How I Beat My Dad Bowling


“This is probably the most exciting night of my life,” I reply. “I’ve practically dreamed about this happening since I was a child.”

My Dad’s friends laugh at my answer to their question of whether I am excited or not.

Excited? For a four-year-old this is like winning the lottery. My Dad finally took me bowling with his best buddies. I guess that means you can call me one of my Dad’s best buddies!

My Dad helps me change out my shoes for some very ugly ones that the lady gave us when we paid.

“Dad, do I have to wear these new shoes?”

“I’m afraid so. They help you when you go to release the ball.”

With my new pair of shoes on, I am finally ready to begin my bowling career.

“Would you like to go first?” One of Dad’s friends ask me.

“Absolutely! I can’t wait!”

“You’re up then!”

I jump up onto the wooden platform where everyone has placed their bowling balls on some sort of machine. I take my ball from the rack and with all my might carry the ball toward the lane where you’re suppose to roll it.

This process is very arduous and I can’t believe how heavy the ball is! Wow! Everything within me seems to be straining to keep the ball from dropping on the floor.

Luckily, Dad has been holding the ball with me the whole time though I’m sure I did most of the heavy lifting.

“Okay, we are going to gently roll the ball down the lane together,” my Dad explains. “So on the count of three, we will let go of the ball.”

“One, two, three!” I scream as I release the ball with all that is within me.

“Dad?” I ask after a few seconds, “is the ball suppose to be moving that slow?”

“Just wait, it will get down there.”

Slowly but surely the ball rolls down the lane. It seems like it is taking forever. My mind wanders for a second while we are waiting. I notice other bowlers throwing their balls with force down the lanes and almost crushing the pins.

Suddenly I jerk my attention back to my ball just in time to see it drop into the gutter before reaching the pins. 

“Yay!!!” I exclaim. “I landed my ball right in the gutter! That’s hard to do, Dad. Isn’t it?”

My dad smiles at me. “It sure is, son.”

I run back to my Dad’s friends to tell them the amazing thing I have just done.

“Hey come back here. You have one more time to throw the ball.”

I turn around to see my Dad holding my bowling ball. How in the world did he get my bowling ball again? I shrug my shoulders and run back to take the ball off his hands.

Again, me and my Dad get another gutter ball!

“Wow, I’m pretty good at this! I bet you won’t have to help me next time, Dad,” I say.

I don’t want to hurt his feelings or anything, but I’m pretty sure I can handle the ball alone.

“I’ll keep helping you. Maybe when you get a little older you can do it alone.”

I take my seat after having bowled two straight gutter balls.

I watch as my dad and his friends each bowl. I try to keep encouraging them but frankly they aren’t very good. They keep on hitting pins and getting strikes.

“It’s a good thing we aren’t playing baseball,” I say toward the end of the game. “You guys would be out.”

“You’re right,” my Dad laughs. “You would be beating us in baseball wouldn’t you?”

“Yeah, I kinda am in bowling too,” I point out trying not to get too puffed up.

Finally the game is over! I got 20 points and dad got 160.

“Dad, I beat you!”

Dad looks at the scores and can’t believe his eyes. Apparently this is a shock for him.

“Well, I guess you did!”

I feel so proud. I didn’t even need to look at the other guys’ scores because I knew they kept getting strikes. The only real competition was basically between my Dad and me, and I won!

“How about some ice cream now? There’s that shop just around the corner,” my Dad suggests.

“Yes! I love ice cream!”

“Let’s just give your shoes back to the lady, and we will be on our way.”

“Wait, what?!” I stop in my tracks. “I thought they were mine to keep.”

My Dad laughs. “No, silly. We just rented them. We have to give them back so other people can use them.”

I rush to my chair in a panic and quickly take my shoes off. “Yuck! You mean other people’s feet have been in these! Why didn’t you warn me! I hope they at least disinfect them, right??”

“I’m sure they disinfect them,” my Dad laughs.

I feel appalled that my Dad had me put on such a health hazard.

“I can’t wait to get a cup of that pecan praline ice cream,” one of Dad’s friends comment.

And just like that I forget about the shoes and am onto ice cream flavors.

Author’s notes:

Isn’t it amazing that God let’s us “bowl” with him? He decides to partner with people to bring His love and kingdom on the earth! He uses us to lay hands on the sick, to cast out demons, and to preach the kingdom!

