I had a conversation with God tonight. This conversation was long overdue. I can’t describe how in the midst of it, I felt finally closer than I have in so long, in time without memory almost. It felt like weeks since I had spoken with God, yet I know that’s not true. Somehow, tonight was one of those moments, while I was driving my truck of all things, that I again realized how close my Father is.

Maybe openness and honesty makes it feel that way. Sometimes, each time I talk with God it feels like it’s been weeks, when I know it has only been hours, or days that I last felt this inseparable closeness. In truth, were I to trust my feelings, I’d be constantly laden with guilt, because I would always feel like I never talked with Him.

Okay, so I feel close to my Father again. What’s the big deal?

The big deal is that when I feel close with Him, I hear His answers, I hear His guidance. When I don’t feel close to Him, I feel deaf. Tonight, I didn’t feel deaf, and although I heard no audible words, I know I heard Him in the only place that matters, my heart.

There is a message that came through loud and clear to me this evening, and I believe I am supposed to share it, and not hoard it.

About two weeks ago, I wrote about discipline. Tonight, I want to revisit that subject.

I spoke about being free in discipline, and I need to adD something that I learned tonight. In anything, it is important to not be consumed.

I don’t say that because I was consumed by “discipline”. Fact is, I thanked God for helping me in a few things, and in my silence after thanking Him, a thought connected with my heart, and it went something like this, “Tom, obedience and discipline for obedience and discipline’s sake is not freedom, it is slavery. Keep the goal in mind, that to be consumed is to be enslaved, but to be free is love. Currently, you are free, not enslaved by your desire to do what you feel is right in the gaining of a free and empowered life. You can stay that way forever, so long as this desire is not obsession.”

Okay, I didn’t “hear” those words, but as I think about what I heard right now, those words are the best way to describe what I both heard and felt at the same time. The lesson in this for me is to understand that discipline is only a means, not the end.

If discipline becomes the end, then I am consumed by my discipline, I am enslaved by an end I can never reach. In other words, when a means which God has provided becomes the end, when it becomes the desired “result”, it is no longer something freeing, rather, it is an idol, and an entrapment.

Discipline is a tool, and nothing more. We, being in the image of God, can use tools. There is no problem in the using of tools. It is what we fashion with these tools that can become the problem. I am resolved tonight to use the tools for their intended purpose, and to lay them down when I am finished. I am resolved to be the master of these tools, using the authority given me by God, restored to me by Christ, in a lifelong endeavor of love.

That’s right, the end is love. If God is love, then it follows that the end is love also, because God is the Alpha and the Omega. The means to an end are the tools, and I am a fool if I believe that because of disciplining myself, I am disciplined. I am a fool if I believe that because of obedience, I am good. Rather, because of love, I am love, because of discipline, I am love, because of obedience, I am love. The end……is love. That is what I learned tonight, talking with God. And now I have shared it with you, all more deserving than I to know this.



I was listening to my pastor preach today, and he struck a chord with me. Lately that hadn’t happened, but today, it seemed like our minds were along similar paths.

He spoke of fellowship, and all that I get fine. But when he spoke of celebrating, I knew instantly what my next blog topic was going to be. I had been thinking about this for a few days already, and his voice on the subject was just the impetus I needed to actually write again.

Yes, that’s right I have been suffering lately, exactly because I haven’t been writing. And, writing is one of the things I do daily to ensure that I live a free and empowered life. Yes, I know, making sure I write every day may sound like discipline, but if I don’t write, I die inside a little but every day. I love it that much. So if I have to schedule it, or “discipline" myself every so often in order to do it, I am making myself do something I love to do. Doesn’t sound much like discipline, does it?

Well, here I am sidetracked yet again. Yes, you’ll notice every so often in posts that I ramble on, because I get sidetracked easily with my thoughts when writing. And you know me, why not write ALL of them down? You all want to read them anyway, right? RIIIIGHT!!?

Anyway, as briefly as I can, I want to talk about the number one thing we should be doing in fellowship.

No, it’s not organized worship. Although, enjoyed to the fullest, it is definitely worship in the spirit.

Of all the people in this world, who should be the most joy filled? Christians, right? Yeah, you’d think so.

But what do I see? Well, I see lots of things, such as arguments about theology, arguments about property, arguments about how to do worship, and all manner of discussions regarding “religion”.

But I do not see much celebration in the body of Christ. Why is that? Who has more reason than us to celebrate? Death tried to claim our Savior, and He snapped the cords of death in half, and buried them in hell. Here we are, living life most of the time as if there is nothing to celebrate.

And you can’t manufacture a celebration. You can’t make yourself feel happy, or draft up a plan to celebrate and guarantee a good time. A good time comes from the heart, it is already present before we start to celebrate.

If there is one thing I would like to see in my lifetime, it would be that I get to show the world how to celebrate. How to let loose!!! How to shout with the throat of the ocean, into the night, screaming in joy and wonder, celebrating my very life. If I could celebrate for two weeks, I would, and then, I’d look for more time and reason to do so again, as soon as possible.

This life is passing us by. If we aren’t celebrating life, we are missing life. We can work, we can do all manner of programs, and other various things. But if we cannot celebrate life, we are missing it.

Now, I know there are times in our lives when our hearts simply will not be into celebrating much of anything. I know there will be times when the sadness of a broken relationship, or the loss of a spouse, child, or friend, will leave us feeling as if death were a better alternative than life. But these times ought not to rule our existence.

And how to we begin the celebration? If it starts in our heart, how do we get our heart to celebrate?

I have just one way. Know Jesus.

If we begin to truly know Jesus, something strange is going to happen inside of us. It can’t happen if we are busy manufacturing what we could feel naturally if we just let our hearts love Jesus as they were meant to. So one way to know Jesus would be to stop manufacturing the false images we carry around because we think that’s what a Christian ought to look like. Learn to be real, and I promise it, your celebration will be real as well.

Guilt will fall by the wayside, temptation just won’t be that tempting. All of this is reality if we just learn to be real, because learning to be real is the first step toward loving Jesus for Who He is, not just for what He has done.

I get goose bumps often, whenever I think of this creation, and how God SPOKE it into being. I mean, come on!! Doesn’t that just absolutely blow your mind? And if our minds, the seat of “rational” thought, are blown, wouldn’t it follow that spontaneous celebration of the heart could commence immediately? I think our minds stand in the way of celebration. I think you cannot know Jesus with your head. I think you can only know Jesus with your heart.

So let the celebration begin! Drop the false images, the image management, if you will. God knows who and what you are anyway. There’s no hiding from Him what we seek to hide from everyone else. Some ancients have called this practicing the presence of God. I say, we don’t need to practice it, because it’s already game time, and He’s already here!!

I will have one more bonfire in the snow this year. Many will be invited, and many will come. But I am going to show them how I celebrate, and there will definitely be a primal roar heard from me that night. But the real celebration is already begun. If you only show up for that evening, you’ll be behind in the celebration. Show up now!!! God is here! Right now!! This, the Maker of life, within us, and I believe He wants to celebrate with us, not scold us, or shame us, or punish us.

Believers should be the most celebrating people on the face of this earth. We should not be finding creative new ways to bore people to death, which has been our reputation. Let them see our celebration, and then show them the REASON why.



So I’ve been on this diet thing now for four days. It’s a low carb diet, and I did it two years ago, having decent success with it. The last time I was on this diet, I lost twenty-five pounds. So…..I am expecting the same results.

Before I go further, I must say, this low carb diet is definitely a man’s diet. Let’s see, since I started again, I have eaten copious amounts of steak, pork chops, eggs, cheese, lettuce, and chicken. The only thing I really miss is potatoes. For a man, steak and eggs, pork chops, fish, and chicken? Yeah, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Now, will someone please invent a low carb potato?

I bet you are wondering why the diet? It’s not because I’m extra fat. Nah! I feel a little overweight, but there is a health reason for the diet. My feet are killing me!!!!!

I mean it. My left Achilles heel screams in protest every time I take a step. The right one isn’t as bad, but it hurts at the end of the day, too. But the left one, well, it already has a partial tear, which refuses to heal. The pain has now begun to radiate toward the bottom and back of my heel, an ominous sign if I ever felt one. Sometimes the pain is so intense that the only way I get through a day is chewing on Ibuprofen like candy. I’m sick of that.

The weight must go. It’s causing me pain, and I don’t like pain. This sucker even hurts just laying down. It’s sort of a slow, ebbing and flowing throb, and every so often, a sharp jab will shoot up the back of my ankle.

The diet won’t heal the heel. But maybe allowing the heel to carry less weight will help. The stress on this foot when I walk up stairs is a scary thing. There have been times when I have just sort of hopped up stairs, avoiding the pain of the left, uncooperative foot. Imagine missing a step. Ouch.

So, I’ll do the diet, lose the weight, and see if it helps. Let’s hope it does. If I have to have surgery on that heel, it’s going to ruin a lot of plans, and I’ll be fairly immobile as far as work goes for several months, from what I hear. That would definitely suck. Have I told you I have a hard time sitting still? Yep, can’t do it.

I can be silent, I can sit and talk with God, but if I face an entire day watching TV and sitting around the house, I’ll go absolutely bonkers. One day, or two days off is fine. I can even take a week long vacation, if I get to DO SOMETHING. But if I have to sit, unable to move freely, plant me. Unless, of course, you are going to send me someone to snuggle with. (I think Max’s romance is affecting me in an unhealthy way)



I hinted recently that I would tell the story of my faith. I am not quite ready for that, yet.

I was searching my archives for another story in my life that almost seems even more important to me, trying to see if I had ever written about it. I know a few people who visit here have heard this story, but since I can’t find anything in my archives about it, I thought I’d share this with you tonight.

It was the day after my wife had left me for another man, nearly five years ago now. For three solid weeks, I had known something was up. I spoke with my wife about it, and she denied anything was going on. “We’re just friends” was the common response. Three weeks later, “just friends” left their respective spouses and joined each other, living together, in front of my daughter. (Sidebar: I can forgive a lot, but the fact that they lived together without being married, in front of my daughter, for some reason, I still have trouble with that)

Okay, where were we? Oh yeah, three weeks later….

