Sunday, June 30, 2013

How good are you at Forgiving? - 4Giveness Part 1

Today I received a Facebook message from a friend that started like this...
"Years spoke on Forgiveness. Maybe you remember or maybe not."I do remember speaking on forgiveness.
I don't remember what I said.

I do know that the subject of "Forgiveness" is just about the hottest topic out there. We have more visceral reactions to this topic than any other issue I have ever written about, talked about and preached about.

My friend cannot remember exactly what I said on the subject of "forgiveness" but she does remember that it made a positive impression.

Today my friend is in need of forgiving some things/people/events and needs to draw on some of those resources in order to move forward.

My iWitness...

This will not be an exhaustive treatment on forgiveness.
Perhaps we can spend a couple of days on the topic.

We are called to forgive as Christ has forgiven us.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4. 32)

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."
(Colossians 3. 12- 13)

This is incredibly difficult!!!!!!!!!
Let me say that again....
This is incredibly difficult!!!!!!!!!

The hardest aspect of forgiveness is that the forgiver
bears the burden,
     carries the cost
          absorbs the aberration.

You come into my home and break my lamp. You ask for forgiveness. I grant it. You leave my house. Who has to pay for the new lamp? ME!!! I bear the cost. I am the one who has to go out and buy the new lamp.

Forgiveness costs!
That is why the Bible is so true to the point...
"Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." (Hebrews 9.22)

Forgiveness cost Jesus his very life and blood on the cross. We broke the commandments, we broke the relationship, we abandoned the advice of the One who created all things. In order for us to be forgiven someone had to pay the price. Someone had to bear the cost.

And that someone is Jesus!

And so now we return to my friend and perhaps we turn to you now as well.

In forgiving are you willing to bear the cost?
Your reputation has been spoiled. Your ego crushed. Your trust shattered. Your career sidelined. Your heart broken, squashed and flattened. Your dreams thrown out the window. Your future down the drain. Your innocence stained. Your friendships betrayed. Do I need to keep going?

The cost can be overwhelming.
If you are willing to bear the cost, hear the good news...

We have Someone who comes up beside us and puts his arm around us and says, "I know something about bearing the burden, carrying the cost and forgiving the unforgiveable. Let me help you with this."

When we let Jesus help us "forgive freely at great cost" the most incredible phenomenon takes place...
In setting others free from condemnation and judgment and grudges...
We are the ones who ultimately experience the greatest joy of full forgiveness -

Forgiveness equals Freedom!

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

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The most profound question...

For the last 15 years Julie and I have kept a most wonderful and fun and blessed practice.
About once or twice a year we will offer a very large tip to a waiter or waitress of our choosing.
Last night was the night.
We went to the Main Street Chophouse in downtown Dubuque.

Our server for the evening introduced himself as Josh.
I said, "Hello Josh, my name is David and this is Julie."
He had dirty blonde hair cut short on the sides and messy on the top.
His eyes were so expressive in describing the specials of the night.
He used his hands in great animated ways in describing the entrees.
I noticed a very endearing habit of Josh's throughout the night. He would ask how everything was tasting and we would enthusiastically respond, "Great Josh! Everything is fantastic."
And then we would take his right hand and tap it on the table in three quick successions and then while moving on he would do the same to the side of the booth while saying, "Ok..."

I don't think we were 10 minutes into the dinner and Julie looked up at me and said, "Tonight is the night and Josh is the one."

I knew in an instant what she meant.
And so it was.
We enjoyed our dinner, laughed and cried in talking about my trip back to Klamath Falls and all the wonderful friends and memories we made there.
And then came the bill. I offered my credit card and Josh was quick in returning the bill for me to sign.

I looked him square in the eye and I said the following:

"Josh... Julie and I have been very blessed this year in our lives and we want to pass on some of that blessing to others. And tonight... you're the one! I would like to offer you a $100 tip."

Josh's eyes got real big and in a dumbfounded way said, "You don't have to do that."

I said, "I know I don't have to. But I want to. You're the one Josh!"

And then...
Josh leaned forward with those big expressive eyes with his hands outstretched in disbelief and asked the most profound question...

"Why am I the one?"

My iWitness...

This is the joy and delight that God has for us!

Out of His free will, out of His great love, God has chosen us to redeem, to save, to love and to bless.

And we ask with dumbfounded disbelief... "Why am I the one?"

It's not because we are handsome and pretty.
It's not because we are pathetic and needy.
It's not because we do great things.
It's not because we do terrible things.
It's not because we are just the nicest, most loving, caring people in the whole wide world.
It's not because we serve the needy, clothe the naked, house the homeless and feed the hungry.
This list could go on and on...

Like Josh, we ask in dumbfounded disbelief, "Why am I the one?"

Here's the answer and it is the only answer to the most profound question...

Because God chose you...

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

 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you...
(Deuteronomy 7. 6-8)

"We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4. 19)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Messy Relationships...

I received a text last night from a good friend.
The promising relationship that my friend was engaged in has not turned out to be promising at all.
I am sure there are a host of reasons that this relationship has gone from romantic to "let's just be friends."
The reality is that that which seemed hopeful, exciting and a long loving future together is no longer.
My friend is sad...and rightfully so.

Relationships are messy.
They are never "clean."
Issues, idiosyncrasies, impatience, impossible standards, inconsistent expectations, improbable connections and the fact that some of us are just plain idiots when it comes to our "relationship quotient" make long lasting intimate relationships a real crap shoot.

Broken hearts are a mainstay in our world and in our lives whether we are Christians or not.

My iWitness...

Maybe that's why having a relationship with Jesus makes life so different.
Yes, we carry with us the same "baggage" as mentioned above, but...
He doesn't!

Jesus meets us where we are...
Walks with us...
Talks with us...
Never leaves us...
Never abandons us...
Always loves us...
Always accepts us...
He knows us through and through...and in spite of that knowledge He still vows to be with us no matter what...
On the dance floor of life... Jesus dances all night long with us and never, ever walks off the dance floor leaving us stranded and "partnerless."

It is no accident...
It is a choice that Jesus chooses to be with us and to love us.
Is it messy?
You bet!

Is it painfully chaotic as we bounce to and fro, being tossed about by the waves of indecision and infidelity?

Do our hearts yearn for unconditional love and when we yell out of desperation, "Jesus will you please forgive me and will you please stay with me and will you promise never to leave me or forsake me and will you please wrap your arms around me because my heart is so broken, will you please?"

"Yes...", declares the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

The answer is always, "Yes!"

Do I believe that?

Do you believe that?

