Before and After Shots of an ROTC Guy

Can you identify the difference (besides surrounding – location doesn’t count) between these pictures of Joshua?

Here is the Before:

Definitely a

And here is the After:


This is definitely not a fashion makeover. And the difference is not in the fact that he’s wearing a hat outside. Hint, look closely at the collar.

Yep, you guessed it (or, if you didn’t I’m going to tell you anyway because it’s my blog and that’s sort of the point), Joshua was PROMOTED at Navy Jr ROTC today!!!

Before – a c/Petty Officer 2nd Class (E5).
After – a c/Lieutenant (O3).

The “c/” stands for Cadet. Joshua was highly honored in his promotion. He skipped E6-9 and O1-2, a total of 6 ranks. He will be the Executive Officer (second in command) of Viking Company in the NJROTC program of 120 cadets. There were 12 students promoted today: 1 Lieutenant Commander, 1 Lieutenant, 8 Ensigns, 1 Master Chief Petty Officer, and 1 Senior Chief Petty Officer.

We are so proud of you, Joshua!! You will be an excellent leader. It is a joy to see you grow in your maturity, integrity and honor. We love you!!

Gotta love that smile!


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Goals for 2011

Every two years or so, Kathy and I attend the Great Commission Conference (aka the Prayer Conference) at Jefferson Baptist Church, in Oregon. We’ve written about it before:

I would have to say, this conference has probably been the single most impact-full training I have received in my life as a Christian. It was this seminar that really awakened in me a desire to be a Champion — that is, a Christian who is truly devoted to growing and excelling as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Goals by headlock
Sometimes you have to use special ‘persuasion’ to get people to set goals.

Two years ago, we brought Joshua with us, as a sort of ‘rite of passage’ for him as a rather mature 15-year-old. This year, we brought Rachel as well, since she had recently turned 15. I asked each of the kids to invite friends, and Kathy and I invited some others; in all, there were 14 in our party, and more than 20 from our church.

One major focus of the conference is the desirability of using goals as a way to promote growth. As Dee Duke says, a goal (or a commitment, if you prefer that word) is not a goal unless it is:

  • Written down
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable (at least somewhat difficult, but not impossible)
  • Accountable

Today was Family Day, so it seemed a good day to have a Family Meeting. I told the kids:

“At 3:30, we’ll meet and discuss our Goals for 2011. Bring a copy of your goals with you to the meeting.”

Swim-Piano Boy
One of David’s goals was to get onto the ‘B’ level of swim team.

There was much scurrying around, because some of the kids hadn’t written their goals at all. Kathy posted a few possible categories on the whiteboard:

  • Spiritual
  • Educational
  • Physical
  • Fun
  • Ministry

We all passed our goals around, and read some of them out loud. This is the week that we will take our goals out for a test drive, seek advice, and adjust as necessary. I’ll post my goals at the bottom of this post, hoping for recommendations and comments.

Six feet or bust!
We all agreed that Daniel’s goal to be six feet tall this year, while specific and measurable, is out of his control, and therefore not a good, achievable goal.

I’m sort of a slow learner, when it comes to goals. This year is the first time that I have agreed with the need to write my goals down AND review them daily, to insure that I keep them in the forefront of my mind.

My Goals for 2011

Spiritual Growth & Maintenance
Pray for my ‘flock’ 5x/week
Read at least 2 chapters from my Bible daily
Pray at least 10 minutes (for that ministry) when preparing for AWANA or Sunday School
Write an encouraging note, card or e-mail to someone in my ‘flock’ every week
Visit someone in the hospital (1 visit/month)
Pray about anger, full-time calling to Missions, and wisdom daily

Pray with Kathy 2x/week
Go out on a date with Kathy at least 1x/month
Have a ‘home date’ with Kathy 1x/week

Resume special days in some form (at least one child per week)
Read some kind of devotional to my kids 4x/week


Write one blog post each week
Exercise 5x/week, 15 minutes minimum

Review my goals daily
Report (email) on my goals to the elders & my ‘prayer boys’ weekly
Report (email) on my daily tasks to my boss each work day (5x/week)

Learn or Do Something New
Take some kind of a class with Kathy this year

Fun with the Family
Find at least 1 geocache each week
Play at least 1 board game/week with my family
Go camping as a family twice before September 30

Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (BHAGs)
Increase our tithes & offerings by $50/week
Pray 30 times about my calling into full-time Missions work
Complete the Wycliffe application
Meet with the Wycliffe IT recruiter

I’m not trying to boast, or make anyone uncomfortable — indeed, for some of you, these goals may seem pretty pathetic. I just want to accomplish something with 2011, and I think that these goals will help to keep me on that track.


