Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I haven't really been watching the World Series with all that's been going on around here. I did manage to watch the Packers beat the Vikings Sunday night but that's about it sports-wise. However I WOULD like to use a few sports analogies in this post today to make something clear to a young friend of mine.

During the Packer game Aaron Rodgers threw a short little pass to Jordy Nelson. It was a simple crossing pattern across the middle of the field. But God has gifted Jordy with tremendous running speed and it wasn't long before Jordy was celebrating a touchdown in the end zone.

Prior to his scoring that touchdown, Jordy was running hard. He had to elude some would-be tacklers on his way to ""the promised land." And only after Jordy crossed the goal line did he finally have time to relax and celebrate. What joy for Packer fans everywhere!

Have you ever seen a baseball player, rounding third base and headed for home? I'm not talking about someone who has just hit a home run and is simply trotting around the bases. I'm talking about the guy who is not sure whether he is going to make it home safely or not.

He is the guy who is extremely focused on what he is doing and is running as fast as he can. He knows there is going to be a play at the plate and he REALLY wants to arrive there ahead of the ball.

Maybe he's run past the third base coach's signal to stop. The coach isn't sure whether the runner is going to make it or not. But the runner is focused. As the base runner gets near the plate maybe he sees one of his teammates behind the plate flapping his arms and yelling for him to "SLIDE!!!"

The catcher receives the ball and begins to turn as the base runner begins his slide. The crowd stands and the look to the umpire . . . the final deciding authority, for the signal.


Our lives are a lot like that. We spend our time running around, totally focused our our lives and our jobs, that we forget all about OUR final judge, Jesus.

Did you know that God (Jesus) transcends time? He was there when the world began and will be there when it ends. He saw you get born and he has already seen you die. Time means nothing to him.

Did you ever see the movie The Matrix? That scene with the lady in the red dress? All the people are scurrying around, doing the same thing day after day. Focused on their own lives. But then Morpheus says "Freeze it!" Then he tells Neo, "If you are not one of us, you are one of them."

Sounds a lot like the words of Jesus . . .

"Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." - Matthew 12:30

Matrix Training Video

God transcends time.

How easy would it be for someone to score a touchdown if all the other players were suddenly frozen in place like the people in the street in The Matrix. Baseball player wouldn't have to slide, hoping to score a run. He could just stroll up to the plate, touch it with his toe and head for the dugout. Simple.

It's that easy to be safe in God's Kingdom. It doesn't take much effort at all. Read this from the book of Matthew . . .

"23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first." - Matthew 19:23-30

We must repent of our sins, realizing there is nothing that we can do on our own to earn our way into heaven. We must acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and our savior. It is our faith in Him and our making Him Lord of our lives, surrendering ourselves to His will, that allows Him to save us. We must humble ourselves and submit to Him is every area of our lives. And in that way . . . as the scripture says, the last shall be first.

"12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” - Acts 4:12

"23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." - Romans 6:23

"8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - 9 not by works, so that no one can boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9

Monday, October 28, 2013


It's hard to focus this morning. I find it difficult to concentrate. It seems that, whatever I am thinking about, whatever the subject, wherever I try to take my thoughts, they somehow find themselves drifting back to a young lady from our town, Kameron, to her family and to her friends.

See the picture at the left? It's an atomic bomb going off. The picture below is what's left afterwards. Not good.

Suicide, especially teenage suicide I think, is like an explosion, a bomb. Those who are closest receive the most damage. Those who are farther out, farther away from the center of the blast, still get wounded, but the damage, the emotional scarring, is not as severe. Still, all those who experience the "blast" can KNOW a few things about what has just happened. They know there was an event, an explosion. They know that people's lives are changed forever. They know that some people are wounded more than others. And they know that for those who survive, recovery can be a long process, if recovery is even a possibility at all. But I'd like to remind you of a tail of encouragement that emerged from someone's death. A tale that will provide us with hope and a future for those of us who mourn.

I would like you to open your Bibles to the Book of Acts, the seventh chapter, and read the story about the stoning of Stephen as background for this story. Stephen had just pleaded his case for Christ in front of the Sanhedrin. Let's begin in verse 54.

"54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep." - Acts 7:54-60

Stephen had just been stoned to death for what he believed in. His friends and family must have been devastated . . . just like Kameron's friends and family. Did they mourn? Yes. Did they weep for their fallen friend and brother? Of course. But read what happened next . . .

The church scattered because of what happened to Stephen. Saul was rounding up Christians left and right. Stephen was buried amidst all this and they "mourned deeply for him" (Chapter 8, verse2).

But what the friends and family of Stephen did was to carry the message of the Gospel to everyone they met. They picked up Stephen's ministry of spreading the Gospel and delivered it . . . everywhere. And Christianity exploded!!

"4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went." - Acts 8:4

Are you kidding me? I'd be hiding behind closed doors!! But they went out and preached the Gospel to honor God and to honor their friend. And it was their strength of faith and their insistence on spreading the Word about Jesus that "the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." - Acts 11:26

There is a group of kids in town, a very tight-knit group of friends. They love each other very much. Kameron is the second person from that group to take this route of self elimination. Kameron needs to be the last.

I ask for your prayers for these teens. I ask for God to soften their hearts for Him and to encourage them to follow the example of the church at Antioch. Take the message of Kameron and Austin throughout the countryside, to spread the word about the blast zone of devastation that suicide can cause. And spread the hope of the Gospel to all who will listen. For it is only through a faith in Christ and the acceptance of Him as Lord and Savior, and His atoning sacrifice on the cross for them, that they will ever get to see their friends again.

