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Sunday, December 6th, 2015

We didn’t grow up in Spencer, Indiana. I grew up in a suburb of the big city of Pittsburgh (Pop: gazillion). Jo grew up in several places, but calls Sandusky, OH home. (Pop: 35,000+)

So…how did we end up in a little town called Spencer (Pop: 3000 on a good day); Owen County (pop: about 22,000+ on a good day); Indiana?

It is a long story that may be told here some day, but not this time. We moved here in November of 2005 (just celebrated 10  years…along with Diana, the church secretary…errr, office manager…who started the same week I did). I had pastored a church in Terre Haute for 13 years (1987-2000) and Sandusky (2000-2005). We used to drive through Spencer on the way to Bloomington or Salem or Nashville (IN). I always saw it as a quaint town without much to attract a person to.

My view has changed. From the moment we came, the church has welcomed us with open arms. As I/we became more entrenched in the community, and as I became more involved, the community has also opened their arms to me. Jo working for the BMV didn’t hurt any since she was a good, solid worker who showed a lot of patience.

I consider Spencer my hometown. As a member of the Chamber of Commerce board and the New Beginnings Pregnancy Resource Center board, a volunteer at the Tivoli theater, and general all-around Sanguine (much to Jo’s rolling of her eyes), I am excited to call Spencer my home town. This past Saturday, our “downtown” was showcased. There is a lot of revitalization being done and many new shops, small businesses and store fronts are being opened and remodeled. An excellent coffee shop (Main Street Coffee) run by the Hogan family (Josh & Brianne and their 7 children) also sells my favorite tamales (Bivi’s Tamales…a lady from the church who knows how to make real tamales). A new Thai restaurant. The Dragonfly Gallery, a quaint but cool little store. Diamond K Sweets (some of the best, mouth-watering chocolate you will ever taste). And more are coming. It is fun watching “my” hometown perk up.

Jo & I also spent Saturday afternoon watching kids “mall” sugar cookies, icing and sprinkles as part of a big indoor carnival. The ladies from the church provided the cookies for Linda, one of our ladies who helps with the fishing team. You would be proud of me…no sugar cookies for me. 🙂  I’m not fond of them. However, if they had been chocolate chip…LOOK OUT!

Small towns will make a comeback, I predict. At least I think Spencer will. I’m proud to be a part of helping and watching Spencer be one of them. I anticipate even more in the future.

Just a little small town nostalgia for you… What do you remember about your hometown?


Wednesday, July 30th, 2014






Man’s ingenuity

A lot of words can be used to describe this visit. My ultimate highlight of the vacation was spending time with my family. Make no mistake about that. But I have to admit I did have one major goal in our recent visit to Pigeon Forge (and it certainly wasn’t Dollywood or Country Music of any fashion).  Two words:


I didn’t even know there was such a thing until Jo made a trek to PF on Memorial Day weekend with three other ladies and they went through the museum. She is not a Titanic fan by any stretch and has not even seen the movie. But she really liked it and knew I would. So as her “bribe” to get me to go, the Titanic Museum was my reward. 🙂

We all know the story of Titanic so there is no sense in repeating it here. If you don’t…one word…Google. 😉 I won’t lie: I like the movie-chic flick or not. I can draw so many lessons from it. But in reality, I know the movie is cinema; I am fascinated by the real event. The history. The people. The reaction. The laissez-faire attitude of surrounding ships. The same attitude of many of the crew. The adjectives I used at the very beginning of this post. So many fascinating details, stories, sights. An iceberg to touch. Water the temperature of the ocean that night to put your hand into. The story told about the one pastor who spent his last moments asking people if they were saved. The one black man on board (a Haitian engineer denied First Class passage due to his interracial marriage to his white wife). The chivalry of so many. The “class” of John Jacob Astor. The “arrogance” of Benjamin Guggenheim. The love of the Strauss’, the founders of Macy’s, who refused to separate after 45+ years together (and gave her life vest to their maid).

