Thursday, October 31, 2013

Knock, Knock!

We all know what today is... Halloween!
We all know what is going to happen tonight...
The door is knocked...
The bell is rung...
I love the built up anticipation that takes place between the ringing of the doorbell and the actual opening of the door to reveal the masked "trick or treaters."
I gasp in wonder and delight, full of questions that are asked out loud, "Who are you? What are you dressed up as? Are you Batman or Ironman?, all the while pleading ignorance on today's and yesterday's Superheroes and trending costumes.
Then there is the opening of the bags, sacks, pillow cases and the healthy candy is dispersed with great delight and laughter.

My iWitness...

There is a great passage in the book of Revelation that gives us the wonderful imagery of Jesus going, "Knock, Knock" on the door of our hearts.

I love what Jesus says..."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)

Jesus knocks...
We open the door...
We invite Him in and guess what..
He will come in!!
And He eats with us, sups with us, reclines with us, hangs out with us, enjoys us.

Let me add another picture that is also very consistent with scripture.
Jesus says, "Follow me..."

We see people following Jesus.
We watch people's lives be transformed and changed.
We want part of the action in our own lives.

We see the "door of Jesus" and with excitement mixed in with a little bit of fear and trepidation we approach the door and "knock, knock."

The door swings open!
And there He is...
The Alpha and the Omega,
The Beginning and the End,
The King of Kings and Lord of Lords!"

Herein lies the twist...
He invites us in to follow Him and be with Him and to walk where He walks.
And here is the hardest part to hear in the whole exchange...

There is no wondering and questioning from Jesus about the masks I am wearing, and who am I and who am I pretending to be.
He sees right through them all.
I hear His voice gently and firmly saying,
"Hey David! Come on in! I am so glad that you are here. David, I love you so much. Come on in! By the way David... You can leave the mask at the doorstep. You don't have to wear it in my home. I know who you are."

And there I stand...
with my mask firmly fixed on my face...
My mask that has been so affixed for so many years that there are days I am not sure what "I", the real "me" even looks like anymore.

And there's that moment of anticipation and hesitation...
Do I remove the mask or do I keep it on?
Do I really want to know what I really look like without the mask?
I have worked so hard to perfect the current mask, it would seem a shame to take it off...
Is this a "trick" or a "treat"?

What masks are we wearing these days?
Are we courageous enough to take them off in the presence of the Prince of Peace?

Today... I'm taking mine off...
How about you?

Here is the good news...
Jesus accepts us with or without our masks...
He knows who we are...
And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

Jesus says, "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture." (John 10. 9)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ahead of Schedule

I don't think I have ever planned on waking up at 2:45 in the morning.
Today was no different than any other day.
I did not "plan" on waking up at 2:45 am Central Time.
Here I am...
at 2:45 am Central time!!!
And now it is 4:00 am Central Time as I stare at the blank computer screen before me.
My head aches.
My eyes itch.
And my mind is going 148 miles an hour.

How is it that most nights I go to bed and don't hardly move a muscle until the alarm goes off at 5:00 am (so I can get up and write the blog!!!)?

For whatever reason...
I am ahead of schedule!

My iWitness...

Does God ever show up ahead of schedule?

It certainly seems that the ministry of Jesus started a little bit ahead of schedule.
You see...
There was this wedding.
Then there was this reception.
There was a lot of wine.
Then all of a sudden someone had the sense to notice that the wine was running out.
Good "wedding reception hosts" don't run out of wine for their invited guests.
What would the local "Gossip Columnist" say if the biggest wedding of the weekend ran out of wine!!!??
The tension in this story is gripping!!
Potential societal embarrassment is on the horizon.
Certain ostracization (is that even a word - my computer doesn't think so... but "hey"... it's 4:00 am... who cares?) is about to take place.
The good family name will be ruined.

And then...
And then...
Mary comes to the rescue!
She approaches her son, "Hey Jesus, um, um, I don't know if you have noticed, but this party is about to come to a screeching halt and we haven't even danced to the "Hokey Pokey" yet! Please, for the love of Pete (whoever Pete is...) do something."
"Come on mom. You know my time hasn't come yet..." responds Jesus.
But you know how moms can give that "look."
"Ok mom...."
You probably know the rest of the story.
Jesus turns about 150 gallons of water into wine.
Not the "Two buck Chuck" kind of wine.
Oh no!
This is the Napa Valley Cakebread Chardonnay kind of wine.
The wedding party guests look at each other in disbelief. They raise their newly filled glasses and the next day's gossip column headline reads, "Wedding Party saves Best Wine for Last!"
Family name is saved!
Societal embarrassment avoided!
Party still going on long past the newspaper's deadline...
All because, Jesus was a little ahead of schedule.
If Jesus shows up a little ahead of schedule for you today, maybe, just maybe his whole message to you is the same message he had a couple of thousand years ago...

"Let's keep this party going!"

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

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (John 2. 1-11)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No show...

