Saturday, March 13, 2010

New Blog

I'm no longer using this blog. Please check out my new blog at

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Cross then the Crown - Part 2

Sorry it's taken so long to bring you part 2 of this series. Things have been pretty crazy in my life. I had the contents of this post written at the same time as the previous post, but the Lord in His mercy allowed me experience some personal suffering before I wrote about it.

We spent 5 hours in the emergency room on Lindsey's birthday and found out that she was miscarrying our 3rd child. It was all kind of a blur for me until I got home and made some phone calls to my parents to tell them. I cried and asked for prayer for our unborn child. Lindsey and I prayed together and asked that God would be glorified no matter what. And we believe He was. The next day we lost the baby. As we shared with others we were so encouraged and blessed by those who have also gone through a miscarriage.

It was a great reminder to us that life is so fragile and that every day that we have is to be cherished. I'm also more convinced than ever that though I may not understand God's purpose in pain and suffering, His will is perfect and He will be glorified always!

So now onto the thoughts I had following the previous post...

Paul, James, Peter and Jesus all speak of us receiving a crown one day. But it is not without a cost...a weighty cost indeed. As Americans, we hate to think about suffering. We go to extremes to avoid suffering at all costs. However, suffering is to be the norm for the Christian. We are strangers and aliens here, not to be in love with this world.

As Paul awaited his execution in a Roman prison, he penned these words to Timothy,

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the CROWN of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:5-8

James reminded early Christians that,

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the CROWN of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Peter wrote to encourage those who were becoming discouraged by the persecution that they were receiving because of their faith in Jesus.

And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading CROWN of glory.
1 Peter 5:4

To those in the church in Smyrna, Jesus said these words,

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the CROWN of life.
Revelation 2:10

In a day when "Christian" bookstores are filled with books about how to be rich, happy and comfortable and nearly every "pastor" on TV spews the same garbage, how can we as believers in the Lord who know we are called to take up our cross and count the cost, suffer well for the glory of God and confront the "prosperity gospel" teaching?

I'd like to get your thoughts!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Cross then the Crown - Part I

This phrase has captured my attention recently. As I was reading a prayer titled, "The Grace of the Cross" in the book "The Valley of Vision", this sentence jumped off the page, "O My Lord and Saviour, Thou hast also appointed a cross for me to take up and carry, a cross before thou givest me a crown."

The introductory prayer, with the same title as the book, speaks of learning by paradoxes. One paradox says, "that to bear the cross is to wear the crown."

As I pondered this and searched the Scriptures, I was reminded how the King of Heaven traded His crown for a short time to come and bear His cross.

Though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:6-11

Jesus left His throne in Heaven, removed His crown, took on flesh, obeyed His Father, went to the cross, bore the penalty for our sin and became sin for us...yes, the King of Heaven became a curse for us while we were dead in our transgressions and sins.

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in.
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

The "Therefore" that begins verse 9 of Philippians 2 is absolutely incredible...quite breathtaking actually! We are taught to always ask, "What is the therefore 'there for'?" All that Christ did in v.6-8 results in everything after the "therefore".

Do you see this? This exaltation of Christ came only because He made Himself nothing. Wasn't He already exalted? Was He not in the form of God prior to His coming? Yes of course! So Jesus is really re-exalted. He gets the crown back that He willingly gave up. (for more on this check out this message by John MacArthur under I. C.)

How did he do this? Through suffering and obedience to the point of death on a cross.

Scripture also speaks of the crown we will receive one day. I will address that in part 2.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

My Famous Friend

Do any of you know someone who is famous...I mean REALLY famous?? I'm not talking about a shelf full of Oscar's or Platinum records on the wall. Oh no...that won't make the cut folks!!

So what does it take to be famous? How about getting your name on the Wisconsin Record Fish List? You only need to click on the link if you are interested in looking up what all the record fish are. Unfortunately they only display names of these World Famous Anglers in a separate PDF file. I saved you all the trouble and cropped the file and circled the name of my good buddy Andy Lickel (click on picture to enlarge).

