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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.

Lighthouse

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Meet Nina and the Lighthouse at Presque Isle. Presque Isle Light is one of three lighthouses on Lake Erie. It is located on the northern shore of Presque Isle State Park.  It stands 68′ tall, was constructed in 1872 and became automated in 1962. For more information about this lighthouse go hereThis site here also gives some really interesting insight into the lighthouse.

I spent five years pastoring a church in Sandusky, Ohio so I made frequent trips to the lighthouse at Marblehead, OH. If captains and sailors could speak today I’m sure they could tell fantastic stories of Marblehead, Presque Isle and others. Countless lives were saved and ships averted disaster because of the light from the lighthouse. It used to be manned by individuals. What a lonely job that must have been! But what an essential job it was also.

The importance of the lighthouse cannot be diminished in any way. Its light shined through all kinds of weather. I used to drive to Marblehead in the middle of January just to see the ice build up and to see how far out it went. You could see Kelly’s Island from the lighthouse and there were times it was shut down and only a plane could get people off the island. I don’t know how many lighthouses are still working and shining its light, especially with the more sophisticated equipment on ships these days.

Nina is Dave’s daughter. Dave wrote about the death of his friend, Lynn. Nina was riding on a tandem with him when the accident happened. The Presque Isle lighthouse was Lynn’s favorite. Part of Dave and Nina’s therapy was going to the lighthouse and having the above picture taken. Therapy comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Below is also some of Nina’s therapy and her tribute to Lynn. I wanted to use this during the week I was having my surgery and had guest writers but it was unavailable. Nina drew this from a postcard and drew it all freehand. I’d say quite a gift!

The spiritual application is easy. Jesus once said, “I am the Light of the World.” Elsewhere the Bible says, “People who live in darkness have seen a great light.” I’ll close this long post with this song. If you have trouble with the lyrics (which you shouldn’t) click on Show More below the video.

LIFE!!

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Here’s something for your Monday morning (and your week)!

GRACE

I was studying Saturday and after watching the video I was going to show and re-watching this one, I decided to show this one instead. I love the message. I love the tempo. I love the message. I love the lyrics. Have I told you I loved the message?

It is a message we all need to hear. Bar none. For those of us who are Christ-followers that message rings even more true.

Not much more to add today. Just wanted to brighten your day and hopefully your week with this phenomenal song with a fantastic message.  Have I told you…?

ForgivenessIsNot

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

I delayed this post due to the one about ME. But don’t think for one moment that means it is any less important. In fact, there may be a “reason” why I was led to delay posting this. Only God knows I guess. 🙂

This past Sunday I preached on Forgiveness. I told the folks as I was studying for the message I scoured my books for help. I think I almost went book for book, shelf for shelf, looking for ways to help the sermon be a bit more relevant. I found something in a book by Sheila Walsh called The Storm Inside. The chapter was titled Navigating Treacherous Water: From Unforgiveness to Freedom.  I hit, as they say, the mother lode! She began the chapter with a quote from C.S.Lewis:

Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.

Before I share what she wrote, let me preface it by saying that I think many people have the wrong idea of forgiveness. We often think forgiveness = forgetting. I, for one, don’t know that it is humanly possible to forget what has been done to us. So I focused on what forgiveness is not (from her book written in blue):

  • Forgiveness does not say that what the person did was okay; people do many things that are far from okay.
  • Forgiveness does not say that you have to continue in a hurtful relationship with someone who has harmed and will continue harming you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you should stay with someone who is beating the tar out of you or molesting you. GET OUT!
  • Forgiveness is not burying your head in the sand and pretending the offense never happened.  That’s what got you into the mess in the first place.
  • Forgiveness is not denying the pain.
  • Forgiveness does not mean we don’t take the wrong seriously.

Forgiveness is not about removing someone’s liability, but about setting your own heart free. It’s not about the other person’s sin; it’s about your freedom.

I hope you are living in forgiveness and experiencing freedom. If not, maybe these will help.

ME

Monday, July 31st, 2017

I was all set to add to my thoughts on forgiveness from this post when I had a change of thoughts heart.  I read something that sort of made me think a little too deeply for a Monday morning.  This morning in New Morning Mercies, Paul Tripp wrote this:

Grace not only forgives me, but enables me to live for something hugely bigger than myself. Why go back to my little kingdom of one? {Note: I change to the personal “me” or “my” when I write in my journal. He uses “you.”}

That phrase “kingdom of one” brought me back to a book I started reading over the weekend called More: How to Move from Activity for God to Intimacy with God by Greg L. Hawkins. Greg is one of the teaching pastors at Oak Hills Church where he joins Max Lucado and Randy Frazee.  I just happened to read last night about what Greg calls the “Kingdom of Me.” To summarize Greg says, “Many of us live in a box. It’s a small box known as the Kingdom of Me. We control what happens there.” However, he goes on to show how that box is awful small.

