Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Salutations Emmaus







Troy Dorstewitz


Monday, April 30, 2018

Salutations Emmaus


Troy Dorstewitz

Monday, December 11, 2017

hi Emmaus



Sunday, March 27, 2016

He did it for ME !!

"Yet, Your will be done.  Not mine."

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year !!

So we begin a new year without the Kalamazoo Community.  That part is sad.  However, we also begin a new year with something very, very special - the love of Christ.  Whether we have organizations created by men and women to learn and to serve Him or not, we still have Him and always will.

Many of us will make a New Year's Resolution.  Lose weight, get healthy, quit smoking, work harder, get better organized, and so on.  Most of us will break those resolutions, if not already, within the next few days or certainly within a few weeks.

May I make a suggestion?  Let's each of us resolve to be a better neighbor,  Let's each of us decide to reflect the love of Christ to those we meet and actually BE a neighbor to everyone we meet.  It's a choice, you know.  Like those passing by the the traveler that Luke tells us about, we can choose to walk on by on the other side.  Or, we can choose to be the good neighbor and stop to help.

Wouldn't this world be a better place if there were more good Samaritans?  Isn't that what Christ wants us to be?  Isn't that what our Walk to Emmaus prepared us to be?

You decide.  You may be the only one who knows the choice you made, but you WILL know.

Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous and LOVING New Year !!

John Cleveland
Buchanan, Spring 2008
Table of Peter

Monday, October 5, 2015

Last Chance to Save the Horse

An open letter from our Community Lay Director:

Hello to all of my brothers and sisters of Kalamazoo Area Emmaus.

I missed you all at the last community Gathering in Martin. We were small in size, but big in the spirit. The Kalamazoo Emmaus board also had a meeting earlier in the afternoon and have come to an agreement. We have been running a board with less than the number required by The Upper Room. We have also been without a Spiritual Director for almost a year. The board members we have are having a hard year themselves and not making it to the meetings, which leaves us without enough members there to make decisions. Without a spiritual leader and full board, we will not be able to continue being the Kalamazoo Area Emmaus any longer. The Board and prior Spiritual Director have been diligent in efforts to seek a Spiritual Director over the past year.

We have elections coming up for the 2016 year. The term would be for 2016-2018. We are in need of 9 board members and one Spiritual Director. All positions must be filled! The whole community needs to attend to vote for nominations brought to the board on November 21 at 11:00am at Martin United Methodist Church. The board will be meeting again on October 31 to check our progress and see what direction we are headed for.

So this is it gang, I am coming to you for help. This is your community and if you want to keep it, it’s up to all of you. The requirements are: 3-year term of office and ability to attend ALL board meetings (6 per year), active in a 4th day group, and have worked in the conference room and auxiliary several times.

This has not been an easy decision to make. Many tears and sleepless nights have been given to this prayer and it truly pains me to have to write this message.

If you are being called to take this on, please contact me at rbluenun2@yahoo.com or call me at (269)357-4904. Feel free to talk to other board members as well. Find their contact info at KalamazooEmmaus.org.

It takes a community to grow a community, and it takes a live community to keep it going.

Rae Williams
Community Lay Director

Time to get some skin in the game, otherwise we can all go home.  Remember what you said when you received your cross on Sunday afternoon when the words "Christ is counting on you"?  I believe they were something to the effect of "And I'm counting on Christ."  I pray the Lord has been faithful to you.

GLYASDI  ~ Rocky

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Worth Repeating

Did I ever tell you the story about the time I was up 230 feet of a 300 foot tower in Ethiopia?  How about the time when I was in a rock band while stationed in Southern Spain and we lost one of our PA speakers on my last gig with them? Or how about the time my ship, USS Caloosahatchee (AO-98) stopped off the coast of Florida for a swim-call and I dove off the side, 30 foot, and almost knocked myself out? Or how about the time I was saddled up with a co-worker in Spain and after three and a half months I surrendered my life to Christ?

If you’re alive, you have a story.  And that story is made up of chapters and passages of time, some decades long, and some just mere moments in time. This thought was prompted by my niece who recently was grieving for her grandfather that had lost a battle with cancer.  She posted a request on Face Book for people to remember stories of Thomas R. Sr., her “Papa.”  Many people left short one or two sentence remembrances of their interaction with Tom through the years.

Just as Pastor “Bob” reminded us on Easter Sunday, “some stories are worth repeating.”  We need to keep them fresh in our minds; the story of God, especially in the life of Jesus, when He walked among us.

Usually when I’ve read a book, and remember how it ends, I have no desire to re-read it.  I mean what’s the point? The suspense of the main characters is missing when you know how it ends.  But there are some books in the Bible that I’ve read numerous times.  I know how they end, but something else happens while re-reading them, new material is revealed to me that I don’t remember being there the first time I read through it, or the second, third and so forth. It’s almost like the author, God, said “You weren’t ready for it the first time. Now you are. Chew on that for a while and then come back for more.”

It’s these nuggets of Jesus’ (or Paul, Peter, James…) life that add to my understanding of the nature of God, especially when someone is trying to make their point of using scripture as a basis for their actions. There have been many times where Hollywood or someone just didn’t seem to read or understand the same story like I remembered it.  That’s why it’s good to know the stories well enough to see an “out of context” statement when you see or hear it.  Another reason I like to know this, is “How would you know what Jesus would do, if you don’t know what Jesus did?”

As the man said “Some stories are worth repeating.”  Never let the story of Christ grow old, keep it fresh in your mind, heart and soul, it’s a story worth repeating and knowing.  It will help you with your own story.

God Loves You and So Do I ~ Rocky Starland

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Learning Through Study

It’s amazing what a little study can do.  Imagine that, some growth, where have you heard that before? Oh yeah, the first talk on Saturday morning on the Walk to Emmaus!

 I don’t remember why I picked 2nd Corinthians to dive into, but I purchased a commentary on the book that works with my iPad.  Digital reading has so many options these days! But to get back on track, Paul is talking to the church people in Corinth about one of their members that was shooting off about something he shouldn’t have to the point where they threw him out of their fellowship.  Tough love. 

It must have been enough to cause him to see the errors of his ways, because Paul heard that he was sorrowful and wanting to repent.  But there were some members of the congregation holding on tightly to banishment, not wanting to forget let alone forgive. 

Paul writes to them, instructing them to reach out and "reaffirm your love for him", bring him back in to the fold.  And one of the words, love, is “agap” or as we know it agape.  He’s what John MacArthur say’s about the subject that made me think of the Emmaus weekends:

"Agap? (love) is the love of choice, of will, of humble service to others. It is the love not of sentimental feelings but of action (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4- 7). Love is essential in the life of the church. On the night before His death Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34- 35). Paul commanded the Ephesians, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph. 5:1- 2)." ~ Pastor John MacArthur ~ New Testament Commentary ~ 2 Corinthians

Many times when people are asked what they remember most about the weekend, the answer comes back as the “over whelming feeling of love.”  Even the inexpensive little pillow and table gifts from around the community.  Come on! How can a stone with a bible verse touch someone?  I don’t know but it has and does on the weekend. 
Maybe it’s the conditioning of the mind from all the talks and bonding with those at the table, or just maybe the Holy Spirit is allowed to move in our lives for those few hours because we allow ourselves to be open to the Spirit?  But whatever it is, it works, even for those short 72 hours called the Walk to Emmaus.

God Loves You And So Do I ~ Rocky

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Like Yeast...

