Finis, Who Finished His Course

Lt. Finis Ewing Harris, Jr (USAAF)

Finis Ewing Harris, Jr. was the oldest son and named after his father, an attorney and judge in Cookeville, Tennessee. “Finis,” Latin for “the end,” was a fitting name for the father, who was the last of 12 children. However, the name was a misnomer for the first of three sons born to Finis and Margaret Harris. Finis was my wife’s uncle. One she never knew because of his service to our country. One whose grave she nor her family ever visited. One who laid down his life in the defense of his “friends.”

When WWII came, all three sons wanted to do their patriotic duty and the older two were fully trained and deployed to the battle. It was reported that Finis completed his advanced air training at Pampa, Texas, where he received his wings in the U.S. Army Air Force in May 1943. He went to England in August 1943, piloted a B26. He was later transferred to a B-17 Flying Fortress with the 305th Bomb Group (Heavy), nicknamed “Can Do.” The Group base was at Cheverston, England, from which they flew 337 missions in 9,321 sorties and dropped 22,363 tons of bombs. During their tour of duty the Group lost 154 aircraft.

Stories of Finis’ final flight were somewhat muddled when I came into the family. Myra, my wife, thought the plane that Finis piloted crashed as he was on a training flight with his replacement pilot. A bit of internet digging three years ago led me to a much different story. Thanks to the websites Find a Grave, American Air Museum in Britain, Sywell Aviation Museum and other searches, I was able to piece together the real story of his crash, as well as update some sites with the information they lacked.

Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster awarded to Finis Ewing Harris Jr., B-17 pilot

Although a page is missing from the crash report from the lone survivor, this is what I have been able to pull together from various reports on Finis’ death. He was a part of a bombing run over Kassel, Germany on December 15, 1944, where 344 planes had successfully targeted the town’s railway marshalling yards and tank factory. However, his plane sustained major flak damage and Finis piloted the B-17 back to the base with the number one engine out. Flying in “zero-zero” weather conditions, Finis and another B-17 flew in tandem back over the coast of England. Concerned about his ability to land the plane, Finis told the crew to bail out if inclined. Only one, the tail gunner, did. While trying to land using radio beacons, both planes hit the wires of the Air Ministry Gee Mast at Borough Hill, Daventry. The Gee Network was a system of radio beacons that were used by pilots to navigate over Germany. The other plane was able to fly through the wires and land with bits of wire still attached to the plane. The farmer, into whose field Finis’ plane crashed, saw it hit the stay of the radar mast in the fog. A wing was ripped from their plane, and the plane hit the ground a few seconds later. He and the eight remaining crew members (John Griffin, R.L. Mason, Laverne Ridge, Herschel McCoy, Cliff Melton, Robert L. Burry, Willie Barnes, and Charles Nordland) were killed in the crash.

Memorial Plaque, Daventry War Memorial, Dedicated August 23, 2015

On August 23, 2015, a memorial plaque was unveiled, located in the garden at Daventry War Memorial. In attendance were Sgt. Burry’s son, Peter Searle, and granddaughter, Rebecca Saywell. Burry was the ball turret gunner and Peter’s English mother was pregnant with him at the time of the crash, delivering him six weeks later. Additionally, an excavation of the crash site was conducted in recent year and items from the site were displayed at the Sywell Aviation Museum in Daventry. Items included the navigator’s hat that was taken from the original crash site by some school boys.

Tragically, Finis’ younger brother, Cpl Perry Rowe Harris of the 498th Bomber Squadron, 345th Bomber Group, (B-25), was killed in action on November 12, 1944 in the Philippines just weeks before Finis. His death notice was received at Christmastime, preceding his brother’s by a week. This news report comes from their hometown newspaper.

Judge and Mrs. Finis E. Harris received a telegram this week from the War Department stating that another son, Lieut, Finis E. Harris, Jr., was killed in England on December 15, 1944. Only last week, a message was received by Judge and Mrs. Harris from the War Department, stating that Cpl. Perry Rowe Harris was killed in action on Leyte, in the Philippines. Another son, Mark E. Harris, who is in training in the Army Air Corps, in Nashville, is seriously ill with pneumonia. Judge and Mrs.Harris have the sympathy of the people of Cookeville and the entire Upper Cumberland in this sad hour. The three brothers volunteered for service in the Army Air Corps.

