Sunday, November 19, 2006

There is a Season....

As I was driving the other day, I took some time to look at the trees with little or no leaves left on them and the grass turning brown and thought about the changing season. I wondered what the point of it was. Why do we have this cycle of seasons? As I thought about it I also thought about the cycle of a single day. As the sun goes down here in Wisconsin, it is rising on the other side of the world and when the day comes to an end there it will start new here. I just found it amazing that in this world God created, there is always a new day. As dark as the night will get, a new day will begin at dawn. It is the same with the seasons. Things may be looking barren now, but we know that in the spring there will be a new season where things will get warmer and buds will pop from the trees, flowers will blossom and new life from an old plant will begin. In thinking of all of this, I also thought about the story of the sacrifice of Jesus and realized that it is the same story. 1 John 1:15 tells us that "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." Jesus is our new day. And in Ephisians 2:1 we are told that "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins..." and then in 2:4-5 "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved." Jesus is also our new season. How important is it to God that we hear the story of what His Son has done for us? Obviously so important that he used the world we live in to tell us that story every day of our lives. Every day you wake up, you wake up to the story of Jesus. No matter what happened yesterday, a new day is available today. No matter how barren your life has been, there is a new season available. Light in the darkness, life out of death. Take a minute and step outside and watch God speak to you, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." Luke 9:35

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Just A Couple Of Mowers

Today my son and I mowed the back field at our church for probably the last time of this season. As we mowed, I remembered back to when I first started cutting the grass at Oakhaven Church some years ago. I started out cutting the front yard and I remember never being able to cut it without my son insisting on coming with me. He would sit on my lap while I cut and loved the part when we would go down the hills. The older (and bigger) my son got, the more difficult it was to have him sit on my lap while I mowed, but he rufused to let me go alone. All the while I mowed, I would dream of the day that he would be able to cut the grass along side of me. A couple of years ago, I talked with the person who organized the mowing crew and we determined that my son was finally ready to handle a mower of his own. That year, I switched to cutting the back field around the trees on one mower with my son cutting the field on the other. The funny thing is that most times I have to continually bug my son to get him to cut the grass at home, but if I mention cutting the grass at church, he's in the van before I am. My son likes to call it "Pa time". Just me and my boy. We turn the radio off in the van and talk all the way to church. When we get there we fire up our mowers and get to work. We aren't able to talk for the next hour and a half but we give each other a nod or wave as we pass each other, just a couple of men and their machines. We are only able to talk to each other for about a half an hour in that two hours, but my son considers it all quality time, and so do I. As I rode my tractor today and watched him drive his, I pondered all these things. I used to dream of having my son cut the grass along side of me. Now I watch him and dream of him cutting the same field along side of his own son. I wonder if he dreams of it too. At the end of the day, there is so much more than just a couple of mowers parked in that little building in front of the church.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Confidence of a squirrel

Today I was sitting out in the woods watching a squirrel run around. The squirrel ran up a leafless tree and climbed about sixty feet in the air and jumped from the branch he was on to another branch about two and a half feet away. This wasn’t a “stop and think about it take my time kind of jump.” This was an immediate “I’m here and need to be there" kind of jump.
I began to wonder how it would be if that were me on that branch needing to make that same two and a half foot jump. I wondered how many times would I look down first and worry about the possibility of not being able to make the jump. And how many times would I think, “Well if I go back down to this branch and climb over to this branch and then back up maybe I can get there more easily and safely.” However, the down side to that is that whatever I needed or whatever needed me on the other branch may be gone by the time I get there.