Pray for leaders to rise up, for hearts to be moved and for God's Holy Spirit to move throughout this community and the world. May we ALWAYS share the love we have for others, not only for friends but for the stranger as well. Let everyone hear the good news of eternal life for ALL who have been saved. We need an explosion in this country, and explosion of faith, hope and, most of all . . . love.

"5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city." - Acts 8:5-8

Saturday, October 26, 2013


I'd seen most of their faces before. They still had the same expressions on as they did a year ago, almost to the day, when one of their other friends and classmates had taken his life. And now, here they were again, in the same room, at the same school, tears in their eyes, wondering what in the world had just happened that would cause another of their friends to choose the same option - to take their own life.

There are just as many unanswered questions today, the same questions as there were a year ago. But the most often asked question, by far, is simply "Why?"

That question just kind of hangs out there . . . unanswered. It's more of a cry really than it is a question. Why? . . . . That has got to be one of the biggest voids left behind when someone takes their life. It is a question that will never be answered.

We still try to figure everything out for ourselves though. But like trying to assemble a puzzle that doesn't contain all the pieces, we are destined to always fall short. Still, we hope we can at least wrap our minds around the situation and make some sense out of it all. Why did she do this? Why didn't she call me? Why didn't she reach out to SOMEONE? All these questions, the ones we all want answers to, will never be answered. And that hurts . . . big time.

I took a counseling class a few years ago at our church. It was one of those DVD class things where you listen for hours and try not to fall asleep. They always started out each DVD, each class, with the same Bible verse from John.

"In this world you will have trouble." - John 16:33

Isn't THAT the truth! The world in which we live, especially this country it seems, has really taken a nose dive over the past 50 years. Why is that? There's that question again! Why? I believe I know where to find the answer.

There is a billboard by the side of the road as you head out of our town towards the east. It reads, "Got a question? Jesus is the answer." That's it? Are you kidding me Bob? That's all you can come up with? It can't really be that simple? Can it? Is Jesus really the answer to all of the "WHY?" questions we all seem to be asking lately? I believe . . . that He is.

That verse we read earlier. The verse from John from that counseling DVD series that supposedly had all of the answers. I don't remember them ever reciting mentioning the second half of that verse, the most important part of the verse. It says, "But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33

I am sure that there are plenty of people, who are smarter than me, who will tell you their opinions of the "why's" and the "how comes." But as for me, I believe that the biggest source of problems in this dark and fallen world is that there simply is just not enough Jesus in it.

We've taken God out of our school systems, right? And look what's happening there. We have a government who is removing The Ten Commandments from our courthouses and buildings. God is being removed from every institution that was founded on His beliefs!

I didn't know Kameron all that well. Same with Austin. But that doesn't diminish the love and compassion I feel for them, their families and their friends. It doesn't stop me from feeling like I could have done something. It doesn't stop us from thinking, "If only Austin had called someone" or "If only Kameron had picked up a phone." Those are questions worth asking. But do they really lead to the answer that would have stopped them from doing what they did. Close, but not quite.

I think that all people in desperate situations DO need to reach out to someone. But that someone should not be us. That someone needs to be Jesus. He is the answer to every question we could ever think of asking. Yet we seldom call on Him like we should. We have to get to the point in our relationship with Christ that we will pick up our Bibles instead of a gun . . . or a bottle of pills. We need to seek answers to the pain we feel in this world, not in our own hands, but in the arms of Christ. We must stop thinking in terms of this life and start thinking about the life to come.

So what do we do moving forward from such a loss? Well, I believe that our only hope is to immerse ourselves in Christ. He must be our every thought and our every need. Jesus IS the answer, just like that billboard says. His power over this world and over death has already been proven. He has overcome the world. He did that when he rose from death to life 2000 years ago. He is STILL alive today.

We need to take that message to everyone we know. We must become desperate to spread word of His saving grace. As a young friend of mine said recently on Facebook "We need a revival." She knows. The last thing we want to be saying is, "I wish I had talked to my friend about Jesus."

His offer of eternal life is available to anyone. Let's spread the news! We need our loved ones to pick up that gift and wear it proudly for it is only through Christ that any of us can be truly be saved from death.

I have heard that both Kameron and Austin were believers. That is good. I hope that is true. Then I will rejoice when I get to heaven and am able to see them once again. At the same time though I think that there needs to be more to our relationship with Jesus than just a simple belief. We must ALL make Him the focus of our lives, our every thought held captive by His presence. Jesus MUST be our every answer. Jesus must become our all-in-all.
You Are My All In All by Nicole Nordeman

Please join me in praying for the families and friends of Kameron and Austin and for all those who have lost loved ones in this world. They need peace and comfort and rest . . . and those things can, truly, only be supplied by our Lord and Savior. And please pray that those who do not know Jesus would reach out to Him, would reach out to a friend who knows Him, or a pastor or to Jesus Himself. He IS the answer. Pray that they ask the question. Thank you.

This post is dedicated to the family and friends of Kameron and Austin. May you ALL find peace and rest in the arms of Jesus. We love you all.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


"6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed." - 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10

"Do you think you are good enough to get into heaven when you die?" You would be surprised how many people answer "yes" to that question. The answer, of course, is "no." No one is "good enough." Don't believe me? Well, would you believe Jesus?

"18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." - Luke 18:18-19

There are many people in this world who believe they are good enough to get into heaven. Many of them sit in church on Sunday mornings. Or stand behind pulpits. None of us are good enough.

But what if we could used our supposed goodness as a means of defense. As a means of getting away with a crime. Would justice be served?

