Friday, December 29, 2006

Andrew Seehusen the 3rd

As far as I know, there are three Andrew Seehusens in the world. One, a red head, was born 31 years ago; I met him that day. He is our son.

The second Andrew Seehusen lives in Kiev, Ukraine; he teaches in an international school in Kiev. He grew up in Delaware but his dad was from Pocahontas, Iowa; our ancestors were cousins.

Today I met, in person, the third Andrew Seehusen, a 23 year old veteran Air Force loadmaster, a student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. This Andy’s grandpa and I are second cousins. What a special young man! His plan is to become involved in international banking, using the law degree he hopes to get from an Ivy League school.

Andrew came out to visit because he wanted to talk “family”. I hope we helped him. Even though we never met before, we are brothers. You see, Andrew is a disciple of Jesus Christ. This makes us brothers. If Andrew and I spent a lot of time together, time would fly fast with our “common ancestry” and our Air Force experiences. Andrew shared a good verse with me—Jeremiah 9:23-24 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord”--a good verse for all our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Andrew, if you read this, God’s blessing upon you. Keep the vision. The world needs visionaries with a fixed heart trusting in the Lord (Psalm 112:7). When you get married to a good-looking Danish woman, don’t forget to invite us.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Do Not Fear Bad News

As the year comes to a close, we look back and we look ahead. In times like these there is much to consider. The war in Iraq unsettles us; Ross is going back for his third tour of duty. Political change has happened nationally and locally. Jihadists want us dead; Saddam’s followers want us dead. The prices for our crops are good but this week a man said to me, “Unless it snows or rains, we won’t have anything to sell next year.” This is all bad news.

But in Psalm 112:7, the writer speaking of Christians says, “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” This is good news for us believers but do we believe it and take it to heart?

Notice, we will get bad news, it’s how we respond that makes the difference. The Psalms say "the one who does not fear bad news has a heart that is steadfast (“fixed” in the KJV) trusting in the Lord." How and what do we trust? We trust what we know! Do you know the Lord or have you just heard of Him?

Job and his buddies pontificate, speculate, and contemplate about God and who He is for 37 chapters in the book of Job. Then God says to Job in Chapter 38, “Stand up, I’m going to ask you some hard questions, and I expect some straight answers” (my translation). The Lord then proceeds to ask Job 66 questions, most unanswered to this day; then in Chapter 42, Job speaks “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Notice Job’s response, “Surely I spoke of things I did not know, things too wonderful for me to know. My ears have heard of you, now my eyes have seen you.” When we try to understand all of God's plan, it can be oppressive to us (Psalm 73:16). Yes, we will get bad news, but unless we know the Lord, through His word and prayer, we cannot be fixed or steadfast, trusting Him. Job's response is to repent in dust and ashes.

If we want this truth to move from our head to our heart, we must seek God in spirit and truth, read His word, pray to Him…then we will begin to know Him and then we will trust Him and no longer will we need to fear the bad news that will eventually come. May you grow in the knowledge of God, hiding God’s word in your heart, growing in faith and wisdom. Come Holy Spirit, come; choose us; hold us. Then we need not fear bad news. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Visited Blue Ball

I remember when the first astronaut came around the back side of the moon and saw earth (that perfect blue white ball, suspended on nothing, hanging in space) and in stunned awe the astronaut said, “In the beginning God…”

I can’t really imagine God sitting somewhere beyond the universe some 2,000 years ago looking at His footstool, the earth, and saying, “Today is the day I’m going to send my one and only Son, Jesus to go to earth , to become a microscopic ovum, to be born of a virgin born in a barn, to go and redeem fallen man.”

Have you ever contemplated if no one sinned until now and we were living in perfect peace, and then old Adam and Eve would decide to do some very serious apple crunching. Sin then comes into the world and God would decide to set up a committee to ask advice from us on how to redeem fallen man (He won’t do that but I can speculate). What would you come up with? We would come up with man-made religion. We’d crawl on our belly, into the presence of God and propose some plan of “working off” our sin. We would be in the deal-cutting business. We’d hope we’d be good enough to obtain salvation. We would propose works based salvation. That is the rest of the world’s religions…hoping we’ve been good enough, and that God may in His mercy allow us to live. Who would even dare come up with the idea of God sending His one and only Son to come to earth as an ovum, be born in a barn, suffer taunts of His suspect parentage (Psalm 69), be tempted by the devil himself, be tempted in every way, yet be without sin, be both man and God, and when preparing for the cross, feel so much pressure He would sweat blood in the garden of Gethsemane. We would convict Him on no evidence, have a sham trial, and murder Him on a cross, the most torturous of death, with the idea that He would forgive your sin and mine. Then by God’s power alone, God would raise Him from the dead—victorious over sin and death…Oh, who would dare dream this up, much less present it to a Holy God and awesome God? No one—no one—no one would dare do it; it’s God’s plan alone. A gift to us; undeserved; we can’t comprehend the majesty, the greatness of it! But it is God’s plan…

Remember this Christmas, the manager is empty, the cross is empty, the tomb is empty…In these days we do not have to take God to a hurting world, and He is already there. Let’s get up and go see what He is doing!

On this Christmas weekend, old Jer cannot bring anymore light on this subject because Jesus is the Light, the God of the universe among man. Immanuel, God with us. What a story? What a Gift! May we never take it lightly. Amen

(This blog is reposted from December 22, 2006)

The Rhinestone Cowboys of Advent

I came home last night; Judi was working. I had to submit information by noon today for this weekend sermons. The sermons have been rolling around in my head; my problem was getting them to paper and putting the services together.

My plan was a night of serious study. I decided to put the TV on as background. I chose a program on Public Television about crossover country hits—hits that were country but became pop hits at the same time. I worked with the background of music playing in my ears. Glen Campbell came on singing Rhinestone Cowboy. I have heard the song many times before but never really listened to the words. For some reason I listened last night. These words caught my attention. I quote: “There’s been a load of comprising, on the road of my arising, but I want to be where the lights are shining on me. Like a Rhinestone Cowboy, out on a horse in star spangled rodeo…I wanna be where light is shining on me.”

Yes, we crave attention but at what price? Did it involve a load of compromising to get into the light? Fame is temporary and fleeting yet many people crave so much attention they will compromise their values to achieve their 15 minutes of fame.

I wondered about Advent and Christmas. Isn’t so much of this season about me? We want to be the one whose Christmas letter is the first to arrive. Effort is put into our Christmas lights so everyone will notice. Of course, the gifts so perfectly chosen so in the presence of extended family, others will swoon at our pluck and creativity.

Yes, we want to be “where the lights are shining on me.” Remember this Advent season, Jesus does not need any light shown on Him. He is the Light, the Light of the World, the Light of the World to bring us out of sin and darkness.

Dear Lord, please forgive us as we Rhinestone Cowboys struggle for our place in the spotlight. Lord, draw us to the “real Light, Jesus Christ, and our desire for human attention will fade away in the fullness of His Light and glory and grace. Come Lord Jesus, come. Amen.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Roger's New Ride

Men love cars. Men love anything with motors that snort and roar. Roger is no different. Roger is in our men’s Bible study in Cokato and he is quite the Roger. He had to show us his new ride—a sleek silver car. It’s not really new, it’s three years old but it is new to Roger—that’s all that’s important. Roger said to me, “Jerry, this is the nicest car I’ve ever had.” Paul, Jim, Roger and I stood and marveled in joy. This “new” car means more to Roger and his wife Renee than our new cars mean to most of us.

A year and a half ago, Roger was looking for a job. He heard of a job he thought he’d like and he applied. One of the requirements for the job was that you could not smoke. Roger smoked. Many people applied for the job and 12 people were interviewed. It was then reduced to 6 and Roger was one of the final six. Even though Roger told them he smoked, he got the job.

We had been praying for a job for Roger at the men’s Bible study. I remember Roger standing and the rest of us laying on hands praying for the job. A week later Roger came to Bible study; while getting out of his old car, two 19 year olds, Ryan and Dylan, yelled, “Roger, did you get the job?” "Yes", Roger yelled and Ryan and Dylan danced. Yes, they danced for joy; their brother in the Lord got a job!

I marveled. How excited do I get when something good happens to my brothers and sisters? To some of us, dancing is a real problem. We just don’t do it naturally and it has been ingrained in our mind that all dancing is bad. Some isn’t. Psalm 150 says in vs. 3, “Praise Him with sounding of the trumpet, praise Him with the harp and lyre, praise Him with the tambourine and dancing.” So if you have no trumpet, no harp, no lyre, no tambourine, just dance. Yes, dance; just dance.

There is way more to this story. The job Roger applied for was to be a janitor in a church. He loved the job. Roger gave his notice last week as one of his part-time jobs became full time—working as a counselor at a boys’ ranch. Roger also works part-time at a drug treatment center. God does remarkable things. Roger was a former drug user; matter of fact, he was a drug dealer. Roger spent 15 years in prison for drug dealing.

The last 18 months have not all been easy. Roger and his wife have faced sickness and both are now well. They have scrimped and saved. They have prayed and cried. Jesus is real, God is good, and the Holy Spirit moves and makes old things new.

