[I'm re-running this post for reasons that will become obvious as you read it.]
My mentor, friend, colleague, and one-time parishioner, Ron Claussen, has written and published a book of devotions called What? God...You Want Me To Do Something?
Back when I was a new pastor, called to serve a church in northwestern Ohio twenty-one years ago, God blessed me big time: Ron was serving a neighboring parish composed of two congregations, each about three miles from me. The day after I arrived on the scene, he visted me and gave me the best advice on being a pastor I've ever heard. "Love the people," he told me.
Whenever I was disappointed that I wasn't proving to be the Lutheran version of Billy Graham, packing them in Sunday after Sunday, or when the grey winter skies, so prominent on the flat farmland that surrounded us, brought me down, my wife co-conspired with Ron. She called him and said, "Ron, it's time" and unaware of their conspiracy and amazed by his providential timing, I received a call from Ron, who asked, "Want to go out to lunch today?" Because of his listening ear and his solid Biblical counsel, I always felt better after those lunches!
The area where we served in northwestern Ohio included the most-heavily Lutheran county in the United States, Henry County. (The building facilities of the church where I served as pastor, Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Okolona, Ohio, set on the line between Henry and Defiance Counties.) We used to joke that you couldn't spit without hitting a Lutheran there and Lutheran church buildings dotted every hamlet and just about every other country road. Each of them was close to being packed to the rafters on Sunday mornings. Because there were such strong ties among those churches and because unlike the rest of us, Ron had taken the time to figure out how everybody in a four-county area were related to one another, he was known and beloved by every member of every one of those churches. We pastors thought of Ron as our "bishop" and of ourselves as his assistants.
But it wasn't just the Lutherans who sensed the powerful presence of Christ and His love in Ron. Congregations of several different denominations facing pastoral vacancies harbored the hope that maybe they could cajole Ron into becoming their pastor. He also had an easy way of relating to non-believing people, an authentically friendly manner that earned their confidence and their trust.
When he became development director for the Filling Memorial Home of Mercy in Napoleon, Ohio, a Lutheran facility for severely and profoundly mentally retarded children and adults, churches and individuals from throughout our area became more deeply involved in volunteering and financially supporting the institution. On a bigger stage, Ron shared Christ's love and "loved the people." They, in turn, saw the Filling Home as a great way to share the love of Christ with those in need and, at the same time, support the ministry of a pastor they had come to revere. (One of the auxiliary blessings that flowed from Ron going to the Filling Home is that he and his wife and family joined the congregation I served as pastor!)
Ron has retired and now confined to a wheelchair as the result of being victimized by polio back in 1952, he still is loving the people. He has an active email ministry and has, as I've mentioned, written and published What? God...You Want Me To Do Something?
I heartily recommend it for you to help you grow in your life of faith. It's composed of 52 weekly devotional pieces that each conclude with a challenge to the reader to compose their plans for living the devotion over that seven day period. The devotions, in other words, are a lot like Ron: A terrific communicator of the Good News of Jesus Christ, his life has always nonetheless been his greatest witness.
Getting your own copy of Ron's book will be a bit of a challenge. You can't, unfortunately, order it from Amazon. But the effort you take will be worth it. Here's how to get it:
(1) If you live outside of Ohio, send a check for $13.75 to Ramblings from Ron Ministries. (That's $12.00 plus shipping and handling.)
(2) If you live in Ohio, send a check for $14.50 to Ramblings from Ron Ministries. (That's $12.00 plus shipping and handling, plus sales tax.) For accurate record-keeping, please note your county of residence on the Memo line of your check.
(3) Be sure to note your return address on accompanying piece of paper.
(4) For every additional book, add 50-cents to cover shipping and handling.
(5) Mail your orders to: Ramblings from Ron Ministries, 24544 Kammeyer Road, Defiance, Ohio 43512.
There is nobody I respect more in pastoral ministry than Ron Claussen. He is the gold standard, as far as I'm concerned. Do yourself a favor and buy this inspiring book.