If I Didn’t Live Here…

[NOTE: The Kindle version of Rosa No-Name is free today-only at Amazon.]

No, this post isn’t a rerun of October 1’s “Why Do I Live Here…Now?” This is what I intended to write then, but the emphasis changed, and so did the title.

Growing up as a Christian in the home of a Southern Baptist minister, ignoring the importance of missions–going throughout the world and spreading God’s Good News–was an impossibility. But I never felt that God wanted me to be a career missionary. He knew my limitations even better than I did!

Nonetheless, when I made a career change in 1984 that landed me at what is now the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention, I couldn’t have felt more like I was finally where God wanted me. He didn’t want me out on the field, but  working behind the scenes as a programmer/analyst to support the work of fellow staff members and the actual missionaries.

The IMB held weekly chapel services on Wednesday mornings, and listening to reports from around the world thrilled me. More than once,  a report or a devotional led me to write a song related to what I’d heard. I was in “missions hog heaven.”

For many years I’d known about short-term volunteer mission trips, but I’d never felt that was something I could do. I wasn’t a preacher or a Bible expert, and the only speaking I’d ever done was giving technical sessions at computer user symposiums. What talents did I have that would be useful somewhere else in the world?

But then came the day I heard about an upcoming two-week trip to Australia. Almost as long as I could remember, I’d been in love with Australia.  As a teen I’d inherited a shortwave radio receiver, and the sounds coming from Radio Australia woke me up each morning for years. Was it possible God wanted me to go on this mission trip?

I got in touch with whoever was in charge and said, “I don’t have any special talents but singing and playing guitar, and I’m nowhere close to being a professional at either of those things. I do write my own songs, but I’m the only person who ever sings them.  Would there be any place for me on this team?” (I later learned that one of the special talents of a fellow team member was doing yo-yo tricks. God can use any talent.)

The family budget couldn’t pay for a trip like that, but when I received word back that my willingness to go and do whatever was asked of me when I got there qualified me, I started looking for funds. My parents were thrilled at this opportunity and contributed towards what I needed. And I jumped at the chance to work as a consultant for a week at the company a friend worked at.

I may not have had a lot of spending money on that trip, but I was able to go.

I didn’t need the two full weeks in Australia to make me realize that–if my home wasn’t in Richmond, Virginia, USA–Australia was the place I’d most want to live.

I’ll share more next week.

Have you been on mission trip, either overseas or locally or nationally? How about leaving a comment?

By the way, if you’ve been waiting for a sequel to ROSA NO-NAME or the final book in the ALTERED HEARTS series, you’ll find both in the just-released THE FLOWERS OF HIS FIELD.

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

       

Links you might be interested in:

 

Advertisements

Being the Best I Can Be

All too frequently I wake up to find I have a new ache or pain. Sometimes it goes away. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Why should that surprise me? I’m seventy now. I’ll turn seventy-one this coming Saturday. While I’m not nearly as old as I hope God will permit me to become before I die, I have no choice but to either accept the fact that my body has been deteriorating since birth or hold a pity party I won’t invite anyone else to because I know nobody wants or needs to listen to me complain.

Fortunately, my mind still seems to be in reasonably good condition. I say “reasonably” because, like many of my younger peers, I catch myself forgetting more and more of those everyday words none of us can live without. So far I only forget familiar people’s names when I’m not with them, but I anticipate the day that will change.

Being the best I can be? That sounds like a real challenge since the best possible seems to be shrinking beyond my ability to control.

What does “being the best I can be” really mean, anyhw?

I’ve come to a definite conclusion. Whatever I may be good at, being the best I can be doesn’t involve comparing myself with other people. It has to do with using what I am and what I have in a way that pleases God. The fact that I’m not the best guitarist or bass guitar player in the world isn’t important.

Or the best novelist. I haven’t made it to the New York Times best seller list yet and don’t expect to.

What matters is my willingness–my desire–to use my talents in a godly way. If I’m able to do my best playing bass for the worship services and Christmas musical, if I’m willing to do my best providing a guitar accompaniment and doing a weekly solo at the nursing home ministry, I should be pleased.

Neither do I need to become a best-selling author. If I write the books God inspires me to write, if He helps me to publish the ones He wants published, if the people He wants to buy and read them and get from them what He wants them to get, I should be thrilled.

