Saturday, February 27, 2021

 Wake Up!

I was on highway 10 heading west from Wadena to Perham.  The white lines rhythmically called to me like the ticking of a clock in a dark bedroom, surrounded by feathered pillows, warm blankets and a sloshing waterbed from the 80’s. There isn’t much to look at on the double lane highways of central Minnesota.  The towns are bypassed with bridges and underpasses, so you don’t even have to slow down as you pass through them.  My passenger wasn’t much to talk to either.  As a soon to be freshmen in high school, my, mostly straight “A” brother, had his nose in a book. Whether he was studying or just reading for pleasure, I didn’t know, nor did I really care…nor did I have any interest in doing either one for myself. 

We were making our way to a wrestling practice.  My career was over…but for him, he was just hitting the big time of high school wrestling and needed to be ready.  Thus, I was making the 30 mile drive to take him to an open to the public practice at the Perham community center.  I didn’t want to be making the drive.  I was tired from working a full day at the construction company, likely hauling shingles while my coworkers dug through my lunch box to steal all of my cupcakes.

I was so tired in fact, that I knew I was not driving as safely as I ought to be.  The white lines continued to lull me and I struggled to keep awake.   By now, I was looking forward to getting him to his practice…and heading for the hot tub where I could sleep during the 2 hour practice. We had about 8 miles to go as we approached an overpass of the BNSF railway. It was at this time…that I fell asleep.

Praise the Lord, I woke just before the right front corner of my parents car collided with the guardrail of the overpass.  I jerked the low powered Pontiac back onto the highway and began to sweat.

My brother’s head rose up from his book…he looked at me…then went back to his reading.

I had no more trouble staying alert after that.  I was awake! Wide awake! I was fully attentive to the road and ready for the rest of the trip.  My near accident was perhaps the best wakeup call I could get for the moment.

We have all needed wakeup calls.  We need to wake up to get ready for school or work. We need wakeup calls to lead us to life change. I recall my dad giving me a verbal lashing at one time that served as a wakeup call, making me aware of how I was mistreating people.

Most of us dread our morning alarms. Yet, where would we be without them?...probably still in bed and without a job. We set reminders and alarms to tend to our everyday tasks…yet when it comes to spiritual matters…the things that matter the most…are we still in bed? 

Revelation 3:1-6, calls the church in Sardis to “wakeup.” To wake up takes effort…it takes humility…it takes discipline…and obedience.  Praise God that he is waking us up! He is getting our attention before we fly off the guardrail.  If the Lord is sounding the alarm…let’s not just hit snooze, rather…let’s wake up!  May the Lord wake us up this week…to what he has for us.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

 Hold On!


For as far back as I can remember I have had a passion and a love for working with wood.  I remember one summer, where my untalented 8 year old self, suddenly became passionate about wood carving.  I begged my father for an opportunity to use his Husqvarna chain saw to explore chainsaw carving.  To his credit…he did not allow this.  Yet, I can’t help but wonder how having developed chainsaw skills at age 8 may have altered my future.  After extensive begging, he did allow me to use some of his wood chisels to transform a rotting box elder into my own interpretation of Michelangelo’s David…in my version, however, I thought I would keep David looking a lot like a box elder log.  I went into the nearby woods and drug out the old rotting log…and hauled it into his garage.  I propped it up on some jack stands and began to get to work.  Six and a half minutes later…and two small eye holes evidencing my efforts…I abandoned my project.  I set the chisels on the floor with the log still in his garage, figuring he could clean it up later and went inside the house to watch the Andy Griffith Show. 

On another occasion, I adjured my patriarch for permission to use some of his white oak boards to build a toy box for my bedroom.

“No,” he numbly responded.

“But, Dad…It will really help me keep my room clean!” I angled.

“You wouldn’t even be able to pound a nail through the oak.” He reasoned.

“Oh, ok..,” I sadly sighed.

I was not yet ready to let it drop. I figured that if I could show him my amazing hammering skills…he wouldn’t have any choice but concede to my building plan. 

I entered the garage and climbed up on the wooden bench near the wall.  By standing on the edge of the bench and stretching over…I could just reach the white oak boards that extended across the rafters.  I grunted as I struggled to free the bottom board…as my short arms could not reach the loose top boards.  My older brother stood on the ground and watched. “Whatcha doin’?” he implored.

“I’mmm…gettttinggg…a…brrrd…doowwn…frrr…a prrro…”

I didn’t finish my well crafted sentence as the board came down from the rafters...and I began falling from the precarious height.  My un-grown fingers clasped at the edge of the rafter…and I hung there.

“AHHH!!!” my brother exclaimed! “Hold On!!!” 

My brother grabbed a ladder and wrestled to get it up next to me.  Whether…purposely…or incidentally…my older brother let me down…though not with the ladder.  Due to his delay…I could hold on no longer and I came crashing down.  To his credit…he opted to break my fall by allowing his body to be crushed for the sake of mine.  Had he not taken the hit…I may have been injured or even suffered a bruise on the hard concrete floor.

His last words, (before ouch) were, “HOLD ON!” Sometimes…it seems so difficult just to “hold on.” In Revelation 2:18-29, we find a challenging picture of a church who is struggling to do what is right.  They are being deceived by Satan through a woman nicknamed, Jezebel…a reference to the Old Testament adulterous influencer to Israel.  Jesus, challenges this church…he knows what is going on…he knows her deception…he will deal with her…but for those who are still following Him…he says, “HOLD ON!!!”

