Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holy-days


Well, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Olson's.

The photo is from Thanksgiving but it is the last photo I had of the Fam.

Family photos. They are a funny thing. When you are young, you look back and think, "geeze I look so young and geeky or skinny or pimpley". Then you get older and look back at old photos and say, "wow I looked pretty good back, then". :)
Are you laughing yet.
Then there is a time when you begin to think that you look better older than when you were younger. That is the delusional denial taking a foot hold at that moment.

Hey whatever your age, holidays are about family celebrating whatever the holiday is. Christmas for Christians is a very special time, just as Hanukkah is for Jewish friends and Ramadan is for Muslims. For our family, we realize that our faith is our foundation, our source of peace, joy, stability and hope in good and bad times. Without it we would still love each other just as much, we just would not be happy because our hearts would be empty when we left each others presence.
I'm so thankful moving forward into '09 for my precious and faith-full wife, the health of everyone, my awesome children and spouses, precious grand daughter, friends, country, and all who sacrifice of themselves to make life better for others. Thank you Lord, help me to be a better servant.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire

Spent today cleaning house and getting ready for Jane to come home from Tokyo. Started a fire in the upstairs fireplace this morning and tonight it's still burning bright. Our downstairs fireplace has an insert so it blows awesome heat, but I've never put a blower insert in the living room fireplace. With heat what it is in MN in the winter, I should have done it long ago, and maybe this year I'll get a round tuit. :)

Took this pict. of the fire about an hour ago. I'm such a sucker for a good one. They are never the same twice and the smell and sound does something magical to my psyche.
I took out my Gibson and played through all the worship music for Sunday a few times while the new puppy ran around like it was her last hour on earth.
I hope you and yours are finding time to relax this next week for Christmas. It's so easy to overbook and forget to slow down and look for that Star.
I heard Songwriter Michael Peterson had a song that related our lives being the humble "stable" that we are to invite Jesus into. What a concept. cant wait to hear that one. Jesus isn't looking for a proud mansion to be born in. He's the star, not our accomplishments and beautiful trappings and coverings. Jesus help me see you this week in a new and fresh way as I come and worship before You.
If I don't check in before this weekend, Merry Christmas to you all.
He is very fond of all of you!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Communication Changes Thanksgiving

So from writing in the dirt to carving on stone, to skin and parchment to paper to ether.

We cooked for 20 family on Thanksgiving this year. We always forget someone and always forget to call another dozen friends to invite. We always have enough food for another 10 and one Sr. adult always has to say "we won't go hungry".

Well as we stand over these tables of food in these humble homes we always feel a bit guilty for the other 7/8ths of the world who are in poverty. As I did the dishes and scraped the plates between courses I was thinking that most of the food left on the plate would be a miracle to most the world. I can't help myself from feeling this year after year. The food, the wine, the fireplaces, the comforts, the conversations and yes now the electronics.

When I grew up, there was an age system. The old men and uncles would sit with some form of beverage and smoke and talk about the country. ALL the adult women would be clearing the tables, properly cleaning the dishes, china, crystal and silver and neatly putting it away as they began prepping for the last dessert course and percolator coffee. Packed in the kitchen they would all have aprons on and would be a-buzz with "family" talk.

That moved to a time of dishwashers. Yes silver and crystal still had to be done by hand but the kitchen time was cut down quite a bit and the women would now move to the living room to talk while the men moved to a family room to watch "football" and drink and smoke less.

Kid's used to be sent outside to play football, basketball, duck duck. Or they were sent to kids rooms to play board games or dolls or army or pool or ping pong or twister or whatever the game de'jour of the year was.

That moved to the age of electronics. "Pong" then the abundance of low rez electronic games played on your black and white or colored TV were the rage. Oh to be able to put spin on the "pong" ball. Oooh, Ahhhh.

Well this thanksgiving I realized things have changed.
I wanted to save on time so I bought a box of Duraflame logs for both my wood burning fireplaces. In six hours I only put in 4 logs total. Two each. Well I'm a wood burning guy. I love that smell and the embers "never" look the same twice, but time was the issue. Boy I saved a lot of time and effort not having to have had to run up and down the stairs every hour to re-stoke the fire and then out to the woodshed to get more wood for the inside wood box. Well at the end of the day I was not happy with myself. Easier yes!, but like using coolwhip instead of fresh whipped cream. No comparison. :(

Then there was the revelation of cooking and cleaning. I found myself in the kitchen doing dishes alone. Not a problem, I kind a like it cause I really don't like a kitchen full of dishes when desserts come due. For some reason in my family after a main meal all the women have decided to stay at the table or go to the living room and chat with a table full of plates and a kitchen full.

I figure it must be some kind of female revolt on holidays. It all will get done, but usually by the host family around 9 or 10pm. I can't do this in my home, and I wouldn't ask my girls to get up and do it, so I'll just dig in and git-r-done with whomever wanders into the kitchen to help and ask if the coffee's done.

It was after the dishes were done and before dessert that I realized Thanksgiving had changed.
I peeked into the living room and there it was. Yup, i grabbed a camera and took the shot above. Not in a kids room, or outside, or in a family room. Not a word being spoken amongst them. There were two of my kids and my niece and nephew sitting tightly together in a room full of talking adults. They were silent. Four kids, Four laptops, Four cellphones.
Surfing, texting and talking on their phones.

What in God's name will Thanksgiving, or any other major holiday look like in 20 years?
Will we call it in? Will our kids invite us online for a holographic holiday conference where we'll eat whatever we "want" from our homes and discuss it online?

Will we all sit in our homes and have online game battles from family to family while we look and talk to each other from the ether?
Will the next generation even know what a #2 pencil was?
Will all china, crystal and silver be replaced with some new beautiful biodegradable eco-ware we just use and throw away with the food where it helps break it down for future fuel?

Well here I am, writing a blog, on a wireless laptop on my bed, cell phone and regular phone next to me, remote control, w/less headphones so I can listen to Hell's Kitchen re-runs while typing and my NIV bible next to my pot of high octane coffee.

I guess I can talk about the problem of the future but really, I guess I am the problem.
Forgive me mom, for trying to teach you how to use a computer at 80. I love your letters with stamps and your special handwriting. I need to shut all this off and go write some letters to my kids now.

Monday, November 24, 2008

"The Bark And The Vine"

When does it begin? That small inauspicious vine that attaches to our tree of life. Silently and slowly it creeps it's way up the trunk with such stunning leaves. It's beautiful and it appears harmless, but it's a covering of the natural.

The natural. "life". It happens.

Somehow we've swallowed the bait that it's not supposed to age. That we are to be untouched. That the measure of a person is how they "appear" not how they "are".


Look at the bark in this picture. It's an old Oak tree in my back yard. It was here when the Native Americans rode horseback by it. If it could talk, I'd be humbled. It is old. It has been weathered by thousands of storms. To the outsider it has character , color, unique cracks and chips. It's Gnarly branches make it one of a kind. But to the tree, I am sure it feels old and tired. It's roots are as deep as it's height and yet it finds it harder and harder to draw water to survive. The day the vine attached itself, I'm sure the old tree had questions, but it was only a little sprig. As years grew on it began to cover the tree with a comfort of shade. People saw the majesty of the tree with the beauty of the covering.
Then without warning, like a lobster in a pot of cold water, the heat was turned up and the water supply to the tree was taken away. Slow death. That's what it brings.

You see that's the lie. We are imperfect, we are fallen, we need forgiveness, we need a savior.

The creeping vine I'll call "the hiding". You might even see the parallel to the fig leaves that covered Adam and Eve.
This vine does not produce fruit. It's purpose is to look beautiful and cover up reality, imperfections, "the natural"
What is it's end game? It covers the light and uses up all the nutrients, slowly killing the tree it wraps itself around.
In the 'nano' speed of life we live today, a slow moving vine seems like nothing to worry about.
But it is.

Covering the natural is sin. Truth is transparent, sin is the covering. I'm guilty as charged.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves....
Until we cut the vine at it's roots and slowly pull it off of every area of our lives, we will live in bondage and never be able to experience the light and living waters that we are meant to enjoy. But it does mean exposing the bark. That's the rub.

