“The Great Adventure Continues!” – July 2010 Linn County Leader Column

July 15, 2010

It’s been a few months since this column has graced the pages of the Linn County Leader, and many have been wondering, “What’s the deal?” or “Did you quit writing?”

To which I can only answer, “No deal, really,” and “No, I didn’t quit writing at all…just been rather busy.”

You see, these past three months have been filled with changes galore, and all of them deal with the ministry that God has graced us with here in the local area. As most of you are aware of by now, I accepted the position of full-time pastor at CSBC (Caldwell Street Baptist Church) in Brookfield after resigning as a local pastor of the Missouri United Methodist Conference.

And no, contrary to the rumors and innuendo that so often accompanies small town living, I was not forced out or surrendered my pastoral license involuntarily, nor did another church steal me away. I have heard all of these falsehoods, and it saddens me. Gossip is idle and hurtful talk, and has no place among Christians. The reasons for my departure from the UMC are of a personal nature, and have to deal with both philosophical and moralistic issues. I will always look back on my time as an LLP in the UMC with fondness, and made many friends among clergy and parishioners during the past three years. Most of all, I thank the United Methodist Conference for giving me a start in the ministry to which I have been called.

However, as Ecclesiastes says, “to everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” I truly believe that this is a new ministerial season in our lives, and I feel a renewed purpose and sense of vitality in spreading the Good News throughout our area.

My calling to this new ministry at Caldwell has been a blessing beyond belief, and the circumstances of how God moved to place me there are testimonials of His amazing power at work. Needless to say, they are way too numerous to mention in this short column; I can only sum it up by saying, “Ask me!” From the pastoral search committee meeting to discuss it, to the resume submittal, to the prayers that were lifted up from everywhere….well, it is a true miracle how the process played out!

I have also heard some people say, “Well, the church should’ve waited longer to find a pastor!” And to that I say, “Why? If you can really see God working throughout it all, then why wait?” Sometimes we look right past the will of our Lord and wait to see what WE want to see instead of what He is showing us right in front of our faces.

When we stepped through the doors of Caldwell, we were confronted with a dying fellowship that needed encouragement, edification, and growth; a body of believers that were seeking a vision for their future in the Lord and who were willing to do His work in reaching the least, the last, and the lost; a people who needed God’s love.

Prayerfully, we are meeting those needs as best as we can. In just over a month, we have grown from a core group of 5 people to an average of 25 every Sunday morning; new members are coming in, professions of faith are being given, and baptisms are on the schedule! God is good! And as we continue to live our mission of “Growing, Serving, Reaching,” we strive to make a difference here in Brookfield; this church was started as an outreach from Park Baptist over 40 years ago to help others…and we have the hope and faith that it will continue to do just that for many more years.

So, please pray for CSBC, and for yet another great adventure in the Lord for this servant!

Blessings to you and yours!

Richard is a monthly columnist for the Linn County Leader, and pastor of CSBC (Caldwell Street Baptist Church) in Brookfield. He can be reached at sliceofhome@gmail.com or via his online blog at https://sliceofhome.wordpress.com.


March 2010 Linn County Leader Column – “Time Passages”

March 31, 2010

A year has passed since two very dear people in my life departed this world; these two people who helped to shape my life in different ways, yet who both had the same goal: to show me how to grow as a person and as a father.

These two people were Donald Palmer, a saint of God who followed Jesus with unswerving abandon and made his family and friends a priority…and my mom, JoAnn Davis, who loved unconditionally and taught her sons, family, co-workers, and those around her what loyalty and love meant in life.

Two completely unique people, with a great gift for touching lives. I thank God for the wonderful opportunity to share part of my pilgrimage with them, and I can only hope and pray that I am able to impart nuggets of wisdom to others as these two did for me.

As I look back, I can remember the stories that Donald told: hair-raising tales from World War II and his time spent dodging bullets and lying in muddy foxholes; hilarious accounts of cutting timber by moonlight long after the sun had set for the evening; heart-wrenching tragedies of the loss of two of his sons at an early age. As I stared into his eyes as he spoke of each of these events, I could see the myriad of emotions, from fear to joy to anguish; yet, behind it all I could see the strength of Christ emanating from his very soul. He leaned on the Lord during these difficult times, and he was comforted.

