Saturday, November 30, 2013


There are moments, all too fleeting these days, when we somehow manage to find that seemingly unattainable state of being known as . . . peace. Perhaps it's late at night, after all the Facebook chatter dies down . . . whenever THAT is. Or perhaps it's early in the morning, before everyone else in the house has risen from their beds. Perhaps it's just you and your thoughts. Or more likely, you, your thoughts and a steaming cup of your favorite blend held warmingly in your hands.

Perhaps peace comes in a steeping hot bath after the kids have gone to bed or perhaps you have known precious little peace since your spouse died and the stillness that often accompanies peace is just too much to bear because you live all alone in an all-too-quiet house. Whatever the case, true peace seems increasingly difficult to find these days. There IS a way.

Today I am writing you about a friend of mine where I work. She was raised Catholic but is currently not a church-goer and, in this sinner's opinion, is not a believer in Jesus Christ. In a conversation a few years ago she told me "Jesus could never forgive me for some of the things I've done." She's probably in her late 40's or early 50's, smokes and drinks, sometimes to excess.

A few years ago she lost her best friend to cancer. Her friend did not believe in God. She was a nurse and placed all of her faith in her doctors because that's all she knew. It was the doctors . . . or nothing. And now . . . she has nothing. She has been lost for all time.

My friend at work was really impacted by the death of her friend. Yet, on the times I have spoken to my friend about Jesus, she seems rather unimpressed. I was reminded of my friend as I read a passage from John 6 this week. The story of Jesus walking on the water.

"16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading." - John 6:16-21

Let me see if I can explain the earthly situation of my friend, and many others among us for that matter, by using the words in bold as my talking points.

Every one of us starts out like the disciples did. "They got into a boat." The boat is our life's journey. We got into it when we were born. When we leave the boat our journey here on earth will be over. We will have, as they say, crossed over to the other side.

"It was dark." What a perfect description for the world in which we live. It's cold and dark and it is, for the most part, totally without The Light - Jesus, as he is known in scripture. Jesus is The Light of the World. And do you know why this world, and many of the people in it are "dark"? Spiritually dark? Because The Light, "Jesus had not yet joined them."

Then, "the waters grew rough." Those are the "storms" we encounter in each of our lives. They are the broken relationships, the accidents, the illnesses. They are the divorces, the addictions and the deaths that each of us can face in this life. For my friend at work it was the death of her best friend.

Sometimes the struggles we face are abrupt and pack a powerful punch. Sometimes they are long and drawn out. Sometimes is seems as if we have "rowed about three or for miles." That's a long distance to row during a violent storm. What a struggle! But then something incredible happened. "They saw Jesus." They even "saw Him walking on the water" but still "they were frightened."

At some point in our lives we all have the opportunity to hear about Jesus. We all have the opportunity to come to know Him. Maybe were not quite sure what to do. The disciples were unsure and they already believed in Him! But then Jesus did something. He calmed their fears. He reassured those in the boat by saying, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”

Maybe my friend needs to see a miracle in her life. Maybe she needs proof. Maybe she's like Thomas and needs to see the scars in His hands and in His side. Maybe my friends need to be reassured somehow. Perhaps that's MY role, to reassure her by my witness, by my testimony of how Jesus calmed the storms in MY life. But ultimately, my friend has got to make the decision. She has to feel calm and reassured about things. She must become more afraid of the storm that she is about any pending leap of faith. My friend must become willing "to take Him into the boat." Her boat. Her life. She must become the willing recipient of Gods free gift - forgiveness of sins. All she must do is repent of her sins and allow Jesus to come aboard. As soon as she does that, the long, stormy journey will be over . . . "immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading."

Those of us who believe have all allowed Jesus to enter our boats. We are all anxiously standing on that distant shore, staring out to sea, hoping to spot another arriving boat headed for shore. Each time Jesus rescues another boat, another life, from imminent destruction we, who have made it to shore, cheer. We cheer because another life has been saved from a fate that is literally worse than death.

And so it is that I seek your prayers for my friend. We need to pray for those who are about to encounter the decisive storms in their lives. Perhaps God will soften their hearts and they receive enough courage from above for them to allow Jesus to enter their boats, to take control and allow Jesus to calm their storms. Then, and only then, will they know the TRUE meaning of peace.

Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby & David Bowie

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Today I'm going to be starting things out a little backwards. If you have been reading these thrice-weekly stories often enough you will know that I usually include a link to a song or a video at the end of my blogs. But this time I thought I would offer this video FIRST to kind of set up what I am going to be writing about today. Please, watch the faces of the people in this video and then return for some thoughts about . . . Thanksgiving.

Groceries For Free

We here in this country have a day on which we take off from work and spend time with our families. We give thanks to God for His many blessings. At least that was the plan years ago when George Washington proclaimed the first Thanksgiving Day. These days our thoughts are more about who's going to win the big football game or who's making it to the biggest sale on Black Friday. That is NOT what this holiday was intended to be used for.

