August, 2021

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#LawsFamily#Testimony

Saturday, August 28th, 2021

I’m not preaching this Sunday because Mike, Trisha, and Ryan Laws are our special guests.

I have been anticipating this for over 2 months. Mike donated his kidney to his son in order to save his life.  A perfectly healthy, 13 year old, soccer-playing teenage who in a matter of days found himself in the ICU because of a kidney disease is the basis for the Laws’ story. The foundation of it though is the faithfulness of God as they cried, trusted, sought answers, watched Ryan lay in a bed unable to respond, until finally both Mike and Trisha were tested as matches. They decided Mike would be the one to give his son new life. What greater father/son love story could you find? 

Oh yeah, there is one. God the Father giving up His Son on the cross for our salvation.

Please join us live at 9 and 10:45 as they tell their story, a testimony to God’s incredible love and faithfulness.

And BTW: Mike has been back at work and Ryan is back at soccer going full bore.  You gotta hear their story!

 

#Leadership#ChurchLessons

Thursday, August 26th, 2021

In my last post I featured Phil Cooke’s blog entitled Leadership Lessons from Joe Biden and Afghanistan.  At the end of that post I made a comment that I would apply it to church leadership. Here is my somewhat meager attempt at doing that. I am not a “Leadership Guru” by any stretch. I have weaknesses as a leader which I am aware of.  So please understand I am not speaking from a mountain of leadership expertise as though I am “the” leader. Far from it.  Here are my thoughts born out of my last blog:

1) Incompetent leaders can rise to remarkable heights. There is no question that many leaders “get there” riding on the coattails of several different things. Personality. Talent. Who-they-know. Just because they get wherever they are going doesn’t mean they are competent leaders.

2) Fantasy isn’t a leadership strategy. I had a dream once of being a pastor of a big church. Fantasy only as I soon found out. Reality: I wasn’t equipped for that nor gifted for that. I’m good with pastoring a church in a small town. I love the people here and this November, Lord willing, will start my 17th year. Living in a Disney fantasy world would have only left me high, dry, unfulfilled, and miserable.  Whoever said, “Reality s***s” has not lived in my world.

3) Leaders take the hits. Admitting I have been wrong seems to be the theme of my ministry. 🙂  I have been wrong so many times… if I could have received $1 for every time I was wrong and had to apologize, I could retire and live off the interest. Rats!  Should have started that jar a long time ago.

4) In a crisis, leaders must face the public. Back in January of 2011 I found out we had been embezzled to the tune of $200+ thousand. After telling the leaders and having a flash meeting with them, I went before the church family to inform them of the shortage. To say people were shocked, enraged, stunned (and any other adjective you can think of) would be an understatement. But it was the right thing to do. In my mind, it was the only thing to do.

5) Good leaders listen to advice. I won’t go into my thoughts on the arrogance of Mr. Biden not listening to his advisors. But many pastors don’t either. When it comes to important decisions which affect the whole congregation, I don’t make unilateral decisions.  There are two others on staff who are involved in helping to make decisions and if it is a major one, I take it to the elders.  I found out early on it is wise to listen to others…even if I may disagree.

6) Never forget that leaders who try to leave a legacy rarely do. The best legacy I can leave behind is that I was a follower of Jesus and loved Him with all my heart. The rest takes care of itself.  It is far too easy to try to please everyone if I am concerned with my legacy.

There you have my thoughts. Totally non-political. Thoroughly my thoughts.  Leadership is different. I used to think I was a great leader. No more. I am adequate at best. I still have so much to learn.

