Avoiding Disaster

Flight camp was a week of evaluations of students wanting to become a part of the aviation training at Moody Bible Institute. I was selected to participate in that week of training and evaluation.

Training was intense . . . We were expected to absorb a lot of material and then act on what we learned. Part of the evaluation every day involved an hour of flight.

Mid way through the week, during my flight time, my instructor reached behind my seat and pulled out a hood . . . a plastic shield to restrict my field of vision. I was asked to put it on so I couldn’t see outside of the plane . . . It was time for me to fly using only the instruments before me.

There is an instrument called an attitude indicator. The two main parts of that instrument are a straight line that represents the horizon and a small stick figured airplane which represents the airplane. The relationship of those two items with each other gives an accurate picture of what the plane is doing. If the 2 wings of the small airplane line up, covering the horizon line, the actual plane is flying straight and level. When the wings are parallel to, but above the horizon line, the plane is flying straight but is climbing . . . If below the horizon, the plane is descending.  If the right wing is tipped down from the horizon, the plane is banked and turning to the right, etc.

On this particular flight, after flying under the hood straight and level for a short time, my instructor told me to turn 90 degrees to the right . . . That was easy enough . . . My turn should look like a right-hand turn, in my car, at a street corner.  I began to act on what I learned during my past instructional flight . . . If I remembered correctly, I was to bank the plane 30 degrees until I got close to a 90 degree turn and then roll back to straight and level flight, ending the turn. I was pretty proud when I got into the turn . . . I nailed it . . . a 30-degree bank while keeping my altitude the same . . . Yes! . . . The nose of my little artificial plane was lined up right on the artificial horizon line and the wings were pegged at a 30-degree bank.  All I had to do was watch the compass and make sure I rolled out to complete the 90-degree turn.  I was gleaming with pride!

Then I heard these words from my instructor, “You had better turn to your other right, we’re going to hit a mountain.” My problem was, I heard the instructions he gave me, but I really didn’t listen to what he said. Because I didn’t do what I was told, hearing didn’t do me any good. I was quick to listen and obeyed when I heard we were going to hit a mountain.

If that had been a real situation and I was flying in the clouds without an instructor, the consequences of turning left instead of right would have meant death. Hearing without obedience meant that I really didn’t listened to what was said.

Over and over, Luke 8 has something critical to say about “hearing.” If hearing God is not followed by doing, then the hearing is worthless. Just like flying my plane, If I say yes to Jesus but don’t turn right, the result is death . . . eternal death. Obedience indicates that I have really trusted Jesus. Only a trust in Him, that demonstrates obedience to Him, turns me from death to life.

It’s interesting to note that ignorance and disobedience both result in death . . . the difference is, until we hit the mountain of death, there is always time for the ignorant to hear the truth, listen and correct their error . . . the disobedient, thinking they are right, are flying with a false hope. Their confidence will not change the fact that impact of death will bring an eternal death of separation from God the Creator.

It’s so easy to say “yes” to Jesus and still fly in the wrong direction. Lord help me to be quick to show love to others . . . Help me to care enough to tell people they’re flying toward a mountain if they don’t listen to Your voice. . .

Hear . . . Listen . . . Obey indicates that I’ve really heard in a way that will fly me to safety.

Luke 8:4 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed . . .8 . . . some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “HE WHO HAS EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR.” . . . ,15 As for that (seed) in the good soil, they are those who, HEARING THE WORD, HOLD IT FAST in an honest and good heart, and BEAR FRUIT with patience.

16 “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar . . . 18 Take care then HOW YOU HEAR . . .,

19 Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20 And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” 21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are THOSE WHO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD AND DO IT.”  (biblegateway.com. ESV)

More than just a BELIEVER in God, I need to be a FOLLOWER of Jesus!


What a Plan!

I went to see a financial planner the other day then last night another financial planner called me. I’m not the perfect person to talk with when someone is trying to sell me something . . . I’m too much of a skeptic.

As the guy did his job over the phone, he tried to act interested in me and my endeavors . . . asking about my Christmas and my last trip to the Island and on and on. The concerns in his voice just made me roll my eyes more . . . Sorry, I wasn’t buying the manufactured interest he tried to show . . . But I know it’s part of his job.

