Blessedly Poor

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:3 (ESV)

” You can be happy! You can find your success! You deserve it because you are the best you that you can be, and you you you you etc…”

For those who truly seek joy in their lives, it will never be found peering deep into one’s navel. When we put our trust in self, in our own ability, we set ourselves up for failure and pain.

True happiness comes from spiritual poverty – knowing that we are nothing without God, that He is our sufficiency. When people are physically hungry, they seek food. When we are spiritually hungry, we seek The Lord. And a soul that hungers and thirsts for Christ will be satisfied.

Blessed are the truly humble, those who are not fooled by the cult of self and recognize their need for Jesus. We all need God, and it is only in Him – our Creator and Sustainer, our Lord and Savior, our Heavenly Father, Son and Holy Spirit – that we find true, eternal contentment. The stuff of this earth is chaff, kindling for the fire. Find your blessings and joy in the zone a Who loves you, Who watches over you, Who knew you before you were… well… you.

Bedtime Ponderings for 28 September 2014

There is nothing impossible with God.






שום דבר.









Aon rud.







Dim byd.

không có gì.



hiçbir şey.

Pa gen anyen.





walang anuman.


कुछ भी नहीं.

tsis muaj dab tsi.

ei mitään.


ihe ọ bụla.


юу ч биш.


هیچ چیز.


کچھ بھی نہیں.

Did I miss anyone?

Nothing is impossible for God. That includes your situation. Whatever you are facing, you are where you are for a reason. God has a purpose for you now. Right now.

Not just in the future. Now.






You get the picture…

Tonight, don’t worry. Don’t begrudge where you are in life. Don’t wish you were somewhere / sometime / somehow / someone else. Don’t dread tomorrow. Don’t fear tonight.

God is with you. Always. Even in the darkest times. Even when you hurt the most. Even when you cannot sense His presence. God us with you. He lives within you. Embrace Him. Trust Him. Pray. Find your joy in God. Count your blessings with gratitude to God. Rest in His peace. Be secure in His love.

Sleep well, dear friends.

Homogenized No More

I have a friend who was raised on a dairy farm. He knows what real milk is. And he will tell you that, the white liquid in the cardboard cartons and plastic jugs at the supermarket – even the variety labeled “whole milk” – isn’t really milk. It is a watered down, mass produced product that, to him, is closer to cloudy water than true, honest-to-goodness, straight from Elsie’s udder, milk.

I was not raised on a dairy farm. All I’ve ever known is store bought milk. (I once mistook buttermilk for 2%. I’ll never make that mistake again!). I couldn’t tell you what it’s like to grow up drinking the real thing. Only the same old, store bought stuff almost every American pours on his / her morning cereal.

Just like everyone else.

The milk we drink is homogenized. The natural tendency for milk is for the cream and liquid to separate. Homogenization takes these unique properties and blends them together as one. The cream no longer rises to the top.

Why is it that so many Christians expect believers do be subjected to a process of homogenization? True, we are not called to look like this world we currently live in. We are in this world, but not of it. Strangers in a strange land.

But that doesn’t mean we are called to all look the same, sound the same, act the same. My heart aches for those who feel marginalized and us accepted by the church because they don’t fit some imaginary social mold.

Jesus hung out with the outcasts, dined with the downcast. He wasn’t part of the religious elite (indeed He stood squarely against what they stood for: legalism, exclusivity, etc…). Jesus loved (loves) people for who they are, not what they have to bring to the table. We are called to be obedient, but obedience does not equal homogenous.

One of the great reflections of God is that we – His children – are each made in His image and yet each of us is created individually unique. Of the trillions of humans who exist, or ever have, or ever will, no two are, have been, or will ever be, exactly the same. Why do you think it is such a shock when you run into someone’s doppelgänger? “They were your splitting image! You could be twins!” We don’t expect it because we realize how different and individual every person is.

A true community is a group of people who come together with a common goal, a shared running thread that knits them together. For Christians that thread must be Christ. It must be love. It must be agape love! care and support! for one another. It goes beyond being merely social to something deeper – a shared goal to be God’s hands and feet, to reach out and never ever ever be exclusive or walled off. A community should be tightly knit, but not so knotted that new strings cannot be added.

