The miracles aren’t the main thing

John 6

 

The miracles aren’t the main thing

 

“60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

 

61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[e] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

 

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

 

67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

 

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

 

70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)”

 

My pastor says this often, the problem with life is it’s so daily. I live my life day by day and the challenges, especially the spiritual challenges are there every day.

 

The next day After Jesus fed the 5000 they were all hungry again. At the wedding when the water turned into wine was gone people got thirsty again.

 

The miracles were not to change the world, the miracles were to point to the one who could change a heart.

 

The miracles that Jesus performed weren’t an end in themselves. They were to point to Jesus otherness, his holiness. Yes, he did grow up down the street, but his origins were from eternity, not Galilee.

 

Not everyone could see past the miracles to the God/man who was before all time and who could build a bridge from a sin filled existence to an eternity with God.

 

The disciples saw it and Peter said it. ““Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”’

 

To whom shall we go? Is there another offer? A better offer? An offer with a brighter future than an eternity with a holy God?

 

To whom shall we go?

 

(Your name here) come out

John 11

Jesus brings the dead back to life.

“38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

The Plot to Kill Jesus

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

54 Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.

55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” 57 But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.”

This story was hard for me to write about. I couldn’t get images of rotting flesh and Zombies out of my mind.

The weird thing is that I have personal experience with being clinically dead. I was in a car accident when I was 11 and was without pulse and not breathing when I arrived at the hospital. My mom arrived just then, saw me and asked some doctors who had just checked me and were walking away if she could talk to me. They said ” it doesn’t matter now”. My mom touched my leg and I started coughing. The doctors spun around and started working on me again. I remember being above my body in the hallway and the return to the pain of being damaged but in flesh.

Jesus spoke to Lazarus. “Come out” and the mound of flesh and bones that was rotting inside a cave came back to life and walked out of the grave. The same voice that had said to pre-existing darkness, ” let there be light” and light came into being, reanimated the body of his friend with 3 words. “Lazarus,come out.”

We are all dead in our sins.

“2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved”.

We are all dead in our sins but we don’t have stay that way. Jesus speaks to each one of us and says “(your name here), come out”.

Ephesians, A study trip through

Posts from Ephesians

After reading through Romans a chapter a day since January I think I’ve read the book about 14 times this year. I’ve been pondering which book to read next. The book of Ephesians keeps popping up in my head so this morning I read the preface. It is a letter that Paul wrote while in prison in Rome so beyond the words in it, the where, why and how of this book compels me to study it next after studying Romans. First the book to Romans and then the book from Rome.

I found this this morning and it is my heart for me and those who read my posts.

“12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

I want to know God better. I want to know the hope that he has called me to, the riches of his glorious inheritance, and his incomparable great power.

Ephesians 2

It was a cold and cloudy January morning. I had just left college to become the manager of my family’s business, the Burger Bar Cafe. It was Sunday, so we were closed. I was in the back room getting breakfast for my pregnant wife. We were newlyweds and pregnant with our honeymoon baby. So much change in one year. Getting married, getting pregnant, moving three times, starting college to become a pastor, leaving college to become a dad.

It was that morning in that restaurant back room right next to the dishwasher that I finally understood that God loved me, not based on anything I did or didn’t do, not on my “works” but just because he is a loving and gracious God, a God who “stoops low” to aid those he loves. That’s the day that Ephesians 2:8-10 came to life to me. That’s the day I was saved.

Part of my desire to go to college and become a Pastor was the need to please God. To earn his favor. I had just given that up and I was floundering. But this verse popped into my head and I understood that I couldn’t earn Gods favor, because he had already graciously given it to me through Jesus.

” For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Thank you Jesus for the path you put me on and for loving me and our family. For dying for our sins and also providing for all of our needs. Thank you for being gracious to me, for saving me. I love you Jesus.

