Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Feel free to take the poll at left -- poll closes in 4 days.

What with my middle daughter's 22nd birthday yesterday combined with our MEN'S CHAMPIONS small group meeting last night discussing the book, "Seven Secrets of Effective Fathers" ... well ... this blog was inevitable.

Looking back, now that two daughters are fully grown and out of the house - and the last one is approaching 18 years old -- I see all the mistakes I made as a dad. They are rather glaring to me now, though my daughters don't seem to notice, or if they do, they don't say they do. That is grace.

Inattention ...
Lack of time with them ...
Not listening the way I should have ...
Getting upset with small things far too many times ...
Not treating them as individuals ...
Inconsistency in my moods and behavior and words ...

Some days I made them mad by grilling the newest boyfriend. Other days I upset them when they would come down the stairs ready for church wearing some crazy get-up --- "Umm ... No ... I don't think so," I would say. On other occasions, I would frustrate them by saying something and then, last minute, unfairly changing my mind.

Those didn't happen EVERY day. There were plenty of days where I was the "World's Coolest Dad," but not enough days. And I'm probably like all of you dads out there -- I'd like to go back and replay the times I failed those girls and get it RIGHT this time.

I'd LIKE to tell them:

How much joy they have brought me ...

How proud I've been when I walked into a restaurant with all three of them and their mother, and look around the restaurant with my head held high and my non-verbal communication screaming to the room: "Yeah - all you losers - all four of these women belong to ME. That's right. Eat your hearts out" ...

I'd LIKE to tell them that. I'd LIKE to tell them:

How funny and charming it was when we were at the restaurant, just the two of us, and the waitress thought you were my DATE, even though you are 31 years younger than me! Either YOU looked VERY VERY mature or I looked AWESOME! And she actually offered you wine, even though you were only 13! I'll never forget that. Thank you, Olivia. (Disclaimer: We didn't order the wine.)

What horror to come home and find that you had gone out and gotten a motorcycle license all by yourself - and then come home and waved that thing in my face. But then, what fun it was to ride those Harleys together that one summer, my 'biker babe' daughter and me. Pulling up to various homes on our two motorcycles side-by-side was unforgettable and I'll treasure that always. You made me feel like I was 18 again. Thank you, Allison.

The dread and pride I felt walking you down the aisle that hot July day. The entire crowd was sweating from the heat. I was sweating for completely different reasons. You were (and are) stunningly beautiful. It was a moment etched eternally in my brain - and walking you down that incline and letting go of you at the arbor to pass you off to your husband-to-be was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, even though I was blissfully happy for you both. Thank you, Whitney.

And ... I'll never forget (nor will I let any of YOU forget) all three of you totalling the family vehicles - one at a time - when you were each 16 and 17. Priceless. Literally.

I'd LIKE to tell you all that.

Even with my personal failures - so many - I'm grateful that all three of our daughters have turned out far better than I can lay claim to having raised them. Again, that is grace.

In my Bible is a prized bookmark. It is not for sale at any cost, though it is a piece of construction paper, homemade, now turned up at the edges -- not for sale. It is one of several I have, but this one stands out. And at the risk of self-aggrandizement - which I'll try to keep to a bare minimum in this blog - here it is:

"My daddy: I love you so much, even when you don't think I do ... Today I thought, 'Wow! I am so grateful for my dad and how he loves me.' It really hit me that I should spend as much time with you as I can because before you know it, I'll be gone and out of the house. Dad, I'm so grateful for you. You are the best dad any one could ever ask for. I love you, Dad."

PS - I sure didn't do it alone. Thanks, Joelene.

Now ... with THAT ... what does ANYONE need money or big homes or possessions for. I am a rich man. And that is grace.

What's YOUR story?

Be blessed.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Go ahead and post a vote on the poll at left - only 5 days left.

TODAY is my middle daughter, Allison's, birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my love. Have a great day. I'll be calling you at 10:30 tonight. Hope you're not asleep already. That's the time you woke your mother and me up 22 years ago in order to be born.
(pic with Allison's fiance, Darren Lee)

Be blessed.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Feel free to take the poll at left. Available 6 more days.

Download of church today:

Jesus said: 'I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father except thru Me."

That's a pretty radical thing to say - and it's a pretty radical thing to embrace in 2008, because there is a definite mindset out there that says ALL the teachings and ALL the doctrines and ALL the churches and ALL the theologies and ALL the writings throughout ALL the religions of the world are just different paths up the same mountain that arrive at the same destination – they're just different options. And if they all get to the same ending, then what DIFFERENCE does it make which road you’re on? As long as you're sincere, that's what really counts.

Perfect. But then Jesus has to go and mess up that great theory by saying in Matthew 7: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

This is really TOUGH, because we would rather believe that the majority are ending up in heaven – but that’s not what Jesus taught here. And gradually, we’ve created our own system of right and wrong and WE’VE determined how we’re all going to get to heaven.

