Monday, October 31, 2011

Music Teacher Wins One Million Dollars

Brian Kingrey dreamed big the moment he picked up a copy of MLB 2K11.  He had two weeks to prepare himself to pitch the perfect game.  Five hours a day, he used Google to search for stats on baseball pitchers, batters and teams, looking for the right combination.

Funny thing about dreams.  Brian knew he couldn't win unless he gave it a shot.  Brian inspires me to teach others how to hit home runs.  Few believe they belong in the Hall of Fame.  I know I don't.  In fact, no matter how hard we all try, there is no way we will ever earn a place in Heaven, the ultimate dream Jesus talks about with anyone who will listen.

I'm pretty sure Brian and his wife are still pinching themselves about the dream come true.  As wonderful as that one million dollars is, the bigger prize is getting a ticket to Heaven.  You don't have to pay for it.  It's free.  All you have to do is ask.  Invite Jesus into your heart.  This is not a long shot.  All who ask will receive.

Check out Brian's video about how he prepared to pitch the perfect game and don't forget to prepare your heart for Jesus.  He will be there to assist anytime you need a pinch hitter or a good closer in a pressure situation.  With Jesus on your team, all things are possible.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Holding Hands

I don't know much about the ancient couple whose grave was recently discovered. They were buried together 1,500 years ago with their hands clasped.  Someone made a decision to join their hands before sealing up the grave.  What was the inspiration for this?  Were their lives so rosy that others oohed and awed as they giddily pranced through the town with their hands locked together in a death grip?

Another loving couple from my wife's home state of Iowa died within one hour of each other after being injured in a car accident.  They had been married seventy-two years.  Their loved ones thought it best to place them in the same hospital room in intensive care.  Although they were both in comas, their hands were joined together.  The husband died first but his heart appeared to keep beating and no alarms sounded.  The wife's heartbeat showed up on her husband's monitor until it stopped just one hour later.  Click here for a link to the story.

My wife and I were photographed by our daughter.  Every time I hold her hand I get this feeling inside of me everything is okay.  If we were to both leave this world at the same time, this would be my final join our hands together and lay us to rest together.  It's not a symbol of a picture-perfect life.  It's just two people who committed to stay on the roller coaster until the conclusion of the ride.  Lots of highs, wild curves, a few dangerous descents; a ride that takes my breath away every time she holds my hand.  The picture below summarizes my twenty-two years riding the roller coaster while holding my love's hand...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Is There Another Way to Get to Heaven?

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ~ John 14:6

I heard a friend joke about how Jesus noticed some questionable people while walking the Heavenly streets.  He visited Peter who was standing guard at the gate and asked, "Peter, are you checking credentials?  There's some people here who are definitely borderline."

Peter responded, "Don't blame me, Jesus.  It's your mother, she's letting 'em in through the window."

Scripture tells us there is only one way to get to Heaven and that's through Jesus.  Mary is not God, however, as the Mother of God, she plays an important role with her Son.  Jesus is both a servant and a king.  He is human and Divine.  His ways are perfect.  The relationship He has with His mother is meant to be an example for the world.

Mary asked Jesus to help out at the wedding in Cana when the bride and groom ran out of wine.  Jesus told His mother, "my time has not come."

Mary looked at the servants and told them, "do whatever my Son says."

There is much debate among the various denominations about Mary.  Some ask, "why does Jesus need a proxy to intercede on His behalf?"

The answer is that Jesus is perfect.  He doesn't need anyone to get between Him and His people.  Why would Jesus allow "middle men?"

Jesus knew that if He remained on earth, His followers would just watch Him do everything.  Jesus wanted action.  He wanted others to be His hands and feet.  The only follower free from original sin was His mother.  She doesn't have the power to open a window to Heaven for you.  Her role is to point you to the door.  Her Son is the only way to get to Heaven and He will open the door if you knock and ask to enter.

Friday, October 28, 2011


The Bible is loaded with symbolism.  My writing is based on lessons I learn as I dig deep to find the meaning of all those parables.  When Jesus teaches, He uses stories we can relate to so we can get a glimpse of His perspective.

I'm amazed how the younger generation can integrate new computer tools so seamlessly into their lives while my generation takes it's time adjusting to all the new inventions.

The other day, I was playing with the keyboard on my laptop and discovered some new symbols.  They were always at my fingertips, however, like the Bible stories, it took a while for me to decipher them.

Connecting to Jesus allows you to see the world differently.  That 808 you see in my name is really a symbol showing the world I've chosen to connect to Jesus and to others who follow Him.  The zero in the middle is me.  Alone, it has no value.  It's only when the zero connects to the eights that it gains significance.  When the eights are rotated ninety degrees, they represent beginning and no end.  To me, this image looks like the front view of a cargo plane and Jesus is the wings.  The wings are big enough to lift us all up and transport us to Heaven.  Here's what it looks like...


Pick up a Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal clues behind all the symbolism.  It was written for you and you will find the meaning of your life if you commit to understanding how you fit in to God's plan for you.  Connect to Jesus and you will soar to new heights.  I hope you join me inside the cargo plane.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wipe the Slate Clean

Our deepest wounds usually come from those closest to us.  We expect our foes to attack so we keep our guard up.  We are shocked when a loved one says or does something hurtful.  When this happens, our hurt clings to us like a sock on our clothes when we forget to add fabric softener to the laundry.