You see, not only has Roger gotten a new car, he has a new heart, new spirit and a new life. And it is all because of Jesus Christ and Him alone. Roger shares his love for Jesus every day with the boys at the ranch. His past, not forgotten, not hidden, not ignored but laid out, to witness to Jesus’ power and grace, forgiveness and joy.

So, the ex-con no one wanted to hire is on the front line witnessing for Jesus. This ought to make us dance. Yes, dance. You see the new car is great but Roger and Renee know it’s a new mind, new heart, and new soul that is important not just a new car. Let’s dance! Let’s dance for joy! Find someone to make music. Let’s dance. Let’s dance for Jesus. What a Christmas gift this all is. Come quickly Lord Jesus, come. As a matter of fact, He is already here!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Lip service to our families

I’m re-reading “Ashamed of the Gospel” by John MacArthur. One point he makes in the book is this: If the church is to be strong, our families must be strong.

Strong families are the backbone of a nation and of our churches. Stability and economic opportunity flourish when the family is intact, but in visiting and observing other churches, I think we give lip service to our families.

Young families are over committed on all fronts; talk to them if you doubt this. Young families, young leaders have filled the gap in our churches. Many of them have rushed in to fill gaps as people in the church who are older have bought into the idea of “retirement”. All too often the ideas “I’ve done my share”; “I’m going to quit”; “Let the young people do it”; “The young people don’t listen to us anyway” seem to hold sway in our older people. (In case you’re wondering, older people are 50 and above.)

Our young families should be spending time with their families not burdened with church leadership. When the kids leave, that’s when we step up and lead. We’ve been operating with the wrong model, lead when you’re young, sit when you’re old.

If we believe that families are the backbone of our churches and culture, we should give them the “freedom” to learn and not lead. They should be attending Bible class not leading it. Their input and freshness and vitality is needed in our churches but the church has added burdens to our overstretched families, not lessened them. We need sensitivity and creative insight to help our young families so they can have more time for themselves, building a strong family unit.

Retirement from life has run full course in our churches. We believe we have a God-given right to sit down, enjoy the fat of the land, and bring on the good life. God help us-- We live in a land where our stomachs and bank accounts are full but our hearts are empty.

When the hair grows thin and gray, I believe we should crank up for some hard core leadership responsibilities and give our young families a break.

Rose Jergens is a hero to my wife Judi. Rose is well over 90 years old and is the mother of a girlhood friend of Judi’s. For the last 30 years Rose has babysat for many children. Every year she invites all the children (one now 30 years old!) to her home at Christmas time to decorate cookies; this year she’s made 800 cut-out cookies in preparation! Impressed? We should be; but she also operates a flower business, works at the hospital auxiliary gift shop, the thrift shop, provides and arranges altar flowers at church each week plus babysitting every afternoon.

When we embrace the idea of retirement from church, I believe it creates struggles for our faith in our later years. Engaged in life, having a purpose every day, and knowing that we are needed, seems to me to be the best motivator for a continued vibrant and alive Christian life. What has God gifted you to do? Do it!!

With the mobility of our culture, our children and grandchildren can live close or many miles away. In our midst, in our churches, we have families without Grandma’s and Grandpa’s living in the area. Step up, start here…kid’s need Grandma’s and Grandpa’s and Grandpa’s and Grandma’s need kids.

Look at scripture to see what God asks older Christians to do. Are we doing it? Or have we bought in to the idea of self-centered retirement? I believe it’s time to ask these hard hitting questions for the future of our families and the future of our churches depend on it.

Maximillian Kable, German Priest who was executed in World War II.said: “Indifference towards the things of God is the deadliest enemy of any soul.”

Scripture: Titus 2; I Peter 5:1-10; I Timothy 5; Luke 22:24-30.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Blessedness of Saying Nothing

Every Advent season as I read and prepare for advent, some special verse becomes lodged in my mind and I cannot dislodge it no matter how hard I try. At this time I realize it may be possible that the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me something and I better “listen up”. This year I looked at Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ. I came on Isaiah 40, talking about God’s comfort to us His people.

I have never contemplated what comfort meant. I attended a local concert in Olivia last night and I asked friends “What does comfort mean to you?” The answers and comments were interesting, revealing that I am not the only one with little, if any, comprehension of what it means.

Isaiah 40:1 says in part: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, and that her sin has been paid for…” At the end of verse 5 of Isaiah 40 it says, “For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

True comfort comes when we know with assurance that “our sin has been paid for.” It’s good that God speaks this comfort to us…it’s good to be reminded that God speaks “tenderly” to us.

We are to comfort our brothers and sisters. We should speak tenderly to one another. When I read 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, I am reminded that God is the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” We must do and demonstrate the comfort of God.

But I wonder, many times do we speak of things we know nothing about? Job had three buddies who speculated and contemplated his situation. In Job 13:1-4, Job expresses his frustration with his buddies’ comments. Job speaks “My eyes have seen all this, my ears have heard and understood it. What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. But I desire to speak to the Almighty and argue my case with God. You however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you.” Then in verse 5 he says, “If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.” (Check these verses in “The Message” translation!—Ouch!!)

An old pastor by the name of James Stewart defines true comfort as this: “True comfort is a strong bracing, re-enforcing thing—it’s wind to the sailboat, it’s a job to someone without one, it’s the clasp of a friend’s hand in the time of trouble.” And I would add, “it’s a hug when there is nothing more that could be said.”

I wonder if in our urge to comfort, our desire to be there, if many times we say stupid things and do hurtful, insensitive things.

I cannot comfort everyone but Jesus can. I should minister to the hurting world but with wisdom and grace. Sometimes I need to speak, but when and if I do, I should be tender like the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 40.

As I sit here writing, I am listening to the radio and Tom Everson from Chaska comments on the conviction of his son, Grant for the murder of Nancy Everson, Tom’s wife and Grant’s mother. Even if I knew him, what could I say? All I could do is hug him.

Yes, sometimes when we comfort others in trouble, it is “blessedness when we say nothing.” Sometimes only a hug will do. As Job said, “If only you would be altogether silent. For you, that would be wisdom.” Job 13:4. A major league stepping on my toes and I needed it. God help me.

Remember this, there are also times we must speak and act. Please consider 2 Cor. 1:5 “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” Only through Christ, only through Christ…only through Christ. Amen.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Country Boy’s Thanksgiving Morning

I guess when you milk cows as a boy; you will always get up early. This morning, Thanksgiving morning, is no exception. The eastern horizon shows the first burst of orange and yellow. Sunrises remind me that “God’s mercy is new every morning” a promise from Lamentations. I’m thankful.

The world says we will continue to damage our planet until the weather disruptions will result in global warming or a new ice age but while the world worries, I remember God’s promises of springtime and harvest until the end of time. I’m thankful.

As I look outside, the bird feeder, which Stu and Ann gave us, hangs in the big ash tree and blows in the wind reflecting light from the chandelier over the kitchen table where I sit. I notice our black lab, Lily, stretching with her proud lab tail the in air. When she notices me, she looks, gets excited and wags her tail. Thank you Lord, for good, simple things.

No one else is up; Judi and Katie sleep in the house; no noise except the rustling of the wind on a warm November morning. I have a wife who is a blessing from God. As the pastor who married us said, “I think this marriage will work because no on else could stand either one of you!” My children, Andy and Katie, are a joy to my heart. They often lift my spirits when I’m down. Extended family comes to mind—always there for us, always faithful. It’s good to notice that the older we get, the more we become alike. I’m thankful for all of them.

I breathe without thinking, my heart beats without one ounce of concern or effort on my part. One year ago I faced an uncertain future in a battle with prostate cancer. A cancer that turned out to be one of the most aggressive seen at the University of Minnesota. Yet one year later I’m alive and my last tests in October were perfect. In Acts 17 it says in part…”God gives us life and breath and everything else…” Yes, He does give us life, and breath, and everything else. And, for all of it, this country-boy is thankful!

May God bless you, keep you, comfort you, encourage you, and spur you on while you wait for Christ’s return. We are blessed this Thanksgiving Day.

Thank you Jesus for all things. Amen

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Comfort for God’s people – Isaiah 40:1

Last Sunday afternoon I was dejected. My sermon seemed to fall on deaf ears; the weather was dreary. I still had the hanging on of the flu and I was contemplating having to go to the cities for another week and do it all over again. A friend called from California to challenge me, scold me, and in the midst of this, he lifted my spirit.

It was 7:00 a.m.; I was at my desk when Dr. Julie called. Not normal for her to call at 7 o’clock, much less call at all. I’ve known her for 15 years; on the whole, a jovial slightly wacky doctor tenant. She told me, “My office was not vacuumed last night.” I promised her I would find out why and told her it would be taken care of tonight. She hung on the phone. I said, “Julie, are you ok?” “No” she said; “Jerry, I’m having surgery on December 14th for a brain tumor.” She talked; I listened and prayed…it was good.

I came home early this week. I’m in my third week of feeling lousy with this flu. Four of us have had a battle with this flu. I was sent home, hopefully to finally beat the stuff.

My phone rang and rang--people in different sorts of trouble. The last call was from the wife of a good friend. His cancer is back for the third time. She talked; I listened and prayed.