But so many of the other World paths - Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam - even Rhonda Byrne's "The Secret," promoted so heavily recently by Oprah Winfrey - are all exactly the OPPOSITE of Christianity.

Christianity acknowledges that at the end of the day – after we’ve pulled up our boot straps and rolled up our sleeves and tried our very hardest and we lay our heads on the pillow at night – and we are miles from the standard a holy, Almighty GOD has set – we are still sinful people who have fallen short. NO person can store up enough Karma, meditate enough or be good enough to DESERVE God’s forgiveness, love and mercy. Can’t happen.

So here’s the great heart of Christianity … GOD is the all-powerful, all-loving Creator of the world – who loved us so much He sent JESUS – His one and only Son – into the world to love us and find us and die on the cross in our place.

The other religions are all ‘do THIS and do THAT – earn favor – earn love – earn heaven.' To use a popular illustration, all OTHER religions are spelled “D – O.” That is, they are based on people DOING something – thru their struggling and striving – to somehow EARN the good favor of God … give to the poor, perform good deeds, chant the right words, follow some religious drills … ALL attempts to reach out to God.

But Christianity is spelled “D – O – N – E” because it’s based on what Jesus Christ has ALREADY accomplished for us on the cross. Because He is the perfect Son of God, He is qualified to offer Himself as payment for our wrongdoing. No leader of any other major religion even PRETENDS to be able to do that.

It is “DO” vs. “DONE.” And those TWO messages … the message of WORKING OFF your past wrongs / "DO" ... and God’s message of GRACE / "DONE" ... are fundamentally incompatible. God provides ONE and ONLY ONE path for us to follow in finding Him – and THAT is His Son, Jesus Christ – the Way, the Truth and the Life.

And be blessed.

Saturday, April 26, 2008



I'm just minutes out of the CHANGE THE WORLD PRAYER SEMINAR led by Dick Eastman of 'Every Home for Christ' ministries. (http://www.ehc.org/) Great time. I wish you could have been there. He gave us so much scripture and so many practical helps and inspiritation and encouragement. I wish you could have been there. I said that already.

Prayer can be intimidating. We know we're SUPPOSED to do it. I believe we really WANT to do it. But sometimes we find it ... difficult to fit in to our schedules - hard to concentrate on - boring - ineffective - sleep-inducing.

But Dick gave us a plan to spend an HOUR in prayer -- sound daunting? Not if you use this 5x12 plan. Pray on these 12 things for just 5 minutes each (you can do it!). 12 x 5 = 60 = one hour - VOILA!

8:00 - 8:05 PRAISE - Exalt God's nature and character
8:05 - 8:10 WAIT - Take time to quietly rest in God
8:10 - 8:15 CONFESS - Acknowledge your personal failures
8:15 - 8:20 SCRIPTURE PRAYING - Read and pray God's Word
8:20 - 8:25 WATCHING - Be alert to issues needing prayer
8:25 - 8:30 INTERCESSION - Pray for others and the nations
8:30 - 8:35 PETITION - Bring personal needs before God
8:35 - 8:40 THANSGIVING - Offer thanksgiving for specific blessings
8:40 - 8:45 SINGING - Sing Scripture, a hymn or chorus
8:45 - 8:50 MEDITATION - Probe God's Word or His ways
8:50 - 8:55 LISTEN - Seek guidance for your day
8:55 - 9:00 PRAISE - End as you began, praising God

There you have it. Try it.

And be blessed.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I was reading about THE KINGDOM today.

The Kingdom is bigger than any building, although most of us live our lives to build edifices of one kind or another. That seems kind of foolish for the church because Scripture says we're to live for the eternal, not the temporary.

Try reading Jesus' SERMON ON THE MOUNT in Matthew 5 really slowly. We've become kind of de-sensitized to that whole thing. We've READ it, some of us, many times -- but have we LIVED it? ARE we living it? What does it mean to live the Kingdom CORPORATELY - as the Church?

Jesus - John - Peter - Paul - they all said the same thing: "IMITATE ME." In other words, "Live it like I'm living it."

Look at the qualifications for pastor, elder, deacon, Christian leaders, etc ...
The majority of instruction deals more with intimacies like a person's character and integrity than with 'religious' elements like theology and education. I become convicted that I have under-prioritized how my education and theological training should influence me on an intimate level.

How many of us have been told - and in turn, told OTHERS - "When you believe the right things, you'll start living right?" Well - that's simply not true. Merely believing the right things does NOT insure Christ-like behavior. It doesn't.

We want to master the information; but the early church longed to master the LIFE. Here in the West, we have allowed ourselves to separate believing the truth from its impacting the way we live. But until our beliefs, our lifestyles, our character, and our behaviors come together, this thing called Christianity will never, ever work.

But we NEED it to work, don't we? The WORLD needs for it to work.

