Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Walking in Memphis

I am writing this afternoon from a computer in the main branch of the Memphis Public Library. I am here in Memphis to work on proceedures for the new airport that is being built in Branson, MO. The airport will be in our airspace but will require proceedures and coordination with Memphis Center due to the proximity to their airspace.

Today's meeting went well, much better than I had expected. Hopefully, we will wrap things up tomorrow and be able to get back a day ahead of schedule.

The reason that I am at the library is because I left my laptop at home. It was not intentional. It was packed up and ready to go and I just left it! Bummer for me. Anyway I wanted to get caught up on reading e-mail and your blogs so I found the library and figured to spend some time here before dinner. I did have a great lunch at some BBQ place that the center guys took us to. The pulled pork and the dry rub ribs were excellent.

On to your blogs for now. I'll have a longer post when I'm back at home.


Friday, June 20, 2008


I have had a great week!

Let's start with Sunday. I had the much anticipated opportunity to preach the morning service at Branson's Skyline Baptist Church. It was as much fun as I was expecting it to be. It is a great environment to have church. The auditorium was built as a dinner theater and is quite comfortable. The theater seating give everybody an excellent view and the stage area gives plenty of room to walk as I preach. (The pulpit only serves as a place to set my Bible and notes as well as a kind of centering device that keeps me from wandering too far!)

After church, it was a Father's Day lunch and later in the afternoon we went to Jenny's home (Aaron's girlfriend) for steaks cooked on the grill, the fixin's to go with the steaks, some time relaxing in the pool and visiting with friends. The rain and storms missed us and it was a fine afternoon/evening. (We didn't find the hail damage on our cars left at home until the next day!)

Wednesday I made the trip to Potosi MO for the youth camp (192 miles each way). It was a long day but I really had a great time. I always hope that the audience has as much fun as I do! Things got just a little behind (as they seem to do when you get down to the end of the day) and my part started a little bit later than planned. I ended up getting home at just past 2 am and up at 5 for work. I expected to be tired but felt pretty energized most of the day. I managed a little nap in the afternoon before heading back to work the midnight shift.

I'll be getting an estimate on the hail damage sometime today and trying to get some things done prior to the weekend. I also read a really good book this week. More on that in another post.

The Midwest continues to get pounded by storms. An EF-1 tornado took the roof off of a furniture store in Springfield on Thursday and dropped some baseball sized hail. We have been getting lots of rain and much of the Midwest is flooded. It would be nice to catch a few sunny days so I can get the grass cut!

I hope that your week has been as great. If not, there's always next week!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Givers and Takers

Ever notice how some people are givers and others are takers. As an observer of human behaviors, I am convinced that a balance of the two is difficult at best and impossible for most.

Takers come in different varieties. Some are aggressive takers--purposely taking from others for their own advancement or benefit. Some of these are even malicious--not caring if somebody is hurt in the process. Some takers are unaware of their steady drain on the world around them. They choose to believe that everybody takes and this is just the way life is--for everybody. High maintenance people would fall into this category. Although many of them recognize that they are high maintenance, few would admit to being takers.

My favorite takers are the passive-aggressive type. The disguise themselves as givers but what they are really taking is attention. Doing good for recognition. They are hurt and whiny when nobody notices all of the good things that they have done and they are not going to snap out of their little pity party until somebody pats them on the back and tells them what a great person they are.

Takers seem to have an endless amount of energy to continue with the lifestyle of taking. No wonder--they take everything, including energy.

Givers, on the other hand, sometimes tire of giving. While it may be a part of their character to give, they forget that they need to have rest or a time to resupply or re-energize themselves. Compulsive givers will feel guilty about not having anything to give and will try to give anyway. Givers sometimes feel that nobody loves them. They are the ones that are there for their friends when a friend is needed but often feel that nobody is there for them. Of course, givers seldom want to burden their friends with problems and so nobody knows when the giver is in need. It seems that some givers are very lonely people...but nobody notices or would imagine that they are lonely. They tend to recharge on their own. Sometimes it's through rest. Sometimes it's a spiritual recharging. Sometimes it just takes time.

Where some givers will have the occasional desire to be a taker; takers rarely desire to be givers. There has to be a balance...for everybody.

I'm not a proponent of communism by any means, but...if it were ever able to achieve its highest level in society, then the Marxism "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs," would work. We have to remember that we all have needs. We also have to recognize that we all have the ability to contribute to the needs of others.

If you've been blessed, give accordingly. If you have a need, see that it it gets met. I don't believe that anybody would proudly claim, "I'm a drain on society!" Nobody has to always be a taker.

