Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Tim Amuchastegui

Faster than a speeding bullet!
More powerful than a locomotive!
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

"Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's SUPERMAN!"

Yes, it's Superman, strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.
Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way!

You have probably figured out by now that the man in the picture above is not the Superman of the Television series.

It's just my friend Tim.
Mild mannered builder/architect from Klamath Falls, Oregon.
He's not very fast. He might post a 13 second run in the 40 yard dash.
He's not very strong. Probably weighs in at less than 150 these days.
At best, his vertical leap is around 8 inches.

I love this photo of him wearing a Superman Shirt.
At the time this photo was taken he was about two hours away from having life threatening pancreatic cancer surgery. 
He's in his hotel room surrounded by family.
This photo showed up on my phone a week ago today.
His incredible wife Cec texted it to me at 5:00 in the morning. 

As I gazed at my friend, my brother in Christ and looked at that "S" on his shirt, I wondered what that "S" might stand for:
"Scared S***less?"

My phone rang 20 minutes after this photo was taken.
It was "The Incredible Wife Cec"!
Her voice was upbeat... "Now David, we have everyone in the hotel room here (family that is). And we are going to put the phone down right in the middle of all of us and we are going to circle up around the phone and hold hands and oh, by the way you are on speaker phone and we want you to pray for us before we go to the hospital. Ok David, are you ready? We are ready for your prayer..."

And so I prayed and I prayed and my voice was strong and then it was weak and then it quivered and then I cried as I invoked upon the name of the Lord God almighty to do a "super" miraculous healing work on a most "super man" who is a brother, a husband, a dad, a father-in-law, a grandfather and a friend.

And then I said, "And everyone said, (And together we said) "Amen!"
There was a moment of silence as we all collected ourselves and then Tim's deep, slow, melodic voice came over the speaker..."David, thank you..." 

And then, "The Incredible Wife Cec" came on and offered her thanks and her love and we hung up.
And they were off to the hospital, for surgery, to remove a cancer that has taken the life away from so many other people...

My iWitness...

I've gazed upon this picture of Tim from time to time all week...
My eyes always turn first to the light that seems to be coming out of his left armpit right near his heart.
The backdrop of a hotel room looks ever so familiar to me as I spent six years living in hotels from week to week.
The two clinched fists speak volumes of the inner strength that Tim has found through our Lord and God.
His face evokes confidence and calmness in the midst of life's greatest storm.

And then there is the "S"...
What does that "S" stand for?

Here's my take...
Surrounded by a loving family...
Secure in the loving knowledge that he is in the hollow of God's hand and God never lets go!
Saved by the blood of Jesus Christ who loves Tim more than Tim will ever know.
Serene - Jesus is able to give us a sense of peace that passes all understanding.
Strong - When we are weak, God makes us strong. I know that that is an oxymoron and rather paradoxical, but all I can say at the moment is that Tim is at his strongest right now.

Last but not least...
Tim is a super man because of a Super Man who came into this world about 2,000 years ago with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. A man who changed the course of history, bent the most bent out of shape people back into shape, loved the unlovable, spared the condemned and fights a never ending battle for the way, the truth and the life so that we may enjoy life and life eternal.

I don't know about you, but I think that is Super!

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

ps - A week out of from the above photo there are two more words that come to mind when I look at the letter "S"...


But he (Jesus) said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12. 9-10)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Running the Race

A year after the terrible act of terror that took place at the Boston Marathon, thousands of runners stood ready to run the race. And run they did. With security high and thousands of onlookers who became instant cheerleaders, the runners did what they do best...they ran!

The length of a marathon is 26.2 miles long. It is a grueling distance and perhaps what is even more grueling is the training that takes place in the months and years that lead up to marathon. I trained for a marathon in the winter of 2011. Running in temperatures that never exceeded 32 degrees Fahrenheit was a real test of my resolve. Had it not been for my running partners Marty Ledgerwood and John Mick, I am not sure I would have been able to complete the training.

Had it not been for my biggest cheerleader, my wife Julie being at the race on March 6, 2011, I am not sure I would have been able to cross the finish line in 4 hours 26 minutes and 13 seconds.

Yesterday, at the Boston Marathon one such runner made it to the 26 mile marker and then collapsed. He only had two tenths of a mile to go and yet his legs, his feet, his knees, his hips, his body said in emphatic fashion... "No more!" And there he lay...1,000 feet from the finish line.

My iWitness...
If we hear nothing else from this post today, please hear this...

"We run this race not alone!"

