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Pastoral Thoughts

It’s Going to Be Okay!

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
– David, Psalm 27:1

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. 
Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 

– Jesus, Matthew 10:28

I want to offer up a few words of encouragement in light of the current state of affairs in which we find ourselves. The ranks of the fearful are swelling, and they want to know that it’s going to be okay. So let me begin by saying I’m not qualified to offer that kind of comfort just yet, because what do I know about tomorrow except that, in the words of our Lord, it has enough trouble of its own?

Continue reading “It’s Going to Be Okay!”

More than God Intended

On the spectrum of male personalities, I fancy myself resting far more comfortably and happily on the “medieval Norseman devouring mutton off a rusty knife” side of things than the “Ken in the passenger seat of a pink Corvette” end. So it’s a sign of God’s good sense of humor that of the six children he has chosen to give me, five of them are lovely, very girly girls, meaning I live, move, and have my being in a world of dolls, dresses, and emotional roller coasters.

I have probably witnessed (and unwittingly caused) more female tears in my life than the Average Joe (zing!), but I tell you this: I wouldn’t trade any one of my daughters for a pack of sons. And I’ve found that nothing stirs up this old crustaceous soul like the love and affection I feel for my girls, not even a pallet of beef jerky, and that’s saying something. I don’t feel the least guilt about entering the door of my little tumble-down farmhouse-castle, taking my seat at the head of our rough wooden table lined on both sides by lovely ladies, diving into a meal fit for a king, prepared by my faithful wife. These women are my greatest treasures, and I’d die for any of them in a heartbeat. Burying one of them was, as you know, the worst. Alice used to show me her broken toys and say “Daddy fix it?” and as often as possible, Daddy did. So it nearly killed me when she was broken, and Daddy couldn’t fix it.

Continue reading “More than God Intended”

Tell Me A Story

“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers.”

Deuteronomy 6:20-23

“When I was a little boy of about six I used to drive the horses and rake hay, and a couple of times we hit a ground hornet’s nest and those horses would take off like a shot straight ahead, running as fast as they could until they couldn’t run anymore, and there I was just holding on for dear life trying not to fall off.”

My wife’s Grampa is eighty-eight years old, going on sixty. Tomorrow if it doesn’t rain like it’s supposed to he plans to put up some sixteen foot 1×12” shiplap on the roof deck of a pole barn he’s building. “Gotta get all my scaffolding under a roof,” he says.
Continue reading “Tell Me A Story”

Suck It Up

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you…
Ephesians 4:1 ESV

Once, while reading through the book of Ephesians, it struck me as a bit odd that here smack dab in the center of his letter, Paul mentions the fact that he’s in prison. I’d expect maybe that he’d do that at the beginning, perhaps at the end, but to stick it here seems out of place. Continue reading “Suck It Up”

In Which I Discover I am Immoral

I am now immoral when once I wasn’t, and I didn’t do nothin’. These are my thoughts concerning my recent, rather unpleasant, self-discovery. Continue reading “In Which I Discover I am Immoral”

My Confession: I Have a Thing for Old Ladies

Regarding the title of this piece, I must make an admission up front, which I only offer because you already know, and it would be highly insulting of me to presume you didn’t. The title is provocative; after all, that’s what I’m supposed to do in this age of cacophonous digital voices straining to stand out from the congested landscape of social media, frantically trying to grasp your attention. Then, in true clickbaity fashion, once curiosity has enticed its victim to give a little peek into this rabbit hole, what is discovered is rather mundane and boring. The lion doesn’t bite the man’s head off, the couple getting engaged don’t fall off the cliff, you won’t really be shocked at what she looks like now, and though I’ve never checked into it, I’m sure that secret the casinos don’t want you to know probably has more to do with the quality of the lobster on the buffet than the secret to victory over the slot machine. We are not fools; you and I. It’s merely a game we play, but pretend we don’t. I pretend my writing needs no suggestive title to be read; you pretend that you are immune to such juvenile tactics, yet here we are, and both rather embarrassed about the thing. Continue reading “My Confession: I Have a Thing for Old Ladies”

(Almost) Too Hot to Handle, and Another Thing Not as Hot as You Might Think.

My family and I spent a very casual and relaxed Christmas dinner with my sister and her family, and somewhere in the mealtime conversation she asked me, “So what are you going to write about next?”

I said something like, “I don’t really know. Something other than suffering, for a change.” Granted, for us it’s been a year that has had a lot of suffering in it, and unlike the inimitable 17th century theologian/writer John Owen who was able to endure the death of ten children and hardly pen a public word about it, I’ve hardly been able to think or write about anything else. It’s probably getting old to hear the same thing over and over. So it’s time for a change. Continue reading “(Almost) Too Hot to Handle, and Another Thing Not as Hot as You Might Think.”

Merry Grown-Up Christmas!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:3-4

Some of my fondest Christmas memories involve lying stretched out beside my siblings in the back of our ’79 Caprice Estate wagon, seats laid down to make a bed, Mom lying across the bench seat, asleep with her head on Dad’s lap while he drove all night through yet another Upper Michigan snowstorm. He promised to wake us up to see the Mackinac Bridge, and if we begged him, he’d drive on the grating in the middle lane so we could pop a door open and stare down at the water hundreds of feet below. Mom never really understood the joy of that gift. Never for a moment did I consider even it a possibility we wouldn’t arrived at Gramma’s safely. There’s not a blizzard in the world Dad couldn’t drive through, so when we hit one that was so bad he pulled off in Marquette to spend the night at the Super8, I still think it was probably more because he wanted to let us swim in the pool. Of course, we didn’t pack swim trunks, and ShopKo in Marquette doesn’t sell them in December, so as I recall we bought boxer shorts, swam in them. Good memories, happy days. Continue reading “Merry Grown-Up Christmas!”

Jesus, See My Bride!

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. – Paul

One of the enduring marks of the image of God found in people is the joy of creating beauty. When God created the world, He made a beautiful creation. The story of redemption is the transformation of that which had been uglified (to borrow a term from Narnia) into something gloriously lovely.

Even children love creating beauty. The first time those chubby hands awkardly grasp a crayon and scribble all over a page, they look up and say, “Look what I made!” and those innocent eyes are begging for your approval – “Oh honey, it’s beautiful! You’re an amazing artist!” Continue reading “Jesus, See My Bride!”

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