I had a "Giant Cavernous Aneurysm" behind my left eye. I went to Dallas for surgery and it was killed...however post op my eye is unresponsive. It is if I am looking out of a steamy shower door. Some days it is better than others. Please pray that my sight will be restored. God has been putting words on my heart that I feel I must put on paper. The following thoughts are those I feel that the Lord is speaking to me lately. Enjoy.

May 31, 2005

He Feels Your Pain

"The Word (Jesus) became human and lived here on earth among us.” John 1:14

The amazing thing about this verse to me is that God came “among us.” He took off his Heavenly robe and instead clothed Himself with the robe of humanness.

His first breath brought to his tiny nostrils the smell of straw and manure. He nursed blisters from a long day of carpentry. His finger throbbed from imbedded splinters. He became one of us. That’s amazing.

Is there any doubt that the God of the Universe could have arranged a birth more suitable for a king? With the snap of His fingers He could have freed up the Presidential Suite at the Bethlehem Hyatt. Do you doubt for a second that He could have landed a less strenuous job...other than manual labor? Jesus knew some pretty influential people. Surely the Lord Himself could have worked out a death less painful than a Roman execution. Was it really necessary for Him to endure the flogging, the thorns, the humiliation, and the nails? Yes…He lived among us and was one of us.

Our God became flesh. Isn’t it comforting to know that this was exactly how the plan was to be played out? Had God never become flesh, we would question whether He could really relate to our struggles. We might begin to wonder if He really knows what it’s like to deal with the death of a friend. We might speculate if our tears and hurts mean anything to Him….but not in this plan.

Our God came down off of His throne in Heaven and walked where we walk. He felt what we feel. He cried as we cry. He hurt as we hurt. He died a death that none of us will have to endure. Now for the rest of the story…Today he sits at the right hand of God, interceding on our behalf.

Right now, in the midst of your hurt, Jesus sits at God’s right hand bringing your hurt before the Creator. He remembers the tears that roll down your cheek and the depth of your pain. He walked among us, and now He sits in glory, pleading with His Father on our behalf.

Bring Him your hurts, your struggles, your shortcomings. He longs to bring healing because He knows how you feel.

May 29, 2005

For Liberty, For Freedom, For Grace

Everything good you enjoy was bought at a price.

If you want to hear a child-like definition of grace, go ask the people of Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Grenada, or Kosovo. These are people who were captives in their own land that have been set free. This is the definition of grace…discovering freedom at no cost to yourself.

On this Memorial Day, I want to remember those who have set the captives free. I want to honor every man and woman who serves with the sole purpose of liberating those who they will never meet.

These freedom fighters serve at the request of their Commander-in-Chief. You fight selflessly to bring freedom to those you serve. You daily put your life on the line for some who don’t yet appreciate what you offer. Those who do not understand have never tasted freedom…they simply don’t understand grace. Once they first experience it, they will never return.

To all of those who have given your lives for the sake of freedom…I stand and salute you. You and your band of brothers have died so that I might live. I acknowledge you today, but recognize that every day I breathe another breath of freedom, it is only done because you have served selflessly.

There was One who came before you. He is the greatest Liberator of all time. He too served at the request of His Commander-in-Chief. He too came to set the captives free. He too came to give freedom to those who were oppressed. He too meets resistance from some who reject the message that sounds too good to be true. He too died a selfless death so that others that He never met could live in freedom. He defined grace…you deliver its’ goodness.

You walk with good company, soldier. You serve under a noble banner. Your flag represents freedom and liberty to all of those who choose to accept it. I thank God for you. Your service today ensures safety for my boys tomorrow.

May God be with you. May His face shine upon you and give you peace. May His spirit be with you as you proclaim liberty to the captives and set liberty before those who are oppressed.

Your nation stands silently and salutes you this day.

Spikes for everyone

May 28, 2005

Our Saturday

Miracle of life...maybe a week old.

Hmmm...Why did we move to Colorado?

My Incredible Family

A Boy and His Dog

May 26, 2005

The Finger-Flipping Firemen

God loves the 2 firefighters who flipped me off today. Yep, in unison, they told me where to go. I really don’t want to go there…I choose Heaven instead…but they really wanted me to go…bad.

It was the oddest thing that has happened to me in recent history.

They were off duty and driving in front of me at about 5 miles per hour. It became obvious that they were trying to provoke a response from whomever it was that followed them. We were in the right lane and stopped at a red light. They sat motionless (snickering) for about 5 minutes at a red light in the right hand lane without turning right on red. The row of 10 cars behind us began honking. In concert, they extended their middle fingers and began laughing. I was shocked…not because I’m a prude and have never been flipped off, but the fact that they were uniformed firefighters acting like junior high kids.

After September 11th, the world’s view of firefighters was elevated to new levels...and rightfully so. The respect that I have for those guys is amazing...hence the reason for the disappointment. I happened to locate the two guys at the bottom of the barrel of their respected profession.

I started thinking about those who choose to follow Christ. We are uniformed Christ followers. When we step out and let those around us know who we choose to follow, we clothe ourselves with a stereotype…right or wrong. I recognize the unrealistic expectations that are put upon Christians to lead a blameless life. That’s a different argument for a different day.

As followers of Christ, we should be expected to live in a glass house. People are expecting you to be different. Although it is impossible to live a perfect life, those who look into our glass houses are often hurt and offended when they see sin in our lives.

What must it be like for those who choose not to follow Him, to see us doing things and saying things that contradict who we are?

I’m specifically looking at this from the angle of the non believer. This incident made me contemplate the way Non-Christ Followers (NCF’s) perceive Christians. As Christians, the concept of grace takes care of our shortcomings. We understand this concept, and are able to forgive ourselves. But to NCF’s, this concept is not fully understood, if at all. Without seeing the whole picture, I would feel the same sentiment of hypocrisy that the NCF feels.

This used to be a pet peeve of mine. I would sense unjust hostility when I screwed up, and it would tick me off. I have since come to a point of grace and understanding for those who don’t view the world through the same lenses as I do. Instead, I am committed to trying to see the world as the NCF views the world. Somehow, I think this is how Jesus saw unbelievers.

Sometimes I believe that in our zeal for following Christ, we leave those who haven’t found Him yet in the dust. Let us never forget our job description. One of the last things were instructed to do by Jesus was to not forget those who have not found Him yet.

