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IN, BUT NOT OF...

APRIL 12, 2021



World

I love this quote:

The world will ask you who you are and if you do not know, the world will tell you.

When we spend all day, every day, living in a world that is constantly seeking to influence our behavior and define our culture, it's amazing that any of us are able to avoid those influences and hold fast to the knowledge and wisdom that only comes from God.

Lord, help me to keep your word close to my heart.

John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.


TWEAKS

APRIL 11, 2021



Tweaks

Tweak: to improve a mechanism or system by making fine adjustments to it.

It's interesting how retirement has provided me with additional free time and the tweaks to life that have come along as a result. In fact, it seems that those tweaks have even been reflected by the changes I continue to make here on my website.

I removed the Main Categories from the menu because I didn't think that list of categories truly reflected what the title indicated. There were things absent from the list that needed to be there, and there were other things on the list that I felt probably didn't belong there.

It's nice, in this new season called retirement, to truly be able to take things a day at a time. It's nice to have more control over one's schedule and the ability to focus on the things that truly seem most important. It's also nice to have the opportunity to provide regular tweaks to all of the above as time permits and as it seems appropriate.

Lord, may your Holy Spirit empower me with wisdom to make wise tweaks.


HE IS RISEN

APRIL 04, 2021



He Is Risen

FROM JOHN TO ACTS

MARCH 29, 2021



From John to Acts

Patty and I started a morning bible study about 4 weeks ago. After just over a week, we decided to move to the book of John and take a chapter a day. Even with different versions of the bible, I usually read the first half aloud and Patty takes the second half and does the same.

Today is our last day in the book of John. God's timing couldn't have been better with us reading about the crucifixion of Jesus and that story serving as a lead-in to Easter this coming Sunday. Tomorrow we move to the book of Acts. It seems like a natural follow-up to the book of John.

I've been pleasantly surprised at how alive the scriptures have been with both of us reading aloud. I don't think we've done this before, and I've truly sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit in our reading.

In fact, it was quite special to read about the introduction of the Holy Spirit here in the book of John, not to mention the depth and breadth of the story of Jesus and his disciples. Today, we went through the introduction to Acts from my study bible and will pick up with chapter 1 tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to it.


SAYING GOODBYE

MARCH 23, 2021



Saying Goodbye

Two days ago our son arrived, and today he is headed back to the place that he and Amy call home. Our wonderful time with him came to an end far too quickly. Still, we squeezed in all the food, fellowship, laughter, and love that could have possibly been enjoyed in such a short time.

And now we say goodbye until next time. As usual, Patty and I stand by his car, do our group hug, and share time before God in prayer for safe travel, and Jonathan's safe arrival back home to his lovely bride.

As spring and summer arrive, we know it won't be long before Jonathan will be back to see us, next time with our amazing daughter-in-law, and to all enjoy this incredible piece of paradise that Patty and I call home.

Thank you Lord for such a wonderful opportunity to share life and love with family!


QUALITY TIME

MARCH 22, 2021



Quality Time

We're so blessed to have kids, in-laws, and grandsons, where time together is always quality time. And with our son it's never any different. He arrived yesterday and by the time he leaves tomorrow it will be too soon. It would be too soon if he left after a week or even a month. But, it's good to share quality time with him while he is here.

It was so neat to have him join us on our daily three mile walk today. It was such a joy to share time with him and to have him experience the joys that we experience every day on a walk together in this beautiful countryside with which we are blessed.

A visit from Jonathan is sure to include a full slate of late nights. It's like we don't want to miss a moment together. Sharing around important topics like life, love, and family are sure to take us to deep places. Still we always manage to pick up right where we left off the last time we were together.

Lord, thank you for the blessing of Quality Time!


DO YOU BELIEVE?

MARCH 21, 2021



Do You Believe

A couple of days ago I wrote about faith based films, and how much I've grown to love good stories in that genre. When I find a movie that seems to have the potential to combine encouragement with inspiration, and that might actually touch me in a potentially positive and life-altering way, I'm willing to go all in!

Yesterday, I watched just such a movie. If it isn't deserving of an award, I would at the very least provide it with an honorable mention.

Now, I'm the first to admit that when I watch the trailer of a faith based film, anything that hints of a cliché makes me a bit nervous. Do I really want to invest my valuable time in watching the movie? On the other hand, is there enough in the trailer to persuade me of a story with real depth? If so, then I'm ready and willing to take the risk and will dive in on it.

Such was the case with Do You Believe? It turned out to be a faith based film that was well worth the risk and provided me with two hours of time well spent!

I hope to find many more faith based films like it!


