Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I was NOT the safest driver on . . .

... Friday. Driving to church, I heard a radio station urging folks to give money to buy bikes for needy kids at Christmas. Thinking about bikes reminded me of my dad (see post below) & that released a pool of tears and sobbing that was overdue.

At least twice on the drive & then a time or two at the office, I grieved for my Dad with healing tears of hurt.

I am sure it will not be that last gush.
“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”- Luke 1:26-28 (NIV)

This is an unlikely passage:
An unlikely place - Nazareth, in Galilee
An unlikely person - a pledged / engaged girl - a virgin, no less
An unlikely message - congrats - you're gonna have a baby

Thank God that He comes to us unlikely people, in unlikely ways (Gabriel),
with unlikley messages of God's favor and presence. It is by grace indeed.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Preacher Went Down to GA

I drove my mom back to GA Sun PM & flew back to TN Monday. Gate D - my gate - at the ATL Airport was shut down briefly due to a suspicious package... Thankfully, it was a short scare & my flight was only delayed 10 minutes. I had already been treated to Homeland Security's finest scrutiny (shoes off, the wand, the pat down, the test your bag for drugs / chemicals).

I did not mind - it is the price of freedom of movement. They responded with surprise and apprecaiton whrn I thanked them. They said they are often not treated too kind. I feel the innocent have nothing to hide & if it is too burdensome, drive. It goes with the price of the ticket.

Mom is doing better (dad died 12 days ago). It was an honor to have her with us. It is so hard to mentally or emotionally place her in the Widow category. Forget the thought - at this point - of her remarrying!

I feel I have joined a new fraternity - those who have lost a parent. It is interesting how people's responses, comfort, words seem to almost naturally fall into those divisions - those who have left a parent have a different comiseration. I guess I experienced this with my brother's suicide, but this is different (untainted, shame-free...).

It is interesting how being a pastor makes it even harder for many to know what to do, say... Death creates enough awkwardness for people, but being a pastor seems to compound that for lots of good hearted, yet conflicted, confused potential comforters. HOT TIP - just treat us like people, because... we is
;-) We are not above your seeking to reaffirm us, our faith or encourage us. If anything, the awkard silence of many may call for even bolder words / deeds of comfort from those who do speak up. Presence is the key.

Something From Nuthin', Nowhere, No How

“ When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”- Matthew 2:4-6 (NIV

He is the God who can bring something out of nothing, Someone out of no where.
We rejoice in that in Christ's birth.
We find hope in that in our new birth.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Hanging Out in Him

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. ” - John 15:5 & 8 (NIV)

What a great passage! It speaks of realtionship, dependence, promise of the life of Christ in us, bringing glory to God, proving our discipleship...

Abide in, dwell in, hang out with, live in, stick close by, stay in HIM

We can never be overreminded of this truth

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Peace in the Whirlwind

The last week has been a blur: Dad's death, traveling to GA, funeral plans, doing the funeral, helping Mom, traveling back to TN...

Yet, God - no surprise here- has shown His goodness and faithfulness over and over again.

Please pray for my Mom who was already fragile from her 4 + weeks in the hospital.

Friday, December 03, 2004

A Tribute to My Dad - with the Lord 12/2/04

My Dad went to be with the Lord, Thur., Dec. 2. He had a massive heart attack in his kitchen and went home quickly. My Mom had been home from the hospital for about 3 hours, my brother and sister were there at the time. Please pray for my Mom. She is in a tender state.

Below is a tribute I wrote for my Dad a Father's Day or two back

"Of Boys, Bikes and Dads"
Kerry S. Doyal

Boys riding bikes. To me, that is one powerful memory and image of
summer. Exploring, racing, being showoffs and daredevils. Taking a few
hard earned or luckily found cents to the store for candy. Quick getaways
from foes, real or imagined. Getting me to and away from trouble.

Bikes meant exposure to a bigger world. They transported me from the
circle - Keystone Court - I grew up on, to new worlds, vistas and
experiences. They took me down the street, into town and across the
tracks. Bikes carried me to friend's homes, baseball games, the library,
bank, post office, Red's produce stand and "the woods."

Bikes were my horse, my motorcycle, my racecar, space ship and friend.
It knew my moves and I knew its every squeak, its potentials and limits.
It lifted me skyward off of ramps. It sent me scrapping, sprawling into
gravel, dirt and pavement.

My father worked for the Phone Company, first as an installer, then a
PBX repairer, then a manager, finally a safety instructor. He retired
from "Ma Bell", and she and he paid for my upkeep coming up.