It was on the calendar.
The appointment was set for 3:25 pm yesterday.
I had prepared for my presentation earlier in the day and was ready to go.
My iPhone always gives me a 15 minute "heads up" reminder before any appointment.
I never miss scheduled appointments.
While walking to my car at 5:40 pm I suddenly realized...
"I missed my 3:25 appointment!! People were waiting for me to show up! The leader of the group was counting on me to make a presentation. I didn't even call or text or email! I just didn't show up. I was a complete no show."

My iWitness...

Have you ever forgotten an appointment?

Obviously, my answer is going to be - "Me too!"

Do you think God ever misses an appointment?

Obviously, my answer is going to be - "No!"

God always shows up.
God is always there.
God is always here.
God never misses.

Now I am starting to wonder...
Are there appointments that God has scheduled for me where I didn't show up? Have there been times when God expected me to "step up", "show up," and "man up," and then He looked around and whispered to the angels, "Dendy is a no show..."

I received an email from the leader of the group that I was supposed to make a presentation for yesterday. He asked if I could show up today at 3:25 pm.

I can guarantee you one thing today...
At 3:25 pm I will not be a "no show."

"What about the other appointments God has in store for you today David?"
I wish I could I make the same guarantee...

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

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

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Trust Game

It's a game that I have been playing for over 35 years.
I played it again yesterday as I was teaching Sunday School to six fourth and fifth graders.
It's rather simple to play.
No game pieces are needed.
No computer console attached to your TV is required.
It actually involves person to person interactive skills!!
Quite the novelty in the game market today...

Here are the very complex rules of the game...
Person B stands behind Person A.
Person A becomes stiff as a board with his or her hands folded across their chest.
Person A then falls backward.
Person B catches them.

The difficult part of the game is trusting that the person behind you will catch you before you fall flat on your back on the ground.

Yesterday, only one out of the six kids fell backwards without trying to catch themselves by moving one of their feet back to stabilize them. I thought I was pretty trustworthy. Evidently weighing close to three times the weight of the kids did not build enough confidence in my trustworthiness.

My iWitness...

Two key components are at play in the Trust Game.

1. The act of "trust" in Person A to fall backwards and be caught.
2. The "trustworthiness" of Person B to be trusted to catch Person A.

In Abraham and Sarah we find both of these components in play in regards to their faith and trust.

Listen to how the author of the book of Hebrews describes Abraham and Sarah...

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore." (Hebrews 11. 8-12)

Abraham began moving to a place where he did not know where he was going.
I have moved seven times to different parts of the country each time "not knowing where I was going."

And then there is Sarah... she conceived a son long past the time when other women were having children all because "she considered him faithful who had promised."
Do we consider "Him faithful who had promised"?

What keeps us from trusting God?

What keeps us from "moving" to the unknown places, out of our "comfort zone" to experience the fullness of God's promises and plans?
Why are we reticent to believe that that which God may be calling us to do and be just might effect the whole course of the universe "as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore?"

The Trust Game...
I know that as Person B, God is trustworthy.
But as for me...
being Person A, sometimes I just can't seem to fall backwards into His awaiting arms...

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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Nestle Toll House Morsels

One of my favorite commercials during the mid 1980's was for Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Morsels. A guy in his mid twenties is in the middle of baking Toll House Chocolate Chip cookies. He sings the greatest jingle ever written while dancing his way around the kitchen while his blond hair beeps and bops up and down, eating handfuls of semi-sweet chocolate morsels and placing the cookie sheet in the oven. The jingle goes something like this...

Please don't eat all the morsels
Please don't eat them all,

Cause if you eat all the morsels
Your cookies will be bald (Picture of a chocolate chip cookie with no morsels flashes across the screen)

Nestle Tollhouse Morsels
so chocolaty and rich
But save them for the cookies
Or your cookies will look like this (same bald cookie flashes across the screen)

Please don't eat all the morsels
You'll just have to wait
Because it's Nestle Tollhouse morsels
That make your cookies taste so great

My iWitness...

Is your Cookie of Life full of chocolate chip morsels?

Is your Cookie of Life bald?

Does it look like this?

If I was asked to describe your life in terms of a chocolate chip cookie, would I describe it as "chocolaty and rich?"

I just read a story today about a photographer named Angelo Merendino who married the love of his life, Jennifer. Five months after their marriage had just begun his bride was diagnosed with breast cancer. Somewhere along the way Angelo decided to chronicle their journey through the art of photography.
He published a book titled, "The Battle We Did Not Choose - My Wife's Fight with Breast Cancer"

This photographic diary is both striking and heartbreaking amongst a host of other emotions.
One of the quotes that comes out of this battle comes from Jennifer.
Listen up now...

"Love every morsel of the people in your life..." - Jennifer Merendino

You got morsels!
I got morsels!
They are chocolaty and rich...
Let's love every one of them...
Shall we?

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

ps - To my dear friends that are too many to name here that I have watched die from breast cancer...
And to my dear friends that are too many to name here that are in the middle of the battle, fighting with all their might to beat the shit out of this crazy disease... I have and I will continue to pray and love every morsel of your life!

