Category Archives: Humor

Going home

There was a time long ago, when we left our home in the USA, and set up our new home in Australia. I was offered a job to teach music grades 7-12 in a small town school located in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. They didn’t tell me until I arrived that I was the 6th music teacher in 6 years at this school. But through much perseverance I made my mark, elevating compulsory music education from being hated to being tolerated. One learns to accept what progress one can make. When six brass instruments surprisingly arrived by train from headquarters I, a woodwind guy, started a brass band. However badly we performed we could count on getting a “standing ovation” when we played “God Save the Queen.” Decades later I learned that little school band had grown in proficiency and toured Europe!

We lived in “Sherwood Cottage” in Burradoo, 3 miles from town. During school vacations we packed our Holden station wagon and hammer to keep the gear shift lever in place and we set off on grand adventures. From the tropics of Queensland to the chilly and rugged island of Tasmania; from the beaches at Botany Bay to the outback town of Broken Hill where we nursed orphaned kangaroo joeys, we experienced the “dinkum di” Aussie life. We explored opal and gold mining towns and enjoyed the diverse landscape of “the bush.” Despite the challenging work situation, we made wonderful lifelong friends and came to call the wonderful land of Oz our “home away from home.”

But at the end of my teaching contract and with our own little Aussie “Joey” in tow, we returned to our home in America. We enjoyed vacations in the Badlands and the Rockies but as much fun as we had, there was always a point where it was “time to go home.” There’s no place like home, that place where your is where your heart longs to be. It’s a place filled with celebrated love and shared burdens. When we went on mission to Bolivia, we had this strange and pervasive feeling that we had come “home to the place we’d never been before.” It’s where we belonged and where we long to return because of the people we met and how God was moving among us.

As much as we all cling to our own home sweet home, there is another place, more wonderful and exciting beyond imagination, that’s called our true home. If we think climbing volcanoes and feeding baby kangaroos is exciting, we’ll be blown away at how marvelous is this home where we’d never been before.

It’s open to all who realize how desperately they personally need God’s gift of eternal salvation and the transformational power for living right now with peace and joy and real hope. Heaven is our true home, the place of great everlasting blessing. And there’s a piece of “Heaven on earth” when we come quietly and humbly before the Lord our God and receive his blessing of grace and power for living a victorious life that rises above our darkest circumstances.

None of us know the time we have left in this earthly home. May God guide the time that remains. . . until we finally go to our forever home.

Shipwrecked no more

Spring is here and thoughts of summer already upon us. My neighbor has his boat out, anticipating great times with his family at the lake. It reminds me of a time when my sister and her husband invited us for a lake outing. We were sailing in his craft when we came upon two guys in shallow water. Yelling and screaming, they frantically kept diving into the water. Trying to help, we discovered these guys were desperately trying to save their three best friends whi had fallen overboard. Only it turned out the friends’ names were Jim Beam,  Johnny Walker, and Bud Weiser.

Unable to carry on a  coherent conversation with the guys and assured they we’re as safe as they wanted to be, we went on our way. But it caused me to remember, I’ve been there before – living for the fun of it with no thought of who I was becoming or who I was meant to be.

Suppose you came across me in such a state and, at the risk of your own life, you rescued me from my shipwreck situation, saving me and resuscitating me to a new life. I would be forever indebted to you, wouldn’t I? Imagine inviting me to your home and caring for me until I was recovered. Over time we come to enjoy each other’s company more and more, sharing both the celebrations and the real challenges of life together.  Picture a scene where, instead of being the rescuer and the shipwrecked, we become full partners in the business of life. And we marvel at how a dramatic rescue effort turned into a fulfilling lifelong friendship.

An amazing piece of fiction or a true story?

Isn’t this actually the story of our lives, constantly buffeted by the waves of life, with no rudder to guide us and seemingly at mercy of the sea? Unable to save ourselves by our own efforts, we find ourselves tossed against the rocks and shipwrecked, without hope. But then a rescuer came to save us. Only instead of risking his life, he actually gave his life so we might be saved. Saved not only from being eternally shipwrecked but saved also from a life of meaningless and fruitless effort, tossed this way and that. Not only saved, yet also redeemed and restored… renewed into a vibrant and fulfilling relationship with our rescuer, who as it turned out, overcame death itself!

How do you picture yourself in this story?