#Leadership#Afghanistan#Cooke

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

The following is an article by Phil Cooke on his blog.  He writes about leadership and other subjects on his blog at philcooke.com. I am including this article-not to make a political statement, but to make a leadership statement. Perhaps some good discussion can ensue in churches and among leadership about the way decisions are made and carried out.  Here is the article:

LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM JOE BIDEN AND AFGHANISTAN

The documentation of President Biden’s decisions surrounding the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan are now legion. But aside from the tragic results those decisions have created, it’s worth looking at what leaders could learn from this debacle. In coming years, we’ll have a chance to see much deeper into this situation and how much it tarnishes his legacy, but for now, here’s a handful of immediate reflections that leaders should consider:

1) Incompetent leaders can rise to remarkable heights. In 1972, 29-year old Joe Biden ran for Senate against Republican Senator Caleb Boggs. I was a senior in high school that year, so that’s a long time. And yet, Robert Gates, who worked with him and served as defense secretary for the Obama administration, has been quoted as saying that Biden has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” Many of the changes he’s proposed so far in his presidency have made many ask why he hasn’t already accomplished these things over the last 40 years while in office. Never be caught off guard by poor leadership. In politics, business or the nonprofit sector, never think every high level leader deserves to be there or is capable of being effective.

2) Fantasy isn’t a leadership strategy. It’s well documented that Biden’s goal was to “bring the troops home” in time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11. That would have been a great victory and scored a lot of political points. But no matter how strong the fantasy, leaders must deal in reality. Ignoring better advice about a more thoughtful and realistic exit strategy, he chose the fantasy instead. It doesn’t matter if a leader’s fantasy is a new product launch, advertising campaign, fundraising strategy or anything else – reality is a brutal wake-up call.

3) Leaders take the hits. In spite of the overwhelming evidence, President Biden still hasn’t admitted he was wrong. It’s been a dark comedy watching members of his team like Secretary of State Anthony Blinken squirm during interviews trying to defend and support the president. But when a leader won’t admit a mistake, his entire team suffers trying to maintain the illusion. In far too many cases that only leads to disunity, frustration, and eventual splits in the team.

4) In a crisis, leaders must face the public. When the tragedy in Afghanistan began unfolding, Biden hunkered down at Camp David and it wasn’t until public criticism became overwhelming did he emerge from his vacation. But even then he refused to answer reporters questions, and immediately returned to his vacation (another big blunder). Only later did he respond to pre-approved questions. But during times of crisis, leaders must be available, candid, and open. For people to believe you’re in charge, you have to show up. Honesty and authenticity may be painful in the short term, but that builds trust far better than hiding.

5) Good leaders listen to advice. After the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, John F. Kennedy created the Executive Committee of the National Security Council whose express purpose was to openly debate issues surrounding national security. Kennedy realized the need to listen to all sides of an argument. President Lyndon B. Johnson actually designated an advisor to be his official in-house skeptic. The best business leaders are willing to listen to opposing ideas. Group-think is a massive mistake for leaders, and if you’re surrounded by yes-men and women, you’re headed in the wrong direction.

6) Finally, never forget that leaders who try to leave a legacy rarely do. A “legacy” isn’t something that’s manufactured, designed, or created. Numerous leaders have become obsessed with their legacy, but legacies are based on how others perceive you and your life’s work. So if you’d like to leave one, stop thinking about it and just get back to work.

I’m sure more lessons will unfold as time goes on, but the important lesson is that during moments of crisis, there is always something for leaders to learn. {End of post}

{My plan is to come back later this week to write about how these 6 lessons apply to pastors and churches. Please feel free to comment here or go to Phil’s blog and make a comment there. Please tell him I sent you}. 🙂  That, and just under a dollar, will buy you a fountain drink at Speedway gas stations.

#42

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

Yes, that is Jackie Robinson’s uniform number, but this post is not about him (although he would be a very worthy subject for one).

No…sadly that is not my age.  You gotta add about 26 more years (soon to be 27) to catch me.

And no, that is not the amount of years Jo and I have been married. We passed that number many moons ago.  We actually celebrated 48 this past June.

Well…if you must know and can’t guess… 🙂 … today is my youngest daughter’s birthday. And I bet you couldn’t guess she turns 42!  I know.  Tough one wasn’t it?

