Celebrating Our Failures

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalm 73:26

On April 23, 2022, Detroit Tigers Designated Hitter Miguel Cabrera drove a single into right field to collect the 3,000th hit of his illustrious career. Long considered a major achievement in the sport, Cabrera, has become the thirty-third player in major league history to reach this milestone. Thirty-three players having reached this plateau may not seem so exclusive. But when you consider that as of May 1, 2022, there have been 20,042 people to have played Major League Baseball since its beginning in 1876. This means that currently, only .001646 of players have accomplished this (roughly 1 out of every 607 players). This feat will also grow scarcer over the next several years as the next players with a reasonable shot of reaching 3,000 hits don’t yet have 2,000 hits.

Still not impressed? Consider these other feats.

Cabrera is…

…1 of only 7 people to have 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.

…1 of only 3 people to have 3,000 hits, 500 HRs, and 600 doubles.

…1 of only 2 people to have 3,000 hits, 500 HRs, 600 doubles, and a lifetime batting average over .300

…The only player to have 3,000, 500, 600, .300 and to have won a batting triple crown (2012).

I know that I am biased, but I tend to think that’s pretty good.

Photo Credit: https://www.sportingnews.com/us/mlb/news/miguel-cabrera-hits-tracker-tigers-3000-hit-club/emufcftufy98edljnpn0e6il

As a lifelong Tiger fan, I have enjoyed watching this run toward the milestones. I was just a little too young to remember Al Kaline’s 3,000th hit, so this has been pretty cool to watch. I enjoyed the video display the team shared in the half inning after the hit. It was short congratulatory remarks from several other players from the 3,000-hit club. The video I found to be most interesting was shared by George Brett, the great third baseman from the Kansas City Royals from the 70’s and 80’s, who recognized Miggy for two accomplishments. Here’s what Brett said:

“Congratulations on getting No. 3,000. It’s a great club, very happy you joined it. On top of that, though, it’s another great club to be able to say you made 7,000 outs. Congrats, I’ll see you in Cooperstown soon, pal.”

The 7,000-out club? Is that a thing? Why yes, it is! Fifty-five of baseball’s greatest are a part of this unique group, including twenty-six of the members of the 3,000-hit club. It’s crazy but it’s true; the hitters with the greatest levels of success are also those with the greatest levels of failure.

This idea, while strange, makes sense when you think about it. Those players were so good at hitting baseballs that they were given more opportunities to swing over longer careers. This concept holds true to other areas of our lives. High achievers are rewarded with more opportunities to achieve than those who struggle. But nobody is perfect. More often than not, things don’t go the way we hoped or planned and we find ourselves failing. Truly successful people have figured out ways to overcome their failures, to learn from them and to keep pushing toward their goals. Hitters in baseball forget the last pitch and focus solely on what they need to do as they face the next pitch. That ability to accept failure without letting it dominate them is what allows them to perform so well at a task where the very best will fail more than they succeed.

We as Christians face a similar set of circumstances. Imagine if they kept stats on our thoughts, words and deeds in the same way they track baseball statistics. We’d all like to think that we could rank high on the good deeds list. Maybe we are an all-time great at volunteering, donations, or praying for others. These would be wonderful things to which we should aspire, but they only tell a part of the story. Because like a baseball player comparing hits to outs, Christians can compare the moments we follow God’s will to the sins that dominate our lives. I don’t mean to brag, but I think I am on course for a Hall-of-Shame career based on my “Sin Percentage.” Here’s our reality: despite our best efforts, we are sinful. For every accomplishment, we have a multitude of failures. Like baseball players, we can overcome these struggles. Unlike baseball players, we do so without the need for batting practice and spring training.

