What a Transition!

Hammock.pngWhen I announced, at the age of 35, that I was going into the ministry, my then 9-year old son said, “Awesome!” Thinking that he had some sort of theological epiphany, I encouraged him to say more about why he thought that would be awesome. His reply? “You only work ONE day a week!” Yep…that’s right! I only work for a few hours on Sunday morning and the rest of the week I watch soap operas and eat bon-bons with my feet up- what a life! Actually the ministry is few very ODD profession in many ways. I remember in my younger days swearing that I would NEVER have a job where I had to work a split shift. So what do I do? I have my mid-life crisis a bit early, quit my job, willingly go to seminary, spend three years as a full-time student, full time parent/husband, and nearly full-time pastor (almost killing myself in the process!), just so I can…wait for it…work split shifts! I spend mornings in the office, followed by afternoons either at home working on the computer or out making calls. THEN, I often go back to church at night for meetings, counseling, rehearsal, etc. Never work a split shift, huh? I have learned this- DON’T tell God what you’re NOT going to do…unless of course you REALLY want to end up doing it!

Does that ever happen to you? You start the day with the best laid plans, yet when your head hits the pillow at the end of the day, you realize that most of those plans still reside solely on your to-do list, unchecked and unfinished. When that happens, you have to evaluate WHY that’s the case. If they remain undone because you simply didn’t feel like it, that’s one things to consider. However, if they remain undone because other equally important things came up that required you attention…go with the flow. A plan is great, but if you’re not flexible, life is really hard! As I say in church (almost every Sunday), “The bulletin is JUST a suggestion!” This week, start each day with a plan- but be open to God nudging you in a different direction.
#TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

A GREAT Example of Servant Leadership

Servant-Leadership-Attributes-Word-Cloud-2     Here is yet another example of how the church we currently serve has a strong servant’s heart. A few days ago, I “cherry-picked” a Call-Em-All to about 8 guys who are all retired and all very active in the church, asking if any of them could give me a ride to, from or round trip going to the oncologist. The downside to agreeing to a round-trip was that it would require them to either wait at the Cancer Center or drop me off and kill time in in Iowa before picking me up again- roughly 2 hours PLUS the 90-minute drive time. 

     Within about 4 minutes of the Call-Em-All going out (NOT exaggerating), one of them responded and said he would be happy to do the round-trip! So, yesterday at about 8AM, he pulled up, I hopped in and off we went. We got there and he dropped me off, saying he was going to run some errands and come back. Awesome! 

     I went in and had my appointment with the oncologist. It went well. She was happy with my blood work and the physical exam and said I could have the treatment. So, they send you back to the lobby, you check back in for the infusion and you wait- anywhere from a few minutes to a half and a hour, depending on how you were scheduled that day. Then, they take you back and prepare you for the infusion. 

      This immunotherapy infusion is much shorter than the chemo one is. It went fine. And when it was done, I got unhooked and walked out, hopped in with my ride and headed home. We had great conversation on the way home and he dropped me off at the front door– curb-side serice! 

     After thanking him profusely, I started to get out and he stopped me…and thanked ME for the opportunity to help. He said it was a blessing to HIM! It doesn’t get much better than that and is SUCH an example of being a servant leader. And it’s just one example of many I could give you from this church. Can you possibly wonder why we love serving here?! 

     #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!  

Another Health Update

health update     Today, I receive Immunotherapy Infusion #2. Just a reminder- this particular approach is one infusion every three weeks. I will go (someone from the church is driving me since my wife can’t currently drive) and meet with the oncologist, who will go over my lab work that was done yesterday. There will also be a physical exam. Then she will decide if I get the infusion or not.  

     Assuming I do, I will start that about 20 minutes or so after I meet with her. The actual infusion only takes about 30 minutes, but when you count getting everything ready and then taking everything off, the process lasted about an hour. Then, I will come back home! Then, I have the rest of the next 3 weeks to recover from that one before having the next. 

     When this part is done, we will evaluate how I have handled it and if it is helping. Then, we will decide how to move forward. I figure if the oncologist keeps saying, “this will take a month”, this will take 4 months”, whatever, she is just prolonging my life! 

     I will continue to keep you posted as to who I am doing!  

                #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!  

The Magic Table

table    Now that my wife has been home from the hospital for a week, now that both sons have come, helped a lot and have gone home my wife and I begin the process of establishing a new norm. As she recovers from a rather severe knee injury, we look for what we need to do to get both her AND me what we need. 

     One big piece of that is food. It’s something yo don’t think much about until it is ab issue. But food is very important in the day-to-day operation of a life! And, once again, the church we serve has come through big time! When I had the brain tumor back in 2014, they debuted “The Magic Food Table”. It sat on our front porch. Every day, a church member would drop off dinner for the day. And even though we KNEW they were coming, it seemed like magic- open the door and there was dinner! 

     It, of course, went away after I recovered. But it made its triumphant return last night. The congregation is back to bringing daily meals at dinnertime. We open the door…and there is food! And it is great! It’s amazing how good food can be when someone ELSE cooks it for you.  

 So, HUZZAH for the magic table and HUZZAH for the church members yjay are once again stepping up and helping us. We are GRATEFUL people.  

                #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!  

A Miraculous and Wondrous Thing

miracles_signs_wonders     An incredible thing happened at church yesterday! As you know, a week ago yesterday was NOT a good day. Even though I actually made it to the building, I hurt so bad that I had to go home, abandoning my staff to pick up the slack. Not position, and I breathe great day! Between then and yesterday, two things happened- I saw the neurologist and I taught myself a new coping skill. 

