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From the Pastor's Desk


Lee.jpg I Am Losing My Mind!

Those of you who know me, know this is a true statement.  But what does it mean?  And is it a good thing?

It might mean I have "bats in my belfry."  That is an old phrase that goes back more than a hundred years.  It basically means I am crazy, or eccentric, or I act in a foolish manner.  I don’t deny the shoe fits.  But I do not have a belfry.  And if I did, why would there be bats in it?  Perhaps "bats in my belfry" is related to "squirrels in my attic."  I have had those, and they are no fun.  They kept me awake at night with their running around on my ceiling.  Speaking of squirrels in attics …

Two ministers and a rabbi were having lunch together.  The Methodist minister brought up the problem they were having with squirrels getting in the church attic.  The squirrels were making so much noise that it interfered with the Sunday worship service.  He said they had been catching them and taking them out to the farm of a member and turning them loose, but they always made their way back to the church.  It was driving them nuts (pun).  The Baptist minister gave him all kinds of sympathy because his church had experienced the same kind of problem.  He said they caught their squirrels too, but before they turned them loose, they baptized them.  Now they only come around on Christmas and Easter.  The Jewish rabbi was sympathetic to both of them.  They had experienced squirrels in the attic of the synagogue.  He said they caught one - they circumcised him - and they think the rest of them went over to the Methodist church.  S-m-a-r-t.

Another meaning may be that my mind is not what it was when I was younger.  A normal part of aging is the loss of mental function.  My memory is not as good as it used to be.  I have always had difficulty remembering names, but now I can be in a conversation about someone and forget his/her name.  I also have the ability to forget to wish people "Happy Birthday" when I saw their name on the calendar two minutes earlier.  I can remember worthless trivia without any problem, but ask me to remember something important and there is a good chance it will be gone before I need it.  I was 54 years old when I graduated from LTS, and I always tell people that I was lucky the last three semesters of classes were based on writing papers instead of taking tests. I am not sure I would have done very well having to remember during a test.  I still have the ability to think, but I can’t remember what I am supposed to be thinking about.  (Ha, ha)

Leaving my bad humor behind, losing MY mind can be a good thing.  There are so many mental distractions that we have to deal with on a daily basis.  We may call it daydreaming when we get off track at work.  We may lie awake at night because our mind won’t calm down and let us sleep.

An even worse problem is our minds can keep us from being the people God intended us to be.

The world fills our lives with opportunities to leave our Christian beliefs behind and think about temporary satisfactions.  Not all of them are evil or bad, but they take us in directions we should not go.  As Christians, we are supposed to empty ourselves of ourselves and fill ourselves up with Christ.  Jesus speaks very directly when he says we must deny ourselves and take up our cross in order to follow him.  This includes clearing our minds of these distractions.

Read Luke 9:23-25, John 12:24-25, Ephesians 4:22-24, Galatians 2:19-20.

Bro. Lee


Blowing In The Wind!

I had a great experience a few weeks ago.  My brother's kids gave him a hot air balloon ride for Father's Day.  He is such a good brother that he invited me to go with him.  (In all honesty my sister-in-law is afraid of such things and how could he pick among eight kids?  So it was a great bit of luck for me.)  We had to go north to a town between Dayton and Cincinnati for this adventure.  It was a beautiful evening for ballooning.  If you have ever seen this kind of balloon floating around Lexington late in the evening, you know that they are at the mercy of the wind.  The wind cannot be very strong - five to seven m.p.h. is as fast as it should be for safety reasons.  And you have to be aware of the direction the wind is blowing because that is the direction you will fly.

Ballooning is not an individual activity.  One person might be able to get a balloon ready to fly and take off into the wild blue yonder, but you need a friend to keep track of where you are and then to follow you to where you land.  In most areas the trip is one way, then you need a ride home.  There were six passengers on that flight. Part of our ballooning experience was in helping to prepare the balloon for flight, and later packing it up.  Much to our delight, there were two other balloons that took off from the same park that evening.  Watching them was as interesting as watching the landscape pass by.  Because all were riding the breeze, all three went in about the same direction at the same speed.  But there was still some control based on the altitude the balloon was floating.

