Burden Bearers

Recently our sixth grandchild was born to our son, Dan, and his wife, Liz. He is a beautiful little boy named Silas. Lisa and I were getting ready for work that morning when we received a text from Dan letting us know that they were at the hospital and that there might be a baby here later this afternoon. The hospital is about four hours from us so I was trying to decide whether to go in to work for a little bit or to take the whole day off and head right down there. Lisa began packing a bag. About half an hour later we received another text stating that the baby would definitely be here by noon. Now we are in a hurry trying to get on the road. Less than ten minutes after that came a third text that said, “Breach, emergency C-section. He’s here”. Silas was born and we were not even out of the garage yet.

Once we were there we got a more detailed picture of the morning events. As we realized the stressful situation our kids had been through a few hours earlier I felt bad that I had not been there. I know that it was impossible. Everything happened so fast there was just no way to make it there in time but you still like to be there for your kids when they are facing difficult situations.

When our first grandchild, Annalee, was born to our son Tim and his wife, Leslee, Lisa and I were out of town. There were no indications that the baby was coming yet so we felt free to leave town to visit some friends. Bright and early the next morning we received a call that she was on her way. We gathered our belongings, jumped in the car, and were on our way within minutes. We were still hours away when Tim called to let us know there were complications. I could hear the concern in his voice and wanted so bad to be there. This also resulted in an emergency C-section and everyone was fine.

I am very proud of both of these young men for how they were there for their wives and children. That is what love does. There is not always a lot you can do but care, and pray, and wait; but to come along side and help carry the burden in any way you can. The Bible says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sin Free

My daughter-in-law Liz’s father is also a pastor of a church in a small town in Northern Minnesota. His name is Dave. Their church has an AWANA ministry for children where they learn about God, memorize Bible verses, sing songs, and play games. One evening Dave was teaching the children the gospel but one little girl was having trouble coming to terms with it. The part she was struggling with was that God cannot tolerate any sin in His presence. Which means we cannot go to heaven in our sinful state. She just could not understand this. If you, for the most part, do good things, but only sin a little here and there, why wouldn’t God be okay with that? She, like the rest of us, did not see her sin to be that big of a deal. Of course sin does not look that bad to us because we are sinners.

God, however, is holy and the Bible has ample evidence to support the fact that God will not just overlook our sin. Adam and Eve ate just one piece of fruit from the one tree that they were not suppose to eat from and sin and death came into the world, and they were kicked out of the garden of Eden and the presence of God. The Prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). Down through the ages people had to offer sacrifices to atone for their sin in order to be accepted by God. All of this points to the necessity of Christ whom John the Baptist referred to as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). This is why it is so important for us to realize how unacceptable our sinfulness is to God. Then we can repent of it and come to Christ to have it removed. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).

However, Dave was having a hard time convincing that little girl. That is, until the conversation turned toward something else. The little girl mentioned that her entire family has a serious allergy to glutton.   They have to be very careful what they eat or even come in contact with. She emphasized that they cannot allow any glutton in their house. Dave saw a connection and mentioned that surely a little glutton would be fine. As long as they kept out most of it, that must surely be okay? Absolutely not! She insisted that they cannot have any glutton in their home or diet. The tiniest bit would cause huge problems. Dave then pointed out that sin is like glutton to God. He cannot tolerate any. When you realize that, you are ready come to Christ to have it removed.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Did Horton Hear?

In the children’s book, “Horton Hears a Who”, by Dr. Seuss, Horton is an elephant who hears a voice coming from a speck of dust. He determines that there must be a tiny person living on that speck of dust but soon discovers it to be a whole community called “Whoville”. He then places the speck of dust on a clover and vows to protect it stating, “A person’s a person no matter how small”. It is only because of the invention of the Whoscope appliance by Dr. H. Whovey, who is the Mayor of Whoville, and Horton’s big ears that he is able to hear them. The other animals, who cannot hear the Whos, ridicule Horton for his odd behavior and threaten to destroy the speck of dust. In the end Horton gets the Whos to make enough noise for the other animals to hear them, and they vow to protect the tiny community as well.

