Saturday, September 26, 2020


Each morning is about the same.  My alarm goes off at the same time every morning.  The first thing I do is turn on the coffee maker. My breakfast includes any one of about 4 varieties. I ensure that the kids are awake at about the same time every morning.  Then, I listen to the children fight over hogging the bathrooms, the cereal, the bread, the chips, and then, while keeping my social distance, I watch as these encounters crescendo into a chorus of “Are you ready?” Usually, responses begin to echo with “Yes”, or “Almost”…which really means…“I don’t have my folder signed…I have not yet made a lunch…I can’t find my shoes…Mom, where did YOU put MY glasses…Where is my coat…Why do I need a coat…I don’t have time to walk the dog…hurry! We are going to be late!”

Once my children arrive at school,  I will, occasionally, receive a phone call or a text…“I forgot my instrument…can you bring it?…I forgot my ipad, can you bring it?...I forgot my coat, can you bring it?

I have delivered a flute, a clarinet, a trumpet and a saxophone to school using my bicycle…my youngest daughter is about to take up the tuba…A TUBA!!!

“Are you ready for school?” I asked.

“Yep…pretty much.”

“Has your folder been signed?”

“Oh wait…no…can you sign it?”

“Do you have your instrument?”

“Oh wait…it’s in my room.”

“Time to go.”

“Oh wait…I can’t find my shoes.”

“So what exactly does ready look like?”

That is a great question.  I remember my own childhood ready woes.  It was the same thing every morning.  My alarm would go off…and continue to buzz, until my mother woke me up…twice.  Then, I would get dressed, throw a piece of toast in my mouth, cram to finish my math assignment and history reading from the previous night…my crescendo would arrive in a scramble and scream when the bus would surprise me by its arrival…“EEEK! THE BUS!!! exactly 7:21 a.m…EVERY MORNING!

You would think that one of two things would happen.  #1. I would stop being surprised by the arrival of the bus at exactly the same time, every day….or #2. Through some strange cosmic event, the bus would arrive at an unexpected time…earlier, or later…but it didn’t. It arrived like clockwork.  I knew when it would come…and, yet, it felt like I was never ready.

What about our spiritual lives?  If you are a believer in Jesus and the Bible…are you ready? If you are not a believer…are you ready?  Are you ready for the possibility that the Bible is true and things are happening just like the Bible predicted? As I have watched the world change faster in the last 6 months than I have ever seen before, I have come to ask myself that question over and over again.  Am I ready? What does that even mean? If I really believe that Jesus is who He said He is…and I believe that the Bible is true, then I need to be ready. He says He is coming back.  Jesus gives us “signs” to look for.  I believe that I see some of them. 

I must be ready…but am I?

Are you ready?

Read Matthew 24. 

Do you see the signs?

Are you ready?

Saturday, September 19, 2020



In 1980, my parents took my brothers and soon to be sister from Minnesota to Panama City, Florida to visit my aunt. Though I was only 4 years old, I find that I have a great deal of memories from that trip.  (Some can be found in blog post “Chevette” March 2, 2019). I remember the inhale a breath felt like drinking boiling water. During our time in Florida, I recall spending one day at a reptile zoo.  At one point, after watching the alligators snap at pokers by the alligator tamers, my father picked me up and placed my entire body into the hollow mouth of a giant concrete snake. Having been completely overtaken by fright, I desired to run from the serpent’s rocky jaws screaming.  However, fear had paralyzed me. I became convinced that the faded, cement critter would spring to life and eat me.  I don’t know what I feared more…the snake coming to life…or sliding deep into the hollow concrete body of the beast, never to be seen again.  After my parents snapped their precious picture…they pulled me out…leaving 2 square feet of freshly melted flesh onto the hot, stone reptile.

I remember going to the ocean…ok, technically the Gulf of Mexico…but really…what’s the difference. I was enamored by the white sand, I would pick up handfuls and let it sift through my fingers…it was so fine and smooth and felt like pillows of sugar…but less sticky…and less tasty.  

