Monday, December 1, 2008

Ignorance...or disregard?

We've all heard the saying, "Ignorance is bliss." The other day I discovered that I often misuse that phrase and I would bet this is the case with most of us. Here's what I mean.

I went to a local grocery store the other day and pulled into a parking spot near the cart island. There was an empty cart sitting next to, but OUTSIDE, the cart island! Ignorance or disregard?

In the same parking lot (and on the same trip) as I sat in my pick-up truck waiting for my wife, a man driving another pick-up pulled into the spot next to mine, leaving only about 2 feet between our vehicles. As the man exited his truck, he swung his door open, hitting my truck. Fortunately his door had one of those plastic trim pieces that actually made contact with my vehicle, so it didn’t leave a mark. However, it did hit hard enough to make an audible noise that I heard from inside my truck, over the music playing loudly. The man then closed his door and went into the store as if nothing happened. Was this ignorance or disregard?

Whenever I go to any of the large stores that provide “cart islands” I always try to park next to or near the cart island, so I don’t have to go far to get rid of the cart once I’m done with it. So the other day, I parked next to a cart island at Wal-Mart. As Joan and I returned to our vehicle with our purchases, I noticed a woman unloading her cart into her vehicle that was parked next to the cart island opposite of us. After we unloaded our cart and placed the cart inside the cart island, we got into the truck and sat there for a minute watching this woman. I kid you not, she finished unloading her cart, got into her vehicle, and pulled away leaving the cart she had used set exactly where she finished with it; 4 FEET AWAY FROM THE CART ISLAND! Yes this really happened! Was this ignorance or disregard?

I have one more thing to mention. I was caught speeding the other day, an offence for which I was cited. Afterward I thought about my response to the officer when he asked if I knew why I was pulled over. I was convicted of my response and the truth is that I was blatantly speeding. Was this ignorance or disregard?

Conclusion: the dictionary defines ignorance as the condition of being ignorant; the want of knowledge in general, or in relation to a particular subject; the state of being uneducated or uninformed. In all the cases mentioned none of us were uneducated or uninformed, so therefore we cannot plead ignorance. The truth is that in each of these situations the offender completely disregarded anything or anyone around them. The man that hit my pick-up knew full well that he did it, but chose to continue on like nothing had happened. The woman parked next to the cart island knew full well where she was parked, but disregarded this fact and proceeded complete disregard for others. And yes, I completely disregarded the law being fully aware of the speed limit!


Ignorance? Absolutely not!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The words of my Son...

I found this poem in my office while rifling through some papers. My son, Billy, wrote this several years ago. I find hope in these words. I hope you will too.

Lord, I've run out of places to turn
I guess I've run out of excuses
To make it feel okay
Running out of time
My life feels like it's going nowhere
I'm lost and blind
Oh but now I realize
I know I can hear you say:

I've already been there
I know what its like
To feel so broken
That you think there's nowhere left to go
But I'll always be there
To catch you

(written by William Howard II)

Jesus said: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

My son's words remind me of this. He's there, waiting for us to turn (return?) to Him. We want to find rest for our soul, yet we turn to things of this world. My wife and I went to Las Vegas this past week for a little R & R, but our souls were not fulfulled. It was good to hang with some old friends, but it was not fulfilling.

Lord forgive me for turning to the world to find rest, comfort and fulfillment. You are the only One who can provide the kind of deep rest our souls long for. Your word says that you dwell in him who is contrite and lowly in spirit; to revive the the lowly in spirit and revive the heart of the contrite. My prayer today is that you would make me contrite and lowly in spirit to the point of desperation; so desperate that THE only place I can turn is upward!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What were you thinking?

I had resigned myself a couple weeks ago to the fact that Barrack Obama was more than likely going to win the election, but I still have to say this. I pose this question to those of you who voted for Obama: What were you thinking? Barack Obama has very little executive experience, having only served 7 years in the Illinois State Senate, and 2 years in the U.S. Senate. This fact alone should have kept him out of the Whitehouse.

Obviously Obama was not my choice. In fact, McCain was not my preferred candidate. I would have preferred to see Mike Huckabee in the Whitehouse. But, like it or not, Barack Obama will be our president and we as American citizens must unite behind him. We may not like decisions made during his term as our president and we have the right to express this, but we must not turn into some disgruntled citizen. Remember the Dixie Chicks derogatory statements toward President Bush? We weren't to happy about that. Were we to make similar comments about President Obama, we'd be stooping to that same level.

