I just can’t wait on this one

This blog entry doesn’t fall into chronological order but in the interest of arousing jealousy, I have decided to put it in early.

I had  planned with Mark Peterkins to make this our day to visit White Lake about an hour from Ottawa. I try to get there as often as I can and for about four months of the year it ranks as my favorite, must see and be places when in the Ottawa Valley. For the most part I have had good success fishing this lake. Apparently it has good stocks of pickerel (walleye), pike and small mouth bass but for the last several years I have caught nothing but large mouth – LOT’S of LARGE MOUTH.

My son in the faith, Mark and I launched his boat from Pickerel Bay at about two in the afternoon and by six in the evening had landed about twelve bass in rough, choppy waters. We did try to fish the edges or behind the shelter of an island but still found the brisk wind hard to reckon with.

Our launch

I will be honest and tell you that Mark picked off about five of the seven keepers but he had the unfair advantage of being at the helm with his right foot demonstrating a clear, self-interested bias as he directed us from place to place. He continued to leave me aft as he pitched a purple, rubber worm into one hole after another pulling out bass as he went. Most of the catch fell in the one and a half to two-pound range. The water is so clear and clean that I have at least one plate full every time I am here. Even as I type Jeanne is rolling the fish in egg, flour and cornmeal.

Friday

I slipped out of the door before 6:30 and went on out to Bell’s Corners where I would sip coffee at “Second Cup” until 7:15 when I would drive out to meet up with a Men’s Breakfast Club group from Chapel Ridge Free Methodist Church. They’ve been meeting for a number of years and I have imposed on their generosity a number of times in the past. Randy Morris always (without fail) invites me.

It was fun eating eggs, bacon and toast with these five or so guys. Randy Morris, Randy Haw, Stephen Kidd, Mike, Rob Walker, Jeff Robertson and David.

Bev, Alison and Chuck

Later, in the afternoon we ventured over to visit with some of our oldest and closest friends the Frankishes. Chuck is a doctor and was still at work so we managed a long catch up visit with Bev and Alison. Their son, Ian, though only in his third year is accepted to medical school in Calgary and already hard at work so we missed him (regrettably).

Finally, after a trip to Starbuck’s and back to their house again, Chuck arrived and Bev busied herself in making a huge meal of grilled chicken, steamed carrots, broccoli, salad, rolls and lots more that I forget right now. We spent a long time at the table and then, after we had covered most things and moved toward small talk, I turned them on to the comedian Brian Regan. We watched and giggled our way through about ten YouTube videos. Chuck’s favorites had to do with emergency wards, visits to the doctor and so forth.

It was a great time of fellowship and we wish we had more time on this visit – time to drive the five hours to their gorgeous cottage on Georgian Bay. However, our agenda has been set by the Lord. We are here to see as many people as we are able and hope to encourage them in the Lord. This little trip to the cottage will have to wait for some other time. The Frankishes are like family and the invitation remains open.

An Uptown Evening with Marianne

Downtown Ottawa is beautiful. When you’ve been away, you forget how spectacular the Parliament buildings, the Rideau Canal, and the unique shops around Byward Market are. On Thursday morning (Aug. 11) we drove down to try to find a bagel restaurant we remembered from years ago, but alas… it was no longer in business. When we walked through the Byward Market we did find another place that featured Montreal style bagels (if you’ve never had a wood-fired, Jewish style bagel, you’ve missed something) and had breakfast there.

David beheading Goliath

After checking out some stores, we walked on down to the National Art Museum located just blocks away. We couldn’t believe our luck – the Caravaggio exhibition was in town! Tony had wanted to see this Italian painter’s paintings (from the 1400s) in a collection for years, but the lines for his shows are always very long in Italy (because of all the tourists). So here we were, in Ottawa, Canada, seeing his paintings with no waits. Sometimes the blessings of God come in unexpected, small ways. His love for us is so amazing!

The French Bakery... Yummm

After a couple of hours we were pretty tired and ready for a coffee break. So we walked back to the Byward Market and sat down in a French market that featured amazing desserts, Obama cookies, fresh salads, soups, and really good coffee. We were pretty full from breakfast so just had some fresh fruit and a small salad with our coffee. Everywhere you look in downtown Ottawa, you see a kaleidoscope of ethnic people. Some are tourists, but most are residents who have come from all parts of the world.