In the video, did you see the looks on the faces of those ladies who were gifted free groceries? That was the look of thankfulness. It was the look disbelief, that someone would give them something so valuable to them. Totally undeserving of what they had been given, they couldn't handle the generosity, their tears of joy paying tribute to their unknown benefactor.

That look . . . the look on the faces of those ladies . . . it is the same look we should have on our faces when we come before our Lord in prayer. We should have that look when we worship in our churches. Have you seen that look in YOUR church lately? We should have that look, the tears of joy, when we surrender our hearts to Christ, repent of our sins, and make that life-saving decision to follow Jesus.

I was blessed to be able to pray with a couple of teens as one of them made that decision. There were tears all around. What a special and God-honoring moment that was. If we could only bottle moments like that, those emotions, and open them up in times of want or need.

This Thanksgiving I encourage you to not let those special moments slip by. You WILL have them. Be ever-watchful and pray that you will not miss a single one because they most definitely are fleeting.

I had one such moment the other day. As I was recovering from what had turned out to be food poisoning, I received a message on Facebook. It was from a young friend I had met in our church's youth group where I was a leader. I hadn't heard from her in a year and a half but suddenly, there was her encouraging message right when I needed it most. My day got remarkable better after that! :)

Each of us is an "encouraging message" waiting to happen. Don't wait for those rare, special moments to happen to you. Create them yourself, or rather, allow yourself to be used by God's Holy Spirit. Be the inspiration in someone else's life. Not only will you lift the other person's spirits up but yours will soar right up there as well. Give thanks this week for all of your many blessings because, when we really think about it, we have been given SO much.

The God of the universe who created us and loves us, sent His son to die for us! That's worth a thank you or two. Because God knew we could never make it on our own, He offered us a way that we could STILL be with Him, even though we don't really deserve it. All who sin against a Holy God  deserve death, yet He gave us an option, an out. By placing our faith in Jesus, by simply submitting to His will and not our own, we can receive forgiveness for all of our sins. ALL of them! Yes, even THAT one! More thanks are in order my friends!! We serve a great King. We need to remember that, and act like it, every . . . day . . . of our lives.

"12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." - Colossians 3:12-17

Thankful by Caedmon's Call

Monday, November 25, 2013


This past Saturday was my one year anniversary of writing this blog. I was going to wow you by telling you all of the readers I have, but I don't really have that many. If you are reading this you are one of the few, the proud, the . . . well, I appreciate you and your taking the time to read these stories. It means a lot.

There are ways I could have chosen to bolster my readership. I could have written about things that the world is REALLY interested in. For instance, I could have written about something "extreme" using the latest web technology and graphics for my blog page. Or I could have chosen to write one of those warm and fuzzy, self-esteem boosting type of blogs. People would love my writing because I would be so positive and uplifting. Maybe I should have had a gossip blog where I spread rumors about everyone I know. That would probably draw a crowd . . . all carrying torches and one of those do-it-yourself tar and feather kits.

I suppose I could have given away stuff. "A free iPod with every hundred reads!" But that would mean I'd actually have to go out and buy and iPod and give it away. Yeah . . . that's not going to be happening.

The purpose of this blog, at its core, has always been to spread the Gospel. Oh, occasionally I have strayed from my "prime directive" but not too far. I've tried to be funny, encouraging, discerning . . . and hey, I've even called out a few churches and/or denominations when ever I notice they have strayed from God's Word. I get very protective when people start twisting God's words to suit their own particular agenda.

To date I have posted 140 posts (stories). They have been read in 78 countries around the world. Russia, Germany, The United Kingdom, France, China . . . I think it's so cool that all these countries have stumbled across my blog. But I get a special thrill when I see that people from Jordan, Turkey and even Iran have read some of my stories. I pray for them. If they are truly seeking I know that they will find Him.

I just enjoy writing and sharing stories of how I have seen God working in my life and the lives of those around me. He never ceases to amaze me with His wide variety of means and methods. He is amazing to watch as he orchestrates situations and circumstances.

Like my recent trip to the emergency room. After two hours of analysis, the ER doctor simply advised that I see my regular physician for further information. My "regular doctor" is a busy boy. Making an appointment to see him usually comes with at least a four week lead time. However, I had already been scheduled for an appointment. Today. The first possible day after my emergency room visit, all scheduled months ahead of time.

God gives us all certain abilities or talents. How we use them is up to us. But I would challenge you today to look at your life and find one thing you are currently doing for yourself that you COULD be doing for God. Then do it. It's easier than you think. And you will be blessed for it, as God has blessed me for writing stories for His gain and not my own. Thank you.

"31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31

Sunday, November 24, 2013


It's amazing, the things one thinks about when they find themselves the focus of attention in an emergency room. Not much actually. Although everyone seemed really interested in finding out more about me. I must have given my "last name and date of birth" about a dozen times. Blood was being taken out of one arm and something else was being pumped into the other. Yet 24 hours ago that's where I was.

I was at work all day Friday. Things were fine. I was still feeling good that night. But then at one o'clock AM I was NOT feeling good at all. Not at all! I didn't sleep the rest of the night, feeling extremely weak and achy, temperature. Very dizzy. And my heart seemed to be acting up a bit. That last symptom prompted my wife to take me to the ER.

