Thursday, March 19, 2009

Exit Stage Left

It has become increasingly obvious that I no longer have the time to maintain this blog. My postings are rare and far between. As of today I will no longer be posting on this site. I enjoyed it while I could do it, but there are only so many hours in the day.

There are a number of reasons to end my blogging beyond just the time constraint. I am no longer in pastoral ministry, so my posts were rarely in pastoral mode. The advent of Facebook as a networking and communications venue has helped me to keep in touch with more people than I was able to through the blog. Trying to write something meaningful and pithy has become increasingly difficult. For everything there is a season. The season for Jawbone of a Pastor has passed.

If you want to know what is happening in my life, you can visit my Facebook page or my work website at Logos Christian College and Graduate Schools.

To all my friends who encouraged me to put my thoughts in writing. Thanks.

Friday, February 20, 2009

So, What's Up with J.L.?

A number of you have asked me to update you on what is going on in my life and ministry, so I thought I would take a few moments of a busy Friday afternoon to get you up to speed.

In February of 2006, while on vacation to visit my family in Florida, I sensed the Lord speaking to my heart that it was time to wind up my stint in pastoral ministry. I loved what I was doing, but received confirmation from my wife, a couple of friends, circumstances in ministry, and prayer that it indeed was the Lord speaking. I took the next year to try to tie up as many loose ends as possible and "retired" from pastoral ministry.

During that year of tying up loose ends, I was invited by a friend to come to Jacksonville, Florida to assist him with a distance education Christian college and Graduate School. I accepted the invitation and in August of 2007 Grace and I moved and I commenced working as a non-paid volunteer for LOGOS. Little did I know that within 6 months I would be asked to undertake the task of the presidency to lead LOGOS into the 21th century.

A few years ago distance education was looked upon with skepticism. Now it has become mainstream as most major universities and many smaller institutions have a distance education or internet division. LOGOS has been providing distance education for over 30 years. In a way, we have been ahead of our time. But time has caught up with us. In a market with so many options we must find ways of assuring our present and future students that we will continue to provide them with a quality, affordable, accessible avenue for ministry training that will be worth their time, energy and finances.

I am looking forward to developing the College and Graduate School and ask all of my friends and colleagues to keep me and the school in prayer as we explore avenues to make us more effective and efficient. Drop me a line from time to time if you want an update, or to offer some moral support, or just to say hello. I value your prayers and seek your support.

In the meantime, I will continue to consult with present and potential students and help design programs of study for them that will assist them in become more productive for the Kingdom.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You shall know the truth . . .

As a student of theology, the search for truth is my highest priority. Jesus said that, "you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." Freedom and truth go hand in hand.

I love debate, but not just for debate's sake. Hearing an opposing argument causes me to define my perspective, refine my reasons and take into account that I may not have a corner on a particular truth.

One of my favorite columnists is Thomas Sowell. This guy knows how to frame an argument! He tackles the misconception of conclusions that are accepted as facts without proper discussion and debate.

Our universities have become institutions of propaganda to the extent that any voice that does not agree with the party line is figuratively and often literally shouted down. Once a stance has been taken on an issue, the debate is declared over. But I am reminded of Solomon's proverb, "The first to present his case seems right, tillanother comes forward and questions him."

There is wisdom is hearing both and all sides of a debatable issue. For only then can truth finally be discerned and freedom enjoyed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

See You Later

Sometimes God gives you a gift bigger and better than you could ever deserve. A spouse who loves the Lord and is a perfect helpmate. Children who are a joy to your life and the lives of others. Friends that fit in your life as comfortably as human friendship can.

Grace is that spouse to me and I try to be that for her. Benjamin, Daniel and Natalie are the joy of our lives. Alan, Julie, Allison and Alexis (pictured left) are the kinds of friends that rarely show up in your life. We are blessed.

About 10 days ago we found out that a job transfer would probably take our friends from our area. Much to our disappointment, the transfer was initiated and the truck came with lightning speed. The family furniture will be on its way sometime in the next couple of days.

