Wednesday, July 29, 2009


This is the final final post for 4295 Miles! There will be No MORE! However, if you are interested I am going to start a new blog. I'm going to do another blog beginning Saturday, August 1st. Many of you have asked if I would keep this blog going so I have succumbed to the pressures and will go with the small crowd's request (I'm a pushover). The new blog can be located at Each "l" in bi11boards is a "1" (one). I had to do that because billboards with the normal spelling was already being used by someone who got to it faster than I.
bi11boards will be a trip through Proverbs and there is some homework. On the 1st of each month you'll have to read Proverbs 1, on the 2nd you'll read Proverbs 2, and so on through the month. Of course I won't know if you read the chapters or not so you can read the posts either way. I'm sure you'll get more out of the posts if you read what God says in the Proverbs first! After all, he is the Author!
I appreciate the encouragement to do this but I know the real reason . . . it's cheaper than buying a devotional book, right?
See you at

Saturday, July 25, 2009


"Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom."
-2 Corinthians 3:17

Some of you may remember that Dan and Cindi Webber gave me ten chicks for my retirement. My assortment includes two Red Sexlink Chickens, four Rhode Island Red Chickens, three Barred Plymouth Rock Chickens, and one Speckled Sussex rooster. It turns out that we also have one more rooster that, I think, is a Rhode Island Red. All ten of these chickens have been handled, passed around, petted, and hugged by six grandkids. Some have even been named. I named the rooster Solomon because of his many wives. Now that we have another rooster, Gideon, Solomon has to share. I'm not sure how he feels about that but he'll get over it sooner or later. The grandkids have been naming the hens and so far only two have been named: Freckles and Caramel. I realize that those are not biblical names but Freckles and Caramel really don't care. Neither do the grandkids.
Anyway, Thursday I called Dan to find out whether or not he had allowed his chickens (from the same group) to go outside. The outside I'm talking about is outside without being in a wired and protected area. It's the outside of hawks, dogs, and wide open spaces. He said that he had turned his loose from time to time so I decided to give my chickens some freedom as well.
Then the fun began! I opened the chicken coop door and thought I'd see a ten-chicken mass exodus. Not exactly. For a short time they stood and looked at the open door. When they did decide to check things out Solomon showed his masculinity and stepped up to the door and looked outside. About three seconds later he turned and ran full speed to the other end of the coop. Again he came to the door and ran to the back. Several more times he came to the door, looked at freedom, chickened out and ran for it!
Soon some of the hens did the same thing. It must be a The Sky Is Falling kind of chicken instinct but they all did it. Maybe they knew what could be out there and were simply trying out their speed in case it was needed out there in the wilds. I laughed and thought they would never exit the coop.
Finally, Solomon emerged from the coop and stayed on the front step. A hen joined him but they would not leave the step. Solomon cautiously peered over the edge of the step until he finally had enough courage to take the leap. As soon as he took the plunge for freedom others followed.
Some of the chickens just would not come out so Trey, one of our grandsons, decided to help. He would go into the coop, pick up a chicken and take it outside. Several times he took one chicken out and two would run back inside. This was getting funnier and funnier as the chickens would run inside to the shelter they had known since they moved in on Monday, April 20th.
Today is three days since the herd was given freedom. Since Thursday things have changed a bit. The herd now goes farther from the coop but they still stay close retaining their herd status. Maybe they somehow know that there's strength in numbers but they're still a bunch of chickens, right?
This reminds me of some of us who call ourselves Christians. Sometimes God throws open a door and we stand back and look at it. Even as we get closer to the open door we still just stand there and look. Remember Moses in Deuteronomy 34? Moses went up to Mount Nebo and climbed Pisgah Peak. From there he saw the whole Promised Land. God said to Moses in verse 4b, "I have now allowed you to see it, but you will not enter the land." Sad, isn't it? The problem for Moses wasn't that he wouldn't go through but he couldn't go through. What makes it worse is the fact, according to verse 7, that, "Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever." He was in great shape too!
Wouldn't it be something to be in great shape at 120 years of age and have God open a door to a brand new adventure? Sad thing is, for many of us, even if we could go through we wouldn't. What if the age was 18, or 24, or 37, or 49, or 61, or 80? Would we still stand at the door of security and safety and say no to the freedom and adventure God reveals?
Think about it. As a teenager, David's door was opened when he went to the battlefield. He ran through it. Nehemiah's door was opened when he took on a project of mammoth proportions and he wasn't even a general contractor: he was a king's cupbearer! He went through the door and rebuilt walls and gates. Gideon was hiding in a winepress when the angel of the Lord called a coward to become a commander. Timidly and with testing he went through. Paul was blinded but still went through his door. Elijah was an army of one but went through. Noah had to build a boat for a storm that was in the forecast. He probably didn't have a clue about what rain was but sink or swim he went through. Mary was a teenager when her door opened to the voice of, "Fear not, Mary . . ." She stepped through and in a barn one evening presented the world with the Savior.
So what's your door? Is there an open door before you right now? Maybe it's a move, or a job, or a mystery. Maybe an adventure, or a relationship, or a difficult challenge. Are you gonna stand and look at it? Are you gonna turn and run for the safety of the comfort zone where you've lived for so long? What's it gonna be, a great adventure or business as usual?
The truth is, God sets before us open doors from time to time and we back off. The thrill of the adventure is pushed aside and in its place we take, everyday, routine, boredom. Maybe it's easier, safer, and makes more sense to go with the common routine of everyday life but that's not always God's plan. All you have to do is read the Bible and you can see the men and women who went through God's open doors. They were anything but routine! They were giant slayers, wall-builders, fire-walkers, lion-tamers, boat builders, water-walkers, miracle workers, loners, and run-of-the-mill folks who took Door Number One!
Jesus said to his disciples, "You are truly my disciples, if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 3:17, "Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom."
There you have it! God opens the door, freedom to do his will is out there, and we stand and look! C'mon, what's it gonna take? Begging, a push maybe, or a tackle and drag? Well it's not going to happen that way. It has to be an individual choice. Otherwise . . . you know, it won't happen.
Is the door open? What are you gonna do?

