A gentle touch…


Even with so many extraordinary experiences in Kenya, there’s one thing that comes to mind that warms my heart the most. I was sitting under a beautiful tree where we had set up for a Sunday morning service, and the music was playing, and the people were singing and dancing. I noticed one little girl—maybe two or three years old—standing nearby. She had been looking at me rather intently for several minutes.

Lots of little kids, and adults, had been looking curiously at me, simply because many of them had never seen a white guy. Some kids actually cried when they saw me, thinking I was a ghost.  But this little girl seemed different. In stealth mode, I held my hand palm up on my lap, slightly in her direction. I continued to sing, pretending not to notice as she walked ever so slowly toward me. My heart was warmed when she cautiously reached out her little hand, and placed it ever so gently on mine. We connected, and I can still remember the deep feeling of gratitude for such a precious and priceless moment in time.

It’s easy to miss these special moments, simply because we’re not looking for them. We’re distracted by all the activity going on around us…and within us. Today as you go about your day, take a moment every now and then to take a look around, just to see if God is offering you a special sense of his presence. There’s no telling how he might gently place his hand in yours.

“You should clothe yourselves…with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” ~1 Peter 3:4

A guy named “Dad…”


There’s a remarkable guy who lives on a 120 acre farm in the country near Otisville, Michigan. He’s a rare kind of guy, for several reasons.

He was born premature in 1927, weighing just a little over two and a half pounds. His mom kept him warm near the wood burning stove they had in the living quarters in the back of the little grocery store they owned and operated. He got polio when he was a young adult, before the days of vaccines.

Even though he was the baby of the family, he grew up quickly, working hard on his father’s farm from the time he was a kid. He learned to hitch the horses and work the fields at an age when most kids these days are watching cartoons and playing video games.

Since I didn’t know him when he was in high school, I can only make assumptions about what he was like back then…but I assume he was quite the ladies’ man. My assumption is based on the nickname he was given ~ Romeo. Of all the girls that caught his eye, there was a gal by the name of Ruth that captured his heart. Romeo chose Ruth to be his life mate, and to be the mother of his children.

He was eventually hired by Buick to protect the manufacturing plant, and he bought his dad’s 90 acre farm in 1954. When he finished his shift at Buick, he would rush home and change into his other work clothes. There was always lots to do on the farm: 3,000 chickens, 80 sheep, horses and ponies, and acres and acres of strawberries that all needed attention.

But even as remarkable as all his accomplishments are, more impressive is the man behind the accomplishments. I’ve never personally known a man with greater character, or a more consistent walk with God. I’ve never known a man who is more eager to lend a hand to a person in need, with a heart of compassion as big as they come. And no one I know is more eager to set out on a new adventure than this man.

I’ve never known him to lose his cool, or curse, or drink or smoke, or chase other women. He’s never carried a grudge because he’s a peace maker and a problem solver. He’s always looking at the positive side of things. And he encourages others to do the same.

Our world would be a better place if there were more men like this man. Wives would know they are secure in the love of their husband. Children would know their dad has got their back, and there’s nothing they can do that’s too foolish to be forgiven. And his friends would know they can always count on him to pitch in and help with their needs…no matter what.

So, I guess this is a good place to say, “I love you for the man you are, and for being a servant of God. You make me proud to be your son. And you’ve provided an example that keeps me pressing forward in my own journey to become a man of God, and a better husband and father, just like you. I love you Dad…happy Father’s Day!”

When Fools Rush In…


“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14).

I woke up with some heaviness in my heart…too many thoughts…anxious thoughts….the little frets that overcome me when I don’t see quick results to my prayers. It was pre-dawn…the usual time I begin my day with Papa God. I took my usual place on my window seat, the Word at my side, coffee cup in hand, iPad and laptop poised…not knowing if I would have anything to journal this morning.  Starring out the window, looking eastward in anticipation of the sunrise, I petitioned my Father….opening my heart to Him. Then I sat back and allowed His Spirit to awaken in me, listening intently to what He had to say. I began to read His Word.  The clarity of His voice in the passages He gave me resounded one distinct theme, “Patience…wait on the Lord’s timing”.

He took me to Acts, chapter 27. There I read the story of Paul’s warning to the officer in charge of the ship that was headed to Rome. “Men,” he said, “I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on – shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well.” But the officer did not listen. As the story unfolds–as you may have guessed–Paul’s intuition is proven to be right. The storm raged to typhoon strength and the ship was blown out to sea. The Word continues…“The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone. No one had eaten for a long time.” Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, “Men, you should have listened to me in the first place. We could have avoided all this trouble and trial. But there’s no need to dwell on that now. From now on, things are looking up! I can assure you there’ll not be a single drowning among us, although I can’t say as much for the ship – the ship itself is doomed…but don’t give up!”

