broken but not crushed

Helping each other live successfully and abundantly in the face of brokenness.

Location: Columbus, Central Ohio, United States

Monday, October 23, 2006

Get up and Go!

Dear Fellow Travelers,
We’ve been taking a look at a few habits that ought to be common to every believer. We’ve called them the 6 Basic Disciplines of a Godly Person, and what we have discovered is that these disciplines, though common, are where the Devil fights his hardest in our lives. We’ve already looked at the first 2 concerning God’s Word and prayer, and today we look at #3 - Attend a Bible believing church for worship and fellowship - and go there often.

I have heard literally thousands of excuses why people didn’t go to church. I have also heard a few real reasons, but, let’s face it, most of the time our ‘reasons’ aren’t even good excuses. We know we’re supposed to get up and go - goodness, most even know that God himself said, “Do not forsake assembling together”. But I confess, sometimes, especially when you are broken, you really have to take hold of yourself by the scruff of the neck like a naughty puppy and make the extra effort or you’ll just sit home and watch TV. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Why is going to church so important? There are two primary reasons, in my humble opinion – worship and fellowship. But the truth is that these two cannot be separated from each other. We worship the Lord with our whole heart, and in church we share that experience with other people. God’s blessing then comes on the “body” of believers and we are changed together. How amazing! Let’s look at the list …

1. We need each other. In a recent survey 80% of respondents gave “to see friends or family” as either the first or second reason they go to church. The opposite is also true: we will only stay in a church if we believe we will make real friends there.

2. Worship is better together. Yes, it is possible to worship the Lord at home and we ought to, but there is something special about doing it in a group of like minded people.
a. We sing along even if we can’t sing all that well,
b. We pray together and draw strength from touching God together,
c. We sense God’s presence as a group and for some reason it feels more authentic.

3. We learn from each other, getting insights we might never have known – two [or more] heads really are better than one! From preacher, teacher, and just ordinary conversation in the hall our brains are engaged by being together.

4. We are encouraged by each other. We all need a pat on the back now and then – and when things are going rough on us we need the strength we get from others who love us. The flip side is also true, that is, when we are strong and things are right in our world, it is good for us to share our strengths with others.

5. We touch one another – actual, physical touching has healing and strength attached that cannot be explained. A simple touch is enormously powerful, especially in our detached, sterile world. A shared hug strips away some of the ugliness from our lives and leaves us feeling loved and cared for.

6. We celebrate each other’s victories and share each other’s sorrows. When you do something good it’s nice to be recognized for it, and when you are broken or burdened its great to have someone share the load. A friend can be the difference between failing and staying the course.

The bottom line is that the church body is our “other” family – sometimes more important to us than our biological one, and we REALLY DO NEED EACH OTHER! So, find a good church where the Bible is taught as truth, Jesus is Lord of all, God is worshipped in spoirit and in truth, and you get to share your life with a few good friends.

Until we meet again,

Friday, October 20, 2006

Dear Fellow Travelers,

“OK, Dwight, I’m reading and I’m praying, but how do I know if I’m getting through? I mean, how can I know that what I’m hearing is really God?” I hear you, friends. This whole spiritual journey we are on can sometimes be frustrating. Really, how DO you know it’s God talking and not some figment of your imagination or even worse, wishful thinking on steroids? As you might expect, I have an answer for you, and once again, it is from “The Book”.

Might I re-mention something first – recognizing God’s voice comes with practice. When my daughter calls on the phone I don’t have to guess who it is, I know who it is. I am familiar with her voice because I’ve heard it a thousand times and I want to hear it a thousand more.

Now, to today’s list. The following are six ways we can recognize God’s voice, that is, ways we can be sure that it is God talking and not something else.

1. God tends to speak gently. What a great story you will find in 1 Kings 19:11-13. If you are expecting this big booming voice sounding suspiciously like Carleton Heston with major reverb goin’ on, well, its not likely going to be like that at all.

2. God’s voice produces freedom. Matthew 11:28-30 I don’t mean to sound cryptic here – but so much of what we hear today causes conflict, stirs up trouble, or places the listener under some kind of obligation (bondage). But when God speaks we are better off after than we were at the start.

3. God tends to speak while we are consciously seeking him. Deuteronomy 4:29 and 2 Chronicles 7:14 Interesting, isn’t it? God is the ultimate gentleman – he does not intrude into our lives if we don’t want him there. Jeremiah 29 11-13 says “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

4. God speaks only the truth. Isaiah 45:19 as well as a whole bunch more – email me for more if you need them. In a world filled with lies and deception, political advertising and false religions, we desperately need to hear the truth, and God is bound by his own character to always be true.