Am I willing to let you see me as I am? Wretched, fallen, weak, addicted, prideful, angry, lustful? Am I these things all the time? It's the bark.
It's the natural, and only by the grace of God, the renewing of my mind by the washing of the Word. Only by the daily confession of my sin and God's promise of the Holy Spirit in my life am I able to be anything else.

Oh sure, I tell myself I'm a good person by judging others "worse than I", and I remind myself I'm beautiful or thinner than others by judging others weight and appearance.
My temper is better than ... My house is cleaner than... I've had more education than.... More life experience than... , and I would "humbly" tell you my ---- doesn't stink. And ---- = poop, if you were wondering. And if you thought it meant another word, then that's one more reason I'm better than you.....

Oswald Chambers the other day said that we all take ourselves to seriously. We all try to look like we're really "deep". Well he reminded me that we should humbly live in the shallows. The ocean has shallows. Our daily eating and drinking, walking and talking are in the shallows.

I say Life and the "natural" are in the shallows.

Chambers said "Determinedly take no one seriously but God, and the first person you find you have to leave severely alone as being the greatest fraud you have ever known, is yourself.
11/22 "my utmost".

Ouch. That comment was the comment that started me ruminating to begin this blog a few days ago. If I didn't respect Chambers so much, I might have just laughed at the comment. But when someone speaks, who you listen to, you at least listen and pray about it. That's where the Holy Spirit begins to have His gentle way.

His way begins when we cut down the vine. When we are willing to expose ourselves and say "Here i am" "bark and all".

So, where are we in all of this. Are we willing to expose ourselves to each other?
We all look to our leaders for this as our examples. They need to be strong, but are they human. Do they show their bark, or are they so covered in vine that you just ooh and ahhhh every time you see them or listen to them sing or speak or dance or play?

It begins with our leaders. So who are yours?
Are you a parent?........... Then you are IT.

I should stop here but I must say my natural reaction is to bypass my leadership responsibilities and look at and judge "MY" leaders. Oh I feel better now already. Sick isn't it, how quickly we cover our bark.

In churches where I travel and lead worship, I encounter the "vine".
I can see it covering the congregations as they struggle to worship. Struggle to worship because they are so caught up in keeping themselves and their families "bark" covered from all sides, that they are unable to be free to worship.

You see that's my passion. To see people worship. While I'm in this place of leadership, it's my desire, my passion, my precious. Anything that keeps people from experiencing this connection to God kills me. I can't cut the vine for anyone by myself, and really maybe that's what I need to do each week. Begin by exposing MY "bark" before asking anyone else to do the same. God can not heal you or deliver you or fill you with rivers of living water until you humble yourself before Him and man, and then be willing to ask for help from God and each other.

When the word says "David cried out to God", he really cried out to God. No metaphors here! When is the last time we cried out to God as a church as a nation. Not in anger but in humility and brokenness. It begins in our heart, and then in our families, and then together as a family in our churches, and then our neighborhoods and cities. And in this process maybe just maybe we will find that exposing the bark is the best thing we could ever have done. Cymbala's book "secrets of the vine" was a brilliant short book on vines that bear fruit.
I'd say in reverse that "secrets behind the vine" need to be exposed and healed in the light of lights.

In this nation America where I write this blog, we are in a crisis. For those with much, it's a wake up call. For those with little, there is the desire to say "finally they get to hurt a little.
Gimme some of theirs. And those retired union members? Take away their benefits. And those executives? take away their millions." Not because they do or don't deserve it, but because it might make me feel a bit better about my losses.

Who said "who is my mother and father?"
Who said "come as little children?"
Who said " forgive me my sins as I forgive those who sin against me?"

Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

So this thanksgiving, when we go to our families and our churches, let's begin again. Let's cut the vine. Let's be honest, transparent, natural. Let's drop the fig leaves. Let's take a step towards
our friends and family saying. Here I am "bark" and all. Will you still love me? I know my Father does! And in that moment you may feel light and living water pour over your soul in unimaginable ways. Won't solve your life problems, but it will be a monumental step towards revealing the beauty of who you really are.

Remember, no matter what you think or have done, God is very fond of you :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

My President

My president I voted for twice is leaving and I am sad and thankful for his service and leadership, and my president is now coming and I'm happy and hopeful for he and his family.

What? no partisanship Craig?

Hey I'm an American before I'm a conservative. Look at this photo from this afternoon. Two men in front of a desk that only 43 men have ever sat in, in our nations history.

I get a little choked up even looking at this. For all the bad that Pres. Bush had to deal with trying to enter the white house 8 years ago. (remember the taking off the letter "w" from white house keyboards). Imagine taking all the "B"'s off the keyboards (for "black") before our new President enters? How terrible.
Is there no respect for the office and the man entering it? I guess when you look at how Bush was treated for 8 years in the media (regardless of your personal feelings) you would think that President elect Obama will be getting the verbal shaft even now. Let's not!!

I didn't vote for him, I never could, unless he changed his stance on just about everything, but that doesn't change the fact that he was elected, and at that very moment they called him the winner, he became My President. I will pray for he and his family, I will pray that God will give him supernatural wisdom, and that he will actually seek God's face for knowledge, wisdom and grace every day. I will vote against everything I disagree with, and stand up against any issue that I feel he is supporting that is wrong, but I will not call him names. I will not call him names because he is my president. We may not like each others "sin' but we are instructed to love the sinner above all.

I'm sure within the next four years, there will be a garage full of things I'm unhappy about that President Elect Obama will have pushed into legislation and the courts. I'm sure he will have damaged the military as I see it, and the courts will be more liberal, replacing judges willing to take a look at the constitution and "tweak" it not "trust" it. Hopefully our currency will not have tanked, and we will not have changed our border security, homeland security and attitude towards terrorism to the point that we begin to have events again on our soil. Hopefully we will not have pushed more and more of our businesses over seas from taxation. I could go on and on, but it ends with the same statement. "I pray for and want my president to keep our country strong from invaders at home and abroad, be a good steward of our money before congress, who spend like drunken sailors (ON OUR BEHALF TO GET OUR VOTES).
I pray for unity of our people, that we can stop listening to the voices of descent that want to divide us by race, religion and socio-economic status and begin listening to the voices that speak the truth in love. That tell us the truth, not whatever is necessary to get votes and appease lobbyists.

We will not get a politician to vote for whats "right" until we are able to stop the flow of money and power that makes them vote for whats "right for them to get the voter in their pocket".
Yea, Senator McCain took public financing and has fought lobbyists for decades, but what did that get him? Any respect? Naaaa, just people from both sides saying, hey if he could have made another 40mm using lobbyist and non-profits as Sen. Obama did, he should have!
Well, the best we can do is to pray, do as Jesus instructed us to do "love above all", and humbly be involved in our democracy, standing up for what the Word instructs us to stand up for.
Render to Caesar.....

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Holy God

This morning I was thinking about a church I'm leading worship at this Sunday. It has the largest mix of nations I've ever seen in an actual church. I was thinking about how great it is that people of various nations and languages come and meet in one place each week with different languages and cultures.

As I thought about addressing this group, a worship thought dropped into my heart. We'll I skipped breakfast, wrote it and recorded it this morning and afternoon here at home and here it is for you to get a first draft on. You all know I play and sing everything at home by myself, so the arrangements and vocals are limited to my abilities and range. Hope it blesses you. Link is here and in the index


All of us, in this place

We have come here as one voice to seek Your face

And every tongue and every race
Every heart You have created to embrace

Holy God, here we stand
We lay our lives before Your risen Lamb

Jesus Christ, son of God
With humble hearts we come just as we are

Broken here, Make us new, Just like You.

Take these eyes, let them see
That You love all of creation, even me
For in my sin, and in my shame

You died and rose to give me life again


Holy God Here I stand

I lay my life before the risen lamb
Jesus Christ, Son of God

With humble heart I come just as I am
Broken here, Make me new, Just like you


Wonderful, marvelous, morning star, yes you are

Holiness, righteousness, Yeshua, everything.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Flashbacks From Hell

Sometimes things remind you of where you've come from and where you are.

The other night my wife Jane and our 11 yr. old son went to dinner.
They wanted Vietnamese food (the best egg rolls in the world) so we went to our favorite "Qui Viet". We've gone there for decades and the owner Neigh Liegh has seen all our children grow up. His manager was working the other night and when we went to the register to pay the bill our son Jordan was making some comment about life not being fair, as he was texting a friend on his phone. The manager, a quiet 60's ish Vietnamese man was at the register taking our bill as he's done a hundred times before. Yet for some reason he was listening to Jordan's comments and all of a sudden he stopped and stared. As in a flashback.

