Saturday, November 30, 2013

What does the Book say?

Eight of us went over to a nearby tourist town in Illinois yesterday. We planned our departing time such that we would be able to shop, grab something to eat and then hit the Market House for the big Christmas type attraction.

We arrived around 5:00 pm in order to get in line to see Santa at 5:30. We were the fourth family in line. Santa arrived at 5:10. By 5:15 Santa's lap had been graced by Faith and Joshua along with a list of Christmas day wishes.

Julie pulled out the "community book" to share with us what was in store for us once we set foot outside the Market House. "Christmas Carolers" singing by an open fire with chestnuts being roasted along with some other special holiday spirited festivities."

We stepped outside with bated breath awaiting more spine tingling festivities on the heels of snapping pictures of a bespectacled, emaciated Santa Claus whose "Ho, ho, ho" sounded more like "Eh, eh, eh."

Our senses were not immediately struck with the aroma of an open fire. Our ears heard no carolers. I tasted no chestnuts having just been roasted. Our spines did not tingle. Julie read aloud the description to someone in charge and their response was classic ambiguity..."Uh... I don't think that's happening tonight...sorry."

But the book said it was going to happen!

My iWitness...

As you think about "The Book", commonly referred to as The Bible, what does the Book say?

What does the Book say about life?
What does the Book say about death?
What does the Book say about money?
What does the Book say about pride?
What does the Book say about greed?
What does the Book say about God?

Over the many years I have been ordained as a Pastor in the Presbyterian Church I have spent more time telling people what the Book doesn't say than what it does say.

Let me offer this challenge.

Answer the questions of life for yourself after doing some exploring...
Don't take my word for it.
Don't take someone else's word for it.
Read it for yourself and then answer the following question...

What does the Book say?

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

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

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

It's the Friday after Thanksgiving and as of this writing some stores have been open for over 15 hours with their "Black Friday" specials offering the deal of a lifetime.
Call me old school, curmudgeonly, whacked out or simply out of touch, but when I hear the phrase "Black Friday" my thoughts turn to a different kind of black Friday.

My iWitness...

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour...(Matthew 27. 45)

Of course I am referring to the Friday afternoon that Jesus was crucified. Today it is known as Good Friday.

That three hours of darkness ushered in the beginning of the deal of an eternal lifetime.
Jesus' death on the cross was the one acceptable perfect sacrifice offered to God on behalf of all of us.

For all of the sin in the world justice had to be meted out and a price had to be paid to wipe the slate clean. Jesus took on the debt with His life and the balance sheet evened out for eternity.

With the resurrection of Jesus, death lost its grip on us and we now have the great promise of "life" after death.

And it all began on Black Friday...
Jesus offering the deal of a lifetime...
Life with him...
Life with faith...
Life in a community of believers
Life victorious...
Life eternal...

On this day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, I now turn my eyes toward Bethlehem, to follow a star, to be one of the "wise who still seek him" and to discover the mystery and the majesty of the newborn king.

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

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The ABC's of Thanksgiving

My phone and my Facebook page have been lit up with messages from friends and family today offering thanks for friendship, family and a host of other things.

My iWitness...

I decided to offer an ABC list of things of which I am thankful. Some are serious... Some... not so much!

A - Acceptance for people for who they are and not for who they should be...

B - Broken lives that get put back together by God's hand creating a one of a kind mosaic that reflects God's grace.

C - Cornucopias that display the bountiful harvest from our land.

D - David Dendy (shameless plug!)

E - Everlasting love of God

F - Faith, Faith (my daughter), Family, Friends, Frisbees, French fries, FPC and the 366 "Fear nots" that are found in scripture.

G - Green Bay Packers

H - Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah

I - Ice Cream (Cookies and Cream) and "In N Out Burgers"

J - Jesus and Julie Dendy - together they make an awesome couple that I get to hang out with for the rest of my life.

K - Krispy Kreme donuts

L - Laughter... any kind

M - Mountain Dew and peanuts - The most awesome snack in the world

N - Napa Valley and Nestle Tollhouse Morsels and Novak Djokovic

O - Osculating - Who doesn't love to osculate!!

