There and Back Again

Today is my first day back from our annual family vacation and I feel great though I am having a hard time getting back into the swing of things. As my mind shifts between reflecting on my time away and my work for the day I am filled with joy and thankfulness.

Our vacation was 15 days and we traveled and/or stayed in 14 states covering a total of 4,239.5 miles. We stayed with friends that we have not seen in years and best of all I had an abundance of time to spend with my wife and children.

It was an amazing experience and we marveled at the beauty and diversity of God’s creation. We visited with good friends from Alliance Bible Church in McHenry, IL, visited with others at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and ate the best pizza in the world at Lou Malnati’s.

We saw friends in South Bend, IN, Knoxville, TN and visited the Creation Museum. We stayed in Orlando, FL and experienced sensory overload at the Magic Kingdom of Disney. Also enjoyed a few days in a cabin in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee with three other couples we went to Grad School with. 8 adults and 11 children 6 and under made for a great time and a lot of noise.

One of the highlights was spending time with Dr. John and Peggy Nyquist in Alabama. I was blessed to be John’s Grad Assistant at TEDS. It is great to have friends that you can pick up with right where you left off. I am thankful for the influence Dr. Nyquist was and is in my life.

Another personal highlight was overcoming a great fear I carried for many years. 12 years ago I was swimming in the ocean with a friend and we got caught in a wicked riptide. Exhausted I treaded water and went under to rest pushing myself back up to the surface for air.  I remember very clearly the moment I came up for what I believed was my last look at the world. I broke the surface and prayed Lord Jesus here I come. I took a final breath and went under the water. With my last bit of strength I made my way to the surface one last time. As I broke the surface a man grabbed me and pulled me into shore. There he left me exhausted laying in a heap on the beach thanking the LORD for life. As I recovered I looked for the man but he was gone. I could not tell you anything about him other than he saved my life.

12 years past and I never went near the ocean. Sunday June 17, 2012 we went to Coco Beach for a day in the sun after church with a group of friends. This was my chance! I spend hours in the water and even got a 1 mile open water swim in. It was great to overcome that fear.

Well those are my thoughts for now. Back to work on a new sermon series we are launching this Sunday. I love that job is to know God and to make him known.

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
(Psalm 28:7 ESV)


New Adventures

Last year at this time I weighed 275 lbs and was going in the wrong direction. I was beginning to move from a XXL to a XXXL and I had a 44 inch waist. A number of things caused me to consider getting serious about losing some weight, but it was seeing myself in this picture that spurred me to action:

So I went to work and by the end of the year I had lost 75 lbs. My body went through some pretty serious transformation and adjustment. My shirt size is now L and I am wearing 34 jeans.

I also began running last fall competing in the Turkey Run 5K on Thanksgiving. As I got involved in exercising I gain a new group of like minded friends and ended up joining the Brainerd Lakes Multisport club.

I have run a few races – Run for the Lakes Half Marathon, Moose Run 10 K, and the Tough Mudder 12 mile obstacle course. I am loving my knew healthy lifestyle and the disicpline that I have gain in my weight loss journey has transfered into other areas of my life.

I am currently training for my first Triathlon, Tri for a Cause, and looking forward to the Lakes Country Triathlon in August.

I thank the LORD for motivating me to be a wise steward of all that he has given me including my body. I want to bring glory to him in all things and don’t want to be disqualified because I have not cared for my physical health.

I am excited for the new adventure of being a triathlete. For now I am just training to be one, but come July 21, Lord willing, I will officially become a triathlete.

Asher running to the finish line with Dad at the Run for the Lakes in April 2012

Food For Thought:

Here are a few links to stir you to think and laugh!

Good News vs. Good Advice: Do you know the difference between News and Advice?

What Every Husband Should Know About Stay At Home Moms: Being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) is far more than a long workweek. It’s life; we can’t just clock out after 55 hours of work. Every husband should know that stay-at-home moms wage epic battles against chaos.

Better Performance – Shorter Workouts: The new 10-20-30 training concept can improve both a person’s running performance and health, despite a significant reduction in the total amount of training. This is the conclusion of a study from University of Copenhagen researchers just published in the renowned scientific Journal of Applied of Physiology.

