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Tag Archives: friendship

If This Desk Could Talk

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Senator’s Drafting Table, circa. 1911

My drafting table tends to generate a lot of discussion. Maybe you own something that generates conversation too. I wonder what tales this desk would tell if it could talk.

I usually get two questions right out of the gate. Do you stand to work? And, how old is the desk?

Do I stand to work? Often, yes. Why? Preference, I guess.

Where did I find the drafting table? Believe it or not, Beth found this drafting table at a garage sale from Rebecca Salley in Oviedo, Florida on February, 2004. For years I had wanted a standup desk but building one was cost prohibitive. Beyond its sturdy craftsmanship which includes tongue-in-groove corners on the three drawers that can be locked or unlocked with the original skeleton key, what is most fascinating is the history of the desk.

It was owned by George W. Bland of West Virginia. He was a senator from 1911-1914 for the 12th district of West Virginia. That earned him the nickname “Senator,” which is how his friends referred to him the rest of his life. Rebecca Salley, the lady from whom we bought the desk, is related to the “Senator.” 

Her father is Mr. Bland’s grandson wrote for me on the history of the drafting table. This is what he had to say about the it.

“Grandpa Bland was an Abstract Lawyer for Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey owned by John D. Rockefeller. He worked 32 years for the same company. He would go to the courthouse in any county where the company was trying to lease oil rights and check the title to be clear to be leased by this particular person. If all was OK he would draw up a map or blue print of the area for the company on this drafting table. It was always in the attic as long as I can recall.”

“Grandpa Bland was born December 31, 1866 at home in Blandville, WV, the family farm. He died June 14, 1941 when I was three years old and I do remember him and the funeral, which was in his home. His casket was in the office, first room to the left coming in the front door. He took me to Oscar`s for my first haircut. He died at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He had a kidney removed due to cancer and was doing fine for several days but died suddenly from a blood clot.”

“John Davis who ran for president in 1924 from Clarksburg, was a friend of Grandpa’s. I remember in the middle room in the attic, back to the window on the drafting table was a letter from William Jennings Bryant who also ran for president three times. In the letter he was thanking grandpa and ma for the hospitality while he was campaigning in the area and letting him stay there at Eastover, the name of the house where Grandpa lived and I grew up. I have no pictures of Bryant.”

See what I mean? If this desk could talk…

Note: The brown Stetson cowboy hat hanging to the left of the standup desk was given to me by my brother-in-law, Theo Jones. He purchased it on Whiskey Row in Prescott, AZ from a store that was going out of business. The hat is made from beaver felt and was made in the 1950’s. It’s the real deal!

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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Inspirational Stories

 

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Taking Stock

ImageOn 1/31 look at Gn 1:31 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.” (Ge 1:31)

On the final day of creation – which just happens to be the final verse of Genesis chapter one – God looked back over his handy work and declared that it was very good. It was so good that on the following day he rested!

Well, today is the last day of the first month of 2014! Stopping to evaluate the first month isn’t a bad idea. In fact it can be quite helpful.

When you look back over the first month can you say it was very good? Are you headed the direction you had hoped for? Would you grade January as average, good, or excellent? What things did you plan to do and in fact you did them? What opportunities came along that you are glad that you took ahold of? Are there some important lessons you learned that you should write down in your journal? What are some “do betters” for the month of February?

Now say a prayer thanking God for all the things that went well and ask for His help in the areas where you need it.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phil 4:6

Try not to be too narrowly focused as you look over the past month. For example, Think about all aspects of your life: marriage, parenting, financially, friends (are you meeting new people), family, education, physically (confession: I need to step it up in this area), educationally (are you reading and learning anything), attitude (are you joyful, at peace, friendly, etc), spiritually (Are you loving God by being content and thankful to Him for where you are in life? Are you loving your neighbor as yourself?). You get the point. I have also found it to be quite encouraging to list your blessings, speak them out loud.

I’ll end with a quote from the movie The Shawshank Redemption – just because I like it – “You need to get busy living or get busy dying.”

