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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.  😉


Monday, April 18th, 2011

This past Wednesday, April 13th, was a bittersweet day for me.  It was on April 13, 1975 that I was ordained into the “professional ministry.”  I honestly don’t like that term but don’t know what else to call it.  Back in that day (okay so waaaay back in that day), it was a practice that pastors be licensed by the church.  In some peoples’ minds, it made them “better qualified” to preach, do funerals/weddings, counsel, etc.  Please notice the use of quotes in that last sentence.  🙂  So, I celebrated 36 official years in the ministry-although I was preaching between my sophomore & junior year in college (1972).

The other part of that day that holds a much deeper meaning is that was the birthday of my late mother.  She would have been 79.  Mom died in March of 2004 from a rare form of lung cancer that largely struck woman who were non-smokers.   I won’t even attempt to give you the name of it because I am sure I will spell it wrong.  The sad part is that I thought about it beforehand, and then remembered afterwards.  It is this remembering afterwards that has had me going down Memory Lane.  It is the weirdest thing, too, what pops into the mind.   Here is one that has been running around in my mind today (Monday), and trust me when I say it has plenty of room to run!  🙂

When I was in Junior High School, we finally got a new pastor who replaced the one who had been there 35 years.  He brought some life to the youth, and with that, new life to me.  I recommitted my life to Christ and made some drastic changes in my outlook.  I learned a song  back then and still remember the words:

“Nothing is impossible when you put your trust in God,

Nothing is impossible when you’re trusting in His Word,

Hearken to the voice of God to thee,

Is there anything to hard for thee?

Then put your trust in God alone and rest upon His Word,

For everything, o everything, yes everything is possible with God.”

Yeah, I know about the archaic language but you have to remember back in the Dark Ages they only had King Jimmy to fall back on. 😉  And yes, the lyrics are somewhat simplistic. But they tell a truth we would be wise to remember!!


I am afraid that sometimes we I forget that.  Maybe because of mistrust. Maybe because of doubt.  Maybe because I simply allow the circumstances facing me to look bigger than they are.  I should remember the angel’s words to Mary: “Nothing is impossible with God.” And if He can do that…then He certainly can do the impossible with and for me.  Let me whip out one more moldie oldie for you: “Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?  Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?  God specializes in things thought impossible, He does the things other cannot do.” Okay…so there is your moldie oldie music lesson for today.  🙂

What about you?  Facing anything seemingly insurmountable these days?  Need some help moving the mountain?  He specializes in things thought impossible.  Has God recently brought you through a seemingly impossible situation?  I would love to hear from you.  If you want to, please add how I can pray for you.


No Resolutions Here

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

I’m not alone.  Shoot… I will probably be linking to other blogs via Google Reader and thinking, “Man, why didn’t I say that?” or “How did I miss that quote?”  That’s good because I reckon there is always room for one more.  With that in mind, I ran across this quote by Mark Twain the other day in my reading:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream. Discover.

Those words sink deep within me.  They “resonate” and vibrate and stir.  They are like a shot of adrenaline that I get when I am climbing a hill on my bike and need that boost to make it those last few yards.  We live way too often in fear and worry and despair and emptiness built on unfulfilled dreams.  I AM NOT one to advocate sitting down and making resolutions for a new year.  I tried that.  I failed.  In fact, I honestly believe I set myself up for failure by setting such lofty resolutions/goals.   I have been giving some thought to this quote and to my upcoming 2011 and have come to the conclusion that I am simply going to ask God to do His work in me, no matter what it is, and to do what the apostle Paul said He would in Phil.1: 6 : “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in your will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” I want His work in me.  I want to be a bold representative of His.  I want to be a representation of Him.  I know I am flying blind here since I have no clue what that will entail.  No more hiding.  No more dishonesty.  No more flim-flamming.   May it be said of me/you what Paul goes on to say in Phil.1:9-11: “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

And for your listening pleasure (and knowing the battle that is ahead):

He’s Everything To Me

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Reading Ed Underwood’s book Reborn To Be Wild carried me back to the early days of my faith, actually to my days in High School.  (For those who weren’t born yet that would have been 1967-1970.  No comment from the peanut gallery either)  🙂  Every Campus Life meeting and every Young Life meeting always included a song that Ed’s book brought back to me. I bet you it has been over 40 years since I had heard it.  Here are the lyrics to the song “He’s Everything To Me” by Ralph Carmichael:

In the stars His handiwork I see,
On the wind He speaks with majesty.
Though He ruleth over land and sea,
What is that to me?

