Monday, March 31, 2008

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Well today ends spring break for the kids. It was good to have Aaron home for a few days from school. He was off to Chicago to see Jenny before the week was out and spent as much of his break visiting her as visiting mom and dad. We didn't have any spring break plans because I'm too far down on the seniority list to score days off for the week. Hannah managed a couple of outings with friends but mostly complained of being bored.

On the bad side of things, we've been battling the flu for the last few days. I really started feeling bad on my Thursday night mid and left on sick leave as soon as my relief arrived. I've been a bit feverish on and off for the past few days, head congestion, cough and body aches. Chris and Hannah have been the same. We canceled plans for Friday and Saturday evenings and missed church yesterday. I think that we're coming out of it. Chris and Hannah are headed to the doctor's today. The man will just let it run its course! I should mention that my saying "flu" is purely self diagnosis in case any FAA supervisor might be reading this. I don't want to have to go see a doctor to get permission to come back to work!

For the ugly, we're hoping to be well by next weekend to make the trip across the state to visit Chris' parents. We don't want to bring any "bugs" around her mom. Her mom is at home, but in a lot of pain and pretty helpless. Don't know what else to say...

As a final note: Happy Birthday to my sister, Theresa.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Time For Everything; part 2

I am reminded of a blog-friend's recent experience with the death of his father-in-law. Soon, it seems, it will be my turn to deal with another cancer mother-in-law.

Chris' mom has been fighting cancer for some time and has been going back and forth between doing well and losing ground. At this point it's obvious that she's been losing more ground than she's been gaining. The last medical hope came in the form of a chemo treatment to which she has had a very bad reaction. Her doctors have told Chris' dad that the only thing that they can do now is to make her comfortable. An inoperable tumor is pressing on her spine and causing a great deal of pain in her legs. I'm guessing that "making her comfortable" means that she'll be too doped up on pain meds to really know what's going on around her.

Because of our faith, we believe that to be absent from this world is to be in the presence of Jesus. It is a comfort, but...there will still be a great emptiness. If you are of the mind to, please remember Chris, her mom and the rest of the family in your prayers as they deal with life and death in the coming days and weeks.

Sorry about the bummer post.


There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die...
Ecclsiastes, chapter 3

Monday, March 24, 2008

Car Troubles...continued

So Aaron has is car back and is home for spring break. The other night (Sat) on his way home from listening to a friend's band play in Springfield, he hears a loud noise from under the hood and notices that the battery light is now on and he has no power steering. I assume that he has broke a fan belt (or two) but he makes it home ok. This morning I take it to the shop and it turns out that the crank pulley is missing. It would seem that whoever owned this car last did some pretty sloppy work to be able to sell it. This was just a matter of not having tightened the bolt. Anyways, by tomorrow morning and after another couple of hundred dollars Aaron's car will be road ready once again.

Then...just before I need to leave for work, Hannah comes in and says that the Tracker won't start. This will be a simple fix as I think that it just needs a new battery, maybe just to repair the cable connection. I didn't have time to take care of it before leaving for work so for now we have four vehicles, but only two of them are operational! Maybe I'll need to saddle up the horses!

As I read what I've just written, one has to pause and think, "How bad off are we?" We are a family of four drivers with four cars to drive. I guess we've gotten pretty spoiled!


Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, " Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and he is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you.

Matthew 28:1-7


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter: the Bunny, the Egg, the Christ

It would be perfectly normal for one to wonder about the traditions of Easter. I mean there just isn't an easy way to get from the Risen Savior to bunnies and colored eggs.

As with many Christian holidays, celebrations were made to coincide with pagan celebrations. Whether it was a clandestine way to slip in a Christian celebration and avoid persecution or to quietly introduce the Christian message into a pagan culture; either way it has given us mixed traditions today.

The celebration that most closely aligned itself with the time of year that Christians celebrated the resurrection of Jesus was the Saxon celebration of their spring goddess Eastre. Her earthly form was that of a rabbit and as the goddess of spring, she also was a goddess of fertility and offspring. The giving of eggs also predates the Christian holiday and eggs were a given as a springtime gift symbolizing rebirth. They were often wrapped in gold leaf or decorated with jewels and ornamentation. Poorer families would boil them with flower petals to give them color.

