Thursday, January 31, 2013


Yesterday I flew home after being on the road for eight days.
I was scheduled to be home in Dubuque by 3:30 pm.
Woke up at 3:30 am to be on a scheduled 5:38 departure - Check!
Plane left at 5:38 am and we landed at first stop 15 minutes early - Check!
Connecting plane scheduled to leave at 9:55 - Check!
9:30 rolls around and the Gate Agent announces said flight canceled due to weather - Oh no!
Run as fast as I can to the United Service Center to reschedule - Check!
Customer Service Agent "Luz" (which means light!) secures my seat on a 1:34 departure - Check!
The fifth person behind me does not get on the next scheduled flight because next flight is now full...

I am on the 1:34 flight, in my seat, seat belt secured ready to get home.
Before they close the door, Gate Agent Randy comes on the plane and says, "We're oversold and we are overweight. Someone needs to get off the plane before we can take off."
With various incentives offered, a young lady wearing an Iowa Hawkeye sweatshirt gathers her belongings and exits the plane. The plane does not take off.

Some kind of oxygen sensor is not working properly. Maintenance needs to take a look.
Meanwhile pilot says over the intercom - "Bad weather in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Snow on the runway with heavy gusts of winds. We might be able to land. We might not. If we cannot land we will be rerouted to Des Moines. Thank you for flying United Express"

Twenty minues later, wheels up and just about two hours later we land on a snowy runway in Cedar Rapids. Since I've been gone, 6-8 inches of snow have fallen on the airport parking lot. I find my car only because the license plate was uncovered by snow. Twenty minutes later after removing all the snow off the car in 21 degree weather. I am on my way.

Should be a quick 90 minute drive at most. Highway going home is covered in snow, ice, black ice and being buffeted by heavy crosswinds and it's also dark. My max speed going home is 40 mph. My shoulders and fingers are tight and tense as I hold on to the wheel as hard as I can. At 8:14 I pull up in the driveway. Home at last and then PANDEMONIUM!

It's good to be home...

My iWitness...


Anything delaying you from getting to your destination on time? Anything keeping you from moving forward? Anything slowing you down?

Sometimes delays are forced by circumstances outside of our control. Like the weather that delayed me there are storms in life that come our way that slow us down or blow us off course.

Sometimes our hustling and getting "after it" can move us forward in a speedily fashion. Had I taken my time getting to the customer service center, I would not have made the next flight and would have been delayed even further. No time to sit around and have a little pity party.

Sometimes we are all ready to go but we are grounded because we are "overweight". Something needs to go. Something needs to get off our plane in order for us to soar.

Sometimes, even when we are on the right track it is slow, slow, tense going, with crosswinds threatening to knock us off track.

Sometimes, excuse me... not sometimes but always when we reach home there will be PANDEMONIUM!!

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12. 1-2)

I'll see you out on the highway of life.
It's good to be traveling together.

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Face to Face

I have been away from home for the past seven days.
I have been on the phone a lot lately...
I picture in my mind Joshua's short frame jumping up and down, Faith's sky blue eyes, and Julie's brilliant smile, but it's not the same as "face to face."

I'm coming home today. The face to face encounter is going to be extra sweet!

On this trip I have seen some people that I haven't seen in months, weeks and even years. It's been great to see them "face to face." There's something about facial expressions that speak volumes that an email and/or a text will never pick up on.
Ever notice how a friend's left eyebrow arches at that certain angle when she totally disbelieves what you are saying?
Ever been paralyzed by the totally "blank" stare that your boss gives you that screams, "Seriously?" Ever been moved to tears due to another's tears that brim and then trickle down their cheek?
How about the contortion of a friend's face as they bust out laughing? Is there any thing better!
How about that special friend whose penetrating hazel green eyes look right into your very soul and in an instant you know that you are safe and secure in their gaze?

There's something about the face to face encounter that can't be beat.

My iWitness...

In the book of Exodus there is a great account of Moses spending time with God. I love this verse...

"Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." (Exodus 33. 11)

Do  you ever wish God would come and sit down with you in your family room and visit with you "face to face?"  Me too...

Wouldn't life be so much easier if God would just show up at work, in the passenger seat, the driver's seat or the recliner and simply visit with us "face to face" and let us know what He wants and tell us where to go and what decisions to make?

If God would sit down with you right now, "face to face" what would you say? What questions would you ask? Would you really want to know all the answers?

With each sunrise and each sunset I am heading "Home."

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." (1 Corinthian 13. 12)

All of us might  have to wait just a little bit longer, but the day will come when we no longer know in part, but know in full! One day we shall know fully as we have been fully known.

So... for today I will rest in  the full assurance that I only know in part.
But the day is coming...
The face to face encounter is going to be extra sweet!

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Love Letters

I was visiting with a couple recently and the conversation between them turned to "letters". They're both in their mid-fifties and they've been married and madly in love with each other for more than 30 years. They were college sweethearts. They have three incredible, beautiful, God loving children and a few adorable grandchildren as well.

The husband said, "My dad has written me three letters in my whole life. And you know what? To this day, I still have all three letters." He went on to talk about the "love letters" he has written and is writing to his own children. Love letters are worth reading and rereading and holding on to.

All of a sudden his eyes became real wide and he started to laugh and with his index finger he pointed to his bride and said, "Do you remember the first card I ever gave you?" Her reply was quick, "The one with the guy peeing in the snow?" With great satisfaction he said, "Yes! That's the one!" He continued, "Do you still have it?" The twinkle in her eyes, the wide smile on her face and the affirming nod of her head said it all, "Absolutely!"

My iWitness...

I'm always amused when people denounce and claim that the Bible is historically inaccurate, not scientifically based, grammatically faulty and overall just a myth.

I think they have totally missed the point.

The Bible is the hand written love letter of God.

It's a love letter of how God has chosen to interact with humanity, hand written by His Holy Spirit through the hands and pens of humans.

The whole message of God's love letter simply says, "I Love You!"

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3. 16)

Julie and I had been dating for about two months or so. I was consulting and traveling full time and one day I walked into my hotel room in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and there on the desk was a vase full of roses. Julie had sent them to me all the way from Houston, Texas.

I called her immediately on the phone and thanked her and then uttered these three words that I had never said to her before this moment, "I love you."

Once those three words escape your heart through your mouth there is only one appropriate four word response. Julie was quick with the most appropriate response... "I love you too."

God offers to us these three great words, "I Love You!"

There is only one appropriate response...

What will we be, what will we say, what will we do today that says, "I love you too."

