Monday, December 23, 2019

No Thanks...I'm Good

I woke up early and went to the bait store.  I walked in and said, “I would like one scoop of the crappiest minnows you have.”

“You mean that you want a scoop of crappie minnows?”

“Yes…that’s what I said.”

“No…you tried to make a bad joke based on a crappie pun.”

“Oh…well…how about some night crawlers too, and some 2 cycle oil.”

I finished buying the bait and the oil as well as some snacks and lemonade and I headed home to prepare the boat.  I set up the seats, gathered the rods and the tackle.  I loaded the life jackets and minnow bucket, and hitched up the trailer to the truck.  I then went inside to gather the last item that I needed to collect.

“Erica! I have everything ready! I am taking you on your first fishing trip today!”

This had been the tradition with the other three children.  When they were around the age of 3 or so, I would take them on a “one on one” fishing trip to catch their first fish.  The excursion would not end at the catching of the first fish…it would continue as I would bring the fish home…cut it up…cook it and make the child eat it…on a Nemo plate. 

I was so excited to take my fourth born and head out to a local lake that day.  I fully expected that we would stuff our faces with pretzels, chips and lemonade and I would see how excited she would be to catch her first fish.

“Sarah! Where is Erica?”

“I think she might be down in her room.”

“Erica! Are you so excited? Do you want to go on your first fishing trip today?”

“No thank you…I’m good.”


“Yeah…I don’t really want to go…I want to play with my dollies.”

“Really?  Are you sure? You don’t want to go fishing? Just you and me?”

“No thanks…I’m good.”

“…umm…ok…I guess…”

I don’t think she realized what was being offered.  She told me no.  I didn’t take her fishing that day.

I am struck with a spiritual parallel.  Just as Erica, perhaps, did not fully understand my offer, I am not sure we often understand what God is offering to us. It was an offer of love to her.  Likewise, God gives to us an offer of love. We speak a lot about God’s love.  I have come to believe that every concept that I have, of the love of God, falls short of its true depth…its power…its amazing fullness.
In fact, for years, when offered this reality of God’s love…my response was, “No thanks…I’m good. I think I can save myself…I think I can be good enough.  I think I can get everything I want or need out of life on my own…I don’t need or want what you are offering.”  All the while, not realizing what he was offering, and how incapable I was…how incapable I am…of saving myself.

Of all the promises that God made…and kept…The giving and receiving of his love is perhaps the most incredible one to me.

God has always been love…and now…at Christmas…he gives us the picture of just what that love is…he sends his Son…to take our place.

Saturday, December 21, 2019


We all know it, though most of us would rather not admit it.  We know that living life brings about a litany of mistakes.  These mistakes precede many of life’s most important lessons.  Lessons like, the thermometer with the black electrical tape attached, is to be used only on your baby sister and does not belong in your mouth. 

It seems to me that Hand Foot and Mouth is not an appropriate name for its assigned illness.

Mistakes can teach us what NOT to say…next time.  “Grandpa…I think you are like God!”

“Why…what a nice thing to say!...what makes you say that…my now favorite grandson?”

“You are both REALLY OLD!!!”

“I might re-think that "favorite" comment I spoke just a moment ago.”

I stood on the bumper of my dad’s 1978 Chevy pickup truck.  The hood was up and the two cell caps were off of the battery.  He held a gallon of distilled water in one hand and a small yellow funnel in the other.  I was peering down into the six holes that were exposed on top of the battery.  I was curious about what he was doing.  But rather than asking, I dipped my six year old finger into one of the exposed battery cells, while my dad’s back was turned…drew out my wet finger and sucked on it.

My dad turned back to the job at hand and said, “Don’t drink that.”


“It’s battery acid, it will destroy your clothes and eat your face off.”

“Oh…I’ll be right back…”

I ran into the house and rinsed my mouth out for a full 15 minutes…until the burning stopped.

I don’t think I will do that again…food hasn't tasted the same since.

