Monday, March 15, 2010

Pruning Fruit Trees

A Letter from Father Michael Carney

Hey Byron!

I was just looking at your blog about the Sunday service, and don't know if you are down in the dumps after yesterday, but in case you are, I thought I'd send you a note.

It sounds like yesterday wasn't a mountaintop experience at Keepville! I'm tempted to write that you just think it should have been because you live in Pennsylvania, with its great rolling hills. Here in Michigan, we've got wonderful woods and rivers, but we're flat as a pancake. No mountaintops here! :-)

What makes a service awesome? The decibel level from the praise band? The number of ladies (or men!) who cry? The amount of emotional manipulation wrung from the congregation from some ego maniac's test - I - mony?

Personally, I can say that at our church, the services ARE always awesome. It's just that I don't have eyes to see it most of the time. And the more I look over my shoulder at whether or not the service IS/WAS awesome, the more I'm looking at myself, or at others in a way I shouldn't. And the only One I'm not looking at is our Lord.

Why are the services at our place always awesome (yours too, I'm sure)? Because the Lord Jesus Christ has promised He would be in our midst if even two or three of us gather in His Name. Praise bands, tambourines, "Christian comedy" aren't in the equation and might even be a distraction.

The apostles conquered Rome without these things. Do we need more than they had? Or do we depend on bells and whistles because we're afraid we don't have what they had?

Frankly, I'm not sure if I'm really ready to see the Pastor jumping up and down and snorting and hollering while preaching ! If that's what you do, can I come sometime? And do you allow popcorn in the church? :-)

God has called you to be the pastor of your flock - that means "shepherd" (as you well know) - not karaoke singer, or talk show host, or Keepville's answer to American Idol. Something tells me that you are a good one. And though I don't know very much at all about your Holiness tradition, I know that we grow into holiness. It requires time, a bit of sweat, sacrifice and patience. Didn't someone say that half of life (marriage, church, etc.) is showing up? We can get revved up on the mountain - at the retreat, hearing the guest speaker, etc. These are good things. And yes, Peter wanted to build a few tents up on the mountain of Transfiguration - to live there. But that's not what happened. Most of our life is lived down in the valley.

Is God there - where we really live - or not?

God is doing something in us in the ho-hum times. He knows what He is doing, and would tell us if we would understand it or if we would go along with it!

I think, too, that ho-hum times wean us a little off of our entertainment addiction. And they prepare us a little bit for the Cross which our Lord carried and the other cross He tells us we must carry. The apostles never seemed to get it, that when the Lord spoke about His "glorification", He wasn't talking about Palm Sunday. He was speaking of Good Friday.

I like looking at your blog, mostly because I like you and think of you as a friend. Sure can't say why - one "chance" meeting in Grand Rapids and a lot of shared carbs at Eat'n'Park isn't really enough for a friendship, ordinarily. But I know we have a very good Friend (the best!) in common. and in Him we're brothers. Pretty DIFFERENT brothers, but still brothers.

You're right. Your blog doesn't have much in the way of sermonizing. Maybe it should, I don't know. But there are plenty of good blogs that do (and some not so good, too.) I like seeing the pictures and reading the comments. They're all about pretty ordinary, pretty normal things. A man has a good wife, nice kids, friends. He works hard, for others as often as not. He gets a little hot under the collar sometimes. He's on the PETA "Wanted" list. Oh, yeah. And he and his wife are committed Christians.

Not a bad sermon, in my book.

Well, this has gotten pretty long-winded. Sorry for tiring you out! And forgive me if I talked down to you or misread what you wrote in your blog. You seem like a guy who's used to winning - and yesterday seemed like something of a defeat. It wasn't, but somebody (an angel, but with black leather wings) wants to make you think it was. Your parishioners need a strong and faithful father in Christ - and I'm sure that you are that. They need you to be a father much more than they need to see you do an American Idol imitation.

They all might not know that yet, though!

End of MY sermon, at last!

I really look forward to seeing you again, whenever God allows. Thanks for praying for Victor, our good friend and helper - the crack addict. He's in a recovery program now and seems to be doing okay.

your friend and brother in Christ,

Fr. Michael

Was It Just Me?