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

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34. 18)

"He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds." (Psalm 147. 3)

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair." (Isaiah 61. 1-3)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Flat Tire

I finally made it home after a grueling twelve hour trip from Seattle to Chicago to Dubuque yesterday. With bags in hand I opened the garage door expecting all the normal fanfare that is heaped upon the "King" who is coming home with all the spoils after a nine day trek into the wilderness to hunt, kill and provide food for the household.

What I was greeted with was my car sitting there with a flat tire. No pun intended but, talk about having the air sucked right out of your sails!

My iWitness...

The car looked perfectly normal except for the right rear tire which was only flat on one side (the underside!).

I could have ignored the flat tire and driven on three tires but cars were meant to ride on four.

I could have become obsessed with the flat tire ignoring the fact that the rest of the car was just fine.

What I did was grab the air compressor, turn it on, attach the hose to it and inflate my tire to the proper pressure.

The tire has a slow leak.

It needs to be filled with air about twice a week. Having been gone for 9 days did not allow me the opportunity to keep the tire properly inflated. It really is no big deal. Or is it?

Does your spiritual life have a slow leak?
Is there a part of your life that consistently goes flat if you don't pay attention to it?
Me too!

Here's the good news...
We have a God who is always at the ready to fill us back up... over and over and over.
His "air" is limitless to fill the weak spots of our life.

Perhaps the question of the day is, "Will I actually go and have the tire fixed? Or will I just keep driving around on a tire that has a slow leak?"

How about you?
The area of my spiritual walk with God that is slowly leaking the very life out of me... do I want to get that fixed or have I grown so accustomed to the leak that I really don't notice it any longer?

I have made one observation over the course of my lifetime...
Cars seem to run better when all four tires are inflated to the proper air pressure.

I have a feeling our lives will too...

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

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Corinthians 12. 9)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I took the "Red-Eye" flight from Seattle to Chicago last night arriving at 7:30 in the morning. The flight was two hours late leaving and then we circled the Chicago area for an additional hour due to extreme weather patterns.
I got off the plane in Terminal 1 and had to find my way to Terminal 3.
I have done it lots of times before.
There were signs pointing the way then all of a sudden the next set of signs did not point in any direction.
Within minutes I was completely lost in the Chicago O'Hare airport.

I am used to this.
I get lost all the time.
I have accepted this about myself that I have a terrible sense of direction.
I have become so accustomed to getting lost that I no longer become panicky.
I no longer break out into cold sweats.
I no longer experience a rise in my blood pressure.
I no longer get mad at myself. Rather I just start laughing... out loud. What else am I going to do?
I know that I will get there... eventually.
So... why stress?

I finally found a sign that said, "Terminal 3" (imagine an arrow pointing to the left)
I followed the sign but within 30 feet I was going to be heading out of "Security." I didn't want to have to go back through security all over again.
I walked as far as I could before exiting and stopped to ask the TSA agent if there was a way to get to Terminal 3 without exiting.
She looked up at me with reassuring brown eyes and said with a smile, "Yes... just go back down this hallway behind us and it will take you right to Terminal 3."
I slightly protested, "But the sign says that Terminal 3 is out this way (imagine me pointing in the opposite direction of where she told me to go.)
Here's where I laughed out loud...
She giggled in her response, "Yes... The signs are a bit confusing."

I made an about-face and marched down the hall in the opposite direction of the sign and within 10 seconds found another sign telling me that I was on the right track.

My iWitness...

How do we know we are going in the right direction?

What signs do we follow or adhere to during the day or during our lifetime that give us assurance that we are moving down the path God has desired for us?

To quote my new found TSA friend, are the signs a "bit confusing"?

Are there signs that are right for you but wrong for me?
Are there "absolute" signs that are right for everyone, all the time, under any circumstance?
Do we simply follow the signs that point in a direction that seems pleasing to our liking?
Or do we follow the signs that are counter intuitive and go against the grain of common sense and popular trending?

My experience has been that sometimes the signs are clear and sometimes the signs are painfully muddy and hard to distinguish.

Here's my take...
Don't get panicky...
Don't let the blood pressure rise...
Let's just..
keep calm
keep walking
keep asking for guidance
keep searching
keep trusting that God will correct us if we make a wrong turn and applaud us when we make the right one
keep listening
keep looking at the signs
keep looking for the signs
even though the signs might just be "a bit confusing."

If you see me wandering through life looking a little lost just smile and wave and I'll do the same...

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

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It all happened so fast...

Evidently two turtles crashed into one another while crossing the street.
Each one had to be taken to the animal hospital.
A police officer was called to the hospital to get their stories as to what happened.
The police officer looked at the one turtle and asked, "Would you please recount how the accident took place?"
The turtle responded, "I don't know officer... it all happened so fast."

My iWitness...

If my calculations are correct, today is day number 176 of the year 2013.
If my calculations are correct today I am 50 years, 3 months and 20 days old.
If my calculations are correct I have lived in 12 different cities.
If my calculations are correct I have met over 20,000 people in my lifetime.
If my calculations are correct I have four children and two grandchildren.
If my calculations are correct I have been married to Julie for 12 years and 23 days.
If my calculations are correct I have been ordained as a Presbyterian minister for 24 years, 9 months and 28 days.

It all happened so fast...

Over the weekend I saw teenagers with drivers license's. Sophomore students in college. Friends whose spouse's had died. Young people who were nearly as tall as I am. A vibrant friend who a year ago was having the time of his life and the other day his blank stare at me and listless wave showed the devastating effects of Parkinson's Disease.

Wasn't it just yesterday that these teenagers were running around playing tag?
Wasn't it just yesterday that these sophomores were playing basketball in 5th grade?
Wasn't it just yesterday that these married couples were celebrating the joy of an empty nest?
Wasn't it just yesterday that my friend was getting ready to enter his golden years of life?

It all happened so fast...

I am just wondering if there might be a way for us to slow down.
It will be difficult.
We will have to be intentional about it.
It just might well be worth it...
My biggest fear is that the day will come and we will meet the Lord face to face and He will inquire,
"Would you please take a moment to recount how life was for you on earth?"
And all we will be able to say is,
"I don't know Lord... it all happened so fast."

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

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

Monday, June 24, 2013

Can you really ever go home again?

I had the privilege of worshiping at the First Presbyterian Church, Klamath Falls, Oregon yesterday. It is the church that I called "home" from October 10, 2004 until March 11, 2012.
Yesterday was my first time back in 15 months, 12 days...
I used to be the "Pastor"...
Now... I am the "former Pastor"...

I was a bit nervous and excited and very emotional all at the same time.
The question before me was the same question that has been asked by others year after year...
"Can you really ever go home again?"

My iWitness...

Here's my take...

