Sunday, October 30, 2011

But through me...

This morning, on the way to the church, I was listening to one of my favorite bible teachers. He was speaking about our culture and attempts by many to make all religions melt into one common pond. "All roads lead to God" is the claim. "We all have our own truth" another proclaims. All is well with the world until someone says, "I think there's only one way." Then, with great disdain, the world ridicules the one who makes such a claim. We are in a time when every view is permitted expect the view that access to God is exclusive. That view is not permitted in our melting pot of ideas, but one man claimed such an exclusive place in history. Here's what he said, "Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." But through me....what an amazing statement. Jesus is claiming that he is the only way to the Father, to God.

When we repeat his claim to a world where all roads lead to God they claim we are intolerant, but what we claim is the claim of our founder who said, basically, if you want to get to God you have to go through me. He is, by his own claim and our faith, the only road to God. If you reject him you have no other road to God. That's the core belief of the Christian faith, it's the belief we are most ridiculed for believing. You see all views are accepted today except for an exclusive view. With so many drowning in sin, looking for hope, this is the wonderful hope we proclaim, you can find God and it's through his son. No one can come to the Father but through Jesus Christ. Exclusive? Yes! Clear? Yes! Simple? Yes! Accepted? Yes, by a few who want to find God. The path? It's only through Him.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A meaningless universe?

C.S.Lewis 'Mere Christianity' page 46

"If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning."

Thoughts on the day

It's Saturday. A crazy Saturday here. I just finished reading 200 pages in a commentary and my brain and eyes hurt. After about 50 pages I feel my brain starting to freeze up..."no more, no more...I can't take it!" I'm taking a mini-mester class on Romans and the text is Douglas Moo's 1,000 page commentary. I love how he writes, but an old brain like mine can only take so much.

In my personal reading I'm near the end of 2 Chronicles. It's fascinating to read how the kings of Israel and Judah influenced the direction and faithfulness of the whole nation. I wonder, are we like that as well? Fickle? Easily led and swayed? I hate to admit it, but we are. Godly leadership is so important for a nation. Without it we seem to wander away from stability and good choices. I know that many would disagree with me, but as I watch the nation of Israel in the bible it seems clear that they were highly influenced by the direction of their king, for good or bad. I'm sure we are no different.

I'm beginning a dialogue with a young person seeking truth, or so they claim. It will be a matter of prayer for me to speak in a way they can hear and understand truth. Of course, in our culture of relative truth it will be hard to find common ground, but I will be working towards that goal. Pray for me in this pursuit.

Mongolian BBQ tonight. Can't wait! It will be great to have dinner with friends and eat good food. I love anything that makes me sweat! This will do it.

As I read and write this afternoon I'm listening to some wonderful alto flute classical music. The alto flute is amazing and rarely heard, very nice and most relaxing!

Ok, back to the books....never too late to learn more....part of finishing well is running all the way to the finish line. I'm trying to intentionally do that. Personally, I can't imagine retiring. It would feel like I've stopped at mile 20 with 6.2 more to go....keep going.....keep running until you cross the finish line.

Saturday's cartoon

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Today is my sweet wife's birthday! It's such a blessing to have a mate you enjoy spending the years with. Joye lives out her name and is a blessing to me every day of my life.

Happy Birthday sweet lady, I love you.

Alternatives to fear and worry...

Phil 4: 6-7Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.


I love the seasons. I love the changes that happen through the year. It's fall and everything changes once more. Another season of beautiful leaves I have to pick up. Cool weather I have to dress for. Shorter days that make me grumpy. Fog that makes driving difficult. But it's, cool weather, freshness in the air, changes in the seasons, it's wonderful!
Have a great fall!

Monday, October 24, 2011

It's not about the storm!

Yesterday I had the joy of teaching through a portion of the gospel of Mark. It's a very familiar passage and we often miss the point that God is making. Here is the passage we worked through and an e-mail dialogue that followed this morning. I hope these thoughts help you as you face your storms,

Mark 4:35-41- That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"

Mary: I loved your sermon yesterday, but if I understood you correctly, there was one aspect of it that seemed contrary to beliefs I have always held, so I wanted to ask you about it. You seemed to indicate the God sends all the storms into our lives for the purpose of molding our character and teaching us to trust Him. Did I get that wrong?