COMPANY'S COMING

MARCH 20, 2021



Company's Coming

Every day I wake up with my soul-mate and consider it a blessing to enjoy yet one more day here in the heart of paradise. That God delivered to us this impossible dream is just one more example of His goodness, grace, and mercy in our lives.

Add to that the wonder of a visit from any of our kids and I'm filled with an overwhelming sense of awe. It's simply impossible for me to comprehend God's power and majesty in providing Patty and I this deep and lasting relationship with our family.

We're so looking forward to a visit for a couple of days from our son. Amy's super busy with her new job so he's going to come down for a short visit and the three of us will all enjoy some great food and fellowship. In addition to the hot mess dip, we're sure to feast on some crab stuffed, bacon wrapped, shrimp. Yum!

Thank you Lord for the amazing blessing of family and all that it entails!


FAITH BASED FILMS

MARCH 19, 2021



Faith Based Films

I love faith based films, but for a lot more reasons than one might expect. Certainly that they are faith based leads the list, but there are so many other things that attract me to this genre.

It's been amazing to watch these films literally take off in terms of the quality involved. Not only are we seeing larger and larger budgets with better and better production values, cast, and crew, but the stories run deeper than ever before.

Often based on true stories (a personal favorite of mine) writers deliver heart-felt themes like never before and are no longer afraid to approach difficult questions and controversial topics. What was once a genre full of clichés has led to an arena filled with cast and crew members more able and equipped than ever before to reach out to both believer and non-believer alike.

Whether I'm searching for wholesome entertainment, thought-provoking story lines, or a combination of the two, there is much to be found out there these days in this up-and-coming reality-driven trend.


MORE GOD STUFF

MARCH 07, 2021



More God Stuff

I'm honestly amazed at all that God is doing in Patty and me. Our morning Bible study has brought with it all sorts of tie-ins to real life. The comments we share and the spiritual questions we ask ourselves are always great lead-ins to real life issues and the honest day-to-day, all about life, questions we have.

And from the answers come extra stimulation to do a better job with the things which we might consider our required daily routines - everything from taking better care of ourselves to taking better care of our home and all of the things with which we have been so blessed.

We also have agreed that we want to get back to a prayer time before we go to bed at night. For me, that is mostly born out of a grateful heart and my need to express my gratefulness to the Lord, at the end of the day, for all He has done and is doing in our lives.

Each year, Patty selects a new word upon which to focus in her prayer life and in her day-to-day activities. I've tried to join her in that leading, but for several years now I haven't been able to get beyond the concept of gratefulness and the significant way in which that concept has changed, and continues to change, my life for the better.

We both agree that that we really like all that God is doing in us and the way He has brought about a more concentrated focus upon Him in our lives. I remember, when I used to still be in the work-world, that I was looking forward to the free time retirement would provide, in order to give more of myself and my time back to God. Well, now that I'm here, in this wonderful world of retirement, I'm so grateful that God has encouraged and enabled me to stay true to that desire of my heart.


ANOTHER BUSY DAY

MARCH 06, 2021



Another Busy Day

The combination of temps still in the 50's and strong gusty winds is not going to make for a good walking day. Looks like we're going to take this one off. We were also supposed to have rain mixed in with this, but the weather prognosticators are backing off of that one.

With all of the wind, I'm still not ready to pull out the paint brushes and rollers. We're supposed to have some very good days next week and I'm planning to get back to my painting project with the arrival of better weather.

For our bible study we decided to choose a book and do one chapter a day. I read the first half out loud and Patty reads aloud the second half. If there's anything that seems of significant importance from my study bible, I shave that as well. Finally, we share with each other anything that the Holy Spirit has prompted within us about what we've read to each other.

We started our study yesterday in Proverbs and went through Chapter 2 today. The study seems vey alive to me, and I believe we both agree that it's been a great experience so far. I'm truly looking forward to all that is yet to come.

I'm also going through The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and we both talked a little about that as well today. I've only made it through 4 chapters of a 33 chapter book so there's plenty left to read and consider.

We also decided to revamp our diet and menu yet again. There's a lot going on in that arena and I'll spare the details here, but suffice to say I'm very encouraged with the steps we are taking and the changes that should result, both in our health and our weight maintenance.

Last but not least, we're taking steps to start with a new doctor since our former doctor has moved to a practice closer to her family. Claire was a great doctor and we will truly miss her, but our new doctor was looking after Patty's mom and so we are quite familiar with her and feel very good about the change.