We spent Friday evening with she and Mike at Texas Roadhouse (they have the best salmon) and got to see Braden, our grandson, play his first high school football game Saturday morning. Mike is her male friend, who is actually more than a friend.  She likes him…A LOT! We are happy for her. He treats her well. He did get me upset though this past Friday. We were waiting for her to get home from work and in she waltzes with a vase full of flowers.  I have carefully cultivated this “NO FLOWER” persona with Jo and here he goes and buys her flowers!  Sheesh! That is not the way to win friends and influence people. Nor is the way to win over your girl friend’s father to your side. 🙂 

Okay, truth be known…they were beautiful flowers. He is just going to have to stop doing things like that…at least when we are coming.  I heard several references to “he got her flowers” throughout the night. In all honesty, we like Mike (not Jordan but this Mike).  When her marriage of 15 years ended, we were concerned for what she would do (not drastic), but with her future. She continued to work and COVID sent her home to work. She found a place to move to after a year when her former husband had to move out of the school district. God opened a place for her that is much better than she had. Mike has settled her and given her back her dignity and peace.  They have now been dating for over a year.  I know he won’t read this but “Thanks Mike for doing that.” 

Only God knows what is in her future.  She is 42 and all a mom and dad can do is leave their adult children in the hands of the ONE who has always held her.  Happy Birthday Janna. I love you.

#PastFocus#PresentResponse

Friday, August 20th, 2021

Have you ever had one of the “when the lights come on” moments? I remember a car maker once had commercials where they had a light bulb above someone’s head being clicked on, sort of as a sign of “I get it!” “I chose wisely!” They wanted the consumer to see that buying one of their vehicles was a very bright, i.e. wise decision.

As a preacher or as a teacher, it is nice to see “the light come on” in someone’s mind when the eyes get really clear and they shake their head. They have had that “AHA” moment.

This chapter in Mark reminds me of those moments, moments when I get it and moments when it is like (waving hand over the head).  I sometimes wonder what Jesus thought when people who were listening to Him finally got it.  I’m going to focus on three lessons this week:

  • Past faithfulness of God is often forgotten with present challenges.
  • Present focus often obliterates seeing reality.
  • Present response should be determined by divine truth not social opinion.

Please join us this Sunday as we continue our study in Mark 8. You can join us live or by live stream.  If not, you can always pray for us.

#Legalism#Deadliness

Friday, August 13th, 2021

Only someone who has grown up or been a part of legalism can truly understand its draw.

There are three ways of looking at the Bible.

Progressive “Christianity” (PC)– I use that term loosely because I am not convinced it is Christianity at all. PC takes a very open approach to the Bible and the things of God.

Legalism– the other end of the spectrum from PC. Legalism takes a very closed approach-not in the areas of inerrancy and accuracy of the Scriptures-but in the way God’s Word is followed.  Wanting to follow God’s Word is admirable, but in legalism’s case, it is taking it to an extreme and thinking, “Unless you see it my way there is no hope for you.”  It is the old adage: “Us four, no more, shut the door” type of thinking.

My sermon Sunday is going to explore that topic deeper. Using Mark 7:1-23 and Jesus’ confrontation/words with the Pharisees, I intend to show how legalism is dangerous and also life-sucking.  I would love to have you join us in person or live (whichever floats your boat). 🙂  One thing I do need to say if you plan to watch it on the live stream: due to a scheduling conflict of the two who are steady about streaming the second service, WE WILL ONLY BE STREAMING THE 9:00 SERVICE. Sorry for the inconvenience. You can still watch it at 10:45 or any other time.

I hope you will join me one way or the other.

That third way? The Bible is the inerrant, unchanging Word of God. True. Trustworthy. Completely accurate in its original languages. God’s written Word as He “spoke” it to the writers who wrote it down in their words.

