Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Recently I took an advanced motorcycle training course to sharpen my riding skills. It was about five hours in length and focusing on improving riding skills to minimize potential accidents. I had been wanting to take such a course for some time, but I hadn't found one available.

My motorcycle mentor, Jim Woodford, called a few weeks back and informed me of this course so I signed up. Actually, Jim was the instructor. He is a certified motorcycle safety instructor and an outstanding motorcyclist. I was excited about the chance of taking the class.

When we arrived for the course, Jim started the class with basic information. We also had to do a motorcycle checklist to show the road worthiness of our individual motorcycles. We rode our own motorcycles for this class so they had to proven to be in proper mechanical shape.

"Big Red" passed with flying colors. From tire pressure to lights and electrical, everything was in order. Good motorcycle safety begins with the motorcycle proving to be road worthy.

Then it was out to the "range" where we would be riding. Jim directed us to the first exercise and then demonstrated how to do it by riding through the course for us to watch him. That looked really easy to me. I didn't see a problem doing what he demonstrated.

Then it was our turn.

I followed the other 11 motorcyclist and began to do what he had just demonstrated. Then I realized how much better he was at riding a motorcycle than me. I couldn't do it. It wasn't easy at all. I couldn't make the turns and weaves he was making.

With a little practice that morning I began to get better. As I worked through the course, Jim and his partner would applaud when I or other riders improved or succeeded. I can't tell you how encouraging a little applause was to me that day.

All of us need a little encouragement from time to time. I know I did. Their encouragement  was motivating and stimulating. I got better and felt heartened. I began to do better each run through the course.

There is a lesson there. Why not be an encourager rather than a doubter or downer? Why not lift up rather than suppress or devalue? Why not offer a helping hand rather than a judging hand?

I think I'll be an encourager today.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Saturday I ran the 5 mile Ortega River Run here in Jacksonville. It is an annual run that serves as a tune-up run for the upcoming 15K Gate River Run on March 9 this year. I have run the Ortega Run a number of times and was hoping to make this year's run my best run time wise.

When I arrived for the race, I positioned myself up toward the start line with the faster runners so as not to have to swerve past slower runners as the race started. My recent times have been good so I thought I was ready for an even faster run.

The gun went off and the race began. It was a fast pace but I kept up as I hoped to pace myself to a better run. When I got to the first mile marker of the race, I was shocked with how fast I had ran. It was an 8 minute mile.  It was my fastest time ever for a mile. Then I realized my mistake. It was too fast as I had four more mile to run.

It was hot and humid. I mean really hot and humid in comparison to the recent weather that I had been training in. I was spent with four miles to go.

The good news is that I finished with my best time ever for Ortega River Run. My time was 49:35, but I was not pleased. I had run a 5 mile run earlier in the week at a time of 46 minutes flat. I was disappointed.

Here is what happened.

My 46 minute 5 mile run earlier in the week didn't include any bridges and the Ortega Run has two bridges to cross and that slows you down. It was much hotter and humid for the Ortega Run and that slows your time. I realized that I had not properly hydrated for the Ortega Run and with all that humidity that was a killer. I hadn't sleep well the night before the Ortega Run.

Finally, I started with too fast a pace and finished weakly. Running an 8 minute first mile for me is not smart. That all will have to change for the River Run. That is my goal to do better, run smarter, and finish strong.

I am on the final two week countdown to the River Run. I am getting stronger and better. I hope to have a great race.

Friday, February 22, 2013


I am headed down the stretch toward the 15K Gate River Run. Thursday morning I did a fast 2 mile run with a time under 9 min per mile. That's not great, but I think it's ok for me. I'm increasing my pace in running. I look at my time watch through the run to gauge my pace and keep it at the right time per mile. That takes focus and mental determination.

Life is like that in that too often we're not focused and not living intentionally. We take life as it comes rather than under God making life happen. We don't rid ourselves of unnecessary weights and they weigh us down.

Can you imagine me carrying a 25 pound weight in my arms to do a 15K run? Don't worry. I am not doing that, but I was carrying 25 extra pounds around my waist that I no longer carry. Discipline, hard, work, and focus have helped me eliminate those extra pounds.

Saturday I am running the 5 mile Ortega River Run. I have run this race five or six times, and I hope that this year will be my best run yet. I ran a practice 5 mile run earlier this week and did it in 46 minutes. That's not bad either. I hope to beat that time on Saturday.

I am claiming 100 years of long life. Of course that is in God's hands, but I am going to try to help Him by making as good of life and health choices as I can.

Today I ran two miles toward better health and a better life. With God, I can do all things and run the race of life and finish strong. Thank you Lord for your help. Amen!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Wanda and I enjoyed having long-time friends from Bartow, FL, in our home this past weekend. Les and Jill Barr are members of the Bartow Assembly where I pastored in the '80's. We have great memories of fun and fellowship with them. Wanda especially has been close to them for many years after I left the pastorate there.

