Friday, December 28, 2018


Positive Attitude of Local Employees Turns My Day Around

Do you realize the impact your daily attitude can have on people? Especially in business, a “hi, how is your day” attitude with a smile can go a long way.

Thursday, Aug. 23 was a day like that for me. I have many things in my life to be happy about, but there are also stresses. Sometimes stress can get the better of you and drag your attitude down. So I’ll admit, despite beautiful weather and an early morning walk with my dog Otis in the crisp cool air, my attitude was not the best when I started out.

But, four people in Republic with great customer focused attitudes helped to brighten my gray day.

I had an issue with my car the night before. Since I thought it was my battery, I went to O’Reilly Automotive in Republic. Johnny offered to come out and test my car batter – despite the rain that had just begun. He offered an evaluation and some good advice. I love buying local, but I like it even more when the person making the sale says, “this may not be the best idea.”

So, I took his advice, and headed down the road to Republic Ford where Joe met me in the service area. I do not know how he does it, but Joe remembers names, and he always seems to be in a good mood. He worked my car in, and Ford discovered the problem and made the correct fix to get me running again. I nearly felt like they had uncharged me because of Joe’s friendliness at the front end of that visit.

Then off to Lowes I went to make a semi-emergency purchase. I seldom go to Lowes without my dog Otis. When he is with me we always head to Elaine’s checkout register (where she keeps a few dog treats). On this day my dog was not with me and Elaine remembered that but still treated me like the most important customer in the building. See, I always thought it was just my dog!

By this time I was hungry and the noon food rush was on. I skipped the drive-thru and walked inside Wendy’s for carry out. Why did I go in? Because of Anderson. He works the counter during the noon hour a lot. He may be the friendliest fast-food employee I have ever met. There is no way you can have a bad day with Anderson greeting you and putting your order together.

I doubt these four people get thanked very often for their work. People are quick to judge and slow to say thank you. But if you want to make your community a better place to live, follow their example. Be positive and kind to people, offer assistance when possible, and treat people they way you want to be treated.

And thank you to Johnny, Joe, Elaine and Anderson for helping make Republic a great place to live and a great place to do business.


Facing Parenthood Takes True Grit

Both of my children are now driving cars. It hardly seems possible. As they leave the house each morning I think back to those infant years. It all goes so fast but I still remember those pivotal moments with life.

For example, when my son was still a newborn, there was that situation that has become known in our family as the “incident.”

I recall the story as follows.

The cries of an infant awakened me. I immediately slipped into protector mode. I donned my safety equipment and lumbered down the hall. There was no time to wipe the sleep from my eyes. I recognized the cry, and I knew the situation from my training.

Opening the door to my son’s circus themed room I could smell the danger. I slid the safety goggles over my eyes and pulled on the latex gloves. I straightened my plastic body apron and gently positioned the clothespin over my nose. My son was in trouble, and I was ready to help.

I felt like I was entering a combat zone. I confidentially walked to the crib, lifted my 10-day old out and in one swift move, turned to the changing table. Unsnapping two buttons and pulling on Velcro revealed the problem. My instincts had been correct. Off came the diaper, out came the wipes, and then I was attacked!

This time, I was hit by friendly fire. What seemed to be an air-activated gun began firing a yellow liquid at me, first hitting my ear and the grazing my arm. I used the wipe to cover and then ducked. This was the first of many brushes with danger during the ever-changing experience of fatherhood.

One week in, I was finding fatherhood to be life-changing. I was sleep deprived. I had not watched television for days and my wife, and I were talking in high-pitched sing-song voices.

From infant experiences to the teenage years, I've put on many different uniforms to meet the challenges of fatherhood. I have invested in the life of two children, raising them to respect others, believe in themselves, serve their community and love God. I've listened to them, gone to their events, coached teams, and taught driving. I've looked danger - and hormonal teenagers -- in the eye and lived to tell about it. That, my friend, takes true grit.


Cuba Experience Brings Lessons Home

My wife Stacey, daughter Lauren and I visited Santiago and El Caney, Cuba the last part of June on a 10-day mission trip. It was my first trip out of the United States, and my wife’s third trip to Cuba.

The experience was truly impactful for the Cubans we worked with and for us. We went to encourage them but left being encouraged ourselves.

