Always a teacher…

I met a school teacher named Liz yesterday in a gift shop in North Dakota. She worked behind the counter but, believe me, she is still a school teacher. You can just tell.

As I discovered her story (a small part of it), she shared how she graduated from college in this small town in central North Dakota and how she stayed her, teaching elementary school for 34 years. She ran a tight ship, for sure. She had retired several years ago and started working in this gift shop in Jamestown to make a little money.

As Liz talked to me, suddenly two small children came in from seeing the live buffalo in the rear of the property and ran through HER gift shop. As one tried to run by her, she gently stopped him and said, “You forgot. No running through my gift shop.”

She told the story of a third grade boy who was a bully beginning in Kindergarten. When he reached her third grade class, he still couldn’t read. She took him aside, gave him special attention after school was long-dismissed, and by the end of the school year, he was reading well enough to move to the fourth grade.

After his high school graduation and again after his college graduation he wrote to her, thanking her for the special attention and love he received in third grade. He said that he didn’t know where he would’ve ended up without her. As she told me that, a tear came to her eye, she became a little fidgety over showing the emotion and moved onto other chores.

There are many like Liz along the road. Some with stories of regret. Some with stories of leaving a legacy and making a diffeence.

So, if your listening Mrs. Kohler or Mr. Hale, thanks for making a difference in my schooling. You inspired me and lit a fire under me when I needed it.

And “thank you” to all you school teachers out there… you are making a difference!


How comfortable are you being weird?

I know, that’s a strange question, but if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, that’s exactly what you’re called to be… weird, peculiar, strange… different from the rest of the world of folks who don’t follow Christ. (Romans 12:1-2) We should be weird in the way we behave, how we act and react, and especially, how we interact with others. The Bible says that we will be known by how well we love. (John 13:35)

That’s a tall order, to be sure. How do I love the one who mistreats me, ignores me, favors another, or downright hates me? One thing I know for sure: I can’t do it myself. But God’s Spirit inside me will help me, if I allow Him to. The question for me is: Am I allowing Him to help me? Am I exercising self-control, quenching my own emotions and allowing Him to show Himself?

I can tell you for certain that the answer is “No”. But the fact that I’m even typing this right now tells me that I am ready and willing to allow Him to work. It’s an ongoing work-in-progress for me.

That’s holds true for you, too. We are all a work in progress…

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV)

So if you find yourself not very different from the world around you, take heart. Don’t give up. If you’re saddened by your behavior, that’s the Holy Spirit working. God’s not finished yet. That reminds me of Pastor Jeff’s favorite Scripture:

… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

All the days of my life…

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV)

I’m trying to cultivate (if you can do such a thing) the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life. I want more of Him and less of me. I’m reading and learning about the Holy Spirit by reading about Him, talking about Him, and trying to be sensitive to Him.

Not only do I want to be sensitive to Him, but one of the things I’m discovering is how sensitive He is. He is sensitive to how we live and react to His leading, His prompting, His convicting, and His teaching.

Do I respond with obedience or do I just brush Him off? Do I acknowledge that He is with me (in me!) as I go about my day or do I ignore Him or decide to let Him “out” once in a while like He is some kind of pet?

If I brush Him off or ignore His leading, I grieve Him. If I choose the things of this world system over the things of God, He is offended. James 5:4 says he jealously longs for more of us. And the verses at the top of the page indicate how we can further offend Him.

As I offend Him and grieve Him, he grows more quiet. As my heart hardens to His leading, I become oblivious to His voice and His leading, going my own way. And it’s a way that leads away from the very best that God has to offer.

I want the very best that God has for me. Since He is always working for my good, as Romans 8:28 says), I want as much of His presence in my life that’s possible. What does that require of me? Diligence. A heart that’s wide open. A heart quick to repent. A heart that desires the things of God above all else.

That’s what I desire. It’s not always how I act, but it still remains my one desire.

Psalm 27:4a NIV says…
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

The Rainmakers…

It doesn’t matter where Paul Prince and I go… we should be called the Rainmakers!

Three years ago we headed to the Northeast, rode through Vermont, and a month later they had serious flooding. Two years ago, we went across Texas and Oklahoma and it rained the entire way, in a region that hadn’t seen a drop in two months – literally.

Today, the first day of the “Great Plains Ride”, it was a day of avoiding rain wherever possible. And not just rain, but Paul and I traveled an extra 160 miles to avoid a SERIOUS thunderstorm through Charleston, WV. It was a tremendously large storm and we rode through the earliest portion of it on US60 in West Virginia, but that was enough! We decided to head north to ride ahead of it, around it, and avoid the bulk of it.

US60 is a wonderful road if the weather is nice, but is horrible if it’s raining, especially if you’re on two wheels. We diverted all the way north to Clarksburg, WV and then headed west on US50. There were two thunderstorm cells as we headed west… one to the north of us and one to the south. It was as if God parted the Red Sea for us. We went through on dry ground (pavement) the entire way to the Dayton, OH area.