Ephesians 3

We live in a desert. Eastern Washington state is a desert. It lies in the rain shadow of the Cascade mountains. Our annual rainfall is around 10″. There is very little water here naturally. My Grandpa Loeffelbein’s property in Cashmere, out on Pioneer Ave had a Tiny little stream. It was so small that I could jump across it. The odd thing about it that it was always flowing, and it flowed fast. It was not a lazy little trickle. Put your foot in and it would try and knock you over. It took strength to stand in the flow. The water was cold, and the force was steady and strong and constant.

Sometimes my life feels like a desert, arid and dry. I need a source of refreshing.

God’s love is like that little stream in some respects. It’s steady, strong, constant, refreshing, water in a desert. It just isn’t little. Nathan Dowd quoted someone recently who said, “God’s love is an ocean without shores and without bottom.”

“17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Lord I need to know your love today, not just know it but feel it. I need your wisdom and understanding, I’ve got things to do today that go beyond me. Help me Jesus. Fill me up.

Ephesians 4

Every once in a while, our Pastor will say that what he is speaking about is “family business” meaning it pertains to those of us who are part of that specific body of believers. It is a specific message to a specific group of people.

I feel like Ephesians 4 is a “family business” chapter but not just for the people in Ephesus but all believers everywhere for all time.

I think I just said that it is specifically written to a general group. At least that’s what I intended.

John 3:16 is written to everyone, everywhere. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Once we decide to follow Jesus we join a new group, the body of Christ. The group of people known as the body of Christ live by a different set of guidelines.

I will use myself as an example. Basically, there has been a shift, a change of command has happened. I used to be in charge. I did what I wanted. Now I have given over the control of my life to Jesus.

I’ll let Paul say it, “Living as Children of Light
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. 20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Paul goes on to say how our honesty in word and deed, and our reaction to anger needs to be different now that we are filled with Gods spirit. Our life experiences haven’t changed. We will still face the same temptations and trials that the general population does but now we are empowered to respond differently.

I’d like to quote one more verse that reminds me that when I need to forgive someone, that I too am in constant need of forgiveness.

“32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 5

Ephesians 5 is more family business meaning this is written specifically to those who are following Jesus, to Christians.

Being a Christian is brand new to some of us. What do we do? How do we act? What are the rules?

Here’s a general guideline:”1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Things NOT to do:

Be sexually immoral
Be greedy
Get drunk
Don’t do these.

Instead, Do these:
Be filled the Holy Spirit
Sing
Make music
Give thanks
Wives submit to your husbands like you do to Jesus
Husbands love your wife. be the Christlike man that a woman doesn’t have to fear submitting to. Love your wife like you love you. Love like Jesus did- Die to yourself and live for Jesus and your family. Love your wife. Love your wife like you love you. Love your wife. (I added one more “love your wife” than Paul did, sorry, now two more)

Being a Christian is the simple life. It is not the easy life but it is simple.

Live a life of love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.

Ephesians 6

Ephesians 6 I want to start at the end.

Paul says that he has entrusted the letter to Tychicus not just as a postman but as one who will encourage the believers there. Basically, Paul said Tychicus will carry the letter in his hand, but he will stay and help because he has Jesus in his heart. Tychicus will be a living letter to the Christians in Ephesus. Tychicus is mentioned 5 times in the bible and every time it says this guy can be trusted, “faithful servant”, one who encourages. I want to be like him.

To the family of God:
Kids, obey your parents,
Fathers, raise them right. Do not exasperate
Slaves (people who have bosses, and even bosses have bosses) work like your boss is Jesus himself, obey respect, work hard
Masters (bosses) remember we all have one master Jesus and there will be a day of personal accountability.

We are in a battle but it’s not with who you think, because if you can mentally picture your enemy with skin on then you got it wrong. Our battle is not with flesh and blood and so neither are our defenses or weapons. Our battle is spiritual: truth, righteousness, good news of Jesus, faith in him, and being saved by him are our battle gear, the word of God is our only weapon.

