Monday, December 24, 2012

Santa Hat Run

After the run with Santa Jimmy
I have no idea how many of you will check in over the next few days. I also have no idea how many times I will post, so I guess that provides some sort of balance?

This morning was the annual Santa Hat Run. I would guess that more than 50 people showed up to run or walk. Each person could donate $10 to be eligible for prize drawings at the end. This raised $600+ for Lawrence County Cancer Patient Services.

I actually won 2 things! All the men present who ran Boston this year were in a special drawing for a Boston 2012 jacket, and, lucky me, I won one! I love it. I also won a 7 day pass to Anytime Fitness. This is good, because right now for me it is "eat all the time to fatness." Drastic changes ahead.

Well, here is the scoreboard:

So far in 2012: 1473.34 miles
Need for 1500: 26.66
Days left: 7
Ave per day: 3.808571428571429

That last part was Garmin sarcasm. You see, some of my running friends mock the ole Garmin. I'll save that conversation for another day. ha ha


Friday, December 21, 2012

He Came to Us

The teacher asked a young boy, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"I want to be possible," he answered.

"Possible? Of all things, why do you want that?"

The boy replied, "Because my mom and dad are always saying that I’m impossible."

* * *

We are impossible and so is eternal life, if left up to us. But God makes the impossible, possible by coming to us.

One of the Christmas themes is, "Emmanuel: God with us."

God came to us!

He came to the ugly and the undesirable.

He came to the imperfect and the impossible.

He came to the shepherds and to the sinners.

He came to you and to me.

And He loves you as you are.

He loves us with all our faults.
He loves us with all our failures.

It doesn’t matter if you are old and ugly or young and pretty.

It doesn’t matter if you are fat or skinny.

It doesn’t matter if you are smart or dumb.

It doesn’t matter if you are sinful and have "quite a past."

He loves you. He loves us.

He proved how much He loves us by coming to us. He came as a baby and grew and developed.

God loves you as you are but wants you to grow and develop in his love, becoming like him. That’s something to think about.

Merry Christmas!

Friday a.m.

Well, well, well, the little snow surprise called school off. That's a little unfortunate, since final exams were to take place today. Oh well, this happened 2-3 years ago. It will make for a nice day at home, and Luke is here already! It was not quite a Folger's Christmas commercial--you know, where the boy sneaks in on Christmas morning as the snow gently falls and brews coffee while his parents are sleeping--but he did surprise us. I picked Kedra up for lunch yesterday, and when we arrived at our destination, Luke was there waiting for us. Very nice surprise.
This "snow day" just enhances and hastens the most unproductive week of the year, the one between Christmas and New Years. I like it. It's a time to slow down, relax, and have some fun. Looks like we get to start just a tad early this year.
This weather is going to make running a bit more challenging. And I'm wondering if there will be an organized run today? I might participate if I hear about one, but I might take the day off. I have options at this point. I do think I am getting a cold, but I can train through it. I will probably run 10 miles tomorrow. It will be a cold run. Hey, I did not intend that pun, but I like it.
Here's the scoreboard on the rather meaningless goal of reaching 1500 running miles this year:
Miles run so far:1456.34
Needed to reach 1500: 43.66
Days left to run: 10
Need to ave. per day: 4.366 (that was an easy calculation, wasn't it?)
OK, I am going to try knock out some things before everybody gets up. We should have a nice day of catching up with each other.
Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


We’ve nearly always burned an Advent candle.


It’s a way of building excitement through anticipation, focusing on an event, a specific day of great joy! It teaches about waiting and measuring it.

We wanted our children to enjoy it all. Wait. Anticipate. Celebrate!

I love Simeon in Luke 2. He’s old and a man of deep, abiding (waiting) faith.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

His waiting is measured in daily faithfulness in the small things. He’s been waiting all his life for God to free his people from oppression.

Finally, the wait is over! He sees the 40-day-old Christ child, holds him, and praises the Lord. He says this, which seems like a peaceful death wish:

You now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation. . .

Simeon believes the promises of God are beginning at this tine, in this helpless little baby.

Just knowing the process of deliverance is beginning is enough.

He trusts God, believing the deliverance will unfold and be fully realized as this baby grows into a man.

It is enough to know that everything is in place and will unfold!

Simeon did not see, nor did he need to see, the fulfillment of all things. He finds peace in knowing that it is beginning. It is enough. His wait is over.

I have lots to learn from old Simeon.

Thursday a.m.

Charles Siburt
Good morning! It’s raining really hard here right now, so I have lost internet service. We have the internet via satellite. When it rains hard we lose service, but it usually is not out too long. We lose TV for the same reason, which is not good during storms. We can, however, switch over to an old antennae and get some coverage out of Louisville. Oh, here is a picture of Charles. He was an amazing man.