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 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.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
(1 Corinthians 13)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hugging Cousins

Stephen and Cathy

His name is Stephen.
The son of Dallas and Nancy.
The grandson of Marshall and Nan.
The brother of Katie, Dallas, Patty and Dixie.
The husband of Cathy, with a "C" (who has one of the best laughs ever!).
The salutatorian of his Marietta, Georgia high school.
The graduate of Georgia Tech.
The possessor of a steel trap of a mind and memory.
The guy who loves to work in wind tunnels for a living.
The man who has hiked about every mountain in America.
The most passionate Atlanta Braves fan in San Diego, California.
The fittest 50 year old I know with about 7% body fat.
Best of all...
He's my cousin and I got to hug him today!

Stephen was born on February 28th.
Five days later in 1963 I arrived.
Legend has it that my name was supposed to be Stephen.
That name got taken 120 hours before I showed up so I got the name David.

If I had to guess, I bet Stephen and I have not spent more than 100 days together over the last 50 years. And yet...
We know each other better than most.
It's not because we are family that we are close.
Something else exists that makes it possible to be friends to such a fine and deep degree that the only word that comes to describe our bond is "mystery."

The memories and the stories that we share that make us laugh our butts off, make our respective brides look at each in wonder... wondering how did these two "boys" ever make it to age 50!

We would never be "kissing cousins", but we are "hugging cousins."

My iWitness...

His name was Jesus.
The son of Joseph and Mary
The cousin of John the Baptist.
When John the Baptist first met Jesus, he leapt in his mother's womb for joy and delight!
I wonder how many days John and Jesus spent together in their short life together.
I wonder if they took hikes together.
I wonder if they ever played ultimate Frisbee or Hacky Sack.
I wonder how many times Jesus played a practical joke on John where they laughed their butts off.
I wonder if Jesus ever had lunch with John and together they ate grasshoppers and honey.
I wonder if they ever talked about their impending and respective ministries to which they had both been called.
John had an incredible ministry. Everyone in the region came out to be baptized by him in the River Jordan. Even Jesus came out to be baptized by His cousin who was six months His senior.

When the ministry of Jesus started, I love what John had said about his own ministry at the time...

"May I decrease and may you (Jesus) increase." (John 3. 30)John's words resonate to this day every time I have the privilege of preaching.
My prayer before preaching echoes John's sentiments...
"May we decrease and may You increase..."

I just have a feeling when John baptized Jesus and after the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and after God the Father bellowed, "This is my son with whom I am pleased. Listen to him...", I just have to believe that John and Jesus, with the murky waters of the Jordan river up to their knees, their robes dripping wet, the afternoon sun beating down on their darkened skin, with the course of history in the balance, I just have to believe that John and Jesus hugged...

Hugging cousins...

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

ps - I love you Stephen!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Held for Ransom

Kris Ransom

We are all creatures of habit.
Never was this more true than at the First Presbyterian Church in Klamath Falls, Oregon where I used to serve as the pastor.
When I preached, I would look out over the congregation and lo and behold everyone who came to church sat in the same place every Sunday. In the back right was this family and in the front left another certain family occupied the same pew every Sunday.

Kris Ransom was no different.

On the Sundays that she was able to make it, Kris would take the side aisle nearest to the entry door and walk past twelve or thirteen pews, make a right hand turn and scoot over to about halfway across the pew. There she sat in the third or fourth pew from the front with the brightest smile on her face, her countenance brilliantly lighting up the front of the church. As a preacher, I always appreciated it when people would actually look at me when I preached. I loved catching people's eyes during the sermon and my eyes would twinkle at catching the sparkling eyes of Kris Ransom. The fact that she was suffering from breast cancer did not define who she was. Who she was worshiping is what defined Kris Ransom.

I found out last night that the beast of breast cancer finally won the battle over Kris' body after a 25 year struggle.

My iWitness...

I wasn't there for the end of Kris' life but I have a feeling that those sparkling eyes and brilliant smile never faded, never stopped and never ceased even though her body was getting ready to.

Here's my take on why her face and her mind and her heart would take on such a posture right up to the very end.

This is what I believe Kris envisioned was ahead of her during this last week of her life.

The day was going to come when she would shed this shell of a human body and be escorted to the peaceful place of perpetual paradise. As she would glide toward the heavenly gates she would meet Jesus face to face and they would embrace. And Jesus would lean back and say, "Before I let you in Kris we have to go through a bit of a formality. Let me open up the Book of Life and see if your name is in it."

Jesus flips through the pages of this ginormous bound book and then He stops and with His right index finger He slides his hand down the page on the right hand side of the big book and suddenly His hand stops, perfectly placed over her name. Jesus looks up at Kris and says, "Here we are. Yes! We have a spot 'held for Ransom'!"

And Kris flashed her brilliant smile...
And Kris' twinkling eyes sparkled...

And so they did...
And now...
So they do...
Forever and ever and ever...

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

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21. 1-4)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Blackest Crow...

I came across an old Southern saying a few years ago that went something like this...

"Every old crow thinks hers is the blackest..."

I experienced something like that last night at the annual fall Parent/ Teacher Conferences at the Irving Elementary School.

My iWitness...

Last night hundreds upon hundreds of parents were seen following their children around the halls and stairwells and into classrooms to meet the "Teachers" that are in charge of instructing and educating our children.

