Thursday, July 19, 2012

DESTINY - It's a well used word. Most people sense they have some kind of destiny - but personally I didn't understand exactly how I was to reach mine. I was thinking about destiny one day and the Lord spoke these three words to my heart -"Destiny is today." My thinking about destiny went something like this: If I continue to grow with the Lord and allow Him to direct my life - by the time I finish my life I may reach my destiny. But God said something much different to me that day. He was saying I live my destiny in the "present." He has a plan for today and if I am walking in the Spirit today (walking with my heart opened to Him and connected with Him),then I am living my destiny today! It's simple but powerful - "destiny is today!" So be encouraged - your life has great meaning. Yes, God has purpose for everyone He has created. Meditate on the following words from Psalm 139:13-18a: "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!" Tom

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A difficult trip to see Mom and Dad

The nursing home informed us that they believe Mom is in her final days. Alzheimer’s has about run its course and destroyed another brain – my Mom’s. Alzheimer’s is truly a wicked disease – slowly destroying a person’s memory and ability to think, yet not killing the person. Alzheimer’s patients don’t actually die from the disease directly, but they do die from it indirectly.

I went up to IL to be with Mom and Dad for a few days last week. I wanted to see Mom and express my love and appreciation to her – again – even though she might not comprehend what I would say. It was so good to hold Mom’s hand and kiss her on her forehead as I shared how much I loved her!

And I wanted to hang out with Dad to express my love and appreciation and support to him. It’s a very difficult time for Dad. I feel like he is finally allowing himself to accept, and face, the fact that Mom is dying. She has been such a huge part of his life for the last 62 years. And I think he just couldn’t even allow himself to think about what life might be like without Mom. But now with Mom obviously in her final days – I feel like he has had to accept it and start to feel it. He has been real weepy over the last few weeks. It’s hard to see and hear but I do think it is good. He cried a lot while I was with them last week, and so did I.

God calls death the last enemy. I Corinthians 15:26 says- “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” I am learning more and more the truth of this verse. No matter how old a person is or how prepared they are for death – it just doesn’t seem right. The people we have known and loved all our lives leave us. And many times they leave us through great pain. It’s so hard! There is nothing natural feeling about it – but we all go through it. We all eventually go through it when those we love die, and eventually we go through death our selves. It’s hard, but it’s so good to be a Christian and go through it with hope. Hope for all that God has promised, yes, all that Jesus Christ has paid for us to have through His death to redeem us.

The good news is that Mom and Dad have both accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior – so they are trusting Jesus and are ready – from that most critical standpoint – for what is coming.

I am truly a blessed man. My parents expressed their love for us kids in so many wonderful ways. We knew we were loved and we eventually saw just how much of their lives Mom and Dad gave for us. What a legacy they are still building and will leave behind. They stayed together and they sacrificed much for us. No they didn’t do everything right – but what they were able to do they did in a big way! May I be found faithful to do the same!

I want to add one more thought before I close. I am so thankful for my sister Karen and my brother in law Rohn for the love they are expressing to Mom and Dad there in Roanoke, IL. Their care is blessing Mom and Dad in so many wonderful ways. Thanks Karen and Rohn for the love you are giving. It is amazing!

Friday, March 19, 2010


According to George Barna’s research, Just 6% of born again households tithed to their church in 2002. How sad!

I believe most Christians judge themselves by what those around them are doing and by the world's standards rather than by God’s standards. For example: How many Christians today have sex outside of marriage? How many Christians today are prejudiced? How many Christians today are prideful? How many Christians today gossip? How many Christians today do not tithe? Yet God has much to say about each of these.

I remember a conversation I had with a friend in college. He was a member of the "Church of Christ, Scientist" (This was before I was a Christian and I didn't know it was a cult.) He had a serious girl friend and was sleeping with her. He told me that he believed it was OK because it was important that they were "compatible in bed." I was shocked to hear this from him. I remember thinking to myself - "He's a Christian and that's not what the bible teaches!" I had enough Bible teaching to know that that was not God's way!

Am I condemning this friend or anyone else who is self deceived in this, or any other area? NO! But my point is- most Christians judge themselves by those around them, or their own ideas, rather than by God's word.

God’s word is very clear on sex outside of marriage, prejudice, pride, gossip, tithing, and much more!

Surveys have shown that 19% of born again adults have a biblical worldview. And only 50% of all Christians firmly believe that the Bible is totally accurate. If we don't believe the teachings of God's word - we are basically making it up as we go along. And guess what - my flesh will always interpret things in my favor. My rules will always tend to justify my sin! Funny how it works that way…

God understands the danger of gold (“stuff”). He understands that it easily deceives our hearts and ends up being worshiped. I believe that is why He instituted the tithe. The tithe makes it clear to us where our heart is on this matter.

