Sep 24, 2010

Spiritual Myopia

I like glasses; all types of glasses. Why? I don’t know, but I always have; regular glasses as well as sunglasses, reading, and novelty. Although I don’t really need to wear them, I am starting to sometimes find it difficult to focus on fine details or things that are really close up without them.

I probably like glasses because I was the only one of my brothers who didn’t need to wear them. In fact, I was happy when, at age forty, I was told that I should probably consider occasionally using a pair of reading glasses to help take the strain off of my eyes due to computer work and reading. So, I got a pair and was a happy camper.

I have very good eyes. Every year, at my annual checkup, my optometrist tells me that his eyes have never been as great as mine (even as mine are now getting older). My reading glasses are really just a convenient tool to help take the stain off of these half-century plus eyes. I only wear them a couple of times a day when I read.

To you who have myopia and have to wear glasses, you are probably thinking, “You like to wear glasses? Let’s trade places for a whole day to see what it is like to HAVE to wear them ALL of the time just to even be able to see the simplest things; let alone to be able to read. Try living with myopia ALL day and see how much you like wearing glasses”.

Hey, did my wife Cathy just say; “Amen”?

Myopia is an improper focus or an inability to see distant objects clearly. It is also called; “nearsightedness”. It's easily detected and corrected with the use of glasses, contacts, or laser surgery. It's inconvenient to have to put on glasses or put in contacts to make images clearer, but not debilitating.

In our lives it is possible to have a more serious problem than an inability to see physically. Myopia can also mean “a lack of foresight or discernment; obtuseness”.

I call this condition; “spiritual myopia” The symptoms are: clear focus when it comes to identifying problems, obstacles or difficulties in everyday life; but great difficulty in focusing on the power and protection which God has provided to meet the problem head on. In other words, the focus is always on the problems, not on God who will provide the solution.

No matter what situation we find ourselves in, we need to know that God is in control. He knows the deepest plans of the enemy and ways of undermining those plans. We need our focus adjusted so that we can see God’s solution instead of the just the problem.

In the natural, when we use glasses, our eyeball adjusts to the glasses; not the other way around. When we use contacts, our eyeball is conformed to the shape of the lenses; the lenses do not conform to the shape of the eye. And, they only work if we use them.

In the spiritual, our “glasses” are the Word of God (the Bible); and it only works if we use it for every situation that were facing. God’s plans and solutions are always greater than anyone could have ever imagined. We need to adjust to what the Bible says, not the other way around. The Bible doesn’t conform to our problems; our thoughts need to be conformed to what the Bible says.

Romans 12: 2 paraphrased says that we should not be conformed to this world (the problem), but be transformed by the renewing of our mind (by the Word of God), that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I want to encourage you to find a Bible and read the story in the book of 2 Kings Chapter 6, verses 8-23. It is a great story of the Prophet Elisha and his servant who one day found themselves in a bit of trouble. The two of them were surrounded by a great army from Syria that was coming to get them and they (seemingly) had nowhere to go. Elisha’s servant focused on the problem, and he asked “What shall we do?”

Elisha, instead, had his “spiritual glasses" on and was focused on God as the One who would get them out of this mess. Elisha was able to see the solution that God had for the two of them. In verse 17 of 2 Kings 6, Elisha prayed for his servant’s spiritual myopia:

“17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17 NKJV)

Truth was, God’s army had been surrounding them all of the time; that is what Elisha saw and why Elisha seemingly wasn’t too concerned. In other words, when God re-adjusted this servant’s focus; the servant of Elisha was able to understand that there were more of God’s army than the army that was surrounding the two of them. Elisha was able to calm his servant and help him understand how much more powerful God was.

So where are the areas that your focus has been off? Are you trying to squint or pretend that you are able to see? My encouragement for you is to stop and allow God to refocus your eyes through His Word and through the Holy Spirit. Be like Elisha’s servant and say; “Alas my master! What shall we do?” And stand fast as He will come through and show you what to do.