Oh yeah, one other thing. Since we're fully vaccinated now for Covid-19, Patty is aleady on the schedule for an eye appointment and I'm going to schedule a hearing test. I'm not looking forward to the prospects of dealing with my apparent hearing loss, but playing and teaching in loud school bands, playing in rock bands, and listening to loud music, have all taken a toll on my hearing. I guess it's time.


BUSY DAY TODAY

MARCH 04, 2021



Busy Day Today

Busy day today! Got my daily chores out of the way early this morning and had a very nice call with Allie. So good to catch up with her and all that is going on with Josh and the grandsons over in Germany. They're doing such a great job over there!

I also cut and weed-wacked the yard and cleared all of the leaves and other stuff that was deposited by the rains and the high winds. It's always so nice to see a freshly manicured yard when the storms clear out and the weather turns nice.

Got in lunch and a 3 mile walk with Patty. I must say that lady keeps quite a pace and I had to hustle to keep up with her. It was a perfect day for a walk with the bright sun and the nice breeze feeding in off of the gulf.

The rest of the day, into the afternoon, was filled with more house painting. I finished up the deck trim and also the trim on the French doors facing the gulf. Finally finished off that gallon of white semi-gloss primer and paint and had to open a second gallon. Guess my next project will be getting a coat of gray paint on the stilts under the house, part of the staircase in front, and whatever else needs it.

I Finally had time here to sit down, catch my breath, and write a blog post here around 4:00 PM. I also made a big decision and decided to abandon my fitness and weight tracking logs. The fitness log made more sense when I had goals for running races, but I'm stepping away from that in favor of my up-tempo 3 mile walks with my soul mate.

Also, the weight tracking log made more sense when I was in weight loss mode, but now that I've converted to weight maintenance and determined a range in which I would like to say, the log is no longer worth the time and effort, especially since this is going to be a life-long thing.

Patty and I have decided to do a Bible study together and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm also looking forward to reading The Cost of Discipleship

by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

In fact, I've got a list of classics that I want to read by all of the big names in the Christian community including but not limited to Packer, Yancey, Piper, Chesterton, and of course C.S. Lewis. One or two I've already read and want to read again, but most I have not and, I'm sorry to say, I probably should have by now.

I've got a ham radio net meeting tonight followed by a Zoom meeting featuring a promising presentation on the technicals behind 5G. Should be interesting!

Like I said, busy day today!


THIS IS WHAT WE DO

FEBRUARY 25, 2021



This is What We Do

I was recently watching a faith based movie when a particular line of dialog captured my attention and got me to thinking. In fact, as I considered that line, it had such an impact on me that I began to imagine how fitting it might have been in serving as the title of the movie.

The whole thing kind of reminded me of the Parable of the Rich Young Ruler. A guy is serving time by doing community service at a local church and approaches everything with the aim of serving his own selfish interests. When the folks at the church need him most, a better offer comes along and he bails out on them with no concern for the trouble he has caused by his untimely departure.

Then, when God reveals to him the wrong he has done and changes his heart, he comes back humbly and broken and seeks forgiveness. Instead of the typical cautious reception that would have certainly been justified, the church members almost immediately welcome him back in with open arms and no questions asked.

Not having been a Christian, he understand neither how nor why they were so quick and able to forgive him. I can't help but think that the Rich Young Ruler must have had a very similar experience when his father approached him. So, I'm back in? he asks. The response was, This is what we do.

I've experienced that kind of love and forgiveness and it's absolutely amazing when it happens. It will catch you by surprise and even take your breath away.

It's called GRACE.

It's amazing when God provides it, but there's also something really special that happens when Christians extend that grace to someone else, whether or not that person might be a follower of Christ. As Christians, we can afford to offer our love and forgiveness, even to those who have hurt us, because when we were not worthy of it, Christ first loved and forgave each of us.

Serving others? Turning the other cheek? Forgiving the unforgiveable? Extending kindness to the unkind? Extending patience to the impatient? Placing ourselves at risk of being taken advantage of? Trusting God and waiting on Him? Doing what seems silly and mindless to the world?

This is what we do.


WORTH SHARING!

FEBRUARY 24, 2021



Santa 1

This is a long story, but it's a worthy story!

Back in the mid-1980's I lived with Patty and the kids in Savannah, GA and had the privilege, honor, and especially the joy of an incredible friendship with an amazing brother in Christ, Rick Monroe.

Rick and I met doing lay witness mission trips together with our dear brother in Christ, Joe Strickland. We also spent Saturday mornings together over coffee sharing our hearts in pursuit of a deeper walk with Christ our Lord.

