Thursday, March 28, 2024

20 Years

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“20 Years”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT

Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.


A little over a month ago, my wife and I celebrated our 20 year anniversary.  We decided to take a trip to Waco, TN to see all things Magnolia.  We had a great time and it nice to get away and just enjoy some time just the two of us. 


As we passed that 20 year mark, I’ve been thinking a lot the past few weeks about how 20 years can really change a person’s life.  So much can happen after 20 years. 


Just a little over 20 years ago, I moved to MN and met my wife.  I look back and wonder where I would be if I hadn’t met her and ended up with 2 beautiful daughters.  I also wonder what habits would still be with me if I hadn’t met her.  We’ve experienced ups and downs like any married couple does.  We’ve had great times together and very challenging times as well.  When we hit the 20 year mark, I thought often to myself, “How in the world did she put up with me for so long???”  Haha!  Some of you that have known me in the past many years would probably say she had her hands full!


20 years of being married to my wife and 20 years living in MN.  MN is not the greatest place to live in the winter and it can get VERY brutal.  But, I’ve put up with it.  I have wonderful in-laws and my wife’s family is a family of faith, which I am so thankful for. 


I’ve had just shy of 20 years to watch my girls grow up and it’s been a great learning experience.  It seems just like yesterday they were little and now they are growing up way too fast.  I wish I could slow time down.  I am very proud of both of them and I love them so much. 


20 years of many changes while we’ve been married and lots of learning experiences.  I wouldn’t go back and change anything or trade for anything.  I am very blessed and very thankful I have a Godly woman who has challenged me and taught me so much about God’s love and been SO VERY PATIENT!


I share all of this with you to simply say that it’s important for us to be grateful for what we have and the precious time we have with people we love.  Don’t take it for granted.  God has indeed blessed me way more than I ever expected and I am grateful for a loving family on my wife’s side and on my side.  They both support and love us and I am grateful. 


I want to give thanks for all of this with a grateful heart and I hope that you all will do the same for all the blessings you have in your life!

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Be Still: Let God Speak

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“Be Still: Let God Speak”

Psalm 46:10a NLT

Be still and know that I am God.


Last week, for our small Bible group study, we were looking at the idea of asking God to speak to us.  This passage was used and it’s a powerful passage with only a few words. 


How often do we carve time out of our day to just be still and do absolutely nothing?  Through our study, we were encouraged and had discussion about taking time to be quiet and do nothing.  We discussed how we so often take so much time each day to surround ourselves with noise.  There’s even times we will come to God and bring Him our requests and petitions.  We pray for others and ourselves.  This is all good, but when was the last time we just came before Him and did……NOTHING?  When was the last time we sat down with God and just…..listened?


The other day, I was taking a walk by myself and talking to God.  I kept saying, “God, I want You to speak to me”, but then I kept walking and started talking again.  I kept saying that I was sorry and I wanted to hear from Him.  Yet, I kept thinking of things to talk about.  It was hard to just be quiet and listen.  It seems our minds are not programmed well to stop and just listen. 


When was the last time you sat down and just listened to someone and didn’t say a word until after the person stopped talking?  How about a family member or friend that needed to “bend an ear”?  Did you take the time to listen and not say anything to interrupt?  It’s hard, isn’t it?  We’re not at all accustomed to just taking time to listen. 


In our small group study, we were studying about 1 Samuel 3 where Samuel was called by God to listen and confront Eli.  Samuel said, “Speak God, for Your servant is listening”.  Can we be like Samuel who seriously asked God to speak to him? 


In our small group time, I shared how I’ve kept a consistent daily devotional time during the work week every morning.  However, as much as I enjoy that time each day, I was convicted that I so often just spew words out each day, asking God for this and that, but hardly ever just sit and listen.  It’s hard.  I have so much on my mind to bring to Him.  Again, nothing at all wrong with bringing prayers to God, but we also need to take time to just listen to Him.  He will speak to us in some way, but are we quiet long enough to actually just listen?


I want to challenge all of us this week and weeks beyond to carve time out of our day to take time to just listen to God somewhere quiet.  Let’s be challenged to take on this challenge of “Be Still: Let God Speak”.

Monday, March 4, 2024


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Romans 8:28 NIV

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.


On Sunday, our pastor was preaching a sermon regarding having joy in the midst of trials in our lives.  He spoke about how we God uses all things in our lives to bring about His glory, no matter how painful they might be.  People often get mad at God for things He allows to happen in our lives and people often question the goodness of Him and His love since He allows certain things to happen.  It can be very confusing at times and leave us wondering where God is.