Finally I just came to the conclusion that, man, I wish I had the confidence of a squirrel.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Leaving Las Vegas

About this time last year I had the opportunity to go to Las Vegas. I always wanted to go to Las Vegas. I'm not much into gambling, I just always wanted to see those lights. I always wondered if it was actually like what you see on TV. It's a pretty amazing place. The hotels are incredible and the lights are just like you see on TV. I went to Vegas expecting to see some things that I wouldn't agree with like the "Sin City" t-shirts or the other popular Vegas motto, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas". I found things like this irritating but was able to write it off as just a gimmick. There were some things I found in Vegas that I didn't expect though. While I was in the Treasure Island gift shop looking for something piratey for my son, I saw a man walk out of the casino, sit down on a small garbage can and put his head in his hands. I watched another guy lose
300 dollars at a blackjack table and then get up and go to the ATM and come back and lose 300 more. I heard another person brag to his friends that he had maxed out his credit card. One of the most disturbing things I saw was found on every street corner of the strip. Each corner had about 3-4 individuals handing out baseball type cards to everyone that passed by. On these cards were pictures of nude women advertising "adult entertainment". Most people ignored the offer for these cards and most that took them just looked at them and threw them on the ground leaving the streets literally littered with pornography. There was one thing though that I saw in Vegas that was by far the most disturbing image and changed my opinion of Las Vegas forever. It happened while walking through Caesar’s Palace. This is an incredible hotel/casino, it's almost its own indoor city. But the thing that hit me like a brick was when I passed the restaurant in the hotel and noticed the name. It was called "Nero's". At that moment I imagined Jesus standing next to me and me pointing to the sign and saying, "That's funny right." It made me feel sick to my stomach. For those that don't know, Nero was the Roman emperor responsible for the torture and death of thousands of Christians during his reign. Many were killed by animals in front of crowds of spectators in the arena, while others were tied to posts, covered with flammable material, and used as human street lamps for Nero's gardens. It was at that moment, seeing that sign, that it all came together for me. All the “little” things I had seen all compounded and I felt like the whole city was mocking me and the God I believe in. Las Vegas wasn’t what I expected or at least not what I wanted it to be. Maybe I was na├»ve in thinking it could be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that no self respecting Christian should ever be caught dead in Las Vegas. I think that is up to each individual to decide on their own, but for me, going to Las Vegas was an experience but leaving Las Vegas to come home was the best trip I’ve ever taken.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Time

This is a poem I heard many years ago that has recently come back to my mind. I don't know who wrote it or what the title is or even if this is a complete version but I decided to write down what I remembered of it.

**************************************
I have only just a minute
Only 60 seconds in it
Didn't chose it
Can't refuse it
I must give account if I abuse it
Yes, it's only just a minute
but eternity is in it.
*************************************
We are faced with choices every day. Some big, some small, but they all define our character, our beliefs, our God and our future. Take a minute and think about it.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Power Of A Good Name

Yesterday I was talking with a couple of friends about the "old days" and my friend Max told us a story that his grandfather often told him when he was a young boy. The story took place when Max's grandfather was a young boy himself and in a time where there were no cars and most people walked everywhere. Max said his grandfather's family lived about five miles from town and his grandfather told the story like this: One day his father told him to stop at the hardware store after school and pick up a part for his plow. After school, he walked to the hardware store and realized that his father had not given him any money. As he stepped in the store, he immediately saw a large sign that read: ABSOLUTELY NO CREDIT. As he was reading the sign, the man behind the counter asked, "Can I help you son?" Max's grandfather (sorry. I can't recall his name) told the man his story about the needed part and that his dad forgot to give him money. He knew he would not have time to walk the five miles home and five miles back before the store closed. The man behind the counter asked him what his name was. He said, "____ Banaszynski. Then the man asked,"What's your father's name?". He told him, "John Banaszynski". To which the man behind the counter replied, "That name is good here" and he gave him the part and told him he could pay for it the next day. He took the part home and told his father what happened and his father gave him the money for the part so he could pay for it right away the next day.
This Tuesday I have a job interview with the company my oldest brother works for. It's a job that I am not qualified for on paper but my brother feels I am fully capable of doing. My brother is one of the most hardworking and quality conscious people I know. Obviously the company he works for feels the same way because it is only by his name that I am given this opportunity. I know that without his name, my application would have gone straight to the garbage can. If after my interview I don't get the job, I'm O.K. with that. I just feel honored that my brother would have the confidence in me to put up his good name.
All of this just makes me consider my own name and it's worth. Would my name give my son some "credit" with another person? Or would my name be enough to get someone an opportunity that they would not be able to get on their own? Or is my reputation such that my name carries little or no weight at all. As I lay in bed tonight, this is something I will ponder. And when I wake up tomorrow, a good name is something I will strive for.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