As a unique creation made in the very image of God, we hold a special place in the heart of our Lord. When sin tainted our hearts, it did nothing to diminish the love that God has for us. He immediately set into place the plan designed to give us forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. Jesus lived among us as true man. His death and resurrection defeated sin, death, and any power that Satan might try to wield over us. Will we still fail when it comes to sin? Absolutely. Thousands and thousands of times in fact. But for every sin there is forgiveness, and this without ceasing. Consider the words of Psalm 76, where we are reminded that, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” This doesn’t mean that we can live in any way we choose. We still must strive to do God’s will as best we can. However, it does assure us that His love, His mercy, His grace is sufficient to overcome the times when we fail. Our sin no longer defines us. Our record is cleared and our relationship to the Father is restored, and there is no cooler club to join than to be one of God’s redeemed children. May God bless you to live your life in a way that brings glory and honor to His holy name. Live without fear of your failures, knowing that He will sustain you in every circumstance.

Statistics used collected from baseball-reference.com, baseball-almanac.com, and @jaysonst

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Peace on Earth

Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:32-33 (ESV)

On that glorious night in the fields outside of Bethlehem, God chose a most improbable group of people to hear a most important proclamation.

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Having made it through the past 21 months, the mere thought of God declaring a message of good news that will bring joy to us all is very appealing. After all, it is easier to deal with times of struggle when you’re able to look forward and know that there is a promise of better days ahead. I think that’s a big part of what has made dealing with the pandemic and the crises it has created so difficult. It just feels as if there is no end in sight.

So, this year, more than ever, we need that good news.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

It is truly amazing to think that God’s love for us runs so deeply that He would send His Son into our world to save each one of us from sin. We deserve the death that comes as the consequence of our sinfulness. Thankfully, God has a different plan. Through Jesus’s life, death & resurrection, we have been gifted something we could never accomplish, forgiveness of our sins and a restored relationship with the Father.

“And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Say what? We’ll find Him where? He’ll be wearing what? You did say this was the Son of God, right? For us here on earth who understand the lifestyles of kings, this is not how royals are to be born. Where’s the pomp? Where’s the excess, the exquisite accommodations that are afforded to royalty? Leaders like to demonstrate their humility by claiming to be “one of the people.” These sentiments tend to be a lot of bluster without much substance. However, in this case, the only blustery thing about Christ’s birth was the wind passing through the stable where He was born. Jesus our Messiah, true God and true man, here to dwell among us so that He could ultimately save us.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!’”

There it is. The second most important gift we receive from this message. Nothing compares to forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. But for now, in this moment, we will take some peace on earth. Life in modern society has left us all tired and frustrated. Every day brings a new slate of challenges, struggles, arguments, and attacks. It’s exhausting. It’s discouraging. It leads many of us to experience physical and emotional depths that can distract us from our work, bring stress into our relationships, as well as take a toll on our health. We all experience these feelings from time to time and to varying degrees, especially around the holidays when so much more is expected of us.

In these moments, it is crucial to remember the words of Christ from John 16. Jesus is speaking to his disciples (and to us) in preparation for his death. In verse 32, He describes what will happen to him after his arrest. The disciples will grow fearful and will hide, choosing to save their own skin over standing with Jesus against His persecutors. As He faces abandonment from His followers, Jesus will know that He is not alone. God the Father will be with Him through it all. Perhaps He said this to reassure Himself, knowing what He was about to face. There is no doubt in my mind that He is speaking to us, equipping us with the certainty that God will never leave us. In fact, Jesus affirms this in the words of verse 33.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Could there be a better reminder than this? Satan and our sinful world are going to do everything they can to distract us from these words. But distract is all they can do. They have already been defeated. Christ’s bold proclamation is our truth. Through it, we know beyond the shadow of a doubt that we will never be lost, never destroyed. In Christ we find true peace.

It is my solemn prayer that you will feel this peace throughout your celebration of the Savior’s birth. May He strengthen you to face the challenges in your life. May He surround you with believers to support you, angels to protect you, and the Holy Spirit to empower you that you may share this message to others in word and deed this Christmas and throughout the year to come.

