Nov 262023

The Jesus I know cares about me.
The Jesus I know sees everything I go through.
The Jesus I know stands in the gap for me.
– He has my back.
– He leads in front.
– He laughs with me.
– He cries with me.
– He never leaves me.
– He understands me.
The Jesus I know, knows me.

 Posted by at 5:29 pm
Oct 162023

Marshall and me sailing Marshall and I went sailing this past weekend. It’s a recently new experience for me. Even though the wind was in our face, we managed to make it out of the little cove where we launched without too much trouble. Marshall’s skill at tacking and adjusting the sail got us out on wind power alone. Once in the main body of the lake, we were at times moving so fast we were making a wake in the water. I was amazed how fast we could go, even when keeping the bow of the boat pointed just a few degrees off from straight into the wind.

We sailed in the lake for hours, despite the big waves and gusty wind, always keeping the sail pointed into the wind. What nearly got us was coming back into the cove at the end of the day when the wind was at our backs. I thought “This will be easy compared to getting out of the cove.” I was wrong. With the wind at our back, one slight turn in the wrong direction could send the boom flying around with amazing force, suddenly pushing the boat in the opposite direction. It happened to us, and we nearly capsized. I had to lean way out on the other side of the boat to keep us from going over. At one point I could see the keel rising toward the surface. I leaned farther out, Marshall quickly adjusted the rudder, and the boat settled back down in the water as it should. It was exhilarating to say the least.

Now that it’s over, I realize there are really two lessons I learned from the experience.
1 ) Having an “almost” catastrophe can be very exciting and can be a teaching moment. I’m glad we had an “almost catastrophe.” I would NOT be glad if we had an actual catastrophe. I might still learn a lesson, but I would also be very cold and wet.
2) In life as well as sailing, having the wind at your back is not always a good thing. You can quickly become complacent. Then when you are not paying attention, something catastrophic can happen. Life, like sailing, is probably much more interesting, fruitful, and enjoyable when you have to show a little skill and finesse by dealing with headwinds now and then.

Just keep sailing, and be ready to quickly grab the tiller, turn the rudder, and lean the other way should you take a wrong turn.


Feb 112023

There once was a man who raised mice. He was a very special man, because he was very powerful and very wise. He knew all about the past, and he could even see five minutes into the future. What he could not do, was force the mice he had raised to respect and honor him. So, he decided to do an experiment.

He started by building a big table. It was very long and wide, and taller than the clouds, so that it was impossible to clearly see what was beyond the edges of the table. He placed a large cage with a remote controlled door at one end of the table then spread delicious cheese all over the table. As he gathered his mice and put them all in the cage at one end of the table, he already knew the result of the experiment. In five minutes, it would all be over, and he knew how it would end.

With the mice all in the cage, he moved to the other, far end of the table and sat in a chair beneath it. His lap was spread wide under the edge of the table, and was big enough to hold the world. As he sat there looking at his mice in the cage at the other end of the table, he grabbed the remote control for the cage door and thought about pushing the button. He knew what would happen if he did. Was it worth it? He knew it was, so he pushed the button.

Immediately, the mice ran out of the cage and began to go in every direction. He called them to himself. “Come here and I will take you home with me for a delicious dinner with all kinds of wonderful foods.” Some of the mice heard the man and came running toward him, falling off the table into his big soft lap. Others wandered around the table, fighting over the cheese and becoming so distracted they eventually fell off the side of the table, tumbling to their death far below.

In five minutes, the experiment was over. The man looked down in his lap at all the happy mice who had chosen to come to him. They were all looking up at him with great respect. “I knew all of you would come to me.” he said. “I knew it even before I pushed the button.” Then he gathered them up and carried them into his home where they feasted on unimaginable delights.

Because he knew what would happen before he pushed the button, some would say he caused some mice to die and some to live and share in his blessings. Others would say, the mice could make their own choice and so it was their decision to come to him. Both would be right. And the amazing thing is, that knowing what would happen, he decided to push the button.

Oct 182022

Timing is everything, or at least so I have heard.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s true, and sometimes I wonder what part God plays in the timing of our lives.

I remember during my college days, my roommate and I somehow found ourselves registering for the same class at the same time.  Given our different class position, schedules, and career goals, it almost never happened.  But this time, the stars aligned, and we found ourselves taking the same early morning class for one semester.  The class was called “Man’s Aesthetic Experience.”  It was a class designed to give us an appreciation for classical music, Greek sculptures, Danish paintings and such, but in truth, such a class scheduled for 7:30AM in the morning was perfectly designed to put students to sleep.  In fact, it did it very well.