My son used to where a tee shirt with an imprint of the statement, "He's not my president," referring of course to President Bush. This is far from the truth. If you are an American Citizen, the President of the United States of America--regarless of how you voted--is your president. You're welcome to express your displeasure with policy, but you can't go around saying he's not your president, because it's not true.

I'm not happy that Obama was elected, but I'll get over it. God knew what He was doing in allowing this and I have to trust that God will carry out his plan, whatever it is.

Oh, one more thing. If you didn't vote in this election, then I urge you to hold your complaints about the new president. You really don't have any right to complain if you didn't participate in the process.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The "Tradition Idol"

I recently read a novel called “Outcasts of Skagary” by Andrew Clarke, which by the way is a very good read! As in most novels, the first couple chapters are spent setting the story line and characters. The first theme I picked up on was that the people of Skagary were in effect, worshipers of tradition. “Skagars” were subject to scorn or outcast if they did not adhere to traditions handed down through the generations.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about tradition and how we in the church tend to “worship” tradition. How often, especially in church, do something a particular way because that’s the way it’s always been done? At many evangelical churches, we have a particular way in which we conduct our worship services. Many of the things we do during the services are things that have been done a particular way for very many years. The music taken from a hymnal and was accompanied by either organ or piano. Hymn singing was followed by a sermon preached from behind a pulpit. After the sermon there might have been a closing hymn, such as “the Doxology.” And most people showed up for church wearing their “Sunday best.”

Now we fast forward a few years. Someone, usually a Pastor, welcomes members and guests. After a couple announcements, the Pastor prays as the ushers prepare to pass the offering plates. Then after a few minutes of “meet and greet” time, the Worship Team comes up to the stage and we begin leading the congregation in singing. The music is either original worship songs, or new arrangements of old hymns. Either way, the music is lead by a band consisting of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, piano and some vocalists. When the music is finished, the Pastor comes up for some teaching from God’s Word. As the Pastor teaches, he often moves around the stage. After the teaching (preaching) time, the pastor often does an “alter call” in which he invites people to come forward to pray or to be prayed for. Sometimes the Worship Team leads in a closing song.

Though I can’t speak for all churches, I can attest to a certain amount of resistance to this newer, more modern way of conducting worship services. I’ve heard complaints about the music style or the preaching style and I’ve also heard of complaints about the way people are dressed. One Sunday, after doing some southern gospel style music, an elderly woman in the congregation shouted, “Now that’s the way church is supposed to be.” I would call this an attitude of “tradition worship.”

Whenever we begin to see attitudes that say the old way is the right way; or the way we’ve always done it is the right way; or the old fashioned organ playing, hymn singing music is the right way; and all other ways are wrong, I think we're crossing over into tradition worship. I think we need to be careful that we do not become so hung up on tradition that we would consider any other way would be wrong. Remember, Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 that “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Look, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t honor certain traditions. Tradition has its place in the church. For instance, the observance of Communion is one tradition that should remain unchanged because it is commanded by Jesus Christ himself. What I am saying is that when tradition becomes an “idol” we need to search our heart and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any hard-heartedness in our attitude and to change our heart if we are indeed worshiping tradition.


In the land of “Skagary” the elders were so adamant about following the traditions established in past generations that they were willing to even kill the outcasts to avoid losing their power and to keep the old traditions from being abolished. I do not mean to say that we’d be willing to do the same, but I do wonder how far we’d be willing to go to keep old traditions alive. Interesting to think about is it not?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Where do we go from here?

Today I wrote an email to my brother Brian with the purpose of encouragement. You see, about 19 months ago, his beloved wife of 17 years Cathy passed away due to brain cancer. She was diagnosed with the cancer in November of 2006 and passed away February of 2007. He’s still in shock and is really having a hard time moving on. I wrote these words hoping to encourage him and after reading it, thought that other might also be encouraged. Read on.

