Thursday, February 28, 2013

Memory - Part 2

Memory can be a two edged sword...

I love being able to remember a lot of life's most special memories and occasions...

I hate not being able to forget some of my worst days where my decisions and actions sent my world way off course...

Memory can be a two edged sword...

My iWitness...

I am in marvel mode today...

I marvel at these words from God...

“I, I am he, who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins." (Isaiah 43. 25)

"For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8. 12)

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” (Hebrews 10. 17)

O that I would take God seriously at His word...

"O Lord... what kind of God are you that you remember my sins no more? Are you crazy? Wouldn't it be better to hold tightly onto each one of my transgressions and use it as great leverage like a sledghammer in making me behave? How is it that you in your grace and mercy choose to forget the times that I have forgotten you? Why do I have such trouble and yet at the same time take such delight in the fact that you remember my sins no more. When I can't forget my sins please O Lord help me to remember that you remember them no more..."

Indeed I am in marvel mode today...

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I hadn't talked to Bettie in a while and thought that I would give her a call and check in.

I called her up and she cheerfully answered the phone (as she always does) with a bright, "Hello!"

My response was simple, "It is I."

She laughed and hooted and quickly said, "Oh David, tell me you love me and miss me!"

"Bettie.... I love you and I miss you!"

"Oh David, tell me one more time!" And I did.

My iWitness...

Bettie was the first administrative assistant I had when I moved to Houston, Texas to start a new church. When we first met she was 69 years old. Today she is 87. She stands 58 inches tall. One of our long standing memories was for me to scare the daylights out of her on a daily basis. One day I came into the office and I sat down at my desk. She was under my desk and reached out and grabbed my leg and I jumped out of my seat screaming and yelling like a little baby. We laugh to this day over that memory.

A week or two after working together I called her on the phone and she said, "Hello?' and I responded with "It's me." She said, "It most certainly is not! You never respond with 'It's me'. You are not the direct object. You are the subject. You must repond with 'It is I.' Do you understand me?"

All I could say was, "Yes ma'am!" And for the last 18 years that has been our routine. She knows it's me because I am sure I am the only one who ever says right off the bat on the phone, "It is I."

One of my favorite things Bettie ever said to me was, "David, I am old enough to be your grandmother. If I was twenty years younger I would be old enough to be your mother. If I was twenty years younger than that, then I would run away with you." Our friendship has provided plenty of laughter!

In our conversation the other day I asked Bettie, "Do you remember when you and Julie and I went out to dinner and I was pulled over by a police officer?" (It's one of my favorite stories to tell)
My heart sank a little by her response... "No David, tell me about it."

"All three of us were going out for my birthday dinner and we got to an intersection and Julie said turn right and you said, "No, go straight." I went straight and in the process ran a red light. Within seconds blue lights were flashing and I was pulled over by a police officer. I had tinted windows in my Maxima and I rolled down the window and the office asked if I knew what I did. I said, "Yes sir I do. I know I ran that red light, but I am going out for my birthday and I really don't know where I am going and my wife told me one thing and my girlfriend in the back seat told me another thing and in all the confusion I ran the red light." The officer looked at me in disbelief and barked out, "Your girlfriend? Let me see!" I rolled down the back passenger window and Bettie, in her late 70's stuck her head out and said, "Hello officer!" He started laughing so hard and said something about, "You have enough trouble on your hand! Get out of here..." And off we went.

Bettie said in disbelief on the phone, "David, you are making that up! Did that really happen?"
"Yes Bettie, that really happened!" Her response was so honest and vulnerable, "David, I just don't remember that at all." I knew she didn't. I have told her that story about five times in the last few years and the response is always the same. "Did that really happen?"

And then I offered this to Bettie... "Bettie, I am afraid I am going to call you one day and I am going to say, "It is I" and you are going to say, "Who is this?" There was silence on the other end of the line. I continued, "Bettie, let me just say this. There may come a day when you don't remember me, but please know this... Bettie, I will never forget you."

Bettie's response was quick, "David, I will never forget you." I knew better. I hope she doesn't and I hope I never forget her either.

There was a period in my life when my life went down the drain in a hurry. There were many people who stood by me during that most difficult time. My wife Julie being the primary supporter. But every step of the way there was Bettie as well. All 4 feet 10 inches of her standing proudly by my side when many others drifted away.

On the phone I said, "Bettie, you were always there. Thank you for standing with me through some of the most difficult days." Her response made me chuckle... "David, it was easy."

Maybe there is someone who has stood by your side through thick and thin.
Maybe there is someone you need to call today and simply say, "Thank you..."

The convesation with Bettie was coming to a close. I told her one more time what she wanted to hear most... "Bettie, I love you and I miss you!" And I do...

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and fear not!
ps - Isn't it great to know that we have a God who always remembers our name! He never forgets who we are and how precious we are to Him.

God "will not leave you or forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31. 6)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bottle of Tears

When was the last time you cried?

When was the last time your stomach convulsed due to the tears flowing down your cheeks and splashing down on the ground below?

When was the last time you cried because of physical pain?

When was the last time you cried because you were overcome with great joy and delight?

When was the last time you cried due to the great grief and emotional pain that a situation brought on?

My iWitness...

Every time the Olympics roll around I know one thing for sure... I am going to cry. There's something about watching these elite athletes who have sacrificed so much and trained so hard and in the throes of competition hit the landing, make the shot, hit the tape at the end of the dash, set the record or simply finish in spite of a debilitating injury during the course of the race that makes me shed tears.

I cry when other people cry. When I see people I know and love cry in pain, I cry. When they hurt... I hurt. When I left the ministry at First Presbyterian Church in Klamath Falls, Oregon I cried a lot. When I hit the wall of frustration and the feeling of ineptitude in my new job a few weeks ago, I cried.

It's been a long time since I cried for joy. I will have to think about that today.

Here's a fascinating question... What do you do with the tears you shed? After you have wiped them away, what do you do with them? Do they simply dissolve on the cheeks of your face or do they get absorbed by a tissue? Where do these tears go?

You may be wondering... "Who keeps tears?"

Here's the answer... God does!

Jim Croce sang a song about saving time in a bottle, but did you know that the Mighty God of the Universe keeps your tears in a bottle.

Listen to Psalm 56. 8-9...

You have kept count of my tossings,
     put my tears in a bottle.
     Are they not in your book?
Then my enemies will turn back
     in the days when I call.
     This I know, that God is for me.

That's just how precious we are in God's eyes... not only does He hold our hearts in His merciful hands... He treasures our tears in a bottle, with our name on it, with our picture on it.

So... the next time those tears well up and start cascading down your cheeks, just remember, it is with great purpose and intentionality that our God does not let our tears go to waste but rather our gracious God reaches over and gently, ever so gently captures and collects them in a bottle.

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

Monday, February 25, 2013

We Are The Champions

On Sunday afternoon at the Stoltz Sports Center on the Jon Davison Court at the University of Dubuque the UD Spartans Men's Basketball team took on the Knights of Wartburg College. At stake? Only the IIAC Conference Championship! Win or go home! Spartans clashing with Knights!

After the first twenty minutes the Knights were poised to turn out the lights on the Spartans. At the halfway point UD was down by six points. For the fifteen minutes of halftime the crowd sat on their hands with heads hung low, shoulders slumped with the decibal meter reader registering negative numbers.

