NOSTALGIA?

For the past several years while on road trips and listening to oldies but goodies on the radio, the music has taken me back to my time in high school. Up until recently I would tell my wife the songs made me melancholy, but I don’t think that is the best word to describe my feelings. Last week I watched a video on Facebook posted by a guy I went to high school with of Simon and Garfunkel singing “The Sounds of Silence” and commented on the post: “listening to this takes me back and impacts me in ways I don’t fully understand.”

As I reflected on my comment, I wondered if nostalgic was a better word to describe my feelings. I looked the word up and the dictionary definition of nostalgia gets close to describing what listening to the music instills in me: “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” While I do not have a “sentimental longing” to return, I do have a “wistful affection” for my years of high school and college as well as “happy personal associations.” As happy and excited as I was to graduate from high and college, I clearly remember those were not the only feelings I had the night I graduated from high school and the day I graduated from college.

So much was going on not only in my life, but in our nation and the world during those eight years from 1965-1973. I’m sure readers who experienced those years remember the seismic changes, the progress, the unrest, and the tragedies. There certainly was a mixture of “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” I would guess those who are younger have heard reports and stories about what were tumultuous years.

As I write this post I am back in Cincinnati where I grew up and lived until 1975. This afternoon I drove back to my hometown, through the neighborhood in which I grew up, past where my high school used to be, and by a variety of other places. I had dinner with a high school friend I haven’t seen in 48 years. Tomorrow I’m having lunch with two long time friends from my youth ministry while I was in college. I am not feeling melancholic, but I do have a lot of wistful affection.

Even though it can be cruel at times, memory is a precious gift. It’s not just the music of my high school and college years that make me nostalgic, but lots of other things as well that remind of the life I have lived to this point. I am grateful as I look back, and optimistic as I look forward. And I am reminded of the truth of three trite phrases I have often heard and repeated myself: “things will never be the same,” “we can’t go back,” and “life goes on.” But that does not mean we cannot remember the past with wishful affection.

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photo credit: Steve.Bernacki <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/50194260@N00/3856900987″>Simon & G-funk</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

LOOKING BACK – TWO YEARS LATER

This week marks the second anniversary of my stepping down after 30 years as the founding and senior pastor of Discovery Christian Church. The last two years have been interesting and challenging; and I thought it would be good for me, and hopefully interesting to you, to share some of the things I have learned.

It’s not the same for everyone, but change is hard for me.

Being the pastor of a local church has been one of the greatest blessings of my life.

I love to preach and teach the Bible.

There is a lot about being a pastor that I miss; and also a few things I don’t miss. In some respects guest preaching is the best of both.

When you have been preaching for 40 years at first it is hard to sit and listen; but with time it gets easier and becomes to you what you hope your preaching was and is to others.

Churches, pastors, and people are different—and that’s a good thing. No one should insist that people, pastors, or churches all be the same.

Teaching at the university level is not as easy as it may appear; teaching is great privilege, but grading papers and tests is tedious.

Some university students don’t really care to learn, some want to learn, and some care too much about their grades.

Some friendships endure, some fade over time.

Even after all these years I am not finished learning the Bible or growing as a Christian.

Some sins are really persistent.

The respect that comes to a pastor/professor from so many is gratifying but also humbling—and I’m not saying that just to sound good.

Getting older is not as bad as some people suggest; but neither is it a piece of cake.

I love to play golf (even though I’m not very good).

Writing books is difficult but fulfilling; selling them is not one of my favorite things to do.

Posting a weekly blog is a good discipline that does a lot more for the writer than the readers.

Speaking of discipline, healthy eating and regularly exercising—as a diabetic—is a real challenge.

It’s a lot better for others and yourself to be patient, kind, pleasant, and understanding. Why be a complainer, a grouch, or a critic?

Being easily angered is nothing to be proud of—look it up in the book of Proverbs.

I am pleased with and proud of my two children—Audrey and Rob.

I love being a father; but being a grandfather is also wonderful.

I have made many mistakes as a pastor, husband, and father; unfortunately, I can’t do any of it over.

My wife Jan is the most generous, selfless, and loving person I know or have ever known.

Looking back, I’m confident the timing as well as the process we followed in my stepping down after 30 years as pastor of Discovery Christian Church was right.

To conclude on a seasonal note, 15 m & m’s are not even half of what ought to be in any packets we pass out for Halloween!

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Photo courtesy of Jan.

SURELY BEEN GOOD TO ME!

When I went to bed earlier tonight I took a moment to thank God for the opportunity, privilege, and challenge to preach this morning at Westwood Hills Christian Church. I hope it is obvious why I call it an opportunity and privilege, but the challenge aspect was that it was a totally new message/sermon from an assigned chapter in the New Testament: I Corinthians 6.

As I lay in bed thinking about God’s blessings I began to reflect on my life going back to my childhood, years in high school, time in college, and beyond. I thought of friends with whom I had so many experiences and so much fun, of adults (parents, teachers, elders, preachers, youth ministers, and professors) who had such an impact upon me, and the wonderful people in the four churches I served over the course of 44 years God brought into my life who loved me and whom I loved.

There is also the blessing of my wife, Jan, to whom I have been married 42 years; our daughter, Audrey, and son Rob; and our two grandsons, Bobby and Ryan.

For some reason a song we sang in my youth group when I was in high school came to mind that I could not get out of my head. I got up and went to my computer to see if I could find the lyrics and had no trouble at all finding the song. Here are words of the chorus with the words as I remember how we sang it:

Singing Lord, Lord, Lord; surely been good to me,

Singing Lord, Lord, Lord; surely been good to me,

Singing Lord, Lord, Lord; surely been good to me,

That is something the world couldn’t do!

Do you ever have times like this? If you do I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a reply below or send me an email at bobmmink.com. Feel free also to share this post on social media. Now I’m going back to bed.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/24566159@N00/2451480923″>Thank You Note Letterpress</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;