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Crying Out Across the Centuries

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:14-21

Montgomery, Alabama. January 30, 1956.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was attending a mass meeting to maintain support of a bus boycott that had begun nearly two months earlier. On December 5, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested and charged with violating Montgomery’s city code requiring segregation on buses. In response, the African-American community, led by Dr. King, refused to ride city buses until the law was changed. Weeks of tension between the city leaders and the protestors were about to lead the city to the brink of disaster.

The following excerpt comes from a 1972 essay by Jane Stevenson entitled, “Rosa Parks Wouldn’t Budge.”

“On that night while Dr. King was attending one of the regular mass meetings, a bomb tossed onto the porch of his house exploded seconds later with a shattering roar. Having heard the thud as the missile landed, Mrs. King and a visiting friend had moved quickly toward the rear of the house. They and the Kings’ infant daughter escaped injury. But it looked for a time as if the chief casualty of the night would be the concept of nonviolence…

Rushing home, King found an angry crowd milling on his lawn. As he stepped from his car, he heard one black man offer to shoot it out with a white policeman who was trying to push him back… The mood of the crowd was so hostile that all of them later reported having felt that a race riot was a distinct and immediate possibility.

Dr. King went into his house, assured himself that his family was all right, and then came back to speak to the crowd. His voice was unusually quiet, and everyone else stopped speaking or moving, to listen.

‘My wife and baby are all right,’ he told them. ‘I want you to go home an put down your weapons. We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence… We must love our white brothers no matter what they do to us. We must make them know that we love them. Jesus still cries out across the centuries, Love your enemies. This is what we must live by…’

It was another miracle of oratory… simply, at his request, the crowd began to melt away, and with it, the tension.”

Photo credit: https://pressfrom.info/us/news/us/-639436-after-mlk-s-home-was-bombed-he-refused-to-back-down-this-movement-will-not-stop.html

When I reflect on Dr. King and his many contributions to society, this story always comes to mind. Amid a personal attack designed to do great harm to him and his family, he had the strength to seek out God’s will in the situation. Dr. King set aside the fear and anger he must have been feeling to share a message of peace derived from Jesus’ command for us to love our enemies. It was a remarkable response that kept his nonviolent movement focused on the bigger picture, one which would ultimately have its day. On November 13, after nearly a year of ride shares and walking, the United States Supreme Court declared Alabama’s bus segregation laws unconstitutional.

It is easy to see the comparisons between the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the events that have impacted life in America over the past several months. Racial and political tensions have created a dangerously deep divide in our country. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a solution in sight; no oratory masterpiece to calm us, no group to unite us, no court ruling to settle things for us. In fact, you could claim that we have all but abandoned the ideal that we are, “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

How do we restore a sense of peace and order to our society? It is only my opinion, but I think that we too must heed the words of Dr. King from that January night so many years ago. “Jesus still cries out across the centuries, ‘Love your enemies.’”

Why is this so important? We are sinful. Our actions are spiteful, based on arrogance, intolerance, and a hatred of others and their ideas. We consider our own thoughts to be exclusively correct and we are willing to say and do incredibly hurtful things to oppress those with whom we disagree. Our minds are fixed. Our ears are closed. Our hearts are hardened. Faced with this sobering truth, we can only turn to the outstretched arms of Christ to save us from the evil world we have helped create through our sin.

Thankfully, Jesus knows our sinful condition. As true man, He experienced hatred and violence firsthand. As true God, He provided us a model of how we must look directly into the face of hate with love by forgiving those who harm us – even if they do not want it or deserve it. Remember, it was Jesus, who while being crucified, asked God to forgive those people who were responsible for whipping, beating, mocking, and executing Him. If the Son of God can speak peaceful words of forgiveness from the cross, we too must be able to find words of peace that we can share with our brothers and sisters in Christ on earth.

Jesus has given us this great, undeserved gift of forgiveness. By His redeeming death and resurrection, we have had our relationship with the Father restored and by the work of the Holy Spirit, we will be with God for eternity in heaven. Until the day that Jesus leads us home, may we let Him lead us to share the gift of love with others who desperately need to feel it. Pray that our lives can reflect His love, and when our sinfulness overtakes us, allow us to seek forgiveness and make amends so that others would see Christ’s love at work in us.