As I walked around it seemed as if every parent was so very proud of their child.
That's the way it should be!
I didn't see any mom or dad saying to other parents, "I wish my child was like yours!" or "I wish I had your child instead of mine." or "Would you please take my child off of my hands?" No trading of children took place last night. No auction was held in the gym with children being offered to the highest bidder.

Basically every mom and every dad and every grandparent were following their respective children down the halls quietly proclaiming through their body language, "My baby crow is the blackest."

Following this theme, do you think our heavenly Father thinks and believes that you are the "blackest crow in the brood"?

What does your response say about God?

What does your response say about you?

Just in case you were wondering...

I am the blackest crow in the brood!
And oh by the way...
So are you!

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

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Family secrets

Faith laid down on the couch.
Joshua sat on his mommy's lap.
Four eyes, two blue and two brown were riveted on mine.
I was about to reveal a "family secret."

With a bit of fear and trepidation I told them the story of my life up until I met their mom.
Up until 6:50 pm yesterday..
my two eight year olds had never known that I had been married right out of college.
my two eight year olds had never heard of two young ladies named Morgan and Molly-Catherine.
my two eight year olds had never known that I had gone through a divorce.
Faith and Joshua were encouraged that if they had any questions along the way to raise their hands and I would be happy to answer them.

Faith raised her hand first and timidly asked a sobering question, "Does this mean that you and Mommy are going to get a divorce?"

My iWitness...

Do you have any family secrets?

I certainly have mine.

Several were brought out into the open of Faith and Joshua's world last night.
Faith and Joshua both smiled a smile of relief when they were compassionately reassured that mommy and daddy were not getting divorced.
That was the first of many questions last night.
I have no doubt that there will be many more questions along the way...

But for now they seem excited to know that they have two new sisters that they didn't know they had until last night...

And maybe that's enough...
And then again...
Maybe it's not...

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

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

She's my daughter

She turns 27 today...
She was born in Richmond, Virginia at St. Mary's Hospital
She weighed 8 pounds and 10 ounces.
She entered the world with a perfectly shaped "cone head."
She got married on June 4, 2011.
She is married to a youth minister at the McLean Bible Church in Virginia.
She is a mom to twins - Parker (boy) and Peyton Leigh (girl) who are about 19 months old.
She has the most beautiful brown eyes.
She has a brilliant smile.
She has the thickest flowing hair.
She has a "heart for the Lord."
She and I haven't seen each other in a long time.
She and I haven't really had a conversation since April 15, 1998.
And oh...
By the way...
She's my daughter...

My iWitness...

Twenty seven years ago, I was right there when Morgan Goodson Dendy uttered her first cry.
Twenty seven years ago I helped place that little pink beanie on her cone shaped head.
Twenty seven years ago I was 23 years old and a second year seminary student.

Along the way something happened that I never thought would ever happen to someone like me.
I went through a divorce...
I left the house on April 15, 1998 and Morgan and her younger sister Molly-Catherine have chosen not to speak to me ever since.
15 years, six months and one week is a long time.
I really wonder if they will ever speak to me.

In the opening paragraph of this blog I wrote just about everything I know about Morgan, who changed her name when she turned 18 to Morgan Leigh Goodson. Her younger sister Molly-Catherine followed suit two years later changing her last name to Goodson as well.
I don't know what Morgan likes to snack on.
I don't know what Morgan's favorite TV show is.
I don't know what Morgan likes to do.
I don't know what kind of music Morgan likes to listen to.
I don't know what kind of car Morgan drives.
I don't know what the twins look like.
I don't know her husband Kyle Cox. I have never had the privilege of meeting him.
I don't know what it was like to walk Morgan down the aisle on her wedding day. I wasn't invited.
I don't know a lot of things...
But on this day...especially this day...
I do know one thing...
She's my daughter

Happy Birthday Morgan!

For all the moms and dads, sons and daughters who have broken relationships with their sons and daughters or moms and dads, I do pray and hope for reconciliation...
Wouldn't that be a glorious thing...
I guess it would be glorious...
I would hope that it would be...
I wonder if I will ever know...

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

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation."
(2 Corinthians 5. 17-19)

ps - I found the above photograph of Morgan on Google...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Full Acceptance


I received an email from a friend of mine yesterday that prompted this memory...

Many years ago, perhaps when I was in Junior High School, some family friends of ours were going through the adoption process. During one of the interviews by the adoption agency, the father, in order to assess his readiness to be a father, was asked the following hypothetical question, "If your daughter came home pregnant, what would you do?"

His answer has stuck with me all these years...
"I would love her..."

My iWitness...

Pick the situation that applies to you...

Your son or daughter comes home and says...

1. I am pregnant...
2. I am marrying a person of a different race...
3. I am dating a person of a different faith or religion...
4. I have a venereal disease...
5. I am moving out...
6. I am addicted to pornography...
7. I am an alcoholic...
8. I am depressed...
9. I am a homosexual...
10. I am a woman trapped in a man's body...
11. I have just accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior
12. I just shot someone...
13. I just lost my job...
14. I hate you...
15. I am getting divorced

My friend emailed me yesterday and shared with me that my friend's child had come home and shared one of those fifteen statements...