I must confess that until this previous weekend (Men's), I was really depressed with our community and not wanting to continue with fellowshipping.  It just seem like nobody wanted to do anything.  Gatherings were sparsely attended, phone messages left, never were returned.  I admit that it made me feel like… people didn’t like me, I’m sure you know the feeling when that happens. 
You start asking yourself questions like, “Maybe, I’m too pushy?” or “They don’t like the sound of my voice”, well the list goes on and our imaginations run wild.  But if we let it, it will take us to a place that God doesn’t want us to go.
We need each other.  It was good to see so many attend the Saturday evening service to pray for our pilgrims.  Yes, I said OUR pilgrims. We, Kalamazoo Area Emmaus, host the weekends, and when that happens, when those pilgrims enter through those doors on Thursday evening, they become our pilgrims, our responsibility to care for, to pray for, to clean up after, to feed and run errands for.  And when that doesn’t happen, when we have to cancel walks because we don’t have enough pilgrims, that’s when some of us get discouraged, even to the point that we “take our bat and ball home and don’t want to play anymore.”
But when a walk does take place and you participate and see and hear the effect of the Spirit of God on those pilgrims, you get renewed yourself and you too are blessed.  What a wonderful feeling, what a wonderful blessing.  Don’t miss out, don’t be discouraged.  A little involvement goes a long way.
God Loves You and So Do I ~ Rocky

Thursday, October 9, 2014

True Freedom

Isn’t it amazing how God sometimes causes an item to pop up repeatedly to get a point across?  It seems to happen so often in my life.  An example of that is from this very morning. 

As I usually do, I started my day by reading the emailed version of The Upper Room.  It dealt with “doing the right thing” in a situation where someone needed a little help.  I then went to the Emmaus web site’s blog area. 

There are two things I look forward to in the blog area.  First, there is usually something in there from Rocky (although it hasn’t changed in a bit) and there is also a verse from the Bible.  This morning, the Bible verse was from the Gospel of John, chapter 8, verse 32: 

            Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 

Now, you may not catch the connection right off between these two items.  It’s a matter of how you define “freedom.”

Too often in today’s world, being free means having the ability to do whatever you darn well please.  That goes from the “freedom” to sleep in on Sunday morning instead of getting up for Church, to the “freedom” to ignore the plight of your neighbor who is in some sort of distress.

Jesus told us that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  So, if He is the truth, and you know the truth, and the truth shall make you free, how does that jibe with some people’s definition of “freedom” noted just above.

It seems to me the freedom that comes from knowing the truth - from knowing Christ - is the freedom to “do the right thing.”  It is freedom from sin. True freedom must be the freedom to choose the right path, to "do the right thing," to do what you already know in heart is what Jesus would have you do.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Chocolate Bunnies

When I was a child, I knew that spring was close when we "got the ashes" on the forehead. I also knew that Easter was close too; that meant colored eggs, chocolate Robin eggs and the large solid chocolate bunny and assorted colors of jelly beans in a basket full of green plastic grass. The biggest chore was finding it Easter morning.

It wasn't until I got older that I started to understand about the "ashes" thing and the forty days before Easter Sunday. Getting older and knowing more about the forty days also meant that we had to "give up" something that we liked, usually trips to the candy store.  I would look forward to that Easter Sunday morning when I knew I'd have a basket FULL of candy. It would be gone within a week and then everything would be back to normal.

It's been a frustrating year being back on the board and trying to figure out how get the community back in to a joyful reunion type of atmosphere, without seeing little results. Frankly I was a breath away from just sending in my written resignation.  It was only from my daily Bible reading that kept me in the game. I felt that I was failing in leading the community.  With two (fall and spring) cancelled weekend events, I'd hit the bottom. It was only having Rae Williams, with support from Dennis, coming back on as the community lay director that kept me in the game; hope in her leadership and her faith.

There was a small storm of people "suggesting" what we should do when we canceled the spring walks.  This is a pain in the side of the board, since the board goes over all the details that are involved; picking possible dates, looking at calendars and checking with the church's schedule. Once things get rolling, it takes almost a hundred people to support a walk and that's not including sponsors and pilgrims checking their calendars and arranging for time off work, etc.  We don't just decide to have a party and send out invitations two weeks in advance. It takes months of planning and preparations. We had a team for the conference room, we had an auxiliary team lined up, we had a kitchen team lined up and we had the facility reserved.  What we didn't have were the minimum required number of pilgrims to be registered two weeks prior to "the walk"; this is responsibility of the community.

Just as I, as a child, didn't see that the forty days of Lent was a time of preparation before Easter, I believe we as a community are only looking at the “Easter morning” of the Emmaus experience. We have 6 months between walks, so why do we wait until the last few weeks to line up pilgrims? Many people in the community no longer want to be part of a team; conference room, auxiliary or kitchen, feeling that the weekend will be canceled. They have given up hope, lost faith in the response of the community. The same goes for sponsors, they too seemed to have given up hope.  Why put in the time and effort?

When we get our cross at the end of "our weekend", do you remember what you said when you were told "Christ is counting on you”?

The fall walk will be slated for October; you will have April, May, June, July and August to pray for and approach a potential pilgrims. Don't put it off, don't say there is plenty of time. The current board will stick with the guide lines set by the Upper Room Walk to Emmaus.  I pray that we don't have a line item on the board meeting agenda for November titled: Community Dissolvent Actions

I pray that we think and pray long and hard on this during this per-Easter season.

GLYASDI - Rocky Starland

Friday, February 21, 2014

Today, in the Here and Now

Transcendence     extending or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience; being beyond comprehension

I’ve been reading a book, “The Bible Handbook of Difficult Verses” by Josh and Sean McDowell.  One of the things that was brought to light, was that in order to help us understand scripture, we need to understand what the specific passages meant for those who first spoke them or wrote them down and what the passages to those who heard them or read them. We can understand the Bible better when we learn what was said, who said it, how it was said, where it was said, when it was said and why it was said. Now I know this might seem like a lot to look at, but you have to remember; at the time it wasn’t written or spoken to anyone in the good ol’ U.S. of A.  Yet as we read, it can transcend from the then to the now.  God’s ways are mighty indeed.

Well, that’s all fine and good, but what does this have to do with the Kalamazoo Area Emmaus community?  Well, the text and scripture that is covered on a weekend event hasn’t changed very much, yet it can still move our hearts and very soul in the same way it did 20 or 30 years ago when it was just starting, the Emmaus movement.  The technology of today is different, but the thoughts and yearnings of man are still the same.  Google doesn’t have all the answers, even though we might think so.  Yes, we have information at our finger tips, but do we have or take the time to weed though it all and ponder it?  What does it mean to me, in my life, right now?

The thing about God’s Word, is even though the material was written to a particular people in a specific region at a specific time, it can still be applied to people today, here in Southwest Michigan to affect people we know and care about.  That’s one of the unique characteristics designed in humans; we are all created to be in relationship with God and other humans on this planet.  This transcends time and space; therefore when God speaks to his people, he speaks to the WHOLE world.

The weekend event, The Walk to Emmaus, is designed to provide the people participating to clear out the clutter of distractions and lay out a flowing path about God’s grace and allow you to “ponder” what this means to me, here and now; in 2014.  It still applies today as it did when you attended your Walk to Emmaus, whether it was 5, 10, 15 or even 20 or more years ago.  The same recipe is designed to produce the same results, experience the grace of God.

God’s Word is old, but it still applies today.  The Walk to Emmaus has been around a long time too, but if given the chance it can still be a powerful tool in showing elements of the character of God, that some of us haven’t yet seen in our life time.  Share God and share the experience of God’s grace.

Monday, January 13, 2014

It's Janauary - Are You Warm?

There’s a story that I’ve seen a few times coming via the email traffic that I feel can be enhanced to fit our current community.  The story goes something like this: There was a faithful man who had just stopped coming to Sunday services.  The pastor asked different people that he knew the man was close to if he had gone on vacation or if they knew of anything that might prevent him from attending church.  None of his peers knew anything.  So after a few more weeks the pastor decided to “drop” in on him to see if he was okay.

