I Could’ve Quit Too Soon

It’s been 26 years since I almost quit too soon. I thought about that today while driving to an out of town ministry opportunity. It’s been 26 years since I contemplated driving my van into a telephone pole at 70 miles an hour.

Really, you say? Why would someone like me ever think of taking your life?

Because I thought my life was ruined. And it was all my fault.

You see, due to my sins, my addictions, my secret life, I had thrown away my marriage of 21 years, my son who was 14 at the time and long time friends. I’d also been removed from the church my wife and I had pioneered and pastored for 10 years.

I almost quit too soon.

Since that day my marriage, family, friends and ministry have been restored. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t something that took place overnight; but it happened. And I’ve lived to see some incredible things take place; things I would have missed if I had quit too soon.

I remember talking with my counselor during this terrible time. I had told him what I had been thinking while driving in the country on old highway 6. He got right in my face (something he did quite often those days) and reminded me that even though I had lost my “ministry”, and probably was going to lose my wife, I still had a responsibility to be a dad to our son, and a person God could depend on.

At that point I couldn’t see how anyone, including God, would want anything to do with a jerk like myself.

But I didn’t quit because God and others wouldn’t let me quit.

They kept reminding me of God’s truth.

Truth such as, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV) 

And, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29 ESV)

Eventually I began to see a glimmer of hope. God was doing miracles in my life. He was restoring my life and bringing His glory into view. Beyond my wildest dreams, He was showing Himself as more than enough for every part of my life.

Including all my failures.

Like I said before, I almost quit too soon.

Too soon to see my marriage restored. Too soon to see my son graduate from high school, eventually marry a wonderful woman, and just 11 months ago have a beautiful son. 

Wow. I could’ve quit before all of that.

But thank God I didn’t.

How about you? Has life become such a burden you feel you can’t take any more? Is your life out of control and you think you’ve hurt too many people? Do you see suicide as the best solution?

Don’t quit too soon.

There is more to living than what you’re experiencing at this moment. There is help available, though you may not see it yet.

And some day, like me, you will look back on this tough thing you’re engulfed in, give a sigh of relief and say…

“I could’ve quit too soon.”


Are you scared?

Scared to look outside?


Scared to live? To die?

Scared of what you’re seeing, hearing…scared of never seeing or hearing anything at all?

Are you scared?

Living is impossible for those who are scared… dying is unthinkable, unimaginable…

Are you scared of all the uncertainties in your mind, your heart?

What if your choices are wrong?

What if your actions are on display to some higher power?

What if there’s a truth you’ve never embraced?

What if you never hear of it?

And what if you hear it but either ignore or reject it?

Does that scare you?

Do you want to do more than you’re doing, love more than you’re loving, and risk more than you’re risking?

What if you fail at everything good, but succeed at everything bad?

What if…just what if you could be free of all your fears? Of being scared?

You can…

To those who’ve been scared, whether a little or a lot, the Eternal One, the Creator of all, Truth Himself declares:

“Though your troubles are bigger than life, and you feel there’s no reason to live but are afraid to die, you do not need to live this way any longer.

“Fear needn’t control your life because perfect love casts out fear…and I am Perfect Love.

“I am with you in your troubles, your heartaches, your times of doubting, your seasons of grief. I will bring you joy in sorrow, peace in chaos, hope in despair.

“I’m as close as you’ll allow me to be.

“I have faced all of your fears; everything that causes you to be scared I have overcome.

“I faced them all on Golgatha’s hill.

“I was wounded for your transgressions, your fears, your life.

“I did it all for you, so you could truly live, without fear or shame, forever…

“With Me.

“Scared? Call upon Me and watch Me deliver you from all your fears.”

“I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4 NKJV)

“For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.“ (Romans 10:13 NKJV)

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” (1 John 4:18 NKJV)

The Leech

I went fishing recently and for the first time ever I used leeches for bait.

Fifty plus years of fishing and finally I became a man: I touched a leech.


