Thursday, February 25, 2016


"When you lose something you can't find it. I know exactly where she is."
-  NBA Coach Monty Williams, after his wife passed away

And bam! there it is. The quote heard around the world. Actually, Monty Williams entire 7 minute eulogy has reached epic proportions worldwide and for good reason. As a crowd of 900 hundred gathered to pay their respects, it is most likely they not only came away with peace, but inspired.

Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty William's wife Ingrid recently passed away from a car accident. Monty and his five children did what most families couldn't do, stand strong in faith.

Doctors told Monty when he was 18 years old not to play basketball anymore or he would die. Monty went on to continue playing at Notre Dame, then went to the NBA and played nine more seasons, before lending his talents to coaching. At Notre Dame, it was his future wife Ingrid who told him, "Jesus can heal you."

Within his inspired choice of words, Monty spoke of:

"God is Love."

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. (1John 4:16)

"We can't lose sight of the fact that God loves us."

I think everyone was amazed at how Monty carried himself so strong through this emotional time, but he also made light of the fact his wife would probably slug him if he had a pity party. Just that comment alone says how strong their faith was in God.

He would continue on saying,

"God causes all things to work out. It doesn't mean it will be hard or painful, but it will work out."

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Somehow I get the feeling Ingrid is looking down and beaming from ear to ear.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Knowledge = Better Vision

"The natural desire of good men is knowledge." - Da Vinci

While watching the film Jaws with my brother the other day, we were able to decipher some of the things we had learned about the making of this movie while visiting Universal Studios Hollywood. In this 1975 blockbuster film known as the first movie about sharks, some of the location of this movie was filmed in a back lot at Universal Studio.

In the movie they also used three motorized sharks, which were amazingly lifelike.
What is so great about Universal Studio in Hollywood is you learn about how movies are made, and the hidden secrets behind those special effects. Now that I have knowledge of how some movies were made, my viewership of a film now consists of more than just watching a film to be entertained.
On the Special Effects stage at Universal we learned how backdrops are used to illustrate a scene without ever having to be at the specific location. They used some of us guests to help stage a scene in a film where you are rowing in a boat with the backdrop of a body of water projected on a moving screen behind you.
Upon watching the 1954 film River of No Return starring Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum, I was able to quickly acknowledge the scene of Marilyn sure enough rowing a raft along a river which really wasn't there!
So, now that I have the knowledge of how films are made I can view them differently. Which leads me to this,
"How do we see God in light of our circumstances?"
If we have the knowledge of God's Word, especially the many stories of people being elevated above their circumstances, shouldn't we see our own circumstances in a different view while carrying that knowledge?
If we know the stories of how Noah was able to sustain a flood, Moses able to withstand some stiff-necked, rebellious Israelites while leading them in the desert, and Job able to come away doubly-blessed after losing everything, then maybe we should view our own situations differently, don't you think?
 Having knowledge and actually using that knowledge makes all the difference in the world and in how we should view life.
   In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. - 2 Peter 1:5-8