Wow! Not only did Papa God say “wait patiently” in His Psalm, but also in the Book of Acts, He painted a clear picture of what to expect if I don’t wait patiently. Trouble ahead….a shipwreck of unparalleled proportion! Hope would be blotted out because of disobedience. And I would suffer from a lack of strength to resist the enemy if I didnt’ eat.

My Spirit smiled wide…the anxiety lifted and joy took its rightful place in my heart! The necessity of spending time in His Word…the need to daily “eat” the divine portion of His truth that will lift my doubt and carry me through any storm, penetrated my soul! And the blessings that He will pour out if I simply OBEY…and wait patiently!

Oh how I love you Papa! I love spending time with You…listening to Your voice!

As the sun rose and its rays warmed my skin, I began to praise Him, thanking Him for His everlasting presence in my life! O how HE loves me….how He loves me so!  Be blessed today…allow HIS SON to warm your heart….eat…be still and hear His voice! ~ IN HIS STRONG LOVE ~ rose

For Sale: 1994 Dodge Viper R/T 10


For Sale: 1994 Dodge Viper R/T 10. Original Owner. Red with grey leather interior; A/C; 2nd generation wheels; also includes original wheels and tires; 7,300 miles. Kept in carpeted garage with no natural light. Ready to break out into the light with a new owner!

This is an ad I never imagined writing. My first car was a 1962 Impala SS with a 327 c.i. 4 barrel – red with a white convertible top. I sold it for $300 in 1969. Today it’s probably worth something in the range of $25,000 to $30,000. When I hit my mid-life crisis (make that my mid-life “Chrysler”) shortly after I turned 40, I decided the Viper would be a great car to buy and keep…a good car to have in the garage. It’s been fun to drive and own, but it’s time to let ‘er go. (She really is for sale.)

We all have experienced necessary transitions in our lives as we move through life’s stages. Something that made perfect sense one day makes little sense the next. The concessions we once so desperately needed sometimes seem silly as we enter into a new era of our journey.

I’m at another crisis point in my life where – once again – I’m reevaluating my priorities. And I’m compelled from somewhere deep within my spirit to live a nimble life. It’s a part of stripping down to the things that are most essential.

Possibly I will regret selling the Viper. Time will tell. But there’s a certain kind of pain in every choice we make – letting go of one thing to take hold of something else. Or holding on for dear life to something because of our fear of the unknown.

From my vantage point today, selling the Viper is the right choice. And I will hold on lightly to everything else that is currently under my care – knowing that my possessions are not really mine. All that is truly “mine” is my love for my Lord, and my willingness to allow him to guide me along the path he has chosen for me to follow—today.

Possibly you relate to letting go of something that at one time seemed as though it would always be a part of your life. I would love to hear your story. (Now, please excuse me as I go find a tissue…)

Say WHAT?


My hearing is shot…literally. Several years ago, when I was attending Purdue, a pastor friend of mine, Mick, invited me to shoot his .44 magnum handgun. I’d shot a few guns when I was a kid, and I knew guns were loud. But I was totally unprepared for the .44 magnum. The first shot felt like someone crashed brake rotors against each side of my head. The second shot was worse. The gun powder exploded and sent shock waves that blasted past my eardrums and collided somewhere toward the middle of my head. By the third shot, I felt dizzy and disoriented.

Something inside me told me it would probably be unwise to continue shooting the gun–at least without some type of ear protection. So I told Mick I’d like to use some ear plugs. He told me I didn’t need them, suggesting the ringing would stop “before too long.” At least that’s what I think he said because by now all I could do was read his lips. Since he was my friend (not to mention a man of the cloth) I took his word for it and blasted off a few more rounds for good measure.

The ringing never stopped. Thirty one years ago when Mick told me the ringing would stop before too long, I neglected to quantify “too long.” That’s my fault. And now I miss a lot that’s going on around me because I blew out something important in my ears I needed in order to hear.

Some of us also have spiritual hearing damage that hinders our ability to hear God. Maybe we haven’t blown out our spiritual ear drums, but our hearing has been muffled in other ways. Apparently the people hanging around Jesus when he was teaching here on earth had a hearing problem too. Time and again Jesus made the comment, “He who has ears to hear…”

I believe God is communicating with us all the time. He speaks to us through the beauty of nature, in the midst of our pain, and through the serendipitous experiences of day-to-day life. We have opportunities to “hear” God throughout our day. But too often, we miss the message because we’re too distracted by day-to-day life.

