Tuesday, May 27, 2008


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


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!