My Dream Girl






I watch over her as she sleeps.
I wonder if she dreams.

Such innocence.
Such purity.
Such potential, tightly spun and woven in soft rolls of baby flesh.

She smiles. Simple reflex or God-given joy?
She stretches. Waking from deep eternal slumber. Waking to new eternal wonder.
She cries. Hunger awakens. Poop happens. Hurt occurs.
She sees. Eyes meet. Hearts bond. Love grows.

I watch over her as she sleeps.
And I wonder in her dreams.

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Writing for My Biggest Fan: Sally

I suppose my wife Sally is my biggest fan. Actually, she is my only fan, since it appears she is the only one who reads my blog. Sally doesn’t always get my blogs, but she does enjoy the humorous ones.

Here’s her favorite:

Sally likes funny and sarcastic, but that is difficult to produce on demand. It comes pretty natural for me in conversations or while posting on facebook, but it’s quite another thing to sit down and intentionally write funny sarcasm. (Consider this post for example!)

My greatest joy in life is making my wife laugh. I use it as often as possible as a way of distracting her from being mad at me. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes she’s too far past the point of no return, and the chance of getting her to laugh falls somewhere between her actually murdering me and having sex with me. Murder > Laugh > Sex = Screwed.

Sally has two laughs, which really makes me envious, because I don’t have any. My laugh is totally inaudible. The hearing-impaired are more likely to witness my laughter than the blind. Sally’s laugh track consists of the “guffaw” and the “shakes.” Her guffaw is a female version of her late father’s. It’s a kind of forced, boisterous laugh that can often scare little children. But it’s her “shakes” laughter that is my all time favorite. When I can get her to laugh and vibrate at the same time, I know she thinks I’m funny (and in good standing). And isn’t that what life’s all about?

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“Idle” Worship – How Did We Get Stuck Worshiping a Sacred Cow?

I’ve always been fascinated by the Exodus story. As a kid I loved watching Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 epic, “The Ten Commandments.” It set a new standard in movie making with its massive crowd scenes and special effects. But with all the splendor of such an incredible saga, I remember becoming so dismayed as I watched Charlton “Moses” Heston come down from Mt. Sinai with his stone tablets, only to find the Israelites dancing around a golden statue of a calf. I was dismayed because I thought, “Why in the world, after all they’ve been through and after all YHWH did for them, would they resort to skipping around a golden bovine statue?”

Apparently, the Israelites decided it would be preferable to be able to see the god they worshiped, instead of worshiping some invisible, mysterious God. Sure, this invisible God had freed them from captivity and had miraculously provided them with food and water when they took a wrong turn in the desert, and who can forget the incredible display of power in parting the Red Sea? But I guess it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to have a pillar of fire displayed by night and a massive cloud hovering by day, they wanted something more earthy and solid. Something they could hold on to and control. Something they could form themselves.

As I was reading through Exodus the other day, I noticed something. The story of the Golden Calf is in Exodus 32, but just three chapters before that in Exodus 29, I read about the consecration of the priests. This was a process commanded by God as a way to prepare and set apart Moses’ brother, Aaron, along with his sons, to perform the sacrificial worship. In verse one of chapter 29 is says, “Take a young bull and two rams without defect.” It goes on to tell them how and what to sacrifice, where to put the blood and guts and such, and does so in great detail; very thorough and explicit instructions from the Lord Himself.

So this is what caught my attention and got me thinking; Israel was instructed about how to worship using a young bull and two rams, etc. and then three chapters later, while Moses was on the mountain, apparently taking his own sweet time up there, the Israelites got antsy and decided to take it upon themselves to fashion their own idol to worship, a golden calf. I wonder if they were thinking, “You know, YHWH told us to take a young bull without defect to sacrifice for Him, so wouldn’t it be even cooler if we made one out of our most precious jewelry and have our artists cast a GOLD statue of a calf without any defects?! All in favor, say ‘aye’!”

So is it possible the church today is capable of doing the same thing? We’ve been instructed in how and what to worship using music and art, the Bible and Communion; using it all for the worship and glory of God. But isn’t it possible that we have taken these resources for worship and formed them in to our own idols? Instead of focusing on God, we focus on excellence in performing arts, or we start actually worshiping the Bible, focusing on it to the exclusion of the Triune God. Some in the church get more joy in arguing over biblical interpretation than they do in humbling themselves in worship before God. Some in the church has turned Communion into a superstition and ritual that has become their object of worship, instead of using the Table to proclaim the hope of the Gospel. I suppose it’s just human nature, not unlike the Israelites thousands of years earlier who got stuck in “idle” worship turning the elements of worship into the object of worship. Sacrifices are meant to be sacrificed, not worshiped.