This runner who had collapsed was quickly helped to his feet by another runner. They didn't make it very far before his legs gave out. Then another runner came alongside and the two runners put the collapsed runner's arms around their shoulders and they carried him for a little bit. They didn't make it very far before two more runners came alongside and each one picked up this collapsed man by the feet.

What a sight! Four runners, each one carrying one of the man's four limbs, walking, then jogging and then running across the finish line... together!!

Tell me...
What was more important?
The finish line? Or how these five runners got to the finish line?

Tell me one more thing today...
How are you doing today?
Are you running strong?
Or are you collapsed on the track on life? Is your body and soul screaming out, "No more!"?

Let me offer this...
If you are running strong, be on the lookout for someone who is collapsed on your path and offer a hand.
If you are collapsed on the track of life and cannot move one more step, be patient, wait... someone will be along soon to offer you a hand.

We run this race not alone!
For those fellow runners who picked me up when I lay collapsed on the road of life, I offer my deepest of gratitude!
For those fellow runners that I have had the privilege of carrying for a mile or two, I offer my deepest of gratitude!
I'll see you out on the course!
Let's continue on running the race of life...together!

And oh, what a glorious sight it will be at the finish line!!!

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

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2. 1-12)

Monday, April 21, 2014

30 Years Ago

30 Years Ago on Easter Sunday in 1984 my grandfather, the Reverend Dr. Marshall C. Dendy (the grandchildren called him "Dendy") and I sat in the third pew from the front at the First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Florida (The Church that my grandfather had served as the pastor from 1942-1952).

Just two weeks earlier "Dendy's" wife, Nan (the grandchildren called her Nana) had passed away after suffering a stroke. Easter weekend 1984 would be Dendy's first Easter weekend without Nana in over 58 years. I was a junior at Davidson College in North Carolina and decided to make the trip down to keep "Dendy" company.

The Reverend Dr. Howard Edington preached a powerful sermon that Easter day entitled "King of Kings." During the service it came time to sing my all time favorite hymn:
"Jesus Christ is Risen Today."

Here are the lyrics:

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once, upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save, Alleluia!

But the pain which He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation hath procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He's king, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing, Alleluia!

Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
Praise eternal as His love, Alleluia!
Praise Him, all you heavenly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia!

Dendy and I wrapped our arms around each other and began to sing this glorious hymn.
Nothing came out of our mouths.
No sound emitted.
Our vocal chords were silent.
All that could be heard were the tears streaming down our collective cheeks.

We got home from church and Dendy sat down at the piano and said, "David, we didn't get much of a chance to sing 'Jesus Christ is Risen Today' at church, how about we sing it right now. What key would you like to sing it in?"

"Let's sing it in the key of C", I responded.

And so we did. We proclaimed at the top of our lungs the magnificent mantra that Jesus Christ is Risen today! Alleluia!
It would be the last song we would ever sing together.
Dendy died three weeks later on the Wednesday after Mother's Day.

That was 30 years ago...

My iWitness...

Thirty years later on Easter Sunday 2014 the opening hymn was "Jesus Christ is Risen Today."

For thirty years I have never been able to make it all the way through that hymn without tears streaming down my cheeks.

Yesterday was no different.
My voice muted.
My face contorted.
My cheeks wet from tears.
My heart full of praise for the greatest and most profound message of all time...

"Jesus Christ is Risen Today, Alleluia"

I have the privilege of proclaiming it!
Nana and Dendy have the joy of living it in the heavenly kingdom for the past 30 years.

I have a feeling that next Easter I won't be able to make it all the way through the hymn without weeping.
I find it to be a wonderful tradition that started 30 Years Ago...

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

 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen...(Matthew 28. 5-6)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Why do you seek the living among the dead?

Aston Martin "Vanquish"

I was talking with a very good friend of mine on the phone yesterday and our conversation quickly turned to Easter. He asked me, "When it comes down to the essence of Easter... if you had to pick just one verse to explain it all, what verse would you pick?"

I was a little bit surprised by the fact that my response was so quick, so instinctive and so ingrained it would have even made Pavlov proud.

"And the angel said to them (the women who had come to the tomb), 'Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here. He is Risen!'" (My paraphrase of Luke 24.5)

My iWitness...

Anybody who knows me very well, knows that I love cars. I am fascinated by high end expensive cars. When I am around these beautiful, purring, powerful, sleek driving machines my heart beats a little faster, my palms perspire more than usual and the wings of the butterflies in my stomach start flapping!

