Thursday, November 28, 2013


Give thanks!  It's the theme of David in Psalms.  Thank who?  The one who gives us all we have with kindness and grace...the air we inhale, the sun to warm us, the food we eat, the people we love....and so much more. Today I'm thankful for all that a good God has provided.  Thank you God.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thankful, day 2

My mom flew in yesterday.  What a treat to have her with us for a week.  My dad passed away only 5 months ago so this time with her is wonderful.  

Today I'm thankful for family and the joy of time with people you love.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thankful, day 1

It's Thanksgiving week here in the states.  It began as a time of thanks for God's provisions, but that has been long lost to the time off, too much food and football.

Some do still take a bit of time to be thankful.  A few even express that to God.  So this week I will take just a few words each day and say thank you to the God who gives us ALL THINGS to richly enjoy.

Day 1- Today I'm thankful for God's love.  It's not so much a tangible thing you can eat or touch, but it's real in how it works out in our lives.  Because he loves us he's not waiting for us to do something wrong so he can punish us.  He is constantly reaching out to his men and women with love.  His invitation to a relationship is always open.  His response to my approach is never a frown, but always a smile.  Today I'm thankful I worship a GOOD God who loves me....who loves everyone.  Today I want to say, "Thank you, God, for your love.  It's most wonderful be be an object of your love and not your wrath.  Thank you for your love."

"God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.  This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." 1 John 4

Friday, November 22, 2013

Why are you so angry?

This week I received a comment on a post I wrote more than a year ago.  It was clearly from an atheist. This person was angry, abusive, insulting and hostile because of my thoughts and faith.  I wasn't surprised, but then again I am a bit....why are you so angry? Why are you mad at me for my faith, for my belief in God?

They would tell me it's because so much evil has been done in the name of god, but they don't know me to make that claim of my life.

Why are they so angry at me for believing there is a God in heaven who made everything? The truth is they aren't mad at me, they don't even know me.  They are really mad at God...yes, they're mad at God.  But they claim they don't believe in him...and yet they can't help themselves...they're mad at HIM....and so they take it out on those who do believe.  

David wrote, 

Why are the nations so angry?

    Why do they waste their time with futile plans?

They're angry because they know, even though they deny it, that there is a God and they have to deal with him....and they don't want to! They don't want him in their lives, they don't want him in their worldview, they don't want him to exist and so, ultimately, the God they are mad at will give them their way and leave them alone...but even that will make them mad.

Man cannot live without God and for some who don't want to acknowledge him that makes them furious.  One author wrote a humorous piece and noted that atheists, who don't believe in God, actually talk about him and write about him more than those of us who do believe. 

Why are they so angry?  Because God won't go away, he won't be dismissed so easily. And that makes any rebel mad.

50 years ago today

We each have life changing events happen in our lifetime.  For my generation it was the assassination of our president on this day 50 years ago.  It was a day we all remember.  We remember where we were when we heard. We remember the moment.  Life events are like that.  They embed themselves in our memories and change us. This was one of those events.  Where were you when you heard? How did it affect you?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Quote of the day

In the presence of light, you see darkness. In the presence of power, you see weakness. In the presence of beauty, you see ugliness. In the presence of God, you see your need for grace. -Tim Keller

Far more...

Eph. 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do...
that we ask or think, 

according to the power that works within us, 

to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus 
to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

The culmination of the first three chapters of Ephesians are these words in 3:20-21.  They are a benediction often recited in church, but they are more than that.  They are the words of overview, of conclusion about all that Paul has written in the first three chapters.

Read these words again and watch as Paul tries to overwhelm you with the vastness, the greatness, the amazing provision of God in Christ,

 to Him...
 who is able to do...

that we ask or think,

What Paul is trying to say is that your prayers can never come close to all that God wants to do in your lives, you can never ask big enough prayers, never reach the limit of his provision, never exhaust his willingness to answer.  

What Paul is saying is that God is much bigger, much more able, much more willing than you have ever imagined, ever dreamed, to meet every need of your life.  It's encapsulated in his grand provision for our salvation. He didn't just do "enough", but he did...

we could ever need for salvation.

In other words no one can sin so much that they could or would exhaust the grace and forgiveness of God. He would never say to anyone, "Oh, I'm sorry, you went over the line, I can't forgive THAT!" His provisions for our sins is far more than we will ever need.  As strange as it sounds, his forgiveness is far more than our sin.

