Pastor's Blog
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March 6, 2013, 11:38 AM

When It Does Not Go As Planned

I use to get extremely frustrated when things did not go as planned.  When our kids were small and we planned to leave at a certain time for a family trip, then ended-up leaving 30-60 minutes LATER than intended, it drove me nuts!  I allowed the delay to ruin the first part of the trip for me, as well as for my family who had to contend with a grumpy driver.  I still do not like it when things do not go as planned, although I have learned to deal with it differently.

Two-days ago, Peggy and I made the 4 1/2-hour trip to visit my Mom in her Alzheimer's unit at her nursing home.  When we arrived, Mom was sleeping in a chair and would not wake-up.  We actually left, visited with my 90-year-old aunt in a nearby town, then returned a few hours later to visit Mom.  When we returned, Mom was alert and very happy to see Peggy.  We do not know who Mom thought Peggy was, but she nearly squealed with excitement upon seeing Peggy.   She hugged Peggy, held her close, and would not let go.  While hugging Peggy, Mom looked at me and asked, "Who are you?"   She then asked Peggy, "Who is that guy?"  During the course of our visit, there were several times when Mom asked who I was.  She never had even a remote clue I was her son.  When Mom eventually asked if I was someone she knew, I told her how we were related.  She angrily denied it and did so with an extremely hateful force.  I was cut-to-the-heart. That WAS NOT what I expected when we left early that morning.  As we sat in the parking lot of the nursing home ready to leave, I told Peggy how painful that visit was.  She reminded me the response I received was the Alzheimer's speaking, NOT my Mom.  I knew that, but emotional injury was deep.  Although my sister had warned me Mom's Alzheimer's was worsening, it was difficult seeing the dramatic decline. 

We have a choice of how we respond when things do not go as planned, whether that is in dealing with a delayed departure time, visiting a loved one, or simply going through our daily routine.  We can allow ourselves to become distraught, upset, and dwell on the frustration, but those type of responses are not productive.  They bring us down and cause greater turmoil.  The better response is to surrender that unexpected experience to the Lord, trusting that as we obediently follow Him, He will intervene in our lives even when things do not go as we planned.  If we live fully surrendered to Him, everything that comes our way will be "Father-filtered," even the things that do not go as planned.  He continues to have all things under control, even when the unplanned events occur.




January 27, 2013, 8:19 AM

This Is Not Home

We have been in southwest Florida the past two-weeks visiting two of our grown children and their families.  Peggy and I have thoroughly enjoyed "spoiling" our 3 1/2-year-old grandson and our six-month-old granddaughter!  Our grandson was "PaPa's boy" when we lived here.  I was concerned that after six-months of not seeing me, our relationship would have changed.  To my joy, he is more of "PaPa's boy" now than ever!  Our newest grandchild was two-days-old when we moved from Florida to Illinois.  Peggy and I were thrilled that little Yunielis (June-yell-iss) immediately fell in love with us.  She is an absolute doll, but then again, we are biased.   We had a wonderful time visiting with our family! 

Our son and his family live in the town where we invested the past six-years in ministry.  We drove by our former church, drove by the places where we use to live, Peggy visited her former employer, and we drove by some of the old familiar places.  While many would think the warm winter climate of southwest Florida would lure us back, the thing that hit us so strongly was the impression, "This IS NOT home."  The vision we once had for the area, we no longer have.  We fulfilled God's calling and completed what He had for us to do.  We gave our best while serving here, but His call is now to a new location...a new region...a new church family.  We continue to treasure the friendships with our "Florida church family."  Our love and appreciation for them has not changed...only God's call and our location has changed.  As we drive around Decatur, Illinois, we see the new mission field God has for us.  We view Decatur with visionary eyes from a God-given perspective.  Decatur is "home" and it is where God has placed us for this season of life.  We anticipate miracles as we follow God's direction for the future.

The Bible refers to those who are committed to Christ as being "strangers and aliens" in this world.  As Christians, our citizenship is in Heaven.  Our loyalties are to be for the things of God, not the things of earth.  We are not to become attached to the things of society nor unduly influenced by society's way of thinking. We need to seriously consider, what do those looking at us see-- society's influence revealed in our lives or Christ's influence in us?  A more important question is:  what does God see?

We have enjoyed the change-of-pace the past two-weeks, but this IS NOT home. 

 




December 22, 2012, 11:01 AM

The End of the World

The Mayans missed it!  There has been much said about the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world on December 21, 2012.  Some gave this prediction a great deal of credibility and altered their lives accordingly.  Many have spoofed the prediction, possibly out of nervous humor.  The sobering reality is that December 21, 2012, WAS "the end of the world" for more than 155,520 people.  The United States Census Bureau tells us that many people DIE DAILY around the world.  That is not just on December 21st, but EVERY DAY!  The Census Bureau web site states someone dies every 1.8-seconds, which amounts to 107-deaths every minute of every day.  Are you ready if "your minute" comes today?