      The med the neurologist prescribed, although cumulative and very early in the administration, already seems to be helping, and the coping skill seems to be a good choice. And here is that coping skill. I get up about 30 minutes earlier than I need to get ready. I make coffee and then go into the living room and sit in my chair. By the time I sit down, I can feel the headache coming on. But I sit in exactly the correct position, with my head in exactify the correct position and breathe through my mouth a certain way. I take my glasses off, close my eyes and just—meditate and pray. It takes about 30 minutes, but slowly the eyes open back up, the glasses go back on and the symptoms subside. Those two things combined seem to have a positive impact on headaches for the day. 

      When I went to church yesterday, the headache symptoms were at a relative minimum. But when I got up to preach the first/early service, as I started talking, the headache started to build. That negatively impacts, as you might imagine, my ability to preach. So, I anticipated it was going to be a tough morning. 

     But then, an amazing thing happened. Instead of slowly going downhill and sapping my energy, the services, and God’s power started pushing me UPHILL! By the time the second service came, my drumming was the best, most energetic, it has been in weeks. The sermon was stronger. And by the time the third service started, I was feeling the best I had in weeks. I was energized. My preaching was strong. My voice was clear and strong. I felt so good coming OUT of worship yesterday that I stayed longer after church and chatted with more people. I got home about 12:20PM- probably 30 later than usual. I fixed lunch for the two of us. We talked for 45 or more straight minutes. And the I FINALLY laid down for a nap, so jazzed and energetic that it was tough to go to sleep! 

    I have not experienced anything like that since this whole cancer thing showed up. I claim it as a gift from God and I pray that it’s a sign of things to come! 

                 #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!  

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations: Risk-Taking Mission and Service

Five Practices Logo Risk Taking Mission and Service     The boss needed to call one of his employees about an urgent problem with one of  the main computers. He dialed the home phone number and was greeted with a child’s whispered, “Hello?” Feeling put out at the inconvenience of having to talk to a kid, the boss asked, “Is your Daddy home?” “Yes”, whispered the small voice. “May I talk with him?” the man asked. To the surprise of the boss, the small voice whispered, “No.” Wanting to talk with an adult, the boss asked, “Is your Mommy there?” “Yes”, came the answer. “May I talk with her?” Again the small voice whispered, “No”. Knowing that it was not likely that a young child would be left home alone, the boss decided he would just leave a message with the person who should be there watching over the child. “Is there any one there besides you?” the boss asked the child. “Yes” whispered the child, “A policeman”. Wondering what a cop would be doing at his employee’s home, the boss asked “May I speak with the policeman”? “No, he’s busy”, whispered the child. “Busy doing what?, asked the boss. “Talking to Daddy and Mommy…and the Fireman”, came the whispered answer. Hearing a loud noise over the phone the boss asked, “What’s that?!” “A helicopter”, answered the whispering voice. “What’s going on there?”, asked the boss, now alarmed. In an awed, whispering voice the child answered, “The search team just landed the helicopter.” Alarmed, concerned and more than just a little frustrated, the boss asked, “Why are they there? What are they searching for? Still whispering, the young voice replied with a muffled giggle: “Me!” 

      We’re in the 4th week of The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, based on the book by United Methodist Bishop Robert Schnase. The 1st week, we looked at Radical HospitalityThe 2nd week was Passionate Worship. Last week we looked at Intentional Faith Development. Today, our emphasis is on Risk-Taking Mission and Service. Risk-taking mission and service is an outward focus that changes the world and invigorates the church. Let’s see an example of it from: 

     Matthew 25:14-30- “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19″After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ 21″His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 22″The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ 23″His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 24″Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 26″His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. 28” ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 

This is a fairly familiar passage. Before the master leaves, he entrusts his servants with some of his money. Two of them put his money to work and double it, while the 3rd one buries the money in the ground, returning it safe and sound. It’s easy to think that the 3rd servant did pretty good…or at least OK. I mean, the master gave him 1 talent, and that’s exactly what he gave back to the master…1 talent. What’s wrong with that? We find the answer to that when we look at what the other two servants did. They could have easily followed suit and buried their talents. But instead, they chose to involve themselves in risk-taking behavior. They dare to step out in faith and put the master’s money to work, and the reward is that his resources are doubled! 

There’s a difference between doing things because they make us feel good and doing things because we exist to serve God and others. Almost all churches are involved in some kind of mission and service- the projects, efforts, and work people do to make a positive difference in the lives of others. But when you add “risk-taking”, it suddenly refers to extraordinary opportunities for life-changing engagement with other people with movement into greater uncertainty, a higher possibility of discomfort, resistance, or sacrifice. As congregations move beyond their comfort zones and follow Christ into more risk-taking, adventurous encounters with others, God changes them. 

     There are three truths that help us move forward boldly…even when the task appears overwhelming, even when our first response is to do nothing. 

     1.) We are called by Him.  

     2.) We are simply not up to the task asked of us.  

     3.) We need to respond.  

The fact of the matter is this: risk taking is about what…and more importantly who…we place our trust in. Do we place our trust in the resources of the world? Do we place our trust only in what we can see, touch, feel, taste, smell…and control? If so, we are placing our trust in ourselves! What this passage is yelling at us from the top of this Mountain Jesus sits upon is this, “to be salt and light in my world; to really make a difference for my Kingdom; you must place your trust in me.” And that means at times doing things that take us WAY out of our comfort zones. It may also mean doing things that seem every bit counter-intuitive to our understanding. 