Do you know what my friend's response was...
Well, here... let me let you read it for yourself...
"I love you!
I will support you no matter what!
You will lose family and you will lose friends, but not here.
Not from me..."

The love of a mom and/or a dad can be unconditional and one of full acceptance.
Notice I said, "can be."
Sadly, sometimes a parent's love is not unconditional and not one of full acceptance.

Here's the good news...
Hear the good news...

Our heavenly Father's love "is" unconditional and one of full acceptance!
Whatever we are carrying around...
Whatever is weighing us down...
Whatever we need to get off of our chest...
Whatever we are running from...
The Father runs to us and holds us close with words and actions of "full acceptance."
His words are this: I love you! No matter what!

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

ps - My friend is a faithful reader of my blog.
To my dear and faithful friend,
please hear these words from me...
"I love you!
I will support you no matter what!
You will lose family and you will lose friends,
but not here.
Not from me..."

And Jesus said, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." (John 6. 37)

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

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Does God yell?

Watching Joshua play flag football yesterday was an interesting exercise in discovering when the various coaches on the field would raise their voice.

When Joshua ran a route, caught the football from his quarterback buddy Teddy and subsequently ran for a touchdown his coach was yelling like crazy in congratulatory tones. Of course, Joshua was 40 yards away.

When Joshua was lined up in the wrong place on the offensive line the coach quickly ran over, placed his hands on Joshua's shoulders, leaned over and whispered in Joshua's ear where he needed to be.

There was no need for the coach to yell when he was so close to Joshua...

My iWitness...

 Do you ever picture God getting in your face and yelling at you?

I heard this thought provoking phrase yesterday on Sirius XM Radio Channel 63 - The Message...

"God doesn't need to yell because He's so close."

Let's chew on that for today...
I know I have been...

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

"And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper." (1 Kings 19. 11-12)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Rabbi and The Reverend

Rabbi Solomon Schiff

A friend of mine's father passed away earlier in the year and this past Tuesday a ceremony was held at the cemetery where the headstone was unveiled.

Rabbi Solomon Schiff presided over the service that had its initial gathering in the cemetery chapel.
Rabbi Schiff looks to be in his late seventies, maybe in his early 80's. He looked very distinguished wearing his dark suit with his black yarmulke neatly and respectfully placed on the top of his balding head. His small spectacles gave a scholarly air about him that was quickly framed with a surprisingly sweet sense of humor.

In the service he recited from memory in Hebrew this great passage:

 מזמור לדוד יהוה רעי לא אחסר׃
2 בנאות דשא ירביצני על־מי מנחות ינהלני׃3 נפשי ישובב ינחני במעגלי־צדק למען שמו׃4 גם כי־אלך בגיא צלמות לא־אירא רע כי־אתה עמדי שבטך ומשענתך המה ינחמני׃5 תערך לפני ׀ שלחן נגד צררי דשנת בשמן ראשי כוסי רויה׃6 אך ׀ טוב וחסד ירדפוני כל־ימי חיי ושבתי בבית־יהוה לארך ימים׃

Do you recognize it?

It's the 23rd Psalm...

In English it goes like this:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

It's been a long time since I have heard the most famous Psalm recited in it original language. Hearing Rabbi Schiff's voice recite this most familiar Psalm brought this Reverend to tears...

My iWitness...

I had the privilege of spending some additional time after lunch with the Rabbi, his wife and my friend. We laughed about a lot of things. I felt privileged to sit with him and hear his wisdom gained over the years. The time came for him to leave.

We stood at the door as he place on his yarmulke. I asked him if he could recite another favorite verse of mine. Without a word, the diminutive Rabbi placed his right hand in the air, bowed his head, closed his eyes behind his steel rimmed spectacles and recited the verses in the original Hebrew language. As he finished, he opened his eyes to see me wiping mine.

He extended his arms and we embraced.
We both leaned back and looked at each other and he looked up and said,
"David... you are my brother."

We embraced one more time...
The Rabbi and The Reverend...
how bout that!

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

ps - Here is the verse that Rabbi Solomon Schiff recited for me at the door...

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
(Numbers 6. 24-26)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Angels in New Jersey

I flew to New Jersey yesterday and had pretty much set myself up for people to be brusque, impersonal and flat out rude.

Here's what took place...

My connection in the Chicago O'Hare airport was tight and I "hoofed" it to the connecting gate as fast as I could just in time to see a lot of commotion around the gate area. I approached a young woman and asked her if they had already boarded the flight to Newark, New Jersey.

She turned, smiled and said in a thick Michigan accent, "Oh no... the flight has been delayed a little bit and actually these are the people getting off the plane from the previous flight." I breathed a sigh of relief. And quickly the conversation turned into why we were traveling to New Jersey and where we were from and how she was in school at Michigan State and how they are "green" Spartans and how the University of Dubuque are "blue" Spartans and how she wants to be a physical therapist and how my wife, Julie is a physical therapist and what a great field it is to go into and how she was going to see her boyfriend and how I was going to see Honeymoon in Vegas starring Tony Danza and overall we had the most delightful conversation.