Les and I have played some serious tennis matches as he has a hard booming serve. He is very competitive and so am I. So our tennis games were serious and intent. Yes, we had fun, but fun includes bragging rights. I don't know who won the most, but I know we burned tons of calories. Jill played also but in doubles.

They brought friends, Wayne and Debbie Elliott, with them. All four came up to help plan a conference that will be hosted by our church this June for Royal Rangers. Royal Rangers is a christian outreach and discipleship ministry to boys that centers on camping and other activities that young boys love.

Wayne and Les are both highly committed and skilled in this area. Les serves the Assemblies of God as the Southeast Regional Commander to oversee training and development of leaders. When I was his pastor in Bartow,  I asked him to become the commander of our local Royal Rangers Post, and he has used his gifts and talents to touch countless boys lives. Wayne has similar gifting.

Wanda is a fantastic host. She could manage a bed and breakfast with style. In fact, I think she does. I am so proud and thankful for her and the many ways she blesses our home and family. She makes me look good.

Having fun with friends and making new friends is special. People make life worthwhile. Yes, there are risks and there is work, but life is a risk and work is part of life.

We had fun times talking and sharing and eating Wanda's comfort foods. Oh my, that was a delicious pound cake. Wow! Hospitality is a great gift. It is part of the qualifying of the calling for ministry. Paul wrote that if a man isn't hospital then he doesn't qualify to be a pastor. Well, Wanda qualifies me to be a pastor, and she blesses others. Greg and Becky Riley from our church here joined us for Sunday lunch to help plan the conference. They are key leaders of our Royal Ranger Post here at Southside.

People tell us that they feel peace in our home. I know where that comes from. It comes from the Lord, and it comes from the peace of God in our hearts. People feel that peace. I am thankful.

Monday, February 18, 2013


I have felt the anointing of God upon my life. It is a peaceful, sweet awareness that God's presence is with me and in me. It is cleansing and sanctifying and empowering. The anointing of God's Spirit is not to be taken or used lightly. It is holy and pure.

In recent weeks as I have left church after ministering, there has been a very unusual awareness of God's Spirit in me. I can't totally explain it, but I know it is real. It is uplifting and edifying and strengthening. It fills my being with peace and pure joy. It is like something from another world. It is.

God's Word tells us over and over that we can and should be filled with His Spirit. Jesus came be real in our hearts. His Spirit can fill us.

Through this anointing, there is power to live for Jesus and fulfill His work and will. This is not for a select few, but God's Word indicates this is for whoever is hungry and thirsty for more of the Lord.

So today I open my heart for more of His Spirit. His Spirit will help me to fulfill His call upon my life to bless my family, to preach His Word and strengthen believers.

Oh Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit today. Take away anything in my life that does not honor you. Anoint me to be a vessel of honor to bring glory to your name. May the words of my mouth and the mediations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer. Amen.

Friday, February 15, 2013


I am running 9 miles this morning, Lord willing.

This is in preparation for the upcoming 15K Gate River Run on March 9. It is 9.3 miles so if I complete my Friday morning run I will have run 15K minus .3 miles. Hopefully I can do that in less than a 10 minute mile average. That would be 9 miles in 90 minutes. That is my goal.

My goal is to also lose 10 lbs before March 9 so I will be 10 lbs lighter. That would be obvious. Not carrying 10 extra pounds should help me toward my goal of finishing in 90 minutes. I don't know if the 90m goal is attainable, but that is what I am pushing to do.

Why is that important? Good question.

I want to beat my previous River Run best by 6 minutes. I believe it is attainable, but I will have to get over those bridges and that is where the pain comes. I have been running the downtown bridges once each week to prepare. It is tough running uphill for half a mile or so. That is all the more reason to lose 10 pounds.

Image carrying a 10 weight on a 9.3 mile run. That wouldn't be any fun, but carrying it around your waist is the same difference. I feel those pounds pulling me down, slowing me, dragging me.

What does it take to run a 15K?

Training, sweat, determination, and perseverance. This doesn't come easy, but I can do it.

I hope to get back to my weight of 178 pounds before the race. Pray that I will make it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


It is very hard for a preacher to stay thin. Last week one precious church member offered strawberry shortcake with whipped cream at a delicious luncheon that Wanda and I enjoyed in their home. At a funeral dinner, another church member baked a fabulous peanut butter cake just for me, she said. There was some serious calories in those deserts, and man were those cakes and pies good!

Then a preacher's work is primarily sedentary. We study. Sit behind a desk. We counsel. We fellowship. While the act of preaching is physical, there isn't enough exercise in that to keep one fit.

Then there is the mental, emotional, and physiological strains. While I am thankful for God's call on my life to preach and pastor, sharing in carrying the needs, burdens, trials, and problems of others can be impacting and in the process add to the physical problems pastor's face. I won't say I eat because of the strains and rigors of pastoring, but I will say that stress pushes one toward comfort foods. Ha!

