Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Holy Story

This series is inspired by both the Letter/Book of Revelation and Mike Cope’s book Megan’s Secrets

Over the years I have seen many of our teens have make the wonderful choice to reject the Unholy Satanic story I wrote about earlier.  They instead are choosing to live God’s Holy Story.  When we put our faith in the LORD Jesus Christ and have the unholy story washed from our lives thru baptism we leave behind sin, guilt and trying to be god in our life.  Thru baptism we put on forgiveness, freedom and the LORD in control of our life.

If baptism is the major turning point in the Lamb’s Holy Story what does the rest of the story look like?

This story is counter to the one the world offers.  In the Lamb’s Story the when we are poor in spirit we will receive the Kingdom of God.  If we mourn we will be comforted.  When we are meek we will inherit the earth.  If we are starving for righteousness we will be filled with righteousness.  As we live mercifully we will receive mercy.  As we live pure in heart we will see God.  If we make peace will be called God’s children.  When we are given a hard time for our righteousness ours will be the Kingdom of Heaven!

I hope you recognize this from the beginning of “The Sermon on the Mount” from Matthew 5.  As you read the rest of the sermon you will find a guide for how to live the Lamb’s Holy Story.

I wrote earlier about how the specifics of our stories will be different but the plot will be characterized by “The Sermon on the Mount” and the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5.22 - .25).  Some of us are called to be missionaries in foreign countries while others are called to be missionaries in their own homes.  Some are more introverted and their story will be quieter and more behind the scenes.  Others are more extroverted and will be out front and visible.  These stories are part of the Lamb’s Holy story and Kingdom of Heaven needs us all.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Unholy Story


This series is inspired by both the Letter/Book of Revelation and Mike Cope’s book Megan’s Secrets

Stories: Unholy Story

We are all living out a life story.  The specifics of our stories vary but we are essentially living out one of two plot lines.  The first plot line is the oldest one.  This is the LORD’s Story that started with the creation of the world and is continuing thru today.  We may also think of this as the Holy Story or the Lamb’s Story.  We will come back to this story later.

The second plot line is the World’s Story.  We can also think of it as the Unholy Story or the Satanic Story.  This story is not as old as the LORD’s Story and is in fact a distortion of the LORD’s Story.  It starts early in history when we still live in the Garden of Eden and at peace with the LORD.  Satan enters and offers a temptation to be “like God.”  Satan distorts the fact that we were already created like God, being created in His image.  Satan offers us a temptation not to be like the true God but to be like a god of our own creation.  It is the temptation of control.  Are you going to write your own story or submit to the LORD’s story?  When you walk away from the LORD’s Story you start living an Unholy Story.

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, spells out what this story looks like.

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” (Galatians 5.19 - 20a)

This is a story where this world is all there is and you better get all you can before you are gone.  This is a story where you choose to be the center and use others in order to get what you want.  The specifics of how one lives out this Unholy Story will be different, but the end is the same - death.

Look back over the list Paul gives us again.  Is this the kind of story you want to live?  If not, stay tuned we will talk more about the Lamb’s Story.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013



This series is inspired by both the Letter/Book of Revelation and Mike Cope’s book Megan’s Secrets

Stories are important.  We read, watch, listen to and live stories.  That’s right, each one of us is living out a story.  Our stories shape the way we view the world around us.  Our stories shape how we see ourselves and how we live.  Do you see your life story as one of failure or one of success?  Do you see your life story one where you are in control or do you see yourself as at the mercy of bad luck?  Do your see your self as the hero of your story or the villain?

Over the next few blog posts I want to explore the idea of story.  As I reflected on this idea, it appears there are two main plots to the story you can choose to live.

First there is the LORD’s Story.  You could also think of this as a Holy Story or the Lamb’s Story.  It is a story whose plot line runs right thru the writings we find in the Bible all the way to our lives today.  It is a story that centers around the fact that we are created and this time we are in now is not all there is but more is to come.  Now is preparing us for the glorious future to come.

The second story can be thought of as an Unholy Story, the Beast’s Story or a Satanic Story.  This plot line is also seen in the Bible and we also find it playing out today.  This is the counter story that tells us that we are accidents that just evolved.  It tells us the lie that the here and now is all we get so you had better grab and take all you can because there is nothing else to come.

You choose the story you live. It may not be easy but you can change your story.  You can’t change the past of your story but the future is up to you.  The challenge from the book of Revelation is still true today- are you going to live the Beast’s story or the Lamb’s story?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reflections from the Road

Reflections from the Road

During the Summer of 2010 our went on a cross-country family road trip.  During that trip I had a lot of time to drive, think and reflect.  The following are some my thoughts I wrote in the middle of that trip as a Family Life article.