     But vibrant, fruitful, growing congregations practice risk-taking mission and service because they love God and love others. When churches take the risk to turn outward, they come alive with a real sense of purpose as they are transformed…both individually and collectively. Their relationships and conversations change and they develop a whole new purpose of being together. That’s what happens to churches when people serve together in risk-taking mission and service. Are we ready for the adventure that is the Gospel? Are we up to God’s nudges to get involved, try something new, take a risk? What are you willing to risk? 

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

SWJ 1     As you know, I have been writing this blog for long time now. The first day I every published was Monday, September 14, 2009! That very first blog was called “Talk To the Ear”. I thought it might be fun to re-run it today, just to give you an idea where we started! Here it is, as written and published:

I have a fascinating thing that happens whenever I meet someone for the 1st time (or the 2nd, 5th, 147th…)- people talk to (ready?) my ear. Yep, that’s right- my ear. My left ear, to be specific. See, I have a cross dangling from that ear. In their 40’s, some men get a sports car, some go skydiving, some (sadly) get a girlfriend. My midlife crisis involved going to Claire’s at the mall (it sounds SO lame to admit I went to Claire’s at the mall to implement my midlife crisis! Am I a 40-ish pastor or a 12-year old girl?) and having a teenager stick a gun to my head and blow a (small) hole in my left lobe. Anywho, the bottom line is that I have a bit of bling on the left side. When people talk with me therefore, their eyes dart back and forth between my baby blues and my earring. Makes for fascinating conversations! I admit- I am NOT the prototypical pastor. With the shaved head, the earring, the funky soul patch under my bottom lip, and my penchant for classic rock, I don’t fit the mold. In fact, I tend to pick up the mold, smash it to the ground and dance on it! But perhaps that’s the point- perhaps Christians need to spend some time breaking the mold. The unitiated often have a preconceived notion of what Christians are like…and often it’s not flattering. We opine the fact that they won’t visit our churches. Maybe they know something we don’t! Don’t be something or someone simply because you think that’s what’s expected of you. Be who you are- God made you that way. Be who you are- but be willing to listen to God, who often calls us to be more than we currently are. From me AND my left earlobe, God is good, all the time!

 

Tomorrow, I will publish the Sunday sermon transcript as always and then, on Monday, I give you a general update on how I’m doing and how my wife is doing! Thanks for reading! God is good, all the time!

The Trip to the Neurologist

Neurology-307x287     As you know, I have been struggling with headaches for about 3 months or so. MRI’s have been done. No cancer spread to the cranium, praise God. An ENT fully examined my sinuses, my throat and my vocal cords. No issues there, either. Praise God. Then, I was referred to a neurologist. But that turned out to be a rather convoluted undertaking. First, I had a hard time even find out who I been referred TO! Then about 10 days ago, we got a packet in the mail to fill out and return. Then they would contact me to make an appointment.  

     My wife graciously offered to help me fill it all out. (This was prior to her knee damage and hospitalization.) Together, we got it done and back into the mail Thursday of LAST week. Tuesday of THIS week, I hadn’t heard anything so I tried to track down the paperwork. I finally got to the pe3rson I needed to talk to- only to then leave what proved to be 3 messages on voicemail over part of two days. The last message I left was about 11:45AM Wednesday morning. Then, out of the blue, my cell phone rang about 1:PM on Wednesday. It was that ONE person finally getting back to me. I stressed that I needed to get in as soon as possible- partly because I DID and partly because I had heard it would probably be sometime in September before I would be able to get in and I was getting desperate 

     The woman said, “Let me look again.” She came back and said, “Could you be here at 2PM...TODAY?!” Wow! I looked at the time, decided that, if we left IMMEDIATELY, we could make it. So, I took the appointment. Lunch got put back in the fridge (I had JUST started eating), shoes went on and our older son and I took off! It was a bit of a white=knuckle flight for a couple of different reasons but I made it to the front check-in desk about 2:10PM. 

     After the check-in and the usual vitals taken by the nurse) the neurologist came in. She was GOOD! She asked me questions, listened intently, examined me, made me go through a series of “exercises” designed to test neurologic issues and then gave her educated thoughts. In the end, I walked out with a new med- an anti-seizure drug! She explained that A. it was an older drug, B. it proved to be, and I quote DIRECTLY, “a pretty crappy anti-seizure medicine but that C. It showed promising results on neurological pain.” I managed to actually get my first day’s dose in that same day- Wednesday 

     It doesn’t interfere with any of the pain med I’m taking. So, I didn’t have to give UP anything, just add something. It is a cumulative drug that I “ramp up” in steps. I have now taken two WHOLE doses (!) and I will continue to take it for a bit, to see if it helps or not! Meanwhile, I pray for diminished headaches! 

             #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!  

Define “Healing”

15-03-02/27     If someone asked you how to define “healing”, what would you say? Once each month, our Sunday evening worship service is a healing service. And last month, we spent some time talking about healing. So- what IS healing…to you?
Dictionary.com defines it as: curing or curative; prescribed or helping to heal, growing sound; getting well; mending. So we hear in the definition the core of how we tend to view healing- getting well. But what does that mean? I KNOW we tend to think of “getting well” as having whatever ailment or affliction that is troubling us go away- being cured. But what does healing REALLY mean?
I would argue that there are different types of healing. There is physical healing, mental healing, emotional healing, spiritual healing, relational healing…the list goes on. And is the healing for each of those types different? It’s not as cut and dried as we might think…is it?
Now that I have sufficiently warmed you up to the topic, let me ask the tough question: is death…healing? Think about it- is death healing? I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say something to the effect of “I prayed to God that my husband/wife/child/parent/whoever would be healed, but they weren’t; they died.” So the obvious implication is that healing is “getting better” and going “back to normal”. And death is the antithesis of that. But IS it? Is death REALLY the opposite of healing? Sometimes it absolutely is! If a child dies in a car crash or is murdered by some demented coward…that doesn’t strike me as healing. BUT…if someone, child or adult, develops cancer and dies after a painful, lingering period…that strikes me as healing. When my mom developed lung cancer, I prayed that she would be healed. And for me, at that moment, healing meant cancer-free and back to normal. But as the cancer spread and I watched it ravage her, body AND mind, I continued to say the same prayer…but the meaning changed. I prayed that God would be merciful and take her so that she would not suffer any further. Why? Why would I pray that my mom would die? Because I had come to understand the fact that there are some things worse than death.
So, again, is death healing? Depending on the circumstances, you BET it is! Although I miss my mom still, more than 8 years after her death, I KNOW that she is not suffering. I KNOW she is cancer-free. And I KNOW that she is in a better place. So, was she healed? Every day and twice on Sunday! I encourage you to examine what you believe about healing and see if God can expand your horizons!
#TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