However, they were what the fish wanted for breakfast so they worked well.

I couldn’t help but think about leeches, comparing them to some people I’ve known through the years.

Which brought my thoughts to this scripture:

“A leech has twin daughters named “Gimme” and “Gimme more.” (Proverbs 30:15 MSG)

I wondered for a long time about the above verse, you know the part about the twin daughters. But after handling them all day I decided to do a little research.  I discovered leeches have two mouths!


Which really made me think of some people.

Leeches. Takers. Sucking the very life out of the thing they attach themselves to. They don’t have anything to give. They hang around (and on) for one purpose. They want to take all they can and then, once they have their fill, fall off and go away.

Just the opposite of how we were created by God to act.

God is a giver, an extremely generous giver. And every child of God, every new creation in Christ, has that same generous spirit residing in their spirit. In fact, we must go against our new nature to be selfish and self centered.

How generous are you? Does God have your wallet as well as you heart? Does He have the last word on what you do with your life; how you use your time, treasure, and talents?

Can He whisper to your heart, “Give such and such to so and so”, and you promptly obey? Or does He have to pry each of your fingers away from your possessions before you’ll ever consider giving your stuff away?

Are you a taker or a giver?

Are you a leech?

“The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” (Proverbs 11:24 – 11:25 MSG)

“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” (Luke 6:37 MSG)

Leeches are good for fish bait. But God has a much better life for those who are givers, and not takers.

“Generosity begets generosity…”

And stinginess leads to death.

Engage the Gift

Lately I have been in a funk, giving excuse after excuse for why I’ve neglected so many important things.

Of course, the excuses seemed valid and I really was busy. New job, new help, etc.

But the truth is I had set aside one of the most important things my life.

The Gift.

What do I mean when I say “The Gift”?

I mean that special something, that calling if you will, that a person receives from God (yes, and He has something for everyone on this planet) to share with those around them.

So what have I been neglecting? Mainly writing, though there’s much more to it than just sitting down and writing four or five hundred words. I’ve neglected the whole seeking God part which has affected my desire to engage the gift.

But that is coming to a screeching halt!

Since the gifts and callings of God don’t change, and He doesn’t take back what He once gave, it’s up to me to engage the gift.

And because He expects me to use what He has given, I must write.

Or be found guilty of neglecting something so precious as a gift handpicked by God for me.

Okay, enough about me. What about you?

Don’t say you’re too busy. That dog won’t hunt.

Don’t say you’ve never received a gift from God; you may not have realized what it is but it’s there, nonetheless.

When I started getting quiet (stopped filling my time with work and play) and began to let God’s voice become clear in my spirit, the next step became obvious-engage the gift.

I believe the same will be true for you.

Whatever gift you have, if not stirred up and used as God designed, will eventually become weak and invisible. And others will possibly miss out on something no one should ever be deprived of-that special touch from God because you were obedient in stirring up the gift.

So what do you say? Have you received a gift from God, say, the gift of comfort? Then use what you’ve received to comfort others.

Have you received the gift of hospitality? Well? Then quit trying to be a loner.

Don’t neglect the gift.

Engage the gift. You, God, and people around you will be glad you did.

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:8 – 4:11 ESV)

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:6 – 12:8 ESV)

Thanks for reading. I’d like to hear your thoughts about your gift (s) and how you’re using them. Please respond  in the comments section.

Right Around The Corner

Life is funny at times. So unpredictable, with sudden attacks which seem to come out of nowhere.

You’re walking through life, minding your own business, when all of a sudden you turn a corner and come face to face with a life altering experience.

Right around the corner, completely unexpected, something or someone hits you upside your head and knocks you for a loop.

Know what I mean?

Here’s a truth we must know and embrace; right around the corner (unseen at the present time) lurks the potential for a life changing experience.

That’s why we must live prepared for anything.

How is it possible?

Look at Jesus’ example.