You can try to pretend you have no static in your life but it won't disappear until you decide to wipe the slate clean.  Think of your hurt as a drawing on an Etch A Sketch.  If you flip it over and shake only partially, the image remains.  Wipe your slate clean...all the way.  Shake it off.  Let go of it.  It helps to let your loved one know about the hurt first so your feedback can help prevent another recurrence.

If you are the one who hurt someone else and you become aware of it, ask them for a clean slate.  If they refuse, move on.  You've done your job and you don't need to feel guilty the rest of your life, especially if what you did was not meant to cause harm. 

If you made a mistake, you are human.  Forgiving is godlike.  When you're having trouble flipping over your Etch A Sketch and shaking it until the hurt is erased, think of what Jesus did when He erased every sin you committed.  Aren't you glad He erased your ugly picture so well that not even His Father remembers what you did?  He erased your sins.  They're gone, completely.  Forever.  Your socks don't stick to you anymore.  Give your neighbor a break and put some Cling Free in your dryer the next time he asks you for a clean slate.  Then, forget about the hurt, forever.  Jesus will do the same for you when you meet Him. He will give you a clean slate if you are willing to do the same for others.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Missing Man Formation

Is there someone special in your life who is missing?  Today's post is dedicated to the lost, the fallen and the hurting.  My thoughts go out to Elliott Fox, our 85-year-old honorary tennis captain who will be unable to accompany us on our quest for the national championships in November.  He is fighting his own personal battle with cancer and other complications and we will miss him at the tournament.  The pain he feels of having to miss being with us outweighs the suffering he is undergoing due to complications with his illness.  He has lost the use of his right hand and strains to send email updates about his progress. 

If you are reading this and you feel you are the one missing in the picture above, my heart goes out to you.  I know this sensation very well.  It's not easy to be the outsider, the outcast who flees into the wilderness.  You want to belong to the team, but somehow, you got a raw deal and the world has left you outside of the formation.

Jesus will never turn His back on you.  He will leave the other ninety-nine to come looking for you.  He inspired me to write this message to you today to let you know how He loves you, perfectly.  Consider this blog your own personal love letter.  Place yourself in the formation, even if you choose to remain stealth to the world. Pick yourself up and soar high above the clouds where you belong.  I give two thumbs up to the Lord when I see my wing man next to me and I promise Him I will not rest until every lost soul takes their place in the formation.  Keep your eyes focused on the Leader of the squadron.  This is His team and you belong here, for eternity.

This is the day the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Empty Seat

If you've suffered the loss of a loved one, you know that empty feeling you get when you sit at the dinner table and see the empty seat in front of you.  I didn't realize how deep this feeling was for me until my daughter returned home for a twenty-four hour visit from college a couple of weekends ago.  How joyful it was to have her back in our presence, even it was only for a brief moment.  For seven weeks, her seat at the table was empty and her separation from the family was difficult.

The strongest motivator for writing this blog is picturing the dinner table in Heaven with all my loved ones gathered around it, hoping there will be no empty seats.  Like my daughter's short visit with us before going back to school, I sense our time on this planet is limited.  I don't want anyone to miss their invitation to the banquet in Heaven.  One empty seat is too many.

Jesus is looking for your R.S.V.P.  Today's blog is your invitation.  Please don't be the empty seat at the table.  I have a sad feeling there are some people close to me who will ignore their invitation to be with Jesus forever.  Will you do your part and ask others to respond to the invitation?  I need your help.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Confessions of a Blog Writer

Today's post is a little embarrassing.  There you are in Russia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or perhaps in the USA, reading these daily blog stories.  I must admit, I'm a bit shocked.  I never expected more than a few relatives to check this site out.

I come from a family of writers, although I never considered myself to be a writer.  Part of me wanted to roll over and go back to sleep the morning I heard that voice in my head prodding me to get up and start a blog.  I admit it, I tried to make the blog name so long and obscure that it would fade away into the blogosphere in a sea of over 200 million other blog writers, all crammed together like a can of sardines.  My stories are like messages in a bottle that float to the ends of the earth and I'm thankful you take the time to open the bottle and read what's inside.

Something happened while my stories drifted in the found me.  Maybe you were looking for "the Yellow Brick Road" or "the meaning of 808?"  You could even be a hiker who lives in my neighborhood, wanting to know more about "the Devil's Punchbowl."  Somehow, you ended up here.  I'm stunned.  I'm also appreciative. 

The One who sent me really doesn't care what you or I think about why we're here.  What's really important is that we discover what He wants us to do with our lives.  My prayer today for you is that maybe one of these stories will inspire you to dig deeper and find the real reason why you are on this planet.  I confess...that's my purpose, to put these messages in a bottle and cast them into the sea every morning at 8:08am.  What's your purpose?  Why are you here?  What are you searching for?  I hope you come back again and share the journey with me.  If you found a message in the bottle and you would like more in the future, please take a moment and sign up to follow this blog.  Look in the right margin for the follow button and sign up using Google Friends.  This will make it easy for you connect with me.  Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tapping Creativity

Your story is swirling around in your head like a washing machine and while you peer through the window, you wonder how on earth all those random thoughts can fit neatly into a book.  Now that my first load of laundry is complete and the clothes are neatly folded and on the shelves, allow me to share the writing process with you.