As I was sitting there listening, a scene came to mind from the 2011 Movie “Soul Surfer”, which tells the true tragic story of Bethany Hamilton of how she lost her left arm in a shark attack in 2003.  When Bethany comes back home from the shark attack, her youth pastor asks her how she is doing.  Bethany responds with a quick, “I’m ok, yeah I’m doing ok”.  Her youth pastor says, “Bethany, you don’t need to be like that with me.  Tell me how you’re really doing”.  Bethany then breaks into tears and shares how her family is trying to be helpful and encourage her, but she’s really struggling to understand why God would allow such a thing to happen.  Her youth pastor then says to her that she doesn’t understand why this happened, but says somehow and in some way, God will use this in a great way. 


That scene has stuck in my mind since I saw the movie and it explains well how so many people struggle to find value in what has happened in their lives when terrible things happen.  However, we must realize that God does work in ALL things, good and bad, and He works in ways we’d never imagine and does absolutely incredible things beyond our imagination.  Bethany goes on to touch people’s lives in ways she never dreamed because other girls and surfers look up to her for having the courage to go back out into the water after such a vicious attack.


Friends, some of you out there either hurting from an attack in the past or are currently hurting and questioning why God would allow something so horrific to happen.  Whatever you might be hurting from, please do not turn your back on Him.  As painful and frustrating as it may be, God has a plan through that pain and He will never waste it.  He will use it somehow and in some way in the future.  Just don’t give up.  Trust in Him. 


I had to learn this many years ago when I experienced a very deep and painful hurt in ministry.  It’s been over 8 years since then and I’ve watched God walk me through a lot of emotional recovery and helping me to understand some things I experienced by sharing with others. 


We all need to remember that God always works things out in some way for His glory. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

It's Time

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“It’s Time”

Matthew 26:39

Going a little further, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as You will.”



All of us have had numerous moments of hearing the phrase, “It’s Time”.  We can take days, months and even years to prepare for a future moment, but when it finally comes, the words “It’s Here” can still rattle us in many ways.


We study for days and months so we can be prepared for a big test in school.  When the teacher says, “It’s Time”, we still often feel the gitters and are very nervous, no matter how much we have prepared.


A couple who spends days, months or even years planning a wedding definitely can feel the stress and excitement when the person officiating the wedding says, “It’s Time”. 


 A first time homebuyer spends hours, days and even months planning for the move in.  When the closing day comes and the agent says, “It’s Time”, we are both excited and nervous at the new adventure.


A teenager spends days and months learning to drive with a permit.  Finally, the driver’s license test and driver’s test comes and the teenager feels nervous when the instructor says, “It’s Time”. 


If we find out we need surgery, we take the time of many days or months to prepare for that.  When the doctor/surgeon comes in and says, “It’s Time”, we can be nervous about the procedure.


An Olympic athlete trains for years, makes many mistakes and then learns and prepares for the big event.  He or she still feels the nerves when they hear, “It’s Time”.


So many situations we face in life where we hear the words, “It’s Time” and we hope we have prepared enough for what is about to happen.  We hope and pray that we have taken the appropriate measures to prepare.  We do our best to do what we can to prepare ourselves. 


No matter how much we prepare, the words “It’s Time” can startle us, make us sweat, make our hands shake or get clammy.  We feel a mix of emotions when we hear those words and we just have to pray that God will guide us and give us the peace and strength needed to move through the experience.


I cannot help but think of what Jesus went through as He knew it was time for Him to give His life.  He experienced more than any human being will ever go through.  He even pleaded with God in the Garden to take the cup if it was possible, but He wanted God’s will to be done. 


When we come to the moments where we hear, “It’s Time”, know that God is with you and He will bring you through.  Trust Him.  God’s got this. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

This E-mail Is Important

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“This E-mail Is Important”

Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.


Just recently I saw an e-mail that had the subject line “This e-mail is important”.  It kind of took me by surprise.  Of course, the sender of this e-mail wanted to make sure to grab the attention of whomever received it.  As I looked at the e-mail sitting in the inbox, I got to thinking about all of the e-mails that we receive on a daily basis.  Not just personal e-mails at home, but at work as well.  Our inboxes at home get flooded daily with different advertising from lists we’ve probably subscribed to.


I’ve often thought about getting off the lists, but then I think, “What if something they send one day is REALLY  important and a great deal?”  I also think about all the e-mails that not only I get at work each day, but so many others at work receive as well.  So many of us have to weed through hundreds of messages per day prioritizing what is really important.  Co-workers, vendors and other messages screaming for us to respond and devote time and answers to them.