The Eagle Has Landed!

eagle    I am happy to say that the eagle has landed! We got my wife home yesterday. It was a concerted group effort! She texted my first thing in the morning, stating that her MRI would be at 9:45AM. She told me what she needed from home. After we got off the phone, I thought about her trying to swing that immobilized leg into the car- even our van. So, I called a woman in the church, asking if she might be available to bring the church bus- fully handicapped accessible- to the hospital. She graciously agreed.  

     I got everything she needed and then- we waited. She called about 11AM saying she was ready for us to come and get her. I texted our awesome “bus driver” we met her and the bus at the hospital a few minutes later. We wheeled her to the ER entrance and used the lift to get her and the wheelchair up and into the bus. I rode with her while our older son drove the van home. We got her and into the wheelchair and out of the bus. She was wheeled around to the foot of the ramp, up and into the house! She went straight to the new lift chair and got settled in. BOY is it great to have her home! 

       We are taking her to the orthopedist this afternoon. Her initial diagnosis is a small broken bone at the top of her tibia and she tore her ACL. We will find out, hopefully today, what the plan is for treatment and proceed accordingly. The church dinners have already started- our first one was last night: meat loaf, potatoes and cantaloupe. We serve a great church! 

     I will continue to keep you posted as this unfolds in time and space. As I said, right now we are just grateful to have her home! 

             #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!  

Wild Last Few Days

august 2019 calendar     As many of you know, my wife fell on the stairs that lead down from the bedrooms to the main floor later Friday evening. She didn’t break anything (we think), but has been hospitalized since. She is having an MRI tomorrow and will then be discharged. She will subsequently be referred to an orthopedist for further diagnosis and whether surgery, a hard cast or the leg brace she’s in now are the best choice.  

     Our younger son was home when it happened- I was asleep. Not wanted to wake me, he called 911 and got her to the ER! He didn’t make it home until 2AM Saturday morning. He went back to college Sunday at about noon because he had to work and then finish unpacking before work yesterday morning. (He works at the university.) Then, our older son drove over from Chicago, getting here Monday night.  

     I spent yesterday 1. getting a lift chair delivered and set up because she will NOT be able to navigate the stairs to sleep up there for a while, 2. making other arrangements in anticipation of her coming home, visiting her and visiting with our older son.  

    Today, we will get her home! (I would for no visitors for the time being. She needs time to get re-acclimated.) Although we don’t know yet when, her next big step will be that orthopedic consult- hopefully sooner as opposed to later. It’s been a crazy last few days. Thank you all for your prayers, love and support. I will keep you posted!! 

        #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!  

Bad Day at Black Rock

bad day at black rock     Interesting weekend. (And I use the word “interesting” with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.) Saturday morning, I got up to find our younger son already up and sitting in the living room. My wife was still in bed…or so I thought. I asked him what he was doing up so early on a Saturday and he said he had something to tell me. After I went to bed Friday, my wife fell on the stairs, landed on her left knee and damaged it. Our son called the ambulance. They didn’t want to wake me, so they just went to the ER. They did some scans and decided that it was not broken. They had immobilized it in a full leg brace. They finally admitted her in the middle of the night and our son didn’t get home until about 2:30 Saturday morning. I wasn’t feeling very good, but we went up to visit her about mid-morning and then I stayed home the rest of the day. She is still in the hospital.   

     Then came yesterday. I got up to go to church. Within minutes of getting up, my head started hurting. And by the time I walked over and got in my office, the headache was already nearly unbearable.  Without sounding overly dramatic, all I could do was sit at my desk, try to deal with the pain, beg God to take it away and, quite candidly, cry.  After about 30 minutes of that, I decided I simply wasn’t going to make it. So, I gathered up all I could think of that our worship director would need, walked up to the sanctuary, gave him the stuff that I gathered and said I was terribly sorry but I was going to have to go home.  Yep – after 22+ years in the ministry, I finally missed a Sunday for purely physical reasons…and I felt terrible about it.  The staff, awesome as they are, handled it beautifully in my absence.  

     Meanwhile, my wife sat in a hospital bed and felt terrible about me. I assured her we needed to focus on her.  Our younger son left mid-afternoon yesterday to go back to college. Our older son is taking a week off to come and be with us and help us. They are keeping her at least until today. She has further testing yet to do. I spent most of Sunday sleeping it off. And now, today, I need to start making some pretty immediate arrangements to be ready for her when she gets home. So, as I said, interesting weekend at our house.  How was YOUR weekend?!  

        #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!  