P - Prayer, Prayerful People and the Preaching of God's Word

Q - Questions that have no immediate answer, but in due time God will bring the answer to light or maybe He won't.

R - Rest, Reflection and Relaxation

S - Sex

T - Tennis

U - Ubiquity of God

V - Valleys of Life where most of our growth takes place, even though it is sometimes the most painful place to be.

W - Walks in the mountains and on the beaches

X - Xylocarps

Y - You!

Z - Zany life with God

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

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 118. 1)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


The issue of "trust" became the topic of conversation yesterday around the office.

What is your history of "trust"?
What type of "culture of trust" did you grow up in?
Do you find it easy to trust or difficult to trust?

Do people have to "earn" your trust?
Or do you offer people your trust, 100% right from the start?

If I have to earn your trust, how much trust do I have to earn before I have gained your trust?
Once I have earned your trust can I lose it?
Once I have lost your trust what do I have to do to regain it?
Once I have regained your trust can I lose it all over again?
How do I know that I have your trust?
What is the threshold in your own mind that I have to cross in order to have your trust?
At what point do you trust me implicitly?
At what point will you never trust me...ever?

My iWitness...

I feel like the real oddball on this issue of "trust."

From what I hear around me, I do believe that I must have this whole issue of "trust" bassackwards.

Here's my take...

I trust you.

I trust you 100%.

But you say, "We have never met." And I say, "So..."
But you say, "We hardly know each other." And I say, "What's your point?"
But you say, "I am not a trustworthy person." And I say, "Says you.."

My trust is not yours to gain or earn or really even lose.

My trust is mine to offer...
Free of charge...
100% guaranteed...
You have it!

Will people burn me? Yes!
Will I get hurt? You bet!
Will people take advantage of me? Absolutely!

Yet, still it is my choice to live life trusting completely versus having to take the inordinate amount of time and the judgmental, draining emotional energy to evaluate, reevaluate and evaluate once again how much trust you have earned at any given time and place in my life.

I trust you.

I also trust God.
I trust God 100%.
I trust God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit with my life.

And just for the record in case anyone wants to know...
God has never burned me, hurt me or taken advantage of me
And He never will...

I trust...
How about you?

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

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9. 10)

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
(Psalm 20. 7)

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21. 5)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Yesterday at 9:45 am my dear and very close friend and fellow tennis playing partner Howard Newman walked up to the gates of heaven and received a thunderous applause and ovation as he was tenderly and ferociously received into the waiting and loving arms of Jesus.

My iWitness...

Many times "cancer" wins the battle...
But faith in Christ always wins the war.
Howard won the war yesterday.

As his son Greg and I were texting back and forth in the last days.
Greg offered an analogy that a friend had made... "It is much like a caterpillar metamorphosis into a butterfly. Painful but fruitful in the end. Dad is giving birth to his spirit."

Upon reading that text the word "butterfly" stood out and prompted this memory.
When I was in college one of my professors told us about several words in our English language that were composed of two words that somehow over the years the two words had been "flip flopped."

She gave a few examples of this strange phenomenon, but the only word that I remember is "Butterfly."

When she mentioned the word I thought to myself, "Flip Flopping those two words would give us 'Fly Butter.'" As if reading my mind the professor said, "Many of you may be thinking that 'Fly Butter' makes no sense." I nodded my head in enthusiastic agreement. She further explained, "Think of it this way...'Flutter By.'"

My mind exploded in the "aha ness" of the moment!

In a very real way we "flutter by" on this earth.
With each flap of our delicate wings...
With each soft touching down on a flower to replenish or to rest...
With each gentle "take off"...
With each flight, dancing to the music of the sky...
We make a difference in this world.
Howard made a huge impact on my life as he "fluttered by".
May we return the favor to those we love, adore and cherish...

I love you Howard...
Thank you for loving me!

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

"And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8. 10)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Kissing your sister...

When the Green Bay Packers play, everything in our household comes to a standstill.
My wife Julie is the consummate Cheese Head, Packer Backer and all things that have to do with the greatest football franchise in professional sports.