Yesterday we had a board meeting for BHRP. We have an unusual year ahead of us. We have no corn to ship, due to the drought. The little yield that we had, developed a mold problem, so it is not safe to eat. We decided that we would continue working with our partners who deliver our corn to the developing world and the ones who live there and distribute it. We will send money for them to buy food locally. We will accomplish our goal, which is feeding some of the hungriest people in the world, in a different way. I like it.

After that longish meeting, I made my way to Bloomington to see someone in the hospital. Then, around lunch time, I decided to take advantage of the nice day and the nice trail system that Bloomington has to run 7 miles. Following that, I had a nice lunch with Pat A. Then it was back to Mitchell to finish up the afternoon. We had a nice family meal and then a good class at church. The day was topped off with some popcorn.

Today I hope to find a dryish window into which to run. Wish me luck. The radar does not look too promising. I hope I can find something early this morning, since the conditions will deteriorate all day long. I have several others things on the list today as well: meetings, visits, reading. All good.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

25 Questions for Mary

From Max Lucado’s, "God Came Near."

1. What was it like watching him pray?

2. How did he respond when he saw other kids giggling during the service at the synagogue?

3. When he saw a rainbow, did he ever mention a flood?

4. Did you ever feel awkward teaching him how he created the world?

5. When he saw a lamb being led to the slaughter, did he act differently?

6. Did you ever see him with a distant look on his face as if he were listening to someone you couldn’t hear?

7. How did he act at funerals?

8. Did the thought ever occur to you that the God to whom you were praying was asleep under your own roof?

9. Did you ever try to count the stars with him….and succeed?

10. Did he ever come home with a black eye?

11. How did he act when he got his first haircut?

12. Did he have any friend by the name of Judas?

13. Did he do well in school?

14. Did you ever scold him?

15. Did he ever have to ask a question about Scripture?

16. What do you think he thought when he saw a prostitute offering to the highest bidder the body he made?

17. Did he ever get angry when someone was dishonest with him?

18. Did you ever catch him pensively looking at the flesh on his own arm while holding a clod of dirt?

19. Did he ever wake up afraid?

20. Who was his best friend?

21. When someone referred to Satan, how did he act?

22. Did you ever accidentally call him Father?

23. What did he and his cousin John talk about as kids?

24. Did his brothers and sisters understand what was happening?

25. Did you ever think, That’s God eating my soup?

Wednesday a.m.

Good morning! How are you today? You say you are not sure yet? OK, just give it a little more time. I feel pretty good this morning. I've sleep really well the last 2-3 nights, which is such a nice thing. I'm trying not to be the usual, "you don't appreciate a good thing until you don't have it" person. I usually am, but I'm trying to appreciate a good night's sleep.
Yesterday was a good day. I did a fair amount of reading. I told you sometime ago about writing a chapter in a book in honor of Charles Siburt. I did my final edit of that yesterday after receiving back an edited version. It will go through 2-3 more edits on their end, if I understand it right. The plan is to have it published and available for a ceremony during the Christian Scholars Conference in June. Few of you knew Charles, but he was an amazing man.
I had a pretty strong suspicion that this would get edited out of my chapter, and it did, due to the nature of the book:
I will miss his deep voice and the important words that he said to me (and to many others, I am confident), "I’m proud of you!" That voice and those words, I hope, are a hint of the voice of God that we all hope to hear at the end of our journey.

Charles was quite a man, and he forever changed my life. I am thankful.

Today I have a meeting in the thriving metropolis of Bryantsville. I'm on the board of the Bryantsville Hunger Relief Project. It has been quite a while since we met, so I think this will be a long meeting. We had a disastrous year, as far as our crop is concerned, so we will have very little, if any, corn to ship. The drought was especially hard on the kind of corn we grow, corn designed for human consumption.

Following this meeting, I will head to Bloomington to see some people. Then back to Mitchell for a thing or two. All this will be followed by my class at 7. Yes, it looks like a full day.

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Don't Miss the Point

In December 1903, after many attempts, the Wright brothers were successful in getting their "flying machine" off the ground. Thrilled, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine:

"We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas."

Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, "How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas."

He totally missed the big news – man had flown!

We don’t want to miss the point at this time of the year. The point is not really about a specific day, nor even a season. The point is that God came to us.

John 1 presents some intriguing things to consider, and it also makes a practical point. The Message says this about the Word, which is Jesus.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.

God moved into our world in a very real way to sympathize and to show us how to truly love, live, die, and live again. Please don’t miss the point.

Tuesday a.m.

Good morning! Looks like we only have a few days left, so you should make the most of it. I think I'll just keep plugging away, trying to do some good here and there.

The mild weather just keeps coming. It's starting to feel like last winter. All those long range forecasts of really cold air seem to keep getting adjusted as we get closer to the predicted days. I really like snow, so I keep hoping and looking. So far, it's not looking too promising.