People need God’s comfort--not Jerry’s, not Judi’s, but the Lord’s. What is good is in Isaiah 40:1; it says: “Comfort, comfort my people, says our God.” God wants to comfort us. It’s reassuring when God sent the Holy Spirit.; He called Him the comforter. Comfort doesn’t just mean a fuzzy, cozy, by-the-fireplace comfort, but a peace and building up of steadfastness for these times. Good news.

Comfort cannot come if we have a guilty conscience. Jesus offers us a gift of complete comfort; a clear conscience. Wow—have you accepted it? Are you all right with your God?

The comforter comes to our side in our trials, lifts our heads, lifts our spirits, pushes us on and says, now take what you learn and share it with others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-11. Read it. Yes, we have work to do. In our sharing with others, it takes our minds and attention off of ourselves and focuses us on others and the Lord. I guess that’s one secret of God’s comfort.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Lack of True Christian Community

My close friend Mack called and asked me an important question: “Do you think fellow Christians have treated Pastor Ted Haggard’s very public sin properly?” It is Mack’s opinion that many Christian leaders have been pharisaical in their response to the situation. He feels they are a poor example of the Christian community and a poor example of Christian forgiveness and restoration.

One of the saddest things I saw was Pastor Haggard, in a car with his wife and children, when reporters pushed a microphone in his face and asked if he had gay sex with a prostitute. Did his wife have any inkling of what was going on? The poor children, their time in school during the next few months will be best described as tough. My heart aches for Pastor Haggard, his wife and children. What he did was a sin, we can’t deny it, but we must pray for forgiveness, restoration and protection.

I fill in for pastor’s who have to be gone for a week or I fill in short-term in the case of sickness or other issues. People will discuss with me opinions or concerns about their past pastor or current pastor, whatever the case.

One common theme is that pastors seem distant from the people. A friend of mine who graduated from seminary two years ago said they are taught to be cautious of relationships inside their congregation.

We the body, put pastors on a pedestal, some pastors love that attention and position. Yes, we expect a higher standard, but with their raised expectations we come to expect perfection. Not possible on this side of heaven. We fail to realize they are just like us, sinners, battling, walking and working out their faith, and many times we don’t do it real well. Yes, even though he is on the pedestal he is a sinner, just like us.

In James 5:16 it says we should “confess our sins to one another” (and to God also, my comment), but today we see little if any confession occurring horizontally - one person to another. Yet, if our pastor or pastor’s wife came to us at the first temptation of a sinful desire, to use drugs (Haggard’s case), have an illicit sexual affair (Haggard’s case) or may have committed such, what would we do?

I came upon a blog entitled It has an interesting insight. I quote from a person responding to an article written on the site.

“Many of the sin issues we see in the lives of Christian leaders reach epic proportions because the body of Christ is not practicing true community. Real community recognizes that pastors are no different than us within the church community. They are fellow brothers subject to the same temptations we are, but while we may allow ourselves the grace of confession to others in the community, we don’t allow pastors the same grace. Pastors know that in most cases, even confessing the slightest sin will get them removed from their role as pastor. I fear that’s a double standard; we hold pastors to too stringent of a standard. They feel the need to cover up any and all things to preserve their jobs. I’ve known pastors blackballed from their denomination for sinning in ways that the ordinary guy in the pew does without even thinking. That kind of bombastic knee jerk reaction perpetuates the problem.

A real community will allow pastors to confess their sins without the fear of life destroying consequences. Yes, all sin has consequences, but if we do not have the “grace” to nip “small” things in the bud before they bloom into monstrosities, then we are setting up our pastor for a major fall.

Almost every pastoral fall begins because the pastor knows that people will overreact. Our congregations treat him as a person apart from us, so why should he think any different? This problem lies at the core of almost every noted pastoral failure of the last century.

We must allow our pastors to be human. We must include them in our community and bear their burdens just we would others. We must not be surprised by our pastor’s sins. We must extend them the same grace we are willing to extend to our “ordinary” brothers and sisters. Only then will we stop the relentless pastoral tragedies that can afflict your church and mine.”

I could not have said I better. In James 5:16 it says, “Confess your sins to one another and you shall be healed.” Does your pastor have a brother he could confess his sins to without fear of rejection? Does his wife have a sister she could confess her sins to without fear of rejection? If not, is our church a true community of believers? Or are we just playing games?

Pray for pastors, families and our churches.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Campaign Ads

Yes, I’m tired of them too. I’ve heard a lot of complaining from a lot of people. We are slowly turning sour and skeptical of the electoral process. Why do they use them--because they work.

Judi and I have been battling the flu the past week giving us “face” time with the TV and all those campaign ads. These ads are not bold-face lies but half-truths, skewed and altered to make one candidate look better or worse using the information in a specially crafted way to get a certain point of view across to us the voters…We the voters play along knowing most of this is a shell game of deception and lies. Accomplishing what? Nothing more than eroding the moral whole of our culture, to the point where honor and truth have little, if any, value.

We are in trouble. Why do they get away with it? Because there is no accountability seemingly on this side of heaven or hell…

To all us liars, (yes, we are part of the problem by allowing this to go on) and in case we’ve forgotten, there is a day of accounting coming. It will be in front of “THE Judge” who knows all the answers. No alligator shoed, shiny suited ACLU lawyer will be there to plead our cause. Only Jesus will plead our case if we are Christian; He’s our advocate, our paraclete at our side taking “the rap” for us. Yes, that’s what’s different. Our advocate before The Judge will pay our penalty. This is good news for liars like me. You see we can shake our head and point fingers at candidates and others for their lies and fully excuse our own. We must all quit lying. Somehow in the process we’ve forgotten two things: we are sinners and a day of accountability will surely come. So all the half-truths, white lies, bald faced lies, skewed, altered and shaded lies will be seen for what they are—lies. This ought to make us quake in our boots.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Quote from William H. Wilmon

"Jesus doesn’t meet our needs, He rearranges them. He cares very little about most things that I assume are my needs and He gives me needs I never would have had if I hadn’t met Jesus. He reorders them.

I used to ask seminarians, “Why are you in seminary?” They’d say, “I like meeting people’s needs” and I’d say, “Whoa! Really? If you try that with people I know, they’ll eat you alive.”

Now, if you’re a pastor in Honduras, it might be ok to define your ministry as meeting needs because most people in Honduras have interesting Biblical needs—food, clothing, housing. But most people in the churches I know get these needs met without prayers so they’ve moved on to “needs” like orgasm, a satisfying career, an enjoyable love life, a positive outlook on life and stuff the Bible has absolutely no interest in."
by William H. Wilmon, Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Those are strong words, and words we all need to hear.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


J. D. Wetterling was a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot in Viet Nam; he grew up on a farm in southwestern Illinois. He went to Viet Nam with three other pilots; J.D. was the only one to come home alive; the other three are on “The Wall” and their bones have become soil in mountains and hills of Viet Nam and Laos. J. D. wrote a book about Viet Nam entitled Son of Thunder, the story of his experiences, and those of his three buddies, as fighter pilots in Viet Nam. I heard it is a great book written by this Christian man.

I drove home last Friday night and J. D. Wetterling was on my mind. What kind of war book is it? Blood and glory, young stud bravado or is it the truth that war hurts and leaves many scars that will always be scars to remind us of our experiences.

It seems only fighter jocks, special forces, generals and colonels write books about wars Buck sergeants, electronics technicians and Air Force mechanics don’t write books and nobody could care less if they did. You see, we are the world behind the scenes, the out of the way ones, quiet and no one noticed what we did except the pilots.

Col. Robin Olds, a Viet Nam fighter pilot says for every pilot who flies, it takes a North Dakota farm boy to be his crew chief to keep the plane flying. I saw them work day and night; they slept on the tarmac using their toolbox for pillows when they were AWAP (AWAP means awaiting parts.) No one saw them cry when their pilot did not come back. It haunts every crew chief and his mechanics; “Did the bird not perform right, was that the reason he didn’t come home?” Those things linger. Scars, I guess. No one has written a book about this and no one ever will.

After so many years, why would I bring this up? I guess in any great endeavor many people contribute mightily and it seems no one notices or cares.

When I began my preaching, I preached at a campground in Cokato. I opened the sermon by giving a test of sorts to the campers. My question was “Who does the work for God?” It was a multiple choice test. The choices were: 1) a woman wiping the nose of a baby, 2) a man cleaning an apartment for a young family, 3) a missionary sharing Christ, 4) a woman cooking supper. I asked the question, not expecting an answer, but one came from a man named Jerry. He was tall and thin, always came late, wore a slouch hat and usually had the smell of alcohol on his breath. He raised his hand and yelled out, “They all are doing the work of God.” Yes, he is right. The sovereign God of the universe uses all people to work for “good of those who love the Lord.” They all are doing the work of God. I Corinthians 10:31 says: "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

Are you one who has given every ounce of devotion in family, business or wherever and no one ever seems to notice? Be encouraged, God notices and He cares about it. Our job is to be obedient to God, aim to please Him in all that we do, and He will bless us in all our unrecognized work. May God get the glory for He alone deserves it!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Why the guys in the Bible study loved Stephen - Acts 7

He was like Jesus:
full of Spirit
full of grace
a bold preacher
loving, forgiving
gave his life for others
he was a common “waiter of tables” like us
a common man full of power

People say to be like Jesus seems impossible but we can be like Stephen.