Most of us are oblivious to our own mortality, at least until death sweeps near us.  Earlier this month, a friend I have known since 1975 died of a rare type of cancer.  His cancer was discovered only months ago.  Dave was a little younger than me.  He was one of those guys you did not forget once you met him!  In early November, a mutual friend called telling me Dave wanted me to visit him during his chemotherapy treatments in Chicago.  After realizing how far I was from Chicago, the request was withdrawn.  Yet I wanted to honor Dave's desire to visit with me because I believed he wanted me to help him with the spiritual struggles he had.  Shortly after that, Dave's cancer battle accelerated.  He soon became too sick to see anyone.  I never got to visit him.  I rejoiced in learning he accepted Jesus Christ back into his life and died at peace with God.  A year ago, no one could have imagined Dave dying.  His "minute" came.

Are YOU ready for eternity?  Do YOU know without any doubt everything is right between you and God?  Do YOU know with absolute certainty you have confessed every sin and are living in the full forgiveness Jesus Christ alone can offer?  The awesome news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that YOU can live daily "at peace with God!"  Seek Him.  Confess your sins.  Repent, i.e. turn away from sin and rebellion against God, then turn to the Lord and begin living as He desires.  Live each day as a friend of God, empowered by His Spirit and honoring Him! 

One day the Mayans will be correct...the end of our world will come.  Live ready! 

(In the time it took you to read this Blog entry, approximately 350-people died and went into eternity.   Most of those who died went into eternity without God.)




November 27, 2012, 4:40 PM

The Season for GIVING

This afternoon I spent $225 for three-shopping carts of toys for children I do not know, have not met, and probably will never see.  I was TOLD...almost "ordered"...to make the purchases.  Since the person instructing me to do so also provided me the cash, I did as he requested.  I thoroughly enjoyed my task!  Knowing the toys were going to children who likely will receive little or nothing else for Christmas made my shopping spree overflow with joy! 

Our church is the distribution coordinator for the Decatur branch of OPERATION SLEIGHBELL, a ministry that seeks to provide the economically challenged in central Illinois with a means of stretching their finances and having affordable gifts for their families at Christmas.  While this is my first year of involvement, our local church has been active with OPERATION SLEIGHBELL for years.  A couple of our ladies shop all-year-long in an effort to stock our "Sleighbell Store" with nice items that families will want and be proud to have.  Many in our congregation give their time to help with this annual event.  I cannot adequately express my appreciation for our West Side Nazarene church family and their support of this effort.  OPERATION SLEIGHBELL will officially take place December 3-6.  After four-days of trying to help 300+ families, we will do it all again in about eleven-months...although the shopping for next year will begin immediately.

During this Christmas season, I encourage you to GIVE like never before!  Do not merely give gifts, but give of yourself to those around you.  Yesterday, I went next door to visit my elderly neighbor who I seldom see outside.  We spent maybe five-minutes talking at her front door, but she was visibly overjoyed that I would stop-in just to see her.  I came away feeling blessed!  GIVING is not really a difficult thing, especially when we recognize that the spirit-of-giving clearly reflects Christ and demonstrates God's love.  John 3:16 reminds us that God loves us so much HE GAVE His one and only Son for us.  For the Christian, every season is the season-for-giving!  This Christmas, give of yourself beyond what you are accustomed to doing.  Allow God to use you to bring help, hope, and affirmation to others.  This is the season for GIVING!




November 6, 2012, 10:46 AM

You Left Southern Florida for Illinois? WHY???

I have lost track of the number of people who have asked me, "You left southern Florida for Illinois?  WHY?"  The allure of palm trees, beaches, warm winters, and the idyllic climate so overwhelm the thinking of most...the idea of giving that up to relocate to central Illinois with its cold winters, ice, snow, and unglamorous corn fields...just does not compute in their thinking!  When nonChristians have asked about why we relocated to Decatur, I initially replied we were transferred here with my job.  I thought that would be easier than explaining the Nazarene-pastor-process of moving from one church to another.  More times than not, the person talking to me has wanted to know what company I am with.  Consequently, I have had to explain the Nazarene-pastor-moving-process anyway.  Frequently, those I have talked with responded with a pitiful look of, "We are so sorry you had to leave Florida."

 

Those conversations have not surprised me.  The interactions that HAVE surprised me are the Christians, even fellow pastors, who have questioned WHY I left southern Florida for central Illinois.  Thinking of the subtropical climate and all the "tourist attractions" that make southern Florida such a vacation destination, they could not comprehend why I would ever leave such a place.  A few have questioned my sanity for giving that up for Decatur, Illinois. 

 

WHY we moved is simple:  GOD'S CALL!  Peggy and I know without question that God has called us to Decatur, Illinois, and specifically to the West Side Church of the Nazarene.  We do not yet understand all of God's plan regarding why He wants us here, but we believe He will incrementally reveal the various facets of His plan in due time.  We trust Him completely!   While we miss being able to ride our motorcycle year-round, that is honestly the only climate-related aspect we miss about southern Florida.  Being back in the Midwest, we have enjoyed the Fall colors; enjoyed the crisp Fall air; and Peggy is enjoying the winter-like chill in the air.  ("Chill-in-the-air" does not bless meHa!)  God has given us a love for Decatur that continues to increase, as well as a spiritual burden for those living around us who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.  We thank God for His clear leadership in our lives.  Like the old hymn says, "Where He leads me, I will follow...I'll go with Him all the way."    Are you being obedient to God's call on your life?


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