Month: July 2014

First, do no harm

First, do no harm.   This is a well known lesson in the medical field.   Maybe we could adopt it into Christian circles.   That committee at church would benefit from hearing it.  The pastor down the street could hear it.  Actually we all could.

First, do no harm.  Then worry about everything else.

Romans 13:10  Love does no harm to a neighbor.


Lady in Red

A line of sorrow stretched down the sidewalk.  Questions.  Hopelessness.  Anger.  Denial.  Shock.

Inside stood a family with the same emotions; a family that will mourn and question with no end.

How could this happen?  In the blink of an eye everything that was planned comes to an end because of the senseless stupidity of a man who could not control his actions and who refused to abide by the simple laws of the land: Don’t drink and drive.  Simple laws of common sense.  Simple laws of self control.  Simple laws of mechanics and chemistry.

He may not be a murderer in the sense that he held a gun but he killed senselessly just the same.  He may not have had hatred in his mind but evil lurked there just the same.

It is a mystery why the innocent are taken and the evil remain.  It is a mystery that even the wisest cannot answer.  Love while you can.  Don’t blink.  Your moment may pass right before you.  The enemy is lurking to kill and destroy.

Ephesians 5:15-17

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

lady in red

Go from your country

I had a great weekend with missionary friends that are home on furlough.   We attended the global fair with Eastern Mennonite Missions and also their commissioning service on Sunday.  Overall – a win win across the board.

Some thoughts and reflections: As a child, my memories of missionaries are of “old” people coming to our church showing slides of Africa.  The men wore funny “missionary” shirts and they brought hand crafted trinkets from other countries.  I still have some of those trinkets in my house today.  Men are still wearing those “missionary” shirts and the women still wear long colorful dresses in native patterns.  I like them more now as an adult than when I was a child.

Missions is a tough gig.  You need to go to another country and leave your family and friends.  Your children are confused because they don’t know what nationality they are.  Not only do you do hard work but you need to raise your own support at the same time.  If one of your supporters or churches doesn’t like what they see, they can cut you off without notice.  Like I said, tough gig.

Many of the missionaries going out have a number of small children.  The more children they have, the more money they need to raise.  Flying gets very expensive with 4 children.

Why don’t they stay home?  hmmm  Good question.   I recommend that you travel to their country and ask them.  You might figure it out on your own.

One missionary commented on my many blogs.  I said “you don’t read many, I see when your country shows on the reader.”  He told me that they hide their reads for security reasons and just to be funny they were going to pick obscure counties to show up in the reads!  If Botswana shows up today, I’m going to assume it is this missionary.  So far I only have the USA and India.

May the work of your hands be blessed today!

Genesis 12:1-3

The Call of Abram

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.[a]
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”[b]


does it ever get any better?

A friend asked me the other day about Isaiah’s death.  She said, “does it ever get any better?” I answered, “I don’t know.”  In some ways it does.  In others it doesn’t.  I can’t watch soccer anymore.  I don’t really want to discuss the World Cup.  We have moments when we laugh about his funny exploits.  We can talk about him and what happened without becoming emotional.  I miss him just as much today as I did a year ago.  Some of the pain is gone.  Two years ago today he was in a youth correctional center facing felony breaking and entering charges.  I forgot all about that until now as I began writing.  That was a long summer with a lot of stress in our home. The reason I’m writing today is not to mourn Isaiah.  I am mourning for another family in our school district that lost their 18 year old daughter to a drunk driver yesterday.  Meredith Demko graduated from High School 25 days ago along with my son Josh.  She was planning on starting college in a few weeks. You don’t need another another lecture on drinking and driving.  I could rant and rage but it won’t change what happened yesterday.  I’m writing because this has brought my emotions back on edge.  Our little community has lost several parents over the past three years and we lost Isaiah.  We have all been to more funerals than I want to go to in a lifetime. I didn’t know Meredith personally and yet the pain is hitting me in the face.  Another family without their child.  Friends without their friend.  Teachers mourning the loss of a bright student.  Emergency responders dealing with shock.  Pictures of a smiling girl from the prom and graduation that will no longer be photographed. Our community will pull together again.  Friends will support the family.  Meals will be delivered.  Parents will give their children an extra hug and say “I love you” a little more often.  Parents will also remind their children a few too many times, “Please be careful driving.”  Life can suck.  It can really hurt at times.  But every time we get knocked down, we have someone there to help pull us up. Does it ever get any better?  Yes it does.  I still love Isaiah.  I miss him.  I miss John, Scott and Tim who died way to early these past few years.  I miss standing along the soccer field with them.  Meredith’s family and friends will miss her too.  Some days will be good.  Some days will be bad. Someday they will be able to laugh about her funny exploits.  But for now we will all cry.

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn . . .


Do you claim to be a Christian?

He claims to be a Christian but . . .

She claims to be a Christian but . . .

How many times have you heard this in your life?  If you are a business person, you hear it all the time.  Anytime something goes wrong, the Christian card comes out  This usually means that the offended person is angry about how they were treated and decided to attack our faith or allegiance to God.

Here are some easy ones: an employee is fired – Oh! you’re definitely not a Christian!

In my business, I need to evict people for not paying rent – Guilty!!!!!!! (I had a tenant go all the way to city council and argue that I was a licensed minister and that I couldn’t evict her!)

Here was the one that inspired this blog today:  I was searching for a Mennonite Ice Cream business and this was the first review: “Good ice cream but not dog friendly which is surprising because they claim to be Christians. I thought God put purpose, intent, and planning into all things He created. Knowing the nature of a dog and its needs then I am sure God’s intent for dogs was not to live in a cage and be bread for MONEY!”

Are you a REAL Christian or do you just claim to be one?  Sometimes the accusation is correct and deserved.  Often it is an easy target.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Be Kind to the Needy

Proverbs 14:31 Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. NIV

Be kind in your transactions today. Be gracious to those who have less than you. Don’t be greedy and angry. If someone takes advantage, remember that they are dealing with issues and that God sees what they are doing as well.

Reach down and help someone who needs lifted up. No one wants to be oppressed.

Veggie Tales Bankrupcty

VeggieTales Creator: Bankruptcy Humbled Me, Killed My Idol

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  • Phil Vischer
    (Photo: AP Images / Beth A. Keiser)
    In this file photo taken on Dec. 18, 1998, Phil Vischer, left, co-creater of “Veggie Tales”, sits with main characters “Bob” the tomato, center, and ” Larry” the cucumber, in Chicago.
May 6, 2011|6:33 am

LISLE, Illinois – With a sharp sense of humor and storytelling skills befitting the creator of the beloved VeggieTales films, Phil Vischer told a crowd of Christian journalists Wednesday that bankruptcy humbled him and helped him to pursue God instead of a dream.

“Suddenly I found myself facing a God I had never heard about in Sunday school. A God that apparently wanted me to let go of my dreams,” shared Vischer, the keynote speaker at the Evangelical Press Association’s opening banquet.

After dropping out of seminary school Vischer co-founded Big Idea Productions and created the talking vegetable children’s animation series VeggieTales in 1993. Quickly, word of mouth spread among Christians about the cute talking cucumber and tomato that taught biblical values and millions of copies of VeggieTales videos were sold.

Big Idea Productions quickly grew from three staff members to over 200 workers by 2000 and was the largest animation studio in the nation, recalled Vischer. People were asking out loud if Vischer would be the next Walt Disney and approached him with ideas to expand the VeggieTales enterprise.

But at the height of his professional success, everything went wrong. His staff members were arguing, video sales stopped, he had to fire over half his staff, and a former distributor sued him. The court ruled in favor of the distributor and Vischer lost everything and had to file bankruptcy.

Amid all of these difficulties, a woman Vischer didn’t know was emailing him regularly congratulating him on his success but concluding her emails by warning him to keep an eye on his pride.

Order Online: What’s in the Bible – 1

After his bankruptcy, his mother handed him a cassette of a preacher who asked the question, “What does it mean when God gives you a dream and the dream comes to life and God shows up and without warning the dream dies?”

The preacher shared the story of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4 who served the prophet Elisha and was given a son in her old age. But suddenly her son, who was the dream God gave her, dies. Elisha then lies on the boy and prays to God and the boy becomes alive again.

“What was the point of that? Why put the woman through that exercise?” asked Vischer.

If God gives a person a dream, breathes life into it and then it dies then God might want to know what is more important to the person – the dream or God, he said.

“The Shunammite woman’s response was clear. She headed straight to Elisha. He is the man of God and she wanted to be as close to God as she can,” explained the Christian animator, who pointed out that she refused to leave Elisha even though she didn’t understand what was happening.

“She is going to hang onto God no matter what.”

Similarly, God tested Abraham when he asked him to kill his dream and the promise of God, Isaac.

“You can imagine how much Abraham loves Isaac. He was not only the son, but he is the promise, he is the dream, he is how God is going to use him to change the world. He is everything,” said Vischer.

But God told Abraham to put his beloved son Isaac on the altar and kill him.

“And what God learned about Abraham that day is that Abraham would let go of everything before he would let go of God,” said Vischer. “God said, ‘OK, now I can use you.’”

“Why would God want us to let go of our dreams? Because anything that you are unwilling to let go of is an idol and you are in sin,” explained the VeggieTales creator. “I realized that my good works had become an idol that defined me. Rather than finding my identity in my relationship with God, I was finding it in my intense drive to do good works.”

In 2005, Vischer founded Jellyfish Labs, named to remind him of the lessons he learned through his painful experience with VeggieTales and the bankruptcy. A jellyfish cannot choose its own course but it is dependent on the current to carry it where it needs to go, he explained.

“I realized at Big Ideas I was a big studdly barracuda,” said Vischer. But now he understands that he is a “spineless, brainless, bag of goo. I get my form, my purpose only when I am suspended in the current of God’s will and trusting that God’s will will carry me where He wants me to be.”

Through Jellyfish Labs, Vischer developed “What’s in the Bible,” a video series that helps Christian kids and families to understand the basics of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

“Seven years ago my dream died and I discovered once all the noise faded away what I had been missing all along,” he said. “The impact that God has planned for us does not occur when we are pursuing impact. It occurs when we are pursuing God.”

“I have no idea what my business strategy will be in two years, and that is OK because God does,” said Vischer. “So let go of ego. Let go of outcomes and put your plans in God’s hands and let Him direct your steps.”