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Shock

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

It is the afternoon of Father’s Day. I’m in la-la land (translated: my eyes are glassy and my mind is in a fog). But I wanted to write something. But all I’m having at this moment is random thoughts. So I thought I would share them with you and you can take them or leave them. 🙂

I received a FD card from my oldest daughter, Tami.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She thought it was funny. I told her not to quit her day job. Actually, none of that is true. It is true I got the card from her. It is true she thought it fit and was funny. What is not true is the conversation. I laughed. I did tell her via text: “I’m honored you think I’m a bit weird. You wouldn’t want all normal people. How boring is that?”  Being a father to Tami and Janna and a grandfather to Braden is one of the highlights of my life.

I was in the chiropractor’s office and picked up a Men’s Health magazine to read and ran across a page called “THE (Above) AVERAGE GUY.” I asked them to make a copy for me. Here is a bit what it said:

$89,420 average cost for four years of college now. $372,397 average projected cost in 2033, when your 3-year old today heads off to college. That’ll scare the heeby-jeebies out of ya’!

37% of kids say they wish no parents would watch them play.  (Could it be they know something we don’t? Like it matters more to parents than their kids and kids want to have fun?)

Tony Hawk, arguably the world’s greatest skateboarder. Coolest dad ever? His kids on him turning 50.

  • His 9-year old: “He hasn’t finished Mario Odyssey, and he can’t dance!”
  • His 15 year old: “He steals your food.”
  • His 18 year old: “He’s in bed by 9 p.m.”

There you have it. Wisdom for the ages. 🙂

And since I’m in the shock mode: here is a song solidly based on Scripture. It is long but epic. I’m sure it is probably not most of your cup of tea but I like Theocracy and love this song.  Just for fun I asked the lady who signs our services if she would do this.  🙂

Hope you had a good Sunday-father or not.

Pretending

Friday, June 15th, 2018

If you have ever watched Lord of the Rings there is a scene where Frodo and Sam pretended to be Orcs by wearing the armor and “face mask/helmet” and marching with them. Eventually they were exposed and it took some quick thinking to escape.

Pretending to be someone we aren’t is not new. We learned how to do that in childhood. Maybe we were the “good child” because everyone expected us to be. Then again, maybe we were the “evil child!” 🙂

As men we are often expected to act a certain way. In my era (yeah that’s a long time ago) it was the rough and tumble man, the Marlboro man (even though he died of cancer from smoking). We had an image to uphold. We were taught that men had to make their own way in the world. So we learned to walk by sight. Even in our Christian journey we were taught the cold, hard facts and not to deviate from them. No emotions were allowed. Not only was that wrong, but it taught us something else: walk by sight.

The story of Joshua and the Gibeonites in Joshua 9 is a story of walking by sight and not by faith. After the lesson of Ai it would seem rather strange that Joshua would get caught again for almost the same error. But here it is in black and white. Is he any different than me and you? I think not…at least for me.

Sunday is Father’s Day, a perfect day to challenge men with walking by faith and not by sight. I hope you will be celebrating FD in some way with a “man” in your life-husband, father, grandfather, uncle, son, friend. May I ask while you are celebrating that you take time to say a prayer for me as I preach and the folks as they listen? Thanks.

Back

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

We are back from vacation. We had a good time away but as always it was too short. Actually, it was a good thing we were coming home yesterday. I was flossing Tuesday night and broke off a cap on my front tooth. The dentist was willing to see me late in the afternoon as his last patient if I could drive to his other office (about 35 minutes away).  Since we were already on our way home I easily made the time but it sort of threw us out of the return plans we had.

We had a good time watching Braden play baseball. He had two regularly scheduled games on Saturday and then had two makeup games on Sunday. We got cooked even though we did our best to stay in the shade.

I had an opportunity to see an old friend I have not seen since the late 70s. David is the pastor of a church in Worthington, OH and since Janna’s church starts late and we would have missed the whole first game, we decided to try a different one with an earlier service. Jo found out David was in Worthington.  My last recollection of him was when he pastored a church in Cincinnati. It was good to see him after 30+ years. And no…he didn’t recognize me. I have a lot less hair now. 🙂 🙂

And eat? Oh man, did I eat! And not all the right stuff either. You can’t visit Sandusky, OH and not eat Toft’s ice cream. Twice. Big helpings. Braden sure liked it.  He went from a Small to a Kids size. I went from a Medium to a Small. Gives you an idea of the amount of ice cream in a cup. I beat him at miniature golf. I beat him by 3 strokes but that is not counting the 8 mulligans his mamaw gave him on one hole. Golf is not his game; baseball is.

I came in for a few hours today since I have a wedding on Saturday. The rest of today and all day tomorrow is going to be spent with Jo as we finish out what is left of our vacation. There is a strong possibility there will be a two or three day bicycle vacation in July with a friend.  Jo will follow and we will ride. That’s MY idea of a vacation. Jo has other ideas. In the long run, I guess she wins. (Least I tell her that).

Hope you kept up on the Scripture reading I left you with each day.