My brothers and I, in our journeys on bikes, would often come across men
in phone trucks, making repairs, fixing a line, climbing a pole, riding a
cherry picker. What started as a "hey, do you know my dad?" became an

Seeing these hard hat wearing, hard working skilled men would cause us
to pull up to their work site on our bikes and ask if they knew Ronald
Doyal. It always struck me odd to call my dad by his name. No doubt we
asked more than one man "do you know my dad?", requiring them to ask
"what's his name?".

A few men came to recognize us. "Aren't you Ron Doyal's boys?" they
would ask as we stopped to watch, getting a glimpse into our dad's world.
It was a question I was always exceedingly proud to hear and even prouder
to answer.

The thing that made us habitually stop and ask our question was the
answer we would often hear from the men we asked. Their response was
frequently far more than we had asked, but no boy or girl could have
asked for more. I can still hear and feel their reply. "Yes. I know your
dad. He's a good man."

With no effort, I can recall how much taller I rode in my bike's saddle
after hearing those replies. These men not only knew my dad - validating
this work site's solemnity due to its connection to my dad - these men
respected my dad. He was a good man. Yes, they did indeed know my dad.

It took just a couple of interactions like that to lead us to almost
look for phone men when we were off on our bikes. If we saw them, you
could be sure we would stop and ask "the question." More often than
they knew our dad and would add "he's a good man."

Sometimes, while biking with friends, I would stop to ask The Men if
they knew my dad so my friends could hear the answer. Though it was not
quite the "my dad can beat up you dad" scenario, I was bragging none
less. I could trust that if those phone men knew my dad, they would speak
well of him.

I had no idea how enviable that was for so many little boys and girls.
For me it was a solid given, something I took for granted - for better
and, I am sure, for worse.

I was and am proud to be my dad's son. Period. No disclaimers. No
qualifiers. I am Ronald Doyal's youngest son, and would have it no other
way. Nor would my brothers or my sister. Just as my wife rightfully feels
about her dad - another very fine man.

If you feel that way about your dad, make sure you tell him. If you
can't find your own words, give him this column. He will get it. Whatever
you do, however you do it, let him know.

A final thought about those bikes. It was my dad's hard work that
provided them for my two older brothers', our baby sister and me. His
sweat gave us the means to discover who he was, to see how others saw
him. That was not the intent of the gift, but it was the precious impact
none the less.

It occurs to me that the same thing will happen in my efforts to raise
my girl and four boys. For better or for worse, I pave the way - better
yet - provide the wheels by which they will encounter me in this world. I
can only hope and pray and try to make sure the kind of report my kids
get about me is nearly as good as the one I was blessed to peddle up to
about my dad.

Thanks for a good name, Dad. I honor you.

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the
land the LORD your God is giving you." Exodus 20:12

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is
better than silver or gold." Proverbs 22:1 (NIV)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

20 Years - Thanking God For My “Sweet Thang”

I wrote this for my Beloved's b-day. On this our 20th Anniversary, I share it once again. I thank God for my Robin!

“My sweet thang is my good thang, and man did God bless me!” Such is my paraphrase and testimony of agreement to God’s word in Proverbs 18:22.

For those who like a bit tighter rendering, here you go: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD” (NIV).

Way back in the beginning, when God surveyed His awesome handiwork of creation, He beamed with proper pride and said to Himself “good job!” (see Gen. 1-3). He rated His work as “very good”, setting an example of a holy work ethic.

Interestingly, when God had Adam inventory and catalogue the animals, a hole was revealed. A divinely designed deficiency – not defect - was discovered.

God allowed Adam to make an important self-discovery: perfect though he was (this was pre-Fall), Adam was incomplete none the less. The animals did not provided a suitable companion for Adam.

Adam and God agreed that it was not good (or safe!) for man to be alone. Our gracious Creator took surgical steps to fill in the hole to help make man whole – He formed Eve and brought her to Adam. The first arranged marriage.

Marriage was God’s idea, plan and gift. One man, one woman, becoming one, “until death do they part.” It is not a dead or deadening institution, but a life enhancing means of favor from God.

As Scripture also affirms, it is a sinful and deadly business to attempt to tear apart what God brings together.

Two events have me mulling over these matters. First and foremost is the impending birthday my dear wife is facing down. Enough said. Prayers appreciated. Not for her, but for me as I publicly honor and probably unwittingly embarrass her… again.