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Background Check

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:18-19

To say that the corona virus pandemic of 2020 has changed the world would be an understatement. The weeks and months ahead will continue to see us dealing with the impacts of social distancing, “stay at home” orders, closed businesses and schools, limited travel, and most importantly recovery. As this plays out, I am personally curious to see what things will continue to happen now that we have discovered by necessity that they are possible. Many people have grown to use and appreciate grocery delivery and curbside service at take-out restaurants. Teachers and parents have learned a great many new technologies that will help them educate children. We may even see a glorious return of the long hair of the 1970’s and big hair of the 80’s now that salons and barbershops remain closed.

From my perspective, the new thing that is most likely to stick around is the surge in using video conferencing technology. Most businesses and schools flocked to these programs to keep themselves communicating internally and with clients or students. How many of you celebrated a family event or a holiday on a computer screen? Television networks began utilizing it for interviews or even entire shows. The production quality is lacking, and it seems a bit impersonal, but today there are millions of people around the world who had never tried video conferencing using this technology daily.

video backgroud

Of course, with familiarity comes the need to add to the mix. When a new user first started out, they were most worried about the functionality of the program and making sure they could see and hear and be seen and heard. Once that was mastered, they faced the single most important factor of any online video chat: the background. You might recognize this streak of vanity within you. Taking time to consider your surroundings so that when people see you on screen, they see something cool behind you. In fact, I’m pretty sure that some people care more about how the background looks than they do about their own physical appearance. At first you probably just wanted a space free of clutter. That’s like earning your bachelor’s degree. That quickly escalated to the master’s where you spent time finding a background that had something visually interesting that also shared something about your unique personality: bookcases filled with interesting books and figurines, pictures or artwork that showed off our interests or sense of style, perhaps a window overlooking a nice part of the yard. Just not an air vent or a light switch, or a boring wall. Finally, you earned your Ph. D. by actively looking at and critiquing the backgrounds of other people with whom you conference to see what behind them. You’ve graduated when you start reminding yourself that you need to stop looking at what is in the background of the people on your chat and begin paying attention to what is being said. Sound familiar? You do not have to answer that!

Truth be told, we are all probably guilty of spending too much time focused on the backgrounds on our video calls. That said, it is interesting how this mirrors real life for so many of us. We are very often finding ourselves trying to insert ourselves into the business of others, while at the same time trying to present the best possible image of ourselves for the world to see. It’s probably just human nature, but seeing that we are sinful by nature, this just becomes another way for us to self-promote all the while hiding the reality of our messy lives (and homes 😊).

All of us are sinful. All of us fall short of the expectations God has given us to worship Him, to do right by others and take care of ourselves. If our video backgrounds truly reflected our lives, we wouldn’t see books, sports memorabilia, and artwork. It would be filled with broken promises, failures, and missed opportunities. The stain of sin permeates everything about us, leaving us hurt and damaged. Our brokenness leaves us with no opportunity to change and therefore, without hope. Thankfully, our God is a God of love and restoration. Through His son, Jesus Christ, that brokenness that we feel is repaired, the shame that sin hangs over us is cleared away. Our sins have been paid for by the blood of the Lamb, separating us from our sinfulness and bringing us to a place where we can present ourselves to the Father without blemish. We can move forward into a new and right relationship with God.

The words of Isaiah 43:18-19 proclaim this new relationship by reminding us to keep our past where it belongs: in the past. The sins of yesterday are gone; forgiven and forgotten. The accomplishments of yesterday are also behind us, allowing us to focus on a new day and a new opportunity to let the Holy Spirit use us to further the work of the kingdom. It doesn’t matter what we are facing. God has provided the way, the means, the resources, and assures us of His continual presence to see us through. May we cling to this promise He made to us so that we can keep moving forward until we are given the eternal gift won for us by our loving Savior.