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Table

There we were...
Fourteen of us friends gathered together for dinner and fellowship.
I hadn't seen each of them for a long time.
I was asked to give the blesssing.
Twenty-eight hands held each other in a make shift circle.
I was ten words into the blessing and my voice choked up, my shoulders started to shake and tears began to cascade down my cheek. The two hands that held my hands squeezed mine in a gesture of support and love.
My voice eventually returned to normal and I offered a few more words and then said, "Amen."
We each wiped our own tears, grabbed a plate and filled it with some of the best homemade food I have eaten.
And then,
There we were...
Gathered around the table, eating, laughing, telling stories, asking questions, catching up, offering support, encouraging each other and did I mention the laughing? Oh yeah, we laughed often!
Look around that table and you saw a cadre of people who have weathered some pretty tough storms.
Cancer, divorce, job transitions, impending retirements, injuries, depression, family issues, unemployment, grief. A motley crew we were and a motley crew we are...
Soon dessert was served and before you knew it 150 minutes had passed and it was time to leave the table and go home.
There we were...
Each of us giving and receiving hugs and then maybe a few extras for good measure. I wondered if this particular group would gather around the same table for a meal ever again. We all said we would see each other again. We really meant it. But will we? Maybe we won't. Then again, hopefully we will!

My iWitness...

One of my favorite stories in the Bible concerns a man named Mephibosheth.  His dad was Jonathan and his grandfather was the King. The king's name was Saul. Saul was killed in battle. His son Jonathan killed in the same battle.

David became king. David was heartbroken as his best friend in the world was Jonathan.
When David became king the rest of Jonathan's family ran for the hills because it was customary in those days (and still today) for the new king to kill off the former king's family. The new king had to make sure there were no former heirs to the throne that could possibly threaten his reign.

Mephibosheth's nurse upon hearing the news of Saul's death picked Mephiboseth up and ran for the hills. Along the way she tripped and fell on Mephibosheth and broke his leg and foot. He would be lame for the rest of his life.

Some years later King David had Mephibosheth, the lone heir, tracked down and brought to his home. This cannot be a good thing. And yet, David says, "Mephibosheth, you have a place at my table forever and always. Come! Dine with us." And Mephibosheth did...

"So Mephibosheth ate at David's table, like one of the king's sons." (2 Samuel 9. 11)

A lame man was invited to eat at the King's table.
There's always room at the King's table. Even for someone who has lame feet.
Because you see...
The tablecloth of grace is long!
Long enough to cover the feet of those of us who are lame...

I don't know how lame you are.
I do know how lame I am...

Oh, did you hear that?
I hear the dinner bell ringing!

Come just as you are!
Eat! Laugh!
You've been invited to sit at the King's table!
The long tablecloth of grace has been set.
The children of the King are starting to gather.
I'm hearing lots of laughter...
I'll see you there...

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

State Patrol Officer

Five hours on the road yesterday allowed me to experience a host of different weather patterns. The drive started out with bright sunshine and clear blue skies. Then I hit a huge fog bank where visibility was down to less than a quarter mile. Rain drops soon dotted my windshield. The sun quickly prevailed and I had clear sailing until the hail started. Fifteen miles from my destination the blue Rest Area sign greeted me and I pulled over to make use of the facilities. Ten yards into the exit my eyes were drawn to the rear view mirror to see the beautiful array of flashing blue lights. The Aviator Ray Ban sunglasses kept me from seeing the whites of the State Patrolman's eyes. His lips did not form a smile. They were stoicly in a long straight line from left to right.

My heart sank as I grabbed for my wallet and pulled out my Iowa driver's license. "Maybe being out of state will help my cause", my mind contemplated. The officer approached my passenger window and asked me how I was doing today. Really? You're asking me how I am doing after you have just pulled me over? "Well officer thank you for asking! Let me tell you about my day...I've seen sunshine and I've seen rain..."

I opted for the honest approach. "Well officer, I am about to find out how I am doing." We had a nice chat about how fast I was going and how the effects of "cruise control" can actually make you go faster when cresting over a hill (which is where his radar gun had clocked me going 7 miles an hour over the 55 mph speed limit). He went on to offer, "You're fine sir. Just be careful out there and be more aware of your speed."

With that he started to move away from the vehicle. I uttered something about thank you for serving our community and sorry for your trouble...

This is about the 15th time I have been pulled over in my life without getting a ticket. Three minutes later I was underway driving at a speed of 5 mph below the speed limit for the rest of my journey.
I kept thinking to myself, "When are you going to learn to simply drive the speed limit?!"

My iWitness...

How fast are you driving through life these days?
How's the view? Rain? Sleet? Hail? Snow? Sunshine?
When was the last time you pulled over to rest?
When was the last time someone had to pull you over to get your attention?

I have a feeling had I not turned into the Rest Area the State Patrolman would have pulled me over just a little bit further down the road.

Is there someone in your world, in your life that has that unique ability to pull you over and say, "Hey, slow down. Be a little more aware of what's going on. Take some time to rest and gather yourself. What you're doing right now is not best for you and others. Please take some corrective action."

That "someone" is many times God's word for me.

One of my Seminary professors would always say, "Sometimes scripture corrects our thinking..." I always liked that.

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man and woman of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3. 16-17)

Thank you for journeying through life with me.
Thank you for pulling over and resting for a moment with me today.
Now, let's get back out there and be aware of God's word and God's grace so that we may be complete and equipped for the day and the journey ahead!

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

Saturday, January 26, 2013


I had lunch yesterday and I made the following observations.

My lunch date was a female and I am a male.
She's short and I am tall.
She has reddish looking hair. I have brownish looking hair.
She works for a Democrat (newly elected US Congressman). I work for a Republican.
She wears glasses. I don't.
She is not married. I am married.
She has no kids. I have four.
She lives on the West Coast. I live in the Mid-West.
She is a die hard Democrat. I'm a die hard Republican.
Theologically she leans to the left while I lean to the right.
She's right handed. I write with my left hand.
She's an ordained Methodist Minister. I am an ordained Presbyterian Pastor.
Her gentle loving grace filled Mom died last year. My loving, caring mom is still alive.
She paid for lunch. I didn't.
She drives a Lexus. I drive a Nissan.
She's an employee of the US Government. I am an employee of a private institution.
She has a Droid phone. I have an iPhone.
Her nails are painted. Mine aren't.

My iWitness...

With all the differences... Faith and I have been the best of friends for the last 13 years.

She baptized my daughter Faith back in 2005 and we have supported and celebrated the ups and the downs of each other's lives and will continue to do so until the day we die. Around our house she is known as "Big Faith" so as not to confuse her with our "little Faith."

I thought of this verse yesterday during lunch...

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3. 28)

Being "in Christ Jesus" unifies, draws and trumps us closer together than do the differences that seemingly divide us.

May the differences dissipate and may the love of Christ hold us together forever and ever...

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear Not!

Friday, January 25, 2013

And the two shall become one

I met Dick and Nancy on August 14, 2004.
Six years later to the day, Dick died.
As of today Nancy has been without Dick two years five months and eleven days.

I was blessed yesterday to spend the whole day with Nancy and her two sisters Carol and Bev. The combined age of these three sisters surpasses the age of the United States of America. The wisdom, the experiences, the knowledge, the grace and the faith of these three women are simply amazing.