Actually, there are four of us in this story. One of us feels like it’s smooth sailing and everything is under control – at least until the threatening storms come our way.  Another sees themself in the midst of a stormy life, desperately clinging to the sides of the boat, trying to weigh anchor and find a secure hold, hoping beyond hope to be rescued. Yet another has already experienced the throes of a disastrous shipwreck. Whether it be relationships, finances, business and life goals, or our own deteriorating bodies, we find ourselves tossed against the rocks. And finally, one of us finds themselves rescued from the disaster that came upon us. In fact, impossible as it seems, here we are surrounded by the broken pieces of our lives, but not alone. It would have been enough had we been rescued from the stormy seas, but our rescuer came to take us from this hopeless place to a place of restoration and forever celebration. And as we wait, we find ourself miraculously changing from a miserably lost, shipwrecked fool, to become known as friend and beloved son or daughter. Not only that, but our redeemer regards us as so valued he gives us his inheritance, even the right to become his child.

How do you see yourself in this story of life? Are you the captain of your own destiny, the lost soul in stormy waters, the hopelessly shipwrecked, or the rescued, restored and redeemed? Jesus is the one who longs to rescue us all; and not only rescue us, but bring us into a place where the broken pieces of our lives become fully restored. Reach out for his lifeline and inherit a whole new life!

Shipwrecked no more!


How do the children in your life see God?


It’s interesting to know what goes on in the minds of kids. I remember watching the original Art Linkletter show, “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” One of my more memorable episodes was when Art asked how many brothers and sisters they had. One boy replied, “There are six of us.” Art followed up, “And what are their ages?” The boy answered: “Well, I’m 7 and the others are 6, 5, 4, 2, and 1”. “What happened to 3?” Art asked. The boy quickly retorted, “Oh, that’s the year we got the new color TV!” Yes, kids do say the darnedest things. And it seems they have an opinion about everything, including God.


How do the kids in your your life see God?


Jounalist Kelly Wallace asked her children this question. Her youngest daughter sees God as the moral of stories. Her older daughter sees God as having control over everything. She turned to author Monica Parker who wrote a book on the subject. Even in houses with no particular spiritual connection, kids have thoughts about God. Here are some of her findings:

Her 7 year old son said, “I know who’s seen God…doctors, when they cut people open.”

God doesn’t have a house. He doesn’t need one except on Sundays when he needs to rest. – Ethan 8

“I wish God could make me famous SOON!” – Kayla 8 1/2

“I call God when I need help with things but not my homework, because my mom says I have to do that by myself.” – Jackson, 7.

“My father never believed you were real but my mom did, but then she got sick and now he prays to you but my mom doesn’t anymore.” – Max 8

“My mom talks to God when we need more money.” – Manny 6

Emerson, age 12, asks whether really is a God. Uma 12, says “God lives wherever you imagine.”


Do you talk with the children in your life about God? There are many questions to be asked to open the conversation. Who is God? What do you see when you think about God? Where does God live? And so many more. You’ll likely find that sometimes we tell kids about God, but other times, the child becomes our teacher, reminding us of truths we’ve forgotten. Sometimes, the questions lead to more questions, allowing for relationship building.


Reading the bible together in a version they will understand, you might learn more by asking, “How was the child David able to beat the giant warrior Goliath?” “Why do you think Jesus so enjoyed spending time with children?”  “What does it means when it says, God so loved the world?” “Why do you think Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?”


We would also do well to ask ourselves what our words and actions tell children about God. Do they hear you pray? Do they see you applying his Word to your everyday life? What language and temperment are they picking up?  What people see when we’re angry or hurt tells a lot about what we think about God. There’s much to gained and given in mutually beneficial relationships with children. It offers you to be both the teacher and the student. Oh, and that story about Jesus and the children? It wasn’t only to show us how valuable they are, but to also demonstrate our need to slow down and enjoy these young treasures while sharing our God given wisdom with them. If we don’t talk to the kids in our life about God someone else will. And what do you think they might teach them?



It’s not enough to be sorry


I remember Don Knight speaking words of wisdom to a group of men at church years ago. He encouraged us all to speak “those three little words” every woman desperately longs for a man to say. You’re probably thinking he was going to remind us the importance of saying, “I love you.” But according to Don, the three little words most important and most cherished by women are those spoken by the man who admits, “I was wrong!”


