Friday, November 30, 2012

Be Careful

A rabbi and a priest drive their cars into each other. It’s a bad accident. Both cars are totally demolished but amazingly neither one of them is hurt.

As they crawl out of their cars, the rabbi sees the priest's collar and says, "So you're a priest. I'm a rabbi. Just look at our cars. There's nothing left but we are unhurt. God must have meant that we should meet and be friends and live together in peace the rest of our days."

The priest replies, "I agree with you completely. This must be a sign from God."

The rabbi continues, "And look at this. Here's another miracle. My car is completely demolished but this bottle of Kedem wine didn't break. Surely God wants us to drink this wine and celebrate our good fortune."

Then he hands the bottle to the priest. The priest agrees, takes a few big swigs, and hands the bottle back to the rabbi. The rabbi takes the bottle, immediately puts the cap on, and hands it back to the priest. The priest asks, "Aren't you having any?"

The rabbi replies, "No . . . I think I'll wait for the police."

It’s Friday, so laugh and use this anyway you want! Have a great weekend and go to church for Heaven’s sake!


Good morning! It's a lot warmer out there this morning than I expected. Mild is fine, if it's not going to snow. Yesterday was another beautiful sunny day, wasn't it?

I had a long day yesterday. I got up at 5, like usual, and didn't shut down until around 7 p.m. There wasn't much down time in between the 2 times. I had to leave my smoker, full of 70 pounds of pork, to go move boxes of toys from the Store to our gym for the toy sale. It was supposed to have been done Wednesday night, but there was a communication breakdown. It all turned out fine. We had several good volunteers that worked really hard for 2 hours.

When I got back home, my "low and slow" smoking effort had gone too low and too slow, but I was able to revive it all and move it forward. It did delay the end time, but as I was pulling it, sampling as I went, I couldn't tell that it affected the taste. I never eat supper on smoke days. I just pull and eat as I go. Yum, yum. It's a good thing I run, or Santa and I might have a similar problem.

Speaking of running, you say you want to know what the scoreboard says? OK, if you insist.

Run so far: 1367.82    Needed to reach 1500: 132.18    Day left in the year: 32

I had a nice early evening run with Tim S. and Bill D. Ryan R. ran into us for the last mile or so. We had a good conversation about lots of things, as usual.

Today is another smoke day. Wow, 70 more pounds to place on the smoker, like right now. The fire is going and ready. While smoking, I have a sermon to finish, along with all the things that go along with it: slides, discussion guide, and notes for listeners.

Time to go put some meat on! Thanks for stopping by. If you want a good pulled pork sandwich tomorrow, then show up at our gym. We're selling it by the pound also.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


It happens from time to time - a lottery jackpot reaches an almost unfathomable amount, and people, fueled by media frenzy, rush to the convenient stores.

"You can’t win if you don’t play!"

"Who knows? Somebody has to win. Why not?"

During the latest frenzy there was a good article by NBC news entitled, "$500 million jackpot will buy you. . . misery." It tells of how the winners of big jackpots are often less happy after winning than they were before. The two winners should pay attention.

All that reminded me of a few verses of Scripture.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 — Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.

1 Timothy 6:9,10 — People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Hebrew 13:5 — Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."


Thursday a.m.

Good morning Thursday! You're rather cool this morning, but I know you will warm up to and for me. Right?

Today is a smoke day. Tomorrow will be also. This is not the relaxed, enjoyable sort of smoke. It is more of a "I need to get it done" sort of smoke. That's not a complaint. I have lots of things going on while I'm smoking today. In fact I am going to have to leave the smoker a couple of times, which I don't like to do, but I pretty well know it and how it holds it heat. That means if I get it set right, then I can let it do it's thing for an hour or more without touching it.

We have an expected issue at the Store this morning that is going to require some of my time and attention. We have lots of boxes to move in order to be ready for our big sale on Saturday. I'm going to get a good work out this morning -- a stair workout. That will be good for me.

Yesterday I told you I was going to a funeral, and I commented on about how some funerals are really good and some are not. This one was excellent. The speaker did a great job of capturing the essence of the man's life. I did not know the man, but afterwards I felt like I did.

I'm not sure I'm going to do this everyday, so don't get your hopes up. Was that sarcasm? No, couldn't be. Anyway, here's the running scoreboard through yesterday:

Run so far: 1362.82    Needed to reach 1500: 137.18    Day left: 33

Gotta run!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Giving Gifts

I’m reading through the Bible again this year. I’m always surprised by the things I find along the way – things I forgot, things I now see differently.

This year I am reading primarily The Message, Eugene Peterson’s translation/paraphrase of Scripture. Yesterday’s reading included a sentence, found in Ephesians 4:29, that really struck me.

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

There is a lot to consider from this verse, but the last phrase, especially, caught my attention. Have you ever thought of each word you form possibly being a gift?

‘Tis the season to give gifts.

How about we give some early Christmas gifts with our words today? Encouragement. Support. Loving instruction.

I’m going to try doing that today.

Wednesday a.m.

Good morning! Is it Wednesday? Already? It's a nice cold morning out there, which is fine with me. Looks like a very nice day ahead. This is good, because I have a lot of things today, which include considerable driving.

I need to go to a funeral in Salem this morning. I prefer to go to visitations, where you can speak more freely to the family, etc., but my schedule yesterday did not permit me to go. I do find funerals interesting. As a former director of a hospice program, I used to attend lots of funerals of hospice patients. It's interesting to me to watch and listen as a person or persons try to sum up a (deceased) person's life. Some do it well and some don't. I think, from time to time, what my funeral will be like. I guess it depends on how long I live. People who live a long time usually have smaller funerals. They outlive their peers and the people who know them. What will your funeral be like?

