Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring is here and summer is on its way!

It is the first day of Spring!

For what ever reason, I am up before the sun on this first morning of spring. Maybe I'll make my way outside to watch the sun come up -- maybe not. Even though the Vernal Equinox is just a celestial event that marks the beginning of the season, I am very pleased to acknowledge its arrival.

Along with the first day of spring, baseball season is just around the corner and plans are in the making for summer camps and events! I've already got several camps scheduled for the late spring and early summer, as well as a summer wedding and a daycare magic show!

I'm thinking that if you are planning a summer event -- camp, revival, summer school events, whatever -- you should probably contact me to save your dates.
I also have a few personal events on the calendar that I'll be guarding with care -- a family reunion in late July and this summer's total eclipse in August. I'm sure that there will also be several baseball games and a motorcycle trip or two!

Retirement ain't for the lazy!
It's too bad that I'm not more organized. I could accomplish so much more!

In other springtime activities, I managed to build a raised bed garden and get a few plants started. There is still more to do and I have some flowers to plant, as well.

Happy first day of Spring!

John <><

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cell Phone Service Survey

I know people's choices for cell phone providers is often a regional choice.
I know that many service providers contract with one (or more) of the primary cell phone providers.
I'm interested in your choice and why you choose it.

In particular, I'm interested to see if anyone uses Project fi and what you think of it.
My kid's use it and love it.
I use Google for most online activity -- Blogger for blogging, gmail for email, Google chrome for browsing, I use a chromebook for most access, and have Chrome cast on my televisions. I suppose using Google as a cell phone provider would make sense, too.

This is a pretty unscientific poll because it isn't targeted to a specific demographic, nor will I know how many people read and don't respond (although I imagine it will be most of you).
Anyway, if you don't mind, please leave a comment with your provider and (if you feel like it) a little review on your service.

We currently use AT&T and have for quite some time.

John <><

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tri-county Baptist Association Evangelism Conference

I'm sitting in Starbucks, sipping on my regular drink (any guesses?) and getting ready for the morning session of the evangelism conference. Yesterday we heard some really great messages as eight of our evangelists shared from The Word and from their hearts.
The day and evening sessions were also filled with songs of praise from our music evangelists.

Today will be eight more messages (4 in the morning session and 4 in the evening session) and more music. Tonight will be my turn at preaching to the preachers. I am glad that I drew an evening session as there will more of the laity in attendance than at the day sessions. I feel like they (the lay people of the churches) are more my people.
It seems weird to say that, but it is the way it is.

I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but these conferences always make me feel bad about the little work that I am doing for the advancement of the kingdom.

I'm going to head over to the church and mingle a little bit.
(I know, but it is expected.)
If you are the praying type and you are of a mind to lift up a brother, I'd appreciate your prayers before I take the pulpit tonight. I'll be on at around 6:45.

Blessings,
John <><

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Give 'em Heaven!

It's Sunday morning and we are heading to Galena MO to be with my friend Jimmy Harriss and his church. All of the evangelists will be in different Tricounty Baptist Association churches this morning. We got to hear from the music folks last night at the conference opening session and will hear from the preaching evangelists over the next two days.

But today is Sunday and we are dispersed to the churches. I know that many of the churches will be blessed to hear these guys as they share from God's word.
There are a few new guys in our group that I haven't had the opportunity to hear and I am looking forward to it. My time to preach at the conference isn't until the final session on Tuesday night. I wish I could say I was looking forward to that.

As encouragement goes, there were several people that did tell me how much they enjoy my preaching and style of sharing the Word, so I do feel good about that. And maybe that's really the key -- my style isn't to be preachy, just to share the Word with a little background and cultural application.

In any case, it's quiet time before today's church and prep time this afternoon for Tuesday's message.

To my preaching brother's, "Preach hard. Heaven hangs in the balance!"

Blessings,
John <><

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Preaching to preachers

This weekend our Tricounty Baptist Association is hosting an evangelism conference. It begins on Saturday evening with a night of music and praise from our music evangelists.
On Sunday, the evangelists will disperse to different churches throughout the association to share in their Sunday services. Monday and Tuesday will have morning and evening sessions of music and preaching at the host church, which just happens to be my home church of Hopedale.

The morning sessions largely consist of preaching to preachers.
The evening sessions should have more people from the churches in the association, and should also have a good number of preachers and church staff in attendance.
I'll be at Galena Baptist Church on Sunday morning and preaching at the conference on Tuesday evening.