The popular movie, “Love Story” became famous for it’s punch line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Even the actor who spoke the line looks back and says, “What rubbish!” Love means admitting you’re wrong and saying you’re sorry. It’s sometimes hard to say it because quite truthfully we want to be right. But as perfect as you might be, there will come a time when you will not be right and it will be best to swallow the pride and say “those three little words.”


But it’s not really enough, is it? We can’t just say “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” Something more is required. The purpose of admitting being wrong and sorry is to change our thinking and our behavior so we don’t find ourselves in that same situation again! The spiritual word for this is repentance, which means to turn away from wrong and change.


Some folk complained to Jesus about other “sinners.” Jesus’ response was that there aren’t some who are worse sinners than others and that “unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:3)


The truth is, we all fall short. (Romans 3:23) None of us hit the mark. Maybe some days, we aren’t even aiming at the right target. We aim too low in pursuing personal ambitions and filling our sense of self-worth. We aim to “keep busy” rather than to live with purpose. We set up goals that really won’t satisfy us at life’s end. Sometimes we don’t even set up any goals, but just coast through life as it happens to us. Our lives, while designed to be fruitful in spiritual ways, encouraging to others and honoring to God, sometimes may be barren of any good and lasting value.


A couple retired and sold their home. They purchased a boat and spent all their last days collecting sea shells. Piper asks, “How will they answer God when he calls them home and asks what they did with the life he gave them? “I collected sea shells?!” What a waste!”” (John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life)


Jesus tells the story of a man who had a fig tree that never bore fruit. Year after year it remained barren. He was going to have it cut down. But the man who took care of his vineyard pleaded with him, “Leave it alone for one more year and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not then cut it down.” (Luke 13:6-9)


It’s not enough to be sorry that our lives are so barren of God’s love, joy, and peace. It’s not enough to feel regret that we lack patience, kindness, or goodness. We can admit we have too little faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But it’s not enough. We can’t produce fruit by working harder or doing more good things. But while time still remains, today is the day to dig in and fertilize our lives with the nourishment of God’s truth. This is the day to soak up his promises and let them feed the very root of our lives. That’s when fruit will come, by changing our life so it stays connected to God, the very creator of life. And THAT is enough.


Finding what you’re not looking for


I like the story of the man who went into a barbershop for a haircut and a shave. As the barber worked, he and the barber talked about a number of things, eventually coming to the subject of God. “I don’t believe God exists,” said the barber. The surprised customer asked, “Why?” The barber replied, “If you just go out into the street you’ll see people who are sick, abused children, and suffering everywhere. If God existed, there wouldn’t be such a mess. I can’t imagine a God who would allow such things!” The customer didn’t reply but simply left the shop when his haircut was finished. A few moments later, he returned to the shop and told the barber, “I don’t believe that barbers exist.” The astounded barber asked, “How can you say that? I’m a barber and I just cut your hair!” But the customer insisted, “No, if there were barbers there wouldn’t be people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards.” The barber replied, “But barbers do exist. Those people just didn’t come to see me.” The customer smiled and concluded, “Exactly! God exists too! Because people do not look to God for help is why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world.”


It’s true, isn’t it? Sometimes we don’t find God in our day because we aren’t looking for him. We don’t come to him. But (thank God) God seeks us even when we’re not looking for him. He draws us to himself even when when we’re far away. “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.'” Isaiah 65:1


Discover how real God is today. Seek him and you will find him when you seek him with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)


Doing the Hokey Pokey


I saw a sign that read:

“I was addicted to the Hokey Pokey…
But I turned myself around.”

Someone else added, “That’s what it’s all about!”


The witty play on words brought a grin to my face. Then it occurred to me that there’s something important in this little child’s action song.

Turning ourself around IS what it’s all about.


As if to demonstrate that you can discover life lessons in just about anything, Marsha Johnson Evans, National Executive Director of Girls Scouts of the USA, actually suggested three pretty good lessons to be drawn from the silly song:

1. Maintain a Circle of friends.

The game song starts and ends in a circle. We all need to surround ourselves with a circle of friends, teachers, mentors, and encouragers, including those who are different from us. And we need to be part of that circle, supporting others. Our circle may also include those who who influenced our life but are now gone.


2. Shake things up.

To be successful, sometimes we need to question the status quo and dare to shake things up. Sometimes we need to shake ourselves up!


3. Put your whole self in.

As followers and as leaders, we are called to be fully persuaded and fully committed to our life mission. You can’t be partially involved in living fully.