5. God convicts only of specific sin. John 16:7-11 This is REALLY important. I’ve counseled so many people whose lives are short-circuited but have no idea why they feel “unforgivable” – they just somehow “feel bad” all over, like they are condemned. This is a lie from the pits of Hell itself. Yes, God does hate sin and convicts us when we are wrong, but he’s not EVER going to just make you just feel bad, or dirty, or useless. If you did wrong you will know the specific time and place, and, to be forgiven, you will need to confess and repent of specific sin, then stop doing it.

6. God does not confuse us. 1 Corinthians 14:33 Listen, if you are confused about an answer, the best course of action is to wait. God is NOT a God of confusion, but Satan is. Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord”. Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”. We can make bad decisions if we get impatient. Learn to take “what a while” for an answer and then wait until you get the assurance that you “know” God’s heart.

Well, I hope this helps when you are wondering if the voice you hear when you pray is God or last night’s pepperoni pizza. Joking aside, re-read the list and take it to heart. Study the scriptures attached to each one and find out what God has to say on the subject.

And until we meet again,

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Find Your Umbrella

Dear Fellow Travelers,

Let me tell you, Satan will do ANYTHING to keep you from connecting with your heavenly Dad. Our daily time with the Lord will be buffeted by every imaginable kind of storm and, well, we might as well face it, sometimes we get side tracked or off track. The Devil desperately wants you to give up, but there is great value to hanging in there. So, today I’m just going to remind you of two critically important things that I call “Umbrella Principles” (because they cover everything).

First, just like any good relationship, this is going to take time.

Time is a factor that we must never ignore because it is at the root of every good relationship. Goodness knows we live in a hurried world. All week long we jump out of bed at the last minute so we can rush the kids to school and ourselves to work, and after hours of rush projects we rush home, then rush through our microwaved dinner so we can rush the kids to soccer practice. On Sunday we rush through our shower and breakfast, hurry the kids and our spouse into the car and rush to church – and once we are there we rush to talk to ALL our friends before getting to the main service where we take our first real breath of the day while jotting notes in our PDA, all the while wondering how long the line will be at Bob Evans if the preacher preaches too long. Goodness, I can feel my blood pressure rising just writing it down!

Is it any wonder we don’t get much spiritual food in church?

Hey, if you are married you know that you didn’t meet your spouse and marry them the next afternoon, now, did you? Of course not. A good courtship takes time. You go to dinner and talk about “sweet nothings”. You stroll along a side street and, literally, stop to smell the roses. I mean real roses and real stopping. Amazing that the world didn’t collapse because we weren’t in such a rush, huh?

Listen – EVERY good relationship is going to require an investment of time, and so will your relationship with God. So don’t be in a hurry. Your time with God will get better if it is nourished and fed- and given time to develop - like any good relationship. And if you don’t plan to MAKE the time, it just won’t happen. Put time with God in your daytimer and put a star beside it as a priority – then don’t ignore your daytimer!

And while you’re at it, think a moment about the second umbrella principle – hearing clearly requires quiet.

It is NOISY out there, and if we allow our souls to be disengaged by the noise of natural existence we will never be able to hear God speak. And yes, God DOES speak to us mortals and he DOES give us clear directions for living. But I guess you’ll just have to tune in next time to see that list.

So, until then, find a quiet place and spend some time with your ‘Dad’.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Practical suggestions

Dear Fellow Travelers,

How are you doing out there in blogland? Are you keeping up with things or do you find yourself in a rush but not quite getting everything done?

Sadly, one of the first things to be dropped by the wayside when our lives get really busy is our private time with the Lord. Because we quite often can’t see immediate results we tend to make trade offs – we trade important things for urgent and we trade the permanent for the temporary. It is a natural phenomenon, but that doesn’t make it very smart, now does it.

The problem is, though, that if we don’t keep at it, our prayers become shallow, selfish, and ineffective. Do you want a powerful prayer life? I know I do, so here are some practical truths and some suggestions for having an effective prayer life - and note, they are all based on God’s Word!

