A Promise


They were desperate.  Their funds had been depleted and their hopes for keeping the ministry alive had been dashed.  They had prayed, but God had not answered.  What were they going to do?

Not surprisingly, they were heart-broken and despondent.  So much blood, sweat and tears had been poured into this ministry through many years, and by many servants of the Lord.  Evidently God’s blessing had been snatched away from them and their work.

So they began the process of shutting down the ministry.  Nevertheless, a few painful days later, they received the glorious news that a promise had been made from thousands of miles away, that their financial needs would be met in full by a stranger!  Needless to say their weeping was replaced with rejoicing!

Though the money would take several days to reach their account, they eagerly began to make preparations to reopen the ministry.  But even before the money arrived, a word from the Lord came.  One of the ministry leaders received a soul-searching revelation he was to share with the entire ministry team.

“Brothers, God has shown me that we have committed a grievous sin.  We prayed to God to meet our needs.  But when we didn’t see Him answer, we lost our faith and our joy.  Yet, just because a person thousands of miles away, a stranger we did not know, promised us the funds we needed, we rejoiced!  We believed the promise of a stranger, and we trusted him to be faithful to his word.  But a promise is only as good as the one who makes it.”

“Now then, we have a Heavenly Father and a Good Shepherd, who we know to be totally faithful and true.  He is no stranger to us, and He has on so many occasions provided for our every need.  And though He has made so many promises to us in His Word, He has never failed to keep even the smallest one of them.”

“How it grieves the gracious heart of our faithful Savior, that we would believe in and rejoice in the promise of a stranger from thousands of miles away, and yet not trust and rejoice in Him?  Has He not promised, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’?  Has He not proved Himself faithful countless times in that promise, ‘He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it’?  Surely the promises of God are infinitely more trustworthy than the promises of man!”

These leaders humbly received this word from the Lord and repented of their sins of unbelief.    Now, will this story compel me to do the same?  After all, His promises and His faithfulness always have, and always will prove worthy of regular and radical trust in Him!  A promise is as good as the One who makes it.

Is Fairness Overrated?

young pilot with tie on plane               It wasn’t fair, but I was a late bloomer.  In other words, I was an easy target for cruel remarks in my younger years.  I’ll never forget the time our high school chorus teacher asked me to sing a few lines of a song we were working on.  She (naively) pointed out to all my (snickering) peers how fascinating it was that my voice hadn’t changed yet!  Sadly, she had no clue that I would be the brunt of many cruel jokes for weeks afterward.

The ridicule from my high school basketball teammates wasn’t fair either.  As a freshman, I started out as the scrawniest kid on the team.  Taking showers in the locker room with the older guys who had gone through puberty years ahead of me often brought condescending remarks.  I figured the best tactic to avoid the insults was to sneak out of the locker room after practice without taking a shower.  Unfortunately, my well-meaning (also naive) coach quickly put a stop to that!  He wasn’t about to have anyone on his team go home with body odor!

Fast forward several years after graduating from college.  I had a wife, a son, and was a licensed, experienced, and professional pilot.  I remember picking up one of my first air taxi clients only to hear something like, “Are you sure you are old enough to fly this airplane?”  I assured him that I was and was eventually able to prove my competency to his satisfaction.  Nonetheless, his sarcasm had taken its toll.

Fast forward several years later.  The embarrassing remarks had disappeared and some encouraging ones had begun to surface.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my previous pain had somehow turned into a present gain!  The flip side to all those old insults was new complements.  Interestingly, neither was deserved. Once again, it wasn’t fair; I had absolutely nothing to do with this characteristic of the way God had created me.

I have a suspicion that you may have at least a characteristic (or two) that you are not happy about and that you have no control over.  Right now you may have a hard time seeing the possibility of any silver lining behind the painful clouds swirling around your life.  For mysterious reasons beyond understanding, you may face more than your fair share of circumstances that appear unfair.

Do trials, especially the ones that you have no control over, indicate God is not in control, or that He doesn’t care?  I think not.  God not only has the ability to see silver linings you can’t, He can make them a reality.  All things work together for the good of those who love God.

Trying times are a fact of life.  We can complain that they aren’t fair and feel sorry for ourselves.  Or, we can cooperate with God as He does His refining work in our lives.  Let’s have confidence in the wisdom and goodness of our Heavenly Father.  One day the silver lining will appear.

The Power Behind the Pen


We hold these truths to be self-evident…”  So began a declaration, penned by Thomas Jefferson, signed by fifty-six of our forefathers two hundred and thirty-eight years ago, that instigated the Revolutionary War and conceived a grand experiment in democracy; one nation under God, the United States of America.