Then the second half began. Wow! What a comeback. Spartans began knocking down three pointers and then there was an electric dunk that sent the crowd into wild hysteria. Knights could not buy a basket in their quickly tarnishing armor. And before you knew it the game was all but over. We were just waiting for the clock to run out. The Spartans won 73-60, outscoring their opponents by nineteen points in the second half. The buzzer sounded. Game over!

"We Are The Champions" blared over the loud speakers while players jumped into each other's arms and pure delight washed over the faces of families, fans and players alike. The ladder was placed under the basket and each player took his turn to cut a piece of the net to hold on to forever as that great reminder of "remember when..." The head coach was the last one to cut down the remaining net and the jubilant crowd went crazy.

Perfectly in tune with the band Queen I was singing at the top of my lungs, "We Are The Champions!" Congratulations Spartans!!

My iWitness...

It struck me last night... while my voice was still hoarse from yelling, cheering and singing, "is the word "Champion" in the Bible?"  Here I am belting out We are The Champions and I was wondering if being a "champion" was even in the Bible.

When we are talking about "victory"... you better believe that concept and word are prevalent in the Bible. "Death is swallowed up in victory."  Paul encourages us to run the race so as to "win" in order to take posession of the prize that has been prepared for us through Christ Jesus.

But there is only one "Champion" mentioned in my Bible.
Are you ready for this?

His name is Goliath!

"And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span." (1 Samuel 17. 4)

This champion was as arrogant as they come. His ultimate mistake was to make fun of our God in the face of a young boy who was "a man after God's own heart" - David.

Listen to what happened next...

David approaches the "Champion" Goliath with a slingshot and five smooth stones. The Champion chomps at the bit to take out the boy and before he knows what hits him, he is hit with a stone right in the middle of the forehead and you can hear the crowd cheering... "Timmmmber!!"  Down goes the Champion.

"Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled." (1 Samuel 17. 51)

Pay attention to the Philistines... When they "saw that their champion was dead, they fled."

Guess what? When the disciples of Jesus saw that their Savior was dead, they fled. Only John stuck around.

Here's the good news... Our Champion, Our Savior is not dead! He is alive! Death is indeed swallowed up in Victory. Jesus has overcome the last enemy - death. He is risen. He is risen indeed!

We don't ever have to flee. When Jesus rose from the dead, the ultimate game of life versus death was over. Jesus won. That game is over. With our trust in Jesus and with His promise of eternal life for all those who believe the only thing left to happen is for the nets to be cut down.

So now we wait... the time between the last buzzer and the last thread holding the net to the goal seems like an eternity. It's not. It just seems that way. With each passing day we are one day closer to seeing the nets come down and hear the heavenly host of angels singing together...
We Are The Champions!

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

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Baton

The indoor track and field Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) championships were held last night at the University of Dubuque in the Chlapaty Wellness and Recreation Center (CRWC). The kids and I arrived later in the evening, just in time for the relay races.

Undertand this... the indoor track is oval in shape and is only 200 meters long. An outdoor track is oval in shape and is 400 meters long.

The runners from all the schools were poetry in motion - chiseled arms pumping, muscle toned legs flying, cheeks inhaling and exhaling at a furious pace, hair wind blown, tummies flat and ripped, determined minds extremely focused, rabid fans cheering and the most important of all... baton firmly fixed in the grasp of the runner's hand ready to be passed on to the next runner in the relay.

Passing the baton to the next runner in the relay is a carefully choreographed dance, almost with ballet type precision and grace. Every runner passed the baton without fail... except for one team. The baton holder tried with great effort to pass on the baton to his teammate but could not find his waving hand within the space allowed. Both runners frustrated veered off the track in complete disgust having never passed the baton and therefore being disqualified from the race. One sad note was the next runner who was 200 meters away didn't realize that his team had been disqualified and there he stood waiting and waiting for his teammate to come around the last turn. It wasn't until an official came over and whispered to him that no one would be coming that his shoulders slumped and he walked off the track in great disappointment.

Agony struck one of our University of Dubuque runners. Having just received the baton, he took off like a bandit and then for no apparent reason the baton simply slipped from his grasp and the baton bounced erratically on the ground as his body kept running forward...

My iWitness...

For a lot of us the baton of the Christian Faith was passed on to us from our family. I know it was for me. My grandparents were faithful Christians. My parents were faithful Christians. Every Sunday we were at church. Before church was Sunday school. Every week I was at choir practice as a young person. After choir practice was youth group. With the baton of Jesus in my hand I went off to college and have never stopped running since. The passing of the baton was successful!

As I watched that one relay team not make the baton pass successfully my heart broke for the runner who was 200 meters away who was waiting for the baton that would never come.

Let's break that down...
The first runner was the dad. The second runner was the son. The third runner was the grandson. The fourth runner the great grandson.

The dad (1st runner) runs the race and it comes time for him to pass it on to his son (2nd runner) and for whatever reason is unsuccessful in passing it on. The baton is dropped. Now the grandson (3rd runner) is on the track. He is ready to run. He is in position bouncing on the balls of his feet. He can't wait to get the baton. The baton never arrives. And here is the saddest part... the great grandson (4th runner) never even gets to go out on the track.

Make it our aim to pass on the baton of faith to our children. Don't leave it up to the Church to do that. Don't leave it up to the private Christian School to do that. It is up to us! It's up to you and me to run the race and pass on the baton of faith to those coming after us.

Where would Timothy from the New Testament be without his mom and grandmother. Listen to Paul's words to Timothy...

"I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,vfor God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." (2 Timothy 1. 5-7)

Don't forget about my friend who dropped the baton in the middle of the race.

You know what he did?

He stopped, turned around, bent down, picked up the baton and started running again.

Have you ever dropped the baton?

Me too...

It's okay. It happens. Just don't keep running without the baton.

Stop (recognize something is missing). Turn around (repent), bend down (get down on your knees if you have to), pick up the baton (the faith is right there - it won't run away from you) and start running the race again (other Christians are cheering you on) keeping our eyes on Jesus.

One last thought... there are people 1200 meters down the track that are depending on us to get down the track of life and pass the baton...

You may trip, stumble and flat out fall on your face along the way. The good news is that as you hold on to the baton, the baton holds on to you...

Have a great run...

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

Saturday, February 23, 2013


The story is mesmerizing! The opening paragraph was enough to make me read the whole article. The fact that the AP story came out of Portland, Oregon (my most recent home state) made the article even more compelling. Here's that opening paragraph...

"As their mother lay dead in the middle of the night, a 4-year-old Oregon girl dragged her seriously injured younger sister from a crashed car and the two huddled under a blanket -- and waited."

Don't you want to read more? Don't you want to hear Paul Harvey say, "And now for the rest of the story"?

Here's the rest of the story... Two fisherman driving along highway 401 noticed a gash in an alder tree and had a strange feeling. They drove past, discussed the situation, turned around and delved deep in the woods to find thewreckage and the two sisters under a blanket -- waiting.

Authorities arrived... the younger sister life-flighted to Portland.. the older sister taken to local hospital and released. The dad arrives to pick up the older. No further details released. Immense grieving on his part has begun. The two fisherman are hailed as heroes and appropriately so.

Wow! What a story... extreme tragedy followed by extreme heroism on the older sister's part and on the part of the fisherman. The older sister will always be remembered for saving her sister. The fisherman will always be remembered for saving the girls. Incredible story.

My iWitness...

There was another aspect of this story that struck me and made my brain and heart itch so much that I had to scratch it.

Two quotes from the fisherman caught me off guard and by surprise...

"I don't know exactly what told us to turn around, but I'm just really thankful we did."

