Saturday, September 25, 2021


“You can do anything…you just have to set your mind to it…”

These words proved to be a big fat lie to the 10 year old boy who had his eye on the pretty new girl in class who had just moved to town from Montana.  Though the speaker of those words, namely my 5th grade music teacher, had good intentions, she was flat out wrong.  It was likely that she was attempting to motivate me to set my mind on learning how to sing.  However, I contrarily decided to set my mind elsewhere…namely on the new girl. 

Now here I am, now 35 years later…and I still can’t sing…and that girl never did give me the time of day.  Well, Mrs. Nelson…you did not “Teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,” unless of course I was omitted from that world, and the new girl never did “come round the mountain,” at least in my direction. 

Some things are just impossible, like eating just one Lay’s potato chip, one almond from the bag of trail mix, or just one Oreo cookie.   Perhaps that was Nabisco’s strategy in creating the “Double Stuf” Oreo cookie…to help people like me to eat just one.  If you put two cookies into one…people won’t need to eat two…right?  Wrong…now we just make “Quadruple Stuf” cookies.  Nabisco hasn’t quite kept up with my demand. 

I remember watching the old Mission Impossible TV show as a kid.  Each episode was plotted similarly.  There would be a secret…impossible…mission, revealed to Dan Briggs.  Mr. Briggs would then bring in his team…to accomplish that which was impossible…or I guess…not quite so impossible.

Matthew 5-7, is a well known passage of scripture.  It is the Sermon on the Mount.  What is striking to me in this message from Jesus is that he lays out such lofty expectations.  What Jesus calls his followers to are really quite impossible! Why does he do this? I have become convinced that Jesus wants for his followers to understand two things. 

1.      Jesus wants us to see that following him, as he calls us to…is impossible. Wait what!? Then what are we doing? What is the point?

2.      Jesus wants us to see that ONLY THROUGH HIM…and the power of His Spirit…can we follow Him!

We can’t make the impossible…possible!

Only Jesus can do that!

Only Jesus HAS done that!

Only Jesus can do that in us!

May we come to see…all that we CAN do…but only through Jesus!

Saturday, September 18, 2021



We were rolling along a winding country road in central Morrison County, heading to a nearby crappie lake, when my friend and driver braked hard and swerved to avoid the small mud turtle that was circumnavigating across the pavement.  The boat that trailed us, threatened to pass us by to the left, and the passengers sitting in the back seat, namely my daughter, my friend’s daughter and his wife, gasped and squealed in astonishment. 

“Don’t hit it!” his wife cried!

“It’s ok dear…I think I can avoid the precious reptile.”

“Just hit the thing…God will make more…” I stated cruelly.

The entire cab of the pick-up truck became as silent as a headstone. All eyes looked to me with a loathsome glare.  Fire seemed to light in my friend’s wife’s eyes as the truck came to a stop in the middle of the road.  While the turtle continued its slide southward, my friend looked at me…his face paled with sickening shame, “What did you say?” He implored.

“Well…I uh…I said…God will make more…you know…turtles.”

“God will make more? Really?...Wow! You are cruel!”

I could not argue.  I am cruel…yet, in some way…I was not wrong.

I have continued to be reminded of my impulsive and insensitive comment over the years. I can’t help but think of that turtle, every time that I see one of its kin flattened on a road as I pedal across the country side on my bicycle…or every time I see my friend…and he requests, “If you ever use this turtle story in a sermon…you let me know…I want to be there.” Well…I guess that the day has come.

Though my harshness cannot be excused, there is a reality that comes into fruition.  God WILL make more.  He will make NEW turtles. (At least, most scholars agree that there will indeed be animals in heaven…though perhaps not that specific squashed turtle.) In fact, God will make everything NEW! He will make a NEW heaven and a NEW earth, and He will allow it to be filled with those who have chosen to follow Christ…and have become NEW creations.  Revelation 22 gives us a beautiful culmination of this very reality.  Just imagine…A New Heaven…a New Earth…the fulfillment of a New and Living Way! Every NEW morning brings the eternity with the person of Jesus Christ…our Savior, our Sanctifier, our Healer…and our Coming King!

Saturday, September 4, 2021

 Dog Pile

There are two words that strike fear into the hearts of meekly built 3nd graders more than any others…“dog pile.”  Growing up, I remember watching football with my dad and older brother on Sunday afternoons, and at the end of each and every play there seemed to always be a pile of huge men, stacked upon one another, with a brown, leather ball somewhere beneath. 

“Wow! Look at that dog pile!” my brother would exclaim.

“Oh man! I wouldn’t want to be on the bottom of that mountain of purple jerseys!” my dad would insert.

I just stared in perpetual fear…overcome by the claustrophobic thought of ever encountering the abysmal moment of being trapped on the bottom of a pile of humans…who refused to get off.

This fear became a reality. 

Elementary school recess was a cesspool of aggressive, pre-adolescent boys ranging from kindergarten through the 6th grade.  The kindergarteners, 1st graders and 2nd graders were pretty safe.  At their young age, it would take a pretty cowardly 6th grader, to attack these innocent boys during their first three years of school.  The 5th and 6th graders knew better than to attack each other…it was too risky.  These two upper grades offered too many unknowns, such as which 5th graders are too strong or violent, or which 6th grader is too weak…you just never knew.  The 4th graders were old enough to know to keep their distance and avoid everyone else on the playground, while the 3rd graders were the ones who still wanted to play during recess…and too ignorant to know that they were being hunted by the older grades. 

“Hey kid! Catch!”

The brown ball was flying at my face…I threw my hands up to protect my face…bobbled the ball about 6 and a half times before finally finding it coming to rest between my hands...and knees…and belly as I hugged the ball like a 4-year-old boy carrying a giant watermelon. 

“Wow!” I thought, “I caught it…these boys must really be impress…”  

Wham! I was lit up by a dozen or more, older boys yelling, “Dog Pile!” as they swarmed me!

As I lay on the ground with the brown, oval melon crammed into my gut, my mind flashed back to the purple jerseys…wishing that I had a helmet and pads as they did.  No such luck.  Panic began rising from my toes…up my legs…through my torso…to my head and exited out of my eyes in splashes of warm salty water. 

The weight was enormous…I thought that I was going to die! After what seemed like an eternity, the pile of laughing boys began rolling off and coming to their feet…the last one ripping the ball from my feeble body as I lay…breathing…finally breathing.

I heard them say, “Who else can we get?” as they scrambled away.

The removal of that oppressive weight was amazing…I was free…I was light…it was like I was exonerated…it was like I was “forgiven.”

I think that two of the most powerful words in the English language are…love and forgiveness, and I am not sure if you can have one without the other. 

Despite the amazing power and beauty in these words, I am afraid that they are far too seldom employed. 

Love drives us to love. Forgiveness drives us to forgive.  Love drives us to forgive and forgiveness drives us to love.  In fact, and I don’t think that true forgiveness can occur without love first existing and I have come to wonder if true love can be real love without owning forgiveness.  Yet, to love an enemy…or forgive someone that has hurt you deeply…is perhaps one of the most difficult things to do? 

Withheld forgiveness, is like a weight…a burden that we carry…that we find ourselves struggling to breathe beneath. Withheld forgiveness is like a dog pile.  When we withhold it from another…it is like we are piling the weight upon another…AND ourselves.  When someone withholds their forgiveness from ourselves…we feel the weight…and usually…so does the other person. 

Forgiveness on the contrary…is like the removal of that weight.  Forgiveness allows the other person…to be free.

Jesus has given us both…His perfect and incredible love and forgiveness.  Perhaps it is time, that as a follower of Christ…we do the same?