That being the case, and Joey and I being the enterprising and adaptable students we were, we devised a plan. Most mornings, we would both go to class (attendance was part of the grade) but would take turns paying attention and taking notes.  So, one of us would stay awake, listen, and take notes while the other would put his head on the desk and sleep.  Or in Joey’s case, snore.  Later on, at a reasonable hour before a test, we would share notes.

It was a perfect plan, but it wasn’t long before Joey modified the plan and started pushing the limit a little bit.  Since at least a few absences were tolerated, why sleep with your head on the desk when you could remain comfy and warm in your own bed?  Thus, on multiple occasions when it was my turn to take notes and his turn to sleep, Joey would utter a groggy “Go on without me.”  Which I did.  Sometimes he would miss something important, like a quiz or a presentation, but for Joey, the extra sleep was worth the risk.

For me, it was a different story.  I’m not saying I didn’t trust Joey’s note taking, but for some reason, I couldn’t do much sleeping in class, and I almost never skipped a class.  Joey would encourage me to stay in bed some mornings, promising to go and take good notes for us both, but I never did . . . except once.

I remember the morning when we were maybe two-thirds through the semester and Joey got up to go to class.  It was his turn to take notes.  I woke feeling an undeniable urge to skip class, so I told Joey to go without me.  “I’m going to skip class and sleep in this morning,” I said.

Joey looked at me like some alien had taken over my body.  It was so uncharacteristic of me.  But I assured him I was still in my right mind and told him he should go on without me, which he did.  It was the one and only time I decided to sleep in and skip that class, which makes it even more amazing that ten minutes later, Joey came shuffling back to the room, threw down his books, and said, “Class was cancelled.”  I had unknowingly picked the perfect time to sleep in.  Maybe timing is everything.

Now as far as God is concerned, I wonder, did He cause class to be cancelled?  Did He prompt me to relax and sleep in?  Or was it just a crazy, very unlikely coincidence?  I can’t pretend to know anything about God’s class skipping strategies, but I do believe he is involved in the timing of our lives.

The Bible says there is a time for everything.  It says we should “wait on the Lord.”  It also says, “now is the time.”  I think we Christians often spout the “wait on the Lord” timing, but we are not so crazy about the “now is the time” moments.  God’s timing isn’t always about waiting.  Sometimes it’s about moving forward in life even though we would rather stay where we are.  Maybe we are comfortable.  Or maybe we are afraid of something in the future.  Or maybe we see something coming that we want to avoid.  But that stuff is all a part of God’s timing too.  

Think about Jesus.  He was the Messiah.  He said so.  He proved it.  But the Pharisees said, No, you are not.  We are still waiting for the Messiah.  Even so, there was a right time for him to go to Jerusalem to die.  Peter tried to postpone it.  He was working against God’s timing.  Jesus recognized that “timing rebellion” as the devil’s work and went on to Jerusalem despite the suffering in store for him there.  Now was the time, for the hard part.

In every life, there are good things that happen, and bad things that happen.  Or maybe I should say, there are fun things, and not so fun things.  There are happy things, and sad things.  But God’s timing applies for both.  If there is a best time for that good thing to happen, then there is also a best time for that “bad” thing to happen.  And a “bad” thing happening at the right time, can be a good thing.  That flat tire in my driveway may have kept me from a bad wreck on the interstate later.  The layoff now may be God’s push toward finding a better job.  The timing is part of the way in which God works all things for good.

But what about the really bad things?  Is there ever a good time to get cancer?  For my house to burn down?  For my child to die?  For me to die?  I can’t answer that.  What I can say, is that sooner or later, I must die.  And I don’t want it to be later if God wants it to be sooner.  Even if I could somehow postpone God’s timing on that, I would be terrified to do so.  What horrible things could I cause or do, maybe even unintentionally, in the days, months, or years I was on Earth when I should have been in Heaven.  If God had allowed Hitler to die from some disease at the age of six, those who loved the child would have thought it a horrible thing.  That he had an “untimely” death.  Would it be so?