Oh and then there’s insurance . . . I hate buying insurance! I’m being asked to place a bet against myself. “I bet $600 this month, that I get in an accident in my car. Here . . . here’s my money put it all on accident.

Worse yet, tire insurance . . . really? “We can insure your tires so that if you destroy them we will replace them for free.” Let’s see, for “only” (I love that word) $6 a tire I can get a free tire if it blows. Hmm 4 tires, which would be $24. Now in Michigan, the probability of hitting a pothole and blowing a tire is probably greater than in most states but the chances of blowing more than one are pretty small. The tires already come with free road hazard protection but that’s prorated. So let me think through the insurance.

If I blow a $75 noninsured tire (Prices when I got the offer years ago) halfway through it’s life, It will be replaced for free less its depreciation . . . So that would be $37.50 I would need to pay . . . But if I had a $6 policy it would be free. Oh, but wait a minute, I had to get 4 tires insured because I couldn’t guess which one would blow so that’s $24 dollars I paid. Factoring that cost in, I need to reduce the amount of my savings to $37.50 – $24 or $13.50. Once the tire is replaced, unlike other insurances, the new tire has to be insured at $6. In the end, that means if I for sure spend $24 to insure my tires, I might save $7.50 . . . Oh I forgot, added on to the price of the “free, new tire” is the price of mounting and balancing at $6.50 for a grand total savings of $1 . . . but only if I have bad luck . . . or is that good luck? What a deal.

Back to financial planners . . . The thing I always wonder about financial planners is, “If they’re so good at what they do, why are they still working rather than just planning their own money to the wealth they claim to be able to create?”

The reality is, even though I am a skeptic, I like security . . . It makes me feel comfortable. But is that what God has called me to? Or am I buying into the world’s philosophy? I guess I should do the wise thing like the disciples did. Hmm . . . The wise thing might not be the wise thing. Insuring a safe, protected life as I live my life here, may not be what Christ is asking of me. His focus for me is to consider eternity before my earthly comforts. As Jesus gave instructions to the disciples, He said go . . . go with nothing. Their security was not a policy, but rather faith in their Creator.

Lord help me to measure things by your priorities rather than the world’s. That’s hard to do.  But you are my insurance policy . . . That policy was bought and paid for, in full, with your blood.  Unlike other policies, its value is not diminished with frivolous up-charges.  Thank You for investing in me!

Luke 9:1 And he (Jesus) called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3 And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.

4 And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5 And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.  (biblegateway.com, ESV)

More than just a BELIEVER in God, I need to be a FOLLOWER of Jesus!



Growing up, we seldom had a brand-new car. I can only remember one, and it was an ugly lime green with paisley upholstery. The reason for the bad taste in the vehicle’s look was, my dad went into a dealer and said, “I want a car that you have had on the lot for a long time . . . A car that’s costing you money to keep”. And that’s what came out. But he got a bargain.

In searching for bargains in future car purchases, my dad concluded that it would be a good idea to buy used Cadillacs, thinking that Cadillac owners took good care of their cars. So, the next used cars we owned were Cadillacs.

My dad kept cars until they were ready to die. When one Cadillac he owned was approaching the terminal stage, he asked if we wanted the car for free. Excited to inherit a free car, I said, “I’ll take it!”. It wasn’t in great shape . . . in fact it was stolen once and later found under a streetlight, unharmed. My guess is, the thieves realized that the risk was not worth the reward and left the car. At any rate, I was excited to have a “New to us” vehicle.

My excitement was short lived. I worked at a church. I pulled into the lot in my “free Cadillac” on Sunday, and parked. Almost immediately someone said, “Wow, a Cadillac.” When I heard those words, it was as though I pulled in with a brand-new car. If my tongue wasn’t pushing out on the side of my cheek for them to see, in my mind, my tongue was there. Then came the words, “Hmm, we must be paying you too much.” From that day on, I was affected by what was said. My joy was tempered by what I thought others were thinking . . . or worse yet, what others might be saying about me. My perception of what others thought of me, affected me.

With Christmas approaching, there will be a number of times when I will consider the events around the birth of Christ. Because the story is so familiar, I often just rush through the events with little thought as to what was really happening.