"She saved her sister" said one fisherman. "She was sharp enough. I don't know how she did it or anything else, but something was watching over those little girls."

The title of this blog was almost - "Giving credit where credit is due."

I wonder if it bothers me more than it bothers God that He does not get the credit where the credit is due.

While reading the article my mind and heart were shouting "God told you to turn around!!" And later in the article.. "It's not something that was watching over them! It is SOMEONE! And that someone is God!"

Am I being too protective of God? The fact that the two girls were saved should supercede any disparity over who gets the credit. But... there's something within me that wants the world to know that God saved those two girls too.

I am positive God is big enough, strong enough and secure enough that He is going to be okay without getting the credit for this one.

So, let me just say this... The story is mesmerizing! I was under the blanket, in the cold for what seemed like years. And I waited. You noticed the gash. You saw the wreckage. More than that... you saw me, my heart, my life and my future. Thank you for stopping, turnning around and going deep into the woods to pull me out of the wreckage and patch me up and get me going again. You are my hero God!!!

Just one more request God... would it be okay if I hold your hand the rest of the way?

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

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." (2 Corinthians 13. 14)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rest Area

The Dean of our seminary opened a meeting yesterday with prayer and he quoted St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (born 354 AD).

"Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee;
for Thou hast formed us for Thyself,
and our hearts are restless
till they find rest in Thee..."

My iWitness...

Rest is a need for our bodies.

Rest is a need for our minds.

Rest is a need for our souls.

Rest is a need for our hearts.

Where do you find your rest?

What activity brings you rest?

Why do we feel so guilty when we rest?

Why do we feel so lazy when we rest?

When was the last time you rested?

What makes our hearts restless?

God needed to rest on the seventh day. Maybe He was tired after making us on the sixth...

I have asked the question seven lines earlier, but it bears worth repeating...

"Where do you find your rest?"

Follow up question... That place that you are working so hard to find rest... does it? Does it bring rest?

The weekend is upon us...

Let's rest... shall we?

What objections immediately come to mind after such a suggestion?

When will you rest in the days ahead? Where will you rest?  How will you rest?

Could there be a way to find value and self-worth in resting?

Let's give it a try... shall we?

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11. 28)

"Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee;
for Thou hast formed us for Thyself,
and our hearts are restless
till they find rest in Thee..."

And that's my iWitness
Laugh often and fear not!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hanging Pictures

The nine picture frames were laid out on the floor forming a nice square. Each picture frame held in its place its own piece of artwork. Some of the frames were square and some were rectangular. With each frame having one or two hooks by which to hang from the total number of hooks equaled ten.

The space on the newly painted wall was secured and I was asked if I could take the nine picture frames that formed a square on the floor and replicate that on the living room wall. "No problem. This will be easy," was my response.

You already know what happened don't you? You can see this one coming from a mile away. Let me just say that the pictures are up on the wall. The nine picture frames form a "somewhat square." It took a long long long time. And the big question for  you is, "How many holes do you think it took to hang the nine pictures with their ten hooks?
My iWitness...

There they were... so neatly and nicely laid out in the perfect square configuration on the floor. Just put them up on the wall in the same pattern. Replicate. Piece of cake! No problem! Turning the theory into action? "I've got it!!"

My wife made a classic comment during this relatively easy exercise... "I don't like to hear you cursing so much..."

Isn't it that way in the spiritual life with Jesus? He offers such simple commands that in "theory" should be easy to replicate. "Love one another," Jesus commands. "Piece of cake! I've got it!," is our response. And we begin to love others and quickly discover that loving others is messy and difficult. It's hard work and most of the time it takes a lot of holes in the wall of love to get the picture frame hanging level.

Sometimes there is even a little cursing that accompanies our best efforts to follow and fulfill the commands and counsel of Jesus.

Here's the doesn't matter how many holes there are in our wall of life. The beauty of it all rests in the fact that it only took three holes in a cross to cover our holes and make us "all square" with the Savior of the world.

And that's the best news of all..

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1. 18)

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

ps... Behind the nine pictures there are 20 holes in the wall...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Barefoot in Heaven

One of the greatest joys in my life has been being present for the birth of my children. At 12:01 am on May 14, 2005 I heard Faith's voice for the first time. A few minutes later I was cutting the umbilical cord. Five months later on October 16th in the early afternoon, Joshua was making his presence known for the first time.

To be present when life breathes in the first breath is one of life's greatest moments and privileges.

Do we consider being present when a life breathes its last breath to be one of life's greaest moments and privileges? Indeed it is...

I had the privilege of visiting by phone yesterday with one of my favorite people in all the world. She's dedicated her whole life to education and helping children, teachers, administrators and schools become more than they every thought they could be. She's recently retired, but her heartbeat  for education and improving one's life still beats strong. She can't be more than 5 five feet tall but don't mistake her size for lack of gusto, energy and might. She is a bundle of energy, magnetism and bright lights for all who know her.

All of her students, some who are now in their 30's and older call her "Mrs. A." She married a man who is the salt of the earth and who just so happened to have a last name that is hard to pronounce for children. "Mrs. A" is what stuck.

One of the many things that Mrs. A is known for is her famous saying, "You knocked my socks off." Any time a student, a teacher or anybody in the community would do something incredible, outstanding and/or amazing she would say with great excitement, with eyes wide open, with a grin from ear to ear, "You knocked my socks off!" And then with a certain smirk she would reach into her coat pocket and produce a pair of socks!! The kids went crazy! The teachers laughed! And the adults wondered, "How did she do that?"

Last Saturday afternoon around 5:15 one of life's greatest moments and privileges came Mrs. A's way. All the grandchildren had called. The priest had visited. The nurses were ready. Mrs. A was at the bedside next to her brother and with one last breath, Mrs. A's mom passed away. She was 87.

As I mentioned, I had the privilege and pleasure of visiting by phone with Mrs. A yesterday. It was only the third day in her whole life of 60 years that she has been without her mom. They were close. They talked all the time, Mrs. A always looking to mom for motherly advice... and always getting it.

The matriarchal mantle has been passed down to Mrs. A. It's a mantle that we don't always accept readily and willingly. Nonetheless, the mantle is passed and Mrs. A was trying to get used to it sitting in her lap. We talked about such things on the phone and then the time came for us to hang up. I asked her if I could pray with her over the phone. Mrs. A said, "Yes, please.. I would like that."

I invoked the name of the Lord and praised Him for the wonder of fiberoptic technology that allowed us to talk and be close to one another even though we were separated by 2000 miles. In the middle of the prayer I began to hear that which I have heard so many times before.. It starts off with a sniffle and then builds into a cascading of tears and then the floodgates open and the weeping begins. That in and of itself is a privilege to be present with a dear friend in the midst of their grief and pain. We know what our friend's laughter sounds like, but do we know what their tears sound like? Of course, I started to cry as well on the phone with my own words becoming somewhat inaudible. I said, "Amen" and within seconds of telling each other that we loved each other the phone call came to an end.

Mrs. A... there's one more thing I would like to tell you...

On Saturday night around 5:15 pm your mom's last breath turned out be her first inhalation of the heavenly kingdom! The majesty, the beauty, the brilliance and the applause of the "great cloud of witnesses" and saints that have gone on before her and the fact that your mom was face to face with  God the Father and her savior Jesus and was looking at them eye to eye in her new heavenly body where there is no more illness, no more tears, no more sadness but rather full pure joy radiating everywhere and the fact that the symphony of the angel's voices were singing "Holy, Holy, Holy"... only one thing could happen at a moment like that...