Stacey and I went specifically to teach and lead a three-day marriage conference, which ended with a service for the renewal of vows. We participated as part of our 25th wedding anniversary. However, what was even greater to see was the positive impact this made on 32 marriages and families.

While not everything there can be duplicated here in western Greene County, or vice versa, there are certain principles that we can learn and apply to us.

1. Grand programs with hundreds of participants are sometimes an unnecessary burden. Relationships are much more important and impactful.

2. Make do with what you have; use what you have to reach the lost. This applies to things in the home. I have never seen so many useful things made out of plastic shopping bags!

3. We Americans overemphasize material wealth. It is not our money that saves us! In some situations, it may be our money that condemns us. Cubans look north to the United States and their friends or relatives that live there and think they see the answers to their problems but the truth is the answers lie elsewhere. The answers cannot be found in American dollars.

4. Never give up. The pastor in El Caney prayed 10 years for an American church to partner with his church. He never gave up on his prayer.

5. There is a strong sense of family and volunteerism in Cuba but it means something different to them. They cannot just pick up paintbrushes and go paint someone’s house. When they do civic work, it is always sponsored by the government (every 18-year-old does two years of civic work or serves in the military). Any extra time is spent supporting extended family or, in the case of what we saw, church family. That is where true volunteerism occurs in this culture.

6. Despite a rainbow of skin colors these people all get along and are, first and foremost, Cubans. Seems to be no identity politics here.

7. Lessons in health and nutrition: drink coffee and visit after every meal, have fresh juice more often, walk places when you can, wait until tomorrow on things of less importance.

8. From what we saw, Cubans are poor but they are not dirty; they put effort in to looking their best for church and being clean. It proves that being poor is no reason to not respect yourself!

9. You can be poor and overworked and still be happy and kind and welcoming.

While I am thankful to be home where I can flush a toilet, drink water from the faucet, go to a store and find what I need and enjoy air conditioning, I do miss the warmth and kindness extended to us by the people in Cuba. These are people that we now call friends.

In summary, it was one of the best experiences of my life! If you would like to know more, my wife and I are happy to speak to community groups, churches or other organizations interested in what is happening in Cuba.


Who Has the Better Haircut: Me or My Dog?

Once every five weeks I take our family dog Otis to the Mutt Hutt in Republic for his grooming. Sarah, the owner, does a great job. Otis always comes back looking great, smelling better, and in a good mood after playing with the other dogs.

Dog grooming can’t be rather expensive, but I’m told that the clients don’t always sit still. And there is also barking involved, and client snacks and an occasional potty clean up when the clients get to playing too hard!

The day after his grooming Sarah always puts pictures of her clients to Facebook. Otis always gets several dozen likes and a few comments regarding his appearance. At home, the rest of the family members make a fuss over him. They even tell him he looks great.

Now contrast this to my own experience after a visit to Angie at NeNe’s in Republic. Every five weeks, I sit patiently in the chair, I never make a mess, and Angie never has to give me treats!.But, I do leave happy.

Ironically, when I post pictures of myself with a new haircut, I get no notice. No one comments about me being a doll, adorable, or even clean! At home, my haircut normally goes unnoticed.

I don’t think this discrepancy has anything to do with the skill of the people doing the work. Sarah at the Matt Hutt and Angie at NeNe’s both provide excellent service at a great price.

I could take it personally and say that people love my dog more than they love me. But I know that is not true. It all probably says a lot more about how we Americans now feel about our pets.

Since the 1970s, Dennis Prager (a columnist, educator, and creator of PragerU) has been asking students if they would first try to save their drowning dog or a drowning stranger. For 40 years, he has received the same results: “one-third vote for their dog, one-third for the stranger, and one-third don’t know what they would do.”

Prager adds that recently the poll has begun to shift in favor of the dog and he finds that alarming. What we have in this poll is the classic tension between feelings and values.
All of us feel more for a being we love than for a being we do not know, let alone love. Therefore something must supersede our feelings -- that something must be values.

But these values must be perceived as emanating from something higher than our opinions.

I take a lot of teasing about how often I post on social media about my dog. I’m not ashamed to admit that we do baby and pamper the little fellow.