OK, I'm not sure how I got on that. Well, actually I can see how I did, but let's move on to something else. What would you like to talk about today? OK, running it is. We had a nice group run last night as the sun was setting. Even though it was on the cool side, it was a really nice evening to run. Here's the scoreboard:

Completed: 1357.18      Need: 142.18      Days left: 34

Running is going pretty well right now. I'm enjoying it and feeling pretty good. I need to find something to focus on, however, a race in the first part of the year. I also need to get in the pool. I was thinking January, but I feeling convicted that I should probably start sooner. I have some dread about it, but my desire to become a triathlete wins out over the dread. My dread is rooted in how poorly I swim. This winter I hope to fix that.

Today I am going to purchase about 150 pounds of pork to smoke. Wow, that's a lot isn't it? That means for the next 2 days my smoker is going to be smoking away. It's going to be challenging to get it all done, but it's for a good cause. We are selling it for our Honduras trip in the summer.

Well, I have lots to do this morning and beyond, so I better get going. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Did you see this in the news?

An elderly couple in China refused to sign an agreement to allow their home to be demolished, so the authorities built a road around the building.

I’m not sure what to think about that.

I guess one way would be to say they are stubborn and selfish. There is another way to look at it, the way I am choosing this morning. There are times when you must stand for what you believe in.

Knowing one from the other is a matter of spiritual discernment that needs to be rooted in a firm understanding of God’s story and through a relationship with a community of others also living in the Story.

* * *

I Corinthians 15:58 — Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

What are the unmovable things in your life?

Tuesday a.m.

Ben with his football hardware
Good morning! How are you on this snowless Tuesday? I woke up around 2 this morning. The moon was shining bright, and there was no snow on the ground. I didn't really expect any, but I was a little surprised by the moonshine. Now, you can take that last half of the last sentence and imagine that many people have used those words over the years, "I was a little surprised by the moonshine." They should make a TV show about moonshine. What's that? They have? They do? You have to love our country.

Last night was the MHS football banquet. We had a nice turnout in our gym for it. It was an enjoyable evening as we focused on the few bright spots from a pretty rough season. I didn't realize this -- there were times where we were playing a couple of freshman on our offensive line. All the youngsters getting playing time this past season should help us next year.

Ben, who did not want his picture taken, won a few awards, the biggest being PLAC all conference linebacker. He also won most improved player. He hardly played last year, due to some injury issues and other things. He has really developed. I remember when he was little that he would run around and avoid all contact. He seems to enjoy it now. He's a big boy. Yes, I am his father.

Yesterday was a good day. I got a lot of things organized/done. I went for a late afternoon run with two Tims, racking up another 5 miles. So here's the score board, moving toward the 1500 mark for the year:

Completed: 1352.92
To be done: 147.08
Days left: 35

I think I'll make it, barring injury.

This morning is going to be devoted to stillness and being quiet. I need some of both. I'll emerge, like a groundhog on a cold sunny day, around midday. That's the plan. We'll see...

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Simple Prayer

Do you ever need help praying? I do.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed at times with all the needs and requests. There is so much to pray for! Sometimes the feeling of being overwhelmed stops us from praying at all.

Many years ago I received some very good counsel about prayer, especially when you feel overwhelmed: keep it simple.

Here’s a sample of a simple prayer that I came across in Proverbs 30.

"God, I’m asking for two things

before I die; don’t refuse me—

Banish lies from my lips

and liars from my presence.

Give me enough food to live on,

neither too much nor too little.

If I’m too full, I might get independent,

saying, ‘God? Who needs him?’

If I’m poor, I might steal

and dishonor the name of my God."

Isn’t that a wonderful prayer?

Let’s keep growing in truthfulness, both in what we speak and in what we hear from others.

Let’s seek the balance and satisfaction that only God can supply, becoming totally dependent upon him.

It’s a good place to start.

Monday a.m.

I only do it so I can wear the vest
Good morning! Wow, after a very different week, I feel a little "rusty" trying to get back into a regular routine. I'm certainly not complaining about last week. It was wonderful! I love Thanksgiving and the short week it brings.

We had a great Give Thanks 4 run. We had around 30 volunteers and several financial sponsors, along with 125ish runners. The weather was perfect, and the atmosphere was warm, supportive, and enjoyable. I really, really enjoy putting this race on. I have wonderful help from several, which makes it possible.

After the race, I was beat. I got up at 4 a.m. and didn't stop doing things until around 10:45. I went home and cleaned up and headed to my sister's home for a Thanksgiving meal, which was yummy. Then Kedra, Ben, and I took off for Alabama. I was able to take a pretty good nap in the car. We arrived in Alabama around 8, I think.

On Black Friday, while some of the others were shopping, I went for a nice 12 mile run to, and along, the Tennessee River. It was so nice! Quiet. Peaceful. It was nothing spectacular--just a nice steady run--you can see the map here. After the early run, I came back and relaxed and read for a while. Lester and Maddie arrived later in the afternoon. Luke came down Thursday night, so we had 3 out of 4 of our kids present for an AL Thanksgiving meal.

Saturday I ran some more. Lester and Ben went to the Iron Bowl: Alabama and Auburn football game. The rest of us relaxed and then went to a wedding. It was a good day. It was topped off by a phone call from Costa Rica. Rebecca is doing great.

Yesterday I went for another run. I ran 5.4 miles, which corresponds to my 54th birthday. After that we worshiped with the Mayfair Church of Christ, where we saw several friends. After a brunch, we made our way back home, arriving around 7 p.m. We unpacked and started settling back in for the week. This is going to be a smokey week for me. I plan to smoke 2 case of pork shoulders, around 150 pounds, before the week is over. Yikes.

