Friday, June 29, 2007

Protect them Father...

Jesus prays in John 17 for his disciples. “Protect them,” is his plea to the Father. Protect them from what? From persecution? No. He knows trouble will come from without. The world will hate his followers. That’s a given. The world hated him!

Instead of praying for physical safety, Jesus prays for spiritual shelter. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (v. 15) “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name – the name you gave me – so that they may be one as we are one.” (v. 11)

The implication is clear here isn’t it? The evil one is going to attack the church. His attacks are going to be aimed at disrupting unity.

Are you with me? The enemy of your soul and mine is out to destroy the peace of every congregation, the spirit of harmony that exists in every church. The devil would like nothing more than for you and your fellow believers to start bickering over trivial things. Satan would love to see you and your sisters grabbing and grasping for control of do-nothing committees. Groups that do nothing because they’re always at each other’s throats. Groups that cannot do anything for the kingdom of God because they’re focused on their own little fiefdoms. Lucifer would laugh out loud if you and I started squabbling over the proper songs for worship. Some churches fight about music you know?


Can you imagine? I suppose this is a slightly more important issue than, say, which way the toilet paper should roll, but…It grieves God’s heart when his children argue over such matters.

Unity in the church matters. It matters for this simple reason: unity demonstrates God’s power and brings glory to him. When God is honored in the church through loving fellowship, people are convinced that Jesus has something to offer. Peace and unity despite differing opinions is simply amazing to a watching world.

“I pray…for those who will believe in me through their message,” Jesus prayed, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (v. 20-23)

Unity is vital to the spread of God’s kingdom. No unity. No new believers.

“The church is full of hypocrites! They say one thing and do another. They bicker over stupid stuff. Why would I want to join?”

In Galatians 5:15 Paul warns, “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (NIV)

You’ve been warned. I’ve been warned.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18, NIV)

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, June 25, 2007

Love beyond reason...

"God, who needs nothing, loving into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. God did not make us because He was bored, lonely, or had run out of things to do. He created us to be the objects of His love! Sometimes our actions make us unlovely, but we are never unloved. And because God loves us - we have value. And nobody can take that value away. God's love revealed at Calvary fastens itself onto flawed creatures like us, and for reasons none of us can ever quite figure out, makes us precious and valued beyond calculation. This is love beyond reason. And this is the love with which God loves us."

- CS Lewis

Saturday, June 23, 2007

13 points...

Today's Ark Valley Swim League meet results...

Argonia - 351
Clearwater - 338
Conway Springs - 57
Mulvane - 53
Belle Plaine - 43

WE WON BY 13 POINTS!! I was so proud of our swimmers. They are the hardest working, most disciplined bunch of kids. They always do what is asked of them in practice with little or no complaining. They give their best in every race - win, place or finish.

Go Argonia! League meet is yours for the taking this year. See you Monday morning at 7:00 sharp!

Friday, June 22, 2007

On a mission...

Three teams - twenty-three high school students and nineteen accompanying adults - from our Friends churches in the midwest will be crossing the globe to minister to youth and adults in far away places over the next few weeks.

You can follow their travels via the blogosphere...

These links will open in a new window. The Alaska team is pictured above.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I checked my junk mail filter this morning. 612 emails were there for me to sort through. 612! That's ridiculous!

Listen up, all you purveyors of spam!
  • I do not want a car loan from you. I've never heard of your company.
  • I do not want to meet singles in my area. I'm happily married, thank you very much.
  • I do not want ringtones, polyphonic or otherwise, for my nonexistent cell phone.
  • I do not want pills from any pharmacy any where. If I need medication, my doctor can call the scrip in.
  • I do not want my share of the millions Barrister Whats-His-Name left for me. He doesn't even know me.
  • I do not want a larger "piano" or "pen" or anything that starts with the letter "P" for crying out loud.
  • I do not want any more of your emails! Quit sending them.

There...I feel better now. It won't do any good, but I got to vent.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Metro gnomes...

Ah, those mythical minatures that live in the underground, haunting Grand Central and Victoria Station - the Metro Gnomes. These little bearded dwarfish fellows ride the subways of the world. They can be counted them on to rescue stranded tourists and free animals trapped in the tube. Their upbeat ways make them a hit with kids and adults alike. Ask them to sing a song or play a flute to cheer you up and they'll never miss a beat.