Mary must have been elated when she heard the news from the angel that she was to be the mother of Jesus. I’m sure that there were times when she probably thought, “How could it be that out of all of the people, in all of history, I would be chosen to be the mother of Jesus, God’s Son?” I wonder how long it was before the “Cadillac syndrome” hit?

What would Joseph say? He knew he wasn’t the father . . . Would I have believed the story that Mary was telling? I mean really?

Things maybe got a little bit better when it was revealed to Joseph that Mary’s story was true. But, the news Joseph got really only sent the talk out into the streets. People must have concluded that Joseph and Mary were not the pure individuals that they had portrayed. I’m sure people talk. Even if they didn’t, I’m sure that when Mary walked in public, her thoughts must have gone to, “What are people thinking . . . What are people saying?”.

As I thought deeper about the very beginning process of Christ coming into our world, I realized that there were so many things that I could learn from those events.

For Mary to be chosen as the mother of Jesus, I would assume that she was someone who strove to honor God in her life. Even the words, “Greetings oh favored one” when the angel met her with the announcement alludes to that. Mary even said just the right thing in response to her overwhelming news: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” It seems like she did everything right and yet the angel did not reward her by saying “Because you have a godly attitude, I’m going to make sure this is going to be easy for you”.

God could have sent an angel to Joseph at the same time as Mary . . . but He didn’t. Why? It would have been easier on both of them . . . Or God could have had them hear the news when they were together. That would have been even easier! Instead, there was a delay . . . Joseph was left distraught for a time and I’m, sure that at some point, Mary must have been worried about Joseph’s reaction when she gave him the news.

There are so may things I could write regarding the difficulties that Mary faced as she carried Jesus. One conclusion I have come to is: Even when Mary was in the center of God’s plan, her life was not easy. She was talked about; she was misunderstood and later she found herself in less than optimal conditions. If that was the case for Mary, I should expect no different.

Lord help me to be governed by your leading rather than how I believe others may perceive me. I need to remember that You alone are the one I need to answer to. My response should echo Mary’s: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your Word.”

Like with my goofy old Cadillac, there will always be those who will talk. I can’t control their words. I mustn’t allow my mind . . . and then my actions . . . to be governed by the thoughts and talk of others. God, You never said that following You would be easy . . . Not even for Mary.

John 1:26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God . . . 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph. . . . And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And (the angel) . . . said (to Mary), “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. . .”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. . . 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

More than just a believer in God, I need to be a follower of Jesus!


Ahh, Peace

When I take trips to Manitoulin Island, during the summer, I generally make reservations on the ferry from Tobermory. For my reservations to be valid, I must arrive at the port one hour prior to sailing.

Because of that requirement, I am never real comfortable the whole trip, until I arrive by the required time.

When I pull up to the ferry check-in booth, I’m asked for my name. The attendant looks down at his roster, finds my name and checks it off . . . Only then can I move to the parking lot for loading. With that, I sigh with relief and begin to relax. The only thing for me to do after that: wait to be loaded on the boat, when the time comes. My transportation is secure. It’s amazing how quickly peace replaces my anxiety at check in.  My hour wait is often spent peacefully laying back on a grassy hill, enjoying the sun, as I look forward to the moment when I see the ship appear from behind an island and turns toward port.   

Peace . . . That’s the word that jumped out at me as I read from Luke 2. It showed up 2 times. The first as the angels praised God, saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE among those with whom he is pleased.”  And then again, a few verses down when Simeon, longing for his arrival, saw Jesus.  Simeon took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in PEACE, according to Your word.”

When Simeon saw Jesus, I picture him closing his eyes, with a soft exhaling sigh, almost imperceivably uttering, “ahhh”, expressing his long anticipated relief at he sight of Jesus . . . “Ahhh”, Peace . . . a peace that was extended to the world, and became a reality for those who believe.

Rather than an uncertain peace . . . it wasn’t based upon the hope of our on-time arrival . . . this peace was dependent solely on the arrival of Jesus. Jesus showed up at that booth, for all creation. He met the requirement for all those who would believe, allowing them to enter into His Kingdom based on His arrival.