Mike: Not entirely. What I was trying to communicate is that whether the storm comes from God by his doing OR from the enemy by God’s allowing, the purpose of the storm for God is that we discover him more fully. He doesn’t bring every storm, but sorting out whether it’s from God or the enemy isn’t the main thing. The main thing is that we respond by seeking to trust and know God better through the storm.

Mary: I have always explained away the "bad things happen to good people" occurrences by the fact that we live in a fallen world where we are negatively affected (storms) by sickness, disease and sin that resulted from Adam and Eve's original sin. I thought that most of the storms in our lives resulted from sinful choices that we and others around us make, satanic attacks, or just the decay of a fallen world. I had always thought that God can and does intervene at times to answer the prayers of those who seek Him during the storms; and sometimes chooses not to answer our prayers for intervention because of the greater good that only he can see.

Mike: First of all, in reality, there are no good people (a theology thing here), but to the bigger issue- we focus on the question “Don’t you care?” What I was trying to change yesterday is to a focus on “Who is this?” I wanted to move the discussion away from US to a focus on HIM. Either he is causing the storm or he is allowing the storm, either way he has a goal in mind for the Christian and that is that we know him and trust him more. Through each storm we will grow in faith or grow in bitterness or depression. It will be one or the other. Faith if we look to him, bitterness and depression if we look at us, our poor circumstance, our sad lives and the storms we are in….IF we focus on “Don’t you care?” we will lose faith and become bitter, depressed. IF, instead we focus on who is this that brought this storm, or allowed it, what is he working on in my life? Then, my results will be a larger faith and closer walk with him. When storms come my question is never “Don’t you care?” or “Why are you doing this to me?”, but rather my question focuses on this- “Lord, what are we working on here? What are you doing in my life? How can I know you better through this?” It’s a matter of whether we focus on the Lord or on the storm. The results will be completely different.

Mary: So I guess I have always seen it as: God allows the storms, and is there for us in the midst of them when we call on Him; but not that he "causes" or "brings" all the storms to us. Can you help me reconcile my thinking?

Mike: You know, I honestly don’t always know the source of the storms in my life. Are they from God or the enemy? I’ve found it doesn’t matter. IF God brought it he has something good in mind for me. IF God ALLOWED it he still has something good in mind for me, so the source isn’t my worry. What I must focus on is the one I trust and reply, “Lord, here I am, what would you have me do in this storm? How do you want to reveal yourself to me through this?” And whether from his hand or the enemy God can work because he would never allow something in my life that he didn’t plan to work out for his glory, so the source isn’t my concern, just my response to him. Does that help a little?

Just remember, it's not about the storm, it's all about him.


This morning I'm beginning a course on the book of Romans as part of a graduate degree. It's daunting! I only have about 200 pages to read this week. For many taking a full load at grad school they would smile and let me know they have 10 times that much to read, but with all I have to do in the real world this is a daunting task for me. Moments click by and I have to be careful not to waste even one of them....I need every one.

I'm excited for this opportunity, but equally challenged. I hope I use this time well. I pray my poor old head has room for more info and I'm grateful that my sweet wife challenged me to pursue this project even at this age. I thought, why not....I have to do something, might as well get another degree! So, off I go...wish me well.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The plan, provision and purpose

This morning, as I read these words from Paul to Titus, I thought, what more could be said than that? So today, my guest author is Paul. I don't know what I could say that would add anything more to these amazing words, so Paul, today's post is yours.....

Titus 2: 11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thoughts on a friend

A dear old saint and friend died early this morning. He was 93. In just a few weeks he would have reached 94. His house caught fire yesterday and partially burned. Worried about him I went out to his house to check on him. Amid the fire trucks and firemen I find my old friend Norm. He's well and sorting out what to do about insurance and other necessary things. We visited for a bit. I made sure he was safe, and we talked about where he would stay last night. He has sons in the area and he told me he would stay with one of his sons.