Braden thought I spent all day there. I think I was there for about 2 hours…and trust me I could have stayed longer. I walked out with conflicting emotions. 1517 souls sunk with her. The ship “not even God could sink” sunk on its own. So many mistakes. So many good stories. All for me…to learn from…to remind myself of the dire consequences of arrogance…the utter disillusionment wealth, fame, and fortune gain. But also stories of men and women who thought of others before themselves, many sacrificing their lives so someone else may live. Did you know Astor put his wife on the lifeboat and then found a child to put in his place? Those kinds of stories remind me of the ONE who gave Himself freely for me…for you…so we would not be lost.

If you get a chance…go to the Titanic Museum and be prepared to be amazed, humbled, overwhelmed, and much more.


Thursday, July 24th, 2014

I am on vacation this week and wanted to leave you with a “daily something.”

I was born in 1952. When I hit the mid ’60s Tommy James and the Shondells were stringing together hit after hit. Critics called it ‘bubblegum.” In 1968 they hit it big with Crimson and Clover and because of a scheduling conflict missed Woodstock. Things might have been totally different in many areas if they made that festival. But C&C was not my favorite song of theirs. Following that song they came out with Sweet Cherry Wine, a song Tommy says is about the blood of Christ. They then released what is my #1 favorite song of all: Crystal Blue Persuasion. Some of you will remember it. Some of you might remember it. Some of you will say, “Tommy who? Crystal Blue what?”

So here is my “daily something” for you today. Not at all like anything else this week. But I am unpredictable. 🙂 If you click on About then Show More it will tell you the story behind the song as well as give you the lyrics.

Enjoy! Have a good rest of the week.


Oh…and by the way Floyd. This one’s for you! I just couldn’t let you down. 🙂


Monday, December 30th, 2013

Traffic is really, really slow during the Christmas/New Year holiday.  Several other bloggers have mentioned it and I would have to agree.  We have other priorities during that time- family, fun, food, friends.  Blog reading does not begin with an “f.”  I’m as guilty as the rest I’m afraid: while I read blogs, I comment on very few due to time constraints.  Like many others, I have every intention of “getting with the program” after the first of the year.

I will be posting this at 8:00 on Monday night.  That means there will be 28 hours left in 2013 from that moment.  You will obviously be reading it (if you do) some time after that.  The countdown has begun as we rush toward 2014.  I’m interested in knowing if you read this and when.

I’d also be interested in knowing what your plans are for New Year’s Eve.  The church I pastor is having a get-together from 7-12:00 full of games, food, and fun.  Nothing structured except as we get close to midnight to pray in the new year.  What are your plans?

And for you music connoisseurs I offer this flashback from the ’80s.  Until this past year, I think I had it on my blog every December 31st.  It returns as a reminder-not only to the countdown of 2013 but also that every day brings us closer to the coming of Jesus.   Enjoy!  Bring back memories?  Check out the drummer’s shorts at 2:15.  🙂  And yes, I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea, but bear with me (then go back to listening to yours).  😛



Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Well, I am interrupting the normal mode of posting because they are predicting 4-7 inches of snow to begin late Thursday afternoon/evening and going through Friday evening.  I won’t count the chickens until they are hatched because what is predicted not always comes true.  Like Doc Brown  (from my favorite movie) says, “Since when can the weather man predict the weather?”   We’ve had some really warm weather this week in the 60s so I don’t see it sticking or staying around very long (except in the slush department).

However, in honor of that predicted event I offer this throw back from my favorite “hair band”.

Oh, there is another prediction that will come true.  Count on it.  We never know when, but we know the WHO.  Maybe this will help clear it up.   Have fun.  Just don’t shoot the messenger.  🙂



Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

We all have favorite movies.  We all have a favorite genre of movies.  Movie-makers count on that!  🙂

Jo knows if we are ever in a contest and they ask “What is your husband’s favorite movie?” she is to say “Back to the Future.”  The more correct answer would be the Back to the Future Trilogy.  I suspect I am one of those rare people who likes #2.  While my first time through was sort of confusing, subsequent views brought home a not-to-be-forgotten truth:  Take away laws and all that ensues is chaos, because there is no right and wrong.