And during Donald’s last days, while he lay in a hospital bed, he was the one doing the comforting for others; greeting them with a smile even as the cancer wracked his body with unspeakable pain. For, you see, he was grateful for the chance to say “thanks” to those who had made an influence in his life as well. A trooper, and a friend, to the very end.

My mom was another one of those people who had a lasting impact on those she met; the love that she had knew no bounds. Whether through her wonderful cooking, her unselfish giving, or the other countless ways that she made you feel welcome, Mom taught me how to be confident even in the most difficult of circumstances. No matter what happened in life, a person could rest assured that Mom would be there for them. It didn’t matter if you were even related—she was just that kind of person.

Yet, when she gave, she never wanted anything in return. It was about serving others as you would want to be served; a timeless message that has largely been forgotten in the selfish society that we live in today.

The final days of Mom’s life were spent at Pershing Hospital in Brookfield; very difficult times for her family and her co-workers as we watched this dear woman’s life slip away. Many, many people came by her room to whisper their last goodbyes and also say thanks to their friend.

And, sadly, just a few days after Donald Palmer passed away, Mom also succumbed to cancer.

Passages of time happen unbidden in our lives; and now, a year later, we are in the midst of Holy Week; a time for reflection and prayer as we look towards the Cross…and the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, from this compelling story another ending emerges, unlike our earthly existence; the news that Christ arose from the dead, and conquered sin and death. We now have the promise of eternal life through His sacrifice, and the promise of a home in Heaven.

So, even though I am saddened this week as I remember my friend Donald, and my mom JoAnn, I can also be happy because of Jesus. Because He lives, I can indeed face tomorrow. The grief that I have is but fleeting; joy will truly come in the morning.

And, because of that promise, I am forever grateful.

Richard is a monthly columnist for the Linn County Leader, and a local United Methodist pastor. He can be reached at sliceofhome@gmail.com or via his online blog at https://sliceofhome.wordpress.com.

November 2009 Linn County Leader Column – “Hidden Treasures”

November 18, 2009

For the past ten months, I’ve taken a breather from writing this column to focus more on the creative side of things (stories, an autobiography, a tech column for the non-geeks out there, etc.); it’s been a fascinating journey of discovering how God has blessed me throughout my life…even when those blessings almost seemed to be the exact opposite.

So now, after a few “brief” messages, this column resumes with hopefully more humor; more reminiscing; and a renewed sense of the call that has been placed in my life: to use the gifts that have been given to me and give something back to others.

The casual reader might ask, “What do you mean, give something back? I like my life just the way it is and I like my stuff.” Folks, that’s what is so wrong with the world we live in today; we are more concerned about getting and taking and hoarding then with giving and sharing and emptying. Our lives have taken on a “pack rat mentality” where we have forgotten how to be blessed by being a blessing!

If we have two or three of something, why not give them away and just keep one? Or better yet, why not give away those things sitting up in your attic or out in your storage shed that you haven’t used in years? Senate Bill 40 in Brookfield would put them to good use, and perhaps it would be a true blessing to someone else’s life. The old saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” That very thing you think is no good could change a person’s life.

And, we can take and ponder this a step further…and realize the hidden treasure that we all have within us; the thing that we don’t like to bring out and share except in those moments when we let our guards down and our true selves come out, and people see the “real” you. That, my friends, is our souls.

When we bare it all (figuratively, not literally) to those around us, they see those gems that were gifted to us by our Creator above; our hopes for a better tomorrow for our families and loved ones; our desires to make a difference in this world; our dreams for a world that has gone astray and needs help, etc.

Folks, we all have those within us; the question that we need to ask ourselves is, “What are we willing to do to give something back? Could it be a complete lifestyle change? Could it be more giving instead of more getting?”

So, ruminate on those for a while; there may be some pretty tough answers that follow. And when the answers do come, don’t think about them…just DO them. Share your treasures no matter what the cost, and you’ll be amazed at what happens in your life.

Until next time, may God bless you and yours richly!

