My favorite Promise Keepers picture was with my son in Las Vegas in 2003

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I'm going through old pictures from Yahoo's soon to be closed-down photo storage sight called Flickr and I ran across this gem from the 2003 Promise Keepers in Las Vegas.  Our son Justin was studying at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and needed a break, so he and I hopped a plane from our different locations and met in Las Vegas.

It was the ultimate guys' weekend where we spent our time hearing and talking about our relationship with God.  What a backdrop for a national men's Christian group.  After it was over we walked the strip, ate some food and talked about everything.  It was a God-given chance for a father and son to get to know each other on a more intimate basis.

We went together to 10 more PK rallies and grew that bond even tighter.  I thank God for that chance and that we were able to take advantage of it.

 


My week in a few pictures-part one

 

Click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Do you take many pictures with your cellphone?  I do.  I have thousands and I like looking at them.  I'm reminded everyday of how much God has blessed me.  

My first picture on the left is from my breakfast this morning.  Poached eggs and plain toast with strawberries without sugar.  It's one of my favorite breakfasts.  I'll see if I can find a picture of another favorite breakfast.  

I finally got tired of asking friends "what did you say" and "can you say that again?"  So as part of my recent medical experiences I went to the audiologist at my Ear, Nose and Throat practice and got my hearing tested and got some pretty decent hearing aids.  I had to pick out the type, of course.  But along with that, I picked out a color.

Next to that is a picture I found of my mom and dad taken after they were married.  In my study, there are several boxes of photos that I inherited from my mom.  I'm going through them carefully, trying to identify people and time periods.


I'm still processing what the vascular surgeon told me about my clogged carotid arteries

Me sitting against a tree next to the Detroit River.
Sitting against a tree last Sunday on the Detroit River.

I felt like I was just tasered yesterday when the vascular surgeon told me there's nothing they could do for my clogged arteries in my neck, one is fully blocked and the other is less than 50 percent, he said.  My wife Gladys was sitting next to me in the exam room when he told me that my hope for getting blood to my brain and to my eyes would be centered around a blood thinner that could probably clean out our kitchen sink.

A CLARIFICATION: The doctor pointed out that with the right carotid being less than 50 percent blocked that the Plavix blood thinner that he prescribed can be effective.  There are apparently other sources of blood supply to the brain too.  It's serious, but not dire.

Since learning that I have clogged carotids, I had been researching surgeries to unclog them.  YouTube is filled with all kinds of video showing the amazing procedure where the carotid is cut open and the blockage is tweezed out.  But, the doctor said that experience has shown that when one of the arteries is blocked 100 percent that the risks are too high.  Strokes and death can easily be the result.

One last hope is an imaging test that can determine whether there's even a trickle of blood through the artery that's completely blocked.  He said, the odds are against that happening.

So, what are my thoughts about this as I celebrate one whole week of being 72 years old?  The words bucket list come to mind.  Going forward, I need to be extra picky about what I do and think.  At various points in my life, I felt more freedom to ignore doing certain things.  And, right now, I'm carefully going through my list of what's important to me and what's not.

Let me emphasize that no one has said I'm on the verge of needing to cut the grass of my cemetery plot and no one has said I'm in imminent danger of having a stroke or a heart attack.  But, I know the realities of what I'm dealing with as I move forward in my glaucoma and cornea journey.

As I'm moving ahead with all this and as I watch episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond for the umpteenth time, I'm trying to pay attention to what's important to me.

Christian songwriter and singer Matt Redmond has a song 10,000 Reasons.  It's about giving praise and thanks to God at all stages of life from birth to old age and to death.  I know that I've surpassed 10,000 reasons by many times.  My wife, my kids, their spouses and my grandkids.  My memory bank is filled with reasons.  

God has blessed me greatly and I know it, even though I might not always show it.  The Bible is always in my pocket and I open it throughout the day.  Today, I'm asking for His help in giving my anxiety to him.  I want him to carry it and I know he will.  It's a promise that I'm betting my life on.

"May your will be done Lord."  

 


Responding to Trump and his Charlottesville remarks: What would Jesus do?

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This is me.

Is this a good time to ask the question:  What would Jesus do?

I'm sickened by what President Trump said about the Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups.  He doesn't represent me and a whole lot of other people in their thinking about people who look different than them and who come from different ethnic backgrounds.

In my mind, it all comes back to Jesus Christ and the life he lived.  First, Jesus was a Jew.  Do the white power types know this?  Yet many of them call themselves Jesus followers.  How do they explain that?

In the past there used to be uniting figures who could bring people of all types together.  One was Billy Graham, a world famous evangelist whose son Franklin has assumed leadership of his ministry.  But, it should be noted that he is an unabashed supporter of Trump.  

What's next for this country?  Does Trump need to step down?

This country needs to cleanse itself from this evil way of thinking and acting.

What would Jesus do?