On October 11th, the son of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was beaten to death byUSA Today article). The person doing the beating has now been charged with murder. What would happen if, during his upcoming trial, the defendant tried to explain his actions as a one-time mistake?
Peterson's his mother's boyfriend (

"Most of the time I am a model citizen. I have never committed a crime before. It was just this once. The kid was crying. I simply couldn't handled it so I hit him. It was wrong and I'm sorry."

[Sadly, that sounds like a viable defense . . . something we might actually see in a courtroom today]

And what would happen if the judge decided in the defendants favor saying, "I can see that. I know I've felt like hitting MY kids from time to time. Alright, I'll let you off. You can go free."

Oh my goodness! There would be such an uproar. Even by our liberal media! There would be cries of injustice all over the world. The judge would receive death threats. The defendant too! A two-year old kid! It's just not fair that this guy should be set free.

So why do we expect preferential treatment on the day we stand before God, our just judge, and expect to get into heaven.

"Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen anything? Have you used the name of the Lord your God in vane?"

Guilty, guilty, guilty. I have been guilty of ALL those things. So has everybody else on the planet, most likely. No one is good.

Our punishment for those crimes is deat. Read the Bible. "23 For the wages of sin is death" - Romans 6:23

The penalty is death!! We are all deserving of death for our sins against an incredibly holy and just judge. Guilty!

But what if, just before sentence was handed out, the doors to the courtroom burst open and in walked Jesus. And He came and stood next to us and told the judge that He had already paid the price for our crimes. Would the offer of forgiveness of sins be anymore real if the sentence against us were ready to be carried out?

"18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit," - 1 Peter 3:18

"10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God." - Romans 6:10

Standing there on Calvary, sinners watching the guards nailing Jesus to the cross . . . do you think they had any idea what He was doing? What he was accomplishing on their behalf? No one did. Not even the apostles I would imagine! Nobody fully figured it out until after Jesus rose from the dead and appeared before them. He appeared to individuals, to the twelve and to over 500 eye witnesses at one time. Twelve appearances in all to hundreds of eyes witnesses of the post-death Jesus. Jesus had risen from the dead. And yet . . . we still don't believe?

My friends, Jesus is our only hope of getting out of this world alive. He is the only means by which we are to be saved. Perhaps we should start living like we owe Him our lives because, in actuality, we really do. Jesus is the only hope for us sinners - through our repentance, through our belief in Him. He has promised to forgive our sins, despite our selfish nature and unworthiness, and justify us through His grace and by our faith. Please, turn to Him today . . . and be saved. He is a friend of sinners.

Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns

" . . . 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead - by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” - (Peter speaking to the rulers of the people and the elders at Jerusalem) - Acts 4:10-12

Monday, October 21, 2013


I find it interesting, how God works. It's seldom in a way we would expect. Yet it is ALWAYS in a way that brings Him glory and praise. And here I am, writing about how God has placed me in front of this keyboard today to tell you a story of pain and suffering that transformed itself into a story about grace and mercy. Of love and of hope.

It's fall right now where we live. Leaves are turning colors. The temperature is at or near the freezing mark most mornings. We and the sun get less and less face-time. All the plants are either going dormant or are just downright dying. And baseball season winds down to it's "fall classic" - The World Series. Fall can be a very beautiful time of year but it also can be a very depressing time of the year.

Recently, a friend of mine sent me a text message, telling me the cancer she and her doctors had
battled a few years ago was back. I went to visit her and her husband this past weekend. What a blessing that visit was.

My friend, her husband and I visited for over an hour. Talking about surgeries, and treatments, our children and life. We laughed, recalling stories from our childhoods and from our children's childhoods. We had a great visit, long overdue.

As I was leaving, I glanced back at my friends, a loving husband helping his wife, still sore from her surgery, back up the steps to their home. What a picture of love and compassion and grace. Their family has certainly endured their share of pain and suffering in this life, yet more is on the way for my friends. They will need our prayers.

Maybe it was the visit with my friend and the cancer that has taken so much from her life. Maybe it was the coming World Series about to begin. But my thoughts turned to a baseball player and a story I vaguely remembered from 25 years ago. The story of Dave Dravecky.

Dave Dravecky led the San Diego Padres to the World Series in 1987. In 1988 he was traded to the San Francisco Giants. He was an All-Star, and led the Giants to the playoffs. Then he noticed a lump forming on his pitching arm. It was cancer.

Surgery followed where the tumor, and 50% of his deltoid muscle, was removed. Doctors told him he would never pitch again. They didn't know Dave Dravecky very well.

Soon he was soft-tossing, then came a minor league assignment. On August 10, 1989 he returned to the Giants, pitching eight innings. The Giants won 4-3 that day. His next start in Montreal was the last game he would ever play. He pitched three no-hit innings but then, in the sixth inning, during a pitch to Tim Raines, Dravecky's arm shattered. He was taken from the field on a stretcher, receiving a standing ovation from the Montreal crowd. The cancer has returned.

Doctors had to amputate his pitching arm and shoulder. His career as a baseball player obviously was over. His childhood dream, removed, along with his arm . . . his livelihood. More than enough to induce depression in ANY one. But . . . I think I forgot to tell you something. Dave Dravecky . . . is a Christian.

Followers of Jesus are not immune to pain by any means. It might actually increase. Certainly there is more persecution, more martyrdom. The thing about Christians is what they have been known to do with the hardships they encounter. It's what they do as they face the pain in their lives.

Dave Dravecky now travels the country as a motivational speaker. He has written a few books about his life, the cancer that ended his career, and the God who gave him hope during the darkest of times.

My friend, the one I visited the other day, is still recovering from her second cancer surgery. She told me during my visit that one of her nurses called her inspirational and that my friend had changed the nurses life, simply by how she handled herself during her whole ordeal.