Creativity is a gift.  At times, it can be a curse if you don't understand it.  I'm left-handed, like my father.  When he was a kid, his teachers used persuasion techniques to convince him to write right-handed.  Dad was more stubborn than his teachers and refused to submit no matter how strong the punishment.  After all, being left-handed was once considered evil.  From that point on, dad became the black sheep of his family and the teacher's premonitions became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I'm sharing today's message from the perspective of being left-handed in a right-handed world.  Only ten percent of the population is left-handed.  That means the right side of the brain is dominant.  I think this gives me an advantage as a writer because my creative side is more developed than the left side of the brain.  Odds are you are right handed.  Please don't assume you lack creativity because your left brain is dominant.  You are born with two brain hemispheres and its up to you to stretch yourself to become the person you were created to be.

Just because you are born to do laundry doesn't mean you will be good at it the first time you load up the washing machine.  You need to learn about the process and keep the machine in good working order.  You will make errors as you tap your creativity.  Sometimes the clothes will come out the wrong size because you used hot water instead of cold.  Other times, when the laundry is mixed, you get the wrong color at the end of the cycle.

Timing is also important in writing.  I do one load of laundry every morning when I first wake up.  These blog stories are like piano scales, they are the warm ups for the concertos.  When I'm developing a chapter for my books, I have a place where I write down my thoughts for the chapter.  I close my eyes and visualize the different scenarios.  My book is written in three time zones, past, present and future.  This makes doing laundry difficult.  I have to picture the order of each load and sort it out.  My secret weapon is the Bible.  It's also written in 3D.  It has a past history and it's loaded with predictions about the future.  The New Testament is written in real time and shows us actual events as they were happening from four different points of view.

The way I do my laundry is just one way and it may not be the best way for you to do yours.  For me, tapping into to the left side of my brain does not come naturally.  I need to work hard on FOCUS.  A set time each day for the undisciplined mind helps me to get the laundry done.  That may be too rigid for you.  Maybe you need to do your laundry when you feel like doing it rather than organizing a set routine.  My advice for tapping creativity is to first determine what excites you to get out of bed and pursue and then pursue it with every ounce of energy you have.  Do your laundry every day and become an expert.  The world will smile and say, "look at those clothes.  I want to dress like that."

Remember, they never need to see your dirty laundry, only the finished product, the result of tapping your creativity.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Preview of "The Caveman in the Mirror ~ A Siritual Reflection", Book #2 in the Series

The countdown ticker you see on the right margin reminds me every day to stay focused on my second book, The Caveman in the Mirror ~ A Spiritual Reflection.  Without self-imposed deadlines, I would never get my big projects done.  The nice benefit of being an independent publisher is the control I have over every aspect of my books including the writing, editing, and cover design.  In about five hundred days, book number two will be released.  My name may appear on the cover, however, I know in my heart I'm really just a middle man.  Long before I was born, my Creator thought of me in His mind.  He made a plan for me which includes the series of books I'm developing.  In essence, I'm discovering what God already conceived and then putting it on paper and in cyberspace.  My job is to unravel God's vision, one puzzle piece at a time.

It usually starts with a glimpse of a picture or a random thought that hits me while I'm commuting to work.  The vision for the front cover is a picture of me wearing a suit and tie.  I'm looking into a full-length mirror and the focal point is the reflection in the mirror.  You can see me from a 3/4 camera angle shot from behind me.  The image in the mirror is a scruffy-looking caveman with a gangly frame and overgrown unkempt hair.  His eyes are dazed and he appears disoriented as he stares down his preppy alter-ego.  This caveman is a look into my soul from God's point of view.  The well-dressed man looking into the mirror is what the world sees.  The book is about what happens when the reflection in the mirror encounters Jesus.  When the caveman meets Jesus, everything changes.

The artist painting this picture doesn't know she will be helping the couple who breathed life into my first book.  I've already seen samples of her work and she is a perfect addition to my creative team.

The book is an introspection of my own life.  To write it, I first turned to the Holy Spirit and asked Him to show me who I am in God's eyes.  Peering into the mirror is like having some sort of spiritual X-ray vision.  Because the Holy Spirit is allowing me to see what God sees, my vision has a 3-D aspect that is outside time and space boundaries.  Somehow, while I look at myself in the mirror, I can see the past, present and future in one image.  The book is all about the image in the mirror and what happens when God reveals Himself to the caveman.  You, the reader holding the book in your hands or viewing the image from your Kindle are the most significant part of the front cover.  You are part of the future.  When you read the book, you will see how we are connected to one another and to God.

I have about five hundred days to put the pieces of this second puzzle together.  Thanks for visiting my sandbox today.  I really like sharing my writing experiences with you.  Come back again for a progress report.  I'm hoping that my writing journey can be interactive, like visiting a microbrewery.  You get to visit during the writing process and at the end of the tour you can take home a finished product.  Email me if you have any questions about this project.  Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Bible for Dummies

If reading the Bible leaves you dumbfounded, you are not alone. ~ Michael Mulligan

Please don't be offended by the title of today's post.  I'm mainly referring to myself and my feeble attempts to understand the meaning of all those ancient stories.  If you're one of those Mensa people who stood in line for seconds when God was passing out brains, you're probably not paying much attention to my simple-minded anecdotes.  Today's message is for those who may have trouble figuring out what the Bible is all about.  The bottom line is that God is trying to reach you.  He wants you to know how special you are in His eyes.  It's the greatest love story ever told.  No wonder it's an all-time best seller.

