Saturday, September 29, 2007

Perspective ...

My volleyball team lost our doubleheader on Thursday night. Losing it was not nearly as upsetting as the manner in which we lost. We have done well at serve/receive all year, that means that we have done a good job of handling and returning the other team's serves. On Thursday we averaged 9 errors in serve /receive per game. That is really, really bad. Admittedly the other team had one girl who had a very good serve that came at us very hard. However, that only accounted for some of our errors and we have practiced against serves just as hard. Even with those errors we had 2 games (of the 4) that we should have won, the scores were 23-25 and 21-25. As a result of these errors I was not a real happy camper Thursday night and even into Friday morning.

Then I got a good dose of perspective. To give some background you need to understand that our youngest grandchild, a handsome, happy 6 month old boy, went into the hospital a couple of weeks ago. Their were questions of possible seizures. All of the tests came good okay and he was scheduled for a follow up visit with the Neurologist yesterday. My wife talked with our daughter and found out that the Dr. believes there is definite seizure activity (he had our daughter and son-in-law video tape some episodes of his actions). He mentioned some possible types of seizures that he is guessing are happening and wants another EEG done, this time a long one for an hour.

There it was, proper perspective, jumping up and hitting me harder than any serve possibly could. Suddenly the errors in receiving serves seemed rather minor and won-loss records were forgotten. It has reminded me that often we all get things turned around when it comes to true importance.

So what really matters to you? Is that where you are focusing? What really gets you upset? Are they things that have lasting impact in the most important areas?

I will certainly work with my volleyball team on improving our reception of serves, but I don't want to forget what really matters. I want to show my team that I have life in proper perspective. What do you want?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

We are learning ...

Last night my volleyball team had their first match since our meltdown in the last match on Saturday. If you don't remember go back and read my post from Saturday. We won last night, against a conference team, and we showed some toughness. We also showed that we still have a tendency to relax, or check out, or something like that too often. We won in 3 games, we should have finished it off in 2 games, but the second game was when we had our letdown. The good news is that came back and almost won the second game, but the better news is that pulled it together and won the 3rd game going away.

Most of my players have improved immensely since the beginning of the season and some have really stepped up recently. I even saw a couple of leaders beginning to emerge last night. That is something we have been lacking.

I made another technical coaching error last night. I made an illegal substitution which meant that I couldn't bring anyone else back in for that player without suffering a lost point and serve. So she had to stay in, somewhat out of position till that game was over. Did I mention it was during a close game? She actually do okay, no big mistakes and she didn't panic when I told her she had to stay in the game till the end. Did I mention it is my first year coaching volleyball? I am certainly still learning.

We play the best team in our conference tomorrow night, and it is a doubleheader which means we actually play them in back to back matches. This tests stamina, it tests the psyche and there is no time to practice anything that is exposed during the match.

So what have you learned this week? We all should keep learning. We have real life "matches" everyday, we need to keep studying and learning so that we keep improving in our following of Christ. So what do you need to learn this week?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Monday Musings ...

My wife and I were at a hospital this morning to be with someone heading into surgery (they came through surgery well) so this is coming in the afternoon. We had an awesome day yesterday! Many in our church served breakfast to all the runners of a road race. This race is in memory of a beloved educator in the community who died suddenly a year and a half ago. The money from the race goes into a college scholarship fund for kids from our local high school. We made and served breakfast for all the runners (after the race) and all the workers. We donated all the food so there was no cost to the race. We also manned a water station on the race course. Much of this took place during our normal Sunday School hour, but who learned more yesterday, those who served or those who sat in a class? I believe that those who served at the race and those who served by teaching classes here learned the most, it was the church being the church. How cool is that?