Putnam County Herald, Cookeville, Tennessee, 1/4/1945
Finis’ marker with a penny, symbolizing the visit of a loved one. (Photo and penny courtesy of Amy Maranto)

Finis was buried at the Cambridge American Cemetery. Apparently at the time of their deaths, only Finis could have been returned for burial in the U.S. Their mother, Margaret, said of the decision to have Finis remain in England: “It would not be fair to bring one son home and not the other.” However, every time she heard the whistle of a train that was known to be bringing home the remains of a Cookeville native son, she wept over the loss of her boys.

Thus, the brothers lay in graves half a world apart and to our knowledge no relative has ever visited their graves. However, I am indebted to fellow blogger Amy Maranto. After seeing her photos of the American Cemetery in Cambridge from an early 2019 post, I emailed her about Finis. She said that a trip would be planned again in the next few months and that she would take some pictures. Additionally, I asked her to be the family proxy and leave a penny on his marker…the symbol of a loved one’s visit to the grave. Not only did she take pictures, but so did her daughter, who was working there as a school experience. Amy wrote: “When next of kin visit, they clean the grave marker and rub it with the sand from one of the Normandy beaches. Since she was going to be hosting a visiting next of kin family the next day, they told her to pick a marker to practice putting the sand in. She knew I was working on these photos, so she chose Finis to clean.” The sand she chose was from Omaha Beach!

Finis’ marker with sand from Omaha beach rubbed into the lettering. (Photo courtesy of Maranto Photography)

Finis and Perry are among the approximately 130,000 soldiers who are interred in 27 American military cemeteries in ten foreign countries, managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission. Over 90,000 U.S. service members, who were missing in action, or lost or buried at sea, are memorialized at these cemeteries. Still thousands of other military dead are in unmarked or mass graves and private cemeteries. I wonder how many of those soldiers, like the Harris brothers, have never had a family member visit their resting places.

Thanks to our Veterans, who have sacrificed so much as they put their lives on the line in the defense for ours and our allies countries. Thanks to the families, who endured periods of absence of their soldiers. A special word goes to those families who mourn their sons and daughters, who gave the ultimate sacrifice. ” Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 (NIV).

Check out Amy Maranto’s post Veterans Day

Celebrating Al’s Birthday

I appreciated my church allowing my wife and me to take off a long weekend in February. It enabled us to go to Fort Worth for two reasons. Of course, seeing the grandchildren was tops, but the second reason was just

Anna with Al (1982)

as special to us. Several months ago we received an invitation to celebrate the 90th birthday of Al Anisowicz, who we have known for 40 years. Al and his wife, Robbie, were some of the first people we met at North Fort Worth Baptist Church while I was in seminary. We had a 10-month old daughter, who we entrusted to Robbie’s care in the nursery while we went to Sunday School. She and Al then “adopted” Anna and additionally our other two daughters, who were born during our time there, as their granddaughters. Their own grandchildren were not in Texas, so our daughters met the need they had to “love on” some babies. We have maintained that relationship over the years and they even made two trips to Iowa as Al played in senior softball tournaments into his 70’s. 

Me, Al, Anna’s daughter, Charlie and Myra

It is not a misrepresentation to say that Al and Robbie were the main reasons we joined that church. Yes, I wanted good, biblical preaching, but that was available in a number of churches that were much closer to the seminary. However, we were away from family and significant connections, and this retired couple reached out in significant ways to show the love and care of Christ. For that reason, I was compelled to give some time, travel and TLC to the man, now a widower and dealing with cancer, and reciprocate the love he showed to my family and me.

Al and Robbie remind me of some of the simple ways we as church can make an impact on the lives of people. Don’t underestimate the importance of a warm greeting, remembering a name, dropping off a meal or offering to babysit.  Simple acts of love expressed to someone at any age can have an eternal impact.

