Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Three Most Powerful Words...

Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin was one of the most powerful men on earth. He was a Russian Communist leader during Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and afterwards.

There is a story told about a journey he took. He went from Moscow to Kiev in 1930 to address a huge crowd. The subject was, or course, atheism. He attacked Christianity! He said some insulting words about Christianity. And he argued against it as well. It took him a long time to convince the crowd. At the end of his talk, he was confident that he had convinced the crowd that they should reject Christ and embrace atheism.

At the end of the meeting Nikolai turned it over to the local parish priest to dismiss the crowd. The priest ascended the stage and complimented Nikolai on his eloquence.

The priest turned to the crowd and uttered, "CHRIST IS RISEN."

And the people passionately exclaimed as with one thundering voice, "HE IS RISEN INDEED!"

My iWitness...

I have heard this story for years. I have no idea if it is true or not. I guess it really doesn't matter.
What does matter is that the three most powerful words ever declared in the course of human history are as true today as they were the very first time they were uttered...

I love the fact that when those three words are proclaimed, "HE IS RISEN", my mind, my heart and my voice proclaim with an almost Pavlovian response, "HE IS RISEN INDEED!"

He is Risen!

He is Risen indeed!!

May the promise, the presence and the power of these three words bring you much joy today as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

"The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here: he has risen, just as he said." (Matthew 28. 5-6)

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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

What are the odds?

We've been planning the vacation since last summer. Fly to Orlando out of Chicago for Spring Break for a week of fun with our dear friends Kelly and Leisa, along with Mickey and Minnie!!

Here was the plan for yesterday...
Leave the house at some point in time yesterday afternoon... probably around 4:00
Get to the hotel in Chicago around 8:00
Get some deep dish pizza
Go to bed

Here's what actually happened...
Received a text from Julie saying her last patient cancelled and she would be home by 2:00
Julie arrived home at 1:50 and I still had not packed!
We left the house at 2:47 pm
We were twenty minutes away from the hotel and Faith says, "I have to go to the bathroom..."
We pull over for a bathroom break at the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois
It's only the second largest mall in the United States of America!!
We walked all the way around the mall!!! It was a long bathroom break.
We started to get something to eat, but decided to wait.
Drove to the hotel
Checked in
Decided to go get something to eat
Bypassed one pizza joint
Saw another pizza joint but I missed the turn
Blew by another pizza place just because we could
Settled for a restaurant named Giordano's
Went in to the restaurant
Hostess seated us in a booth that was too small
After ordering we moved across the aisle to a bigger booth
And then...
And then...
I saw her...
Who was she?
Only my best friend in Klamath Falls' daughter Kristina whom we love and adore!!
I sneaked over to her table and said, "Um excuse me.."
Then it was simple pandemonium in the middle of the restaurant.
We jumped up and down, screamed, hugged, laughed, made introductions to her flight attendant friends with words like, "this is my former pastor!" and "No, we don't live in Chicago. We live in Iowa and we know Kristina from our time in Oregon!"
We took pictures on the iPhone and sent them to Kristina's mom and dad
And then we said, "Good-bye..."

My iWitness...

What are the odds of running into Kristina in a restaurant in Chicago on a Friday night?
I can't even begin to calculate!
Had we left 20 minutes later...
Had we eaten at the Mall
Had we eaten at one of the first three pizza joints
Had we decided to swim and order room service
Had we left on time
Had we not planned the vacation
Well... we would have missed Kristina.

Some will call this fate
Some will call this dumb luck
Some will call this chance
Some will even call it coincidence

Here's what I call it...

God's powerful, purposeful, providential, perfect and playful plan!

With that mindset and heartset...
I am simply amazed and in awe of the One who looks at our plans and simply "chuckles..."

"In their hearts humans plan their course,
     but the Lord establishes their steps." (Proverbs 16. 9)

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

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday...Had I been there...

"Surely he has borne our griefs
     and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,
     smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

     he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
     and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
     we have turned-every one-to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
     the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53. 4-6)

My iWitness...

Today is Good Friday...

The Savior of the world willingly subjects himself to insults, beatings, whippings and being spat upon. And then nailed to a cross, hung up and hung out to dry...

Jesus was hung up for our hang ups...

Jesus who knew no sin was made to be sin...

There he is stretched out on the cross with his chest caving in on itself making it nearly impossible to breathe until it is literally impossible to breathe...

Blood stained, face unrecognizable, pierced, crushed, abandoned, forsaken, nearly naked, contorted, flanked by felons, heavy with the weight of the world upon his sagging shoulders and yet... his eyes... those forgiving, loving eyes...

I have always thought had I been there when Jesus was being taken to the hill to be crucified,
I would have stood up for Jesus.
I would have beaten back the crowd
I would have quelled the dissenters
I would not have been blinded by the mob mentality
I would have turned the tide

But in reality... I feel confident that my only words on that fateful Friday would have been...

"Hand me another nail...".

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

Thursday, March 28, 2013

24 hours to live...

You have just received a phone call.
The caller has announced with great authority and credibility that you have 24 hours to live.
What would you do?
Where would you go?
Who would you call?
What would you say?
Would you write a letter?
Would you "air out" some grievances? Let a few people know how you feel about them after holding it inside for many years?
How would you like to be known for how you spent your last 24?

My iWitness...

Jesus received that call.
Of course, Jesus knew all along that He was born to die.
And with that Jesus had to face the same questions as listed above.

I wonder if I would spend it the way Jesus did.

In the last 24 hours of life, Jesus...
     hung out with his 12 closest friends
          did not hang out with his family (where were his brothers and sisters?)
               ate an intimate meal with the one who would betray Him.
                    and then washed the disciples' feet

He served...

On this Maundy Thursday, with the death of Jesus only 24 hours away, may we honor Him by finding a way to serve the people He loves...

"Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart our of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him." (John 13. 1-5)
And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

ps - To my friends in Klamath Falls at the First Presbyterian Church. Our Maundy Thursday worship service was one of the highlights of the year for me. One of the things I loved about that service the most was the fact that I had the privilege of washing your feet. Thank you for giving me that great honor!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Same Sex Marriage - Where do you stand?