We can sometimes think we have it all figured out. We think we know the “rules” (even if they are backwards) of how God moves and yet sometimes we don’t realize that He’s the one doing the heavy lifting. Haha! We are just the second set of hands on the bowling ball! His hands are so much bigger and stronger. His hands hold the power! He just chooses to use our hands with His.

The shoes also mean something but I’m not sure what yet! So, feel free to comment and let me know if anything else speaks to you!


Longest Ride of My Life! – Short Story


This has been the longest ride of my life. My legs feel restless and I’m hot and sweaty from the sun beating down on my poor little head.

“Are you sure we are headed in the right direction?” I finally ask, knowing something has to be wrong for it to take this long.

AutomotivesNeither mom nor dad respond immediately but I can tell they heard me. From the back seat where I’m sitting, I can’t see the expression on their face but I imagine they are both worried.

“I promise you,” dad finally says. “We will get there.”

“Yes, but are you sure we didn’t take a wrong turn?”

“Yes, son, I know where we are going and we are right on track.”

I sigh. My dad seems really calm which can either mean he knows what he is doing or he is lost and doesn’t want to scare me.

I look to my right and see my sister is fast asleep, drooling on her pillow. How in the world can she sleep so long? This trip is wearing me out and she’s fast asleep enjoying the ride.

Actually, that’s a good idea. Long trips always go by faster when you sleep through them. I decide to follow my sister’s example (all except for the drooling) and lay my head against the car door. My mind feels like it’s in disarray but I finally make myself fall asleep.

Suddenly the car swerves and I’m jolted awake.

“Oh my gosh!!!” I scream. “We almost wrecked!”

“You jolted yourself awake,” my mom assures, laughing as she looks back at me. “We didn’t almost wreck, honey.”

“How long was I asleep?” I ask my heart still pounding from the near-death wreck I had imagined. “It looks like the sun has moved a lot since I fell asleep,” I notice, looking out my window.

“You slept a few minutes,” my mom replies.

“You’re kidding?!” I ask in shock. “Only for a few minutes?! Are we not almost there yet?”

“We are about two minutes closer than when you asked the first time.”

I lay my head back against in the seat in dismay. Out of the corner of my eye I see a map tucked behind the seat in front of my sister (who is still sleeping). I pull out the map and begin trying to figure out where we are. I need to wrap my head around this or I fear a mental breakdown is coming.

“Can you even read that?” my dad asks, looking at me through the rearview mirror.

“Not really, dad,” I say, beginning to feel my voice rise and fall. “I just . . .” I feel the sobs coming up my throat and I’m not able to hold them back. “I just feel lost and like we’ll never get there. It’s been a really long day and my head hurts from the sun. I’m feeling car sick like I’m going to throw up. I don’t think I can do this anymore, it is just too hard!”

I let my emotions pour out of me. The tears flow down my cheeks as I let it all loose. My dad doesn’t say anything. He just listens patiently as I have my emotional meltdown.

“I’m sick of people saying we’re almost there,” I continue, “And yet we never get there! I’m just not sure I can handle the stress and the trauma of this trip!”

A few minutes pass and my sobbing begins to transition into whimpers. My dad just keeps driving.

“How fast are we going anyway?” I finally ask. “I’ve noticed that red van has been in front of us forever. Are they even going the speed limit?!!”

Dad still doesn’t answer nor does my mom say anything. Finally I come to my senses.

“Dad, you’re right I’m just being a pill! I’m just being impatient and selfish. I surrender everything! All my hopes and dreams of finally getting out of this car,” I say with passion – hoping this was the real purpose my dad was taking so long. Surely, now that I have surrendered everything we will arrive. “I know I acted like a little brat just now,” I add. “And if I was you I would have spanked me but you didn’t and for that I’m thankful.”

A few more minutes pass in silence and I begin to wonder if my dad is still awake. Maybe he can’t hear me.


“Yes?” he wonders.

“I want you to know I trust you. From my perspective it seems impossible that we would arrive and get out of this car. To me these doors seem so closed and the metal ceiling seems to be caving in on me but I’m going to trust you.”

“I appreciate your faith in me,” my dad answers back, with a smile written on his face. “And it’s a good thing these doors seem closed considering that we’re driving. Look, I know you’re worn out and tired and feeling like this will never end but guess what?”


“I’ll get you there. I’ll get you out of this car and I’ll pick you up out of your car seat and I’ll set you free.”

I smile. “I believe you.”

I hate to make myself look bad but this emotional rollercoaster repeats itself three times. I have three more emotional meltdowns, three more reassuring words from my dad, and three more moments of silence before we finally reach our destination.