According to the Declaration of Independence, this country was founded upon truths readily evident to all who would see them.  But these truths would prove costly to defend and uphold.  Accordingly, the signers of the Declaration of Independence acknowledged their support “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor.


Tradition tells us that of the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence, five were captured by the British, tried as traitors and tortured before they died.  Nine fought in the Revolutionary War and died from the wounds or hardships they incurred.  Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.  Two lost their sons who died serving in the Revolutionary Army.  Another two had their sons captured by the British.  Freedom wasn’t free.


One hundred and fifty-one years ago, our 16th president, with our nation embroiled in the midst of the Civil War read from the words he had penned, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”  Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address reminded us once again that truth and liberty are precious enough to preserve and protect at great cost.


Lincoln’s speech aptly charged our nation to ensure, “these dead shall not have died in vain.”  But, “that this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Freedom still wasn’t free.


One hundred and fifty-one years later our nation continues to be reminded on a regular basis that truth and liberty are tenuous to hold on to, and costly to preserve.  While we have fought many enemies since our nation’s conception, foreign and domestic, I can’t help but wonder if our greatest present risk is domestic.


It is self-evident that a democracy is only as good as the people who empower it.  If the majority of the people who constitute our nation have little or no commitment to the once self-evident truths, the marginalized unalienable rights we were founded upon, we are very well on a slippery slope headed to self-destruction.  Freedom still isn’t free.


We may need another Thomas Jefferson, or Abraham Lincoln, to powerfully articulate to our present generation an urgent call to return to our roots; the truths that our Creator has endowed us with, and that our forefathers so passionately wrote about.  While positive change won’t come easily, thankfully, the pen still has the potential to be mightier than the sword.


It Pays to Know


Finished and ready to move on to the next wheat field to harvest.

Finished harvesting one wheat field and ready to move on to the next one.

Wheat harvest was the highlight of the year for us when I was growing up on our family farm in Colorado forty years ago.  My dad, uncle, two brothers and I worked hard all year to get ready for this two work week marathon in July.  We generally hired and boarded extra harvest helpers as well.  And once the wheat became ripe enough to cut, we would start early in the morning and harvest late into the night.  When we finally got home we would wolf down a late dinner, take a quick shower and hop into bed.

Six or seven short hours later dad would wake us up to start all over again.  After a light bite for breakfast we would head out to the fields to get our combines ready for a long day of harvesting.  When we were harvesting at full strength we would be operating five combines and at least as many grain trucks.  Each one of them would have to be fueled, greased, inspected and adjusted before we could begin harvesting.  And by the time we had the equipment ready to go the dew would have evaporated and the wheat would be dry enough to start cutting once again.

Dad’s standard wheat harvest protocol expected mom to bring a hot lunch out to all of us harvesters wherever we were cutting wheat each day.  That was quite the feat for mom as there were often up to ten hungry mouths to feed!  Of course, those same ten men would expect a hot meal at the end of the day as well.  So my two sisters either helped mom with meal preparation, laundry, or even operating a combine when needed!

Harvest was finished relatively quickly if the wheat was ripe and dry enough for us to cut, our equipment had few breakdowns, and we had few thunderstorms and rain showers (which caused the wheat to be too wet to combine and store.)  Harvest could drag on for a month whenever cutting wheat had to come to a halt, for whatever reason(s).

Harvesting always had a sense of urgency due to the constant threat of severe thunderstorms.  An entire field of wheat could be destroyed by hail within minutes.  Or, a bolt of lightning could strike a field of ripened wheat and the resulting fire could easily wipe out the wheat crop and anything else in its way.  Therefore, getting the wheat out of the field and into the bins in a timely manner was paramount.

While lots of things have stayed the same over the years, some things have changed.  Now we operate two high capacity combines and we use just two semi-trucks.  One thing certainly remains the same however, wheat harvest is still the highlight of our family farm’s year!  After all, farmers work 52 weeks a year and only get paid for two of them!

Do you have some type of harvest?  What’s the highlight of your year?

Fragile: Handle with Care

What I didn’t know could have killed me.  What I came to know thrilled me.  It took a scary situation to learn a tender truth.

Image           We put up lots of hay when I was growing up on a farm and ranch in Eastern Colorado.  One day my Dad and I were loading a truck with bales of hay to be taken to our feedlot.  He was operating the tractor with the front end hay loader and I was stacking the bales of hay on the back of a large farm truck.  When we finished, I was stuck on the top of the hay I had stacked on the truck.  Since it was close to 15 feet from the top of the truckload of hay to the ground, rather than climb down, Dad offered to give me a ride down with the tractor loader.

