Bonds

pastor&drbonds EDIT

Another mentor of mine left this world today.

Dr. John Bonds was 87 years old. Retired the last 20 years, he planted 3 churches in his ministry years, and invested in the lives of countless thousands. He invested in my life as well. Patty and I met Dr. Bonds and his wife Georgetta at Camp Wabanna in Annapolis, MD. We were attending an annual Pastor’s and Wives conference and Doc was one of the scheduled speakers. He took an immediate interest in us as church planting was his hearts desire. Through the Bond’s Foundation he helped plant churches and build church buildings. Doc came to our church plant, Lighthouse Baptist, in 2003 and preached, while his wife held a ladies conference. Doc also served as a consultant to us, at my insistence he critiqued our work and helped us strengthen and expand the ministry.

In November of 2003 Dr. Bond’s was called to be the interim Pastor at Harford Furnace Baptist Church. He was charged with helping the church find a new pastor. He brought me there, I was called and the members of Lighthouse joined. For four wonderful months Dr. John was my co-pastor, and helped me through the process of rebooting the ministry to become First Baptist Church of Harford County, where I pastored for another 12 years.

Doc and Mrs. Bonds were always helpful, always insightful and always just a phone call away when I had a problem or question. Doc was a pastoral mentor supreme.

It was his sense of humor that I appreciated so much. He had a way of telling a truth about ministry while making you laugh, even when it hurt. Phrases like “It’s always darkest just before it gets pitch black,” “Why pray about it when you can worry?” and my favorite, “Brother Dave, there are some folks you chase as they go out the church door, and there are some you chase out the door!” He let me know that my insecurities, fears and failures were natural. Everybody in the ministry felt that way at times, and it was ok, as long as you didn’t let it define you.

I have been blessed to have many mentors in the ministry, all much older than me, and much wiser. I’ve lost the fellowship of several these last years. And now Doc is a resident citizen of that far country. I can’t wait to see him again.

dave mason small signature

Catchup…

Katch-Up

The trip to Daleville last week completely knocked my routine out of rhythm. And I am having a terrible time getting back into the swing. Many loose ends that need my attention, and that erodes my office hours. I shouldn’t complain. All the loose ends are good things. A new van  to tag and title. A meeting this week with the new Base Head Chaplain. God moments where I’m stopped in my tracks and all work has to be put on hold so I can invite, counsel, listen, you know, be a minister!

By Monday I should have all the loose ends tied up and be back in my regular schedule. Just in time to start my trips north for two Memorial Services, a Board Meeting, Church visits (My favorite) and catch up time with family. October is filled with trips as well, and hopefully a week off with my wife on a cruise at the end of the month. I turn 50 in October. I guess I’ll have the same struggle next week, and the week after.

The point of this post? Whenever we try to reboot, troubles will come along to stop us, if we let it. You will be slowed down. I challenged myself to post to this blog every day from two weeks ago Monday through October. I missed all but two days in the second week! And this week? Well its Wednesday night and I’m just now sitting in a coffee shop to write this.

But I’m writing it. Getting back into the groove. No matter what you are trying to change, when the opposition comes (and it will) push through it. Don’t let small temporary failures turn into permanent failures.  This post is 4 days late and nearly 200 words short of my daily goal. But it’s here.

Catch Up. Keep going. You may slow down, but don’t ever stop.

dave mason small signature

Farewell

Friday was the end of a long week for us. Walt and I travelled to Daleville, Al. to visit our ministry at Fort Rucker and to bring back supplies. Coming back was the longest as I was driving a large passenger van and towing a 12 ft. trailer. The return trip took all day Wednesday to go over 400 miles to Charleston, SC. where we rested for the night and then 5 hours Thursday to Jacksonville, NC, arriving in the early afternoon.

I took off Thursday night, but it was back to work early Friday morning, and a full day at the Center getting ready for a big night.

Sgt. Marcus Lanier, one of our regulars at The Center for the last 3 years is shipping out to San Diego for training as a Marine Recruiter this week, and Friday was his last day at the Center. We said goodby to Kennard Green just two weeks ago as he was PCS’d to TwentyNine Palms.