The Bible is like a giant roller coaster ride.  It commences with the construction of the roller coaster in Genesis, the first book.  Adam and Eve are the first to get a free ticket and the ride begins at the peak.  They sit there admiring the view from the top and the ride isn't moving.  Life is nirvana.  A snake sneaks aboard and convinces the couple to eat an apple, something not allowed while riding the coaster.  As soon as they eat the fruit, they open their eyes and discover they're on the roller coaster naked.  Before they can put some clothes on, the ride jolts forward and the rapid descent makes them want to vomit.  That's the end of chapter one.

In chapter two, Exodus, all the kids are stuck in jail.  Along comes a guy named Moses who thought he was in charge of the prisoners.  Turns out Moses belongs with the captives.  He has trouble sorting things out and ends up getting in a big showdown with the Pharaoh.  Things between Moses and the Pharaoh escalate and Moses wins.  The kids escape Egypt but they're not happy when the food and water run out.  They get mad at Moses and turn away from God.  God punishes them and gives them a time-out in the desert....for forty years.

In the third chapter, Leviticus, the kids learn how to behave.  There's lots of rules about how to prepare food and how to live.  Most of this is to get the kids ready for a new King.

The rest of the Old Testament is about the new King coming.  The kids keep getting in trouble and they can't wait for this new King to wipe out all their enemies.  The prophets keep telling the kids about the new King.

In the New Testament, the King arrives, although He's not what the kids expected.  The roller coaster ride continues and the new King invites a bunch of rift-raft to get on board.  The kids get mad because they always believed it was their roller coaster.  They are so mad at the King that they get Him crucified.  On the third day, the King is resurrected.  Some see Him and some don't.  The whole town goes into a frenzy.  After forty days, the King disappears into the sky.  Before He leaves, He tells the kids He will come back.  He promises to send them a gift and asks them to wait patiently on the roller coaster until they receive it.

On the fiftieth day, the gift comes roaring in, almost blowing down the whole roller coaster.  Some of the kids are so moved that they jump off the ride and search for anyone who will listen to them as they talk about the King returning.  Thousands hear the Good News and ask to board the roller coaster.  The kids are angry because they really don't want to share the ride with anyone else.  The roller coaster is for all people.  No matter where you come from or what you've done, you belong on the ride.  The King bought your admission ticket and He paid for it with His life.  There will never be enough money in your bank account, even if you're Bill Gates, to purchase a ticket.  Everyone riding the roller coaster is asked to invite others to ride along.  It's not easy, but the Spirit nudges us to invite our enemies to ride next to us.  Failure to do this can get you kicked off the ride.

The last chapter is a Revelation about how the ride ends.  In the final part, the roller coaster almost gets destroyed.  There's a big fight and lots of people get killed.  At the end of the ride, the King returns and the ride stops at the top of the roller coaster where it all began with Adam and Eve.  The kids in the car recognize the King even though they didn't see Him the first time.  The fighting ends and the King remains with the children for a thousand years.  All the people who made fun of the roller coaster disappear.  According to the last chapter, they are sent to a place where the weather is a little on the hot side.

The moral of the story is that you belong on the roller coaster.  At times the ride will get bumpy.  Stay buckled in.  Ask others to ride with you and don't pay attention to the people who make fun of you for wanting to keep riding.  Wait for the King to come back.  If the rides gets a little scary, it's a sign that He will be back soon.  When He returns, the ride will come to a stop and everyone on board will be free at last.  No more fighting, no more hunger, no more problems.  And the view will be Heavenly, at least for the people who remained on the ride.  Jesus is calling you right now to jump on the roller coaster and he will be with you through all the ups and downs.  Hold on to Him.  He will never let go.  He loves you such much that He died for you. You are more precious to Him than silver or gold.  He loves you perfectly.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Change Your Deodorant

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~ Albert Einstein

Have you ever been in a situation where your persuasion skills seem inadequate?  The response you get from your customer, friend, or loved one is so negative you feel like maybe you need to change your deodorant.  Don't laugh...the solution does involve a change in your approach, especially if you need to deal with this person on multiple occasions.   It's as simple as changing your deodorant.

If you bombed on the first attempt, try something new to avoid rejection.  Take a look at this...

Attempt #1.  "Can you please take out the trash?"

Response..."I'm busy, I'll get to it."

Attempt #2.  "I'm really excited to watch the Chargers play today, however, we can't get to the game until your chores are complete.  Do you want to start with the trash?"

Response... "I'm on it.  Can you make the popcorn while I take out the trash?"

The easiest way to get another person to say yes to you is to prepare yourself properly.  Think about how the yes will benefit the other person and ask your questions from their point-of-view.  If there's a win for the other person, they're more likely to say yes to your appeal.

I'm using this little morsel when I speak with my bank today (for the gazillionth time)...

