You'll Never Guess...

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

What I Saw After Our Walk...

No self-respecting rural homestead can dare call itself a “farm” unless it is home to some “farm” cats. With that in mind, we recently acquired two really cute black-and-white farm kittens from a couple of kids in our church (who, of course, wanted to keep all five kitties in the litter, but were overruled by their parents). We named these future four-legged mouse traps “Salt” and “Pepper.”  Pepper is the female and was so named because of her spicy personality. The first day, not long after we'd brought them home, I was holding her when one of our dogs came into the room. She had not encountered a dog to this point in her young life, so was naturally scared by this huge, curious creature. In her fright, she jumped, turned away from the dog and then literally “bit the hand that feeds her!” Within a few minutes she learned to hiss and spit - this time in the direction of the dog, who quickly found out that this new creature was not going to be the playmate she’d hoped for.

A screened porch for the kitties. 
Over the years we have witnessed our chickens ganging up on small bunnies and chipmunks - making quick snacks of both - so we felt we needed to provide some protection for the kitties as we introduce them to the flock. We put a comfy blanket in a kennel and made a makeshift screen porch for them. It’s a safe place to play and get acclimated to the other residents of the farm. As you can see in the picture, the chicks we got from Runnings this spring (see the blog post from April 20) are nearly full-grown and came to check out these new furry creatures who were hanging out behind their coop. Pepper is the one on the left - the one with the “Come any closer and you’ll all be chicken dinner!” look in her eyes. This picture was taken a little after lunchtime. The chickens, curiosity satisfied, soon got distracted and went off in search of whatever it is they find while pecking through the clover. 

Later that evening...
Violet and I came back from our after-supper walk. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my phone with me, so you’ll just have to imagine what we saw as we went to check on Salt and Pepper. The scene was similar to the one in the lunchtime picture. The five “cheepsters” were approaching the kitty porch again, but this time, Pepper had found a small opening between the wall screen and roof screen and was sitting on top of the porch. She was crouched low in her “stalking” stance - almost daring the chickens to come within striking distance! Not one ounce of fear! It was a hilarious sight to behold!

Any mice who have thoughts of taking up residence on the farm this fall had better check Zillow for alternative homes! (And the chickens have been put on notice not to turn their backs on Pepper either!)

Thursday, June 25, 2020

What I Saw at the Pub on Father's Day!

I don't know about you, but I've heard plenty of jokes that begin something like:  "So this dog walks into a bar and says to the bartender..."

And the jokes are usually funny and make me laugh - or at least crack a bit of a smile. But I always know, "That could never happen." Well, let me tell you....

My kids had taken me out for Father's Day dinner at this Irish pub, and after one particular bite of the best corned beef sandwich I've ever had, I glance over at the outside patio bar and see this:

Now, I'm sitting far enough away that I can't make out exactly what the pup said, but it sure sounded like "I'll have me a Salty Dog, and just a club soda for the lady - she's drivin' ya know!"

I know there are funnier "dog came into a bar" stories, but this one's not made up!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

What I Heard on the Radio!

(My thoughts about what I was hearing are in italics.)

I was on my way to church, listening to a famous cable-network morning-show host being interviewed about a new book she’d written. She talked about her faith and how it had gotten her through some really rough times.

That grabbed my attention. 

Then she told that she had included a Scripture passage at the front of every chapter.

What a great foundation to start from! 

The conversation then turned to current events, specifically the riots and looting going on in big cities around the country. The lady being interviewed mentioned that she had listened to three sermons online this past Sunday.

That’s better than I would do.

One of the sermons got a more detailed description. She recounted how the pastor had been talking to one of his colleagues in an attempt to discern what to preach about. The colleague said, “Habakkuk.”

One of my favorite books in the Old Testament. 

The morning-show host quoted the pastor (who was quoting Habakkuk 1:2) “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?” 

Very appropriate to our situation!

She again quoted from Habakkuk (1:5. Which is God’s response to the prophet’s complaint.) “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

So far so good.

