Dec 26, 2013

A Sign Came Through A Window

“Let the sad eyes of the former days
Worries in the winter blow away
One of these painful stories may find a life.

Let me say it in your ear now
If you want a life and you're out of luck
How in heaven's name will you win tonight?

A sign came through a window
Take a look, see how
I'm amazed at what you know now
What you know now.

Paralyzed from another's cup
Got to learn in the ways of the Master
Anyway the candle is still lit.

'Cause anyway you know it
And your heart says you should
When you got it, you know you'll never have to knock on wood.

A sign came through a window
Take a look, see how
I'm amazed at what you know now
What you know now
What you know now.

Have you ever wondered what's beyond?

Sundays real honesty
Declarations of dependency
Confessions of an eternal struggle here.

A sign came through a window
Take a look and see how
I'm amazed at what you know now
What you know now.

Paralyzed from another's fall
Got to learn in the ways of the Master
Anyway the candle is still lit.

'Cause anyway you know it
And your heart says you should
When you got it, you know you'll never have to knock on wood
When you got it, you know you'll never have to knock on wood
When you got it, you know you'll never have to knock on wood.

Have you ever wondered what's beyond?”

 Copyright © 1998 Phil Keaggy Music, All Right Reserved



Dec 19, 2013


by Jessica Hillstrom
Some days I want to cry Maranatha
not to summon a second coming
but to summon your presence to the middle of our pain

And if I muster a faint Where are you, God?
please know that I don’t lack the knowledge—
I simply lack the faith

Like Job I’ve cried for answers
to questions large
beyond what I comprehend

to heartache, to suffering, to violence,
hatred and hunger ravaging lands

Yet one question still lingers unspoken
whispered in silent have mercies on me:

Dear Lord, will you offer atonement for abundance
in a world where poverty reigns?
The silence is heavy some days.

So we wait
and we pray
and we find the faith to believe
you will come again, Lord Jesus, you will come

in your glory, in your power,
in a gentle whisper that calls us to believe

So come heal the broken,
come dance with the lame,
come in your fullness, your joy, once again

Yes, Incarnate, you've come and are coming
your presence is strong in our pain

You walk with the weary
you weep with the sad
you wrench free our shackles, our chains

So come in your mercy
come, dance in your grace
come in your love and sweet joy once again

Come again, Lord Jesus, come again
                       Copyright © 2013 by Jessica Hillstrom


Dec 12, 2013

Rest and Wait

Last Saturday I was home with nothing on my schedule. Actually, I should say that I chose to clear my schedule so that I could have some much needed down-time. I have not had an open Saturday in over three months. And, the next several Saturdays were already booked.

Just to be clear, my Saturdays have been filled with great events that included a wedding, babysitting, travel, helping out friends with their chores, and other things that I LOVE to do.

But, after a long week, I canceled everything and stayed home. In my time of devotions, the words “rest” and “wait” seemed to pop out from the scriptures that I was reading.

And so I was determined to simply rest and wait. I looked up the words in a concordance:

Rest means: (Hebrew) “A primitive root; to push forward, in various senses (literally or figuratively, transitively or intransitively): - break out, come (mightily), go over, be good, be meet, be profitable, (cause to, effect, make to, send) prosper (-ity, -ous, -ously).”

Wait means: (Hebrew) “A primitive root; to bind together (perhaps by twisting), that is, collect; (figuratively) to expect: - gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon).”

As I sat and spent time pondering the words of the scripture an overwhelming sense of calm came to my heart. The room I was sitting in seemed to be amazingly quiet. In fact, as I arose, I became aware of just how quiet and calm the whole house was. So I sat and rested and waited.

As I write this I realize just how many tasks (that I had put off like cleaning the refrigerator)  I was able to get done in a relatively short amount of time.

Eventually, when all was completed, I started to think that I had to do something; so I reminded myself that today, I was to simply rest and wait.

As you continue to go through this Advent Season, slow down; there is so much more that awaits you as you simply rest and wait



Dec 5, 2013

Just Whistle

When we were kids, the area surrounding our home was still undeveloped; in fact my parent’s home was one of the first to be built as the area went from farmland to a suburb. Because of it, we had large fields to play football and baseball in and woods to explore. Across the street from our house was a pond on which we canoed in the summer and played hockey on in the winter.