I've decided to go for the 1500 mile running goal for the year. I am sitting on 1347.92, so I'm in a pretty good position, barring injury or a lot of bad weather.

I hope your day/week goes well. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

So sad

Family Renuion

A frustrated man in his 80s, living in Florida, calls his son in New York one November day, shortly before Thanksgiving.

He says to his son, "I hate to tell you this, but we’ve got some troubles here. Your mother and I can’t stand each other anymore, and we’re getting a divorce. I want to live out the rest of my years in peace. I’m telling you now, so you and your sister won’t go into shock later when I move out."

He hangs up, and the son immediately calls his sister in the Hamptons and tells her the news. The sister says, "I’ll handle this."

She calls her father in Florida and says, "Don’t do ANYTHING until we get there! We’ll be there Wednesday night."

The father agrees, "Alright."

The old man hangs up the phone, "high-fives" his wife and proudly says, "Okay, they’re coming for Thanksgiving. Now, what are we going to tell them to get them here for Christmas?"

Happy a thankful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday a.m.

Good morning! It's Give Thanks 4 eve! Oh yeah, it's also the day before Thanksgiving. I guess you can tell where my mind is today. And was yesterday. It's all good, and everything is coming together nicely. I really enjoy doing this kind of thing. We have about 30 volunteers in place, ready to make it all happen. We had 130+ runners last year, and I expect we will be around that number again. The weather is looking perfect for running, which will attract more "day of" registrants.
Yesterday was a good day any way your measure it. I ended my day in Springs Valley. I drove the boys basketball team down, and then I drove the girls team back. The other driver keeps the books, so we worked out this plan that allowed him to do that without time constraints. I liked it because I walked in when the girls had just started and left when the boys ended. It was a fairly late night. I got home around 10.30. The girls got a great win, and the boys came from 20 points down but fell just short.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I will be directing the road race in the morning, eating lunch at my sister's, and then traveling to Alabama for an evening meal with Kedra's family. We will return on Sunday. I am really, really looking forward to the next few day! Lots of running, eating, reading, and resting! Thankful, I am. I am thankful for you coming by to read this stuff I write everyday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Give Thanks Always

It’s hard to believe, and it’s even harder to practice. Yet God asks us to believe it and to practice it.


Giving thanks always! Always? Yes, always.

Here it is:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It’s true that there is always something for which to be thankful, even in bad circumstances. It’s true because it’s rooted in who God is and how he works, especially working in the bad to bring good.

At the most basic level, we should be thankful no matter what. Every breath you take today is a gift from God. May each exhalation be a brief but powerful praise, a "thank you" to the giver of life, no matter what circumstance you find yourself in today.

Thank you Lord!

Tuesday a.m.

Deer, deer, deer...
Good morning! Yesterday afternoon I went to Bedford. As I made my way toward the river, and then across it, I came up on this little pop-up camper. On top of it I could see something. I thought it might be bikes or some other kind of gear that would not fit inside the SUV towing the trailer. As I got closer, I saw that it was not bikes. Nope. It was 3 slain deer, gutted, and now proudly strapped to the top of the camper.

The above brings to mind one of my favorite redneck scenes, and of course it comes out of Alabama, Kedra's home state. She's from Huntsville, which I've always described as a "pocket of civilization" in an interesting and beautiful state. Huntsville really is interesting. There you will find some of most intelligent people in the world. I'm not kidding. NASA is there, along with a lot of military brains.

Anyway. . . Huntsville's sophistication quickly gets balanced out by some of the locals, and this finally brings me to the scene I started to describe many sentences ago. I was driving on Memorial Parkway one day, which is the major road in Huntsville. I looked up and saw an unusually shaped car approaching. As it got closer I could tell what it was. It was VW Beetle with a rather large male deer proudly strapped over the top. The driver could look right at, and then past, the impressive rack to navigate down the highway. My guess is he was going to leave it on there for a while. Probably had to go to Wal-mart.

Wow, OK, now that was a different start to a blog post. Where do I go now? This week for me is mostly about the Give Thanks 4. I got a lot done with it yesterday, and there is still a lot to do. But I really enjoy doing it.

Also today, I'll have some of my usual stuff and then I get to go watch Ben's induction to the honor society. I'm really proud of him. Ben has been a late-bloomer academically speaking. He's lacked confidence, but now he's really working hard and it's showing. He's really maturing in lots of ways.

This evening I am driving a basketball bus to Springs Valley. I went to the ball game last night. The boys and girls JV teams played in Mitchell. Tonight the varsity squads play each other in Valley. We have a bunch of church kids of both JV teams. It was fun to watch them.

I got to run with my old buddy Tim S. yesterday, which was fun. He got me through 5 miles, and then I tacked a couple more on after that. Today I will strive for another five. OK, here we go!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Give Thanks

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power

and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,

for everything in heaven and earth is yours.

Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom;

you are exalted as head over all.

Wealth and honor come from you;

you are the ruler of all things.

In your hands are strength and power

to exalt and give strength to all.

Now, our God, we give you thanks,

and praise your glorious name.

1 Chronicles 29:11-13

Monday a.m.

