Friday, December 31, 2010

Final Post For 2010

We are just about ready to head out the door to our church New Years Eve fellowship and I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of my faithful readers. I want you to know that I'm thankful for you and realize that without you there is no real reason for me to blah, blah, blah!

Thank you for putting up with my silliness and allowing my rants!

May you have a wonderful & safe New Years celebration and may God truly bless you in 2011!

See you then...

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lynn's BIG Christmas Surprise

Lynn got a really nice Christmas present from the family she has babysit for over the past 11 years. After much research and study between our friend Charlie and myself, this is what we settled on & she loves it:

Pastor Steve

Meet The "Big Bro"!

If you are a follower of my blog, you've probably seen comments from someone who carries the moniker of "Big Bro". If you have never put two & two together...this is my older brother, Roger.

At one time he was my bigger brother as well but due to incredible discipline he has now made me the "bigger" brother!

"Big Bro" lives in the south and was home to our Mom's for Christmas. Wednesday we took the opportunity to slip down to Des Moines and have breakfast with Dan, Maggie, the boys and Amy for Daniels birthday and then go over to my Mom's for lunch with my brother, sister (Jacki) and Mom.

It was so good to see Roger and get caught up, I have not seen him since July of 2009, I really need to go visit him at his home.

Love being able to have the flexibility to be able to run to Des Moines and know that my Wednesday responsibilities are covered and in very good hands! Thanks John K!!!

Here are a couple of photo's of my and my "Big Bro"!

Pastor Steve

Christmas 2010 Part 2

Well, the story of our Christmas continues ... Friday evening, Christmas Eve, Daniel and his family arrived with Amy in tow as well. It was so good to have everyone home safe and sound. After a snack, we all turned in, looking forward to what the morning would bring!

With the coffee started, the house began to wake up! The gifts were opened as well as the stocking stuffers. Everyone was just glad to be at the house and be together for this special day.

After breakfast, it was game time - Ticket To Ride, Imagine If, Phase 10 and Skip-Bo. While all this was going on I put the ham in the oven, a hickory smoked spiral cut honey ham - it was wonderful!

Great food, great fun and everyone home for the Christmas celebration!

Pastor Steve

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2010

The Christmas season has come and was filled with many activities for our family as well as I'm sure for yours.

Some of our key events:

Our churches Sunday School Christmas Program: This year our young people did a wonderful jobs with the material. Right now we have around 30 children in our Sunday School and the kids worked very hard with many long hours of practice, we are so very proud of our young people! A very special thank-you to all those who work behind the scenes to make this night a success! Following the SS Christmas program we enjoyed our annual soup supper fellowship with home-made chili, potato and chicken noodle soup! What a great day!

Christmas Caroling and our Candlelight Carol Service: On the last couple of Wednesday evenings our church family has had the opportunity to get together and sing. One of the highlights of the Christmas season is getting to go Christmas Caroling. Our stops are folks who have been recent  visitors and some of our older members. This is one of the highlights of our Christmas season! On the next Wednesday evening we held our annual Candlelight Carol sing. We got together and sang through out favorite carols, read through the Christmas story in Luke and ended our evening with the church family standing in a circle with candles lit singing "Silent Night" followed by a closing prayer. I have been a part of this service for as long as I've been in full time ministry and cannot remember ever being able to finish that service without tearing up. Love that song - love that service!

More to come!

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

As Seen On Facebook....

Couple of good ones:

"If you are so concerned about the secularization of society, maybe the best response would be to tell more people about Jesus rather then make a list of which department stores to boycott."

"Was looking at my senior class photo from 1991. It was a big hair convention. C got a big laugh. I wonder how many of the girls still have their big hair. It's funny, I spent four years trying my hardest to impress people that I have never spoken to after graduation, and now can't even remember their names. What a waste!"

Pastor Steve!

Monday, December 20, 2010

As Seen On Facebook

Hey, Hey!!! This is a new feature, I'm calling it "As Seen On Facebook". These are humorous posts from Facebook and we begin with this:

"Only in Iowa can a successful after-prom fundraiser consist of selling raffle tickets for a drawing to win one half of a butchered and processed hog. Hey, whatever works."

Pastor Steve

Make Me A Blessing...

Last April we had an older gentleman "randomly" stop in for our Wednesday evening service. Since then he has attended just a handful of times. Friday afternoon we had the opportunity to have coffee at our local Denny's. We were able to spend over an hour just talking and I was able to encourage him in his relationship with Jesus. When we were finished, he told me how much he enjoyed our time together, that he was looking forward to church on Sunday and setting up another time for us to have coffee and chat again.