Yesterday the heated rivalry between the Green Bay Packers and their division, geographical nemesis Minnesota Vikings was hammered out on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field with temperatures flirting in the high teens.

For sixty minutes then men in green and yellow battled the purple people eaters. At the end of regulation the score was tied. The fifteen minute overtime began. Fifteen minutes later the game ended with the score tied. Game over. Tied 26 to 26...

I looked at my son Joshua and said, "That's about as satisfying as kissing your sister!"

He gave me the most puzzled and confusing of looks.

My iWitness...

Who knows where I first heard that phrase!
However, it did pretty much sum up the feeling of the moment.

As we take a look back on our collective life, how is it feeling at the moment?
Some wins...
Some losses...
Any ties?

Believe me when I say, I have nothing against my sisters...

But, at the end of the day, I don't want to look back on my life and feel like I just kissed my sister...

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

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9. 24-27)

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Within a span of one hour today at church I ran into three different people who were shedding tears.
Tears over moving away from Dubuque to a place where they know not one person...
Tears over a marriage that was once on the rocks but is now descending into the depths of divorce.
Tears over something of which I know not. Just two friends comforting each other with incredible sympathy, empathy, tenderness and tears.
We live lives that are broken in one way or the other.

My iWitness...

Of all the brokenness in the world there is one thing that is never broken...

The promises of God...

One particular promise stands out as I think about these three hurting folks from today...

"...fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
    I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41. 10, 13)

In many respects I felt rather helpless today at church...
I felt better knowing that God would be true to His word.
No matter how broken our lives...
No matter how broken our relationships...
No matter how broken our word..
No matter how broken our world...
The promises of God that hold us close will never, never be broken...

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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

One on One

Today, my daughter Faith was invited to a birthday party for the twins who live around the corner. I walked Faith over to their house. Their parents were going to take several screaming eight year olds 90 minutes away to go to "Chuck E. Cheese" pizza parlor/entertainment center. Please pray for them... (the parents!) As I walked back home, I thought to myself, "It's Saturday, which means College Football, which means this will be great "one on one" time with my Buddy 'Ol Pal Joshua!"

I walked through the garage and got ready to open the door to the house when it all of a sudden swung open and there was Joshua. I said, "Hey Buddy 'Ol Pal!" He said, "I am going to Luke's house." And off he ran through the garage and on to Luke's house.

I'm a big boy... but I've got to tell you...
This daddy was a little disappointed that I was going to have to wait for my "one on one" time.

My iWitness...

I wonder how many times God looks forward to "one on one" time with us only to find us opening the door and running right past him to pursue other interests.

Excuse me, but I just heard the garage door open...gotta go...
I think it's Joshua!
Time for some "One on One"!!!

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

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3. 17)

Friday, November 22, 2013


verb (used with object), as·sas·si·nat·ed, as·sas·si·nat·ing.
1. to kill suddenly or secretively, especially a politically prominent person; murder premeditatedly and treacherously.
2. to destroy or harm treacherously and viciously:
There have been some historic 50 year anniversaries this year...

March 5 - I was born at the St. Lucie County hospital in Fort Pierce, Florida. The world has never been the same since!!
August 28 - The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream Speech" in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial on the mall in Washington, DC.
November 22 - Riding in a 1961 Lincoln Continental Limousine next to his adoring wife Jackie, the 35th President of the United States of America, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
My iWitness...
I just noticed that the word "Assassinate" has the word "ass" in it... twice!
I am guessing that if you are an assassin and you assassinate someone then that makes you an "ass" twice over.
Have you ever assassinated someone?
I have...
I have assassinated someone's reputation...
I have assassinated someone's character...
I have assassinated someone's good name...
I found it tempting to assassinate someone the other day. A certain person was offering accolades about someone whom I knew things about to the contrary. Praise the Lord I kept my mouth shut. There was no reason to make myself an ass twice over on that day.
Have you ever been assassinated?
I have...
I laugh about it now but when I got divorced, my good "single" friend Jeff opened his home to me for a couple of months. The news spread quickly and the word on the street was that the reason I got divorced and moved in with Jeff was because I was a homosexual.
I could go on and on about the many times I have taken a "hit" and I am sure you can too.
Was the character of Jesus ever assassinated?
You betcha! (That's a good Midwestern phrase!)
Did Jesus ever assassinate anyone?
Did he have plenty of opportunities?
You betcha!
Was the death of Jesus on the cross an assassination?
By the very definition an assassination takes place "suddenly and secretively". Neither of which was the case for our suffering Savior.
He knew all along that people would assassinate his character and good name throughout his ministry.
He knew all along that his death by crucifixion was on the horizon. In fact, he walked right toward it.
Never once did He open his mouth...