Simeon’s response was personal. His quiet sigh was actually the shout of an old man, “He’s here! He’s here! Now I can get on the boat and to the Island . . . I want to get off of this loading dock and on the boat. I’ve waited a long time to wave goodbye to this world and hello to my eternal home . . . Enough already! ‘Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;’” How rich a perspective!

I can have that same perspective on life. No matter how good life may seem at times, it’s nothing compared to what is to come.

I think I have it all wrong when I bid believers farewell when they depart from this life. Rather than uttering the words “rest in peace” to them, I’m the one that is to rest in peace . . . I have no worries as I’m waiting for the adventure that is to come. Jesus has swallowed up the anxiety that death brings to others in the world . . . He has arrived . . . on time . . . in my place.

Lord, help me to display an uncommon peace in a world filled with anxiety. Help me to be prepared with an answer for those who have no hope!

Luke 2: 8 And in the same region there were shepherds . . . 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord . . . ” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 . . . the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem . . . 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart . . .

21 . . . he was called Jesus, . . .

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord . . .” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 . . . the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he (Simeon) took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”  (biblegateway.com, ESV)

More than just a believer in God, I need to be a follower of Jesus!



It was 2:30 PM Christmas day and it was time to rest.

The day before we went to church, came home, packed the car and went over to my mother-in-law’s house. We were going there to celebrate Christmas with my wife’s family. It had begun to snow before we left, so the ride over was a bit dicey. On the way I got some news that I had no control over, but in spite of that, it became a worry for me. For some reason, I let those kinds of interruptions overwhelm me.

Dinner was all prepared for us when we got to our destination . . . That year, I managed to not overeat. I think part of the reason for that was, I was consumed with the news I was dealing with, at the same time I tried to consume the food. Too much consuming going on! We stayed through the evening and left for home with a snowier than expected ride.  That night, when we got home, we began to get things ready for Christmas morning’s activities . . . Brunch with my side of the family, at our house.

When we got up on Christmas, we began the process of cooking the food for brunch . . . Let’s see, bacon, sausage, pancakes . . . Oops, shovel the snow . . . French toast, waffles, eggs, cheesy potatoes and more. The food was great! I’m always amazed at one thing though: After all of the time spent in preparation . . . The eating can be over in just moments.  Following brunch, we talked a bit about the real reason for celebrating Christmas . . . And then it was time to open the gifts.

After a delightful time, things drew to a close. When everyone left, we began to clean up. We did the dishes, took down the table and broke down the boxes . . . The my wife left to be with her mother who needed 24/7 care at her home. . . I find myself at home . . . alone . . . And wow, was I ever tired.

As I thought of how hectic the events of the last couple of days were . . . and how warn out I was, I was suddenly struck by what it must have been like for Joseph during that first Christmas. My hectic couldn’t’t compare.

Joseph didn’t find himself on the way to a nicely prepared meal, in a comfortable home. In fact, Joseph had some real worries . . . He had to find a place for his wife . . . just to sleep. Traveling for days, with Mary on the verge of delivering a baby, couldn’t have been easy. Talk about a couple of tiring, stressful days. I can’t help but think that Joseph was pretty frustrated.   Spent, I’m sure he was ready to close his eyes and forget about the burden that was his. But that was not a luxury he had.

Why didn’t God make things a bit easier for Joseph? After all, it was God who was writing the story. With all of the people traveling, it would have been just as miraculous for Joseph to find room in an inn . . . but if Mary and Joseph found themselves sleeping in a nice cozy bed, what reputable innkeeper would let shepherds come in to see a baby?

Stopping to pause a bit and consider that first Christmas, I realized that my level of frustration and comfort, though important to God, takes a backseat to His plan . . . His desire to reach people of His choosing. Come to think of it, I’m glad that, like in Joseph and Mary’s case, the comfort of people isn’t God’s priority . . . For I too was a stinky old shepherd when Christ found me, and in my condition, I was still given a personal invitation to meet Christ.

Lord, I need to be more concerned about reaching people for you than I am about my things, or even my own comfort.  Your priority needs to be my priority.

Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered . . . 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord . . .

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  (biblegateway.com, ESV)

More than just a believer in God, I need to be a follower of Jesus!


