Saturday, March 25, 2017


I attended Crown College in St. Bonifacius, MN, which was about 3 hours from my home near Sebeka, MN.  During my four years at Crown College, I would frequently alter my route, in efforts to discover the fastest route.  Because of the variations of these routes, I became very well acquainted with the infrastructure of the central and south central Minnesota roadways.  By the time I was a second year senior…I had found my preferred route.
People often affirm the great state of Minnesota for having 4 distinct seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter.  Though there is some truth to this, it may be more accurate to describe Minnesota weather as having two seasons…winter…and road construction. 
Wouldn’t you know it, that just as I became acclimated with my preferred, favorite and fastest route…road construction season hit.  Road construction jobs always seem to take FOREVER!  I cannot count the number of hours that I have spent stuck in road construction traffic over my life…so much so, in fact, that I probably could have learned to knit…if I had had any interest in knitting…which I don’t.  However, if knitting involved saws, hammers, engines or firearms…that could potentially peak my interest in knitting, but I really don’t see that happening. But hey, if Rome had been built in a day…perhaps we could find and hire the same contractor.
I remember, one fall, as I was driving back for my second senior year of college, I came to a sign that said “Detour…Road Closed to Through Traffic.”  You know what that meant…that meant that the “only” people who can drive on that road, are the ones that “need” that particular road to get to their home.  Well, technically, “I…needed this road” to get back to college.  I made the decision…and I drove around the sign…and continued south on Hwy 25 toward St. Bonifacius.  I was only about 1 mile from my next turn when…I was forced to come to a quick and sudden stop…it seemed that someone had taken the bridge away.  I had been willing to take my 1991 Ford Escort through some tough terrain…but I don’t see “fording” (ha! See what I did there?) the Crow River as a viable option.  I was faced with a decision.  I was told right at the beginning, which was the “right” way to go.  I chose the wrong route.
I believe that in most of the choices that we face, regarding right and wrong, we know which we ought to choose.  Yet, frequently, we choose that which we know to be wrong.  We will often justify our decision.  It would be like coming upon a tragic car accident and doing nothing, assuming that someone else will stop.  Perhaps we are just too busy…or we feel we are too unskilled…or just simply afraid of the commitment that it may take for us to take the time and resources to help.
Jesus tells such a story in Luke 10:25-37, about a man who had been beaten and left for dead on the side of the road.  A church leader walked by the man…and did not stop…a pastor walked by…and did not stop…an enemy of the man walked by…stopped…and helped.  Kind of makes you ask…who really was the enemy?

Saturday, March 18, 2017


I remember standing on the dusty ground waiting, and anxiously hoping, for my name to be called.  I stood there watching and listening to two, very athletic, classmates calling out names one by one… “Jay”… “Mike”…“Willis”…“Jason”…it went on…one by one.  Normally, I wouldn’t be stressed, because there were the infamous, two students, who would inevitably be picked last.  However, on this day…they had both gone home sick before Gym class.  Now it felt as if I was going to be sick.  Then there were two…me and David.  It’s funny how there is only ONE position that really mattered…second to last…even first or second…didn’t hold a candle to the significance of being picked last.  “David!”  It had happened.  I was picked last.  This may have been the worst experience of my elementary life…perhaps even worse than having my ears tweaked, repeatedly, by the daily bus bully. 
I was not going to take this lying down.  This was not going to set me back.  This was my time to demonstrate that I had the skills and talents to never be picked last again. The instructor asked, “Who is left handed?”  I raised my hand.  He shoved a left handed fielder’s glove into my hand and sent me into left field.  Perhaps this would have been a good time to tell him that I throw with my right hand, but I didn’t.  Rather, I took the field silently.  The opposing team hit, safely, 3 consecutive at bats…loading the bases.  The next batter sent the ball my way…it bounced once in front of me…I gloved it…transferred the ball to my left hand…flipped the glove off of my right hand…transferred the ball back to my right hand.  Instead of throwing the ball to the “cutoff man,” I launched the ball toward home.  The ball sailed over the backstop and out of the park.  We didn’t get the out…in fact…I think that it classified as an inside the park home run…though, technically, the ball did leave he park.

In my efforts to become “great,” I actually did something much less than great.  Sometimes, it’s hard to feel insignificant.  It’s hard to be ok with being, “less.”  However, when we allow Jesus to change our hearts…we become aware of how truly great He is…and how our lives are not about how great we become…but rather, how we can proclaim HIS greatness.  In John 3:22-36, we see John the Baptist, provide a beautiful picture of what it means to become “less”…so that Christ can become “more.”

