Saturday, June 29, 2019


There is really something quite astounding about mothers. It often appears that they possess supernatural powers. They can see things that the normal human eye cannot see…sense things that are about to happen before they occur…they can see right through the false statements of children and turn anything thing they can find in the pantry or refrigerator into a gourmet masterpiece.  Each mother may obtain any one or more of these super powers.  My wife possesses the super power of, “vomit radar.” She can tell that one of our children is about to hurl well before the bile appears.  “Ryan…go get a bucket and give it to Carissa.”

“What? Why?”

“Just do it…and you might want to hurry…you have 72 seconds…”

“What? Huh? Fine!...Ok…Here you go Carissa…what did you need a buc…”  BLAHHH! “Oh…I see.”

Despite their super powers…mothers need to get away from time to time. There have been a few times when Sarah has had the blessed opportunity of getting away from the home for a few days.  This has inevitably left me home to parent the children solo.  So far…so good…I began with 4 whole children and I still have 4 mostly whole children…perhaps a few less blood cells…or brain cells…but all in all…we got by.

When Sarah leaves town she will always write down a list of instructions.  This list will include items like: Feed the children, bathe children, change diapers, clothe children, pay bills, put the children to bed, repeat, etc…

On one given Sunday afternoon, when Sarah returned from her time away and I was just getting home from church with the children, she asked, “Well, how did it go while i was away?”

“Overall, it went pretty well…I was even able to get the girls to wear dresses this morning!” I said proudly.

“Good for you!...Did Erica go to church with her dress on like that?

“Yeah…why do you ask?

“It’s on backwards?”


Sarah’s lists are actually quite beneficial.  She will often give a day by day break down, giving specific instructions for each day that she will be gone.  Not only do her lists help me to function, but they also give the children a picture of what to expect while she is gone and a way to target her return.  Often, each day will have pieces of encouragement for the family that holds her heart, to spur us on until we are reunited with her. “Mommy loves you…only 3 days left!...Don’t hit your sister!...etc…”

I think God does something similar for His people in Daniel chapter 11.  The exile to Babylon is concluding…but there is still a great deal of trouble yet to come. In fact, the Jews are about to enter into what has become known as the “silent period”…the period of about 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament. What I find to be so striking is that God is giving them some very specific instructions…pictures…encouragements…to get them through the “silent” years.  The silent years are not about God abandoning his people…they are about how God has prepared them and encouraged them as they await the great plans that He has in store for them.

We know God is still at work in these silent years…He is doing everything that He promised that He would do…but his revelation has been stopped for the moment.  Now it is up to the Jews to read and remember what God has said…and eagerly wait for the coming of the Messiah, which has been promised through the prophet Daniel.  The Jews can read and know that God will not remain silent…He will be coming again…this time, in the flesh!

When we find ourselves in times of “silence,” may we remember the promises that God has given to us in his Scriptures.  He has more to come…He is coming again…He has given us His note…His instruction…His encouragement, for us to cling to, as we await His return.

Saturday, June 22, 2019


At least once a year, I have the unfortunate privilege, of driving across the state of Wisconsin.  I don’t intend to be degrading to Wisconsin…that would be unnecessary…the Packers take care of that for me. Yet, it is because, second only to a drive across the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, eastern Montana, or Texas…it is to me the longest and most mind numbing trip that I have ever encountered. It is inevitable, with my wife having been from Michigan, that we would traverse this territory once a year or more. The trip is only 4 or 5 hours from the southern border of the adjoining Illinois, to the Minnesota border near the Twin Cities…but WOW! Does it feel like 10 hours!  In fact, one return trip in January, our navigation was 10 strong hours long, while we endured a snow storm while driving through the entire state.  Maybe Wisconsin had to wait for Minnesota to finish their plowing and then rent out the Gopher State’s equipment.  Go Gophers!

It was a bit over two years ago, when we were making a return trip home after an early summer trip.  The day was hot and our air conditioning was not functioning…at all!!  The journey had already been long…after having been stuck in Chicago traffic for 2 hours in 94 degree weather…did I mention no air conditioning? When we hit Wisconsin, I actually felt relief to be through what I thought was the worst of it…but the traffic through Wisconsin was behaving oddly.  Like the rhythm of panting lungs, the traffic would accelerate up to cruising speed…70 mph…and then suddenly come to a complete stop!  Only to do it again…and again…and again.  This had been the pattern from Beloit to Black River Falls.

I had been recently passed by two Floridians. I remember these two Floridians because they had unique license plates…one said Mathews, and one said Solocam…and to the fact that I got a REALLY close look at them!.