This morning I got the call that during the night Norm died of a heart attack. Apparently the stress of the fire and all that followed was too much for him. I am sad to lose Norm. Even at 93 he was vibrant, clear headed and able to read his bible (9 pt font) without reading glasses. He had traveled widely and been all over the middle east. Often, as I taught the bible, Norm would be my color commentator. He was ornery. That's a right of anyone over 90, but he was sweet. As we studied a book I would often ask, "Norm, when you and Paul traveled through that area what was it like?" And with a smile he would tell us all about it.

How do you describe a godly man of 93? Perfect? Far from it, but he was a wonderful saint of God. He knew of God's care and provision and he talked often about it. He had been well provided for by God. He built his first home with his own hands using salvaged wood and supplies. Norm was an electrician by trade and had worked in that field his whole life. He
was the ultimate paradox in a number of ways, but let me simply say that men like Norm are wonderful blessings to anyone who knew him.

May memories of me be as sweet as my memories of Norm. Thank you, Norm, for loving God and living it out for others to see.

Welcome to the "Finishing Well Hall of Fame" Norm, you did well.

Dealing with me

My biggest problem is not my work, other people around me or even the struggles I face. My biggest problem is ME! I live in a world of people all struggling, for the most part, with themselves. It's all these struggling people clashing together that creates the problems we see around us.

Unless I can deal with the me I see in the mirror I can never work though my issues with you. Paul the apostle knew this struggle himself, we all understand the struggle, but he actually articulated his own battle. Here are a few of his thoughts,

"I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?"

My biggest problem is ME! I hate that. I want to please God, I want to be who he designed me to be. I want to live as he designed me, but something keeps pulling me down to the base person I was when I first met him. That "me" that causes all my problems, all my anger, my sinful thoughts, my frustrations, irritations, my resentments. All the things that come from that "me" not the me God wants me to be. He has created in me a new man, and yet I so easily fall back to that old man. It's so frustrating. I hate it! I so understand Paul's words and struggles. So do you, don't you? We all live with this tug of sin pulling at our hearts, minds and affections, but it's not the end of the story. There is a solution that Paul mentions at the end of his thoughts in this passage. Here's his conclusion,

"Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin."

The truth is that my sinful nature will never improve. I have to deal with that and "walk in the Spirit," the new man God created when I trusted him. My old man, the old me, always wants its way...that won't's my reality. It's yours too. My challenge is to choose to walk in his Spirit and not as the "me" who wants his way. Today I'm struggling with me. Frustrated by the man in my mirror, but I know God has provided a better way.

My next step today is to walk in that new way and thank God for his forgiveness and grace.

This struggle will be ours until we finish this life. It's part of the curse, but the hope we have is the Spirit of God in us that gives us the opportunity to live in a new "me" that pleases God. I remember the story of a young man asking his grandfather when the passions of life ebb. The old saint paused for a moment and then, with 85 years of wisdom, responded, "I don't know, but if they ever do I'll let you know."

Dealing with "me" is my struggle for the day. Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Slave or bondservant?

"You gotta serve somebody." These words from Bob Dylan describe more than most know.

The bible teaches that we will each be servants of someone, of one of two masters. One is voluntary, the other is not. Slave or bond servant. Those are the two options. A slave is purchased and then, for the rest of his life, is owned by and slave to the one who owns him. A bond servant picks his master. The term of indenture is the same, a lifetime, but what a difference it would make if you could choose whom you serve!

Paul writes about this in 2 Timothy when he says, "Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people's hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil's trap. For they have been held captive by him to do WHATEVER HE WANTS." As I read those words this morning it struck me that the grand cry of our culture is freedom to do what I want, but what they don't realize is it's not their will they are accomplishing, but the will of their master! They are slaves, subject to the master's will and that's what they do....what HE wants. It's a false freedom and a cruel slavery.

In contrast Jesus comes and offers us a place, an identity as a son, a co-heir, a child of the king and not one of slave in bondage to a cruel master. It's a bond servant role, one we take on by our choice, but it's service to a loving God and wonderful savior. For the slave obedience is not optional. They will do as the master says. For the bond servant the whole picture changes....we respond to our master out of love for what he has done for us. It's not by compulsion, but in response to love. What a difference in motivation!

We each are subject to someone. Many to the cruel master the bible calls the devil. They will do whatever he wants even as they think it's their will and desires they are living out. Many others will choose a different master. One who loves, cares and invites our response to him. There is no compulsion to obey as a slave would, but there is, for the believer in love with the Lord, a passionate desire to respond to a God who loves us so dearly. Out of that love my life is one of willing obedience motivated by love.