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations: Intentional Faith Development

Five Practices Logo Intentional Faith DevelopmentAt Sunday School they were learning about how God created everything, including humans. Johnny was especially interested when the teacher told about how Eve was created out of one of Adam’s ribs. Later in the week his mother noticed him lying down, seemingly in pain. “Johnny, what’s the matter?” Johnny responded, “I have pain in my side. I’m afraid I’m going to have a wife!” 

     We are now in our 3rd week of this current sermon series- The 5 Practices of Fruitful Congregations, based on the book by former United Methodist Bishop Robert Schnase. Two weeks ago, we began with Radical Hospitality. Last week, we moved on to Passionate Worship. Today, we stop and consider Intentional Faith Development. 

     Where you and I might be satisfied with a recliner and refrigerator, God refuses to settle for any dwelling short of a palace. After all, this is his house. No expense is spared. No corners are cut. This might explain some discomfort in your life. Remodeling the heart is not always pleasant. We don’t object when the Carpenter adds a few shelves, but he’s been known to gut the entire west wing. He has such high aspirations for you. God envisions a complete restoration. He won’t stop until he’s finished. And he won’t be finished until we have been shaped “along the…lines…of his Son”. 

     1 Corinthians 9:19-24 Though you are free and belong to no man, make yourself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews, I became like a Jew to win them. To those under the law, I became like one under the law to win them. To those who are not having the law, I became like one not having the law to win them. To the weak I became weak to win them. I have become all things to all men so that I, by all possible means, might save some. Do all this for the sake of the Gospel, that others may share in its blessings. Don’t you know that in the race, all runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such way as to get the prize.  

     In this passage, Paul talks about trying to be mindful of the needs of others- under the law, NOT under the law, weak…whatever they were, he tried to learn to be like them so he could better help them come to know the power and love of Jesus. He closed with, “run in such a way as to get the prize.” In other wordskeep strengthening, keep growing, keep intentionally developing your faith, so that it may better impact both you AND others.  

     We need to know we’re not alone, that when we face life’s difficulties we’re surrounded by a community of Grace and we don’t have to figure out entirely by ourselves how to cope with family tensions, self-doubts, periods of despair, economic reversal, and the temptations that hurt ourselves or others. We need to know the peace that runs deeper than an absence of conflict, the hope that sustains us even through the most painful periods of grief, the sense of belonging that blesses us, and stretches us, and lifts us out of our own preoccupations.  We need to learn how to offer and accept forgiveness, how to serve, and be served. The church should be…ready?…a school for love, where we learn from one another…how to love. We need to know that life is NOT about having something to live on, or in, or around, or under, or over…but something to live FOR– that life comes not from taking FOR ourselves, but by giving OF ourselves. And that happens through Intentional Faith Development. So why would we do that? Let’s look at it. 

     Faith development is God’s Spirit working in us, perfecting us, giving us the mind of Christ so that we are able to give love as we grow in our knowledge and love of God. Intentionality is deliberate effort, purposeful action and high priority placed on growing in Christ. Christian disciples should strive to develop and grow in their faith through study and learning. Studying the Bible in a group can open our eyes and reveal things to us that we never would have discovered by ourselves. 

     Jesus encourages us to develop our faith that way: together…with others, following a long line of those who lived and believed before us. Learning in community is exactly the model of learning He used as He taught his disciples. They grew in their understanding of God and matured in their awareness of God’s will for their lives as they listened to Jesus’ stories, instructions and lessons. And they did all this while gathering around dinner tables, on hillsides, and at the temple. Such things can’t be learned apart from relationships. Such things can only be learned with other Christians. Faith is best learned with others. 

     God’s gracious offer through Radical Hospitality invites and welcomes us. God’s transforming presence in Passionate Worship opens our hearts to Jesus’ pardon, love and grace. It creates in us a desire to grow and learn more. But growing in Christ requires more than weekly worship. It’s through Intentional Faith Development- studying and discussing the Word of God- that God’s Spirit works in us, perfecting us in the practice of love and letting us grow in the knowledge and love of God. 

     Growing in Christ takes a lifetime. It’s dynamic, which is why Methodist founder John Wesley called people to practice faith through learning in community, so that we all can see God more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly…day by day. 

     Intentional faith development isn’t just about self‐improvement, but about putting ourselves in a position where God can shape us. It’s about intentionally opening ourselves to God’s Word, God’s call. God uses other people- their strengths and weaknesses, their doubts and fears, their big questions in life, their strong convictions to shape and change usWe all can remember a time when it was only through the presence and the encouragement of a friend that we dared to do something that otherwise we would never have done. Someone who believed in us more than we did ourselvessomeone who helped us stretch, to reach something we would otherwise not have reached. Intentional faith development causes us to grow in our love of Jesus. As we grow in that love, it leads us to offer Radical Hospitality to those outside the faith. That leads us to a Passionate Worship that better connects us to God…not only on Sunday morning but throughout the week. 

     Faith Development comes through learning…both by yourself AND in community…it’s a two-pronged sort of thing. Churches that practice Intentional Faith Development look for ways to help form faith at every age. They look for needs not met and ask how they can better meet them. They train peopleThey explore new ways of forming learning communities– blogs, chat rooms, e-mail Bible studies, and downloadable materials. We need to continue to seek and find more ways to help people grow in the knowledge and love of God. Because ideas change people, and people change people; and God uses both of those things together to work on our behalf- to shape our lives in the image of Christ. 