I was there for 3 hours with a very worried wife by my side. Then, upon returning home, I slept. I slept ALL DAY. Then last night it started again. I got up from bed and went into the living room so my tossing and turning wouldn't disturb my wife. That's when I did something I hadn't done in the past 24 hours. I prayed.

Funny. That's the first thing I should have done, yet it was the last. So, as I drifted off to sleep early this morning I still was not feeling very good. But I had prayed, not for myself, but for God's will to be done.

Perhaps that sounds a bit melodramatic but that's what I did. I fell asleep in our living room chair and woke up feeling incredibly refreshed. All of my symptoms were gone. This morning I ate some food, the first since Friday night's dinner. This morning I feel so much better, as if nothing had happened.

This morning, as I type this story for you, I paused to look out the window. We have a bird feeder in our back yard. The chickadees and nuthatches are busy feeding themselves on sunflower seeds, not a care in the world. God has provided for them. And so, for today, I leave you with the words of Jesus, my friends. May thoughts of Him be our FIRST line of defense, and not our last.

"26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:26-34

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


When I was growing up, one of my most favorite movies was Swiss Family Robinson. There were so many things in that movie that young boys and girls could find entertaining. Adventure, romance, pirates, animals. It was a amazing movie. And it was rated G!!! But the coolest thing in the movie, by far, at least for me, was their tree house!

That house was the most amazing thing I had ever seen (at age 8). There was nothing I wanted more than to have a tree house exactly like the one in the movie. They had all the comforts of home, albeit extremely simplified. They were living in paradise. And in the end (spoiler alert) the mom and the dad decided to stay on the island, even though rescuers offered them a ride back to civilization. They had found their version of heaven, right here on earth. It was a wonderful family movie.

But if one remembers back to the beginning of the movie, things did not start out so well. There was an incredible storm and their entire family was shipwrecked on that remote, tropical island. But in the end their entire family weathered the storm, made it to the island, and lived happily ever after.

If you have your Bibles handy I'd like you to turn to the next to the last chapter in the Book of Acts (27). You can go here to read it. Verses 13-44.

The Apostle Paul was a prisoner of the Roman Empire. He was being transported to Rome on a ship. Their journey started off well with "a gentle south wind." But then things changed and the "gentle wind" turned into a massive hurricane. Things got worse in a hurry. Not good.

They had a lifeboat but couldn't make it secure (v16). They tied ropes around the ship to keep it from falling apart (v 17). They began to throw cargo overboard (v18). On the THIRD DAY (interesting) they threw more stuff overboard in an effort to save themselves (v19). They didn't see the sun or the stars for several days. All these things occurred to the point where they gave up any hope of being saved (v20).

Then something happened. Paul stood up and spoke.

"Men, you should have taken my advice . . . I urge you to keep up your courage." (v21)

"So keep up your courage man, for I have faith in God (v25). What amazing advice!

When we undergo a trial or are facing hardship, we must turn to God in our time of need. When everything is falling apart around us we could try to fix things ourselves. We could throw everything overboard . . . like our relationships. We could turn to other means of trying to fix things ourselves via drugs or alcohol or . . . you name it. But our rescue from what ever circumstance we find ourselves in is NOT FROM OURSELVES. It is from God.

The words of Paul and words that might as well have been spoken by God into our lives. "You should have listened to Me." Have we turned to God with our latest struggle? With our biggest problems? We need to listen to Jesus speaking into our lives through the Holy Scriptures. We need to find comfort in the Words spoken by God through the prophets. We need to heed the advice of the angels. Every time they were about to speak they always began their oratory with tremendous words of advice. "Fear not."

It may be hard to follow that command from the deck of a ship in trouble or from a hospital bed with a bunch of tubes stuck in you. But we have been commanded not to fear. And truly, through Christ, how can we EVER really be afraid.

When we are facing a "shipwreck" in our lives we need to listen to God's Word. He does not wish that ANYONE should perish but that we would have eternal life through Jesus. If we give HIM control over the "ship" that is our lives, we can weather even the mightiest of storm . . .

"When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach" (v39).


Monday, November 18, 2013


The other night I was lying, face down, on the living room floor . . . trying to think. My wife was watching one of her TV shows. I don't really remember which one. It doesn't matter. The point was, I couldn't concentrate on what I was doing with the television on.

Lowering my head onto my Bible, I said a prayer - a prayer interrupted by the voices filling the room - the voices coming from . . . the television.

Did you ever sit down and analyze the things this world throws at us? Whether it is through the television shows the networks feed us or through the movies that Hollywood offers, we are inundated with worldly, mind-numbing drivel. Can you tell I have an opinion?

I love my Bible dearly. I take it with me everywhere I go. After particularly moving times within it's 66 books, I have been known to kiss its cover upon completion of my reading. I treasure time spent exploring and discovering the hidden secrets, the foreshadowing of things to come, and the promises of a God who loves us enough to send His Son to die for OUR sins.