I will celebrate Nativity,
For it has a place in history,
Sure, He came to set His people free,
What is that to me?

Til by faith I met Him face to face,
And I felt the wonder of His grace,
Then I knew that He was more
Than just a God who didn’t care,
That lived away out there
and …..
Now He walks beside me day by day,
Ever watching o’er me lest I stray,
Helping me to find that narrow way,
He is everything to me.

I suppose to some of you that is rather cheesy.  But for us in that time, it was THE song.  That song was before Larry Norman’s “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music” and “Wish We’d All Been Ready”, Love Song, Randy Matthews, Darrell Mansfield, and the Archers.  (I know, I know, who are they?)  I will grant you that the lyrics may be somewhat cheesy and the tune even cheesier BUT, and here is the big BUT, the truth and challenge of the lyrics still stand!! The question that has haunted me since reading those words again is this:  Is Jesus everything to me?  The answer: No.  I want Him to be but I can’t sit here and lie and say, “Yes, Jesus is everything to me.”  And that leads me to a further confession: I can’t say I taught my wife and children and the churches I pastored and the guys I spent time with that Jesus should be everything to them.  Sure, it is everyone’s personal choice but people still need to be led.  Listen to these words: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”  Deut.6:4-9 Talk about convicting verses of Scripture!! Revival will happen in my life, in your life; in my home, in your home; in “my” church, and in “yours”; when we get back to the basic of Jesus being everything to me.

I have preached on long enough.  You probably preached or heard one Sunday (today or yesterday depending on when you read this)…you don’t need another one.  😛  So let me just stop now and ask you THE question: Is Jesus everything to you?  If not, how do you plan to go about making it so?  I would like to hear your thoughts.

And for a little fun: for those of you (probably about all) who have never heard the song I found this arrangement.

Best/Worst of Times

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

That was the first line from Charles Dickens’ novel, The Tale of Two Cities. I reckon in some way I feel that way.  Not in a bad way but in a good way.  How is that possible you ask?  Glad you did!  😛

I normally try to post about once a day except on weekends when I generally will skip Saturday and will usually write or schedule a post for late Sunday when most will view it on Monday. (I bet you now feel enormously grateful that you now know the workings of my mind) I am late today and almost decided not to.  But then I began to think that I have a story to tell so can I say it as loud as I can?  THIS WEEK HAS BEEN A ZOO AND IT IS ONLY TUESDAY!!! Honestly now, I am not asking for your sympathy.  Okay maybe just a little, but unless you plan to send (real) money,  keep your hand in your pocket.  No wiping of the tears.  No covering the mouth in a chuckle.  No hiding the eyes while you roll them and sing, “Cry me a river.”   Don’t deflate me any more than I already am.  🙁 So…what was I saying?  Oh yeah.  I was going to tell you why this has been a zoo around here and why it is the best of times and the worst of times.  (Sorry my mind is scattered all over the place and can’t seem to find it all).

Sunday, my secretary (actually the church’s secretary but I claim her) left with her husband for LasVegas.  No, not to gamble so don’t get your undies all in a bunch about church secretary’s gambling the church’s money away.  Diana’s fine husband, Jim, is the General Manager of the Bloomington (IN) Harley Davidson.  After the flood in Nashville changed H-D’s plans, they booked Vegas.  I “gave” Diana “permission” to go with Jim (as if I had any say in it).  Usually when she goes the office is pretty quiet, the phone doesn’t ring, and I can do what Bill wants to do.  But this week has been different.  It seems like every Tom, Dick & Harry knows she is gone and has made a pact to “hassle Bill any way we can.”   Now, before you get our your violins and play for me or buy stock in Kleenex, let me tell you that while “it is the worst of times, it is also the best of times. ”  I have already told you why it is the worst of times.  I am busy!!  I can’t do what Bill wants to do when Bill wants to do it (although I did close up shop at 11 this morning so I could ride my bike).  But it is the best of times because of why I am busy.  The church I pastor has just purchased its first building/property.  😀 (Big round of applause is heard)  Do you know how much stuff is involved in making a move?  Holy mackerel! (or is that Holy Overload Batman?)  Meetings, meetings and more meetings.  Call here or call there.  Things Diana would normally do, yours truly is having to do.  BTW: have you ever called AT&T and listened to that stupid robot on the other end?  When can I talk to a real person?…but I digress.   I have a new respect for church planters because even though we have been in existence for 6 years now, we are having to do things in less than 2 months that church plants and planters take 6 months to a year to do.  Combine all that stuff with my normal work- studying, blogging, making/taking calls, taking people out to eat so we can talk, etc and I am one busy boy.