Rahab

Friday, May 11th, 2018

I can almost hear the collective gasps this Sunday. You know…Mother’s Day. Preaching on…Rahab?  Say what? I mean, Proverbs 31 would fit (but I have yet to meet a woman who appreciates me telling her how a woman should do or be a Proverbs 31 woman. Preach on a woman submitting to a man?  Hmmm. Isn’t this supposed to be “honor you mother day?”  “How can you (a man) tell me (a woman) how I’m supposed to operate in my family? Besides, I don’t do flax and get up before dawn, etc.” Then there are those aching because they aren’t mothers or even married.

So Rahab does seem like a “far out there” subject for Mother’s Day. But hopefully when I am done it won’t seem like it that much. Why? Because Rahab is a Grace Receiver. Grace abounded in her life and in spite of her profession, she followed God.

Did it work? Did Grace Abound to her and in her? Well…let Matthew 1:5 give you that answer. Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 add further proof of Grace Abounding.

I do believe Rahab is a good woman to use an example on Mother’s Day. She is an example for all , especially the ladies who will be there, that we all need grace. Even those who seemingly least deserve it. As you can imagine, your prayers would be appreciated.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL YOU LADIES!

Words

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

In case you didn’t read my other blog for today (May 9) …yes that’s a hint…I used a quote I had read in another source I use for my Quiet Time in the morning.

When words become weapons, our relationships soon become casualties. (May 9-Our Daily Bread)

We will often use phrases like “He likes to open mouth and insert foot” or “The mouth gets involved before the brain gets engaged.” How about this one: “The mouth often speaks before the brain is consulted”? (I know that’s bad. I just made it up).

But do consider the import of that statement. Maybe there is something to the idea that James 1:19 lists “Be quick to hear” first before “slow to speak and slow to anger.”

I seriously doubt any of us would just outright murder someone. But the Bible says if we hate our brother we are a murderer. Don’t you think the same thing can be said about the one who plays war games with his words? Slash. Slash. Dice. Mince. Cut. Chop. We are capable of doing all those with our words. Even sarcasm is dangerous when used with regularity or used when someone perceives we are serious.

Maybe it is time to STOP! Time to WEIGH OUR WORDS MORE CAREFULLY! And then really do what the Bible says to do: SPEAK ENCOURAGING WORDS.

Those are my thoughts this Wednesday afternoon. What are yours?

 

 

Service

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

I haven’t been very active here or at other blogs this week. There is a reason for that.  It is called

DAY OF SERVICE

Ever since 2009 (with a few years in between) and now, we have had an annual, and sometimes semi-annual Day of Service. We go out and serve in the community in various ways. We do oil changes and minor repairs in the Fall but this year is extra special. First, here is where we are serving:

MyPath-a trail which is only part of the proposed trail from the Y to McCormick’s Creek State Park

Horse Angels– a horse rescue farm run by Sue Whitman, a local vet

The Brown-Cunningham Kennels– Gary and Becky rescue dogs and have quite an operation for 2 people

Cooper Commons and OC Fairgrounds– flood waters play havoc with both places. We plan to help clean up

Local people who need help with yard work and other minor repairs and clean up

The exciting part of this for me is the involvement of two others: The Connection-a community church (they have been our partners for 3-4 years); and the Owen County (OC) Chamber of Commerce. I am on the board of the Chamber but Cassandra Toth is our new Executive Director and she wanted to get involved in some way with cleaning things up in OC. When I told her what James (one of the pastors at The Connection) and I had planned she jumped on board with us.  Here is the really cool thing: we met yesterday (Wednesday) and compared notes, etc. We have over 70+ people helping. 70+!!!

2 churches + 1 chamber = making a difference

What a phenomenal event it would be if it became a county wide Day of Service! All sizes, shapes, colors, makes and models coming together for one day to help clean up the town of Spencer and the county as a whole. Little baby steps though to start. The weather is supposed to be good (you can pray for that). But I can’t wait to make the rounds from 1:00-4:00 this Sunday to see what is happening!!

And if you are involved in OVCF, we will only have one service this Sunday at 10:00.

Image

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

There is no doubt we live in an image-conscious world. Fat-shaming. Body-shaming. All kinds of shaming going on. Cyber bullying has become a pastime for many. Plastic surgeons are in high demand to fix this, tuck this, remove this, do this, do that.

Whatever happened to Psalm 139: 13-16 and the reality it teaches? Before you jump all over me, I agree we ought to take care of ourselves. I don’t cycle and lift weights for nothing. But to body-shame someone because they don’t meet “our standard” of loveliness is just downright wrong. Sinful even. And to feel less than beautiful because of someone else’s standards is not right either.  Because of back surgery I am limited in what I can do for my core muscles. I was not allowed to do anything for almost 3 months. My stomach is not as flat, toned and defined as it once was. But that hasn’t stopped someone from commenting about it. I laugh it off but what would that do to someone who was less confident or didn’t know the uphill battle I face trying to find ways to exercise?

That is why this song was so insightful to me this past week.  If you have trouble with the lyrics I have included the lyric video of the song here.  I hope this helps set your week on a good path.