It's pretty easy to figure out what's happening here as we find ourselves slowly being entertained . . . to death.

The following lyrics are from a little-known song by Roger Waters (formerly of Pink Floyd). It perfectly describes where we are headed as a society if we continue devoting our time to ourselves - the television watchers and the movie goers. We will soon be amusing ourselves to death.

We watched the tragedy unfold
We did as we were told
We bought and sold
It was the greatest show on earth
But then it was over
We ooh-ed and ahh-ed
We drove our racing cars
We ate our last few jars of caviar
And somewhere out there in the stars
A keen-eyed look-out
Spied a flickering light
Our last hurrah
And when they found our shadows
Grouped around the TV sets
They ran down every lead
They repeated every test
They checked out all the data on their lists
And then the alien anthropologists
Admitted they were still perplexed
But on eliminating every other reason
For our sad demise
They logged the only explanation left
This species has amused itself to death
No tears to cry no feelings left
This species has amused itself to death

Satan is VERY good at what he does. He gives us everything we want, right when we want it. We hardly even notice the little breaches in the walls surrounding our souls. Slowly he picks away at us.

"Work a little later tonight."

"Oh, no one showed up for your Bible study? Too bad. You must be failing. You fail at a lot of things, don't you."

We've all heard the voices of doubt in our heads. We let those thoughts enter into our minds because we are a forgetful people. We tend to forget about how we have been given the power to resist such things. We were bought with a price, yet we forget about our intercessor, the one who paid our price to begin with.

My wife often says to me, as I am picking up my Bible and walking out of the TV zone . . .

"You're leaving me!"

It's not like I'm "leaving my wife." It hurts me a little every time she says that. But there is someone I love more than her. I must find time to invest in that relationship as well. I MUST find time in my daily schedule for God. I must find some time for my King. The one who stands in the gap for me.

"8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen." - 1 Peter 5:8-11

Please watch this video by Pastor Eric Ludy of the Elerslie Bible Institute, Windsor, CO. See if Eric doesn't get us fired up for Jesus. :)

Intercession by Pastor Eric Ludy

Saturday, November 16, 2013


There's not much that makes me angry anymore. Not since I made Jesus Lord of my life anyway. I get frustrated to be sure. Just turn on the news and you'll probably get frustrated too! Anger is a different emotion all together.

I remember punching Jimmy Fosbinder in the face once back in sixth grade. Does that count? Nah. That was just stupid kid stuff. The anger was okay to feel. I had been wronged. But the punching someone in the face part . . . yeah, that was stupid.

I'm really a pretty easy going guy . . . I guess. Although there have been a few times, since I have become a believer, that I have gotten a little mad at someone. Twice in eight years. That's not too bad is it?

Anger is an emotion. It's not one of the more politically correct, user-friendly emotions out there but it IS an emotion, given to us by God.

Most people think anger is bad but I'm not one of them. Like I said, anger is simply an emotion. What we DO with that anger . . . well, that's another story.

I don't know about you but I DO take some comfort in knowing that God Himself gets angry.

"9 The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command." - 1 Kings 11:9-10

Like Father, like Son . . .

"4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts," - Mark 3:4-5

As I was scrolling down through the posts on Facebook recently, I saw a post by one of my friends. After reading it and thinking about it I decided I didn't like his words very much and I began to get a little upset. I'll let you read it and see if you don't feel the same way.

"Every time I listen to Jeremy Camp's "Jesus Saves" song, I sing along but replace "saves" with "shaves" so while the song plays I keep having this image of clean shaven Jesus...he's got such a little baby face in my mind."

Some might say, "That's not so bad, Bob." I would reply with this. Is the post indignant? Is it irreverent? I think it is. To further explain where I am going with this I would like to offer you a word definition from the 1828 Webster Dictionary and I would like you to consider . . . Does this word fit the Facebook post?

BLAS''PHEMY, n. An indignity offered to God by words or writing; reproachful, contemptuous or irreverent words uttered impiously against Jehovah. Blasphemy is an injury offered to God, by denying that which is due and belonging to him, or attributing to him that which is not agreeable to his nature.

In Hebrew culture, when one is in mourning for the sins they have committed, they were to do the following:

"Therefore in that day the Lord God of hosts called you to weeping, to wailing, to shaving the head and to wearing sackcloth." - Isaiah 22:12

I don't think Jesus would have ever shaved his head or beard in mourning for his sins . . . because He never committed any!! I know my friend probably wasn't thinking about what he was typing. I have made similar mistakes with the pen. But my friend is a youth pastor and really should watch what he says. Little pitchers have big ears.

This world, this country, has lost it's fear of God. It has turned it's back on the very God who created us in the first place. Scroll down through the Facebook posts and look at all of the OMG's. It has become a way of life . . . acceptable practice to use the name of the Lord, our God, in vain (3rd commandment). Even as a curse word! The only time we should be using the name Jesus Christ is when we are reading, praying, worshipping or evangelizing.

I know we live in America, where we have freedom of speech, but having that freedom does not excuse us from using it to the detriment of others, especially our God and King, Jesus. He deserves the highest amount of respect we can muster, and then, WAY more than even our tiny brains can offer. To use him as a punch-line of sorts disgusts me.