Evans concludes that it might seem easy to do these things — build a circle of support around us, be willing to shake things up, and willing to commit oneself – but it is something too few people do. Instead people often complain about how “the system” or “others” keeps them down. Evans writes,”It takes courage; it takes strength; it takes vision; and most importantly it takes you taking charge of you.”


Beyond this trilogy of motivational lessons, there is another lesson to remember: We need to turn ourselves around when we’ve gone the wrong way. We all do it. We go astray. We wander from our values and our intended purpose. We neglect what’s really important in life for the sake of what’s entertaining. Like making a wrong turn on a trip, we need to turn around and get back on track. We can’t change our past mistakes but we can all start to change from where we are right now.


Much may come from self effort and determination to turn around to a new focused way of living. But we face so many limitations when we attempt to change ourselves within our own power. We need more. Paul encourages us to be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). Filled and Full. Not Empty or half full. Fully committed. Being all in and shaken by God.


In the end (and in the beginning) we need the power of God who promises:

In the end I will turn things around for the people. I’ll give them a language undistorted, unpolluted, Words to address God in worship and, united, to serve me with their shoulders to the wheel.” Zephaniah 3:9 (The Message)


He is the one who ultimately will circle us with his grace and shake us up with his truth. He is the one who put his whole self in us to lead us from our shame, arrogance, fear, despair, sorrows, and burdens, to right living, peace, joy, happiness, and ultimately our home with him (verses 10-20).


Be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.

Because THAT’S what it’s all about!




There’s a story about a monk who lived in a monastery. He had taken a vow of silence and was not allowed to speak at all, except once every ten years, he was allowed to speak just two words. When his first ten years at the monastery were completed, the abbot said, “It’s been ten years of silence. What two words would you like to speak?”  “Bed…hard…” replied the monk. “I see,” replied the abbot.

Ten years later, the abbot again said, “It has been ten more years. “What are the two words you would like to speak?” “Food… stinks…” said the monk. “I see,” replied the head monk.

Ten more years passed and the abbot asked the monk, “What are your two words now, after these ten years?” “I… quit!” said the monk.  “Well, I can see why,” replied the abbot. “All you ever do is complain.”


We all find reasons to complain, don’t we? I complain a lot more than once every ten years. Probably you do too. We complain about the weather when it’s cold and also when it’s hot, when it’s raining and when it’s dry. We complain and grumble when someone doesn’t do something exactly the way we like it even when they were well intended. We complain about being bored and also complain when life is too busy. We find reason to complain about all kinds of troubles, forgetting what our troubles look like in comparison to the still heavier burdens others bear. We complain about most everything that ultimately tests and strengthens our faith.


It doesn’t serve us well. In fact it always works against us and is a detriment to our Christian testimony. But still we give in to complaining. We don’t want our reputation to be that of a complainer but what are we to do? The key to shutting down a bad habit like complaining is choosing something that is incompatible with it. What if you pinched yourself every time you found yourself complaining and instead focused on one of these behaviors:

Accepting – Stop fighting what you can’t change and find peace in the storm.

Commending – Find reasons to appreciate someone – or your situation.

Agreeing – It’s hard to complain when you find some piece of common ground.

Helping – The cure to many disappointments is found in helping others.

Rejoicing – We can complain about what we’ve lost or rejoice in what remains.

Applauding – Discover the the joy of catching someone (and yourself!) doing something well!

Surrendering – Give up to God what you’re not handling well.


Give yourself the gift of happiness.  Commit to reducing your complaining.


“Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” 1 Peter 4:9


How should we pray? (Maybe not like this)


There are no ‘magic’ words or secret codes prayer phrases; we should pray from our hearts. But let’s invite God to search and cleanse our hearts before we make our requests. Our prayers get mixed up when our minds overrule the message of our heart. For example:


The detailed informant:
“Oh Lord who sees and knows all things, please watch over Judith, the one in our flock who lives at 457 Main Street, the two-story house with the blue shutters. She’s having gall bladder surgery 8:30 a.m. Central Time Friday at Our Blessed Hope Hospital on South Street. Give Dr. John Walter Bernard II a good night sleep and his favorite breakfast so he will be strong and concentrate on the medical procedures he was taught at John Hopkins University back in 1985.”


The name dropper:
“Lord, I just ask you, Lord, to, Lord, be with those, Lord, who, need you, Lord.” (You wouldn’t talk this way to your friend Betty; why talk to God this way?)