In college I went on a double date with a friend of mine.  I brought one of my buddies and she brought her friend who was visiting from Oklahoma.  She and her family were staying at a local campground…Sunny Brook Park.  As we pulled in to drop her friend off after the date, the words just came out…“Sunny Brook Park…it sounds like a mental institution!”

“Ha, Ha, Ha.” My buddy laughed

“What are you crazy?”

“Ha, Ha, Ha.” My buddy laughed.

As we dropped this kind girl off, my friend who had brought her, punched me on the shoulder…”What is wrong with you!!!”

“What!?...What did I say?” I asked.

“She was just discharged from a mental health treatment facility!!”


If there was ever a time when I wanted to take back my words…this was one of them.  Truthfully…I have more moments in my life, where I would like to take back my words, my actions, or my mistakes, than I could ever count.  I am a walking tragedy of errors.  I have a perpetual need for a “redo.”

I love the reset button and use it often.  I reset our home router, my computer, my “not so” smart phone, the breaker on my table saw and more. 

We all need a reset…every one of us.  We need it. The mistakes we have made cannot be taken back.  The words we have said are out there…like a bullet that cannot be recalled...they have gone out and done irreparable damage.  I need a fresh start.  I need a restart. 

Perhaps the biggest mistake that we can make in life…is to believe that we do not need a restart.  God is clear throughout the scriptures…that he has offered us an opportunity…to start again…to begin again…to be born again.  Our past lives don’t disappear…rather…the future is changed and we are born into a new life with him.  We are born into a future with him. In John chapter 3 we find a religious leader who learns this very lesson, when he talks directly to Jesus and Jesus tell him…”You must be born again.”

Jesus tells this religious leader…that he needs a fresh start.

Perhaps it’s time for us to realize that we need a fresh start. We need to be born again. If we have…then rejoice with the freshness of that new life!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Price Match

I walked into a local department store and approached the Customer Service Counter.

“Hello sir, how may I help you?”

“Do you price match?”

“Yes, we do…what are you looking to match?


“Oh…I see…you have already purchased the item.”


“Well…Where did you buy it from?”


“Excuse me?”

“I bought it from here.”

“So, you want us to match the price of our own product.”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“Well…let me check…hmmm…let’s see…It appears that the item that you are desiring to match is now on clearance sale…so I am sorry…no…we cannot match the price.”

“Can you adjust the price?”

“No, we cannot…I am sorry.”

“Ok then…I would like to return this.”

“You want to return it?”


“Is there anything wrong with it?”

“No…remember I wanted you to adjust the price.  I wanted to keep it…but at a lower price.”

“So, now you want to return it?”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“Sure we can do that…that will be $7.50 back on your card.”

“Thank you.”

“Anything else I can do for you?”

“Yes…could I buy that?”

“Buy what?”


“But you just returned it…”

“Yes I know…could I buy it back?  Re-purchase it? Redeem it?

“I guess…”


“That will be $6.98.”

“Let’s put it on the card.”

“There you go sir…have a nice day.”

“Thanks…you too.”

Redemption is a seldom experienced, yet powerful occurrence once encountered.  There are stories of tragic events where children have been kidnapped and held for ransom…Adam Walsh and the Lindbergh baby come to mind...times when something is stolen and a payment is demanded for its safe return.  Years ago, someone had stolen the gas tank out of my small fishing boat.  I received no ransom note, yet I had to go and buy another one.  Sadly for me, the tank I needed was only manufactured from 1955-1958. This didn’t fit with my overly frugal mindset.

The Bible is filled with stories of redemption.  In Exodus, we find God re-purchases his people from slavery to the Egyptians.  They were already his people…but he still redeems them.  He frees them.  He sets them free.  Ruth is a widow who finds herself poor and alone.  The man Boaz, “purchases” her by marrying her…to provide for and love her.  The Prophet Hosea loses his wife to an adulterous relationship that she has with another man.  Hosea, actually has to pay the man 15 shekels to get his wife back.

