Saturday, October 26, 2019

Saber Saw

Just out of High School, I got a job with a local construction company, Mark Stone Construction.  My first day on the job was the first Monday after graduation.  As a senior in High School, I had spent much of my class time in the woodshop, taking such classes as Small Building Construction, Advanced Woods, Independent Woodworking, even taking an Applied Sociology in Woodworking.  It was through this vast experience that my woodworking teacher recommended me to my soon to be new boss…Mark Stone. 

As I pulled up to the job site, I noticed the big sign posted in front of the skeletal framing of a very large unfinished home.  The four foot by eight foot sign read in big red letters on a white background Mark Stone Construction.  There were trucks parked around the site. Each truck, again, stated the name, Mark Stone Construction.  There was a very large lock box that held a variety of tools that could be locked up and left on site that read, Mark Stone Construction.  I was pretty sure, I had found the right place.

I got out of my car and looked around for my new boss.  When I found him he asked, “Where are your tools?”

“Tools?” I thought…“I am 18 years old…I can’t afford tools.” But rather than confess my current state of financial unrest I said…“I left them at home.”

“Ha ha…showing up to your first day without tools…ha ha!...Well, you will have to borrow some from the truck…where is your tool belt?”

“Ummm….I left it in my locker at school.” This was true…don’t ask why…but it was.

“Ha ha! tools!…no belt!…Ha ha!...Well you better go and get it…you can take one of the trucks.  While you are out I want you to pick up a router from the shop and some donuts from the Super Value.”

“Yes sir!”

I ran and hopped into the truck and quickly sped off.  I had no idea that a saber saw was sitting on top of the side mounted tool cabinet of the truck.  I bounced along the road, heading to the high school to pick up my tool belt.  From there, I went to the shop and picked up the router, and then on to get the donuts.  As I was backing out of the parking space, I bumped into the bumper of a car behind me….this was not going well…the owner of the other vehicle saw no damage and bid me good day.  Yet, as I was pulling away I hear the man yell at me…“Hey wait you have a saber…”  I never heard the rest of his sentence as I took off again trying to make up for the embarrassment of lost time. Bedsides…I knew full well I didn’t have a sword of any kind in my possession.

I arrived back to the worksite to a crew of men, who stood in a group, awaiting my arrival. I hopped out of the vehicle ready to receive their praise for bringing the donuts…and maybe a financial reimbursement for my expenses…which I never received.  However, instead of cheers for bismarks and fritters…I hear them utter words like…“Unbelievable”…“Wow!”…”I can’t believe it is still there!”

The boss walked up to me.  I expected him to relieve me of the box of pastries…but instead he walked to the truck…pulled the saber saw from the top tool cabinet and said…“When you leave in a company truck…you will take the time to close up the truck…and remove any tools that may be sitting in precarious positions of potential destruction.  Whose name is on the side of that truck?”

“Your name, sir.”

“That is right…it is my name.  When you drive my trucks you represent me.  If a tool falls from one of my trucks it reflects on me.  If a tool falls from the truck and damages another vehicle, (I did not at this time bring up the bumper bump incident), it is my name that is affected. Whose name do you see on that sign in front of this house?”

“Yours, sir.”

“The work that we do…reflects on my name…Do you understand?”

“Yes sir…the donuts cost $7.32”

“Thank you…let’s take a break and eat.”

“But…what about the…never mind...”

In Acts chapter 3, we find a powerful story, where Peter and John are walking into the temple courts and come upon a crippled man who is begging the gate.  Peter, looks down at the man sitting there and says, “I don’t have any money,” (my 18 year old self could relate), “but what I do have, I will give you…be healed in the Name of Jesus…get up and walk.” Immediately the man is healed!

Sometimes we have taken this phase, “in the Name of Jesus,” as some kind of magic spell that empowers us to do miraculous things just by saying the phrase.  I think we miss the beauty of this phrase if our understanding stops there.  Certainly there is power in the Name of Jesus, but the power is NEVER ours…it is ALWAYS His.  When Peter heals this beggar, he is giving him a gift.  I think if there was a label on that gift it would read…To: Crippled Beggar Man.  From: Jesus. 

