"It's not the years, it's the mileage."

So here I am, staring down the barrel of another birthday. This time I am about to enter the last year of my fortieth decade, which doesn’t seem possible to me. I remember when my Dad was 49, and that seems like yesterday.

A couple of weeks ago we had the Turkey Rod Run in Daytona, an annual gathering of hot rods and classic cars from all over the country. The infield at Daytona International Speedway fills with vehicles of all ages, and almost all conditions. I was able to go to one of the days of the event and spend a few hours walking around, checking out the rides that made the journey to this year’s showcase. One thing jumped out at me as it does everytime I go to one of these shows: people are willing to ask–and pay–some crazy money for old vehicles.

Why is this? Why will people fork over huge sums for vehicles that, many times, just aren’t worth it? Much of it is nostalgia, the desire to recapture something from one’s past that is associated with a particular vehicle. People aren’t just this way about cars and trucks from their youth, however. If it’s not vehicles, it’s going to be something else. Many times we long for what has come before, idealize it, then pay whatever price is necessary to reconnect with those bygone days through the particular object that hearkens back to it. There’s just one problem: we can’t go back. And do we really want to? As Billy Joel sings in his song “Keeping the Faith,” “You know, the good old days weren’t always good, and tomorrow’s not as bad as it seems.”

There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia, to be certain, but we have to appreciate the journey from where we’ve been to where we are now. All the days behind us, good and bad, have brought us to this day. As we get older it’s easy to long for the times when it seemed things were simpler, easier. The days when we didn’t have as many aches and pains, doctor appointments, and physical maintenance issues. We bring some of that on ourselves, to be certain, but some of it is just the result of the passage of time.

At the Turkey Rod Run there were certainly some gorgeous vehicles, but most of those had been completely redone from the ground up. Original cars from decades ago are getting harder to find because most were used as intended: driven, enjoyed, and often abused. Indiana Jones put it this way: “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.” We get a lot of miles put on us, but that’s our intended use. Life is meant to be lived, and it’s lived forward–not in reverse.

Do I wish I was in my twenties again? I was certainly better off physically–younger, thinner, no gray hair. But I wouldn’t trade 49 year-old me for 29-year-old me for all the money in the world. I’m getting more miles on this frame every year, but that’s what I’m meant for. That’s what we’re all meant for. So enjoy the “good old days,” just don’t get lost back there. The best is yet to come.

(BTW, the picture I used for this article is for a decal that’s available on Amazon. I’ve got to have one. I don’t personally know the seller, but here’s the link in case you want one too: https://www.amazon.com/Makoroni-MILEAGE-Runner-Laptop-Sticker/dp/B07KYZV4PW.)

I have an Author Page on Amazon!

Now that my novel “All Have Sinned” is available for pre-order on Amazon (release date Jan. 11, 2020), I have an actual author’s page! I feel so official. Go over and check it out at http://www.amazon.com/author/marcusbuckley. And if you haven’t pre-ordered your Kindle copy, then what are you waiting for? The paper version will be available soon, and I have a special announcement coming about an event where you can bring your book and get it signed. Keep your eyes peeled here, and the book website at http://www.allhavesinned.com, and follow me on Facebook (@marcusbuckleybooks) and Instagram (@doc_marc).

There's a New Website in Town!

I’m still going to be posting stuff right here, but I’ve added something new. The website for my new novel “All Have Sinned” is up, and I’d love for you to check it out. You can find out more about the book and the characters, you can sign up for email updates, and you can find links to pre-order the electronic version on Amazon (the paper version will be available for pre-order soon). It’s also available for pre-order now on Apple Books.

Just go to http://www.allhavesinned.com and check it out. I also have a new page on Facebook dedicated to the novels, @marcusbuckleybooks, and I’d appreciate it if you would both like the page and share it. Thanks for your support!

So Much to Be Thankful For? Absolutely.

Soon there will be parades, dog shows, football games, and eating. Lots of eating. Somewhere in the midst of this we remember that it’s Thanksgiving and so, logically, we need to take some time to express our gratitude to the One Who give all good things.

Sometimes it can be tough.

For many people, Thanksgiving is a time of family, friends, food, and football. But not for everyone. There will be many who are not enjoying the holiday with loved ones, fighting over who gets the leg (or the neck if you’re Cousin Eddie from “Christmas Vacation”). They will, instead, be alone. They may have good food to eat, or they may not. They may have had a banner year, or 2019 may have been their worst one. For some, listing the things for which they are thankful will come easy. For others, not so much.

So what do we really have to be thankful for? Beyond the usual list, what in our lives are constants for which we can always express gratitude?

1. You are unique. There is no one else, anywhere or any when, just like you. God, the Creator of all things, wanted you–unique, special you.

2. God made you to have a relationship with Him. A real, personal relationship.

3. God loves you so much He made a way for you to have a clean slate with Him, apart from any works or effort on your part. Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for every wrong in your life–all you have to do is believe and appropriate it for yourself.

4. Regardless of who else you have (or don’t have) in your life, God will never leave you. Jesus said He would dwell with us when we trust in Him as our Savior, and He won’t turn His back on the one who believes in Him. Ever.

5. No matter what happens in this life, the believer is assured an eternity with the Creator who loves them.

When we have a time when it’s hard to find things to be thankful for, remember this: there is nothing to be more thankful for than the love, mercy, and forgiveness of God made available through Jesus Christ.

Novel Inbound!

This one has been a loooooong time coming, but I am excited to announce that I have a novel coming out after the first of the year. It’s an espionage thriller–if you like Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Dan Brown etc., then it’s right up your alley.