“Dad the water feels greasy!” I said.

“It’s salt water.”

“Blah…they should have made it sugar water instead…”

My older brother and I played in the shallows while my mother watched us closely, to ensure that we did not venture too far out.  Little did she know…that was not going to be a problem.  I had already developed a healthy fear of drowning, deep water, and sharks…not to mention the giant waves that were crashing on the shore were locking in my perpetual fear of death.

The greatest moment of fear came when my dad took my older brother and me in his arms and began trudging through the foamy shoals. The water got deeper and deeper.  I watched the water creep up to his knees…his waist…and then nearly up to his chest.  This was the depth of danger…the point where the massive waves were breaking.  This is it…my dad was finally going to do what I knew he had in mind, (since I had watched Jack Nicholson flip out in the film adaptation of Steven King’s, “The Shining”)…my brother and I were goners.  Apparently, a conspiracy had developed between my parents…my dad would take my brother and I to our deaths…while my mother stood on the shore…taking pictures. 

My dad stood looking out to sea…holding us…apparently waiting for a really big wave.  When he spotted it…he turned around…tucked my brother and I next to him and crouched lower into the greasy water…waiting for the wave to break right over our backs. 

Just as the wave was about to hit, I looked back…panicked…and sprung from my dad’s grasp and attempted to sprint back to shore.  My mother’s perfectly timed photo, shows my dad and brother smiling as the wave of death broke over them.  I was not in the picture…I was under water…dying.

What I didn’t realize is that there was protection being offered.  It was in my father’s strong arms…and not in the violent sea…alone.  Somehow…perhaps, it was Jack Nicholson’s fault…I had come to believe that I was safer on my own.  I was wrong. 

In Acts 18, we find Paul has moved on to Corinth.  Paul is once again being persecuted and “abused.” It is at this point that God does something really powerful.  God tells Paul…that He will protect him…He promises that Paul will not be harmed.  Despite the verbal and physical attacks around him…God provided Paul with a divine protection.  Interestingly, Paul still experienced many struggles and challenging persecutions.  In fact, he eventually died in Rome at the hands of the Romans. Yet, God protected Paul.  God guarded him and watched over him.  Though Paul suffered at many times, God guarded Paul’s heart, his ministry and his path…and while in Corinth, Paul received divine protection…in the arms of his Savior.

May we find ourselves in the protecting arms of Jesus…and release our belief that our protection comes from our own efforts…especially, in our current cultural climate.  May Jehovah Shamar—God our Protector, guard your heart and life as you find protection in Him.

Saturday, September 12, 2020



After purchasing my items at the local Walmart, I began walking to the exit.  As I passed by the Walmart Optical, I heard a lady’s voice, “Oh hello! How are you doing?”

Startled…I turned and looked.  Seeing a, roughly, 60 year old lady in a white lab coat, I replied, “I am well...”  Though I had no idea who this lady really was I reciprocated the question, “How are you?”

“I am good…is it nice outside?”

“Yes…a little chilly…but nice.”

“How are the wife and kids?”

“Ummm…We are all doing well…thanks for asking.”

I could not duplicate this question because…well…I knew absolutely nothing about her!

“Tell Sarah hi for me,” she said.

“Ok, I will.”

Upon returning home, I mentioned the encounter to Sarah and asked, if or how she knew the lady.

“I have no idea who you are talking about.” She answered.

I endured similar encounters every time I walked by the Walmart Optical.  After several encounters I was able to learn her name…from her name tag…but, it was one of those names that I couldn’t be sure of the pronunciation…so I continued to refrain from calling her by name.

On one of these meetings, Sarah and I were walking by the eye center and the lady stepped out and saw my very pregnant wife and practically screamed. “Oh!!! You did not tell me this!!!”

I stood there thinking one thing…“I DON’T EVEN KNOW YOU!”

But instead I said, “Oh…I didn’t?”

The conversation continued with questions about due dates and names and children and grandchildren…until we finally broke it off and walked to the car. 