Perhaps it’s time to measure “the best I can be” in a different way. Not from the limited way I view my own talents and abilities, but from knowing God gave them to me for a reason. He wants me to use them for Him.

I treasure the sayings, “I’m a work in progress” and “God’s not finished with me yet.” I’ll never be the very best I can be in any area of my life  until He has finished with me. And that won’t happen until I come home to Heaven.

Better to hope for His “Well done, good and faithful servant” than to fret about my shortcomings and inconsistencies here on earth. As long as I’m honestly trying to let Him make me a better person–the best person I can be–He’ll use whatever talents I have in whatever way He desires. What more can I ask for than that?

Your comments are always welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

    

Links you might be interested in:

 

The Price of Greed

[NOTE: I wrote this prior to hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Currently in Richmond–at least at the gas stations closest to us–prices have already risen to $2.49 and may easily go higher because of the hurricanes’ effect on oil production and processing.]

 

     

 

If you’re ever on Interstate 95 going through Richmond, Virginia, and looking for gas, you can take exit 86A towards Atlee and find a reasonably priced Sheets station a mile or two up the road.  Or take exit 86B towards Elmont for an equally reasonable Wawa station that’s probably a little closer. The right-hand picture above shows Wawa’s sign; the station itself is much more visible. Almost within spitting distance is a little BP station–you’ll recognize it as a former 7/Eleven store–that’s usually just a penny or so more expensive than Wawa and Sheets.

But heaven help you if you are on Rt. 295 getting off at the Rt. 1 exit going north towards Ashland. You’ll eventually come to the Shell station pictured on the left above. Even though it appears to be the only one in that neighborhood, the Wawa and BP stations are actually only a couple of miles further. But if you’re like us, you probably don’t want to drive additional miles to gas up when traveling, even if you know other choices exist further up the road. You want to get back on the road.

If you haven’t clicked yet to look at larger versions of those two pictures, you might want to do so now.

Did you notice the difference in gas prices? $2.11.9 for regular at the Wawa and $2.79.9 at the Shell! That’s a sixty-eight cent difference.

I doubt seriously whether the Shell station gets much business from us locals. And no wonder. If I waited to get gas until the fuel gauge told me I really needed to, I would spend at least $6.80 more than I would at Wawa, Sheets, or even the little BP station.

My wife and I periodically take road trips, and I’m always thrilled that my Honda Civic that only gets 25-28 mpg in city driving makes it up to 45 mpg on the highway. Even so, I don’t want to pay more for gas than I have to. I could be wrong, but I doubt seriously that I’ve ever been charged unreasonably at a highway-accessible gas station.

Hmm. Maybe because of competition?

And the Shell station doesn’t really have any competition. Or at least it appears not to.

I feel so sorry for travelers who stop at the Shell station. Not just because paying that much more for gas than they should might be hard on peoples’ budgets, but because I hate the thought that their only memory of Richmond might be the way they got fleeced by somebody’s greed.

I’d be embarrassed to be that greedy. And to know I’d angered and frustrated numerous other people because of it.

What do you think? How about leaving a comment?

 

    

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Final Thoughts before the Election

Even though I haven’t written about the election before except to urge everyone to vote, I couldn’t keep silent today.

If you’re like me, you’re probably sick and tired of this year’s presidential election. Even though it’s only two days away, there’s no telling how much more political junk mail will show up in my Inbox between now and Tuesday. That may be true for you, too.

Unfortunately, we can’t bury our heads in the sand. This election is one of the most pivotal–probably the most pivotal–in America’s history. Our very future depends on the results.

Yet most of us look at our choices (feel free to disagree with my viewpoint) and cringe…

  • A woman who will possibly soon be facing serious criminal charges. A woman who would build upon the policies of the president who I believe will one day be remembered as one of America’s worst. A woman who claims to have accomplished great things, but has done little more than grow extremely wealthy.
  • A man whose mouth is as big as his hair and who does much of his speaking without thinking about the consequences. A man who seems to get angry easily. A man who bravely opposes everything that’s wrong in Washington but doesn’t have any experience in governing, even at the local level.