The vendors who man the stalls of fresh fruit, vegetables, and Canadian favorites like maple syrup are mostly from Quebec but some farmers from Ontario also come in each day to set up and sell their home grown produce.

Jeanne with Marianne

One of our good friends from our time spent pastoring Chapel Ridge church lives downtown. Mary Ann Dooner, sister of Tracy Peterkins, owns a really cute townhouse in the Glebe, within walking distance of Bank Street. She has worked for the government for years and now has the luxury of working at home.

Classic Irish Pub Fare at Patty's on Bank Street

We arranged to meet her for supper on Thursday evening. She knew of a good Irish pub just blocks from her house where we enjoyed fish and chips and other

Over cappucino and gelato at Luna Stella

great entrees. After catching up with each other’s lives, we wandered on down the street to try a new ice cream  shop that just opened. The owner is from Rome and makes his own gelato, so we were not disappointed with our dessert of hazelnut gelato. Sadly, Mary Ann just ordered a cappucino. Oh for her self control! Sitting around in her charming townhouse that evening, Tony and I were reminded once again of the faithfulness of God to keep good friends close even when separated by many miles and lots of time in between our meetings. As we prayed with Mary Ann about her future, I wept as I thought about God’s promises to us – that He would be with us in every stage of life, even to our senior years (what Scripture calls our “gray hairs”). Thank you, Lord, for good friends who have continued to trust you and for your faithful care over all our lives.

Small Burning Bushes on the Backside of the Desert

When I was called to preach I had this idea that I might (by God’s grace) be the next Billy Graham or Jimmy Swaggart (thankfully, not). Well, it hasn’t quite gone that way – at least, so far, it hasn’t gone that way. I normally (actually, I never) preach to conference halls or stadiums full of expectant and admiring mass gatherings. My work is ALWAYS in a basement, a home, a tiny, hard-to-find church in the country, café or hot, stuffy, upstairs rooms that sits atop something like an auto body shop.

Like anyone, I would love to preach to huge audiences but the Lord told me a long time ago that I am called to serve “the back side of the desert.” I suppose someone has to go there and most people won’t, preferring to be the key note speaker at major events. My rule has always been to take whatever invitation comes my way. This means small churches in places like Parham, Ontario to Svinvoll (Pigville to be precise), Norway; Wyoming, Minnesota; and a hundred other places that barely show up on a map.

Upon hearing that I would be available to preach the week of August 7th, my agent and good friend Pastor Ken Roth of Chapel Ridge Free Methodist Church, scheduled me to preach on Wednesday night at a Haitian church plant in the east side of Ottawa. When we arrived in front of a community center the parking lot was packed with cars. There happened to be a carnival on the same evening so I jumped out of the car and ran up the stairs to a small room where singing was already in progress. I entered the room where there were as many microphones as there were people. We were still in a David and Goliath situation with the neon lit rides having far more appeal than conga drums and synthesizers. Nevertheless, the Haitians went right ahead singing with all their might until about twenty or so people arrived. An hour and a half later, I rose to preach for about thirty minutes with translation.

I was surprised at how similar the Haitian meeting was when compared to the Congolese services I led in Charlotte some months before. Though continents apart they turn out to have a lot in common. The style of music and French language were almost identical. I doubt if they know this and thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if they could have a shared experience of visiting each other’s churches.”

After the service we stayed for sandwiches and soft drinks and then made our way back home by 10:30.

“OLD FRIENDS” by Bill Gaither

This trip to Canada had for us one purpose and that was to revisit our many old friends and encourage them in the faith. Almost every night has been blessed with supper in one home or another. We started this journey almost forty years ago and along the way have picked up a hundred relationships which, quite honestly, turn out to be closer than family.

Except for the occasional short visit we have been away from the Ottawa Valley for nearly sixteen years. It seems remarkable to me that we step back into these friendships without a glitch, as though no time has passed at all. We have picked up right where we have left off.

In these blogs you will meet just a fraction of these dear friends. We wish you could know them as we do. Many have been loyal for almost forty years. Our children grew up with their children. Frankly, we have gone through “STUFF” together. We are woven together in the bundle of life.