“And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able. ” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me. ” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. ” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes. ” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again. ” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead. ” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer. ““ (Mark 9:14-29 ESV)

Some versions add “and fasting.”

Jesus had just been on the mountain with three of His disciples. The other nine were hanging out waiting for Him to return. I’m not sure what they were supposed to be doing, but apparently they weren’t prepared for what was right around the corner.

They had been given authority to cast out demons (Mark 6). They had experienced the power and authority they had in Jesus’ Name.

But they weren’t prepared. They failed when life appeared right before their eyes.

Which is why they asked Jesus, “Why didn’t it work this time?”

The answer Jesus gave wasn’t a formula only for casting out demons. He was sharing with them a foundational principle.

“This is how you prepare for things right around the corner.”


By staying close to the Father through regular prayer, worship, reading and studying God’s Word.

Jesus didn’t ask the boy’s father to wait three days while He fasted and prayed. No, He lived prepared, ready to face any emergency, by continually staying in fellowship with His Father.

After all, His Father (and yours) knows what is lurking right around the corner.


An Undivided Heart

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 ESV)

A simple, powerful prayer of King David, after he had committed adultery and murder.

Of course, none of us are so wicked or evil as David was. Right?


Anyway, this verse has been on my heart lately. Especially the “renew a right spirit” part.

I probably should remind you, even though the Psalm was written by King David, it was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

It was inspired so you and I could benefit from the same power, grace, and mercy King David received from the Lord.

It was inspired, i.e. the Holy Spirit gave David the words to write and sing, so generations to follow could be victorious over the wiles of the evil one.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

Okay, back to David’s prayer in Psalm 51.

“Create in me a clean heart…” A clean heart is the pure, undefiled, and untainted center of our being. Our very mind, will, emotions. The seat of our affections.

David knew without purity he’d never be able to withstand the onslaught of ungodly influences coming at him every day.

Nor can we.

And the only way our heart can become truly clean is through the work accomplished by God in the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

David looked ahead in time, by faith, and trusted in God’s promised work. We can look back and have faith in God’s accomplished work.

Faith for a clean heart.

The rest of Psalm 51:10 says, “and renew a right spirit within me.” The word, “renew”, means “to repair” or “rebuild”. The idea of reconstructing something that had, in some way, been broken, busted, or demolished seems to be the thought.

It’s very hard to walk victoriously, in faith with God, when you can’t catch your breath. “Spirit”, used in this passage, is from the Hebrew word “ruach” which means, among other things, “breath”. Though, as it’s used throughout the Old Testament, it can mean the innermost part of a person.

So David prayed, “rebuild, repair, and reconstruct a right (meaning fixed, established, single, steadfast, prepared, settled, and arranged) spirit with me.”

In other words, “Lord, please do something new in me. Help keep my innermost being wholly fixed on Your Kingdom, Your plans and purposes, Your way of doing things, and not my own selfish pursuits. Help my spirit, my heart, be undivided where You are concerned. Settle my heart in righteousness and true holiness, that You alone may receive the glory due You.”

At least that’s the way I’m seeing it.

And praying it.

How about you?

Valentine’s Day Hypocrite

Christmas aside, I believe we’re coming up on the most hypocritical day of the year.

Valentine’s Day.

A day when billions of dollars are spent on flowers, cards, candy, nice restaurants, movies, champagne, hotel rooms, etc…

All just to say “I love you”, and, “You’re very special to me.”

Am I advocating that everyone just forget the tradition and go about their evening with hotdogs and stale candy bars?

Nope. But I am saying that it’s hypocritical to act like you’re all lovey dovey on February 14th, when the rest of the year you’re a selfish jerk (or jerkette).

I learned something a good while ago, and here it is: flowers, candy, special notes, and the like will not automatically erase random acts of meanness.

Not sure what a hypocrite is?

Hypocrite is defined as a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.

So a Valentine’s Day Hypocrite is a person who says all the nice things on the 14th but is selfish the rest of the year.