You're going to serve someone. Slave or bond servant, the choice is yours. This is the great battle of the ages, not who will rule nations or win wars, but who will win the hearts and obedience of man. That's the true battle of the ages. So which are you? Slave or bond servant? There is no third option. One master is cruel, harsh and only wishes your obedience at the cost of your eternity. For your obedience you get nothing! The other master gave his life to provide life for us, sonship, forgiveness and so much more. His invitation is simply, "follow me," and in that relationship based on love I find myself a willing bond servant because of his love for me.

Slave or bond servant, the choice is yours.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A good king rules

Psalm 97:1 The LORD reigns,
let the earth be glad;

There are some beautiful passages in Psalms that speak of God's rule over his universe, but this morning may I focus on just the first line of Psalm 97? The passage is a wonderful worship passage rich with praise for God's work and power, but this very first line in the chapter has a richness that stands alone.

There is something we must know- there must be someone in charge. This world, this universe is simply too amazing to not have a creator! To believe it all just happened takes more faith than to simply believe that God exists, but which God? What we see around us is a friendly world, one that is conducive to our lives. A world of beauty at times and a place of peace if we will seek it. There are some basic things about God that are revealed with a simply look to the creation.

1. God is good. His goodness shows up every morning. We do not live in a world with a jealous Zeus on the throne ready to kill us if we get out of line. The God of the universe is good and he's good to everyone.

2. God is faithful. Every morning the sun comes up. Every night it goes down. We know his faithfulness so well we record sunrise and sunset. He's faithful to us in his promises.

3. God is kind. There is so much to say about this it's hard to know where to start, but let me simply say that God's kindness draws us to him. It's his kindness that makes us want to know more, know him better.

The list is endless, but let me revisit the first line of Psalm 97 with a closing thought, "The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;" A good king rules the affairs of men and has sought out a relationship with us. Even when we reject his rule he still loves, reaches out, is kind and faithful. Be glad, God reigns. It's a good thing!

Monday's cartoon

Sunday, October 16, 2011


A friend in Africa posted this photo from his village. Kids can be very creative when they need to be. I think I would call this “fast food his way."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

That Christ may be all and in all

My old friend and teacher shared this with me tonight and I want to share it with you as well. Indeed, it is all about Jesus!

That Christ may be all and in all

We stand in an unbroken historical line straight back to Jesus. And it is Jesus who many times attested to the truth and reliability of scripture as given by God Himself. ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Matthew 4:4 ESV And He was quoting Old Testament scripture when He said that. And in another place He testified, “the Scripture cannot be broken.” John 10:35 And in that wonderful scene on the Emmaus Road after the Resurrection, Jesus walked along with the two disciples “and beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27 The Old Testament scriptures are about Jesus.

The New Testament scriptures are also about Jesus—all of them. It was He who inspired them and gave them authority. Jesus told the disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Mt. 28:18 ESV The night before He died, Jesus told the disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit who would “bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” So it was the authoritative words of Jesus that brought about the New Testament. He told the disciples that they had two Comforters or “paracletos” “called alongside to help” first Jesus and then the Holy Spirit. “I will not leave you as orphans,” He told them, “I will come to you.” And He came in the person of the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit inspired or “God-breathed” all the New Testament scriptures as well as the Old Testament.

So everything centers around Jesus Himself, including the inspiration of scripture, “that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:18 That's why we can sing, “From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.” Be thankful that you were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) and that He gave us the scriptures and preserved them for two thousand years so that you were able to hear the gospel and were convicted by the Holy Spirit so that He brought you to Christ.

--Pastor Burnside

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The pursuit of contentment

We have had an unusual number of days this year over 100 degrees. It's been hot! I'm amazed at how hard it is for me to be content with my circumstances, with the heat. If it's too hot, I wish it were cooler. If it's too cold, I wish it were warmer. If it's raining, I wish it weren't. If we go through a drought (as we have), we all pray for rain. We seem to enjoy being discontent. We just recently got back from a mission trip to Russia, and when asked how the trip went my first response is, "it was really hot." Why is my focus on my comfort, my contentment? Why do we all verbalize our discontent and everyone understands what we feel?