So there was plenty of space to wander far away from home and it sometimes could be difficult for a mother to get her kids home when it was dinner time.  

Because this was way before we all had cell phones, each mom had their own unique way of calling out; some shouted, some screamed, some sang, and some whistled; all in an attempt to call each of their children home.

My mom would call for us to come home for dinner by ringing a dinner bell. It was loud and its distinct sound could be heard no matter what direction we had gone from the house.

When each of us heard the screaming, shouting, calling, singing or ringing, it sometimes meant that we needed to get home because we were in trouble; they were trying to get our attention to return immediately.

Each of us knew our mom’s ‘voice’ and learned that we needed to come when we were being called.

Did you know that even God has His own unique way to call His children? Often times we think that His only way to communicate to us is dramatic with lightning, thunder, fire, wind, and explosions and so we may miss it when He calls. But one of the more unusual ways He does it was by whistling.

Yes, I said; “whistling”!

The Prophet Zechariah writes on behalf of God;  
“I will whistle for them and gather them, for I will redeem them; and they shall increase as they once increased.” (Zechariah 10:8 NKJV)

I love how Eugene Peterson translated it;
“I’ll whistle and they’ll all come running. I’ve set them free—oh, how they’ll flourish!

He is whistling because He wants to gather His children to Himself!

In Isaiah, we hear Him whistling because His children were ‘in trouble’ and He was trying to get their attention to return to Him immediately.
“He will lift up a banner to the nations from afar, and will whistle to them from the end of the earth; surely they shall come with speed, swiftly. (Isaiah 5:26 NKJV)

Do you hear God calling out to you? If not, perhaps it is because you have limited how He can communicate with you. Jesus said;

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27 NKJV)

Perhaps you missed it when He ‘whistled’.


NKJV = New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.)



Nov 28, 2013

Returning to Thanksgiving

Many years ago when my children were young, it was my intention to spend part of Thanksgiving Day morning by leading my children and Cathy throughout the house thanking the Lord for what He has given to us.  

To me, Thanksgiving Day in the USA had drifted away from its original intention and I was determined to do my part to help focus our household on the Lord.

It was President George Washington who proclaimed Thursday, November 26 to be "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer”. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation that declared the last Thursday in November to be a day of "thanksgiving and praise."

My children were tired and would have probably rather watched the “Rose Bowl Parade”, but I was determined to do thanksgiving differently than we had in the past few years. So, we started on the third floor of the house and I asked each of the children to thank the Lord for something that they were grateful for. Because they were tired, the words came out like an old car that had not turned over in a few months. I prodded and poked and exhorted them to give the Lord thanks.

And then, something wonderful happened! The Lord opened their eyes to see ALL that He had provided. Item by item they thanked for what they could see. And as they did, Cathy and I recalled how the Lord had provided the item to us; that was big and small items alike.

My recollection is that we spent at least forty five minutes going from room to room, floor by floor all the way to the basement verbally thanking the Lord for His provisions as they were pointed out one by one. I was amazed at the number of items that my children pointed out to me that previously were a part of the scenery and therefore hidden to me. Items like carpeting and paint and lights and videos and tapes and Louder and louder the praise was lifted up as they all joined in.

To me, not only was it one of the best Thanksgiving mornings that we have spent together, it was life changing for me! To this day, when my mind becomes focused on something I don’t have or something that needs to be replaced, I will walk through the house, thanking the Lord for each and every item that I see as I recall how He provided for me in the past.
And, with every passing moment my faith becomes elevated to trust Him for what I need today. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Nov 21, 2013

Only A Shadow

It was early morning and all was dark outside as the rain fell on my head. I was carrying out the recycling container full with the past two week’s newspapers and other recyclables to the front sidewalk when all at once I saw something that crossed my path and I was startled to the point that I moved out of the way.

Now, my heart didn’t skip a beat, but I was stunned enough to stop and want to pull back and take cover. Ok, maybe not take cover, but it was enough to cause me to stop and look around.

My first thought was that I had surprised a cat or some other small animal and it scurried to get out of my way. When I turned to set down the container I noticed my shadow move across the rain soaked grass. “It was only a shadow, not an animal that had crossed my path”; I thought to myself as I made my way back to the house.

Only a shadow; and yet I actually thought I saw something that really wasn’t even there. Good thing that it was so dark out that no one else could’ve seen me jump at a shadow!

