Friday, December 31, 2010


In a daily devotional, Sara Young presents an intimate conversation with God, where He invites her, and the readers of the devotional, to come closer and experience the peace of His presence. Here is the word for her, you and me as this year draws to a close:

"As this year draws to a a close, receive My Peace. This is still your deepest need, and I, your Prince of Peace, long to pour Myself into your neediness. My abundance and your emptiness are a perfect match. I designed you to have no sufficiency of your own."

Wow! What a powerful word as we enter this new year. "no sufficiency of your own". What a contrast to my ego, my pride, my "self-sufficiency". I read the words from Philippians that says, "I can do all things through Christ..........." My actions say I often stop at: "I can do all things."

I want to have the attitude of Ruth and Mary in the scriptures where they say, in essence: "who am I that You would redeem me, that You would show such favor, that You would consider me someone who could be used for Your Kingdom purposes?"

I know what God is calling me to do in this upcoming year, and I don't like it but I receive it. It sounds like what He was calling me to do in the year just completed. And the one before that and the one before that and ........................... You get the picture.

Humility -- discipline -- fasting and prayer -- accountability -- patience ........... You also get that picture, don't you? Up North Wisdom says it isn't that difficult (to understand). But it is not easy to put into practice. Whoever said it was? The way of the cross? My flesh says no. My spirit says it's the only way -- to anything worthwhile. To peace -- to joy -- to satisfaction -- to acceptance -- .................And you get that picture as well, don't you.

And like Sara Young, I end the year saying to the Lord: "Thank You for Your Peaceful Presence, regardless of my feelings." Amen. For 2011, THE BEST IS YET TO COME!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's Not About Me

Christmas should remind us if nothing else does, that this life is not about us, even if we try so hard to make it so. If we are Christians, then even the church is not about us. The church is about reaching out to those who do not know, who do not believe that their only hope and salvation is in Jesus Christ.

Are you making life all about you? You will never be content or at peace if you do. Jesus came into this world because of you (every "you" out there). If your life revolves around you, then you will always be seeking, searching and trying to do what is impossible to do: that is, find satisfaction from what you do and from what you achieve. We have nothing to offer Christ except the only thing He wants -- our life committed to Him. Our talents means nothing in light of all that Christ gives to any who ask.

Up North Wisdom says stop trying so hard to be appreciated, valued, accepted in what you do instead of in who you are. The theme of our Mega For Kids says: God created you, God loves you, and God has a plan for your life. Rest in that and quit trying in your own power to make God (and others) love you more. We serve because we are loved.

Thank you, God for sending Jesus Christ to make real life possible. You came to give us LIFE and to give it to the very fullest. Wow!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Greatest Compliment

At a recent staff meeting, I asked my associate pastors what would be the greatest compliment that someone could give them. After hearing some excellent feedback, I told them that I heard my sister say of a person some years ago, "That person was the best listener I have ever talked to."

If relationships are at all important to us, then it is critical that we be good listeners. Are you? Am I? Someone said that good leaders are good listeners and great leaders are great listeners. The Bible says in James chapter one that we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Good counsel -- too bad we all don't heed it better.

I like to talk to God; and to my wife; and to my kids and grandkids. Do I like to listen to them as well. God wants my attention and so does my wife and the other important people in my life. Stephen Covey in "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" puts it this way: "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." Wow! Did you get that?

I guess we need to be less concerned with whether people hear and understand us than we are with whether we hear and understand them. We need to listen more and talk less. I think since God created us with two ears and one mouth, it should tell us something.

Here are some barriers that keep us from being effective listeners: (They are not original by any means.) No. 1 being preoccupied and not listening. Parents do this a lot with their kids. God forgive me for all the many times I tuned my kids out thinking it wasn't as important as my immediate preoccupation. No 2 Being so interested in what I have to say that I listen mainly to find an opening to get the floor. No 3 Formulating and listening to my own rebuttal to what the speaker is saying.

No 4 Listening to my own personal beliefs about what is being said. No 5 Evaluating and making judgments about the speaker or the message. And finally No 6 Not asking for clarification when you know that you do not understand.