That's All Folks! . . . but just like the movies, we've got to roll the credits!

Comments of Encouragement, Prayers, & Humor!
(Not in alphabetical or any other kind of order.)
Marsha Hall, Rebecca Holder, Vicki Colquitt, Mike Dorough, Sharon Reid, Bill Goodling, Carly Decker, Margaret Shettel, Jan Jernigan, William Ricketts (Billy to me), Todd Anders, Sarah Milliner, Ericka Warren, Jessica Stephenson (Jess the Mess), "Piano Player", Beverly Miner, Summer Anders, Arlan Zimmerman, Doug Canup, Dwaine Flemmens, Thomas Weldon, Judd whose wife works with Sarah, Cheryl Waddell, Cindy Roberts, Carol Franklin, Jake Brindle, Nancy "Game Plan" Miller, Reg Gattie, Cathi Miller, Betty Bennett, Tom & Dottie Edge, Amy Frierson, Susan Bogardus, Evelyn Myrick, Connie Carmony, Tracy Thompson, Lesley Scott, Christy "Purple" Price, Alex Thaxton, Linda young, Lyndie Miller, Michael Shane Ash, Lori Gudde, Robert & Becky Konemann, Jeff Parham, Tierney (Duluth MN), Deborah Ingram, Jerry Haas, Sam Brittain, Jennifer Goins, George Paul, "Super Mom", Evelyn Hanes, Janet Swanson, Carol "Super Cooper" Brannon, Patti "TeaTime" Warren, Carey Stiles, Melissa Pepin, Bob Wentworth, Lisa Peacock, Richard Frierson, Judy Carter, "ana's world", Bill Carroll, Janice Ray, Pam Whitfield, Greg Ingram, Debby Weldon, Troye Sadler, Melissa Bone, Gail Mauldin, Kelly Brown, Thiago Gonclaves, Scott Willis, Peggy Ricketts, Sam Cash, Paul Miller, and Kimberly Dobbs (and anyone I missed).

