Saturday, February 29, 2020


I remember when my dad would go off every fall for the annual deer hunting season. On those Saturday’s, while he was up north sitting in a tree waiting for Bambi to walk by, I would gather up my toy rifle and head outside into the cold morning. I would take my winter parka and turn it inside out to reveal the orange interior, pull an orange hat over my head and climb my favorite tree and wait. It took about 3 minutes and 35 seconds until I was bored…at which time I would go in for hot cocoa. I wanted to do what my dad was doing.

I used to take my “He-Man” action figures…all of which had muscles on their earlobes…and make a “weight bench” for them out of my erector set.  I would take the big, black, thick wheels of the erector set and make it look like these muscle bound plastic men were bench pressing 405lbs.  Why…because I watched my dad lift weights regularly.  I made triceps pulley machines, pull up bars, squat racks and as many other gym paraphernalia that I could conjure up.

When my dad was working on the house, I would take all the scrap boards I could find and cut them up and drive all kinds of nails though them. Why…because I wanted to do what he was doing.
Why did I yell at my siblings for destroying my stuff? Because my dad yelled at me for cutting up and driving nails into all of the lumber that he was using to build the trusses for the house.

I have video of my own son pushing his bubble making lawn mower behind me as I cut the grass on a sunny summer afternoon. Why…because he wanted to do what I did.
When I would sit on the sofa and play my guitar…he would go and grab his own guitar and sit next to me to do what I was doing.

My young son would follow me wherever I would go.  He would follow me through the aisles of the grocery store. One time he followed me into the Napa Auto Parts store and the parts dealer gave him and I, each a free Napa hat.  After that, when I would wear that hat, I would find him heading for his closet to put his own Napa hat on.  Oddly, he seems to now want to avoid following my fashion trends…huh?…what’s wrong with wearing shorts, winter boots and a parka?

During one Sunday morning, he was following me all over the church building.  However, what he didn’t realize is that he had lost sight of me and as he came up and grabbed hold of “my leg”…it wasn’t “my leg.” It was the leg of a handsome, young former student of mine…it is easy to see how he could make that mistake. 

We are all following someone.  Who we follow matters.  In Acts 8:26-40, we find Philip.  He is being led away from where he had been in Samaria…to a desert place…for a divine appointment.  Despite the fact that Philip is an early church leader…he is at heart a follower.  He is a follower of Jesus.  He goes and does what Jesus leads him to do.  It is in Philip’s willingness to follow Jesus into this incredible divine appointment that the Gospel goes out to the “ends of the earth.”

Who are you following?

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Lecture

He sat next to me on the bus seat.  My brown paper lunch bag sat between the two of us.  I loved this little guy. He was wildly popular with most of the 2nd grade boys.  Despite the fact that he wore a purple helmet, had a hook for an arm and skull and crossbones as a belt buckle, he was still my favorite. Perhaps what made him so cool was the little eyelet on his helmet and the bear trap jaw attached to his face.  In the He-Man Universe his name was Trap Jaw and he was a bionic man…half man and half machine.  His hooked right arm could be swapped out with weapons, like hooks, claws and laser canons.  I remember taking some of my mother’s thread and running it across my bedroom…threading one end through the eyelet on his helmet and letting him zip line safely onto my bed pillow. 

I had brought him to school with me that day for show and tell.  His popularity quickly elevated my own popularity into the “acceptable for today” status.  Before the luxury of updating our own status on Facebook, we used to have to rely on the status assigned to us by others.  However, by bringing cool things in for show and tell, one could elevate their status quickly.  One time I brought in a yo-yo with some sharp edges cut into the edge to be used as a weapon…(just be sure to wear gloves)…I quickly reached “super cool” status until Mrs. Tucker took it away and it disappeared forever in the cesspool of her bottom left desk drawer. 

As the bus approached the bus stop, I put Trap Jaw into my empty lunch bag so that I would not forget him or lose any of his “attaching implements.” The bus stopped and I hopped off…I did not realize that I had left my lunch bag sitting on the seat.

That was the last day I saw be treasured and beloved Trap Jaw.  I told my parents about my devastating loss, while I fought back the tears.  My dad was super helpful in my time of distress as he said to me, “I think it is about time that I give you a lecture.”

This was great! As he began to go on and on, endlessly sharing his thoughts, I spent my time wondering, “What is a lecture…and how does this help me get my treasure back.”
But as the tireless speaking continued, I came to realize that a lecture must be a “distraction from our problems!”

“Wow! Thanks Dad! That was super distracting…I wasn’t even thinking about Trap Jaw during that long winded speech...We should keep this lecture thing in mind the next time I haven't done my homework...and i am worried about what the teacher will could give me a lecture...and I could forget all about my worrying!"

I never did receive a replacement for Trap Jaw, but that doesn’t really matter. I have found many other things in life to “treasure,” cars, bikes, guitars, baseball card, etc.  I think that “treasures” might be one of the big challenges in our human nature and one of the greatest distractions to the Gospel.

