Archive for Recreation

Starbucks Amos and Amos 8:11

1093659-largeI am at my local Starbucks just about every day. I know, I know: I have a problem (the first step is admitting right?). But in my defense, two of my four kids have worked at our neighborhood Starbucks and, well, I’m a good family man. Also, I believe approximately ten or so baristas attend our church, which makes it one of those “return of the tithe” kinda things!

So I think I’m justified. Stop judging me. 🙂

Sure I’m a espresso addict, but more than anything I’m here for the people. I love to see folks…you know, the coffee shop regulars. One such regular is Amos.

Amos is 92 years old. He’s a kind elderly gentlemen that exudes warmth. He is usually in his seat right when the doors open. Then, after chit-chatting with the other patrons, finishing his tall Pikes Place, and perusing the newspaper, he will make the long, slow shuffle to the door. I always give Amos a glance and a friendly “good morning sir” but we’ve never had a long conversation.

Until today. 

He told me about how his morning was shaping up. Tidbits from the newspaper. His next stop was to go to Snap Fitness to exercise a little bit (remember he’s 92!). Then we talked about his knees and hips and how he was able to avoid surgery by simply moving and being active rather than sitting in his chair for too long.

Then before he walked out the door, he stopped, came back to me and asked: “Are you the pastor at the church up the hill?” I acknowledged that I was.

He said: “Young man, heaven and earth will pass away, but word of God endures forever. Every day before I do anything I read the Word. Then at night before I go to bed, I read the Word. It is my life.”

I leaned forward because he had my full attention.

Then he looked me in the eye and said: “May the Lord richly bless you today and may God speak to you in a fresh way.” I nodded in agreement and whispered an “Amen.” He then smiled and shuffled his way out the door to this truck.

Amos of Starbucks.

The Old Testament prophet named Amos captured this in Amos 8:11…“The days are coming when I will send a famine through the land, not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.”

I can’t think of a worse kind of famine. Let’s pray that we don’t experience a famine such as this again in our land or hearts.

How?

Well, let’s be like Amos of Starbucks who hungers and thirsts daily for the word of the Lord.

Summer of Sabbatical

I have been given the gift of a pastoral sabbatical this summer. For this I am extremely grateful. My sabbatical will last a little over nine weeks and begin on July 1.

What is a sabbatical? It’s a good question, not least because ‘sabbath’ is a lost practice in our day. We all get vacations and “time off,” but a sabbath is something altogether different. Sabbath is a time to stop, to rest, to delight, to play, and to be renewed by the Creator and Sustainer of all things.

A sabbatical is meant to be an extended sabbath. Some may wonder if there is any sin, frustration with the church, or desire to move on to another ministry assignment. The answer is no. Some have asked if I am taking this time to focus on my doctoral work, or to write a book. The answer is no. I had considered starting my doctorate soon, but opted to wait until another season, and I have had a couple of book ideas on my mind, but don’t feel like the time is right to develop those yet. Although I will be reading and journaling…a lot. The point is to have an extended sabbath—a holy space to rest and be renewed.

For pastors, the practice of a sabbatical becomes particularly important because of the role we carry in the church. The weight of spiritual leadership is hard to explain or quantify, and yet it can take a very tangible toll on a leader’s soul. Many leaders don’t stop because they don’t feel that they can for fear that the church may fall apart without them. But I believe that Jesus is the Head of the Church! I think you agree.

Jesus withdrew in silence and solitude, even when the crowds were pressing in. Therefore, it’s important that pastors do that too. A sabbatical obviously is no substitute for regular rhythms of rest and renewal. And yet, our church council was so gracious to give me something extra, something longer, something special as a gift. This gift is really the gift of time. Thank you.

So, what will Denise and I do on my sabbatical?
We have intentionally crafted the weeks to make space for rest, recreation and renewal. There will be times for just Denise and I to be together, as well as fun memory-making adventures with the kids, cherished moments with family and friends, as well as some solitary blocks of time with just me and Jesus.

During this summer, we will be commemorating a number of milestones:
• My 45th birthday
• My 25th year as a licensed Foursquare pastor
• My 7th year as the lead pastor of West Salem Foursquare Church
and finally (and most amazingly)…
• Our 25th year of marriage (the result of the grace of God and a good lady)!