Sarah asked me, “Who was that?”

“I have no idea!”

“Well, she certainly seems to know you.”

She was right…she did seem to know me…at least some of the basics.  Yet, did she truly know me? Did she know what I like and don’t like? Did she know the deeper parts of me…probably not.

In Acts 17, Paul has an encounter with a number of Greek philosophers and leaders. These are people who know religion.  In the city of Athens at the time, there would likely have been more than 70,000 idols and statues of a variety of Greek gods…Zeus, Prometheus, Athena, Poseidon, etc… It is in this interaction that Paul points to one idol in particular.  It is an idol that pays homage to the “Unknown God.”

 What is striking to me is that the Greeks are worshiping a god that they do not know, but in the Bible we find a God that is “known.” In fact, He wants to be known…He has made Himself known. If that is not mind blowing enough…He then tells us…that He “knows” us.  The God of the universe…can be known…has made Himself known…and knows us…intimately and personally.

We can “know” Him…and He has a name…Jesus

That is incredible! I am at a loss for words…

Saturday, September 5, 2020

 The Group


While I was in college, Sarah (my wife now…girlfriend then…better half all the time) and I would go to church in the Chaska area.  It was relatively new church plant, parented from Westwood Church in Eden Prairie, MN, yet it was already a large church.  Each week multiple church services were hosted in the Chaska High School auditorium.  There came one Sunday in which the church was launching a number of new small groups.  It was announced that there would be tables with sign-ups available following the service.  Sarah asked me if I was interested.  I really didn’t think that I was interested…but I took a few moments to consider before I answered.  It was in this moment that imagined her attending one of these small groups by herself...and wouldn’t you know it…but in my imagination, there was another young single guy in the small group.  He imaginarily wooed her, with his suave hair…dashing good looks…a physic like Arnold Schwarzenegger, a mind like Albert Einstein, a sense of humor like Steve Martin…and he drove a Corvette...I didn’t stand a chance! “It’s ok…if you don’t want to…I can just go by myse….”

“NO!...I’m in!!!  That sounds great!”

I couldn’t let Arnold Albert Martin have a chance.

After signing up and leaving our phone numbers, we were instructed that we would receive a phone call from our small group host. When I received the call, Laurence introduced himself and then asked a little bit about me. I told him about Sarah and I…our ages…what we were studying in college...and some of what we liked to do.  He gave me the timing and the address of our first gathering, but before hanging up…he paused and ask…”Are you sure you want to be a part of our group?...we are actually a bunch of older married couples…I don’t know…I am not sure this is what you are looking for.” 

“Yes!” I said, “If Arnold Albert Martin is there…I will be there for sure.”

“Who?” He asked.

“Never mind…we will be there.”

When we arrived that first night…Arnold Albert Martine never showed up, which is just as well because I don’t know what I would have done to him if he had made a move on Sarah…or what his massive biceps would have done to my jawbone.

Laurence was right.  It was a group of older married couples.  But what was really fun…was that we all really hit it off.  It was really cool.  The group was composed of a couple of college students, a retired pilot and his wife, some teachers, an engineer, some business professionals and a number of others.  On paper…there was really no reason for any of the members of the group to associate with one another.  Our paths were not really destined to cross in a random culture, but I have come to find that God is not random.

By the end of our time together…this incredible group of people threw a banquet to celebrate my soon to be college graduation…complete with cake and singing!

I feel that in a way, Sarah and I lived through the story found in Acts 16:11-40.  In this story Paul is continuing to preach the Gospel…but what we find is that 3 characters in particular respond to the Gospel. What strikes me is that these 3 people have virtually nothing in common. One is a jailor, one is a rich woman, and one is a young (formerly demon possessed) girl, and together, these are three of the first followers of Christ in the city of Philippi.  It is through people like these three…that the church in Philippi is established.  Even when we have nothing in common…we can have Christ in common and when we have Christ in common...we can then love in very uncommon ways.

May you find the uncommon love of Christ, compelling you to find Christ in common with the people he has placed around you.