Yesterday was a good day. I got a lot done and spent some good time with Pat A. I finished the day with a run in the dark with some great friends. Here's the scoreboard:

Miles run in 2012: 1439.89. 
Needed to get 1500: 60.11.  
Days left to do it: 13.
Needed per day: 4.623.
How important? Not very

I hope to rack up a few more miles later today and just keep plugging away. I think I will make it. Obviously, I am looking at 30 mile weeks for the next (less than) 2 weeks. This is what I've been doing for the last several, so barring injury or crazy weather, then I should make it. I hope to get some more bike miles as well before the year is over. I have around 2250 on the bike. Next year I would like to see that around 3000, but I will save that discussion for later.

Today I have quite a bit of reading to do. Some of it is study for Sunday and beyond and part of it is a writing project I'm involved in. I also need to see some people and do some things. Should be a good day.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Slaughter of Innocents

This should have been a fun week, anticipating Christmas, but reality reared its ugly head. Evil showed itself in a most shocking way.

The slaughter of innocents in a school room reminds us of our badly broken world, and now innumerable people are experiencing unimaginable grief. Unimaginable!

It’s interesting that the original Christmas story also contains a slaughter of innocents. Herod, so insecure and evil, orders that all baby boys in the Bethlehem area be killed. Why?

Because of one of them someday could challenge his position as King of the Jews. His evil action produces some of the most sobering words in Scripture (Matthew 2:18).

"A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more."

It’s into this kind of world and this kind of grief that Jesus is born. He came to begin a loving process of redeeming it all, leading us toward something where this stuff will not exist.

In the meantime, as we follow him, we work to make things better through his ways, while we hang onto to his words (John 16:33).

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Because of the Resurrection of Jesus and his promise that we too will rise again, I expect to see all those innocent ones, for I am sure they are in the presence of God.

That’s where I want to be. Sooner rather than later. Maranatha!

Monday a.m.

Roy's new ride - a Kestrel!
Good morning! Monday! I guess some think this will be the last Monday? Fine with me. I guess this week will be filled with all kinds of jokes for some and all kinds of anxiety for others.  Whatever. I think I'll just keep doing what I do and not worry about much of anything.

How was your weekend? I had a pretty good one for me. Most people would not be too excited about it, but, hey, I liked it. Friday I finished up my work for the week by midday. I had lunch with a new friend, and then it was off to the Park to prepare for a bike ride. I was a little surprised that the Park was charging an entrance fee. I fumbled around and found my pass.

It was sunny and not too cool for Friday's afternoon ride. I rode a little more than 15 miles and really enjoyed it. After the ride I came home and didn't really do too much but read, I think. Saturday's activities started with a 12 mile run. I ran 2 and then joined the group of 10 mile runners. It was a nice steady run. We got a little wet but not too bad.

Following the run, some of us had a nice relaxed breakfast, which was really good. I knew no one was at my house, so I took my time. Kedra and some girls went to Indy to see the Nutcracker, and Ben was filming a girl's basketball game. I came home and took the trash off and then focused on this book about Bonhoeffer. I am really enjoying it. It is north of 500 pages. I don't usually like books that long. I get tired of them but not this one. I'm 400 pages in and am still turning the pages as fast as I can.

Sunday started in the usual way, and then after lunch, Bill, Roy, and I rode. The weather was not quite what was promised, but it was warm enough. We had a pleasant, easy 21 mile ride, which was a trip to Orleans and back, via Amish country. Roy has a new bike, and it is pretty sweet. Speaking of sweets, man, I am going to remove them from my consumption in January. In the meantime, I am eating enough to last the whole year. Oink, oink. Out of control!

OK, here we go!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Keep it Simple

One of my favorite Christmas carols is Silent Night.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Evidently it was a favorite of a young girl also, and after hearing it one day, she decided to draw a picture of the Nativity. The picture was very good! It included Mary, Joseph and, of course, baby Jesus. She drew a few animals, and she placed the shepherds and the wise men in the scene as well.

As the teacher was admiring and encouraging, she noticed a rather rotund man off to the side. The teacher asked, "Who is that man?"

The little girl explained, "Oh, that's round John Virgin."

OK, sorry about that! It is funny, though, that we often mishear and misunderstand things in humorous ways.

Not so funny, however, is to miss the point of God’s intention, and I am certain that he did not intend his entrance into the world to be celebrated as a time of greed and great debt.

Keep it simple and stress free and think about what it’s really all about.

Friday a.m.

