A Growing Family

Posted: May 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

It was an exciting weekend at the Riley’s! We celebrated the Memorial Day weekend by welcoming our son home for a couple days from Buckley AFB in Denver, Colorado where he presently serves in the USAF. And while it was nice to have him home, it was even more special in light of the purpose of the visit. On Friday night he proposed to his child-hood sweetheart, Anita Sandvik… and she said yes!!!Image Praise the Lord we’re adding another daughter to our family!

We couldn’t be happier for the two of them and feel so blessed.

No Easter Sunday will ever be the same once you’ve been to Jerusalem. Janet and I have certainly been privileged to travel all around the world but without a doubt our favorite destination is Israel. As we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior this year, I am once again reminded of the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15… “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I am so thankful there is hope beyond the grave! Join us Sunday as we celebrate our Savior!Image

Aside  —  Posted: April 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

Through the years it has been my observation that most people either hate, or are terribly uncomfortable with change; especially change over which they have no control. I’ve always thought of myself as being in the minority on this issue but a simple tree has challenged my thinking in recent days.lodge tree

It seems the greatest casualty from the ice storm that hit our area last month was a tree. Not just any tree… but the most famous tree on Breezy Hill. For many years, people have enjoyed and admired the giant oak tree at our camp lodge. So inspirational was that oak that when we purchased the property nearly twenty years ago, the first thing we did was build a colossal deck around it. Under that tree thousands of hot dogs have been served, innumerable cups of hot chocolate and coffee have been consumed, camp devotions have been held and songs have been sung. Under that tree kids have memorized Bible verses and teens have gathered to hear preaching, men have enjoyed wild game suppers and even wedding receptions have taken place. Under that tree our church family has gathered for services, picnics, and every crazy game imaginable. (Remember watching the men carry canoes around the trail?) It was even under that tree that Janet won her first homemade pie contest with a Dutch Apple Pie that I can still taste. But perhaps most importantly, the beautiful Christmas lights in that tree have drawn thousands of people who heard the real meaning of Christmas, and the story of a Savior who gave His life for our salvation. Truly that tree has been a vital part of the ministry of Breezy Hill Baptist Church these past eighteen years.

As I said, I’m not usually one who agonizes over change. However, I think I’ve gained a little perspective toward those who do. We live in a day when even the mere mention of the word “traditions” draws quick and fiery criticism from those charging fast ahead into the world of change. The allegation that the church is crippled by it’s traditions and must let go of yesterday is probably not completely wrong, but I’m not sure it’s completely right either.

New plans are being developed during the removal of the old lodge oak for a better, more efficient layout and I’m sure in a couple years, the memory of the majestic tree will be gone, replaced by “the new.” (That’s how change works.) But in the meantime, I guess I’ve learned to empathize with those who struggle with change so give me a little time and space. I’ll miss that tree.

Image  —  Posted: April 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

Lessons from March Madness

Posted: March 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

I read a story today about an 81 year old woman who refused to allow her doctors to begin surgery on her until after her beloved Memphis March MadnessTigers had defeated George Washington 71-66 to advance in the NCAA tournament. The unnamed woman had a collapsed lung Friday and was awaiting surgery when she stopped the proceedings until after the game so she could watch her team win. So unusual was the occasion that someone tweeted a picture of her and the medical staff watching the game together in the operating room. (True story.)

While I certainly have always considered myself a sport’s fan, I believe I must reevaluate my status in light of this woman. I can’t imagine choosing a ball game over repairing a collapsed lung, which leaves me clearly inferior to an 81 year old woman on the sports-fan-o-meter. (A fact I have difficulty accepting.) Truth is, if I were awaiting surgery the last thing on my mind would be sports! How are we going to manage the pain? How soon will the anesthesia take affect? Will I feel or remember anything? How soon can I eat after the surgery? How are we going to manage the pain? Those would be my questions… not, “Can we wait until after the game?” Whether Memphis wins or not, this woman should be their MVP of the tournament in my opinion.

But something else about this story jumps out at me. It’s a subtle reminder of the fact that quite often in our lives, idols are simply good things elevated to an unhealthy priority. That’s why idols are so frequently difficult to see in our own lives. It’s something that, in and of itself, is good… but when elevated to an unhealthy priority, becomes both dangerous and counterproductive to the Christian life. And the frustrating part is, you seldom recognize it when it happens. So thanks, Granny, for both the chuckle and the reminder. I hope your surgery went well and go Memphis! (Since my team was eliminated in the first round… not that I care… that much.)

 

A Special Anniversary

Posted: March 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

Reeves

Yesterday was a special day for a very special couple I know. Howard and Carolyn Reeves celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary, which in and of itself is noteworthy. However, I’m sure it was anything but just another anniversary for them.

Just a few short weeks ago Howard was diagnosed with a mass in his lungs that has resulted in a journey they never expected. Radiation, chemo, and all the side effects of cancer treatment that we so prevalently see today has now become their “normal.” But in the midst of it all I am delighted to say they have a peace that most definitely passes all understanding… a peace that is keeping their hearts and minds stayed on Christ. Each time I visit I leave much more encouraged by them than I could ever be to them and that is a testimony to the grace of God.

I’ll never forget the day, shortly after I became pastor at Breezy Hill, when Howard stopped me one Sunday morning. He was standing at the auditorium doors greeting people as they entered and when I came in, he joked, “Where would you like to sit, smoking or non-smoking?” Now, unable to talk well enough to greet people and guarding a weak immune system vulnerable to nearly anything, I can’t help but rejoice when I see him and Carolyn still at church whenever they can be there, smiling and singing through tears of uncertainty.

Please join me in continuing to pray for the Reeves. We love them, care about them, and wish them the best on their 57th anniversary.

Welcome to PASTORRILEYDOTCOM

Posted: March 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

In my humble opinion the last thing the world needs is another blogger, so it’s with a healthy mix of reservation and skepticism that I join the literary new world order of blogging. In actuality, I’m not even here by choice. I sort of consider blogging to be like watching a Star Trek episode or debating a Calvinist… it’s fun for an hour, but not particularly productive. However, everyone tells me I need to do it and everyone else seems to be doing it so who am I to resist such pressure.

I must give fair warning. It seems the sarcastic side of my personality comes out more when I write than when I’m speaking so if you find sarcasm offensive, you might not appreciate the humor of this blog. On the other hand, if you enjoy a good chuckle by looking at things from a different perspective, this may be the place for you.

In all seriousness, I’m truly thankful and blessed and so underserving of all God has done for me. My desire through this blog is to point others to Him, encourage and edify, and make the young people think I’m cool. (Well, two out of three right motives isn’t bad.)