Saturday, December 29, 2012


In our world there seems to be an unceasing search for the truth. What IS truth? Where can it be found? Does "truth" really exist or is truth what we make it out to be?

When I was in high school ('68-'71), my friends and I had an on-going debate about who the best guitar player was. One of my friends said it was Eric Clapton, lead guitar player for Cream. A good choice. He truthfully was very good but, in my mind, not quite the best. Another of my friends claimed the world's best guitar player was George Harrison. He too was good but I was of the opinion that he was mainly popular because of the band he was with - The Beatles - and not so much for his guitar prowess.

For me there was only one guitar player worthy of the title "The Best" and that was Jimi Hendrix. He was amazing. The Beatles went to see HIM play! Yet, for as good a guitar player as Jimi Hendrix was, he spent a lot of making bad choices and just as much time searching for answers.

I was watching a Bible study done by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns a few years ago. Mark told a story of a Jimi Hendrix concert where someone in the crowd yelled out, "You're the truth!" At that point, so the story goes, Jimi stopped what he was doing and asked, "Does anyone know what truth is?" No one answered.

There is a popular saying I have heard a few times that bothers me. "The truth is what we make it out to be." Still another says, similarly, that "truth is what the majority of people say it is." Really? REALLY?

I have a question for you. What is truth? What is truth in YOUR life? Is it what YOU say it is? Is perception YOUR reality? Is truth what the government says it is? Our political leaders? Our laws?

Personally, I have found that there is only one source of truth and that is the Bible - God's Word. If we look to people or institutions such as the media or our government for truth we will often be disappointed, even discouraged. And if that is where we place our hope and if it is our sole source of truth, we are doomed to a life of unfulfilled, disappointing attempts to find true joy and happiness.

There have been people in my life, and in fact, churches, who have told me that the Bible contains errors and discrepancies. It sounds to me like those people and places are still searching for truth themselves. They spend their time trying to explain God rather than simply worship Him. Perhaps they feel that if they puff themselves up big enough and "proclaim the truth" loud enough, maybe people will believe in them and their version of God rather than the more strict version of God portrayed in the Bible. Babel is a more appropriate word for what they are preaching. It seems like they hope, THEIR truth, will become more palatable to the general public than THEE truth and thereby draw people to themselves, their beliefs or to their church. That is not only wrong, that practice is blasphemous.

Here's a tip for all people on how to find TRUE joy and happiness in life. It's quite simple actually. Place God first in ALL things you do. It's that easy. Make God a part of everything you do, every decision you make, every act you commit. Let every breath of life that is breathed in and breathed out be breathed for the glory of God. Allow His Word to become a filter through which everything you do and see enters your heart. Do this and you will be blessed.

God's Word is THEE truth. There is no substitute. There is no Book of Additions or Deletions. Stand firm on God's Word and Truth.

Hmm. You know, I wish there would have been just one person at that Jimi Hendrix concert who would have had the courage to stand up when Jimi asked, "What is the truth?" and could have said, "I know what the truth is! It's Jesus Christ!!"

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” - John 14:1-7 (ESV)

Jimi Hendrix Experience - Third Stone From The Sun

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I figured I was losing it - old age had claimed some more of my brain cells or something like that. I had lost an item of semi-important value to me and I just could NOT find it. ANYWHERE!! Did you ever do that? It sucks.

Do you know what those little things are that allow us to store computer files temporarily so they can be transferred from one computer to another? A flash drive or a jump drive? Whatever you want to call them. I had lost mine and I couldn't find it . . . anywhere.

It's loss was really kind of bothering to me because that little thing had some valuable files on it. One of the files was my annual Christmas letter. When I ran out of all the copies I had originally printed and needed some more, I couldn't find that stupid little thing to save my life! I actually had to borrow a friends copy of my letter from their Christmas card and use it to re-type the whole stinking thing. ANNOYING!!

There were some other files on there too. There were some downloaded videos I had saved. Those were replaceable. What was NOT replaceable were the family photos I had transferred from my camera to my work computer, and was in the process of bringing home on my jump drive. Grrr.

I looked everywhere for that stupid little thing. I looked at home. I looked in my pants pockets. All pockets, all pants, I did the same search through my coats. I looked at the office (twice), in my car (with a flashlight), I looked at church (the lost and found and the youth room). Nothing!