 
 

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Not Alone

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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – Jesus (John 16:33)

Trouble is part of being alive. Jesus told his followers what to expect so that they could have peace in the midst of trouble. I like that.

Difficult times do not catch God by surprise. In the context of this verse Jesus had just predicted that everyone would leave him all alone. Then he said, “Yet, I am not alone for my Father is with me.”

Imagine that you were one of the disciples hearing Jesus lovingly say to you, “You will leave me all alone.” That just goes against everything within me. I imagine that I might tell Jesus, like Peter did, not me Lord! “Though everyone abandons you I will not.” But Jesus would know otherwise. Jesus was prepared for the worst. He was prepared for rejection by friends.

The irony is that Jesus died for everyone, but he did it alone.

Prepare yourself to be at peace even though you will have trouble.  Jesus did not say to his followers that they ‘might have,’ or ‘were likely to have’ trouble.  He said that they would have trouble.  He sounds pretty certain to me.

Maybe you can be grateful for the heads up on this one. Now that you know that you will have trouble (in various shapes and sizes for sure, but trouble none the less) know this: the only reason he wanted you to know was so that you would find your peace, your calm, in him.

When you have trouble in your world of family, marriage, finance, church or business remember that you can also find peace ‘in Jesus.’ He is a friend who will never leave you.

A prayer: Master. Thank you for the heads up on the trouble I will face. Thank you for friends who stand with me when there is trouble. Teach me to wait on you. May trouble be the wind that lifts me into your calm presence; in your presence I am courageous and my heart is full. Amen

 

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Make Up Your Mind

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Often choice presents itself as neatly packaged in a pair: Heaven or Hell; Success or Failure; Right or Left? Up or Down? White rice or Fried Rice? Paper or Plastic? Admittedly, it isn’t always that simple.

You face choices at every turn in life and they are not always obvious. What career path? Which opportunity? School? Studying? Friends? Work? Exercise? Food? Where to live? Money: how much to save or give or spend? Health decisions? You get the picture.

And, oh I almost forgot, last night we ate wings. The waitress asked, “How would you like your wings prepared?” “What are my options?” I asked. Pointing to a spot on the menu she said, “We have more then fifty choices.” Awesome. But we each had to choose. Some let others choose for them. I chose teriyaki, fried. The thing is this: whether I chose or let someone choose for me, I have to eat it.

Someone said that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. That may be, but consider that not choosing is not an option, as much as you may like for it to be. You do have to choose. To not choose is also a choice.  Once you choose you must walk the path chosen.

Elijah was dead on. “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” (1Ki 18:21) Just make up your mind and walk that way. Decide who you will follow and get on with it. It sounds rather simple. Of course it rarely is. But sometimes it is.

Part of the human condition has always been a desire to have it all, to go from one thing to the next, to waver in allegiance. Yet in the process of wavering, allegiance becomes skewed and unclear. And maybe you’ve noticed that once a path is chosen and allegiances are formed that your mind goes to work to categorize reasons why you made the correct and best choice.

Yet ultimately you still must decide whom you will believe and follow. But whatever you do, know this: walking in the middle is unacceptable on so many levels.

Choose one path. One path only. If you try to follow every possible path you will end up following none. Biblically, throughout time, thousands have chosen the path of faith in God through Jesus Christ. I choose the big and narrow path of following Jesus Christ. Everything else is secondary. That one decision colors and shapes everything else in my life, if not always immediately, then eventually for sure.

I like this quote, maybe you will too, don’t know who said it: “To choose a path is to choose its destination. The traveler cannot grumble about the destination if he is responsible for choosing the path.”

Personally, today I choose the path and its destination: to believe God and Jesus Christ…to love my wife…to love my kids…to love my neighbor and friends (might be the same/might not)…to work with great intention in everything I do…to enjoy today for everything that the Lord will bring.