My wife of nine years left me for a man she hardly knew. The man she left me for, left his wife of three years and his two month old daughter, for a woman he hardly knew. Throughout the separation and then divorce, I heard the words, “I never loved you, Tom”, or was told that my wife and her new man were “soul mates”, and that nothing, even marriage sanctified by God, could have stopped what happened. Really……

Now, thinking about that just makes me laugh. Imagine, soul mates are more powerful than God. Okay, I think you’re a bit whacked in the brain, but if that’s what you believe, find out for yourself.

So, we are back to the day after my wife left me. I worked out of my home then, but had recently been fired from my job of nine years, because a young man I recruited and trained lied to my boss about something I had said. My mindset the day my wife left me was not good, having this new betrayal fresh in my mind. Already, even before my wife left me, I was asking God what was going on, in regards to the job.

But that day after she left me, I was utterly broken. I had promised God I was going to change as a husband not five months earlier, and in truth, my wife told me she had noticed a difference. It didn’t matter, apparently. I wasn’t the best husband, and I knew it, yet somehow, change within me had actually occurred, and she had noticed it. All this was bouncing around in my mind, like a wrecking ball trying to break through a brick wall. It finally broke through late in the morning.

I screamed at God. I raged at Him. I told Him I didn’t understand. I said to Him, “I gave my heart to You, I gave my life. I promised you I would be a better husband, and I was! She even said so! I worked hard at my job, and some ass just laid me out to dry, and caused me to lose my job! And now this?!!!!!!!”

Then I rambled on, out loud, for about ten minutes, screaming, pleading, saying things I don’t even remember.

But these words I do remember.

“God, why have you abandoned me!!” I screamed as loudly as I could. Then I broke, tears flowing down my face. I was utterly spent, there was nothing more I could say, my God had left me. I have never felt so utterly alone in my life.

I do not know how long after that the phone rang. It wasn’t more than a minute or two, but time does not register to a man who has lost everything, and has suddenly realized his God has abandoned him.

I seriously thought about ignoring the ringing. I almost stepped away from it, wanting to run away from it, not wanting to talk with anyone. I had not told anyone about this yet, not even my parents. It had been over twenty-four hours since she had told me she was leaving, and I had spent a full day alone with that in my heart, in my mind.

I do not know why I picked the phone up, but I answered. On the other end was a fellow named Brett. We knew each other a little bit, as he had been in my small group for new believers. But we weren’t close. In fact, Brett had never called me before this. As I answered the phone, he said hello, and then paused. What came next still sends chills up my spine.

“Tom….I don’t know what to say. I don’t even know why I am calling. It’s just that it’s been on my mind all morning to call you, and I kept putting it off, until just now. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, about you, and I felt so led to call you.”

Long pause on my end. Here is one thought my mind silently spewed forth. “What in the hell?”

So I answered him, “um, okay”

He then asked me if everything was okay. I said, yeah, sure, still not wanting to tell him what was going on. It was the closest to a live definition of “surreal” I could ever give. So he stayed on the phone, asking me how things were, what was up with me lately, until finally, I broke. Through tears, I told him my wife had left me the day before. I didn’t tell him what I had just said a few moments earlier. How could I?

He listened, that’s what I remember most, besides the fact that he called at all. It was like he was the ear of God, not just seeing my tears, but HEARING them.

I don’t even recall how long we talked. All I know is that phone call was not so much from Brett, as it was from God.

How do I know this? I know it because of what Brett said. “I don’t even know what to say, I don’t know why I’m calling”.

I know it because Brett had never called me before. In fact, before he called me, he called his wife, and told her what he was experiencing, which to me, is just about the strangest thing I had ever heard. Brett was a traveling salesman at the time, and had to make the call from his car. He actually pulled over to the side of the road to do it. But we have a witness, Brett’s wife, who can recount what Brett said to her, and the advice she gave him. All of that took place before I said what I said to God, before I accused Him of abandoning me.

You see, it had to occur before that, because as I said, it hadn’t been more than a minute or two since I had said it before Brett called. And he had been bothered by this all morning long, well before I even started screaming at God.

Now, you may believe this was all a coincidence. I leave that up to you. But to have been a part of it, I am left with absolutely no doubt that God not only heard me cry out to Him, but He answered me as well, saying, “I haven’t left you, your wife left you. I am still here.”

That moment in my life is a defining moment. Whenever I doubt, I think of that cry, and of Brett’s call, God’s answer to my question. When times are hard, when I want to scream out at God again, I think of that call. And when I am in pain, be it physical, or emotional, always that call reminds me of how close God really is. There are no doubts anymore about How God will keep me. I know now He will never abandon me, nor forsake me. I have physical proof of it.

Brett and Sherrie (his wife) are always nearby now in my heart, and whenever I see them, I think of that day. Sometimes, I think of that day with tears in my eyes. But these tears are of thankfulness, and of hope. Brett has been my best friend for almost five years. I guess that's just another part of a gift God gave me nearly five years ago.

Brett and I talk about that morning from time to time. We are both still amazed by it. And the funny thing is, I don't know if there are two men who are closer than we are to each other. I look around in my church, and I see lots of men talking with each other, about the job, the weather, and maybe some deeper things. But Brett and I are on a level few men ever approach, and have been ever since that morning long ago, when God answered my question with a phone call. Thank you God, for answering me, and for sending Brett and Sherrie.



My last post discussed my efforts to make this flesh my slave. One statement I made specifically had someone worried. I aim to put those worries to rest with this post.

The statement in question was this.

“It’s not even about God, as far as I can tell,”

In the body of my post, I finished that sentence off by saying, “although the knowledge that I am both free, and able to do this comes from Him”.

At times, some of the things I say may surprise you. At other times, the things I say may outrightly offend you. Please know now that you have the right, here on this blog, to let me know if I have offended you.

Having said that, I will always make an attempt to ease your concerns, and to alleviate the offense. Nevertheless, I say what I say for a reason, and I can’t, and I won’t write in order to not offend anyone.

Now, let me help assuage the fear.

Of all my goals with this blog, honesty is near the top of the list. The very top goal is to welcome and encourage people in such a way that they feel like this is also their personal space, that they feel allowed to speak their mind in courtesy, and feel a part of an electric community.

Honesty plays second fiddle only because to me, honesty is a way of life. Not just in words, but in deed also. I have my failings in this area, and I know that. But I try my best to portray my heart in an honest way on this blog.

Sometimes, that honesty will come across as selfishness. For example, when I say this blog is about me, it is the truth. I won’t lie, and pretend that this is about God. But I do say that this blog is about how God moves me, and how He has worked in my life. I don’t claim that this is enough credit for God.

I am walking, not running. Sometimes I crawl, and sometimes I get stuck in the filthiest mud you could ever find. For me to say my life is all about God would be an outright lie, and I won’t do it. It’s not that I want it to be about me. I truly do want it to be about God. But I’m not there yet. Not in heart, not in mind, and not in the flesh.

If I were to go before God and tell Him this, I believe He would understand. If I were to go before God, and sing the song, “It’s All About You”, He’d recognize the lie instantly. Which should I do?

I believe God would rather I was honest, not just before Him, but before you as well. I am no example to follow, and hopefully, you have received that message strongly here. I will not lie to make myself look good. I will not perpetuate the false image of me being someone I am not.

I will live my life as best I can, writing about it from time to time, and some of it may be offensive, and some of it may cause you to worry. But this I know, my life, my whole life belongs to Jesus. I don’t always act as though it does. Heck, I feel as though I rarely act as though I belong to Jesus. But that doesn’t change the fact that He loves me, and that I love Him.

You see, I would die for Him. Many people say that, and maybe most mean it. I know that I mean it, and it isn’t because I am some Godly person you all need to measure up to. Rather, it’s because I have been face to face with God in my heart, and my heart cries out, “Thank You God for not being like me!” It is a cry of hope, a cry of love, and a cry of victory, because my heart knows that no matter what happens from here on out, nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. Not even death.

Since that is the case, I can suffer for a little while what once seemed so scary for me. I can look forward to dying for His name, if that be how I end here, and not fear. And this all has happened because God has brought me to a point of honesty with Him, nearly the tip of a pin, and there is no room on that tip for anything but the truth. I will not fall in Spirit, because I am held by Truth.

Please don’t worry about me. What I said was honesty, and I believe God would have me be honest before He would have anything else.



I have decided to make my flesh my slave. Paul spoke of making his body his slave, of “buffeting his body”. Having talked recently about discipline, and why it is necessary for me to engage myself in it, I felt it was also necessary to begin this journey of killing my flesh’ ability to enslave me.

There are so many things we become enslaved by, not all of them “physical” things. But make no mistake about this, the flesh, and for that matter, the mind, will either be controlled, or these things will control us. From here on in this post, when I speak of the flesh, I am also speaking of the mind and human will as well. It’s simpler to label it all flesh, since that is what it is.

There might be some trepidation over this if I did not know what freedom I have. Well, fear not, I am not engaging in discipline to earn God’s favor. I am not engaging in the Atkin’s diet (I did it two years ago and lost twenty-five pounds) to look better. I am not engaging in a scheduled reading time, or scheduling my writing because I can please God by doing any of this. I am not scheduling forty minutes nightly to learn Greek in order to become more "sin-free".

Rather, I am doing these things because I can. I am making my flesh my slave because I no longer desire to go where my flesh would pull me. I no longer am willing to allow my mind to run wherever it wills. I am free, and because I am, I will enslave my body to do my bidding.

So, will any of this earn me any merit with God? No, absolutely, it will not. It’s not even about God, as far as I can tell, although the knowledge that I am both free, and able to do this comes from Him. And a part of me, I am sure, will extend my heart toward Him all the more in thankfulness for showing me how to be free of my flesh.

But in the end, the things I do to enslave my flesh will not be about goodness, or salvation. They will be about freedom. I was given freedom five years ago. I think it’s time to live as though I was, and since this is my flesh, I will be master of it, not mastered by it.

My legalism was already crucified, but this, this discipline which I embark on, will not be crucified. It is not legalism, it is simply me buffeting my flesh, to make it my slave.