An Inspiration To Me

A month or so ago a friends son, Matt, informed our church that he would like to go on a mission trip to Pau Pau New Guinea to help and learn about translating the Bible into foreign languages as this was something he feels God is leading him to do after college. He gave a presentation and wrote a detailed letter about this mission asking us to help support him prayerfully and financially on his venture. The next week, a special collection was taken up for him and his mission, funds were placed in a wooden box in the back of the church that is used for occasions such as this. After service that day, my 9 year old daughter Emily was asking me questions about where Matt was going and what exactly he was going to be doing and why he wanted to do it. I explained as best I could and we went on with the rest of our day. The following Sunday at church, my daughter brought with her all the spending money she had, which amounted to 2 dollars and some change and put it in that wooden box for Matt. She told me about it later and I wasn't sure what to do because the collection was over and Matt had gone back to college. I didn't want to tell her that and make her feel like she was too late when she was trying to do such a good thing, so I decided to just let the money stay in the box for now. A couple weeks passed and Matt came back on a Wednesday before leaving on his mission trip to give us more detail about what he would be doing and ask us once again to pray for him. After he spoke to us, I took him to the wooden box and told him that a little girl had added to the collection and that it wasn't much but it was all she had. I knew that 2 dollars wasn't going to take him far physically, but my hope was that it would carry him emotionally and spiritually, to know that someone would give all to help him. It did touch him, and he asked me if I knew who it was. I told him it was my daughter, and he said he would have to thank her personally. I told him I didn't think that was necessary, I just wanted to make sure he didn't leave without knowing how much people believed in what he was doing, even 9 year old girls. He told me that I must be very proud of her, and I am. As I thought about that later in the evening, I began to wonder about what he meant when he said I must be proud of her and what I was proud of. I guess when he said that I took it to mean I should be proud that she would give all she had to help, and again, I am. But when I really think about it, what makes me most proud and fills my heart with joy is that she was inspired. The fact that she was moved and her heart was touched, that's what makes me want to say amen. I worry that my children don't understand who God is or the great joy in having a relationship with him. Growing up "Christian" is not easy. Although I don't really know because I didn't grow up christian. But I know how hard it is to be christian as an adult,and I know how hard growing up is. Sometimes I am even thankful I did not have to face the two together. I am afraid for my kids. I worry about the teasing they will endure for their faith and if their faith will be strong enough for them to endure the teasing. Maybe I don't give them enough credit for their strength. But when I see times like this, when they are inspired as my daughter was, it gives me joy and confidence that they know God and they will persevere. Thanks Matt for inspiring my daughter to inspire me.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

We Serve An Awesome God

We serve an awesome God, we serve a God that does not need us. God doesn’t need you and He doesn’t need me. God was God before He created Adam and Eve and if He were to wipe out this world today, He would still be God. But we serve a God who loves us and desires us. Our existence is not in any way critical to His existence but for some reason God finds it critical for us not only to continue exist here but also with Him in eternity. Although He does not need us, He desires us, and He desires us in such a way that He would even sacrifice His only son Jesus Christ to have us with Him. When I think of the sacrifice of Jesus, I immediately think of the cross and Him giving Himself for my sins so that I can stand blameless before the Father. And although I believe that this is the pinnacle of His sacrifice, His sacrifice really started some 30 years earlier when He stepped down from His throne with the Father and into the skin of a man to come and live among us. Jesus chose to live among us, to show us in the physical the Father’s love and what His will was. Before Jesus suffered death for us, He suffered life for us and before Jesus conquered death, He conquered this life. Following is an excerpt from the book “Reliving the Passion” by Walter Wangerin Jr. that helped me to see this. It starts by reading Mark 15:16-20. The words in red are the recorded words of our Lord while he lived on this earth.

