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Interrupted

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

If you saw the last post, it was a description of Sunday’s sermon: Black/white.

Well…it was supposed to be. Until that Sunday morning when God interrupts the thought-process and says, “I want you to go in a different direction.”

So “Black Hats/White Hats” was held over until this coming Sunday. God had other ideas. I want you to know I’m not really into that. I prepare for a reason. I study for a reason. I practice on Sunday morning to an empty auditorium for a reason. I am a firm believer that if people come on Sunday morning to hear “me speak” (to hear a word from God as He has taught me), they need to hear something worth listening to. Half-baked, half-prepared sermons which use the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as an excuse for not studying and preparing tell the people they don’t matter and the pastor doesn’t care.  That’s not me. So when I no sooner begin my sermon and I sense the Holy Spirit prompting me to put it all aside and talk from the heart, I don’t jump up and down like Horshack on Kotter saying, “Ooh ooh ooh.”

That is what happened though this Sunday. I no sooner made two comments:

“Along with the fake there will always be a real.”

“Underneath it all we need to see that Looks can be deceiving.”

At that point I told the people to put their Bibles and notes away. I confessed to them that for the past 9 months or so I have been wearing a mask. I wore a mask so when they asked, “How you doing?” my stock answer was, “I’m fine.” Problem is Bill wasn’t fine. Bill was running on fumes.  He was empty.

It took two bicycle accidents to get my attention. The first didn’t work because it wasn’t my fault and I was able to move on too quickly from it. But this second one was a doozy. I’ve written about it here. I’m healing physically, but spiritually is taking longer. If you would like to listen to the podcast of Sunday’s talk, you can link here.

Your continued prayers are very much needed. Priorities need realigned. Relationships need mended and realigned as well. Thanks ahead of time.

AFather’sPride

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

It was sort of hard to keep up with the one word titles I have been using for close to three years now so I had to put three words together.  Ha. But I figure it is my blog and I can do whatever I want.  🙂

I have two daughters as many of you know. The youngest has been married for almost 13 years now and is the mother of the greatest grandson in the world. Our oldest, Tami, lives with us for now. After 15 years teaching in mostly inner city schools in Knoxville, she decided a change was needed and moved closer to us. Real close. I mean, like in the same house close. 🙂 She took a huge pay cut ($20,000) to move back and to teach K students in a Bloomington, IN school. Ironically, it was like the previous 15 years were preparing her for the past two years at Bloomington. She is “falling in love” with teaching again, which is thrilling to see. She loves her kids and is a really good teacher.

Tami has battled some health issues over the years, some we were told she had as a child and possibly was born with. We never knew. But she has put her trust in Jesus and relies on Him to help her deal with the pain of those illnesses. She has refused to give up.

All that to say I would be honored if you would read the newest post on her blog. You can link to it here.

66

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Yeah…I committed the unpardonable sin.

I told the age of a woman. Remember those admonitions? “Never ask a woman how old she is.”  Besides, it has been my experience most of them will “lie” and say “29” or “39” or some such silly number. Especially when they have a 20 something child.

Specifically I told the age of my wife…today…she turns 66. I have a staff meeting this morning and she will sleep in a little but this afternoon she wants me to take her to see Hidden Figures at our local theater (we are crashing a homeschool private showing to do so). She saw it Saturday with some friends and asked if I would take her to see it again. Following that we will be meeting Tami for supper at Texas Roadhouse (unless she changes her mind…which I understand is a woman’s prerogative).

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We had a great day yesterday. The leadership has been telling the people they had an important announcement to make for several weeks now. I understand now it made some people rather nervous. At the gym this morning one of the guys (who was unable to be there) asked me about the announcement. When I asked him what he thought it was, he said, “Usually one of two things. Either the building program is getting started or you are leaving.” I told him I wasn’t going anywhere. We did announce the money has all come in for not only the youth addition but we will also be able to pay off the mortgage. We will, by God’s grace, be totally debt free! That was a reason to rejoice and clap…and we did!

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Woke up this morning to cold weather and a dusting of snow. We can’t complain though. Plus I’d rather have a dusting any day than have to shovel for hours. Have a great week! I’ll be back!!

Treasure

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

When someone mentions treasure our thoughts most often turn to financial things.

But there is another kind of treasure…one (sadly) I’m not very good at most times. The reference is found in Luke 2:19 where it says that after the shepherds visited the baby and then left, Mary pondered or treasured these things you her heart. That word has always intrigued me.

As I probed what it meant to “treasure” something in your heart, I knew exactly why I was so bad at it! 🙂

The expression “treasured these things in her heart” has more to do with the emotions and the heart, than the physical organ beating in our chest. It literally means to keep something alive or to savor.

I think we all tend to do that. It is called memories. I have them. You have them. Good and bad. I have memories of Christmases in the past which were good. Waking up on Christmas morning to find a tree, a running train, and more than I ever dreamed of under the tree. I can also remember the Christmas my dad was about to walk out of the house.