I do not think this is going to be easy. Then again, Jesus never said life and freedom would be easy. He said we could come to Him and find rest. There is no rest so long as we act like we are slaves to our flesh. There is only guilt that has no business being in a follower of Christ’s life.



This post is written in response to the many posts I have read recently across blogtopia courteously condemning to hell those whose theology disagrees with theirs .

There is a reason we shouldn’t judge others based on their works, or their theology. It's because we aren't smart enough to, and every single one of us has enough wrong with our theology that if we were to be held responsible for our bad theology, we would all surely burn in hell, each of us.

If you disagree with someone's theology, because it isn't like yours, yet they say they believe in Christ, who are you to question their salvation? What could be said about your doctrine that could cause someone else to say, "that Tom, I don't think he's REALLY saved." Come on, you know there are parts of your theology that would cause Christ to cringe. You just don't know where you are wrong.

We don't know what is wrong with our theology, yet we would presume to judge another? That is the blind leading the blind. Maybe you know an awful lot, and maybe you don't. Let God be the judge, that's what He's there for. It is ours to love our neighbor as ourself, and to love God wholeheartedly. There are no commandments beyond these two. Judging our neighbor does not fall into the category of loving our neighbor, at all.

So what are we to do? Continue to question another's salvation because his theology seems more whacked out than ours? If the measuring stick is perfection, then we are all whacked out when it comes to theology. Can any of us claim that we aren't?

I would rather live one small piece of truth, than know volumes of worthless theology. I say that because living the truth and knowing the truth intellectually are two very separate things. Living the truth is by far the better.

All this discussion about theology can be of benefit, but when we start hinting that because one's theology differs from ours he isn’t truly a believer, we are crossing the line from edifying discussion to outright judgment of another based on works. That's right, theology is a work, it is a man made study of God. It is worthless as far as salvation is concerned. The gospel, and scripture are foolishness to those who are perishing.

Read Paul's testimony, which he gave three separate times in the book of Acts. His main focus was always on what God had done in his life, as a witness to the gospel of Christ. Yet here, in blogland, are we now to abandon this wise way of sharing the gospel, and return to the fire and brimstone which is penal substitution?

You may not agree with me or my theology, but I stand by the statement that a man cannot even understand penal substitution before He has the Spirit of God living and breathing within him. He may have glimpses of what it's all about, but his eyes, having not yet been opened to the truth, will not grasp the theology of penal substitution.

But he will understand testimony and attesting signs. He will understand love. He will be drawn to peace, and hope of eternal life. These things are the things by which a man will listen to the gospel. The gospel is good news, not guilt news. Since we are free from The Law, why would we introduce someone to Jesus through the Law?

If the Spirit of Truth is not within the man, then we blow nothing but hot air past his ears when we talk to him about penal substituion. He can't understand it, it won't bear fruit, because he doesn't have the help of the Holy Spirit to understand it, and believe it.

What proof I give is the entire new testament, which was written to believers, not non-believers. I think theologians forget this simple fact sometimes, and it is the cause of a guilt driven gospel. The gospel is foolishness to those who perish. How much more foolishness will penal substitution be to them?

This is what I believe about the gospel. Jesus is clear, it isn't up to us to judge another man's salvation based on anything. If a man says he believes, the best we can do is call him brother. It is not upon us to question another's salvation for the very same reason that no one but God can read our hearts, and judge the conversion which took place.

I think we put way, way too much emphasis on theology, and not nearly enough emphasis on living the truth. Two commandments, that's all we have. Can we just live those? And what results would that bring? Would more come to know Christ if we dropped the theology, and led peaceful, quiet, loving lives?

I believe a man needs no theology except Christ crucified, dead, and risen, to draw multitudes to the only God who can save us. Love for Christ will draw them, not head knowledge. If one loves Christ, then the outpouring will be love of his neighbor. That is how the kingdom of heaven grows from the smallest seed to the largest plant in the field. All this other theology is just fluff, worthless garbage without love.

There are many who will always want to discuss and argue theology. But we weren't called to argue theology. We were called to tend and be the sheep, and to give love wherever love is needed. Let the arrogant asses who would sacrifice you on the altar of right for a dime have their "discussions". Those discussions bear absolutely no fruit, whatsoever.

We are instructed to not get caught up in endless discussion about words. Loving our neighbor is the greatest thing we will ever do, besides loving God. We aren't even present to love our neighbor when we argue about theology. How could we be. Our focus isn't on them, it's on us, and how we can prove we are right. A man who loves Christ denies that ego, and sacrifices himself on the altar of right, just as Jesus did.

Discussions about theology cause us to focus on ourselves. In a world where most of our thoughts are already on ourselves, why would we focus on something that causes us to love our neighbor less? We can't argue theology, and love our neighbor at the same time. We can be kind, we can be courteous and respectful, but in the end, these discussions are always about who is right, and who is wrong. It wouldn't be a defense if it wasn't. So, no matter how many times we say we respect those we discuss these things with, I think the real the truth is, we desire to be right. And that dictates that our focus is on our ego.

The kingdom is not about being right, or being able to judge another's salvation. It is about dying in the process of sharing the good news wherever we are, first by deed, and last, if necessary, by words. The true gospel ALWAYS kills those who preach it. That's because the true gospel isn't about who is right. It's about dying to ourselves so that others might know God, and live. Theological debates have no part in dying to ourselves. They are merely endless debates about words, and verses, and doctrine.

Defend your doctrine if you must, but the fact that there are so many different doctrines out there only proves that theology is about man, not about God. A long time ago, worthless men gave up on the sole truth of the gospel, and traded it for power instead. Today's hodgepodge of doctrine is what we are left with because of that. Had they stood firm with the truth, and rather died than lust for the power of "church" leadership and recognition, we wouldn't have the mess we have today. I say, walk away from the debates.

I think the greatest test of a man isn't how true his doctrine is. I think the test of a man is how great his love is. Theology and love have nothing to do with each other. So how should we spend our time?



This is part three of a story about a little girl, a story I call Missy's Reason. I am sure by now you can see part of her reason forming. But what is that reason? Exactly what does her reason have to do with life? Well, you'll just have to stay tuned to find out. I promise, the tear jerkers won't be here for much longer. Soon, we'll get to watch Missy grow up.

Missy sat with her Aunt Jeanne by her mother’s bedside for a half hour before her father returned. Ben was silent as he entered the room, this time without Pastor Jack. Upon seeing his wife, he sighed, and moved quietly beside Missy.

“Honey, we can go now. I’ve made some arrangements for your mommy, and all we have left to do tonight is to go home and rest.”

“Is mommy going to the funeral home, Daddy?”

“Yes, Missy, they are going to get her ready for her funeral.”

“When are we going to have the funeral? Is it tomorrow?”

“No, honey. It might be in a couple days, we haven’t had a chance to get that worked out yet. I‘ll be going to the funeral home tomorrow to get it all ready. You’ll have to stay at home. Pastor Jack’s family will be coming over to spend the day with us.” Ben told his daughter. “Are you tired, Missy?”

Missy yawned in answer, “Not really, Daddy. I mean, I’m a little tired, but I don’t want to go to bed when we get home.”

Why not sweetie?”

Because I want to be with you, Daddy. I’m scared.”

“Aw sweetie, me too.” Her father sighed heavily, tears forming in his eyes. “Let’s go home, okay?”

Ben lifted up his daughter, and pausing once more at the door of the room, he looked back at his wife. Then, he carried Missy out to their car, the way he used to when she was just a baby. Missy clung to him, leaving faint memories of the tears she had shed on his chest now on the collar of his jacket. He thought to himself, “I don’t know Katherine. I don’t how I am going to do this without you.” Tonight, he had found himself talking to his wife in his mind nearly every minute.

Resolutely he strode toward the car, his sister Jeanne just behind them. Thank God for Jeanne. Missy was going to need her now, and here she was, in the right place, as always, at the right time.

Jeanne, seven years older than Ben, had nearly raised Ben by herself since he had been five years old. Their parents had divorced, their father an alcoholic, who had left without so much as a word one stormy December evening. Their mother had worked two jobs for the next fifteen years, rarely seeing her children, except to tuck them into bed at night. It had fallen to Jeanne to be mother and father, and she had grown closer to Ben than most parents.

She had always been there to protect Ben, but from this, from the disease that had taken Katherine’s life, there had been no protection.

Now, Ben was in need once again, and Jeanne was right there by his side. Two years earlier, their mother had died of breast cancer. They had never seen their father again since the night he left. They only remembered him from a distance, and from what their mother had told them about him. Now, in this moment, Ben felt his old rage against his father rise. He stood still for a moment in the parking lot, Jeanne catching up to him as he did.

‘What’s the matter, Benji?” Jeanne asked.

“Nothin.” Ben answered. But that was not true. For a moment, all of the times Ben had needed his father came rushing back to him. The Friday nights of glory on the baseball diamond, where Ben had always looked from the pitcher’s mound into the stands, hoping, praying to see His father, who would of course be proud of his son in his victory. But his father had never showed up. Or the times he had needed someone to fix his bike, because he wasn’t able to do it himself, yet. His father had never called, never written, and never fixed Ben’s bike.

All of the memories of needing a father cemented Ben’s resolution in that moment. He was never going to leave Missy the way his father had left him. He was never going to not show up for a game, or a recital, or a tea party, although Missy had grown out fake tea parties about two years ago. He was going to be there!

He held Missy more closely as he neared the car. Poor Missy. Growing up without a bad father was one thing. But to lose a good mommy, to go through life without her gentle hand from this point on. “Oh Katherine,” He thought, “How am I going to do this?”

The same thought crossed his mind from time to time as they drove home, Missy now sitting where Katherine had in the past. Jeanne was in the back seat, and as Ben looked in the rear view mirror, in the darkness, he saw tears streaming from her eyes. She had been so strong throughout all of this, so close to Katherine, and in the end, his older sister, his mother, was now broken by pain too deep to speak of. Ben felt a sense of peace in that moment, and through the tears his sister shed for him, for Missy, and for herself, he began to pray.



Maximus Swift has started a new aggregator for the misfits of the Kingdom. If you are interested in getting a bit mor exposure, and just belonging to another group of welcoming bloggers, visit His blog here.