Be healthy. Be balanced.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

More on Religion and Politics

There is an interesting (all right, interesting may not be the best word here) debate going on over at Blogalogue. It's a site by Belief.net and hosts internet debates on varying subjects having to do with religion. The current topic is How Would God Vote?

Right off I can say that it is pretty arrogant for anybody to say that they know how God would vote. Of course, one of the debaters accepts that role--not only knowing how God would vote but also telling you how you should vote. He's an idiot. However, I'm used to reading things written by idiots; I work for the FAA. At some point you just read the rants for the entertainment value (as little as it may be).

Check it out. At least one side seems reasonable and well thought out.


Yesterday, my impatience actually benefited me in a great way. It saved me from two quarter pound, double cheeseburgers from Hardee's and all of the associated health maladies. I pulled into Hardee's on my way to work the mid-shift at the tower. There were two cars ahead of me in the drive thru, apparently they had just got there since the first guy was just starting his order.

First driver: I'll have a #3 (combo) with extra mushrooms.

Voice from the speaker: Would you like that small, medium or large?

Driver: Hold on...(He pulls his head back into the car, turning to ask the person with him. After a moment...) Medium.

Speaker: Curly fries or regular fries?

Driver: Hold on...(He pulls his head back into the car, turning to ask the person with him. After a moment...) Curly fries.

Speaker: What would you like to drink?

Driver: Hold on...(He pulls his head back into the car, turning to ask the person with him. After a moment...)Diet Coke.

Speaker: Anything else?

Driver: Uhhhhhhh, yeah. (pause) Give me a #9 (combo).

Speaker: Would you like that medium, also?

Driver: Uhhhhhhh, yeah.

Speaker: Curly fries or regular fries?

Driver: Uhhhhhhh, curly.

Speaker: What would you like to drink?

Driver: Uhhhhhhh, diet coke.

At this point I'm beginning to wonder if I'm going to be able to make it to work on time. Mercifully, the guy is finished with his order and pulls ahead.

Speaker: I can take your order when ever you're ready.

Driver 2: Do you still have the two double cheeseburgers for $3? (This question comes in spite of the sign on the marquis "1/4 pound double cheeseburgers, 2 for 3 dollars" and the huge posters in the windows on all sides of the building.)

Speaker: Yes, we do.

Driver 2: Hold on...

As she pulled her head into the car to discuss this fastfood revelation with her passenger I pulled out of the line and headed on to work. My heart and arteries are grateful to the drive through customers at Hardee's.

In this instance, it was Impatience that was a virtue!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

June 13

On June 13, 2005, Michael Jackson was found not guilty on all 10 counts of child molestation.

(How do you know it's bedtime at Michael Jackson's house?
It's when the big hand touches the little hand.)

On Friday the 13th of June, 1997, Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death for his part in the Oklahoma City bombing.

On June 13, 1983, Pioneer 10 became the first man-made object to leave our solar system.

On June 13, 1970, " The Long and Winding Road" became the Beatles' last number 1 hit song.

On June 13, 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first African American to be nominated to the United States Supreme Court.

On June 13, 1966, The United States Supreme Court rule in Miranda vs. Arizona that police must inform suspects of their rights before questioning them.

On June 13 1960, John Anthony Hill was born to Jerry and Leticia Hill. He weighted in at an even 8 pounds and was greeted by what was to be the first of many swats on the bottom.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sensitivity and Sensibility

This has been an interesting week. I believe that I have learned a lot about sensitivity and sensibility.

The week began with a kind of "death watch" (I know, that's insensitive) as Chris' mom held on to life only because her body had not yet exhausted its reserves of life sustaining energy. Chris and the kids had planned to visit and were getting ready to leave Saturday morning (a week ago) when the call came that her mom had gotten worse and that the end was near. Her other sisters were called so that they could make arrangements to come and say their good byes.

I was scheduled to preach at Hopedale the following day and be Camp Pastor at a camp last week. As you might expect, Chris wanted me to change my plans and come with them. Now I have to admit, the sensible part of me said that people were counting on me to fulfill the commitments that I made to them and I figured that Chris' mom wasn't quite at death's door as her hypochondriac-take-another-pill sister would have everyone believe. (I know, that's also quite insensitive) However, I did the sensitive thing--made a few phone calls and bailed on the commitments that I had made in order to stand with the one that I committed to nearly twenty-seven years ago. The kids packed more clothes, I quickly put somethings together and we were on the road within a few hours.

After a couple of days, the kids and I returned home leaving Chris at her parents home. Aaron started his online summer classes and I contemplated calling the camp to see if they needed me to come out for a couple of sessions or if they had everything covered. We kept in touch with Chris and received her call that her mom died on Wednesday morning.