The Gossiper:
“Lord, change the heart of sinner Sam Jones who I heard is having an adulterous affair with Suzy Mae.”


The King James prayer:
“I beseech Thee, in The Holiest Of Holies, O Lord. Heareth the prayer of Thy lowliest worm, and forgiveth mine gravest iniquities…” (This might be okay if you talk that way in real life.)


The self-seeker:
“God, watch over my red sports car. Protect it from scratches and dents so it can shine for your glory.”


The vengeance-seeker:
“Lord go after the person who dinged my new car in the parking lot today. Pursue them until the end of their days. Punish them with your mighty right hand so that I, your righteous one, will be avenged and lifted up.”


The ‘just’ prayer:
“Lord I JUST ask that you will do JUST (do this) and JUST (do that) in my life. . . And JUST these other things on my 12 page prayer list, JUST like I want.”


The pharisee (praying loudly):
“Oh God, you know my righteous ways, how I always praise you and seek only to be blameless in your sight. Surely, you’ve noticed how blameless I already am! And thankful you for giving me such an extremely humble heart.”


The comfort seeker:
“Lord I want to know you and be just like you. Only protect me from all pain and sorrow and suffering. Let my life be an example of worldly success so others will know that you are my God.”


The babbler (when asked to say a simple grace at meal time):
“O Lord, I want to lift up to you all the believers of the world, the plagues in Africa, the wars in the middle east, the infidelity of … (that other political party). Thank you Lord for watching over me all my days, for watching over the day I was born and all the days of my childhood and…” (Praying without ceasing is intended to be a condition of our heart, not a litany of endless words.)


The intent here isn’t to be judgmental of others but to ask God to guard our own hearts. Don’t worry over your prayer words. Just come to Him with thanksgiving in your heart and let your requests be known.


“Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)


“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)



“Liar liar, pants on fire.”


It will probably never happen, but if it did it certainly would make discernment an easy task! In the meantime, let’s depend on God’s Word to show us truth, be certain which side of the truth we are on, and keep a fire extinguisher handy. . . just in case.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2:8

Keeping the relationship young and strong

An older married couple had fallen into a rut of ignoring each other and taking one another for granted. So they went to a counselor who recommended they say sweet things to each other. “Like what?” the husband asked. “Well,” replied the counselor, “when you are at the dinner table you could say, “Would you please pass the sugar, Sugar?” Or “Pass the honey, Honey.” The husband thought he’d try this the next day. So at the table, he asked his wife, “Would you pass the tea, Bag?” (Oh my, he didn’t get it, did he?!)

How do you keep a relationship both vibrantly young and growing in maturity? My bride and I have only been married (almost) 42 years, so we are still growing in this area. 🙂 Trust, me, we have made our share of mistakes along the way. But we have also committed ourselves to investing in our relationship. Here are some thoughts on building a strong relationship.

Commitment eliminates fear and anxiety.

Hold hands while walking. Gentle affection meant for you also inspires others.

Weekly dates.* It might be a walk, or a trip to McDs for a $1 cone. Or even a tour of the Menard’s lumber store. Also spend some time knee-to-knee, face-to-face, reminding each other how glad you are that they said, “I do.” Remind each other, “I still do!”

Monthly get aways.* Marcia really likes road trips. They don’t have to have a particular destination, just the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and enjoy God’s creation on the back roads. Once in awhile, go to a restaurant where you have to look DOWN at the menu, not UP. Talk about your dreams and aspirations.

Yearly memory makers.* I really enjoy our peaceful acreage that speaks peace to both of us. But we have found that getting away to make some memories is important. Ours aren’t often exotic or expensive. But they always provide an opportunity to enjoy each other away from the daily chores at home. We always take a reflective view of our married years on our anniversary, recalling favorite people, events, and places.

Be honest with each other. We have always had this ‘rule’ since when we were first friends: never complain about your spouse to others. The bible instructs us that if we have problems with each other, go to THAT person, not others. It makes for a lot more respectful and honoring relationship. Don’t you agree?

Admit when you are wrong. And even if you aren’t wrong, practice saying, “You might be right,” instead of arguing some needless and trivial point that really doesn’t matter.

Read the bible together and pray together. Make God the center of your marriage.

These are just some ways we try to keep our relationship alive and focused on our values. Maybe you have suggestions you’d like to share. We’d love to hear them.

* (Thanks to Robert Lewis for these 3 suggestions.)