Aug 30, 2018

I Think I Love You!

It was August 22, 1970 something and was listening to my transistor radio.  

I had been using some old bed mattresses that I had found as a trampoline at an apartment complex down the road from our house.

A new song came on the radio and I was at once moved to the words that came out of that mega two-inch speaker secured to the side of my head by my right hand as I jumped in the air.
This morning I woke up with this feeling
I didn't know how to deal with and so I just decided to myself
I'd hide it to myself and never talk about it
And did not go and shout it when you walked into the room
I think I love you (I think I love you)

The song was sappy and yet took its place among one of the greatest love songs of my day; or at least of this eleven-year-old boy.

The song went on:
I was sleeping and right in the middle of a good dream
Like all at once I wake up
From something that keeps knocking at my brain
Before I go insane I hold my pillow to my head
And spring up in my bed screaming out the words I dread
I think I love you (I think I love you)

I think I love you so what am I so afraid of
I'm afraid that I'm not sure of a love there is no cure for

The song was filled with intrigue and mystery; who was he afraid of?

Why was he reluctant to press into this relationship?

Why was he afraid to say that he loved someone?

Who was this group that sang words with such eloquence and perfection?

In a very short time I came to understand that this song; “I Think I Love You”, was written by Tony Romeo was being performed by “The Partridge Family”.

The lead singer was teenage heart throb David Cassidy.

Daily, hour-by-hour I would wait to listen for the song on my transistor radio and sing along with David as he spoke as only he could!

And I wanted to look like him, dress like him, have hair like him, and get the girls like he did.

He taught me about love and drew me into his school for lonely hearts who were trying to get love.
I think I love you isn't that what life is made of
Though it worries me to say I never felt this way

He knew when to say the “L-word” and when not to say it.

He was in love, but not all in.
Believe me you really don't have to worry
I only wanna make you happy and if you say "hey go away" I will

He was my new hero! At least for the time being….

That is until I met another.

He too taught me about love. He too became my Hero. I wanted to be like Him. His name is Jesus Christ.

Daily, hour-by-hour I would wait to listen for Him as He spoke through His Word as only He could!

And I wanted to look like Him, dress like Him, have hair like Him, and get the girls He wanted me to be with.

He taught me about love and drew me into His school for lonely hearts who were trying to get love.

However, I found out that I had some ideology taught to me by David Cassidy that I had to un-learn.

I was reluctant to open my heart up; I was afraid to be really loved.
I don't know what I'm up against
I don't know what it's all about
I got so much to think about

But He wanted me to use the “L-word” EVERYTIME that I was with Him.

He wanted me to be ALL the way in!

In fear, I called to Him:
Hey, I think I love You so what am I so afraid of
I'm afraid that I'm not sure of a love there is no cure for
I think I love you isn't that what life is made of
Though it worries me to say I never felt this way

I had never been loved so much by anyone and His love was unconditional.

His Word told me that He loved me while I was yet a sinner; BEFORE I even knew Him!

His Word told me that He would never leave or forsake me.

So, I cried out me ponderings to Him:
Do you think I have a case let me ask You to Your face
Do you think You love me?

And His answer to me was an overwhelming:
I think I love you
I think I love you
I think I love you
I think I love you
I think I love you
I think I love you

And my answer to Him was an overwhelming:

I think I love You

Aug 23, 2018

An Open Letter to My Canadian Friends

Oh Canada!

I love you, but I don’t understand why you are pushing me away.

I have supported you and openly received the great gift of hockey that you gave to the USA (and the world). It was the greatest gift that any country could give another; and I have played the game for fifty years!

I have stood up and proudly sung your national anthem at every game that a team from Canada was playing in. I even made plans to move to your country if I would have been drafted in the mid-seventies.

I have shed tears each year when a team from Canada wasn’t playing in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Canada, I love you, but I don’t understand why you are pushing me away.

I realize that you Canadians didn’t take lightly President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum; especially when he labeled your country ‘a national security threat’.

And, because you are a kind and loving people, I want you to know that it is ok to be insulted by his comments.