The second prompting to ponder God’s gift of a wife is a wedding I am honored to do this weekend for Art & Heather. I mention them as a tribute and so you can pray for them and all newlyweds.

For the record, and as a partial birthday gift, allow me to make this public affirmation: If any man is half as blessed with and through his wife as I am, he too is blessed well beyond what he deserves.

I have come to believe that as when God put Adam in a deep sleep to bring forth Eve from his side, so too God must cause women to swoon deeply to cause them to marry the likes of most of us men.

Most men marry far better than their wives do. I certainly did. Talk about the deal of the century. God must have caused a suspension of good judgement and vision for my wife to say “I do” to me. Thank you Lord for that favor.

I cannot imagine life without my sweet soul mate. As much growing up as I still have to do, it scares me and terrifies others to think of how much more immature I would be were it not for her.

A guy gets past his teen years and thinks he is somewhat mature. God then allows us to marry and then quickly and graciously reminds us how selfish and petty we still are. For those blessed with children, He repeats the process through them.

Though women have ongoing growing up to do as well, they usually stay a step (can you say “giant leap”) ahead of men. Longsuffering is a trait God possesses and often develops in women through men (see James 1:1-12). No need to thank us.

God alone knows the contribution my dear wife has had to my life and ministry. While she has not been an anchor holding me back, she has kept me from drifting into dangerous waters, many shipwrecks and neglecting needed harbor time to retool and rest.

Robin, my gift from God, has willingly gone without, cheerfully made do and displayed flexibility beyond reason to her husband’s – that would be me – lack of forethought or aft-thought (a new word; dedicated to her.)

Beyond laughing at my jokes, she provides my best sounding board and screening device. Many have been spared much due to her godly, timely insight. I have been protected countless times as well.

Bearing and raising five children is not conducive to the enjoyment of chocolate Bon Bons, with one’s feet on the couch, TV remote in hand, phone under the ear, and Calgone waiting to take one away. My beloved is one of the hardest workers I know.

As the old poem goes: “A man may work from dusk to dawn, but a woman’s work is never done.” Laundry and dishes seem to be far more fertile than we are. With four boys romping through the house– five counting me - repairs can pile up almost as fast.

Proving her sainthood and flirting with martyrdom, she has home educated our children as well – five unique students in five grade brackets. No small task, but yet another one that she has handled very well.

The demands of ministry fall to me in the context of my family. Late night calls, emergencies that pull me away, meetings, the pressures of shepherding. Robin has and does willingly bear these with grace and maturity. She makes it possible for me to brag that we are truly a team.

More than once “bringing my work home with me” has meant people moving in with us with little or no notice. We have taken in more people for weeks or months at a time than I can recall. These were more “sacrifices” that I was praised for but she once again did almost all the work.

I could easily go on about her tiresome efforts, incredible meals, patience, forgiveness and endurance, but I fear providing ammo for her and conviction for me if I continue.

Happy birthday, my precious gift from God. I could never begin to repay you for who you are, what you have done, endured and overlooked. True to style, you would not demand or accept repayment anyway, for you have done these things unto the Lord.

You have lived out the verse you had inscribed inside my wedding band: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” 1 John 4:7 (NIV).

Your love shows that you have indeed been born of and know God. And, as Eve was made by God for Adam, so too you were made and brought to me. What a gift you are! Makes you wonder whose birthday it is. I love you too.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Getting Our Bragging Rights Right

"...What do you have that you did not receive?
And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?"

1 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

Those are two good questions. Ones that correct and sharpen our focus and perspective. Check 'em out again. . .

They remind us that any ability, skill, talent, gift, endowment, blessing or advantage we have is a "gracin" from God. A gift - undeserved through & through - from our lovin' Lord.

Yet, we act as if who we are & what we can do is solely of us. Yes, we may have worked diligently to develop our abilities. And yes, we may have applied ourselves to get where & what we have. BUT - even the ability to apply diligence, spunk, moxy and even elbow grease is an enablement of the gracious Almighty.

So kudos to any and all who work hard to make something of themselves. YET, all due proper respect, regard and credit should point Heavenward. (That there's a circumlocution for God...)

I guess that why we call the gifted that... "gifted"?! Let us remember to give credit and thanks to WHOM it is ultimately due. If it requires a little humbling and thanking along the way, so be it.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Looking Good

Our church web page is not only a rich tool, it's is looking good!

