sympathy from my wife either).  When I cut my grass (I walk it) and my back, legs and knees are sore when I’m done, I wish I was younger.  When I look at what used to be Mr. America type muscles (cough! cough! That’s a joke son. I say. I say. That’s a joke) and see that I can no longer get the size I used to (especially since I don’t use steroids), I will say, “I wish I was younger.” When I make my way to bed between 9-9:30 so I can get up at 3:30 and it is still light out, Jo and I will sometimes say, “We’re pathetic.” (Translate: we didn’t do this when we were younger).  When I used to memorize a good part, if not all, of my sermon and now have trouble with the title, I will say, “I remember when I was younger.” 🙂

Just recently I finished a book only I didn’t wait until I was finished to say, “I wish I was younger.” I was saying it all along.  I have loved reading Bob Goff’s books- Love Does and Everyone Always. They were gems to read.  Going on that I picked up his newest book, Dream Big. He didn’t disappoint. His engaging and out-of-the-corner-of-his-mouth way of speaking and writing make me chuckle. It also had me underlining. I took notes. Each chapter began with a short pithy statement that alone was worth the price of the book. It read quickly. It is not filled with deep theological truth that makes you stop and chew on it for days.  That is not his style. But you cannot go away from any one chapter not thinking. His stories capture you. His honesty and transparency are refreshing.  Bob has the ability to laugh at himself and also to be serious about the passions which drive him.

But I wish I was younger.  If I was in my 20s or 30s or even 40s this would be a book I would read over and over, probably once a year. But at age 67 I’m near the end of my dreaming big stage. Not that I’m done dreaming or hoping or wanting to serve, but I WISH I WAS YOUNGER! I’m giving this book to my daughter, Tami, to read. She’s only 45 and has dreams. I want her to pursue them, especially since teaching kindergarten kids in school is no longer what it once was. Masks on kids? Seriously? Social distancing kindergarten kids? Seriously? “Pursue your dreams Tami.” And you who might be reading this: pursue your dreams. Especially if you are young and still have time to dream big.

Yeah…if I was only younger. My suggestion: go out and buy this for someone you love and care about. Read it with them and challenge them. Mentor them to pursue their God-given passions.  Let me leave you with just three quick quotes from his book:

Live on the edge of yikes. (p.155)

I love that!! Here is another:

Be where your feet are. (p.127)

That is an old South saying. And one more:

Don’t act like you got it all figured out. Nobody wants to give that person extra time.  Instead, be humble, self-aware, and punishingly truthful. (p.15)

There are more…way more. Enough to fill two journal pages.  Get the book for yourself and read it.

Dream Big: Know What You Want, Why You Want It, and What You’re Going to Do About It

#Where’sBill?#GreatDisappearningAct

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

I’ve been largely absent from this blog this week. Okay…I haven’t been here at all, except to tell myself I ought to post something. I could shoot you all kinds of excuses but you might think I’m just blowing smoke. I don’t smoke so it can’t be that.  It’s just plain being busy.

Ryan is out of the office this week. I told him several weeks ago I expected him to find a week where he, Hope and the kids can get away. No office. No media (although I have no control over his phone use).  He has been working hard through this whole COVID thing trying to stay in touch with the kids. Lots of ZOOM meetings with them. Studying to make their time productive.  He even had an early Sunday morning time with the elementary kids! They sang; they danced (the kids did); he taught them and they loved it. He did too. But then he would rush to the church building and be one of the 4 who were here-Jo (Power Point); Tami (recording for FB); Ryan (sound and recording); and me (preaching…I think).  He took on the added responsibility of helping get our fledgling recording of the worship started and moving. He also had two weeks of Wilderness Week at our church camp cancelled (they cancelled the whole summer). So along with some frustration was some sadness.  He was tired and wore out.  So they went camping.