We had a good dinner at a BBQ place called Werner’s and met a waiter named Mark, trying to earn some extra money during his summer off from teaching second grade. He is a Christian and we thanked him for pouring himself into the local children.

Nothing otherwise noteworthy. Just two tired motorcyclists ready to do it again tomorrow.

I wonder what tomorrow holds…

The road awaits…

Acts 8:26-33 NIV reads:

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”

Acts 8:34-35 in The Message says:

The eunuch said, “Tell me, who is the prophet talking about: himself or some other?” Philip grabbed his chance. Using this passage as his text, he preached Jesus to him.

We’ve all read travelogues before. Great sights. Amazing places. Diverse people. This is a story of the road as well. A story of the first African convert! It’s a great story of the road.

The first thing that I find striking (with the help of John Bevere, whom I’m reading right now), is that Phillip was so in-tune with God that he knew the difference between an angel who spoke to him in verse 26, and the Holy Spirit who spoke to him in verse 29. It’s clearly two different people talking to Phillip. All the translations make that clear. Oh, that I might have that kind of sensitivity: to first hear the Spirit’s voice, and secondly, to differentiate between the Holy Spirit’s voice and the voice of an angel!

Secondly, Phillip’s obedience is stunning. He leaves Samaria where he had preached a revival and where things are going like gangbusters, and obeys the call of God to go to the desert, where absolutely nothing is happening! He obeyed the angel to go to the desert and obeyed the Spirit who said to go up to the eunuch’s chariot. It took courage and it took obedience.

Lastly, Phillip was emboldened and empowered by the Holy Spirit, once obedient, to listen to the eunuch, whose heart the Spirit had opened, and then respond to the eunuch’s simple question.

And a continent had its first convert!

As Paul and I travel on our motorcycles for the next 18 days, I pray that we are as sensitive to the voice of God as we travel on our “chariots” and encounter those in need of hearing the Good News. I pray that we are obedient, heeding the leading of the Spirit, and empowered and emboldened, bringing glory to His Name.


The road awaits.

Using faith on the road again…

Tomorrow morning, my long-distance riding buddy, Paul Prince, and I are headed out west on a long motorcycle trip. 18 days, 5300 miles, and 14 states. Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, the Tetons, Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, and everything in-between. We’ve taken several long trips together, but this one is going to be different.

Paul and I have been praying for God to place in our path folks that need to hear the Good News. We’ve been praying for the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us, empower us, and embolden us to minister to folks along the way. Our antennas will be up, sensitive to His leading. We are even bringing “tools” with us. Paul, as a Gideon, is bringing Gideon New Testaments. I’ve had business cards made up with my blog website on them. But more than that, we are journeying with hearts wide open.

We’ve done some of this in the past, but it hasn’t really been our focus, to be frank. We’ve happened across folks that are hurting and, for the most part, we’ve been faithful to minister to those the Lord has placed in our path: a waitress in Niagara Falls, another waitress in Lexington, KY, and a cashier behind the counter somewhere in Colorado come to mind.

About a week ago, Sharon’s daughter, Christy, gave me a gift: a study on the Holy Spirit. Church on the Hill is beginning a study soon on the same Person. Coincidence? I think not. I believe God is trying to grow me and stretch me. He is trying to pull me away from my own agenda and schedule to open me up to more of Himself. Oh, how I long for that! I am desperate for it!

So, we leave Sunday morning to enjoy this great country, God’s creation, but more than anything, we are traveling with eyes wide open, looking for opportunities to bring Good News to those who desperately need it.

We cherish your prayers.

(Follow the route via Spotwalla:…e53652a20f29b5 or click on the map at the bottom of this page)

Old News? No, Good News!

Have you ever been in a church service, heard a basic Gospel message, and thought, “I’ve heard this before. I know all this. Can’t we move on?!? Give me something that’s practical for being a better person at work or loving my family more.”

I have. I know I’m terrible, but I’ve had those thoughts. Sorry.

For the past several months, I’ve been trying to share (with any who would listen) the Good News about the all-sufficiency of Jesus. Recently, I’ve tried to move on to different topics, all the while feeling like I need to hear this all-sufficient message again and again… daily, if need be.

Here’s the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ:

In His death (and, of course, resurrection), we have life… life eternal.
Because Jesus won, I’m free to lose.
Because Jesus was strong, I’m free to be weak.
Because Jesus was someone, I’m free to be no one.
Because Jesus was the ultimate leader, I’m free and content to be a follower.
Because Jesus was (is) extraordinary, I’m free and content to be ordinary.
Because Jesus succeeded, I am free to fail.
Because “It is finished”, the work is done.