“I have thought about how important it is to have a good map.  We have a large trucker map.  It is easy to read.  It has some good details.  This map in combination with a gps has made finding our way easy.   The map and gps have oriented us and given us the direction we needed.  The Bible does the same for us.  While it is not an exact map of our lives, as we read, study and meditate on the truth, we find in it we find direction.

On this trip we have stopped and visited friends along the way.  It is a long drive across this country and it was really nice to stop at a friend’s house.  It was nice to relax.  It was nice to eat real food.  It was nice to catch up with people I haven’t seen in a while.  The community or church we belong too are those friends along the way that help us.  We encourage each other.  We eat together.  We experience life together as we travel down the road of life.

Finally it is important to keep your eyes open and be aware of what is coming at you.  In Kansas City we had to dodge a bouncing tire coming our way down the highway.  If we hadn’t been paying attention our trip would have ended early!  There are distractions out there that cause us to stray from the direction the LORD is calling us to go.  With the help of the Holy Spirit we are able to overcome these distractions and keep our focus where it should be.”

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Reflections on Exodus: Who is Joseph? Blessing or a Curse (Exodus 1.1-.14

Refelctions on Exodus
Who is Joseph?
Exodus 1.1 - .14
  The Old Testament book of Exodus opens with a  brief overview of the sons of Israel who traveled to Egypt.  We are told that the 70 decedents of Israel in Egypt had grown so that they were so numerous that the land was filled with them.  At the time of Joseph the relationship between the descendants of Israel and the Egyptians were good.
  Somewhere along the way things went bad between the king of Egypt and the Israelites.  A new king did not know Joseph and the fact that Joseph, thru the wisdom of the LORD, helped the nation of Egypt survive and prosper during 7 years of a great famine.  This new king was afraid of the Israelites because he did not know they could be a blessing to him.
  Why did this new king fear the Israelites?  Perhaps they weren’t the blessings to the Egyptians they were called to be anymore.  The LORD made a covenant with the Abraham the father of Israelites.  The LORD promised that Abraham’s descendant would be a blessing to the nations.  If you look at the story of Joseph you see this promise coming true.  By relying on the wisdom of the LORD Joseph was a blessing.
  But if Joseph hadn't relied on the LORD, he would have become a curse.  We see this in the lives of Jacob, Isaac and Abraham.  When they try to do things on their own they cause more trouble than good to those around them.  So here is my question to you are you a blessing to those around you or are you a curse.  Do you rely on the wisdom of the LORD and live a life accord to the pattern we see in his Son Jesus Christ? Or do you ignore the LORD and try to make it on your own?  If you are trying to do it yourself you will end up being a curse to those around you but if you rely on the LORD you will be a blessing.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Reflections: Genesis, Jacob Blesses His Boys (Genesis 48.1-49.28)

Reflections: Genesis, Jacob Blesses His Boys
Genesis 48.1 - 49.28

Decades after stealing the blessing from his own father, Jacob, now at the end of his life, calls his 12 own boys to him to receive a blessing. His boys are all grown men with families of their own.  They have had a bumpy history between the 12 of them.  Some of them have hated and envied each other.  While others were close friends and allies.  Jacob, now know as Israel, has had a long time to observe his boys and think about the best way to bless each of them individually.  In fact the author of Genesis tells us that He gave “each the blessing appropriate to him.” (Genesis 49.28)

Each blessing Israel gives is appropriate for each individual man and his descendants.  He must have carefully considered the lives of each of his boys and then carefully decided how to bless them.  If you read the blessings for yourself you will see that they are unique and seem to fit the lives each of them lived and their tribes will live.

As most of you know I am a big fan of parents blessing their children at important transitional times of their lives.  At each Graduate Dinner/Banquet or Senior Sunday I have planned, the parents have blessed their son or daughter.  No two of these have been the same and each has been appropriate for the graduate.  The key for us as parents is to know our children.  See them for who they truly are and not who we want them to be.  The blessings we bestow on our children should guide them in life and strengthen them as they follow Jesus.

My challenge to you is to spend some time this week thinking and meditating on how you are blessing your children each and every day of their lives.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Reflections: Joseph Genesis 37 - 45

Reflections: Joseph Genesis 37 - 45

Have you ever wanted to just quit?

Have you ever just wanted to give up?

Has life ever just gotten you so down you were done?

Has your job, family or school just pushed you so far over the edge you just wanted to stop?