It may seem a little weird to be preaching to preachers (it used feel weird, too), but the truth is that preachers need encouragement from God's word, too! It's good for all of us to be able to step back and look at what we are doing through distant eyes. We often get so focused on what we are doing that we lose the big picture of what is going on around us and we fail to adapt accordingly.
Not only do these types of conferences serve to encourage pastors in their own work, but they offer pastors an opportunity to hear some of the available evangelists and encourage them to use vocational evangelists in their local churches.

Maybe it's just the introvert in me that doesn't really look forward to these conferences.
In the end, I generally enjoy getting together with the other evangelists and hearing their encouragement. I always look forward to sharing the gospel. But...

I don't know...
It just feels funny to be marketing to get bookings to go to churches at a later date.
I do see the conferences as a good opportunity for pastors to hear the people that they would invite to come speak in their churches. I believe that pastors need to guard their pulpits with great care and surrender them to others only rarely.
But I've never been good at marketing myself in this situation. I don't want to feel like a snake oil peddler when it comes to the gospel and I often think that's what we sometimes appear to be.

In any case, I'll be preparing for this conference in the coming days, as well as preparing for a wedding in two weeks and another conference at the end of the month. In between all of that, I'll just be taking it easy, planting a garden, and living the retired life in southwest Missouri.

Give 'em heaven, brothers!

John <><

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Coffee Break!

Or maybe I should say, "Coffee! Brake!"

So I am out earlier than usual this morning because I was scheduled for a platelet donation at the Red Cross. I'm a little frustrated because I was pretty sure than our recent trip to the Dominican Republic would be a 12 month deferral but was told (when I made the appointment) that it wasn't.

It is.

No worries.
Now I have a few hours that I had set aside for the donation.
It's sunny (but cool) and I'm on my motorcycle.
It could be worse.

Back to the coffee break.

My daughter, Hannah, has been telling me of this great little coffee house in Springfield. She has several of their different roasts and even shared enough of the Ethiopian beans with her dad. It was an excellent pot of coffee! Apparently, she has also bragged of this place to her brother (former wholesale manager of Bow Truss coffee roasters) who now manages one of Chicago's busiest Starbucks. He checked them out online and found out that he and Hannah went to high school with the sons of the owners.

I decided to take this opportunity to check it out for myself.
I'm sitting in Travellers House Coffee and Tea.
The fire gives the place an inviting feeling on a chilly morning and the place is relatively busy for a weekday mid-morning time frame.

My coffee -- 16oz Americano with an extra shot -- is good, my chair is comfortable, and I am people watching as I type away on my little blog. I plan on taking some beans home with me since I'm down to just a couple of days worth of beans from our trip to the Dominican Republic.
I expect to be back here in the future. I am happy to support local businesses, especially businesses that appear to being doing great at what they do.

This coffee house appears to be quite the meeting place for business appointments and friendly get togethers. It isn't often that I stop in a coffee shop. I rarely have a meeting with someone and generally have good coffee at home. But it may be that you are looking for some good coffee or tea and need a place to meet on Springfield's south side.
Stop by and see these folks. Tell them you read about them on some guy's blog or saw a recommendation for them on Twitter.

The day is warming up and the road is calling. Time to get back on the motorcycle.
Good coffee, sunshine, motorcycle.
This is shaping up to be a beautiful day!

John <><

Monday, March 06, 2017

Just curious ...

At what point do Trump supporters realize and admit that our president is a fear mongering liar?

I'm not questioning their motives for voting for him or against Sec. Clinton.
I don't want to hear, "Yeah, but..."

I just want to hear, "Yeah, I voted for a fear mongering liar and I'm okay with it."
If you want to justify it with something like -- " I want someone that will sign the GOP bills that pass in Congress and I'm willing to deal with the consequences of putting a racist, immoral, compulsive liar into the White House to accomplish that." -- go ahead, add your reasoning.
I'm just curious.

John

I realize that this is a politically charged post. 
If you wish to respond, please do.
If you are responding on a social media platform, please limit your response to this post.

Responses to other people's comments will be deleted.

JH

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Fight like a girl!

It's an overcast and cool Sunday afternoon in the Ozarks. It's actually a nice temperature for the beginning of March. It's just that we have been spoiled by the warmer than usual weather this winter.

It isn't unexpected, but today is a pretty low energy day for Chris. Her second chemo treatment was last Wednesday and we were expecting yesterday and today to be tough days. While she endures the side effects of her treatment, I try to be here to see to her needs. Right now she just needs me to leave her alone so that she can rest.

One of the more frustrating side effects is the inability to sleep through the night. She was up several times last night and pretty tired this morning -- tired and hungry. Although she didn't feel much like going to church and interacting with people (Who does when you're feeling like crap?), we did make it out for breakfast and her daily Diet Coke fix before returning home where she is now relaxing (dozing, I hope) in her reclining chair.