I am not saying that everyone who dies young would have grown up to be a Hitler or Charles Manson, or that every house that burns down would have harbored a future gang of evil.   What I am saying, is that in every play, there is a perfect time to exit the stage.  In every game, there is a right time for the coach to pull his star player out.   There is that moment when the very best that could happen has happened.  When “goodness” is at it’s peak.  To wait longer, to refuse to move on, is to allow things to stagnate and rot.

The timing is part of the way in which God works all things for good, right?  I may not like it.  I may protest and scream “Why now?  Not yet!  I wasn’t ready.”  Or like Jesus, I may even fall on my knees in the garden and pray to skip it altogether.  But in the end, if the Kingdom of Heaven is my ultimate concern, I must accept it.   I must believe that a perfect God has perfect timing.

So, what if we screw up and miss God’s timing?  In that case I suppose we may miss some opportunities and bring some unnecessary hardships.  However, we can’t let that cause us to give up in despair.  For God, timing isn’t everything.  It’s just one thing out of everything in an everlasting, infinite universe over which He reigns supreme with absolute control.

May 292022

The book of Revelation promises blessings to those who read it out loud, so that is what I am doing.  It’s full of visions and imagery, scenes of countless multitudes gathered around a throne in eternal worship of God. Doesn’t that sound boring? Maybe when I get there, I’ll feel differently. I can imagine that. I can also imagine something else.  

Imagine I get to Heaven and after spending a few hundred years seeing the sites and meeting the saints, I decide I want to go exploring. I set out to explore the galaxy God has made. In an instant I zip to the edge of the Milky Way and visit the farthest planet circling the farthest star. I get there, step out on the farthest ledge, and look up. Guess what I see? My glorious Father God. From here I can still see Him in all his glory. I can still worship him with all the multitudes.  

I must be crazy. I thought I was leaving Heaven. I thought I was moving far, far away from the throngs worshiping God. How amazing it is that I can be so far away and yet still worship God in concert with all the rest of his children. I decide to leave the Milky Way and find the farthest galaxy I can find. I’m there in a blink, but He is already there when I get there. I look up, see my wonderful God, and in that distant and beautiful galaxy on the edge of the universe, I worship with my brothers and sisters.  

Here’s the problem.  I pictured a god sitting on a throne with crowds around, me standing in the back, stretching my neck and straining my eyes to see him way, way far away.  Peter, John, Paul, and the saints on the front rows, and me, way back in the cheap seats. God’s not like that.  He’s bigger. Just like the sun can be present and seen by millions and millions of people at the same time, so can God. Yes, I suppose we will all be able to worship God together no matter where we are. No matter where we go, no matter how far away we explore, even if we go to the vast edge of the universe, we can still look up and see God. Because the entire universe is His throne, and He’s big enough.

Apr 122022

Oh great God, please watch over me as I walk today’s path. I humbly ask that you take control of everything I encounter. If it be trials, hardships, or disappointments, use them to make me better; to make me more like You. If it be blessings, then help me to recognize them and rejoice in them with a grateful heart. Whichever comes my way or crosses my path, may I lay down in peace tonight, and be thankful.

Nov 262021
The blue sky view out the window

Friday, November 26, 2021

I’m sitting in the hospital with Tammy, the sound of the ventilator clicking away like a slow second hand on a clock.  It’s hounding me with Time’s relentless push through another painful day.  I stare out the window at the blue sky and ponder the reality of a day lost. What a lousy way to spend what looks to be a perfect day.  A day that could have been spent walking and holding hands under the blue sky, or talking with family, or enjoying a meal and a TV show.  Maybe popcorn and Hogan’s Heroes while we lay in bed and wind down the end of the day.

Instead, we are in the hospital.  I’m waiting, watching, praying and trying to muster faith.  She, hopefully, mercifully, is sleeping and won’t even remember these days.  But as soon as I thought of these days as wasted and lost for us, I heard a familiar voice inside my head.  God can give me back these days ten-fold or more.  I know it’s true. Maybe these days in the hospital are like seeds.  Days spent here will reap many days later.  For every day we spend here, perhaps we will get 100 more added to the number of our days. Wouldn’t that be just like God?  

The doctors, nurses, and hospital workers are all a part of this day too.  So who knows, maybe the intersection of our days spent in the hospital with their lives here may be something of eternal value.  Then it would certainly not be days wasted.  It would be days invested in order to reap eternal rewards.

Any day that is spent in the center of God’s will cannot be a day wasted.

