Thought For Today

I am so glad that you have found this site and I hope you will find encouragement and joy as you read through my thoughts on God, family and life.

Friday, December 8, 2017

When Heaven's Gate Seems to be Closed


Have you ever prayed for something and nothing seemed to happen? When this occurs, do you ever wonder if God is refusing to listen to your pleas?
I woke up this morning feeling that way about my prayers that I placed before God these last several weeks, and  nothing seemed to be happening. The thought went through my mind, "Could it be that heaven's doors do in fact close at times?"

As I sat in the darkness before the fire that I made, early this

morning, I prayed, "Lord, I believe, please help me with my unbelief!" I then recalled the story of a pleading father in the Bible who asked Jesus to heal his child by saying, "If you can, heal my child." Jesus responded by saying, "If I can? Anything is possible for those who believe!" The father's response, "I believe, please help my unbelief?" was exactly where I was at this morning.

Each day I read my devotions from the Bible in sequence, book by book, chapter by chapter. Today I did not want to open my Bible to read God's word. Call it being stubborn, call it a lack of faith, I just couldn't do it. Then I recalled from my past, "When it is the hardest time to open God's word, it is this time that I need to do it the most." So, I opened the scripture to the beginning of Matthew and read the account of Jesus' birth. In reading the passages of Joseph, I saw that he was going to divorce Mary in private, not wanting her to suffer humiliation by her relatives and community. Then I perceived as I read, Joseph must have been devastated, his dreams of marriage to Mary were dashed along with his planned future. His embarrassment he would have to face along with an empty uncertain future. This changed for him when an angel appeared in a dream and he was told that he must marry Mary and that God was going to change the world by Mary's unplanned birth. God had different plans than Joseph and God's plans were much greater than his.

A king was to be born, not in a palace, but a humble stable,
another event that Joseph had not planned nor accounted for. Next, his fleeing with Mary and the infant Jesus to Egypt was another event that he had not planned for or for that matter, one Joseph was not looking forward to.

After king Herod's death he was told he could return to Israel, but he could not go home, it was to be Nazareth instead of Bethlehem. This was not the town that Joseph had hoped to live in I am sure. In Joseph's day the term, "Nazarene" was virtually a synonym for "despised" as recorded in John 1:45-46. What went through my mind as I was reading these passages is what Joseph might have thought, "What is God thinking, for him to send us to this horrid place?"
Another plan that Joseph had not accounted for or even wanted. In pondering this further, it was a perfect place for Jesus, a place where no one wanted to be or exercise any treacherous and revengeful influence, such as "Archelaus" the son of Herod the dead king. In all this, God had a plan, it was not what Joseph had in mind I am sure, but Joseph was willing to listen and obey God. Through his obedience, Joseph exercised his faith.
After reading this I realized, "Can I do no less by waiting on God when there is silence from heaven's gate?" God was showing me that when reading this account of Joseph, that he is working even when it appears that nothing is happening, and my obedience is to wait on "His" plans to unfold. I am beginning to realize that God is not "Testing" my faith so much as he is causing it to increase. Without the opportunity in waiting and trusting in God's plan, faith cannot in fact grow. After my reluctance in reading the scripture this morning, I now see that Jesus was in fact answering my prayer, "Lord I believe, help my unbelief."



Monday, December 4, 2017

He Cares for Even the Little Things




In speaking with Anne before going to bed last night about the events of Abby's missing wallet, she mentioned a conversation she had with Abby when taking her to Target to meet with Abby's girlfriends. Abby, "Mom, if God can heal the sick and make the blind to see and the deaf to hear, he can find my wallet!" Sometimes God uses the faith of children to strengthen that of the adults around them. What a great reminder that God is bigger than our greatest problems, but he cares for even the smallest of details in our lives. Many times it is just the opposite for us adults, the more we become favored in the public's eye, sometimes we care less for the people around us and their concerns. But, God is never that way. 
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Lost Coins