In fact, Allie joined Patty and I on a few mission trips and worked with Rick's youth team. And when it came time for Allie and Josh to marry, I suggested that Rick might be the guy to officiate at the ceremony. Rick had to get approved and certified in order to perform that task and, just like Rick, he did so just for this special occasion.

Do a fast rewind back to Christmas morning at the DeLoach house in Savannah in the mid-1980's and Santa (Rick) notifies me that he and his elves will soon be dropping by with the sleigh to visit our kids. His elves (two young ladies from Rick's young life organization) gave up their Christmas morning to travel with Rick and fulfill the Christmas dreams of young children all over Savannah!

Santa 1

When Santa and his elves arrived, we captured the event on video (which is long gone) and in pictures (two of which survived.) Those pictures were recently electronically scanned and saved for posterity by our daughter, who now has two children of her own, but had twinkles in her eyes back then when Santa arrived with his elves.

Rick and I still write and talk from time to time, and I felt sure he would want to see those old photographs, so I sent them his way in the following email.


Hey Rick,

Allie has been scanning literally hundreds and hundreds of old pictures and I thought you might enjoy these. We sure have!

Thanks again for the great experience and wonderful memories! And if you still keep up with these ladies please send our love and feel free to share the pictures!

Much Love,

Hutch


I wasn't prepared for the heart-breaking news in Rick's response.


Hutch:

Thanks for the pictures! Sunday was the first anniversary of the day the Lord called Elizabeth home after a valiant 4 year bout with cancer. (She is the blonde in the photo) The attached Word Doc will explain it. (A Facebook post on a Young Life Alumni page)

Judy and I had the honor of spending time with Mike this past Sunday. He came here because Elizabeth is buried here. He left today to return home.

He lives in San Diego with Elizabeth’s two kids and his…..a Brady Bunch….all within 2 years of age. (High school)

I have sent the photos to him. He has no photographical record of Elizabeth as an “Elf”. Now he does.

Thank you for providing good medicine for a hurting heart. But…that’s just you.

Great to hear from you. I look forward to heaven when miles and years no longer separate.

Rick


Here's the Facebook post that Rick mentioned.


When you get older you tend to take inventory on what you have done in your life…..and what you have not done.

I never won a championship….at anything. In high school I had no idea that there was a National Honors Society. I was never a best man in a wedding. Marrying late, I have never contributed to the gene pool….I will never walk a daughter down the aisle….and I never had the awesome privilege of witnessing the miracle of childbirth.

But…. I would not trade anything for God’s gift of witnessing the miracle of someone being born again. I had that privilege numerous times during my time as a YL leader.

One of those someones was Elizabeth Emmons.

Today, those who loved her most said goodbye at her funeral. Her earthly life ended when she was promoted to Heaven. God answered our prayers for healing in His way rather than ours.

It was a sad day…but there was joy. Sadness and joy coexisting sounds like an oxymoron. But it’s possible, because the Promise Maker is the promise keeper.

I had the privilege of introducing Elizabeth to her Savior when she was in high school. From there I had the honor of being able to watch her grow in her faith from a high school kid who was a new Christian into a vibrant, contagious powerful woman of God.

Elizabeth’s relationship with Jesus morphed from Savior to Lord….from believing in Jesus to believing Jesus. Her hope became assurance, elevating her “hope so” to “know so”.

On Friday, Feb. 21 the internal became eternal….the heart into which Elizabeth invited Jesus to make His home was brought to a new home He had prepared for her.

During her funeral today my mind wandered and wondered…..if one day Elizabeth will return the favor and introduce me to our Savior she now sees…not just by faith, but by sight.

God gave Elizabeth a gift in her husband, Mike. When we witnessed them at the marriage altar and he vowed “…in sickness and in health….” he had no idea what he was promising. But….Mike lived his vows faithfully. He was God’s provision for her….an answer to prayer that was every bit God’s “very present help” in time of need. Elizabeth’s vibrant faith throughout her illness, combined with Mikes bold walk of faith alongside her has preached sermons without words that have changed trajectories and eternities that we’ll never be able to count this side of Heaven.

It’s an amazing love story: early one Friday morning Elizabeth left the arms that loved her unconditionally and landed in the arms that love her infinitely.

I heard someone say “We’ve lost Elizabeth.” I understand that…but in reality Elizabeth has not been lost since that day she asked Him to come into her heart.

And today, I know exactly where she is….

….because the Promise Maker is the promise keeper.


GOD STUFF

FEBRUARY 22, 2021



God Stuff

facet: one side of something many-sided, especially of a cut gem.