I was thinking about Steven Curtis Chapman and the recent tragedy in his family, in which their youngest adopted daughter Maria was accidentally struck and killed in the drive way at their home. I don't think there could be anything worse than that. Check out this link to their blog pages and check them out. I thought maybe reading the blogs or viewing Steven's video blogs might help you some. I know it encourages me. I think God wants us to be about his work, but when we're so caught up in ourselves that everything around us is (not purposely) ignored, that can't happen. Here's something that I'm pretty sure the Holy Spirit laid on my heart the other day:

God allows trials in our lives to grow us and he gives us the tools to handle them. How we handle trials depends on the whether we are internally or externally focused. When we're self-focused, trials begin to resemble a personal assault from God (How dare he make me go through this!) and we get angry and in turn become ineffective Christians. When we're externally focused, that is focused on God (and his work), those trials become a chance to
glorify God and advance his kingdom, and we become more spiritually mature in the process.


I've been struggling with anger at myself and at God for the way my life has turned out. I didn't really do anything I really wanted to do. I've always lived in the current moment, but lived for myself. I've never had anything to look forward to because I've always been so caught up in myself that I couldn't see beyond the end of my own nose. I've wasted so much time doing stupid unproductive stuff and being angry at the world and God because it didn't turn out the way I wanted it to. Mid-life crisis? Probably. And for you, the mid-life crisis is exacerbated by the untimely and unfair passing of your wife.

Oh how I wish I would have had the faith 30 years ago to believe the God-breathed words written by Paul in Romans 5:1-5. "Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts
with his love
."

A very wise friend and counselor told me that mid-life regret is very real, but the key thing is how we respond to it. We can choose to throw up our hands and say, "what's the use" and turn back to our old ways of doing things. Or we can allow God to change us for the better and follow Him into the future.


So where do we go from here? I'm sure the answer is pretty clear by now. I hope this has encouraged you. Thanks for reading. Blessings.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lines in the Sand

I was perusing my high school yearbooks the other day for a photo of a former classmate who recently posted a message on my Classmates page. I remember his name, but don’t remember much else about him. But it got me wondering about all the people I could have known but didn't. Why is that?

You probably recall what it was like in high school. In my school there were three types of kids. I gave them these names: the “haves,” the “could haves”, and the “have-nots.”


The “haves” were the jocks, cheerleaders, and other kids whose parents were pretty well-to-do. These were the “popular” kids and most of the time they were cruel and unkind to the “could haves” and the “have-nots.” Some of them were good athletes and some were not. Some were good musicians, vocalists or actors and some were not. Some were straight A students and some were not. However most all of them were popular merely because they’re parents were in the higher income bracket.

The “have-nots” were the kids who came from the other side of the tracks and in my small home town of Willard, Ohio this was a literal term. I think we called it the “East side”; although I don’t know why, because the part of town that most of the have-nots lived in was actually north of the main railroad line that ran through town. Some of them were good athletes and some were not. Some were good musicians, vocalists or actors and some were not. Some were straight A students and some were not. But most were “unpopular” merely because they’re parents were much less well-to-do than others.

Then there were what I have termed the “could-haves.” These were kids who sort of teetered between the haves and the have-nots. Some of them were good athletes and some were not. Some were good musicians, vocalists or actors and some were not. Some were straight A students and some were not. Their parents were in the middle income bracket and lived in the areas of town that were between the Eastside and the newer homes. None of them had any particular advantage over others.

I’m not sure why we drew lines in the sand except to say that we all tended to gravitate towards others in similar situations. We were all above average in some ways and below average in other ways; but most were average (see the italicized descriptions above). We all wanted to have some degree of popularity. None of us liked others looking down their noses at us as it made us feel less than important. What was it that makes us want to be better than others?

As I looked through my old year books I couldn’t help but wonder who people were; but not merely because I of the 30 year time span between then and now. I wondered what it might have been like if we hadn’t drawn lines in the sand. I think we all wanted desperately to belong in some way. How different might it have been if we all realized that we were all God’s children and made in his image: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27) This is the one thing that we all had in common and still do to this day.

Friday, July 18, 2008

In the Distance

Today I was flipping through an old accordion file folder that had a bunch of guitar chord charts I had hand written over the years, looking for a particular song and I ran across some poetry I had written quite a few years ago. I wrote in this one March of 1991. I was at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, living in a tent. We were there in support of Operation Desert Storm. As I read the verses, I was trying to remember exactly what I was thinking at the time. I guess the poem gives a pretty good idea. At the time I didn't title the poem, but I think "In the Distance" works.