Today is his and Hope’s anniversary (#15 I think) and they decided to spend it together backpacking. Not to worry. They spent their honeymoon camping as they traveled cross country.  I affiliate with strange people you know? 🙂 In all honesty, there is no underestimating his value to the team. I am so grateful that he left a secure bank job to become our youth pastor. The dude knows how to minister. 

My week has been full with appointments, one that went way past my normal bedtime.  Yesterday I spent time visiting some folks who would love to be there on Sunday but are being cautious because of underlying health issues.  It was a fun afternoon. But when I do those things it takes me out of the office.

So…out of office…no blog. I know, I know. Makes you sadder than all get out. I love my job. I prefer to call it my calling. I love seeing people. It has been a good week.  I look forward to tomorrow except for the doctor’s visit at 7 a.m. which is a follow-up to lab work from last Friday. But I get to spend the day with Jo! That’s always good.

Hope your week was good. Anything you can share about it that will put a smile to my face?

#47

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

I was in the flower shop yesterday (that is a surprise all its own) when someone asked me how many years of marriage we are celebrating. I said, “47.” She said “Wow! Good for you! We are celebrating 33. We started late.”  People have a hard time believing we are celebrating 47 years because I look no older than 50.  I can see the wheels in their head turning ’round and ’round as they try to do the math. 🙂  So I save them the brain drain and tell them I am really 67, my bride is 69 and we were married while in college.

I met Jo when we were Freshmen in college. She had stayed out a year to work and not study. She had her roommates who became friends; I had complex mates who became friends. Lo, and behold, my friends hung with hers and we became friends.  We did really stupid stuff back then (like crawling through bat guano when we were crawling through caves) but we were young and adventurous.  She really didn’t like me when we first met. Said I was arrogant. Who me? Just because I was a starting Freshman on the basketball team? I didn’t think I was then…but I guess I was. Eventually, my charm won her over and we went out on a date. We went to another town to see the movie Love Story and man was it quiet in the car. She didn’t talk much. I thought she didn’t want to be with me and actually wished she was out with another guy. Come to find out she was sort of shy and didn’t really talk all that much. Oh…how times have changed! But I digress.

Eventually our sophomore year we started dating and except for a break-up by her (twice)  we have been together since.  Our original date to get married was August 18 but the school (where I was working for the summer) threw us a curve ball so we had to move the date to June 16th against the wishes of both our parents. It was either that or be unemployed two weeks from the end of school. We had all our invitations printed when the school told me I didn’t have a job since I would be single and they weren’t hiring single people that summer. So we scrambled to put together a wedding in less than 2 months. She said we could put a notice in the invitations that said “due to unforeseen circumstances we have had to move the date of the wedding.” I said, “I don’t think that would be the best thing to say.” 🙂 She agreed. Anyway, we got married. I had to have my parent’s permission since Ohio required the parties be 21. My father-in-law never let me live that one down.

Wives of ministerial students were tuition-free so that was one reason we didn’t wait until after graduation.  We lived in a too small trailer (I broke every light fixture as I walked through it)  that was moved and the add-on was not even connected to the trailer. We could see ground in the Spring, Summer and Fall and snow in the winter! And that add-on was our bedroom! We were poor college students but that trailer was our home. We loved each other deeply and still do to this day. We have had our tough times like all marriages do. I was way too married to my job. Tragically, I found a lot of my identity there.  On June 3,1975 Tami came along and at one time wondered why she was not in our wedding pictures. 🙂 On August 23, 1979 Janna was born. They were to the two best events that ever happened to me (other than Jo).  Janna gave us Braden on October 17, 2006. That was the next best thing, although I didn’t have anything to do with that!

My life has been full. It has been an adventure (My personal motto is “Live the Adventure”) and I have God to thank for that. He has been involved in my life since I was a child; personally when I came to know Him at the ripe old age of 8; and He has led me through the highs and lows. Jo has been one of the highs and I am forever grateful God brought us together. Life is much different these days. She is retired and prefers to spend her days either at home watching TV or relaxing, or driving all over creation.  If she had her druthers we would live a whole lot closer to Janna and Braden, but she never balked at where we lived and loves the people here in Spencer. Tami lives here in Spencer and teaches in Bloomington. We have found our most satisfying ministry here, and she has been allowed to be herself. I still work full-time as the pastor of people I deeply love.

