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Showing posts from August, 2018

Teach Others!

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It is time for the area’s public and private schools to get back into session. Teachers report early to get ready for the new school year and students follow within days. As the doors open, everyone is sporting new clothing, book bags and a readiness to put the pencil to the paper or rather, the fingers to the keyboard! The summer vacation is over, and now, teachers will teach and learners will learn! So goes the calendar of educational development.

The church has a similar cycle of learning. Teachers are elected for a new church year and September is time for promotion and a re-commitment to discipleship and growing in Christ.

Our church has seen some changes this new year. One beloved Sunday School class has been shuttered after years of being together due to members who have passed or moved on because of death, health or other circumstances. The only remaining member has plans to relocate out-of-state to be closer to family. This is a familiar life-cycle for older adults in an agi…

An Okra Gardener!

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Our son Marc put out a four-box garden this season at his new house. He has always done some minor vegetable garden work that started back when he lived in Illinois. Now that he is in Texas, he dreams of a two-season garden: spring and early fall. He has set out a neat area in the corner of his backyard for his garden boxes and has filled them with tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, watermelons and okra. The roma and cherry tomato varieties have produced generous fruit for salads and sandwiches. The cucumbers provided jars of pickles. The watermelon made the summer meals more enjoyable. The green beans became the vegetable of choice for Sunday dinner. But, it was the okra that has been the gift that keeps on giving!

It is a fact that okra loves the toasty temperatures of central Texas. This single plant has literally taken over the box and continues to reach upward each day bearing copious quantities of the most delectable of spiny projectiles. It requires daily attention in harvesting…

Uncle Billy Moments!

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Many of you will remember the beloved uncle who partnered with Jimmy Stewart’s character in the Christmas favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life. Uncle Billy was absent-minded and habitually wrapped a "reminder string" around his finger so he wouldn’t forget things. There is that pitiful exchange between the uncle and his nephew George Bailey. After a costly lapse in judgement in which $8,000 falls into the villainous Potter's hands, George, fearing the bank examiner's reprisals, called Uncle Billy, “A silly, stupid old fool!" Indeed, it was a sad occasion for the Bailey Building and Loan at the cusp of the Great Depression when that amount of money in today's dollars would exceed $114,000 in value. This was for me an unforgettable (and I use that word carefully) confrontation by the two characters in the film.

I had an Uncle Billy moment last week. One that I am still embarrassed about. I absentmindedly left my bank credit card at a restaurant in the folder that …

A Millionaire with Friends!

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I have a humorous reminder of the need for true friends. It is a cartoon depicting the sad occasion of a funeral visitation. It pictures two men standing before the casket of a deceased friend and contemplating their loss. One man laments, “I don’t understand why we are the only mourners here. He had more than 500 friends on his social media account!” Now, this is not a bashing of various online connections, but it is more a celebration of the face-to-face, tried and true variety of relating that we all need. There is no substitute for this blessing!

We recently returned from our annual Texas vacation where we have a network of sweet friends. It has been our practice when possible to reconnect with them each summer while visiting our son and his family. Having lived in the Lone Star State for nearly 15 years, we put down some relational roots that have been enduring. Of course, we have cultivated just as many friends living back in Illinois these past 26 years as well.

The old hymn a…

Forgive me, please!

I was pretty unruly the last weeks leading up to my retirement. In dealing with the loose ends and trying to find an acceptable closure to over 26 years of ministry, I was stressed and disagreeable at times. I was getting into trouble by saying some harsh things to family and friends and finding myself needing to ask for forgiveness. When have you recently asked, “Please, forgive me?”

Over the years, I have had to “walk back” several comments that were hurtful. Sometimes I tried unsuccessfully to make excuses by what I had meant, but when something mean comes out of the mouth, something mean must be in the heart. No amount of excuse-making will work toward healing in these situations. Rather, it’s time to admit wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness. You would think that as time goes on a maturing Christian should be growing past some of these careless words and actions, but it seems that the devil never gives up working to trip us up!

While patience may be one of the more important of vi…

Praying for Patience

I have always been a little hesitant to pray for patience even though I need to grow into this fruit of the Spirit more fully. My hesitancy is because God knows my shortcomings and daily engineers circumstances that give me multiple opportunities to exercise patience. I have even cautioned my peers, “Be careful what you ask for in terms of patience. God may just set up a situation this day to put the virtue into practice.” Someone or something may challenge you. There are unpleasant confrontations with people and there are frustrating things to be fixed that are woven into each day’s agenda. These encounters have us praying, “Lord, give me patience!”

Paul counseled the Ephesians to live up to their calling in Christ and “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of peace” (4:2-3). These beautiful instructions give pastor and people guidance for relating within the church. The idea of “bearing with” means showing…

Staying in Place!

I officially retired effective July 1st. In my brief letter to the church family a couple of months back I mentioned how blessed these 26 ½ years had been for me and my family. I also noted, with a twinkle in my eye, that while my plan was to vacate the pulpit, I did not plan to vacate the premises all-together!

Monique and I plan to be gone on occasions ‘doing what retired people do!’ but we promised that we would continue to seek ways to serve our church family. I plan to keep teaching Sunday School, serve on the Property & Grounds Team, and resource the Sunday School in leadership development. I want to keep busy and productive for the Lord!

To some who question whether pastors should retire, I quote my good friend Joe McKeever, who has said, “Don’t let anyone tell you that retirement is not in the Bible!” Then, Joe quotes Numbers 8:25 and how the priests stepped down from their responsibilities at fifty. I celebrated my 67th birthday this past April 7th and feel that I have me…