And so I will leave you with a description of Jesus. Not the baby-faced Jesus, or the pristine Jesus with the curly hair that hangs on a cross in so many of our churches today. Remember, He was beaten and bruised and He was, and is, a God who gets angry.

"11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords." - Revelation 19:11-16

That's my Jesus.

I get upset when people talk about God in demeaning ways. I get angry when people, and churches, put words in His mouth or "interpret" scriptures to line up with some political agenda. God's Word is God's Word.

"2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you." - Deuteronomy 4:2

We as a people need to show more respect for the God of the Universe. We need to get to the point where we tremble at the very mention of His Holy name. I encourage you to take a step today to correct someone when you hear them use the name of God in vain. Loving talk to someone who is making fun of our King. Our God is a very loving, patient God but He does get angry from time to time. We, as His children, must NEVER give Him a reason to do so.

Sissified, needy Jesus by Voddie Baucham

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


The weeks before our daughter's wedding seemed to be going by rather smoothly - almost TOO smoothly. One could easily say we were overdue for something bad to happen in our lives but I don't believe in all of that karma stuff. And I don't do "luck" either. However, this past week my wife and I endured so many frustrating events in our lives one could easily say we were . . . jinxed.

It all was started when our relatively new high-tech oven failed. The cook top still worked but the oven simply would not get any warmer than 200 degrees. My wife had a lot of baking to do, getting ready for our daughter's wedding. And now that was impossible. Strangely enough, that's when the drain for the kitchen sink got clogged. So much for doing dishes (oh darn).

Naturally I decided to unclog the drain by myself. Why pay for a plumber, right? So I got a wrench and a bucket and headed down to the basement to open the clean out for the kitchen sink. All was proceeding as normal. I began unscrewing the cap on the clean out. The pipe began to drip as expected. Soon there was a trickle. It still wasn't draining fast enough for me. Maybe just another quarter turn . . . .


My arm, the basement wall, several storage boxes and the carpeting were all suddenly soaking wet with dirty, grey sewer water. Nice. Smelled nice too. :O

Then I almost ran out of gas coming home the day before. My car notifies me when I get to within 50 miles of having no gas. It does it again at 25 miles. I'm not sure how I missed BOTH of those warnings but I did. When I finally noticed I was running low on gas, I got off the freeway at the next available exit with a gas station. The gas gage read - "2 miles to empty."

Why were all these bad things happening? Was Satan trying to get us to be angry or frustrated? Maybe. Were we being tested in some way? Perhaps. There was a lot of things that could have really ruined one of the most special weeks of our lives. So why didn't it? The answer, I believe, is God.

Really? How can God make us not care when bad things happen to us . . . when frustration mounts and it seems like nothing is going our way? Like we're jinxed or cursed.

I think it's because we have a faith that makes none of this earthly stuff matter. It is because our focus is on things above not the here below. It all depends on our point of view.

Scroll down through the posts on Facebook sometime. You will see dozens of posts by people who have an earthly view of things, not an eternal view. This morning's sampling was pretty typical. There was a movie quote about having sex. Another about how it's too cold outside. One about how someone doesn't like Thanksgiving. ANOTHER one about the temperature. Here's one. Someone is thinking about starting a blog! Ha!

Most of the posts I read are self-focused. Most of our troubles in this life are self-focused. What if we looked at everything with an eye towards heaven? What is we focus on the eternal aspect of everything that happens instead of the temporal?

Suddenly everything "here" becomes less important.

When our oven failed my wife called her best friend and asked to use HER oven. Cookies got baked and a friend came to the rescue, increasing the bond between my wife and her friend. When the drain clogged up the week before our daughter's wedding we were grateful it didn't happen when our house was filled with guests. When I almost ran out of gas I learned a lesson about planning ahead. It all depends on how we look at things.

When Job was confronted with all the things that went wrong in his life, what did HE do? He praised God. He worshipped. Perhaps we should try harder to find ways to do that. Maybe then things wouldn't seem so bad after all.

"20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” - Job 1:20-21

Blessed Be The Name by Matt Redman

Monday, November 11, 2013


The house is quiet now. The sun setting on an amazing weekend that saw our one and only daughter get married and begin a new life with her new husband. It was an amazing weekend, filled with family and friends, several long-overdue conversations and renewed relationships.

As I reflect back on the past 48 hours, there were so many special moments, so many gifts from God, as I like to call them. We as a family have been incredibly blessed. Many family members traveled long distances, simply to spend time with us and our daughter on her special day. That in itself was a very special gift!

It's not like there weren't hurdles to get over or storms to weather along the way. My brother and his wife flew in from San Francisco under less than ideal circumstances. A relative of the groom traveled from Philadelphia. Great personal expense to exhibit their love for the bride and the groom. Amazing.

There were selfless acts of love as spouses sacrificed their own personal enjoyment to stay behind in hotel rooms with sick kids. That is a special kind of love. Awesome! But despite the hard times, we still got through it all . . . because we are a family.