If my studies of Christ have taught me anything, it's that He is a savior with countless facets. I'm sure it's been said before, but the study of Christ and His many facets could easily take a lifetime with a result of only barely scratching the surface of all there is to know, not to mention all that we will never know.

In my walk with Christ, I've come to understand two things: I need to know what I believe and, equally or more importantly, I need to know why I believe. The 'what' without the 'why' is like saying, I believe because somebody told me.

Most Christians with whom I'm familiar, and myself included, have had a real God experience via the Holy Spirit. I'm not talking about the types of day-to-day experiences we have with God such as an answered prayer, rather I'm talking about the powerful kind of God moment that brings us to that level of faith that is required of us to see what we cannot see, hear what we cannot hear, and do what we otherwise would not be able to do.


AMAZING FRIENDS

FEBRUARY 16, 2021



Amazing Friends

In 2011 the company I was working for (Netezza) was acquired by IBM and in 2012 IBM sent me to Bangalore, India to teach a Netezza class to a large group made up of IBM customers, IBM partners, and IBM'ers. It was an amazing experience and one that I will never forget.

What an honor it was to work with such kind and hard-working people. I don't think I've ever had a more incredible classroom experience or felt more touched by a group of students than I was by this wonderful and amazing group!

We had a limited number of workstations in the class and had to put three people to each workstation. In any other situation that might have been a problem, but these people worked so well together that it was just never an issue - even when seated with people they didn't know.

Bangalore is a city of approximately 8.5 million people and the ride to and from class each day was an amazing and educational experience in its own right. Still, it was the warm and caring people behind all of these smiling faces that ultimately won me over.

I will always be grateful for the many friends I made on that trip! After five days together in the classroom, I fear I learned much more from them than they did from me.


CHOOSING TO SEE

FEBRUARY 10, 2021



Choosing to See

Have you ever taken the time to consider the difference between the ideas of being child-like and being childish? Matthew 18:3 calls us to the former while 1 Corinthians 13:11 calls us away from the latter.

I fear, over the process of many years, that I have allowed myself to be trained by the world to see being child-like as a flaw in the life of a mature individual. While accepting this idea may feel like it protects me from the evils of the world, all it really does is make a statement that I don't trust God.

I fear more importantly that there are real consequences to rejecting that passage in Matthew 18. I fear that it shields me from the ability to see, hear, believe, and receive all of the wonderful lessons and blessings that Jesus Christ has for me in this incredible life with which I have been gifted.

I want to continue to be child-like in my faith. I'm choosing God's view over the world's view. I'm choosing to see, hear, believe and receive all that God has for me. I'm choosing to be in the world without becoming of it. I'm choosing to be wise as a serpent while remaining innocent as a dove. I'm choosing to remain child-like as I'm putting away childish things.

I like the way Arthur Mendelson said it in the movie Patch Adams.

See what no one else sees.
See what everyone chooses not to see...
out of fear, conformity or laziness.
See the whole world anew each day!

I'm choosing to see!


GOD IS WORKING

FEBRUARY 09, 2021



A God Moment

Among Christians, Romans 8:28 tends to provide a foundation for our lives like few other passages. It says:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Some of us like to call them, God Moments. They are those special moments where we see God working out a plan and in a way that we could have never imagined. For many of us, God moments can be found not only in Life's most significant events, but also in those simple and quiet moments that barely show up on our radar - until we see God working.

In either case, my experience with God moments is that they very often turn out to be ah-ha! moments. That's because I'm unable to find an answer to my question until God draws open the curtain and presents me with that which He has already done for me.

Such was the case yesterday.

In recent posts I've described my quandary over the shift from weight-loss to weight-maintenance. It doesn't seem logical, but the former actually seemed easier than the latter, probably because I've never really been at a point in my life where I reached the latter.

Anyway, I'm a record keeper. And, in the same way that I've kept a running log to measure my success, I've also kept a log to track my weight-loss progress. But, watching the results in that log, when I made the shift to weight-maintenance, was a bit depressing. I felt trapped in an up one day, down the next cycle and I really had no idea how to deal with it. I had even shared my frustration with Patty at that time.

Cue the God moment.

On the same morning that God brought an answer, I discovered that Patty had been praying for me. I didn't know that she was praying and she didn't know that her prayer was being answered as she offered it.

It came to my attention that I could make changes to my log to show a favorable result as long as I kept my weight in a predefined range. Up one day and down the next no longer mattered, as long as the ups and downs kept me in that range.

Thank you, God - for those You Moments!


COUNTLESS MIRACLES

JANUARY 04, 2021



Countless Miracles

I need to share a bit of the backstory here to sort of set the scene. God's been working on me for some time now and it's been a rather unusual experience, unlike anything I've ever experienced before.