Why is it so hard for us to be content? I hear it from everyone I spend any length of time with, "If I only had ____________." Now, they may have a nice home, food, great kids, cars, enough to get by, but there is always that "one more thing" that will make them content.

We all struggle with it, and it has been a problem since the garden of Eden. In every country I have traveled the struggle for contentment is alive and well.

This morning I was reading Psalm 78 as the author recites the history of Israel and their sins. It's interesting how he views it as he writes,

Psa 78:16 He brought forth streams also from the rock And caused waters to run down like rivers.
Psa 78:17 Yet they still continued to sin against Him, To rebel against the Most High in the desert.
Psa 78:18 And in their heart they put God to the test By asking food according to their desire.
Psa 78:19 Then they spoke against God; They said, "Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?

They saw God provide rivers of water as they had asked, but is that enough? No, of course not! Can God give us bread too? And in the middle of this the author calls that discontent sin, putting God to the test.

It seems we are always trying to fill a part of us with something instead of someone. "Stuff" will never bring contentment. Our culture will make sure of that, because as soon as I get the latest and greatest of whatever toy I want then, suddenly, there is an ever better, faster more wonderful one available and I'm unhappy again.

Contentment comes from someone, not something. I see in scripture the clear teaching that contentment is a result of an intimate relationship with God. The "stuff" is another topic altogether. In fact Jesus invites us in the gospels to live our lives with open hands and freely give our "stuff" away. That's hard to do if we consider it the source of our contentment, the reason we are happy.

I love the story that Phillip Yancey tells of a friend who went on a monastic retreat. As the little monk was taking the visitor to his room he said, "Now, if there's anything you need let us know and we will teach you how to live without it."

Although I have no intention of living a monastic lifestyle it's very appealing to me because I wouldn't have all this "stuff" to worry about and drag around.

Paul discovered the secret and talks about it in Philippians. Here is what he said,

Phi 4:11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
Phi 4:12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
Phi 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Lord, teach me to be content. Help me to find my contentment in you, and not in the "stuff."

Henry Brandt says it best when he said, "My goal in life is not to get to the end of it and compare my pile of ashes to your pile of ashes."

The stuff will be thrown out, sold, given away, but an intimate relationship with the living God is priceless.

I'll gladly give all my "stuff" to get that!

But somewhere inside of me I hope I don't have to. We are sad creatures, aren't we?

Sign of the day

Here's a sign I saw at the hospital today. There are a lot of captions I would love to add to this, but have some fun and come up with your own.

Perspective for the day

It strikes me, as I read e-mails I get from all over the world, that we are most blessed! We don't even realize at times how blessed we are. Let me change your focus for the morning with a note from Kenya,

"Thank you for your daily prayers for us and also for the advice for by now I know how to pray for a needy member and let them expect from God. Today morning a girl and a boy have come telling me that they have not had a meal since yesterday morning and they said even what they had was only breakfast a cup of tea. I have just something for my family and if I have to help them it means my family will go without. God knows how my family will get their needs and that of my members."
-Pastor Winston

Did you eat breakfast this morning without a thought? Do you have food for the day? Thank God! You are most blessed!

Reflecting God's glory

This morning, as I drove in to the church, ahead of me at nearly 8 AM was the full moon. I tried to get a good photo of this beautiful site, but this is the best I could do. With this beautiful moon filling my windshield as I drove I thought about the story it's telling. The moon has no light of its own, it emits nothing by itself, all the light coming in my windshield as I drove was a reflection of the sun behind me!

It's clear from scripture that this is my job too. I have no light of my own, but I am invited by God to reflect his glory to the world around me. If I don't get in the way the world is drawn to his reflection and wants to know where that light comes from. If I do get in the way the world dismisses me as another religious nut. The one thing they can't deny, if I don't mess it up, is that my light is coming from somewhere else, it's not me.

Like the moon this morning, my job is simply to reflect the glory of God. I pray I don't get in the way of his reflection in my life. If people could see only a reflection of him in my life I would be thrilled!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I'm a mess

Psalm 40:16-17 (THE MESSAGE)

"But all who are hunting for you—
oh, let them sing and be happy.
Let those who know what you're all about
tell the world you're great and not quitting.