Photo Credit: https://www.videomaker.com/article/f04/17142-create-a-youtube-studio-in-your-room
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On April 15, 2019, the world stood alongside the people of Paris, France, in shock and disbelief. Notre Dame, the medieval Catholic cathedral which for centuries stood as a landmark in the city had caught fire and was engulfed in flames. Many feared that the structure would be a total loss. Fortunately, thanks to the work of Paris’s fire department and the grace of God, much of the building was able to survive the flames. In fact, for the past year, Notre Dame has been undergoing a massive restoration project designed to return the masterpiece of French Gothic architecture to as close to its original condition as possible.

Cathedral of Notre-Dame of Paris fire aftermath

On the first anniversary of the blaze, I had the chance to read an article talking about the work being done to save Notre Dame. The article shared several interesting pieces information about the restoration and what the team had discovered as they began their work. One story was that of Claudine Loisel, a woman whose specialty was glass restoration. Her job was to test the lead levels of the stained-glass windows in the cathedral. What Loisel found was a most pleasant surprise: no lead contamination. The windows had been protected from the fire.

How did this happen? The following excerpt from the article explains that, “[Loisel] told a BBC4 TV documentary…that some of the windows there had not been cleaned for a century, and that dirt may have helped save them from lead contamination in the fire. ‘The first thick layer [of dust] acted as a small layer of protection,’ she explained. ‘So, we just have to remove all these deposits to clean these windows.’”

I must admit that the first thought I had upon reading this was that I had found the best excuse for not washing windows ever. Maybe we underestimated the protective nature of dust. Perhaps my wife’s requests for a total house cleaning are really putting us at risk, while my procrastination and general disdain for wasting a day on cleaning has kept my family safe. Confident in the knowledge that I had discovered something incredibly important, I shared my findings and hypothesis with my wife. She never actually said that she agreed with me, but she did walk away rolling her eyes (undoubtedly because she too realized how much time we have wasted on house cleaning over the years).

All kidding aside, it is amazing how something as insignificant as dust could have protected these irreplaceable pieces of art. As amazing that that is, it is equally ironic that had the cathedral and its staff made any attempt to clean the glass at any time over the past 100+ years, it is very likely that windows would have been lost.

Amidst the beauty of the cathedral, it is easy to forget that this architectural wonder is first and foremost, the house of God. Ministry takes place here and by the power of the Holy Spirit, faith is fostered, and lives are changed. This is a very good thing. Imagine if the work of developing and strengthening faith was completely up to us? Would we be able to do what was necessary to overcome our sinfulness so that we could save ourselves or others? I can only speak for myself, but allow me to put it this way:

I am much better at house cleaning.

As believers, we give thanks to God for the great love He has for us. This is what led Him to send Jesus into our sinful world. He took the heat for our sins, suffering the consequences of our filthy lives on Golgotha’s cross. But just as the beauty of Notre Dame will one day be preserved, we too have had our relationship with God restored because of Christ’s resurrection. The only differences between the two are that Jesus accomplished his restoration work in three days, not the roughly six years that officials are estimating for Notre Dame. Secondly, our restoration in Christ is eternal; a claim no architect or builder could possibly make. Paul reminds us of this promise in the words of 2 Timothy 4:18 where he writes:

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

May we always remember this promise as we live our lives to the glory of our God. May we never choose to let the dust of sin cover the beauty that God created within us to be shared with others seeking His love.

That said, please excuse me. My wife just brought me a mop so I can prove my theory on the kitchen floor.


News Article:

Image Credit: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201904/19/WS5cb932cea3104842260b71ec.html

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Cancellation Policy

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:10-11 (ESV)

I travel a fair amount for work. Typically, I enjoy the trips I take. My travels allow me to see wonderful people and go to interesting places. Plus, by using a little common sense, I plan my trips so that I visit my programs in the southern states during the winter and my northern states in the spring or fall.