The man greeted the pastor at the door and the pastor asked if everything was okay.  The man slowly started to voice his displeasure with different aspects of the church service and some issues with some of the people in leadership positions.  He said “I just decided I needed some time to pray about it and seek God’s will.”  The whole time the gentleman was voicing his views, the pastor just listened, sitting next to the fire place.  When the man seemed to be finished the pastor didn’t say a word. They looked at each other, the man expected the pastor to take a defensive view point, but he remained silent for a minute.  The pastor then reached over to the fireplace “tools” and can grabbed the tongs.  With them he grabbed a burning ember and pulled it aside.  Within a minute or so, its flame had extinguished and became smoldering coal.  The pastor looked back at the man and their eyes locked.  The man blinked and said “I get the message, I’ll be back this coming Sunday.”

It’s not word for word of the original story, but I hope I captured the essence of the message; “We need each other to keep our fire burning, even in spite of each other’s imperfections.”

Now if we took the analogy a little farther, suppose we moved all the flaming pieces apart from each other?  Our fire would slowly die out, and if the pieces were not moved back together the smoldering embers would soon turn cold not giving off any heat or light. 

If you ask any pastor about the effect that people who have participated in the Emmaus weekend have had in their church, for the most part they will tell you it has enhanced the life of the church.  That is the intent of the Emmaus weekend, to help us find our place in spreading the gospel message in our homes, community and the world, where ever we feel we are called.  An Emmaus weekend helps us to “listen” for that calling.

If we don’t keep feeding the fire, it will slowly dwindle, giving off little or no heat or light to south-west Michigan’s churches.  I know we have our own churches to work in, but if you had a training weekend for people in your church to attend, wouldn’t you like it to be local and affordable to send those people who fit the criteria?

The Woman’s spring walk is upon us in March (13-16), being held at Marshall United Methodist Church, right off I-94 (exit 110, south).  Sharon Iron’s is our Auxiliary Director; call her (616)450-0069.  I pray that she has to turn people away, no place to put them to sleep! 
If you have a man in mind, consider sending them to the Jackson Area Emmaus weekend event being held in February. 

The pilgrim application form is on our website (www.kalamazooemmaus.org/DATES-Spring.htm) Talk to those you know fit the profile, because Emmaus is not for everyone.  But if the person is looking to search deeper, or just needs a time from the distractions to refocus their journey with God, get them signed up.  Don’t let the fire burn out.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

11 X 11 = 121, 11 X 12 =132, 12 X 1 = 12 ....

I can still remember way back in 1960-1961. At the time my father worked third shift.  He’d come home around midnight and then the next morning get up and work on the ranch style house he was building for his family (5 children and a loving wife).  During this time, we lived in the concrete block house that would become the garage when the house was done. It took a couple of years from start to finish because he did most of the work himself with help from my uncles and us kids.  Of course we were assigned jobs like cleaning up the saw dust and pieces of cut wood, etc.  But every once and a while we were able to use the hammer with some nails on something (under close supervision).

I believe I was ending the fourth grade when I didn’t do very well in the math department, which at the time were multiplication tables.  Dad always pushed for us to do good in school since he wanted all his children to have better life than he felt he had; because everyone knew the only way to do that was have a better education.

During the summer months after dad and I would work on the house during the day, he’d knock off in time to allow us to go swimming at a local swimming hole next to I-75.  The swimming hole was courtesy of Michigan’s highway department digging dirt out for the four leaf clover over-passes for M-46 and I-75.  The hole filled with water from a natural spring and it was a nice 90 acre pond (or small lake depending on your point of view). 

We would take a two by twelve board that we’d use as a diving board; wedging it under the back tire of our 1959 Chevy station wagon and a rock that was near the edge of the water.  I’m not sure if I loved it because I learned to swim or I learned to dive with Dad’s help.  But it was good, especially after working on the house during those hot some days.

Now getting back to those math grades.  Dad put the law down, until I could say all my multiplication tables from memory up to 12, I couldn’t go swimming with him.  I was devastated.  He bought some flash cards and with mom’s help, for a couple of hours each day I would run the drills. “Two times four is eight. Two times five is ten.  Two times six is twelve….” All the way to twelve and back again, over and over.

One morning at breakfast he was looking at me and chuckling.  “You know, you were doing your times tables in your sleep last night.  That’s funny but good.”  Well, it seemed like an eternity, but after a couple of weeks I had them down pat, forwards and backwards.  I was allowed again to join him in going to our swimming hole!

Now what’s this got to do with Emmaus, you might ask?  Well, if you want something bad enough, if it really means something to you, you’ll dig in and do something about if it’s taken away.  It took time, effort and commitment, but I did it because I wanted it.  It was worth it.  I didn’t want to lose the time we had together.  It was fun and made me feel special. Looking back I know now that Dad loved me for the time we spent together and for the future he wanted for his children.

We need to do the same with our Emmaus community, take the time, make the effort or we’ll lose it.  Let’s get back in the water.


Rocky Starland

Monday, September 30, 2013

Are You Ready?

Are you ready?  “Ready for what?” you might ask.  My usual reply might be “Ready to meet Jesus?”  At which point I get one of those “What are talkin’ ‘bout?” looks.  To which I would reply, “Do you think you’ll live to see tomorrow or even this evening?  Do you have a crystal ball that tells you when your time on earth is done?”  I’ve noticed that some people shy away from me when I make this scenario part of an idle conversation.

But today, I’m talking about when you’re called to do something God wants you to; are you ready. These past few months we’ve been trying to make preparations for a couple of events.  We’ve been calling and asking for support in many ways.  We’ve left messages on home phone machines, placed info on FaceBook, even in the newsletter and even when we ran in to each other in and about town.

Some of the responses are, well, disappointment.  Messages left not to be called back, I’m sure we left the right number.  And we too have a machine to leave messages on when we’re not at home.  I’ve even checked out our email account and I’ve been assured that everything is working properly.  Even if the computer thought a reply message was spam, I manually look at each message before clearing the messages from the spam folder.  But something isn’t working like I thought it would work.  Maybe I should break out the instruction manual and do some more reading; always the last option right?  I think it’s a guy-thing.

When the response to something expected doesn’t come, especially when you have given yourself to God to do this work, you’d think that God is touching other people to, to do this work, because one or even just a few can’t do this task we’re being asked to do.  So you start thinking, “I’m doing my part, how about everyone else that you want involved, huh God? Is this some practical joke just to spin us up and cry out to you in prayer?  Or even worse, some might get so upset they just don’t want to “play” anymore?”

I’ve seen and felt this way many times in the recent past.  “This is a waste of time.  I have other things I could be doing with my time and resources.  I’ve had it, I’m done.”  But then my dear wife will calm me down and ask, “Have you been reading your Bible lately?  Sounds to me like your Bible intake is low.  You might want to get that checked out.”  I guess that’s why I refer to her as my help-mate sometimes.

So back to the original question, when God calls for something that will further His kingdom, “Are you ready?”  Or do you say, “Gosh, I’ve got some things going on right now.  Call me the next time you do this.”  Or “Bad timing, I just don’t have room on my plate for anything more.  Sorry.”  All valid replies, but if everyone is already doing “God’s Work” on something else, why are we being asked to do even more than we have time for?

“Okay God, now what, I’m waiting and I’m ready… now what?”


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Things Were Different Back Then

“Things were different back then.” Have you ever said this tied to a situation, a place you worked, to a school, or even your own household? I have, many times. And we think about that with times in history too, especially if we go way back; like in Jesus’ time.