During worship we had a baby dedication, I love doing baby dedications. It is always special to have a baby deciation during a service, but this one was extra special. This is relatively new family to our church. I have had a few conversations with the mom ( a single parent) in recent weeks about dedication. When she decided to do it I told her that it is a great thing to invite family and friends to attend this special moment. She took it to heart and sent out special invitations to the dedication and worship service as well as dinner afterward. She had 16 or 18 people who do not normally attend show up. That is awesome. They got to witness the dedication, they experienced true worship and heard the Word of the Lord presented. Man I am pumped about this one. My wife and I attended the dinner afterward (hey, free food, and it was very good) and got to have some great conversations with the family and friends. What a great day! (Our attendance was good as well, thanks to the dedication.)

The evening service went very well, our study was dealing being a "missional church and people". We looked at some principles of a missional church and didn't get to finish it, so we will pick it up again next time. Our attendance was great. We had a potluck fellowship after the service and nearly everyone stayed and had a great time of just talking with each other.

Here's hoping you will be encouraged this week. Hint: to be sure to be encouraged look to encourage some other people.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What did we learn?

We learned, at our volleyball invitational, that we are good enough to play with any team we will face and that we are not good enough to play bad and win no matter who we are playing. We played very well today against the toughest pool of teams at the invitational. Unfortunately that only resulted 1 win and 5 losses in our 6 games of pool play. The best team that I saw all day was in our pool and we really played them tough and should have won 1 of the games. Then in what turned out to be our final match, against the weakest team I saw all day we lost. We beat them easily 25-6 in the first game and then lost the next two to finish with a very bad taste in our mouths.

Now the real coaching begins, to keep the team focused and looking forward without forgetting how bad that last match felt.

In life we are always needing to remind ourselves that we need to be ever vigilant in our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. That we can never think that we don't need to work at the relationship, or not work at resisting temptation or no work at witnessing to others. With the help of Christ and His Holy Spirit we can win in any situation, but on our own we can't make it at all.

Remember, we have the best coach and never have to wonder if our coach will make the right call.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Still working on it...

I am still working on the idea of a theology of conflict as I mentioned a few days ago. But a couple of things that are becoming clear to me. One, avoiding it doesn't make it magically disappear. Two, sometimes you need to display patience when working through conflict, that is not the same as avoiding it but rather making sure the time is right for working out the conflict not just exposing it. Three, follow up is vital, there must be a sequel meeting after the initial meeting to clear up any lingering misunderstandings. Of course those involved must be willing to meet and talk, without that cooperation the conflict might not boil over, but it certainly is not solved.

More as I continue to work this out for myself. Any thoughts?

By the way, my volleyball team won our most recent match in 2 straight games. We are getting better, but still have a long ways to go. Tomorrow we play in a 12 team invitational and have a difficult draw in the pool of teams we were assigned. I have 3 players with aching backs and another one with an injured finger that is really creating problems. So, tomorrow I guess we will really find out how far we have come as a team, and maybe something about the coach as well.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Separated Again ...

My wife and I are apart once more. No, we are not having problems it just that our schedules of have had us in different places too much recently. Several times our different places have been many, many, many miles apart and has involved a night, or two or three away from each other. This night, and the next two she is about 7 hours away at a women's conference. I am thrilled for her to get to go to this event, honestly I am. The catch is that we have not had much time just for the two of us. Last weekend I was gone, she has been gone a few times recently to help with our kids, grandkids or to check up on our kids and grandkids when they have been in the hospital or going through some medical tests.

I love my wife and I love spending with my wife. We need our times apart and we both encourage each other to have some of those times, but that doesn't mean that I enjoy being apart. My prayer is that she has a great time this weekend and the rest of my prayer is that we can find some time for us very soon.

If I feel this strongly about being apart from my wife for a brief period imagine how Jesus feels when we leave him out of our time. When we get so busy with our own stuff and don't spend time with the Lord, time in private worship, time in public worship, time serving others with the love of Christ, how does He feel?

So how is your time with the Lord? Did you spend time in prayer today? Did you spend time reading God's Word today? How about yesterday? Or, the day before that? Or ... you get the idea. Time with the one you claim to love, that just makes sense doesn't it?