Nancy sat across the card table from me, looking as elegant as ever. Glittery flip flps adorned her petite feet. Oh, where those feet have traveled and the stories her toes could tell. The "Sisters" had convinced me to be the necessary fourth in a game of Bridge. Nancy was my partner. We giggled and laughed. The sisters did most of the laughing at my lack of knowledge of the game. Bev talked about me being "vulnerable"and started talking about a "700 Rubber". Caught up in the moment of confusion I blurted out, "What's a rubber?" They all looked at each other and started to giggle! So did I!! Oh my...

Nancy and I took a walk. We laughed. We marveled at the landscape of the desert backdrop against the rugged mountains. We hugged and we talked about Dick. She thinks about him everyday. She misses his tall strong handsome frame reaching down to hold her and make her feel secure. Her eyes moisten as we recount Dick's never ending love for Nancy and their special Wednesday night dates and a host of other special memories.

While visiting Dubuque, Nancy showed me the exact spot where the future "love of her life" showed up on the side lawn and called to her asking for that first date. She took to me by the "Shot Tower" where in Nancy's words, she and Dick would "park." And for more than half a century they were a couple from that point on...only until death did they part.

It's strange but true, when I think of Nancy, I think of Dick. When I think of Dick, I think of Nancy.

My iWitness...

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one." (Genesis 2. 24)

Nancy longs for the day to be reunited with Dick. Of course she does... How could she not?

The day will come when we are united with the groom of heaven, Jesus Christ. The scriptures tell us that we are the bride and He is the bridegroom. One day it will be death that will forever unite us in each others physical presence. And that unification will last forever and ever and ever!

We long for the day to be one with God in the heavenly kingdom... How could we not?
One day, one day... the two shall become one...

And that's my iWitness
Laugh often and Fear Not!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Nose Knows

I flew into LAX yesterday.
Los Angeles International Airport.
It didn't even take half a second.
The moment I stepped off the plane and in the amount of time it takes for the surrounding air to be inhaled through the nose, my brain, my mind, my heart and my whole being knew one thing...
I was home!

The cacophony of aromas that assault the senses form the one delicious recipe of "home." Is it the smog? The exhaust of one million cars trying to squeeze their way through 8-10 lanes of endless miles of freeways? The burst of vegetation that covers every square inch of the finely manicured lawns? The lack of humidity? The "outdoorness" of life in the temperatures that flirt with the mid 70's in January? The golden brown hills? The stucco on the homes that dot every square inch of available land? The relentless crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean along the beautiful beaches with the familiar names like Newport, Laguna and Huntington?

How does the nose know?

I haven't lived in Southern California full time since 1981. It has been 32 years! I have lived in North Carolina for four. Virginia for three. Seven in Georgia. Seven and a half in Texas and nine and a half in Oregon. One in Iowa. (And yes, all those numbers do add up to 32!)

In each of those other states I always considered them home. But the nose knows differently. With the first breath, my body relaxes and the familiarity of places, sights, smells, memories and experiences flood the bloodstream of my soul. It's as if California was waiting for me and with my arrival they laid out the red carpet and said, "Welcome home David!"

My iWitness...

It's happened to all of us...

We wander away from "Home". We stray. We get off the beaten path to a "better" destination. Perhaps it occurred with full on rebellion. We just ran like a "bat out of hell" as fast as we could and as far as we could and we didn't look in the rearview mirror for years. Perhaps we just got distracted and now the path is no longer visible to us. Some of us have fallen and skinned our knee so severely that the idea of getting back on "that road" is the furthest thing in our mind. For some the new surroundings have taken on a nice look and we settle in for what we believe will be the way of life for years to come with memories of the "old home" neatly packed away in the scrapbook of life.

But the nose knows differently...

The nose of the heart has been imbedded with the unconditional love, mercy, grace and tender arms of God. Wherever I am, whatever I am going through there is that faint scent of our spiritual home that tickles and teases and says, "I'm still here. I haven't gone anywhere. And just like your sideview mirror says, "I am nearer than it might appear.""

I don't know where you are this day, the 24th of January 2013 but God does. Maybe you've been gone for 32 years. Maybe it has been just 32 days or 32 minutes. Whatever your circumstances might be, please hear me on this... It's not too late and you are not too far away.

 My hope and prayer is that you will take time to breathe deep and inhale fully the aroma of God's love and that you will see before you the red carpet of love and grace and acceptance and hear His indescribable and incredible voice shouting for joy, "Welcome Home!"

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate." (Luke 15. 20-24)

Let the celebration begin!!

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

ps- For all of my Southern California friends I apologize that we were not able to get together on this trip. Thank you for being a part of that "cacophony" that makes SoCal home for me!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I will hit the half century mark in 40 days.
I will be 50 years old in two score days.
I will be five decades old in 2 fortnights and 12 days.
I will have been alive for 600 months in five weeks and five days.
In 40 days I will have lived for 18,250 days.
In 960 hours I will have breathed in and out, in and out for 438,000 hours.

And yesterday, 41 days shy of my 50th I went to see a chiropractor for an "adjustment."

What I got yesterday was a few tests, a few X-Rays and some cold hands feeling how tight my back muscles have become over all these years... No adjustments just yet...

After 45 minutes I was out the door with an appointment to come back in a fortnight.

My iWitness...

When was the last time you had an adjustment?

The oil in our car needs to be "adjusted" every 3,000 miles and our tires need a rotational "adjustment" every 5,000 miles.

But what about our spiritual life? How often do we need an adjustment? Once a week - at church for the one hour service? Once a day? Twice a year - semi-annually? Every two years - biennially?

I have often heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

I am getting to an age where I am getting tired of being "insane"!!

I was struck by a quote from the head basketball coach of Butler University over the weekend after they had beaten Gonzaga University on a last second basket after stealing an inbounds pass. The coach said something like this... "The pain of regret is far worse than the pain of discipline."

One of my "adjustments" is doing the daily discipline of writing this blog, reading 3-4 chapters in my Bible, reading a daily devotional (Reflections for Ragamuffins by Brennan Manning) and praying the prayers from the book entitled, "A Heart Exposed - Talking to God with Nothing to Hide by Steven James."

My pattern for nearly a half century has been to commit to something, get all excited, do it, perform it for a few weeks and then let the emotional feelings fade away and quit or phase out because it just became too darn hard to see it through to the finish line.

Not this year!

I say that with such boldness!

But inside there is a very strong and persistent voice droning away... "You won't be able to do it... just give up... I mean after all you have done a good job so far. No one will fault you for stopping now..."

My daily prayer is that in 2013 the pain of the discipline will far outweigh the very real and potential pain of regret. Let the insanity end!

This is the year of The Great Adjustment!

How bout you?

Adjustment or Insanity?