     There are many ways to be practice Intentional Faith Development – Sunday School, Bible studies, retreats, short term topical studies, prayer groups, Vacation Bible School, training classes, camps, youth groups, shared interest small groups, mission trips, mission projects…the list goes on. My challenge to you is this- we can all be intentional about our faith development by committing to attend at least one Bible study or small group in the next 6 months. Try it- try ONE Bible Study or small group. Commit to it. Make it a priority. Give it your best…not your leftovers. See if it doesn’t make a difference. Healthy, vibrant churches are those which have a large percentage of adults who are furthering and deepening their relationship with Christ, who are growing and being intentional about faith development. They understand that the purpose of the church is making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. They practice radical hospitality and passionate worship, And healthy, vibrant growing churches are intentional about their faith development. 

A Sense of Humor

water to wine     John 2:1-11 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 

     Do you remember this story? It’s the first recorded miracle of Jesus in the Bible. And I was obviously drawn straight to this story when I saw the picture above. And let’s be honest…how funny is THAT?! I would love to know if that was done intentionally, simply to set up the gag, or if it was a capricious happenstance. (I would like to think it was the latter- it makes it funnier if it was done unintentionally!) 

     I laugh a lot. I have a rather sarcastic humor. I am surrounded by people in my house who are funny, witty and rather sarcastic in their own right…and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. BUT…my humorous approach to life tends to stress some folks…oh, yes it does! I have been accused more than once in my ministry of not being serious enough. I have had people go as far as using words like “irreverent” and even “blasphemous” to describe me. Now, I will openly concede “irreverent” at times, but I adamantly disagree with “blasphemous”. I am simply convinced that God has a sense of humor, AND that He gave me one for a reason! 

     Is it wrong to make fun of Jesus? Absolutely! Does this picture do that? Not for my money! This picture pokes fun as us marvelously flawed human beings…NOT Jesus! And if we can’t laugh at ourselves…well…life is simply too short! I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and I TRY to love my neighbor as myself. I am awed and humbled by God’s presence on a regular basis. I would NEVER intentionally do anything that was designed to blasphemous. But I have seen God’s marvelous sense of humor in the way He has dealt with and guided me over the years. And I am appreciative of the fact that He gave me a sense of humor and a love of life. Therefore…I intend to use them! 

     What about you? Do you love life? Do you laugh easily AND often? If not…why not! There ARE things in life that need to be taken VERY seriously…but not nearly as many as we seem to think there are! Live. Love. Laugh. It’s good for the soul! 

         #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!  

A Discovery

cistern     The winter was REALLY harsh. The spring was REALLY wet. And when all of the dust settled (metaphorically speaking), it revealed a fairly big, fairly deep wash-out along the edge of the sidewalk behind our house. Our Trustees called in someone for a consult. It was agreed that we needed to excavate to see how bad of a problem it was.  

     They brought a crew in who cut up the sidewalk and took large slabs out. And underneath it all, what did they find. An OLD cistern. I find that a lot of people don’t know what that is. A cistern is an underground, man-made tank for catching and holding rainwater. It was then used for a variety of things, including flushing the toilet or windmill pumping it out to the barn of water the livestock. This particular cistern was bell-shaped and made of brick that was then coated in concrete. 

     So, they broke the top of the cistern apart so they could get the excavator bucket in it. They scooped out all the dirt that had washed into it and then pour a LOT of concrete in what was now a fairly deep hole. After letting that set, th4ey filled the rest of the hole with sand and fine topsoil.  I assume the next step will be to prepare the area, pour concrete to make a new sidewalk and get the whole thing back into shape.   

     The truth of the matter is that, when you start a project, you simply can’t guarantee what you will find. It might turn out exactly the ay you thought it w3ould. Then again, it might make a hard right turn. And you have to be flexible along the way- go with the flow.  And it is THAT skillset that makes you a better person, a better Christian.  

         #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!  

Yesterday

neurology-neurologist-center     If you read this space pretty regularly, you probably noticed that there didn’t seem to be a post for yesterday. That’s because there WAS no post for yesterday! I had a bad evening Tuesday. We ate dinner that evening and then moved into the living room. I could feel a headache coming on and it turned into a MAJOR one. I ended up sitting I another room of the house in the semi-darkness, trying not to move and make it worse simply being in pain for a while. Finally, it let up enough that I could move back into the living room with everybody else. As it continued to lessen, the tiredness, always present, started to really coe on strong- a common result of one of these headaches.  

     I fell asleep and was sleeping so hard that, when she and our younger son went to bed, my wife made a judgement call and left me in asleep in the living room. Good call. I eventually woke up enough to go to bed- 3AM. Therefore…no blog! Sorry about that. 

     Now, let’s look at yesterday. We had a follow-up visit to the Cancer Center to do a tox screen to see how I was handling the new drug- Keytruda. The answer is- pretty well. So, we spent much of the visit talking about headaches, neurologists, medicines, etc. It was decided that my doctor would contact the neurologist and see where were we are at. Also, we said I could supplement the prescription pain med, in between doses, with Ibuprofen. We then got home to find a large packet in the mail from the neurologist. We filled all that, will submit it today and get this ball more fully rolling! 

     We SO greatly appreciate your prayers I wish these headaches could be better managed, but I feel like we are finally on the right road in that area. We will see! 

         #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!  

It’s Budget Time!

Budget     There are many things in a church that are recurring- they happen either several times in a year or more frequently than that. In other words, everything from almost daily to once/year! One of those once/year pieces has come up for 2019! And that is, in one word, budget! 

     Budgets are interesting things. Some numbers that you plug in the for the next year are going to be VERY accurate while others may or not be, depending on outside influences that you simply can’t predict. Let me give some examples. Thing that you can depend on include the internet/phone budget. We have a contract, so we know what will be due every month- it won’t change for the year. On the other side other coin, the line items that cover the electric bill, the gas bill and snow removal are a stab that we based on the average of the last few years. Why? Because we simply can’t accurately predict how cold it will be in the winter and how hot it will be in the summer. Likewise, we can’t predict how much it will snow. And those realities can GREATLY impact the difference between “budgeted” and “actually spent”. In the end, you do the best you can and pray you come close at the end of the year! 