In the same way he has provided for everything else in our lives in the same lavish over the top way.  He has provided...

that we ask or think,

and he's able and willing to meet our needs, answer our prayers, extend his grace, forgive our sins, and demonstrate his love in this far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think fashion. 

God wants you to know he's the most lavish provider and giver you will ever know or experience. He wants to give far more than you could ever ask, ever imagine, ever dream!  

He will show it to you, give it to you, forgive those sins, extend that grace, answer that prayer to demonstrate his over-the-top-beyond-your-imagination love provided in Jesus Christ!

Why is he doing all this? Why did Jesus have to die? Why is God still reaching out to us, loving us, forgiving us, meeting our needs?

He's doing it so that everyone will see his love, his amazing love poured out "lavishly" through what Christ did for us to meet every need, heal every wound, answer every prayer, forgive every that in everything Jesus Christ will be the glory of God! 

It's far more than you could ever imagine or even dream!

Monday, November 18, 2013

40 years ago today...

40 years ago today a pretty young woman met Jesus and me on the same morning. She has been the love of my life now for almost 40 years, she says, "I met Jesus and Mike on the same day, but I never get them mixed up." What a great day of memories and celebration for that pretty young woman, Joye, and the man that fell in love with her.

I am truly blessed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Quote of the day

"If you want to make people mad, preach law.  If you want to make them really, really mad, preach grace." -Dr. Doug Kelly (from One Way Love by Tulian Tchvidjian)

...Tulian Tchvidjian writes further,

"The law offends us because it tells us what to do-and most of the time, we hate anyone telling us what to do. But ironically, grace offends us even more, because it tells us that there is nothing we can do, that everything has already been done.  And if there is something we hate more than being told what to do, it's being told that we can't do anything, that we can't earn anything- that we are helpless, weak, and needy."

Working on the main things

It's so easy to get frantic with all we have to do these days.  I'm constantly bombarded by more things than I could possibly do in two lifetimes, so how do I deal with this frantic pace our culture has us all on? How do I focus on the core things, the main things that really matter?

This morning I came to these words in 1 John 3,

And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them.

As I read those words it suddenly hit me that these two things are the main things to focus my life upon. If I could just do these two things well the rest would work out!  So what are the implications of these two seemingly simple commands?

First, believe in the name of his son, Jesus Christ. When I believe in something, really believe, I put my full weight and trust in it. That's the invitation of this command. To believe in the name of his son is to put your full weight and trust in him for and about everything!  For me that works out in my eternity, my prayers, my access to God, my trust in his word, my dependence on him for my needs....and on and on.  It means that I really believe all that Jesus said and did putting my full weight on him to be and do what he said he would do!  That's a much bigger task than I realize most of the time.

And second, that simple yet most difficult task- love one another.  If God wanted me to do this why didn't he surround me with lovable people?  Instead, probably like you, I'm surrounded with messed up, goofy, struggling, runny nose people....and he expects me to love them?  YES!  That's my job! That's your job!  

We are given only two things to do and we struggle with both of them!  In just one passage God gives us eternity changing tasks to do, believe in his son and all that means, and love others.  If I can focus my attention on these two things everything else will work out and the frantic madness around me will calm.  If only I could do these two things well!

Lord, help me to really believe in Jesus Christ, your son, and all that means. And help me love others...with all their warts and problems.  Help me to focus my life and time on just these two things and while I do them would you work out everything else?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Psalm 104:19
He made the moon for the seasons; 
The sun knows the place of its setting.

If you live in a part of the world where the seasons change it's always wonderful to have a change, a change in color, a change in temperature, a change in the air.  Where I came from the winter has snow that marks a time of year of rest for the ground and for those who work it.  The seasons are reminders of the passing of time. They remind us that God's faithful.  He said the seasons would come every year and the seasons themselves proclaim God's promise to us until the end.  

It's fall here.  Cool, refreshing, cold this morning, but what a wonderful reminder of God's faithful love and power.  And the colors!  Isn't he an amazing artist?  

Fall has come, enjoy the moments of this brief season and thank God for his wonderful provision and love that shown even in the changing of the leaves.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Another year

Today is my birthday.

As a youth I always thought people as old as I am today were "old", but I don't feel that old.  In fact, I'm not even a century into eternity, so in light of how much of the real life I have ahead of me I've only just begun!

