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".


Tuesday, August 19, 2008


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


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!

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 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".