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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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The Days the Music Died

My musical heroes keep dying.

Most recently (as of this writing) Randy Meisner died, on July 26th. He was a founding member of the Eagles, their first bassist, and an incredible tenor who could sing such high vocal harmonies. He was 77 years old.

Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian singer-songwriter who wrote the hit songs If You Could Read My Mind, Carefree Highway, and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, among many others, died on May 1st.

And back on January 10th, English guitarist Jeff Beck died at the age of 78.

I know there are many other famous musicians and singers who have died so far this year—Tony Bennett died on July 21st at the age of 96, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease—but the ones I listed were part of the soundtrack of my youth. I never really listened to Tony Bennett. But the Eagles, Gordon Lightfoot and Jeff Beck were part of the musical backdrop of my life. So, it’s kind of surreal to hear of their deaths.

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Vacation Bible School

As I write this, it is late afternoon on the second day of Vacation Bible School here at our church. You would be within your right to think. “Well, big deal: it’s summer, and churches all over America are having Vacation Bible Schools.” But this one is different for us. This is the first Vacation Bible School we’ve had in over ten years.

That’s a rough figure; I haven’t looked it up. But it is definitely in the ballpark. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a Vacation Bible School here at First Baptist, Linton.

Now, we have done other wonderful things. Our Board of Christian Education, along with a lot of volunteers, have put on block parties, weenie roasts, hayrides, and events with bouncy houses. We have put on concerts, hosted free meals for the community, and even tried our hand at some, ahem, acting. (Understatement alert: Nobody was in danger of winning any Oscars.) We’ve put in lots of work, and had lots of fun together doing these things.

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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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