Lately, due to the closure of schools caused by the coronavirus, I have had the opportunity to learn about a less exciting part of travel: cancellation policies. Flights, hotel stays, rental cars; all needing to be cancelled. I’ve logged a few hours learning the ins and outs of how to cancel my travel plans. If there is a silver lining in all of this, it would be that the companies I deal with are being very willing to work with me to cancel without penalty.

Except one.

Before I continue, allow me to state for the record that this is not me bashing this company. Their policies are very clear and upfront. I use them because they offer a great level of value, but the downside is they will not work with you to alter your arrangements unless you pay an additional fee for “travel insurance,” which I never do because it usually takes a pandemic to stop me from taking a trip.


Perhaps you have also experienced some cancellations in your life due to the coronavirus. Travel plans gone awry. Birthday or anniversary celebrations put on hold or held via Zoom. Maybe you had plans to have some work done at your house but the company you hired can’t do the work. Add to this the loss of sports, restaurants, bars, theaters, golf courses, shopping malls and church gatherings and suddenly you see that everyone is dealing with some form of a cancellation. In fact, as the church has entered Holy Week, there are some who are bemoaning the cancellation of Easter for the first time in our lifetime. To those people, I have a simple, one-word response:


Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He was born of a virgin. He was true God and true man. He lived a life totally free of sin only to be betrayed, mocked, beaten, and finally executed by crucifixion. Three days later, He proclaimed victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil by rising from the dead. Yet despite having knowledge of this and faith in the salvation He won for us through this sacrifice, some dare to think that Easter is cancelled.

I knew we should have paid extra for the Holiday Insurance!

If I might offer a bit of clarification, it seems to me that for the first time in our lives, we’re dealing with the commercialization of Easter instead of Christmas. Every December we spend time reminding people that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” It’s designed to get us to think less about the presents, trees, lights, ornaments, cookies, pageants, and Santa and more about the birth of our Savior. Well, for many of us this year, we will get to experience a similar phenomenon where Easter will be devoid of egg hunts, bunnies, jellybeans, fancy hats and dresses, big breakfasts and bigger ham dinners. But despite the loss of these things, the tomb will be empty. The debt of our sinfulness will be paid in full by blood of the lamb. Satan’s defeat will be proclaimed in the heavens and the earth, and our coming resurrection remains assured.

Isaiah 55 provides a clear picture of the futility of trying to limit or eliminate the word of God. As our Creator, God’s will can not be denied. Give thanks to Him that because of His great love, we have the assurance that nothing our sinful world throws at us can prevent us from receiving the grace and mercy He bestows upon us.

May God bless you and your Easter celebration. Though it may be simpler than any you’ve ever experienced before, allow yourself the opportunity to focus more clearly than ever on the love that Christ shared WITH YOU on Good Friday and the prize He claimed FOR YOU this Easter morning.

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Routine Maintenance

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42

Most of us have a structured routine when it comes to work. We have an established wardrobe, a usual breakfast and lunch, a regular time to get up, leave the house, and to return home. We take the same route to work, so we learn the traffic patterns. We stop at the same stores for a coffee or soda, so we see familiar people in those places. On the surface, this routine might appear boring and mundane. In truth, our routines provide us a level of comfort that we grow to rely upon. That is why we work hard to maintain our routines every day. Disrupt the routine of our mornings, and it often creates frustration and stress that can carry on throughout the day.

Having established that as a reality, I can imagine that for the people impacted by the shelter in place orders and the closure of school campuses, life has become a new adventure with our routines tossed out the window. The first few days might have been novel, but by now you’ve probably started to grow frustrated by the change to working at home. At work, you have the tools you need and the people in place to get things done. Now, you’re piecemealing it together with your spouse, children, pets, laundry, dirty dishes and that bathroom floor that needs to get mopped all vying for your attention.

At least you’re saving money on gasoline!


