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BREAKTIME!

Monday, November 20th, 2017

I remember my grandfather talking about break time. He worked for USS (when it was still a viable entity) as a welder. He looked forward to breaks. Those were the days before cell phones when breaks were spent laughing and eating. Not like now. Pull that phone out and start texting and maybe take a bite between texts. Grandad used to pack his lunch and I would sometimes be there when he did. Two slices of Roman Meal bread with ketchup only in between them. I’m not sure if it was because of frugality or because he just liked it. I can think of better things to put between two slabs of Roman Meal bread (which I still like a lot) than ketchup. Jo thinks it is hilarious (and makes sure others know) that I sweat (nose and forehead) when I use ketchup. (Note: My uncle (grandad’s son) just reminded me about the mustard-between-two-slices-of-bread sandwich).  Memory is the first thing to go.

Anyway…grandad looked forward to taking some time to ease his tired muscles and joints from the grind of welding by relaxing. He was an avid Pirate fan and would listen to the night games if he worked the night shift with his transistor radio connected to this huge battery by a gumband. (Go look up Pittsburgh-ese for what it is).

I’m taking grandad’s suggestion. I’m pulling away for a few days. I have a couple busy days leading up to Thanksgiving, but the biggest plan is for Thanksgiving Day. The church is serving a dinner from 11-1:00 to the community. We have done it for the last 4 years and each year it has grown. What has really grown…and this is the part I’m directly involved in (Jo does the meal)…is delivery. So far we have over 40 deliveries of Thanksgiving meals to make. It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun. The people pitch in to help. I get to organize and send them out. All the folks have to do is call in for a meal and we will “jimmy John” them their meal.

The best part of the week though is Friday. Janna and Braden will be coming in for the weekend while Jason works on their bathroom. I think that is a pretty good trade-off!! I’d say Jason can take all year but I don’t think that would fly very well. 🙂 They will be here all weekend. Yeah…I will be preoccupied.

I’m going to pre-program my weekend post. It will come out White Friday. (Why do they call it Black Friday anyway? Because you lose all your money?).

Anyway, have a great Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for many things: Jo, Tami, Janna, Braden, Jason, OVCF, my family-at-large, my friends, and for you.  Blessings to all and to all a… Oops wrong holiday.

Dubious

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

Some memories are, shall we say, dubious. My post today is in memory of one of those dubious anniversaries-ones that remind you of something you are not so fond of.

One year ago today this happened to me.  The date is today. The day is yesterday. So I guess it depends on how you look at anniversary’s as to how you will see this. Doesn’t matter though. It happened and it began a spiral downward in the health department but it also began a very, very slow process of spiritual awakening and renewal (which actually took on a more earnest effort in February.

I wanted to ride yesterday and today but the weather has not cooperated (nor has my life). I was busy from the time I got up to the time I laid my head on the pillow yesterday. Today, we host Dine with a Doc and then Jo and I are taking off for Sandusky, OH to visit her sister. Things are really improving there and we need to help her get a new washer/dryer (and be there for the delivery) and get her duplex ready for when she comes home.

I wanted to ride past the scene and stop for a moment of gratitude for God’s protection. I realize some will say, “Well, if God protected you why did He allow it to start with?” Fair question and all I can say is, “I don’t know. He could have but chose not to.” But I also don’t think He put His finger on the driver and said, “Hit him!” Some people are either just evil or distracted. I consider His protection because it could have been worse. He missed my spine by two inches. I shiver at what the two possibilities are with that. Yes, I just had surgery in July which was required due to a bone fragment laying on a nerve in my spine, but the reality is I could have been paralyzed with 2 more inches. So, in my case, I relish God’s protection.

The saga is ongoing. I suspect they will never find who did it. I am okay with that. He/she has to live with it. Will I ever be back to the way I was? No. Physically, I now have limitations. Mentally, I sometimes relive it and realize how close I came. Spiritually, it began a good process. It still has not been settled with the insurance company (and who knows when that will be? I refuse to get a lawyer.) So it is before me. Or is that behind me?

No matter how you look at it though, it is a dubious anniversary. One I’m grateful to be celebrating. And I can also say I love Jo more today than I ever have. She’s my “knight” in shining armor. I put her through the wringer this past year and she stood solid as a rock. Cried a bit. Okay…a lot. But she stood strong next to me. For that, I will always be grateful.