Old friends, after all of these years,

just old friends, through laughter and tears,

old friends, what a find, what a priceless treasure,

old friends, like a rare piece of gold,

my old friends, make it great to grow old,

old friends, with all I will hold to old friends.

Now God must have known,

there’d be days on our own,

we would lose the will to go on,

that’s why he sent,  friends like you along.

Old friends, you’ve always been there,

my old friends, we’ve had more than our share,

old friends, we’re all millionaires, in old friends.

Mission Commission at Chapel Ridge

Six Short-Term Missionaries are Commissioned

072 Regrettably, many churches have lost interest in fulfilling Jesus’ last command to, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.”  The good news is –  there are still a number of “Great Commission” congregations and Chapel Ridge is one of them. On this particular October Sunday six were sent out on assignments ranging from the Arab world to street people and local prison inmates.

Here in this picture Pastor Ken Roth hands the microphone to ACCI intercessor, Ray Borg who prays for Tony Hedrick , J and A who will be serving in Italy and Slovenia. Following, he commissioned Lauren Carrion and Leslie Brune (her mother, Debbie Narraway stood in for Leslie in her absence) who will be serving workers in Uganda, Zambia, Dubai, Turkey, Italy and England. Finally, he prayed for ACCI’s leadership, John and Amy Haley along with Eliane Guite an ACCI missionary who serves both locally and abroad. IMG_8108In the background we see the Chapel Ridge SAS  (Serving as Senders) Team laying hands on those going out. This is always an emotionally moving moment. “Those who wait also serve.” 

Chapel Ridge’s 25th Anniversary Legacy Party

Over two hundred were in attendance at the dessert fellowship.

Over two hundred were in attendance at the dessert fellowship.

Guests enjoyed outstanding desserts as they recalled the various milestones, miracles and stories of twenty-five years collectively serving Christ in the region.

Numerable tales of God’s provision were recounted as well as recalling the numbers of those who have been married, baptized, converted, trained and sent out into ministries through this “life-giving” congregation. 

Later in the service I spoke on “The Spirit of Caleb,” and how this church did not listen to the voices of doubt. Together we accomplished what could not be done without the aid of God. I went on to further say that, ” I did not know of a single church of this size that has even come close to the contributions to the Kingdom that Chapel Ridge has made. Chapel Ridge has sent out more missionaries, started more ministries and congregations, trained and deployed more pastors and leaders than any other I know of. These people have truly been spent in extending the Kingdom of God. The ongoing impact of Chapel Ridge is literally being felt around the world.

A River… not a Reservoir

I am proud to say that I have known and served this band of people and even though many have moved on to other congregations and new people have arrived, Chapel Ridge is content to have been a river instead of a reservoir. The weekend was a great time of renewing old acquaintances and catching up on the latest news.

Preaching at Chapel Ridge’s 25th Anniversary

Sunday morning at Chapel Ridge.

“Like Jumping to Capri.”

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/2237779/highlight/19612

Jeanne and I drove to Ottawa, Canada where we took part in the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Celebration of the church we began. It was wonderful seeing many old friends and partnering with Ken and Linda Roth, the present pastor and his wife. We took part in four meetings with Jeanne speaking to sixty women on Saturday morning.

On Saturday evening the church had a dessert fellowship with a audio-visual historical presentation and a time of sharing memories. I spoke on, “The Spirit of Caleb,” and how Chapel Ridge went up against the fortified cities – cities filled with giants. It was exciting to review the amazing world impact Chapel Ridge has had during it’s brief history. I know of no other church of its size that has launched as many churches, ministries, pastoral careers and missionaries as Chapel Ridge. Truly, CR has been and is apostolic Christianity.

The John Greenhouse Epiphany, by Tony Hedrick

John Greenhouse’s epiphany has come too late…

THe good lord never takes from any man the time he spends fish’un

This is it.

This is it.

Perhaps many folks out there have come to know that you, John, finally, at this late date, have become quite a competent tracker of the elusive salmon and the wily lake trout.

 

 

 

I admit to some envy, especially when I consider that stretch of water just below your summer house at Tobermory. What is disappointing for me is to think that, for years, you rose in the early morning and took your tea on the deck but rarely dangled a line until that July day when I demonstrated for you the art of the catch. People have no idea as to how you established yourself as a fisherman. That’s the purpose of this snippet.