Up North Wisdom says that I need to follow my own teachings that I gave regularly to the teens when I was the Youth Pastor. That is: to listen up, lighten up and shut up. Their language. You get the message. And so do I. And when it comes to our relationship with God, let's be like young Samuel when he said, "Speak Lord; your servant is listening." Blessings!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Flattery vs. Compliments

Flattery: "a deception of others and ones self" "insincere and excessive compliments for personal advantage"

Another title for this blog could be: selfishness vs. selflessness. That is because flattery is always about the flatterer and compliments are about the "other" person. I read where a well-known widow at a big reception asked a young man to guess her age. "You must have some idea" she said as he hesitated. "I have several ideas," he admitted with a smile. "The trouble is that I hesitate whether to make it ten years younger on account of your looks, or ten years older on account of your intelligence."

Giving sincere compliments is a powerful tool for creating and building relationships. Flattery destroys them. Praise rightfully earned helps develop the self-esteem of those we care about. Insincere flattery (which may be an oxymoron since flattery is by definition insincere) makes us feel less worthwhile, makes us feel hurt and used and less trusting of the flatterer. The flattery may for a short time make one feel good but ultimately it will make that same person feel empty and used. The Bible is full of verses warning against falling into the trap of either giving or receiving flattery.

It is important to understand that a flatterer depends on giving compliments for his own personal gain when he doesn't usually believe the compliment itself. Every one likes a sincere compliment. However people with a low self-confidence can be susceptible to the flatterer. Ironically a person who attempts to flatter a person, thinking that his flattery will work, really shows how little he thinks of that person.

Up North Wisdom says we should and must be more complimentary of others. Use the gift of encouragement. Sometimes out of fear that our compliments may be mistaken for flattery, we often neglect to build others up and to give deserving compliments and encouragement. Motive is the difference between flattery and a sincere compliment. One is intended to encourage and give credit where credit is due, the other is self-serving. Avoid being manipulated by flattery and being a flatterer. Flattery is a lie. The Bible calls it sin and so should we.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Tension: " The act of stretching something tight" -- "the feeling of uncertainty and interest about the outcome of certain actions" -- a balanced relation between opposing (different) elements" -- "the interplay of conflicting elements that make up an effective piece of literature and esp. a poem".

OK, what's the point? Just this: we tend to think of tension as something negative; something to be avoided at all costs such as a "tension" headache or an emotional (mental) strain. I want to propose that tension can be very good in helping us be more effective in relationships as well as in ministry. Because it can tend to make us somewhat uncomfortable, we generally want to avoid tension but I think we should learn to embrace it.

An effective musical instrument with strings needs to have proper tension to sound good. Too much and it can break; too little and you get nothing. In my relationship with my wife, tension between ideas, thoughts and feelings can make me uncomfortable but it can produce power and intimacy that otherwise wouldn't be there. It's like the place where two powerful rivers come together: There are strong, sometimes dangerous currents, whirlpools that look bad, and rapids that can leave you breathless. But downstream a ways, the river is stronger, wider, deeper and much more effective that either river was on its own.

It can be that way in ministry when people are working together: Thought against thought, idea against idea, feeling against feeling. You know -- tension. But when you put together the conflicting elements and have some patience, what comes out of it is like a beautiful piece of literature. And it ministers to so many.

Up North Wisdom says that if I love and appreciate the person I live with, the person I have relationship with, the person that I minister with, then I will give way when it is needed, speak up when it is needed and press forward. I will not give in, give out or give up even when I am really tempted to. Begin to see tension as a positive force in building something really good in your relationships and your ministry. God will give wisdom to know when the tension is too great (and in danger of breaking) or when the tension is too loose and nothing happens -- no growth, no building, no progress and no intimacy.

Take a chance and see what God will do when you turn over your fears and doubts to Him. When you understand and embrace Godly tension, you will really believe that: The Best Is Yet To Come! Blessings!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Who Are We?

I normally wouldn't comment about a football game but after the very disappointing Packer loss to the Bears, I heard some things from the players that really got my attention. The team played very poorly in many regards and made so many mistakes (penalties) that contributed to the defeat. Some of the comments of the players went like this: "We didn't execute" (meaning "we were awful") -- "We're a smarter team than that" (no actually they're not; they were like they played) -- "That's not the way we play" (yes, actually, that's exactly how they played). Most excuses for bad play were just that, excuses.