Best Sci-Fi Comments!
Todd Anders (Lexington, Kentucky).

Doug & Paula Canup.

Surprise Pre-Paid Lodging!
Carol Franklin

Thule Luggage Carrier!
Billy Ricketts (We could not have transported all our junk without this).

Dwaine and Sarah Flemmens (Red Lion, Pennsylvania).
Jim and Joyce Goins (Xenia, Ohio).
Doug, Cindy, and Keith Dunkelberger (Bradford, Vermont).
Dave and Kim Clifton (Van Wert, Ohio).

Surprise Visitors Along the Way!
Carey, Chris, Ryan, Trey, Drew, and Maddie Stiles (Lone Prairie, Minnesota).
Lydia Parham (Lone Prairie, Minnesota).
Katie Milliner (Boston, Massachusetts).

Visitors Along the Way!
Sarah Milliner (Minneapolis, Minnesota).
Jim and Joyce Goins (Markle, Indiana).
Jane Clifton (Markle, Indiana).
Jennifer Goins, Lori and Carver Gudde (Astabula, Ohio).
Cathi Miller and Margaret Dixon (Findlay, Ohio).
Barry and Sarah Milliner (Portland, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts).
Carly Decker (Boston, Massachusetts).
David and Judie Goins (Duluth, Minnesota).
Paul Miller (Boston and Salem, Massachusetts).
Donnie and Linda Shettel (Red Lion, Pennsylvania).
Bill and Joanne Goodling (Red Lion, Pennsylvania)

Cool Artists!
Dennis Roghair, World Champion Chainsaw Artist (Hinckley, Minnesota - Located between Taco Bell and the Dairy Queen).
Wallace "Wally" Keller, Iron Sculptures (Mount Horeb, Wisconsin).

Great Food!
Stephen Prosser (Fountain City, Wisconsin - served us rhubarb crisp and ice cream for breakfast. Also bought us lunch after riding with us for twenty-five miles).
Donna Biggins (owner of Brass Rail in Grandy, Minnesota).
*Lisa Kostopoulos (owner of "the good table restaurant" - Cape Elizabeth, Maine).
Shafer-Saloon & Pizza Grill (Shafer, Minnesota).
Gateway Cafe (Plummer, Idaho).
Doxie's Diner (Wilber, Washington).
Greg and Rochelle Parl (Chevron Station, Twisp, Washington).
VIPS Family Restaurant (Watseka, Illinois).
See blog posts because I'm sure I missed many others like Eugene's Pizza in Glasgow, Montana!

Carman's Ice Cream (Chocolate Peanut Butter) & Gingerbread Waffles!
Nelda Flemmens.
Dwaine and Sarah Flemmens.

License Plate Contributors!
Bill Goodling (Pennsylvania).
Jane Clifton (Ohio).
Todd Anders (Kentucky and Florida).
The Guy on the 2nd Floor Porch (Maine).
The Guy at the Yard Sale (Vermont).

Bike Shops You Should Check Out!
Pro Cycle (Mount Horeb, Wisconsin).
North Division Bicycle Shop - Michael Conley - owner (Spokane, Washington).
Bicycle Butler - Tim and Kathy Arnold - owners (Spokane, Washington).
*The Bike Shop - Sarin Molnar - owner (Okanogan, Washington).
Knicker Biker - Travis Feller (Great Falls, Montana).
Bill's Bike Shop (Mendota, Illinois).
Bicycle Mechanic - Tom Connolly (Harris, Minnesota).
Competitive Gear (Erie, Pennsylvania).

Best Bike Shop of Them All!
Sunshine Cycles - Jimmy Marbut - owner (Athens, Georgia).

Great Directions and Routing!Bold
Jim Goins (Xenia, Ohio).
Barry Milliner (Bogart, Georgia).
Noma Wyllson, Support Specialist, Tonasket Police Department (Tonasket, Washington).
Lee J. Turner, Postmaster (Shafer, Minnesota).
Ron and Marjoe Richards (Coulee Dam, Washington).
Chris and Debby Weldon, (Snoqualmie, Washington).