I included his entire post on the subject below, for your info. Let me know if you are joining in my comments section, or if you have questions. Happy blogging in an aggregator that doesn't require a doctorate in Theology, or a list of the hundreds you have saved.

Tom and MC gave me an idea for a new aggregator: Misfits for Christ's Sake. Designed for the square pegs among us who are trying to fit into the round holes of modern day Christianity, this aggregator was created for anyone who loves Jesus but feel like they don't neatly fit or belong anywhere in the Christian community today. If you want to try it out send me your feeds via email or IM.

This is a bit of an experiment, so if I get little or no responses I'll cancel the feed. If it actually becomes popular, I'll spruce up the aggregator so it's more visually appealing. Spread the word on your blogs if you like this idea.

For the rejects, misfits, outcasts and black sheeps of Christendom. Satanists need not apply



When I started to blog, I thought I was only going to write. Honestly, that’s all I do, but “blogging” has been so much more than writing.

I can write what I want, as this is my space, but in my heart, I believe that this is your space, too. Why do I say that?

I think it has something to do with reading all of your wonderful, thoughtful comments, and desiring to know more about you guys. I guess this is the closest thing to an E-community I am going to be a part of, although several other bloggers have made me feel a part of their community as well.

Pondering this further, I find that this blog itself is maybe just a house, with a really screwed up person living inside of it, and that this house belongs to a community of bloggers, each with their own house. And you all have made me feel like I fit here.

Now why would that be so important to me? There is a simple reason for this, and it lies in the fact that I feel sometimes very alone, even knowing Jesus is with me all of the time. That’s right, that voice, that presence is still there, all of the time. I am not saying He is not enough. I am saying He has brought me more.

“And if that were not enough, would I not have given you even more?” God said that to David.

The point of all this is that although I go to church, and meet once a week with my best friend, it’s not enough. I want more. Maybe a better way to say it is, “I desire more”. On a normal day, before I blogged, I had no one to talk with about my love for God. No one.

I was alone with my thoughts, and though I spoke with Jesus about it, still, I longed to share what I had with others. I could almost be labeled as an ingrate, were it not for the fact that this desire for conversation with believers is a desire that God longs to fulfill for each of us.

This blog is it, right now. My daughter is toO young yet to have a deep conversation about God. Brett, my best friend, has his family, and my other friends are all married, and have their families. I am the odd man out.

I am alright with being alone. What I am not alright with is being without brothers and sisters surrounding me, and me surrounding them. That ought never to be, for anyone. This world is still a rough place, despite what Jesus did on the cross. There is more pain for each of us coming, of that we are assured. But a long coast line weathers the stormy waves much more effectively than a small island can. And my long coastline is you guys.

You help keep me sane. You give me a reason to write, and a large part of my heart has opened because of you. This blog isn’t about God, and He knows that. It was about me, and I had so longed to make it about God. Now I know it is about you, and me, and the way God works in our lives. I desire nothing more than to share that with you all.

Thank you all, and I love you.

I love you, too, God.

Ps: A very wise lady told me today that an aggregator for misfits should be started. That would be the aggregator I would want to be a part of. Thanks dear sister, you know who you are.



I feel as though as I have passed some unspoken barrier. I don’t know what it is, but I felt it this afternoon while working.

I suddenly felt free again. Smiling, almost happy, joyful, yet silent in my work. Just my thoughts, me, a cordless drill, and some other tools, fashioning something beautiful.

It had been a while since I was able to do this, having to manage a crew of six people. That crew is now four. Two are no longer with us. I had to make the decision, and although I am saddened by having to them go, it was something I should have done a while ago. Instead, I tried to hang on, I tried to give repeated chances, over and over, being willing to believe any excuse, so long as I didn’t have to tell them they shouldn’t come back to work tomorrow. I do not know how executives do it all of the time, this hiring and firing. It is a distasteful job, having to make the decision about who works and who doesn’t.

In the last five days, I have had to let two people go, as I said before. I won’t slander them by telling you what was wrong. The decision was agonized over, for weeks, and it was making me really something of an ogre. I was angry, short-tempered, and not very much myself.

Today, for the first time in weeks, I prayed while working again. I talked with God, pleading with Him, asking Him to help me to understand freedom again. I have been bound by my own desire to be nice to everyone, to keep giving chances, and this all caused stress beyond what I could bear.

This afternoon, I laughed at work. I actually picked up tools, and DID something, rather than running around trying make certain everyone had direction. Today I worked.

There is a reason I love my job, besides being able to design and build things. I love my job because it has stress relief built right in. For example, I spent the better part of four hours straightening and plumbing (vertically leveling) a door that had been set months ago, and had drywall installed around it already. Why was this door not straight? Don’t know.

The point is, for these four hours, it was me against the door. I knew I would win, not because I am arrogant. I knew I would win because I refused to fail. My stress level was high when I took this door on, and as the first hour waned, it was even higher. Nothing I did worked.

But sometime between the third and fourth hour, new hope was ignited within me. Maybe it was prayer, maybe it was once again realizing the grace of God, and being forgiven because I can’t hold jobs forever for people who don’t want to work. I felt guilty, as if I had caused the reason for the two men to be let go. I searched my mind as I was working, trying to figure out where I had gone wrong with these two guys. And as I worked with the door, a strange parallel formed.

I tried to figure out where I had gone wrong with this door, so many months before, when I realized I hadn’t installed this door, and I was fixing someone else’s mistake. Immediately, the stress left me, and the joy of simple work returned. The parallel swirled around in my mind, and became a circle, complete with understanding that it wasn’t my guilt to own, not for the door, and not for the two men I had to let go.

I had been blaming myself, almost punishing myself, and there was no freedom in sight. I guess some prisons we spend time in are prisons of our own making. I am free tonight, and it feels wonderful. Welcome back to my home, you all.



I normally would not post in such a manner as I am going to post tonight, but I am on the cusp of anger about something I read today at a different blog.

I have seen yet another aggregator form, this one being a blog aggregator for theology. And what are the criteria to be a member in this newest aggregator?

1. An earned doctorate in theological studies or closely relateddiscipline;
2. Active involvement in vocational ministry.
3. Anybody I deem worthy. :)

Take a close look at number one. I left a comment at the blog site I saw this on. I will not name names, nor will I even give the name of the new aggregator, or the aggregator’s creator. I just want to share the gist of what I said at this other blog, and why I said it.

I said that it appears that Jesus would not qualify to be included in this aggregator, and I also said, “Thank God, why would we ever want to hear what a carpenter has to say about theology.”

Those were my words, and I stand by them. One might ask why? Here’s why. Because I read the post, and the comments regarding that post that caused this new aggregator to be formed. In essence, people who have not studied, who are not “pedigreed” have no business discussing theology on their blogs. This was the reason given for a certain post that was written not too long ago, a post on the need of policing people’s discussions over theology.

Here is where I tell you that you should probably never visit this blog again, because I discuss theological issues sometimes, and I have no pedigree. Thus, I have no business discussing theology.

Shall I utter the seven woes Jesus uttered to the theologians of His time? There is a reason my favorite verse is “Woe to you, Pharisees and teachers of the Law. You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”

Shall I share my reason?

I love this verse so much because it serves as a constant reminder to me of how precious it is to know God, and how wonderful it is to be able to share His word. I love this verse because it forces me to make certain of what I say to anyone, believer or not, so that I will not mislead them. And this verse is all about letting the “learned” know their place, that it is not higher, rather, that it is lower than that of the common everyday man who doesn’t know all of this garbage we call theology.

A true leader, a wise leader keeps not the flock in check. Rather, he seeks always to free them from snares and hindrances, to keep them clear of danger, and guide them to the Reason, that Reason being Jesus Christ.

This new aggregator irritates me in such a way because it smacks of arrogance. The very arrogance that Jesus killed on the cross, and here we are two thousand years later trying to resurrect the death that is this arrogance.

The common believer has no business discussing theology on his blog? Well, if you mean by theology that garbage which “learned” men, people with pedigrees worship more than they worship God, then I say, you are damned right! Throw it all away, I say! It is garbage, utterly useless compared to the power of grace.

Our theology cannot save an ant, much less a human being, and I would rather live one piece of truth, than know twenty five volumes of the crap we call theology. So learned men, I say this; I have met few men or women who are pedigreed who have any business telling any common believer what to do. I have met few who could carry a candle next to Jesus, much less tell others what to believe, and what is right and not right in “theology”.

Swallow your arrogance, it has no place in a believer, and silence not the sheep. They know more than you think. But the academia that is theology is not Christianity, it’s bar room brawls disguised underneath so-called courtesy. You would sacrifice your brother on the altar of right to prove your point. That’s not Christianity, that’s intellectual assault and battery. I have seen it so often in “Christian” blogs that it makes me sick. For a while, I even participated, until I realized what I was doing.

If the common believers want to discuss theology, I say, let them! At least they’re using their own minds, rather than being led astray by the same men who make the same mistakes time and time again. Or is that what “theologians” are afraid of? That the believer would think for himself, know the truth, and thus, be set free from the hindrances and legalism that the modern church is becoming?

Martin Luther battled this very issue so many years ago. In his time, “theologians” believed the common man couldn’t understand the holy words of God, and thus, the common man was not even allowed to read scripture. I see in these comments by theologians, and partially in the forming of this aggregator the same arrogance that would have driven Martin Luther insane with rage.

Maybe the aggregator is going to be completely benign. I doubt it, though. The works of men are never completely benign. Our motives speaks volumes of our deeds, and who knows the deep motives of every theologian, or even of every man? If we are honest before God, and we say such a thing as “the common believer has no business discussing theology on his blog”, is there even a chance that the major motive behind such words is not arrogance? I’d say, knowing me, that if I said such a thing, arrogance would be the driving force, and all men have the same thoughts running around in their heads, regardless of what their lips say to everyone else.

I am saddened that hundreds of years after Luther, we still have to be elite to “know” the secret things of God. I will tell you this truth. A child knows far more about the secret things of God than any theologian ever learned in a book. See a child someday, and watch the joy they portray. That is the secret knowledge of God. The knowledge that men can gain from praising each other’s books and suppositions can never match the truth of God that is found in the joy of a child.