In the distance I hear a heart beat
I wonder what life force it will bring
Will it be that of hope
Only the life bringer knows

In the distance I hear the thunder
I wonder what storm it will bring
Will it be a storm of hope
Only the storm maker knows

In the distance I hear the rain
I wonder what gift it will bring
Will it be a gift of hope
Only the rain maker knows

In the distance I hear the cries
I wonder what message they bring
Will they be cries of hope
Only the maker of those who cry will know

In the distance I feel there is hope
It is there for those who seek it
In this life there is always hope
It is there in the distant heart beat


When I wrote this my English writing and editing skills were not what they are now, but I think it's a good poem nonetheless. I only changed one line (Line 4, verse 4) because the original line didn't seem to fit the theme. As a read and re-read the verses, I think the underlying theme is obvious. I would be interested to know if you see it as well. Please post a response if you have times. Thanks.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Waiting...argh....why does it take so long?!

My wife read my last post entitled "Pen Pals...do you remember" all the while expecting a "spiritual lesson" somewhere near the end of it. I hadn't originally planned on this, but then the spiritual lesson came to me while praying last night. A few weeks ago, our pastor taught from Acts 1, where Jesus appeared to the disciples after his death and resurrection. "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:1-5) He goes on to tell then in verse 7 & 8 that they must wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit saying, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

The disciples were required to pray and wait "a few days" for the Holy Spirit to come, as Jesus had promised. We can compare their waiting and praying to waiting on a letter to arrive in the mail. Every day, we faithfully go to the mail box with anticipation that the letter will be there. And on those days that the letter was not there, we are disappointed. After a few days of the letter not being there, we stop running to the mail box. We start walking to the mail box, with doubt that the letter will arrive. Eventually we just stop going to the mail box.

Isn't it the same scenario with waiting on God? We start out praying faithfully every day that God will answer. When He doesn't answer in what we think is a reasonable amount of time, we begin to pray with doubt that God will answer. Eventually we give up praying about it altogether, because God doesn't answer in what we think is a reasonable amount of time. Lest we forget that God's time is not like ours: "For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." (Psalm 90:4)

So I guess the point is do not give up. God will answer. When we quit checking the mail for the letter, we've essentially given up belief in the person from whom we're expecting to hear. It's the same with waiting on God. The Pastor of my church prayed for his Dad's salvation for 30 years before his Dad came to know Jesus personally. Talk about a lesson in faithfulness!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pen Pals...do you remember?

I remember having a "pen pal" when I was a kid although I never kept in touch with her after elementary school. I no longer recall her name or what kind of things we wrote about. I just remember that we were learning letter writing in English class and we were given the names of potential pen pals from another school. It required hand writing a letter, hand writing the address on the envelope, licking the envelope and the postage stamp and then actually taking the letter to the postal mail box on the corner; and finally waiting sometimes weeks for a response. Do you remember what that is like?

I can remember the anxiousness that used to accompany waiting for a return letter from the pen pal. It would drive you nuts. Remember going to the front door and peering through the window, wondering where the letter carrier is? Why is he taking so long to bring the mail? And then suddenly, I'd see him coming around the corner and heading up the street, going from house to house, sometimes stopping to chat with one or two people on the way. Oh man I hated that. Didn't he know that I was waiting for him to deliver a letter? Why would he stop to talk to someone else when I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the letter from my pen pal?

And then finally he approaches our house and walks up the front steps. As he steps onto the porch I nearly bowl him over as I come running out the screen door. He would flip through the pile of mail in his hand or dig into his leather mail carrier's pouch and finally hand me a pile of mail. After hastily thanking him, I'd run in to the house as I'm flipping through the pile of mail, tossing aside anything that doesn't concern me. If you'd follow the trail of mail into the house you'd see one of two things: either me reading the letter I may have received, or me ranting about why it's taking so long to get a return letter.

Ah, I remember it well, as if it were yesterday. But times have changed somewhat. Isn't it interesting how we can now almost effortlessly keep in touch with "pen pals" from across the globe? It merely requires finding one or two minutes to sit down at your computer and stroking a few keys and hitting send! The circumstances are a little different, but the anticipation of waiting for the response is much the same. You know what I mean, you come in the door and head straight for the computer, hoping to find a response your pals.

