Loving it

We love our stuff. Americans, we love our teams, our beers our coffee, our political parties, our birthday parties, our jeans, our sneakers, our car brands (or truck brands). We love our stuff. I love my stuff.

I love watermelon and I love pepperoni pizza and i love sitcoms and crime dramas and tools and toys. I love cars and trucks, some more than others (wink-wink Rusty!) I love my wife and kids and my grandkids. (This is not a prioritized list).

To not love stuff, well it’s downright unamerican. Who doesn’t love stuff? Who shouldn’t love stuff?

As it turns out… me. I shouldn’t love stuff, as a follower of Jesus I shouldn’t love stuff.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

1 John 2:15-17

Everything in the world is good, God declared it so at the end of creation but it has in it an enticement that can lead me away from my love of and for God. My little human heart has only a certain amount of love. How will that be divided?

If I love God first and foremost it opens the chambers of my life to more love. Like when I see my wife from across the room my pupils dilate. They open up as if to get more of her visage and likeness into my head and heart. When I love God first, my heart is opened up to allow more love for people. When I understand that God is creator of all things then things take on a different level of respect and admiration. I see things as part of a creators creation. I see the place each thing has as a part of my life, provided by a loving father to be used by me, and I start to see people differently. I start to see Each one as a person created in God’s image, created to spend eternity in fellowship with God but just now separated from him by sin.

Separated Unless…

Unless we meet Jesus and accept his gift of reconciliation.

This is how that reconciliation happens: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:9-13

Say out loud “Jesus you are now my Lord, (master-boss-king-ruler-leader) and I believe that you rose from the dead. “

Can it really be that simple?

Yes, try it and see.

What changes? Down here? Not much. In heaven? There’s a party, in your heart? Sin is forgiven. And the driver seat of your heart is now occupied by the Holy Spirit.

Buckle up. You are beginning a new adventure.

(Originally posted 2/20/2018)

12 guys that changed the world

Spreading the word and spreading the work. In Matthew 10 Jesus was about to create spiritual Special teams. Men with skills, abilities, devotion, zeal and weaknesses.

“10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”

Shall we recount how these men failed? One betrayed him, one denied him 3 times all but one deserted him yet these are the men he chose. In spite of their fallenness and failures today, 2000 years later we have a group of people on the planet who have heard of Jesus, know his story, can read about him and are part of the largest group of followers in history.

“As of 2010 Christianity was by far the worlds largest religion with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third of the worlds population.”

12 guys changed the world. It didn’t stay 12 guys.

The invitation is still open.

Who wants to be clean and forgiven and loved and live forever?

“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Our sin separates us from God, but Jesus creates a way to be reconciled.

What will we do with that information today? Receive it? Share it? Both?

(Originally posted 2/20/2017)

To market to market…

John 2

Cleaning house

“13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”’

Seeking God. It brings a lot of people. Back in the day in order to meet with God you had to bring an offering. An animal offering. If you didn’t have one you had to buy one but you couldn’t buy it with regular money. You had to use temple money so first you would exchange your money for temple money. A small(ish) service fee would apply. This was the system. It had the potential to be abused and it was. People who came from all over to seek God in his temple had to first be fleeced by the market on the front steps.

It’s not meeting with God that’s the problem. It’s the greed in the hearts of men. Always looking for a way to get a little bit more.

“The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.”

The cross was always in the plan. Jesus knew what he had come for and how it would end. It wasn’t a surprise. Jesus knew how wicked men are and had come to take care of them, all of them. He would die for all men. He would die for me. Jesus died for me, for my sin. He paid for the evil in my heart.

“Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.[d] 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.”

Thank you Jesus for knowing what’s in my heart and dying to pay for the sins hidden there anyway.