Weird war. Let’s get to it then.

The Flu and Father Brown

What do a stomach bug and a TV show about a crime solving priest have in common?

Two essential elements of Christianity. That’s what. Repentance and confession. In The series Father Brown is more concerned about the criminal’s soul than he is about solving the crime.

His main goal in the show is to get the guilty party to repent and confess.

Today I came down with a Flu bug. I was at work when I decided to turn around, change direction and go back home. I repented of my decision to go south east to Moses Lake, I turned around and headed north west back to Ephrata.

I was only home a couple of minutes before my stomach confessed of everything I had eaten. It wouldn’t be satisfied with a partial confession, it had to have it all out.

“5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

Take it from me, when a stomach confesses it is nasty business. All kinds of ugliness comes out. The same is true for a heart and soul.

Usually working together with confession and almost always preceding it, is repentance. My favorite story of repentance is found in the book of Luke. Jesus tells the story of 2 brothers. The younger cashes in his inheritance and goes partying. When he runs out of money he also runs out of friends and ends up destitute, feeding pigs.

“17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.”

The next verses are what I think are the best bd description of God’s Father heart towards us, his wayward children.

““But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

Are you feeling a long way off? Sometimes I do. It’s mostly my fault too. I go my own way and then feel estranged but Gods heart towards me, towards us has not changed. God is scanning the horizon anxiously waiting for us to return.

Repentance and confession are not our ticket back in to his love. God loves us. Repentance and confession are our way to be purged and healed.

So I say and you can say it with me if like; Forgive me Father, I have sinned against you and against heaven. I am unworthy to be called your child.

And he says about us and to us, welcome home!

3 guys

Three guys….

Why do so many jokes start with 3 guys?

The next thing I will say here is no joke.

On this day about 2 thousand years ago three guys hung from crosses on a hill outside of Jerusalem. They weren’t tied to the cross, they were nailed, through the hands and feet. Two of them were thieves, the third was a man named Jesus.

We have a record of his Jesus’ last words. The last thing he said was, ” it is finished ”

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (Jn 19:30)

What did he mean?

He meant that the job of paying for all of the sin in the world, all the wrongs, all the hurts and hates, the stains on the souls of men that could not be removed by men had been removed by God.

This is no ordinary man this guy Jesus. He is the very, the only son of God.

Much to our relief he did not stay dead. 3 days later he rose from the dead. He is alive! Jesus is alive.

He died to finish the plan of our salvation and he rose from the dead to give us eternal life.

Three guys hung on crosses to their deaths. One guy said “It is finished”. And so it is.

All we gotta do is ask.

A letter from our dad

Not everyone has a dad but wouldn’t it be cool to find a long love letter addressed to you from your father? Even if you didn’t know him, he knew you?Something that not only gushed words of love but gave you instructions on how to live the best life possible? A letter that showed that life and the world and even world events had been all arranged just so you could be born and live. A description of the purpose of your life. The letters end with a promise to return to you and reunite with you.

This letter exists. It exists for each one of us. This letter is the Bible. The Bible is a love letter from our father. Our father is the being who created not just us but every thing that exists including time and space and light and darkness.

Because of misuse and abuse some of us discount or discredit the Bible. We call it many things, we malign it, we return abuse on it, or worse, we ignore it.

I was born into 20th century America and I now live in 21st century America. We are being called a post Christian society. We have forgotten about our fathers love letter to us.

One of my goals in life is to reacquaint my contemporaries, the people I live and work with, the folks and families, those people who my kids and my grandkids will be living and working with after I’m gone, to know about the letter, the love letter that my Father, our father has written to us all.

There a line in the letter that sums up the message succinctly.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

John 3:16-17

God not only proclaims his love for us he has shown it by sending his son Jesus to pay the price that is required by God to reconcile us back to Himself. Why do we need to be reconciled?God does loves us but we have been separated from him by a thing called sin. Sin isn’t just bad things we do, but it’s in our very nature. We can’t get rid of it or do good to appease him for it. We are powerless, but God, being God could sacrifice himself by offering up his one and only son Jesus to die in our place. This one act covered all people for all time. All that is left to do is to accept the gift.