Just like dad promised, he gets out and opens my door, unbuckles me, then picks me up out of the car into his arms. Finally I have arrived! Finally I am free!


My eyes are blinded by the bright light reflecting off the white sand but they soon adjust and I take in the deep green and blue of the ocean. My heart pounds with excitement.

I can smell the salty breeze mixed with the distinct scent of sunscreen lotion. I can hear the waves crashing on the shore and cry of sea gulls searching for a place to land. In moments I’m going to be running into those waves, feeling the cool water crash around me, tasting that salt on my lips and basking in the glorious sun light!

“We made it! We actually made it! I thought it was impossible but I never doubted you, dad. I just kept believing you.”

“Good for you,” he laughs as he sets me down on the sand. “Now go enjoy the water while we unpack the car.”

“I think our son just went through the longest 20 minute drive of his life,” my dad comments to my mom.

“I think it’s safe to say we have a very dramatic four-year-old,” she responds and they both laugh.


The End.

Author’s notes:

  • Maybe you’re going through a long season of waiting on the Lord – Don’t quit! Don’t get discouraged! You have a heavenly Father in the driver’s seat and he will get you to your destination.
  • Maybe you’re pushing for a breakthrough or contending for your destiny – Your daddy has you in his hands and he won’t let you miss out on the great plans he has for your life. Don’t give up hope!
  • Maybe you’re trying to read the map and figure it all out – Don’t worry, he knows every turn and he isn’t lost. Just trust him. He has good for you!
  • Maybe you feel like it’s impossible that God can turn your situation around – Don’t lose faith. He is so much more in control than you can fathom.
  • Here is the reality: Our life is a 20 minute drive compared to eternity! And when we get to heaven it is going to be so much better than any beach!! We’re going to see God face to face!!! Every bit of fear and pain will be forgotten as we embrace the savior of the world! Love we can’t even comprehend will overwhelm our emotions. Joy surpassing anything we’ve ever experienced here on earth will fill us. He will be the fulfillment of every desire you have ever had!!! And believe me, it will totally be worth the wait!

My Ministry – Short Story

The place is a buzz. Everyone is trying to talk at once as the crowd listens intently to what we are saying. Each disciple is sharing how he had cast out demons, healed sick people, and preached to this city and that. The atmosphere is electric with excitement and I haven’t even fully shared all my stories yet – which are frankly the most amazing in my opinion.


“Jesus, one guy started screaming while I was preaching,” Peter exclaimed, “and I told the spirit to be silent and leave him and it did!”

“That’s amazing Peter,” I whisper to myself. “Let’s not get too cocky about it.”

In my humility and wisdom, I keep relatively silent as the others fight for a chance to share their own stories. How childish. Finally Jesus has had enough, I can tell, of their immature noise and motions for us disciples to gather around.

“Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile. I know you’re all tired,” Jesus suggests.

“That’s a great idea! I haven’t even got a chance to eat we’ve been so busy with this ministry,” I agree.

Without saying much more all of us disciples pile into the boats with Jesus. There’s no need for us to discuss where we should go. Everyone knows the perfect resting place. It is a place on the other side of the lake, far away from people, noise, and all the daily drama associated with big time ministries like ours.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Andrew mutters as we approach the other side of the lake near our destination. We all look in the direction Andrew is pointing and see crowds streaming over the hills.

“Should we turn around?” Peter wonders. “I doubt we’ll rest with crowds like this!”

We all look at Jesus for direction and we can see compassion has flooded his face. I even notice a few tears in his eyes as he looks at all the people pouring forth to meet us as we approach land.

Well, I think to myself, so what for resting.

We land our boats and Jesus dives right into teaching the crowds. The day wears on hour by hour as we sit and listen (or half-listen) to what Jesus is saying. Honestly, I don’t listen much to what Jesus is saying because it’s mainly basic stuff. I’m at the point where I’m ready for more in-depth teachings. I’ve been through the basics. Actually I just finished preaching to crowds and healing the sick and casting out demons – something the people in this multitude only dream of doing one day.

The sun is getting nearer and nearer the western horizon. Oh my goodness this is the longest day ever! Some of the other disciples agree with me and suggest I help Jesus end his teachings.

“You do it. Jesus won’t rebuke you if you do it,” they encourage.

“You’re just afraid to interrupt him,” I laugh. “Okay, I’ll do it.”