Lord, help me to be good child. Help me to see those as You see them...not as I think they should be. Protect me from haughtiness. Help me to never take lightly your final words. I count it a privilege to wear this uniform, Lord. Help me to understand how to better communicate with those who have not found You yet…even wayward finger-flipping firemen.

May 25, 2005

Pass The Salt, Please

Thank God that He did not call us to be pepper and darkness to the world. He instead calls us to be “salt and light” to humankind. I love this metaphoric language because Jesus uses words that we can understand.

Taken individually, these words are intriguing.

What is the purpose of salt? Salt is used as an enhancer. When used in moderation, salt adds flavor and makes that upon which it is sprinkled more appetizing.

Too little salt doesn’t improve the flavor, it just enhances the blandness. Since we are called to be ‘salt’ to those who don’t follow Christ, I think this is a fitting metaphor. If those who follow Christ use themselves sparingly for the Kingdom, little is enhanced. The ‘salt’ is ineffective in its use.

Too much salt on the other hand, is unhealthy, unpalatable, can cause disease and defeats its purpose. The most ineffective way to reach those who don’t believe in Christ is to pour on your salt so heavy that you become fruitless. I have spent time with those who exude salt from every pore, and it nauseated me …and I’m a believer. I can visualize an unbeliever resembling Scooby Doo running in place attempting to escape as fast as he can.

When perfectly seasoned, we achieve God’s purpose for which we have been called.

Light. The very mention of the word is soothing. Its opposite is darkness. I again call to your attention the email “Anonymous” sent to me;

Friend, the universe is a cold, nasty chaos. God neither gives nor takes away. What you are going through is random and cruel. The strength you are finding to bear it is YOURS. YOU are your own power. I'd like to see you give yourself some credit. Good luck.

You’ve just read the definition of darkness.

If the light that shines from within you is too dim, it is worthless. Imagine being the captain of a ship on a dark and stormy night at sea. Up ahead you see a lighthouse leading you to safety. If the light coming from within the lighthouse is too dim, it is of no use. The ship you are trying to save just crashed into the rocky shoreline.

Now imagine that the lighthouse has the correct light, but is being used improperly. This too could lead to disaster. Instead of the light circling, giving you proper coordinates, the lighthouse keeper directs the bright light straight at the ship. You would be blinded and unable to navigate your ship away from the shoreline, again resulting in an unfortunate encounter with the rocky shoreline.

When we become an appropriate light used in an appropriate manner, ‘Anonymous’ will be drawn to us.

To those who believe the universe is “cold, nasty and chaotic,” I say they have not been exposed to those with an attractive quotient of salt and light. Be well balanced. I believe Jesus chose His words carefully…we should take these metaphors seriously. Our task as Christ followers is to be evenhanded and reasonable to those around us…making the decision to give their life to Him alluring.

May 23, 2005

Die To Live

So, have you died yet? I’m not talking about a death that brings death…I’m talking about a death that brings life. A death that brings happiness, not sorrow. A death that brings joy not tears. A death that brings certainty, not doubt.

“We were buried with Him (Christ)…that just as Christ was raised from the dead…even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4

This scripture describes our passing away. This death describes our life after death. In order to live, truly live, you must first die to yourself. You must be willing to say goodbye to your old self and put on your new self. So, what does this look like in a practical sense?

Your desire for self-reliance goes extinct. You refuse to blame every bad circumstance on God, but instead believe that He is the Sovereign Lord and will give you the strength to bring you through. You move out of the driver’s seat and allow the Lord to take the wheel. You officially proclaim that you are your Father’s child, and it no longer matters who knows. You become clothed with Christ…or in other words, when people see you, they see Christ living in you. This is only a small hint of the turn your life will take when you decide to breathe your last.

Understand that you and you alone decide when this day comes. No one can make this decision for you…even your Creator. He gives you the free will to choose the date of your demise.

I remember a forgettable time in my life when my father sort of embarrassed me. I can think of times in 8th grade when he would yell at athletic events louder than any other parent. He had this patented “Whooohaa” yell that echoed for what seemed like miles. I soon fell in love with my father’s “Whooohaa’s” and would give anything to hear one more. I can’t. Perhaps when I enter Heaven I’ll be greeted with a giant “Whooohaa.”

Early in my working career, I had multiple opportunities to brag on my Heavenly Dad, and I chose not to. I was hesitant to be labeled as a “freak” or a “bible thumper.” I didn’t want to deal with the ridicule or the possible judgment, so it was just easier to stay silent. God longs for the day when we tell Him we are ready to die and let the world know that we are His children.

Have you really come to you last days? Perhaps you have envisioned this day in your mind, but the reality is that you have never lived it out. Can you honestly look back at your life and point to your farewell party? Was there a time when you can truthfully say your time was up? If not, then you have not celebrated your going away celebration.

It’s time. Your Dad cheers loudly for you. He’s your number one fan. Find that last piece of pride that prevents you from dying, and bury it. Embrace the cemetery…your faith journey awaits.

May 22, 2005

Abe, Noah, Moses and You

Rise and shine. You’ve just opened your eyes to a new day. Before your feet ever hit the floor, you’re making your first decision. Whose plan are you following this day…God's plan or yours? Will you be faithful or faithless? Do you cling to the predictable and familiar, doubting that God can lead you, or are you courageous enough to ask God to order your steps— and follow?

The Creator often calls his followers on a journey that takes them beyond the limits of their sight.

Perhaps God is asking you to do something, but you're too afraid to do it. Maybe you feel you lack the talent, time or finances. Maybe you think someone else can do it better. Perhaps this calling will require a leap of faith.

Following God by faith is one of the most challenging things we can do. We're trusting in a Being we cannot physically see to lead us down an anonymous path. Faith requires trust. Conviction and confidence chase trust. Obedience follows.

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1-2

• God asked a 600 year old man to build a boat 1 ½ football fields long. In faith, Noah built this monstrosity because God asked him to do so. Because of his obedience, his family was saved…and roaches, snakes, mosquitoes and cats.

• God called Abraham to leave his home and everything familiar to him. He obeyed even though he had no earthly idea where he was heading. Because of his blind faith, God says that we continue to be recipients of blessing…even to this day.

