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Things I Learned from My Dad

I had a “Leave It to Beaver” childhood. We had a nuclear family in the best sense of that word. It was a wonderful, stable, happy family setting. It wasn’t perfect, but it was very, very good. I will always be grateful to God for my parents.
My Dad didn’t talk all that much while I was growing up. If you wanted to talk out a problem, you went to Mom. Dad was an engineer. He’d tell you a joke and buy you an ice cream cone, and he’d carry you to bed when you fell asleep in the back of the car. But you had your long conversations with Mom.
That changed after Mom went to Heaven. We had a lot more in-depth conversations with Dad in the ten years after Mom died. It was good. Up until that time, Dad would talk to you, and you could talk to him, but the conversations tended to be of the “here’s the problem, here’s the solution” variety. Beyond that, he didn’t say a lot.
But Dad modeled some wonderful things for us. Here are a few things I learned from my Dad:

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The Blessing of Christmas

As I write this, Christmas 2018 is hurtling at us at high speed. But aside from all the scheduling conflicts and budgetary juggling, I still anticipate it keenly. The little boy in me still delights in the lights and the presents. The grown-up part of me looks forward to family gathered and young ones all excitedabout the festivities.

Someone wrote an article once in which they stated, “Christmas time is to churches what Black Friday is to retail stores.” Honestly, that is true more often than not. That’s why a few years ago our leadership decided to purposely steer our church away from show business-like extravaganzas and toward simpler, more scaled-back ways of celebrating Christmas. If we have to act in an un-Christ-like manner in order to prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth, I’m not sure that really honors Jesus. So we’ve tried in recent years to celebrate Christmas as a church in ways that don’t add more hurry and stress to people’s lives.

But I do love Christmas. And I love Christmas at our church.

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I Still Believe

   One of my all-time favorite guitar heroes is Phil Keaggy. He is a phenomenal player who has literally moved me to tears with his artistry and the sheer joy and abandon with which he plays. He was on the rise back in the early 1970s, making a name for himself in secular rock music. But he became a Christian, and to the dismay of many, he walked away from the threshold of rock stardom and devoted himself to Christian music. He has played and sung original Christian music ever since, eventually recording and distributing his albums independently of any record label. He lives in Nashville, TN with his wife Bernadette, still tours, and I have had the privilege of seeing and hearing him play live twice.

   Keaggy has released over 50 albums in his career. On one of his albums released back in the 1990s, at the end of the liner notes thanking various people, Phil Keaggy wrote these words: “After all this time, I still believe.” I think I knew immediately what he meant.

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Pastor Appreciation

I have a confession to make. I hesitate to say it. I really don’t want it to be misunderstood. But here it is:

I dread Pastor Appreciation Month.

Ever since Dr. James Dobson’s Focus On the Family organization started promoting October as “Pastor Appreciation Month” back in the early 1990s, it has become more and more of an annual event on church calendars. Hallmark prints greeting cards just for the occasion (of course). Christian bookstores have big displays promoting it. You can even buy T-shirts that say things like “World’s Greatest Pastor”. (And they look an awful lot like the ones that say “World’s Greatest Dad” and “World’s Greatest Mom.”)

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate being appreciated. I was brought up to honor pastors, and I have expressed my appreciation to my own pastor, and others who have mentored me over the years, more times than I can count.

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Here’s My Story

This month we have a guest columnist. My wife, Rae Anne, has been promoting her “What’s Your Story?” project, to encourage us all to remember and tell our own personal testimonies. She wanted to start it off by telling about how she came to Christ. Here’s her story:

Many of you have heard me talk about how I came to Christ.  It is really important to me that you know my experience with God for three reasons.  First, my story ties me to you in a way that nothing else does. In 1966, Rev. Heinbaugh said it very well in the introduction to the church pictorial directory, “We hope you will find this publication to be more than a way to become better acquainted with your church family.  The book of Proverbs 27:19 says, ‘As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.’  We who have been born anew (John 3:3) into the family of God are ‘bound in the bundle of life’ (1 Samuel 25:29) with the Lord and each other! Rejoice with me because of it.”

