Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

About a month ago I purchased Minnesota Gopher Hockey tickets from a co-worker for a game coming up this week. For those of you who are not from

Book by Kyle Idleman

Minnesota, typically the University of Minnesota Gopher Hockey are one of the hottest venues for sports entertainment in the State, especially for games against other teams that are doing well.

Yesterday, I decided I better try and find the tickets that I paid $70 for. After turning the house inside out, and searching my work bag 3 times, I came up empty handed. “Well,” I thought, “at least they might still be in my desk drawer at work.”

After getting to work, I searched all the cabinets and drawers. No tickets! Bummer.

I called Lisa for something else this morning and relayed the outcome. I asked her if she’d be kind enough to help me look one more time at home. Sometimes my bi-focals play tricks and I miss the obvious right in front of me. She also had to pick me up this evening at the park ‘n ride. When she picked me up at 5:30 I got in the car and said I was sorry I’d misplaced the tickets and wasted $70. And then I said, “I think I should ask the Lord if he’d show me where they are.” And I asked her if that sounded like a dumb thing to do. Lisa and I have been studying about God’s sovereignty over all things and 2 missing tickets seemed such an insignificant item in the vast schemes, plots and problems of the world. But we said let’s just pray while we drive home.

We prayed. I asked God to forgive me for asking about such dumb thing as this, and that I felt bad about wasting the money and not keeping track of stuff. I said it was okay if we didn’t find the tickets, but that I really wanted to feel better and not beat myself up over such insignificant things.

After dinner Lisa helped me go through the usual spots in the house  where we usually put stuff like tickets. Then we got out my work bag for the 4th time. She started emptying out the contents and working our way through the items.

Suddenly, a book I’d recently finished fell out on the floor. The book is by Kyle Idleman called not a fan. Becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus.” The book asks readers a simple question: Are you a fan or a follower? And to quote the back cover, the point of the book is that Jesus isn’t interested in you being his fan (e.g. an enthusiastic admirer.) “Fans want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires sacrifice….Jesus was never interested in having admirers. It’s not fans he is looking for.”

I picked the book up off the floor, rifled the pages and the 2 Gopher hockey tickets tumbled out.

Lisa and I looked at each other and I started laughing. And then I got a little teary eyed. God has a sense of humor, oh yes. But he also used this to remind me of something very important. I can talk to him about anything and everything. He’s in every little detail of everything that happens in the universe every day. And he reminded me that being a follower means talking with him regularly and talking about more than just Gopher hockey tickets.

He loved on me just enough to get me to laugh and loved on me hard enough to cry and receive his grace and his invitation to converse…daily. I’m a fan of Gopher hockey and not a fan of Jesus, but a follower. Hope you are too.


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Numinous Awe

“The Numinous is not the same as the morally good, and a man overwhelmed with awe is likely, if left to himself, to think the numinous object beyond good and evil.”
C.S. Lewis

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Lisa and I are about half way through a 16 week course on discipleship at church. It’s been a really great class. There have been several instances of God speaking to us through the course homework.  Several times we have been challenged to think about when significant things occurred because someone else had the courage to follow through on challenging our behavior, thinking, words or beliefs.

The point was simply that someone cared about us or loved us enough to do what seems hard to do, but when they did it, it had eternal repercussions.

I know I haven’t always thought of the eternal consequences of my relationships with others as a motivation for what to say or how to say it when I’m with them. When it comes to discipleship and sharing the Gospel, the learning for me is that our relationships need to be intentional, our words, actions and behavior toward the other person should be motivated out of a brotherly love for the eternal well-being of the other.

As a result of knowing this, I’m beginning to understand the importance of my conversational intimacy with Yeshua. The sound of that intimacy is amplified when I shut my own mouth, quit talking and listen to Him and then, of course, do what He says.

That conversational intimacy allowed God to use me (a misfit from the island of misfit toys if there ever was one) as a blessing to my uncle and in-turn that became an encouragement that God is all over the details of our lives. He is. He really is. To God be the glory for that. For confirmation of this story: click here.

I leave you tonight to consider these words from Yeshua Messiah: “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor [Helper] to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.”

If you need prayer and encouragement because you desire to know the Gospel of Yeshua Messiah and want conversational intimacy with Him, leave us a comment on the blog. We’ll commit to praying specifically on your behalf. We also will direct you to on-line resources that provide more information about a relationship that promises conversational intimacy with your creator.

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I’ll just be honest. I don’t like having a broken foot. I don’t like spending most of my day on our futon. The futon isn’t that cozy. And my “to-do” list is growing.

I don’t like watching my husband do a good share of the cooking, cleaning and laundry. I know that might sound silly, but I am definitely ready to jump back into having a mobile life again. I want my freedom back. For three weeks I’ve been unable to carry anything and unable to drive and there’s barely one position that works comfortably well for sleeping these days.