Until the early fourth century, the resurrection of our Savior didn't have a regular date set aside. Constantine's Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) set the date to the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring. While the actual first day of spring may vary, for the church spring always begins on the 21st of March. Easter will always fall between March 22 and April 25.

It seems to me that it would have made more sense to tie it to the Jewish celebration of The Passover. After all, Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover when He was arrested, tried and crucified. It's funny how such an important celebration has its date and traditions based on such meaningless things. This year's Easter date misses the beginning of Passover (the fifteenth day of the month of Nissan on the Hebrew calendar) by a month.

Tonight is our musical celebration at Hopedale. I'm really looking forward to listening to our choir sing of the resurrection of Jesus. I truly hope that this weekend will find you celebrating the Risen Lord.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Guess Who I Ran Into Today?

Okay, I know that it demonstrates that I have a warped sense of humor. My wife doesn't think that it's funny at all and it's not the picture that you would want to show to your kids before Sunday morning. But in a sick sort of way, it makes me laugh.

I hope that this doesn't destroy any kind of good-guy reputation that I may have created.

Happy Easter!


Sunday, March 16, 2008


It's now Sunday evening and all I can say is Wow! What a day it has been.

This morning was an incredible service. The choir special was absolutely fantastic! The presence of the Holy Spirit was felt by everybody. The Bible says that God inhabits the praise of His people. It means that He lives in the praise of His people. We came expecting to meet with the Living God and He didn't disappoint us! As always, when you enter into the presence of God, He chooses to bless you--it is His nature to bless His children.

And bless us He did! When it came time for the invitation, a young boy and two teen aged girls came forward to profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Another family that has been out of church for some time came back this morning and the woman came to rededicate herself to serving God through Jesus.

In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells three stories that have to do with something that is lost. In each of the stories, when whatever had been lost was found there was a celebration. I thought that it would be appropriate for us to have a celebration and invited everyone to come back for the evening service, our specially called business meeting and a celebration get together for those that were lost and now were found. I promised to bring the ice cream. Several of our ladies jumped right in a took charge of setting everything up. Sure, I bought the ice cream; they went home and baked cakes! By the time I arrived at the church with the ice cream, they had everything already set up and ready to go.

After the evening service, we had a short business meeting to vote to license one of our own to the Gospel ministry. Les surrendered to God's call to preach a short time ago. He has been serving as an interim pastor at a nearby church. Les has been called to pastor at this church. Licensing is a way of recognizing the evidence of God's call and is necessary for the state to recognize the marriages performed by the minister. It was an honor to vote to proceed. On March 30th, Les will preach at Hopedale's evening service and we will present him with his license.

By the time we finished and I made my way downstairs, there were servers taking care of everything. In reality, my bringing ice cream was the smallest part of our celebration. I think that everybody enjoyed the fellowship and the celebration. I didn't even have to help with the clean up! This is truly an incredible fellowship of believers.

Thanks be to God for a really great day!


Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Time For Everything

Although Solomon didn't write about a time for rest in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, I'm sure that he would agree that we all come to the point where the thing that we really need is a time for rest.

After a week of consoling a family in their loss and grieving over the loss of a friend, Pastor Terry asked if I might be able to help by filling in for him tomorrow. I'm sure that there have been other things on his plate as well; Associate Pastor Burris in the hospital, strategic planning report due, and all of the other pressing needs of a Senior Pastor. So I'll be preaching the morning and evening services at my home church this weekend. It is really an honor to be asked to preach at Hopedale. For one thing, I know that Pastor Terry jealously guards his pulpit. He'd never turn it over to somebody that he didn't trust and I've even known him to cancel a preacher's teaching series halfway through the week when the teaching started to stray from the bible and become offensive.

For another thing, that prophet without honor in his own home doesn't generally apply at Hopedale. I enjoy preaching there as much as anywhere.

The only problem is that it was pretty short notice. I know--itinerant evangelists are supposed to have files of sermons that they can dust off and preach at a moments notice--but that doesn't always work for me. Oh you can be sure that I've preached many of my sermons more than once--I even have my favorites that I bring out whenever I'm at a church for the first time. But the sermon file is relatively small and there are times when the things that God has laid on my heart aren't covered by what is already there.

