Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Rolled bold...

Today was a beautiful day - 65 degrees, a light westerly breeze at 7 to 10mph, plenty of sunshine. A cyclist couldn't ask for much more.

I rolled out on my bike around 12:15pm after a longer-than-expected-but-much-needed visit across town. I began slowly, taking it easy, gradually getting up to speed. I had been experiencing knee pain over the past week or so and remembered reading somewhere that knee pain is sometimes associated with a too-low saddle. So I was, at the beginning of the ride, testing my new height.

A mile or so into my ride, I felt great, so I cranked it up a bit. I covered ground at a pretty good clip, ending my ride out at a 16.1mph average.

My ride back was fast. I only once, maybe twice, dropped below 20mph, over the 8 plus miles. I maxed out on the descent of L'Alpe Danville at 35.9mph, a bold red speed. As I neared Drouhard Hill, I realized that double bold red was within reach. My average was around 17.5mph as I pushed over the crest of the hill and began racing down its slope. I was at 17.7mph at the bottom and the numbers continued to climb. I hit double bold red around the county line and kept gaining all the way home, ending with an 18.3mph average.

I'm still way behind my goal. I'm talking almost 300 miles behind. But today was a good day. My fastest of the year and in the top 20 all time for me and my Sedona. Can't wait for warmer weather and new records. My current record average (not counting two 20+mph with-the-wind-only rides) is 19.7mph. It's going to fall sometime this year if I have anything to say about it.

Wake up legs! It's time to start flying!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I know temptation is hard to deal with. I think, in part, it’s because it has so much variety.

Sometimes it’s loud and brash. “Come on!” it calls. “It’ll be fun! Everyone’s doing it!” Other times it’s quiet and seductive. “Just this once,” it whispers. “No one will know. You know you want to.” On occasion it’s proud and rebellious. “Who says you can’t?” it questions. “It’s your life. Do what you want with it.” And the next time it’s subtle and disarming. “Is that really what God meant?” it asks. “Surely that’s not what he was forbidding. That makes no sense.”

Resisting is tough when the tricks are so…tricky. But listen. You have help. You are not alone in this fight. God is your shield and strength. He says so in his word.

Take a look at what Paul has to say in 1 Corinthians 10. Verse 13 offers encouragement from beginning to end. “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV)

What do we learn about temptation here?

First, Paul says, “We’re all in this together.” We’re all tempted in the same ways. The struggle against sin you’re dealing with is nothing new. In the past, others have dealt with it and won. Right now, your brothers in Christ, your sisters, are fighting the same battle. No temptation you face is unique to you. Look at the Bible. You’ll find your heroes tempted in the same ways you are. Listen to your friends. You can relate to their battles.

Every human being is tempted. Even Jesus, when he walked this earth as a man, was tempted. Look at what the writer of Hebrews says about our savior and friend.

Hebrews 2:18, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (NIV)

Hebrews 4:14-16, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (NIV)

Jesus knows. He understands. He sympathizes. And he is faithful. That’s what the next part of verse 13 says. Read it again. God is faithful. And he shows it in this way. He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. Notice the emphatic verbs. He WILL NOT allow Satan to push you too far. Friends, I don’t know of many truths more reassuring than this one. God knows what you can bear. Why? Because Jesus has been tempted. He’s telling the Father when enough is enough. That’s the truth. Celebrate it every day. Remember it when the pressure’s on.

Not only does God know our limits, he provides an escape. That’s his promise to every believer. The devil cannot tempt you in anyway that God hasn't already thought of and planned for.

Sexual temptation. He has an evacuation route planned and ready for use. Enticement to hate. He’s made an escape hatch for that, too. Pressure to conform to the world’s standards. God has contingency plans for quick extrication of his children in emergency situations.

When the heat is on, start looking around. There’s a door marked exit close at hand. Dive through it when it appears.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Welcome to the freak show...

My family! They just can't help themselves. They've got to make faces when they're on a video call. My brother and sister-in-law in Russia had to get in on the action when they saw my nephews in Monsters in the family...