Richard Davis is pastor of the North Linn County Charge, consisting of Bear Branch, Pleasant Grove, and New Life UMC’s. His column will be appearing monthly in the Linn County Leader. You may reach him via his blog at https://sliceofhome.wordpress.com or by e-mail at sliceofhome@gmail.com

Now That The Dust Has Settled…

December 11, 2008

There have been many people who have asked me why in the world I stopped writing my column in the Linn County Leader; the simple reason is that I have decided to devote all of my energies into both the ministry that God has called Jeannie and I into, plus I am picking up where I left off many years ago with my creative writing projects that have sadly been neglected.

On January 1st, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to begin that novel that I have been dreading to write for many years…and that is my autobiography. Not for myself and for fame and fortune; not for people to read and point fingers at; but for the legacy I will leave behind for my children, and my family.

You see, God has truly blessed me with wonderful kids; yet even they do not know what I have been through in my life–the homelessness; the drug and alcohol abuse; the very bottom depths of the pits of hell that I found myself in, time and time again. No one was to blame for this tragedy but myself…yet the Lord in His awesome love, mercy, and grace, gave me a new life. A life in Him; a life that was no longer my own but was to be lived spreading the Good News that Jesus can, indeed, save souls.

I was one of those souls. And my children; my wife; my friends…they all need to hear this story. A story of a wretch, mired in the sludge of life’s pigpen, who was given a second chance at life.

So, my friends, the challenge begins on Jan. 1. Please pray for me as I set aside a couple of hours per day to embark on this amazing journey once again. I only imagine that there will be tears; there will be memories dredged up out f the muck; but, ultimately, there will be freedom as I share God’s power to give peace to a man who was once blind…but now can truly see.

FINAL Linn County Leader Monthly Column – “All Good Things”

December 8, 2008

For the past four years, I have been so blessed with the opportunity to share some thoughts, feelings, and life happenings with the readers of this newspaper. It has been a journey of self-discovery in a way; a place where I’ve been able to realize that one of the greatest gifts that God has given me is the ability to write for enjoyment; and not just for myself, but for others to enjoy as well. It is something that I have not used properly for far too long.

There are many people that I need to thank for opening my eyes to this wonderful gift; two of them stand out in particular: from 25-plus years ago, James Hart at Brookfield High School. He was the one who molded a raw, untested teenager’s words into something that resembled coherent thought; and also, my brother Ron Davis (a journalistic scholar in his own right) who encouraged me to write more and gave some helpful tips on how to get my point across. Along life’s pathway there were/are numerous college and seminary professors who have pointed this special gift out to me and asked the pointed question, “What have you done with it lately?”

And so, my creative writing began from these very humble beginnings; it turned into a word processing dynamo during one brief period where I was able to churn out two full-length novels, a couple of novellas, and many short stories; and then, sadly, it faded away to just a few paragraphs here and there as the busyness of life encroached.

Alas, my friends, I give you this background of my writing progress to give you the news gently (if you could call it that)…this December 2008 column will be my last one for the Linn County Leader. After almost fifty months, I have grudgingly decided to put away the pen and paper to concentrate more on ministry, and to also fulfill a lifelong dream: finishing those “other” writing projects that I have set aside for far too long.

You know, it has been said that, “all good things come to an end”; this quote originated back in 1374 by the English author and poet Geoffrey Chaucer. He was right in so many ways, it seems, especially as it pertains to writing. Good things do come to an end at one point or another; this is one of those things.

And this monthly column, dear reader, has really been a good thing in my life. To call it a blessing would fall far short and serve as an injustice; words cannot describe the numerous times that a point has been discussed; complimented; ridiculed; or otherwise; over something that was mentioned in Slice of Home, Slice of Life. For the most part, I can only hope that it made people think about their life, or ask challenging questions about their faith, or just reminisce about things as they used to be in the Green Hills area a few decades ago.

So, as a parting thought, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite passages out of Ecclesiastes; the third chapter in this biblical book speaks of a “time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” A time for (fill in your own words here). Folks, I’ve had the time to share so many things in my life with this written word, and I give thanks for that opportunity. I’ve made many friends along the way, and I’ve also been able to share some Truth from God’s Word while doing so. No one could ever ask for anything more than that.