 

There was a time when John simply had no clue regarding such manly things as down riggun, spoons, knots, filleting, and so forth. He didn’t – but knew that I did. Being as modest I am, I didn’t want to gloat each time I was in his presence. But it had been reported by my children, on more than one occasion, how proficient I was at bringing home stringers of bass, crappie, catfish, walleye, well… let me just cut to the chase… almost any fresh water species.

 

Nevertheless, John, living but a stone’s throw from the Grand Canyon of sport fishing did come under some conviction about wasting this resource that lay right before him. He knew full well that other men spoke disparagingly about him behind his back. He was aware that Japanese and Italians, with an outlay of thousands of dollars, made trips just for the experience that he ignored. He knew that the majority of his male friends would trade their penthouse apartments, grand urban lives, exclusive clubs, and gourmet dining with him in a moment. “If only I could simply rise, slip into a sunlit but misty morning and calm sea! If I could but just lean back, and putter along. If only I had a little boat with a 35 horse Merk.” But here, in their view, is an undeserving man who doesn’t even recognize the word Merk.

 

John is, for the most part, a man trim and angular, hardly looking his age, one who could handily take on a thirty-year-old on the tennis court, ride his bike twenty miles to work each day, and still… he did not even own a child’s tackle box. Embarrassingly, it would take most of the day for him to dig out enough gear to catch a perch. That was how it was until I came to visit.

 

It was the day after the wedding of my youngest son, Matt, to Noemi in rural Orangeville. The entire family had come, some from as far away as Texas. John and Jane, being more gracious and obligated than thoughtful invited all of us up for a few days at the cottage.

 

To be honest, I felt a little overwhelmed by the idea. Loving to fish, recognizing the opportunity, yet bringing no equipment, and knowing that John Greenhouse would likely have none I arrived on the scene with a certain despair of heart. This would be akin to going to Paris for a week and staying in your Best Western hotel room for the entire time.

 

John and Jane have these twin boys (they appear to have become young men now) who have as little sense as their father about what it takes to catch any noteworthy fish. But after a day or so my reputation began to come to the surface of their conversations. They wanted to know if I might take them out and show them how to catch trophy salmon like other people on the fishing charters do.  My first thought was to recommend a local charter but this went nowhere – as anyone who knows the Greenhouses might imagine. The Greenhouses are not known to squander money. Hence, they have a summer home on a magnificent point overlooking Georgian Bay and I do not. I have fish stories; they have a cottage on the lake. This trait of frugality had meandered its way into the genes of Ben and Alden, who couldn’t see parting from their money, especially since they have a sea worthy aluminum fourteen footer that should easily do for us what we need.

 

Now, it was encouraging to discover by observation that the boat was not all that bad. Still, I had trouble visualizing three fellows, one of Chesterton proportions, all jammed into a small dinghy. Further still, I thought that the idea of any fish on the line might jeopardize the lives of all.  Unknown to the boys, this is one of the reasons people spend money on twenty-two foot charter boats. Large salmon are not willing to be caught and one might expect the kind of action and unbridled enthusiasm that would capsize boats of lesser size.

 

They did demonstrate that the motor would start – a good beginning. I saw no way to convince them that their likelihood of being successful ranged somewhere between unimaginable to impossible. In their minds, a man of my reputation would surely require, even prefer, less accommodation than the novices who luxuriously cruise back and forth, six lines out, in front of their cottage.

 

As we surveyed the boat down in the cove John, the senior Greenhouse, optimistically trotted down to the shoreline to tell us that we should buy a net. He didn’t have a net. It seemed that a net was somehow important to him, but Down rigger wasn’t. A couple of sixteen-foot rods with sturdy open­-faced reels, copper leads, and assorted four inch spoons weren’t. But, yep, no doubt about it, we’d definitely need a net if we intended to land a big one.

 

“Let’s go to the store! There’s a bait shop up on the highway!” This is when I felt that it was safe to inquire, “Do you have any down rigger?” After describing what we’d have to come up with the boys, who are reasonably handy, thought that they could fabricate something while John and I were gone. I explained that salmon run in 58 degree Fahrenheit water and that, if we wanted to have any chance at all, then we would have to stabilize our lines down at sometimes as much as eighty feet deeps. Being Canadians of another generation they were busy converting Fahrenheit and inches into Celsius and meters, missing my point entirely. The point being: Without adequate down rigger every other consideration is silenced.