Here they are in all their gory glory. Not sure that's the proper way to say it, but it works for me. Remember, I'm a vocabularian. I can use words in whatever way pleases me or I can make up a word if none exist to say what I want to say.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Night of the Living Oops

I said Saturday, in Night of the Living Conclusion, that Night of the Living Celery, my vegetable-infested murder mystery was nearing completion. "Another chapter," I wrote, "and a quick review for errors and Night will hit the web."

My quick review has turned into a complete overhaul. I discovered that I was missing an entire day in the narrative - Oops! - and have had to add numerous chapters to remedy the omission. How do you miss a day? you ask. You just get carried away with the story and - hiccup - the mistake is made.

So, it will be a few more days before chapter one appears on this blog. I have to finish writing...again. Then I have to edit...again. At least this time, I know that all the days are there and in the proper order. I've checked. It'll be other mistakes that I catch in my next review. Argh!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The books have eyes...

It's odd, is it not, that over the past few months, two books have come into my family's possession, both of which stare at us unblinkingly. The first, Ted Dekker's The Slumber of Christianity, tried on my glasses one day while I was working. The second, Secret Keeper, by Dannah Gresh, took over my daughter's face while visiting Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Have you seen other books with "vision" out there? Or maybe with mouths! Send me your pictures. Make them eeiry like these.

"The books have eyes!"

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Night of the Living Conclusion

The suspense is killing me. I'm ready to begin chapter 29 of Night of the Living Celery. The last few chapters have been full of action. My heart has been racing as I write. This chapter, the penultimate, will bring the narrative to a dramatic conclusion. Another chapter, number 30, and a quick review for errors and Night will hit the web. Hope you enjoy it.

Once chapter 1 is posted, be sure to check back daily for new installments in the serial. It'll be a chapter a day for a month unless I'm feeling ornery and make you wait more than a day once in a while. Spring break might just hit in the middle of a crisis.

Sorry, no more spoilers.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Monsters in the family...

My crazy nephews in Iowa have a habit of pointing their webcam at the computer screen while they're talking with me. The results are frightening. (See Scary me!)

Just as terrifying are the pictures I get when their video pixelates on my end. There are monsters in my family! At least one zombie and one cyborg!

More love...

"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." (1 Corinthians 8:1, NIV)

I had just flipped on the radio in the car when that verse came out of the mouth of some preacher on FM 94.3 the other day. I hadn’t thought of those words in who knows how long. I wasn’t expecting them at all when I punched preset four. But there they were and there God was, speaking his word to me. I jabbed the power button, silencing the radio, snatched up a notebook and, keeping one eye on the road, scribbled down two short sentences after the words of the verse and a partial reference.

"Enough knowledge! People need more love!"

I remembered that incident this week and, after checking the wrong notebook first, found my note on a slip of paper at the back of my planner.

"Enough knowledge!"

That’s not an anti-intellectual rant. Trust me, I believe every Jesus follower needs more knowledge of God’s word. I encourage you to study Scripture more, not less. Go to Sunday School. Join a Bible study group. Listen to faithful teachers and preachers. You need to understand what God says about creation and salvation and right living. You need God’s opinion on sin, not your own. You need his views on life, not your friend’s. You need the truth.

Ignorance is not bliss. In spiritual matters it’s dangerous. Those with little knowledge of the Bible are easily swayed by religious shysters and their bent theologies. They are readily deceived by naturalistic scientists and their hole-ridden theories. They are quickly confused by worldly philosophers and their far out teachings. They are unwittingly distracted by know-it-all celebrities and their twisted views of morality. Just because Oprah says it’s so doesn’t make so.

Know what God says. Test everything anyone else tells you against his truth. Examine the Scriptures like the Bereans did. (See Acts 17.) Make sure that what is said is true. Don’t blindly trust my words. Check out what I say.

Now you know what I don’t mean by "enough knowledge!" Let me tell you what I do mean.

I’m saying enough to the kind of knowledge that causes religious folks to smirk at the downfall of sinners. I’m denouncing the kind of knowledge that causes church people to write off their pagan neighbors as unsalvageable. I’m condemning the kind of knowledge that causes Bible-toters to think too highly of themselves. The Pharisees and teachers of the law in Jesus’ day had this kind of knowledge. They were overbearing, hateful, haughty, judgmental men. They only loved those who agreed with their views on the law 100%. Rule followers. Whistle blowers. They only hung out with those as "holier-than-thou" as themselves. Fault finders. Finger pointers. They saw the law and their manmade traditions as clubs to bludgeon miscreants with, not as shepherd’s crooks with which they could gently redirect wandering sheep.