"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth." (Isaiah 53. 7)
As tempting as it might be to strike back, to exact revenge, to even the score, let's pray today that we would rather be the victim of an assassination over being the one to proverbially pull the trigger and assassinate someone else.
I am tired of making an ass of myself twice over.
How about you?
And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

10 Things Most People Don't Know About Me...

I have noticed on Facebook lately that the trend these days is for someone to assign you a number and then you are to post that many things about yourself that most people don't know about you.

I have thought about writing nine of the most outrageous things I can think of and then for number 10 writing, "I am a pathological liar."

Which leads me to ask the question, "If someone says that they are a pathological liar", do we believe them?

It is curious to me that people take the challenge so easily and quickly and then just lay out 10 or 7 or 14 things that most people don't know about themselves. It has been fascinating to read the revelations. For some of the posts it has been like watching a train wreck. I know I should stop reading but I just can't!

Most of the items people list are events that have happened to them in the past.
"I was the fastest runner in 5th grade."
"I was the lead singer in a musical in high school."
"I tripped and fell on the floor when I was two."

I think you get the point.

I find it easy to remember and record for my Facebook friends things that have happened to me in the past that most people would not know about.

But what about laying out there for everyone to see and read the ten things that you hope for, dream about, are conflicted about and downright convinced will never happen?

I have a feeling that if I laid out there 10 of those type of things, there would be some feedback that would be hard to take.

My iWitness...

Most of you know that it is really hard for me to back away from a challenge!

So... Here are the 10 Things Most People Don't Know About Me...

1. Everyone who knows about my two older daughters who have not talked to me since 1998 always say the same thing, "One day David, they will come around." I really don't believe that day will ever come.

2. I wonder, pray, struggle, contemplate every day if I am doing the work that I am called by God to do.

3. Having been out of the church in a professional role for the last 20 months has made me realize just how many churches "don't get it" when it comes to meeting the real needs of the people who walk by their doors every day.

4. I long to be popular, famous and impactful and in the same breath long to be humble, behind the scenes and just play my part. The dichotomy of these longings stretch me to the point of snapping.

5. "Holier than thou" and self righteous Christian people raise my blood pressure quicker and faster than any other group of people I have ever run into.

6. I dream about six pack abs and a totally buffed and chiseled physique for myself.

7. Having so many friends and church members die of cancer, I cannot help but wonder if I am a ticking time bomb of cancer waiting to go off at any moment.

8. My desire to be holy and my outright actions not to be holy wrestle daily like two MMA fighters in an octagonal cage fight.

9. I wonder if I will ever be "good enough", "do enough" or "be enough" for my family and other people.

10. I love God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit with a fury and with a faith that always believes that everything will work out. God's love for us is far greater than any of us, myself included can even begin to imagine.

11. A bonus... Most people know that my favorite quote is.. "Jesus comes to us and says, 'I have a word for you... I dare you to trust that I love you just the way you are and not as you should be, because you are never going to be as you should be." (Brennan Manning)

This list could go on and on...
Of course, now I cannot help but wonder...
Will people still love me, care for me, support me and even understand me now that they know the "10 Things Most People Don't Know About Me..."

The good news is that God does know these things...
And the better news is found in this song,
"Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so..."

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

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you...
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!
(Psalm 139. 1-18, 23-24)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

She said, "Yes!"