Encourage your Pastor: Members of a local church often desire to encourage their pastor and do so in a variety of ways.  However, fewer think to encourage the pastor’s family and if they do think about it, struggle with how to do so.  If you are someone who desires to encourage not just your pastor, but his family also, fret no more!

Worst Church Singer Ever! Ever!



I’m against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old and fistless and footless and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition! ~ Billy Sunday

The Voice of Jesus: Jesus and the Spirit

“To discern is to make a distinction between

the voice of Jesus and those competing voices that invariably speak in our hearts and minds. Sometimes these voices are noting more than our own inner emotional turmoil; sometimes the voices we hear are the spoken and unspoken expectations of others; and there is no doubt that sometimes we come fact to face with the subtleties of the evil one.” p. 12 The Voice of Jesus: Discernment, Prayer and the Witness of the Spirit by Gordon T. Smith

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,  having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. ~ HEBREWS 1:1-4

Every true Christian has a desire to hear the voice of Jesus direct and instruct them through the mess that we live in, and lead us to the rest we are promised. Jesus’ sheep hear his voice, but they also hear other voices and often listen to the wrong one.

One of the great needs of Christians today is to cultivate and exercise the spiritual discipline of discernment. We need to hear the inner witness of the Spirit in our souls, but again there are competing voices crying out to us to go this way and that.

Smith argues that we need to be a community that intentionally responds to the inner witness of the Spirit and I couldn’t agree more. But how can we become more attentive to the Holy Spirit?

In order to hear the voice of Jesus we must hear the inner witness of the Spirit. In order to hear his voice and distinguish it from the competing voices we must exercise discernment.

I appreciate Smith’s definition of life: “This is life: an intentional response to the voice of Jesus, a voice that comes through the presence of the Spirit. Discernment is the discipline of attending to this presence and responding to this leading.

Smith notes that discernment is only possible if we pay attention to at least four dynamic tensions.

  1. Divine initiative and human response.
  2. The context of our lives and the particularity of the voice of Jesus.
  3. The voice of Jesus in prayer and in the world.
  4. The individual and the community.

I also appreciated Smith’s continual pointing to the authority of the Scripture in listening to and discerning the inner witness of the Spirit.

“Further, we cannot develop our intuitive capacity to recognize the inner witness unless we are women and men who are immersed in Scripture so that the contours of our hearts and minds are ordered and enabled by the Word.

The inner witness of the Spirit is the personalization or application of the written witness to our lives. It is the ancient Word that now takes form in our lives, in this time and place, in this set of circumstances. The inner witness of the Spirit is the necessary complement to the Scriptures, without which the Bible is but an ancient book.”  p.31

The same Spirit who inspired the Scriptures will bring them to light and life within us. The Spirit will give us all that we need to apply the truth of the Scriptures in each and every situation. This will lead us down an adventurous road of sanctification. When you take Jesus seriously and truly start to hear his voice amazing things will unfold in your life. People around you may think you are fanatical, but I can not think of anything better to be fanatical about than Jesus.

to be continued…

Food For Thought

Let these spur you to deeper thought and laughter

5 Secrets Pastors Refuse to Tell:

By their very nature, pastors are a confidential lot. They counsel numbers of people who share their deepest secrets and problems. They know things about families that could hurt and embarrass them if they shared information freely. So pastors tend to keep secrets and confidential information well.  But most people don’t realize pastors have their own secrets. These spiritual leaders refuse to share their thoughts or pains for fear that their own ministries will be damaged.

The Seduction of Pornography: I am often asked why I post so many things about pornography addiction. The reason is because I have found in my experience discipling men that pornography is the biggest snare of the devil that men fall into. We must win this battle and we can!

7 Ways to Get You Super Focused: Unfortunately, I live in the same distracting world you do, where multiple voices compete for my attention. I’ve gone through days when I didn’t accomplish a single thing on my to-do list. Yet, somehow I was busy the entire time!


I Bet You Can Not Watch The Whole Thing!