Saturday, January 27, 2018


Life is full of unexpected events…like coming home to find a little doggie loggie, waiting for you at the top of the stairs.  You find the unexpected at school, when your 4th grader brings her lunch box home…”Oh wow! You remembered to bring your lunch box home! How nice! Good job!...Ummm…Where are your shoes?”
The unexpected finds you when the teenager, driving in the lane next to you, decides to change lanes… without signaling…while texting something very important to the passenger sitting next to him.
You don’t expect to wake up to your children yelling, “The oven is on fire!” on your 16th wedding anniversary. You don’t expect to have a Razor Scooter left behind your truck tire, nor do you expect to find someone else’s mail in your mail box.
The other day, I was battling through a runny nose and repetitive sneezing.  I enjoy sneezing.  It feels good.  It’s cathartic. Despite sensing the sneeze coming, I was still a bit surprised, as an unexpected glob of mucus and spit, shot out of my mouth and onto the floor of the public establishment, where I stood.  What do you do with that!?...Walk away and pretend nothing happened.
I should have seen that coming…
But I didn’t.
In fact, so many of our unexpected events have subtle pieces of evidence as they approach.  Most of the state of Minnesota was expecting a Super Bowl birth by the Vikings last week.  Boy were we surprised when the Vikings were throttled by the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-7.  Let’s be honest, we should have seen that coming.  This has happened 6 times in my lifetime.  The evidence is there…it has happened before…it will happen again…we should expect it!
Sometimes we say to “Expect the unexpected”…but doesn’t that then make it expected?
In John 12:12-36, we find a huge crowd of people who share the incredible expectation of the arrival of the Messiah…the person who is going to, finally, free them from their oppressors (The Romans) and re-establish the “golden age” of Israel…like what was experienced during the reign of King David.
Yet, they are shocked, when they find out that their expectations will not be met.  In fact, not only will Jesus not take their earthly throne…he won’t even fight.  Instead, He will die.  Jesus, then, calls them to serve Him in the same way that He served them….to die to what they want…to give it up…because there is something bigger…something better coming.
My expectations are often way off base…much like the expectations of the Israelites.  Yet, often, through my unmet expectations, I find that, perhaps, Jesus is doing something much deeper and greater.
One thing we CAN expect.  Jesus gives life…perhaps not how we expected…but He does give life…an abundant and eternal life.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


There was a time in my life, when I was the father of only two children.  You would think that fathering two children would have been easier than fathering my, now, four children.  However, that is not the case, when one of the first two children is a terrifying, three year old with the destructive mindset of a gremlin.  It was not uncommon to hear the words “Mom! Isaac is chasing me with a dangerous knife!”
If my memory serves me correctly, in a short window of time, Isaac’s destructive behaviors were expressed by stepping on ink pads and then making footprints across the brand new basement carpet, chiseling a hole in the linoleum with a screwdriver, pocking holes in the kitchen floor with a “dangerous knife”, coloring the white changing table with crayons, chasing her sister with that “dangerous knife,” and finally throwing the vacuum cleaner down the stairs.
There is a saying, “You can either have nice things…or you can have children.”  It appears that we have chosen children.  Even if you didn’t know we had children, someone could walk into our house and immediately conclude, “Oh…you must have children.”
“Yes we do! How could you tell?”
“Oh…just the broken window, that hole in the drywall, the tear in the recliner, the broken picture frame hidden in your closet, the broken brush in the garbage, the loose toilet seat in your bathroom, the dent in your front door…”
“I see.”
Isaac’s streak of terror didn’t go without reprimand, yet often, the consequences seemed to go without effect…until now.  Isaac has transformed into a nice young man who, now, occasionally apologizes for breaking things!  Oh, how far we’ve come.
After Isaac threw the vacuum down the stairs…and had received his consequence…he returned to the scene of the crime...and began laughing.  With his older sister standing next to him, he gazed down the stairs, to where the broken vacuum lay, and laughter came from his belly. He said, “That was funny Hannah!”
Despite the consequences of his actions…somewhere deep inside he felt, “That was worth it!”…which pretty much meant, “I did not enact the most effective of consequences at that time.”
What Isaac did was wrong…but there is a story of a woman in the Bible (John 12:1-11) who did what was right…even when all others around her thought it was wrong.
In the story, Jesus is only a few days from his arrest and execution. There we find him eating a meal with friends and followers.  While he was there, a woman named Mary takes a bottle of perfume, valued at thousands of dollars…and she dumps it out on Jesus.  All of disciples and others, who are gathered, get in an uproar, “What are you doing? Don’t you know the value of what you just had?”
The answer, of course, is, “Yes…she knows.”…but she also knows that Jesus IS WORTH IT!
Throwing a vacuum down the stairs? Not worth it.
Giving Jesus anything and everything…totally worth it.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