Friends, it’s no surprise that we are constantly flooded with messages all day long that scream “This is important”.  What is really important?  How do we sift through all that’s not important and get to what’s really a priority?  That’s a hard question to answer through our day.  As we try to push our way through the constant messages every day, whether at home, at work, riding in the car listening to the ads on the radio, we must be diligent and intentional about what should be important. 


Through it all, we must remember what is most important.  We need to quiet ourselves before God and ask Him to show us what really matters.  We gotta clear the noise in our lives and let Him show us what is really important.  Not everything can and should be a priority. 


This passage is a great reminder that we are to love God first and foremost each and every day.  That is our greatest priority.  That is what’s most important.  When we come to Him and ask Him to lead us and give us wisdom, He can guide us to what’s really important in life.  Our family, friends, job, church.  These are all good things, but we must learn to better prioritize what’s really important as we live our daily lives. 


I often find myself overwhelmed by texts, e-mails, social media and other media telling me what’s important.  I want good deals for sure but I need to remember what’s really important in my life.  I want to focus on what God has given to me and appreciate His blessings.  Not everything can be a priority and not everything can be important all day long. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Proof Is In The Pudding

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“The Proof Is In The Pudding”

John 14:23 NIV

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.


Think about some of the ways we prove our loyalty and dedication to people and situations.


If we want good grades, we prove that we want to pass by studying diligently.

If we want to get a job, we do our best to prepare for the interview.

If we want to date and marry someone, we will go to great lengths to show and prove our love and devotion to the person.

If we want to get on a sports team, we will practice and show our determination to get better.

If we want to be a good student in school overall, we will listen to the teacher and obey what is taught.


We could think of many other ways in which we prove our loyalty or devotion to a situation or to someone because we want to show our devotion.  We have to work hard at proving we are serious about something or someone by showing we are devoted.  I think of the saying, “the proof is in the pudding”.  If we are real, authentic and genuine about what we want to do and who we want to be devoted to, it’s going to show. 


Jesus is very clear about the devotion we need to have in our relationship with Him.  If we truly love Him and are devoted to living a life of service to Him, we will obey Him.  It’s as simple as that.  If we are not devoted to Him, we won’t obey Him.  It’s either one way or another.  The proof is definitely in the way we live our lives. 


Do we really love Him enough to completely obey His teaching, no matter what it takes.  If we want people to believe we are truly devoted to someone or something, we must prove it somehow.  Being loyal to someone and working hard at something shows our devotion.  If someone told you they loved you over and over again, but didn’t treat you that way at all, you’d probably finally say, “Okay, see ya!”


If we really, really are devoted to Jesus, we will obey His teaching, regardless of what that entails and what challenges it brings.  

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

We All Need Fresh Starts

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“We All Need Fresh Starts”

2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!


This past Sunday at church, we played and sang one of my new favorite worship songs from River Valley Worship called “Ask, Seek Pray”.  I want to share the first verse of this song as we embark on a brand new year.


Give us clean hands give us pure hearts
Show us that's where the miracle starts
Beyond what I want beyond what I see
The change for my world begin it in me


As I listened to these words yesterday as we played this on praise team, I was thinking about how we came to the end of a full year and looking to begin a brand new year.  Our pastor had an amazing sermon on sadness as he talked about how so many struggle with this time of year and things that have happened to leave voids in our lives.  Many enjoy this time of year while others struggle with losing loved ones or remember hard times from the past for this time of year.  There can be many reasons why people struggle during Christmas.


During response time, after the sermon, as we started playing “Ask, Seek, Pray” people were invited to come and ask for prayer through their hard times of sadness.  As I sat there playing on stage, I watched so many people come forward and it was so moving.  As we all start this new year, whatever we might be struggling through or trying to recover from, let’s ask God to help us begin a new year seeking Him and relying on His strength for each new day. 


Let’s pray that God would start to do amazing things through us so that we can love on others as He has called us to do. 


“Father give us clean hands and hearts as we begin this new year.  Forgive us for all the ways we have been so selfish and consumed with only what we want.  God, please give all those who are experiencing hurt and sadness Your strength and comfort.  Surround them with people who can relate and show comfort through these hard times.  Help us to ask, seek and pray for Your will to be done in our lives so that we can see past the things we want and focus on how we can help change people’s lives in a positive way with Your love.”


Happy New Year to you all!  May we all experience a fresh, new start to the year.