Cop shows and Christmas time

I was at church this morning helping the worship team set up. We sat down to pray, and I was suddenly remembering a Barney Miller episode. It was the one where the sweet older lady was arrested for writing bad checks. She was in the early stages of dementia. She was confused about why she had been arrested. One of the officers patiently explained to her that she owed several thousands of dollars to various people and businesses. She acted as though she understood and said, “well let’s take care of that right now, I’ll just write you a check….”

That is where we all are morally. We are bankrupt but keep writing checks, asking for something or someone to cover us. We think that doing good deeds fills our checking account but according to the Bible, in God’s eyes our good deeds are like, this is kind of gross, like used menstrual clothes, used sanitary devices. Our good deeds are worthless to God, yet we hope to fill up our moral checking account with them, to balance the bad we do with some good deeds. It doesn’t work. It’s like writing a check on an overdrawn account to cover the overdrafts.

There is good news in all this. God himself has said that he can and will and has completely covered our debt. He did this in Jesus, in his death and resurrection. That is why his coming to earth is so important. It continues God’s plan forward.

The apostle Paul said this in his letter to the Christians in Rome, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 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! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:6-11

He says this later in the same letter, “But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 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.”
Romans 10:8-11

At this time, no matter what the season God is waiting and wanting all of us to receive his gift, the best gift ever, forgiveness of sins, welcome into family and eternal life with him in a place where there are no tears or pain, only love and joy.

I originally posted this on Facebook at Christmas time. God’s gift to us is available 24/7/365. Will you receive his gift to us, to you, today?

The story of Rusty (how I grew a 57 Chevy pickup from a horn button).

If you read stuff I write you will eventually encounter a reference to my truck which I named Rusty. It’s a unique story and the way it came about always reminds me of God’s goodness. I hope you enjoy.

This is the story of how I grew a 57 Chevy pickup from a horn button.

If this were a movie I would start out with a view of Rusty (my pickups name) in his current state and then I would do a fade out to me as a 15 year old checking out my dad’s 55 Chevy 2-ton flatbed. That is how my story started.

My dad worked in auto salvage. Growing up we were never allowed to call his place of business a junk yard, it was a wrecking yard. He never made a lot of money but the one thing he did do was provide each of his kids with a car, our first car, (or truck as the case may be).

My oldest sister was first. She got a 62 Buick Skylark. Next was my brother. His first was a 64 Chevelle Malibu. Sweet ride. My second oldest sister had some trouble with her cars. Her first was a 59 Fiat four door sedan. It had a bent drive shaft so instead my dad got her a 72 Fiat but it kept catching on fire. On a scale of one to ten, that’s not good. Her final first car was a 68 Mustang notch back. This is where people start to wonder what this has to do with a truck and a horn button. Well I was next. I am the fourth of five kids and after I turned 15 I knew what was coming. I started looking around for a vehicle that I would like to drive. At the time my dad had a 55 Chevy 2-ton flatbed truck. I really liked the way it looked but I realized that it would be really hard to parallel park so I asked my dad if Chevy made a pickup that looked like his truck. He enthusiastically said yes. I will always cherish the memory of stepping into my dads world and getting him excited about something that we would share and the look on his face. It was a look that said, “You have chosen well my son”. I didn’t get a lot of those looks so this memory stands out.

My dad was working out of town at the time but it only took a couple of weeks before he called to tell me about the great truck he had found. It was a 57 3100 1/2 ton short wheel base. It had a 283 V8, a four speed tranny and it was a deluxe package truck which meant that it came with the better heater, stainless steel trim around the windows, chrome grill and front bumper. But wait, there’s more, it also had a tube style AM radio, the kind that when i turned it on, it took so long to warm up the tubes and start making noise that i usually forget about it and jump out of my skin when it finally started working.

One draw back to the truck was the color, it was construction yellow. It was another couple of weeks before dad could bring the truck home. In the meantime he tried to clean it up by taking a pressure washer to it, inside and out. He found out pretty quickly that not all of the yellow paint was of the permanent variety, it started peeling in sheets. when he was done the truck was clean but it was also about 7 different colors.