I thought of the song by Misty Edwards called “Only A Shadow” in which she sings;

“Though I walk through the valley, it's only a shadow, it's only a shadow! Though my body may perish, it's only a shadow, it's only a shadow!”

The song is a good reminder that when we go through life and are startled by the darkness of life, they are only shadows; not what is REALLY happening; or at least not the FULL picture.

This life isn’t all that it seems. There is so much more out there than meets the eye. And so, we can take comfort in knowing that we have a loving God who has revealed Himself through Jesus Christ as the “Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep” (See John chapter 10).

King David wrote in Psalm 23 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4 NKJV)

We can take comfort that whatever happens to us, the Lord will be faithful to bring us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9)



Nov 14, 2013

The New Battery

Early on in our marriage, I went to start our car only to discover that the battery was dead. The temperatures were subzero and it was not a good day to work on a car outside. I lifted up the hood of the car and jiggled the wires hoping to pull off a miracle.

When I tried a second time to start the car, the infant car seat was too close to the steering wheel so I gave it a shove and as I did, it took a chunk out of the dashboard due to the extremely cold weather. I realize that today as I write this some of you may not remember when we used to put the car seats in the front next to the driver so that they could quickly give a pacifier to the crying infant.

To say that I was upset at this new opportunity to trust God is the understatement of the year. Instead, I responded with frustration. I went outside of the car and slammed the hood shut; or I should say that I attempted to slam the hood shut. When I did, because of the cold weather, the hood springs and hinges froze and the hood folded in half leaving a huge crease in the top of the hood in my otherwise mint-condition car.

I remember that my next action step was to go inside the house and “share” (rant) what was wrong with the car to Cathy. Her response was for me to go to the auto store and purchase a new battery. I reacted to her answer with sarcasm and cynicism; ranting that “OK, I’ll purchase the new battery with a check because you believe that somehow God will provide the funds so that the check won’t bounce! But, how will I get to the store since the car won’t start?”

Just as I finished spouting my lack of faith, the doorbell rang. It was Sue, a friend of ours from church. “I noticed that your hood was up on your car and stopped to see if you needed a ride on this cold day”; she said wondering what she had just walked into.

I, in great faith, explained our situation and sarcastically explained that we were going to trust God for provision!”

“Take my car”; she said to us, “And go get the battery; I’ll sit here and drink tea with Cathy and the baby.”

I drove her car to the auto store, grumbling under my breath and purchased a new battery still wondering how we would come up with the funds to cover the check I had just written for just under forty dollars.

I wish that I could have been a man of faith so that my part in this story would have been much better to tell. But, throughout so many of the times when the Lord provided in our lives He was the one who responded faithfully; I, oftentimes was learning to trust Him as we went through the struggle.

I arrived home and in the extreme cold removed and replaced the battery. I got into the car and turned the ignition key. The car started up the first time with no hesitation. To cool off before I went into the house, I spent some time bending the hood back into place so that the hood could close. The chunk in the dashboard would have to be another time.

I went inside the house we were renting and thanked Sue for the use of her car and went to see if the mail had arrived yet. In the mail there was a check for forty-four dollars and forty four cents from an insurance company. I called the company to see why they sent me the check. It was from an insurance claim that I had made a few years earlier due to a work-related injury. The insurance company explained that they had not paid me what I was entitled to and the check was the remaining balance on the claim.

Because of the strange amount, I noticed that the check not only covered the cost of the new battery (just under forty dollars), but also the tithe on the check (around four dollars). God had provided for us; He had covered the check with extra money!

Now, I realize that the check had been in the mail for a few days and didn’t miraculously come from the insurance company just as the Lord heard my faithless prayer for provision.

But for me, if I couldn’t see His provision in this situation, I would be hard pressed to believe Him for larger items like (many) new vehicles, appliances, remodeling, employment, additional children (and grandchildren!), and a new house.

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:31-34 NKJV)

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.



Nov 7, 2013

Why do I blog?

I’ve asked myself that question from time to time. I mean, I already use FaceBook for sharing my private life and have another page for the ministry as well as a website; so I really don’t need another outlet. And, practically, I’m not getting paid; so why do I blog?