Over the last 15 months I have undergone some significant changes in my life.
So have others
Over the last 15 months I find myself in a different place in my spiritual walk with God.
So have others.
Over the last 15 months I have aged in ways that are obvious and in some ways not so obvious.
So have others.
Over the last 15 months I have had a host of incredible experiences.
So have others.

When we all come together again 15 months later and expect everyone and everything to be the same as it was 15 months ago then the answer to the proposed question is a big fat "No."

However... if we all come together recognizing that things have changed, people have changed, life circumstances are different, experiences on spiritual matters have matured or digressed or disappeared altogether... if we can all come together with that perspective then the answer to the question "Can you really ever go home again?" is an emphatic "Yes!"

But things will be different you protest.
Yes, they will.
But, who ever said that "home" had to remain the same as it was in a previous existence?
"Home" is dynamic, changing, moving, flowing, evolving and transforming.

With that idea in mind I entered the First Presbyterian Church's sanctuary yesterday and found myself at "home" once again.

And let me tell you...It was wonderful! No, strike that... It was more than wonderful...
It was "Home"... and I laughed, I sang, I hugged and hugged, I cried tears of joy and sadness, I worshiped our God, I was loved upon and lavished upon with great words of grace and love and I remembered what the ol' days used to be like and I looked forward to what the days ahead might hold for my "home" church.

As I was one of the last people to walk out of the church yesterday, which was always my custom, I thought to myself...

"Yes, you really can go home again..."

And so can you...

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

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91. 1-2)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Unfinished business...

Yesterday, our assignment was to finish the sentence, "If the Lord calls me home tomorrow..."

The thought of that reality has spurred me on to think and feel a host of emotions and thoughts.

Here they are...

My iWitness...

My thoughts come within the context of Jesus' proclamation on Good Friday while suspended on a cross by three nails.

Jesus declared, "It is finished" and then he bowed his head and died...
How many people can say that? He was finished. His mission was complete.

I ran into my good friend Pam yesterday afternoon. She had read yesterday's post and said, "I will be happy to go home to be with the Lord. I have no unfinished business..."

We had a great conversation about this as my thoughts and feelings were just the opposite.

Don't get me wrong. I am happy to go home to be with the Lord!


There just seems to be so much "Unfinished business" for me.

I have two daughters who haven't spoken to me since 1998.
I have two grandchildren that I have never met.
There is a church in Klamath Falls, Oregon where I was the pastor for 7.5 years and they are currently without a pastor and I would love to see who the new pastor is going to be and see that new pastor take the church I love so much to new heights.
I am in a new career field at the University of Dubuque and there are goals and accomplishments which I haven't achieved yet.
I wrestle daily with what is God's will for me in my new role in Dubuque, Iowa. I don't have a complete picture of that.
There are people I have hurt and disappointed over the years that I pray for reconciliation.
There are still many tennis tournaments that I need to win!! (LOL)

And then...
There's Julie, Faith and Joshua
Three people who love me in ways like no one else can and will.
Faith is so artistic, full of creativity that is expressed in paintings, drawings and singing. She has a motherly instinct in her where she senses how others are feeling and she immediately responds to care for them with such tenderness and care. Her big blue eyes are expressive beyond compare and I would love to journey a long time with where those eyes take her.
Joshua is scary smart and athletic and very sensitive. His curiosity in learning new things inspires me to stretch my own mind. He loves reading his "action Bible". I love cheering for him from the sidelines. He has the best laugh in the world and I would be honored to follow the echoes of his laughter for years to come.
Julie is an amazing woman of faith and of a great work ethic who keeps our home held together with good "calendaring", chores, events, car pooling, cooking, tenderness and love. Her radiant smile lights up every room she enters. I will follow her anywhere and there are so many places yet to go...

I could go on and on...

To fulfill my assignment, "If the Lord calls me home tomorrow... I have unfinished business..."

The question remains, "Does God have unfinished business with me?"

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

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1. 6)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

If the Lord calls me home tomorrow...

I was having breakfast with one of my dearest friends in the whole wide world this morning.
As is the custom for the two of us, our conversation went from topic to topic like a jumping bean.
Inevitably, we ended up talking about dying and bucket lists and planned giving and all those sorts of things.

Sitting across the table from me, my friend looked me straight in the eye and said,
"If the Lord calls me home tomorrow..."

My iWitness...

How would you finish that sentence?

"If the Lord calls me home tomorrow..."

How about we take the day to think and pray about that...

I would love to know your answers...
I'll share mine tomorrow... that is if the Lord doesn't take me home today!

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

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die..." (Ecclesiastes 3. 1-2)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Wing Nut...

The restaurant didn't open until 11:00 am and I was there at 10:55 and the doors were locked.
I waited outside basking in the sunshine allowing the rays to warm my body.
In my peripheral vision I saw a homeless man with a large duffel bag strapped to his back start moving my way.
I knew he would stop and ask for a handout and my prediction did not go unfulfilled.

He made some joke toward me and started cackling and I started laughing because it seemed the appropriate thing to do.

He almost walked by me but my curiosity wouldn't allow it. I said, "Hey! What are you doing?"

He drew closer so that we were standing within a foot or two from each other. Over the years I have run into a number of people who are homeless and they carry with them a certain aroma. It is distinct, unique and unforgettable.

He said, "I am heading to Winnemucca. My mom is on her deathbed and I need to go and see her." (Winnemucca is only about 300 miles away!!) He continued, "Do you have any money that might help me out?"

Without hesitating I grabbed for my wallet and asked, "How much do you need?" He kind of just shrugged. "How about a twenty?" His eyes sparkled. They twinkled. They danced. And then they became as genuine and sincere as they could be as he shook my hand and said, "Thank you...Thank you so much."

I inquired, "What is your name?"
He replied, "My name is Mickey but everyone calls me Wing Nut!"
"Wing Nut?", I asked with a huge smile on my face.

"Yes, that's the name I got on the streets."

Wing Nut lives on the streets. He has for the last 20 years. I asked him how he survives and he said by generous people like me. He makes a phone call every so often to touch base with family. Wing Nut is 43 years old and he looks more like 73.

Whiskers cover his entire face and ears. He stands about 5 feet 7 inches tall. His hair is sun bleached and wiry. His smile is wide, with a number of missing teeth along with the chewing tobacco stuck between his bottom lip and teeth. His left foot is numb and he has a number of plates and screws to hold his body together.

I said to Wing Nut, "I am a praying man and I am going to be praying for your safety and that you get to see your mom." (He hadn't seen her in 10 years)

He looked at me as a brother looks at his own brother and said, "Well, I have my bible in my bag. I love the Psalms. I have learned so much from the Psalms."

