From Over the Hill

Blessed by a compassionate God with, a loving and supportive wife, four believing grown sons, three great daughters-in-law, and two precious grandsons so far.

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Location: Powell, Wyoming, United States

I am thankful God has let me live long enough to learn that relationships are the most important part of life. Now I am trying to live that way. I am not always sucessful but I am improving.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Activity for the Week - 8 seconds is an eternity

Last Friday Eleutian took our Korean teachers to the Cody Nite Rodeo. A rodeo is something that is unique to North America with some presence in Mexico. It is definitely a western experience you won't see any where else. It is based on skills necessary to run a ranch and started out as just a fun competition during roundup season with some side-bets I am sure. It has now become a major entertainment event.

I tried to explain what was happening and why to the ones sitting next to me. Like always a lot of pictures were taken. The night we went was a PRCA sanctioned event so we had cowboys from several states, although more were from Montana than any other state that night. They kept it moving right along so there was something always happening to hold your attention. I have not been to a rodeo in a while so I was surprised to see and hear the clown with a wireless mike. He was very entertaining. There were the usual events with good competition.

I had a good time and so did out quests.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Driving for Eleutian

Since the last week of March I have had a fascinating job. I have worked as a driver for a company called Eleutian which is based in WY amazingly. They have been teaching English to Koreans, mostly students but some adults too, over the Internet. Not quite a year ago they brought over 30 Korean teachers, who teach English in their schools, to teach them how to become better English teachers by immersing them in an all English environment. We hosted one of the teachers for six weeks in our house last Jan and Feb. The first group went home and now we have a second group of teachers.

I have been driving them back and forth between Cody and Powell along with two other drivers. It is interesting to talk to them, because they know English quite well but need help with their pronunciation which is what they are here to learn. They are taking classes at our college and living in the dorms this summer and next fall. In Jan they will again go to live in local homes and do practice teaching in the local schools. I also get to take them to do fun tourist activities.

This past week we went to SD and visited Mt Rushmore and several other attractions in the area. It is a fun job, I enjoy it and it pays well - what more could you ask for.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Seeking a Pattern - 3

When following Jesus through the gospels, I find a couple of paths repeated over and over. These paths are proclaiming and performing the gospel. Jesus not only taught the good news, He also lived by the principles He taught. Luke in his gospel includes 10 different meal settings where Jesus talks about the good news and demonstrates it by eating with different people.

John Mark Hicks does a good job of relating how much of Jesus’ ministry was centered on meals in his book Come to the Table. Jesus ate and fellowshipped with a wide variety people, those that were believers, the just curious, the poor, the rich, the outcast, the religious leaders, in essence anyone He could find. Sometimes He was the host, sometimes He invited himself, or sometimes He was invited to a meal. One of the major differences in their culture between the religious leaders and the common people was the concept of ceremonial cleanliness. The Jewish leaders’ concern for this belief was a major point of disagreement between them and Jesus. When Jesus ate with “tax-gatherers and sinners” the Pharisees just knew he couldn’t be from God as they were unclean, but the common people loved Him for it. These meal sessions are examples of Jesus proclaiming the gospel and performing the gospel.

I believe one reason Luke puts such emphasis on shared meals is because, there is an intimacy that can be shared when eating together that is not present at other times. This intimacy is not a guaranteed result, as it can be stifled, but it is usually the beginning of a bond that grows with more shared meals. Even though eating together is a blessing, it is hard in today’s culture to find time to share meals and get to know others. It’s hard just to get a single family together for a meal, let alone several.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Yea!! March Madness

It is March Madness time again, and Duke has a better team this year. They won't go all the way but further than last year, if they only had some inside strength. There really hasn't been anyone since Carlos Boozer, in my opinion and of course they won the whole thing that year. If they can consistently hit their 3's they could go to the Elite Eight, which is my pick. What a fun time of year!!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Seeking a Pattern -2

In my previous post, I mentioned that I felt I was looking for a pattern in the wrong place. This is a difficult idea to explain and to some it will probably seem as if there is no difference in my choices. It can be called just a shift of emphasis but it is a shift I want to make. The shift is looking at Jesus and his relationships to be my pattern for living as a Christian, disciple, and follower of Jesus. (One side note, this change is not about right or wrong.)