There were a few moments that stuck out in my mind though as I look back on things from the relative quiet of a Sunday night. These moments touched me deeply so I thought I would share all these examples with you, in hopes that you might see God's love from a human view point.

I woke up Saturday morning. REAL early. My dad is an early riser and needs to be supervised because of his Alzheimer's. He has been known to get into a little trouble if left on his own. But Saturday morning was different. He was just sitting there in our living room, crying.

My dad is a proud man. He's the guy who provided for us and took care of us. This is a guy who graduated from college with an engineering degree and designed vehicle seating for trucks, vans, trains and planes. Yet, now, he cannot remember the names of his children. Incredibly frustrating for him. Yet it is an opportunity for others to love him and care for him, sacrificing themselves for someone else. Does that sound like anyone you know? Does that sound like something Jesus did for us on a cross? That is love.

The second story is about my daughter. I had it all together pretty much. All smiles. Not a care in the world. Then, as I was walking our daughter down the aisle, I did something I shouldn't have done. I looked at her. I quickly looked away as the tears of joy began to come. What a beautiful bride!! But the moment that really got to me at the reception was the father-daughter dance. My daughter had selected Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman. Oh my.

As we danced we just talked and we laughed. But in the moments of silence, thoughts our her and our lives together flooded in and it was hard fighting back the tears.

There were several other wonderful moments during the evening. Seeing my father dancing with my mother, dancing with my mom, but I will always remember dancing with my Cinderella.

I think that's how God looks at each of us . . . how he longs to dance with each of us. He has invited us all to the wedding yet some of us refuse to attend. Only those who accept God's offer of grace and forgiveness through His son Jesus will be allowed into the banquet. If you haven't done so already, won't you please consider RSVP'ing today? You will be glad you did.

"And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests." - Luke 22:1-10

Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman

Saturday, November 9, 2013


[The following is the speech I am planning to give at my daughter's wedding reception later today. May God's Holy Spirit lead me to do so.]

May I have your attention please? This is the part of the evening where "the dad" stands up here and offers words of encouragement to the newly married couple. Words of advice to help them have a long and healthy relationship.

Over the years I have noticed a few things about relationships and marriage. In my 36 years of marriage to my wife Bev I have gathered some much-needed wisdom about marriage relationships, and just what it takes to have a successful one. Still, just to make sure I had all the bases covered before offering any advise here tonight, I thought I would check with the one source that everyone seems to turn to these days for their wisdom and truth . . . the Internet.

Most of the advice I found out there was pretty lame but I did find some insightful quotes. Here are a few.

“The best way to remember your wife's birthday is to forget it once.”

“I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one's wife happy. First, let her think she's having her own way. And second, let her have it.” -Lyndon B. Johnson

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” - Rodney Dangerfield. That's not really a tip. I just thought it was funny.

Humorous quotes are one thing but good, real life advice is like gold!

Here's a really short list of tips to consider. Let's start out right where most married couples wind up eventually anyway . . . the toilet.

1. Toilet paper - Toilet paper was designed to be dispensed over the top not under the bottom. Actually, it IS designed to be USED under the bottom, just not dispensed that way.

2. Leave the toilet seat down. If the toilet seat was designed to be left UP then what is it's purpose? Why even have a lid? If everyone closed the toilet seat after they were done in the bathroom we would never have to text someone our name because they "dropped their phone in the toilet." We would never have to get a new toothbrush because Jerry Seinfeld dropped ours in the toilet. We would never have our dog drinking his fill from places he shouldn't.

Behind the wheel. Asking directions when we don't want to, stomping on imaginary brakes, listening to Aunt Edna from the back seat. We've all been there. I don't need to repeat things we already know to be true.

Those tips are somewhat humorous, and minimally helpful, they don't really have the ability to change a marriage like the tip that I am about to give you.

Earlier today I had the privilege of reading a few verses during Krystle and Travis's wedding ceremony.

Ephesians 5:22-33 spoke about submission . . . and sacrifice . . . and love . . . all essential for a successful marriage. But the verse that speaks loudest and contains the most the wisdom for building a successful relationship together is the last verse from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Listen to it again.

"9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their work. 10 If one falls down, the other can lift him up. But pity the one who falls and has no one to pick him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him . . . . (now here we are at the important part so look right at me now) - a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Why would King Solomon, the wisest man on the planet, suddenly switch from talking about TWO people in a relationship, to three? Well, the reason is . . . the key to ANY successful relationship . . . is to have God at its center. The key to any relationship "lasting forever" . . . is Jesus. Please allow Him to come into YOUR life and work a miracle in YOUR heart. And experience what it means to have a marriage LITERALLY made in heaven.

Let's pray . . .