And me? I'm a mess. I'm nothing and have nothing:
make something of me.
You can do it; you've got what it takes—
but God, don't put it off!"

I'm with David! I am a mess! I think that's the reason I love Psalms so much. David was a man like me...a traveler, a wanderer, depressed at times, confused other times, hopeful but struggling, optimistic but discouraged, worried but a worshiper. David's life and mine....maybe yours too....are lives full of paradox.

Yes, I'm a mess, I trust and doubt almost in the same moment. I'm joyful and in despair before I can take a breath. It's an exciting life being a human indwelt by God, despairing in this life but hopeful of what's ahead. What a mess that makes us at times. I struggle with it almost all the time and yet I see God working more and more in this mess I have made of everything.

My solution and yours is God himself. It's all about him, he is the one who has made a masterpiece out of my mess. He puts order in the chaos of my life and mind. He brings peace to my panic. It's all about him, he's my hope when I think the sky is falling. He's the sunshine around me when all I can see are clouds. It's all about him, he is my solution and my hope. In my mess I have a wonderful savior who lives with me and moves me through all of my chaos to life, hope, peace, joy and rest.

And me? I'm a mess.
I'm nothing and have nothing:make something of me.
You can do it;
you've got what it takes—but God, don't put it off!"

Monday, October 10, 2011

Going somewhere

Have you ever noticed that beautiful photos often include a wandering road off into a beautiful netherworld? As I look at photos I see this often......a road stretching off into a wonderful world in the distant. I think it's part of our spiritual DNA to look ahead to a dreamy future world. I've seen few scenic photos of a wandering road heading for the dump. We look for a wonderful land ahead, a promise land of beauty, calm and wonder.

I know those photos of beauty ahead captivate me, I'm sure they do the same for others. I'm drawn to a journey with a beautiful and happy ending. As a voyager on a journey myself I hope for a wonderful destination, I long for a beautiful land ahead. I hope for a beautiful meadow and not a dump!

That's the promise of the bible, a destination ahead that will be glorious and worth the twisted journey it takes to get there. In these recent days many have become discouraged, depressed by the world around us. It's easy to lose a vision for the journey ahead, the promise land in the future. Many tell me, in one way or another, that they feel like their journey has ended at the dump, but the journey isn't over yet.

We are going somewhere. We are on a twisted road to a wonderful destination.....if we have trusted Christ as savior, if we have taken that step of faith your destination is promised to be worth the twisted roads it takes to get there. We all dream of a beautiful destination because it's a dream God gave us. We all want that destination at the end of our journey to be wonderful.

The bible promises such a destination. Some call us dreamers and foolish, but we all dream of that place whether we admit it or not. It's a destination God has impressed in each heart, each life...the destination God made us for. It's not at all a dreamy desire for an imaginary land, but a hope for reality itself. We are all going
somewhere. Where will your twisted road end?

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Happy Birthday Alice!

Grandchildren are a wonderful blessing. One of our sweet grandbabies, Alice, is 9 years old today! She's the comedian of the family and gives us all great smiles. I looked for a serious photo of her, but there are none. I think comic faces will be her default in photos for the foreseeable future. Happy birthday, sweetie, we love you!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Best time-lapse video ever made, really!

Landscapes: Volume Two from Dustin Farrell on Vimeo.

New music, "DOWNHERE"

I'm often amazed by new music and musicians I had not heard before. One of my new favorites is a group called "DOWNHERE." Their new album, On the Altar of Love, is amazing. As I write this I'm listening to the album. The lyrics as well as the music prompted me to share this find with you. It is an excellent album!

The great treat on the album is one of the artists in the group, Marc Martel. Marc's voice is absolutely amazing. I heard his voice first on a web site looking for artists to recreate the group Queen. On this site are video auditions for those trying to get the different roles in this tour. One of the voices that stood out was Marc. Below is his audition video. It is eerie to watch because his voice is so similar to Freddy Mercury's voice.

I did a search and found out that Marc is part of a the Christian group "DOWNHERE." Next step was to listen to their music and it only took a moment to realize my lucky find. If you are a music nut I would recommend their new album. I think you will love it! Here's Marc's video audition for the Queen tour, . You will be hearing more about Marc in the days ahead.