Well, hello, and good morning! It's the short week, and one of my favorite weeks of the year. Thanksgiving is great! What's not to like? Food, family, football, gluttonous naps, and, well, the list just goes on and on. We are going to Alabama this year, so that changes things somewhat. The main thing it changes is my schedule for the week. I won't be preaching next week. That changes just about everything during the week for me. I'm looking forward to the break, and it could not have come at a better time.
I woke up last night thinking about the Give Thanks 4. Wow, there is a lot to do! Intentionally, I waited until today to to do a lot of it. I have a bunch of people to contact and see and lots of things to line up. I need to see the Mayor, the Chief of Police, contact the ambulance, get some more door prizes, contact all volunteers and a bunch of other things. I'm thankful I have lots and lots of good help. Darrin takes care of the T-shirts and trophies, and Warren is taking care of all our food. Our preregistrations are down a little this year, but I'm guessing the forecaster's perfect weather will result in a lot of race day registrations.
Wasn't the weather wonderful over the weekend? Wow! Friday night I ran with a group in Bedford. We ran Friday night because we helped with the donut run on Saturday morning at BNL. Several braves souls ate a dozen donuts and ran a 5K. After the run, I went home and got a bunch of yard work done. It was very enjoyable.
Yesterday was a good, busy day, centered around church activities. Rebecca skyped in during the afternoon. It was so good to see her. She is interning at a kindergarten outside of San Jose. She likes her new host family and is loving the work. When we spoke to her yesterday, she had not spoken English to anyone for nearly a week. All of her fellow students are also out doing their internships. Rebecca will be home 3 weeks from Tuesday. I knew 15 weeks would fly by, and they have.
OK, I'm going to make the commitment to reaching 1500 running miles this year. I figured it out. I have to average 32 miles a week to do it. Quite manageable, I think. I'm glad to have some kind of goal to keep me focused and moving. I will probably try get more than 32 this week, banking some for the days ahead when running will be more difficult, due to weather, etc. I hope to get off to a good start this week by doing 7-8 this evening. I will do a few before connecting with the group at 5:15.
Here we go...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ten Dollars

Fred and his wife Edna went to the state fair every year. Every year Fred, pointing to an old biplane, would say, "Edna, I'd like to take a ride." Edna would always say, "I know Fred, but that ride costs ten dollars, and ten dollars is ten dollars."

One year they went to the fair, and Fred said, "Edna, I'm 71 years old. If I don't ride that airplane this year I may never get another chance." Edna resisted, "Fred that airplane ride costs ten dollars, and ten dollars is ten dollars."

The pilot overheard them and said, "Folks, I'll make you a deal. I'll take you both up. If you can stay quiet for the entire ride and not say one word, I won't charge you, but if you say one word it's ten dollars."

Fred and Edna agreed. Up they go! The pilot does all kinds of twists and turns, rolls and dives, but not a word is heard.

They land and the pilot turns to Fred, "Well, I did everything I could think of to get you to yell out, but you didn't. The ride is free."

Fred replied, "Well, I was going to say something when Edna fell out of the plane, but ten dollars is ten dollars."

* * *

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. [2 Corinthians 9:6-8]

Friday a.m.

Friday. Yep, it's Friday alright. And good morning to you on this Friday, November 16th. It looks it's going to be a really nice day, especially this afternoon. I think I may get out and work around the house this afternoon. I certainly need to. We also have a very very rare Friday evening run planned. It's so rare that I don't recall it happening before.
The reason we are running this evening is because of the donut run at BNL tomorrow. Most of us are going to help with that race. Here's hoping for a donut or two. It should be fun. I helped last year and enjoyed the experience.
I wish I had something exciting to tell you, but that's not who I am or the way I do things. Pretty mundane (read: boring) guy. I read this article this morning by Peggy Noonan. The first part really caught my attention, because I've noticed what she's talking about.  Humility is not much in vogue these days.
Today is going to be about getting ready for Sunday. I had a lot of things going on yesterday, so I did not get the preparation time that I desire on Thursday. Flexible, gotta be flexible, I tell myself.  I think I'm better than I used to be.
The new roof is on and look$ really good. It $hould.
OK, I guess you can tell I'm not in the mood to write this morning, but I appreciate you stopping by just the same.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Simply Praying

Here are some beautiful words by Mary Oliver.

It doesn't have to be

the blue iris, it could be

weeds in a vacant lot, or a few

small stones; just

pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try

to make them elaborate, this isn't

a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which

another voice may speak.

* * *

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:

"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
[Luke 18]

Thursday a.m.

Good morning! I'm glad to be posting from my home office this morning. I'm in the process of getting a new roof, and the guy told me that when they deal with satellite internet, like mine, they usually "almost never" get it put back to where it works right. I guess I am the rare exception, for which I am very thankful. I called him last night to tell him. They tore off the back yesterday and replaced it with new shingles. Today the front half gets taken care of.
See my big Ben? Yesterday he got the letter jacket he earned. He's already back in the weight room, hoping to gain 25 pounds before August. It's hard for most of us to imagine wanting to gain weight. Youth.
Yesterday was long, but I made it through without any major blunders. Well, at least no one has told me about any. I wish I could tell you about all the exciting things that happened yesterday, but if I did I'd have to kill you. Oh, I think I got that last statement mixed up with this one: If I told you, you would be bored to death. Either way, death is involved.
Last night in class we talked about contentment. Tis the season to not be content! All the advertisements we will see, hear, and receive in the mail are designed to make us dissatisfied, not content, with what we have. At issue is whether a relationship with God is enough. Philippians 4:11-13 are so instructive.
The Give Thanks 4 is only 1 week from today! Yikes. I have lots to do, but I think it's all stuff that needs to be done next week. This is our 3rd time, so there is tension in my mind between confidence, complacency, experience, and forgetfulness. The weather is looking really nice for the run.
Today is going to be a little unusual for a Thursday, but it's all going to be good. Thanks for coming by.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Confession vs. Concealment

You’ve probably heard comments and jokes about Patraeus rhyming with "Betray us." I’m not here to talk about the General’s problem but rather the general problem of covering up sin.

The first thing Adam and Eve did, after sinning, was to cover up and hide, and we have been doing it ever since.

