Category Archives: Reflections

My Brother, David

To Glenda and the Marshall Family:

I loved David like a brother. It didn’t start out that way, but God had different plans. Whenever we were together – no matter how long it might have been since we last talked – there was no “catching up.” We just picked up wherever we left off last time. We may have had different mothers but we had the same Father and that bond was anchored in His love which meant that our love for each other could not be shaken.

For 20 years I counted on David’s leadership at camp. If David was at the guy’s dorm, I knew whatever happened there would be handled with firmness wrapped in grace and compassion without concession. When he and I hugged just before he left camp this past summer, the last words both of us had for each other were, “love ya man.” That’s how I will remember him.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.” Ps 116:15

“To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”  2Cor 5:8

Christmas 2012

It’s the last day of December; time to write family and friends.

I continue to serve the pastors and leaders of Christian Union driving almost 60,000 miles this year and spending 141 nights “on the road.” It’s a challenging role and I look forward to God’s faithful direction as I strive to be obedient to Him.

The house I rented since August 2004 was sold on January 4 and I had to be out by the end of February. After spending almost three months living in the spare room at Kari and Jeremy’s house, I moved into a newly renovated two bedroom farm house. Years ago the place was named Doolittle Acres and I now call it home. It’s part of a farm that Tony & Joy purchased as an investment and they generously allowed me to have it remodeled and let me live here.  If you need my new mailing address let me know by email.

The house is quite a bit smaller so I had to get rid of a lot including many books and some furniture. There is still a lot of work to be done in the garage and on the outside of the house but the inside is “like new” and I’m enjoying it. I use to live five miles south of Kari & Jeremy and Joy & Tony and all six grandkids. Now I live five miles north! Yes, I moved exactly ten miles.

Kari is a full-time homemaker caring for Sarah (6) and Natalie (4) while Jeremy works for John Deere. His job requires extensive travel – much of it international. Kari helped with two Vacation Bible schools this summer as well as helping me organize Tri State Camp and does a lot for the whole extended family.

Joy and Tony are in business for themselves providing risk management for farms and in some ways are busier than ever but have more control over their schedules. The activities of their family keep them on the go! Brady (10), Broc (8), Brandt (6), and Bo (4) are energetic and full of fun.

Peter lives in West Des Moines and continues to serve as the IT Director at Lutheran Church of Hope; a mega church with an amazing ministry. He enjoys his work even though it stretches him to the limit at times.

My Mom, Clarice, is still at Manor House Care Center in Sigourney. Arthritis continues limit her mobility and yet she is still intent on being faithful to the end. She will turn 89 on January 16 and I would really appreciate it if you could send her a card. Her hands are so bent up with arthritis that she can’t write back but she certainly enjoys cards and notes. Please email me for her address.

Highlights for the year include three opportunities to interact with teenagers; I find they are hungry for meaningful relationships with adults who are genuine. In March I served as the Head Chaperone for the Pekin High School Music trip to Memphis and Nashville. It was an exhausting 5 day, six night trip on a motor coach which included two nights of travel (no sleep). I enjoyed it but did not change my opinion that country music is an oxymoron.

In July I served with the leaders of Tri State Camp for the 19th year; as the director for the 16th year. It is a privilege to work with a group of adults who are fully committed to creating opportunities for God to work in the lives of teenagers. What a delight to witness God’s transforming power!

This fall I was invited, once again, to help with the Pekin High School musical, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. It was fun and funny!

For my birthday I traveled to Rome, Georgia for the CareGivers Conference – a gathering of people in ministry to people in ministry. That is always a great time of renewing friendships and challenging one another as partners in the Gospel.

I close with the words of my mentor and friend, Doug Webster from a recent message: “The Gift we celebrate at Christmas was not wrapped, it was crucified.  It was not under the tree, it was nailed to the tree, and it was not opened on Christmas Day, it was opened on Easter morning.”

“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold”

Pastor Jon Allen went to a county fair. He saw a display of odd-shaped fruits and vegetables. He saw a cube-shaped watermelon. He saw a pumpkin that was shaped like a two-gallon jug. The grower of the two-gallon-jug-shaped pumpkin said, “As soon as it started to grow, I stuck it inside a jug. When it stopped growing, I broke the jug, and here it is!”

Don’t walk away from the celebration of the Empty Tomb without a new realization of the freedom and victory of the Resurrection. You are not done growing!

Life has a way of trying to shove you into a two-gallon pumpkin jug. When Paul wrote Romans 12:2, he was saying, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold” (J.B. Phillips). That is exactly what the world is trying to do to you every day. What does your two-gallon pumpkin jug look like? What shaping forces are molding your life?

The Incarnate One on the Cross

From my friend Doug Webster:

On the cross the Incarnate One hides his majesty in order to reveal his mercy. The will and purpose of the Son is one with the will and purpose of the Father. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45). The forgiveness of the Father is found in the obedience of the Son.

And who did Jesus pray for? He prayed for the soldiers who nailed his hands and feet and thrust the crown of thorns upon his head. He prayed for Pilate, who washed his hands of Jesus and declared, “I am innocent of this man’s blood!” He prayed for the crowds who shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Jesus prayed for the Sanhedrin, who sought to condemn him on false charges. He prayed for the chief high priest, who charged him with blasphemy. Jesus prayed for them all, even for his disciples who disowned him and fled. He prayed for you and me.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing?” And what were they ignorant of? Did the soldiers know they were crucifying the King of kings and Lord of lords? Did Pilate know that the placard he had written for the cross was true? Did the crowds know who they were mocking and jeering? Did the disciples know who they were abandoning?

Forgiveness is received, not imposed. Turning to God in repentance is important for accepting the mercy of God.

This is an excerpt from a Good Friday message Doug Webster is giving today.

A Comfortable Mouse

Last night I met Peter in Des Moines and we looked at mice – computer mice! Nine years ago I received a gift of a wireless, optical mouse. I tried to calculate the hours I’ve used that mouse when answering email, updating blogs, working on messages, and surfing the web to read articles and news items. It must be more than 10,000 hours! Now the mouse is acting up. Sometimes it charges and other times I start to use it only to discover its dead. Lately I’ve been charging the batteries using a plug-in unit but I know it’s only a temporary fix.

I like this mouse. It fits my hand and the finish is worn off where my fingers rest. I would really like another one just like it but have searched without success. I like what’s comfortable and familiar.

This morning, as I read Isaiah 53:1-12 in preparation for Communion tonight, I was struck with the thought that Jesus probably preferred comfortable and familiar, too. But he willingly left the grandeur of Heaven and lived a pauper’s life; scorned, ridiculed, rejected. More than 2000 years ago he ate a final meal with his disciples knowing that in less than 24 hours he would suffer and die. Because the Father loves him, Jesus loves us – and dies for us.

Father, teach us to go beyond appreciating what Jesus did for us and learn how to live like Him. Give us wisdom to know how to let go of the comfortable and familiar so that we can be more like Jesus. Amen.