Thursday, December 25, 2008

Labor Of Love

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David's town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Present for a Friend

A friend of ours called and asked for us to provide a Christmas present for her daughter. Her daughter had mentioned how she would like to know what various people had as their favorite Bible verse or passage and why it was important to them. So her mom was collecting these to place into a little keepsake book and she asked if we would participate. I agreed and thought I would share the same contents here.

My favorite verse or passage is II Corinthians 4:16-18 "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

This passage is so powerful! It gives us hope to face any trial or struggle that may come our way as believers. Here we see the proper perspective we are to have as we face this thing we call life, we are to view them as light afflictions. Barely an issue for us, certainly no problem for God. We also see that not only are our struggles not an issue for God, but we also see that God is working through them in His divine purposes for our good. For He is using them to "prepare for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison." I'm not sure what the weight of glory is, but I can't wait to find out! But there is a caveat, our focus or vision. What are we looking at? There is nothing that we can see with our physical eyes that will matter in the end, but with the eyes of our heart (Ephesians 1:18) we can be Christ focused and cross centered. A quote I borrowed from someone goes like this, "People with eternal natures cannot be made happy by temporal things." Keep your eyes on the prize of Christ Jesus and you will find that any challenge that God asks you to face will seem as nothing in the end when it is compared with the supreme knowledge of knowing Christ.

Now playing: Third Day - Show Me Your Glory
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Glimpse Into Forgiveness

For those of you who know the Scott Willis family, here are a few articles that shine a light into what Biblical forgiveness looks like. For those of you who may not know, ex-Governor Ryan of Illinois just recently asked for a Presidential pardon that has brought the Willis story back into the limelight. Scott and Janet Willis's response is gracious and Biblical and it is a response we could all learn from. You can read the Chicago Tribune article here and another portion of the story here.

Now playing: Sara Groves - Less Like Scars
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We Now Return To Our Regular Scheduled Blogging

After the last few hectic weeks I feel almost as if I can breathe again. I hope to start blogging again soon and maybe even try to get a Christmas letter out (I'm not betting on the last part.) Anyway, I just thought I would let everyone know that we are still alive and are still maintaining the status quo.

I also wanted to let you know of a very good new album that was just released by Covenant Life Church. It is an album of 10 of the most loved hymns of the church. They keep the melodies of the hymns the same but update the instrumentation that normally goes with them. For those who are not aware, Covenant Life is affiliated with Sovereign Grace Ministries so you can expect the same quality in this new album as you would get on the albums from Sovereign Grace. Here is the best part. You can get if for free! Noise Trade is offering it as a free download. Just provide them with a few e-mails (you can use mine as one of them) and you get the album for free.

If you are in the Christmas music mood yet, you might want to take a listen to the group Sojourn and their album Advent Songs. More folk sounding with a couple of original rewrites of standard classic Christmas hymns, I really like this album. It is also free at Noise Trade.

You can find both albums here as well as many others.

Now playing: Covenant Life Church - And Can It Be
via FoxyTunes

Monday, November 17, 2008

Covenant of Grace

This year I am teaching two home-school history classes. One is a continuation of the class that I have been teaching for the last 4 years. This class is for older kids and both of my boys attend this class. The second class is for younger kids, fourth grade and under. Hannah, my daughter, attends this one. In the younger class we have literally gone back to the very beginning of history. The first event in history that we studied with the younger class was Creation. From there we move through Biblical and world history and see how and when they overlap. It has been a good reminder for me to go back and revisit some things that I haven't looked at or considered in four years.

About a week ago we studied God's covenant with Abram as recorded in Genesis 15. It was such a powerful story and is so applicable to us today as believers that I wanted to share it in a post, so here we go. (Warning; this may be lengthy.)

The first thing we must understand in examining the covenant process is to realize that this process was common place in the ancient middle east. A covenant is simply a promise between two parties to agree to follow through on a set of conditions or circumstances. These were very solemn agreements and were not to be taken lightly. Often times a covenant would extend past those who made the promise to all of their descendants.

The example that I used in the class was to imagine two neighbors who were both farmers shared a watering hole for their sheep. These two neighbors would promise each other through a covenant to allow each other access to the watering hole. They would both agree to enter into a covenant with each other and would then arrange the covenant process.

The act of making a covenant often involved cattle or sheep for sacrifice. The two parties involved would kill the animals by severing them into two pieces, the front half and the back half. They would then separate the pieces of their sacrifice by placing them a certain distance apart. This would create a pathway between the halves of their sacrifice. It also left a significant amount of blood that connected the two halves. The two farmers in our illustration would then walk on the path of blood between the severed halves of the animal. This act was a declaration of promise to hold to the terms of the agreement. This act also stated to the other who was involved that if they did not uphold their end of the covenant that there would be a penalty. They were literally stating as they walked through the sacrifice that if they violated the terms of the covenant that the other party could then do to them what they had just done to the animals. So, the making of a covenant was literally an oath of death.

That takes us to Genesis 15. I will assume that you can read the text yourself, but I will summarize the story for you. God tells Abram to gather a cow, a goat, a ram, and some birds to prepare them for the covenant process. Abram obeys and sacrifices the animals and then severs
all but the birds into two pieces, separating them and leaving the trail of blood in the middle between them. As nightfall comes, God places Abram into a deep sleep. In a vision, while sleeping, Abram sees a smoking oven and a burning torch pass between the animal halves. God then speaks to Abram and promises again to fulfill His covenant with him.

A simple reading of this narrative provides us with a glimpse one of the seemingly odd stories that make up the Old Testament. It is easy to skim over stories like this and miss what is going on within the text. However there are some important things to draw out of this passage. One of the most important is not what we read in the text, but rather what we don't read. If you read the text you will notice that the only things that walk between the halved sacrifices were a smoking oven and a burning torch. These two items are representative of God. It was a burning bush that revealed the I AM to Moses. By smoke and flame God would lead His children, Israel, out of Egypt. Mount Sinai became a smoking mountain as the most holy God handed down His law to His people in Exodus 20. So the interesting thing in this covenant between God and Abram is that God alone agrees to the covenant. This is the oddest of all covenants because it is completely one-sided. Abram does not walk through. He can't because there is nothing he can do to uphold his end of the covenant. Abram is simply left to trust by faith that God will grant through His grace what God has sworn to do.

There is only one term that is placed on the covenant for Abram and his descendants. That requirement is simply obedience to God. If Abram cannot obey God, he violates the terms of the covenant. But that is where the imagery of this covenant gets so powerful. Because God was the only one who walked through the sacrifice, He is the only one who upholds it. The statement that God makes as He alone passes through the blood is that if either party violates the covenant, then He alone will take the punishment. God cannot violate His terms of the covenant because they rest on the very promise of who He is. There is no way Abram can keep his one condition of the covenant for he is sinful and can only fail. Yet God declares as He walks in the blood that should either party fail to keep the covenant that He will pay the penalty.

For me, this is such a powerful picture of grace and mercy. For it was in this ceremony 2000 years before He would send His own son into the world that He had already promised the sacrifice. As the God the Father passed through the bloody path He was declaring that He was the sacrifice. It is as if God said, "Abram, what you have done to these animals, I will do to myself. So that I may pour the riches of my love and mercy upon you, I will send my own Son, God of very God, to fulfill this covenant promise."

So we see the covenant and the cross tied together in scripture. It adds a new dimension or another facet cut on the jewel of God's grace when we read a passage like Isaiah 53 and realize that this had been His divine purpose since before that desert night in the middle of Canaan.