We chatted another minute or two and it was time for him to go meet some folks who were going to offer him a job. He wasn't sure he was going to take it or not.

We hugged each other tightly and then he started to walk away and then he stopped.
He made a quarter turn, looked at me, smiled widely and said, "David... We will see each other again." And off he went...

We sure will Wing Nut... We sure will...

My iWitness...

Jesus offers these words, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." (Matthew 25. 40)

Of the two people in the encounter above, who would you say was more blessed?
Wing Nut or David Dendy?

The answer seems obvious to me...

Thank you Wing Nut for doing unto one of the least of these your brothers!! I was blessed by you reaching out to me!! And I know Jesus is smiling for you ministering to me in his name.

May I do the same to others...

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

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Face to Face

I performed a very interesting, fun and yet profound experiment yesterday on the plane.
I boarded the plane and sat down in my usual "aisle" seat after placing my carry-on in the spacious overhead compartment.
Once situated I started my experiment. It went something like this...

I intently and purposefully looked at every face that walked by. I must have stared at and observed over 100 faces within a ten minute period.

Here's what I discovered - I didn't recognize one face.

I didn't recognize one single person that stepped onto the plane.
I did recognize parts of people's faces.

Oh... that man has Doug's eyes. That lady has Barb's eyes...
And that man's double chin reminds me of another friend. (who shall remain nameless!)
That woman has Shelly's nose...
And look at those cheeks... they are just like Kris'...
Those lips and that mouth look just like Judy's and Steve's...

And this went on and on and on. It is fascinating to me that of all the faces in the world with the simple components of eyes, noses, lips, mouth, cheeks, chins and foreheads there are no two people who have the same face.

It is the complex arrangement of those components that make each of us unique and each of us recognizable to those who know us and love us.

My iWitness...

Sometimes I wonder if I will recognize the face of Jesus. We have all sorts of paintings and depictions of Jesus. But, what does his face really look like? No one on the earth knows.

I guess the real question is not whether I will recognize the face of Jesus but rather
"Will Jesus recognize mine?"

Here's the good news...

The answer is, "YES!"
Don't forget... He is the one who created your face.
And when our eyes lock for the first time, the overwhelming connection will only be overcome by his amazing arms of grace being thrown around me with his booming voice of laughter shouting, "Welcome home David!"

Ah... to see Jesus "face to face"... what a day that will be!

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

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

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

God's Timing

I was scheduled to fly out at 7:45 am this morning.
I received an email from the Airline company last night at 10:00 alerting me to the fact that my 7:45 scheduled flight had been cancelled.
The email went on to say that if I had any questions please click on the following link. (Now that's two way conversation at its best!!)
I clicked on the "following link" and discovered that I had been rebooked on the 6:45 am flight.
Hoping to get a little extra "shut eye" just got thrown out the window.
So... here I am at the airport with one hour less sleep and a little ragged from the notification that I just so happened to be awake to receive.

My iWitness...

My experience of talking to people about the "timing of God's will" always seems to suggest that God makes us wait.
That somehow "God's timing" is always later and not earlier.


What if God's timing was earlier and not later?
What if what you have been praying about and waiting on God has already been saying for weeks, months and maybe even years, "Go go go!! Get a move on!!! The plane is departing an hour earlier than you think!!!"

Take a look around... maybe God is ready to go and the real question is... "Are you?"

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

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Riding Waves!

At the Waterpark Capital of the World on Sunday, my seven year old son Joshua did an amazing thing. Fearlessly, he jumped on a boogie board and rode a man made wave that must have pounded out 10,000 gallons per second of rushing water. It was called the Flow Rider.

It reminded me of one of my favorite pastimes - Riding Waves!

Growing up in Southern California allowed me the privilege of jumping in the Pacific Ocean on a regular basis.
One of my most memorable experiences was standing out in the ocean with the water about waist high, with my back toward the sand. My eyes would scan the horizon searching to and fro for an incoming wave. The ocean rarely disappointed me. The incoming water before me would start to rise and the receding water right behind me would start to sink. When I felt the water travel from my waist down to my knees, I knew in an instant that a big wave was about to break. With one fluid motion I would twist and turn and lunge toward to the beach and start swimming as fast as I could in order to "catch the wave."

One of the greatest feelings in the world is experiencing the rush and roar of a crashing wave all around you as you are propelled down the glassy face of the wave toward the beach at speeds exceeding 100 mile per hour (at least it felt that way!).

Regrettably, it's been years since I last found myself "Riding Waves."

My iWitness...

Here's a little bit of an obvious truth concerning "Riding Waves."

I cannot ride waves that don't exist. And neither can you...
I can stand in the water all day long, but if there are no waves then I cannot "ride the waves."

I cannot make the waves. I cannot create the waves.
I can only ride the waves that God makes.

So it is with God's blessings and plans for my life.
I can only ride the waves of blessings that God creates and generates.

Have you ever tried to create and generate your own wave?
Me too...

I didn't get very far. I did a lot of paddling, splashing and swimming but didn't get very far. In fact, I found myself just getting exhausted and worn out. As a pastor I found immense pressure being placed on me by others and by my self to create waves and waves of God's blessings. Giving in to that type of pressure can prove disastrous.

What would happen if we would pray that God would allow us to be a part of what He is blessing versus blessing that which we are doing in hopes that He will be a part of it?

When was the last time you "rode a wave" of God's blessings?
See you out in the water as we wait and wait to hear God's voice proclaiming, "Surf's Up!!"

Catch His wave and have the ride of your life!

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

"For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him."
(Colossians 1. 16)

Monday, June 17, 2013


I spent Father's Day in the Wisconsin Dells - "Waterpark Capital of the World".
It was a family reunion with Julie's side of the family coming together to celebrate Barb and Doc's 50th wedding anniversary and to celebrate Dave Keller's 75th birthday.
From the North came Chrissy and her boyfriend Bob from Minocqua, Wisconsin.
From the West came Pete and Mary with their two boys (young men) Tyler and Ryan from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
From the East came Dave and Ellen Keller from Atltanta, Georgia.
From the East came Barb and Doc from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
From the South came the Dendy family from Dubuque, Iowa.

Together we sat around the dinner table and feasted on great food and conversation while celebrating these great milestones of birthdays and anniversaries.

Today... everyone is returning from whence they came...

My iWitness...

I love this imagery of "convergence"... people coming from all over the map to be at one spot, at one place and time to celebrate.

I love this quote by Jesus in talking about the Kingdom of Heaven...

"And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God." (Luke 13. 29)

As Julie's family converged on the Wisconsin Dells - Waterpark Capital of the Word so too the day will come when all of God's children will converge on the Heavenly Kingdom - Everlasting "Living Water" Park Capital of the Universe.