What’s your golden calf?

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The Rescue

As soon as she entered the place, everyone in the room knew she was upset. Her face was beet red and she let everyone know how she was feeling. I’ve seen this kind before; loud and mad, not caring what other people thought of them or their tirade. But she was different. For one thing, I had deep empathy for her. Obviously, she had been traumatized. She was having a difficult time explaining herself, but I could tell from her condition, wet and naked, that she had been through some major ordeal. Someone quickly brought a blanket over and covered her up.

Usually when I come across someone so dramatic and needy, I flee. I would do anything I could to avoid them. I don’t feel qualified to help them. It appears too overwhelming, so I turn away. But not her; I was drawn to her. Somehow, I felt that everything would be okay if I could just get my hands on her and hold her. This was so unlike me, but as I looked around the room, I saw that I was not the only one who felt this way. We were all coming to her rescue, or so we thought.

You see, in reality, she was coming to our rescue. She let us know that she had come to give us a new perspective on life. She had come to let us know that God hadn’t forgotten about us. No, she was not able to verbalize that message with words, as she was still unable to speak, but we all got the message loud and clear. In her distinct way, she said, “It’s not about you, so stop being so self-centered. Life’s not about having more stuff, so stop spinning your wheels at work trying to get ahead. And it’s not about being independent; we are all made for relationships. None of us can survive in isolation.”

When she finally settled down, I thought to myself, “Wow, she is wise beyond her years!”

Indeed, she is my newborn granddaughter and she has come to rescue me.

My rescuer, Kaiah Jo Miller, born October 22, 2011 at 10:11 a.m. weighing in at 8 lbs. 2 oz.

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Who is Consuming our Worship?

How do we contextualize the gospel to a consumer-driven culture without becoming a consumer-driven church? That is the challenge of the church in America. But I’m afraid we are not doing a very effective job. Instead of transforming our culture of consumers into worshipers, most of our churches have conformed to the American culture that puts its highest value on “The customer is always right.” Now that wouldn’t be a totally bad thing if we recognized God as our true Customer. But I’m afraid we are more geared toward pleasing the American customer when it comes to designing corporate worship experiences. Consequently, our worship gatherings have become tools for attracting customers or consumers, and not true God-focused worship.

Here are a few thoughts I have on the difference between worship that blesses an “All-Consuming” God and worship that seeks to bless “all consumers”:

 True All-Consuming worship is set on meeting the desires of God.

False “all consuming” worship is set on meeting the desires of ourselves.

 True All-Consuming worship is more concerned about the presence of God.

False “all consuming” worship is more concerned about the presence of others.

True All-Consuming worship is a gathering of Worshipers.

False “all consuming” worship is a gathering of Consumers.  

 True All-Consuming worship is motivated by need.

False “all consuming” worship is motivated by greed.

True All-Consuming worship is directed towards God.

False “all consuming” worship is directed towards people.

True All-Consuming worship requires participation.

False “all consuming” worship requires performance.

 True All-Consuming worship is Counter-Cultural.

False “all consuming” worship is Culture-Driven.

 True All-Consuming worship is driven by gratitude.

False “all consuming” worship is driven by envy.

Wow, what a difference one little hyphen makes in our worship! I pray we can stop approaching church and worship as consumers, and instead pour out our lives in an “All-Consuming” worship for an “All-Consuming” God.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”                                                                    Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV)

Can you think of a time or experience where you found yourself caught up in acting more like a consumer instead of a worshiper? What has helped you move away from being a consumer of church and worship and into being a true worshiper?

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Riley, the Codependent Squirrel: True Hollywood Story

It’s Friday and I’m not in the mood for seriousness. I wrote this yesterday as an introduction to my lesson on “Relapse” in Celebrate Recovery. You’ll have to be from St. Louis to get this. Enjoy the foolishness!

