Apr 25, 2019

"Buried Halfway Up My Hubcaps in Mud"

The plan was pretty simple: Take the day off and head to the family cabin in Wisconsin with Cathy and a load of furniture and some other items. 

I also needed to reinstall a sign that I had removed in the fall to re-carve and paint the lettering, and then apply many coats of lacquer to make it last for another twenty five years or so. Afterwards, we would go to a local restaurant to eat lunch and then head home.

Other than that we had no real agenda. We both had been working way too many hours with no end in sight and thought that this would be a good way to spend the day together.

We spent the ninety minute drive listening to an old sermon that boosted our faith. After the message was done, we discussed how the Lord had used that message in our lives (individually and as a couple) over the past thirty some years. 

We arrived at the cabin full of faith and ready to face the challenges of life. Little did we realize how quickly it would be put into action.

For some reason, the weather at the cabin always seems to be a couple of weeks behind the weather in Minnesota so it didn't surprise us to see that there was still some snow on the ground and ice on the lake.

What did surprise us was that the driveway, which appeared to be solid (like in Minnesota), was actually in process of having the frost go out of it. This was a fact that would have been nice to know a few minutes earlier...

I put the truck in reverse and started to backup into the driveway so that it would be easier to unload the truck.

As soon as the rear tires were five feet on the driveway, Cathy noticed that the tires were starting to spin a bit.

Because it was on the North side of the property, I reasoned that's it must just be ice and proceeded to continue to back up another five feet. At this point the front tires also started to spin. Cathy suggested that I go forward; I reasoned that if I continued backwards a bit further I could get a longer runway to head over the ice.

Because I am persistent, I continued to attempt to drive forward and backwards not realizing that it wasn't ice, but mud, because of frost leaving the ground. Again, this was a fact that would have been nice to know a few minutes earlier...

In record time I buried the truck up halfway up my tires in wet mud comprised of clay and sand and my attempts to drive it out only made things worse.

Cathy and I got out to assess the situation. Cathy suggested that I drive while she pushed. I showed her the mud-covered side mirrors and said that I wouldn't suggest that we try that option. 

Instead, we changed out of our shoes into the boots that we had brought just in case the soil was wet and made a scavenger trip to the surrounding cabins (and ours) to look for wood to place under the wheels; rationalizing that this was no different than getting a vehicle out of snow.

After we rounded up some materials, and placed it under the vehicle and tires, I got in and attempted to drive out. 

This only seemed to irritate the soil as it pulled us into its grip even deeper like it was made of quicksand. Bobby Goodson's team (of the Discovery Channel's "Swamp Loggers") had faced nothing of this magnitude as very quickly we were even deeper in the mud. 

Cathy recalled that her brother had also gotten his truck stuck in the exact spot one year ago. I concluded that it was time to stop and ask for help. 

I called a local towing company who came over and used their tow truck to pull us out of the mud onto the blacktop on road just ten feet away. After hooking us up, it took him less than a minute to pull the ruck out of the mud.

I thanked him as I paid the bill for his promptness and because he changed his plans to come over fairly quickly.

I looked at the truck as Cathy looked at me. She said that she appreciated that I had not gotten upset. I told her that this was our adventure and made reference to the sermon that we had listened to on the way up to the cabin.

I also said that now it looked like a real truck as together we observed our truck that was clean on the ride up and was now covered in mud that was two inches thick.

I wasn't upset in any way; I had simply misjudged the situation and deducted that the driveway was more solid than it was. I thought that I was on solid ground, not "quicksand" mud.

It made me think of what other areas of my life was I also misreading the solidness of my ground...

The old spiritual hymn professes that on Christ the solid Rock I stand, but am I truly standing on Christ and Christ ALONE? I deduced that the only way to really find out how firm my ground was is to go through the trials of life. It is then and only then that I see whether or not my anchor holds and whether or not the ground holds under the weight of life.

I am glad that in this "test" I was able to respond in faith that He would come to my rescue; that I would get out. I am grateful that once again the LORD was faithful:

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3 NLT)

I'm not sure where you are at today or how buried you are as you attempt to get yourself unstuck.

My advice to you is to simply stop and ask for help. There is One who is so very much interested in your situation and is available to help you. He WANTS to help you no matter what you did to get yourself in your current situation.

He simply wants you to acknowledge the reality of your situation and cry out to Him. And He will help you and get you once again back on solid ground.

He's waiting for you to ask Him... 

The Solid Rock by Edward Mote
1.   My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

2.   When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

3.   His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

4.   When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Apr 18, 2019

What Is The Gospel?