I stand up and slowly make my way close to Jesus. He is just finishing a teaching when he looks at me. He is smiling and I see energy exuding from him. Strange. Here he is, teaching all day long, and he has more energy than me!

“Do you want something?” Jesus asks, smiling as if he knows what I am about to say.

I clear my throat. “We are a long way out here in the middle of nowhere,” I begin. “And it’s very late in the day. Pronounce your benediction and send this crowd away so they can eat some supper.”

I didn’t really care about the crowd eating supper I was just tired and wanted to rest.

Jesus laughs at my suggestion. “You do it. You fix them supper,” he replies.

“Are you serious?” I ask in disbelief. “You want us to go spend a fortune so these people can eat?”

“How much bread do you have? Find out.” he answers.

I turn to the disciples to get the answer before coming back to Jesus. “We have five loaves of bread plus two fish.”

I watch as Jesus tells the crowd to sit down in groups. He then takes our two fish and five loaves of bread and lifts them up in the sky and blesses them.

“Thank you, Father, that you take what little we have and multiple it to feed the multitudes.”

Great. I’m tired from a hard week of ministry, a long day of teaching, and now I’m going to go to bed starving as Jesus gives away our supper to these crowds. I’m having a hard time thinking loving thoughts about the people in the crowd right now. Don’t they realize how much of an inconvenience they are? If only I could let them see how tired and irritated they make me sometimes.

Bread“Here, take these,” Jesus says, handing me the food he just blessed. “And start handing them to the crowds.”

What a chore! We’re tired and now we have to pass out free food to a bunch of leeches.

The sun is already halfway disappeared before we get to sit down and eat supper.

“Do you realize how many people we just fed with only a small amount of food to begin with!” Peter exclaims. “God just multiplied the food!”

“I couldn’t believe it! We just kept passing it out one loaf after another and it never ran out!” John adds.

“Praise God for his miraculous supply!” the others chime in.

I hadn’t even noticed the miracle. It just now dawns on me how amazing this accomplishment is. When I had been passing out the food I guess I just assumed there would be enough and didn’t really pay attention.

“I guess I’ve just been so accustomed to miracles,” I say out loud, “that I didn’t even notice until now.”

The disciples laugh.

“Alright,” Jesus says, coming over to where we are sitting. “When you finish eating you can go ahead and get into the boat and cross over to the other side of the lake. I’ll take care of sending the crowds home.”

“Are you sure?” John asks. “We don’t want you to have to do all that work!”

“I insist. I know how tired everyone is anyway.”

I don’t argue with Jesus’ suggestion. Shortly after we finish supper, we all climb back into the boats and head for a more peaceful location to sleep. The night is closing in but it won’t be long before we make it to the other side.

Seven hours later we are still in the middle of the lake! Tired, worn out, and rowing with all our might against the harsh wind, we keep pressing on toward that other side.

I am beginning to think I am living in a nightmare. Either that or I’m on my way to having a mental breakdown. Will I ever find rest!!?

“Ahhhh! A ghost!” Thomas screams.

I’m not sure why, probably because we’re so tired, but we all believe that there really is a ghost. We strain hard and see a figure walking on the water.

“Row harder!” Peter shouts. “Before it gets here!”

“Courage!” Jesus calls out. “It’s me. Don’t be afraid!’

We hardly believe our eyes as Jesus walks on the water to our boat and gets in. He is peaceful, calm, and looks refreshed. How on earth does Jesus look so rested?

Suddenly it seems to set in. This whole day was a lesson. Jesus was trying to teach us that our ministry was not about us and  that rest was found when we stopped striving. He had taught us that by giving away our last bit (whether that be food or strength or time) our Father would multiply it back to us.

Jesus went through the same circumstances but he was refreshed as he gave to the multitudes, flowing in the energy and miraculous power from God. We became tired and more tired as we focused on our own needs all day long and kept striving to get away from them. There is nothing more tiring then being focused on yourself all day. Focused on my tiredness, focused on my ministry, focused on my stories, focused on my pain, focused on my hunger.

In reality, the crowd was a gift from God to refresh us. Jesus had already known they would follow us to the other side. Maybe if we had given to them we would have found an energy we didn’t know existed. Maybe we would have tapped into a spiritual vitality flowing from God.

I am seeing now that my strength fails. It couldn’t heal a single body, cast out a single spirit, or even row across a stupid lake. Jesus was showing me that my strength isn’t worth relying on. Refreshment and rest comes from entering God’s rest and strength.