Pain of Discipline or Pain of Regret?

The choice is ours...

Go get 'em!!

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life..." (Deuteronomy 30.19)

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!


Yesterday we celebrated the birth and life of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I have always been so moved by how Dr. King followed his calling by God to be a change agent in how people in America viewed one another in regards to race relations. His "I have a Dream Speech" is my all time favorite speech. His most prophetic speech was given on April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee where he preached, "I have seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I have seen the promised land..." The next day Dr. King was felled by an assassin's bullet. Welcome to the Promised Land Dr. King...

I thought I would share with you an article I wrote last week for the University of Dubuque's e-newsletter called The UpDate...

By the time I turned 9 years old I had lived in 5 states from Florida, to Virginia, to Georgia, to New Jersey and then to Southern California.

Perhaps the greatest life lesson I learned while living in New Jersey, which has carried me through to this day is to be colorblind.

That first summer in New Jersey I learned how to fish from "Mr. Tom.”

We lived across the street from Mountain Lakes. Every day Mr. Tom would show up on the dock and fish. As a curious seven year old kid I would walk over to the dock and ask, "Whatcha catch?” Usually it was catfish or sunfish. His big hands taught me how to put a squiggly worm on a hook. I learned how to "cast” and put a "bobber” on a line. Patience became a new tool in my "tackle box" as we would stand side by side silently and patiently waiting for a fish to take the bait. Every now and then Mr. Tom’s whole family would show up. His wife and three kids would join him and I was invited to hang out on the dock with them for hours at a time. Fishing... Laughing... Eating...

My parents would encourage me to join in the fishing festivities with Mr. Tom. My mom took me to the local Bait and Tackle shop and with my own money I bought my first Zebco rod and reel. I loved fishing with Mr. Tom.

Mr. Tom was also African American. Perhaps that was the greatest lesson I learned that summer of 1970. I didn’t even really notice. My parents didn’t seem to notice. The neighbors didn’t seem to notice. It really didn’t matter that our skin tone was of a different color. It didn’t matter to him and it didn’t matter to me. He was simply another human being created by God doing what he loved to do with himself and with his family and he graciously invited a little Caucasian boy to join him in this pursuit.

This month we will take time to celebrate the birth of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, January 21st. For some it will be seen as simply a federal holiday with an opportunity to enjoy a three day weekend. At the University of Dubuque, my hope is that we will see it as a privilege and an honor to celebrate the dream that Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the Mall of Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963... that we live in a nation and in a community and on a University campus where we will not be judged and where we will not judge others "by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

The dream lives on. We are living the dream at UD.

By the way, thank you Mr. Tom for teaching me a great life lesson.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3. 28)

"Jesus loves the little children... all the children of the world... red and yellow, black and white they are precious in his sight... Jesus loves the little children of the world." - Popular Children's Song

"Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty we are free at last!”

And that's my iWitness...Laugh often and Fear not!


Monday, January 21, 2013

What happens when we get it right?

Wouldn’t you know it?
For 66 days in a row the paperboy/girl had missed hitting the driveway with the newspaper.
Yesterday morning as the garage door opened and my front driveway came into view, my eyes drifted to the left anticipating to see the newspaper in the grass for the 67th day in a row. My mind was having a hard time registering what it was “not” seeing. The newspaper was not on the grass. The newspaper wasn’t even near the grass.
The newspaper was right smack dab in the middle of the driveway!! Hallelujah!
Can I get an amen?!!!
My iWitness…
In our many attempts to “get it right” with God and with our world and with our family and with our workmates and with our neighbors, every now and then we get it right!
We get it right when we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us into:
writing that note of encouragement to the person who has been having a bad year,
giving a knowing smile and a wink of the eye to the one who doesn’t think tomorrow will come soon enough
texting a friend in a far away place just to say, “Love you, miss you…”
taking the high road in a conflicted situation
taking the back road when it comes to wanting recognition for doing a good deed
praising God for the gift of life out loud when we are tempted to be embarrassingly silent
trusting God as Abraham had faith in God and it was considered unto him as righteousness
running the race when we feel like giving up and forfeiting the prize that awaits us
going forth into the world when all we want to do is sit still
making the conscious effort to think less of ourselves and more of others
worshiping when we feel like worrying
bowing when we feel like bullying
loving patiently instead of losing our temper
forgiving others even when we know we are "right"
moving toward the problem instead of conveniently looking and walking the other way
confessing our sin, repenting of our sin and not whitewashing our sin with lazy lame excuses.

The list could go on and on....

What happens when we get it right?
I think there is more rejoicing in heaven than we can even imagine.
I believe the sheer volume of joyful noise that is created by the angels clapping their wings together is enough to put any Midwestern summer afternoon thunderstorm to shame.
I believe that the smile on God’s face stretches a thousand miles wide and when His lips part the sound of approving laughter and chuckling is ten times deeper and louder and sweeter than the voice of James Earl Jones.
I believe that the sparkle in His eyes is more brilliant than a sapphire stone surrounded by dazzling diamonds reflecting the mid-day sun.
I believe the Trinity gets together and gives each other a fist pump, a high five and a loving slap on the back.
“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
                                                                                                                    (Luke 15. 10)
That’s what I believe and that’s…
My iWitness…
Laugh often and Fear not!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Number 66

What is it about the number 66?

There’s Highway 66   
There’s 66 Books in the Bible
My wife Julie was born in 1966
It’s the retired jersey number of the great Green Bay Packer Ray Nitschke
It’s also the number of days in a row that the paperboy has missed hitting our driveway with the morning delivery of the Telegraph Herald Newspaper.
We have a double car wide driveway. It’s large. It’s flat. It’s obvious. It’s like the side of a barn!
The paperboy has yet to land the paper in the driveway. Every morning, I mean EVERY morning I go outside in my moccasins and blue plaid flannel robe and there it is… a few inches in the grass, a few feet in the grass, sitting on top of the snow, laying in the puddle on the grass, resting comfortably on the dry grass. Every time! It’s become humorous now. Should I go out and see the paper actually in the driveway I have a feeling I would be somewhat disappointed. This whole thing makes me chuckle in exasperation.
My iWitness…
The very definition of sin is “missing the mark.”
A simple three letter word with the subject of “I” right there in the middle of it! It’s been said that the letter “I” is the biggest letter in the alphabet. But that’s a whole different matter. Back to our subject at hand…
I wonder how God views our sin.
“Good effort David! Way to go! But… you still missed the driveway… Let’s get ‘em tomorrow David!”
Next day… “Wow David, how did you miss the target by that much? Look David, way over here!! Right here. You can do it! I will empower you. Trust me! Look to me! Lock eyes with me and you won’t miss! Don’t become distracted, don’t look left or right, right here David, that’s it, you got it, throw it…..Oh… so close David.
Let’s try it again tomorrow.
Yes David I will be here again.
Yes David, if it takes 66 more tries I will be here to encourage you, support you, love you, give you the target.
Yes David, I will be here tomorrow.
Yes David, I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Yes David, I sometimes chuckle too.
Yes David, you are forgiven.
Yes David, see you tomorrow…”
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God thorugh our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5. 1)

And that’s my iWitness
Laugh often and Fear Not!