I’ve just finished reading a book by Michael Pinto, “Lazarus, Come Forth.” Michael’s story is very creative and thought provoking. I’ve often wondered about some of the people that are mentioned in the Bible, “What happened to them after that?” The woman at the well; did she change her life around and become accepted by her community? And what about the people who were blind or had leprosy? Did they become Christ followers? There is more to one’s life than just a sentence or two mentioned in a snap shot of history, which is what the Bible is, a collection of moments in time.

I guess we could make similar statements today or the recent past of people who have experienced God’s grace on a Kalamazoo Area Emmaus weekend. “They were so on fire on Sunday afternoon, how come we don’t have a waiting list from the people they told about their journey?”

Our community is only as strong as it members are involved; whither by being a sponsor, a team member in the conference room, auxiliary, kitchen or being a board member. A few cannot do the job it takes to put on a weekend event… it takes over 100 people willing to give up time from their life to share the knowledge of the grace that God offers us.

I know “things were different” back when I took my walk; because someone took the time from their life to sponsor me and my wife. They took the time to call friends and family members to encourage them to write a letter of love, “Why they are special in our life.” I still have those letters after these past 20+ years. Some of those people are no longer with us, but I have a written record, a snap shot in time, that they loved me and I made a difference in their life. And on my weekend, by Sunday afternoon, I knew God loved me too.

What we do today, can make people say “Things were different back then.” You have the option to make a difference in someone’s life by reserving them a seat for the fall walks this autumn (which is right around the corner) on the shores of Lake Michigan… do it.

This is your opportunity to affect someone’s life, making a significant emotional event in their life story. Who knows, maybe you’ll have your name in a sentence or two in their book.

God Loves You and so do I ~ Rocky

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A War for the Soul

I can remember parts of growing up and catching glimpses of the six o’clock news. Whenever the story was about the war that was raging on in Vietnam, they showed the destruction, the people and bodies from the effects of “the conflict.” In fact, it was a little too much at times and any veteran from World War II or the Korean War could get a bad case of “flash backs” depending upon their combat experiences. Some things you just want to forget, hoping that it was all just a bad dream. The reports would keep score like some sporting event, with the number of casualties and killed in action.

Even now the news brings us stories of conflicts from around the world, Syria, Afghanistan, and other numerous skirmishes where someone is forcing their will on others. But the war you don’t hear about, around the world and right here in this country is the one that is breaking up homes, claiming people’s lives with all sorts of human degrading substances killing mind, body and soul one small piece at a time.

There is no actual battle to see on the evening TV news, only the effects of it. Paul writes about it - the battle for this world, against the “the evil one,” taking as many people as he can to spite God. If he can’t win because of Jesus, he’ll take as many as God’s precious humans as he can; using whatever tactics work.

The whole purpose of Emmaus is for training leaders, or solders for this “worldly war”, to train and fight the battles in their own homes and community, through their churches and for the people around them. You can call Kalamazoo Area Emmaus a training camp of sorts. It’s broken up in parts, letting the attendees know that God loves them, showing them that they have gifts they can use to tell others God cares for their lives, giving us hope from the burdens of this world and all its troubles. It also works by showing that we can’t fight this battle alone, learning that by working together we can have fellowship and assist each other when we become tired or at our wit’s end.

We don’t like to talk about war, especially if it affects us. Some have all but surrendered, because of various reasons; too busy, too old, the list goes on. But in the end our churches, communities and the people around us suffer. No hope for the hopeless, to seek relief from the troubles of lack of jobs, financial problems, marital problems, seek relief in the bottom of a bottle, or the effects of a pill not from the local pharmacy.

It may not seem like much, but knowing Christ does care, the creator of the universe, cares what happens in each and everyone’s lives, does give hope; hope beyond this world and in the one to come. That’s what the Walk to Emmaus is about. Just as the lonely walkers from Jerusalem were feeling all their hope had gone down the drain by the death of their Messiah, Jesus met them and shared the story from the scriptures of the hope yet to come. Let’s not let our eyes fall into a slumber to have the enemy claim more victims to steal that hope. It’s never too late to get back up and continue the race to the finish.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Developing You

What is the Mission of Emmaus? I’ll bet the answers are as wide and deep as Lake Michigan. But the official answer in a nut-shell is – To develop leaders for Christ.

How is this done? Well, hopefully it starts on the weekend; by expanding participants’ spiritual lives, deepening their discipleship and rekindling their gifts as Christian leaders in their churches and community.

And it’s more than just the weekend event, it is more about AFTER the weekend with participation in Group Reunions (4th Day Group) and community Gatherings, sponsorship, prayer, support of Walks and service on teams. With participation we can become leavening influences in our local churches. These acts spill over in to our lives and the people we interact with in our local churches.

Growth takes place; in our lives where we thought we’d never go. If you told me back in 1993 when I took my walk that someday, I’d be the community lay director, I would have told you that you’ve been out in the sun too long. But if you let God, He can help you along the way. It just doesn’t happen – like spoof! No, it’s a gradual process like making bread; mixing the necessary ingredients, kneading, setting aside to let things happen with time, baking and cooling… hmmm, I’m getting hungry! But I digress.

We’ve had several individuals go in to full time ministry after attending an Emmaus weekend. If you ask them, they will tell you it didn’t happen all at once, but it was a process where they heard God call them and they prayed long and hard before “letting go and letting God.” I’m hoping we can get some of them to come to a Gathering soon to give us an overview of how that happened to them; so be on the lookout for this.

Emmaus Weekends are more than just pouring out God’s grace on new pilgrims; it’s also about developing stronger disciples for Christ in the world. Those that are participating by sponsoring, working in the conference room, auxiliary, kitchen teams and the host of other activities that allow us to work together for remembering why we’re here but for a short time. We are to be and make disciples for Christ, with His help and others around us, because we can’t do it alone. Remember... Christ is counting on you.


Friday, April 5, 2013

KAE Going Off Grid

This has been quite a hectic time preparing for the spring walks… we have lists of people from way back… in fact we’ve even been embarrassed when we call and the person had passed from this life; to be called to an everlasting home. The people who have been making phone calls will tell me that “There are tons of numbers that are no longer in service.” I say, “Good, let me know what they are so I can delete them.” But even then I don’t get that feedback, so we go all through that with the next set of walks. And that can be so frustrating and discouraging for the people trying to put teams of volunteers together.

Then there is the comment at a gathering or a Saturday evening service, that “No one ever called me. I’d be happy to help if you let me know.” No wonder I’m losing my hair!

One of the most common components for a successful organization is “communicate, communicate, and communicate.” We attempt this with our web page (www.kalamazooemmaus.org), our newsletter (The Rainbow Connection), our blog site, and now we even have a KAE (Kalamazoo Area Emmaus) FaceBook page. But if you wait for a call and we don’t have a valid number, what can we do?

We’ve been very fortunate this spring with getting enough pilgrims to have a walk, but it’s been a struggle getting team members, conference room and auxiliary, due to “The number you have reached is no longer in service” messages. We’d hate to have to cancel a weekend event because we couldn’t provide enough volunteers to support the pilgrims. We need the whole package for a weekend; cooks, music people, auxiliary people, luggage carriers, communion stewards…

Please help us, please support us. If you've disconnected your land-line phone for a cell phone or changed your number in the past 5 years or so, please let us know (rcsjr50@i2k.com). We want you to be connected. Remember – “God is counting on you…” and so is the KAE community.

GLYASDI ~ Rocky Starland

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mountain Top

When you talk about a “mountain top” view or experience it is usually one of awesome recollection. Having served in the military in my younger years, I had the opportunity to travel to places that are far, far away from Michigan, I’ve seen and experienced many “mountain top” experiences; several of them actually being on a mountain.