"5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." - John 1:5

I really encourage you to watch this video. It's a short video about Dave Dravecky and how Jesus led him through the darkest of times. But it is also a story about what Dave has done AFTER those dark times. He has shone his light, the light of Christ, for all to see. We should consider the lives of these two Christians, Dave and my friend, and follow their example. Our pain and suffering may not be as great as theirs, but we can still shine. Shine On!

Dave Dravecky Interview

This story is dedicated to Ali and Dave, to Sara, and to Dave and Jan Dravecky

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I can still see their faces. Nameless people, standing there, waiting. Their skin turned a greenish-grey from the halide lights overhead. They all looked so sad, like there lives had no purpose or direction, like they were just "existing" rather than living.

Some carried bags, others, hands in pockets, just stood there, staring. They were all waiting for the same thing - the train . . . a train they had ridden on hundreds of times before. Why can I still picture their faces so clearly, some 40+ years later? There was something about them. Something eerily familiar.

Those images got burned into my head years ago as our family traveled through downtown Chicago on the way to our family farm in Michigan. Those people waited on cold concrete platforms for their local commuter train, each of them traveling on their way to someplace else.

I think the reason I can still picture the faces of those people waiting on that train platform today is because of a passion that God built into me before I was even born.

"11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity." - Jeremiah 29:11-14

When I bowed down and surrendered my life to Christ, I received God's Holy Spirit.

32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.

And this verse from First Peter clarifies what we are to do with that gift . . .

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace." - 1 Peter 4:10

First Corinthians 12 is another source of information about the gifts we received through God's Holy Spirit . . .

"4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." - 1 Corinthians 12:4:7

Every follower of Christ receives His Holy Spirit and certain gifts to use. What are YOUR gifts? How are you using them to help others? My gifts are in the area of mercy/compassion and exhortation. Exhortation means to "address or communicate emphatically, urging someone to do something." A synonym for exhortation is encouragement. So I have compassion for people and I encourage people.

I enjoy writing, and although I am not the best at it, I have a passion for it and I use that gift to encourage others in their faith. But I also have compassion for people who are in need and hurting. I volunteer at our local food pantry. It's a simple thing to do, but I do it for Jesus.

What are your passions? Your talents? My friend at work uses her ability to sew to teach other young women to do the same. And what do you suppose they talk about while they sew? Jesus! :)

"17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." - Colossians 3:17

Let's go back to those people waiting for the train. Why is the image of their forlorn faces still in my head? It's fuel. Fuel for my passion to reach others for Christ. Compassion for the lost and a desire to encourage them to receive their own "gift of the spirit" by making Jesus Lord of their lives.

That dimly-lit train platform, the people waiting to board that train, are the ones just biding their time on this earth, without a thought about God, or Jesus, or the fate that awaits them. They are waiting to board a train to hell.

If they would only turn around, there is another track, with another train just waiting for them. It is the train of glory, waiting to take them to The Promised Land. But they can't see it. They will never get on board until someone tells them, exhorts them, to step off the platform they are on and get aboard the train that leads to Jesus.

What are your gifts my friends? Are you using them for the Lord? Search yourself. What are you doing now that you could be doing for Jesus? For His Kingdom? I encourage you to seek the answer to that question today. There are few things more rewarding than serving God through something you are passionate about. It is a gift from God! Don't leave that gift unopened. Find what you are passionate about and use it for God . . . today! :)

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day."
- Acts 2:32-41

Here's an old Gospel song for you this morning. It encourages us to "get on 'board" the train of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You don't even need a ticket. :) That train is coming, my friends. That train, Jesus, is coming on a cloud (Rev 1:7) and we all must be ready when it gets here and the train doors open. We must be ready when the conductor yells, "All aboard!"

People Get Ready by Jim Cole

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I was having a conversation with someone the other day and "somehow" the topic of discussion turned towards God. Hmm. Imagine that. Me? Talking to someone about God? It's true! Well, I asked this person, who was a professing Christian, one simple question and, from that point on, the conversation got . . . mmm, shall we say . . . a little ugly.

We found ourselves talking about our beliefs and about who goes to heaven. Who gets in and who does not. The conversation was very calm up to a certain point . . . the point of  . . . the question.

"Do you believe that all roads lead to heaven?"

"Yes, I do. I believe that all faiths can get into heaven. They just call their gods something else."

"So, . . . you're not a Christian. You're a universalist?"

"I'm a Christian! How dare you tell me I'm not!"

"But Jesus told us that HE is "the way, the truth and the life" and that "no one comes to the Father except through Him."

"That's just what the Bible says. I believe that EVERY faith can get into heaven."

"But JESUS himself said that we can only get to heaven through Him!"


So what do we Christians believe anyway? Good question. Apparently, our beliefs are all over the map. Do you believe the Christianity of Oprah? She believes all roads lead to heaven and that we are our own gods. She says she is a Christian. Do you believe her? How about Joel Osteen. He thinks that we are all good, beautiful people. He never talks about sin. He believes if we simply declare something God will give us all we ask for. Riches, big homes and gold! DO you believe that? Joel does and he says he's a Christian. Do you believe him? What "we" believe seems to vary from church to church. So many questions! Let's find some answers, shall we?

One of the websites I frequent is called Let's go there to find out what Christians believe.

"The core beliefs of Christianity are summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Jesus died for our sins, was buried, was resurrected, and thereby offers salvation to all who will receive Him in faith. Unique among all other faiths, Christianity is more about a relationship than religious practices. Instead of adhering to a list of “do’s and don’ts,” the goal of a Christian is to cultivate a close walk with God. That relationship is made possible because of the work of Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit."