Good morning and happy Friday to you! What do you have in mind today? And what are your plans for the weekend? It looks like today is going to be nice, really nice. I have my bike positioned in my basement so that I walked by it when I go to my office. I thought this morning I heard it calling me to go for a ride this afternoon. I am determined to do more cool weather riding this winter. IronBill inspires me. He's going to ride outside some this winter. I need to change my wheels and organize my cold weather gear to make it all happen. Hmmm, we'll see.
Yesterday was a very good, productive day. I got a lot of my Sunday prep finished, and I ended up seeing several people. One guy I see in the nursing home has really declined in the last 2-3 weeks. I'm concerned about what's going on with him.
Late afternoon I was able to meet up with Tim S, IronBill, Tim the Elder, and Bart for a nice 5 mile run and fun conversation. I had 5 miles on my own, so class, how many miles did I run yesterday? What's that? You hate story problems? OK, I ran 10 miles.
Run in 2012: 1423.19   Needed to reach 1500: 76.81   Days left: 17   Need to ave per day: 4.5
I plan to do 10-12 in the morning, so I am plugging away and should make it. Again, this is not a big deal, but I know me. I need something to keep me going. I don't have any focused event close enough to motivate me right now. I'm eating my fair share of sweets presently, so the running is helping to keep me from looking like Santa.
We are enjoying Rebecca. Last night she Skyped her "little sister" in Costa Rica. It was amazing to hear her (Rebecca, not the Costa Rican girl - ha ha) speak Spanish so easily. She has formed friendships that, thanks to easy Internet communication, will likely last a lifetime. That's really nice.
I hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Deeper Trust

Can imagine being a young teen girl approached by an awesome angel, probably clothed in bright white light?

He tells you things you don’t understand: you’ll conceive while a virgin and then give birth to a boy named Jesus who will be the Son of God and the Messiah. The angel sums up his presentation to a puzzled Mary by saying, "Nothing is impossible with God."

Mary’s ultimate response (Luke 1:38)? "I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said."

I wonder how many times, when challenged, she remembered that divine encounter? I wonder how many times she had to repeat her humble response back to herself?

Recently I read an article about a well-known preacher (John Piper). In it he says this.

"Don't question in the dark what God showed you in the light. Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don't. You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope."

I’m pretty sure Mary would "amen" that, because she probably had to practice it. A lot.

God, that’s what I want for Christmas. Please give me the gift of a deeper trust.

Thursday a.m.

Ready to load 41 1000 pounds bales + shoes, belts, purses
Hey good morning! You ready for a Thursday? I am. I'm going to really get after it today and see what happens. It's so nice to wake up, knowing my little girl is asleep in her room. Also, she brought home some nice Costa Rican coffee. It's good!

I stayed around the house quite a bit yesterday because of Rebecca. She had lots of people come by to see her, so I spent a lot of time in my office getting some good things done. I did leave the house long enough to go help load a semi with bales of clothes. Our pro forklift driver was unavailable, because the truck showed up earlier than we thought. Warren did the driving, and I did the assisting, moving our stacking boards around. It all went well and will result in lots of ministry dollars. Blessed.

We had a very interesting class last night as we imagined the life of Joseph. We don't really know what happens to him. We see a little bit around the birth of Christ and another glimpse when Jesus is 12. That's it. He disappears from the story. Our discussion then led us into thinking about the childhood of Jesus. There is so much we do not know.

Later on today I hope to get a 10 miler in. I hope to run 5 of those with Tim S. I am hoping for 10 today and another 10-12 on Saturday. I know the 1500 goal is just a number and really doesn't mean that much, but, hey, it's there. I've had several years where I've run farther than that, so it's not about that kind of goal.

OK, I have lots to do today: sermon, slides, bulletin insert, life group discussion guide, see several people, pay for the new furnace we put in, and whatever else could happen. I think I better get going. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Plans Changed

Little ditty about Joe and Mary
Two peasant kids growing up in Galilee

Joseph and Mary, probably peasant teens, talked about the predictable path their lives would take. He would be a carpenter, bringing home enough to provide food, clothing and shelter. Mary would take care of those three, along with a houseful of children.

That’s what they knew and hoped for, but God had a different plan. Wow! God intervened and invited them into his story in a most amazing way, and, frankly, it wasn’t easy, to say the least.

Mary, undoubtedly, was ridiculed. "Yeah right Mary! Pregnant and a virgin. Sure!" Joseph didn’t believe her either. Another angel, another "don’t be afraid," persuaded him to hang around.

It probably wasn’t until after the resurrection, 30 something years later, that Mary understood God’s plan. Joseph disappears early in the story, so we don’t know about him.

I was thinking about this in the context of the challenging changes that we face at times. We don’t always know what God is calling us to, do we? All we can do is trust, obey, and know this:

"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared
for those who love him"

(1 Corinthians 2:9)

Sometimes it takes awhile before we realize the plan of God, so keep trusting through (the pain of) plans changed. It’s going to OK+!

Wednesday a.m.

