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Life Laying Down Love

On a relatively warm January Friday few weeks ago, I was helping my 84-year-old dad on his farm. As usual, he had a list of things for us to get done while I was there.  My time was starting to grow short. So, as he was putting the tractor away from a just finished task, I was already headed to the barn to start pulling together what we’d need for the next project.

Then it hit me! Why was I rushing on ahead without him? Was finishing the list of things-to-do really that important?

I turned around and waited for Dad to park the tractor. I thought with we’d walk and chat along the way to the barn.  Instead, he stopped and pointed to something out in the field and started talking.  We stood there for fifteen or twenty minutes in conversation. The list of things-to-do didn’t get finished, but that conversation was the very best part of the day!

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”  (1 John 3:16, NIV)

Being a disciple of Jesus requires “life laying down” love. And like that day on the farm, loving as Jesus requires may mean laying down your agenda long enough to just stop and chat. It might mean laying down your desire to always be the one who wins. Perhaps it means not retaliating when someone has hurt or offended you. Maybe it’s… well you fill in the blank. 

Being Jesus’ disciple means living out this “life laying down” love.  My prayer for you, and me, is that we’ll say “yes” and follow!

Your partner on the journey,

Pastor Steve 


I was working in the front yard while keeping an eye on my 4-year-old son. He was messing around on the front porch, but generally behaving, at least as 4-year-old boys go. “Hey Daddy, look what I can do!” Swinging around, I saw his head stuck through the wrought iron railing and a big smile. I laughed and said, “Okay, now get you head out of there before you mom gets home and we both get in trouble.”

“I can’t! I’m stuck!” Rolling my eyes, I said, “You got your head in there, just get it out the same way. Figure it out.”  “I can’t Daddy,” his voice now a bit frantic. “Help me!” Now close enough to get a good look, I had no idea how that kid got his head in between those railings. His head was just too big to fit into that space; the general idea of a porch railing by the way. We tried turning his head at different angles, greasing up his head with hand lotion to help it slip through, even tried prying the railing apart, but it was too strong. Now my son was crying and my blood pressure is rising. We were a sight to see, I’m sure. 

When my son saw me come out of the garage with a hack saw, he started wailing even louder thinking I was going to cut his head off.  It took a while, but I finally got one railing cut through and was then able to bend it enough so he could barely squeeze through. To this day, I don’t know how he did that.

It may not be always be a “kid with their head stuck in a porch railing” kind of emergency, but something is always screaming for our attention. As followers of Jesus, no matter what else is going on, one thing is to always be our priority… especially in the church.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16, NIV)

My prayer for you, me, and the church is that we will always prioritize the tough and redemptive love of God. That’s what Christ did for us (just think cross) and we are Christ’s church!

You partner on the journey,

Pastor Steve 

Painful Lesson

I needed to run by the house in-between errand stops on a sketchy winter weather morning a few years ago. The cloudy sky and frigid temperatures had done nothing to melt the spotty patches of black ice on the street. Slowly driving down our street, I remember thinking, “I should pull into the garage before I get out, just in case there’s any ice on the driveway.”

But I was in a hurry. It would take longer to wait for the garage door to open and pull in, than it would to go in for the item I needed. So, I parked in the driveway, left the car running, got out, and started carefully toward the house. If you’ve ever wondered about people who’ve fallen on ice and say the first thing they knew they were hitting the ground… wonder no more. 

I don’t remember falling. I do remember the full force of my shoulder being pounded into the concrete. For a moment, I thought I would pass out from the pain. With nobody home, out of the line sight from the street, and the temperature in the single digits… being unconscious didn’t sound like a great idea. I rolled over, managed to stagger up, and on into the house. 

Just because something is easier, doesn’t make it good.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you that you must not oppose those who want to hurt you… You have heard that it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you…”                                 (Matthew 5:38-39, 43-44, CEB)

Rather than retaliate, Jesus calls his followers to live out tough love when others seek to harm them; to love and pray for enemies. As biblical scholar Doulas Hare asks, “Why does Jesus expect the impossible of us?” Maybe it’s because tough love is redemptive for both those so loved… and for those so loving. 

Who would know better than Jesus?