God hears our prayers. Abby had been looking for her wallet this afternoon, but to no avail. She looked for a long time to her disappointment. I understood from Anne that she wanted to buy something at the store. Anne later had left Abby with her friends at Target with the message to Abby of possibly window shopping for now until we find her wallet. When getting home Anne began to cry when she told me, "Abby has worked so hard for her money that she saved up and this is so disappointing for her. I just didn't have the money on me to give her what she lost" After seeing Anne heart broke and Abby so disappointed, I was determined more than ever to find her wallet.
As I began to look for Abby's wallet we got a phone call that one of Abby's friends had left her purse on the back seat of our car, so I went down to drop it off. I had some money in my wallet so I gave it to Abby when dropping off her friend's purse. Later, when getting home, I searched the couch cushions, in between car seats, bedrooms and the like, but to no avail. Anne even called Abby's grandma and grandpa to see if Abby had left it in their van. Unfortunately, it was not there either. The money amount was not great, but to Abby it was the world to her. Abby worked many hours for that precious amount in her purse. Later, I found out from Anne that Abby was going to buy Christmas gifts for some of her friends with that money in her wallet. After hearing this I looked over at Anne on the couch and said, "Lets pray about this!" As I bowed my head to pray, I looked down and what was unbelievable appeared before my eyes on the couch cushion, her wallet. God is so good, he knows our needs and he cares for us so very much. 
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
(Matthew 18:10-14)
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around to listen to Jesus. So the Pharisees and scribes began to grumble: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Then Jesus told them this parable: “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, comes home, and calls together his friends and neighbors to tell them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ In the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who do not need to repent.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
Or what woman who has ten silver coins and loses one of them does not light a lamp, sweep her house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbors to say, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Abundant Life


Our encounters with life around us can be routine and unnoticed by even we ourselves. We walk to our car, head to work, walk from the parking lot to our place of work, leave at the end of the day, all without noticing life around us. We get so focused that we are oblivious to what surrounds our world. Our concentration is zeroed in on one or perhaps two things so much so that we miss out on real life. The smile of an elderly gentleman walking by, the laughter of a child when they see the curls of our hair blowing in the wind at the same time the sun glints in the child's eyes making pretty rainbows of light across his glass of water.
Each day goes into the next and we find emptiness in our lives because we fail to see the teaming life in our midst. I believe it was Isaac Asimov, a scientist (turned science fiction author) said that as he became more specialized in his profession as a scientist, the more he was removed from people. He eventually walked away from this world he created and became an explorer, one who sought to know the lives of people and things around him. He then incorporated their lives into his stories and the result was phenomenal.
Take time each day to discover what so many of us are overlooking, that of life around us. It can change how we see the world. Take a moment in the beginning of your day to ask God to help you see his beautiful world. Jesus said in John 10:10
I came that they (you) may have life and have it abundantly.

Friday, November 17, 2017

My Brother's Keeper


We struggle much of our lives to understand the many complexities of life and much of the time we are left wondering about them. Our routes that we choose are at best sometimes left wanting and we feel discouraged over the lack of choices presented to us, and sometimes when looking back we feel that we could have done better. 
In thinking back a few years ago we had two twin bucks that grew up around our home. We watched them grow and we felt privileged to be a part of their lives. Then one day as they came by our house we noticed that one of the bucks was blind in one eye. The brother with complete sight stayed close by to guide his injured sibling to the woods. He would stand and patiently wait for his partially blind brother to find his way to the path that his loving brother had chosen for him to go. We would watch in awe when this scenario would play out many times over. 
Just like the twin buck who watched out for his injured brother, Jesus too does that for us if we allow him to lead us. Psalm 23:1
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Luke 12:30
"For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.
Our paths may not always be easy, but we can have confidence that God has a plan for us and he cares for our welfare.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tenuous Life