I received a phone call late Saturday evening that Art had collapsed after supper and had died. On Sunday afternoon I got a call from his Niece and we had a wonderful conversation. She told me that she had spoken to Art on Saturday morning, Art had mentioned to her our coffee time on Friday and how he was excited to be at church on Sunday and getting together later this week for another coffee break. I was so very thankful to be a blessing to Art just before he died.

"Make Me a Blessing"
Words by Ira B. Wilson
Music by George S. Schuler

Out on the highways and byways of life, Many are the weary and sad;
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife, Making the sorrowing glad.

Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love, Tell of His power to forgive;
Others will trust Him if only you prove, True every moment you live.

Give as 'twas given to you in your need, Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless a helper indeed,Unto your mission be true.

Make me a blessing, make me a blessing;
Out of my life may Jesus shine.
Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Games Children Play

I'm at a basketball game the other night visiting with a family from our local school district and they were telling me that when their daughter was very little that the Mom worked outside the home and the Dad was a farmer with livestock.

With Mom at work Dad would put the daughter in a backpack type apparattus and carried her around as he would do his farm chores. One of the many chores that he covered was the care and feeding of hogs.

If you know anything about livestock farming there are often time for whatever reason that a sow will die and need to be removed, to be picked up by the rendering truck. These sows are removed by hand or if they are rather large they may need to have a rope tied around them and be dragged with a tractor or skid-loader. Not always pleasant but part of the life of a farmer.

One day while the Mom is working around the house, the daughter come walking around the corner dragging one of her stuffed animals by the leg with a piece of twine. When asked what she was doing she replied as only a little farm girl could ... "I'm playing Dead Pig!"

I thought that was hilarious!

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

(PS: All photo's are stock, that is not the little girl in the story!)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Bits & Balderdash - 12/08/10

Deer Hunting: I'm back after a very busy deer hunting season here in Iowa. This past weekend was our first shotgun season and I did not harvest a deer. Lots of time spent in the deer stand, in the timber and with very good friends.

Area-Wide Pastor's Fellowship Christmas Party: Monday night we (Lynn & I) hosted the North Iowa Area-Wide Pastor's Fellowship Christmas Party at our home. Great party with incredible food and the best part is the annual gift exchange which includes the opportunity to "steal" gifts from others forcing them to either steal from someone else or open a new gift! I think everyone had fun and I know that the fellowship was fantastic!

Sundays in December: Sundays in December at our church all revolve around the Christmas story. This past Sunday we got started by looking at those who missed Christmas. Now by saying they missed Christmas, I mean they missed the birth of Jesus. The three were the innkeeper, King Harod and all of the Jewish Religious leaders of the day.

Best & Worst of the Weekend: The Best of this weekend was deer hunting with Doug & Russ Farrell, really appreciate these guys and them letting me hunt with them! Worst of the weekend ... The weekend was toooo short!

I Remain,
Pastor Steve 

Friday, December 03, 2010

Old Friends / New Names

A good friend, Jim Wilhite, passed away last week. As is the case with visitations and funerals, you usually see folks that you have not seen for quite some time. While that is a topic for an extensive blog post, that is not the direction I'm headed with this post.

I was able to see a young man that was in our church here in Clear Lake as a pre-teen. Now he is a grown man and I feel old! As we visited I called him "Jimmy"; the name that I had always known him by. Realizing that no one probably ever called him that now, I apologized and ask him how he would like to be addressed, Jim or James or what.

He looked at me and with absolutely no inflection in his voice he said ...

"You may call me Officer McDermott!" 

My friend is a police officer and I will be kind in my reference to him! Good to see the McDermotts again, just sorry it had to be under these circumstances.

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Elijah Turns 2 Years Old

Birthday Boy in a Bag
We spent last Sunday with Daniel and his family for Elijah's 2nd birthday party. The whole gang was there, Grandpa and Grandma Cox, Grandpa and Grandma Gilliland, Great Grandma Coulter and Gilliland, and lots of Aunts & Uncles!

After attending church together, we all found our way to Dan & Maggie apartment for a birthday lunch of pizza and veggies.

After lunch, Elijah got to open his gifts. He was not too sure about the whole process but once he got the hang of it we were off to the races!
After the gifts ... it was time for cake! Maggie and Amy really went over the top on creating a cake in the shape of a tractor. Not just any tractor, a "RED" tractor! The Gilliland clan are farmers and the "RED" tractor is the tractor of choice and preference! So the only cake you could have would be a RED tractor cake! Check it out.....

The Tractor Cake
Everyone was really excited about the cake except for maybe Elijah!