The following is 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you - unless you believed in vain."

"3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures," - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

You can read the whole text of the response to this question here.

There are many different churches, denominations and beliefs. Which one is right? Where could we possibly turn to find out the answer to that question? Mmmm . . . how about the Bible?

When you get done reading that . . . give this a listen . . . and believe. :)

Creed by Third Day (w/ Brandon Heath)

Monday, October 14, 2013


For most of my life "church" was a place to go - a destination. "Time to go to church! Let's go! We Don't want to be late!"

("What do you mean 'We don't want to be late'? I sure do! I HATE church! Church is boring.")

Spoken like a true unbeliever. I used to tell my wife that "church doesn't do anything for me." That statement  alone tells you what kind of "Christian" I was. I had no idea what church was to be about. No idea at all. Church is not about me and my "feelings." Church is not about "me" at all. It's about God!

When I first became a believer I joined TWO churches! I joined my wife's church, a very traditional Lutheran church on the outside but, as I would discover later, a very liberal, "progressive" church on the inside. I also joined "my" church, a very casual, welcoming church. Things were good. But then something began to happen between me and the churches that I was attending - I began to read the Bible. I began comparing what I was reading with what I was seeing in church. Things just didn't seem to line up.

Have you ever noticed that? You'll be sitting in church and all of a sudden you hear or see something that doesn't make sense. Those moments when something seems contrary to what you KNOW is true. Well, when those moments occur, what should we do about it?

The normal thing to do I guess is to simply ignore it. I call that Ostrich syndrome. Maybe, by sticking our heads in the sand, the problem will simply vanish. It will go away and things will be all better. That's like ignoring a tick when you see on crawling on your arm. We could ignore the problem but chances are that problem will just get worse and embed itself deeper and deeper.

We could complain I guess. We could speak up and let our voice be heard. But that might alienate us from "the crowd." What should we do? Where can we find some answers? Hmm. :)

Open your Bibles to Matthew 21 . . .

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” - Matthew 21:12-13

Now turn to the Book of Acts, the second chapter.

"42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." - Acts 2:42-47

Is your church like that? It should be. Let's summarize. The following is a list of things your church should be doing. If it is not, perhaps change is in order.

  1. Devotion. The church should be devoted to teaching about God. Old and New Testament. That includes preaching the Gospel. Sin, repentance, forgiveness of sins through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
  2. Fellowship. Fellowship is not eating doughnuts after church. It is coming together as a body for mutual edification and support. It'd talking about Jesus, not watching the game at church.
  3. Communion. The breaking of bread - not only in church once a month, but always.
  4. Prayer. Prayer is one of the most important parts of a Christians life. We are called to "pray continuously" (1 Thes 5:17) so we should probably do that, right?
  5. Help. Jesus said "the poor you will always have with you." We are to help them. If one of our brothers of sisters are in need . . . NEED . . . we are to help them.
  6. Attend. We are called to worship with other believers. This can happen in a large church or a small one, even a house church. We are called to worship . . . together.
  7. Eat. We are to break bread together. This not only applies to our immediate, physical family but we are to break bread with other believers as well. See also point three above.
  8. Worship. We are to praise God for all He has given us. This doesn't just happen in church but every day. Praise God always - for the blessings we receive as well as the trials. Praise Him in all circumstances.
  9. Prepare. If we do all these thing, we must be prepared for the harvest. God will add to our number. That is not the job of the church.
Shortly before the instructions about communion appear in the book of First Corinthians, Paul admonished the church in his writings. He wasn't too happy about the direction the church in Corinth was headed, and he told them so. Many churches today are taking the same path that Paul specifically warns against in his letter. There are many denominations in the church today. Each on is sure theirs is the best. But there is really only one church. And it does not occupy a building either. It is the Church of Christ, comprised of believers from the entire planet. But how can we recognize the members of this church? Those goofy nametags some churches would like you to wear? Nope. It's by their fruit.

"18 . . . when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized." - 1 Corinthians 11:18-19

Lord Jesus, may your church be ready for your return. Your bride is dirty and tattered and totally unworthy. But through your sacrifice on the cross you have made us into a radiant bride. Pure, white as snow, for our long awaited wedding day.

Wedding Day by Casting Crowns

Saturday, October 12, 2013


When my wife and I were in Alaska for our 30th wedding anniversary we stopped at a training facility for sled dogs. That sounds more impressive than it was. It was just a house at the edge of the woods with lots of barking dogs . . . and mosquitoes.

The guy who owned the place came out and gave a pre-packaged little talk about the Iditarod sled dog race and then began hooking up the dogs to his summer-time sled, an old rusty ATV. He let a few of us hook up some of the dogs. My wife did that. I took pictures. It was a cool to watch the dogs pulling the ATV down the gravel road (the motor was not running) Their trainer just sat on the ATV, watching the dogs. No "Mush!" No "On, you Huskies!" He just sat there, yelling an occasion "Hup." And he watched.

The reason the trainer watches the dogs is to sort out which ones run well next to other dogs. Some dogs just don't like each other, he has to watch out for that. In the middle of the Iditarod race, when temperatures have dropped down as low as 41 below zero, is not the time to be discovering that Ralphie and Brutus don't like each other.

The trainer also watches for that one special dog - a dog who can lead. Good lead dogs are hard to find. They control the tempo and overall performance of the entire team of dogs. Lead dogs are a special breed. But it is the whole team, pulling together, equally, that is important.

