Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Opponent

He and I sat opposite each other…staring one another down.  I had faced larger opponents, but perhaps none as mentally strong as this one. I could tell I was wearing him down. Yet, he was resilient, he fought on.  He had already had several near breakdowns, but ultimately, my opponent held resolute.  His face was red with exertion…and I am certain that the veins in my neck were enlarged and protruding above my crew collared shirt. 

I have spent my entire life facing difficult opponents, whether on the wrestling mat from age 5, or a difficult college professor, or the 3 year boy who opposed me that day.  It had started simple enough…a question…”Do you want your pizza cut into triangles or squares.”

I realize that some questions can overwhelm indecisive people like myself…but this young boy had already developed strong opinions.  For example, he hated potatoes, uncomfortable shirts and loose athletic shoes.  He would send his potatoes flying…his uncomfortable shirts would be thrown off…and he would pull the laces of his shoes up to his knees in efforts to keep them snug around his feet. 

The eternal struggle of triangles or squares was the most difficult decision that this 3 year old had yet faced.  He had said, “Squares.”  Thus, I cut the pizza into squares.  Once the slicing was finished, the toe jam extracting scream let loose and he cried out, “No! I wanted it cut into triangles!”

“You said squares!”


“Tough! You said squares…you got squares…now eat it!”





Sweat began to collect on my brow as I mentally wrestled with the child.  He was a tough one…a formidable foe.  We found ourselves now at a standoff, neither of us wanting to give in.

“Are you feeling hungry?”


“Then eat your pizza.”


“You are not getting anything else to eat.”

“I don’t want it!”

“Then you are going to be hungry.”

“I want to eat!”

“Then eat”

The battle may have lasted 20 minutes or more…before…as I pretended to be unaware…he snuck a bite…and then another…and another.  “There, finally” I sighed silently to myself.

“Now that you have eaten your pizza…would you like a cookie?”


“Circle…or square?”

We face opposition all throughout our lives.  Some of these opposing moments are mere superficial issues with food or the foolish man driving slowly in the fast lane on the highway.  Yet, there are times in our lives when we will face opposition that is powerful…and how we respond to these oppositions are critical.  When it comes to spiritual matters and the church…we can be guaranteed that there WILL be opposition.  The early New Testament church encountered opposition regularly.  We find an event recorded  in  Acts chapter 4, Peter and John had just healed a crippled beggar at the Temple in the name of Jesus.  Though the deed that they had done was very kind and beneficial…they are arrested and told…”You are not allowed to preach the name any more…that name of Jesus…”

When faced with the opposition…Peter and John must make a decision.  What do they do?  Obey God or obey man? In the face of opposition…they do the only thing that they can do…they obey God…yet, they do it with such grace.

May we come to see that as followers of Christ we WILL face opposition…and may we choose to do that which is difficult and obey God…with grace.

Saturday, November 16, 2019


It is the second morning of the 2019 deer hunting season.  I am laying awake in bed.  I have been awake for several minutes now.  I don't really know how long.  There are no lights on.  It is still is obvious that no one else is awake in the cabin either.  I don’t want to look at the clock because 4:30 a.m. always comes too quickly and if I look at the clock and it is close to 4:30 I can kiss any further sleep goodbye.  So I lay there awake, wondering what time it is.  I had already been up once during the night to use the little boys room.  At that point it was only 3:30, giving me one more FULL hour to sleep.  I have already dozed off at least once since then.  As I lie awake, I am a little bit surprised that my alarm has not gone off yet.

Finally, I concede to the reality that I need to check the time.  I lean over and press the button on my iphone.  The display reads, “Alarm” “5:43 a.m.” “snooze?” It takes me a moment for the reality to sink in.  Alarm?  5:43?  Hmmm…I didn’t set the alarm for 5:43…I set it for 4:30…why would it say...???  “Oh great Scott!...the alarm has been going off for an hour and 13 minutes!  It is way beyond time to wake up!"

