Slice

pizza-slice-pennant-3x5-9-1

Today Patty and I decided to get a pizza for lunch. Its been a hard week preparing reports and juggling numbers and we were both well fried by noon. I called our regular pizza place, Lazzaras which is just down the street from us.

I ordered, gave my phone number and then hear this, “Mr. Mason, you have ten Loyalty dollars to spend, would you like to use them on this order?”

“What do you mean, Loyalty Dollars? I don’t have a loyalty card with you.”

“Yes you do, we keep track of your orders automatically, and award you whenever you get to a certain amount.”

“Ok,” I said, “Sure, take ten dollars off my bill!”

I went in and picked up the pizza and told the owner and the workers they were brilliant.

Why?

Because they gave a loyal customer the benefit of a loyalty program without even asking. I didn’t have to fill out a card, give an email address, pay a yearly fee, or (worst of all) carry around a card in my wallet to take advantage of the offer. The store simply kept track of my orders (they ask for your phone number whenever you call in an order, very reasonable, right?) and when I reached their awards tier, gave me store credit. That is good business. Working behind the scenes, without pomp and circumstance, without bugging the customer, without the customers knowledge, adding value and rewarding loyalty without prompting.

I think we can all – no matter our situation learn from this. If you are in business, what are you doing silently, without fanfare, to make your customers experience better, to reward faithful patronage? If you are pastoring a church or running a ministry, what are you doing in the background, unannounced, to add value to your congregations life? If your working a job, in middle management, or just starting out, what are you doing to make your boss’ life better? How about the customers you serve? What are you doing in your family without being asked or told, without even making it known, to make their lives better?

I don’t know if they were thinking this when they enacted this policy, but Lazzaras is practicing a principle that Jesus taught.

Matthew 6:1…”Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
3 “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 “that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

Doing something for your customers without them even knowing. That is simply brilliant.

When everyone else is looking for their slice of the pie, what are you doing to give someone an extra slice?

When I was a pastor, I always had something I did in the church that I told no one about. It was my private ministry between me and God. As a Missionary, I find there are many things that need done that I could budget money for, pay someone to do. But I do them because I can do a lot more than I tend to think. And so can you.

What are you quietly doing to add value, to help someone, to make a difference?

dave mason small signature

Diligence

hardworkaheadsign_thumb

He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand:
but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.
He that gathereth in summer is a wise son:
but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.
-Proverbs 10:4,5

Most of the time, we know exactly what to do.
There are multitudes of teachings, books, sermons and more about finding God’s Will for your life. As a Pastor one of the most frequent questions I fielded was “How do I know what Gods will for _____ is?” I think that perhaps the question is not a question, but an excuse, a way to avoid the obvious.
Scripture is clear on what is right and what is wrong. What is expected and what is commanded. I find in my life that when I am conflicted, often I’m actually just disobedient. We are commanded to be generous. So give expecting nothing in return. We are commanded to work hard. So labor for your substance, and for fruit that remains.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. – James 4:17

The details…do I go here, or there? Do I move or stay? They are just details. They get answered as we are obedient in the basics.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. – Galatians 6:9, 10

dave mason small signature

Heartbroken

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 12.25.19 PM

We were supposed to leave for Maryland Friday Morning. A trip home to see family, yes, but the purpose was to attend Dr. John Bond’s Funeral on Saturday Sept. 3.

This morning Patty and I made the decision not to leave. A Tropical Storm that may strengthen into a hurricane is making landfall in Florida later today, and the eye of the storm is scheduled to pass over Onslow and Duplin Counties Friday night. Heavy rains with localized flooding, and high winds are expected. I spent the first hours this morning on my home’s roof, nailing down and applying tar to loose shingles, getting it ready to take the first storm of the season.

Having never lived in North Carolina during storm season, we felt it would be unwise for us to leave our home and the Ministry Center during this storm. We may be needed here to manage any damage that may occur. Our hearts are broken though.

We missed the funeral of my good friend Clay Moorman in June. Now Dr. Bond’s. Two men who meant so much to both of us. But this is the life of following the call of God.

We like to think that following God means a marked decrease in pain, heartache and suffering. Sometimes that is true. But it is also true that following the call of God can be painful. We desperately want, we need the company of our friends to share memories, reminisce, and find the healing that only comes in a group setting. John Bond’s meant that much to us. But the Call of God means we have responsibilities we must attend to, even if it means forsaking family and friends.

Matthew 10:37-39… He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Think that’s hard of Jesus to say that? Listen to this:

Matthew 8:19-22… And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

I know this, that funerals are not for the deceased, they are for the living. I am not dishonoring Dr. Bond’s by not attending. He above all persons understands this. He gave his all for the ministry. He took nothing for himself, but poured back out to others everything the Lord gave to him. He would tell me to batten the hatches and take care of the ship God has entrusted to me.

I am duty bound, and bound by love to follow my Lord. As Doc would say, I am in His Bonds. But my heart still aches.

dave mason small signature

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.