Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Pilgrimage

My Pastor is leading our church on a discussion of the emerging church. For those who aren't familiar with this movement, there's plenty on the blogosphere and other websites. In a nutshell, the basis of the movement is to bring mainline churches back to their historic roots, search for a deeper spirituality in Christ.

This part of the movement I'm all for. I didn't grow up a Christian, but even I could see that many mainline churches had become nothing more than social clubs, their members having a "form of godliness, but denying it's power." Returning to ancient traditions keeps us in touch with our heritage and creates a bond with our Christian ancestors.

But (there's always a "but"), there are parts of the emerging movement that cause much unrest in my spirit. While I fervently believe the church is to open to anyone seeking spiritual healing, in no way should the church approve of behavior clearly defined as immoral in the Bible. If a gay man or woman walks into my church, I trust he or she will be loved by the congregation and find a safe haven to begin his or her spiritual walk. That does not mean we approve of the sin. If I sink into porn addiction, I do hope that my brothers and sisters in Christ will do everything they can to stop me and get me back on the right path. If I continue to ignore their pleas, they should do as Paul instructs--have nothing to do with me, toss me out of the church.

I definately want to see a change in my Methodist church. We've strayed from the deep spirituality of our founders and have become a place of socialization and pot lucks. As have most of the major denoms. The reason I've stayed so long is that I see the power of a large organized church to spread the gospel to the world and fight for justice. The reason I sometimes want to leave is because our leadership often seems determined to become part of the world as to not make any waves.

That's not what John Wesley had in mind. Wesley made waves. So did our Lord.

I'll continue to study the emerging movement. Perhaps there is more good to be gained if we can leave the bad out. Otherwise, I may have to struggle yet again with a decision about my church.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The End Times

As a Methodist, I don't hear a lot about end times prophecy in my church. This annoys me at times. But, after years of reading countless web pages and books on the subject, I can understand why. I've yet to read any one opinion that I completey agree with. Any pastor preaching on the subject would, no doubt, alienate at least half his congregation.

I've come to the conclusion that no one person has got it right, yet. Every author I've read (fiction and non-fiction) has come to the table with his or her opinion of how things will or have shaped up. They then stretch a few prophecies to fit that opinion.

While I believe that most of the book of Revelation is directed at the fall of Rome, I also believe that history, and prophecy, tends to repeat itself. I believe that Jesus will return to establish the final "Eden" here on earth. I believe that He will gather His elect from the four corners of the earth.

What I don't believe is the literal translatioin of the imagry used in Revelation (most clearly used in the Old Testament as well), nor do I believe that all has been accomplished and we're living in the new earth now.

When will Jesus return? Don't know. Will I still read all those websites and books? Yup. Nothing will bring me greater joy than the return of our Lord. How can I not watch for it? Like all believers, I'm like a kid on Christmas Eve who wants to open just one present. Just a little taste of what's to come. The problem is, though, if we really got a taste of what's to come, we wouldn't want to spend another second in this world. We'd be useless. Ever asked a kid to get his chores done on Christmas Eve?

Watch with me, brothers and sisters, but get to work on time, okay?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Writing chum Robin has been issuing prayer requests for her husband. I'm not sure if I'm at liberty to say what for, so I'll leave it at that. He needs healing...physically. By now, maybe some spiritual. If it were me, I'm sure I'd need both.

It's always toughest to see those you love going through hardship. Helplessness is probably one of the worst feelings a person can tolerate. We often wish the pain upon ourselves. At least, then, we have options, even if they're not good ones. How often does a parent sit up with a child in pain, praying for God to transfer that pain to themselves?

I don't want to place Robin's situation on the same level as a child with an ear ache, but one can imagine the torment she's going through. I imagine several breakables in her house have come to violent destruction.

I often wonder what it was like for the disciples as they watched Jesus die on the cross. Such torment to their souls would have been comparable to a few moments in hell. To watch the man they loved and knew as the Messiah being whipped, spit on, and laughed at. All the while standing silent. Can you put yourself there? Can you even come close to feeling their pain?