The weird thing was that I remembered putting it in my coat pocket. And I remembered, I thought, placing it on the dining room table next to our laptop but it just wasn't there!! It was lost for sure.

Christmas Eve morning, I was helping my wife get ready for our soon-to-be-coming Christmas guests. Our entire family was coming for Christmas Eve!! My jobs were to vacuum the entire house, fill the bird feeder, shovel the driveway and make the guest bed. All well within my extremely limited skill set.

As I began moving things off the living room floor to clear the way for Mr. Hoover, my wife pointed down at my feet as I picked up a basket of her magazines.

"Look! There's your jump thingy!"

I looked down and there it was! It had been hidden underneath the basket. How the heck did it get there???

The human brain is amazing - mine in particular. It didn't take me long to figure out just how in the world my jump drive had made it onto the living room floor from the dining room table. You too are one piece of information away from figuring this Christmas mystery out. Here's your last clue. We have two cats. Mhmm. Yeah. Nice.

And here's ANOTHER miracle of Christmas . . . we STILL have two cats.

Have you ever lost anything of value? Even after searching and searching you just could not find it? Then, did you ever find that item one day? Even after you had given up searching for it? That is such an amazing feeling.

You and I are not much different from that jump drive of mine.

We're just sitting here in this world (on the dining room table) minding our own business. We're just hanging out, doing the things we normally do. And even though we might not know it, we are of extreme value to God. He created us and placed "information" in our little storage devices (a yearning in our hearts and in our minds . . . for Him). All was right in our world. But then, the evil one comes(the role played this Christmas by our mischievous cat) and knocks us off our stable table and into a world of sin, We become sepataed from our owner (God). We become lost.

But oh, what great joy there is in heaven when even one of God's little lost jump drives . . . er, I mean sheep, is found (Luke 15:10).

May this Christmas be a new beginning for us all, as Christ's "Christmas presence" represented for us when He came into this lost world. Today we celebrate His arrival and the dawn of the hope that his birth, death and resurrection brought to all the nations. May he be born into OUR hearts anew, and may we, through Jesus Christ, become born ourselves . . . again. For we once we lost, but now have been found (Luke 15:32)

Merry Christmas to you all. Love you!!

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." - Luke 2:11

Sunday, December 23, 2012


This past weekend my wife and I traveled to Eau Claire to visit our daughter. Even though Central Wisconsin had just undergone a snowy winter storm, we were determined to make the trip. Our girl was graduating from college and we weren't going to miss it!

It's always good to see our one and only daughter but I wasn't feeling very good by the time we got there. It had been a long day. Up at 4:30 for work, a long car ride home and then to Eau Claire, all while battling a nasty cold - I wasn't feeling much like doing anything else that night other than to plant my face in a pillow. That's when I learned we were about to go wedding dress shopping . . . at 8:30 PM.

I probably looked pretty pitiful - slumped in a chair, clutching my box of Puffs like a football. Yet the two lovely ladies that were helping my daughter and wife pick out accessories, kept smiling at me. I twisted around, thinking perhaps Justin Bieber was standing there behind me but he was not. Then it hit me. These two were doing everything in their power to extort as much money as possible from my wallet. And I DO mean extort.

"This ti era makes your daughter look absolutely radiant. Look at how it sparkles! It matches perfectly the glimmer you have in YOUR eyes, sir, when you look at your precious daughter. What do you think sir?"


I was a dead man.

But they were right. Our daughter looked absolutely wonderful in that snow-white dress. Absolutely beautiful and spotless and pure . . .

That's when my mind began to wander, as it often does, to Jesus.

The day before all this dress shopping happened was 12/21/12 - the last day of the Mayan calendar. The day many were saying that the world would come to an end. I didn't really by it. Jesus had already told us that NO ONE would know the day or the hour. And what did the Mayans know about Jesus anyway? But the date, the calendar and the subsequent discussion accomplished a few good things in my mind. It got us talking . . . and it got us thinking . . . about our relationship with God.

You know, WE, God's children, those who have surrendered our lives to Jesus, are supposed to be Christ's "bride" on the day He returns. We are to present ourselves as innocent & pure. Sadly, I feel we have been "anything but" lately. We have spent too much time in a world governed by the evil one. We have "slept around" with other God's (our work, our addictions, our lusts, ourselves) and I am sure our image as a blushing, innocent bride has been tarnished greatly. Yet Jesus still sees some hope for us. He gave up His life for us to show us how muched He loved us.

