Saturday, April 29, 2023

 Pink Shoes


This past week my son offered to drive his sisters and some friends home after a track meet.  Had they known the condition of the vehicle with which he was driving, they all four may have refused.  However, being ignorant of the current state of disrepair, his two sisters, along with two adolescent boys crawled into the SUV.  Once all passengers were safely secured into their seats with buckles clicked, he pulled away from the curb and accelerated onto the main road.  Immediately, the car began shaking like a jackhammer tearing up a concrete sidewalk.  My son heard the voice of one of the two boys sitting in the back seat behind him speak with anxious concern, “I-i-i-s-s-a-a-a-c-c,  s-s-ome-th-ing i-i-is sh-sha-shak-shaking re-rea-lly b-b-ba-aa-dd b-a-ck h-h-e-re.”

“Oh yeah, I should have warned you…the rear left tire is kind of bad.”

“D-d-d-do y-y-yo-ou th-thi-ink?”

After a total of nearly 8 miles of aggressive shuddering that could shake a brain through a sinus passage, my son was able to safely drop the two boys off at their house and make it home with his sisters a few moments later.  Ironically, by the next morning all of the air in that left rear tire had rushed to the top of the tire, leaving it as flat as a college student’s wallet.   

Despite the good decisions that my son can, at times, make, I am not always convinced of his cognitive awareness to the world around him, thus I drew his attention to the problem, “Isaac, you cannot take your car to school this morning…the tire is flat.”

“Oh, really?”


“Wow…that’s surprises me?”

“What!? I am surprised that it hasn’t blown months ago.”


“Never mind, you will need to take the minivan this morning.”

“Ugh…I don’t want to take the minivan…it’s not cool…it’s embarrassing…kids will make fun of me…can’t I take the truck instead?”

“Seriously? The truck squeaks like a mouse at a birthday party, has more rust than Alec Baldwin and not to mention that your car was shaking like a San Francisco earthquake.  You would rather sit 3 people on top of each other in the cab of the small pickup and unload like clowns in a miniature Volkswagen than drive the minivan because the minivan is too embarrassing?”


I don’t get it.

Today I took “prom pictures” of the boy…the same boy who was too embarrassed to drive a minivan but apparently not too embarrassed to wear pink shoes without socks and his suit pants hemmed 6 inches off his ankles…comparative I would think that the minivan is “cool.”

I realize fashions come and go and change quickly, but this seems to be one that can’t “go” quick enough.  In fairness, I remember mocking my parents about their bell bottoms and they mocked me for rolling and pinning my jeans in the 90’s.

Despite all of his awkward, weird and inconsistent nuances…I still love the kid.  I am committed to love him and will continue to love him.  There is a love in my heart that has been placed there by someone other than myself…God has done it.  God places within us the ability to love.  In fact, He created mankind to love. Yet, over and over again, our sin nature rebels against love. 

God has placed in me, a supernatural love that extends beyond just my son, daughters, wife and family, it includes a love for others.  I can’t love people simply by “trying harder.” To love people well, it must come from the divine hand of God.  He calls us to obey Him and love him, and when we come to love Him more deeply, He will give us a greater capacity to love others…all others in our lives.  He gives us the ability to love…not just tolerate…our enemies.  He fosters within us a love for those of other political views, for those who do not believe, for those who dress differently and all others.  In 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, Paul spurs the believers to love as an act of obedience to God and our love for Him.  The power and ability to love comes from the hand of God placed into our hearts that we may love others.

God puts this love in us, so that we can help make God’s love known through our love for people.  This may be the greatest and most difficult task that the Lord has called believers to do. 

May we come to fall more deeply in love with Jesus, that he will place within us a supernatural love for others…and then to obey God…by expressing that love.



Saturday, April 22, 2023


My daughter handed me the dainty, silver-chained necklace.  It was a mass ball of knotted links. 

“Daddy! Can you get the knot out of my necklace?  It gotted tangled,” bequeathed the 4-year-old voice of my long-eyelashed third born child.

Upon seeing the incredible knots in the even more incredibly small chain, I didn’t see any possible way of clearing the constellation of twists, loops and ties.  However, when I glanced up from the jumble to see the big shining eyes of my sweet daughter, I knew that I had to at least attempt the job.  I figured, worst case scenario, I could throw it in the garbage and go buy a new one and she would never be the wiser.

“How did this happen?”