I believe tithing is simply God's principle of proof of ownership! The big question is – Whose money is it? And the biblical answer is – It is all God’s! Hag.2:8, “‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts.”

We are stewards who have been entrusted with some of what belongs to God. And the way He asks us to acknowledge this is through worshiping Him and giving Him the first 10% back - joyfully.

Abraham tithed to God over 400 years before the law was given, so tithing appears before the law. Tithing also appears in the age of the law. And tithing is mentioned in the New Testament by Jesus in Luke 11:42.

God asks His children to worship Him with a tithe (tenth) of their increase. If I can joyfully take the first 10 % of my increase (pay check, government check, etc.) and give that back to God, I am making a statement that I am truly a steward of what He has entrusted me with. And since I am doing this joyfully, it also proves He, not money, is on the throne in my heart. Luke 16:10-13 says- “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own? No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

If I give my tithes, with a sad heart - maybe thinking about the new car I could be driving if I didn't have to give God so much money - then I am not truly tithing to Him. (He looks at the heart not the hand.) He only receives gifts given joyfully from a willing heart. The church, or other Christian organization, will receive my gift and they will hopefully use it for the Kingdom. But God will not receive it if it is not freely and joyfully given. We don’t want our tithe to stop here we want it to also rise before God as a sweet, sweet, fragrance!

II Cor.9:6-7, “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Where should my tithe go? In the Old Testament it was always given to the priests for their support and for the temple – which was the dwelling place of God. In the New Testament we are not given a lot of specific instructions. We do see ministers receiving offerings:

I Tim.5:17-18, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages."

Elders are Christian leaders - apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. These can be men or women leading local churches or pare church organizations.

I believe we are to give tithes where we are being fed! For most believers this is primarily the local church. But God could speak to a person to give part of their tithe to a pare-church organization that has been instrumental in their Christian growth.

In the case of Kathy and me, we give 100% of our tithe to our local church (And we did that for years before I was a pastor). Then, beyond that 10%, we give offerings to our church and to pare-church organizations, and missionaries that God leads us to support. And we give alms to the poor as God leads.

The Bible talks about tithes, offerings and alms. It should all be joyfully done as a beautiful form of worship!

What if one struggles with releasing the money to God and they keep it all and use it for their families needs? They may say something like: "After all we don't have extra money and I believe God understands my position." I would say, first, and unfortunately, one who does this is in the majority today, as most Christians don't tithe. But second, I would say- they are robbing God of what is truly His and are robbing themselves of much more.

Mal.3:8 (God speaking), “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated Me! But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat You?’ You have cheated Me of the tithes and offerings due to Me.”

Kathy and I have tithed for many years and we tithe off the top. We can’t tithe before the government takes their part but when we get a pay check we write a tithe check off of the gross amount of the check, not the net paid to us. By tithing off the gross we feel like we are putting God first. And we do it with joy!

When Kathy and I first heard about tithing we were new Christians and were already spending more than we were making each month (our credit card debt was slowly rising). So we could not just start giving God 10%. But we heard the teachings and believed they were true and we determined that we would be tithers. By the end of the first year we were giving God about ~5% of our net income. By the end of the second year we were giving God 10% of our net income. By the end of the third year we were worshiping God with 10% of our gross income. And we did not stop there. Through our tithes, offerings and alms giving, we always go beyond 10% - and wish we could give much more. We don’t do this to “look good.” We don’t do it out some dreadful fear of what might happen if we didn’t do it. We do it out of love and to honor our great God!

A person must first get the revelation that all that they have is really not theirs - it is God's. He graciously gives all - but then asks for 10% back. And when we understand His deep love for us and the unimaginable sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us - we can joyfully become true tither’s!

When a person can joyfully release their tithe, with no strings attached, they have taken a huge leap in the direction of intimacy with God - because now they have released their stuff to Him - so their stuff no longer rules them.

Luke 12:15-21, “And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

No one will ever be forced to give to this church. My purpose in writing this is to encourage you to consider the tithe. Consider why God established it and what it means to Him. And hopefully, if you don’t already have it, you will get a revelation of it and get excited to start giving Him what is rightfully His – with great joy!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Another trip to see Mom and Dad - Another life lesson

At the beginning of August I made another trip to Florida to spend a long weekend with Mom and Dad. For those of you who do not know - my Mom has battled Alzheimer's for a number of years and Dad has done an amazing job loving and serving her.

My siblings and I all take turns (one of us about every six weeks) going down to see them, helping out doing whatever we can for them. We all feel like Mom and Dad sacrificed greatly for us as we were growing up- and this is the least we can do to give back to them.