The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, "Hail, king of the Jews!" Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. (Mark 15:16-20)

Now the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the Praetorium).
You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil.
And they call together the whole battalion, some six hundred soldiers, auxiliary troops recruited from the non-Jewish peoples of Palestine. “Recreation!”, they cry. “A little R-and-R!”
If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Jesus has already been scourged with the flagellum. His back is bleeding. When they pull a purple robe across his shoulders, the blood soaks through. They weave a crown from the thorny branches from a nearby shrub. They stick this to his head, brow and scalp.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemies.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
The soldiers began to salute him in a raucous mockery of high office, hooting, “Hail, you King of the Jews!”
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? And if you salute your friends alone, what more are you doing than others? Even sinners do the same.
And they strike his head with a staff, pitiful sign for a scepter.
Judge not, and you will not be condemned.
And they turn and spit on Him.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
And when they grew weary of the game, they strip him of the purple robe (a mantle belonging to some nameless Roman soldier) and put his own clothes back on Him.
Blessed are you when men hate you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you…
And so those who led him into the palace now lead him out again to crucify him.

We serve an awesome God. Jesus asks us to serve one another only after He lowered himself and washed the feet of 12 men. Jesus asks us to take up our cross and follow Him only because He was willing to take up His and pursue us. We serve an awesome God because He served us first.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Mother's Love

The cry of the newborn baby woke her in the night. “Not again”, she said, as the task of motherhood took it’s toll. She stumbled across the dark room and lifted her son from his crib. The touch of his mother’s hand brought comfort as she sat in her chair for another late night feeding. She sighed as she thought of the work that waited for her in the morning, but as she looked down at the sparkle in her baby’s eyes, the sleep in her own began to disappear. Oh what wonders waited for him she thought. The joys of life to experience, for him and for her. She felt a tear well in her eye as she thought about the first time he would call her Mama and chuckled as she pictured him clumsily taking his first step. It wouldn’t be long until he would be standing in the window waiting for father to come home and bounce him on his knee. Then will come school she thought, feeling proud. Yes, he would be smart, she felt sure of that. She would be there to help him in any way. She thought about how his features would change as he grew. He will always be beautiful to me, she thought. She thought about how tall and proud he would stand as he left for his first day of work. Maybe he would work for his father and maybe not. Whatever he chose, he will have been brought up to take pride in it and to do his best. And then one day he will leave. It will be sad but she will be strong, knowing that she has prepared him for life. He will be a man. He will be a good man, always doing his best to help others. He will be loved by all and she will be proud to say, “This is my son.”
Suddenly, the sounds of an angry crowd woke her from her thoughts. Looking to her lap, she saw that her baby was asleep. A tear fell as she reached down and gently took hold of his bleeding, nail scarred hand. She pulled him in close and kissed her baby goodnight.


Happy Mother's Day

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Twilight

Dream, dream, dream a dream till twilight comes
Remember it well Dear One and then go and tell,
tell all, tell of the dream you remember so well
The dream you dreamed before twilight came
and encourage them Dear One to dream a dream
before twilight comes
Written by my 9 year old daughter, Emily, for her 3rd grade teacher. I wish I could write this well.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

RSVP-My Communion Prayer

You invited me to sit at your table. You wanted to share a meal with me but I think you wanted to share so much more. You said you would be betrayed, but it wouldn't just be Judas at the table who would betray you. I have sold you for much less than thirty pieces of silver. You said you would be left behind out of fear and shame. I thought I was stronger but nobody ran faster than me from the garden. And when I looked across that courtyard and my eyes met yours, deep in my disgrace I knew just how weak I was. What I don't understand is that you already knew all this but you still invited me to your table. Why? After all I've done and have not done, why at the foot of the cross where you hung dying, why did I hear you whisper my name? You are everything that is good, I am not and yet you call me brother. So here I sit at your table, I have tasted your bread and I have filled myself on your cup. I hunger and thirst no longer. Thank you for inviting me to your table, I look forward to feasting with you again.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I Believe, Help My Unbelief

When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
"What are you arguing with them about?", he asked. A man in the crowd answered,
"Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.
"O' unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me." So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boys father, "How long has he been like this?"
"From childhood," he answered. "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
"If you can?", said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." Immediately the boys father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again."
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
(Mark 9:14-27)

It's a story of a father and his son. Neither are named, but I know the father, he lives in my skin.