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, Louisiana

On this day, November 20th, thirteen years ago at Jackson Square in front of the St. Louis Cathedral Church in New Orleans, Louisiana, with a yellow cotton cable sweater and a black leather jacket on in a drizzle of rain, I got down on one knee, produced a ring that had been in my pocket all day and night and asked Julie Ann Keller, "Will you be my wife for life?"

She said, "Yes!"

My iWitness...

It was an answer that has changed both of our courses of life forever.

I have written before about the power of saying, "No!" to the many things that wish to have command of our attention, emotions, life and will.

Today, let me take an opposite view.
Can I do that?
The answer would be a resounding "Yes!"
I feel so empowered now!

Today I am thinking of the many people that I have approached and asked them to do something that they had never done before...

Speak in front of a large group...
Share their pain from past abuse...
Share the joy of the healing touch of God...
Join a "Men's Bible Study Group"...
Come to church for the very first time...
Climb a 14,000 foot mountain...
Work with me in a newly formed ministry...
Come along side me for a ride that I could only guarantee would be very bumpy...
Run a marathon...
Believe that God had made them for a special purpose...
Forgive someone who was at the time seemingly unforgiveable...
Pray that Jesus would enter their heart and life...
At the baptismal font asking adults and children alike if they believe in Jesus...
Trust that God loves them for who they are and not for they should be because they are never going to be as they should be...

The list could go on and on...
All of these people had one thing in common...

They all said, "Yes!" and by saying "Yes!" the course of their life was forever changed.

I am wondering today if there is anything that is nagging at your very being that needs to be met with an answer of "Yes!" or "No!"

Either way, your answer will forever change the course of your life.

For today, let me encourage you to say, "Yes!"

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

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’...(Matthew 5. 37)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Words of Gettysburg 150 Years Later

Picture the scene...
Gettysburg Cemetery, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863... 150 years ago today!
The keynote speaker of the day has just delivered a two hour speech. Two hours!
Next up to the podium with the black stovepipe hat atop his head, stands the tall, humble 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln.
In his hands, written on a borrowed sheet of paper are 271 words...

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Most of us know the beginning...
Most of us know the end...
Most of us know not the middle...
It was a powerful and inspirational speech that Lincoln thought no one would remember.
But... we do...
One hundred and fifty years later...

My iWitness...

Picture the scene...
Huge crowds followed him everywhere...
Jesus goes up on a mountain, sits down and begins to preach...

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5. 3-12)

I have provided the first 138 words of Jesus' sermon. The sermon goes on from Matthew 5 through Matthew 7.

I wonder if Jesus thought anyone would remember, much less record the words He said that day.
But...we do...
Two thousand years later...

I am wondering what words you and I will say today.
They're just words...
We might, like Lincoln and maybe even Jesus, think that no one will remember or record our words.
Let's think that through again.
The words of Lincoln have inspired a nation for 150 years.
The words of Jesus have inspired the world for 2,000 years.
The words you and I offer today just might inspire someone for ten minutes, or ten years or maybe even a lifetime.

The words we say...
Are more than just words...

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

Monday, November 18, 2013


Last night I was hanging out with my addictive friend "Facebook" and a posting from one of my smartest college classmates Lauren popped up. I read it with great interest because it contained a word that I had never heard of before. I wouldn't have made it through college without Lauren. She was responsible for typing all of my college term papers and for cutting my hair during my four years at Davidson College. (Just to be clear.. I wrote the papers, Lauren typed them... back when we used to have these contraptions called typewriters.) On her Facebook page Lauren mentioned her daughter was freaking out because the band "One Direction" had a new album coming out and that some of the songs had been "leaked." It was the last sentence of her post that caught my attention... "Let the fangirling begin."

Fangirling? I had never hear of such a word. I was quick to jump on and to the best of their knowledge no such word exists in the English language. I put my "cool, suave and debonair" factor aside and just went straight to the source. I wrote on Lauren's Facebook page, please enlighten me to the meaning of the word "fangirling."

Within minutes I had my answer...