Yesterday was no different. I found myself getting giddy as I slowly, and I mean very slowly walked past an Aston Martin Vanquish. And then it hit me... "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"

Great question! Why am I seeking the living among the dead? Why do I begin to think that "things" which have no heartbeat, which have no pulse would provide me with the very thing I seek: LIFE.

On this Easter Sunday let's take a hard look at that which we seek.
Do we seek "Life" among the heaps of things which in the end are among the dead?

I find it fascinating that as Mary "ran" away from the tomb of the dead she ran smack dab into the One who said, "I am the life..."

Let's put on our running shoes today and seek the living among the living!
Get ready to run into the risen Lord Jesus who is not dead, but is alive!

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

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

Friday, April 18, 2014



We have been friends since 5th grade. We went to different schools but attended the same church. For seven or eight years we were inseparable at church. We never dated. It was one of those relationships when I wanted to date her she didn't want to date me and vice versa. And yet, true friends we were. Then she got married. Then I got married.

And then we went our separate ways.
Do you remember what life was like before Facebook?
People went their separate ways with only the memories tucked away in their back pocket, only to be taken out every now and then to reminisce and thank God for the friendships of old.

We reconnected about 13 years ago. And then we reconnected again once Facebook arrived.
I received a Facebook message from her the other day that ended like this...

"My life is so different than I planned."

My iWitness...

My heart bends, softens, melts and breaks over such sentiments.

My life is so different than I planned...

I was speaking at a Men's Retreat at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas a couple of weekends ago and a gentleman came up to me and said, "If you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans."

To my dear friend and to all who would venture to read this post -
"Whose plans for their life have turned out just as they planned?"

I started thinking about all of the curveballs, dead end streets and endless circles I have gone around thinking I was doing what I planned, only to find out that life was turning out so different than I planned.

I didn't plan on getting divorced.
I didn't plan on getting out of ministry.
I didn't plan on becoming a Senior Executive Consultant.
I didn't plan on having four children with two of them not talking to me for the last 16 years and 3 days (But who's counting?")
I didn't plan on being a Vice President of a University
I didn't plan on getting married again (So glad I did!!!)
I didn't plan on finding my "birth" family (Once again... So glad I did!)
I didn't plan on living in every quadrant of the United States of America.

I didn't plan on a lot of things...
I wonder if you can relate...
Help my friend out... let her know that just about everyone who reads this post's life has not turned out as we planned.

There is only one person I know whose life turned out exactly as planned.
His name is Jesus.
Today, Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified on a cross for our sins was no accident. It did not catch Jesus by surprise. It was exactly what Jesus had planned from the very beginning.
In three days we will celebrate with a raucous antiphonal chorus of "He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!"

It will turn out just the way Jesus planned.

Did your life turn out the way you planned?
Take great comfort in this... You're not Jesus!
It may sound trite but I have taken great comfort in the following saying for over 40 years...

"I don't know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future."

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

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29. 11

Sunday, April 13, 2014

In the Shadows

Over the last two days I have spent 18 hours painting the ceiling, the walls, the nooks and the crannies of our lower level in our home. I think I went through 200 hundred songs on my phone to help pass the time.

Yesterday a song by Switchfoot struck a deep chord while my roller went up and down, up and down on the plain wall in front of me. I don't know if it was the overexposure of the paint fumes or the moving of the Holy Spirit... I will let you decide.

The title of the song was, "The Shadow Proves the Sunshine."
I cannot even tell you what the lyrics of the song say, but I can pay witness to this...They sang "the shadow proves the sunshine" over and over and over again.

My life has been in the shadows lately and I was emotionally, physically and spiritually enlightened by this mantra "the shadow proves the sunshine."

My iWitness...

Are you saying this phrase over and over again in your mind like I have been for the last 24 hours?
Like a hard rain trying to penetrate the hardened pan of dried dirt, I do believe the Holy Spirit finally made its way into my heart of hearts.

You cannot have shadows without sunshine!
With no brilliant light, shadows have no life.
With no ray of sunshine shadows are nonexistent.
Without the power of light, shadows are powerless.
It is quite the irony and oxymoron all rolled up into one.

So here I am living life in the shadows and my heart is overjoyed!
Because, "the shadow proves the sunshine!"

I don't know about you but this is a game changer for me.
Are you living in the shadows these days?
Life seem a little darker than normal?

Rejoice and again I say rejoice!
God is shining bright!

Call me crazy...
Call me maybe...
But whatever you do,
Don't call me despondent...
Don't call me down and out...
Don't even call me delusional...

Just call me overjoyed!
I'm "in the shadows!"

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

"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1. 5

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