Here is one of the cuts from their album,

And just for fun,

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Living on a twisted planet

One of my favorite books is a poorly written fiction by Harold Myra titled "Escape from the twisted planet." It's a fascinating picture of life on a twisted planet and what it might be like on planets where sin never happened. The reason I love the book is the visions it paints of what life might be like without sin's pervasive influence and destroying impact. All around us, like fish in water, sin pervades all we know, all we experience. It would be difficult to imagine life without the destructive nature of sin in us and in the world around us.

If we eliminated all the jobs that deal with sin and its impact on the culture most of us would be out of work! We are used to it all, but just imagine what it would be like without all that sin has done- no prisons, no police, no hospitals, no doctors, no nurses, no congress to make laws, no courts to enforce them, no traffic signs, no fear, no anger, no jealousy, no hurts emotionally or physically, and on goes the list. If we were to make a complete list of what sin has done to us it would be much longer than you could possibly imagine! Living on a twisted planet is difficult, but it's all we know.

Go with me for moment to a place where sin has not touched its inhabitants. It's hard because we can't imagine such a place, but let's take a moment and travel to a planet that sin has not affected. The people there have no worries, no one is there to hurt them, steal from them, or reject them. There's no fear, no pain, no jealousy, no peer pressure, none of the things that are woven into our very natures on this world. It's hard to imagine because, like those fish, we can't conceive of a place without water, or a world without sin's pervasive influence.

Sin has been much more destructive to us as humans than we could possibly imagine. Even as a Christian the pull of sin in my life is still strong. I constantly battle with sin's influence and invitation.

Paul tells us that we, as Christians, are citizens of another kingdom. A kingdom sin has not touched, a world as God designed it in the beginning.....perfect. When I use the word perfect what I mean is a place that has not been twisted by the work on sin. It's a kingdom coming soon, a country on the horizon that promises and provides joy, peace, happiness, compassion, kindness, caring, community like you have never known. It's a kingdom we all long for, a place apart from the twisted planet that has left us bankrupt because of sin's work on our little broken world. It's a kingdom I'm thrilled to be a citizen of and can't wait to see. Soon we will escape from this twisted planet and discover what life was meant to be. I look forward to the day when this twisted planet is set right by God's return to claim his people and his planet. As John writes at the end of the book of Revelation, "Come, Lord Jesus, Come!"

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Life is short

"I’m sorry, it’s true. Having children really changes your view on these things. We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time. Technology is not changing it much — if at all." Steve Jobs, Apple Computer founder, who died today at age 56

Quote of the day

"Lord, glorify your name in my life at my expense." -Irwin Lutzer


Very early this morning I awoke to the thoughts of a passage from Isaiah. It's a passage focused on God and his glory. The passage has a wonderful message, but I will get to that in a moment. As I read the word a few hours later I came to these words in Ecclesiastes 5, "...a dream comes when there are many cares." It struck me that my mind, even as I slept and worried, drifted to a passage that addressed my anxious thoughts. The Holy Spirit works like that. Amazing, isn't He?

Here's the passage that came to me in the middle of the night, as I worried about things I cannot change,

Isaiah 6:3 And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

A great help in fearful chaotic times is a focus on the one thing that never changes- God himself! In the middle of a struggling economy, people out of work, friends in Africa who have no food for their children, families and kids struggling, work problems all around, people in crisis in their marriages, the one thing I can know is that the God of the universe is still on the throne, fully in charge of my life and circumstances. He is constantly being worshiped by those around him. That upward look, that glance to the God of glory is often needed for me as I lose my way in the chaos of the days.

The words that came to my mind this morning were these,

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

The one thing I most need to see is that the God of the universe is holy, wonderfully and gloriously worshiped by all who are around him. And all around us is a world full of his glory. It created a response in Isaiah that is mine as well....he said, "I'm undone!" He was humbled, undone, broken in God's presence. All that had his attention in life was suddenly washed away in God's presence and he stood undone, broken, humbled.

It's a proper response for those who see God.