Long live the Metro Gnomes! Tap, tap, tap, tap.

Friday, June 15, 2007

1000 miles...FINALLY!

You don't know how long I've waited for this day to arrive, the day I finally logged my 1000th mile for the year. This year's riding has been horrendous. The weather and a crazy schedule have kept me off my bike more days than usual. No sense getting hit by lightning.

So here I am almost half way through the year with way less than a third of the miles I need to meet my goal. Argh! You'll notice, too, how far behind previous years' mileage I am. Double argh!

There is hope, however. My brother-in-law is coming in a few weeks and we're planning a century ride. That will give me another 100 miles and it will motivate me to train harder.

It's time to reel in the goal.

Until we meet, Ruth...

Ruth Graham, who surrendered dreams of missionary work in Tibet to marry a suitor who became the world’s most renowned evangelist, died Thursday. She was 87.

“Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team,” Billy Graham said in a statement. “No one else could have borne the load that she carried. She was a vital and integral part of our ministry, and my work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragement and support.

“I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth, and especially for these last few years we’ve had in the mountains together. We’ve rekindled the romance of our youth, and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her terribly and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven.” Read more...

I'll be seeing you someday, Ruth. Can't wait to meet you and worship Jesus together with you for a few hundred millenia. God bless you, Billy, as you grieve. We have hope! Hang on to it!

A little "veggie world" name dropping...

Guess who emailed me today? I'll give you nine chances and the first eight don't count. Phil Vischer, creator of VeggieTales and head of Jellyfish Labs, you say? You're absolutely right. I sent a link to last week's Walk with God... post to his office and it actually made it to his desk...or is that desktop? Can you believe it?

So you're wondering what he wrote. Here's the entire text...

Thanks, Mike! Love the blog!


Isn't that cool?! I think I'll go eat a popcorn ball!

Thursday, June 14, 2007



Vocabularian at play!
Proceed with caution.

I am really gruntled opposed to dis-gruntled.
  • I'm a gruntled coach. I'm excited about the EIGHT good, coachable swimmers our swim team picked up today.
  • I'm a gruntled pastor. I love my people and talking with them lifts my spirits. They're awesome encouragers.
  • I'm a gruntled dad. My kids are crazy fun! Parties and games this week have been a blast.
  • I'm a gruntled husband. My wife is beautiful, smart, organized. What more could a guy ask for?
  • I'm a gruntled friend. Several key relationships are growing. I'm sharing more deeply and learning to trust.
  • I'm a gruntled artist. I'm having the time of my life capturing my hometown on "film" for my photoblog.

The world needs more gruntled people. So put on a smile, check your attitude at the door and look for the good things in life.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Proverbs 12:16

A fool shows his annoyance at once,
but a prudent man overlooks an insult.

I'm such a fool some days.


I discovered photoblogs this week. Here are two of my favorites so far.

Great life photos in the first. Gorgeous art on the second.

I love lizards...

My friend Thane works for an ad agency. Their website is hilarious...sort of. Their motto is: "We hate sheep!" Their explanation: "The people of [SHS*] hate sheep because they remind us of marketing that follows instead of leads. Communication that blends in."

Anyway, I got an email from buddy Thane with this disclaimer...

"We hate sheep. We also detest needless disclaimers. Our attorneys, however, inform us that the following mouse type is essential for protecting our bacon. And we love bacon. So make yourself comfortable, and let's get this over with. This email and any attachments may contain confidential and privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately by return email, delete this email and destroy any copies. Any dissemination or use of this information by a person other than the intended recipient is unauthorized and may be illegal."

That got me to thinking randomly. Hmm. What kind of disclaimer do I need for my email and blog messages? Here's what I came up with...

"I love lizards. I also enjoy a needless disclaimer or two per day. They make me smile. My attorney - I don't really have one - has informed me that the following small print is necessary to save my "lizard" skin, so here goes. This email (or blog post) and any attachments (or comments) may contain crazy and entirely random information. If you are not able to deal with nuttiness, please do not read what I have written. You may notify the sender (that's me) by return email that you think I'm absolutely insane. I don't care. I love lizards. You may delete this email and destroy any copies if you want...or you may disseminate it freely. You don't have to be authorized to do so. I doubt it's illegal."