It knocked her socks off...

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

"Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his saints." (Psalm 116. 15)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Talking to God

I was talking with someone yesterday that I had just met for the first time. We talked for about 90 minutes.

My iWitness...

We have conversations each and every day with people we know and with people we don't know. How does our conversation differ with each category? How is the tone similar? How is the tone different? What is our body language like with different people? Tense? Relaxed?

What is our conversation like with God? What is our vocabulary? Is it conversational? Revered? Fearful? Stammering and stuttering as we approach the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Or is it simple, honest and true like a little child to her mom or dad?

In going through my Christmas cards the other night I came across this prayer that a dear friend had sent. I love the language, the tone and the vocabulary. It's a prayer that dates back to a 1941 Lutheran Book of Prayer. Although the old English is new to my ears and lips, the One to whom I pray is not...

"Again, O heavenly Father, Thou dost grant me strength to rise to the tasks of the day, and thank Thee for this Thy mercy and love. Without being upheld by Thy power I should be unable to live. Give me a spirit of gratitude for all Thy gifts. Above all Dear Father, keep me grateful for the gift of forgiveness of all my sins through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and my my Savior. Grant that whatever need, whatever sorrow, may beset my day, my faith in this forgiveness may remain firm. Let no grief or pain, no doubt or gloom, come between me and the certainty of Thy love. If it is thy purpose to try me this day with difficulties for the body or the heart, grant that I may by Thy Spirit conquer in this trial and hold fast to Thy mercy, knowing that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory Thou hast in store for me. Make Thy Word my joy, Thy counsel my guide, Thy presence my peace. In Jesus' name AMEN."

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

Monday, February 18, 2013

Christmas Cards in February

The routine was always the same.
Breakfast with my paternal grandparents in Orlando, Florida. The grandkids called them "Nana and Dendy." They were the epitome of Southern hospitality, class and etiquette. I cannot ever remember my grandfather, The Reverend Dr. Marshall C. Dendy, Sr. in anything but a shirt and tie and suit. Nana always in a dress. And the breakfast routine was always the same. Fresh cut grapefruit halves sat in beautiful fine china bowls having just been picked 20 minutes earlier by their grandson who loved to climb the fruit trees in the backyard. Grapefruit spoons sat just to the right of the bowls.

Eating was about to commence but first the blessing.  But before the blessing, out came the Christmas cards. Nana or Dendy would reach into a basket and grab two or three of the Christmas cards they had received from the previous Christmas. They would open them, read the note, call the sender by name and then look at each other and give a knowing smile. They would then turn to me and share how they knew the sender of the Christmas card. The next day the same thing would happen all over again. And so the breakfast routine continued with the Christmas cards each morning until they ran out of cards.

At the saying of the blessing Nana and Dendy would pray for the people in the Christmas card. What a great way to keep the joy of friendship and the spirit of Christmas last all year long. Every year they would receive well over 400 hundred Christmas cards. And they prayed for these 400 hundred families all year long.

Last night I finally sat down and went through all of our Christmas cards. What a rewarding experience. How blessed am I to be touched by so many wonderful friends and family members. With each card or family photograph my mind, in an instant would relive how our lives had intersected and how our lives were still connected.

Some cards were from people I have known for 49 years. Some from people I have known for less than one year. High school classmates, College friends, parishioners from Augusta, Georiga, Houston,Texas and Klamath Falls, Oregon, and friends picked up along the way through ministry, consulting and University life. My life is rich with people I love and people who love me.

My only regret is that it would take more than a full time job to stay in touch with my friends in the way that I would really like to. I hope they understand...

My iWitness...

I have heard it said that people come into your life for a reason, a season or for a lifetime. Well, whatever the reason, season or lifetime, I say, "Friends are a blessing from the Lord and I thank God for each of you that I have the privilege of calling friend."

Thank you for blessing my life in ways unimaginable!

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (John 15. 13)

Thank you for laying down your life long enough to be my friend. Please know what a joy it is and has been for me to lay down my life even for just a moment to be yours...

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

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The First Born

I had the privilege of teaching the children's Sunday School lesson today at church. It was my responsibility to teach about the 10 plagues that God brought on Pharaoh and the Egyptians after Moses' famous plea of "Let my people Go."

Moses had one simple request... "Let my people go so that we may go and serve and worship the Lord our God."

Get in God's way of His children worshiping and serving Him and there will be consequences.

God went to great lengths to demonstrate how far He will go if you keep His children from worshiping Him.

The plagues are just that - decimating plagues that crippled the Egyptians, their economy and ultimately their families.

One after another here they came...
1. Water turned to blood
2. Leaping frogs everywhere
3. Gnats that make us itch and scratch
4. Fly festation
5. All the cows die
6. The very painful "boils" covering everyone's body
7. Hail raining down on the people, the houses, the crops
8. Whatever was left the Locusts ate.
9. Darkness blankets the earth
10. This is the one that cuts to the core. The first born of all families and livestock willl die at midnight...

Something hit me today that had never crossed by mind before...

It was the death of his firstborn that finally changed the stubborn mind of Pharaoh to let the people go in freedom...

It was the death of God's only son that paved the way to change the stubborn mind of the world to let itself move toward freedom in Christ.

Once again, in comparison, God goes to the greatest lengths to make it possible for His people to be free and to go home!

What lengths does God need to go with us to change our stubborn mind so that we may be set free to follow Him fully?

"For freedom Christ has set us free." (Galatians 5. 1)

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

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Kate Upton and the Polar Bare

It's happened every year since Cheryl Tiegs came walking toward me in her see through fishnet bathing suit while I was sitting in Mr. Moody's World History class in ninth grade. The annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition once again found its way into my hands. This time it was Kate Upton in the Antarctic. Talk about an oxymoron - Bathing suits and the Antarctic. When I think of visiting Antarctica I think of down jackets, heavy duty gloves and boots and lots of wind in subzero temps. Bathing suits and the South Pole - does not sound like a good combination.

My iWitness...

It first started with Cheryl Tiegs. The very fact that I can remember most of their names from memory scares me even more... Cheryl Tiegs, Carol Alt, Christie Brinkley, Elle MacPherson,  Rahcel Hunter, Kathy Ireland, Cindi Crawford, Anne V, Brooklyn Decker, Bar Refaeli, Irina Shayk, Cintia Decker, Kate Upton and the list goes on and on...

Sports Illustrated used to have about 12 pages dedicated to the Annual Swimsuit edition. Today the whole issue is dedicated to the scantily clad models in bikinis, mono-kinis and no-kinis.

Knowing the model's names somehow makes the models less objective and more personal. At least that is how my mind justifies staring at their bodies. But what happens over time, over and over again is that these beautiful women just become objects. Objects of fantasy, distraction and delusion. There's really no need for the women to be wearing swimsuits. I have already undressed them in my mind a hundred times before I even turn the page. The road my mind ultimately goes down is never a good one.

And so, once again, the second week of February becomes a struggle with the Swimsuit Edition. There have been years when I have thrown away the issue as soon as it arrives in the mail. There have been years where I didn't subscribe. But here's the reality - I've seen every issue cover to cover.

What's more is that you can go online and see hundreds more pictures of the same models. It really is amazing and scary what you can find in the way of images, photos and pictures on the internet with two or three simple key strokes.

How do the young people, the middle aged people and the elderly deal with such easy access?

