Saturday, September 30, 2017


When my wife and I finally squared away our rental car for our honeymoon, (see blog post 3/4/17 for details), we traveled to our remote destination in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  We made wrong turns, detours and near moose collisions along the way.  As we pulled into Conway, New Hampshire at nearly two o’clock in the morning, we were exhausted and on the edge of our first fight, still within the first 48 hours of our blissful marriage.
Unfortunately, Conway is not our destination. We still need to get to Jackson, and we have no idea how to get there…especially since it’s dark…we are tired…Jackson is such a small town…it doesn’t appear on many maps…and of course GPS is not yet available to the general public.
My new bride convinces me to stop and ask for directions…now you know we are close to our first conflict! We find an all night gas station and we pull in to face the humbling “I’m lost…can you tell me how to get to Jackson” music.  I exit the car and Sarah locks the doors from the inside, because after all we don’t know where we are and who knows if there are any rabid moose who know how to use a door handle.
As I approach the station, I feel like I am walking to the principal’s office, after getting caught covering some poor sap’s locker lock with Coppertone.  I approach the acne faced teen at the counter and ask “Can you tell me how to get to Jackson?”
“Jackson who?” he replies…
Well that didn’t work.
After studying a map for a short while…I find what I believe to be the route.  I head back to the car slide the key into the lock…unlock the door and open it…WHOOOP….WHOOOP…WHOOOP!!!
I guess I didn’t realize that the rental car also had a car alarm.  Perhaps I should go ask my teenage friend inside how to turn it off?  However, rather than humble myself again…I get in and drive….WHOOOP…WHOOOP…WHOOOP!!!
About a mile down the road…WEEOOO…WEEOOO…WEOOO….”Hmm…that doesn’t sound like our alarm?”…“Does our alarm have flashing blue and red lights?”  “I don’t think so…” “Apparently the Po-Po behind us does.
I explained the situation as best as I could to the officer…and he kindly pointed me toward Jackson.
Why do they even put security systems on a rental car?...I mean if I rent a car…and it gets stolen…it’s not on me.  That’s why I paid the extra insurance!...that and the fact that they made me pay it.
Insurance…security systems…ways to protect ourselves….
Our culture is obsessed with security…yet, how often do we feel totally “insecure.” Let’s be honest…we are all desperately insecure much of the time.  We try hard to be accepted by people…we protect our feelings…we secure our possessions...yet, insecurity threatens us.
John 10:28-29ngives us an incredible picture of security. Jesus tells the people around him…that if they will just believe in him, they can find security…a perfect security.  In fact, he puts it this way…“NO-ONE, can snatch you out of my hand…NO-ONE, can snatch you out of the father’s hand either.” You can take my car, my possessions, my insurance, my health and even my life…yet, as a believer in Jesus, I am secure in him…forever.  What about you? Do you feel secure? Or do you feel insecure?