Do you know what a yoke is? No, it's not a bad pun. And no, I'm not talking about eggs either. A yoke is a means of hooking animals to one another so they can pull something together, like the dogs in the Iditarod race. Or like a couple oxen pulling a wagon.

When the mushers have a strong dog on one side and a weaker dog on the other, there is a tendency for the stronger dog to do more work than necessary. When a farmer has two oxen yokes together he wants them to be "equally yoked" so when they pull the plow, their furrows are straight and true.

Being un-equally yoked is not as productive and being equally yoked. Whether it be animals or humans, pulling together is far more productive than pulling in opposite directions. Human relationships are like that. Whether it's in our friendships or marriages, being equally yoked with one another is vital to the success of those relationships. Marriages that have different beliefs and different desires have a built-in friction that is not always easy to overcome.

The wedding of my nephew a few weeks ago is an example of a couple being equally yoked. They both are followers of Jesus. They both love Him more than they love each other, or themselves. God is the "lead dog" in their lives. Their relationships is poised to succeed. It will be enjoyable to watch as they "run the good race" (2 Tim 4:7) together, behind Jesus, their "musher", their King.

"28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30

As we go through this life may we all have relationships that are equally yoked. Life would be so much easier if we all lived that way. There would be fewer traffic accidents traveling at the same speed. Our politicians could pull equally to serve us instead of them each pulling in their own direction, or in the direction of their particular parties. If we all were equally yoked with one another, in Christ, imagine the productivity for God's Kingdom. Let's pray for that.

Iditarod Web Page

Come To Me by Aaron Shust

"14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God." - 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Have you ever watched that TV show called "The View"? I haven't. I'm not sure why but, having never watched it at all, I feel kind of good about that. From what I gather there's a bunch of ladies who sit around and talk about things. Sounds like where I work. Ha! I guess the show's not all that bad. We ALL do that. We all like to talk about our lives, offering our expert opinions on everything from the best burger joint in town to weightier things like abortion or the national budget.

Recently, while I was listening to a radio talk show, I heard something that made me think. It made me want to write this particular blog post actually - which is basically my own low-tech version of The View. And instead of four or five highly-paid female TV stars you get me, an old aging man who can't type.

The guest on the show I was listening to asked the question, "How do we VIEW life? Do we view the events of this world through our own eyes? Or do we view things through a biblical lens?" Then they went on to suggest that we should view ALL circumstances from a "how can I use this to glorify God" point of view. I though that was really interesting. And I agree 100%.

Have you ever tried that? Have you tried going through an entire day, honoring God in everything you say and do? It ain't easy, but once you actually get going it's actually kind of fun and it really helps me keep my focus on God. Remember . . . EVERYTHING for God.

I needed gas for my car this morning so I stopped at the local gas station. Although I usually pay at the pump, with this new "view" of doing everything for God's glory, I thought I'd actually go inside and interact with some people . . . for Him. And so I did.

"Good morning!" I whispered as I held the door open for some random guy who was talking on his cellphone. I smiled at everyone and established eye contact with as many as I could. It was easy! Of course, people thought I was weird but still.

There is one word of advice though. If you try this at a gas station, stay away from the coffee dispenser area. Talking, or even looking at people who have not had their coffee yet can be extremely dangerous!

Interaction at the local gas station is one thing. There are other more faith-stretching and important opportunities awaiting you to be a witness for Christ. Like showing up when someone is hurting. By giving of yourself and your time to ease the pain and suffering of someone else. This is a gift that not many have but some go way above and beyond when they go about placing other first.

Have you ever heard stories of someone needing a kidney and then a relative or friend gives them one of their own to help save a life? The following is a link to a video about such an occurrence.

Father Donates Kidney to Daughter

Have you ever gone to the hospital to visit someone? Or maybe you're going in to have a procedure done. Have you ever looked at events like that, an illness or accident, through God's eyes? Why are you visiting someone? Is it to bring them joy? To make them feel better? Or is it to make YOU feel better? Is it simply to bring them a smile and that's it? Have you ever though about doing more while you are there? More for God?

Pray with them. Maybe ask the nurse or doctor if there is anything you can pray for, for them.

I know a couple whose son was in the hospital to have a dangerous, hopefully life-saving surgery. It literally was life or death. The parents were both Christians. Doctors were surprised by their lack of fear about the surgery and commented to them, "Aren't you afraid for your son?"

"No," they replied. "Everything is in God's hands." And then they smiled at the doctor. That was an incredibly powerful witness. The power of our God was on display that day in the faith of those parents. The doctors & nurses all saw it and it made an impression on them.

We need to get into the habit of asking ourselves "Okay, what can I do for God in this situation? How can I impact someones life for Christ?"

When we are standing in line at the grocery store. Are we there simply to check out and get on our way? Or are we there to speak into the life of the bagger, or the checker? Or maybe the person behind us in line. God called us to be His children for a reason. We should be a little more attentive than we usually are.

Most people go to the restaurant to eat a meal. Is that it? Or do we speak to the waitress about the true meaning of service and ask her if there is anything he or she might need prayer for? We need to view the every situation from a different perspective . . . and focus the conversation on Jesus.

When you are about to have cancer surgery, soon to begin the chemo treatments, it's not as easy to do. It may be easier, I don;t really know. But to be a witness for Christ when we are suffering is exceptionally powerful.

Have you read about Paul and Silas when they were thrown into prison? How did they handle that situation for Christ? What did they do? Did they complain about the food? Did they soend their time trying to escape? Nope. You will be amazed.

"22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks."

Not the best of situations to be sure. Stripped, beaten with rods, thrown into prison, in an inner cell no less, with their feet locked so they could not even move. So what did they do? Ready for this?