The headlines and the social media outlets are filled with the topic of same sex marriage. Red "equal signs" fill my Facebook news feed. One man One Woman. DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act). Prop 8. Some Facebook profiles had an equal sign with a red circle around it with a red line crossed through the equal sign. One Facebook post had a "no division" sign. Other profiles had clip art of a man and woman holding hands. The Supreme Court of the United States of America is hearing arguments for and against same sex marriage. Nine states have legalized same sex marriage. I live in one of them. My own Presbyterian denomination narrowly rejected the proposal for same sex marriage last year. This topic dominates the social, political and ecclesiastical landscape.

I have great friends on the "left" of this issue.
I have great friends on the "right" of this issue.

So... where do I stand?

My iWitness...

This is where I stand...

I stand in the middle with arms stretched out as far and wide as my tendons and muscles will allow my bones to stretch. And stretched they are! My body and heart aches at how taut my wingspan has been pulled. My eyes fill with tears as I write...

At the end of each outstretched arm are my hands.
I have large, strong, beautifully sculpted hands that are gentle, graceful and loving to the touch.
What they do best is "hold!"

These hands have held broken hearts.
These hands have swept up the pieces of broken lives.
These hands have held the hands of people that have gone through the fires and deep waters of life.
I don't let go!
These hands "HOLD"!
And at this very moment these hands are holding on with all their might the hands of my friends on the "left."
And at this very moment these hands are holding on with all their might the hands of my friends on the "right."

It seems as though every other minute one side or the other gains some momentum and pulls with great force trying to yank me to their side forcing me to let go of the "other side." If I lean too far one way then I am called a callous bigot that suffers from all sorts of phobias. If I lean too far the other way then I am called unChristian and not worthy of the calling God has laid on my life.

So... this is where I stand.
I stand tall.
I stand tall with outstretched arms.
I stand tall with outstretched arms with hands that hold.
I stand tall with outstretched arms with hands that hold and subsequently produce a silhouette that in the light of God's glory forms a "Cross."

I am not the first one to suffer the pain of outstretched arms that form a cross.
I won't be the last.

But perhaps in the middle of the debate that's what people will see the most... The Cross

And furthermore, perhaps in the middle of the debate, after people discover where I stand they will let go of my hands...
And for me... that would be the greatest tragedy of all.

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

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13. 34-35)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Compliment - an expression of praise, commendation or admiration

I received two of these yesterday. They really boosted my morale and countenance for the day. Not only did they boost me, they carried me. People asked how my day was going and I said, "Great!" How could it not be going great! Two people had just offered me "expressions of praise, commendation and admiration."

My iWitness...

Here's my question... to myself.

I will let you listen in on this conversation...

"Would I have had a "great" day if I had not received those two compliments?
Is my having a great day or a poor day dependent on whether or not I receive compliments?
Aren't you being pretty shallow David? Surely you have a better foundation than that! Are you now going to go around doing "good deeds" so that you can receive compliments so that you can have a "great day?"

I think you have heard enough little tidbits from what goes on inside my mind...

What I have discovered over the years is that we are a people who long for acceptance, appreciation and accolades.

What has troubled me the most over the years is how stingy most people are in giving out compliments to others.

I was 43 years old before I heard from my dad that he was "proud of me." I told him that I needed to know if he was proud of me. He said he was. To his credit, for the last four years of his life each conversation we had ended with him saying, "I'm proud of you son."

I guess my take is that if Jesus needed to hear that His Father was proud of him, then maybe we need to offer these kind of compliments and admiration to others as well.

Try it today. See how many sincere compliments you can dish out today.

I have a feeling you are going to really help someone have a "great day!"

"And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3. 16-17)

One more thing... I bet you are going to have a great day too!

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

Monday, March 25, 2013

Swap Meets, Flea Markets and Trade Shows

We have all been to them...

Growing up in Southern California they were called "Swap Meets." They were held on Saturdays at the local Drive-In Movie Theater. People from all over would come in and set up at their assigned station and sell their wares. Sunglasses, macrame, skateboards, Lev'is jeans, shirts and a whole assortment of other things.
When I moved to the deep South they were called "Flea Markets." It sure did look like a Swap Meet but when I called it that one time I was quickly corrected in a most genteel sort of way.
As I have gotten older they are now called "Trade Shows." Typically the only difference between a trade show and a swap meet is that the trade show is usually indoors, in a convention center.

It's all the same.
Everyone in their place.
Everyone sitting in their booth or assigned area.
The goods all look good and very promising.
The vendors are all nice and smiling hoping you will buy their products.
Some vendors lean over the imaginary line and visit with one another. They know each other very well. They'll see each other again next week or next month.
It's all very civil, comfortable and courteous.

My iWitness...

Today is the Monday of Holy Week.
The Temple in Jerusalem some 2000 years ago had become a very civil, comfortable and courteous place filled with vendors.
That is until Jesus showed up and turned over tables and drove out the vendors with whips and cords.

My body is called a "temple" in the scriptures. For the most part it is very civil, comfortable and courteous.
That is until Jesus shows up and turns over the tables and drives out the vendors who have set up shop in my heart.

Jesus, why did you have to do that? Look at the mess you've made...

Oh... that's right... it was God's house to begin with and it's me that has made the mess...

Next time I allow my heart to become very civil, comfortable and courteous, I guess you'll be making another house call.

In that regard... can you come over again tomorrow?

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

"And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers." (Mark 11. 15-17)


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday

I come from a faith tradition where the "build up" to Easter Sunday morning is an important of the Christian's spiritual journey and pilgrimage.

That build up starts on Ash Wednesday marking 40 more days until Easter.
The build up continues with the Triiumphal entry of Jesus in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
The build up starts to come to a close with a Maundy Thursday celebration of the Last Supper.
The build up's penultimate act is the crucifixion of Christ on Good Friday - Jesus is dead...
The build up finds its ultimate celebration and joy on Easter Sunday with its "He is risen! He is risen indeed!" ringing throughout the world as the Easter Lilies trumpet His praise!

I have been following that "build up" my whole life.
At church today I was hoping for a mention of Palm Sunday... some sort of recognition that in order to fully experience the joy of having the stone rolled away on Easter Sunday morning you have to wade through the palm branches, endure the cleansing of the temple, sit at the table and sup with the Savior one last time and then hear the hammer resonate through the countryside as the nails pierce the flesh before they pierce the old rugged cross. You have to get through the darkness of Good Friday before you get to the brilliant radiance of the Risen One on Easter Sunday!

My iWitness...

Why are traditions so hard to break?

I guess something that you have done for 50 straight years in Church is greatly missed when the "build up" is not recognized at all...

