Wednesday, November 26, 2014

God Loves You (but I'm His favorite)!

I stole the title of this post from a bumper sticker. It fits.)

The Thanksgiving holiday always gives us the opportunity to pause and examine our lives and the many reasons that we have to be thankful. As I look around and see the trials and struggles of so many good people, I can't help but believe that I am truly favored by God.

I am not a believer in luck and coincidence is too random to account for the blessed condition of my life. I can offer no reason for my position other than God's grace and mercy.

I am not subscriber to fate, nor one that believes everything happens for a reason. I do believe that we were all created to glorify our Creator and gifted to do so. While there are many that give Him glory and honor in trials and tribulations, I have not been asked to do that...at least, not yet.

I don't think that I'm going to get out of this life without suffering or extreme sadness. Life has its cruel nature of pain and torment.
But for today, I am thankful.

And I feel compelled to share my blessings with others.

I'm not really sure of how to go about that. I think that sometimes we get to planning so much that we miss the simple opportunities to bless people that make their way into our days. We often hear the term "random acts of kindness" and yet I am convinced that these are not at all random acts. They are purposeful acts by random people that have made it their mission to be a blessing to people they encounter.

I want to be one of those people!

Would you care to join me?
We can be a purposeful army of people doing purposeful acts of kindness for people.
And not just random people we meet; all of the people we meet!

I honestly have to ask, "Is it even possible to be kind to everyone?"

I don't know if I can do that.

I'm up for trying.
How about you?

John <><

Monday, November 10, 2014

Missed... or not

With retirement just around the corner, I've been wondering a little bit about how I'll be remembered at work...or if I'll be remembered at work!

The reality of life moving on and nobody giving a second thought to my not being there is the most likely scenario. Others have retired before me and air traffic continues to flow as somebody else fills that gap in the schedule. Over the years, I have had little contact with those that have retired or moved on to other facilities. They simply move out of my little ATC (Air Traffic Control) world and we each carry on without thinking much about the other.

I imagine that will pretty much be the case at SGF ATCT (Springfield Air Traffic Control Tower, for my non-ATC friends).

However, it occurred to me that now isn't really the time to be thinking about how one will be remembered. Thinking about how you want to be remembered and acting accordingly is way better than thinking about how you will be remembered. There is no going back to unsay harsh words nor undo unkind acts. I can't travel back in time to offer help or to be a friend. I wonder how differently I might have acted if there was a voice inside that quietly said, "Is this the way you want to be remembered?" before each action or sentence.

Unfortunately, many of us end up with regrets over the way we have acted or the things we have said. One friend suggested that it may take some time before people actually realize that they miss having me around or before they recognize that I did have some impact in their life. At some point in the distant future, they may find a way to let me know.

I don't know if that will be the case, but it did make me think that maybe we should let people know when they are doing a good job and having a positive influence over us or others.  There are people that have encouraged me and helped me along the way. There are those that have inspired me and made me want to be a better co-worker/employee/friend. Perhaps a word of recognition would serve to encourage them to continue doing that for others.

Telling someone that they're being a jerk probably won't have much impact in changing them, but encouraging someone to continue doing good may give them a boost when so many kind acts and kind people go unnoticed.

Personally, I'm not looking forward to any kind of retirement send off. I'd be perfectly content with handing in my headset and walking out the door. I expect that there will be a couple of people that I will maintain some contact with for a short time, maybe a couple that I'll see once in a great while; but for the most part, I expect that I'll leave my ATC world in the past and move on.

Several weeks ago I deleted over 300 Facebook friends. Most of them were people with whom I have no contact and share little in common or people that I see on a regular basis and can have real conversations with instead of checking each others status throughout the day. Most of my co-workers were deleted because the fall into the second category and will most likely stay deleted because they will soon fall into the first.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not at all sad about my decision to retire. I'm not sad about the people that I'll be saying my goodbyes to, either. I am a little disappointed that I didn't pay more attention to how I'd like to be remembered when I had the chance to do that.

But we can learn from the past. And while it may be too late to change what has been done, each of us can begin to live purposefully to leave behind great memories and to encourage the people that we encounter today!

We don't even have to plan to leave a life long legacy behind. We only have to think about how people will  remember us -- tonight; at the end of the day. Will anybody think back (for just a brief moment) about a kind word or kind act from someone that they may or may not have known?