Suicide

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Warning. Spoiler Alert. This is not going to be a fun post to read. Or write for that matter.  This is not a fun subject, a joking matter, or something to be taken lightly. Everyone of us has probably, in some way, been touched by suicide. Either we are survivors of it (those left behind) or we know someone who has threatened suicide or someone who died of suicide.  As a pastor I would love to say it has never touched a church I have pastored or affected someone in the church. I could give you statistics but that would belabor it.  Because I am a pastor, and because I want to reach out to the survivors, I felt a definite need to “read up” on it. I feel God definitely led me to a book called Grieving a Suicide by Albert Y. Hsu. A few months after his wedding, Dr. Hsu’s father took his life. No doubt depression played a major part in his father’s actions after a major stroke three months earlier.

What makes this book so helpful is his personal involvement in it. It is not a clinical “this-is-what-is-wrong-with-people” approach. Nor is it a book which condemns people to hell who take their life (I won’t do that either). What I especially liked about the book is it can be read and understood by the common person. Like me. I have no visions of grandeur about my intelligence. I like things simple. Dr. Hsu does that. He doesn’t back down from the hard questions but neither does he get heavy-handed. The ones who won’t like this book are those looking for proof of condemnation. If you are one of those, go looking at the comics. I prefer not to cross swords or paths with you.

Here is one example of down-to-earth teaching: there is some discussion about the use of terms-committed suicide vs  completed suicide. I have always use the former but there is someone in the church who uses the latter. His thoughts? Survivor’s react against the former saying it sounds criminal. I’ll grant that now. The latter, he says, “sounds like a laudatory accomplishment…It comes across as somewhat clinical and cold.” (p.169)  His suggestion? “My dad died from suicide” or “my dad took his own life.”  He also recoils against describing suicide as “successful.” (p.170).

I simply cannot recommend this book enough. It is also interspersed with excellent and informative items like “Warning Signs of Suicide”; “Facts About Suicide”; and others. It is helpful if you are a survivor and are looking for help, and it is helpful if you want to help someone. Check out the right sidebar of my blog for more information on the book.

Grieving a Suicide: A Loved One's Search for Comfort, Answers, and Hope

Legacy

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

In my last post, I talked about a legacy of faith. One of the responses was basically not seeing the sense in worrying about it. We die…that’s it. Since I don’t believe that death is the end…and since I do believe that dead men speak (not audibly)…I searched for something I had read years ago.  I found it! Of course, if you get the right people the answer is easy. 🙂 🙂  Here is why I want to leave a legacy of faith behind:

A great example of this is Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan Preacher from the 1700s.  Jonathan and his wife Sarah left a great godly legacy for his 11 children.

At the turn of the 20th century, American educator and pastor A.E. Winship decided to trace out the descendants of Jonathan Edwards almost 150 years after his death.  His findings are astounding, especially when compared to a man known as Max Jukes.  Jukes’ legacy came to the forefront when the family trees of 42 different men in the New York prison system traced back to him.

Jonathan Edwards’ godly legacy includes: 1 U.S. Vice-President, 3 U.S. Senators, 3 governors, 3 mayors, 13 college presidents, 30 judges, 65 professors, 80 public office holders, 100 lawyers and 100 missionaries.

Max Jukes’ descendants included: 7 murderers, 60 thieves, 50 women of debauchery, 130 other convicts. 310 paupers (with over 2,300 years lived in poorhouses) 400 who were physically wrecked by indulgent living.

It was estimated that Max Juke’s descendants cost the state more than $1,250,000.

One can perhaps question the research. I saw one source cite the VP as Aaron Burr (duelist with Alexander Hamilton). I even saw one source which completely discounted the research on Max Juke’s life. Even if both are true, that doesn’t change the truth of what we leave behind is important.  We either leave life or poison behind.

I choose to leave life.

VDay

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know today is Valentine’s Day. If you couldn’t tell by the stores, you have to be blind. I’m thinking VD cards were out the day after Christmas. 🙂  Seriously, it is a day which has new meaning to me.

I’m not sure how many of you reading this knows of the significance of this week for me. This coming Friday will be the one year (dubious) anniversary of my bike wreck in which I broke my collarbone, broke 3 ribs (I hope you never have to experience that), did a face plant, split my helmet in three places, ruined several pieces of cycling clothing when it had to be cut off by the paramedics, and almost checked out and met the Father.

It happened on a Friday.  The first Sunday back in the pulpit (two weeks later) I talked to the people about my spiritual state at the time of the accident. To borrow Paul David Tripp’s words: I was a spiritual amnesiac.  I was not in a good place. My marriage was limping along. Not because of any affair, unless you consider my affair with my job as legitimate.  The wreck was the best thing that happened to me. God got my attention. Sure, I wish He had used a softer means but, would I have heard? I don’t think so. After all, getting hit by the car in November should have been a warning sign.

I can honestly say I love Jo more today than many yesterdays. We no longer take each other for granted. We are more open and honest with each other than we have probably ever been. Neither one of us wants our relationship to go back to where it was one year ago. Today is Valentine’s Day. And I love my better half, and will forever how much longer we have together on this earth.