Seattle Tour Guides!
Chris, Debby, and Thomas Weldon.

Best Rainy-Day $4 Sweatshirt in America!
Heidi Henkes - The Marker on Main (Cochrane, Wisconsin).

Total Ride Planner, Driver, Packer & Unpacker, and Everything Else!
Margaret Shettel

Assistants to the Total Ride Planner, Logistics and Lodging!
Carey Stiles
Sarah Milliner

Jonathan Wentworth.

Support Team!
Prince Avenue Student Ministries (Bogart, Georgia).
Prince Avenue Baptist Church (Bogart, Georgia).

Special Creative FX!
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


"Home is where the heart is."

We are home. I am thankful for a safe trip. We left Little Rock, Arkansas at 8:15 A.M. and arrived at Prince at 8:40 P.M.
It was a good trip even with ten of us and all our luggage, souvenirs, and snacks jammed into a twelve passenger van. Needless to say, we know how to pack and those kids know how to ride. I really am grateful to Donnie, Corinne, Chris, Chris, Katie, Caroline, Olivia, Preston, and MacyAnn for the flexibility, cooperation, ministry, patience, service, and commitment to the Lord. We had an excellent week in Monticello working with Pastor John and the church family. To them all we can say is thanks, thanks, thanks, and we'll see you next year!
The highlight of the day was meeting Mitch and Sarah Lawrence at Chick-fil-A in Olive Branch, Mississippi. We met them for lunch and had a short but great time catching up. Please pray for Sarah who had a job interview today. We are asking God to guide and bless her as she seeks an elementary school teaching position there in the Memphis area.
That's all I'm going to write tonight. It's late and I'm tired. I'm also ready to sleep in my own bed!
I will do one more blog tomorrow and that will finish 4,295 miles. By now it's more like 15,295 miles and they have literally been a trip!
Talk to you then.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


“You are created in the image of the Creator therefore you are creative.”


“Color outside the lines.”


"In the beginning God created . . ."

-Genesis 1:1

"So God created people in his own image ; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them."

-Genesis 1:27

I am in the van and we are presently about 101 miles from Little Rock, Arkansas where we will stay this evening. We’ll be at the home of Brandon and Julie Barnard. They won’t be there but have given me a key to their house! Brandon is with a group of students on a mission trip and Julie is in Athens, Georgia with her sister, Jennifer, who is expecting any day now.

I just spoke with Pastor John at First Baptist in Monticello and asked about Daniel. John said he was sore yesterday and feeling better today. Same thing with Chris, he’s a little sore but doing fine.

This morning, before heading east, we went to Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo. It’s one of those tourist places where people go to take photographs of family and friends. The tourists don’t know why they are there except that it’s a cool place to take pictures. I will, therefore, tell you a little about Cadillac Ranch:

The Cadillac Ranch, located along the tatters of historic Route 66, was built in 1974, brainchild of Stanley Marsh 3, the helium millionaire who owns the dusty wheat field where it stands. Marsh and The Ant Farm, a San Francisco art collective, assembled used Cadillacs representing the "Golden Age" of American Automobiles (1949 through 1963). The ten graffiti-covered cars are half-buried, nose-down, facing west "at the same angle as the Cheops' pyramids."

In 1997, development creep forced Marsh to move the entire assemblage about two miles further west. The line of cars is far enough out in a field to allow for suitably bleak photography. The distance from any authority also encourages ever-mutating layers of painted graffiti, which Marsh doesn't seem to mind.

Stanley Marsh was a very creative person. So are we! God has given us creative spirits and minds just by his very nature. We are created in the image of the Creator therefore we are creative! Because he is creative, we too can be creative, it’s in our spiritual genes. It’s also a choice. We can choose to be creative or we can sit around saying things like, “She’s got more creativity in her little finger than I’ve got in my whole body!” That’s just an excuse. Your creativity may not be like her creativity but you’ve got it. Quit making excuses and look at the things you love to do and choose to be creative with them.

Get the Crayolas, a coloring book, and color outside the lines like crazy!