"Mr. banker, I understand you feel the last offer you rejected was below your expectations.  I agree with you about the worth of my home.  I do believe it's much more valuable than what buyers are offering.  Unfortunately, our opinions don't match up with the market conditions which are free-falling.  By saying no to the offer you have in front of you today, you may end up saying yes to a much lower offer sometime in the future.  How do you feel your investor will react if that happens?"

Remember, even the toughest people said yes to somebody.  If they are married, they accepted a marriage proposal.  If they own an automobile, they said yes to a big ticket purchase.  Change your deodorant by asking your questions differently.  Don't ever give up.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Little Faith

 He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." ~ Matthew 17:20

How are you doing in the walking on water and moving mountains department?  The last time I checked, my mountains were still in my way and I was underwater enough times to consider a new career with the Navy Seals.  Every time I say, "get behind thee, Satan,"  He thinks we're playing leapfrog and He jumps over me.  I really despise His annoying games, especially when He passes gas while flying over me, leaving behind a smell of rotten eggs that makes my stomach turn.  He may think He's funny, however, every time He reminds me of my past, I remind Him of His future.  The One I follow will get the last laugh.

Searching for my little mustard seed is like following a trail of bread crumbs.  The problem is all the birds keep eating the bread crumbs and I'm not sure which way to go.  I wonder, did God send the birds on purpose?  While I grapple with these thoughts, I think of all the times Jesus told his followers, "your faith has healed you."

Faith is not something you can purchase at  Faith is clearing a space for God inside your own heart, a place where you give God permission to plant an eternal seed.  As this seed matures, the mountains you will move are the hearts of those around you.  Ask Jesus for a little faith and He will give it you.  It comes in handy when there's no bread crumbs to follow.  Don't worry, Jesus can lead you on the right path.  He could do it blindfolded.  Trust Him. Follow Him.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22

V-neck sweaters were in style when I was about ten years old.  My grammy told me about little Johnny's shopping experience with his mother.  Everywhere Johnny went, he refused to try on a V-neck.

"What's the problem with a V-neck?"  his tired mother asked.

"Teacher was wearing a V-neck sweater when she dropped her pencil in class," Johnny replied..."and when she bent over to pick it up, one of her lungs fell out."

Every time my grammy visited, she had a mouthful of jokes.  When I became an adult, I tried my best to get serious and my wife and I agreed it was best to bottle up my funny bone and store it away in a wine cellar.  After letting this bottle age for several decades, we decided it was time to pop the cork.

Sometimes you have to laugh at life.  It throws sucker punches.  When life knocks you down, you need to get back on your feet and fight back. Dig deep.  Take a trip to your wine cellar and find the vintage you that you've been hiding from the world.  Uncork that bottle and pour yourself a little bubbly. Don't forget to share it with others.  I promise you, from now on, I will no longer bottle up my effervescent thoughts.  Like it or not, my funny bone has been uncorked.  Cheers!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Soul Mate

This week, two different people in my life quoted from the movie, "Eat, Pray, Love," starring Julia Roberts.  I didn't read the book and only saw the movie because my wife prodded me... and she had popcorn.  My fascination with language and new words pulled me into the movie and I grabbed onto "attraversiamo," something Italians say before crossing the street, meaning, "let's cross over."

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author behind the bestseller, offers insight designed to make us think about our own lives and the journey we are embarking upon.  Read her quote below and ponder the lesson...

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.

A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master...”

―Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Around the Campfire

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

The men's camping trip and retreat is fast approaching, November 11-13.  Last night, a couple more ideas popped into my head and now I'm ready to share some thoughts related to all three themes.  The goal of our gathering is to share time together in an effort to become better husbands and better dads.

Anything shared during the campfire talks will be considered confidential in order to protect privacy.  I'm looking forward to learning from my peers.  It's a good idea to get in touch with nature and change up the routine.  Would you mind praying for this group?  Specifically, I'm requesting prayers for good weather and for the Holy Spirit to touch our lives in a special way as we gather together.  Thank you.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

When Will My Flower Bloom?

 "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."~ William Shakespeare

There you lie, buried in the garden.  All around you, colorful plants are sprouting like weeds.  Onlookers stop to smell the sweet fragrance of their flowers while you remain hidden and unnoticed.  You question your own existence and maybe even feel a little jealousy creeping inside.  Stop worrying... your day will come when you germinate.

Your seed is like no other and the timing of your bloom is dependent on many factors, some within your control and some not.  Concentrate on the things you have control over, like getting an education, nutrition, and exercise.

You have no control over the type of seed you are.  Either you are male or female.  Stop trying to make yourself into a rose if your seed is a daffodil.  Focus on being the best daffodil you can be.  Your season will come.  The garden is beautiful because of the variety and without you, something would be missing.

Be patient.  Appreciate all the plants surrounding you.  Some sprouting ahead of you will provide you with shade.  The fragrance of their flowers will fill the air with a sweet aroma.  When you emerge, the other plants will cheer your arrival in the garden and visitors will say, "wow, look at this special plant.  I've never seen anything like this in the garden.  I think I'll pick it and bring it home with me for my family to admire."