10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. -Romans 12:10-13 (NASB)

We also took in the Cowtown Marathon, but that’s a story for another post! 

Al with daughter, Linda, and son, Mike

Thanks to Our Veterans

Lt Cmdr Charles Spindler (Navy Reserves) on the wing of his North American FJ-3 Fury at Naval Air Station Fallon, 1960

As I type these words, I hear the singing voices of kindergarten – 8th grade students of Mayflower Heritage Christian School as they prepare for a Veterans Day program, which they hold annually. Tomorrow, men and women who have served our country in war and peace will be in attendance. The oldest honorees will be Korean War veterans and the youngest have served in our conflicts in the Middle East. This is a rich learning experience for these young people as the Veterans share their stories of service. Already, two of the graduates of this small Christian school that began in 2001 are serving in the Air Force and one in the Army. We are a people who love God and country and believe that our allegiances fall in that order. We are definitely patriotic and appreciate those who have and are serving in our military!

Many of us have been affected and influenced personally by veterans, living and dead. My father, a WWII veteran, was a Navy fighter pilot, whose orders were changed before going to the Pacific Ocean theater. Remaining stateside for the duration of the war, his previous profession as a teacher translated into an assignment as a flight instructor. That change in orders, while initially upsetting to him, likely saved his life. He remained in the Navy Reserves after the war, and ultimately flew jet fighters. I was always proud to see my father in his uniform and wondered why the military guards at the base gates knew to salute him as an officer when he was in his civilian clothes. Little did I know that the military decal tipped them off, differentiating the vehicles of officers and non-commissioned personnel.

My wife’s family experienced the ultimate sacrifice, her dad losing his two older brothers within a month of 20180526-Perryone another in 1944. The middle brother, Cpl Perry Rowe Harris, was on board a ship that was attacked by the Japanese. He sustained mortal wounds and was ultimately buried at the American National Cemetery in Manila, Philippines.

Lt. Finis Ewing Harris, Jr., the oldest brother, was a B-17 pilot. His plane was hit by flak in a daytime bombing run over Kassel, Germany on20180526-Finis2 December 15, 1944. He struggled to return the plane to the American base in England. Once over land and enshrouded by fog, he encouraged his crew to bail out, knowing that he would likely be unsuccessful in landing the injured B-17. Only one crew member did and almost immediately, while trying to land using radio beacons, one wing hit the stay of the Air Ministry Gee Mast at Borough Hill, Daventry. The plane spun into the ground and the nine remaining crew members were killed in the crash.

Uncles, brothers-in-law and nephews have also served in peace and conflict. Military service forever changes people. Young people, who go off to military service, whether it be wartime or peacetime, come back with life experiences that the general public will never have. They are trained to do things that most of us will never have to consider doing. They see, hear, smell and touch things in prolonged and real time that if we DO see are only through the medium of video or print, in short exposures that might impact us, but not with the full force of those in action.

Consequently, those of us who have and continue to benefit from the service of our military owe them our thanks and recognition on days like today and beyond. I try to go out of my way to make sure I thank a person wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” cap. I contribute to the Honor Flights that allow veterans to travel to the War Memorials in Washington, D.C., enabling them to find a honor and closure. We owe them the continued support to help them with the wounds, visible and invisible, that many have sustained through their service to our country.

Mayflower Heritage Christian School students seeing off Vietnam Veterans as they leave Creston, IA on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

Thank you for your service, Veterans!

Fox Family

I’m indebted to a friend who lives a few miles out in the country for alerting me to the news that a fox family had taken up residence in a roll of round hay bales. He observed the kits (pups, cubs) frolicking around the area. I’ve been rewarded with some fun pics and memories as I’ve watched this litter of three grow._IMG4089-4-1_IMG4092-4-1_IMG4055-3-1_IMG4752-1

Mom always keeps a watchful eye and one evening implied it was time for me to leave!

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Here’s just a little bit of video of their play!

Running to Win

I mentioned in my previous blog about our trip to Fort Worth, and that I wanted to tell you about an event we watched transpire in front of my daughter’s home. The Cowtown Marathon course runs right through her neighborhood. The residents were up early, preparing water, bananas, band aids, and even beer (for carbs) for the runners.  It is quite a festive time for the spectators who use it as a time to “party” while cheering on the runners.