The problem is that sin has a way of calling attention to itself and exposing us in the process.

Along time ago, the people of God were warned, ". . . Be sure that your sin will find you out." Exposure. Embarrassment. Condemnation.

Writing young Timothy, Paul, the mentor, said, "The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them."

Either way, your sins will be discovered.

What are we to do? We all have sin. Honest confession and transparency are the best way to go. It’s quite liberating and leads to healing of all kinds.

James, the brother of Jesus, says, " . . . Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed."

Confess to trusted others. Do not conceal. Ultimately confess to a loving, forgiving God, receiving peace and joy.

Proverbs 28:13 — He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Wednesday a.m.

Good morning Long Day! I guess I wanted to extend it by waking up at 4 instead of 5 this morning. I possibly could be quite entertaining in my class this evening. I will prohibit recording devices of all kinds. And since I will not likely remember anything I say, I can then deny it. Right?

Today our house is getting a new roof. Wow, new roofs are not cheap. Oh well, we really need one, so you do what you have to do. It really needed replacing 2-3 years ago. Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Happy Anniversary, Happy Mothers Day, Happy Fathers Day, Happy Valentines Day, Happy Roof Day. For the next 3 years.

Yesterday was such a beautiful day. Yes, it was a little cool but very nice. It was a good day to be alive, out and about, and I was all three yesterday. Just doing what I do. I ended the day on a run, as the sun set. Five miles with good people.

Today is a busy one. I have a couple of meetings this morning, and then I need to see some people in various places. I have to go to the doctor for my dreaded CDL physical. Can you say, "turn your head and cough."

We heard from Rebecca overnight. She will be home 4 weeks from yesterday. She has moved to a different family, which was  a part of the plan. She is working in a kindergarten as an intern to finish her experience. I think she is about an hour away from where she was. She will have very limited contact with other English speakers now, which should really help solidify her Spanish thinking/speaking.

Alight. Time to keep this train moving down the track. Thanks for stopping by today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Asleep in the Storm

Decades ago, farmers came to the country fair to find hired hands for the next year. One farmer spotted a strong boy and asked, "What can you do?"

The boy answered answer in an unusual way, "I can sleep when the wind blows."

The farmer didn’t really like the answer and started to walk away, but he turned back and said, "What did you say?"

"I can sleep when the wind blows."

"Well," said the farmer, "I don’t know what that means, but I’m going to hire you anyway."

Winter came, followed by spring, and the new hired hand was steady and simply did his job. Nothing remarkable. One night a strong wind blew, and it created deep concern for the farmer. He got out of bed and hurried to the barn, thinking he would help the hired hand prepare for the storm.

When he got to the barn, he was surprised to see the hired hand’s sleeping quarters dark and quiet. The farmer was disappointed that the boy was asleep, but he quickly noticed that all the animals were in the barn, the doors and windows were prepared, as were the gates.

The hired hand had anticipated the storm and prepared for it. Then the farmer remembered this young man’s unusual words.

"I can sleep when the wind blows."

Tuesday a.m.

This cartoon brought to you by yesterday's brief burst of snow.
Good morning again! Did you see the snow yesterday? It was just for a short time, but it sure was beautiful, at least to me and other snow lovers. The snow stopped and then the sun came out. It was a nice way to end the day.

Yesterday was a day full of activity. Basically the same stuff that I live and I do most days. I go to the ReGeneration Store just about everyday to check in and see what's going on. Penny always asks, "What you are up to today?" She knows I will answer in the same way every time, "Oh, just out doing what I do." We always laugh at the exchange. I like to think about my life and ministry, in some ways, being based on this interesting statement in Acts 10, used to describe Jesus.

He went about doing good.

Everyone is different, and there is no monolithic way of serving God. It does always involve, however, serving people. I had several interesting connections in that regard yesterday. Stories of pain and struggle were placed in front of me needing a response. I thankful that I don't have to do this alone, and I am thankful that I can be a part. A homeless guy, who has mental problems, slept in a different place than his car last night. I had very little to do with that, but I was slightly involved. It was neat to see a very diverse and interesting group of people (some surprising) come together to fix this situation.

Another lady presented herself tearfully to our wonderful food pantry workers. A group surrounded her with compassion and love. She needed help. Mostly she needed some loving support. We were able to provide a little. Hopefully she will take the offer for lots more.

Last night I went to run with some of my friends. Let's see, who was there? Jim, Bill, Tim, Tim, Wendy, Kathy, Robin, Ryan, Dan, and young Rowan. (I hope I didn't forget anyone.) It's a family of some kind. It's so much easier to run into a cold, biting wind, when you are with others.

Today it all starts again, and I am thankful for that. One of my favorite things of the day is waking up. No kidding! I like to wake up. I wake up pretty alert. I make my way to the kitchen where my coffee is waiting for me. There is something about holding that hot cup of Honduran coffee each morning that gives me a great deal of joy.

This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Crouching Sin

It’s one of those sentences that really grabs my attention. It paints quite a picture.

Cain and Abel came to worship the Lord. Abel did it right, because he gave his best. Cain did not give his best and was criticized for it. This made Cain angry, angry enough to kill his brother.

Before Cain commits the murder, the Lord warns him with these words (in Genesis 4):

"If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

It’s that last part that grabs me: "Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you master it."

Wow, that’s worth thinking about! It was true then, and it’s true today. We need to be alert, careful, and aware that we have an enemy that is hell-bent on our destruction.

Be careful how you live this week.

If you belong to God, then you know you can overcome the challenges, trials, and temptations that will be yours. Master them by the power of the Master!

Monday a.m.