The “view” is usually majestic, since you can see more landscape that usual than when you’re on flat ground. There is just something breath taking when you can look down and out 20-30 miles from a high position on the side of a mountain. The view gives you a different perspective of your surroundings of buildings, lakes, trees, towns, etc.

It doesn’t have to be a mountain top, it could be a plane ride, overlooking the ground below; before you ascend above the clouds. These are the views.

An “experience” is something other than our every day perception of things. It could come from the birth of a child, being with grand-children, loved ones, riding the roller coaster at your favorite amusement park or a beautiful summer sunset on the shores of Lake Michigan. These are noted with our feelings and well being.

No matter if it’s a feeling or a view, one thing that has taken place is “work” to experience it. By work I mean it just didn’t happen, someone, you and/or with assistance with someone else had to do something to make it happen. Time, money, effort; are the necessities that make a mountain top view or experience happen.

Many people have said that the Emmaus Weekend was a “mountain top” experience for them. I can relate. It helped us get a bigger “view” of life from where we usually viewed it and our place in the world. It also gave us hope that God does love us and wants the best for us. But for us to get there and experience it, the weekend, we and others had to put in some effort. Time, money and work were involved to make it happen; it just didn’t happen out of the clear blue.

Remember your experiences and help others have them and share it too.  Sponsor someone now.


Monday, February 18, 2013

What if...

What if…

I’ve counted the number of Reunion/Fourth Day groups that reside in our community, or at least the ones we have listed on our website. Did you know that if each group could sponsor one person/couple we could have almost 36 men and women for the spring walks! Can you imagine the dynamics of those table discussions?

There are people who like to live life in the “let’s wait and see” paradigm. In some cases this is good, like investing money in stocks and such, or if you’re in the trenches fighting with bullets flying over your head. But waiting to see if we will have enough people to have a weekend event before even asking someone if they’d like to attend is not one of these “wait and see” situations. We will have a walk and it can be a nice full walk, if people have a “do it now” attitude. The board has been making preparations, the men’s and women’s conference teams have been making preparations, the auxiliary directors have been making preparations; now is the time for the community of southwest Michigan to do the same.

So, what if… each reunion/Fourth Day group stepped out on faith and prayed for that one person or couple to sponsor from their church? What if… we have faith in God, who’s Spirit will guide us and go the distance. What if… we count on Christ because Christ is counting on us? Do you think He will let you down?


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Just One

There is a couple at my church who have been involved with children’s ministries before Sandi and I started going, and that’s been since October 2001. They have quite a testimonial, but I’ll save that for possibly another entry.

Andrea is not bashful in her goal year after year. In a nutshell her goal is: To move One child One step closer to the Kingdom. It’s simple, measurable. There’s no room for misinterpretation, at least in my reasoning. Everything she plans and does for gathering of children over the years revolves around her mission statement: Just One Step Closer.

I was thinking… what if we could do that very thing for the Kalamazoo Area Emmaus community, Just One… Just attend One Gathering, Just bring One Person, Just Pray for One person to attend a weekend, Just Sponsor One Pilgrim… The list can go on, it’s not like we’re asking you to sponsor all thirty-six pilgrims, Just One. And it’s not like we’re asking you to give up an entire Saturday for the Gathering, Just a couple of hours (Okay, that is more than Just One hour…but)

Sometimes we make things out to be bigger and harder than they really are. So let’s keep it simple, let’s try Just One… for Kingdom Building. Remember - You’re Counting on Christ and Christ is counting on You… so start counting with Just One.

GLYASDI ~ Rocky Starland

Monday, November 12, 2012

Feeling rather bummed and embarrassed and guilty and all those things one feels when he knows he should have done more.  My Pilgrim for the Women's Walk had to cancel due to health matters.  Too late to find another - and there are SO many men and women who would benefit from the Walk - but did I then volunteer to help in any way?  No.  Did I make it to the candle light service for either of the walks as I promised myself I would NEVER fail to do? No.  Did I sign up for the Prayer Vigil? No.

I suppose I can take solace in knowing that I did pray for God's presence in both walks and that the Pilgrims gained a deeper understanding of God's unfailing love for each of them.

Next time, I WILL do better.

Friday, August 17, 2012

John You're correct about Holland. I was talking to Charlie Outlaw and he said that they were having trouble getting Aux directors... Well, the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.... I've heard of a weekend being postponed because there weren't enough pilgrims but never heard of one being postponed because of not enough aux servants!?!? Pray for our community and get the word out... Time keeps moving even though we don't seem to be moving. GLYASDI Roc

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fall walks are in Holland at First UMC. -or so I'm told.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Use the blog??

Since no one seems to want to use the blog much any more, perhaps it could be used for community updates - such as the status of the upcoming walks??

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Family and friends - that's a given. Home and furnishings - that's a given. Bright sunshiny days - that's a given. Food on the table - that's a given. Pretty much everyone in this area will say thanks for those things.

God - He's the Giver of the given. I am so thankful for Him watching over me and providing all the "givens" of my life.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A sense of self-worth

I came to a realization today.

I no longer hear whispers in my ear saying things like: "You're worthless." "You're rude and overbearing." "You can't make a difference." Satan has given up on those; I have seen too much evidence that exposes those as lies. The love of Terri, my sons, my friends, the community, and Christ Himself have convinced me, imperfect as I am, that I am worthwhile.

But now a new whisper is happening. Fairly insistent lately. Built on the media parade of gloom about politics, money, and anger.

The new whisper is, "Wouldn't you be happier with Terri?"

Well, yes. Of course I would. But that leads to a conclusion and a realization.

First, the conclusion. While fleeing this world for Terri is so very attractive, hastening my death could very easily keep me from her for eternity. It would also cause immense pain to my sons and my friends. How selfish and stupid that would be! Therefore, I will love Terri AND this world by staying here and continuing my walk with Christ.

The realization? That my decision TICKS SATAN OFF. I have become an even higher-value target. Why else would the world expend any effort trying to change my mind?

So, I am going to practice smiling when I hear that whisper. It means that I am on the right track.

I wonder how many people I can love enough that they will become similar - or greater - threats to Satan? I don't know. I think I'll keep walking and see.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I left for work about 15 or 20 minutes early this morning. I worked the later shift today so it worked out just right. I pulled my little truck over to the curb and got out. I stood on the street corner and watched for them. It was raining slightly. Kinda chilly. I really didn't mind so much. Pretty soon came a few motorcycles being ridden by what appeared to be older veterans. Then a police car. Then he came by. I never knew the young man in the hearse, but I felt as though he was a part of me. I, and the lady next to me, stood there with our hands over our hearts as the rest of the funeral procession came by. Capt. Drew Russell, lost at such a young age.

My heart was a bit heavier. It was a scene I was a bit familiar with as I had lost a nephew not so long ago and was part of the same kind of procession. Standing there in the chilly rain, giving a small bit of respect to one of our country's most recent casualties was the least I could do.

Drew Russell -- Jimmie Arnold May God forever hold you in His arms.

Lord, will we ever get it right and stop this foolishness of sending off our best and brightest to be killed?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saved by a phrase

Something that has been on my mind for several weeks since watching a very powerful video by Ray VanderLaan.

There is a phrase that Christ used at Gethsemane that saved us all. Knowing what was to come and the horrible torture and death He was to endure, the human Jesus prayed to the Father to "take this cup from me." This is when he prayed so strong that it brought blood, remember?
I don't know about you, but as a human - and Christ WAS both fully human and fully divine - I would do most anything to avoid the beatings and crucifixion. Being the weak human that most of us are, I probably would have cut and run.

But Christ didn't!