I got off the plane in Newark and my newfound physical therapist wannabe named Brittany was walking with another young lady out of the jet way. I gave Brittany my business card and said if she ever needed anymore counsel or advice on physical therapy please email me and I would put her in touch with Julie. We both smiled and waved goodbye.

We parted ways and I started walking toward "Ground Transportation" and the young lady that was walking with Brittany was now step in step with me. I looked over and said, "Hey!" and she smiled and said, "Hello..." We walked another few steps and then she stopped and I naturally stopped because she was looking at me. She stammered a bit and finally said, "Excuse me, but I have a question for you." I said, "Sure, ask away." She paused as if to get up the nerve and then asked, "Are you a movie star?"

I didn't laugh quite as hard as you just did, but I did respond with a, "No, I wish I was." She continued, "You look just like one of those movie actors but I cannot remember his name." In my mind I was thinking, well obviously you must be thinking of Brad Pitt or Hugh Grant. We both laughed about that.

I asked her where she was from and she said, "Israel."
"Israel?", I questioned.
"Yes", was her bright eyed response.
We went on to have the most delightful conversation about her growing up in Chicago, selling stocks on the New York Stock Exchange and how Hebrew is her first language. I asked her name and she said, "Liron." I returned the favor and we parted ways with big smiles on our faces.

I went to dinner that night before the show and I sat by myself.
The server came over and said, "Are you all by yourself tonight?"
I said, "Yes, I am from Iowa."
She gave me a look like, "Oh that explains that!"
With me sitting and with her standing we looked each at each other eye to eye.
I asked, "What is your name?"
She said, "Vanessa."
We had a most delightful conversation. Her first language and the language spoken in her home is Portuguese.
She told me how she worked two jobs  to save enough money to become a professional "make-up artist" for the movies. I told her of my love for the movies.
With each filling up of my water we would engage in more conversation.
The time came for me to leave. I told her I would be looking for her name on the credits.
She offered a most interesting request... "Don't forget me. My name will be on the credits one day."
I said, "Vanessa... you don't have to worry about me forgetting you."
She inquired, "Why not?"
I smiled and said, "Because Vanessa.... you are unforgettable!"
She laughed. I laughed. We both gave each other a little fist pump and we went our separate ways with smiles on our faces.

My iWitness...

Angels are considered to be "messengers of God."
I have no doubt that "angels" take many and various forms and we encounter them on a daily basis - sometimes "unaware."

What a pleasant surprise God had in store for me on Thursday in, of all places, New Jersey!
I have no doubt in my mind that I will never see Brittany, Liron and Vanessa ever again.
But for the day, these angels made my day a most memorable experience as I felt full of God's grace and hospitality.
I can only hope that I helped make theirs.

There's no telling what surprises are in store for us tomorrow...
Let's keep our eyes open and our hearts ready to engage even the strangers that cross our path.
You never know...
You might be entertaining angels unaware...

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

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (Hebrews 13. 2)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Distance

Her name is Grace...
His name is Lincoln...

Grace lives in Dubuque, Iowa...
Lincoln does not...

Grace and her husband David are getting ready to adopt Lincoln. 

What distance will Grace and David travel to adopt Lincoln?

All the way around the world!

They couldn't stand the distance...
They leave today to travel to Thailand...
To get their son...
To bring him home...

My iWitness...

What distance will "Grace" travel to adopt us into the family?

To another world and back...

We have been adopted!
"Grace" couldn't stand the distance...

We are part of the family...
Just waiting to go home...

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Happy Birthday Joshua

In February of 2005, after three and a half years of trying to get pregnant by any and every means known to humanity, Julie and I found ourselves providentially in the middle of adopting a baby who would soon become Faith Louise Dendy, born on May 14, 2005.

Four months into my new ministry as the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and with the birth of Faith three months away, Julie and I headed to Orlando, Florida for a vacation.

On February 8th, Julie and I were sitting in a Baby's R Us. We were checking out "gliders" for the soon to be nursery for Faith. I was enjoying the swinging back and forth motion of my glider and to my right Julie was enjoying more of the same.

All of a sudden Julie stopped "gliding" as did I, and she looked over at me while holding her chest, "I don't feel so well." Being the sensitive husband type that I am, I looked over and said, "Oh... I'm sorry."

Julie then blurted out these words, "I think I am pregnant!"
My response became an instant classic in our home, "By who?!!"

Sure enough, after running into Walgreen's to get a pregnancy test and going back to the timeshare and sitting there waiting for a couple of stripes to turn pink, the greatest surprise of our life was confirmed... Julie was pregnant!

Eight months and eight days later, Joshua Knox Dendy arrived!
And our lives have never been the same since!
Happy Birthday Joshua!

My iWitness...

Physically, I see a lot of Julie and her family in Joshua. He's not as tall as some of his friends. "Tallness" does not run strong in Julie's family.

Personality wise, I see a lot of me in him. He loves to antagonize his sister and mommy!!

If there is a ball involved, Joshua is playing with it. He loves football and basketball and tennis and golf and soccer and baseball. He loves to play. I see a lot of me and Julie in him.