What about you? It really is kind of fun to have a choice. Go ahead. Every decision is not life or death. Some are, but most aren’t. Embrace your ability to choose. Choose to enjoy today.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Influence

Familie Müller Dez. 2007

Heinz and Ruth Müller were household names in my family. We even named a Siamese cat Heinz, after our beloved German friend. If I am not mistaken, I think that my youngest sisters middle name is Ruth. More than that, this German family was used by God has had a Christian influence on my life. Heinz and Ruth Müller are pictured to the left, front row, first and third from the left respectively.

Heinz served as the pastor of the church that our family attended while we were stationed in Augsburg, Germany. More than once I heard dad say, “I fell in love with Jesus while in Germany. I learned to love Jesus from Heinz because he was the first person I had met who acted and spoke as though Jesus was present with him at all times.”

Following nearly 15 years of active military duty, and due in great part to Heinz’s influence, my father spent 30 years serving the Lord in ministry. He served as both a minister and elder during that time. How did Heinz have such influence? The first thing Heinz did was to walk the talk. He was authentic (before being authentic was cool). He also invited my father to participate in the ministry of the church. Heinz would occasionally invite dad to lead a Bible study or to teach a Bible lesson. This simple act of placing faith in my father enough to trust him to teach, according to my mother, had an enormous impact on dad.

Look again at the picture: The man seated on the front row and far right is one of their sons, Klaus. He also learned the heart of his father and has served as a missionary in Africa for more than my entire adult life. I remember a time when I was teenager that dad and I visited Klaus at Texas Tech University where he was studying agriculture. He was preparing to move to Africa where he would carry the gospel by teaching people how to grow food under the severe conditions that exist there. Klaus has continued to train people in techniques for obtaining maximum food production from minimum water and land.

That Klaus is passionate about the training he gives is obvious: “Let’s face it, farming is one of the most biblical occupations we have,” Klaus Mueller tells a room full of African Christians at a ministry conference (according to  the Christian Chronicle).

Klaus and Christiane moved to Zambia in 1979.  “He is teaching Zambians to farm, to raise cattle and chickens and to serve the Lord,” said Evertt Huffard, dean of the Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tenn., who recently taught in Harding University’s Zambia program. Along with growing crops Klaus also teaches pricing and marketing where they learn to feed those in need and maximize their profits. A boost in their income increases their ability to spread the gospel.

“Don’t complain about the market being flooded,” he says. “Kill the competition. Be better competitors.” Sounds very American, or should we say German or perhaps Zambian? The point is, getting grain effectively out into the market place to those who need it most requires great effort, and so does getting the gospel out to those who need it. That is pretty good advice: For now, put into practice what Klaus taught those Zambian farmers. Don’t complain…be better competitors.

Heinz and Ruth joined Klaus and his family in Zambia in 1996 where they continued to have an influence for Christ. According to the Christian Chronicle, “Heinz raised funds to build a primary school” and “in 2011, Mueller and his family added a carpentry workshop to the primary school to teach vocational skills.”

People such as the Müller family have impacted the way I see the world and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for their continued faithfulness to God and obedience to Jesus Christ. The truth is, if my parents could have and the Lord had made a way, they would have returned to Germany to serve alongside Heinz and Ruth. But dad is already with the Lord. I am not sure if Heinz and Ruth are still alive, but I know for sure that they had a positive impact on my family. And I thank God for that.

Look around today and notice the people with whom you have influence. Don’t complain about where you are; rather influence the people who are near you. I would also encourage you to think of someone that you can say thank you to for the good influence they have had in your life.

BTW – I had the opportunity to personally thank Heinz for his influence in my parents’ lives – and in my life as well. After preaching in London in the early 1990’s Beth and I flew to Wiesbaden Germany to visit Richard and Leslie Nesbitt (my sister). While there we were pleasantly surprised to learn that Heinz and Ruth lived in the area. It meant so much to me to be able to say thank you to Heinz. That unexpected opportunity was a special gift from the Lord.

The Müller family reminds me of the verse: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Co 9:22)

If you would like to check out Klaus’ work please check at http://www.goodhopezambia.net

Dan

 
 

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