There are two things I love about this story, both bring encouragement and hope.

One is that God hears my prayers even when my faith is shaky and my doubts are firm. He always stands ready to lift me up, even when I have thrown myself to the ground. The second is that God listens and acts on the prayers I offer on behalf of those who cannot or choose not to voice them on their own.

So to sum it up, I don't have to know God in fullness for Him to hear my prayers and act in my life and those I'm concerned about don't have to know Him at all for Him to be willing to impact their life. So bring your doubts, bring your fears and bring your friends who are confined to a mat. Bring them all before the Lord our God who is faithful to all in need.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Barn Box


I had an experience yesterday, one that I have had many times before. My family is currently going through what I will just call a stressful situation. On my way home yesterday, I had a vision that always seems to pop into my mind when I'm dealing with something emotional. It's me sitting in the middle of my church. I'm not talking about during a Sunday morning service, but an empty church with me sitting by myself, not saying anything, not doing anything, just sitting in silence. Something about this vision brings me such comfort, a feeling that if I were there right at that moment, I would feel nothing but peace. Now, I know that being at the church building doesn't bring me any closer to God than I am when sitting in my car or at my house or anywhere for that matter. I know that God's fullness is with me everywhere and that the church is just a building where the real church meets. Gary, our minister often refers to our building as "just a box". I think that fits. It's a box of memories. That same box of old photos we all have in a closet somewhere that we pull out, ruffle through, pick one out and say, "Remember when...".

You see, that's the way our church is. It's not the "Sunday morning put your time in" kind of place. Life happens there. You can find a piece of history in every corner. I walk in the kitchen downstairs and remember my first visit to Oakhaven with my brother after working with him at the University. That same kitchen has been renamed "Jimmy's Junction", after a great man whom God took home a few years back. We talk about the great ribs he used to make for our annual corn roast, but he's remembered for so much more than that. Then we have "Truit tower", the silo that has been renovated into a prayer room and named after one of the founders of the church. It's probably my favorite place in the building to just sit and meditate.

If you put your ear to the wall in the auditorium, you can still hear the distant echoes of past songs sung in praise to our Father. If you reach down and touch the carpet, you can still feel the tears that have been shed in times of prayer.

I have known God all my life, but this box is where I let Him wrap his arms around me. My wife and I were baptized in that box, we were married there and our children were baptized there as well as my mother and father-in-law. I have had the privilege of praying for others there and have been humbled by others who have prayed for me.

Oakhaven Church is a pretty unique building, but the concept of what takes place inside isn't. I think it's what God desires in each of us as His church. As I picture myself sitting there alone in the church, I guess that why it gives such peace is because I have seen so much of God's handy work there. I've heard the stories of lives changed, seen the joy of answered prayers, felt the comfort of friends in times of need. It reassures me that we have a God who is bigger than us but loves us and chooses to walk with us and work through us to help each other.

I pray that you have a church like my church and if you ever find yourself in Oshkosh Wisconsin on a Sunday morning or a Wednesday evening, stop in, I'd love to meet you.



Dedicated to Gary Cleveland. My brother in Christ. Once again, I thank you for allowing God to use you as He has.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Based On A True Story Inspired By Actual Events

My family and I went to see the movie "Eight Below" this weekend. It was a great movie and I highly recommend it. The opening of the movie had a line that just got me thinking. "Inspired by a true story". It made me think about how many times I've seen that before a movie or something similar such as, "Based on a true story" or "Based on actual events". I find it somewhat ironic that we have these true events that need a little embellishing to make them entertaining. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there is anything wrong with that. Who knows, I may not have enjoyed "Eight Below" as much if they told the story exactly as it actually played out. But what is it about truth that it sometimes just isn't enough? Are we surrounded by so much stimuli that truth just comes across as too boring? Maybe I see truth as too "possible" and that just doesn't grab me. I don't know what it is. I've also been reading a series of fictional books that have really sucked me in and I find myself having the same problem there. Everyday, I can't wait to get some quiet time to read. When the time finally comes, I reach into the basket beside my chair and grab my fictional book....sitting right next to my Bible.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Change