As I’m pondering this, I look up and our boat hits the lake shore. Funny how easy it was after Jesus came into our boat.

The Dreaded Night – Luke 7:36-50

The dreaded night has finally arrived. I still can’t quite believe the mess I got myself into. When I had asked Jesus to my home for supper it had been a spur of the moment invitation and not at all thought through. At the time of the invite I had just heard him share an exceptional parable with the crowds and I had been impressed. That was the last time I would ever let my emotions get the best of me!

All week I had been suffering repercussions. First my family wanted to know why I had invited the revolutionist into my home. Then my colleagues wanted to know why I, a devote Pharisee, had invited an uneducated self-proclaimed teacher for supper. And then I began to question myself as to why I had done this ludicrous thing.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see Jesus and his rough looking disciples standing at my door. Not about to greet them myself, I catch the attention of Joseph, my head servant.

“Go show Jesus to his place,” I say in a low tone with my back to Jesus.

Joseph looks at me with a puzzled expression. “Do you not want to greet . . .”

“No!” I argue with as much force as I can muster. “And make sure you seat him away from the head of the table. Keep those places reserved for my friends when they arrive.”

Joseph doesn’t respond as he obeys my orders. Jesus and his disciples are brought inside and seated. I try very hard to avoid making eye contact with any of them. The awkward moments that follow seem like an eternity. When are my friends going to get here?

At last I see Caleb and Cleopas approaching my front door followed by a few others of my close acquaintances.

“Welcome!” I greet with as large a smile as I can manage. “I’m glad you could make it!”

“It’s always a pleasure to be in your company,” Caleb laughs coming inside.

“The sunlight is fading fast,” Cleopas points out.

“Yes, and you all must be hungry!” I say. “Come and sit down! I’ll have my servants bring some water for your feet and some refreshments while we wait for the first course to be served.”

Jesus and his disciples watch as my friends are carefully looked after by my servants.  I want Jesus to know I don’t see him as my equal in society. I want Jesus to see that he is the one honored to be in my home.

“Joseph, we are ready for the first course,” I say when I see that my friends have been prepared for the meal.

With the arrival of food and with the conversation among my friends rising, I am able to totally ignore that Jesus was in my home and at my table. This is just what I was hoping for: He is here but isn’t the center of attention.

Remainders of the second course are just being taken away when our dinner is interrupted. My friends gasp and I look up to see Sharon, our neighborhood harlot, standing in front of Jesus. She knows better than to come to my house when I have company! What on earth is she doing here?!

Silence fills the room and I can hear weeping. The weeping is coming from Sharon who lets her tears fall down on Jesus’ feet. Jesus remains composed when the woman suddenly falls upon his feet, wiping them with her hair, kissing them with her lips, and weeping all the more.

I am not only disgusted by this lady’s outburst of emotions but by Jesus’ response to her! He sits, looking at her with eyes that show compassion as if he understands what she is doing.

Things go from bad to worse. Sharon pulls out an alabaster flask of perfume and begins pouring the contents over Jesus’ feet. The fragrance takes over the room and drowns out the smell of the meal.

I can’t look anymore. I can’t watch this parade of sin. I know that Jesus isn’t from here but if he was a prophet, if he was anywhere close to God, he’d know this woman was unclean and a convicted sinner!

“Simon,” Jesus’ voice says splitting through the silence and invading my thoughts. “I have something to say to you.”

Disgusted I reply, “Oh really? What could you possibly have to say?”

Jesus doesn’t miss a beat. “Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred pieces of silver and the other only owed fifty. Now neither of them could make payments on their debt any longer so the banker decided to forgive them both. He completely wiped their slate clean. Tell me, which of the two would be more grateful?”

“I suppose,” I start to say, “Well, I suppose the one whom he canceled the larger debt.”

“That’s right.” Jesus turns to the woman yet he continues to speak to me. “Look at this woman here at my feet. I came to your home; you provided me no water for my feet, but she washed them with her tears. You gave me no greeting, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet. You didn’t give me anything to freshen up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it?”

Jesus pauses to look around the room. We are all silent.

“She was forgiven many, many sins and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal. I forgive your sins,” Jesus says, looking at the woman. “Your faith has saved you.”

At these words the woman seemed to have been released of a million ton load. Joy, peace, and relief seem to sweep over her. And at these words, I suddenly feel like the burden she carried has been placed on me. I now understand why I invited Jesus into my home.

