Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ole Sore Toe, once again.

On Wednesday of last week, my toe, (the infected one from January) began to itch like crazy. By Friday it was blistered up to the point of worry. I called the specialist that I had seen in January and couldn't get in to see him until Monday. I went to Church, Sunday, in a walking boot, (cast) and by the time that I got home the Toe had swollen to nearly twice its normal size.

Deb called the Specialists answering service and explained what she was seeing. He instructed her to get me to the hospital and be prepared to stay. Well, stay I did. I was hospitalized from Sunday until Tuesday afternoon. On Monday, they took me in for surgery where they broke and scrapped the blisters and removed the Big Toe nail. Then they removed tissue from the nail bed so that they could run cultures on them.

Needless to say, my waking hours have not been very pleasant and my need for pain medication has made me reluctant to write anything of late. The last time I dealt with this the overall diagnosis was Cellulitus. That seems to be out the window now and I honestly do not think they have a clue as to what they are dealing with. All I know is that they kept calling other doctors to come in and look at my toe and the word that kept resurfacing was, "Impressive!" To which I replied, "Thank you! I'll be here all week!"

Anyway, those of you that pray, please do so for me. Those of you that don't, START!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Happy Anniversary, Debbie!

Christmas Eve, 1985, I knelt beside a Christmas tree and asked the young and beautiful, Deborah Ann McKinney to marry me. Her stunned reply was exactly this, "Are you serious?" Well, serious I was and her EVENTUAL answer was Yes and April 19th, 1986 we were Wed. We have laughed many times over the years over Debbie's reply to that Christmas Eve question but 21 years later I can't imagine a day in my life without her. We have a wonderful marriage, experiencing both great times and difficult ones but no matter what we have faced, we have faced it together.

There were people in line at our reception that actually muttered, "it won't last six months!" So we often joke that we have stayed together for spite. But together we are and together we will always be.

What's the secret of our success? First, we were Friends, I've known Deb for more than 30 years. Second, we took the time to fall in love as Friends. Too many people rush into things based just on emotional feelings, forgetting that anger is an emotion just the same as any of them. Lastly, a shared Faith that simply cannot be over valued. Check your egos at the door and put God first.

I married so far over my head that at times, I am amazed by it. I think that's a success secret too. Never lose the capacity to be in awe of the fact someone has chosen to love YOU for life. It's a pretty awesome thing when realized.

So, anyway, Happy Anniversary, Deb! With each and every passing day, I love you more!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Virginia Tech shootings

We have all heard the news reports of the shocking and deadly massacre at Virginia Tech. As a Nation I think that our collective consciousness has been stunned. I keep waiting to hear news reports about the discovery of a second shooter because I don't want to believe that one individual could be filled with such an intense and calculated hatred but as the days pass by the certainty of that becomes more evident.

This tragedy has touched me on many levels. As a Minister, I feel for other Ministers that will be conducting Funeral services for 30 plus families that will never be able to make sense of this. As a member of the human race I feel for those families, faculty and fellow students that will have to deal with this for the rest of their lives. As a Father I am becoming scared of the world that I will eventually send my Son out into.

While the events of this week will affect all of us in different ways there is one thing that has really shaken me. The thing that has strongly stood out in a lesser way is how unshocking this originally seemed. It is the reality that we are now living in a day and age where school shootings are becoming less shocking and more "normal" with each passing year. While ANY loss of life is a tragedy, I think the thing that has shocked us the most, in this shooting, is the quantity of the lives that were taken.

Battlegounds are supposed to be on distant shores, where young men give their lives for the honorable cause of Freedom. Yet the reality that we face today is that any place can be a battleground and we are slowly becoming accustomed to it. We've lost something in our Society and I pray that as a Nation we take it back before the events of this week truly become normal.

My heart and prayers go out to the Virginia tech family and all of the families that suffered this senseless waste. May God be with you in the coming days.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What is "Church" to you?

"Church" is one of those words that can have many definitions to many people. In some Pentecostal circles, to say "man, we really had Church" usually refers to some type of emotional experience in which the Pastor doesn't get to preach. (I've never really figured that one out) To some, Church is social or even political obligation. To others, Church is a lifes work. Church is the hope of help to some and the source of ambition for others. There are many varied and distinctive possibilities of what Church is, depending upon where one is coming from.