Living Hope Church founding pastor, the late Jim Erickson, used to say this: when you get older, you will just be more of what you were when you were younger -- unless you make the decision not to be like that. In other words, if you are an angry person growing up, you will be a more angry person as you get older. If you are a bitter person, (unforgiving, unfeeling, uncaring, etc. -- you get the point) you will be more bitter, unforgiving, etc. as you get older. That is, unless you are honest about who you are and decide you want to change and be better as you get older instead of being bitter.

The point is this: do I really want to change? Do I want to grow and be more effective in my Christian walk than I am right now? Anyone can change if they really want to and understand the need to. The scripture says "I can do all things (make any good changes in my life) through
Christ who gives me the strength to do it" Phil. 4:13

Do you want to be more of what you are right now as you get older? Or is Christ (maybe through the people He puts into your life who are trying to speak to you but you aren't listening) telling you to put off those old, unproductive, damaging ways of thinking, talking, and acting and with His help to put on a new way.

Up North Wisdom says change is never easy. But if I see the need and value of making good changes, I understand that Christ will give all the help I need. I hope the Packers make some changes that will help them be more effective in their game, but even more importantly, will you and I decide that enough is enough and begin to put the past behind us? With His help, the best is yet to come. Believe it, Confess it and claim it for Jesus sake and His Kingdom and certainly for your good. Amen!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Are You Blind?

Chapter nine of the Gospel of John contains a great story of a blind man to whom Christ restored sight. The religious formalists of the time (Pharisees) would not accept that Jesus was the one who did the miracle and kept hounding the man to acknowledge that. The man said all he knew was that he was blind and now he could see. The implication was that only God could do such a miracle so Jesus must be who He said He was: that is, the Son of God.

Jesus pointed out to those religious formalists that since they claimed to know everything (could see and know clearly) that they were indeed the blind ones who refused to acknowledge and accept(see) Christ as being sent from God. They refused to see their own blindness (faults, sins) but claimed to be able to see others faults. Their refusal to "see" the truth about themselves kept them in their lost (blind) condition.

The question we must ask ourselves is "are we blind to our own faults, our true condition?" Are we those who can see the specks in others eyes and not see the beams in our own eyes? What has Christ been trying to point out to you in your life that needs to change? What are you refusing to admit about your life and attitudes that are resulting in spiritual blindness?

Psalm 139 ends with this truth: "Lord, look deep into my heart and life and bring out everything that is displeasing (sinful) and counter-productive to your will. Point out to me what I do that offends You. Forgive me (open my eyes) and then lead me into the bright and clear future that you have planned for me." TPJV (The Pastor Jerry Version) Believe me, friend, that is a prayer that God will always answer. Don't continue to be blind to your faults. (sins) Look into God's spiritual mirror and change what God tells you to change.

Up North Wisdom says that Religious formalists ( the ones that say "I'm alright, I don't need to change. I'm better than most and not as bad as some. I'm a church goer and that is enough.") are really the ones who are blind. Don't be blind. Let Christ open your eyes to see the truth. The Word says that understanding and applying the truth of God's Word to your life will truly set you free. (John 8:32) As the beautiful old chorus says: "Open my eyes, Lord. I want to see Jesus." Amen. The best is yet to come!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Least of These

I just finished doing a week of service for a Camp Daniel summer camp. Last year I served as a camp counselor and this year I served a a kitchen helper. Chrissy Kelly is the head kitchen director and she does an incredible job in overseeing the preparation and serving of well over 100 people for three meals a day for six days. It was an honor to serve under her leadership. It was a fun, hot and tiring week. I am still recovering from lack of sleep and rest, but with a heart filled with awe at the miracles that God does during all that takes place in one short week.

Camp Daniel is a ministry directed towards people with mental disabilities. Many have physical disabilities as well. I always have thought that the verses from Matthew 25:40,45 certainly applied to the disabled population. The verses quote Jesus when he says in essence that how you serve the "least of these" is also how you serve Him and how you don't serve the "least of these" is how you don't serve Him. I think I was mistaken.