But then she just left it there and went on to talk about how that passage was so reassuring to her giving the listeners the impression: “God’s got this AND something amazingly good is going to happen from it!”

This is where I yelled at my radio: “Wait a minute! That’s NOT what the passage says!”  

I wasn’t sure who to blame, the person telling about the sermon or the person who actually preached it. But what I had just heard was a prime example of something I talk about frequently: You can’t just lift a passage of Scripture out of it’s context! You can make the Bible say pretty much whatever you want it to say by ignoring the setting of the passage, and she ignored the all-important rest of the passage.

In context:
God goes on to tell the unbelievable thing He’s going to do: He’s going to send the powerful, ruthless neighboring peoples, the Babylonians, to reek holy havoc on Habakkuk’s people as a consequence for all the violent acts that they are committing! (To which Habakkuk replies [I’m paraphrasing] “Hey, wait a minute, that’s not what I was hoping for here. Those Babylonians are even worse than my people!” And God responds, [I’m paraphrasing again] “I know. Don’t worry. Be patient and trust Me. They’ll get theirs too!”)

The first part of the morning-show host’s takeaway was spot on. God does see what’s going on and He is going to do something about it! But the second part, the part that painted God as some kind of genie who is going to make everything magically turn out wonderfully where “everyone lives happily ever after,” could not have been further from the truth! God is not a genie, but rather the perfect Father, and He knows that allowing consequences is sometimes the only way to get the “unruly kids” to stop misbehaving.

Just to clarify:
I am NOT saying that God’s also going to deal with our nation and our current situation by sending a ruthless world power to come and wipe us out! I have no idea what He’s going to do. But I do know that He sees what’s going on, hears our cries and has a perfect plan. Be Patient and Trust Him!

Friday, May 29, 2020

What I Saw Out the Back Door of Church!

Fifteen folks with guns. Aimed not at each other, but at little orange discs made of clay. 

For those of you unfamiliar with “trap shooting,” it’s like target practice and is designed to hone skills for later in the year when hunting ducks or geese. The little orange discs are launched skyward from a mechanical “thrower” and the participants take turns attempting to turn them into dust particles that fall back to earth. Some folks are “lights out” and really good! Others, like me, most often leave the little orange discs unscathed, later to be gathered and used again next time! We console ourselves with the idea that we’re “helping the cause” by reducing the number of boxes of clays we need to purchase for the next shoot :)

That’s “technically” what I saw on the five acres out back of our church building. But what I really saw - beyond the obvious - was the truth of God’s statement in Genesis 2:18: “It is not good for man (or woman) to be alone!” You see, this was our first trap-shoot outing of the spring. More importantly, it was the first time most of us were able to get together with anyone who doesn't live in the same house since the COVID-19 lockdowns began a couple months ago. What I saw went WAY beyond the normal fun of competition or of enjoying a perfect Minnesota spring evening. I saw the smiles and heard the laughter that comes from being together instead of being alone! 

God created us to be in community, to be interdependent rather than independent. He designed us to need each other instead of needing just ourselves. As we’ve seen so vividly highlighted these past few months, it is not good for man or woman or teen or child to be alone. I thank God for that trap shooting evening and the blessed reminder of just how good it is to be together!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

What I Saw In the Bible!

Every month at our church we have what we call a “Discipleship Verse.” It’s like a memory verse. We recite it three times in each worship service during that month to help commit that verse to memory. I was looking for a verse for the month of May that would speak to our current “Stay at Home” situation here in Minnesota. Proverbs 3:5-6 came to mind (maybe because it has always been one of my favorite verses). If you’re not familiar with it here’s what God tells us in it:  

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

And after I read that proverb I glanced down at the next one. (A proverb is a “short saying that expresses a practical truth.” i.e. “Wise words for life.”)  Here’s what I saw: 

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.