If you remember further, He finished that prayer by saying the phrase that saved us all. One that we all need to keep in mind and live by daily. The phrase?

"Your will, Father. Not mine."

Aren't ya glad !!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

God the What?

God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. I know those, but God the Farmer??? Got to thinking the other day about that. A farmer tills the soil, plants the seed, waters and weeds, and hopes for the very best crop. Isn't that what God does with us? Made us out of clay, showers us with Grace. Takes care of the "weeds" that come up in our lives. And He certainly wants the very best "us" that we can be.

Monday, June 27, 2011


It’s been several months since I’ve written anything. It all started on April 1st, no April Fools prank, but a phone call from my sister in Bay City. Our 82 year old mother had suffered a stroke, a big one. After several days in the hospital she was starting to come around, but had lost the use of her left side and couldn’t speak. What seemed worse to us is that she didn’t appear to recognize any of her children. We were told that things might get better in a few more days, so we waited.

To make a long story short, her body died on May 1st at 12:30 in the morning. My two sisters and I were there at a Hospice facility in Bay City called Brian’s House when this happened. We know that she is now in heaven with our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Amen!

Well, the story doesn’t end there. Being executor of her estate, I and my brothers and sisters have work to do, responsibilities to take care of. One of many blessings during this time was that my mother’s financial situation was such that none of her children had to pay for any of her funeral arrangements. My folks never wanted to be a burden on their children.

I hadn’t spent this much time with my brothers and sisters since we were kids back in the 50’s and 60’s. The only difference was a younger brother, Roger, who came in to the family after I’d left home and was serving in the Navy. We all pitched in and each did tasks that needed to be done. We laughed and cried. For the oldest (me) and youngest, we heard stories that we missed either me from not being at home or for my youngest brother who hadn’t been born yet. These stories, of blessings or events, gave us information on how our life walk had thus far shaped us in who we are today.

There were times during this ordeal that it seemed like I couldn’t do or say all the things that needed to be done or said. But I kept remembering that I wasn’t alone, the Spirit of God was with me the whole time and helped me through the darkest hours. Next month we will lay our mother and father’s ashes to rest, next to my sister’s grave. Had my parents survived until this July, it would have been their 62nd anniversary. That’s still a mighty good track record.

I look forward to getting back to “normal.” I can see it on the horizon, like a ray of light shining through the cloulds, like hope of heaven and being in the presence of the Creator. Then I remember, “Don’t anticipate.” So I try to continue to be faithful each hour and day until then.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

There is something to be said about "routine." I start my day with pretty much the same routine. I read a daily devotional from a book called "My Time with God." Really neat - is a matching of new testament and old testament Scriptures along with a devotional by someone that enhances the Scripture readings. Then I get online to read the daily email from "The Upper Room." Everyone knows how neat those little devotionals are.

Then I check out other emails and then go to the Emmaus Blog. For some time now that has seemed kinda like a waste of time. But, ya know what? It really isn't. The time I spend looking for some new post or whatever, is more time I can spend with my thoughts and my God, and listening to what He might have to say to me.

Today is going to be a great day. I get to go help a good friend and, in doing so, spend some time with my son and my grandsons. Yup, looking forward to a great day.

Hopefully, God will give you a great day too!

Peace to all.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's been a month since Ken last posted on here - even longer for Rocky or for myself. This blog has become a part of my morning routine, but now, it doesn't even have the little "Words of Christ" piece. My thanks to whoever was providing that.

I feel something is missing here. I know for sure that Ken, Rocky, and I are not the only ones who have thoughts to share. Perhaps "Facebook" has taken the place of the blog?

I do miss it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The following was the devotional I gave this morning at the first South County Lenten breakfast for 2011:

In 1987, Dr. Gregory Stock published a little volume entitled “The Book of Questions”. One of the questions goes: would you rather endure one day of intense suffering, or a life of low-level but long-term pain?

It then goes on to ask, what is an immunization, if not enduring short-term pain to avoid a life of crippling disease? The suffering of polio, diphtheria, yellow fever, measles, and smallpox were before my time - but some of you may have seen them.

Life itself contains its inoculations. The “terrible twos” taught each of us that the universe contained other human beings - and that we were not in charge of them. Puberty taught us that we had the power to define ourselves as individuals separate from our parents. Both processes, as you know, involve moments of anguish for all involved. Both remind us that the universe does not revolve around us. They are no different than immunizations; they just take longer.

The point is that we grow through seasons, and the seasons often involve trials; but the long-term benefit is real.

Of course, we have a choice.

We can live according to our plan: Party On, Dude! Take care of Numero Uno! Numb ourselves, live for the pleasures of the day; look what you made me do; and oh, that person had so much life ahead of them.

We can live according to another human’s plan: Hating ourselves when we don’t meet their expectations; hating THEM when they don’t meet OUR expectations; or opening ourselves up to the learned helplessness of the abused.

These choices, among several others, make a fundamentally flawed assumption: that this life is all there is. That you only go around once. That after this life, if there is anything at all, there is reward or punishment based solely on the grade we earn for ourselves. It is all about us.

There is another choice. Listen to these passages of Scripture.

James 1:2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

Romans 5:3-5: “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”

2 Timothy 1:7: “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.”

Matthew 5:11-12: Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

God became Christ, came down to Earth, and suffered like none of us will ever suffer to show us this: This life is just the start! If we will allow ourselves to get our vaccinations - if we will persevere through life’s lessons - if we let life be about His plan, and not ours - we will have a future that we did not earn, but that will still be greater than ANYTHING we can imagine. No other belief system in the world has that message.

As many of you know, God granted me the incredible blessing of a beautiful wife for 32 years. Terri passed away August 3d of last year, at the age of 53, as I held her hand. And I have never, and will never, endure such pain again in all eternity.

If this world is all there is, then that is a sick, cosmic joke. If this world is about justice for my actions, then my life can only be an abject failure. But if Christ is who He said He was - and I believe He is - then I have been immunized against ANYTHING this world can throw at me. I have persevered through that loss, and therefore I can persevere through ANYTHING this world can throw at me. I can continue to find joy, and spread joy. And when this life is over - because I will live for Christ, not for me - someday, I will get Terri back. Because she accepted Christ’s gift, and lived her life for Him.

Ladies and gentlemen, this Lenten season is about deciding who is in charge. It is about rolling up your sleeve. And it is about accepting God’s leadership, which - through joy, tribulation, and perseverance - will surpass the boundaries of your imagination.

Compared to eternity - it’ll only pinch for a little bit.

God Bless,
Dr Ken (how are YOU doing?) FP

Saturday, February 12, 2011

There is a universal observation among parents, that when a child comes to you and says “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.”; all you have to do is start listing the endless things they could be doing, like “Have you finished your home work? Have you started reading that book you have to do a report on next week? Is your room cleaned up? Did you pick up your dirty cloths and put them in the hamper, like I’ve asked for the 3rd day now?” The parent can keep the list going until there isn’t any oxygen left in the room, but the “bored” child will be long gone, having thought of something to do other any of the “top 25” listed items from the parent.

I’ve said this to my children and so has my wife, Sandi. It’s one of those things you learn through those “informative years” as your children grow and you seem to get buried by the overwhelming duties and responsibilities of taking care of a family.

Now, in our daily prayers, we usually don’t go to the Father with “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.” But then again, maybe that’s how Sister Theresa got her start. For as surely as the day is long, there are plenty of things we could be doing for God, to be the hands and feet of Christ. In some circles, this is called Christian Action. It’s more than going to Sunday school, Bible study or attending Sunday services and dropping a few dollars in the plate (or bag) as it’s passed around.

