Friday, December 10, 2010


"Friends" is an interesting word. There are so many different definitions for "friends".

Some people define who they are by the "friends" they have. Others have no interest in having "friends". They like being alone and without any connections.

"Friends" can be people who you attend an event, church, or club with. The mere proximity of another human makes you "friends". Guys usually have "friends" who they talk to about every six months and that may come in the form of a brief "Whats up man?" Guys express friendship by doing something together or working alongside one another.
Girls are much different. Friends share through communication. Talking is big with girls to be "friends". The talking does not even have to be meaningful and personal....(with the exception of talking about your kids). Although from what I've heard a "close" girl friend is willing to listen to the deep, personal things.

Usually people want a certain kind of "friend". Kinda like shopping for a car. What make, model, appearance, factory warranty, flaws, mileage, and don't forget maintenance are included? "Friends" can be a way to exchange goods and services.

Bottom line...who is going to pick a "friend" where they are on the giving end of the deal.

Who in their right mind would give for someone else's benefit and not their own?

Who would give knowing that they will be betrayed?

Who is seriously going to want a high maintenance friend?

Who is a friend that will give up everything - even his life - for his friend?
Who is that sort of friend?

John 15:15 - I no longer call you servants...instead I have called you friends.
John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I am no stranger to birthing. I have alot of experience in the maternity ward at the hospital. Four times I have experienced the pain and toil of delivering babies. There are many different roles that people play during the birthing process. I was such an important part of our childrens' birth.

Luckily, the same doctor has delivered three of our babies. He had a great love for soccer. This provided great comfort to me during the deliveries.

Okay, Lisa may have a different viewpoint of the birthing process. It seemed to be much more difficult for her than me. Her job appeared to be more personal and critical to success and completion. My role was one of support and encouragement BUT not so important.

Recently, my birthing role has come back into service. Our church is birthing another church. We at Columbus Road are planting a church in Pittsfield, Illinois. (Go to for updates.)

I was fortunate to lead worship and preach at Pittsfield First this last Sunday. It felt like I was out for recess. I was enjoying doing what I love to do but with little responsibility for the group.

It was to exciting to support Pastor Mike, Keri, and the rest of the planting team. I am so excited to see the new baby (church). It will be great to see it grow and develop over the coming months.

It hit me on the way back from the services that there is a big difference between being in the delivery room and delivering the baby. I am back to my encouraging, supportive ways but my part pales to the part of the ones who are doing the real work.

May everyone who is anticipating the new birth be supportive through prayer and encouragement.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Learning Cycle

So I take my daughter on this awesome wilderness trip to Canada, eh. The design of the journey was to stretch both Madison and I in the area of leadership and learning. What we didn't know was the extent that God would be placing us into His school of protection and provision.

Thursday was a day of talk and travel into Michigan. We stayed in a town called Paw Paw. Friday was a day of reconnnecting with an old friend, Bob Moore. He has been my friend for over twenty five years. I wanted to demonstrate to Madison that "friends are friends forever if the Lord's the Lord of them" (thanks Michael W.). The visit was outstanding but we needed to make it into Canada by Friday evening.
We left Detriot and entered Windsor, Canada. This was Madison's first time to Canada. We started up the road for a few hours before stopping at the famous Tim Hortons donut shop. We stopped and pounded down a coffee and maple covered donut. Little did we know what was coming our way in twenty minutes.

As we headed up the 401 (the heaviest traveled freeway in Canada) traffic began to get heavy. The flow was erratic and cars were slowing and speeding up constantly. As we approached the rush hour traffic, the car in front of me stopped rather abruptly. I applied the brakes but to no avail - I hit the guy in front of me. A four car pile up; air bags deployed; and a big cloud of smoke filled the interior of the car.

Madison immediately said, "It is okay dad". Those words will never leave my mind. So comforting, so strong for a fourteen year old. We got out of the car to examine the damage as well as to check on everyone else. No one was hurt but four cars were smashed up. The reality set in.