What caught my attention was the transformation of individuals from the first runner to the last ones who passed this 17 mile mark of this 26.2 mile run.  The first runner ran by us with just over a five minute per mile pace. The last ones came strolling by four hours later (a 19 minute per mile pace) with an obvious “eat, drink and be merry” attitude, apparently imbibing in every treat that was offered along the route.  Appearing out of shape, improperly dressed and walking, these last ones were a stark contrast from the disciplined, serious leaders.

It reminded me of the spiritual pace of which Paul spoke in 1 Corinthians 9:24-26: Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim.

While only one may win an earthly race, every Christian can win the eternal race for we don’t compete against each other. The man of faith fights against the devil, the flesh and the world. He wins as they lose—A.W. Tozer. Our heavenly reward will be awaiting us if we run with a commitment to overcome these tempting foes!

Warren Wiersbe said: Of course, it is much easier to be a spectator than a participant—except when the event is over and they give out the prizes. Then we will wish we had gotten out of the stands and joined the team. It isn’t too late to start running.

How are you running the spiritual race? Is it with an aim for the finish line or a leisurely stroll, imbibing in all the world has to offer? Let’s make sure we are not just spectators, but participants in the most important marathon of our lives!  Let’s cheer one another on is this race!

It’s a Wonderful Life

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Today is the third anniversary of the death of my brother-in-law, Dr. Marvin Leibovich. Because I was the only boy with four older sisters, the addition of each new brother-in-law was a welcomed event. He and my sister had three sons, whose ages closely mirrored my own daughters. Consequently, there was a close connection between our families. Here is my oldest daughter’s expression of her special memories of Marvin on the day of his death on October 5, 2015.

My uncle died early this morning, and while I said my tearful goodbyes to him in August, still nothing can prepare you for the finality of life.

I’ve been thinking on his life for the past month as we knew the end was near and even though his obituary is FULL of his amazing accomplishments on this Earth, it is the little things that I will miss and cherish and learn from, as his niece.

Continue at It’s a Wonderful Life

To My Teachers

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As  I looked out my window on this rainy Sunday evening, I saw cars in our church parking lot. No, I’m not skipping services. The cars represent the teachers who are spending another evening in preparation for the students who will be arriving at Mayflower Heritage Christian School on Tuesday. They are a dedicated lot and strive to ensure that their students master their course work as well as develop a Christian worldview.

My daughter, Anna, relates her gratitude to those teachers who made a tremendous influence in her life through their “asks” and affirmations. To all my teacher friends, let me suggest these encouraging words to you at the following link: To My Teachers

Pass It On

After purchasing five items on a friend’s baby registry, I noticed that only one had been duly noted as a registry item on the receipt, resulting in only one gift receipt.  I took the receipt back to Target and went to the customer service desk. The employee was uncertain of how to handle it so she made a quick call, grasped the instructions and hung up. What took place next was fascinating to me. She called a nearby associate over and explained what had brought me back to Target. Next, she explained to the associate the steps she was going through to properly adjust both my receipt and the gift registry. I commented to her that she was doing a great job of training others. Now I don’t know if that is a company practice or just the employee’s. Nevertheless, it is exactly the practice that every follower of Christ should take.

Paul instructed his “son in the faith” in 2 Timothy 2:2:

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

That is the mandate of Christ in a nutshell. We are to make disciples, who will make disciples, who will make disciples ad infinitum. Each professing believer in Jesus Christ is expected to carry out that mandate…it’s not a preacher/missionary role…it’s a believer’s responsibility. So, what should be expected?