The Gospel is the single greatest treasure the world has ever seen…and yet we tend to hold other things as having a greater value.  Perhaps, we “do” hold the Gospel to the great value that it is…yet, we often tend to believe that we have to somehow earn the Gospel treasure.  We can’t.  The Gospel cannot be purchased.  You cannot afford it.  There is nothing you have that is worth more.  There is nothing that you have that could earn it for you.  It has already been purchase…by the only one who could actually afford it.  Jesus.

Acts 8:4-25, presents a wonderful narrative.  We find that this treasured Gospel has spread outside of Jerusalem and is now being spread in Jerusalem.  There is a man there…a magician…who tries to quite literally…buy the power of the Gospel. Peter confronts him with the truth…which is where I think we need to find ourselves.  Here is it…the Gospel…standing before us…what will we do? Repent? Believe? Accept? Or, will we default to un-acceptance…or needing to “earn” it? What will it take for us to understand and believe?

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Hypothetical conversation #592

“Good morning, Sally.”

“Well, good morning Ruby!…Boy!?…Did you not sleep well last night? You look awful.”

Awkward silence.

“I slept really well actually…thanks for asking.”

“Oh…are you feeling sick?”

“No…I feel fine.”

“You look sick.”

“Thank you…I actually feel fine…in fact, I feel really good!”

16 minutes later.

“Are you sure you are feeling ok? You really don’t look good.”

“YES!...I feel just fine.”

Quiet Tension

“Did you put on any make up this morning?”


“You just don’t look good.”


“Your eyes look dark…do you feel tired?”

“NO!...I don’t feel tired.”


“NO!...I do NOT feel hungry.”

“Did you and your husband have a fight?”

Not so quiet tension

“No!...I don’t see how that is any of your business anyhow!”

“Did you take your temperature before you came in to work?”

“No…I didn’t need to…I feel fine.”

“Do your feet hurt? It looks like your feet hurt.”


“Is your back bothering you? You look like you are in pain.”


“Do you have a headache?”


“You don’t look good…would you like me to make you some chicken soup?”

“No…I think I am just going to go home early…I am not feeling very good…”

“I KNEW IT!!!”

It is likely, in our hyper sensitive culture, that we have offended someone…or have been offended. Perhaps it is even likely that we have offended…or been offended, this past week…or even today.  It seems like someone is always offended. It is possible that we, ourselves, feel that the world is against us…and that everyone is looking to kick us in the nose and throw us to the curbside in hopes of having us be washed down the gutter.

What do we do with these offenses? I see about three options.

1. Lash out and return the offense.
2. Do nothing…right now…let the offenses build…and then lash out and return the offense.
3. Forgive.

I find shortest answer, number 3, to be the toughest answer.  We often will only choose to forgive, when we know that the other person is:

A. Truly repentant
B. Has suffered enough penance
C. By forgiving it somehow makes us look better

I think true forgiveness, however, is bigger…true forgiveness is deeper.  I think true forgiveness is a supernatural act.  In Acts 6:8-8:3, we find an incredible story of one of the very first martyrs of the early church…Stephen.  When he is preaching the truth of the Gospel, he is attacked and killed with flying paving stones…his final words are astounding…“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Who does that!? Who prays for his attackers…asking for their forgiveness? That is supernatural. That is powerful. That is forgiveness.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

I don’t care

I, along with about 100 million other people sat down to watch the Kansas City Chief defeat the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday.  As football games go, it was a decent game.  Yet, despite the quality of the game, I had trouble getting very excited about any aspects of the event. There was really only one outcome that I was desperately hoping for…a tie score at the end of regulation…because if the game were to go into overtime…everyone in America would get free wings from Buffalo Wild Wings.  Unfortunately, it became apparent that as the game neared its finality, chicken wings were not going to be a part of my future. 

What was my deal? Why the apathy? I guess the bottom line is…I just didn’t care.  I didn’t really care if the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes win or if the 49ers come out on top.  I didn’t really care if Andy Reid finally wins a Super Bowl. I didn’t care about Katie Sowers’ time in the spotlight.  Nothing against any of them…sorry world…I just didn’t care.  I didn’t care if or how many touchdown’s Jimmy Garapolo would throw.  In fact, Jimmy could crack corn and I wouldn’t care. It’s just a football game, and so I think I have license to not care…granted…if the Minnesota Viking had played??? I likely would have cared too much.

What do we care about? What makes us passionate about things in life?  Is it just a purple uniform? I care about my wife and children, as I would hope most people would. I care about my siblings…but that hasn’t always been the case.  I can’t adequately express the inner pleasure that I would feel as a child, causing my little brother pain.  When he would irritate me and approach me with that little smug, “You can’t touch me or I will tell Mom, expression,” I would lie wait ready to attack him with the jawbone of a dead cat. 