What traditions do you keep on your spiritual journey and pilgrimage?

Here's my question of the day...

When Jesus is born on Christmas day you have celestial (heavenly) beings saying...
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace
among those with whom he is pleased."

On Palm Sunday you have terrestial (earthly) beings saying...
"Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest."

Why is it that in Bethlehem you have angels saying, "peace on earth" and in Jerusalem you have humans saying, "peace in heaven?"

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

Saturday, March 23, 2013

An exercise in patience...

I parked the car in the full parking lot. As soon as I opened the door the aroma was like a tsunami overwhelming my senses.. Welcome to Donut Boy!

The place was packed. Three tables, that had been there since 1976 were pulled together to accomodate the staple of a Saturday morning at Donut Boy - the nine men whose average age is around 73. Several newpapers were scattered about the three tables that indicated the fodder for conversation and the solving of all the world's problems over a donut and a cup of coffee.

We waited in line for a good seven to nine minutes before the person in front of us was asked, "What can we get ya?" His response sent me over the edge... "Well... let's see... what do you have?"

There must be fifteen trays and nine different rows of every kind of donut made under the sun. You have had nine minutes to make up your mind and you get to the front of the line and the best you can offer is, "Well... let's see... what do you have?"

The donuts were not hidden.
The donuts were not behind a curtain.
The donuts were not stacked behind three different doors as if this was "Let's Make A Deal!"
The man in front of me was not blindfolded.
The donuts were in plain sight!
As plain as the nose on this man's face!
The donuts were screaming, "Pick me! Pick me!"

Of course all of this was going through my mind as my two children were waiting patiently for their turn.

And that's when it hit me... "What's the hurry? There will be plenty of donuts after the man ahead of me is served. Just be patient."

My iWitness...

If you're looking to develop the Fruit of the Spirit that starts with the letter P as in Patience, then get ready to find yourself in situations that will be just that... "an exercise in patience."

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..." (Galatians 5. 22-23)

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

Friday, March 22, 2013

What could have been...

My heart was pumping extra loud yesterday...
March Madness, the NCAA Men's college basketball championship tournament had begun.
My Alma Mater, Davidson College was ahead by one against Marquette University.
Ten seconds left in the game.
Davidson inbounds the ball.
Marquette sets a trap.
Davidson throws the ball to the wide open teammate at half-court.
Ball goes out of bounds.
Marquette's ball with 6.2 seconds left in the game.
Marquette inbounds the ball
drives to the basket
lays up a left handed lay up off the glass
It's good... Marquette up by one.
One second left...
Davidson inbounds the ball
Intercepted by Marquette
Game over...
Davidson Wildcats' hearts broken all over the world!!

For days...
For months...
For years...
Davidson College players, coaches, alumni and fans will relive and replay those last moments of the game over and over in their minds and wonder "what could have been" if they had only done this or if they had only done that... then we would have won the game!

My iWitness...

How many of us live in that world?

The world of  "what could have been?" That world where we replay decisions and life choices in our minds over and over and over again wondering about and pretending for a different and of course, better outcome.

I wonder if God lives in that world. "Well... if David had only done this then that terrible thing would have never happened. Or if David had only done that good thing he wanted to do back in 1978 then things would have turned out a whole lot different for everyone."

I don't think God lives in that world of "what could have been."

Here's why... God's name is "I AM!" God lives in the moment... this very present moment and nowhere else.

I love this poem...

My Name is "I AM" Poem

by Helen Mallicoat

I was regretting the past
And fearing the future.
Suddenly my Lord was speaking:

“My name is I Am.” He paused.
I waited. He continued,
When you live in the past
With its mistakes and regrets,
It is hard. I am not there,
My name is not I WAS”.

When you live in the future
With its problems and fears,
It is hard. I am not there.
My name is not I WILL BE.

When you live in this moment,
It is not hard. I am here.
My name is I AM. 

Where are you living these days?

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

"God said to Moses, “I AM who I AM." (Exodus 3. 14)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I Choose You

I was participating in a small group last night at church. There were ten of us gathered in a circle enjoying homemade oatmeal/M&M cookies that a member of the group had made. I thought both of mine were particularly delicious!

Five couples...
One thing in common...

All of us had chosen to adopt a child into our family.
Two couples had domestic adoptions (child was born in the United States).
Three couples had international adoptions.

As if parenting wasn't enough of a challenge, there is enough evidence out there that demonstrates that raising an adopted child, especially a child adopted at an older age brings on a different set of parenting dynamics.

This particular group came together in recognition that the 10 of us have struggles that are not unique but rather are in common with one another as parents of adopted children.

As I sat and listened and asked probing questions, one common theme stood out. None of us were forced to adopt but rather each of us, after much prayer felt led by God to "choose the children that would be a part of our family."

My iWitness...

I don't know much, but this much I do know...That God chose me to be a part of His family. 

And in that choosing to adopt me He got a handful.
I suffer from spiritual ADHD.
I am rebellious.
I don't always listen.
Sometimes I feel very attached and other times I prefer a certain kind of "attachment disorder."
God doesn't always get the credit, praise and props that He deserves.
I run away for days at a time not telling Him where I am going.
I trip, stumble and fall and insist that I am okay and that I can get up on my own!
I run to him and jump in his forgiving, loving, grace filled and merciful arms and only minutes later find myself sneaking off to be with my friends instead of enjoying the company of His awesome presence.
The list goes on and on.

Adoption is messy. And yet, God in the middle of it all says this...

"I choose You!"

His choice is made, not that He can get love from us, but rather that we can experience the mystery and magnificence of His unconditional love for us!

I don't know about you but that's a pretty cool deal!

"We love because he first loved us." (I John 4. 19)

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Chris, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth." (Ephesians 1. 3-10)

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I miss you...

Out of the blue I received a great email from a very good friend of mine last night that warmed my heart. I could totally hear his voice through his message...

The date and time stamp on the email said, "March 19, 2013, 9:43 PM"

The opening line - "Man I miss seeing you every week."

The last line - "I check in through your Facebook to see what you are up to. Take care my friend!"

My iWitness...

I can't help but wonder if God doesn't send the exact same message to me sometimes...

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

"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord..."
(Jeremiah 29. 12-14)

ps - I miss you too Steve...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

3 degree wind chill factor

I had never been to a Jewish funeral until... today.

The service was held for a wonderful man that was revered by all. He lived to the ripe old age of 98. When he was born the average life expectancy for a man was 55 years of age. He beat the odds.