Father, 2000 years ago you performed your first miracle. You changed water into wine at a wedding festival just like this one. Tonight, I humbly ask that you work another miracle here. Create in this couple a love that is unconditional, submissive and sacrificial. And, above all, create in this couple a relationship that contains you. For it is through you that our relationships find meaning, far beyond our expectations or what we feel we deserve. For you taught us that faith, hope and love will remain after all else fails. But the greatest of these is love. YOUR love. Amen.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


My mother used to love this time of year. She probably STILL does. When we lived in New Berlin (a suburb of Milwaukee) she used to have my dad take slow, relaxing drives through nearby Elm Grove just so she could smell the burning leaves. Elm Grove had a lot of trees. Elm trees. Most of the elms are gone now but the name remains the same.

This time of year there are leaves falling all over the place. Even our "ever green" trees drop a lot of their needles in the fall. It's kind of nostalgic I guess to think back to those Sunday afternoon drives - the beautiful colors, entire families out in their yards, kids jumping into leaf piles over and over again, the giggles and the laughter. But these days fall has a less romantic meaning for me. It means I have to . . . rake.

Our neighbor has one of those really annoying leaf blower contraptions and I swear, judging by the hideous, penetrating, whining noise it makes, it takes longer for him to get his leaves into a pile now than it EVER did before!

This year my wife hurt her back trying to pull some of her heavy pots into the shed. She went to the doctor and he told her she must rest for a week. Well, with our daughter getting married this coming Saturday THAT is not going to be happening so I am keeping an eye on her so she doesn't do anything foolish . . . like rake the yard.

I used to rake the leaves into long lines and then set them on fire. Now there's all kinds of government restrictions. Burning permits need to be taken out. Life used to be fun. There is nothing more satisfying that watching the cause of all one's hard work literally go up in flames. Yeah!! Burn, baby, burn!!

Raking CAN get quite tiresome after a while and it requires no small effort to get rid of all of those  pesky leaves. Yet, at the end of the day, the yard looks clean and beautiful and, although my muscles are a little sore afterwards, I feel like I have accomplished something. I feel . . . energized.

When was the last time you read your Bible? (smooth transition, eh?) Hopefully it was today. I think many of us tend to take out our Bibles only when we really need to. Maybe I have a Bible study I'm getting ready for or maybe someone is in need of a verse and I'm trying to find one for them. I don't read my Bible as often as I should.

But do you know what? Every time I read it I get the same feeling I get when I rake the yard. Not the dreadful feeling of dong hard work. I'm talking about that energizing feeling. When I open my Bible my life is often a mess, just like our front yard. I'm usually feeling kind of down too but, strangely, when I'm done reading God's Word, I have a better outlook on life. I feel like my spiritual yard is all raked and clean and everything makes perfect sense and is in complete order.

It is also true that I have felt more than just a little pain while reading the Bible. A particular passage might really convict me. I might gain new knowledge and learn ways to make my spiritual "raking" more productive and easier. Reading God's Word is a great way to get the exercise we need to make sense out of the piles of debris and clutter in our spiritual "backyards."

You know, the easiest way to rake leaves is to do it daily. There aren't as many, The task doesn't seem so daunting. There is a lower chance of becoming injured due to over extending ourselves and straining those muscles we haven't used since LAST fall!

It is easier if we maintain our spiritual yards on a daily basis too rather than waiting until there is a crisis in our lives to throw up an emergency prayer to God. If we open up God's Word every day we will find ourselves ready to handle even the biggest pile of leaves on a windiest of days.

"And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." - Luke 10:2

Monday, November 4, 2013


As you can probably tell by some of my recent blog posts, I have pitched my tent in the Book of Acts for the time being. I have been lingering there, hoping to get some direction from the struggles and the example of the early church. I'm trying to learn about what it means to be a church by reading about the FIRST church. God's Word, as promised, has not returned void.

Perhaps you have already read about the early church and some of its characteristics. I wrote about them in a post called, strangely enough, Church. (Yeah, I  know. I like to stretch the envelope of creativity as often as I can) ANYWAY, there were several points in the blog post, directly taken from the Book of Acts (Chapter 2), by which a church should pattern itself - prayer, worship, communion, fellowship, etc. Well, this week I have another list for you, also from the Book of Acts, specifically chapter 11:19-30. This list came from a video message delivered by David Platt. The list also serves as a help for our pastors, leaders and members to follow as they run our churches because, frankly, some of us need it. So as you read this, examine yourself and your church. Are you/they doing what God intended of His church. This list is called . . .