I can't wait until Sunday when I get to see my wife again. In the meantime we will still talk on our cell phones so we will stay in touch, are you in touch with your love?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Conflict Theology ...

I don't know if anyone has written anything about this, but I think someone should. Maybe I will. I have been dealing with 4 or 5 different conflicts today (4 or 5 cause it depends on how you divide them). I realize that every situation has it's own unique fingerprint and therefore you can't have a cookie cutter strategy for dealing with conflict. However, it seems that you really need to come up with a theology of dealing with conflict to have a starting point for each conflict.

At this point, especially at this time of night and after this day, I don't have anything worked out. I just wanted to say that I need to figure this out. Maybe I need to write a theology of conflict. Let me know what you think. I will come back to this subject again soon.

Monday Morning Musings ...

This is a different Monday Morning Musing because I was not at my church yesterday. However, I was with a group of 35 men from Thursday morning to Sunday evening at our annual men's houseboat retreat (see previous post). The news from church was that we had a surprisingly good attendance given how many of us were gone. I am really pumped about the attendance yesterday. My buddy who did the concert emailed me last night and said his voice was bothering him and he really hoped the Spirit came through anyway. I love his heart and attitude and the fact that he wants to give his best for the Lord. My wife said she thought he sounded good and had a great spirit. He also told a big one on me. I will definitely need to get him back for that one. We had some people back who had miss a lot recently and even had a brand new family attend.

The retreat went well. We had some injury, but not as bad as it could have been. Hey, when you get that much testosterone together something is sure to happen. The weather was good, the only rain came from about 3am to 8am on Friday. I know the the 3am start because I was still up, hey it was not a sleeping retreat. Our times of worship went well and the music and singing really reverberated off the water and rock walls of Lake Cumberland. My sharing went okay. There were some great conversations, great fun, a lot of cards played, some cliffs jumped off of, waves jumped on skis, jet skis, and tubes, very few fish were caught, much food was consumed (it is not a dieting retreat), much laughter and a safe return.

Thanks for your prayers for our retreat.

My youngest grandchild was in the hospital over the weekend with possible seizures. The EEG and MRI all looked good so he is back home, but has an appointment with a neurologist in a week. That left me with some anxious thoughts and much prayer since I was long way from him and no way to get there. My wife went down and spent 2 nights there, in fact did not return home until late morning on Sunday. As a result many people pitched in and picked for those of us who were on the retreat and for my wife who was unexpectedly absent as Church began Sunday morning.

How great to be part of a family (speaking of my church) who care so much and so willingly (at least I think it was willingly) jump in and help out in times of need? It is great.

Here's hoping you get the chance to encourage someone today. It is good to be back.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Manly Stuff ...

Tomorrow morning I will be leaving for parts south of here, the purpose of which is our church's annual Men's Houseboat Retreat. This will be the 6th or 7th year for this annual ritual, but it is just my 2nd experience at this most manly of events. We will leave early in the morning and head south to Lake Cumberland in Kentucky and return early Sunday evening.

We will be on 3 houseboats, we will have a couple of ski boats and jet skis to play with while we are on the lake. We will eat well and often. We will play a lot of cards. We will laugh a lot. We will have some great conversations. We will learn who snores (my family tells me I do) and who doesn't. We will learn who needs their space and who doesn't respect anyone's space. We be tired when we return. We will also have some great times of worship. We have great times to hear from God and enjoy His creation. If I do well when I share during our times of worship we will be challenged to be the men God is calling us to be, in our homes, at our jobs or schools, in our communities and in our church.

It looks like we have 37 or 38 guys attending this year. I believe that is the highest we have ever had attend. Not all of them are from our church, some are from other churches and some do not normally attend church. Most are out of high school, but there will be 4 or 5 teens, a few college students, some of the men are married, some are single, many are Christ-followers and some are not, some are over 50 (myself included) but most are not.