I invited Jesus because deep down inside I had sin that I wanted free from. Deep down, underneath my mask, I had things I wanted Jesus to forgive. Something told me he could do it. Something told me he had the keys to freedom. Something had told me he could forgive – even though it didn’t make sense to my brain.

But my pride has been holding me back. This woman threw herself upon Jesus. I reserved myself, afraid to be seen too close in public. This woman wept upon his feet. I had remained proud, unable to humble myself to repentance. This woman gave her best perfume, probably her life’s savings, and I couldn’t even give him the best place at my table. This woman saw her sin as a heavy debt she could not pay. I had thought of my sin as minimal compared to most, but in reality my sin is greater than this woman’s for she will be leaving the room free.

The night is still young. Jesus is still in my house. Will I get the courage to humble myself before him? I take in a deep breath.

Asleep in the Storm

Reference: Matthew 8:23-27 ~ Mark 4:35-41 ~ Luke 8:22-25

I have never been sea sick before but right now I am getting the full experience. The boat has been rocking for hours and I don’t think I can take it any longer. I lean over the side of the boat and let out a moan.

Maybe we made a mistake in taking this trip across the sea. At first when we set out there was nothing but a blue sky and a gentle breeze. Now dark clouds have crowded the horizon accompanied by strong gusts of wind.

“You’re not use to this are you?” one disciple laughs, seeing me in my sickened condition.

I shake my head. I really don’t see why he laughed when he asked the question. I don’t feel like laughing at all.

There is always that inward struggle where you have to weigh the need to throw up against the possibility of getting by without doing the disgusting act. I’ve been having this inward struggle the past few moments. Finally, I’ve come to the decision that it is just inevitable and I let it flow. Luckily I didn’t have a big lunch.

When I finish I look and see Jesus asleep in the stern. I’ve noticed that sometimes real life noises that occur when someone is sleeping can become a part of their dreams. Hopefully I didn’t just give Jesus a bad dream because I wasn’t quiet.

“The wind seems to be getting stronger,” I say, a little concerned.

“Oh that’s nothing!” Peter replies. “I had a day once where we were fishing in winds ten times as strong as this!”

This starts the disciples sharing their countless stories about past experiences in stormy waters. I just can’t seem to stomach their conversation at the moment. I look at Jesus again. It seems so funny that he lays in complete peace, able to shut everything else out so well.

I should follow his example and lay down across from him, I think. Maybe he can teach me a few things about being calm. I don’t know why this urge comes over me but I give into it and join Jesus in the stern.

I try to imitate him in his position of rest. He opens his eyes and sees me lying on the opposite side of the boat from him. I can see the peace in his eyes and the calm on his face. I don’t see his lips move but something seems to almost whisper the words, “Stay here. Stay in peace.”

I’m not really sure what is getting ready to happen but I decide to obey the silent words. Before long I realize my stomach ache is gone even though the tossing and rocking seems to have increased. The other disciples have quieted into hushed tones and I know they are beginning to be worried. This makes me worried too.

A sudden, violent wind howls across the sea and wreaks havoc on our little boat. I turn my eyes to see the disciples struggling to stand in the force of the wind. Their clothes appear glued against their bodies as a sea mist is being sprayed into their eyes. My heart begins to race at this sight. Things are getting worse and we could be in great danger. I just about get up to see if I can help the disciples when my eye catches sight of Jesus still lying in peace.

My full gaze turns back to him and our eyes meet. I realize he wants me to forget about the storm around us, forget about the waves, the wind, and the danger. I can see that he wants me to remain where I am, resting in peace.

If I’m going to do what he is wanting then I can’t keep pulling my gaze away to see the storm. I have to keep my eyes locked onto his eyes and keep my gaze locked onto his face. I make a decision to keep my eyes focused on him no matter what happens.

I hear a disciple scream a high pitched squeal and then suddenly a wall of water rushes over the side of the boat. The wave crashes into our boat and soaks me completely through.  But I work hard on keeping sight of Jesus.

The sky is now so dark someone might think it is the middle of the night. The wind continues to beat against us relentlessly. The waves have grown and seem to keep growing as they crash one right after another over top of us.

I hear the disciples yelling out commands and exclamations. They seem to be getting louder but making less sense. I can tell they are scared to death. Even with their screaming and the water that keeps washing over me, I am still able to stay focused on Jesus.

He is so calm. He is so peaceful. And even though it feels like our boat is almost upside down at times, I feel completely at rest. It almost seems wrong that I feel so peaceful. Shouldn’t I be up doing something right now? Shouldn’t I be helping the disciples in trying to fight the storm? Shouldn’t I be concerned? Am I being stupid and heartless to be resting at a time like this?