4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

Now playing: Derek Webb - She Must and Shall Go Free
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lights in the World

12Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

14Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

Emphasis mine.

Now playing: Casting Crowns - If We Are the Body
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Anyone who spends a short amount of time with Kim will learn that she has a passion about getting good deals in shopping. She coupons most of the time and is frequently sending in rebates. As I have said before, she lives the example of the Proverb's 31 wife who shops for the field, waits until it goes on clearance, pays for it with coupon in hand, and then sends in a rebate to make it free.

Monday evening she came home from work and as she walked into the door she said, "I need the camera."
I asked, "Why?"
Her reply was, "Do you love me?"
At this moment there are warning bells going off in my head, the whole flashing lights and the "awoogaa!, awoogaa!" But with camera in hand and all three children in tow we walked out to the car. It seems that Kim had gone to Walgreens after work to pick up a few things. When she walked in she noticed a large cart full of Halloween items that Walgreens was trying to get rid. Now understand, we aren't Halloween people. We don't do all of the decorating and we don't hand out candy. Our kids have gotten past the age for trick or treating and frankly I am glad. Anyway, Kim asked the manager how much for the cart of stuff. The manager said that the carts were $10 apiece and that there were 2 carts left. As Kim mulled this over the manager said that they wanted to get rid of it and that she would give Kim both carts for $15. At this time Kim knew she wanted the candy in the carts, but not all of the rest of it. However another lady walked up at that very moment and asked how much for the cart and before the manager could reply, Kim said, "I'll take all of it." By all of it, the manager decided that she meant all of it. So for $15 Kim got the 2 large carts full of stuff and then the manager and assistant manager loaded every remaining Halloween item in the store into the trunk and backseat of Kim's car. All of it for $15.

To sweeten the deal, our neighbor came over and took a bunch of the Halloween decorations and paid Kim $5. Kim didn't ask for the $5, but the neighbor insisted since she took so much stuff. So we only ended paying $10 out of pocket. If you are doing the Christmas Child shoeboxes and need candy, please call us. Also, if anyone has need of a bunch of plastic pumpkins, shoot me an e-mail . . . please shoot me an e-mail.

A partial list follows;
200 plus treat bags.
30 Large plastic Jack-o-lantern pumpkins.
3 witch hats with wig.
multiple window clings.
4 large pop-up lawn ornaments.
Many various ceramic Halloween decorating items.
75 large bags of candy.
Plus more than I care to list.

The reason for the purchase was the candy. We will send most of the candy in shoe boxes to Samaritan's Purse so that they may distribute it to children around the world.

I have a few pictures that really don't do the the event justice. Sorry about the quality of the pictures. Our regular camera is on the fritz.

Most of the stuff piled up in our living room.

The trunk of the car before we unloaded it.

The backseat of the car.

Now playing: Laura Story - Bless the Lord
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Psalm 62 My Soul Finds Rest

I came across this new song that I can't recommend enough. It's by Aaron Keyes and Stuart Townend. Enjoy!

Now playing: Caedmon's Call - Mystery of Mercy
via FoxyTunes

Monday, October 27, 2008


I'm not an emotional person. What I mean by that is that I am not easily moved to tears. In fact I would be hard pressed to recall the last time that I did cry. Not any time in the last few years of that I am sure. I don't say that out of some prideful masculine bravado, but rather, I am just stating the fact that is. Sometimes I wish tears would come easier. At times I feel as if though my lack of tears are indicative of a cold and uncaring heart. I hope that is not the case. I confess this in my life for two reasons. First, I pray that God would create in me a tenderness for the world directly around me. That His Spirit would let me see with eyes that see past the faces of people to the souls that are perishing within. That I would be living more and more with an eternal kingdom perspective. Secondly, I would like to draw attention to two new blogs that I have linked to on the side. I have started reading them recently and I recommend them heartily. Sometimes they are quite humorous, but very often they move me to be shaken to my core. In the writings of these two ladies, I see a glimpse of just how much hurting this world has in it. Their posts almost move me to tears frequently and that says a lot. Yet I continue to read due to the quality and the uniqueness of their posts, but more importantly because they show me how small my world is and how much more I need to be doing for Christ's kingdom.

Some of their latest posts that I recommend can be found here at 6 Year Med and Ali's African Adventures.

Now playing: Sara Groves - It Might Be Hope
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Clarity of Christ in Speech

I am reminded of these verses this morning.

Col 4:2-6 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (emphasis mine)

I need to be reminded that my speech and the words of my mouth are one device that God can use to draw others to Him, whether they are believers or unbelievers. Far too often I speak impulsively or react suddenly with my mouth. Not necessarily in anger, but maybe more so to make sure that my point is heard. To make sure that my opinion matters. In reality, it doesn't.

What should matter when I speak is how clearly Christ is being heard. Isn't that the point of 1 Corinthians 13:1, that no matter how eloquently I speak, the effectiveness of my speech should be weighed by it's content of Christ and His love shining through. Without the love of God driving my motives, I become as annoying as a small child who will only play "Chopsticks" on the piano because it is the only song they know. In those moments or in the times of incessant tapping where I just cry out, "Stop it! You are driving me crazy!" May I then be reminded again of my speech and my need for God's grace in this area of my life also.

Do I weigh my words before I speak,
In the shadow of the Cross?
Is Christ clearly seen in every way,
My walk and talk and thought?
Do others all around me,
See any evidence of Him,
Or do they continue on their way
Just living as they've been?
May I hesitate to answer.
May I pause before I speak.
May I be more willing to be taught,
Less likely than to teach.
May sprinkled in the words I say,
God's grace be shown divine.
So all may see Christ's glory shine,
His kingdom built, not mine.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Best Father Ever

For years I have coached my children in every sport they have been involved in. Basketball, baseball, soccer, whatever it is I have been involved and have enjoyed it immensely. I am not one of those parent/coaches that is under the delusion that their son or daughter is the best player on the field. I am a realist. My children are athletic and each of them have gifts that make them excel at certain things in the sport that they are involved in. At no time have they ever been the most gifted athlete on the team that they are playing for. I recognize that and only ask from them that they provide their best effort.

In saying all of that, it has been somewhat embarrassing as a baseball coach to have a child who can't catch a pop fly ball to save his life. If Caleb has had one severe deficiency in his baseball game, it has been his inability to catch a pop fly ball when he plays the outfield. As a coach you realize these things and instead play a player at a position where they can excel, like first base. At first base, he is close to the action, has a good glove, isn't afraid of the ball, and most of the time can catch a pop-up in the infield. He just cannot play the outfield.

Last week Caleb got contacts for his eyes. Turns out he can't see anything far away. We realized we had a problem a few weeks ago when a large sewage waste truck came down the road and Caleb said, "Here comes a bus." Maybe I should have asked a few years ago while coaching him if he could actually see the ball coming at him.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dogs and Cats

Someday soon I hope to get back to actually writing something original. Until then this will have to do. Someone sent this in an e-mail to me the other day. I laughed out loud.

From a Dog's Diary...

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

From a Cat's Daily Diary...

Day 983 of my captivity.
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in
order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made
condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my
confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell,
so he is safe. For now ...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dancing in Church

I have nothing to say other than to warn you against drinking anything while watching this.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Time Wasting Recommendations

Tim Challies had a link to this fascinating article today. It is ten things you didn't know about the earth. Some of it is over my head, but all in all it shows to me the sovereign hand of God in creation. Click here to read the whole article.