Saturday, March 11, 2017


For the better part of my life, I have resisted change.  Changing has never been something that I have readily embraced.  As a child, I remember resisting the coming of fall…and thus, another year of school.  I would push back on the coming change…and to no avail…school would start, every year, on the day after Labor Day.  I resisted Kindergarten.  I didn’t really want to go.  I liked being at home with mom… eating fish sticks, (I am pretty sure they were made with 33% real fish).  I did not resist getting married…but I have spent many years resisting diaper changes.  Just this last week, I resisted being around my vomiting daughters.  My wife is so gracious in dealing with vomit…she gets up and consoles and comforts our sick children…I pretend to sleep through it.
Could you imagine what life would be like without change?  I have encountered some pretty nasty diapers in my day…probably about 8% of what my wife has encountered.  What if diapers were never changed?  “Lena came back and said to Ole, ‘Ole…I told you to take care of Little Ole while I was gone, which includes changing his diaper.’  Ole wisely replied, ‘But Lena, the box said 14-18 lbs. and that diaper doesn’t weigh that yet!’”  Uf-Dah

What if vomit was never disposed of? What if vomit soaked bedding were never changed or washed? What if we never changed our socks?  Can you even imagine what life would be like if there was truly no change taking place?
We can’t stop change.  Tonight, we will be forced to change our clocks for Daylight Saving Time…I like the daylight change…but I do not like the hour of lost sleep.  We can’t stop it…although Arizona and Indiana have figured it out.  I think of the times I have spent hunting in the woods.  For the past 27 years I have stood in the same spot, in the same tree, looking over the same valley.  But, every year it’s a little bit different, and this year…it’s marked for logging.  Everything around us is in a constant state of change.  My children are in a constant state of change. There are days when I try to desperately stop…or at the very least…slow the changing process, because, in the deepest part of me…I don’t want change.

Yet, as I stand, looking at the world, I find myself identifying everything that is wrong with it…everything that needs to be different…everything that needs to be changed…except me.  “Who wants change?”…”I do!”…“Who wants to BE changed?”…“Not me!!” 
I cannot stop the changes in life…each morning I leave more hair on my pillow…and need more light to be able to see things.  Yet, I can make some choices as to how I will be changed.  I may not get to choose how many hairs remain on my head…but I do get to choose which direction I will go.  In the Gospel of John, chapter 3, Jesus encounters a Jewish teacher by the name of Nicodemus.  In Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus…Jesus confronts him with a call to change…a call to be different. The decision still lies with Nicodemus.  Will he allow the Lord to do a changing work in him? Or will he resist the change that the Lord desires.  We all face that same question.  Do we really want to be different? Do we really want to be who God has created us to be? Who God wants us to be…and who we want to be, may not necessarily be the same.  Do we really want to change?  Before change can come, that question must first be answered.

Saturday, March 4, 2017


My wife and I have been married for nearly 17 years now.  They have been the 15 happiest years of her life.  After we were married in the Detroit area, we drove to Chicago to fly to New Hampshire for our honeymoon, (airfare was cheaper).  I am not a fan of spending money.  I have been referred to as, “cheap,” “frugal,” “economical,” “prudent,” “penny-pinching,” “stingy,” etc…all of which have been true at one time or another.  I have even been accused of making my own copper wire from holding onto a penny too tightly. 
I had the entire honeymoon planned…well…more accurately I had all of the transportation planned.  We made planes, trains, and automobiles (not to mention horse drawn carriage…yes I am super romantic…it was FREE with the lodging!) a literal reality.  Upon arriving at the Manchester airport, we made our way to the rental car counter, where I had my reservation.  I had reserved the smallest, most inexpensive car they had on the lot…only to find that that car was not available.  However, I could upgrade for a small fee.  I didn’t want an upgrade.  “I am sorry, this is all we have…but it does have a sunroof and an alarm.” They had me over a barrel and they knew it.  I took the car.  “Would you like have the additional full coverage insurance for an extra fee?”  “No thank you.” “I am sorry, you’ll have to take it…we require it for anyone who is under 25 years old.”  Again…over a barrel…but I am getting a little hot under the collar by this time.  “Also, you are going to have to pay a mileage fee, because you are traveling farther than what is included in the rental…also, there will be an additional charge for your wife to drive the car.” “She won’t be driving it.” “I am sorry, that doesn’t matter, because she will be with you and we will assume that she may be driving the car.”  “Also, you will be required to have extra ‘moose insurance coverage’…Isn’t that included in the extra insurance?”  “In most places, yes, but not in moose country…also, if you don’t bring the car back with a full tank of gas we will have to charge you an additional fee.”
I have rented several cars since then…with the motto…”What they don’t know…will save me money.”
In John 2:12-25, Jesus encountered a situation that is not entirely different from my “fee” happy rental company.  Jesus came into Jerusalem for the Passover.  When he entered the temple court he found that people had turned the temple court into a market place.  People were buying and selling animals for the Passover sacrifices that are required of them according to the law.  Sadly, the Levites, in charge of overseeing these sacrifices, were taking advantage of the people, by selling them sacrifices at exorbitant rates…claiming that the animals that they have brought with them are unworthy…and that they will need to “upgrade” their sacrifice. 

This angered Jesus…so much so…that he makes a whip out of cords and clears the temple of those who have turned the Lord’s temple into a mockery. 
The people of God have been called to be a nation that gives hope to the world.  In this story, we see the people of God, bringing burden and oppression to the world.  This is not what God had in mind.  Is your life bringing hope to those around you?  When we say yes to the LIFE that Jesus has for us…he creates in us a new life…that brings hope and life to others.