But it was that pain that launched the incredible wave of evangelism that spreads to this day. Perhaps even Saul witnessed the crucifixion, laughed and scoffed with the other onlookers. Imagine his shame later as he preached to the gentiles. No thorn in his side would even compare to the suffering of his heart.

I will pray for Robin and Case. Not just for the physical healing, though, but that their faith will be strengthened. God has a plan for them, though they're only concern right now is to get through this day.

Grace and Peace be with you all.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Yesterday, as I was filling up the Avalanche's 31 gallon tank, a guy pulled up next to me, said, "There goes another two weeks pay," and took off. He was obviously bitter. I only shrugged and smiled, not having time to respond. And I wondered, if he had some good news, would he have stopped to share it with me? I think probably not.

You see, I can't seem to let all this bad news get me down. I've never felt happier, standing there pumping $3.79/gal gas into my gas guzzler. Can something so trivial possibly overcome the joy of knowing my Lord and that I have eternal life waiting for me at the end of this very short road?

It strikes me as odd, that Christians in America, who have more than they could possibly use, let such little things trample their joy when Christians in Africa, who have nothing, are constantly smiling and singing His praises. How can I possibly complain? How can any of us? Jesus was right about the rich. But it's not greed that keeps us from the Kingdom, it's the distraction of all that we have. We cling to our possessions and money like a passenger on the Titanic clinging to the last life boat.

I wonder if I can let it go. Can I be like Peter and trust in Jesus to give me the power to walk on the water? I hope so.

As I sit in my nice house writing this, with heat (yes, in May) pumping through the ducts and filtered water pouring from the faucets, I don't feel rich. I feel like my life boat has become an anchor. It all keeps me from doing His will.

No, I'm not unhappy. But my happiness doesn't come from my job, my house, or my money. Jesus is the source of happiness. He must be the only source. I'll keep my eyes on Him. Because if I don't, like Peter, I'll begin to sink in the mire of this world.

Praise God! When Jesus returns, I'll be looking up. If anyone wants my stuff, you're welcome to it!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Real Freedom

In this morning's Oakland (Michigan) Press, I read an article about a family that moved to South Africa to work with children who are victims of the AIDS epedimic. The thing is, this guy had a good job in computer programming, a wife, and three beautiful little girls. He also had a very nice house in an upscale neighborhood.

He quit his job, sold the house and everything in it, and hauled his family on a mission trip. And they're all happy about it.

Now that's freedom.

That's the kind of freedom Jesus talked about. The thing is, the freedom is already there. We just have to have the the courage to reach out and take it. Why do we believe that we're trapped in whatever situation we're in? Who's richer: the guy making a million dollars a year or the guy who can sell it all off and go do the Lord's work?

I don't know what will happen tomorrow, next week, or next year. The RV market (my business) can come crashing down and I'll be left with nothing. But here's my freedom: I'll still be filled with joy, even if I'm working the double shift at Wal-mart and living in my trailer.

19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Mt 6:19-21

That's freedom.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Some Time Outdoors

I took Andrew on his first turkey hunt this past weekend. Actually, his first hunt of any sort. While I ran my son ragged chasing silly birds that should be much dumber than us, I prayed that he would see God's hand in His creation. There's something about sitting in the spring woods while the sun rises that makes everything else in my life seem trivial. As well it should.

In twenty years, I may or may not still be in the trailer hitch business, but my son will still be smiling at the memory of a distant gobble and the hot pursuit to follow. Maybe he'll be shushing his own son as they listen intently at an impossible number of birds waking up the forest.

Why do we worry so much about the little inconveniences life throws at us?

I watch people practically yelling at the gas pump as prices go up and up. But, really, is this going to impact their lives all that greatly? If the whole world economy came crashing down today, what can I do about it? I'll tell you. I'll open my bible every morning, read the Good News and rejoice that I have been given life at all, and that I've been given new life through Jesus Christ.