What is one to do?

Well, gluttony is a sin.

My, that is blunt, but true.

I don't want to sin so I guess I have to look at the alternatives.

Through the years I have incorporated various ways to get some physical exercise. I have enjoyed tennis, bicycling, walking, swimming, jogging and running, working in my yard, doing various video workout programs, going to the gym, basketball, and other forms of physical exercise.

I have also made adjustments in my diet.

I gave up sodas years ago. I gave up sweeteners in my coffee after Wanda and I married. She helped me with that one. I gave up fried foods and have tried to pay attention to portion sizes at meals. I have tried to eat slower to enjoy my food and better digest it. This helps to get the sense of fullness quicker and thus not tend to over eat. I have chosen to eat a lite snack midmorning and mid-afternoon to help me not to get too hungry and then overeat at meal times.

Why do all of this? Because preachers tend to get fat due to the previous things mentioned. I want to be my best and enjoy life. Taking care of my body will help me do that and also help me to be an encourager to others to do the same.

So, Lord help me today to take care of my body so I can honor you and bring glory to your name.


Monday, February 11, 2013


My day begins every morning reading the Word. I am using a 6 month Bible program to read through God's Word every six months. Then I spend a few moments in prayer. Later in the morning Wanda and I have a devotional and prayer time.

We pray for our children and grandchildren and parents and siblings. We call them by name and pray over any particular needs we are aware of in their lives. We also pray for our church staff and leaders and our church family. Prayer changes things. It moves mountains. It is the difference maker.

Sunday after church a young man came up to the altar and shared how much he enjoyed the church service. He said that Sunday church sets the pace for his week. It cleanses and blesses. He was so excited. He is right.

And so does morning devotions. They help set the pace for the day. One connects with God right from the beginning of the day. That is how I feel.

Where did I get this discipline?

I learned it growing up as a boy in our home. We prayed together every morning. We might miss the bus or be late, but we prayed together. Those prayers kept me as I grew up, and now these many years as an adult I have continued to follow that discipline because it still works.

Worry is conquered through prayer.

Mountains are brought low through prayer.

Wisdom is received through prayer.

Strength is renewed through prayer.

Problems are solved through prayer.

Families are united through prayer.

I have on my nightstand a small card that reads, "Nothing is too hard for God." I read it every morning. It is an encouragement to me and reminds me that there is nothing I will face through the day that is too big for my God.

Morning devotions are a huge source of enrichment in my life. Thank God that He is waiting every morning for our private time.


Friday, February 8, 2013


Surprise! I'm back.

I have written over 1,000 blogs and only skipped a handful of days in writing, but I took off the first part of this week. Actually, I have been funeralizing. That's not a real word. I just made it up. One of our precious saints here at the church I pastor went to be with the Lord, and then another in a church I pastored 35 years ago passed. So this week I have been busy ministering to those who have lost dear ones.

Death is part of life. We don't have to fear death or even dread it, if we are a believer. Jesus defeated death at Calvary. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

One day there will be no more death, but until then we must fight the good fight of faith, even through death. We don't have to fear walking through the valley of the shadow of death for Jesus is with us, but for those who remain there is pain and loss to deal with.

Grieving is a process, but misery is a choice.

Pain, denial, anger, hurt, acceptance and healing all are a part of that grieving process. Grief isn't dealt  with in a couple of weeks or months. It takes a couple of years or more to go through the process, and then the pain still doesn't go away. You just don't hurt as long as you once did.

What have I learned in preaching untold funeral sermons these forty plus years of ministry?

I have learned that Jesus is real and the comfort of the Holy Spirit is real.

I have learned that grief can be overcome.

I have learned that people don't need all of my sermons. They need a listening ear and a caring heart.

I have learned that a tender heart means more than a profound, stirring sermon.

I have learned that heaven is real and that in Jesus we have eternal hope.

I have learned that life if brief and can end in a moment.

I have learned that being ready for eternity is all that matters.

I have learned that only what we do for Christ matters.

Friday, February 1, 2013


Getting the attention of a man can be challenging for wives. Ladies need time, tenderness, and touch. The time part includes listening and getting it. Men aren't the best listeners. Until someone has listened not much communication has occurred. Men get caught up in their singular focus and grunt and nod and miss tons of information, and I mean importance information.

So how did Wanda catch me?

Well, she has used the Internet.


That's where we're all spending our time. That is what has caught our eye and ear. That's what we're watching and reading.

So here is the deal. She posts her "Honey Do" list on her Notes App on her computer and it automatically goes to mine for me to read via Internet and I follow through with and complete. I can't say I didn't get it or hear it. It is written down all neat and nice.

After she posted it she wrote, "I love you for doing this for me."

What can I say? How can I turn that down, not that I wanted to anyhow.

Computers and TV take too much of our time, but it can also be productive. Wanda has found an App that works for her and us. Good deal!