• God told Abraham that he would have a child….around his 100th birthday. Great, they could share diapers and save money. As crazy as this sounds, he trusted his God…and had a child just as God promised.

• Moses gave plenty of excuses at first why he wasn’t the right man for the job. Even so, he followed God’s call and led nearly a million people out of slavery. God divided a sea 9,500 feet deep to allow Moses and his friends to pass through on dry land, swallowing up their pursuers behind them. Along the way through the desert, God rained bread from Heaven for food.

• A group of men were asked to leave their livelihoods, pack up and follow a man they did not know. A 3 year whirlwind followed. Their lives were forever changed because they believed enough to leave.

What is your faith quotient? Are you willing to follow your God simply because He asks you to? Do you have the faith to believe that He is who He says He is?

Chances are good that our God will not ask you to build an ark, blindly leave your familiar world, give birth to a baby at 100 years old, or lead millions through a desert. However, He may ask you to trust Him for that decision on the new job, house or relocation. He may ask you to trust Him with your finances. He may ask you to be a light in a dark world. Are you willing to give it over to God? You will be richly blessed for your faith.

May 21, 2005

I love my boys!

May 19, 2005

Hearing His Voice

I just left the land of Camcorderville. One of the greatest memories I have with my kids is school programs…a place where the kids are more interested in their parents than the program itself.

We just got back from Grace Best Elementary school in Monument, Colorado. My 6 year old, Gabe, was displaying his vocal talents and over-dramatic hand motions at a production entitled “Transportation.” It was all things trains, planes and automobiles. We’ve been practicing for weeks.

All of the parents had jockeyed for position to get the ideal seat for videotaping their little ones. I got there early so I could be on the front row; as to avoid videotaping bald spots and bouffant’s in front of me. As parents scurry for position there is a phenomenon similar to getting on an airplane where your goal is to claim the center armrest. I had my ‘armrest,’ but then the guy comes in late and squeezes in for the best seat in the house. Being the man of integrity that I am, I succumb…I digress.

As Gabe entered the gym in his little conductor hat, he immediately began scanning the audience. We began waving along with the other 1,000 people in the small, hot gymnasium. With each passing second his eyes got bigger and bigger trying to locate us. Our waves got more and more dramatic, but you could see the onset of a certain amount of fear and panic. He was thinking that maybe we didn’t make it.

The decibels in that small space were reaching high levels. We were all the way across the gym. However, I thought that maybe if I called him by name somehow he could hear me over the pandemonium. In a normal voice I called his name, “Gabe.” Immediately he located us. It was instantaneous. I was amazed. Through all of the confusion my son was able to discern my voice.

His countenance changed. His face lit up with a smile a mile wide, followed by an over-excited wave. All he needed was to hear his dad’s voice. In an instant, everything was alright. In no time, he was singing their remake of “The wheels on the bus go round and round.”

There have been times when this perfectly describes my life. I find myself on cruise control spiritually, and slowly I remove myself from quality time with my Father. How quickly things can spiral out of control. We start early and go late. It seems impossible to fit one more thing in to our schedule. I find myself for days at a time neglecting worship with God…one on one communion.

I wear my little conductor hat, and frantically walk through life missing my Dad. He tries to get my attention, but I am so distracted by the chaos and bedlam that competes for my attention that His attempts go unseen. The clutter of life and self-sufficiency prohibit me from seeing my Father.

And then it happens. In a gentle voice He calls me by name. Although I have never heard the audible voice of God, my spirit hears. Those are special times. With intention, I can find myself hand in hand with the Lord. As I find my way back, the feeling is such that I tell myself that it won’t happen again. And then I live the cycle again…and again.

Can you see yourself in your little conductor hat? Where are you in that crowded gymnasium? Are you aware that He is looking for you, but wondering where He is? Are you locked into His voice, and relaxed knowing that He delights in engaging in your life? Or, are you absolutely oblivious that you have a Father who is trying to get your attention? Do you even know that you have an Eternal Being who paces the porch of Heaven waiting for you to find Him? Where are you on the continuum?
Live to hear His voice. If your self-reliance has reached its limit, listen. His call is inviting and warm. He longs to spend time with you. Listen closely…that small voice is the mighty voice of God.

May 18, 2005

A Lifestyle Of Worship

What is worship? I have heard this question asked a thousand times with a thousand different answers.

I have learned so much more about worship as I have become more mature…or at least gotten older. Perhaps all of the follicles on my head were impeding my ability to fully grasp the concept of worship. I suppose I have exchanged my boyish head of hair for the wisdom of worship. I’ll take the revelation anytime.

My time of worship growing up was reserved for 3 times a week…10 am Sunday mornings, 6 pm Sunday nights and 7 pm Wednesday nights. I officially ‘worshipped’ when my derriere hit the pew …not a second before and not a second thereafter. I thank God for opening my heart to new forms of worship.

Worship can be encapsulated in many ways. You worship when you love your bride as Christ loved His. Worship is reacting to your children with patience and respect, when you normally would have done the opposite. Worship is making the right decision when you previously would have chosen the wrong path. Worship trusts the Giver of all things with your finances. Worship is dedicating your house as a house of prayer. Worship is repeatedly thanking your Savior for taking the nails that were meant for your hands. Worship is standing in awe of a sunrise and giving the credit to the One who painted it just for you.

What do you do that honors the Lord? Whatever you just answered defines worship. The more you think of ways to worship the King, the more you honor Him…the more your mind is consumed by things that truly matter. Worship is giving the Lord continuous nuggets of praise. Worship is thanking God for something as small as a beautiful butterfly landing near you, and being aware that your Dad thought you might appreciate its’ beauty. Worship is getting the news that it’s cancer, and choosing to believe your Father hasn’t forsaken you, but instead He has drawn closer than He has ever been.

Worship is giving back to God the best that He has given you. Examine your life and its blessings. Identify the best blessings in your life. Worship is identifying these and returning them as offerings to the Lord. Or in other words, return these as love gifts back to God.

Creatively explore new ways to worship. Your Father smiles when you think of Him. He delights that His children adore Him for what He does and for who He is.

May 17, 2005

Trust And Obey…For There’s No Better Way

“O.K…fall back…I’ve got you.” Those were the last words I heard from Luke Dow, before closing my eyes, stretching out my arms, and falling back in faith, thinking he’d be there to catch me, just as he promised. The next thing I remember was the sound of the back of my head hitting the concrete. I remember the laughter and the humiliation for trusting. Boy, did I feel like an idiot.

