A Fallen Brother-in-Arms

Some of you may already know that I write a devotional on weekdays.  I normally leave it to its own blog, but this one is being brought over here with a few additional thoughts and some formatting changes.

I got word Tuesday morning that a dear friend of mine, a fellow brother in Christ and a warrior for the faith had fallen in battle.  No, not on the fields of physical warfare in some foreign land.  This was a spiritual battle that claimed the highest toll.  I spent much of the day alternating between tears and disbelief.  There are all the questions that come in times of grief and loss, especially a loss such as this.  As ministers, we are not immune to the stress of life and the pressures of ministry can often add a dimension that few are aware of unless they experience it firsthand.  Yet, there are still the promises of God and His Word.  I found this promise appropriate to where I am today:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
     He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”  – Isaiah 25:6-9

Death will be done away with someday.  Jesus Christ has proved that this is true by His own resurrection from the dead.  The tears will be wiped away someday, just not today, at least not yet anyway.  But we wait for Him and the day we can rejoice with no tears to dim the celebration.  Please pray for my fallen brother-in-arms and for his family during this time of sorrow.

That was the basic content of the devotional post I wrote to post on Wednesday morning, but I felt the desire to expand further and so I carry on over here.  As I write this, it has been over 12 hours since I first got word of Bill’s death.  The shock and dismay and hurt and grief have been so raw at times that I have been able to do nothing but weep.  The Scripture about mourning with those who mourn has been in my head most of the day.  Bill was one of the first guys that I really got to know well after we moved to South Dakota almost 9 years ago now.  I spent many hours driving across the state with him and two other pastors just a month or so after we first arrived.  By the time we had spent a couple of days in Sioux Falls together, he felt comfortable letting me drive his Durango most of the way back to Rapid City (either that or it was due to the fact that I was the one who offered to drive through the wee hours of the night rather than sleep another night in the hotel).  It certainly might have been the fact that he needed to give his knees a rest after driving all the way there a couple of days earlier.  Either way, he showed a lot of trust in a 20-something kid he had only known for a couple of days.

I am not sure that I can think of anyone I know who was more giving and selflessly so than Bill.  It was my honor to spend so much time hanging out with one of his sons and mentoring him in youth ministry for a while(at least he says that he learned something from me, sometimes I had to wonder what I had to teach).  It might have been the only thing I could have done that could in any small way repay the ways that Bill had an impact on my life.  He was a big encouragement to me and his church was faithful to support us during our stint in the hills as MSC missionaries.  In my mind, I have replayed some of the many happy memories he has been a part of over these years.  I still remember him coming up to my kids at an annual meeting a couple of years ago and commending them for their good behavior before he handed them each a $2 bill.  His giving heart and kind spirit will be greatly missed on this side of eternity.  His funny impressions and cut-up nature will also be missed.  He touched many, many lives along the way in his ministry and his life.  I cannot adequately express with words all that I want to say.  All I know is that I have all the more reason to look forward to that day that Isaiah spoke of and the apostles affirmed was true because of the hope we have in Jesus Christ, when death is swallowed up and the Lord wipes away our tears and takes away our reproach and gives us the full joy of our salvation.

Maranatha!  Come quickly Lord Jesus!


Categories: devotional, Faith, family, friends, ministry, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pfunday Pmonday – Week 2

Well, no one commented on whether they liked or didn’t like the silent P gag, so I am just going to run with it for now.  I figure the fun stuff belongs on Monday as a little extra pick me up for those who start the week off on a hard note for whatever reason.

If you have to laugh, I highly recommend this story out of Canada of a drunk man’s rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.  I didn’t expect it to be as funny as it was when I read about it.  I won’t embed the video here.  The news story has a charm all its own.  Videos like this should be mandatory viewing to put people off of drinking for good.  One of the reasons I have never consumed alcohol myself is the fine displays of a few of my HS friends who aptly displayed the foolishness that resulted.  But those are stories for another time.