I love communicating with people. Thanks writing tools such as email and blogs, we can keep in touch in so many more ways. I do however miss the anticipation of waiting for the mail carrier as it was back in the day!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

E.G.R

In the small group videos that are part of the "40 Days of Purpose," Rick Warren talks about persons who sometimes try to be the center of attention and can be a little overbearing. He refers to these persons as ones who require a little extra grace or EGR people, Extra Grace Required.

I know many people like that and I would bet that you do as well. We don't always like the personal habits or mannerisms of others. You may have a sibling, friend, coworker or fellow church member who could be described as an EGR person. You know what I mean, that person who just grates at your nerves. The person who once you're conversing with them, you feel as though you've been sucked into a vortex. Or the person who wants to know everything thing about every minute of your life. Why do we go out of our way to avoid contact with an EGR person or if we do come in contact with an EGR person, why do we patronize them, or treat them with disrespect, or even lie to "get away" from them?

The short answer is that it makes us uncomfortable to deal with them and so it's easier to avoid them. Or if you do happen to be in their presence we pretend like they aren't there. I recently had a conversation with someone who treats my son in this very way. They "bad-mouth" him when he's not in their presence and do what they can to avoid contact and they ignore him when he is in their presense.

There will always be EGR people in this world. That's just the way it is. Some require more grace than others. EGR people deserve the same, if not better treatment than others. That's why it's refered to as EXTRA grace required. The truth of the matter is that we are to love all people, whether or not they are hard to love. This was commanded by the Savior himself in Matthew 5:43-47. "You have heard people say, "Love your neighbors and hate your enemies." But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends. If you greet only your friends, what's so great about that? Don't even unbelievers do that?

I'm speaking to followers of Christ here: Jesus told us to love everyone. Sometimes we just have to extend a little--or a lot--of extra grace to do that! We don't get to pick and choose who we love. God didn't. "For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16). God loved the world, all the world, not just a few.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Places I've Lived

I read a blog the other day on which the writer mentioned places he's lived throughout his life. Sounded like a good idea, so here I go.

Crawfordsville, Indiana...this is where I spent my very early childhood.

Willard, Ohio...this is where I grew up. I graduated from Willard High School and move away not long after.

Englewood & Venice, Florida...my oldest sister lived here and so it provided me with somewhere to go after leaving Willard. Funny story about the trip down there. I drove a 1970 Pontiac LeMans muscle car. I was driving south on I-75 through southern Georgia and got into a little drag race with a young couple in a Ford Torino (Starsky and Hutch car). We both got pulled over and had to follow the trooper to the local Sheriff's office to pay our fines...or go to jail. I opted to pay my fine with my last little bit of cash on hand (200 dollars I think). After leaving the Sheriff's office and hitting the road, my right front wheel bearing went out on the car. I didn't have enough money to fix it, so I sold the car to the service station owner and a friend of his flew me the rest of the way to Florida in a small plane. Aah, the dumb decisions we made as kids!

San Antonio, Texas...After living in Florida for almost 2 years, I joined the Air Force because I didn't know what else to do with my life. Lackland Air Force Base, where USAF basic training occurs, is in San Antonio. Oh what a fun time I had in boot camp! Really...it was a cake walk in comparison to the boot camps of the other services.

Rantoul, Illinois...Chanute AFB is located here. This is where I attended air force tech school and learned to be an Avionics Guidance and Control Technician (instrumentation, auto-pilot, Nav systems) Oh what memories I made here. Me and my buddies refered to ourselves as "The Dirty Half-Dozen." This is also where I met my wife, Joan. She looked mighty fine in the her olive drab green uniform, blond hair and cute smile! It was love at first site.

Jacksonville, Arkansas...Little Rock AFB. This was my first real duty station. I worked on C-130 aircraft. Joan and I were married here and our children were born here. We lived here for 6 years.