I think that the campers at Camp Daniel with all of their many disabilities, some severe and some less so to some degree, really were serving us in many ways. I felt that I really was the "least of these" and was really being ministered to by the many campers that week. The theme was "We Are Strong" and Pastor James did a masterful job in leading the worship and in teaching during the chapel times.

One of the qualities that really humbled me was the level of honesty that I saw shown in the campers. I was challenged to not be the "least" when it comes to this huge quality. Another quality that was shown so beautifully was acceptance. The level of acceptance for each other as well as for the counselors and workers was so cool to watch. The campers for the most part love to love and be loved. Without reservation. What a challenge to me! Lord, help me not to be the "least" when it comes to accepting people that you put in my life and to be open in loving people as You have loved me.

And as always I am so humbled when it comes to worshiping with the campers. The open desire to worship to the best of their abilities is always convicting as I think that many times I allow my feelings to dictate whether I am going to hold back my praise and worship of our great God and Savior. I do not want to be the "least" when it comes to the worship of Jesus Christ.

So, Up North Wisdom says in so many ways we all fall into the "least of these" category. But let's be an example to those God puts in our paths by giving our best to the Master. Thank God, He doesn't judge like we do all too often. We are all sinners who need to be saved by His Grace. And when we are, we are all Children of God who are called and have something to offer His Kingdom. Let's all follow the direction of the Word of God that says "whatever we do in word or deed, do it for the Glory of God". Thank You, Lord, for giving your best to the "least of all of us".

Blessings, my friends. Keep putting on the Armor.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Home Missions

Our missions team returned this past week from their trip to Kenya and in particular to a town in northern Kenya called Garissa. From what I understand the work that the team did was hot, dusty and very hard. One of the team members caught on fire (literally) and some of the guys suffered from a severe rash from some of the wood they were cutting for use at the project This Sunday some of the team members will be sharing their experiences in our Sunday morning service.

I am reminded that most of what we call "missions" is really done right in our own backyard, so to speak. Every Christian is called to the mission field of their family, their workplace, their school, their neighborhood and their church. Which is more difficult -- to share Christ with someone in a foreign country or someone you work with, go to school with or someone in your own family. Probably the physical demands would say that foreign missions is more difficult and I wouldn't disagree with that. And there are some heavy spiritual opposition forces at work that require being armored up with the spiritual weapons of warfare when traveling to a foreign country where spiritual darkness has ruled for centuries. Thank God for the power of the Holy Spirit!

But witnessing in your own backyard so-to-speak requires something even more. It requires a life style to back up our testimony. It is not enough to have the right talk (words); we must have the walk to back it up. Speaking the truth and not living the truth is called being a hypocrite. I am glad that God holds us to a high standard. Why shouldn't He? He paid a high price for our salvation and has given us a mission to win the world for Him. The Word is very clear that our faith must be backed up with our works if anything of value is going to be accomplished for the Kingdom of God.

I think it is important that our family and friends and brothers and sisters in Christ hold us accountable for our lives. Iron should sharpen iron and sometimes the process is painful. Are you willing to be sharpened for effectiveness for Kingdom work? I hope so. Jesus said the fields are white for harvest but the laborers are few. God help us to see the urgency of our time and be ready always with an answer of the hope (Living Hope) that is in us when we have the opportunity. And always with gentleness and patience.

Up North Wisdom says look to the Word of God and ask like the psalmist for God to "search me and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You Lord, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." (Psalm 139:23-24) AMEN! The Best Is Yet To Come!! Have a great summer and keep a watchful eye for those God-moments.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Be Ready

This past Sunday morning, Living Hope Church commissioned our mission team as they prepare to leave on Thursday for Kenya. Please continue to pray each day for the team as they lay plans to help build a school for girls in Northern Kenya. I've said this before, I think there is going to be so much more happen for God's Kingdom as the team focuses on this project. Please pray each day for the team members ( a list is available in the church office). They will be in an area where the gospel is not welcome by most and yet needed by all. Your prayers are welcome and much needed. If we don't, who will? Satan hates that this trip is taking place and we need to be in prayer against any of his devices. I want the team to sense and feel the powerful prayers of their church family each day.

