The “R” Word

RetiremeRocking Chairnt.


During the months leading up to my retirement date I had quite a bit of trouble simply wrapping my brain around the concept. It’s not that it was a new idea. I had been thinking, praying, and talking with a few close friends about it for over a year. It’s not that I didn’t think it was the right move. It seemed most of the conversations I had with close friends, and so many of the little “moments” and circumstances served to confirm for me that it was the right thing to do. Right for the church and right for me.

However, there were two big concepts I had trouble with:
How did I get here so fast? And, what next?

The first issue is nothing new. I’ve known people who have retired and they seem so…well, so old! I had (have?) a hard time using that word (“retirement,” not “old.” Ok…”old” too) in reference to myself! The older I get the faster time seems to go by. It’s cliché, I realize. But when something is so universally true, that’s what happens. It becomes cliché. But it’s a cliché that I feel in the depths of my soul. I mean, if this life is a bridge, I’m probably somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of the way across.

The second issue is a little more specific.

My church put on a lovely reception for Kathie and me that was very fun and touching. I remember thinking I should have set up a big poster with FAQs because I think I answered the same question several million times: “So, now what are you going to do?” I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I tried to answer it.

Is it typical to ask that question of someone who is retiring? Maybe it is, but I don’t think I was prepared with a good answer. I had some vague idea of some of the things I wanted to do but the truth is it was very vague and I was primarily looking forward to the free time to not worry so much about doing but to let myself just be. I had a hard time putting that thought into words, and looking back on that sentence, I realize that it still doesn’t sound like much of an answer, but there it is.

So now, about 7 weeks into this thing called retirement, I have found that, generally speaking, the adjustment is an easy one. That’s not to say that I feel like I have completely adjusted or that I have a better answer to the question, “What next?”

One adjustment example: I spent almost one whole day going through the 600 or so photos we took on a recent vacation. I culled (down to about 150), cropped, edited, ordered, captioned and uploaded to FB. (You can see them here.) I was surprised to find that I felt guilty about spending so much time on something that probably wasn’t important to anyone but me. But then again, that’s just the kind of thing I was looking forward to having the time for!

During the first few months of retirement I have also sensed the need to separate from my church for a time. This is both for me and for them. I’ve been attending a different church every week. While this has been good in some ways for the short term, it is not healthy over the long haul. (Plus, apparently Kathie hates it!) It will be another adjustment for me, when the time is right (…and if Kath has her way, the time may be right sooner than I thought…), to become a church member instead of a staff member. I haven’t been that since 1980.

I’m at the point now where I’m feeling the need to organize my time rather than just doing whatever whenever. So, my next step is to add some structure to my day. I want to write for this web site. (I promise that all my posts will not include this much “navel-gazing.”) I want to work on some musical projects. There are some other things I have in mind, but in order to be productive in any of these areas I hear that it’s important to have some discipline…my favorite thing…

Bottom line: So far, retirement is good. I recommend it.


Monday Morning Picks

Putting the Mini in Ministry
I really appreciated this article reminding us of “Small things we can all do to make a big difference in our churches.” Basic stuff that we sometimes forget.

It’s Ok to Be the “Away Team”
11_Tune_ICOM_JN“The church is now the visiting team in our culture. The crowd is not cheering for us. Any measure of “home-field advantage” the church may have once enjoyed has vanished. A new game plan is needed.”

The power of fear – by Seth Godin

Fear will push you to avert your eyes.

Fear will make you think you have nothing to say.

It will create a buzz that makes it impossible to meditate…

or it will create a fog that makes it so you can do nothing but meditate.

Fear seduces us into losing our temper…

and fear belittles us into accepting unfairness.

Fear doesn’t like strangers, people who don’t look or act like us, and most of all, the unknown.

It causes us to carelessly make typos, or obsessively look for them.

Fear pushes us to fit in, so we won’t be noticed, but it also pushes us to rebel and to not be trustworthy, so we won’t be on the hook to produce.

It is subtle enough to trick us into thinking it isn’t pulling the strings, that it doesn’t exist, that it’s not the cause of, “I don’t feel like it.”

When in doubt, look for the fear.


Genesis 2:18-25

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Genesis 2:18-25
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for[a] him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed[b] every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam[c] there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made[d] into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”[e]

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Who is your “suitable helper”?
Beyond sex, what are some implications of being “one flesh”?
Does your life reflect those implications?

Worship Fire

The fuel of worship is
a true vision of the greatness of God;

the fire that makes the fuel burn white hot is
the quickening of the Holy Spirit;

the furnace made alive and warm by the flame of truth is
our renewed spirit;

and the resulting heat of our affections is
powerful worship,
pushing its way out in confessions, longings,
acclamations, tears, songs, shouts,
bowed heads, lifted hands, and obedient lives.