I have other movies I like.  Lord of the Rings Trilogy (which I did not see or care to see when it was released in the theaters).   Field of Dreams.  For the Love of the Game.  (I love baseball). Guardian. Open Range. Wyatt Earp.   (Yes, I like Kevin Costner.  I even like his obscure  bicycling movie “American Flyers.“)  Gladiator.  3:10 to Yuma.  Cinderella Man. Robin Hood.  (And yes, I like Russell Crowe) Tombstone.  The current crop of Superhero movies (Captain America, Iron Man, Avengers, etc)  My one ode to a chic flick is “Titanic.”  (Have I lost my ManCard with that one?)

I say all that because Thursday night the Owen County Library has a free movie night once a month at the Tivoli.  This Thursday is my absolute favorite “Christmas” movie: “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  I remember hearing about it from my brother, Rob.  He was visiting and talking to someone about this black & white movie he saw one afternoon.  He was sort of blah and turned the TV on and this movie was on about a man who wanted to leave town really bad but life’s circumstances always sabotaged his plans.  Eventually, he thought it would have been better if had never lived.  An angel (Clarence), who has a chance to earn his wings, comes to earth to help him realize “See George, you really have had a wonderful life.”  One day I watched it for myself and I was hooked.  Now one of my Thanksgiving Day traditions is watching “Wonderful Life” and “The Santa Clause.”   Unless something comes up, I will begin my Thanksgiving viewing early.  Jo & I will be attending a Thanksgiving dinner at the Owen Valley Health Campus and then making our way to the theater.

The movie is a constant reminder telling me I matter.  I leave footprints every day.  I influence people-good or bad- in my interactions with them. The real question is this: what kind of impression am I leaving with them?

Have  you see “Wonderful Life?”  What are your Top 5 movies of all time?  Finally, are you aware of your influence?


Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

I have seemingly a zillion things running through my mind (clogging up the works) and I’m not sure any of them can fill a whole post unless I wanted to really get wordy.  But we know that is not possible….  😛


I am truly excited about having Ryan on board.  That may change tomorrow, 😉  but these first three days have been really cool.  ‘Course he was gone Tuesday for his day off.   Diana (the secretary office manager) texted him on Monday and called him Jr. Boss.  That may stick!  She calls me Boss, but not sure why since she’s really the boss.  You know…if Diana ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy.


The world may have high praise for the so-called open minded person, but godly wisdom controls access to the mind.  I like the quote I read recently from G.K. Chesterton: “The problem with a lot of open minds is that they need to be closed down for repairs!”


In a biography of John Lennon, his son Julian, said, “My dad was a hypocrite. Dad could talk about peace and love out loud to the world.  He could sing about it, but he could never show it to the people who supposedly meant the most to him, his wife and his son.  How can you talk about peace and love and have a family in bits and pieces, no communication, adultery, divorce?  You can’t do it; not if you’re being true and honest with yourself.”   I found this. (Reckon we can all learn from this about ourselves?)  Seems hypocrisy know no bounds (for all of us).


I was able to get out on my bike on Wednesday for the first time since  before Christmas.  It was real.  It was fun. But I can’t say it was real fun.  Wind chill in the 20s (since when can the weatherman predict the weather?).  5-10 mph wind.  Wobbly legs as I write this.  Only did 13 miles but that’s not bad for the first time in over a month.  Too much too fast= tendinitis.  Don’t want to go there.


I’ve been reading Artie Davis’ new book Craveable.  (Check the right column)  Artie is the pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Orangeburg, SC and the director of theSticks Network.  I hope to post a review of it next week.  So far….bulls-eye!


You will never turn out wrong doing right.  And you’ll never turn out right doing wrong.  Just do the right thing!  (p.29)

Failure of integrity at the leadership level leads to a casual and even arrogant attitude toward integrity at other levels.   (p.19)

These last two thoughts came from Authentic, the new book by James MacDonald.  BUY IT!

