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How can you really tell if someone is good at what they do? I mean that’s a pretty subjective value, isn’t it? What is good to me may be average to one or excellent to another. Over time I have come to a very simple conclusion to help me decide if someone is good at what they do.

My conclusion? I think I can do what he or she does. There is something about those who are good at what they do that make it look effortless. The good ones always make whatever they do look easy, and the exceptional ones motivate you to actually try it.

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Jan
10

The Last Car Ride

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About five years ago, after a heartfelt, written request by my middle child, we piled into our vehicle and drove to the Perry rescue shelter to look at a dog. The dog we went to see was a reddish colored Golden Retriever, who looked more like an Irish Setter than any Golden I had ever seen. Once he was free from his kennel, he ran round and round the fenced area as though he’d never been free.

Then there was a second Golden. He wasn’t on the website, the woman explained, because he’d just been seized by the local police department after several complaints from neighbors. This one simply came over and sat in front of us. As we deliberated over which one to pick, the dog picked up his paw and put it on my daughter’s leg, a habit we would come to adore, and I said, “I think this one has picked us.” After more conversation and $100 changed hands, we loaded the dog into the car and headed home. By loaded I mean literally. He wouldn’t get into the car and we had to lift him in.

As we drove home we discussed possible names. I’ve always thought dogs needed goofy names, and we went back and forth, no one willing to give an inch. When we got home my son walked through the living room. He was the one dissenting vote on getting a dog, reasoning that the energy and expense would be great. Hearing our conversation, my son simply said, “His name is Jackson.” And so it was.

Those early days were exhausting for sure. Within a couple of weeks he had destroyed two pieces of furniture and, if memory serves correctly, at least one pair of shoes. He was scared of his own shadow, refusing to go down that dark, dangerous hallway that led to the bedrooms or down the long, steep set of stairs that led to the basement. It would be months before he would jump into the back seat of a car without being hoisted in. Most of those fears would diminish over time. Though he still barked at any non family member that came into our home, he would would go down the hall, down the stairs, or jump into the back of the car.

Today Jackson took his last car ride. Jackson was dealt a crummy hand, and when we got him we had no idea how hard his life had been. He was blind in one eye from blunt force trauma. He had Addison’s Disease from being beaten across his back. His anxiety was so profound he took Prednisone to help calm him down. In December he was diagnosed with severe diabetes, and our Vet even suspected cancer of the liver, due to the increased enzymes in his blood system. Last night we agreed enough was enough.

Its funny the way memories flood back as you wait in the exam room…things you’ll never forget…like the way he carried my wife’s shoes through the house when he wanted attention or how no steel kennel cage could hold him. We’ll never forget the long night of force feeding him canned spinach after he ate razor blades or how he could hear a jar of peanut butter being opened from across the house. I’ll miss him following me around the house and lying about needing to go outside at night so he could get a treat.

Even more, I’ll miss the things he taught me about unconditional love. That’s one of the great things about a good dog. They love because they love. No strings attached and no performance standards to be met. And I’ll miss that the most. No matter what kind of day I had, Jackson was always Jackson. Though we didn’t have him all that long, I am comforted that we gave him the kind of life he deserved all along.

I would like to thank and acknowledge Dr. Robert Foss of Ashworth Road Animal Hospital for five years of great care and for his compassionate counsel regarding our pet’s health and well being. I would also like to thank Dr. Jessica Merk, whose compassion and care for Jackson this morning was exemplary. Those of you who knew Jackson know the stories I’ve alluded to in this post. And what stories they are.

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Nov
17

Hello Again!

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Some of you have inquired where I’ve been for the last month and a half. Like anyone else, things have been very busy for me both personally and professionally. But I’ve taken some of this time to rethink what I want to do with this blog. So bear with me, and don’t give up. Regular posts will resume soon! Thank you for your support!

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Here is a helpful article by Frank Viola published at ChurchLeaders.com. I think he’s spot on! You can read it HERE.

