Tuesday, September 12th, 2017
I was meditating downstairs in the first morning hour when Hurricane Irma came into my mind, along with the following prayer.
“Flood over me Holy Spirit, as Irma flooded over Florida. Wipe out the buildings of my self that I erected over a lifetime and give me new structures made from your hand.”
Friday, September 8th, 2017
The ex-inmate I’m mentoring, Tyler, graduated last night from his 14-month program at the New Hope Center in South Minneapolis. I was there and proudly watched as he received his diploma and gave his testimony to a roomful of attendees. I’m even more proud of the stalwart Christian he has become.
Tyler has come a long way since the day in June 2016 when he stood on a railroad track and waited for a train to come along and wipe him off the face of the earth. He started a new job two weeks ago as a fiber optics technician serving rural areas and will be moving into a new place next week to be near his job. Not bad for a young man with two felonies on his record and a history of drug and alcohol abuse since the age of thirteen.
Praise God. Tyler is a dramatic example of God’s mercy and grace to the helpless and hopeless.
Tuesday, September 5th, 2017
BUSY, BUSY, BUSY
You can’t add a desire to be closer to God on top of a busy life. He won’t fit where there is no space. You need to take something out to let Him in. You need to say “no” to parts of your life and put in the “yes” of Jesus Christ. It might be the TV you watch in the morning or at night. It could be the long coffee break or the power lunch. Or when the children are napping or away at a friend’s house if they are older. It is in silence and solitude where you find Jesus. He is waiting for you to let go of your busyness and find Him.
Friday, September 1st, 2017
MY FATHER’S BUSINESS
I like the King James Version of Luke 2:49: “I must be about my Father’s business.” That’s what Jesus said to Mary and Joseph when they finally found him after a long search in Jerusalem following the Feast of Passover.
As I’m sitting in my office chair and typing this message, I have before me ten things I need to accomplish today before going to bed. That’s my business – a busy agenda, a full day, much to do about nothing that pertains to the kingdom of heaven.
But what about my Father’s business? What would He have me do? That’s not so clear to me. I sit quietly and ask, “What do You have on Your agenda for me today?”
In the stillness of my mind comes a thought, not exact words mind you but a suggestion that I’ll put in my own words. “Call your friend Pastor Bruce who needs a word of encouragement today.” I suspect why he needs a word of encouragement but don’t know for sure.
Excuse me for ending this message. I need to call Pastor Bruce right now.
Tuesday, August 29th, 2017
JESUS AND PETER DOWN BY THE LAKE
Pastor Bill started his sermon last Sunday by saying, “We are challenged by God to be something beyond ourselves.”
The last chapter of the Gospel of John has Jesus talking to Peter down by the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Given that Pastor Bill is a good preacher, and given that good preachers deliver three-point sermons, he presented the congregation with the three challenges Jesus gives to Peter.
- Have a greater love for Me than you have ever had before. Love Me unconditionally as I love you, no matter what’s happening to you on the outside.
- Be a shepherd to my flocks here on earth. Minister to them with love and compassion. Help them with their physical and spiritual needs.
- Keep your eyes on Me unfailingly until the day of your death. Let nothing deter you or dismay you.
Those challenges are for us today as much as they were for Peter 2,000 years ago. Do I love and trust Jesus amidst the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, the problems in the Middle East, or even my own illness? Do I extend the love of Jesus to others through what I do on a daily basis, even if it inconveniences me? Do I keep my eyes on Jesus though everything is falling apart around me? Do I see him as my only hope in a frustrating and evil world? Yes, I can trust Him through it all. Oh, yes, I can trust Him!
Friday, August 25th, 2017
Below a Time
WHAT CHILD, WHILE summer is happening, bothers to think much that summer will end? What child, when snow is on the ground, stops to remember that not long ago the ground was snowless? It is by its content rather than its duration that a child knows time, by its quality rather than its quantity—happy times and sad times, the time the rabbit bit your finger, the time you had your first taste of bananas and cream, the time you were crying yourself to sleep when somebody came and lay down beside you in the dark for comfort. Childhood’s time is Adam and Eve’s time before they left the garden for good and from that time on divided everything into before and after. It is the time before God told them that the day would come when they would surely die with the result that from that point on they made clocks and calendars for counting their time out like money and never again lived through a day of their lives without being haunted somewhere in the depths of them by the knowledge that each day brought them closer to the end of their lives.
Thursday, August 17th, 2017
MINNEAPOLIS ADULT AND TEEN CHALLENGE
The hand of the Lord was upon me yesterday as I delivered a message to 350 male and female residents at the main campus of Adult and Teen Challenge in Minneapolis. I had a script of what I wanted to cover, but on the way there from Buffalo, the Holy Spirit told me to go without notes and He’d give me what to say. He gave me some ideas during the hour drive and while waiting for chapel to start at 8 a.m. I paid heed to His thoughts, but wrote nothing down. It would be His power within me that gave the message, not the so-so talk I had planned.
And, Oh, what a message He delivered! There were three powerful praise and worship songs that started the service, and by the time I walked up on the stage, I was filled with the Spirit and eager to tell them the importance of walking arm and arm with the Holy Spirit for the rest of their lives. Only then would they be safe and able to break the cycle of drugs and crime.
I was humbled when more than 50 men and women came up to personally thank me for coming. They appreciated hearing about the power of the Holy Spirit and how He could influence their lives for the better. I would have loved to have talked with all 350 of them. The one sad note of the visit is that most of the residents wanted a copy of Arm in Arm with the Holy Spirit, but I only had the funding to bring 50 copies of the book along for their library. It’s the first time in my journeys that I did not have a copy of the book for everyone. If only I would have been able to bring at least 200 copies. I pray this will never happen again. It was hard to put on a happy face when I left.
Tuesday, August 15th, 2017
Do you ever find yourself not taking time to spend with God because you’re so busy with other things? A child of God who wants to please God keeps his or her priorities straight and refuses to do things that could distract him from what is really important.
In order to grow closer to God on a daily basis, you’ll have to avoid some of the distractions and entanglements of the world. This may mean saying no to an opportunity you’d like to take but really don’t have time for. It could mean exercising good boundaries and not getting too wrapped up in other people’s problems. It’s important to help people, but there is a difference between godly involvement and entanglement. It may even mean being less focused on the stresses and cares that come up over the course of each day, because they certainly can distract us from God’s will and purpose for our lives.
God loves you and wants to be in relationship with you. Don’t let the entanglements of the world keep you from enjoying daily fellowship with Him.
Friday, August 11th, 2017
OBSERVATIONS FROM A COURTROOM BENCH
Last Monday afternoon, I sat in the Wright County Courthouse for two hours at Joe’s hearing, a young man I’m mentoring who resides in a county jail. You can read about that part of the story in the last blog. Today I want to make some general observations about my experience.
Seven men and women came before the judge during the time I waited. I observed a subculture of society who live in a world of alcohol and drug abuse, angry confrontations that escalate into violence, domestic abuse, and theft. Two seemed to be contrite; the others were going through the motions, doing what they had to do and saying what they had to say not to go to jail. Some had done that before and were given probation; now they had violated the probation. I shudder to think of the lives they must lead.
The hapless souls in this subculture lead lives of quiet desperation. They have come to the end of themselves and have been found wanting. I thought as I sat there that if there were ever people who needed to follow Jesus Christ and walk arm in arm with the Holy Spirit, these were the people.
Try sitting in a courtroom for a morning or afternoon session. It will be an eye-opener.