"But music was his life, it was not his livelihood,and it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good. And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul. He did not know how well he sang; it just made him whole." - Harry Chapin - chorus of "Mr. Tanner."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The shoulder is feeling better . . .

Spent a few days working finishing a home remodel project that I started last July 4th.

Hip Hip Hooray.  

My right shoulder started feeling better after the 2nd day . . . working one armed didn't allow for much progress . . . so I went ahead and used both arms and hands, but made it a point to lift and handle things correctly.

In other words . . . I didn't do the guy thing . . . like strain myself for the sheer joy of experiencing excruciating pain.

Will follow the doctor's orders and wear the sling when needed . . . for the rest of the week anyway.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Friday, May 22, 2009

With apologies to all the "lefty's" out there . . .

Seems that I have, according to my chiropractor (who, if my memory has served me right, has never been wrong when it comes to diagnosing what ails me) . . .  I have nerve and ligament issues in my right shoulder caused by . . . 

"AHEM" . . . 

(note the not so subtle attempt at dramatic pause here  . . . )   

Wait for it . . . .

The way I sleep!

Seems I sleep a lot on my right shoulder  . . . and that . . . combined with a recent stacking of a bunch of kitchen tile in my garage  . . . caused my right shoulder to have a slight separation recently.

But . . . I thought I had just pulled a muscle . . . Hey, I'm a guy . . . "I'm good!"

However, the pain and discomfort increased dramatically over several days.

My wife said, "Go see your chiropractor, the one who is never wrong about what really is ailing you" . . .

So, I go see my chiropractor, and tell him I pulled a muscle in my right shoulder.  He examines me, and says different, that it was a slight shoulder separation . . . and as I said before, if my memory serves me right, my chiropractor is never wrong when it comes to diagnosing what ails me.

So . . . two weeks with the right arm in a sling.  I got a black one, pretty comfortable . . . and when I keep my arm in it . . . my shoulder actually starts to feel better.

Hopefully, this means no forthcoming surgery.  We will have to wait and see.

In the meantime . . . I am living as a "lefty" . . . not the easiest thing in the word to do if you have never lived that way before.  I have already embarrassed myself several times . . . and hereby apologize to all the lefty's out there, including my friend and ministry comrade, Nathan Firmin, and one of my daughters.

And . . . the truth is that I like and respect my chiropractor  (Dr. Curtis Ratliff) with all sincerity.  I would recommend him to anyone.  He is very, very, very good at what he does.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Ask the Pastors" is this Sunday . . .

It's that time again, as we approach the Memorial Day weekend, our pastoral staff is preparing for the "Ask the Pastors" sermon this Sunday.

You can text a question on Sunday morning (the phone # to call will be annouced) and we will try to answer it.   Sort of a panel discussion, but with interaction with the congregation.  It is one of my favorite Sundays.

God's grace still amazes me . . .  ><>

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thank you, Dr. Floyd Diehm . . .

This morning at 11 AM, I officiated at a private graveside service for Dr. Floyd Diehm, the father of Dr. Ken Diehm, the senior pastor of our church, and my friend.

Later at 1:30 PM, we had a Memorial service to honor Dr. Floyd's life in our sanctuary.  Close to, if not more than, 350 people attended, many from our church, but also from St. Andrews UMC in Arlington, and several clergy colleagues from across our Annual Conference.

A committed Christian, husband, father and grandfather, Floyd was also a Disciples of Christ pastor for almost 40 years, whose passions were Bible study, evangelism, golf and fishing  . . . Floyd was an intense individual who sought to get all out of life that he could.

He believed in the "abundant life."   He had a passion for living, and for helping other people live.  He was one of the best encouragers I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and calling a friend.   Looking back on it now, the number of times in the past four years he encouraged me, are beyond my ability to count.  So frequent, so consistent was his encouragement to me and to others.  If anyone ever had the heart of a pastor, it was Dr. Floyd, as well as his son, Ken.

I give glory to God that I had an opportunity to know Floyd for the past 4 years.

Rest in peace, my friend.  Be with God!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Steve Isbell's "40 at 40" . . .

I am very proud to have supported Steve Isbell, a member of our church, in his recent "40 at 40" fundraising effort to help support Grace Ministries here in Grapevine.

As a way of celebrating his 40th birthday, Steve ran 40 miles to raise funds, as well as public support, for a very worthy cause.

To learn more about what motivated Steve to do this, in his own words, click here.

Steve, I appreciate you! Way to go!

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ain't she a beauty ???

A Tacoma JK28CE jumbo acoustic. Ain't she a beauty?

For those of you who do not care a "lick" (pardon the pun, a little guitar humor there) about how someone decided on a guitar . . . you may want to go on to the next blog on your list.
If you are a guitar person . . . you might be interested in this journey of mine.