Mehlingen, West Germany (pronounced may-ling-gen)...Sembach Air Base (near Ramstein Air Base). We lived in this old house built from materials salvaged after World War II. Our landlords lived in a 300 year old home, right next to us. A couple of interesting factoids about our time in Germany.
Ramstein Air Base was located about 20 minutes drive south of Sembach Air Base. At Ramstein, they had an annual open house/air show called Flugtag, with the purpose of hosting and entertaining our German neighbors. This year, at Flugtag 88, my squadron was hosting a food both at which my wife and I were working. The Italian Air Force aerobatic team was performing that day and tragically 3 of the planes crashed into each other. All burst into flames and one of the burning jets hurtled into the crowd of spectators. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_mutYDteWU) I don't recall the exact number, but I think it was somewhere around 64 or 65 people killed and about 300 injured. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramstein_airshow_disaster). Fortunately, neither me or my family were injured, nor were any of my friends and co-workers. August 1988 was a memorable time to be in Germany, albeit not very good memories.
However, fast forward a year later. In August of 1989 events began to unfold that brought about the end of the Cold War, culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall in November of 89. It was an amazing time to live in Germany. Many of my friends were able to visit Berlin during this time, but I did not (although I don't remember why).
Near the end of my time in Germany, I was deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey in support of Operation Desert Storm.

Blackfoot, Idaho...we ended up here after I separated from the Air Force. This is near where my wife grew up and all her family lived there, so it was the logical place for my wife and kids to go while I was deployed.

Kennewick, Washington...my wife followed a job here, and this is where we currently reside.

During my eleven years in the Air Force (yeah, I know, I was stupid to get out after 11 years), I was deployed to many locations in the United States, Canada, Europe and Southwest Asia for temporary duties, or what we called TDY's. Here's a list of the places I could recall.
In the USA: Nellis Air Force Base (Las Vegas), Nevada; Savanah, Georgia; Pope AFB, North Carolina; Richenbacker Air National Guard Base (Columbus), Ohio; St. Joseph, Missouri; Davis-Monthan AFB (Tuscon), Arizona
Canada: Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada
Europe: RAF (Royal Air Force) Mildenhall, England (more than one trip here, and did allot of site seeing). Aviano Air Base, Italy; Torrejon Air Base, Madrid, Spain; Athens, Greece (don't remember the name of the air base there); Incirlik Air Base, Turkey;
Southwest Asia: Daharan, Saudi Arabia. I think it was called King Fahd Air Base or something like that. I was there for several weeks in 1985-86.

I've visited or driven through many of the United States and sadly I would say that I (we) didn't site-see near as much as we would have liked while living in Europe. Nonetheless, we are well travelled.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Weariness...

I was lamenting to myself today about how weary I am of battling the flesh. I'm so tired! Every day, the battle against sin seems to overwhelm me. Or as is says in Hebrews 12: 1, the race against sin. I picture it like this: I'm running in a race (against the enemy) and Jesus, my point man, gives me the right direction towards which to run. But as I'm running, I can't seem to gain any ground.

I've never run a marathon, but have friends who have. They told me about how there are usually hundreds (or thousands) of runners; and unless you've started at the front of the pack, it usually takes quite sometime of slow jogging for the pack to start to thin enough for one to be able to make an attempt to break free from the pack. And that's how I feel in this race against sin. I feel as though I can't gain any ground because I cannot break free from the hundreds of Satan’s little minions who are running all around me.

In my lamenting, I was thinking about how hard this battle is. How physically demanding battling the enemy can be or how discouraging battling the flesh can be. Honestly, I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself because it seems that no matter how hard I try, I can’t get ahead. (I know, you’ve probably heard that a hundred times, or even said that yourself). But as He always seems to do, the Lord directed my attention to Hebrews 12:1-4, and specifically to verse 4.

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood

I was humbled to the point of tears. It’s like the Lord was saying to me, “What are you complaining about. You haven’t even come close to resisting sin the way my Son did. He resisted sin to the point of shedding His blood. What have you done? To what lengths have you gone to resist sin?” Oh, well, let’s see. I listened to some Christian music; I thought about some bible verses, talked to a brother in Christ, umm…well, I guess I didn’t do much. I certainly didn’t shed any blood, unless you count the little bit of blood I shed trying to pet Stink Bug (our cat).

The truth of the matter is that like we all do sometimes, I think I’ve become complacent in my attitude towards sin; or to put it another way, content with where I’m at in my walk with God. Sad isn’t it? But I don’t like how hard it is to walk with God. I know He never promised it would be easy, but sometimes the struggle seems like more than its worth. This seems like an extreme statement, but it is how I feel. I said earlier it seems that no matter how hard I try, I can’t get ahead. Perhaps therein lays the problem. I’m trying. I am the one trying to do the work instead of allowing God, through the Holy Spirit, to do the work in me.