His Way

When I go on trips to Manitoulin Island in Canada, it’s always great to have company.

For one trip, my potential company found that their passport was expired. I really want him to go, so I scoured the Internet to see if there was a way he would be able to cross the border. Over and over, I that you must be able to prove citizenship. Several sites said you must have a passport or one of several other documents. I found that you can get into Canada without a passport, but the US is a little stricter. It appears that there might be some other possibilities that will get the job done.

The bottom line is, it’s up to the US government and the Canadian government to determine requirements for entry. The boarder agent ultimately acts on the laws established. I read enough to take a chance and make the trip to the Soo with my passenger. The worst thing that could have happen is, we could have been turned away at the border and would have to try again after a passport was acquired. If we did get into Canada . . . then coming back to the US . . . well, he might just have to stay there. Oh well . . . I could get home.

Looking at that scenario, there was not much of a downside if we made the trip and were denied entry . . . However, that is not the case with regards to entrance into the eternal Kingdom of God. There is no second chance for entry. It’s critical that I get it right by the time I leave this earth. I’m always amazed when I hear people say, “Well, I think I will get to heaven if . . . “ and then, they fill in the blank. Just like a border crossing, it really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. No one has the authority to make the rules but God.

Even though I believe God makes the rules, I sometimes try to fudge His requirements. If I have a friend or a family member who’s not living for Jesus but that person, at one time, has said “the prayer”, my tendency is to bend the standard a bit. I want them to make it, so I make excuses for them. “They’re backslidden.”

While the Bible says that entrance into God’s kingdom is completely based on the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as payment for sins, it also says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Proof of trusting in the payment of Jesus for my sin is demonstrated by the way I live my life. I don’t ever recall reading from the Bible the words, “Did you pray and invite Jesus into your life?” Instead, “Deny yourself and follow me.” “Sell all you have and follow me.” Etc.

In light of that, the most unloving thing I can do for people I come in contact with is, assure them that their entrance into the Kingdom is secure if their life isn’t consistent with God’s Word.

Well, I got word that my passenger was going to go to Canada with me. Yes! We blasted off with our fingers crossed. We hoped that we would make it.  I don’t want to take that same risk with others when it comes to eternity. That is not a border that I want anyone to approach with crossed fingers.

Lord, help me to tell people the truth rather than what they want to hear or even what I want to believe of their destiny. Help me echo Your Word accurately, understanding that You set the rules.

Luke 9: 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (biblegateway.com, ESV)

More than just a BELIEVER in God, I need to be a FOLLOWER of Jesus!


What is My Life Shouting?

I love to tell of the ventures that I’ve taken to Manitoulin Island.

Often, when I come home after a trip to the north, I tell those I meet, all about my time on the Island.  I don’t have to embellish the stories; they’re spectacular just as they happened.  Some of the things that I’ve seen and done on the Island are beyond description.  There are several times that I’ve said, “I wish so and so was here, they would love this!”

One such adventure took place in the middle of winter . . . I’m not a cold weather enthusiast, but I have learned to dress for the weather when I am up in Canada.  I am so glad that I have not allowed contentedness to rob me of the spectacular.  When I’m led out onto snow covered trails in the wilderness with my friend, words and even pictures fall so short of any description of all that our Creator God has laid me amid. I return with stories that can rival any National Geographic story.

When I return back to the states, even my feeble description of things I have seen and done cause others to say, “Wow I would love to experience that!”  On a number of occasions, I have talked to my friend on the Island, asking permission to bring along some who have not been on the great white north adventure.  My experience has sparked an interest . . . sometimes a longing in others.  I love when I can share my friend and the adventures with others.  Sometimes I voice my only regret . . .   “I really wish . . . so and so was here too.”

When I read Luke 7, my great white north adventure caused me to see the Centurion’s encounter with Christ in a new way.  The Centurion was intrigued by what He heard.  The Bible says, When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders”.  That meant that there were people talking about Jesus . . . And the things they were talking about were so spectacular that others sat up and took notice.  The Centurion said I want that!

The thing that jumped out at me was the way the servants of the Centurion responded . . . they went to Jesus . . . “And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He (the Centurion) is worthy to have you do this for him . . .”  Jesus contacted Him . . . taking the centurion on an unexpected adventure.