Ten Exhortations from The Church at Antioch
  1. Let's raise up ordinary people in the church who will do extraordinary things in the kingdom (v19-20). Every church has people who God has gifted with certain skills and talents. We need to find a ministry for these "ordinary people," stand back and watch God use them in extraordinary ways. You will be amazed what God can do!
  2. Let's embrace suffering as a God-ordained means for the accomplishment of the Great Commission (v19, also chapters 7 & 8). No one has to tell the people in our community about suffering, especially lately with the death of a 17 year young girl in our community (Kameron). Times of suffering draw us closer to God and those that don't know Jesus, in a time of pain, are more likely to reach out in hopes of healing than when times are good.
  3. Let's penetrate lostness through externally-focused, intentionally-faithful proclamation of The Gospel (Ch 11v20). The majority of church plants bring in people from other churches. We need to reach the lost, not build churches for other believers.
  4. Let's not build our ministries on counting decisions but on making disciples (v22-26). The concern of the early church was spreading the gospel, not creating programs to draw people to themselves. They we out!
  5. Let's lead and plant churches that not only go aggressively after spiritual needs but also give sacrificially toward physical needs (v 27-30). Churches gave to others, each according to their ability. We need to physically live out the Gospel, not just preach it.
  6. Let's love the glory of God more than we love our own lives (Ch 13). Let's bless the Lord in our worship. People who love the glory of God will live to spread the word of God. There are 250 million lost people in North America!
  7. Let's fast and pray in desperate dependence on the Holy Spirit (v3). The message we spread is foolishness to those who are perishing. Why would the lost believe us? We MUST depend on God's Holy Spirit! Without it we don't have a chance!! We need spiritual provision MORE than we need physical provision.
  8. Let's commission brothers and sisters in the context of community (v 3). The local church is God's chosen means for the training and sending of pastors, church planters and missionaries. Let's stop bragging about seating capacity and start increasing our SENDING capacity.
  9. Let's trust that intentionally making disciples inevitably leads to multiplying churches (v4-5). SO much of what we associate with the church today are no where to be found in the book of Acts - elaborate programs, exquisite buildings. We have the people of God and the Word of Gods. That is enough!
  10. Let's leave a legacy of disciple makers, church planters and pastors, all across North America, for the fame of God's name.
I have a question for you today. I would like you to think about the question and pray about it before you answer it. The question, simply, is this, "If God gave you everything you asked for today, what would you have?"

Interesting . . .

Let us not underestimate what our God can do! The formula is simple. It's right there in the Book of Acts! We are God's people. We have been given God's Word. The only thing left is for us to spread the Gospel. God will take care of everything else. Let us be a people who make disciples. That is what we are called to do! By Jesus!!! Who are we going to reach today with the message of God?

The Church of Antioch in Acts 11 by David Platt (The full message)

Saturday, November 2, 2013


My wife and I were really bored and tired the other night. Probably not the best combination for deciding what show to watch on television. It was one of those nights when simply pressing the button on the remote was too much effort for us. What a perfect example of what's wrong with our country. But, let's not get sidetracked onto THAT topic.

When my wife and I are overtired, the quality of our show selection wanes. We tend to scan through the channels briefly until we stumble upon some show title that has even a slightest bit of interest. Most nights my wife has a remote and I watch my computer screen. But last night I had the remote and was in charge of all things absorbed into our subconscious minds. Mu-a-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

Naturally, I selected a show that had at least SOME content. Not like those shows my wife watches. No! This show was far superior in many ways. It was one of those "how-to" shows. You know. Informative, instructional, and there was an opportunity for Biblical discussion during the commercials. The show I selected had action, excitement and a deeper spiritual meaning than some of the house-flipping, gossip spreading, oh-so-predictable murder mystery shows my wife watches. Ha! Finally!!! A chance at watching a REAL show!! I'm talking about, of course, Doomsday Preppers.

Yeah . . . it was a poor choice. There are so many better things to be doing besides watching television. But it was one of those nights when I didn't want to "think" about anything. I just wanted to do nothing. And if we're looking to turn off our minds and zone, what better vehicle than television - the nation's favorite baby-sitter!

As we began watching the show my wife began to laugh over the crazy things these people were doing. Me too. They were really more than just a little overboard in their preparedness. Bullet proofing the family SUV with a 1/4" steel plating exoskeleton, target practise for the kids . . . with an AK-47. But our favorite was the 12" diameter steel tubes, filled with supplies and welded shut, dropped into the ocean off Alaska's coast for later retrieval after the tsunami apocalypse (sigh).

It amazes me that God is still so patient with us. We disappoint Him every day. We sin like there's no tomorrow. Hmm . . . no tomorrow. And then we believe that we are still capable of somehow beating the odds and surviving the end of the world?

To be honest, the whole prepping thing kind of interests me. My wife does stockpile some items that we tend use a lot, like toilet paper, Puffs, light bulbs, Multi-Grain Cheerios (hey, they're good!). We do have storage shelves downstairs. When my wife sees something on sale she buys lots of it. That's not prepping so much as it is smart shopping.

But then I think about God. What would He think about all this "prepping" stuff? Isn't it kind of like we're not trusting Him to provide for us? That's EXACTLY what it's like!

"11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’”

17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”

20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them." - Exodus 16:11-20

There is an important lesson to be learned from the Israelites and the desire to "store treasures up here on earth." We need to place our trust in God, not depend on ourselves for survival. When the end of the world comes I don't plan on being here. Neither should anyone else who follows Jesus.

We who call ourselves Christians have placed our faith in Jesus Christ. It is because of that faith, and the making Jesus Lord of our lives, that we will be saved. We are deserving of death for our sins but "it is by grace you have been saved, not by works." Place your faith and trust in Jesus. Then, when the end comes, we will stand, arms open wide, and embrace the coming of our King.

"Blessed be the one who comes in the name of the Lord." - Matthew 23:39

Read what Jesus said about the end of the world in Matthew 24