I attended Sunday School and Church at various points while growing up and even had experiences that were clearly God-ordained and anointed in the sense of a picture of the things still to come in my life.

Finally, in 1973 and at the age of 18, I gave my Life to Jesus Christ. And for some years thereafter, I was the epitome of the Proverbs 19:2 Christian. I had the zeal, but I didn't have the knowledge to support the things to which I was committing and to make sense of it all. I observed the wonderful benefits and blessings that so many seemed to enjoy, but I had no idea that a commitment was required and that there might be an associated system of beliefs that was involved.

Sometime in the very early 1980's I made some changes and took on a more academic approach to Christianity and my relationship to Jesus Christ. It was a big step in the right direction. Becoming grounded in the Word of God became instrumental to my walk with God. But in recent decades, and even in recent years, I've still struggled.

What I discovered was that an academic approach will only carry someone so far. At the end of the day, there is still a faith element involved. And the Christian walk can become very dangerous if we believe academics has provided us with all of the answers as I once did. It won't and it can't because there is always going to be that looming element of faith that is required while we walk with God here on earth.

And with that, I realized that academics without faith was cheating me out of the real power found in a deep and abiding personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It was cheating me out of the ability to join Christ where He is working as Henry Blackaby suggests, and to witness the countless miracles He was performing right before my eyes and on a daily basis.

In Martha's struggle and in her passing, I saw the countless miracles God was performing, just like those mentioned in the Book of Job. I saw God answer our prayer and stop the rain (2 times!) so we could travel safely on our 40 mile journey each way between our home and the Big Bend Hospice.

I saw God answer Patty's and my prayers to remove the burdens and worries that plagued Martha with fear about the prospects of dying alone and uncared for.

I saw God's concern for Patty's burden in caring for her mom and His attention to releasing her from that burden.

I saw nurses, doctors, medical staff, hospice staff, EMT's, volunteers, and even funeral home staff care for us in a manner as if they felt called by God to do so. Perhaps they were, but either way, many miracles were involved!

Before I became a Christian, I was one of many who saw other Christians and said, I Want What They Have! And, with the passing of Martha, I witnessed so many who reached out to us, loved us, and who cared for us while we were on this portion of our journey. It is for them that I say:

Lord, I Want What They Have! I want to be more like them! Help me Lord to notice the hurting during my day and to reach out to them. Help me Lord to care for them like these people cared for me and like you care for me.


THREE WISE MEN (part 3)

DECEMBER 06, 2020



3 Wise Counselors 3

After our departure from Savannah, Georgia, we found ourselves just west of Atlanta and in the city of Douglasville. It was a reasonable drive from there into the offices of Amoco Fabrics and Fibers where I worked and Patty was recruited for a teaching position with the public school system there in Douglas County.

Wise Counselor Number Three

When looking for a church in that area, a friend suggested we check out First Baptist Church and, in particular, the Sunday School class of Joe Fowler. Shortly thereafter we visited Joe's class and were immediately captivated by Joe's spiritual depth, his wonderful knowledge of and passion for Christ, and his deep and apparent love for everyone around him.

At one point, Joe was the Vice President of the student body at the University of Georgia where he studied law. He later joined a successful law practice there in Douglasville where he ultimately became a partner.

But more importantly to me, Joe was the consummate servant to everyone around him and a wonderful example of Christ to each of us. In fact, at the Wednesday lunch and Bible Study that he hosted at the church, I once heard a fella call Joe his best friend. To that comment, another fella responded, Joe is everyone's best friend! That pretty well sums up the Joe Fowler who I got to know.

It wasn't long before Joe and I were meeting for coffee early on Saturday mornings at the Shoney's there in Douglasville. Joe Fowler was about 5 years my senior, but just like with Joe Strickland and Rick Monroe, there was a lot there for me to learn from Joe and I was hungry for, and quite honored by, the time he made available to me.

There is no doubt in my mind that Christ used Joe Fowler in a powerful and wonderful way to make a significant and lasting difference in my life; and, one for which I will always be grateful.

One of the special memories of my life was having an opportunity to have all three of my aforementioned wise counselors at my daughter's wedding. It was there that I had the opportunity to introduce them to each other and to share with them collectively all that they have meant to me, over the years, as the three wise counselors in my life. Of course, Joe Strickland and Rick already knew each other but it was truly a special moment to pull them aside and have just the three of them together.

We lost Joe Strickland recently, but I'm sure everyone in heaven is rejoicing after a job very well done, and I'm confident they are all still celebrating his welcome home!