My future plans

It’s Wednesday February 19th. Its hump day, the middle of the week. I am anticipating that I have 2 more days until a weekend break, then work a week, then a short vacation, then work/break/ work/ etc for 14 years and then retire then grow old and then die.
That’s what I’m assuming will happen. But what if this is the day that a truck crosses the center line and I don’t make it?  What if my extended plans for life don’t work out? What is the most important thing I can do today if it’s my last day here?  
What if there is an eternity just the other side of our last exhale? Our breath leaves our lungs and our soul slips out of our body and then what?  Heaven? Hell? In light of the fragility of life should I be prepared for eternity?
When Jesus was crucified he was hung on a cross between 2 other criminals, two thieves. All 3 of these men knew eternity was very close. They were swinging on a thread over the chasm of death. 
Let us listen in on their conversation. 
“32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[c] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[d]”
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”’
What are the words that I can write on this post to encourage people to believe in Jesus and receive him as savior? What can I say?
What do you believe about Jesus?
Did he rise from the dead? Did he pay for our sins with his death? Have you accepted that gift?
Eternity is coming, some call it death and expect it to be an end but the Bible tells us that the end of this life is just a doorway into eternity. Eternity has two options, with God or without him. I highly recommend the with God option. 
Eternity yawns beneath us all. 
Accept Jesus’ gift today. Today is all we know that we get. Today.

Whine to wine

John 2

Faith shown through obedience.

The closest thing to a whine that Jesus ever does. And it is about being out of wine.

“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there,2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

4 “Woman,[a] why do you involve me?”Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”’

Mary his mom says, “Son, they are out of wine,”

Jesus replies “Ah ma!? Do I have to? It isn’t my time yet…”

“Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[b]

7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”’

Jesus turned what was plain water used for washing into the best wine of the day. No magic wand. No hocus pocus. The creator created.

The party was out of wine and Jesus told the servants to get water. They obeyed. Then he told them to take the beverage to the master of the banquet. At what point did the change take place? Before he dipped? As he walked to the front of the party?

Has Jesus asked us to do things that don’t seem connected to our current struggles? Obedience shows our faith.

We’re the servants caring the water jugs grumbling all the way to the well? What about all the way back caring a jar of water. Water weighs about 8.34 lbs per gallon. These jars holding 20-30 gallons each were about 167-250 lbs. there were 6 jars. So were they grumbling or were they saying “it’s stupid but I believe” like Susan on Miracle on 34th street.

Then Jesus had them take the sample up to the MC of the party.

Faith and obedience rewarded.

Abraham took his son and headed up a hill to sacrifice him. He built the fire pile, tied Isaac up, laid him on the altar and drew his knife. None of that made sense but Abraham was obedient. God said “Stop!” Faith shown in obedience. God provided a ram, caught in the bushes nearby.

“11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”

Jesus filled a need. At the party and in the hearts of his followers.

Am I feeling empty? Have I run dry? Do i continue to do what’s in front of me. Do I follow orders? Do I ask for refilling or just assume I’ll stay empty?

And what about you?

The day I died

This is the anniversary of the day that I died.

The date was February 18, the year was 1972.

There were 5 of us in the old crewcab truck. My foster brother Rodney was driving, my sister Judi was sitting in the middle of the front seat, my sister Kitti and her boy friend Steve were in the back seat and I was riding shotgun. The truck was a Forrest service surplus. Seating for 6 and under the hood each passenger was represented by one cylinder, the long way to say it had a small 6 cylinder engine. It was not fast.

The night was foggy and cold. It was February fog, thick and sticky. We were driving from Milton-Freewater to Pendleton. The two towns were about 35 miles apart. The Loeffelbein’s had started a great adventure in leasing Curl’s Drive in in Milton-Freewater but were having trouble selling the house in Pendleton. The trip was supposed to be a chance for us kids to see our friends and help pack up the house. We didn’t make it very far.

Just outside of town there is a long steep grade that at that time had only two lanes. (I believe it’s 3 lanes now). I don’t know the ladies name in the slow car that was in front of us, I think she was driving a Rambler. Rodney thought it would be safe to pass. We were slightly ahead of her car when we saw the lights of the on coming car, they weren’t headlights, just park lights but it was a car in the lane in front of us. Rodney tried swerve back into our lane, there just wasn’t enough time.

I’m not sure which car hit us first but both cars did. I’ve heard that by the time it was all over there were 17 cars involved. The impact tore the cab we were in free of the truck frame.

When my dad who was at work in Pendleton heard about the accident from the state patrol all he knew was that his kids were in an accident and that there had been a fatality.