I don't get back to my hometown of Jackson, Minnesota to often anymore. On one such visit several years ago I was visiting the cemetery with my brother. We were stopping to visit my dad's grave and as we were walking past the headstones, I noticed several people whom I knew had died. I was a little shocked by the discovery and without noticing it, I stopped by one such grave, a man that I used to know. Speaking out loud while lost in my thoughts I said, "I didn't know that he died!" I glanced up at my brother who was standing near me and I saw a quizzical look on his face. Since my brother lived in Jackson, he knew that this person had passed away and it was no mystery to him of this person's death. For me though, it was a mild shock to see this man's gravestone before me. I then looked toward Jackson and said in a mournful tone, "I know more people out here than I do in town." It made me realize more than ever of the tenuousness of life.
David says in Psalms 144:4 "Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow."
This verse spoke to me at that moment in time. I realized now more than ever what David was saying about our lives. When one is young, it seems like we will live forever and we are shocked when someone we know dies unexpectedly. We come to realize that life is fragile at best, and as we grow in years we hopefully see that each day becomes a gift and tomorrow cannot be promised to us. David came to realize this when he said the following in Psalms 139:16. "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." God knows then the exact number of days allotted for each of us, even before we were born. For some, it might be months in length, for others, years, but for us we do not know the number of our days, only God knows that. 

As I looked over at the stones, I wondered, "How many here died without knowing Jesus?" Salvation's hand is knocking at our doors, how many are and will be listening to the Master's voice calling to them?
“Behold! I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20. 
If you do not know Jesus, invite him into your heart today. None of us can guarantee tomorrow, eternity awaits your decision.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Giving Thanks

1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing, give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
I have found it very difficult at times to say to myself that it is God's will when a bad occurrence has just taken place.  
When thinking it through though, I've seen that it is not God who condone's that occurrence, it was done by our broken humanity. 
It is in relinquishing this occurrence into God's hands and giving thanks for hearing our prayers concerning this event.  As well, trusting that he will take care of what follows next, as if our requests were already answered by him.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Imagination

There is a hiking/bike trail right above this photo caption. It passes near Woodlawn Cemetery here in Winona. When our children were smaller, we would look for Leprechauns on the forest floor right here in this area. The wind would blow and leaves would move and Anne would excitedly say, "Look kids did you see the leaves moving, it was a leprechaun running by." Imagination would take over next and Will and/or Abby would swear that they saw the leprechaun running past. Because they saw so much in their mind's eyes as children, today they know in their hearts that the impossible is possible if one believes hard enough. There have been times that life has pulled me away from this vision and I have felt less so to believe, but now our children are the ones who cheer me on and encourage me to once again believe.
Rekindling imagination is what has brought so much innovation to our society as a whole. Risk taking, and venturing out into the unknown is what makes our lives exciting and worthwhile. If one could ask Edison, Einstein, or other explorers and innovators what made them excel, I believe their common theme would be, "Imagination!"

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Walls or Doors


This morning Anne and I were talking about several different topics. It made me think about specifics in my life. I realized that too many times I look for walls before doorways. In thinking further, I realized that every wall at some point has an entrance/exit. In pondering about a recent event that Anne and I had just talked about, I had to ask myself this same question, "Am I looking at the wall, or am I looking for the door?" God is our doorway, he gives us a way into or a way out, (when needed). And sometimes we don't even know whether we should be leaving or entering, or for that matter, just standing behind the safety of the wall, but he knows.  
Revelation 3:20. Here, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If someone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me.