My thoughts ran like this: I spend a lot of time promoting the kingdom of Me. Such a tiny, small kingdom. The Pharisees promoted their tiny kingdom based on performance, personal power and acclaim. Mine isn’t so much personal power but I can say performance rears its ugly head, as does a little bit of acclaim from time to time (you know…I’d like to be known in the community type of acclaim).  Funny (not the ha ha kind): the phrase which going through my head was “Help me, Lord! Rescue me from me!”

So…how big is your kingdom?

WrapUp

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

I’m anticipating being back to work by today (Thursday) but just in case, I wanted this post to be ready to go. {Note: I am not at the office. I need to be careful in what I do and where I go}.

It is easy to dismiss my story because well…you have heard it before. But like you, every event in my life makes up my story. I read recently that my life is not an autobiography being written by me, but a biography written by God. There is a scene near the end of Back to the Future 3 where Jennifer opens the paper from the future that said Marty was fired and it was blank. When she asks him about it Doc Brown says, “That’s because your future hasn’t been written yet. Nobody’s has.  Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one…both of you!” I like the concept because the choices I make will affect my future. I do disagree with the premise of the movie quote though because God is the Author of my future and according to Psalm 37:23: “The steps of a man are established by the Lord when he delights in his way.” Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.My story will always include two bike accidents-one where my life and health were almost taken by a cowardly driver (11/7/16) and one where God spared my life (2/17/17) after I did an “endo,” breaking my collarbone, 3 ribs and splitting my helmet in 3 places while doing a face plant and who knows what else.

You have also read two other stories this week. A tragic one by David, the head of 3FeetPlease where he and his family lost their best friend. You also heard from Floyd, who lost a childhood friend to a cycling accident and almost lost his wife. Those are their stories.

You have a story also. Some of it has been written. Every hurt, every scene of agony, every incident of happiness, joy and laughter…all of life makes up your story. Tell it with the realization that your story is not done. There is more coming!

So I close out this Safety Week thanking David and Floyd for their stories. I thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I’ll be drawing names at the end of the week to see who wins the bears and also who won one of the two shirts. I’ll be contacting you for your size and physical address so David can send your shirt to you and so I can send you your bear (if you won).

Thanks again for joining me this week. And remember: 3 Feet Please.

 

SafetyWeek

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

I am writing this particular post on Sunday and plan to post it early Sunday afternoon. I think many of you know I will be having surgery Monday morning (10:00 EST) so if you think about it prayers would be appreciated. I trust the doctors and nurses, but also want the Great Physician’s guidance for them and healing for me. Jo and Tami will be waiting so please say a prayer for them as well.

I’m not sure what kind of week I will have. Up to this point in my life, God has granted me the ability to recover quickly from surgery. I’m praying this will be the same. I know there will be restrictions and I have absolutely NO DOUBT Jo will make sure I hold to them-30 days of no cycling (her particular favorite); no lifting more than 10 pounds; and no bending at the waist. I think the latter will be the hardest.

Why surgery? In spite of being told to stop telling my story, I can’t and I won’t. After all it is now my story.  On Monday, November 7, 2016 I was riding my bicycle when I was hit by a cowardly hit-n-run driver. I recovered fairly quickly from that…or so I thought. There were some immediate effects and then some residual effects which showed up later. One of them was the back issue I am now having to have surgery for. It is my understanding the doctor will be going in to shave the disc as well as the bone spurs which appear to be impinging the nerves. Hopefully, 45 minutes or so later, it will be over with and my nerve pain an issue in the past.

My incident with disaster has led me to become involved in and an advocate for 3FeetPlease. I have distributed stickers, shirts, information, and bears to local bike shops in the hopes that Indiana will join other states (like Ohio and Arizona and others) to enact a “3 Feet Law.” To help me out this week I have asked some others for their help. My first guest will be Dave Waechter, who leads the 3FeetPlease organization. I’ve asked him to write something I can post. His story is gut-wrenching. I have also asked someone many of you are familiar with, Floyd, from theregoI to write a post. He has two stories within a story. Dave will post late Monday/early Tuesday and Floyd will post late Tuesday/early Wednesday.

I’m also having a give away. I am randomly giving away this bear from any who comment or respond to any of the posts this week. I have 6 bears to give away so the more you respond, the better chance you have. Also, thanks to Dave’s graciousness, two T-shirts will be given away (one by him and one by me). If you win, I’ll contact you and ask for your size and address and send it to Dave who will mail it to you.

THE BEAR:

THE SHIRT:

All week long. You have a chance to hear some terrific stories. You also have a chance to win a bear for yourself or as a gift (which I just did and hope to have a picture for you).

Meanwhile, your prayers for surgery and recovery will be much appreciated.

Two-wayStreet

Friday, July 21st, 2017

One is hard-pressed these days to listen to the news. If you do, hardly a day goes by when you don’t hear about someone shooting up a place because of mistreatment or hidden anger/resentment.  Often you might hear how “highly respectable” or “a member of the local church” someone is only to hear they went on a shooting spree and took countless lives,  then often turning the gun on themselves.  Just recently you might remember reading about a man who went to a softball practice of one of the political parties and had a shooting spree.

