A brief missive on Thankfulness

I was pondering thankfulness today, which is nothing new. Given the calamities of our little family over the past couple of years, and the way in which God has brought us through our trials, I think on thankfulness daily. Anyway, I put those thoughts into a little graphic I hope you’ll share.

thankfulness_18409I know the font is cliche’, but aren’t these inspirational pieces supposed to have corny font?

Happy Thanksgiving!  Let gratitude and humility be our theme every day of the year.

Let the Day begin


Here’s to the babies in a brand new world,
Here’s to the beauty of the stars…
Here’s to the travelers of the open road,
Here’s to the dreamers and the bards…
Here’s to the soldiers on the desert dunes,
Here’s to the farmers in the fields…
Here’s to the preachers of the sacred Word,
Here’s to the loving God who heals…
Here’s to you, my little loves, with blessing from above, now let the Day begin.

Just sharing a friendly good morning and a now-historic photo of the windmill which used to stand near Farmer’s Livestock southeast of Bismarck (it’s a parking lot now).  Lyrics modified from one of my favorite songs by The Call.

It’s no secret that I’ve been posting very little lately.  Naturally that’s because I haven’t been out with my camera lately.  I’m hoping to rectify that, but it’s going to take a little bit yet.  I have good reason:

  • As you’ve probably discerned, nearly everyone in my little family has had a very serious medical predicament.  No two have been alike.  I myself have had to make multiple trips to Mayo Clinic for complicated surgeries, the first of which failed.
  • In the midst of all that, we gave up our house and were homeless briefly.  Thanks to friends from church, we had a place to stay while we hunted for a new place.  Then it was a stretch as apartment dwellers, with most of our lives in bins as we awaited the next stage of life.  Now we’re in a new home, and it is wonderful – but time consuming.

I’ve learned a LOT over the past two years.  God has brought us through many serious situations.  He’s sent a lot of people our way to provide assistance.  We’re humbled as we look back over the past two years and, although we’re not out of the woods completely, we’re excited to see what He has in store for us.

Resurrection Day 2015

not_my_will_33573I caught this photo just after sunrise Saturday morning, and I think it’s rather appropriate for Resurrection Sunday.  This is the day Jesus made good on His mission to atone for the sins of the world.  No other person in history could have made that sacrifice on our behalf, providing a way for us to get to Heaven to join a sinless God who so loved a world full of sinners.

As I decompress from having to defend the faith upon which our nation was founded, a la SB2279, I feel it’s very important to point out one thing: these deviant sexual behaviors, while certainly sin, are no worse than any other sin.  Yes, that’s right.  In 21st century terms, sin is digital.  It’s a 1 or a 0, and NO sin can enter heaven.

The Bible points out that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  That’s why we need a savior, and today’s the day we celebrate that selfless act He performed on our behalf.

Amen.

Fargo Forum proves that SB2279 was about intimidation

260748399-The-Forum-Friday-April-3-cover-originalThis is the “objective journalism” we get from the birdcage liner known as the Fargo Forum.  It proves what I’ve been saying all along: SB2279 is about intimidation.  Here they attempt to “shame” legislators who voted against this abomination for their vote to uphold religious liberty.

Rep. Boschee also made a veiled threat during the floor debate in the House chamber today, when he pointed toward the homofascist attacks on Indiana and Arkansas in the wake of religious liberty legislation being passed in those states.  He implied that the same sort of thing would befall North Dakota if they didn’t fall into lockstep with the other states currently being bullied and extorted into catering to 2.3% of the US population.

This is the “love” and “equality” you find from the sexually disoriented.  They talk a good game when they emote their way through committee hearings and even floor discussion, but what it comes down to is unparalleled vindictiveness.  That’s what SB2279 was all about.

So, I hopped into Photoshop to correct the cover of the Forum:

260748399-The-Forum-Friday-April-3-cover-accurateSB2279 had so many problems simply in its mechanics or lack thereof, but the “big picture” really is that this legislation has a well-documented track record as a blunt instrument used to persecute persons of faith.  The proponents tried to make it about “housing and employment”, but this legislation is most prominently used to go after Grandma when the convictions of her faith lead her to decline providing flowers for a homosexual “wedding”.

Stay classy, Fargo Forum.  No wonder you’re a dying breed.

It’s about time…

capitol_windows_32511Now that there’s snow on the grass, I figured I’d venture out and grab a shot of the capitol with the windows lit.  Check.  Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it!