I had so much fun with the baseball stories last week that I saved another one.  My favorite team, the World Champion St Louis Cardinals, had a funny moment on the TV broadcasts during spring training.  A top prospect in the organization was labeled on TV as “Minor League Guy” when he came in to pinch run during a recent game.  You can see a photo of the screen capture by viewing the link.  I am looking forward to seeing how the new team comes together this year.  While I am sad to see Pujols go, I am glad to see Mike Matheny getting his first shot at a managing position.  May the Redbirds have a great year and get 12 in ’12.

In the list of truly laughable, I saw news that the NYC school district has issued a list of “banned words” that could be taken for an April Fool’s joke if it weren’t a little early for such craziness.  We wouldn’t want kids to be offended when they are taking a test after all.

And speaking of things that should be April Fool’s jokes, I saw a story on Fox News about a new push to promote “healthy eating” at church.

“A couple of years ago I came up with the idea that churches were sending people to heaven early because of all the food they served at church functions, like bacon and sausage and ice cream and donuts,” Dr. Amen, who is a Christian and a graduate of Oral Roberts University Medical School told  “I have been going to church since I was a little boy and the food in churches is just outrageous.”

This could turn into a non-funny rant if I am not careful, so I will try and save the rant for another post.  Rather, let me poke fun at this with a little bit of sardonic humor.  If we are sending people to heaven early, that would be a good thing:

A good name is better than precious ointment,
and the day of death than the day of birth.  – Ecclesiastes 7:1

To borrow a few words from my favorite singer/songwriter:

Don’t you get sick of health freaks? I always want to say, look Bud, you’re gonna die anyway. You may as well go out eating something that you like. (applause) What is the point of living to be a hundred and fifty if all you get to eat is bean sprouts? (laughter) I’ll never understand people, I’ll tell you…   – Rich Mullins (concert transcript)

Lighten up and live a little.  Let your Pmonday be blessed with Plaughter and Pfun.  And if you didn’t get enough laughs from today’s post, check out the fare from yesterday’s April Fool’s Day fun at SBC Voices.   All posts from April 1 are gag posts, including one contributed by me about the new list of banned words.

And if you need one more, I saw my favorite gag from ThinkGeek last night as well.

Categories: America, baseball, blogging, Canada, Christianity, church, Culture, friends, Fun, Humor, ministry, SBC Blog Madness, Southern Baptist | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SBC Blog Madness Round Two – I Need Your Votes Again

Thanks to any and all of those who read here who took the time to go and vote for this blog in round one over at SBC Voices.  I am through to the round of Sixteen this year and so I need your support once again.  I ended up third in my region on the first round tallies, so I need a little more help this time around to advance to the Final Four of SBC Blue Collar Blogs.

Here’s how you can help.

  1. Go to the post for the voting.
  2. Vote for Jeofurry’s Jesus Journey in the Golden Gate Regional, it is the first region listed this time.
  3. Vote in the other regions if you want.  (other region blogs who would like an endorsement from here can ask for it now).  I haven’t made up my mind who to vote for in any of those regions yet as it is a toss up for me between two in each of them.  P.S.  If you want a few good laughs, be sure and check out the comments on the post.  There are some real gems of strange and creative humor there already.
  4. Spread the word to Facebook or Twitter and lets see if we can really muster up a ton of votes.

Thanks again for indulging in the fun with us for another year.  Personally, I look at this as a bit of discovering my anavah, the space that I need to fill up this year.

Categories: Anavah, blogging, friends, Fun, Humor, SBC Blog Madness, Southern Baptist | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Is Just Made for Fun

This post should be a perfect mashup of all things funny, unusual and otherwise uncategorizable (new word that I know isn’t a real word, thank you very much spellchecker).  And when I say all things, I really only mean the collection of things I have assembled for this particular week.

First things first however, it is once again time for the SBC Blog Madness to make its appearance on literally dozens of computers around the world.  After narrowly missing advancement to the second round last year, I have renewed hope of advancing to the round of sixteen this year.  Mostly because they have removed all of the big-name SBC celebrity types in favor of guys like me with a handful of faithful readers and a plethora of occasional visitors who show up once and may never come back again.  And yes, I do know what plethora means.