"25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them." - Acts 16:22-25

Wow! After all they had been through, they were singing! And what happened after that?

"30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” - Acts 16:30

My friends, we may never know how God will use our words or our deeds. May we never be hesitant to tell others the joy we have found in Christ. Let us sing His praises in ALL situations. So that no one can deny that we are His. May our view of this world always be through God's eyes.

His Eye Is On The Sparrow by Lauryn Hill and Tanya Blount

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Ali. Stay strong and be a light unto this world. I love you, my friend. :)

Monday, October 7, 2013


A week ago this past Friday, I drove . . . umm . . . (shh, quiet now) a rented mini-van, filled with my family, to Battle Creek, Michigan. We were on our way to attend the wedding of my nephew David and his fiance Rachel. Hmm. David and Rachel. There's a few biblical names for you.

Our vehicle was filled with a most precious cargo - my wife, our two children, our daughter-in-law and our grandson. We have an awesome family! But that "awesomeness" extends far beyond just us Waupaca Hall's. My parents and my sister's family live in Battle Creek and that is where we were headed. Awesome! (Do I use that word too much?)

Dave and Rachel represent hope, at least to these two eyes, hope of a new beginning in my family. You see, their relationship is based totally on their mutual faith in Jesus Christ. It is SO refreshing to see.

When my sister, brother and I were growing up, church was just something we did. There was never any "relationship." Church was just something we did on Sunday before we went to PDQ to pick up some ham and buns, and then we watched the Packer game. It was routine.

My sister and I were in youth group. I'm not sure about my brother. He was much younger than we were. When I would come home from college he seemed more interested in doing magic tricks than anything else. But my sister . . . she was the one who blazed the trail of faith in our family.

When she went off to college (all three of us Hall kids attended the University of Wisconsin - Madison). She got hooked up with a campus ministry called Navigators. That is where she met her husband Curt. And the rest is history. They had three kids - Aaron, Bethany and David. There's some Biblical names for you! Their names were kind of an indicator of what was important in their parent's lives.

The reason David and Rachel represent hope for our family in my eyes is because of their faith. They are excited about it. No other couple in their generation of our family is excited about their faith like they are. I hope and pray their excitement in contagious.

Their enthusiasm made me think this week as I reflected on my own faith and how I used to be on fire for Jesus. He still means everything to me but I admit the excitement has waned. There are many reasons for the decrease in exuberance - apostasy in the church, people who say they are Christians but really aren't, church leaders and pastors leading their flocks astray, a country formed on Christian fundamentals slowly but surely drifting away from those values, abortion, same-sex marriage, etc. There are many things in this world that can drain a Christian. That's why hope is such a valuable commodity.

Does excitement breed hope? Or is it hope that breeds excitement? You know, I believe the answer to both of those questions is YES. Both statements are true.

We who believe place our hope in Christ, It is our repentance and our belief in Him and His promise of forgiveness of sins that gives us hope of a future beyond this world.  That's exciting. When we get excited about our faith, like David and Rachel are, that breeds hope. The hope comes in the lives of the others around them, around you and me. It's the way our eyes light up when we talk about Jesus that gives others a reason to hope. And that is very exciting!!

When was the last time you talked with someone, excitedly about Jesus? Has it been just a few days? Or a few weeks? Or has it been years? Or hasn't it happened at all.

When I met my wife, my mother told me I had "cow eyes." I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I think it meant that she could tell in my eyes just how much I loved this woman and how much I cared for her and how excited I was about her.

Shouldn't we feel the same way about Jesus? Do you still get excited when you tell someone your testimony? Can they see the excitement in your eyes when you tell them about the hope that you have in Christ? I certainly hope so.

My friends, if you are not excited about your relationship with Jesus Christ, I would submit to you that your current relationship status with our King needs a jump start. Dive into His Word, volunteer somewhere and serve our Lord with your giftedness, worship Him in your local church and devote yourself in prayer with a group of fellow believers. Get excited about your faith.

We are the bride of Christ. The bride groom is coming. It's time to get excited about our faith because our wedding day is fast approaching and we should be ready and waiting for the hope that we have to come true.

"13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil." - 1 Peter 3:13-17

In Christ Alone - by Avalon

Saturday, October 5, 2013


The following is an open letter . . .

To whom it may concern,

I've seen your posts on Facebook. The cries for attention, the rebellious words born in frustration and loneliness. How I long to gather you into my arms like a mother hen does with her chicks - to protect you from evil, to nurture you in love, and to teach you the ways of the world . . . oh, the dangers of the cold and often heartless world in which we live. It is not an easy place in which to live, is it? You're beginning to figure that out. Yet there you are. Wandering. Lost. Alone.

Well, what shall you do? Should you whine and complain? Should you follow the path of those who stab each other in the back with comments cast from a distant computer? Shall you try to make yourself feel better by putting others in your own life down? Or by picking up a bottle, or popping a pill? Whether you like it or not, you are being dragged, kicking and screaming, into a future that is dark, lonely and totally unknown.

"There must be something better!" you say. "There must be another path to follow!"

You have lied and been lied to. You have been persecuted, crushed and abandoned. But you have done your share of that to others as well. You have been hurt, experienced loss, felt totally alone and unloved. You are searching everywhere except the one place you need look!

Jesus came into this world to be a light in the darkness. but what do we do? We close our room darkening shades and light our OWN lives with the flickering glow of a television screen . . . with the "warm embrace" of a cozy laptop. We do everything in OUR power to make ourselves feel better, to make the pain go away . . . to be our OWN hero.

It's not working, is it?