Be blessed.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Although some of you reading this from around the world may not identify closely with this particular blog, if you're living anywhere nearby, you WILL -- and it IS called "A DAY IN THE LIFE," so ...

Today was the funeral for Corporal Richard "Ricky" Nelson - 23 - who was killed on April 14 by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Wednesday night the wake was held at a local funeral home. I arrived before the thing was even supposed to begin and already the line was all the way outside, threatening to reach the parking lot and beyond, which it did eventually. The outpouring of attention and love to the family was a sight to see.

Today the funeral saw 1,200+ people in attendance. Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and many others came on motorcycles and lined the church drive with large American flags.

The Marine Corps was there in force. There is nothing more moving and memorable than the class the United States Marine Corps brings to a ceremony. To watch twenty U.S. Marines parade forward one-by-one and salute their fallen friend was a moment I will never forget. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) was in attendance. And from the video of Ricky being water baptized to the Christian Life School choir singing "Song for an Unsung Hero" to the family tributes to the message given by Ricky's own brother, God was given glory.

On the way to the Veterans Cemetery, forty motorcyclists with American flags led the way. According to local police, the car procession to the cemetery stretched 5.5 miles. With a Marine gun salute and the giving of a Purple Heart, the young Corporal Ricky was laid to rest.

I don’t know what freedom means to you. I don’t know how REAL it is to you. How precious it is. How easy it comes for us and yet how hard-fought it was for others. It’s a freedom that wasn’t free at all.

But there are really TWO kinds of freedoms. There is freedom won by patriots like United States Marine Corporal Richard J. Nelson.

Elmer Davis said: “This land shall remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”

John F. Kennedy said: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.”

And in the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln said: “But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here … We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Freedom. But there is ANOTHER kind of freedom – this one isn’t represented by Corporal Nelson, but by the life of plain-old RICKY – and it isn’t a freedom that HE fought for or won … it is the freedom that comes to us by having a faith in Jesus Christ. And it is also a freedom that wasn’t free.

And it is THIS freedom, paid for by Jesus’ death on a cross, that allows us to be forgiven and have the guarantee of eternal life.

John 8:32 – "You shall know the truth … and the truth shall make you free."

Galatians 5:1 – "Stand firm, because it is for freedom that Christ has set us free."

Ephesians 3:12 – "In Christ and thru Christ we may approach God with freedom and confidence."

There is this wonderful freedom in Jesus – who stands between US and the full weight and consequences of our destructive choices … who made a way for us to be fully FREE and forgiven of all charges. We don’t have to make excuses or plead our case for why we’re normally really good people. He already knows who we are. He has a rap sheet on us a mile long that could condemn us for life – but He offers another way. A way for us to come to Him and be forgiven. It is the way of freedom … a clearing of the record … a ‘get out of jail free’ card … a way that could take a lifetime to explain but only a moment to receive.

Here in the United States, we have the privilege of having BOTH kinds of freedom available to us. But it is that SECOND kind of freedom that separates the men from the boys - and it is that SECOND kind of freedom that is the difference between life and death.

You can be free.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I was just thinking how beautiful the weather has been these past few days. It seems we went straight from 35 degree weather every day to 70 degree weather every day. How great is that? I love it.

I wake up to birds chirping -- no jacket necessary -- put my car windows down -- etc.

Then - today - I ran across this article that talked about "How to keep your bunny cool?" Your BUNNY! I don't HAVE a bunny and even if I DID, I'm not sure it would cross my mind whether it was warm or not. But sure enough, there are helpful hints about how to keep him/her/it cool.

I know you're dying to hear what the hints are. Here goes:

A - Make sure he is out of the sun.
B - Make sure there is a shady space for him to rest.
C - Set up a circulating fan to blow on him.
D - Place a ceramic tile or marble square under him.
E - Put a couple of ice cubes in his water.
F - Mist his ears.
G - Put a frozen water bottle by him so he can lean against it to keep cool.
H - Feed him his fair share of veggies for hydration.
I - Be watchful if he is over 5 years old, overweight or incapacitated.

Now I don't know if you're like me at all in this, but these are the EXACT same nine things I like having done to ME when I'M hot. Exact same. Even F. So that's AMAZING!

By the way, should your rabbit suffer heat stroke, DO NOT - I repeat - DO NOT - submerge him in cold water. Don't do that to ME either if I suffer heat stroke.

I am now searching the internet for what to do when your hamster is bored. I thought I could get some good tips on that.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


This whole thing is kind of new to me - this whole BLOG thing. And I'm not running out of things to say or anything - trust me. But I was just wondering ---- if YOU were writing a blog, what would YOU write about?

Your daily life?
Current events?
Flora and fauna?
The price of gas?
God? (not the same as religion)
Social injustice?
Good grammar?

Come on. I really want to know. What subjects would you wax on? Tell me.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Today the subject in church was Forgiveness - 70 X 7 - from "THE PARABLE OF THE FORGIVEN SERVANT" in Matthew chapter 18.