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV)

Sep 17, 2010

Slow Down and Smell the Roses

It’s Friday already; man did the week flew by quickly! Just 1 week ago I was lacing up my skates to skate at the Excel Energy Center, which is home to the Minnesota Wild. I was invited to spend some time at a Press Conference for the Minnesota Wild to meet and greet the newest players (Cullen, Madden, and Nystrom) as well as Mikko Koivu, who had just signed a large contract extension.  

Following the interviews, I took a tour of the whole MN Wild facilities with Chuck Fletcher, the General Manger of the Wild (along with others like Jason Stern). Afterwards, I had the whole ice rink at the Excel Energy Center to myself to skate on for around 20 minutes (well, actually I shared the fresh sheet of ice with 2 other people and Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s brother; still, pretty cool for those of us who love hockey.). The time that I spent with the Minnesota Wild went by way too quickly as well as my time on the ice.  

And here I am, one week later; realizing that this past week just flew by. “Where did this week go?”; I ask myself as I sit here writing this blog, realizing that it took me longer to cook my supper than it did for me to eat it. It is a good thing that Cathy told me that my meal was “seasoned with garlic, ginger, and aromatic spices”; I ate it too fast to even notice or to enjoy deep conversation with her as we rushed to the next event in our day. 

How much did I stop and smell the roses this week? How slowly did I chew my food? How well did I listen to those who were speaking with me this week; did I really listen to what they were saying? Did I stop and enjoy my week, or was I in a hurry to get to the next event; and if so, what did I miss along the way?

Life moves very quickly when you cross over to the fifties, way too quickly. I’m realizing that I need to slow down and enjoy life moment by moment; savoring every conversation and visitation of life that crosses my path in whatever form it comes; emails, phone calls, drop-ins, as well as scheduled events.

The way that we rushed through this week; was it worth it? We should live each day as though it might be our last day; because it might be our last day. And, if we are not careful, life may pass us by. And then, in time, we will breathe our last and others will be talking about how we lived when we were alive.

When we were young and growing up we didn’t think about death. We think that death is for our grandmother; or for the old man down the road. But death comes to all of us, usually at a time when most of us do not expect it or when we are not looking for it; and then it is there. Sometimes, people are not ready to die; they’re un-prepared and they haven’t thought about getting their life together because they were too busy rushing through this life without really living.

Today, please take some time to think about life and death and what’s important. Death is a reality - but so is God's offer of salvation in Christ. Is your hope in Christ? Don't put off your decision for Him, because you could be called into eternity at any moment - and then it will be too late.

Take time to talk to God and to talk to your friends. Take time to think about what’s important. Take time to slow down and smell the roses; it will be next week soon enough.

SATURDAY NOTE: This morning, a good friend, Gil Gaitin, had a sudden massive heart attack while undergoing a stress-test.  As of Saturday afternoon, he had not regained consciousness and was on life-support. LIFE REALLY IS EVER CHANGING. 

MONDAY NOTE: It is with great grief that I inform you that "Papa" Gil Gaitin has been called from this earth to his reward in heaven. He died about 4:30 a.m. this morning. Please cover the immediate family and the Bethel Christian Fellowship family in their immense suffering. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Thursday morning at BCF. There will be a visitation Wednesday evening from 5-8 and visitation before the funeral on Thursday morning. More information will be coming shortly. In our unity, we can find the strength we need from the Lord.

Struggling with what to do next? Go to:

Or call 1-888-NEED-HIM. Someone is waiting to talk to you.

Sep 10, 2010

An Open Letter to my Dad and Mom

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12

Dear Dad and Mom

I was thinking of the two of you when I was cutting the grass the other day; my mind was thinking of Joshua and Jen’s upcoming wedding and I became very grateful for all that the two of you have done for me; for our family over the years. In particular, I wanted to write down a couple of things that came to mind as I mowed my yard.

You both sacrificed so much of your time, emotions, sleep, finances; your physical health to provide for all of us children over our lifetimes. But more than the physical provisions; of which I am tremendously grateful, it is the spiritual heritage that I felt led to comment on. I know that I did some things right as a dad and husband, but I know that it was God who chose to hear your prayers and change the course of history.