Jo’s sister does not have wifi so I may be out of the loop for the next couple of days. I’ll use my phone to approve comments but I despise using it to make comments. Please be patient. And thanks for your prayers.

Jumbled

Monday, November 6th, 2017

I was looking for the correct word to adequately express my thoughts and mind this Monday morning. I ran several through the “grinder” then realized jumbled is an adequate description.

Friday was anything but my day off.  I think I ran more…okay drove more…than I normally do in a normal work week. Saturday we put our oldest on a plan for Phoenix, which I wrote about here. I haven’t heard from her personally but Jo has seen some pictures on FB (which she has not shared with me. Hmmmmm), but I know she is having a fantastic time.

Yesterday (Sunday) was our Day of Service. Let me rephrase that: it was our Day of UNservice. You read that right. All week long we kept our eyes on the weather report. I let others tell what was coming; I finally looked on Saturday. I’d like to echo Doc Brown in Back to the Future when he said, “Since when can the weatherman predict the weather?” but I can’t say that this time. Oh wait…they were somewhat inaccurate. They said, “Large hail is possible.” Yikes! We didn’t get the hail but to make a long story short, we watched it start to rain Sunday morning and then watched it continue to rain until almost midnight. At times I thought “Oh man! We could have done our thing” but then about that time the skies opened up for 100 thousandth time. We still had lunch with the church we were partnering with (The Connection) then their Associate and I decided we were going to shoot in a different direction. Service like we were going to do is not and cannot be confined to a “special Sunday event.” So we challenged those who had signed up for a certain job to connect with a couple others, contact the people who we were going to serve, then make arrangements to do so within the next two weeks. Within 15-20 minutes all the people were taken. WAY TO GO OVCF AND CONNECTION! To add to that we had some “bigger ticket items” we were going to serve: the Cunningham Dog Kennels (rescued dogs) and Sue Whitman’s Horse Angels (rescued horses). They are both on board with us coming another time.

Sometimes things just don’t work out the way we plan. But that’s okay. Service will get done…just not at the time or the way we thought.

After the “failed” Day of Service, I did come home later and ride 45 minutes inside. My thoughts were jumbled…but I did sleep well last night.

YOU

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Pat Williams, a leadership writer and also senior vice-president of the Orlando Magic, once wrote:

A leader is not just someone who takes charge. A leader is someone who takes charge and does the right thing. It’s not enough to make a decision; it needs to be the right decision resulting from strong character. It is not enough to take action; it needs to be the right action, prompted by strong character. (Leadership Excellence)

There are three illegitimate sources of influence people fall back on: Position, Power, and Prestige. None of those will “hold their weight.” When push comes to shove, they are nothing more than a house of cards.

In your mind, what is the single, most important character quality a leader (or anyone for that matter) can show? If you said “being a servant” give yourself an ice cream treat!  If you don’t like ice cream, I take gift cards. 🙂

Teams won’t be winning teams until they learn to serve each other.  As long as each player is in it for himself or herself, that team will not win. No pitcher has pitched a no-hitter without 8 other guys on the team. We should use our influence not to gratify or satisfy self, but to serve others. We take that very seriously here at OVCF and have worked hard to make that part of our church culture. This Sunday we have one service followed by a meal with The Connection (a church in town we have asked to join us) and then the two churches will spread out into the community doing free service for everyone who called to ask.  No strings attached…just service.

Your prayers for good weather (chance of rain) and for safety would be much appreciated.

Masquerade

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

This is not about the evils/horror/(take your pick) of Halloween.

I couldn’t sleep. No, it wasn’t because of some heavy weight on my heart. I took an inadvertent nap. After a very busy day I sat down in my chair to read. Next thing I knew: Bam! It was a 1/2 hour later. Way too close to bedtime to take a 20-25 minute snooze. Stop I stayed up (actually got back out of bed) to spend some time reading my devotions for today (Tuesday). They were about costumes.

Spiritual fakery is one of the chief tools of the enemy. It is one of the key ingredients of spiritual blindness. 

I don’t know if Paul David Tripp planned for his devotion to focus on costumes or not but there it was.  He writes: “The kingdom of self is a costume kingdom. This is because one of the enemy’s most useful tools is the ability of wrong to imitate right.” 