THREE WISE MEN (part 2)

DECEMBER 05, 2020



3 Wise Counselors 2

Joe Strickland had a very gifted friend - a young man about my age who also served on the Lay Witness Mission Team led by Joe. This young man was in charge of the Young Life organization there in Savannah and I believe was at one point a leader for Young Life in Georgia.

His gift extended well beyond the Young Life organization as he was a constant presence at high school football games and basically any place where a crowd of young people were gathered. He was known and loved by many of the youth of Savannah.

Wise Counselor Number Two

I met Rick Monroe, who was also a resident of Savannah and owner of Monroe Marketing, on one of the first Lay Witness Missions in which Patty and I participated. Joe Strickland recognized Rick's amazing gift for young people and recruited him and his team to work with the youth on our mission trips.

While we ministered to adults of all ages, Rick and his team of young people were at one moment hosting a competition to see who could stuff the most marshmallows in their mouth and, at the next moment, taking the young people on a heart-felt journey into the deep things of Christ.

Despite being close to the same age, I saw early on that there was much I could learn from Rick and we became good friends. We both had busy lives, but managed to carve out time to meet regularly for breakfast very early on most Saturday mornings.

And, just like with Joe, when Patty and I left town my friendship with Rick, and our working together continued to flourish. As she got older, our daughter, Allie, also started working on Rick's team on some of the Lay Witness Missions. And, when Allie prepared to marry Josh, I suggested that it might be a real special thing to have Rick marry them. In fact, and at our request, Rick became licensed just for the event and turned what too often is an ordinary event into a very special time together.

Speaking of Allie, one year on Christmas morning in the mid 80's, Santa and two of his elves came to visit Allie and Jonathan at our house in Savannah. Actually, it was Rick and two of the teenage young ladies from Young Life and something they had been doing for several years. What a blessing (and an honor) to have Santa visit the kids on Christmas morning!


THREE WISE MEN (part 1)

DECEMBER 04, 2020



3 Wise Counselors

In 1984 we left Albany, Georgia and moved to Savannah, Georgia where I took a job with the Georgia Ports Authority. And with that move, God unfolded His plan for a completely new chapter in our spiritual lives.

We had been part of a small singing group there in Albany that was made up of four couples and known as The Joy Group. Only a few days before we left for Savannah, the group threw us a going away party.

As the party came to an end, one of the men encouraged me to look up a guy named Joe Strickland when we got to Savannah. He told me that Joe was with what was then Nation's Bank, and has since become Bank of America. I took the suggestion seriously and called Joe at the bank when we arrived.

Wise Counselor Number One

Joe invited me to join him for lunch and so I made the trip over to the bank fully expecting to ride with him to one of the local restaurants. To my surprise, Joe took me up to his office where we were presented with an elegant and upscale seafood lunch. Only then did I discover that Joe was president of Bank of America there in Savannah.

While at the bank, Joe pulled out a map of Savannah to point out some of the better areas for purchasing a home. He helped me with a number of other things in our transition to Savannah, and also invited Patty and I to a Bible Study that he and his wife, Janet, hosted in their home.

Joe was ten years my senior and I saw in him a lot of what and who I wanted to become. I asked if I could treat him to lunch the following week and that turned out to be the first of many weekly lunch meetings together. In those meetings, I quickly came to recognize Joe as a mentor and wise counselor in my life.

In addition, Joe invited Patty and I to become members of his Lay Witness Mission Team and we worked together on numerous Lay Witness Mission Weekends in a number of different churches over a number of years. At some point the team also got involved with Emmaus Walks and started several Walk to Emmaus communities in south and east Georgia.

In 1988, Joe and his family left Savannah due to a promotion with the bank. At the very same time, Patty and I left Savannah to take on a new job within a division of Amoco Oil that would relocate us to Atlanta. Despite the geographical differences, we would continue to work together for many years on both Lay Witness Mission Weekends and Walk to Emmaus Weekends, not to mention meeting up at each other's homes and spending delightful weekends together enjoying our wonderfully blessed friendship.


UNPACKING MY FAITH

NOVEMBER 28, 2020

Unpacking My Faith

I have a weekly standing phone call with my 37-year-old son. It's something I really look forward to and it always promises something new and interesting. We both seem to have been cut out of a similar fabric and enjoy going deep together in our discussions.

Sometimes when he wants to explain something that might take a moment, he does a great job of preparing me by saying, let me unpack this. I know what comes next will be a thoughtful presentation of an idea in which he wants to paint a clearer picture for me. I really like and appreciate it when he uses that phrase to prep me. And as a result, I put aside any processing of my thoughts and make a conscious shift into listener mode.