Why don't you www.GetGraced.org

Monday, November 01, 2004

A Tribute to a Good Man, a very Good Man

My Uncle Tommy Oakley died early this morning. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, this meant an entrance into the presence of God and being welcomed on the basis of the blood and righteousness of Christ. Mercy was his, grace was his. Hope was his and ours.

We had a kid at our Halloween party Sat. night dressed up as a face of death. Her name is Hope. Made me think... If you looked closely into death's face / mask (& I did) you could see Hope behind it - smiling in fact. So it is for the believer. Because of Jesus'death, life & grace, we have hope in the very face of death. And yes, there is hope hiding behind death, smiling.

Today - the day of Uncle Tommy's death - is All Saint's Day. He may not have died for Christ, but more importantly, he lived for Him. And does so still, evermore and even more, without hindrance of temptation, sin or illness. Makes one jealous.

Our prayers go up & out for Aunt Sandra, Kelly, Cari & their (our) families.

Friday, October 29, 2004

No skin off my nose . . .

... well, actually, there was. My nose is healing up from the surgery.
The Wed. repair of the hole they cut Tues. required a second cut (a graft?) on my nose. It looks rough, but hopefully will heal nicely.

Leper was our guest this Thur PM - a Christian Goth Techno / Romantic band out of JPUSA in Chicago (Jesus People USA). Our friend Joby plays the accordion in the band. We enjoyed our time with them.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

And then there was one - Congrats Bo Sox

Yeah Cubbies! There is only one team with a rightful claim to a curse - the pitiful, longsuffering Chicago Cubs and their loyal fans. Thanks Bo Sox for making the Northside Bums even more distinct.

Is it me or did the Bo Sox owner - the trench coat guy - look like an older, pasty, over-Botoxed Dana Carvey?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

All clear, says Puff Daddy

They got all the cancer (see previous post). Now I just need to wait for the swelling go down. My eye is half closed & going to be black & blue - just in time for Halloween. I am staying home from church tonight to rest my eye.

My brother & sister got mom admitted to a hospital for rest, tests... I pray they can get her meds & system in balance.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Under the knife

Cancer! Sounds so ominous.
Cancer surgery - sounds even worse.

I have been such a good boy.
I had a no-big-deal skin cancer removed today (out patient surgery - on the bridge of my nose, near my right tear duct.)) I have - up to this point - resisted getting any mileage out of it. I have resisted making the following pronouncements for cheap effect:
"I have cancer"
"Did I tell you I was having cancer surgery?"
"I have cancer and I am dying" (aren't we all dying?)

They cut it off / out today & will sew it shut tomorrow, assuming they got it all.
Until then . . . pity me while there is still time (& I get a clean bill of health).

Friday, October 22, 2004

Just the right word

"A man finds joy in giving an apt reply
- and how good is a timely word!"

Proverbs 15:23 (NIV)

This is not talking about "zingers",
those are fun in a different way (not usually good).

But how cool is it when you have just that right word or answer at the right
time?! As opposed to ten minutes later thinking up what you should have said...
Timing is everything.

Lord - give us tongues that are ready to speak or ready to stay silent.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Best TV all year - Championship Baseball

No matter who is in it, I love playoff / World Series Baseball. How do you match this year's Bean Town Comeback? I confess that I felt far less sympathy for the Yankee fans than I did for Boston's.

Since we don't believe in jinx, if Boston blows it in the Series is it:
a. well, at least they made it - who expected this much
b. a deeper wound, false bolstered hopes again . . . Da Curse

I hope Boston wins for lots of reasons, one is make the Cubbies the last cursed team in baseball.

FAR MORE SIGNIFICANT we had some kids make eternally significant decisions at church tonight. This will last long after any and all baseball penants fade. The Vermaases did a great job.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Like they care

Lived in NY & loved it
Love NY'ers & even like / respect the Yankees. . .
but... & here it comes . . .
Yankee fans make it tempting to hate the Big Apple
What a shame to see a game having to be played with NY's finest on the field
Come on, show some class Yankee fans
Keep the debris off the field
You make it easier to say: Go Bo-Sox

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Do I dare dream . . .

that Boston can go to NY & win two games?
Speaking of dreaming, these long games cut into sleep time...

An Observation & A "Q":
Boston fans are the most wonderfully common mob of blokes
- no Hollywood cuties, et al...
I am rootin' for the team out of sympathy & identification with the fans
(they remind me of the long suffering Cubbie fans - just not as many yuppies)

Why are Boston's batting helmets so gnarlly (blistered paint)? Pine tar?
Why do they let them use them in a nationally televised game? Superstition?