We found out in the middle of last week that Braden plays his first baseball game tonight (Tuesday) so since I was already planning on taking the day off I surprised her by suggesting we go and watch him play ball, spend the night in Ohio, take him to breakfast (IHOP) and then head home. Yeah, I had to twist her arm for that one. So we head off shortly for what we hope will be a delightful drive and time with Janna and Braden. He is the light of both our lives and keeps us laughing. We want to take advantage of that before he sees his grandparents as too old to be bothered with or acknowledged.

So…thank you love (I call her Honey) for 47 years. My prayer is that we will be see that magical number of 50 together. Sorry this is so long, but I was writing about someone I love. Oh…I could have gone on for much longer.  But I’ll spare you for now. 🙂

#SpecialBlessing#Gift#Birthday

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

I wrote this yesterday, June 3rd, while in Ohio. I did not have the opportunity to post it early and when I came to the office after getting home, the internet was down. (Thank you Comcast. It was down all over is what I heard). Anyway, I am posting this a day late but the sentiment is not any different.  Here is what I wrote:

45 years ago my life changed forever. Given that I’m only in my 50s you are probably thinking that is when I gave my life to Jesus and am celebrating that birthday.  You would be wrong. First, because I’m not in my 50s (I’m 67). Second, even though giving my life to Jesus was the most life-changing event of all, it was not that.

45 years ago today Tamra Jo was born around 9:45 p.m. at Akron General Hospital in Akron, OH. It had been a long day. A normal doctor appointment turned into a toxemia diagnosis which led us to the ER for immediate admittance to the hospital and an induction of labor.  That was about 11:00 a.m.  Around 8 that evening, after going through hours of labor (which Jo does not remember), they began to prep her for a C-section. Then the doctor came in and asked if it would be okay to hold off Jo’s surgery for an hour. The woman next door was trying to have her baby but the heartbeat was getting fainter.  Jo was out of it so I said, “Of course.”  The time finally arrived and he sent me to the waiting room (that was before men were allowed in the delivery room). He came out later to tell me, “Congratulations! You have a healthy baby.”  Me: “What is it?”  Him: “A girl. 7 lb 14oz.”  Me: “Oh.” Disappointed it was not a boy. But one look and that all changed. We only had boy’s names picked out so it took about 3 days for me to name her. (Jo was not thinking very clearly).

She has been a joy to have and raise.  Her heart has always sought God. She stood her ground in high school when a boy made a rude, crude remark to her one time. She hauled off and hit him and said, “Don’t you ever say that to me again.” That’s my girl! She changed her major in college 3 times (Athletic trainer, TV production, teacher). The latter has been her profession for 22 years. After living in Knoxville on her own for 15 years, she moved to Spencer to be closer to her aging parents 🙂 and her nephew. The latter hasn’t panned out as she had hoped but it has been nice to have her close. She may not be a mother (never married) but Jo put it well this past Mother’s Day: She is a mom to 20+ kids every year.

Best thing? Her heart still beats for God. And she still loves us!! How’s that for great?  🙂 Happy Birthday Tami. I love you more than you know.

 

#FromtheHeart#Observations

Friday, May 29th, 2020

This Sunday is a week of transition on several fronts.

First, we plan to meet in person for the first time in at least two months at 9 and 10:45. We will have some safety recommendations in place and we will expect them to be followed in order for all to feel comfortable.

Second, it is a week of transition from the series on Colossians (which I finished last week) to a new series I am starting next Sunday called Promises, Promises.  In our grand scheme of things Ryan was going to preach this weekend so I could go away while he went away this past weekend. However, his plans changed, but then he let it be known that he did not feel he should preach the first Sunday back to in-person worship.  So I changed my plans to be here in the morning and then leave after our worship for a few days in Ohio.