We have all been there or we will all be there.  You are not alone.

Life is hard.  Anyone who says different is lying or trying to sell you something.  The LORD never said life would be easy.  Jesus never promised us an easy life.  But we should not give up hope.

Look at Joseph.  He has so many opportunities to say “That’s it I give up.”  or “I have followed the LORD all my life and this is what I get in return.  I quit!”  When his brothers threw him in a well and planned to kill him.  When they sold him into slavery.  When he was purchased by Potiphar.  When he went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit.  When he helped Pharaoh's cup bearer but then was forgotten by the same man.  These were all chances for Joseph to walk away from a god who seemed to make things worse than better.

But he doesn’t let go of the LORD and the LORD doesn’t let go of Joseph.  The LORD in the end turns out to the the GOD who takes the horribleness of life and redeems it into something beautiful.

Reflect on that.

I know life is not easy.  I know it is not easy following Jesus.  I know hat in spite of this following Jesus and holding onto the life he calls us to is better than anything our culture has to offer.  By not giving up on God we are blessed today, tomorrow and in the age to come.

Monday, June 03, 2013

My Thoughts on Boy Scouts Recent Membership Changes

Please Note: I have sat on this for over a week it has been thru several revisions and I feel it best communicates my thoughts, feelings and future actions on this subject.  I did not write this with a light heart but it is the product of much thought, reflection and prayer.  I would remind everyone the the Boy Scout Law asks us to be friendly, courteous and kind more importantly the LORD asks us to act out of self-control and love.


With the Boy Scouts of America changing its membership policy to allow openly gay children and teens to be members I felt it was time for me to express my thoughts on this subject. (Boy Scouts of America Statement)

My position is complicated and not black and white.

First I feel that Boy Scouts is for the boys.  In a Boy Scout troop the boys are the ones who should be learning, growing, leading and planning the activities of the troop.  In a Cub Scout pack the adults should be planning activities that are fun, challenging and interesting for the boys.  As adults we should not be reliving past triumphs through our boys.  As adults we should not be trying to complete unfinished childhood dreams through our boys.  As adults we should not push our political agendas through our boys.  The program is centered around the boys not the adults.

Second, churches may charter Cub Scout Packs and Boy Scout Troops but the Boy Scouts of America is not a religious institution.  Boy Scouts of America supports the need for faith in a boys life but it does not specify the faith a boy is to have.  BSA leaves religious training and discipleship to the families and religious organizations.  BSA supports the importance of faith and religion in the lives of boys and young men but is not one of the primary teachers/instructors of religious beliefs or behaviors.

Third, sexuality is complicated.  A boy can expresses his masculinity in a number of healthy and unhealthy ways.  Our culture has corrupted these expressions and sexualized them.  The LORD’s plan for sex is not complicated.  It is clear from the beginning that sex is to between a woman and her husband.  Sexual activity outside of this covenant relationship is outside of the LORD’s plan and a sin.  This includes heterosexual and homosexual activity.  (For more on my thoughts on sexuality look in my archives)

Forth, I feel a the change was a good compromise.  As I said earlier Cub/Boy Scouts is for the boys.  Every boy who wants to be a scout should have the opportunity to be a scout.

Finally on a personal level, I do not plan on leaving Cub/Boy Scouts nor do I plan on pulling my boys out of scouting.  It is an extracurricular activity my boys enjoy.  Just like swim team it is an area where they can learn new skills and succeed.  I have told both my boys that I will support them and help them go as far as they want.  I will be proud of them no matter how far they go in scouting.  However, I have had to rethink my own roll in scouting.  About 2 years ago I submitted an application to be a chaplain this Summer at the Jamboree.  After much prayer and thought I came to the conclusion that I could not in good conscience represent BSA as a religious leader.  I withdrew my application.  I could not balance my roll as a full-time youth minister and a chaplain.  I can still volunteer in many ways to help either the Cub Scout Pack or Boy Scout Troop just as I do at the kids schools or for swim team.

It is clear that the BSA leadership was not able to handle this in a way they wanted.  It is clear that it will take a few years for the dust to settle.  Some will leave scouting and start their own groups.  Others who stayed away from scouting may join.

Whether this change will strengthen or weaken Boy Scouts is still to be seen.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Reflections: What Just Happened? Jacob and Esau Part Five Genesis 33

Reflections: What Just Happened? Jacob and Esau Part Five Genesis 33

According to wikipedia a plot twist is “ a change in the expected direction or outcome of the plot f a novel, film, television series, comic, video game or other work of narative.” (  The director M. Night Shyamalan has pretty much based his career on using plot twists.  We expect his movies to have a twist at the end but we don’t expect this in the Bible.