Please take the time to go and vote for this blog.  You will find it near the bottom of the post as the first blog listed in the Golden Gate Regional.  At last check, I was sitting in second place in my region, with two other blogs just one vote back and the leader just a few votes ahead.  This year’s winner gets a place in the blog feed at the top of the main page at SBC Voices.  Thanks for your support.

Now on to the crazy story.  I am not sure that I would ever be willing to do something this insane, but I bet the view is awesome.  This guy is talking about breaking the sound barrier in free fall.  I remember reading all of the problems that the sound barrier caused for planes back in the WWII era (usually breaking it unintentionally and crashing) and after the war as they attempted to do it on purpose and crashed a lot too.  This might be fun, but it would be too dangerous for my blood.

I got a huge kick out of this letter that is apparently going viral.  It was written by a grade-school kid to a local weatherman who had come to speak at his school.  There is a bit about offering donuts served by unicorns that is pretty funny, but this part steals the show:

In full praise, Flint said Ramon was ‘more awesome than a monkey wearing a tuxedo made out of bacon riding a cyborg unicorn with a lightsaber for the horn on the tip of a space shuttle closing in on Mars, while engulfed in flames’.

Flint added: ‘And in case you didn’t know that’s pretty dang sweet.’

The letter also includes a drawing on the reverse of a unicorn presenting an enthroned figure with the words ‘your doughnuts, Master’.

The story at the Daily Mail also includes the picture from the letter, and it is worth looking at too.  I think I am going to have to find a way to work in this totally awesome compliment at some point in my life.  I might have to modify it just a little bit.  How about this: you guys who keep coming back to read this blog are better than a monkey wearing a tuxedo made of duct tape riding a cyborg unicorn with a lightsaber horn that keeps the donuts warm for you before he serves them to you with chocolate sauce to dip them in.  If you didn’t know it already, that is pretty high praise.

Seriously, thanks to all of you who come here to read the blog, whether it be frequent visitors or random read-by visitors.  To close us out, I just want to share with you a joke that my friend Eric told me on the phone a few days ago.  Unless I misunderstood him, it was made up by one of his boys.

Why does the toilet paper roll downhill?

To get to the bottom.

You can’t get comedy like that just anywhere.  Enjoy your Friday and have a restful Sabbath.

Categories: Culture, friends, Fun, Humor, personal, SBC Blog Madness, Southern Baptist, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bonus Funny for Friday Stuff

I didn’t want to overwhelm my previous post with videos, but this one was too good to not throw in for a good laugh.  I got alerted to this one thanks to an email exchange with my sister and her boyfriend.  Fair warning, it may get stuck in your head.

Of course, when I first saw the word llama, I was expecting this:

Look out!  There are llamas!

Finally for this Friday comes the comedy of politics.  It was just two years ago that Obama took over the White House and declared that he didn’t need to listen to anyone who opposed him because “he won,” or something like that.  What some fail to remember is that no one is always on top all the time.  What you say will come back to haunt you.  Elections do matter, even when you wish they didn’t.  Pelosi finds this uncomfortable and stuck her foot in her mouth this week.

“To my Republican friends, take back your party, so that it doesn’t matter so much who wins the election because we have shared values about, again, the education of our children, the growth of our economy, how we defend our country,” she said.

Pelosi went on to say: “There’s so many things at risk right now … but the fact is is that elections shouldn’t matter as much as they do, (there) should be some place on the spectrum where we respect each other’s views and all the rest.”

This is pure comedy gold.  She just said that she wants the “Republicans” to “take back their party” so that it won’t matter if they win elections or the Democrats do, it will all be the same.  This is what she really wants.  It would be funnier if it wasn’t so scary that she is serious.  Maybe we could just elect more llamas.

Categories: America, friends, Fun, Humor, politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Funny Friday is Here Again

Pastor Bob from our local ELCA congregation posted this on Facebook earlier in the week and it was so good that I had to share it.