Within that article is a very cool mapping tool. Well, at least it is amusing. Remember when you were a kid and you thought if you dug a hole straight down you would end up in China? Turns out you were probably wrong. However, you can find out where you would have ended up if you did dig the hole by going to the map tunneling tool.

I came across this site a while back and have forgotten to post it, but here it is now. It is a free music/pay as much as you want to music site founded by Derek Webb of Caedmon's Call fame. The site has a good variety of Christian music and it is all free to download. You have to provide three e-mail addresses in order to get the free music. Yes, you may use my e-mail address as one of the three. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Signs You Might Be A Fundamentalist

A friend of mine told me about this recent thread over at Sharper Iron. I couldn't help but laugh out loud at some of them. This was what I grew up with and some of these (very funny, but often true) examples are why I am no longer a fundamentalist. Most of these I have pulled from the thread, though I will add a few of my own. Enjoy!

* If you've ever watched Sheffy on New Year's Eve.
* If you can tell a person's spiritual condition by a passing glance at their CD rack.
* If you actually believe NIV stands for Non-Inspired Version.
* If none of the preachers you know called "Dr." have earned degrees.
* If you've ever worn culottes, over snow pants, while skiing.
* If you've roller skated to Majesty Music.
* If you've heard more rock music played backward than forward.
* If you ever dressed up as a Bible character in late October for "Harvest Festival."
* If you know what a "six inch rule" is.
* If you were taught that the better option than the "six inch rule" was to place your KJV between you and your date.
* If you've had to get on your knees to have your skirt length measured, and you ever carried safety pins in your purse to pin necklines and skirt slits.
* If you are scientifically certain that the hottest flame is black.
* If you've ever raised your hand to indicate you're not saved because you were distracted during the invitation.
* If you believe NaCl (or any simple chemical formula) will leap into flames when in contact with water on the face of a man who played with it at a party.
* If you know for a fact that rock music kills house plants.
* If you have thrown a stick in either a fireplace or bonfire on a Friday night.
* If you've heard it preached that the letters in "Santa" can easily be rearranged to spell "Satan."
* If you have a Hollywood Video or Blockbuster card in your wallet but think "not supporting Hollywood" is a good reason not to go to the theater.
* If you've ever worn guys shorts (as a girl) so that they'd be long enough to "check."
* If you regularly tell co-workers that you went to a "small, private college," instead of an Independent Fundamental Baptist Bible College in a town they've never heard of.
* If you have your doubts about any preacher with facial hair.
* If you understand that the term "mixed bathing" has nothing to do with personal hygiene.
* If you have ever held hands with a girl (or guy) during the prayer at a youth rally because you knew it was the only time the pastor wouldn't be looking.
* If Sissy Seagull was your first crush. (for guys)
* If you know who Ace, Baba, Christy, and Pudge are.
* If you can't have a church picnic with the other independent fundamental churches in the area because their standards aren't the same as the church that you attend.
* If you ever changed the last part of the chorus of "Now I Belong to Jesus" to "not for the years of Tom Malone."
* If you felt "dirty" when the pastor didn't give an invitation after his Sunday night message.
* If the front of your Bible has your hand-written note of the exact date and time you were saved....from all 7 years you went to camp.
* If you checked your parents' bedroom to make sure they were still there for at least a week after your church hosted the multi-night series of A Thief In The Night movies... er, films.
* If you are offended by any of the content above.

Feel free to add your own.

Monday, August 18, 2008


My friend Tina had a post last week where she invited others to participate. Well, better late than never, so here goes.

I'm wondering . . . how long will it take me drive to the wedding this afternoon up in Oshkosh? if we can stop adding things to the "to do list" long enough for me to finish what is already on it? how it can be that soccer season is already upon us? if more of our butterflies will hatch today?

I'm reading . . . End of the Spear.

I'm feeling . . . tired, lost, frustrated, unsure

Kim is not doing well again. Nothing has changed in our lifestyle that would seem to cause any changes, yet all of her symptoms are back.

I'm wanting . . . my headache to go away. More coffee may be the answer.

I'm wishing . . . I could take my family far away for a vacation and when we came back everything was better.

I'm thinking . . . about my spiritual walk. Something is not quite right, but I can't fully put my finger on it.

I'm going . . . to a wedding at 1:30. Who gets married at 1:30 on a Friday afternoon?

I'm hoping . . . in the riches and depth of God's mercy (Eph 2:4)

Though there a lot of things going on in my life right now, my biggest problem is still me. I continue to be in debt to God and my debt grows larger every day. Yet He is rich in mercy because of His great love.

I'm thankful for . . . laughter.

Hannah's smile when she realizes I am teasing her, Caleb's unique viewpoints on everything, Alex's growing grasp on the fine art of sarcasm, and the same private jokes that Kim and I have laughed about for years . . . all of these make everyday better.

I'm clinging . . . to Lamentations 3:22-23.

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever and He will never change. Any situation I find myself in does not change who God is. He has been faithful in the past, He knows where I am today, and He holds my tomorrow. I can sleep at night in His bosom and know that when I wake in the morning He will still be in control.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Our Great Need

Recently I have had a partial quote of a sermon rolling around in my mind. I had heard the sermon a few years ago and remembered the preacher, but could not remember which sermon of his the quote had come from. Well, yesterday I found it and I thought I would share it here. The quote is by Pastor Alistair Begg.

"What was the great need of the sacrifice of Jesus? What was the problem? Not our predicament, but God's wrath. God's wrath. Because if God had been complacent in relationship to sin there would have been no need of a sacrifice. But because God was so holy that He could not even look on sin, and because all of His wrath had been revealed against all of the unrighteousness and the wickedness of men, the great need was for the wrath of God to be propitiated. So that in the dying of the Son the Father's wrath is propitiated. Christ takes the burden of our sin and our rebellion and our guilt on Him. And we as a byproduct discover the wonderful provision of forgiveness, and freedom, and hope. Because in the death of Christ, He has done all in relationship to sin, He has done all in relationship to God, and He has done all in relationship to Satan." (emphasis mine)

For me, this quote brings a shift in my mind from a God who is loving, and He is, to a Holy God who demands justice. My focus seems at times to be to much upon God as the forgiving God, and that He is, but at what cost? At the cost of His full wrath and anger for my sins being poured out upon His son. May I keep my eyes on the Cross and see in a new and fresh way the glories of Calvary.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Last Friday, Kim and I celebrated our sixteenth anniversary. For the special occasion we took the kids out for pizza. In the days leading up to August 1, I began to reflect on what has changed about our relationship in those years and how our vows have become a living breathing part of our marriage. Following are a few random thoughts in no specific order.

-On a daily basis we find ourselves thinking the same thing at the same time, or saying the same thing together. It is unbelievably weird, but I love it.

-There is great comfort in having one person who will laugh with you when no one else would.

-We meant what we said about the "richer or poorer" part of the vows, but are very content living in the poorer part and doubt seriously that we will see the richer. Which is fine with us.

-Feeling completely at home can be achieved just by being in the presence of one person no matter where you are.

-Loving someone unconditionally on your own is hard work. It can be done, but it is almost impossibly hard.

-Loving someone unconditionally through Christ and His grace is much easier and more fulfilling.

-The "in sickness and in health" part of the vows seemed very insignificant sixteen years ago, but I wouldn't trade a moment of the years we have together. The hard times have always been hard, but they have also been the times when our love and marriage have grown the most. As Browning wrote, "I walked a mile with Pleasure, She chattered all the way; But left me none the wiser, For all she had to say. I walked a mile with Sorrow And ne'er a word said she; But, oh, the things I learned from her When Sorrow walked with me."