Ryan paid me a great honor by believing I should preach this first Sunday back. As I was studying for it, I decided he has had as much influence, if not more, during this pandemic mess as me, only in a different way. His shepherding of the kids was out-of-this-world and I felt like I wanted to share the “stage” with him. So I asked him to join me for the morning as we just talk about what we have gone through. I drew up four questions I’d like us to answer:

  • What we observed
  • How we felt
  • How we filled our days
  • What’s on the horizon?

Those bullet points might lead you to believe it is about us. It isn’t. Neither one of us would be comfortable if it was. We are going to be sitting in chairs and just talking to the folks as if we were sitting in their living room.  Please feel free to join us at 10:45. That is the only service which will be live streamed.  You can join our FB page at Owen Valley Christian Fellowship-Spencer, Indiana. Ask to be approved and either Diana or Tami will approve you.  You will then have access to our page 24/7,  as well as the live stream.

In any case, would you please pray for me, Ryan and the church as we prepare for Sunday? Thanks.

#MemorialDay#Tribute#Jesus

Monday, May 25th, 2020

Over at my other blog I wrote the following devotion. I decided to do double duty today and also post it here.  My plans today involve working on a sermon, having an early morning ride, then spending the rest of the day with my wife and daughter.  Here is my devotion:

Today has been set aside as Memorial Day. It’s a day of remembrance for those who served in the military. In my 67 years, I have met many who have served. WWII. Korean. VietNam. Desert Storm. Gulf War. Afghanistan. Marines. Navy. Army. Air Force. Reserves. National Guard. Coast Guard. I know some who have come back wounded-physically, mentally, emotionally, socially. I know of spouses back home-families-who anxiously waited for their return.  I simply cannot fathom the agony of ones back home receiving word their loved one-husband, wife, son, daughter, etc.-are coming home, but in a casket. I shudder as I think of that even now.

But I am grateful for each and every one who served to keep something we value-freedom. I hate war. War is a necessary evil though. Sometimes we have to resort to that to preserve something so important. Freedom from the crown. Freedom from slavery. Freedom from oppression and evil. Freedom from terror and fear.

Each week we celebrate another kind of memorial-a memorial of a life given for others. We call it the Lord’s Supper. Someone went to battle for us. Only it wasn’t a battle with swords and guns; it was a battle against sin. Someone who didn’t deserve it went in our place. It was at the cross where the defining battle took place. Seeming defeat became the prelude to a death-defying victory.  This victory is far more important than any battle fought here on earth. This one had eternal implications.

“Thank you Father for the cross. Thank you for Jesus’ willingness to die in my place, to secure my freedom from death, hell, and the grave. I thank you also for each man and woman who served our country. May they know our gratitude today and always. And finally, and more importantly, I thank you for Jesus.”

#FamilyMatters

Friday, May 8th, 2020

There are a series of commercials on TV about an insurance company. Their tag line is “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” They show weird examples of situations they have covered. I can say the same thing after 46+ years as a pastor.  I’m not bragging when I say, “I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.”   Let me tell you: one of the hardest things I have had to deal with is the young person who gives up on his/her parent’s faith because they have seen too much hypocrisy in their parents. Mom and dad saying one thing but doing another.  The teaching in this week’s passage (Colossians 3: 18-4:1) is much needed because marriage has fallen into such disrepute.

Living as followers of Christ is meant to be done in every area of our life. This Scripture is not a marketplace or political commentary.  Don’t even think of taking it there. It is not about a women’s role in society or in the church. It is about followers of Christ who want to live as followers of Christ within their home. In this passage Paul show us two things: 1) It does matter how we treat our family; and 2) it does matter how we treat others.  It runs the gamut of husbands, wives, children, parents, masters and slaves. It ought to be interesting. 🙂

I’d appreciate your prayers as we are once again virtually live.  Ha. We are still honing our equipment and training. We hope to unveil it soon. Our first gathering worship in our building is May 31st. Until then, we meet virtually. I’d appreciate your prayers now and then. Thanks.