I remember considering their plates, while cruising in the left lane at the posted 70 mph…never a mile per hour faster…5 miles per hour faster? Yes…but one mile per hour faster? No. I thought it odd that these two Floridian plates were so closely related, thus I pondered, “I wonder if they are for the Mathews company?...or perhaps they are a family of bow hunters?...or perhaps just a crazy coincidence? many questions…”

When very abruptly the Floridian license plates began getting very close to my windshield…very quickly!

I swiftly changed my thinking from “hunting” to…“Great SCOTT!...there is no way I am going to be able to stop!” And I was right…there was no physical way to stop the car before striking their customized plate…and it was going to be bad! I did the only thing that I could do…I briskly steered left onto the shoulder of the highway…praying to avoid finding a Solocam in my teeth.  I have never had braces and really did not want to start.

As soon as I hit the shoulder the tall grass swatted at my grill and the loose gravel was pushing me further to the ditch…and the DITCH was DEEP.  I am in the perfect position to roll this van!
I had some decisions to make and I needed to make them quick! Two options came to mind. First, I could take the nose of the minivan and steer it down into the ditch.  This would prevent rolling the vehicle…but there would be no way of recovering our journey and making it home that day.  It would take a tow truck with a ¼ mile winch cable to extract us…or more likely a helicopter would have to lift us out of the swampy bottom of the ditch.

My second option was to risk rolling and pray that we could hang to the shoulder.  I chose the second…or perhaps more accurately, I chose not to attempt the first.  After 500 yards of shredding ditch hay and the grace of God, the tires secured some traction and I found the van climbing back onto the highway…right behind the Solocam. 

There were imprints of my fingers left into the steering wheel from my white knuckle death grip…sweat pouring down my head and under arms…not just from the 94 degree heat. I am thinking, “That was intense!”

I hear Sarah say, “Wow! You are an amazing driver!”

Isaac saying, “wow! That was fun!”

Hannah saying, “I thought we were going to die!”

Carissa saying, “Dad! You made me lose my colored pencil”.

Erica, waking up, and saying, “What happened? I was sleeping…what is everyone talking about? Can we do it again?...that’s not fair!”

Solocam, raised their hands through their sunroof and applauded my efforts.  As much as I would like to take full credit for my inner Dale Earnhardt, I really feel that there were angels pushing the side of our van…keeping us out of the ditch and leading us back onto the road.

Some may mock and call me crazy...that’s fine…then you have to acknowledge that perhaps I should see if Richard Petty has an opening for a driver on his team. 

I think that sometimes we believe that the spiritual realm doesn’t really exist…or perhaps only existed in the stories that we find in the Bible, but not in REAL life.  I would argue…that perhaps the spiritual realm is more “REAL LIFE”…than the life we live.  We see but one realm…our own.  Yet, if a spiritual realm is there…and we don’t see it…which is more real.  That which we see? or that which is truly there?

In Daniel chapter 10, Daniel, is gifted a very real picture of the spiritual realm.  The veil is removed, that allows him to briefly see what is going on in the spiritual realm.  What he sees is astounding! He sees angels and demons and battles and warfare! It is incredible!

Perhaps we too need to take a few moments and consider the real realm that is around us, the realm that we cannot see.  If we “could” see what is going on…I think we would see angels and demons…battling it out…for our sake! Fighting for you…and for me!

May you come to see that there is a real…spiritual realm…where God is calling his angels to fight for you and your behalf!

Saturday, June 15, 2019



I find bicycle noise quite irritating.  In fact, there are times when I will deliberately use ear buds and music to block out annoying bicycle noises…particularly, when I cannot find the source of the noise.  The obnoxious noise continued as I continued to navigate the bi-ped. This specific noise had been my bane for weeks if not months.  Every time I pump a pedal, the click and creak would resonate through my ears and whole body.  In my efforts to eliminate the sound, I had tightened my chainring bolts, replaced the chainring, tightened the cassette, secured the steer tube, lubricated the chain, tightened my hubs, cleaned and re-secured the steer tube, replaced the brakes, greased and tightened the pedals, I even went so far as to replace the bottom bracket…nothing eliminated the racket.

Every time I saddled up and rode, I would find myself listening carefully trying to identify the source of the clamor.   At one point I was bending my head down…listening intently…looking down at my chain…cassette…hubs…etc…trying to find any indicator of the cause.  When BAM…a parked car jumped right out in front of me and I ran smack dab into the backside of the small hybrid.  Who parked this car here? At this point I did what most people would do…I made it look like I knew what I was doing and that I meant to run into the back of the vehicle…while simultaneously glancing casually around to see if anyone had witnessed my embarrassing snafu.  Then, I rode away…wondering…“Why is my bike making a new ‘womp, womp, womp,’ sound?”