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On the Night He Was Betrayed

Last Saturday evening our church, like many other churches around the world, celebrated the ordinance of communion, or The Lord’s Supper, as it is known to some.

Most people don’t know all the work that goes into communion, in terms of the filling of the cups, the placement of the trays on the altar, the orderly serving of the seated congregation, and even the devotional that usually accompanies it. In our church, the elders are responsible to receive the communion trays from the pastor, and to walk the aisles, serving the congregation in their seats. Responsibility for the devotional falls to our senior pastor, but he likes to include the other pastors and even the more reliable elders.

It should be noted that I am not one of the ‘reliable elders’; I have never yet officiated at the communion table, and I like it that way.

One of our elders is an intelligent, capable sort of man (I hope he doesn’t read this, ’cause it would give him a big head), who remembers his appointments and cares about details. He is usually given the task of rounding up a suitable number of elders to serve communion for the second service, and everything runs smoothly because of his attention.

In October, this all changed, when our church added a service on Saturday nights. I decided to support the Saturday service, and so (in spite of fierce opposition on the part of my traditionalist family) we now attend the worship service on Saturdays, and go to Sunday school on (when else?) Sunday mornings. (I don’t think ‘Saturday School’ will ever catch on.)

Communion Tray
Our church uses the ‘single-pass’ trays, with the bread in the center, surrounded by the cups.

When it came time to serve communion this week, we were short on elders. There weren’t any other pastors in attendance, and there were only two ushers present (ushers are our usual fall-back). We need four men to properly serve our church; the only other likely candidate available was a man who is no longer active as an elder, but served for many years as the chairman of our board of elders. The problem was, he is also part of the worship team, and was standing, up on the platform, in front of the congregation.

Our pastor is crafty, though, and managed to alert him through repeated calls of Psssst! during the prayer, drafting him into communion service. I wonder what the worship leader thought of all the ‘Psssst-ing’ during his prayer?

But I digress.

I like serving communion. My heart is warmed by the smiles of the people on the aisle, as they receive the trays from my hand. I hold my breath with the parents, as their shoulders slump in relief, when the communion trays are successfully passed by their children without mishap. I enjoy the sacred, secretive look on people’s faces, as they are confronted with these tangible symbols of the awesome love of Christ, who gave up His life for them.

Kathy tells me that my children are sad when I’m not the one who passes the tray to them, and glad when I do. I guess it is sort of like the way that David and Sarah used to fight over who got to hold my left hand when walking through parking lots (they liked the hand with the ring on it). Hopefully Dave (the usher) won’t read this or be hurt by it.

For some reason, I often lose a communion tray. You’d think as a programmer, I could master this basic math: two hands, two trays. Two men serving a section of pews; a total of four hands, four trays. Pass ‘em down the first two rows, then move to the third and fourth rows to receive the other two trays, repeat until you’re out of rows. It is hardly rocket surgery.

But people don’t sit in an orderly fashion. (Personally, I think they do it on purpose.) Sometimes one couple will sit all the way to the left or right of an empty row, and so the server on that side has to serve them without actually passing the tray down the length of the row. By the time we got to the back of the church, I had only one tray, and there were only two visible in play. I frantically walked back up the rows of worshipers, but to no avail — the tray was gone.

Maybe this happens to keep me humble, or maybe there is a conspiracy among the ushers to embarrass me — I don’t know for sure. The tray was eventually located, and three of them ended up in my partner’s hands, which is always fun to watch. I tried to pretend as though one tray was all I had been given, and demurely made my escape through the swinging doors at the back of the sanctuary.

As I returned to sit for my family, the pastor read this passage from the first letter to the Church at Corinth:

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

I’ve heard that passage read nearly every month since I was a little boy — and because of that, I tend to hear the King James version, which says: ” … this is my body, broken for you … “, whatever the pastor actually reads. I often shudder when I think of the horrible pain and anguish Jesus felt, as they nailed Him to that cross, and as the Father turned away from the sin that was placed upon His Son.

For some reason, this time, the words ‘on the night He was betrayed’ kept resounding through my head. I thought of the times I have been betrayed, and how my thoughts on those occasions were focused on vengeance, not grace. How could Jesus think of establishing a New Covenant for His disciples, knowing that the one who would betray Him, sat listening to His words?

“Is it I, Lord?”

As we begin this new year, and we think of all the disciplines we want to renew, it is easy to become ‘weary in well-doing’. I find it helpful to meditate on the deep, deep love of Jesus, who, even in a time of great personal anguish, still found the strength to purposefully and intentionally love me, almost two millenia before I was born.


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