As you can see, Andy holds the record for the Shortnose Gar. Andy and another friend went out with the goal of catching the state record Shortnose and Longnose Gar in the same trip. He had a longnose on that he believes may have been the state record but lost it when a flashlight was shined in its eye and it went crazy and snapped the line. If you wonder why it snapped the line, just look at this ugly, prehistoric looking beast with razor sharp teeth (no that's not Andy in the picture). Next time you're swimming in the Wisconsin River you may want to be wearing your iron pants!!

Let me tell you a little bit about Andy. Besides being an absolute stud, great friend, amazing man of God, and new blogger, he is the most incredible fisherman I have ever met...and I know some pretty phenomenal fishermen!!

The first time I went fishing with Andy I didn't know him very well. He was using two poles that I thought he had just pulled out of a dumpster somewhere. I had my fancy setup with my expensive line. We were fishing for Redhorse (junk fish) where the La Crosse River flows into the Mississippi downtown La Crosse, WI. That's where Andy caught about 5 times as many fish as I did and made me feel like a fool.

I could also tell you lots of stories of ice fishing when me and another guy were on each side of Andy with the same exact lure and he was pulling fish out one after another and were scratching our heads in disbelief.

Andy is also the only guy that I know that has ever used a pink plastic reel. Don't ask me where he found that one!

One thing that I really appreciate about Andy is his absolute love for trout fishing. Andy is the one who taught me how to fish for trout. What blows me away every time is that he really delights in God and His creation while fishing. Every brook trout that he catches he just marvels at how beautiful God made them...and he is right!!

Andy, thanks for being a wonderful follower of Jesus and an amazing friend!

Check out this monster!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

"But If You Say So, I'll Let Down The Nets"

It's funny how long it takes some things to sink into my thick skull. This summer I was with a group of people and we toured a place where they translate a film about the life of Jesus into many languages. One guy from our group volunteered to do one small clip from the movie. His goal was to match his voice with the lips of the actor...they were trying to show us how difficult this is to do in English, let alone a completely different language. The clip they chose to use was out of Luke 5 where Jesus tells Simon (Peter) to let down the nets again after they had fished all night and caught nothing. I still remember the guy from our group in a goofy voice saying, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but if you say so, I'll let down the nets."

We have a children's version copy of the movie that Lily watches at least once a day. So I have probably seen this clip of Jesus and Peter about 100 times in the past few months. Every time I see it I think about the guy this summer repeating those lines. Just a few weeks ago it finally hit me! I don't know why I'm so slow to get things sometimes, but the Holy Spirit hit me upside the head and showed me why I should go out and do evangelism. It's because He says so!!

How many times have I come home discouraged and thought to myself, "boy that was a waste of time...I can think of a million better things I could do." Or when I see someone who may have "prayed a prayer" and claimed to desire to follow Jesus but then shortly after changed their mind (see Parable of the Sower in Matt 13). How many times have I, like Peter, "let down my net" and caught nothing? If the only motivation to go out and do evangelism is past "results", which are not up to us anyways, how miserable would our lives be??!!

So when I talk to people about Jesus and they think I'm crazy or they tell me to get lost, I go somewhere else and let down my net. And if I "work hard all night and catch nothing", I will let down my net again "because He says so." What a huge reminder we all need that God is in charge of the fish (men) that come into our nets. Our job is simply to let down our nets!!

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

Luke 5:1 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Good Friday Reflections

Why do we call this day “Good” Friday? What about it is good? Was not the very Son of God unjustly accused, tried, beaten and killed as a criminal? Did he not suffer scorn and shame to a degree none of us can fathom? Were not those who claimed to follow Him the very ones to desert Him on that dreadful day? Do I not also desert Him every day by giving my affections to things that are of infinitely less value?

So why is it good? Because while I was still a sinner, dead in my transgressions and sins, a child of wrath, whose righteous deeds were as filthy rags in the sight of a holy God…though this was my state of being, Christ died for me…the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring me to God (1 Pet. 3:18).