Are idols more than the golden calf found by Moses at the bottom of Mount Sinai?

Remember the golden calf that Moses found when he came down from the top of the mountain?  Children of Israel thought they'd make themselves a god while their leader was on top of the mountain.

I've often thought that I was good on not doing that.  You'd never catch me worshipping a gold statute or any other kind of false god.

I recently found this quote from author Tim Keller defining an idol.  Do I still think I'm immune from the temptation to worship something that's not the real God?  

Drive me by an Apple store and my head turns and I think about all the new stuff that I could use.  How about my family?  Have I ever made them into an idol?  How about this country?  Is it possible to make it into an idol.

Read Keller's definition and then ask yourself if you might fall prey to an idol.

Idols


Should a pastor be happy that you and your wife sat on the couch for half a hour talking about their sermon?

Our church--Ada Bible Church--lives streams its services.  So my wife and I decided to attend church virtually tonight and then go in person tomorrow on Sunday.  I used my iPhone to play the service on our television where we saw and participated in the whole service, including a sermon by Pastor Aaron Buer.

He taught on Psalm 34, a reaction by David being chased by King Saul and how David deal with the intensity of the stress from that and how it applies to us.

 

Pastor Aaron Buer
Pastor Aaron Buer of Ada Bible Church

King Saul was jealous of David and wanted to see him dead.  David was being chased and he had to hide.  His life hung on his ability to say one step ahead of Saul.  The young shepherd and future king had a target on his back.  So how did he react?  And how does it apply to our lives?

The sermon centered around answering that question and the challenge of dealing with the unfairness of life.

He pointed to verse 4 where David said:

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;

he delivered me from all my fears.

Then he covered two other points in the Psalm about how we take "shelter" in the Lord and how we pursue peace and don't speak or do evil.

My notes have holes which I will fill in tomorrow.

But I asked my wife about how well the message provided and explained tools from that passage.  Did it cross the boundary from being a bromide and cliche to a real life tool that you can pick up and use?

This is not a criticism of the message or the pastor, but an anecdote about how two people listened and tried to personalize what was taught.

 

My sermon notes.
These are notes from today's sermon as I took them in my Bible.

 

 


Here's a perfect prayer for our country after Orlando and other situations to come

Our Daily Bread online
This is the Our Daily Bread devotion for this morning.

Since our retirement, my wife and I have established a ritual where one of us makes coffee which we drink from our own sides of the couch with our computers in our laps.  My first online visit is to Our Daily Bread, a daily devotional based on a Bible verse.  At the end of the written piece, there's usually a short prayer. Today's prayer seems to be spot on for our country with its division and inability to come together.  Check it out.  

Lord, give us eyes to see those around us as You see them. Give us ears to hear their stories; give us hearts to share Your love.


Why was my new NIV Journal Edition Bible by Zondervan printed in China?

 

My new Bible was printed in China.
I found the Printed in China annotation on the inside of my new Zondervan Bible.

 

I got a new Bible for Christmas where I can more easily journal and take notes.  It's a New International Version (NIV) and it's published by Zondervan in Grand Rapids, about fifty miles from here.  It has been the center of many debates about American companies moving production to China and other places.

Zondervan has been an anchor in the west Michigan region for the publication of Christian books and it has centered much of its attention on working class Christians who are affected by the movement of U.S. production overseas.

Why would this Bible be printed in China?  How much cheaper was it to print it there, rather than here?  Irony rules in this action because the Bible is banned in China.  Is Zondervan supporting an economy that is anathema to the message that it's distributing through its books and other materials?  

My new Bible.
This is the cover page of my new Bible printed in China.

Reading and talking about prayer at lunch on Tuesdays with my friend Ken

 

A picture of the cover of the book Prayer.
This is the book we are reading. The picture was taken by Flare, an iPhone photo app which I am testing with the beta team.

As a child, I prayed every night before going to bed with my mother.  I would pray the "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" prayer and I would always have a tag line on the end about a need or a concern.

I grew up in a conservative Lutheran Church where it seemed that pastors and church staffers were the official prayer people.  There were tons of written prayers available in prayer books and devotional booklets.  The thought seemed to be that reading a prayer was the main way of talking with God.

As I got older, those prayers seemed like a prison where the boundaries of prayer were what was on paper and that seemed to box in my view of God and his relationship to me.  My church seemed to foster the notion  that there was a special language of prayer.  Pastors seemed to have it, along with a few others.  I was left with the impression that God would hear their prayers before mine.

My view of prayer has matured.  Today for lunch I will be joining my friend Ken for some talk about prayer in each of our lives and about a book "Prayer" by Philip Yancey.  His book pulls apart the whole topic and provokes thought in the reader.  

I feel I've abdicated a lot of opportunities to grow and do good by not praying more.  In this next year, I want to keep moving forward in that area.