She made it back home! It's so good to have Rebecca back. She is pictured here holding her "welcome home" material. It was a very sweet moment to see her again. She's still in bed, so I'm squeezing in a few things before she gets up. We'll have until the first of the year to catch up, before she returns to Lipscomb. It's going to be a great December. Luke will be home for a week+ around Christmas, so I think life is going to be grand with all my children around for a little while.
On our way to the airport, we stopped in Bloomington and ate at Bub's. It's so good! We looked at the walls of fame, which pictures all those who have conquered at least one "Big Ugly," a huge hamburger. If you eat the whole thing, then you get your photo taken. If you eat two, you get a bigger picture. We found IronBill's photo. He ate 2 a couple of years ago, and close by is a group photo of my running friends. Many of them conquered the big ugly. Skinny people eating that much: it's about competition and nothing else.
Yesterday was another good day. I saw a few people and helped them, and I had a meeting or two that I am excited about. It's hard to beat that on a Tuesday. ha ha. Today? Hanging around my little girl as much as possible. We are loading a semi with 1000 pound bales of clothes at some point. The driver calls when he gets to town. We have a professional forklift guy lined up for this afternoon. Otherwise, other times, Warren and/I will be doing that. Here's hoping for this afternoon.
OK, need to get a few things done before the Princess emerges.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Do not be afraid

There is a lot of fear in the original Christmas story. I especially notice it in the first couple of chapters of Luke’s gospel.

When an angel shows up, old Zechariah is "gripped with fear."

When the same angel shows up to Mary she is "greatly troubled." (I’m pretty sure she is afraid too.)

When the angel shows up to the shepherds, they are "terrified."

What happens to all three of them?

To Zechariah, "the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid.’" (Luke 1:13)

To Mary, "the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid.’" (Luke 1:30)

To the shepherds, "the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid.’" (Luke 2:10)

See a pattern? To him, her, and them, the same words are spoken, the same ones God wants us to hear: Do not be afraid.

An encounter with the God is a fearful thing, but he desires to quickly dispel the fear. That’s the nature of God and his Amazing Grace.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear. And grace my fears relieved.
Allowing God into your life is a bit scary. Will he love me, even when he knows everything about me? His answer? Do not be afraid. His entrance to our world makes the point loud and clear.

Tuesday a.m.

Rebecca comes home tonight!
Good morning! How are you? Me? Pretty excited that my little girl comes home today. She's been in Costa Rica for 15 weeks, which is hard to believe. The time flew by. She lands in Indy around 10.30 tonight. It's going to be hard to concentrate today.

Did you notice that it was a bit cooler yesterday? Wow, that cold wind got my attention. Ben and I helped my dad load some cattle yesterday morning, and that was not too bad. We were in the barn, out of the wind. Loading cattle is always interesting. Yesterday a cow stepped on my foot, which is a little sore this morning. Then we had an old, old cow get down and could not get up. She blocked the chute for quite a while. I'll spare you the details, but she never made it on the trailer.

After the cattle loading, it was off to seeing people and doing things. I'm really happy about one project. There is a guy who lives in an old, little trailer, and I found out a few weeks ago that his furnace does not work. As I talked to him and others, I found out that he has been heating his home for the last 2 years with his oven and an electric heater. Long story short: he is getting a new furnace on Wednesday.

I got to run with Tim S yesterday afternoon, which was cool. Literally. It was good to have a running partner on a day like yesterday. I could not make the 5.15 run, due to a MHS faculty party at Spring Mill. That party was very nice. The food was good and free, which is the best combination.

OK, today it is a matter of trying to concentrate to get some things done. Tomorrow I'm taking mostly off, although we are loading a semi with baled clothes in the afternoon.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Confusion

It that’s most wonderful time of the year! It’s also a bit confusing.

Christmas is a confusing time in lots of ways. There is a mixture of this and that from here and there, some sacred, some pagan, some good, and some bad. There are lots of things to sort through.

The confusion was really brought home to me several years ago, when I was working with Laotian refugees in Nashville, Tennessee, the boat people. One day, around Christmas, one of the older children, who was learning about Jesus and Santa at the same time, asked this. "Oh Allen, is it right that Santa Claus died on the cross for me?"

I laughed and corrected. What else could I do?

Hebrews 2 gets at one of the real reasons for the Incarnation, which is what we celebrate.

Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Savior took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death. By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.

Jesus went all the way to the womb of a peasant girl to identify with us, all of us. That’s Good News! Understood and embraced it frees us from the fear of death and ushers us into new life, eternal life.

Do you believe that?

Monday a.m.

Good morning! How are you on this fine Monday morning? It's going to be a great week, a special week for me. My little girl comes home from Costa Rica tomorrow night! It's hard to believe that 15 weeks have come and gone since she left. Don't expect anything out of me on Wednesday, by the way. Ha ha!

Do those waders make the creek look fat? This young lady, Lauren, wanted to be baptized in the creek in December. We do have a nice heated baptistery. I've actually baptized more people in that spot in the creek than I have anywhere else in the last couple of years. It is a really nice place, but it's usually in the summer when we are there. I appreciate her commitment and dedication, and it really was not that cold. The Lord blessed us with a dry window and 60+ degree temps.