There you have it... confession. Confession of the soul. Confession of a man who's tired of struggling. Confession of a man who loves and appreciates the beauty that God has created in the human body. Confession of a man who puts his hope in the forgiving, loving mercy of the God who is not done with me yet.

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." (James 5. 16)

I will pray for you. Will you pray for me? - so that we may both be healed!

May you know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that which you struggle with, that which you succumb to, that which you find yourself in a losing battle - Nothing will ever separate you from the love and grace God has for you... Nothing!

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

Friday, February 15, 2013

Creating Room for God

I was walking through the K-mart parking lot yesterday and came across a four door sedan that looked rather odd to me. It was a Chevrolet Classic. Everything looked just fine on the outside. It was a little dirty from the salt and snow. Overall, it looked like a normal car.

Upon closer observation, it was what was on the inside that drew my attention. In fact, I stopped walking in order to take in what my eyes were seeing. Inside this car there was trash, paper, newspapers and bags that literally and completely filled the car up to the top except for one space - the driver's seat.

My iWitness...

I had to wonder, "How long does it take to fill up a car with trash with only enough room for the driver?" The car didn't look that old.

I was quickly reminded about my own life. How much trash fills up my own life that only leaves room for me - the driver? In fact, there are times I am relieved that there is so much trash for that very reason -  "there's only room for the driver, who happens to be me!"

The stark reality of the car in the parking lot was that it looked perfectly fine on the outside. But on the inside it was filled with trash.

How much time do we spend on making sure the "outside" looks great, refined, stylish, complete and cool?

How much time do we spend cleaning and clearing out the trash on the inside?

I believe that the car of my life was made to carry more passengers than just me. When it is filled to the top with trash there is no room for God.

O Lord, create in my car more room for You and take my hands and let them relax and quit clenching tightly to those things that are really just trash in my life. Amen!

"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalm 51. 10)

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

Thursday, February 14, 2013

P90X for the Soul

Ash Wednesday was yesterday. It marks the beginning of Lent. If you are not familiar with the tradition or practice of Lent, it is basically a 40 day "P90X for the soul" in preparing the heart, the mind and the body for the Passion of Christ found in the last week of his life, leading up to the crucifixion on the old rugged cross.  When we humble ourselves, focus on Him, lay aside every weight of sin that slows us down and walk these 40 days with Jesus right up unto and into his death then the celebration of Easter Sunday morning is all the more intense with joy and wonderment. Lent is a time for spiritual cleansing.

My iWitness...

I ran across this prayer yesterday on Ash Wednesday by Charles de Foucauld...

Abba, I abandon myself into your hands. Do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you. I am ready for all. I accept all. Let only your will be done in me and all your people. I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my spirit. I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and I give myself , surrender myself into your hands, without reserve, with boundless confidence, for you are my Father."

There is so much of me that wants this to be my prayer! Yes, Lord, without reserve and with boundless confidence I give myself over to you 100 percent!!

And yet there is so much of me that does not want this to be my prayer. Yes, Lord, take 68% of my life without reserve, but please, pretty please don't whittle away too much. Please don't chisel too deep. Don't file off too much of the rough edges. Don't press too hard in reshaping me and forming me to be Christ-like.

What do you think?

Is the prayer of Charles de Foucauld your prayer or is it too extreme, too difficult?

If so, then what is your prayer?

I would love to hear your comments on this as we turn our eyes to Jerusalem, to the Cross and to the empty tomb...

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Wrong Plane

Everyone was settled in their seat. I mean everyone. The family with four kids under 8 years of age had just barely made it onto the flight. The flight attendant had rearranged people to accomodate the newly boarded "lap baby" with sufficient oxygen masks in case of an emergency. My "Kindle" was open and I started to read my electronic book on "Rogue Waves."

A quick 90 minute flight and then a 90 minute drive and I would be home. Ready. Set. Go!

The flight attendant barked out one last time our final destination. A moment later all panic broke loose for the gentleman in 8B. He jumped out of his seat. Ran to the front of the plane. Engaged in some animated conversation with the flight attendant. Ran back to his seat. Started gathering his things. I heard the flight attendant ask, "Did you gate check a bag?" (He had!) She continued, "Well then you better get out there before they put your bag on the plane." Disheveled, hanging on to multiple articles under every available armpit and running faster than Usain Bolt down the center aisle leading to one of the four emergency exits (the main cabin door), the man in 8B disappeared.

The reason? He was on the wrong plane!

My iWitness...

Ever been on the wrong plane?

How does that happen? Multiple gates lead to multiple planes that sit on the tarmac waiting for their passengers. The gate agent says, "Your plane is right there." You are positive he pointed to the plane on the left. You have 100 things on your mind. You're texting a message saying "On my way" to your loved one who awaits your arrival with bated breath. You find your seat. You relax. You get comfortable. You take in your surroundings. Only to discover minutes later you are on the wrong plane.

It's happened to all of us. Maybe not at the Denver International Airport but somewhere on the journey of life we got on a plane that took us to its intended destination. The only problem being "that intended destination" was not our "intended destination."

We jumped on board with the right friends, the right partner, the right group and the right motives. Only problem? The plane was going to a destination that was not on our itinerary.

We didn't do it on purpose. We weren't being malicoius. We weren't even being rebellious. Maybe we just weren't paying attention. Sometimes it happens...

Here's the good news...

If we're listening, like the man in 8B, we might hear an announcement that will alert us to the fact that the plane we are on is the wrong plane.

Before it's too late, God in His infinite wisdom and grace gives us an opening and an opportunity to get on the right plane and get off the wrong plane.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10.13)

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Manual

The dashboard lights started flashing. Not just one light mind you. All the lights and displays on the whole dashboard lit up the console like it was the Fourth of July. The engine started revving up and then dying out. My friend was able to get the car into a parking lot before it came to a deaad halt.

She placed the car in park, leaned over to the glove compartment and retrieved the manual... for the very first time.

My iWitness...

The key to this story is that this was the very first time that a car had broken down on my friend. Not just this car... any car.

The fascinating thing about the breakdown was the cold reality that as she grabbed the manual, she had no idea where to begin. The car manual can be overwhelming. It's broken down into so many different chapters filled with words that seem foreign to the automotive novice.

Where does one start when all the display lights have raised their hand demanding your immediate attention? Her conclusion was "when you've never read the manual, how do you know where to start?"

Couldn't have said it better myself.

When life shifts (as it did yesterday), where in the manual of life, The Bible do I turn? There are so many books and chapters and words and names of people that I cannot pronounce. Where does one start?

Wherever you start the good news is that there is a manual available. The question is , will we take it out and familiarize ourself with it, know it from cover to cover or will we leave it in the glove compartment until the next emergency?

"Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path." (Psalm 119. 105)

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

Monday, February 11, 2013

Shift Happens

The delightful flight attendant's voice echoed the same announcement that I have heard on every flight since the day I was born. The warning came right after we landed.

"Please be careful when opening the overhead bins as contents may have shifted during the flight."

My iWitness...

Shift Happens...

It happens to all of us. No one is exempt. "Shift" is not discriminatory. The contents of eveyone's life shifts at one time or another.

"Oh, I will never get divorced," we say. Fifteen years later we find ourselves single again. 
"Those homeless people just don't have a good work ethic," we pontificate. Next thing we know we have been given the pink slip and within two months our savings have dried up and the house is going into foreclosure with nowhere to go.
"I exercise everyday. I am in great shape," we say with confidence. Cancer sometimes doesn't care if you exercise or don't before it decides to strike.