Are you 11? he asked Jordan. Jordan said yes sir while texting on his phone.
You know when I was your age, I wore a white shirt to school each day. We all had to.
(It was like he was lost in a vision of the past as he spoke).
We all wore white shirts and walked the dirt roads for miles to and from school.
My mother used to go out each week and turn over dead children with white shirts on that dirt road. Turning over each body and hoping it wasn't me.

He kinda snapped out of his daze.

When I was your age in the Mecong Delta, the North Vietnamese troops used to come down each day and shoot us on our ways to school and back. Our white shirts on a dirt road made us an easy target. They just loved killing us. Any age, anytime.

Without saying it, he was telling my son that he should never complain about anything!
WOW. I was silent. Jordan was silent. We all were soaking in what we had just heard.

I asked him how life was now, knowing he had been here living in the States for decades.

He looked me in the eyes and said with sad tone, "ok", and he looked away.

Without Jesus, there is no hope. It doesn't matter where you've come from or where you've been, what you've been saved from or blessed with. Without a living faith and a savior, there is no hope or peace or joy.

So I asked myself, how can I help this manager? How can I love him, show him Jesus?
How will anyone?

I suppose I can pray for him each day. Yes, that's a good idea.
I suppose I could continue to go back and maybe give him a gift? a faith neutral record or book or piece of clothing. Try to find someway to let him know I care for him. WHY? To hopefully let him find a way to trust me enough to be honest about his "life". Have you earned the right to speak into the lives of those around you who need Jesus? I've failed over and over.
Lord help me become that person who no matter where they go, they are always thinking, praying, and loving strangers as He first loved us.

Imagine the horrors people have survived around us, who won't talk about it because they don't trust us with their secrets. From the war victims, to the abused, and battered, the addicts and the forgotten. Let love open that door today.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm Coming Out


Yes, I'm a registered Republican. Have been for decades. Have I voted for Democrats? Oh yea. Many times. Have I voted Independent? Oh Yes.
Have I ever second guessed my votes later? LOL

Having been self employed for over three decades, and having never had an employer to help me in health, dental or unemployment ins., you would think I'd be "all over" the government giving me insurance i didn't have, or the ability to draw money from being out of work. WOW. I can't even imagine such a thing. I see my friends over the decades collecting unemployment and kinda chilling while they look for work. Yes you or more importantly your employer pays into a fund for you to have that right, but it's success is like the insurance and banking industry, it only survives because of the people who "don't" use it or make claims on it. There's not enough money to take care of everyone. Look at Social Security. We've allowed ourselves to be duped into thinking that you can watch your employer put a dollar of your wages into a S.S. fund that is borrowing to payout out $2 for every one you put in, and somehow magically it will all be there for you when you retire in a few decades. NOT. We have to take care of ourselves. Neither Republicans or Democrats will address this problem. It's to large and there is not enough money to fix it unless like our market bailout, we just print more money and say it's there...

Where and how did we come to the place where our employers and government are our safety blanket? What do they owe us other than llatpoh: "life liberty and the pursuit of happiness". A military strong enough to protect our interests at home and abroad (so we can pursue llatpoh), a federal and state govt. system that allows us to succeed with reward based upon risk, and the ability to practice our faiths and do (for me) what Jesus commanded us to do.

If you're like me, you get unsolicited emails every day from people you know who are excited about something happening in the world around them, and they just have to tell you how they feel.

Well with the election here now, it seems like folks are getting more and more desperate in their verbage. The photo card above arrived in my email box the other day, and it was one of the cutest non damning I've received.

Yes, the world is changing.
The right wing nut case, abortion clinic bombing, gay hating, love-less, Christian preaching divisive folks are about ready to jump out the window (Maybe not such a bad idea ) if the election goes left. Yup, put a lock on your halloween candy and easter baskets folks.

The radical left, the Socialists, the Marxists, the Pacifists and those Americans who really hate what America was founded on, will be happy to re-write the constitution through the courts and thrilled to take over the POTUS and the Congress to finally make America "Fair" and "Social".
That means Govt. has to become the employer for, and hire the above "workers", because none of them have a clue as to how to start, develop, fund, and run a company, except to say their worth in a Marxist sense is being exploited into the profits of their rich employers. Those "with" money will take their businesses overseas to remain competitive. (maybe Ireland or Georgia or China), where there aren't any business taxes and the cost per worker benefits and regulations will allow business to compete in this new world economy. American business will just get more and more drained and "suddenly" the greedy companies will leave the country or go out of business and the millions left with out a job will be going to the govt. for all they were promised, to be taken care of. In a global economy you can't just say "the rest of the world exploits their workers" and then purchase EVERYTHING you drive, eat and wear from them because it's 1/4th the price of the same being "union" made. Geeze, we've gotta wake up.

Which reminds me. When the country crumbles, I wonder if the Attny's will have to begin suing the govt. to make money :) lol, or sue the next country who has cash.

Well we have no one to blame but ourselves. Not our elected leaders, Not our pastors, Not our parties. We supported and let them have the keys to the chicken coup on our behalf. All those independent party candidates have been telling us this for years, and they look pretty smart now. (after all they are just "real" republicans with a libertarian slant) ;0).

Heck, this year you don't even hear a word about the socialist workers party candidates running for president. WHY? Because we already have a pair running. LOL Sorry, I really didn't think that one out ahead of time, it just slipped while I was typing :(

Yup we get what we deserve and what we are willing to fight (love) and pray for.

We are a democracy, and if we as parents have preached and allowed schools and colleges full of new voting generations to grow up to believe in this kind of quazi-social-fairness doctrine change, and if these groups have grown enough in strength to have a shot at trying to have it their way in re-shaping our country, then we are in for some very difficult years ahead, and we've been complicit in the development of it. Lord have mercy.

Sin and greed have created this global, (not just US) financial crisis that is now is growing.
I don't blame it on a "party", I blame it on us, on me. Everyone shifts the blame on someone else. The political parties survive on spinning each conflict each day on their opponents and we just go "Yup".

Man we need to pray, we need to repent for our wasteful excess that we are told we "need". We need to be willing to stand up for our families and do what's necessary to take care of our own families and STOP asking the Govt. to take care of us and them. I suppose that means a lot of unemployed people going to churches and synagogues and back to their estranged families looking and praying for help, advice and council on how to get and start a job or business, how to reconcile with our families so we can live together in times of trouble instead of asking the Govt. to take care of your brother or mother that you don't want to live with or live with you. Ouch.

Politics? Yes as Americans we'll support, and as Christians we'll pray for whomever is elected POTUS. I was sick over Nixon,Carter,Clinton, and now sick over Bush and I still pray for him every day. They are the leaders we put in place, and it's our job to do what we can. And in this mess, prayer is about all we can do beyond taking responsibility for our families and ourselves.

Electing those who want to socialize more and more of our country, and implement the liberalization of our courts and schools (i believe) will have a terrible effect on our future as a nation where I as a Christian desire to live Free to men and Servant to Christ.

CHANGE FOR CHANGES SAKE IS NOT THE SOLUTION.
SOCIALIZING THE COUNTRY IS NOT THE SOLUTION.
RESPONSIBLE REFORM IS A SOLUTION.

Honestly telling the American people that they are gonna have to take care of themselves and their own would be a start. Politicians are gonna have to stop binge spending to give us more and more (for votes) like they are living in a 30min sitcom where nothing is real.

Lot's of govt. jobs will be lost when agencies and programs are cut. Yup that's part of the problem. (Thanks Roosevelt, your intentions were good, but you created a life long problem for a short term crisis and now EVERYONE thinks they deserve a piece).

Thankfully our hope, strength, and joy is not found not in our country but in our Savior.

Tell me what will our country look like in a few years if we de-fund the military and it's importance, de-fund Homeland Security, Give "radical" Muslim factions free reign in our borders to begin what they've begun in Lebanon and across the EU., most likely to see attack"s" again on our soil as a result, defund the US border issues in order to appease the largest new voting block in America. Can you see any long term good in this? Golly, go read the history of Lebanon and what's happened to their democratic "open arms" policies.