Kierkegaard, the Danish Christian writer said, “Salvation must come by suffering not power…suffering and power are always linked."

A German priest by the name of Maximillian Kolbe took the place of a man with a family who was to be killed during World War II. He said, “And what use are victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves? Indifference towards the things of God is the deadliest enemy of any soul.”

I quote August Francke of Halle, Germany:
A life changed
A church revived
A nation reformed
A world evangelized

I’ll add: “And the Lord glorified.”

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Other Side of Sam

He is 83 years old; business owner; talkative; belligerent; with a sly smile behind his hardened bravado. We have butted heads over the years; he can be a real pain in the butt but he is honest, truthful and fair.

I knew he was a veteran of World War II; went in at 18, he was infantry in Italy, France, Germany. He wonders why God spared him. His best friend died right beside him; they had been foxhole buddies through most of the war. He was the first squad leader in Dachau concentration camp. His eyes became shiny as he told me that. He said, “Jerry, I saw things a man should never have to see.” As squad leader, he struggled to keep his soldiers from executing on the spot, the German officers who were in charge of the concentration camp. He stopped talking and just looked at the floor…

His head came up with a smile. He changed subjects. He said, “Jerry, do you know I was born in Poland? My parents, my brother and grandmother were escaping Russia when my mother began to have labor pains. They stopped at a farm in Poland. The only room was in the barn. The farmer’s wife went off to get the midwife but before she got back, I was born. January 16, 1923.” He said, “I was born in a barn, like someone else you know” (meaning Jesus). He knows I’m a Christian and Sam is a Jew.

We finished our business. I thanked him for his service to his adopted country. He smiled and said, “It’s a long way from a barn in Poland to Minneapolis.” I guess so.

How many people do we pass each day and yet we know very little if anything about their lives? Lord, slow me up to value each and every soul that comes into my life. If it be your will Lord, bless me with the gift of truly knowing your sons and daughters.

Yes, it is a long way from a barn in Poland to Minneapolis. Eighty three busy years…a long way but the time, yes the time, he said, has flown so fast.

Friday, September 29, 2006

More on Anger... – John 2

When Jesus displayed anger, He was sensitive to the consequences of His display of anger. The money changers, cattle and dove sellers were a needed service for the temple sacrifices to be carried out. People who came from great distances could not bring a proper sacrifice with them. People from different countries needed money changers to make the whole system work…
But…not in the temple where worship would be disturbed by the hum of the marketplace set up inside the temple. Worship services would be distracted by cows, who bellowed, sheep that baaed, and pigeons or doves who cooed. That’s what Jesus was angry about—the disruption of worship.

Notice what Jesus did when He got angry. He did not break the tables, He only over-turned them, and then they could set up business in a proper place. He poured the money on the ground; he did not throw it to a mob. It was their money, and by pouring it on the ground, He sent His message. He took a whip and drove out the cattle and sheep. Most likely they were tied together and could be easily recaptured by their rightful owners. He sent the message but He did not cause hardship for these people. Notice, He only speaks to the people with the doves; He tells them “get them outa here” (my translation). If He flipped over the cages and all the doves broke free, it would have been financial hardship for the supplier of the doves. It was their business and He did not cause them hardship.

If and when we decide to display anger, we need to consider the consequences that will result from our angry display…remember, be “slow to anger and abound in love and faithfulness.”

Brooks and Dunn sing a song called Husbands and Wives; a line in the song says this: “Angry words spoken with haste, what a waste of two lives.” Yes, our angry words spoken in haste may have life-long consequences and leave deep wounds and hurts.

If and when we display anger, be slow to do it…and always consider the consequences…

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What about anger?

I was in a Bible study with some men and we were studying John2:12-25 where Jesus went into the temple and cleared out the money changers and others who were doing business in the temple court. A man asked the question “Is it ever right for Christians to display anger?” The question was not addressed and went unanswered. The question hung in my head; it just wouldn’t go away. I decided to study this question in detail and I will share some of what I’ve learned.

My first question was “Why did Jesus become angry and clear the temple this year?” He obviously had been walking by these people since he was 12 years old. Why this year?

He was acknowledged as Messiah and Prophet by the Lord in the presence of John the Baptist in Chapter One of John. He wore the mantle of the Prophet, King and Messiah. He had the authority to clean out the temple.

What does that mean to us? We have authority and responsibility in our lives also. We are husbands, dads, business owners, church elders, etc. These are our areas of responsibility. If there are cattle and sheep in the narthex of the church, go to the elders; ask them to clean it out. Why? Because it is their area of responsibility and they need to do what they must do. We can’t go through life popping off at everything—we need to be cautious when and if we display anger.

Why cautious? Because I believe God is cautious and gracious. The first two references in the Bible about God’s anger are the same in Exodus and in Numbers. It says the same thing in both places: “The Lord is slow to anger and abounds in love and faithfulness.” Do we do more yelling than abounding? This sounds rich to me, “slow to anger,” oh how Jesus has been slow and patient with me. I have experienced the “abounding” of the Holy Spirit, full, deep and rich in love and faithfulness. Oh Lord, you have been slow and patient with me. Thank you for your “abounding” love and faithfulness.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Marriage--some points to consider

This past weekend I had the privilege of giving the message at a young couple’s wedding in Cokato. I would like to share with you a portion of what I called "Seven points as a foundation for marriage."

1. In the book of Jeremiah it says, “A man’s life is not his own.” This doesn’t squash us or suppress us but allows us to grow together in peace. Every decision we make for the rest of our lives must consider the other person—no selfish pursuits but exhibit love for each other.

2. Marriage is not a 50-50 proposition. If you believe in a 50-50 marriage, you are always holding something back. Instead, it should be 100%-0%--giving all, expecting nothing in return. Everything is a blessing as you love deeply and forgive completely.

3. Each of you has a job to make the other person all that they can be with the gifts God has given them.

4. Quoting the Brooks & Dunn song Husbands and Wives: “Angry words spoken in haste, what a waste of two lives.” Remember what our Lord says, “Be slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” If that is the Lord’s plan, it better be our plan. The Apostle Paul said we need to have the attitude of building up rather than tearing down.

5. Pray that you will have a sense of wonder about each other all the days of your life. Wonder, expectation, and a vision of the future that will last until your dying day. Avoid becoming “two lonely people looking like houses where nobody lives” (from the same Brooks & Dunn song).

6. This point requires action. Do not go to bed angry with one another. Commit to this—a 15 second kiss at the end of the day no matter what! Don’t say that you don’t have time because 15 seconds amounts to 1/5760th of a day.

7. Choose this day the type of home you’re going to have. May your home have more joy than sadness; more laughter than tears; more forgiveness than bitterness and resentment. We will have some sadness, some tears but what we do with the rest of our lives is our choice. Choose joy, choose laughter, choose forgiveness. If you have this kind of home you will be blessed with the presence of family and friends and will thank God for His goodness.

Thanks Josh & Teresa for the privilege of being a part of your special day!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Noticing the Barn Swallow Ballet

I have a lot of grass to mow—too much. I have planned to fence in some of it so when I’m at the farm full-time I can have livestock and I won’t have as much to mow.

I do like mowing, however. One reason I like mowing is when I start up the mower, it seems like its “all bells alarm” for the barn swallows to go into action. As I mow, I move bugs out of the grass and the barn swallows swoop and dive and eat the bugs they expend much energy—all powered by “bug power,” a great alternative energy source.

Barn swallows are the fighter jets of the bird world. Dark blue, almost black, on the head and back, iridescent in the sunlight; tawny brown on the underside, they miss my head by 1 ½ feet as they harvest bugs and put on a display or aerial ballet only barn swallows can perform.

I have stood in awe of man-made fighter jets in my Air Force experience on flight lines with exotic names like Undorn Tiachung and Utaipao but no flight is as beautiful as barn swallows eating bugs in Winfield Township.

The 20 or so barn swallows live in the pole building and I don’t bother them and they seem to trust me. Do they come to the same place each year? I wonder if they are descendants of the barn swallows who nested in the old dairy barn when I was a kid. Their nests were 2 feet above my head in the alley of the dairy barn; I never hurt or disturbed them. If they are descendants, they have paid me back by being the most efficient bug harvesters and do it with beauty and aplomb. The aerial display an only be described as spectacular.

Today as I was mowing, bugs rose around the mower. I looked ahead to see two barn swallows flying towards me at eye level, full after-burners, only peeling off, one on each side to miss my head by 18 inches. Their aerodynamically designed bodies, perfect for what only God designed them to do. I saw the dark blue and black bodies with a tawny underside flash by as they rolled right and left just missing my head.

When I was younger, I didn’t notice these things—free things, beautiful inspiring things in my presence. I call these things the “margins of life.” We need to live there more often enjoying the beauty of flight, the ballet of the barn swallows, and all this powered by bugs. Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-26: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable then they?”

He notices and provides for them. What a privilege to notice their beauty and grace. Thank you Lord for another reminder. Thank you Lord for your provision.

Fall in Minnesota

Fall is in the air in late August in Renville County, Minnesota. One day can be 95 degrees with high humidity, true essence of a summer day; the next day can be cool and cloudy with signs of fall all around.

During the summer, the flocks of geese down at the lake bottom use our pond north of our house as their bed and breakfast or possibly better defined as a short term day spa. Ma and Pa Goose let the yearlings take care of the goslings as they come north for ½ hour respite from the kids. Only the parents come in the summer. They honk, play, chase, dine and clean themselves, and eat weeds off the bottom with their black and white butts pointed up in the air.

Today while I was out mowing, the whole flock came—mom and dad (the biggest leading the way), yearlings next and the “no longer goslings” in the rear. I listened as they came over the corn field towards Johnny’s place. Only a few honks—final approach to the pond. Line up on the goose runway and all drop into the pond with a dignified, resplendent splash.

I wondered, is this their first foray as a group out of the lake bottom, a training flight to get everyone on the same page for the big flight south. Or was it a mini-vacation at Seehusens’ Goose Spa on their way north to glean wheat from the Bratsch boys’ wheat field on the Schroer farm? When geese move as a group, it’s one of the first signs of fall.

Blake and Jane’s edible beans have begun to turn yellow, a beautiful bend of yellow and green as they wave in the wind. When I left last Sunday morning to preach near Annandale, they were still green. I come back five days later to find them changing color. Their sugar beet field looks as nice as a beet field could ever look. Early harvest is planned at the beet plant in anticipation of one of the largest crops ever.

The clouds have started to drop mist. I put on an old sweatshirt to ward off the cool west breeze and contemplate six months of “putting on” to stay dry and warm.

Fall in Minnesota is beautiful. Harvest season a demonstration of God’s blessings upon us. Once again His hand has provided.

I hunch my shoulders, pull down my cap, lean into the wind and go to work. And I smile.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Prayer for Uncle Ted

Danny is a man in our men’s Bible study. To the best of my knowledge, he is the first believer in his extended family. Danny has faced many trials in his young life. He is an over comer, has had a drastic change in lifestyle and conduct, a lover of the Word, doer of the Word, a pleasure to be around.

His Uncle Ted (in his 50’s) lives alone. He had a stroke and lay on the floor for four days before anyone found him. Uncle Ted ended up in the hospital in a coma. The prognosis was not good—an estimated 3 weeks in the hospital, then to a nursing home for rehabilitation with the possibility of never leaving the nursing home.

Danny felt led to go to the hospital and lay-on hands and pray for his uncle. The 25 mile drive to the hospital was filled with doubt about what he should do, but he pushed on in obedience even with these doubts hounding him.

When he arrived at the hospital and told his cousins what God had put on his heart, they told him they didn’t want him in the room but that he could remain in the waiting room. He waited and prayed.

Hours later he asked again if he could see his uncle, pray over him and lay on hands; reluctantly, his wish was granted. He prayed believing God would heal his uncle.

Last week we were told the story of Uncle Ted, so we prayed. This week Danny was asked about Uncle Ted. Danny said, “He walked with his walker to McDonalds to get an ice cream cone!” What?! “Yes,” Danny said, “his speech is even coming back!”

Goosebumps ran up the back of my arms. God is still in the business of healing people, transforming lives, and Danny continues to share that good news.

Driving home from the cities I called a friend whose son-in-law is battling cancer and has experienced a set back. We have to be careful, this good news of Uncle Ted’s recovery could be unsettling, leading to questions and doubt of why God is doing that for Uncle Ted and not for us?

I wanted to bring hope. A reminder and evidence of God’s healing and transforming power but many times it doesn’t happen on our time line. Uncle Ted’s story was accepted with tears of joy. Oh Lord, grant us patience while we wait for your timing and your healing. We wait with expectation for your coming. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Thirty Short Years

I recently came across the following piece which was written on October 4, 1991, 25 years to the day of my joining the Air Force. It was written with consideration of the brevity of life, the universal nature of man’s problems, and the only solution: Jesus Christ.

"The twenty-three mile ride to Willmar in the ’60 Chevrolet pick-up was uneventful. The conversation was sparse and measured. At best, my Dad looked troubled.

It had to be hard to take your youngest son to the bus station to go off to the Air Force. The year was 1966; Viet Nam was in full swing. My pacifist, farmer, father didn’t consider it a war worth fighting. I thought the heaviness of his heart was due to the fact that I wouldn’t listen to his side of the story, but I was wrong.

We waited for the bus passing time in idle chatter and then he said it: “Thirty years, Jerry, thirty years.” He said, “Thirty years ago I married your Mom and after today, I’m alone again.”

When you are 18, thirty years seems like a long time. When you are 44, thirty years seems much shorter.

He was a good looking young farmer; strong, with big hands; the youngest son of a Lutheran German immigrant farmer. She was the oldest daughter of the same stock: German, solid, and Catholic. They had to love one another for a Lutheran and a Catholic to marry in 1936 was not something taken lightly in our farming town.

In the late thirties, times were improving. By 1941, they had a daughter and a son. Dry weather and hail challenged their perseverance, but crop prices were getting better. They lived through the Armistice Day storm, “just barely,” he said, “but we made it.”

He would remember the Day of Infamy and in his mind, FDR was rock solid. At the start of the war, he was 32 and farming; he never got called. His boyhood friend, Rudy Trapp, went to Europe—he never returned. He would reminisce, “with Rudy Trapp in left field and me in center, not many balls got by us.” And he would add for emphasis, “You better believe it!”

By 1947 they had another daughter and another son. Machinery was easier to get, crop prices were getting better. Frost, dry spells, hail, good crops, bad crops, good prices, bad prices were their companions. A growing family kept them busy.

“It started as a pain in her ribs,” he said, and five years later, he buried his wife. I was young but I remember it. He never remarried; “Pearl was the one for me, why should I get married again,” was his feeling.

The two older children married. Grandchildren began to fill his life but time continues to march on. His hair began to leave his head, what was left turned from brown to grey. He was a combination of boisterous and quiet; opinionated, belligerent and gentle. He always seemed to be missing a part of his life. As I got older, I realized what it was—it was Mom.

The bus arrived, my mind was spinning. The drive back to the farm in the ’60 Chevy pick-up must have been lonely—really lonely. Only thirty short years, he said, thirty short years.

He often said he wanted to die in his carrot patch. God granted him his wish. There was no one there when the angels came. He was alone except for his faithful dog, Butch standing guard.

Lord, slow me up. Make me appreciate my family now. Continue to use this past to teach me. Hold me securely. I have hope; I look ahead. With Jesus, I will not be alone.

James 4:13-14: Now listen you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

Jesus said in Matthew 28, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Attending a Great Event—The end of wretchedness

Friday I attended a memorial service for my 101 year old Uncle Francis who died in Arizona last winter.

The memorial service was not the great event I’m talking about. The great event was at the memorial service when a woman proclaimed an end to the wretchedness of man. No, she didn’t stride to the front of church and make a formal announcement; no, she just slid it in John Newton’s hymn “Amazing Grace”. She changed the line “Amazing grace that saved a wretch like me” to “Amazing grace that saved a soul like me.”

Now I realize John Newton’s Amazing Grace is not the inspired word of God but its timeless message is true. Oh, Old Beef here doesn’t like being called a wretch either. I mean, on the whole, I’m a good ol’ soul, not too threatening. Oh, I tell a lie now and then, and I lust after my neighbors wife, but at least I’m not a wretched drunk like Bubba and I have not had an abortion like that woman who lives on Highway 71 while all the time I denying I’m a glutton…

As she sang, we cows and bulls of Bashon (read Amos Chapter 4) didn’t even squirm in the pews. We didn’t even belch or much less chew our cud. No, we all just sat there and went on being our “good ol’ soul” selves.

God help us. God doesn’t grade on a curve. All sin is sin to a Holy God. Denying the truth doesn’t make it go away. We are all wretches at the foot of the cross. We should all be found face first in blood stained dust at the foot of the cross not changing words to timeless hymns to make ourselves feel better. The only way we will be found clean is by the shed blood of Jesus Christ and that alone. God help us wretches. We need your help Lord now, more than ever. We hear the hoof beats on the horizon but we are not about to listen or change (Isaiah 66:4).

Friday, August 04, 2006

Caller I.D.-ing the Lord

Caller I.D. bugs me. Why do people need it? When I ask, most people dance around my question. I believe the real truth is—we don’t want to talk to certain people.

One defense of Caller I.D. is that there are times when we need our privacy, our time alone. May I suggest if this is true, don’t pay the monthly Caller I.D. charge, and just don’t answer the phone!

Why should this bother me? Let’s say you are a member of a service organization and need to line up workers for the yearly local celebration. You call someone; no answer; after 3 calls you find yourself talking to an answering machine and leave a message. You call again one week later to confirm if Bubba is going to be able to work at the celebration but again get no answer. I highly suspect you are a victim of “Caller I.D. itis”—probably it’s symptomatic of a fear of mine that some people just don’t want to talk to Old Jer!

In Isaiah 66:4 it says, “So I also will choose harsh treatment for them. And I will bring upon them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.”

How many times has the Lord called and we chose not to answer. (Caller Him.) When He spoke we chose not to listen.

Remember there is a limit to God’s patience (Romans 1:20-32). The more we Caller I.D. Him when He calls, the less sensitive our conscience becomes and pretty soon we are going through our rituals (read Isaiah 66) with no feeling or passion. We become cold hearted with a backslapping, smiling, two-faced demeanor. God help us!

Who does the Lord esteem? Isaiah 66:2 says, “This is the one I esteem, he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”

Maybe we need to be a little less protective of our privacy and “our own time” and tremble at His Word.

Oh Lord, forgive me for turning away; keep my conscience alive. Give me the power to obey and not Caller I.D. you when you call. Amen

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Old Farmer and His Son

I saw them both at a distance, looking at the commercial displays at Yellow Medicine County Fair in Canby. It would be obvious to any observer that they enjoyed each others company. The old man, in his seventies, was a big man with a big smile (and a handshake to match) was wheelchair bound. The younger man pushed the wheelchair.

“What a beautiful day” he said unsolicited as he shook my hand. The young man just smiled.

I asked the old man, “How long ya' been in the chair?”

He said, “Since 1953.”

I was stunned, in a wheel chair over 53 years and yet upbeat and positive. I asked, “What happened?”

He said, “I came home from the Korean War, made it through all that stuff without major injury. Then I found myself a Danish girlfriend from Tyler; our young lives were busy. We were at a roller skating rink having a good time, when I got so hot I could not cool down. It was late fall, I told my girlfriend I would lie down in the car to cool off. The next thing I knew, I woke up at the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis. I was paralyzed from the waist down with polio…”

He spoke with no bitterness or regret. The young man, who was the youngest of his four sons, smiled and nodded in agreement as dad told his story.

I asked the old man, “What did you do in your life?”

He smiled a broad smile and said, “I farmed 850 acres.”

“What?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said, “The only reason I pulled it off was because I had a good wife and good sons.” As he told his story, all three of us had tears in our eyes. He told how they made provision for him to work while the wife and boys bore most of the brunt of the hard work. Over the years some feeling and minimal use has returned to his legs. “I can get around on “Kenny Sticks” (crutches to us) he said with a sly smile.

I said, “That’s quite an accomplishment.” His reply was that all the credit goes to his wife and boys and to the Lord.

The old farmer said he could never borrow money from the bank so his wife would always go to ask for the money. The banker told his wife they had to get on a computerized accounting system to continue borrowing money from the bank. The wife told the banker, “Forget about that; I don’t understand that stuff.”

The banker replied, “You’re right, I don’t understand it either; the hell with it” and gave her the loan. The old man said they still borrow money from that bank. He laughed and smiled. I could see he enjoyed every little victory in life…what an attitude! What an inspiration.

The old farmer said, “Doc told me we have to change some things. I’ve walked all these years with my one crutch and my hand on my wife’s shoulder and now her shoulder is wearing out. Getting old, I guess, but some things have to change,” he said with a smile on his face.

The old farmer said to his son, “We better get going or Mom will think we’re out chasing women.” The son threw his head back, rolled his eyes, smiled and said, “Yes Dad, we’d better get going.”

What a privilege to meet these two; what an example, an inspiration. Oh how I’d love to meet his wife! In the midst of darkness and trial some people rise and conquer. They have. In Romans it says, “We are more than conquerors.” I think I just met two who are more than conquerors and they don’t even know it. To God be the glory for lives well lived!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Excerpt from Erwin Raphael McManus

The following is an excerpt from Erwin Raphael McManus’ book entitled: an {unstoppable force}.

The Ten Commandments are not heaven’s standards. They are not the standards by which the angels live. They are not God’s attempt to pull us up beyond the human into the spiritual. The Ten Commandments are the lowest possible standard of humane living. Stop and consider what they demand of us. Maybe it would help if we just rephrased them in everyday language. Here goes: “Hey, could you stop killing each other? Oh, yeah, by the way, could you not steal each other’s stuff? And it would be really helpful if you wouldn’t lie to each other, either. And here’s a thought, could you not take other people’s husbands and wives and just, sort of, like, keep your own?”

Upon reflection, these are unreasonable, right? How could anyone be expected to live up to these? Only God could do that, right?

Why don’t we get it? Anything below these standards is choosing to live like an animal, a barbarian. The Ten Commandments don’t call us to the extraordinary spiritual life; they call us to stop dehumanizing one another. The law is the minimum of what it means to be human. The reason the law condemns us is not because of our inability to live up to an extraordinary measure. We couldn’t even pass the test with a D. When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, he was establishing a nation for himself. God was giving them the tools to form an ethos that, through honoring him, would result in the nurturing and elevation of the human spirit.

Can you imagine a nation in which simple things like honoring your parents actually happened? A nation in which people were honest and upright in their business endeavors? Can you imagine a nation in which you could leave your possessions outside and no one would take them? In which you could leave your wife with a friend and he would not take her? Can you imagine a society in which no one is slandered, gossiped about, or falsely accused? And that’s without even looking at the first four commandments.

God gave us a map for a healthy society, and the map was not a picture of the ideal but a definition of the minimum. The same was true for the church. God was establishing a new people, a new nation. In the same way, he established a basis from which this new culture would draw its ethos. In a word, it could be summarized as grace. Grace deals with the generosity of God, his gracious work in the hearts of those who would turn to him. Yet many times grace is misunderstood or even cheapened at times. Grace has been seen as the liberty to live beneath the law rather than the capacity to soar beyond the law.”

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Old Soldier Talks

On Saturday we had a family reunion in Danube. The descendants of the five Seehusen brothers who came to Minnesota from Germany met to tell stories and visit.

One of my aunts was “Gustie”; she had three sons who served in World War II. Gustie’s biggest worries were that her sons would be killed or that they would kill some of our relatives. We were told she prayed fervently and all three sons came home.

One of hers sons was Gust. He served in the infantry, spent 4 months in combat and was captured by the Germans. Gust never talked about his experience much, not until yesterday. Gust said he never talked about it and still has dreams about fighting Germans (he is 82) but now understands it’s important to talk. You see, Gust’s grandson lost an arm, part of his other hand, and suffered many shrapnel wounds as a result of his service in Iraq.

Gust doesn’t brag or pound his chest with trumped up bravado but his sharing was to the point and blunt. He was in a battle for 4-1/2 days for a town. He was one of six who survived out of 118. He was later given the Bronze Star for his efforts in this battle. As a P.O.W. he was insulted because of his very German heritage.

His 21st birthday took place during those 4 months but he didn’t realize it until he was getting his first shower and shave in a month. When he felt his face and realized he had a mustache, he decided not to shave it off and has that mustache to this day. That mustache serves as a reminder of God’s goodness and protection. Gust said, “God was with me all the way.” Words of a warrior, former P.O.W., husband, father, grandfather, farmer, policeman…grateful to be alive and free. Gust has a lot to teach us—I hope he keeps talking.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Burger Stand Discussion

This weekend I worked at the American Legion burger booth at Danube Fun Days. The men who are active in the Legion are Viet Nam era guys. Many of us have sons in their 20’s and 30’s.

We had many interesting discussions during the slow times that night. My wife had been in Willmar and called me on the cell phone to tell me she witnessed the military escort returning the body of Kyle Miller to Willmar. I shared this with the guys and it became very quiet.

Miller, who was killed last week in Iraq, was the 40th person with Minnesota ties killed in Iraq. One man said that even though 40 young men have died, and each life is valuable, it seemed like that wasn’t very many people to die in this war.

Now the discussion picked up speed. One man said 40 men to die is 40 too many. That is true. Another man said, “We get shook up about 40 men dying yet each year in Minnesota 14,000 plus babies are aborted and no one seems to get shook up about that.” More eyebrows were raised; and a man whose son just received his Master’s Degree but has no military service told his son, “I’d rather bury you in a coffin draped with the American flag than bury you because you got drunk and died in a car accident.” (Alcohol related driving deaths in Minnesota were 567 in 2004.)

That’s what I like about Western Minnesota, German, Dutch and Czech farmers and veterans-- they get to the bottom line really quickly.

Yes, it is something to think about. May no more young men have to die. In the meantime, may we value each life so highly that none born or unborn would be brutalized or forgotten. Please don’t forget!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Weekend Home Makeover

This past extended weekend was declared a “home makeover attack weekend” at our daughter’s town home in Orono. We patched, painted, and mounted a mirror, handrails, towel racks, set up a bed, rearranged rooms, made new TV. cables, and more. A good weekend.

The neighbors were interested in what was going on. One of Katie’s neighbors is Sarah, a nurse practitioner, a Wisconsin dairy farmer’s daughter who happens to be German. Knowing this fact, I feel it is appropriate to mention she dropped by with a 12 pack of Leinenkugel Beer early in the weekend to aid in our weekend tasks. It was appreciated.

She stopped by on “the 4th” to see if anything was possibly accomplished (she is an optimist). Possessing this great sense of humor, I asked her what was the best lesson she learned from her childhood on the farm. When she answered, she did not hesitate to say “I learned how to work hard and do it all with a sense of humor.” You can take the farm girl out of Fond du Lac, but you can’t take Fond du Lac out of the girl! She went on to tell us of growing up on that farm and how no matter how hard they worked, her dad made it challenging yet fun. As parents we all want our children to be good workers. Work is a rewarding part of our life. It was instituted before The Fall (Genesis 2:15). Work is a blessing. A mistaken idea is that work was the curse after The Fall but it wasn’t; the soil was cursed (Genesis 3:17).

As parents, oh how we want our children to be good workers. But what did they hear from us—constant complaining, whining about our work. Forgive us Lord for our petty whining nature. To have work is a blessing; may we not forget it.

The old German dairy farmer had it right. Work hard; enjoy it. That’s a blessing. It must have because his daughter said it’s the greatest lesson she learned. She is a hard working, competent nurse-practitioner with a sly sense of humor and an iridescent attitude. If she was here, I bet she’d say “Thank you Dad.”

Monday, July 03, 2006

A Quote from the cover of my Bible

This is a quote that I've written inside the cover of my Bible. I can't say it any better than this.

"We give ourselves to prayer. We preach a gospel that saves to the uttermost, and witness to its power. We do not argue about worldliness, we witness; we do not discuss philosophy; we preach the gospel. We do not speculate about the destiny of sinners; we pluck them as brands from the burning fire. We ask no man’s patronage. We beg no man’s money. We fear no man’s frown; let no man join us who is afraid, and we want none but those who are saved, sanctified and aflame with the fire of the Holy Ghost."

Samuel Chadwick

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Road Pavement

My friend, Jim Lippert shared a story with me on Saturday after Bible study with my German-Lutheran brothers. "A man in his 60’s was preparing for his upcoming retirement. He was making sure his 401K was in the proper place, his IRA’s were in order, earning to their maximum capacity. He was getting ready to enjoy his retirement. BUT God had other plans. The Lord called him home to heaven before he could retire. The man said to Saint Peter, “Since I couldn’t enjoy my retirement, could I take a memento with me to heaven? Saint Peter said he could, and the man brought a bar of gold with him to heaven.

Upon his arrival in heaven, someone said to him “Why did you bring road pavement with you?”
…Huh? Road pavement? Yes, in heaven the streets will be paved with gold (Revelations 21:21).

What man values so highly, God uses as road pavement! What a God! What a Savior! What a Lord!

Luke 16:14-15. The Pharisees, who loved money heard all this (previous 13 verses of Luke 16) and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”

What is in your life that you value more than your relationship with Jesus?

March on church, march on.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Meet Myrtle from "Mrs. Beef"

Let me tell you about Myrtle. Myrtle is the sweet, lovely lady who used to live across the street from us when our children were growing up. She’s the one where the children would always visit to get candy, see pictures and hear stories of her family, and always learn more about Jesus; she was everyone’s “adopted Grandma.” And what a testimony she is. If you would see Myrtle when she was out walking, Myrtle never waved and I believe everyone knew why--she was busy praying for everyone that lived in the houses that she passed. She prayed for everyone in the neighborhood by name every day and continues to do so today.

One day Beef received a phone call from Myrtle. She knew that he had a men’s Bible study that met once a week in our home and she told him about someone that was in desperate need of help. She told Beef he needed to call this young man immediately and invite him to his group and she would be praying for them and hung up. It made no difference that Beef did not know this young man but Myrtle did and she knew that God wanted this young man on His team! Even if most people had given up on him, it was no surprise to Myrtle that this man would become a happy, vibrant Christian who loves the Lord and has even participated in several mission trips sharing that love with others in need. Myrtle’s faith is unstoppable!

Myrtle has a vision—she takes seriously Christ’s command to us to “Go and make disciples of all the world.” Her single-handed (NO, I should say FOLDED-hands!) prayer ministry and been her mission all her life. She is fulfilling her purpose. Read on…

This weekend I was at a wedding of one of the neighbor kids and what a delightful surprise to see Myrtle. She is now living in Albert Lea, is close to 90 years old, extremely tiny and walking with a walker BUT she is not just curled up in a chair at the nursing home, playing cards, or knitting or sleeping; she has a RADIO MINISTRY!! A call in show where she prays for people!! How many of us will be doing anything close to that when we are her age? (How many of us do anything close to that TODAY???) Let Myrtle’s vision be a challenge for you!!

~ Mrs. Beef

Sunday, June 11, 2006

What's Happening?

Next weekend is Father’s Day. May we take some time to consider the following facts?

1. On any Sunday morning in America, all churches, all age groups, most denominations, attendance figures:61% women, 39% men in the pews.
2. In 2005, it was the first year in the U.S.A. that more women than men were ordained as pastors.
3. One out of four married women attend church without her husband
4. Ninety percent of American men believe in God; 5 out of 6 call themselves Christian, 2 out of 6 attend church on Sunday.
5. Data from Brookings Institution Policy Brief #5, out of wedlock births for whites: 1965 – 3%; 1990 – 18%; 2000 – 27.1%. The rate is rising faster in the white ethnic group than any other group.
6. Last years’ Fathers’ Day lead story in the Minneapolis Star & Tribune—gay marriages, gay adoption.
7. School boys in every category, every group are falling behind.
8. College students: 3 out of 5 are girls
9. Christina Hoff Sommers, PhD. wrote a book entitled Raising Boys said, “It is a bad time to be a boy in America.”
10. Custody cases for custody of children: uncontested cases—men get custody 10% of time; Contested cases—men get custody 15% of the time.
11. More women than men get post-graduate degrees. Jewish rabbinical students –35% women.
12. 90% of boys raised in church will abandon the church by their 20th birthday. Many never to return.

The previous information taken from Church for Men website (, Whistleblower Magazine, June 2006; Brookings Institute Studies; and a personal interview with Arnie Engelby, Executive Director, Resource Center for Fathers and Families, Minneapolis, Minn.

As Christians, does any of the previous information bother us? Slumber on church—even while our own flesh and blood goes to hell!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Seven Things for Graduates to Remember

On May 28, 2006 I spoke at Bunde Christian Reformed Church in Bunde, MN and made the following points especially for the graduates.

1. “Life gets complicated once you get past 18” from the song The Class of ’57 by the Statler Brothers. Ecclesiastes 12:1 – “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come.” Life does get complicated, remember your Creator.

2. From a song by Joe South entitled, “These Are Not My People”, I quote “With your credit card and your good name, they will draw you like a moth to the flame and throw you away like last weeks’ magazine. It’s been a gas but I think I’m going to pass. These are not my people, no, no, these are not my people, and it looks like the end my friend, it looks like the end.”

The world will use you, abuse you, and throw you away. Be aware but not afraid of “the world”. Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid”. He also said, “Go into the world and make disciples.” As you go, be aware of Jesus prayer in John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you be protected from the evil one.” Go into all the world and make disciples! Be aware but not afraid.

3. This too shall pass. All is temporary this side of heaven—our life, our trials, our suffering and tribulation and even our joy. Psalm 75:2-4. God is in control of everything.

4. If your only goal in life is to have the biggest pile of stuff, it will not satisfy. Luke 9:25 “You may gain the whole world but lose your soul.” There is nothing wrong with wealth but it does not satisfy.

5. Be honest in all things; most importantly, be honest with yourself. Jeremiah 5:1, 11-13. In Luke 15:17, the parable of the prodigal son says, “He came to his senses”—his moment of truth. He got up out of the pig pen and went home. He told himself the truth.

6. Always be generous and thankful—in spirit, attitude and with your time and talents. II Corinthians 9:6-15 and Acts 17:25…”He gives all men life and breath and everything else”. If you live a grateful life, it will be a blessing of unmeasured goodness.

7. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, the inspired Word of God through King Solomon, the world’s richest and wisest man…”Now all has been heard and here is the conclusion of the matter. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing whether good or evil.”

Have “awesome reverence” for Almighty God in all things. Live your life in such a way that you will need not fear the day when all hidden things will be revealed. With God’s grace, live vibrant, transformed, risk-taking lives to the Glory of the Lord for He will be with you always.

May God bless you and keep you!
Jerry Seehusen
May 28, 2006

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Our Quiet Nests

One Sunday after I preached, I spent about 1 ½ hours visiting with hurting, lonely and suffering Christians and because of that, I am concerned. How did these people from inside and outside the church get in this predicament? We (Christians) need to get out of our comfort zones. John Calvin (an early reformer) said, “We murmur against God, if He does not grant us a quiet nest.” The American church has become in many ways our “quiet nest”. And in our quiet nests we have become so comfortable that we have fallen asleep. We seldom “Go into all the world and make…” (Matthew 28) but rather than going, we sit inside our churches and every once in awhile dangle some “attractive” bait out the window (a special program or service) and we hope someone passing by will see it and possibly come in to our quiet nest and enjoy the benefits of “our” quiet nest.

Our God given purpose is to go, to minister inside and outside our church. We were not saved to be cleaned up and put on display in some museum. We were saved to go into the world with all its sin and misery and be the sweet fragrance of Christ to a hurting world.

We are sitting in our quiet nests, slapping each other on the back while a suffering world around us goes to hell. We are in deeper trouble than we realize or want to admit.

Matthew 28:16-20
2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Friday, May 19, 2006

Another day for men old before their time

Early one morning about a week and a half ago, I was at my desk at work checking the security logs, making schedules for the maintenance men, checking the cleaner log and learning the new soap dispensers don’t work like they should. I check email and notice I have one from “Bossman”, a former neighbor boy who is now an Army Ranger on his second tour in the Middle East doing the tough assignments Army Rangers do. His email is a light-hearted answer to my inquires about his girl friend who is a college softball pitcher in the southeast regionals in Georgia.

This week I had more typical days at the office: problems, appointments, etc. At one of my appointments my businessman friend asked me to talk to one of his employees whose husband had cancer surgery. “She needs to talk to someone” he said. The day goes on with its inherent problems.

That evening I talked to our son Andy; he asked if I’d gotten an email from “Bossman” that day. I had not and Andy proceeded to tell me about the message he’d received. Bossman’s friend had gotten shot in the face and did not make it. They pulled the team out and sent them back to the base camp where tomorrow Bossman will be in the Honor Guard for his fallen friend…

And I thought I had problems. Young men and young women put their lives on the line every day to protect you and me.

In Revelations 19 Jesus will lead out the Armies of Heaven to fight the last battle—victory will be guaranteed so no longer “young men will need to die in battle and those left behind will not feel old before their time.”

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

“Others May, You Cannot"

G.D. Watson, 1845-1924, was a Wesleyan Methodist minister and evangelist based in Los Angeles, California. His evangelistic campaigns took him to England, the West Indies, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and Korea. He also wrote several books. This article was originally published in pamphlet form (from Good News Publishers).

"Those who would really be like Jesus will be called to a life of sacrifice."

"If God has called you to be really like Jesus, He will draw you to a life of crucifixion and humility, and put upon you such demands of obedience, that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.

"Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful may push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans, but you cannot do it: and if you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

"Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their success, of their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

"Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence on Him, that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury.

"The Lord may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in obscurity, because He wants you to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him and get the credit of it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more precious, He may let others get the credit for the work which you have done, and thus make your reward ten times greater when Jesus comes.

"The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over. So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own.

"He may not explain to you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in His dealings with you. But if you absolutely see yourself to be His…slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love, and bestow upon you many blessings which come only to those who are in the inner circle.

"Settle it forever, then that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that He does not seem to use with others. Now when you are so possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of Heaven."

Minnesota Katrina Relief Project

This is from “Mrs. Beef” and I just want to share a little about an event which we experienced Sunday evening. We were invited to attend the Minnesota Katrina Relief Benefit Concert at Dassel-Cokato. Many people that we know were recently involved in helping victims of Hurricane Katrina, including several men from the Bible Study that Jerry is involved in.

It was really moving to see the slide show from Mississippi but even more touching was hearing the testimonies of those people who were there serving God. They proved that God will use anybody of any age with any (or no) gifts to serve Him and to enlarge His kingdom.

Another thing that was so awesome for me was to see men boldly proclaiming their love of the Lord! Praise God! Keep those men growing for God!!

If you are interested in more information about the Katrina relief project, go to: They have scheduled week-long mission trips there every month for the rest of the year. They say we’ll be so blessed by going and will probably want to go again. Should we give it a try???

Mrs. Beef

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Who sinned; this man or his parents? –John 9:1-7

A friend shared with me about a man with a very aggressive form of cancer who attends a Bible study. His cancer has come back again and he is facing a battle. He stopped coming to the Bible study. I asked his friend why and he said he stopped coming because someone at the Bible study said he was sick because he had committed some grievous sin.

We need to be careful when we decide to play “mini-god” and make pronouncements that hurt and damage someone’s spirit or faith; especially someone in the throws of battling cancer or any other major issue.

In John 9:1-7, Jesus passes by a man born blind from birth and the disciples asked Jesus “Did this man sin or his parents, that he was born blind?” In verse three, Jesus answers “Neither has this man sinned nor his parents but that the works of God should be displayed in him.” (From Jerry’s combined translation) Neither sinned; he was born blind so God could display his powerful, wonderful, healing power. If a specific act of sin was the cause of sickness and cancer, we would be sick all the time and have cancer all the time. If we belong to Christ, our sins are forgiven. Why do we think God grades sin on a curve? Obviously, they think the man with cancer must have committed a more grievous sin and therefore, deserves God’s punishment! All sin separates us from the pure and holy God, not just the ones we judge to be grievous. (Grievous sins are those sins we find objectionable in other people but never bother to see them in ourselves.) “To judge ourselves is our duty, to judge others is our sin.” (Matthew Henry)

God help us. And He has. His Son Jesus died for us to make us free from being sniveling, finger pointing mini-gods. In Jesus name we’re free. Amen

Commentary from the Life Application Bible: “A common belief in Jewish culture was that calamity or suffering was the result of some great sin. But Christ used this man’s suffering to teach about faith and to glorify God. We live in a fallen world, where good behavior is not always rewarded and bad behavior not always punished. Therefore, innocent people sometimes suffer. If God took suffering away whenever we asked, we would follow Him for comfort and convenience not out of love and devotion. Regardless of the reasons for our suffering, Jesus has the power to help us deal with it. Don’t ask God “why did this happen to me?” Instead ask God to give you a deeper perspective and strength to get through the trial."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Greatness of God

Our Bible study was in John when we came across the verse in John 14:12: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.” Usually today in Bible studies we “skate” over such verses we deem to have too much hyperbole or are too complicated. We have a lot of newer Christians in the Bible study and I felt we must address this verse and not skate over it. Unless they think Jesus may be talking through his hat.

At first glance do you feel Jesus was laying it on a little heavy when he said this? His followers would do greater things than Him.

Let’s look at it a little differently. Jesus in His world ministry possibly never worked outside a 50 mile radius in his three year ministry. How many people did he heal or raise from the dead? Hundreds or thousands maybe? We don’t really know because not every thing He did was recorded in scripture. Let’s just take a look at one thing: modern eye glasses.

In Jesus day if you had sight problems your only hope was to cope or pray for a miracle. Today we have eye glasses; we take them off and we can’t see very well at all. Put them back on and instantaneous 20/20 vision (if everything is up-to-date). Now each pair of eyeglasses is made specifically to each person’s personal prescription. You can’t use your buddy’s eye glasses when you lose your own. You might get some marginal help but more than likely you will end up with a headache…Is this greater work than Jesus’? Think of this—300 million people in the U.S. If 40% of the people need vision correction that is 120 million half-blind people that can now see. Think of this—bifocals, trifocals, sun glasses, anti-glare glasses, contacts hard or soft—what an impressive list.

I believe this is great work the followers of Jesus Christ have accomplished. Yes, but not alone. In His greatness, He gives us life and breath and everything else (Acts 17). Every beat of our heart, every breath we take is a gift from the Lord. None of us could do anything without that life, breath and everything else. Man can make pace makers and many other devices and in case we become puffed up in pride with our accomplishments, God determines when our heart beat begins and stops.

Isn’t the Lord great? What a privilege to be His son or daughter!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter Art--The Cleaned up Cross

Isaiah 52:13-15: “See, my servant will act wisely, he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him, his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness, so will he sprinkle many nations and kings will shut their mouths because of him…(NIV).

When I was little, I remember the crucifix on the wall in the dining room at my Uncle Ben & Aunt Lillian’s. It always got my attention. One day when I was there, I got up on a chair and looked at it really close to realize it was the cross with the crucified Jesus upon it. At five or six years of age I didn’t understand what it all meant.

Fifty plus years later at Easter I’m reminded of Christ’s sacrifice for my sins, His suffering, His death, His resurrection, His victory. Hallelujah!!

But this week I saw a church bulletin with a picture of Jesus dead upon the cross. This type of picture concerns me. Even in the church we’ve slicked up and cleaned up the cross. Jesus was beaten beyond human recognition for your sin and mine (Isaiah 52:13-15) yet our crucifixes and church bulletins are all cleaned up showing a perfect face with a drop of blood on the cheek just for the proper effect.

We, the church, have cleaned up Christ on the cross, minimized His suffering and pain and surely never show His disfigured face and head. Jesus took the full and complete punishment for my sin. God forgive me when I tolerate this cleaned up, sanitized version of the cross. It minimizes my sin, my sin just doesn’t seem quite as bad as it should when I see it portrayed that way.

Isaiah 52:13-15 (Message version) says in part: “at first everyone was appalled. He didn’t even look human—a ruined face, disfigured past recognition.”

Thank you Father, thank you Lord Jesus for Easter morning…Isaiah continues: “nations all over the world will be in awe, taken aback, kings shocked into silence when they see Him. For what was unheard of they’ll see with their own eyes, what was unthinkable they’ll have right before them.” Amen.

Remember the cross is empty and “at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Never forget, never give up, and always hope. Jesus paid the full and complete price for us. What a thought to comprehend. We dare not minimize what he has done for us.

In Revelations 19:11-16 Jesus rides a white horse into battle, the armies of heaven (the angels and some think us) will follow the warrior King Jesus into battle and in the case the kings of the earth don’t know who He is…only have to look on His robe and thigh for written there is this name KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

May you have a Blessed Easter. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it. (I Thessalonians 5:23-24).