I have dealt with these same kinds of calls from the same guys (judging by the statement in the credits).  I don’t mind someone calling me from time to time, but the guys from BlueFish are on my permanent ban list.  I won’t even consider reviewing their materials anymore just based on past experiences with pushy sales people.

Shifting gears to humor in politics, Obama finally accepted his award for “transparency” which is already loaded with irony and basically a joke; but he managed to make it even more of joke by accepting it in private behind closed doors. It was so unbelievable that one of my Facebook friends (and probably others) were questioning if this was some kind of early April Fools joke.  It isn’t; at least no more so that most of the rest of what passes for our obambulating presidency these days.  The only thing funnier about it was the White House statement:

“This president has demonstrated a commitment to transparency and openness that is greater than any administration has shown in the past, and he’s been committed to that since he ran for President and he’s taken a significant number of measures to demonstrate that,” Carney said on March 16. No word yet on what the White House will say now that the award has been given – behind closed doors.

So, laugh while you can, after all laughter is good for you, even if real foolishness is not.

Last but not least, for a little more levity in your day check out the lineup of posts over at SBC Voices for today.  Dave is out of the gate with a fantastic offer to start the day and I have a good feeling about the other posts in the lineup for later as well (warning lots of inside SBC type humor will be on tap).

Categories: America, Atheists, Christianity, church, Culture, friends, Fun, Humor, Southern Baptist, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

King for a Day, Thanks to My Little Princess!

Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church, I realized that I didn’t have the shirt or even the pants that I wanted upstairs; so I put on the bathrobe, that I rarely ever wear, and trudged down the stairs to collect the desired attire.  Upon seeing me, my daughter shrieked with glee and said “Daddy is wearing his royal robe.  He needs his crown!”

Suddenly, there was a paper crown, which she had made for me to wear a while back, waiting to be placed on my head.  It is one of those moments as a dad that is too precious to pass up.  Even though I was in a hurry, I bent down to accept my crown and tried not to knock it off my head as I gathered my things.  My daughter said, “You are the king and mommy is the queen and I am your princess!”

Just try and hear those words without smiling.  I wore my crown upstairs and Amelia got a good laugh out of the sight as well.  These are the moments that parents remember for a lifetime.  Today, my little princess is turning seven, and I know that the days of paper crowns and our “royal family” are growing shorter.

Hard to believe that seven years ago today we had our “Dakota baby” in the hospital just down the street from our home.  I won’t lie that I was relieved to be living so close to the hospital after some close calls with the boys deliveries back in the days we lived in Arkansas.  Of course, my daughter was the one child that didn’t come early.  Instead, she was fashionably late by a couple of days and came on the one day of the week that I had hoped she wouldn’t pick (because of my work schedule at the time); but that is the way it often seems to be in my experience.  Daughters have a way of wrapping themselves close to a dad’s heart, and she got an early start on the process.  I shared yesterday that I would be unapologetically overprotective of her and I mean to be.  She is our only girl and remains the only granddaughter on both sides of the family, so she may get spoiled just a little from time to time as well.

Even still, there are so many things that a dad cannot prevent.  I couldn’t keep her from banging her head against the door and needing stitches last summer and there have been other adventures that I would have rather avoided.  I know that I won’t be able to stop every bad thing from happening either.  In my heart, I know that such a thing wouldn’t even be healthy anyway.  She will grow and learn and take some bumps and bruises along the way, but daddy will always be there to pick her up and help her out.

Just as important, I am planning to make sure she knows how a true gentleman should treat a princess.  We are going out for lunch today, and Amelia told me last night that AllieRose asked to wear a dress for the occasion.  I suppose that I might have to dress up just a little bit (nothing real formal) to make sure that she knows how special it is to me as well.

Today, I just wanted to take a break from all of the other posts and wish my beautiful princess a very happy birthday.

Categories: family, friends, Fun, Humor, Love, Parenting, personal, Thanksgiving | 2 Comments

Unapologetic Overprotective Dad on the Loose

Maybe it is because my little girl turns 7 tomorrow, or maybe it is the fact that my oldest boy is less than a year shy of teenager status; either way, I am putting up fences in the best sense of the word with a lot more intentionality and speed than I ever did before.