IMG_4985
Dave, Marcus & Patty

Marcus brought many members of his church over to see the ministry and we had a great meal of Barbecue and Shrimp with all the fixins’.

Marcus will really be missed, but we are excited for his new career recruiting Marines. You will see Marcus in our new Ministry video I am producing for this fall.

Goodbyes are our lot in this life. I miss my family and the friends I grew up with in Maryland, but following God’s Call means sometimes we have to say goodbye. The hard goodbyes though are the ones that are long term in our flesh. One of my mentors died last week. Another is in hospice and will be with His Lord soon.

Over the course of 19 years in the ministry, 15 of those full time, I have officiated well over 100 funerals. I have seen the many ways folks deal with loss. Whether it is someone moving across country or on to the Other Country, we all find ourselves at times separated from those we love. The only way I can deal with it, and perhaps it will help you, is to face reality and not run from it.

Loss is our lot. I say that in every graveside service. Because of sin, we have events spiral out of our control and we loose the ones we love. Temporary or permanent, loss is a fact of life. But as real as sin is, Grace is greater. We must choose to cling to our Lord and His Plan, no matter how painful. His Plan is right. When a loved one dies, we must accept God’s Perfect Will and move on, continue to live. When someone we love moves away, we must also accept this, and trust that God will continue to bless our lives even though our friend, who has been such a blessing, is no longer in our daily life.

Above all, press on. Never let loss stop you.

dave mason small signature

Tired


430 miles travelled today, from Daleville, AL to Charleston, SC. Driving a 22ft. Passenger van and towing a 12 ft trailer. In a Sleep Inn watching FOX News and writing this post. On to the Center tomorrow, about a 5 hour drive since I cannot go over 55mph with the trailer attached. 

I have no pithy quotes and no bit of wisdom tonight except this: I talked with a good pastor friend tonight and he kept thanking me for the three years I have been hounding him about taking time off. He now has a schedule that he sticks to, takes one day off a week, and promised me he will continue to take the time to rest. It’s God plan, resting. He started it on the 7th day. 

Are you tired? God will understand if you take a break because you have been diligently working to advance His Kingdom and provide for your family. Take time to rest, then get back to work.

Goodnight.

Remember

image

I was on the road yesterday traveling to Daleville, Al. Stopped in Metter, GA for the night and hit the pillow without a thought of posting to the Blog.

So here’s my make-up, mini post:

Don’t forget. Our memory is a precious and strange thing. We can remember the smell of our Grandma’s kitchen from 40 years ago, but we can’t seem to remember the idea from yesterday we were sure would change our life.

So write it down. Not only do you have a record of what happened, what you thought, what you saw, you have a tactile experience that reinforces your memory. I keep a black spiral bound notebook on my desk. Every phone call, every blog post, every letter I write gets recorded in that notebook.

Studies show that those that write with a pencil or pen on paper remember what they recorded much more than those that keyboard. There is a connection made in our brains when our thoughts are transferred by our hands onto paper. Our brains have an amazing ability to change and transform. It’s called neuroplasticity. Scans show that our brains physically change as we process and commit information to memory.

God of course made it this way, that’s why He said in Habakkuk:

2:2…And the Lord answered me, and said,
Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables,
that he may run that readeth it.

Write it down, Don’t forget to remember.

Balance

20150805174656-delicate-balance

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

“Wax on, wax off”
– Mr. Miyagi

The struggle is eternal it seems. Work and family. Exercise and rest. Involvement and disengagement. Balance is the goal that is ever out of reach.

For me the greatest challenge to balance are days off. If I am not going into work, I don’t know what to do with myself. Weekends when we don’t have an activity scheduled at the Center, I rely on Patty to create something, because I am clueless. I usually try to write from the couch, with the news on the TV, and I end up getting little to nothing done (This post is being written at 9:30 on Sunday night.)