In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus said:

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The phrase “make disciples” is the only command and the other action steps support the command. The first question that needs to be answered is “who is a disciple?” Simply put a disciple is one who represents the master in every way…actions, attitudes, mindset, etc. So, Jesus wanted his disciples to make those who would be living, breathing examples of Christ in his absence following his ascension to heaven. Fortunately, his Spirit is available to help us accomplish that task. In Act 1:8 he promised:

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

So, making disciples under the power of the Holy Spirit is our mandate. How then do we do that? We are told to baptize them. Baptism signals the culmination of a radical enlistment into relationship with God through Christ Jesus. We might consider everything from our example of Christ-likeness that causes one to be attracted to Christ in the first place up to the point as which they profess Jesus as their Lord to be part of the initial disciple-making process. The saying, “You may be the only Bible some people read,” applies to the early stages of witnessing to others about our faith in Jesus. While we may call this evangelism (which literally means “good news-ing”), this is where discipleship begins. Timothy, while in the presence of Paul, repeatedly heard him tell the story of his own conversion and the way in which a person came to know Christ as his personal Savior. This is part of what Paul expected Timothy to “entrust to faithful men” as part of their witness.

However, once one comes into that personal relationship with Christ, the job of the disciple-maker is not finished. What parent abandons a child after delivering that new life? Certainly not one who cares and loves and understands the role of a parent. And while they may not know the full ramifications of parenthood, they still know the basics by what has been done for them by their own experiences of being raised by their parents/guardians. Now here is where we may get into trouble with the analogy because not all have had ideal examples, and their own parenting may be severely flawed and limited based upon their role models. However, here we look to the model of Christ, and there are an abundance of materials, foremost being the Bible, showing us how we should make disciples. The Gospels are full of examples of how Jesus taught his followers to obey his commands, so study carefully Christ’s example.

There is hardly a Christian who could not in some form or fashion take on a young believer and begin meeting with them to share what God has taught them from his Word about any number of disciplines of the Christian life (*see below for a list excerpted from Herb Hodges’ book Fox Fever). To not do so leaves many baby Christians to flounder for their own spiritual nourishment and growth.

Will you be one who gives a “bottle” of elementary teachings to a new born believer? Will you be the one who begins to spoon feed that young believer the solid food of God’s Word. Will you be the one who models to that growing believer what it takes to be a self-feeder by learning the disciplines of Bible study, prayer, fellowship, etc. Will you be the one to help them learn the “facts of life,” encouraging them in the multiplicative process of making disciples? Sometimes it is as simple as calling someone beside you after you have learned something new from the Lord and saying, “Look what I’ve just learned!”

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*Seven Categories of Truth to Teach a Disciple

Christian Themes Curriculum Development

  1. Devotional Category – training in the means and mechanics of a daily personal devotional life.
  • How to have an efficient and powerful Daily Quiet Time with God.
  • How to view the Bible structurally, how to read the Bible daily, how to study the Bible meaningfully, how to journal the Bible regularly, how to apply the Bible practically, how to teach the Bible captivatingly, how to incarnate the Bible personally, etc.
  • How to live a clean life, implementing the forgiveness of sins, daily cleansing, holiness of life, etc.
  1. Doctrinal Category – training in exploring and understanding the many doctrines of the Bible. “And the things that you have heard from me…, deposit exactly the same things into faithful men, who then must be enabled to teach OTHERS ALSO.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
  • The doctrine of God
  • The doctrine of creation
  • The doctrine of eternity
  • The doctrine of God’s eternal purpose
  • The doctrine of Satan
  • The doctrine of man
  • The doctrine of the Fall of man into sin
  • The doctrine of salvation, etc
  1. Dispositional Category – training the disciple to build a Christian disposition, “The fruit of the Spirit…self-control. (Galatians 5:23).
  • Personality types
  • Temperament types
  • Self-understanding for a Biblical standpoint
  • A Biblical understanding of personal self-worth
  • The taming of the tongue
  • Mastery over your personal disposition, including the conquest of such dispositional problems as anger, bitterness, negativism, frustration, depression, etc.
  1. Distress Category – training the disciple the lessons of facing and overcoming life’s distress factors.
  • The world as the Christian’s perennial enemy
  • The flesh as the Christian’s perennial enemy
  • The devil as the Christian’s perennial enemy
  • Fear as a Christian’s perennial threat
  • Doubt as a Christian’s perennial threat
  • Temptation as a Christian’s perennial threat
  • The trials of life as a Christian’s perennial threat
  1. Domestic Category – training on the Biblical foundations for marriage, the family and home.
  • The original pattern for marriage and the home (Genesis 1:18-25)
  • A model for affection and intimacy in marriage (Song of Solomon 4)
  • The roles of the individuals in a marriage and a family (Ephesians 5:18-32)
  1. Dedicational Category – Teachings of how to begin and maintain complete, consistent dedication to Jesus Christ and His Lordship.
  • How to be a completely sold-out Christian, living steadily under the personal administration of Jesus Christ as the Lord of his life.
  • The true meaning of Christ-likeness and how to develop it in his life
  • How to fulfill the personal responsibility to grow steadily in the spiritual life.
  1. Directional Category – training to see the strategy of Jesus for being a disciple, for building disciples, for impacting the vast world of men through the disciple-making process and how to implement these things strategically in his life.
  • The local and global fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission
  • The imperatives of evangelism and soul-winning
  • Personal involvement (by many means) in total world impact
  • The building and sharing of God’s inclusive vision
  • The process of disciple-making (which generates multi-generational multiplication)
  • Jesus’ training process with the Twelve Apostles – a s a strategic model of the training process we are to follow with our disciples.
  • All of the above – local and global fulfillment of the Great Commission… – all of these formulated into practical strategies and practically implemented in the lives of Christians.
  • Obviously, dependence upon the Holy Spirit and His empowerment in every area of life and performance is crucial for the implementation of these things.

