u- turn

When a driver realizes they should be going the other way they make a u-turn. Problem solved.

Sometimes this analogy is used to simplify the meaning of repentance. In other words, repentance is like making a u-turn with your life. So, when a person repents it’s understood they are turning away from their old life and hell to face a new life and heaven.

Too often we fail to realize that even though we’ve turned our car around we’re still driving the same car.

The only thing that has changed is the direction. Whatever issues our particular vehicle had when we were going one way are the same issues going the other way. The window that won’t crank, the blinker that won’t blink and the muffler that won’t muffle will not be repaired, as if by magic, simply because we corrected our course.

I say this because some believers who thought they were sincere when they repented may later doubt their initial bout of sincerity. They do so because many, many miles after traveling in the right direction they just can’t seem to stop themselves from doing the very thing they know beforehand causes their engine to overheat. Over and over and over and…

On the other hand, it could be they are disappointed with God. Perhaps they believed the brake job would be free or the transmission replaced at no cost to themselves. Instead,  they discover they don’t even qualify for a discount.  Either way, when self-doubts or disappointment become hopelessness the driver may grow disoriented and veer of course. Or make another u-turn.

Those who doubt their intentions, or are disappointed with God aren’t helped at all when they’re harassed by drivers moving in the same direction.  The muscle car riding the bumper of the heap in front communicates impatience.  The driver guns his engine to ask, “What’s taking so long to get that heap of junk fixed?”  The driver of the gleaming sedan casts a sidelong glance as he smoothly purrs past the wreck of a car beside him.  The glance is meant to convey, “I can’t believe you’re still driving THAT!”  Only God knows how many drivers make a tragic u-turn in the wrong direction because the traffic moving towards Him can be brutal.  Of course the devil would know that number too since he now has to prepare a room for someone he thought was going the other way.

I made a u-turn in 1980.  At that time the brakes on my car were squealing.  All these years later they still squeal.  My air conditioner was also broken.  Today, however, it’s been fixed for so long  I can’t remember the last time it didn’t blast ice cold air.  But back to those brakes.  They annoy me.  They embarrass me.  When I stop at a red light I think everybody is staring at me.  Why haven’t I fixed them yet?  Why hasn’t God fixed them for me?  I don’t know.

This is what I do know.  If I turn around now the brakes will only become worse.  They will squeal all the way to hell.  On the other hand, if I continue my journey in the right direction it’s still possible  I’ll  eventually get those squealing brakes repaired.

But even if they squeal all the way to glory I’ve determined I would rather arrive at the place I was always meant to be with squealing brakes than not.

No more u-turns for me.

Fellow straggler,  whatever issues continue to impede your journey I implore you not to turn around.  Even if those issues vex you until the day you die isn’t it better to arrive at the correct destination than the wrong?  At the correct destination we get to trade-in our worthless heaps for a model beyond compare.  At the wrong destination our heaps are impounded and crushed.

To those in muscle cars and shiny sedans: Please know your fellow travelers are better helped by a tow-line rather than a hand-gesture.  Have mercy on us.

When a sinner realizes they should be going the other way they make a u-turn.  Problem solved.

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Whatever He says to you do it.

Great advice from the mother of Jesus.  She already knew her son’s word was pure gold.  In this case the “whatever” was filling six stone waterpots with water.  Servants obeyed the “whatever” and filled the waterpots to the brim.  With water.

Why?  The “whatever” had nothing to do with the problem at hand.  They were out of wine- not water.  Wine is made from grapes- not water.  What in the world did six ceremonial waterpots filled to the brim with water have to do with providing wine to the wedding guests?

The “whatever” would have made more sense if Jesus had directed the servants to the nearest liquor store.  That’s a “whatever” all of us can wrap our minds around.  But water?

WHATEVER He says to you do it.

So they did.  To the letter.

…you have kept the good wine until now.

Trust in the “whatever” always activates the power of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

What’s your “whatever?”  Is there anything our Lord has said that challenges you to abandon a trip to the liquor store in favor of filling waterpots with water?

