Saturday, November 18, 2023



Recently, I was speaking with a friend who had graciously given me and my family free reign to enjoy his beautiful land.  My daughter was so pleased and appreciative that she excitedly exclaimed, “Wow! Thanks so much for letting us use your land!”

It was at this time that my friend broke into song…attempting to sing… “This land is your land…”

As his voice struck the notes, I was suddenly awakened with a deep core memory from my Jr. High years.  I remembered sitting in the Jr. High choir room while Mrs. Bjorkland went from student to student demanding that each one sing the opening chorus of “This Land is Your Land.”

Apparently, her purpose was to identify which students were sopranos, which ones were altos, which ones were tenors, which ones were basses and which ones had no business being involved in the middle school choir. 

Row by row she went.  She got closer and closer to me as each occupied seat near me was required to sing.  I sat waiting.  Just 5 people away…then 4…then 3.  I could feel the cold sweat running from the back of my neck, go down my spine and collect on the waistband of my BVD’s.    

When my turn arrived, I did the best that I could…which was not good.  In fact, I am fairly certain that when the Biology teacher Mr. Jeffers busted through the door, just as I was proclaiming, “the Redwood Forest,” he was looking for a live honking goose to dissect…or cook…or both.

When the painful experience was over, Mrs. Bjorkland separated the class into groups.  She put about half the girls in one corner and half the girls in another corner.  She then put about 75% of the boys with the second girl group and called them “Alto’s.”  She then sent about 10 boys to a third corner as Tenors and finally she placed one bearded 4 year middle school boy alone to the fourth corner.  He was the Bass.   

There were three of us left in the center of the room.  Mrs. Bjorkland looked at us quizzikly, muttering, “What to do with you three.”

“Are you sure you want to be in choir?”  She asked?

“We have to be!” we said in unison.

“Mr. Amundson said that we have to be in band or choir, because he wasn’t going to pay a teacher for just the three of us to be in “General Music.”  I added.

“Oh...” Mrs. Bjorkland voiced tersely.

Thus began my brief middle school choral career and for the next two years our class exasperated 4 different choir directors, each lasting approximately 4 months.

Everyone in that room knew that I had no business being in choir.  My forced “audition” revealed as much.  There have been other auditions and tryouts in my life from time to time.  I would “tryout” for a spot on the varsity wrestling team, I would audition for the fall play at my high school, I even auditioned for the all school talent show in 3rd grade.  Despite earning a spot on the wrestling team and even being casted as Little John in Wadena-Deer Creek’s version of Robin Hood, (No singing required), I was not placed on the docket for the talent show. 

Here is an incredible realization that struck me this week.  In spite of my lack to 3rd grade talent and inability to sing, and regardless of my wrestling and acting abilities, I am still wanted by God.

In fact, God does not even require an audition!  He loves you and invites you to be a part of His family.  He does not put conditions onto your acceptance.  It does not matter what I can or cannot do.  My “audition” not only has no effect on His love…it is fully unnecessary.

Here is a question that I asked myself this week.  “What is the greatest gift that God has ever given.” I believe that answer is love.  God’s greatest gift that he has given to mankind, (you and me) is His love.  It is out of His loves that he sent Jesus(Himself) for our salvation.  It is out of His love that He sent the Spirit to indwell those who have put their trust in him, and it is out of His love that he promises an eternity for those who will ACCEPT his unconditional invitation.

No auditions required…just one invitation.

When we accept the invitation we become members of the team…His family.  Then we learn to live as He would have us live empowered by His Spirit.

Saturday, November 11, 2023


I just spent the last week on vacation.  It seems that the Lord teaches me lessons during all of my vacations.  For example, several years ago while on a vacation, I learned that one should never use a child’s Superman fishing rod to cast a Johnson silver minnow.  It is quite likely that said silver minnow may find itself embedded into the head of the caster.

I have also learned that when your nine-year-old daughter says that she has a stomachache during vacation…it is quite possible that it is appendicitis. 

I have learned that if you jump into the lake from the dock, you may end up with water up your nose which can likely lead to a major sinus infection and nullify any further enjoyment of the vacation…especially when you add into the fact that you become feverish with the sinus infection and it happens to be in the midst of a global pandemic shutdown for Covid-19, which you now become convinced that you have.  Once you test negative for Covid, you may find it possible that a family member suggests that you have a brain eating amoeba and you only have hours to live.  (Considering that this took place over 3 years ago…I think I am in the clear.)

Over this past week, I again have learned a few things.  I have learned that despite the fact that I am 47 years old, I am still physically able to give my son with a broken foot a piggy back ride up a ladder to get him safely into a deer stand without putting any weight on the broken foot.  He was perfectly safe the entire time…but I would ask that you not bring this up to his mother.

I have also learned this year that just because there were more deer than you could count running around the woods in September and October…doesn’t mean that they haven’t become incredibly skilled at playing hide and seek in the same woods…or perhaps they went south for the winter.

Finally, I have learned something more about the Lord.  As I sit and look at the same trees all day long, and listen to the squirrels and the blue jays and the occasional ruffed grouse…but no deer…I find myself compelled toward the Lord.  I learned how the Lord and his goodness and grace draws me, (us) into deeper communion with him.

This astounds me.  I know my life…including my own thoughts and actions and the unrighteous life that I have lived and still wrestle with.  This week I found myself drawn…compelled to a closer relationship with the Lord, not because of guilt…but rather because of grace.  Certainly, guilt and shame can be great motivations for behavioral changes.  Yet, how much MORE am I compelled to obey the Lord of grace who has bestowed upon me, grace upon grace.

1 Corinthians 12, emphasizes the “gifts of grace.” May we find ourselves compelled by his grace…to offer grace…as he empowers us in grace.

May we come to be compelled by His grace.