“I swinged it and swinged it while I was twirling in my ballerina shoes and it gotted tangled.”

“Maybe you should have your mom do it?” I asked, “She has finger nails.”

“She is making supper and she said you should do it because if you can spend all that time getting knots out of fishing line then you can fix my necklace.”

“Little does she know, I just cut the fishing line and start over,” I mumbled.

“What daddy?”

“Nothing,” I sighed and left to find a needle.

My eyesight has deteriorated over the years. It used to be that I would mock my father for complaining about low light conditions.  I would tease him about having to decide whether he should have his glasses on…or off, and how it seemed to make no improvement in his eyesight.  I then ridiculed him for needing bifocals and mumbling complaints under his breath about how he “couldn’t see.”  I no longer mock the man…as I am now the man. 

I used a magnifying glass, along with a light strapped to my head, to improve my eyesight and tackled the task, using a needle to carefully pull links apart.

I worked for DAYS at untying those chain linked knots.  It was excruciating.  The work made my eyes hurt, my neck hurt and it forced me to drink more coffee to heighten my senses…which, in turn, forced me to take a break and use the little boys room more than usual…another sign that I have become more like my father. 

Each evening, for days, I would attempt to untie at least one knot.  Each morning it was the same, night and day struggling with the knots, whenever I had a free moment.  After several days of effort, I finally cleared all of the knots, and laid the long delicate chain out before me in a moment of pleasured relief.

“Carissa?!, I got your necklace fixed!” I sang out from the depth of my soul. 

“You did it, Daddy!?”

“Yes, I did, sweetie!”

“Wow! You finally got it!?” my wife asked admiringly.

“I sure did!” I asserted with a deep throated manly voice.

“Thanks Daddy!” my daughter cheered as she took the necklace and began twirling it while spinning in her ballerina shoes.

I do not have to tell you…that I kept the needle handy.

My daughter’s actions are really no different from my own.  In her case, her decisions to mistreat her cheap necklace resulted in a messy series of knots.  In my case, my poor decisions in life have left my own life in a messy series of knots.  As difficult as those knots in my daughter’s necklace were to remove, the poor choices in my life have left me with even more difficult knots to reconcile.  Yet, it is astonishing to me how many times I walk away carelessly twirling the necklace of my life adding yet more knots into the already knotted mass. 

In 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, Paul emphasized the importance of making good decisions to the people of the church in Thessalonica.  Specifically, Paul calls them to obey God.  That is the way to living a knot free life.  I fear that, too often… mankind… myself primarily, has made it a practice to justify our actions not caring about the disobedient knots that we are creating for our lives.  Jesus wants us to live lives that are free of knots. The free life is a life that is lived in obedience to God.

May we come to obey Jesus and pursue the knot free life that he desires for us to live.

Saturday, April 15, 2023



“Hey you!?” chortled the pug-faced kid as he engaged me in the middle school hallway of the Wadena Jr. High School, “Remember when I beat you up? Huh huh huh…”

“NO! I don’t!” I aggressively retorted.  Though truth be told, I did remember. That is to say, I remembered the event…however…this ignorant clown was indeed mistaken.  I was not the young elementary school student who he had, ‘beaten up’…it was my brother.   

I stepped into his personal comfort zone and looked down on his forehead.  “That wasn’t me,” I exclaimed as I puffed out my middle school chest, “It was my brother!”

The event had taken place about 5 years earlier.  My older brother and I had walked to the park from my grandmother’s house on one Saturday afternoon.  We had not been there very long when the skirmish broke out.  To this day, I have no idea what caused the row, nor does my brother.  It seemed to come out of nowhere.  Suddenly Scott and his thugs appeared on the grounds and confronted my brother and began pushing him around.  Don’t get me wrong…I had done my share of bullying my older brother.  In fact, I was well known in the family to exert my will and authority upon all of my siblings.  I was the largest and most aggressive of my parents’ 4 offspring, and so I took advantage of both and bullied my way into the superior rank of sibling rivalries.  I even relished their suffering. It was not unusual for me to push my older brother around even to the point, though seldom, in the throwing of punches. 

At this moment, I suddenly found myself no longer ok with the abuse of my brother…at least from the hands of Scott.  Immediately, I began to hustle to the conflict only to be restrained by Thug 1. His strong arms wrapped around my chest and squeezed me from behind while Thug 2 gave me a threatening sneer and, minimally, toothy smile.  As my chest struggled for air and my arms yearned for freedom, it was the grief in my heart that weighed heaviest as I watched the suffrage of my brother under the authority of Scott. 