Jesus wouldn’t be caught dead in an aggregator that excluded the sheep. Rather, He’d seek to keep the sheep from the hands of all those who ever came before Him, the robbers and thieves. It seems today’s theologians don’t have time to do that simple task of guarding the sheep. Instead, they are too busy pontificating about theological issues. I wonder what that’s all about.



“Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other” 1 Corinthians 4:6.

This verse really stuck with me the other day, for some odd reason. In its context, Paul was talking about the Corinthian church exceeding, or going beyond what Paul and other Apostles had written to them previously, as well as exceeding what is written in Old Testament Scripture.

Gee, that sounds like a problem we have today, doesn’t it?

Over at Adrian Warnock’s UK blog, there has been quite a discussion going on about the simplicity of the gospel. If you check out his blog, you will see that Adrian has handled this discussion very nicely.

I do have this to say, however. Having read the many posts Adrian has written on this issue, I must say that to me, the gospel is very simple. One of the things we tend to include within the gospel is the idea that Jesus died for our sins, and that it is our sins keeping us from entering the Kingdom. The premise that it is our sins that need to be paid for, or that a sacrifice is required before we can be saved.

I would agree with this in technical terms. However, understanding the need for a sacrifice is not the gospel. In fact, the gospel, as far as I understand it, is much simpler than the requirement of sin debt to be paid, and the requirement of baptism. Why do I say this?

I think the reason I believe this is because of what both Jesus and Paul had to say on the gospel. To be certain, Jesus did come for the forgiveness of sins. However, He approached it much differently than we do today, the way I see it. As I read scripture, I see Jesus being far more focused on “belief” than on sin debt payment. As I read Paul, I see him saying some of the same things. Listen to this.

But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Romans 10: 8-11

This is one of the strongest examples of a pure gospel I have found in the New Testament. If you noticed, Paul literally told us that verse nine (If you confess with your mouth) was the very gospel he preached. Convincingly, it agrees with what Jesus said almost everywhere. Believing in Jesus for eternal life is the strongest common theme in the gospels. Requiring your sins to be forgiven so that you can be saved is a minor theme, and when compared to believing in Jesus for eternal life, the mention of sin seems almost an afterthought. I wonder why that is?

Was Jesus telling us something by His seemingly willful omission of the mention of sin in His gospel?

I am the first to admit that sin separated us from God, and that this separation needed to rectified. But I am also saying that Jesus didn’t focus on sin, instead, He focused on belief. Rather than giving them sermon after sermon on the need for debt payment, He gave them reason after reason to believe, by His words, by His works, and by scripture.

I believe if we want to people to believe in what we believe, in the risen Christ as Lord, then we should teach them to believe. The added baggage of sin debt can be learned any time. But to use sin debt as a pry bar, to use it as the reason people should believe, I think, is the wrong reason. The payment of our sin debt should be an issue of gratitude, and how can someone be thankful ahead of time? In other words, how can they be thankful if they do not believe?

That is what we are asking people to do, to be thankful to a Lord they do not believe in because He died for their sins. Jesus didn’t preach the gospel of sin debt. He preached the gospel of belief in Him, for eternal life. Payment for our sin is huge, yet Jesus didn’t focus on sin much? What’s up with that?

What’s your opinion about this? I really like to hear it.



Okay. There are no pressing issues to blog about right now, so far as I know. I hope you guys are all still praying for miracles. I am. It doesn’t matter how good I am, the outcome of the prayer doesn’t depend on me, and we should ALL be thankful about that.

Because I don’t have anything pressing upon me to write about, I thought I’d share an encounter I had with Hans und Frans today. Yes, that’s right, Hans und Frans are back, huger than ever.

I had a chance to interview them tonight, about an issue dear to my heart, and an issue they have written several books about, and have a videotape workout that coincides with this. What is the topic? How God made Hans und Frans so huge, of course, Silly.

So without further ado, here is the interview that will change your life.

Tom: Welcome back, Hans und Frans. I won’t bother to introduce you, since everyone already knows who you are.

Hans: Ya, we are the hugest believers ever!! Hear me now!! We are huge!

Frans: Ya, listen to me now, und think about it later, but whatever you do, listen to me now! We are huge!

Tom: Alrighty then, let’s jump right into this. Hans, the last time I talked with you, you told me something that made me feel a bit like I didn’t "measure" up. Do you remember what that was?

Hans: Ya, of course I do! I told you that you were a puny little girly Christian, barely able even to lift your own body weight for God, and that you ought to be ashamed because you are not more like me!. Ya!

Frans: Ya! But don’t forget, Hans. You also told him that if he didn’t become more like us, that he would be forever doomed to puniness und flabbulence. Not to mention that if we weren’t so humble, we wouldn’t even think of hanging around such a WEAKling girly-Christian.

Tom: Alright, I think we get the picture. Well, Hans, as you can see, I’ve tried really hard to measure up recently, and I think I’ve bulked up nicely. Have you noticed?

Hans: (laughing) Seriously Tom, hear me now, und think about it later, I see no difference! Of course, that might be because I just bench-pressed seven hundred und thirty pounds fifty times, und my chest und arms are ABSOLUTLEY pumped to the point that I can’t see anything beyond them.

Frans: Ya, I see no difference either, und I would know, because I can see. I only worked out my legs for thirteen hours today, so I have no bulging upper torso muscles, except what is normally huge, to get in the way of my eyes. You are still puny, my little friend. Und…if I were you, I would hear me now, und think about it later.

Tom: What would I hear, if I were to hear you now, Frans?

Frans: I just told you what you should hear, Tom. Are your ears so puny as well, my miniscule friend? I know you need to get pumped up, because you are a weakling girly Christian, und the devil is just waiting to bring his smack down on you, because you have no muscles to fight him off with.

Tom: I thought our battles weren’t against the flesh, but against the powers and principalities of the air?

Hans: Ya, you’re battle is going to be with me, if you keep disagreeing with us, my miniscule, unpumped, flabby little friend. Hear me now!

Tom: Yes?

Hans: What?

Tom: You said “Hear me now”. I am waiting to hear what you have to say now.

Hans: I already said it, puny girly man.

Frans: Ya! Und here is something else for you to think about, tiny girly-boy. If you are not huge like us, then you are not a real believer. You are only a PRETEND believer.

Hans: Ya! Und if you can’t bench press seven hundred pounds thirty times, then you can’t do all things through Christ. Ya, und then, the world would know you were Christian, if you were huge like us.

Tom: I was told repeatedly by a friend of mine that you guys are way too arrogant. I defended you, you know that?

Frans: Puny little minisculity of a man, if the day comes that we need you to defend us, then you will know you are huger than us. (looking at me he said..) That day is a long, long, long way away, my limp, muscle-less friend. (Hans flexes his muscles in the background)

Tom: Well, I’ll have you know that I have been losing weight, AND pumping up. I’ve toned myself recently, ya know?

Hans: Ya! Und given ten billion years, a monkey will one day write a novel! Ha ha!! Very funny, my little friend. However, you are still the same puny little Christian you were last year at this time. You have not grown, because you do not pump yourself up like we pump ourselves up. If you want to be huge in faith, then you have to be like us. No other way will work.

Frans: Ya, all the others are just pretenders, like Billy Graham..

Hans: Ya, what does he know?

Frans: Ya!! Und like Max Lucado.

Hans: Ya! Is he going to protect you when Satan comes a calling? No, but muscles will!!! Ya!! Muscles are your only hope. Jesus said so. “For God so loved the world, that he gave us all of His muscles, so that whoever was pumped up would be saved, like us.

Tom: Well, I can see very little has changed in you two. By the way, God didn't give us muscles, you dingbats! He gave us His only Son, Jesus! We’ll be saying goodbye now, from Two Rivers, this has been Hans und Frans

Hans: Ya, und their puny little friend, Tom. Don’t sell yourself short, little girly man. There is hope for you yet.

Frans: Ya! Have you heard about our all new diet, for puny little pip-squeaks like you who want to be huge like us?

Tom: um…….no

Hans: Ya, be sure to catch us next time, when you can learn how to eat all the meat und sweets you want, so long as you keep pumping up. The South Beach diet is for girly-believers. If you want to be huge, like us, then you NEED to get pumped up….like us



There had been silence in the room up until the moment Missy’s mother passed away. Whether that remained the case or not, Missy was not aware, nor did she care to remember. She only wanted to bury her face in her father’s chest, hide if she could, get away from here as fast as possible, and take mommy with her.

She didn’t want all these people here, and it wasn’t until some years later that she finally understood why they had been there in the first place. But for this moment, Missy could think of nothing, and understand nothing but the fact that she was never going to see her mom alive again. That fact loomed in her mind, and overshadowed everything else, including all of the kind words from the people gathered there to visit her mom one last time. These who had come to see her pass into God’s waiting arms. These who had loved her mommy.

Missy wasn’t selfish, she could only process this with the mind and emotional capabilities that an eight year old possesses. Because of that, temporarily all of the other people disappeared from her recognition; the only thing that remained was her lifeless mother, and her father’s warm chest.

She could feel him sobbing now, shaking as he held her in his arms. And with his sobbing, her heart broke completely. She had never seen her father cry, and to be held by him now as he wept was too much for an eight-year-old’s heart to bear. The world had changed in an instant, and nothing was as it had been just five minutes before. Nothing would ever be the same again.

And suddenly, thoughts raced through her mind like streaks of lightning dashing across the sky. “Mommy’s not going to wake up from this.” Her mind said. “I’m never going to see her again! She’ll never take me to the park, or to a movie, or hold me when I’m sick. I’ll never get to talk to her again, and ask her what it was like when she was a kid. I’ll never get to dress up with her for church, or sit on her lap and watch television just before bed. She’ll never read me another story, and we aren’t even done with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe! Who’s going to read with me now? Oh mommy!!!” And sobs shook her as well, all in an instant.

As her sobbing gently dissipated, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She didn’t want to look and see who was touching her. She tried to pull away, the touch seemed offensive to her skin, as if it would burn her should it linger any longer. Missy didn’t want anything right now, she didn’t want to talk, she didn’t want to look, she just wanted her daddy to carry them all home, mommy as well, and put her in bed, so she could cry without all these people watching.