Children disobey and run off to do their own thing. Friends are fickle. Families are finicky. Occupations can be hazardous. Car accidents happen. I could go on all day.

Air turbulence causes the contents of our life to be shifted.

So what do we do when we open the overhead bin of life and discover that the contents have shifted?

We look to the one who has not shifted!

In a great storm on the sea the disciples of Jesus were panicking as their dispositions and egos were being shifted. But it was Jesus who was "still and solid" in the storm, unshifted by the waves and the tempest. Jesus was at peace in the midst of the storm.

"And they went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, "Where is your faith?" (Luke 8. 24-25)

In a moment Jesus stilled the storm. 

As one of my favorite songs declares.... "Sometimes he calms the storm, sometimes he calms the child." May Jesus still the storm of your world today and in the process may He still you too.

Shift Happens! And guess what? 

Jesus happens too...

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

Sunday, February 10, 2013

On being famous...

It's an age old question.

What would you rather have... Wealth, Power or Fame?

The answer always seemed obvious to me... "All three!"

I was attending a birthday party last night and in the "media room" there were photos of famous people all over the walls. Elvis, Eric Clapton, Kobe Bryant, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando and the list could go on and on... It was a great party, celebrating the life of a good friend.

My iWitness...

Wealth, power and fame. The ultimate trinity of seduction.

What is it that is so attractive about this three headed monster? Now, isn't this interesting. I am assuming that these three traits are somehow incongruent with the Christian outlook on life. They are not necessary evils, but they are slippery roads that could lead to a very destrucitve end.

But then again, look at Billy Graham. He has wealth, power, fame, all for the casue of Christ. How he has managed all of three is a true testament to his faith and to the work of the Holy Spirit.

I have to confess...I struggle with these three.

I would love to have millions of dollars. I know that I would use them to build up the kingdom. At least that's what my mind says now.

I would love to be powerful. I would use that power to influence and broker peace around the world. Or would I?

And to be famous! Yes! To be recognized in every corner of the world, wow! What great things I could accomplish for Jesus. If that were to happen I have a feeling I would be so focused on myself that I would have a very difficult time keeping my eyes on Jesus.

Julie and I were attending Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin last summer. It's a weeklong music festival that features musical acts on at least 15 different stages all day for a week. It is amazing!!
On one little makeshift stage tucked back behind some trees was a guy playing his guitar and singing. He had a crowd of about 30 watching him and appreciating his creative talent. It was the lyrics, particularly the chorus of this song that has haunted me for the last seven months...

I'm a good good boy
I always listen to the angel on my shoulder
But if the devil called me by my name
And asked if I would trade it all in for fame...
I don't know

It's that last line that is so honest and haunting... "I don't know..."

Oh Lord, help me to know...

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

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Sweetest Dance

It was advertised as "The Sweetest Dance."

Seeing how Valentine's Day is right around the corner, this seemed like an appropriate name for the Irving Elementary School's dance, party and games night held last night.

My wife Julie was stationed in her normal locale, the concessions stand. Greeting each parent, grandparent and each child with her ear to ear smile and warm eyes she sold Happy Joe's pizza by the slice, Mountain Dew (great choice for an elementary school dance!!) and Taffy for two hours straight.

Joshua was to meet a certain classmate of the female persuasion at a secret location within the gym walls. How secret could it be in a big rectangular box?

Faith was all dressed up in her dress, tights, ballet type shoes and hair pulled back in what she simply calls "a pony."

The "Dance" consisted of kids running around playing tag. Moms, dads, grandparents sat in the bleachers trying to keep an eye on their child in a sea of children running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

Parents socialized, laughed and some sat by themselves with that catatonic stare that comes at the end of a long week of work, worries and whatever else may be ailing them.

The DJ was excellent at involving the kids and parents in games and dancing. When he played, "Call Me Maybe and "Gangnam Style" the kids went crazy and seemed to know all the dance moves and words associated with each song. I didn't know some of our young people were so well versed in Korean!

And then the dance came to an end and the gym was cleaned up and cleared out in no time...

My iWitness...

When was the last time you danced?
When was the last time you were able to freely express yourself with reckless abandonment and move to the music without fear and/or embarrassment?
When was the last time you heard the music?
What keeps you from dancing?
What would happen if you decided to dance before the Lord?

The Psalmist proclaims, "Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! (Psalm 150. 4)

At the end of the party last night a slow song came on and I seized the opportunity to "dance" before the Lord with a certain person of the female persuasion - my daughter Faith.

We walked out on the dance floor, hand in hand. I swung her around, lifting her high in the air with my right arm under her legs.

Her right hand extended out and her fingers intertwined with my fingers on my left hand and we swayed back and forth to the music twirling around with the wind blowing through her "pony." It was as if no one else was in the gym. The music slowed until it faded out. We stopped and she leaned her head back and I leaned my head back and we looked at each other and I said, "I love you Faith." With that she leaned forward and gave me a kiss... I set her down and she ran off...

It certainly lived up to its billing.

It was indeed The Sweetest Dance.

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

Friday, February 8, 2013

Nuff said...

A high school classmate from Tennessee called me yesterday. The conversation was saturated with short stories, quick updates, in depth questions and of course lots of laughter. My friend was telling a humorous story about parenting and the story came to a quick conclusion with a common southern phrase, "Nuff said." I laughed out loud. It's been a long time since I heard someone say, "Nuff said."

"Nuff said" is simply a way of saying, "enough said." "End of story." "Nothing else to add, done, finito." "Topic of conversation has now drawn to a conclusion and there is nothing to add."

My iWitness...

A few thoughts, ideas, statements and beliefs came to my mind today that could be ended with "Nuff said."

Jesus is Lord, and I am not. "Nuff said."

Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. "Nuff said."

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. "Nuff said."

I get tired of people saying that God sees things in black and white. Why would God limit Himself to seeing the world with just two of the millions of colors that He created? "Nuff said."

Baptists will be surprised to see who is in heaven. "Nuff said."

Laughter is one of God's greatest gifts. "Nuff said." (see previous statement!)

I am a sinner. I fall short of God's glory each and every day. "Nuff said."

Jesus is faithful and just and forgives me of my sins. Like a giant etch a sketch, Jesus just flips me over and gives me a good shake or two and my slate is wiped clean, ready to start all over again. "Nuff said."

Jesus loves me no matter what. No matter what! "Nuff said."

The length of God's arm of grace and mercy stretches farther than I can ever run... "Nuff said."

God's love and compassion for me is not contingent upon my moods, my actions, my feelings, my biorhythms or my thoughts. He who loves me, loves me out of the great depth and well of His own being and not out of my shallow pool of paltry pietism. "Nuff said."

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2. 5-11) "Nuff said!"

I could keep on going but I am feeling the strong need to stop for now...

I love being an iWitness of God at work everyday in everyday life with everyday people!!

"Nuff said."

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

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Peanuts and the Voice of God

On October 2, 1950 the comic strip Peanuts made its first appearance. For fifty years Charles M. Schulz entertained us on a daily and weekly basis with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, Linus, Woodstock, Peppermint Patty and little sister Sally Brown.

Fifteen years, two months and seven days after Peanuts made its comic strip debut, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" made its famous CBS television debut on December 9, 1965.

For fifteen years readers had read the Peanuts comic strip without the characters having one thing.


What does Charlie Brown's voice sound like? When Lucy raises a fist how will the pitch of her voice sound to our tender ears? When Linus recites the Biblical Christmas story for the very first time on a nationally televised show with his little green beanie softly resting on his head and his ever present blue blanket cradled in his left arm, what will his voice sound like as it emanates and resonates through the empty school auditorium as he says, "Lights please... And there were in the same country shepherds..."?

