Don’t feel bad if your New Year’s Eve plans do not meet up with your expectations. They never really do for most people. All the beautiful people get together in New York and Hollywood but they are no happier than you are if you watch an old movie and have a good bourbon or glass of wine or even a coke with lots of ice. What you want to remember is that the new year has started. Back on the last Sunday of November a new year began – Advent slipped in almost unnoticed. Your real life is not marked by clocks or balls dropping or calendars turning. Your real life is already in God’s hands. It was decided when Jesus spoke those words from the cross, “It is finished.” God always finishes what God starts.

Don’t you love what Jesus said,

Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

Tomorrow is the Sabbath – a little Easter – a celebration of new life, new hope, and new expectations. No matter how late you stay out or stay up – make an appointment to pause and give thanks for the best hour of your week. There is a feast planned and the host will be waiting to offer you the best seat in the house.

Be Well..

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The Night

The Night

As I watched a list of artists and celebrities who died this past year in one of those “Year In Review” segments I noticed they missed one of my favorites – Pat Conroy. He was a prolific writer and fascinating person who began a career as a teacher and turned to writing after clashing with school administrators on his methods and his openness to diversity and integration. One quote that struck me was this:

“American men are allotted just as many tears as American women. But because we are forbidden to shed them, we die long before women do, with our hearts exploding or our blood pressure rising or our livers eaten away by alcohol because that lake of grief inside us has no outlet. We, men, die because our faces were not watered enough.” 
― Pat Conroy, Beach Music

Grief is a complex thing. We grieve over relationships we never even had. People who touch us in some way become a part of what inspires or challenges us. When we lose them there is a grief as it were from a distance. But we need to realize that we get too comfortable with living. Death seems to be an adoration rather than the true reality of earth. The CEV translation of the Bible says this in 2 Corinthians 5:

Our bodies are like tents that we live in here on earth. But when these tents are destroyed, we know that God will give each of us a place to live. These homes will not be buildings that someone has made, but they are in heaven and will last forever. While we are here on earth, we sigh because we want to live in that heavenly home. We want to put it on like clothes and not be naked.

Tears are not a bad thing. They help us deal with the harsh realities of life but they can also lead us to a cleansing and more contemplative life. God has prepared an eternity for us if we but strike the tent. I wish I could write like Pat but I guess I am more like a “Cliffs Notes” type of guy. As 2016 passes into the history books take hold of life but remember we just live in tents that can easily be taken down. The mansions await.

Be Well…

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The Inn

The Inn

Did you ever wonder about the Inn at Bethlehem and the manager who did not have room for Mary and Joseph? Do you think he might have actually have had room but saw a pregnant woman and an older man and thought, “I’m not letting this unmarried highly pregnant couple into my Inn.” and then said, “Sorry, you can stay in the barn but there is no room in the Inn.” Then after the baby was born he was just a little embarrassed when he heard about this miraculous child. Who were they and where did they go?

Now the story makes you think, “Will I be that Innkeeper? Will I let Jesus come into my world or is it too crowded and busy? Do I have so much to do and am I so consumed with my own activities that I will relegate Jesus to the back room barn of my life?” Make room, take time, remember the reason of this season and celebrate his presence.

Be Well…

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This afternoon just before putting the finishing touches on my sermons for Christmas Eve and Charisma s Day I decided to look through the mail. What to my wondering eyes should appear than NOT a tiny check with no reindeer. The check is toward the ministry of Bethany. What a wonderful surprise. Among the many sacrifices that people make to further the work of the church I get the privilege of seeing the impact on a daily basis. Don’t ever underestimate the impact you can make when you give time or a talent or your money to the work of the Church. When these are pooled together great things can be done. The local impact from just Bethany this Christmas season has been 450 people served and 125 volunteers involved in the efforts. In a year where we pushed our mission budget to the limit and thought we might run a deficit at the end of the year, I see people who step up and step out with generous spirits. Thank you to everyone and every church that seeks to serve the community and the people around them.

Be Well…

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I’ve always thought of December 21 as the new year. The darkness begins to recede and we move toward the light of summer. I read and reread John 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

The darkness did not overcome it. Maybe it’s not the darkness of the season or the first day of winter that disturbs me the most but the darkness of the human soul. There is too much to take in the world. Germany, Syria, Turkey and even on the streets of our hometowns where the killer is a different kind of terror – heroine. We need that light to shine. We pray for that light to shine.

Maybe there is another kind of darkness for you. The darkness of loss or dreams unfulfilled. The light shines there too. Hope is still abundant in the incarnation. God does not just speak to us from on high. God comes to us, abides with us, becomes Immanuel. I need that hope not only for the S.A.D. but for the brokenness all around us.

Late on Christmas Eve you may be someplace lighting a single candle and singing “Silent Night” but it’s not silent in heaven – there is a party going on – rejoicing that you are there lighting a candle of hope in the world of darkness.

Be Well…

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It’s not travel like it used to be but the line was shorter after I got the TSA-Pre Check. It was a frustrating experience getting it though so it might be a trade-off. I applied on line and was given several options of where to get fingerprinted. I chose to go to Mishawaka, IN where the folks who are doing this for TSA were housed in a former H&R Block building. They didn’t have a sign so it was very confusing.

There in this old outdoor mall area sat the BMV; surely they will know, right? They said when I asked where the TSA-PreCheck was located that they would like to know and would I come back and tell them if I found it. Walking out of the building I saw one of Mishawaka’s finest and asked him, he got his GPS going and sure enough it was right where my GPS was trying to tell me – the H&R Block building. There at the entrance of the building stood a small sign with an 8 1/2 page that said TSA-Pre.

The saga was not over. They asked if I had received an email stating that my appointment was canceled. No, why would I be here if I had. Their systems were “down” for maintenance. They had only been open for three weeks but that doesn’t matter. I did not get an email because I had made the appointment the night before and they had been down for four days. The explanation I got was, “You know we’re talking about the government here.” Days later I came back as a walk-in and away we went. Three years for $85.00; I must say that as I went through the line at Midway Chicago I thought, “This is nice. Shoes on, belt on, luggage scanned but no line – aaaah. Now the words of Psalm 121 soothe me as they always do,

“The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.”

We’ll see how it goes in New York on the return – until then…

Be Well….

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The Walk

img_0828Little did I know that a walk around a one half mile stretch of asphalt and pavement would bring a sense of closure to a very painful period of my life but it did. When “Meyer’s Mile” was suggested as the name for the walking track at Hailmann Elementary in memory of Sue (Diane as she was known professionally) I was humbled by the thought and pleased for Diane that the vision she had for young children in elementary school would become a reality. The teachers, community, and especially Denise Sanders, Hailmann’s Principal, spearheaded this effort to make it happen. Well done – well done.

Body image becomes a way to shame all too often. Diane suffered from that in school and I did too. Girls on the Run became a real joy for her because it gave her a chance to encourage young girls to stay fit but also to think in positive ways about themselves. What a great program. Thank you to all the coaches, parents, and administrators who support this great program.

There is much more to do on the track and field around Meyer’s Mile. A butterfly garden, benches, and a pavilion for outdoor learning but all in due time. With the completion of this phase it feels as though I have permission to move into a different phase of living. Grief changes into rebuilding. All the plans that were, are no longer, but new plans lay ahead. Reflecting becomes refreshing in a way that it wasn’t before. I return to the verse from Jeremiah again and again to sort out the future, Jeremiah 29:11 “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

Be Well…


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