Week 3 Verse – Ephesians 4:31-32

If you’re a new reader to my blog you might not be aware of my goals for 2014.  First on the list is to pick one Bible verse to focus on and pray about each week.  Whatever my mood or need is for the week I’ll search out a verse to reflect on.

This week I’ve chosen Ephesians 4:31-32(NIV).

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

I chose these two verses because these days it seems like you can’t escape “bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander.”  Open the paper, turn on the news, click the next Facebook link and there’s a good chance you’ll find a story where at least one of these things is present.

Countries, communities, congress… even families are fighting!  Why? I believe it’s mostly for the overwhelming desire to be right and control every situation.  Trust me, as a slight control freak who likes to be right,  I’m just as guilty as the next guy.

I can’t help but think the news and our world view would change if we all lived out  Ephesians 4:32.  “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

A little kindness and compassion can go a long way.  A little listening and patience might not change your mind but it will at least give you a brief look at the other side of an argument.

My goal this week is to rid my thoughts of  “bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander.”  To ask for forgiveness when necessary and to grant it when others ask it of me.

I’ll leave you with a great Tobymac song called “Forgiveness” with these lyrics:

“Cause we all make mistakes sometimes
And we’ve all stepped across that line
But nothing’s sweeter than the day we find
Forgiveness, forgiveness
And we all stumble and we fall
Bridges burn in the heat of it all
But nothing’s sweeter than the day,
sweeter than the day we call
out for forgiveness”

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Small Towns Rock

My wife and I grew up around small towns so when we got married it’s no wonder we ended up in one to raise our family.  I don’t ever remember discussing it.  I guess we knew each other well enough that we didn’t need to discuss it.

After a year of marriage and living in Des Moines we were ready to buy a house.  We found one in a small town with a reasonable commute and have been here 15 years now.  It took awhile to feel like we were part of the town.  Joining a church helped.  Once we had kids the real sense of community kicked in.   Meeting our kid’s friends, their parents, and teachers really helped.

For me some of the best things about living in a small town are the little things.  Knowing that there’ll be someone you know to say “Hi” to whenever you fill up at the local gas station.  Having a neighbor who isn’t afraid to knock on your door to ask for help getting an old water heater out of his basement (and then returning the favor a few months later by plowing the snow off your driveway).  Being able to go into the local hardware for a little advice, a fair price, and some good conversation.

Small towns are great for raising children!  They’re afforded the luxury of being able to play and be a part of any sport they want. They might not be a star player in every sport but they will be a part of the team.  As a parent you get to sit in the stands or on the sidelines and chat with your kid’s friend’s parents and enjoy the game.  As a side benefit the view is usually pretty good too.  Like this one of our town’s soccer field with a cornfield and farm as the back drop.


There are Church youth groups, dance, 4H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, community activities… the list could go on and on.

With kids busy in so many things it’s good to live in a small town because you need the help of family and friends to get everyone where they need to be.  Help is never more than a text, call, or Facebook post away whenever our kids need a ride or a place to stay for a bit.  Our friends are always happy to help.  Just like we are happy to help them.

Small towns sometimes get a bad rap on the TV or in the movies but for most of us who live in one, we wouldn’t trade it for anything.




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God’s Not Through With Me Yet

Today I’d like to tell you a little about my friend Gordon.  I call him my friend but really anyone who’s spent more than a minute with him would call him that.

Gordon is one of the patriarchs of our Church.  A man whose kindness towards others and whose faith in God runs deep.  He’s the type of guy who probably goes through 50 pounds of sugar each Christmas making homemade candy for his family and friends.  He’s the guy who must come to Church each Sunday with a roll of quarters in his pocket so he can give one to every child he sees to put in the collection tube for Heifer Project International.

Recently, Gordon gave his testimony to our congregation.  It’s an inspiring story that many had heard before but were glad to get the opportunity to hear again.

He titled his testimony “God’s Not Through With Me Yet” and shared how 48 years ago a tractor accident rocked his world.  This was back in the day before tractors had cabs.  One careless moment reaching for a cigarette had the tractor airborne and upside down in a ditch.

Fortunately, a 5 year old boy heard the accident and was able to get his father to help.  The tractor fared better than Gordon.  He had “a badly shattered left leg, many broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder, and seven of the transverse processes in his back were snapped as though a plumb line had been used.”

Four days into his hospital stay his kidneys quit working.  At the end of the second week the doctor asked Gordon’s wife if she’d like to bring Gordon’s 2 children to see him.  That was a grim question because much like today, in 1965, children weren’t allowed in the intensive care unit.

Before the visit with their father Gordon’s wife took the children into the hospital chapel to discuss what they would see;  to talk about their father’s condition and the probability that he might not live.  It’s at that point the eight year old daughter said, “Mother, you need to have more faith than that.”  Surely, this whole ordeal impacted that young daughter as today she is  a nurse.

The accident happened in early December and Christmas Eve morning when Gordon’s wife arrived at the hospital a nurse stopped her to say, “We don’t know what was going on during the night, but we felt we needed to sit by your husband’s bedside.  He kept reaching and reaching for something.  Then he’d get a real puzzled look on his face and his hand would fall back.”

“Where am I?  What happened?” For the first time in 20 days Gordon was conscience enough to ask questions.  After reminding him where he was his wife asked him, “what happened to you last night?  What were you reaching for?”

He answered by sharing how “there was the most beautiful music I have ever heard, and a light that was so bright and yet so peaceful. Angels kept flying around my bed all night and they kept reaching out their hands to me and kept saying, “Come Gordon, we have a place prepared for you.”

Gordon never could reach those hands.  It was Christmas Eve and he was moved out of ICU and stayed at the hospital for another 3 weeks followed by months of recuperating.

One interesting note, at the back of Gordon’s medical chart the doctor wrote “MIRACLE”.  This was one of the same doctors who earlier in the month had given his wife “nothing to pin her hopes on” and allowed his children to see him in the ICU.

Every day is a gift from God and everyday Gordon lives that gift.  He figures that had he touched one of the angels he wouldn’t have been around to share his story so God, “Must not be though with me yet.”

Gordon was not called to the ministry… but rather to serve in our community.  He does that in many ways but most importantly by sharing his story and his love of the Lord.

Yesterday he reminded us all that, “Every day without exception is a gift from God.”



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