We heard that there were three big objections to people forgiving:
1) "I can forgive, but I cannot forget."
2) "What do I do if the other person will not admit he/she was wrong?"
3) "Does forgiveness mean I have to let people walk all over me?"

Forgiveness. This is the last great difference between us and the world -- people who can easily forgive vs. those who don't care whether they forgive or not.

Because before you came to faith, having differences with people didn't bother you that much -- you could tear into somebody and not give a rip what they thought -- you could offend people left and right and sleep soundly that night. But when you're filled with Christ, relational chasms bother you. You think about them and they disrupt your routine until you deal with them via forgiveness.

It's a co-worker - it's a neighbor - it's a friend - it's a mother or father or child - it's a family member - but whoever it is, the bad feeling doesn't dissipate until you have expressed forgiveness. It is the way of the cross. You may as well get used to it. It's part of your walk now.

Think about how very much you've been forgiven by God. When you really start to wrap your brain around that, it will become much easier to forgive those who have offended you. Stack up YOUR offenses to God - all your wrong actions, wrong motives, wrong attitudes, wrong thoughts, wrong words -- ALL of them. Don't stop until you've listed every single one of them from the time you were born until now -- and then realize that God has forgiven them all. Every single one.

Then, go ahead and write down all the things people here have done to YOU that have been offensive and that you need to forgive. Compare the two lists. Which one is longer?

Don't answer that. I know the answer. Then how can we fail to forgive those who have hurt us when GOD has forgiven US for all our wrongdoings and offenses down throughout history. It just makes sense, doesn't it? Don't answer that. I know the answer.

"If you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins; your Heavenly Father will not forgive you." (Matt. 6)

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:13)

And be blessed.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Today was the second Saturday in a row that I spent the bulk of the day driving from used car place to used car place trying to find a vehicle for my youngest daughter, who is 17 years old. Last Saturday we searched down south in Illinois -- today we went north toward Milwaukee. We want to be wise about what we get her -- nothing too expensive because (well, you know) -- and nothing overly inexpensive because (well, you know). Still, what we're looking for is a whole lot closer to INexpensive than it is to EXpensive. So, we (I mean, I) have searched the internet and the newspaper ads and the local used car magazines to find what's out there - then we set the GPS and off we go.

And I'm finding that our daughter is VERY VERY picky. I have no clue how she comes by that characteristic. Something is wrong with everything. Here are some actual statements she has made over these two days of car hunting ...

"Is it supposed to make that noise?"

"What's that smell?"

"There's some rust on the bumper."

"Why is every car in this price range green or purple?"

"Where is the CD changer?"

"Can't we find a car that doesn't have any scratches?"


"Do you see that stain on the floor?"

"I'm pressing the pedal all the way down and this is as fast as it goes?"

"Where is the cigarette lighter?" (DAD: 'Why? Why would you care if there is a cigarette lighter -- you don't smoke, do you? I hope you're not smoking!' HER: 'No Dad.' [quiet sigh] 'I don't smoke.' DAD: 'OK then.')

It's been fun.

And I was just thinking - at the risk of over-spiritualizing here - that is really what we do with each other. A lot. We find these little things that are wrong with one another - things that rub us the wrong way. Sometimes we mentally (or even visually) circle the other person to make sure they are someone we would want to know or be close to -- or not.

Maybe it's a scratch - or a dent - or a missing piece. Maybe it's a wound that is still wide open. It's a scar that hasn't healed. It's a noise that rubs the wrong way.

And then we evaluate.

But what we fail to notice - usually - are OUR scratches - OUR dents - OUR missing pieces and wounds and scars. We've grown comfortable with them - we've gotten used to them, haven't we? And yet, other people overlook them in order to love US.

I know what's going to happen when we finally get that car for my daughter. It's GOING to have a scratch here - a dent there - something soiled over here - an imperfection over there. And she's going to grow to love that car - eventually. Stains and all. Over time, those things will become part of the history and character of the car for her. She'll get USED to them. And she'll end up LOVING that car. It will be hers. And when somebody starts to trash-talk about it, she'll actually be upset.

She'll say: "Hey! That's my CAR you're talking about." And that's right. That's right.

You finish the analogy. And be blessed.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Still reflecting on the tragedy of Cpl. Richard "Ricky" J. Nelson ... and one thing is for sure. Freedom? It isn't free.

I found a poem by Sue Ikerd I'd like to share with you today:

"I lost my life at Valley Forge my hand froze to my gun,
I was but still a lad, my life had just begun,
Because we chose to bravely fight and die for liberty,
Our great nation did emerge - Freedom isn’t free.

It was spring at Chancelorsville, I fought in a field stained red,
We rallied against the foe while around us lay the dead,
I lost my life that fateful day in 1863,
To right the wrong and unite our land - Freedom isn’t free.