After that, I remember feeling the urgent desire to succeed at the game. I wanted to trust. I went home and asked my dad to stand behind me. It worked. Why did it work with my dad but not with Luke? I knew that my father wouldn’t drop me. He wouldn’t let me go. Dad, unlike my friends who giggled as I hit the ground, sought nothing but the best for his son.

The hardest part of that dumb game is trusting that the one behind you will catch you. Once you’ve mastered that mind game, the next hurdle is keeping your feet glued to the ground without taking the dreaded stutter step. Full trust requires you to not only blindly fall into the arms of the one behind you, but to also eliminate the stutter step. The stutter step equals self-reliance.

A couple of weeks ago my family had the opportunity to go to church and see some old friends. One of the highlights of the day was seeing an incredible man of God who has spoken a lot of truth into my life over the past couple of years. I will often get calls from him with the “word of the day,” and inevitably it is exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.

As I was leaving church he called my name. He said, “I’ve got a word for you before you leave.” I needed it. I was sore from a useless procedure, frustrated and coming to grips with the fact that my head would soon be cut open. I was wondering where God was at that moment in my life. Without a word, he takes his 3 year old boy and stands him on a counter about 4 feet off of the concrete floor. He steps away from the counter a few feet and stretches his arms towards his helpless child. The boy smiles and in faith jumps and finds himself safe in the arms of his dad.

Without speaking a word, this man of God said all that he needed to say. Why…because he knew what I needed to hear? No…because He knew what I needed to hear. God sensed the hurt of his child and was asking me to trust Him…to blindly fall back into the arms of a trusted Savior.

The challenge before you today is trusting that the One who knit you together in your mother’s womb, really loves you. He doesn’t just like you a lot…He is passionate about you. He is trustworthy and if anyone deserves your trust…He does.

Tomorrow, before you begin your day…stand with your feet together, close your eyes, stretch out your arms and fall back…without hesitation. Trust Him for your day and the challenges your day brings.

Luke the rock climber

May 16, 2005


Seeing God With “20/20” Vision

It’s not everyday you get the opportunity to have a conversation with Barbara Walters’ producer. The fact that it was about beginning a relationship with her Savior made it even more extraordinary. Today I did, and I feel like it was a gift from God.

Ted Haggard from New Life Church is my pastor. He’s fairly high profile because of his appointment as president of the National Association of Evangelicals or the NAE. He regularly meets with President Bush and other world leaders, including just last Friday, he flew in from Israel for a one on one conversation with Benjamin Netenyahu, Minister of Finance for Israel. These discussions were very important regarding Israel's understanding and relationship with evangelicals worldwide, and the NAE’s relationship with Jewish people and Israel.

Many people seek interviews for his opinions including this week alone; Tom Brokaw, Bill O’Reilly, Dateline NBC and Barbara Walters. Barbara’s producer and her camera crew were at New Life Church this morning following up on the interview filmed in New York on Friday.

Because I go to church with 10,000 of my closest friends, it’s imperative to find a meeting place after picking up our kids from children’s church. We chose to meet at “The Exalter” (an angel that is over 9 feet tall made of bronze with brawny arms and hands raised in praise with his eyes closed, head back, long hair flowing, and sword visible from his sheath behind his back.) If you ever see it, you will find tears forming in your eyes, thinking of the power of the angels fighting on our behalf. I prefer this mental image to the little cherubs with tiny wings fluttering. They don’t seem very powerful to fight on my behalf…I digress.

As I was standing there, the camera crew for Barbara Walters was filming “The Exalter.” I was standing next to the producer from the show. She looked over at me and I noticed a look in her eyes that was telling…almost as if she couldn’t help but talk about what was on her heart.

She introduced herself as the producer for the show. We exchanged courtesies and small talk for about 15 seconds before she shared her heart. “Your church is absolutely amazing,” she said with a cautious enthusiasm. I immediately sensed in the Spirit that she was not a Christian. I asked if she went to church back in New York. A simple headshake ‘no.’ I asked her why not. Her answer came as if sitting in a confession booth, confessing to a priest.

“I am Jewish…I guess. My father was a devout Catholic growing up. I didn’t grow up knowing much about church or God. After doing this story and in particular, after attending service today, I’m starting to question what I believe or don’t believe,” she admitted. My heart jumped when I heard this innocence and searching. I said a micro prayer for the words to say.

“What I hear you saying is that you were raised and still live with religion and religious symbols. You were raised with a good idea of religion, but you don’t know yet about the concept of a relationship with your God or His son Jesus?” Tears began to form in her eyes. She said that was exactly how she was feeling. We then had several more minutes of conversation, ending with this.

I told her, “Your heart is feeling the way it feels because you have discovered the key that unlocks your heart…your soul. The key’s name is Jesus. The Key is the bridge between religion and relationship. That relationship with Jesus is what will change your life.” I wish I knew how to put into words what her eyes were telling me. It is if a light went off and she had discovered the secret keys to her heart. It was absolutely amazing. The camera crew had since walked off and had yelled her name about 5 times. She was oblivious to their calling.

I have never seen so many questions in someone’s eyes in my life. I told her I would be praying for her. I will. If you are led would you do the same? She has the ears of powerful people. Her life’s story could change many lives.

I thank God for those moments to share His goodness. I pray for more.

May 14, 2005

We're Having Fun at Garden of the God

Nate enters a narrow crevice at Garden of the God

Nate cruising through the narrow walls

It's getting tight...notice the mouth

Nate's head is officially stuck

May 12, 2005

America’s Family Doctor

I have the opportunity to work with the most passionate man I have ever met. I have simply never seen enthusiasm like this before. Each day I travel to Focus on the Family, arriving to work just down the hall from Dr. James Dobson. It’s not like we share a cubicle, but we aren’t far from one another. His office is the large one in the corner with its’ own bathroom, library, elevator and panoramic views of Pike’s Peak. Mine is the 8 x 8 cubicle, with a bathroom down the hall about a ¼ of a mile with a view of a window that I can vaguely see from my cube…but I digress.