Police, fire trucks, ambulances and tow trucks convened. It was surreal. There stood my little girl in all the chaos - strong and intent. It took about an hour to clear the scene. As we sat in the cab of the tow truck, I heard a little sniffling. I asked Madison, "Why are you crying?" She said, "Because God protected us, it could have been much worse."

Isn't it amazing how God gives us some of the most unlikely teachers in the strangest circumstances to show us His protection over us?

Monday, September 13, 2010


Well, it is only a couple of days away... Madison and I are headed to Canada for our great adventure. We are going to Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada for a back-packing, hiking, portaging, and general wilderness adventure.

We have been preparing for this for quite some time and now the time is closing in. I am so excited to spend the time with her. We will be leaving on a Thursday and coming back on the following Saturday. That is a long time to be with one person alone.... especially your dad. You may want to pray for Madison that she has patience and endurance with me. (haha)

I am also excited to learn and grow. It will be such a different experience from what I am used to on a day-to-day basis. No cell phones, computers, televisions, and very few people. It will be Madison, myself, thirteen other people, a journal, and a Bible (and hopefully enough food).

Can you imagine all the voices, noise, clutter, schedules, meetings and responsibilities evaporating right before your eyes? My plan is to fill that void with God's presence, attentiveness to my daughter, and a time of retooling.

I would ask you to pray that I see what I need to see, hear what I need to hear, and do what I need to do. Oh, wait, maybe that should be my prayer request every day......

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I really like music. I like to listen to it, I like to sing along with someone else singing, and I like to play my guitar and make music (or attempt to). I have always liked music from as far back as I can remember - Christian, country, rock, classical, and even a little jazz music have all been a part of the music journey.

Most days I find myself listening to very little music because of a busy schedule filled with practices and meetings. Usually when I do listen, it is not just for pleasure or relaxation but rather as a filler. I usually play some music in my office when time and people allow. Once into a busy day however, I just don't get much of a chance.

Last week, I was on the road alot.... I mean truck driver alot - meetings, athletic events and parental resonsibilities kept me in the car for the better part of the week. So as you have already probably guessed.... I listened to a ton of music.
I have my collection of music that is pretty broad and most of it is made up of songs associated with memories of the past - youth, victories, defeats, joys and sorrows. Initially, listening was emotionally neutral. I was going down the road, singing along being pretty much care free. But then something started to change.

Negative, empty, sorrowful and slightly rebellious FEELINGS started to rush in. Thoughts of old friends, three of which died in car accidents...Jason Alexander, Don Abbott and Doug Zickel. Each one of these guys were friends of mine at different phases and times of my life. As these old songs played, back came the memories.... wow, talk about getting hit by a train.....

(As a side note, I have a friend whose mother listened to Patsy Cline alot while he was growing up. You may not remember Patsy Cline or know of her but all of her songs were sad and talked about a broken heart. My friend's mom had huge issues with depression. Patsy probably didn't help.)

After the "feeling train" had flattened me, I started to think about the value of even holding onto those songs. Should I get rid of them? Invite those feelings in again sometimes as an old friend? Ignore the train and stand on the tracks?

This much I know - music is very powerful and can help shape our attitudes (which I seem to have heard something about recently), feelings and inner spirits.
What do you think? What should I do?

Monday, August 2, 2010


Is it not the most crazy thing to worry? We worry about so many different things at so many levels. We worry about our children, our jobs, our health, the health of others, the economy, the environment, and even the condition of the world.

You know exactly what I am talking about. The thoughts come rolling into our minds immediately after a situation or circumstance occurs that remains unsolved and unsolvable at that moment. As we start mentally examining all of the scenarios, our thoughts start gaining speed and rolling down hill. With each new potential disastrous outcome the speed picks up and more impending doom attaches itself to a big cruddy thought ball.

The more I think about it the worse the adverse possibilities get. Worry then is at full speed with thoughts of my world crashing - totally consuming me. Ever been there? Or would the better question be - been there this week?

Okay, maybe you are now wanting to know what I was worried about.