-I could never have imagined having what we have.

-When I said "I do", I did, but I never knew how much more I would.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

An Opaque Transparency

Since the beginning of this blog I have attempted to be very transparent about what God is doing in my life and what He is teaching me. There are a few reasons for that. The first is that is who I am. I don't think I am very different from the blog to real life. The second reason is that when I write about varying spiritual issues in my life, it is to benefit me. I have found that when I write things out I gain a better grasp on what I am dealing with.

As I thought about this apparent transparency that I have online, I realized that it is only a veiled clarity. What I mean is that I am not completely transparent. And I don't think anyone could be. I am still uncomfortable with having my last name associated with the blog and in all truthfulness, no one wants to know every thought that crosses through my brain in a given day. Some of my thoughts would be quite amusing if you could see them just due to the unbelievable stupidity of my brain process at times. While many other thoughts would only offer views of my own wickedness and that is an expose that no one wants or needs to see.

Quite often my spiritual life works like my blog. (At this time some of you are commenting about it being poorly done, infrequently updated, and mostly devoid of true substance. That's ok.) I have found that in moments of repentance and in the process of asking God to reveal sin that lies within my heart that I only want to be partially honest. That I only want to be transparent in part. "God, help me deal with this sin here and here, but I would prefer that you don't look into the sins in the corner." I try to hide and justify some while at the same time asking God to make me like He is, and that doesn't work. Honestly, who do I think I am fooling? I'm hiding sin from God? After all He has searched me and known me. He knows my thoughts from afar. Before I utter a word, you God know it. Where can I go that you are not there? Any attempt to hide sin from God is completely futile.

Yet I think there is another aspect to this issue of sin in my life. I recently came across an illustration that opened my eyes. Picture yourself getting on a plane. You have had your boarding pass checked at the gate and are now on the plane. Settling into your seat 1G you began to run through your mind the varying minuscule snacks that will be offered shortly. "Should I take the package of ten peanuts or the pack of 5 pretzels?" As you prepare for takeoff and taxi out on the runway the voice of the pilot comes over the speaker system. "Thank you for flying with us today en route from Chicago to Houston. It is my pleasure to be piloting this aircraft to your destination today. I just wanted to let you know that in the years that I have been flying it has been my resolution to crash very little."
Excuse me!?! "Very little?" How about not crashing at all. I think that one crash would be enough. But is this not how I live my life on an almost daily basis? If I am being completely transparent, wouldn't my prayers sound more like, "Dear God, in my walk with You today I resolve to sin very little." Is that not how most Christians approach their daily walk with Christ? "God, it is inevitable that I will sin today, therefore I hope to keep my sinning to just a small amount today. Oh, and I would prefer to sin in the following ways. I know that this will be alright with You, because you are the forgiving God. Amen."

I think that my sin may be less of trying to actively hide it, though there is some of that going on, and more a matter of accepting sin in my life. I know that I will sin for I cannot escape my flesh, but my attitude toward my sin needs to change. Instead of viewing sin as unavoidable in my life, I need to be viewing it as the very root of all evil that it is and be active in destroying it. I need to stop being resolved to sin and become resolved to actively kill sin in my life. The late great Scottish preacher Robert Murray M'Cheyne once said that within his heart lay the seeds of every known sin. As in his, so in mine. May my life be ever the more clear of sin that I may know more of Him.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Well, I have good news to share. Yesterday we went with my parents to the first visit with the oncologist. It seems as if though someone made a mistake in reading the previous scans of my dad's chest. The mass is not getting larger, it is actually getting smaller. I'm not sure how you make that mistake, but the result of that news is that the oncologist felt quite confident in telling us that he did not believe that my dad has cancer. The doctor told us that the common markers for cancer were not there and that the PET scan that my father had earlier this week showed no signs of cancer anywhere. My dad will have a follow up scan in three months to see if the mass is still there.

That's all for now. Thanks to all for your prayers and have a delightful Fourth of July weekend.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Weight of Affliction

Here is a very brief update on our life and a verse to share that is a great comfort to me.

In April my father had a hemorrhagic stroke while in Austin, Texas. He was completely paralyzed on the right side, but is making a remarkable recovery. He is walking with a walker and will even use a cane from time to time to get around. The first weekend of May, we flew him up to Wisconsin for the summer.

On May 15, due in part to his lack of mobility, he threw a massive clot from his leg to his lungs. He was flighted by helicopter (his second med-flight in 7 weeks) from Watertown to Madison. The clot had traveled from his legs through his heart and stopped in his lungs. The doctors placed a metal filter in one of his arteries to prevent future clots and he was released from the hospital three days after going in. Normally, a person can be given medication to help break up clots, but due to the type of stroke my father had, he cannot take that medication.

In the first week of June, my father had a routine follow up scan where they discovered a mass in his lungs. The doctors compared the scan from June to one taken 3 weeks prior and realized that the mass had grown in size and had changed shapes. The doctors believe that it is cancer. My father will have a full body scan done on July 1, to determine definitely what we are dealing with.

Last week, we evacuated my parents and their RV home from the campground where they were spending the summer. Due to the rain and flooding we have received in the Midwest, the campground flooded. They are currently living in their RV in our driveway.

Through all of this, Kim has been doing well. Most of her symptoms had stopped occurring and her pain was much less. We made sure to take care of her and she made marked improvements from where she had been. However, her symptoms have flared this last week. Yesterday was the first time in a long time that she complained of leg weakness. Whatever she has seems to be back to an extent. By the end of yesterday, she had numbness in her legs and her right arm was numb. Many of her other symptoms have come back in the last few days as well.

I post all of this so that I may ask for your prayers. I also wanted to share one of my favorite passages in the whole Bible. It helps to put into perspective these slight inconveniences of the last few months. May grace upon grace fall down.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Weekend Quiz

I had seen this before, but was recently reminded of it again. Thought I would post the quizzes here for more participation. The quiz is in three parts and is titled, "How Well Do You Know the Words of Jesus?" Feel free to post your results in the comments after you take the quizzes. Be forewarned, these are tough. Click below to get started.

Beginner's Quiz

Intermediate Quiz

Advanced Quiz


Friday, May 23, 2008

Music Rant

Something has been bothering me for a while. Specifically, what has been bothering me has to do with a song being played on "Christian" radio. Now I don't listen to music radio very much, but occasionally I will have it on while driving, etc. I do have my alarm clock set to wake up to our local Christian station, but other than the few seconds of the song being played before I hit the snooze button, I don't really listen. However, I have heard enough of it recently to pick out a new song that really irritates me. It is the new song by Point of Grace, "How You Live (Turn Up th Music). It bothers me because I can see absolutely no reason why it should get airplay on Christian radio. Now I know that there are other songs that have not had an implicit gospel message to them, such as "Butterfly Kisses" and even Steven Curtis Chapman's current hit, "Cinderella". But "How You Live" is not only lacking a Christian message, it is actually heretical in its lyrics compared to Biblical teaching.

For example, look at these lyrics.

"So give to the needy
And pray for the grieving
E'en when you don't think that you can
'Cause all that you do is bound to come back to you"

Sounds a lot like Hinduism's teaching on karma if you ask me. Yet that is not the part of the song that bothers me the most. It is actually the last few lines of the chorus that get under my skin. "'Cause it's not who you knew, And it's not what you did, It's how you live." Excuse me?!?! How does this get played on any station that claims to be Christian? "It's not who you knew, it's how you live?" The lyrics should be just the opposite. Actually it not about how I live, but it is all about who I know in the person of Jesus Christ. I know the song is along the lines of "carpe diem" yet can't we seize the day and still adhere to accepted Christian orthodoxy?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Welcome to the Shop

I thought I would post a few pictures of the project that left my shop yesterday. It is one of the most unique pieces that I have ever been involved with. The project is on its way to be stained and finished. After that is done I will install the furniture into the customers home. After the installation is complete, I will post some finished pictures of the completed project.