“Ouch! I am bleeding! I’m  telling Mom!”

“I don’t care! You deserve it…you wouldn’t stop ‘looking’ at me…and then you crossed the imaginary line in the back seat of the car!”

It was the same with my sister.  “Mom! Ryan cut the hair of my Barbie!”

“Bwa haha…Mom’s not hear! Now I will lock you in the basement.”

She sobbed and cried…but I didn’t care.

But I do now.  I remember my younger brother having a tough stretch in college.  He was enduring car trouble, people trouble, financial trouble and likely more.  I cared.  I wanted to do something, so my wife and I put together a simple package of delicious goodies, useful supplies and a check to help him out and we mailed it to him.

My sister and her husband have trying to adopt 3 beautiful foster children that have been in their care for over a year now.  I care that she is frustrated with the legal challenges. I care that her heart is sometimes heavy and sometimes hurts. 

My older brother?...He can care for himself.

I care when my kids are emotionally hurt. When they are physically hurt…not as much…they can take a deep breath, rub some dirt on it and get over it. But, emotionally?…I seem to care a little bit more about that. I care when my wife carries the heavy burdens that only I know that she carries.
I care about how people are treated in our community.  That is not always the case.  Sometimes I distance myself from caring.  Sometimes it is easier to choose to not see.  In Acts 6:1-7, we find the early church in a moment of not fully caring.

The church in Jerusalem was growing and it was still primarily made up of all Jews.  However, some of these Jews grew up in a Greek culture (Hellenistic), and many were true Hebraic Jews…holding to all of the ancient traditions of the Hebrew people. It comes to the Apostles attention that the Grecian Jewish widows are not being cared for. There is prejudice against them because they are not “true” Hebrew Jewish Christians.  They are ALL followers of Christ! The Apostles see this issue…and they care…with everyone’s input, they select 7 men…to care.  These are the people who will help ensure that people in the church will be cared for…while the Apostles continue to care for the spiritual needs…these 7 will help care for the physical needs.  BOTH…are to be evident in the church.

What do you care about?

Saturday, February 1, 2020


Statistics show that children under the age of 10 ask questions every four minutes.  “Why is the sky blue?” “What are you doing?” “Where are my Legos?” “What are you doing?” “Can I eat lunch?” “What are you doing?” “What are we having for lunch?” “I don’t like that, can I have something else?” “Are we there yet?” “How much further?” “Can we have pizza?” “What are you doing?” These questions go on and on, until parents finally come to the end of their rope and scream “Calgon! Take me away!” But no magic music is suddenly played and the bathroom remains as un-elegant and messy as it was before the magical phrase.  The best that can be done is for parents to lock themselves into the bathroom and sob from exhaustion, while listening to a little fist bang on the door asking, “Mom, when are you going to come out of there?” “Can I have a cookie?” “Is it bad if I just swallowed a marble?”…

Up until the age of 10, children will ask their questions to their parents, after that, Google becomes a primary source of authority for relevant answers.  In either case, we look to authorities for direction during life’s most challenging moments.  We often don’t like to admit it, but we all have authorities in our lives.  Teachers, parents, doctors, government leaders, law enforcement officers, military professionals, all take on roles of authority in our lives. 

These authorities demand and mandate certain actions from us.  Bosses will control our work and our productivity.  Parents will mandate our bedtimes and household chores. Police officers and lawmakers will mandate our civil responsibilities, like speed limits and whether or not we are allowed to walk across the White House lawn.  TSA agents mandate that we cannot bring the melted king size candy bar that has melted in our pocket and is now considered a liquid or a gel onto the plane.  Teachers mandate that we do our school work…turn it in on time…and stop distracting others.

There are times in our lives, where authorities may demand that we work towards something that we know is not right.  We find an example of this in Acts 5:12-42.  The followers of Christ are doing what they know is right…what they know to be the will of Jesus…because Jesus told them so in Acts 1:8.  The name of Jesus is being proclaimed…continually.  But…there is a problem…the spiritual leaders…the Jewish authorities are against them…so much so that they are threatening the very lives of these believers.  What will these Gospel speakers do? They submit to authority.  At first they submit to the Jewish authorities, but when they are commanded to go against Jesus’ words, something changes.  Now they submit to a greater authority.  They submit to THE AUTHORITY. God himself…Jesus Christ…the Holy Spirit…and they are punished for it.

What authorities do we submit to? Do we submit to the authorities of our peers’ expectations?...or, our boss’, parents’, teachers’? We should submit to the authorities in our lives…until we have the choice to choose them over THE AUTHORITY.

“Sarah, what’s for supper?” “Where is my hammer?” “Is supper ready?” “I don’t like that…can we have pizza?” “What are you doing with that broom raise above head like a baseball bat?” “Why did you lock yourself in the bathroom?...”