So, we’re gonna do some wonderful things, but there are also things we will NOT do. For my sabbatical, the things I will deliberately cease from are:

• Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (checking and posting)
• Email (all my addresses are being forwarded to my assistant)
• My phone (I’m shutting it off often, using it sparingly and not for business)
• Content-creation (no sermon writing, blogging, planning, etc)
• Speaking at any churches, camps or conferences

The things I will intentionally delight in are: family (including our sweet grandbaby), friends, reading (lots of fiction, mostly soul care books and a few theological ones), walking, working out, riding bike (I just bought a bike and am excited to start riding it…gotta get ready for the new bridge to Minto Brown park!), and watching The Olympics (The Fehlens really love watching the Olympics together!).

What about West Salem Foursquare Church?
Well, as you know we have an amazing team of staff, elders and servant-leaders! Our Navigational Team will continue to oversee our staff and day-to-day operations. Each Sunday service will have great communicators sharing the Word of God. Along with our staff, we have a number of incredible friends and partners in ministry that will be joining us throughout the summer.

Sunday, June 26th, will be my last Sunday before the sabbatical. I will be back in the pulpit on September 11th.

Pray for us. Pray that the Lord would surprise us with joy in beautiful ways, and that our hearts would be drawn closer to Him and to one another as family during this time.

The Best is Yet to Come,

John

5 Kinds of Books I Focus On

Ask around and the people closest to me will heartedly confirm that I read a lot of books.

A LOT.

I have a book going ALL the time. Actually, I have a bunch of books going all at the SAME time. I realized recently that I’m a “binge reader.” I tend to get a handful of books from the library or Amazon and then I dive into them all and see which ones “catch on.” Some of them don’t really grab me so I simply set them aside. No worries. Perhaps I will engage them at a later time. Perhaps not.

Other books (plural) gain traction, and I love it when that happens. I’ll keep one in my backpack. Another 4-5 are bedside. Still others are available in my “currently reading” piles at my office and home study. I even keep books in my car (currently there’s about 15 in the backseat), on my iPad for when I fly, and, yes, by the commode (don’t judge).

Solomon, in the Book of Ecclesiastes, had it right: “There is no end to the writing of many books and reading many of them makes the body tired” (Ecc. 12:12).  With all these books at our disposal, one may wonder how I choose WHAT to read.  Glad you asked…

Here are Five Kinds of Books I Focus On…

1. Resource Books.

These kinds of books are those that are currently popular or people ask me about. As a pastoral leader, I get asked often about certain books. Folks wonder what I think about it or if it’s the kind of book they should read themselves. Obviously, I can’t read every such book, but I think it’s important for me to be somewhat conversant.

ExamplesLove Wins by Rob Bell, Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson

2.  Research Books.

Many of the books I read serve as background for a particular preaching or teaching series. These may be commentaries, topical studies, or textual/expository (verse by verse) materials. These can often be dry, so I read research-like books sparingly.

Examples:  Ben Witherington III Socio-rhetorical Commentaries, Jon Courson Bible Commentaries or The Reason for God by Timothy Keller.

3.  Recreational Books.

Occasionally, I want to immerse myself in a good novel. Give me a well-written “political, who-done-it, edge of my seat, thrill-ride” of a book and I’m in my happy place. Toss in a Iced Triple Espresso and I’ve transported into the “third heaven.”

Examples:  Anything by writers like John Grisham, Brad Thor, or Vince Flynn. Pretty much if it’s under $10, fits in my backpack, and I can get ‘lost’ in the action, I’ll read it.

4. Renewal Books.

This is a pretty broad category for books that benefit my personal growth, leadership development, and character development. These may be new releases from Christian authors, but I try to limit those because so much of what is being currently written is nothing new or revolutionary. Therefore, I lean mostly towards biographies. Biographies let me do the work of gleaning the lessons, growth points, and leadership concepts rather than having them spoon-fed to me.

Examples:  Biographies by David McCullough (John Adams is my favorite), Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson, and Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull.

5. Retreat Books

Throughout the year I have scheduled retreats for prayer and solitude. During these times I bring with me contemplative works – often old and classic. These are far from “pop fare,” but rather, deep wells of wisdom from seasoned sojourners.