“Leave me alone!!” She screamed. “I don’t want you! I want my mommy!”, and she burst into tears again.

The nurse, who had been inside of the room all the while unnoticed, looked reprovingly at Pastor Jack. “I told you, she should not have been here for this.”

Missy looked up from her father’s chest in time to see Pastor Jack’s face contort with something she had never seen in it before. Was he angry?

“She just lost her mom, Ma’am, her heart is broken. It costs you nothing, would let her have this?!” He whispered vehemently

The nurse appeared shocked at Pastor Jack’s response, and quickly answered, “We have other patients we have to think about. We can’t have all of this crying and screaming when there are others who will be affected by it.” She straightened her sweater over her uniform as she made to move into the hallway outside the room.

“Right now, I don’t care about the others,” Pastor Jack said. “Do you have no compassion for this child? Put yourself in her shoes, would you? Would you have denied her the chance to say goodbye?” He whispered hoarsely.

The nurse looked at Missy briefly, and then swung around and left the room. Missy could swear she heard Pastor Jack mutter something like “dammit!” under his breath. Then he looked at Missy, and wiped a tear away from his left eye, the same eye that had teared up just before Missy entered her mother’s room.

Missy had turned around to face him fully now, and asked, “She doesn’t like my mommy, does she?”

Pastor Jack shook his head softly, and answered, “Of course she does, sweetie. She’s just worried about the other patients in the hospital, that’s all.”

“Well…I don’t want her to touch my mommy anymore. I want her to stay away from me, and from my mommy..... I wish it was her who was dead!” The moment she said this, she regretted it, and quickly cried “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I don’t mean it, I really don’t. Ohhh, please, I ‘m sorry Pastor Jack!”

“I know you are sweetie, and I know you didn’t mean it. Don’t worry on it now, ‘kay?” He said, as he patted her hand softly.

Auntie Jeanne again put her hand on Missy’s shoulder, and then her father said something Missy couldn’t quite hear. She knew, though, she just knew what he was saying.

“I don’t want to leave! I’m gonna stay here with mommy, she needs me, she needs me….in case, in case she isn’t really dead!.” Missy squealed, on the verge of breaking into tears all over.

“Missy….” Her daddy told her, “Momma’s up with Jesus now, He’s taking care of her, and she won’t need anything here anymore. You don’t have to worry anymore, Jesus is going to take better care of her than both you and me ever could.” He paused briefly, looking her in the eye. “You have to go with Aunt Jeanne for a little while, okay? I have to take care of a few things here, and then I’ll be with you really quickly. Please, Missy, Aunt Jeanne will take good care of you.”

“I can take care of myself, Daddy. Can’t I please just stay with mommy for a little while? I’m never going to get to see her again.” And she broke, once more.

Jeanne looked at her Daddy, and silently nodded her approval. Missy’s father took her hands in his, then tenderly intertwined his fingers with hers, and lifted them to her face, which he cradled softly. “Okay, Missy, you can stay, for a little while longer. I have to leave the room now, I have to go and see the administrator of the hospital with Pastor Jack. I want you to stay quiet, okay? Try not to talk too loudly, try to whisper if you can. Will you promise me?”

“Yes Daddy, I promise.” Missy answered between sniffles. Her father looked at her for a long moment, and then turned toward Pastor Jack.

“Let’s get this over with….” He said sullenly. Pastor Jack nodded, and put his arm around Ben’s shoulder. As they turned to walk out of the room, Ben stumbled briefly, maybe from weakness, maybe from exhaustion. Whatever the reason, Pastor Jack steadied him, looking into his eyes with deep compassion, and then pulled Ben into his arms and embraced him. “I’m so very sorry, brother. So very, very sorry.” He sobbed.

Ben’s shoulders slumped momentarily, and then he stepped back from Jack, squarely facing him, as bravely as he could. “Jack, remember when you asked if you could help in any way?” He asked.

Jack nodded, but said nothing.

“Well, Jack, I’m gonna need every bit of that help now. The thing is, I don’t even know where to start.” Ben put his arm around Jack’s shoulders this time, and together, they made to leave the room.

Missy, who had been watching this exchange between her father and her pastor, ran behind her father and tapped him on the back.

“Ben twisted around, a puzzled look in his eyes.

“Are you going to come back for me, Daddy?” Missy asked, her wide eyes now immense with pain, and fear.

Ben knelt before his daughter, hugged her briefly, and sighed, “I promise you, sweetie, I’ll always come back.” With that, he kissed Missy’s wet cheek, stood up, turned, and disappeared into the hallway. Auntie Jeanne and Missy looked at each other for a moment, and then went to the bed where Missy’s mother lay.

“I promise you, sweetie, I’ll always come back” were the words Missy held onto for the rest of the evening, quietly waiting beside her mom, for her father to return. Those were the same words she would hold onto every time he went somewhere, they were the words of hope for her heart. For quite some time, the fear of losing her Daddy would always be lurking around every door he disappeared out of.



I see trees of green........ red roses too
I see ’em bloom..... for me and for you
And I think to myself.... what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue..... clouds of white
Bright blessed days....dark sacred nights
And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world.

The colors of a rainbow.....so pretty ..in the sky
Are also on the faces.....of people ..going by
I see friends shaking hands.....sayin’.. how do you do
They’re really sayin’......i love you.

I hear babies cry...... I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more.....than I’ll never know
And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world

The colors of a rainbow.....so pretty ..in the sky
Are there on the faces.....of people ..going by
I see friends shaking hands.....sayin’.. how do you do
They’re really sayin’...*spoken*(I ....love....you).

I hear babies cry...... I watch them grow
(you know their gonna learn
A whole lot more than I’ll never know)
And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself .......what a wonderful world.

Recognize those lyrics? You should. For a while, in the nineties, it seemed like every movie played in theaters had one of Louis Armstrong’s songs in its soundtrack. Okay, maybe not every movie, but enough that at one point, I made note of it.

Louis Armstrong grew up in racist America. He was born and raised in the birthplace of Jazz, New Orleans, LA, in the very early twentieth century. Growing up, Louis was a worker from the age of seven on, running rags and coal for a wealthy family to try and help raise money for his family. Imagine a seven year old in today’s America being counted on to win bread for the family. Know any seven year olds?

Now, this post didn’t come about on its own. Several days ago, my pastor used these very lyrics in his sermon, and said some of the same things I am going to say here. I just felt it was a good thing if I were to share this wonderful world, and this wonderful man, and all of the lessons we can learn from his attitude about the world he lived in.

The colors of a rainbow.....so pretty ..in the sky
Are also on the faces.....of people ..going by
I see friends shaking hands.....sayin’.. how do you do
They’re really sayin’......i love you.

Did I mention that Louis Armstrong grew up in a racist America? At the time of his birth, and in the Deep South, blacks were not allowed in many of the places whites were. Some examples of that would be churches, stores, restaurants, town halls, schools, and all manner of other businesses and locations.

For a black man to even speak to a white woman when not addressed constituted a forward sexual advance, and many black men were jailed or worse for doing so. What a wonderful world.

Louis doubtlessly heard the word “nigger” repeatedly, every day. What a wonderful world? To live in such a time, to be called the names he was called, and treated as less than human, is unthinkable. Yet it happened, right here in America.

What was Louis’ response? “What a wonderful world.”

How many of us could suffer the same, and still claim this as a wonderful world? How does a man who experienced racism all of his life write such a song?

My pastor spoke of thankfulness, and of an ability to recognize God’s good works amidst all of the hate and evil in this world. I believe that is what is takes to write such a song. I believe it takes a willingness to find God, in everything, and if possible, to give thanks for what we find, wherever we find it.

I know of people in Egypt jailed for their faith, beaten, and left to suffer for weeks sharing a two foot by four foot cell with rats and feces for weeks on end, who do nothing but praise God, and glorify Him for all of His good works. How is it possible for these faithful to be so thankful, and praising?

That is a question we must all answer, because in America, I see precious little praising of God, and we suffer nothing in comparison to what the faithful in Egypt, Palestine, and other Muslim nations suffer. In America, we are wealthy, and every so often we hear of one our “rights” being trampled, such as the right to pray in school. Immediately, we complain, and set out to change it. Change is good, but along with this attitude of regaining our “rights”, do we also find praise for God? Or do we cry out, and complain for that which we have lost, and demand that it be returned?

I know the answer to that question for America as a whole. You will too, if you remember September eleven. The cry from our nation was “God bless America”. It wasn’t a cry of praise. It was a demand.

So, where do we go from here? Do we actively seek the praise of God? Or do we actively seek to find the bad, and comment about it?

Look at those lyrics again. If anyone had a platform and reason for hate, it was Louis Armstrong. He grew up in hate, he was its victim, and his response to it was gratitude, so much that he had to write a song about how he felt.

Christians murdered for their faith. Skies so blue you have to squint sometimes just to see them. What a wonderful world.

Sex in every corner, on every television set, and completely permeating many American minds. Children singing “Yes Jesus loves me”. What a wonderful world.
Politicians lying, the wealthy and powerful enslaving the masses through gimmicks and revolving credit. One soul believing in Jesus. What a wonderful world.

Thank you Lord



I traveled the blogorizon tonight, and now I just feel rotten. But this post isn’t going to be about me. I feel rotten because my heart hurts; because people are hurting today, and I have no answers.

But, I’ll tell you what I do know. I know my God, who is a miracle worker. He claims it, and I believe it. So, here is what I am going to do. I am going to pray for miracles. God knows I don’t perform them myself, but if I did, at least three people would be rejoicing in miracles tonight.

I am not God, and one of my spiritual disciplines, (something I must do everyday) is to remind myself that I am not God. I have to do that every day, or else I get all arrogant, and self-righteous. But doing that helps me realize who God is, and how impossible it is for me to know what He will do, and won’t do. This I know, there isn’t anything He isn’t capable of. Thus, the prayers for miracles. I thank You, God, that you are not like me. I can’t stress that strongly enough tonight.

The people I read about are either sick, in deep emotional pain, or in physical pain. All are afraid.

Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to read about the three people I have posted here, visit them, and then do one other thing. I’ll let you know what that other thing is at the end of this post.