I had a good weekend. Did you? Friday night we had our Capstone Ministries (ReGeneration Store) party and had a great time. We passed out some gifts and enjoyed some great food. Penny, our store manager, hosted us all. The Store has been blessed beyond our expectations, so we humbly gave thanks for all that. Our staff is amazing. They are humble servants on a mission.

Saturday I ran 11.5 miles. A few others ran 10 and some ran 7. I did a little before the group stared, and then different ones left at different points along the way. It was a really nice morning to run. I really like a very light mist around 50 degrees for running. Here's the scoreboard:

Run so far: 1404.85  Needed to reach 1500: 95.15  Days left in the year: 21  Need to average per day: 4.53. I should have this without problem, barring injury or something else unforeseen.

I talked to Luke yesterday. He's doing well. I really miss him, but he is going to be home between Christmas and New Years. It will be great to spend time with him over several days. One of his present projects at work is a water treatment system for a factory in Liberia. There is a decent chance that he will get to travel there next year. That would be awesome. I wish I could go with him. I've always wanted to go to Africa. Maybe someday.

OK, lots of stuff to do...

Friday, December 07, 2012

Who Are You?

The professor giving the English final exam was very strict and told the class that any exam not on his desk in exactly two hours would not be accepted. "Automatic F!"

A student rushed in 30 minutes late and asked the professor for an exam booklet. "You're not going to have time to finish." the professor stated sarcastically.

"Yes I will," replied the student. He took a seat and began writing.

After two hours, the professor called for the exams. All the students filed up and handed them in, except for the late-comer. A half hour later, he came up to turn in his exam.

"No! I'm not going to accept that. It's late."

The student looked incredulous and angry. "Do you know WHO I am?"

"No, as a matter of fact I don't," replied the professor.

"You mean to tell me that you don’t know who I am?" the student asked again.

"No, and I don't care!" replied the professor.

"Good," replied the student, who quickly lifted the stack of exams, stuffed his in the middle, and ran out of the room.

* * *

I hope you know who and whose you are. If you follow Jesus, then you are God’s beloved daughter or son.

Romans 8:15ff.:

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What’s next, Papa?" God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.

Friday a.m.

Hey good morning! It's a great day for Friday lovers, I suppose. Friday's fine with me, just one day closer to my only working day of the week. The pressure mounts to come up with something to say. Just kidding. Actually no pressure until about 11 am Sunday. If you know me, then you know I am not very quick on my feet, so I have to prepare in advance. Oh man, this is boring...

OK, now on to something exciting... OK, I guess I should go now. What? You want something, even if it's boring? Fine. Yesterday got away from me somewhat, which happens from time to time. I ended up not getting several things completed that I had hoped to. It just seemed like everything went slower than usual yesterday. All the meetings/appointments went long or were delayed. Oh well, there's today.

We ended our day in Vincennes. Maddie's aunt died of pancreatic cancer. She was only in her early 60s. There was a huge turnout for visitation. She was dearly loved by lots and lots of people. We got home around 9 last night.

Today I need to get everything ready for Sunday, along with several other projects. I also need to run 15 miles in some combination today and tomorrow. I'm thinking 5 today and 10 tomorrow. What do you think? Oh, you don't care? OK, I will do what I want then. This inner dialogue is getting old isn't it? Yes, it is.

Thanks for coming by. See you bright and early Monday morning.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Good News

How about some Gospel Truth? How about some Good News this morning?

What is it?

Jesus said this (John 3:16-18):

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

And this (Matthew 11:28-30):

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

The basic gospel message is that Jesus HAD to die for us, to take care of our sins, and that he was GLAD to die for us because we are so loved, valued, and treasured by God. He wants us in relationship with him and makes it possible.

Jesus shows us how to live, how to die, and how to live again, becoming like him through it all.

Yes, that’s certainly Good News, something to live by.

Do you believe it?

Thursday a.m.

Good morning! How are you on this Thursday? I'm up and ready to get going and have been for quite a while. I didn't sleep well last night for some reason, but, hey, it happens from time to time. Makes me appreciate the good nights a little more.

Yesterday I drove part of the 3rd grade to the Children's Museum in Indy. Like I mentioned yesterday, I was able to settle in quickly and get quite a bit accomplished, positioning me well to finish the week strongly.

On the way home, my sister, an aide for one of the teachers on the trip, was telling the teachers how I got started driving buses. Well, this triggered a trip down memory lane. I'll give you a quick report of what I found on my trip.

Back when I was around 19, maybe 20, I think, I had a friend named Eric. Somehow Eric, slightly older than me, had talked his way into a job of delivering Carpenter school buses to Texas. Mitchell used to be known for its bus plant. Sadly those days are gone and new generations are coming along that no nothing of this history.

Anyway, long story shortened, Eric got me a job driving new buses to Texas during one of my summers home from college. It was the best job ever! My first trip was a convoy of 14 buses all going to Lubbock, TX, driving straight through. What adventure for a young man! Eric and I, naturally teamed up, and had a great time. Once we delivered the buses, we would fly home, all expense paid. It was good money!