This story serves as an interesting allegory of a current issue in our society. Replace Dr. H. Whovey with obstetrician, Bernard Nathanson; and the “Whoscope Appliance” with the ultrasound machine. Dr. Nathanson was an abortion provider and founder of “NARAL Pro Choice America”. NARAL originally stood for: National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws but was later changed to  National Abortion Rights Action League. He was also the director of the Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health which was then the largest freestanding abortion facility in the world. By his own admission he had presided over 60,000 deaths and even aborted a child of his own. His efforts to legalize abortion in America saw success in the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

However, with the development of ultrasound Dr. Nathanson’s view of abortion would change. He would come to see, as Horton did, that “A person’s a person no matter how small”. The Doctor turned from abortion provider to prolife activist referring to abortion as “the most atrocious holocaust in the history of the United States”. Nathanson used ultrasound to make a real time movie of an entire abortion, which he narrates. The movie is called “The Silent Scream” and is viewable on the internet. Most people have not seen the movie, yet most people have seen ultrasound pictures of children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, or the children of friends. I saw a news broadcast a while back that reported that in the last ten years ten percent more Americans have become prolife. The reason given for this change was technology. Through ultrasound we get a glimpse into the womb and what do we see? “A person’s a person no matter how small”. As the Psalmist confirmed, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:13,14).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good As New?

I recently went to the doctor. I have struggled with a pain in my right hip for a long time.   A couple weeks ago pain started radiating down my leg as well so I went to see an orthopedic doctor. They x-rayed my hip and it looked okay. The prognosis is inflammation around the tendon that connects to my hip. When I described the pain to a friend of mine, who is a physical therapist, she said it sounded more like a problem in my back. So I went to another doctor who x-rayed my back. It turns out that, by favoring my hip for so long, I have put pressure on a joint in my back causing it to become inflamed as well. Thankfully the same medication should fix both.

Some friends at church asked how I was. I explained to them that the x-rays did not reveal any major issues and that hopefully the medication would solve the problem. One of them commented that hopefully I would be as good as new. “Good as New” Doctors used to use terminology like that with me. However, this time, after seeing two doctors and a chiropractor, nobody said anything like “good as new”. Instead they use phrases like, “for your age group”, or “considering your age”. The x-ray reveals a little arthritis around my joints and they say it is, “to be expected”. How did I get from “as good as new” to “for your age” so quickly?

It could be worse. I once had a friend that cut off his finger with a saw. I later asked him if he was experiencing much pain. He said, “No”, and that the part that hurt the most was when the doctor told him that if he was younger they would have sewed it back on but “considering his age” they pulled the skin over it. I may not be there yet, but as quickly it seems I have gone from “good as new” to a little arthritis is “to be expected”, I know I will be there soon.

This year I will turn fifty-two. It seems like I was just recently turning thirty but now some of my children are at that mark. Life goes by so fast. The Bible asks the question, “What is your life?” and then answers, “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Life is so short. And it seems that the closer you get to the end the faster it goes by. This is why Psalmist writes, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). In other words, you don’t have much time. Use it wisely.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Little Monkeys

My grandson, Malachi, is one active little two year old. It is amazing how many times he can run around our kitchen table while bent over pushing a large, plastic, yellow, Tonka style dump truck; especially if he is racing his grandmother, affectionately known as “Mapa”. He also loves anything with wheels: trucks (especially fire trucks), trains, motorcycles, and four-wheelers, even riding lawn mowers. This year Lisa and I bought Malachi a motorcycle helmet for Christmas so that he can wear it, rather than his bicycle helmet, while riding on the four-wheeler.

The other day Malachi was in his Mom’s room, jumping on her bed. Leah had to leave the room for a minute to get his blankets and as she did she said, “be careful. Remember what happened to the 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed.” When she returned he was still jumping on the bed but now he was wearing his bicycle helmet. As the story goes, Malachi may not have taken the doctors advice but he definitely learned a lesson from the story. His mom did not tell him not to jump on the bed but warned of its potential danger. He heeded that warning.

That is what we are supposed to do with the events that have been recorded for us in the Bible. Learn from it. The Bible says these events, “took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.  Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.  Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:6-11).

The point the apostle was making was that in the past the children of Israel had been delivered from slavery in the nation of Egypt by God’s mighty hand. They had also seen God provide food and water for them in the desert in miraculous ways. Never the less some of them still pursued evil to their own destruction.