If we attempt to fund socialized health care, allow the unions to watch who votes for a union and who doesn't, thereby strong arming workers into unions, which will even more than ever before make our companies less competitive and moving overseasd. Hey how bout a national union !!!.

Let's eliminate some tort reform for the Attorney lobby base, so they can get sue every company with profits for more and more. Let's begin and fund a new Roosevelt-ian public works program to get people back to work, or a Kennedy-ian peace corp, to save the planet. How do you pay for that and how does that teach anyone to take care of them selves or be responsible.. Let's extend workman comp. and unemployment benefits for everyone who "needs" them, for as long as it takes the Govt. to retrain them to another job. Let the Govt pay for everyones college Education because they deserve it. Let's cover everyones bad mortgages and just plain "take care of everyone cause it's the fair thing to do". How does anyone pay for this? You can't. It's not possible. Not possible. (OK end all wars and conflicts and that will pay for it). Nope, that won't do it and that will never happen. There will always be wars and rumors of wars so long as there is sin and greed.

So, so far we've put it on the national credit card and all the other new things that are being promised will go on some national credit card. When will it stop? How will it stop.
Well we're beginning to find out now.
Now before we even have someone willing to add another trillion in "fairness", we are collapsing because of to many entitlements, bad spending and debt.

sidenote: All credit card interest should be capped at 1%d below the bank savings rate. That would solve half our problems because banks would not be able make money on criminal rates to charge 28% to consumers and trap them in debt until they're forced into bankruptcy. Not that is regulation that makes sense. You can't blame banks for going "yee haa" over this loophole, and shareholders don't care about morality or "people", only profits.

The latest economic "rescue"? It's shameful, Socialist, and I pray reversible. It happened with a Republican President. (how ironic is that.) I know my democrat friends are cheering over this and feeling pretty good about cursing Bush even more now :) The only thing my democrat friends are thanking Bush for is that because 911 happened on His watch and the country has experienced this crisis, it all but seals the POTUS and Congress for them in this election session.

Think about this...

Can you imagine how bad Bush/Cheney must feel, as conservatives, temporarily socializing the markets to try to help solve this crisis?
At least if it had been a Democratic President during this, they would have been a bit happy at the socialization of the system and we all would have gone "SEE, I told you he was a dirty rotten Socialist". Republicans would have been lighting torches and pitchforks. At least now they know no Republican would desire to do this on purposed. In a weird way, that's probably a good thing it was a republican doing this. (although personally I'm against the Rescue package at any costs).


Hey on the other hand if a Democratic President was forced by economic conditions ; (the failing of our businesses and jobs due to CHINA'S ability to out produce us and do it cheaper) to drop all corporate taxes, and personal tax rates, privatize S.S., lower W.Comp., eliminate all worker unions to keep businesses from leaving the country and save the job base from going to developing nations, and if because he slept on our military we had to drop nuclear weapons on a rogue nation that was able to develop and to launch at will for Jihad. What would we say then?
Ahhh. If it was a Republican we'd cry "foul". Right wing, big business, war mongers....
But if it was a Democrat POTUS, we'd be saying "geeze he screwed this all up, but we wouldn't cry foul cause we know he'd be doing everything he "doesn't" believe in. d

Well with all this said, a correction in our markets, spending and lifestyles was and is due.
No matter how bad it gets, we still live better than any other nation and have a system by which we can come back faster in open markets.

Greedy people from any side, need to be regulated, not overtaxed, and not over regulated to the extent of eliminating their ability to do business here instead of moving and working their businesses off shore. I think we need to live on less and pay cash. Yup, (Thank You Dave Ramsey) that concept alone will crush our markets and take us into recession, but we're there anyway and might as well bite the bullet and get our families and priorities back on solid footings instead of "credit" at 28%..

And OIL? Forget bailing out wallstreet.... Drill Baby Drill, Dig Baby Dig, Nuclear, Hydro, build it all. IT'S JOBS and OUR FUTURE. Spend a trillion on coal, nat. gas, wind, solar, bio, and anything else we can develop HERE to create business and new jobs HERE, the old fashioned way. It will bankrupt the money pipeline to those who hate us and re-strengthen our own economies.

Who loses the most in this if we just ask for handouts and spreading the wealth? Everyone loses. And the more you love the world the more you'll be a loser. In this world you will have trouble, but He has overcome the world and He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world. Pray for wisdom as you vote, and pray for mercy

Friday, October 17, 2008

Do You Love The World?


My wife was "Miss Fridley" a few years ago :) Our oldest daughter was a Fridley Princess a few years ago. There are two tieras in our china cabinet in memory of these years. The photo here is last year at the Miss Fridley Pageant. I've MC'd it for a few years now. I guess it's kind of a family deal. Marissa has played Harp at it for years as well. Jane's been on the board for decades on and off. Why do I say this?
This morning in Elk River MN I heard an evangelist from Argentina. His message was one of "love". Love for the world. Marketplace Transformation was his mission. Cities being transformed.
Ya, ok, so, what are you saying?
Well he laid out scriptures that God loved and died for "nations" and for the "world". We are included in that but in the greater picture it was for "everything". If you are a believer, you are to give grace and truth in the world. His message was multi-leveled. He said the "church" has reversed this message. It gives truth before grace. In other words, we use truth to judge the world to hell, and if it changes, we give grace. Geeze that resonated with me.
Over and over he showed the bible stories where God put men and women into the world to reconcile it to Himself. Noah, Abraham, Joeseph and Jesus to name a few.
His basic message was that we must love the world and see it as God does "a place He's made the ultimate sacrifice for". And that we should visualize the world as forgiven. Believing, loving, supporting and sacrificing for those "lost" as if they are "found". Doing what Jesus did. Loving not judging. Healing not hurting, delivering not entrapping.
Praying for change in our world by "being" the change. Getting the respect of the world by the way we love and live, so that we can earn the right to speak into the lives of those hurting around us. He said "If the grace bestowed upon you is not turned around and bestowed on others by you then you are wasting the very grace you've been given". Ouch.
Love the world that God commands us to love, that He gave His life for. Don't judge it, have grace upon it. Draw it nigh unto Him through you. Imagine a community or business or neighborhood where non believers respect and look up to believers!!!! How big of an impact would that be.
Lord forgive me for being complicit in any judgement of those I should be loving in my world. My enemies, my gay next door neighbor, the unmarried couple next door, the minister separated from his wife on my street, the old curmudgeon two doors down who absolutely hates modern worship, and tells me to my face, the Vietnam Vet who walks his dog each day and never talks to anyone. My divorced neighbor raising 5 girls, the multiple Hispanics on my block raising chickens and roosters in my suburban neighborhood. God what can I do develop relationships with these people -- so -- that when they are hurting or I want to invite them to a meeting some day, they will trust me enough to say "sure" Craig. Boy I've failed in that one so far. Forgive me Lord, they ARE the great commission. Amen.
Have a blessed weekend.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Give Me Your Tired & Your Poor

http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/stance.asp
This morning I received an email about a claim against Senator Obama, and a comment. The above link, shows the history of this statement. It was written in a satire piece by John Seeman at Semi-News and unfortunately copied and emailed out as fact. Humans do that. They read or hear something by one person and before checking it out, claim it as fact and tell everyone it's the gospel truth. Ironically, that's kinda like sermons. Nobody wants to check out anybodies facts anymore. Unless it directly affects their job or character or party, they receive it as gospel. How many times has your pastor told you to go read his message, study it and make your own decision. How many times have we done it?

This is election season. The sins of "all of us" complicit in over spending, is being blamed on one party or another instead of "us" the potential "voter", who needs to be pacified and guaranteed free everythings. Free everythings, from tax breaks to college to homes to health care, to housing, to food, to free money, extended unemployment benefits, free job training, free immigration, and all for just being good people. All to get your vote and keep it, and followed by "the rich can pay for it all" on the left, or "Get another job and pay for it yourself" on the right.

For any public servant I vote for, I ask myself the following.

1. Who are they,
2. How's their family life,
3. What is their personal and life history,
4. Who are their friends and allies,
5. Who are their mentors,
6. Who are their hero's,
7. Are they people of faith, (and what fruit does that show)
8. What is their job history,
9. Who have they led,
10. Who and what have they managed,
11. Can they admit they are wrong,
12. Can they work with others who don't agree with them,
13. During their life, have their personal choices been about themselves or others.


Aside from "researching" (which is not reading or watching the news cycle spin) about each candidate,
each person is a different combination of liberal,independent and conservative, so each of us has political questions based upon our core values. We know that every politician plays to the base and waffles for independent votes, yet somehow we dilute ourselves into thinking they are all different.
So, I say base your opinions on the above 13 questions over the "party hard issues". that are crammed in our faces 24/7.

Leaders are not educated by schools, but by life experience and the choices made in them.
They do not do the work, but they, with wisdom and knowledge, lead their leaders, and hopefully make wise Godly decisions based upon the choices given by the team's they assemble and lead (for better for worse).
From local government to POTUS, the questions are the same. Do they have a history of looking out for their constituents and or everyone, or their personal groups. It's generally the latter for all of them cause that's how they get elected. So then how do we choose if they all are for their special groups. Well, I think again the above 13 questions deal with "pre political" life, before they were party machines and pray those qualities will help them regardless of party.

And lastly, since they live here, in this country, with all it's glory and all it's warts, do they love it.
Do they love the country that has shed it's blood for the freedoms it maintains and the freedoms of others around the world. Do they understand the price, the cost and the benefits. Would they die for the country that let's them live in it free? Then they deserve our respect whether we vote for them or not, regardless of party, or sex or race or religion. If they don't,... then they don't and would be better off living outside the U.S. and embracing another experiment in living.


As for placing the blame? Well, we are all guilty, each and every one. "Ouch"
*We elected them all, (*yes a no vote is a vote), and ate the cake they baked us cause it tasted good.
Well it looks like we all are trying to throw up our bad debt and blame it on someone else now.
There is no personal responsibility during election season.
We pay our taxes (if we make enough), so that we can wash our hands of personal responsibility.
We've let the government coax us into believing that our personal responsibilities are theirs, if we will just give them enough money. They can take care of our parents, our retirement, our health care, our children's moral and ethical values, higher learning, They, not us , will take care of the hurting, broken, disenfranchised and.....

My questions today:
Should Govt. be allowed to replace the responsibilities of the home or the church?
Can I keep feeding my luxuries and be part of change?
Will a 100 fold return on my giving solve it all?

And really, what does America owe me?

"Give me your tired and your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to be free."
"Sound's like something Jesus would say".

Monday, October 6, 2008

Everything

Speak to each other with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for EVERYTHING, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph. 5:19-20.

This was the sermon text yesterday morning at church. By the end of the sermon I had an idea for a praise tune based upon the principle of giving thanks in all circumstances, at all times.
Easy to do when things are "golden", but it only gets harder as life piles up the garbage.

I finished writing it this morning and recorded it today at the house. Hope it blesses you today. It a mix of a few old grooves.
Click this link. EVERYTHING

I wanna reflect You everyday
In every way I work and play
I wanna thank you thank you thank you Lord Jesus
In everything I say and do
May it edify only you, only you
Jesus, Jesus I love you Lord Jesus

God I thank you for everything
God I thank you for everything
I will praise you in everything
May your will be done, on earth as in heaven

Everything that comes my way
Whether it's good or bad I want to say
Thank you Jesus, Thank You, Thank you Lord Jesus
I have nothing left to fear
Resurrection power is here
I want to praise you, praise you, praise you Lord Jesus






Photo above was taken at a pastors retreat at Giant's Ridge Golf and Ski Resort in N.Minn.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Once I was lame...

My friend Rick had his bus diesel engine run away for a while yesterday. They can blow up, and he sounded pretty scared for awhile.
FEAR. What an emotion. It can keep us alive from making stupid decisions, but it can be manufactured from past experiences that we either brought on ourselves or were thrust into.


I tried to remember a time when I was truly in fear. I could only remember being lost in a shopping mall as a kid (3 or 4), and the fear of looking around and not finding my parent. That is a feeling you don't ever forget. Funny but I can still visualize it. Then I remembered being lost in the woods (while fishing) a few times and how Fear brings Panic. It was the same feeling as the shopping mall.

When we say we have been born again. That we have a renewed mind and an enlightened spirit. When we say "all things are new" and "He set me free", does that clean up our past?

Well I found this picture the other day from 1960. It was the day I was taken out of 6 months of isolation in a hospital, and allowed to go home and spend my life in a wheel chair. I remember that day of feeling "set free". Forget a future life in a chair, I was just happy to be able to go outside, let alone go home and see my family. Well a miraculous healing 4 years later would set me free from the wheelchair for life, but I wonder at times what kind of residue those years left on my subconscious thoughts and the way I respond to life.

Our family helped raise upwards of 100 foster children over our lifetime, and I do know that i observed kid after kid with mental, physical and sexual abuse. My history pales in comparison to any of those kids who were broken and abused, and I often see their faces and think of how any of them could live a normal and healthy life or marriage with their pasts. I wonder how many entered marriages with the mountain of hidden problems unknown to their spouses.

Jesus is the only solution for mans eternal salvation. He is the only one who can heal the broken heart, mend the torn and tattered fabrics of our souls. And yet with all that God promises us, I'm broken hearted so often to see believer after believer growing older while carrying heavy baggage for their entire adult lives around on their souls. Never finding release. Born again, Spirit filled and trying their best to "not go to their pasts" but ending up returning to their past sins, addictions or letting them eat and destroy their very joy. Are you there. Still broken, Can't forgive, Can't forget?

Well you have to, if you want to move on.
Like the main character in the new book "The Shack", you come to a place where you have to forgive or you will slowly die from the inside out.

FORGIVENESS is the first step to HEALING.
Scars? Oh yea, they are there. Healing doesn't eliminate scars. Scars are a good thing.
I wrote a song years ago about a father who tells his son about a scar on his leg, and that scars are in our lives to remind us of what we've come through and do not want to repeat again.

Quiet prayer, concentrated prayer, fasting and seeking Gods face to "face" our pasts and let them go is the first step into the inner healing so many of us need. And it's an ongoing process. I believe God helps us deal with our issues a bit at a time so we don't completely freak out.

Lord today bring to mind just one of my unhealed wounds that I might take it to you finally and let it go to, begin that road to healing. Help me to be sensitive to not reproduce my faults into the lives of those I love and look after. Thy Kingom come, Thy will be done....


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

That's How You Lived

The photo is here was taken in Charleston S.C. during dinner one day close to sunset at a restaurant on the harbor.

Well, Yesterday morning I was praying and reading when this worship thought dropped into my head. I demoed it this morning and here's your chance to get a first listen.
Click on this link and open your player.

Hope your week is going well. We are in the throngs, like many of you, wondering how the economy is going to make things even more difficult in the flesh. It is our only comfort and hope to know we have a different long term goal, and it's not here. So.... We'll take what the world throws us and chalk it up as lessons on the road to home. Hope the worship tune ministers to you all.


Help Me Lord Jesus
To be strong and kneel down
To pick up the weapons
of Your world -- not mine
To love those who hate me
And forgive those who hurt me
Heal the broken hearted, the forgotten and scorned

Cause that's what You did
And that's how You lived
You gave up Your life
For one such as this
And I want to live
with reckless abandon
To love without thinking
Cause that's how You lived.

Help me Lord Jesus
To stand without falling
To walk without running
through every storm.
For the courage to lay down
My life at the altar
My dreams and desires
Will all become Yours.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

God Bless Humpty Dumpty

This last week as we are allowed to peek behind the economic curtain and see how badly greed has captured our fair system, I'm reminded of Humpty Dumpty. I pray our markets do not fall off the wall and yet that is the price we pay for not being good stewards.
You can not legislate greed and fairness but you can put penalties in place if you do get greedy. Let's pray that there is enough fear in politicians hearts today to at least try to do the right thing for the people as the U.S. attempts to correct this historic problem.
If my people, who are called by my name...
God always has conditions for us to receive His promises and yet we continue to believe we can get it our own ways and then be upset when things go south.

Lord forgive us for our selfish ways and for being such bad examples to the lost and dying world around us that "only" desires to live for "more" of the what the world offers. And we are here so often showing the world that we are addicted to the same idols. Help us to seeks self-lessness over selfishness. Pray for our nation.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Here I Am


Here I am,
Inviting You today.
In my live,
In every place in every way
Holy Spirit take control,
As I raise my hands to pray
I give my body mind an soul
A sacrifice this day.