I commonly cook one meal a week for the family…usually a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night.  When it is my turn to cook, I default to my specialties…such as those high quality meals that only Dad can do the right way.
I might boil Oscar Mayer wieners…grilling is too risky when trying to make the perfect, “kid friendly” supper…too dark and you are a terrible cook because you burned them…
“They are not burned…they are just well done…plus it’s Black Friday…and I thought it might be nice to start a Black Friday tradition…well done wieners every Friday after thanksgiving!…kind of like Christmas cookies”
…not done enough, you may break a tooth on the frozen center.
I also might cook up some mean pancakes and waffles…and by mean, I mean… pancakes that are so mean they will tear you up on the inside and we won’t see you come out of the bathroom until Tuesday morning mean.
The best meal I have ever cooked, was a Dominos Pizza…I suppose, technically, I didn’t cook it…but I did place the order…choose the toppings (cheese), and hurry home with the prized supper, before it got cold.
Last week, I expanded into new territory.  It was Saturday night…and the menu had been planned…biscuits and gravy…but the best cook in the house (not me) was out of commission and it was time to send in the backup.  I knew that going into the “game” and taking over the role as “starting cook” was not going to be easy…so, I rallied my inner Case Keenum and went to work.
Step one: Panic.
Step Two: Check if the sausage was still frozen, and not too late to order pizza.
Step Three:  Panic again…but show no signs of strain…“I’ve got this dear…don’t you worry about a thing…Ummm…How do you make biscuits?”
Step Four: Read biscuit recipe on Bisquick box.
Step Five: Ignore recipe instructions.  In large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together with electric hand mixer…until bad smell and smoke emit from mixer.
Step Six: Make a mental note to replace the hand mixer.
Step Seven: Take runny biscuit batter and place on a cookie sheet. Bake until biscuits turn a rich, brown color and resemble a blob of spilled, butterscotch pudding.
Step Eight: Scramble to begin cooking the sausage that was forgotten until now.  Realize that the biscuits will be done before sausage and gravy…turn up heat to max and bring in hand held propane torch to speed the process.
Step Nine: “Sarah!?...How do you make gravy!?”
Step Ten: Ignore wife’s instructions. Make gravy like you mix drywall joint compound.
Step Eleven: Listen to the children’s words of affirmation and joy…
“What are these?”
“They don’t look like biscuits…they look like…”
“That’s enough!...we don’t need to hear what they look like!”
“What’s this?”
“That’s gravy.”
“It looks like that stuff you patch the holes in the wall with…”
“It is…eat up!”
I don’t think the children really intended to speak such negative words about my cooking…but all of us say things, at times, without realizing the consequences of what we are saying…don’t we?
It was my lovely bride who spoke up at this point and said, “You know children…if I had cooked and heard the words that you shared just now…I would feel pretty bad.”
First born: “Sorry, Dad”
Second Born: “Sorry, Dad”
Third Born: “You know Mom…no offense…but I like Dad’s biscuits way better than yours…”
Fourth born: “Do I have to eat supper tonight?”
In the Gospel of John, chapter 11, verses 49-53, something absolutely incredible happened.  It has finally come to the point that the Jewish leaders have had enough of Jesus and are ready to get him out of the picture.  The High Priest at the time, Caiaphas, said to the rest of the ruling council…“It is better that one man die for the people than the whole nation perish.”
What is so incredible, is that Caiaphas had no idea, as to the depth of what he was saying…and that by his actions…God was, indeed, going to save the entire nation…and the rest of the world too.  I don’t think my daughter, or any of my children, really meant any disrespect to anyone…but their words certainly carried a larger message.  Caiaphas had no idea at the size of the message that he had just conveyed either!
It, indeed, was better that one died…and in that death…and resurrection…Jesus brought something that only He can bring…Atonement! Salvation! Freedom!
Thanks Caiaphas!...and thank you Jesus!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Kick to the Teeth

I woke up this morning with pain in my lower back.  I stepped out of bed and was reminded of the heel pain I have been dealing with for the last few days.  Once I was able to get vertical and head out of the bedroom, the realization of my stiff neck and headache hit me.  I must have slept wrong on my flat, lumpy, supposed to be soft, feather pillow.  As much as I refer to it as “my pillow” I don’ think it has the same attributes of a My Pillow.
I was reminded of a few years back; when I was struggling through a bout of plantar fasciitis…which is a fancy name for…foot pain.  I recall hobbling around the house…limp…limp…limp, while grumbling, “oooh…ouch…eeeeh.”  This pattern continued much of the morning….limp, “ouch”…hobble… “eeeeh”….stumble…“ugh”, until I reached my chair and sat down…“ahhh.”  After listening to my groans and watching my movements, my then 4 year old daughter finally spoke up and said…   “Dad…you should just die!”
Wow!...I gotta admit…that seemed a little harsh.  Wouldn’t “Dad…you should go to a doctor,”…or even “Dad I am sorry you are in so much pain.”…but die!? Really!?
So I asked her, “Die? Why would you say I should die?”
She replied without hesitation, but with just the slightest, “Dad you are so dull” tone…“Because if you die…then you get a new body!”
Ok…I didn’t see that one coming, but…she was right.  Granted, she had no idea what that would really mean for her…but she was right…if I died, I would receive a new, perfect body…because Jesus conquered death and sin.
In John 11:17-44, Jesus stood face to face with death and gave death a mighty blow, right to the teeth.  His friend, Lazarus, is dead…in fact, had been dead for four days…he was a rotting corpse.  Jesus looked at death…and recognized it for what it was; a picture of the corruption that God never intended.  Jesus then called Lazarus forth, kicking death in the teeth and setting up the final blow, which will be his own resurrection.  Because of how Jesus conquered death and sin…my daughter was right…even though I die, one day…yet will I live…and I will live with a new, resurrected body.  That is a promise not just to me.  It is a promise to anyone who believes in Him.