Today's message is in honor of my mother, born on this day.  The day her flower bloomed, angels could be heard singing, "Gloria."  Happy birthday, Mom.  Thanks for nurturing your little seedlings, even when others thought we were only weeds.  You taught us, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tracing Our Roots

My cousin Mary is putting together a treasure chest of old family photographs from the generations who came before us on my father's side.  She inspired me to search for my ancestors.  The internet makes tracing our roots possible.  In a few hours, I was able to find an ancestor born just two years after our country was founded.  My grandfather with four greats in his name, John William McCauley, married Nancy O'Donnell and she bore a son on the northern coast of Ireland.   Their son left Europe and started a new life as a distiller, hotelkeeper, laborer, and clerk.   He came over in a boat to settle in Pennsylvania in the early 1800's.  John's future wife, Mary Ann Slater, also came to the new world from Ireland.

I found other relatives with roots in Germany and Canada.  It was fun to put the family tree together and discover the cities and towns where these distant relatives once lived.  The Mulligans in my past crossed the Canadian border in 1889, the same year North Dakota became a state.  They settled in the town of Langdon, North Dakota, just sixteen miles south of Canada.

My mother's side of the family is more difficult to follow.  I remember my grandmother telling me there was a French soldier in our family who served in the military when France invaded Mexico.  That may partially explain my blue eyes.  Not much else is known about my family on my mother's side except that my Grandpa escaped to the United States during the Mexican Revolution.

Tracing my roots has given me a new appreciation for my life.  If you are interested in learning about your ancestors, you have many tools at your fingertips.  May you find joy as you discover where you came from.

On a special note, I would like to say a special happy birthday to my godson, Nico, who is celebrating his special day today.  I can't wait to see you and give you a big hug.  Happy birthday to you!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Good Work in You

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 1:6

The day Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer, passed away, a friend posted a commencement speech Steve gave in 2005 at Stanford University.  The video is posted at the end of today's message.  The speech addresses his battle with pancreatic cancer.  Jobs felt that confronting his own mortality pushed him to fulfill his potential.

Long before you were born, the Creator delighted in the thought of you.  Sometimes, it's easy to forget just how much you are valued in God's eyes.  There is a good work in you and this masterpiece is incomplete.  You have more trials to face and more learning ahead.  Trust God that your life is valuable and it has a purpose.  That good work will be carried to completion.

Steve Jobs walked twelve miles once a week just to get a good meal.  He dropped out of college so his parents wouldn't spend their entire life savings on him.  He was fired from his own company.  He battled cancer.  When he departed this world, he left it better than when he entered it.

Have hope that the good work in you will be carried to completion.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


When you carry the Bible, Satan gets a headache. When you open it, he collapses. When he sees you reading it, he faints. When he sees you living it, he flees. And just when you are about to repost this, he’ll try to discourage you. ~ Anonymous

Have you ever noticed how your shadow becomes more visible as the lights of center stage grow brighter?  Those "lights" may include popularity, recognition, success and power.  As you climb the ladder of success, your shadow also increases in size.

There are two dangers in estimating the size of your own shadow.  Underestimating, or failing to acknowledge the shadow exists, allows your dark side to throw sucker punches capable of knocking you out.  Overestimating your shadow leads to fear of confronting life's challenges.

Appreciate the "source" of the light shining upon you.  Everything good comes from the light.  God said, "let there be light."  He is the source.  As long as you focus your eyes on the light, your shadow will always be behind you and it cannot harm you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Real American Dream

Mortgage companies did a good job of selling their products by convincing us the American dream is all about home ownership.  As home prices plummet, that dream looks more like a nightmare to millions.  The thirty year loan is like a rope around our necks tied to an anchor; cutting the chord requires the skills of a Houdini. 

The real American dream is freedom.  My heart goes out to those in lands far off where freedom is only a hope.  People are forced to follow the religion of their leaders or face execution.  In America, all are welcome.  Our leaders may not be popular, however, they are elected by the people and they can be replaced if they do not reflect the will of the people.

Appreciate your freedom.  Pray for those who live under oppression.  May they one day live the dream we sometimes take for granted in America.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cling to God

Anything you cling to in this world will lead you to a false sense of security.  Your money, your possessions, even your own life is at risk of loss at any moment.  Is there anything worth clinging to when the storms come?

Jesus teaches us to cling to Him.  He has the power to take away the storms, however, He probably will not intervene except to give you comfort.  He knew His Father would not come down from Heaven and rescue Him from death on the Cross.  His death opened the door for us to cling to His Father.  He broke the barrier. 

Let Jesus be the foundation you build your home upon.  Allow His Holy Spirit to enter the windows to your soul.  Pray often and build a relationship with Jesus.  Cling to Him all the days of your life.  When you are too weak to hold on to Him, He will wrap His arms around you.  No matter what's going on in your life, He will never let go.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Open Door or Closed?

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. ~ Revelation 3:8

One of the greatest challenges in life is discerning which door to go through.  Companies are closing doors and sending jobs oversees.  Banks are shutting downs lines of credit.  I admit it's hard to find an open door when so many seem to be bolted shut.

When the apostle Paul spread the Good News to places far off,  he was told by the Holy Spirit to stay out of Asia.  At the time, Turkey was considered part of Asia and it's door was locked shut.  We will never know why God locked Paul out.  A new door was opened to what is now modern day Europe.  Paul's mission of telling others all the good that Jesus does for us was a huge success.  He found the open door and blazed through it.

