Saturday, May 20, 2017


Several years ago I wanted to illustrate the difference between death and life, to a group of middle school students.  I borrowed the skull of a cat from a friend of mine, who works as a cat incinerator…(a sub-chapter of Bob Barkers efforts to help control the pet population).  I’m JOKING!!! …He’s a High School Biology Teacher.  However, in order to accurately demonstrate the contrast, I also needed a “live” cat.  So, I asked a mother of one of the attending middle school students.  She graciously agreed to bring in…Skeletor…a black and white, male, long haired, beastly king of fat cats. 
The crowded room of high strung and chattering middle school students, immediately set Skeletor on edge…all the girls swarmed the poor cat, like flies on a week old bratwurst…or wait…maybe that’s not a bratwurst…and the boys were throwing wads of play-dough at each other…and the girls…and the cat.  It is no surprise that at this moment, Skeletor wants out!. 

He imbeds his claws into his owner’s cradling arms and frees himself from her grasp…then bolts under a table.  The girls chase after the frightened feline…reaching five simultaneous sets of tender hands at the angry cat…pulling him out by his feet, ears, skin and whatever else they can get their hands on…screaming with excited glee at each and every moment.  Holding the cat firm…one of the girls gently pets Skeletor, trying to calm him, while the fat cat extricates a low…meow? roar? growl?...hmmm…guttural sound emitting from the very depths of the demon that exists within most…maybe all?…cats.

All the while, I am attempting to gain the rooms attention to emphasize what God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel…where the dead dry bones of the deceased nation of Israel…will rise up and become alive again.  When suddenly…Skeletor breaks free…bolts to the window…and jumps onto the mini blinds…and SHREDS them!…Skeletors owner peels the cat off of the blinds…while his claws pull the blinds down with him.  The trauma, continues as Skeletor then proceeds to urinate all over his owner’s shirt…pants…shoes… and floor.  She takes the cat…throws him outside…where he will not be seen for two days…he will then be found dead within a week…It’s not all my fault…just somewhat my fault.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I don’t think any of the students grasped the point of my illustration, though I think they will long remember the saga and tragic death of Skeletor.  Especially considering, we did what He-Man was never able to accomplish…defeat Skeletor.  Yet, even as I recall the story…I can’t help but see the contrast of life and death.  Skeletor…though un-cooperative…was very much alive…scared stiff…but alive…until he was scared to death.  That’s kind of the point though isn’t it?  Naturally our lives go from life…to…death.  But, Jesus takes our death…and makes it life.  We are born into sin.  The Bible says, we are “dead in our sins.” Yet, Jesus doesn’t let us stay there…he offers us life…he forgives us from our sins…from our death…and offers us a life…that is a true life…a real life…an eternal life. 

Just as God made the dead nation of Israel come alive again, Jesus offers life to us.  Jesus can take the death of our sins…and make in us a life.  When everything else in this world is dying…Jesus is still bringing life.  Ephesians 2:1-10 makes this incredibly clear.  Jesus makes us alive by freeing us from the “dead” weight of our sins.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


It seems inevitable, as soon as Monday arrives; we are already beckoning the return of Friday…and the weekend.  Week after week, this cycle continues, until something out of the ordinary occurs.  Perhaps, we look forward to a holiday, like Independence Day, where we are gifted with a bonus day or two that is added to the weekend!  Or perhaps, we anticipate the arrival of our vacation to Rothsay, Minnesota to see a statue of the world’s largest “booming” prairie chicken. 
You know how it is…you take a full day or more to pack up the van…or camper, load the children into the back “arena” of the van, where they can grapple it out like MMA fighters in the octagon, for the next two to six hours.  When you arrive at your “prairie chicken” destination, you unpack everything out of the van, and either set up camp or haul it in to your lodging accommodations, only to do it all again in repeat order three days later.  During those three days of restful bliss, you battle mosquitoes, flies, ticks, rabid chipmunks, and days of fishless fishing. On the day you finally arrive back home, unpack everything into your garage or basement…where it will sit for the next week to ten days, until someone finally gets around to putting it away, you collapse onto your sofa and say, “Ahhh…I need a vacation.”

A few years ago, we took the family up to my parent’s cabin in northern Minnesota for a week.  On the night we arrived, we took the kids to a movie, where we purchased one of those great big bags of popcorn for them to share…you know the ones that are like the size of a five gallon bucket, that comes with unlimited the end of the movie, my children (who you would think we never fed by the way they eat popcorn), had probably consumed three bags of popcorn totaling fifteen gallons worth, (that is an exaggeration, don’t take that literal…that much popcorn would be silly).

Day two, of the vacation, consisted of our oldest daughter having a TERRIBLE gut ache.  After watching their dietary intake of the previous night, it was easy to deduce where the stomach pains were coming from.  We were wrong.  When the pains intensified for her, we finally took her in to the hospital…she was released from the hospital five days later, on the last day of our vacation.  Her appendix had ruptured, and so my wife spent the five days with her in the hospital and the other three children and I spent our time driving back and forth three to four times a day between the cabin and the hospital.  When all was said and done…we needed a vacation.

Since the fall of mankind, we have been seeking rest.  We long for our days off.  We beckon our weekends to come sooner.  Children lose their minds in anticipation of summer break…parents lose their minds, during summer break.  We are all seeking rest…and when we finally receive the rest that we are looking for…we often find ourselves just as tired afterward.  Often the rest we seek is superficial…it doesn’t last, and we are left feeling just as “un-rested” as when we began our time of rest.  I am learning that God has a different kind of rest prepared for us.  He promises a rest in our future…a time when we will experience a perfect rest with him.  Yet, he offers us a rest today.  It’s not a “weekend” rest…it’s an “in Him” rest.  I am learning that as I find a confidence and a trust in Him…He offers me a rest…a rest over my worries…my anxieties…my stresses…and maybe…someday...a rest during summer break.  Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…” Matthew 11:28.