Does your knowledge of God’s word cause you to repent of your own sin or point out the failings of your neighbor? Does your knowledge of Jesus’ teachings cause you to plead for mercy or call down fire from heaven on others? Does your knowledge of the Bible cause you to humbly kneel before God or proudly look down on the lost?


"More love!"

Shall I start with what I’m not saying again? I believe with all my heart that Jesus’ followers must judge sin as sin. I am not encouraging you to pussy-foot around touchy issues. Gossip is an abomination. Rage is loathsome. Abortion is murder. Pride comes before destruction. Homosexuality is damnable. Idolatry, including greed, is sin. Coveting brings condemnation. I could go on, but this isn’t a message about specific sins. I just want to make sure this point is made clear: wickedness in all its various forms are not overlooked by love. Love does not cancel knowledge. Love changes its aim.

Jesus is the best example of what this love looks like. While our love will never measure up to his, we can learn from him. And trusting him for help, we can grow to be more like him. We can have more love for our families, our friends, our neighbors, even our enemies.
Watch him as our Master as he loves properly.

"At dawn [Jesus] appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.

"‘In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

"But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’

"Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

"Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’

"‘No one, sir,’ she said.

"‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’" (NIV)

More love. Love confronts those who judge others, but do not deal with their own sins. Love forgives those who sin, even those who sin grievously. Love does not condemn sinners, rather it commands them to leave their sin.

"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."

Time for another heart check. Do you love others enough to gently correct their wrongdoing? Do you love others enough to forgive them when they repent? Do you love others enough to urge them to leave their lives of sin?

I close with these words from the beginning of Galatians 6. "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (v. 1-NIV)

That’s the proper balance between knowledge and love. Know God’s word. Restore gently. Watch yourself. Carry each other’s burdens.

To receive my once or twice weekly message via email and join the "webmessage" discussion group, send a blank email to Past messages (there are well over 100) are available at

Monday, February 12, 2007

Night of the Living Delay

It's almost done. Really. A few more chapters and some serious editing and Night of the Living Celery, a veggie-chilling murder mystery, will be ready for consumption. It's nearing its climax now, but chapter one won't be posted on the 13th as I had hoped. I won't make any more release date predictions, but it shouldn't be long.

Here's a little more from the story to tide you over...

"I wonder," Herb began, but he was interrupted.

"Sir!" came a voice from his radio. "I found that green onion."

"Parsley?! That you?" Herb was surprised the man had found the runaway store clerk so quickly. "Where are you?"

"I’m two blocks east of your location," came the reply. "Hazel and Filbert. I followed the smell. Onions really stink when they’re sweating."

That's all for now. Happy waiting!

Friday, February 9, 2007

Scary me!

I was talking with my nephew in Iowa, the one who was bugging me about finishing up Night of the Living Celery, on Skype and he (or maybe it was his brother) pointed their webcam at the monitor. The picture you see here was the result. Frightening. I look like a monster from some freak show with blood dripping from my lips after a kill. The effect is better with a bigger file, but hey! I'm probably the only one who cares two hoots about this post anyway.

(Okay, I did a little editing to emphasize the eyebrows and teeth, but otherwise what you see is what we got.)

I can only imagine...

Imagine heaven. Pause before the gates of pearl. Look at the sparkling foundations, bejeweled and bright. The walls, the streets, you see them – pure gold, transparent as glass. Enter now and bow before God’s throne. See the sparkling emerald rainbow encircling your King. Gaze at the dazzling beauty of the crystal sea. Can you see it? Now taste! Drink the cool, clear water of life. Feel it splashing your feet, soothing them as you dip your cupped hands in the river’s rushing flow for another draught. Savor the succulent fruit from the tree of life, no longer guarded by angels with fiery swords.

And now see Jesus as he comes to you. Can you can see his face? His eyes. Look! They’re dancing as they gaze at you. He’s in love, smitten. Your heart is undone. What do you do? What can you say?

“Surrounded by your glory what will my heart feel? Will I dance for you, Jesus or in awe of you be still? Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine.” *

And I will. Will you? Find joy in your glorious inheritance today. Imagine!