So, here is what it is. It is a queen size bed that retracts into a cabinet. The bed slides in and up the back of the cabinet so that the whole unit fits into a 24" deep space. It operates via remote control. Very James Bondish. As always, clicking on the pictures will enlarge them.

This first picture shows the majority of the unit. There is a lot more that goes with the whole piece that what is shown in the picture. The entire project is 12' wide by 10' high. So, what you see here actually will get another 30" of cabinetry on top of it. On the left hand side, there is a desk that will get a granite counter-top on it. On the right hand side there is a drawer base that will also get granite on it. The main unit in the center will have a piece of art mounted in the big section in the center. Most customers who are purchasing these are mounting flat screen tv's in that space. Due to this project being in the "not finished yet stages", there are not drawer faces on the drawers yet. That is why there are big gaps around the drawers on the left and right. When finished, the unit will be virtually flat all the way across.

Here we can see the bed mechanism coming out. What is actually the foot-board of the bed will look like two drawer faces. They will line up with the drawer faces on the right hand side when it is completed.

Here the bed is completely extended. The slats that are on the top are the box spring and the mechanism that holds the mattress in place when the unit is closed. All in all, it is very clever engineering. Getting through some of the details was a challenge, but it has been a rewarding project. Finished project pictures will come in a few months.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Polishing God's Monuments - A Book Review

Last week I started and finished reading the book "Polishing God's Monuments" by Jim Andrews. Jim Andrews is a pastor, author, and in this book, the father of one of the main characters, his daughter, Juli. It is the true story of Juli and her husband Paul whose marriage of nineteen years has been surrounded by the most unbelievable illness and suffering.

The style of the book is unlike any other I have ever read. The author moves through the book by writing a chapter on how Juli's health is during a specific time period and then he follows with a chapter that deals with the theology of pain and suffering from a Biblical perspective. This alternating format seemed weird at first, but I quickly realized, at least for me, that the personal chapters would have been far too emotionally taxing to read all at once, and the theology needed the break in order for me to absorb the teaching.

The personal side of the book deals with the illness of primarily Juli, but also with Paul's correlating illnesses as well. As very new newlyweds, they were both diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Shortly after that diagnosis, Juli would began to suffer from another illness that some CFS patients are susceptible to, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS). These two illnesses combined would send Juli, Paul, and their families on a maddening, painful, God-questioning, journey for the next nineteen years of their lives. Juli's MCS quickly became very severe. She soon developed sensitivities to cosmetics, soap, and all household cleaners. One scent of any of those items anywhere within her house or even a scent on someone who entered the house would cause her body to shut down in a pain she describes as acid being poured through every vein and muscle in my body. Her illness advanced to a point where the MCS so severely attacked her body that she was allergic to paper, fabric, and many various chemicals that made up their everyday life. For example, she developed an intolerance to chlorine. In the summer months, when the city they lived in would increase the levels of chlorine used in the treatment of the city water, her MCS would become so severe that she could not tolerate a drop of water anywhere within the house; no drinking, no bathing, no toilet. As if that were not bad enough, she even developed a sensitivity to electricity. She soon became a prisoner in her own house. Living in darkness, she would spend her days without books or music to help pass the time. Her illness cut her off from all personal contact with her family and friends except for her contact with Paul. However,as heart wrenching as the personal side of the book is, it is the other chapters that give the book its substance.

One of the questions that first confronts the reader is why? Why did this happen to Juli and Paul? They were a young, talented couple with their whole lives in front of them. Their desire was to serve God on the foreign mission field and they were taking steps to fulfill that purpose when the illness struck. Why would God allow such pain and suffering into the lives of those who are willing to devote their lives in service to Him? The author begins to relieve that tension by describing what he calls, "monumental faith." This is not faith of an enormous size, but rather it is faith in the God of monuments. He describes various times in his life where the sovereign hand of God was extremely evident. It is those times in the past where God could clearly be seen that he describes as "God's monuments." He explains that in the periods of our life when God appears to be silent or far from us, that in those moments we go back and remember those "monuments" of God. When God appears to be distant is when we must rely on what we know of His character. He is faithful and true, the same yesterday, today, and forever. He works all for our good, even the periods of lives that are filled with pain and questioning. It is in those times that we need to fall back, remember God's faithfulness in the past, "polish God's monuments" in our lives, and continue to trust that He knows what is best for us.

This book struck a chord with me personally. I think in part due to some of what our family has gone through in the last year. However, it also revealed a heart issue for me. I think it can best be summarized in the following quote from the book. The quote is from a young lady who was a friend of the Andrew family. She was battling through her second brush with brain cancer and in the midst of that circumstance, in incredible pain, just months before her death, she said these words. "When I became a Christian, I surrendered all my rights to Jesus to do with as he chooses. If it's his good pleasure to slice me into pieces and barbecue me on a skewer, that is none of my business. The Lord is good; his ways are perfect and I have no complaints." Could I say that? What is my response to rather minor inconveniences? How I respond to the small trials in my life is rather telling about the faith I profess to have in a sovereign God.

This was a different book. A book on the Biblical theology of suffering is not going to sell as many copies as all of the other "Christian" drivel that tells us how we can achieve what is best for life here and now. However, the weight of truth in this book will stand far longer than most of what is being mass marketed as "Christian" to the evangelical community today. I enjoyed this book so much, that I wanted to begin reading it again as soon as I finished it. I have in fact gone back to read portions of it. I highly recommend it and think that it would be a welcome edition to any personal library. You can purchase it here.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again

Our house is an old house. It has its charms and its problems. It has a cement cistern rendering a quarter of the basement useless, but it also has a full size laundry chute that you can access from the first or the second floor. We believe the house was built in the 1930's judging by the date of the newspapers that were used to help caulk around the original tub. The house has all original woodwork and it includes some small built in amenities that were common in that time period. One of those built ins is an all wooden ironing board that folds down out of the wall in our kitchen.

In an effort to help Kim get out of the house for work, I have long ironed her uniforms for work. We have a routine that is fairly worked out. I iron her uniform, make her a sandwich, and send her out the door. Due to the fact that it takes less time for me to get ready to go somewhere like church, I usually do the ironing of the clothes for those occasions also. All this to say that I probably iron articles of clothing about four times a week.

For the first ten years of living in our house, we kept the iron in a small pantry in the kitchen near the fold-down ironing board. After it had cooled down and when it wasn't in use, it had a home on one of the shelves in the pantry. Convenient and close to its accessory, it was a good system. About 5 years ago our iron broke and we got a new one. We ran into a slight problem with the new one. It had a slightly higher base which meant it was too tall to fit on the shelves in the pantry. The iron needed a new home. So for the last five years our iron has sat on top of the refrigerator.

In doing the math on this I come up with about 4 times of ironing a week, times 52 weeks, times 5 years, equals 1,040 opportunities to pull down the ironing board and reach for the iron. Out of the approximately 1,000 opportunities in the last 5 years, do you know how many times I walk into the pantry to grab the iron? Almost every single time. The iron hasn't lived in the pantry for 5 years! It wasn't in the pantry last week and it wasn't there when I reached for it yesterday. Yet this simple fact does not stop me from looking somewhat like an idiot as I reach almost daily for what isn't there. But it is not the last 5 years that conditioned me to act in this way, it was the 10 years prior to this that built in me a habit and a pattern that I may never break.