A man of great drive, success, large family, lots of friends and a great tennis player!

I had the privilege of meeting the Rabbi conducting the service. We had an almost immediate rapport.

The service was very well done with a few friends sharing their remembrances and love.

The service came to a conclusion and people made their way to the exits.

Next on the agenda was for everyone to go to the cemetery for a "graveside service." There must have been 40 cars in the procession. We looked like a centipede making our way through the city blowing right through stop signs, red lights and pedestrian crossings. We were an unstoppable force with our hazard lights blinking!

We arrived at the cemetery and gathered around the coffin. There must have been at least 70 of us.

The temperature outside was 19 degrees with a "3 degree wind chill factor."

My iWitness...

Why would 70 people go to a cemetery and huddle together for 15-20 minutes in temperatures that were hovering around 19 degrees with a biting wind that would send the wind chill factor plummeting?

The Rabbi stated it loud and clear. "One of the greatest "mitzvahs" (good deeds) a friend can do for another friend is to attend the funeral of a friend's loved one."

To what lengths do we go to help a friend or show our love for our closest of friends?

May you have many "mitzvahs" in your life for your friends even if it means you do it in a
"3 degree wind chill factor."

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

"And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you." (Matthew 5. 41-42)

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Big Dance

The Children's Minsitry Director asked the children yesterday, if they knew what was special about next Sunday. (Answer...Palm Sunday...)

Before someone came up with the right answer, my seven year old son Joshua leaned over to his mom with that knowing grin and whispered..."Selection Sunday..."

Actually, yesterday was "Selection Sunday"!
Selection Sunday is when 68 Teams are invited to play in the NCAA Divsion I Men's National Basketball tournament. All 68 teams will be vying for the elusive and exclusive title of National Champion. Some teams receive "automatic bids" by winning their respective Conference Championship. The rest of the field is invited to what is called "The Big Dance."

Let what has become known as "March Madness" begin! Behind Christmas and Easter, this is my favorite season of the year!

My alma mater, Davidson College has had their ticket punched to The Big Dance for the second year in a row. March Madness is three weekends filled with some of the greatest basketball of the year.

Terms like Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four and the Road to Atlanta will dominate the tournament landscape.
Upsets and Cinderella teams who will wear the glass slipper for a game or two highlight each tournament. Millions of people fill out the Tournament Brackets predicting who will win. Big money is at stake. Who will become the 2012-2013 National Champion? It's anyone's guess as this has become a national obsession. Follow along with the tournament and tune in on Monday, April 8th to see who will wear the crown.

My iWitness...

The Big Dance of the Christian life is the heavenly kingdom.

We are confused if we think that the Big Dance of the Christian life is simply a place out there, somewhere filled with angels on clouds playing the harp while people lounge around in white robes.

Yes, the heavenly kingdom awaits all those that trust in Jesus. Yes, heaven is a destination resort in the afterlife where all the saints reside in a great cloud of witnesses. Yes, heaven is that place where we wear the crown of righteousness and worship God who sits on the throne of His kingdom. Yes, heaven is the place of perfection, peace and purity.

And Yes! The heavenly kingdom starts in the right here and now. The Big Dance plays out on the court of real life with real people dealing with real issues. The Big Dance is filled with terms like Grace, Forgiveness, Service, Suffering, Faith, Abundant Life, Mercy, Fellowship, Church, Scripture and Love. The Big Dance is going on right now. Are you dancing?

The good news of The Big Dance is that your ticket has already been punched by the one who lovingly and purposefully sacrificed himself on the cross for us, only to be raised three days later in incredible glory and now sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

The good news of The Big Dance is that the ticket has been punched and guess what?

"You're invited..."

Let's dance!!!

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

"And David danced before the Lord with all his might." (2 Samuel 6. 14)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Prayer of St. David

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

My iWitness...

The Prayer of St. Patrick...

May the Strength of God
          Pilot us,
May the Wisdom of God

          Instruct us,
May the Hand of God
          Protect us,

May the Word of God
          Direct us.

The Prayer of Agur son of Jakeh...

Give me neither poverty nor riches,
     but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
     and say, "Who is the Lord?"
Or I may become poor and steal,
     and so dishonor the name of my God.
The Prayer of Jesus...

Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory,
for ever.

The Prayer of St. David...

If I was to be rememberd for a prayer, what would it be? What would it say? How would it be constructed? In what context would it be quoted? What would I be praying about? What would be the theme of my prayer? Would it be simple? Would it be complex?

Looks like I am going to have to pray about that...

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

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Permanent Resident

A group of four of us were scheduled to spend about three hours with a University student yesterday afternoon. The exercise was to allow us to "walk in the shoes" of typical student.

My student was junior, majoring in one of the sciences. She wants to be a Veterinarian.

Her smile, personality, smarts, poise and drive to succeed won us over in less than a minute. I have no doubt that she will be very successful in both her personal and professional life. Her passion in pursuing a "meaningful life" was a privilege to observe and experience firsthand.

Her "story" was riveting as much as it was revealing.

Born in Mexico City, her father decided to pursue the "American Dream". He moved the whole family to the Chicago area seventeen years ago.

Just last week... hear those three words one more time... "Just last week" she became a "Permanent Resident" of the United States of America. Just within the last few months her mom became a citizen. American citizenship still eludes her dad and not because he's not trying. Mom recovering from cancer, parents filing for bankruptcy has not diminished their desire for their daughter to "get an education." As a junior, my student is not in debt. Her parents have found a way to fund her education. My student is debt free...

Welcome to America Maria...

My iWitness...

The four of us sat dumbfounded with quizzical looks, with furrowed brows, with eyes wide open in disbelief as Maria told us, "It's a very long... very long process to gain citizenship."

Here's the good news!!

The process to become a "permanent resident" of the Heavenly Kingdom doesn't take seventeen years! It doesn't even take seventeen seconds.

It only takes one breath to say these seventeen syllables...

"I trust and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior."

"Isn't there more to the process," we protest!

"It can't be that easy! Don't I have to "do" something first? Isn't there a form to fill out and file, a committee to review, an interview to go through, a background check, retina scan...?"

Here's the answer our hearts long to hear but our minds can't comprehend, "No!"

With one breath, with one sentence, with one confession, with one recognition that I am bankrupt, with trust that it is only through Jesus that I can be healed of the cancerous sin in my life, with just one profession of faith we become "Permanent Residents" of the Heavenly Kingdom...debt free!