On that first trip, we were delivering buses to Lubbock for forced integration via busing kids around. Of course it was not popular with the locals. In fact we didn't realize how much so until the bus in front of me got a brick through its windshield as we drove through Lubbock. It could have killed the driver, but it went through the passenger side.

I don't know how many trips I made to TX, quite a few. I made at least one by myself, which I didn't enjoy. I did rig up an 8 track player with headphones, the big kind, to wear while driving. I also learned how to unhook the governors so we could go faster. The good old boys taught me that trick. I'm not especially proud of that, but it happened. There are lots of stories, but that's enough for today.

Today is going to be pretty busy. I have a few meetings throughout the day. In between those I hope to get my sermon finished, along with all the other things that it requires.

I hope your day goes well. Thanks for coming by.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Pain, Peace, and Joy

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

God wants his people, including you and me, to experience his peace and joy, but it comes at a price. It cost God, and it costs us. The peace and joy of God often arrive through a process of pain, pain often rooted in sin of some sort.

There is a good promise in it all, one that we must hear. It’s articulated in lots of ways and in lots of places in Scripture.

Listen to God, in/through Isaiah (ch. 43), comfort his people who were defeated because of their sinful rebellion. They were in exile, in pain, and wondering if God loved them anymore. He does!

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

God knows your name and has not given up on you. If you turn to him and desire to walk with him, then he’ll walk with you through everything in your life, even, and especially in, your pain.

Wednesday a.m.

Pat A & Me in front of the Store
Good morning Wednesday! It's considerably cooler this morning but still not too bad. I will dress differently for me early morning run though. I need to get 5 miles in this morning before driving a bus to Indy.

The trip to Indy went well yesterday. The bus was full of 3rd graders. That seems like a nice age. They were well-behaved. There were 4-5 teachers/aides on board, so I know that helps. It was funny, at least to me, that occasionally I would hear a teacher yell a child's name. It was always the same name. There's always (at least) one child...

I love it when we get into Indy and the little boys see Lucus Oil Stadium. They get so excited, and I take them right in front of it. Another funny thing happened when we passed WFYI radio station. One little girl said to another, misreading the sign, "WIFI, WIFI, that's where they make WIFI; that's where it comes from!" She did, said, misread the same thing on the way back.

On the return trip, I take them around the circle. I mean all the way around it. It's all decorated for Christmas. Then we exit the circle to the west and drive up to the Capitol building and then around it before heading back home. Many of the children have never seen it. Hey, what can I say, I'm a full service bus driver.

While everyone was enjoying the children's museum, I was camped out in a secure spot with my computer. I was able to get a fair amount of work done yesterday, and I when I return today, I hope to get even more. I know where I need to go and should be able to settle more quickly.

OK, I gotta keep moving here... Thanks for coming by.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


Do you remember Joseph, the one with the nice coat? He lived in Egypt a long, long time ago. He was there because his brothers hated him and wanted to hurt him. The hatred led to the hurt, as usual.

Joseph had a really hard time for a long time, but God stayed with him and was working through all the bad stuff to eventually bring good things, as usual.

It’s a great story, and you can read about it, beginning in Genesis 37. Eventually Joseph’s mean brothers had to come and bow down before him. Rightfully so, they were afraid of Joseph and revenge.

Joseph has a different view of life, one that sees God working in the bad, even in the unjustified hurt that comes from others. Here’s what he says about that to his brothers in Genesis 50:19-21.

Joseph said to them, "Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid."

I need to be very careful in judging the motives of others when I am hurt, but even more important, I need to trust that God is working in the pain to accomplish something good.

I may not know about it until much later.

That’s faith isn’t it?

Tuesday a.m.

Good morning! It says 64 on my thermometer. Weirdly warm. If it's not going to snow, then I'll take this warm stuff. It sure was nice last night. Around 100 gathered to run/walk Norm's Run as the sun slipped from view. The run was in honor/memory of Norm Taylor who died on a run last week. More than $1000 was raised by the runners and walkers, most of them sporting Purdue attire in honor of Norm. Thanks to Mike J, who had a whole wardrobe of Purdue shirts in his vehicle, I was able to wear some myself.

I ran 4+ miles before Norm's 5 miles last night. I had to dig out some summer clothes. Crazy! Here's the 1500 scoreboard:

Run so far this year: 1382.17     Needed to get 1500: 117.83     Day left to do it: 27

It sounds like a lot when you look at it as a total: 100+ miles. But when you break it down, then it becomes manageable/doable. Pretty sure there is sermon/life lesson in all that.

Yesterday was so nice in so many ways. I had a great meeting with 3 others guys. We are working to revitalize the Marriage and Family Alliance in Lawrence County and surrounding areas. We'll present some ideas to our board next week.