I don’t have a job or even an idea of my next move so for me seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness is filling waterpots with water.  On the other hand, a trip to the liquor store is being consumed by anxiety  as I wonder what I’ll eat, what I’ll drink or what I’ll wear.

What a great opportunity I have to fill my waterpots with water.  As I do so I can hear Mary telling me, “Craig, whatever my son says to you do it.”  Her son is telling me to seek first His Kingdom.  The wine will be ALL these things shall be added to you. That sure beats a depressive trip to the liquor store.

The first of Jesus’ signs begins with – whatever He says to you do it, and it ends by-  and His disciples believed in HIM.

It wasn’t a “what” they believed-  it was THE “Who.”  They experienced for themselves what Mary already knew- that when it comes to whatever “whatever,”  the word of Jesus Christ is pure gold.

I want to taste His wine.  Don’t you?

Whatever He says to YOU do it!

Be of Good Cheer! He is Near!!!

When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water they were frightened.  They thought He was a ghost.

Be of good cheer!  It’s me; don’t be afraid.

Sometimes when I peep beyond the edges of my boat I’m spooked by what I think I see too.  I see ill omens and evil portents.  I see no way to save my vessel from being crushed upon the rocks.  Nothing good seems possible as I hold on for dear life.  My mind fixates on a lie- nothing good- nothing good- nothing good.  Depressive thinking becomes depressive living.  I sow doom and reap gloom.  I expect the worst and receive the worst.  I’m sinking my own boat.

Ha!  What a silly way to live.  Especially when Jesus Himself is nearby.  His presence alone is cause for good cheer.    When He’s around it’s not the outcome of a particular situation that cheers the believer, but it’s His holy, redeeming, embracing, loving and faithful presence ALONE  that empowers us to laugh death in the face and pity the devil for his pathetic efforts to come between us and our ever-present and always-victorious Messiah.

For too long I’ve lived in the what not’s and have not’s.  I’ve willed away the silver lining in every dark cloud that’s cast it’s shadow in my life.  I refuse to live that way any longer.  Is my life where or what I dreamed it would be?  No.  So what?  As long as Jesus is with me I have a reason to be cheerful…hopeful.  In fact, the sheer blessing of His companionship is ALL I need.  If Jesus never did anything for me again and my present situation stayed the same I choose to believe it doesn’t matter.  That’s because His friendship and presence are everything I need to make my life worth living.  He makes me happy.  Today!

For whatever you may be enduring this day I invite you to sense the presence of Jesus in your life.  He is telling you…Be of good cheer, don’t be afraid, I’m right here with you. If you will allow yourself to believe that you just might find yourself smiling.  His nearness is all around you…and it’s all you need…to be cheerful.


For my financial supporters.

There’s so much to tell about the last year one post won’t do.  So, before I say anything else I think it’s right to begin by thanking those who made the last year of my life possible.  I’m talking about some friends who made financial sacrifices so they could support Amy and I for twelve months.  I don’t even know all their names.  Though I hope to.

Meanwhile, thank you.

When Mark McCoy began to help me raise support (he did all the work)  Wall Street was teetering and banks were tottering. Millions and billions of dollars were lost in an instant.  Remember how bleak the news was?  It was so bad they even had me on the Larry King Show to discuss the economy.

We were led to believe (and it was easy to believe)  the economy was on the narrow edge of  collapse.  As a result people with money quit spending and investors quit investing.  My timing couldn’t have been worse.  Unless you’re dealing with investors who have invested their most precious treasures in the one place that is immune to teetering and tottering.  And I was.

I’m indebted to investors whose faith in Christ empowered them to burden themselves financially for my sake.  Money is a big deal.  What you did for me is no small thing.

You should know whatever good is left for me to accomplish in the Kingdom is now a “we.”     You are a forever part of my story.  Every time I teach…every time I preach…every time I love…every time I believe…you will be with me.

I hope I live a life worthy of your investment.  I pray your dividends  are numerous and never-ending.

P.S.  Somehow saying thanks doesn’t seem enough.  What else can I do?  After thinking it over I want to do something for you that I learned from  Dr. Mark Curtis.    He tithes his skills.  I can’t fix teeth- but to each and every one of you who supported me  I offer you this- I’ll preach your funeral at no cost.  That’s right- no cost!