I for one have decided that I am going to try living my life for my future husband. That sounds really weird coming from a guy. I'm not one of those "same-sex marriage is ok" kind of guys. I just want to be living a life worthy of Jesus. When he returns, whenever that is, I want to be ready. I want to be worthy.

The beginning of a new year is just over a week away. We are told to keep watch. We are told that Jesus will return like a thief in the night (1 Thes 5:2) - quietly and without warning - for His bride. Will we be ready for Him? Will we be worthy? Sounds like Jesus might have already taken care of that.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." - Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV

For you married guys out there, do you remember what the love of your life looked like when she walked down that aisle towards you? Yeah, there were probably things about her that weren't exactly perfect. But on that wedding day, she looked absolutely amazing. She looked beautiful and perfect. And so shall it be with Jesus and us . . . on OUR wedding day. :)

"6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)" - Revelation 19:6-8

Please listen to this song by Casting Crowns . . . and may God bless.

Wedding Day by Casting Crowns

Thursday, December 20, 2012


One would think that nearly everyone has experienced love at some point in their lives. Perhaps love was felt through family members or through that of a close friend. Think back to your childhood. Surely you can find love in those memories somewhere. Maybe you had a grandmother like mine who loved me without measure. A Christmas cookie and a glass of milk on Christmas eve, right before we went to bed. And when mom wasn't looking she'd say, 'Have another." Now that's love!

But what about those who have never felt loved or have experienced nothing but pain in their relationships. Do they even have a proper perspective when it comes to knowing exactly what love is? Do they have faith in love? Or has their life proven to them that love is fleeting or maybe even non-existent?

What about a person whose parents got divorced or whose tempers rage on a regular basis in their household. And what about the unwanted, abused child? Or the ones who are sold into slavery at a very young age? There are many different stories of unfulfilled love in the lives of people in this world.

There is part of an old Don Henley song Boys of Summer that goes like this. "I thought I knew what love was. What did I know? Those days are gone forever. I should just let 'em go but..."

That last word, "but . . " says much about how many of us feel about love. Even though we seem to keep getting burned every time we reach out in love to another human being, there is something deep inside each of us, a God-given hole in our heart, that longs to be filled with love. It is that void that keeps us longing for our heart-holes to be filled.

As a youth leader in my church I have seen my share of teenage "skyrocket" relationships. They blossom quickly but then fizzle out in a few weeks. Some last a few months. Rare are those teen relationships that last years. Sadly, I have seen high school girls "long to be loved" to the point where they give themselves away to a boy, simply as a means of "keeping her man." Many teens equate sex with love. It's not. Often, this "love" ends in a broken relationship with a baby being born into a "family" that never even existed. So strong is our desire to be loved.

I used to think I knew what love was. What did I know.

Since I became a born-again follower of Jesus, the level of love in my life has increased dramatically! To those who don't know Jesus, the feeling is kind of hard to describe. In baseball terms, it would be like a player who has languished in the minor leagues his entire career, thinking he's a big, important, professional baseball player. Then suddenly he gets called up to the big leagues. That moment when he walks out onto the field for the first time - a life-long dream coming true - is kind of what true love is like. That's kind of how it is to love, and to be loved, with Jesus in your heart. When you receive Christ into your heart and surrender your life to him, that is the moment when love explodes . . . and becomes truly unconditional. That is when "love" takes on a whole new meaning.

In this country we love many things. We love our spouses, we love our children, we love our friends and we love our pets. In Wisconsin, we love the Green Bay Packers. In Dallas, "How 'bout dem Cowboys!" And personally, I love warm chocolate chip cookies with a glass of milk. I love my Peanut M&M's (when my wife lets me eat them). Somehow, the "love" I have for my wife gets lessened by my "love" I have for a warm cookie, right out of the oven. That's not right. We need more words for love.