During the message Sunday morning, I felt led to stop in the middle and ask if there were any people who needed and wanted to give their lives to Christ. What a blessing to see people respond and ask Christ into their lives. It reminded me that God will provide many opportunities to give our answer of hope if we are just alert and available. I am praying that each step of the trip provides just such opportunities for the team members. Maybe there will be people in the three airports who will open to the Gospel. Maybe people in the airplanes will be curious enough to ask who these people are and that will lead to an open door for the Gospel. In restaurants, on the streets, and wherever the Spirit of God opens a door, I pray each team member will be ready with a word of testimony and encouragement.

Team members, I know that a direct presentation of the Gospel is not possible where you are going but God is big and awesome so don't discount Him opening doors that normally would be closed. Be ready with an answer to anyone who is open for your word of encouragement and hope. I am praying for miraculous things to be accomplished that can't be done any other way except by God Himself. Watch and pray! We will all look forward to regular reports on the missions blog on our church website.

Team members, your church loves and appreciates you and is rightly proud of your willingness to give up time and money to do His work. I believe He will bless you many times over for your commitment. Go in the spirit and power of God. Be bold, be strong, for the Lord your God is with you. Up North Wisdom says to remember to "not be afraid or discouraged because the battle is not yours, but Gods." (2 Cron. 20:15) The Best Is Yet To Come!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Enlarged Territory

We are going through the Prayer of Jabez study on Wednesday evenings and have just completed the section where Jabez asked God to expand (enlarge) his territory. As I listened and studied, I began to think about the mission trip to Kenya that our church is sponsoring in June. The main idea of the trip, as I believe, is to help build a school for girls in northern Kenya -- A great task and a difficult one as well. I began to think that as Jabez asked for expanded territory (influence), that maybe God has something even bigger for the participants in this trip.

There is an obvious passion that our people have for the nation of Kenya. God, through Ezekiel, said, "I searched for someone that they should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land (Kenya), that I should not destroy it: but I found none." Ezk. 22:30. God loves the nation of Kenya but it is a nation on the brink. I don't think there is a big window of time for the Gospel to be brought to this nation. I want God to do something way beyond what our team expects Him to do -- something only He can do.

"Lord, expand the territory (the mission) of this trip. Do something even bigger than has been asked for to this point. As you heard the prayer of Jabez and answered, so hear and answer this prayer. Let everything about this trip be supernatural. Let the "expansion," the "enlarging" of territory begin right now. Let the salvation of souls begin now. Let the witness of the mission team be given now. Let people be saved even now all the way through the completion of the mission and even beyond. Let those flying on the same plane be open to the Gospel. Let people in the airports be open to the Gospel. Let neighbors and friends of the mission trip participants be open to the Gospel. Let every mission trip participant be fully expectant NOW for the giving out of the Gospel. Before the trip, during the trip, during the time in Kenya, the trip back, and after each one returns, Lord, let the Gospel be given powerfully for your Kingdom's sake. Amen!"

Just as important as the trip members are the intercessors who will cover everything about the mission with prayer. The attack of the enemy really begins now in earnest if we pray for expanded territory now. We must fight the good fight of faith. The prayers of God's people are powerful. Be a part of this trip with yours. Assist those going on the trip not only with prayers but with your financial support. Many of you have already. Many of you still can. When Paul writes of his journeys, he mentions not only Timothy and Titus as his helpers, but also Lydia and the other precious women who aided him. They were all devoted servants whose assistance helped touch entire nations with the Gospel.

Soooooo, let's pray the prayer of Jabez for this trip. "Lord, bless indeed, each mission trip participant. Expand their territories way beyond their present thinking and believing. Put your hand upon each one and keep them from any evil that the enemy would bring upon them. For Your Glory, and Honor, and for Your Kingdom's sake. AMEN!!!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

One More Year

Little Tony gave a good tribute to his father on his 70th birthday. He talked about the influence his dad has on him. So I am turning 64 today. Happy Birthday to me, right. Let me share some things that I have learned from the founding pastor of Living Hope Church: Jim Erickson. Another way to put this is: what are some things I have learned in 64 years of life? By the way, Tony, Jim loved to preach on the balanced life which you said your dad was a good example of.