Your partner on the journey,

Pastor Steve 

A Muddy Mess

My dad was going to be gone for a couple of days, leaving our farm operation in the hands of his three high school aged sons. In his parting words, we were told not to drive the tractors down the lane because we’d probably get stuck in the mud. The next day I was in a hurry and drove a tractor down said “off limits” lane to get to a back field. Nothing was going to happen and no one, including my dad, would ever know. 

If you’ve ever wondered if it’s possible to get a tractor stuck in the mud within a foot of the back axile, let me just assure that it is.

Lucky for me it got cold enough that night for the ground to be “somewhat” frozen the next morning. I talked my older into trying to pull the stuck tractor out with another one. I breathed a real sigh of relief when the partially frozen mud allowed that to happen. However, as I stood there surveying the scene, the evidence was undeniable. My dad was returning home later that day and I knew I had to do. But it hurt to think about his response of anger, frustration, and disappointment that would come my way and that I knew I deserved. 

We walked to the scene of the crime before it got dark that evening. As we stood there surveying the damage, my frustrated father shared the importance of following his instructions and how despite the wisdom of my teenage years, there were often times when he really did know what he was talking about. All I could do was apologize again. 

Then Dad started talking about how “we” needed to get the lane back in shape, something that had been neglected for a while. He asked if I had any ideas. I thought it bit and shared a few things. In a few minutes “we” had a plan. That was a really good day!

As it was with my dad, so it is with God. The aim of God’s tough love is for all of us to be enfolded into God’s embrace. Click here to listen to more.

Your partner on the journey,

Pastor Steve 


Today, is a federal holiday in our nation marking the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the great American civil rights leader. On August 28, 1963 at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. he delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Here are a few excerpts. 

“I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood… I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream that one day down in Alabama… little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today…

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring… we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”

“There is neither Jew nor Greek; neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus… It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 3:28, 5:1 CEB).

Rev. King’s American dream is God’s dream too. As followers of Jesus Christ, it is to be our dream and mission as well. May our thoughts, words, and actions always show that it is so!

Your partner on the journey,

Pastor Steve 

Only One

“No one can serve two masters…” Matthew 6:24 (NIV)

Last Wednesday’s (January 6) events in Washington D.C. have left many of us shaken, some shaken to the core. A few days after what took place in our nation’s capital, someone shared with me that the events of that day and since had reminded them that what we say matters. What we don’t say matters. What we do matters. What we don’t do matters. 

I couldn’t agree more! 

If there was ever a time for people of faith, for followers of Jesus, for the Church to be who God calls us to be, it is such a time as this! The Bible is clear, Christians lives are to be centered on and to revolve around one person and one person only. That person is Jesus Christ! What Christians say and do is to be directed by Jesus. 

The world is watching. Our nation is watching. Our community is watching. Our families, friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow students… our children and grandchildren… are all watching. They are watching to see if Christians… if I… will be centered on, revolve around, and be directed by Jesus Christ as we claim, or if it’s something or someone else. 

It’s time to come out of the shadows! You can listen to more at

Your partner on the journey,

Pastor Steve 

Tripped Up

“A person’s steps are made secure by the Lord when they delight in his way. Though they trip up, they won’t be thrown down, because the LORD holds their hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24, CEB)

I came upon this Scripture on New Year’s Day as I mulled over 2020 and thought about 2021 to come. 

To borrow the psalm writer’s words, we were “tripped up” so many times by 2020! Our world, nation, communities, churches, and families faced so many unexpected challenges. That’s true for each of us personally as well. Some challenges were handled well and others not so well. 

What’s next in 2021? When will the pandemic end? When will life be “normal” again? Will anyone else I know and love suffer from COVID-19? How much farther will divisiveness separate us? Can systemic racial injustice be removed once and for all?

Into these questions and the uncertainty they can bring, God’s word echoes loud and clear: “A person’s steps are made secure by the Lord when they delight in his way.” Our journey of life can be secure IF we delight in and follow who God is, where God leads, what God calls us to do and be. We’ll still be tripped up now and then; that’s just life in a sinful and imperfect world.  But we “won’t be thrown down!”  Why not? God holds our hands!

No matter what the New Year brings, whether you’re “tripped up” or standing on solid ground, my prayer for you is the same. I pray you’ll know 2021 for the great year it can be as you delight in God’s way and are held firmly by God! 

Your partner on the journey,

Pastor Steve