Saturday, January 19, 2013

The amazing mystery of God's word

I hit a wall this week.
It knocked me back.
It knocked me down.
With God's help I am going to get through it.

My iWitness...

I am always amazed at the incredible timing and mystery of God's word to apply to my daily interactions with God and with the world around me.

Along with the challenge of writing a blog everyday for 2013, I have also challenged myself to read through the entire Bible over the course of this year. I have read the Bible in 23 days, 40 days and in 90 days but never have I stretched it over 365 days.

The Bible plan I am reading through is called, "Eat This Book."

Yesterday on the 18th of January, I read the 18th Psalm.

Here's a verse from Psalm 18 that encouraged, emboldened and enlivened me for the days ahead.

"For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall." (Psalm 18. 29)

I would never have received this treasure from God's word if I hadnt' been reading God's word!
Here's a great challenge... read God's word every day and be amazed at how many times it coincides just perfectly for the things you are dealing with daily...

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!


Friday, January 18, 2013


I met a man today for the first time.
We had a pleasant chat.
We smiled. We laughed. We were genuinely curious about one another.
We shared stories. We firmly shook hands and said that we looked forward to seeing each other again.
He walked out the door and I walked through the door of my office feeling discombobulated with guilt and remorse.
My iWitness…
I thought I was old enough.
I figured I had been around the block enough times to know how to avoid the pitfalls.
I am a committed Christian for God’s sake and yet it happened again.

Once again I had fallen captive to believing the withering whispering of others. I had not even met this man and yet I had formed an opinion of him based on gossip and hearsay.
This man’s reputation preceded his arrival and I went into the meeting cocksure, fully believing the rumors and the gossip. I dishonored him by putting him in a little, tiny box that fits in the palm of my hand due to the enjoyment of listening to what a "little birdie" whispered in my ear.
Gossip is officially defined as “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.”
Let me ask a question… Which is more damaging?

Spreading the idle talk or rumor of someone or actually believing the idle talk or rumor?
Either way, I was guilty as charged!
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting this man. Minute by minute the layers of blindness were peeled off like an onion and my eyes were opened to the true nature and character of this man. The illumination was blinding. The eyes of my heart had to squint.
This man was pleasant, smiling, laughing, genuine, sharing and had a non-anxious presence.

I had come in to the meeting believing just the opposite.
The short meeting was over and he walked out with a skip in his step and I walked out ashamed of myself and kicking myself all the way back to the office vowing to never, ever fall into that trap again. Lord help me!
A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends. (Proverbs 16. 28)
Shhh… no more whispering!!
And that’s my iWitness…
Laugh often and Fear not!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Marching Band

Have you ever been in a marching band? I was mesmerized during the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day by the High School, College and Armed Services Marching Bands from all over the country. Marching in step, in sync, polished and playing a song while marching. What a great way to start the New Year!
They (whoever “they” are...) say that sometimes we might “March to the beat of a different drummer.” Maybe we don’t go along with the crowd. Maybe we practice a different belief system or interpret that which is considered normal with a slightly skewed view.
What do we do with those that march to the beat of a different drummer? So their cadence is a bit off from mine. So their stride is longer or shorter than mine. What's important is that they're marching!.

Marching in a parade is sometimes a powerful statement of beliefs.
Sometimes standing on the curb watching the marching band or the parade go by has stronger implications than if I was in the parade itself.
Marching came to Montgomery, Alabama in the month of March, 1965. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama, the State Capitol. The March took 9 days and the marchers were protesting Voter Rights violations along with the killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson – a 26 year old deacon of the St. James Baptist Church in Marion, Alabama who was protesting the violation of his civil rights to register to vote.
I made a phone call yesterday and the man on the other end picked up the phone and announced his name with the greatest of ease. I told him who was calling and we both laughed at the joy of reconnecting. A self-described “white boy” from Connecticut, he came to the University of Dubuque in the mid sixties to play football.
What we talked about for over thirty minutes was his participation in the March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. We talked of the famous Southern Hospitality, the Alabama humidity, the utter poverty of the African American population in Alabama and he recounted the mean, angry white folks who stood along the parade route shouting their obscenities. He and three other “white boys” from UD were well protected by the African American community and they were housed with the greatest sense of love and welcome along the route. Marching meant standing up for the Constitution and for our creator God who created all people equal in His sight.

My iWitness...
What marching band do I march in? What parade am I supporting? What do I believe in?
What am I willing to risk to stand up for what I am most passionate about?
I believe it was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said,
“Life isn’t worth living until you have found something worth dying for.”
Who or what is the drummer in your life?
Can you hear the drumbeat that is calling you to march?
In the year ahead where will we find you? Curbside or Marching?

Jesus was in a parade once. It didn't last nine days. It barely lasted five days. Most of those curbside were cheering his name: "Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed be the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" The cheers didn't last long before they became angry and yelled obscenities.

He knew what was at stake and he knew where the parade route ended. You were at stake.
The parade route ended when he was staked to a cross.

I love this verse from Luke 9: "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he (Jesus) set his face to go to Jerusalem."

Jesus heard the drumbeat of the Father's will and set his face to go to Jerusalem and began... to march.

Dear Lord,
You are not ashamed of us! Empower us to not be ashamed of you when we hear Your drumbeat calling us to march, to stand up, and follow your heartbeat…
And that’s my iWitness…Laugh often and Fear Not!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Wall

It was during my Junior High Years that I began to discover my musical tastes. “Frampton Comes Alive” was my first “rock” album. Then came Boz Scaggs, Boston, Styx and then Kansas! I loved Kansas. First came “Leftoverture” with “Carry On Wayward Son” followed by “The Point of Know Return” with the epic acoustic classic, “Dust in the Wind.” If you’re younger than 40 years of age you might want to look up these classics on YouTube.
As everyone was carried away with the first song of the “Leftoverture” album “Carry On Wayward Son”, it was the second song which captivated me and to this day is an often played song on my iTunes.
It’s called “The Wall.”