"Is that fair? Is that due process? Is that the proper procession of paying my dues working my way up the ladder?" No... it's called "grace."

And if we can open our eyes wide enough to see... there's Jesus, along with all the angels, with arms stretched wide with one word on his lips...


"...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”(Romans 10. 9-12)

"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him."
(2 Corinthians 2. 13-15)

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
(Ephesians 2. 8-10)

"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself."
(Philippians 3. 20-21)

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

Friday, March 15, 2013

Do I or Don't I...?

Late last night.


Exhausted from a long day...

Have to wake up in about five hours ...

Important meetings with important people on the horizon...(better be at the top of my game!)

Shutting down the computer...

Private message on Facebook pops up...

"Would you please call?" (A friend was in trouble)

Do I or Don't I...?

My iWitness...

So glad I did...

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

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”  And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
"But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10. 25-37)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Bell Tolls...

It is the same every day...
Every fifteen minutes the Belltower on the quad sends its bells ringing into the University air absorbed by all those that listen.

The canticles of the carillon create a certain constant on campus...

Every fifteen minutes...

Every day...

My office sits no more than 30 yards from the Belltower and truth be told, I don't even need to look at my watch to know what time it is during the day as the Belltower reminds me at the top of every hour with it rhythmic ringing of the hour at hand.

After that, every fifteen minutes through its assortment of tones, the Belltower lets me know whether its fifteen minutes, thirty minutes or forty-five minutes after the hour. 

Every fifteen minutes...

Every day...

My iWitness...

Every fifteen minutes...

Every day...

And here is where my mind and heart come to a jolting halt.

How is it that there are days when I don't hear the bells? The bells are ringing every fifteen minutes all day long. And yet, at the end of the day, my ears grab the attention of my heart and ask, "Why didn't you hear the bells today?"

God speaks to us every minute...

Every hour...

Every day...

And there are days and there have sometimes been weeks where my heart grabs the attention of my ears and asks, "Why didn't you hear God today?"

The Belltower of God's love, imagination, creative power, grace and majesty tolls every minute of every day.

To paraphrase from John Donne, "for whom dost the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."

May I hear God's belltower tolling today and may I hear how it tolls for me...

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

"The Lord reigns; he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

Your throne is established from of old;

   you are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
   the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.

Mightier than the thunders of many waters,

mightier than the waves of the sea,
the Lord on high is mighty!

Your decrees are very trustworthy;
holiness befits your house,
O Lord, forevermore."  (Psalm 93)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

On Being Thirsty

Four encounters yesterday
Four people sharing unsettling news...
Two in person...
One on the phone...
One through email...
Two opportunities to pray in person...
Two opportunities to pray from afar...

My iWitness...

My innate tendency is the desire "to do" something about an unsettling situation that I hear about or encounter firsthand.

Yesterday I had four encounters with four people whom I admire, respect, treasure and love. The news from each of them was unsettling. The reality was that there was nothing I could "do" about their situation. I couldn't fix it. I couldn't change the reality that each of them faced.

What was strange for me during each encounter was the overwhelming need, desire and call to pray. With two people I prayed right there on the spot, once while standing up with other people milling around and once while sitting across the table. With the other two, my prayers were held in the silence of my own heart and mind as I talked with God. Praying was something I could "do."

Listen here...

How many times have we said to someone, almost reflexively, "I'll be praying for you" as a gesture of comforting and supporting someone in need? And as soon as we turn to walk away or hang up the phone or press the "send" button, we busy ourselves with something else and basically forget to pray.

I have done it hundreds, if not thousands of times!

But yesterday was different...

The need (and I don't use that word casually), the thirstiness for prayer needed to be quenched right on the spot and what I find so strange this morning is that I still feel the great thirst and desire to be in prayer with God for my friends.

Is this just a phase? A passing fancy? An emotional high?
I don't know and at the moment I really don't care.

All I know is that I am really enjoying His presence and His embrace...

"Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophecies,
but test everything; hold fast what is good.
Abstain from every form of evil.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely,
and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Brothers, pray for us. (1 Thessalonians 5. 16-25)

There will be ample opportunities for you to pray with and for someone today. Keep your eyes and ears wide open...

May you thirst for God's living water through prayer today...

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I've got your back...

It was such a simple moment. It almost passed by without notice. The interchange between a father and son that might happen a hundred times or more. The words slipped out so smoothly from my mouth that they almost went unnoticed. For my son Joshua it went unnoticed. For me, the dad it stopped me dead in my tracks.

I just finished helping Joshua take a shower. He stepped out and I threw a towel on him. He was drying himself off and we were laughing about something and then he turned around and said, "Can you get my back." My response was quick and profound, "I've got your back Joshua."

My iWitness...

"I've got your back"... four simple words that speak volumes.

When was the last time someone told you that they "had your back?"

When was the last time you told someone that you had "their back?"

I have heard it said another way, "I've got your six..." (As in a clock face and you are facing the twelve and your back would be facing the six)

I can't have my back by myself. Having someone's "back" means that another person is involved. If another person is involved then that means "community" is at work. We are called to be in community and one of the great benefits of a trusting relationship is knowing that someone has my back.

It allows me to walk the talk with great confidence. It allows me to stand up for my convictions. It allows me to go out on a limb. It allows me to run the race of life. It simply allows...

When Stephen, one of the first deacons of the church, was being stoned to death for his convictions of Jesus being the savior of the world, he looked up into the heavens and saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God. I love this imagery... When we stand up for Jesus, Jesus stands up for us.

It's just His way of saying, "I've got your back!"

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

Monday, March 11, 2013


Parent/Teacher conferences were held last week at our children's school. We had glowing reports of our children's progress and that made mom and dad proud.

We came home with an armload of worksheets, progress reports and other materials that Faith and Joshua had worked on through the first half of the school year.

Last night Julie and I were reading through Faith and Joshua's "Writing Journal." In Joshua's writing journal the assignment is to write about something and then draw a picture that accompanies the story.

One entry had Joshua writing about "winning at checkers."  He then drew a picture of a checkerboard with two boys on either side. It was easy to tell which boy was Joshua. His face was smiling and the other boy's face was drawn with a very sad face...

One particular entry caught us off guard... "I feel welcome when I play basketball."

My iWitness...

