Saturday, April 29, 2017


My wife and I were, recently, enjoying unhealthy pastries and coffee at a local establishment near our home.  This was a rare opportunity for the two of us to get away without children.  On this particular day, we dropped all four children off to school, and we went out for a short, forty-five minute date.  Though the pastries were delicious…it was difficult to enjoy ourselves.  Two tables away, sat another couple…one of which I am convinced must have been the great, great, great, great, great grand-daughter of Samuel Morse himself.  The fingernails on her right hand were clicking the table top faster than a tap dancer, after a weeklong binge of gummy bears, chased down with Pikes blend from Starbucks. 
I don’t know that it would have done any good…but I really wanted to say something to get her to stop.  I felt like I was about to lose my mind!  I know it sounds extreme…but you were not there!! It was insanity…and I could feel the insanity creeping into my very being.  We left.  I had to get out of there, before I did something that would have left me with a lifetime of re-“Morse”…pun intended.
We all have done things that we regret.  Perhaps, you have purchased a vehicle that turned out to be a lemon.  Perhaps, you have bought a house, only to find out that it has been rotting under your nose for the last decade.  Perhaps, you struck your siblings with the dead bones of animals…oh wait…I was talking about things I regret.

It is difficult to find contentment in our culture.  There exists, a pressure, around us at all times, attempting to convince us that we “need” this or that to make us happy…or content.  Yet, after we fall for these deceptions, we can find ourselves in a deeper sense of despair than before the purchase was made.

I remember in college I bought a $2 scratch ticket.  I lost.  I bought another $2 scratch ticket…lost again.  $20 later…I cannot express the deep remorse I was experiencing…$20 could have filled my car twice in 1994.  I guess I won’t be eating lunch for the next week. 

I think we get confused as to what we really need.  Sure, we need food and water, or we will die.  We need shelter, or we will freeze in the Minnesota winters.  However, I think, we look at our “needs” as those things that will make us “comfortable.”  Sure, we need food to live…but how many of us would be content with peanut butter sandwiches for the rest of our lives.  Yet, we would have what we need.  Instead…we “need” steak. 

Sometimes I think we look to Jesus to give us the “comforts” we desire…rather than what we REALLY need…HIM.  In the Gospels, we see Jesus heal MANY people.  Have you ever asked yourself, “Why does Jesus heal people?”  I don’t think He heals them just to make them “comfortable.”  I believe that Jesus heals people…to point people back to Himself, so that more people will believe in Him.  All that Jesus does, or doesn’t do, is intended to point back to Him…to lead people into a deeper relationship with Him.  It’s all about Him…and all we need is...Him.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


It was just over four weeks ago, that I was riding my bicycle on a wooded trail in the early morning darkness, when I fell.  I have a nice bright headlight, so I saw the mud coming, however, as I veered left to avoid the deepest portion of sludge, I kept my center of gravity too high and my rear wheel washed out, and down I went.  My body landed hard on my left side and a protruding tree root caught me in square in the ribs.  Ughh! I laid there for a few moments…in the mud…groaning loudly and trying to catch the wind that had been knocked out of my chest.  I got up…and while in considerable pain…I finished the ride.
For weeks now I have been trying to kill the pain of my broken ribs.  (I self diagnosed the injury.  It is a lot cheaper if I just decide what the injury is, rather than going in to visit a doctor and have x-rays done and then have them send me home saying…”yep you broke some ribs…take it easy…there is nothing we can do.”  So in this case, I decided that my ribs are broken.  I then self prescribed 800mg of ibuprofen every 6 hours to keep the pain at bay).  It would really only hurt when I would touch it…or when I would breathe…or cough…or twist…or raise my hands…or lie down…or stand up…or get dressed…or move in general…other than that, I hardly noticed anything different.

I don’t like pain.  There are some pains that I can handle more than others…such as rib pain.  There are other pains that are far worse…such as mouth pain.  Oh how I hate mouth pain!  Canker sores are some of the worst…sore throats, biting my tongue or biting my cheek or lips are right near the top of the scale of miserable experiences as well. 

The bottom line is…we don’t like discomfort.  When we feel discomfort…we medicate.  We take pain killers for physical pain.  We may even turn to other drugs or alcohol for emotional pain, we may turn to the internet…facebook…or pornography…for the pain of loneliness.  Perhaps we even turn to business, to prevent our minds from having to engage the uncomfortable thoughts of life, such as the pain of loss.  In any case, our goal often becomes, not the pursuit of “real life,” but rather, a “comfortable existence.” 