In the short time I have been at Focus, I have come to see firsthand the drive and passion behind this 69 year old man of God. His hours are grueling, and his work is never finished. Most days he arrives first and leaves last. His commitment to the preservation of the family is amazing. There has never been a bigger advocate of the God-ordained institution of marriage like “doc.”

For nearly 30 years, Dr. Dobson has been in the forefront on issues like the sanctity of life, protecting the family and keeping God in America. His 27 best-sellers have touched millions. His career that spans 3 decades is extraordinary.

As impressive as his resume is, I was struck by his comments the other day. I had the opportunity to sit down with him for several hours and hear his heart. He said that God had truly blessed the ministry and He has done miraculous things. But, with every thing in his being, he believes that he was born for this point forward. Are you kidding me? At 69 years old, he feels like he is just getting started.

At the top of his list is “judicial tyranny.” Judges are ruling on things that were never provided for in the Constitution…things that typically affect the sanctity of human life, protection of marriage and government involvement in schools. This is his passion. You probably see him regularly on all of the talking head shows. This is his arena, and he is at home here.

The amazing thing about Doc is that even those who don’t agree with him still respect him. That is not necessarily true of the Pat Robertson’s and the Jerry Falwell’s. This is why so many shows love to have him on. He is truly esteemed by both sides.

Tomorrow I have another couple of hours with him. I thank God for what Dr. James Dobson is doing and the passion in which he does it.

Every time I’m with him, I learn more about leadership from him…things like humility, servant hood, fairness, Christ-likeness, and certainly passion. I thank God for the opportunity to grace the doors of Focus, and work with such an incredible man.

May 11, 2005

The Son of God with the son of Bart

The Two Trees

I can picture the soldiers at the lumber yard deciding on exactly which logs were suitable for the day’s executions. What was the perfect log to crucify their Savior on? Which piece of wood would best hold the One who held their salvation? As high profile as this ‘criminal’ was, I’m sure they took their time picking out the perfect pair.

Never in history has there been a time where two logs meant so much. Consider the magnitude of those heavy splintered logs. The crude construct held the One who held the weight of the world on His shoulders. Those two trees that formed the cross, held the One who brought glory to my soul.

Redemption. Salvation. Grace. Forgiveness. Eternal life. Freedom. This could possibly be the greatest lineup of words ever put together.

That one act of selfless love forever changed our relationship with our Creator. As the Son of God breathed His last, a supernatural exchange occurred between Heaven and earth. As followers of the One who had breathed His last, we went from law to grace…rule-keeping to sin-forgetting…powerless to empowered…shackles to freedom.

In an instant, everything changed. Our empty shells were invaded by a Helper. The Son of God told us that we would actually be better off when He took His last breath. The Holy Spirit was sent to empower us to do the right things and convict us when we mess up, while Christ sits at the right hand of His Father interceding on our behalf.

What an incredible plan that God thought up! It was a perfect plan…flawless.

To those who haven’t yet bought into the story of the two logs, I can only ask that you read those six words above. Which one of those words is offensive to you? What part of this story repels you? Is it absolutely too good to be true? Are you a firm believer in “there’s no free lunch?” Are you afraid that you will miss out on all of the fun? What is it?

I pray that you consider the two trees….not in the form of the religious symbol hanging around necks, but truly consider their purpose that day. They had a single purpose. They were planted, grown, harvested and nailed together in the form of a cross to hold your only Hope until His last breath.

My prayer for non-Christ followers is that you reach whatever depths are necessary to realize your nothingness without your Savior…the One who saves. The trees saw a grueling exchange that day. Your exchange is painless. I would encourage you to trade yourself in for a fresh new being.

May 10, 2005

Your Faith Treasure Awaits

"I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze, and cut through their iron bars. And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden wealth of secret places, in order that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name"
Isaiah 45:2-3

Read it again. The Creator of the heavens and the earth cares enough about me to walk before me…in front of me during life’s trials. He travels before me to make the jagged paths smooth. He shatters doors and cuts iron bars on my behalf. Or, in other words, He carefully and methodically makes a way for me.

Is there anything more comforting than this? Our God is not unprepared or caught off guard. He sees the hard times coming and negotiates a path for us to follow. We serve a God who never takes our hurts lightly. He walks before us…preparing the way to make it down the dark, scary road.

So, what’s the reward for chasing after your God during the dark times?

In response to our faith, He reveals treasures and hidden wealth not found without walking the dark road in faith. “Treasures and hidden wealth”…I wonder if He’s dialoguing of an intimacy, love and utter dependence that is absent in a vanilla, ho-hum faith walk. Following Christ without trials or dark roads produces little dependence and faith, but a life that submits to the God of the universe when enduring trials and uncertainty yields treasure and wealth. Yes! This is the answer for my life’s question.

The greatest part of this verse is the end. God makes it a point to let us know that He does all of this for one purpose…to know that it is He, The God of Israel calling us by name. By name. Your name. You are His child and He understands that this life will be difficult. But He wants you to know that when we visit dark places, it is His voice you hear…calling you closer. He cares for you individually…little ‘ole you. You are the apple of His eye, and He longs for you to know Him and be in intimate relationship with Him.

I feel like I’m Indiana Jones unlocking the secrets to the Temple of Doom. This truth of scripture has opened a new door for me. Although I’ve read this verse before, reading it with fresh circumstances brings new meaning.

What dark roads do you negotiate? Are you in a dark place in your marriage, family, vocation, finances or walk with your Savior? Isn’t it comforting knowing that your God goes before you, preparing the way for dependence and faith? Your Daddy cares so much about you that He has plowed the way before you. All you have to do is walk in faith, knowing that He has seen the unknowns that lie before you, and equipped you to deal with them. You’ll never walk through the dark alone. Believing this truth from scripture will change the way we traverse dark places.

Do you hear Him calling your name? Walk.

May 09, 2005

The little surgery that didn't help

It’s All Fun And Games…

It’s all fun and games until someone gets their head cut open. Sure, it’s easy to step out of the boat when stepping out of the boat means getting your groin messed with. But, let’s get serious for a minute. Stepping out of the boat when the prognosis is slicing through your scalp, taking a router to my skull and cutting a window to my brain is something completely different. All of a sudden the comfort of my boat seems appealing.