A couple of verses from Proverbs about anger were often quoted by Jim. One was "A soft answer turns away anger." Another was like that: "A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when hurt." Wow! Those two keep resonating in my mind often. Anger can be a killer of relationships and a killer of testimonies. I want to keep growing in the truth of these wise scriptures. I don't want to be controlled by anger, do you? We are told by the Apostle James to be quick to listen, slow to speak and SLOW to become angry because anger brings the opposite of righteousness. Where are you in these verses, friend?

Jim used to say to me that if a lesson only costs me money, it is a cheap lesson. And I used to think, "Ya, that's easy for you to say." But how right he was and how true that is. I needed to take ownership of my mistakes. I have made some decisions in the past that were costly in dollars but how I responded to the results were the real test. Sometimes anger, sometimes discouragement, sometimes putting myself down. But I have and still continue to learn that God will use those times to teach me things that will save me in the long run, both in dollars and in the things that really count.

Another Jimism: Just because I call myself a pastor/leader doesn't mean that it is true. If no one follows my leadership than I am a leader/pastor in name only. Every morning when I get into my car and drive to the office, I wonder what I am doing. I feel often that I am not qualified to be a pastor. I think that I am in way over my head and my abilities fall so far short. And it is then God reminds that I am right. I don't have it in me but God does and since He has called me, He equips me and empowers me to do the ministry of a pastor. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. He just calls for my availability and faithfulness. So it is always "To God Be The Glory, Great Things He Hath Done". Amen.

Another (and I could probably write a short book) one of the biggest and best is this: "Circumstances will make me a bitter or better person; it's my choice." Not much of a choice, right? And yet so many chose bitterness and thereby bring hurt and defilement upon themselves and others around them. I have to chose often not to let even a tiny root of bitterness get a foothold in my life. Those tiny roots can grow quickly into something very ugly. And it will ruin my witness and testimony. How can we do this? As the scripture says, it is not by might or by power but by God's Spirit. We (I) are without excuse. We must let the past things go and look forward to what God has for us. Truly the best is yet to come if we do it God's way.

Finally, how about this truth: If I fail at home and in my relationships with my family and others, then I fail no matter how much "success" I seem to enjoy in my work or other pursuits. I am not going to elaborate on this too much except to say this: Can the people around you (me) really be honest with you? Are you (am I) really open to honest criticism? If you are, then ask them to be honest with you in how you are doing in your relationship with them. If I don't let those who know me and love me be honest with me without getting defensive, then I will never grow in many critical areas that God wants me to grow in. How's that for meddling?

So Up North Wisdom says, Thank you, Pastor Jim for your wise counsel over the years. You are now enjoying your Heavenly reward and we will see each other again. I will by the Grace of God continue to try to stay true to your great legacy. Your example is the best birthday gift a person could receive.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tear Soup

Some cooking requires that you measure ingredients exactly (or so I am told) but making soup is different. Soup making is an art, and you are the artist. Improvising as you go, your only goal is that the blended creation will both satisfy your hunger and soothe what hurts you.

What's true about soup making is also true about grieving. And who of us hasn't experienced some loss in our lives that has confronted us with this unsettled and somewhat undefined process. Tear Soup is a richly illustrated book where Grandy, the main character has just suffered a big loss in her life, and so she is cooking up her own unique batch of "tear soup." Tear Soup gives you a glimpse into Grandy's life as she blends different ingredients into her own grief process. Her tear soup will help to fill the void in her life that was created by her loss.

Up North Wisdom recommends this book to you. Whether you are the "cook", a friend of the "cook", a child of the "cook", a male "cook", or if there are two of you "cooking", Tear Soup will affirm the bereaved, educate the unbereaved and will be a building block for children. You can get information about the book and how to order it by logging on to Let me know what you think.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Exhausted Resources

I love the story from Luke chapter 5 where Jesus is preaching and the crowds were so large that Jesus hops into Peter's boat and says, "push out from the land." He uses that boat as His pulpit and begins to preach the word. Then when He's finished, He surprises the men by saying, "Go fishing, Launch out into the deep and let down your nets." These disciples had toiled all night. These expert fishermen had done everything that they could but their training and their experience were not enough. They were trying to do what they had done so many times before but now it was only tired bodies and empty nets and discouraged spirits. They had exhausted their resources.