We had lunch with them today. We ate at our favorite seafood restaurant where I have always joked that if the food didn't kill you the ambiance would. But of course, I kid you because the food is splendiforous. We laughed, talked about parenting, encouraged each other in the Lord, but avoided any conversation that had to do with parting. It's bad enough that it's going to happen, you don't need to add the pain of rehearsing it over and over in conversation.

In the Christian realm you never say good-bye. I like to say, "see you later." I am reminded of that wonderful, prophetic, songwriter Keith Green who used to say, "if not there, then in the air." What a great reunion awaits us!

We'll make time to text message, call, comment on our Facebook pages, and blogs. But it's the reunion that we look forward to. So remember guys, it's not good-bye. It's "see you later." And we will.

Monday, December 29, 2008

An Early Happy New Year to You

Since I last blogged about Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving, I thought I'd blog about New Years before New Years Eve. I'm such a rebel.

If you're wondering why I didn't blog about Christmas, it's really quite simple. I haven't been this busy during the Christmas season since I can remember. Actually I don't have time to blog right now, but I thought I'd do it anyway. It is true when they say you will find time to do the things you want to do.

Reflecting on 2008, I'd give it a 9 and 1/2 on a scale of 10. A lot of things happened this year that I am grateful for. I won't bore you with the details except to tell you that I am now working doing what I love to do and actually getting paid for it. It doesn't get much better than that!

But what about 2009? Every four years Americans get a whole new set of circumstances to factor into the equation of a New Year. We have a new administration taking over the leadershipof our government. Republicans are resigned and some are fearful. Democrats are ecstatic, filled with hope about change. As an independent conservative with some leanings toward libertarianism, I can't say that 2009 looks very promising. My experience with government over the years have proven that if you really want to make a mess of things, let the government take it over. We have seen it happen with welfare, education, the environment, Social Security and we may see it happen in health care, banking and the auto industry. 2009 doesn't hold a lot of promise at this particular venture.

But 2009 does have its ray of hope. Many are considering that sometime after the clock strikes midnight things will be different. Pounds will melt away, finances will improve, marriages will be healed, crime will disappear and Jews and Arabs will be at peace. Well, we can dream can't we?

It doesn't cost us anything at all to hope. Hope is what often gets us to roll up our sleeves and do something about the issues of life. Hope can inspire and encourage. It can knock us off center and into the arena of change. Hope is a powerful motivator. Faith is hope realized It is the flip side of evidence, yet just as real.

The little guy with the bomb in his hand is giving us a two tiered message. 2009 can be a disaster, or a brilliant display of fireworks.
Most circumstances in life have more than one possibility. 2009 lies before us as a chapter to be written. So take pen in hand and start writing.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Something to Be Thankful For

Some time in the past few months a turkey laid down his life for my benefit. A thoughtful farmer planted some sweet potatoes with me in mind. Cranberries were harvested from a bog, bread was cut into little cubes and allowed to dry out to be mixed with seasoning for dressing or stuffing, if you prefer. All of these items will be carefully prepared by loving hands and then the call to the table will come.

Amidst a rush of scrambling feet, legs, arms and elbows, seats will be taken. The leader of the gathering of family and friends will lovingly, yet firmly, ask the participants to join hands, or bow their heads together for the giving of thanks.

The prayer will be sincere. It will include thanks for family, friends, jobs, health and all of the provisions for which we can rejoice and show gratitude. The longer the prayer, the more fidgety the crowd will become. Thoughts of the food getting cold will trespass into the mind. Perhaps others will be strategically planning how to get the best cut of moist breast meat and mom's outrageously good stuffing, before it is decimated by the guaranteed food frenzy that will follow the conclusion of the prayer.

Finally the Amen is pronounced, echoed by an enthusiastic chorus. Moms and Dads fix plates for toddlers. The children are dismissed to the kids table. It dawns on an awkward teenage member of the family that there will be no room at the "big" table and she will be relegated to eating with a bunch of younger cousins. You'll never experience a teenager eat and asked to be dismissed
so quickly. The family pet parks itself underneath the table partly to avoid the ear pulling from the toddlers but knowing instinctively it will get an orb of people food previously forbidden.