After that meeting I saw a couple of people in need. One of them lives in a little trailer and has been heating it with a gas oven and an electric heater. His furnace has been out for a while. I'm going to do what I can to get him some safe heat this winter.  The other family couldn't pay their rent and were being threatened by eviction. There are a lot of people really struggling. This family is doing what they can. I helped them.

After that, I had a great lunch with 4 other guys: Jason P, Greg M., Pat A. and Christopher W. We had a great discussion. Four of us are going to preach a collaborative sermon series, beginning in January. It's going to be based on Andy Stanley's Guardrails material. We talked some about how peer collaborative preaching works. I've done it several times and always find a great deal of synergy, so I am really looking forward to it. If you are preacher and want in on this, just send me a note.

Today and tomorrow, I am driving a school bus to the Children's Museum in Indy. The transportation director is really short on bus drivers for this sort of thing. Real bus drivers can't do it because the trip doesn't return until 5.30. I'm glad to help out, plus it will afford me some great study time in a different environment.

OK, I really need to get a run in before that bus leaves at 8.30! Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Shake it Off and Step Up

A donkey fell down into a well, and he cried for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. He decided the animal was old and wasn’t worth saving, and the well needed to be filled in anyway.

His neighbors came over to help him. They began to shovel dirt into the well. At first the donkey cried horribly. Then he grew quiet.

The farmer looked down in the well and was astonished! As each shovel of dirt hit his back, the donkey did something amazing. He shook it off and took a step up.

As the shovels of dirt continued to hit the donkey, he shook them off and stepped up. Pretty soon, to everyone’s amazement, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

* * *

Is there a possibility that people will throw dirt at you, and on you, this week? If so, just shake it off and take a step up. Use those challenges as stepping stones to do good, even great, things!

Take to heart these words from 2 Corinthians 4, The Message.

We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives!

Shake it off and step up!

Monday a.m.

Good morning! A new day and a new week has arrived. God is faithful yet again. I'm going to take this week one day (or less) at a time, since it includes not one but two trips to Indianapolis. There I go again, getting ahead of myself.

The weekend was busy busy but amazing in lots of ways. I smoked 8 pork shoulders on Friday. Took all day. Then Friday evening I pulled them, along with Kedra and B.A. After the pull, Kedra and I went to the high school basketball game.

Saturday was the big day! Here's some of the stuff that happened on Saturday:
  • We had our Coat Giveaway, and we gave away more than 300 coats to people who needed them. We had amazing organization and planning from some great people. They included lots and lots of volunteers.
  • Woodville Baptist church, several months ago, asked to help by collecting gloves, hats, and mittens. They asked to come into our building and work side by side with us, in order for it to be more convenient for those receiving needed items. Isn't that great?
  • The Methodist church also wanted to be involved, so they decided to offer a free meal in their building from 11 - 1, which we promoted at our events. I went down and was pleased to find that they were pleased with the number of folks who came to eat.
  • The Honduras mission team sold pulled pork and other things and made a nice amount of money that will be used on mission trips.
  • The library was present in a couple of places to sign up children for Pre-K reading program and to promote an activity/event they were having Saturday afternoon. Around 100 went to that.
  • The Toy Sale in our gym was amazing! Hundreds of people came in and bought tons of toys. We sold nearly $4700 worth of toys. That's a bit staggering when you think about it. Most things are priced around a dollar or two. I think the highest priced item was a nice bike at $30. Our Store staff are some of the most dedicated servants you will ever meet. I really mean that.
  • At the end of the sale, we donated all that was left to Santa Joe, a local guy who refurbishes toys and gives them to children in need. It was such a blessing for us to have him take the remaining toys away, and it was a blessing to him to have a truckload+ of toys that will require no refurbishing.
Saturday was one of my favorite days of this year. There was such a unity present and an awareness that we were serving God by serving others. Children will be warm when the weather gets cold, and a lot of children will have gifts on Christmas morning. I think the biggest thing is that people had to notice in our little town was that a lot of caring and loving was going on in the name of Jesus. Next year I think there will be a couple of more churches join in to create an even bigger day of blessing.

Today is going to be wall to wall. Is that why I got up at 4:15?? Maybe. I just woke up, ready to get after it. I will spend a little time getting organized this morning, along with some study. Then I've got a Marriage and Family Alliance meeting, followed by helping 2 families in need. I think one family has no heat, and the other one has no money. Then I get to spend some time with Christopher W. from Washington, followed by a visit to the nursing home, followed by some time at the Store, followed by/interrupted by ??.  (Interruptions are my work.)

This evening at 5:15 I will participate in Norm's Run. A local educator/historian died suddenly last week while running, so we will run in his memory/honor. As I was running with Bill the other day, asking about Norm, he said, "The reason I know you is because of Norm," explaining how Norm got Bill and others into running. I did not know Norm, but I know a lot of the people who do. Good enough for me.

OK, I'll save some stuff for tomorrow...