Well…that’s enough for now.  Anything turn your crank?  How’s things with you these days? Anything you would like to comment on? 



Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

So far this week

I have meandered down some lane and like the proverbial dog who chases every scent, I was all over the place.  But I enjoyed the break by hitting some high points of my weekend.

Next I found myself blogging about my Encounter Time...that time of being alone with God.  A good discussion took place with many agreeing that it doesn’t matter what you call that time alone with God…just have one.

Wednesday was Ed’sStory in the Tell Your Story series.  Ed’s experience in Nam and afterwards struck a chord with many of you.  I have really enjoyed reading your stories and finding out more about my readers.  When that happens people become more than just black and white words on a page.  As expected, each story has been different for various (and understandable)  reasons.


I feel like having a little fun with this post.  I have occasionally asked WhoRU? in order to find out some random thoughts about my readers.  This one isn’t hard today.   🙂  I have always loved music. Can’t play any instrument AT ALL, but I tell people I play a mean stereo.  Except when I am reading or studying, I almost always have music in the background.  According to my wife, sometimes it is too much in the foreground (get my drift?).  The louder the better.  I was listening yesterday when I was working out on my Bowflex (a gift from a friend), when it hit me to ask this question:


LET’S GO ONE BETTER.  IF YOU HAVE A LINK TO THEM, INCLUDE IT.  I am almost betting I have no clue on some of them.   (Remember this is a Family Friendly site).

Here are my answers:

#1 Favorite Song of all time: Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James & the Shondells.  Hey, I am old fogie who grew up during the 60s.

#2 Favorite Song of all time: Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas.  I like Stryper’s version also.   Kansas’ song was one of the first power rock songs I latched onto.  I was glad when Stryper included it on their latest album.

#3 Favorite Song of all time: Long Distance Runner by DeGarmo & Key.  D & K were the first Christian rock group I ever heard of.  I wore out the album and cassette tape.  🙂  The lyrics inspired me to keep on going numerous times.  D & K were and still are my favorite Christian band.

#4 Favorite Song of all time:  Power of Love by Huey Lewis.  Favorite movie.  Favorite trilogy.  Any questions?

#5:  Favorite Song of all time: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Frankie Valli.  You may know him as the “Grease” man, but I knew him as the man with an incredible falsetto.   I know this song is sentimental but…oh well.

Honorable mention (but by no means second rate):

Lord of Lords by Brooke Frasier.  Lead Me to the Cross by Brooke Frasier.  Honestly by Stryper (danced with Janna at her wedding to this song). Open Arms by Journey (either singer).

Okay…that’s enough for now.  How about joining in the fun today?


Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

First the important stuff…an update on Lucy from yesterday’s post

I told you wrong.  I misunderstood what they were going to do.  They did not take skin from her thigh. They took it from inside her cheek and also from beside her tonsils.  (Does that not give you the chills just thinking about it?)  Her mom texted me and said she was doing well, drinking and eating yogurt.  The doctor, who has done the other two surgeries (she also had one to fix her lip in China), was guardedly optimistic.  He was real optimistic the other two so I can certainly understand his “guard” this time.  Please keep praying for Lucy, Reed and Amy.  Thanks.

Back in the 60s, my favorite singer/group was Tommy James and the Shondells.  I don’t expect many of you to know much about them, except maybe a song or two that has been covered  by someone else.  They had a song called Smokey Roads that I will link to at the end.  It was a haunting song about going back to where you grew up and finding things not as you once knew.  I have been there.  Pretty sure most of you have as well.  A house.  A neighborhood.  A venue.  A school. A church.  Going back is not always what it is cracked up to be.