The story of Jacob and Esau ends with a plot twist.  When Jacob flees his home it is because his brother Esau wants to kill him!  Over the next 30 years we have the story of Jacob in Padam-Aram but we do not have the story of Esau.  We expect Esau to want revenge and try to kill Jacob.

This is not what happens.  When Esau meets Jacob he gives him a big bear hug!  Esau doesn’t want Jacob’s gifts.  Esau wants to help protect Jacob in his travels.  This is a plot twist.  The mystery is even deeper because we don’t know why Esau has changed so much.

It would seem that in the last 30 years instead of allowing the hurt Jacob caused him fester.  Esau has learned to forgive.  Esau let go of the pain caused by Jacob.  Esau let go the feelings of betrayal caused by Jacob.  Esau let go of his hatred of Jacob.  Esau learned to forgive.  This must have been a hard lesson to learn but Esau learned it.

When we first met Jacob and Esau they were not the kind of people we would hold up as examples of how to live as one of the LORD’s people.  Now at the end of their story they have become the kind of people we would point to as examples to follow as we try to live as the LORD’s people.  How are you living?  Are you the young Jacob and Esau or are you like the older mature Jacob and Esau?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Reflections: Blessings Jacob and Esau Part Four Genesis 31.2

Reflections: Blessings Jacob and Esau Part Four
Genesis 31.22 - 32.32

“Let me go, for it is daybreak” said the man.
“I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Replied Jacob.
The man asked “What is your name?”
“You name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with man and have over come.” (Genesis 32.26 & .27)

Jacob’s story is our story.  In fact I would say that most of the stories in the Bible are our stories as well.  We find the struggles, triumphs, set back and successes of the men and women we read about in our own lives.  The truth of these stories is not that they just happened once but that they continue to happen.

Jacob has for years been trying to make his way in the world far from home.  He starts life deceiving his brother and father.  The middle of his life is spent working for his uncle who keeps taking advantage of him.  The relationships he has with his wives and children are dysfunctional.  Jacob is responsible for most of the mess he is in because of some sinful and selfish choices he has made.

The one hope we find is that the LORD is with him.  Jacob isn’t always with the LORD but the LORD is always with Jacob.

At the end of his story Jacob flees his uncle and heads back home.  He knows he must face his brother, Esau, whom he stole a great deal from.  Unknown to Jacob he has to meet the LORD first.  After a night of wrestling with the LORD, the LORD wants to go but Jacob won’t let Him.  Instead Jacob wants a blessing first.  What blessing does the LORD give Jacob?  Confession and Change

The first blessing is Confession.  The LORD asks for his name.  The answer is “Deceiver.”  He has lived up to the meaning of his name.

The second blessing is change.  The LORD changes his name from Jacob/Deceiver to Israel/God Wrestler.  Israel is no longer the deceiver, he is now someone new.

Just like Jacob we can not receive the blessing of change from the LORD without first admitting who we are and confessing it.  Only then can we be changed into what we are supposed to be, Israel.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Reflections: Where is the LORD in This? - Jacob and Esau Part Three

Reflections: Where is the LORD in This?
Jacob and Esau Part Three
Genesis 29.1 - 31.21

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land.  I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised” - The LORD (Genesis 28.15)

“If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking ... then the LORD will be my God.” - Jacob (Genesis 28.20 - .22)

On a quick reading of Jacob’s story from this point until he returns home, it is hard to see that the LORD is watching over Jacob.  For instance, Jacob arrives in Paddam Aram meets Rachel and falls in love with her.  He makes a deal with Laban to marry her after 7 years of work and Laban agrees.  When the time comes for the wedding Jacob ends up marrying Leah instead.  So, after a little confrontation, Jacob has to work another 7 years in order to marry Rachel.  How was the LORD looking over Jacob here?

Then Lea and Rachel have what can best be described as a baby making contest between each other.  This contest cause the family to become a toxic place.  The family conflict started here will ripple throughout the rest of the Book of Genesis.  Where is the LORD in this?

Jacob’s time in Paddam Aram is not a happy time.  He has been tricked by his uncle Laban.  His family is ripping itself apart.  But the LORD is with Jacob.  Towards the end of this part of his journey Jacob asks Laban for permission to leave.  Laban essentially won’t let him go but the LORD comes to Jacob’s aid.  The LORD tells Jacob what to do in order to have a large flock of sheep and goats.  The LORD also warns Jacob that it is time to go.