I normally don't discuss this aspect of my life. I usually blog as my blog is titled - "The Keepville Church Pastor - the lighter side of a Pastor's life". I blog daily events for our family and friends to keep up with what we do in our life. I had one poor soul criticize me for the lack of spiritual depth on my blog. Rather I was told that I was more interested in everything else as opposed to what I needed to, whatever that is. I guess since the http:// had the word church in it, I was obligated to sermonizing and whatever else he wished that I would post. Oh well I guess its not his blog.
I don't get theological on here, I don't get philosophical on here, I don't get homiletical on here, I don't get political on here and the list of "-ical's" could be long. The truth be known what I post only represents a small portion of our ministry here at Keepville. That being said of what I don't do...I am going to do. I guess I am sounding like the Apostle Paul the things I don't want to do I find myself doing. So here goes:
Is it alright to say that our services were very flat yesterday? I guess when you hear someone say every Sunday that their services are always makes you wonder what they are on. After two great Sundays the previous two weeks......yep everyone seemed half asleep. Was it me, the hour lost, or just the normal valley between the mountain top experience? Was it the fact I told them they needed to be doing more than just attending services, but out witnessing and being a light? Was it the fact that we get so much in to a rut that they put it in auto pilot and lull to sleep? Is it the lack of the Pastor jumping up and down and snorting and hollering while preaching? Was it the fact that I had announced we would be raising more money to finish off our building project that "put a wet blanket" on their worship?
I guess I can only say even though we did not seemingly have a "Wowser" of a service, I could still sense God's help as we worshiped. Yes I think the hour change had something to do with it. Yes, I think that we are human and we are not always on a high. So we can just pray that God will continue to manifest His presence like He always has. It is the calm consistant presense that is the most enduring.
The folowing was some feed back from my post on:
Julia Gurnee I really wanted to pick on you and tease you but decided now isn't the time or place so I'll pass up this prime opportunity.... :-) But, yes, I felt the same way about our services yesterday. I think it was probably mostly because of the time change.
David L Stalder Sounds like life to me. The bog lands of the valleys are as dangerous as the steep emotional experiences of the mountain top views. It all causes us to grow incredibly beautiful in our faith and trust in God. :-)
David L Stalder Oh! And I'm glad I'm not the only one who has flat moments. :-) Thanks for sharing.
Scott-Mary Deal Can't appreciate the "up" times without having some down times, Byron...·
Valorie Bender Quesenberry Hey, being real is appreciated. We all have those times in worship.
Ben Wiford love the honesty! some people are too wrapped up in trying to make themselves look good to admit its not always great.
Gabriel Morley "Flat" may only be a feeling. (Usually not that way with a tire.) Charles Spurgeon once preached what he thought was a "flat" message. He was so embarrassed that he exited the side door without greeting people. But he learned later that several people had been saved after the service....If the "flat" is a result of our own carelessness or lack of preparation or whatever, then it's our fault, but if we've tried our best, and it's still "flat", then it's probably just a feeling.
Tim Calhoun ....and if it's reeling with hilarity, self-absorbed emotion, bragimonies, attention getting; even so cleverly done as to give the Lord partial credit....if it's about us, our righteousness, our feelings...still flat as a pancake, or worse.give me a quiet, thoughtful, honest crowd, focused on God and His holiness any day...Thanks Byron for being real.
Roger N Susann Thawley I think the hour loss of sleep could have played a part. But God id good in the low tide as well as the high. I know a former pastor who is happy that this work is has its doors open. Take heart!
Heidi Wengerd Mills I think it was the time change myself...all I wanted to do in church was sleep yesterday!! Gotta have the down times to appreciate the 'high' times:)
Scott Rhoades We're human...don't rely on feelings, just be consistent. God will do the rest!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Laying Ceramic Tile at Cooperstown

Thanks to Dad for helping lay the 13" tile.
The 16" tile.
Joe Greenburg helped us out a couple days.

Dwayne Shorts helped us out with door frames.

Finished product pics will be posted when I get them.

More Frost Pics

Basketball at the Center

Tom Freeman putting the mounting kit together.
At 78 he keeps busy at the Center doing whatever needs done.

Prepping the wall

Finsihing touches.

Ready for hoops!

Family History in Cooperstown Pennsylvania

A couple of months ago Dad gave me a book entitled "The History of Cooperstown". I did not realize that my grandfathers side of the family held a place of such importance in that little rural town. A. P. Miles owned a water wheel mill on the little stream that ran through the town. Driving into Cooperstown just the other day, my eye caught a site that mad my mind begin to whirl. After asking around we found that this wheel was in the backyard of the old Miles home.
Just as we were ready to pull out of the driveway from getting the above picture we saw this grinding wheel from the mill propped up by a rock. I guess it gave me a funny feeling knowing my ancestors made a living from this very spot.

A Night to Remember

Charles Alsheimer

Friday, March 12, 2010

Syrup Time

Wayne tapped our trees and the kids enjoyed helping him.

Some Winter Scenes

A Tribute to the Conleys

Here is a picture of us singing Christmas Carols to them this past Christmas. Now they are both in heaven reunited with each other and their Savior for eternity. They have gone to their final reward and home forever. We were not able to make her funeral 6 weeks ago, but wanted to show the family and our dear friends that we cared. Their Pastor shared many things about them and I want to pass along a couple of them as it spoke of their dedication to God and love for the church.
The first thing he shared was how they showed up to church in a snowstorm. It was just last winter just before they went into the nursing home at the ages of 93. The pastor recalled how he almost had canceled the service that morning and how the younger people of the church "couldn't make it." Then the Conleys pulled up that morning bright and early into the parking lot. He got her wheel chair out of the trunk and helped her into it and then pushed her up the ramp to church. Ollie Mae told the pastor that Sunday isn't Sunday with going to church.
I guess it just goes to prove you do what you want to do.
The second thing he shared was Bro. Conley's ability to sing even in his old age. The pastor shared that not only did he still like to sing in his old age, he still could. He could still sing, he could still keep in time, he could still keep on tune, and he always could still sing the right words. Then he added "All that without even looking at a songbook." He shared that at this past Christmas program at the Rolling Fields nursing home he sang in the choir and everyone was amazed how well his voice still carried the notes. He was asked to sing "Oh Holy Night".
While many try to sing he could at 93.
Many other tributes were given to their spiritual life and how they had served their Savior.

Hot Water Upgrade..... Gurnee Electric, Heating and Contracting.

Pups at Keepville

Kenton was so excited this morning to find pups when he fed his dog. Talladega had 4 puppies - Rockingham, Sonoma, Pocono, and Madison. I guess since we call Talladega - Tally for short the pups will be called: Rock, Sonny, Poke, and Maddy. Anyone wanting a pup just holler.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Another Furnace Install

Visits From Friends

Kent Jeffries
The Cosners

The Fultz's

Starting on Pulling Tractor Number Two

Halibut Cook-In

We had everyone that took care of our livestock while we were gone to Alaska over for some of the halibut. George and Ilene Randall, Wayne and Ramona Drury, Larry and Betty Miller, and Mom and Dad.

Bacon wrapped deer roast and deep fried halibut.