Lessons from a pocketknife…

Last week I received this text, “Heading to the hospital for Dallas. He severed his finger with that stupid pocketknife.”

And yes, there is a story behind that one…

The day before, while I was mowing the lawn, unbeknownst to me, our four year old took off on his scooter. After crossing the alley and the street, Dallas noticed him and caught my attention when I saw him sprinting down the sidewalk. I turned off the mower and headed that way myself.

I gave Ian an hour timeout and told Dallas I would like to buy him a gift to thank him for watching out for and defending his brother.

After several hours of mental deliberation, Dallas told me that he would like a pocket knife.

So after soccer practice, he and I went to two stores to find him a knife. I took some time to educate Dallas regarding the responsibility of owning a pocket knife. I made sure he knew he could never take it to school or church and that he must be very careful when using it.

The next day he went over to his cousins house and Leigh-Ann told him to be sure to only show the pocketknife to his cousins and not to open the blade or use it.

Well, like our four year old, Dallas decided to push the boundaries and started whittling a stick…and then it happened…he sliced through the back of his thumb barely missing the bone and tendons and all the way thru half of his thumbnail.

His initial response was to attempt to hide the wound. This never really worked because the damage from his disobedience far bigger than he could have imagined.

After a full afternoon in the ER of two hospitals, multiple stitches and way more attention than even Dallas wanted, the thumb was bandaged and on the mend. And hopefully the lesson in obedience is intact.

Dallas Finger.jpg

This Sunday we continue our series on “Little foxes that spoil the vine” and will study from James 4:13-17 about failing to take steps of obedience.

When you and I fail to obey God, we may not need stitches, but we definitely will experience consequences. Don’t forget, James 4:17 even applies to church attendance…”So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

Have a great weekend,




New Life Sunday – Pokemon…

A few weeks ago, Leigh-Ann and I celebrated 17 years of marriage. We decided to head down to the Plaza so that we could celebrate and reflect on our life together. We had such a great time, we decided me must do it more often :).

While we were there, we couldn’t help but notice people walking around glued to their mobile devices. It was almost as if they were in a trance…moving up and down the sidewalks, crossing streets and  passing people without even looking up.

pokemon pic

It didn’t take long to figure they were playing…Pokémon.

Now, I have nothing against Pokémon…honestly, I don’t really understand the hype (sorry if that is offensive :)). However, I cannot deny that this game has taken ‘Merica by storm. Simply gauging by the number of people walking around in a trance-like state…the game must have some attraction for sure.

The point I would like to make is that I have observed people playing the game who appear to be clueless when it comes to the world all around them. They are so intent on the game, they are oblivious to their surroundings.

This Sunday, we are not going to learn how to play Pokémon…or Pokémon for Jesus (which is likely going to hit the shelves soon :). Pastor Dave is going to share a sermon on “Frivolous, inattentive living” from 1 Peter 1:13-21. If we are not careful, we may stumble in to dangers that could rob us of the joy we are promised in Jesus. This sermon will be the first week in a new sermon series from Song of Solomon 2:15 on “Little Foxes that Spoil the Vine.”

I hope to see you on Sunday…and if you play Pokémon, make sure to watch out for cars :),


Sewer pipes, retaining walls and the weight of moral expectations…

Earlier today I received a phone call and text message from a neighbor informing me that someone was loading very large sewer pipes on to the retaining wall in our back yard.

Retaining Wall Sewer Pipes

It was a surprise to me…so when my schedule cleared, I ran home to check it out.

What I quickly realized was that the retaining wall was never intended to carry that heavy of a load. The retaining wall is built to hold up the dirt behind it, but when thousands of pounds are added it creates a dangerous situation.

More calls from more neighbors worried about a potential tragedy encouraged me to insist on making sure those heavy structures are removed.

The problem is not with the weight of the sewer pipes. I’m sure they must be heavy and large to function appropriately. The problem is also not with the retaining wall. It has faithfully held up its end of the deal.

The problem occurred when the retaining wall was expected to hold up the heavy sewer pipe.

This Sunday we are not going to be learning about sewer pipes…we will however be reminded that as humans we do not have the capacity to fulfill certain moral expectations in our own strength. Much like the retaining wall, we will wear down, grow weary and eventually collapse underneath the load. When that happens we may easily conclude that we are a failure and lose hope.

The point of the sermon on Sunday from Romans 12:11-13 is that we are expected to fulfill certain moral expectations, but only after we are being transformed by the mercies of God.

We must start with the mercies of God as our foundation and then we will have the spiritual strength to gladly fulfill the moral expectations so clearly outlined by Paul in the book of Romans.

If you have been feeling like you are ready to buckle under the heavy weight of expectations, you may need a fresh reminder that Jesus came to carry your burden and will most certainly lighten your load. Now if only He could do something with retaining walls…. :).

Have a great weekend,


50 Years…

This weekend we are in Minnesota to celebrate my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary. Staying married for 50 years is no small task. In fact, it borders on a modern day miracle :).

mom and dad marriage

In any relationship, there will be struggle and pain, but to make it 50 years there must be a lot of love.


As the third of their four children, I have observed much love, even when we didn’t have a lot of material things. Some of my fondest memories are times spent working together. When I was young, I remember complaining quite often about having to work in the garden…but guess who has a garden now? 🙂 I remember shoveling snow and cutting wood, mowing lawns and delivering papers, building a go-cart and fixing bikes – not to mention snapping beans while listening to the Twins game on the radio.

It wasn’t all work, though! We played any and every sport in the back yard, built large snow forts and even would sled right off the roof of the garage. One winter we even flooded the back yard to make an ice rink!

Whether we worked or played together, there was at least one constant and that was our love.

This love was modeled by mom and dad who in spite of good times and bad, had a deep commitment to loving each other.

This is not to say there were never disagreements or stubborn moments, but now we all can laugh at the “annoying” things they do to get under each others skin (intentionally or not). I watched mom and dad apologize on a regular basis…which is good, because I’ve also needed to learn that skill.

A love that is gritty enough to thrive through 50 years of marriage is love that only God can demonstrate. I am convinced that the reason my parents have lasted 50 years with each other is because they have personally experienced perfect love from God.

With this in mind, this Sunday at New Life CityChurch, we are going to dig into that love from God.

One of our elders, James Cottier will be sharing a sermon from Romans 12:9-10 where Paul says,

“Love one another with brotherly affection.” I look forward to hearing more about genuine love from the perspective of the Apostle Paul. I hope you can join us for service at 10:45am on Sunday.