* I Can Only Imagine, Words & Music by Bart Millard / ©1999 Simpleville Music

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Thursday, February 8, 2007


Oatmeal Waffle Haiku

Waffles are tasty.
Oatmeal makes them really good.
Try this recipe.

Oatmeal Waffles

1 1/2 cup Quick Cooking Oats
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Buttermilk
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Egg

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or measuring cup. Pour into preheated waffle iron. Take the waffles out when the steam stops coming out the size...or, if you're blogging and not paying attention, until a distinct burnt waffle smell reaches your nostrils. Top with butter, peanut butter, honey, syrup or whatever floats your boat. My favorite is peanut butter and syrup. Happy eating! (You can recite the haiku above as you make these delicious oatmeal waffles...or you can just make the waffles and be uncouth.)

By the way, you can make your own buttermilk by adding a little vinegar to regular milk and you can make your own syrup by combining equal amounts of water, brown sugar and sugar in a glass measuring cup and microwaving it until it boils then adding maple flavoring.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The ultimate glorious rescue...

How Great Is Our God
Chris Tomlin

The splendor of the King,
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice,
All the earth rejoice

He wraps himself in light,
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at his voice,
And trembles at his voice

How great is our God,
Sing with me
How great is our God,
and all will see
How great, How great
Is our God

Age to age he stands
And time is in His Hands
Beginning and the End,
Beginning and the End

The Godhead, Three in one
Father, Spirit, Son
The Lion and the Lamb,
The Lion and the Lamb

How great is our God,
Sing with me
How great is our God,
and all will see
How great, How great
Is our God

Name above all names
Worthy of our praise
My heart will sing
How greatIs our God

How great is our God,
Sing with me
How great is our God,
and all will see
How great, How great
Is our God

How great is our God,
Sing with me
How great is our God,
and all will see
How great, How great
Is our God

Copyright 2004 Songs/sixsteps Music/ASCAP (adm. by EMI CMG Publishing)/ Alletrop Music/BMI

We sang this song at my 49-year-old brother's memorial service last November. At the time, I saw it as a great testimony to my sister-in-law's faith. Here she was asking us to "sing with me...our God is GREAT."

Later as I meditated over the words, God gave me another picture of what happened with my brother. You see, he was found after being lost in the remote mountains of Montana after 36 hours, having died of hypothermia. All my broken heart could imagine is the darkness of that night and what he must have gone through.

And then I really studied those words one night during Worship Choir practice: "He wraps himself in light and darkness tries to hide and trembles at his voice." I had a picture in my mind of God coming down on the mountain for a stroll, meeting my brother there and saying, "Gordon, it's late and my home is closer than yours. why don't you come to my house tonight," taking him by the hand and leading him to heaven. But the scene was dark and cold and awful. Then I saw it.

When God came, there must have been light. Now when I think of that awful time on the mountain, I can see my brother, bathed in the light of God's presence, perhaps even angels attending near by. It wasn't could it have been if God was there! Then the words: "from age to age he stands and time is in his hand, the beginning and the end." and I envisioned God standing there, with Gordon's beginning (birthday) and his end (death) and he knew it all. we just didn't know. God knew!

That night at the end of practice, Brian, our worship pastor read the benediction he would give on Easter, which was in a few weeks. "So then, may you go out from this place blessed because he is present with you, strong because he is powerful in you, joyful in trouble, faithful in testing. May you be witnesses to His truth and carry his glorious rescue into this day and every tomorrow. For by His power you have been raised to walk in a new way of life."

The words "glorious rescue" jumped out at me. At first I think of how great it would have been for Gordon to have experienced the "glorious rescue." I can only imagine and smile as I think of the story he would be telling on Easter, telling his story as only Gordon can tell a story! How he loved a good story. And it makes me sad. Yet, I know the phrase is referring to a spiritual glorious rescue.

Then it comes to me - Gordon has experienced the ULTIMATE glorious rescue.

God wrapping himself in light
As he comes calling Gordon's name.
The darkness trying to hide.
The darkness trembling at His voice.
And God standing there from age to age
With time held in his hands.
Holding the beginning (of Gordon's life) in one hand
AndThe end (of Gordon's life) in the other hand.
He sees both the beginning
AND the end.
And the best thought of all, My little brother experiencing
The Ultimate Glorious Rescue!