Monday, July 20, 2009


We are now 241 miles from Amarillo, Texas, where we will spend the night. The girls will be staying with Les and Denise Simpson and the guys with Ray and Kim Allen. With the time change we should arrive in Amarillo around 7:30 this evening. Donnie is driving, I am working on this blog, and the other eight are sound asleep. Surprise, surprise! The good news: if they are asleep we don’t do many restroom stops.

We pulled out of the parking lot at First Baptist Church in Monticello around 6:20 this morning. Daniel was awake and came to see us off. He would have been mad if we had taken off without waking him so that’s what we did.

Daniel and Chris, our four-wheeler turnovers, were both feeling fine this morning with the exception of Daniel’s left hip. He said his hip was sore but other than that he said he was feeling okay.

Because we’ll probably get to our beds late this evening I’m going to get some help from the Utah Crew. I’m going to ask them the most important thing God taught them and the most exciting thing that happened:

Preston Willis - Preston said the most exciting thing for him was the ATV accident (It probably wasn’t for Daniel and Chris). What he learned, through the accident, was God has a plan for our lives and that he will continue to use and bless us until the plan is completed. It was obvious to Preston as he witnessed the accident that God is not yet finished with Daniel and Chris.

Caroline Clark - Caroline thought is was pretty cool that when the skit crew (Caroline was part of that crew) did the serious crucifixion and resurrection skit on Thursday and that the children saw that Jesus really died and went through great pain for them. Caroline said she learned that it’s not all about fun and games but more about ministering to the children there.

Corinne Rogero - Corinne said that the most exciting thing of the week was finding out that Daniel hadn’t even broken a bone despite the fact that the four-wheeler pummeled him as it rolled over. What she learned was that just because something seems right for you to do, it doesn’t mean it’s God’s will for your life. He may have something else planned for you that’s even better.

Donnie Brown - Donnie thought that the most exciting thing was the overwhelming friendliness and love of Pastor John, Echo, and the church family at First Baptist. God has taught him, through the experiences of the week, that we must trust God more. Even though things don’t always go as we would want them to we can still learn through those times.

Chris Rogero - Chris learned from climbing a rock formation that we cannot put God in a box and that God is all-powerful. The sight from the top of the rock was breath-taking and spectacular.

Katie Milliner - For Katie, the most exciting thing was that VBS was smaller making it easier to get the children focused. God confirmed the fact that he works all things out for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

Chris Stiles - His most exciting thing was riding to the hospital in the back of the ambulance. He learned that nothing is impossible when God is on our side.

Olivia Ricketts - She said the most exciting thing was when two little pre-school girls in her class accepted Christ. She learned to trust God no matter what the situation.

MacyAnn Holland - She, too, said the most exciting thing was the two girls in her preschool class that trusted Jesus. She learned that God allows us to go through different difficulties to teach us what he wants us as individuals to learn. She also learned how the body of Christ should love one another and God orchestrates and has a plan in everything

For me every day is a brand new lesson. I’m thankful for every bonus day God gives me and want to take in all he wants to teach me. Out here in Utah I was again reminded of the absolutely incredible Creator we worship. Everywhere we went and everything we saw cried out, “We have a Creator, a Designer, and we want to declare his glory” (Psalm 19:1). Over and over, God continues to teach me the real meaning of awesome: Deuteronomy 10:17. My most exciting part of the week was being back again with my extended family in Monticello, Utah.

We’re now 123 miles from Amarillo!

We just ate supper with Les, Denise, Faith, and Meredith Simpson and Ray, Kim, Bailey, and Karley Allen at Blue Sky in Amarillo. The burgers were great and big and the fellowship was even better.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

-Romans 8:28

We are now in Amarillo!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


"Don't talk too much, for it fosters sin. Be sensible and turn off the flow!"
-Proverbs 10:19

"Even fools are thought to be wise when they keep silent; when they keep their mouths shut, they seem intelligent."
-Proverbs 17:28

