Monday, November 24, 2014


Thanksgiving is here and each year I try to think of something new and special for which to give God thanks. This year I thank Him for His little surprises. My summer reading included a short book my sister gave me by SQuire Rushnell, When God Winks At You. It's a series of brief stories about people sensing God's presence through small events. The author says when small coincidences or events surprise you or help you, those are "God Winks," signs He is caring for you. It's where I read about Tim Conway and the white plastic cross he won at a carnival as a boy.

I had a little "God Wink" recently. I was having some tire work done in Colorado when a man and a young woman came into the store, and they reminded me of a family from India I had known years before. That family had come from India to North Dakota in the late 1970's with their two young children about the same age as our sons. They were Christians and became members of my church. I knew they were in the Denver area but I'd lost track of them.

I don't often strike up a conversation with strangers, but I asked this man and woman if they originated from India. He smiled and said, "Yes." I explained about my friends and after a moment he said, "I know that family. The daughter is married to my wife's brother." The young woman said, "I have a photo of her sister and daughter that I can show you," and she produced one on her iPhone. She also said they were on Facebook, so I sent them both messages when I got home. The next day one of them responded.

Even more coincidental was that earlier in that week I had been thinking about that Indian family and wondered where they all were. The three of us at the tire store were glad for our conversation because we were all Christians. It was a "God Wink" for all three of us.

"God winks" are more than coincidence. They are reminders that He is keeping track of us in this life, telling us He is near and guiding us to eternal life through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. God never loses track of His children. We may do so in our busy life, or in our move to a new home or new job or different church. But God never loses track of us. He knows our every foot step.

It reminds me of a child's hymn, "I am Jesus' Little Lamb," which says in its first verse, "For my Shepherd gently guides me, Knows my needs and well provides me; Loves me every day the same, even calls me by my name."

Be on watch for any "God Winks" this week and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2014


At the end of the Korean War in 1953, a group of POW's emerged from the darkness carrying a 4-foot high crucifix made from firewood and radio wire. Amazingly, it had been made by a Jewish soldier. More amazing was the man, Chaplain Emil Kapaun, in whose honor it was made.

As priest of a small Canadian parish, Fr. Kapaun felt called to the front lines and was assigned as chaplain to the American 8th Cavalry Regiment. The soldiers loved him. He drove hundreds of miles ministering to the fighting men all over the Korean battlefields, helping with the wounded and celebrating eucharist from the hood of his Jeep. He went weeks with little or no sleep, hearing confessions, baptizing, cleaning latrines and ministering to the sick and dying.

On Nov. 2, 1950, the Battle of Unsan pitted a thousand Americans against 10-15,000 communist Chinese. In the ensuing battle, Fr. Kapaun ran into "no-man's land" to minister to the dying. Even after the sound was given to evacuate, he stayed in the midst of the wounded doing his work of mercy. Among the men whose lives he saved was Sgt. Herbert Miller who was about to be killed. Fr. Kapaun pushed the enemy aside and went to Miller's aid. In the "death march" which followed, he carried Sgt. Miller and helped him walk over 80 miles, urging others to carry their fellow soldiers and giving them hope.

As a prisoner Fr. Kapaun kept up his ministry, giving his food to the starving, smuggling in needed drugs and boiling water in a bowl he'd made to help the sick ones . He cleansed their wounds, organized them to get wood and clean the camp and secretly led them in prayers and mass. At his Easter service the men sang so loudly they were punished.

The communists hated him for the hope he gave the men. They forced him to stand naked for hours in the bitter cold and tried in vain to "re-educate" him in communist doctrine. When he got very sick, communists took him to a "death house" hospital where no one who went in came out alive.

Soldiers wept as he was carried out, but he comforted them saying, "Boys, don't worry about me. When I get there I will pray for you." The final act they saw of him was blessing the enemy soldiers praying, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."  He died May 23, 1951.

Fr. Kapaun is the most highly decorated military chaplain in history with fifteen medals and commendations . When he was posthumously given the Medal of Honor in 2013, nine of the men from that POW camp were there, including Sgt. Herbert Miller, the man whose life he'd saved 63 years before.