It's strange how the two people who gave themselves to help each of us - now need us to give back to them so their final years are as comfortable as possible.

One evening on this trip Mom and I were sitting on the couch. Mom had a trying evening and dad, who normally handles things very well, had gotten upset with her. She looked over at me with pain in her eyes and she said- "This is a terrible thing! " I looked into her eyes and said - "I know it is Mom and I am so sorry you are going through it!" She then said - "I'm going back to the doctors and we are going to get this taken care of." My heart just broke for Mom as we sat there. She was so frustrated. All of her life she found ways to get anything and everything done - but this was something that was beyond her ability to stop or turn around. Alzheimer's is a terrible disease slowly eating away at the life of it's victim. And in this case the victim is my Mom. I went on to try to assure my Mom that a day was coming when she will be in Heaven with our Lord and all of this terrible pain was going to be gone forever. But this brought little comfort to her that night.

There is one amazing blessing God has giving us in this trial - Mom is not angry - but has been very caring and concerned about others throughout this entire illness. Thank you Lord!

As I think about this recent trip and my love for my parents - I, once again, come face to face with how important it is for each of us to live in a way that blesses others and leaves behind a legacy of love.

Just recently I was thinking about how much my Mom believed in each of us. She spoke encouraging words to us all the time. And she told us we could do whatever it was we put our mind to do. What a blessing that was for us as children growing up.

I am generally a very optimistic person. The glass is half full - all the time. And this attitude has blessed my life greatly. (Thanks so much Mom!)

So who are you influencing right now? Are you blessing them with your words? Are you leaving behind you a legacy of love and godliness - or are you selfishly living life for yourself. There's still time to influence others for good - go for it!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I recently flew down to Florida to visit my parents. Dad is now 83 and Mom is 82. They retired to Florida 25 years ago. They have been married now 60 years.

They married after Dad came home form World War II. He went to college on the GI bill. He and Mom were married and then lived in the married student housing (a small mobile home) at Michigan Tech University in the upper peninsula of Michigan. But then Mom’s mother passed away so Mom and Dad went and lived with Mom’s Dad until Dad graduated.

My brother Bob was born there in northern Michigan but Barb and I were born in the next city Mom and Dad lived in – Springfield, IL. After four years in Springfield Dad changed jobs and we moved to the Chicago area. Karen was born there. We rented for a few years and then they were able to buy their first home: 846 Alfini Drive, DesPlaines, IL. I believe that was 1957. (We loved the neighborhood and especially the nearby farmer’s field. It’s amazing how entertaining a field can be.

We were a one-car family until I was 12 years old. It had to be hard on Mom to have four young children and no transportation until Dad came home from work. Especially since during the week Dad traveled from Tuesday through Friday. So there were many days and nights that Mom had no transportation. Money was always tight. But Mom was a master planner. She could stretch the money Dad made to meet all of our needs. Sometimes she stretched it too much. Powdered milk was not at all popular with us – especially if we got a whiff of the plastic container Mom mixed it in. She did learn that if she mixed ½-powdered milk with ½-real milk we would drink it – so she settled on that. We ate dinner every night together at the kitchen table. Nobody left the table until the meal was proclaimed over by Mom. And we did not decide whether or not to eat. No, we had to eat what was placed in front of us. (There were children starving in Africa!)

Dad took a transfer to Pittsburgh when I was 12. Three of us went to college and left the nest from Pittsburgh. Karen finished school in Dad’s next transfer – Portland Maine.

Mom and dad paid for each of us to go to college. I barely made it in (thank God for my math ability.) They did make us work summers to earn spending money for each school year but they took care of the rest. To this day I do not know how they afforded it. All of us learned the importance of working hard, the importance of truthfulness, the importance of a good education, and much more.

There were many good days and some rough days over the years. Mom and Dad clashed a lot. But you know what? They were dedicated to each other and to their children. They got married for life and they meant. It.

Now they are quite old but seem to be more in love than ever. Mom developed Alzheimer’s and Dad stepped up to help her. As I was with them a few weeks ago I was moved to tears more than once as I watched my Dad patiently answer the same question hundreds of times (no exaggeration). He has to do everything for Mom. She cannot bathe herself she cannot dress her self. She cannot do anything for herself. But Dad is there, helping her every day. His patience is amazing. His love is sure. His heart is with her. He said to me – “Mom took care of me for fifty years, now it’s my turn to take care of her.”

As I have meditated on my parents I have rejoiced in the value of this rich legacy we are receiving. Yes, Mom and Dad are still building for us kids this legacy of faithfulness, a legacy of honor, a legacy of covenant love. And I will be eternally thankful for their love and for their example. Thank you Mom and Dad – for everything! What a life you have lived. What a legacy you are leaving us. God please help me do the same!