Poppies grow in Flanders Field, their numbers rival the dead,
Each bloom denotes a life cut short this field is now their bed,
Men fought in this foreign land from homes across the sea,
They gave their lives for their beliefs - Freedom isn’t free.

The sun shines on fields at Normandy with crosses overgrown,
Gleaming white among the rows stands mine with the word "UNKNOWN,"
My name is lost, my face forgotten, I died for lives yet to be,
That you might live in this great land - Freedom isn’t free.

I fought in trenches cold and damp, in deserts hot and dry,
In jungles dense I thought of home, as I was about to die,
Our flag still waves above our land because of men like these,
We can’t forget their sacrifice - Freedom isn’t free.

For generations they’ve stepped forth, left home and family,
Some served on land, some in air and some served on the sea,
They pledged to preserve, protect and defend our sacred liberty,
So evil would fail and right prevail - Freedom isn’t free.

Thousands fought through the years so our country could survive,
To secure the blessings of liberty for those who are now alive,
You may march and protest you have the right to disagree,
But remember the blood that bought this right - Freedom isn’t free."

Be blessed.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I made an early unprinted and personal ‘rule’ that I would not base whole blogs on individuals. But I’m going to break that rule today.

Yesterday, the Department of Defense announced the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. After months and years of brave, yet ‘far away’ soldiers being killed in this conflict, it finally hit closer to home. Very close.

Killed in service were Cpl. Richard J. Nelson, 23 – of Kenosha, Wisconsin ---- and Lance Cpl. Dean D. Opicka, 29, of Waukesha, Wisconsin. Both Marines died April 14th while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. They were both assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was Cpl. Richard J. Nelson’s 2nd tour of duty.

We are personal friends of “Ricky” and the Nelson family and their sorrow and grief are deeply shared by us. Cpl. Richard Nelson is survived by his wife, Kristen. Their first wedding anniversary is this coming Monday.

How do you possibly explain it all? There is no way. Naturally, we cry from our souls: "But God, how could You let something of this magnitude happen?" And this page certainly won’t answer all of your questions – but it is normal to ask the “WHYS?” and “HOWS?” when such awful things occur.

Unlike us, God knows what will happen tomorrow, next week, next year, next decade. And those who know God will not escape difficult times. They won't. But there is a peace and a strength God's presence gives. In the Bible, Paul said: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."

I wish I could adequately describe to you the great FAITH of the Nelson family. Reality tells us we will experience problems in life. However, if we go through them while knowing God, as the Nelson family has and does, we can react to these problems with a different perspective and with a strength that is not our own. No situation, however weighty, has the capacity to be insurmountable to God and we are not left alone to deal with them.

Jesus told His followers: "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows." God will care for you as no one else does and in a way no one else can.

This planet is not a safe place. Any number of things might happen to us in this harsh environment called Earth. Yet, God is not at the mercy of people, but the other way around. We are at His mercy … fortunately. This is God who created the universe with its uncountable stars, simply by speaking the words, "Let there be light.” This is God who is unlimited in power and wisdom. Though tragedies seem impossible to rise above, we have an incredibly capable God who reminds us, "I am the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for Me?” And we draw comfort and assurance from that, even in our most severe pain, if our faith is planted in Him.

Our deepest love and condolences – and our very strongest, most sincere prayers for Kristen, Rick’s parents, brothers, sister and extended family.

All gave some; some gave all.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The word that has been on my lips more than any word of late is ... TRANSFORMATION. I believe transformation is what the church should be about today - in 2008. I believe our transformation is what GOD is about, so transformation is what WE should be about. There are plenty of things that are NOT involved in transformation - and so we have to figure out what is and what isn't a part of transformation.

People are tired today. That is nothing new really. Stress and weariness have been part of the American dream for decades -- work, play, social lives, kids, school, sports, appointments, errands, vacations, etc. Yeah, even vacations are work these days (get the flights, plan the trip, write out the budget, search the internet for all the fun things to do - then DRAG your family from sight to sight at bullet speed. "We're GOING to have fun, I tell you!!!") Our exercise time is labor, too. They call it WORKING OUT, don't they?

But a major difference between today and 30 years ago is that NOW, even the church is a major contributor to our weariness, if not in some cases, THE major contributor.

To quote one author, "People are weary of being sent off to complete assignments, memorize facts and passages, and engage in simplistic practices that do not draw them into God's presence ... " which is where genuine transformation can be found.

Am I battering the church? Of course not. I fully believe it is the HOPE OF THE WORLD for this age. I have given my life to it and am confident it is the vessel thru which God wants to use His people. But people want GOD - not activity. They want transformation, not one more thing to do. Though so much of our activity is well-intentioned, people are searching for something real, life-producing, energizing and transforming. This is breakthrough stuff.

It's time to get in touch with God to show us what we should do and what we should not do - what we can do as well as what we cannot do. Often, good activities serve to block us from encountering God in order to be transformed.