We are our own worst enemy. Our pride, our selfish desire to "take care of ourselves" prevents us from discovering the very thing that can cure our sickness.

"12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." - Proverbs 14:12

I pray for you daily my child. It's frustrating to see you destroying yourself, and for what? Because someone left you alone? Because things didn't go the way you wanted? Seriously? Is that what your life comes down to? What YOU want? There is SO much more to life. So much more than what WE want. Like . . . what we NEED.

There is great potential in you, my friend. I have seen it. You have the ability to do great things. But there is something missing in your life. There is something missing from your very soul. That something . . . is Jesus.

When I first met you, you were a wreck. Love had been ripped from your life and it hurt. It hurt deeply. But self pity is not the answer. Neither is self-medication or mutilation. What you need is self-surrender. You need to surrender yourself . . . to Jesus.

We can go to the doctor and find out we have an deadly illness. The doctor can prescribe exactly what is needed. But somewhere, sooner or later, you are going to have to take the pills. You are going to have to place your faith in the ability of someone else. Someone who knows exactly how to help you. You are going to have to accept the diagnosis and fill yourself with the cure.

Yes, this life can be tough. Yes, it can be hard. But at some point you are going to have to get to the point of surrendering YOUR will to the will of the Great Physician. And His prescription is this:

Turn your life around. Give up the way of life that is slowly killing you. Turn your life over to Jesus, the cure, and surrender yourself. Reach out to Him and the people He has placed right in front of you. He has sent you the help you need. Take it.

It's not going to be easy. Taking that first step is the hardest thing to do. But soon you will be running. You will be running into the arms of someone who can ease your pain through His grace and compassion. He will calm your fears through His mercy and wisdom. He can save your life through redemption and forgiveness.

We all have gotten tired of the fight, we all thought we were at the end of the rope. But that's exactly where you will find Him. That's where Jesus is. Reach out and take His hand. Climb out of the crashing waves and get into the lifeboat He has provided for you. You can save yourself . . . you save your own life by simply losing it . . . by giving control of your life to someone else. Please, my friend, give your life to Jesus. He will walk with you for the rest of your life, and beyond. But it is you, my friend, who must take the first step.

I love you and pray for that day when I can call you brother.

"28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30

Come To Me by Aaron Shust

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Saturday morning, when I got up , I walked out of my parent's guest bedroom and out into the dimly-lit hallway. Early-morning light was beginning to sneak into their house but it was struggling to do so. A big stretch of this old body of mine was next on the list as I tried to get the kinks out of my back from our 8-hour drive to Michigan the day before.

There was a light on in the living room. I could hear the faint reports coming from CNN as my mom and my dad sat watching the news. No one else was up. I stood there for a moment, unnoticed, and gained some insight into what it must be like for my mother each day, living quietly with her husband of 60+ years . . . and with the disease that is attacking his mind . . . Alzheimer's.

In many ways I think Alzheimer's disease is more cruel than a simple death. When some one dies, they are simply gone but you remember them as they were. Usually whole; somewhat vibrant and cognitive. But with Alzheimer's it's like the person we remember is not even with us anymore and has been replaced with someone else who walks and talks like the person we knew, but they struggle to remember who WE are. Alzheimer's Disease provides us with constant opportunities to think about "what used to be" and "what could have been."

My parents switched off the news and began to work on a jigsaw puzzle. My mom liked jigsaw puzzles back in the day - the harder the better. These days they stick mainly to 100-piece puzzles. My mom assembles the border while my dad tries to complete the inside. It takes them a while but eventually they get there . . . together. My mom offering suggested puzzle pieces along the way.

"Try this one. That's right. Just rotate it a bit. There you go!"

I used to wonder how God could allow such a disease to effect the people he supposedly loves. The same could be said for cancer or AIDS. God could eliminate them with the wave of His hand if He wanted to. So why doesn't he? A couple of verses come to mind . . . and a concept.

"The poor you will always have with you." - Matthew 26:11

Why? Why would Jesus say that? I suppose the same thing could be said of the sick. Illness and disease will always be with us. Why? I believe it is so that God can be glorified when he heals or so that He can use the disease to develop character in us. Why else? Population control? I don't think so . . . which brings me to my second verse.

"God wishes that none should perish." - 2 Peter 3:9

If God truly wishes that none should perish, then why are there diseases that cause death? These are good, logical questions that many people ask. Many people choose not to believe in God for this very reason. And this is exactly where my concept comes in.

The problem with us humans is that we spend an incredible amount of time thinking about ourselves. It's all about us. My young friend who got hit by a car last week . . . why was that allowed to happen?

We have to start seeing things through God's eyes, not our own. Forget about injuries and suffering and death. Those are temporary. Think eternally! What could someones illness be used for? Well, it could make us run to God for help. We could seek Him out to comfort us our a loved one in time of need. What else?

I suppose God could be using the suffering of someone we love to develop the character in those around Him. Remember, think eternally now. What was I witnessing this past weekend as I was watching my parents assembling a puzzle together? I witnessed the never-ending love that my parents have for each other. And what was that teaching me? That I should exhibit the same kind of love to the people I have in MY life. Hmm. I am 60 years old and my mother is still teaching me things.

We are not on this earth to live for ourselves. Sure, we're here to learn and to grow. But ultimately we are here for God and for others. Remember the greatest commandment? Jesus' disciples asked him what it was and he said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

It's all about love. We are learning how to love in ALL situations. What's that they always say in wedding ceremonies? "In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, till death do us part." That is how we are to love one another. My parents love each other in ALL of those ways. I pray that I will learn from their example and follow their leading and love not only my wife in such a way, but ALL those I happen to meet.

"4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8