All these questions are silenced as I stare into the eyes of Jesus. He closes his eyes and I do the same. I can still see him even with my eyes closed. I can still see his beautiful eyes of peace and I relax knowing he is in control. My spirit seems to hear him say once more, “Stay here. It’s not about the storm around you but who is in the boat with you. I am peace. Stay here. Stay with me.” Those words echo through my mind over and over and over.

The shouts from the disciples grow louder. Suddenly all their voices are yelling in my direction.

“Master!!! Master!!! Wake Up!!”

My eyes are jolted open and I see all the disciples hanging on for dear life looking at Jesus asleep in the stern. Their shouts are for him as he is their last hope for survival.

“Don’t you care we’re about to die!? Our boat is sinking!!! We’re going to drown! How on earth can you be asleep! Are you going to save us!?”

I have never seen the disciples so scared before. The blood has drained from their faces and they look worn out from fighting this enormous storm.  Years seem to have been added to them in just a few minutes.

Jesus sits up and I do the same. My eyes quickly verify that we are indeed in trouble. Our boat is sinking, filling up with water, and the huge waves are about to capsize us completely.

Jesus looks out over the sea and the storm and says with authority, “Peace! Be quiet!”

The words are so simple yet so electric with power. The wind stops immediately and the sea slowly dies down until it becomes smooth as glass. The sun even begins to break through the clouds as the darkness dissipates. The danger had felt so real at the time but when things changed so quickly and drastically it almost made you question the reality of the storm.

Everything is so calm. It occurs to me that it is simply the manifestation of the reality Jesus was already experiencing in the middle of the storm. Out of peace he commanded peace. The great calm we now experience is the outward circumstances aligning with the world of peace Jesus was always in.

The circumstances around our boat were made subject to the peace of God. I realize that the storm that was trying to act big and scary was actually fake compared to the reality of God.

“Where is your faith?” Jesus asks, looking at each and every disciple after this great miracle.

I can tell they are just as much in awe as I am. In one command he changed the entire weather outlook for the day. In one command he silenced a storm. We worshiped him in awe and adoration.

In my heart I felt God speaking to me. It isn’t about the storm. The storm isn’t the reality you should live by. Life is never about the storm. It is about the One who commands the storm, the One who is peace itself, and the One who is in the boat with you.

*Interesting Side Note: After crossing the sea, Jesus set a madman free then got back into the boat and left. It might be said that he came across the sea just for that one demon possessed man. Isn’t true that the storms we endure aren’t exactly about us (though they seem to be at the time) but are actually for the freedom of someone else.

Beautiful Beggar (Short Story) Acts 3:1-11

I feel kind of helpless as I’m being carried up this long row of stairs. The two men hold me up as they ascend step after step.

“I really would help you if I could,” I say half-jokingly.

“You seem to have put on weight since yesterday,” one of the men laughs.

“Well, we’re almost there,” I encourage.

There are only two types of people in the world: The beggar and the giver. Now, I’m proud to say I’m a professional beggar. I’m not ashamed of it. Some beggars I run into are ashamed of their profession. They feel bad asking people for money without performing some sort of work. I guess I’m different in that respect: One, I have absolutely no problem asking people for money and two, I wouldn’t say the money isn’t hard earned – begging is a lot of work.

The reality is most people are beggars they just don’t know it. They argue their case and try to point out how they’ve never asked for anything from anybody but the truth can be seen in their faces. Deep down they are longing for something, begging for something more.

“Just set me down in my usual spot, thanks,” I say to the men carrying me as we reach our destination.  “Ah! Easy now!”

The men set me down gently in front of the Temple gate we have affectionately dubbed the Beautiful Gate. I’ve sat in front of this same gate for many years now mainly because it’s almost always busy. In my profession you have to be where the people are and that’s why the key point in my marketing strategy is location, location, location.  I also picked this gate because I feel like the name is a very accurate description of my complexion.

“Here’s your pay.” I hand out the coins to the two men who carried me to my spot. “Now don’t forget to come back tonight to pick me up!”

“We won’t,” they say, chuckling to themselves. “We haven’t forgotten you for years now!”

I smile at them. “Yes, I know but eight years ago you did forget me.”

“That was only once!” they argue. “And that was during a nasty storm that came through . . . “

“I know,” I interrupt. “Now hurry up and leave. Here comes a lady who looks like an easy target.”