Jesus always used real life situations to make His points and the point was this -- if you try to live your life without Jesus Christ as the head of your life, you will always come up empty. How many times do we work and toil only to feel that all has been in vain? We try with all of our might to be good parents, good workers, good students, good husbands or wives, good Christians, -- only to end up with tired bodies and discouraged spirits. And that will always be the outcome when we operate without Jesus Christ as our source.

Peter, the disciples, and we are always having to learn that there is only one way to do the work of the Lord and that is HIS way. There is only one power that can enable us to live the life that He wants us to live and that is the power of the Holy Spirit. It look Peter a long time to learn that lesson but he did. In Acts 3 Peter tells the beggar that he didn't have any silver or gold to give him but he would give him the greatest discover of his life. In Jesus name, be made whole. Peter had made the discovery that life is more than physical strength, human wisdom and financial security. He discovered that life comes to those who believe in Jesus Christ, body, soul and spirit and give themselves unreservedly and completely to Him. God help us to make that discovery.

Christ calls you and I today to launch out into the deep of His grace, of His love and of His forgiveness and faith. You might respond like Peter, "But Lord, I've tried and I've tried and I really haven't gotten anywhere. Mostly Lord, I've make a mess of my life. I just seem to go a different direction but nothing seems to fall into place. I've worked so hard at it but It doesn't seem to happen. And I'm just afraid to try anymore."

Up North Wisdom says maybe you can say like Peter, "nevertheless Lord". Nevertheless because you call me to come to you with my burdens and my cares and my pain and my sin, because YOU ask me to do it. I will. I'll try again. And as God blesses you and strengthens you and touches your life, you can, like Peter, reach out and give people what they really need -- that same grace and love that has turned your life around and has given you meaning in life. THE BEST IS YET TO COME! Believe it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why Is Sin Called Sin?

We don't hear much about the word sin these days. People, Christians included, prefer words that aren't so "negative" -- words like failures, weaknesses, mistakes, etc. Why do you think that the Bible calls sin sin. It does because sin kills and destroys. "The soul that sins will die" is God's Word. God wasn't judging when He said this; He was simply revealing truth. If sin didn't destroy, He would have called it something else. But it does, so it is called sin.

I read that Planned Parenthood of Ashland, Oregon plans to offer medication-induced abortions at its clinics in Ashland and Eugene in March. The executive director said the service will "provide women with an option for (terminating a pregnancy) in the comfort and privacy of home." These home-used drugs will (expel a fetus). They want to make sure women have adequate access to a full range of health care, including terminating a pregnancy.

Ah, those innovative folks from mass murder central as one person called Planned Parenthood who use such medical sounding words for killing a baby. Can you think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than to kill a baby at home -- the place where the mother will have months and years to meditate over the life she took. Maybe to dream (or nightmare) over what this child may have turned out to be. The love, the life, and the laughter.

Make no mistake about it, friend. We live in a culture of death where government wants to decide who lives or dies and make it convenient to murder (help terminate) those who society deems unfit for life -- the old, the infirm, the disabled. We see whole countries where no Downs Syndrome babies are born anymore because of the technology to determine beforehand which unborn babies have DS and then the legal right to terminate (kill) that child.

Do you see why God calls sin sin? It kills and destroys both spirit, soul and body. It kills and destroys the very awesome creation of God. That's why God hates sin and so should we. Love what God loves and hate what God hates. Keep alert, pray often and make sure you make your voice heard when it comes to the issues of life. Make sure you know where the candidates for public office stand on these issues and then vote for life.

Up North Wisdom says we know that ultimately God is in control of this old world but while we are living here as pilgrims, we have a responsibility to stand and speak for truth -- for life. If we don't, we will fall for anything. This is the day for faith and fearlessness. Put on your spiritual armor (Eph. 6) and nothing will ever be able to bring you down. You are on the winning side. I know because I just finished reading Revelation. The Best Is Yet To Come! Believe it!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Inconvenient Lie -- A Convenient Truth

As we are starting to find out, Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" documentary about global warming is really an inconvenient lie. It appears that climate change, formerly known as "global warming" is a fraud. Both conservative and liberal newspapers are now doubting so-called evidence about climate change that would have resulted in massive tax hikes to line the pockets of the climate change alarmists. Yes, we need to embrace energy conservation in the short term and generate more home-grown sources of energy in the long run, but we also need to bury junk global warming science once and for all.