There is a line in the Todd Agnew song, "My Jesus", that states, "My Jesus would never be accepted in my Church. The blood and dirt on his feet might stain the carpet." There were some events that occured this past week, (not in my Church) and a conversation that I overheard that took me back a few years.

When Debbie and I were first married, (21 years ago this Thursday) we began to attend an Independant Church. This Church has met for years in a small and overcrowded little building. They had grown to the point where the building was practically bursting at the seams. At the point where we began to attend there, they had built a beautiful, new building that was more than adequate in size, with plentious parking and more land attached for future growth. The Sanctuary was carpeted in a very dark, maroon color. It was beautiful but not a good color for a very public building.

They hadn't been in the building long when we started to attend. In fact, the parking was still a mixture of limestone and gravel. The second week that we attended there, it was raining. I dropped Deb off at the door and went to park the car. Coming into the building I did wipe my feet. I thought I had adequately done so. I went to sit with Debbie. About halfway through the second song one of the Deacons tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out that I had tracked that mixture of limestone and gravel into the building, on that beautiful carpet. It wasn't a, "Hey, just so you know" type of thing. This man was angry. I had messed up "His Church!"

Luckily for him, I had grown up in Church and had become pretty thick skinned. In fact, it even upset him more when I shrugged it off, turned around and went back to singing. Yes, I was embarrased and humiliated but no one there was going to know it! Come to find out, the man was one that most every Church has. The one with "the money."

Now don't get me wrong. This was a great Church and they went on to do many wonderful things and this man eventually grew to at least tolerate me, if not like me. But what if I hadn't been thick skinned? What if I had been someone that just walked in off the street? As far as he knew, I was!

The problem is that sometimes our personal view of what "Church" is, can sometimes overshadow what Church is supposed to be. If our view of Church has no room for the lost, the dying and the hurting then we may as well entomb ourselves within our beautiful carpeting because we are dead already.

I had the privilege of preaching to a young man yesterday that had NEVER been in a Church before. That is hard for some to believe but I promise you that this young man is not alone. The question we must always ask ourselves is this. If they walk through our door, what image of "Church" will they leave with?

Church is many things to many people but the one thing that it should ALWAYS be to everyone is this. Christ, reaching his arms out to the world! Dirty feet and all!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A great Easter week!

We had a wonderful Easter! It began with a fantastic Good Friday service that accented the giftedness of Narragansett's Worship team. Then on Saturday morning I took a group of men to our Regional Resurrection Breakfast in Racine. The speaker this year was Rev. Jim Sky. Rev. Sky shared a powerful testimony of God's mercy and grace and the blessedness of restoration.

Easter Sunday was a great day. It's really hard to believe that this was my 7th Easter at Narragansett. This year I had many memories that took me back to my first Easter there. I presented a very traditional Easter message called, "The biggest Losers of the Bible." LOL

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A busy week

The powers that be at my job have decided that 1st & 2nd shift Foreman will swap shifts for two days this year. Why? I'm not really sure. Just to mess with our sleep patterns I suppose. My Counterpart and I switched on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

While I enjoyed my evenings somewhat free, (tax man on Monday night an Ball practice on Tuesday) I had a great deal of trouble attempting to go to sleep by 10:00 p.m. Consequently, I had an even more difficult time waking up at 5:30 a.m. But I have made it, I think. I have the mother of all headaches today but I suspect it will clear in awhile. It's days like these when I think that being witty or clever is highly over rated!

I'm looking forward to Easter. We are having service on Good Friday and then on Saturday, the men of the Church are going to a Resurrection Breakfast in Racine, WI. And of course, Easter itself. We have invited some family over for "lupper." Hey, I figure if the yuppies can coin the term "brunch" for Breakfast/Lunch, then I can do the same. :<)

There is a couple of things you can help me pray about. There is a lady in my Church named Damari. This week she had an ulcer basically explode, requiring emergency surgery and she is in critical condition. Also, I spoke with my Cousin Joel and his Father in law, Louis Vest went to the Doctors for a lump on his neck. Turns out that he possibly has a malignancy in his tongue and throat. He goes in for surgery on Monday. Keep them in your prayers.