The Greeks have four words for love - eros, philia, storge and agape. The meanings are as follows:

eros - attraction, sensual desire, longing
philia - friendship, affectionate love, loyalty to friends, family, community
storge - affection, as in parents for offspring, relationships within the family
agape - love, unconditional love of God

Everyone, believer and non-believer alike, can experience the first three. Most are content with that. It never occurs to them that there might be something better - agape. That's the way it was for me. I had a wife and 2.3 kids (the .3 is our cat). I thought I knew what love was. What did I know.

Since surrendering all to Jesus, and living my life FOR him, I have been overwhelmed with agape love and the ability to love others that way - unconditionally. Before, truthfully, there were always conditions attached to love. Some were obvious, some conditions stayed hidden. But now, oh my. It's like rivers of living water.

I once asked a question of some high school students in a Bible study, "Who would you die for?" This one student paused and said, "Wow. I'm not sure. I can't think of anyone I'd actually die for." That statement was an all too obvious indicator of their lack of faith. This student had yet to receive the unconditional love of God's Holy Spirit into his heart. If he had, the list would have been rather lengthy.

Each day I wear a black wrist band. On it are written three words - I Am Second . It's a conversation starter really. Many people have asked me what it means. I usually say, "It means Jesus, and everyone else in my life, comes first. I am second. Have you ever experienced the love of Jesus Christ? His mercy and forgiveness? His unconditional love?" I love telling others about His unconditional love.

Love is a word we sometimes use too much or it is something we use for the wrong reasons. But love, the true and best meaning of the word love, is the unconditional love we receive in our hearts from above - the love of God.

May the love of Christ fill your heart and may you spread His love to all you see.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." - Matthew 22:36-39 ESV

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed." - John 3:19-20

After a while one would think we'd become rather numb. Numb to the seemingly endless violence and evil that exists in our world these days. Things like what happened in Connecticut this past week happen all too often. Acts of evil have been happening since the beginning of time. Crimes against humanity happened when Jesus walked the earth. Evil exists. It hurts. It kills.

I would submit to you today that we as a people have ALREADY become numb. People die every day and, unless if affects us personally, we usually go about our daily routine as if nothing has happened. Car accidents, illness, suicide, even brave soldiers dying in Iraq and Afghanistan barely make the news anymore. The only deaths worthwhile in the eyes of the media must have an air of the bizarre or something extreme about them to be made news worthy these days.

And how quickly we tend to forget other such tragedies. Remember a guy named Tim McVeigh? He killed WAY more people back in 1995 (168) than this guy in Connecticut did. He killed nearly as many innocent children (19). Yet, we seem to forget about the building he blew up rather quickly.

Here's another number that should freak us all out. Over 3,200 children are murdered each day, in this country alone, through abortion. Where is the uproar over THAT act of murder? "I knew you before you were born," says God in Jeremiah 1:5.

I have already seen the Facebook posts and heard the presidential speeches calling for us to take action as a nation as a result of this tragedy. It's good to take action but we must target the right things. "It's the guns!!" they say. My friends, it is NOT the guns. It is us. That's right, it's you and it's me. WE are the problem.

We killed those children at Sandy Brook Elementary through our inaction. Through our inability to tell the world about the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Skeptical? Should we be cleared of all guilt in this matter?

Answer these two questions for me.

Question 1. How many people would be murdered tomorrow if we banned guns today?

Before you answer, remember that Tim McVeigh used common agricultural fertilizer, some fuel and a truck to kill his victims, the 9/11 terrorists used planes. Islamic terrorists use suicide bombers AND IED's. Anthrax gets mailed in envelopes, nerve gas gets dispersed in subway stations, "weapons of mass destruction" are seemingly everywhere . . . and we humans invented them all.

Question 2: How many people would be murdered each day if we ALL had the love of Christ in our hearts?

That's an easy question to answer. The number of dead would be zero.

John 14:15 - "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."

Exodus 20:30 - "You shall not murder (the sixth commandment)."

And the greatest commandment . . .

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
- Matthew 22:36-40

When the neighbor kid throws a rock through our window, we don't have a rock problem. Someone needs to have a talk with Little Johnny. And they SHOULD have had a talk with Little Johnny LONG before he threw the rock. About right and wrong, about sin and repentance, about life and death and about heaven and hell.

The nation is right to mourn the deaths of those 28 beautiful children and teachers in Connecticut. God had plans for each of them, plans to prosper them. But ultimately it is WE THE PEOPLE, we Christians, the church, who should be held responsible for their deaths. We killed Jesus after all, the Prince of Peace. Then we took Him out of our schools. And now we wonder why we have a problem?

