Thursday, February 14, 2013

each day in the word

Until my next "adventure," I have started a new blog, a daily devotional accessible at

I am hoping to get lots of help writing this new blog as I plan to have a new post every morning.

We hope to see you there!
Mister Rodgers aka Larry

Saturday, February 9, 2013

how's life?

My wife has been helping a lady from our church fellowship fix up one of her rental houses. She is helping her because her husband just died. While she was at the house, she called me and asked if I could come over and do some minor repairs. Being presently unemployed, I wonder about each activity I take on. Is this what I really should be doing now? Is it really the appropriate use of my time? But since James defines real religion as visiting widows in their affliction; and the prophets expound on the curses that God will be bring against those who oppress and do not support the widows; and since God Himself singles out widows as those to whom He does acts of great kindness, I figured maybe I’d come.

This lady’s husband had been battling cancer for eleven years. He had been through a whole regime of treatments. Finally the doctors said nothing more could be done. His spirits were good till the very end, but, to say the least, he had been through it.

His widow had been strong at the funeral. She was poised and controlled. “How does she do it?” I heard several people ask. But death has a way about it. This week has been tough for her. I had this really ignorant idea that there would be some sort of closure for her when her husband finally died.
I think I understand why Jesus wept at the grave of His good friend Lazarus. He wept just moments before He called Lazarus out of the grave. He had told his disciples two days earlier that He was going to raise Lazarus.

We had a speaker at our camp who declared that when his wife died, he would rejoice. “She’ll be in glory,” he said. “She’ll be with her Savior. Is that something to weep about?”

Paul writes that as Believers, our whole lives are about the resurrection. “If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most pitiful.” Paul tells the Philippians: “My desire is to depart and be with Christ.” Phil 1:23 As Believers, this truly is our desire also. That’s why believe. If we believe in this life only, we are creatures to be pitied. 1 Cor 15:19. Regardless, I won’t be rejoicing if my wife dies. My kids tell me they hope I die before their mother for they dread observing the grief I would go through.

Jacob told Pharaoh, “The days of my sojourning have been few and evil.” To be a human being and to be alive is to know pain. Yet Jacob’s complaint about the shortness of his life came before he complained about its painfulness. In Ecclesiastes the writer mourns over and over that there is nothing under the sun that is truly satisfying in life but then he writes, “a living dog is better than a dead lion.” Eccl 9:4.

I was in a car accident a few months after my first daughter was born. I was knocked unconscious and as I was waking up in the ambulance, my brain rebooted. It went through all the significant events of my life from earliest childhood. First one sad thing, and another, and another. Then I remembered Roxanne, then Story Book, then this little baby. “Is this true?” I remember thinking? Am I really married to Roxanne? And we have a little girl named Priscilla? And I live at a Bible camp? I’d always wanted to live at a Bible camp.” I couldn’t believe it. It was too good! And this was my life.

When God created life on this earth, He observed what He had done and saw that it was good. But when He observed His human creation together with all the other life He had created, we read, “And behold! It was very good!” Gen 1:31

So why did Jesus weep at the grave of Lazarus and why should we weep (and not celebrate) at funerals? Because life is good. 
Our God, the only God, the God who is good and who only can do good, is first and foremost the Creator of Life. When something so good is extinguished, how can one be so bold, so ignorant as to not be sad? Life is so good that the Author of Life gave His Son over to death so that this life within the cosmos might become eternal life and “what is sown perishable is raised imperishable; and what is sown in dishonor is raised in glory.” 1 Cor 15:42, 43.

From millenniums of observation, we humans know all about evil and the consequences of evil. We know there really is no reforming of evil. Death is evil’s only solution. Only death can bring an end to all that is bad. Scripture tells us that though “the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom 6:23. Death is so sad. But life is so good, God doesn’t want it to end for us

Writing has been what I ached to do ever since I was terminated from my reporting job at the Mesabi Daily News about 30 years ago. Now that I’ve been terminated from there again, I get to write (please check out the Henry Sardina story at: So, “how's life?” you might ask me. "Good! Thanks for asking!" And thank you very much for reading!

Monday, February 4, 2013

who's got your back?

“This would not have happened if I was still at the Mesabi Daily News,” stated my previous boss in an e-mail.

I had contacted her to request a letter of recommendation to have on hand as I begin my new job search. She had heard that I had been terminated and she was disgusted. She promised me a “GLOWING” letter and suggested letting her know where I was might be applying for work "in order to spin your talents to the job at hand and how good of a fit you would be.”  