It was a Saturday morning when I first saw it. The morning was bright and sunny and the truck? It was looking leprous. I walked around not sure how I was going to tell my dad that I didn’t want it. He had me get in, the seat was shiny black naugahyde with a wide red stripe up the middle. It was getting better. Dad said to start it. A funny thing happens to a young man when he is suddenly in control of something that is powerful. The truck roared to life and then settled down to a growly purring idle. Something stirred in my chest. I was in love. I kept the truck.

It would take me 2 years to get around to refurbishing the poor thing. I ended up painting the interior and exterior, installing a new wiring harness from JC Whitney, adding some chrome to the engine compartment that my dad had salvaged from a Corvette and throwing on some new tires and wheels. The outside I painted a metallic rootbeer color and the inside, I just took it back to the original gray with a brown dash. I put nylon covered black 72 T-bird bucket seats in it. The drivers had 6-way but I didn’t get a chance to connect it to power.

I didn’t think to take pictures of the finished product. I guess I just assumed that this truck and I would always be together. Unfortunately just two weeks after the paint dried a friend borrowed the truck to do some errands and totaled it. He ran off the road into a ditch and did a rolling flip. The only parts left that were salvageable were the left front fender, the right rear fender and the drive train. Even the frame was bent.

I was devastated and my family and friends mourned my loss along with me. Even my ex-girlfriend (now my wife) was sad for me. My dad immediately started trying to locate parts to rebuild. We found two 57 Chevy parts trucks along with some other assorted parts. The cab proved the most difficult. My cab had been pristine, no rust, no dents, door hinges good but the roll had tweaked it in a spiral where nothing was straight. Finally we found a GMC cab but the dashboard was different in Chevy’s and GMCs so my brother, brothers-in-law, dad and friends set about sectioning a Chevy front half and GMC back half. We were successful. After the surgery the doors opened and closed and all the body pieces fit back together.

I had a roughly assembled shell but I just couldn’t get excited about getting it back on the road. It frustrated my dad so he eventually he started looking for a different truck for me. First he found a 58 1/2 ton with a tired 6 cylinder and a 3 three on the tree. We nick-named him Gus. Gus was very cancerous, the sheet metal resembled Swiss cheese. I decided Gus wouldn’t do. My dad kept him but he kept looking for a suitable replacement. Next he found a 55 Cameo that had had the drive train replaced with early 70’s Chevelle parts, 350 small block and a 3 speed along with the rear-end. I bought this one but it wasn’t really what I was hoping for either.

Eventually my soon to be wife’s cousin offered to buy my original truck and I reluctantly agreed. Maybe a new owner would give it the life it deserved. So I had the Cameo and dad had Gus.

I got married and we got pregnant on the honeymoon. I was attending college at the time so I decided to sell the Cameo to pay for the doctor bill for our firstborn. All I had left of my 57 was a horn button and a hood ornament and I’m not exactly sure how I ended up with those.

We moved several times, had 3 more kids and everywhere we went I took along the horn button and the hood ornament. My kids would ask what they were and would explain that they were off of a truck that I used to have and that they were seeds. Their next question was always “why are you keeping them?” my answer was , “some day I’m going to grow a truck from that horn button”.

Many years passed, the kids went away to college, the girls all found husbands and during the last daughters reception at our house my uncle Jerry saw my “truck seed” horn button sitting on my garage work bench. He got very excited. At the time he was building a 57 Chevy LCF (Low cab forward, aka COE) flatbed to haul his homemade airplane. He had purchased a parts truck to complete his project but both his parts truck and the project truck were missing a horn button. He asked if he could buy it the button, I told him what is was and why I had it and I gave it to him. I thought that that was the end of my 57 Chevy pickup dreams.

Another few years passed and just before my 50th birthday I received a letter from uncle Jerry. He had completed his LCF truck and wanted to get rid of his parts truck. He wanted to give it to me. It was a 57 Chevy 2 ton 6500 with a 261 inline 6 cylinder and a 5 speed with a 2 speed rear end. It was almost complete, he had taken off the light switch, the glovebox door latch and of course it was missing the horn button. I gladly accepted, (my wife not so much). We arranged a weekend to tow it from his place in Cashmere Washington to my house in Ephrata. My son and I showed up and before we chained the truck to the tow rig uncle Jerry took me into his palatial garage and handed me a round silver object. It was my horn button. He had found another one and didn’t need mine.

