Wednesday’s Wisdom

“A good day deserves a grateful heart towards heaven. But wisdom rests in thanking the Lord for a bad day because it is in those times we learn the most.” Mike Johnson, Devotions 1.17.17


Not Good Enough?


Our home away from home for one week in January ’17.

I’m continuing a series of blogs on things I saw and learned during our vacation in January on a cruise ship.

One of the things we hope to enjoy when we go cruising is the on-board entertainment. The entertainment on the ship was very good, notably the dynamic and extremely talented young people who put on the Vegas style shows. But one thing stood out. The floor was packed but the balconies were vacant.

I was shocked.

One of the shows featured some magic tricks, very good ones in fact. In the midst of their fast-paced music and exquisite choreography, they did these slight-of-hand tricks there were quite impressive.

No one applauded.

They were the kind that you’ve seen on television several times. Apparently it was a “been there, done that” crowd. What a shame. They did it so well.

I hate to even think this way, but how could someone think they were not good enough?

This kinda makes me think about current trends in church. Church for baby boomers has been all about excellence and new stuff. Of course this leads to problems when everyone has seen it all before.

It is interesting the things we go through to present a 2,000 year old message. Perhaps this present generation of millennials, who no doubt have a liking for doing things well, but will reject all of it if it is not genuine.


Pastors across this country are struggling with getting younger people into the church without alienating the older folks. One of the things I did to move the churches I served forward was to introduce a band that played more progressive music. I used to say to those who didn’t like the new music, “Twenty years from now I’m going to hate the music but love what it does for our grandchildren.”

I think I’m getting closer to that twenty year mark…and that pains me. Am I not good enough?

My current job has forced me to take a “one beggar to another” approach in sharing the 2,000 year old message of the gospel of Jesus. I have no fog machines or special lighting, no band or coffee bar with a hipster pulling shots. It’s just me, the other person and the Holy Spirit.

The funny thing is, slowly but surely it’s working.

Pastor, be creative! YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH! Do whatever it takes to reach people in your community. Church attender; help your pastor try new “stuff,” even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. But may all of us remember that eternity is written on our hearts and those who would listen, and that’s more than good enough.

What kind of church would you attend? One that focuses on music, the hipster, the special lighting or story-telling preaching style? Is it one where there is excellence or authenticity? What about one where the focus is old school with a choir and all of the “normal” programs and style of a traditional church? Remember that being “traditional” has more to do with being within our culture and not one seen in the Bible. What attracts you? Friends? Life stories? Mission? Why?

Ecclesiastes 3:11


Son-Tan Anyone?

p1010530With my wife Tami on beach in Costa Maya, Mexico

Okay, I’ll admit it. My wife and I are cruise people. We enjoy cruising as our most desired form of vacationing. We enjoy relaxing, having new port experiences and meeting new people. When our kids were younger, we were pleased to be able to use these trips to give them experiences they would never forget. For example, on one cruise during their Middle and High School years, they were in five different countries in a week.

While we are cruise people, I’m not really a sun person. That’s right. We cruise during the winter months to be in a warmer place…which is easy to do when you live in North Dakota.

As a point of order here, I will have you know that we have more sunny days in North Dakota than much of the rest of the country. However, some of the sunniest days here on the plain also come with a minus 25 price tag.


So, while I enjoy the warmer weather, I’m not a lay-on-the-deck-sun-tan-guy. But our trip in January of this year I decided to spend more time with my wife by being out tanning with her. I donned the sun screen – EVERYWHERE. I even hit the growing bald spot on the back of my head (the visor is a “no fly zone” in sunny weather for me these days). I sat through two significant tanning sessions on deck of our cruise ship. The only parts that I enjoyed of those experiences were being in proximity of my amazing wife, and to return home looking “browner.”

After the second session I woke up the next morning with a rash in all the places I used sun screen. No joke. Apparently soaking up the vitamin D isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be…

I’ve been working on my walk with Jesus. I’ve been journaling a great deal, reading the Scripture, talking to Him a bunch AND working at listening to Him more than talking to Him. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been a pastor for decades and been raised in the church all of my life and have advanced ministry degrees. Those facts don’t make me immune for my need to build relationship. And yet it’s the same reason why I wanted to be near my wife – because she is awesome and means the world to me…

Jesus means the world to me. You know as I think about these facts, investing in the nearness of Sonshine in my life contributes more than vitamins. It is life itself.

Son-tan anyone?

What are the activities you participate in to build better relationships? If you are a Christ-follower, what do you do to build your relationship with Jesus? If you are not a Christ-follower, what intrigues you about reasons why I would want to pursue a better relationship with Jesus?

John 8:36