When he and my brother arrived on the scene our crewcab was in pieces strewn around the hi-way. The cab was upside down just off the road.

I don’t know the sequence of events except from my experience so that’s what I’ll tell you. When I woke up I was laying on the ceiling of our truck. People were all around, there were flashlights and people were asking me questions. I tried to talk but the lower half of my face felt like jello. I would find out later that my jaw was broken in 5 places. Somehow all 5 of us stayed in the cab. None of us were using seat belts (seat belts?).

Rodney had been pushing so hard on the brake that his foot had gone through the floor. His femur was shattered. Judi broke her wrist. Kitti broke her ankle. Steve was the worst of us. He had a skull fracture. At that point we were busted up but alive. The driver of the oncoming car had died on impact. My condolences to his family.

Somehow they got me out of the truck and into an ambulance. As I lay there on the gurney I started to panic but I heard a voice in my head that said “Jesus will take care of you”. I relaxed and either passed out or fell asleep or died. I don’t know. I just know that I’ve never known rest like that before or since. It was blissful.

At the hospital things were a little hectic. My gurney was in the hallway and when my mom arrived the doctors in triage were working on me. When My mom arrived she saw the doctors walking away from me she asked if she could talk to me, one doctor answered, “well it doesn’t matter now “. She started gently rubbing my leg and I started to cough. The doctors spun around and started working on me with renewed vigor.

I remember this scene but I remember it from a view above my body. As the gurney was wheeled into a room I remember sort of sqooshing back into myself.

All of this kind of got shoved aside as the crisis of all of us was being taken care of.

(I must insert some praise for my mom here. She drove from Milton-Freewater to Walla-Walla following the ambulances. If she hadn’t come to check on me and rubbed my leg I would have stayed dead. None of my life lived since then would be. Thank you mom for your tender heart and gentle touch and thank you Jesus for a mother who loved me, loved us and came to help.)

My jaw was set with a plate. They were going to wire it shut but my burn scars were too tough to cut through so they went with the plate. At a follow up orthodontic appointment the doctor who had been at the hospital when I arrived told my mom that I was clinically dead when I arrived. She almost fainted. After we got home we talked about all the details. I remembered the weird way that I recalled the event, from above my body.

I’m not sure how to close this. I’ve given the facts but it doesn’t seem complete. Dying and coming back to life. It happened. It changed me I’m sure but since I was so young (11) I don’t know how different things would be without the experience . One thing that happened because I had the plate in my jaw. Mary and I had been dating all through high school. We broke up My senior year. It looked like she was moving on. I was trying to get out of town so I signed up to join the air force. I was going to leave early, before graduation. I had scored pretty high on my ASVAB so they were excited to get me. Everything was a go until during the medical questionnaire they asked me if I had any pins or plates. I told them About my jaw and everything came to a screeching halt. Due to the plate I would not be joining any of our armed services. I stayed in Soap Lake. I graduated in June of 1979 and eventually (August of 1979) Mary and I went to a movie and before the sun rose the next day, we were not only back together, but engaged. The rest of the story is our marriage and family.

I died, I don’t know how long I was gone. I have no other memories from that experience. I don’t know why it happened. I do know this, God works all thing together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. I do love him and he has brought good to me even though life, at times was very rough.

God can use our pain and suffering and turn it into something beautiful. Like a sculptor who drags trash out of the dump and sculpts it into a masterpiece or a potter who takes a lump of dirt and gently molds it into a thing of beauty. God did it in my life and he is waiting to be invited in to yours.

Seeking and finding

John 1

Seeking and finding

What are we looking for?

“The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.”

The disciples of John were looking for the messiah. John pointed them to Jesus. When they met Jesus he seemed to already know them.

“Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”

44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

50 Jesus said, “You believe[h] because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you,[i] you[j] will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’[k] the Son of Man.”’

Jesus know us. I mean knows us. Every deed done in secret. Every deed done by us. Every deed done to us. He has seen it all.

Here is His message about all that.

It is forgiven.

We don’t need to look for anything or anyone else. Jesus knows us and has come to forgive us and welcome us into his family.

(Originally posted 2/16/2016)