"If you keep your mouth shut, you will stay out of trouble."
-Proverbs 21:23

Another exciting day in Monticello. After a great service this morning, a great lunch with our Utah friends, and a trip to Moab, I received a phone call from Preston Willis. He told me that Daniel Washington and Chris Stiles had rolled one of the four-wheelers somewhere up in the Blue Mountains. Of course, we headed back to Monticello, driving the speed limit, to see what exactly happened.
Just so you'll know and to dispel the rumors that are already flying I am doing this post.
We just got home from the San Juan Hospital and Daniel and Chris are fine. Both are scratched up and will be sore in the morning but all is well. Preston Willis and Corinne Rogero were riding on the other four-wheeler and were not involved. Both of them are fine.
At first it was thought that Daniel had a fractured left arm, possible three broken ribs, a chipped hip, and lots of scratches. After an close examination, one CAT scan, x-rays, and blood work, Dr. Paul Reay, said that Daniel had God watching over him. Daniel has no broken arm, no broken ribs, no chipped hip, and lots of scratches, bruises, and cuts. Dr. Reay said he's seen many people come in with all the scratches, bruises, and cuts as Daniel and they usually have broken backs or legs. Daniel and Chris kept their guardian angels working overtime today and we thank God for that. You may hear reports other than this but they are stretched or rumors or embellishments of facts already given.
The four-wheeler did not do as well. After tumbling end over end down two thousand feet of mountain slope it came to rest on all four wheels and is in very bad shape. Pieces of the four-wheeler were strewn from the accident site to the final resting place. Everyone here is so thankful to God that Daniel and Chris were not on the four-wheeler during the descent.
This is Daniel's second trip to the San Juan Hospital this week. I think he's collecting pictures of all the doctors there and now has two: Dr. Curtis Black and Dr. Paul Reay. That scares me because, from what I've heard, there are four other doctors Daniel has not yet seen! If he tries to collect photos of all six doctors he's in big trouble. Seriously, we don't know about the other four doctors but both doctors Daniel had were incredible. Dr. Reay and the crew of nurses were encouraging, extremely patient, and very thorough. Daniel and Chris were blessed having Dr. Reay and his crew on call.
Donnie Brown had to go to the emergency room as well. He is dealing with an infection in his legs due probably to the high altitude and low red blood count. Except for his mental problems, Donnie is doing well, taking antibiotics, children's aspirin, and has permission to travel. We head home tomorrow.
That's about it for this episode of Monticello ER. We are hoping no more episodes of Monticello ER will be filmed on this trip. Of course, if this episode gets high ratings we may do several more.
Today the high ratings go to a very merciful and gracious Father who watched over our two guys on four wheels on one mountain path today.
To God be the glory.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


"Love is a verb."

"You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving."

"Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."
-Jesus, John 13:35

We slept late today, ate a great breakfast prepared by John and Echo, and went to Blue Mountain for a hike of maybe three miles. The three miles were certainly beautiful miles and we had a super time. Once again, we were hiking through another part of God's incredible creation.
Lunch was back at the church and then we headed for Needles Overlook, an overlook into more of the Father's playground. I will not say much about this but will let the photos do the talking.
I will ask you to pray for me because tomorrow I will be speaking in the morning service here. Since I have not thought of anything else to write on this blog tonight I will give you a preview of tomorrow's message. As you read, don't forget to pray for the service. This will be the RQV (Really Quick Version).
In 1 Corinthians 12, the Bible lays out spiritual gifts and the Body of Christ. The gifts are described and compared to the human body and the parts that make it work. At the end of chapter 12 the gifts are once again listed and in verse 31 we are told, "In any event, you should desire the most helpful gifts" (v 31a).
In verse 31 we also find a transition from spiritual gifts to what is considered something much better, "First, however, let me tell you about something else that is better than any of them!" Better than any of what? Better than any of the spiritual gifts! What could be better than spiritual gifts? Take a look at chapter 13 and you'll see. "There are three things that will endure -- faith, hope, and love -- and the greatest of these is love" (v 13).
Some thoughts about love from 1 Corinthians 13:
1) Love is better than any spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31). When followers of Jesus focus on spiritual gifts more than the Giver it's like not seeing the forest for the trees. A genuine gift of the Spirit will point people to Jesus not to the Christians. God's love through believers will draw attention to Jesus.
2) Love should be from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere faith. "The purpose of my instruction is that all Christians there would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere faith" (1Timothy 1:5).
3) Love should be continuous and observable. "Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8).
4) Love is interested in others. "Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing" (Philippians 2:4).
Love isn't always easy. In fact, sometimes it's next to impossible. It is commanded, however, and made clear by Jesus that loving God and loving people is the greatest of all commands. "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:37-40).
Jesus also said to those of us who follow him, "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples" (John 13:35). Do you want to show the world who we really serve? Love each other!
Sound to me like the greatest platform for evangelism, missions, ministry, service, and worship is LOVE! I've heard this little poem many times:
To live above with those we love,
Oh, that will be glory.
To live below with those we know,
Well . . . that's a different story!
When we really fall in love with the Father it won't be hard to fall in love with the people he loves!
Love is a verb!