Some days…it feels that all I can do…is hold on.  May we…with the strength of the Holy Spirit…learn to hold on, and trust Jesus to do what only He can do!


Saturday, February 13, 2021


“Foul! Foul!...Call the Foul!...What are you BLIND!”

These are the words that I decried from the top row of the bleachers at one of my son’s recent basketball games.  I called it out with confidence…though if I am to be entirely transparent…I wouldn’t really know a basketball foul if it bit me in the nose. 

I grew up as a wrestler…and I consider myself to still be a wrestler…at least at heart…though, if I tried wrestling  now, I would find myself out of breath and in immobilizing muscular pain for 3 ½ weeks. After my son’s recent game I gave him some worthwhile advice.  I instructed, “If you take your left foot and plant it firmly behind his right foot…extend your left arm in front and just above his waist…and then turn your hips counter clockwise…he will end up on the floor, sitting suddenly on his backside.”

“Dad…I am not sure that is legal…”

“It is in wrestling…in fact…you get two points for it!”

Despite my obvious lack of any basketball knowledge there are a few things that I have learned along the way. 

1.      You are not allowed to push…that is called a foul…yet you ARE allowed to tackle…as long as you are going for the “ball”…which results in a “jump ball.”  That one confuses me.

2.      You are not allowed to take any steps when holding the basketball…you may however, take steps as long as you are bouncing the ball as you move…this is called dribbling.  An additional rule allows the holder of the ball to run to the basket…if they can do it in less than 3 steps…and throw the ball into the air near the basket.  It is irrelevant as to whether the ball goes into the basket or not.  That one also confuses me.

3.      Each fan (including myself) believes that they are always right…and that uncalled fouls are an act of injustice.

4.      Officials may or may not have trouble with their eyesight.

We have all experienced injustice in our lives.  Some of it is as superficial as the example just given…or as superficial as the injustice that Minnesotans must endure 10 consecutive days of sub-zero weather. It is certainly a unique thing to experience the celebration of the day when the thermometer finally says 1°F.  I suppose Floridians also suffer injustices by enduring at least one hurricane each summer.  Though both of these prior examples are superficial…if given the choice…I choose the cold.

There are much deeper sufferings of injustice as well…some even unspeakable.  We find injustice in human sex trafficking, theft, government corruption, murder…the list goes on and on. 

We are human beings…and by nature we don’t like to be wronged, disrespected, undermined or taunted. We don’t like to be robbed, abused or cheated. When we are…we want justice…and rightly so.  When we read the scriptures we see that the Lord guarantees justice, (in His timing….”vengeance is mine says the Lord)…yet He also promises suffering.  I don’t know what you have suffered.  I feel that most people have probably suffered more than I have…although it does appear that arthritis is becoming an issue for me.  However, whether you have suffered much…or very little…here is what the Bible promises…we will suffer for Christ…and HE will administer the justice.  We don’t get to choose when…or how…but He does.  Those of us who believe…and overcome…are promised exoneration…with a little white stone…and a new name. Read about it yourself in Revelation 2:8-17.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Mario Kart

“Do you love me?” she asked.

“Huh?” I replied…as I steered my digital go-kart around large green pipes protruding up oddly in the center of the race track, while gophers attempted to pop up and stick to the front of my vehicle causing Mario…and I, the controller, to lose our collective minds in frustration.

“Do you love me?” she begged…unsatisfied with my previous response.

“Sure I do!” I mumbled, as I turned my entire torso trying to encourage Mario to pass Bowser.

“How do I know?” she implored.

“Because I give you…SWEET Star Power Mystery Box!”

“What?...You have never given me a mystery box…unless of course you count the cooler you took hunting and didn’t clean out until I found it black and moldy 2 ½ months later.”

“Yes!...I won!”

“Are you even listening?”

“Sure…you asked if I loved you…and I said yes…and then you asked how do I know…and then I said…because I give you stuff.”

“How else do I know?”

“I don’t know…I take out the garbage and stuff.”

She sat in silence for a moment.

I studied her and probed, “Why are you asking?”

“I don’t know…It seems that perhaps others things seem more important to you…than me…or…us.”

“How can you say that?” I challenged as I sneakily slid the Super Nintendo controller out of sight, behind my back.

I am happy to say that Sarah and I have been married for more than 20 years now and I no longer play Super Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo…apparently the old technology is not very compatible with new televisions.  Despite my love for Mario Kart…I can honestly say…I love my wife much more than the race tracks. In fact, I remember the day that we were married. It was an incredible day and I love every part of that day!  What is even more astounding is that I can honestly say that I love her more today than I did that day.  Yet, if I am to be totally honest…there were times in our marriage where that may not have been a true statement.  Life is hard…marriage is hard…there were probably times when she didn’t like me…let alone love me.  Despite the hardships, we endured. I remembered the wife of my youth as mentioned in Proverbs 5:18. I remember the love we had at first, yet I am even more so now, thrilled with my marriage.  In a parallel…I want the same to be true for my relationship and love for Jesus.  In Rev. 2:1-7, we find an account where Jesus speaks to the church in Ephesus.  This church has done so much good…they have taken out the proverbial “garbage,” but they have forgotten their first love.

I don’t ever want to forget my first love in Jesus.  I don’t want anyone to forget their first love in Jesus! May we endure together the sufferings of Christ…and love him first…because he first loved us.