But at the end of the day, he is a dog. While many of us can love our four-legged companion’s, I do hope that as a society we remind ourselves that there are some supremely important differences between a human and a dog. Those differences are much greater than simply the price of our haircuts.


I'd Rather Be Practicing My Little Swing

Summer is a wonderful occasion but it is not without its downsides. One of the negatives from my personal perspective is that warm weather means golfers will be out swinging at tiny white balls and chasing them across acres of valuable land.

In my neighborhood, I will start seeing these golfers loading their bags into the trunks of their cars at 6 a.m., hands trembling from half-dozen cups of coffee, eyes red from waking at such an early hour.

Off they will go for another relaxing day on the golf course, only to return pale and shaken, swigging from bottles of Mylanta, after their scores ballooned out of control and their blood pressure with it.

I realize this commentary is likely to provoke a rash of vicious letters from golfers who will grab a stubby No. 2 pencil from their golf bags and scrawl, "What do you know about golf? You probably have never even played the game!" That is not, however, true. I distinctly remember the first time I played golf. I took a 23 on the first hole.

See, there was this creek in the middle of the fairway, which struck me as kind of an odd place for a body of water. Anyway, I kept plunking ball after ball into this creek. Finally, I huddled with the other members of my college-aged foursome.

"Men," I said. "Let me be brutally honest here. There are only 10 or 12 hours of daylight left, at which point I'll probably still be out her trying to clear this creek. So, how about letting me throw the ball the rest of the way?"

Everyone agreed that would be the way to go since there was a crowd of golfers directly behind us whining about not being able to tee off. Anyway, things did improve a great deal over the next 17 holes. I finished with, I don't know, a 219 or something. So, don't tell me about suffering.

The sad thing about golfers is that they are not content to simply play their game and be done. Instead, they insist on recounting, in detail, every single moment of their round. I don't know if you've ever sat and listened to a golfer drone on about his approach to a dogleg left, but it is an unsettling experience.

I have been at parties and actually dozed off during heated discussions about the Maxifly DT ball, only to be awakened with one elbow in the punch blow.

There is one more thing that captivates me about golf: the imaginary little swing golfers like to take. A friend of mind used to demonstrate his golf swing in all types of settings. You'd be in the middle of a conversation with him when, out of the blue, he'd take this imaginary golf swing.

To my knowledge, only golfers display this sort of bizarre behavior. If you are talking to a softball player, he will not suddenly take an imaginary throw from the catcher and make a sweeping tag of second base. A tennis player won't suddenly pause in mid-conversation and toss an imaginary ball in the air and pretend to serve.

But golfers take imaginary swings at the ball all of the time. I'll tell you, instead of worrying about their grip and back swing, they need to worry about that little swing.

Thursday, December 27, 2018


Finding Peace in 2019 is my Goal

I have been asking God to direct me to a focus word in 2019. During 2018 is was a phrase and very clear and purposeful. Also during 2018 I have read some great books: “Rest of God” on the topic of Sabbath, “Crazy Busy” on setting priorities and seeking God first, “Sun Stand Still” on praying big prayers, and others. I’ve been praying, and reading scripture, trying to determine what God wants me to focus on in 2019. Sabbath perhaps? Or priorities? Nope. God's word for me in 2019: Peace

God is always right on time. God confirmed this word on Dec. 23 during our small group study at Ridgecrest. I believe God is being faithful after a long and difficult year when following his purpose was not always easy.

Peace is defined as "a lifestyle of making the Lord our refuge." Another definition is “peace is a state of tranquility or quietness of spirit that transcends circumstances.” That is a peace that surpasses all understanding. (Phil 4:7)

Scripture says peace is a gift from God and it is consistent with His character. To know God is to bask in his peace. The closer we draw to Him the more of his peace we can enjoy. We cannot earn it.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” - ‭‭John‬ ‭14:27‬‬

There are three ways to know peace. 1) Peace within 2) peace with others and 3) peace with God.

This coming year I am going to pursue, read about and pray about peace. Christ is always there and He is always the same. His peace is perfect and I want to be an agent of it in my family and community.