Okay, this may be "PC", but watching the Red Soxs work their chaws & spit makes me appreciate teams that ban that stuff... SICK! While I am at it, do they have a team barber? Is he on vacation . . . ? :-p

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Happy Birthday Kaleb ! ! !

Our fourth child turns 10 today, making him our fourth "double-digit dude". We now have only one kid under 10 years of age. For some reason, that struck me this morning, making my back feel even stiffer.

Da Oldest of our Krew - our onliest girl - is a Jr. camp counselor this weekend.
Number One son has had some hearing restored with tubes in his ears again (4th time).
Number Two son is enjoying Robinson Middle School & has been elected a Scout Patrol Leader.
Number Four son, our first grader, will miss his "birthday brother" today, as he goes to a Webelos activity. He is enjoying Andrew Jackson Elem. & has a great teacher (again).

Final child note: we now have children in Elementary, Middle, Senior High & College.

We have been inexpressibly blessed (see Ps. 127).

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I am "debated" out

Love politics
Enjoyed - for the most part - the debates
But, sure am glad they are over

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I am tired . . .

. . . but hopeful.
There is a great verse in Judges 8 about Gideon and his men. It describes them, in the midst of battle, as "weary, yet pursuing." I love that!

I ask myself at times, "am I tired of or from the ministry?". There is a huge difference. One just requires a little extra nap, the other is ... yikes!

FYI: I am just tired "from" - a good tired. Like Gideon, I too am in pursuit with some great God-given guys, ready to cross the river before us, by God's grace & enablement.

As good a group as they are, for the record, my best "skin & bones" encourager is my dear wife - 20 years this Dec. 1!.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Sunrise in the Mountains - giving credit

I drove to KY for a camp board meeting today (Twin Rocks Bible Camp, Viper, KY). Heading out about 6:40 AM, I was witness to sunrise in the mountains. Going north & up in elevation, the leaves were already turning - breathtaking! It was foggy in places, crystal clear in most, glorious in ALL. Talk about your artist - God out does them all.

Psalm 19:1-6 (NIV)

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.

Colossians 1:15-17 (NIV)

He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Saddle up your horses . . .

Three years ago, my family hitched our wagon to God's leading & headed to a new chapter of life (ignored the mixed metaphor). Today, our church gets to follow suite.

Property rich & cash poor, our church is needing to sale its building. No small step. Thankfully, the place is not who we are. Though financially deficient to maintain a large, wonderful building, we are otherwise strong, healthy & maturing - the real crux of the matter. (FYI - "crux" comes from the word cross or crucifixion - any church's true central matter.

So the Shepherd is leading the sheep to find its identity increasingly & solely in HIM. Not a bad place - figuratively now more than ever - in which to be. I am proud of the good leaders & people I am honored to serve. A real people of grace!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

"No Respect" a Rodney Dangerfield Tribute

"I tell ya, I get no respect." What a funny guy, that Dangerfield. He met His maker last night. After being in a coma for weeks, his time ran out.

I admit it, I was a fan. Though sadly foul-mouthed at times, he was also flat out funny. (Does it reveal too much to say you liked him / felt a kinship with him...)

His passing made he wonder if he was ready to meet the One who most deserved respect. I wondered at the Almighty rightfully saying about us to the angels, "I get no respect."

While we should say prayers for the grieving family of the departed, we can also be reminded - ironically - to show respect to the One we will all face some day, ready or not.

Proverbs 1:7 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." (NIV)

Sunday, October 03, 2004

A Good Sunday

What neat people.

Facing change, challenge or uncertainty is not just unsettling, its threatening.
Our little church is facing an uncertain future in terms of finances and facility.
It is a faith-stretch for each of us. What might sharing or selling our building mean? How might that reshape, redefine or refine us? What new doors (literally & figuratively) might this open for us?

It is a great adventure indeed. Saddle up and stay close to the Chief Shepherd (Cowboy?)!

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Cuttin' Grass in the Dark - A Suburban Myth

So its a gorgeous evening & I'm feeling spunky.
Birds have chirped & crickets are cranking - loudly.
What else is there to do but grab the lawn mower & cut until dusk.
Make that dark...
Dew is descending (or ascending)
& alls I cans sees is the wheel marks in the grass.
But baby, I'm making progress - line upon line, row upon row.
This thing is cutting smooth tonight.
When I get out of range of the street light,
I gun down one last section before I park that puppy
- that pushing beast in the shed.
I am a stud.