When the story of human history is over, it will not be the forces of evil, death and darkness which will have the final word. It will be God's love. God's love in Jesus Christ is what moves people such as Fr. Kapaun to share that love and to sacrifice one's self to make the world a better place. The wood and wire crucifix stands today in the Kapaun Memorial Chapel in Seoul, South Korea.

Psalm 23 says, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me." God is always with us, no matter what kind of evil, through friends, family and even strangers. God is there, not with anger or hatred, not with revenge or death, but with His mercy and eternal life in Jesus.

Chaplain Emil Kapaun, a "Shepherd in Combat Boots."

Monday, November 10, 2014


(Dear friends, I borrowed today's Weekly Message from the November 11 entry in Daily Word From Jesus, my first published book. I offer its message to all.)

November 11 is Veteran's Day. It is also Armistice Day which ended World War One. On November 11, 1918, at 11:00 AM, the Armistice was signed ending “the War to End All Wars.” It did not, of course, for there have been many terrible wars since that day. As long as this world exists, wars will continue to be fought.

A historian has estimated that in the four thousand years of recorded human history, only two hundred fifty of those years held no armed conflict somewhere in the world. Humanity lives in a fallen state. The sinful rebellion that began with Adam and Eve will always have an evil effect on us. Only on Judgment Day will the effects of sin in the world end.

That means we will always need Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross. There will never be a time in our lives that we do not need Jesus, whether we are an infant or among the aged, whether waking or sleeping. Jesus is our lifeline in turbulent waters and our defense from the forces of evil. He is our Savior who gives us eternal life.

It was not my privilege to serve in the Armed Forces, but many among my family and friends have done so. I give thanks for them each day and pray for their courage, duty and safety. The war we are in today is against radical Islamic terrorists. One and a half million servicemen and women are in uniform today, and many are in combat zones. They are the best trained and equipped soldiers our nation has ever had. But this side of heaven there will never be a time when our nation will not need a strong and well-equipped Armed Forces.

Psalm 46:1-2 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” We trust Him and rejoice that He is with us always, in every circumstance, unto the end of the age. We also need to trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus and seek His forgiveness. We can always reach out to Him through His Word and prayer.

Join me in giving thanks to those who serve and have served in America's Armed Forces.

Monday, November 3, 2014


In the early 1900s, Fort Bragg, California, residents threw their household garbage over a cliff to a deserted beach below. For decades people dumped all kinds of refuse there into the ocean, old cars, metal, furniture and mostly household garbage, which included innumerable glass containers.

In the 1940's the area became known as "The Dump," and fires were often lit to burn down the growing trash piles. Finally in 1967, the city leaders wisely closed the area to dumping. Various cleanup programs were undertaken to try to clean up the damage, but without much success.

Over the next thirty years the pounding waves cleansed the beach, breaking down and washing most everything away, everything except the glass and pottery. The ceaseless waves disintegrated the trash but broke up and smoothed the broken glass - tons of it - moving it back and forth along the shore. The broken glass shards remained along the sea shore by the millions, polished by the ceaseless waves until an amazing new beach was formed. The locals noticed this and renamed the area "Glass Beach."

Its sea glass is the product of a long and brutal process. Fragments are tumbled in the water, twenty-four hours a day, bumping and grinding against each other, breaking and fashioning surfaces into a frosty and glistening appearance. As the ocean tumbles the pieces against each other, sand and pebbles join to smooth the rough edges until the sea glass resembles precious gems.

In 1998, the owner of the property suggested that Glass Beach should belong to the public, so in 2002 it became part of MacKerricher State Park. Glass Beach quickly attracted large numbers of tourists. The tinkling sounds of the glass pebbles tumbling together by gentle waves makes a visit there memorable.

Visiting Glass Beach today is unique. Whereas decades ago people dumped their refuse on the shore, now they try to take home glass pieces as souvenirs. How ironic that where it was once illegal to dispose of trash, trash now turned into treasure, today it is illegal to remove even a piece of it.

Maybe at some time you have felt like trash, left behind, dumped overboard or abandoned as worthless. Hopefully the bumps and bruises of life have shaped you well and made you realize you are more valuable. Life may try to dump and grind us, but God considers us His treasures. He believes we so precious that He gave the life of His only Son that we might be with Him forever.

Because of Jesus, we are all God's precious gems!