Apparently…I had muted my phone while in the woods the previous day so as not to scare away any deer while in the woods.  It appears that I have not only succeeded in avoiding the scaring away of any deer, but of any humans as well.

This isn’t the first time that we have overslept for a deer hunt.  I remember one such morning in college, my Dad and I along with one of my friends from college, got up early, (4:30 a.m.) drove to the woods to arrive well before dawn, while it was still quite dark.  My dad turned off the truck engine…then all three of us leaned our heads back and fell asleep in the truck until 9:30 a.m. Weird how we didn’t see any deer that morning.

Every day we face the reality of wake up time.  For some of us it is very early.  For others it might be quite later…like after our Western Civilizations 101 college course.  (Note: sleeping could take place in or out of class in the previously given example).

However, beyond our physical wakefulness, there lies a deeper call to awaken.  I  believe that we are all being called to awaken to spiritual realities that we may otherwise be unaware of.  I believe that we are called to awaken to the call to salvation.  I believe we are being called to awaken to what God is doing around the world.

It is time for God’s people…each one of us to wake up to the Kingdom Realities, that God is placing in front of us.  It is time to stop laying in bed, ignoring the silent alarm and to arise and embrace the Kingdom of the Lord.

Saturday, November 2, 2019


My wife says we need new appliances. I told her, “We just got new appliances.”

She replied, “The refrigerator is 17 years old.”

“See what I mean?” I said. “Do you remember how you felt at seventeen, so young and vibrant? It is so much different than being 40. Keep in mind…you still look seventeen.  In fact, you look 13…no wait…is that too young?  You don’t look a day over…whatever age you want to be considered to be.”

“Have you looked at the ‘young and vibrant’ refrigerator?” she asked. “The freezer looks like the desolate tundra of Hoth.” (See Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back for reference).

Broken things…including appliances are one of my many nemeses. It seems that repairs are a never ending reality in the Olson home.  Recently, I have had to repair two drive axles on the vehicle, trailer lights, more trailer lights, broken window, two flat tires, garage door and the furnace. 

When it came to the furnace…I had entered a region beyond my familiarity.  Just because the furnace was beyond my regions of expertise…I was not about to back down.  However, I was going to be smart about it.  I was going to wait until my wife was gone. I usually attack jobs like this when my wife is not home.  If she were home, she would insist on challenging my knowledge with questions like, “Do you know what you are doing?” Which I reply, “What’s to know…what could go wrong?”

“Are you sure you shouldn’t just call someone?” she asks.

“They would just get in the way.”

I am pleased to say that I was able to go where no man…or woman…living in my household had previously gone…and I successfully repaired the furnace!

“Honey, I repaired the furnace!”

“Oh great!...How about the freezer?”


This is a time when I must recruit help.  I have come to realize that I will never be able to do all of these jobs on my own.  I must humble myself and “make the call.” 

“ISAAC, my son, it is time for you to learn to “go beyond” your current skill set and fix the freezer!”

“I don’t know how!”

“Exactly…today is the day you go beyond and learn!”

The Scriptures are filled with people going beyond their own capacities and abilities to do things that are way beyond themselves…people choosing to let God take them beyond what they can do…and people choosing to stay…and not go beyond.  The Gospel of Luke, reveals both.  First, you find a rich young ruler in chapter 18 who is challenged to “go beyond,” yet he stays.  Shortly thereafter, in chapter 19, we find another rich man, Zacchaeus, who does “go beyond,” and chooses to do that which the first rich man wouldn’t.

May we come to see that we are all called to go beyond.  We are called to go beyond our comforts.  We are called to go beyond our abilities.  We are called to go beyond what we currently know.  We are called to be transformed…and to spread the life transforming Gospel to all…even regions beyond.

“Hey Isaac…How is it going in there?  This is good for you…it helps you go beyond.  When you are done, maybe you can thaw yourself out and then fix the light switch.”