Let's face it. Our memories are pretty short. After nearly two decades at SGF ATCT, March will come and go and nobody will have even a thought of good ol' JH. But maybe tonight someone might have the thought, "That was a nice thing he said today," or "That was a nice thing he did."

I think it's fair to say that I'll not be missed much; and not for very long. Why should it be any different for me than it has been for others? I guess it's really not that important, is it?

Maybe we work too hard at leaving behind legacies.
Maybe not being remembered isn't such a bad thing.
Maybe living to do well in the moment is what legacies are really made of.

John <><


Monday, November 03, 2014

Family Visit

It;s rare that I would be up early on a Monday morning. My work week typically starts at 3pm on Monday afternoon, so there is no need to get up with the sun (or slightly before as is the case today).

However, this weekend we have been blessed with a visit from Aaron and Jenny and our traditional send off is to have breakfast out with both of their families. Hannah and Daniel have opted out of the early morning send-off and said their goodbyes at dinner last night.

I really am so blessed with a grand family!

The times that we get to spend together are so few. I was very happy that Aaron and Jenny went out to lunch with Hannah and Daniel yesterday (and a little jealous that parents were not invited!). It's been interesting to watch as Aaron and Hannah have grown through the buddy stage, the bugging each other stage, and back to being good friends as adults. Sometimes I suspect it may be an alliance against their parents as much as a real sibling friendship, but I do think that they actually like each other most of the time. Having everybody together for a couple of days was great!

I hope that we get to see Aaron and Jenny more often in retirement than we have in the recent past and fear that we will see less of Hannah as she makes her transition into living as a completely dependent adult woman. I guess that is the way of things in our mobile society. I suppose that it is difficult to complain too much as I am one of six siblings, soon to be back to living in six different states!

I enjoyed watching the fights with Aaron on Saturday night. It has been a long time since we've been able to watch them together. We often watch from our own homes and tweet or text back and forth during them but this was way better! I know that Chris sometimes feels that she doesn't get to spend as much time with her boy as I do, but I think that she understands the father/son thing, too. Weekend visits are tough on everybody as both families want to spend as much time as possible with the kids. I'm afraid that we put a lot of pressure on the kids to be more places than is possible in just a couple of days.

I imagine that they are happy to be on their way home and back to their normal routine, sans parents!

We are also back to our normal, unexciting routine.
Work, household chores, a little exercise...you know, not exactly boring, but far from exciting.
All-in-all, it's a good life.

I hope that yours is also a good life.

John <><


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Easy Transition

I really don't think I'll have any problems transitioning into retirement.

I know that taking a few days off is nothing compared to being retired, but still -- I think I'll manage the change quite nicely.

I took last Friday off and had a nice long walk at the Springfield Nature Center with Chris.
Saturday was an easy day with Chris working and me doing very little.
Sunday night I had the opportunity to preach for a group at the Laclede Baptist Camp.
I also took a couple of days off (Mon/Tue) to hang out at the Fellowship of Missouri Baptist Evangelists' booth at the Missouri Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. I was excited to be able to share about my winter retirement plans and how that meant an open schedule for 2015. I was able to talk to several pastors about possible dates and events for the spring!

I have a magic show to prepare, lesson plans to write (apologetics), a book to work on (writing, not reading) and plenty of household projects. I seriously doubt that I'll ever be pacing in my living room and saying I'm bored as I often do in the tracon.

I'm sure that there will be plenty of adjustments to make, but I'm looking forward to them.

I expect that I'll be cooking more and we'll be eating out a little less often. I'm not sure how Chris feels about that but we'll be eating better (than eating out). I'm not too big on salad prep. I love eating them, but Chris is the salad chef in the house, not me.

In any case, the days off have really helped me to feel like it is time!

They very first week of retirement is the Missouri Baptist State Evangelism Conference, here in Springfield. They end of February is the Pulaski Association Evangelism Conference. I need to work on a March trip to Florida for a little spring baseball. April is Easter and my first tentative spring revival.

I don't think I would have time to go to work...or to be bored!

I am a happy boy!

John <><

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Random thoughts on my pending retirement

It's not often that I post from my phone, but this morning finds my with time on my hands, thoughts in my head and my phone as my only handy media device.

With just fifteen work weeks left in my incredibly average ATC career, "What's next?" is a question I hear (and think about) often.

I really doubt that I'll have to get used to not going to work everyday. I'm pretty sure that I'll fall into that habit quite easily. I do expect that it will take some time to adjust to a new normal and allocating my time to a new schedule.

I do not expect to be bored!