Hodges, Herb, Fox Fever, Spiritual Life Ministries, p ii. (This is a great “how to” book available from the author HERE. Fox Fever is Herb’s sequel to Tally Ho the Fox, which lays out the foundational principles for making disciples, while Fox Fever relates to the practical side of disciple-making. Both are valuable resources.)

Creston Iowa’s Loss

Tom Young fam

Tom, Cindy and Aaron Young

I first met Dr. Tom Young when I came as Pastor of Crest Baptist Church in August of 1994. He had already been serving as a physician in Creston for five years. I was immediately impressed by his grasp of a wide range of disciplines beyond medicine. A voracious reader with the closest to a photographic memory that I’ve encountered, Tom’s ability to recall information, even citing the page of the book astounded me. Tom’s intellect and size (a former heavy-weight wrestler at Drake) caused some to be intimidated. As I’ve talked to a few that were intimidated by Tom’s wealth of knowledge, my response was always, “Don’t you want a smart doctor?” It’s been my personal observation that Tom was almost always the smartest person in the room at any gathering.

Tom Football

Church Harvest Party…putting the moves on the competition

I’m not naïve enough to think that he never used that intimidation factor to his advantage. I’ve faced him on a racquet ball court!  However, he was not one to “suffer a fool” in his profession of medicine. Because he was up on current research and procedures in medical practice through medical journals and seminars, he expected as much from other health care providers. But often, such intimidation was only the perception of those who did not really know Tom. When he encountered individuals, who were truly desirous of improving their own skills, Tom was a ready instructor.

Early in my ministry at Crest, I asked Tom if he had ever considered doing short-term medical missions. His response was that rural Southwest Iowa was his mission field. While he had the opportunity to practice in more affluent communities, Tom’s Christian compassion led him to come to an area that at the time was underserved by the internal medicine specialty. That concern kept him in our community all these years. And beyond the medical care he offered our area, he was a financial benefactor to many of the non-profits of our community, seeking to make Creston a better place in which to plant deep roots.

2008 Mission Trip

2008 Mission Trip to Venezuela

Tom’s attitude toward short-term medical missions changed, and he subsequently made numerous trips to Venezuela and Peru. Taking medical supplies, some donated but much secured at personal expense, he treated some of the poorest people, who subsisted from the resources gleaned from a city dump. But perhaps his greatest influence was on the indigenous health care providers as he gave instruction for their future diagnoses and treatment of illnesses they encountered.