What will happen to this country when one of these individuals becomes POTUS (President of the United States)? That’s the big question. A mystery. A scary one.

I’m not afraid of the election, however. God can use either person to accomplish His purposes for America. There must be hundreds of examples throughout history of the good things even the most evil leaders have accomplished, but what comes to mind immediately is King Herod. Yes, the same one who had all the male babies killed in order to try to prevent Jesus from becoming his rival. A truly evil man. Yet he rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. Even the worst of leaders isn’t always all bad.

We typically get caught up in what the candidates say or claim to believe about the issues each of us cares most about, whether it’s the sanctity of life, the protection of religious freedom, gun rights, ISIS, the economy…

The list seems endless.

I believe there’s only one important issue. Everything else will be affected by it one way or another–the Supreme Court.

If you look back at the Constitution–have you read it recently?–you’ll see that the Supreme Court was designed to have VERY limited powers. And Congress alone was given the power to make laws. Yet over the years, the Supreme Court has become the most powerful branch of the government rather than the weakest, and those appointed officials on the bench–we the people don’t get to vote on them–effectively use their own prejudices and beliefs rather than the Constitution to make decisions about things the Constitution never intended for them to have any say about. And those decisions effectively become law, even though technically each one applies only to a single case.

That kind of power is dangerous, and it’s leading America downhill. The ability to appoint new Justices will make the difference between America becoming a third world socialist state or remaining a model constitutional republic.

I can’t tell you who to vote for. I wouldn’t deny your freedom to vote for your choice of candidates, no matter how much I might disagree with your choice. It’s truly pathetic, however, that because of the biases of the media we depend on for truth, few Americans have the information they need in order to vote intelligently.

I believe I know enough to vote for Donald Trump, however. Not because I like the man. I don’t. Not because I think he has enough experience. He doesn’t. Not because I think he’s a model American or even a man I would want to be like. I have many doubts about him.

But I believe he is sincere in wanting to change things in Washington and make America great once again. And that he is committed to choosing future Supreme Court Justices wisely. That makes him worth my vote.

I never know who reads this blog. I have expressed a combination of fact and opinion today. I trust you will be as tolerant of my views as I promise to be of yours if you express them courteously. Your comments are welcome.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

On Turning Seventy

birthdayphotoMy wife, Kathleen, knows that birthdays haven’t always been a time of joy to me. When I turned thirty and my father proudly announced it from the pulpit, he didn’t realize what a horrible thing I thought he’d done. That happened back during the days when the younger folks thought people became ancient at thirty. That’s what I’d believed until it happened to me!

Forty was less of a problem, though. I had finally ended up in a career I really liked and was good at. And at least I’d gotten used to being “over the hill.”

Fifty was horrible, though. For some crazy reason, I had it in my head I wasn’t going to live till my fiftieth birthday. In fact, I wrote a novel (not yet published) about a man who believed the same thing about himself. Thanks to friends in Australia, Keith and Maggie Long, who helped me celebrate that birthday a few months early with a homemade cake and a humongous CD package containing all of the songs the Seekers had ever recorded.

As you’ve probably gathered, I survived turning fifty. And sixty.

Seventy is a funny age, though. I don’t feel as if I’m really old. Yet I’m so aware of the various ways my body is wearing down or out and of a condition or two I’m really not certain what to do something about. But at least I’ve made it through two cataract surgeries and have decent sight now–because of astigmatism, I still have to wear glasses–and have new hearing aids and have quit having to asking everyone to repeat everything.

Much to be thankful for. Thank You, Lord. Bunches and bunches.

Kathleen wanted this to be a really special birthday. She got me a new Yamaha MX-49 keyboard for my home recording studio and suggested and arranged a long weekend visit to Kentucky to visit the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. I’ll give you a report on those two visits in upcoming posts.

cmfrontgate

We’re staying at the First Farm Inn, a bed and breakfast that is just a couple of miles from the Creation Museum. It’s a horse farm, and we expect the rest of our visit to be just as pleasant as the first part.

firstfarminn     insidestable

I have to be honest. I’m writing this the evening of the 22nd; my birthday’s not actually until the 23rd. But I wanted to go ahead and write this while I was thinking about it.

Have any of your birthdays been extra special–either good or bad? How about sharing in a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger