Monday, August 29, 2005


The hurricane hit the coast pretty hard. I heard that only three other Category 5 storms have hit the US. The news reports and the Weather Channel amaze me. I think these guys are trying to do what Bernard Shaw did on CNN during the Gulf War. Personally, I don't think there is any honor is staying in the path of a storm (or a war) that prompted the mayor, governor, and president to issues warnings to leave the area.

But we live in a society that specializes in sensationalism. For "reality TV," this is top shelf.

Life has storms, too. You've been there; you know what I mean. Your marriage falls apart. Or you are suddenly without a job. Or your children get into trouble with alcohol or drugs. Or your teenage daughter gets pregnant. Or your son wants to drop out of high school. The list of storms that run through out lives goes on and on. And who of us has been exempt?

Where do you turn when life is stormy?

Jesus and his disciples were on a boat in the middle of a relatively small lake. The Sea of Galilee is, at best, 7 miles wide and 20 miles long. But it sits in the midst of a mountainous region and when the air atop the mountains cools in the evening it slides down the slopes like an avalanche. When the cooler air reaches the Galilee it displaces the warmer air. Storms are frequent.

But this storm was different because the disciples (Jesus was asleep on the boat) couldn't control their vessel. And many of them were professional fishermen who had worked daily on these waters. They thought they could handle the storm but they couldn't.

Where did they turn for help? Jesus was on board! Just like he is on board in our lives - if we have a personal relationship with him.

After the disciples woke him up, Jesus stood on the deck and stretched his arms wide. He said, "Peace, be still." And the winds were calm and the waves died down. They were safe! Because Jesus was on board.

When the storms tear through your life, wouldn't it be great to have Jesus on board? He already is if you are a Christian. If you are not, then you can commit your life to him and his teaching and he'll be on board constantly.

When the storms come into my life I don't try to handle them by myself anymore. I used to. But now I just ask Jesus to take control and he steps forward, stretches his arms across my storm, and says, "Peace, be still." The winds go calm and the waves die down. And I am safe. Because Jesus is on board.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Packed Up

I've been away from home for ten days with two more to go. I'm ready to go home. I'll pack my bags in the morning then check out of the hotel. After I complete my work tomorrow I'll drive toward the airport and find a place to stay. The flight is at 6:05 am. I don't want to have to drive an extra forty-five minutes that early in the morning; so I'll stay close to the airport tomorrow night.

It won't take long to pack. Almost everything I brought is dirty so I'll just throw everything in the luggage and deal with it at home. Have you ever noticed how carefully you pack when you are leaving for a trip? Everything is folded neatly and placed delicately in the luggage. You check and recheck the lids on the toiletries. I even put them in ziplock bags. That's a trick I learned from my wife. When you fly your luggage is kept in a compartment that is not pressurized like the cabin where you ride. So the changing pressure causes the shampoo to ooze out of the bottle and onto everything else. If all the oozy stuff is in a baggie together then your clothes don't get oozed on.

That always happened to me before I met my wife. And I never realized my clothes had ooze on them until I was wearing them. Yuck! So that little trick is clever. Use it if you want.

Bruce Williams was/is a radio talk show host. His program is about business, primarily. Here's a trick I picked up from Bruce. When you are flying and will be at your destination for a while, box up your clothes and UPS them to your hotel. Call the hotel and let them know there will be a package arriving for you. They'll hold it until you get there. No baggage to check and tote! Just be sure to ship your box early enough so it will be waiting on you. You don't want to be waiting on it for a few days.

My wife and I did this on our honeymoon to San Antonio. It was our first time to try this. I sounded real confident it would work and Deana finally agreed to do it. I'll admit now that I was relieved to find that the box was at the hotel when we arrived. Yeah!

Then I tried it on a business trip to Maine. That worked out pretty good. My boss (from New York) met me at the airport and we traveled to our workplace together. She was loaded down with stuff and I had almost nothing. Again, I was glad to see the box at the hotel.

One word of advice: pack a change of clothes and a toothbrush - just in case. And don't forget to UPS your stuff back home!

The departure is always more "fun" than the return. I've been gone for almost two weeks. I was excited to start the journey but I'm worn out now and just ready to be home. I haven't taken a picture in four days. I've stopped sightseeing. I just want to check out, load up, and head home.

Life is like that, isn't it. When we started our journey through life we were excited. Everything was new. Sometimes we have moments of "newness" and we get excited about living again. But look around. So many people are just tired of the journey and ready to move on. But they aren't really looking forward to moving on - like I'm not looking forward to another six hours in an airplane Friday.

I believe that those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will depart this world in style one day. Just think how you would feel if you had been pushing a cart loaded with bricks all the way across the country but you knew that when you get to a certain city you'll be picked up in a Cadillac, taken to the airport, and sent home in the luxury of first class. Pushing a cart of bricks isn't very exciting and it's awful tiring. But there's something fantastic waiting just down the road.

Someone said, "Life's hard; then you die." I agree but must add, "Then Jesus takes you home first class." But only if you know him as Savior and Lord.

George Younce used to say, "I'm packed up and ready to go." He made that trip a few months ago.

Are you packed up and ready to go?

Saturday, August 06, 2005


I am so glad I'm not seeking a spouse anymore. I never liked dating anyway. In high school I dated just one girl for over three years. After we broke up I pulled myself out of the dumps and asked the prettiest girl in my class for a date. I didn't do it very good. The date never materialized.

Then I met a girl at work in college. We married. Almost 10 years later I found myself looking for a date again. Actually, I wasn't looking but my friends were. There was a blind date that went OK but didn't result in a second date. There was the movie with the girl at work. And the movie with the girl from high school. I really didn't have my heart in it.

God says it is not good for a man to be alone. There are implications on many fronts in this. One is that a man needs companionship. I'm an introvert so the lack of companionship is not that big a deal for me. For an extrovert to "date" like I did would drive them to the brink of mental explosion. But I just stayed at home and didn't worry much about it.

One reason I didn't worry too much about it was that I heard a sermon where the preacher kept referring to the church as "her." I had an image in my mind of what "she" would look like. I shared it with one really close friend and we often talked about "her." Then the preacher started calling the church "her." The Lord spoke to me through that. He reminded me of a commitment earlier in my life when I submitted to do whatever God wanted me to do. I began to get a clear image that God wanted me to invest my life in "her" - the church. That's when I started seminary and re-submitted to the call to preach. It changed my life.

I had also learned that God is the provider of all things. There is nothing we need that God does not provide. There is nothing we have that did not come from God. So when I felt like I needed a companion - and didn't find it through dating - I realized God was providing himself to be my companion. Those years after the broken relationship became the time when I was drawn closer to the Lord. I walked with him closely. I talked with him constantly. I shared everything with him. I learned so much from him. He was my dearest friend and closest companion. He still is.

So I'm having lunch today at this diner in a small Washington town. I just completed a hike fron the top to the bottom and back to the top of Snoqualmie Falls. I don't hike much. There were moments when I thought this would be my last hike! Then there were moments I prayed this would be my last hike!! "Lord, either take me to the top of this mountain or take me to heaven." He did neither so I had to continue my climb. Little kids and women were running up the hill past me. My hair and shirt were soaked with sweat. My heavy breathing must have sounded alien to those who walked past me. I didn't mind people passing me from behind. It was those who were going down the trail that really bothered me. They could not only hear me but see me labor. Nobody asked if I was OK but I know many thought I was not. On my way down I noticed (that's very kind; I really mean I snickered at) a couple of people struggling to get back to the top. I confess my sin of being judgmental and ask forgiveness.

God has infinite perspective. He knew as I was trudging up the hill that I would make it. That's why he didn't magically transport me to the top or just let my life seep from my nostrils and take me to heaven. "If I was God" is one of my favorite sayings. I don't say it to be sacreligious but to make the point that I am not God; he's so much more godly than I could ever be. But if I was God I would have had a good time watching me toil my way back up the hill. In the beginning a little voice in my head said, "You don't have to go down there. You can see the falls from up here." I rejected that advice and went down the slope.

Going down slopes are not pleasant experiences for me. I suffered a tibial plateau fracture (a broken leg) in 2000 on the slopes of Crested Butte, CO. No matter what you may hear, the training slopes at Crested Butte are anything BUT bunny slopes. Treacherous describes them. Go down them at your own risk!

Even the journey to the bottom of Snoqualmie Falls was a bit unnerving. Even after 5 years I still wonder if my left leg will catch me if I start to fall. Going down a rocky slope terrifies me. So the mental pressure of going down hill combined with the physical pressure of going uphill...

I have a masters degree but sometimes I wonder if I have any sense at all.

So I'm having lunch at this quaint diner in Issaquah, WA, just east of Seattle. I'm sitting so that I can watch the people in the diner. I like to watch people because we are funny creatures. Even you. Just a table away is a young couple. Early twenties. It's after 1pm and they are having breakfast. The menu says you can have breakfast any time of the day. So they are.

I hear only some of their conversation while I read from a Warren Wiersbe book. Every once in a while I look up and survey the room to see if anything interesting is going on. Other than the banter between the wait staff and the regular customers, there is nothing interesting. Even the young couple is acting pretty normal. She's talking and he's listening. They talked a lot about their brothers and sisters. I'm thinking they should be talking about each other and what they like/dislike; what kind of movies and music they enjoy; what they've read recently; blah, blah, blah.

I guess I should have talked more about my sister when I was dating!

So the couple finishes their lunches (breakfasts) and he excuses himself for the little boys' room. She sits there politely (as she has all through the meal) until he is out of sight. Then she picks up the shiny silver napkin dispenser and fixes her hair and makeup. It was all I could do to quickly look away and not laugh out loud!

Ahh, the sport of dating. The Lord blessed me with a wonderful wife. We met about 9 years ago and will celebrate our 9th anniversary in March, 2006. We sparred a little, then dated a couple of times, then got engaged. I don't mind going on a date but the thought of pursuing the object of my affection really disinterests me. I'm glad Deana didn't make me chase her too far or too long.