Jesus however, has offered us something so much more than mere comfort.  He has created an opportunity for life…real life!  There is a story of a man in the New Testament, names Lazarus, who became sick and died.  Jesus went to his tomb…4 days after he died…that smell must have been atrocious! Lazarus was sick…likely not comfortable.  His sisters, Mary and Martha, were heartbroken and in great emotional pain.  Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.  It was just a few days after this miracle, that Jesus raised Himself from the grave.  Through Jesus’ resurrection…we too are being offered life.  Lazarus became alive again.  Jesus became alive again.  We can be made alive again. (John 11, John 20, Ephesians 2)

Saturday, April 8, 2017


In May of 2003, my wife Sarah and I discovered that we were going to become parents.  After learning this life changing information, my blood pressure spiked, my fingers tingled, I became nauseous, and sweat immediately formed on my brow…ok the sweat may have already been there…I am pretty much a walking sponge.  It took a day or so for the panic to subside.  Once my heart rate had calmed, I found this great excitement building within me.  I was going to be a dad!  It became less scary to me…and perhaps more scary to others.  However, despite our excitement, Sarah and I had decided to keep the news to ourselves for about a month.  We decided that we would start telling people on Father’s Day.  As each day passed I felt the excitement build until I was about ready to burst...Pizza Ranch buffets may have also played a role.
It’s a fascinating experience to be privy to “little known information.”  We hold a certain power over others who do not have the same knowledge as we have.  Secret family recipes are a fine example.  We would be glad to “make” it for anyone…to show off our great “knowledge” or “ability.”  Yet, we often keep these things secret.  Why?  Does sharing the information make us know any less? No…it makes someone else know more.  There are other times, however, when we just can’t help but share the information that we have been given. 

When Sarah was expecting our fourth child, we decided to tell our other 3 children first.  Our oldest…(see above experience)…was now the one bursting to tell.  The day she learned that her mother was having a baby…she wrote a song...and then sang the song EVERYWHERE she went.  The lyrics when something like this…Verse 1: My mom’s having a baby…My mom’s having baby…Chorus: My mom’s having a baby…My mom’s having a baby. 
She couldn’t help it.  She had to tell.  There was no keeping it a secret.  Likewise…I am convinced, that when we truly come to understand what Jesus has done for us…what he has saved us from…we can’t help but tell.  I chose to follow Christ at a very young age. However, it wasn’t until I truly understood my own depravity…my own “need” for a savior…that this longing to tell others of the grace that Jesus has given to me, began to make me burst.

In the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John, we see how a Samaritan woman, who Jesus had been talking to, goes immediately back to her people and tells everyone she meets all about the Christ.  She could not help but share the experience that she had just had with Jesus.
What is it that is building inside of you…that you just have to tell or you will burst?  I know…that the grace of Jesus Christ, can lead you to that experience…but it starts by saying yes to him.

Saturday, April 1, 2017


When I was in 7th grade, I was hired for my first “real” job…or was it 8th grade?...hmmm
When I was in Jr. High, I was hired for my first “real” job.  By real job, I mean, a job where someone aside from my parents, approached me to do work for them. They would pay me a certain sum of money for the work that I would do…i.e. “real job.”   Sure, I had some “pretend” jobs, where my dad would talk to people he knew, and the next thing I knew, I was taking bales of hay in 90+ degree weather from a field and placing them on a hay wagon…too slowly for the farmer…or cutting thistles that would grow back in a couple of weeks.  In one of the “non-real-job” situations…the farmer actually discounted my pay because he fed me a bologna sandwich…that must have been some expensive bologna.

My first “real” job was to rake my art teacher’s yard for $50.  I hadn’t seen $50, let alone, earned $50.  Ironically, my elementary age children, have more money saved up from one birthday, than I had all the way through Jr. High…that’s depressing.  Each day, after school, my teacher would drive me to her house.  Before I would start with the raking, she would give me an ice cold Coke.  Wow! Those were good! In fact, on hot summer days, I still find myself, occasionally, craving an ice cold Coke and thinking about that first job.  This went on for more than 2 weeks!  It wasn’t that big of a yard, but I was really scraping it clean.  When it was all said and done…I put in 21 hours of raking.  Years later I did the math…that was $2.38 per hour.  That’s less than babysitter wages.

I remember the Cocoa Colas the most though…They were so good…but wouldn’t you know it…at the end of each work day, I think I was thirstier than I had been before I had started.  In fact, I found myself craving and wishing that there would be another Coke upon the completion of the day’s work…maybe, just maybe, another Coke would satisfy my thirst.  I find it interesting, how I could ever expect anything, with that much sodium, to quench a thirst.  Yet, on hot summer days, when I am feeling thirsty…I often find myself drawn to things that will never truly satisfy any thirst that I may be experiencing.

There is a story in the Gospel of John, where Jesus meets a woman who is coming to draw water from a nearby well.  Jesus is thirsty and asks her for a drink.  Through the conversation, Jesus offers her something that will satisfy her deepest thirsts…thirsts, which she wasn’t even aware that she was yearning for.  In the climax of the story, we find Jesus revealing himself to her as the promised Messiah and the one who can truly provide her with the life she is yearning for.

What are you thirsty for? What is your heart yearning for? Don’t be deceived into thinking that you will find satisfaction in a “Coke.”  There is only one way to find a truly satisfying life…and eternal life...and that is in Jesus.