I come in, aglow with manly sweat
& my wife asks what I have been doing...
I resist the urge to "Duh" her...
20 years of marriage teaches a guy a thing or two
(& that's about all for most of us guys).

With a confident smile of accomplishment,
I proudly tell her I was cutting the grass
She should be wowed - in the dark - "what a man",
but instead she is bewildered

"I didn't hear the mower" says she.
"Are the windows open?" asks me.
"They sure are" says she.
I step to the window & hear the lawn mower running.
This is getting weirder each moment.
"Excuse me" I say, stepping caustiously to the shed.
It is silent, the mower motionless...
I run to examine the fresh cut lawn - flashlight in hand.
It isn't . . . No clippings.
Yet, I hear the mower, the mower... or is it...
no it, can't be... stupid crickets.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Bragging on "The Boys"

What an honor & priviledge to serve at a church with like-minded men. NOT "yes men," but mature brothers whom can handle honest discussion, face hard decisions and forgive foibles and failings.

Contrary to popular thot, not all churches are filled with petty politics and fighting.

Indeed, how good & pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity (not uniformity).

Lord, protect us from us & help us to be diligent to maintain the unity of Your Spirit in the bonds of peace.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Scout Trash Pick up

Not a bad way to spend a Sat. AM - beautifying a highway area by picking up trash. Some 18 Scouts and leaders filled dozens of bags with assorted along-the-road garbage.

A shout out to you smokers & beer drinkers - at least those who liter. Wow - lots of drinking & driving goes on judging from the bottles we picked up. And all those cig. butts, packs, wrappers - gang, they add up out there. YUK!

To the boys of Troop 48 - good job. In six weeks, months or years, you would not have remembered the cartoons you didn't get to watch today, but you will recall making the Creator's domain a bit nicer. Proud of you!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

His first school dance

Well I never thot this day would come. When you home school, there are not many school dances. But, when you sign up an heir (number three child) for public school...

Four bucks at the door, a DJ, chaperones crawling all over the place, and peer pressure beyond that. Sixth - eight graders wondering if each has a boy or girl friend.

The biggest impression of the night for me is my son's courage to go alone to this dance, hoping merely to see some friends and just hang out, talk and have a good time. The courage to do that is commendable, enviable.

Thankfully, on the way home as we debriefed, I was able to tell him how proud I was of his courage & confidence. We also spoke of the awkwardness of these settings - something probably everyone there had to face. We discussed the pressure on popular / good looking kids too. They potentially have even more pressure at such events. People expect them to have a big outing...

Are there any winners at these things (can you tell my bias & middle school experience)? My son was one. He learned more of relating to others, of what his peers are driven by, and to think through the event from a Christian perspective - not just condemning, but learning discernment and holy relational skills. With him being a 7th grader, the risks were low, the pressures not as great, but that, like almost everything else in his life, will change. I am convinced that a school dance, "stag" for my Vooter (his nickname), was another small part of preparing him for life.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

A good night at Boy Scouts

Having been blessed with four sons, Scouts is a God send (two Boy Scouts, a Webelo, and a Cub Scout). Not only do they have fun, I enjoy it too. I have learned about as much as they have. Being in a top notch troop doesn't hurt. Yeah Troop 48!

For the record, God has blessed my wife & I with a daughter as well. And a fine young lady she is - our Drama Queen. We enjoy that & her too.

Grace, grace, grace . . . Indeed, every good and perfect gift is from our Heavenly Father.

A little perspective

"Haiti" - a word that often - for me at least - brings guilt & pity.

Today that association is sadly strengthened by the death of 600 + via flooding from Tropical storm Jeanne.

May I prod you (& myself) to pray for the suffering people of Haiti who have little resource for living, much less recovering from tragedy.

In the face of my own struggles, Haiti serves as a point of perspective. I only have it so bad.

May my self-centered guilt move to gratitude, prayer and sharing.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Throwing out the first words

If I wait for something profound, I'll never wade into these e-waters of blogging.
So, I am off, or in, or on my way. See, I definitely did not wait for something profound to get started ;-)

An apologia: why "By Grace or else"? 'Tis only true, that's why. The longer I am in Christ, the more I realize how utterly unworthy I am, was, will be, is be... pick your "be" verb, and I ain't... Grace is the base line, the entry point and staying power

Well, look at me, I am up & blogging . . .
Even that is by grace, as those who know me can testify.

Hey, ya know what? well, next time . . .