I love you.

For my Dad.

I’ve had a reconciliation with my dad.  I’m so happy.

I discovered the dad who existed in my mind and memories no longer lives.  The dad whom I feared is dead.  The dad who could not comprehend or appreciate my simplistic trust in Jesus has now surpassed me in his willingness to live in the realm of child-like faith.

Somewhere along the journey I lost my way.

There was a time my simple faith drove my dad to distraction.   For instance, when I was in junior high my dog was hit by a car.  That I wasn’t frantic with worry, while the vet fought for her life, bewildered my dad.  He interpreted it as a lack of concern on my part. It seemed to anger him.

He inquired.  Though I don’t recall my exact words they were something along the lines of… I’m not worried because Jesus will fix her.

My faith was such that that was the end of the matter for me.  I carried on as if nothing was wrong.  No worries.  Only trust.  In Jesus.

What happened?  It has become apparent to me, especially over the last few months, how far I’ve fallen.  Where is the boy with faith so sure?  Trust has turned to fear and faith reduced to cynicism for the man he became.

Last week I demonstrated my expertise in worry and fear while sitting in my dad’s living room.  There are few more skilled than I am in the art of wretched, hand-wringing, God-denying and life-killing anxiety.  That our Lord would  nudge me back to reality by a man who seemed to mock my faith so long ago is nothing short of miraculous.  In fact, decades later I find it gloriously and wonderfully ironic that the grown-up I knew as dad has become like the boy I once was.

In a way no one else could my dad reminded me of what I’d been, how far I’ve fallen and the road I must travel.  He showed me the way home.  He did so by gently saying over and over… So what?  Don’t worry son.  Jesus will take care of you! In his words I heard a know-nothing boy in junior-high saying the very same thing.  In his words I could see Jesus smiling at me while saying, “Welcome home!”

It’s always good to be home.

I’m in awe of my dad.  Much to my surprise- and in spite of my lack of belief that he would ever open himself up to the presence of Jesus Christ-  he has taken all the lemons life ever gave him and offered them up to our great God.  Today he is drinking the sweet lemonade of which the recipe is known only to the King of kings and Lord of lord’s.  Last week he gave me a drink.  It’s delicious!

Dad, of all the men I know there are  two whose life examples tower above the rest.  One of them is Amy’s dad.  Ken’s faith and determination to embody all that is Christ-like is such that if the Bible were being written today his name would be mentioned in the same breath as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  To those who know Ken they know this is no exaggeration.  It simply is.

I want you to know that you are the other man.  Dad, when I grow up I hope I’m like you.

love, your son.

P.S.

For those who care to know- my dog did die.  Of natural causes.  Years later.

Moving On.

It’s hard to believe, but our year at Memorial Drive is nearly to an end. And what a great year it has been. Amy and I are so thankful for this opportunity and indebted to so many who made it happen for us.

Above all we will miss our precious friends in the Young Adult Ministry. We love you guys.

So, we look to the future now. I have no idea where or what that future is…or what I’ll do in the meantime…but I’m confident (I think) God will lead us.

I’m open to just about anything so if you know about a ministry opportunity please let me know.

Poor Amy.

Amy has shingles. She started not feeling well early last week and by Wednesday she was in extreme pain. Not to mention the rash.

Amy hates to be alone when she’s not feeling well so I’ve tried to be available to her exclusively since last Friday afternoon. I can’t really blame her for wanting me to stick around as much as possible. Shingles is awful. She can’t even use the ceiling fans because the moving air causes her to hurt. Yikes!

My main job during this ordeal is to simply be available. I tried “treating” her with soothing medicated powder on Sunday and when I applied it she began gasping for air and doubled over in pain.

From now on I’m going to stick to what I’m good at doing. I make a great gopher and maid. Which I’m glad to do because Amy always takes such good care of me when I’m confined to the bed and house.

Last night (Monday) was the first since last week Amy said she slept well. Maybe, prayerfully, the worst is behind us.

Keep Amy in your prayers. Please.