After reading that I began to ask myself questions.  Like those following Christ as read of in Luke, does my report of the adventure I am on with Jesus provoke others to seek Him?  The Centurion was exposed to stories that caused him to run after Jesus.  Then the servants plead on behalf of the Centurion . . . The question I have to ask myself is, to what degree do I run to Christ and plead for others to experience what I have experienced?

My winter adventures on the Island have been spectacular!  How much more spectacular is the adventure I am on with the very one who created and upholds every winter adventure I have ever been on!  Unlike a winter adventure, my adventure with Jesus will not melt away.

Lord, I am pleading with You to help me SHOUT of my life adventure with You in a way that will draw others to You.  My heart’s desire is for “So and so” to be on this adventure with me!  Please make that a reality!  No Centurion is beyond faith.

Luke 7:1  After he (Jesus) had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” 

And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well. (bibblegateway.com, ESV)

More than just a BELIEVER in God, I need to be a FOLLOWER of Jesus!


Genuine Trust

One of the illustrations I’ve used with young people over the years involves a rat trap.

I love setting the trap and showing groups how powerful their snap is. Once set, I trigger the trap using a pencil. The violent force of the trap always snaps the pencil. The power put into motion by the spring is pretty impressive.

After that preview, I put a 5-dollar bill in the bate trigger. I then reset the trap. Holding the trap up, I make an offer to the group . . . “Whoever is willing to come up and take the $5.00 from the trap can keep the money.” Some stand up right away but draw back as they get closer to the trap. To raise their concerns, I make sure that they’re able to see the broken pencil.

When I sense their reluctance, I assure them that they can trust me . . . they can reach in and take the money without getting hurt. With hesitancy evident in the eyes of most, I continue to assure them that they can trust me. After quite some time of reassurance, some will simply give up and sit down . . . But there are a few who are eventually persuaded that they can trust me.  With that, they go for it . . . When they do . . . as soon as they touch the $5 bill . . . TWANG! The wire attached to the “bate” switch, holding the business part of the trap loaded, pops. But there’s no violent snap.

Unknown to everyone, I switched the original trap to a trap preloaded with the $5.00 bill. I disabled the spring in he trap they’re reaching into. The “twang” is just the single hold down wire letting loose from a little tension I loaded into it, to give them a scare.

“Trust me”.  The words are the same for everyone who hears . . . there are a lot who raise their hand and say, “Yes, we trust you” . . . but there are only a handful that really do trust me. They’re the ones that reach in, to get the money. Their action demonstrates their trust. Those who said the words but just sat . . . put their lack of trust on display.

The question that I need to deal with is, “How willing am I to trust the Lord when I have the potential of being hurt? It’s only when I reach for the $5.00 bill in the traps of life, that I really show my trust for God . . . If I don’t reach . . . then whatever I have, no matter what it is, really isn’t faith. My words are just words that lead to a big empty plate.

Thinking through this . . . Until I am willing to obey and trust Christ with things that I really, really want to hold on to, my words mean nothing. It’s easy to obey when there’s no risk involved . . . so is that really even obedience?

If my life doesn’t shout “God”, through my obedience, then like a house built on sand, the security that I think I have in God, is only an illusion.

Lord, I pray for strength to obey You . . . My choices indicate what my house is really built on. You are the only foundation that will stand . . . Every day you shout, “Trust me! Build here!”  Am I?  Will I?

Luke 6: 46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.

And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”  (biblegateway.com, ESV)

More than just a BELIEVER in God, I need to be a FOLLOWER of Jesus!


Life Is Rich!

As I read Luke 6:38 I was immediately taken back to my college days . . . room 316, Culbertson Hall at Moody Bible Institute as I listened to a friend’s album of the Imperials.

The song was “Bread Upon the Water” . . . I can actually picture myself singing along with the album, “Press down, shaken together, soon it’s going to back to you on every wave.”  As soon as I read verse 38, I opened a tab on my computer and went searching.  It took a couple of tries because I wanted the actual album version of the song.  I played it and sang along with it . . . I even got a banana to use as a microphone (No I didn’t really do that). At any rate, that was a great moment for me.  It caused me to quickly think back through my life and see the reality of that song as it has played out in my life. I truly have been rich! 