If my life was only measured in the years I have here on earth it would be most frustrating to see them pass so quickly, but because of Christ....because of what God has done, these few years are just the beginning!  

So today, at 63, I celebrate another year to love God, love people and be part of an eternal kingdom that makes these few years here a wonderful beginning to the billions ahead!

Thursday, November 07, 2013


Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got. 

Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. 

Wouldn't you like to get away? 

Sometimes you want to go 

Where everybody knows your name, 

and they're always glad you came. 
You wanna be where you can see, 
our troubles are all the same 
You wanna be where everybody knows 
Your name. 

You wanna go where people know, 

people are all the same, 
You wanna go where everybody knows 
your name. 


Those are the lyrics to the theme song from the T.V. show "Cheers".  The lyrics speak to our common longing. We want to be known, we want someone to know who we are.  We all want friends.  And yet, in our culture today friends, real friends, are hard to find and even harder to define.

Today I had lunch with one of the guys from our church.  He welcomed me with this question and a troubled frown, "Do you consider us friends or just acquaintances?"  That beginning didn't bode well for the visit to follow.  The reason for his question was the awareness that he really doesn't have many friends and was I one of them?

Friends are rare.  Real friends that is.  It takes years to get to know someone and often longer to really trust them.  Chuck Swindoll said, "If you have eight men at your funeral who don't look at their watches you had a good life."  Isn't it sad that most of us have so few we connect with, even fewer who know us and care about us.

In the last two weeks I have visited with several of our men and in the visit asked them, "So, do  you have any friends?"  Both answered, to my amazement, "No".  How sad that we live in a culture surrounded by others and no one knows us, no one cares.  How have we let this happen?  Why are we so fearful of the emotional intimacy a friend would offer?

 It's even worse for our young adults.  They have grown up with electronics between themselves and others.  Many have thousands as "friends" on Facebook, but know no one personally!  It's a tragedy that is beginning to reveal itself in the suicides of lonely people with thousands of "friends" who have never met them.

So how do we move from this loneliness to relationship? How do we connect in a way that bridges the chasm we feel between us and others?  And, even more important, what is a "friend" anyway?  That question was one we asked our waiter today as my friend and I discussed our relationship.  Even our young waiter didn't really know.

Here's a project for you to work on, an assignment if you wish:  Write down on a piece of paper five names of people you consider friends.  Then, call them. Talk to them. Tell them how important their friendship is in your life.  No, you can't text them or send them a note on Facebook.  That's missing the point entirely.  You have to talk to them. Really talk to them...and even them for a meal.  It will make a difference in your life you never imagined.  It will refresh your soul and brighten your day!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Many years ago....

Many years ago a couple in our church had their first and only child.  He was born on this day and they named him Jason.  He's grown now.  Both his mother and father have died in recent years, but Jason continues on.  I sent him a note today wishing him a happy birthday and wrote about how proud his parents were the day he was born.  I still remember it like it was yesterday!

Many years ago a couple had a baby boy and unless we celebrate these moments and talk about them they evaporate into the vapors of the past.  "Many years ago" disappears into history only because we don't celebrate the moments that changed our lives, we forget to remember.

Today, think back on a fond memory of someone in your past and then take a moment and call them, text them, e-mail them and tell them about your sweet memory of another day they may not even know about.  Many years ago a baby boy was born and his parents were so proud and named him Jason.  And I remember.....

Monday, November 04, 2013

When I was young....

When I was young I thought I knew everything, but didn't.
Now that I'm older I know I really don't know much at all and that's ok.

When I was young I thought I would live forever.
Now that I'm older I know I will live forever, but not here.

When I was young I wasn't afraid of anything because I didn't know better.
Now that I'm older I know fear well.  It has helped me grow in my faith in God.

When I was young I only rarely knew pain.
Now that I'm older I know pain as an intimate friend and companion.

When I was young days lasted forever.
Now that I'm older I know the days soon will last forever.

When I was young I knew Jesus as savior.
Now that I'm older I know his as friend.

When I was young love was a feeling.
Now that I'm older I know love as a person.

When I was young visions of  greatness seemed the most important quest.
Now that I'm older I know that greatness is highly overrated!

Now that I'm older I know God better than I ever dreamed I would,
but still only know him as a child knows his father.

Now that I'm older I look forward to the day
when I will know him even as I am known,
when I will see him face to face.