After towing it home I realized what a big job it would be to get my behemoth bock on the road. The tires alone would cost a small fortune. Months turned into years as I vacillated between selling and keeping the truck. I advertised it several times on Craigslist and on Stovebolt but no takers. As I pondered what to do my wife was getting increasingly impatient for me to get it moving, either driving or towed away.

In order to make any improvements on my truck, (I named him Elmer) I was going to have to come up with some sort of currency. I have never had a lot of extra cash to spend on hobbies but one day I came upon a brilliant solution, I would try to trade for stuff. I went onto Craigslist and found a guy selling a rolling 55 Chevy SWB frame. I had some guns that I didn’t need and my wife didn’t want around so I offered to trade. He took the bait and soon I was the proud owner of 55 frame.When he arrived I immediately notice that the rims were 5 lug, 57 Chevy pickups are 6 lugs so the front hubs and the rear end had been updated. This was a shock but I wasn’t going to let that deter me. I knew from the internet that many guys had mounted their trucks on other frames, like Chevy S-10s but that required fabrication and I am short on fab skills. I saw this frame as the perfect solution. The cab and front sheet metal would be a direct transfer along with the drive train.

I called around and found someone who would recycle the big frame and even offered to help move the cab over from the old frame to the new. A good friend, Steve Argo offered to help swap over the drive train and then a couple weeks later my brother-in-law Kelly Ledgerwood and the recycler team lifted off the cab and switched the frames. A couple of weeks after the parts moving around the frame was hauled off to be turned into 5 or 6 Hyundais and maybe a Kia or two.

The next issue was that the steering column wasn’t going to fit, the big truck parts were just too big. I went back to craigslist and found a steering column. The owner was asking $225? Again short on cash I offered to trade an acoustic base guitar that I had sitting around. The guy went for it. the column had recently been rebuilt and worked well. I had to buy the electrical stuff, horn and signal light switch (thanks LMC) but I soon had a complete steering column and the crowning piece was the seed that I had used to grow a 57 Chevy pickup, a horn button. I renamed my newly created 57 Chevy pickup Rusty. And he is all of that.

There is still much to do. I recently purchased all new wheels and tires from Les Schwab and mounted them. I have a refurbished gas tank that I also found on Craigslist that is awaiting final mounting and connection. (Done that) The seat has to be rebuilt (Found buckets seats from a Yukon).and someone somewhere will have to help me build a driveline but it’s coming together. (Drive line was built by Chris at Pioneer Metal works in Quincy WA). I have the brake system all connected and bled. I’m using the slightly larger master cylinder from the Big truck and had to concoct a connector to the brake lines but its all there and doesn’t leak.

I plan to leave the paint alone for awhile and also leave the 22000 gross weight signs on the doors. Eventually I would like to find pickup front fenders to replace the large wheel well units from the big truck and find a pickup bed. (Found it and it is on there) If I ever find the fenders I also found a pickup grill with upper and lower valances on Craigslist, (of course) to go with them. . My goal is to have it drivable by June so I can parade it in our town’s annual summer festival. (Didn’t make the parade but I’m driving Him now, that’s what really matters).

Kind of like the old French fable Stone Soup where an enterprising young soldier makes soup from a stone and the town’s people all proclaim, “soup from a stone, imagine that”, I want to proclaim, “a truck from a horn button, imagine that”.

UPDATE: 1/09/2015

I didn’t make the parade deadline. All vehicles needed to be licensed and insured. I did everything I could but fell a few days short. He’s licensed and insured now.

Another difficulty came with bolting a car rear end to a truck transmission. I had Chris from pioneer Metal Works in Quincy WA fabricate a driveline out the 3 pieces of truck driveline. It works great.

I found bucket seats out of a 90’s out a Yukon at a wrecking yard in moses lake.

They are tan. The driver 6-way works.

I bought some indoor/outdoor carpet at Home Depot. It’s blue. Meh.

I’ve replaced the windshield with the help of a neighbor who made the mistake of walking into my back yard. (thanks Steve Horner) and the window glass.