Joshua's acute and keen observation struck a deep chord within me. I remember in my growing up years and even to this day, sports was an avenue to gain acceptance among peers. Play the game well and you're in. Play the game not so well and you are still on the outskirts looking in.

Joshua is a good little athlete. I found it sobering, fascinating and insightful that as a first grader he would already be picking up on the reality that when he plays a sport and plays it well, then he feels accepted by his peers.

Where do you feel welcomed?

Where do you feel not so welcomed?

Where do you feel unconditionally accepted?

What situation do you find yourself in where you are constantly trying to prove you are worthy of acceptance?

Does it help to know that God accepts you unconditionally? I struggle with this at times. Yes! I know God accepts me. I get that! But it sure would make life easier if I felt "welcomed" by everyone I met.

And maybe that's where my attitude and perspective needs to change...

What would happen if I made the extra effort to accept those that I meet and make sure they feel "welcomed" in my life?

Let it begin with me, Lord!

"Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God." (Romans 15. 7)

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

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Your Biggest Fan

I went to my first collegiate gymnastics meet yesterday. The meet was held at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. My wife Julie was an All-American on the National Championship Team at UW-Oshkosh in 1986. Her love for gymnastics has been a lifelong pursuit and together we as a family had the pleasure of watching this women's conference meet that had eight teams from Wisconsin competing.

There are four events that are involved in the competition...
1. The Vault
2. The Uneven Parallel Bars
3. The Floor Exercise
4. The Balance Beam

The atmosphere in the arena was electric! Two thousand fans filled the arena with each fan proudly wearing their colors and clappeing and yelling and hooting and hollering for their team. We were rooting for the UW-Oshkosh Titans in their yellow and black leotards.

All four events were going on at the same time. It was difficult to keep your attention on only one event at a time. As soon as your attention was affixed on one competitor all of a sudden you would hear a roar for another competitor on another event.

All of the gymnasts did exceptionally well. As in any competition there were moments of brilliance and there were moments of broken hearts.  Having only watched gymnastics on TV during the Olympics I noticed one distinct difference during this meet.

At each event, not more than ten feet away, the rest of the team, all 19 other women stood behind a yellow rope in a designated area. They were bunched together forming two rows of the competitor's biggest cheerleaders. As each woman competed the team would jump up and down, yell, scream, applaud and offer encouragement.  It was amazing. You could see each woman gaining confidence during the event as the roar of the fans, the roar of the team would build. And then at the end of each routine there is always the final run or the final dismount.

Each dismount or final flip or twist lasted less than a second (I timed them). And in that one second, the anticipation, the collectively held breath, the moment between heartbeats felt like the worlld came to a stop before the gymnast completed the final move in her routine. And in the blink of an eye the whole team would erupt in cheering, applause and mobbing their teammate as she ran toward them.

I was moved to tears more than once during the meet.

My iWitness...
I was more aware than normal at just how "alone" each competitor was on their respective event. Alone in the sense that although there were cheerleaders and fans on the near sidelines and in the stands, out there on the event the competitor stood all alone. Everyone saw their every move, their every misstep, their perfect tumbles, the loss of the grip of the bars resulting in a belly flop on the mat below. Everything was out in the open for everyone to see.
What if life was like that?
What if 2000 plus people saw your every move?

Two quick observations...

1. We can all be encouragers, cheerleaders and roaring teammates for the people in our lives as they live out their lives on the Balance Beam, the Bars, the Vault and the Floor.

2. There is one and only one who sees all. All the moves. All the missteps. All the mistakes. All the milestones. All the moments of success and failure.
And here is the good news... He's your biggest fan!!

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

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."
 (1 Thessalonians 5. 11)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

115 Smiling Faces

The whole family went to the state capitol of Wisconsin yesterday. The state capitol is in Madison, named after our fourth president, James Madison. The domed capitol of Wisconsin is the fourth largest dome in the world and the largest in the United States. It is the only domed capitol in the USA that is made completely of granite.

The tour was amazing. The rotunda is spectacularly overwhelming with its volume, space, art and marble. Marble floors, marble walls, marble columns cover every square inch it seems.

On the second floor of the rotunda, on one side was a high school orchestra playing the Star Spangled Banner and other American patriotic tunes. On the opposite side was a display of 115 smiling faces.

There were photographs displayed in groups of four. On each collection was a photograph of a smiling man or woman ages 19 to 48. They were photographed by themselves, with their friends, with the wife or husband, their kids, their pets, their moms and dads. It was a touching display.

Each man or woman in the photographs had three things in common.

1. They were all from Wisconsin
2. The were all in the United States military
3. They were all killed in action in the War on Terror...

I made it to about the 9th photograph before everything around me went silent. I didn't hear the orchestra, I didn't see the people milling around me... I just saw these young men and women smiling, laughing and enjoying life with their families and loved ones and before I knew it my shoulders started to shake, my face contorted and my vision became blurred as I started to weep over the loss of these precious lives.

I wept unashamed as other people just glanced over the display and kept on going enjoying their tour of the domed capitol. My mind's eye saw the funeral services with people draped in black, with loved ones clenching onto Kleenexes and women's eyes smeared with mascara. My heart experienced the silence that is always accompanied when a member of the military slowly and deliberately in march like fashion approaches a member of the family with an American flag folded into a triangle in their white gloved hands and kneels before the family and says with bowed reverence..."This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation..." 

The sense of loss was overwhelming for me in those moments...

My iWitness...

Several thoughts went through my mind at the Capitol, but this one stood at full attention and gave me a salute...

"Oh Lord, let there be peace on earth..."

The angels said it best...

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2. 14)

May the day come O Lord when friends and loved ones may once again place their hands on the cheeks of those 115 Smiling Faces...

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

Friday, March 8, 2013

Giving and Receiving

Yesterday I had two opportunities to give...(Let me rephrase that... let me share with you two encounters I had that I was able to "give." I am sure there were plenty of opportunities to give yesterday that escaped my attention...)

The first opportunity was to give of my time, my experience and my counsel.

The second opportunity was to give of my resources.

My iWitness...

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 begins like this...

 "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven..."

There is a season to give and there is a season to receive.

Most of us love to give... give of our time, resources, expertise, attention, advice, help and whatever other way "giving" manifests itself.

If we love to give then why is it so hard to "receive?"

I was struck yesterday at just how difficult it was for the two persons to receive the gift that was being offered as just that "a gift." No strings attached, a gift.

