Saturday, February 25, 2023

A Good Story

Once upon a time…I loved a girl and I asked her out…she said no… months later she finally said yes and a couple of years later we got married anyway.  That is a true story and a good story!

Everyone loves a good story, especially when the odds are stacked against the protagonist and yet you see that person, often the underdog, come out on top and encountering a wonderful end to the story.  I think that this is what makes a work of fiction, such as The Lord of the Rings so enticing and true stories like Louie Zamperini’s WWII survival story so inspiring.  To see Frodo Baggins faced against all of the evils that Mordor has to offer and still find victory in the cracks of mount doom or Louie Zamperini’s incredible survival of over 40 days at sea and years in Japanese concentration camps, to not only survive, but to find a “good ending” years after the war.

God is writing a good story in everyone who believes.  This is what Romans 8:28 is really hitting at.  To those that love God, He is writing a good story.  Yet, in every good story, there are chapters of difficulty.  Some of my chapters are incredible, in which my marriage, the birth of my children and killing a grouse with my bare hands are all included.  Many other chapters are challenging and difficult to endure.  These are the chapters where I find myself as an exhausted parent wondering if I am doing anything right…or is it normal for a 3 year old boy to chase his sister around the house with a “dangerous knife.” These are the chapters where I get angry over spilt milk.  I don’t know who coined the term, “There is no use crying over spilled milk,” but they are wrong…I cry every time milk is spilled or eggs are cracked and wasted. 

Good chapters may include promotions, restored relationships or winning tickets to the World Series.  Bad chapters could be found in the death of a loved one, a dreadful diagnosis or a depression that you just can’t seem to climb out of.  The lists of either are endless. 

Yet, in the end, we will find an incredibly wonderful chapter.  We will see a chapter that is better than the destruction of the One Ring, (in the Lord of the Rings), or the forgiveness that Zamperini offers to the Bird, (his perpetual torturer in the Japanese labor camps).  At the end of God’s good story we will find the last chapter, which happens to be the best chapter ever written.  It is in these last lines of the story were we find the redemption of mankind become complete and the restoration of the earth take place.  We find a New Heaven and a New Earth being created for those who have said yes to the story of God and yes to the gift of forgiveness and righteousness found only in Jesus.  Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians reveal a good story and a good ending that is promised to all who believe, even though their story contains difficult chapters (i.e. Acts 17:1-9).

May we come to embrace God’s good story…His Gospel…and trust Him to write His story within the chapters of our lives. 

Saturday, February 11, 2023


There is something wrong with me.  Sure, I have plenty of physical ailments and blemishes.  My elbows hurt, my back hurts and I can’t see as well as I used to be able to see.  I have knee pain, very little hair and spots on my skin where there previously had not been spots on my skin.  However, these are the “wrongs” that I am referring to.  There is something else.  I have a problem in my thinking.  I am not sure where it came from, but it has plagued me for decades. I have an unhealthy NEED to…WIN!

It is absurd.  In 3rd grade I remember running races every day at recess against other 3rd grade boys.  I would beat most of them, though there were a few, namely, Tommy, Brian and Mike that were just flat out faster than I was.   I usually tried to avoid racing against those boys and opted for other competition that was known to be slower.  Why?  As I already stated…I wanted to win.

I raced every day, until one day when I lost to Kris.  Kris…was a girl.  I therefore hung up my Buster Browns and turned to other areas of competition that I could be victorious at. 

One of my next endeavors consisted of standing in the Elementary School lavatory, where I allowed other boys to punch me in the gut.  It was a game of endurance.  Two boys would compete side by side, willingly taking punches to the stomach, until one of the two would quit. 

I was once again reasonably competitive at “Gut Grinding,” perhaps because of my amazing abdominal fortitude…or my lack of a prefrontal cortex.   I won most of these head to heads. Day after day I took a walloping…until…I vomited and the competition ceased, because when vomiting occurs…there are no winners.    

Life was constantly placing competition before me.  I turned my family supper time into a race to who could consume the most slices of pizza in the least amount of time.  Needless to say, I was a champ.  The other 5 members of my family couldn’t hold a candle to my ability to bite, swallow, bite swallow.  There was neither room nor time to taste and chew.  I could easily gut 4 slices before my mother and siblings could finish their first.  The only one who could maybe hang with me was my dad…but he would cut me off way before I was ready, “If you touch another slice, you won’t be able to sit down for a week.  Now take a breath and let some other people eat.”

