I remember when I pinned a "bruised reed" on my oldest grandson just before we left Croatia


I was saying goodbye to my then four-year-old grandson at the Split, Croatia airport when I pinned this on him.  I tried to tell him in a pre-schooler sort of way what it meant.  And then I pinned it on him and said "don't worry" if you lose it.  I had more, I told him.

Then I read the devotion this morning from Our Daily Bread about the birth of Jesus and how he wasn't born as a king in some sort of Trump Tower kind of place.  It was like the cow farms about a half mile down from us where in spring mornings you can smell the animals and all the poop they leave in the fields.

Right now, the world seems to be awash in sin.  Hate seems to be the favored four-letter word.  There's an answer and that's what we are celebrating today.  I have to remind myself everyday of the hope that he gives us.  It's the only real hope that sticks like Gorilla Glue.

I want my grandson Xavier to never forget that and I want to encourage him to talk about it with his siblings and his cousins, as well as his friends.  

By the way, the verse about Him not breaking a bruised reed is from Isaiah 42:1-4.



Few men have impressed me as much as Billy Graham

My mother was sure to turn our little black and white television on when one of Billy Graham's was being televised.  Everything would stop for the next hour as the evangelist would share the hope given by Jesus through his death and resurrection.

At the end of the broadcast, there would always be the mass choir singing "Just As I Am Without One Plea."  The words of that song never left me from the time I was seven or eight years old to now when I'm 71.

When I heard on CNN this morning that he died overnight at age 99, I felt the need to stop and listen and to reflect on what his ministry meant in my life.

His whole life was centered on promoting Jesus and the Gospel where the promise of heaven is made for everyone.  Unlike his son Franklin, he was not involved in political parties or causes.  Simply put, he just wanted everybody to know the same hope he knew.

He was a "love reflector."  He was just sharing what he had been given.

I'm anxious to see his headstone.  Many years ago, Billy Graham emphasized that he wanted just two words on his gravestone--"Saved Sinner."  I get it.  That's all I want on mine. 

Click this link for a New York Times story about the life of Billy Graham.

This advice from Pastor Adam Weber takes some of the fear out of praying



In less than an hour, three of us, including my son Justin and my friend Ken, will get together online to check on what's happening in our lives and to pray.  Usually, my son-in-law Adam is part of this, but he and the family our on the East Coast this weekend.

Praying has not always come easily for me.  I'm 71 years-old and have been heavily influenced by former pastors who pray using high-sounding phrases making me think that I just can't talk that way.

A couple of months ago, I found the below quote from Pastor Adam Weber who leads a series of campuses in South Dakota.  He shared this on his Twitter feed.  It resonated with me and made me unclinch my intestines when it came time to pray out loud.

I'm learning.  My time with God has become more regular and more open.  For those who experience the same challenge, here's the tweet broken into an itemized list.

  • Just talk with God.  
  • We can’t mess it up!
  • My best advice on prayer: say exactly what’s inside you.
  • Just talk with God.
  • We can’t mess it up!
  • My best advice on prayer: say exactly what’s inside you.

Just like in Ezra 1: 5, I am asking God to move my heart this coming year

IMG_0383-2I really appreciate written devotions, especially those published by Our Daily Bread, formerly Radio Bible Class.

For me, they have served as a connecting point between me and God.  

The devotions from the Grand Rapids-based ministry are usually written in the first person by a diverse team of writers from around the world.  They a Bible-based and never lose sight of the Gospel and what Jesus did for each and everyone of us who accept him.

Today being the first day of 2018, after getting up early, I went right to the devotion for today in the online version of Our Daily Bread.  As I do errands, quite often I'll look at the mobile app and get it there and ask for God's help in making the Biblical truth in the piece personal to my life, particularly, the text from God's Word.

How many of you remember the story of the Israelites when they were taken captive by the Babylonians and King Nebuchandnezzar.  They were in captivity for 70 years.  Then God spoke to his successor King Cyrus who told him to let them go back to their country to fix the temple that had been destroyed.  Not knowing what this year will bring for me and for others, I feel the need to load up with hope and then share it.

This all happened because of God's grace.  The author of the devotion, Kirsten Holmberg, writes:  

No matter what lies in our past, when we confess our sin, God forgives us and gives us a fresh start.  What great cause for hope! 

How many of you still have your Promise Keepers t-shirts?

Promise Keepers T-Shirt
This Promise Keepers T-Shirt from the 1990s seems more than relevant today.


Remember the men's ministry, Promise Keepers?  Every year they'd have a different t-shirt billboarding their theme for that year.  My son and I went to 10 of their rallies in different parts of the country where I got a shirt from each one.

Because I have trouble retiring t-shirts, I still have this one about how our country is due for a spiritual storm because of its rejection of God.  As a result, things will get worse.

The challenge is to "take on the storm."  

Does anybody know what happened to Promise Keepers?  Is it still around in a scaled down version?

