Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Today my Dad turns 65. My kids called him early this morning and woke him up to sing happy birthday on the speakerphone (a tradition they inherited from my Mom who calls everyone on their birthday and sings – as terribly as she can). Its just after 2 in the afternoon and He just left after bringing over a small sofa for Luke’s room. Dad and Mom average a new sofa or recliner combo every 16 months, so we end up with a lot of their brand new “old” furniture!

I started thinking about Dad and his life while chopping wood earlier this morning. He is now officially retirement age. At least for his generation. My Social Security retirement age is 72! He has slowed down a bit, but not much. He still can outwork any two men half his age when the mood hits him.

But I’m guessing most who read this don’t know much about my Dad, especially the more interesting facts. So here is my list of the top ten interesting facts about my Dad, in no particular order:

  • He was born in a log cabin – seriously, he was.
  • He was born in the attic loft of a log cabin with snow coming through the rafters.
  • He never knew his dad. Something that made a lasting impression on me, because I got to see my Dad growing up more than most kids do. He was determined to be a good father and did the best he could – which was pretty good.
  • Once during his rebellious youth he got jumped by some guys and they hit him with a 2x4. He woke up in the morgue.
  • He shoots rifles and shotguns left handed but handguns and bows right-handed.
  • He had his last drink of alcohol on June 10, 1971 and NEVER had another. No meetings, no self-help crap, he just made a promise to God and kept it.
  • He thinks the Three Stooges are the funniest movies ever made- and he’s right.
  • He first saw my mom on the elevator at the old BATA Shoe company and told the guy with him he was going to marry that girl. Less than a year later he did.
  • He drove tanks in the army.
  • He never went to Vietnam because mom was pregnant with me at the time and he got stomach ulcers thinking about leaving the two of us behind. He had gotten his papers to return to service but then the army rejected him because of the ulcers and never drafted him back into service.

Mom Dad and Me 1967

This list may embarrass him, but shoot, I’ve made a life out of embarrassing people, especially relatives. But please, if you know him, don’t ask him about this stuff. He’d rather hear about  your life or tell you about his grandsons.

The point is, I love my Dad terribly. That may seem an odd choice of words but let me explain.

In the Bible God is referred to often as “terrible”

Psalm 68:35…O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.

The word terrible there in the Hebrew means to morally revere. It is possible to love something that is terrible in power and might. God certainly is. And in his own way, so is my Dad. He brought me up with a healthy mixture of love and fear. I always have known and always will know that Dad loves me. But growing up I had a dire, mortal fear of him as well. And I am glad for it. It taught this rebellious little boy to respect power and to keep myself in place, not to think of myself as being better than others. Dad gave me the tools, through his love and fear, to deal with people and to carry myself as a man. I only hope I can do the same for both of my boys.

Happy Birthday Dad, I love you.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Starting up… again.

This will be the third time I have tried to get this blog off the ground. Both previous attempts were miserable failures due to my inability to keep posting.

Writing is a strange activity. Especially for a pastor. In order to be relevant (and I hate that term), true to yourself, and create a connection with your audience, the writer must be, above all things, honest.

I have a problem with that.

I know, you're thinking, “but you are a pastor, you preach ‘thou shalt not lie’, how can honesty be a problem if you are in YOUR profession?” Its not that I have a habitual lying problem (though I probably do- honestly, who doesn't?), its more about HOW honest I want to be.

You see, I am still a pastor. Currently. So any illustrations from my life have to be either changed to unrecognizable when in print or I need to use no personal illustrations at all. Because to be honest, what I want to write about, will get me into trouble. Trouble with loved ones. Trouble with church members. Trouble with other pastors.

My solution? With this re-launch of the blog my promise to  you is that I will be honest with everything I publish. But names will be changed to protect the innocent. And situations will be fabricated occasionally so that no one sees themselves in a story. But the underlying truth of what I write will be open and honest.

The reason for my disclaimer? Recently I have found myself increasingly irritated by many things. A short list would be, in order: the current culture in our country, the lack of a Biblical world-view among Christians, the hostility in society that seems to be normal and expected. And that is just the start.

The irritation is something I struggle with, because I know it’s not a Christ-like attitude. I don’t want to be irritated by other peoples attitudes and actions, I want to be moved with compassion on them. I pray about this, that Christ would give me a softer heart. But my personality (excessively macho) and my life experiences make it hard for me to believe that I can be helped by God.

There might be your first shocker. A dirty little secret those in my circle never admit to. Pastor’s struggle with having faith to trust God in certain circumstances. We never admit to this because it is a chink in our armor, it reveals us as human, frail, imperfect.

So pray for me about that. Pray that God would soften my heart towards the failures, frailties and outright atrocities people, especially Christians exhibit today. Pray that God restores that “Pastor’s Heart” that they told us about in Bible College.

I have a lot more to say, but I’m going to shoot for 500- 600 words or so on each post.

One more thing… and I’ll write more about this in later posts. You will notice on the side column a picture of myself with my wife Patty. I also have two boys, Luke (14) and Ben (13). I will exempt them from most of my posts except when I want to brag on them. Writers’ privilege means I get to get mushy about my wife when the mood hits (and I’ll warn you that it hits often) and I also get to extol the virtues (strengths) of my boys from time to time.

I will do my best (for it is a new years resolution) to post here often, but only when I have something important to say.

Oh, and finally… Beware my sometimes dry, usually strange sense of humor. Did anyone get the joke about honesty? I didn’t think so. There are a lot of things that are funny only to me.

I pray that as you read this blog, you will be encouraged that we pastors go through the same (and some greater) problems that you do. I also pray that as you read these posts, you keep praying for me.