The second encounter brought us both to tears and yet the "receiver" wanted to do something to "pay me back." My protest was gentle yet firm... "There is a time to give and a time to receive. It's my turn to give and it's your turn to receive."

What time is it for you today?

To receive?

To give?

Whatever time it is for you, let us pray that we will be available to accept both gifts...

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

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The First and the Last

How often do we think about our breath? I learned early on that breathing is an involuntary act. We don't think about it. We don't consciously breathe in and then remind ourselves to breathe out.

But what about our "breath?" We brush our teeth to avoid bad breath. During cold winters we can "see" our breath. Smudge marks on the lenses of our glasses sometimes get a does of our humid breath. When we get scared we lose our breath.


I talked with two people yesterday... one whose spouse recently died and another person whose father is about to die.

I asked the recent widower if he was there for his wife's "last breath." He said that he was. I made the comment, "That has to be one of the highest honors and privileges to be with someone you love so much for their last breath." With tear filled eyes he simply nodded in agreement.

Another friend of mine is standing by the bedside of her father as his journey is coming to a peaceful close. I made the observation, "He saw your first breath and now you get to see his last." Her choked up response on the phone was one of agreement as well.

My iWitness...

It's rare for someone to see our first breath and our last breath. Perhaps that is why the death of a child is one of the cruelest realities in life. "We're not supposed to bury our children" is one of life's maxims. But some of us do. Some of us pay witness to the great joy of the first breath and watch with great sadness the last breath of our sons and daughters.

Mary had that tragic experience.

In the stable, surrounded by the cows, pigs, horses, donkey, goats, sheep, three wise men, Joseph, chickens and every other farm animal we can think of to complete our fantasy Nativity scene, Mary witnessed the first breath on earth by the Savior of the world. That first breath was so full of promise, potential and prophecy.

At the cross... there Mary stood, looking up into the darkened skies with the Light of the World's radiance dimming by the minute. He gave a shout of, "It is finished!" and with that Jesus breathed his last. I'm not sure Mary considered it a real privilege on that day to have experienced the first and the last breath of her son, the savior.

And yet, for God, He considers it one of life's greatest honors, privileges and pleasures... To be with us always, to the end of the age, to be the Alpha and the Omega, the A to the Z of our fragile lives here on earth.

One of my favorite quotes goes like this... "Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

However many breaths we take and however many moments we experience that take our breath away, be sure of this... God will be with us for every breath... especially the first and the last...

"And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28. 20)

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

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Birthday Greetings and Speeding

The speed of your computer is measured in "gigahertz."

Definition of a Gigahertz (GHZ) - One GHz represents 1 billion cycles per second. The speed of microprocessors, called the clock speed, often is measured in gigahertz. For example, a microprocessor that runs at 1 GHz executes 1 billion cycles per second.

That's a lot of information to process in one second!! One billion cycles per second! That's a 1 (one) with nine zeroes behind it - 1,000,000,000.

How about the human brain? Are computers faster than the human brain?

I read an article that says the human brain processes information at 10 quadrillion cycles per second.

One billion equals - 1,000,000,000 (9 zeroes)

Ten Quadrillion equals - 10,000,000,000,000,000 (15 zeroes)

My iWitness...

In celebrating my birthday yesterday I was overwhelmed with the number of birthday wishes I received. Some came through a card or letter delivered by the US Postal service. Others arrived via a text message on my phone. The phone rang numerous times and I actually had the privilege of hearing a familiar voice say, "Happy Birthday David!" The majority of birthday wishes used the wonder of social media - Facebook!

On Facebook the birthday wish might have only contained three words - "Happy Birthday David!"

But here was the miracle of it all - In the time that it takes to read those three words, my mind and my body and my heart and my soul were expereincing 10 quadrillion cycles of memories per second!

I was speeding yesterday!!!

With each greeting I heard the person's voice. I pictured their face. I saw their smile. Heard their laugh. Smelled their aroma. Felt their touch. Was transported to a special memory. I treasured their friendship and I thanked God for each one of them. I was amazed at just how fast and quick and deep the people flashed through my mind. It made my heart sing!

If my brain only processed at one gigahertz, I would still be processing all of those birthday wishes instead of writing this blog!

Praise be to God who fashioned us, made us, created us and loved us enough to build within us the greatest and fastest processors ever...

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139. 13-14)

A special thank you to all of you that have made such an impression on my life and thank you Lord that I can remember each and everyone of you...and now at 50 years of age I plan to keep on "Speeding!"

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

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

50 Years in the making...

March 5, 1963 - March 5, 2013

Today is my 50th Birthday!!! That dash in the middle of those two above dates represents fifty fabulous years filled with more blessings than I can count.

I wish I had the time and the ability to thank each person individually that has influenced my life to allow me to be where I am today. I started out in Ft. Pierce, Florida and today I am in Dubuque, Iowa. It's been quite the ride from Florida to Richmond, Virginia to Chamblee, Georgia to Mountain Lakes, New Jersey to Orange, California to Davidson, North Carolina back to Richmond, Virginia to Augusta, Georgia to Houston, Texas to Grants Pass, Oregon to Klamath Falls, Oregon to Dubuque, Iowa.

What a trek...
What a journey...
What a first half of life...

My iWitness...

There is a trinity of women in my life that I would like to give special thanks to on this day of celebrating 50 years of life...

Betty Jean - Gave me breath...

On March 5, 1963 Betty Jean delivered me in the St. Lucie County Hospital. Her prayer was simple. "May this little boy grow up to have a good education and grow up in a Christian home." She never saw me on that first day. She never held me. She loved me enough to give me up to give me an opportunity to experience first hand the prayer she offered up for me.
Forty three years later this college educated man who holds a Masters degree and was serving as a Pastor arrived in Gloucester, Virginia to hug the woman who gave him breath. What a joy it has been to be reconnected to you and Doug Sr. and older brother Doug Jr. and older sister Laura and "baby sis" Ellen. Thank you for giving me breath Betty Jean! Forever, I will be thankful!!

Judy Dendy - Gave me life...

