Saturday, September 28, 2019

Bus #76

Nearly every day of my schooling years I rode the bus to school…bus #76…at least until my older brother could drive…then I rode with him…until he put the car in the ditch…and then I rode the bus again…despite the dangers of the bus…it was still safer.

Riding the bus to school is an adventure in the cultural woes of prepubescent children.  Comparative to Daniel in the Lions…I think King Darius may have given a harsher punishment by banishing Daniel to bus #76. 

As I would step onto the “Cruel Bus” I would pray…please let there be a seat away from Glen…any seat away from Glen. Yet, it seemed to always be my bane…the only seats available, were the seats in front of…behind…and next to…Glen.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one who avoided seats in close proximity to the Cruel Bus Bully. 

My ears have never recovered from the constant flicking fingers of Glen.  In fact, I believe that my ears are still misshaped because of the incessant tweaking.

I am still missing my blue stocking cap, that was snatched from my head and thrown out the bus window on Minnesota County Rd. 6.  Keep your eyes open would you?

I attribute my 43 year old back problems to the kid kicking my seat for the 45 minutes bus ride to school.

My tongue is still scarred from the trapper keeper that was slammed in my face.

I couldn’t help but wonder…if the School Bus was indeed…the “Gates of Hell” as Jesus talked about in Matthew 16?

As I have studied that passage, I have become enamored with the richness of the text.  It is an astounding passage.  Jesus stands at the most sinful place in all of Palestine…it is bus #76 of Palestine! It is at this moment that he tells his Disciples…that he is going to build his Church…and bus #76, nor the “Gates of Hell” will be able to stand against it! (*so as to not be accused of heresy…Jesus did not actually say “bus #76”…but he might have…if he had ever ridden bus #76).

In the book of Acts…we see this promise of the coming church come to fruition! This is the tool that Jesus has designed for the world…for all mankind.  It is the Church!  He has established it!...and He will empower it!

Saturday, September 14, 2019


I went to the zoo this morning with my wife and youngest daughter.  We were served a free breakfast, and then we spent the rest of the morning watching each of the animals receive their breakfast.  The final stop on our tour of dining mammals were the bison…where my daughter was slated to hand feed the giant animals.  These creatures are indeed massive.  Some will grow to weigh more than 2000 lbs. 

I have a degree of familiarity with these great beasts.  Not only because I hunted them while traveling the Oregon Trail on the school’s Apple IIe…but also because, I grew up living next to a bison farm.  My brothers and I would ride our bikes continually up and down the dirt road adjacent to the fence that held the herd.  We had no fear of them whatsoever…as long as they were on the opposite side of the field grazing…no where nears us.  However, there were times when we would come across one of these enormous animals stationed right next to the fence.  We would skid our bikes to a quick stop and try to “read” the animal…will he walk away…or will he break through the fence and chase us down to kill us like an angry mother chasing a housefly with the swatter.  Often times, however, these bison would stand there and stare at us…and we would stare back…with our hearts fearfully pounding in our chests.  We wanted to continue on…but more times than not the bison would win…(much like the NDSU football team)…and we would turn and ride with a vengeance back to the safety of our home. 

I have many fearful memories of these massive creatures.  One morning, we woke up to one lone bison grazing in our front yard.  My dad was already gone to work and my mother wouldn’t let us leave the house…not that we needed much convincing…until after the neighboring farmer responded to her panicky phone call and collected his animal off of our front porch.

Perhaps the most memorable bison moment of my childhood was while riding to school with my mother.  We had just crested a hill and were nearing the valley below, when around a wooded corner came a massive…HERD…of bison!  All of them! Running!  As they came around the corner, they turned and ran directly toward us.  They filled the entire road way.  There was nowhere to go.  My mother hit the brakes and came to a complete stop…screaming! “AAAAHHHH” Thinking very quickly, my mother did the only thing that she could think to do…she locked the doors.  That should keep the bison from opening the car doors…

The herd split in front of us and ran around the vehicle.  It was as if we were suddenly sent back in time 100 years into the prairies of North Dakota in a covered wagon…minus the wagon…and the prairie.

After the herd had passed, my mother was still screaming, “Aaaaaahhhh!!”  Her pale white face matched the knuckles gripping the steering wheel. 

“Wow! I didn’t see that coming!”

