Aug 29, 2013

Wait Lifting

I have been lifting weights in a gym for MANY years. Lifting weights helps build lean muscle mass, helps melt visceral fat and fat that surrounds the organs, has been shown to stimulate the nervous-system functioning, helps ward off age-related illnesses and helps slow down the effects of aging. And my wife likes how I look!

The thing is I don’t always like to go through the process of what it takes to get results; most days I do, but some days I don’t. Weight lifting requires strength that some days I don’t seem to have. Alternating exercises for different muscle groups can leave my body fatigued the next day that I lift. And, to get the most out of the lift, focus must be maintained on the particular muscle group that I am working.

I have to wait when I lift weights so that I get the full effect. In other words I can't rush through the process of one rep at a time; one set at a time, one muscle group at a time.

I’ve been doing another type of weight lifting lately; I have been “wait” lifting. I have been pursuing employment to supplement our income; while at the same time being open to continuing to be solely donor based. And, for what it is worth, since River of Hope Ministries started back in the nineties we have NEVER been in debt; NEVER have we missed paying a bill; praise the Lord!

I have plenty of work and ministry opportunities to do, that’s not the problem. Simply put, I can’t see how the Lord is going to provide financially for us. Not IF, but how.

Practically, I have filled out a lot of applications, sent in resumes for jobs from drafting, project management, stocking shelves, ministry, and construction over several months with no success. The process has been a bit trying on my emotions and confidence as I continue to do another rep to keep doing what I can do and once again fill out another form.

The funny part is that I am sitting writing this in the very house that exactly 28 years ago I couldn’t see how we could ever get. 28 years ago I was unemployed, had no money, no credit rating (due to paying cash for everything so that we had no debt), and had only two weeks to leave our current house and find a new one.

I told my father-in-law at that time that I felt as though God had let us down. He, in response, told me that he couldn’t wait to hear our testimony that we would have in two weeks. And, one week to that day, we had keys in our hands to a three-story house given to us by a realtor who was also wondering the events that had transpired during the past seven days that had made the purchase even possible.

Eighteen years ago we saw the Lord provide miraculously as well when we needed money for the balloon payment. And, twenty eight years later, I can testify that we have never missed a payment for anything to do with the house including payment, utilities, taxes, furniture, multiple appliances, upkeep (including exterior items like roof, windows, painting, gutters, soffit/fascia, landscaping, etc.); as well as all that it takes to provide for six children, two adults, and all who have lived in this house.

NEVER have we missed paying a bill; praise the Lord!  
So here I sit, sitting with my face in the strong prevailing winds, doing another rep, as I await His answer and the subsequent testimony of His provision because scripture tells me that my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (See Philippians 4:19) as He provides “seed for supplies seed to the sowing, and bread for food. (See 1 Corinthians 9:10) 
As Isaiah 7:9b tells us:
 "If you will not believe, surely you shall not be established." (NKJV)
 “If you don’t take your stand in faith, you won’t have a leg to stand on” (MSG)
 “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (NIV)
Stay tuned for His answer as I continue with my “wait” lifting!
 To Those Who Wait by Bethany Dillon


Aug 22, 2013


This past weekend I was at the wedding reception of some friends from church enjoying the bountiful foods of the Congo. The DJ used his microphone to call Cathy and I to join the wedding party and the other pastors to dance with the newly married couple. For the record I should state that although I may be swift on my feet when I wear hockey skates, I didn’t inherit my parents’ ability to dance!

I thought that Cathy would say “No” and that would be our ticket out. But she didn’t because she knew that we would do more “damage” by not dancing than to attempt to do so and look bad. Myself, I didn’t want to come across undignified.

I listened to my wife and joined the others; I ‘made a fool of myself’ and had a good time. It’s funny that I thought I would be undignified because joining us in the dance was a man from the Congo who was a politician and served his government in the capacity of the ‘Speaker of The House’   

I thought of 2 Samuel chapter 6 in which a man took another path when his wife DIDN’T want her husband to dance because culturally it was “wrong” to do so.

The Bible records; David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet” (v.14-16 NKJV).

They had the Ark of God and were returning it as required by the Lord and to the place that it was supposed to be. And David danced with all of his might wearing only a linen ephod, a robe characteristically used by ordinary priests; not kings or dignitaries. The Hebrew words for denude imply that he was stripped of his other clothes; especially anything that made him look important or regal.

Verse 16 records; Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart”.

His wife thought that he was appearing as foolish and unseemly; lacking in dignity likeone of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself” (v. 20 NKJV).

Eugene Peterson translates verse 20 as; “David returned home to bless his family. Michal, Saul’s daughter, came out to greet him: “How wonderfully the king has distinguished himself today—exposing himself to the eyes of the servants’ maids like some burlesque street dancer!” (v. 20 MSG)

I love David’s response to his wife Michal; “It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight.” (v. 21-22)

How about you? Do you set limits on how much you go for it concerning showing your love for the Lord? Are you concerned about whether or not passionate worship will make you come across as undignified? I would suggest that you join the rest of us who are learning to let it all go and give Him all you got as you worship Him. He is worthy of all praise!


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

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Aug 15, 2013

Every Season

Fall arrived in Minnesota on Wednesday morning; did you feel it? There was a coolness in the air at 55 degrees when I work up and I wondered; ‘what happened to summer?’

What happened to the “dog days of summer”; those days that last thru August, those days which typically observe the warmest summer temperatures? It seemed as though we went right from hot to cold in one week!

I realized that Cathy and I hadn’t been to the family cabin since the seventh of July and soon the nights would be too cold to warm up the lake enough to swim in!