In another place in God’s love letter to us it says this in order to explain how to grab hold of this wonderful offer; “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 10:9-11

Bloom where you’re planted, unless you are dead.

John 11

Bloom where you are planted, unless you are dead.

“17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”’

This week some famous people died. George Beverly Shea, 104. Chyna, 46. Prince, 57. My uncle Delvin passed away recently. He was buried next to my parents who both died in 2003, January and June. I stood on the ground that covers my parents remains.

Most people once dead stay dead.

Or do we?

“25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”’

This is the question we all must ask ourselves: Do we believe this?

Jesus will show his authority over death by raising Lazarus. And it won’t be long in our reading of John before Jesus himself is put to death. But death couldn’t hold him.

The questions remain.

Who is this Jesus?

Do we believe him?

I do.

Note: yesterday I posted a picture of myself in front of my truck Rusty. Both of us, Rusty and were dead, but brought back to life. I was clinically dead after being in a car accident. With Rusty it’s s figure if speech with me it’s a fact. Miraculously I came back to life.

Jesus remembers us.

John 11

Wait, what?

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”’

There are a couple of things that happen here that make me scratch my head.

Jesus said that the sickness wouldn’t end in death but Lazarus dies. But it doesn’t end there.

Lord willing I’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

The second thing is that John mentions a thing about Mary washing and anointing Jesus’ feet as if he had already told us about it but it doesn’t get written in until the next chapter.

I have often felt that in the story of my life I only play a minor supporting role. In the credits of “Peters life, the movie” towards the end, right before they thank the caterers and the city of Ephrata there will be “and Peter Loeffelbein”.

I think lazarus’ sister Mary may have felt that way about her life but her simple act of ministering to Jesus was so well known that John could reference it before he had written it.

I think this says our service to Jesus may be more significant than we know. He remembers it all.

Do the right thing and do it for the right reason and for the right person.

Do it for Jesus. And keep doing it because he remembers it all. Keep serving him. Love people. Serve people. Keep going. He remembers it. He remembers us. It is significant.

We are significant to him.

God’s kids

I am a Father and a grandfather. My children are now having families of their own. To these little people, I am not the disciplinarian bringing the spanking spoon, I am the treats and gifts toting snuggle and play person.

It may be strange to think about this but God has no grand children. Each generation born must be born again into his family.

“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”

1 John 2:28-3:3

Each generation much choose to follow Jesus on their own. God becomes the father of my children and he is becoming the father of my Grandkids as they receive Jesus as their personal savior and give their lives to him.

Last night we had a family crisis and we prayed together with our kids but we prayed as God’s kids. We were 2 generations and yet We prayed to our Father and their Father and their children’s Father. He answered in a way that is better than I could have hoped for.

Thank you Father for hearing our prayers and answering. Thank you that you take us, each person where we are, that you forgive our mistakes and accept us into your family as your children. And thank you for loving us lavishly which includes discipline and correction.

The Rusty Story

(Throughout my blogs you may hear me refer to a truck, my truck, my 57 Chevy rust-O-ration project truck that I named Rusty. In honor of what would’ve been my Dad’s 87th birthday, I am re-posting what I think is a miraculous story, that emphasizes God’s goodness and his listening skills, his timing and his joy in blessing us, his kids. My Dad and my uncle Jerry figure prominently in this story).

img_6130img_5399This 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 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 I/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 you turn on and it takes so long to warm up the tubes and start making noise that you forget about it and jump out of your skin when it finally starts working. One draw back 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 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, 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 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. 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 (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.

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.

Dr. God

Doctor God, report to surgery. Doctor God, report to surgery.

I quote large chunks of scripture when I post. I want to show what I’m reading so it can be seen in context.