I wrestle, I trust…I wrestle, I trust. It’s been a constant seesaw of emotions the past couple of days. Through a myriad of emotions, I find the gravity falling from beneath my board until it hits rock bottom. This is where I begin to wrestle. “O.K. God, the gloves are off. How much is enough? I have not had relief from a headache since this procedure concluded on Friday…and only a handful of days in the past 3 months. What do you want from me? I want so badly to have faith. I want so badly to trust, but the road is getting long. Help me, Lord.” Almost instantly, I feel the fluctuation of the board begin to pull me up. The Spirit gently nudges me towards dependence.

“God, I really do trust you. Forgive me for wondering where you were. With this new level of dependence, comes a new level of intimacy. I can hardly wait to see where our relationship will take us next. Draw me even closer to your heart, Father. Help me to trust you, even when my finite mind says that you no longer make sense.”

Life is much more pleasurable at the top of the seesaw. I find myself with a reliance that says that without the Lord I simply can’t make it. He is my fuel…my all. He is the reason why I take my next breath. My Creator knows me and loves me through my hardest moments. Up here I can honestly say that even when He stops making sense, I yield to His sovereignty….His will.

My prayer tonight is that He continues to renew my strength…an unwavering faith in His goodness. I pray that His Spirit reveals fresh ways to worship Him. I pray that when I extend my hand, the God who walks on water reaches out his nail-scarred hands and pulls me to safety…allowing me to once again, in faith walk with Him.

In my heart I discern that He never leaves me or forsakes me. My heart never stops loving my God. My head is the one that wrestles with the apprehension, fear and trepidation. My head is the one that questions why He would allow me to go through so much pain and uncertainty. I hate my head sometimes. I love my heart most of the time.

I pray to live at the top of the fulcrum. Trust is found here. Hope is found here. An unabashed love affair with my Father is found up here. It’s a good place to live.

May 07, 2005

The Little Ferrari That Couldn’t

When asked if you wanted a Volkswagen or a Ferrari put in your head you’d choose the Ferrari…right? Me too. That was one of my consolation prizes to leaving the hospital on Thursday. Sure, I had to be stuck with needles and have all of my family and friends make fun of me in my gown, shoes and cap, but the fact that I was getting a Ferrari by waiting a day, made it all worth it. I would be only the 3rd person in the entire world with this new Ferrari stint put into their brain. I dreamed of it last night. I was ready. Vroom Vroom.

Friday morning felt like “Groundhog Day.” We did the exact same routine as the day before. Everything went great, all the way down to my final kiss to Suzi. They wheeled me down the hall and inserted some Versed into my I.V. Goodnight.

I woke up 4 hours later to a shaved groin (shaved by a gay man no less) and Dr. Replogle standing over me shaking his head. That’s never a good sign when your surgeon shakes his head over you as you come of out of your anesthetic coma. “It didn’t go well.” I remember my countenance falling. “Tell me,” I told him. “You’ve got a big honking aneurysm in there, bud.” So tell me something we didn’t know going in! “As we deployed the stint, it deployed proximal to our alignment. The stint anchored in one side of the vessel, but it failed to anchor in the other side. The other end is inside the aneurysm.”

I kid you not…the first image I could think of was one of those ‘grand opening’ guys on the side of the road that are anchored at their feet, with their arms and head waving freely. Side to side, up and down and back and forth. I giggled thinking about this being in my head. It must have been the anesthesia…because, quite honestly, not much else was funny about the situation.
A FAILED operation. I spent my entire adult life in the operating theatre. I, too have seen my share of failed operations, but that happens to the ‘other guy’…not me…but it was me. I thought, “I just went through a procedure in which there was a 20% chance something horrible could have gone wrong. I could have stroked out or bled to death right there on the table, and it would have been for naught. What if I woke up not knowing my wife or children‘s names?” I heard the Lord tell me that I didn’t. He protected me. His healing angels watched over me during the insertion of the motorless Ferrari.

I spent my day wrestling with the Lord. I, unlike Jacob, came away with a sore groin, not a dislocated hip. My groin will heal…unfortunately Jacob walked with a limp for the remainder of his life. I wrestled, not because I forgot the faithfulness of God, but instead, I wrestled because this body is tired. I so desperately want relief from these headaches…these cruel symptoms. I waited a long time for this procedure and for the relief that was to come with it. But God had a different plan for my healing.

I must have open brain surgery. Tears well up in my eyes as I type that sentence. Open brain surgery. Will you still love me with a scar on my head? It’s a tough procedure…perhaps the toughest. I suppose you could make a case that my time in the O.R. has done more harm than good when it comes to surgical procedures. I’ve seen them all over the past 13 years. My heart always hurts for the patients when I’m in a neuro surgical procedure. To expose the brain, the doctors have to pull out a saw that you’d swear was bought down at The Home Depot. Recovery is difficult and hard. I don’t want to go down this road…unless it’s with the Lord.

I can only assume that it is. As the Writer and Producer of this play, I hadn’t written this into the script. I couldn’t bring myself there. I was taking liberty with my writing of the scenes. The Lord wants me to go deeper. Today, I woke up submitting to that will. I’m scared, but submitting.

I don’t know you’re theological persuasion when it comes to prophecy. So, at the risk of alienating some readers I will tell you this. A dear friend was in a small group last week praying. During the prayer, a man interrupted and asked, “I feel like the Lord has a word for someone here with a friend with a giant aneurysm in his head.” My friend swallowed the lump in his throat and said it was for him. “The Lord wants you to tell your friend that his head will be opened, then closed and he is healed.” A later, more detailed description was of a glow or a light coming from inside of my head as the skull is removed. The word didn’t make any sense before. They weren’t “opening and closing my head.” I just thought perhaps the Lord used the wrong verbiage…as if He didn’t understand the term “stinting.” I believe now that the words spoken were for me….now. Thank you Lord for those words. They prepare me for what lies ahead in the next month.

So, today I giggle. I think about that party going on in my head. Just as my kids love to see the “crazy guys” on the side of the road, the platelets and gray matter must be having a great time watching their new friend waving forward and backwards, side to side and up and down. The Ferrari never served it’s purpose…but I’m still the 3rd person in the world to have one. It just sits up on blocks…never to race as it was designed. That’s alright. The Lord can fix this with or without the Ferrari.

I’m back. My faith walk continues. I feel the Master’s hand grasp mine and gently lead me down a more scary road than the one before. But, it’s o.k. It’s the Master who leads and I follow. The love I feel is real…not some conjured up religious speak to sound good. I feel my Father’s love and am drawn to it. Can someone tell me how those who don’t follow Christ make it? I don’t know. I continue to daily pray for Anonymous and those who do not trust their life to Him. I don’t judge them, but pray that they answer to cry of their heart…to find their way back to their Creator.

I love my walk…bumpy or not. With each step my love deepens for my Abba. I hold on tightly and allow Him to take me on this journey. He’s good and faithful. My Ferrari will never be used as it was intended, but as my Father intended. Perhaps my brain needed some comic relief and I needed something to set off the metal detectors in the airport.

May 05, 2005

The Day Surgery Stood Still

I feel like a million bucks! I got to the hospital by 9 a.m. and was released by 11 a.m. I have no pain in my groin and only minor discomfort where the I.V. was placed in my hand.

Perhaps in an unprecedented move, my procedure was cancelled after I had been admitted to the hospital. Can you believe it? Suzi and I got to Zale Lipshey this morning and proceeded as planned. I put on my sexy blue hospital gown, my little sheer bouffant cap and my sweet “no-skid” booties. My nurse, Kat came in, took my vitals and stuck me with and 18 gauge needle right there in the top of my hand. The I.V. was started and immediately began to feel liquid heat pouring into me veins. I could take it because I knew the feel good drugs were going to be delivered from this very port. My incredible wife was being so supportive as I soothed my mind to “Hillsongs- Blessed” CD on my walkman.

It was a great family time as well, as mom and my siblings were there. Friends had come from here and yon to lend support. I laid there thinking how blessed I was to enter a surgical procedure in this manner. I thought ‘this is almost too good to be true.’ And then, Dr. Replogle threw the curtain open into staging area #4.

“I’ve got bad news,” He said. “We’ve had a run of emergency patients in our ICU and we have no beds there for you. I refuse to do this procedure without continuous observation after such a delicate neurological case. And, I had hoped to use a newly approved stint on your case today. You are the 3rd person in the world to have this new technology, but the 2nd person, in the case just before you, used both stints. Because of the flexibility and ease of insertion, I’ve got to have this stint for your complex aneurysm.”

Silence. “Doc, as you know, I’m from Colorado. This is bad news. How soon can we reschedule?” He said that he didn’t know, but probably sometime next week. I immediately felt depressed. Are you kidding me? I fly my entire family down to Texas, people come in from all over the state to support me, people literally from around the world are praying at this very moment for me, I take the exact time off of work that I have allowed, and you’re going to reschedule me…for next week? I reminded him of the importance of timing, and he left the room to see what he could do. We prayed.

He returned within minutes, saying “the stars had aligned” and they could have a stint Fedexed in overnight and could do it on Friday. I again felt it necessary to talk to him about the concept of ‘the stars aligning.’ I’m not sure he was converted from astrology, but nonetheless he had the stint. He had the timeslot. I wasn’t complaining of his failed theology.

Immediately I felt a calm come over me that I can’t explain. I was completely alright with this new plan. Completely. No bitterness…no anger. I believed that this was happening for a reason, and that was good enough for me. The nurses were falling all over themselves, apologizing for the inconvenience, but I kept telling them that I was at complete peace with it. They didn’t believe me.

Now, the redoing of the I.V. kind of stinks, but other than that, I feel that this was just a trial run. Yeah…a trial run. You know, now I have the jitters taken away. I now know what to expect. I know exactly where to go when I get to the hospital. I know exactly how bad it hurts to get stuck with an 18 gauge needle. I know exactly how to tie the gown. I know exactly why I shouldn’t be nervous in the midst of this ordeal. I’m completely o.k with the fact that I may have been the only person in the world to be kicked out of a hospital, before I even had the chance to enter the operating room.

So, the faith walk continues. Please pray for me tomorrow at 10 a.m. central time. Please pray for a continued peace and understanding for a confusing situation. Please pray that I continue to thank God for the 90% chance of not having a stroke. Please pray that I continue to thank God for the 90% chance that they will not penetrate the walls of the carotid artery, causing a massive bleed. He has been extremely faithful…still. Yes, even in the midst of a confusing day, He has been faithful.

We left the hospital and took full advantage of Cinco de Mayo. We had a table for 15 or 20 set up over at Ojeda’s across the street to celebrate the historic day.

God is faithful…even in times that look confusing. I yield to His plan, not my own. I am simply a supporting role in this life’s play, and believe this day was written like this for a reason. I wake up tomorrow feeling a little like “Groundhog Day,” but with an anxious anticipation for what this day will bring.

Heart Surgery vs. Brain Surgery

Today I go to have my brain surgery. Many thoughts flood my mind at a time like this, but overwhelmingly, I feel at peace with what the day brings. This is not because I know the outcome, but because I know the Father. I understand that I am in extremely capable hands.
You see, my Heart Surgeon is way better than my brain surgeon. Throughout the past couple of months the Great Physician has been performing a heart transplant on this 36 year old body. This reality is what I’m armed with going into my brain surgery today.

Dr. Replogle is a fantastic surgeon and I realize that I’m in extremely capable earthly hands. That’s good enough for some people, but for me it brings little comfort without the bigger picture. Whether Dr. Replogle knows it or not, his hands are being guided by the Maker. God Himself holds the catheter in His hands and steadies it up through the arteries to my brain. God Himself deploys the stint. God Himself comforts me while I sleep.

I love the knowledge of my Lord being with me in a state unlike I have never been before. He is my provider, my strength and my source of life. He alone gives me my next breath…not a team of anesthesiologists. He alone heals my aneurysm, not a brain surgeon. He alone provides for me my ultimate care, not some team of well-trained nurses. I thank God for all of them, but I rely on Him for my life.

On second thought, I enter the day knowing the outcome, no matter the outcome. Because really, I would much rather have heart surgery any day of the week.

God bless you and your families.

May 03, 2005

Undercover Angels

Do you suppose that God assigns more angels to some people? I know it's one of those thoughts that God truly never thinks about. But, as a dad of a 4 year old who continues to defies the odds, but rarely gets hurt, it makes me wonder.