It's Saturday evening and I have the morning message ready to go. I'm still wondering about the evening message and know that I'll be spending most of tonight and the early hours of the morning on the evening message. At the end of Sunday, it will be my turn for a needed rest. If you're so inclined, I'd appreciate your prayers as I finish preparations for the day. For now, it's off to the church for youth dinner. Sermon prep will have to wait.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Fun and Games

A co-worker recently asked me about a game that I taught him years ago. It's funny that you have things that are stored up in your brain that you have forgotten about until somebody mentions something that triggers your memory. The nuances of the game came back quickly and I have been teaching the game to others once again. I can't remember where I learned it or what it's called (I'm not sure that I ever knew it by name), only that I'll always win if you let me go first.

To play the game, you'll need fifteen game pieces. They can be pennies, match sticks, toothpicks, Cheerios or any other long as you have fifteen of them. Arrange them in three rows; three in one row, five in another and the remaining seven in the last row. Why not call the game 3-5-7?

x x x
x x x x x
x x x x x x x

Two players take turns removing items. On each turn a player may take as many or as few (at least one) items from any one row. The player that takes the last item loses. The player that goes first has an advantage; it is his game to win or lose. If he makes no mistakes, he will win. Eventually, you will find that there are certain combinations that are winners if you can leave them for your opponent. It is a fun way to spend a few moments and similar to playing Tic Tac Toe except that there are no draws.

Have fun with it. Take turns going first until one of you figures it out; then let the other person go first every time.

If there are any gamers out there, post your comment by removing some of the x's from any one of the rows. I'll take my turn in response.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Good bye, Good Friend

Early Monday morning, my good friend Steve lost his battle with cancer. In the short eleven years that I've known Steve, he has grown an incredible amount. When we first met at Hopedale Baptist Church, Steve would barely speak in Sunday School class and although he was far from shy, he didn't talk to too many people one on one either.

I remember when he decided that it was time for him to read through the Bible. He really began to grow in his Christian faith and began to share in small groups in class. As he grew in spiritual maturity, others noticed and it wasn't too long before he was ordained to serve as a Deacon.

Steve continued to grow and loved to serve God by serving His people. He was a story teller extraordinaire! His humor and laughter was infectious. Over the years, I had a lot of breakfasts and lunches with Steve. I know that Steve truly loved Jesus and fully trusted God to take him home at the end of his struggle with cancer.

I know that he waits in heaven to greet those of us that have loved him in this life. And even though his wife Rhonda and kids Eric and Heather know that he is in heaven, I know that the coming days will be filled with grief and there will be an incredible emptiness in their lives. We will all miss him terribly.

The funeral is tomorrow. It seems that we have had far too many funerals in our Hopedale family recently. They are painful reminders that our lives are fragile and temporary. Death is a sure thing for every living being. It is my hope and prayer that each reader is as prepared to meet death as my friend Steve was; that each has made his or her peace with God by trusting in His Son Jesus. If any of you have questions about what you need to do to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour or maybe you want to know why you need to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, please write, call or comment. I'd love to tell you about my Lord...and maybe share a story or two about my friend Steve.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Trusting God

In Henry Blackaby's study Experiencing God, Blackaby tells us that God speaks to His people through His word (the Bible), through prayer, through other believers and through circumstances.

If God is speaking to me now through circumstances (and I think He is), then I am reminded that He is still in charge and will continue to provide for me and my family into retirement. The thing is this: I have been looking towards retirement and how I can supplement my retirement income by expanding into other venues of magic. Up to this point, I have mostly used magic as a tool to share the gospel. Even when I've been in public schools for "Making Good Choices" assemblies, the primary goal was to invite them to the host church for a youth night where I would be sharing about some other choices that I've made.

Late last Wednesday, I posted about how disappointed I was over not getting a gig that would give me a lot of exposure to book events outside of the church events that I primarily book. Right after that, I received an e-mail from a church about 90 minutes drive from here. The e-mail was an invitation to come and share God's plan of Salvation through His son Jesus with their afternoon VBS kids. The date is the 24th of April--just 5 days later than the gig I turned down. Now I have agreed to the church date and have no idea of what kind of monetary compensation to expect. (That's called a faith ministry.) If I were to bet on it, I'd bet that it will be the same as or more than what the last job was offering...and this one is aligned with my passion of telling people about God's love and how He wants to spend an eternity with them.