Hey good morning on this rainy Monday! I like the rain, so I'm good. The cold air that is arriving shortly won't be enjoyed as much by me, but it's that time of the year. It's all OK. I am going to run in Bedford this evening. The power of the group will keep me on track. I'm sitting on 1288.24 miles for the year. It's tempting to go for 1500, but I think it is probably not wise. I'll just keep running and see how it goes. It's going to be a decent year, especially when I have more than 2200 miles on the bike.

We had a nice run Saturday morning, and we had a good conversation about some the plans for next year. It looks like the tri in Terre Haute in May is going to be my main focus for a little while. Then I will next look at the half Ironman in Muncie in early July, like the day before I go to Honduras, which would be great timing. The key is going to be success in the pool this winter.

Saturday was busy, busy! The ReGen Store moved into our gym for the day. We sold north of 2700 dollars worth of stuff. While that was being sold, our Honduras team was busy selling food. We ended with a few hundred dollars also. We sold out of Holy Smokes Barbecue. It was good day. I was nearly exhausted at the end of it, but it was a good feeling. Yesterday was also exhausting, but Sunday's usually are for me. Yes, I know, I only work one day a week. So funny.

I'm reading the through the Bible this year, and I am in the home stretch now. Familiar territory! To keep things fresh, I am reading The Message, a paraphrase by a great theologian/thinker, Eugene Peterson. This morning I was reading in 1 Corinthians 4 and found the following. It struck me, and I'll tell you why, after you read it.

Don’t imagine us leaders to be something we aren’t. We are servants of Christ, not his masters. We are guides into God’s most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them. The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge. It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion. I don’t even rank myself. Comparisons in these matters are pointless. I’m not aware of anything that would disqualify me from being a good guide for you, but that doesn’t mean much. The Master makes that judgment.

There are lots of reasons why this resonates with me, but recently someone told me that they had a concept of people who do what I do as being really different and unlike other, "normal" people. She grew up Catholic. She meant it as a compliment, and I took it that way, when she said something like this, "I can see that you are just a normal person." Indeed. Frustratingly so (ha ha). I think I do have "reliable and accurate knowledge" most of the time. I find it hard, like everyone else, to practice fully what I know.

OK, enough for today! Got lots to do. Thanks for dropping by.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Head Hog

The church secretary answered the phone and then heard a very countryfied voice on the other end saying, "I want to talk to the head hog at the trough!"

Puzzled, the secretary said, "Excuse me sir?"

"I said I want to talk to the head hog at the trough!"

She then realized what the man wanted. He wanted to talk to the pastor. Somewhat indignant she said, "Sir if you want to talk to our pastor, you will have to address him properly. You should call him Pastor, or Reverend, or Brother, but you certainly cannot refer to him as the Head Hog at the Trough!"

The man on the other end said in a country drawl, "Oh, I just wanted to donate $10,000 to the church."

The secretary promptly replied with friendly enthusiasm, "Can you hold please, I think the big pig just walked through the door!"

I find that funny! It also reminds me of these words from James 2.

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.

Have a great weekend, and go to church for Heaven’s sake!

Friday a.m.

Hello Friday! What lovely weather you are going to provide today! Good morning, and how are you? I hope your week has been all you hoped it would be, whatever that means.

This week promised to be a busy one for me, and it kept its promise. Things have gone fairly well. I smoked 8 pork shoulders yesterday, while working on my Sunday stuff and a few other things as well. I think we have the Give Thanks 4 race humming along pretty well also.

Today I am going to try take it a little easier. I hope to get a few things done in preparation for Sunday and for tomorrow. I also hope to run and ride today. I have not been on my bike in about 10 weeks. I stopped riding in order to focus on running the Monumental marathon. Now it's time to get balanced again. I plan to ride outside; not far. I hope to also set up my old bike on the trainer so I can ride each week, regardless of the weather.

Tomorrow is going to be busy wall to wall. I'll get up early to begin preparation for our Honduras food sale. Once that's under control, I will go for a run. Then it will be back to sell food while our ReGeneration Store Christmas decoration sale is going on. The sale ends at 4, and there will be lots of clean up at that point. Then I need to go to the funeral home in Bloomington after that.

Enjoy this beautiful weather!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

A Good Prayer

John Baillie, a Scottish theologian who died in 1960, wrote a devotional book entitled, "A Diary of Private Prayer." Here is a prayer that seems very appropriate for this week.

Teach me, O God, so to use all the circumstances of my life today that they may bring forth in me the fruits of holiness rather than the fruits of sin.

Let me use disappointment as material for patience;

Let me use success as material for thankfulness;

Let me use suspense as material for perseverance;

Let me use danger as material for courage;

Let me use reproach as material for longsuffering;

Let me use praise as material for humility;

Let me use pleasures as material for temperance;

Let me use pains as material for endurance.


Thursday a.m.

Hey, you are special! Do you know why? Well, because my blogger dashboard tells me this is post number--wait for it--number 1234. See how special that is? OK, well, never mind then. Hey, I'm looking for any way I can find to make this fresh, exciting, stimulating, you know, just like me and my personality. Never mind. Wow, a 2 hour delay from the schools. Freezing fog. Oh well, I have 2 very happy housemates. It really doesn't matter that much to me (about the delay).
Today's photo? A stalker was spying on Greg M. and me the other day. We had finished our lunch at The Hub. We had just met to figure out how to take over the world, beginning in Mitchell. I can't say much about it, but Albert C. and others from the funeral home were there. I have said for a long time that I think Albert is Batman. Just go look at the top of the funeral home. It's a rather large Batman helmet. AND what color of car does he always drive? Enough of that.
Today I am going to be smoking all day long. And, no, this has nothing to do whatsoever with what happened in Colorado on election day. I am smoking meat. And yes it is hard to light -- ha ha, good one. I'm smoking 8 pork shoulders for Saturday. We, the Honduras mission group, are going to sell food during the ReGen Christmas decoration sale.
Saturday marks my playful launch of Holy Smokes Barbecue. I came up with this name quite some time ago. Saturday I go public as the Holy Smoker. Maybe I can move on to a career as a smoker? Always trying to figure out something I can do. Seriously, we have talked a little bit about providing meat for special occasions as a mission fund raiser. Well see. I do need another thing to do, you know.
We had a good class last night. We unpacked the election some. It's disappointing to see so many Christian behaving badly about the election. I under the disappointment, but, hey, we've got something a lot deeper and better going on with the Kingdom of God. Let me be clear: no one in my class has been misbehaving! It was a good discussion.
OK, got a lot going on with this smoking thing, so I better get focused. Thanks for dropping by this morning.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Gentle Answer