I received a call last Tuesday evening late. It was 11:45 PM and I was in bed. The phone rings and Matt's name comes up on the screen. I think to myself, "No deal, he is probably just looking for me to answer a question or help fund his happy life." Strangely Matt's roommate Mike (our adopted son) answers. Exact words... " Papa Bob, Matt's not doin' so good ". Fear, worry, concern all came rushing in.

He went on to tell me that Matt was in the hospital because he had become dehydrated during practice. From four thirty until about nine, he was not able to hold anything down. Mike in his youthful wisdom, convinced Matt it was time to head to the E.R. When we talked, Mike assured me that Matt was going to be released and that things were looking up.

Three liters of I.V. later, Matt was good to go and ended up eating out at the Huddle House in Greenville at 3:00 a.m. after the whole ordeal. (I think that is hilarious) For me it was not that simple. As we hung up the phone, all the thoughts came crashing in. Questions about what to do? Who to call? Could I talk with anyone? Then the second tier of thoughts came in....the bad ones.

Is he gonna be okay? Could he have problems tomorrow? Will he manage his body better? Could he die? You know the drill. It started to become so big, heavy and fast moving. In a very quiet moment, I was reminded that God is in complete control and that the best care Matt would ever need, God would supply. I was reminded of the many times where I let my thoughts run wild for no reason. I was reminded how worry, doubt, and fear originate from the evil one and not my Father.

Two verses came to mind as I began to fade into sleep knowing that I would find out in the morning the rest of the story. Philippians 4:8 - which in my words tells us to think about things God want us to think about and not what the enemy has designed. The second one is II Corinthians 10:4-5. This verse tells me to turn over every thought to God by not allowing the bad ones into my mind. Kinda like having a security guard for my mind not allowing the bad stuff in. So yes, I was worried this week.... for just a few minutes. Then God's gentle voice changed my thought process. Will I let crazy worries in again? Probably. But I pray that God's reminder will return to my mind a little quicker each time.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Outstanding Job

I come away from this evening with a heart filled with gratitude. Gratitude toward a group of people who have linked arms to serve the Lord in little ol' Quincy, Illinois. This group of people never cease to amaze me. They have abounding energy and drive to do their best for the Lord.

We took a moment at a quarterly vision meeting to look back for just an hour to see what God has done through us over the past three months. We have seen people come to Christ, follow the Lord in baptism and step out and serve in amazing ways.

We just completed our second S.M.I. (Summer Missionary Internship). Our teens served in our church plant by supplying a full scale vacation Bible school. The teens did all the work from top to bottom. I am so glad that my daughters are able to be a part of our youth ministry. Pastor Jeff and all the sponsors that support and lead do an outstanding job. People like the Browns, Casulas, Baumanns and Andersons make it a very healthy and growing environment. While the Webels and Matt Cowman helped make the mission trip a great growth experience.

Our Childrens' ministry under the direction of Shane and Jen Wingerter has had an incredible summer. The Summer of Discovery is a one of the best home grown ministries that I have ever been associated with. The crew that serve along side them are faithful, talented and engaging. I love to see our children learn - and boy do they learn and enjoy it. I want to say thanks to all of them for all that they do. I am blessed to have had my children go through that ministry.

Our lay leaders do such a good job making the wheels role around here. From ushering to greeting, from finances to facility, from lock up to security, it is nice to have everyone play a part and do it so well with a joyful heart. Thank you deacons for serving in such an outstanding way.

Support staff is so important in a church and we have a great group that do that also. Our sound people, our visual team, janitors, lawn care, and office staff make it easy to keep pressing forward for God's glory.

Pastor Jeff and Julie and Pastor Mike and Keri give so willingly and sacrificially. Your impact on this place is immeasurable. I believe that God placed us here with many gifts and abilities to equip the saints for ministry. Thank you for taking Ephesians 4:11-12 seriously. May God bless your every effort in the coming days.

I guess I just want everyone to know that you do an OUTSTANDING JOB! I am blessed and privileged to be a pastor in this church.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

Okay... it finally happened....the inevitable!! This moment happens in most every young man's life and it is a right of passage, a moment of sheer delight, an event that is never forgotten. It is the day when they out-wit, out-play, out-think and out-perform their father. The moment in time where the goal that they have been working for for so long is accomplished.