Christine just found out that her parents house burned in a fire. She asks so many questions, and I have absolutely no answers.

The Bigg Fish suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, and is currently suffering through another flare up, which has caused him to fall several times. I am certain there is fear, but I am hopeful for peace, and for far more.

Michelle has a mom who has recently been diagnosed with cancer of the liver, an incurable form of cancer. You know what that means. She lives in South Africa, but needs to get to Australia, to help her mom and dad through this. Can you help? If so, let her know.

Okay, here is what I want you to do. Let them know you are praying for them. And MEAN it. I ask you to step beyond the “proper” Christian response, which is to say we’ll pray, and then say we are sorry for what they are going through. All those things we say are good, but there is one thing I know, many people who say they’ll pray for someone else don’t ever remember to do it. I am asking you to remember to do it. I am not implying that you would forget, or that you ever say you’ll pray, and then don’t. I also ask that for just a moment, imagine if these people were you.

If you know me, you know there is a reason I am so direct about this. I believe that if we are to pray, then it must be done in honesty before God. That causes me pause more than I care to admit. I literally have to stop sometimes, and think about what I am saying to God.

I believe that if we are going to pray, then let’s pray right now. Why wait? In fact, why not pray as often as we can, as often as we think.

I’ll tell you this. I am asking for a miracle, in each case. I do not claim to know what God will do, but I do claim, loudly, to know that He can do this.

So this is what I ask; please pray, and believe He can do it. Ask for the biggest gift you can think of. Never mind the possibilities, God is a God for Whom all things are possible. Forget the impossible, it doesn’t exist.

And if you can, if you will, be a squeaky wheel. Don’t go away from God silent. Keep praying about this if you will. I am going to be a squeaky wheel, and I am hoping they all get the grease they need.

The prayers of a righteous person are powerful. You are all righteous people. Remember that when you pray.

Father, I am not approaching You arrogantly, but I am approaching You boldly. You told me to ask for good gifts. I believe so perfectly that You are able to do this, there is no doubt. But I do not claim to know what You will do. I only ask.

Christine needs reassurance, and a place to come home to, I ask that you give that to her, in abundance unexplainable.

The Bigg Fish is suffering, God, and these last months, getting to know him has been such a wonderful joy to me. Fish, and his wife, Liesa, write about You all of the time. You know how Fish has suffered, I ask You now, in the name of Jesus Christ, to take it away completely, to heal him. Give him peace, Lord, and a very physical example of how real You are, so he can praise you, glorify You, and share this gospel of his life with everyone. No, he doesn't need the miracle in order to glorify You, or to share the gospel of his life, but I ask You, because You can, to imagine that gospel, and what wonders You would achieve through this.

Michelle is living the hell that is having a mother die from cancer, so far away, and she has no way to get there, to her mom, in Australia. Father, you can see her pain, I know You can. You can heal this pain, you can heal her mom. I ask that You do, not for me, but for her, and for all who will hear of this, and You know how many will. Help her find the way to get to Australia, bring her those who can help, they are Yours, and You have given them the means to bring this about. Free them, so they will desire nothing more than to help Michelle as quickly as possible. And Father, Michelle can't just take off. She needs money to live, too, finances that will allow her to travel, and not be set back into a financial crisis because of it. I ask you to remember that as well, as You already have.

I would not ask this, God, if I believed You couldn't do it. You have given me faith, so if I believe that You can do this, then there must be a reason, and I believe You long for us to ask these things of You. This is the faith You gave me, and this is what I am doing with it. I pray You will smile on us all, to see Your faith shine in us. In Jesus name, I pray, I beg. Amen.



MTV, Justin and Janet, you now know what a good Super Bowl half time show looks like.

Paul McCartney was nothing if not energized and spectacular. How old is he, anyway. Does anyone really know?

Paul McCartney proved that a widely watched show does not need sex, three quarter naked women, or wild hip and rear gyrations to be a roaring success. All a good show needs is talent. Paul McCartney proved yet again that if there is a king of rock, he’s it.

Surprisingly, he didn’t need to moon the audience, give the world the finger, or expose himself, to get this rave review. I wonder if the rest of the media will give him good grades. After last year’s halftime show, this one should be made into a gold video, and aspiring performers should be forced to watch it as part of training to perform well without insulting, or sexually arousing your audience. It won’t happen, but it should.

The crowd sang WITH him!! Na na na na na na na!! Na na na na, hey Jude!!

The first three songs were lively, and familiar. They were fitting, and culture bridging. They were songs that nearly everyone in the western world has heard at least one time or another. I cannot speak for the rest of the world, for I do not know what they are familiar with. Can anyone tell me if the world is familiar with old Beatles’ music?

I have to admit. I am biased. I have always loved the Beatles. John Lennon’s So This is Christmas (Yes, he wasn’t a Beatle when he sang it) is my favorite Christmas song. So maybe my unprofessional review of the halftime show isn’t straight up with reality.

I will say this, though. When I heard the beginnings of Hey Jude, my heart leaped. Why would this one song make me feel so joyful? It’s just another Beatles song, you might say.

Not to me. You see, Hey Jude is the song I hummed to my daughter every night as I rocked her to sleep for the first year of her life. It brought back so many memories. For that, I am thankful. Hey Jude rocks!!!

And so did this half time show.

Congratulations to the Patriots, and to Feeble Knees, who is not only a die hard Red Sox fan, but also a die hard Patriots fan. Too bad the Patriots lost to the Packers in the Super Bowl ten years ago. Well, okay, not too bad. We have Brett Favre, and as good as Tom Brady is, he isn’t Brett Favre, and never will be. Still, I’d rather have three Super Bowl victories, and I am sure Brett would say the same thing.



A while back, several people posted about spiritual discipline. About nineteen hundred years ago, Paul posted about spiritual discipline as well. Here is what he said;

I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but {only} one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:23-27 NASB

It seems Paul wasn’t too concerned about discipline being akin to legalism, doesn’t it? In fact, it looks as though Paul was a regular practicer of discipline, enough so to be able to mention it in this letter to the Corinthians openly, without fear of rebuke.

To start this post, I mentioned that a while back, several bloggers wrote about spiritual discipline. The range of comments they received for their efforts was vast. Some wholeheartedly agreed with them, while others chastened them for being legalistic, and for seeking to be under some kind of law.

Here is a spiritual truth I have learned. No one who is of Christ is any longer under any law. There are two commandments we live by, to love God fully, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. But to be placed as being under the law for practicing spiritual disciplines is impossible. The Law no longer applies to those who believe, therefore, whatever they do, they do in freedom. And in scripture, we are told to make sure that we do not use this freedom as a license for evil.

Yet there are many who would say, “But practicing spiritual discipline is legalism”. I would answer, “So long as the one practicing it is in Christ, no it is not. Who are you to judge your brother?” This might start arguments, but sometimes, arguments are necessary, so that the truth will not be suppressed.

Paul disciplined his body, and he had no misgivings about any sort of legalism. Yet in the verses above, don’t we see some sort of desire of Paul’s to earn that which was already given freely?

“so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Is Paul trying to earn something here? Most assuredly not. He is speaking from his heart, and his heart’s desire is to discipline his body, to make it his slave, not under compulsion from any sense of duty to the law, but under freedom to be made more free.

See, this is the great lie of our time, that discipline is slavery and legalism. We hear this all over the place, and it is said in the face of what Paul said in this letter to some Corinthians. Paul, a spiritual giant. The one who was taken up to the seventh heaven, and received special revelations, the likes of which no one in this world has received since. Would we call Paul a legalist, too? I wonder what kind words he would have for anyone who dared call him a legalist.

What are spiritual disciplines? I would say spiritual disciplines are those things we practice on a daily basis, not because it is required, but because we want to, and because we know it will yield results bearing fruit.

There is the danger in these disciplines, of beginning to worship our disciplines more than we worship God. This would be Pharisaical. But to simply practice discipline? No, that is not legalism.

Spiritual disciplines will free you, not enslave you. Of course there also is the fear that we will be judged as being legalistic. If that is our fear, may I venture to say that we are enslaved to more than just legalism, that maybe we are enslaved to our own image, our own ego? And if we fear to discipline ourselves, to buffet our bodies and minds, are we maybe also enslaved to our bodies, and to our minds?

Here is a truth, the flesh will always do something. It may be good, or it may be evil, but it will always be doing something. Flesh that is disciplined, and made as our slave will do our bidding. Flesh that is not disciplined, will enslave us. So, we have a choice, we can discipline our flesh, and our mind, and make these things our slave, or we can be a slave to our flesh. There will be no in-between.

So why the fear over discipline leading to legalism? Is it possibly that it’s because discipline brings to mind discomfort? Ever hear someone say, “When I pray, my day just goes better?” What is that? I have to speak honestly here. Some of the greatest, most intense meetings I have shared with the Lord have been followed up by the worst, most discouraging, uncomfortable days I have known. It doesn’t always happen that way, but it has happened enough for me to know that praying is no guarantee of a comfortable day, neither is not praying a guarantee of a “bad” day.

Do we do what we think will make us the most comfortable? And if so, why? What has our comfort got to do with anything? If all we seek from the Lord is comfort, we are living in the wrong age.

This age is hard. There are temptations around every corner, and our flesh yearns for these temptations, it yearns for release, and for comfort. The flesh will gravitate toward that which will bring it the most comfort. But we are not to be slaves to our flesh, rather, our flesh is to be our slave, doing our bidding.

I was asked just yesterday, what four or five things do I do everyday to ensure that I will live a free and empowered life? I did not answer, but I know what they are. And I know, if I do not discipline myself, my self will enslave me. The only way I can be free of my flesh, free of its cravings and lusts, is to discipline it, to make it my slave, to make it obey me. And I have this power through Christ to do just that, and it is not legalism, rather, it is freedom.

Our flesh is all about slavery, to disdain the discipline of it is to disdain freedom from it.

Theory tells us we are free, and this is true. But real life tells us that our flesh will constantly try to enslave us, if we do not discipline it. If I wanted to live in La la land, I might believe that discipline is a bad thing. But I have memories. Memories of being enslaved to my flesh, and these memories tell me all I need to know about the reality of the flesh. I can live my life in theory, or I can live my life in reality. Reality tells me that the flesh, left unchecked, will enslave me. I want to be free, and thus, I will do whatever I have to in order to get there.