     I bring all of this up because it just shows more “things they didn’t teach you in seminary”. You either bring that skill with you or you learn it OTJ- on the job! Last night, the SPRC (Staff/Parish Relations Committee- the “Human Resources Department of the local church) met to prepare their recommendation for next year’s church salaries. It is, as you might imagine, and important body of information regarding the church budget. (And I don’t just say that because they also set MY salary!) 

     That meeting went well. (And no, I do NOT sit in on all of that meeting. I simply provide them with some of the information they need to make an informed decision and then go to my office and work until they are done and simply are ready to give me the bottom-line info that I can add to the working proposal for next year. 

     A few other groups or individuals will submit their input that impacts that bottom-line proposal. And when the proposal is complete, it is then submitted to the Finance Committee and the Administrative Council, in that order, for their approval. My standing guideline is this- no group can simply change information they didn’t submit- otherwise we didn’t need the committee who submitted the info. They can, instead, approve it and send it on or send it BACK, asking for a reconsideration based on whatever they are basing it on. 

     By early November, we will have all of that work done, approved and submitted to the next level “in the food chain”. It’s a rather long process for only happening once/year. But doing it well is a very important part of what a church does. And YOU thought running a church involved nothing more than choosing a few hymns and printing a bulletin! (LOL!) 

    #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!  

Needing to Make a Change

pain med     Yesterday was a “tough day at the office”. The pain med that I am on for the headaches seems to already stopped being very effective. I JUST started taking it a week ago today, and I THINK the oncologist said she started me out on a lower dosage. I THINK. But yesterday was good example. The instructions say take one every 4 hours as needed. It’s rather addictive, and I do NOT want that to become an issue. So, I got a clarification. As long as I don’t take it any more often than 4 hours, I’m OK.  

      As the week wore on, I rather quickly rose to take that level to try and keep ahead of it. But yesterday was a good example of how that’s not helping. Given that it was Sunday, I set alarms for every 4 hours so I would not miss a dose. I then got out of bed at 5:30AM to get ready and get out. Pretty quickly, the headache started. I struggled through 3 worship services. On the way home, my wife said. How is the head?” I replied, “Well, it started hurting soon after I got up and when it quits…I’ll let you know.” 

     I don’t have treatment this week- the new one is only once every three weeks. And we go see the oncologist on Wednesday to get a tox screen to see how the Keytruda is impacting me so far. But I am not going to wait until then to see what can done. We’ll see. The whole point of my care is palliative– try to keep me comfortable.  

      It is simply hard to focus on…anything when your head hurts enough. Light hurts. Breathing hurts. Touching your head or laying it against something hurts. `So, hopefully the oncologist can give me something stronger or different that can/will make a difference.  

    #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!  

The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations: Passionate Worship

Five Practices Logo Passionate Worship.png     The Confirmation teacher was taking her class on a field trip to attend a worship service of a different denomination. As they entered the lobby, she said to them, “Now, we want to try and be quiet once we enter their sanctuary. Does anybody know why?” One of the kids said, “Based on what I’ve seen, is it because people are trying to sleep?”

We are now in our 2nd week of this current sermon series- The 5 Practices of Fruitful Congregations, based on the book by former United Methodist Bishop Robert Schnase. Last week, we began with Radical Hospitality- an active desire to connect people to Jesus and His church. Today, we move on to Passionate Worship as we focus on the notion that fresh encounters with God transform lives.

     John 4:21-24-Jesus said, “Believe Me, woman, the time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet, the time is coming and has now come when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Notice in that passage what Jesus says about worship? “Often, we worship things or people we don’t even know. And that’s true- us Americans worship all sorts of things- sports stars, movie stars, singers, power, position, wealth…the list goes on. You name it, somebody worships it.

Then, Jesus goes on- true worshipers worship God in spirit and in truth. They’re the kind of worshipers God wants. And I don’t know about you, but /I WANT to be that kind of worshiper!

Jesus also says that God is Spirit and that’s why we should worship Him in spirit and in truth. And that sounds great, but what does it mean? It means we should worship God with all our heart/soul, mind and strength AND…we should do it passionately.

Think about the word for a second- passionate. It seems almost a little risqué, doesn’t it? I mean, “passionate” is supposed to describe a romance novel, NOT a worship service. Right?

Last week we talked about the importance of having these adjectives in front of the nouns in the titles. We said that, without the modifier “radical” in front of it, “hospitality” simply means  status quo. Likewise, the word “worship”, unless it is accompanied by a modifier like “passionate”, simply means business as usual.

You know me- I LOVE words. And I love to unpack them. Our word” comes from the Latin word “passio” and the Greek word “pathos”. Both of those ancient words refer to a deep feeling, particularly of a painful or difficult “suffering” variety. OK. Dictionary.com also doesn’t sound very happy about the whole thing-

any powerful emotion or appetite- such as love, hate, anger, strong desire/lust, boundless enthusiasm…an abandoned display of emotion! And then they give this example- ”He killed her in a fit of passion!” Yikes!

Remember the movie “The Passion of The Christ”? In that context, the word “passion” refers directly to the suffering of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and especially at the crucifixion. So, we passionately worship because of the passion of the cross! It would be great to focus on something nicer, less demanding and more sanitized and civilized when we worship. But it simply wouldn’t be completely authentic, REAL worship if there was no passion.