Kerry Livgren writes and sings about “The Wall”, an immovable object that his life has led him to and how his life has now come to a standstill. I offer to you the second verse…
To pass beyond is what I seek, I fear that I may be too weak
And those are few who've seen it through to glimpse the other side,
The promised land is waiting like a maiden that is soon to be a bride
The moment is a masterpiece, the weight of indecision's in the air
It's standing there, the symbol and the sum of all that's me
It's just a travesty, towering, blocking out the light and blinding me
I want to see

I hit a wall yesterday. I had been circling it for weeks, maybe even months, sizing it up, looking for my way around it, over it, under it and today I discovered that there is only one way… through it.
I slump against it. Its cold slab chills me to the bone. The wall absorbs nothing. My tears trickle, cascading down it glassy surface, pooling at my feet. The Wall's laughter echoes off its gray granite as my pounding fists bounce off of it. I make not a dent. It towers. It intimidates. It chuckles in its premature self declared victory dance. The scattered skeletons of those who have flailed and failed have front row seats to my futility.
The odds makers are at it again.
Who will break who? Does the Wall break me or do I break the Wall?
The song pumps through my veins:
“To pass beyond is what I seek, I fear that I may be too weak.
And those are few who’ve seen it through to glimpse the other side.”

My iWitness…
It’s not the first Wall I have run into in my life.
It won’t be my last.
It’s just the next one in line.
So it is for you. It may seem taller, wider, thicker, denser but in the end it’s just another Wall.
Our God is an awesome wall breaker. He makes obsidians obsolete, saprolite superfluous, pumice into pebbles and granite into granules.
If we believe that God has called us to where we are and to where we need to be then nothing, nothing can withstand His will and His way. Look out Wall, I’m coming through…
And David said to the Wall of a man named Goliath, “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts… This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down…”
                                                                                                         (I Samuel 17. 45-46)
ps… See you on the other side…

And that’s my iWitness…
Laugh often and Fear not!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013



the act or fact of disappointing;
            All of his efforts only led to the disappointment of his supporters
2. the state or feeling of being disappointed;
            Her disappointment was very great when she didn’t get the job.
3. a person or thing that disappoints;
            The play was a disappointment

Ever been disappointed?
Me too….
Ever disappointed someone?
Me too…
Probably the most powerful thing anyone can ever say to me is, “I’m disappointed in you.” Tell me I’m a terrible person. Tell me I deserve to go to jail. But whatever you do, please don’t tell me that you are disappointed in me. Oh, how that hurts. The open recognition and confession of another that I have disappointed them is almost worse than the original act itself.
This past weekend we as a family were disappointed that the Green Bay Packers lost along with the Seattle Seahawks on a last second field goal.
Definition number 2 (see above) was the state or feeling of the day yesterday.
“Her disappointment was very great when she didn’t get the job.”

Talked with a good friend of mine yesterday. Only it wasn’t a she, but rather a “he” that was very disappointed when “he” didn’t get the job.” In the interview process he made it to the “Final Four” but didn’t make it to the Championship game, so to speak. When he first told me of the opportunity and was wondering if he should apply my response was decisive and quick, “Yes! Apply now! You would be perfect! They’d be a fool not to take you.” Sometimes the “fools rule.” I still believe with my whole heart that my friend would have been perfect for the job.
Dreams dashed.
            Visions eviscerated.
                        Hope humiliated.
                                    Future forsaken.
                                                Goals gone.

We’ve all been there and we will all visit there again.
So, how do we deal with disappointment?
I am struck by the number of people who will say as part of a subconscious defensive coping mechanism, “Everything happens for a reason…” Yes, this is true and maybe, just maybe the reason you didn’t get the job is because the people interviewing you were a bunch of idiots!! Maybe the reason you didn’t get the job is that your sound sense of being self-secure was so overwhelming that the interviewer’s identity had a crisis of epic proportions and shattered before his very eyes rendering him blind to see and appreciate your amazing giftedness as a person. Yes, everything happens for a reason, just maybe not for the right reason.
Am I disappointed at times? Yes!
Am I a disappointment at times? Yes!
Does everything go my way just as I planned it would? No!
So, where do we turn? We turn toward the One who always turns to us – God!
Whether it be good or bad, elation or disappointment the turn is always the same…
Upward to God – to the One who knows all the reasons why it didn’t work out the way we wanted it to and just might have a better plan around the next corner…
The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16. 9)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8. 28)
I don’t know the plan.
I don’t know the reason why some things work out the way they do.
I don’t always have it all figure out.
But there is someone who does, God! And I love Him…and He loves me…and He loves you!
Disappointed or not...
Upward, Onward, Forward we go, pressing on toward the goal that is before us in Christ Jesus!
And that’s my iWitness…
Laugh often and Fear Not!

Monday, January 14, 2013


In the children’s area of the church we attend Joshua was up on stage after Sunday School. The floor of the stage is a good 3-4 feet off the ground. Joshua saw me walk up and that daredevil gleam in his eyes took over. As I walked closer to the stage he started to pace backwards. I came to within about four feet of the stage and that’s when my BASE jumper of a son took off, running as fast as he could and then with one fluid motion his right knee came up and he leapt off his left foot, spreading his arms wide and legs gliding behind him flying through the air into my waiting arms!
Oh if you could have seen Joshua’s face! Eyes wider than saucers! Mouth open wide flashing a brilliant smile and those arms, those precious arms wide open wide in full abandonment mode!
We both giggled and laughed and I spun him around in a circle before gently letting him land with both feet secure on solid ground once again.
One time was not enough for an adventure like this. We did the same scenario over and over and over again. Four times in a row. Each time with me a little further from the stage and each time Joshua running a little faster and jumping a little higher.
Joshua jumped off the stage four times in a row.
Of the four times, how many times did Joshua wholeheartedly believe that I would catch him?
… Every time! Every time! Every time! Every time!
The waiting arms of his father caught him every single time. And if we did it forty more times, I would have caught him every time!

My iWitness…
When was the last time you bounded off the stage of life into the loving arms of the Father?
When was the last time you recklessly ran and jumped with full abandonment?
When was the last time you colored outside the lines without questioning or doubting?

Who told you that the way to live life is to hunker down and not move from where you are?
Who told you that the abundant life is found in the safety of your own predictable bubble?
What keeps us stuck on stage in the same ol same routine and rut?
What keeps us from living with reckless and faithful abandon?

I was talking with a very good friend of mine yesterday who has faithfully “jumped” twice over the last few years into waiting arms of the Father in a career move. And why not? He is the one who told her to… She is having a blast! Life has never been more exciting! Appropriately her name is Faith!
What is keeping you from leaping? From jumping? From trusting that you will be caught?
Why not go out on a limb?
I mean, after all, Jesus did…with arms open wide...