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath,

but a harsh word stirs up anger.

These words are true. We know they are, don’t we?

I’ve proven/experienced the second line a lot over the years, and I am working on making the first line my practice. Lord, help me.

Wednesday a.m.

I don't know why. I just thought it was kinda funny, and I'm sure some of you are in the depths of depression over the election. Take a deep breath and smile. We're still alive. I often use this line to gain perspective in situations that are less than desirable. Nobody's hurt and nobody's dead. I figure the sun will come up, here in about an hour or so. My wife and children are alive and love me (inexplicable at times). God is in control, and that's what really matters. "It is well with my soul." There's work to do, so keep moving on.
Last night I went for my first run after the Monumental Marathon. It was easy and fine, and it was fun because I was running with good friends. I will confess this about my marathon. I don't like what I did really. I didn't run it hard enough. I've recovered too quickly, and it was too easy. I'm not going to be too hard on myself, however, because I knew what I was doing. In retrospect, I think if you are going to run that distance (26.2 miles), you should probably really make it mean something. I know what I'm thinking about Ironman, but. . . The good thing is that I have a desire to run and run hard again.
After the run and a quick bite to eat, we went to watch the Mitchell high school girl's basketball game. My nephew, Matt Sowders, is the new varsity coach, and we have several girls from church on the team. Man, it was a rough game! One girl is now living with a concussion. I don't I could have survived it physically. The officials really let it get out of control. Mitchell got the win, and it was certainly entertaining.
Yesterday was a beautiful day, and I got a lot done. Today? Lots of opportunities. I think I will get started now. Thanks for dropping by. Remember, it's all going to be OK.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Blessings in Disguise

I heard it again the other day – a beautiful and powerful song that arrests my attention, grabs my heart, and speaks to me every single time.

It’s "Blessings" by Laura Story. Here are a few of the words:

What if my greatest disappointments

Or the aching of this life

Is the revealing of a greater

thirst this world can’t satisfy

And what if trials of this life

The rain, the storms, the hardest nights

Are Your mercies in disguise?

Then the beautiful chorus:

. . .What if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears

What if a thousand sleepless nights

Are what it takes to know You’re near

What if trials of this life are

Your mercies in disguise?

Story echoes and points me to these life-changing words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12.

He (the Lord) said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Thanks, Paul and Laura, I needed that.

Tuesday a.m.

Lester progressing through the art museum
Good morning Tuesday! Is today election day? (ha ha) I'm running ahead of schedule this morning so Kedra and I can go vote and then eat breakfast before she goes off to school. I think there will be a heavy turnout today. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens. I can easily get sucked into all the political concerns and worries, but in the end I temper it will Paul's corrective to the proud citizens of Philippi. They were proud of their Roman ties. Paul reminded them, "Our citizenship is in Heaven." Regardless of what happens today, that fact remains. I have friends who are Rs and friends who are Ds. I'll still be friends with them tomorrow.
Tonight I am going to resume running. Some of us are gathering at Parkview at 5.15 to get going again. I hope we have several so we can swap marathon stories. Jim will be there, back from New York. They cancelled the New York City marathon after everyone arrived to run it. So Jim decided to volunteer. He, his wife, friend Steve and his wife, served people for 2-3 days. I look forward to hearing more about it.
For fear of leaving people out, I won't mention names, but there were a bunch of people from Lawrence county and from our running group that ran Monumental races on Saturday. I think everyone did really well. The weather, even with a little rain and sleet mixed in, provided good running conditions.
Yesterday allowed me to get a good jump on this busy week. Part of the busyness is Saturday. The ReGeneration Store is moving up to our gym for a Christmas decoration sale. Our Honduras team is going to sell food. I am going to smoke a case of pork shoulders, which is a lot. I am going to have considerable time wrapped up in the purchase, preparation, and the serving of it. But I am really looking forward to it.
The Give Thanks 4 run is the other thing that has my attention this week. It had my attention in the middle of the night recently. I think it's all under control, but I still think about it a lot. There are a lot of things to do, but I have good help. We are having a new T-shirt design this year. I think everyone is really going to like it. 
Alrighty then... time to get going.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Prayer for the Week

Here is it again. Monday. I hope you are ready for all the opportunities that will unfold before you this week. Are you ready?

As we launch into this week, I invite you to join me in saying this prayer, prayed a long time ago by David, recorded in Psalm 139:23,24.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.

It’s a great prayer for the week, don’t you think?

Monday a.m.

Lester finishing the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
Hey, good morning! Monday. Again. They just keep coming don't they? I hope you had a good weekend. I had a Monumental weekend. I'll spare you a lot of details, since it was a fairly uneventful marathon for me. I was simply doing it, and really had no major goals beyond finishing, not walking any of it, and feeling decent throughout the whole thing. All those goals were accomplished.