Examples:  The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence or anything by Eugene Peterson.

Ah, books. I love them.

By the way, if you’re ever asked what book you’d choose if you were to be marooned on a deserted island, you may be quick to say “The Bible.” I can’t argue with that choice too much because The Bible is without a doubt my favorite book in the world. But, I would tend to agree with G.K. Chesterton when he responded to that question with: Thomas’ Guide to Practical Ship-Building.

Think about it. 🙂

My Social Networking Purge

socialmedia-addictionSo I took a month off of all social networking…and lived to blog about it.

It’s not uncommon for people to “fast” from particular things such as chocolate, coffee, and carbs. I’ve been known to do that off and on.  I’ve also fasted from Facebook a few times. But since the advent of Twitter, Path, Foursquare and Instagram, I had yet to purge my system of ALL forms of social networking at once.

So that’s what I did in August. Now by no means does that make me a saint or superhuman, lest you be wondering “John, how in the name of all that’s good and right did you possibly abstain from all forms of social networking? How did you manage?  Was communication with the rest of the human race somehow truncated?” These are wonderful and jest-filled questions, because I know of no one that has DIED due to lack of internet-ready networking apps.

But I nearly did.

At least it felt that way.

It’s kinda sick how disconnected I felt just days into my 31-day fast. A buddy of mine declared that I wouldn’t make it the whole month, and he was nearly right. I wanted to check. I just had to see what people were saying. Who was thinking about me? Was a tagged in a photo?  Is anyone quoting rich and profound thoughts from my weekend sermons?  Someone has to capture an Instagram of me and my new bro-tank shirt!  Not to mention: who else “checked in” at the State Fair and are they going to the REO Speedwagon concert?  I gotta see a Vine Video of that epic 80’s band!

When you really get down to it: pride rears it’s ugly head. That’s not to say that social networking is ALL about pride and ego. There are certainly wonderful and redeeming aspects. Connections are made. Information is shared. Prayer and praise are facilitated. All good stuff.

But the dark side of social networking is excessive vanity.  It can quickly become about ME (insert SELFIE photo here). That, of course, is a pretty unbecoming characteristic of a Jesus-follower. Author Brett McCracken says “social media like Facebook and Twitter reinforces our sense of self-importance, urging us to say whatever is on our minds because some audience, somewhere, really wants to know.”

And yet, Philippians 2:4 challenges us to “look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Easier said than done, I know.

So moving forward in my social networking venture, I’ve developed a few personal guidelines that, if properly interspersed, will help me not make it all about ME.

1. Ask questions. Lots of them.

2. Quote smarter people than myself (which gives me a bunch of folks to draw from).

3. Be a resource of helpful thoughts, ideas, books, etc that benefit those that follow me online.

 

On another note regarding social networking: some people have asked me what apps and systems I utilize. Here are my personal thoughts on the matter. I try to create systems and use apps that serve and conserve. What will serve me and my ministry as well as conserve time and energy? To that end, I do the following:

• I use Instagram as my social hub. I will often take a picture of something and it automatically posts to Twitter and Facebook for me.

• I try to stay off Facebook as much as humanly possible. It’s a jungle out there. Recently, I switched to a “Public Figure” Facebook page, which gives me a few specialized options like turning off messaging, and it doesn’t give me access to other people’s timelines. And also, sadly, I discovered last week on my birthday that others couldn’t see the day of my birth nor post their well-wishes on my timeline. That was a tough pill to swallow. At the end of the day I peeked at FB to discover only a few messages from close friends. Ouch. It felt like my birthday got cancelled this year!  Anyway…even though this feature removes me somewhat from the “Facebook Flow,” the time-saving benefit is great.

• I will often post to Twitter from sites like Zite (personalized news magazine) and YouVersion (Bible reading). I then try to stay off my Twitter feed because it’s mind-numbing. The thousands of posts with 140 characters and links start to blur together and my eyes gloss over when scrolling my feed. So, by and large, I’m trying to stay off of it, except for the posts of a few trusted people and sites that I know can keep me current on news and events.

Instagram is frankly my kryptonite. My thumb goes to my iPhone app like Pavlov’s dogs. Thankfully I don’t follow a ton of people. And if you post trash, too many selfies, or more than five pictures in five minutes of your “smoking hot wife” then I stop following you!