All those questions were answered on December 9, 1965...

My iWitness...

I was chatting with a friend of mine on the phone yesterday and at two different points during the conversation we both made mention that it was "good to hear your voice."

What is it about our voices? It's more than just wind blowing through vocal chords and the subsequent sound that escapes through our mouth into the open air for ears to hear.

The voice of someone we know, we love, we adore, we admire, we cherish, we know deeply... is unmistakeable and unforgettable. Be outside in a crowded marketplace with hundreds of voices filling your ears and then just have that loved one say your name and your head snaps in the direction from which that "voice" is coming from. Is there anything better?

I am currrently reading through the Bible. I have read it cover to cover before. The Lord speaks on many occasions. For at least 45 years I have read it over and over again, "Thus says the Lord..."

But what does the Lord's voice sound like?

When you read such things and think of God speaking what "voice" do you hear? Soft? Loud and thunderous? Tender? Penetrating? Angry? Loving? Gracious? What voice do you hear? When God says of Jesus, "This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3. 17), what did that sound like?

One of my best friends, Lt. Colonel Skip "Hoss" Roberston heard God's voice for the first time on February 26, 2006. He was 43. (Fly Skip Fly)
My dad, Marshall C. Dendy Jr. heard God's voice for the first time on April 25, 2010. He was 80 years old.

When will we hear God's voice for the first time? Face to face? Chest to chest? Lips to ear? In front of the great cloud of witnesses?

All those questions will be answered on...

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

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Look at me

My son and I were performing some sort of balancing act while trying to accomplish a rather simple task. He kept getting off balance and almost falling.
It was such an easy command on my part.
Evidently it was rather hard to follow.
"Look at me" was all I said. When Joshua's eyes caught mine, he was in total balance. Take his eyes away from my intensely tender gaze and he was falling all over himself.
What a dizzying display of dance we offered.

My iWitness...

It's three simple words.

Like most three word phrases, it is hard to say and employ in our daily life.
You've heard of some of these three word phrases...

I love you...
   I need help...
      You are forgiven...
         Please forgive me...
            I am sorry...
               I'm a sinner...
                     I was wrong...
                        You are right...

Jesus offers this three word command.... "Look at me..."

Do you want to know what God looks like? Jesus says, "Look at me."
Do you ever wonder if you are able to forgive someone who has hurt you? Jesus says, "Look at me."
Do I really need to pray? Jesus says, "Look at me."
How can I know God's will? Jesus says, "Look at me."
I enjoy pointing out people's shortcomings? Jesus says, "Look at me."
My eyes are being seduced by a certain type of lifestyle. Jesus says, "Look at me."
I find myself longing to live someone else's life. Jesus says, "Look at me."
I keep searching the internet for more graphic porn. Jesus says, "Look at me."
Texting and Facebook allow me to communicate, but how do I connect? Jesus says, "Look at me."
One more party and one more drink then I will go home. Jesus says, "Look at me."
I will never get out of this mess. Jesus says, "Look at me."
Do you want to know who still loves you, adores you and believes that "you are all that and more," no matter how far off the highway of life you have driven yourself? Jesus says, "Look at me."
Are you looking for someone who accepts you just as you are? Jesus says, "Look at me."

Dear Lord,
I need your strength and will  and focus to be able to look at you while I stand in front of my morning mirror with my mind and heart screaming at the top of their lungs, "Look at me!"

The old hymn says it best...

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

"Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus..." (Hebrews 12. 2)

And let the dance begin...

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


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ear Muffs

With the wind whipping and the temperatures dropping, the wind chill factor sent the numbers into the below zero category.

Good thing I had my ear muffs on to protect my ears from getting frostbitten!

My iWitness...

I love ear muffs. They are cozy to wear and very stylish in the Midwest.

One thing I love about ear muffs is that it is hard to hear with them on. If someone is talking to me that I really don't want to talk to, I can just keep on walking as if the person doesn't exist. If they confront me on this, I can easily say, "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you."
I can simply live in my own little world of "me" (actually, it is a pretty big world!!) and not be bothered by other people.

Why ear muffs aren't selling like hotcakes is beyond me!

One thing I dislike about ear muffs is that it is hard to hear with them on. If someone is talking to me that I really do want to talk to and listen to, I can come off as aloof and distant.

Some serious dialogue is coming my way, conversations that I need to be in tune with and now I am the one walking down the road seemingly ignoring everyone, all because I really cannot hear very well with my ear muffs on.

How many positive, encouraging, powerful, uplifting words and tones have I missed due to the fact that I am wearing these "ear muffs."

What brand of ear muffs cover your ears? In an effort to "protect" our ears from "frostbite" we put on these ear muffs that have incredible name brands...

"Denial" is one of the world's best selling ear muffs company, with outlets in every state, county, city and street.

"Rejection" is one of the most prolific selling brands this side of "Fear". Both brands keep the ears warm and are serious contenders in the "noise cancellation" business. You don't hear anything you don't want to hear with these two great brands of ear muffs.

"HD" is the most popular brand with ear muffs in all sizes. "HD" stands for "Haughty inDifference." This model comes with bluetooth control and is part of the 3G network so that you can tune out anywhere any time. You won't hear a thing!

What are we afraid of? Why do we put on "ear muffs" that do just that... muffle the sound of God's tender voice in such a way that all sense of clarity, direction and diction is lost in a mumbled mess of white noise?

What would happen if we would just stop, remove the ear muffs and listen...
I mean really listen....

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (John 11. 15)

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

Monday, February 4, 2013


One thing I love about the DVR technology is that I can record a movie, a sporting event or a TV show and then fast forward through the commercials. I hate commercials on TV. They are louder than the regular show, which the FCC refutes. They disrupt the flow of the show. They distract and in today's world they are more than happy to show inappropriate material to my children. They seem to go on forever and ever, one after another.

The only time I attentively watch commercials is during the Super Bowl! The Biggest Football Game of the Year! They are expensive. They have to put their most creative foot forward to fasten my attention. You've got my 30 seconds of attention, maybe 60 if you're really going to spend the big bucks. Now... show me what you've got. Super Bowl XLVII had a host of commercials and my favorite turned out to be Dodge Ram's use of Paul Harvey's classic radio voice reciting "God made a farmer." (Check it out on YouTube if you missed it)

With the Ravens now the Super Bowl Champions, life will return to the normal disdain for commercials until Super Bowl XLVIII.

My iWitness...

The game of life is on. You're moving the ball down the field and with all the momentum going your way, someone calls a TV timeout. Impatience mounts as you wait to get going again. The commercial goes on and on to the point of a total meltdown on your part. The game resumes and you are still so undone by the commercial that you cannot continue cruising down the field. You resent the commercial break to the point that you find yourself punting in no time.

But what if the commercials in our lives were designed by the most creative artist of all time - God? What if these TV timeouts were created for the exact purpose of getting our attention?
What if these timeout's sole purpose was to protect us from running plays in our playbook that might lead to our own destruction and/or demise.
What if these commercial breaks allowed us to refocus our mind and hearts on God?
What if these pauses in our life forced us to refocus our minds and hearts on the Playbook of the One who will go to any length to grab our attention?
What if these pauses posed enough time to gather the strength and courage necessary to play the rest of the game with love, grace, mercy, joy and thanksgiving?