What do you do when you face a locked door?  There are two things to consider.  The first is a lesson in perseverance.  If you stop knocking too soon, the person on the other side may not have enough time to answer it and you may miss out on a great opportunity.  It may mean you need to hone your skills before God thinks you're ready for your door to be opened.

The second possibility relates to opportunities you may not see because you are so focused on opening the locked door when an open one is just beyond your view.  Ask God to point you to the right door.  If you are in front of the correct door and no one is answering, ask God to give you the key.  If you are on the right path, the Evil One will do everything to lock you out.  The power of the Holy Spirit will keep the proper doors open for you to do God's will.  Keep knocking and never give up.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Is God Calling You?

I'm going on a special camping trip in thirty days with a group of men from my church.  My buddy, Pat, asked me to share a few experiences with the group while we are out in the wilderness.  We met last Thursday with our pastor to put an outline together and we decided on three main themes.  Today's blog is about the first theme... God calling you.  Will you walk with me today as I turn to the Bible for answers?

At 4:30am, random thoughts started popping into my head about being called...  I recalled Adam hiding from God in the Garden.  He and his wife had eaten the fruit of the one tree forbidden by God and discovered he was naked.  God called out and asked, "Adam, where are you?"

That's an odd question for God to ask since He already knows everything.  God asks the question, not for His benefit, but for Adam's.  It's important to note that God is seeking Adam even though Adam is not obeying God.

The second random thought that hit me was a song...

The third thought was a recollection of my experience meeting Jesus while reading the Bible.  Jesus revealed to me He was searching for me even though I was trying to hide in a remote town.  Like Adam, I allowed my demons to distract me from God's plan.  Read Luke 8:26-40 for the complete story of a man possessed by demons who meets Jesus and becomes a new creation.  He recognizes God is calling him and he discovers his purpose.

I visualized the men from my church sitting in a circle and listening to my naked caveman story.  Like me, that nagging question is probably bouncing around in their heads..."Why am I here?"  The Bible verses flood my brain...

1 Samuel 3...The Lord calls out to Samuel while he is sleeping and Samuel replies, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

Revelation 3:20...Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Isaiah 43:1-7...

1 But now, this is what the LORD says—
   he who created you, Jacob,
   he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
   I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
   I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
   they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
   you will not be burned;
   the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
   Cush and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
   and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
   nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
   I will bring your children from the east
   and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
   and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
   and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
   whom I created for my glory,
   whom I formed and made.”

It's now 6:23am and the blog message is complete. The next step is to create a two minute talk calling out to the men in my church and make the announcement after our church service is over tomorrow morning.  I will ask each member to examine his heart and ask himself, "is God calling me to go on this camping trip?"

Thank you for walking with me today.  If you have a favorite Bible quote showing you how God is calling you, please email it to me and I will pass it along on the camping trip. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ramona Christian Writers Critique Group Celebrates 25th Book

My writers group celebrated it's twenty-fifth book with the addition of Annette Williams.  Her book, "Breaking the Chains of the Occult and Pharmakeia (Modern Medical Practices)," is now available on  Annette attended a self-publishing workshop sponsored by Byron Mettler, another member of the group, and decided to co-write the book with her husband, Dewayne.

"I was surprised to learn I could publish my own book using Createspace for only $39," Annette told the group as she passed around a copy.  The couple plans to use the book as part of their seminar program where they are involved with His Dwelling Place Ministries.

Joining a writers group is an important step in the publishing process.  Each writer is responsible for critiquing the manuscripts, one chapter at a time.  By the end of this year, every member of the group will cross the finish line and become a published author.

Welcome aboard, Annette.  You are the tenth member of a special group of people and your presence is a gift.  You remind us that everyone has a story to tell.  If you are reading today's message and you are interested in sharing your story, I would like to hear from you.  Send me an email and I will point you to some excellent resources to get you started.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Back From The Dead

The video below shows a man coming back to life after being pronounced dead.  Check it out...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Are you sick and tired of getting the same poor results every day?  You look around you and nothing ever changes.  Try a new approach.  Instead of complaining about the garbage in your life, take a look at what your eating.  I'm not talking only about food here.  Besides the junk food you're eating every day, examine all those negative thoughts you're feeding your brain.

Your brain is like a smart phone.  You need to program the contact list and tell your brain where you want to go.  Don't blame your brain if you are lost.  Your brain is waiting for you to change your attitude.  Once you start feeding your brain positive thoughts, eat healthier, and commit to some exercise, your brain will stop giving you garbage.

If you've been feeding your brain garbage all your life, don't expect the garbage to disappear immediately.  You need to commit to changing your life.  Give yourself thirty days before you will notice small changes.  Build on your successes and keep those positive thoughts coming.  You deserve a better life.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Stumbling, Bumbling, and Blundering

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
~ Romans 5:3

I often laugh at the contrasts in my life.  In some areas, I've been blessed beyond measure.  I couldn't have a more loving wife than my bride of twenty-two years and our children bring us so much joy as we discover their uniqueness.

