Saturday, January 28, 2023



“Dad!? Can we go to McDonalds!?...PLEASE!??”

“Yeah! Dad!? PLEEEEAAASSSEE,” begged my siblings.

“No…we are not going to McDonalds…it is too expensive.”

“But Dad! We haven’t eaten anything all day and it’s already 2:00 in the afternoon!” I retorted.

“Yeah and we are soooo hungry,” my 4 year old sister added between finger sucks.

“No!” my patriarch stoically avowed.

“But Dad! We can share a drink…really…c’mon Dad!” I implored with the staccato of a jackhammer.

“Yeah Dad! We really want to eat!”

“You should have eaten more for breakfast.”

“But Dad! We left at 6:30 a.m. and have done nothing but shop for lumber, light fixtures and floor tiles all day! Not only is that just flat out boring, but the boredom makes us think of nothing else but our empty stomachs.”

“Mine is even digesting itself!”

“We are only stopping once for food today.  I am not willing to spend money to go out more than once in a day.  I intend for our only food stop to be the Old Country Buffet at 4:55 p.m. …5 minutes before they switch to the “dinner” pricing…so we can eat the roast beef at the “lunch” price.

“But Dad! We are sooo hungry now!”

The battle continued.  I was by far the most vocal in my obsessing effort to convince the foremost authority of the family to feed us.  It was scriptural after all…“When a child asks for bread, does his father give him a snake?”  In this case…the snake was the equivalent to nothing…at least until supper.  My siblings were of minimal help.  They agreed with the arguments and desires that I was laying before our father.  I trust that they too shared in the craving for a semi-warm and flattened cheeseburger wrapped in yellow paper.  Despite the shared longing of  my other brothers, they refrained from the same vocal badgering…perhaps too intimidated by the domineering beard of the powerful being behind the steering wheel.  My 4 year old sister on the other hand, being absent of the same fear, chorally agreed, singing, “booger, booger, booger!”

“C’mon Dad! We don’t even want roast beef! We want super salty fries, limp with grease,” I reasoned.


“YES!” I thought.  “Victory! I have defeated the strong man with constant bantering!”

We arrived at the McDonalds and ordered according to the guidelines laid out for us by our parents.  We were to share fries and share a drink and we had to settle for burgers wrapped in red paper instead of the yellow paper because the cost of cheese was too much to add.    

We received our food and began to eat while my dad began to write out the check.

“Oh, I am sorry sir…we don’t accept checks.”

“That’s all I have to be able to pay.”

“I am sorry, but we can’t accept checks.”

The next thing I know is that a burger is being ripped out of my mouth by my father and thrust back into the hands of the McDonalds workers…who slid the remainder of our order into a nearby trash can.

We left the restaurant, hungrier than we had entered.

I see a number of parallels to temptations in life through events like this.  I see Satan attack in much the same way as I attacked my father.  He hits us with the relentless temptations…over and over until often we cave to the pressure; only to find that what we thought would satisfy is ripped from our tongue leaving us more depraved and unsatisfied than we had begun.

Yet, thanks be to God who has set before us the great treasure of eternal life by faith in the grace of Jesus Christ, which is even better than the roast beef of Old Country Buffet.

May we come to see the temptations that the enemy lays out before us for what they are…empty unfulfilling promises. May week seek the Lord in prayer (Matthew 6:13) to lead us away from those temptations and into the plans that He has for us.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

I’ll Pay for It

I remember the first time that I met my father-in-law.  It was in early May and I was just finishing up my Sophomore year of college…though I had already 3 years under my belt.  I can’t help it…it is in my over achieving nature. He was coming to pick up his daughter from her first year of college and I was going to meet the father of the prettiest girl in school. 

I first laid eyes on him as he stepped out of a 1997 Ford Expedition.  It was a Thursday afternoon, and I noticed his white beard, his comb over and his khaki pants.  I soon discovered that he wore khaki pants every Thursday…and every Tuesday…and every other day of the week that ended in “y.”  In fact, when he sat in this behemoth of a vehicle you couldn’t tell where his pants ended and the khaki colored seats began. 

He greeted me and I met his wife who was the bearer of the identical image this man’s daughter who I had been “seeing” for the past 3 months. He invited me into the dark green SUV.  I sat in the 2nd row of the oversized vehicle as it rumbled into the Holiday gas station near the college.  The man stepped down out of the enormous truck and began filling the fuel tank with 87 octane unleaded gasoline.  The unit drank in nearly 30 gallons of fuel and cost a mere $27.  The 4.6L V8, as with any V8 consumes gas like a high school boy swallows pizza.  

He finished his filling…stepped back into the vehicle and stated, “Wow! 50 miles per gallon, that’s down a little bit from last time…must have been the headwind.”