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Jul
07

Weighing in on Mainline Decline

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Here are a couple of articles from Ted Campbell and Tanya Basu regarding the decline in attendance and membership among American mainline denominations. What do you think? Does this resonate with your impression of mainline denominations in your community?

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Jul
01

Do We Care Too Much About Sports?

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Today the USA Men’s Soccer Team is facing Belgium in the “knock out round” of World Cup Soccer. Nationalism is at a favor pitch, and those who typically don’t care about soccer are glued to their television monitors. Barna Research released a new study today regarding the American perspective on sports. I found it interesting, and hope you do as well. You can access it by clicking HERE.

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May
01

Is Global Poverty in Decline?

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Barna Research has released a new study on global poverty, conducted in conjunction with Compassion International, on the reduction of extreme poverty in the world. The research includes some interesting insights regarding American’s thoughts on the topic. You can read the study BY CLICKING HERE.

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May
01

What about Gluttony?

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I would encourage everyone to check out Kevin DeYoung’s fine post on the sin of gluttony.

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Apr
17

Happy Anniversary, TimDeatrick.com

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Today is the fifth anniversary of my blog site. Over the five years I’ve published 845 posts that have reached thousands of readers across all seven continents. It has been a pleasure to write for and maintain this site, and pray that it has been helpful to you in some degree.

I haven’t always posted with the frequency that I had hoped, but I’m confident that you understand that life “happens,” making it difficult to get around to every task on the agenda. Nonetheless, I enjoy this as both a professional outlet and as a hobby of sorts.

Your feedback, whether through comments you post, personal emails or face to face, has been helpful. You have spread the word by sharing selected posts with others or encouraging them to find the site on the internet. Thank you, one and all, for making this experience worth while.

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Mar
26

The Legacy of Fred Phelps

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The news of Fred Phelps’ death last week caused me to reflect on two experiences I’ve had with Westboro Baptist Church. The first was my last congregation’s random selection for picketing by Westboro following our High School’s presentation of The Laramie Project, a play depicting the life and murder of a high school student named Matthew Shepard. In preparation for that Sunday, our local police department brought the five churches together to debrief us on what to expect and how to prepare.

The research the detectives provided us was fascinating. Westboro Baptist Church is basically composed of two families. While in name they are incorporated as a church, their primary function is to incite a reaction. Most of Phelps’ children are attorneys versed in second amendment rights. When Westboro pickets, they notify the local police the locations they have selected, whether it be a church, a military funeral or some other event. They want the police there to protect them and document physical aggression directed toward picketers as well as document any restrictions that may be placed on their protests. If they are forbidden to protest, or if some well intentioned person physically accosts a member of the group, they file a law suit. And through the years they have be surprisingly successful. Phelps’ children have filed and won many law suits, even arguing cases as high as the United States Supreme Court. To that, I simply say Westboro is not a “church.” Its a bizarre business.

My second experience came as a part of a military funeral I conducted for a Marine who was killed in action in Afghanistan. There were two funerals that day, and Westboro announced they would be at both. However they opted for the other. The stress that the mere threat of Westboro coming to picket this young hero’s funeral was tremendous. Local police, assisted by the Patriot Guard, did everything within their power to protect the dignity of the soldier and his family. But the stress was still heavy.

Fred is dead, but his legacy will continue. Its easier to hate than to love. Its easier to judge than to entrust God with that responsibility. Its easier to focus on contrast than comparison. The small children who picket, carrying signs that display repulsive language and images have been taught to hate and to judge. They walk the picket line dutifully, with empty eyes and a sign secured against their tiny shoulders. They are unresponsive to the jeers and profanity hurled at them by those who pass by. For me, the worst part of Westboro’s charade is the way they use children. Its cruel and sad and wrong. And its part of securing the legacy.

There is a verse in Hebrews 11 about Abel that says, “though he is dead, yet speaks…” Long after we are gone, our lives still speak into future generations whether for good or bad. Fred Phelps is dead, but he still speaks. And Westboro Baptist Church shows no sign of letting up. Check it out HERE.

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