1. The length of the prayer does not determine its value. (Matthew 6:7)

2. Effective prayers come from a humble heart. (Luke 18: 9-14)

3. Be specific. God wants to grant the desires of your heart. (Psalm 20:4)

4. Ask according to God’s will and his Word. (James 4:3 and 1 John 5:14)

5. Pray in faith and with thanksgiving. (Philippians 4:6)

6. Don’t give up! Persevere in prayer. (Luke 11:5-10)

Well, give these thoughts a try and see if they improve the effectiveness of your time with God. If the Bible is true – and it is – then you should be on your way to powerful praying!

Keep up the good work,

Friday, October 13, 2006

Next stop on our Journey

Dear Fellow Travelers,

Let’s take another step in our shared journey into the basic disciplines of the godly person. We’ve been talking, in the last few blogs, about getting into God’s Word, the Bible. I hope and pray that you’ve gleaned some insight into new and different ways to connect with your heavenly Dad and to hear what he’s saying to you, personally.

Today we turn down a different street in our disciple’s village. As we examine the addresses on the houses we find one that is called ‘prayer’ – easily one of the most talked about yet most misunderstood of the spiritual disciplines. Though it might seem like we are getting the cart before the horse, one of the first question that comes to most people’s minds is “how does God answer prayer? So here are the “Five Ways God Answers Prayer”, according to the Bible.

1. “I love you too much to answer yes.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Let’s be honest, everything we ask God for isn’t really good for us, and He knows better than to give us what we want. Remember Garth Brook’s song “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers”.

2. “No, not yet. You must wait for my timing.” Daniel 2: 20, 21 and John 11: 13-15 Hey, I get in a hurry, too! But God’s timing is always better than ours so we’ve got to learn to wait a while – ugh!

3. “I hear you, and if you insist, I’ll say yes. But this is not the best for you and you will soon discover that.” Psalm 106:15 It is true. God sometimes gives us the desires of our hearts - even when he knows we’ll be sorry for it later. These are lessons in waiting on God, realizing we aren’t as smart as we think we are, and learning to trust. Hard, sometimes painful lessons, for sure.

4. “YES, I though you would never ask!” Matthew 7:7-11 God really IS our heavenly Dad, and just like good dad’s everywhere, he loves to give his kids good gifts – and in His case, he can afford to give everything he wants to give. Now THAT’S cool!

5. “Yes, and here is even more than you asked or even dreamed you could have.” 1 Kings 2:12, 13 and Ephesians 3: 20. From his never ending supply he can even outstrip our imagination. In fact, right now God is planning for you things that are beyond your wildest dreams.

Well, as far as I can tell these are the primary ways, according to the Bible, that God answers when we call. And no, I don’t really like the “wait” or the “no” any more than you do, but they are necessary for us so they are part of God’s plan. Remember, He doesn’t do anything that is for our harm, even when it seems that way at first, and even along the way. I, too , have a lot of questions for him when he releases me from this broken body, but until then, I – and you – are asked to trust. So I do.

Well, until next time, remember discipline #2 - Pray - at first, just do it, then keep at it until your prayers are powerful and effective.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Practical "Do It's"

Dear Fellow Travelers,

The past couple days I’ve been in the woodshop and have had great times. But my mind has also been running over this whole business of talking to you about getting into God’s Word. We all know it is really important, but, sadly, it can also become tedious – or boring. No, I’m not being sacrilegious, but seriously, folks, if we don’t vary the approach we will, sooner or later, just stop. We both know that!

We can fix it in several ways. Yep, another list.

1. Read or listen to different versions. There are lots of them out there and lots of ways to buy them inexpensively online. Just make sure they are the real thing – some groups have generated strange “versions” of the Bible that are really off the wall. And for pity’s sake, get something up to date. One more 300 year old version isn’t likely going to change your attitude.

2. Write your own version. I don’t mean sit down with a quill pen and copy the whole thing like a monk. Rather, choose a scripture that is meaningful to you, or is complex, or that causes a question in your mind, then write your own version in your own hand. Mine is called the PDV – Pastor Dwight’s Version. It’s my favorite version to quote – in fact, I’ve used it in my blogging so you’ve already seen it.

3. Take smaller bites. Sometimes we think we have to ‘finish the chapter’ or we haven’t actually “had our devotions”. Baloney! Sometimes a few words are enough to jumpstart our thinking toward spiritual issues so don’t become personally legalistic. What a drag!

4. Remember that your attitude will determine your altitude. If every time you sit down to read your Bible you are thinking “well, here we go again” it’s not likely going to change your day much. Just think, you get to hear God talk to you – and how cool is that !!!