There is nothing new underneath the sun indeed.  The Bible says this without any qualifiers and it was stated nearly 3000 years ago.  This isn’t to say that there isn’t new technology or discoveries or the like.  The thing that simply does not change is the nature of man and our behavior.

I have been stockpiling the links for just a day or so as they run across my path.  I could include a dozen more links than what I will bother to post here, because there is nothing new about this at all.  In fact, I just wrote something similar last week, based on another article.

The world has seemingly gone mad about sex.  Between the stories about a clothing company that sells “push up” tops to kids my daughter’s age(which I won’t even bother to link to), and the continuing stories about kids who are “sexting” at younger and younger ages, I am about ready to throw up.  There are “well-meaning” pastors who attempt to talk frankly about the subject but can’t avoid either sensationalism (a la marketing ploys) or outright vulgarity.  Yet the church needs to address the issue.  We need to invite parents back into the mix to take responsibility for bringing up their children in the knowledge of the Lord and His Ways.  God has plenty to say about sex and sexuality and how to get it right.  Let’s not punt the ball on this issue and leave it up to a world that should know better, just from sheer failure of bad experiences, yet will never learn from their mistakes.

My little girl knows what modesty is and she can recognize immodesty for that reason.  My boys are going to be brought up to “keep their hands to themselves” until the time that God provides the other half to complete them, flesh of their flesh and bone of their bones.  Which means they will still be keeping their hands to “themselves” when you think about it.

It may make them weird in this culture and it will certainly mean that they won’t be like everyone else, but that is the meaning of being “set apart.”  It is what we are called to be as believers and it is what we are taught to pass on to our kids as parents who love the Lord.  Plus it will save them from a lifetime of regret and unneeded hurt and trouble.  I will guarantee you that the folks in this article wish they had done the same.

Let us not be afraid to point to God’s ways and His design for sex, which is to be safely confined within a marriage relationship with a man and a wife.  Outside of that context, you are simply playing with fire (Proverbs 6:27) and you will get burned.

As a father, I take my job seriously.  Am I being overprotective?  Maybe.

But I will take that risk, and believe me, I am not sugarcoating or hiding the truth from my kids.  I am just trying to make sure that they learn the truth from me and from God’s Word before they hear the distortions that have been cooked up by society and pop culture.  Those are lies from the pit of hell itself and I want my kids to be able to recognize them for the forgeries they are, by showing them the genuine article.  Real love.  God’s Love – God’s Way.

Categories: Apologetics, Christianity, church, Commandments, Culture, Discipleship, family, Freedom, friends, Love, Parenting, personal, Prayer Needs, School, Signs of the Times, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Fun Stuff for Friday

I have a couple of funny things to toss in for the weekend ahead.  You can be the judge of whether or not it is funny sad or haha funny.  I tend to have a dark sense of humor at times.

First is the amazing luminescence of our fellow citizens in the US.  Apparently it is a good thing that most are citizens by birth and not based on their knowledge of the country.  I say the original story, but this author manages to work in a joke about the 57 states and such, so it is pretty clever.  Speaking of 57 states, since he still can’t find his birth certificate and no one else knows where it is either, maybe we should have Obama take the test.

The next story isn’t quite as light although I challenge you to watch the video without watching.  Japan has produced a cartoon to help their kids understand the nuclear crisis.  I don’t think I have ever heard Chernobyl referred to as “diarrhea” before, but you will have to watch the video to get it.  Speaking of which, on the serious note, as you watch the video, I would also encourage you to pray for the people of Japan.  Not out of thankfulness for the benefits derived from “nuclear boy,” rather pray that the people of Japan would hear about Jesus and the God that made them and loves them.

Last but not least, thanks again to everyone who voted for me in the Blog Madness 2011 at SBC Voices.  I didn’t make it to the next round (Steve, you have to become a Lutheran now :)), but I had a lot of fun.  I ended up in sixth place in my region just shy of 50 votes total.

Categories: America, climate, Creation, Culture, friends, Fun, Humor, personal, politics, SBC Blog Madness, Southern Baptist | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who’s Got Your Back?