I got what I wanted for Christmas: prior to opening gifts this morning, I read from Luke 2:8-14…

linus_christmasWhat’s so cool about that, other than the obvious?  The fact that my entire (albeit little) family recited it with me, including the little influenza case on the couch with his blankie.  You see, Linus Van Pelt is not the only one who has memorized this passage of scripture.  We all have.  In fact, my oldest got up in front of our church with a microphone and recited it when he was four years old.  He took it upon himself to do this after watching A Charlie Brown Christmas with his daddy.  How awesome is that?

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Catharsis


“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” I Thessalonians 4:13

(Originally posted in 2009)

Today marks the anniversary of the loss of my friend, Kirk Eckelberry. Anyone who knew him is well aware of the lives he touched as a Christian husband, local attorney, soccer coach at Shiloh, or just as a friend or neighbor. Kirk and I hadn’t seen each other much since we were kids, but in 1999 we had reconnected and loved blazing around on our big Kawasaki Ninjas and camping out at the races. Sadly, I only had the one summer with my friend.

I’ve always skilfully put up walls in my heart regarding loss, especially in this situation. It wasn’t the first time; my friend Norm Kukert died on his motorcycle right in front of me; my friend Brad Doll died on his motorcycle right before I arrived on the scene (I still have my collectible Scott Russell t-shirt with the tear from lifting Brad’s bike into the truck). One race weekend, when I had a really bad feeling about things and packed up my gear without ever getting on the track and headed home, one of our racers was killed in a high speed turn two accident. A young motorcycle racer tells himself things like “It’ll never happen to me.” For many reasons, which I still don’t understand, Kirk’s death really pierced my heart.

I found out about his crash while getting my scripts ready for the ten o’clock news at KFYR-TV one night. I was stunned…that’s not the way to find out your friend has been killed. We were looking forward to going racing together the next spring and had experienced a really fun summer of riding. Also, I wasn’t a Christian at that time and was really fond of having a friend who was saved. I could see the peace and joy he had, and it was starting to sink in exactly why and how he could have those things. And suddenly he was gone.

Many of us, including Kirk’s brother and myself, rode in a group of motorcycles at Kirk’s funeral. I’m sure he would have enjoyed that. I have no doubt that he’s in unspeakable joy up in heaven with his savior; the sadness I’ve felt has always been for those of us who miss him, most of all his family. That kind of pain and sorrow is the thing that I’ve shut out, bottled up, whatever sort of cliche’ you want to apply. This time around, however, despite my best efforts to skirt around the anniversary of the day, I was able to come away with a sense of joy and love I never expected.

Kirk’s family poured a lot of time and effort into me when I was a kid. When they had youth group events at their house or church, I was always welcome. It seemed as though I could smell pizza at the Eckelberry home from my house several blocks away! Many times i would come over and not even hang out much with the Eckelberry boys, but talk with Ma about my need to be “born again” or my need for a savior. Those things didn’t sink in at the time, but they laid the groundwork for me to realize the truth down the road.

It was actually Jesus himself who said that we need to be “born again” in John 3:7 (“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”). Here I thought the term was just clever branding on the part of some Christian movement. Nope…the entire reason I’d been going to church all my life, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the one who said it. That’s pretty high authority…after all, if we don’t believe in what Jesus himself said, why go to church in the first place?

The constant witness and the visible joy of my friends spoke to my heart, and there was a point down the road where I accepted Jesus as my savior, I became “born again”, I got “saved”…whatever term you wish to ascribe to it. I am now a Christian in every sense of the word. I wish I could have told Kirk in person, but I know that some day in heaven I’ll get the opportunity to do just that.

The reason I can now write this with such joy and with an unburdened heart is that I was able to find and call Kirk’s mom, “Mrs. Eckelberry” to me, and finally tell her how I miss Kirk. More importantly, I was able to thank her for caring enough for me to spend the time witnessing to me, inviting me in for pizza or to church, and always making me feel welcome. I was able to tell her that her kindness and the influence of her son Kirk were the pivotal influence in my life, that now I’m a Christian husband and daddy. That kid who had no regard for his eternal destination or relationship with the God that created him is a Christian man, active in a great church and trying to serve God every day. That’s fruit to their account, and the blessings they gave me were hopefully returned by letting her know what a wonderful difference she made in the salvation of that boy.