 

Off to the store we went.

 

John was almost giddy with excitement. If nothing else, the Greenhouse’ are experts at three  things, all of which I have virtually no interest in. They enjoy hikes (not walks… HIKES) after big meals, complicated (and sometimes homemade) board games, and projects that require tools they do not own. The joy for them is in devising the tools.

 

Well, after John insisted on a BIG net, an outlay of more money that I thought he was capable of spending at one time, we headed back to see what the boys had come up with.

 

There they were. Somehow they had done it! They had managed to jerri-rig not just one down rigger, but two lures, one just about four feet above the other. They figured this out on their own and I was impressed with their common sense and ingenuity. I began to think that all of this should, at least, make them feel as though they were fishing.

 

“Now boys, “ said I, “How are we gonna set our rod? We need some sort of mount whereby we can stick the butt end of the pole into it. We want to down rig the bait and then we want to watch the end of the pole. When she gets a hit, we’ll want to know it! The whole end of the rod will jump and quiver. This is how we know to grab the rod up and set our hook.” I said all of this to make them feel good.

 

At this, John rushed to the garage to fetch a piece of four-foot PVC pipe and a 3/8″ rope. When he reached us, without a word, he began to lash it to the middle seat support of the boat and then said, “There, we have it! This should provide a rather serviceable rod mount.”

 

There was certain ugliness to all of this. In spite of the fact that fishermen handle night crawlers and leeches there is still a twisted sophistication about the sport. Though nothing like the decorum attached to cricket, people out there on the lake can spot the skilled angler in a heartbeat. The right attire and equipment signal to all who pass by that you know what you are doing – that you are “one of them.” To be frank, I just really didn’t want to do this.

 

Well, as I began to stretch my arm through the life vest, one of the twins reached out, touched me, and then half humorously said, “When are you going to pray? Don’t you pray before you fish? I mean, don’t you ask God to help you catch a fish or something?” I am, as you know, an ordained minister and the boys who had, on occasion, sat through my rather lengthy sermons thought that this might be a legitimate question to pose. I confess to having boasted about my deep spirituality.

 

Nevertheless, I was surprised to hear either of them make the suggestion at all. All along, I had been convinced that little that I ever said caught their attention. They, to my recollection, had never commented back anything significant from any of the sermons they were forced to sit through. Oh, on second thought, there was one line that did recall and repeat back to me. I’m not sure if it was Alden or Ben but one of them did remember that I once made the facetious statement, “Every man’s a bachelor a hundred miles from home.” Whichever one it was (back then I could never tell them apart) he never forgot it. His wife should take note of how embedded in his subconscious this line is. 

 

To satisfy their leering eyes and waiting ears, I mumbled some brief utterance, asking God to help us in our quest. We struggled into our life jackets, fell over one another into the boat, and launched out into the bay. One press of the ignition and the boat heaved in the direction of the open reach.

 

Out there in the open sea it is hard to hide from others your gypsy-like appearance. Smug captains drifted by and did what they could to look the other way. Their wake threw us one-way and then the other. Finally, when we were alone, we put out our line, set our course, and began to troll with the pole arched out of the PVC pipe lashed to the seat.

 

The long day was beginning to close. I could see my aged mother – who loves fishing – walk this way and that way. Every time we circled to go the other direction she would turn and march along with us on the cottage deck three hundred yards away. With her hand over her eyes to block the sun she squinted at us. Perhaps she was saying prayers of her own but she was definitely a silent encouragement to our pathetic venture.

 

“I think we just got a hit!” I remember shouting. “Yer kiddin,” came the reply. “No, I’m serious. Yes, it is! It’s a fish!” Real fishermen shout some obscenity at this point but I refrained. I grabbed the pole with both hands, lifted it from the PVC pipe, quickly turned the reel, pulled up the slack in what line I could, all as I was snapping the end of the pole in an attempt to set the hook.