I long for that day.

Promise for the day

They shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more. 
Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

 I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance,
and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the Lord.”  
Jer. 31.12-13 esv

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Whales, worthless idols and grace (revisited)

I wrote these words a few years ago.  Today they ring even clearer as our world chases worthless idols.  All around us is the quest for the idols of the world...fame, success, money...and yet in the quest for those things we forfeit the most important thing. Your choice (and mine) is simple...worthless idols or grace.  You can't have both.

I came to Jonah chapter two this morning and as I read I stopped at verse 8. Rather, verse 8 stopped me! I read it over at least 10 times as I thought about Jonah's words,
Jonah 2:8- "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs."
These words were part of Jonah's prayer when he finally gave in to God's will as he sat in the belly of the big fish. At the end of this prayer God instructs the fish to spit him out and Jonah finally obeys God's commands to him.  But let me camp for a minute on this verse..."Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." I honestly had never seen this verse before. It had to be there for the first time today. I know I have read this passage hundreds of times before, but I never saw this. It's profound! It's life changing to me. When we cling to the worthless idols of our lives we forfeit (miss, give up) the grace that COULD BE OURS. You can't hold onto your idols and grasp grace as well. You have to let go of one to find the other. I looked up the definition of forfeit for this discussion and here's what it means: "something to which the right is lost, as for commission of a crime or misdeed, neglect of duty, or violation of a contract." Another way of saying this is, "Those who cling to worthless idols lose the right to the grace that could be theirs." What idols are you clinging to that make you forfeit the grace that could be yours? What benefits of grace have we given up to have something worthless instead? Let me invite you to meditate on this verse for a bit and share your the belly of the big fish Jonah has shared with us an amazing truth to help us contrast the grace of God and any other option. It is, ultimately, the choice between the Christian faith and any other- grace or worthless idols. Cling to one and you will forfeit the other.

Friday, November 01, 2013


Choices. We make them every day. The results of those choices affect the course of our lives and all the choices ahead. Once we make a choice we can no longer make the other choice. Our course is set. Now a multitude of other choices on the other path are no longer ours. Now we must take the path of our choice with all that follows. We find new decisions to make, but the choice of the other path is no longer ours.

Often, as I talk with people at their crossroads struggling with the choice of which way to go I find they are already regretting the choice they plan to make. They know their choice is the wrong one and the path will not end well, but they don't want to take the other path. What they don't realize is that one choice eliminates the choices the other path might offer. Suddenly, once they start walking down one road the choices possible on the other road are gone.

I watch as they struggle at the crossroads, struggle with the decisions they face. Often they tell me they want what lies down both paths, but only one choice can be made. What none of us know is what other choices might be ours if we choose the right path. (Of course this last statement implies that one choice is right and the other wrong.) There are a hundred choices down each path, but none are known to us until we choose one and start the adventure.

It strikes me that the struggle at the crossroads is the choice of my way or God's way. That is the core decision at each crossroad we face, isn't it? At each point of decision I must decide to submit my will to God's way or choose my own way and hope for the best. It's a choice that should be obvious and simple, but it's really not. We live with fantasy and fear dominating our minds and thoughts. The fantasy of what could have been and the fear of what might be cause us to doubt that God's way will be for our good so we choose our own path, our own way.

This morning I faced those crossroads with another friend. I watched as he languished over his choices. As best I could I told him what lay down each road. I watched as he turned this way, then that. From years of standing at the crossroads with others I already know he has chosen the wrong path, but I know too that I can't force anyone to submit to God's will in their lives. That's a decision of the heart. Once they trust God with the results the decision of course is easy. Until that submission of heart and will is given to God the battle rages on.

As you face your own crossroads pray this simple prayer, "Lord, I want your way, your will in my life and not my own. Show me which way to go." In that simple prayer you have made the most important choice anyone will ever make when they come to the crossroads.

There are a number of verses in the Bible that deal with this very idea, but let me simply offer this one as I finish my thoughts, Proverbs 14:12-13 "There's a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell.Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak." THE MESSAGE


I'm reading Tullian's new book, "One way love".  It's a great work on the topic of grace and so far really well done. I will keep you updated, but today I just wanted to share a quote from this book that caught my attention,

"Grace is unconditional acceptance given to an undeserving person by an unobligated giver. It is one-way love."