I have been unable to devote the proper time to working on and marketing the magic show that I bought last year. That will be a priority. I've never really considered myself as a professional magician; perhaps the new show and new market will change my personal perspective.

Another thing that I haven't done in the past (haven't had to) is to be proactive about booking revivals, camps or other ministry events. With no work schedule to get in the way, I'm looking forward to a more active ministry calendar.

I've considered going back to school. A degree in Biblical studies would be nice for the pedigree, but I'm not sure how necessary it is at this point. Chris has pointed out that I read and learn plenty on my own and sees little practical benefit from the official piece of paper.

If I were to consider a different area for continued education, it would be something along the lines of herbal medicine or some kind of natural wellness or natural health studies. Once again, I'm not sure that I'd need the degree since I doubt that a professional practice is in my future. It would just be for my own interests and those that might share them.

And there is writing...
I do want to have a daily writing time. I don't know if I'll ever write a book or a magazine article; I just know I need to write.

And travel!
Yes, definitely need to plan a few trips.
Spring training in Florida.
Spring in Australia (our Fall).
Beaches in Mexico any time the sun is shining.
Philippines.
And there is weekend camp in Canada that we need crash in the summer.

No, I don't believe that I'll be bored.

When the fun stuff runs out, there are plenty of household projects to keep me busy.

Life is good!

John <><

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Facebook Re-purposing

I've been spending a lot less time on the social networks and made a few discoveries. I thought I'd share them with you.

1) I have way more "friends" in the virtual world than in reality.
2) Some of the people that I see on Facebook, I actually see in person pretty often.
3) Many of my "friends" I don't really follow (and I'm sure many don't follow me).

There are several other observations that I could share, but these are the three that stand out for me.

I like Facebook for a number of reasons.

It helps me --get this-- network! I like it for the ability to have an easy contact for pastors, churches and other organizations that might want to use my services as a preacher/teacher/magician/speaker/etc.

I have really enjoyed connecting with old classmates and staying in touch with relatives that live far away (and all of my relatives live far away).

Some of my friends post some pretty cool things.

Again, there are other good things, but that's not really important.

In the coming days, I'm going to be making some massive cuts to my friends list. I'm not out to hurt anyone's feelings. I'm just re-purposing my use of this particular social network. If I work with you or see you on a fairly regular basis, you might get dropped. We may have to talk about what is going on in our lives rather than the "I saw your Facebook post" beginning and end to a conversation.

It could be that we became FB friends out of a single event or a single commonality and we really have no other interest in one another's lives. It's not that I don't like you, but you're probably going to go.

In the end, my 635 current "friends" will be greatly reduced. Most of them will never notice (which is a good indication of why they were dropped). Some of you might. If you think that I've been too extreme, feel free let me know. If you want to keep in touch via FB, just say so.

I'm not planning on making a grand production out of who I keep and who I delete, I'm just going to go down the list with a simple yea or nay and move on. Kids, youths, workers from camps--we had fun and I wish you well in your lives, but I'm probably gonna drop you. Some of my ATC friends I know, some I'd really like to know, and others are here because we've met once (maybe) and share a common career. Some I'll keep, some I won't and again, the ones I drop will probably never notice.

I hope that nobody gets their feelings hurt by this. It's really more of a self-preservation thing; a way to make sure that I spend less time on my phone reading about people that are far away and more time relating to the people that are actually close to me.

John <><

Sunday, September 14, 2014

WARNING!!!

A few days ago I was having breakfast with a friend. We were talking about preachers and preaching styles and how they vary according to one's calling and purpose. Pastors preach/teach differently than evangelists or revivalists. And while we all have our different personal styles of delivering a message, our source is (or at least is supposed to be) the same.

We have the teacher, the encourager, the exhorter, the motivator. We remind one another of how we are to live according to the Bible and how we are to love our fellowman. There are many methods and ways used to communicate the message of the Bible.

However, there seems to be a type of messenger that is missing today:

The one that declares the coming danger.

I'm not saying that we should be on street corners with our "world is coming to an end" signs. I'm not typically a gloom and doom type of messenger.
And while there are certainly many that believe we are in the final days or living out the end times, I'm not sure I believe that is the case.

What I do know is that our days are limited. Whether we die of the natural aging process and live out many decades of life, or meet our end through illness or an accident, nobody gets out of this alive. If death is simply the end of life and nobody can avoid it, then a warning about what is already certain seems pointless. But if there is something on the other side that is dependent on how we live in this life, then perhaps a warning is in order.

