Stinkless Skunks

My mom told me this story about my uncles:

Steve and Skip came home one day and placed a skunk in a metal trash can.  It turns out, some good friend of theirs had sold them a stinkless skunk.  They had a pet!

So I looked it up.  Stinkless skunk.  Yep, that is a thing.

I have to admit that I spent most of my childhood believing that my uncles were bamboozled.  The odds of a skunk being “de-stinked” seem pretty rare.  The odds that my uncles would actually get one – astronomical.

And I will let my mom tell you how they found out the truth about their skunk…

We love the impossible.
The adventure of finding that one in a million thing that nobody else has.  What will we give up for a bag of magic beans or a map to the fountain of youth or a miracle cure for cancer?
We say, “My kid will be the ONE KID that…”
or, “I will never need glasses.”
or, “I will make money doing this.”

Odds are – it will never happen.

And I love the human beings for this reason: We continue to hope for that one in a million thing.

We continue to believe.
Our faith has made us.

Matthew 13:44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

I pray that you do not give up hope today. God has a one in a million deal for you – you are going to want to give up everything for His prize.

Jesus, let my hope out-weigh my cynicism. Amen.

The Big C

Today we said goodbye to my friend Scott.  His memorial service on the top of the mountain that he loved to ski was led by his family and friends.  We told stories and remembered a great man.  I miss you, Scott.  I miss your remarkable wisdom and honesty.

Scott’s body lost a battle against cancer.  Yet, there was little said about cancer today.  

Oh, we mentioned it a bit.
“Scott found out he had cancer…”
“We are tired of cancer…”
But all in all, cancer, it turns out, was not the star of the show at the service today.

I am reminded of something an oncologist told me once. He said, “Sometimes people refer to cancer as ‘the big “C”‘, but I know the big “C”. His name is Christ, not cancer.”

Scott’s body lost a battle, but do you know who won? Two people:
Scott won! He is free today. Right now.
Christ won! He walks with a man that He has pursued for an entire lifetime. (Just like He pursues you and me.)

I want to say a humble thank you.

Thank you Scott, for not living a story about cancer but about Christ.

And thank you to all who are fighting cancer, or ALS, or MD, or any life-threatening thing like that – thank you for refusing to be defined by death. You are heroes!

Fight well, and know that I am on your side.

Big C, thank You for sharing Your friend Scott with me. And thank You for winning that fight! You are Jesus and there is no other. Amen.

Accomplished

I have a friend that is fighting cancer.  He is inspiring beyond my ability to describe.

Today, I visited him at work.

He was tired from his ongoing battle with cancer, but was focused and engaged in his work.

He does not have to work. He could simply sit and rest and recover.
He could relax and be a victim of this life-stealing cancer.
He has every right to live a defeated day.

Yet he refuses to let anything take away life.

My friend is dying, yet he has LIFE!  (And, by the way, more than most…)

I am praying today for many friends and acquaintances that have cancer. You are inspirations. You are amazing. You are fighting a fight that was forced on you and you fight with great tenacity. Thank you for fighting – I know it is difficult. Thank you for fighting – I believe you fight as much for your family and caregivers as you do for yourself.

You remind me of 1 Peter 5:9. “But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”

Did you see that word, “accomplished”?

The world has the tendency to “make it through” suffering.
Peter talks about suffering as if it is an accomplishment.
That is Peter in the Bible that pulls some real bone-headed moves, and denies Jesus, and gets called out by Jesus, and actually tells Jesus to go away from him (Luke 5:8).

Accomplishing suffering belongs to people who refuse to let anything take life from them, people like my friend.

And so, to my friend, I offer the following verse: The next thing in 1 Peter 5 is verse 10, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself PERFECT, CONFIRM, STRENGTHEN and ESTABLISH you.”

I pray that we know life, but even more, pray that that we know the Perfecter of life. His name is Jesus and He loves my friend, and He loves me, and He loves you.