Likewise, a community should be people who are individuals. It is okay to not fit “the norm”. Where is the freedom when one is expected to look and act and sound just like everyone else? We are not Stepford Christians. We are individuals, created by our Father God, saved by the blood of His Son Jesus, indwelled by the same Holy Spirit. We are all different parts of the same body, called to work together in our individual capacities as a whole. A car will never run if it is built from NLT carburetors. A body will not function if it is only muscles. Someone has to be the spleen.

Homogenization is fine for mass produced dairy products. We are not mass produced. We are not product. We are individuals who need a savior, who need Jesus. And, frankly, who need one another.

No wonder so many non-believers think church people are fake. Be yourself. Be who God, in a his far more infinite wisdom, created you to be. Be humble. Be vulnerable. Be loving and kind. And do not accept the critics who do not like your refusal to homogenize.

Pray. Go. Do. Follow Christ and please Him only.

The Trick to Knowing God

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. – 1 Timothy 1:5 (ESV)

In the days of the first church, there were wrong-headed teachings aplenty.  Many were rooted in knowing the law, and others taught that one must gain “special knowledge” from God to be saved.  (This growing heresy was called Gnosticism, and it was a problem for several hundred years.  However, an example of God using a bad situation for good: we have the canon of Scripture we have today in large part because of the church’s response to Gnosticism.)

People like tangible stuff.  We like to be able to see, feel, hear, taste… sense what is real.  That’s understandable.  We live in a fallen world.  We have to sort through a lot of dishonest junk to get to the truth.  We don’t just want to feel something is right.  We want to know.  We want things to be provable in order to trust the end result is as advertised.

That can make faith in God a challenge.  Faith and knowledge run on two totally different tracks.  They work together, to inspire, to inform, to solidify understanding.  But to truly know God requires far more than learning about Him.  It requires trust.

Trusting God can be tough.  When life’s challenges keep piling up, it’s easy to wonder where God is in all of this.  And no amount of “knowledge” will help anyone without faith.  Even just a little faith – as small as a mustard seed, Jesus said – will do wondrous things.

I am a strong proponent of Christian education.  But knowledge won’t save you.  The trick to knowing God is that there is no trick. You just have to trust Jesus, believe He is right and follow Him in faith.  He did all He did on this earth and gave up His life in a most profoundly painful and humiliating manner without one ounce of self aggrandizement.  How much more proof do you need?

Bedtime Ponderings for September 17 2014

Jesus said we are to judge not. The other side of that is that the judgements others make against us have no bearing. No human being defines who you are. Only God does that. And He says you are His. You are loved. You are forgiven. You are blessed to be a blessing to others for God’s glory. You are so worthwhile that Jesus Christ died for you. You have a hope. You gave joy. You have Christ. Sleep well dear friends.

The Power of 1,000

I’ve been thinking lately. (When my wife reads those words, she’ll probably go hide under the bed because usually what comes next is something like, “Let’s move to Saskatchewan!”). I’ve been thinking a lot about being the hands and feet of Christ, about taking the next hold step to be a blessing to others, and about the number 1,000.

Yes. 1,000.

As in, do you realize that if 1,000 people came together and gave $30, they could fully fund an adoption? If they did this once a month, they could cover at least a dozen adoptions a year.

If 1,000 people each went out and bought one bag of groceries, how many people in need would be fed?

If 1,000 families cleared out their old winter clothing, or bought coats, hats, gloves, boots… how many homeless people would be warmer this winter?

If 1,000 folks each gave an hour a month, how much loneliness could we ease?

1,000 sounds like a big number. But, consider this: I live in a town of around 24,000 people. That’s one in every 24 people. But, if you expand your reach out to the entire Twin Cities metro area, we’re talking about 3.6 million people – or one of every 3,600 people. If you live in a small town or rural area, think smaller. But think big for your population!

Where am I going with this? I’m not 100% sure quite yet. Right now I just pray God works through me to inspire people, to give folks a vision, an idea, an enthusiasm that won’t let go. Personally I need to break out of my comfort zone.