Sure, it’s still painful to miss Kirk and all the fun we had planned. I especially think of his wife and two little kids, especially when I go out riding these days. Rather than focusing on the loss of my friend, however, I can now think of the joy that his brief re-entry into my life has brought. Someday in heaven we’ll all share in unspeakable joy, and the pain of this life will be a distant memory.

I was listening to a sermon by Charles Stanley the other day, talking about the legacy we’ll leave behind. My salvation is part of the legacy of Kirk and his family. I’m not alone; there were many people who got up at Kirk’s funeral to describe their memories of him. One in particular that stood up was a woman who only met him once. She was in a very bad place, financially and otherwise, but Kirk helped her. He did so in a kind and loving way, and his influence on her was great enough that she came to stand in front of all those people and relate her experience with Kirk Eckelberry. Many people remember Kirk like that.

From now on I’m going to remember the joy of being friends with Kirk and his family, to be grateful for my soul’s salvation through their investment in me, and the knowledge that someday I’ll see him again in the presence of our Lord.

Looking back on the longest year

footsteps_ip_3747I’d like to start out this week by pointing out that of all the blessings my family and I have received through the past year’s trials, we have deserved NONE of them.  They are the grace of God.  All the answered prayers, the people who stepped in to help, the healing and provision…they are a gift from above. We could earn NONE of them by any goodness on our part or by any bad things we’ve endured. All serve instead as a testament of the grace, mercy, and love shown to us by our Lord and Savior. We’re so thankful and look forward to a “light at the end of the tunnel” as it appears that we may be on the tail end of many of our health issues and other setbacks. 🙂

Almost had some sundogs

sunset_iphone_2358It would be an understatement to say that my life’s gone through an upheaval in the past six months, medically and otherwise.  That’s why you haven’t seen a lot of new photos lately.  I’ve simply been unable to get out with my camera, a situation that’s been just short of maddening.

Well, I was out on a friend’s land last night, enjoying the vista of open prairie, and happened to notice that we almost had a couple of really nice sundogs from the developing sunset.  On the left of the sun you can see one forming, and even a hint of one on the right.  The conditions weren’t quite right for really well-developed refractions, but it was still a cool sight…especially since it’s been so long for me to even gaze at the sky.

In a way, today is one of those “first day of the rest of your life” kind of days.  I’m not out of the woods yet, but I’m also not facing some dire prognosis either.  I’ve got more medical stuff ahead of me, I’ve sold our house to adjust for now and downsized my life significantly, but I’ve got prayer and loving friends on my side.  So as one stage of my life sunsets, I look forward to what the Lord has in store for us as we claw our way back to a new “normal”.  I’m sure it will include a lot of new photos to share at some point.

The four most important words you’ll hear this Christmas


Hark the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.

One ubiquitous Christmas holiday phrase is “Peace on Earth.” As the hymn above shows, that is entirely appropriate; however, we tend to assign an earthly context to it by mistake. It’s not about peace between men at all; rather, it means peace between men and God. Those four most important words I alluded to in the title are the last four in the verse above: “God and sinners reconciled.” That is the source of peace on earth.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:13-14)

That peace and good will didn’t transmit from man to man; it came from God to all men. Since the fall of Adam, that peace between God and men did not exist. By giving the gift of His son, however, God was offering that peace and good will to men once again:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

There’s your peace…

“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (Romans 5:18)

Repeatedly in the Old and New Testaments, the Bible reminds us that “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3:23 points out that “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We need as Savior, one whose birth we celebrate each Christmas. As the angel told Joseph:

“Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20)

This was the Savior foretold by the prophets. For example:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

God’s desire is to restore that fellowship and peace, reconciling (see those four important words once again) us to Him through his Son:

“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled…”

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I believe what Jesus says in the Bible: “you must be born again.” He means that in order to be forgiven and assured a place in heaven, you must put your faith and trust in Him. We can not do anything to assuage the sin that we carry in our lives; only He can.

By placing your belief and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive your sins, acknowledging that He made the only sufficient sacrifice for them on the cross, you can be saved. Only then will you be able to truly partake in that “peace on earth” that the angel of the Lord spoke of when declaring good news to those shepherds.

I love the spirit of Christmas as much as, if not more than, the next guy… but the joy, the spirit, the family time, the celebrations, the lights, the gifts… those are all simply a by-product and a shadow of the joy that God extends to each and every person through His son, the one through whom we enjoy unspeakable joy and peace each Christmas and throughout the year.