Canadians aren’t only polite; they’re incredibly humble too, and reluctant to take credit for even plainly heroic acts.

I, too, was taken aback by his comments and wondered if he forgot that your and daughters fought alongside the boys and girls from the USA in Afghanistan?

But, why are you pushing me away?

I have even defended and revered the outlandish suits worn by Don Cherry and have helped my fellow countrymen to honor him as a revered hero of your country.

I consider it a true honor to have been able to walk the same continent as Mr. Cherry; something that I will always cherish (pun intended).

I raised my children to drink maple syrup out of the bottle and to shop at Tim Horton’s.

Before they left home, I taught each of them to spell “Canada” without using flashcards….C-eh-N-eh-D-eh

I even taught my children English so that they would be able to talk with people from the Great North and told them that it was ok to take money from your country…

I even supported people who threatened to move to your country if Trump was elected. I told them that you would greet them with open arms.

So why Canada, why? Why are you sending me signals that you don’t love me anymore?

Why Canada, why did you have to send the thick clouds that are blocking our sun? What did I ever do to you?

The thick haze caused by smoke from more than 100 Canadian wildfires is causing unhealthy air quality conditions across a large part of Minnesota.

And we need our sun, without it we will become like the Eastern section of the USA and think up bad thoughts about Canada.

Minnesotans with lung or heart disease, older adults, children, and people participating in activities that require heavy or extended exertion may experience adverse health effects. This includes physical activity like playing sports or working outdoors.

This past weekend I coughed, and I am still coughing today because of your smoke. It’s enough to make me get upset and to….

Oh Canada, I don’t mean to have blown my top and gotten so harsh with you; you don’t deserve that.

I’m sorry (I learned that word from your country, since you Canadians say it so very, very often).

Everyone knows that Canadians are without any doubt one of the nicest populations on earth; maybe are too nice for this bad, bad world. 

You know that I love you… Of all of the adjectives that I could use, “nice” suits you best! Canada is to niceness as Saudi Arabia is to oil.

So, I ask you to please send a wind from up north to blow the smoke away so once again Minnesota can be clean like Canada and people can once again go outside and practice being nice.

The world, I think, would be a better place if we were all a bit more Canadian.

Aug 16, 2018

Like Giving Medicine to A Cat…

I’m sitting at home one night; mindlessly watching TV with Cathy when a commercial comes on for a product that will cure some ailment for a cat.

They show the human and she is happy. They show the cat and it too is happy. They show the family and everyone is happy.

As the saying goes; “Happy cat, happy homelife” or something like that.

The commercial is so moving that I stand on my feet because I, too, want this kind of rich and abundant life, and I reach for my car keys and my wallet.

And then reason prevails and I think of at least three reasons why I shouldn’t pick up this product…

Number One: The side effects are devastating for the cat. They include depression, difficulty with swallowing, vomiting, and diarrhea.

“Yeah, that’s what I want”; I say to Cathy. “A cat who is now depressed, because it can’t swallow and is projecting fluids from both of its major orifices!” I sit back down on couch, trying to get that image out of my head.

The second reason why I shouldn’t pick up this product is; “Have you ever tried to give medicine to a cat?!”

I don’t care how happy the humans and the cat are, it is very apparent that whoever wrote this commercial clearly has never tried to give medicine to a cat!

Simply put, you don’t! Take it from one who has tried you can’t; period.

When I was a young lad, my family tried to hide the medicine in our cat’s food. The cat showed us what’s what and ate every morsel of food as it pushed aside the medicine we had cleverly hidden inside of the food dish.

None of us felt safe to go to sleep after the cat gave us the; “Don’t ever try that again” look and hissed at us.

When my children were young, Cathy and I tried giving medicine to one of their cats.

I told Cathy to bypass the ‘hiding-it-in-the-food’ trick because experience taught us to not even go there…

So, we tried the ‘take-two-people-to give-it -to-the-cat’ approach. That is where two people (usually the parents) are needed because one holds the cat’s mouth open as the other shoves (or attempts to shove) the medicine down it’s throat.