This past week I had one of those "aha" moments. I found myself willfully sinning again. The same sins I had committed many times before. The same situation and the same circumstances brought my same response. See, like reaching for the iron that isn't there, I find myself habitually sinning in the same way. My wicked heart has set a pattern of rebellion that has conditioned itself to respond to the same circumstances by committing the same sins. In all the years of my struggle with my sin I often look to stop the sinning, yet I need to break the habits of my life that lead to that sin in order to find release and freedom through His grace. In my repentance before God this last week, it was almost as if He said, "Why do you keep reaching for that iron of sin? Stop walking in the same direction every time due to habits that only lead to sin." My senseless reaching for what isn't in the pantry is just like my reaching for what I think I want in the moment, but what I know is just as empty as the spot on the shelf where the iron used to live.

"Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gentlemen, Start Your . . .

I thought I would share a few pictures from a couple of weeks ago. Every year our kids participate in AWANA and part of that participation involves making pine derby cars to race in the annual Grand Prix race. They can't race until they are in third grade, so this was Hannah's first year. Caleb and Alex have both raced before. There are awards handed out for three different categories, speed, design (what looks most like a real car), and for creativity (doing the best you can with a block of wood). Well, I am not one for the speed category, but design and creativity suit me fairly well. Click the picture to enlarge them if you want a closer look.

This first picture is of Alex's and Caleb's cars from last year. Caleb's car is a 1960 Mercury sedan. I know nothing about cars, but if you give me a picture I can carve it. Alex's car is the solar system. In the center is an orange super ball that we cut in half. Underneath the car we mounted a led light. When you turned on the light, the sun would shine. Caleb got first place in design and Alex got first place in creativity.

This is Hannah's first car. All she knew was that she wanted the car that Nancy Drew drove in the new Nancy Drew movie. Some quick Google work turned up that is was a 1960 Nash Metropolitan convertible. She took home a third place prize in design.

This is Caleb's car from this year. He came up with the idea of a car that was thin enough to race either upside down or right side up. As he and I discussed the idea, we talked about having a theme to the car that had two different views or different looks. He decided on the cross of Christ and His resurrection. This side is the cross and it says, "He who knew no sin became sin for us . . ."

This is the other side of Caleb's car. It says, "He's risen" on the bottom and on the top it says, ". . . that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."

Monday, April 14, 2008

My First Meme

I first saw this on Tina's blog and thought, "I should do that." However, life got hectic and I didn't get to it. Today I have a few extra minutes so I thought I would play along. If you are so inclined, Kerry did one also.

I've never done a meme before, but I've seen them. Normally there is a tagging process which to me is a lot like the awful stamp club things my kids would get sucked into when they were younger, but I digress. I didn't get tagged and I won't be tagging anyone at the end. Mostly because I don't know five other bloggers who haven't already done it and I don't think that tagging bloggers I don't know would necessarily be nice. I will answer the questions to the best of my ability though quite honestly my memory is somewhat fuzzy on portions of my personal life. So here goes. . .

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, each player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Five things on my to do list today:
1. Pull school for the kids for the week.
2. Make breakfast for a friend from Florida who is dropping in with some of his friends.
3. Order a sheet of Formica for friends, order drawers for the current project in the shop, possibly order various hardware for same said project.
4. Get back to building the project. The main portion is built though it needs to be stood up and have the main mechanicals installed. Then I can start on the rest of the cabinetry around the main unit. It is very clearly the most unique piece I have ever built, a bed that retracts via remote control into wall cabinetry. Think James Bond.
5. Make supper, clean the kitchen, quote out two other potential customers on their projects, put together worship packages for the upcoming Bible conference at our church. That's more than five, sorry.

Snacks I enjoy (and allow myself to have):
Hmmmm. This one is a little tougher. I don't know that I really have one thing that I really crave or eat on a regular basis. Wait! It just came to me. Coffee. It is like my comfort food. I can drink it all the time. In fact, I probably drink way too much. Other than that the only other thing that is a real downfall for me when it is around is chocolate. Especially dark chocolate. A piece of dark chocolate in the mouth followed by a drink of hot coffee is divine. You let the heat of the coffee melt the chocolate and it is the perfect mixing of flavors.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
I have no real answer on this one. Having more money is a thought that rarely crosses my mind. Not because we already have a lot, because we don't. But we try and keep an eternal perspective and personal wealth doesn't come into the equation for us. I would like to think that if I became independently wealthy that my life would stay fairly the same. I am a simple person and I don't need a lot of stuff to make me happy. However, if I became a billionaire, I would give it in various ways to further the kingdom of Christ. On a personal level, there are a few places around the world that I would really love to travel to, but they are so out of reach I have never given serious thought to them.

Three of my bad habits:
1. Being too dogmatic on my own opinions.
2. Procrastination. Enough said.
3. Whenever I dish ice cream, when all has been dished, just prior to putting it away, I have to eat one small bite of ice cream from the container off of the ice cream scoop. This is probably more of an idiosyncrasy than a habit, but it is a little bizarre. I've tried to not do it, but it just feels weird if I don't. It is always the last thing I do and no, I have never worked anywhere that served ice cream.

Five places I have lived:
This one is easy, because I have only lived in three places.
In order.
1. Waupun, WI
2. Watertown, WI
3. Clyman, WI

Five jobs I've had in no particular order:
1. Newspaper boy for 4 years. I did every route in the town at one time or another.
2. Pizza delivery. You quickly learned to get on the good side of the guy who makes the pizza's to get the pick of who you will be delivering to. We had some regular customers who were very good tippers and we had one regular customer who always answered the door in only his underwear. Underwear guy always got the new guy to deliver his pizza.
3. I drove forklift and cleaned in a machine shop for a summer. From the first day to the last, all of the guys on the floor called me, Elmer. They said I looked like an Elmer and they never asked or cared what my real name was.
4. Inventory manager for a tool equipment retail store.
5. Worked in a production furniture shop and became one of their floor leaders. That allowed me the opportunity to learn all of the different jobs in the shop. I also trained the new employees and was allowed to work on the very custom jobs that the shop would get from time to time. All great experience that helped when I opened my own business.

What was I doing ten years ago?
I changed the order of the questions because this one is the hardest for me to answer. Ten years ago was 1998. I would change jobs that year, but overall it was a year of personal crisis. I was in the last year of a two year period of running from God. I had fallen into a pattern of sin that I really enjoyed, but I never counted the cost. The more I ran from God the further I ran to sin and in doing so I was destroying my marriage, my family, and myself. After a while, I felt so incredibly guilty that I sank into a deep suicidal depression. I alone knew the reason why. I continued to run from God and even had some very serious agnostic thoughts. I couldn't understand how if there was a God, why He would let me wake up every day in such personal misery. My wicked heart told me that the only answer to free me from my pattern of guilt and pain was to no longer live. Yet through all of that, God was pursuing me. I did not run to Him and I did not come willingly. He drew me kicking, screaming, and fighting for what I thought was my "freedom". In spite of me, He offered grace and when He grabbed me I could no longer say no. "Once His enemy, now seated at His table." He not only gave me back my life, He gave me life in Him. He restored a marriage and a family and continues to give grace. I cannot think of that period of my life without thinking of Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—
I cannot think but that I should have run any storehouse of mercy completely empty. But God, who is rich in mercy called and drew me. Sovereign Grace Music in their song "Always Forgiven" puts it so well.
All You have shown me is grace, love, and mercy,
Now and forever I am Your child.
Freely You pour out Your loving kindness,
Father of grace You welcome me in.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Life Update

A couple of quick notes to update my three faithful readers.