These days I treasure my Christmases. As we get older, the awareness becomes more apparent that Christmas memories are to be treasured. I like what Tim Keller says, “The treasuring is not so much a technique as an attitude.” The sad part (and am I alone in this?) is that treasuring is getting harder to do. I’m really having some difficulty focusing this Christmas. Maybe it is the accident. Maybe it’s the volume of work. Maybe it is preoccupation with things to do. But I do need to slow down and treasure my memories.

How about you?

Some have asked for an update on my accident. I continue mending. I am totally grateful to God for His healing. I found out the good news that my auto insurance is going to cover the medical bills. That is a huge relief. I go to the general surgeon this coming Monday for a follow up on the hematoma and whether she will remove it or continue hoping my body will absorb it. Continued prayer would be appreciated. And thanks.

Thanks

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

As I write this it is a rainy Wednesday. The day before the world in general (with a few exceptions) will focus on Thanksgiving. True, some find football a whole lot more fun, but not this boy. My Thanksgiving Day will consist of the following:

The church serving our community a lunch from 11-1:00 at the local Lion’s Club (their building is in town and the church building is not). We will also deliver a whole bunch of meals.

I have two traditions that I have done for years. I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Santa Clause” sometime Thursday. Well, our local theater is going to show “IaWL” on Sunday for free so I will go to that. So Jo and I plan to watch “White Christmas,” one of my other staple movies during the holidays.

I’m guessing a nap might be in there somewhere.

I will take some time to be thankful. My recent car/bicycle accident has me a bit more reminiscent than normal. To be aware that only 2″ separated me from either permanent damage (paralysis) or even death, tends to wake up even the sleepiest soul. I’m not going to rehash the scene. You can read it here and here.  Unfortunately, even though my memory wants to erase the event and forgive the perpetrator, my body keeps reminding me of it. On Monday I go to a general surgeon who will take a look at the giant hematoma on my left hip where he used me for a bumper car. I had to go to Urgent Care last week, and when nothing happened and things got worse with the rest of my leg, I went to my family doctor Tuesday. The surgeon will decide if it is be drained (can you say knock me out?) or let it go. It will be 3 weeks to the day that it happened. Not a day goes by that I don’t remember because my body reminds me.

However, I am also impressed by God’s amazing design and how it heals. The bruising is lessening (it has moved from my hip to my thigh/hamstring, to my knee, to my calf and now to my foot. The painfully sore bruised shoulder muscles (inside) have healed enough to start lifting weights again. I have yet to be back on my bike. Not because I’m afraid but because of the discomfort of this hematoma.

I’m thankful I’m alive. I’m thankful I have a family who was concerned. I’m thankful for a marvelous church family who showed me in spades how much they love me. It has been my pleasure to love them for 11 years. In less than a week they showed me what I meant to them. *Tears on cheeks right now* I am thankful for you, my online family, who have said you would pray for me. I believe you did. I still pray for the one who did it. Not for vengeance but so I can forgive them.

This has gone longer than any post I have written in the past 4 or 5 years so it is time to shut it down. 🙂  Thanks for listening. Thanks for your prayers. Be truly thankful this year.

Timeless

Monday, October 10th, 2016

I have arrived safe and sound from a weekend in Ohio. I wrote about it here. I had a fantastic time. My right arm is a little sore of throwing a football countless times to a never-tiring grandson whose imagination goes wild. He had us in stitches several times during the weekend. I hope and pray his imagination never goes on the fritz and dies.

I’m a little rushed knowing what is facing me the rest of the week. A C-section delivery, a lunch appointment with my my wife and daughter, a Day of Service meeting at 5:00 and a movie to make popcorn for as a “Master Popper” at 6:00. (Yeah I’ll be a bit late). Wednesday is another non-stop day even though the kids are on Fall Break. And, of course, I need to find time to ride or work out. You know…the important stuff. 🙂

When I got back home I had a birthday card waiting for me. He included a saying in it:

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. Henry Ford

While I may not agree it is the greatest thing in life, it is certainly a very important part of it. I turned 64 Sunday. I have no clue how long God has me living on this earth, but I don’t want to waste away. I don’t want to stop learning. I don’t want to stop reading. I don’t want to stop enjoying life (my adventure). This sums up my thoughts (a gift from my secretary):

adventure-box

That is timeless. What are you waiting for?

OutaHere!

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

I’m outahere.

Not outatime.

outatime

This weekend we are taking off for Ohio. It has been since this past July that we have seen our grandson, Braden. He was playing baseball at the time. He’s pretty good for a little guy (but I’m not the least bit prejudiced).

He is also playing football. Dynamite comes in small packages they say. I think he fits that bill. He has been playing for over a month now and my schedule (or is it his?) has not allowed us to see him play. It has been over 3 months since I have been out of the pulpit so a break is needed. Now…whether it is for the folks here or for me is probably up for grabs. 🙂 Anyway, we will be heading out Saturday and returning Monday sometime.

