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Highway 67

U. S. Highway 66, or Route 66 as it is usually called, is an iconic, legendary American highway. It runs for 2,448 miles, starting from Chicago, Illinois, and meandering south and west all the way to Santa Monica, California. It’s been immortalized in song—apparently you can “get your kicks on Route 66.” And when I was a kid, there was a TV show called “Route 66” that ran for four seasons, starting in 1960. (I liked the show. I didn’t know what it was about, but the guys drove a Corvette, and that was good enough for me.)

There is also a U.S. Route 67, which runs from Sabula, Iowa (Anybody been to Sabula lately?), going south and then southwest to end at Presidio, Texas, on the Mexican border. Route 67 is not as long as Route 66—only 1,560 miles. And to my knowledge, there aren’t any songs written or TV shows produced about Route 67.

More humble still is our own Indiana State Road 67. It cuts across our state diagonally from Vincennes through Indianapolis to end at the state line near Celina, Ohio. It isn’t very long at all, by comparison. The entire length just misses the 200-mile mark, being officially listed as 199.24 miles long. (That’s 320.65 kilometers for all you Europeans out there.)

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Powdered Sugar Donuts

Every now and then something comes our way that is just too good not to share. This story comes from Cindy Miller’s sister Jill Quick, and her husband Gary. I think of it as “The Powdered Sugar Donut Incident”, but they call it: A story about Powdered Sugar Donuts.

Several years ago, my wife and I were part of a coffee ministry at our church. We had two services on Sunday, 9:00am and 10:30. One Sunday a month we arrived at church early to prepare the coffee table with large carafes of coffee, hot water for tea and cocoa, and most importantly donuts holes: chocolate, glazed and powdered sugar. The coffee table was the center of attention prior to each of the services as folks of all ages stopped by for a beverage and a donut.

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Man in Black

My family listened to Johnny Cash a lot on the radio when I was growing up. I especially liked his song A Boy Named Sue. But we also heard Folsom Prison Blues, Burning Ring of Fire, and Jackson. We didn’t have any of Johnny Cash’s records, but would often hear him on the radio in our car when we were driving. Dad almost always listened to WIRE-AM when he was in the car. That station played country music exclusively, and also carried the Indianapolis Pacers’ basketball games.

When The Johnny Cash Show debuted on the ABC-TV network in 1969, we almost always watched that, too. It wasn’t quite my cup of tea, but they did have people playing guitars on the program. Even if I didn’t like the music, I could still look at the instruments. They even had The Monkees on the show once.

Johnny Cash almost always wore a black outfit. After a while, especially after his TV show was on the air, people started to ask him why. His answered the question in a song called Man in Black. Here’s part of the lyrics: “I wear the black for the poor and beaten down, livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town; I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, but is there because he’s a victim of the times…” The song goes on like that. According to Johnny Cash, his wearing black was a sign of his rebellion, and a symbol of the hurting and downtrodden in society. We’ll take him at his word. But the truth is, he had given other explanations earlier in his career.

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   Not long after my wife and I got married, we were buying a few things at a small department store, and I made an impulse purchase. I saw a small yellow-and-black multi-purpose screwdriver in one of the displays. It was kind of a long tear-drop shape, and you could unscrew one end of it to reveal five assorted screwdriver blades inside. You chose a blade, inserted it in the other end, tightened it down, and presto-chango, in just a few seconds you had the right size screwdriver for whatever you needed. It wasn’t a great tool, but we didn’t have hardly any tools at all, at that point in our marriage. I remember thinking that it probably wouldn’t last long, but it might be useful until we could get more and better tools.

   That was 45 years ago. That little black-and-yellow screwdriver is still in the utility drawer in our kitchen. I can’t begin to count the times one of us has reached for it and used it to tighten a doorknob, take something apart, or put something back together. It has outlasted many of the other tools we’ve purchased over the years. It has more than paid for itself, many times over, and has proven to be more useful than we ever could have imagined. When I die, I hope someone throws it in my casket and says, “Who knows? He might need this.”

