Monday, February 24, 2014

Another Grand Day at the Pulaski Association Evangelism Conference!

We are halfway through day three of the conference and I am having a great time. One of the best things about these conferences is getting to hear other evangelists preach, sing and share their stories. For the most part, we are all going in different directions and serving at different churches throughout Missouri and surrounding states and never run across each other's paths.

At conferences like this, we are showcased together for the local churches and are able to book events for the coming year. As much as these events encourage me, they also remind me that there is much work to be done.

And I also come away a little discouraged at the missing demographic--young pastors from predominately young churches.

I know that traditional revivals and crusades are a thing of the past to many of our Southern Baptist churches. However, the men and women that serve as evangelists are versatile enough to fit into the plans of any church and are gifted by God to reach the lost and motivate the church to do the work that God has set before them.

I feel particularly blessed to have a somewhat unique ministry with magic, but also feel that the call to preach is under utilized by both traditional and non-traditional churches. While I do love going to churches for events like VBS, Upwards Basketball, AWANA and other special days, there are many other ways to reach communities through simply sharing the truth of the Gospel.

In the future, I hope to be able to teach more on apologetics and help believers to become defenders of the faith. I think that there is a great need and calling for Christians to stand firm against the onslaught of criticism that we often face.

I hope that you know why you believe what you believe. I hope that your defense of your faith goes deeper than, "Well, that just what I believe!" I hope that you have settled in your own heart the questions of heaven, hell, good, evil and whether or not there is life after death. If you have questions, we have answers.

As always, feel free to send me a private message of give me a call. I serve at His good pleasure.

John <><

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Imagine My Surprise!

I arrived at St. Robert First early this morning and after reviewing my message I still had some time on my hands. I pulled out my Galaxy S3 and linked to my blog's dashboard to see what had posted in the blogs that I follow.


My reader feed had been inundated with pornographic posts from a site in Great Britain! It would have been a shock anywhere but it was especially unnerving at a church I was visiting. I'm still working on figuring out how to rid my feed from getting these posts in the future as it is not showing the address as something I subscribe to.
I have changed my passwords and notified Google.
I hope that my e-mail contacts don't start getting pornographic spam from me!

I'll keep working at cleaning things up, but wanted to get this out...just in case.

John <><

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Weekend Conference and more

It is a nice Saturday morning in the Ozarks and I'm taking just a few minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee before getting things ready for the Pulaski Association Annual Evangelism Conference.

It looks like the weather will be good for this year's conference. We've had some pretty bad years in the past. I think that I will be a little bit more ambitious about looking for bookings this year than I have been in the past. I would like to do more in the way of preaching revivals. I know that I do get calls for magic events, but would also like the opportunity to preach more often.

      * * * * * *

On the health front...

I've added a couple of apps to my phone that are helpful.
One is a pedometer and it is nice to know how many steps I take in a day. I'm a bit of a pacer so I take a good number of steps in addition to the daily walk. The other is a calorie counter that also can be set up to encourage exercise. Both are from Noom. I am using these in addition to Run Keeper that I use to keep track of walking and running. Both of these have social features and if you are using them, feel free to connect with me.

I've decided to try running again, but am going to have to have some foot issues taken care of. I managed to run a full mile on my second time out, but took a little over ten minutes to do it. I have to admit that although I was happy to complete the mile, I am a little embarrassed by the time. I am a long way from being a runner!
Oh well, some thing to work for...but I probably need to stick to walking until I take care of the foot.

Chris and I went ice skating this past week. It was my first time. I think that we will continue. At my pace, it isn't really exercise, but I'm sure that it can get to that point.

Today was day three at less than 218 lbs. That means I can claim -40 lbs since I started last June. Eating better foods keeps me from feeling hungry and eating too much. The calorie counter is helping to recognize how daily counts can climb without realizing it. I need to keep the fruits and vegetables up more than I have been. The low calorie density keeps me filled up without the calorie count. Over all, I'm pretty pleased with how things have been going.

Time to get busy! A little bit of magic tonight and preaching tomorrow morning and evening! Monday and Tuesday off work for the conference then back to ATC.

Have a great weekend! Be well!

John <><

Monday, February 17, 2014

Miscellaneous Monday

One of the grand things about an air traffic controller's schedule is that my Monday doesn't start until 3 in the afternoon. It makes coming off of the weekend and transitioning to the work week a little bit easier.

I've been spending a little less time on the internet (both via computer and cell phone) lately. About the only negative that I find is that I'm writing less and even reading fewer of the blogs that I follow. The internet can really turn into a time sucking device if you're not carefully managing it.

I have picked up a couple of new apps for my phone to help with fitness and weight-loss. To be fair, they mostly help me keep track of what I'm doing and don't really add a lot to my programs, but it is fun to have something to look at when it comes to checking your progress.

Noom has several apps. I'm using the pedometer and weight-loss coach. If you've been using them (or something similar), I'd like to hear about it. I've only been using mine for about 3 days and I'm enjoying it. I got the links from my Run Keeper app. Both have features that allow you to share with friends. I have a few "friends" on my Run Keeper app that are no longer using it or have stopped working out and know of a few that use the app but don't use the social features. The biggest thing for me is they help keep me accountable to me. If I can see what I'm doing (or not doing), I'm more likely to stay on track.

As a matter of fact, since it's a nice morning out, I'll think I'll get my daily walk out of the way now.

Have a great Monday and a grand and glorious week!