Riley the Codependent Squirrel

Riley, the codependent squirrel, lived in the basement of his parent’s home along the banks of the Mississippi River. Riley had recently returned home after his second failed attempt at Squirrel College. It seemed he never could get the hang of studying with all the distractions of fraternity life and his other extra-curricular activities. Who had time to study when there were parties to attend and hundreds of girls to date? He had a weakness for the ladies. Just seeing them scamper across campus made his tail flutter with excitement. But his greatest passion was playing the banjo.

On his first day back in the basement, his mom got up extra early in the morning to fix a big hearty breakfast of acorns and black walnut pancakes. She knew this was Riley’s favorite meal. She loved doting over her son and seeing his eyes light up whenever he sat down at the kitchen table. But she also had other reasons to make his extra-favorite breakfast. She wanted to make sure Riley was up and out of the house before his dad, Harley Squirrel, came down and started in on him being a lazy-good-for-nothing-son-of-a-squirrel.

“Oh, Riley -boy, it’s time to get up! Breakfast is on the table. I fixed your favorite, acorn and black walnut pancakes.”

Riley just grunted and rolled back over in his warm, comfy nest.

“Riley, come on now. It’s time to get up,” mom pleaded.

“Just five more minutes mom!”

“No son, get up now, you don’t want to get in trouble from your daddy. The pancakes are getting cold. Please dear.”

“Listen to me ol’ lady, I’m not hungry! I was out late last night and I over did it on the beer and peanuts. I’m gassy and I have a headache. Please leave me alone and let me sleep.” With that, Riley turned over and pulled the covers over his head.

Mom Squirrel let out a deep sigh. “What am I gonna do with that boy?”

Just then she heard her husband heading down for breakfast, so she busied herself getting his breakfast on the table and making his sack lunch. She prayed that he wouldn’t get upset that Riley was still in bed.

Harley wasn’t much of a morning squirrel, so he didn’t speak when he walked into the kitchen; no “good morning” or “how did you sleep?” Nothing. He just grabbed the paper, his fork and plate and started in on the pancakes while checking the scores of last night’s game in the Nut-Dispatch. After a couple of bites, he put down the paper and looked up at his wife.

“What’s the special occasion, why am I getting acorn and black walnut pancakes? Today isn’t Saturday.”

“Well, Riley is back home and I just wanted to make something special for his first breakfast,” she answered nervously.

“So where is he? Don’t tell me he already eaten and gone to find a job.”

“Well, no, actually he’s still downstairs…asleep.”

“Are you squirrelin’ me?!” Dad blasted back. “Why isn’t he out looking for work? I told him there was an opening down at the nut factory. All he had to do was get there early in the morning and be the first in line and he’d for sure be hired.”

“But he was out late last night, doing who-knows-what, and he’s not feeling well,” mom explained.

“And that’s it?!”Dad barked. “That makes it ok to stay in bed all day?Because he was out partying last night? I’ve spent the last 30 years cracking my nuts at the factory so I could send him off to college in order for him to get a good paying job, but instead he flunks out, twice, only to return home and live in my basement and eat my food, without even a thank you. I won’t stand for this!” Dad bellowed, his tail frantically waving about.

“Well dear, you know he’s had lots of issues and we thought he was doing so much better. I know he still failed his second attempt at school, but at least he has dealt with his addiction to circus peanuts and French fries. That shows he’s trying. Let’s give him some time to regroup before kicking him out of the nest again.” Mom always did her best to point out Riley’s successes.

“Time to regroup?!  My big, fluffy tail!” Dad shouted. “Mother, wake up and smell the cashews. Obviously Riley has relapsed again”

He grabbed the morning paper and showed mom the front page. Mom couldn’t believe her eyes. There on the front page was Riley, once again, making a scene and disrupting the ball game. Indeed he had relapsed again.

Riley AKA. Rally Squirrel

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Why I Write (Blog)

My mind is a whirlwind of dreams and schemes;

Spinning and twirling about, absent rhyme.

These thoughts seek escape from the chaos within,

Perhaps through some portal of mine.



First means of escape comes quickly discovered

As ideas find their way to my tongue

The distance was near and the words start to form

But expressions aren’t easily sung.



Ideas that were aimed to be beautifully said

Are awkward and crudely adorned

It seems the distance between brain and my mouth

Leaves no room for clarity formed.



The goal of these word-dreams continues to be

The path of expression and life

With passion they flow through my arms and my hands

And finds true release as I type.



The keys are small stages of actors and plots

As fingers paint scenes with each word

If not for my typing and writing each thought

My story would never be heard.




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