The Bible is no ordinary book. It is the very words of God. It is alive and powerful. It can heal. It can save.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

By reading his word we open ourselves up to being changed by them, changed by him, made better, healed and repaired by God as we read his word.

Who is this Jesus? He is both fully God and fully man. In the Christmas season we will sing about Emanuel, which means God with us. This God whose words can heal us has sent his son to us to be with us, live as one of us, experience our life, and live it without sinning, and then die for us to pay for all of our mistakes, misdeeds and failures.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

So far I’ve only read four chapters of Hebrews and the writer has already quoted Psalm 97 3 times. It may be become my anthem.

““Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts.”

Guess what day it is? Correct! It’s Today. What will we decide to do about Jesus today? Will we accept his gift of forgiveness today?

Dad

Dad…

DIY? There wasn’t any other way to get it done. He didn’t hire tradesmen. He was the ultimate DIYer. Plumbing, carpentry, automotive, body and fender, tree trimming, roofing, (including splitting his own Tamarac shakes) building a cabin, putting on an addition. There was one trade he wasn’t real comfortable with and that was electrical but he would still do it. He wired his shop and the addition. He wired his cabin with 12VDC. Of all the things he taught me I chose his weakness as a trade and became an electrician. But that wasn’t a conscious rebellious choice, just an opportunity.

Go to the store? No way, stores were for beer and bread. Use what you have. Dad had a lot of pieces and parts. People gave him stuff. He would take it apart and save the pieces. While working at wrecking yards, after disassembling something he would dump the hardware in a 5 gallon bucket. If dad didn’t have the hardware you needed then either it didn’t exist or you either didn’t really need it or you weren’t being creative enough.

I was recently reminded of how He became a surrogate father to Many of my and my brothers friends and who didn’t have a dad. One of my brothers friends reminisced about a trip he and my dad took to tear down a building. (Dad eventually used that lumber to build an addition onto our house).

He’s been gone for 12 years now. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was 53, he lived with that debilitating disorder until he died at 72. The last couple of years he had to be in a home to keep himself safe from himself. He was doer. He hated being incapacitated.

I don’t remember a single game I played with my dad, but I remember hundreds of projects and jobs we did together. He didn’t teach me how to to throw a baseball, still don’t know how. he did teach me how to pound a nail, cut a board on a table saw, how to turn a wrench, righty tighty lefty loose e, and a lot of other things. To stay busy, to work hard, how to not treat your wife. How to be tenacious and creative with problem solving.

I loved my dad but I didn’t know why or how best to show it until after he died.

Happy Father’s Day dad, sorry you’re not here to celebrate with a cruise in Rusty. I miss you and I’m sorry I wasted so much time while you were here. Thanks for the memories and the skills. I love you.

“…Someone must die…”

It was late at night or early in the morning. I was sitting in my 62 Mercury Comet station wagon outside my apartment. The dash lights were illuminating the inside of the car. The street light on the corner behind me dimly lit the outside.

I had blown it again. I knew the rules of Christian living. I’d spent the last 19 years in church at least once a week. I knew what the rules were. I just couldn’t keep them.

I was remorseful. I repented…again. It felt like it wasn’t just what I’d done that night. I was weighed down with what I had done on all the nights. All the nights and all the days. All the rules that I had broken. And now add one more to the pile of my sins. It felt like I was seeing it all at once. It also felt like God was sitting next to me staring at the huge pile of mess Then he asked me “what are we going to do with all of this?”

I was crying pretty hard at this point and I answered, “…I don’t know God…”

He said “Peter, someone has to pay for all of this. You know the rules, someone will have to die for all these sins…”

I said “ok” assuming he meant me.

I wiped away my tears and snot and went into my apartment and went to bed, expecting to wake up dead.

But life went on. I didn’t die, and life returned to normal.

In an animated version of my life, there would be a map of my spiritual journey and on that map would have a cartoon bubble that instead if saying, “you are here” it would say “for this someone must die”.