True love is best described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and John 15:13.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4 – 13:8 ESV)

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 ESV)

I especially like the part that says, “Love never ends.” I take it to mean, “Love can’t be stopped.”

Regardless of the pressures, trials and struggles that every marriage faces at one time or another, those who choose to really love (and express that love by being kind to each other and putting their spouse above themselves) will have the sweetest, most rewarding life throughout the year.

And their love CAN’T be stopped!

Hypocrites always have to wonder if their box of candy will “doing the trick”.

Those who’ve decided to love all year long will find even a stale candy bar tastes great.

Your Most Important Gift To Your Spouse

I did just a little research and discovered the average couple spend approximately $6,000 on an engagement ring and wedding bands. To some, that may not sound like much. To me, that’s a staggering amount.

I’m not insinuating women aren’t worth it. Not at all.

But I would like to make a comparison between how much people are willing to spend on rings and things while totally missing the most important gift one could ever give to their spouse.

You may be thinking, “I love my fiancé! Nothing is too much for her. I’d pay any amount for her to be happy. I’d climb the highest mountain, cross the hottest desert, do whatever was necessary to show everyone how much I love her.”

“And yes, I’d make ring payments for the rest of my life, if that’s what it took.”

Nice. I’m glad you feel that way.

But you may be forgetting just one little (well, it’s not really little) detail.

So I’ll pose a question.

If you’re willing to do so much for your fiancé/spouse, would you be willing to add just one thing more?

One thing?


Would you be willing to honor your vows? Your wedding vows.

Your promise, troth, vow. Your word.

A lot of people don’t realize this, but your word is the most important thing you own. Whether or not you keep your word tells everyone what kind of person you truly are.

I’m convinced all divorces are the result of at least one of the spouses not keeping their word; they failed to honor their vows.

Is it always easy to do what you promised? No. Sometimes it is very hard and most unpleasant. But if you’ve opened your mouth and said, “I do.”, or, “I will”, then your obligation is to make sure you do it.

Forget the excuses.

Your name will not be respected if you can’t be trusted. All the “I love you” phrases you come up with will never replace keeping your word.

God keeps His Word. That’s why we can trust Him. It’s why patiently waiting for His answers isn’t nearly as hard as it could be. We know He’s not a liar; He’s always true to His Word.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Matthew 24:35 NKJV)

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10 – 55:11 NKJV)

Notice in the Isaiah passage, God chooses His words for a purpose. He says them and expects them to be fulfilled. He guarantees their fulfillment or He’d never have spoken them.

That’s the same commitment He calling us to. We’re to choose our words and make it our duty, our utmost responsibility, to see they’re fulfilled.

Imagine what this world would be like if each person would “swear to their own hurt” (Psalm 15) if necessary in order to ensure their words, their promise, oath, and vow were carried out.

Is it too much to expect people who say they love their spouse to honor them by keeping their spoken vows?

I don’t believe so.

The most important thing you can give each other is the very thing that will help maintain the health of your marriage and cover your relationship with the covering of love –

Your word.

It’s worth a whole lot more than $6,000.

Everyone Appears

The rich, the poor, the athletic, the genius, the gay, the straight, the down and out, the up and in.

All have at least one thing in common.

Nerds, cool cats, gun toters and gun haters, socialists, communists, neo-nazis and Jews.

All face the same appointed time.

Preacher, sinner, agnostic, atheist, universalist, Jehovah’s Witness, and Latter Day Saint. Those who kill others, and those who kill themselves.

It makes no difference. There’s a throne that must be faced.

Dark skin, white skin, tatted or pierced skin, stretched and pregnant, wrinkled and worn. Skin is skin; nothing more, nothing less.

Remember that.

Bald headed or buzzed, white haired or gray.

Corporate executives, Army privates, movie stars and star gazers; what will you do?

You can’t dodge it forever.

No matter who you are or think you are, there is no way you can avoid the divine interview when your life is finally over.