John <><

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Goodbye, Old Friend.

He was just a grumpy old man.
To be fair, that was just my take on the old guy. He had never really acted grumpy. He had never said anything harsh or mean to anybody that I knew of. He just sat in his pew at church and had that look--kind of expressionless. You know, the kind of look that can make and old man look...well, grumpy.

After a while, he was given a job--a greeter at the door to the sanctuary!

It turned out that he was pretty good at it. He had a smile and greeted everybody that came through his door. It was as if having a job gave him some ownership of the church. He had a sense of pride in welcoming people to our church--his church.

One Sunday morning, as I was entering the sanctuary to greet our members and visitors, I shook his hand and then turned to go. He held on to my hand and said, "I want to talk to you!"

When he said it, it came out rough, like the grumpy old man that I once thought he was. There was no smile on his face and it looked like I'd done something to anger him. Then he said, "I used to think that you were the biggest fake in the place, but that's really you, isn't it?"

I wasn't sure what he was talking about and asked him about it. He said something about me being genuine as I smiled and greeted people each week. I remember telling him that I'm generally in a pretty good mood when I come to church and enjoy making people feel welcome.

That's when he smiled! It lit up his whole face and it seemed as if the crusty old man face fell away. Then he pulled me in by my still clasped hand and threw is other arm around my neck and hugged me. I've had a handshake and a hug from Ed every Sunday that he's been on duty since that morning.

Last week my old friend suffered a stroke. After clinging to life for a few days, yesterday he went to meet his Lord and Savior.

Tomorrow afternoon, our Hopedale family will gather to offer our condolences to the family and say our final farewells.

I'm going to miss my Sunday morning hugs.

John <><

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Checking Out...

It's been more than a week since I've posted and I'm pretty much forcing myself to write today.

I've been feeling a little disconnected lately. Maybe my priorities are a little bit out of whack. It seems like there is a lot attention being paid to things that I have absolutely no interest in. I didn't listen to the POTUS State of the Union Address. I didn't listen to any of the rebuttals and I didn't read anything about either one of them. It's not that I don't care about the state of the union, I just don't think that there is anything to be learned from the people that are spinning reality into their own ideal images.

I haven't watched any of the recent award shows. I don't watch movies and don't care which is the best or has the best actors, directors, producers, etc. I don't listen to a lot of current music, nor do I watch much television.

The Super Bowl will be played without me watching since I'm not really a fan of football and can't get too excited about watching the multi-million dollar commercials advertising products that I don't use or would use without them spending millions of dollars for 30 seconds of air time.

I'm beginning to realize that I have very little contact with people. Unfortunately, I'm okay with that.
As an evangelist, I've been thinking about how few people I really connect with on a daily basis. Outside of church today, I spoke with (not really talked to, just spoke with) our server at the restaurant and the cashier at the same restaurant.

That's it! One person other than Chris and the folks at church.
Tomorrow it will be Chris and a couple of people at work.
Truthfully, I probably connect with more people through sharing here at Out of My Hat than I do in any other forum. And this is pretty one-sided and there are only a precious few that read my rantings.

I'm not really sure how to go about connecting with more people in a relational way. Most people would never put me in an introvert box, but I fit quite nicely into that profile. As comfortable as I am in a large group, I generally prefer to be alone. I am not shy when it comes to speaking to people (even strangers) and rarely feel awkward initiating a conversation, but I would rather be alone with my thoughts or with a book (somebody else's thoughts).

The evangelism conference of last week, along with some other situations, has me trying to be more aware of the terrible problems that people are facing and feeling alone as they face them. A couple of weeks ago, I started with the intention of letting people know how much they mean and have meant to me. I've managed to send a few notes out to people. I think that maybe I need to expand my notes of encouragement to include people that just need a kind word or uplifting thought. As much as I want to thank those that have encouraged me, it seems fitting that I would try to be an encouragement to others.

Every once in a while, we need that reality check. I'm just not too sure about what reality is like anymore. I don't think that the reality that the news media promotes is real. I don't think that our politicians (of either party) have a clue about the realities that their constituents live in. I don't believe in the reality of beautiful, sexy, thin people that advertising agencies promote. I don't believe in the reality where success is measured by the biggest office, the largest home or the most sporty car. I don't believe in a reality that always places self at the pinnacle and is only concerned with achieving personal goals.

Before any of us can experience a reality check, we first have to know what is real!

Maybe I just need to check out from the realities of the world. Maybe it's time to assess reality (at least my reality) according to the reality of the Bible. I know that I often fail to live up to the standards set by Jesus. But in spite of what others may say about the Bible being a myth of its own, it is the only reality that makes sense to me. I don't think that living in a biblical reality is going to make me into a nut case or turn me into a religious zealot of some kind. I do believe that it will make me a better man to be around.

It may be that I'll have to place a little less importance on the things that I really like (Jesus before Cardinal baseball? Say it isn't so!) and a little more importance on seeing people through His eyes. If there are people that cross my path each day that are struggling with life, don't I owe it to them (and to God) to offer them the hope that is found a relationship with God through Jesus?

I think I'm going to have to check out of all of the realities that the world is presenting to me and go with the reality that says this world is not my home. I'm going to continue this journey as a traveler. I'm going to share stories of my home and my Father with the people I encounter. I'm going to invite others to travel with me as I head towards my home.

What is life like in your reality?
Do you want to experience my reality? His reality?

John <><