The beauty of being born again, while I'm still here on Earth, is that all the details of life are put into perspective. Business, bills, sickness--all are like leaves floating in the current of a river. The leaves are either there or not, but the current still carries me toward the everlasting life I have in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Marriage and Darwin

I had a busy weekend, as is often the case of a 21st century dad. This was different, though. Kelly and I went to the Love & Respect marriage conference in Lansing. It was a fantastic conference. The speaker is the author of the book by the same title, Emerson Eggerich and his wife Sarah. The basic premis is: As much as women need unconditional love, men need unconditional respect. It's biblical based, which means Oprah and her audience would boo the writer off the stage. Imagine, giving men respect. The guys get their share of learning, too. It's one of those things I wish I'd known twenty years ago. As much as I love my wife, I came back with a whole new understanding of her and even deeper love.

This is our second major marriage conference in the last ten years, along with a dozen or so books. I'm often amazed at men (and women, for that matter) who will spend hours of their free time learning how to improve their business, teaching their kids a sport, or working out in the gym, but not spend a minute working on their marriage. What in the world could be more important?

Okay, I won't preach (today). After the conference we went to see Expelled. Cool flick. Ben Stein attacks the issue of institutional Darwinism with his usual wit. What I found most interesting, as many a believer can understand, is that the arguments of some of the most intelligent men in America sounded pretty darn lame to me. I always think of the bible verse that says "I will confound the wise." That pretty much sums it up. In order for faith to make sense, you have to have it first! I'm offended by the whole notion that Christians are just fools clinging to a false hope because we just isn't smart enough to get all that there science stuff.

Please. I'm not a bitter, small-town American and I'm not stupid (though I have my moments). Don't look down your ivy-league snoot and brush me off because my interpretation of life and creation don't match yours. The idea that, if our 6lb. brain can't prove the existence of the God of the universe, then He must not exist, is the height of arrogance.

Okay, that's enough for today. I could go on for pages.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Me in Real Life

When I first accepted Jesus as Lord, I knew my life would be changed and would have to change even more. That has been a struggle to say the least. Jesus spoke of "little foxes" ruining the vinyard. After 10 years, I understand this verse. The big foxes aren't an issue. Greed, pornography, malice, slander...all of those were easily dispatched at the moment of my salvation. Even the litte foxes were kept at bay for a while. But, as my brothers and sisters out there can attest, they creep in eventually. Even the big ones pop up from time to time and I end up on my knees, praying for the Lord to take 'em out, like some cosmic game of Whack a Mole (remember that?).

I had started this blog today with the intention of talking about my daughter, who is bursting into her teenage years with a vengance. She, unlike me, has been raised as a Christian and embraces her faith. However, the little foxes give her (or me) no rest either. I'd like to believe that I can drop her into the world and that she'll maintain a proper bearing, resisting all forms of temptation, but that's just not the case. She is easily drawn into the same self-centered behavior typical of teenagers, often even mean-spirited.

It upsets me, but it's also a reminder that this Christian walk is not something to be undertaken with a passive attitude. Like marriage, it takes work, hard work. Yes, we're saved by faith, but living the life Christ wants for us takes effort on our part. Like a marriage, my wife may stick with me because she made a promise, but our happiness takes effort from both sides.

So, while I'm chasing the little foxes around my vinyard with a broomstick, I have to keep one eye on my children's vinyards as well, pointing out the little foxes to them as well. No easy task, this parenting thing.

Friday, April 04, 2008


I'm reading a book now that makes referrence to a Zig Ziglar book, in which Zig defines for us why most people are not happy in their pursuits. There's more to it, but essentially, few of us pursue what it is we are most passionate about.

I'll take it a step further and suggest that we don't even have to get paid to pursue what it is we are most passionate about, as is often the case with budding writers. The mere act of doing what we love will make the "unpleasant" tasks of our day pallatable, even enjoyable.

