Saturday, May 27, 2023


A couple of weeks ago our dishwasher quit working…it just stopped. I have, at one time or another, repaired nearly every appliance in our home. For example, when the Crock-Pot began throwing sparks across the countertop like a sparkler in the hands of a 6-year-old celebrating their independence, (at least until their bed time), my wife seemed to think that we needed to purchase a new slow cooker.    

“Non-sense! I’ll bet I can fix it.”

And I did. I took apart the appliance that, incidentally, was NEVER intended to be taken apart, and rewired the internal power supply, and voila…it was like new!  That is…until about a year later when the smell of hot electric wiring and circuitry began emanating along with smoke from the tiny seams of the metal shell. 

“Now can we get a new Crock-Pot?!” she bequeathed.

“Non-sense! I’ll bet I can fix it.”

There are times in one’s life when you learn something new.  It can be generated from an unexpected experience or, in this case, a simple look from the face of my wife that instilled sheer terror which penetrated to my very spleen.  “Ummm…sure…we can maybe get a new one…”

I have repaired, the washing machine, the dryer, the refrigerator, the toaster, the oven and a number of other small appliances…the dishwasher however…that one I replaced.  Before it suddenly quit, it was sounding like a diesel locomotive grinding to a stop every time it worked to make dishes come out dirtier than they went in.

A mere 8 days after the dishwasher was replaced…the refrigerator quit working…it just stopped.  My wife was the one who noticed, when she went to scoop some ice cream into a bowl and instead had to drink it.  I don’t handle these oppressive woebegone events well. The first thing I did in response to the news was to leave the house, hop on my bike and ride away from the house trying to convince myself that if I just ignored the problem then the problem would just go away.  It didn’t.

This isn’t the first time I have ignored an issue hoping for a self-rectifying solution, only to find greater catastrophe arriving in its wake. 

One day after cooking about 30 greasy pre-made burger patties for the youth group, the inside of my grill caught fire. 

“Ryan! The grill is on fire!” my wife exclaimed in alarm.

“It’s a grill…it is supposed to be on fire.”

“No! This looks like something more!”

“It’s fine…the grease just caught fire.  It will burn itself out.  The grill is supposed to hold fire…it is built for this.  It will be fine.”

It was at about this moment that the bottom of the grill fell off and burning grease and flames scattered across the deck and began to burn the wood.

“Is the deck also supposed to ‘hold fire?’”


In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, Paul reveals a similar and significant truth.  It is in these verses that Paul speaks of the coming of the “Day of the Lord,” and whether we acknowledge it or not, does not change the reality of its coming.  We can pretend that there is nothing wrong and everything will just go away, yet the Lord is revealing to us that the day is coming like a “thief in the night,” and some day the proverbial “deck will be on fire.”

May we come to see the immanence of His coming and put our trust in Him today!

Saturday, May 20, 2023


I remember 3 early exposures to gremlins in my childhood.  The first, though not necessarily in chronological order, was from the classic and wonderful cartoon world of Looney Tunes. I recall several episodes that included the clever antics of Bugs Bunny as he navigated his endless mischief in the cockpit of several World War II air crafts only to find a little green man constantly sabotaging all areas of the flying machine.  As I watched the humorous mayhem that the creature created, I asked my father, “What’s a gremlin?”   

“A Gremlin!? Why I used to have a Gremlin!”

Imagine my confusion.  I had never noticed a small green creature running around anywhere in the home.  I pondered where he kept the little freak. 

“Really!?” I asked astonishingly.  “Where is it?”

“I don’t have it anymore…I let a friend take it out and he wrecked it.”

“So is it dead?”

“I am pretty sure it must be…it may have still ran…but it was pretty much totaled.”

It wasn’t until many years later when my father forced the entire family to sit in a dark living room while he flipped through 35mm slides on a semi effective projector and a wobbly white screen, that I realized what his Gremlin really looked like.

“Oh, look! Here’s a picture of me and my 1973 Gremlin.”

It didn’t look anything like the green cartoon which was tormenting Bugs.

My third encounter with Gremlins came in 1984.  My dad had taken the family out for a rare night of fine dining at the local Hardees.  When my kid’s meal arrived, it included a 7” square book and inside the book was a black vinyl disc that was titled, Gremlins.

My brothers and I took the 45 speed vinyl disc home and immediately began listening to it on our “record player.”   We followed along in the book as the crackling voice came over the quiet single speaker. Sadly, this disc was only part 1 of a 5 part series.

“Dad! We need to go back to Hardees and get the other 4 discs! We need to know how it ends!”