 

The boys were beside themselves and shouting as I reported it to be a “BIG” one. Off went the drag and they could see the line whiz into the water. Now the boat was unsteady and tossing as the two jumped to see what they could do. One grabbed the recently purchased net while I thrust the pole into the hands of the other and yelled in a deep southern accent, “Keep the end of the pole up, play ‘em, play ‘em. Give ‘em a little and then take in a little! Take yer time. Yer in no hurry. Yah wanna wear ‘em down.” (When I’m excited I find that my southern upbringing returns) By now we were all clapping. My mother was screaming from the Greenhouse deck, “Come quick! Come quick! They got one!” We could see that faces were filling the windows and others began pouring out of the patio doors. By now everyone was in an uproar. We turned and casually waved in their direction, as though we knew exactly what we were doing.

 

“There she is! See her? Gosh, she’s a big’un!” With this, the fish came close to the boat and the net was pressed into service – a miss, and then another lunge. Down she went with the reel steaming and screaming behind her.  With all of the noise, yelling, and screaming the large cruisers, which had before wanted to be out of our way, were finding their way back into line and as one took up position they radioed the others that “some fellas down here are having some dumb luck.” Soon the scoffers, who had snickered at three big men in a small boat and our PVC pipe pole mounts, were leaning out over the sides trying to gain a better look.

 

Within minutes we had all seventeen pounds and four ounces of her in the net and on board. After sufficient congratulations all around and salutes to our family and friends on shore we did not hesitate to make our way back, anticipating a certain amount of praise and looking forward to the requirements to go over every detail of how we did it.

 

That night we all sat down to fifteen charcoaled salmon steaks and made a great deal of the fact that without John’s net we would have never landed that hog. John is normally a rather understated personality but we could tell that he enjoyed his part in the catch.

 

Well, this little success has set John back financially. Unbeknown to Jane, John has developed an addiction of sorts. He now has this compulsion to frequently stop at Canadian Tire stores where he buys unnecessary fishing lures, takes them out of the bag, destroys the receipts so that Jane doesn’t find out, breaks the lures out of the blister packs, and hides them under the seat of his Suburban. The truth is, he doesn’t know what some of these things are or what they will do. Anyone hearing this now can simply take a flashlight, go out to his car, open the door, and peer under the seat to see if what I say isn’t true.

Thunder Bay Family and Ministry Visit

Yes, she's cute! My oldest grand daughter, Alysha at twelve. The Hedrick's took me out for my birthday supper. Here I caught Alysha charming her dad. She is able to sap him of all strength.

 

 

My oldest grand daughter, Alysha at thirteen. The Hedrick’s took me out for my birthday supper. Here, I caught Alysha charming her dad. She is able to sap him of all strength.

Regrettably, the Sky and Angie Hedrick clan of Thunder Bay, Ontario didn’t make it down for the reunion so I went up to see them over the weekend and in the process of having a good visit, preached at Grassroots Church where they attend. 

One of my all time favorite people. My grandson Justin at fifteen. He is a very likeable and principled young man.

One of my all time favorite people. My grandson Justin at fifteen. He is a very likeable and principled young man.

 Sky and Angie oversee a “heart of the city” ministry in downtown Thunder Bay. They reach out to the homeless and marginalized, many of whom are First Nation peoples.  Every week hundreds of the hurting and disenfranchised drop in for coffee and encouragement. They are doing an amazing thing and real pioneers!

GRASSROOTS COMMUNITY

I have known the Grassroots people for almost six or seven years. Pastor Chris and his wife Shawnee are among my dearest friends. They began with a handfull of friends and in a few years have managed to grow to a congregation of nearly 140 people.

The new home of the Grassroots Community on Balmoral Street.

The new home of the Grassroots Community on Balmoral Street.

 They, for a period of about six years hosted a residential training school called “Great Commission Bible Institute” where I have taught on many occasions. They took a “Through the Bible” approach and produced some exemplary believers. Just recently they were able to assume a large and well equipped building where they hope to begin the school again. I am glad to have been a part of their work and hope I continue to contribute to their influence and growth. 

Interior Sunday morning view of Grassroots at worship. I preached there on Sunday morning to a crowd of about 100 or more. Simple, relevant and Authentic. If ever in Thunder Bay, grassroots is a good place to hang your hat.

Interior Sunday morning view of Grassroots at worship. I preached there on Sunday morning to a crowd of about 100 or more. Simple, relevant and Authentic. If ever in Thunder Bay, Grassroots is a good place to hang your hat.