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Full Throttle

"I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship."
- Louisa May Alcott, 1800's novelist
The Disney film Finest Hours tells the true story of the greatest coast guard rescue in history, it happened in February 1952. Despite an enormous storm and against all odds, Bernie Webber and 3 of his crew go out on a lifeboat to rescue some sailors of an oil tanker caught in the storm off the Eastern seaboard.
The crew could have traveled a distance for a bigger coast guard boat, but settled on a quick solution since the rescue operation was near them; even if it was deemed impossible with the torrential snow, wind, cold and high winds. When they first tackled a gigantic wave to cross over a sandbar that everyone thought was impassable, my first thought was reminiscent of my first time out far in the middle of the Pacific ocean.
Three years ago we went on a whale watching tour in San Diego. The boat was bigger than a lifeboat, a boat that carried about 50-60 tourists. They took us for a ride about an hour and a half out to sea. While traveling out there, I was anxious to video tape and photograph much of the amazing scenery, but that wasn't to be. Once we got out to sea far from shore it was a bumpy ride on choppy waters, where we had to hold on for dear life. A couple tourists got sea sick and a child vomited. What I did not realize was the ride was going to be choppy because we were going against the current out to sea. Needless to say, the ride back into shore was smooth because we were riding with the current.
When Bernie and his crew got farther out to sea, the waves became bigger and he had to full throttle it to get over the waves. What raced through my mind while watching this film was all the storms in life we have to face. I can look back at many of the storms I faced and can honestly say I didn't
full throttle my faith. But, I did have someone standing behind me pushing me through every step of the way. For believers, we are told many times in scripture to full throttle our faith forward when facing storms, trusting in the One who is always there for us. Graham Cooke has a great perspective,
"Sometimes an obstacle is placed in front of us by God for the purpose of upgrading our vision and experiencing our dream at a higher level. To get above any problem, we must see it from a different height. We need the viewpoint from where God is standing."
Obstacles, or storms, are for our good if we approach them the way God intends for them to be, to build our faith.
Before Bernie went out on this daring rescue operation, the story tells us of his relationship with Miriam. The two of them plan to get married in April, but when Miriam finds out Bernie's captain has sent him out for this daring rescue, Miriam thinks this is a suicide mission. She tries to coerce the coast guard commander to call them back in.
This is the first daring rescue Bernie has had to make while being in a relationship with Miriam. In the story you kind of get the feeling that Miriam is clueless on what Bernie's job entails, and that if she is going to marry him, she will have to go through many traumatic events like this within their marriage.
Once the rescue operation is complete, and Bernie and his crew save 32 men in one of the most horrendous storms, Miriam's faith  has been elevated. She saw how Bernie prevailed in the most trying circumstances.
The storm elevated Miriam's faith to where she and Bernie would stay married for 58 years. Bernie Webber passed away in 2009.
The storms in life you face can either make you or break you. It's all up to you, how you approach them, and who you trust in. Remember, the Greater One that lives in you will never leave you nor forsake you.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Empty Tank

"Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing." - Oscar Wilde

Just as Oscar Wilde suggests, experiences are gonna cost you something. But with every experience comes great value. The cost? Heart ache, patience, and appreciation to name a few. Wait? Did you say appreciation? Yep, an appreciation that might not come so quickly as we want. Sometimes it may take years for an appreciation of that shock in awe experience or that obstacle you had to conquer. And every now and then a present experience will draw us back to those ah ha moments.

As a kid I spent many summer days hanging out with my gramps. Whether it was fishing, helping him paint, or helping him clean the church with the reward of lunch and a promise to be able to play hoops in the church gym, we were always together. And with it came many stories and lessons learned, mostly about faith.

A couple of weeks ago I posted about rescuing a stranded girl on a very cold night in the city of Chicago. That timely moment would not have happened if I didn't come one inch of the needle shy of running out of gas myself and having to scurry off to find the nearest gas station. This reminded me of a story my gramps had shared, an experience he shared at least a hundred times. After all, those ah ha moments in life are meant to be shared, right?

 Julius Caesar once said, "Experience is the teacher of all things." The following experience not only taught my gramps about faith, but restored my faith in the Greater One who lives within me:

Gramps was living in a farm town south of the south suburbs of Chicago. The road he lived on was just like all the others: a desolate farm road where all the farm houses had long driveways, so long that the actual house was at least half-a-mile from the road. Driving home after a mid-week evening bible study during a snow storm, gramps car ran out of gas. He was on one of those darkened, desolate farm roads about a mile from home. With the snow and wind swirling around he decided to just sit there in his car and pray. He then looked up in his rear view mirror and saw a car with it's lights on parked behind him, and a man carrying a gas can. Gramps got out of his car and approached the man who would ask, "Are you out of gas, sir?" The man would fill gramps car with gas. Once gramps got back in his car he forgot to thank the man, so he got back out of his car to thank him and the car was gone. Gramps said he never saw any lights or the car drive away.

For the hundreds of times I heard gramps tell this story in a sermon or to people in general, his voice or words of the story never wavered nor changed. One day when I was sixteen, gramps would take me down that same desolate road and would share that story again. That made his experience even more real to me. One that I'll never forget.

Remember, unexpected experiences or circumstances may break us or build us, it all depends on how we react. Faith can only happen through experiences; the more experiences the greater the faith.