Friday, July 17, 2009


"The world is full of starters and quitters but very few finishers."

VBS at First Baptist Church in Monticello, Utah is now
history. Our attendance today was fifty-seven, which is great for a last day attendance. Parents visited for the closing session and stayed for a hot dog lunch. We are finished now.
Once again we have increased our circles of friends for which we will forever be grateful. Some of our new friends have also become new followers of Jesus. This week has certainly been an investment in eternity. It's been a privilege to have been a part of it.
After lunch we did quite a bit of work in taking down all of the decorations and preparing them to be taken to a church in Cortez, Colorado. The decorations, including one large train engine built by Daniel Washington, will be used again in VBS next week.
The house painting project is very close to being complete. Tomorrow morning we will finish.
I don't know about you but I love to finish things. Years ago in the student ministries at Prince Avenue I had the students make a list of their "Ten Wildest Dreams." One of my dreams was to go to Russia. Finished. In fact, three times. Another dream was to ride my bike across the United States of America. Finished! I would like to write and illustrate some books for children. Not finished, but started. There are more, some that have been finished and others still be to be finished and/or started. When I get home from Utah I have a list of things that need to be finished around the house. These I will prioritize and tackle one at a time until they are finished.
I'm not sure what drives me to finish, maybe it's just plain old stubbornness. A more spiritual term could be determined. Either way, I am one or both of those.
Finishing is important but to finish requires determination, focus and priority. I don't really want to be a Jack-of-all-trades. That sounds good but it doesn't help a finisher because there's no way to focus and often too much to do. When you think about it, God in the Scriptures, generally called his followers to do one thing. That's one of the reasons they were finishers. Look at Moses, he led the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage. Noah built a large floating zoo. Gideon defeated the Midianites. Esther protected the Jews and generations to follow. Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. Even Paul, in his final letter to Timothy said, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful" (2 Timothy 4:7).
He also said in Philippians 3:12-14, "I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward the day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all that I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven."
Paul was a man of determination, focus, and priority.
The Bible, describing the crucifixion of Jesus, tells it like this, "Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures he said, 'I am thirsty.' A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus tasted it, he said, 'It is finished!' Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit" (John 19:28-30).
To the enemies and followers of Jesus, it was finished . . . over, done, ended, dead, never to be again. But for those of us who know Jesus, it was the beginning. It was a fresh start of a new life in Christ. It was the reason Jesus came. He lived his life and finished for us. He too was determined, focused, and had as his priority, the world . . . you and me. Aren't you glad he finished?
What do you have that needs to be finished? Maybe some dreams, maybe some goals, maybe some projects? It's never too late you know. Focus on the dreams, goals, and projects that honor and glorify Jesus and go for it. Just do it.
He finished.
You should too.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


