Tuesday, July 24, 2007


In his novel, "Travels With Charlie," John Steinbeck wrote, “You don’t take the trip, the trip takes you.” I thought of his words yesterday when the temperature reached 111 degrees in the South Dakota badlands, and the little air conditioner could not cool our travel trailer any longer.

I didn’t consider going home, just wishing it was cooler like our house in Castle Rock usually is. That night the water in our trailer tank was warm enough for a bath without even heating it!

The day before we had driven through DeSmet, SD, site of five of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s "Little House" books, and I had been wondering about how the pioneers handled the heat, humidity and mosquitoes. They had no air conditioning, electricity, or any of the conveniences we have. There must have been times when they felt they could go no farther, handle no more heat, or work no more. But still they continued.

There are times in our lives when what we do may seem more than we can handle. A situation gets too far out of control, a responsibility seems too great, or a difficulty saps our strength. At such times we would like to quit, or at least let someone else take over. But we don’t know who we can ask.

At those times, perhaps we can, and should, give our troubles to someone else. Jesus is willing to share them, to help us handle that difficulty, or give us that strength we need. He may not take our troubles away, but He will help us deal with them. He won’t remove our loads, but He will give us stronger backs. Sometimes He just gives us a little needed hand.

When I was young, I was expected to help with the farm chores. One of my tasks was to carry pails of water for the chickens. I recall one night trying to use a five-gallon pail. It was far too heavy, but I kept on dragging it, splashing water on my pants. Suddenly, my pail got lighter! My older brother Fritz had come along side me and helped carry the load, lifting the handle with one finger, just enough to make it easier for me. I carried it, but he was helping me do it.

When the heat is too great, God is always there. When the load is too much, He will help. Ask Him for help, and He will give you even more than you need.

And He always comes with us on our trips through life.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


We all have things around the house we don’t use, but we don’t want to get rid of them, either. Exercise equipment, for example.

A few years ago I bought an exercise bike, one that works your arms, and fans the air as you peddle it. I took it home with great plans - it would help my legs, breathing and stamina, and maybe even bring back one or two of those six-pack abs I once thought I had – and all for the garage sale price of $15! I used it that first day for about 10 minutes, and admired it as it sat there on my deck.

The next day I was too busy to use it, and the next, and the next. In the coming months, I used it a few more times, but began sweeping around it, moving it to a less conspicuous place, but always left it in sight and ready for use.

And even though I didn’t use it much, I felt good just having it. It was a good purchase and was just what I needed. I was sure I would one day use it regularly, maybe when I retire. Well, a month after I retired, I put it in storage. It was getting in the way. I thought setting it out for the trash - but no, I couldn’t do that. That bike was just what I needed, and I needed having it there, knowing I could use it whenever I wanted to. Even now I can picture just where it is, ready for my use when this trip is over. But I wonder if I will…

If you think about it, most of us treat our Bibles that way. We all have one, maybe several, and though they look nice and sit on our shelves or coffee tables, they’re usually dusty and very unused. But they are still there, ready for when we need them! We surely feel better just having our Bible near at hand.

You see, one of these days we’re going to read our Bible, and regularly. And when that day comes, it will strengthen our faith, increase our knowledge, brace up our morals, and make us better people. But right now we’re busy, so our Bibles just sit there. Of course, we will never get rid of them, just because we don’t use them. After all, we feel better just having our Bible close by. We just don’t have the time to read it right now, do we?

When I get back from this trip, I’m going to get that exercise bike out again. And I just know this time I will use it regularly. Now, how about my Bible?

So, how about it? Will you join me?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


“I wish I could have met him,” she said as we left the old house. Have you ever known or met someone famous, someone everyone knows? I guess it depends on what one would consider “famous.” We've all met a “name dropper,” someone who likes to tell others of the famous people (s)he knows. A fellow once regaled us such with an array of important people he said he knew, that we found him boring rather than amazing.

Carol and I recently stayed in Winterset, IA, the Madison County seat (“Bridges of Madison County”), and birthplace of Marion Robert Morrison, also known as John Wayne. We slipped into the final tour of the day at the tiny house on the corner of Second and South streets where he was born and lived three years before moving away. The rooms were filled with photos and memorabilia of “Duke's” life. The guide said as we left, “I met many of his family members last May at his 100th birthday. I wish I could have met him, but he died in 1979. He's buried in California.”

There is something in most of us that wants to know someone famous, someone who has made a name for him or herself. I must be one of those, as I've even had dreams about visiting with a president, an actor or other famous person. It felt good in the dream, and even awhile after I woke up. But I've never met any of those famous folks personally.

And yet I have met, spoken with, and have even been befriended by the most important person who ever lived. In fact this Person knows me at my worst and still loves me enough to die for me. He is Jesus of Nazareth, King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the Son of the Living God and offers eternal life to me and everyone who trusts in Him. And I know Him very personally - I talk to Him just about every day.

My Friend lived a long time ago, but no one knows quite where He was born. We know approximately where He died, but His body is not there, or anywhere on earth, for He arose again from the dead and ascended into heaven. And though we may not have met Him personally, one day we shall see Him face to face. That will be a great day for all mankind, and all will rejoice at the meeting. All, that is, except for unbelievers.

And though He lived 2,000 years ago, all believers have met Him personally, for He lives in their hearts. There are thousands, even millions, of “little Christs” all over the world, in every nation and home where believers trust Him and call upon His name.

“I wish I could have met him,” said our guide. We may not have met him, but we can all have met Him, through His Holy Word, through His followers, in worship. and some day in glory everlasting.

And then we'll be with Him forever!

Monday, July 2, 2007


As we approach the Fourth of July, my thoughts turn to the men and women of our Armed Forces who stand in the gap for us, defending our freedom, as well as helping the people of other nations achieve theirs. America is one of the few nations in the world who have consistently sent their armed forces to help other nations when in need. May God bless all our soldiers!

The average age of the American soldier is 20 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy, not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but still old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's. And he has probably never collected unemployment.

He's a recent High School graduate. He was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away.

He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and also to a 155mm howitzer. He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk. He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the parts of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must. He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional. He can march until he is told to stop, or stand until he is told to march.

He obeys orders without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individuality. He is self-sufficient. He has two sets of fatigues, washing one while wearing the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to clean his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts.

If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you, and if you're hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low. He has learned to use his hands like weapons and his weapons like they were his hands. He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job. He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay and still find ironic humor in it all. He has seen more suffering and death then he should have in his short lifetime. He has stood atop dead bodies, and has helped to create them.

He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed. He feels every note of our National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering a burning desire to 'square-away' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking.

And yet, in an odd twist, day in and day out, far away from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful. Just as did his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American fighting man that has kept this country free for 230 years. He asks nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding.

And now we also have women over there who are also in harm's way, doing their part in this tradition of going to war when our nation calls us to do so. Let us remember them always, for they have earned our respect and admiration with their sweat and blood.

"Dear Lord, hold our troops in Your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. Thank you for the men and women of our Armed Forces, in Jesus' name, amen."