People die every day without knowing the saving grace of Jesus Christ. No weapons are being used. We all need to step up our efforts to reach the dying in a world that is growing darker every day. Time is short. God has commissioned us to spread The Good News to all the nations. How we doin' on that?

This time of year should be all about love. It should be all about grace. Instead, the news media is choosing to take the spotlight off Jesus (as if they had it on him to begin with) and they keep focusing it on the sensational, gory details. We should be talking about the cure we have in Jesus instead of the disease that rules this world - the evil one.

2 Peter 39 - "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."

Thursday, December 13, 2012


These days when I travel to work in the morning, it is dark. REAL dark. The sun hasn't even hinted at making an appearance in the sky and the only sources of light are the stars and the Christmas lights on the houses I pass. They're pretty but they don't provide much light.

Living in Central Wisconsin, most of us veteran commuters have trained our eyes to be on the lookout for deer. Despite my awareness, I have nailed quite a few in my driving career. Secretly? I think deer are trained and then released by the owners of auto body shops across the country as a means of increasing revenue. Well, it seems that way anyway.

Earlier this week as I was traveling to work something unique happened. Well, what happened wasn't all that unique I guess. Something ran out in front of my car. That's more "normal" than I'd like. But WHAT ran out in front of my car was - a coyote.

Maybe it's just me but I imagine coyotes living out west someplace . . . like Wyoming or someplace with sagebrush and cactus, probably chasing a road runner, not living in Wisconsin. Yet we seem to have a thriving population here!

I swerved as soon as I saw the thing. I hit him but it don't think I caused any damage, to either the coyote or to my car. Maybe I hit his tail. We both lived. No harm, no foul.

But that event got me thinking about how some things in this world can really surprise us. They come running at us out of the darkness without warning. And if we're not careful, if we're not prepared, those events, the surprises in life, can cause a lot of damage.

Several months ago a student at our high school took his own life. No one expected that. No one was prepared for dealing with the aftermath of that tragedy. How could we be? Is there anything we can do to get ready for stuff like that?

There IS one thing you can do that will help you in a time of need, whenever that need might arise. It's a simple thing really. Come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. That sounds simple enough, yet millions of people never do it. They never surrender their hearts and minds to the one person who can help them in their time of need. He is the cure when the doctor says, "It's terminal."

God is a GREAT comforter. He can do things we humans can't. God can place us in situations we never even dreamed of, all to provide for our every need.

Last night at youth group I saw one of the adult leaders outside in the parking lot before the evening's events got underway. She looked like she needed a hug so I gave her one. But I was busy getting ready for things and I couldn't devote as much time to her as she probably needed. But God took care of that!

Later that evening one of the students got up and left the room looking upset. One of her friends followed. A short time later that adult leader friend I mentioned earlier, just happened to leave the room as well. After a few minutes passed I went to check on the missing students. I found the three of them outside the main room - in each others arms. The adult leader was comforting the student, and God was comforting the adult leader THROUGH the student. He had it all taken care of so I left Him alone with them.

We can all try to be prepared for what comes at us in this life. We can put money in the bank for a rainy day, we can stockpile cans of food or bottles of water for an emergency, we can buy a generator for the possibility of a power failure. But only God can provide the things we truly need. Love, compassion, mercy & grace.

The best way we can prepare ourselves for those sudden surprises that run out in front of us in the dark is to let Jesus do the driving. Like Carrie Underwood sang, "Jesus, take the wheel."

We all go through pain and suffering in this life. "In this life you will have trouble" (John 16:33). But with God by our side, guiding us through our troubled waters, this life is a WHOLE lot easier!