The overarching irony of this man was perhaps the paradox of his amazing generosity, coupled with his intense frugality, of which has been known to be called “cheap” in certain circles.  He had a history of conservative fiscal discernments, which included buying “used” spark plugs and infamously ordering 1 large beverage and 4 empty cups to quench the intense thirst of his then four young children from a McDonalds drive through.

He proceeded to transport the four of us, himself, his wife, his daughter…and me…a panic stricken pale face northern Minnesota boy who was smitten with the beauty of his youngest offspring, to Old Chicago Restaurant in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Old Chicago was a casual but expensive pizza place, at least comparative to the only other pizza place I visited, which was Pizza Hut.  Not because I liked Pizza Hut better…but rather because I worked there…and I could eat there for FREE.  I came to learn that he and I shared some of the same conservative fiscal discernments.    

The man’s daughter and I sat next to each other in the large booth while he and his wife sat across from us.  I was careful not to sit too close to the beautiful girl as the last thing that I wanted was to get on the bad side of the bifocaled authority before me.  A bearded waiter came by to take our order.  Immediately I could tell that the spectacled man liked and respected the waiter. 

“Are you all ready to order?” The waiter asked.

“Yes, we are,” the man said, “You look like an honest fellow.  I always tell my wife ‘You can always trust a man with a beard,’ isn’t that right Marilyn?”

“Just give him your order Ken.”

“Ryan why don’t you start…what will you have?”

“Oh, I don’t need anything…how about just a water…do you charge for lemon?  I’ll have some lemon if there is no charge.  Also, are these saltine crackers complementary? I will just have them.”

“What!!? This is on me…order what you want.  I will pay for it.”

“Are you sure?”


“Then I will have a calzone…why don’t you fill it with mozzarella, pepperoni, ham, bacon, sausage…do you have any other meat in the house? Maybe some ground beef too. Maybe some mozzarella sticks too…and pie…peach pie if you have it…for dessert…and maybe a beer…I mean a root beer.”

“Anything else?”

“Hmmm…I don’t know…we’ll just start with that I guess.”

“And for you sir?” the waiter asked the beautiful girl’s father.

“Are these crackers complementary?” He asked.

Kenneth Dobert, became my father-in-law just 3 years later and I came to learn that “I’ll pay for it,” was a mantra that extended infinitely beyond that first encounter.  When there was a question of finances, you would often hear this man’s voice, “I’ll pay for it.”  He paid for innumerable things…from missionary needs and church debts, to pastors’ vehicles and hospital bills.  It was incredible to see how generous this man really was, especially in contrast to the frugalness of his nature.

I left that day with a picture of another generous man…the MOST generous man.  Ken paid for many things.  The Lord blessed him to be able to do so, yet there was one thing that he could NOT pay for in people’s lives.  He could NOT pay for their sins.  But Jesus could…and DID! I also left that day…and began to grow a beard.

The Spirit of God has continued to remind me of His grace.  He reminds me that I had a debt that I could not pay…but Jesus DID pay it. 

Because Jesus paid my debt and forgave me, I think I can now understand a little more clearly what Jesus is asking when I read, Matthew 6:12.  He has forgiven me…and because of that…I can forgive others.

May you come to ask Jesus to forgive what only he can forgive and be drawn to likewise forgive others.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

 Daily Eggs

In 2003, my wife and I took a group of 23 people to Ciudad Mier, Mexico. This was not our first “rodeo.” We had each participated in several international missions experiences, some together and some individually.  This one however was unique, as to the fact that one of our team members was 3 months pregnant.  What made this excursion even more personally challenging was the fact that this pregnant and hormonal team member…was also my wife…and…we were celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary.  We have always enjoyed taking trips for our anniversary…like when we took 21 students to Columbus, Ohio on an overnight bus ride, not to mention the occurrence of lodging in a sewer flooded dorm room at a Mexican orphanage.   

Until this season in my life, I had been unaware of the dietary demands of a pregnant woman.  In the weeks leading up to this immersive cultural experience, I had taken to learning to minister to my pregnant wife.  Some nights I would head out to Perkins at 11:00 p.m. for fried cheese sticks and chocolate shakes, and other nights it would be to Subway for a ham and cheese sandwich.

“Why can’t I just make you a ham and cheese sandwich?” I would ask. 

“Because I want mayo!”

“I can put mayo on it…that’s not a prob…”


“Yes, dear.”

In this event, we were approaching the Rio Grande and the U.S./Mexico border and we made a final stop in Texas.  I tended the two 15 passenger vans, adding fuel, checking oil and kicking the tires of the two vehicles and an 8x12 foot trailer packed with luggage, tools and instruments.  While I ensured the vehicles to be travel worthy, the rest of the team entered the convenience store to purchase any last minute snacks.  I was just closing the hood and counting heads, when our ministry coordinator, Rick, approached me in a panic and cried, “Ryan! Your wife needs you!”