This was a common practice for us so I didn’t hesitate to grab on to the loader for the quick and easy way down from my perch high on top the truckload of hay.  Since Dad was an excellent loader operator and in a good mood, he decided to surprise me with a thrilling ride down to the ground this time.  Unfortunately Dad didn’t let me know his plans, and so he didn’t know my grip on the loader was only sufficient for a boring ride down to the ground.

I was hanging on to the loader with more than 10 feet of empty space below me when my grip gave way to Dad’s playfulness with the loader.  As I started my freefall, my short life flashed before my eyes.  I must have lost consciousness for awhile as I woke up with my Dad’s tear-stained face staring into mine.  He was gently shaking me and asking me if I was alright.  He needed to know if I thought I had any serious injuries.

Evidently I had fallen on my back and shoulders and it had knocked all the wind out of me.  I didn’t think anything was broken, but my chest muscles were really sore.  Eventually I was able to breathe normally and Dad was able to help me to my shaky feet.

Needless to say, Dad couldn’t stop apologizing.  He had so much confidence in me and my grip on that loader that he thought I would enjoy a little fun after doing so much back-breaking work.  But his good mood had been shattered by his ill-advised plan and my potentially life-threatening fall.

We both learned valuable lessons that day.  And the one thing I learned that surprised me the most, had nothing to do with putting up hay.  My Dad cared about me far more than I had realized!

We shouldn’t wait until a crisis comes along to let a loved one know how much they mean to us.  We need to do it the next chance we get!  Life is often more fragile than we realize.

Investors and Cheerleaders Needed!

            As it turned out, my room was right next to our dormitory’s Resident Assistant (RA) room at college.  Though Frank, my RA, was older, bigger, stronger, more athletic and handsome than I was (that didn’t take much), he seemed to enjoy spending time with an underclassman like me anyway!

 Image           Not long after settling into the Bible college routine, Frank came to me and asked me to be the “Prayer Chairman” for our floor of thirty one guys.  I didn’t know what a position like that entailed, but with his encouragement, I decided to give it a try. 

            Frank also worked in the “Dish Room” at the college cafeteria.  That’s where the dishes, cups and silver were washed and then put back into the serving lines.  He suggested I apply for a job there to help with my expenses.  So I gave it a try and was accepted (even though I had very little dishwashing experience from home!)

            As my first year of college began to draw to a close, Frank encouraged me to apply for an RA position my next year.  This was a big surprise to me.  RA positions were highly coveted in those days and very difficult to get.  He said he would put in a good word for me, and he did. 

            Though I made it through the interview process, I didn’t get the job.  Frank seemed more disappointed than I was!  Surprisingly, he didn’t stop encouraging me.  Before long he had convinced the leadership in the “Dish Room” to promote me to a shift supervisor. 

            Towards the end of my two years with Frank, I asked him who would take over my job as “Prayer Chairman” of our floor when I left.  He said he didn’t know, but it was his smile that encouraged me to dig deeper.  He finally admitted that he had “made up” the position to give me a chance to show if I had any leadership potential.  When he saw the way I handled that responsibility, he looked for other opportunities for me to pursue that would help me to grow as a leader.

            I was surprised, humbled and honored.  Frank had seen potential in me that I hadn’t seen.  And he always supported me and encouraged me along the way, especially when the going was tough. 

            Frank could have been just an RA to me.  That’s all he was compensated to do.  But, he went the extra mile and became my friend and my mentor.  And because it was a pivotal time in my personal and spiritual development, Frank, maybe more than anyone else in my young adult life, helped me to see that God could use me, maybe even as a leader.

            Almost forty years later, I want to be more like Frank!  I want to see the people God puts around me the way Frank saw me.  People who may have hidden potential that is just waiting to be brought out and nurtured.  People who may need to have some responsibility, even if it has to be invented!

            The path for me to become a leader was significantly enhanced by an RA who made me “Prayer Chairman” and then became one of my best cheerleaders.  I thank the Lord for Frank, and for all the others who have invested in me in like manner.

            As it turns out, God probably has put people around you who also need a chance, who need a cheerleader.  Who are they?  What are you waiting for?  Invest in people!  Maybe forty years later they will still remember you also!

Car Shopping With My Two Fathers

Dad and me1970-ford-mustang-1

I was just out of high school and needed a better car.  Since my dad was the expert on mechanical things and negotiating, he agreed to go car shopping with me.  We visited a few car lots before I found the car of my wildest dreams, a blue 1970 Mach 1 Mustang, only three years old back then.