Not Too Sure!
Well, the cake was great and the time together was fantastic! I love spending time with Daniel, Maggie and the boys!

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Monday, November 29, 2010

Saying "So Long" To The Hart's

After 3+ years at the Iowa Regular Baptist Camp, Aaron Hart accepted a call from a church in Colorado to serve as an associate Pastor. He and Anna, his wife, moved last Friday afternoon.

Not only did the Hart's work and minister at the camp but they were members at the Clear Lake Church. So for Lynn and I we not only said "So Long" to camp staff friends or church members but to folks that we had cultivated strong personal friendship.
Knowing the truth that we only say "so long" in this life & that we will see each other again ... (here, there or in the air) ... this is still tough on me. However, I'm so very thankful for the time that I have had to spend with Arron and Anna. They will be missed but I'm very excited about God's working in their lives!

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Day 2010

Thanksgiving Day was a day of great travel for the Clear Lake Cox's! We rolled out of Clear Lake at 8:30 AM, picked up Philip & Susan in Ankeny and made our way to Grimes for a family Thanksgiving! Returning home at about 9 PM.

Arriving at my sister's, the familiar smells of Cox Family Thanksgivings of years past greeted us, turkey in the oven, there is nothing like that smell anywhere!

More family arrives and then it is time for the appetizers, Roasted Red Peppers & Crostini, Smoked Trout spread w/ crackers, veggie and dip tray and hummus spread. All very tasty!

Now it was time to take the turkey out to "rest".
 What a thing of beauty! My Mom out did herself again; 24 pounds of turkeylicious goodness!

Everything on the table, let the feast begin!

 I hope your day was as incredible as our! God Bless and be Thankfull!

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bits & Balderdash - 11/22/10

Here's the Deal:


Best: Harvested a deer on Friday, Saturday Youth Rally in Forest City, Sunday morning 3 people walked forward for church membership and Sunday evening our annual Thanksgiving Supper!

Worst: Hawkeyes & Vikings loses over the weekend, Aaron & Anna Hart's last time at church with us as they are leaving for Colorado soon for a new ministry (Happy for their new ministry but sad they are leaving!)


Pastor Seiler & Family
On Saturday we attended the "Y" youth rally in Forest City. As always we bagan the rally at the church with Pastor Farrell's crazy games followed by our speaker, Pastor Dennis Seiler from Faith Baptist Church in Albert Lea, Minnesota. Pastor Seiler did a fantastic job with a great message on "Bogus vs. Real Believers".

After the message we got some nourishment ... Walking Tacos! Always a crowd favorite. Along with the tacos there were a number if dessert bars and soda pop to drink. Once we piled away all the food we could stand ... We headed off to the Forest City "Y" for a time of fun & games and tournaments!

Wally-Ball (Stock Photo)
Basketball, volleyball, dodge ball & wally ball tournaments were organized and the young people could also use the game room (ping-pong, air hockey & billiards were available there) and the swimming pol was open as well. All of the left over dessert bard and bags and bags of chips were set out along with water and soda pop for everyone to enjoy as well.

We started about 3 PM and the "Y" closed at  9 PM. I think everyone had fun and are looking forward to our next rally!


After a loss to the Packers on Sunday afternoon, the Vikings season is officially DEAD! What a complete buzz-kill! After the great run last year and the incredible potential for this year, that by week 9 of the season the Vikings are dead in the water, fired their head coach, have a 41 year old cripple for a quarterback who can never figure out when it is time to quit and the back-up quarterback whose biggest fan and supporter was just fired!


Congratulations to Jimmy Johnson for his historic 5th NASCAR title in a row! That is an accomplishment!

That's it for now ......

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Archery Season 2010 - OVER!

Doe - Stock Photo
Yesterday afternoon at about 4:15 my 2010 archery season came to an end with a 12 yard shot on a huge doe. After the shot she turned and ran about 75 yards before tipping over.

The shot: 12 yards, slightly quartering towards me. Complete pass through double lung with a Muzzy MX-3 100 grain fixed broad-head.

The Story: I has seen these deer (3 in all) milling around maybe 100 yards away for quite awhile when I noticed they were beginning to make their way toward me in my stand. They followed the field edge and passed in front of me at about 30 yards and I thought that was it and they would just walk on by! However, there was something this big doe did not like, just past my stand she stopped, sniffed the air and began to back up. There had been a house cat in the area earlier but I'm not sure if that spooked her or not. Either way she turned and passed by my stand again at 30 yards but this time she turned into me at a very small opening.