You may have noticed that the references in this letter are in the past tense. This could be construed as a eulogy of Tom. It has been intentionally written in that way. Although Tom is in good health and is not retiring from medical practice, the closing of Internal Medicine Consultants was not by his choosing. And for that reason it symbolizes a death in our community. Many are mourning this announcement, and it is not settling well with most of us who have been served so well by Tom. It is the death of what many have found to be quality health care in which a doctor takes the extended time with you, has a history with you and prays with you if you are so inclined. It represents almost the last of independent primary care in our community, that while working in collaboration with the hospital, is not controlled by a business model that appears quota based. It represents the slow death of our national health care system that many of us have known all our lives as a personal relationship with one’s physician.

Farewell Dr. Tom and Cindy Young, Dr. Carey Wimer, Sherri Seago, and Holly Schutz. Your care and presence as medical providers in Union County will be sorely missed. Godspeed!

Chuck and Myra Spindler

New Year’s Resolutions

scrabble-resolutions.jpgWell, we are more than a week into the New Year. Many have made some type of resolution, most likely regarding self-improvement. According to a 2015 Nielsen poll, health and wellness are the typical top priorities for U.S. consumers.  “Staying fit and healthy” came in at 37%, with “lose weight” coming in a close second at 32%. Enjoying life, getting fiscally fit and spending more time with family and friends rounded out the top five. While some report that only about 41% of people even make resolutions, nearly 80% of them will fail in maintaining their resolutions by the second week of February.

Interestingly among the top ten resolutions, there is nothing overtly spiritual about them. As the Apostle Paul addressed his son in the faith, Timothy, he encouraged, “On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8, LB). If you are one who makes resolutions, do you focus only on the present life value of a resolution or do you think of the eternal life consequences, too. If you’re goal is to live a healthy and long life, what will be the eternal payoff for living longer here? Will you be spending that life building heavenly treasure or earthly treasure that will burn up? If your focus is on financial goals, are they focused on your own security or to benefit others and investing in ministries that will help people grow in their pursuit of God, as well?

It is easy to be temporal in our goals and resolutions. However, I was reminded of the long view as I reread a devotional passage last week. Over the years, I have used W Glyn Evans’ book, Daily with the King, as a daily prompt to prayer with my wife. The January 5th devotion was especially appropriate as one sets the course for his year, his life, and his eternal life, for that matter. Here are the points of his writings for that day (with the exception of the last two, scriptures are my addition).

I will, by God’s grace and power, keep the center of my life adjusted strictly to God’s will, and let God keep the periphery any way He desires. (Matthew 6:33)

I will seek holiness (which results in wholeness), without which no man can seek the Lord, at all times. Wholeness is God-centeredness, the “one thing needful,” the “one thing I desire and seek after,” the “one thing I do.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)

I will not pray for peace, power, success, or fruit, for they are by-products of a relationship, not its conditions. They are God’s responsibility, not mine. (John 15:5)

Neither will I seek promotion, honors, recognition, or acclaim, for they also are by-products and therefore outside my sphere. Nor will I resent others to whom God gives these tokens, but I will praise God that His will has been done in them. (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)

I will no longer strive ambitiously for ends, for God’s purpose is process, not destiny. I never hope to arrive but rather to continue with God in an eternal adventure, the result of which is a continual knowing of Him who is the”end” God seeks for me. (Matthew 25:23, Galatians 4:9, Philippians 3:4-11)

I will accept the fact that the self-life is not only displeasing to God; it is His enemy. When self reigns, I am at war with God, and that leads to frustration, anxiety, and misery. I will therefore crucify the self-life and be at peace with God. (1 Peter 2:11-12)

I will realize that when all is said and done, I owe my daily overcoming to this one, solid fact: “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Therefore, I can say honestly, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57)

May God prosper you in your commitments this year, giving you perseverance to follow-through with the physical, intellectual, emotional, relational, financial and, most importantly, spiritual disciplines that will payoff in eternally rewarding ways.

Points to Ponder:

  • What steps do you need to take to center your life on God’s will?
  • Do you agree that peace, power, success and fruit are by-products of a relationship with God and not things for which to pray?
  • Are you seeking for “ends” or satisfied with being in the “process” of continually knowing God?
  • Where is self reigning in your life rather that God ruling?