I wanted to win at everything, wrestling, cribbage, foosball, battleship.  Sadly, this is still the case today.  As an adult, my oldest child accused me of cheating at Candy Land, but seriously…can a 4 year old really be trusted?   

Somewhere along the line, winning had become a barometer used to measure my self-worth.  If I could win…then I had value.  It is not just me…it seems that winning has saturated our society.  We want to be the best, to outdo others, to prove that in some way…even for a moment…”I am better than you…thus I must have more value than you.”

This Sunday, an estimated 100 million Americans will gather in front of big screen TV’s and a plate of chicken wings, to watch the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Philadelphia Eagles.  In regards to this game, I believe that there are three things that you can be certain of. 

1.      One team will be victorious.

2.      One team lose.

3.      There is a greater victory in this world than all other victories combined. 

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul writes about the greatest victory that has EVER been known to mankind…the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  What is even more astounding about this victory…which is TOTALLY INCREDIBLE…is that for those who choose to put their faith in Jesus Christ…THEY TOO…will get to share in that victory.

This blows my mind.  Though I had done nothing to earn or achieve this victory, I can enjoy this victory FULLY, by simply putting my faith in Jesus and trusting him for my salvation…for my victory. 

As you watch these NFL teams strive to win, may you be reminded that those who are in Jesus…HAVE ALREADY WON! Good luck doing that Mr. Mahomes.

Saturday, February 4, 2023


There was a day when my son wanted to do and look just like me.  It comes naturally to most boys.  I remember strapping on a construction apron and hanging a hammer on my side to look like my dad.  He thought this was great until I began aggressively hammering on the coffee table and fake wood paneled walls, leaving numerous divots all over the surfaces.  In some ways I still want to look like him.  I wish I could grow the full manly beard that he wears…save however, white “Santa Claus” look of it.  In other ways, I would rather, he look like me, and strap on his tool belt and come and help me repair the broken drywall in my basement cause from my own children’s abuse to my home.

When my son was 4 years old I would load him up in the truck and tote him around town with me tending to numerous life tasks and errands.  There were two primary reasons for the necessity of these moments.  First, spend quality male bonding time between father and son.  Second, get the rambunctious rule breaker away from his stressed out mother for an hour or so, which intern helped her regain temporary sanity.

On one such occasion, we entered into the local Napa Auto Parts store, and perched ourselves on the bar stools at the tall counter.  I hiked him up and planted him atop one of the stools, slid one over for myself and began requesting our needed car parts.  As we waited to receive our brakes and calipers, one of the Napa store workers approached with two identical Napa Auto Parts racing caps and put one on each of our heads.  My son was ecstatic, not only did we wear the hats home, we wore them as we worked “together” on replacing the brakes on the station wagon.  My wife was also ecstatic, though having nothing to do with the hats and everything to do with the adding of another hour or so of sanity to her life as we stayed in the garage.  Over the next several years my son would run into his room and don his Napa cap every time he saw mine resting upon my head. 

Today, my son looks more like me than perhaps ever before, although he would never be caught dead wearing the same Napa hat…but I still do.  He probably wishes that he could grow facial hair like mine…as I still wish that I could grow facial hair like my dad.  In many ways, the fact that he is a physical representation of me is beyond his control…genetics takes the major credit for that.  Looks however, are much more than mere appearances.

In fact, when I see my son make a choice that reflects good judgment, i.e. respecting his mother, I see that he looks like me by holding to the values that I have attempted to instill in him.  I think this goes deeper still, as I consider that these are the same values that had been instilled in me…and the values that had been instilled in my father as well.   When my son chooses to live in such a way that reflects me…he looks like me…his father.  Additionally, when he lives in this way it also reflects my father and his father.  His life reveals the person he is following.

In the same way does the way that I live reflect who I am following.  As we look at the concluding line of the Lord’s Prayer “…for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen,” Matthew 6:13b, I see that my prayer reflects not what I want, but rather what God wants.  When I can allow the Holy Spirit to align my heart with the heart of God, I will see that as I live this life, my desire is to reveal His kingdom, His power, and His Glory.  May I grow to look like HIM…the Lord and Savior of my life and the world…Jesus Christ.

May you seek the transforming work of the Lord in your life to make you into a “Mini-Me” of Himself.