Where do you find yourself these days? Cruising down the field? Pounding the ball for a three yard gain only to lose a yard or two on every other play? Fumbling? Perfect plans intercepted?

Would a commercial help? A TV Timeout? A short creative reminder that God is in total control? A little 30 second recitation of scripture that sparks a remembrance that you were made for a special purpose? A little break to catch our heavenly breath?

"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46. 10)

With just a slight turn of perspective perhaps we can see God in a different light.
Maybe it's the commercials that are the main show after all...

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

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Innocence lost...

Three acts
One reported by a friend
One heard in the parking lot
One experienced at a basketball game

In a span of 48 hours the pure innocence of childhood had crossed the line into the world of the tainted and the stained. What was once white has now become scarlet.

Innocence lost... a new trail is being blazed where there is no turning back. The gate to the Garden of Eden is now closed and locked. Once we have been hurled into the surrounding territories there is no going back... ever...

My heart sinks and saddens.
No longer are my children in their protected world.
They are now in my world.

I knew the day would come.
I just didn't know it would happen yesterday.

My iWitness...

Do you remember when you crossed the bar from innocence into wide-eyed awareness that all was not right with the world? All was not right with your family? All was not right with your best friend's family? That day when the dull ache came into your world and has never left. Do you remember?

I remember one day when I was in second grade and two girls walked by my house while I was out in the driveway and they gave me "the finger". It was so blatant. It was meant to harm. And the arrow of worldliness hit its target that day - my heart. It hurt. I didn't fully understand and I didn't really know what that gesture meant. I just knew that it pained me. The look on my mom's face when I told her spoke volumes in a nanosecond - Good-bye innocence... no going back.

There seems to be a push to grow up fast and become wise to the ways of the world. I seem to be bucking the system. I would really like to go back to that day where innocence reigned in my world.

Maybe that is why Jesus said, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them." (Mark 10. 14-16)

There are some very appealing qualities about being a child that disappear when the innocence is lost. Implicit trust. With each new day the arguments and the bickering and fussing of yesterday are gone. Every day is truly a brand new day. Children marvel at everything new. And one of my favorite childhood qualities is the delight found in the repetitious monotony of things. You have heard children say this a million times, "Do it again!" And we do it again and they say, "Do it again!" They never tire or get bored with the monotonous repetition... "Do it again" echoes through our ears...

Ever wonder that maybe, just maybe, God sits on His mighty throne and with knees drawn up and with eyes dancing and hands clapping looks at the sunrise and the next day says, "Do it again! Do it again!"

I long for such innocence... One day my friends, one day...

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

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Groundhog Day

Today is Groundhog Day!

If it is cloudy when groundhog "Punxsutawney Phil"emerges from his burrow on this day, he will not see his shadow and therefore spring will come early.

If it is sunny, "Punxsutawney Phil" will supposedly see his shadow and retreat back into his burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks.

When the Pennsylvania groundhog emerged from his dwelling this morning at Gobbler's Knob , he did not see his shadow.

"And so ye faithful, there is no shadow to see, an early Spring for you and me," proclaimed Bob Roberts, one of Phil's handlers.

My iWitness...

I don't know about you but I am so excited!!! Spring is on its way. That three or four inches of snow I shoveled this morning off the driveway will not be around for long.

I think I will take the family out to the nursery and buy some flowers, tulip bulbs and a whole array of other garden type varieties to plant in the next day or two in our Iowa frozen tundra.

Call me crazy but I am putting away the winter clothes and pulling out the Tommy Bahama shirts and flip flops! Spring is on its way!!!

Now of course we know that I am being cynical, sardonic, silly and sarcastic.

But in reality how many "superstitions", traditions and other silly things do we put our hope and trust in in order to predict a favorable outcome for our lives?

If I go to church every Sunday, read my Bible every day, pray four times a day (one for every meal), attend a Bible study, keep my nose clean, give to the poor, don't walk under ladders, watch out for black cats, don't get involved in other people's business, wear my lucky tie for the job interview, put on my clothes in the exact same manner every day and kiss the cross around my neck.... then and only then will life turn out just perfect with no illnesses, no problems and no worries.

Just tell that to my countless number of friends who have lost dedicated God loving, Jesus following sons and daughters, wives and husbands, moms and dads and close friends to cancer, suicide, alcoholism, car accidents, plane crashes, illnesses and a host of other maladies that no one predicted.

Have you seen the Budweiser commercial which shows all kinds of sports fans doing all sorts of superstitious things in order to secure their team a victory?
The theme of the commercial is “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.”

Some will call me weird (most of you have at some point or another in my lifetime!), but here's what I have found to be true, through and through.

Jesus is my only hope.
Jesus is the only one I can trust in 100%.
Jesus is the only one I can believe in fully.
Jesus is the only one who has been with me 24/7/365.
Jesus is the only one who knows me completely and thoroughly and still loves me in spite of myself. Jesus is the only one who understands.
Jesus is the only one who has loved me enough to die for me that I might have life and life eternal.
Jesus is the only one who can wipe my slate clean and forgvie me fully and completely.
Jesus is my savior, shepherd,
    shelter, sustainer,
        redeemer, rescuer,
             friend, forgiver,
                 companion, compass,
                        merciful Master,
                            unconditional love and grace,
                                 the way, the truth and the life.
                                      And much more...

Does that sound "weird"?

Maybe it does, but let me say this... "It works!"

"To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1. 27)

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

Friday, February 1, 2013

If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake

Approaching the affable TSA agent at the airport in the pre-dawn hours while most of the world was fast asleep I brightly said, "Thank you for being here so early in the morning." Her response was cute and profound.

"If I knew you were comin' I'd've baked a cake." I told her that I would give her a call next time, because I really like cake. With that, I gave her a "high five" with my large hand grasping her blue latex gloved hand.

Within minutes I was cleared through security and on my way... to a very long and exhausting day.

My iWitness...

My newfound TSA agent friend was unprepared for my arrival. She said it herself, "If I knew you were comin' I'd've baked a cake." Of course she was referring to Billboard's #1 Hit from the spring of 1950 of the same name, made popular by Eileen Barton. But still, I was thinking, "Where's my cake?"

Today is February 1st.
Welcome February! Good-bye January!

I have had several conversations lately where the overwhelming sentiment has been, "I will be so glad when January is over. February can not come fast enough."

I have shared the same sentiments on several occasions myself. Maybe you have as well.


What if Jesus knew January was coming and He baked a cake just for us for the month of January? Oh sure, maybe we didn't like the flavor. "I prefer carrot cake over lemon pound cake."
Oh sure, maybe we didn''t like the frosting. "I prefer cream cheese frosting over sassy strawberry."

But, what if the cake was prepared ahead of time and the month of January was just what Jesus had baked for us because, "He knew we were coming"?

Today is February 1st.
Jesus knew this day was coming and He has baked a cake just for you. Whatever happens this month will be no surprise for Him. Nothing that we go through this month will catch Him off guard. What surprises us or throws us for a loop has already been written down on the calendar for Him.

Jesus alludes to this in John 14 when he says, "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" (John 14. 1-2)

Today is February 1st.
Jesus comes prepared.
The Cake has been baked.
He knows we're coming.
Let's dig in and see what wonders to our spiritual senses await us as we "taste and see that the Lord is good." (Psalm 34. 8)

I look forward to sharing my cake with you. If you don't mind I would love to have a slice of your cake to share as well...

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

ps - I love Carrot Cake (just in case you know I am coming your way and want to be prepared!)