The gauges mostly work. Speedo is off by 50%. Gas gauge and voltmeter are erratic.

I’ve replaced the door gasket on the drivers side. I’ve painted the door interiors. (I know, now they’re not rusty anymore but they look nice).

Currently I’m rebuilding the heater. I’m waiting for parts and time and an inertia busting event (TBA) to complete that.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you stop by and meet Rusty The truck from a horn button.

Vocabulary lesson; sin

I’m shopping. It’s the season right? I’m shopping for which book of the bible to read next. I’ve read the first chapter of Titus, Hebrews and 1 Thessalonians. I’m hoping for a spiritual nudge but so far none has come.

I’m leaning towards 1 Thessalonians but I wonder if a day or two on vocabulary would be helpful?

The bible and those who live by its texts use words that are unfamiliar to our culture. The most basic Christian principle and word that is misunderstood and misused and maligned is sin.

I am not a theologian so check what I say out. Don’t take my word for it. Investigate.

This is what I’ve been taught and how I understand it. Sin is anything less than perfection. The word means Missing the mark. In other words, Not a bullseye. If we shoot a million arrows at a target and miss one, it doesn’t matter if we shoot another million arrows and hit bullseyes every time. We missed one. We are not perfect. We sinned. We can’t erase our bad shot with more good shots. Like that, Our spiritual record is based on our lifetime encompassing all our actions and thoughts over our entire life.

Sin is anything less than a perfect score. A sinner is one with a score anything less than perfect. Perfect in thought word and deed. Things we have done- and things we have left undone.

I’m out. Out of perfection. I’m in the group called sinners.

In contrast:

God is absolutely perfect. We have trouble conceiving that. Nothing around us is perfect or pure. I think about it this way; God is like a diamond. He has many facets but no matter how I turn and twist Him it’s still him, solid, pure, transparent, dazzling.

God cannot associate with sin but he loves us sinners. What to do?

He sacrificed his only son, whose perfect life and undeserved death covered over, paid for, redeemed, forgave our sin. God sees us now through the lens of Jesus substitutionary death. He sees us as perfect. All we have to do is accept Gods gift of Jesus and we are made clean.

Sin: it’s ugly. It’s pervasive, everybody has it and does it. Jesus death, his blood that he shed washes us, all of of us who have accepted it, clean.

My Story

(December 1st is the anniversary of the day in 1968 that I was burned. I shared my story at church last year. I would like to share it here. It is long but I hope that you will read it to the end).

While we were in Italy we sang worship in Italian. We sang the song Cuore Puro, written by our friends. Part of the refrain is Purificami, which in English means purify me. It got me thinking about a purifying process that I went through as a child.
Some of you may know this already, I have burn scars on my face. I will to tell you the story of how it happened. I hope to use my accident and the experience to show you something that God showed me about how he longs to purify us.
The day I was burned, it was a cold and snowy Sunday, December 1st 1968. I was 8 years old at the time and my older brother Mick was 12. My dad decided to go down to his work place, Lindell’s Auto Salvage and work on his car. He was restoring a 59 El Camino. I wouldn’t normally have gone with Mick and dad to work on his car. In my later years I’ve tried to figure out what my motivation would’ve been to go. I didn’t like grease, or getting dirty, I didn’t like loud noises, I didn’t like extended periods of cold, I didn’t like being separated from our T.V. My best guess is that it was the Sunday after thanksgiving and by then all of the goodies from the feast had been eaten up. I knew there was a vending machine in the lobby of dad’s work that sold hot chocolate with marshmallows. It cost a dime. As luck would have it, I had a dime. So that’s how I ended up at Lindell’s that night. Brought there by my sweet tooth. Sadly, I never did get the hot chocolate.

The events that led up to the accident were, not having a better way to describe it, the perfect storm. Everything had to be exactly the way it was or it wouldn’t have happened. Change any one element and the evening would’ve ended with the family watching “wonderful world of Disney” and eating a big bowl of popcorn.

That is not what happened.