Simply believing that I am free will help, but it will not get me where I want to go. I cannot sit in this chair, and do nothing, and expect to accomplish great things. Even if I believe that I will accomplish great things, still, I have to leave this chair to do it. Faith is not merely believing. Faith is moving because we believe, it is doing and acting out that which we believe. But to simply believe will not accomplish anything. Our faith LEADS us to action, and so also, our faith will lead us to discipline.

That is what Paul was talking about when he said this;

Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:23-27 NASB



Missy was late! She had to get to the hospital, she had promised her mom she’d be there every day.

Things weren’t the same anymore, not since Missy’s Mom had been sick the first time. Now, she was always sick. “She used to pick me up from school every day” Missy thought, as she ran along Oak street as fast as her legs would carry her.

“It’s not fair!”, Missy cried, to no one in particular. Why is my Mom the one who’s sick? Why couldn’t it be someone else’s mom? What had Missy done to deserve this? As she ran, all of these thoughts paraded around in her mind once again.

This wasn’t the first time Missy had run from school to get to the hospital. “Stupid Mr. Betcher!” She exclaimed in exasperation. “It’s his fault I’m late.! I could have gotten that dumb book anytime, why’d he have to make me wait for so long?”

Mr. Betcher was Missy’s third grade reading teacher, and under normal circumstances, he would have rated fairly high on her list of “teachers I like”. Tonight, however, he was not someone Missy liked. Tonight, he was the devil, because he had made her late to visit her mom. And if Missy was late, mom would worry, and mom shouldn’t have to worry, what with everything she was going through.

What was it the doctor called it again? Brain stem Glioma? Cancer! Mommy has a brain tumor, and they can’t operate!! Why???!! Missy was running full bore now, having turned into the parking lot from Oak street. Her mind was racing as fast as her legs. “I can’t believe my mommy’s dying.”, her mind whispered, in agony, as the stress of the five minute run from school, and all of the worry of being late came crashing down upon her. Tears streamed down her pretty face, she saw in her reflection off the glass.

She opened the heavy glass door, and dashed inside. “Gotta go left at the sign! Okay, now right at the end of the hall. Elevator!” Missy gasped, as she pressed the button, and waited for the door to open.

Missy was eight years old, and very bright for her age. Her mom had told her she must have been a “proggidy?” Oh!! What was that word!? She was tall for her age, also, which resulted in people usually thinking she was in fifth grade already, not third. Missy had jet black, curly hair that did whatever it wanted to, despite numerous attempts to tame it. Especially when it was hot and humid, the curls seemed to tighten, and her hair would then sprout at different angles from her head.

She was a beautiful child, with green eyes, and pastel skin, smooth as silk. In truth, she almost could have passed for a china doll, had her eyes not been so large, and her hair so curly. Her eyes were the most prominent feature on her face, round, and dark, sitting within a sea of foam. Some would have called her wide eyed and dreamy, only Missy was anything but dreamy.

She was the type of young girl who could hold articulated conversations with adults, and then be seen leading the neighborhood children on a hunt for butterflies and frogs to capture. She was a tomboy who played with dolls.

“Finally!” Missy rasped as the elevator opened. A tall bald doctor got off, and Missy got on. “Third floor” Missy whispered, as she pressed the button. “Gotta get there!” she said through gritted teeth, as she tapped her foot impatiently. The elevator door opened again, and she read the sign by the door to be sure. “third floor, 'kay”.

Missy was a remarkable young girl, but she was up against something no young child should have to face. Visiting her mother every day after school in the hospital seemed like the only thing Missy could remember doing for the last month. Half the time, her mother had not even been awake, nor aware that her daughter had been there. Missy was an only child, so her mother looked to her for more joy than a little girl could deliver.

Now, as she neared her mother’s room, Missy saw lots of people gathered near the door. There was Grandpa! And Auntie Jeannie. And what was Pastor Jack doing here? Usually he was busy telling bible stories about Noah, or something. Everyone was murmuring, almost whispering, Missy noticed, as she walked quickly toward the door, out of breath from her hasty journey.

Auntie Jeannie saw Missy, and fell silent, looking at Pastor Jack questioningly. Pastor Jack smiled softly at Missy, and then disappeared inside of the room. Missy heard him ask, “Ben, Missy’s here. Do you want her here for this?”

Missy thought, “Here for what? Why does everyone always think I shouldn’t be ‘here for this’ ?”

From inside of the room, Missy then heard her mother, very faintly answer, “Jack, I want to see my little girl. Bring her to me, please?”

Missy thought Mommy sounded weird; weaker, sicker, but no, that couldn’t be, it wasn’t supposed to happen yet, that wasn’t supposed to happen for weeks, maybe months….

Pastor Jack walked outside of the room again, and kneeled down as he reached Missy. “Missy, you’re Mommy and Daddy would like it very much if you would come see them.” He said. Then he stood, and offered his hand to her. Missy watched as a single tear emerged from his left eye, and fell all the way to his shirt collar. His voice cracking, he whispered, “quickly dear, your mommy wants to talk with you.” With that, Missy took his hand, and followed him into the room, where the doctor stood at the foot of the bed, along with daddy, and Mary, Mommy’s best friend.

It was very warm inside of Mommy’s room, too warm, like there were too many people there. Missy walked hesitantly toward her mom, as if in a trance, aware of everyone in the room watching her as she approached. Somehow, she had managed to wipe away the tears from her eyes before she got off the elevator, although she couldn’t remember doing so. She was suddenly glad that she had, so her Mommy wouldn’t have to be concerned. She was also very certain now that she didn’t want to be here, not if this was it.

“Come here, sweetie” her mom whispered, and Missy at once saw her. Mommy’s eyes were deep inside of her head, almost as if they were sinking. Her forehead was wrinkled in memories of pain. Once a very beautiful woman, Missy’s mother, Katherine Hobson, was now emaciated, and sallow, weakened by months of radiation, and chemical therapy. Where once there had been the same naturally curly hair that Missy possessed, now there were only thin streaks of stubble, where hair seemingly had once attempted to grow back.

Mom had removed the cap she had worn for the last month, revealing her baldness. Missy was glad, she had never liked the cap anyway. Before she got sick, Missy thought, mommy never wore caps. A glimmer of hope sped through her, as she reached for her mom’s outstretched hand.

“Hi mommy” she whispered back. “Feelin any better?”

Missy was always asking that question, eternally hopeful for the miracle of her mommy being cured. She prayed to Jesus for it every night, and sometimes cried it out to Him, missing her mommy at night, before she went to sleep. Being so young, she wasn’t used to not having mommy tuck her in for bed. Even just two months ago, mommy had read with her before bed, before she got too tired, and too sick to even do that anymore.

“Hi Missy…..Imissyouyesserday” Mommy croaked, just barely audible. Missy had become adjusted to listening for her mother’s voice, the quiet weakness of it, how her words no longer seemed to finish and separate, but became one long word instead. “ Why is my lil girl ou' of breath?”

Missy told her about Mr. Betcher making her late, and how she was very sorry, and that she really wanted to be here earlier. “Oh mommy, I ‘m sorry.” Then, for some reason, Missy began to cry. Maybe it was because of the silence in the room. Maybe it was the fact that no one seemed to be able to look at her mom anymore, they all glanced at her quickly, and looked away, as if afraid to lock eyes with her.

Missy felt like she wanted to be alone with her mommy, but was afraid to ask in front of so many people.

“That’s okay darling……I’m gladyoumadeit……..” mommy slurred. "Please don' cry, Missy'"

Missy’s dad sat on the bed next to her mom, and looked solemnly at his daughter. He put his hand on hers, it was trembling.

“Missy…….Miss……” Then he started to cry. He held Missy’s gaze though, as tears streamed down his face, “My little girl, Mommy wants to say good….goodbye….to you. To me, to…” he looked around the room, at the many people gathered there, this one last time. “to all of us.”

Missy stared into her daddy’s eyes for what seemed like a year, and then nodded, as if she understood. The truth is, she did understand, but she didn’t want to.

“Mommy, are you dying? Right…right now?”

“Yes, baby” Mommy whispered. “ I talked with daddy this af..noon, an’ he thought t’was good idea tha' I wanted t’tell you this.”

Then, Mommy paused, and smiled. It was the first smile Missy had seen from her mom in weeks.

“Miss…you are such a good girl…I love you s’much….I want you t'do something for me, ‘kay?” Missy nodded, eager to please her mother, eager for anything that would make this moment last forever.

“want you…want you…to pray….t' ask Jesus….for help. Remember where I am, I’m with….Him. He’ll help ….you find me again. I wan you to know Him, Miss’……know Him, jus’ ‘emember me, where I am…..you can be with me forever, and with Him. Don’….forget Jesus, …’kay?” Missy nodded again, silently saying “yes mommy!” in her heart.

“Miss’ …I’m goin…’way now. I will see you ‘gain…..someday. Do you believe this?” Missy nodded a third time. “you are so special,….don’ forge’ tha’…….I love you. When you …pray….ask Jesus to help….you know the…truth….abou’ Him, an’ abou’….this worl’. He’s really there…and he’s here…..now…I can almost see Him. I feel Him……so …close…so close now. He’s always been….here. He’ll always be….here” With that, she tugged Missy toward her heart, and for one long moment, Missy felt strength in her mother’s arms again. Her Daddy was beside her, having been tugged toward her mom as well, and then, the strength of the hug failed, and Missy heard a long sigh.

When she lifted herself from her mother’s heart, she looked, and saw that her mom’s eyes were closed, and her lips were uplifted, as if in a smile. “Mommy….Mommy?” Missy whispered.

“Mommy?” Tears, and fear, suddenly all of the fear in the world that she had dreaded for so long filled her, and she whimpered. Her father gently lifted her off the bed, into his strong arms, and held her, rocking her back and forth in his arms, as her tears soaked his shirt, and his tears soaked her hair.

“Mommy’s with Jesus now, sweetie.”

Missy looked back toward her mom, toward the bed that she lay in for so long, and saw the smile on her lips, the last smile her mom gave her before she died.