I put those last two lines in all caps, because "healing" has been front and center in our prayers and on our minds since early March. And here’s a passage that not only tells us what to do that will bring us health, but the instruction comes from no less than God!!!

God has been called “The Great Physician - of both body and soul.” Here’s His prescription:

Don’t be arrogant or proud. Don’t pat your self on the back for being so smart. Instead, be humble and have a healthy respect for the Lord and His power. Then stay far, far away from anything that’s contrary to what God wants (“evil”).  

Or maybe put even simpler:   “Remember that you aren’t god, but that I Am!”

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

What I Saw in the Garden!

What I saw - actually, Violet saw them first - were the daffodils in the picture below. Violet had planted them last year and forgotten about them. This year they popped up as a beautiful surprise! 

In addition to being a cheery sign that spring is here, daffodils also have a special place in our marriage. 

Way back when we were first married, I was a penny-pincher. (Ok, might as well come clean: I was a certified, card-carrying “Cheapskate!” There, I said it!) I wouldn’t buy flowers if my life depended on it. I might - might - buy a plant, because I could convince myself that a plant had a chance to be a “gift that keeps on giving.” Flowers? They’ll be dead in three days. Made no sense to me to spend money on something that I knew was only going to last three days. (Don’t ask me how many boxes of Little Debbie Snack Cakes I’d buy every week - snack cakes that had little chance of lasting even 5 minutes after I’d get them home!)

Anyway, we lived in The Cities, when we were first married, and there was a grocery chain there at the time named Rainbow Foods. Rainbow’s weekly ad always featured some item they would give away for free. Well, one week the freebie was daffodils. Free is a very good price for flowers, so I stopped on my way home and picked up a bunch of FREE daffodils and proudly presented them to my bride. Violet was thrilled ... until she saw the Rainbow Foods ad in the paper! It’s a testament to Violet’s character that she didn’t pack her bags and walk out on me that very minute.

Those daffodils that popped up in our garden last week reminded me of a lot more than “Spring is here!” They are a bright and sunny reminder of my beautiful wife and just how forgiving she is! Thank God for Violet, daffodils, and the ability to look back and laugh at things that weren’t terribly funny at the time! 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

What I Saw in the Attic!

This “Stay at Home” thing has resulted in people doing strange things to pass the time. Like going through boxes in our attic! What I saw in one of those boxes was a photo of an old (but really nice) ‘69 Camaro .... that I used to have! The unfortunate key phrase in that last sentence is “used to!” Quite awhile back when my kids found out that I had gotten rid of a ‘69 Camaro, one asked, “What were you thinking?!” To which the other replied, “Obviously, he wasn’t!”  Ouch! The truth hurts! Oh, the regrets!

Every life has regrets, many of which are a whole lot more serious than not having the foresight to keep a vehicle that would become a classic! I’ll bet you’d have no trouble coming up with some regrets right now. “I wish I would have....” or “I wish I wouldn’t have...”

Regrets  have a way of haunting us, don’t they. But they don’t need to!

You see, you can’t go back and change what you did or didn’t do in the past. But - here comes the important part - you don’t have to allow past actions (or inactions) to poison your future! Forgiveness is the key to locking up those regrets permanently!

Maybe the forgiveness is the kind that needs to be given. If so, do it! Not giving it will make you bitter. Guaranteed! Giving it will make you better! (Also guaranteed!)

Maybe the forgiveness is the kind that needs to be asked for. If so, do it! And if the person’s no longer around to ask forgiveness of, you have a God who specializes in forgiving - and forgetting! Listen to this from Hebrews 8:12 “I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more!” What an amazing thing! You ask God to forgive you, He not only forgives, but He forgets! What that means is this: When Satan torments you with regret and you go back to God for more forgiveness, His reply will be, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” He’s literally forgotten it! And, if God’s forgotten it, who are you to keep hanging onto it?!

[ Please note: I go a bit more in-depth on the subject of getting rid of regrets with forgiveness in the message during worship at our church. I invite you to watch it here: ]