I like to be busy, but I know that rest is important. Patty and I are planning a getaway around my 50th birthday this fall. Only by leaving the vicinity of work do I quit thinking about it. Of course, about the time I get unwound, the vacation is over.

If your life is disjointed, hazy, lacking motivation, remember this: Discipline is the only route to true freedom. Order your life. You have a lot more time than you think. We spend our time on the things that matter most to us. If we find ourselves yearning for down time it betrays that we are probably believing a lie that we must do more to be accepted. Jesus’ call to you is to rest in Him. Let Him take up the other end of your yoke and carry the weight for you.

As Jerry Falwell used to say, we have to learn the difference between the things that are important, and the things that are merely urgent.

We keep ourselves overwhelmed thinking that shows everyone that we matter, we are valuable. We spend too much of our lives worried about how we appear than how we are.

Strike a balance. Not a pose.

Loss

FullSizeRender 2

I got a call today. Judy, the wife of my ONE College professor, John Davlin called to let me know he passed away at the age of 81 this week. I call him my ONE professor because of my time at Harford Community College I really can’t remember the name of more than two or three others who taught me. John loomed above them all.

I changed my major to Mass Communications in the Fall of 1985 after bitter disappointment at the Art world I encountered in my first year of college. I found myself disconnected from other artists who in my opinion were using style and culture to hide a lack of talent.

In the Mass Comm. program I found a group of friends I still know today. I was an outcast in High School. College was my “Breakfast Club.” And during this time, John Davlin was my mentor, the reason I stuck with it and made a career, though a short 6 years, of Radio and Television.

John took a liking to me immediately. My second semester he made me the News Director of the college Station, WHFC-FM. My job was to fill the News slots everyday myself or with other students. It was unpaid, but it was my first exposure to a lifelong pursuit of leadership. My Third Semester John gave me a paid position as Program Director of the station, with paid student staff.

I remember vividly standing in the hallway outside the control room talking with Mr. Davlin when the AP wire began ringing. It was the first time I ever heard it ring.  Mr. Davlin said it meant something big must have happened. We ran into the newsroom to read the copy coming over the wire. The Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded minutes after liftoff.

John taught me about Jazz. How to listen to it (Which ruined me on pop music for years after) and how to tell the good from the bad. He gave me my own weekly Jazz program on the station. Having your own program was an honor, and John was the final authority on who got a show of their own. I wrote a promo for the show featuring Sherlock Holmes and Watson. John recorded the voice of Holmes to my Watson. I wish I still had the tape of that.

One day John called me into his office and asked me for a favor. He was getting married to Judy in a month and the wedding party was uneven. One too many bridesmaids. Would I do him the honor of being one of his groomsmen? I never heard of a college professor asking one of his students to be in his wedding. I was honored. As an aside, being in John and Judy’s wedding had an added benefit for me. I learned to drive a stick shift. The day before the wedding my tuxedo was still not ready. We were at the rehearsal and John got the call that it was finally altered and needed to be picked up before the shop in Towson (About a 45 minute drive away) closed that day. John insisted that I take his car. I took the keys, got in and saw that it was manual. I had operated Farm tractors so I knew the basics, but had no practical experience driving a manual transmission on the highway. I made it to Towson and back to Darlington without destroying his clutch. I told John that I had never before drove a stick shift…about 5 years later when I got married!

When I lost my job at one of the last radio stations I worked at, John called me that week and asked me to come over to his office. He said he needed someone to show his students how to write and put together a news cast for radio. He hired me to teach an informal class twice a week in the college newsroom. He paid me with cash he said was from the Stations petty cash fund. Today I am the same age John was when I was his student. Looking back I’m sure he was paying me himself.

Even when I left broadcasting and went into law enforcement  and later the ministry, whenever I ran into John he was always supportive and excited for my career path. My time under the guidance of John Davlin prepared me for the business of writing sermons and public speaking.

I know this isn’t a ministry related post. But this minister of the Gospel is thankful for all of his friends, and all of his mentors. John Davlin was both.

Rest in Peace my friend.

dave mason small signature