As I laid in bed pondering what else I had not been able to get into my summer schedule, a verse from the Bible came to mind that reminded me that everything has its time; “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” meaning that there is:  
                      A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
                      A right time to kill and another to heal,
                      A right time to destroy and another to construct,
                      A right time to cry and another to laugh,
                      A right time to lament and another to cheer,
                      A right time to make love and another to abstain,
                      A right time to embrace and another to part,
                      A right time to search and another to count your losses,
                      A right time to hold on and another to let go,
                      A right time to rip out and another to mend,
                      A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
                      A right time to love and another to hate,
                      A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

                                                                    (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 MSG)
That means everything has it’s season, including summer (and friends, and jobs, and houses, etc...)
Soon students will be back in school and stands will be filled on Friday night for football games; as well as on Saturdays (college) and Sundays (pro). In a very short while the mornings will be much colder and the leaves will start to change.
And, dare I say it; we will no longer need to cut the grass because it will be covered with snow. Ok, I’ll stop; the temperatures will still get up to the upper seventies this week and eighties by the weekend and nineties by next week so my rambling on this point may be somewhat premature!
But how do you handle the changes when they come; in all areas of your life, not just the weather? Do you spend the first portion living in regret for what is passing away?
A new season is coming ready or not. How will you respond to God’s invitation to take off and enjoy the new season in your life? Will you respond with excuses and complaints like you have all your life….
Or will you respond with admitting that something needed to change in your life and step out with your eyes fresh upon Him as you wait with joyful anticipation what is around the corner?
"DIVE IN"; I say, and embrace the new season that has arrived! There is something new that is on the horizon! New adventures, new delights, new possibilities! And yes, even new problems and challenges that will drive us either further into our ‘pouting’ or closer to God as we anticipate His provision during this new season.
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.” (Daniel 2:20-21 NKJV)
New King James Version (NKJV)  The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson





Aug 8, 2013

God Does Care

Years ago I attended the memorial service of the wife of a friend/co-laborer in ministry. She died at a young age after a heroic battle with cancer. She fought the good fight; we saw (and the doctors) tumors shrink, life extended; and yet she died.

And, to this day, I still don’t know why. In fact, both life and death are hard subjects to wrap our minds around. No matter who we read or talk to, we ALL still can have questions that are not answered. And so, if we want to get off the treadmill of “why?” we have to look elsewhere for answers.

I came across the following recently when sorting through some old papers. It is written by a man named Bob Benson in his book "See You At The House"

"When life caves in, you do not need reasons, you need comfort. You do not need some answers, you need someone. And Jesus does not come to us with an explanation; He comes to us with His presence.

We are always seeking the reason. We want to know why. Like Job, we finally want God to just tell us what is going on...

But God does not reveal His plan, He reveals Himself. He comes to us as warmth when we are cold, fellowship when we are alone, strength when we are weak, peace when we are troubled, courage when we are afraid, songs when we are sad, and bread when we are hungry.

He is with us on our journeys. He is there when we are home. He sits with us at our table. He knows about funerals and weddings and commencements and hospitals and laughter and rest and tears. He knows because He is with us. He comes to us again and again.”
(copyright 1989 by Generoux Nelson, a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

My friend; I’m not sure what is going on in your life today or how you happen to come across this writing. But I want you to know that in your quest to find answers it is my sincere hope that you come to know the One who has all the answers.

Today, He is waiting with arms wide open waiting to show Himself to you. Call out to Him, won’t you? It doesn’t matter where you have been or what you have done; He wants to be with you. The rest, any mess that you have made or found yourself in, He will take care of because He does care.

 The Bible tells us:

“It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”

Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.” (Romans 10:8-13 MSG)

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Aug 1, 2013

Spanking the Neighbor Kid

“You need to go home now Tom”. It was ninth grade and I was sitting in a neighbor’s house; the home of my best friend. It was his dad who gave me the directive. Standing next to my best friend’s dad were two police officers. I figured that I best leave before things escalated. My friend had just confessed to a crime.

My friend and I had been outside throwing snowballs at the passing cars when he got the bright idea to put rocks inside of the snowballs. I guess that he hadn’t quite calculated that that adding a rock had the potential of going through glass when he hurled it at the school bus. For this we were in trouble.

And, for some reason, the police didn’t seem to believe us when we said it wasn’t us and proceeded to give our eyewitness account of two boys fleeing the scene who, amazingly, looked almost exactly like us (except for the details we changed to throw them off). They responded to our story by offering to give us a polygraph to confirm our story and gave us some time alone to get our stories straight.

My friend thought it was best to confess when I told him that although we may have been good at lying, in this case the lie-detector machine would seal our fate. So he confessed and I was told to go home. He was punished, I was not.

Discipline can be confusing; especially when there is inconsistency with who gets it and what is given out. One seems to be the focus, while another seems to get off with no discipline. My neighbor knew that because I wasn’t his son, he couldn’t “spank” me.

When we think of discipline, we think of training to act in accordance with rules. We also think of punishment inflicted by way of correction and training. Often times discipline is seen as angry and violent and devoid of love.

And yet the Bible tells us that it is out of love that we are disciplined; in fact it proves that we have a Father: 
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)


In other words, "God doesn't spank the neighbor's kids, just those who are His own children":

 “… And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (“Hebrews 12:5-11)

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:20 that “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more”. He is simply giving those who are not His children a chance to be moved by His grace and to turn to Him, confess their sins, and allow Him to be their Heavenly Father.

So, when you see people in this world seeming getting away with something when you get disciplined for things far less; don’t get upset. God, as a good Father, He doesn’t spank the neighbor’s kids; He only disciples those who are His own kids.
And that is a good thing!

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