Saturday, September 16, 2017


My wife, son and oldest daughter are in the midst of taking their firearms safety course.  I have discovered that my wife is a natural shooter and a regular Annie Oaklie with a firearm!  She puts me to shame…along with many other local sharp shooters…she is good!  Really good!...Who knew?
After years of hunting, I still remember some of the first words of wisdom my dad shared with me in regards to becoming a successful hunter, “Make the first shot count.”
Last year, I blew it.  I could have heeded to his words a little more closely. That wasn’t the first time. I didn’t get a shot at a deer until my second year of hunting.  As I was struggling to stay awake and break apart the boredom of the afternoon, I was suddenly surprised by a nice doe, not 40 yards away.  Quickly, I raised my 30-30 Stevens bolt action…aimed down the iron sights of the barrel and fired at the center of the brown mass…I missed.
My next opportunity wouldn’t come until the following year.  I could hear the deer coming…walking along the trail…crunch…crunch…cra-crunch…crunch…crunch…cra-crunch.  When I see it, I can tell, it has been wounded and is moving slow…real slow…and limping hard.  Again, I raise the rifle…aim down the barrel…ca-blam!...I missed…again.
This pattern continued until I was 17 years old.  This time, I was determined to make it count.  On opening morning, I got my opportunity…this time, when the deer presented itself…I took aim…and fired…blam!...I missed.  BUT!!! The deer didn’t run!...again I fired!!!...missed.  The deer still didn’t run.  I fired again!...MISSED!!!  This time the deer finally moved…but not quickly…I fired one more time…and this time he ran…but he was staggering…I hit him!  I made contact!  I tried to fire one more time…click…out of bullets!  I quickly opened up the chamber…inserted a single round…pulled up and fired one final round…at last…down he went.  The streak was over.
I have come to realize that time is like a bullet. Once it has been fired, you can never call it back or get a second “first shot.”
I could not begin to count the hours of my life that I have wasted.  Time…wasted doing unimportant things…like counting flowers on a wall…that don’t bother me at all…or playing solitaire ‘til dawn with a deck of 51…thank you Statler Brothers for that fine metaphor. 
I don’t think anyone can argue that life is busy.  It’s crazy really.  We have so many things to do…people to meet with, rooms to paint, traveling to visit family, projects to complete, grass to mow, homeschooling the children, children to birth, children to raise, children to discipline, athletic events to attend to, decks to stain, tables to refinish…and this doesn’t include eating and showering…(that is one multi-task that I have not mastered…I think they need to start making bread to be like Captain Crunch…where it doesn’t get soggy in the shower).
There is a parable that Jesus shares in the Gospel of Matthew.  It’s about these 10 bridesmaids, who are waiting for the bridegroom (Jesus).  Half of these bridesmaids are wise…and half are foolish.  The foolish ones do not take the time to do what is important… prepare for the arrival of the bridegroom, (Jesus).
With all of the busyness of life…there is one task that is far more important than ALL others…and that is the preparation of ourselves for the return of the bridegroom…Jesus.
If we are not ready for that…then there will be no second “first shot.”

Saturday, September 9, 2017


It is possible, that I was the meanest and most sadistic older brother a little sister could ever have had.  I internally found great satisfaction to tormenting and controlling my siblings.  Though I was only the second oldest, I grew at a faster rate than my older brother, so I inherited the title of King Brother…self titled…self appointed…and humble too.
If my little brother was sitting where I wanted to sit…I would throw him out of the seat…and take it for myself.  He would scream and attack me with arms flailing…and I would shove him away with my foot to his face or throw him down and sit on him until mom would get fed up with it and yell at me to get off of him.  “What!?...He started it!...He was sitting in the seat that I wanted to sit in!”
My older brother and I didn’t fight as often…I think it had to do with his “ok, whatever” personality.  It was rare that he would speak up and actually challenge me…and when he did…he usually had a big piece of wood in his hands and he’d use it with unfortunate precision.
My sister probably received the worst of it.  I frequently would…”accidentally”…hold her head under water.  Not long enough to do any real damage…just long enough to make her cry…see?...I’m not so bad.  I wouldn’t resort to physical attack with her, like I did with my brothers…rather, for her…it was developing some mental anguish.
I would convince the poor girl that our house was built on a graveyard and that spooky skeletons would come out of the basement and attack her…and then, I would lock her in the basement…the dark basement…of which the light bulbs had been loosened so as not to turn on.  I remember sitting there…holding the basement door tight…listening to her scream and cry on the other side of the door.  After a while, my emotions would get the best of me…and I would laugh.  There was only one way into the basement…and one way out of the basement…and it was through me…I controlled the door!
Wow! I am so sorry sister!!! I was such a jerk.
Fortunately for me…I have a very gracious sister and she now laughs at the stories…and has forgiven me…I think.
In John chapter 10, Jesus shares a metaphor about shepherds.  He says that there are some bad shepherds who have mislead and treated his “sheep”…the Israelites…harshly.  He tells us how they don’t care about the “sheep” at all…instead, they care only for themselves.
Jesus then refers to himself as the “Good Shepherd”…the kind of man who cares for the well being of his sheep…who protects them…loves them.  He then also talks about how we are invited to be his sheep…and that there is ONLY one way to be a part of his “flock”…and it is through him.
I was a BAD brother…like these bad shepherds…and likewise…I was a BAD gatekeeper…
Jesus tells us that he cares for us so much…that he is actually willing to lay down his life for us…his sheep.  Not only is Jesus “willing” to lay down his life…but he actually did it.
He laid down his life.
Instead of holding the door closed…He opened it.
Instead of locking us up in fear and sin…he frees us.
We have a Good Shepherd.
The sheep…just need to listen for his call…and then follow him.