I know that many will say that it is just a coincidence or that one event had nothing to do with the other. I choose to believe that God truly does direct the paths of those that choose to follow Him and takes care of His children. I think that He is reminding me that He is sovereign and that I don't need to worry about getting bookings to keep me busy in retirement. As He has provided for me in the past, He will provide for me in the future.

So to Mike from Billions of Versions of Normal, I'll be taking the day off on the 19th and won't be in St. Louis to watch you sleep in. But on the afternoon of the 24th, I'll be in Crocker MO telling others that Jesus loves them and gave His life so that they might live forever in heaven.


Therefore I say to you, Do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Behold the birds of the air; for they sow not, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them; are you not much better than they are?
Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They do not toil, nor do they spin, but I say to you that even Solomon in his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Therefore if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much rather clothe you, little-faiths?
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, With what shall we be clothed?
For the nations seek after all these things. For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.

Jesus from
The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:25-33

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Bummed Out!

Today I had to turn down a job that I really wanted. I received a call from The Children's Choir of Southwest Missouri to perform at their annual concert. This would have been a great opportunity to perform at wonderful venue and get some really good publicity. The problem for me is twofold.

First of all it would require a huge modification in what I would normally do as far as performance. Every effect would have to be angle proof due to a choir beside me, the audience before me and a balcony above me. The effects would also need to be quick (about a minute in length) and memorable enough not to be considered a distraction. I know that many magicians perform without patter (talking) and use background music while they perform each magical effect. I, however, am a story teller. For the most part, I perform to teach as well as entertain. In a forty minute school assembly on making good choices I may only use eight effects. In a typical church venue I would use six or seven effects for a half hour program. I am afraid that trying to distill each effect down to a minute or so would reduce the magic to a trick.

The second problem comes in that the concert is April 19th. If I were a full time performer and could devote the time to retooling my act or finding new effects to present, it would still be a challenge. As it is, I have a full-time job, two other performances in March and a five day revival the week before the concert. All of this in addition to the normal deacon's meeting, three meetings for the Tri-County Baptist Association, Spring Break, Easter, etc., etc., etc.

I feel bad that I am unable to help them but hope that they realize that they have been planning this event for some time. They secured their MC (local TV personality, Ned Reynolds) some time ago. I, too, need the time to prepare for the event. I wouldn't want to present their audience with a mediocre product and wouldn't for anybody to think of me as a mediocre magician. It's a case of no publicity being a far better thing than poor publicity.

I wish them success in finding a magician that can meet their needs and help to make the evening a memorable one for the audience. However, the audience is really there to hear the wonderful music of their children. In the end, that is what the evening is all about. Perhaps, you'll even find me in the audience!


Monday, March 03, 2008

Weekend Notes

Another fine weekend has come and gone. Actually, Saturday was pretty much of a wasted day since I was pretty wasted myself. After working the midnight shift from Thursday night to Friday morning, I usually try to stay up and busy with minimal sleep to get back on schedule for the weekend and normal sleeping hours. This turned out to be not such a good idea as I ended up being called in for an overtime midshift from Friday night to Saturday morn. After going the additional day with only a few hours sleep, I slept from about 8 am to 4 pm on Saturday. Chris and Hannah went to a movie Saturday night and I was left to veg-out in front of the TV alone.

Sunday, however, was another fine day. It was windy and warm and I had a great time. I was preaching in the morning at Living Waters Community Church in Nixa MO. Although I have been there several times in the past, this was the first time that I was there to preach. Living Waters is currently without a pastor and will be filling their pulpit from week to week or perhaps using an interim pastor until they call a new pastor.

Sunday night found me at my home church for just the second time in six weeks. We had a visiting music group--The Pitman Trio--as guests and they did a wonderful job of singing and praising God with great harmony and song. I hope that they were blessed to come and worship with us. I know that we were blessed by their presence at Hopedale.

Unless I get a last minute call to be away next Sunday morning, I'll be at Hopedale for the first Sunday morning in seven weeks. God has been good to me, blessing me with many opportunities to be sharing the Good News, but I do miss the friends (really family) that I have at Hopedale.

This week I'll need to find out about Aaron's car, see where the adjustment for hail damage on our roof is at and take care of what seems to be a million other nagging details of life! Time to get busy!