Everyone appears before God.

Whether you’ve been sweeter than candy, or mean and nasty.

You may live to be 120 or never see your thirtieth birthday.

But what will you do when your life is over?

How will you answer when questioned by the Creator of the universe?

How will you hide from the Judge Who’s eyes pierce your very soul, and Who knows your life without you saying a word, when there’s absolutely no place to hide?

While you still have breath in your lungs, consider your future appointment with God Almighty.

Be honest with yourself: you have NOT been THAT good; good enough to keep from shrinking before His Holy Presence.

Consider –

“And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people…” (Hebrews 9:27 – 9:28 NLT)

The ONLY way you’ll stand before God without hearing Him say, “Depart from Me and spend eternity in the Lake of Fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” is if Jesus Christ is standing with you.

The only way.

“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6 NLT)

Let Him stand with you now.

You’ll be glad you did.

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn – not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” (John 1:12 – 1:13 NLT)


Thought I’d write a little about my sister in law, my brother’s wife.

Joanie Grace.

She is quite a gal. I say “is” because, though her body isn’t around anymore, Joanie is very much alive.

In Heaven.

And we who are still living on this earth miss her a lot; those of us who really knew her, that is.

Here’s what I remember about her…

She didn’t care for her given name, Joan, but always wanted to be called “Joanie”. I never asked her why, just figured it was her prerogative. It did have a more friendly “let’s get to know one another better” ring to it.

She did well picking out my brother for a husband (and me as a brother in law). Too bad she didn’t know how to pick a football team. She would actually make fun of my team! Her team? The Vikings. Mine? The Bears.


But at least she could joke about it. In fact, she really enjoyed teasing people she loved. I bet Jim got teased a lot!

She loved all 5 of her children, even though two of them were “steps”. That didn’t matter to her as she figured “step” meant she was to take the necessary steps to make certain all the kids were loved and included in her family. Also loved were her kids’ spouses and all the grandkids.

Joanie had a great capacity to love.

She knew how to make people laugh, especially my wife. They would swap stories, texts, messages, phone calls…always encouraging each other through difficult and trying times.

By the way, because life is rough at times, we could all use a Joanie in our lives.

She was big on establishing boundaries, keeping offenders at a safe distance. But she didn’t give up on people. However, she could slam the door on people who acted inappropriately.

Joanie had a hunger for spiritual things, a hunger to know God better. She enjoyed bible studies with Karen and Jessi, and from time to time would toss me a question requiring me to dig a bit for an answer. I was definitely okay with that.

I had the privilege of baptizing her and Jessi about 18 months ago. We, along with many others, witnessed her profession of faith in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

That is one of the best memories of all.

In fact, because of her decision to believe and obey the scriptures, I know I will see her again. You see, like Joanie and multitudes of others, I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior some 42 years ago.

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9 – 10:10 ESV)

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12 ESV)

If you miss her and want to make sure you’ll see her again, there’s something you need to do. Follow her steps to the Savior. Acknowledge your sin, your need for a Savior. Confess Jesus as your new, one and only Lord of your life, and ask Him for His grace to help you grow spiritually in Him.

Heaven is a package deal when Jesus is the Lord of your life.

I wrote this little poem as sort of a tribute to Joanie.

There once was a gal named Joanie, Who married her man for his money, At least that was said, Through the lies that were spread, But the truth was, her man was her honey.

Yes, Joanie and Jim were an item, And their love just continued to heighten, With her kids and his, And five cute grandkids, Their family was beginning to widen.

Then a nasty disease came along, Still the couple tried to be strong, So the battle ensued, But the cancer still grew, And in a couple of months she was gone.

But this isn’t the end of her story, Though her body became cancer’s quarry, With faith in her Lord, She’s alive evermore, Joanie Grace is living in Glory!

Now her Savior calls to you, Decide in your heart what you’ll do, A choice you must make, Before it’s too late, Receive Jesus as your Savior, too.

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