After about an hour of floating over the Ohio countryside, our pilot spotted what looked like a very small backyard that was about a half mile away; and he decided to set down in it.  With amazing precision he cleared a power pole and a flowerbed and set the balloon just where it needed to be.  The chase vehicle was only a couple minutes behind us.  By the time we had settled onto the ground, the chaser was there to help.

The man who lived there came out from his garage and our pilot asked if it was okay if we landed there.  Well, it was more than okay.  He went to get his wife and young son to see what was going on in their yard, and all of them seemed very happy and excited to have a balloon land there.  The guy offered us cold beer and use of their bathroom.  (Southern hospitality can be found north of the Ohio River.)  The homeowner even helped in packing up the balloon.  He and his wife both asked if the balloon could land there again.  Our pilot explained that he never knows where he will end up, but would keep their invitation in mind.  Eight of us piled into the chase-Suburban and rode back to the park where our cars were.

I don't have enough room in the newsletter to break this story down into all of the possible lessons.  Hospitality is one lesson.  The beauty of God's creation that you can see from above is another.

One thing I will expand on is our ability to choose our own direction in life.  This goes for our individual lives, as well as our corporate lives.  There are many factors we have to deal with that are beyond our control.  Just like a balloon in the wind, we may be pushed in a general direction that we cannot resist.  But also, like a piloted balloon that can change altitude to find different wind speeds and directions, we have options that can make differences in where and how we end up in life.

As human beings, all of us are going through an aging process.  When we are two years old, that process brings physical and mental growth, along with an increase in strength and abilities.  Some parents work to help their kids get the most out of this time by pushing them to use each new ability and to develop it.  Other parents don't make the effort, and their kids grow anyway.  We get pushed along in that general direction of aging regardless of circumstances.

When we hit our late teens and early twenties, our physical growth has probably slowed or stopped, but we still are changing.  How we take care of ourselves determines if we get lean and muscular, or lean and weak, or fat and muscular, or fat and weak.  Our minds continue to develop and hopefully we grow wiser if not smarter.  We can work our brains and accumulate great stores of knowledge.  Or we can coast along and not take advantage of our intelligence.  Or we can abuse our minds with substances and end up mental vegetables.  We are always moving in the general direction of aging; but at this age, we don't put a lot of consideration into where we might have to land.

If we live long enough to become middle-aged, we discover that there are still new directions we can go.  There is no stopping the aging journey, but most of us can choose to alter our paths enough to make a difference in how these years go.  We can be active or sedate.  We can try new things like hobbies or even a new type of work.  Many people have grown bored with their lives in middle age and try out crazy distractions, maybe just to prove to themselves they are still young and capable.  More people continue with their familiar lifestyle because it is comforting.  We try as hard as we can to deny it, but we start to look at the future with a different mindset.  Not only are we enjoying the view that passes by, but we start to realize that at some point we are going to need a safe place to land.  We may try to start saving more money in order to drift toward a more secure future.  We may take a critical look at our eating habits and our exercise routines to carry us farther and better.

When we reach maturity - or old age - it is a different kind of situation.  The gas is running low, and we know the burner can't stay lit forever.  We look back at our starting point and begin to question decisions we made over our journey.  So much of where we are in this stage of our lives is dependent upon how we have lived in our earlier years.  If we have abused our bodies and minds, we may find our options are pretty limited because we can't get around like we want.  We may have used all of our income to live on, and now we don't have any financial cushion for some of the fun things we planned on doing.  We may have done everything right and still find our options to be limited.  But we still have options.  We cannot give up and let the wind blow us blindly into our future.

All of us will have to land at some point.  My balloon flight ended with a couple of bumps and jolts and surprised exclamations by the passengers.  It was not a blind landing.  Our pilot took great care to bring us down where we would be safe.  We are our own pilots in life.  We are responsible for what we do in whatever situation we find ourselves.  Our flight is not over until everything has been secured and packed up and put away.  Only then can we enjoy freedom that goes beyond drifting as the wind blows.

Until that time, may God provide you with favorable breezes.
Bro. Lee