There have been several things that I have read and seen recently that have caused me to reflect on the importance having people you can count on.  In the world that we live in today, we have lots of technology that is able to simultaneously connect us to more people in many ways, yet which leaves most of those connections still remarkably tenuous in nature.  That is OK for some things in its own way.

Recently, I have been having a little fun with the Blog Madness competition over at SBC Voices.  So far, I have garnered 19 votes as of the typing of this sentence.  This is despite the fact that I have posted links asking people to vote on this blog and on facebook several times, however I have 375 facebook friends according to the count on my profile and numerous blog views over any given day.  This means that most of those who potentially see the messages have chosen not to do anything about it.  It is a trivial matter and they don’t “have my back” on this one.  It doesn’t bother me either.

You may be saying, “if it doesn’t bother you, why bring it up at all?”  That is a valid question and I am glad you asked.

Even though this contest is certainly trivial in the scope of things, this caused me to appreciate something that I don’t take the time to express often enough, which is the support I do have from those who truly know me and love me anyway.

At the top of that list is my wife, Amelia.  She has been a steady and faithful presence in my life for over 16 years now and we will mark our 15th wedding anniversary with much joy in May.  My wife has been in my corner through thick and thin, which is how it is supposed to be in all marriages to be sure; but in modern society, this is a rare and wonderful gift I have been given from God.  I may have never told the story online before, but it brings tears to my eyes most every time I retell it in person.

When we were in Rapid City before our move in 2003, we went before the church that was voting on whether or not to call us to serve in ministry and were asked many questions.  At that time, I was thrilled to relate the story of how God had called us to the Dakotas and the series of events that had confirmed that call right up to that present time in the summer of 2003.  Looking back through the archives it seems that story never has been told on my blogs, I think I put it together for a newsletter years ago, but that will have to wait for another time.  Suffice it to say, that when I had finished this somewhat long and involved story about God’s work in our lives to move us to uproot the family and relocate to minister in South Dakota everyone was speechless.  Well, almost everyone anyway as the next question was directed to my wife.  Someone asked her, “how did God call you to come to South Dakota?”  Imagine my surprise, and there may have been a gasp or two, when the first words she spoke were, “God didn’t call me to South Dakota.”

I think my heart may have skipped a beat at that moment.  I could see the look of surprise on the face of the person who asked the question and the uncertainty on the faces of all those others who had not five seconds before been in awe and near tears at the amazing things God had done to let me know we were destined to be in South Dakota as soon as they voted yes for us to come.  It was the words that followed that moment of shock that will forever stay with me; and I honestly pray that if you are a husband, you will one day know this same joy if you don’t already.

My wife said, “God didn’t call me to South Dakota, He called me to be with him (me, Jeff); and wherever God calls Him to go is where He has called me to go!  I know that He has called my husband to be here and I am going where he goes.”

Even when I write that out now, there is a moment that is too heavy to take it in.  These aren’t just words.  My wife has lived this sentiment and statement every day now for almost as long as we have known one another.  We fell madly in love very quickly and even through an engagement that was far too drawn out for my tastes and hers, we have persevered in all things together.  That means far more to me than votes in a contest or friends on a facebook.  There is no one on this earth that has my back more than my wife, and that means the world to me.  God has blessed me beyond measure.

So, I am not worried about the outcome of an online competition.  Although I am not above making one last plea here at the blog for your vote, if you haven’t already done so (just vote for me only in the West regional :)).  I just wanted to take the opportunity to share my feelings heart to heart and electron to electron.

If we are friends here in the world of ones and zeros and don’t know each other face to face in flesh and blood, it is my prayer that if we never manage to meet this side of heaven; I will meet you on that beautiful shore.  God bless and shalom to you all.  And know this, if no one on earth has got your back, God will always have it.  He knows the hairs on your head and He knows everything about you and He loves you anyway.  That is the greatest blessing of all.

Categories: devotional, family, friends, Fun, Grace, Love, ministry, personal, SBC Blog Madness, Thanksgiving, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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