Coping with COVID-19

Every day we are hearing various suggestions related to how we may cope with the necessary restrictions that have been put in place due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. These are confining days of unprecedented and mandated social isolation. It has been hard on all of us, yet predictably we are helping each other to find ways to make this temporary "new normal" manageable and even instructional.

The Keppler's have been maintaining our schedule. Those of you who know me well know that I love my routine! I can hear Monique shouting out, "Amen to that!" We have been getting up fairly early to get our day going and then getting to bed just after the conclusion of the early version of the late night news. The day for me starts while viewing the broadcast news with a forty-minute workout regimen downstairs involving the recumbent bicycle (1 mile at 13 mph), 31 minutes of walking (mostly 3 mph) on the treadmill with light weights ("wimpy" 5 pounders) and concluding…

Social Distancing, Yet Staying Connected!

As you know and have repeatedly heard about Covid 19 or Coronavirus, "This is serious!" We have been staying home nearly all of the time except for an occasional run to the post office to retrieve the mail, or to the drugstore drive-up to pick up meds or a quick in and out at the neighborhood grocery store to restock the pantry. Instead of our usual Sunday worship schedule, we watched and participated in worship this past Lord's Day via a live stream through FaceBook since all public gatherings larger than fifty individuals have been discontinued.

I recently heard this comment about the service, "This would not have been possible ten years ago!" (FaceBook Live was launched in 2015.) I generally agree. It has become easier because of today's social media platforms. However, I do remember being "snowed in" as a teenager in the sixties in Vandalia and watching my pastor preaching live on television to homebound congregants via the local cable company…

The Sphere of Your Influence

It always helps me to try to quantify or graphically measure what I'm thinking about. I guess this is because I am a visual person and need to diagram, conceptualize, or even try to sketch the thoughts I'm thinking in order to understand them. The other day in a small group setting, we were discussing how to grow in our capacity to love others, especially those who are different from us. I suggested that we first needed to identify the recipients of that love. Taking a marker in hand, I began drawing on the whiteboard several concentric circles like the ripples made from a pebble dropped into a body of water and then titled this simple image, "Quantifying Our Relationships!"

Each circle became a way to specifically show the levels of our relationships in life. The inner core represented ourselves. Then going outward, we segmented other relations like our immediate family, relatives, close friends, next door neighbors, fellow workers, the many acquaintances we have an…

Interruptions or God's Appointments?

Everywhere I go these days, I am reminded of my age! It started years ago after turning fifty at a time when I was beginning to leverage that membership card from the organization that advocates for senior adults! I was being offered the "senior discount" at the local donut shop and other eateries without asking for it. It had me wondering, "How did they know I had just got my senior membership card?!" I soon realized that I was "showing my age" as we say, but it wasn't because I was carrying a plastic senior card in my wallet. Rather, it was because, "I was showing my age!" Literally! In my fifties, my hair was turning gray like my mother's! And, my shoulders were rounding so that I was slumping even more with each passing year. Why is it that we always seem to blame our parents or genetics for these developmental changes?

Anyway, I shouldn't have been surprised the other day that once again, I was being identified as a mature adult…

Tips for Making a Hospital Visit

Our new church is putting to me to work! Upon completing a recent spiritual gift inventory for those interested in membership, it became evident that I have a passion for Bible teaching. So, I have been enlisted to teach a weekly small group this Lenten season on the two Great Commandments of "loving God and loving our neighbors." Then, when the staff found out that I had retired after serving some 45 years in pastoral ministry, they have also invited me to serve as a volunteer on their hospital visiting team. Now, I have been "in the hospital" numerous times over my adult years both as a patient and a visitor. As you might expect, I prefer visiting others over being a patient! My family can attest and have said about me, "He's not very patient being a patient!"

After a recent orientation meeting with one of the church pastors, I received my specific assignment to visit fellow members who are hospitalized each Friday. The church's administrative a…

"Smart Watch/Trash Can Cheating!"

We are on the cusp of another baseball season. Since my elementary school days as a ten-year-old playing on a Little League team, I have loved this sport! However, I have a confession to make. I am now a fan of two major league baseball teams that have been caught cheating! Please allow me to state the obvious at the outset, I do not endorse cheating. It is stupid and unnecessary. It has no place in baseball or life! The Bible is very clear about prohibiting dishonesty of any kind, "You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another" (Leviticus 19:11).

Having stated my disdain for cheating, I now want to explain the conundrum of my dual loyalties. I grew up solely following the St. Louis Cardinals and still give my highest allegiance to those "Birds on the Bat!" This is my default and primary preference! Yet, I am fond of the Houston Astros organization due to my fifteen years of residency in the Great State of Texas. I pastored in th…

The Blessing of Hugs!

My wife, Monique is a regular substitute in our local elementary school. After retiring in 2013, having taught for over 22 years, it is not uncommon for her to average teaching in this same building three or four days a week. She loves what she does and is a familiar face to the students in the first through fourth grade classes! The only class she doesn't choose to teach is kindergarten because they are down on the floor much of the day with their activities. Charlie, our enthusiastic kinder, while disappointed, is looking forward to his Mimi teaching him next year just like she has his sister, Chloe and brother, Danny on several occasions!

As I dropped her off at the front door the other morning, I saw three little girls along with a boy, (probably first or second graders) shouting, "It's Mrs. Keppler!" as they rushed over to give her a group hug! I thought, "Everyone should be so blessed to have this kind of welcoming party to greet them!" Have you ever …