She began to close the distance followed by the two smaller doe. I was able to position my self in my stand, pick my shooting lane and attach my release. I'm ready! When she hit the 12 yard mark I gave a soft grunt, she froze and I released my arrow, arrow hit the mark and the spun and run was on! I actually watched her go down from my stand, after all of the hard hunting & preparation that goes into the archery season - ti is icing on the cake to get to see your prey go down after a well placed shot!
 What a day! An incredible animal, a good shot and a very crisp beautiful day in the deer woods. What a blessing!

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Friday, November 19, 2010

My First Venture Into Lutefisk

Last evening I was given a very special ticket, one of only 350 for the Annual Lutefisk Dinner at the Lutheran church in Hanlontown, Iowa. This is my very first opportunity to try this Norwegian favorite, but this was not just about the Lutefisk but about a number of Norwegian/Swedish delicacy's.
Let's start with some notes on Lutefisk. Literally translated, Lutefisk means lyefish, which refers to the early process of soaking where a lye solution made of birch ashes was used in the "luting"   process. Lutefisk is Cod, or stockfish.

Pickled Herring
Arriving at the church we were escorted into the foyer and given appetizers of pickled herring and Lutefisk brats. Yes, I just said Lutefisk brats, now that is a weird combo, a pork and fish brat. However, the pickled herring was incredible!

After being ushered into the auditorium and a word of prayer, we were called by table into the fellowship hall where the feast began in earnest! The first item brought to the table was mashed potatoes followed by a huge platter of Lutefisk, corn, cranberry/marshmallow salad, mashed rutabagas, Swedish meatballs and lefse.

Swedish Meatballs
Watching the others I learned that after putting the Lutefisk on your plate you smother it in melted butter, add salt & pepper to taste and enjoy. And I DID! It was very good and I had a couple of helpings. The rutabagas were okay, they had the consistency of squash. I really like the potato lefse with butter and cinnamon sugar. The mashed potato's and Swedish meatballs were incredible good.

   Following the meal the dessert began to come out of the kitchen. WOW!!! Pastries and goodies that were mouth watering. Those goodies and strong black coffee made for the perfect end of a great meal with good friends & fellowship.

Final thoughts on Lutefisk: Not too bad. I would not want to eat it every day but I it was a surprise to me that it was very tasty! If you get the chance ... give it a try!

I Remain,
Pastor Steve 
Rommegrot (Cream/Flour)


Monday, November 15, 2010

Best & Worst of the Weekend

Well, it's Monday morning and I'm sitting in the hospital waiting room with a family waiting for word on an open heart surgery patient.

So let's cover the Best & Worst of the Weekend:

Best: Philip & Susan came home for the weekend with some other friends from college; Tons of great food; wonderful day Sunday at church!

Worst: Hawkeye's loss; Viking's loss.

How was your weekend????

Pastor Steve

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bits & Balderdash

Time for an up-date on life in North Iowa!

The first major winter storm of the season invaded North & Western Iowa yesterday and last night. There were forecasts of 8 -10 inches of snow. All of this was to stay to the West of Clear Lake ... and it did! All we got was rain, rain and more rain! Someone once told me ... "you don't have to shovel rain!" I like that.

A year ago today one of the most influential men in my life stepped into eternity. Tom Hammond was a friend, Pastor, mentor and leader in my life. After I came to know Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1981, it was Tom who was willing to invest into my life and teach me and model for me what it meant to live for and walk with Jesus. I had not talked with Tom for maybe over a year when I heard he had died in a car accident - If someone had impacted your live DO NOT do what I did ... tell them now while there is still time! Thank you June for sharing Tom with a bunch of college kids - We love you!

This weekend I have 3 college guys, Philip & Susan here. Last night we had "killer" pizza and this morning for breakfast: eggs, bacon, hash browns & onions, biscuits & gravy. There was nothing left after breakfast was over! What a great time with a great bunch of kids!

The Archery Deer Season is in full swing and the rut is on here in Iowa! I'm seeing lots of deer and I'm ready to harvest mine as soon as something come in range (under 20 yards).

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fall Teen Retreat @ Camp Fairwood

I had the incredible privilege and opportunity to be asked to speak at the Fall Teen Retreat @ Camp Fairwood in Westfield, Wisconsin. This was a 3 day retreat beginning on a Thursday and ending on a Saturday. I was to speak five times over the three days.
What a great retreat! There were over 100 teens in attendance and what a great bunch!


Besides the speaking sessions there was free time, organized activities, and a bunch of games and actives from shooting .22 rifles to playing paintball!

Many decisions were made to the glory of God and even one teen guy indicated that he need to know Jesus in a personal relationship. Very exciting stuff!!!