"That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
- Mark 4:35-41

Monday, December 10, 2012


There is snow falling as I am writing this little story. It’s rather peaceful and beautiful outside. The snow is nestling in on the tree branches for the night and there is absolutely no wind at all. The only thing that would make this winter scene more beautiful right now would be a crackling fire in the fireplace and a team of Clydesdales pulling a sleigh down the street. I can almost hear those sleigh bells a jinglin’!
Snow is cool. No two flakes are exactly alike you know! And snow makes absolutely no sound when it falls to the ground. However, if the temperature was JUST a little warmer, we’d be hearing the snow falling for sure - as rain, or ice! This snow tonight though is being rather stealthy.
Certain events in our lives can be pretty sneaky too. Grey hair is one example. Tell me about it! Checking account balances. Where did all of my money go!? And how about the bathroom scales. They can be rather surprising as well. 184?? No way!!
When Elijah heard God speaking to him on the mountain, God was also being pretty stealthy, speaking in a whisper, a still, small voice - “a sound of soft stillness.”
I have heard God speaking this way to me several times this past year. I have heard His whisper on the lips of people standing in line at the local food pantry. I have heard His soft stillness, while listening to an abused teen crying on the phone. I have heard His still, small voice, while comforting grieving kids after one of their friends died. God DOES speak to those who have ears to hear. All we have to do is listen.
The world we live in speaks in a VERY loud voice. It is often difficult to hear God speaking to us amidst the din of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the throngs of people at your local mall.
2000 years ago God spoke to the deaf ears of a fallen world when He sent His Son to save us. During his three year ministry, Jesus would say and do things this world had never known or seen. Think about that. God was actually with us, in the flesh! Not since the Garden of Eden had He physically been with His people in such a way. The birth of Jesus was the biggest event of all time and it began with a whisper - in a manger.
Slowly though, word of this baby began to spread – a child that was given to us. Jesus, the “bread of life” as he was called (John 6:35), was to be our spiritual food supply. Unless we “eat of His flesh and drink of His blood” we have no part of Him. And God, in His divine and masterful way, had his Son, the food we must partake of for eternal life, brought to us in . . . a manger – a FEEDING trough. In the little town of Bethlehem. And the name Bethlehem literally means "House of Bread." Are you kidding me? Is anyone else amazed by the planning of that?
As a father, I find myself particularly struck by the birth of such a special baby – our Heavenly Father’s one and only son. My wife and I have been blessed with two wonderful children and now OUR one and only son and his wife have blessed us with our first grandchild – their one and only son. He came a few weeks early but mom and dad didn’t seem to mind. Neither did my wife and I as we hurried home from our trip to Michigan a few days early. Speaking of which . . .
My wife and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary with a trip to Mackinac Island and Lower Michigan. This trip was a wonderful chance for us to get away from it all and to celebrate all of our years together.
Our daughter will be finishing the last of her student teaching this January and then will be actively seeking a position as a full-time teacher. Most likely see will be searching for her new job in the Mauston/Wisconsin Dells area due to the recent appearance this year of a young man in our daughter's life. They seem quite happy together. This new face has already met my wife's side of the family and passed muster. The only test that remains is my side of the family.
How blessed we have been as a family!
God is so good! There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank him for all he has provided for me and my family. If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, PLEASE ask for that today. Don’t let God’s still, small voice be silenced in YOUR life. Surrender your heart to Him and allow Him be Lord of your life. It’s the best decision I ever made. Please, let it be yours.

God Speakling - Mandisa

Thursday, December 6, 2012


"While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” - Matthew 4:18-19

I used to do a lot of fishing in my younger years. Fly fishing . . . for trout. It was a good way to spend some time outdoors, by myself, to unwind. I used to tie my own flies. There was something very satisfying about catching fish using a lure I had made. The trout I chose to keep I cleaned right there on the river bank but most of the fish I caught were released.

One evening, while fishing the Crystal River just south of Parfreyville, I noticed what appeared to be a rather large trout feeding under some overhanging tree branches - a tricky cast, but I had to try.

I made several false casts trying to "make sure" before I let the fly drop. Perfect! But the fish didn't bite. So I tried again . . . . and again . . . and again. Nothing. The fish was still there. It was still feeding, but it obviously wasn't eating anything I had to offer. I changed flies several times but I never found anything of interest to my wise old friend.

This past weekend I was scrolling through the seemingly endless list of Facebook status updates. Post after post after post. I began to feel like I was back in the Crystal River again - a flood of status updates "streaming" towards me. And actually? I WAS fishing. Not for trout, but for friends in need.

Before I go much further, and before you begin thinking of me as a major creeper, I should let you know that I am a youth leader in my church. The fish in my Facebook "stream" are students. Students I love dearly.