So why in the world is a pastor writing a suspense novel? I have enjoyed telling stories since I was a kid, and I’ve always loved writing. When I was recruited to apply for the FBI nearly 20 years ago, I went through that process for a little over a year before I finally decided it wasn’t the right thing for me and that door closed. Some friends encouraged me to write a story about it, and this highly fictionalized tale is a sort of “what-if.” I’ve always loved the suspense-thriller genre, so it was a natural progression for me to go for it.

I’ve also never been able to find much in the way of “Christian fiction” that was in this genre, so I wanted to write a book that was interesting for men and women alike but also touched on some of the core elements of what it means to be a Christ follower in everyday life. This “everyday life” just happens to be an FBI agent who is doing a lot of globetrotting to stop an insidious plot to kill a lot of innocent people. And while it’s filled with action, intrigue, and even a hint of romance, it’s clean enough that you won’t be embarrassed for your kids to find out you’re reading it ;).

I’ll be launching the website for it soon, and a sample will be there for you to peruse. You’ll be able to sign up for special emails about this book, book signings, and other upcoming novels in the series (yes, there’s going to be more than one!). I’ll also be telling you ways you can help me get this book out to the masses. I don’t have an advertising budget, so I’m going to need you to help with promotion by telling everyone you know. Thanks in advance!

Timing is Everything

Have you ever wondered why things happen when they do? Of all the times something could click into place, or fall apart, why now?

As I was starting to write this in my office earlier today one of the staff here at Oasis called my cell to let me know there was a vehicle in the parking lot outside. Someone in the vehicle had rang the doorbell but the staff person couldn’t get to the door. My office is at the far end of the hall and I didn’t hear it ring. I headed downstairs to see if I could catch them, and sure enough they were still in the parking lot.

I looked outside the glass door of the office and saw a late-model vehicle with four occupants, all looking down. At first I thought they were all on their phones, but as I approached I saw that their eyes were closed–they were praying. I stood there for a few moments trying to figure out how to get their attention without being intrusive when they looked up and saw me. The driver rolled down his window and introduced himself.

Patrick (not his real name) and his family are in town looking at homes. They are planning to relocate here from another state, so they are in the process of trying to find just the right place. They are a little anxious because they’re stepping out into the unknown somewhat. Their realtor attends the church I pastor (Oasis Church in Ormond Beach). Patrick and his family was telling her that one of their biggest fears was trying to find a new church home, so she told them when they move to the area they really need to give ours a try. They went by to look at a house down the street from the church, and decided to just stop by and see if anyone was here. When no one immediately came to the door, they got back in the truck and decided to pray for God’s will in the parking lot. It was at this point I had walked up.

They shared their story with me, how they are seeking to be obedient to what God is calling them to. It doesn’t make a lot of sense on the surface, they said, as they are leaving a lot of sure things for a lot more unknowns, but they are certain God is working all of these things out in His timing. I prayed with them in the parking lot, asked them to keep me in the loop, and they went on their way, encouraged by the turn of events.

Why was my blog-writing session interrupted by a seemingly random visit from people looking to relocate to our area? Because God was at work. Maybe He wanted to show Patrick and his family that He was working things out in their lives in ways beyond what they could see at the moment, but He was working nonetheless. Maybe He wanted to show me that the article I thought I needed to write should be about something else entirely. Maybe He wanted to show us that He is at work around us, in ways great and small. Maybe it’s all of this, and so much more, because He is God. And He is always at work around us.

And He is always right on time.

It’s Okay To Catch Your Breath–In Fact, You Need To

“So, how’s it going?”

“Covered up, man. I don’t feel like I can find enough hours in the day.”

“I know what you mean.”

Have conversations like this? I do. All the time. In spite of technology’s promise to make life simpler, it seems we’re more “covered up” than ever. Instead of  leaving work or school behind at the end of the day, it now follows us more easily than ever. There is a lot to be said for being able to work from a mobile platform , but it also means that those responsibilities are never more than a click or swipe away.

I understand I am as guilty of this as anyone. But I also realize just how important it is to maintain margins in our lives.

I can’t tell you how many times I have felt guilty taking any vacation days over the years. As a pastor there is always someone who needs you, a problem that needs to be solved, a question that needs answered. Regardless of your vocation (or place in school), your situation is likely the same. For someone who feels like they have to help everyone, fix every problem, and do it all well, it can be exhausting. Make no mistake–God always empowers us to do what He calls us to, without a doubt. But He also is clear that there is a need for rest. A need for margins.

The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron demonstrates skill on such a high level it seems almost supernatural. To say that such aerobatics requires precision and attention to detail is an understatement of laughable proportions. When you are flying jets in formation inches apart from one another at several hundred miles an hour the margins are extremely tight, and it is important to know your position at all times. In order to operate at that level, the pilots must always be at their very best.

What happens when there are no margins? There is no room for error. Like flying with the Blue Angels, only never coming in for a landing. Without a break, your skill level eventually becomes irrelevant. Inevitably, you run into something, more often than not damaging someone else in the process.

I don’t have the all the answers, but I have one for you today: make sure you have some margin in your life. Go for a walk. Go get a cup of coffee. Take some time and read something you want to read instead of something you have to. You will gain a lot by giving yourself some short-term margin. It may just help you get a perspective on how to gain some long-term margin as well.

New Stuff Coming!

So it’s been quite a while, but there’s a lot of new stuff that’s going to be coming this way. I’ve got some exciting news about a project that’s been in the works for a loooong time, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled. You can also sign up for notifications when new material is posted.