What can you learn about dealing with cancer and death from young mom Kara Tippetts?

I stumbled onto Kara Tippetts' blog about her life as a young mom dealing with incurable cancer.  I was drawn by her spirit and her focus on God.  Her transparency makes her experience even more real.  I've read her book The Hardest Peace-expecting grace in life's hard.  

This video clip is a trailer that's part of a documentary being produced about her and her reaction to her disease.  

My heart is touched by this very real family dealing with some really tough stuff.  For me, I see it as a template for how to deal with circumstances that bring you to a wall that seems impossible to get through.

 


Did Promise Keepers make a difference in the spiritual lives of men?

 

Promise Keepers in Las Vegas
My son Justin and I attended Promise Keepers in Las Vegas 11 years ago this weekend. He's standing in front of the venue for the event. 

Promise Keepers (PK) is becoming a fuzzy memory for me.  I attended my first PK event back in the mid-nineties in Indianapolis.  At the time, it was an eye-opener for me to be in a stadium filled with guys for a Christian event to help them grow closer to Jesus Christ.

After that, my son Justin and I went to 10 more events, in various parts of the country.  They were all filled with men looking for spiritual growth.  

Eleven years ago this weekend, he and I went to PK in Las Vegas.  It was a great father-son weekend where we were able to listen, talk and hear great teaching from God's word.  It was an unlikely setting for a major Christian men's gathering.

This makes me wonder about PK and what effect it had on men.  Did it make a difference in their lives and in their relationship to Jesus?  The movement has pretty much fizzled out.  

What about my grandsons?  Will they ever have a chance to do that with their dads?  Will they see that there are thousands and thousands of men around the country who believe in Jesus?

I hope so.


What can I learn from Jesus washing his disciple's feet?

Have you ever heard a sermon about Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper?  I've heard many.  The actual occasion is found in John 13.  I remember going to a Promise Keepers event with my son and seeing many of the leaders wash each other's feet.

It's too easy to that incident literally.  At church Sunday, Bob King, a preaching pastor at Ada Bible Church, spoke about it from a larger context.  

He did talk about serving others as a way of duplicating reflecting what Jesus did for me.  He first talked about allowing Jesus to clean our hearts from the sin that permeates it.  

I invite you to watch the sermon by clicking on the video above this post.  I'm going to listen to it again.


My reaction to the "Lansing Ice Storm 13" will be in pieces as my brain thaws out

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We are starting to get our routine back and its warm inside.

As my wife and I sat on our couch with hot cups of coffee and with the furnace humming a song in the background, we reflected on the ice storm that we experienced and what it meant to be driven from our home by extreme cold.

Our reaction is breaking off our brains in small pieces, like the ice that coated everything outside our house.  And I'm going to try and put them up for everybody to read and react to.  The experience was difficult and a good chunk of that came from uncertainty about the length of the outage and how it would affect our house.  Our house went down to 34.  The fireplace only heated the space right in front of it.

But, as we sort through this, I keep getting back to one thing.  We got through it.  Nobody got sick, especially our daughter-in-law who has some special health needs right now and the only damage to our house was from a big tree branch that took out a section of fence.

Our credit card bills will be a little bigger and we will have to throw some food out.  We were able to find motels in Jackson and Ionia.  We heard stories from people drinking coffee in the lobby about how they were driven from their small towns.  There were young ones and many who were on the plus side of being senior citizens.

My eyes and my heart was opened by a stint of circumstances.  

What am I trying to say?  We--me, my wife, my son and daughter-in-law from Las Vegas, have a lot to thank God for as we look over our shoulder.  There's a Christian song that sticks in my mind.  It's by Matt Redman and called 10,000 Reasons.  I feel like I saw first-hand many of those reasons during the past several days.

I will write more as I unpack this in my head.  This is the song:

 


Can I hear God's voice here in Lansing, Michigan on a Thursday morning?

 

Have you ever heard God's voice talking to you?  

How closely did you have to listen?

I'm listening for his voice as I get ready for another birthday.  As a member of the first class of baby-boomers, I turn 67 years-old in a couple of weeks.  As I move into this next chapter of my life, I want to make sure that I'm listening for his guidance on the rest of my life.  Am I doing what he wants me to do?

As a retiree, it's easy to get distracted by a lot of interesting stuff, a lot that can be described as good.  But, am I following Jesus and what he wants me to do?

My church--Ada Bible Church--emails everyday a short Bible study to extend personal thinking and talk about the previous Sunday's sermon.  Today, it said:

Think of your life. Are you really interested in following Jesus? Have you held anything back from him? If you have, how well are you really following him?

Remember, following Jesus doesn't necessarily involve earthly riches or self-advancement--it may lead to suffering. We're called to place our whole lives at Christ's disposal. 

Then, it linked to this YouTube video by Francis Chan on listening for the Holy Spirit.  He's the author of Crazy Love and other books.