That is the Name.  The gift was given…in Jesus’ Name.  Peter was a mere messenger…but the gift…was a gift that Jesus gave…through his messenger.

May we come to understand that there is power in the Name of Jesus…and we are invited to represent the Name of Christ in all we do.

Saturday, October 19, 2019


As a 4th grade boy I made my way up the sidewalk toward the elementary school doors.  Overall I didn’t mind school, despite the fact that I was not the coolest kid in school.  I was the second coolest. The ranking system was rudimentary…and created by myself.  My ranking system for coolness included a mathematical equation of, bus # + height in inches divided by the number of missing teeth.  In my case that put me at a score of 131, (Bus #76 plus 55 inches…and one missing tooth). The coolest kid at the time was Mike…with a bus number of 105 and a height of 62 inches in 4th grade was unheard of! Whenever his “cool” score suffered a blow…like losing a tooth…he would simply knock out other people’s teeth…just to ensure that he would retain his high score.
I never told anyone my scoring system…so rather than them knowing I was the second coolest kid…I was seen as an “easy target.” My ears were big and easy targets for flicking…even from the most inaccurate of flickers. My legs were long…again easy targets for trippers.  They were such easy targets that I would in fact sometimes trip over my own two feet without the help of others…though I would usually blame the painted lines on the sidewalks.

On this given day…I was attacked from behind…by the coolest kid…Mike.  I didn’t even see it coming. One moment I held my books…piled high in my hands…the next moment…they had been struck and scattered across the sidewalk.  My homework papers were blowing all over the school grounds…some into the sewers…some onto the roof…I am pretty sure a dog picked up my math worksheet and carried it home to eat it.

Don’t feel sorry for me.  I know bullying is wrong…and that sympathies can grow in difficult times like this.  But at this moment one of the most special things that could ever happen to a 4th grade boy occurred. Crystal…the prettiest girl in 4th grade, stopped and helped me pick up my books and home work.  My prettiest girl rankings are not so complicated.  The prettiest girl is usually the one who looks at me.  At this moment…it was Crystal.  I am pretty sure she even chased down the dog and wrestled the papers out of its mouth.

There are times in our lives when we can feel utterly alone.  Being bullied can be one of them, and so can losing a friend.  We can feel lonely when a loved one passes.  In fact, there are many reasons that we may feel and struggle with loneliness.  It is a challenging part of life.  It is no wonder then…that God has created the church and called us into community with him and with one another.

Acts 2:42-47, gives us an amazing picture of the Church.  Every day the church celebrated together, they worshiped together, they ate together, the devoted themselves to the disciples teaching, they shared what they had with each other...they had true, transparent, authentic, community together.  The Church came together regularly to Worship, Connect and Serve.

I will tell you this…that day on the sidewalk…I celebrated the presence of the prettiest girl in school who had just helped carry my burdens…and in the midst of that…I think our hands touched.  I count that has hand holding! This may not have been true community...but I believe that true community exists...and it is driven by the Holy Spirit.

My hope is that you can find true community…I believe that it is His Church that He has chosen as the vessel to bring about His True Community.

Saturday, October 12, 2019


“Hannah get your coat on, we need to go shopping.”

“Why?” asks the 3 year old version of our eldest daughter.

“Because it is cold outside.”


“Because, it is -20°F”


“Because God, has a sense of humor.”


“Because he created your father.”


“That is a good get let’s go shopping.”


“Because we need to get food.”


“Because your dad wants to eat cookies…and we don’t have any cookies.”


“Because your dad ate all of the cookies.”


“Another good question…I guess because he has no off button.”


“Again…God has a sense of humor.”

My children…like all children, I suppose…are naturally curious. I am not always sure if it is their desire to learn that makes them ask why, or if it is just a habit that they form to express God’s sense of humor to their parents, or perhaps to test the patience of their parents.