It’s interesting how quickly I want to compare myself with others . . . what do they have that I don’t or what can they do that I can’t?  But I guess that’s the competitive nature that is a part of me and it seems to be the standard for society.  I want to score a ten . . . or at least a 9.5 if another has scored a 9. 0.   The problem is, “Compared to others” should not be a part of my vocabulary.

As I get older, I learn more and more that “things” really don’t matter. In fact, there are a lot of things I do that really don’t matter. As have quickly thought back through my life, my thoughts were about God’s faithfulness to me . . . even though I’ve fallen short!  What I thought about were people and my relationship with them, not about the games I’ve won against them, I thought about different ones that I have watched blossom in the Lord . . . I love when an online post of someone from the past makes me smile, because they’re living for the Lord.  I thought about the richness I have, because of my family.  God blessed me with a great . . .no, the best wife ever . . . and a priceless family.  I am rich!

That being said, all of the times I’ve sung along with the Imperials, I don’t know if I ever stopped to picture what those words from the Bible really looked like. “Give, and it will be given to you. (How will it be given? In) GOOD MEASURE, PRESSED DOWN, SHAKEN TOGETHER, RUNNING OVER, will be put into your lap.  That’s a pretty packed basket of grain!

As I’ve taken the time to watch the pressing going on in my life . . . and then the shaking take place, to have the individual pieces of grain fit closer, to make room for a little more only to find that it’s still over the top . . . and running over.  Well I’d say that is a “good measure!”  I’ve had a very fulfilled life in Christ . . . And there’s more to come . . . when I breathe my last here.  How good is that?  (Funny, both times as I was typing the word “good” I didn’t intend to, but I left out an “o”. Funny but the reality is what that omission says, . . . it’s not, how “good” is that, but rather, How “God” is that?!). It’s all about God’s goodness!

I am fighting the urge to write of another memory I had.  Because I don’t want it to bring hurt to those it’s close to. I’ll only say that, at death’s door, it’s so sad to see what a full life of things without God in the center leads to.  The image of that emptiness is heartbreaking.

Lord help me to see others as you see them.  Help me to value what You value.  Help me to spend my life on what You offer:  Good measure, presses down, shaken together flowing over . . . You have come that we might have life and have it abundantly!  That’s found only in a life lived fully for Jesus. And then . . .  beyond that . . . there’s eternity to come!  All I can say is wow!

Luke 6: 37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (biblegateway.com, ESV)

More than just a BELIEVER in God, I need to be a FOLLOWER of Jesus!


Swallow it

There are certain foods that just call my name. Unfortunately, the foods I most crave are not what I would call the healthiest foods.

  I love pineapple upside-down cake . . . Ooo, and then there’s chocolate sheet cake . . . If it’s out on the table, I can’t pass by without cutting off a piece and popping it in my mouth.  On the other hand, there are foods that I don’t want to even look at.  Green bean casserole puts me in a bad mood just thinking about it.  I was forced to eat green bean casserole at a family Christmas party when I was a kid . . . I shivered with every bite I took.  I ended up running to the bathroom where I chucked my cookies . . . I just made it!  As gross as getting sick was, I think I found the casserole to be better on the way up than on the way down.  Even now, just writing about the casserole makes me shiver.

I’ve decided that people and my relationships with people are a lot like my relationship with food.  There are individuals that I love being around . . . people I seek out like chocolate sheet cake. I can never get too much of them. And then there are those people that, like the green bean casserole, make me sick . . . I want to avoid them.  The mix of dried onions and cream of mushroom soup that makes up their personality causes me to shiver when I think about them.

The good thing is, I’m old enough now that I can fill my own plate.  I can avoid any people that I have not acquired a taste for . . . That is, if I want to ignore God’s mandate.  The problem is, His plan is for me to be different than the world.  There is a series of “Ifs” in Luke 6 that begins with verse 32, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.”  Hmm, great . . . Rather than avoid those I haven’t acquired a taste for, I’m supposed to load my plate up and shiver.

Luke 6:27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[b] either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (biblegateway.com, ESV)

More than just a BELIEVER in God, I need to be a FOLLOWER of Jesus!