All of these stories, and more, point to an incredible truth…they all paint a picture…they foretell of a promise that God will fulfill through his Son, Jesus.  He will buy mankind back to Him.  Jesus will pay the ransom with his own blood.  We will be redeemed by the blood of the lamb.

This Christmas…may you celebrate the fact that God has paid a price that was meant for you to pay. You have been redeemed.

Saturday, December 7, 2019


We arrived early, while there was still plenty of daylight left.  I opened the back of the silver minivan and removed the radio flyer wagon, at which time, three of my four children removed their fold-able camping chairs…placed them in the wagon…and then climbed into the wagon.  My wife picked up the youngest child and carried her while I strapped two camping chairs to my back and shoulders and pulled the loaded radio flyer up the hill.  The next three blocks must have been torture for my poor children…because all I heard were their complaints about the bumps…the crowdedness…how slow I was going and each other’s bad breath. 

“Do you want to walk and pull this wagon up this hill?”

“No…but can you go faster?  I am tired of riding…”

Ok…that didn’t seem to quite sink in.  We arrived at the top of the grassy knoll…no not that grassy knoll…and set up our chairs.  We all sat down and waited.  As the sky grew darker and darker, my eager children kept begging for the event to start.

“It will start when it’s dark.”

“Is it dark yet?.”

“Does it look dark?”


“No, it is not dark yet…at least…not dark enough.”

“How about now?”



“Yes…it should start soon.”


The sky lit up and the sound resonated with the echoing resonating noise.  My two youngest children both began to cry…”I’m scared.”

“Scared!?  This is what we came for…this is why we are here!”

“I don’t like it…can we go home?”

“NO!!! Absolutely not!”

The fireworks continued for the next 20 minutes or more, ending in a ruckus of chaotic sparks, lights and bangs.

When the fireworks finished, we made our way back to the silver minivan…loaded up the chairs and the wagon…and started the engine.

“Hmmm…that’s curious…the dash lights aren’t working.”

“Just go! The headlights are on…we can go!...Go go go! Before we get stuck in all of this July 4th traffic!”

“Ok! Ok! We are going.”

We swiftly made our way out of the city and pointed ourselves south onto the highway.
I used the dome light to see the speedometer and then set the cruise, and on we went.
Everyone who was passing us…was honking and curiously seemed angry.  Perhaps they were the ones sitting behind our squirly crying children during the fireworks.  People flashed their lights at us on their way by. Some stuck their faces out their windows like a young beagle to shout things at us as puttered along.  After about 25 miles I decided that I had better check it out.  I pulled the vehicle to the side of the road and walked to the back and saw that there were absolutely no lights working on the rear of the vehicle.  “Oh!” I thought, “That is why the dash lights weren’t working…that makes sense.”

Apparently, somewhere along the journey a fuse had been blown and now we had no lights to reveal the backside of our vehicle or dash lights to tell us how fast we were going.  There is only one way to repair this issue…replace the fuse.  The problem was, that I was out on the highway and I did not have any extra fuses.  We did the only thing any sensible American male with a van load of kids could do…we drove on.

When a fuse breaks, whether it is in your home or in your vehicle, there is always only one solution.  The fuse must be replaced.  Every year as Christmas approaches I remember an amazing story of replacement that never gets old for me.  In fact, it continues to resonate stronger and stronger, it seems, every year.  It is more than a Christmas story, it is a Gospel story. You might think that I am referring to the story of the birth of Christ…which is only partially accurate.  The story that I remember is the story of Abraham and Isaac…where a picture is painted of a coming sacrifice…a story that promises a “replacement.” As Abraham is about to sacrifice his son Isaac…God says “stop!” and then provides a replacement.  God provides a ram instead of his son.  Then we come to the Christmas story…where God provides His Son…as a replacement for us.  Like a blown fuse that has left us in the dark…unless something is replaced…we are out of luck.  When I think of how Jesus to our place…I am out of words.