So I don’t rouse any sympathy for myself, there is a point to this.  Something has to give.  I am proud ashamed to admit that during my Quiet Time this morning, I dozed for about 1/2 hour.  I was in la-la land and when I came comatose it took a moment to realize where I was.  Then I read this post by Duane Scott.  This seems to be a theme of some bloggers lately, too numerous to list here. Or maybe it is just me and the state I am in and knowing that as the date of our first worship experience in our new place gets closer, my life will probably get more hectic.  (I almost said hecticer but I know that is not a word.  It is underlined in red).   🙂   I do hope by now some of you have put away your violins.  However, instead of a musical solo, could I ask you to say a prayer for me?  And then…please tell me how I can pray for you right now.

One last (totally unrelated) thing: the words of Charles Dickens rang through my mind and as they did so did a song.  Dennis DeYoung was lamenting and writing about the closing of the Paradise Theatre in Chicago.  I love the graphics of this video.  Slow down and watch them.  🙂

Any thoughts you have?  I would like to hear them (if you are not crying too hard for me or too swamped yourself).


Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I gave Jo a card that said on the outside, “Sometimes I wonder WHY I put up with You.” Her first reaction when she read it was, “Well, thanks.”  Then she opened it up and it said, “Oh yeah, now I remember,  You put up with ME!” Then she chuckled.  I know… I am one strange person and have a (sometimes) weird way of showing/telling someone I love them.  37 years ago today Jo made a commitment to put up with me.  Trust me when I say it has been much harder on her than me putting up with her.  (She paid me to say that!)  😀

I am taking the day off today to be with her.  She was able to get the day off so we will be spending it together.  We plan to visit the church camp where we have a camper and a faculty member (without a youth pastor one of my goals this summer is to visit each week we have a camper) and then head to an outlet mall and eventually find a place to eat.  So…needless to say I will be not be on the computer until much later today.  I know you are saddened by that but deal with it!  LOL

I thought about syrupy sappy songs to leave with you that tell you how I feel about Jo.  “Open Arms” or “After All These Years” by Journey comes to mind.  I thought about “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion.  I thought about “Honestly” by Stryper.  I thought about an oldie that stands at #2 on my all-time list of favorite songs: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli. But lest I give you the impression that I am some syrupy, emotional, I-like-feeling-and-being-close-to-my wife kind of guy, I thought I would surprise you (and probably her) with my choice since it is not a conventional anniversary song.  We have much to celebrate.  37 years.  2 fantastic daughters who make us proud each and every day (except when they fail to call their mom to let her know they have arrived back home).  A son-in-law whom we could not ask to love his wife and son more than he does.  A terrific grandson (see this post).  A loving group of people to pastor.  A graceful, loving God (who needs no link).  And so much more.  At our age (57 & 59 and I am not telling who is who… although I was born in 1952),  who knows how many more years we have on this earth (no one does for sure), but however many we do, I will continue to love, honor and cherish the love of my life.  In fact, I will celebrate…US!  I will celebrate another day of loving.  I love you more than life honey.  Thanks for hanging in there with me.  So here you have the song for the day!  Enjoy!

Okay…so did it bring back memories to any of you?  Maybe the correct question is “how many of you even heard of it before today?”  😉   Do you and your spouse (if you are married) have a song?  If you aren’t married, do you have a song that could describe you at this moment? Remember: I will get back to you later today or sometime tonight.  Thanks for listening.