It was cold that day. Cold enough to need a space heater in the garage where my dad kept his car. The space heater was empty enough to require a refill of white gas. The white gas was in a drum outside that was upright and had a hand pump on it. And it was cold enough to keep any white gas (kerosene) that might get splashed onto someone during a bucket filling from evaporating. I was the perfect size to hold the bucket under the spout during the splashiest part of the fill. And then too small to hold it for the entire time or to carry the bucket back into the garage so my dad wouldn’t think twice about whether or not my coat was flammable. My dad was at the perfect spot in his renovation of his El Camino that he could be distracted long enough for my brother to swipe 2 Dixie cups of paint thinner, one enamel and one lacquer. My brother was at the perfect age to be curious and informed of at least the flammable qualities of those two liquids but also the perfect age to not know or to not care about the dangers of using them out of context to their purpose. I was at the perfect age to think my brother knew everything. And be inquisitive enough to follow him outside so he could show me how the two different liquids, which looked the same in the cups, because of their chemical properties produced very different colored flames once they were ignited. Even at this point, the stage being set for tragedy if I hadn’t been afraid of my dad catching us, if I hadn’t told Mick to stomp out the cups of flaming liquid because I thought I heard dad coming, if we would’ve just watch them burn out, what if. But it was the perfect storm. I was afraid of my dad catching us, I did tell him to stomp them out. The first one died out instantly. And then? I was at the perfect distance and in the perfect location so that when he squished the second cup, instead of it extinguishing, it squirted a perfect flame directly toward me. The flame found the awaiting vapors of white gas that were on my coat and suddenly, I think it sounded like “FOOM”, I was engulfed in flame.

Through some quick thinking Mick saved my life. I don’t know how I would’ve handled it if the tables had been turned. He was standing within inches of his little brother being burned alive. He told me to lay down and roll around. I did lay down but I guess I didn’t understand the roll around part. I was on the ground but still in flames. Mick went to plan B and took off his coat and smothered the flames.

My dad must’ve heard some commotion because he came outside and saw me and asked Mick what happened. All he could say was “oh my God, oh my God” over and over. My dad ended up slapping him and it kind of snapped him out of it and he was able explain most of what happened.

It was the perfect storm. Everything had to be exactly the way it was or it wouldn’t have happened. Change any one element and the evening would’ve ended with the family watching “wonderful world of Disney” and eating a big bowl of popcorn. But that’s not what happened and my family and I would be changed forever.

The trip to the hospital seemed to take forever. There were a lot of unexplainable delays. We were at the wrecking yard where my dad worked, Lindell’s. He tried to get his car to start. It wouldn’t. He tried several others cars. None of them would start. After a few minutes of frustration he called my mom. Meanwhile I remember just standing in the gravel parking lot. Mom drove down the hill from our house which was about a mile away and picked me up. There were 2 hospitals in Pendleton at the time, St Anthony’s which was about 3 minutes away or there was the community hospital, 10-15 minutes away. My dad chose to send us to the community hospital. Mom put me in the car and started driving. She kept asking me questions. I guess trying to keep me conscious. We had driven about 2 miles when her car started to stall. We were almost to the intersection where the two hi-ways out of town meet when her car stopped completely. It was out of gas. Traffic started to back up behind us and a state trooper stopped to see if he could help. I don’t remember if he looked in and figured it out or if mom had to explain it but we were taken to his squad car and he drove us to the hospital. On the way we passed St Anthony’s. The officer asked if she was sure about going to the community hospital and she said yes and we sped past St. Anthony’s. There are parts of the drive I don’t remember but I was alert and awake when we arrived. I didn’t feel a lot of pain. Mostly it was a ring of intense stinging, like a string of bee stings around the perimeter of my face, and a lot of pressure. I guess my head started to swell up. It took a long time for the doctor to arrive. I think that I stayed conscious. I remember asking for an analgesic. (I think that I had watched too many doctor’s shows). I remember that I got a laugh but I was serious. They wouldn’t give me anything until the doctor was there to prescribe it.
When he did finally get there he looked over my condition. I don’t recall what he said but I did get something for pain. The next thing he did was to start pulling off the dead skin. I had second and third degree burns on my face and hand. I watched them slide the skin off my hand like it was a loose rubber glove. They just threw it away. In My eight year old kid brain I was thinking “aren’t I going to need that later?”