– John Piper

Saturday’s Picks

Notecard Answers for Why I Believe the Bible
“As Christians we are to always be ready to give a defense of the hope that is within us (1 Pet. 3:15). The basis of this hope is our confidence that the Bible is God’s Word. It is trustworthy and sufficient…I’ve put these 5 together as something of a quick reference notecard for why I believe the Bible. I’m sure there is an acronym or something clever but I’ve not thought of it.”

Boredom Is Not a Problem to Be Solved
Stunning Teenage Girl in the Woods“You know the best antidote to boredom, I asked them? They looked at me expectantly, smartphones dangling from their hands. Think, I told them. Thinking is the best antidote to boredom. I am not kidding, kids. Thinking is the best antidote to boredom. Tell yourself, I am bored. Think about that. Isn’t that interesting?”

What if moms talked to each other the way they talk to their kids?
Very Funny!

Genesis 2:15-17

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Genesis 2:15-17
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[a] of it you shall surely die.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What have I told you to avoid?
Why do you think it seems so attractive?
When do you most want it?
How can you avoid it?

Today’s Picks

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

From Marty Duren:
11 Things NOT to Get Your Pastor for Pastor Appreciation Month

“Almost every pastor will express gratitude for almost any gift, unless, perhaps, it’s an industrial size canister of Hai Karate aftershave. So, in the vein of “How to be a Blessing not a Curse,” here’s a list of 11 things NOT to get your pastor to make Pastor Appreciation month that much more enjoyable…”

From Michael Kelly:
When Joy and Sorrow Erupt in the Same Refrain

“We live in the dual realities of what God has done and what He’s going to do; of the joy of salvation and the longing for redemption; of what is and what will be. And though we might not be aware of both of these realities in our daily experience, they’re there. Living together in our hearts, as the people of the already but not yet. Every once in a while, though, joy and sorrow erupt in the same refrain, just as they did in the days of Ezra.”

From David Santistevan:
7 Traits of a Trustworthy Worship Leader

“Worship leading is all about trust. Think about it. Worship is one of the most vulnerable acts in the universe…Worship cuts right to the heart. If the people you are leading don’t trust you…it doesn’t matter how talented you are. It doesn’t matter how amazing your band is. It doesn’t matter how strong your setlist is. They’re not going to follow…”

From Carey Nieuwhof:
How to Lead When You’re Over Your Head

Carey, as always, offers a ton of insightful and practical leadership advice.

Flipping Out

This longish article is perhaps the most entertaining thing you will read today. I admit that I have some regrets in life. The biggest, at this point, is that I didn’t watch game 5 of the ALDS between Texas and Toronto. But really, why would I watch? Because, as a close friend has said, “you never know when you’re going to see something you’ve never seen before.”

Genesis 2:4-7

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Genesis 2:4-7
These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

When no bush of the field[a] was yet in the land[b] and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist[c] was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Who do you think you are?
Who do you think I am?
How does the knowledge that I made you affect…
1. your outlook?
2. your priorities?
3. your behavior toward the other people I made?

My First Blog Post

I suppose it makes sense to start by explaining who I am and what you can expect to find here.

Who I Am

My name is Lloyd Hamilton and I have recently retired from 35 years as a full-time church staffer. The first 6 years was as a youth minister and the next 29 as minister of worship. Those were my titles, but the truth is I’ve done a little bit of everything when it comes to serving on a church staff.

I’ve been married to Kathie, my high school sweetheart, since 1974 and we have 2 grown daughters and 3 (so far) grandkids. (I’m fairly confident that they will show up here from time to time.)

I love Jesus, my family, the church, worship, music, movies and Cincinnati Reds baseball. These are the things that will drive the content of this site, but I have a curiosity about a wide range of subjects so you never know what might show up here.

What You Can Expect

  1. I plan to write about things that I care about…whatever is on my mind at the time. I’ve already mentioned some of those things so it will likely, but not necessarily, relate to one of those areas. My plan is to write and post 2 or 3 times per week.
  2. The second thing I plan to do is to share links to other material that I find helpful, challenging, informative or simply entertaining.
  3. The third category of posts will be devotional in nature. I have this thought that, when we read scripture, we often approach the text by asking questions of it…and of God. I believe this is a helpful way to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the content. But I wonder what would happen if we turned that around? What if we read scripture to see what it (and God) is asking of us? My plan is to read through the Bible and share the questions it seems God is asking of me…to let Him examine me. I’ll share a little more about this as we go, but I plan to post one of these “God Questions” each day.
  4. Finally, I plan to have a page where you can find some arrangements of hymns that I’m making available for those of you who are fellow worship leaders and church musicians. I’m offering arrangements of hymns only because they are in the public domain and there is no need to deal with copyrights. These are worship band arrangements of hymns that I have written and used over the years. Check the “Hymn Arrangements” page for more details.

Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to share and comment on anything you find here. I hope you stay with me for a while and that we get to know each other better in the coming months and years as we travel across the bridge together.