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Dear Church Family

This month we have a guest columnist. I had an article in mind, but when I read this letter from Kim Collins, I thought it was too important to bury in the inside pages. So, to quote the Lord Jesus, “He [or she] who has ears to hear…”

Dear Church Family,
I have a story and a confession to make to you. The story is about the 23 kids we served last year during the school year… every day of the week for the whole 37 weeks they were in session. These kids ranged from kindergarten through 8th grade, they come from all types of backgrounds and with a wide variety of needs but they all have one thing in common. They all need attention and love. Some days they didn’t have much homework so they just needed an adult to play a game with, some days they needed encouragement to get through tough homework assignments that just didn’t seem like much fun. We taught them everything from cooking, painting, pottery, to how to build a fire, build a wood bench, or plant flowers. It was loud, and a little chaotic but we there one place they knew they were safe and loved. We have even gone to play board games at the nursing homes on a regular basis. They’ve grown over the past three years while we’ve been doing this and it’s been a privilege to watch.

Now for the confession…we’ve decided to cut back to just two days a week this year. We have a faithful group of volunteers that can cover easily two days and be able to help the kids well… each day needs a “in charge person”, a cook, and three helpers. So, for two days we are good… and honestly, I’m OK with that but the kids are not. They will come the two days (everyone’s coming back even for the two days) but the comments I get are we so want to be here every day. So, I’ve been arguing with God. I truly believe there are some of you also having those thoughts pop into your mind… I should get involved… I could make a difference…that sounds like fun…you know those God nudges. I am still open to having the club at least 4 days a week if we have the volunteers step up that can cover the other two days. This is a once a week commitment, to cook or help with homework or to lead a workshop, play games, just hang out with the kids. So, if you’re ready to stop arguing with God then give me a call, text, email… you won’t regret it. I’ve had each of the volunteers make comments on how much they love those kids… and I know you will too.

Thank you for your love and support,
Kim Collins

Brother Pastors and Sister Churches

This year, for various reasons, my wife and I really didn’t go anywhere for our vacation. We made several one and two day trips to various places around central Indiana, spent a lot of time with our grandsons, and went to two family weddings.

While we didn’t have any exotic destinations, I was glad not to have days of driving for eight or nine hours. We mainly enjoyed the break from our normal routine, and time spent with each other and our family. And, believe it or not, one of the high points of our vacation was a trip to rural Bloomfield.Read More

On the Outside, On the Inside

Even after all this time it always surprises me when people tell me they listen to our church services on the radio. I suppose about once or twice a month someone will tell me that they listen, or a church member will tell me of a friend or neighbor or co-worker who listens to our broadcast. Many people have told me that they listen to part of our church service on the way to or from their own church.

I was kind of intimidated all those years ago when the deacons told me that the morning worship service was broadcast live on a local radio station. This was about three days before I preached in the morning service for the first time. I did my best to forget about the radio broadcast. I wanted to focus on the church service, and just let people listen in.

I’m glad we broadcast it live, “warts and all”. I have no interest in delaying it a week or two so we can edit it and make it “slick” and polished. When I have the rare opportunity to listen to a Sunday morning church program, I’m much more interested in live broadcasts than in the ones that are “produced”. No offense to those who go to the effort to edit; I just think hearing a live church service on the radio (or watching one on television) is much more compelling. Even with mistakes, or the occasional few moments of “dead air”, or the “holy hubbub” that’s heard when we greet one another (or when listeners can hear how off-beat we are when we clap to songs!), I still think its best. We are who we are, and we do what we do. Of course we want to try to be our best and to do better, but this isn’t a sales presentation. It’s a worship service. And I’m glad that people want to listen in.Read More