Monday, August 14, 2017

God Hears Our Prayers


I was feeling a little down the other day. I cannot explain to you why, but I knew after what happened next that I realized God was hearing my prayers.
Whenever in the past when feeling down, I have thought of the time when I was out hunting southwest of Jackson, Mn. (my hometown). I was waiting for my brother to arrive when I found myself sitting by a snow covered stream near the Little Sioux River. The brook was entering the frozen river, but at the entrance there was a hole in the ice that bubbled water through to the surface. I listened to the water and I looked at the snow covered surroundings that seemed so surreal with its beauty. As I was taking in all that was happening, a mink came out of the water and walked around the opening, all the while playing around on the snow covered ice. As I watched this event taking place, I found myself in a very special place feeling very close to God at that point in time. The peace I had at that moment was greater than I had experienced ever before. For many years now I have often gone back to that time in my mind to find the peace that I had in those few precious moments. 



This morning I found myself helpless to control present
circumstances and I was wondering if God was hearing my words and my pleading heart. It was just then, a baby mink appeared on our sidewalk. It sat upright in front of Anne and myself and it seemed to be looking right into my eyes. I knew in my heart that God was speaking to me through this little animal and letting me know that all would be well. I then shared with Anne about what happened to me so many years before with a mink, and we both struggled to hold back our tears. God is so good and he is not far away. He hears our prayers and he cares for us so very much.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

God's Way


1 Corinthians 13:12. For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known. 
Sometimes God reminds us of his love through ways that are of his choosing. I was praying for Anne this morning and as I prayed for her, this song came to me, Blessed Assurance. I don't know why this song came to me, but I felt some purpose for it. I never sang or hummed it in my daily work, or found myself drawn to it ever. I later shared it with Anne and she then told me that her grandpa had this as his theme song for his Christian radio broadcast. I then realized that God was putting it on my heart not for me, but for Anne. We both wept in silent joy knowing that God does not forget us when our hearts are heavy and burdened with the world's problems and concerns. Praise his holy name!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Salad Bar

I painstakingly transplanted wildflowers and sunflowers that were growing wild. To no avail, I found that the deer like them too! They left all the wildflowers in the meadow and took the transplanted ones instead; go figure! Here are some wild daisies that I had nothing to do with. Next year, all the wild flowers will be moved towards our flower garden,
 gradually. Can't hurt I guess. I love the deer, but they now have eaten our flowers, the squirrels have consumed all of our plums, and peaches. Sometimes I think they love us too much. Another summer living on the edge of the wild.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Living In The Wild

Living in the Wild



During the past years we have tried to grow gardens, but to our dismay, the deer accepted them as a gift.  In other words, they ate most of the produce that we attempted to grow.  After trying several types and heights of fences, we did finally find success.  We discovered that if you build a fence high enough, it indeed will keep out the deer, but then, one has to consider the other creatures that desire to take their place.  

Later we found that Chipmunks were indeed eager to take over for the deer.  They dug up our garden seeds right after we planted the crop.  Inevitably, just like the deer, it was struggle to rid ourselves of their presence.   I found that trapping Chipmunks does not work, there are just too many of them; besides, a little later while at Disney World,  my little 3 year old boy informed Chip and Dale what I did to our fury friends in our garden. One only has to see the gasp of panic on Chip and Dale’s faces as they jump back in horror, I then felt very small indeed.  


Squirrels are another challenge that I have faced while trying to feed the birds in several locations around our house.  They tip feeders upside down, crash them to the ground and then eat the remains gleefully.  Meanwhile, I spend many hours trying to repair our feeders all the while birds are flying back and forth in front to the windows wondering what I did with their food source.  Guilt eventually overcomes me and I work into the night repairing another feeder.  I have tried greasing the chain with beeswax that holds up the feeders.  The squirrels come down the chain rather quickly, but then choose to leap 10 feet to the ground instead of climbing up a greasy chain.  After awhile, I see that they seem to enjoy the adventure of the greased chain.  Anne, (my wife) tries to hold back a smile as she walks by.  

