Saturday, August 18, 2018


Our dog peed on the carpet again today.  That is something that upsets me.  It makes my toenails curl, my eyes bulge and teeth gnash.  My reaction to the Minnesota Vikings losing to the Green Bay Packers would be much the same.  Though things have gone well, since we rescued him nearly two years ago, I can’t help but lack trust in him.  That is why we continue to keep him kenneled overnight.  Despite the fact that I probably give him more affection than anyone else in the house, I am convinced that he doesn’t like me…or at the very least…I am not his favorite.
Each morning, I am the first one awake.  I look at him in his kennel when I first get up and he will not make eye contact with me…I am convinced that he is pretending that he is still sleeping.  I will sit in the chair next to the kennel, drink my coffee, read a book and then as soon as he hears another set of feet hitting the floor, he springs up and scratches at the door excited that he can finally come out.
I have experimented with these patterns over the past year and a half or so.  One night as I was heading off to bed, I opened the kennel door…let him in…but didn’t close the door.  The next morning…he is still in his kennel…door open…pretending to sleep.  I sit down in the chair next to the kennel…and he continues to lie there. Then, someone else gets up and he bolts through the open door into the freedom of the day.
One morning I sat in my chair and reached down and unlatched the door while he pretended to sleep.  I swung the door open…and still he just lay there…refusing to come out.  Once again…as soon as the next person arises…he runs out of the kennel appreciating the open space.
There was one night, in fact, in which we forgot to place him in his kennel at all.  When I got up that morning…there he was…laying down in his kennel with the door wide open.
I am reminded of two passages of scripture.  The first is what Paul says in Romans 6, where he describes that we are slaves to our masters…and sin is our master until Jesus breaks the chain that bonds us to sin.  Yet, even after that chain has been broken we find ourselves going back to our old master…our old ways…our old sins…much like what Peter says in his 2nd Epistle chapter 2, verse 22, “A sow that is washed returns to wallow in the mud.”
Jesus has set us free…yet we often choose to stay where there is no freedom.  There is nothing left to keep us chained to the sin…nothing left to keep us under the “old master,” yet, there we stay…like a dog pretending to sleep in an opened kennel.
When Jesus sets us free, we are free indeed.  That is why we choose to be baptized.  To express the work that has already been done.  To express how Jesus led us to die to our old sinful selves…our old ways…and gives us new life…a free life.

Saturday, August 4, 2018


When I was in ninth grade, I joined the high school track and field team.  I didn’t really care for running…I certainly didn’t like practicing or training…I didn’t like shin splints, sprained ankles, or muscle strains…and I didn’t like the 400m dash.  Unfortunately for me, the 400 meter dash was my best running event.  I was not a world class runner, nor was I an All-American runner…I wasn’t even an All-State runner…I may have been an All-Conference runner…once.  The 400m was the longest event that I have ever competed in, and it would be safe to say that I prefer dental procedures to the 400m dash.
The 400m dash is one of the few physical punishments that schools, teachers, and coaches are allowed to legally inflict upon a student athlete.  If given the choice of running the 400m dash or petting a bumble bee…I’d pet the bee.  Should I choose between this grueling race or giving a black bear a back scratch?…That bear would be purring beneath my fingers.  Run a 400m dash or kiss my sister?...Hmm…that’s a tough one.
Imagine having your shoes filled with tacks, your shorts three sizes too small, and you run as fast as you can…until you just cannot run anymore…and then someone duct tapes your mouth and nose and says only 100m left to go!  Then at the end of the race, you vomit…except that you still have duct tape on your mouth and nose and so the bile comes out of your ears and eyes.
Congratulations! You have just run the 400m dash!  Your coach responds, “Next time, I think you could shave a few seconds off!”
Next time!
I don’t ever want to do that again!
In truth, there are few experiences in life, where I have desired to cross the “finish line” more than in running that ridiculous race.  Honestly, it feels so good…kind of…to cross that finish line and have that race finished.  However, the coach was right…I had to do it again…and again…and again.
In John 19, we read about Jesus being hung on the cross.  After 6 agonizing hours, Jesus made a powerful statement…he said, “It is finished.” At that moment he gave up his life.  It is finished. Jesus accomplished a great work on that cross and then when it is all done he said, “It is finished.” He didn’t say, “It’s mostly done.” He didn’t say, “I am done for now…this time…next time I will do this or that differently.”
His work is done…he has no touch up paint to do…he does not need to fill any nail holes…all the pieces of trim are set where they need to be…it is all done…nothing is left incomplete.  He has fulfilled Scripture.  He has taken our place on the cross.  He has conquered death.  He has conquered sin. He has taken the sin away. He has emptied the cross of its shame. He has drawn all people unto himself. He has begun a new community…and on and on.  Complete…it is all done!
The table is set, the turkey has been cooked, the stuffing made, Jell-O sits in a bowl with Cool Whip on top, cranberry sauce, potatoes and gravy…it’s all ready.  It is finished.  Now all you have to do…is…sit down and eat.  What a blessing to enjoy and accept the work that Jesus has finished.