I'm really proud of Lester. Monumental was his second marathon, and he cruised into finish at 3:20:39. He was pleased and should be. He is now in a position to add a few more miles, introduce more intentional speed work, and go for a sub 3 hour run. I'm confident he can do that, although it will not be easy.

If you read this blog on a regular basis, then you know that I was not very excited about running this marathon. In fact, I will confess that I was dreading it. I wasn't trying to qualify for Boston, so I didn't really have any "big thing" I was trying to do. It's really all a part of my goal to do an Ironman, which is 2 years from last Saturday. I simply want to stay in touch with the marathon distance.

I was satisfied with what I did on Saturday. I view it more as a long training run. I felt better at the end of this marathon than any of the others I've run. If want to see the details, then you can go here. You'll see that I ran pretty consistently through 20 miles. Then I had to take a rare, for me, "over hydrated" break, which made mile 21 slow. After that, I lost touch with the pace group I was running with, and you can see what happened.

I just kinda cruised, drifted on in to finish. I was tired and avoided any cramping by taking it easy. I finished upright and required no medical attention. I felt really good actually, not like a usually do after an endurance event.

Following the run, Lester and Maddie and Kedra and I went to PF Chang's in the Circle Center mall to reload. It tasted so good. Their Mongolian Beef is amazing. We made our way home after that, and I enjoyed the extra hour of sleep.

This weekend was enhanced by Rebecca calling and talking to Kedra. Unfortunately I was not around when she called. She is doing well and will be home in 5 weeks from tomorrow. That's hard to believe but very exciting. Luke topped off the weekend by calling last night. He is doing really well. He loves his job, and they are treating him very well. He also told us that he is leading an engineering team back to Guatemala in the spring to look at building another bridge.

This week woke me in the middle of the night. I'm pushing myself to the red line again. It's temporary stuff, so I just have to hang on for a couple of weeks. I better get after it.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Drive Safely

Three big burly fellows on huge motorcycles pulled up to a highway diner where a truck driver, just a little guy, was perched on a stool quietly eating his lunch.

As the three fellows came in, they were feeling in the mood for a fight. They spotted the small framed trucker, grabbed his food away from him, and laughed in his face.

The truck driver said nothing. He got up, paid for his food and walked out.

One of the three cyclists, unhappy that they hadn’t succeeded in provoking the little guy into a fight, commented to the waitress, "Boy, he sure wasn’t much of a man, was he?" The waitress replied, "Well, I guess not."

Then, looking out the window, she added, "I guess he’s not much of a truck driver, either."

"Why do you say that?"

"Well, he just ran over three motorcycles as he left."

Drive safely this weekend and go to church for Heaven’s sake!

Friday a.m.

Good morning! My friend Jimmy was all registered and ready to run the New York City Marathon, but then Sandy came along and flooded him and everyone else with doubts. Then the Mayor of New York suprisingly said, "It's on!" Jimmy still couldn't decide, unsure whether he could even get there. He thought about a triathlon in the Cayman, which would have been slightly cheaper, but in the end he ended up in New York. And if you know Jimmy, then you are not at all surprised by this picture. It will be interesting to see who else he runs into and runs with on Sunday and before. Something tells me that Steven Tyler is not running the marathon.
I had a good day with Pat yesterday. His treatment seemed to go well, and I got a lot done while they were working with him. It was a good day. I got back in time to be interviewed by an accrediting agency for our school. That was an interesting and pleasant experience. It was a group interview with other folks from town, so it was a pleasant surprise to see some good people I know.
Lester and Maddie came over for dinner last night. Lester and I talked about tomorrow's marathon. He's hoping to run around 3:15, and I am hoping to run (ha ha). The weather is going to be good for marathon running. Most of the run will be in the mid to upper 30s. Some like it a little warmer, but I find those temps to be very good.
I have several things to do this morning, and I hope to relax a little this afternoon. After Kedra gets home from school, we will take off for Indy. We have a hotel just a couple of blocks from the start line. That will be really nice.
Have a great Friday and a great weekend!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

What's your Focus?

I read a couple of things the other day that I want to place together. Here’s the first one.

I am not what I ought to be,
Not what I want to be,
Not what I am going to be,
But I am thankful that
I am better than I used to be.

And now for the second:

"How much more pleasant this world would be if we magnified our blessings the way we magnify our disappointments."

I think they are related, and they are related to, and reflect, this wonderful thought in 2 Corinthians 4.

. . .We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Thursday a.m.

Good morning! Well, as you can see, I went to the costume run last night. It was fun and gave us all an opportunity to laugh by being goofy (more than usual). My favorite two costumes were Jimmy as a doping Lance Armstrong and Ryan as a Mormon. Little Rowan, cute as can be, was Peter Pan. He likes to get out of the baby jogger at the end our runs, while we walk to cool down, and run a little himself. He's precious.

Last night was the last run before Monumental. I have 2 days to get my head and my heart focused on a marathon. The weather is going to be good for it. Most of the run will be around 40 degrees, cooler at the start and warmer at the finish.

Today I take one of the best guys I know to Louisville. Pat is involved in an experimental drug program to help stop the deterioration of his lungs. He'll get a treatment, and while he does, they will poke and prod him like a guinea pig. I look forward to spending time with him and supporting him today.

Rebecca will be home 6 weeks from yesterday. I corresponded with her yesterday, via Facebook messages, a couple of times. She is doing really well. I also had another correspondence with Central America yesterday. Marc Tindall called and chatted for a little while. It was Wednesday, which is the day he feeds people at the Tegucigalpa dump. I mentioned that, and he told me he was just arriving. It was neat to imagine being there. I told him I could almost smell it. We are planning a trip in February if anyone wants to go.

Speaking of going, I need to get going...