• I check in on the Foursquare app periodically, but haven’t found it to be a very vibrant community. Google+ and LinkedIN bug me (sorry). Path is of interest, but I’ve not spent much time there. Vine and SnapChat don’t grab me at all. I think they are novelty and, bottom line, sin portals.

On that note: every social networking tool can be used for good or evil. I know that sounds very Obi Wan Kenobi of me, but it’s true.  I encourage you to choose good. Run from evil.

Happy Networking!

 

Ride On…Q&A with Joseph Fehlen (Part 2)

josephfehlen-cover-thmbJoe is my brother (and he’s not heavy). Recently I had a Q&A with my brother about his book “Ride On: A Motorcycle Journey to Awake your Soul and  Rediscover it’s Maker.” It’s available on Amazon: As well, you can purchase his book at his blog (www.agrowingfamily.com), or at West Salem Foursquare Church on the weekend of July 6/7.

 

This is part 2 of a Q&A with Joe.  Enjoy.

 

JOHN:   I feel in Ride On you left me with a cliffhanger. I was wondering if you would ever come back? Are you working on a sequel? 

 

JOSEPH: Yes, I do come home but I just take the long way! I got ideas in the works for two other books. One called, Rebuild: When your life and your bike seem beyond repair.  I am rebuilding a 1974 Honda CB360 that was my father in law’s bike back in the 70’s. He sold it in the early 80’s and two winters ago we found it buried in several feet of pine needles and with a five-foot pine tree growing up through the frame.

It is now in my garage and we are trying to get it restored…but I don’t know what I am doing. Which makes a great premise for a book. I got some ideas for a third one but don’t want to get too far ahead of myself because I am currently writing one about hunting.

 

JOHN: Hunting book? You don’t know anything about hunting.

 

JOSEPH: Yes, that’s correct. Another hobby I took up in earnest in my late 30’s and I am fumbling through it.  I am tracking along and hope to have it ready to go to the editor early 2014. My working title is, Nine Arrows: A Hunters life of patience, practice, perseverance and utter failure.  It has been really fun to write and I hope it will be an encouragement to others that are thinking about quitting.

 

JOHN: Wow that is great… One last question.  Many in my church make fun of me for riding a Vespa. When you come out here would you ride with me on a Vespa to let them know they are cool also? 

 

JOSEPH: I almost purchased a scooter instead of the motorcycle and have a chapter about that dilemma. Because my motorcycle is not huge, and not a Harley, I have a lot of love for any two wheeled vehicle. All of what I talk about in Ride On is applicable to scooter riders as well as those that peddle around on two wheels. So, yes, I would be proud to ride with you on a scooter.

I will, however, not wave to you when I am on a motorcycle and you pass me on your scooter. That is reserved for those on real motorcycles.

 

Ride On…Q&A with Joseph Fehlen (Part 1)

josephfehlen-cover-thmbI have one brother.

I call him Joe.

But now that he’s kind of a big deal author, he likes to be called “Joseph.”

I refuse.

Joe currently is the associate pastor at Grace Foursquare Church in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

Recently Joe wrote a book called “Ride On: A Motorcycle Journey to Awake your Soul and  Rediscover it’s Maker.” It’s available on Amazon: As well, you can purchase his book at his blog (www.agrowingfamily.com), or at West Salem Foursquare Church on the weekend of July 6/7.

 

I want to introduce you to Joe and his writings through this two-part Q&A. Enjoy…

 

JOHN:  As your brother, I know that you know nothing about mechanical things and you are not a gear head. What inspired you to write a book about motorcycles?

 

JOSEPH:  Yes, you are so true. The first thing you need to know is that Ride On is not a handbook on motorcycles maintenance, a travel book or an ‘I survived the Hell’s Angels’ memoir (I can neither confirm nor deny that I was a mole in a hard core gang). There are great reads out there on those topics.

Ride On is my story, which I tried to write in a fairly whimsical manner, yet straightforward story-telling mode, that explores my entrance into the motorcycle community and what I learned about life, faith and things that really matter. I was new to the community, in my mid thirties, and my eyes were aware of things that many may had forgotten after years of riding. Many had forgotten how and why they began riding.