My son, son-in-law, another friend and me know that prayer changes things

Ken Alexander
Ken, a member of our prayer group.

The four of us guys have been getting together online to pray together for almost a year now.  We use a free app from Oracle called Zoom which allows us all to meet together using video.  We know that prayer changes things, especially us.  

What do we pray about?  Young kids who don't sleep through the night.  Sick kids.  Praise for all kinds of answered prayer.  Challenges that come from moving, changing jobs, starting a new school and getting older.

Would I recommend it for other guys?  Yes. Yes and yes.

Adam Jones.
My son-in-law Adam.
Justin Thorp
My son Justin prays with his hands.

Thinking about "hell" on a Sunday night in mid-Michigan

Have you ever given much thought to what hell is like.  I'm not talking about getting caught in a freezing rain storm while going north on Michigan's I-75.  And, I'm not talking about the comment from Frank Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond about how hell has a dry heat.  

I'm talking about the real hell mentioned in the Holy Bible, like some people go to heaven and some go to hell.  What's it like to move into the devil's neighborhood?

Thumbing through the Bible, I found this verse in the book of Isaiah.  Chapter 66, verse 24 says:

And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.

What do you think?  Is hell real?  How do you get there?  Know anybody who might have already made the trip there?

I may have a family member there.  I hope not.  Did he understand the consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ?  I'm not sure.  Did he ever reverse his course and accept Jesus as his savior.  There's no evidence of that.  

Thinking about the worms and the fire, I pick heaven.  It gives me hope.  It's a hope that everybody can grab onto.


In 2017, my first cup of coffee, first Bible verse and my first item to share


My first cup of coffee in 2017.
My first cup of coffee in 2017.



The first thing I usually reach for in the morning is a cup of coffee.  We have a collection of coffee mugs, including several from Starbuck shops around the world.  Today, I chose this one that I got at a Promise Keepers event more than a decade ago.  For most of that time I kept pens and pencils in it.  Now I'm putting it back into circulation as a coffee mug.  I need to be reminded about who I choose to serve everyday.


My Psalm for 2017.
This is the first Psalm and Bible verses I read in 2017.


In this coming year, it seems like uncertainty will reign at all levels, on a personal level, state, national and international.  There seems to no guarantees for anything.  Psalm 23 is a direct promise from God.  He's a protector and a guide and somebody who looks out for my best interest.  These are the first Bible verses I read this year.  I need to drill them into my heart everyday.


The best thing I could share.
You can forget me this coming year, but don't forget Jesus.


Will the divisions in our country and the world continue this year?  It's an age where people so easily trash talk each other with the ultimate threat of "unfriending" you.  You can unfriend me, but I urge you to not unfriend Jesus.  He's the only thing that makes sense in this world and the only one who provides real hope.

What do you do when the storms and the waves threaten to suffocate you?

More and more, it seems like things are getting increasingly ugly in this country and around the world.  You don't have to look far to see the storms that are coming.

No political candidate  can solve all the problems here right now and on the horizon.  So where do you go and to whom do you turn.

This song answers that.  And there is an answer.  I put this up to remind myself and share it with others.

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.

As I move towards turning 70, this is my constant prayer

I know that 70 years old is just a number, but it's still a milestone and it means that I need to pick my priorities more carefully.

This song "Close" from Hillsong states clearly what I want to be at the top of my bucket list.  I want that close personal relationship with God the Father, his son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  

However, there are so many distractions to that goal.  I need to pray it everyday, maybe even more than once.  I put it here as both a reminder to me and as an encouragement to others.  

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.

Here's the best advice I could ever give to my three grandchildren


My felt tip marker reminder wore off, but it's still true. I am God's truly loved son.


What if I was sitting around the table for lunch with my three grandchildren, Xavier, Gretchen and Miles and they asked me what was the most important advice I could give them?

It's probably the most important thing I've learned in my six-plus decades of life.  It's a lesson that's like a scab that won't go away.  Every once in a while I pick at it and it reappears.  I guess I have to just stop picking and accept it.  

The idea is not brand new to me, but I never heard put this simply.  Our pastor, Jeff Manion, of Ada Bible Church, was in the second part of a series on Ephesians called People of the Way.  It was on identity and how we get it.

He got to Ephesians 1:5 where the Paul, the apostle writes about how God, in love, adopted us as his sons and daughters.  He is our father.  

I had trouble imagining God as my father.  Sounds nice, but, I could never call him up and ask him out for a craft beer or a coffee and just talk.

And, then Jeff said, 

Remember Who You Are

I am a treasured son of the Almighty God.  He picked me up.  He saved me.  My primary identity comes from him.  That's what I want my grandkids to remember and never forget.  Tattoo it on your arm or on your hand. Make it someplace where you are always reminded.

Do I believe it?  Yes, I choose to believe it.  God is becoming more real to me.