Is it a narcissistic need to have exposure and communicate every thought and rant that I have? Am I trying to build my legacy so that I will be remembered long after I die? Or, perhaps, there is a different reason…

It started awhile back when I realized that not all of the stories of how the Lord has worked in our lives were written down. My concern was that I would forget the stories and more importantly forget the Lord; the One who has been so faithfully providing and directing our lives. (See Deuteronomy chapter 8)

This past year, Cathy and I were having a conversation with our son Joshua. He and his wife Jen were starting the process of considering purchasing a house. They had been married for a couple of years, graduated from college, and both were working fulltime. As we listened to him as he shared the pros and cons of their thoughts, we shared some testimony as to the Lord’s faithfulness to us over the years; especially the house.

Part way through the conversation Cathy looked at me and had an epiphany; Joshua was not yet born when we purchased our home. We had never told him the story of the house. We also realized we had also not shared the stories of multiple times the Lord had provided items for us over the years.

The stories in my blog took place and are factual. In no way am I trying to embellish them. If details have been omitted or altered it probably has more to do with the length of time that has transpired between the provision and today as I sit and write this blog.

So, my blog is written as a testimony of the Lord’s provision in our lives. I, the author, testify of these things, and wrote these things; and I want you to know that my testimony is true.

It is my sincere hope that it inspires the readers to trust the Lord for all of your resources; to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness in faith knowing that all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)  And that you too come to believe that “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19



Oct 31, 2013

You Don't Scare Me

Do you like things that bring fear? Are you easily frightened? Does the thought of things that go bump in the night cause you to hide under your covers? Are you scared by the unknown? Are you afraid of being afraid? Isn’t this what Halloween is all about; doing things that elevate our fears?

Simply put, I don’t like to put myself into situations that produce fear and that includes fear-filled movies, roller coasters or barrel rolls in airplanes. And, as a dad, I made it a point to not intentionally put fear in my children. I wanted them to not be afraid of what may or may not be ‘out there’.

It’s probably why I don’t celebrate Halloween. For me, there is enough ‘horror’ in this life that I don’t need or want to celebrate it. Just watching the average newscast you will find way too much that is overwhelming and painful or frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting and full of fear. No thanks, I’ve had enough and I don’t want to celebrate being afraid.

As a Christian, I’ve come to trust that either the Lord is in control or else He is not; period. So, I don’t allow fear to fill me with what might happen; especially for things that I can’t control like falling down or that an airplane could crash or that I might eat meat that is too rare or having a lightning bolt give me a lethal shock or dying…they don’t scare me!
I also would say that I don’t tend to back down from things that go bump in the night. Yes, I have a ‘healthy fear’ that prevents me from doing stupid things; but I don’t run away. This goes back to the days of my youth when I was told by an older neighbor kid to ‘hit the biggest kid on the other side and take his legs out’. The bigger they were the more I pressed in to taking them out! This was true for football as well as hockey.

My friends, we don’t need to be scared! We can believe the Word of God which tells us over and over again; “Don’t be afraid” and “Do not be terrified or dismayed.  Why? Because “the Lord your God is with you…”

The Apostle John wrote it in the Bible;

 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

I love how the Apostle Paul wrote it in the Bible;

“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians15:54-58 NKJV)

Today, this day, step out of the dredges of fear and what may happen. Celebrate life, not death. Stop letting things scare you and start enjoying what IS. Learn to trust in the Lord who is able to keep you from falling and deliver you from death.

 “For You have delivered my soul from deathHave You not kept my feet from falling, that I may walk before God In the light of the living? (Psalm 56:13 NKJV)

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


Oct 24, 2013

At least the rugs are cleaned and house smells fresh

An early morning phone call yesterday had diverted me away from my normal routine and so I was somewhat behind in what I had planned to accomplish; including taking a shower. I skipped ahead on my list of things to do and decided that I would take a shower a bit later in the morning.

When I went down the basement stairs to take a shower, my nose picked up a strong “fresh” scent. My first thought was that Cathy must have installed a new Glade® PlugIns® Scented Oil refill in the Family Room. When I looked at the Glade® warmer, I noticed that it was in fact in need of a new refill. “Where was the smell coming from?” I wondered to myself.

Actually, I asked the question out loud but I thought that if I had mentioned it you would have questioned my sanity…

I went into the laundry room next door and was a bit surprised to discover where this now intoxicating scent was coming from. The 2¾ gallon container of liquid laundry detergent that is normally on shelf next to the washing machine was now lying on the bath mat just outside of the shower; perhaps trying to clean itself up!