I Interrupt this Blog…

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

I heard some really sad news yesterday.  Dana Key, former lead singer of DeGarmo & Key went to be with Jesus.  You can read the report of his death here. Their rock album, Straight On, was the very first Christian rock album I bought.  At one time I had every album/recording they ever did.   I passed them on to a DJ several years ago. Some of you may have never heard of  D & K and since the dissolution of the band, both Dana and Eddie have stayed busy.  Dana became a pastor of a church in Cordova, TN where Clay Crosse and his wife attend.  I remember once going to a concert they were playing and as I walked by their tour bus he walked out.  He stopped and spoke to me and my wife and when I asked him if he would play/sing my favorite song he said, “Sure.”  When it came time, he even commented about the request.  In an age of fake musicians totally not serious about their faith in Christ (I am not speaking about all), Dana was a rare jewel.  His faith was real.  His love for Jesus was real.  See you later Dana.  Thanks for the music.  Thanks for the memories.  And now I give you that song he sang that night that is my all-time favorite of D & K and maybe of all my music.

Are you old enough to remember D & K?  What was your favorite song by them?

Needing a Break

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I have been posting some pretty serious stuff lately so I thought I would lighten it up as we head into the weekend.  I am not preaching this Sunday.  Actually, Jo and I are heading to Lafayette, IN for a funeral wedding on Saturday afternoon that I am performing.  After that we will be heading to Columbus, OH to visit our grandson while his mom and dad take off for Cincinnati to celebrate their 5th anniversary.  (I just can’t get him to give up cheering for the Reds).   We will be returning home on Monday.   Anyway, I thought I would lighten the weekend for you with a “moldie oldie.”  Hope you enjoy it.  (I will comment when/if I get a chance to do so).  If not, see you Monday or Tuesday).

I like my job and I dont mind the work
But eleven out of twelve is bound to hurt
The pay’s pretty good and the benefits are fine
But I got a little girl and I wanna make her mine

Don’t mind telling you i get a little mad
To get a bit ahead takes all the time I have
Don’t misunderstand me
I’m not getting soft
All i want is a couple days off

Can’t wait for the weekend

Ah baby just can’t wait no

I dont need another high song to sing
I dont need a shiny new diamond ring
I don’t need to meet nobody else
I just need a little time for myself
’cause i’m only human, i’m no machine

I need a little loving only you know what I mean
Don’t misunderstand me
I’m not getting soft
All i want is a couple days off

Let me catch my breath

Thank god for the weekend

Back to the old grind

I dont need another long coffee break
I’ve had as much coffee as a man can take
I need to change my disposition
Change my point of view
I need time to figure out what i want to do

Believe me when i tell you it gets a little rough
We work a little harder but it never is enough

I’m not afraid to say
I’m a total loss
All i want is a couple days off

Can’t wait for the weekend

Or maybe you prefer this one:

Lyrics can be found at

My Everyday Battle

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

No, I am not an alcoholic.  No, I am not a smoker.  No, I am not a gambler.  No, I am not a wife-abuser.  No, I am not a slacker.  But every day I fight a battle.  Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose.  It is a battle of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.  What I am is not always what I show.  What I battle inside is not always seen on the outside.  How I feel is often hidden.  And sometimes it all just comes rushing out!  For a change of pace today, listen to the song (lyrics below) and then tell me how you feel:

by Bob Hartman
Based on Rom. 7:15

I have a secret that I let nobody see
An evil shadow that’s been hanging over me
My alter ego that I try to hold at bay
But despite my good intentions he can always get away

He does the things that I don’t want to do

Sometimes I feel like Jekyll and Hyde
Two men are fighting a war inside

I have this secret that I let nobody see
It’s like a split personality
And the one I feed is the one who lives
The one I starve will be the one who gives

He won’t do things that I know I should do

Sometimes I feel like Jekyll and Hyde
Two men are fighting a war inside
One gives, one takes, I have to decide
Sometimes I feel like Jekyll and Hyde

I need somebody to rescue me
When personalities clash
I know which person I want to be
With no defiance
Just God-reliance

“I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” [Rom.7:15]  It all appears hopeless but it isn’t!  “Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” [Rom.7:24b-25]

So…how are you doing?  Who is winning your battle?