In many ways, I continue to ask the question, “Why?”…and in doing so, I drive my wife and perhaps my parents crazy.  It wasn’t long ago I was asking my wife about music.  She is a gifted musician…and I am a gifted questioner.  I remember sitting next to her on the piano bench as she was playing, “Anne’s Theme,” I asked her…”Why do they use these notes?”

“Because that is what is written.”

“But why did they choose those notes?”

“Because that is how the song goes.”

“But why that way?”

“What?...What do you mean? What kind of question is that?”

“I mean each note…why?  Why do certain notes go ok together…and other notes don’t?”

“What do you mean?” She asked.

“Here I will show you...” I began to play the most ear blistering combination of keys any man has ever laid his fingers to…“There…like that…why did that sound so bad?”

“Because you are a terrible piano player.”…those were not her exact words…but her expression and tears running down her cheeks said it all.

I continue to wonder what it is that makes certain notes sound good with others…why specific chords fit with other chords…etc.

I am left to wonder…to me it may always be a great mystery.

In Acts 2, we find an incredible event take place. We read of the astounding power of God manifested by a violent wind and fire that proclaimed the arrival of the Holy Spirit.  People all over were asking questions…”What just happened?” “What is going on?” “Why am I encountering these people speaking in all of these different language?.” “What does this all mean?”

This is the moment when Peter stood up and encouraged all those who were present…to trust in the forgiveness of sins that Jesus has made available.  This is the beginning of the established Church.  Why did God choose the church to be his vessel of the Gospel? I guess I don’t know why…but he did…and I get to be a part of it…and so do you...if we will choose to follow Him.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

I Do Job Mom?

“I do job Mom?”

These were the words of our 4 year old boy…second born…only boy…all boy.  It is a sweet statement. Yet, if you knew him at the time, you would probably agree with my follow up thought, “Yeah, you do job! It is about time you start fixing some of the things that you break around here!”

Of course I have jobs for him to do.  The vacuum cleaner he threw down the stairs is still broken. He could repair the dime sized hole that he cut into the basement linoleum.  He could clean the stained carpet. The kitchen drawer that he ripped apart is still in pieces. There is a dent in the drywall that fits the shape and dimensions of a 4 year old boy’s head…he could fix that. 

“Yeah…I will tell you what you can d….” I am interrupted with the sweet sound of my wife’s voice…”Why sure you can do job, you sweet little boy!...Why…you can help mommy with the laundry.”

“What!? The Laundry?...What about the leaking toilet…can’t he fix that?”

That season in our lives did not last as long as we would have liked.  Now 10 years later, “I do job Mom,” has turned into, “Ugh! I have to do everything around here!”

“Isaac…it is your turn to walk the dog.”


“Isaac…I need you to take out the garbage.”

“Why is that my job?”

“Isaac…can you take out the recycling?”

“I guess…but only if I can fill up my hands super full and drop things on the way to the door and then still make you get up and come open the door for me…that way it feels like I don’t have do to it on my own.”

I remember begging my own mother to let me “help” cut the grass.  She would tuck me in front of her and let me trip over her feet as she pushed the mower back and forth.  I did the same with my kids as well.

I still have fond memories of those early years of fatherhood, when I would carry a big heavy box out to the garage…and Isaac wanted to help.  I would allow him to take one corner…and carry a total of zero pounds…in fact, he would often make the job more difficult by either tripping over my feet or even hanging from the said box. 

That is the picture I have when it comes to ministry.  Me hanging from a box…trying to “help” God do…what only He can do.  Acts chapter 1 and 2 begin to show this truth.  God’s power…and only His power being manifested.

Why did my mom let me “help” cut the grass? Why did I let the kids “help” me cut the grass? Why did I let Isaac “help” me carry the box? Why did Sarah let a 4 year old “help” fold the laundry?  It is love.  Does God really “need” my “help”?  I don’t think so.  He doesn’t “need” me…but he “wants” me.  He loves me.  He “wants” you…because he loves you.  That is the ministry of the Gospel…that is the power of the Gospel….that is the power of the Holy Spirit.  All we can do…is follow Him…as He does.