My deduction is that at some point between when Cathy took her shower at five thirty in the morning and when I was about to take mine at ten o’clock, not only did the large bottle take a jump off the shelf, but it also proceeded to break off the cap and spilled approximately 1½ gallons of gooey, sticky laundry detergent on the carpeting.

Makes me wonder what had happened after she left the room.

I grabbed some old bath towels and began the process of sopping up the liquid detergent; which included repeatedly rinsing the soapy towels in a large bucket of clean water as I kneeled in the liquid goo; spending at least a half hour at this task. I then threw the towels into the washing machine (without detergent I might add), and stepped into the shower.
What I hadn’t expected was my feet slipping as I stepped into the shower; feet that had a film of liquid soap on them. All my ice skating reflexes from playing hockey kicked in and I was able to catch myself before I took a dive. 

After I took my shower, I went up to the third floor closet and grabbed a couple of box fans to bring down to the basement to plug them in to try to dry off the now wet carpet.

Having personally cleaned up so many different messes that were solids, liquids, and other unmentionables over the years, I saw this mess as a mere inconvenience to my schedule that was already way behind.

What helped me with this perspective is realizing that as bad as I have it, there is always someone who has it worse. In fact, earlier in the morning, I had read that International Justice Mission News reported that thirty five (35) enslaved girls (ages 14 to 18 yrs) were rescued from slavery in a thread-making factory in India.

I really didn’t have anything to complain about. It really was a matter of perspective. At least the rugs are cleaned and house smells fresh!

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul writes on this subject of thinking of things that are good, not focusing on the bad. He wrote to the Church in Philippi:
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NKJV)

I’m not sure where you are at when you are reading this, but it is my sincere hope that you will stop and count your blessings as you too try to clean up a mess in your life. Give it to God and let Him work things together for good (see Romans 8:28).

When you turn to Him, you will find His mercy fresh and new waiting for you. Great is His faithfulness; in that we can place our hope!

Are you ready to get your mess cleaned up? Have you tried to clean up your life with no success? Are you tired of trying to do it your way? Call 1-888-NEED –HIM; someone is waiting to talk with you.

New King James Version (NKJV)  The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.



Oct 17, 2013

Please Hurry Back

The phone rang just before dinner. Cathy answered it and said; “Did you want to talk with grandpa? Here he is…” and then quickly handed the phone to me. On the other end was my granddaughter Fallon; her voice sounded sad.

“I miss you grandpa…”; she said sniffing back her tears as my heart sank. We spoke a bit about what she did and what she was going to have for supper. The phone reminded me of when my own children were young and would call me at work.

After a short while Fallon handed the phone back to her mom (my daughter Elizabeth) who explained that all day Fallon had said that she had missed Cathy and I and wanted to talk to me.

Cathy and I had told Fallon and Gavin that we would be gone when they woke up and that soon we would be see them again. But, comforting words only last a short while when you are separated from someone you love and long to be with.

The night before Cathy and I had babysat Fallon and her brother Gavin and we had left their house when the parents came home after Fallon and Gavin had fallen asleep. When they awoke the next morning and we were gone, Fallon became sad because she missed us.

Simply put, Fallon, as much as she loved her family, wanted the next time that we got together to be now and not some distant time in the future (even if it would be in a week). For her she didn’t want to have to be kept waiting too long until we were once again together.

The sadness Fallon felt at our separation is something that Jesus knew that His disciples would feel after He departed this earth until He comes back once again. During the “Last Supper” He said; I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3 NKJV)

Jesus told them that He would be gone for a short while and that soon they would see Him again. But, comforting words only last a short while when you are separated from someone you love and long to be with. And His disciples were troubled in their hearts.

As much as I love to spend time with my children, grandchildren, Cathy, and many friends (some whom I’ve yet to meet!), there is still a longing in my heart for the Day when Jesus returns. The day when the injustice in this world comes to an end the scales are balanced.

In the meantime, like Fallon, I let Jesus know that I’d like Him to hurry back because I miss Him; especially because I can’t see Him. And I tell Him:
“I've made up my mind to wait for You now, I don't know the time, don't know the place. But when I say Please don't keep us waiting too long; we’ve no lasting city this side of Heaven. Please don't keep us waiting too long, cause things aren't looking to pretty this side of Heaven….” (From “This Side of Heaven” by Phil Keaggy)