Guest Blogger, Carol

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Cribaby haiku...

I thought you might enjoy the haiku that were written during recent Cribaby games.

I love God and friends.
My sisters are weird...duh!
Sisters are fun...duh!

A whale is fishy,
But he is not a zebra.
Therefore, he is good.

Some lamps are yellow,
but my fingers can touch them.
All lamps are bright! Yeah!

Bree Bree move your feet,
Because I do not like stink.
So Bree move your feet.

Five syllables...duh!
Not seven syllables...arg!
But five syllables.


Two of my children made up a game the other day - Cribaby. I played it tonight for the first time. It was a blast.

Cribaby was originally played with a deck of cards and scored on a cribbage board, but you can play it without the board and just mark points on a piece of paper. The score isn't the point anyway. If you play with a cribbage board the object is to move your peg to the end first. (This could take a very long time.) If you use the paper method, you can quit when you want to. If you're in charge (like if you're the parent), you can do this when you are ahead. Oh, but, of course, the score isn't the point.

Anyway here are the rules to Cribaby...

The first person draws a card, making sure no one else can see it, and states outloud what card has been drawn. Simple right?

The person to the draw-er's left then does what is required according to the rules below.

If you draw...

A = Do a short one man play.
2 = Make a speech about the importance of dairy products.
3 = Lift the oldest player or the next to oldest if you are the oldest.
4 = Roar like a lion, then sing Mary Had a Little Lamb.
5 = Mime being a preacher.
6 = Pretend you are a piece of prairie grass in the wind.
7 = Write a haiku.*

8 = Stare 10 seconds at a light, then say knee deep deep knee 5 times fast.
9 = Sing a song of your choice.

10 = Draw an animal. If a person guesses it, both of you get a point.
J = Do some ballerina moves. (Please note this is moves. It's plural.)
Q = Recite a nursery rhyme. If you don't know one, too bad.
K = Choose one of the previous actions to do.
Joker = Lose a turn.

If the player to the draw-er's left performs the required action, they receive one point. There is one exception. If the card drawn was a spade, the actor (that's the person who did the action) loses a point. You may pass at any time if you think the card is a spade, but you must do so before beginning the required feat. At the end of each turn, the draw-er reveals the card drawn then passes the deck to the player to his or her left. That person then becomes the draw-er and play continues to the left.

Any questions? We've never played this game without laughing hysterically. Try it!

*A haiku is a poem of 3 lines. The first line has 5 syllables, the second 7syllables, the third 5 syllables. They aren't supposed to rhyme, but who cares? (See Heavenly haiku..., Cribaby haiku... and Waffles... for examples.)

Friday, February 2, 2007

Heavenly haiku...

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)

What is Jesus like?
I see him now - fuzzy, blurred.
I will see clearly.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Eyes see little here.
Lasting things are beyond them.
Look with your spirit.

"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." (2 Corinthians 5:1)

Take down the tent, Lord -
As soon as you are ready,
You can take me home.

"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, and his incomparably great power for us who believe." (Ephesians 1:18-19)

Wake up and look, saint!
You've been called to know hope now!
Your riches are nigh.

"One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)

What's in my past - done.
I'm running to reach the goal.
The finish line calls.

"The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Do you hear the horn?
God's bugler is warming up.
Dead man! Wait! Hear! Rise!

"The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (2 Timothy 4:18)

I will be rescued.
You may not see it at all.
When death comes, I'm safe.

"In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:3-4)

They're kept in heaven.
Nothing can harm my riches.
I'm an heir of God.

"Jesus Christ...has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him." (1 Peter 3:21-22)

At his Father's right,
Power unthinkable his.
All in submission.

"...the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne..." (Revelation 4:10)

Crowns thrown to the ground.
Worthless head gear is made naught.
God alone is King.

"I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!' The four living creatures said, 'Amen,' and the elders fell down and worshiped." (Revelation 5:13-14)

Every creature bows.
Not one stands before the Lamb.
Sing they all - face down.

"...there were loud voices in heaven, which said: 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.'" (Revelation 11:15)

Eternal ruler,
Conquering earth at long last.
Jesus is in charge.