Do you want to be transformed to be more like Christ? So do I. Why are we waiting for someone to show us how? It's right in your Bible. Open it up today. Read it. Scour it. Have faith in it. Have fun with it. Believe it. Act on it. Live it. Do it ... do it NOW. And be transformed.

Our goal: To be found in him, not having a righteousness of our own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ -- I want to know Christ. It's in Philippians 3. That's genuine transformation.

Now ... go back and count how many times I said "transformation" in this blog. It is THAT important.

And be blessed.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Today, in church, we heard about prayer. So I thought I would simply furnish you with some of my favorite quotes about prayer here:

"Pray, and let God worry." (Martin Luther)

"Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life." (Jonathan Edwards)

"All prayers are answered if we are willing to admit that sometimes the answer is 'No.' (Unknown)

"Many pray as if God were a big aspirin pill; they only come when they hurt." (B. Graham Dienert)

"Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. (Phillip Brooks)

"Make it hard on God and easy on yourself." (Harald Bredeson)

Be blessed today.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I'm home from my trip to Colorado Springs and Every Home for Christ (www.ehc.org). I have to say that Dick Eastman, President of EHC has spectacular vision -- to put the Gospel in every single home on the planet. What an ingenious and amazing goal. Ingenious because it's a goal that they'll be working on until Jesus comes. Amazing because - well - it' s just amazing. EVERY HOME ON THE PLANET.

This past year, EHC reached 60+ million homes in 96 countries. That's 5 million homes per month - 1 million homes every single week of 2007. 38,000 new people found faith in Christ last year in Sudan thru EHC ... in one country, back in 1990, there were only four known believers in Jesus. Today, thanks to God working thru EHC, there were 41,000 decisions made to accept Christ in that same country just in 2007. In the Sudan, 38,000 new believers were recognized last year. The list goes on ... and on ... and on ... and on.

Find out more at http://www.ehc.org/
And be blessed.


It's just the craziest thing. I was just saying to someone the other day that PATIENCE was probably my weakest Fruit of the Spirit, but that I was working on it hard and felt that God was helping me with that.

Well ... on Wednesday I had a trip scheduled to Colorado Springs to visit Every Home for Christ (http://www.ehc.org/) and be part of a seminar they were having at their HQ (which is where I'm writing this from now).

As I was ready to leave home for the airport Wednesday a.m., I got a call saying my flight to Denver had been cancelled due to mechanical problems. I was going to fly into Denver, then drive down to Colorado Springs. So, I called the UNITED AIRLINES 800-line and amazingly, got a real person. They very nicely hooked me up with a flight directly to Colorado Springs at the same time my original flight to Denver had been scheduled. Even better. This was all going to work out GREAT.

When I got to the airport that morning, it was a madhouse - as bad as I've ever seen O'Hare. Come to find out, AMERICAN AIRLINES had cancelled several hundred flights that very day - something about all their planes having to make the grade with the airline industry. I took it all in stride - after all, I had a seat on a plane, right?

Well, when I got to the ticket check-in, it seemed they didn't have me on their flight list. I explained to them the situation and duly pounded my fist on the counter (nicely, of course), but to no avail. I had lost my supposed seat on the Colorado Springs flight and was now vying with all the AMERICAN AIRLINES passengers trying to get seats on other flights all day long.

Not to worry, said they, I would be put at the top of the stand-by list for the next flight to Denver, scheduled just 1.5 hours later. OK. But when I got to the gate, there were 45 other people also on stand-by. Still didn't bother me; after all, I was at the 'top of the stand-by list,' remember? But when the stand-by list flashed on the wall LCD, I found my name #17 out of 45. When I inquiried, I discovered it had something to do with preferred customers (not me), high ranking mileage customers (not me), VIPs (not me), people who don't pound their fists on airport counters (not me) and blonde-haired people (not me).

To make matters worse and to add insult to injury, they actually called 20 people out to stand in a magical circle -- people who, ostensibly, would be getting on the flight to Denver. I was in that group, lil' ol' excited me. But they only put FIFTEEN of those people on, assuring the rest of us that we would be rolled over to the next stand-by flight to Denver, scheduled for take off in "JUST TWO HOURS!"

So, I hung around the airport -- paid $6 to get online but never actually did because their wireless was way too slow -- read some -- dozed -- prayed -- watched people -- ate junk food -- felt my impatience growing by the second -- and went to the NEXT airline counter for the NEXT flight to Denver. When the passenger stand-by list popped up, I saw that I had moved from #17 to #38 - and now there were 71 people on stand-by total.

I didn't make that flight either. There was yet ANOTHER Denver flight just 40 minutes later, so I rushed to THAT airlines counter and found there were now 162 stand-by passengers and I had slipped to #78. DIDN'T THEY KNOW WHO I WAS!!!?????

There was ONE more flight that day to Denver - leaving 2 hours later yet. I opted OUT of that voluntarily, rather than show up and find myself #567 on a stand-by list of 2,336 - and with a better chance to win the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes than get on that next flight.