#Rejected#Can’tGoBack

Saturday, August 7th, 2021

In the late 60s, pop singer, Tommy James (who happens to be my favorite)  recorded a song called Smoky Roads. He was writing about returning home which included the lyrics: “I came back to take a look at my childhood/ But all I found was a big stack of firewood/And a whole bunch of people I don’t even know.”

I felt that way when I went back. Things changed. I graduated high school 51 years ago (that is 1970 to save you from trying to figure it out). 🙂 I never went back for a class reunion. Besides the distance, I was never fond of high school and had few friends. Things changed. The town changed. After the steel companies went under from the recession in the mid 70s (which was a depression in that area), much of what I knew became like a ghost town. Shops closed up. Steel mills shuttered. I have told myself I can’t go home, unless I want to see my two brothers who still live near Pittsburgh.  (I used to go back to watch the Pirates play but that’s another story).

The sermon Sunday is about Jesus going home to Nazareth and how “a prophet is without honor in his own country” sure played itself out for Him. I’ve titled the sermon What Can I Expect? and have two thoughts I will share: I can expect rejection and I can expect certain realities.  Mark 6 is where I will be preaching from.

I would be honored if you would join us in person or online.  If you can do neither your prayers would be much appreciated.

I’m sorry this is posted so late. We made a trip to Ohio on Wednesday and came back home Friday. I had grass to cut when I got back so my time to post this was limited.

#OOPS#RePost#SheGetsIt

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

My deepest apologies to all of you who tried to access the post yesterday and found a big, huge blank.  In order to correct my “technologically-challenged” abilities, (or maybe FB not allowing it to be reposted because it’s not “woke” enough. I’ve been reading Owen Strachan’s book Christianity and Wokeness and I have even less tolerance for that doctrine of the devil than before. I’d say I’m sorry about that comment but I’d be lying. What does that one commercial say: “Sorry but not sorry”? Yeah, that would be me at this point), I’ll give you a written version of what was said.

The picture was of Sydney McLaughlin with an American flag and flowers and a gold medal hanging around her neck. The following are the words written by her Coach William B:

“This 21 year old is now the only woman in history to run under 52 seconds in the women’s 400-meter hurdles and one of the preeminent faces of the new generation of track and field athletes. Sydney McLaughlin set a new world record and received the gold medal. Her words reflect her faith as she boldly said, “Records come and go, the glory of God is eternal.” And “I no longer run for self-recognition, but to reflect His perfect will that is already set in stone. I don’t deserve anything. But by grace, through faith, Jesus has given me everything.”

It is my understanding that she runs for the Gold against her chief rival tonight. May I suggest you Google her name? You will find out what you need to know about her there. She sounds like one phenomenal young lady.

From the previous post:

Now THIS is what it is all about. I, personally, have not watched one second of the Olympics because of all the political c_ _ p (you can fill in the word) that is going on. Kneeling before a soccer match. Turning a back during the National Anthem. Crossing the arms during a photo op. Sad that our world, and that games which were supposed to bring unity and sportsmanship,  have turned into political statements.  If the “O’s” continue like this, I will be hoping they go the way of the dodo bird. All this “woke” garbage is frying me. (You want to know how I really feel?)

#RealAthlete#SheGetsIt!

Monday, August 2nd, 2021

Now THIS is what it is all about. I, personally, have not watched one second of the Olympics because of all the political c_ _ p (you can fill in the word) that is going on. Kneeling before a soccer match. Turning a back during the National Anthem. Crossing the arms during a photo op. Sad that our world and that games which were supposed to bring unity and sportsmanship have turned into political statements.  If the “O’s” continue like this, I will be hoping they go the way of the dodo bird. All this “woke” garbage is frying me. (You want to know how I really feel?)

More power to people like Sydney!

I apologize for the screen shot. I was unable to clean it up so it is shown as it was sent to me.

It has come to my attention that the screenshot was not accessible. Please tune in tomorrow for the words and a description of this deleted screenshot.  Sorry for the misunderstanding. Blame it on my “technologically-challenged” abilities. They, as you can tell, have much to be desired.