If things go like the first time, tomorrow will be a better day, but she will still be pretty fatigued. She plans on being back to normal (or at least her new normal) and back to work on Tuesday.

We have had so many people that are praying for her and have been helping out with occasional meals. The cards, texts, calls, Facebook messages -- are all very encouraging and uplifting.
I received a call from a church member that is at a church where I preached in early December. That was in between the time of Chris' diagnosis and surgery. He told me that they have been praying for her since then and he wanted to see how she is doing. It was a neat call and a pick-me-up for both of us!

Thanks to all of you that are praying for us!

All-in-all, we're doing pretty well. It would be easy enough to ask "Why me?" (or us), but I am always amazed at Chris' attitude and resolve as she fights the fight. Being supportive and walking with her in the course of recovery and treatment is pretty easy by comparison. On most days, there is nothing that would indicate that she is going through anything other than walking through life, just like everyone else.

It reminds me that everybody is fighting a battle that those around them are unaware of.
So, why not just show a little compassion and kindness to the people we encounter?
You never know...

John <><

Friday, March 03, 2017

Friends and Acquaintances

It looks to be another beautiful day in the Ozarks!
The sun is shining and the day will warm up from its current temp of just above freezing to the upper 50s (that's about 14 for my Celcius friends). I've been thinking about friend relationships recently so it was fortuitous that I would get a call from a good friend to start the day.

Yesterday, a Facebook friend made reference to his perceptions of me in a very positive and complimentary way. Since our knowledge of one another and our friend relationship is built on our mutual blogging (he no longer blogs), careers as air traffic controllers, differing religious beliefs, and Facebook posts; there is a possibility that we might not really get along well in real life.
I don't think that's true, but you never really know.

Truthfully, Facebook and other social media outlets have helped us to better isolate ourselves from the world. We've (humans) always been pretty good at wearing masks and hiding parts of our lives from the people we encounter on a regular basis (i.e. coworkers knowing nothing of our personal lives, church members knowing nothing of our pet sins, neighbors not knowing of abusive behaviors, etc.), but I think the internet and its reach can allow us to build whole new personalities that are nothing at all like the people we really are.

I don't believe that most people are that deceptive, but the possibilities exist.
My Facebook friends list is pretty small and the list of friends that I actually follow is even smaller.
I'm often surprised at the people that I meet that tell me they read this blog because many people I know don't know that I write a blog.
And most that do know about it are not regular (if ever) readers of it.

I think that most of our relationships have become superficial. Maybe they've always been that way, but it seems to me that there was a time when people actually got to know one another.
Some people have good instincts about others and can make quick and accurate decisions about whether or not they want to invest time into building friendship relationships. Other have predetermined to be friends with everyone (because everyone wants to be friends with them) or friends with no one.

I think my people instincts are pretty good. I am rarely surprised by people's behavior. I suppose much of that is that I set expectations pretty low and tend to make allowances for our flawed human selves. I trust very few people and even those few would likely get passes for failure.
People are people and I am no better than anyone else when it comes to that.

Having said that, I do treasure the few close friends that I have.
If you are a social media friend, I also value our relationship and it would be nice to actually meet each other or to see each other again after the many years that have passed.
Perhaps, there are a few people out in the virtual world that would like to meet me, as well.
Perhaps, not.

Be well,
John <><

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Perhaps it has been far too long since I've posted about sharing my faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Last week was the Missouri Baptist State Evangelism conference and there will be two local conferences in the coming weeks.

Beginning March 11th, the Tricounty Baptist Association will host a number of evangelists for a Saturday through Tuesday conference. This will be the first time in a number of years that we (it's my home Association) have hosted such an event.
At the end of the month, March 25th-28th, I'll be back at the Pulaski Association Conference.

One of our local evangelist teams (husband and wife) writes and performs most of their own music.
The lyrics for one of their songs is "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."

In Christianity, the main thing should be sharing the teaching of Jesus.
We proclaim Jesus' command at the end of Matthew's gospel as the Great Commission and its instruction is that we make disciples; that we baptize them in the name of The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit; that we teach them to observe everything He has commanded.

He didn't command that we build bigger buildings, or have greater programs.
He didn't command that we hijack a political party or overtake a government.
He didn't command that we judge others or condemn them for their unbelief.
He simply commanded that we observe his commands and teach others to do the same.

Going to these conferences always has a way or reminding me of how poorly I am doing in fulfilling his commands. Like most followers, I tend to get caught up in living my life as if it were my life and often forget that I have given that over to Him.

So it is time to renew my commitment and refocus on what I need to be doing in Kingdom work. I'd like it if people would know that I am a follower of Jesus by how I act rather than because I've told them so.
Yikes! I've got a lot of work to do!

John <><