Urban Dictionary says:
v. 1. the reaction a fangirl has to any mention or sighting of the object of her "affection". These reactions include shortness of breath, fainting, highpitched noises, shaking, fierce head shaking as if in the midst of a seizure, endless blog posts, etc.

2. a gathering of two or more fangirls in which they proceed to waste endless amounts of time ogling, discussing/arguing, stalking, etc. the object of their "affection"

Who knew?

My iWitness...

Well... most of you know me by now... this got me thinking about Jesus.

Did Jesus have fans that were girls?

I'm thinking Martha was a "fangirl."

Jesus knocks on the door of the home of the sisters, Mary and Martha.
Martha looks through the peephole and the fangirling begins!
"Oh Mary! Oh Mary! OMG Mary! It's Jesus! He's at the front door! What do I do?... just look at me, I am a wreck, quick get the water on the fire, I have to make him his favorite kosher meal,... hold on a minute... you get the door... I will text Lazarus... "JC @ frnt dor"... Get him to sit down in the front room... I have to make dinner... I have got to tweet this... "#Jesusnmyhouse"... get me a paper bag so I can stop hyperventilating... I have to fix my hair so I can "snapchat" us...Wait until I post this on Facebook my friends are going to go crazy! I have the hottest looking chiseled six pack abs carpenter turned rabbi turned savior in my house! Woohoo!!" My blog is going to get a record number of page views today!!" "@marthastewart...I was Martha first!"

And then the "Fangirling" takes a nasty turn with an obsessive Martha chastising Mary to get her rear in gear and get in the kitchen and help out as Mary just sits there at the feet of Jesus.

Jesus stops all the fangirling in a heartbeat with two sentences..."Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10. 41-21)
I can't tell you how many "Marthas" I have run into who defend Martha by saying, "Well someone had to get the work done."

Listen again to the words of Jesus... "Martha you are anxious and troubled about many things..."

There is nothing wrong with being a "fangirl"!

However, when being a fangirl or a fanboy leads to "anxiety" and "troubledness" then we have a problem.
That's the problem with fangirling or fanboying in the Christian world...
It treats the object of our affection, Jesus as just that... An object!
Jesus is not an object.
He is the subject of our service, our servitude and our sensibilities.
He is our Savior.
And if I can keep that in mind then...

Let the fangirling begin!

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

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Light

It's been quite difficult to sleep during the first two nights of my recovery from surgery. Last night was no different. I woke up at 2:30 this morning to a very dark house. In fact the house was completely dark. The normal night lights that help navigate my walk down our long hallway were silently stuck in their sockets. The digital green neon lights that tell me the time on the microwave and oven were darkened. My dog Lily needed to go out and as I approached the front door I noticed that the porch lights were out as well. Finally, my mind caught up to the reality around me... there was a power outage!

I reached for the front door handle to let Lily out and the very nanosecond that my hand touched the door knob all the lights came on all at once. The fax machine burped out a high pitched beep and then went through its ritualistic set up process. The microwave and oven shouted out a series of beeps and blips as they were declaring that power was now running through their veins. The front porch lights lit up my otherwise darkened view of the world. Needless to say, this phenomenon scared and startled the daylights out of me. (Or maybe I should say, "Scared the daylights into me!")

My iWitness...

Upon further reflection, it really came as no surprise to me that I was able to navigate my way through the house with great ease. I know the house. I know every nook and cranny and even with the lights turned out I had no problem making it to the front door without panic or anxiety.

In Christian circles people often wonder how "you came to know Jesus."
The scriptures paint a beautiful picture of Jesus standing at the door of our heart and knocking, inviting us to open the door and when the time comes for us to open the door He will come in and sup with us and live with us. It's a beautiful image.

For some people their "conversion" experience borders on my experience that took place at 2:30 am. As soon as they touched the door handle to let Jesus in, all the lights come on and their darkened world was now full of the bright light of Jesus. Their life of "before the light of Jesus and after the light of Jesus" is stark and the contrast is unmistakable.

I have run into a more than a number of people who declare with absolute certainty and conviction that if "how you came to know Jesus" does not follow this exact model then you really aren't a real Christian. People who hold such a narrow view of how God can reveal himself to us should be slapped several times upside the head!