"I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne..." (Revelation 14:2-3)

My voice warms up here.
It grows weary much too fast.
Lasting praise...can't wait!

"[God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4)

You cannot weep here.
Nothing at all can harm you.
Tears are no more - gone.

Seeing is...

There's a borrowed webcam sitting on top of my monitor today - a weird-looking, all-seeing eye. It kind of scares me when I catch it staring my way...but I love it.

I love it because when I talked with my niece and nephew in Russia this morning, they squealed with delight. "There's Uncle Mike!" they shouted. I saw their smiles when I asked them silly questions. That wasn't unusual. I've seen them on their webcam before, but this time they saw my smile...and my silly faces. When they laughed, their faces came alive. Mine lit up too. And they saw it. Much better than one-at-a-time-please phone calls with disembodied voices or, worse, text on chat. Even if the picture is
a herky-jerky, time-lapsed, blurry, grainy mess at times, it's live and two-way.

I think I'll miss this spherical wonder when I have to return it to its owner Sunday. We're doing a live interview with our Russian missionaries at the beginning of our church service. Pray the technology works. The church will see a family at home talking about God's work in their lives. That family, my brother's, will see their friends smiling.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

At the gates...

Two guest bloggers in one day! I've been waiting for this story for about a week. Names and details have been changed to protect my friends serving in a "closed" nation. (They did the editing themselves.)

My husband Bob and I are missionaries in the southern plains of Nepal. Not too long ago, Bob came across a woman with leprosy who was living in a straw hut on the outskirts of our village. The winter weather was unusually cold and he saw that this women had only a thin cotton sari wrapped about herself.

The next day Bob brought the woman a blanket and then asked her if she would go with him to a leprosy hospital run by Christians. The woman said she would go and so plans were made to rent a jeep to take her to the Leprosy Hospital.

In our area of Nepal, if a jeep is rented, it is then packed full of occupants all eager for a ride. So Bob, along with as many of our church leaders as could fit, crammed into a jeep to take the woman and one other person with leprosy to the hospital for treatment.

It was a Friday and upon reaching the gates of the leprosy hospital the jeep was stopped by the guard and Bob was told that Fridays were half days for the hospital and so everything was closed. There was so much disappointment that if you would have been there, you might have heard even the jeep itself moan! It had taken a lot of effort to organize the trip and so right when the goal seemed to be within reach, everyone’s hopes were dashed!

Bob then told the guard that the hospital’s director knew who he was and he asked if he could call the director on the phone and talk to him. Our people leaned forward in hopeful anticipation. Could Bob get them through the gates or not?! The guard inspected Bob. He had a scarf wrapped around his head like only Dehati people wear. (Dehati is a name given to people who live in Nepal’s plains and who have a distinctly Indian-type culture.) The guard, who was of higher standing in society than a Dehati person, adamantly shook his head and said that there was no way he was going to disturb the hospital director after hours.

Bob then asked the guard if he would call a certain pastor whom
he knew worked at the hospital. The guard granted him that request and the pastor was called. After a short conversation on the phone, the pastor appeared at the front gates and, upon seeing Bob, he smiled broadly and said that the hospital director had been wanting to meet him for a long time. Dumbfounded the guard allowed Bob and his jeep to pass.

As they drove up to the director’s residence, our church leaders were giggling with joy. They were truly impressed that Bob had managed to get them inside of the hospital compound to see the director on a day off. As Bob went inside to visit with the hospital director, our people and the two lepers were directed into the clinic so that medical tests could be given to the two possible patients. Our people were awed by the cleanliness of the hospital and how professionally things were run.

Ram, one of our church workers, couldn’t resist joking around a little bit. He puffed out his chest and threw his shoulders and arms back and starting strutting around, acting like a big shot. All the rest of our people started laughing. Then Ram sat down and crossed his legs in grand fashion and pretended as if a servant was running to him to serve his every wish and whim. When he did this, the hospital doctors and patients also saw him and laughed at his antics.

Then Bob showed up and said that the director had invited everyone over to his house. Immediately Ram forgot about his acting and everyone got up to go visit with the director. They were a bit taken a back. The director wanted to visit with them also??