It is not always to see where the LORD is in a bad situation.  We may think He is not watching over us, but the LORD is always there with us.  We are His people.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Reflections: The Potter at His Work - Jacob and Esau Part Two

Reflections: The Potter at His Work
Jacob and Esau Part Two
Genesis 28.10 - .22

“If God will be with me, an will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give a tenth to you.” - Jacob (Genesis 28.20 - .22)

After stealing the blessing from Esau, Jacob flees to his mothers homeland.  One night on the road Jacob is in need of a place to stay.  So he grabs a rock and curls up for the night.  Unknown to Jacob the place is not safe!  Something wild and wonderful is about to appear and change Jacob forever - The LORD.

In a dream the LORD appears to Jacob.  In this dream the LORD makes a covenant with Jacob.  It is the same covenant the LORD made with his father and grandfather but now it is with him.  In this covenant the LORD promises to give Jacob the land he is sleeping on and descendant to fill this land.  Then the LORD tells Jacob he and his descendants will be a blessing to all the families of the earth.  Finally the LORD makes two last promises to be with Jacob where ever he goes and the Jacob will return home.

Jacob is stunned to discover that the LORD was in that place and that the LORD would make such promises to him.  Jacob makes a vow that if the LORD lives up to this promise Jacob will make the LORD his God.  As we saw last week Jacob’s life is messed up.  He has tricked and stolen from his family but the LORD is working on him and through him to bring about something wonderful.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Reflections: The Potter Starts His Work - Jacob and Esau Part One

Reflections: The Potter Starts His Work
Jacob and Esau Part One
Genesis 25.19 - .35 & 27.1 - 28.9

Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren.  The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.  The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?”  So she went to inquire the LORD.  The LORD said to her,
Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated
one people will be stronger than the other and the older will serve the younger. (Genesis 25.21 - .23)

Imagine you are a young Israelite who is hearing the story of your people and your God for the first time.  You are making your way through Genesis.  You know that the LORD has chosen your people.  You know that your ancestors weren’t perfect but they were great men and women who should be imitated.  You are feeling good about yourself and then you hit the story of Jacob and Esau.  This is not the kind of story you expect.  You expect that the story of the LORD and the Patriarchs would be of people getting better.  Instead the children of the promised son can be seen as scoundrels!

They start off rough but the LORD will be working on them all their lives. Esau begins as a red, hairy guy who marries Canaanite women and loves to hunt.  Jacob begins as a quiet single guy who is a liar and a thief.  What is going on?  Neither Jacob nor Esau are the kind of people the LORD wants them to be but the LORD has just started working on them.   We know more about Jacob than we do about Esau but as you will see it is clear that they both grow and mature in unexpected ways.

How rough are you?  Our lives now may be a mess but the LORD is an expert at taking messy lives and cleaning them up!  He has a plan for you!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Starting Again

I hadn't paid attention to my blog in a long time!  Recently someone read a couple of my posts and asked why I hadn't kept it up to date.  I didn't have a good reason so I decided to start it back up.  The plan is to post about once a week maybe twice.  Again it will be a combination of inspirational/devotional thoughts and randomness I encounter along the way.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Reflections on the Chief Servant - Good Help is Hard to Be (Genesis 24.1-.67)

Reflections on the Chief Servant
Good Help is Hard to Be
Genesis 24.1 - .67

Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way.  He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh.  I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”

Genesis chapter 24 contains a very interesting and important story about being a servant.  In this story Abraham’s most trusted servant is sent on an important mission.  The servant is told his task and is then allowed to go carry it out.  Abraham does not micro-manage the servant.  Abraham trusts this servant to do what needs to be done to complete the mission.

The servant lives up to the task.  First he takes ten camels with all kinds of good things.  Then the servant prays for guidance.  When the servant finds the Rebekah he does not allow her family to detain him.  Finally he arrives at Isaacs with Rebekah and they are married.

Interesting to note that the servant is never named nor is he ever thanked for doing what he was told to do.  Why is that?  This man was a servant and when the master gives a command the servant fulfills that command.

In many of his letters the apostle Paul describes himself, his companions and us as servants of the LORD Jesus Christ.  The word servant that Paul uses and the word in Genesis 24 means slave.  By our confession of faith we are slaves of the LORD Jesus Christ.  He is our master.  Our master has given us two commands; (1) Love the LORD with all your heart, soul and mind, and (2) Love your neighbor as yourself.  It is up to us, as good slaves, to fulfill our masters commands.  We should do this not expecting any reward or congratulations but because we are good slaves of the best MASTER.