So...
Is there an afterlife?
Does this afterlife consist of a heaven and a hell?
If so, how does one get into heaven and avoid hell?

It may be that most people are so wrapped up in their current life and so secure in their own goodness that they either haven't considered what happens after death or figure that they're doing okay.

I know plenty of good people that believe that the scales will balance on the side of good and their eternal souls will be okay. I'm not sure of the source of their end times theology, but it doesn't match with the teaching of the Bible. The thing is, most of them would tell you that they believe in the God of the Bible--and because they believe themselves to be good people, surely God won't send them to hell.

I don't know if you're one of those people or not. Maybe you know the things you need to know and yet you postpone living for Jesus or sharing the truth of the Gospel with your kids. Maybe baseball, football, hockey, band, school, and life have become the priorities of life and you'll find time for God and the things of God later. Perhaps, we've come to think of tomorrow as an entitlement and will settle our eternal future on the coming tomorrow.

Today, I am sounding the bell of warning!
The end is near! If you have seen your last sunset, are you ready to meet your eternity? What about your kids or your loved ones?
What do you think it takes to get into heaven?
Where do you find that information and is it reliable?

These are all questions that are worthy of a well considered answer.

If you are a follower of Jesus and believe that heaven is only available through Him, will you share that belief with someone today? Or are you content to let those around you go through life without knowing what you believe about heaven and hell? Would you have your friends go to hell simply because you failed to share what you believe? Because you failed to warn them?

If you are a follower of Jesus (a Christian), would you join me in sounding a warning?
Let's make sure that we are sharing the Gospel of salvation by grace, through faith in Jesus.

If you are not a follower of Jesus and are uncertain of what's next, feel free to call or e-mail me with your questions. My contact info is available in the right column of this blog.

John <><


Monday, September 01, 2014

Another Step Towards Going Green

In an effort to continue to reduce the size of the carbon footprint that I'm making on the Earth, I'm considering a reel lawn mower for my suburban sized yard. I'm past the point of needing a new mower as the gasoline powered unit is limping along and may make it to the end of this mowing season...or not. It's a little embarrassing mowing the lawn as it makes its sputtering sounds while working its way through the task of cutting my grass.

I was considering an electric mower but started thinking that with a relatively flat lawn and small size, why not go completely powerless and provide the power myself?

I'm wondering...
What are some of the ways that you are reducing your carbon footprint?

A little less air conditioning?
Walking or biking for short errands?
A more fuel efficient vehicle?
Eating less red meat?
Recycling?

Here's an interesting one--drinking less bottled water!

That's right! With plastic bottles being a petroleum product, we use millions of barrels of oil to make plastic bottles that are filled with tap water, shipped via gas guzzling trucks to the store and then thrown away after a single use. I'm guilty--but have decided to really cut back on this one.

So, how about it?
What are the ways that you are friendly to our Earth home?
Please share so that all of us can join you.

John <><

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Judged...for not judging!

Yeah, that happens.

This time it wasn't me. It was a friend.

So Christian friends, how are we to reach out to the dreaded scourge of society (you know... (whisper font) the gays) if we don't associate with them or build meaningful relationships?

Maybe it's just more sporting to judge them, condemn them and condemn the brothers and sisters that are not doing the same. I don't know if it makes me sad or mad to hear such stories. I don't know if I get more aggravated with the condemning of those with different lifestyles or with the judging of others for not condemning them.

Sometimes I just get fed up with religious people.  I know, I know, I'm supposed to be one of them, right? It just that I have a hard time putting Jesus in the modern day hater role.

Maybe it's because I can relate to the "sinner" better than to the saint. On the holiness scale, I fall pretty much at the low end. As much as I would love to make the claim of being Christ-like, I'm really not. In fact, Jesus follower is a better description of me than Christian if one assumes that a Christian is a Christ-like or a little Christ.

I'm really just struggling with the masses.

To be clear, I am trusting in Jesus, and Jesus only for eternal salvation. I know that there is nothing in this wretched being worthy of heaven and can't imagine why God would love me so--but I believe He does.

And He also loves those that we love to judge for Him. He hasn't called on us to judge them. He has called on us to love them and to tell them of His great love for them.

If you are in the midst of the battle; if you are loving those that need to be loved and being judged for it-- I want to encourage you. Keep on doing what you are doing. Show them the love of Jesus. Be His voice. Be His representative. Tell them the truth...
God loves them.
Jesus died for them.

John <><