We must learn from their examples. This world is full of temptations and pitfalls. We all need to guard our minds regarding the way we think and our hearts concerning the things we desire. As for me, this little monkey is going to take a cue from his grandson and put a helmet on.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peace on Earth

Gun sales in California are sky rocketing as the day that their new gun laws go into effect draws closer. One manager of a gun store in Sacramento said, “The whole anti-gun movement, taking guns from citizens, literally has everyone and their grandmother buying firearms before they can’t get them anymore because they want to be able to be protected”. A customer that was interviewed on the news said that he believed in peace and karma but that he was buying a gun in case that didn’t work out. Apparently it is a little unnerving trying to live out the principles of Hinduism in a world that is salted with radical Islamic terrorism. This is understandable since in the same news coverage we get an update on the attack on a Christmas Market that killed a dozen people and injured forty-eight more in Berlin the day before; and we also hear discussion of the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey the day before that. I am sure that every Miss America contestant since the dawn of that pageant has spoken out for world peace; and we have even seen an NBA star change his name to “World Peace”; yet for all the wishful thinking we have yet to attain the goal.

At the announcement of Jesus’ birth the angels declared “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” (Luke 2:14). When He grew up He taught, ““Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9). But Jesus knew that His way of peace would not be accepted and that people would respond in violence. That is why He also said, ““Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) And what happened? They killed Him. He also taught that in the last days before His return we would see “wars and rumors of wars”. In other words we are not going to accomplish world peace until the Prince of Peace has returned. So then what do we celebrate during the Christmas season? Where is this peace that was promised with the birth of the Son of God? Part of this peace we look forward to as we await His return. Part of this peace we participate in as we follow the Bible’s teaching which says,  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18). But the foundational part of all of this is the peace we enjoy with God through trusting in His Son. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bow Hunters’ Religion

Last spring I bought a bow. Throughout the summer I practiced on a shooting range in order to be ready to hunt my first archery season this fall. It was a lot of fun and my first year of hunting turned out to be successful thanks to the help of a few friends. As I soon learned, there is a lot more to it than just buying and learning your way around a bow.

When a friend called and asked if I wanted to go hunting I said I did but that I had not yet picked up any camouflage clothing. Another friend said I could borrow his gear and this is where my education continued.

Apparently a deer’s first line of defense is its’ nose. I was handed a large variety of camouflage clothing (right down to the lucky underwear). It had all been washed in a special scent blocking detergent and then sealed in a Rubbermaid container. They sent the detergent with me in case I wanted to wear some of my own clothing as well. It is a good idea to rinse out the washing machine before washing them in this detergent and then wipe down the dryer so as to get rid of any residue from dryer sheets before drying them. I was also given some special scent blocking spray, shampoo, body wash, deodorant, and tooth paste.

It was suggested that there be no air fresheners, or candles burning in the house. I should take a shower just before going hunting, and immediately put on the scent-blocked gear and get out of the house.

I followed the directions but ran into a little glitch. As I finished showering I reached out to grab a towel but stopped just short of touching it. How am I supposed to dry? Lisa prides herself in having towels that are clean, shiny, soft, and smell good. Surely I cannot rub that all over myself. Should I step on the bathmat? I squeegeed myself off with my hands, waved my arms, shook my legs and stood in the middle of the bathroom and dripped dry. Great effort was taken to make sure that I did not come into contact with anything that would contaminate me by adding a smell that would alert the deer to my presence.

As a Christian I must be just as diligent to make sure I do not become contaminated by the sin that is in the world. The Bible tells us that, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). I should be much more concerned about how I smell to God than how I smell to a deer.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Truck Talk

My grandson, Malachi, loves trucks. His Dad and his Grandpa on his Dad’s side both drive trucks so he comes by it honestly. He has a little book about trucks. In this book is a picture of a cement truck so one day, while I was pouring concrete, I had Leah bring Malachi out to the job so he could see a real concrete truck in action.

One of Malachi’s favorite TV shows is a British cartoon called “Fireman Sam”. Whenever he comes over and wants to watch that show he imitates the sound of the fire trucks.   Weeooo Weeooo Weeooo”, he says. Any time he sees something that reminds him of firemen or fire trucks in a book, on TV, or in life he makes the same noise.