We were back in a hotel by Wednesday evening and spent much of the next two days doing nothing as funeral arrangements and the like were made while we tried to stay out of the way and keep from being too bored.

These things all played havoc with my sensibility meter. As a follower of Jesus, I truly believe that Shirley is in a far better place today than she was in that pain filled worn out body that she occupied until Wednesday morning. I know that we tend to cling to the people that we love and want to keep them near us forever, but isn't our love great enough to think of them instead of ourselves and our feelings?

It seems to me that if I were an atheist I would view death as a simple and unavoidable part of life. I would move on and go about living my own meaningless and futile life until it was my turn to take the big dirt nap. Death would be no big deal--just the end of life.

The funny thing is I'm not an atheist. I believe in a loving God and an eternal soul. And I view death as a simple and unavoidable part of life. But I do believe that our souls live on and I believe that for a soul that has trusted Jesus for salvation, we live on in heaven--in the presence of God. I think that we should move on and go about living our lives with purpose--His purpose, until its our turn to be called into His Divine Presence. Death would be a big deal--it would be the beginning of a new and better life!

I learned a lot this week about sensitivity. I watched as people came to give comfort and encouragement to Chris and her family. I watched as people put their own lives on hold to see to the needs of a grieving family. I watched as friend after friend called to offer help, to bring meals, to make arrangements, to babysit little ones, to offer comfort and to just sit quietly with my father-in-law. Our pastor and his wife drove across the state to show their love and offer their encouragement and support to Chris and her family. Chris' best friend and husband also made the long trip...just to be with a friend in a difficult time. Aaron and Hannah were great! They never complained even though I know that they must have been incredibly bored most of the time.

It is amazing how a little bit of sensitivity can give an incredible amount of strength and endurance. A simple card in the mail, a word, a thought expressed, a prayer all seem to have a life giving effect. It's hard to use the word sensible when it really makes no sense at all--at least not in a world with no God.

In the Bible, Jesus said that others will know that we are His disciples by the way that we love one another. This week, the love that was shown to Bob, Chris and her sisters was more than just encouragement. It was a testimony that God is still sovereign. It was a reminder that Shirley is in good hands--His hands. It was a call to sensitivity...for me.

Apparently, even when it makes no sense, sensitivity is the most sensible thing.

I really wanted to meet Mike at Ted Drewe's...but somehow it seemed that my wife might think me insensitive. I did manage some of the heavenly custard, but it was with family and friends that had come to offer their support. Ah well, there will be another time!

Chris and her sisters are writing out thank you cards and we'll soon be heading home. It has been a long week. In the end, I think that I've gained quite a bit of knowledge about the ministry of presence and the value of friendship. The real test will be putting it into practice.


Friday, June 06, 2008

Talking Heads

With the Democratic nomination now sewn up it would only be natural for one to think that a post entitled Talking Heads would have something to do with politics. But then you remember where you are and realize that John likes to play with words.

I received a call the other day from my friend that owns three of the magic shops in Branson MO. He owns the shops at the Imax Theater, Celebration City and Silver Dollar City. Recently, he acquired a crystal ball. Apparently they have been playing with some technology that will allow them to project a video image into the crystal ball and are wanting to use that as a crowd gathering device in the Celebration City store.

When thinking about what fine looking head they could get to use...they were completely stumped. When they shifted to thinking about a story teller and a real character, they thought of yours truly.

Currently they are working on scripts and effects for the talking head and I am really looking forward to the video recordings.

Coming soon to a crystal ball near you...

I'll keep you posted.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sad News

This morning I am writing from the lobby of a hotel in Festus, MO. Chris and the kids are getting around and we'll be meeting with her sisters, their families and her dad for breakfast in a bit.

Chris' mom ended her long battle with cancer on Wednesday morning. The funeral will be on Saturday. Chris has been here since last Saturday. The kids and I returned home Monday evening and then drove back yesterday after Chris' call. I don't know what today will hold since most of the arrangements have already been made.

Mike, you can expect a call and a trip to Ted Drewe's either today or tomorrow. (I did manage a late trip to TD's Sunday night but didn't know if I should call at 11pm.)

I know that the coming days will be hard for my father-in-law. They were married for 50+ years. It is such a cool thing tho see the outpouring of love from their friends and church family. I'll have to make it a point to keep in touch with Chris' dad more over the coming weeks and months.

I hate to leave you with such a downer post so when you have a few minutes (like 14) take a look at this video. Grab a Kleenex or two and think about the impact that you might have on the lives of the people that you encounter every day.

Live well,