I am informing you that I am will not be posting again until I return, unless I do one late tonight or real early tomorrow. I am also asking for your prayers for our travel, and for our times of worship. Selfishly I am asking for prayer for me as I speak to the men during our worship times. Also, please remember our wives and families while we are gone. I know they will do just fine without us, but it doesn't mean that we won't be a little anxious to hear how they are doing and that they won't be a little anxious to see us walk back through door with all of our body parts in their intended positions.

Here's hoping for safety, great weather, much laughter and a real movement of God in this group of men.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday Musings ...

Yesterday was another very good day. The spirit in morning worship was outstanding. It was one of those times when no one could deny that God was present and working. (Just a thought, why isn't that the norm?) Our 5th & 6th grade Sunday School class helped me with my sermon by doing a short drama they had created. It went over very well and fit perfectly with the message. Plus, it gets the kids used to being involved and up front. The message went well, in our series on "Bible Stories Retold", I dealt with Daniel and the Lion's Den. The big thought was that "we need to examine our lives and see if there is enough evidence to prove what we claim to believe". In other words, if your life was examined for evidence of being a faithful follower of Christ would there be enough evidence to find you guilty of being faithful. That is what happened to Daniel! Our attendance was good, not great, but it bounced back up almost 50% from Labor Day Sunday. Some recent visitors were back in attendance and we had some brand new visitors, with one of those promising to return.

Sunday evening was another good time together. Our children had a great time and are working on another drama to help me when I preach on David and Goliath later this month. We had strong attendance, some good sharing of testimonies and a very attentive group during the lesson. Then after the service many people hung around and talked for quite a while, that is always a good sign of connections taking place.

Here's hoping you will live so that you will be guilty of your faith this week. Here's hoping you will find someone to encourage this week.

(P.S. - Pro football began this past week and college football really got going. So here's hoping the Michigan and Notre Dame fans have a large supply of Kleenex available. Hey at least one of them will win this week since they play each other.)

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Have you ever had something happen that made you say "ouch!"? I had a couple of those this week. The first, actually began last week, I don't know what happened but my right knee began to hurt and then swell. Then my knee began to really hurt and swell even more. The other "ouch" moment was last evening, when my volleyball team played it's worst match of the year and lost in 2 straight games. That hurt a lot as well.

We all have moments that cause us to say "ouch". The question is what do you do about them? How do you handle your "ouch" moments? Whether they are physical, emotional, relational or with your team?

As for my knee, I began using ice, wearing a brace and seeing a doctor. I kept doing my normal stuff refusing to allow it cripple my life. Oh, I was limping and somewhat limited in my movements, but I kept doing my regular things. Eventually the treatments began to help and this morning the knee feels better than it has in over a week. It is not healed, and it hurts a little, but I am enouraged about the progress. As for my team we won't know until we practice on Monday and especially when we play again.

How about you? How are you doing with the "ouches" in your life? Are you seeking help or counsel from someone who can help? Are you continuing to move ahead, not ignoring the hurt, but still moving anyway? Are you taking steps to help correct the hurt? Have you even admitted that it hurt? One of the first things I had to do was say "ouch". That is not always easy, but it is necessary.

I know how my knee is doing and I am continuing to follow the treatment plan. I plan on helping my team overcome the hurt of the last match and take steps to correct what caused the hurt. How about you? What are you going to do? Admit it? Seek counsel? Take steps to heal and correct the hurt?

Here's hoping your hurt makes the kind of progress my knee is making. Here's hoping my team does the same. Remember, the choice is yours.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

How do you adjust?

When faced with a change in circumstances, an unexpected change, how do adjust to the changes? This was the dilemma my volleyball team faced last evening, an unexpected change in their circumstances. During the first game of our match, we did not play well and the girls began to hang their heads and lose their enthusiasm. So in order to shake things up I switched our lineup around in the second and third games. Girls were not always playing in their normal positions. Why did I do this? I felt we needed some major shake-ups in order to wake up, fire up and play up to our potential.