It was at that point that I started to make these links between Jesus and motorcycles. The motorcycle became my vehicle to share the person of Jesus to others and give them tools to share Him with their friends. There were so many links that seemed obvious to me, but as I communicated them verbally to others they seemed to miss them. I knew at that point that I needed to write this book.

It was the bikers that followed Jesus that inspired me to get this on paper and ultimately to this point of a published book. They were asking me to help them share their faith in a real way to a community of people that many had pushed aside. So I immersed myself into the world and community of motorcyclist and kept my spiritual ears up for truths that could help them in their faith walk.

 

JOHN: What is the main point about the Christian faith you hope people would get from Ride On?

 

JOSEPH: I wanted to reintroduce (or introduce) people to a person named Jesus that we read about in the Bible. The problem is that for 2000 years we’ve added so much to Him and what He is about. I want to strip it back to the simplicity of who he is, what he did and what he said. Jesus is not some unattainable philosophy or a person that we have to completely figure out before we accept Him. He walked this earth telling people about His father and what life in this world is and should be like. He spoke in stories that had both practical and spiritual implications. So everyone that heard got something that could help them… and that is what I tried to do in Ride On.

You will notice in my writing I don’t have any direct quotes or indented scripture references. When I reference Jesus, He is just a continuation of the story I am telling. He is part of my story and I think He can be part of other’s stories as well. I endeavored to share about Him in a natural way because most people, when talking to their friends, don’t recite Scripture. No, we just tell the story of what Jesus did and what He is doing in our lives today. [I do have endnotes if people want to look further into what I am saying.]

So I guess the main point is… Jesus. Not religion, not rules, not your grandma’s church, but Jesus. He is the one wire we need to hook into to get our life on (or back on) track.

 

Be watching for Part 2 of this Q&A coming soon.

Jesus Did It. Shouldn’t We?

Solitay confinement“At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place…” Luke 4:42

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” Luke 6:12

Jesus knew how to take timely breaks to replenish his soul. He was the master at balance. He purposefully took time off, not based upon the calendar but for the condition of his soul.

From the above passages in the Book of Luke I see a pattern of health for the Christian believer.

Withdraw…in Preparation for…in the Process of…and Prior to!

First, notice the context in which Jesus withdrew in preparation for ministry to people (Luke 4:42).  This happened to be a time when his popularity was growing and his name was catching on. People wanted to be around Jesus – therefore he knew the value of first being with his Father.

Secondly, see how Jesus got away in the process of intense ministry (Luke 5:16).  Crowds, sick people, and draining ministry situations are all reasons to step back and quietly connect with God.  What are the pressing issues that you are facing right now?  Before going any further – go be with God! It will make all the difference.

Lastly:  Jesus took extra time with his Father prior to making a large decision (Luke 6:12).  Before he chose the twelve disciples he went away for an extended time to get the “mind of God” on that significant issue.  He ended up spending the entire night in prayer.  Do you have a large decision to make?  If so, follow the model of Jesus by getting away to pray prior to making that decision.

I encourage you to take some time to carve out a solitary place with the Lord.  It is a great way to prepare you for a season of ministry or hard work to come in the future. If you’ve been in the middle of a trying time, then perhaps a time away to pray and be refreshed is in order. Or maybe you have a large decision that needs to be made and you need wisdom from the Lord…find a solitary place to get his heart for your next steps.

Jesus did it. Shouldn’t we?

Because You Asked: Best Books

Whenever I meet up with lead pastors, planters, youth ministers, and other Christians the topic of “What are ya reading?” comes up. I then go into my deer-in-a-head-lights look because I have a horrible memory.  It’s not that I DON’T READ.  Far from it.

I read like a freak.

If I only read one book a year or even one a month, I might not have such a tough time remembering, but I’m always wading through piles of books. Here are some of the ones that have made it to the top of the pile. Some are newer, others are older. I encourage you to buy, borrow, download or whatever (don’t steal though).  Somehow, get these goodies in you.

Like I tell my kids all the time:  Leaders are Readers.