He's as smart as a whip and yet possesses that wonderful "drives you crazy" absent minded professor syndrome... "Joshua... where are your shoes? You can't go to school without your shoes!" And then he runs back into the house laughing.

Oh my... that laugh!! He loves to laugh!! May he never stop!

Like his mom and dad he loves math and his critical thinking skills are phenomenal. His observation skills match those of his parents. He's a remarkable boy.

Just ask me and I will tell you so!

I see a lot of Julie and me in him.

More than anything I hope I see a lot of Jesus in him.

That is my hope and my prayer for my birthday boy!

Happy Birthday Joshua Knox Dendy!

I love you more than you will ever know or comprehend!
I love being your dad and your mommy loves being your mommy!

Now... let's go eat some birthday donuts!!

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

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate." (Psalm 127. 3-5)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

True Colors

I took a moment to gaze at the trees yesterday.
The variety of trees that exist in the Midwest are being stripped of their spring and summer clothes.
It is only during the fall where we see the true colors of the leaves of the trees that dot our landscapes and I must say that it is one spectacular sight that I look forward to every October.

My iWitness...

What season do we showcase our true colors?

Under what circumstances do we exhibit our best character traits?

Under what pressures do we exhibit our worst?

Say what you want about Jesus, but what amazes me about Him the most is the fact that His true colors were showcased day in and day out for 33 years without ever being "caught" doing or being anything else.

Under incredible pressure to perform sign after sign, miracle after miracle, healing after healing, all we see from Jesus is the color of compassion and care.

Under incredible and relentless scrutiny by the Pharisees, Jesus remains committed to sharing the truth with no regard for the fact that such honesty will ultimately get him killed.

Under the unbelievable stress of interrogation, torture and excruciating pain imposed upon his whole body leading up to His crucifixion, Jesus never cracks, never covers up the true colors of love, grace and mercy.

What colors are we showing these days?

May they be true...

In a world dominated by the dull drab colors of an overcast foggy day, may the brilliant true colors of our Christian character shine bright the everlasting colors of love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and compassion.

True colors...

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

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

Monday, October 14, 2013

Backbends and Cartwheels

Yesterday afternoon, the whole family, along with at least 45 other families descended upon the Westside Gymnastics gym to watch our respective daughters perform their tumbling routines.

I witnessed a number of back bends and cart wheels.

My iWitness...

A strange thought is racing through my mind at this moment.
What is the purpose of a "back bend and a cart wheel"?I am not sure I know the answer to that, but let's press on to another subject, shall we?
What I was most impressed with is the "flexibility" of these young girls.

To have the ability to stand straight up and bend over backwards and have your hands be able to touch the ground, without falling on your head and then propel your feet back over your head in such a way so as to find yourself back in a standing position is a fascinating feat.

When was the last time you performed a perfect cartwheel?
The ability to position your body to look like the spokes on a cart and make one full rotation with all four limbs in perfect alignment is something I have never been able to perfect (But I am working on it!!)

To achieve the backbend and the cartwheel takes great skill but also phenomenal flexibility?

I am reminded of a beatitude that never made it into the scriptures that in my humble opinion should have been etched in stone long ago...

"Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break."

Are you flexible enough to bend over backwards for someone?
Can you just roll with it like a cartwheel?

What word describes you best?
Flexible or Rigid?
Fluid or Static?
Progressing or Stationary?

Perhaps we could begin on this Monday to ask the Lord to stretch our minds and our hearts in such a way so as to be flexible enough to reach out and experience the joy of God's ways and wonders in a new way...

Who knows?
By the end of the day we might just be doing backbends and cartwheels!

And maybe we will discover that that's the purpose of a backbend and a cartwheel after all...

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

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10. 27)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Two year olds...

Listen to the opening paragraph in this USA Today newspaper article on Friday, October 11th:

A 2-year-old son of Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson died on Friday in a Sioux Falls, S.D., hospital, the victim of alleged abuse by a man who was dating the boy's mother, police confirmed.

I cannot get this story out of my mind. This little two year old boy was beaten by a 27 year old man and died due to the injuries that the little boy sustained to his head.

My iWitness...

My mind goes in a lot of different directions on this sad, horrific and tragic story.
Here is one place that I go...

What is it about 2 year olds that have such a tragic and sad tale in the Biblical history due to two particular men in charge of their territories?

Pharaoh became fearful that the Hebrews were becoming too powerful and too populated in Egypt. He laid down an edict that all Hebrew baby boys under two years of age be killed.
Moses was born under this edict and the Lord saved him.

King Herod heard from the "Wise Men" that a savior was to be born near Jerusalem in the town of Bethlehem. Herod, feeling very insecure laid down the edict that all the baby boys under two years of age be killed in Bethlehem.
Jesus was born under this edict and the Lord saved him.

My heart hurts and aches for these families that lost children, lost their sons due to the edicts of someone in authority.

My heart hurts and aches for the family of this little boy who lost his life due to the temper of the man who was watching him at the time.

Here is what that little two year old's father, Adrian Peterson had to say...