Another noise that has not escaped his attention is the beeping noise trucks make while they back up. He has recognized that every time he hears that noise a truck is going backwards. Now, if he backs up he beeps. Whenever he is in a car that is backing up he beeps. If he makes his toy cars back up he makes a beeping noise. He makes his “Super Man” doll fly backwards and beeps. He recently wanted to wear his hat backwards and in order to communicate this to his Mom he made the beeping noise while handing her his hat. Apparently I have a grandson that speaks truck. It is pretty cool that a two year old paid close enough attention to see the correlation between the beeping noise and trucks backing up. He obviously saw this consistently enough to get the message.

This is what God did with us concerning the gospel. He showed it to us consistently that we might get the message. For a couple thousand years the people of Israel offered sacrifice after sacrifice. Time after time the innocent died for the guilty to receive the remission of sins. The Bible teaches that all those sacrifices were but a copy or shadow of what God intended to do through His Son (Hebrews 8). When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming he declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). The millions of sacrifices offered through the years leading up to Christ should have made it easy for them to recognize what God was doing through His Son as the innocent died for the guilty. It should have been as obvious as the beeping of a truck that is backing up.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Comfort Distributor

Of the five children Lisa and I have only one of them was birthed naturally. He was our third child. It was scary! Lisa was in such pain and straining. I remember the nurse insisting, “Lisa you have got to breath”. This birth made the previous two, in which an epidural had been used, seem like a walk in the park. We decided that natural birth was overrated. During the next two births Lisa kept close tabs on the anesthesiologist to make sure the epidurals were ready. Once the epidural was in the doctor would say, “You need to push during the next contraction.” To which Lisa would reply, “Okay, you tell me when I’m having a contraction.” It was so much more relaxed and enjoyable with the benefit of modern medicine. The doctor, who was in favor of natural birth, asked that we not tell anyone how much easier it was with the epidural.

When my daughter, Leah, was pregnant with her second baby she decided to deliver with an epidural. However, there was one concern. An epidural involves a shot. Leah was not looking forward to this shot so she enlisted her husband, Zach, to help her out.

“When I get the epidural they are going to give me a shot”, she explained to Zach. “so I need you to think of something to talk to me about during the shot to help distract me.” She reminded him occasionally as the time grew closer.

When the time came and the anesthesiologist began to prepare for the epidural Leah looked at Zach and said, “Okay, I am about to get the shot. Talk to me.”

Zach’s eyes grew wide and he said, “WOW, that’s a big needle.”

Okay, so we are not always the best at comforting one another. I, also, have been criticized for reading a book while Lisa experiences the earlier parts of labor. We may have the desire to help but often do not recognize when, or how we are needed.

God’s word encourages us to be on the lookout for such opportunities. After referring to God as, “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” the Apostle Paul points out that God wants to involve us in the process. He says that God “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3,4).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Under Construction

I recently started a new job for a customer who has a home with a flat roof. They hired us to build a pitched roof on top of it. This will be a fun project. It is to be a steep roof, which contains a second floor loft in the center of the building. The section that faces the river will be opened up into a vaulted ceiling and the end wall will have triangular windows that match the angle of the roof.

We began work on this project the other day and were hoping to be able to pull back the roofing a little and begin building on top of what was there. However, as we removed some roofing and exposed the roof deck we found that much of the structure underneath was rotten. We spent about a day and a half tearing out rotten wood, replacing the top plates on the walls, repairing joists, and replacing sheeting. Once that is done we can finally start building the new roof structure over it.

This was not what we were hoping for but neither was it surprising. In most jobs we end up finding materials that are rotten, broken, or improperly installed. We remove what we have to until we get down to a surface we can work with and build on. That is remodeling. Whether it is a new bathroom, window, flooring, cabinets, or roofing it is out with the old and in with the new.

That is also what happens when God remodels a life. I remember when I first came to Christ. There were things in my life that were rotten and needed to go; both attitudes and actions that did not line up with the character of God. There were also behaviors, perspectives, and emotions that should have been a part of my life but were not. This is what the Bible is talking about as God encourages us, “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

It was not all immediate but when I gave my life to Christ He began the remodel. He convicted me of things that needed to go and I began to see the world differently. I grew in my understanding of God and in my love for Him and others; a process which continues to this day for I am “UNDER CONSTRUCTION”.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment