Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I have to say, some days I find it very challenging to just work.
I'm a work-aholic.
But then there are other days, like today, right now, this moment for example,
when Christ lays something on my heart, that I am simply blocked from any amount of concentration whatsoever until I follow through with what He's tasked me to do.

If you've read the post below this, you know that my little girl gave her heart to Jesus on Sunday, and I was given a great gift of being there to baptize her as her daddy. If you've talked to me recently you know that I'm still on that mountaintop, grudgingly not yet ready to come down from that moment. You'd know that if you knew me.

But, what you don't know is the lesson that He brought home to me about obedience.

Sunday morning, I woke up, and I just wasn't in the mood. I didn't feel like church, didn't feel like people, didn't feel really anything. I was still recharging from the wedding on Saturday and I just wasn't back to myself yet.
I knew the church worship leader was expecting me to sing, but....sigh....there'd be plenty of other people up on that stage, they didn't really need me.
I sat down in my semi-cozy chair at my semi-cozy desk with my semi-warm cup of Joe, and opened up some pictures to work on for the rest of the day....yep, feeling like a work day...
Then I felt that little tug. Faint, almost not even there, because my senses just flat weren't firing on all cylinders, but still there it was.
You should go.
Yeah but still...you know this is pretty good Joe.
You know you should. It's what you need to do.
Fine, you know what, whatever. I'll go, see if they even need me up there. They won't, this fine cup of coffee will be cold, but hey...sigh.
Okay. I'll go.

I told my wife I was heading to church, half expecting the puzzled question mark on her face, because she knew I was present but not yet accounted for. But regardless, off I went.

I walked in to church and they had no guys to sing, so I picked up a mic. Then, since I was there early, one of the moms asked if I'd brought my camera, because her daughter was being baptized. I had about 3 minutes before church started and ran home and grabbed it.
Because I was there and had my camera, I got to witness when the pastor gave an open call for anyone to be baptized, and their standing in the line to get in were 2 good friends of mine and MY daughter. I climbed in the pool with my little girl and listened to her give her life to Christ, and I got to help her down under the water, to watch her come back up.
It was a tremendous blessing that I very easily could have simply, flat out missed.

Imagine if we could all be Ebenezer's and get to see the different impacts our choices make on our futures... I'd have begged on my knees to go back if I could have seen the two roads in front of me, and I'd chosen to stay home.

My wife shot with my camera some of the most precious pictures I'll ever have in my life, the images in the blog below this one.

Anyway, passing it on to you folks. It's not in our ability. It's not that you should go to church or that you need to find the 'right' church, not that you should be on some worship team, just a reminder to you and to myself the importance of being obedient to Christ. At work, at play, when we're alone, wherever. His blessings are the only thing we're really giving up if we aren't willing to be available.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I'm still trying to process the events of this day...
During Sunday school this morning, all on their own, my 6 year old daughter began a talk with another little girl about Jesus. They talked about John 3:16 and what He did, and what they believe. My little girl announced that she believed.
Today happened to be my church's baptism Sunday, and I was singing up front. During the baptism I was taking pictures for the families of the people being baptized. While he was in the water our pastor felt a call from Christ to open it up, to give an open invitation, and down walked 2 close friends of mine... and then there in front of me stood my little peanut. She'd made her decision.

When I saw her I couldn't believe my eyes. You have no idea how long I've been praying for her, to make the decision she did today. I knew it wasn't something I could push no matter how bad I wanted it, and until today, she was just never sure. I couldn't hold the camera straight or see through the tears, and it dawned on me as she was climbing into the baptismal pool that my place wasn't behind the camera, it was alongside my girl. I was there when my boy got wet, and I was there when my wife got wet. It was where I belonged.
Kari stepped in and took the camera for me and shot what you see in the images below.

As of October 25th, 2009, I've been blessed to say that I've personally baptized every member of my family. I've watched their faces go down under the water while I hold their hands and I've seen them raised up, taking that deep gulp of fresh air.

Praise God from whom all blessings come!

There is one word that can convey to you what I feel today. One word that is coursing through my veins.

Really, God.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rough Lumber Ministry

It's been one of the busiest Octobers. I'm apologizing for the lag in blogs. But, I'm pretty much just a direct guy. No fluff. Yes is Yes, No is No, so now that I've apologized for my failure, let's get down to business. Something's been going on that I've been hesitating to talk about.
I don't know why I've kept from writing about it, except that maybe I just don't know what to think of it, let alone what to explain about it, but regardless, I think it's time to let the cat out of the bag.
Me and a few guys have started a ministry.
Is that the right way to say it? Maybe not.
A few guys started a music ministry that I inadvertently named, and found myself singing in...
Between pictures and revamping the website, and now helping out in our church kids' night programs, the music has been occupying my time.
We're writing music like crazy, words that just come spilling out... and I'm not ashamed to say that I've actually been surprisingly impressed...because this music is ministering to the people that hear it. It relates to matters of the heart, and it speaks to the soul.

I've been around Christians who are shiny and plastic. I've been around religious people who are stuffy and proper. People who know just the right words to say but have never learned how to put hands and feet to the fluff coming out of their mouths. They know the right way to act and just how to present themselves in the best light, as long as it's during the best of circumstances. But, if you ever found them at the crux of a real burden, carrying a heavy load, they'd snap like toothpicks. Their masks remind me of a veneer, a piece of wood that looks like oak, but really is nothing more than a thin piece of plastic with a painted wood grain, laid over the top of particle board. They are smooth and they look tough, like they could bear any weight, but really they are just a cheap imitation of something they could be, but aren't.

I don't ever want to be that kind of a person, a Pharisee. I've got no time for people like that, and neither did Christ.

The guys that I call friends, the men in my life that I take counsel from, they are hard men. They are honest truth-tellers to a fault. You'll never find them giving a great speech or dancing around their point, because they say what they mean, and they mean what they say. Their yes means yes, and their no means no.
In the world of shiny veneers, they are rough lumber.

Run your hand along rough lumber and it might sting. You might get some splinters going against the grain.
But what you see is what you get, and while it might not be much to look at and it might not be pretty, you know the character and the quality of the man standing in front of you. These men you can trust, and when one of these men stand up and tell you about Jesus Christ, and what He's done in their lives, you know in your heart that they are speaking the truth.

Jesus died on a cross made of rough lumber. Those splinters ran deep into already open wounds, and He still prayed for us all. To me, he was that same kind of man, rough lumber, and I think that's why I find so much of Him to be agreeable with so much of me.

The name of our ministry is Rough Lumber. We're a group of guys that have a world of life experience gained from hard knocks, hard lessons, and an Amazing Grace afforded to us, a second chance at life. We want to reach out to people who aren't being reached. That means going to them instead of hoping that they someday grace the doorstep of our church. We'll be ministering through music and the word of God, wherever that takes us. In the missions for the homeless, in shelters, at the local boys ranch for troubled kids, to youth groups, and possibly even reaching into the local bars. We don't know where God is going to take it, but we're going to give Him the glory. We've committed that we are not in this for the money or the name, our only mission is to get His message out through music and our witness.

Here's the deal, folks. Combined, we have a budget of peanuts, so if any of you out there believe that getting the message out to the lost, the hurting, the broken might be worth your investment, we would sure appreciate any donations. As it stands right now we need equipment.
We've already got the website, we've all pitched in and we've bought drums and guitars, but there are still needs.

I'm as upfront and real as I can be about this, because I'm just trusting in Christ at this point. If you don't know my character, give me a call, talk to people who know me, go back through the years of blog posts, and get a handle on who I am and what I believe.

We're in the beginning stage of this ministry. But if anyone out there is feeling led, and you'd like to help out on the ground floor, just click the Paypal button below to donate whatever amount you wish.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sean Kaplan - Ford Owner

Yes, I know there are a hundred things I could and very well should be blogging about. But this is a once in a life time event, and I just can't pass it up.
My lifelong friend of 25 years has for atleast 20 of those years given me a hard time about being a Ford man. He never missed a chance to tell me how wonderful Chevy was, or to make up some new Found On Road Dead jingle..... and yet, here he is today. It only took him this many years to come around to the good side, driving all the way here from Wyoming to buy his first ever brand new Ford, so this is a good sign. There's hope for him yet. He's not completely lost, and he'll finally be able to go all those places in the Bighorn mountains that his broke down, busted up, child's-toy Chevy's could never take him :P
hee. hee.....