That’s about all I can remember of the emergency room. I woke up the next day and I couldn’t see, my eyes were swollen shut. It would take a week for the swelling to go down far enough for me to open my eyes. The room smelled like chemicals and burnt hair. The hair on the back of my head was melted and brittle and kept breaking off. My pillow was crunchy with it. I was in the hospital for twenty-one days. I received daily treatments which will I talk more about later and I received skin grafts from my thigh and my neck.
I was released and got home right before Christmas.
We have a picture of me soon after my homecoming. It might even be Christmas morning. It’s a black and white Polaroid. I look pretty rough. Not all of the burns had healed over yet but the scars hadn’t formed either. I had been in bed for so long that my leg muscles has atrophied. I wasn’t able to walk right away. My siblings carried me for a while but my parents thought I was milking it so they stopped all that. Left on my own I quickly got my legs back under me and was walking before school started back up after Christmas break.
Post hospital stay the tip of my right ear got infected. They tried to fight the infection and eventually beat it but not before it destroyed the cartilage that kept my ear upright so my right ear folded over on itself.
My hand had been bandaged with my fingers curled. While the burns healed webs of scars formed on the palm side of each digit. The doctors worried that I wouldn’t regain full use of my hand but by that summer, just regular boyhood play was therapy enough to overcome the scars and I have full use of my hand and fingers.
Ok, that is the background story of how I got burned but this message is more about the recovery process than the trauma of the accident. The thing that started this trip down memory lane was that word Purificami (purify me). We sang the song a lot. That word, Purificami stuck out and started this chain of thoughts and memories.
Purificami, being cleansed, cleansed of our filth. Not just dirt but filth, filth that if we leave it on we die, the damaged part of us that sticks to us, like the skin of my hand that they slid off like a glove.
So far I haven’t told you about the worst part of being burned, the worst part of being burned is recovery, and then the worst part of recovery is being cleaned. The cleaning process went something like this: every morning 4 of the staff would come in and hold me down, one on my right arm, one on my left arm, one each on my legs while 2 others would remove the bandages and “clean” the wound. They had to keep the dead skin from rotting on my face and causing infection so it had to be scrubbed off. There are Elements of this experience that we can apply to all of our Christian lives. It was the most pain that I have ever endured. I would beg and plead to skip a day but they were doing their job, helping me recover, saving my life by purifying me. If we skipped a day, it could have killed me.
In spiritual recovery from the damage brought on by a broken world, like in my incident, first there is the emergency room experience where we are brought from death to life, salvation. After we are saved there is still much to do, there is the ongoing work, the daily cleansing that helps us recover from our wounds, purification or Sanctification.

When we come to Jesus We’ve all been hurt or damaged in some way. We’ve been burned by the world. In order to heal us Jesus, the great physician will need to gently, yet persistently cleanse us, washing away our putrid flesh, the sin and its effects on us and then slowly he will heal us.

The bible shows us how this works. We are washed by the word.

Couched in a word to husbands of how we should treat our wives, in Ephesians 5:25-27 Paul talks about how Jesus treats his bride the church “husbands love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to make holy, cleansing by the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish but holy and blameless.”

We are washed by exposure to the Holy Spirit by reading and applying the word of God. David says in Psalm 51:2 “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from sin” and later in the same Psalm he says “purge me with hyssop and I will be clean, wash me and I will be whiter than snow”. In Hebrew vernacular he was saying, scrub me God, Brillo pad me God.

Purification. It hurts. Without it I would have slowly died. With it I stand before you today. Gods cleansing of our spiritual wounds can hurt too. Spiritually With it we are transformed from death to life. Molded and shaped to be more like Jesus.

Let’s take this a little further.

I want to say that there is a difference between reading the bible and eating the bible. Ezekiel 3:1-3 God told the prophet to “eat the scroll”. I’ve had so many mornings of bible reading, just me scanning over the words on the page but they just stay there. They register in my brain as being English and they all make sense but honestly and sadly, they don’t make a difference.