 "We mourn and grieve but heaven had the baddest welcoming party for my son. That knowledge gives me peace. I'm still hurt and feel the pain of life, but I'm able to function because of the peace and joy of knowing my loved ones are in a much better place."

I agree with everything that Adrian states and believes.

But, my heart still hurts and aches...

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

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.
15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”
(Exodus 1. 8-22)

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Last night at the Heritage Center at the University of Dubuque, nationally acclaimed artist Jim Witter and his band took us back to the 70's with a show dedicated to the music of Elton John and Billy Joel while casting visuals on the big screen of images, facts and figures from the 1970's.

Jim, being a Canadian told us of an event that took place while he was at a high school dance after he had finally gathered the courage to ask the prettiest girl in the school to dance. She agreed and they were doing that awkward "his hands on her hips, her hands on his shoulders" slow circle dance. The song was about halfway through the first verse and the DJ shouted out, "Snowball." Jim started laughing hysterically in the telling of the story while the audience failed to make a sound. Evidently in Canada, when the DJ shouts out, "Snowball" everyone on the dance floor has to change partners. Jim retold the story and when he got to the point of the DJ shouting out, "Snowball" the audience groaned in great pain as did Jim, remembering the humiliating walk back to his friends who were standing up against the wall.

My iWitness...

Jim's story got me thinking about my own dedication to my partner, my savior - Jesus.

How often in this dance of life have I shouted out, "Snowball" and stepped away from my partner Jesus only to pursue:
the way of the crowd
the lustful desires of my body
the intellectual ascent of my mind
the pride of my self centered ego
the business practices of the world
and a host of other attractive, sexy partners...

Why is it so hard for us to stick with Jesus?
Jesus constantly and consistently sticks with us through thick and thin and promises never to leave us or forsake us no matter how many times we shout out, "Snowball!"

I want to promise before all of you that no more "snowballs" will exist in my dance of life with Jesus!!

However, I was taught early on in life to never make promises I cannot keep...

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

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

Friday, October 11, 2013

Show me the money...

Last night I attended a gathering made up of people who have included the University of Dubuque in their estate plans. Collectively they are called The Heritage Society. Julie and I became members last night. As the emcee of the event, I inducted myself...

My iWitness...

Jesus offers these salient, poignant words to us:

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6. 21)

I offer these salient, poignant words to you today...

"Show me the money and I will show you where your heart is..."

Before you show me your money, let me show you mine.

Our number one expense in our budget is our mortgage.
Yes, my heart is in my home. I invest a lot of my time and energy to ensure that our family has a place of safety, shelter, security and love.

Our number two expense in our budget is savings.
Yes, my heart is in my future, saving money for a rainy day and saving money to ensure a retirement where I will be able to pursue other endeavors in my "sunset" years.

Our number three expense in our budget is charitable giving.
Yes, my heart is in the mission and vision of the Church, World Vision (sponsoring two children in Africa), a Missionary Family and the University of Dubuque.

I find this to be an important lesson for my children.
The typical attitude amongst most people is that the totality of their estate will go to their children or heirs.

Please think again if this is your thought pattern.
When you die your estate will go to three different entities...
1. Your heirs
2. Your charities
3. The United States Government

If you have no charities, more money will go to the government.
If you have no heirs, more money will go to the government.
If you have no charities and no heirs, all your money will go to the government.
If you have done proper planning, more money will go to your heirs and more money will go to your charities and less money will go the government.

I want my children to know that there are Visions, and Missions that are important to me. Yes, my children are important to me but perhaps the most important lesson I can teach them is that their mom and dad have a passion for ministries that have a positive impact on the life of others. And perhaps in doing so, Faith and Joshua will ultimately turn from looking inward and instead look outward, outside of themselves to make a positive and lasting impact on their world.

Show me the money and I will show you where your heart is...

So...where is your money?

Show me...

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

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Abundant Life

Nine years ago today I preached my first sermon at the First Presbyterian Church in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Since the date was 10/10 I decided to preach on John 10. 10... (Sorry... that's just how my mind works...):

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10. 10)

My iWitness...

When someone talks about Christianity and the Church does the word "abundant" and "living life abundantly" immediately come to mind?

Unfortunately the "brand" that the Christian faith carries in America today is quite negative.

Christians are labeled more for what they stand against than what they live for.

Christians are anti-abortion, anti-homosexual, too political, too sheltered (anti-intellectual, boring, out of touch with reality), insincere and hypocritical (Christians live lives that don't match their stated beliefs).

This is the way a lot of people view Christians in America.
We as Christians can become defensive as we want to be, but some very solid research supports the above sentiment.

Somehow in our hopes and desires to live the abundant life that Jesus came to offer we have allowed "The Thief" to steal, kill and destroy this positive life of abundance and substitute it for a life of put downs, anger, rage, narrow-mindedness, judgmentalism and self-righteous moral superiority.

Here's the question of the day...

I know what you are against...
What are you for?
And that which you are "for"... is it leading to a "satisfying, joyful, loving, life giving abundant life"?

I hope so...

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

ps - Thank you to the great people of the First Presbyterian Church for allowing me to live an abundant life while I served as your pastor...