That’s right. The work is done. It is finished. The righteousness of God has been fulfilled in Christ death:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (1 Corinthians 5:21)

In Him, we become “the righteousness of God”! This is such good news! Can you grasp that!?! Because of the love of God in Jesus Christ, there’s no more trying to be a better person. Jesus was good enough (understatement) for all of us. There’s no more toeing the line or stepping up your commitment. In His great love, Jesus was committed to you and I, and that’s enough. No more to-do lists. The requirements have all been met.

If we truly grasp the love of God in Christ and what has been accomplished for us, we are compelled to live for God and not for ourselves. We are compelled to obedience; it is not a chore or a burden. We don’t gravitate toward the things of this world system or toward sin, but instead are drawn by the Holy Spirit to the things of God.

We, as Christians, talk quite a bit about “crucifying self” and we talk about it as if it were something we could accomplish. The Apostle Paul said, “I HAVE BEEN crucified with Christ…” (Galatians 2:20). It was something that occured… that happened to him… and it was ongoing. Read the same passage out of The Message, a paraphrase of the Bible which captures the meaning and context of passages quite well:

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily. (Galatians 2:19-21, The Message)

I asked yesterday, “How do you think God feels about you?” The majority of folks replied that they felt God was disappointed in them. It proabably wouldn’t take long to discover this was because of past decisions or poor behavior. But it’s so sad that we’ve been led to believe by the enemy of our souls, Satan, (or worse, the Church), that we are a disappointment to God.

Please hear this: Despite poor decisions or bad behavior, you and I are as acceptable to God as Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, or the Apostle Paul. He loves us just as much as He loves them. If you are “in Christ”, your past, present, and future failures, poor decisions, and ugly behavior is covered by the blood of Jesus.

Again, if we truly grasp the love of God in Christ and what has been accomplished for us, it should bring tremendous freedom to any and all areas of our lives. In essence, it’s His love that sets us free.

This is the Gospel… the Good News… and we should never tire of hearing it.

I’m curious…

Okay, it’s time for a survey.

Question: How do you think God feels about you?

I don’t want your Sunday school answer. There is no “right” answer that I’m looking for. Just honesty. That’s all I’m looking for… How do you think God feels about you?

Out of Control?

Do you think the world is just out of control? Reading the headlines, watching your favorite news channel, and hearing others speak, it would certainly seem so.

Ground assaults. Airliners shot out of the sky. Senseless tragedies. Wildfires. Endless, mindless stabbings. It seems so out of control.

But take heart and take heed…

Who else has held the oceans in his hand?
Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?
Who else knows the weight of the earth
or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?
Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord?
Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?
Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice?
Does he need instruction about what is good?
Did someone teach him what is right
or show him the path of justice?
No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket.
They are nothing more than dust on the scales.
He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand.
(Isaiah 40:12-15, NLT)

God is trust-worthy. He is worship-worthy.

I’m trusting Him today. How about you?

I hear You call my name…

I’m listening to a song by B.J. Putnam entitled “Here For You” and the “bridge” of the song is repeated over and over. It simply states:

“I hear You call my name.
I’ll never be the same”

If you ever had God call you (and most of you reading this have), you know this is true. Once you grasp the moment in front of you… once you heed His call and take His hand… once you give your life to Jesus, everything changes. You are never the same.

It’s not that you all of a sudden have to follow all the Christian rules. That would be religion. That’s not it. At all. It’s not that you have to stop cussing, or drinking, or smoking… or start giving to charities or helping little old ladies across the street. Again, if you’ve never heeded the call of God in your life, trust me… that’s not it either.

It is recognizing that your way isn’t the right way. It’s allowing God to wipe the slate clean by the blood of Jesus, giving you a fresh start and eternal life. It’s a refreshing freedom not found anywhere or in anything but Him. It is simply surrendering your life to God, moment by moment, more and more. Romans 12:1 in The Message paraphrase of the Bible really says it well:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”

That’s what it means to embrace the call of God your life. That’s how you worship God everyday, moment-by-moment.

Beside the initial call that makes you come forward in a church service (or bow your heart somewhere/anywhere else) to accept the free gift that God offers, namely eternal life, there seems to be other opportunities to give more and more of yourself. Different doctrines call it different things: Consecration, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Entire Sanctification, and other terms. Different strokes for different strokes, I guess. However, for each denomination, it includes yielding… surrendering… submitting… to more of God’s leadership in your life.

B.J. Putnam talks about it in his own words in the video below. It’s the guitar tutorial of the song, but he also gives a brief backstory behind the song.

It is answering the call.

Here’s the lyrics of part the song:

“I am here for You…
To worship You.
This moment will not pass me by.
‘Cause I’m in love with You,
In awe of You,
I’m giving everything…
I’m giving everything away.

I hear You call my name.
I’ll never be the same.”

I hear Him. Do you?

What is He saying to you?