“Peace should be a hallmark of the godly person ... Peace should be part of our character also because God has promised us His peace, because He has commanded us to let peace rule in our lives and relationships and because peace is a fruit of the Spirit and therefore an evidence of His working in our lives.” - Jerry Bridges

Want to know more about peace? Check out this excellent reading:

And for me or those who are wondering, here a few of my goals for 2019 that are designed to help me focus on peace:

  1. Read more books
  2. Take longer walks.
  3. Reach a weight of 200 with exercise.
  4. Write on one of my novels.
  5. Set and follow work priorities that keep me at 40-50 hours per week.
  6. Begin each day with God, and each day with God.
  7. Be intentional with showing love to my wife and children.
  8. Keep work at work and home at home.
  9. Do not say yes to things out of guilt.
  10. Keep the sabbath.
  11. Say no to good things that are not among my priorities at both work and home.
  12. Complete one major home project per day/night.
  13. Take vacation time, perhaps even a sabbatical.

Friday, December 21, 2018


Are you Crazy Busy? Eliminating Pride and Setting Priorities are Key to Regaining Joy (and Sanity)

“Hello, I am busy.” That has nearly become the standard greeting in the United States of America.

But there is an answer that brings improvement and it is not simply better “time management” according to David Burton, county engagement specialist in community economic development with University of Missouri Extension.

“The truth is, most people feel frazzled and overwhelmed much of the time. We're distracted and preoccupied in the same sorts of ways--struggling under the weight of work, family, exercise, bills, church, school, friends, and a barrage of requests, demands, and desires,” said Burton. “It's safe to say that on a typical day for most of us, our responsibilities, requirements, and ambitions add up to more than we can handle.”

Burton says that after having a frantic 2018, he has been thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Someone suggested he read the book “Crazy Busy” by Kevin DeYoung, and the book hit a nerve.

“The biggest dangers arising from this hectic and frustrating modern life are not what we might expect,” said Burton. “An immediate and obvious threat is that busyness can ruin our joy. When we're frantic and frenzied, we're more prone to anxiety, resentment, impatience, and irritability.”

According to the book, Burton says our chaos of busyness is at least partly self-created. Often pride is a factor.

“We are busy because we try to do too many things. We do too many things because we say yes to too many people. We say yes because we want these people to like us and pat our back; we fear their disapproval,” said Burton.

Busyness also springs from such prideful factors as our tendency to overestimate our importance, our ambition to prove ourselves, or poor planning resulting from our refusal to seek help.

How can we tell when pride has made us frantic and overwhelmed? Here's a self-diagnostic question you may find helpful: Am I trying to do good--or to make myself look good?

If that question hits you hard, it make be time to change some priorities. That can alter the way we parent, what we do with electronic devices, and how we approach rest according to Burton.

“We are supposed to be busy but in the right way. The antidote to over-busyness isn't sloth and indifference. It isn't work itself that's bad busyness, but working hard at the wrong things: trying to please or control others, trying to do things we haven't been called to do,” said Burton.

An important part of the change is taking a hard look at priorities according to Burton.

Days are busy and times are tough. That means setting priorities in our personal and professional lives is more important now than ever before.

“I didn’t always appreciate the need for setting priorities in life but it is something I’ve come to appreciate since having children,” said Burton. “I’ve got lots of different interests and a very long bucket list. I also have a hard time saying no. That isn’t a good combination.”

However, being stretched too thin makes it impossible to do great work in core areas.

“After deciding your priorities decide what you need to meet them. If your priority is time, then you need to protect some of yours,” said Burton. “Our challenge is to find the balance we each need for meeting our priorities.”

Then get some rest. Burton suggests taking at least one day per week to rest or do something that rejuvenates you.

For more information, contact David Burton by email at

Never "Just Settle" When It Comes to God's Kingdom

I listened to a three-minute podcast recently  that was posted by Hosea Bilyeu. It was out of Genesis 11. He talked about how in that story, Tara moves his family – which includes Lot and Abram -- out of Ur with the intention of going to Canaan. But they stopped enroute at Harran. Then Hosea uses this phrase: “settled for something less than what God had intended.”

That just reminded me that during 2018, God impressed that phrase – do not settle – on me. I think It has many applications in our life and the life of our church. Let us never settle for less than what God has in store for us. There are great days ahead and may we never be willing to “just settle” on things regarding his kingdom.

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