An added bonus: he plays Sunday, which also happens to be my 64th birthday. I told him the best present he can give me is to play hard, knock somebody on their tush, and win. Okay…so I didn’t say that “tush part.” But I would love to see them win! We also plan to eat out with them. Braden used to call it “Grandpa’s house.” Code name for Texas Roadhouse. I can taste that salmon already. 🙂

All that to say I will be out of commission until Tuesday at the earliest. I plan to take a pretty good media break as well. So I may read your posts but I seriously doubt you will know (aka I probably won’t comment). I’d appreciate your prayers for a safe trip for me, Jo & Tami, as well as for Ryan, who will be preaching his weekend on the church at Philadelphia.

Oh one more thing: a spitting image of his good-looking grandfather

braden-picture

See the resemblance? Other than being good-looking, I don’t either. Have a great and safe weekend!

BeingThere

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

One of my favorite quotes by Jim Elliot, the martyred missionary to the Auca Indians, is “Wherever you are be all there.” Lately I have had trouble being here. Shoot, I’ve had trouble being anywhere. It seems like I’ve been going a thousand different directions lately. Then I read this:

“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 to climb the mountain. ‘Dearest,’ he wrote, ‘…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.'” (The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine-p.78)

I’ve noticed (as I’m sure you have also) life goes in seasons. Busy. Not busy. Crazy busy. Not so busy. Steady. Lull. You get the point. Today is one of those crazy busy seasons. My mind has wandered. I stopped and got both Jo and me a Polar Pop (yeah I know it isn’t good for me) and almost made it to the office before I remembered I had her pop. Sheesh!

So this small section out of this excellent book stopped me dead in my tracks. As Tim Hawkins says in his video, “I need to be centered.” Watch him. He is a hoot.

I’m preaching to myself here. Maybe you too?

GraceEffect

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51pbqw8T5uL._AC_US160_.jpg

Several weeks ago I published a review of the book “Hitch” by Larry Alex Taunton. In that book he mentioned an encounter between Hitch and his internationally adopted (Ukraine) daughter, Sasha. After reading of that friendly encounter and Hitch’s reaction to her, I thought I wanted to read the book based on the adoption. The name of that book is The Grace Effect and this is my review.

I know several families who have adopted internationally. Several of you have done so. My brother has. Several from the church have. An acquaintance from the Y has just adopted 5 siblings from Bulgaria. (UGH!) Larry’s wife and their three sons all wanted to adopt Sasha after a mission trip where they fell in love with her. Until the point of adoption Larry had never met her. He was on board with it though and once he saw her there was never any doubt. Little did they know the hoops they would have to jump through to make it happen. Ukraine is a country from the old Soviet Union. It may say “Free” but old habits die hard. I cannot even begin to write down all they were put through-emotionally, physically, financially (and every other “ly”) in the year it took them to adopt her while in Ukraine! 

It was an emotional roller-coaster for them. I have to admit it was for me as well just reading the book! This was far more than just reading a book about the horrors of international adoption. It was also a book about the false promises of socialism; the emptiness of communism; the soul-destroying influence of unbelief; and, in short, what the atheistic worldview would give us without Christianity-something cold, pitiless, and graceless.

I’m glad I read this book even though I really had no idea what to expect. It was eye-opening on so many fronts. I’d suggest you find this book and read it also. You will thank me for suggesting it.

Seasons

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

I started reading this book about a week or so ago but put it aside for this one. I have a bad habit of doing that sometimes but in this case I needed to. The Grace Effect is by the same man who wrote “Hitch” and it talks about his adopted daughter, Sasha, from Ukraine. Now that I have finished a puzzle for a teacher-friend who is teaching a whole unit on it, I can spend some time reading.  (Yeah…Jo says I get obsessed when I am working a puzzle. I don’t agree. Just because I did this one in less than 5 days does not prove she is right).

Anyway, back to When Trouble Comes (the book I put down). The author, Philip Ryken, says some things just in the Prologue which I know will draw me back to this book when I’m done with the other.

“Would you like to know some of the things that helped me? The first was this: I knew that what I was going through was totally and completely normal.” (p.15) 

Oftentimes when we are going through something, we feel alone. No one understands. No one else has experienced what I’m experiencing. Not true!

Here was a gem: All of this leads to seasons of doubt, discouragement, and depression as a normal part of life in a fallen world. When trouble comes, this does not mean that I am a bad Christian. Nor does it mean that God is against me, although sometimes it may feel that way. (p.16)

I have spent time recently with several people who are suffering in various ways. I try hard to show them they are not alone. They are not bad Christians. They are not being rejected by God for some sin in the past. God doesn’t hold grudges.

If you are going through a tough time right now, don’t give up. You are not alone. This is a season of growth (if you let it). Be encouraged by a loving Father.

I’m also going through a season of not having much time to write. I apologize for that. Hopefully this season will be over soon.