At the door of the director’s house our people started taking off their shoes before going inside, but the director assured them that it was perfectly fine to come inside with their shoes on. After visiting with our leaders for a short time, the director got up to go get tea and cake for them. Again our guys were stunned at such a show of hospitality for ordinary people like themselves, who in Nepalese society would be considered on the lower end of the spectrum.

After the director left, Ram again went back to his acting. He was even a bigger shot now because he had walked into the director’s house with his shoes on. (In the culture of the area, one is to take one’s shoes off in the presence of important people upon entering their house and in older culture if a person was very important one even left his shoes in the yard before approaching the house.) So it is understandable why it was such a privilege for our church leaders to leave their shoes on. Ram was thoroughly enjoying himself doing his "big man" routine and so all our people again started giggling and trying to suppress their laughter. When the tea and cake came they all straightened back up again.

After hearing this tale, from those who were there, I couldn’t help thinking about a similar scenario. That scenario is when each of us has to approach heaven’s door. You know, when we get to the pearly gates of heaven and from the outside we see some of its magnificence, we will be in a similar situation as our village church leaders found themselves. As we stand at the gates of the Kingdom of God, we will probably wonder how insignificant people such as ourselves could ever rate to be able to enter into the light of heaven’s splendor.

At the gates the angel guard will ask us, "What makes you think you can enter into heaven?"

At that time we will reply, "We know God!"

Then the angel guard will say, "Everyone says they know God. That is not a good enough reason to let you pass!"

Then we will have to say, "Well, talk to Jesus. He knows us and he will confirm to you that God knows who we are!"

So then the angel guard will call Jesus and when he arrives a bright smile will be on his face. Upon seeing us, Jesus will say, "Welcome into My Father’s Kingdom. He’s been expecting you!"

What joy will be ours as we pass through heaven’s gates into heaven itself. I think we will experience so much joy that we will not be able to contain ourselves. And when God the Father summons us into His throne room, and only at that time, we will fully realize what an awesome privilege it is for us to be one of His children! That God would accept the likes of us, because we accepted His Son, will truly be a humbling experience. We will see that even the poorest beggar who believes in Jesus will have all the rights of God’s beloved children! Hallelujah!!

Guest Blogger, Debbie

On The Slumber of Christianity

This is from my brother! (The guinea pig is not his.) He and his wife Christy are missionaries in Russia under the care and supervision of Northwest Yearly Meeting. They are, as I post this, writing for the Daily Journal on Barclay Press' website. This is one of their entries. Barclay Press is the publishing arm of Evangelical Friends International. (That's enough links to keep you busy for for the message.)

A couple weeks ago, my brother, Mike, recommended that I read a book called The Slumber of Christianity by Ted Dekker. Although we don’t have a Christian bookstore that would carry such a book, I was able to find an audio version of the book online, so I downloaded it immediately. I listened to the book on the many recent train rides to and from Moscow until it was finished. It was a great book in every way . . . except that it’s now stirring a change within me that makes me uncomfortable. It’s a good kind of change, but a change nonetheless. Change almost always causes at least some discomfort, even if it is a desired change.

Ted Dekker encourages us to look at everything in the light of eternity. This has helped me to see the futility of some of my activities. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” I have a habit that I often take too far, watching movies. I thoroughly enjoy escaping to another world for a couple hours at a time before returning to the real world. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not saying that I suddenly think watching movies is a sin, but if given a choice, I’d rather watch a movie than study Russian or clean the toilet or even go to bed. For me, watching movies can sometimes hinder me from devoting myself to things that could improve my ability to minister, something that matters far more in the light of eternity than a couple hours of personal enjoyment.

Paul often refers to faith as running a race. Thus, yesterday’s second verse, I Corinthians 9:24: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” I’ve been asking myself a tough question: “What is the goal of my life and faith?” Isn’t it all about eternity, heaven? Isn’t that the prize? Paul was concerned about being disqualified (I Corinthians 9:27), so why shouldn’t I? Therefore, I MUST “throw off everything that hinders” (Hebrews 12:1). That’s not comfortable, but it’s wonderful that, in spite of my tendency toward the things of this world, God is still not finished with me yet. He loves me so much, beyond my wildest imagination!

Guest Blogger,
Patrick (I just had to add another link!)