In the garden of Gethsemane on the night before he died Jesus said, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22.42)
May God’s will be done in our lives with reckless abandonment in the full knowledge of knowing that when we leap we will be caught, over and over and over and over again!
That’s my iWitness…
Laugh often and Fear not!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Indicator lights

It was time to take Joshua to his basketball game yesterday. With great anticipation and excitement Joshua along with his basketball jumped into the backseat alongside his sister Faith. I put the key in the ignition, buckled up, put on the steering wheel heater, the seat heater and placed my hand on the stick to shift into reverse.
There it was… shining bright. Staring me right in the face, as if to say, “Hello? Have you not been paying attention to me? I am here to remind you that you are about to run out of gas!!!”
The fuel tank indicator light! How did I not see this sooner? I wondered how long it had been on. Typically when it has come on in the past I have about 45 miles to go before I am running on fumes. I pressed the “Fuel/Mileage” button on the center console. It would tell me how many miles I had left to empty – The DTE (distance to empty) button.
It registered 12 miles to empty. I thought, “No problem! The gas station is only a mile or so up the road.” I backed out of the garage and into the street, placed the car in drive and then looked at the DTE one more time. Now it registered “#”. Not even a number. A hashtag? Was my car getting ready to tweet?
Off I drove with a little fear and trepidation. Faith and Joshua, from the backseat kept asking over and over, “Are we going to run out of gas? Are we going to run out of gas?” My response, was quick with confidence, “Of course not!”
My iWitness…
Don’t you wish that we had some kind of indicator light that would flash in front of our eyes and shout, “Hey David (insert your own name here!), you are almost out of gas! Take some time out to refuel or else you are going to find yourself stranded in the middle of the road during rush hour, in the middle of nowhere with no oasis in sight or perhaps running late to an impending important time sensitive appointment."
What kind of refueling do we need? Physical? Emotional? Mental? Spiritual?
Where do we go to get such fuel? Wherever we go, is it the type of fuel that really does fill us up? Is it the type of fuel that satisfies?
Or is it type of fuel that drains? That type of fuel that deceives usinto thinking that we are getting what we need when in fact it is sucking us dry of everything we have, leaving us bone dry.
Who tells you when you are almost on empty? What indicator lights do you look upon to let you know that it is time to “filler up”?
After working hard to create the world and all that inhabits it, even God took a day to rest. Following that model even Jesus took time to be by himself, to pray, to rest, to worship.
How bout you?
Perhaps this post today, on a Sunday, the Sabbath day is a Fuel indicator light saying:
Time to rest.
Time to refuel.
Time to unwind.
Time to slow down.
Time to say “No” to a few requests.
Time to reprioritize a few things.
Time to do that which God took time to do… Rest!
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46. 10)
“So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it, God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2. 3)
Wow! Would you look at the time? 2:35 a.m. – Time to rest and refuel...

And that’s my iWitness…
Laugh often and Fear not!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The voice of Faith

I received an email from the school district yesterday morning at 5:34 a.m. letting me know that there would be a two hour delay to the start of school due to fog. I looked out the window and it was completely dark and for all I knew it was snowing. As the sun rose, sure enough - dense fog.

With the extra time in the morning we ate breakfast a little later than usual. I was standing in the kitchen when my daughter Faith casually walked by and in a very matter of fact way said, "Daddy, can I talk to you about something?"

Eight words from my daughter was all it took to set the ears of my heart on fire. How this daddy loves to hear the voice of his children...

I sat down opposite from Faith at the dining room table. With her big, expresive blue eyes staring right into mine she said, "Dad, we (Faith, Joshua and Julie) were at the store yesterday and I saw this really nice necklace and I was wondering if I could get it today."

My first thought was, "YES! YES!! Let's go get that necklace right this moment because I love you so much and I want to give you the world and the fact that you wanted to talk to me about it just made my day, and yes honey you do have me wrapped around your little pinky in case anybody asks."

Instead we talked about how much it cost and what the necklace looked like and what store it was at. I offered the thought that maybe she could get it for her birthday (4 months from now). She wasn't too fond of waiting that long. Eventually we left at "We will see." Faith said, "OK" and with that she swung her feet around and off the dining room bench, smiled at me and bounded off to do something else.

Julie and I talked later that evening. Faith will get the necklace for Valentine's Day. Of course, Faith does not know this, but we do. She will only have to wait only one month instead of four.

Needless to say, this little conversation was everything but "little." The fact that my daughter wanted to talk to me, her Daddy, made my day. I hope and pray that we have thousands more of these "talk to you about something" moments.

My iWitness...

How the Father loves to hear the voice of His children!

Do you believe that?
Do you believe that the Father longs to hear your voice?
Do you believe that the ears of His heart are set ablaze when you utter His most majestic name?
Do you know that the Father revels and basks to be in your heart of hearts and just about falls over Himself to have "heart to heart" talks with you?
Do you know that Jesus literally (not figuratively) died to be able to talk with you voice to voice, face to face and heart to heart?
Do you believe that the fog of our lives just might give us the two hour delay we need to take a moment and say to the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, "Abba, Father can I talk to you about something?"
Do you know that you can approach His throne of grace with great confidence and with no fear and that you will be accepted just as you are at the dining table of grace?
Do you believe that the Lord delights in giving to us the desires of our hearts and that maybe, just maybe He is simply waiting for us to ask Him?

Well... maybe today you will...

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37.4

"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4. 14-16)

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Quarters and parking meters...

I had to go downtown yesterday to get my haircut. All the downtown parking spaces have parking meters. One quarter will buy you 30 minutes of parking.

As I was approaching the building that I needed to go into I noticed that all the parking spaces directly in front of the Salon were taken, so I quickly pulled over to a parking spot one block south of my destination. I parked and started to get out of the car when I realized that the parking meter was only a 20 minute parking meter. Frustrated, I jumped back in the car, put the car in drive, crossed the street and found a parking spot on the left side of the one way street I was on.

Noticing I was becoming late for my appointment my fingers were having trouble finding two quarters in the console. Quarters found I jumped out of the car and started to place the two quarters in the meter only to discover that this meter had one hour and forty four minutes left on the timer!

I stared at the meter in disbelief and looked on the other side of the meter to make sure I was not somehow being deceived. I actually looked around like I was on Candid Camera or something. I could not believe my good fortune.

I dropped the two quarters in my coat pocket, looked both ways (even though it was a one way street!) and crossed over to the other side. As I jumped up on to the opposing curb, I had to make my way past a fancy sports car that was parked right in front of the entrance to the Salon. As I started to reach for the heavy brass doors I happened to turn and look over my left shoulder. Flashing before me in bright red lights was the word "Expired" on the parking meter for this sports car.

I started to turn back to the entrance when I laughed out loud and  stopped dead in my tracks. I reached into my coat pocket, grabbed  my two quarters and walked over to the meter and quickly dropped two quarters into the slot to offer this sports car sixty more minutes of parking without being in jeopardy of a violation.

I quickly surveyed the area. No one in sight. I made my way into the salon with a big smile on my face and heart and got my hair cut.

My iWitness...
Two things struck me about this occasion...

1. The debt has been paid. I am all worried about how I am going to come up with the money to pay for the parking meter of life so that I can sufficiently pay off the debt for parking my life on this world for however many years I am going to live. I get to the meter only to discover someone else has paid the debt.

That person is Jesus!

I am in violation. My time has expired. I don't have enough quarters in this world to pay my debt. And the reality is the fact that Jesus has already paid the debt with His life on the cross and my sins are forgiven forever and ever.