Working from home can be frustrating because there’s just so many things to get done. On one hand, you’re at home, so you should have time to get some of those things accomplished. But on the other hand, you’re at work, so you have many other things to do. But you’re not at work, so things that might have gone smoothly in your office or school take longer because you don’t have everything you need within arm’s length.

If I have just described your current situation, I would invite you to take a breath, pause for a moment and remember the story of Martha & Mary from Luke 10. You remember how Martha shared her frustrations with Jesus over her sister’s unwillingness to help her with the many chores that needed to be done. You also remember Jesus’s response to Martha, calmly reminding her of what was more important. “’Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

Martha’s work ethic isn’t a bad thing. Neither is yours. We take pride in the things we accomplish, and for those of us who are serving our children in Lutheran schools, we feel a greater level of importance because we share not only math and reading, but the love of Jesus. This adds pressure to make us feel as though we need to do more to accomplish our goals. Now, when we struggle with changing plans or failing technology or one of the dozens of other things that can go wrong we have all the more reason to throw our hands up in the air and cry out to Jesus for His help.

Of course, you do realize that His message to us will be the same thing He told Martha.

Fact of the matter is that while we do important work, God’s love will be shared with us our without us. His power, His glory, supersedes anything we could dream of doing. It’s important that we remember our role in this grand plan is not only to teach and serve, but to also learn and receive God’s grace and forgiveness.

May the Lord continue to give you peace as you accomplish great things in the lives of those people God has entrusted to your care.

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New Every Morning

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” – Lamentations 3:22-24

I know that many people love winter and the many fun activities that come with it. I am not among that crowd. I tend to fall more in the group of people who start the “First Day of Spring Countdown Clock” sometime in late September. So, I guess you could say that the first day of Spring is a big deal for me.

This year, the joy of that great day was diminished by the global coronavirus pandemic. In many ways, it seems as though it may have been lost on many people that March 19 was the first day of Spring. This is understandable. There are a lot of stressful things happening in the world right now that are giving all of us reasons to be distracted, worried and a bit fearful. But what I find myself thankful for this morning are the little reminders that God has given us that He is still here and will with us to guide us through these difficult days.

I own a puppy whose idea of sleeping in differs greatly from my own. This gives me frequent opportunities to wake up early and greet the coming day in its infancy. This morning, as I opened the door to let her out, she was startled by an unusual noise and didn’t want to move. Knowing she needed to get outside, I decided to step out and face the scary noise with her. Reassured by my presence, she agreed to go out and do her duty in the backyard. So, what was the sinister sound from which I was protecting her? The morning songs of the birds in our maple tree. One cardinal was in a very good mood as he chirped to celebrate the coming of the sunrise.


I laughed as I thought of my dog’s fear of something so harmless and simple, but the more I thought about it, her fear made sense. We adopted her in December. Every morning she has gone out at our house featured the tranquility of winter. She is learning something new about mornings. I am sure that in a day or two, she’ll recognize the chirping as normal and it won’t phase her. But after processing all of this, something finally dawned on me as well.

Spring is here. The birds have returned to their active morning patterns. The sun is rising earlier. The grass is starting to get a bit greener. The trees have buds and the crocuses and daffodils are starting to emerge from the ground. The long winter is coming to an end. Warmth and light are returning.

With that in mind, allow me to share a similar thought as we face the uncertainties of this pandemic. God is here. He always has been. He always will be. For a time, our patterns and routines are going to change for us to stay healthy and safe. But this change, like the winter, is only for a time. Soon we will return to our active patterns. Soon we will be celebrating warmer temperatures, blooming flowers, and the resurrection of the Savior God sent forth to save us from sin and its consequences.

Keep your faith firmly planted in the garden of our Lord. He will keep His promises and will deliver to us the warmth and light we seek in all things.

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Spirit Animals

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” – Psalm 46:1-3 (ESV)

Take a moment and go back with me to a time when life was simpler. Back when toilet paper was in such plentiful supply, we would use it to decorate the trees of our enemies. Back when social media was being utilized for its originally intended purposes: narcissism and political fights. Ah yes, those good old days that we all call……. February.