And while this isn’t really goodbye, it does seem sad in a way. So, I’ll just leave you with ”so long for now.” You’ll still see us at Wal-Mart in Brookfield or in other locales; I’ll still be blessed to be in the pulpits at Bear Branch, Purdin, and Pleasant Grove UMC’s; and Jeannie and I will still lift our voices in song and praise to the Lord Jesus whenever we are asked (that doesn’t interfere with my pastoral duties!). We aren’t going anywhere; this is just a season for doing something else for God…and I will still be feverishly pecking away at my computer keyboard in the hopes of one day finishing that “Great American Novel” that I have always dreamed about getting published, as a lasting legacy for my children, and their children, to share.

My friends, I just want to thank each and every one of you for the ride! It’s been joyous and wonderful and so uplifting. I am richly blessed to have gotten to know so many people through this column, and I thank the Leader for the creative outlet. And, a special thanks needs to go out to Bryan Day and Stephanie Patterson, former editors, and also Polly Taylor, the current editor, of the Linn County Leader.

So, folks, I pray that the Lord will truly bless you and yours all the days of your lives. Go with God wherever He leads, and you will be truly blessed.

Grace and peace!

Richard may still be contacted via e-mail at sliceofhome@gmail.com, or via his online blog at https://sliceofhome.wordpress.com.

November 2008 Linn County Leader Column – “United We Stand…For God”

November 3, 2008

Well, folks, this is it! Tomorrow we will vote to elect a new leader for our nation; a person who will guide our consolidated union of fifty states forward into a time of uncertainty, looming recession, and declining ethical and moral values in our world. Each vote is important; each vote matters; and everyone’s voices need to be heard in this important matter.

As a pastor, I cannot stand in the pulpits where I serve and lecture my congregations on whom they need to cast their ballots for; that is unethical as well as illegal (according to IRS regulations for churches that hold a tax-exempt status; this has been in effect since 1954). People also hold fast to the long disputed idea of separation of church and state as the Founding Fathers of our nation ascribed to; one of the staunchest defenders of this framework was James Madison, also known as the “Father of the Constitution”. He is most recognized as quoting the following about the subject: “Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).” Or, to break in down in simpler terms: Madison believed that the two subjects did not need to interact with each other that much; the more they did, the more muddled things became and the more at odds people would be with one another.

Now, don’t get me wrong about this! I really believe that we need to have a foundational aspect to our government; a cornerstone on which to gauge everything from a pure moral and spiritual standpoint. And that can really only be with God. Because the great leaders of our nation’s history understood that if we didn’t have anything on which to base the creation of this great nation on, then things would really melt down in a hurry. There would be chaos without focus; instead of a coming together, this nation would have blown apart at the seams. And, to put it bluntly, that great stabilizing influence was (and continues to be for those who choose to accept) our Father in heaven.

John Adams put it best when he said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Or this quote, on the day that the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress: “The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”

So, one might ask, “What in the world does this have to do with our presidential election coming up?” My friends, it has EVERYTHING to do with it! We were, and still are, a nation founded under God. We’re supposed to be indivisible; unbreakable; unshakeable; even in the midst of turmoil at home, or even in the world. And, yet, we have strayed far from the original intentions of those who wanted this nation to be a shining light for others to see; a hope for a globe at war with itself. Instead, we are a people split apart; divided among ourselves; and it is so prevalent in this election cycle. We have the major candidates slinging mud at each other and their respective parties; it’s all about looking good no matter what the cost.

My question is: Where are the issues that we need for them to discuss? It’s not about sound bites for the mass media; there are real problems with our economy, our justice system, and with our nation as a whole. There is still racism, hatred, and mayhem all around us, and we are doing nothing to solve them. We would rather gloss it over with nice-sounding “themes” of economic stimulus packages or creating new jobs for America than face the music–the song lyrics that tell us that all is not right in our country.

I do agree with both McCain and Obama on one very important thing, and it’s the underlying riptide that we are facing in the United States.

We need change.

Change in a big way.

But we don’t need the kind of change with more taxes, or bigger government, or cutting back retirement benefits for those who deserve it, or even change achieved through socialized medicine. The kind of change I’m talking about doesn’t come out of a bill passed through Congress; or a law put into practice after being signed on the president’s desk. It’s not the kind of change that can be switched on and off like a light bulb, dark and foreboding one moment, and then shining brightly the next.