And we will recline and rest and relax and rejoice around the table that God has prepared for us and for Himself, the only difference being... we will never return from whence we came.

And that my friends is the best news of the day!

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

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

"Happy Father's Day!"

For the fourth "Father's Day" in a row those are words that I will only have the joy of saying to men other than my own father.
My dad was born on August 9, 1929 and died on April 25, 2010 just three and half months shy of his 81st birthday.

I have said these words before but they stand worth repeating today.
In November of 2005 I was driving my dad to the airport and I said with great fear and trepidation, "Dad, are you proud of me?"
My dad responded quickly, which was unusual for him, "Of course I am son."
I continued, "Well, I need to hear that from you. I need to know that you are proud of me."

My dad didn't do a lot of things, but let me tell you what he did do...
For the next four and half years at the end of every conversation we had he would say,
"I'm proud of you son."

For the last three years and twenty-two days I have carried those words with me. They mean more to me than anything.
It was indeed the last words I ever heard from my dad.

We were on the phone.
Dad was in the hospital after suffering a heart attack.
I was in Houston, Texas leading a spiritual renewal weekend.
In a raspy voice struggling to find enough oxygen to utter the words, the last words I heard from Marshall C. Dendy, Jr. were, "I love you son. I'm proud of you."
It doesn't get much better than that!

If you, the reader will indulge me for just this one moment, please allow me the joy of saying,
"Happy Father's Day dad. I miss you. I love you. And I'm proud of you too."

My iWitness...

To all the dads out there...
Perhaps there are no words greater to say to your children than these seven words:

"I love you
I'm proud of you..."

If Jesus needed to know that his Abba (Father) was proud of him, how much more do we need to tell our own children?

When Jesus was being baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the form of a dove and the thunderous voice of God the Father Almighty proclaimed:
"This is my son with whom I am well pleased..." (Matthew 3. 17)

Make these words of pride and honor and love be the first words your children hear today...
not your last.

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

ps - "Happy Father's Day!"

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Invitation

It was five simple words...
Each word was pronounced with one syllable apiece.
The words came out so smooth it was as if they were a string of pearls strung together in one breath with an easy smile on the end of it.

There I was all by myself, minding my own business under a beautiful oak tree, checking my phone for messages, enjoying the mid 70's day, overlooking the tennis courts, watching an 18 year old and a 15 year old battle it out on the tennis court.

I became so immersed in my "smart phone" that I didn't notice that the match had come to a conclusion. And then I heard the good looking, college bound, 18 year old tennis star named Tom offer the invitation.

He placed his left hand on the chair beside me, began placing his Wilson Blade tennis racquet on the table and said with an easy, gracious smile...
"Mind if I join you?"

I was pleasantly surprised by the invitation. It caught me off guard. Part of me was saying, "Why would you and your buddies want to hang out with this 50 year old tennis pro wannabe?" Another part of me was honored to be invited to spend time with Tom, Jackson and Gavin - Two recent high school graduates and one rising high school sophomore.

My response was straight to the point, "Absolutely! Pull up a chair..."

And the conversation, the laughter, the learning, the counseling, the advice giving and more laughter ensued.

I was privileged to be offered the invitation.
I was even more honored to have accepted the invitation.

My iWitness...

I felt his hand on my shoulder this morning when I woke up.

I felt it again while I was making a protein shake this morning.

He tapped me again on the other shoulder about 30 minutes later.

I opened the front door to let the cool morning air into the house and there he was again at the front door with that easy, gracious smile.

After four times I finally heard him. It wasn't a command or a demand, it was simply an offer...

"Mind if I join you?"

Part of me said, "Why would the creator of all things known and unknown... Why would the King of Kings and Lord of Lords want to hang out with me, a sinner of grand proportions.?
Another part of me was like, "Wow... really? You want to hang out with me again?

My answer was straight to the point, "Absolutely, come on in..."

And the conversation, the laughter, the learning, the counseling, the advice giving and more laughter has ensued and it's only 10:00 am (Central Time).

I am blessed to receive The Invitation.

I am even more blessed and honored to accept it!

How about you?

The Invitation has been offered... it's only five simple words that will change your life...forever...

Will you accept?

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

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3. 20)

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Flag and the Cross

It's a simple rectangle...
Within her four corners and four sides resides only three colors: blue, white and red.
Add six white stripes bordered by seven red stripes with a square patch of blue and throw in 50 white stars into the upper left hand corner and "voila"... you have the most powerful symbol and icon in the United States of America - The Flag of the United States of America.

In its simplicity Americans find incredible power and pride in the flag. The colors are rich in their meaning:
Red - Hardiness and Valor
White - Purity and Innocence
Blue - Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice

Each star represents a state - 50 stars representing a new constellation of some 350 million people.

Flag Day is celebrated on June 14.
It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States which happened on that day in 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.

Flag Day was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson (former Davidson College student!) on May 30, 1916.

Not until August 3, 1949 after President Harry S. Truman signed an Act of Congress did June 14th become the National Flag Day.

May "Old Glory" fly high and proud today as the United States of America celebrate 237 years of freedom!

My iWitness...

It's only two straight lines...
Two pieces of wood... one shorter, one longer
Set them side by side and they are meaningless.
Set them at right angles with the shorter one crossing the longer one about 2/3 of the way up and you have the most powerful symbol and icon in the world.

The Cross...

In its simplicity Christians have found incredible power, courage, strength, comfort and freedom in the cross.
For years it was the symbol of the cruelest of tortures: execution by crucifixion.
Hang a man by nailing him to the cross piece by his hands and secure him by his feet with one more spike and let that convicted criminal die a slow death of asphyxiation that could take up to three days before his last breath was breathed.

Today it means so much more.
For Roman Catholics Jesus hangs on the cross as a reminder of the great sacrifice that our Lord and Savior offered and is remembered day in and day out in the order of the Mass and celebration of the Eucharist (The Lord's Supper).
For Protestants the cross is empty signifying that the tomb is empty, Jesus is no longer dead but He is risen and is alive.

The cross has become one of the most common symbols hung around the neck of people worldwide.

What does the cross mean to you?

On this day and every day forward may The Cross stand high as Christians worldwide celebrate close to 2,000 years of freedom.

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

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)


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Photographs - Moments Caught on Camera

I'll never forget thinking, "Why would you put a camera on a phone? Who would ever think that is a good idea?"
So much for my visionary view of the world...
I love having a camera on my "smart" phone.

There is something about capturing a moment in time.
Videos capture an event.
Photographs capture the moment...forever.

I love events...
But it's the moment, that split second moment that is captured that in the end captivates me.

I recently saw a photograph that caught a moment in time and a wave of emotions flooded my heart and soul.