This past weekend, Jo and I made our way back to Sandusky, Ohio, where I pastored a church from November 2000 to November 2005.  It had its ups and downs as all churches do.  Church growth is often measured by attendance.  If that is the case, I was a loser with a capital “L.”  My first year we lost 25 people.  No…not to me being there but to jobs moving out of town and people going where there were jobs.  The next year we only lost 8 (for the same reason).  I jokingly said, “Least we stopped the hemorrhaging.  The blood loss is a mere trickle now.”  🙂  I had to joke or I would have cried…big tears.  It is hard to lose that many people when you started with 140!  But, in spite of the downs, there were also some ups, and some good ministry and friendships were developed.  In that way, I cannot agree with what Tommy James sang.  Jo & I had a blast visiting, laughing, eating, reminiscing, preaching (me), and…(did I say eating?)  Many fond memories came flooding back.  Funerals.  Weddings. Tears. Laughter. Joking.  And some seriously nice people who always made some awesomely good food.   Notice a trend here?  😀  Things seem to be going well for them, and I am glad.   I served as a transition pastor for them…from someone who had been there for 13 years to the two who followed me (one died of a heart attack within a year of going there).  I am happy they were able to celebrate 100 years.


It takes going away for some to remember what they have.  That is how I feel today, although I am a little road-weary.  (You can translate that however you want).  🙂  But I wonder…have you ever gone back and found things different…good or bad?  I’d love to hear your story.  

Sorry: the song is supposed to have the lyrics but it doesn’t.  🙁

Sacred Trust

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

One of the privileges I have as the pastor of a church community is the opportunity to stand in front of hundreds and thousands of people very week* (that’s a joke son, that’s a joke) 🙂 to share the Good News of Jesus.   I know there are some who find that something not very “kosher” given their “eye on things,” but that is okay.  IMHO there is room for those who are going to aaahh… (stay at home on a given Sunday).  In all seriousness, I am not the least bit offended by those who choose to belong to a house church, a small group, or whatever they want to call themselves.  Just please don’t judge me if I take a more “traditional” approach to ministry.  There is at least one thing we have in common though:


The priesthood of all believers was one of the foundation stones of the Reformation, and even though I am not a big Reformation-type pastor, I do agree on that item.  You cannot read Eph.4: 11-12 without seeing that the message was to be shared spread by all.   So, even though I don’t take lightly what I do on any given Sunday morning, I realize that ministry does not start/stop with me.   For far too long we have had too may pew-sitters, and not enough beat-walkers;  too many navel-gazers, and not enough heart-seekers. If we are going to make a difference in our world, we have ALL got to be involved.   Then again, I am preaching to the choir…you already know that.

Sometime last week I dug into my CD’s and found one I had not listened to for quite awhile.  It is a 2003 Petra CD called Jekyll & Hyde.  I was tooling along listening again to songs that I hadn’t heard for quite awhile when the last one hit the speakers and SLAM!  Here it is:

By Bob Hartman
Based on Mark 16:15

You never tried to win more secular appeal
And water down Your message with a slightly different feel
You never tried to be politically correct
Or skirt around the issues attempting to connect

You spoke the truth in love so faithfully
You expect no less from me

It’s a sacred trust that You gave to us
To take Your Word into all the world
It’s a sacred trust that You gave to us
The message of salvation and Your love

You never shied away from critical debate
Or beat around the bushes when discussing human fate
You weren’t ashamed to tell them who Your Father was
Never ran from persecution like human nature does

You prayed for all believers on Your knees
Then you handed us the keys


You’re trusting us to be bold
The story has to be told
To every nation and tongue
Young and old
I’m gonna shout from the hill
How could I ever be still?
I’m gonna let the chips fall
Where they will

You spoke the truth in love so faithfully
You expect no less from me


What do you think?  How can we do a better job of getting this message to the church people?  Your thoughts are welcome.  FYI: I will be hit or miss responding to this post.  I have to be at a hospital an hour away by 6:00, then return home to get Jo, so we can get to another hospital, where one of our teens is having surgery.  Lots of driving and Jo is not too thrilled by me texting when driving.  (Neither am I).   So I will get to your comments as soon as I can. Thanks for understanding.

*We don’t do hundreds of thousands.  Nice dreaming though.  😉