It’s been a long few weeks.

I hope you will forgive my humor. I don’t mean to make light of our situation. I only wish to point out that not too long ago, our thoughts, plans, and priorities were vastly different. So, while social media has transitioned a bit into a community of people sharing information, humor, and compassion for others, I would enjoy our world returning back to normal and allowing us to go back to online quizzes telling us which member of the cast of a TV show we are based on our birth month and first letter of our last name or which critter is our spirit animal.

That said, perhaps we should look at the spirit animal question more closely.

A spirit animal is a metaphor. We choose them based on perceived character traits that the animal has that we emulate or admire. Are you athletic and fast? You might choose a cheetah. Are you determined and persistent? You could be a turtle. Are you intuitive and wise? You would likely pick an owl. Finally, if you demand constant attention and frequent feedings, you’re a dachshund (sorry, personal observation based on a four-legged member of my family).

Why discuss all of this? It’s because at this moment in history I think we as Christian educators can all relate to two animals whose traits would serve us well: The chameleon and the leopard.

chameleon and leopard

Why a chameleon? I think that’s easy. Chameleons have a unique defense mechanism of changing the color of its body to blend in with its surroundings. This adaptability reflects the mood of the chameleon, and it also helps to protect it from predators.

Why a leopard? Well, it has less to do with the leopard than it does with the common phrase associated with them: “A leopard never changes its spots.” People say this about the leopard to demonstrate how deep down, we can not change who we are.

So, what do you get when you combine a chameleon and a leopard? A ridiculous contradiction! True, but let me explain.

Right now, your profession has you acting like a chameleon. You’ve adapted to a rapidly changing educational landscape. Online platforms, video conferencing, and mailing packets of work have suddenly replaced our classrooms and desks. At least you had a day or two to prepare for this! You have accomplished a tremendous amount in a short time, and you will continue to adapt because your students’ needs demand it. I thank God for you and for your dedication to the ongoing success of your students, no matter what the world throws at you.

But more important than being an occupational chameleon is the need to be a faithful leopard. In a time of travel restrictions, supply shortages, a volatile economy, and shelter in place orders caused by the coronavirus, we must stand firm in the knowledge that God remains in control. Our faith in Him and His promises does not waver. Despite the challenges that we face, God’s love for us remains constant and unchanging. As we adapt to the rapidly changing world in which we live, we cling to the firm foundation that is our God.

May our Father send you the extra measure of strength and perseverance you will need to face each day with renewed faith and purpose, now and always.

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Fear Not, For I am with You

The spread of the corona virus and its impact on society has been like nothing we have seen in our lifetimes. The rapid spread of the virus from its origins in China to what now seems to be every corner of the globe has created a frenzy in the media, a rush to buy certain supplies in our stores, and prompted the closures of many schools and other public buildings. The numbers of people allowed to gather in any one place have been limited and many of our most beloved hobbies and entertainment activities have been suspended or cancelled. Some people seem to be panicky. Others seem blasé about it.


Image Credit: https://www.keckmedicine.org/coronavirus/

There is no shortage of people who are offering advice, predictions, and opinions about this crisis, so I will not join them by telling you what I think about any of this. Instead, I will remind you of the things that we know to be true that will help us maintain our perspective in this most unique of situations.

God is with us. Amid the most difficult of situations, God has been here since before time began. He is here now and will be for eternity. We are His creation, living in a world that He designed. His power is greater than any force on earth. He holds an intimate knowledge of everything in existence on a molecular level. His love surrounds us and provides us with the strength, comfort and peace we need for anything COVID-19 or our sinful world could bring us. God’s words to Isaiah serve as a wonderful reminder of this for us:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 40:10 (ESV)

So, as we face this pandemic we can do so without fear, relying fully on our God whose love for us is greater than anything this world could produce to come against us. Be safe and at peace as we care for one another until the day we return back to normalcy…

and for that matter, for the rest of our lives!

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