5. Also remember, there is one ingredient that defines every relationship – time. So plan to make the time necessary. Do not relegate your time with God to whatever might be left over – because we both know there is seldom any time “left over”, and then you are exhausted.

6. Create a sacred place where you and God meet regularly. A certain chair, a place at your desk, a corner of the basement or spot under the tree. Just pick a place and go there to read and pray every day (we’ll talk about that tomorrow), preferably at the same time every day. It’s like an appointment for dinner with your sweetheart – something you wouldn’t miss for anything.

7. Take a break. “Oh my goodness are you saying its OK to stop reading for a while?” I sure am. I love to eat. But I tell you, after Thanksgiving dinner and three kinds of pie, I’m not really all that interested in more - even steak or ice cream. Take a vacation that will allow your mind to hunger once again for the real soul food and water that the Bible is. And remember, vacations are short. Take a break, then get back in the habit.

My oh my, I’ve gone on longer than I figured on. Please know that these lists are intended to jog your thinking and are not anywhere near a completed essay on the subject. They are just ideas that work. The most important rule in Bible reading is well said in the Nike commercial – just do it!

Till we meet again,

Friday, October 06, 2006

A list on the list in the list - huh?

Dear Fellow Travelers,
It would appear that I struck a nerve with yesterday’s blog. Lot’s of folks have written or called to tell me that this “simple yet profound” list was actually a bunch of lists inside a bigger list. They are right. Tell you what – let’s take a closer look at the lists inside the list before I throw another big list at you. We’ll start today - OK?

The first of those disciplines was “Get into God’s Word - read it, study it, memorize it, think about it (meditate), share it.”

Read it. The obvious place to begin. Most people have their big difficulty starting the habit of just reading it on a regular basis. Once the habit is established it is much easier to move onto the next parts of the list. And there are lots of different ways to read the Bible, too. Wow, a list inside the first list that was in the list. Pretty cool! Here are a few ideas you might like to try.

1. Pick a book of the Bible – not the whole thing, just one book – and read it like a novel: that is, read it for ‘fun’. You will find some really good, enjoyable, engaging stories this way. Old Testament history books like Samuel or Nehemiah, or love stories in Esther and Ruth are likely ‘true novels’.

2. Read a shorter book all the way through to get the big picture. Ephesians or Philippians can actually be read in less than 15 minutes and the benefits are immeasurable.

3. In the back of most Bibles you’ll find a thing called a concordance. Pick a word and just find out what the Bible has to say about that one word. As a cabinetmaker I love searching for tree species to find out who used them and what they were used for.

4. The old fashioned “chapter a day keeps the devil away”. Be careful – you can get pretty legalistic about this and end up reading but not retaining the information.

5. Take your Bible outside and read a Psalm out loud. Um, not at your neighbor’s window – you won’t likely win them to Jesus and you might lose a friend! But out in the woods, by a stream or a pond, reading to the squirrels and rabbits – an unbelievable experience! David was an outdoorsman and reading his Psalms outside and out loud makes them come alive.

6. Jot one verse on a note card in your own handwriting and put it in your pocket and every time you run into it through the day just read it one more time. Don’t be hard on yourself – some days you’ll read a verse 20 times and others you’ll get to it only twice. And as you read, just allow it to talk to you instead of you trying to read something into it. You’ll discover a “living” word from God for you – very powerful!

These are just a few ideas to jump start your reading of God’s Word. Just remember that God desperately wants a relationship with you and this is one special way he talks to us.

Enjoy a ‘good book’ today.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Boat is Listing

Dear Fellow Travelers,

Over the years I have had occasion to write lots of stuff. As a Pastor I have written somewhere between 500 and 600 sermons. As a student / studier I’ve taken literally thousands of notes (maybe tens of thousands!) which I then turned around and taught others as a teacher (where those poor people took more notes). I have written two books and a third is in the works (if I could only find a publisher for the second two!). Then you add years worth of journaling, love notes to my wife, help with my children’s homework, notes to myself so I won’t forget where I wrote all this stuff, music scores, and hundreds upon hundreds of architectural drawings of buildings, floor plans, kitchens, bathrooms, and maybe a good thousand pieces of furniture.

Yep, I’ve written a LOT of stuff!