On March 6, 1963 Judy Dendy picked me up at the hospital and took me home. I became David Wilkes Dendy the moment she picked me up and I have been ever grateful for the gift of being in the Curtner/Dendy family heritage. Moving all over the country allowed me to learn new cultures and learn the great joy of "adapting" to new situations with ease - something that carries with me to this day. I was the first baby baptized at the Indian River Presbyterian Church where mom and dad had helped start a new church development. We settled in Orange, California where my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ took on new and everlasting meaning. I sang in the church choir. I played every sport under the sun. I was active in the Youth Group. I learned the complete joy of sitting on the beach and watching the waves crash hour after hour. I made lifelong friends. Mom encouraged me in my educational pursuits. Off to Davidson College I went, 3,000 miles away from SoCal. After that I was on my own, but only because of the life lessons I had learned from Judy Dendy while sitting around the dining room table meal after homemade meal, or riding in the car or sitting in the family room. Mom - you loved me enough to pick me out at the hospital and take me home and claim me as your own. Forever, I will be thankful!!

Julie Dendy - Allowed me to discover life all over again...

On December 13, 1998 I went on my first date with Julie Keller. We went to the Houston Pop's Christmas Concert at Jones Hall in Houston, Texas. My life was a mess. No longer a pastor. No longer in touch with my two daughters. In the middle of a court battle on the personal and clergy level, my tote of dysfunction and disillusionment was large and heavy. With all her friends saying, "Don't get mixed up with a guy as mixed up as that" Julie forged ahead believing wholeheartedly that God was at work (with me and with us!).  Julie... what can I say? I rediscovered what joy was all about. I rediscovered that it was okay to be indecisive, unsure, insecure and vulnerable. I discovered what it meant to be loved for who I am and not for who I should be or ought to be. I discovered that I could offer my opinion without getting my head bit off in the process. I discovered how to speak freely versus having to watch every syllable that would come out of my mouth for fear of upsetting someone. I rediscovered that it was okay to be me - the one that God created so many years ago. I rediscovered my calling in becoming a pastor again. I rediscovered my passion for preaching. I rediscoverd my great love for the craziest institution in the world - The Church! O how I love the Church! I discovered what it meant to trust in God for beginning a family that went from zero children to two in a five month span!! I rediscovered the joy of adventure with such philosophies as "Let's go!! and Let's do it!" I rediscovered how to laugh out loud again!! I have rediscovered so much with you Julie! Forever, I will be thankful!!

The scripture is clear...
Jesus proclaims - "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10. 10)

My life has been just that... life abundant!
Let's get this party going! The next 50 will be even more adventurous!!

Thank you...Betty Jean!

Thank you... Judy Dendy!!

Thank you... Julie Dendy!!!

And most of all... Thank you dear Lord!!!!

Forever I will be thankful!

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

ps - And for the rest of you out there... You know who you are... Thank you!!
Forever, I will be thankful!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

March Fourth - The Most Progressive Day of the Year

It's always intriguing to me as to what sticks with you through the years. My high school math teacher, Mr. Nichols on this day over 33 years ago said, "It's March Fourth... The most progressive day of the year." The whole class stared at him as if to say, "What are you talking about?" He would repeat himself several times until we finally made the connection that he was implying - "March forth!" as if it was some kind of command to move forward... (Believe me... he had many more corny jokes and tales - like "A dot is a blind idiot." See if you can figure that one out!)

Every year I say the same thing to anyone who will listen... "It's March Fourth, the most progressive day of the year!"

My iWitness...

How are you feeling about making progress today?

Ready to rock and roll?

Does conquering the world seem pretty easy for you today?


Do you feel like for every two steps forward it's ten steps backward?

Do you feel like there are so many obstacles impeding your journey that you have the "paralysis by analysis" syndrome and so there you sit unable to move in any direction?

Maybe the better question is "Why do I feel the need to move forward at all?What would be the purpose of moving forward?"

These are all great questions. There are days when I am ready to conquer the world and then there are other days where the world is conquering me.

This quote from Paul has always encouraged me...

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3. 12-14)

I love the part of this quote where Paul says, "forgetting what lies behind..."

Forget the good and the accolades. Forget the failures and the embarrassment. Forget all of it and strain forward, press on for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus...

Maybe we can help each other press on today and tomorrow and the next.
I know I could use the help...

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

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Last night, Saturday night, Julie, Faith, Joshua and two good friends Alan and Heather went out to celebrate my impending 50th birthday (March 5th by the way!!). We went to a great restaurant and each had our own personal pizza. The conversation and the cuisine were superb.

We piled into the minivan to go home. Pulled into the garage. Alan and I were wedged into the backseat and we finally made our way out. I came into the darkened house. Made a right hand turn to go hang up my coat and then "SURPRISE!!!!!!!"

Twenty five people stood in the living room, laughing and yelling Happy Birthday!!! Wow!! Was I surprised!! Julie let out a loud cheer of "I did it!!! I surprised David!!" Indeed she did. I haven't had a surprise birthday party since I was 17. Thirty three years is a long time to wait for a surprise...

The party was full of laughing, sharing, eating, drinking and for dessert Julie had made "the best Carrot Cake ever". Indeed it was. It was good for breakfast this morning too...

To top the evening off, after everyone had left, Julie had asked a number of people to send in letters and cards from afar and write a favorite memory or story of their friendship with me. Julie and I stayed up until midnight as tears of laughter and tears of overwhelming emotion filled my heart as I read each letter and card. (A special thank you to all who wrote... my heart was touched beyond imagination!)

Julie... you done good girl! What a night! I was totally surprised...

My iWitness...

It's the first Easter Sunday morning, the women are going to the tomb where Jesus is buried. They arrive. The stone is rolled away! Surprise!!! "He's not dead, He is risen! He is risen indeed!" declares the Angel.

They go tell the disciples and Peter and John run to the empty tomb... Surprise!! Tomb empty! Promise fulfilled! Death conquered! Life overcoming death!! Surprise!!

Later in the day, the disciples are huddled together in great fear behind locked doors. With no knock, with no trumpet fanfare, with no announcement Jesus arrives and stands within their midst - Surprise!!!

So it is to this day... Jesus loves to SURPRISE us!!

Did you see the sunrise this morning? The orange and red light coming up over the horizon... Surprise!!!!

Did you see the birds lilting on the tree branches? Surprise!!!!

Like last night there may be some of us who find ourselves walking into a darkened situation and to our greatest delight and wonderment Jesus is already there proclaiming with a big smile on His face... "SURPRISE!!!!!"

I know that for some of us it may seem like it has been 33 years since we have been surpirsed by Jesus. Let me just say this, keep the eyes of your heart open today and tomorrow and the next... I have a great feeling that you are in for a big "SURPRISE!!!!"

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

"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
(John 20.19)