Of course it was priced several thousand dollars more than our predetermined spending limit.  So, we moved on and looked at several cheaper cars.  Unfortunately, nothing looked interesting to me after my heart had been stolen by the Mustang!

Though I hadn’t noticed this trait in my dad before, I realized that he empathized with my disappointment.  He suggested we go back and offer them our two thousand dollars in cash for the Mach 1.  I was excited; and embarrassed at the same time.  My dad wanted to try to help me get the car of my dreams!  But, I couldn’t imagine how ridiculous we were going to appear to the salesman.

However, my desires won over my pride and I allowed my dad to make our humble offer.  The salesman was both insulted and amused.  There was no way he could even consider such an offer for that a car.  My dad thanked him for his time and told me to head back to the car so we could continue our shopping.

I was not surprised, but I was heartbroken.  As we were preparing to drive off the salesman hurried over to our car.  He had decided he should at least take our offer to the sales manager.  What followed was a lengthy test of my dad’s resolve versus the negotiating skills of our salesman.

Eventually my dad told me to go back to the car.  I assumed we would drive off and continue shopping.  Instead, dad suggested we pray about what to do.  So right there in dad’s car, we prayed; out loud, asking God for wisdom.

I have to admit I was a bit embarrassed to pray while the salesman watched us.  After all, I didn’t know if God even cared about the process of buying cars, especially for a kid like me.  But my dad didn’t care about what people thought, he was only concerned about doing the right thing in God’s eyes.

When we finished praying, dad suggested we make our original offer one more time.  If the Lord wanted me to have this car, they would accept our offer.  If they didn’t, the Lord would have a better car for me somewhere else.  I was skeptical, but we had prayed and dad was confident.

Shortly thereafter, I drove that very same Mustang out of the car lot with our salesman shaking his head in amazement.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had done a miracle, just for me!

That miracle was just the first of many that I can still remember to this day!  Miracles that have convinced me that God cares about me, and the ordinary issues that concern me.  Since then I have learned much more about my gracious Heavenly Father.  He cares about you!

Crazy Good!

Alexander was born into a Puritan home in Scotland the end of May in 1701. Since his extracurricular activities were significantly limited by his strict father he often entertained himself by tracing words through the Bible.
Alexander left Scotland and moved to London. He became a recognized scholar and was said to be fluent in Greek and Latin. Accordingly, he found work as a tutor, printer, proofreader and bookseller. He also took upon himself the title, “Alexander the Corrector,” making it his life’s duty to protect his country from all vices; from misspelling and poor grammar, to all matters of morality. He often carried a sponge with him and whenever he encountered any inappropriate writing he would symbolically wipe it clean with his sponge!
While Alexander fell in love on a number of occasions, the objects of his affection inevitably rejected him, and so he never married. Consequently, his significant accomplishments were punctuated with romantic embarrassments that rivaled insanity and so led to most of his numerous stays in lunatic asylums. He would eventually come back to his senses and be released; until he would commit his next social blunder.
During his early days in London, Alexander began the laborious work of putting together a Bible reference book. After working long hours on his job, he would come home to read his Bible, recording on thousands of sheets of paper his tedious findings. He recorded every one of the 777,746 words in the King James Bible and noted every place each one occurred! All this by himself, and with no modern technology! The fruit of his painstaking work was the most comprehensive and useful work of its kind ever published! The first edition was presented to Queen Caroline in 1737, and Cruden’s Concordance eventually became a best seller and has remained in print ever since!
Charles Spurgeon was said to have written in the flyleaf of his copy of Cruden’s Concordance, “For ten years this has been at my left hand when the Word of God has been at my right.” After Cruden’s death, Spurgeon was quoted as saying, “This half-crazy Cruden did better service to the church than half the D.D’s and L.L.D.’s of his time.”
Towards the end of Cruden’s life he devoted himself to studying the Bible, helping the poor and downcast, and handing out gospel tracts. Though he was known to be very benevolent and pious, his contemporaries had little respect for him. He was found dead in 1770, on his knees, his head lying on the open Bible in front of him.
Though dead for hundreds of years, his work still lives on! And it continues to give life to all who avail themselves to it! Evidently it took a crazy man to undertake the monumental task of compiling a complete concordance of the Bible in his spare time and in his humble home!
Cruden’s life teaches us to not discard an unusual person’s value too quickly! One generation’s trash can become many generation’s treasure!