Finally, Scott released his torturous headlock from my brother, but only after several cries of “Uncle!”

My brother and I walked back to my grandmother’s house with our proverbial tails between our legs.  The only real bright spot was that my mother wouldn’t be mad at me because it wasn’t my clothes that were covered with dirt and grass stains.   

It is in this transformational experience that I see a parallel to Paul’s experience with the church in Thessalonica.  While Paul is in Athens, Timothy brings back a report of the incredible love…brotherly love…family love that the Thessalonians have for each other. 

The Church is the Body of Christ…it is a family.  Certainly in every family, there are conflicts.  Unfortunately, many of these conflicts do not result in a strengthening of the body.  Rather, they cut down, discourage and destroy the church family from within.  Yet, as the old adage states, “blood runs thicker than water,” and even in the most difficult times it is the family that sticks together and endures. 

I believe that it is this latter depiction that Paul esteems within the church in Thessalonica.  In 1 Thess. 1:4, Paul refers to them as brothers, and as children, mothers and fathers in chapter 2, vs. 7-11.  It is obvious that Paul believes that the church is to be a family. 

Paul, then, describes how this family is to love and interact and support one another as a testimony of the Lord’s grace in 1 Thess. 2:17-3:13.  It is this incredibly humble and challenging image that I desire to be a part of.

May we come to love the Church as Christ loves the Church…it is the family of God!

Saturday, April 8, 2023

 Once is Enough


By nature I have never been much of an adrenaline junkie.  I was speaking with a friend, recently, who was all excited to go sky diving for the first time ever.  Normally, first time jumpers are required to leap from the plane in “tandem,” that is to jump harnessed to an experienced skydiver.  However, his wife was apparently able to somehow pay extra money, above or below the table, which would allow him to jump solo.  I can’t help but wonder if she had recently drawn a life insurance policy on the man.  Noteworthy to say…I have not seen from or heard from him since.  I wonder how it went?

My first real experience with thrill seeking came in 7th grade, when I traveled to Valleyfair in Shakopee, MN.  It was my friend, Matt, who had invited me to be his guest on this excursion with his church youth group.  It soon became apparent to me that these youth group leaders must not have cared much for their students, as Matt and I, along with every other student under their supervision, was left to indulge in as many near death experiences as we could find ourselves in as we navigated the park. 

We began our journey on the Viking Ship…I hated it…I have not ridden the swinging boat since…once was enough.  We rode the Excalibur, Wild Thing, Cork Screw and every other roller coaster in the park which resulted in…hate, hate, hate. 

Years later I met the girl who would one day become my wife.  She took me to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, OH.  It was pretty much the same story, ride after ride I was force to offer faux bravery and enjoyment on the high climbs and steep drops.  My favorite part became waiting in line.  Over the years, I learned to tolerate roller coasters, but I could never say that I have learned to love them. 

There came a day when I was leading my own youth group to Valleyfair.  I had every intention of sitting on a bench somewhere in the shade and reading a book, or perhaps taking a nap.  This pleasant anticipated Eden never took place.  The driver for the other vehicle…who happened to be about twice my age and the Lead Pastor of my church had other plans.  As soon as we stepped foot into the park the 68-year-old man asked, “What are we going to do first?”

“Well…the Imax theater is always nice this time of year.”

“Which one is the favorite?”

“I guess most people prefer the Wild Thing.”

“Ok…let’s do it!”


I was transported back to that pioneering experience of 7th grade as Pastor Phil insisted on my participation with him on every ride in the park.  After trying many “favorites,” we concluded our time at the…Power Tower…Drop of Death …The Tower of Terror …High Rise of Hades…Plummet to Pandemonium…it really makes no difference what you call it…it is death upon exit.  Of all of the rides in the park ,this was “THE ONE” in which I never wanted to ride.  Yet, how can I tell a 68-year-old man that I am scared, not interested or too tired. 

The pimple faced teenage worker buckled us in and read to us the warnings, dangers, cautions and had us sign waivers along with our last wills and testaments.  The open air chairs hauled the two of us up 275 feet to the top.  This is easily the highest point in the park, and I am quite certain that I could see my vehicle in the parking lot, and the headlights are on! 