It’s kind of a good-cop, bad-cop trick that never really works.

We thought that by one of us speaking lovingly to the cat while prying open the mouth, somehow the cat would trust us as the other person shoved the medicine down the throat. After all, we were trying to help the cat get better; we were doing something for the good of the cat.
This, too, ends up with the cat hissing as it gave us the; “Don’t ever try that again” look.

It also includes many memories burned into my children’s cerebral cortex as they watched in horror as their beloved cat resisted our attempts to heal it by yowling to the point of being ridiculous; memories that therapists would later refer to as “billable hours” as they attempted to help us get those images out of all of our heads. 

Oh, and third reason why I shouldn’t pick up this product is, I don’t own a cat or any pet for that matter….

I changed the channel on the tv and then, in true pondering fashion, I thought of God and how I act towards Him as He attempts to do something for my own good.

How I push away all that He does for my good.

How I yowl and resist and work hard to not take what God has “put in my food dish” that will help me.

How I think that at times He can seem to me to be overbearing and too demanding as I hiss at Him as I give the; “Don’t ever try that again” look.

But the truth is that everything He does is for my good; after all, I am made in His image and (as a Christian) bear His Name.

The truth is that He owns me; I belong to Him.

He doesn’t want to shove anything down my throat. He wants is asking me to stop resisting Him and stop struggling and to take the medicine.

He says to me; “…open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:10).

“So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him so that He can show you His love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for His help.” (Isaiah 30:18)

Aug 9, 2018

Forgetting the Flesh

I have had a verse from the Bible “stuck” in my head for the past several months. I have been pondering its meaning as I let the words sift through my heart.

The passage is from 2 Corinthians 5:16 where the Apostle Paul wrote;
 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.” (NKJV)

Sounds simple and yet it can be a tall order to no longer regard or judge or evaluate others from a human point of view.

In fact, I would submit it is very hard to do and it is one of the reasons that people never can seem to get a break from their past. We continue to judge people based upon who they were or what they did in the past; no matter how much they have changed.

Society has a difficulty with this. We reason that if a person did something illegally in the past, they are destined to repeat it. “Once a thief, always a thief”.

We have difficulty with this for ourselves. I state emphatically that we are harder on ourselves than others are on us. We are more gracious for others than we are for ourselves. We can’t seem to get a break because we won’t give ourselves a break and let our past go.

Why? Because we continue to see ourselves and others as the same person as the last time we saw them. This is true for friends, coworkers, family and especially the person we see every morning in the bathroom mirror.
Simply put, we have a hard time not seeing the flesh.

This hit home to me recently when Cathy and I went to visit a relative who was in hospice dying. When we walked into his room to see him, Cathy and I couldn’t recognize him. He was dying as his system was shutting down and he no longer looked like the man that I had known since (around) 1972.

Gone was his laughter and the twinkle in his eye. Gone was the smile and quick wittedness that was a hallmark of him all these years.

In fact, we thought at first that we were in the wrong room and double checked the room number because he looked so different.

Inside of his room we were greeted by his sister and brother (who I haven’t seen in almost forty years). They looked the same as my mind looked beyond the marks of time that were etched in their skin. The more I looked at them in the flesh, the more they looked as they hadn’t changed a bit.

His sister said to us; “You two look familiar…” When we told her who we were, she too once again knew us in the flesh.

We commented on how we didn’t recognize him; they agreed as my eyes quickly scanned the photos in the room looking for his familiar face.

I no longer knew him in the flesh; which is a reality that oftentimes hits us at someone’s funeral when the spirit has left their flesh.

So how do we know longer see someone in the flesh while they are here on the earth?

First of all, we need to see with God’s eyes because it takes His eyes (through the Holy Spirit) to see beyond someone else’s flesh…or our own.

Man tends to see with natural eyes and so therefore continues to regard or judge or evaluate others from a human point of view. God does not.