As these words came to me in the early hours of the day it brought joy to me for the worship it initiated, but it brought sadness as well that I would continue to doubt him, to not trust him after so many years of seeing his love, care and provision. How could I ever doubt his love and care for me when all of heaven rejoices every moment at his wonderful holiness? I'm most grateful that even as I dream and worry God is working to bring my weary mind into his presence to witness with Isaiah his glory and the worship of those around him.

If they are worshiping all the time, if they trust him to care for them and simply enjoy his presence and celebrate who he is then why can't I? Why don't I?

Holy is the Lord, most wonderful to help us in our time of need! Glorious in every way, thank you, Lord, for your care and love that meets our needs even while we sleep.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Lighting your darkness

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I am the light of the world? Me? How is that possible? How does that work? In a dark world I'm called to illuminate the darkness around me? Illuminate the darkness of other people? Me? How can I do that? How can I bring light to my world?

It's an identity that Jesus gave us. It's a reality that doesn't come by my own power, by my ability to be light my way, my world; but it comes through me, apart from me, powered and supplied by someone else, by Christ himself. It's a light from another source that makes us each a light in our world.

Like everyone around me I have no light in myself, but because of someone else shining through me I find even my life provides light for others so they can find their way. Jesus said, (John 9:5) "While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

At an amazing moment in time Jesus came into my life and saved me, made me new, changed my eternity, but what I didn't know....what most don't that in that moment he made me a lighthouse for the world around me. He came into my life and continued being a light in the world through me! Through you! Through each one who will allow him to shine through them.

In a dark world we are called to do one simple thing- "let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

How? Simply let the light of Christ shine through you, walk in his Spirit, light the way for the world you walk in. It's one of our greatest honors and responsibilities, being a light in a dark world.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Quote of the day

"God has more grace in his heart than you have sin in your life.

Jesus is a better Savior than you are a sinner." -Ray Pritchard

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Sold out for God

My friend and missionary, Brandon, posted this on his blog. I've heard the story many times over the years, but you may have never heard what some have done for the gospel. Here are two men who gave everything for the gospel and those who had never heard. Wonderfully challenging!

Finding meaning

Ecclesiastes is a fascinating book. It's Solomon's journal as he looked for meaning. He begins with these words,

2 “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”

3 What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. 6 The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. 7 Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. 8Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

9 History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. 11 We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.

If you don't see the "big picture" as you read this journal by Solomon you would really get depressed! Man, apart from a meaning and purpose, will simply live out his life, working for food, and then die. It's really a sad story if this is all there is.

As I write this on the first day of October I'm blessed to be sitting at a lake cabin some good friends loaned us for a couple days. A brief getaway, but very refreshing. I'm sitting on the patio, drinking some great coffee and looking at the lake. It's rather cold, but wonderful after the summer we have had. As I read Solomon's words and then copied them here I thought about the brevity of life, the constant search for purpose, significance, for meaning. We work our entire lives to find something worth living for. Finding meaning in life is vital because, as Solomon wrote, if this is all there is then why bother? If all I am is another animal living out my life, but with the sense to know that, this is the cruelest joke of all. Even my dog has a better life than mine if there is no meaning!

I think this topic is vital to our quest in life...our quest for significance, for meaning. We want our lives to mean something, to make a difference. If this life is all there is then eat, drink and be merry! This topic is the very reason my atheist friends are so angry....they want meaning, purpose, significance in their lives, but believe they are simply animals on the way to the grave and that's the end. If that's all we have to look forward to then I'd be mad too!

But here's the rub to all of this...the fact that I search for more, want more than food and clothing...the innate desire for meaning tells me I'm much more than my dog. It tells me there is more, it draws me out to find it. The desire for meaning is proof that there's something more, that I'm more than just an animal on my way to the grave. Where did that desire, that hunger for meaning come from? If there is no meaning then why do we all desire it? All of this hints at something more, someone more. If my desire for more has no fulfillment then we are the most pathetic of races. As Solomon finishes his journal he concludes this, "here is the conclusion of the matter; Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man."

Finding meaning is possible. The very desire to live for something, to leave a mark, to make a difference is the voice of God speaking to each one that there's more. This life is not all there is. There is meaning to find and it's not in the temporal things of this's in God himself and a relationship with him. Finding meaning and purpose are all wrapped up in the God who made us. Until you find him your quest is incomplete.

Saturday's cartoon