Feb 28, 2013

It all started at a wedding…

Specifically, when we chose a passage of scripture for our wedding. Cathy and I were in the process of planning our wedding in 1981 and we wanted to have a scripture verse that would be the focus on our ceremony. After much consideration we choose Matthew 6:24-34 which says;

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. 25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

I liked this passage because I saw it as a way for me to witness to our non-Christian friends who would be attending our wedding. This was my chance to let them know that THEY needed to seek Him. Little did I know that this passage would be a life-verse for both Cathy and I.

In fact, had I known it, I probably would have picked another passage of scripture that would be the hallmark of our lives. Something along the lines of; 

“Your life will have no problems... Come to Him and you will never have any struggles. You will never have to use faith. Simply ask God and He will give you whatever you want as soon as you ask. He is a super generous God who is at your service to meet every wish”

Unfortunately, that verse doesn’t exist. So, we set out into our marriage with our eyes blind to what was ahead of us, simply committing that we would seek Him first in all things.

We had to learn to stand on Matthew 6:24-34 right away during our first year of marriage. Shortly after our wedding, we got together with another couple from church to compare wedding photos. They had gotten married one week earlier than we did and weren’t able to attend our wedding because they were on their honeymoon. 

At some point during our evening the conversation transformed into a sales pitch for insurance. The husband had a person goal of selling one million dollars during his first year and we were in his crosshairs. When we explained that we already had enough insurance (with another agent from the same insurance company), he quickly stated that you can never have too much insurance because who knows what will happen.
When that attempt didn’t work to stop this salesman, I stated that if something came up, we would have to rely on God’s provision. His response still challenges me today. He said, in essence; “You can’t look to God to provide for you, that’s stupid!”

With that, we were done with the conversation. What alarmed us more was that no matter how much we defended our decision to “seek first His kingdom”, he was determined to undermine our faith and get us to “live in the real world” not some fantasy world of make believe.

We quickly ended our evening and asked them to leave as his wife, who had been friends with me since kindergarten, hid her face in embarrassment as they headed out the door. Little did I know that this was the beginning of learning to stand by faith and not by what others would say trying to undermine our faith.

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."


Feb 21, 2013

Learning to see the soap

The year was 1990 and I was at my brother’s house helping to remodel his kitchen. To my recollection it was the second time that he had remodeled his kitchen since the time that he purchased his house. Cathy and I had moved into our house but hadn’t yet been able to afford to remodel.

I was using a small sliver of bar soap from the sink to lubricate the screws that I was using to hang the new cabinets. My brother said to me that he needed to use the same bar of soap to wash his hands. Just at that moment, his wife came in from the bathroom and remarked that she needed the bar of soap so that she could wash hands after using the bathroom and then she would go to the store and purchase some more soap.

Just as I was handing the bar of soap to my brother, a guest who was staying at their house shouted up from his living quarters that he wanted to know who took the soap from the shower in the lower level of the house. My brother held up the bar of soap as he sarcastically exclaimed how grateful that they were living the prosperous life! He was only kidding, as he knew that it was on his wife’s shopping list to pick up soap when she went to the store. I continued with the installation of the cabinets with no further thought for the soap.

After the cabinets were all installed, I went to my own home, grabbed a change of clothes and went to take a shower. Just outside of the shower on shelf where we keep deodorant, razors, and shampoo, I noticed six new bars of soap and thought about the small sliver of soap that four people needed to use at my brother’s house all at the same time.

Now, I’m guessing that those same bars of soap were sitting by the shower all day; in other words they didn’t miraculously appear! It was then that in my spirit the Lord spoke to me and said something along the lines of; “If you don’t see how I am blessing you in abundance through the bars of soap, you won’t see it when I bring the big items.” I realized that we the ones who were truly living a prosperous life.

That one incident was the pivotal moment through which my eyes were opened up and I began to see provision in a whole new way. Every meal that we were invited to, every loaf of bread we were given I saw as a gift from God. No longer did I take so many things for granted. I began to be grateful for soap, and shampoo, and showers, and towels, and fresh clothes to wear, for gas in the car, and for the car no matter what condition it was in.

We all have the potential of being grateful throughout each and every day for everything we have from the moment we set our foot out of the bed in the morning until the moment we go back to bed at night. And, we can even be grateful for the bed we sleep in, and the covers, and the pillow.

What I am saying is there is no end to seeing and being grateful for His provision; if we choose to do so.

And it all started with six new bars of soap.



Feb 14, 2013

God has a big “BUT”

Throughout the Bible there is story after story of people facing insurmountable circumstances for which there appeared to be no way out and no possible way for a victory. And yet, if you read the end of each one of the stories, God gives victory to those who walk in His ways.

What I noticed was a common theme throughout these stories’ that they had people who had their backs against the wall and a testimony of how they were victorious. Right in the middle of each one of the stories is a key phrase that made all the difference in the world. It is a phrase that causes the reader to stop, and go another direction.

Simply put the phrase is “But God….”

You can also read interruptions to the stories in the Bible that goes something like; “nevertheless God”, and “however God”, and “moreover God”
My friend I am writing this to you today to let you know that no matter what circumstance you are facing, you need to know that where you are currently at is not the end of the story because God has a big ‘but’.