Shelly was a great boss--hands down better than any boss I’ve ever had. She had the natural qualities of a leader. In whatever group she was in, people deferred to her. But she also had the very deliberate qualities of a good leader. She made sure she was well informed. If any of us had any question about what we were doing or what we should do, she expected an e-mail. Then she quickly responded. Almost always she affirmed what we asked. But when necessary, she would give specific and concise instructions on how to proceed differently. If we disagreed with her, we would come to her office and discuss the situation. Hers was the final word. We knew that, but Shelly carefully considered our input and she let us know that she did not consider our input to be defying her. Of course some did not like her hands on approach. It takes a certain amount of humility to be led.

But me, I’m a great follower. To use Biblical language, servanthood is what I was made for. 

When I was a teenager, my uncle and I did a 40 mile trek over a mountain trail near Bailey, Colorado. He had the map and the compass and with every step, he looked for the next marking that identified where the trail went. He was not a talkative man. For the first couple of hours, I don’t think he said a word. But then he stopped and looked very carefully at his map. Then he looked back and looked very carefully through the woods. And then he said, “I’m pretty sure we are lost. But I do have a compass. So I think we’ll keep going. Are you okay with that?” I nodded. As the sun started to go down, we found a good flat place to lay our sleeping bags. Very early the next morning, a couple of chattering squirrels demanded that we get up and get moving. As we started out again, my uncle said, “We’re still lost, you know.” I didn’t know. But that was all right. I figured it was his problem, not mine. He did find our way back, and it was a great hike. I would have been delighted to go again the next day, as long as he led the way.. 

My sister said to Roxanne before we got married, “He’ll be a great husband. He’ll do anything for you, I have trained him well." Roxanne agrees that this has been the case. I’m guessing though, that at the time, she found some cause for concern from what my sister said. I was to be her husband and thus the one to whom she was directed to submit, “just as the church submits to Christ, so also the wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” (Eph 5:24)

Though Roxanne has the same natural leadership qualities as my Mesabi Daily News boss, she is a godly woman who is careful to know the Scriptures and to obey the Scriptures. Though sometimes it may appear otherwise, Roxanne very consciously defers to my leadership and we share a healthy, loving, and Biblical relationship. 

(We don’t really believe in St. Peter questioning people at the Golden Gates, but we heard there are two entrances into heaven for husbands: one labeled “hen pecked” and the other labeled “head of the home.” One morning St Peter looked out and saw the usual long line of men waiting at the “hen pecked” entrance, and only one scrawny little man at the “head of the home” entrance. St Peter went over to congratulate this little man. “So tell me your story,” said St Peter. “How do you happen to be in “head of the home” line? The little guy shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know. it is just where my wife told me to stand.” –Just so you know, that little guy was not me as, duh, I haven't arrived yet at The Gates.)

About six years ago, my manager  in the circulation department of the Mesabi Daily News took off without giving notice. I went in to Shelly's office. “I’m willing to take the job of Circulation Manager,” I told her. Shelly was skeptical.  “We’ll give it a try,” she said. 

Much to our surprise, I was a good manager. Our newspaper had sixty contracted delivery people, most of whom were adults. At the time we had four other circulation people on payroll. Sixty four adults to supervise—for someone like me, pretty amazing! But my people deferred to me and overall their quality and quantity of work was excellent, and I know they liked having me for a boss. 
So here's what I've leaned is necessary to be a good boss:

  • Always treat everyone with dignity. When they need your attention, give them your full attention. Even the tiniest demeaning thought must be pushed out of your brain whenever you are talking with someone under your charge.
  • Be honest and fair. Never blame those under you for something that is even partially your fault.
  • Communicate very clearly, and communicate in triplicate any new information you need to get to your people.
  • Empower your people as much as possible. Give them the responsibility to make good decisions.
  • Praise and thank them any time you can think of something to praise or thank them about.
  • When correcting an employee, talk to them first and allow them their dignity. Don’t demand that they tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. (Everyone sees situations through their own eyes.) If that person does not correct the problem, send them a note that is signed and dated. If they still do not correct the problem, they probably need to be dismissed.
  • Most importantly, let your people know you've got their back.
As Shelly wrote to me about my termination, “This would not have happened if I was there.”
I knew that to be true. Bad stuff can happen at any moment. If the boss is not there to watch your back, you’re always up on the high wire.

David wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd…I will fear no evil.”

The Lord Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, I know my own and my own know me. I lay down my life for the sheep.” –now that’s a good boss!

Back to my present reality: I’m uncomfortable not having someone oversee what I do every day. It’s my nature to be led. Pray with me that our Good Shepherd will specifically lead me during this leaderless time in my life. 

But for right now, I'd better get back to Henry's biography!