Here i am, all for You
Wash me clean
Make me new
I worship You
The redeeming Lamb
Returning King
The Great I Am



Well it's about 3AM and i again realize what a night owl I have been for 35 years.
I love writing and recording into the morning hours.

The photo today is a rocker my mom gave me years ago for our daughter when she was born. It got pretty banged up and broken, but instead of throwing it away, I've used it as a flower pot and yard art various colors.

Today we checked out a new church and then Jane and I took Jordan to play paintball (woods and speed) for the rest of the day. What fun he has getting black and blue doing this! And tonight I went for the second straight night to hear a revivalist here in mpls. The worship both nights did not reach me but Doug Stanton the minister was just incredible in his sensitivity to ministering to each group. Tonight while he was ministering I had a new song come to me in that sweet place. The lyrics are above and here is a link to the first recorded version of it from here at the house tonight.

http://www.praise2worship.com/mp3s/HereIAm.mp3

What struck me as Doug ministered was how it begins with our confession and willingness to hear from God that opens His ability to work through us in all areas.
The line "Here I Am" came to me as a confessional opening line to worship.
Lord Here I Am. It begins with submission, humility and an invitation to our very cores.

Hope you all had a great weekend.
Doug Stanton is ministering in Brooklyn Center, Thurs-Mon. now at 7:30 till 10?
It is 5 fold ministry for the faint of heart, but his teaching and ministry the two nights I've seen him were sweetly spoken and rarely did he even raise his voice. "wow" how un-evangelistic. And he didn't tell even "one" joke.

I loved his heart to move the program according to what the Spirit was doing and leading. The program was different each night. His deal is not to have a church and steal folks from other churches, but to be a revivalist and "revive" folks and send them filled up and back to their local churches.

With all that's going on in Lakeland FL with Todd and his wife, revivals are not a hot topic to many folks today, but I was blessed to go and sit and get fed just watching people be set free in an open setting. hmmmm. God is good, and his methods to reach people continue to bless my heart and keep my eyes wide open.

I was so planning to hit the trout waters of WI in 3 hours but writing and recording a new worship song trumps just about anything. Hallelujah, be blessed and as with all my tunes, feel free to download them and send them on to others.
C

Friday, September 5, 2008

Lord Reign Forever (and begin in me)

I've been thinking about a song I wrote a few weeks ago over at church. I was worshiping at home and playing it on guitar when I realized that I needed to double the chorus, and give it a less smooth jazz vibe and more of an acoustic worship tune. Click here for a listen . (Let me know if it works for you).

Well the State fair is over now and all the diets are in order to attempt to shed the "food from a stick". I must admit that this year was the first year in about 10 that I went to the fair to see some friends of mine do a concert. AND I did have my old "2 corndogs" just like old times. Corn-fession is good for the soul.

Political conventions are also over now and the "red meat" has been thrown, so I expect 60 days of bitter commercials pitting one group against the other, and both in the name of God. I go back to portions of Greg Boyd's "Myth of a Christian Nation" and remind myself to pray for my enemies (politically and socially) and change my life first with unconditional love (until they threaten my family or nation).

I believed in states rights, gun rights, less government and non-legislative judges long before I found out they were a specific party platform. So I guess i'm a life long quazi independent conservative,with libertarian leanings who wants the planet taken care of, not used up. If you dirty my trout streams I'll come looking for you!

Abortion and Gay Rights have polarized the nation for over 30 years now and I just pray that "Each Individual" will have a "love" change in their hearts and "not" ever desire to have an abortion of one of God's precious children, as well as love my gay neighbors enough to let the love of Christ expose the truth in them and me. God has to do the changing. As for the Marriage Ammendment, it's of Judo-Christian history (the concept of marriage 'one man one woman') and it should never be "legislated" changed. If gay couples or hetrosexual couples living outside of marriage want to have "social rights" like insurance or hospital visitation rights then let the states individually decide and vote on it. If they want to name a commitment between themselves "Togethered" and go get "togethered" then have at it, but don't mess with the constitution of marriage. I agree that believers should not be in the business of judging nonbelievers by believers standards, but there has to be standard moral laws that we agree upon as a nation. That's why we are "NOT" Europe. "OR" the Muslim Nations.
Ok I'll do my best not to bring up politics for some time now. But with all we're going through right now, It's important that we discuss our hearts.

Pray for the independants. They will make this election sway one way or another. They need wisdom to weed through the lies and lunacy of the media and party hardliners.

Let's all tune up our snowmobiles and get some Caribou stew:)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Underneath The Ripples

Fishing in the Tuesday morning fishing club this last week, my partner left around noon. It looked like such a perfect morning for big browns, but alas nothing landed over 14 inches. I decided to take one last hike to the first big bend and pool corner at "paradise" on the Root River. There was a nice 30 yard stretch up to a big submerged rock with a little ripple on top, and a deep 45degree bend in the river with a deep pool past that. I kept thinking that I was gonna pull a nice brown out from around that rock if I could just present her the right pattern/depth and drift.

Well, I picked up a nice 14 inch brown on a #14 cream CDC emerger pattern. The cast was a long 40ft up stream past the rock and "pow". Then another 11 inch after that on a stonefly pattern.

The wind was blowing this whole time and I kept concentrating on the rock ahead and moving further into the middle of the river to get a better cast angle. Well I'm in up to my thighs (slow water) in small rock and sand and decided to change flys. So I looped up my line, cut a fly and as i was about to tie on a pheasant tail pattern the wind died down completely and I could see the bottom of the river ahead of me as clear as can be. I stared into the water with my polaroids and then stared again.
It was at that moment I realized that 10 feet in front of me and 5ft down in the water were 20 to 30 brown trout in the 12 to "20 inch range all together in a feeding lane. I just stood there for 5 min. and watched them feed. Of course I tied on a big weighted stonefly pattern to get down there in a hurry and tempt the larger trout only to catch the only rock in the bottom of the feeding lane on my first cast. God has a sense of humor. Of course I had to move forward and disgourge the fly from the rock and watch that lunchroom scatter for safer waters.

I say this this morning to remind myself that when there are winds blowing and waves on the water, it might appear as if there is nothing good insight, when in fact if we'd just slow down and wait, we might just find that God has something remarkable sitting right under our feet. It could be healing, new friends, ministry opportunities, job opportunities or possibly God just letting you know that in this world you will have troubles, but he can and will make good out of every situation and opportunity around you even if you can't see it, or even if someone else gets to catch the fish that day. :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Soul Finds Rest In God Alone


Ps.62:1 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.

This photo is of a sunset 8/21 in Lanesboro, MN. Jane took me there to our favorite B&B for my birthday, to chil-axe for two days. We have found a place on an old farm that has been rebuilt into a psudo 18th century French garden on the outside and palace on the inside. I will share other photos of this property and gardens in the weeks ahead here.

God wants us to find places of rest. In this world of distractions, it is where we come to find him when all becomes still. We are instructed to find a closet to pray for the same reasons. Not because God likes us literally in the dark, but because he knows our propensity to be distracted by every possible sight and sound and smell that takes us in a thousand directions away from prayer at any nano second, and silence and darkness help to take those things away.

It's one of the reasons I desire to have sanctuary lights go down in a service when the worship moves from praises, to worship, prayer, stillness and listening for His still small voice.

Entertainment understands this. You can't go to a movie, or a play, or dance, opera or concert without the lights being dimmed. They want to you focus and not be distracted. How is it that much of the church has not figured this out yet.

I was recently at a church that seats a few thousand. A real praising church. When I arrived they were in the process of eliminating all the ceiling light bulbs with tube/vapor/incandescent lights that took a minute to turn on and off. They were doing this to save on electricity. They wanted to become a worshiping church, not just a praising church. In the midst of trying to figure out how, they were taking away one of the large tools used to create an atmosphere of worship in a service.

Many of the Mosaic services use only candles, rugs, incense and earthy backdrops to help create this atmosphere for believers. Like the early tabernacle, only the lights of candles (the holy spirit) were able to illuminate the priest in the holy of holies with the fragrance of incense or sacrifices raising up to Jehovah's nostrils as a sacrifice of "worship".

So today let's decide to find that secret place, that quiet place more often. Force ourselves to take that time. Tell our children that we need that time alone with God, to be able to be the best we can for them and the world around us.