This past weekend our family decided to take a quick overnight trip. We did not plan this - so finding a place to go on 4TH of July weekend was a challenge. Through a long and tangled process we tripped upon a resort in Iowa. (that sounds kinda funny) In the south central part of Iowa is a huge lake called Lake Rathbun. The state of Iowa has developed a beautiful resort and premiere golf course next to the lake. It is call the Honey Creek Resort.

We decided as a family to go up after church on Sunday. We would dine, golf, swim, shop and just generally chill out for the day. I think everyone enjoyed the laid back atmosphere and beautiful view. As the day was closing in on us, Matt and I began to talk about the golf course and how much fun we were gonna have in the morning. We faded in our room with visions of birdie puts and long drives.

Morning came and out the door we went with bags in hand and rain coming down on our heads. It wasn't gonna bother us. We had a premiere golf course practically to ourselves and nowhere to go and no time to be finished. It was just Matt and I for a special round of Golf.

The conditions were not the best but when you play on a course that could handle three inches of rain from the night before, you realize that you are on a pretty nice course. Matt and I battled the first four holes and were even going into the fifth hole. This is where his special day started. He beat me on holes 5,6,8,and 9 to finish the front nine ahead by four strokes.

He didn't say much other than, "are you keeping track of the score by hand?" See, we were in one of those carts that had a gps and a computerized score card. As we started the back nine, I thought to myself, no big deal he usually fades on the back or blows up on a hole." We went even on the next three holes and I even got one back. As the round continued he made shot after shot after shot. I realized at hole sixteen, I was going down and not gonna be getting up. Matt offically and convincingly had defeated his father - this old man - in a head-to-head golf match.

Quietly, he asked me for the score card as we exited the cart. He put it in his pocket and never said another word.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Do What You Love and Love What You Do

I have been coaching soccer for almost twenty years now. I started my coaching career in 1993 at Norwalk High School in Norwalk, Ohio as an assistant junior varsity coach. I have moved through the ranks coaching at multiple levels and in different capacities. I have had the privilege of coaching hundreds of players and coaching with many outstanding individuals.

Coaching my children has been a high point. I coached Matt from the age of three all the way through high school. The girls and I have been together from the start also. I look forward to watching them develop over the next seven years.

I am just getting finished with my sixteenth year as a soccer camp director. Well over a thousand kids have attended the camps. The camps are usually quite similar. It is generally extremely hot because it's summer. The days seem long and the kids are tired. Fun games are played and talent is developed. World cup competitions, prizes and cold drinks create the atmosphere of the camps. Each year we take a camp photo and design different shirts to remember it by.

I was reflecting this morning on my way back from a camp in a neighboring community, (Keokuk, Iowa). I asked myself the question, Why do I go to all this effort? Is it the extra cash for summer activities? Is it for the status and accomplishment? Is it something that I just "do"?

The answer is a definitive "no" to all three questions. The reason I do soccer camps is simple. I am doing what I love to do. I love the game of soccer, I love to coach kids and I love to coach with other men that love the same thing.

So will I be coaching ten years from now? I will probably will be. Maybe my grandchildren, maybe your children or even your grandchildren.

Do what you love and love what you do!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Glenn The Lawn Care Guy

Have you ever thought about what it will be like when you're..... let's say 79? I have been at a Bob Evans in Florida before eleven a.m. That is one impression I have of what people do at that age.. they shop for senior meal discounts. I have envisioned sitting in a big recliner and watching endless television shows with five thousand choices from a satellite. Occasionally I think of sitting in a senior center playing bridge or chess with a group of other seniors. None of these options really look too appealing to me.

I know one guy though who has taken an entirely different route. He is 79 and uses his hours and days in a totally different way. He uses his time and abilities for others. This guy takes care of a five acre plot of land on the corner of Columbus Road and 36th street in Quincy, Illinois. Yip - you heard me right, 79 and doing all of the lawn care for the Columbus Road church family.