Sep 092021
An inhabited spider web

The spiders have taken over. Last year, we told the exterminator not to kill the spider that had made a home just off our front porch. We liked to see the web and enjoy watching nature do its thing. Well, nature did its thing. A lot. This year we have a zillion garden spiders all around our house. And it’s fascinating.

If I am honest, I have to admit that just like most everyone else, the spiders scare me. They are small monsters hanging in a sticky web, ready to pounce. I suppose I could take a big stick and knock them into oblivion. Or spray them with some powerful bug spray and watch them shrivel and die. But I just can’t do that. I respect them too much.

A strong strand of spider web

When I see their web, I marvel at the design and wonder at the accomplishment. How did this spider get a single strong strand of fiber to stretch from the peak of my roof to one corner of his front porch pearch. Another strand stretches all the way to a single leaf of a green bean plant, growing in my front yard. As I picked the green beans a few days ago, I touched it, and was amazed at the strength I could feel in that tiny taught strand.

So, when I walked out the front door on my way to work this morning, I said hello to the spiders, and with a little fear and trepidation, quickly ducked around their webs and headed for the car. As I drove away, I contemplated the odd combination of fear, adoration, and wonder that these spiders inspired. It occured to me that it could be a small example of what it means to fear the Lord, which the Bible says, is the beginning of wisdom. And if the “fear of the Lord” is where wisdom starts, maybe respecting a spider is not a bad way to get started.

Proverbs 9:10

Aug 282020
A Beautiful Place to Walk

I’ve never really liked the story from the Bible about the two guys on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24) Something about it just didn’t seem right. These guys were disciples, Jesus comes along and walks with them, and they don’t even recognize him. It makes them sound clueless. Dumb. Like not sincere followers. If you read the story carefully though, you will notice it really wasn’t their fault. The Bible says that their eyes were kept from recognizing him. So was Jesus playing a joke on them?  That doesn’t sound right either. These are the reasons I never liked this story, until this morning. 

This morning, it was different. As I read through the story again, I gained a new perspective on the blessing Jesus shared with these guys. He wasn’t playing a joke on them.  He was blessing them. They were kept from seeing him as Jesus. But why? 

Imagine two walks, the one they had, and the one they would have had if they had recognized Jesus from the start. If they had recognized Jesus when they met him on the road, they would have been in awe. They would have worshipped him. They would have feared his power and praised his greatness. It would have been wonderful for sure, but it would not have been at all like the walk they had. What if Jesus wanted something different? 

Imagine the walk they had. Three guys met on the road and walked along together talking about their experiences. The new guy taught them about the scripture in a new way. They listened, they discussed, they questioned and contemplated together. No one felt on edge, on their guard, off balance or unworthy. They were just three guys walking and talking together as friends, discussing the recent events and the history of their faith.  Perhaps that is exactly what Jesus wanted.  

After all the events he had just been through, a quiet walk and talk without all the hype was the way Jesus chose to relate those events to his disciples.  He was Lord and Master choosing to relate to them as equals. As friends. And because he kept their eyes from seeing him in all his lordly glory, they experienced him as friend and confidant.

I wonder, could it be this very story that provides a hint as to why God doesn’t make himself more visible? Why does God not powerfully show himself to the world and prove he exists? Maybe, possibly, could it be that the unapproachable blinding holy light of his glory would keep us from seeing the close companionship of a loving friend and father?

Mar 242019

Two dogs are more trouble than one.  They fight, they vie for attention, they eat twice the food and make double the mess.  You must take two walks or take one walk with both hands holding tight to two leashes, which promptly get tangled and twisted.  It’s weird.  I now have two big dogs and double the trouble, but if you asked me if I was willing to give one away, I would say no. 

Attachment is a strange thing.  We can get attached to dogs, to people, to places and things.  We can get attached to habits and ideas and perhaps, even our miseries.  We get comfortable.  We get used to life a certain way and we fear any changes because we prefer what we know to the unknown.  Maybe I won’t like that new house.  What if the new job is even more miserable than the one I have?  It’s the opposite of the “grass is always greener” syndrome.  It’s the “what if the other grass is even more weedy” syndrome. 

There are some people that are always looking for a change because they think it will make life better.  There are other people that are always trying to keep things the same, because they are afraid the change might make things worse.  I doubt that either extreme is good.  I probably lean toward the latter rather than the former.  The right attitude is probably somewhere in the middle.  Unfortunately, moving to the middle requires either more, or less change, depending on which side you are on.  And for either of the extremes, that’s a difficult move.