Saturday, September 2, 2017


We took the kids camping this past weekend…for one night only.  We took the kids camping last Labor Day weekend as well…also, for one night only…you would have thought that we would have learned our lesson.  Camping is exhausting!
Here is how our camping works.  We spend 63 minutes loading up the van and trailer.  We take the 18 gallon plastic tote down from the high dusty shelf in the garage, and throw it into the trailer, hoping that everything we need is still inside.  We grab some matches…an ax…bug spray…(if we remember it)…the tent, and sleeping bags.  We pull out of the driveway, certain that we have forgotten something…usually we are right.  This year is no different…fortunately Sam Walton created a store for just such circumstances. We purchase the bug spray inside.
We arrive at the campsite and immediately start setting up camp.  Camp set up consists of me working on the tent…Sarah organizing the bedding…and the children opening all doors to the van in hopes of gathering as many mosquitoes as possible, and keeping the interior van lights lit to add to the adventure and the wonder…will the van start tomorrow?  Last year, we needed a jump start.
When I have the tent ready and Sarah has the bedding set, we begin working on the fire…while the kids dig into the cooler for some pop to drink and spit sunflower seeds all over the picnic table…first rules of survival…shelter…fire…pop and sunflower seeds.
With the fire going, we dig into the hot dogs and beans…roasting them over the fire.  Immediately following, we turn to the marshmallows…we make our s’mores and start a pot for coffee…just in time… for the rain to come.
Quickly, we pack the chairs, food and wood into the van, so as not to get wet and head into the tent that “sleeps five comfortably.”  With the six of us packed into the tent, we decide to play cards. This forces  (about) 40 year olds to sit, in ways that, not only were, (about) 40 year olds not intended to sit, but also in positions that (about) 40 year olds cannot get out of.  We soon discover that our tent is, apparently, not water proof…that’s disappointing…and my coffee still sits over the fire…also disappointing.
Two and a half hours later, the rain appears to have let up, and I have got to get out of the wet tent and out of my “one legged pigeon pose.” We rekindle the fire…and we enjoy a nice mosquito swatting percussion symphony.  Finally, we head to our damp bedding, only to wake up with pruned fingers and soggy socks.
Now we get to pack up…head home…and dry everything out on the line…yell at the children for not helping…all the while, dog tired from not sleeping well in restful bliss of “nature.”
And truth be told…we will probably do it again next year…because somewhere along the line, I have become blind to the work that camping involves, and instead, cling to the enjoyable memories like whining children on a nature hike…crying girls who tripped over the stump…sharing our deepest darkest secrets in a rain soaked tent and family time around the campfire.
Voluntary blindness is interesting.  I think of birthing babies…not that I have ever done it…but I’ve heard it is “challenging.”  I have watched the pain that my wife has endured during the childbirth process and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy…yet, I think mothers become blind to the pain, when they choose to have another child.
In a similar, but rather different, sort of way…I think we live, relatively, blind lives.  I think we are blind to many of the things that we do in our lives that are wrong.  In other words…I think we are frequently blind to our own sin….and even when perhaps we finally realize some of the sin in our lives…we continue to either diminish the same sin or, not even acknowledge that there could be more sin…other sins…in our lives.
In John 9:8-41, Jesus heals a man who is physically blind…and then uses this event to point out how the religious leaders were spiritually blind…what a contrast! I believe, wholeheartedly, that Jesus wants to heal us from our spiritual blindness.  In fact, I believe, that when we can admit to our own spiritual blindness…we will find ourselves yearning for spiritual sight…a spiritual light that can only come from the light of the world…who shines in our darkness…revealing our blindness…revealing a Truth that only Jesus can provide.