This is especially true for those of us who love our Lord Jesus Christ. Our passion to serve Him in every aspect of our lives makes anything unpleasant seem almost trivial. I mean really, in the light of spending eternity in the presence of His glory, does much that happens on Earth really matter at all? I've made the statement before and I'll do it again: I'd rather live in a cardboard box knowing Jesus is my savior than in a mansion with all the wealth I can imagine.

Once I start to let go of that passion, the daily search for His truth, I get overwhelmed by the worries of the world and my own sinful nature. But the moment I take up my cross and dive head first into the depths of His word, the weight of the cross suddenly feels like air compared to the weight of the world.

Let His passion be your passion. Why worry?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Those little worries

Today my wife will go to the doctor. Nothing serious, but my mind starts working overtime at these moments. Mind you, I'm the eternal optimist. Nothing ever goes wrong in my world. And if things do go wrong, I figure they were meant to be and something better always comes out of it.

Drives Kelly nuts.

But I'm driving along yesterday with the rain tapping my windshield and something forgetable playing on the radio, and all the possible outcomes of her doctor visit play in my mind. I see me sitting at work when she calls with the report I've always dreaded the most. I'd try to stifle the tears as I tell the guys I have to go.

My little scenario ends tragically, of course. And I'm actually starting to lose it as I drive. And it's just my imagination!

I used to think that it would be easier to lose a spouse the older you get. Now, I'm not so sure. She becomes such a part of me that it would be like getting half my limbs amputated to lose her. But there I go again, it's just a routine check-up.

I never used to be like this. But, by the time you get to forty, you see a lot. You know that life isn't always fair. You've watched people your age die or get stricken with some horrible disease. And you wonder when it will be your turn.

Jesus tells us not to worry. And I suppose I follow that order most of the time. But nothing is more fearful, I think, than being alone. It's hard not to worry about it.

Enough of that. I'll pray that everything will be fine. And I know everything will be fine, because we have a Savior who will heal our sufferings one day and wipe every tear from our eyes. I may have to live through some trials before that day, but I'm probably tougher than I give myself credit for.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Snowy Spring

Good friends Robin, Dineen, and Ronie are no doubt looking out their windows at green grass and perhaps even a few green shoots. They are probably not tapping on their own laptops with a quilt upon their frigid ligaments. I, on the other hand, am staring at a lovely white landscape and a steady stream of more to come. I haven't felt warm in so long that I'm sure I've entered into a state of semi-preservation. Best if consumed before June 1st, 2063.

As twisted as it may seem, though, I'm rather enjoying the scenery. We Michiganders learn to hate winter with ferocity by the time we're 20. Much like the natives on King Kong's island, though, we've also come to need that which we fear the most. You see, sometime around mid-February, we begin to wonder if this is the year it finally happens. Winter will never end. We envision ourselves huddled around the fireplace, mugs of hot chocolate warming our fingers, while more daring souls go out to light the 4th of July fireworks.

By the end of March, however, we've seen the mercury tickle fifty degrees once or twice, so we know it's just a matter of time before the starlings nest in our barbecue grills and '67 Mustangs start cruising the streets. Oh, yes, and the Tigers shoot for another pennant with 5 players batting over .300 and not one pitcher with an ERA less than 12.

So this, one of the final snowfalls of winter, is a bit of a blessing to me. I love being a northerner. I think we should have the same pride in our roots as our southern brethren. Don't get me wrong, I love Dixie. I love the warmth, the hospitality, and those wonderful accents. But most of those folks will never know what it's like to walk through the woods and actually hear individual snowflakes hitting the ground. They'll never get to marvel at the shapes snowdrifts take on at the edge of a roof. They'll never look out at a full moon on the snow and swear it was midday.

God has blessed me with all this. As well as a wonderful wife, beautiful kids, and a home with lots of big windows to adore His creation. Forgive my sappiness. It's my backlash against taking life too seriously, getting caught up in the worries of business, and forgetting that it's all very temporary.