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received:

that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)

Apr 11, 2019

A Reminder For Days That You Forget

If my heart is overwhelmed
And I cannot hear your voice
I hold on to what is true
Though I cannot see

If the storms of life they come
And the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith
I will believe

I'll remind myself
Of all that you've done
And the life I have
Because of your son
Love came down and rescued me

Love came down and set me free
I am yours
Lord I'm forever yours
Mountains high or valley low
I sing out and remind my soul
I am yours
I am forever yours

When my heart is filled with hope
Every promise comes my way
When I feel your hands of grace
Rest upon me

Staying desperate for you, god
Staying humble at your feet
I will lift these hands in praise
I will believe

I'll remind myself
Of all that you've done
And the life I have
Because of your son

Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am yours
I am forever yours
Mountains high or valley low
I sing out and remind my soul
I am yours
I am forever yours

I am yours
I am yours
All my days
Jesus, I am yours

I am yours
I am yours
All my days
Jesus, I am yours

Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am yours
I am forever your's
Mountains high or valley low
I sing out and remind my soul
I am yours
I am forever yours

Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am yours
I am forever yours
Mountains high or valley low
I sing out and remind my soul
I am yours
I am forever yours

Yeah, I am yours, I'm yours, I am yours
Jesus I am yours

Songwriters: Brian Mark Johnson / Ian Bruce Mcintosh / Jenn Louise Johnson / Jeremy Riddle / Jeremy David Edwardson

Love Came Down lyrics © Music Services, Inc

Apr 4, 2019

I want to Get My Tongue Pierced!

We live in a culture in which tattooing, piercing, and body modification have been the rage. Rarely will you find someone who doesn’t have something from one of these three areas.

To those who are getting them, they seem like the newest thing to do. But this is not new; it has been going on for centuries. King Solomon wrote;
“That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9 NKJV

And there seems to be no area on the human body (exterior or interior) that is off limits for tattooing, piercing, and body modification.

Body modification is a completely strange concept that I have a hard time wrapping my mind around. It is the deliberate altering of the human anatomy or physical appearance. No thanks; I have enough scars and alteration on my body from surgeries that were done to repair my broken body.

My question to those who are thinking of doing this is what happens when you turn forty and no longer feel that it is appropriate to have horns coming out of your head when you walk your daughter down the aisle?

I personally have never have been interested in getting any tattoos. With my creative mind I would probably have to keep getting “one more”…

And because each week my body gets new color in the form of bruises and bumps from playing hockey and from working in my shop or helping someone with a building project, any permanent ink that I would get would compete with my newest bruise!

Also, as a pastor, I don’t want to lead anyone astray or cause them to stumble because of something that I did to my body.

At this point, I feel the need to confess that I do have one tattoo. Actually, it is graphite from a pencil that is in my arm from the time in fifth grade when someone accidentally stabbed me. Still, it is “permanent ink”.

Lately I have been pondering the idea of getting some piercing; specifically in my tongue. I think that this would actually make me a better person and pastor. It is something that I have been working on getting done.

No, I’m not talking about installing some sort of metal in my mouth. If I did, I would probably fixate on the piercing all day like I do when I get a piece of popcorn hull stuck in my teeth!

Nor am I thinking of intentionally causing my mouth to get some holes and to bleed. I seem to do that regularly enough when I accidentally bite my tongue or cheek.

What I am referring to is my speech. I have been reading devotionals in an attempt to work on how I use my words to either build up or to tear down.

The Bible says;
 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 NKJV

“Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.” Psalms 52:2 NKJV

I’m talking about doing something to stop the destruction caused by careless words, gossip, criticism, sarcasm, etc.
 “A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.” James 3:5-6 MSG

I have the option to bless or to curse:
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4 NKJV

Jesus said that I will be held accountable for whatever I speak:
“…For every idle word men speak, they will give an account of it in the day of judgment.” Matthew 12:36 NKJV

As I have been meditating on scriptures pertaining to the tongue, I realize that I have habits and patterns of speaking that don’t reflect who I really want to be; one who reflects the love of Christ to whomever I meet.

The Bible tells me that I am to use my mouth to impart grace and blessing:
 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29 NKJV

I want to be one who uses my words to speak life and encouragement and hope into those who need it…and that includes all of us!
“Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.” Psalms 34:13 NKJV

Simply put; I need to get my tongue pierced. Again, I am not talking about literally even though that would probably be much easier!

I am talking about learning to curb words that tear other down as well as those that can get me in trouble or misunderstanding:
“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” Proverbs 21:23 NKJV

Some would advise to just “bite your tongue” in an effort to not say everything that comes to mind. But I have found that all I get from doing that is a mouth full of cuts and bruises; none of which change my habits!

In fact, the taming of the tongue is harder that we want to admit; which is probably why so many don’t even try to have a filter on what comes out of their mouths.

The Bible says:
“But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8 NKJV

At first that can seem discouraging; but that is only because I am looking to myself to do the piercing. That passage says; “no man”.

I need the Holy Spirit to do the piercing. He alone knows how to do it. I simply cooperate with what He is doing and repent when I get off course.

He alone does a piercing of the tongue that can change how we speak. He alone can stop even the harsh words that we say about ourselves.

The good news is that He wants to bring the change. Our response is to ask Him.

Today, join me as I cry out to the LORD:
“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalms 141:3 NKJV

“Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue.” Psalms 120:2 NKJV

“And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness And of Your praise all the day long.” Psalms 35:28 NKJV

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

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