That's one thing I love about Facebook... the photos that share a peak into a "moment".
That's one of the things I love about my wife Julie... she loves to "scrapbook." We have volumes of scrapbooks that have caught hundreds of "moments in time."

I love studying photos... the backgrounds, the expression on the faces, the posture of the people posing, the clothing style that dates us, the hairstyles that defined us and the emotions that determined what was being felt in that one moment of time caught on camera...

My iWitness...

One thing I have been struck with recently concerning photographs is the fact that in each photo, in each moment captured on camera... God was there.

Whether I am looking at photos from the 70's, the 50's or from two days ago, one thing remains constant... God was there.

Today I find incredible comfort in knowing that whatever moment I catch on camera or not, the One who is always there will be right where He always is... right there.

May our day be full of thanksgiving and wonder for the One who is "Immanuel" - God with us.
And may we be captured with Him today moment after moment after moment...

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
(Matthew 1. 23)

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

                                         1978 - Ninth grade graduation at Yorba Junior High School
                                         flanked by my two best friends Joe Sigalas and Steve Stearns

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ol' Blue Eyes

There he stood.
Dark pants...
Cream colored shirt...
Matching tie...
Sport Coat hanging in the office behind the door...
Sun shining...
Right hand by his side...
Left hand extended high...
Left palm exposed...
All five fingers fanning out to form a wave...

It was a wave good-bye...for the very last time..

I wonder what was going through my friend Steve Hamlin's piercing blue eyes as he waved
good-bye to those classic Yellow School Buses yesterday that carried
32 years of children that he had helped educate
32 years of teachers that he has mentored, cheered and led since Ronald Reagan was serving his first term as President of the United States of America
32 years of holding the hands of students trying to navigate their way through the public school system
32 years of kids yelling at him, cussing at him, hitting him
32 years of kids smiling at him, making him laugh with their corny jokes
32 years of getting in the car and driving up to a dilapidated home to find a child who was absent from school
32 years of driving a child home from school, long after the buses had left because mom and dad just didn't come and pick up this student
32 years of driving to the ends of the earth to make sure that a child was educated and safely home
32 years of calmly and lovingly looking at a student from across the Principal's desk knowing all along that the child sitting in front of him was just that... a child, a child of God, a child of a broken dysfunctional home in proportions beyond what most of us have experienced and knowing all along what this young person really needed was an adult that would listen and care... I mean really care.
32 years of kids coming back to him years later and saying, "Thank you..."
32 years of school bells
32 years of school lunches
32 years of recess duty
32 years of the school calendar running your life
32 years of the aroma that only a school cafeteria can create
32 years of the sound that only an assembly of kids can create
32 years of encouraging brand new teachers that "Yes, you can do this and Yes it is now time to get back into that classroom and take these kids to a new level."
32 years of his beautiful wife Helena saying at the end of the day, "How was school today?"

Yesterday, the kids waved good-bye to Mr. Hamlin and I cannot help but wonder as Mr. Hamlin waved good-bye to them for the very last time as the Principal, if he wasn't really waving "hello" to the unwritten pages of life called "Chapter 2."

I just wonder...While waving, what was going through those "ol' blue eyes...?"

My iWitness...

What do the eyes see?

What have your eyes seen?

What will your eyes see today that they have seen everyday for the last 32 years?

What will your eyes see for the very first time today?

What will your eyes see on the unwritten pages of Chapter 2 or 22 today?

No matter what your eyes see today, the eyes of the Lord will see you today. Just like they have for the last 32 years, the last 50 years, the last 82 years or the last 17 years.

The beautiful thing about the eyes of God is that they are always waving "hello" and never will they wave "good-bye" to your ol' brown eyes, your ol' green eyes or even your ol' blue eyes...

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

"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him." (2 Chronicles 16. 9)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Crystal Clear

Communication is a fascinating experience.
Today we communicate more than ever through the wonders of email, blogging, texting, phone calling and actual face to face conversations. An interesting aside to this is that we communicate more and ultimately connect less. (That's a subject for another blog...)
We also communicate through what are called "non-verbal" cues. The rolling of the eyes, the crossing of arms, the far away look that clouds over a person's eyes and you immediately know "the lights are on but no one is home."
When I preached every Sunday I was always amused by some of the comments at the door after the service. "That was a great sermon on...." And what they would say about the sermon had nothing to do with what I thought I was preaching on.
Here's our conundrum...
I think about what I intend to say, I say what I intend to say, I think I said it.
You audibly hear what I just said. You read into it what you want to hear. You walk away knowing exactly what you thought I said. In the end we have not communicated at all.

We had a "productivity expert" come to the office last week who worked with us on communication. Evidently I have a hard time being very direct with my colleagues on exactly what I need and when I need it.

My assignment from now on is to begin my directives with, "I need...."
After I have started with that, I must end with "Are we clear?"

Our consultant loves movies. He got all excited because my exercise is right out of the movie "A Few Good Men" starring Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Kevin Bacon.

Colonel Jessup (Jack Nicholson) is on the stand and he asks Kaffee (Tom Cruise), "Are we clear?"
Kaffee: "Yes sir."
Jessup: "Are we clear?"
Kaffee: "Crystal..."

This has become our new code word in the office. When I ask for something, then I am supposed to say, "Are we clear?" to which the response has to be "Crystal."

My iWitness...

We live in a foggy world. People lie. People distort the truth. People fabricate stories. People make stuff up. People interpret things, events, occasions and people through a lens that serves only one purpose... their own. Our world is full of shades of gray.

And then there's Jesus...

A man who is not black and white in His approach to life but rather full of color.
A man of truth...of hope... of care... of tenderness...of  brilliance...of a furious love that is fueled by His unconditional love, grace and mercy for you and me.

Let's be clear about a few things today...
I don't know where you are coming from today
But we do know where Jesus comes from...
And Jesus comes to us right where we are sitting or standing at this very moment and puts his nail scarred hands that created the world on our cheeks and looks deeply into our eyes and says,

"I have a word for you. I know your whole life story. I know every skeleton in your closet. I know every moment of sin, shame, dishonesty and degraded love that has darkened your past. Right now I know your shallow faith, your feeble prayer life, your inconsistent discipleship. And my word is this: I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are, and not as you should be. Because you're never going to be as you should be."

Are we clear?

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

"For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3. 16)

ps - Credit goes to Brennan Manning for the above quote about Jesus having a word for us...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Field of Dreams

We live in Dubuque, Iowa - the oldest city in the state of Iowa. About 22 miles to the west is the town of Dyersville - Home to the movie site of "Field of Dreams", starring Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta and James Earl Jones. Over Memorial Day weekend we took the family along with my mom and sister out to Dyersville to see the site. At the souvenir stand we bought the Blue Ray edition of the movie.