This past Saturday my father had a stroke. He and mom were in Texas selling at an antique show. It was a fairly serious stroke, but he is making some rapid progress already. I have spent a better part of my week on the phone trying to arrange post-hospital rehab care for him up here in Wisconsin. Once he is physically able to fly via commercial airline, I will fly down and bring him back. I am anticipating that he will be discharged from the hospital in Texas early next week.

Other than that life continues on. Alex has started baseball practice. He is doing a select baseball team this summer. What a change one year can bring. No longer can we go to the local store and get him youth baseball gear. He has moved into adult sizes. He is 5' 8" tall and is wearing a size 12 shoe. Still skinny as a rail though.

Caleb is in a holding pattern for sports. His baseball season doesn't start for another month yet. However, he is going to Atlanta next week with his cousins to watch them participate in the national high school robotics competition. Two of my nephews are on the team and this is right up Caleb's alley. He is already packed and wants me to download a bunch of new songs on his mp3 player for the trip.

Hannah has started spring soccer. I am coaching her in that again. She really enjoys it and it is a good opportunity for her to exercise and socialize. She is hoping to finally score a goal this year. She keeps getting better so hopefully.

Kim's health is definitely getting better. There are still a lot of ups and downs, but overall her pain is less and her endurance is stronger.

Lastly, I have joined Facebook. Honestly, I did it because Sovereign Grace Music is offering a free download of their newest unreleased album "Come Weary Saints" from their Facebook page. I'm not sure what other benefits Facebook hold for me, but we will see.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Routine of Christianity

I have started this post about five different times over the last week and have tried to attack it from different angles, but none of them are working. So I'm going to put down the thoughts that have been running through my brain and hopefully in the end, they will all make sense. Mostly, they are questions or question like statements of self-analysis of my personal life.

For the past few months, I have been giving some thought to how my personal life is viewed by others. Specifically, the question would be, "When others see me, do they see Christ?" I think it is easy to answer the question with a yes and move on with the rest of my life because too often in self-analysis I only focus on the good and I repress the bad. However, as I stepped out of myself and tried to view my life from every angle, there is much more to be seen than just the good interactions between myself and family or between myself and friends at church.

One of the things that I have been thinking about specifically is, "Is my life a testimony of the saving grace of Jesus Christ?" If not, what does that look like? Part of my problem is that I am self-employed. It is not uncommon for me to go for weeks at a time without seeing anyone other than my wife and children and our friends at church. I have almost no personal interaction with anyone else. It is not like I am a hermit, but yet in many ways we are isolated because of homeschooling and self-employment. So that means that when we do interact with others who are unbelievers, we must make the most of the situation. Which leads to another question, "How do we do that?"

I know that we are to be salt and light as is commanded in Matthew 5:13-16 and that is certainly my goal. Yet what does that look like in my life? We are called as believers to come out from the world and yet we are commanded to go back into it to tell the good news. Seems like a paradox to me. Still, we must go. So of course in my mind that leads to yet another question, "How can my life be salt and light to the world around me and what does that look like in practical everyday living?" As I have studied and thought about this subject, I have come up with two things that I think are important as these questions apply to my life. They are, as the rest of the post, in the form of a question.

First, is my minute by minute daily living showing forth good works that are motivated by devotion to Jesus Christ so that others may in turn see them and be led by the Spirit to glorify the Father? Matthew 5:16 "...let your light shine before other, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Notice that it doesn't say that they may "hear" your erudite words. The world around me does not need to hear from me my personal knowledge about the Bible, nor do they need to receive any judgments from me on how they live their lives. No, they need to see the radical change the grace of God has wrought in my life and then the Spirit will lead them to ask questions like, "What motivates them to do that? or Why would they continue to reach out to them after all that has happened?" I believe that the radical change of grace in my life is seen by others when I am moved with compassion to do something out of love that I would not have done through any power of my own.

Secondly, when others see me, is my hope in Jesus Christ clearly visible? I Peter 3:15 "...always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you." Is the reason that no one has asked me recently about my personal relationship with Jesus Christ due to the fact that they see me trusting in the same things that they trust in? Their jobs, their families, their relationships hold their worlds together. Do they see me motivated by the same hope they have? If they do, than my hope is obviously in the wrong place. I think it certainly implied in this verse that one of the reasons that my life may not be an effective witness for Christ is simply due to the fact that, to often, my hope is in the wrong things rather than in the right Person.

I have not completely worked all of these questions out in my head, yet I know there are two things I need to prayerfully continue to examine. First, that the motivation of my actions need to be Godly and not self-centered. Secondly, I need to constantly examine myself to make certain that I am hoping only in the Giver and not the gifts.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Dumb Lamb

As the Passion approaches, I have began to re-read The Cross He Bore by Frederick S Leahy. (Check out this post for more information.) I am reading a chapter a day and will finish the book on the morning of Good Friday.

Today's chapter is titled "The Dumb Lamb" and it deals specifically with the silence of Christ as He stood before His accusers, the Sanhedrin and the High Priest. When He was falsely accused, He stood silent. Leahy explains the reason for Christ's silence this way, "God does not unfold his mysteries to the wicked. The members of the Sanhedrin were not seekers after truth: they were murderers at heart."

In the last part of the chapter on the majesty of Christ's silence, Leahy concludes with these thoughts: "All too often Christ's silence has been given a dangerous one-sidedness, as his passive obedience is stressed almost, if not altogether, to the exclusion of his active obedience. Christ's silence was deliberate, emphatic and authoritative: it was his deed. . . . Because of his sublime and sovereign silence, he has earned the right to speak eternally. His silence was an act of mighty obedience to his Father's will and a compliance with that wondrous mission entrusted to him in the counsels of eternity. . . . In that ecclesiastical court Satan was tempting Christ with his own riddle, twisted though it was. By a single word he might have freed himself from his enemies. But our silent Priest continued majestically to his death. O blessed silence that lay at the heart of our redemption! . . . This Holy Temple, the subject of the riddle, could now be broken down, to be raised in glory. Just as the first temple was erected without sound of hammer, or any iron tool (I Kings 6:7), so this Temple of Christ's body will be restored in a silence that nothing can profane."

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Heart Work of Forgiveness

These two phrases of three words each may be the most difficult words to say in all of the English language, especially to say them and mean them from your heart, "I am sorry," and "I forgive you." It is easy to flippantly respond to someone and say words because we believe that others want to hear those words when inside we know we are not sorry and we do not forgive. It is easy because our pride holds us so strongly that we believe we are still the ones who are right. And sometimes we very well may be. But being right does not give us an excuse not to forgive. Being right does not issue with itself a free pass at being self righteous, for too often, our self righteousness leads to anger and bitterness against the other party. No, Paul tells us in Romans 12:21 to overcome evil with good. The following saying applies well, "To return evil for good is devilish; to return good for good is human; but to return good for evil is divine." And isn't that what we as the redeemed should be looking to be like, Divine?