I know that sounds like a lot of complaining. The truth is there’s nothing to really complain about. I know this is temporary. It’s obviously not in the top 10 of medical issues that deserve extreme sympathy. Not even close. And I’ve got a great husband who is taking good care of me. As I write, he’s downstairs doing the dishes. How can I complain?

I’ve had my moments of frustration and even self-pity. My to-do list grows and the house is a little dusty, but I’ve also felt new compassion for people who have truly long-term health challenges. That is one of the gifts in this season of inconvenience. Sure the scooter was sort of fun, until I experienced the awkwardness of it running out of juice in the middle of a busy aisle at Costco. And then came the looks of pity from passers-by. I have been humbled to ask for help when there was no other way. 

There have been other unexpected discoveries. I’ve seen how just hobbling around in a boot with crutches seems to break barriers. Perhaps it comes from being in an obvious place of vulnerability. All sorts of people have opened up conversations with me that I’m quite sure never would have otherwise.

People have gone out of their way to open doors, offered to help, given advice from personal experience with broken bones and extended encouragement. Total strangers have smiled and wished me well.

On the way home from the doctor, we got into long discussions with couples who sat next to us when we stopped for lunch. I think it ended up being a timely encouragement for all of us. Last week two women stopped me at Target, asking if they could pray for me. What a sweet gift. At the Ordway, two women shared a bunch of their life story with me while Brent went to get the car. When he picked me up, he was amazed at all I had learned in a mere 15 minutes. I love to hear people’s stories and am reminded to pray for them as they come to mind.

We know that God has purpose in this latest adventure he has us on, so we’re doing our best to sit up and take notice. We’re praying that the inconvenience, the extra sense of weariness we feel at the end of the night, and the momentary frustrations don’t get in the way of all he wants to show us. We don’t want to miss a thing. 

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What was important to Steve Jobs at the end of life may surprise you. The title isn’t a question. Writer Walter Isaacson has spent the last several years interviewing Steve Job’s to write Jobs’ biography. As Steve’s cancer took over his body, Jobs’ mind remained sharp, his physical abilities deteriorated. But that’s not what the book is about as you’ll see if you watch the CBS 60 Minutes interview of Isaacson. Part One of the interview here.

We’re reminded that Jobs didn’t write any code, he wasn’t even the best engineer. “He was a master at arranging ideas, art and technology in ways that repeatedly invented the future.” So it wasn’t Jobs’ words, nor his writings that intrigue us, it’s his person. How he lived leads us to want to know what was important when he was about to die. And that is because in our own minds, we wonder, “If I knew when I was going to die, would I change the way I live now? What would be important to me?”

I read about this book in last week’s copy of Time where Isaacson gives a two page preview of the book [subscription required] as part of a focus article on Jobs’ accomplishments. Summarizing the book preview, Isaacson writes,

“A few weeks ago, I visited Jobs for the last time in his Palo Alto, CA home. He had moved to a downstairs bedroom because he was too weak to go up and down stairs. He was curled up in some pain, but his mind was still sharp and his humor vibrant. We talked about his childhood, and he gave me some pictures of his father and family to use in my biography. As a writer, I was used to being detached, but I was hit by a wave of sadness as I tried to say goodbye. In order to mask my emotion, I asked the one question that was still puzzling me: Why had he been so eager, during close to 50 interviews and conversations over the course of two years, to open up so much for a book when he was usually so private? “I wanted my kids to know me,” he said. “I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”


Interesting. One of the most recognized men in America needed a guy to write a biography of his life because it was important that his kids “knew” him and “understood” him. I plan to read this book, but I do so with a strange question I noted in an article by John Piper on the Desiring God website entitled, “He Kissed the Rose and Felt the Thorn: Living and Dying in the Morning of Life”

The strange question from Piper is, “Books about sinful men can deflect our attention from the main book about the sinless man. So is the writing and reading of such books a good thing?”

Piper begins,

“The most important example in all of history of someone who did not publish any books and died young, and yet made an impact on the world all out of proportion to his short life, was Jesus Christ. He was about 33 years old when he was crucified. Today 1.3 billion people call themselves Christian because of his life and death and resurrection.

The key to this impact is two things, not just one. It’s always two things. First, and most important, is who he was—the sheer truth and power and beauty of the God-man. Being who he was created a movement in the world that is irrepressible. It was not his writing. He did not write. It was his Person, his spoken words, and his actions. His presence in the world was inescapable and unendingly powerful. That’s the first key to his impact on history.

The second—and there must be a second—is that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, and Jude portrayed his Person and work in writing. They did write. And by means of those writings, the reality and truth and power and beauty of the Son of God can be known today. If there had been no Person, there would have been no books. And if there had been no books, we would not know the Person. And we would be lost.”

If you get to the second part of 60 Minutes’ interview with Isaacson, you’ll learn that as Steve Jobs’ body inched closer to death, he became more and more hopeful for a continuance of life while still struggling with the idea that he was either “on” or “off” – in binary, that’s either “1” or “0”. Steve never did like the idea of being turned “off”, so he didn’t design products with an “off” switch.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Steve came to know the one Person who authors life and offers everlasting life. But it’s not because there isn’t a book describing Him. He wrote a book that not only tells you who He is and what He’s done, but it reminds you that He’s always been there for you – whether you believe in Him or not.