It is in those places that we become still and find that "still-perfect-peace", that passes all our understanding and helps up keep our faith and trust in him through every God encounter of every day.

I can sit and stare at that sunset above, and in the silence be reminded that there will never be another one just like that for me to view. Each one's new. New every morning. Given as a gift as if to say, "Look and see my child, I love you again today, accept this gift and share it with Me".

Selah.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Friends

Long before the great war, there were a handful of guys who played basketball out in the snow at 8years of age. They grew up together to play in a H.S. state final. Then off to war at 17 & 18 they went. Coming home to go to college, struggle to raise families and find a way to be all God meant them to be in this land called America.
They didn't talk about themselves much, or their accomplishments unless in private amongst themselves. That's the way it was. They respected each others faiths, and that was just a part of what deepened their connections. My father was diagnosed with Lung Cancer (asbestos from Naval Ships) that went to his brain.
The photo above is just a couple days before my father gloriously flew off to serve and worship at his final station. (a phrase the military uses in services). This photo is a permanent reminder to me of true friendship.

You see when my father shook his head and said no to food, he let us know he had started that final clock. When he was to 4 days without water and we knew he had just a day or two left, my younger brother Akevia said something profound to me. "Craig why don't we call dads best friends and give them the opportunity to come say goodbye while dad could still see, hear and blink yes and no". Well most had died already but I thought, what an awesome opportunity to say goodbye to a friend. So I called "Roger" and suggested it to him. Without finishing my statement he said he would be there within the hour. Well less than an hour later (without dad knowing about) his two oldest friend poked their heads around the door frame of his bedroom.
Dad had not moved in a week and at the sight of his "pals" his eye's shot open and a makeshift smile cracked on his face as 'with all his might' he raised both arms up to give the honored thumbs up to them. I've never been so honored to sit in a room amongst men who quietly loved each other beyond comprehension. No sad comments, they sat telling me stories about my dad that i had never heard. Stories that 'as they told me' they would look at my dad and laughingly say "finally Paul we get to talk about you without you stopping us or talking back".
Oh the stories. Oh the friendship. Oh the goodbye, of knowing you would never see your friend again this side of glory. A hug a kiss and a stare while being able to tell them you love them and look forward to seeing them soon. I can remember the look in my dads eyes as they left the room. All emotions wrapped up into a remarkable stare that could not shed tears any longer. No water remained for that in his system. - There I saw uncommon love -

At my local Emmanuel C.C. church "a large A.G. congregation of 4k plus", the Sr. and Founding pastor has turned the church over to his son Dwight. One of the things I love about Dwight is his honest and straight forward look at life and faith. He developed a bookmark for the church. It's called

"5 FRIENDS"

It has a list of five blanks where you are to write down the names of five of your best friends who are not saved. It's a reminder of a number of things.
1. We need to pray for the lost (those we love)
2. We need to have relationships with them (the lost) in order to be the hand and feet of Christ to them.
3.We need to pray for others and not just our own needs.
4. We need to be ready in and out of season, to share the Love of Christ in word and deed to a lost and dying world.

I so love this card because it reminds the church that if you don't have 5 non-saved people in your life to pray for and love on, then you're probably not having much success in accomplishing the great commission.

You may not have "5" and are wondering how do I get "five".
Ask the Lord to give you a burden for them. To bring them to your mind.
It could be someone you know or someone you work with. Or someone who services your car, or a favorite waitress or local police officer. The point of it is that we intercede on their behalf before the father for mercy and grace to be given in enough measure to break their hearts open to the effects of the cross. If you truly knew that someone loved you without measure or condition, you would want to know why and it would be hard to say no to such love.

Who are your 5?

I'm looking at mine right now and asking the Lord to forgive me again today for each day I forget to pray for my five, and call them and let them know I love them and want to be in their lives because they are special to me.

I leave for a funeral now of my brother in laws 21 year old nephew who died in a freak motorcycle accident. In fact it is also the nephew of the pastor I was just talking about. Pray for their family as they begin the unimaginable road to healing.

love you all!
C

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Trap Lies In His Path

Job 18:10 A noose is hidden for him on the ground; a trap lies in his path.

As the sun came up one morning on the river, I snapped this photo of a web being exposed by the morning light and dew. Yes Light exposes darkness if we let it.

As we negotiate the rivers of life we will come upon slippery stones, sinking sand and muck, unseen drop-offs, dangerous currents that look normal to the eye, and on and on. If you focus on one thing you get tripped or caught by another. If you go to slowly, you'll never catch a fish or find much in the journey because you're afraid of stumbling. If you go to fast you most certainly will scare the fish away, and you will get hurt.
We don't think of the branches, or trappings above, but they can ruin your day or life as quickly as the things below your feet. You say "well forget it, I'm staying out of the water then, it's too much risk for such little reward". Yup, that answer would mean you do not have the passion to put up with the risk/reward of stream fishing with a long rod.

I'm sure most hunters of big game could tell this same story in a different way, as it relates to the dangers of hunting in the wild and how life can be in danger at any moment.

What in life do you have enough passion for that you are willing to risk your life in peril, for what would appear to be a small reward to most?

Your own life, Your kids, Your spouse or family, Your pets, Your job,Your hobbies, Your prize possessions, Your faith?

Are we willing to die to the things we live for, in order to live with the things we died for?

I think it is so funny at times that we really believe that "holding on to our desires for anything" will make us happier than giving them all back to the one who gave them to us in the first place. Somehow thinking that we, with great pride, own what was given to us in the first place is some form of righteous thinking that can be justified by our words to each other. Whether it's our children, or talents or possessions or positions, we grab tight and say "ITS MINE". "Ok, you make your own dirt from scratch and then we can talk about what 'you' own". Yaaa, that would be a good teeshirt for me to wear to remind myself of my personal stewardship of everything He's blessed me with.

But that begs the question at any given time in life. What is mine. What is my responsibility. What should I "really" do? What direction should I turn now?

The "If I --- then this" can freeze you in the river.

Study the stream, read about the pitfalls, know you will have some, remember where you got in and what it looked like, keep a compass, wear the proper gear and try not to go alone where you know it is dangerous.

Life is so much easier if you have good sound advice (that you listen to), and you take it.
Life is so much harder when we take un sound advice and then blame the river.

Unsound River Advice:

  • You'll be a failure in the river, so don't go
  • You are a failure and you better admit it or you don't deserve to go in the river.
  • You need to fish just like me or get the heck out of the river.
  • Dress like a fisherman or don't go in the river.
  • Use the same bait or fish with someone else.
  • Slipping and getting wet doesn't count unless you go all the way under.
  • If you see a fish, you can catch it.
  • It's all in your knowledge of the tackle.
  • He with the most tackle catches the most fish ;)
  • The rocks are not slippery if you tell them not to be.
  • Different branches along the river will not catch your line or make you mad when 'you' throw your line at, and get yourself caught up in them.
  • You can always catch fish the same way and in the same place.
  • Fish bite when the sun is shining.
  • Fish don't bite when the weathers bad.
  • Beat a fish with a bait and sooner or later they'll bite.
  • Presentation means very little.
  • Guides are the answer, let them do the work.
  • The wading belt is not as important as the wading staff
  • If you put back a ''19 trout you'll get 1,900 more.
  • A sucker is born every day. (they are hatched actually)
  • Find the widest path to the river, it's proven success.
Ok, I've been all over the map on this blog today, but I hope you got something to laugh at, rejoice in, disagree with or chew on. Bottom line is: In this world you will have trouble, so get over it. Just remember He has overcome the world and left us all His promises in His path and each other to love and walk them with.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Shack


Well, a friend called me two days ago crying. He was reading a book and stopped long enough to call me and beg me to leave my house, pick up a copy of this book, read it and call him back.
Yes, i ran over to Target which had them in paperback at 11.99 with a 20% discount. Yee haa.

Ok, Fiction is not my thing, and since "This Present Darkeness", I've not really been interested in any fiction outside of movies. I say give me 2hr's in a movie of a 6hr. book and let's call it entertainment. That gives me 4 hours to do something more productive with my entertainment hours like the food network or "how it's made" or tennis/r. ball/fishing or golf with the boys.