Laughter penetrates the air as previous Thanksgiving memories are shared. One of the toddler nephews manages to get a pea stuck in his nose. Not to be outdone, a younger niece discovers that turkey gravy makes an excellent hair gel. Then panic ensues! A member of the family is in distress. The mandatory Heimlich maneuver is administered to Uncle Joe, who always seems to laugh too hard with his mouth full. After the initial scare, the feeding orgy continues.

Eventually the plates are filled, then emptied and some are filled again. It gets quieter by the moment. Partially because of contented palettes and stomachs but also because of the increased levels of tryptophan taking its toll. Family members begin to roll out of their seats and head toward the couches. The volume level of the television set is turned up so that football junkies can experience the game as if they were there live. The decibel level grows as other conversations compete. The mood will be determined by the score of the game. If the home team is winning, it will be a great holiday. If they lose, it will merely be a good one.

Somewhere along the line, at one time or another, most of the people gathered in the house will slip away for a few moments. Some mentally, some physically, but most will enter into a short period of reflection, which looks remarkably like a nap. They will gather all of the sounds, sights and smells and synthesize them into a warm memory clip to be filed away for future years. Those few quiet moments, individual and hardly every collective, will be the reason for the holiday. For a few moments, everyone will get along. All past hurts will be set aside. Hope for a better tomorrow will linger in the mind and heart. There will be a sense that things are good, and can continue that way.

During that moment, a contented sigh and a whisper of thanks will be directed to the one who births hope in our hearts. The Great Reconciler will appear by faith. And thanksgiving is in order.

"Father, I pray that this holiday will be filled with fun, family and faith. That all of my readers will be filled with your joy. That peace will reign in their hearts. That praise and thanksgiving will flow freely from their lips. Grant them forgiveness as a gift as they give it and receive it. And may they all take a moment to look toward heaven from which our richest blessings come, and give you thanks for all they have, and all you are. For the glory of your son. Amen."

From our home to yours, have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2008

We Still Support Our Troops

This post is a little late since Veterans' Day was over a week ago, but I thought I'd put it out there anyway.

There is good news on the war front. At this point in time it looks like there will be a gradual drawdown of troops in Iraq. This doesn't really have much to do with the election as the success of the mission has been determined by the superiority of our men and women in uniform and the great leadership they have by officers in the field and strategy room. Afghanistan will continue to present its own challenges, but I think we can be confident of eventually prevailing.

While this has been an unpopular war, there has been a huge difference between Iraq and Viet Nam. In the Viet Nam war our soldiers were singled out for criticism and called horrendous names. There seemed to be no difference attached to the fact that they were mostly soldiers drafted into the service and were not to be blamed for being sent out. The soldiers in Iraq are 100% volunteer. You would think that volunteering for an unpopular war would garner criticism but the American people seem to instinctively understand that for the most part the mission to Iraq has a noble component to it.

Our soldiers exemplify what it is to be an American in unique ways to how other soldiers are trained. They learn obedience with responsibility for their actions. They train in their craft of war with the objective to defend rather than to conquer. They conduct themselves as professionals knowing that they represent the honor and ideals of our country. This has been noted by others in the Alliance. Here is an excerpt:

. . . a post by a French OMLT (Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams) infantryman working with our troops there. A couple of brief excerpts:
Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans. [....]

Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.

And they are impressive warriors ! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

Even the French recognize how great an Armed Forces we have. :) I am proud of our servicemen and women. I am thankful that they are standing guard so that people like me can sleep at night in freedom. I am grateful that they will defend our rights against any and all enemies. But most of all, I am in their debt as a fellow veteran. The camaraderie we feel from one generation to the next can't be expressed in words. I continue to fight alongside them in virtual reality. Once a GI always a GI.

Although over 140,000 of them will spend Thanksgiving and Christmas away from home and hearth, our prayers should continue to be with them as we long for the day of their return.

Hat tip to American Thinker