I've been considering getting and playing a jumbo acoustic for several years now. In fact, Sean at Dallas Used Guitar loaned me an Alvarez jumbo a few years back. I played it for our week long VBS, and at one of our 1st Church String Band concerts. I liked it size wise, but the sound was a bit tinny, which is normal for most Alvarez guitars.

For the most part, during the Children's Time and when I sing at area nursing homes or at funerals, I play my Martin DC-16GTE or my Martin D-15 mahogany guitar. I have played the DC-16 hard for 4 years now . . . and it is starting to show some wear, along with needing new frets and some work on the electronics. The D-15 was one of the special events in my life . . . I was in the right place at the right time when it crossed my path. In truth, it was sheer dumb luck. Martin's have a deep rich sound that I just love. Always have, always will.

But, I was still, every so often, wondering about 
getting a jumbo as my "travel" and Children's Church guitar, and just use the Martin's for our band performances. My thinking being that a jumbo might project better at nursing homes and other venues where I do not have access to a sound system . . . or where I don't have enough space to bring an amp.  

The other day, Sean calls and says, "you got to see this guitar." So I go see it . . . koa wood back and sides . . . absolutely beautiful . . . sitka spruce top . . . this guitar is a beauty indeed.  And it is a full-sized jumbo, 100% American made.

But good looks never means it sounds good. So I tuned up and started playing . . .

Our jaws dropped . . . I strummed and E chord and the guitar just resonated forever. Later that day, I played both my Martins and the Tacoma. Very similar sounds, but the Tacoma has a bit more volume . . . as I had hoped for.

I played it that same dayy at an after-school program at a local elementary school, then played it Thursday night at band rehearsal, and then played it at 3 of the morning worship services yesterday.

This guitar may be the best sounding guitar I have played over our sanctuary house/pa system.

Yeah . . . it's a keeper.

As best I can explain my relationship with guitars . . . they are tools for ministry. I like having the proper tools for any job I do. I don't mean that I buy a lot of tools . . . but I do buy the right tools.

This Tacoma jumbo is the right tool for the music I sing and perform.  Now, if I could just find a Tacoma jumbo 12-string . . .

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Preaching and wishing my Mom had been there . . .

I was the preacher at four of our services today.   

Ken Diehm, our Senior Pastor,  is an outstanding preacher, one of the best in our conference, and perhaps in the State of Texas in my opinion . . . and friends, I know a good  preacher when I hear one.

Cindy Ryan, another of our associate pastors,  is a gifted writer and a talent in the pulpit as well.  She, like myself, gets to preach 2-3 times a year, and her sermons are always "knock-outs."  I asked her how she was able to preach so effectively the few times in a year she gets to do so.

Her reply, "It's a good sermon when you get to work on it for a month."

Good advice . . . I spent 3 weeks getting ready for the sermon I preached today.  I am glad I put the work into it that I did.  I knew this sermon . . . and although I used notes, I didn't really have to.

My Mom was scheduled to be here to hear me preach. It has been a while since she was able to attend worship with us, as she has provided almost daily care and supervision to my late grandmother for many years.  

Due to our stormy Texas weekend, especially yesterday (Saturday), we decided together that her being on the highway during stormy weather was not a good idea.  Mom is an excellent driver, but often in bad weather, other drivers are not.

Mom was a part of my sermon.  I most especially like it when I share a story of my childhood, not doubt embellishing a bit, as I seem to have a gift to do . . . and people look at my Mom to get her reaction . . . and she shrugs her shoulders and says, "I don't have any idea what he is talking about!"

Funny, how what I remember is not what she remembers.  Yet that makes sense, for my memories are that of a child or teen, who often choose to remember what they want to remember, or "hoped" took place.  My Mom has been an adult my entire life, and her memories are from a Mom's perspective.

What can you say about a Mom who was quick to say "NO!" to the things I wanted to do where "NO!" was the right answer to give me.  And she was quick to say "YES!" to those things which she new played to my strengths and natural abilities.  She encouraged me to sing and play guitar, and was one of the few adults to support my decision to forgo my senior year of high school athletics to be a part of a Christian band that got to travel all over south and central Texas, playing at United Methodist Churches, and several Conference youth events at Mt. Wesley Campground in Kerrville, TX . . . a very long drive from our home in the Rio Grande Valley.

When I felt my call to be a preacher . . . my Mom gave her support . . . the child of a Methodist preacher herself, she gave wise counsel about the constant moving that Methodist preachers tend to do . . . not so much as in years past.  She encouraged me to always treat a move as a new adventure and a challenge.

Perhaps, in my heart, I meant this Sunday to be an early Mother's Day for my Mom, to pay her a public tribute I've been meaning to give her for some time.  As she reminded me on the phone yesterday, there will be other times to hear me preach, and that is true.  

God's grace . . . and my Mom . . . still amaze me . . . ><>