Well, at 4PM yesterday I opened the book, and with a few distractions I finished before bed. As much as G. Boyds' "Myth of a Christian Nation" changed how I frame "politics and religion", and "My Utmost for His Highest"daily blows my mind in it's ability to be "alive" with truth year after year, this book gave possible answers to questions that I've only begun to chew on today. In fact I must now get a hard copy of it and begin highlighting and logging into my computer the dozen upon dozen's of statements that blew my mind. Fiction or not, the answers spoken of in this work will challenge your religious upbringing's vision of it all. Not the truth mind you, but how you see it and relate it. Yes this is the book i want to give to every person searching for God who is afraid of the Bible and all "we" have made it represent through the ages.

The fact that the writer dig's and quotes old Bruce Cockburn songs won me over as well. In fact there is a line "dew reflects the morning glow" that had to subliminally come from Cockburn's "Mirrors reflect the days last glow, as we spin out ore the jigsaw flow".

With that aside, I would be very happy to hear from anyone who reads this and then reads "The Shack".
Since I can not discuss anything from the book so as not to spoil it's affects for those about to embark, I look forward to future conversations about it's content.

There is only one Bible, One Word of God, One Saviour. This book certainly confirms this in a way never done before. And like Jesus it is inclusionary, not exclusionary.

MN State Fair starts this week, so begin the pre-fasting to prepare for the "on-a stick", in all it's splendor.

PS. God is very fond of you. :)

Friday, August 8, 2008

God's Spirit, Yes it's Holy, by golly it is the Holy Spirit.

The other morning I dropped Jane at the airport at 5:30AM and headed to the Rush River, East of Elsworth WI for a few hours of fly fishing. The sun was just coming up as I headed through the farm fields of W. Wisc. I took this photo at 55mph (saving gas) out my window as the fog was covering the fields and the sun was doing it's Best Ever sunrise each day. Thank you God that nothing in life is duplicated when You make it. PS. if you click on any of the photos in this blog, some of them will open into their "full" size to be viewed more properly. This one is great:)

Ok on to the Holy Spirit. I've spent the last week re-reading the histories of the mainline denominations from the Reformation on. From Luther, through, Wesley, Calvin, Arminius, Revivalists, Holiness, Remonstrants, Anabaptist, Purists, General Baptist, Particular Baptists,
Wesleyan, 4 Square, Covenant, EV Free, Pentecostal, ECC, UCC, Methodist, Nazarene and then the "hundred" or more break offs from there.

As exciting is it is to see the visions and great lives of faith lived, it can be depressing that men have gone to such great lengths to Major in the Minors of faith. Billy Graham led a convention in 1974 in Switzerland, to unite churches back to the vision of global (that means neighborhoods also) missions. The statement that came out of that, as well as a follow up conference in Manila were (i thought) some of the best "uniting" statements made cross denominational lines. With the exception of Statement #14 on the Holy Spirit; which was given the "non confrontational" you can tell it's in a life by the fruit", the document is my current statement of faith. These documents can be read at http://www.praise2worship.com/newlife.htm along with the following explanation of the Holy Spirit's power in a believers life.

As to #14 God's Spirit, the Holy Spirit, Part of the Trinity, there has been so many centuries of un-needed infighting. I've held for years that once a person is born again:saved,reborn,washed in the blood,sanctified, that God's most Holy Spirit enters that person. It is how our spirits connect to God's Holy Spirit by the shed blood of the lamb. Without this process of sanctification we can have no contact with God or the Holy Spirit, for He can have nothing to do with sin. In this process of submissive acceptance of our sinful nature, and need for a Savior, we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that he and he alone is the only son of God who shed his blood to reconcile the world back unto Himself. While Jesus was alive he told us of the Holy Spirit to come and what it's purpose would be. The infighting over the Holy Spirit and it's gifts is not necessary, nor a hill to die over, hence I believe this is why it was probably discussed but not printed in detail in the Lausanne or Manila Conferences and subsequent documents.

I do however believe that all the gifts of the Holy Spirit are in action today - WITH POWER -. Whether a believer chooses to allow God's Spirit to use them in their spiritual walk and battle, is generally a matter of choice. There are written examples of believers seeking God in prayer that were not believers in the gifts of the Holy Spirit who were overcome by the Holy Spirit and suddenly had supernatural abilities for great miracles, great faith, great wisdom, healing, deliverance, supernatural discernment, a prophetic word, a tongue or interpretation. That's not the norm however. They normally come by asking and asking by faith. The act of believing in these free gifts and the subsequent manifestations of them happens in various ways. To take a hard position and 'box' how the Holy Spirit must manifest it's power and gifts in our lives is not worth the division it creates. It is poor judgement to deny all manifested gifts of the Holy Spirit only if "hands are laid on". To say this only happens when hands have been laid on and a person has spoken in tongues ie" being doctrinally filled with the spirit", discounts all the mighty works of God done through believers who have not had this experience. It is an insult to the Holy Spirit to put him in a box and quite honestly there are so many believers who have manifest all of the various gifts of the Spirit without hands being laid on them throughout the centuries that i'm amazed this position continues. Like Paul, I speak in an unknown tongue throughout every day of my life, for over 35 years. I remember praying the sinners prayer in 1972 alone in my room. It was the most powerful two minutes of my life. What I "felt" and experienced as the Holy Spirit entered my contrite and humble spirit, I have never experienced quite the same. I knew no Christians, no one to call. So as I poured through the Word day and night, I came upon John "the dunker" and realized even though I was baptized as an infant and confirmed, I believed I should be baptized again. I went fishing (fly fishing) and while in the lake I confessed my death and burial and new life in Christ and baptized myself. Certainly not orthodox, but God looks at the heart not the method. I then came to the book of Acts and said "gee I believe I'm supposed to have these gifts active in my walk", so I began to pray for them each day, asking God to prepare my heart and life for their use in life's ministry. Yes it was awkward beginning to pray in an unknown tongue alone in my room at first. Satan certainly spoke to my mind telling me that it was 'his' tongue. To utter the first prophecy or word of knowledge was also very scary. Well it doesn't take long to learn when the enemy tries to twist God's promises. All that was over 30 years ago, and I continue to rely on the Holy Spirit's gifts to help fight the enemy and strengthen my spirit man within. You can not deny your own experiences as fake when they produce good fruit and edify the church.

On the other hand to discount the "Gifts" as a"one time only" dispensation, and to discount the non laying or laying on of hands with speaking in tongues, prophesy and any other gift of the Holy Spirit that is manifest through believers, is to insult the Holy Spirit from the other end of the camp. I see pastors and believers who have crossed camps over the years due to their experiences with how the Holy Spirit was treated in a particular body or by a particular leader who's fruit did not match their words.

Yes I've also noted over the years that a personality that is normally subdued and sanguine tends to find a church and doctrine that helps them feel more like "themselves" (I won't name denominations). (This is especially true in musical worship styles). And there are those Type A, A.D.D. excitable, sometimes flaky, personalities that tend to gravitate towards excitable churches and ones that have more of the outward verbal gifts of the Holy Spirit in action (you know those churches). THEY BOTH ARE OK. They both have hearts for the great commission and both camps are just as apt at doing a Peter and denying Christ on any given day by walking in the flesh over any little thing. We are all human before we are Christians. Don't think so highly of your lifestyle choices and positions, there by the grace of God go I each day. Line it up with the "red letters"

Test every spirit. Does the spirit confess Jesus as Lord? Does it speak the word in love? Does it manifest a life of good fruit? Well Hallelujah, let's get back to being His hands and feet and stop fighting about boxers or briefs.

Are there counterfeits, charlatans and religious secularists who eschew and support false doctrine (whether in ignorance or not)? Of course, but let's not minimize the Holy Spirits power and authority over men's failings. You should be able to rightly divide the Word, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, then your mentors and elders about any person or ministry that you have a question about, and come to some wisdom about a persons motives, intent and character. Don't just take a ministers word for it. Including me:)

I say "Come Lord Jesus Come and Holy Spirit Fall. Begin the revival and purification in my heart so that I can be filled with the Holy Spirit and be able and ready to use His "gifts" to be used to His maximum purpose. Amen

So as you worship and pray and commune with God through the Holy Spirit today and by Christ's blood, I pray that His overwhelming mercy will melt your heart no matter your circumstances, and you will be left saying "I love you, thank you, for I'm not worthy".