So I went BACK to the original UNITED AIRLINES ticket check-in desk to see if I could DEFINITELY be ticketed on the first flight out Thursday morning. After an hour of standing there, I got my ticket. So it was back home with me - 50 minute drive. I got home about 9:30 p.m. and was dead tired and defeated and VERY impatient with the whole day and flopped right in bed.

Yeah - we're not done yet. The first flight out Thursday took off at 6 a.m., so I was up before 3 a.m. to shower, get dressed and drive to O'HARE - park in Economy Lot Z - take the bus to the shuttle - and take the shuttle to the terminal. Sigh. I got stopped at security for the mysterious piece of metal that always seems to be imbedded somewhere in my body whenever I go thru those detectors, even though I'd already taken off anything and everything that even remotely resembled metal. After re-dressing, I made my way to the terminal, ticket firmly grasped in a white-knuckled hand - and steam beginning to rise from both ears.

I thought I'd get a little breakfast at the terminal McDonald's, since I had an hour to wait, so I got a #4 (you don't have to know what that is). The point is, when I sat down to bite into it, it was a #2. ARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

Then -- onto the plane. It was one of those planes with 2 seats - 3 seats - and 2 seats (7 seats across in each row). Of course, MY seat - all 6'5" of me - was situated in the CENTER of the 3 seat grouping. The large TV screen in front of us on the bulkhead, showing episodes of "THE OFFICE" and "30 ROCK" throughout the 2.5 hour flight, was duly obstructed by the tallest man I've ever seen sitting 2 rows directly in front of me. His whole bald head covered the entire screen, successfully blocking my view. The man ONE ROW ahead of me, put his seat in the full-recline position the moment we levelled off and LEFT it there - sound asleep - all the way till touchdown. The flight attendants didn't realize as they passed by those 42 times prepping for landing, that his seat was fully reclined. Last but not least, there were only two children on the entire flight - you know where they were sitting, don't you? Uh-hm. Directly BEHIND me. The parents didn't seem to notice or care that the little boy was un-rhythmically kicking the back of my seat the WHOLE FLIGHT - like water torture --- and the little girl had a delightful habit of crying out, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy," until MOMMY decided to pay attention to her.

When we touched down, mercifully, in Denver - the weather was 25 degrees and it was snowing. They got 4 inches here today. On April 10th.

"The Fruit of the Spirit is ... Love, Joy, Peace, PATIENCE ... "

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I led worship for twenty-five years. Every weekend. Sometimes several times on a weekend. It was "WHO I WAS." For the first 20 years, I led sitting behind a big grand piano. For the last 5 years of that run, I stood at a keyboard. Times change. Two years ago I gave all that up to be a co-lead pastor at our church with the claim that ... A) I wouldn't look back ... B) I wouldn't miss it ... C) I wouldn't direct the new guy leading worship from my front pew ... and D) I wouldn't stop playing the keyboard personally in my own private time.

A - check - I'm moving forward full-steam.
B - check - I don't really miss it.
C - check - I haven't been an armchair critic.
D - uncheck - I never play anymore.

I've just realized that I've stopped playing completely. I could say I don't have time or that I'm no longer interested in playing or a number of other excuses - but the truth is - I've been avoiding it. I don't know why exactly.

But the other day I just sat down and played for an hour. It just flowed out of me and it was really great. I've decided I'm going to do it more often.

Monday, April 7, 2008


I have decided I hate leaves. Well, maybe HATE is too strong a word, especially right after writing about LOVING your enemies on this blog yesterday. But ... leaves aren't really living -- at least not like you and I are breathing-living -- but still, maybe HATE is too strong. Despise is probably better. Yeah ... it's despise. I DESPISE leaves.

Joelene and I moved into a new house 4 months ago. It's on a one acre lot with lots of trees. This is the very first time we've ever lived on a lot where we couldn't put all our Fall yard leaves into one bathroom trash can. I spent several days late last Fall getting most of the mega-gazillion leaves out of my house gutters and raking them out of the landscaping bark and out of the ditch by the street and out of the garage every time the door went up -- and sweeping them into the street for the city to pick up.

I thought that was over. Now it's April and Spring (finally!) and I'm realizing that the OTHER mega-gazillion leaves I didn't get in the Fall are laughing at me now - 'missed me ... missed me ... missed me,' they're taunting. So now I have a 'date' with the leaves in my yard. In April. And I HATE that. Or rather, I DESPISE it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


We had a bully in Junior High School. I'm a little reluctant to reveal his name for fear that maybe he's doing volunteer work for the American Red Cross today - or on the verge of discovering the cure for cancer - or the next astronaut to do a space walk - or some other extremely noteworthy humanitarian thing. I'll just give you his initials. They were ... Skeeter Benedict - I mean, S.B. I'm not making that up. And S.B.'s official junior high duty was to terrorize as many of us as he could in one day.

