Friday, November 24, 2023


     I always perceived myself as a relatively intelligent and popular student at Hiland High School in Berlin, Ohio. But the evidence proves otherwise.
     My grade cards show that I was just an above-average student at best. And, pictures from my junior year 1971 yearbook confirmed my mediocrity in high school. 
  • I was never on the Scholarship Team
  • I was never on the National Honor Society
  • I was never on the Student Council
  • I never even tried to be one of the staff members to publish the popular Hilander school newspaper.
     You will see in all the pictures that I was conspicuously absent. (Note: I was glad to see my brother Merv in a couple of the pictures, like on the Student Council. Sadly, several people in the pictures have passed away for various reasons. James Miller as some of you know, was murdered.)
     I got some notoriety from playing sports. You can see from my Hiland High School letter jacket, which is now way too small for me that I lettered 5 times in three varsity sports.
  • One year in Baseball
  • Two years in Cross Country.
  • Two years in Basketball.
  • I received the Most Improved Basketball Player trophy my senior year.
     But, despite some modicum of success, all my teams followed the same path toward mediocrity. So, sports wasn’t something I could hang my hat on as a great accomplishment.
     There are many of us for which mediocrity has been our lot. We may be good at some things—but aren’t elite at any one thing. We may have a degree of popularity, but people don’t flock around us as they do others.
     So, what can we do with our mediocrity? I think there is only one answer. It happened to me 46 years ago in 1977, five years after high school. It happened to Jesus’ disciples, most of whom were unlearned tradesmen, like fishermen or tax collectors.
     Jesus didn’t choose an elite group of achievers to be part of His Inner Circle. What happened is that God by His Holy Spirit called His disciples. In the same way, He calls us, to follow Him.
     Our main goal, as was the goal of the disciples, is not to gain glory or status for ourselves.
     Our main goal is to gain glory for God and His Son Jesus, who died on the cross to free us from our sins. God then by His great power can, if we let Him, fade our insecurities and feelings of mediocrity.

Monday, November 6, 2023



     Chapter 3 of the book Floods Upon Dry Ground, is titled “Change or Die”. Pastors Bobby Duncan and James Jones based the chapter on what happened to the four lepers in 2 Kings 7, and how it relates to the church today. The four lepers either had to change their plan of staying where they were, or they were going to die of starvation.
     The authors wrote that we often think that other people are the ones that need to change, and we often blame them for failures. Or we might blame the church of which we are a part. They wrote, however, “The hard road is always the one less traveled”, as poet Robert Frost wrote in the poem, The Road Not Taken.
     Pastors Duncan and Jones said, “Not all change is good”, especially if it leads to “change without growing”. “The message is not to change for the sake of changing but rather to change for Christ’s sake—for growth in Christ."
     “Change is typically challenging, and at times it can be agonizing,” And we are often resistant to change. The authors told the funny story of Barney Fife in the Andy Griffith TV Show, and Barney’s resistance to disposing of Mayberry’s cannon. Barney reminisced to Andy another time he resisted change when the post office went to “slot machine” stamp dispensing, equating these machines to gambling.
     Pastors Duncan and Jones wrote that change can bring about “defining moments”. “How we handle these defining moments determines our success or failure, as well as our eternal future.” They gave the example of Faithful Abraham and numerous other Bible heroes who obeyed God—even though the changes sometimes caused them to experience great pain or loss. But, inevitably it brought about new opportunities. The authors wrote, “God always has a purpose for what He allows.”
     Back to the story of the four lepers. They acted out of desperation. Their desperation caused them to “do something” different, or else they were going to die the painful death of starvation.
     We often don’t feel the urgency to reach others for Christ. I sometimes don’t feel the urgency. The authors said we should, however, consider the urgency of the four lepers to change or die, and apply it to our own lives in the area of evangelism.
     In other words, we need to consider who will die, including lost people, even ourselves, and the church as a result of not making changes.