Speaking of the squirrels, they also like to steal the orange slices that I put out for the orioles and finches.  They climb the Shepard hooks and hollow out the orange halves until nothing is left but the skin.  Wishing no harm to them, I searched my brain for a way to dissuade them from enjoying another animal’s food.  One day I thought, “How about putting a lemon out for them!”  I thought it rather cleaver, though Anne thought it rather strange and perhaps a little perplexing.  “I don’t think they will eat them anyway”, she said.  Anne was right, they didn’t even come close to the lemon halves.  At that point I was wondering if I was losing a battle of wits and I questioned myself if I indeed was the one with the larger brain.  
Then it came to me, how about putting the lemons inside the hull of the orange halves.  Perhaps it will fool them.  Later that afternoon, I was at the computer, when I looked out the window and low and behold, I watched a squirrel chewing away on the lemon.  It jumped back after several bites, all the while exposing it’s teeth involuntarily.  It appeared to have a smile that seemed rather Macabre.  It then frantically looked around and stopped under the hummingbird feeder.  Side note: (The squirrels in the past drank their sugar water as well, that is, until I hung the hummingbird feeder from the eve of the house). Meanwhile, the squirrel was frantic at this point in its quest for something to rid itself of this awful taste in its mouth.  I could see the gears turning in its brain, “I need that water right now!”  After several failed attempts at reaching the hummingbird feeder, it raced down the deck post to the water cask below.  Drinking rather liberally, it then looked back at me with a look that seemed to say, “We are not done yet!”  

One small step for . . . ugh, my chin!
Needless to say, I felt rather like a noble knight who just defended the weaker person from the bully in the village.  My idea though, had flaws in its development.  “How could I feed the songbirds if the squirrel did in fact return.  With downcast heart I woke up the next morning to discover the orange halves hollowed out once again and a mother oriole looking dismayed over the prospect of not being able to feed her babies.  In a last ditch attempt to outwit a formidable foe, I coated the shepherd hooks with vaseline.  Resigning myself once again to failure, I looked over and watched the downey woodpeckers sliding down the greased Shepard hooks all the while trying vainly to climb to the suet feeder.  I wonder if Einstein had these days?
Slip, slip, slip~. "This is embarrassing!"

Thursday, January 26, 2017

God's Unseen Hands


Yesterday Abby was disappointed that her Irish dance class was canceled due to bad weather.  I tried to comfort her as we were leaving the dance classroom, but I could tell that she was very disappointed.  As we drove down the 4 lane highway to pick up Anne at work, I noticed a man lying in the median, he was convulsing in the snow. 
Several people began standing around him seemly not sure what to do.  I pulled into the turn lane instinctively to help.  I then realized that traffic would want to use the left turn lane by the stop lights that I was in, so I told the kids that I would head over to the grocery store parking lot first before helping him.  They said in unison, "Don't dad, please help the man, we will be all right!"  I asked them if they were sure, and they both urgently said, " Please help him now, we will be all right." I got out and along with another man helped him into our car. 
By then an off duty emergency supervisor pulled up behind our car, the police blocked off the lane opposing us and we were soon surrounded by other emergency vehicles and EMTs.  Later, the gentleman was being helped into the ambulance when he asked for help to come over to me, I was in the opposite direction as the ambulance. "Thank you for helping me!"  I could only respond by saying, "God bless you!"  Later when talking to my children, I found out that Will had been telling the injured man in our car that he too has had seizures, he was attempting to calm him and make him feel safe.  Later, Abby looked at me when driving away and said, "Daddy I now know why my class was cancelled, God knew that we needed to help this man!"  I
had a very difficult time holding back the tears at that moment.  "You are right Abby, God knew this all along."  I am so blessed to have such a kind son and daughter. 

As we drove down the road I began telling them that they are putting jewels in their crowns in heaven by their kind acts here on earth.  They both told me that they didn’t need any riches, they were happy without any jewels.  I then shared what Jesus said in Mathew 25:

 . . . ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 

There was silence for sometime in the car.  I knew that they were thinking about what had just taken place and how God looks down on our kindness to others.  For myself, I have been blessed beyond measure with my kind children and how they are teaching me about God's love.