The past few days have been a work of grace as God has shown me a proper attitude of forgiveness in the midst of a trial. He has so graciously led me to wise counsel in a difficult situation and has reinforced with His Word the need to forgive even when I am wronged. I do not know how this period of time in my life will play out, nor do I know what I will ultimately take from it. But I do know that He, for right now, has shown me what forgiveness needs to look like in my heart. I am so thankful for His grace in gently pulling me to Himself in this trial. Most of all, I am thankful that He has shown me how greatly I have been forgiven, and is that not the ultimate goal of forgiveness? That we, by His grace, may overcome evil with good so that others may see the great redeeming, forgiveness of a Heavenly Father in our lives. There is no power of our own that can forgive others who do not deserve it save the power of the cross in our own lives.

The following is a poem by Rosamond E Herklots.

"Forgive our sins as we forgive,"
You taught us, Lord, to pray;
But You alone can grant us grace
To live the words we say.

How can Your pardon reach and bless
The unforgiving heart
That broods on wrongs and will not let
Old bitterness depart?

In blazing light your cross reveals
The truth we dimly knew:
How trifling others' debts to us;
How great our debt to You!

Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls
And bid resentment cease;
Then, by your mercy reconciled,
Our lives will spread your peace.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Catching Up

Well, this has blog been dormant long enough. Things have been very busy in our life as we . . . well, live life. There has been a basketball tournament, snow removal, lots of school, teaching preparation, snow removal, doctor's visits, snow removal, and the extra busyness that goes in when I am finishing a project up for a deadline.

It is time to be honest. When I am doing work for someone and get to the end of their project, I am quite frankly tired of the project. Usually when I have about two to three weeks left until I am done, I really get the urge to move on to something different.

The actual ending has the following components. During the installation the customer is excited because they are seeing it all go together for the first time. For me, the installation is anti-climatic. I have lived with the project in varying degrees for at least the last six months and the happy feeling that have is that I don't have to think about it any longer and I can move on to new challenges. Recently, after building and installing a very complicated piece, the customer looked at me and said, "It is absolutely beautiful! Did you have any idea it would look like this?" My response was, "Yes. It turned out exactly how I pictured it in my head over a year ago." So for them, they were seeing it for the first time and were excited. For me, I was seeing what I had been seeing all along.

With all of that stated, there is a funny story about the recent completion of a project. Last week, I finished up the last final details of various projects for a customer that I have been working with for the last year. Actually, the first project I did for them started over 3 years ago. Anyway, last week I was done and when I finish a job I file all of my drawings, work documents, and everything related to the project together into my "Finished Work" file. As I was putting this project into the file, I commented to Caleb that there is a happy feeling of finality when I actually file away the project. He looks at me and ask, "Dad, how much did you charge them to build all of that?" "It was pretty expensive," I replied. "Was it $2,000.00?" he asked. I said, "No, it was more than that." "Was it $100,000!?" he asked. I just laughed at him. The fact that an eleven year old mind can have a $98,000.00 jump in the price amused me.

The first week of the Sunday school class went very well. We made it through the introduction and the first point on the outline this last Sunday. We were actually suppose to start two weeks ago, but that Sunday morning we canceled church due to an ice storm that came through. I may or may not be teaching again this week due to a special speaker coming or not coming, but I would guess that I have at least a couple of weeks left yet in this short series.

It has been awhile since a mentioned how Kim is doing, so I will give a brief update on her. She still is suffering from the same symptoms she has been, so actually, not much has changed. The doctors have been trying some different medications with her to help ease that pain, but none of them have been completely effective. Her symptoms still vary in intensity from week to week or day to day seemingly without reason. She has started to see a chiropractor to see if she can get any relief there. At this point we are unsure what else to do.

Well, that is all for now. I will try and maintain a regular blogging schedule, but I have some major deadlines approaching so I can't make any promises.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


As I was preparing to teach the next couple of weeks I came across this history I thought I would share.

As the teenager of a heathen father and a Christian mother living in North Africa during the late 300's AD, young Augustine would fill his life with the passions of whatever he set his heart upon. Rejecting the pleading of his mother to become a believer and follower of Christ, he pursued education and specifically, pursued fulfilling the desires of his flesh through all manners of sexual lust. Before he was twenty, he had taken a concubine that he would keep for the next 15 years. He had this to say about those years, "I went to Carthage, where I found myself in the midst of a hissing cauldron of lust. . . . My real need was for you, my God, who are the food of the soul. I was not aware of this hunger." "I was willing to steal, and steal I did, although I was not compelled by any lack." "I was at the top of the school of rhetoric. I was pleased with my superior status and swollen with conceit. . . . It was my ambition to be a good speaker, for the unhallowed and inane purpose of gratifying human vanity."

As he lived his life, devoted to pleasures of selfishness, he drew ever nearer to God through various theological and often heretical studies. In his early thirties he came under the teaching of the great preacher Ambrose where he began to realize his need for something more. However, he could not reconcile his need for God with the sinful desires of his flesh. That is until August of 386. At 32 years of age, while in a garden with his friend, Alypius, the following exchange between Augustine and a Holy God took place, an exchange that fought for fleshly desires with irresistible grace.

"There was a small garden attached to the house where we lodged. . . . I now found myself driven by the tumult in my breast to take refuge in this garden, where no one could interrupt that fierce struggle in which I was my own contestant. . . . I was beside myself with madness that would bring me sanity. I was dying a death that would bring me life. . . . I was frantic, overcome by violent anger with myself for not accepting your will and entering into your covenant. . . . I tore my hair and hammered my forehead with my fists; I locked my fingers and hugged my knees.

I was held back by mere trifles. . . They plucked at my garment of flesh and whispered, "Are you going to dismiss us? From this moment we shall never be with you again, for ever and ever.". . . And while I stood trembling at the barrier, on the other side I could see the chaste beauty of Continence in all her serene, unsullied joy, as she modestly beckoned me to cross over and to hesitate no more. She stretched out loving hands to welcome and embrace me.

I flung myself down beneath a fig tree and gave way to the tears which now streamed from my eyes . . . In my misery I kept crying, "How long shall I go on saying 'tomorrow, tomorrow'? Why not now? Why not make an end of my ugly sins at this moment?" . . . All at once I heard the singsong voice of a child in a nearby house. Whether it was the voice of a boy or a girl I cannot say, but again and again it repeated the refrain 'Take it and read, take it and read.' At this I looked up, thinking hard whether there was any kind of game in which children used to chant words like these, but I could not remember ever hearing them before. I stemmed my flood of tears and stood up, telling myself that this could only be a divine command to open my book of Scripture and read the first passage on which my eyes should fall.
So I hurried back to the place where Alypius was sitting . . . seized [the book of Paul's epistles] and opened it, and in silence I read the first passage on which my eyes fell: "Not in reveling in drunkenness, not in lust and wantonness, not in quarrels and rivalries. Rather, arm yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ; spend no more thought on nature and nature's appetites" (Romans 13:13-14). I had no wish to read more and no need to do so. For in an instant, as I came to the end of the sentence, it was as though the light of confidence flooded into my heart and all the darkness of doubt was dispelled."

Later, in his book, Confessions, Augustine would write this about his conversion experience.

"During all those years, where was my free will? What was the hidden, secret place from which it was summoned in a moment, so that I might bend my neck to your easy yoke . . .? How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose . . ! You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honor, though not in the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves. . . . O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation." (Bold emphasis mine)

As I consider the testimony of Augustine, I am compelled and convicted to give to God all of my "fruitless joys" and find in Him my "sovereign joy", complete happiness and contentment in Him alone. Consider also with me this statement by C.S. Lewis, "We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." May His grace enable us to taste and see and treasure Him above all and to find in Him . . . Him, infinite joy.

All italics are quotes of Augustine taken from the book The Legacy of Sovereign Joy by John Piper