Christian Action is being in tune with the world around you; in your home, work place and community. Too keep your eyes and ears open, and stepping in to help where you can with the gifts of time and talent God has entrusted to you. As it’s been said before, “You may be the only Bible people see.”

I had a conversation with someone awhile back and mentioned another person involved in a Christian project that was taking place. A comment was made, “I didn’t know that Tom* was a Christian.” The statement caused me to pause and later ponder. What in this persons eyes did they see or not see that caused them to make that statement? Could people make a similar statement about me? I did defend the statement made against the person it was directed to, since I knew a little more about the person then other, “Yes, he is a Christian and has been a loving father, husband and helps out in different community projects.” The problem here was that both individuals just didn’t cross paths enough in similar projects where they could see each other in Christian action.

So, getting back on track; are you bored? Have you asked your Father what you can do for Him? Have you kept you eyes and ears open to the world around you? Have you asked your pastor or youth minister if there is something you can do to help them (doing work for God)? Or do you do like some children do and go find yourself something to do other than the endless list of areas that deserve a higher priority? Think about it.

*The name was changed to protect the identity. Could it have been you they were making the comment about?

God Loves You and So Do I ~ Rocky

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Don't know if my pc just picked up on it , or if someone re-designed the appearance of this blog - either way, it looks great.

Thank you to whoever God gave the talent to do things like this!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I want to be a butterfly!

Last weekend 33 girls attended the Flight of Hope Chrysalis Girls' Flight #41 in Kalamazoo. Amidst all the giggles during the Closing service, were real words of change, hope and love.

How many times have you heard, "I've never felt this much love," or "I want to share this with the whole world"? Think back to how you responded to the two questions: What has this weekend meant to you? and What are you going to do with it? Do you still feel the love? Are you still sharing it with the world?

Please keep these 33 girls in your prayers as they continue their next steps.

Also pray for the formation of a Boys' team. The February Boys' Flight has been pushed back and tentatively scheduled for June 24-26.


Dr. David W. Hills

The father of former Community Spiritual Director, Rev. David F. Hills, passed away Sunday. Please keep the family in your prayers.

View the obituary or sign the memory book here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day After

So, it's now the day after Christmas. We have all heard the story again and again and we are convinced we are celebrating the birth of our Savior. What next? In the words of a song, now...

"Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills, and everywhere."

Weren't we told to do something like that?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Year, New Me

It’s that time of year again and like so many other years, millions of people will be making those “New Year Resolutions.” You know what I mean, and just like me, we say that “It’s a new year, I’m going to start fresh and this year I will ….” What follows is a host of things we know or want our life to be; from losing that extra weight, improving our health by exercising more and eating better, quit smoking, getting out of debt, save more, improve our education, take a trip, volunteer more and a host of other things; improving something that we feel we need to do to make us better.

According to Wikipedia, “Recent research shows that while 52% of participants in a resolution study were confident of success with their goals, only 12% actually achieved their goals. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set, such as, a pound a week, instead of saying "lose weight"), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.” There are other reports with different numbers, but they are all relatively close to each other.
So there you have it, we have good intentions. However, the numbers show that we’re not too successful in accomplishing our goals that we feel will improve our life, even when I doctor encourages us to “Don’t quit trying.”

There is also a theory that all this goal setting is related to our happiness. Happy people don’t feel they need New Year’s Resolutions; therefore the majority of people (40-45% American adults) that set these annual goals may be unhappy people and they feel that by changing their lifestyle with these new goals, they will become happy and live happily ever after. (I did mention that this was a theory – and it’s not mine)

For me, I’ve found one thing that did improve my lifestyle, and it is turning your life over to God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit; and I didn’t have to wait until January 1st. To start, all you have to do is acknowledge “God, I can’t be the person I want to be. I surrender my life to you; show me what you want me to be.” After that, to know His will for your life you have to know about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. And how will you know what Jesus would do if you don’t know what Jesus did? You need to read your Bible. Start with the book of John, then Matthew, Mark and Luke. That’s a resolution that you can start now. There is no waiting line or “Please hold” to talk to God.

What’s new for your life this year?
~ God Loves You and So Do I
Rocky Starland

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Good morning, world! What a great day to wake up and praise God. I started out with the Upper Room as usual and noticed a story rather familiar to all Emmaus folks. Odd how those little devotionals seem to always be appropriate for that particular day.

I recently finished another Max Lucado book titled "In the Grip of Grace." At the end of the book, he finishes with a series of questions. A couple of those really got me to thinking, so I thought I would pass them along.

For those who are super-active in your church: Do you live in fear of never doing enough? Or, do you live in gratitude, knowing enough has already been done? The other, very similar question is: Do you do good deeds to be saved? Or, do you do good deeds because you are saved?

These are questions I ask myself often. I sometimes doubt my own motives. I pray for the latter while fearing the former. I know in both my mind and my heart, that Christ died for me and that should always be enough, but do I do things to win "points" from above?

Another point made in the book that is well worthy of note: Can you remember when you first allowed Christ into your heart and felt saved and became a child of God? What a great feeling that was!! (For me, it was when I was baptized at the age of 12 and just knew that I was "right" with God.) As life has gone along, have you experienced hardships and felt that your prayers were no longer of any importance to God and just maybe you've done things that have separated you from His love?

Think again, my friends! When you first accepted Christ, and He accepted you, didn't you feel forgiven for all you had done? If God knew of your sins beforehand, and if God knows everything that will happen until the end of time, which he does, don't you think He forgave your future sins also? He knew of them then and STILL took you as one of His own.

Ain't our God just super-awesome!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bungee Cords

I have been describing my current feelings as riding an emotional bungee cord, which in my reading, is typical for grieving spouses. My mood goes from peace to anxiety, joy to weeping, with very little ability on my part to control it. I usually hit both extremes part of every day.

Tonight, though, during my hospice "Grieving Spouses" workshop, I realized just how true that is...

...and that it is a source of comfort.

I had posted on Facebook a long time ago that the bond - the covenant - between Terri and myself could never be broken; but, stretched from here to Heaven, it tugged painfully. What is a bungee cord if not stretchable?

So - the bungee cord I am riding is not a torture device; it is a lifeline, provided by God when He blessed our marriage, and guaranteed not to break if I do not cut it. Like a bungee cord, the bounces will dampen with time; and eventually, I will be pulled up to peace and safety, where I can say, "that ride was terrifying at times, but I did it!"

And then I will enjoy the party for all eternity.

All of our Christian relationships are like that - ESPECIALLY our relationship with Christ. The saints that have gone before us are minding the safety lines; all we need do is love, and savor the moments of joy that the ride provides us. My Grandmother and Grandfather; Terri's Mom; and many others are adding strands of strength to that holy cord that keeps me from falling.

So, two words of advice:

First, keep your hands off the scissors. The pain of the ride is NOTHING as bad as the pain of cutting loose and free falling.

Second, Christ has asked his disciples to hand out extra cords. I've got plenty; you want one?

God Bless,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Butterfly Wings

There are scientific studies that support the proof that “…a butterfly’s wings flapping in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas..”; and all this is related to something call the “Chaos Theory.” In a nut shell, this all comes down to; small and what might seems like insignificant things can have major effects on the outcome of a complex sequence of events. In the “butterfly” case, the air pressure from the wings flapping can cause minute changes in air currents and when mixed with other atmosphere changes, well, it has an effect on the weather.

You know me; it got me to thinking about our Christian living. Each day we interact with people; face to face, on the phone and now via “the net” (Face Book, email, Chat rooms, Instant Messaging). All this communicating with other people (and this doesn’t have to be up close and personal, people can view us from a distance watching facial expressions and body language) will leave some sort of impression. It’s these impressions that we categorize and file away in our minds is what I’m thinking about.

