Looking Back and Moving Forward

As I am preparing for next week and the second Sunday in Advent, I am reading the Gospel passage and related commentaries and preaching helps on the message of John the Baptist. I understand that in the Christian calendar Advent to be a time of waiting and looking forward. In the second verse of the text we will be using in my churches, John demands that we repent. In the very same verse he tells us why, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near. To my understanding, John is making a pretty difficult demand; he wants us to look backward, but st the same time, move forward.

I am not sure how I will use this observation on Sunday morning, or if I will use it at all, but this idea has caused me to reflect (which is never a bad thing!) Much of this reflection comes out of the article written by David L. Bartlett in the preaching book Feasting on the Word Year A Volume 1 for this week. I will read other commentaries and listen to other podcasts as I continue to prepare for Sunday, but right now I am struck by the idea of looking in one direction and moving in another.

Repentance involves something that has happened in the past. To repent we must look at what has already occurred. In churches that I have served, looking back often turns to nostalgia. By that I mean, when we look to the past we only see things that we remember fondly and we do not always see the whole picture. We often do that in our personal lives too, hindsight is not only 20-20, it also often times uses rose-colored glasses.

When I am moving, I have found it best to watch where I am going. I also realize that knowing what is behind me is important too. I have used the metaphor of the rear view mirror in comparison to the front windshield of a car to describe this idea. If you are looking in a different direction than you are traveling, difficulties can appear.

As I sit here trying to decide what to do with this idea, I am struck by how this looking to the past while moving to the future moving to the future capture a part of our human condition. Sunday I will explore this more, but today where do you see this playing out in our common lives? Is there value in this, or can we redeem what we see as of little value?


Reboot 3.0

For the last few months, I have been looking at this blog. I have wondered if I should blow it up. If I were to do that, it would not be the first time, that is what happened to my seminary blog Jokers to the left, Clowns to the right of me. That seemed wrong, so now I am left to figure out what to do in this space.

Looking back, I haven’t posted since January 2016, and did not post in 2015 at all. If you last checked in in 2014, what would you have said had I told you then that Donald Trump was going to be our next president. I know what I would have thought, and come to think of it, I think something similar today. For many reasons, some I may write about, and others I will not, I am ready to give this another go.

My goal is to write once a week. I will not write every week. My hope is to interact with friends who have been here for all of the years I have been in this space, and for new friends. I will look at important things. I will look at silly things. Truth be told, this may be my last post for another year. Hopefully it will be the first of many as we journey together. -ron

Is it a New Year Again Already?

With the coming of a new year I am very predictable. There are some things that I do at the beginning of every new calendar year. Every year I do the same things, I think that I do the same things every year because my follow through is poor. I realize that I need to do a few things better and the beginning of the year is a good time to address those issues.

I need to be better organized. I need to lose weight. I need to get into better shape. I want to do my job better. I want to be a better father and husband. I want to find more joy in my life. The list goes on and on.

To address some of these things I do the same things at this time of the year. Most of these things will not last until February. Hopefully this year will be different we will see. I join a gym. I start a diet, if for even a few hours. I clean my car. I clean my office. I start to blog again…

Hope and Racism

I often have said, and I truly believe that one of the most difficult and thankless jobs in the United Methodist Church is that of Bishop, closely followed by those who fill the role of District Superintendent.  These faithful men and women often are charged with playing the role of Bad guy as they faithfully live out their ministry in as best trying times.  They get the blame and they are often seen as adversaries of the local church.  It is easy to find fault with those tasked as leaders.

In the Des Moines Register’s opinion page there was an opinion penned by the Bishop of the Iowa Annual Conference.  It is insightful and timely.  The letter can be found here.  I appreciate the Bishop leading us in this manner and hope that he continues to lead us by example and through timely instruction.


First of the Lasts

I sit here and the calendar says August 12. That means that yesterday was August 11. I will always remember that day because it was yesterday that I was reminded that the world keeps right on going. Yesterday was the first day of our youngest child, Mackenzie, senior year of high school. We have been through this three times before, but this was the last time we would do it as parents. we couldn’t keep them under our wing, and we wont be able to clip this one’s wings either, not that we would really want to if we could.


As you can see, she is your typical senior. Wasn’t it was just yesterday that our soon to be good friend Denise drove into our drive and started looking for her new friend Mackenzie. Denise was Kenzie’s kindergarten teacher and we moved to Albia in August so she wanted to make her feel welcome. In the process we all felt welcomed…

We are all excited about the future and the possibilities it holds. We are blessed by her heart for others and the way that she has chosen to live her life. We love trying to balance our calendars with hers. I have always told Beth our job was to get her ready to face the world… We have done too good of a job, and we are wondering if we can’t grab another year with her under our wing?

We know that isn’t happening so we are going to seize the day. As she writes this chapter and the next ones we will watch and stand tall with joy and a touch of pride, just like we did and do with her brothers. God blesses me everyday in ways that I do not understand, but I am extremely thankful.

As I was coming to grips with the fact that I would soon be an “empty- nester,” I heard that Robin Williams died. I do not pretend to understand the battles that were waged in his mind. I pray that he has found his peace. I also pray that we as a people will begin to stop judging and find ways to walk with those who battle mental illness.


I am because we are

Random Stops on the Inter Webs

I try to start every day with a rhythm that allows me to get everything thing done that is on my to do list. I try to start with some quiet time, I use a couple of devotionals to get me started in the right direction. I then check my emails and peruse the internet for a bit to catch up on what has happened in since I disconnected from the world last. I do this in a number of ways, but I realized this morning that in doing so, I come across some crazy stuff. Let me share with you some of the “interesting” stops I have made in the past few days.

This headline caught my eye.

Amazon’s “Netflix” option may be lacking

That is a whole lot of phones

I keep rooting for this guy

That’s a problem, do you have solutions

What have you seen this week?