When picking out a king, God told the prophet Samuel;
“Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
 (1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV)

Secondly, we need the Holy Spirit to know what is going on in a person’s heart or spirit; not the wisdom of the world:
 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.” (1 Corinthians 2:11-12 NLT)

Thirdly, we need the Holy Spirit to believe with eyes of faith that this person who is now in Christ (and that includes us), is not the same person because they are a new creation.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV) 

Why is this so important? Because our Heavenly Father has an assignment for us all who know Him. He has given us a word that He wants to speak to others through us because are His ambassadors and He is pleading to those who don’t know Him.
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 NKJV) 

He wants to use each of us and doesn’t want us to limit what He can do by continuing to see each other and ourselves in the flesh.

How? By receiving the gift of salvation given for all who will ask:
“He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” (2 Corinthians 5:15 NLT)

How can we be sure?
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:15 NKJV)

So, let’s let go; let’s forget the flesh as we launch out into what God has for each of us today! In Jesus Name; Amen!

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 The Message (MSG)

Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!

All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing.
 We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”

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

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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

Aug 2, 2018

Tumultuous Tomato

I love all types of tomatoes; especially ones that are vine-ripened.  And this is the time of the year when they can be picked and eaten right off the vine.

But, since I live in Minnesota and I don’t have a greenhouse, all winter I settle for eating pink tomatoes that were harvested and shipped before they could come to full maturity.

As I eat them, I dream of summer when I can go into my garden and pick one at the fullest possible time of maturity; ripened to perfection!

This year is no exception…

Day after day I have been watching for the first red tomato of the season, eagerly and patiently anticipating the day when it would be introduced to my taste buds.

I should also add that this year I removed our six-foot high barrier fence because it blocked the sun from fully reaching our garden…
And I built a new much shorter picket fence in its place so that neighbors would have an easier time picking our abundant raspberries - that we can’t possibly use all for ourselves. Year after year we get so many that even with freezing we still don’t have enough room to store them.

This year was no exception and because we would be on the road for much of July, we decided to invite all of our neighbors to partake so that none of the raspberries would be wasted. The same went for any of the other fruits and vegetables that were in our garden.

One of the days that we were home (in between our many road trips), I noticed that one of the tomatoes was starting to ripen. I was hoping that it would come to maturity the next time that we were home.

The next time I came home from our travels, I heard from many neighbors and friends who thanked us for the raspberries; confessing they had come multiple times and each time hauled away a “boat load”.

I also noticed that the tomato was almost perfect. I would give it a few more days so that it would be perfectly ripe. My mouth waited in eagerness for this day of bliss that was coming!
The next morning, I noticed that the tomato was missing. My immediate thought was; “Who would take my tomato without asking me?” (now that I was home). I used my placid facade to conceal the tumult of my mind.

Just as quickly as the tumultuous emotions tried to come up, they were replaced by thoughts of my own stinginess. After all, I had invited neighbors to take whatever they wanted; I should be glad that I had something to give.

Believe it or not, over the next two days whenever I went into the garden to pick raspberries, I would look at the tomato plant and wonder who took it?

And, just as quickly as the tumultuous emotions tried to come up, they were quickly replaced by words of scripture:

“You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (James 1:19b) 

“Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23) 

 Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.” (Proverbs 22:9)

“…but the godly are generous givers.” (Psalm 37:21b)

Today when I went into the garden to pick raspberries and I looked at the tomato plant, my eye saw something red. No, not me but a tomato. But it wasn’t in the garden. It was laying beneath a tree and about one forth of it was eaten…

A squirrel had taken it; not a person; I had been wrong...I realized that it was a good thing that I hadn’t allowed my mind to “take someone to court” over a tomato.

I almost took an offense and got mad at “someone” over a missing piece of fruit! Thank God for His grace!

 “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.” (Proverbs 13:3)

Reflecting, I find it amazing how stingy I (we) can be over something like that. Who cares if it had been a person and not a squirrel who took it; that is what it was there for!

It also shows just how much I (we) don’t trust God for His provision. The Apostle Paul wrote;

 “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say,
“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
    Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” (2 Cor 9:8-9)

May God change our hearts and open our hands of anything that we would hold back from one who needs something.

All Scripture if from New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.