 

Messy: God Likes It That Way by AJ Swoboda

Anchoredman by Jason Graves

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Other’s Die by Chip & Dan Heath

Practice Resurrection by Eugene H. Peterson

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees) by Patrick Lencioni

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal about Spiritual Growth by Greg L. Hawkins and Cally Parkinson

Deliberate Simplicity: How the Church Does More by Doing Less by Dave Browning

Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page by Larry Osborne

Who Stole My Church: What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century by Gordon MacDonald

It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It by Craig Groeschel

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition and the Desire to Influence the World by Hugh Hewitt

Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership by Steven Sample

The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene H. Peterson

Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion by Wayne Corderio

Making a Meal of It: Rethinking the Theology of the Lord’s Supper by Ben Witherington III

The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In by Jim Collins

Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson

Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald

Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus by Kyle Idleman

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard

What We’ve Learned from Eileen Fehlen

Since the sudden passing of my mom, Eileen Fehlen, I and the rest of my family have received literally thousands of messages, calls, notes and…the most prevalent of all…Facebook messages! We love Facebook.

Each message and memory posted has been special, but there was one that really captured the essence of my Mom. If you knew her then you’d probably agree with this list. If you didn’t then it’s a great glimpse of a great gal. The following was on Mom’s Facebook page from a wonderful woman named Molly Holknecht, who is a leader at Stanwood Foursquare Church.

Here it is:

• Everyone needs Jesus

• Pie and prayer restore body and soul

• When you see a need, find someone to meet that need

• Meatloaf can be edible

• It’s OK to come to worship with pink hair and a leather jacket

• When in doubt, call everyone “Honey”

• Expect the unexpected, then watch God work

• Hugs are always appropriate

• Love never fails

• Buy yourself a red, Mustang convertible for your birthday

• If you have leftovers and a package of noodles, you have dinner

• The garage is the perfect place to butcher a deer

• We were created in a garden, so plant, grow, harvest and eat

• The Good Samaritan is not a myth or theory, but something to be lived out

Good Flight, Huh?

On an Alaska Airlines hopper flight from Seattle to Kalispell, Montana I sat next to a kind, older gentleman. We introduced ourselves quickly and I found him to be a downright pleasant man. When the refreshment cart came to us he asked the attendant how long the flight would be roughly. She answered him, he pondered for a moment and then said, “Thanks. That’ll work…I guess I’ll have the complimentary beer then.” He didn’t want to be tipsy when he got home.

It made me chuckle.

He then asked me what my “e-lec-tronic thing” was. I explained that it was an iPad made by Apple. I think he was impressed…or, frankly, couldn’t have cared less. Not sure.

Then came the moment to settle in with a movie and my drink (no, not the beer…I’m a Ginger Ale man on flights). What followed was my universally understood (so I thought) indicator that I was not “open for business”; that I wanted to sit quietly and privately (as private as one can be in a cattle car)!

That indicator was the insertion of my earbuds.

I tried to drown out the engines roar and various conversations around me with my headphones. I wasn’t up for chit-chat, but my seat-mate didn’t get that memo. He would periodically ask me a question or make a general comment. I could have ignored him, but I chose not to. He was too nice of a guy. So I would pull out the earbuds, ask him to repeat himself, and then we would chat for a bit.

Rinse and Repeat. This went on for a few rounds until he wore himself out and fell asleep.

I was glad to see him dose off, until…

…he extended his right leg fully over the invisible barrier of my foot space.  I thought, “Hmmm, yep, that’s his blue jean covered leg touching mine; pressing me right out into the isle. I’m gonna loose a toe from a passing cart.”

I gave the leg a slight nudge with my knee but it didn’t budge. He was tired and so friendly, so I let it slide for the remainder of the flight. It wasn’t until we had landed that the leg wiggled it’s way back into its own territory with a stretch, a yawn, and a “Good flight, huh?”

Yep. Good indeed. 

As I reflect now, God was lovingly reminding me to be open to interruptions and encroachments upon my time and personal space. Ministry often happens in these simple moments. Joy is to be discovered in the mundane. Life is waiting to be exchanged in common and generic situations.

“Good flight, huh?” Yes, it was.

I learned to be more patient somewhere over Boise, Idaho, and by the time the wheels skidded into Kalispell, I wished I had been even more open and available to my flying partner.

Pretty sure I would have been the better man for it.