Saturday, June 25, 2022

 Keep Up!

Recently, I was visiting with some friends.  We were reminiscing about the state of the world before cell phones.  I know that this is hard for people, namely my children, to comprehend, but there once was an entire world that existed and functioned before the invention of the cell phone.  One notable difference between the prehistoric world of non-cellular technology and today is the regular implementation of…a map. 

When Sarah and I were in our early dating years, I began making trips across the Midwest from central Minnesota to the Detroit Michigan area (her home town).  This trip wouldn’t be so bad if it were not for the incredibly large lake that lies between these two lands…namely, Lake Michigan.  The fact that this lake is there forces would be travelers to navigate through the pernicious city of Chicago, (or the Upper Peninsula, but that is even farther).

The first time I drove the perilous paths of the city of Chicago, I tuned into local traffic reports, while trying to read any one of the half dozen maps scattered across my lap and the front seat.  It is incredibly challenging to read a map, eat a Big Mac, avoid collisions on all four sides…AND count out .40 cents for what felt like unending toll booths along the way.

The city of Chicago uses names rather than numbers for their highways system, which made the local traffic reports confusing and of absolutely NO value. “The Dan Ryan is at a total stand still, while the Kennedy is struggling to clear a 12 car pileup.  The Eisenhower is under construction, so the Jane Adams is about your only way out of the city…but I wouldn’t get your hopes up about leaving the city any time soon.  Whatever you do stay off of the Tri-State!”

I didn’t know where any of those roads were or where they were going…but considering that I was at a complete standstill on I294…I assumed that I was on one of them.

One time, before the inundation of the cell phone and its GPS capabilities, I found myself without a map and needing to head into downtown Minneapolis. The good news however, was that I had a friend who was also heading into the city and he said that we, (my wife and I), could “follow” him.  What he did not say however, was that in this process of “following” he was going to do all that he could do to “lose” me. 

Just as he pulled his Ford Taurus away from the curb and I my Chevy Lumina, he gunned the throttle and took off screaming down the country back road like Ricky Rudd.  I did my best to keep up with him, but being a compulsively cheep person, I struggled to push forcefully enough on the accelerator for fear of consuming too much fuel.

At each stop, acceleration and turn, he continued to put distance between our two cars.  When we hit the interstate he was weaving in and out of traffic and I was white knuckling the steering wheel, with beads of sweat running into my eyes.  The stresses of the driving and the wasting of fuel were getting to me. 

I barely caught sight of him as he took the downtown Minneapolis exit.  By this time, it was getting dark so I kept my eyes glued to his red taillights.  I knew that if I lost him now, I was hopeless.  I didn’t know the Twin Cities at all and if I got lost, I would be lost indeed.  I did not know the way.  I NEEDED to keep up with him! I gunned the accelerator, did some weaving of my own, even going so far as to cut off some other “city” drivers.  They seem to have experienced this before, as they all seem to share the same knowledge of hand gestures that were mutually shared with me.  I HAD to keep up! I needed to keep in step!  I watched him enter the parking ramp…on two wheels. I followed suit…barely avoiding a collision with a yellow concrete post.  I had done it…I made it into the city…I made it into the parking garage.  I parked the car and asked Sarah pry my hands off the steering wheel and massage my forearms just so I could open my car door. 

“Were you trying to lose me?” I asked my friend.

“Huh?” He replied.  “What do you mean?”

“Never mind” I said.

I have since learned to traverse many areas of the country, including Chicago and the Twin Cities…but I still don’t like them.  Yet, in that one night, I am reminded of my desperate need of direction.  In our days of cell phones, GPS and even maps…we rarely have a need to “follow” any longer.  In fact, as people we have become incredibly independent.  We don’t need anyone or anything…except maybe our cell phones.   

Paul reveals a different picture in Galatians 5:13-26.  Here, we find a battle that rages on within every believer in Jesus.  That battle is between the Spirit and the Flesh.  The Flesh wants to produce fleshly fruit and the Spirit wants to produce Spirit fruit.  Our job…is found in vs. 16…to “walk in step with the Spirit.”

May you grow in your walk with the Spirit…that He may produce in you ALL of the good fruit of the Spirit.

Saturday, June 4, 2022


According to some sources it takes 10 years to become an expert at anything. I have been a parent for over 18 years now…that must make me an expert…nearly two times over in fact.  Other sources say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert…well, if that were the case, I had that covered in less than 14 months…although I must admit I slept through a good portion of that.

I would like to take a moment and encourage every parent out there.  Even though I may be an expert…you are likely still a better parent than at least one person…me.  I have made more mistakes as a parent than I would care to admit or am even aware of.  On one occasion I accused my third born child of “faking an illness,” because she didn’t want to go to school.  By lunchtime that day I sat down to eat my slice of humble pie as my daughter spewed hers.  Upon the completion of my slice of pie and her “vomitous” (made up word), episode, she spitefully proclaimed to her mother, “Dad said I was faking.”

On another occasion, as I was wrestling with my son, I dislocated his jaw.  It wasn’t a huge deal really...a quick jerk to the mandible set it right back in place.  I had no problems with my own jaw however, as I ate yet another slice of pie.

Despite all of my parenting mishaps, I am astounded as to how well my children have turned out…it must be their mother.  Throughout the formidable years of teaching and disciplining, my children have vacillated between choices of obedience and disobedience, (as I am sure all children do). It often leaves me in awe as to how quickly these moments can piggyback each other.  One moment children do exactly what you ask, the next moment they have done the exact opposite.  These moments leave me pondering, “What draws my children to obey or disobey.” I am sure that there are many physiological factors…but I am not an expert in that…just parenting.

Just a few days ago my son did something that truly left me astounded me.  Sarah and I had endured another day of exhausting parenting, yes, even experts get exhausted.  As supper was being finished, we were pressing hard to get the children to engage in the clean up.  This act alone brings a plethora of obedience and disobedience opportunities.  In the midst of these efforts, we asked our son to take the dog out to do his doggy duty.  The request was followed by the usual arguments and resistance that a non-expert parent may have conceded to…but I, being an expert parent, pretended to care about his concerns…and then made him take the dog out.  As I watched Isaac approach the back door upon finishing the duty, he stopped and opened the lid of the grill and brushed the surface, preparing it for next cookout…WITHOUT BEING ASKED!

WOW! I was dumbfounded!…blessed!…honored!...yes I…even as an expert parent, couldn’t believe what I had just seen.

I pondered this…“Why do you suppose he did that?” I wondered.  I am convinced that as he walked by the grill, that something in him knew that cleaning the grill was the right thing to do.  I think he actually “wanted” to clean the grill! Why???  There are times when this kid doesn’t seem to “want” to do anything.   But I think he really wanted to do this…at least at this time.

Here is my conclusion.  I think he wanted to do it…because he knew that I would appreciate it.  This is an illustration of sorts of what Paul is showing us in Galatians 5:1-15.  Isaac did not need to clean the grill…or even walk the dog to “gain my acceptance.”  He is accepted no matter what.  Even if he never walks the dog again…he will be my son, (though he may receive some consequence if he does not). Yet, he did something that will please me even though he was not obligated to do so.  He was not obligated, but he was motivated.  I believe that he was motivated out of love.    

Paul is telling us that we are free…we are accepted by our faith in the grace of God.  We do not have to do anything to earn that acceptance.  Yet, Paul is saying…“obey the law…keep the law.” Obeying the law does not “appease God,” but it does “please God.” I want to please God…because I love him…and he loves me.

May we come to obey Him as His Spirit leads us.  May we be motivated by His love for us…and our love for Him.