At first the girls appeared confused and kept asking what was happening, I kept encouraging and telling to just play the game. They finally begin to play better and adjusted to the new lineups and unusual roles. I learned a lot about my team last night. I learned that I have some girls who want to see the team do well and are willing to do whatever it takes for that to happen. I learned that some girls do not adjust well to sudden changes. I learned that I have to make adjusts on the fly sometimes no matter how we have practiced some things.

So how well do you adjust when your circumstances unexpectedly change. Do you have the attitude that you are willing to do whatever the Lord is asking of you, even if it is not what you planned, to see the Lord's will fulfilled? Or do you require God to check with you before changing things? Are you able to adjust "on the fly", or do you require God to submit his changes to you in writing in advance for your approval? We all face a lot of unexpected changes how we handle them is dependent on our attitude, and on our trust in the one who is directing us to change it up. Do you trust Him?

By the way, we came back and won the match. Enough girls adjusted and hopefully a few more are trusting me and the changes that need to be made.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Monday's Musings...

Today was a holiday, thus the later than usual musings on Monday. My son, daughter-in-law and 4 of my grandkids were here for most of the day. In fact they were here for the whole weekend, it was great.

Yesterday our wonderful summer of Sundays had a rough ending. The atmosphere was than exciting, that may have had something to do with the fact that it was our lowest attendance Sunday of the year. A lot of things are more difficult when you have so many regular people missing. It was a good thing that 7 of my family were visiting. There were some good things that came out of Sunday. We began a month of having our children in worship with the youth and adults instead of their own service. I am trying to have a brief children's sermon as a lead in to my message. The series of sermons for the month is entitled "Bible Stories Retold". I am trying to do some basic teaching and give a fresh perspective to some familiar Bible stories.

In the evening we had no service, but instead asked our people to "Barbecue their Neighbors". It was an attempt to get people to get together with their unchurched neighbors or at least have some good fellowship with family or others from the church. We tried to do all 3 ourselves, but we only made 2 out or 3. We had family visiting, we had 3 other families from the church over but the neighbors were unable to attend this time. We had a very good time of eating, talking and even playing some games. We had 13 kids and they all got along very well. It was a refreshing evening.

I am trying to take a few days of vacation this week, but we are taking it at home. I have rarely done that, and have not had good luck trying it in the past. So here's hoping the wife and I can have some good times together this week without me having to do too much church business. Here's hoping you find some time to enjoy something that is special to you this week.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to me! Actually my birthday was yesterday, but not being one to call attention to myself (be quiet Ranae) nor one to solicit cards or gifts (okay a whole bunch of you need to stop laughing) I waited until after the day had passed. Yesterday was my 25th birthday, I mean my 52nd (there goes that dyslexia again). It was a really good day. I made my famous pancakes for 4 of my 5 grandkids for breakfast (hey they think my pancakes are famous). I went golfing with my son, and a good friend and his son on a gorgeous day (you would think that on my birthday they would have let me win). I played a video game with my two oldest grandkids (they destroyed me). Had a nice lunch, took a nap (hey I am 52) and then we went to a friend's pond for some swimming and fishing. I played another video game with my oldest grandson (I won, I won, I won), had a nice supper followed by the obligatory singing of Happy Birthday complete with "cha, cha, cha" (it's a family thing) enjoyed my cake, gifts and personal cards from the grandkids. Watched little football, played some Rook (my team didn't do well) ate some cherry pie my wife made for me (I love cherry pie) and went to bed with a smile on my face.

I received calls from my two daughters who couldn't come and visit, that is always appreciated and loved. My Dad called me the night before saying he wanted to get the Happy Birthday in early, I think he has earned that right. After all, he to put up with me for a long time during my early formative years (my wife has to put with me in later formative years).

So here's to birthdays, may they keep on coming. Embrace the joy they bring, even if it is the joy you bring to others who get to feel good about themselves as they celebrate your aging.