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What Does God Want?

There is the usual, accepted way of doing things. Then there is God’s way. And as often as not, they are not the same.

When I came to the church, I had preached here several times before anyone even asked me for a resume’. When my wife and I got one together and gave it to the deacons, I was surprised one Sunday morning to walk into the sanctuary just before the service and see three or four little old ladies intently reading a copy of it.

But I’m glad we got to know each other before you ever saw my resume’. I think it was better that way. For that matter, I’m glad my family and I got to know the church in person instead of reading a description of it. Some intangible things you just can’t put down on paper.

Someone—I honestly think it was Kermit the Frog in A Muppet Christmas Carol—said, “Life is made of meetings and partings. That is the way of it.” And God has a way of arranging those meetings and partings to suit His own purposes.

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Do It Again

I went to see the movie Jesus Revolution last night. It was really good. I don’t often sit and cry during a movie, but I did this one. And I wasn’t alone. I overheard one older lady tell someone as she left, “I cried like a baby!”

Jesus Revolution tells the story of the beginning of what came to be called the “Jesus People” movement, when thousands of young hippies in the late 1960s-early 1970s became Christians. They were sometimes referred to as “Jesus Freaks”—because a hippie was a “freak,” so a hippie who believed in Jesus was a “Jesus freak”.

I was especially interested in this movie for three reasons. First, because it stars Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus in The Chosen television series about Jesus and the disciples. I absolutely love The Chosen. I think it is the most excellent portrayal of a Biblical story I have ever seen. And I wondered if I could believe Jonathan Roumie in Jesus Revolution, since he is so convincing playing the part of Jesus. Well, he must be a pretty good actor, because I never once looked at him and thought, “No, that’s Jesus!” His portrayal of hippie evangelist Lonnie Frisbee is so good, I never thought of him as anyone else.

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I grew up going to church with my family. We sat together in church, me and my brothers and our parents, and our grandparents. There was a nursery for the babies, and parents could take their little children out into the foyer at the back of the church if they needed to. But this was in the 1960s, and the idea of “children’s church” really hadn’t caught on yet. Once children got to be five or six years old, we sat in church with our families.

Of course, the kids got squirmy and bored…or at least, I did. I would look around the church auditorium and imagine what it would be like if Batman or Spider-man swung down from the rafters or the balcony. I’d look around and stare in amazement at the ladies with their beehive hairdos piled on top of their heads, or at the usher who had a really long neck and reminded me of a giraffe. I loved it when my grandma would whisper, “DAVE! YOU WANT SOME CANDY?” She could whisper in church louder than most people talk. And usually she handed me a piece of hard candy wrapped in cellophane. I would try to unwrap it quietly, but inevitably I earned a frown from my mother and a terse “Shhh!” To keep me quiet they gave me a pen or pencil and something to draw on. So I would sit in church and draw pictures.

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Hearing God

About ten years or so ago I had a real word from the Lord. At least, I’m pretty sure I did. In fact, I’m 99.9% positive I did. I’m not charismatic or Pentecostal, and I don’t hear voices. But one night God spoke to me clearly and powerfully through His Word, the Bible. By the way, that’s how God usually speaks to us today. It isn’t that He can’t or occasionally doesn’t communicate to us in other ways. He can do what He wants. After all, He’s God! But if you think God is speaking to you through your circumstances, or a feeling or an impression, or maybe even a dream you’ve had, you’d better evaluate it carefully in light of the Bible. And if it contradicts anything the Bible says, then it isn’t God speaking to you. If the Bible says not to do something, and something is telling you to do it anyway, don’t listen. It ain’t Him.

Anyway, this was back during the hard time when my mother-in-law was dying of A.L.S. (“Lou Gehrig’s disease”). In order to help take care of her mother, my wife would drive up to her parent’s home in rural Franklin and spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday there, cooking and cleaning and helping her mother and father. It was the right thing to do. Rae Anne was obeying God and honoring her father and her mother, just as God told us in the Ten Commandments.

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