Here I was…extremely focused on discovering the cause of a mechanical problem, so that it could be repaired…only to miss a much bigger picture in front of me…a large white automobile! Tunnel vision is a natural response to the circumstantial elements in our lives.  When a problem arises, it is only reasonable to focus on the issue at hand.  When your wedding anniversary is speedily approaching, it is only reasonable to focus all of your energy and attention to ensure your wife’s happiness…or at the very least scramble enough to make it “look” like all of your attention has been on her for the last week and a half.  It can sometimes be beneficial to order some gifts from Amazon the day before her birthday that will never arrive in time…only to save them for your anniversary…just remember where you hid them.

In Daniel 9:20-27, as Daniel is continuing his prayer, we find God give an answer. Yet, what is perhaps most striking to me, is that while Daniel is praying about the “end of the exile,” God’s answer actually gives Daniel a much larger picture.  While Daniel’s focus and concern is on the end of the 70 year exile…God’s focus is on the 500 years to come…which will culminate in the astounding work of grace that Jesus gives us on the cross!

Daniel’s perspective isn’t bad…it is just short. God wants Daniel to see the big picture of what he is doing…offering grace to mankind!  Noises of life can often distract us from the bigger picture…whether bicycle noise, interpersonal conflicts, unfinished jobs at home or at the office.  Perhaps the next time we run into a car with our bicycle…or smash our face into a  light post as you are looking for pennies on the sidewalk, or get down about the rain on our wedding day, we can be reminded to turn off the noise and look to the great and glorious picture of grace…and a bigger picture that there is still MORE TO COME!

I replaced the chain...and he sound was gone.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

I remember standing in the garage as a child, while my dad was replacing the front brakes on his 1978 Chevy pickup.  He had lifted the front end and secured it with jack stands.  As any good father would, he told me to keep back so as not to get hurt…or accidentally kick him in the face as he crawled beneath the vehicle to inspect the ball joints.  I recall him telling me a story, as he crept along inspecting the under carriage, of a young boy who lifted a car off of his dad when the car accidentally fell on him.  I stood there pondering his story.  “Interesting timing,” I was a little freaky to think about the car falling and crushing your dad while he worked beneath. Finally, I replied, “Don’t get your hopes up…I can hardly carry the big pieces of wood to the fireplace.”

He rebutted, “Sometimes when faced with incredibly difficult challenges…we can find ourselves going beyond what we thought we were capable of.”

“Really! Like lifting a car?”

“Yep, when under stress, your adrenaline can empower you to do amazing things.”

“Wow!...What’s adrenaline?”

“It’s a hormone”

“Oh…ok…What’s a hormone?”

“You’ll find out when you’re 12.”

“Don’t get your hopes up.”

I have yet to lift a car by myself…although, 3 fellow high school wrestlers and I, did pick up my buddy Norman’s car and turn it sideways in his parking spot after school one day.  I have, however, found myself doing things that were indeed beyond what I could have expected…like singing a duet at a wedding! The father of that bride could sell ice cream to an Eskimo…because…I can’t sing…I don’t sing…my voice is like a screaming frog fighting its way out of a blender! It’s bad…really bad…yet, there I was…somehow finding myself going beyond what I thought myself capable of!

Similarly, during a recent spring day, I found myself playing basketball with Isaac and two high school freshmen.  I play basketball like a pit-bull with the jumping skills of a donut.  Yet, when I saw these two kids and the basketball, I knew that God was calling me to something beyond my own comforts.  I was convinced that I needed to submit to the leadings of the Holy Spirit and engage these students…a refugee and his buddy, into relationship. I want to love people more than I love pain free living…more than my comfortable relationships…and more than self preservation.

The Bible is filled with stories of God calling people to go beyond what they could do on their own.  Moses, leading the people out of Egypt…Gideon fighting the Midianites with only 300 men…Israel conquering Jericho…Daniel facing the den of lions…the stories go on and on.  I must wonder,  “Does God still call us to go beyond what we can do on our own?”  I proclaim the answer with an exuberant, “YES! Yes He does!”

In Ephesians chapter 2, Paul expresses to the young church in Ephesus the amazing transformation that each one of them has experienced.  A common bond existed…and still exists…each and every one of them has once been “dead in their own sin”! Now, they are alive in Christ! What is even more stunning…is that Paul is speaking to both Jews and Gentiles…racial opponents.  We too, hold to this common ground…with every man and woman who has ever lived.  We are all dead in our sins…without Jesus! 

I think that the time has come where we must see others for who they are…men and women created in the image of God…and JUST LIKE US…they are desperate for Jesus.  We need to go beyond where we are comfortable…beyond what we know…and allow Jesus to do what only He can do…save people.  Our job…is to go beyond what we can do…and let the Holy Spirit work.  We do not need to be afraid.  1 John 4:18 says, “Perfect love drives out fear.”  We can’t love perfectly…it is beyond us.  Thankfully, Jesus calls us to go beyond what we can do on our own…and by His power…love perfectly.