In my hospital story only the scrubbing that touched me was effective. The closer it got to me the more it changed me. God’s word will change my life only in the relationship with how close I let it come to me.
My Recovery process was actually two-fold. There was the therapy every morning of being cleansed from the outside. Then there was the ongoing work of antibiotics cleaning me from the inside. There is the time that we expose ourselves to the word through study and fellowship, but that’s like a doctor’s office visit. Do we want Gods cleansing to happen once a year, once a month, once a week, once a day or do we want the ongoing work, like an IV drip or a time release antibiotic? If so we need to keep it with us and let it touch us. One more time back to my hospital analogy, yes I was scrubbed but I was also hooked up to IV that fed me and pumped medicine into me. God’s word can be that same thing in us spiritually. Be a steady drip into my heart.
I want to add one more verse with II Thessalonians 2:13-15 “But we ought always to thank God for you brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this though our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then brothers stand firm and hold to the teachings passed on to you whether by word of mouth or by letter.”

God wants to finish the work that be began in us. He wants to purify us. It might hurt but one way we can participate in this is to lean into his gentle cleaning of our wounds, to keep those tools he needs available in our hearts, to have them working constantly in our lives like a spiritual I.V..

PURIFICAMI, Purify me Lord Jesus.

The day I died.

February 18th 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 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.

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 broke up
My senior year. 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.

You are not welcome here

Jesus never said that, but he came close.

Refused.

Rejected.

Odd man out.

Unclean.

Unacceptable.

Unloved.

What do you do when you feel this way?

Ostracized. That’s the word I was looking for.

“21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.”

Why did Jesus refuse her at first? Was it to make her make her point? What is her point? She was not a Jew, not one of Gods chosen, and yet, she was one of Gods children. We are all Gods children.

Even the dogs, lowly creatures that they are, get crumbs from the masters table.

Ostracized people everywhere listen to this and keep pressing into Jesus! He is our hope and our salvation! He is the way, the truth and the life! (John 14:6). No one gets to God except through Jesus. Jesus is our way back into relationship with God.

Do you want the good news or the bad news? The bad news is we are all ostracized from God. The good news is that God has made a way back, a door back into fellowship with him, the door, and there is only one, is Jesus.

Ostracized will you, open the door today?

If you have already opened the door, will you take today as an opportunity to show someone else the way in?

My personal restoration process

My personal restoration process.

I work at a chemical plant. My job is in process controls. I create the computer graphics and logic so that an operator can click a button on a screen and a valve will open somewhere in the plant. I always hope it’s the correct valve.

Occasionally There are conditions that I have to insert in the logic. Like don’t open valve X if tank Y is above level Z. It’s called, interlock logic.

I have talked and talked about Gods unconditional love for us. He has shown us how much he loves us by giving up his only son Jesus. Jesus died to pay for our sin. He rose again to show that he has defeated death and to give us hope of eternal life.

God has given us his Unconditional love, but there is one small tiny catch. Gods love for us is unconditional as long as it is flowing. His love must flow into us to wash us and forgive us, and flow out of us, for us to forgive others. As soon as his love begins to pool in us, as soon as we stop forgiving others, it stops flowing to us. There is an interlock on God’s forgiveness.

We see Jesus teach this principle at the end of the Lord’s prayer.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Jesus shared a story to illustrate this point. It’s found in Matthew 18

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g]

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

I think Gods #1 priority is restoration. Our restoration. In my world it’s my restoration. The fuel of Gods restoration process is forgiveness. When a project runs out of fuel it stops. When forgiveness stops flowing in my life my restoration stops. I cannot have enemies. Not from my point of view anyway. Others can hate me but I cannot hate them back. It goes deeper than that. I cannot hold unmet expectations over someone’s head. I must forgive them, let go of the expectations and love them at ground zero, that place at the foot of the cross where I get my forgiveness. It’s level there. No steps to climb. No podiums to stand on. No hoops to jump through. No bars to leap over or to break through. Free access to Jesus and his forgiveness. As long as I give it away in the same way I receive it.

Father God thank you for beginning my restoration. Thank you for giving your son to die in my place. Forgive me when I fail to forgive others. Help me to keep the flow of your love and forgiveness moving in my life by giving it away in the same manner in which it was given, freely and lavishly.