In my post yesterday, I made reference to the importance of a foundation built in faith. And now, borrowing from my son's reference, I want to unpack that idea just a bit.

We often use the term faith to represent our system of beliefs. However, in this case I'm using the term to represent the reference in Hebrews 11:1 where it says, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. In recent years, I've had quite an epiphany regarding the application of faith (and the importance of it) in my life.

I'm by nature a rules type of guy. I'm the kind of guy who finds peace, comfort, and even joy in the academic side of this system of beliefs called Christianity. I like the opportunities I've had to study the Word of God and the wise writings of so many of Christ's teachers. And, I like the perception that everything I've learned fits together in a neat package.

But, I've come to understand in recent years that what I've learned really doesn't fit into a neat package. There was something that was missing and I didn't know what it was. I went from being a guy who found peace in the academic side of being a follower of Christ to a guy who found something missing in that same academic side. And, the experience shook me to my core and challenged everything I had grown to believe.

I didn't know it yet, but I had stepped away from the necessity of faith. It represented an unknown quantity and there was no place for it in the academic world to which I had become so engrossed. After all, I saw so many individuals putting their faith in systems of belief with far less evidence.

If I was to be a witness to Christianity and following Christ, it needed to be something in which I could place my total and complete trust and confidence. Otherwise, I was a fraud perpetuating a lie. And, I didn't want to follow a system of beliefs where faith so often seems to be a required substitute for the lack of anything reasonable.

Fortunately, for anyone willing to do the due diligence, the faith that Christ requires is not only a reasonable faith, but a far more reasonable and evidence-based faith than any other. And with that said, I remain grateful for the call in my life, and this system of beliefs that Christ has laid out for me, and that brings true meaning and purpose in my life.


SPIRITUAL LIFE

NOVEMBER 27, 2020

Spiritual Life

Patty and I were talking the other day and, in our discussion, I was reminded of how important my spiritual core is to everything I believe and hence everything I do. There was a time in my life where I saw my spiritual core as just one of many components vying for equal time. Well, I don't think I actually visualized it that way, but I fear I behaved as if I did. That was rather unfortunate.

What I want is to see all of life through the filter of my faith. To ask what Jesus would do is not practical to me. But, to ask what He would have me do, as confirmed in His word, is the filter to which I believe I've been called.

There was a season early on where I found myself ensnared in the trap of seeking man's approval. It's a terrible trap in which to find one's self. But, I finally discovered the truth, and the truth has indeed set me free. And with that freedom came a level of understanding and commitment that was not there before. It's an understanding that I no longer belong to myself and a commitment that I belong to Christ.

Probably the most important lesson I have learned in all of this is the importance of a foundation built in faith. A close second to that would be my understanding, based in faith, that I'm called into a personal relationship with Christ. It goes beyond the academic and the emotions to something that resembles a combination of both. I am called into a personal relationship with Christ where He first loved me and where, in a state of mercy and grace, I learn to love Him with my heart, my mind, and my soul.

For all that Christ has done for me, there is a single word that describes the constant state in which I live.

For I am indeed Grateful.


FAMILY

OCTOBER 20, 2020

Family
The picture above was taken in Pensacola, Florida in 2015. Left to right in the picture are my wife and I, our son Jonathan and and his lovely bride Amy, our daughter Allie and her awesome husband Josh, and our two amazing grandsons - Noah and Gabe.

When it comes to family, I can't imagine any husband or father who has ever been more blessed and grateful than this guy! There are not enough bytes on the internet to capture all of the good things I could say about my wife, the kids and their spouses, and those amazing grandsons.

I'm grateful because my family members have all taken on the challenge to become students of this life. There is so much to be learned in this gift of a lifetime, and there is so much to be gained by pursuing those lessons of life and the experiences that come with them.

I crossed the 66 yard line of life last month and I find it hard to believe that there are so many simple lessons still to be learned this far down the path. I suspect each of us could spend several lifetimes and not even begin to scratch the surface of all that there is to learn and experience. But, discovering the peace and contentment that come with these lessons has been well worth the effort!

What a blessing it is, in these retirement years, to sit on the back deck with my soul mate and talk about the things God seems to be doing in our lives. I married such a wise, caring, and beautiful woman. And, I am grateful every day that she made a choice to spend her entire life with me. That's something that is still difficult for me to imagine, much less understand.

And, what a treat it is to hear from the kids and the grandsons and to share in the joys of their lives. All things considered, what more could this guy possibly ask for?


Copyright © 2021 Hutch DeLoach






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