And even if we are tuned in, there’s a difference between hearing the words and grasping truth. We know we are truly hearing when we “get it,” and we know we’re getting it when we’re compelled to align ourselves with the truth we’ve been given. May we have ears to hear – today – that allow us to hear the whisperings of our heavenly Father. And may our lives be changed as we respond to his voice.

“Ears to hear and eyes to see–both are gifts from the LORD.” ~Psalm 20:12

Dodging bullets…


I’m usually on the lookout for life lessons that spring up along my path on a day-to-day basis. As I’ve mentioned before – nuggets of inspiration are everywhere.

I found a nugget several years ago on Saginaw Street in Flint, Michigan. Just as I was about to enter a pawn shop with my two young sons, Derick and Aaron, I heard a commotion behind us. When I turned to see what was happening, I saw a guy with a lady who was carrying something that looked like a piece of stereo equipment. The commotion was caused by another guy with a gun who appeared to be trying to get an unobstructed shot at the guy with the lady. Here’s the curious part: the guy with the lady was using the lady as a human shield to protect himself from the guy with the gun.

I realize there are a lot of guys these days that are having trouble becoming men. Although we’re designed to be warriors who protect our wives, too often we fail—miserably. I admit, I judged the guy hiding behind his woman. I judged him for not having the cojones to protect his woman, and to take a bullet for her if it came down to either him or her.

But then I got a glimpse of myself in this cowardly guy’s pathetic behavior. It’s always easier to see the foolishness in someone else than it is in our selves. We become so accustomed to our own stench of hypocrisy we no longer notice the odor.

While I’ve never used Rose as a human shield in a literal sense, I’ve failed to protect her in other ways. I’ve missed opportunities to be her valiant warrior—to shield her from the onslaught of the “enemy.” Not always, but more often than I care to admit. Since Rose has a generous heart of forgiveness, she has never held my gaffes against me. I’m grateful for that. So grateful that I’m compelled to do a better job of protecting her when the next opportunity arises—and I’m certain it will. There’s a part of me that welcomes the challenge. It will be an opportunity to lean on my Strength and my Shield…

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” ~Psalm 28:7

In Need of Eye Surgery?! ~


  “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? ~Matthew 7:4

Each morning, as I gather my thoughts to pray,  I always begin with Psalm 139…seeking wisdom and discernment. Before all else, I ask God to search my heart, knowing there is nothing good in my flesh. My natural tendency–on my own–is to be too quick to judge or criticize. I’m too quick to wag my finger in the face of my enemies. And too often, in the faces of those I love. So I begin my morning prayer with “Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” ~Psalm 139:23-24

It’s not an easy prayer to pray. When I pray this way, I open my heart to allow God to continue his sanctifying work in me…a NEVER ending process! It’s a process that is never without pain…necessary, humbling pain. His holy fire burns off the impurities of my flesh that contaminate my deepest longing to be pure. When ignored, these impurities spill over  into my thought life,  the words I speak, and the choices I make. They influence the way I treat others.  

Jesus called these things that distort our perception and damage our relationships “planks.” These cumbersome planks come in all shapes and sizes: a haughty spirit, a critical tongue, or an unkind look of disgust. The list goes on.  Each plank, if left unattended, can potentially become an insidious habit.

So as I approach Papa God each morning, I must be willing to allow him to show me my own planks, before I can even begin to offer counsel to those in my circle of influence. God invites me to willingly surrender to him, and to allow him to surgically remove the unwieldy planks from my eye…the eye of my heart. For that is where the wellspring of life resides. His Word says,  “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23.

When I’m not willing to surrender my will for his……when I run away and hide from the truth, the wake of my pride and disobedience causes devastating consequences. But when my heart is aligned with his–truly aligned–God performs his best surgery with his holy Word. With it he corrects my vision, and compels me to restore that which I’ve damaged.  His Word penetrates deeply–it convicts, it corrects and it humbles me.  His Word resonates with compassion that’s just right, and mercy that enables me to open my heart to further understanding. His promises hold me steady as he puts things back into perspective…his perspective. He realigns me in a way that “hurts so good!”

Suddenly the speck that once seemed so large in my brother’s eye, now seems so small. I’m now looking at his heart and loving him just like Papa God loves me…unconditionally!

If you have a plank problem, allow Papa God to remove it from the eye of your heart.   In as much as it depends on you…give God the opportunity to begin the healing of relationships in your life. Let Papa God give you the courage to set the wrongs right… allow his love to refresh the vision of your heart!  ~ In His Strong Love ~ rose

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