Ephesians 4:31 tells us, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” Sounds simple enough, but as we all know, life isn’t that easy.

One of the hardest things to do is to receive grace and then to turn around and give it. There is a story Jesus told in Matthew 18 of that principle. A man was forgiven of a humongous debt, one which he could never repay. But then he went out and demanded payment from a fellow slave who owed him pennies. When he couldn’t pay him at that instant, he threw him in jail. (BTW: how does that work anyway? “I’m going to throw you in jail until you pay me what you owe.”).

Grace received…grace given. A two-way street. If I may borrow a statement from Kyle Idleman’s book Grace is Greater:

Stop thinking about what’s been done to you, and start thinking about what’s been done for you.

Sacred

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

I’m sorry if you get tired of hearing about this but something has been sitting in my lap for a few days.

Being a victim of a hit and run driver while riding my bicycle has been a tad bit unsettling. Very unsettling for Jo. A tad for me.

But here is what is bothering me. I have been speaking to others-cyclists and non-cyclists-who are appalled at what happened. “How could someone just do that?” “How could someone hit someone and not care?” In fact, just this morning at the Y (Wednesday), I was talking to a man who prefers mountain biking over road biking because he got buzzed on his last ride. His question: “How can anyone be so mean, so uncaring about another human life?”

That really is the crux of the matter, you know? How? How can someone do that to someone else? How can I get buzzed, throw my arms out in question, and get the “royal bird” flashed back at me? That tells me that he/she knew exactly what they were doing.

It comes down to this: Human life is no longer sacred. Human life no longer means much to people. We live in a throw-away society so life is the same. Can there be any other explanation for the pro-choice view of life? I’m going to borrow some words from Jared C. Wilson’s book Unparalleled: How Christianity’s Uniqueness Makes it Compelling:

 Human life isn’t sacred because we managed to be the experiment of nature that finally worked. Human life isn’t sacred because we are beneficial to each other or to society. Human life isn’t sacred when it is wanted or desired or loved. Human life is sacred because God created it in his own image. (p.78-79)

How can anyone read Psalm139:13-16 and not see that uniqueness, that sacredness? God has made us in His image; we are His image-bearers. That doesn’t mean because we are “useful,” but beautiful.

This post was in the germination stage but took root when I read this post by my blogging friend, Jay. Jay directed us to his daughter, Sarah’s blog, where she also included a homemade video.  Powerful stuff. Please take a moment to read both and watch the video.

I’d like to hear your thoughts.

MDRecap

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

In my last post I asked for prayer for several folks and ended with saying my next post (this one) would be a recap of Mother’s Day. If you look here you will see I had help Sunday. I asked three women to speak alongside me. I thought I would give a synopsis of what they spoke about.

But first, they all did a phenomenal job! First to last. I could have totally stayed out of the picture (but I couldn’t) and it would have been fine.

AMY HAMLIN

Amy has been married to a phenomenal man with a very muscular physique (so he says) named Dan (is that good enough Dan?) for 21 years; a mother of 2 boys and a girl; and takes her desire to follow Jesus seriously. Amy spoke about Hannah, the mother of Samuel, who gave her long-awaited son to God. She and Daniel had waited over 7 years so Hannah became very alive to her. Eventually, Hannah’s (and Amy’s) waiting was fruitful and a son was born. Amy did an excellent job of tying in waiting on God and faith. {Note: My apologies to Amy. My original said “close to 18 years” but Dan said, “I know Amy looks young but it has been 21 years.”} I also apologize to Amy for underestimating her time with Dan. 🙂 🙂  And in case you can’t tell, I love these guys.

DIANA MARKLAND

I happen to know Diana pretty well. I work with her everyday. Diana has been married almost 30 years and has two sons. I asked her to speak on being a “warrior woman.” Conversations we have had over the past year or so precluded me asking her on that topic. She has a picture in her office I bought her of a warrior woman.

Diana spoke about being a woman who fights for her marriage, her children, her life…like a warrior. It was very inspirational and challenging to the women who were here.

JO GRANDI

I happen to know this woman!  This June will be 44 years together and that love has brought 2 adult daughters, a son-in-law we love as if he is our own, and of course, the best grandson in the world. (And no, I am not prejudiced! Just the facts). 🙂 Anyway, Jo spoke…haltingly at times…about dealing with my 2 bicycle wrecks and the possibility I could have died on either one, especially the last one. (The face plant and helmet split in three places is a dead giveaway). Jo spoke about feeling “closed in on,” of being rushed before the wreck and how the wreck caused us to slow down and breathe. She closed with a video. Enjoy! I cannot tell you how proud I was of her.

Actually, I was so pleased with all three ladies. I could see a “fear” in them of standing before people, but I also saw a strong confidence because they were God’s spokesperson for that time.  If you would like to hear their talks you can go to the church’s website and listen to the podcast. The strange guy’s voice you hear is mine. 🙂

It was a good and enriching day. Thanks Amy, Diana, and Jo for making it extra special. Now…next year? Look out ladies! I’ll probably be avoided for the whole year now.