#Drive-By

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020

Say the phrase and you are sure to get visions of someone driving by and shooting at will or maybe at a specific target. I want to give a new picture and reality to the word “drive-by.” I realize even as I write this or say this there will be those who disagree; will call me reckless; etc.  Save the hate speech. 🙂

Monday afternoon I was riding my bike. During most of my rides I play mind games with myself.  Or is that mindless games? I don’t ride to think; I ride to relax. I ride to gain perspective because you know how exercise frees the mind, especially when you are in pain. I wasn’t in pain in the sense of hurting, but the 14 mph wind out of the SW was killing me.  Not just hurting…killing me. I rode yesterday also. About froze my you-know-what off since I underestimated the 15 mph W wind that lowered the temps into the 40s. I did stop back at the office and put on some more clothes (arm and leg warmers and a jacket) but didn’t have anything to cover my head or ears. My helmet is designed to allow air flow. Trust me…it did flow through! I wondered if I would have any ears when I got back after my 14 mile ride.

Anyway…it hit me hard on Monday how much I miss seeing the people at the church. I am a social creature.  I sent notes to everyone several weeks ago (over 100). I try to text or call. I preach each week via FB. But I miss the personal touch of seeing, laughing and hugging. So while I was riding an idea came to mind. One I began implementing yesterday. Why not do a version of a drive-by? I hit 4 out-of-town homes yesterday (and one I couldn’t find). No I didn’t throw stones. I threw prayers. Actually, I pulled into their driveway and prayed specifically for them. I texted them to see if they were home afterwards and told them what I did and to look outside. Every family, to a “T,” came outside on their porch to say hi. I stood by my truck, maintained a safe distance, and chatted with them.  Got to see some of the little ones who will give me hugs on Sunday (but could only smile and wave). Even some of the adults who will.  Got to fist-bump a couple teenage boys. And the best medicine of all? I got to laugh with all of them. I have a mask but one wasn’t needed…not at the distance I was at (except for the teen boys. I had to fight off their hugs. Yeah, and if you believe that I have some swamp land in Arizona I’d be glad to sell you).

All in all, it was a great afternoon. Gave me the social interaction I needed. Hopefully gave them a sense that they are loved and missed.  I plan to do take a couple hours in the afternoons and do some more drive-bys until this thing is over and we can see each other in person and up close.

#Anniversary#Celebration#Honored

Monday, April 20th, 2020

I took a break last week from posting on this blog except for the sermon. After posting on two blogs for over a month, a break was needed. Something happened yesterday that I wanted to share.

April 13th is a day that has significance to me.  On April 13, 1932 my mother was born. She went to be with Jesus in March of 2004. So when April 13th came this year, I thanked God for her influence in my life and then moved on. I am not a real sentimental person on things like that.

But something else happened on April 13th. To honor her in one of the biggest ways I could think of, April 13, 1975 was the day I chose for my ordination into the ministry. I had been preaching since I was a Sophomore in college (1972) but that was my official day of being licensed as a pastor. I had heard of it while in college but I didn’t like the reasons some of them did it: to be an official pastor which basically gave them a free ride on Vietnam. I can also remember my mom telling me not to become a pastor because of the respect and “fame” and honor given to clergy. Back then, pastors were seen as upright and worthy of respect. (My how times have changed!)  Anyway, when I saw how some acted and talked and chased woman, I didn’t want to move too fast on this idea of being ordained (not that I did those things). I wanted it to be an occasion where I knew what I was doing and was serious about my calling.  As I reflect on those ideas today, I’m not sure I knew either! What I did know is that it was a big step for me.