Hallloween is all about masks. Who can hide who they really are the best? Many followers of Christ are becoming or are already adept at hiding who they really are. Present company included. Wearing the clothing of the personal kingdom to hide the real me. Often wearing a costume to cover me. Sin does that. Since sin wants to reign in me, can I expect anything less?

I’m thinking that maybe instead of spending so much time worrying about the rightness or wrongness off Halloween, maybe we should concern ourselves with our own masks & masquerade.

What do you think?

Integrity

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Part of my sermon Sunday was on being Authenticity-Minded. That brought in the subject of the title:

INTEGRITY

When I was studying I ran across a couple of quotes which said volumes to me and, of course, used:

Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. Mother Teresa

Another one came across loud and clear:

Integrity doesn’t come in degrees: low, medium, or high. You either have integrity or you don’t. Tony Dungy

It is never easy being real. Or honest. Or vulnerable. Or a person of integrity. Tragically we live in a world where people are more shocked by a display of integrity than the lack of it. More and more people are surprised when someone does something right or out of the ordinary to set things right than when someone fails.

Authenticity involves our integrity. Practicing integrity means our behavior matches our beliefs. But keep this in mind: personal integrity is not the same thing as your reputation. Your reputation is who other people think you are. Your integrity (or lack of it) is who you really are.

Craig Groeschel wrote a book called Alter Ego. In it he tells a story of when his golf coach caught him stealing a golf ball from a miniature golf course and kicked him off the team.  He said, “If you’ll steal a golf ball, you’ll steal other things.” After some pleading on Craig’s part, the coach took him outside to talk and said words Craig says he will never forget:

If you have integrity, that’s all that matters. And if you don’t have integrity, well…that’s really all that matters.

Wise, wise words. And in my mind, that about sums it up.  Any thoughts?

Reflections

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

I had every intention on posting this immediately but life got in the way. Plus…I needed time to process the weekend. So much was going on that my head literally “swam.” (I am still suffering from some vertigo so that is not far from the truth). 🙂

My day Thursday was highlighted by picking up a new friend at the airport. His name is Dave Waechter and he is now the leader of “3 Feet Please,” the advocacy group for giving cyclists three feet of safe distance when being passed. Dave and I hit it off immediately. He likes pizza. He loves ice cream. He loves cycling. He loves to talk. And even though he is a very intelligent man, never once did I feel he talked down to me. He is involved in IT consulting and has been with the Suicide Prevention Network in Tempe since it started. He has a good and kind heart. The death of his friend, Lynn, by being hit by a car while cycling has deeply affected him but he is using it to make things happen. The big disappointment (besides not being able to ride this trip) was his daughter, Nina, his cohort in cycling was unable to come with him. Dave fit into our family like we have known each other all our lives. Jo & Tami felt very comfortable with him. And I was particularly thrilled he enjoyed being with us Sunday and felt very at home.

Sunday was the really big day I wrote about in this post. Our celebration was super and, I believe, God-honoring. Ryan and I both talked to folks who were here. You can listen to the podcast if you’d like by going to the church’s website and clicking on the podcast. Because we both spoke it is a bit longer than normal. What I wish is you could have been here to listen to the people singing their praise. WOW! I literally stopped to listen and felt emotions well up within me. I honestly believe the people were “heart-engaged” and not just lip-engaged. We had some great food afterwards, along with laughing and joking, and a good time being with people. And the weather? WOW! I’m not sure we could have asked for more ideal weather. 70s. Sunny. A slight breeze. Just an all around beautiful day.

To bring even more drama into our weekend, we all attended the New Beginnings Pregnancy Resource Center banquet on Saturday night. Sunday night Dave and I went to our local theater, the Tivoli, to watch Luther.  This is the 500th year anniversary of the Reformation and Martin Luther started it all with his 95 Theses nailed the Wittenburg Church door.  I took Dave back to the Indianapolis airport at 5:30 this morning.

So I had a full but very good weekend. Thanks to all who were praying. Thanks to Dave for taking the time to come and visit. Here are two jokers joking:

Yeah…we are a tad bit strange but you gotta have some fun! Thanks for joining me today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebration!