“Hey wait!…let me down…I left my headlig….” 

Then…you drop.  Of all of the times I wondered if I would ever get the chance to hear a preacher swear I thought that this must be it…but no…I was wrong.  The silence gripped us both as the bottom dropped out and we fell.  Finally, I hear a shrieking voice screaming like a frightened little girl.  I looked to my right where Pastor Phil sat expecting to see him screaming, but his mouth was closed…at which time I realize the sound was coming from me.  Upon the end of the ride, I stepped onto the hot pavement with my legs shaking like Thanksgiving Jell-O.

“Wow! That was a ride!” Phil exclaimed.

For me, however, once was enough and I am proud to say that I have never been on a ride like that since, nor do I intend to ever ride one again. 

For Jesus, “Once is Enough,” means something entirely different.  Hebrews 10:1-18 delivers a picture of the repetitive obligations that the Law required, year after year, to deal with the problem of sin.  Every year it had to happen…the High Priest needed to make atonement for the sins of Israel.  It never lasted. It was an unending obligation that was never fully adequate. 

Jesus changed all of that.  Jesus is our Great High Priest and what He did…just once…was enough for eternity!

Jesus died once.

He rose once.

He paid for our sins once.

And once…is enough.

May we come to see that Jesus’ life, death, burial and RESSURECTION…are enough!

Happy Easter, He is Risen!

Saturday, April 1, 2023

 The King


“Hooray! Dad’s HOME!!”

These were the cheers that filled my ears for years as I entered my home.  Whether having been gone for a week on a ministry trip, or just the afternoon at the office, it was a common experience to be celebrated upon walking through the door.  My children would scream my name. They would chant. They would run to me and jump in my arms…sometimes 2 or more at the same time.  I was the hero of the home!  I felt like a king! After I was able to peel the hanging children from around my neck, I would gather them together and give them hugs and kisses.  I would wrestle with them on the floor.  I would sit in my chair and they would hop into my lap and I would ask them about their day.  With a smile on my face and contentment in my heart I would take my book from the end table…flip up the foot rest of the recliner and lean back to relax while doing some reading.  My four children would continue to run around the house screaming songs of joy and celebrating Super Dad’s arrival. 

It would happen that about this time I would look over toward my beautiful wife who was standing in the kitchen working hard to cook supper. I would smile at her and our eyes would meet, and seeing the look in her eyes…I would swallow hard…put down my book…lower the foot rest…raise the recliner back and stammer nervously…”Ummm…how was your day Dear?”

“…” silence, “…”

“ummm…do you need any help with supper?”

“No…just engage with the children and keep them out of the kitchen while I finish up.”

Interestingly, things are now different in our home.  I am no longer celebrated in the same way as I once was by my children.  I cannot pinpoint the cause of the transition, but somehow in the age of preadolescence, I lost my coolness.  As I enter the home today, I find that my children…at least the ones that are home…have their faces glued to their phones, laptops, tv’s or pillows. 

“Hey kids!” I exclaim excitedly.

“Uh.” One may reply.

“How was your day?” I ask.

“I dunno.”

“What don’t you know?”

“I dunno.”

“What do you mean you don’t know?”

“I dunno.”

It is obvious that things have changed.  Perhaps I am not the father that my children expected me to be, or perhaps I was not the kind of father that gave them everything that they wanted and more. 

“Dad can we have Doritos?”

“If by Doritos you mean nacho flavored corn chips placed in an all white bag with bold black lettering…then sure…when it goes on sale.”

Perhaps it was moments like these that let my children see that I may not be who they want me to be. 

In a much grander scale do I see the remarkable moment of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, (Luke 19:28-42).  Here, Jesus enters the city on the colt of a donkey, and he is celebrated as the coming King of Israel.  As the crowds were calling out “Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” some of the religious leaders call on Jesus to make them be quiet.  At this point Jesus says that “If they remain quiet…the rocks will cry out.” I have often overlooked the significance of this statement.  Jesus is the King of Kings.  He is creator God.  He is coming into the city that he created among people that he created and if the people will not acknowledge him as King…then the very earth that he created will cry out and proclaim the truth of who he is. 

It would be as if my Microwave began to celebrate my arrival into my own home upon the silence of my children. 

May we come to see who Jesus really is.  He is the creator. He is the Savior. He is the King!  May we cry out in praise to the King!