Luke is amazing. Before I start, all of my kids are amazing, but this post is specific to Luke. We arrived in Texas yesterday, and were picked up by Suzi's father. We drove to Suzi's house in Irving. The boys were enjoying their time with their Grandpa as they normally do. He was taking them around the back yard showing them his garden, and showing them the pecan trees planted by squirrels, etc. He is the prototypical "great" Grandpa. Any picture book that you read to your children, looks like Suzi's dad. He's great.

Anyway, I was sitting on the back porch reading the paper enjoying weather, that was something other than snow and sub-zero temperatures, when the soothing sounds of birds chirping was abruptly interrupted by a horrendous crashing of glass.

Luke had run from inside the house to the backyard straight through the sliding glass door. I was in shock as I looked up to see Luke, who had been knocked down by the crash, laying there as a 3 foot shard of glass was breaking loose, falling towards him. Keep in mind that this house is nearly 40 years old. The concept of a double paned glass hadn't been invented yet. This glass was 1/2 inch thick and extremely heavy. The large piece of glass seemed to come down in slow motion as it crashed around Luke but not on Luke.

Luke walked away unhurt. Unbelievable. The thought of what could have happened to him, was too overwhelming for me to even think about. Any one of those pieces of glass could have acted as a guillotine for my middle child.

I think God today for His undercover angels. I thank God for His covering of blessing on my 4 year old adventurer. I choose to believe that God was there reminding me of His goodness and mercy.

Lord, please help me never to come through a trial without remembering it is You who gives everything.

May 02, 2005

If Hell’s Like This, I’m Going To Heaven

One hour. That’s the length of time it took for 4 sandwiches to be made. After church this morning we went to a favorite establishment called Bear Rock Café. The ambiance is great with a toasty fireplace to sit around which came in handy because it snowed all day on May 1st. I did pretty well until somewhere around the 45 minute mark when I began the patented “Don Phillips thumb twiddle and pacing routine.” Long story short…they were shorthanded and no one had any idea how to make the signature Jerk Chicken sandwich, or any sandwich other than peanut, butter and jelly. They completely invented a new sandwich, but it took them an hour to do so. Oh, and by the way, after an hour, they forgot the bag of chips to go on the boys’ peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When asked, the guy threw them at me hitting me in the chest and falling to the ground. Jesus loves him, but I didn’t.

The family loaded up in the car and began our journey home. Nate decided that this would be a perfect time to poop in his pants. There was no good place to change him, so we kept driving (with the windows down and snow blowing in) toward home. The smell was overwhelming…apparently the P, B and J didn’t sit well with my little buddy.

We drove by Focus on the Family on the way home to see the circus. A gay rights organization called “Soul Force” was picketing the fact that we believe in family as defined by God. They were about 5,000 strong and extremely proud to be gay. On the other side of the street, and more distasteful were the good folks from “God Hates Fags.com.” Oh dear. This is the church from Kansas that displays the love of God by telling those who they oppose that “Fags rot in Hell.” I’m not sure if it was the smell of defecation within the Pampers, or the fact that I was feeling physically ill from such hatred, but I began to have a full-blown aneurysm headache. I just wanted to get home and sleep it off.

All I had to do was go down Roller Coaster Road, which by the way is aptly named, up and down multiple hills before I was to turn on to my street. Up and down, up and down, up and I’ll be jiggered if there’s not a cop sitting there in his little Sheriff’s car. “Oh Lord, I’ll do anything…not today.” Let the deal making begin! God wasn’t amused with the deal making…as if He was the one pressing the accelerator all the way down to the floorboard. The lawman’s lights turned on and he quickly u-turned, now in hot pursuit. I may have thought of a word silently that resembled what was in Nate’s diaper.

I began quickly explaining to the boys how much we love Policemen, and how much they mean to us….blah, blah, blah. My 6 year old, Gabe asked if we’re getting a ticket. “Yes.” “Great,” said my 4 year old, Luke. “That means we can take your ticket to Chuck E. Cheese and get more prizes.” I shared this with the officer at the window thinking the levity just might get me out of the citations…one for doing 56 in a 35, and one for not registering my Sequoia in Colorado within 30 days. He was not amused by Luke’s whimsical comment. As we waited for the citation to be written Gabe, decides to lay into me about speeding. “Dad, didn’t you know that you were speeding? Speeding is breaking the law. Why didn’t you just go the speed limit…etc?”

The poop smell, Nate crying from the prolonged discomfort, the interrogation from Gabe, Luke wanting the ticket to redeem to Chuck E. Cheese…Calgon take me away.

I found relief for 1 ½ hours as I slept off the depression.

I woke up and decided that I was going to finish the day strong with my family. We warmed up some leftovers for dinner and sat down just long enough for Luke to spill an entire glass of milk on our dog’s head. Tyson didn’t budge. My fawn boxer turned white instantly…Borden’s milk dripping from his ears and eyelashes. I had to laugh. Could it get worse? Yes.

We thought packing for our big trip to Texas would bring some sorely needed excitement. The boys are ready to see family and friends. Suzi went to the basement to get her “summer clothes” box and begin her packing. After 2 hours of searching in the basement, we have determined that the box didn’t make it. Every bit of her summer everything is in that box. Shirts, shorts, sandals, tank tops and flip flops are gone. We have no idea where it could be…perhaps at one of the other 3 houses that were unloaded off of the 18-wheeler before ours. By the way, our 90 day period for making claims for lost items with United Van Lines just expired. How much does it cost to replace a summer wardrobe?

Did I mention that Friday I found out there may a chance that these medical expenses could be out of pocket due to possible lapse of medical coverage over the past year? Add that to your prayer list, but we are believing all will be taken of.

If today was anything like Hell, I don’t want to go.

Corrie ten Boom has a great quote about days like today. It says, “Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but today of its strength.” I like that. My strength was stolen today. My children suffered today from a lack of patience from their dad. I felt like my credentials to the “fatherhood hall of fame” could possibly be revoked…but probably will not be.

Tomorrow the sun rises again. God’s faithfulness is once again revealed. The mountains will cry out His name and remind me of His goodness. I thank God for fresh starts each day. No matter how horrible my day was today, the Lord forgives me of my shortcomings and impatience. I love grace. I live because of grace. I smile because of this gift. I pray for Anonymous and all other Non-Christ Followers (NCF’s) who have days like this, but don’t understand the goodness of forgiveness.

Today, I start the day with fresh nostrils.

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