Saturday, June 24, 2017


I like bread. Bread is good.  I like to put peanut butter, jelly, butter, cheese, egg, salami, ham, turkey, and, sometimes, gravy on my bread…not all together though…that would be nasty…each separately…for the most part. I like most kinds of bread…wheat, white, rye, donuts, pumpernickel, danishes, sourdough, English muffins, donuts, baguettes, croissants, Italian, French, flatbread, tortillas, cornbread, kaiser, bagels, brownies…are brownies bread?...they should be…let’s say yes…anyway you get the idea.
On some occasions, if I am wanting bread badly enough, I may be willing to pick off moldy areas and eat the un-moldy areas.  On other occasions, I will eat the old bread without looking for mold…hoping that there won’t be any.  Still, on some occasions, I have found that I have eaten the old bread…only to find mold on the next piece…bummer.
In ancient times, a full meal would often consist of only bread and wine.  As much as I like bread, I usually prefer other options to be included with my meals.  Back in the 19th century, prisoners were given bread and water until they’d earned the right to eat meat and cheese with their good behavior.  In biblical times, bread would have been the primary food source.
When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they were in such a hurry that they didn’t have time to put yeast in their bread and let it rise…so they prepared “unleavened” bread (without yeast) to take with them as they fled Egypt.  It was this same group of people, who found themselves starving in the desert, that had run out of the bread that they had brought with them.  God, then, provided a “bread from heaven,” manna.  God provided this bread for them because they literally needed it.  They had to have it or they would die.
At one time in Jesus’ life, he said to a large group of people, that HE is the “bread of life” (John 6:16-60).  Jesus is saying that HE is what we really NEED.  We need him MORE than we need food itself.  The next time you take a bite of whatever delicious bread you choose…may you remember that there is something we need so much more than food…we need Jesus.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


Vacations are supposed to be filled with leisure…but, often, they are overtaken by adventure, crisis, disaster, and surprise.  Whether it is a hook in the head or a rupturing appendix, the unexpected is always lurking.  Every year, our family vacations for a week at my parents’ lake cabin near Park Rapids, MN.  There is little that is more relaxing than the family fishing from the pontoon on a beautiful, sunny, calm day.
“Hey! That’s where I was fishing."
“You moved, it’s my spot now.”

“Hey I was sitting there!”

“Mom! He ate all of the cookies!"

“Can someone help me with a worm?”
“Can someone help me with a minnow?”
“Can someone use this rod until they catch a fish and then reel it in…and then hand it to me so I can have my picture taken with it and say that I caught it?”
“Dad! I just dropped my rod in the water?”
“Dad! I just hooked the seat cushion!”
“Dad, I have a hook stuck on my shorts…and shirt…and hand."
See what I mean…super relaxing.
While fishing on one, particularly pleasant, summer afternoon, a very sudden squall came up.  We had been fishing near the west shore along a point, so we couldn’t see the storm building to the west.  The next thing we knew…we were being pounded.  I had attempted to motor along the shore to shield us from the wind…but as we approached the point…I could see what the winds were doing to the waves…and there was no way I was going to attempt to take us there, out into the open water.
The storm continued to build.  We were being pounded with heavy rain, some hail, and winds that felt like they could capsize the pontoon.  Through the storm, I could hear the voices of my children crying and screaming…(ages 2, 4, 6, and 8).  In the midst of all of the chaos…I heard the voice of our 8 year old crying out…“Jesus save us!!!”  A man ran down on his dock, nearby, and waved us in.  I steered the vessel in to the wind and buffeted the waves.  As I reached the dock, he and I quickly tied up the boat. My wife and kids ran to the man’s cabin.  My children were scared and wet…and to top things off the man and his wife have a dog…a big dog…my kids hated and were deathly afraid of dogs (at the time).
We waited out the storm in the couple’s cabin.  We were soaked, tired, and still amped up on adrenaline.  The storm passed as quickly as it came.
Later, as we returned to the boat…and eventually to the cabin, I was reminded of several stories in the Scriptures.  I, of course, was reminded of when Jesus calmed the storm.  But there is another one.  There is a story in the Gospel of John.  John 6:16-21 tells the story about Jesus walking on water.  We often recall the miraculous event of Jesus walking on the water…but, often, we overlook, how the disciples were all in a boat…fighting the waves…terrified for their lives (Matthew acct. 14:22-32).  Peter, at one time, begins to walk on water, himself, toward Jesus, but before he gets very far, he becomes afraid and he begins to sink.  His words were near the exact same words of my 8 year old daughter…“Jesus save me.”

I think that it is times like these in our lives, when we are most buffeted by life’s waves, that we are most ready to see Jesus for who he really is.  When Peter is sinking…he has only one hope…it’s Jesus.  Peter is sinking…Jesus is not sinking…who can save him?...Jesus.  When life bashes us with waves…Jesus is there to take our hand…and as we find in John 10:28…“No one can snatch us from his hand.”

May you find Jesus…standing firm on the shaky ground of your life…as your life is buffeted by the wind…may you call out for him and find your hand in his hand.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


I remember as a small boy, late-spring in Minnesota, I would go outside in the early morning, and pick fistfuls of beautiful, yellow wild flowers.  I would fill both of my hands so full, that I could not open the front door to the house without either setting them down or crushing their stems and petals…while, unsuccessfully, attempting to turn the dirty door knob with my sweaty elbows.  Once inside, I would cram my harvest into the rough chewed rim of a Tupperware cup, and fill it with water. 
I couldn’t wait to give them to the most important woman in my life.  The woman who fed me fish sticks and gave me spankings that didn’t hurt…(that is why I told my dad if I ever were forced to choose between  living with him or mom, I would have to choose to live with mom…dad doesn’t cook so well…and his spankings hurt a whole lot worse than mom’s…though I didn’t tell him THAT).  My mother would graciously thank me for the gift and set them up on the window sill…to wilt.
It was my brother that first broke the news to me.  “Those aren’t flowers,” he said.  
“What are you, stupid!?...Look at them,” I replied. “Of course they are flowers…man, for someone fourteen months older; you should really know better…you are an idiot.” 
He insisted, “Those aren’t flowers…they are weeds.” 
“No,” I said. “Pigweed is a weed…Milkweed is a weed…Creeping Charlie is a weed…these are flowers.” 
“No, they aren’t…go ask mom.”
“Mom...are dandelions weeds?”
“Yes they are, dear.
All this time, I had been convinced, that I had been giving my mother beautiful flowers…only to find that my gift…is nothing but weeds.
Comparatively…my offerings to God are nothing but weeds.  Sure, I may think that I am being generous…selfless…a “good” Christian…but, my gifts really are nothing, compared to the grace, generosity and goodness that the Lord has offered to me.
Yet, he accepts my “filthy rags” as worthy unto himself. 
In John chapter 6:1-14, we find this story where Jesus has compassion on thousands of people who have followed him…(chased him, is more fitting) across a lake.  They are tired…and hungry.  All they have collectively between them is five barley rolls, and two small fish.  It is an offering that is worthless to so many.  Yet Jesus, takes what is offered…and He makes something great! He feeds thousands of people with His generous, miraculous gift from His hands.

What do you have to offer?  He will take your gift…which comparably may be “nothing” and make something great out of it…if you will let him.  Without Jesus, we wander around like lost sheep…with nothing to offer…often not realizing that we are lost.  Jesus has enough for us…if we are willing to receive his everything.