Two weeks ago I was running the hills of Georgia, visiting with our parents, and playing with my grandchildren in North Carolina. One day I ran a steep hilly course that challenges me. Although my time will never threaten anyone, Beth Gilday’s inspires me with her faith and prayers to keep running.
Springtime in the Southland is beautiful. The very air is filled with the perfume of flowering trees and azaleas! It makes you want to kick up your heels.
Dad is very frail but his mind is still fairly sharp. We talked about farming with mules and horses. His opinion is that mules are much better for plowing and planting. We talked about life in a farming community where people “hoped” [helped] one another. People were not sure that it was such a good idea to have a toilet in the house. “I can understand that. Why would you want to bring that business in your clean house?” He was enjoying making me laugh!
We went room by room through the house reliving good memories in those rooms. Mother and I talked about their future with gratitude for God’s grace, my sisters and their families, church and for friends.
Becky’s 93 year old grandmother cooked a delicious Southern dinner with collard greens! Mmmm! Becky’s mom baked a chicken with mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese. Her father and I talked about the Bible, grace and of course politics.
It’s beyond my ability to summarize what we felt holding our two grandsons along with their parents. Baby Davin makes these little noises all the time and seemed to love sitting in my lap while I read. Nolan takes my hand and we play trains. He has Chuggington and Lego trains, that we play with. He makes whistling sounds, go ding ding ding, and repair tracks, every time he says, “Oh No!” He takes me by the hand again and we run in circles through the house choo- chooing and saying ding ding. It feels so good to laugh and play with him. I remember the days fondly when our children were young and played like this.
I fly home for Sunday worship services. The sermon burns inside of me, “How God Forgives!” The praise and worship is vibrant and inspiring! It always feels like home at Woodland and at the conclusion of both services people committed their lives to Christ. My joy was so intense when one entire row of people sitting together crossed the line and put their faith in Christ!
The services were followed by our annual business meeting. Our business meetings are a spiritual experience for me. I enjoying preparing and conducting them.
Careful and prayerful review enables me to see where we were a year ago, five years ago, fifteen years ago. I think of those who have put their faith in Christ and been baptized. Our world ministries support is increasing. We sent out a new missionary/architect from Woodland. He is our son Chris.
It’s been his dream since he was nine years old! I rejoice at God’s great faithfulness and long for a greater work in Woodland and our surrounding community. I give thanks for a growing and loving congregation’s support and ministry. I’m grateful to live in the friendly community that we call home.
Careful and prayerful planning with attention to excellence keeps a DREAM and a flame burning in my heart. We are increasing our discipleship opportunities, raising the bar on becoming a regional church with a global vision, establishing relationships with new small groups, affirming and mentoring the gifts Christ has given, all to magnify the name of Jesus!
In the words of Eugene Peterson, translator of the Message, “there is no blueprint on file for becoming a pastor. In becoming one, I have found that it is a most context specific way of life: the pastor’s emotional life, family life, experience in the faith and aptitudes worked out in an actual congregation in the neighborhood in which he lives – these people just as they are, in this place.”
Monday afternoon, I had an appointment with one of my doctors. He said, after my exam, “You are the super exception. No one with the disease you had lives as long as you have, if they live, and is in good health as you are. God chose to do good through you, not because you are good, but because God is good.” He went on to tell me that they do not know how I am able to do what I’ve done. When you consider how God in holiness, wisdom and love created us, is it any wonder that He clearly cares about our bodies as well as our soul. God is amazingly good to us.
I’m filled with joy and gratitude, but wondering, “How long Father? Am I doing enough?” The privilege of working with God using the talents, gifts and experiences he gives are inspiring. There is a dream that burns inside of me to see lost people become passionate followers of Christ, preach the Word, raise up leaders while being a loving husband, dad, papa, and pastor. Be faithful, persistent and seek His kingdom first rules my thoughts!
It’s a week of joy, Becky is graduating. We have a long planned weekend ahead to celebrate.
Thursday morning, I wake up with a leg cramp and jump out of bed, to ease the cramp, break my ankle in two places and pass out! Really! From miracle man to broken man! We are supposed to leave for her college graduation ceremony this morning and I’m in the ER having another leg cramp. Four hits of morphine and a Valium, I’m feeling a bit better. The nurse tells me this is going to knock you on your bottom. Err, it didn’t but it was better.
I insist that Becky fly to Florida for her graduation. Pastor AJ comes and takes me home and then to the orthopedic doctor. That evening we watch her receive her diploma on the live feed. She is radiant, beautiful and happy!
Years ago on that campus we would meet in the chapel for morning prayer (I still have our devotional) and then we’d have breakfast before our classes began. She called me from the library where for an entire school year she would distract me from New Testament Greek. More memories! Although it was terrible missing her graduation, watching the commencement made it a bit easier.
Pastor Rick and Paul Gyorke accompany me to the hospital Saturday morning for surgery. The anesthesiologist wants to talk with me about living in the South. He tells me how kind helpful people were. Are they always like that? Or do they call us #%*= Yankees behind our backs. Yes and yes. There really is Southern Hospitality. And we tease about those “yam dankees.” We’re laughing. Another doctor comes in and she tells me she grew up in “All Benny” (Albany) Georgia. I told her she was the real deal, because she pronounced Albany correctly! They put me to sleep and Dr. B “fixes” my ankle.
Five o’clock I’m dismissed with orders to stay upstairs until I see the doctor for my follow-up. I could use another miracle here. Then this verse comes to mind, “He makes me lie down…” Psalm 23:2, KJV
Becky, told me how well the services went at Woodland today. The ministry teams did well, the praise and worship was good and Pastor AJ’s message was challenging and motivating. Pastor Mark was pumped up about the day as well. Kyra and he visited and brought Moon Pies and a book as a gift.
Tonight I’m laying in bed reflecting about these last two weeks, joys and disappointments. In both I’ve been blessed to have people share them with me. Joy and disappointment are better experienced with people you love and love you in return.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT
Peace, Joy and Love!