Saturday, February 24, 2018

Night Crawlers

There are some things that my beautiful wife does not appreciate in the same way as myself…pickled herring, cold weather, cold toes on her back, dirty socks left in the middle of the living room floor, night crawlers in the refrigerator.  Sarah does an amazing job of concealing her joy, using leery eyes of dissent, upon finding a new or gently used box of night crawlers in the refrigerator.  “Ewww, Ryan, You know how I hate night crawlers in the refrigerator!”
“Hey, don’t accidentally eat those!...I need those to catch some (one…if I am lucky) delicious Walleyes…and then I can clean them on your kitchen counter!”
There was a short window of time, when I chose to appeal to my better graces, and attempt to keep the night crawlers in another cool dry place in our home.  The garage would get too hot in the summer…the bedroom was cooler, but I didn’t anticipate it being a good idea to keep night crawlers within 10 feet of the bed, so I opted for the laundry room.  It was perfect…cool, dry, and much more spacious. This allowed me to expand into raising my own night crawlers, thus saving money and refrigerator space.  I invested in a nice 6”x8” Styrofoam box with elastic lid straps…filled it with night crawlers that I found after a heavy rain…added bedding and food and stored it on the cement laundry room floor.
“I don’t like worms in the laundry room!”
“They are not just worms! They are night crawlers...and, hey, at least they aren’t in the refrigerator!”
“What if they get out?”
“There is NO WAY they are going to get out…it’s not possible.”
Then…one morning, I was awakened by my red faced bride screaming “IT ISN’T WET LAUNDRY,” while spearing me in the side with a finger as sharp as a dagger.
“What are you talking about?”
“I thought I was walking on wet laundry…it wasn’t wet laundry,” she seethed.  “It was worms!...You said they wouldn’t get out!”
My mirth quickly ended upon finding how many of my precious night crawlers had been crushed by foot of my dear, unsuspecting wife.
I was certain that they wouldn’t get out.  I was wrong.
In John 13:31-38…Jesus predicts that Peter will deny Him before that night is even over…Peter declares “Never!” Peter was certain that it wouldn’t happen…yet…he was wrong, just as I was wrong.
Now I keep night crawlers…in the refrigerator.

Saturday, February 17, 2018


“Hey?! Where did you get that Dr. Pepper?” I asked.
“My friend bought it for me, because I had no money,” my son replied. 

“Where did you get those Skittles!?” I asked.
“My friend gave me a dollar, and I bought them at the concessions stand,” he answered. 

“Where did you get those Fritos!?”
“I traded the drink box from my lunch for them.”
“Where did you get those fruit snacks?”
“I traded my Clementine for them.”
“What did you eat for lunch?”
“Ummm….Fritos and fruit snacks…”
“That’s not a lunch!...What did you eat yesterday for lunch?”
“…Ummm…apparently nothing…”
“Why don’t you pack a lunch and eat a lunch?”
“I don’t like what we have to pack in a lunch.”
My son loves to eat…donuts, potato chips, ranch dip, pizza, cheeseburgers, chicken wings, cookies, Cheez-Its, Doritos, Salami…if it’s cold, cheese…if it’s cold, toasted bagel…if it’s hot…cream cheese…if it’s cold.  He does not like to eat…anything else.
Seriously!? What kid doesn’t like a peanut butter sandwich?...apparently my wife and I have generated one!
This has been an ongoing problem that my wife and I have been wrestling with him about.  Some of it was our fault for getting upset at finding out how he had been bringing his lunch back home and throwing the uneaten sandwich or bagel in the trash.  “Why are you throwing away your lunch?”
“I don’t like peanut butter sandwiches…I don’t like warm cream cheese on my cool toasted bagel”
“Then stop bringing it! You are wasting food!”
So now…he doesn’t eat…or at least he trades his cheese stick or Clementine for a bag of chips.
In John 13:13-30, we find Jesus predicting the betrayal that he will suffer at the hands of Judas.  Judas, has been with Jesus for three years…and yet, the importance of who Jesus is and what Jesus is about to do is lost on him.  Judas has something before him, that is good…in fact, great! Yet, he can only see the other items that he wants…money…prestige…high position.  Thus, Judas trades Jesus…for a bag of money.  Judas trades something good…for something empty.  He trades something “good for him”…for garbage.
Truth be told, I see the same in me.  I know full well, the rich, deep value of Jesus…and still, I find myself trading what I know is good for something empty.  I find emptiness in my anger.  I find emptiness in my gossip.  I find emptiness in my criticisms, selfishness, and apathy.
We do not have to trade Jesus for something empty…rather, we can embrace Jesus, and all that he brings.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Full Extent

Mae West is quoted as saying, “If a little is great, and a lot is better, then way too much is just about right!” However, I would have to argue…after attempting to put 17 gallons of gasoline in the 16 gallon tank of my truck…that more is not always better.
When it comes to eating , there are some things that I can have more than enough of, before ever taking the first bite…olives… sauerkraut…liver… cows’ tongue…(I have pledged to never eat anything that can taste me back).  Yet, there are some things that I can’t ever seem to quite get enough of…ice cream…potato chips…pie…coffee.
My dad tells a story of when he was a boy. He was visiting his sister and brother-in-law. During the visit, his brother-in-law asked him, “Would you like a piece of pumpkin pie?”
“Do pigs wallow in the mud?!...Yes!”
His brother-in-law cut a generous slice from the freshly baked pie and asked my dad the question, “Do you want the big piece or the little piece?”
“The big one!”
His brother-in-law proceeded to lift the “big piece” onto my dad’s plate leaving only one, lonely piece of pie.  Half a Cool Whip container later my dad finished his big piece of the pie only to be offered by his brother-in-law, “Want another piece?”
With nothing remaining but an empty Cool Whip container and a crumby pie tin, my dad encountered a pumpkin pie to its “full extent.”
In John chapter 13:1-20, Jesus does something amazing.  It says here in this passage that he now demonstrates the “full extent” of his love.  After saying this, Jesus then proceeds to get down and wash the feet of his disciples.  Jesus has loved people, especially his disciples, all along, during his time with them.  Yet, we find his love takes a huge step forward, and now he demonstrates his love in the fullest possible way!  Jesus empties himself…humbly gives himself up for them…he takes the role of a servant as a precursor of how he will empty himself on the cross and serve them by taking all of their sin upon himself.
That is love…to the full extent! It’s crazy! It’s incredible! It’s complete.
In this case, “A little is great, a lot is better, way too much is the full extent!”