The following are verses from the Bible to get you starting to know that God has a big ‘but’. 
 “But God”

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.” (Genesis 8:1)

“But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” (Genesis 17:19)
“But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named.” (Genesis 21:12)

“Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:8)

“Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers.” (Genesis 48:21)
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20

“Joseph said to his brothers, “ I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” (Genesis 50:24)

“But God split the hollow place that is in Lehi so that water came out of it. When he drank, his strength returned and he revived. Therefore he named it En-hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day.” (Judges 15:19)

“David stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand.” (1 Samuel 23:14)

“But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, For He will receive me. Selah.” (Psalm 49:15)

“But God will shoot at them with an arrow; Suddenly they will be wounded.” (Psalm 64:7)

“My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

“But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.” (Psalm 75:7)

“But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered.” (Jonah 4:7)

“But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” (Acts 2:24)


“But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘ IT WAS NOT TO ME THAT YOU OFFERED VICTIMS AND SACRIFICES FORTY YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS, WAS IT, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL?” (Acts 7:42)

“But God raised Him from the dead;” (Acts 13:30)

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,” (1 Corinthians 1:27)

“For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.” (Galatians 3:18)

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,” (Ephesians 2:4)

“For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.” (Philippians 2:27)

 “Nevertheless God”

“Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you.” (Deuteronomy 23:5)

 Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them, For You are a gracious and compassionate God.” (Nehemiah 9:31)

“Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “ The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “ Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:19)

“However God”

“Yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times; however, God did not allow him to hurt me.” (Genesis 31:7)

“because they did not meet the sons of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing.” (Nehemiah 13:2)

“However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed.” (Daniel 2:28)

“Moreover God”

“Moreover, the LORD your God will send the hornet against them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you perish.” (Deuteronomy 7:20)

 Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6)

 Moreover, I will deliver the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel master, And a mighty king will rule over them,” declares the Lord GOD of hosts.” (Isaiah 19:4)

© 2013 River of Hope Ministries. All Rights Reserved   ALL SCRIPTURE IS NASB  


Feb 7, 2013

Hockey Guy

“Hi hockey guy”; she shouted across the store as I pushed my shopping cart through the isle of a local grocery store. She was an employee and saw me as I was doing my weekly grocery shopping.

“I suppose you are happy that the NHL is back up and running again”; she continued as I gathered items into my shopping cart somewhat paying attention to her comments. She said that when the four month long NHL strike had ended and hockey had started back up she knew that I would be happy since that was my sport, my thing; after all, I was “hockey guy”.

My disengaged look seemed to bring some confusion to her; so she asked if she had understood correctly that I played hockey and was somehow involved with coaching. I told her that I did still play, sometimes two times a week and that I did teach kids to skate as well as coaching.

As she continued with the conversation, I realized that this was one of two places where the name “hockey guy” was given to me. The other place was at the gym where Cathy and I work out at several times a week.

It was at the gym that I had first heard that I was affectionately referred to as “hockey guy” by those who didn’t know my name and named me “hockey guy” due to the fact that oftentimes I will turn one of the four TV’s to NHL to watch a game; all twelve months of the year.

It’s not that I was hiding anything about who I was or what I did from fellow gym rats; that had been exposed a little over a year ago after I came back from a long mission trip. When I returned and questions were asked about what I did, which was mostly preaching, some had dubbed me a “man-of-the-cloth”. My secret identity was revealed.

It isn’t that I was embarrassed about what I do, it’s just that as soon as people find out that I am a minister, everything changes. Suddenly conversations are modified and statements are added like, “Oops, I forgot we had a man-of-the-cloth here; so watch your language”. Being “hockey guy” gives a opportunity to get to know people without walls.

“So, what is it that you do?” the employee of the grocery continued with her questions, moving past her original inquiry into my thoughts on the NHL strike ending. I told her that I was a minister and she started asking questions about what specifically I did in ministry.

I told her that besides preaching and pastoral care, my ministry was geared to Pastoring Pastors:
    o   To those who are burned out in ministry
    o   To those who are in a transition in ministry
    o   To those who are in need of Restoration due to failure

After I told her she looked at me and said; “that’s cool!” and dialoged a bit more as to what that practically looks like.

I finished my shopping only to be asked by the cashier if I was going to play hockey in the upcoming “Pond Hockey Tournament”. I told him “no” and he shared how he had some friends coming to the Twin Cities to go to the tournament. I realized that my name as “hockey guy” might be store-wide.

When I heard the second employee at the grocery store make an association with me to hockey, I realized that perhaps I had not fully shared who I was with the employees at this store where I shop every Monday. I realized that perhaps I had only shared a small part of my life. 

I’ll admit that the name “hockey guy” wasn’t without some merit; I play, teach, and coach hockey and I workout to still be able to play hockey at my age. I even have one of my guest rooms dubbed “the hockey room” because of the hockey paraphernalia including around twelve hundred pucks.

But my concern was whether I was going through this life and not sharing the most important part of who I was. My concern was that if I was to die tonight, the sum total of who I was, my epitaph, would be that I was “hockey guy”.

Had I gone to two important places in my life and not even revealed who I was? I don’t mean whether or not people know I am a minister, but that I was a follower of Jesus Christ; that I was a Christian. The most important relationship and place in my life had been foreshadowed by my “love” for hockey.

My real concern is at the end of my days whether or not people who knew me knew that I hung with God, that I spent time with Him. I do not want my epitaph to say that I was “hockey guy”; but rather, that I was a “friend of God”. Oh, that that would be the legacy that I would leave!

“And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.” (James 2:23)

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."