It is perhaps one of the more incredible and unexpected events that I have ever personally witnessed.  As I arrived at school, this event was all I could talk about.  I still enjoy sharing the story. 
When we encounter something incredible…we can’t help but share the story.  I believe that Jesus wants us to encounter him in such a way…that we can’t help but be his witnesses.  In fact, Luke tells us in the 24th chapter of his Gospel account, about how Jesus told his disciples directly…they are to be his “witnesses.”  We find it again in Acts 1:8…”we are to be his witnesses.” 

Simply put…we are to share about our experiences with Christ.  That is what the church is all about…sharing our stories about Jesus with others.

May you find yourself in the story that Jesus has placed you in…and then be his witnesses…tell the amazing stories of his grace…and maybe a bison or two.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

I Had No Idea

My family and I enjoy watching American Ninja Warrior on television.  We sit and watch these remarkable athletes take to an obstacle course where they, fly through the air, run across balance obstacles and hang by their finger nails above pools of water.  Years ago, when we first began encountering the competition, I remember thinking… “You know…back in the day…maybe I could have done that.” 

Sometimes I envision myself on the course...running across the tiny steps leading to a bar hanging high above the water…I jump and grip the bar…only to have both of my arms leave my body and continue to hang from the bar while the rest of my armless torso falls into the water turning the crystal blue pool into a Kool-Aid stained whirlpool.

There is no way that I can do what I watch these athletes do.  It is not just my age.  One season we watched an old man run the course, only to lose his dentures during an untimely dismount. It is also my physical capacities…or perhaps the diminishing dexterity.

Time after time we watch new…rookie…athlete take to the course, only to report… “That is tougher than it looks…I had no idea.”

It reminds me of parenting.  I have been a father for nearly 16 years now.  You would think that after 16 years of experience, I would be an expert.  However…full disclosure…I have no idea what I am doing. 

When a couple is expecting their first child it is highly recommended that the couple attends a “birthing class”  These classes aren’t designed so much as to teach you how to “have a baby,” but rather for instructors to laugh at the soon to be parents’ ignorance and naivety. 

“Now is there a father who would like to demonstrate how to change this baby doll’s diaper? You sir…why don’t you come up and show us.” The instructor snickers.

“Who me?”

“Sure…come on up…nothing to be shy about.”


“Ummm…sir…you do know which end of the baby that the diaper goes on right???”


“Because I am pretty sure that doll can no longer breathe…This might be the time to transition into what NOT to do to your new baby.”

The instructor then begins to teach on the dangers of shaking a child and sleep deprivation and the crying and the stress of parenting as she hands out stress balls.

I remember thinking, “How can anyone get so frustrated and sleep deprived that they could actually endanger their child.” 

I had no idea!  During the first week of my firstborn’s life, I learned that I have no coping skills for a screaming baby at 3:00 a.m.

However, I learned to pretend to sleep through the crying until my remarkable wife tended to the early morning needs of our daughter. I am sorry dear…I will never do that again…as long as we don’t have any more kids.

I remember the very day that my wife and I brought our first baby girl home.  I think I even said out loud, “I have no idea what I am doing…what do we do now?”

Parenting is much more difficult than I could have ever expressed before heading into it.  I had no idea.

Likewise, I believe that there is an absolute truth about God…that we also have “no idea about.”
God is Holy.  It sounds simple enough, but I think that if we were to ever encounter God’s perfect Holiness, we would be absolutely destroyed.  Perhaps our faces would peel clean off of our skulls…or we would collapse into a puddle of plasma.  I think we have become accustomed to talking about God’s holiness…but I don’t think we truly understand his holiness. 

Take a moment and think of God.  Picture Him.  Envision Him on his massive throne.  Now…envision Him bigger...once you have that, consider…your picture of God is NOT big enough.  In fact, it can never be big enough.  As big as you think God is…he is bigger.  As perfect as you think God is…he is more perfect.  As loving as you think God is…he is more loving.  It goes on and on and on.
The prophet Isaiah briefly experienced a mere glance at God’s holiness (Isaiah 6:1-8) and couldn’t stand.  What about you?

Have you encountered the Holy God? Have you found yourself “ruined”? Have you, like Isaiah, experienced purification by His grace?

May you come to the end of yourself…and find a Holy God…giving unending grace.