Why make such a point? Do you want to really know "truth"? Even if it is inconvenient? The Bible says we are all sinners and need a Savior. We need to commit our lives to Christ and live the way we were created to live -- as extraordinary Christians. The Bible says Jesus is Truth and there is no other way to have eternal life. That is a truth that the world tries to bury. And sold-out-to-Christ Christians are branded as extremists who are a danger to our society. Why? Because we stand for truth -- real truth.

Truth like all human life is sacred because God created each of us. That includes life in the womb as well as the old and disabled. The intellectuals who promote the culture of death like the political "genius" who referred to some in Congress as "F*****ing retarded" are referred to in Romans 1:22 from the Message when it says: "They pretend to know it all, but are illiterate regarding life." I guess they would call that an inconvenient truth.

Here is the point I am really trying to get across right now. If you don't commit to being a person of God's Word, you will be led down many ways that are really false. Being a Christian requires faith and that faith will only come as you are into His Word. Faith comes by hearing, (taking in) God's Word. Grace is the source of all God's blessings and the path to extraordinary Christian living. And faith is the pipeline that allows us to tap into the unlimited supply of God's grace.

Up North Wisdom says we do not need to let our hearts be troubled or afraid if we are in Christ and His Word is in us. Don't be deceived, my friend. Ask God to give you a great desire for His Word. Commit yourself to embracing His truth and applying it to your life. And remember, for those who do: The Best Is Yet To Come! Believe it!

Now that's what I call "A Convenient Truth."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


"We're getting by." How often have I heard that phrase when I ask some married couples how they are doing in their marriage. In an informal poll that I conducted some years ago, wives felt that about 10 to 15 percent of the marriages they know about were really good marriages. The husbands give a more optimistic percentage of about 25 to 30. That tells me that even if I don't ask married couples how they are doing, I can assume that most aren't doing very well. "Getting by" seems to be the norm. That is tragic. I sometimes follow up with a question to that kind of response like, "Are you content to be 'getting by'? Is that your goal? Because if it is, you will easily succeed."

I wonder how many Christians are just "getting by" in their relationship with God. How about you, my friend? Are you content to just "get by" with God? He isn't and you shouldn't be either. I have noticed that so many people who have more recently come to know Jesus personally are definitely not content to stay the same. They have left their old life and want to grow in their relationship with God. They take advantage of opportunities to grow through Bible studies and personal devotions. They really listen to sermons on Sunday morning and ask themselves how they can apply the truths they have just learned. They ask me for resources to help them along in their Christian walk. They seek wise Christian counsel. In many cases they move right past so many "older" Christians who are content to "get by".

The problem with "getting by" is that we never remain the same even if we think we are. I think the Bible is clear that either we are growing in God's grace and knowledge or we are declining in our Christian life. We are either moving up or we are slipping back. Their is good reason why the Bible uses the husband-wife relationship analogy to talk about our relationship with Christ. It takes work to have a strong relationship with a spouse (or friend) as well as with Christ.

If you are not content to just "get by", then ask God to give you good motivation to move forward. God always answers that prayer, by the way. It's really not rocket science, is it? What worked when you first gave your life to Christ and were really "in love" with Him still works today. You know -- those foundational things like reading the Word, time in prayer, participating in Bible studies, giving yourself in service, seeking wise counsel and (yikes, yes) Fasting.

Up North Wisdom says: don't be afraid and don't let your hearts be troubled. God will help you. He always takes the first step. Ask Him for forgiveness for your coldness and distance in your Christian walk. I guarantee you, you can fall in love with Christ again and with the help of the Holy Spirit, not draw back to the old ways again. God intends for you to live an extraordinary Christian life because He is an extraordinary God and can do extraordinary things in your life if you will let Him. And, by the way, husbands and wives, it will work with you as well. Forgive each other, start afresh, and with God's help, move far away from "getting by" to the "extraordinary" marriage that not only God wants for you, but I know that you want as well. THE BEST IS YET TO COME! Believe it!