For some people, their "conversion" experience took on a more gradual process. There are some of us who grew up with Jesus already in the house with the house already lit up. In these cases sometimes it is kind of like Jesus knocking on our bedroom door rather than the front door of the house. Sure... the whole house is alight with the love and presence of Jesus but I need to claim His presence in my own personal space, which as a kid was your bedroom.

The latter approach was how I came to know Jesus. I can't give you a certain date and time that Jesus became real to me. He was always around. For others, they know exactly when they came to know Jesus and their life has literally never been the same.

It would be interesting to take a poll and find out which camp you fall into. I must say that I am sure that there are a hundred and three other ways to come to know Jesus as well. These two camps I have mentioned just seem to be the most prevalent.

Either way, what is important is that we have the Light of Jesus and that makes all the difference in the world. It's certainly made all the difference in my world.

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

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8. 12)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tears of Compassion

My surgical procedure yesterday went smoothly and I was home by 10:30 am.
I lifted my shirt to see my wound (bandages) and much to my horror I discovered they had shaved my whole tummy!! I am not looking forward to experiencing "tummy stubble" in the weeks ahead.

At dinner last night I sat next to Joshua while feeling uncomfortable and sore. I ate my dinner rather quickly. I noticed Joshua had cleaned his plate rather quickly except for his rice. All of a sudden Joshua's hands covered his eyes and he started to cry.

My first response was the same as Julie's...."Joshua... you have eaten rice before. Now, please eat your rice." Joshua's hands over his eyes were like a vice grip, stronger than crazy glue. I was tempted to use the "standard parent frustrated at the dinner table strategy", listing all the children that were starving in Third World countries, but the better of me stepped forward and I simply demanded... "Joshua, eat your rice!"

His soft, tearful response still echoes in my heart...
"It's not the rice..."

Julie and I were in sync..."Then what is it buddy?"

"Daddy having makes me cry..."

My whole body along with my demanding demeanor collapsed. I was hurting. And because I was hurting, Joshua was hurting and down his eight year old cheeks ran sweet salty tears of compassion.

My iWitness...

I will never forget the debate that took place one day during my seminary training to be a pastor of a church. The professor was very convicted with the strongest of arguments that God has no emotions. One of the rationales was "once you show emotion the other person has power over you. No one has power over God. Therefore, God shows no emotion."

Had I been bold enough back then I think I would have stood up and declared, "If that's the case, then I want no part of your unemotional God!"

Seriously, who wants any part of that?
That's one of the things I love about Jesus the most... His compassion! His ability to feel in totality the pain or the joy or the numbness that we are experiencing.

One particular showing of compassion took place when Jesus is told of his friend Lazarus having died. Jesus makes his way to the tomb. By the time Jesus arrives Lazarus has been dead for four days. His unhurried approach ticks off the locals as well as the family. He looks beyond the personal attacks and stops long enough to see through their anger to experience firsthand the grief and pain of his friend's family.

The apostle John's description of the scene is short and sweet, "Jesus wept." (John 13. 35)
Jesus didn't just shed a tear or two...
Jesus didn't just sniffle...
Jesus didn't just pull out his handkerchief and blow his nose...

This is what Jesus did...

Jesus wept...

His stomach convulsed uncontrollably...
he dropped to his knees...
his nose ran profusely...
his voice was unrecognizable as he wailed...
his unscarred hands covered his face...
his beard caught the deluge...
his body became one with the dirt of the earth...
Jesus wept tears of compassion...

And just in case anyone wants to know...

Yes! That's the kind of Savior I want to be a part of...
Because you see...
If He weeps tears for Lazarus, I bet He weeps tears of compassion for me.
And for you too...

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

Numb the Pain

I am having surgery today.
In about two hours I will be put under with general anesthesia.
The anesthesia allows me to "sleep" through the surgery so that the surgeon can cut me "wide open" and I will lie there unaffected.
Anesthesia numbs the pain.

My iWitness...

When we face painful situations what do we do or use to "numb the pain?"