I skipped out on Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy last night to witness part of Jesus' trip to Jerusalem


Ada Bible Church sermon notes
Some of my rough notes from last Sunday's sermon at Ada Bible Church


It was just before 7 p.m. last night and I felt myself being pulled away from watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, two television shows that give me a minimum mental workout.  Like a dripping faucet that you can't shut off, I kept hearing last Sunday's sermon by Pastor Jeff Manion at Ada Bible Church.

His current sermon series is on the Five Days of Jesus that lead up to the day that he is crucified.  He is essentially retelling that part of the story from the Bible and trying to show how it gives us a window into the heart and actions of the person we celebrate on Easter Day.  Keep in mind, he's human and he is also God.  He's God in skin.

While I heard on the TV, contestants telling Pat Sajak, give me this or that letter, I read about Jesus passing through Jericho and then going over to the Mount of Olives where he paused to look down on Jerusalem.

During the sermon, Jeff Manion said, it was his prayer that during the sermon series that we would understand him more, that we would feel some of the same things he felt, see some of the same things he saw and that we love and trust him more.

I really want to give this a chance.  For far too long, my view of Easter has been numbed by hearing it all my life.  I need to concentrate more on the "so what" of what happened as recorded in the Bible.  My view of Easter started to be shaped by a Bible story book read to me when I was a small child.  The problem is that it probably hasn't changed much as I have gotten older.

Here's a link to a clip from the sermon.

This Bible story book was given to me as a child in 1950.
My Aunt Mable Moll gave me this Bible story book in 1950 My views of God and Jesus were shaped by these stories.


Watch this short film clip from Ada Bible Church sermon about five of the last days of Jesus


Jeff mansion teaching about Jesus.
This is a screen grab of Ada's Facebook page.

 It's lunch time and I'm taking a few minutes to meditate and center my heart on what Jesus did and experienced as he entered Jerusalem to be crucified.  This clip of the sermon is on the Ada Bible Church Facebook page.  I've heard many of these stories before many times, but I've become numbed out to them.  I pray that God will open my heart and let me soak all this in, so I can get to know him better.

Link to today's Ada Bible Church Beyond The Weekend devotion based on the sermon.

How far can I move the needle in my relationship with Jesus during Lent this year?

 I invite you to watch the sermon which is about 15 minutes into this video.


For much of my life, I went to Lenten services on Wednesday nights which were usually preceded by a church supper.  Then we'd go to the service which was very liturgical and which centered on some aspect of Jesus' final week before the crucifixion and resurrection.

Most sermons I heard about this important time in history and in everybody's spiritual life were delivered in a seminary style using big theological word.  For me, they didn't seem to dig deep into my heart that was formed in a place called Banks in Bay City, Michigan.  

Right now, we are attending Ada (Michigan) Bible Church where Pastor Jeff Manion has a strong Gospel orientation, but has the teaching ability to make the Bible more understandable and relevant.

Yesterday, he started a sermon series on the Five Days of Jesus as he approaches Jerusalem, gets there and then deals with the brutality of his crucifixion.

My prayer is to make space for the Holy Spirit to pound this deep in my heart and to encourage others to take the same journey with me.

Should Christians stay away from the movie Fifty Shades of Grey?

There seems to be plenty of buzz around town and on my Facebook news feed about the new movie Fifty Shades of Grey.  Apparently, it's dominated by many forms of blatant sexuality and full nudity.  It's based on a best-selling book.

What about it?  Should you go?  Is seeing the movie oakey-doakey with God?

Check this Plugged In review that sorts out the movie from a family point of view.

Is our country and our culture getting to a point where the late wife of Billy Graham, Ruth, said that God is going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah if he doesn't punish our country for its immorality.

Thanksgiving: Can I do this before I get out of bed in the morning?

I know the importance of getting my day started right.  I know the power of my eating a good breakfast.  And I don't forget how walking early in the morning to get my day started right.  It jump starts my system.

But Rick Warren  suggests before I get out of bed to  intentionally name 10 things I can be thankful for that day.  Can feeling thankful before my feet hit the ground make a difference?  I need to give this a try.


I'm leaving this David Crowder song--"I Am"--for my kids and my grandkids

My eyes
What songs would you want to leave for your kids to hear?

Knowing the vicissitudes of life and realizing the tenousness of life, I'm tying together a lot of loose ends.  As a dad and a grandpa, I've been thinking about what I can leave my family as part of my legacy.

The likelihood is that my kids and their kids at some point will feel distance from God and his promises.  Life can take a lot of turns and sometimes, it's hard to find your way back.  I'm 68-years-old and have not felt the presence of God on too many occasions.

In church today, we sang this song--"I Am" by David Crowder.  It's a real reminder that he's there.  I'm going to purchase it from iTunes and play it on all my devices.  I need this reminder and I know they will need it too at some point.

So, I leave them this great reminder.