And I’ve encountered lots of lists in all my writing, something I thought about the other day as I blogged and gave you the list of 4 things that made up “The Principle of the Harvest”. So, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll do a little searching in all that stuff I wrote and find a few important lists that might be of some help to someone out there in blogville. They might also come in handy as you try to live out your Christianity in a world that’s gotten a little rough on Christians.

The first list is very simple and very basic. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t profound. I have discovered that some of the most profound things in the world are actually very simple to say, and then are quite hard to do. This is one of those kinds of lists. I have referred to it many times over – this is surely an everyday kind of list. These are ...

The Six Disciplines of a Godly Person

1. Get into God’s Word - read it, study it, memorize it, think about it (meditate), share it
2. Pray - at first, just do it, then keep at it until your prayers are powerful and effective
3. Attend a Bible believing church for worship and fellowship - and go there often.
4. Give generously of your time, talents, and treasures (resources, money, etc.)
5. Find someone you trust who will hold you accountable - going it alone is dangerous.
6. Tell someone else about the Good News that Jesus loves them and died for them.

Well, there’s my first list for your consideration. Um, you might want to grab a piece of paper and write it down. Then, if you have the time, let me know what you think. And after considering what the ramifications of doing this list are for you, why not try it? I guarantee a better relationship with your heavenly Dad if you do..

Till next time,

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Divine Point of View

Good afternoon fellow travelers,
I was looking at Sam’s blog ( ) and the great pictures of the incredible veggies he is growing and a thought came to mind. The Bible has a lot to say about harvesting. In fact it includes a really cool principle - “The Principle of the Harvest”. Mind if I share it with you?

FYI first: a Biblical principle is a generality from God’s point of view that applies to many situations. In short, it is God’s perspective on a given subject. Here’s the basis for the “Principle of the Harvest” (found, but the way, in all three of the first gospels - Matthew chapter 13, Mark chapters 3 & 4, and Luke chapter 8).

1. You won’t reap unless you sow
2. You reap in direct proportion to how much you sow
3. The size of the harvest is partly dependant on where you sow
4. You will reap what you sow

This simple principle applies to many different aspects of life – from whether you will pass that math test next week to how many widgets you will sell for XYZ Corp. It is the determining factor in how much you will accomplish for the Lord and how you will handle a life situation – like brokenness - which you find yourself unable to change. It is also one of the guiding principles in raising kids.

Did you know that God has a point of view about most everything? He does, and the really cool thing is that he really truly WANTS you to know his opinion. That way you can make wise decisions based on the best facts available – HIS! And the best part is that God wants us to know his opinion so much that He’s gone to all the trouble to have a whole bunch of authors write - in their own style - a book that lets us in on the secrets. Yep, it’s the Bible, a book I love and recommend without reservation to you.

Have a great day, and I’ll be back soon!

Just another beggar showing you where to find bread,

Monday, October 02, 2006

I'm back!

Dear Friends,
Over the last week I’ve had no less than 7 people ask me where my blog was. They then told me they and their friends read it religiously and that they all got a lot from it, and now they missed it. Truth be told, I took a break. When I started blogging I really didn’t intend to work so hard at it. Honestly, I found myself spending more time, energy, and passion writing those blogs than I was able to invest. I read other people’s blogs and it seemed they just wrote what was in their hearts and let the chips fall where they fell.

So, I decided to take a break, evaluate what I had done, get some feedback from people (a shot in the dark), and figure out why it wasn’t any fun anymore. Surely this medium of blogging was supposed to be more enjoyable than what I was experiencing – and to be truthful, I wasn’t even sure very many people even cared. So I stopped. And for nearly a month not one soul even wrote or called to ask why. Obviously that statistic has changed.

In the meantime I’ve been working in my woodshop, started an online store with Susie, and got a regular weekly program and have been interviewing political characters at the Voice Corp radio station. I’ve also been working in my studio - wrote a new song and sequenced and recorded several others. I’ve also had an article published in the September / October issue of Holiness Today called “Connecting With the Broken”. It’s published in 14 languages and over the internet and podcast – hey, I’m an internationally published author – pretty cool, huh!

I guess you could say I haven’t exactly been sitting around with my hands folded in my lap. But I really DO want to get back to blogging now that I know someone out there is reading my stuff. But it might look and feel a little different from what was there before – a little less polished and a bit more “real”, at least from my point of view. That way I don’t have to work so hard to get out what I want to say. And that way I will WANT to do it instead of it being something I thought I HAD to do.

So until next time, hang in there my friends. I really AM glad to be back…

Still learning,