No…the kind of change we need is from a spiritual aspect, like the Founding Fathers knew we needed so desperately at the creation of our country. It’s a change that occurs within the hearts of men and women when they turn from their wicked ways, and pray, and seek His face. A change that will heal our land and pull together the torn fabric of our society; a change that will show us how to love our neighbors as ourselves and do unto others as you would have them do unto you; a change that doesn’t come from the will of man but entirely from the will of God.

One last quote; this one is from Thomas Jefferson. He wrote, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

Folks, the change has to start by admitting to ourselves that we need God in our land; and then allowing Him to be Lord over everything in our lives.

As a people; and as one nation.

Under God.

Please vote for the person tomorrow who will do the same.

Richard is a regular monthly columnist for the Linn County Leader, and is also pastor at Bear Branch, Purdin, and Pleasant Grove UMC’s in north Missouri. You may reach him via his blog at https://sliceofhome.wordpress.com or e-mail at sliceofhome@gmail.com.

October 2008 Linn County Leader Column – “What This World Needs”

October 7, 2008

You know, time sure does fly anymore.

I can remember when I was first asked to write a monthly column for the Linn County Leader back in February of 2005; I felt humbled and privileged to be able to share my life with you, the loyal reader, as I mused about the past and present, and perhaps get a look ahead at where life would take me into the 21st century.

And, my, what a ride it has been for 45 months! (for those keeping score, that is almost, but not quite, four years of ramblings). I never thought that I would have that much to say, but I am thankful that God continues to pour out His blessings as this servant writes..and writes…and writes. As I tell the congregations that I serve at as pastor, “You would think that after a while this loudmouth would run out of things to say!”

The past few months of this column have been all about the fantastic journey my family and I went on, through numerous states and back via Route 66. An amazing trip that came to an end too soon; yet a pretty eye-opening experience to the forgotten places of our past. Plus, to reconnect with my wife and kids and to take a few weeks away from the ministry to recharge and regroup was very encouraging.

So now, back from our trip; and after a five-day revival area revival; and after our churches annual business meetings (which will happen on Sunday, right before this column is published), I am back, more renewed and hopeful for our congregations but at the same time troubled with our nation and the perilous path we find ourselves on: with a presidential race coming up quickly, the time is ripe for a change for the better…spiritually, that is. We must either turn back to our calling as one nation founded under God, or we risk veering off-course completely towards a future of “Sodom and Gomorrah” mentality.

You might recall that the first book of the Bible talks about what happened to those haughty and proud inhabitants of these two “Cities of the Plains”; because of their wickedness and sexual immorality they were completely destroyed by brimstone and fire from heaven. And this devastation came about only after Abraham had pleaded with God to spare them, over and over again. Yet, to no avail, because only one righteous man could be found there.

This factual account reminds me of the crumbling state of our nation today; we, too, are giving in more and more to evil deeds and thoughts, trying to please our own selves with whatever we can find; and in the meantime, the United States is spiraling downward into a congealed mess of boundaries crossed, promises unkept, and spiritual, ethical, and moral compromises made for the sake of “just getting along with each other.”

Folks, we can learn to get along with each other without the need to skew us past the point of no return; we should remember that this nation still has a Creator who was (and still is) the foundation of our government and justice system. We need to turn to Him instead of what the world says; we need to trust in the Lord instead of ourselves or another two-bit politician peddling lies. In short, what this world needs are people who will stand upon the Truth and not be swayed by “feel-good” stories or promises that no one can deliver.

Some might say that I sound mad, or discouraged, or even bitter. No, my friends. It is the exact opposite. This servant has a heavy burden that he carries continually…I am saddened for this nation, and this world, that we live in today. We need a Savior; one who will rescue those who are lost; a Spirit to guide us in these tumultuous times, instead of the three-ring circus our government has become; most of all, we need a Father who will love us gently back into the fold from where we have so foolishly strayed.

Remember…it’s our choice to lead responsibly; or be led carelessly.

Blessings to you and yours!

Richard is a regular monthly columnist for the Linn County Leader, and is also pastor at Bear Branch, Purdin, and Pleasant Grove UMC’s in north Missouri. You may reach him via his blog at https://sliceofhome.wordpress.com or e-mail at sliceofhome@gmail.com.