O.K., here's the scenario. In the restroom where I work, there is a paper towel dispenser on the wall just to the left of the sink. About three weeks ago, the dispenser was removed, for what reason, I don't know. They didn't feel the need to inform me. But anyway, imagine my surprise the first time I washed my hands, I turned to the left as usual to dry them and "Bam", no paper towels. I stood there confused, not knowing what to do. This is not the way things are supposed to be. I wash my hands and the paper towels are supposed to be right there! After I calmed down a bit, I took action. I looked around and found that the roll of towels had been placed on a shelf on the back wall of the restroom. I dried my hands and wondered, what could have happened to the dispenser? "Well", I thought, "hopefully they will get this fixed soon. This is very inconvenient." I mean, the roll is now like 5 feet from the sink! That makes no sense!

As days went by with no new paper towel holder, one thing amazed me. I knew the holder wasn't there. I would even walk in and see the empty spot on the wall. But each time when I finished washing my hands, I would immediately turn to my left and reach for a towel. I don't know what irritated me more, that there were no towels where they were supposed to be or that I continued to reach for towels that I knew weren't there. Habits can be hard to break. Change is tough!

I decided then that this was just silly. I mean, here I am getting distressed over something so small as paper towels being moved. There are much bigger issues to worry about. So I decided that I would not let these petty things get to me. From that day forward, I was going to be a changed man, no more complaining. When change comes my way, I'm just gonna embrace it and roll! Mister easy going, take life as it comes. Yeah, that's me.

Well, yesterday they installed the new paper towel dispenser in the restroom. So now things are back to normal, except the lever on this new dispenser is alot harder to pull than the old one was............

As we journey through life, I think it's important to take some time every once in a while to laugh at yourself.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

In His Image

I just read an article about a study showing that babies are altruistic ( I have to admit, I didn't know what the word meant until I read the article).   It was pretty interesting so I have copied some of the high points:

Oops, the scientist dropped his clothespin.   Not to worry — a wobbly toddler raced to help, eagerly handing it back.   The simple experiment shows the capacity for altruism emerges as early as 18 months of age.

Toddlers' endearing desire to help out actually signals fairly sophisticated brain development, and is a trait of interest to anthropologists trying to tease out the evolutionary roots of altruism and cooperation.

Psychology researcher Felix Warneken performed a series of ordinary tasks in front of toddlers, such as hanging towels with clothespins or stacking books.  Sometimes he "struggled" with the tasks; sometimes he deliberately messed up.

Over and over, whether Warneken dropped clothespins or knocked over his books, each of 24 toddlers offered help within seconds — but only if he appeared to need it.  Video shows how one overall-clad baby glanced between Warneken's face and the dropped clothespin before quickly crawling over, grabbing the object, pushing up to his feet and eagerly handing back the pin.

Warneken never asked for the help and didn't even say "thank you," so as not to taint the research by training youngsters to expect praise if they helped.  After all, altruism means helping with no expectation of anything in return.
And — this is key — the toddlers didn't bother to offer help when he deliberately pulled a book off the stack or threw a pin to the floor, Warneken, of Germany's Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, reports Thursday in the journal Science.


This really shouldn't surprise me.  After all, we are "Created in His Image" (Genesis 1:26).

And Jesus called a little child and had him stand among them.  And He said:  "I tell you the truth, Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 18:3-4)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Thank you Father