Now, the word “worship” comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase “worth-ship” or “worthy work”. Carry that out- worship means work that is worthy…worthy of God. The question is- do we actually DO it? And the honest answer is- sometimes yes…and sometimes no.

So, how could we be more vitally connected to, deeply centered and vibrantly creative passionate worship? Passionate worship centers around people who are honest before both God and each other. They are more open to God’s presence and His will for their lives. And they are so eager for such worship that they are willing to reorder their lives to achieve it.

Passionate worship, at the end of the day, is a living thing that requires continued care, cultivation and effort to keep fresh. And our motivation to enhance the quality of worship is not only about deepening our faith. It’s also about letting God use us to offer hope, life and love to others. Worship is a sacred trust that requires our utmost for His highest!

So again, why do we worship? Why do we gather together and lift our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service and our service? What’s the point? If it’s simply about acquiring more head knowledge, we could read a book, attend a lecture or take a class. But it’s something else altogether. Why do we keep coming back to church? Why do we worship?

Do we keeping coming because we have to? Is it because Sunday is when “good” people go church, even if they’d rather stay home in bed, drinking coffee and doing the Sunday crossword puzzle? No- there is something deeper going on here. Do we it because we believe it’s the good, right, joyful and necessary thing to do? Do we believe it’s what God wants us to do to help us remember who we are and Whose we are?

I think, deep in our hearts, we worship because we want to be inspired, excited, motivated and passionate. We want to better connect with the passion of The Passion. At its core, worship is not about thinking, so much- it’s not merely an intellectual exercise. Worship is fundamentally a matter of the heart, but not just emotion. It’s NOT just some abstract theological construct. It’s real, radically real.

Maybe you think I get a little carried away with how important worship is- that I make too big deal out of the whole thing. And, if it helps to consider the source, knock yourself out! It’s what I do. It’s what I love. It’s who I am. In our worship, in our “worthy work”, we want to do our best to live up to God’s call to love. We want to let God guide us, teach us, feed us, lead us, empower us and encourage us to be passionate.

One day, while on patrol in the South Pacific, a Navy ship spied smoke on an uncharted island. It was coming from 1 of 3 crudely constructed huts that were visible. When they sent a team ashore to investigate, they discovered a lone shipwreck survivor, “I’m SO glad you’re here! I’ve been alone on this island for 5 years!” The team leader asked him, “If you’re alone, why are there 3 huts?” The man replied, “I live in one and go to church in another. “Well, what about the 3rd hut?” “Oh! That’s where I USED to go to church. But then things changed!”

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in love. We love using “in love” images, don’t we? Why? Because we love being swept away by something so powerful and passionate. Have you ever been so in love that it caused you to say, “I would die for you”? I have- with my family. And that is precisely the point- God loves us so much that He died for us.

In the Bible, Abram and Sarai get new names- Abraham and Sarah. Simon and Saul get new names- Peter and Paul. Each of us has a new, unique, precious name. And we all have the SAME name: Beloved. It’s your name. It’s my name. It’s everybody’s name. And it’s an honor to remind everybody of that. That’s why we come to worship. That’s why we want it to be joyful, fulfilling, nourishing, energetic and passionate. We WANT to worship because we are God’s beloved!

The Gig Bag of Life

gig bag(This is a “greatest hit” from a few years ago,  ( struggled with s headache much of the day.) The thing in the picture you see is a gig bag. It is designed, obviously, to hold drumsticks. There are a variety of gig bags, but the one in the picture is the one I have. (That is not my particular one, but the same model.) I probably have 18-20 pairs of SOME kind of percussion sticks or mallets in mine. And they each tell a story!

The thing I have the most of are your basic drumsticks. But like most drummers, I don’t really like or use “basic” drumsticks. Drummers have their favorites. Oh sure, they can play with whatever is available, but they PREFER a particular make and model. Zildjian, the Cadillac of cymbal makers, also makes a line of drumsticks. I use the Zildjian Dipstick. (Seems fitting, doesn’t it?!) It is a blonde wood that has been DIPPED (get it now?) in some kind of rubber. It coats the stick starting at the butt end (I used to snicker at that as a Junior High boy!) and running about 2/3 of the way toward the tip. It provides a better, less slick grip. They make a variety of colors but I prefer the basic black model.

The shape of the tip of the stick is important, too. There are some that have a sort of ball shaped tip. Others have a more teardrop shaped tip. I prefer the teardrop. Also, some tips are simply natural wood while others are nylon-coated. I like the nylon coating because of the sound it makes on the cymbal! The weight and diameter of the stick are important, too. The heavier the stick, the more sound it produces. For playing in the church setting in which I currently play, I prefer the 7A.

In addition to “regular” drumsticks, I have a variety of other things as well. I have wire brushes that retract into the handle. I have 2 different types of plastic brushes that do NOT retract into the handle! I have a pair of tympani mallets. I have three different kinds of bamboo brushes. I would guess that most “set” drummers don’t carry tympani mallets, but they are helpful for some cymbal rolls. I also have 3 different types of drum keys- used to tune the drums. I have a special tool that measure the torque on the screws that tighten down the drum head, so that I can be sure all the screws are tightened to the same level.

Bottom line- there is a LOT of things in my gig bag. Some of the pieces I use a LOT and some I seldom use. But ALL of them are important…otherwise I wouldn’t bother to have them in the bag. The same is true of God’s people. We all have a place. We all have a purpose. Some have a purpose that is more “high profile” and gets notice more. Others have a purpose that puts them more “behind the scenes” and less noticed…but NOT less important. That’s the awesome thing about God- while we may be RADICALLY different from each other out in the “real world”, in God’s eyes we are just as radically equal!

Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!\