So on April 13, 1975 I chose to honor my mother, whose influence on my faith is unquestioned, by being ordained on her birthday. Besides, as I got older I figured it would be easier to remember one date instead of two. Remembering Jo’s birthday and my two daughters was hard enough.  I’ve never made a big deal about special days in my life, except for my wedding date (which I am trying to remember…oh yeah, June 16, 1973) and the birth of my girls (June 3, 1975 and August 23, 1979).  Let’s see…mine is…oh yeah, October 9, 1952.  And I hereby refuse to publish Jo’s birthday since I value my life.  But trust me when I say she is a tad bit older than me, like from January 30, 1951 compared to mine. (But please don’t tell her I said anything! I love my life!!)

But I digress. Yesterday during the virtual morning worship, I welcomed people to the worship and moved away from the pulpit to let the first song play. It wasn’t the one I picked and looked up and it was a slide show Tami had put together honoring my 45th anniversary of ordination. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. To say I walked away to gather my emotions before standing before the people again might (not) be a lie. Anyway, I was honored and humbled she put this together. And I was especially honored folks responded.  It was hard to see via the FB worship so she has posted it on YouTube. It was public at first but she is taking it private. You have the extreme privilege (I’m humble too) to be given the link to watch it.  Here is the link. Hope you enjoy it. And yes, you will notice two people missing from it: Jo and Janna (my youngest).  Least Tami still loves me. 🙂

I have so many people to thank for 45+ years.  But most of all, I want to give praise, glory and honor to the ONE who called me into this high calling. He has been a beautiful picture of grace, forgiveness, patience, and transformation through all of this. And thank you Tami for doing this (she was last one).

#Lent#12

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

In yesterday’s post (#Lent#11)  I gave some thoughts about what survivors need after a loved one has died.  I encourage you to read that before reading this post (if you haven’t already done so).  In this post, I’d like to carry on with how to treat a survivor with some thoughts on Things Not to Say and Things to Say.

THINGS NOT TO SAY:

  1. “He/she is in a better place now.”  The question which begs to be asked is, “How do you know for sure?” Unless the victim was a follower of Christ,  you are better off not giving false hope.
  2. “I know how you feel.” No, no you don’t. You know how you feel, not how they feel.
  3. “All things work together for good” or “Everything happens for a reason.” Honestly, not only do I want to gag when someone says this (even though it may be half true), but it sounds more like an empty platitude.
  4. “God never gives you more than you can handle.” Not biblical.
  5. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  Catchy Kelly Clarkson song, but this comes from Nietzche, who was an atheistic philosopher. He publicized the “God is Dead” movement.
  6. “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.” This may sound good coming from your lips but it is virtually a worthless use of words. Why not offer something tangible like “I’m going to bring you a meal” or “Let’s go out for a run or coffee.”
  7. Any joking about people killing themselves is out of bounds. “Oh, if I fail this test, I’m going to kill myself.” (Roll eyes)

THINGS TO SAY:

  • Nothing. (But be present).  Being there and letting them talk or cry or just holding them or just sitting with them is much better than endlessly spoken, weary words. 
  • “I’m so sorry.”  (And mean it when you say it. Yeah you would be surprised).
  • “I don’t know what to do or say. ”  (See the first one of this section).
  • “Do you want to go out for coffee?”  (See #6 above).
  • “Tell me what you remember about him/her.”  (I do this for the funeral experience. It helps them remember the good times).
  • “Tell me your story.”  If they have been married a long time this helps heal.

Some added thoughts: 

  1. Be careful of using “committed suicide.” This implies criminality.
  2. Be careful of saying “completed suicide.” This sounds like a laudatory accomplishment, like completing a project or a grade.
  3. It is much better  to say, “Took his/her own life” or “He or she died.”

I know it is hard to know what to say. It is made worse by “tongue-tied disease.”  People want to give comfort but don’t know how.  Granted, much of what I have written is concerning suicide, but in many cases the advice can apply to any death and survivor.

Some of what I have shared comes from a book by Albert Y. Hsu entitled Grieving a Suicide. I simply cannot recommend this book enough.  The thoughts are a mash up of his and mine (mostly his). 🙂