This is the love of God demonstrated to sinners! It was the will of the Lord to crush his Son (Isaiah 53:10)…WOW! For me…why? It is incomprehensible at time. But it certainly is “GOOD”! So I will rejoice in this day and call it “good”. I will reflect on the glory and splendor of Christ and His cross and call it “good”. Though by human standards it was wicked and completely unjust, it was the Divine plan, foreknown and pre-determined by the Godhead (Acts 2:23). Long before humans rebelled against the Almighty, the rescue plan was in place. And it would not only cost the Son His life, but would force the Father to turn His back on His precious beloved Son. Why? For all wickedness, sin and unrighteousness was put on Jesus at Calvary. Again, what is good about this? Why the great exchange of course! “For our sake he (Father) made him (Son) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (perfect, sinless Son of God) we (evil, wicked and rebellious people) might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).

The Son not only gave up His life, but was willing to bear our sin upon Himself and experience separation and rejection from His Father as a result. Oh how sad if the story were to end here. This day would certainly not be called good if that were the case. But death could not hold Him! He rose and conquered the grave. And what does Paul tell us? “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). This is “Good News!” I get Christ’s eternal righteousness while He gets my sin. Most of all, this is by no merit of my own!

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (Gal. 2:19-21). May I never nullify the grace of God by believing for even one second that I deserve my salvation because of something I have done.

May my hope always rest in the promise of Titus 3:4-7, “When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Amen…that is “GOOD”!!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"I Loved Her First"

Occasionally a song comes along that really chokes me up and sometimes even makes me cry...yes, real men DO cry!

As a daddy of a beautiful little 2 year old girl, this song does it to me. It's called "I loved her first". It is about a dad giving his daughter away on her wedding day. The song is performed by the band Heartland. Even if you're not a fan of country music, I think you'll appreciate this song. You can watch the video here. You can buy it for $.99 here. And you can find the lyrics here.

The first time I heard the song I was amazed. I did a little research online and found this story about the guy who co-wrote this song. The article is pretty long so I'll just share the last 2 paragraphs:

My favorite part of the song is probably when the guy says “and I prayed that you would find him someday but it’s still hard to give you away.�? That’s something that even now with my daughters being really young, I am already praying about. I pray that they’re going to find the right man and know that there already is someone out there that God is bringing up just for them and that he is crafting them even if they are thousands of miles away to come together someday. That’s what I pray about for my daughters, and I pray that for my Son, too, but there is something about your daughter. You want them to have just the right person that is perfect for them. That’s why that is my favorite line in the song. My son is 8 years old, and I have three daughters now 4 1/2 year old, Anna, 3 year old, Autumn and a little 6 month old, April. I have got to do this three times, and I am not looking forward to it. Man, it is going to be tough, but luckily it is still 20 years away. Anna is something else...every time she hears the song she proudly says, “Daddy wrote this about me.�?

One of the things I hope the song does is make people think about marriage and parenting more. I think that marriage needs to have more weight then it does these days. I think we need to look back how it used to be when people really weighed the matter greatly before they jumped into something. Marriage itself is a God given thing that we’re supposed to do. I believe we’re not supposed to take it lightly. It is too easy to jump in and too easy to jump out. It just lacks the importance that it once has. I really think fathers need to be involved in bringing their girls up and make sure they understand you don’t just give yourself to someone unless you are really serious about it. It’s a life long commitment and you need to show how it’s done. Take them out on dates, open doors for them and bring them up with high standards and model for them what a man should be in their life. This way they will know it when that special person comes into their life. Then they won’t settle for just a regular Joe. It’s important to bring them up in the way the Bible says.

| Interview with Elliott Park conducted by Jason Henke & Reed Trontell

I thought this would be a good opportunity to brag about my little Lily and share a little glimpse of her beauty and silliness with the rest of you.

I can't imagine the day that I'll have to give her away. Please join me in saying a quick prayer that God would be preparing that man for her right now.

Here's some pictures of my little princess:

Lily's new "funny face". She says, "Daddy look at Lily's funny face!"

Can anyone say "Rock-star"??!!

Lily wearing her uncle Phil's "cool shades"

Singer and dancer??

Band-aid on the nose :)