Last night we watched the movie together. Scenes from the movie were filmed on the University of Dubuque campus and we shouted and pointed at the TV when Kevin Costner comes walking out of the very building that I work in day in and day out.

The basic premise is a farmer upon hearing a voice in the cornfield saying, "If you build it, he will come", plows under part of his cornfield to build a baseball field - a "field where dreams come true."
All of a sudden "Shoeless" Joe Jackson of the famed Chicago White Sox "Black Sox" scandal comes out on the field and asks Kevin Costner, "Is this heaven?"
To which the famous reply is, "No... this is Iowa."

All sorts of dreams start coming true at this baseball field where only those who believe can actually see what is being played out on this "Field of Dreams." One of the other voices that Kevin Costner hears is "Ease his pain." Struggling to know what this means Kevin Costner goes on a search across the country, ultimately bringing him back to his own farm, on his own baseball field.

At the end of the movie as the baseball players wander off into the cornfield there remains one player on the field, the catcher. He is putting his catcher's gear away. The catcher removes his mask, stands up, turns around and to Kevin's amazement he staring right into the face of his own father (at a younger age). Kevin introduces him to his family that he never had the privilege of meeting in real life.

The father starts to walk off and Kevin says with great emotional hope, "Dad?... Want to play catch?" And so they do...

And the pain of a broken relationship with his father is healed with the simple and yet profound gesture of "playing catch" with his father. And finally Kevin realizes that it is his own pain that is being eased...

As the camera pans back from this bucolic scene, the sun has set, darkness has risen and the headlights of cars from miles away illuminate the driveway, the road and the highway as they fulfill the prophecy... "If you build it they will come."

My iWitness...

As soon as the father turned around and said, "Hello" to Kevin Costner tears started streaming down my face. They continued cascading especially when Kevin asks his dad to play catch.

The specific memory of playing catch with my own dad came rushing back to my mind and emotions like a flash flood.  It was not a good memory.

To my memory, my dad and I played catch only once. I was about four or five. After about five or six throws, I threw that plastic baseball over his head. I thought I had done such a good thing by being able to throw the ball that far. My dad didn't have the same thought. With that, my dad walked inside and we never played catch ever again.

There is a great and deep pain that I would love to have "eased." Oh how I would love to have the opportunity to play catch with my dad again... and just maybe the pain would be eased.

Dear Lord, there are a lot of us in great pain today.

Would you please ease the pain of...

My good friend whose son committed suicide on Christmas day two and half years ago. She feels as though she failed him...
My good friend who suffers from cancer and although his spirit is strong and his hope in You is secure, the uncertain future can be quite scary...
My good friend who is going through a divorce where the promise of a future of holding the hand of the one she loves has disappeared...
My good friends who lost their daughter in law and grandson within one hour of each other...
My good friends who suffer from mental health issues...
My good friends who suffer the pain of a broken relationship with their father, their mother, their brothers and sisters, and their children...
My good friend who lost her children in a great tragedy...
My good friend who lost her mom recently...
My good friends who have a broken relationship with you O Lord...

And the list goes on and on for my "good friends".

What pain do you suffer from that you would like to have "eased?"

Time does not heal or ease these pains...

Only God heals and eases these pains...

May the healing hand of God be upon us all this day...and turn this "Field of painful reality" into the "Field of Dreams" we long for and hope for...

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

Listen to Jesus' invitation..."Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11. 28-30)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Winning and Losing Part 2

God certainly has a sense of humor...
After blogging about Winning and Losing yesterday, Joshua and I drove 90 miles to a tennis tournament that I was excited about "winning."
You know what is coming don't you...
I played two opponents and lost both times in three sets...
Joshua was my ever faithful supporter and part-time ball boy.
About every other time we would switch sides on the tennis courts and I would go over and get a drink of water, Joshua, in all his innocence would ask, "Daddy... are you still losing?"
My answer was the same for four hours in a row... "Yes!"
I wanted to win...
But I ended up losing...

Don't you just love "life lessons" that God throws our way?

My iWitness...

Several people asked me to send them text messages on how I did in the tournament. It was agonizing to send out a text message saying that I had lost, that I had been defeated.
I kept thinking about my blog yesterday and how our value is not found in winning or losing but found in Christ.

Here's what I discovered...
The people I texted still love me, care for me and still think that I am a pretty good guy.
If these people think I'm okay... how much more does God think that I'm okay?

Just needed a little lesson yesterday...
Can't wait to get back on the court for more lessons!

How about you?
Any "life lessons" being thrown your way these days?

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

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9. 8)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Winning and Losing

I have played tennis for the last 41 years of my life. It is my passion and great joy.
Yesterday I was playing against one of the top 18 year olds in the state of Iowa.
As we played I found myself getting all revved up inside because I was losing so many points. Brandon was just blitzing shots past me right and left. I couldn't even get a racquet of a lot of his shots.
We got done playing and we walked over to the sideline to collect our things and get a drink of water.
With not much breath I sputtered out, "Thanks for playing Brandon."
His response made me laugh inside.
Looking as fresh as he could be after an hour of playing, he looked right at me, raised his water bottle just short of his lips and said, "Yeah, sure, no problem." He then proceeded to drink his water and then unceremoniously checked his phone for messages as he slowly, deliberately, without a drop of sweat on his body walked off the court.
I was still sweating an hour later!!

My iWitness...

When was the first time you ever lost at something?
Do you remember the first time you experienced failure?
Do you remember what it first felt like when you began to realize that you could fail...that failure really was an option?

I'll never forget sitting in the dugout crying after a Little League baseball game. For the second game in a row in a doubleheader I was the last batter up with the bases loaded, two outs and our team down by one run. Two times in a row I struck out, ending the game on the losing end of the stick.

I was devastated. Embarrassed. Humiliated.

What does it mean as a Christian to fail? To lose?
We are told in scripture to run, to fight the good fight, to run the race so as to win the prize, to not let your guard down, to put on the full armor in order to stand in the battles of life and to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who is our ultimate prize awaiting us at the finish line of life.

But what happens to those of us who have lost the innocence of life and we know that we will fail, we will lose, we will stumble, we will fall, we will get shot down, we will get thrown under the bus, we will run out of steam, we will trip and fall flat on our spiritual faces?

What happens then?

Let me offer this....

Our failings are not futile...
Our falling down is not fatal...
Our defeats are not final!

Our value, our life and our eternity does not rest on whether we win or lose.
That's hard to understand, comprehend and actually believe!
But this is the truth...

