Author Archives: Bill

10.28.2022 – In Praise of Appreciation

It’s almost over, so probably a good time to say something about it. October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Like many pastors, I have had a love-hate relationship with Pastor Appreciation Month. Mostly hate.

What? You didn’t know it was Pastor Appreciation Month, and now you find out with only a few days and one Sunday until it expires? Apparently, you are not alone. Just a couple of weeks ago I said something about this festive month to a younger colleague, and he knew nothing about it. He didn’t know that he was supposed to be appreciated and wasn’t slightly embarrassed by the way his congregation was (or was not) observing this most important of all designated months.

Unfortunately, we pastors have to share our special month with squirrels and pit bulls. I don’t know if there is a connection.

In 1994 Focus on the Family, which at the time had a huge daily Christian radio audience, launched Pastor Appreciation Month. Since churches love nothing more than a tradition, it soon became a tradition. Focus on the Family still offers a manual on how to show appreciation to your pastor. Both Hallmark Cards and American Greetings have designated Pastor Appreciation pages on their website and American Greetings even has a helpful “what to write on your card” section for those who bought a card but don’t know what to say. I did not check to see if they have a “what to write” section on their squirrel and bit pull pages.  (“Thanks for scurrying out of the way after I swerved to avoid hitting you,” “Thanks for your bark being worse than your bite.”) Continue reading

10.21.2022 – Love is More Than a Costume

Our four-year old grandson is going through a superheroes phase.  He knows more about the Marvel Avengers and the DC Universe than I will ever know and is patient with us when we miscategorize or misname one of the Avengers or one of the residents of the DC Universe.

He has asked his parents about the likelihood of being bitten by a radioactive spider and becoming a Spiderman-like superhero.  They have told him it is not likely.

For Halloween he has decided to dress up as Robin, Batman’s friend, the Boy Wonder. His mom has found the tights and shirt for the Robin costume, but Becky has designed and created the pièce de resistance, the perfect Robin vest.  There will be at least one very proud trick-or-treater in Germantown, Tennessee, this Halloween.

A smart four-year old knows that the world of superheroes is a make-believe world, but still wonders, “what if?” What if that radioactive spider bites him? Continue reading

10.14.2022 – Why We Need Salty Language

Last week president Biden traveled to Florida to view some of the damage done by Hurricane Ian.  During the course of the trip, Mr. Biden met several survivors of the devastation and talked with local officials about what might be done to assist in recovery and rebuilding efforts.  Among the officials with whom he talked was the mayor of Fort Meyers Beach. A hot mic from one of the news crews covering the event caught part of the exchange between the president and the mayor.

As they talked, the president tossed one of his famous f-bombs with an oddly mafia-esque tone to it.  The mayor laughed and agreed with Mr. Biden by taking the Lord’s name in vain.

While the White House declined to comment on the exchange, the mayor, basking in his 15 minutes of fame, was more than happy to say more.  “We’re both Irish Catholics,” he told reporters. “We’re both devout Catholics. But every once [in] a while a little salty language comes out.” Continue reading

10.06.2022 – On Picking Our Battles Wisely

Becky and are in the midst of a wonderful week of having our oldest grandchild with us for a visit.  Caleb is 12 years old and is at that great age of being conversational and engaged with little of the attitude that sometimes, or at least stereotypically, infects children two or three years older than he is. So far, the week has been full of lots of laughter, and we are loving it.

But Caleb is 12.  Along with conversational comes opinionated and, yes, occasionally argumentative.

Caleb is 12.  Among the many joys of having him here is seeing him delight in the LEGO sets that once belonged to his dad and his aunts.  And since you asked, I do think those old LEGO sets are superior to the new LEGO sets in the way they allow creativity and imagination – fewer of those one part with one use pieces. Continue reading

09.30.2022 – A very short story about love

Dr. Toney with a patient at Kibuye Hospital, Burundi

We don’t need to know all the details. In its very short form, the story adds just a little more to our never-quite-complete definition of love.

As Ossian Presbyterian Church, where I preach, prepares to receive a new pastor in God’s time, we have been working to remind ourselves of what “God intends for this people, in this place, at this time.” Recent sermons have focused on Christ as our unity (Philippians 2), our call to good works (Matthew 5), the Great Commandment (Mark 12), the Great Commission (Matthew 28), and, a Sunday ago, what we called the Great Conspiracy (Acts 1). The Great Conspiracy is our Spirit-empowered witness in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

That’s just the backdrop to the very short story.

As we talked about being Christ’s witness to the ends of the earth, I shared a video that some of you have seen before. If you don’t remember or never heard the story of Fides and how God used our friend Dr. John Cropsey’s skill to restore her sight, here it is and well worth the six minutes you will invest in watching it. Continue reading