What did it mean that someone would have to die? How could God require a death?

Let’s look back to the beginning.

Not my beginning, but OUR beginning, the garden.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:15-17

Adam and Eve broke the only rule. They ate the forbidden fruit. They sinned and fell short of the glory of God.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:6-10

There were consequences to Adam and Eves sin. Among them was being cast out the garden.

But God did two things. First, he made a promise to them (and so also to us) while speaking to the serpent , “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15

God promised a helper, a savior. Someone who would be bruised in the fight, but that would crush or destroy Their enemy (and so our enemy) the serpent.

Second, God provided a covering for their nakedness.

“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21

Adam and Eve were covered by the skin of animals after attempting to cover themselves with plants.

Unlike the cartoon world of Wile E. Coyote, where Wile E. can unzip his skin, in the real world of Adam and Eve, (the same world we live in), the animals died to provide their skins. This is the first recorded death in creation, and it took place in order that Adam and Eves nakedness would be covered.

Sin caused Blood to be shed.

Sin must be paid for. I guess that is not entirely true. Sin doesn’t have to be paid for. But if we want to undo the damage that sin does, and the worst of the damage is the separation between us and God, we can go on without the sin being covered. If we do that, we die separated from God. Our inclination tends to be to want to even out the score. Do good stuff so we can outweigh the bad. It doesn’t work like that. We can’t pay for it with good works. Our good works, our best possible behavior appears to God looking like filthy rags.

Sin causes death, it must be paid for with a sacrificial death, life for a life.

The pattern of sacrificial death to atone for sin is throughout the old testament. We see it in Abel’s good sacrifice of the firstlings of his flock. We see it in Abraham offering Isaac and God intervening and providing the lamb. We see it in the lamb that was sacrificed on the eve of the Exodus, and then God used animal sacrifice over and over throughout the tabernacle worship that was prescribed for his people in laying out how to worship.

But I was in modern times. Animal sacrifice had faded away. Besides, God had said to me not something, but someone. Someone would have to die to pay for my sins.

My spiritual journey continued. I was trying to pay for my sins with good works and Christian service. I planned on becoming a Lutheran Pastor. Those plans were waylaid, and I was left wondering how I would ever clean up my mess. Then early one Sunday morning, I was alone in the back room of my parent’s cafe, getting breakfast for myself and my very pregnant bride and God continued our conversation that he had started sitting next to me in my car about a year earlier. I had left school to take over the café so I could support our little family. It seemed like I would never finish school and become a pastor so how could I ever right the wrongs that I had piled up?

“Peter, Your sin problem, I took care of it”.

“How God? You said someone would have to die? I’m still alive, I’ve tried to pay for it by being good and doing good, but that’s not working either, I just keep failing…..”

“Peter, I sent Jesus for you. I sent Jesus to die for your sins, it’s my gift to you and for you”.

And then he reminded me of the verses in Ephesians 2;

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10

I would later read and understand that over and over again God says in his word that he loves us so much that he sent Jesus to die in our place. From the garden and even before, he had a plan to redeem us, us his beloved fallen race.

Another of my favorite verses is in Romans chapter 5.

“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.” God has brought us reconciliation, he has restored the relationship between us and him through Jesus. That night, the night of tears, it was so hard and yet it was a stepping stone on the pathway back to my God. Jesus didn’t just die for me. He died for everyone. His one death covers all of our sins. He is waiting and wanting for all of us to return, through his gift of love, his gift of sacrifice, his gift of his own blood to cover our nakedness.

What will you do today about this gift? Will you receive it?

Jesus did not stay dead. Once his work was accomplished by his death, 3 days later he rose again and now he is busy preparing a place for us and also interceding for us. Going to his Father and now our Father and reminding him, that we are covered by his blood. Our sins are now forgiven.

There is room for all of us in his house. Will join Jesus and me in our Fathers house and in his family?