As my two friends slowly ease away I see my first customer approaching. She is a middle aged lady, probably married, and who looks well off.

“Isn’t God good?” I say when she’s in earshot.

“What’s that?” she asks, coming closer.

“I said, isn’t God good?” It has always been my philosophy to start off with a religious comment that has nothing to do with the fact I want money.

She pauses for a moment. “Are you a beggar?”

She isn’t buying my small talk.  “I don’t like to call myself a beggar,” I answer in sincerity.

“Really? Why not?”

“Well, I think the public perception of the word ‘beggar’ isn’t always positive. The problem is, I haven’t settled on an alternative title for myself but I’ve been kicking around a few ideas.”

I can tell the lady is amused by my reply. “So what are your ideas?”

“Well,” I begin, acting a little embarrassed to share my ideas. “I’m not exactly sold on it, but I like the phrase Empty Vessel. It sounds religious, sort of humble, and yet implies the fact that I want you to give me something.”

The lady laughs at my explanation. I have her right where I want her. My begging technique is to strike a conversation with the customer, keep it funny, and keep it honest. I’ve been far more successful using this method than trying to pull on the heart strings and put on a fake show.

“Empty Vessel, huh? I kind of like it. So, how long have you been crippled?” the lady asks.

“All my life! But I don’t let that detour me from my calling!”

“Oh I’m sorry. Well, that’s the spirit to have! What do you consider to be your calling?”

“To be an Empty Vessel,” I say, smiling slowly.

She shakes her head and laughs. “Alright, here you go,” she says, tossing me some coins. “And to answer your first question, yes, God is good.”

“He sure is,” I whisper to myself as she walks away and I put the coins into my collection box.

“Look here,” a man’s voice suddenly says, coming out of nowhere.

I look up to see two men staring at me with marked attention. I can’t believe how easy it is going today! One right after another! I start to say something but the man beats me to it.

“I don’t have any silver or gold . . .” the man begins.

That’s a bummer, I think to myself. Not much I want from him if he doesn’t have any money.

“But what I do have,” the man continues, “I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”

I can hardly believe my ears. Walk? Is he crazy?! I can’t walk! I’ve heard of Jesus before but . . .

“Whoa!!” I cry as the man grabs me by the hand and pulls me up to my feet. “I’m not quite ready for this!” I try to object.

Before I completely know what has happened, I am on my feet standing without any pain. I think my feet register the miracle quicker than my brain as I suddenly start running and jumping and going wild.

Finally my mouth gets wind of what has happened. “I’m healed! I’m healed! I’m healed! Praise God! I’m healed!” I shout at the top of my lungs.

The two men are laughing and praising God right along with me! Whoever this Jesus of Nazareth is I want more!

In my ecstatic joy, I see one of my co-beggars watching me with his mouth wide open. Suddenly it dawns on me: I’m not a beggar anymore! All these years I’ve been begging for money, money, and more money but what I really needed was a touch from God delivered by these two men.

I look around as I continue jumping for joy and I see all the other people – not just beggars but common people and religious scholars – they are all in search of something. They think activities, work, people, money, and pleasure is what they crave. They think doing religious routines will satisfy their souls. But I finally know that what they really desire, what they are really begging for is an encounter with God. Mine came just now, simply because two men took the time, not to give me money and just keep going, but to stop and extend to me the invitation to experience the glory of God.

Living Sacrifice

“I beseech you therefore, brethern, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice . . .” – Romans 12:1

I was reading this scripture just last night and something stuck out to me. In the Old Testament a sacrifice was always killed or given up. Most of the time it was an animal that died in order to cleanse someone from sin.

When Paul said present your bodies as a living sacrifice, he was saying something totally new. Unlike in the Old Testament, our sacrifice is not in dying. In fact the Bible clearly says that Christ made us alive when we were once dead in our trespasses.

So what am I getting at? In the Old Testament a living animal became a dead sacrifice. In the New Testament we, once dead, become a living sacrifice to God. We don’t dedicate our lives by simply dying – that was the old covenant and the new is so much better! We dedicate our lives by living for God! Another example of how the new covenant brings life where the old brought death.

Just like death causes complete surrender so our lives are to be in complete surrender. Just like a dead sacrifice no longer gets back up to serve itself so we must remain faithful to our cause – the Lord Jesus.

This is a voluntary sacrifice but it is a “rational” one. It is our “reasonable” duty. And most importantly it is our joy!