(The art work is mine. The original scan of the rubber lizard that sits on my desk at work is at the top. The other two are digital "remixes" of the same images. I use them as desktop wallpaper all the time.)

*I left out the name of the company in case they don't like people quoting them. SHS would be an accurate abbreviation of their name.

Monday, June 11, 2007

On oxen and ditches...

Jesus spoke about the ox in the ditch on the Sabbath. But if your ox gets in the ditch every Sabbath, you should either get rid of the ox or fill up the ditch.

Guest Blogger, Billy (the Graham guy)

Thought this was pretty good! See you in church Sunday!

Weird beard...

I ran across this on MSNBC's photoblog today. It's from the International German Beard Growing Championships in Schoemberg, Germany. Crazy!

No chain...

Legend has it that when George Hincapie was having an especially good day during the Tour de France, he'd look at buddy Lance and, with a smile, say, "No chain!" Huh? What he meant - I read about these things - is that he felt so strong it was like there was no chain, no resistance. He was ready to push the other teams to their limit.

If I had a buddy, I would've turned to him today and said, "No chain!" I felt ridiculously strong today. I knew it was going to be a good day from the moment I left the driveway at 5:40 this morning. My legs responded when I asked them to sprint up to speed and they kept giving all ride long. I rode just over 15 miles at 18.9mph. (Remember this is with a heavy bike, almost a mountain bike.) My average heart rate was a low 156bpm. It was a blast. Too bad I didn't have anyone to share it with.

"P.J., my friend, where are you? I've got no chain!"

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Where's Mikey?

We're cleaning house. I mean REALLY cleaning house. Taking things off shelves. Getting rid of things that we'll never use. We have quite a pile in the corner of our basement ready for a garage sale..."some day." While we were cleaning the "blue room," my wife handed me a stack of pictures. My junior high and high school camp pictures! I found myself, my brother, two of my cousins and a few friends in this one from 1981. See if you can find me...and if you know any of the others, find them too. Good luck. (I'd recommend clicking on the picture so it's a bit larger.)

Friday, June 8, 2007

Walk with God...

Noah built the ark. He and his family entered the boat. God shut the door. "It rained and poured for forty day-sies, day-sies." The entire population of the earth, save those on board the ark, was wiped out by the world-wide flood that resulted. Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth and their wives alone were saved along with hundreds of animals, two of each kind.

When the water receded and the ship rested on Ararat, Noah stepped out on dry ground and worshiped God. And God honored Noah with a promise. He made a vow to his friend that he wouldn’t wipe out the earth by flood again. He put a rainbow in the sky to remind him for all time of his promise. He said he’d see it and show mercy.

That's the familiar part of the story, the part every kids picture book tells.

But there's more to the story. Noah life wasn't all ship-building. He lived for a little over 500 years before God stopped by and made him a shipwright. He spent 80 or 90 years building his gopher-wood life boat and then sailed the "high" seas in it for only just over a year. He exited the ark and lived 350 more years, dying at the ripe old age of 950. The popular part of Noah's biography covers a relatively short period of his life, about one ninth, maybe a tenth, of his years on earth.

Do you know what Noah did during the 500 plus years that he lived before God commanded him to build the ark? No songs have been written about this part of his life. No storybooks tell the tale, but the Bible does tell us what he did with his first five centuries. Any guesses? The answer is this: Noah walked with God. That's it.

Genesis 6:9 , "Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God." (NIV)

500 plus years of life condensed to one sentence.

Noah walked with God. Do you understand what that means?

During the summer, my wife and I often take walks in the evening. We follow the same route most nights, looping around the north half of town. Occasionally we do a down-and-back to the River Park . While we're walking, we talk. We catch up on what's new with each other. We work through problems. We share feelings. We plan days to come. It's a very pleasant and profitable time.

Walking with God is very much like that I think. It's living life in constant communication with the lover of our souls. That's who he is, you know? God loves us. He sent his Son, Jesus, to die for us so we could have a relationship with him. And so he loves it when we walk with him - catching up on what's new, working through problems, sharing feelings, planning days to come.