We had fifty-seven in VBS today. That's been our highest attendance for the week. It has been a good week and it's hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of VBS. Tomorrow will be a very busy day. After VBS there is a hot dog lunch for the children and their parents. After lunch we will also remove all VBS decorations, pack all decorations to be shipped or transported to another church, clean the church building, and set up everything for the Sunday service.
Our crew today did a number of things including rock climbing, four-wheeling, swimming, and house painting. Needless to say, the last option was the least popular but we will still finish the painting before we head home Monday morning. We were hoping to finish today but we ran out of paint. Maybe that was a forced rest!
Yesterday, part of our study was the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The drama crew (a rather scruffy-looking crew indeed) did a skit presenting the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. There were no words, only music and the acting. It was an emotional skit and, I believe, made the children much more attentive to the Bible study afterwards.
When Jesus died on the cross it must have been a frightening time for believers and non-believers alike. The curtain in the temple was ripped from top to bottom, people were raised from the dead, the whole country became dark in the middle of the day, rocks popped as they broke apart, and the earth quaked and shook violently (Matthew 27:50-53). Just one of those things happening would be frightening enough but all of them at the same time . . . sounds like terror to me!
The days that followed were equally frightening, especially to those who murdered Jesus. They were very frightened about what Jesus had said, "After three days I will rise from the dead." They even posted a guard so the disciples would not steal the body. But their plan backfired because, after three days, the body was gone and the guard was sill there.
Seems like people still want Jesus dead but that just ain't happening (pardon my ain't). The resurrection stands today with more proof and power than most historical happenings. Even non-religious historians have written of the earthquakes, darkness in the middle of the day, dead people walking, and Jesus being alive after his execution.
Flavius Josephus, a Roman citizen and author, wrote these words about Jesus, "He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day . . . (Antiquities of The Jews, p. 379).
For those who are not followers of Jesus and for those who do not believe the Bible, there you have it! Even without the Bible you still cannot get away from Jesus, the crucifixion or the resurrection! Isn't that great!
He is risen!
He is risen indeed!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."
-John 3:16

We are over the halfway mark now with only two days of VBS remaining. Today we presented the gospel to every student. Some students indicated that they would like to talk with someone this week. Others students indicated that they wanted to trust Jesus. Tomorrow and Friday are the days we will use to follow up on the cards that were turned in today.
After VBS and lunch we returned to the two big projects we have: painting Pastor John and Echo's house and staining their deck. We also had a crew shampoo some of the carpet in the church building.
As I said before, we are halfway through the week now and I can see the crew is heading for the empty mark on the physical fuel tanks. We have worked hard, we have been at VBS early, and we have probably stayed up later at night than we should have. I believe that may be the way most of us live all the time: running on empty. Somewhere along the line we've bought in to the philosophy that being busy makes a person successful and . . . if you're really busy at doing Christian stuff then you're really spiritual. Busy does not make a person spiritual any more than sitting in a garage makes a person a car. It just makes you tired, and sometimes crabby, and irritable, and sometimes very unspiritual. Busy simply is not the answer! Write it down!
While reading Mark 2, Jesus seemed to have a hard time finding rest. He had just healed a paralyzed man who was lowered through a roof by four good friends and afterwards he was taking off for some time alone at the lake. Well, what happens next? The whole crowd followed him and Jesus found himself teaching again.
Another time Jesus healed a man's hand, ticked off the Pharisees (what's new?), and headed for the lake again . . . and a large crowd from Galilee followed him again. He absolutely could not get away! Even when Jesus went home a crowd followed him!
When Jesus was talking with the Pharisees he told them, "The Sabbath was made to benefit people, and not people to benefit the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27).
Thinking about the world today makes me ask, "When do people slow down any more?" Jesus wanted to slow down but had to work at it while today's society could easily do it but chooses instead to be extra busy. We are burning the candles at both ends and then we are surprised when the light is quickly gone.
Gordon McDonald said, "Sabbath means a deliberate acceptance of personal rest and tranquility within the individual life. Sabbath means a rest that brings peace into the private world." He also said, "We must accept this peace as a gift and take the time to receive it." Boom! . . . there's the answer, take the time!
In Mark 1:35, the Bible teaches us, "The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray." Jesus knew the value of take the time. He took the time often to be with the Father alone. He had to work at taking the time but it was so valuable to him that he made it happen. Read Mark chapters 1 and 2 and underline every time crowds surrounded and/or followed Jesus. He was busy, busy, busy. He also knew when to take the time . . . and he did.
Do we?