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I don’t imagine we’ve been married long enough to suppose we can offer too much in the way of marital advice. But one thing we’ve experienced in our short time together as man and wife is that while challenges and trials can put great pressure on a relationship, they can also deepen and cement it. Right from the start this was evident for us.

While we were dating, I ended up needing a biopsy. I was scared, but not having dated all that long I had no idea how Brent would react. I was amazed at his response. He assured me that he’d be there no matter what the outcome was. He even sought out the advice of a female friend, wanting to understand what I might be going through from a woman’s point of view. Thankfully, the outcome was good, but we knew a bit more about what each other was made of.

Not long after we were married, we found ourselves facing considerable home expenses that were completely out of our control. The economy, the timing our our wedding, having to sell one of our homes and unexpected home repairs all came together at the same time. Quickly, we learned even more about one another. Yes, it was stressful for both of us. At one time or another, each of us struggled with it. But I was grateful that more often than not, Brent’s response was something like, “Well, God’s in control. He owns it all anyway. He must have a purpose. He’ll see us through.”

Through every challenge you learn more. You learn when and how to communicate. On a lighter note, just this week I realized I had adjusted my method of communicating impending traffic dangers during our busy morning commute. In the beginning, I typically let out a loud gasp while pressing that pseudo passenger-side brake. Unfortunately, that only alarmed Brent and was not helpful. I see now that I’ve adjusted my communication to a gentle side-to-side wave. (It’s sometimes still accompanied by braking.) This is much less alarming, seems to work fairly well and gets a chuckle or two from Brent.

My prince in shining armor

This week we’ve entered a whole new lesson platform. After a major miscommunication with the stairway, I ended up with a fairly severe fractured foot. This will mean six or more weeks of being dramatically to roughly incapacitated. And that means Brent is making dinners, cleaning, doing laundry, driving and more. That might sound like a dream for some, but being someone like me who always has a long list and has a hard time even sitting through one TV show without getting up to clean something, this will be an immense challenge. I’m in pain, impatient with the healing process already and poor Brent is fetching me everything from Tylenol to meals to ice packs. Tell me we won’t learn a thing or two in the coming weeks! We could use your prayers.

We’ve been reading a lot about the sovereignty of God lately. That’s probably not a coincidence in itself. We’re trusting that this current little “blurp” in our plans has his fingerprints all over it. It’s a pain. I’ve complained already and it’s annoying. But we’ve also begun to see him unfold some opportunities we’d never have had outside of these current circumstances. And so we hobble along and pray for his grace to see and embrace these unexpected opportunities.

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John Eldredge is the author and leader of Ransomed Heart Ministries. I have read all of John’s books and attended 2 of his conferences in Colorado. Here is a quick review of his latest book, Beautiful Outlaw.

Beautiful Outlaw inspires me to relate to Jesus in new ways, like many of John’s other books. Beautiful Outlaw focuses on the “man” in the personality of the God-man, namely Jesus. John describes how the humanity of Jesus is God’s beautiful solution that enables us to relate to him personally. He argues that the humanity of Christ is as important as his sovereignty, and experiencing Christ’s full personality is paramount to knowing him. He faults too many churches for letting the Deceiver distort Christ by being “highly invested in doing religion right.” In other words, their focus is on our performance versus what Christ has done for us and how he has made himself available to us to experience real life.

Biblically speaking, experiencing is the subtle and very Hebrew way of “knowing” someone or something. God leads the Hebrews into Sinai for 40 years in order to teach and test their hearts by experiencing what it means to be totally dependent on him for everything. This is God teaching them and us how to begin to “know” God.

John unpacks Jesus’ character one chapter at a time providing a channel to experience Jesus’ playfulness, fierceness, generosity, honesty, freedom, cunning, humility, trueness, beauty and loving.

By the middle of the book [pg 124], John really closes in on the crux of the barrier of experiencing God’s full character. Specifically he writes, “Consider the natural human longing to be loved and admired”. I would go further and say Jesus made each of us with a God sized hole in our heart that only he can fill. John’s point is that we all desire to be loved unconditionally for who we are. So when Jesus relates to us with his humanity, we hide [see Adam & Eve]. We don’t believe him because we don’t think of ourselves as worthy enough to receive the promises of these personal characteristics. We don’t believe we’re worthy because our experience focuses on our performance, what we think and what others think. The solution is to focus on Jesus’ performance, and on what Jesus says about us. John says, “Love Jesus. Let him be himself with you. Allow his life to fill yours. Everyday give him your life to be filled with his.”

John likes to quote George MacDonald. This quote isn’t in the book, but it seems to sum up the barrier that John is trying to help tear down, “Man finds it hard to get what he wants because he does not want the best. God finds it hard to give because he would give us the best, and man will not take it.”

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