Our value, our life and our eternity rests on the One who won the race.
Let us not forget what He looked like when He "crossed" the finish line.
It was no easy race...
Our life is no easy race either.

Run the race today and whether you win or lose, succeed or fail... the hands and arms of Jesus are open wide to accept us just as we are and not as we should be, because we are never going to be as we should be...

The Race, the Game, the Competition has been won...
And maybe today when we look at Jesus and say, "Thank you!"
Just maybe, just maybe His response will be to look right into the eyes of our heart and say,
"Yeah, sure, no problem..."

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

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint."
(Isaiah 40. 28-31)

Friday, June 7, 2013

D-Day... Mark it down!

Yesterday marked the 69th anniversary of what has become known as "D-Day."
June 6, 1944 is day that the Allied Forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France in what was known as Operation Overlord. The specific operation of storming the beaches was called Operation Neptune.

Listen carefully to this next statement...
After securing the five beachheads in Normandy the war known as "WWII" was over.

"Wait a minute!!!!," you protest. "The war in the European Theater didn't come to an end until the Spring of 1945."

To that I say, "Yes, it is true that the Axis forces surrendered in the late spring of 1945."


The "war" ended on June 6, 1944.
Once the Allied forces were able to secure a stronghold on the Western Front the "war" was over. Yes, battles continued for almost a year before "Victory" was declared.

Mark it down...June 6, 1944 - War over.

My iWitness...

Has anyone ever asked you, "When were you saved?"

It's been a long time since someone has asked me that question but here is my standard answer and it can be yours as well.

"Yes, I do know exactly when I was saved. It happened on a cloudy Friday afternoon around 3:00 pm...about 2,000 years ago..."

I love the looks I get when I say this.

This the reality though...

When Jesus died on the cross...
When He rose from the dead...
The war was over.

Sin had been defeated.
Death no longer has the stronghold.
Resurrection has the ultimate Victory.

Yes, the battles continue...

Mark it down...Good Friday - War over!!

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

"Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
(1 Corinthians 15. 51-57)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Prayer and the Tooth Fairy...

My 7 year old son Joshua lost his left front tooth yesterday at school.
He was so excited as he ran up to me upon my walking through the door last night flashing me his big smile with one less tooth.
Upon arriving home my wife Julie told him to place the tooth under his pillow so that the Tooth Fairy would be able to find it and give him some money.
(Sidebar - Who came up with this idea? I'd like to have a few words with this individual!!)
Bedtime arrived and just before Joshua climbed into bed the question of the universe was placed before him:
Is your tooth under your pillow?
The answer of "No" brought on a full blown search of the house, the car, every trash can and every other nook and cranny known to man on our small piece of property in Dubuque, Iowa. All of this was accompanied by the wailing and gnashing of teeth (one less than the day before) of Joshua.

Exhausted, we finally said (with the most polite, calm, tender and soothing voice), "Go on to bed..."

Hours later when the female side of the Tooth Fairy in our family decided to go to bed she found this note in big sister Faith's room:

Dear Tooth Fairy
my brother can
not find his
tooth. Will you
please give him
so money.
P.S. Your
firend Faith

My iWitness...

How many times have we had the distinct privilege of praying on behalf of someone else?
Our mom is dying of cancer...
     We pray on her behalf.
Our best friend is suffering from alcoholism...
     We beseech the Holy One to intervene.
Our children are fast asleep, all tucked in under their sheets...
     We get down on our knees beside their bed and ask God's protecting angels to surround them.
We have just had the worst day of our lives at work...
     Someone, unbeknownst to us lifts up our very being before the throne of Grace.
We run into someone at the grocery store and unconsciously ask, "How's it going?"...
     Twenty minutes later we have our arms wrapped around their shoulders asking for the healing 
     hand of God to be placed upon their hearts.

Faith's petition melted the heart of the Tooth Fairy.
How much more...
How much more will our petitions, our prayers of intercession touch the heart of the One who dearly loves us and provides for all of us in ways unimaginable.

"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4. 6-7)

Let our requests be made known on behalf of others...
On behalf...

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

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Audience

I watched "America's Got Talent" last night on TV.

There were dancers, comedians, some acts that I wasn't quite sure what was the talent, orchestras, choral groups, a guy named "Special Head" who levitated and some downright, knock your socks off singers who were simply amazing. If the act was good enough... they were heading to Las Vegas for the next round.

Whether each contestant received standing ovations or loud boos from a packed house. Whether they drew the judges' disapproval or received an emphatic thumbs up, they all had one thing in common...

Thy were all out on stage...

My iWitness...

 Have you ever been on stage?

It's a scary place to be.
It's just you.
Nobody else.
No one else to blame.
No one else to share the credit.

And the crowd waits as you get ready to perform.
And you wonder...
Sometimes you wonder so much as to whether the audience will like you or not, you get "stage fright" and you cannot perform and the demanding audience pounces on your weakness with their disapproving boos ultimately leaving you lower than a snakes' belly slithering off the stage.
Sometimes you meet their approval and the applause and the kudos and the praise is deafening and you bound off stage higher than a kite.

The audience can be so fickle...
So unpredictable...
So frightening...

Here's a reality check!

The stage of "today" that we walk out on, risking our very being in performing the duties of the day, only has an audience of "one."

There is only one person in the audience.

That one person is God alone.

Here's the deal.
This audience of One loves you, cheers for you, gives you standing ovations for the littlest acts of kindness you perform in loving service for others.
This audience of One is not fickle, unpredictable or frightening.
This audience of One has a most fascinating facet to His judgeship.
This audience of One is mobile.

This audience of One does not remain in the audience with arms crossed, face stern with voice booming, "You better be perfect! Your act better knock my socks off! You better do something incredible! Your "wow" factor needs to be "over the top."

No, the audience of One has the ability and the mobility to come up out of the seats and visit us on stage to turn us into better performers, have a more loving stage presence and indeed do things and be things we never thought possible.

The audience of One has been on stage before. He has been perfect. He has watched the fickle crowd in matter of five days go from singing his praises with "Hosanna" to the loud shouts of "Crucify him."

The audience of One wants only one thing from us today...
For us to hear His voice and His voice alone as He cheers us on, lifts us up, performs with us and inside of us, encourages us, places His hands on our cheeks and looks us in the eyes and declares with great tenderness, "You are wonderful! You are incredible! You are amazing! I am so honored to be on this stage with you! I love you and I promise never to leave you!

 Here's the question of the day:

Will you allow the theatre in which you perform on stage today to be filled with just the audience of One or will you allow the fickle crowd to sneak in and fill the auditorium? To which audience will you be performing for today?

If you will allow the Audience of One to be just that... an audience of One, I have good news for you...

You're going on to the next round!!

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