Eventually we were able to receive the missing sections of the story…though not from my father who was unwilling to return to Hardees and spend the money on the final segments of the collection.  Fortunately, my grandfather visited Hardees everyday for breakfast and he was gracious enough to procure the remaining treasures for us.    

Once we finished the books…we begged for our parents to allow us to watch the movie.

“Oh, I don’t know about that…it’s rated PG,” my dad insisted, “I don’t know if you guys should watch a PG movie at your age.  You are only 7 and 8 years old.”

“Dad! You have already let us watch Jaws…and The Shinning and those are both rated R”

“No…Jaws was only PG.”

“Fine…but there was lots of blood and it was scary…and still…The Shinning was rated R.”

“Oh…ok then.”

We watched the movie and once again saw little green creatures covering the screen and wreaking havoc only to finally be destroyed by getting blown up in a microwave or electrocuted in a swimming pool. 

My final encounter with gremlins occurred just this past week, when my sunglasses suddenly disappeared without a trace and in the twinkling of an eye.  It was amazing.  One moment I had my sunglasses and the next moment they were gone.  I searched everywhere and have yet to find them.  The only explanation that I can conclude is that they must have been taken by a gremlin.  No matter what happened to them, I remain astounded at how suddenly and how quickly they vanished and seemingly without a trace.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the Apostle Paul foretells of a vanishing that will soon take place. Paul says that, “we who are left will be caught up with the Lord and meet him in the clouds.”  Additionally, Paul speaks of this event in 1 Corinthians 15:52, in which he describes the event taking place at the sound of a trumpet and happening in a flash.   

No matter how or when these events take place I am convinced that this mysterious vanishing will turn the world upside down and it won’t be gremlins that caused it.  It will be the return of the Almighty coming to be with His people forever.

May you eagerly find your hope in the return of King Jesus and an eternity with Him…and if you find my sunglasses…would you mind returning them?

Saturday, May 13, 2023

 Good Grief

Nine months ago we dropped our oldest child off to college. Forty-nine hours ago we helped her move back home for the summer.  As we were clearing out her dorm room we reminisced how quickly the school year had gone and how emotional the initial drop off was. 

“This moving home is a lot less emotional,” my wife noticed.

“What needs to be loaded first,” I asked.

“It was so fun moving you in…we had your room looking so nice!” She insisted.

“What do you want me to take to the vehicle first?”

“I loved your bedding…it looked so cozy.”

“Can I take this?...Is this ready to go?”

“Dad!? When you dropped me off you were so emotional, why are you being so pushy to get loaded?” my daughter questioned.

“I was not emotional, I was grieving.”

“You were emotional…grief is an emotion…why are you not emotional now?”

“Who’s to say I am not emotional now? I replied stoically.

“You don’t look like you’re grieving.”

“I am not grieving…I am scared.”

“Scared of what?”

“Of you moving home back into our house!...I think we need to consider rent…”

I must confess that when we first moved Hannah into school, I indeed encountered a great deal of grief, and yet in many ways that grief has passed.  Over the past few days, I have pondered as to why my sorrow had ebbed.  Though I am not an expert in human emotions and reactions, I have come to believe two things about that grievous moment.  First, my grief was real.  In many ways, I was suffering a loss.  My daughter was leaving home, and the little girl that I had reared, taught and loved had grown up and was no longer the little curly-haired, gum-chewing, cutie, singing “These feet…are gonna’ follow…” in front of the church family.  Now, she is an adult heading into the world to make her own decisions and live her own life…and to come home to wash her clothes and eat our food.

Second, is that my grief was temporary. I think that the short term nature in my grief lies in the truth that hope remained.  Hope is the key in dealing with grief.  I still have hope for her future…end even more so, in my hope of a future with God and her future with God.  Whether we lose a loved one to death, a job and therefore financial security, a daughter to college or a son to the temptations of the world, we can process the grief with the help of the Holy Spirit as He encourages us with the promised hope of a future with God. 

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul begins to navigate the challenges of grief.  Perhaps the powerful key in this passage is how Paul reminds us that we, “do not grieve as the world, who have no hope.”

Grief is real, and it is tough.  There is no way around it…grief is hard.  However, for those who have put their faith in Jesus for their salvation, we can have a hope for a future with Jesus.  The promise was proven true by the resurrection of Christ. 

The hope is in the day when all who have put their trust in Jesus will be resurrected just as He was and to be with Him!

May you come to see the hope beyond grief and may that hope help you as you navigate the hard road of sorrows.