Like the snow on my grass. I think it's time to take a walk.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It's Not Personal, It's Business

That's one of my favorite lines from You've Got Mail. In a way, I believe it to be true. After all, business in a free-market economy (certain presidential candidates may want to look up the definition for that) is nothing more than a chess game. You plan, maneuver, go on the attack, and try to take as much of the market share away from your opponent as possible. Life is temporary anyway, as is any business. Nobody is physically or emotionally hurt. Most of the time.

My problem is that there are those who would use this mantra as an excuse to sink an opponent by any means necessary, much of it slightly left of honest. And when you peer into a business and find that it's not a boardroom of cigar puffing millionaires, but a group of men and women with families struggling to get by in a very unforgiving world, suddenly it feels very personal.

This creates a quandary for the Christian. Competition must exist for a free market economy to work. But you must be willing to sink an opponent and, in the process, destroy the lives of everyone working there (admittedly "destroy" is an exaggeration, these conditions are also temporary).

So, as someone who loves the Lord and wants to do His will, how do I operate as a businessman in this kind of ruthless environment?

I think the basic principles of Christianity apply here. First, I must forgive those who've dealt unfairly with me. No, The Donald wouldn't approve. He'd say I should sink 'em fast and let them be a warning to anyone else who'd trifle with my business. But the Lord trumps Trump. I'll go with forgiveness and move on.

Second, the golden rule needs to be put into play. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That goes for customers, employees, and competitors. The golden rule may result in bronze profits in the short run, but faith will never let me down in the long run.

Third, it's not personal, it's business. Wait! Isn't that where we started? Yes, it is, but it needs to point to me, not to my opponent. If I fail, if the business fails, life will go on. I'm still saved by grace, this is still temporary, and, honestly, I and everyone in the company will move on to bigger and better things.

Because success and failure are not just measured by wealth. If a man makes millions at his business, but his marriage is in shambles, he's a failure. If a woman has all she ever wanted, but has lost the love of her husband or the respect of her children, she's a failure. Would I go so far as to say The Donald is a failure because his first wife divorced him? Let's just say I wouldn't trade what I have for what he has. I have great respect for his business savvy, but I'll take a rain check on that marriage advice.

I could go on with this, and maybe I will in a book someday (I know, some day is today!), but I have to convince myself of these principles first. I do that by writing them down. To see it on the screen makes it more than a hidden belief. It's here for my friends and family to see. So when I get obsessed with my business, one of them can give me a gentle kick in the pants and remind me what's important.

Life is personal, and it's my business.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Here he goes again

My friends who will check in to see if I've actually posted something recently will, no doubt, roll their eyes and say, "Another name change on the blog, Ron? Would you just settle on one thing or another?"

My answer is "No." Nothing is permanent, especially on the blogosphere. I have several passions in my life: Jesus, my family, and writing. Expect any one of those topics to surface from time to time, with a smattering of fly-fishing, politics, and hunting.

Read my blog if you wish. There is certainly no shortage of other blogs to read or websites to visit. This is mostly a place for me to get the rambles out of my system before I write something printable. The spiritual journey is a long one...very long. I expect to never run out of topics. If you're looking for a place to make you a better writer, go visit one of the links on the left. Don't ask me, man, I'm just faking it. If you're looking to be the perfect husband, please let me know when you've found the secret. If you're looking to be the world's best hunter...uh, it's a struggle for just to stay awake in the tree stand.

But if you're searching for truth, so am I. I say searching because it never really ends. I've found the source of all truth, but He's still teaching me. I like to read about it. I like to write about it. So there it is. I'm back. I'll probably be alone here, but I'm writing even if you're not reading.

I'll keep my friends up to date on my latest ventures, they'll be surprised to learn that I'm steering toward the dark side (non-fiction).

Until I feel like posting again. See-yah.