When you categorize, you have to put a label on it, for example – guitars (duh). You can put them in order by the manufacturer, like Fender, Gibson, Epiphone, etc. From this point you could go further in separation to another identifier like acoustic or electric and on and on; do you see my thinking? If you came up to me and said “Fender” my mind goes straight to the file in my mind and opens it to a plethora of information with images of a Stratocaster, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Charlie Fritsche, wammy bars, all different colors, etc.

Now, if someone were to say “Christian”, what comes to mind? Does your file have many names of people who bring comforting emotions to your mind, or would it contain people who are walking contradictions of the model Christian – Jesus Christ?
So, back to where all this started; the very tiniest wrinkle on your face, be it from a smile or a frown, or the tone in your voice can have an effect on someone you might not even know is watching or listening to you. We all file stuff away and ponder their meaning from time to time and form opinions that affect our lives. Does your life reflect your adoration for the living-loving God whom wants “none to perish”? How will your “butterfly wings flapping” affect someone today in some way?
God Loves You and So Do I ~ Rocky Starland

Monday, August 23, 2010

Carol Baldwin

Carol S. Baldwin, 66, of Niles, entered into eternal life on August 19, 2010, in her home with loving family by her side. Carol was born on December 8, 1943, in Benton Harbor, MI, to Fred and Mary Personette. She married Ollen Baldwin on September 6, 1963, in Buchanan, MI. She is survived by her loving husband of 47 years, Ollen; a son, Robert Baldwin of Niles; two daughters, Leanne (Eric) Rakowski of Niles and Lorie (Troy) Hudgen of South Bend; four grandchildren, Krystal, Troy Jr., Andrew and Allison; and her sisters, Yonda (Roger) Lear of Baroda and Helen Steinke of Benton Harbor. She was preceded in death by her parents; her brother, Fred Personnette; and by her sister, Arlene Bigelow. Carol was a kind and loving person who liked to help others. She was a nanny for two sets of families over the years. She loved to sew for her children when they were young, and for her grandchildren who loved getting new pajamas every Christmas. Carol loved to bake and decorate cakes. She made many wedding, graduation and birthday cakes for friends and family over the years. Everybody loved "Mother Baldwin cake." It was the best. Carol was a member of First United Methodist Church in Buchanan. She was a member of the United Methodist Women, the Praise Team, and served as chair for the memorial funds. She volunteered at RAM Love and was member of the Emmaus community. Carol was a very kind and giving person who will be greatly missed by all whose lives she touched.

Visitation will be on Monday, August 23rd, from 4 to 8 p.m. in the Swem Chapel, Buchanan. Funeral services for Carol will be Tuesday, August 24th, at 10:00 a.m. in First United Methodist Church, 123 S. Oak St., Buchanan, with burial to follow at Mission Hills Memorial Gardens, Niles. Memorial contributions may be made to the following: First United Methodist Church, 123 S. Oak St., Buchanan, MI 49107; or to Hospice at Home, 2626 W. John Beers Road, Stevensville, MI 49127 Those wishing to sign her guestbook may do so by visiting www.swemfuneralhome.com.

Cynda Carson

Cynda passed away suddenly Sunday morning, July 4, 2010 at Bronson Methodist Hospital, Kalamazoo. She was born August 27, 1941 in Kalamazoo, the daughter of the late Donald and Joy (Rosier) Carson. She was a graduate of Gull Lake High School class of 1959 and retired from the Van Buren County Intermediate School District where she was a secretary. She was a member of the Lawrence United Methodist Church and currently a member of the Berrien Springs United Methodist Church. Cynda also served in the Kalamazoo Area Emmaus community as well as a member and past Worthy Matron of the Paw Paw-Lawton Chapter #256 Order of Eastern Star. Surviving are a cousin, Phillip Gray of Kalamazoo and many dear friends who will truly miss her.

A memorial service was held Saturday, July 10 at 11:00 at the Berrien Springs United Methodist Church, 310 W. Mars St. with Rev. Cindy Parsons officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to the Bread of Heaven Food Pantry at the Berrien Springs U.M.C. Arrangements are by the Adams Funeral Home, Paw Paw.


Dee Tyler

Delos ‘Dee’ Tyler

HOLLAND, Mich. - Delos ‘Dee’ Tyler, 86, formerly of Cadillac, died Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010.

Dee was born in Cadillac in 1923 to Jennie and Clement Tyler.

He is survived by his wife, Dona; three children, Kirk (Sue) Tyler, Heidi Tyler and Heather (Mark) Torrance; eight grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and many beloved nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by five brothers and two sisters.

A memorial service will be at at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010 at the Holland First United Methodist Church, 57 W. 10th St., Holland, Mich., with visitation at 2 p.m.

Memories and photos may be posted online. Go to http://www.lakeshorememorial.com/. Click on Delos Tyler and then Enter. Memorial contributions may be made to UMCOR Haiti Relief Fund or Hospice House of Holland.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

4th day

Wow - I actually made it to a Fourth Day group this morning. Have to admit - it's been quite a while. Lots of excuses, but that's all they are - excuses.

I truly enjoyed the short time we spent together over breakfast. What a great group of Christians! What a great Savior! He shines through in each of them.

Seen Him lately?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

And now a new season

Well, I'm out of the desert place. Terri is singing in Heaven, and we celebrated her life yesterday.

Now - what is this place?

It looks so familiar. The landscape seems so familiar; the people are all people I know.

My amazing two sons, Matt and Jeremy, are here.

Oh yeah - I'm the unknown.

Half of my heart has been amputated. But yet - I am still loved; grace still abides; and my salvation keeps me going.

I guess I'd better start exploring this place... a bit scary, but I imagine there will be fun.

God Bless,
Ken Franklin

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Desert Place

This is a part of the Bible I never thought I'd relate to.

The Sad Psalms.

The ones David wrote when he was running for his life.

I am in a place of suffering. I am in a chair at the bedside of my one true love, while she lives the last hours or days of her life.

She is breathing shallowly. She no longer has he strength to close her eyes completely as she sleeps. On the rare moments when she communicates, she is distant, but not confused. Thank the Lord, the medicines have stopped her pain and vomiting. She can no longer eat or drink because the tumor has closed off her stomach outlet.

I promised her when she entered Hospice that I would not let her suffer. We also have promised each other "No cutting in line" to Heaven - no suicide.

So instead, I have placed myself in a vulnerable place for the last, and worst, temptation of my married life on this planet.

If I let her linger here, am I letting her suffer? If I give her enough pain medicine to stop her breathing, am I usurping God and murdering her?

Then the Holy Spirit hugs me. There is no dilemma. Terri is not suffering. I am. And I am not alone.

This is the desert place, I will stay in it, and the Lord will deliver me. Under the inevitable suffering, there is peace. This season will end with Terri rejoicing and dancing in the presence of our Savior. I will grieve, supported by hundreds of friends. And I will Persevere. (there's talk 14 again.) I will press on toward the prize of serving God on this planet, and then embracing Terri again after a season.

My friends keep saying "you are so strong", sometimes followed by "you don't have to keep up a brave front." I. Am. Not. Strong.

I am uplifted.

The tears flow. I cry out. And I know it will get worse. The strength my friends see is the Lord's. If you see this as my strength, then I am not being an adequate disciple. I want people to see God's strength, and yearn for it. Because THEN Terri's life - and Earthly death - will be an Alleluia to the Lord.

This morning, Terri awoke and needed to use the bathroom. I went to get the wheelchair; but she said, "No. I want to walk." which meant shuffling as we held each other, like so many slow dances we have shared.

It felt so good. I told her so. She agreed.

An oasis in the desert place.

God Bless,

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