How about it? Will you pray with me about asking God to work through us to do great things in a His Name, with no glory in it for us? 1,000 may look like a big number. But, think about it… I know people who house a thousand “friends” (although I have no idea how…). I’ve seen videos of cats vacuuming or changing the oil in a VW or doing the tenth grade kid’s geometry homework, and they get over 1,000 likes or hits or retweets…

Please pray with me and let’s see what God will do through our lives. We know nothing is impossible for Him. And we know He equips His people.

Blessings to you!


Bedtime Ponderings for 10 Sept 2014

God is always with us. Often, when He is the most silent, that is when He is working hardest. If you cannot sense the presence of The Lord, do not fear. Faith far exceeds our tangible senses. And when a God says He will never leave nor abandon us, He means it. So rest easy tonight. Sleep well. The Lord is with you always. Always!

Bedtime Ponderings for 9 Sept. 2014

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. – Ephesians 4:26 (ESV)

Anger has it’s place. However, anger aimed at a person is like acid to your soul. It erodes and pits our hearts and poisons our minds. And the longer that anger languishes within us, the more bitter we become.

Tonight, sleep well. To do that, you need to let go of the grudges. If you are holding on to ill will let it go. If you need to forgive someone, do it. Now. It doesn’t matter if the other party deserves to be forgiven. Our Heavenly Father has forgiven us much. Undeservedly but with abounding grace, mercy and love.

Good night, dear friends.

Even the Best Laid Plans…

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,but it is the purpose of theLord that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)


“Man plans.  God laughs.” – old Yiddish proverb

I do not like having my plans disrupted.  Can you relate?  I’m betting you can.

I had a day full of writing planned.  I had set myself a goal to write 10 devotionals for the book I’m writing (ever so slowly), to start rewriting a humor story I had penned years ago (“Escape from Stalag 500” being the new title), and do some blogging.  I was feeling good, pumped, ready to roll.

Then I walked downstairs.

Jennie had the kitchen cabinet under the sink open, and all it’s contents spread out across the floor.  “We have a leak,” my beautiful bride announced.  “I think it’s the garbage disposal.  This needs to be taken care of right away.”  (Frankly, she’s been conspiring against that garbage disposal for ages.  I think she crammed a bamboo cane down in it without the water running.  She seemed awfully calm about it, which leads me to believe the act was premeditated.)

OK.  No problem.  I still have time to write.

Off to one of my favorite writing haunts.  Generally the noise at the coffee shop doesn’t bother me, because I have headphones on to drown out the ambient noise.  Today, I forgot them.  And this was the morning that the Loud Talkers Society (Hopkins Chapter, Local 574) decided to convene at my chosen café du jour.  I especially enjoyed the man who kept circling around the place talking in a foreign language on his cell phone at a volume that would suggest that he must have just left a Who concert.

Clearly no meaningful writing was going to get done here.

Then came a text from a friend wanting to meet for lunch.  Now I got it.  Moment of clarity.  God had a better plan for me today.  I was getting frustrated because I wasn’t getting my way when my way was not what the Lord had in mind.  So, I left the coffee shop, ran to a local big box hardware store to get a new garbage disposal, ran home to pick up my wife and son and headed off for lunch with our friends.

And what a blessing today turned out to be.

I even got to help my seven-year-old with his homework.  Funnily enough, homework was not on his agenda for the day, and he whined and grumped and complained and even threw his pencil in an angry little fit.  And, thinking back on my morning, I need to repent if I threw a pencil.

As 18th century poet Robert Burns so famously wrote, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men often go awry.”  Far better to heed the advise of a more modern-day poet, Steve Winwood: “Roll with it, baby.”  So often we get caught up in our own little plans that we fail to look up and around us.  We don’t bother asking the Almighty for guidance.  We just bow our heads, antlers sticking straight forward, and start ramming our way through life.  (No wonder we have such headaches when things don’t go as planned.)

God has a plan for our lives, and every minute holds the potential to affect someone else’s life.  What God would have us do trumps our own plans every time.  We have no idea what the future holds.  And I don’t just mean next month or next year.  I mean next minute.

So, when you see your plans for the day unraveling before your eyes, don’t stress.  Pray.  Open your eyes.  See what God has in store.  I guarantee you,  His plan is far more glorious than anything any of us can come up with.

(As for the writing… I still have time to get through a couple of devotionals before my head hits the pillow tonight.  As for “Stalag 500”, I’ll just have to escape another time.)