Or do we use anything at all to "numb the pain?"

I have known people who have used alcohol to numb the pain.
I have known people who have used drugs, legal and otherwise to numb the pain.
I have known people who have used exercise to numb the pain.
I have known people who have used excessive counseling to numb the pain.
I have known people who have used the church to numb the pain.
I have known people who have used Facebook to numb the pain.
This list could go on and on.
I think you get the point.

What about me?
What about you?
There are lots of things we can do and use to "numb the pain."

God is the only One who can take the pain away.
We are so quick to want to turn and run away from pain that sometimes God can't use the pain or the hurt to heal us because we numb ourselves so quickly with other substitutes. The ultimate result being, the origin of the pain is never healed and we, in a very real way "sleep" through life.

Feeling some pain today?
Let's not be so quick to "numb the pain" with self manufactured anesthesia.
What would happen if we embraced the pain in its totality today and let the Divine Surgeon heal us, repair us and fix us on His own operating table of love, mercy and grace?

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!
Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
(Psalm 51. 1-17)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Look for the Cross

One of my associates and I were driving through some small towns in Illinois yesterday in order to make personal visits with some of our Seminary's alumni. As we drove into one small town I was riding "shotgun" and intently looking at my GPS. I was giving my assoicate directions as to where the church would be located. Right in the middle of my offering directions she said, "Put that thing down. You don't need a GPS to find the church. It's really simple...Look for the Cross."

My iWitness...

I put the GPS down and sure enough, through the leafless trees there she was...The Cross... on top of the steeple.

The most beautiful thing to me about the cross is this...

It is empty...

In what is called the "Reformed Tradition", in which I was raised we make a big deal of the fact that Jesus no longer hangs on the cross. Jesus no longer is dead, dangling from the three spikes that hold him mounted to two cross beams. Jesus is Risen! He is risen indeed!

The emptiness of the cross holds true for us the promise that death is not the final victor. Jesus is the one who met death head on in an epic battle and after three days, the power, the grip of death was eternally vanquished.

Today, when you are caught up in the daily details that detain you from enjoying the view of life around you, take a moment and "look for the Cross."

With just a glance, the empty cross and the promise of life that it offers just might give you that little extra boost that you need to make it through the next five minutes.

Look for the Cross...
It may be empty...
But it's full of promise!

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)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bouncing off the walls

My children's elementary school had a "fun night" at "Jumpin Janes" last night. Jumpin Janes is a warehouse that has huge "bouncy" inflatables in the shape of ships, jungle gyms and other assorted contraptions that proves for hours of fun and frivolity for all ages.

It was pure delight to watch Faith and Joshua and their friends literally bouncing off the walls.

My iWitness...

All of this activity last night got me thinking (you know how that can be a dangerous thing for me)...

"Do I bounce?"

Do you bounce?

Do we bounce off the walls we run into?
Do we bounce back?
When we fall down, do we bounce right back up or do we stick, staying stuck to the floor?

I cannot even begin to tell you how many people I have met that 10 years ago or 20 years ago were knocked down by someone or something and there they remain.
Stuck to the event...
Stuck to the pain...
Stuck in that moment...

Today we will fall down...
Today walls will present themselves to us, expectedly and unexpectedly, that will knock us down...
Today we will run into people who will do their best to knock us back...

I know this may sound silly but "stick" with me on this...
What if...
What if we became a human "inflatable"?
What if we were so "inflated" with the Holy Spirit's grace, love, resilience, toughness and perseverance that when we run into these seemingly immovable objects today, we simply bounced off or bounced back?

Forgive my giddiness, but I am actually looking forward to "bouncing off the walls" today!!

Jesus is the master of helping people get unstuck and bounce back...
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked." (John 5. 2-9)

Once again forgive me for getting ahead of myself and perhaps getting ahead of you on this one.
I forgot to ask the most important question.
It's the same question Jesus asked the invalid in the story above.

I asked earlier in this post, "Do you bounce?"
Perhaps the more poignant question is...
"Do you want to bounce?"

That just might be the most important question of the day...
And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!