Friday, October 20th, 2017

Who doesn’t like a good celebration? Or for that matter, who doesn’t like a good reason to have one?

This Sunday, OVCF will celebrate our 13th anniversary. We have not gone overboard with it. That will be saved for #15 I suspect. Our plan is simple: have one service that morning. Follow that with a pitch-in dinner hopefully using the shelter (if the weather cooperates). Eat until we can’t eats no more!

Ryan and I will be presenting our Mission and Vision. We tag team well and it makes for a nice break. They don’t have to listen to me ramble on. Nor do they have to listen to Ryan do the same. I’ll talk about the Mission (To Connect People to Jesus) and the first two points of our Vision: 1) To be passionate pursuers of Jesus, and 2) To be models of truth and love.  Ryan will pick it up from there and talk about 3) To be involved in the community. He has a Power Point presentation of the teens helping at IDES in Indy just last week.

Then we will answer a few questions the people posed to us about your future building and our current construction. All in the purpose of update and accountability.

Looks to be a great day! I’d appreciate your prayers for us as we celebrate what God has been, is doing, and will do.

Sunrise

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

One of the values of being on vacation is one has a choice: do I get up or do I stay in bed? Except for one morning, I chose to get up early. I got up, had my Quiet Time of reading my devotions, Bible and New Morning Mercies. I journaled so I could contribute to the online group “discussion” I have with 5 other guys, then I headed to the fitness center. I was impressed with the size and machines available. I didn’t get any pictures of my working out because I didn’t want anyone to be blown away by tested muscles…or by asking, “You work out?”  🙂

But what getting up early and heading downstairs to the center afforded me was opportunities to see scenes like these: 

And my favorite:

The latter was Sunday morning as we took our last walk on the beach before we left. We flew to Orlando on Monday, the 2nd, then on to Daytona Beach. But we needed to leave the timeshare by 10:00 Sunday and head back to Orlando. We were meeting old friends from OVCF, Caleb & Wendy Petree, for lunch. That was our timetable. The rental had different ideas as it wouldn’t start. So we waited for over an hour for a jump. We did get to meet up with the Petree’s.

I told the folks this past Sunday, “You can take the preacher out of his church but you can’t take the church out of the preacher.” So while we were walking the beach I had an audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah…they didn’t listen very well. I couldn’t even keep the interest of the guy riding his bike. They were, for the most part, ignoring me. Go figure.

As I mentioned earlier, we made our way to Orlando to meet the Petree’s and went to an Irish pub at Disney Springs. The food was okay but the entertainment was superb! I felt like I was back watching Riverdance. The three musicians were fantastic, especially the female fiddler. The 4 dancers (2 guys/2 girls) were absolutely phenomenal. We sat right by the stage and saw it all up close. Their feet moved faster than my eyes could take it all in I think!

Monday, the 9th, was monumental on several fronts. First, we flew back to Indiana. Second, it was my 65th birthday. I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday than with my bride of 44+ years. We owe a debt of thanks to Jerry & Gail Horn who made it all possible with the gift of the timeshare. They have yet to realize the “salvation” they brought to me and Jo. After two bicycles wrecks, 2 surgeries, 2 brushes with death, it was much needed. So a very public thank you to Jerry & Gail. I kept their names quiet until after the fact. 🙂

That was our first walk on the beach. This is one I captured and I’m not sure she even knows.

And this tells our story. Tami says it is sappy. But…oh well…

Thanks for coming along on my journey. Hope you enjoyed it. I will be back to my regularly scheduled-type-of-posts in my next one.

Humbling

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

On this Labor Day weekend I salute all who work, those who labor honestly and do all they can to take care of their family. But in all our work there is also something we need to be aware of. It is in this story:

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. “Dearest…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.  (copied from The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine- page 78)

Sadly, we live in an age where “making a living” or “making a name for ourselves” seems to be much more important than making a name with our children. The mountain “was there” but so was his son. It is far more important in my eyes to be a successful father in my daughters’ eyes than to be rich, powerful, or well-known.

Take time this Labor Day to reflect on what you have been blessed with. Work hard at what you do. But don’t forget there are people whom you come home to who don’t care if you are a CEO or a common laborer. Being a hero in their eyes is the prize worth pursuing.