Lord, I ask you today that you will teach me a new way of doing things; one that involves you doing the work through me, instead of me repeating failure after failure. Thanks for giving the Holy Spirit to show us the way. Today I want to open my heart to Him and allow Christ to do a work in me. I ask these in your precious Son’s name! Amen!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Washington DC

A few weeks ago, Joan's boss told her he wanted her to go to Washington DC in his place for a meeting. Joan's reaction was, "Yeah, right, whatever!" They both laughed and she thought nothing else of it, that is until a couple weeks ago when he asked Joan if she had made her reservations yet. Joan was surprised, exclaiming that she didn't think he was serious. Turns out he was in fact quite serious. And so, off to DC we went, at very little out of pocket expense I might add! All so Joan could attend a 4 hour meeting!!

So, we flew into DC on Thursday. After settling at our hotel, which was only about 4 blocks from the White House, we headed out on foot for the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. On our way there, we had a little time to kill, so we took a little stroll by the White House. The Pope had been in town, so they had the awning up blocking the front entrance, and they had the street blocked of so we couldn't get very close. But we were close enough for a decent snap shot. There must have been some dignitaries coming to the White House, because shortly after taking that photo, the police started asking people to move on. I thought it odd that we the people couldn't hang around and watch the dignitary arrive at the White House. Even the vigilant protesters were asked to move one. Oh well, the thought of a burger at the Hard Rock was urging me forward anyway!

So, off we went to the Hard Rock Cafe. The food wasn't the greatest, but it was more about the experience then the food quality anyway. Loved the rock & roll memorabilia, especially the guitars. We had to take this photo for our daughter. Anyway, for those of you who've never been to a Hard Rock Cafe, be prepared for slow service. This is not a complaint, just stating a fact. The place is so popular that there's almost always a long wait for seating, the then a bit of a wait to get served. As I already said, the food wasn't spectacular, but they served a good burger!

Nevertheless, is was worth the walk because we discovered that Ford's Theatre (where Lincoln was assasinated) is right next door! However, they were closed until Fall of 2008 for renovations. Dang it!!! Anyway, check out Ford's Theatre web page for a virtual tour.

It was dark by the time we were done at Hard Rock, so we walked back up Pennsylvania Avenue so we could see the White House at night. Unfortunately, the camera we were using didn't take good night photos, but you can Google the white house and see probably hundreds of images. Here's a good one.


The White House, as well as all the memorials and monuments look pretty specatcular at night. I think it's all in the placement of the lighting against the white stone and neoclassic architecture. Joan and I are both fascinated by the greek neoclassic archtecture styles of the early government buildings. It is like a walk through time as you walk away from the center of DC (the National Mall) observing the progression in architecture styles. If you haven't already, you should make it a point to get to DC soon.

On Friday, after Joan's meetings, we set out to the National Mall to view the monuments and memorials. Unfortunately, the camera battery died when we got there, so we weren't able to take pictures. I would have to say that my favorites were the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the World War II Memorial. I am so thankful to God and to all those who gave their lives in to achieve or keep our freedom, so I have to admit that I became very emotional when I visited these sites.

On Saturday, we first went to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Friends, if you ever go do Washington DC, you must go to this museum. I've tried for the last few minutes to come up with a description of what you will see and feel, but the only thing I can come up with is that you have to see for yourself. It's not merely a museum, but a memorial to all those who suffered and died in the holocaust, and to those who suffered and survived. In fact, we were told that many holocaust survivors still visit the the memorial to remember their loved ones who were lost. A short commentary: I can't believe that there are people in this world who say that the holocaust is a myth that didn't happen. Give me a break people! Honestly, these people need their heads examined!

After the Holocaust Museum, we checked out the National Air and Space Museum. What fun! It was cool to see all the various aircraft and space craft on display. I was most impressed with Glamorous Glennis, the Bell X-1 in which Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier, but also excited to see a Lunar Module. I can recall watching the television broadcast of Moon Landing and how excited and awestruck I was. Joan was most excited to see the Apollo 11 comand module. Her favorite movie is "Apollo 13: and she is fascinated by the Apollo 13 saga.