The Art of Sacrifice

Every child does this, I know.  There is nothing special about crawling through the house and finding something shiny and holding on to it as tightly as you can.  

Then you find something colorful, you grab that and hold on tightly to both.  Every child does this too.

Then you run across something squeaky.  Every kid is faced with a choice:  learn to juggle or learn to sacrifice.

I was watching my beautiful kid try to figure it out the other day.  I laughed.

“Ha ha ha…  He can’t figure out how to hold everything he wants.  He cannot decide which one is more important.  What a baby.”
I told my 11 month old to choose his battles but he did not listen.

I’m so glad I don’t have that problem now that I am an adult… (feel the sarcasm? feel it!)

There is an art to sacrifice that I have not yet mastered. I want it all. I do not want to give up the shiny for the colorful, but I must.

I must choose that which is most important and leave the rest on the floor. So I can crawl. So I can run. So I can fy.

Matthew 16:26

Jesus, please take this stuff out of my hand. Amen.

Hungry?

My youngest son will try to eat anything that is in front of him.

Cereal, ice cream, pizza, legos, paper, milk, baby food…  Some things he eats are good for him, some are bad tasting and good for him, and some things are just bad for him (bad, as in death).

When I saw that he was eating a little plastic bead the other day, I was thrilled.

I told him, “That will be a little hard to chew, but go ahead and eat it.”  “Make sure that you break it into small pieces so you can digest it well.”

“Here…  If you like that, you will love these toy cars that belong to your brother.”  “And look, some bleach to wash it down”

Nope.  I’m a father.  I did not say that to my baby.

I took the little bead away before he could swallow it.

Spiritually speaking, what are you eating?

Is it good for you?  Is it bad tasting but good for you?

Is it bad for you?

Do you need someone to snatch it out of your hand before you swallow the lie whole?

Let me speak on behalf of the Heavenly Father for just a second please…

Some of the lies that this world feeds us are bad for us (bad, as in death).  Don’t believe me?  Watch the news – healthy world or not healthy?

They will tell you God is dead or that He does not love you.  They will tell you that Jesus wasn’t all God.  They will say that there are many gods and many ways to heaven.

These lies have killed others and will kill you.

I want to challenge you.  Try a new diet.  Read the Bible every day for 12 days.  Give me a call and we will read it together.  (I’m reading through Hebrews right now.)  See what happens when you eat healthy food.

Jesus, save me from eating this garbage.  Give me food that grows my soul.

Love Letter

I loved gay people before it was cool.
I do not love people in the LGBT community because a court told me that I have to.
I love the human you are, not the label society places on you. (honestly, I’m still really uncomfortable with labels – labels do not seem very human, do they?)
The love I try to display every day does not rely on one party being more right than the other party.
My love for you does not require my complete allegiance with your lifestyle nor does it require your allegiance with my faith.
My love extends far beyond the LGBT people to people of every race, creed, color, faith, and social choice.
You cannot stop my love by hating me. In fact, you will only give it fuel…
This is why:

I am a man of God.

I make far too many mistakes to hold that title, but I will continue to find refuge in it.

So let me tell you a little bit about the way a man of God loves:

* I love you because Jesus loved you first. (I follow Him into that love) 1 John 4:19, John 15:12
* I love you because that is what Jesus commands. (I still try to listen to what He says) John 15:12, Mark 12:31, Leviticus 19:18
* I love you because, when I look in your eyes, I see Jesus. (My love for you is based on the fact that I think you are much better than me) Psalm 139:14

When I look into my daughter’s eyes, I see a little of me. That fills me with joy and awe. Even better, I also look into her eyes and see the Savior. That gives me hope.

Let me rant for just a second, please.
My concern is that the church is forgetting how to pray for those that persecute us and love our enemies. I think that we have learned to be really good at ignoring the Jesus we see in each other’s eyes. We call this exclusivity.

Somewhere we learned that the cure for hate is hate. BUT, THAT IS A LIE.

Jesus, give me eyes to see You.