“What!? Why!? What’s up?”

“I don’t know! But she is standing in the middle of the store crying!”

“What did you say to her Rick?”

 “Nothing!...Really…Just that if she can’t find anything to eat here in an American convenience store I don’t know what she is going to do when we get to Mexico!”

“Hmmm…apparently they don’t have Subway mayo.”


“Never mind.”

I went inside and found my wife standing in the middle of the store revealing all emotions known to mankind.  I went to her and attempted to sooth her…mostly unsuccessfully.  We navigated the store and finally were able to purchase a number of items to hopefully help satisfy her prenatal impulsions.  With our experience in cross cultural opportunities we felt confident in what we would encounter.

Our first meal at the orphanage was a breakfast consisting of unseasoned scrambled eggs and runny refried beans, followed by a supper of unseasoned eggs and runny beans.  The next day’s menu was different, as it consisted of runny refried beans and unseasoned scrambled eggs and to mix it up for supper we had scrambled beans and runny eggs.  Each meal of each day was the exact same and after 10 days of cramming down the high protein enriched meal…I…and NOT…my pregnant wife…was struggling.  My gag reflex was going overtime as I wretched with each bite.  I normally liked both eggs and beans, but by this time, my prayers had become “give me this day…my daily cheeseburger…with bacon and fries…and a coke,” as opposed to bread!

I felt guilty for my lack of appreciation, especially when my gestational wife was not having the same struggle.  I felt like the whining Israelites of Exodus 16 and Numbers 11, when they complained about their daily bread…the manna from heaven and asked for meat.  Yet, God provided for them, even giving to them what they had requested. Imagine my humility when on the next day I found sliced frankfurters on my plate…mixed in with the scrambled eggs and runny beans.  It was like…like…quail from heaven.  The salty goodness of the franks was like magic in my mouth. “Thank you Lord!”

Our God is indeed a gracious God.  I cannot fully understand His love and mercy for me and why he chooses to bless me so richly, yet he does.  I am still learning how to pray and how to ask Him for what I need.  Matthew 6:5-13, tells us that he knows what we need even before we ask of it…yet he longs to have our hearts aligned with his in prayer as we request it.  Thus I will pray, “Lord, give me my daily bread…or eggs…and maybe an occasional frankfurter.”

May you come to seek the Lord’s provisions as your heart aligns with His in prayer.

Saturday, January 7, 2023



Recently, I have become aware of a concept that boggles my mind.  This new idea appears to be more than just an impractical objective; I would describe it as an utter, non-functioning impossibility.  The target is “hitchless towing.”  The thought is that a vehicle can tow a boat trailer or a camping trailer…without…being connected to a vehicle. 

Huh? How does that work?  I guess the answer is…wirelessly.  My immediate counter thought would take into consideration how many times my cell phone drops calls, looses Bluetooth or can’t find a wifi signal.  Scary!

I did some looking online and I did in fact find Toyota is making efforts in this technology.  In their demo videos, you see two identical minivans traveling the road.  The vehicle behind, is in reality being “towed”…wirelessly…by the vehicle in front.  At first glance my reaction was, “This is the dumbest concept in the history of mankind.”

Then I remembered a recent road trip with four children sitting behind me.  My mind suddenly saw the brilliance of this idea.  The kids can ride in the second vehicle and the parents in the front vehicle.  Wonderful!

Now, if I could just get my hands on two identical vehicles that have this technology implemented, but then, who would make me a sandwich from the cooler in the back while I drive.  That’s a deal breaker…not to mention the impracticality of the costs. 

Honestly, I would be incredibly apprehensive about “hitchless towing.”  Whether it is a vehicle following the one I am driving, pulling a boat to the lake or a camper being pulled to a campsite, I want to have a solid connection.  I guess a “wireless” connection seems convenient, but I desire something a bit more substantial. 

As I have continued to learn to follow Christ, this is how I see prayer.  Prayer connects me to God.  In many ways we want our Christian lives to become as easy and convenient as possible, like sitting in a vehicle being wirelessly towed by another, enjoying the mind numbing entertainment of video screens soaking up my brain cells.  Sure that sounds relaxing, but it does not sound desirable.

What I want is connection…real solid connection with God Almighty…The Father…The One with the Hallowed Name.  Prayer is that connection.  Like locking down the hitch to the 2” ball, with safety chains and wire-harness set to go.  I want to follow where the Lord is going.  He gets to decide and I get to follow.  His Kingdom Come…His will be done…on earth as it is in Heaven (Matt. 6:10).

May you be connected to God in prayer as your prayers align your heart with the heart of God’s heart.