Have you ever thought of God as a “sending God?” Didn’t the Father send the Son, and then the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit and now the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are sending me (us). Sending me to do what, to continue what Jesus started and the disciples kept doing. Each of the gospel writers may have had a different way of expressing Jesus’ mission, but it seems they agreed on the results.

Matthew 4:23 says he went preaching the good news and healing people.
Mark 1:14 says Jesus went proclaiming the good news of God.
Luke 4:18 says Jesus was anointed to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and to release the oppressed.
John doesn’t use the word gospel or good news but the story in John 4 with the woman at the well I think carries the same theme.

Jesus’ mission was an all encompassing one. He had compassion on all aspects of their lives, their physical as well as spiritual. This is where I feel we have been too limited in our thinking. I know I have in the past been primarily (almost exclusively) only concerned about getting someone baptized. Relationships and concerns about a non-Christian’s physical life was there, but it was “on the back burner” until they were saved.

David Dunbar phrased it this way.
"We stressed the importance of teaching and preaching the gospel
clearly--most of it within the church and for the church. Good
works were encouraged as a response to the gospel and as a way of
saying "thank you" to God for his mercy."

I see the relationships Jesus had with people encompassing all aspects of their lives. The gospel message is more than just a way to get heaven. There is a life to be lived here and Christians are apart of God’s continuing plan to restore the relationships that were broken and are broken because of sin.

We no longer live in the age of Christendom, a time when the church was a partner and an influence in society. We have to earn our right to be heard again. We have to follow Jesus out of our buildings and among people who don’t know Jesus.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Seeking a Pattern

One of the goals of the restoration movement of the early 1800’s was to restore “New Testament Christianity.” Some people of that day felt that their churches had left New Testament teaching far behind. The opinion as to how much varied from place to place. The idea of restoring “New Testament Christianity” is still evident in many of our churches today.

I am not enamored with the term “restoration”, but I am desirous of pleasing God and living according to His will. I don’t want to try and reproduce a 1st century church in the 21st century. It is not what I believe God wants. My understanding is that God’s pattern for His church and for being a Christian was designed so that it could exist in any culture or time. We do need a pattern to follow. I just believe, along with a lot of other Christians, we have been looking in the wrong place for the pattern. The pattern is Jesus and His relationship with the Father, the Spirit, and people.

Relationships are not easy to understand, there is not a step 1,2,3 plan to follow. They stand outside the physical world that is so familiar to us. When I was growing up, it seemed that everything was a five-step process.

Five steps to salvation: hear, believe, repent, confess, baptism.
Five acts of worship: sing, pray, give, teach, communion.
Five levels of leadership: God, Christ, elders, deacons, members.

This was the pattern I sought to follow. Each one of these parts is good and I still believe in them, but now they are not my primary patterns. The pattern I seek to follow now is Jesus and these tangible items above are shaped by my relationship to Jesus. I must admit the pattern I grew up with made it easier to know if I had the right pattern or not.

Relationships cannot be set on idle, at least not for long periods of time; a relationship is either growing or declining. Our relationship with Jesus follows this path. Hopefully we are continually expanding our understanding of how Jesus lived, his reaction to different people, and situations. It seems the closer I get to Jesus the more details I see in the pattern.

This is why I not interested in restoration but an improvement in my relationship with the Father, Son, Spirit, and other people. I believe the same has to happen to our church communities. We must be a growing group that changes as our understanding improves or we will become stagnant and decline.

In coming posts I want discuss the changes and challenges I believe we need to consider.

Seeking shalom

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hello Fiber optics

Well, fiber optics have finally come to Powell. It has been a long time coming. Getting all the financing was a major hurdle. It was all done with private financing essentially. I am glad that was done several years ago because it would have never made it out of the inbox today. Hooray for the private sector. 95% of the entire town now has fiber optics to their home or business, the rest are not connected by the residents choice. Getting enough workers was also a problem and the completion date was missed by about two months, but it is here and I am glad. We celebrated our first weekend with TV in over a year by watching a Duke game (I know that made Jason's heart warm). The Dukies demonished Maryland which has not been an easy team for them to beat even at home.

It has gone winter on us again with the highs at only 5-8 degrees Fahrenheit, and 5 inches of new snow that is not going where with these tempatures. They say we will have a warm spell later this week and it may get up to 32, but that is still cold.

Our Korean teacher is still with us for another 3 weeks. She is really enjoyable to have around. Check out Carol's blog .