I have a bad job. Well, the work I do is not that bad but the company I work for often leaves me drained and depressed. Don't get me wrong, I'm not looking to be coddled at work, but it would be nice to be appreciated and treated with some amount of dignity from time to time. You'll just have to take my word for it that it isn't the greatest place to work, but being an uneducated man, my choices these days are few. As a Christian, it is a struggle for me as to how to deal with this situation. I find it so easy when mistreated to retaliate with poor work ethic. When pushed, you push back. After all, they are no better then I am, and I won't let them treat me like a dog. I'll show them. Not very Christ like is it? Now you see my dilemma. It also never accomplished anything, the more I push, the more they push, the more I push and so it goes. I came to the conclusion some time ago that God had put me in this situation to teach me humility. T he lesson I needed to learn was to always try to do the right thing in the face of adversity. To do my best at my job no matter how I was being treated. I needed to go home at night and be able to believe that no matter what the working conditions were at the plant, it wasn't my fault because I did what I was told and I did it to the best of my abilities. I believed that when I learned this lesson, that God would take me out of this situation and open up another opportunity in a more positive environment. One where I would be more free to do His work and life would be good. I have since learned the lesson of humility. Some days are still hard, some days I slip. But overall, I feel pretty good about who I am at work. God has given me some peace at work because I am also more aware of whose I am. I don't work hard for my company, I work hard for my God, because it's the right thing to do. It's what He would have me do. But a couple of weeks ago something new dawned on me. As I was thinking of all the things I would rather be doing with my life and all the work I would rather be doing for God,it hit me. Through all the complaining to God about how much I disliked my work situation, all the waiting for God to move me along to greener pastures and wondering about what I needed to do to get there...there was one thing I had never done. I had never once thanked God for my job. I never once thanked for the ability to provide my family with daily bread. I never thanked Him for the job that pays for our warm house, the cars we drive, the clothes on our backs. I'm sorry Father. I see now that you weren't just teaching me humility, you were teaching me to be grateful. Forgive me father, forgive me for being so ungrateful. Thank you for providing for myself and my family. I'm sorry I missed it for so long.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

How and Why?

We live in an amazing time. I have seen and understand things that my parents would never have dreamed of. I can even program a VCR (for you younger readers, VCR’s are what we had to play movies with before DVD players). Take genetics, I don’t know all the ins and outs of genetics, but I have somewhat of an idea how genetics work. I understand how it is possible that my daughter can have my eyes and my nose (sorry baby), and how we are made up of DNA and how it is passed from generation to generation. Again, I don’t know all the ins and outs, but I understand how it works. There’s no magic in it anymore, or is there? You see, that’s what happens to me when I take something that is a mystery and come to understand how it works. It starts out as something magical and unbelievable, but then when I find out how it works, the magic is gone and I puff myself up a little bit and marvel at my intellectual prowess. But is the magic really in HOW something works or is it more in WHY something works? My daughter and my son have some of my physical and emotional features. How that works is really cool, but WHY that works, that’s magical. That we have a God that wants part of my father and mother to live on in me and part of me to live on in my son and daughter, that’s awesome. We have a God of details. When my children’s children ask what I looked like, my daughter will be able to say, “Well, he had brown eyes like mine, and a nose like mine and hair like Uncle Patrick’s.” So, who cares how it all works. Why it all works, that’s what I really want to know. It’s because God loves us, and He loves to show us in the details. Let’s take a 2000 year step back and apply this to the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. Again, I don’t know all the ins and outs, but I understand how it works. I am a sinner, God and sin cannot dwell together. The bible says that the wages of sin is death.(Romans 6:23) There is a price we pay for our sinfulness, we have separated ourselves from God with no way of our own to get back. God chose to not live without us and found another to pay our debt of sin, His son. Jesus took our sin upon himself so we could be blameless before our Father. That’s how it works in a nutshell. But the mystery and the magic are in the WHY. Why would He do that for me? When I have freely chosen to become what he despises, He would choose to do this for me. And that is exactly what He did, He did it for me. God didn’t send Jesus to die for us. He sent Jesus to die for YOU. He didn’t say, “Well, individually they aren’t really worth it, but collectively maybe.” Jesus tells us how the shepherd will leave the flock to search for the one lost sheep (Luke 15:4) and that He is the good shepherd that lays his life down for His sheep.(John 10:11) The sacrifice of Jesus was personal to you and to me, God loves us that much. Why, not because of what I’ve done, that’s for sure. I don’t know why. The question was asked by David long before Jesus was even born, “what is man that you are mindful of him”.(Psalm 8:4) Today I ask the question, tomorrow my children will. God loves us is the only answer. In the end, the how is humbling but the why is amazing.