Friday, January 30, 2009


Have you heard this saying before - "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water?" I think it's pretty universally understood - but in case you are not familiar with it - it's basically saying - don't throw the good out with the bad. Or, don't reject the good because there is some bad with it.

I've been thinking about my 26 years of journeying with Jesus Christ. I've been around a lot of different brothers and sisters in Christ. I've been immensely blessed - but also have experienced some error (like everyone else.) I've been hurt by the error and I have hurt others with my error. Error is impossible to avoid - but what we do after we recognize the error makes all the difference.

One of the things I've asked Daddy God to help me with is this- I don't want to reject any truth because there is error with it. I don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water.

For example I don't want to reject the importance of faith because I got into legalism through my interpretation of Faith. (And yes that did happen.)

I've been around a lot of Pentecostal and charismatic brothers and sisters and I've seen some error - but I don't want to throw out the good just because there is some bad.

I have been on a quest in God for 26 years. A quest toward intimacy. A quest toward truth.

I was raised in church but my early life experiences were all legalistic - you do certain things and don't do other things and you please God; the God that sits on His throne a zillion miles away; the God you believe exists but you have NEVER experienced in any way...

So now that I have come to Him and continue to mature I see this whole thing much differently. Christianity is not an organization of people that just try to live by a moral code, it is a family of sons and daughters of God. And this family, that I have been adopted into, is a family that is fully accepted by our Heavenly Father, through His GRACE!

Now what kind of family would it be if Daddy never spoke to me, if Daddy never directed my life, if Daddy never corrected me, if Daddy never said I love you? And I'm not referring to His written word. I know the absolute importance of His written word. It is what everything else must be judged by. It is critical that all of us spend a lifetime studying the Bible. But what I'm talking about here is His intimate words to my heart. His personal leading and directing in my heart. Much of that will come through the Bible - but much of it will come other ways. Other intimate ways.

What He has made so clear to me over the last ten years is that He wants an intimate relationship with me. He wants me to hear what He is saying to my heart. (I Kings 19:11-12, "...a still small voice.") He wants intimacy with me - because that is why He created me. He created me to walk with Him and to live out my destiny in Him - which brings glory to Him. He created me for a grand adventure. And for me to participate in that grand adventure - I have to develop an intimate relationship with Him - I have to be led by the Spirit of God. I have to hear His voice. I don't determine when He speaks or what he says - but I have to hear Him.

And that is why I can't throw out the baby with the bathwater. I can't throw out all "supernatural" things just because some of what is called supernatural is not. I can't throw out all prophecy because some prophecy is off. I can't throw out all tongues and interpretation because some is off. Etc, etc... And as I mature in Him it becomes easier and easier to determine the difference.

I'm not going back to legalism and head knowledge. I'm pressing into intimacy with Him - living transparently, and accountably (if that's a word) in the local church I am part of, and studying His word (the Bible) to help keep me on the right path. It is the most exciting and rewarding life one can live. It's about destiny. It's about intimacy with my maker.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's simple but rarely easy!

I've been thinking about the "things" of God. And it seems to me that when I finally do get something (concerning God and His Kingdom) it then seems so simple. It's like - why didn't I see that, or understand that before. Why do I make things so difficult!
This is how it goes down for me - Before I understand something it seems hidden, complicated or mysterious. But after I get it - it seems so simple, pure and obvious! Huh!
I believe my problem is - I try to figure things out on my own - you know, using common sense and intellect (STOP LAUGHING NOW!). OK, I don't have a lot of intellect - but I'm doing pretty well in the common sense area.
Listen to
I Corinthians 3:18-21 from the Message Bible, "Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It’s written in Scripture, He exposes the chicanery of the chic. The Master sees through the smoke screens of the know-it-alls. I don’t want to hear any of you bragging about yourself or anyone else."
Why would God give us this warning. I believe it is because we have a tendency to lean upon our our natural abilities. Now God wants us to use our abilities but he doesn't want us to lead with our abilities. He wants us to yield to Him and follow Him. I call this "the dance of GRACE." He leads I follow. If you watch a couple ballroom dancing, only one of them is leading. But the one following must use all of their abilities as they are led by the other. This is a picture of God and us. It's His wisdom we need. And when the Holy Spirit whispers the wisdom of God in our heart - the light turns on and we say - that's so simple!
My struggle is to deny myself and yield to God! So often - I'd rather do it my way. I need to remember
Luke 9:23 "'Then He said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'"
When I do yield to Him - I am so blessed. Father help me deny myself and follow Your lead.