It wasn't long before my eyes came across exactly what I was looking for. A message.

I know. There are lots of "messages" on Facebook. I'm not looking for those generic Facebook messages. You know, the kind with words in them. No. I look for messages without words. I look for messages "between the lines."

This week I took a chance and reached out to someone who was having a bad day. It was like that cast those many years ago. Waiting. Watching . . . but this time however, unlike my failed attempts at that big trout, this time a chat window popped open and I found myself engaged in a conversation.

In the Bible, Jesus commands us to "go and make disciples." He doesn't tell us HOW to do it, it just tells us TO "do it." It's like fishing. We have to get into the stream and get wet. We're not going to catch many fish by standing on the shore, never wetting a line.

I left my old life behind seven years ago and followed Jesus, all because someone chose to cast a line, baited with The Gospel, in my direction.  The streams are full of fish, my friends. And they have been waiting for something good to eat their entire lives. We have the food they are seeking. We have the food they need.

We have been given a command by God to basically hang out the "gone fishing" sign. A command!When we stand in front of Jesus one day, how will we justify not doing what He has told us to do?

Saturday, December 1, 2012


So, how good are you at reading people's eyes? You know what I mean. When you ask somebody a question and they give you an answer but you don't really believe them because their eyes are telling you something different?

Some people simply cannot tell a lie. They can't lie because, when they do, you can see it written all over their faces. Others though can seemingly get away with any story they want to because they're really good at lying. Everybody is good at something, right? For them, it's lying.

Jim Carey in the 1997 movie Liar Liar
"Honey? Does this dress make me look fat?"

"Umm . . . "

I think people lie because they'd rather do that than spend time dealing with the consequences. Or for fear that, if they actually took the time to spill their guts to someone, the other person would simply go "Oh" and walk away. That, or they just really don't want to burden us with their "stuff." How many times have you heard something like this conversation:

"Good morning, Steve. How are you this morning?" (I can almost say the upcoming answer along with them. Here it is .. . )


If I had a dollar for every time I heard the word "FINE" as an answer to my "How are you" question, I could retire and spend more time writing stories.

I usually reply to their "fine" with, "You know what FINE stands for, right? Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. Which one are you?"

Seriously though, I believe that most people really do want to share their burdens. It's just . . . messy, or hurtful for them to do so and they probably have had enough of that in their lives already.

One morning at work a few years ago, I asked my usual "How are you this morning" question to a person I met in the hallway. I received the token "fine" response but their eyes and their body language told me things were far from fine. So I asked again.

"No, really, how are you? Are you doing okay?" As I asked I placed my hand on their shoulder.

I could then see the tears beginning to form in the eyes - more than their eyes could hold. And out came the story.

As I listened, my heart went out to this person who was going through a rather large "more than meets the eye" struggle in her life. Ultimately, after this person was done off-loading her burden of hurt, I began talking to her about the love and healing power of Jesus and asked her if she would like to pray.

Today this person is one of my best friends. We are both able to share our burdens with each other without fear. The all too common distancing or judgement that can occur after some earthly interpersonal encounters, simply does not exist between me and my friend. Instead, we share our burdens through the love of Christ.

As one who listens, this is probably my favorite, and most-used, verse in the Bible:

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV

Offering to share someones burdens has led to many deep, meaningful friendships in my life. Someone sharing a burden with me actually led to my salvation! In another case, listening to someone unloading the pain of a broken friendship actually helped save a life and helped clear the path to Christ's door. Today, God has gifted me that person's friendship - another person to share life's struggles with. Nearly every one of our conversations ends with the words "I love you."

Where does this desire to help others come from? To listen. To care. It comes from above. It was knit into us before we were even born (Psalm 139:13). The answer to the question, "Doesn't anybody care?" can be found in God's Word (Matthew 11:28). Listen to this song by Aaron Shust - Come to Me.

Why lie about your burdens? Wouldn't it be better to take the chance and share them with someone? God may just be providing you with a new friend, or a way to draw closer to Him.

There are many relationship questions that seemingly have no answers. But if we can take our friends and their struggles to the foot of The Cross, we have done exactly what God wants us to do. Love God and love others.

May you be blessed in your relationships, may Jesus be at the center of them, and may you find rest for your souls - all you who are weary and burdened. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Love you guys.