The Christian life is not about what I do. It's all about what Christ has already done. He has paid the debt. We have been released, free to go, free to pursue life, free to love, free to be the person God made us to be. Praise God that Jesus has done what I could not do for myself... paid the debt.

"You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorfiy God in your body."
                                                                                                       (I Corinthians 6. 19-20)

2. How much fun was that to pay it forward for the owner of that sports car! Not begrudgingly, not under compulsion, not forced to do it, but rather with a skip in my step and laughter on my lips I shared the joy of being set free by passing on that good news to someone else. You can too!

Maybe you just had to be there, but I got the biggest kick out of that yesterday.

That's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear Not,

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sticks and stones...

In the late summer of 1966 a groundbreaking ceremony took place to begin construction on the World Trade Center Twin Towers. The North Tower (#1) was completed in December of 1970. The South Tower (#2) was completed in July of 1971.

It took 4 years 4 months and 4 years 11 months to build the two tallest towers in the New York City skyline. For over thirty years they stood tall as a strong, sturdy and secure symbol of the financial district in the Big Apple.

In the late summer of 2001 it took only took 90 minutes to bring them down...

I talked with a friend of mine today. We could not be more different. I'm a big city boy.  He's from a rural small town. I'm all bright lights and center stage and he's behind the curtain sweeping the floors. I'm all about the gel in the hair, making it look just right and he knows that God doesn't have to stretch too far in the arithmetic arena in counting the hairs on his balding head.

As much as we are different, our similarities outweigh the differences. Both college boys. Both have great wives. Both have young energy draining kids. Both have good secure jobs. Both are very sensitive when it comes to our feelings and our feelings getting hurt.

I didn't have to see him to know that his eyes were teeming with tears to near overflowing. His boss was quick with the tongue in uttering a slight, a slam, a slur and in less time than it took for you to read this sentence down he went.

Oh he didn't show it at the moment. No way, no how. Too proud. Too strong. And yet there he was... belittled, berated and broken. Wounded warrior. Shoulders slumped. Chin quivering. Lips stretched taut. All over one word. One two syllable word that tore through his psyche and soul faster than a speeding bullet.

Whoever coined the phrase "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me", I would like to take them down a back alley and beat the daylights out of them (figuratively of course!!).  I have never had any bones broken by sticks and stones, but boy oh boy I have been sliced and diced with razor sharp words.

My iWitness...

The scriptures are pretty clear about the use of the tongue and how hurtful it can be.

Let me offer this. It's easy to take down the "Twin Towers" of somebody's self-esteem and self-worth. Anybody can be negative and nasty. Anybody. There's no great challenge in that.

But we are not just anybody are we? No! Not today. Not this week! Not anymore.

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." (Ephesians 4. 29)

We are the builders of the "Twin Towers" of self-esteem and self-worth.
Discover just how little effort it takes to make someone's day with a positive word of encouragement. Offer a genuine compliment. Notice something that no one else notices. Tell someone just one thing that you really like about them. And then next week tell them something else that you like about them.

"You are so good at meeting people." "I marvel at the way you make cooking look so easy and effortless." "You make that dress look really nice on you." "I am always so impressed with your work ethic." "Your laughter and smile just light up the room." "You are such a good listener." "I know that I can always count on you."

How long do you want me to keep going?

To my dear readers... "I am so humbled that you would take the time to read these words. My heart has been so moved by your comments, your prayers and your support. How blessed am I to have such wonderful people in my life and in my world! Thank you!!! We only have 355 more days to go... Oh my!!"

Let's keep building each other up...

Laugh often and Fear not!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Coming Home

Her name is Louise. She's married and has four boys. She's been surrounded by five testerone driven boys who became men her whole life. Pink does not exist in her house. No dress up dresses. Easy bake ovens never darkened the door. All four boys are handsome, winsome, intelligent, self-starters, funny and laughter fills her home as she smiles just at the thought of each of them. She is the quintessential proud Italian mom who gets upset if you don't eat all of her pasta and drink her red wine.

Louise loves to laugh! She has that contagious laugh that makes you laugh just because she's laughing. Louise is not too much of a computer whiz. Or at least she wasn't when she met Julie, my wife.

Julie was the computer specialist at a well known consulting firm in Milwaukee and the phone rang often from Louise who would beg Julie, "Could you just come up here and take a quick look at my computer. I don't think it will take long." It usually didn't. But in these almost daily treks Julie and Louise became fast friends. Julie became like a daughter to Louise, with Julie always giving Louise the juicy details of her life that boys never seem to do.

Louise and her five grown men. What a sight. What love. What joy. What a family!

And then one day twelve years ago the second to the youngest son joined a cult and moved away. Letters were written disavowing his love and his membership in the family. He was gone... just like that.

I don't mean to stereotype but this devout Roman Catholic Italian family loving mom was not going to be deterred in her pursuit to get her son back. After him she went and she came home empty handed and broken hearted. Her prayers for a reunion were answered with silence for twelve years.

She sought my counsel. With two daughters of my own who have not talked to me since 1998, I understood her pain, frustration and heartache firsthand. I would watch Julie and Louise cry together and it made me cry with them. "Pray and hope" became her mantra.  Every time we talked with Louise or saw her in person we would see the shake of the head indicating, "No word...but pray and hope!"

Oh sure, laughter still filled her home but muted just a bit. Oh sure the boys would come over for dinner with their families but there was always that empty seat...

We moved to Dubuque, Iowa at the end of March in 2012 and Louise, living just 3 hours away was our first house guest.  She hadn't been in our home for 24 hours before her husband called from Milwaukee to say that their estranged son had called, "out of the blue! "

You know us men... Louise was yearning for every detail and her husband had about 10 words to say about the conversation. We all sat on the back patio and cried. We didn't know what it meant but her mantra remained steady and true... "Pray and hope."

Christmas day 2012 was the greatest homecoming in  Louise's life.
On the day that we celebrate the son of God coming into our world, Louise celebrated her son coming home along with his wife and two children.

The prodigal son came home! The brothers rejoiced! Mom and Dad were ecstatic. And as the father in Jesus' parable said, "Let us eat and celebrate! For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.  And they began to celebrate" so too did Louise and her family, together again. Empty seat filled to overflowing! Merry Christmas!

Sunday rolled around and the whole family. I mean the whole family went to church. And do you know what Father Tim preached on?
Unconditional love and forgiveness... what a day!

After church the whole family went out to breakfast. Right after the food came one of the other sons stood up and offered a toast... "to Louise, to mom for her unconditional love!"

Here's to you Louise! I raise my glass to you this day! It's going to be a great year 2013!

And to you O God, I raise my full glass, my weak voice, my wounded heart and my hopeful eyes and I say, "Here's to you, the Master of bringing us home..."

"I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29. 11)

Pray and hope, pray and hope... I will Louise. I will...

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh Often and Fear Not!