Mom; you started this. It was you that followed the Lord’s leading as you wondered what had happened to Chris and Sue Steven’s life to make them appear so different. It was you who said “yes” to Angie’s invitation to “come and see”.

It was your prayers and tears and intercessions that prayed all of us boys into the Kingdom of God. All of your sons are at a place where they long to follow and serve the Lord with their whole heart. The results of your prayers are seen in the lives of those who we have touched in ministry; formally, or behind the scenes as so many of Rick’s are. Galatians 6:9 says; “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

Proverbs 31:28 says; “Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her.” You are blessed, and your sons are blessed, and the next generations (should Jesus tarry) will be blessed because you chose life in Jesus when you were presented with the option. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you.

Dad; you too were a part of all of this. More than what you did by becoming a Catholic and all that it cost you, it was the legacy of seeking God that you deposited. I remember you going on retreats when we were kids and going to novenas and taking us to St. Joe’s; trying to seek the Lord as best you knew how. When mom came to the Lord, you too surrendered after you (like a Berean) sought for truth in following Jesus.

When I was cutting the grass, I remember a men’s retreat that we both attended where one of the talks was on how to raise your children in the Lord. You, Tom Langlois, Joe Rowan, and Marv were hit with the frustration and tears as you expressed; “Where was this when we were starting out as young parents?” I remember several of us standing up and requesting; “Help us to raise our children, the next generation”.

As I have spent time with Joshua and Jonathan and watch how they treat their wives (Joshua’s son-to-be-wife), I realize; Dad, WE DID IT! We stopped the erosion of men who didn’t do it right (for a whole lot of reasons). As I look at my sons, I realize that your cries, your prayers that day were heard by a God who too wanted to see a godly heritage; and your sons and my sons are the result of that. Joshua and Jonathan are my hope of a new generation that will do it right; and the world will be a better place!

So, as you think of my ministry and the lives that I am able to touch and make a difference in, and when you look at my children and how they have turned out; please know that you were the ones who made it happen by your choices to follow and seek the only One who could ever make lasting changes in our lives. 

Jesus said; “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 15:7-8

I am so very grateful that each of you has said, and continues to say “yes” to the will and purposes of the Lord Jesus Christ in your lives.

Thank you. I love you both!

1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Sep 3, 2010

Hockey as Invented by God

The weather today in St. Paul, Minnesota has a sharp crispness to the air. The past several months we have had beautiful weather and the temperatures have been in the upper 80's and mid-90's with high humidity and high heat index. 

This morning I was greeted to a cool 58 degrees and very windy. And that can only mean one thing; fall is here and winter is coming and all that goes with it; Baseball playoffs (GO TWINS!), FOOTBALL, AND HOCKEY; yeah!

Now, some people have wondered if we should participate in sports or not; especially ones that have winners and losers; "after all, we're all winners...".

My question is what reality does that prepare a kid for? 

I do agree that some professional athletes (and others) take the winner and losing to an extreme level that to them is a matter of life and death. Sports are meant to be fun and up building; while at the same time having a clear individual(s) who comes in first place and someone who doesn't. 

In sports there are "winners" who comes in last place as well as "losers" who comes in first; but not everyone gets a ring, trophy, or a "crown".

The Apostle Paul wrote; "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)

Here is my “proof” from Non-Sequitur by Wiley Miller that God invented (at least) hockey for man to enjoy.

The Bible says that there is:
      “A time to weep,
       And a time to laugh;
       A time to mourn,
       And a time to dance;”
      (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

I say that today we should laugh

And, for a Bible verse out of context;
“And Sarah said, "God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me." (Genesis 21:6)

Enjoy your day!

NOTE: In order to read the cartoon you may need to double-click it and then click it again

Non Sequitur” Comic Strip by Wiley Miller can be found on

Non Sequitur is Wiley Miller's wry look at the absurdities of everyday life
Non Sequitur will have you laughing at the controversy of everyday life.