So when Jesus says to "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES," I think back to those days and wonder HOW that would have been possible. If Skeeter wasn't 'accidentally' pouring milk on your lap during lunch, he was hiding your shorts at gym or banging the chalk-filled eraser on your head in class.
So -- LOVE HIM? I don't think so.

Still - it's THERE. "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES." I'm looking at the words right now. It really says that.

I'm figuring what God had in mind was that we should try to see others the way HE sees them -- as people who MATTER to Him, just as we do. We don't have to approve of everything they do; we just have to remember that God's repsonse to OUR rebellion wasn't to declare war against us as His enemy. Instead, He returned GOOD for EVIL so the path could be paved for us to get back on good terms with Him. And THAT'S the kind of love God wants us to have for those who have crossed US.

Jesus seems to have prayed for His tormentors right while they were driving spikes thru His hands and feet: "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing." If the cruelty of crucifixion by Jesus' enemies couldn't silence His prayers for them, what pride or prejudice that WE experience could justify the silencing of OUR love and prayers for them?

I wish I could go back now and do some of that over again with S.B. I don't know how it would turn out exactly, but I'd like to TRY. 'Life gathers wisdom,' as they say, and I can't go back to junior high again. All I can do is go forward and apply what I know now. I wish Skeeter well. Love you, man.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Somebody asked me the other day if I thought I was closer to a Pharisee or a Sadducee. I wasn't sure what they were getting at AT ALL - and I didn't ask. Frankly, I wasn't sure I knew the difference between the two. And I'm not convinced THEY knew the difference either. But when I got home, you can be sure I did a little research to find out which I WAS closer to. Or maybe more importantly, which I thought THEY thought I was closer to.

I knew that the two groups - Pharisees and Sadducees - were the two main religious parties in the New Testament that made Jesus' life difficult and eventually banded together to crucify Him.

Evidently, the Pharisees ADDED to the Scriptures all kinds of human laws which were passed down the line to future generations - and these 'add-ons' became as important as Scripture itself to them.

The Sadducees did the opposite. They took away whole sections of Scripture and basically said it was only the Law of Moses that should be observed.

So when Jesus came into the picture, He didn't fit at all. Neither religious group liked Him and both were supsicious of Him and hostile toward Him.

And it's not that different today really, is it? Like the Pharisees, WE'VE added to the Scriptures, haven't we? Added our own traditions and beliefs and twisted the Bible to make it say what we want it to. And like the Sadducees, WE'VE taken away many of the things that made the first-century church the first-century church and created our own ways to worship and live.

And so - to answer the original question - "Which am I more like - the Pharisee or the Sadducee?" I cannot truly say. All I know is that my DESIRE is to be like NEITHER -- but to be like JESUS.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


It's Friday - it's my day off - and I'm blogging. I have fallen leaves from Autumn '08 still in my house gutters (leftover all thru the winter, believe it or not) - I have dead trees out in my acre of woods that need to be gathered soon - I have something dripping from underneath one of my vehicles - I have to call my accountant about my not-yet-returned tax forms - I haven't worked out yet this morning (Friday is my 'for sure workout day') - and yet, I AM BLOGGING. What's up with that?

I'm thinking about making some chocolate milk for breakfast, something I love - the chocolatier the better - made by squeezing lots of thick Hershey's syrup into the milk, not with that powdery chocolate junk. Which prompts me to share some of my favorite things in this blog today:

Really chocolate milk (I already said that)


French Silk pie

Thick triple layer chocolate cake

Chocolate mousse

Dark chocolate bunny rabbits

Those little individual containers of chocolate pudding

(Anybody seeing a theme here?)

OK. There's more, but I really have to go workout now.

THE B - I - B - L - E

I was sitting here in my office early this morning and saw one of my old Bibles across the room lying on an end table. Rather than the leather binding facing me ... it was the pages that were turned my direction. I noticed something about that Bible I hadn't noticed before. Certain page edges were darker than others - like a lot of time had been spent on those particular pages -- finger oils - dirt ... AND ... certain pages were turned down - looked like they had been for a long time. Almost as if you plopped the Bible down on the floor, it would automatically open to certain sections.

That kind of intrigued me. So I got up, walked over and opened it up to those pages. Some looked almost like they'd been licked at the top 1,000 times. I sure don't remember ever doing that, but there were definitely some marks as if someone had tried to grip a page over and over in order to turn it, but for some reason, they just couldn't - or they kept on coming back there.

There were a lot of underlinings and highlightings on those pages. And as I read, it became clear to me that these were the areas I had struggled with most often - things God had been working on the inside of me about - and still is. I also saw that some of those same passages described things God had helped me conquer. That part felt very good.

By the way, in case you're curious, the pages in question were pgs. 506, 565 and 855 of my Bible. And my question to YOU is ... which pages in YOUR Bible are discolored?