The weather was sunny and warm on the first three days there, but then turned cool and rainy on Sunday. After living in southeast Washington where our thunderstorms usually consist of lightning and brush fires, it was refreshing (and even nostalgic) to see an east coast thunderstorm. It poured down rain off and on all day. However, we did not let that stop us from visiting the National Archives. This was the highlight of the trip for me! As you probably know, the Freedom Charters--The Delcaration of Independence, The Consititurion of the United States of American, and the Bill of Rights--are all on display here. It's hard to describe the pride that welled up in me as I viewed the documents that outline our freedoms! All I can say is, "Wow. The Magna Carta was also on display. Oddly enough, it seemed in better condition than the Declaration of Independence.

We spent the remainder of Sunday going to the various Smithsonian Museums. Much to our dismay, The American History Museum was closed until fall of 2008; The National Art Gallery (breifly to see the building) and The National Museum of Natural History. The Hope Diamond was on display here and was quite spectacular. We also checked out Smithsonian Castle, which is the original building that housed the Smithsonian. We found the architecture of the Castle to be an interesting departure from the neoclassic greek style of most of the buildings.


We managed to stay fairly dry most of the day ducking in and out of the different buildings we visited, but toward the end of the afternoon, I was unable to avoid becoming drenched. It was either walk back to the hotel or sit it out for a while until the rain quit. That would have been a long wait, so we trekked on. On our walk back up 14th street, we passed by The Old Post Office Pavilion and decided to go inside to get out of the rain for a while. Nothing spectacular to see except the old clock tower, however that was closed due to the weather(?). By the time we made it back to the hotel, I was weary of being soaked to the bone! Joan faired a littel better as she had bought an umbrella earlier in the day. Guess I should've listened to her!

Our plan for Monday was to go see The Library of Congress. I've always wanted to see it and even more so after the National Treasure movies! :o) However, we ended up pretty much spending the day at the hotel as wee didn't feel like getting drenched again. Yes, it rained all day Monday as well. And thus ended our trip. We flew back to Washington State Monday evening.

We're both thankful for the opportunity to have made this trip (even more thankful that it cost us very little). I've posted a slide show of some of the photos we took while in DC. Thanks to 9-11 and high gas prices, travel is difficult these days, but you should not wait too long to go to DC. It is well worth it. Hope you weren't bored by my commentary. I posted this mainly for family and friends who wanted to hear about the trip.

God Bless.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tired of the status quo?

Yeah...I am. It seems there's never anything new or different going on. Same old stuff in the news.; Obama and Clinton bickering, celebrity gossip, glorification of horrendous crimes committed. Reality TV shows have reached the ridiculous. Case in point: the reality shows on MTV and VH1. (If you've not seen them, don't bother; they're ridiculuous and grossly immoral).

But television wasn't intended to be my focus here. The status quo is what I'm talking about. Same old, same old. For instance, you go to work, do your job, go home, eat some food, perhaps do stuff around the house or yard. Occassionally there's some other functions such as kids sports, or ministry functions that occupy our time, but again, the same old stuff.

CHURCH: again the same old thing every week. Go to church, play some music, sing some songs, here some announcements, here a sermon, blah blah blah, yada yada yada! Yeah, there's some praying thrown in the mix, but it seems staged. (Don't get me wrong here. In no way do I intend to communicate any derogatory statements about our Pastoral Staff, church staff or Deacons.) I'm not even sure what it is I'm trying to pinpoint, but suffice it to say that there seems to be a lack of sincere desire (?) to seek the face of God. And I think that I'm the most guilty of that part of the time.

Anyway, perhaps I'm complaining about nothing, but I'm always wondering: "Is this all there is?" I know I'm probably not alone in that thought and I know the solution. I need to sincerely seek the face of God, putting everything else away for the moment. Matthew 10:37-39 says: "If you love your father or mother or even your sons and daughters more than me, you are not fit to be my disciples. And unless you are willing to take up your cross and come with me, you are not fit to be my disciples. If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it."

I guess I need to give up trying this on my own.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Yep, that's what I said!

Well, I never thought I'd see the day! After an evening of freezing rain and ice covered roads; and then a layer of snow on top of that; the Sunday morning service at First Baptist Church in Richland, WA was cancelled!!!

Yep you read it right!!! For some reason, God didn't want us to have church today and I'm excited to see why! I'll keep you posted.