Since I arrived six years ago, he has faithfully mowed, trimmed, fertilized and manicured our church lawn. For those of you who haven't seen it... it looks great!!! He is amazing with the time and attention he puts into this part of our ministry. Daily he is at work on some aspect of his ministry. He works tirelessly until it is just right...nearly perfect.
He has recently been growing new grass, fixing low spots, trimming, and edging. He even encourages the grass to grow more by fertilizing and cutting it all the time...ha. It is no exaggeration to say that Glenn is one of the most dedicated workers of our entire church family.
So back to the question...what will it be like for you at 79? When I get to be 79, I sure hope that my time and my life are dedicated like Glenn's are. I don't want to be finding ways to save my money or spend my money at that age... Glenn, I wanna be like you when I grow up.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I thought I would share a few photos of my race car and answer some questions about why I race.
When did you get interested in racing ? I was born in Knoxville, Iowa. Anyone who knows anything about racing recognizes that Knoxville is a hub for dirt track racing in the Midwest. My dad would take me to the races.

How did you end up getting into racing here? One name ...Randy Uppinghouse.... We share the same love for the sport. He has been around it all his life and knows how to tune a car. We hooked up at church one Sunday and the rest is history.

Why do you race? I race because it is an outlet. With my calling it is easy to be consumed with the challenges of the ministry. There is no time (not even a second) in a race car to think about anything other than what you are doing. It requires one hundred percent focus because you are making many decisions a second. In the car you have to be able to multi-task and make split-second decisions.

How long do you think you will do it ? I have a personal philosophy that you can't wait to start living until you have time or money. You will never live. There is a time for everything. I have been in the ministry since I was twenty-five, and I have not made the time for lots of hobbies. Randy and I have an agreement to take this racing thing one year at a time.

What is your favorite part? That is a tough question...I love the side by side racing, the speed, the quick decision making and extreme focus that it takes. Let me say this....It's a lot more difficult than it looks.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bob and Jeanette

So I am blogging this evening about Bob and Jeanette, that is Bob and Jeanette Speckhart. I really don't know where to begin. They are such a blessing to me as a pastor. I wish that every guy that ever pastored would have a "Bob & Jeanette" in his congregation.

I was again reminded of their value and contribution this past week in their absence. Jeanette was on a mission to Carolina.... potty training one of her v.i.p's. As I was talking to Bob just this evening, I shared with him that for us they are like the person who warms up the car so when everyone gets in they are not only comfortable but ready to go. See, Bob and Jeanette are first arrivers at every service. They open the doors, make the coffee, turn on the lights, and have smiles waiting for our starting line up. They are generally here before the pastors, singers, and teachers.... they get us going and it passes through the entire building.

Not only do Bob and Jeanette warm up the car, they make the car go faster. Our church has changed so much and so rapidly in the past few years. Most people want to apply the brakes when a corner is waiting ahead. NOT Bob and Jeanette.... I think they both have a hidden love for speed. They amaze me with their service to the Lord and their willingness to change and move forward for the cause of Christ. I pray that I always move ahead in God's path quickly and without hesitancy (just like them).

Finally, Bob and Jeanette understand that a crucial part of having a great race is taking care of the car-care details. They are constantly aware of overlooked details of ministry and they are more than willing to fill in the gaps no matter how unnoticed it may be. Turning off lights, cleaning up the kitchen, sorting through old files - none of these "maintenance" tasks are too insignificant for the Speckharts. And each of them keeps the ministry running smoothly.

They take mission trips a couple of times a year. He is a greeter at our church, works on the mission team, serves a our comp controller on a volunteer basis, and does hospital visitation. Jeanette is an active member of CWA, mission team member, key board player on the praise team, and runs our hospitality center in common grounds on Sundays.

Oh, did I happen to mention that Bob is 72 and Jeanette is 69.