Let me quote just a little bit of Phil Vischer's post-VeggieTales story from his book, Me, Myself, & Bob.

These are the words he uses to describe his life after weeks of struggling with God, wondering why his Father had let Big Idea go under. They reflect the change that came over Phil after hours of reading God's word and praying, after Phil finally died to himself and his dreams and yielded to God.

"…I heard myself say to my wife one night, 'I don't want to write anything.' I was ready to be done, if that's what God wanted. To just rest in him and let everything else fall away. At long last, after a lifetime of striving, God was enough. Not God and impact or God and ministry. Just God.

"And then, a few weeks later, something interesting happened. I was lying in bed, pondering a spiritual truth that God has impressed upon me. Hmm, I thought, I should write that down and save it for a speaking opportunity. But then suddenly the lesson sprang to life in my head, not as a sermon, but as a story about two pigs in business suits who, though they live right next door, don't know each other's names. Within an hour the whole story was clear in my head. I walked to my office the next day and, a few hours later, had the finished text for a picture book based on a story so simple, yet capturing such a deep spiritual truth that the first time I read it to my wife, she cried. And I thought, 'Oh…is this how it’s going to work now?'" (p. 246)

Noah walked with God. Phil is learning to do the same. Are you ready to give up your striving and join them? God is enough. Stop running ahead. Walk.

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

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Super robot to the rescue...

Just felt like drawing a robot. Don't ask me why.

Used to do this all the time when I was in junior and senior high. Drawing with a mouse is much more difficult than pen and ink.

Maybe I'll draw something and scan it later...Maybe not!

Hmmm...I wonder if I could find any of my old drawings.


I ran across this crazy KookyChow site while poking through the "Big Idea Alumni" page on Phil Vischer's (founder and creator of VeggieTales) blog the other day. It's certainly interesting.

I'll warn you...if you have a weak stomach, don't go here. Some of the "regrettable edibles" that Brian Ballinger posts on his site sound and look a bit...hmmmmmmmmm...odd. All are from his collection of strange canned delights.

"Yummmmmmmmmmmmy! Pass the pickled pig lips please!"

(If you're still hungry after this site, click on over to

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Fair fights...

Another installation for the Indiana Yearly Meeting newsletter...

Good Morning!

Three weeks after her wedding day, Joanna called her minister in hysterics. "Pastor," she cried, "John and I had our first fight together! It was awful. What am I going to do?" "Calm down, Joanna," her pastor answered, leaning back in his chair and shaking his head. "This isn't nearly as bad as you think. Every marriage has to have its first fight. It's natural." "I know, I know," Joanna said impatiently. "But what am I going to do with the body?"

I’ve never had a fight of this magnitude with my wife, but learning to fight well is something upon which we are continually working. “Fighting” – or processing conflict – is something that doesn’t come naturally for me. For a long time I felt that a healthy marriage implied the lack of conflict. I now believe that I was wrong. I’ve come to believe that healthy marriages should have their share of conflict that is processed in a helpful manner – “fair fights!” In fact I’ve been known to follow my wife through the house insisting that I care enough about her to resolve an issue that is causing concern in our relationship.

Has your church learned the fine art of having “fair fights?” In fair fights we seek to win an understanding, not an argument. In fair fights we attack the problem not a person. Fair fights are characterized by open communication in appropriate settings, not telephone campaigns full of innuendos and suspicion. Quakers should be good at resolving conflicts, not burying them. Friends, let’s learn to fight the good fight!

Guest Blogger, Doug

Friday, June 1, 2007

They're back...

Years ago my brother introduced me to the craziest game... Chicken Invaders. Soon afterwards, I found CI2 and CI2 Christmas Edition.

Today I discovered the third installment of the game...Revenge of the Yolk! (It has a Christmas version too.) Scary! Cluck, cluck, cluck.

Unfortunately, the folks (or is that yolks?) at Interaction Studios have figured us cheap guys out. The demo is not "everlasting" as in the past. You get to play for 60 minutes and then you have to pay. Boo hoo!

Of course, you can still download and play the demos of CI1 and CI2 (both versions) for free and play for hours...hmmm!