By The Way .... I found my favorite place on the camp ground! In the dinning hall there was a fireplace at one end and I often found myself sitting with a cup of coffee just staring at the fire! there is nothing like a good roaring fire! Brad Dickinson caught me in just one of those moments; enjoying the fire and a cup of coffee!

What a great time! Met a bunch of new friends and got to see God's Word impact the lives of everyone in new and unique way. I am so thankful to be used of God and be counted worthy to be in His service!

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

(PS: Thanks to Brad for the pictures)

Best & Worst of the Weekend

Best and worst of the weekend:

Best: Got my mother-in-law moved to Clear Lake safely! Iowa Wins; Vikings Win! Faith Baptist Bible College Orchestra and Hand Bells in our evening service @ the Clear Lake Church.

Worst: ISU loss by a point - great disappointment!

Sooooo ... How about you?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Quick Update

Just wanted to drop by and give a quick update on life in North Iowa!

Took a marginal shot at a deer with my bow, bad shot = no deer in freezer. Hopefully hunting hard this week with better results.

Lynn's Mom moved in with us for what is to be a short (3-4 months) stay and then looking for an apartment in the Clear Lake area. This is stretching for all three of us but God is good and give grace where needed.

Got a chance to go visit Dan & Maggie & the boys last week! What a great time. They are doing so well and Dan really loves him new ministry in Grinnell.

OK, I'm out for now but hope to be blogging again soon!

Best and Worst of the Weekend coming up soon ... start thinking about your now!

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Monday, October 25, 2010

Best & Worst of the Weekend

I'm bringing back one of my favorite bits on my blog ... "The Best & Worst of the Weekend." 

When I originally started this, the idea was that I would give my best and worst and then "YOU", the readers, would contribute your best and worst via the comments box. That failed miserably! So I killed the bit! 

Because this is my blog ... I'm bringing it back and if "you" want to participate you are welcome too!

The Best of the Weekend: Iowa Regular Baptist Camp Corporation Meeting, Area-Wide Youth Rally hosted by the Clear Lake Baptist Church, & an incredible day of ministry topped of by an afterglow at the parsonage.

The Worst of the Weekend: The Ventura High School Vikings loss on Friday night and their ouster from qualifying for the State playoffs, The Iowa Hawkeye's loss to Wisconsin on Saturday, & the Minnesota Vikings loss to the Packers - In my humble opinion ... The Vikings are DONE! I hope I'm wrong, but Farve looks awful!

That's the way I see it!
Pastor Steve          

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

And So It Begins...

The Fall hunting season has begun in ernest!

I'm so excited!!!

I've been in the deer stand a few times and seen deer every time. we are in the pre-rut stage of the season and the bucks are just starting to get interested in the does.

Once the rut kicks in  full force - the buck will go completely stupid, let their natural guard down and present an opportunity for harvest to a wise bow hunter. I just wish I knew one!

Last Saturday was the second waterfowl opener. I was ready and shot up a bunch of shells!

Had a wonderful time and harvested a hen and a drake wood duck. These are beautiful birds ... and ... quite tasty!

I'll keep you posted on the rest of the seasons!

I remain,
Pastor Steve

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sports Weekend

If you are a sports fan ... you have to love this time of year! Play-off baseball, college football, NFL, NHL, NBA pre-season & NASCAR's "The Chase".

Here are a few of my interests:

Twins/Yankees: The Twins lost another postseason series to the Yankees. Those stinking, cheating, no-account Yankees!! I can't stand the Yankees, these guys are killing me - they are so far inside the heads of the Twins; that they know what the Twins are doing before the Twins do!

#10 Utah at ISU: Iowa State University football team hosted the #10 team in the nation from Utah. At the end of the 1st quarter, ISU had the lead at 14-10! Then Utah turned on the jets and won the game with as final score of 68-27! Only one word can describe this loss - Brutal!

If you have followed my blog for long you already know that I'm an Iowa Hawkeye football fan. The mention of the ISU loss is in no way a dig at the Ames squad but a heartfelt - Wow, sorry about that one! The real problem is that this week is not any better with #6 Oklahoma coming to Ames this week.

NASCAR "The Chase": After Sunday's race in California there are 5 drivers within 105 points of the lead. If I remember correctly this is the closest race sine the inception of "the chase" format. I know that most folks think that NASCAR is so stupid as the drivers do nothing but turn left; I see on the track a great deal of strategy - tires, fuel, pit stops, restarts & cautions. Trust me ... much more that a bunch of country bumpkins on a dirt track. at least ... That is the way I see it!

Pastor Steve