We are blessed to have these partners in ministry at Columbus Road. Don't quit the race! Keep doing your part! You may be blessing your pastor.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

No "Clean Gene" There

This picture is hilarious to me!!! Anyone who has hung with me at all knows that there is no way that this could be a room occupied by a Cowman child. I have my hangers color coordinated and all my shirts hang in the same direction. As a recovering perfectionist with a tendency to be a tad compulsive, one wonders just how people are born with such diverse personalities and traits.

I have two children who must have received from me the "clean gene". I have two other children who must have not received the "clean gene". These particular children are great. They are very social, fun loving and kind. Of the four of my children they would be least attached to personal belongings. They are not very sentimental when it comes to things.

For the better part of ten years, I have been trying to convince, plead, beg, demand and manipulate someone to clean their room. When asked she willingly complies. She regularly and conveniently closes her door, with the hope that I will just walk on by and forget to look.

This morning she forgot to shut the door.

As I walked by her room I smiled and actually chuckled a little bit. A tornado had hit again but as for this girl she was living large - she was on to more important things. I will go home tonight and ask her to clean her room. She will jump right up and do it with a good attitude but this one thing I know.... She will not be cleaning anything anytime soon because she chooses to.

The take away.... celebrating what makes a person unique versus trying to make them comform to your image is alot less painful for both individuals. Next time you find yourself wanting someone to change for your benefit, take a moment to appreciate what makes them so unique and special to your life.
Just thought you might want to see the closet!!

Monday, January 18, 2010


I had not been inspired to blog this past week. Lots of things going on - activities and to-do lists. But coming into the church this week, I came across an interesting sight that quickly turned my thoughts to how life goes sometimes..... Tangled

I came down from my office to find a young lady who had tangled her hair so bad that she could not get the brush out of her hair. Her mother came in looking for assistance from Carol, our church receptionist.... she can do anything. They began the long process of pulling the hair out of the brush and away from the other hair.

This seemed to be a very delicate process that took time, attention, and even involved a little pain. This particular tangle was so difficult that even "Carol the Great" could not get the tangle out. So the family packed up and off to the mall they went seeking back up. The local hair salon was ready to help. They put a half a bottle of conditioner in the young ladies hair plus cut off the tips of the bristles on the hairbrush. Finally the job was done and her hair was untangled.

Life can be like tangled hair. People start out with good intentions, (brushing your hair is a good thing!!) but out of nowhere everything gets so messed up. One bad move, a poor decision, moving too quickly and everything is tangled in a mess.

Getting untangled in life is also much like untangling hair. Sometimes the tangle comes out with just a little bit of force and effort. Other times it is a slow methodical step by step process which requires time and attention. The worst tangles in life require help. Help from ourside, beyond your capacity, above what one person can do.

The take away from tangled hair.... What area of your life has become tangled? Do you need help from someone else to get untangled? Do you know who can help? What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I cleaned out a closet at the church yesterday. I was in one of those moods. The kind of mood that screams, "no more clutter". It is a closet that is next to one of the main entrances of the church. It is amazing what a person can find in a catch all - "we might use that someday"- kind of place.

We are all so similar...we manage the things that should not be managed, hold onto things that have no worth, and make room for more. Columbus Road is no exception to the rule. In fact, churches can be the worst. Who has the authority to throw out a twenty year old donated chair with a rip in it? Ha!

Back to the closet...we kept a 1990 Chysler car radio from a van we no longer own, a broken piece of glass, a window that no longer exists at our church, parking lot sealer that had gone bad five years ago, an electric room heater that was broken, and my favorite - a vinyl church sign that was over ten years old.

It is easy to rip on clutter and closets but as I was cleaning it out this thought went through my mind - if my mind was a closet and someone started to clean it out, how much would be thrown away? I know for sure that thoughts that I have from the past would be cleared out. There is nothing good about trying to manage thoughts that cannot be managed. I bet someone would throw out my thoughts of fear and doubt. Those thoughts take up too much room - room that could be used for courage and hope. Any wrong thought that consumes my time and energy and priority would be tossed out with the 1990 Chrysler radio.

Take away... if minds were closets, we would need a big dumpster...ha!