Thursday, March 31, 2016

FREE Indeed!

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”  Jn 8:36

Part of mankind bearing the imago dei is that we feel the need, the necessity of freedom.  We celebrate freedom, we write stories, books, songs, and plays about it.  But, much as we say we love it, in the end we seem to be slaves to something.

As I have noted before, it is easy to become a slave to our work, to our hobbies, to our desires, even to our children.  The enslavement is subtle and easy.  The quest for freedom indeed, is neither.
How do we escape this bondage?  It seems to me that this is ONLY possible when we make ourselves slaves of the Christ.  Only by voluntary indenturedness can we achieve true freedom.  When we are sold out to Christ, we have NOTHING left to lose, we have no one to whom we owe allegiance, and nothing captures our lives.

This freedom is challenging, and we have to pursue it anew each day… or at least that’s how it’s looking to me.  When I can give myself totally over to G^d’s will, when I seek nothing more than “Well done thou good and faithful servant”, when “this world has nothing for me”, then, and only then, am I totally free.

And, even knowing this, sometimes I am free, and sometimes not so much.

Monday, March 28, 2016


On the flight to Moscow I soon became too tired to work, so I resorted to a movie.  On Aeroflot, the choices are half Russian, so “Creed” looked like my best option.  Hmmm.

I know it won a bunch of awards, but I am not sure why.  The young man who played Adonis did an excellent job, as did Phyllis Rashad, but the story was a bit weak in my book.

It struck me, that in the movie, when the stress was highest that NO ONE even mentioned the possibility of praying.  When we are overwhelmed, when we are super-stressed, when bad news comes… who you gonna call?

Why not call on G^d, who created the Universe?

Make that part of YOUR Creed!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Road trip!

One of my favorite events of the academic year is the Southeastern Regional meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.  This year it was in Greenville, SC, about a 6+ hour drive.
Thursday morning at about 0700, we loaded up 4 faculty, 4 Ph.D. students,  a couple of MA students and 17 undergrads.  It was the first time that the undergrads outnumbered the grad students.  To be honest, some more grad students drove over separately, but it was still a record number.

The meeting was terrific.  I got to see, and chat with, folks I don’t see, except at a distance, in any other occasion. It’s a great time of catching up and seeing what’s going on in others’ lives.  The science is very, very good, the fun times very, very fun.  It’s great to socialize and learn.  It’s also great to see students realize that the names they read in journal articles are standing there drinking coffee.  I got to run with one of my former doc students on 2 mornings.  Doesn’t get any better.
Coincidentally (maybe not) the regional meeting of the Christian Faculty was only about 6 blocks from our meeting.  Saturday, when the science quieted a bit, I jogged down to hear my great friend and role model, Walter Bradley speak to the group.  John Lancaster asked if I would say a few words… Would I!

I only had 4-5 min, and I thought about how best to spend it… so I started off the first couple of minutes praying for the meeting and the individuals there.  I then bragged on them, reminded them of what a great mission field we have, and the ended.  Five minutes later I was back in my hotel showering and packing for the trip home.

Have I got a great job, or what??

Monday, March 21, 2016

It’s a Miracle! Or at Least a Very Unusual Coincidence

I previously mentioned that Brenda and I had bought a new, newer, smaller, easier-to-maintain house.  The way we got this house is a miracle, at least in my book.

We had been thinking about buying a newer smaller place for a few months, and right after the Christmas holidays we began to look. We wanted a garden home or something similar with minimal maintenance.  We have NEVER lived in a busy, multi-house neighborhood, except in Botswana.  We knew this would be challenging.

Brenda found a couple of places she really liked, but I demurred because I didn’t like having a view of NOTHING but rooftops and others’ walls.  I am picky about location, and we both wanted 3 BR and at least 2 baths, for visitors.

Our realtor was showing us a house, when a foreclosure caught my eye.  We got access, and I loved it.  It was on the outside corner, with two sides totally wooded.  It was a small subdivision of less than 50 houses.  IT was a total wreck, which meant we could redo it in our OWN style and taste.  I did the calculations, and if we paid full foreclosure price, we could still redo it at a very good total cost.  I planned on placing a bid on Monday.  We prayed about it over the next two days and… I could NOT get G^d’s peace about the purchase.  Oh well.

In doing all this, we noticed on Saturday morning that there was a “For Sale by Owner” home on the opposite corner, also wooded on two sides.  I wrote down the number, and we called.  The owners invited us to see it that afternoon, and it was terrific!

This is the same house we just bought last week!  But here’s the strange part…  The owner had the house on the market back 3 months earlier, and someone was very interested, but the deal collapsed.  The day before we saw the sign, the owner had prayed to G^d to provide a buyer, but decided to NOT advertise, NOT list, and sell it himself, with just a sign in the yard, put up the very morning we saw it and called.

Coincidence?  I think not.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Back in the Saddle Again


Brenda and I purchased our last home in late spring of 1985.  We bought what was then addressed as “40 Bellwood Northport”, and now is 2113 Bellwood.  We bought it through a sealed-bid auction that we won by less than $1000 with a bid of about $49,900.  After careful negotiation, we got the owner to finance us for one year at the upwardly negotiated price of $53k.  After a year of remodeling, partly while we lived in the house, we financed it in 1986 for ~$70k for 30 years at something like 8.5% interest- the going rate.  In 1993 we refinanced it for 15 years at about half that interest, and wound up with a similar monthly payment.

I say all that to introduce our recent home purchase on 17 Feb. 2016, our daughter Kelly’s birthday anniversary.  The new house is half the size of the old one at a MUCH higher price, although after adjusting for inflation, it isn’t really THAT much more (still more, mind you).  Of course the new house is really new, since it was built in 2007, compared to our old house, which is about 89 years old.
We really love the old Bellwood home, as do our children.  It is a fabulous location, an absolutely beautiful lot, and a wonderful old-timely style and construction that no longer exists.  The beams underneath are huge, 10X12 creosoted.  The layout is the old pre-a/c style of a big central hallway connecting two big porches.  The ceilings are 10 feet so the hot air ca rise out of the living space.  The walls are plaster and the closets are small and few in number.

When we bought the place, there were about 4 layers of wallpaper on most of the walls.  The outside paint had failed, and the shrubs were overgrown.  The yard was zoysia grass, but had not been cared for in 6-7 years.  In over 30 years of living here, a lot has changed.  Our little kids are now adults with kids of their own.  The bushes are still overgrown, just different bushes in different locations.  There are more crepe myrtles; now there are oak leaf hydrangeas to supplement the American strawberry bushes and the Perny hollies.  The roof and the heating system are almost new… the trees mostly 30 years older and bigger.

It’s been a wonderful house, a real gift from G^d.  But its time has past.  We love that old house, but we aren’t married to it.  We love it, just don’t have a long term commitment to it.  The new place can be locked up and left for months on end.  The old place couldn’t go more than a couple of weeks.
Things change… but G^d doesn’t.  His qualities are steadfast.  His faithfulness endures to all generations.  We love him and are committed to Him.  It’s important to make these distinctions.