The day I asked Jesus to move into my heart, everything changed... almost everything.  There was one thing I held onto, probably due a sense of financial insecurity.  When you live through times of scarcity, you tend to hold on to material things with a death grip, fearing you may not be able to put food on your table.

I told Jesus, "you are in charge of my life; I will do anything you ask except the money part.  I have my own great plan for my retirement."

Over the years, I worked long hours in order to build my nest egg.  My investments included commercial real estate, four-plexes and aggressive growth stocks.  I even borrowed money from credit cards at 0% interest to buy the hottest stocks of the day.  My work friends made fun of me because I commuted to work in a dilapidated car that looked like it belonged in a junk yard.  I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches daily so that I could put the savings into my investments.

The only time I consulted Jesus was when my investments got in trouble.  I never really liked talking to Jesus about money because of things he told the rich men who came to him for advice.  He told them, "sell everything and follow me."

My life without Jesus in charge of my money can be described using three words...stumbling, bumbling, and blundering.  One day, I sat down with my wife and pointed out to her every area of our lives is filled with peace and happiness, except for our finances.  I asked her, "do you think it would be a good idea to give Jesus our money?"

She bit her tongue.   There could have been a bunch of responses such as, "I told you so," or, "it's about time."

I looked her in the eyes and admitted we were handing over a stack of bills and very few assets.  I don't expect the stumbling, bumbling and blundering to disappear overnight as Jesus has much work to do in this part of my life, however, my heart is at peace knowing my life is now 100% in God's hands.  All you have to do is invite Jesus into your heart and let Him be in charge...of everything.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Encounter, a Movie Review

My youngest son was flipping through the Netflix movie selections on Friday evening and said, "hey, dad, this one looks's about somebody who acts like Jesus."

My son normally goes for the action thrillers, especially movies about war.  Before he could move on to another choice, I yelled, "sounds like a good one, let's check it out."

In the opening scene, a young teenager is flagging down cars and nearly gets run over.  She is angry nobody will stop.  The other drivers who neglected to help her end up in a diner after discovering the road has been closed.  The man inside the diner offers each "guest" a free meal of their choice served exactly the way they like it.  In addition to the free food, he offers ideas to help the stranded travelers find their way.

I give this movie five stars.  "The Encounter" is a modern day look at life from God's point of view.  Bruce Marchiano plays Jesus.  Make sure to see this movie with the whole family and recommend it to your friends.  I sent Bruce an email after we finished watching the movie and asked him to do an interview for my blog, "Free Lemonade Stories."  He has a vision not only for portraying Jesus on the big screen, but also for sharing Him in places around the world where He is unknown.

Here is a link to the movie trailer.  Support this ministry and show Hollywood you support wholesome family movies with messages of hope...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lights, Camera, Jesus

 For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:2

There's a lot of hoopla about signs of the end times.  The first followers of Jesus were pretty sure He would be back soon.  Some felt the World Wars were signs Jesus was about to return.  Jesus told His disciples that He would come like a thief in the night.

There are 365 references in the Bible predicting God's plans to save us.  Click here for a complete list.  Every one of these prophecies were fulfilled through Jesus.  He promised His followers He would return.  There is no evidence anywhere that Jesus ever told a lie.

Jesus doesn't want us to be concerned about the exact hour and day He will return.  It's more important for us to keep watch.  If we knew the exact day of His Second Coming, we would probably fail to be vigilant.

Today is a great day to start preparing for the Second Coming.  When the Father is ready to send His Son, Heaven will hear Him say, "Lights, Camera, Jesus."  The sky will light up all over the world, cameras will broadcast His return, and the world will see Jesus.  Are you ready?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Jesus Can Clean You Up

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” ~ Luke 5:31-32

My Irish ancestors on my dad's side of the family came to this country in search of a better life.  On my mother's side, it was her father who crossed the border in order to escape the Mexican Revolution.  Most of us in this country are here because those who came before us dreamed of a better life.

Two thousand years ago, people had similar dreams of escaping bad situations.  A few were brave enough to fight the crowds, just to get a shot at touching Jesus and becoming healed.  At times, Jesus showed his followers it was more important to help others than it was to follow rules.

I can relate to these lost people who turned to Jesus for help.  Jesus had a way of seeing through the walls people put up to hide dark secrets.  When Jesus met the woman at the well, He told her He knew the man she was living with was not her husband.  He mentioned she had five husbands.  It's probable the whole town knew this woman was a sinner.  That's why she went to the well for her water at an irregular time so she could avoid people.  Her people weren't on good terms with the Jews.  Jesus didn't care about this.  Instead, He focused on helping a woman who was lost.

Do you want Jesus to reveal Himself to you?  He will give you so much more than water at a well.  He told the woman He could give her living water, something that would last forever.  He gives this freely to anyone who asks.  If you think you're healthy, you won't ask a doctor for help.  If you won't admit you've strayed, you won't ask Jesus to give you the living water you need.

The woman who met Jesus at the well is like the naked caveman in the story of Luke.  Both needed healing and Jesus went out of His way to find them and cleanse them.  Once they were touched by Jesus, they spent the rest of their lives telling others about all the good Jesus had done for them.

Would you like some living water?  Tell Jesus you're sorry for your mistakes and ask Him to forgive you.  Invite Him into your heart and get ready for a new life.  All you have to do is ask and you will receive.